January 2018

January 2018

Saturday, December 23, 2017

White Christmas

Woke up to this. . .
View of our backyard from the three-season room.
Our backyard is a winter wonderland!
More snow is predicted tomorrow with temperatures remaining in the 30s. That means a white Christmas! And this is how we feel about that. . .

Jonah, my 7-year-old grandson, in his backyard.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Not New Year Resolutions

To me new year resolutions are the introduction of new and improved habits. With that in mind, what I'm planning to start the first week of the new year are not resolutions. Instead, they'll be a welcome return of good habits established in the old year.

Since Thanksgiving I've been indulging in sugary treats daily. It's been fun, but I'm beginning to feel overdosed. Yet, even though I'm not getting the same pleasure from a piece of candy or cookie, I can't seem to stop. My goal is to rid the house of all sweet treats by the end of next week.

Lately I've also not been deligent about my daily water intake. I'm still drinking more than I did a year ago, just not as much as I was last summer and early fall. My goal is to start drinking an additional glass of water every time I feel the need for a sugary treat after all the candy and cookies are out of the house.

I'm also looking forward to getting back to a low-carb high-protein diet, which I started last fall. That means I somehow need to get motivated again to cook more vegetables and prepare a bigger variety of proteins. Within the next couple of weeks, my goal is to clean out the refrigerator and pantry; pull favorite recipes that fit our diet; check my inventory for ingredients; and then shop for what I need. Hopefully all of that will motivate me to get back to consistently preparing healthier meals.

In mid January hubby and I, along with my daughter's family, will be visiting my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in New Jersey. My goal is to be well back to eating healthier and staying hydrated by the time we board the plane.

Now that I've written it all down, I know I can do it. If nothing else, I love a good plan :)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Favorite Holiday Event

On Sunday hubby and I did the 2017 Holiday Parlor Tour, my favorite holiday event in Lafayette Square. It was a beautiful day. And it was the largest crowd we've experienced in the eight years we've been going. But we always get there at the start, so we didn't have too long a wait for any of the homes.

I posted some images on FaceBook. Just click these links and enjoy!

Part 1 and Part 2

Monday, December 4, 2017

Making the Holidays Fun Again

For the last few years, I've felt indifferent about the holidays. I think a big part of it was that the grandsons are no longer small children. So this year I decided to change things up with the hope of making the holidays fun again.

The first step was doing something different for Thanksgiving. In the last post, you can read about our holiday weekend in Branson with my daughter's family. It was so much fun and really helped get me out of my holiday funk.

Since then, I've been busy making some changes to my holiday decorations; doing a new Advent calendar with my youngest grandson; and enjoying new-to-me holiday foods and drinks. All of wish are definitely making this year's holiday season a lot more fun!

Our new family of deer replace a small
snowman that used to sit on our porch.
Our table-top tree full of owl ornaments
got a new tree skirt, which is a tthrow
we've had for years.
The mantel decor is completely different
from previous years all due to the precious
deer canvas I found at Pier 1. Although
the trees, stocking holders, and stockings
where all part of the old decor, too. 
My Jim Shore Santas used to just sit on that
white linen towel. This year I added
the limited-edition framed triple-matted
Santa print I scored at a garage sale years ago
and a sled I found at Pier 1.
This display case still holds my Jim Shore
nativity scene as well as my Lego Holiday Village sets.
(This year's set is the train station, which is on the bottom
center shelf.) But this year I added lights to each shelf
and a white faux fur throw to the chair.
After much research, I finally found
an affordable Advent calendar, made
more affordable as a Cyber Monday
Target special, that didn't include candy.
Each day is a different 3D cardboard
holiday image. This tree was Day 1.
Here are just a few holiday items
I got at Trader Joe's yesterday. Between
yesterday afternoon and this morning,
I've tried all of them and am very
happy with my haul. 
After seeing stroopwafels on YouTube
for several years, I finally bought them.
I heated my first stroopwafel over my
peppermint tea as it steeped. I had to use
my cake tester because my mug was
so large. You don't want the stroopwafel
to fall into the drink. It was delicious!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Our November

Emily, Jonah, Mike, me,
dad, and Elliott.
I was ready for something new for Thanksgiving this year and suggested we go to Branson with my daughter's family. Everyone quickly agreed, which meant I hosted the traditional Thanksgiving meal the day before Thanksgiving to include my 87-year-old dad.

Elliott and Jonah in front of The Village
at Indian Point main building.
On Thanksgiving we drove to Branson (4 hours away) and checked into a two-bedroom condo at The Village at Indian Point, which was perfect for our family of six. Both bedrooms had king beds. And the boys slept comfortably in the family room, the oldest on the couch and the youngest on our air mattress.

