March 2017

March 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Intermittent Fasting

Not too long ago I completed a free online form that determined my body type and why I'm not losing weight despite counting calories and working out regularly. One of the main suggestions to help end my weight plateau was to put off breakfast 2-3 hours. In other words, I should fast longer each day.

Then, more recently, one of the YouTubers I follow said he was currently on the Intermittent Fasting program, fasting 16 hours and consuming food only within an 8-hour window. During that 8-hour period, he made healthy choices and stayed within the suggested calorie count for his body type.

So, beginning last night, I decided to try Intermittent Fasting. I stopped eating at 7:00 PM and put off breakfast until 9:00 AM, fasting for 14 hours. I could have gone longer, but I didn't want to get light-headed during my 10:00 AM dentist appointment. I did drink roughly 16 ounces of water between waking at 7:00 AM and eating at 9:00 AM.

Intermittent Fasting goes against several beliefs I've had for a long time. First, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Second, it's best to eat many small meals during all waking hours. Third, one should always eat when hungry. Nevertheless, I plan to do Intermittent Fasting (fasting 14-16 hours per day) for at least 90 days. I don't see it hurting anything and, just maybe, I'll lose a few pounds.

(You can easily research online the pros and cons of Intermittent Fasting,
but here's a quick intro – Intermittent Fasting 101.)


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Over Jet Lag

It took eight days, but I'm finally over jet lag. I feel asleep at 9:00 PM on Monday and slept straight through to 6:30 AM Tuesday. I woke refreshed and energetic. What a great feeling!

With my energy back, I went to the grocery store mid-day Tuesday. When I got home, I cooked up all the meat I bought. I roasted bone-in skin-on chicken breasts, poached boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked a pound of bacon, and popped a pork roast in the slow cooker. Now we're set for a week of high-protein low-carb meals, which our diets need after two weeks in the land of pizza and pasta.

I'm sure I gained a few pounds despite averaging six miles of walking and 14 flights of stairs daily while in Italy. But I don't weigh myself anymore because the number on the scale can make or break my day, and I'm tired of that happening. I now gauge weight gain or loss by how my clothes fit. However, that's a bit confusing these days because I believe my body's changing due to my regular workouts.

Nevertheless, hubby and I both need to drop a few pounds before our annual family trip to Florida in July. We share a condo with my daughter and her family. I do some cooking, which helps keep things somewhat healthy. But it's hard to pass on the locally-made key lime pie and ice cream. Actually, it's hard for hubby not me. I don't really like ice cream and I'll be good with just a sliver of pie once or twice.

So I'm not too worried about gaining more weight while in Florida. But I am eager to get back to pre-Italy weight. I'm hoping a high-protein low-carb diet along with my regular three-days-a-week workouts gets me there by my 66 birthday in October if not sooner. Thinking positively!



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Thoughts of Italy

Hubby and me on the Amalfi coast
with Positano behind us.
We are safely home after two weeks in Italy. Gratefully, we had no major glitches and stayed healthy the entire tour.

Italy is absolutely beautiful this time of year and smells so good. Flowers and blooming trees and bushes are everywhere. Unfortunately, it's also full of tourists. We had hoped to be there just before the influx, but sadly that wasn't the case. However, we were told it will be much worse in a few weeks and continue building until the new school year begins. I honestly don't know how the locals can stand it!

Nevertheless, it was a good trip and we very much enjoyed the beauty and wonders of Italy. Thanks to iPhoto, I was able to quickly and easily post slideshows of each day on FaceBook. Just click here and scroll down until you find them in the feed.

