Friday, May 29, 2015

Free Workouts Week #5

Sorry for the delay. Moving had me pretty busy. And to be honest, I really didn't have time to fit in even 5 minute workouts. My hubby had a pinched nerve from the long drive back home and couldn't/can't walk. He gets around for a few minutes and is back in pain. So I have been super busy with stuff he typically does: mowing the lawn, doing all the errands, and just the craziness of life. So my precious workouts had to take the back burner, but I was still staying active.

Now it is time to get back at it.

Video #1: I love this video!!! You can do this exercise for as long or as short as you want. It is simple and effective. And it is just one move. Don't worry if you don't have a medicine ball. I have used a kettle bell or hand weight before too. I hope you enjoy it too.

Video #2: Because of the hubby's lower back injury a few years ago, I have been trying to find exercises to help him and anyone else keep a strong back (specifically lower back) and have less pain. So here we have a video with some yoga moves to help with back issues. This video is only about 5 minutes long.

Boy, it feels good to be getting back to normal at little. How are you all doing? Are you staying active?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why is a floor or level called a story?

My beautiful daughter came over to hug me with a silly little smile on her face. And then she shares this with me: "You know what, Mommy? I thought that a building with 30 stories was called that because I could read 30 stories in the time it would take you to go from the bottom to the top. Now I know that it means it has 30 floors."

She actually wasn't all that far off. It turns out that back in medieval times there were pictures on buildings/walls that told stories. So the picture(s) on the lowest level was called the first story. On the next level were pictures of the second story. And as you made your way up, you would reach more and more stories. Nowadays I believe that story might even refer to certain measurements, but I still like this idea of each floor having a story.

I don't know what it was about her newest learning experience that made me so happy, but it sure did. It reminded me of just the pure beauty of learning, the innocence of childhood and I am not sure what else. I am kind of at a loss for words. Anyways, I thought it was beautiful enough to share.

Some Mathy Goodness for Your Home Classroom

I know a lot of people out there are hating on math. I have heard from parents, students, even some teachers, that they just don't want to do math, teach math, think about math.....

This makes me really sad. Math is actually really beautiful. Math is often there in the background and you just don't see it. I have been spending time studying quilting because I so desperately want to be making quilts all the time. And you know what? There is a ton of math involved. And if you stop and think about anything that we do, there really is math some where in there.

So math is everywhere, but no one wants to talk about it or teach it or think about the mathy goodness that is part of everything. Maybe that is because we have been looking at math all wrong.

So what's my point in all of this? Well, I want to start to share some different ways of incorporating math into your life. Maybe you homeschool, maybe you have a child that hates math, maybe you hate math. Let's try and work on this and help you find the beauty that is in math. And in finding the beauty and purpose in math, maybe we can build math skills and math sense.

To get you started, I want to share a website with you. (This doesn't cost anything. I won't bring you through a thousand screens and say that it is about to give you the answer to all your life long questions.... It is not some scary scheme to make money or anything like that.) This website was started by Dan Meyer and it includes lots of "Three Act" math lessons that really get you excited and interested in learning the math topic that it is about. And for those of you doing homeschooling or teaching in a classroom, the Common Core standards that are associated with each lesson are listed right on the website with links to each lesson as well.

I have to warn you though. These are not your standard math lessons. Be ready to think, discuss, question and sometimes even laugh. These will really get you asking deep questions, creating plans of action for solving, and (wait for it....) DOing Math!!!

If you happen to like these, I also encourage you to check out Dan Meyer's 101 questions.

Please note: I am in no way affliated with Dan Meyer. I chose to share this with you because I find it interesting. I try to post on things that I love and feel passionate about. This is one of them. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Feeling Pleasure for Your Health

Life can be stressful. And I think that social media doesn't help. Constantly, in my face all the time, I feel like I am getting reminders of what to eat and how to exercise. Am I doing enough of this or too much of that? It can be overwhelming. And sometimes it makes being healthy or trying to get healthy no fun.