By 1:30 PM we were in line at Silver Dollar City for their holiday buffet, which we all enjoyed. Then, with bellies full, we were off to enjoy the City's rides, shows, and 6.5 million holiday lights!

It was a successful first day and I was thrilled. My daughter's family are such Disney fanatics I expected constant comparisons. I certainly didn't expect what happened on day two. By the end of our second day, my son-in-law talked us all into taking advantage of the holiday offer of a $50 2018 SDC season pass!

On Black Friday we enjoyed another SDC day. While the family toured Marvel Cave in the morning, I did a little shopping in several of the gift shops. The City was much more crowded than the day before, but we still managed to have fun. Jonah absolutely loved all the SDC roller coasters!

Best part of the holiday buffet
was the pumpkin pie, of course.
The 6.5 million lights were truly magical.

How did my oldest grandson
get so tall?
Papa and Jonah playing a dulcimer.
Where else can you play a dulcimer,
 drink Sugar Cookie Soda, and
eat a spiraled potatoe wrapped around
a foot-long hot dog!
The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying more of what Branson has to offer. And Jonah even got to talk with Santa without having to wait in a long line. The whole holiday weekend was so much fun and the weather was absolutely beautiful.

Jonah giving Santa his wish list.
Sadly, my first grandchild is now
too old for Santa :(
We returned home early evening on Sunday. Since then I've been busy busy busy, decorating, doing tons of laundry, restocking the cupboards, preparing meals, working out, etc. But the mad hustle this week is well worth the four days of fun I had in Branson with family to kick off the holidays.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017 Costumes

Just a quick one to show you the grandchildren's Halloween costumes.

Reya's mom made her Teletubbie costume.
Teletubbies is Reya's favorite show.
Jonah chose to be Ash from the Pokemon franchise.
His older brother was Ash a few years ago.
And Elliott decided to be Marty McFly from
Back to the Future. I imagine he was inspired
by his new interest in skateboards.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

This was last year. And probably the last time all my grandchildren will be together on Halloween. I love that my grandsons live walking distance away. But I hate that my granddaughter lives in New Jersey now. Long distance grandparenting is hard.

Halloween 2016
Jonah (6); Reya (3 months); Elliott (10)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Quick Trip

One of many lavish
fall arrangements in the City.
Last week we drove to Branson, Missouri for a two-night stay at the Chateau on the Lake. I've always wanted to stay at the Chateau and decided my 66 birthday was a good time to realize that dream.

In my 30s and 40s I often visited Branson with girlfriends in the the fall for Silver Dollar City's fall festival. Whenever I saw that magnificent resort on an Ozark mountain, I longed to stay there one day.

Turns out the Chateau is relatively budget friendly, especially if you do one of their packages midweek. Our package included two-day tickets to Silver Dollar City and a $50 food credit for any of the Chateau's restaurants.

It was a good trip. We enjoyed our stay at the Chateau, the City's fall festival, the Grand Jubilee show, and good midwest Missouri food. Less than four hours away, we will definitely keep Branson in mind for future quick getaways.

Our view as we approached
the Chateau on the Lake.
Our view of Table Rock Lake
from our balcony.
Don't know how I resisted bringing
home one of these cuties.
This huge cornucopia was
my favorite display in the City.
A tour of Marvel Cave is a must
when visiting the City for the first time.
Touring Marvel Cave turned out to be
a good workout. I mean, who would
imagine sweating in a cave!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

So Much Better!

The new setup in the hobby room makes crafting so much easier. The main thing the old setup lacked was not enough surface space for spreading out all parts of a project. Now, in addition to the craft table, I have the surface space of the twin bed. I can spread out paper and embellishment options on the bed, leaving the entire table open for assembly.

Of course, it also helps that I've recently purged a lot of craft tools and supplies. Having less stuff makes it so much easier to find what I need and want.

My first project in the new space was to create a Thanksgiving card. I found all the supplies for seven cards in my stash and used my Cuttlebug, which I've had for years, to do the embossing.

This is a simplier design than I've done in the past, but I like it. I feel it's indicative of how I now want my life and home, simple yet functional.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Great Progress!

The hobby room, which is now a guest room too, isn't finished. But I'm so excited about the change so far I just had to share.

After much swatching, I finally decided on a wall color and hubby painted the room today. It's just as I imagined. I love it!

