I don’t know about y'all, but I’ve been busy kicking some Corona butt.
I’m still living my life.
With some amendments, yes... You know - those simple things in life. Like being able to grocery shop in peace. That’s out the door.
Or, planning beyond one dinner out. The door’s been closed on that one too.
And, maybe it's the simple act of choosing what brand of soap or even toilet paper to buy… Something we may usually take for granted, or show zero appreciation to on a daily basis. Yes, choice is kinda, sorta, maybe severely limited on our selection of toiletries there too.
But regardless of change - I’m still working.
I’m still exercising.
I’m still staying hydrated.
I’m still washing my hands. Funny thing there - I always did wash my hands.
I still have a daily routine.
I still plan.
I still write.
I still paint.
I still cook.
I still eat.
And I still ramble on and on.
So, yeah… I’m still simply chugging along.
I suppose the only real and big difference here is that I’m gonna take that virus, and give it a swift kick in the you know what, and send it packing. I will NOT be scared at all.
And with all these simple and very basic of changes in life happening right now, I know with a hundred percent certainty that there’s one vitally important thing on the above list that is imperative to human survival. And we all certainly don’t need Google or the news to tell us that it is so. And that is food. Cooking. The act of eating. Amidst all the Corona Chaos - we all still need to eat, my friends.
Yes, Corona Apocalypse or not - we all gotta eat y’all.
So today I’m publishing a fabulous and easy and completely one pan dinner recipe. If you’ll be home busting some Corona behind, do it in style with an easy meal. That is, as long a you have some chicken available at your local grocer. Lord only knows we don’t have access to a lot of toilet paper these days, but your store may, possibly, have chicken. Makes sense, right?
This recipe was inspired by the MyFitnessPal One Pan Chicken recipe, with some modifications to suit our tastes. It’s loaded with flavor. Very healthy. And a simple dinner to whip up after a long day of fighting crime - or viruses.
I hope you enjoy making this dinner as much as I did. And I definitely intend on making it again real soon.
In the interim, I’ll keep living. I’ll keep on keepin’ on. ~
One pound of chicken - we used legs for this meal.
One pound of fresh green beans.
One small carton of cherry tomatoes.
One onion, chopped or sliced.
A few garlic cloves, chopped.
One carton of chicken broth.
One tablespoon or so of your favorite olive oil.
Balsamic Vinegar to taste.
Sea salt to taste.
Freshly ground peppercorn to taste.
Pour olive oil in a large pan.
Add chicken and start simmering.
As chicken cooks add chopped or sliced onion. Continue simmering.
Let chicken continue cooking.
Add chicken broth.
Add cherry tomatoes and seasoning.
Add balsamic vinegar.
Simmer for 15 minutes or so. Stirring occasionally.
Serve in a bowl and enjoy.
Optional: To really kick things up a notch, to really be brave, to really show Co-vid 19 that you are not afraid, serve this fabulous meal with a bottle of Corona Beer on the side. ~~
What’s your favorite one pan dinner recipe? What are you STILL doing during Corona Days? I’d love to know. Drop me a comment down below:
And for more of Bean’s Recipes - check these other delicious meals right here:
10] Bean’s Soulful Southern Chili
38] The Year Of The Sweater ~ Bean’s Minestrone Soup Recipe
43] Bean’s Bold Beef Stew Recipe ~
47] Bean’s Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnut Recipe ~ A Super Food For A Super Sunday
51] Life Is Full Of Pasta-Bilities ~ Bean’s Red Sauce Recipe
Also, I’d recommend checking out my experience with MyFitnessPal and how it helped change my life:
7] My ‘Before & After’ ~~ How A Single Act of Kindness, Lime Bubly, And MyFitnessPal Helped Me Lose 77 Pounds In One Year
It’s winter y’all. And while it’s still pretty darn warm here in Florida at the moment, I’ve become so acclimated to the intense and fire-breathing dragon which is our summer heat, that right now it might as well be winter in Chicago. Any drop on the thermometer, even a pinch, and I’m absolutely freezing!
No joke. Like, for real.
