Friday, February 28, 2014

Solid vs Liquid "Diets"

Wonder what your thoughts are regarding the various weight loss/diet programs that I have seen float around by Facebook posters. 
~There is the 30-day challengers, which I guess involves some kind of exercise and restricted eating plan.
~What about those where you consume protein shakes and snacks from mail-order, which could be directly tied to sports and fitness stars or not?
~Last year, some co-workers got all hyped up about some multi-step drink for lunch, that includes tea.  (When I read the "menu" I realized instantly that it was a line my in-laws had sold many years ago and this was just the newest promotion of the products!!)
~There is another mail-order drink that is all veggies.
I like to exercise.  I also like to eat real food.  Chris & I will make homemade smoothies with spinach or kale, veggies on hand, frozen fruit (usually a banana and some strawberries) and almond milk.  Occasionally, we throw in a scoop of Greek yogurt and a squeeze of honey.
The word diet has been skewed from its actual meaning.  Diet is what we eat, how we eat, as in the diet of the Neandertal or the Egyptians.  It didn't mean a restrictive plan (less fat, no carbs, high protein, etc.) in order to lose weight.  We should never be "on a diet"!  We need to eat in a healthy way for our entire life.  THAT is our diet!!
 We don't have to bulk up, look like body builders or even have the same physique as we see on the fitness magazines!  We need to eat a balanced diet of REAL food, 80% good-for-us fuel and 20% splurges/treats in food and drink.  We need to MOVE our bodies: at the gym, on the treadmill, out in nature, in your basement.  Start small with squats, pushups and abs, 10 reps of each exercise three times a day.  "Invest" in a jump rope (it's the only thing I want for my birthday this year!!!) ~ it torches calories and improves your cardio!!  You don't have to join a gym (yet), check out YouTube videos or see what DVDs your local library offers.  Put yourself on a "Plank Challenge" for 30 days!! 
I hope that those who are attempting to slim down via liquid diets are also incorporating some physical activities.  It's not just about losing weight (fat), but you also need to gain muscle.  Muscle will burn more calories throughout your day.  Weight-bearing activity helps our bones ~~ and we ladies need to fend off osteoporosis at every turn to avoid the need for medication later. 
Try different activities and exercises to see what you love and will keep you so engaged you cannot wait to get back to it!  Mix up days of cardio and days of strength training.
Once you begin to see results, I guarantee you will push yourself to keep going. 
And you will want food, REAL chewable food, to fuel your machine and perform at your best!

Here is a great article from Oprah's website re: how to lose weight.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Paw Tracks Across My Heart & My Life

As many of you know, I am a long-time mama to babies of the furry & four-legged variety.  Beginning WAY back in early 1992 with our ferret, Loki, and later that same year with our first cat, our boy, Caesar.  Seven years later, after losing Loki, Isis was made part of the family.  Then, when we had already decided that we wouldn't acquire any more "kids" Luna appeared on our doorstep, all tiny and cute!!!
There are moments when Isis, who loves to lay in the rays of sunshine, will begin to groom herself and I am instantly transported back in time.  Isis was less than a year old and she loved her big brother so much that I think she would imitate him.  The two of them were laying in the sun in our backroom/office in Crown Point.  Isis was learning to groom herself, where she would lick her paw and bring it across her face.  She was so teeny and her head seemed too big for her, so she couldn't get her tiny front leg all the way around her head.  It was so sweet!!  She is 14 now and completely capable of taking care of herself, yet when I catch her cleaning her head & face in that way, I see my little baby goddess!  Isis has become our lap cat and cuddler, something we only had with Caesar.    
As Caesar and Isis were growing up together, despite the seven years that separated them in age, they became very close and would often cuddle together, curled up like a scarf & hat.  They would lick one another's heads, too.  Their love & respect for one another was immense.
When Caesar was 18, little Luna Pixiedust appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, one hot August afternoon.  Not knowing anything about her, and not wanting to expose Caesar & Isis to any diseases, we didn't bring her in the house.  We would play with her in the backyard.  She would show up on the front steps and hide behind our large planter for some much-needed shade.  We decided to keep her, so she made her first vet trip for shots & de-worming.  Boy, was she more than I could have imagined!!  Remember, Caesar was 18 and Isis was 11...we hadn't had a vivacious kitten over a decade!!!   Let me tell you, Luna worked my nerves to breaking and I did try to leave her at a couple shelters. 
But, I truly believe that Caesar brought Luna to us because he knew we (me, Chris AND Isis) were going to need the love and distraction only she could bring.  We, again me, Chris AND Isis, miss Caesar all the time.  (I am crying as I write this....hopefully, the other coffeeshop patrons don't notice.)  Luna has so many of the same personality traits as her big brother, even tho she only knew him for a few months.
Luna loves her big sister and she can get Isis to play with her, if Icey is in the mood, that is.  I have even caught Isis licking Luna's head.  Just like Isis helped to keep Caesar active and young, Luna wants to do the same for Isis.  I don't know if these two will develop a bond similar to Isis's with Caesar, but I am hopeful. 
Neither girl wants to be held in our arms and carried around like Caesar, but they each allow us to love them in her own way and give us love back 100-fold.
I do not know how life would have been without each of these babies over the years.  They keep us on our toes, especially my little pixie.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Life ...or Something Like It