Earlier in the week, I cleaned the antique Jenny Lind bed with Old English furniture polish and washed the foam mattress cover. The tag on the cover clearly states it shouldn't be removed, but I went for it anyway. We've been concerned about bringing cat dander up to the main floor, because the bed and mattress were in the basement for many years where our sweet Rupert spent most of his last six years. I washed the cover on gentle in cold water and it did just fine.

I'm still shopping for bedding. I'm not sure about color, but I do know I want a quilt. In the meantime, I'm using a queen quilt I've had for years. Since the bed's a twin, however, there's a whole lot of quilt bunched up on the wall side.

Once I get the bedding, I'll decide on the window treatment. Right now I'm thinking of white shears because I keep imagining floral bedding.

Lastly, I'll need to decide on a few pieces of wall art. That's the scariest part for me because I hate putting holes in newly painted walls. I've used Command Strips before, but without much luck. Either they end up not holding or, when I remove them, they take off chunks of paint.

So there's still much to do, but the biggest job is done. The dark maroon walls (which you can see here) are gone!

Taken from the door.
Still need one or two chairs for the craft table. 
Taken from the craft table.
My daughter's bed is back where it was
for years before she got married and moved out.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


I'm having a tough time going back to low-carb eating after our cruise. Staying away from bread, potatoes, and noodles isn't the problem. I think the main struggle is the switch to cool weather fruit, which means no more melons and berries. Not only are apples and pears higher in carbs, they're also not nearly as appealing to me as watermelon and blackberries.

And to make matters worse, my favorite neighborhood grocery store, Aldi, just closed for four weeks to complete their remodel. Now I have to adjust to a more expensive store or drive 40-60 minutes roundtrip to the next closest Aldi. Until I "get over it" our refrigerator is seriously lacking in any available fresh fruits and vegetables, and I can't seem to get through a day without some chocolate!

At least, as of last week, I'm back to my regular gym schedule after fighting a virus the week before. Now that I think about it, I suppose being sick also jeopardized my low-carb plans.

Despite all of the above, however, on Saturday the scale did register a one pound drop. But we all know how easily one pound can come and go.

I need to do some serious meal planning this week. The kind of planning that makes healthy eating appealing again. And I need to find a new grocery store. Ugh!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More Redecorating

Last month I redecorated our spare bedroom. That redo cost just $50 because I mostly shopped our home for what I needed. Read all about the why and how behind that redo here.

This week I'm redecorating my hobby room, which used to be my daughter's bedroom. (We have a three-bedroom ranch home.) As soon as my daughter moved out over 16 years ago, I claimed her room. I used to do a lot of traditional scrapbooking and other various paper crafts, and had a lot of tools and supplies. I was thrilled to finally have an entire room where I could store everything and spread out my projects.

Over the last few years, however, I've switched to digital albums, using Snapfish. I now easily and quickly create albums of our trips on my lap top while watching television. I also do less paper crafting now that my grandsons are older. Jonah, the seven year old, still enjoys doing projects with grandma, but sadly it doesn't happen very often because he's so busy with school, scouts, piano lessons, and other various activities.

In other words, I don't need or want the massive amount of craft supplies I used to have. I started purging my stash a few years ago, but got a lot more serious about it this year. I've done such a good job there's now space for either a bed or reading nook, or both.

Here's where I started on Monday. Yes, I know, what was I thinking with that wall color!

And here's where I am today.

I cleared out the closet enough I was able to eliminate one of the three bookcases. I then moved the remaining two bookcases and put the table up against the wall. I grabbed two of our dining room chairs to see if Jonah and I could craft together. We tested it yesterday and it worked great!

The bench is now sitting where Emily's childhood bed will go. It's a beautiful antique Jenny Lind twin bed I never could part with. It's just been sitting in the unfinished part of our basement all these years. I plan to sell the bench.

With the addition of the bed, the hobby room will have more purpose. I'll set up the bed with a lot of large comfy pillows, making it an inviting place to sit or lay down while reading a book during the day. And when the boys sleepover, one can have the bed while the other can use the air mattress in the finished area of the basement. And I still have plenty of supplies and space to do paper crafting when I get the urge.

This redo will cost more than $50, but hopefully no more than $500. I'm currently shopping for chairs for the craft table, a twin mattress, bedding, and lots of pillows. But first we'll be buying paint. I can't wait to see those dark walls painted over with a very pale green.

Stay tuned for the reveal, which I hope is only a few weeks away. Once I have a vision, I absolutely hate waiting for it to happen!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Good and Bad

Statistically a person gains one pound for every cruise day. I gained four pounds on a seven-day cruise last week so – yay me! Right?

