Struggling.

I thought I was better.

Its been a few weeks since I’ve seen my therapist.  When I scheduled my appointment, I honestly thought about canceling the session because things have been going so well.  I had been losing weight and exercising, doing things far out of my comfort zone, and feeling more confident about myself.

This week must be a sign that I should keep my upcoming appointment.  I am struggling at work, and actually fear losing my job.  I have not been sleeping well or eating well, and I haven’t had the energy to exercise.  I even canceled walking with my walking buddy this week because I was so exhausted.  Everything feels out of control.  My first reaction is to eat a bunch of junk food and sleep all day.  I know that will only make things worse.

Just in case, I started looking for jobs and it just made me even more sad.  I don’t want to find a new job.  I love my schedule and the fact that I can work remotely.  Plus, all of the jobs posted were the same: either very low pay or required driving into the city, which I hate.  I don’t feel like what I’m doing now is my dream job, so maybe this is a sign I need to start over. I have no idea what else I would like to do.  And that makes me sad too.

Here’s hoping tomorrow will be better.

Until next time….

Minimalism

I don’t think of myself as a materialistic person.  I carry the same purse everyday.  It’s basic black and goes with everything.  I don’t have a problem with buying shoes from Payless (they fit my wide feet comfortably and I practically live in my Sanuk flip flops anyway, so whats the point in spending tons of money on shoes I rarely wear?).   Minimalism seems like a no-brainer for me.

My husband, on the other hand, loves his stuff.  He insists that we keep the Keurig AND our old drip coffee pot for when company comes over.  This would make sense if we had lots of people over on a regular basis, but we rarely have company over (less that 5 times a year), and usually only one or two people want coffee when asked.  He is guilty of buying multiple tubes of the same chapstick because he misplaces them in jacket pockets, drawers, or the car.  Needless to say, he is not a minimalist.

Much to my surprise, a few weeks ago he said he heard about a minimalism documentary on a podcast he was listening to and thought we could watch it together.  Of course I had already seen the documentary he was referring to (twice!), but I jumped at the chance to watch it again with him 🙂  The documentary made many valid points, but I think the one that stuck out for him most was that we are trained to always want more.  We live in a consumer culture and we are groomed to want the latest and greatest items at any given moment.  This doesn’t stop at traditional advertisements.  Social media is also to blame.  We see celebrities posting their latest purchases on Instagram, influencing us to buy the newest tech items, skincare products, or fancy clothes.

How can we possibly be happy living with less?
It is possible to live a simple, happy life.  For starters, you need to define happiness and what it means to you.  What makes you truly happy?  For me, it is spending time with my husband, traveling, hiking, and cuddling with my cats.  ❤

How do I get started?
Start small if the idea of decluttering overwhelms you.  I feel invigorated when I get rid of clutter.  I can go through our entire bonus room in one sitting, creating piles of stuff to be sorted or discarded.   My husband is the opposite.  He would prefer to do one thing at a time, and that’s ok.

What do I do with all of the excess?
I would recommend selling valuable items you no longer need on Craigslist or eBay.  You can also have a yard sale, but I have not had much luck with them myself.  I usually give myself a month or so to keep the “for sale” items around, and if they don’t sell in 30 days, I donate them to charity.  Another awesome tip for things like books and movies is the Amazon trade-in program.  Not all items are eligible, but if you have an item that is a trade-in item, you can send it to Amazon and they will send you back a gift card.  Did I mention Amazon pays the shipping too?!

Since watching the documentary, my husband has willingly donated or sold a large chunk of items he no longer needs 🙂  He is more comfortable with the idea of owning less, and just keeping what he truly loves.  (Glad he is keeping me!  Haha)  Owning less means less upkeep, less money spent on things, and more time to do what we love.  And that makes me happy 🙂

Until next time….

Cheers 😉

Social Anxiety

I have struggled with social anxiety for as long as I can remember.  As a child, I would become depressed when I noticed the first signs of fall because it meant the new school year was about to start.  The anxiety would begin slowly: What if I don’t get any classes with my friends?  What if I have to eat lunch alone?  I didn’t have a lot of friends to begin with of course, so these questions were very troubling.  Eventually these thoughts consumed me entirely.  Even now, almost 10 years after graduating from college, I still get a little sad when I see the leaves start to fall from the tress.