So when this article showed up in my email today, I just couldn't wait to share it with you. Chris Kresser, one of my favorites, writes all about how to fit in pleasure into your life and shares why it is just as important to your health as eating right and exercising, maybe even more.

Many of the ideas shared not really new, but great reminders because we often know we should be doing them, but just don't. And many are free to do and will instantly help you feel better. I for one, needed this reminder today as I was getting crabby trying to work on some part time projects. Sunshine and playing outside was an instant mood enhancer.

What are your thoughts on the article? How do you fit in pleasure into your life? I would love to hear what you think!

More Gift Card Giveaways!!!

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Are you looking for more useful giveaways to enter? I love the gift card giveaways because I can use it for something that my family really needs.

Here are a few you might want to check out and enter.

  • Hands On As We Grow is giving away a $100 Visa Gift Card. Ends 5/31. (Just so you know, I get an entry in the giveaway for sharing this info with you.)
  • Mom with a Lesson Plan is also giving away a $100 Visa Gift Card. It looks like this might through the same program. (And, again I get an entry for sharing this with you.)
  • The Mommy Chronicles is also giving away a Visa Gift Card. This one is for $25 and I think there are some car accessories or something else too.
  • Giveaway Promote is giving away $100 cash. And you have until 6/9 to enter.
  • We Love Readers is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card, but I think you have to sign up to receive emails or something. Ends 5/31
  • Diary of a Debutante is giving away $50 Paypal Cash. Ends 6/8.
  • A Medic's World has a big giveaway going with itunes and amazon gift cards to name a few of the prizes. 
  • Charlotte Anne is giving away $25 through Paypal. There are 18 more days to enter.
  • Don't forget about the big blog hop giving away $200 and some ladybug stuff. I think it is organized by Katherine's Korner. You have until the end of May to enter.
  • More as I find them. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Grateful Heart: Week 7

This is going to sound silly to most of you, but this week I am thankful for Wegmans. If you know and love Wegmans, this will totally make sense to you. If you have never been to a Wegmans, then you don't know what you are missing.

I want to mention that this is not a paid post. These words are just from my silly heart! I would like to scream to the world that I love Wegmans! I was in the south for almost a year, where I am sad to say the grocery stores leave a lot to be desired. The prices were pretty steep and the selection of produce, free range, grassfed, good butter or any of that is next to nothing. I would bring home produce just to find that it had started to rot in the car or the middle of the bag of onions was rotten, but I couldn't see it. While that was typical of my trips in the south, it is not typical of my dear love Wegmans... Oh, how I love thee.

And the customer service is by far the best at Wegmans. We had some very friendly people in Georgia. But there is just something different at Wegmans. They are (usually) happy to help you and don't seem bothered that I am in their line or asking for that piece of meat or fish or whatever. Unfortunately, I did have to shop at a place, that will remain unnamed, that I just can't stand while in the south (but happens to be EVERYWHERE). I'm sure you have been in one or seen one. And this store just so happens to not restock for months on end. So things like Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar would just have an empty spot on the shelf for months. This just doesn't happen at Wegmans. Yes, I have seen empty spots, but they are usually filled rather quickly.

I also love that the Wegmans brand is so good. Buying a store brand can usually mean that it might be not so great. But that isn't the case with Wegmans at all. And they even have a lot of organic stuff within the store brand, making it a lot easier and cheaper to keep feeding my hungry crowd the way I like to. And if you aren't looking for organic, you have got to at least love their consistent low prices. 

I won't go on for too long about how much I love Wegmans, but to give you an idea, my husband suggested that the whole family take a trip and just walk down the aisles to take in all that is Wegmans when we first got back to New York. And the first time the kids were back in one this week, the middle child was asking to go down this aisle and that aisle and the oldest was oohing and aahing. It really is nice to be back and be able to shop again at Wegmans. Oh how I have missed you.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Repurposing Old Sheets

For the next six weeks, my sewing machine is packed up in storage. So for now, I just have to dream up new projects. Plus, being down a full time job or two, I am going to have to be creative on how I get my fabric. Besides entering every fabric giveaway known to man, and asking every person I know (Hey - did I ask you yet? Do you have fabric you don't want anymore? Just kidding... but really though - check your closets!! Haha), I have had to come up with some other ideas for ways to get fabric and be able to still create beautiful items for really really cheap.