I enjoyed all the food on the ship and chose items I rarely eat or have never eaten. It was a fun carefree week of food exploration. But now it's back to reality and back to my low-carb diet.

Prior to the cruise, it took me five weeks to lose five pounds by eliminating 80% of carbs from my diet and counting calories. Hopefully it'll happen that quickly again. Time will tell and I'll keep you posted.

(During the cruise, we encountered extreme fog, rain, and severely rough seas due to hurricane Jose. We even had to abort one port-of-call due to such severe weather. So there wasn't a lot of opportunity for destination photos, but some are posted on my FaceBook page. Just click here. This photo of me and hubby is one of my favorites. I took it in our stateroom before we left to tackle a rainy Boston.)

Saturday, September 16, 2017


This morning I reached my pre-trip weight goal. Truly amazes me since I've had so much trouble losing weight after turning 60 six years ago. Low carb appears to be the "name of the game" for me.

After entering "Today's Weight" in my LoseIt! app, my daily intake was increased 500 calories. That sounds fantastic, but I'm nervous about eating more. After you've been on ~1400 calories a day for so long, I think it's normal to feel you'll certainly gain weight on ~1900 calories a day.

No matter what I do, however, odds are strong I'll gain a few pounds on our upcoming cruise. But at least now I know my "game plan" for post cruise.

Bon voyage!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Too Much

All weekend it was hard for me to pull myself away from the weather channel. There are no words to describe the full impact Irma has had and will have on most Americans. The damage will cripple the economy of the entire nation for a very long time.

Florida is a vacation destination not just for many Americans but also for tourists worldwide. For our family, Orlando and Sanibel Island are annual destinations. As Disney Vacation Club members, my daughter's family visits the parks 2-3 times a year. And my husband and I spend a week on Sanibel Island every summer with my daughter's family.

Needless to say, I was extremely relieved this morning to learn Irma had suddenly gone inland at the point it was previously expected to slam Sanibel Island. What I've been able to uncover so far is the island sustained minimal damage, most of which was downed trees. The causeway was inspected and cleared this morning and will reopen tomorrow.

Unfortunately, however, Irma's turn caused a direct hit on Orlando. The full extent of the damage has not yet been revealed. But at least Orlando will not have to worry about storm surge since it's a land-locked city.

Frankly I just don't know how to process all the recent natural disasters, the fires out west, the earthquake in Mexico, and the hurricanes in the south. It's all just too much.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

6 Pounds Down; 1 From Goal

I just did my weekly weigh-in and found I dropped another pound. That's a six pound lose over 25 days. Amazing!

I'm not working any formal plan. I'm just eating fewer carbs and consuming more protein. For example, instead of grabbing a piece of fruit for a snack, I eat a cheese stick. Instead of using regular pasta, I use a high-protein brand. I also pass on the bread basket whenever we eat out. And, of course, I seldom have a sugary treat. When I do, I only need a couple bites to satisfy a craving.

I've also been using my trusted app LoseIt! to record my calories. LoseIt! also determines how many calories I should consume to reach my goal of losing a pound a week. As of this morning that goal is 1419 calories, because it drops every time I log a weight lose. It's like, "Good for you! Now you get to eat even less!" 😡

My original goal was to lose seven pounds, but I'd really like to lose 10. That would put me at a weight I haven't seen in three years and give me a buffer for our upcoming cruise later this month.

On average cruise passengers gain a pound a day. But I believe my awareness and determination will help me stay the course. And, worst case, at least I now finally know what works for my body and can get back on that program when we return.

So, today, the scale is my friend and I'm feeling extremely accomplished. Yay me!

Monday, August 28, 2017

5 Pounds Down In 18 Days

As much as I hate it, for the last couple of weeks I've been using my scale to measure my progress. But I only weigh myself on Saturday mornings. As of last Saturday, my weight was down five pounds since I started a more intense low-carb high-protein high-fat diet 18 days ago. Knowing my body and weight struggle, my conclusion is my recent success is mainly due to the severe reduction of carbs in my diet.

I know 18 days is not a long time. But losing five pounds in less than three weeks is a huge accomplishment for me. Since turning 60 nearly six years ago, I've been unable to lose a pound a week no matter how little I ate or how much I exercised.

But I do love potatoes and bread. I also love pasta and fruit. And, on a low-carb diet, it's best to stay clear of potatoes, pasta, bread, crackers, chips, and too much fruit. So I can't say how long I'll accept this life-style change. But I do know losing weight at this pace is extremely motivating!

Saturday, August 26, 2017


I watch a lot of YouTube. I mean a lot. I do all the research and planning for our trips and have found YouTube to be the best resource. It's seriously changed my life and my husband's who travels with me.