Definitely a hightlight of the trip was the food. Authentic Italian food is amazing and I miss it already. Here's what the Italian's do diffently:

1. Noodles are served al dente no matter the dish.
2. Eggplant is often included in starters (roasted, grilled, or deep fried) and pasta dishes.
3. Pizza sauce is thin almost runny.
4. A simple green salad is served last not first.
5. Coffee is strong, very strong. Espresso is the norm.
6. In restaurants, a glass of wine cost no more, and sometimes less, than a soft drink.
7. Breakfast consists mainly of an espresso and small bakery item.
8. Lunch is eaten between 1:00 and 2:00 PM and dinner typically begins at 9:00 PM.
9. Bakery items, desserts, and chocolates are not as sweet as they are here in the United States.
10. Awarding winning gelato is creamier and richer than what's available in the United States.
11. Beef is served barely cooked and melts in your mouth.
12. Very little processed food is consumed.

Despite the crowds and unseasonably warm weather, we loved Italy. If money and time would allow, we'd return someday, just not between mid-May and mid-September!


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Update

The way things are going, this will probably be my last post before our two-week tour of Italy.

In between doing routine chores, spring cleaning, watching the grands, and working out, I've mostly been focused on trip research as well as trip prep such as making lists and purchasing and gathering items to pack. The last time we were gone for two weeks was when we went to South Korea for my son's wedding eight years ago. Let me tell you, two weeks out of the country takes a lot of planning and organizing!

One thing that wasn't planned, but turned out to be lucky, was hubby's iPhone dieing last week. We quickly learned we were both eligible for new phones under our Verizon plan at no additional cost. And because, on this trip for the first time, I had planned to primarily use the camera on my phone, the timing couldn't have been better. The iPhone 7 has a much better camera than my old iPhone 6s.

Here's hoping all else with this trip goes as well. If not, it won't be for my lack of excessive planning and preparing – LOL!



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Midwest Extreme Weather

The weather here has been extreme. We had several straight days of pouring rain, which is now causing major flooding. The flooding is so bad schools are closed today and will probably be, again, tomorrow. Some school buildings are flooded and several streets are impassable, making untouched roads traffic nightmares.

The heavy rains have also caused a lot of residential problems. It's evident by the trucks and trailers filled with piles of miscellaneous stuff sitting outside people's homes that many basements have sprung leaks. Ours isn't that bad, but we're definitely dealing, again, with a wet basement. We were aware of one foundation crack, but it now appears there are at least a couple more. It's a chronic problem in our area due to the clay-like soil. But, fortunately, no water seeped into the area we just finished and decorated. And I'm so glad we just did a massive basement purge. Less stuff to move or try to save.

The sun game out yesterday and is shining brightly today. But the temperatures are in the 50s and 60s, and in the 40s at night. This morning I finally caved and turned on the heat. Just a couple of weeks ago we were running the air conditioning.

I've lived in this area all my life. I should be used to our crazy spring weather, high and low temperatures, tornadoes, and severe rain. But every year I'm surprised. I think it's because when the weather finally warms after winter, I'm just so grateful and want to enjoy every minute before the crazy midwest summer heat and humidity hits.

As Missourians say, "if you don't like the weather now, just wait five minutes." It could be worse. But it's often better. And or spring and fall colors are hard to beat.



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy 2017 Easter!

It was granddaughter Reya's first Easter, which made today extra special. She grows cuter every day, and is still an easy baby. Unfortunately, since Reya's my son and DIL's first child, they can't fully appreciate just how lucky they are. But, after two loud, active, and often challenging grandsons, I'm truly grateful for a granddaughter with a super easy-going and quiet personality.

And I'm grateful for the time we have with Reya before her parents decide to move back to South Korea. Their plans seem to change daily, so we don't really know when that will happen. But just knowing it will some day makes every holiday with Reya even more special.

Nine-month-old Reya.
The color-coordinated outfits were totally unplanned!
{Elliott (11); Reya (9 months); Jonah (7)}

Monday, April 10, 2017

Drink Water!

For approximately two years I've been dealing, struggling, and suffering with various aches and pains in my legs from my hips to my feet. Every morning I woke never knowing what leg or what particular area would give me trouble that day.

Thankfully, for the most part, any particular pain would lessen once I started walking. But, for sure, it was a chronic issue that drained my energy and spirit. I sadly just figured leg and feet pain was old age for me. And it's what would eventually keep me from working out.