We won't even mention how fast my kids are growing. My 9 year old seems to be catching up to my height just a little too fast, and she is going to need some clothes. And we won't even get started on the boys!

So to keep up with my hobby and my every growing beautiful babes, I read this great article on re-purposing old sheets into clothes, pillows, aprons, art or other items. You can find old sheets at garage sales and even thrift stores, sometimes people are just giving them away. I have been on sites like freecycle for years where you can get notified of people giving stuff away for free. Or you can even watch the free section on Craigslist. I always have my hubby do the picking up for craigslist stuff though.... And if the bottom sheets gross you out a little, the top sheets will do just fine and are usually less used (people aren't laying on them! Heck, my kids are always pulling them off their beds.). And you can find all sorts of cool patterns  or characters to really make your items unique. I love the vintage look I have seen in some of the recreations!

Here are some brilliant people and their ideas for those old sheets you can find (or table clothes or whatever else comes your way.)

  • This is my favorite link: Sew Country Chick had a guest post where someone shared the cutest dresses from would have otherwise just been old ugly sheets. Now they are beautiful dresses. Check it our here.
  • Scraphacker has some sweet ideas for pillow cases. You've gotta check them out.
  • Make It & Love It has a great and simple method for creating dresses from sheets here.
  • Modern Kiddo has 10 awesome ideas for old sheets.  The baby blocks would make such a nice gift.
  • Saved by Love has 20 different ideas for your old sheets here. I love the laundry bag idea. It is so cute.
  •  Daisy Janie explains how to make a quick quilt from fitted sheets.
  • A Small Snipet shows how to make a really cute maxi skirt from sheets.
  • Sew Like My Mom shows a really easy version of a pillowcase dress for little babes as well.
  • Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom takes the pillowcase dress up a notch. This is cool.
  •  How to sew a pillowcase dress - with different options and a free printable pattern.
  • Just in case you haven't seen enough ideas to get you excited yet, here are a few more from Crooked Brains.

Boy, it makes me wish I still had my She-Ra sheets. Oh how I loved them!!!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Failure is the New Awesome

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I think I might have read that somewhere. And I loved it.... Failure is the new Awesome.

You know what? Our move to the south was a huge failure. And so have many of the other things we have tried. But you know what else? We TRIED!

My hubby and I could have stayed at jobs that we hated, but instead we took a huge plunge. We went for it. And we are not done yet. Some of the things we have tried have been huge complete failures. They didn't work at all. And I cried and worried and maybe even freaked out a TON. (And the crying and worrying and freaking out got me no where... but that is a whole other story!)

So I have decided that this is okay. Failure is okay. In fact, failure is awesome.

Here is what I think:

Failure shows that we tried. No one can say that we have not tried. And I would rather have tried something than wondered what would have been. I would rather fail than be stuck in a life that means nothing doing nothing about it. And we can just keep trying and trying and trying.

Failure has helped us learn and grow. We now know even more clearly what we do and don't want in life. We know what is important to us. It has helped our children to see that not everything works out and you don't always get what you think you wanted. And more importantly that life does go on.

We are instilling perseverance in ourselves and our children. We will not give up. We will just keep trying. And you know what, we will probably fail some more. We will keep failing until we find success. And that is good. I would rather fail a million times that give up and never try.

Failure has changed me for the better. I am not the same person I was a few years ago. I happen to think I am better now in many ways. I am willing to put my self out there. I am willing to be wrong. I am willing to try. Failure has helped me to appreciate small successes. In fact, failing has helped shape my view on what really matters. It has also helped me to be more understanding of others. Not everyone that fails is a loser. There have been so many times someone has told us that we should just do this or just do that. They wanted us to settle. And right now, we probably look like losers to many people outside of the situation, but we are on our path, working towards success. And at some point, we will figure it all out. And we won't have regrets. This whole process has lead me to look at others differently as well. It has reminded me that I have no right to judge and I should have empathy for those going through failure as they are also searching for success. And success for others might not look the same as success for me.