If you've ever watched YouTube then you understand how one video can lead to another and another. That's how I ended up watching a lot of thrifters. As a result, I sometimes now visit local thrift stores, but have never spent more than $5 for any one item. That is until today.

I recently redecorated our second bedroom. For years it had a Disney theme because it was where the grandsons took their naps when I watched them full-time as babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. But they've been in full-time school for years now, and I decided it was time to get rid of the primary colors and Disney decor.

After replacing the wall art, bringing up hubby's family's rocking chair from the basement, packing up the stuffed animals for our annual MS garage sale, and moving the red bookcase downstairs, this is what it looked like –

I was very happy with the result, especially since I hadn't spent any money at this point. But I did want to eventually replace the lamps and get a small dresser or chest. I was determined, however, not to spend too much money. And I succeeded.

First I replaced both lamps with two I already had. They both where in different rooms before, but look much better in the second bedroom now. Then today, thanks to a FaceBook post, I got a nice wooden chest at a resale shop for just $50!

I'm definitely starting to appreciate the thrill of thrifting. I just wish more shops would post items online, making it so much easier to score a deal without wasting a lot of time. That surely is the future of thrifting, right?

Here's our new addition. Perfect fit. Perfect color.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Good News!

After a month of waiting, yesterday we finally got the results of hubby's Oncotype DX prostate cancer test. His cancer is "very low risk" of growing or spreading for many years. Specifically for the next 10 years because that's as far out as the test can predict at this time. What a relief!

We now can consider all treatment options, including "active surveillance," which initially means another biopsy in six months. If there's no change at six months, then a third biopsy will be scheduled two years later. However, as soon as Medicare approves prostate cancer MRIs, that procedure will be prescribed as additional confirmation. A MRI will also show exactly where the cancer is, making radiation therapy extra efficient.

For sure hubby wants to avoid surgery, which is why he may decide on radiation therapy immediately. I'm leaning toward "active surveillance," because, as the doc said, new tests and treatments are being developed all the time.

Whatever's decided, we are both feeling a sense of relief even though we'll be living with this "thing" for the rest of hubby's life. I honestly didn't realize how much hubby's diagnosis was affecting me until last night when I finally slept soundly for 11 hours!

We can now look forward, dreaming of and planning more travel adventures. First up, the New England and Canada cruise next month – so excited!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Intermittent Fasting – Update #5 (Final)

This is my final Intermittent Fasting update. Things are good, but I don't think there will be any more changes.

Bottomline, as I've been told for decades, it's a good idea not to eat past 7:00 PM. My personal goal is to stop eating at 6:00 PM and to eat breakfast no earlier than 8:00 AM. So most days I fast 14 hours. It's not unusual, however, for me to fast longer, pushing breakfast later if I get sidetracked doing chores or research online.

As a result, I continue to sleep better. Plus it's easier to stick to my daily calorie goal. Prior to IF, I consumed 200-300 calories in the evening. That no longer happens, making meals more enjoyable. For the most part, I never exceeded my calorie goal, so before IF those 200-300 calories were taken from a more satisfying lunch or dinner.

I don't attribute any weight loss to IF. For me I think weight loss will only come by greatly reducing the amount of carbs and sugar I consume. I so wish that weren't the case.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fall Cruise

We've enjoyed our recent coach tours (2016 in Eastern Europe and 2017 in Italy), but I did have a problem with my legs and ankles swelling from sitting on the bus for hours after long days of walking and standing. So we decided to see if we still enjoy cruising before planning another overseas trip.

The last time we cruised was over 30 years ago with the kids, and we had a great time. Since then, however, my claustrophia has gotten worse. But I'm determined to overcome my fear. So, armed with Xanax, we're taking a seven-day cruise of New England and Canada on the Crown Princess in September.

Crown Princess
One of the nicest things about this particular cruise is there's only one sea day. The rest of the days are spent in different ports, allowing me to get off the ship. And the sea day is at the end when I imagine I'll be ready to rest and relax.

7-Day New England & Canada Cruise
Another big plus of this cruise is it embarks and disembarks in Brooklyn, New York. Our son's family recently moved to Jersey City, New Jersey, so I'm excited to see our granddaughter the day before sail-away.

I'm also excited about each port. Boston is the only city we've visited before. But even in Boston, there's plenty of new areas for us to see. And it'll be hubby's first time in Canada. He's excited to be able to check off yet another country.

Of course there's no guarantee the leaves will be changing by mid September. But, for me, that would definitely be a highlight!