I must admit that I have a pretty hard time not comparing myself to others.  Not so much in the financial sense, like those who prioritize thusly: "Look at me and how much stuff I have and how expensive it all is and the big house I put it all in and the cars that fill my garage!"  More in the realm of just how differently others, be it family or friends, live a life more aligned with the "American Dream," I guess. 
And I know know know that I am not supposed to compare any part of me & my life with anyone else's.  We each have our own path, our own journey, our own secret struggles and no one is conscious of what another's daily life truly entails when looking from the outside, aka Facebook!!
And in no way am I saying that my life or lifestyle is above anyone's either.  So far from it!
We lived the "American Dream"-type life for a decade or so.  We owned a home, had steady long-term, career-oriented jobs. 
But, I just don't think all that is right for me.  Well, not any longer.  Or, at least, not for now.
Other than the monthly amount being less, I don't miss owning a place of our own.  I like not having to be on the hook for big maintenance issues (now that our landlord lives in the same state, unlike Ogden Dunes!).  Yet, I can't help feeling a little untethered.  Much of that probably stems from the fact that we lived in the Ogden Dunes rental only a year and we will only be in this Longmont rental the same, so we aren't settling in too much.
I did the whole college thing and put myself through school to obtain a bachelor's degree and went a little extra for some grad work.  I worked for over a decade in my field of study.  And I think I am done with it.  I am burned out on all things criminal justice. 
I keep bouncing around the idea, one I have had for many years, of attending esthetician school and I can go to a great place west of Denver starting in the fall, after we move.   I think I am a bit scared.  Should I spend the money?  Will I enjoy the work?  Will I be able to get with a plastic surgeon's practice???  I have read that it is good to be scared when facing a challenge; it means it is worth the risk.
We have some retirement accounts (that may or may not be making us future gains), I have a very small pension and we like to live simply.  I am very used to working and worrying for the "what ifs", so this not knowing where I am headed and not contributing to our current living needs leave me anxious. 
I would love to be my own boss...but at what?!? 
I see others my age who seem to be in their place, to be enjoying said place, to be thriving in said place.  Again, I feel untethered.  Unsure where my place is.
Then I need to strongly and loudly remind myself that I am living MY dream, Jennifer's dream.  And I really don't believe that Jennifer's dream is akin to the American Dream.  I am wandering, with my own little band of gypsies.  We are figuring it out as we go, which is new to me.  I am working hard everyday to feel comfortable in this role, along this part of the journey.  I should feel adventurous, but instead I find myself at the corner of anxious and adrift. 
I have to put my faith into my journey and my compass, the one with which I am branded for life.  MY adventurous life!!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

In My Pursuit for Clear Skin

I stumbled upon a "beauty breakthrough" in Cosmo that sounded like it may help me: 
The illuMask Anti-Acne Light Therapy Mask, available at Walmart for $30 (which is 30 treatments).
Now, I am familiar with light therapy for acne and even had it done once by an esthetician-in-training a few years ago.  I also use a product called Thermaclear, recommended by a friend, which zaps the area onto which it touches. 
My biggest issue is cystic acne and I don't think the Thermaclear does much to combat it.  However, I do use it since I bought it!
My honey surprised me with the illuMask ~ a belated Valentine's gift, perhaps.
I have used it 3 nites now; each session is 15 minutes.  It looks pretty funny on and I am surprised I didn't completely freak out the cats!!  I have to walk carefully down the 2 flights of stairs from our bedroom to the living room, while blindly reaching for the railings!  Then I sit on the couch to watch TV and chat with Chris while it works its magic!  My primary area of concern is my jawline and under my chin, but it doesn't seem that the illuMask reaches that area, unfortunately. 
If you recall from a previous post, I was trying pycnogenol for acne, anti-aging and perimenopausal issues.  I took it for 60 days and I truly believe it helped, especially with the cystic acne.  Once I was out of the pycnogenol, it returned, almost immediately.  And cystic acne sticks around for a.very.long.time!
So, I am giving the illuMask a 30-day (or 30 uses) try.  If I don't feel it really worked and that the pycnogenol was better, I am returning the mask to Walmart and buying more pycnogenol.
BTW, I didn't read the instructions, so I don't yet know how I get more than 30 sessions.  Would seem a waste to not have some way to "refill" the system.   
I'll keep you posted. 
Oh, and for those of you who aren't dealing with (adult) acne, there is the illuMask Anti-Aging Treatment Mask.  I could try both, as I am dealing with both acne and aging ~ Ugh!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

