New Year

Read the Label!

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    As we head into the second week of the New Year, many are finding that the weight loss battle is really just beginning. The gyms are now over crowded with people who have no idea of what they are doing and coworkers are walking about with gallon jugs of water. All of the cleansing and sweat beds in the world will not wash away the poundage of bad food choices.

    Poor dietary habits are not only detrimental to the health of those who carry a few extra pounds; it can also be harmful for those who do not weigh enough. The BBC hosts a reality series of Supersize vs. Superskinny . This show contrasts the extreme relationships that people have with food. One of these shows showcased an 85 pound young lady who spent 3 hours in the grocery store, and no, she was not an extreme couponer. She was reading the labels on the food containers. Three hours in a grocery store just reading labels and she left the store with six items. Well, hell, I’d weigh 85 pounds too if I could be that discriminating. I then put it to the test, which things did I buy on a regular that I just did not bother to read the label.

    Starting at the top of my day, I looked at my cereal. My whole grain partner that boasts 51 grams of colon happy fiber filling was labeled at 160 calories without milk. Adding skim milk takes my whole grain goodness to 200 calories. Not bad to start, but I also have coffee in the morning and orange juice. I will do 2% milk because skim milk looks like white water and is gross. The 2% milk weighs in at 160 calories alone and I am suddenly feeling fat.

There are so many calories and so little time, and even though we each try to watch what we eat, it is the portions that can really throw you. I never measure out a cup of the cereal; I pour a good measure into the bowl. I stop when it looks like the bowl is overflowing and I feel like I am being greedy.

    The same concept applies to bag of chips. Even eating baked Ruffles, it is nice to know that the label says it is only 120 calories. Yes, only 120 calories for 10 chips. Who’s going to eat 10 when the company motto is “you can’t eat just one?” Or is that Lay’s? It doesn’t matter because I have never counted out and ate just 10 chips. But there is the rub; you have to read the label. Those labels will drive you nucking futty! I can now see why 85 Pound Lady she spent 3 hours in the store! I read the label on a boxed version of macaroni and cheese and nearly had an aneurism. I am not going to even discuss what I read because I don’t want you to panic. However, I was just thinking, if the caloric count is that high on the box, what is it when we make it at home from scratch and use four different cheeses? Again, I am feeling fat.

    I am going to play this smart and work my way into my weight loss plan. First, I will make sure I understand what fuel I am putting into my Über sexy vehicle. I am going to register on my calorie counter. Next, I am going to get a gallon jug like my coworkers and start pumping in some pure water. Last but not least, as discussed earlier, I am going to get out into my yard and work on making my backyard a haven.

This only leaves one label left to read. If I may be so trite with the perfect label and quote Fred, “Right”.

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The 3 am Phone Call

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There are moments in a lifetime which leaves us truly speechless. There are minutes in a lifetime, than can take our breath away. Then there are the seconds in life which seem to stop time. Sometimes we can experience all of these moments simultaneously with the arrival of the 3 am phone call.

Our personal history dictates that the 3 am phone call could be the result of a drunken booty call, in which we can only hope the caller will not remember this embarrassing moment. As middle aged children, we hope and pray that it is not a relative or neighbor calling us about our parents. As parents we are prayerful that it is not the police calling about our child.

Over the weekend, the intensive labor of the birthing of the 2012 New Year, many parents saw their children heading out with friends to celebrate and be young. Some of us older partiers headed into the nighttime to join in the New Year festivities with friends. In the wee hours of the morning we saw the best in human nature and the worst, either in the bathroom worshipping the Porcelain Goddess or mangled in a scrap heap on the side of road. At 3 am on Friday night, my client received a 3 am phone call. On Monday, she was still reliving the fear from the seconds in which she felt her heart stop.

Her 3 am phone call was in fact the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department. At the sound of the officer’s identification, she immediately stopped breathing. When she heard her son’s name, she started to cry. When the officer told her that her son had been taken to jail, she started to scream. The remaining details were a blur.

As parents, this is one of our worst nightmares. Her son had been arrested for drunk driving. By all that is Holy, there was no accident, there were no causalities, and fate had been kind on this night. However, an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.

I began to think about my own son and his whereabouts on the dawning of the New Year. My husband and I have been very cautious with his flow into manhood. Although he is about to turn 21, he still has a 1 am curfew. I know it may sound silly in this day and age, but my personal history has dictated that the only exciting things that happen after 1 am are crime statistics. If you are safe and sound in your home and bed, you have just reduced your probability of becoming a statistical entry in the log book.

My heart goes out to any parent, child or former love that has ever received the 3 am call. It is in our nature to fear the worst. It is in our mental vaults that the call is bad news. We cannot seal a protective casing around our children just as parents did not seal one around us. What we can do is teach. Teach our children to be safe, use good judgment and to consider their futures. There are many who wish us well, but there are equally as many who wish us harm and sometimes, it is just for the benefit of their amusement or the joy in watching you fall. But more importantly, there is no worse feeling than a 3 am phone call, and seconds that it can age you with worry, fear and dread.

Loving What You Do

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Three weeks of freedom. Freedom to create, get masterful, sleep late or improve my skillsets. An opportunity has presented itself for me to be better. I am going to take it. My first stop of course was to Joann’s Fabrics and Crafts. Loaded to the gill with 40% off coupons, I was ready.

    Since it is December, the new Block of the Month program is out for the New Year. I love this pattern, and it is actually a quilt I would like to make and have on my bed this Spring. I use my coupon to buy the first block.