Failure has forced us to change the way we live. In failing, we have been able to simplify our lives. A lot of the wants have fallen away as we have discovered that they are not necessary in life and not necessary for our success. And we have been creative. We are finding creative ways to make a living, creative ways to do things that we once thought were out of reach. We are getting more creative in reaching our goals. And we are way more flexible. One of our first major failures came from my husband's desire to have things for his business exactly how he wanted them. Although I shared my view that these were wrong choices, I went ahead with him and let him try them out. They didn't work. And that is okay. He had to learn and now he is way more flexible with some aspects of building his business and he listens to me more as well. I feel like I can also voice my opinions more openly now and that he will take me seriously and listen. This was a huge step in our marriage. Failure helped us to grow and be a better union than we have ever been. In fact, I feel closer to my husband now that ever before in our marriage.

Yes, failing is scary! Failing hurts. Failing has been stressful and a few times I really did want to give up. But you have to keep on going.

Here are some of my favorite thoughts from other people on failure:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” - Robert F. Kennedy

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” - Henry Ford

 “If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” - Richard Yates

  “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” - Denis Waitley

“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” - Robert T. Kiyosaki

 “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” - Napoleon Hill

“No human ever became interesting by not failing. The more you fail and recover and improve, the better you are as a person. Ever meet someone who’s always had everything work out for them with zero struggle? They usually have the depth of a puddle. Or they don’t exist.” - Chris Hardwick

“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.” - Eloise Ristad

Sorry for rambling on. Not sure if any of this will make sense, but I needed to get it out and try to put my thoughts to word.... Now back to living this crazy wonderful life. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Grateful Heart: Week 6

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

   1 Thessalonians 5:18

It has been a long few days, but we made it. We drove from just about Florida to New York. And although everything didn't go perfectly, we are safe and we are here. I could not believe how beautiful it was to get in to New York. When we made it to PA, I could start to smell spring. There were the smells of flowers everywhere, coming in to the vehicle. It smelled like home, it looked like home and it feels like home. It is kind of odd to be back here again. I am not sure how to describe, but it sure feels more right than where we were.

So this week I am thankful for making it to NY safely. I am thankful for the beautiful spring in NY and the chance to start again. It is a beautiful life.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I am not on a diet.


Oh that dirty four letter word.

And, yet its original meaning has nothing to do with trying to lose weight or some temporary fix.

Someone asked my husband yesterday if I was still "on that weird diet." And I don't know why, but I instantly got mad. I think it is because of the meaning of the word diet used here. Yes, my diet, or the foods that I eat, may be different than other people's choices. I choose not to eat things out of boxes or cans. I don't need frankenfoods with chemicals and other things that I don't want to put in my body. I enjoy making my own foods, even if it takes longer or makes a mess. I even like growing my own foods. I still eat pretty normal things, they just tend to be prepared differently. I eat pizza, tacos, cookies. I don't eat them all the time, but they are still eaten in my house. I also like lots and lots of veggies and I like choosing what ingredients are used in my recipes.

I don't go into people's houses and ask them when they are going to stop eating their typical foods. I don't force my food upon anyone that comes to my home either. That is their choice and this is mine. And I have no plans of stopping. I am not on a diet. And this is not temporary. I am choosing to eat healthy. I will always eat real food. Get over it.

Eating real food is something you can always do. It doesn't have to be a temporary change until you lose weight or run that race or fit in that dress. Real food brings health and it tastes way better too. Why would I ever want to go back to feeling awful or eating something that tastes bad?

There was a point about three years ago where I started to feel my worst. My fingers were so swollen my hubby had to cut my wedding rings off my fingers. That was a sad day. And from then on I have been trying to figure out how to naturally feel better.