To Your Health

An article in the November 2013 issue of Shape magazine states:
You know that eating fruits and veggies is good for your health; now research shows people who do so actually LIVE LONGER. (emphasis added)  A study of more than 70,000 people published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who ate five servings of produce every day (a serving being equivalent to a whole fruit, like an apple, or half a cup of veggies) lived an average of three years longer than those who ate fewer than five. 
While researchers aren't quite sure why that seems to be the magic number, fruits and vegetables offer fiber and many different nutrients and vitamins the body needs.  "We know, for instance, that bananas are high in potassium, which helps prevent hypertension, while oranges are important for their immunity-boosting vitamin C," says Andrea Bellavia, author of the study and a researcher at the Karolisnka Institute in Sweden.
While the study found no evidence that eating any more than the recommended servings further increased longevity, don't stop there: Replacing heavier foods in your diet with fresh produce is good for your waistline too, so feel free to pile it on.
We have been eating lots of fruits and veggies!  We always have bananas and/or apples and we have been stockpiling carrots, celery, cukes and bell peppers every other week.  We are fortunate to have some local grocers with super high quality fruits & veggies at crazy affordable prices! 
I slip half a banana into my morning quinoa-oats.  We take a baggie of sliced veggies to work for a break snack and also try to have a piece of fruit, too.  Chris has been making us green smoothies in the evenings, full of veggies plus fresh kale and spinach.
I hope you can find ways to "sneak" five servings of these longevity givers into your & your loved one's days! 
I will raise a glass of green smoothie to you tonite ~ Cheers!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Quinoa Egg Salad

Since I have to work longer hours, I am required to take a lunch break.  We don't have much on hand, besides veggies & oatmeal, so I had to improvise a quick & healthy meal option before I left this morning.


Quinoa Egg Salad
Hard boiled eggs (I used 2)
Cooked quinoa
Mayo with olive oil
Seasonings (I used pepper and a seafood blend)

Subbing yogurt for the mayo would be a healthier option.
Adding bell peppers and/or celery would be fantastic!
We didn't have any in the fridge, but a spicy, brown or dijon mustard would skyrocket the flavors!!

Eat on bread or crackers ... or on its own with some cut-up veggies.

Not My Idea of PT!!

I have been forced to work alone, and longer hours, due to a co-worker's sudden illness.  Last Wednesday & Thursday, and this entire week, thus far, I have shouldered all the responsibilities of the optical department.  I had no break either of the days last week, nor this past Monday!!  It's been stressful.  I was already on the fence about keeping the job, but I think this has been an eye opener into how things could go at any given time.  I know she didn't do this on purpose, of course, but she had already called off when her daughter was sick and had to stay home from school and I had only been there a couple of weeks ~ that may have been my sign and I ignored it.  It's not what I want from a PART-time job!!  I want just my 20 hours.  I want to show up, do the job and leave. 
I did speak with the optometrist about it yesterday.  I feel that this is a part-time job with full-time responsibilities and expectations and I see it only expanding.  I don't think the doctor has a good grasp of what the optician job already entails (actually, I KNOW he does not...he has no concept how to enter an order into his own computer system, let alone either of the insurance databases or the lab!!!) and he seems to think up new things all the time.  It's pretty ridiculous!!  Let us provide excellent customer service and bring YOU money.  {I sold 2 pair of glasses to a gentleman yesterday, who had insurance, and it was a $1200 sale!  TWO pair of glasses!  No freakin' way would I spend the money I see these patients drop!  WOW!!}  I want to look forward to heading into work; I want to enjoy the time while I am there.  This gig started out that way, sort of, but about every other day something new is thrown at me. 
I knew that this was a somewhat backwards move, since optical was in my past.  However, I thought it would be a great fit with the pay and the hours. 
This job was simply to fill my time until August and I had really hoped it would work out.  It's pretty well time, tho.  Even Chris says I need to leave as he sees the stress in me.    
I feel completely blocked.  My creative juices are dry.  I have personal responsibilities that I haven't been able to address, and some of those are time-sensitive.  Our bottom line is my first priority!
Our plan is joy!  My plan is a change of career.
So, I may be a free spirit in about a week!  I doubt I will look for any work, but I will let the Universe bring something to me.  Chris has started a new volunteer "job" in Denver at the LGBT center and I think I will see if I can volunteer a couple/few days a week ~ that way, I can ride into Denver with Chris on his work days.  Perhaps it will lead to an actual job, who knows!  That would be a change of career!  We are both looking forward to Denver's Pride Parade and, with this connection, Chris has pretty well secured us direct involvement in the activities!  WooHoo!!
Always looking at & for the Silver Linings!  Hope you are doing the same.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Drinks, Dinner & Denver