Then two weeks ago I decided to start each day with two full glasses of water. I also began drinking a full bottle or glass of water every 1-2 hours throughout my waking hours. And upping my daily water intake was the only thing I did differently with regard to my health. Therefore, I have to believe water is why things have improved so drastically and amazingly.

Within one day of consuming so much water, all of the pains in my legs and feet were gone. Plus, except for the days I'm suffering from spring allergens, I have much more energy.

Naturally, I was extremely skeptical at first, thinking it was just a weird occurrence that wouldn't last. But after two weeks, I'm convinced the improvement in my health is all due to drinking a lot more water.

I guess for years I was extremely dehydrated even though I never felt thirsty. Now, whether thirsty or not, I drink. I drink a lot of water!


Sunday, April 2, 2017

2017 MS Garage Sale

On Saturday, April 1, my daughter hosted our family's ninth MS Garage Sale. As usual, all poceeds will be donated to the Multiple Sclerosis Society with the hope a cure will be found in my son-in-law's lifetime.

This year's sale was a huge success thanks mainly to the massive whole-house purge I've been doing since the beginning of the year. Sales totaled a whopping $948.05, which my son-in-law's employer will match for a grand total donation of $1,896.10!

Once again a lot of hard work by many paid off.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Basement Redo

For Rupert's last five years, he lived in our lower level, mainly because he had problems consistently hitting the litter box. In the last few years, it also became difficult for him to climb the stairs to the main level. It wasn't a bad life. Half of our basement is finished with a sliding glass door to a nice patio and large backyard. Rupert's "pad" was comfortable with a great view.

But after Rupert's passing on March 11, we were eager to regain our lower level. It was also immediately necessary to do a deep cleaning since, during Rupert's last week, he no longer used the litter box at all.

After a lot of scrubbing, scouring, cleaning, and purging, we now have a beautiful lower level again. I didn't have this space when I watched Elliott as a baby and toddler. But it was wonderful when I did the same for Elliott's little brother, Jonah. Since it's a basement, the space is less fussy and precious than our main living area. It's a kid-friendly space that I'm now looking forward to using with our granddaughter, Reya, when she's more mobile.

Eventually we'll redo the attached room, which used to be a guest bedroom. The grandsons are already looking forward to using that room for sleepovers, which makes me so happy.

The biggest perk to regaining our basement, however, was purging roughly two-thirds of our storage. Less stuff makes for easier cleaning. Of course, the "Massive 2017 Purge" could have happen years ago, but we just weren't ready. 

Now half of our basement is clean, finished and newly decorated, and the other half is clean, decluttered and organized. Now that's what I call Spring Cleaning!

The chairs are new from Target.
I had decided on patio furniture because
of size and durability. But I was thrilled
when I found patio chairs that recline!
The carpet tiles are from iCarpet.
We purchased this sideboard from my
folks shortly after we moved into our
new home 30+ years ago. It started in the
dining room but was quickly replaced when
I found a complete pre-loved dining room set.
A thorough polishing with Old English and
the sideboard has new life.
That short hall leads to the bathroom
on the left. The door you see is to the
bedroom space. The small table and
chairs I bought at a resale shop nearly
30 years ago. There's a checker-board
pattern painted on top which Jonah's
already enjoying.
The TV cabinet is also an electric
fireplace. The space it sits in was meant
to be a real fireplace. And that's the
sliding-class door that leads to the patio
and backyard.
Taken from the small hallway, this
view shows the door to the unfinished
basement area. When we drywalled
roughly 20 years ago, we built in the
large "window" to provide natural light
to the other half of the basement.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

Yesterday, hubby and I saw Beauty and the Beast on an IMAX screen. I absolutely loved Disney's adaptation of Cinderella with real people in 2015, and remember being awestruck by it's beauty. I was hoping for a similar experience with Beauty and the Beast.