I don't want to live with
                         being swollen
                         migraines and headaches
                         not sleeping well
                         feeling depressed
                         foggy brain
                         constantly feeling like I look pregnant because my stomach is so swollen
                         being grumpy
                         fluctuations between constipation and diarrhea
                         dizzy spells that can last for days 
                         or the countless other symptoms

And these all happen when I don't eat real food, or when I go to someone's house for dinner and try not to be rude by eating the food, or meet everyone at a restaurant for food that doesn't agree with me.

People take food so personally. If I was allergic to something, they would have no problem with me passing on eating something, but the pure fact that I am making a choice not to eat it makes it somehow different. It doesn't seem to matter to some that eating certain foods make people sick. You might not be able to see the sick right away or on the outside, but the other person can feel it. And sometimes it can last a long time. I would not want to do that to someone I care about.

So, instead I choose to eat real food. This may offend you. And I am sorry. I am not willing to feel bad from food anymore. I am not on a diet. I am living my life to the fullest and this is what I eat. It helps me feel my best so that I can keep having fun.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Taco Night Makeover

Are tacos a favorite at your house? Taco night at our house used to mean a package of ground beef or chicken and a taco kit from the grocery store. Well, don't forget the cheese! They always hurt my tummy and didn't really taste all that good either. Then I started becoming obsessed with eating real food and decided to make over our family taco night.

All of the following changes at once might be overwhelming, so choose which changes work for you, if any, and try them out. Then you can keep building on it until you have a meal you can be happy with. This is the order of the changes our family made.

Change #1: We started buying grassfed beef. It is an easy change and grassfed beef really offers many more health benefits from your typical CAFO beef.

Change #2: Buy organic veggies to put in the taco. We love spinach instead of lettuce as well. This might cost a little more, but then you don't have all the pesticides and nasty things to worry about, some of which you cannot wash off! You can also choose to grow your own, making it even better.

Change #3: Make your own taco seasoning. I have been using a similar version to Kelly the Kitchen Kop's recipe for about a year now. I love it and so does my family. And you can change it up if you feel it is not spicey enough or think it is too spicey. I love that. Plus you can choose which spices to buy and mix, including organic if you like.
I make a big batch of it so that I don't have to make it all the time. I keep it in a mason jar and just pull it out on taco night (or fajitas, or quesadillas, or etc.)

   1/2 cup of onion powder                                            (8 parts)
   1/2 cup of minced onion                                            (8 parts)
   1/2 cup chili powder                                                  (8 parts)
   1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper                                 (1 part)
   2 tablespoons of dry oregano                                    (2 parts)
   1/2 cup of sea salt                                                      (8 parts)
   1/4 cup garlic powder                                                (4 parts)
   1/4 cup of cumin (or more according to Kelly)         (4 parts)

In case you don't want to make your batch quite that big, you can use the "parts" break down. Just replace the parts with whatever measurement you like. It could be teaspoons if you rather. Or you could go bigger and change the parts to cups. Whatever works for you.

Change #4: Make your own salsa (or here) and/or guacamole. Making guacamole is pretty easy to do and there are so many tasty variations.

Change #5: Make your own tortillas. I just tried making my own last week when I realized I had forgotten to pick some up for some fajitas I was making. It was really quick and easy. Plus, you can use Einkorn or gluten free flour. It was as simple as mixing up a couple ingredients, dividing it up in balls, rolling and then a minute or less on each side in my cast iron pan. I could not believe how quickly they came together.

Our tacos are a family affair now, bringing everyone in the kitchen. The kids help chop veggies or prepare small bowls of toppings that everyone can pick and choose just how they want it. And we made changes a step at a time so that it wasn't a huge pain in the butt for everyone, including me. I was able to get used to the extra steps and fit them in our schedule. Healthy eating doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can choose to make steps towards real food each time you are preparing a meal.

Does your family enjoy a taco night? What makes your taco night special?