A Saturday afternoon spent walking parts of Denver, Capitol Hill and LoHi, before drinks & dinner at the Highland Tap & Burger with family & friends: MAML and Audrey, Uncle Mark and Betty, and KAML's friend (now our friend), Mark!
I discovered one of my new favorite beers, Shake Chocolate Porter from Boulder Beer Co.!  Here is the description from the draught menu:
A twist on the traditional American porter, Shake chocolate
porter is black in color with rich, dark chocolate aromatics and
flavors and subtle coffee-like notes. This unique brew blends
five different grains, including Chocolate Wheat, that along
with cacao nibs create a devilishly delicious chocolate finish
with a velvety mouth feel. (5.9% ABV)
Two Chocolate Porters for me and a few Left Hand Milk Stout Nitros for the birthday boy!!!
Saw, from across the street, the new Voodoo Donut.  Didn't wait in line for a Maple Bacon treat, tho.  Not yet, not yet!!  It will be part of our weekend adventure in early March, when we see Galactic, stay at a B&B and get some grub at Hamburger Mary's ~ all for a belated birthday celebration for Chris.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Birthday Plans

Today is Chris's birthday.  He is 44.  Tho, last nite, he said he was turning 41!  Yep, he is having a bit of a hard time with the mid-40's just around the corner.  You would never know it!  He wears his age very well!!!
I made brownies and white-chocolate dipped pretzels (with sprinkles of red sugar).  I plan to surprise him with a few things when he gets home...which is, hopefully, a shorter day than usual!  We are going to Starbucks for 2-for-1 lattes ~~ isn't it super sweet of them to offer this deal to everyone in honor of Chris's special day??  :)
I am making a dinner of salmon, cornbread muffins, asparagus and green beans.
And we are going to kick up our heels at Oskar Blues tonite, where we will listen to the blues & funk of the Johnny O Band!!! 
Wishing all a lover-ly Valentine's Day, too!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Great Honor + The Perfect Birthday Gift

In honor of my husband, who is a Valentine's Day baby, we were informed today that our newest niece, due May 2nd to Chris's younger & only sister, will be named Romi Valentine!
What a wonderful birthday surprise!!
Our niece, Shyla Lynn, my youngest sister's daughter, was given my middle name.  I know how special this tribute is.  I know that Chris is touched beyond measure, as he and his family aren't as close as they could be (or once were). 
When we learned, only about a month ago, that Natalie was expecting, we sent out a small welcome package that included something leopard (Aunt Jennie's favorite) and something Halloween (Uncle Chris and Aunt Jennie's fave holiday)!! 
Don't yet know when we will see Romi in person, as she will live in Bloomington, Indiana, but she will have an extra special place in her Uncle Chris's heart.
Thank you, Natie!  You have given your brother a wonderful birthday gift!
Especially when he is struggling a bit with "getting older". 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Universe Hears & Responds

As if in direct response to my blog post yesterday, check out this article from Elephant Journal:
"Home is within and around us, and the moment we realize that - truly realize that is the moment that we allow the noise to be turned down and the truth to be turned up."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tick Tock