Unfortunately, Beauty and the Beast isn't as breathtaking as Cinderella although there is still plenty of beauty, and CGI. In fact, the CGI is what makes Beauty and the Beast a must see in my mind. New technology was created to make the Beast as believable as possible and the result is mind boggling. I'm looking foward to seeing it again just to watch the scene where Belle and the Beast dance. Amazing!

Of course, being a huge Harry Potter fan, I loved that Emma Watson played Belle. Who knew she could sing and dance? Well, obviously the director did. I will now not only think of Watson as Hermione. She is also Belle.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Basement Cleaning and Purging

The day after Rupert's passing, hubby started tackling the basement. In his final weeks, Rupert rarely used the litter box. No matter that hubby cleaned the concrete floor in the unfinished area daily, and shampooed the carpet in the finished area almost every weekend, there was always a smell.

The first step to improving the situation was to remove the carpet tiles. That's when hubby discovered Rupert's numerous accidents hidden by the shaggy pile. If you've ever had a cat, you know the smell of cat urine is nearly impossible to get rid of. Thankfully, as soon as the tiles were tossed the smell was gone.

This weekend hubby will remove the sticky residue left from the carpet tiles and paint the floor with an odor-eliminator sealer. I ordered carpet tile samples that should arrive early next week. Hopefully we'll find something we like and be able to place an order for delivery the following week.

In the meantime, I've been purging and cleaning every inch of the basement, including the storage room. The timing is perfect because our daughter's annual MS Garage Sale is April 15 and our donation pile is growing nicely. It's interesting how things I couldn't part with last year I'm having no problem getting rid of this year. I'm feeling a strong need for change and an urge to move forward.

When we're finished, the basement will be clean and clutter free. And, although we miss Rupert terribly, we'll be glad to have that space again.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Happy 7 Birthday, Jonah!

Jonah (7) and Elliott (11)
Our grandson, Jonah, turned seven today. And, as usual, it seems he should be at least a year older. The gap between him and his older brother, Elliott, is four years, but seems and appears much closer.

Jonah is above average in intelligence with an astounding vocabulary. He's also a "sponge," retaining everything he learns.  Plus he's tall, expecting to be at least two inches taller than his big brother when fully grown.

Jonah's birthday always lands during spring break, which means Jonah has spent nearly every birthday in Walt Disney World. What a lucky kid!

(On a sad note, we lost our ~17.5 year old street-rescued pet March 11. Everyone who knew Rupert recognized him as a special cat. Unfortunately, Rupert didn't age well and, while extremely sad, we're glad he's now at peace. Rupert was the best pet we ever had. He was also our last pet. Watching another pet age, suffer, and die is more than we could take. So with Rupert's passing another chapter in our married lives ended as well.)


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Silver Linings

Recently I finally tried two things that have been trends for awhile now – adult coloring and avocado toast.

My favorite colored
page so far.
Because my new progressive lenses make near-sighted activities extremely challenging, I've given up cross-stitching for awhile. I could wear my old bifocals because my reading prescription didn't change, but then my view of the television would be blurred. And since I can't just sit and watch television, I desperately needed something to do at the same time besides being on my laptop. Adult coloring to the rescue!

I recently scored a coloring journal at Aldi for $2.50 and decided that would be a good start. Now I'm having so much fun coloring I'm budgeting for a set of 48 Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils because I want more color options. And I'm loving using a journal for various note keeping such as logging my daily carb intake. Win win!

The second new for me is avocado on toast. I've always known avocado is a healthy food, but rarely ate it because of its high calorie count. Well one of the big positives of eating low-carb is the ability to eat more low-carb foods. So yesterday I sliced avocado on buttered whole-wheat bread and now understand the obsession. Yum!

I consider adult coloring and avocado toast silver-linings to two recent frustratng challenges, adjusting to progressive lenses and losing weight. And just when I was ready for some newness in my life :)


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Aging is a Lot of Work!

Over the last few months I've been doing the responsible thing, as usual, with regard to my health. But this go around has presented one problem after another. All of which I attribute to now being 65.