I also pick up stuffing, batting, and other items that are on sale. Simplicity patterns are $1.99, so I pick up a few for Halloween costumes, new place mats and pillow case patterns. I also pick up one or two apron patterns for potential mother’s day gifts.

    Once home, I am armed with my stuffing, so I fill my holiday pillows and place them in the living room chairs. A few cuts and some clever stitching, I have a matching holiday quilt to drape across the back of the sofa. Did I mention that I also had a 40% coupon on fabric as well? Those aprons only require a yard and a half of fabric so I stocked up. I am ready for my new year.

    I love to make crafts and I love to sew. I made the first block with pride and I look forward to going into Joann’s and picking up the next few blocks. I have fabric, I have patterns and I am carving out time each week to make a little something. It is my goal next year that all of my Christmas presents will be made. I am working on my crafts and I am doing what I love.

    Now, if I can just get my manuscript complete and my syllabi ready for class next quarter.

New Year, New Resolutions

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Every year we sit back and make those stupid resolutions to lose weight, eat better, save more money and be kinder to others.  We never actually do it, and we are frustrated when our plans go awry.  If we are to be perfectly honest with ourselves, our plans go awry because we are not perfectly honest with ourselves. If you lie to yourself then how can you expect to honor a promise that you never fully intended to keep?  I am about to break the vicious cycle and start the New Year with some new resolutions. Follow along with me through my thought process.

First, I am okay as I am.  I just told this to myself and I believe it.  Yes, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but right now, it’s not going to happen.  I am not going to beat myself up about it. I am not going to stand in my bathroom on my scale butt naked on one leg, holding my breath hoping that needle moves.  It is not going to move in the opposite direction because last night I ate half the pan of brownies.I was stressed! I’m not unhealthy; I just weigh more than I should for my age and height. Hubby still likes it so I will work on making it tighter.

Next, I worked this year on changing my spending habits. I have a few bucks in the bank and I am not going to spend my money on stupid stuff I don’t need.  I am not going to buy items for my friends that they don’t need so they will like me more. I am not going to buy silly crap, eat out too often, and this should save me money and also help that eating the pan of brownies thingy.

Third on my list is to find a new means to get out and enjoy the day.  I am not going to say I am going to exercise more, but dammit my yard needs some work. I am going to work more in my yard which is going to tone my arms and my legs.  I am going to walk around my neighbor and pick up some trash. I also have a Wii and I like to dance. Combine the two, gym membership goes away, I save some bucks, I am mobile, and again this ties back to number one.

And last but not least, I am going to finish some of these unfinished things in my life.  I have started on this project, made this pile, moved this stack and created a new one. Forget this crap. I am going to buy one of those Neat Scanners. The cheapest I have seen it has been at Amazon.com. It is pricey but this will eliminate so many loose receipts, bills, stacks to be shredded while sorting it all for tax purposes.

I am just going to work a lot smarter instead of harder. I am not going to lie to myself to accomplish, achieve or attempt something that I know it is not my time to do. It is not my time because I have not done the leg work to put it into play. I am, strengthening my resolve to be better at what I do. However, in order to accomplish these things I just need to sit down and have a quiet moment.

I am starting my quiet moment now, but first, to the scale. After I finish this brownie.

Tis the Season To Save Big!

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          It is that time of year again. It is the season of giving. It is the time of year when we sing Joy to the World, wish peace on earth and show good will towards men. It is also that time of the year to buy new small appliances and stock up the pantry and linen closet! Yes, that’s right, it’s the time of the year to buy some of the stuff you really want and need to make your life easier!
    I’m not different than my fellow man with the exception that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the major shopping days for me! Yes, I will pick up a little something for Nana, big sisters, my favorite cousin as well, but right now, I am stocking up for me. This is the time of year when stores begin to overstock for the holiday season, but the beauty is they start to slash prices on December 26th as well. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, all the way through the New Year, you can really stock up and save. But before we get to the after Christmas deals, let’s get smart about the items for the holidays.

For example, these cups from QVC.com, you can get the set of six for a mere $25. Think about it, this makes six gifts for your co-workers or team mates. These are also great “extras” for those neighbors or people who drop by with a little something for you, now you have something for them. Now that is music to my ears.
    Speaking of music, this is also the time of year for great deals on DVD’s and CD’s, you can also buy now for birthdays and Easter baskets. Many of your favorite artist realease “Best Of” or live performances this time of year. Great stuffers for stockings, gift bags and baskets are picture frames, tools and bath products. It is also a great time of year to buy storage bins; they may all be in red and green, but what the heck, they are dirt cheap. This handy tub is $2.74 at Lowes and you can buy one and get one free. While in Lowes, every girl should have her own set of tools and for around $10, you can get the lady started.
    Last but not least, one of my favorite ideas, is to stock up the pantry with buy one get one deals. There are great deals on flour, sugar, cooking oils, broths and spices. The http://www.thecoupongodess.com also suggests that if you have room in the freezer, go ahead and buy that turkey or extra ham. I was also reading on mommysavers.com you can buy a set of eight dessert plates with mugs and separate these into sets of fours. Add in some small stocking stuffers like hot cocoa, or Bath and Body Works (5 for $5) products, you are good to go! Also, if you are a Foursquare user, look for the hidden deals and specials when you check in, it can save you a few bucks and often will give you a certain percentage off your purchases.

    Shopping for the holidays are great, but smart and savvy shoppers have loaded up all year and this is season to replenish the coiffures. I even scored a new food chopper and waffle iron for $2.84 on Black Friday at Wal-Mart. Forget the perfect card, here ya go neighbor, for your birthday, a new waffle iron! Now, I always have on hand a cute card or item for a birthday gift and you can too. After all, tis the season!