Five Months...
Sometimes it feels like those 5 months have flown by: It's been 5 months?!?  Other days, especially recently, it feels like a year should have already passed:  It's ONLY been 5 months!?!  It's a matter of semantics, right?
Tell that to my brain!! 
Should I feel like this is my "home" after five months?  Because it doesn't.
Perhaps because Longmont, our current city, is not where we will be staying.  We are landing here for only our first year.  (7 more months to go!!!  ONLY 7 more months to go!)  I'm not making this city my home.  We have found several places we like to eat and hang out.  I can get around the city well enough.  I have a part-time job, where I get to meet and interact with people.  It's enough, for here, for now.
Our townhouse/condo doesn't feel "homey" to me.  The entire complex doesn't give me a welcoming vibe.  Don't get me wrong, it's not unsafe, it's just not for me (or us, really).  We have plenty of room, to include a basement where Chris put up our heavy bag and I have a small exercise area.  There is a small fitness room with decent enough equipment at our disposal 24/7.  I work on taking advantage of our closeness to nature out our door by taking walks, alone & with Chris. 
Longmont certainly doesn't give us the activities we crave, tho.  We are making the best of this time and this place.  I know that fun, happiness, joy, adventure comes from within me and I can find it anywhere I land.  However, I am hopeful that our move to(ward) Denver in the fall will provide us with more opportunities to fill our dance cards, so to speak!
There are days when I feel my light is dimmed and I am using those days to recharge & reclaim.  I do have To Do lists to conquer, but we all know those don't inspire creativity and light!  :)  Tho I think that if I work on one item each week, I will feel a lightness return as those responsibilities are addressed.
I am keeping up on my Gratitude Jar!  I might incorporate a daily "3 things I want to improve on", to help me be even more mindful.  They can be as simple as practicing patience and giving compliments.  I started holding myself accountable to 25 reps/3 times a day of pushups, squats and abs, so that on the days I don't get to "major" exercise I know I have done something for my body! 
I want to sprinkle fun things for Chris & me, too!  It's easy to get caught up in the work, laundry, grocery shopping, housecleaning hamster wheel, ya know?  It's all the other things that bring the shine back.  Those things we plan and look forward to that keep us going and moving forward.  This month, we are going to Oskar Blues to hear music for the first time!  And to celebrate Chris's birthday!!  Next month, an early Mardi Gras party at Oskar Blues, a Galactic concert in Denver, along with a one-nite B&B stay and some St. Patty's Day eats at my co-worker's place. 
By that time, another month will have passed! 
And it's ONLY 3 months until my birthday!!! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Flax & Oat Muffins

A healthy muffin for you, that you can craft to your liking!
1 ripened banana
2 t unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/4 c non-packed brown sugar
1/2 c ground flaxseed
1/4 c flour (all purpose or whole wheat)
1/2 c oats
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon, optional
1/2 c nuts, dark chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 6 muffin tins.  Mash banana in medium bowl.  Mix in applesauce, egg and brown sugar.  In separate bowl, combine oats, flax, flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add dry to wet and stir.  Add nuts, chips or dried fruit.  Spoon into 6 muffin tins and bake 15-20 minutes.
For those who want an extra protein punch, sub protein powder for half the flaxseed.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Quick Thanx!

Not gonna dwell on this topic, but it popped into my head this morning and inspired me to write.
When you move, especially somewhere that you know no one, you know you will be letting go of much of your "previous" life, right?  You know you won't be able to maintain direct face-to-face friendships & relationships, right?  Before you leave, many of the people in your soon-to-be previous life are sad to see you go, say they don't know what they will do without you, wish you well, etc., etc. 
Then, oh, what's that sound?  Crickets...
Some make it pretty easy to sever the ties.  Not that they are toxic, but they don't seem to want to work on maintaining a relationship.  You discover that they weren't really a friend, but more a situational contact. 
It's okay! 
This process defines the best and shakes out the rest! 
For those of you who have remained with me, thank you!  I truly appreciate your Friendship.  

Monday, February 3, 2014


Forget that finicky bitch, Spring, and her equally unreliable mother, Nature!  Let's focus on something that will actually occur on a particular date and has done so, like clockwork, every year since 1972...
MY birthday!
I'll be 42.  And let me fill you in on a little secret:
I am not afraid of 42 ~ or any age.  I'm not afraid of death, except for dying too young.
A recent conversation with my mom brought my attention, front & center, about caring for myself.  So many choices we make in life have consequences that are not immediate.  Years down the road we can be slapped in the face with the reality of our decisions.
Be kind to yourself.  Treat your body well.  Keep your mind sharp.  Maintain meaningful connections.

Being BRRRRRave

I guess just to make it more interesting, Chris decided that we should do something crazy post-Super Bowl!
If the Seahawks won, I had to go outside in my bikini;
a Broncos win and he would head out in his suit.
In my bikini and UGG boots....into the cold & the snow, I ran out in the yard and around the evergreen tree!!
Oh, yeah, it was super chilly!
But, the sky was so clear, the stars so bright!!
I wouldn't have seen the moon, a sliver visible on the bottom, had I not been dared to go the middle of the my bikini!

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