First, at the end of last year, I had a mole check and eye exam. Those two check-ups resulted in the need to have three moles removed and the discovery of a cataract in my right eye. The moles were removed in January and, thankfully, had clear biopsies. I elected to deal with the cataract at my next annual eye exam. But, unfortunately, my new eye prescription pushed me to get progressive lenses which I love and hate. I love that they're thinner than my old lenses and have no bifocal line. But I hate that the reading area is half the size of what I'm used to. Nearly two months later and I'm still adjusting. To the point I'm now almost looking forward to cataract surgery.

Next up was my yearly physical. Because I'm now 65 my doctor recommended an EKG. Well, don't you know that came out "irregular." Although she was challenged to see what the problem was, she had to recommend I see a cardiologist.

Yesterday was my first (and hopefully last) visit. The cardiologist heard a faint murmur, which is just what she needed to get my insurance plan to pay for further testing. But she's not terribly concerned either. Nevertheless, given my family history, we agreed a closer look is a good idea. So, in two weeks, I'll have an echocardiogram and stress test. And, in the meantime, I'll be praying for the best results and that nothing prevents us from going to Italy in May as planned.

I also had my teeth cleaned last month, which is normally a simple procedure. Not this time. It was determined I should no longer put off having my old crown replaced, especially since I'm leaving the country in a few months. That unpleasant procedure happens the day after my heart tests.

Throughout all of the above, I've also been extremely frustrated with changes in my body. Since turning 65, I've noticed my mid section has expanded despite maintaining my weight and upping my fitness regimen. It's not a huge difference, but enough to make a lot of my bottoms uncomfortable to wear.

After some research, I decided to make several changes to my diet. In the last week, I removed sugar, started drinking green tea, and began a low-carb eating plan. As of this morning I've lost 3.2 pounds, so I'm motivated to stick with this new way of eating despite the challenges of minimizing carbs.

Yep, not only is aging not fun, it's also a lot of work!


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Another Two Nominees In One Day

Today we watched two Academy Award movie nominees, Arrival and Manchester by the Sea, both through Amazon.

First I'll review Arrival and begin by saying I don't like science fiction movies, especially those that take themselves seriously. Unfortunately, Arrival was no exception.

Not only is Arrival's plot implausible, like all science fiction movies, it's unfolding is difficult to follow and understand. And, in the end, there are way too many unanswered questions. But Arrival's worse offense is it's over-dramatization with melodramatic music playing in the background throughout the entire film.

I definitely can't recommend seeing Arrival. And I certainly don't understand why it was nominated.

Manchester by the Sea was more entertaining than Arrival, but far from enjoyable. It's a sad film about a family's hardships and how the individuals handle them. The acting is good and I liked seeing Casey Affleck in a lead role. But the overall film is ruined by it's pace, which is painfully slow, and abrupt ending.

Nevertheless, Manchester by the Sea is worth seeing. It's just not Academy Award nominee worthy in my mind.

**********************

So this year I managed to see seven of the nine movie nominees before the Awards Ceremony. Out of those seven, I still pick Hacksaw Ridge for the win. Good luck, Mel Gibson!



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Meralgia Paraesthetica

My self diagnosis was confirmed at today's physical. The outer pain I suffer periodically is meralgia paraesthetica. Nothing much one can do about it except take Ibuprofen and wait it out.

During an episode, the toughest part for me is taking stairs and, to a lesser degree, walking. That's because putting weight on my left leg causes the pain to intensify. But luckily I'm still able to lift weights and do calisthenics. I just tend to hobble out of the gym afterward.

My last flare-up lasted nearly two months, December and most of January. I'm intrigued that it subsided while I was sick for nearly two weeks and couldn't workout. Did the rest help? Or was that just a coincidence?

It's tempting to blame this new pain on an aging body, but truth is it can happen to anyone no matter their age. For me, however, it's especially annoying since I do have age-related aches and pains also. So it's just another thing that can flare-up without any warning.