As an adult I find it pretty difficult to make friends, but I am trying.  In the past I would avoid social functions like the plague.  For me, avoidance isn’t going to help in the long run.  I am learning to say yes to possibilities, take more chances, and change my way of thinking when it comes to social situations.  Every little victory helps to boost my confidence.  Eye contact, a pleasant conversation with a stranger, etc.  It doesn’t matter how small the victory seems, it is still a victory.

One thing that really helps me is remembering that 99.9% of people have some sort of hang up about themselves.  Even the most outgoing social butterfly has insecurities.  For anyone having trouble with mental health issues: please know that you are not alone.  I went 30 years thinking that there was something wrong with me.  I’m learning to accept myself, flaws and all.  And I think you should accept yourself too ❤

Until next time…..cheers 😉

Saving Money & Freezer Meals

Hello friends!  My husband and I have made a commitment to each other to STAY ON BUDGET this month.  I normally track our spending weekly, but we went way over our budget almost every week last month, so I decided to divide everything into categories to see where our money was going.

I started off by making a spreadsheet with categories like: housing, groceries, gas, home maintenance, auto maintenance, lifestyle, dining out, health, hobby, and savings.  I then logged every single expense into my spreadsheet to see how much we spent per category.  The. Results. Were. Shocking.

I couldn’t believe how much we spent in lifestyle and dining alone!  We were also over on pretty much every other category as well.  After a long discussion, we decided we needed to really watch our spending habits.  That little trip out for ice cream, stopping for lunch while out running errands, and picking up pizza for dinner really adds up quickly.

So far we are on track for success.  It is only the 11th, but I am confident we will be either under or on target for each category this month.  One thing that has really helped has been meal prepping our meals on the weekends.  I always meal prep my meals during the week, but we were constantly going out to eat on weekends.  (My husband travels for work during the week, so the weekends are really the only time we get to spend together.  Combine that with lack of planning and lack of motivation to cook and we (understandably) were turning to takeout or fast food. )

Meal prepping our weekend meals has been a lifesaver.  All I had to do to get started was buy disposable pans.  I bought mine in bulk on Amazon, but if you want to start small you could get yours at Dollar Tree.  As far as recipes, I just searched for freezer meals on Pinterest and picked a few that sounded good.  So far we have had baked spaghetti and garlic bread, cheeseburgers and baked fries, homemade pizza, broccoli cheddar soup, smoothies, and BLT sandwiches.  I also serve our dinners with a salad to make sure we are getting some veggies 🙂 Obviously you can’t freeze the tomato and lettuce for the BLTs, but I made a bunch of turkey bacon and froze that along with the sandwich bread since we don’t eat it that often – they turned out so good.  The best thing is, since it is just the two of us, I was able to get at least two full meals out of each recipe.  Talk about stretching our dollar!  🙂

I am very excited about our new goals this month.  Meal planning has been so life changing for us.  If anyone has any tips, please let us know!

Until next time….cheers 😉

Living my Best Life

I have lost 27 pounds this year.  I have also gained 1 walking buddy for weekdays (one of my neighbors) and another walking buddy for weekends (my husband <3)  Eating healthy and making exercise a priority has really helped give me some of my confidence back.  I feel healthier, stronger, and have more energy to do the things that are important to me.

For a long time I avoided social situations because of my weight.  I was depressed, miserable, and ashamed of myself.  I had just moved to a new state with my husband and I knew no one–so I turned to food for comfort.  Before I knew it, I gained almost 100 pounds.  I would tell myself “once I lose weight I’ll try to meet new friends.”  Well that didn’t happen, and I just spiraled even more into a deep depression.  It took a long time, but I’m beginning to understand that weight should NOT dictate how I live my life.  I don’t have to wait until I have a Victoria’s Secret model body to go to a social event.  (Plus, Victoria’s Secret models don’t even have those bodies in real life!)

I also started counseling, which has done incredible things for me.  I learned how to identify some thought processes that were particularly damaging and how to correct my way of thinking. I didn’t realize it, but I was my own worst enemy.  I brought myself down more than anyone else ever could.

Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle.  There are times I miss workouts.  Sometimes I cave in and order pizza.  And dessert.  The difference now is that I refuse to give up.

I hope this helps someone out there.  Self love is so powerful.

Until next time….Cheers 😉

 

Meal Prepping

I have been experimenting with different meal prep varieties lately 🙂  It has been working beautifully for me, and I find myself staying on track and less tempted to eat out if I already have my food prepared and ready to go.


My normal breakfast is 1/2 cup of non-fat greek yogurt with frozen berries (berry blend from Kroger), 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 tsp of Splenda.  I usually prep my meals on Sundays, so when I wake up Monday morning the berries are not frozen anymore, and there is natural berry juice in the container to flavor the yogurt.  I really enjoy it!