But the good news is it's not life-threatening and there's no need for invasive treatment. That's a big relief!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lion


A friend and I saw Lion today. Based on a true story, Lion is a touching movie albeit slow moving. A good 10 minutes in the middle could have been chopped. Or, that 10 minutes could have been better served at the end, giving the audience more details.

Nevertheless, Lion is another Best Movie nominee that will stay with me for a long time, and brought tears to my eyes. I understand why it was nominated. I just don't think it should win.

Of the five nominees I've now seen, I vote Hacksaw Ridge for the win!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge

As a general rule, I don't watch war movies because I find them so disturbing. But, because I like movies about true events, and because of the story, I forced myself to see Hacksaw Ridge. And I'm glad I did.

If you enjoy stories about humans doing self-less extraordinary things, you'll like Hacksaw Ridge, and won't forget it anytime soon. Plus the acting, and costume and set designs, are all Academy Award worthy.

Like Hidden FiguresHacksaw Ridge is a story that took way too long to tell. And I think both are well-deserving of a Best Movie nomination.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Two Nominees In One Day

Saw La La Land at the theater today, and Hell or High Water through Amazon this evening. Two drastically different films, yet each left me wondering why the Academy nominated it for Best Movie.

While I enjoy an entertaining song-and-dance movie infrequently, I rarely think they qualify for Best Movie. How can a good drama compare to a good musical? Seems to me there should be a separate category for musicals.

That said, La La Land was just an OK movie. Fun but slow moving, and without any of the strong dancing seen in the oldies such as Singing In The Rain, Flashdance, or Dirty Dancing. Plus there weren't any new songs that you just can't get out of your head, or that make you want to get up and move.

Going from La La Land to Hell or High Water was a huge jump. Hell or High Water is far from a fun movie. Instead it's an extremely depressing story sprinkled with violence. I definitely would not have watched it had it not been a nominee. However, Jeff Bridges does deserve his nomination for Best Supporting Actor. And it was interesting to see Chris Pine in such a different role from that of Captain Kirk (Star Trek Beyond) and Jack Ryan (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit).

So now I've seen three of the Best Movie nominees. Not sure I'll be able to, or even want to, see all nine. But it's a fun challenge during the slower winter months.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 Movie Nominees

These are the 2017 Academy Award nominees for Best Movie and we've only seen one, Hidden Figures. Time to make a plan!

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hidden Figures

Yesterday hubby and I saw Hidden Figures, the best new movie I've seen in many years!

Although it was about three black women who were math geniuses in the 60s, the real-life story wasn't just about black prejudice. I feel it was equally about perceived male superiority during the time. In fact, my takeaway was the Russians beat us into space because Americans wouldn't let smart women play a bigger role in the space race sooner.

Another message of the movie I absolutely loved was proof that going after what you want can pay off. Nothing came easy to these women but that didn't stop them. Truly they are fantastic role models for all women, no matter their color. And it's a shame we're just now learning about them. Even their family, specifically children and grandchildren, were unaware of all the struggles these women overcame until they saw the movie.

Needless to say, I highly recommend Hidden Figures. There's no better way to start your 2017 movie watching. But, if you're emotional like me, be sure to have tissues handy. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy New Year!

Don't know how long we can get away with saying that. But I'm thinking at least for the first week or two of the new year.

Today hubby and I have been married 44 years. Wow! That's a long time and makes me feel even older. As if hearing on Tuesday that I'm looking at cataract surgery in 1-2 years wasn't enough. Yet another one of those ". . .if you live long enough" health issues. For crying out loud!

But I'm not going to focus on all my old-age problems. Instead I'm going to appreciate that, again this year, we're going to Europe. This time Italy!

Earlier this week we booked a two-week tour, again, with Globus. (Click here for the itinerary.) Globus was running an Early Booking discount on top of the the five-percent discount we get as returning customers, so we took advantage. We also decided we need to keep traveling while we're barely financially and physically able.

In 2016 we committed to a European trip nine months in advance. This time we leave in just four and a half months. So exciting! For me trip prep is part of the fun and will certainly help me get through the confinements of winter.

But now back to the whole-house purge of 2017!