My lunch this week is my “lighter” version of a burrito bowl, which is 4 oz lean ground turkey, 1/2 cup black beans, and 1 cup of frozen veggies (fiesta blend from Kroger).  When I heat up my food, I add a little shredded romaine, pico de gallo, and 1 teaspoon of Boathouse Farms salad dressing.  I think the flavor I use is Salsa Verde.  Sometimes I add 1/4 cup of shredded cheese 🙂

For dinner, I’m keeping it simple with 4 oz of baked chicken, 1/2 cup of roasted sweet potatoes, and 1 cup of frozen veggies (stir fry blend from Kroger).  I usually use about 2 tablespoons of Boathouse Farms Ranch salad dressing to dip my chicken in.

For dessert, I have been eating Larabars in two of my favorite flavors, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Peanut Butter.  I break the bar in half and microwave it for 30 seconds, and then add 1 tablespoon of whipped cream to each half.  It’s not a brownie, but it leaves me satisfied enough not to run to the store for some sweets 🙂

If I get hungry, I have baby carrots and Wholly Guacamole’s 100 calorie cups, which is one of my favorite snacks!  I also really enjoy an apple with a laughing cow cheese wedge and some Kashi garlic pesto crackers.

As far as drinks, I drink water throughout the day, and have 1 large cup of coffee in the morning.  I have tried time and time again to drink my coffee black, but it’s just not happening.  Right now, I sweeten it with 2 tablespoons of Splenda and a splash of unsweetened almond milk.  After my Splenda runs out, I’m thinking of switching to Stevia since it’s supposed to be healthier.

Another thing that helps me is using clear containers.  I use the 2 cup glass pyrex containers for my yogurt and 32 ounce Glasslock containers for my lunches and dinners. I can open my refrigerator up and see everything, so that helps remind me that I worked hard to prep all of these meals, so I better eat them instead of ordering takeout 😉

I’m always on the lookout for cheap, easy, and healthy meals for the week.  If anyone has any suggestions please comment below 🙂

Until next time….

Cheers 😉

Summertime!

Well kids, I finally did it.  I ripped up the disgusting carpet on my stairs.  I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, I’m not going to lie.  This is what I’m dealing with….

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What have I done???  I have to keep telling myself: the carpet was terrible, becoming a second cat scratching post, super smelly, and  beyond filthy.  So far I have gotten all of the staples out (that took forever!), and cleaned all of the dust and carpet fibers off.  Next on the agenda is to fill in holes and dents with wood putty.  I bought some paint from Home Depot (Behr – Sweet Molasses) that I plan to use on the treads and the railing.  I’m planning on using basic while on the risers.  I also predict I’ll need to use a truckload of caulk on all those gaps.  This may take longer than I thought 😦

In other news, I’m happy to report that I’ve lost 25 pounds since I began eating healthier and exercising in December!  I feel a lot better, and I have much more energy.  I have even gotten my husband involved; we go on Saturday morning walks at our local greenway.  I think we need to start getting up earlier – last time we went around 10 AM it was already nearly 80 degrees! I also have been meal prepping, which really helps me stay on track.  My biggest challenge lately has been eating healthy on the weekends.  What do you do to stay on track on weekends? Do you meal prep for weekends too? I’d love tips if anyone has any 🙂

Until next time, cheers 😉

What happened to May?

Seriously, where did the entire month of May go??  I have been super busy lately, but for good reasons 🙂

The first week of May we took our annual spring vacation.  Our goal is to see every state, so each year we pick two states to visit; one in the spring and the other in the fall.  I hate flying, so we road trip everywhere.  You get to see more of the scenery by driving anyway 😉  This year we went to Arkansas, which was really beautiful.  It definitely lives up to its name, “The Natural State.”  We started our journey in Little Rock.  We are nature enthusiasts, so instead of staying in costly hotels, we camp everywhere.  The first place we called home was Lake Maumelle.  Our campsite was right on the water, and we were visited by a mother goose and her goslings the next morning ❤  We climbed to an overlook on Pinnacle Mountain, which overlooks the Mississippi River.  It was cold that day, so we didn’t stay too long!  Next we went to Hot Springs, where we went to Garvin Botanical Gardens to see the famous chapel in the woods.  It was spectacular!  We went on a weekday, so we had the place to ourselves.  We also went to the top of the observation tower that overlooks the city.  It was so windy I thought I was going to blow away!

Our next campsite was on the shore of Lake Catherine, and we were greeted by hungry ducks & geese.  After getting a good night’s rest, we drove to Petit Jean State Park, which was gorgeous.  I would love to go back and do more hiking, but we were short on time.  We did complete the Bear Cave Trail, which had some amazing rock formations.  We also had lunch at the beautiful lodge, which tasted SO GOOD after eating camp food for a few days.  Next on our list was Mount Magazine State Park, which was also unbelievable.  We had a fabulous dinner at the Skycrest Restaurant there, which has floor to ceiling windows and a spectacular view.  This is another destination that I would love to go back to and really explore.  We didn’t get to see any bears, but we enjoyed every minute of the park.

Next we visited the quirky town of Eureka Springs, which was a diamond in the rough.  We did not expect to stay, but after a day of rain and thunderstorms on the way, we decided to go ahead and book a hotel for the night.  To our delight, we were able to stay in a charming little treehouse near the city square.  We each had extra long showers, took advantage of the cable TV, and slept on a bed for the first time in days 🙂  The next day we explored, visiting many of the shops and galleries located in the square.  We fell in love with the beautiful victorian cottages, lush gardens, and unexpected art pieces that decorate the entire town.  We finished off our stay with an evening ghost tour at the famous Crescent Hotel.

Our final day in Arkansas, we hiked to Hawksbill Crag, which is arguably the most famous hike in the state.  It was a fun 3 mile hike, suitable for anyone who isn’t afraid of heights.  I’m not sure how far the drop is, but if you fell you would not survive.  The trail was moderately busy, but we were by ourselves for the majority of the time.  The gravel road was steep and rough, but our little car made it up just fine 😉

I will post pictures later this week…I have not gotten around to editing any of our vacation photos, so there will be visual aids to accompany this post soon!

Warmer Weather Approaching!

Hello there!  Well it is already April 21st, and I am only a few short days from our annual spring vacation 🙂 This year we are going backpacking in the Ozarks.  I can’t wait!  We purchased a new tent that we will be trying out for the first time, and some new lightweight camping chairs.  My goal is to get all of our gear into the trunk (to deter potential car break-ins).

Its been a pretty rainy April, so we haven’t gotten as much accomplished outside as I would have liked, but that’s ok.  The front porch isn’t going anywhere, so we can always paint that next month!  We were able to clear out the dead bushes in the front yard and clean up around the front porch, but we haven’t planted anything just yet.  We also cleaned up the wooded area beside the retaining wall, and that looks much better now.  We were also able to paint the patio doors, and they look soooo much better.  We are still working to finish all of the touch ups inside, but I seem to always put that task off since it is so terribly tedious.

I am hopeful for May 🙂 I would like to finish up the things we didn’t get to in April, for sure.  We also had a contractor come out to give us an estimate on adding a screened in deck for the backyard, so maybe we can get that finished just in time for grilling season!

Goals for April!

April is fast approaching, and I have a lot on my to-do list 🙂  Here’s what I would like to tackle in the next few weeks:

  • Tidy up our front yard (landscaping, mulching, planting)
  • Paint the front porch
  • Paint the patio doors
  • Finish ALL painting inside (touch ups add up!)

I always seem to put off those little finishing touches, but they really do make all the difference.  Most of the projects I have for the house are complete, except for the ones where we would need to hire professionals.  Installing new floors and building a screened in deck are a bit out of my comfort zone.

I have some big projects that we are planning on completing ourselves, but I want to get all of the little things out of the way before we start something big.  I would like to have built-ins in my bonus room.  I would like to remove the carpet from my stairs to reveal the wood underneath (painting the stair risers and staining the steps included).  I would like to  paint my banister and replace my stair spindles.  These are all costly and time consuming projects, so right now I’m happy to do the remaining smaller projects until we make our way to the big stuff 🙂

I’m estimating that we can have all of the small things done by May.  We still need to replace the damaged window screens (there are several).  I want to paint the mailbox and stain our mailbox post.  I’d like to replace the doorbell button (it seems silly, but I really don’t like ours).  Our garage could use a fresh coat of paint too.  The people who owned our house before decided to paint a weird blue and white design all over the walls, so it would be so much nicer to see just one color.

Anyway, we are getting there.  We have lived in our house for almost 2 years now (our house-iversary is in July!) and it doesn’t even look like the same house we moved into.  That, my friends, is a success ❤

Until next time….cheers 😉