And, I never enjoyed wearing sweaters. One year, many Christmases ago now, and after I was married, I received all sweaters for Christmas. All sweaters, and nothing more. Everybody who gave me a gift that holiday gave me a sweater. By the end of the evening on Christmas Day, I was literally drowning in sweaters sitting upon my lap.
I didn’t even ask for sweaters.
But sweaters I did get.
And to make matters even worse, my husband received all sweaters as well.
My mother-in-law correctly deemed it... ‘The Year Of The Sweater’ … and she really was absolutely right.
It remains to this day, one of the funniest things she ever told me, and it was all just so very true.
I’m not sure if anyone else on Earth has ever received as many sweaters for gifts as my husband and I both did that holiday a long time ago.
And for years afterward, I could not even look at a sweater without thinking of The Year Of The Sweater. I basically hated and despised sweaters since that infamous day of unwrapping all that extremely itchy wool I was then surrounded by and being suffocated from.
I mean, it could be well below zero outside, and I could be driving in a car with the windows rolled down, and I still would not succumb to the temptation of a nice and beautiful looking sweater that happened to be sitting next to me on the car seat. If it was a sweater, I was NOT wearing it.
Fast forward to today.
Living in Florida.
It’s beautiful. All year round. No joke. It’s perfection. I feel like I’m living in a paradise, or Heaven, or some combination thereof. I'm so used to the perfect weather that when the temperature takes a dip, I wear more layers than I’ve worn in my entire life, combined.
I could very easily be teleported to the Arctic tundra, and Santa Claus would hire me on the spot to work for him in his outdoor garden, simply because he wouldn’t need to buy me the standard uniform that would need to be worn in the elements. I’d already be wearing it. I’m ready for the cold.
So, yes, finally, at long last, the sweater has come back into my life. And it sits there and laughs at me with every breath I take.
It could be 69 degrees out here in Jax Beach, and I’m frozen solid.
And this winter is the worst yet - in terms of clothing. I’m in my third year living in The Sunshine State, and I was so desperate when the temperature took a slight dip that I had to go out and buy a big winter down puffy coat to get through the coldest days and nights.
And now, I’ve resorted to complete and total desperation while at home.
I currently take perfectly clean and dry sweaters, put them into the dryer, simply to get them feeling nice and toasty - steamy ... hot.
I RUN to the dryer the instant it buzzes me, and I wisk open the door of the magical appliance. I grab for the hot sweater, and hurl it around me. And then, what the heck, I might even throw on another layer. Then, finally, I can get back to work in my art studio, and I can actually concentrate. I’m from Illinois - and I’m now in Florida sitting under layers of blankets and sweaters with palm trees and perfect blue skies outside my window - I’m absolutely pathetic.
So naturally, while wearing sweaters, long pants and slippers, what does one eat when it’s a cold and frigid 70 degrees outside?
Soup. Of course. Minestrone Soup.
Today, I’m very happy to share with you my minestrone recipe that I have been making for years and years. It’s probably one of my favorite recipes that my husband and I both make together. It’s reliable, it’s consistent and tastes the same every time, it’s easy, and it’s very healthy.
I would say this recipe is a combination of my mother’s minestrone recipe, the internet’s soup, and our soup - rolling all those ideas into one perfect pot. We’ve tweaked it many times, and the recipe below is the one that is deemed perfection by my taste buds. So, we finally never waiver from this, our very perfect Minestrone Soup.
Also, I’ve done the calculations on MyFitnessPal, and at only 239 calories making 8 servings, it's not even heavy on the calories. And did I mention that it’s very healthy?
When we lived in Illinois, we tended to make this soup more so only in the winter months, as we tended to grill out every chance we’d get throughout the entire summer period.
But it IS winter in Florida, y’all.
So, as I freeze under fleece blankets and heavy sweaters, we desperately needed a hot soup to eat. We proceeded with the task, and dug out our biggest pot on New Year’s Day. Sometimes we make a big pot of chili on New Year’s, but this year, I needed soup. It called to me as much as I needed the warmth of a sweater straight from the dryer.
And I tend to think the best thing about this recipe is the week full of leftovers it will leave you with. (In our two person and one furry creature household, we have the first main dinner, and then about three nights of leftovers, both eating one bowl per night).
And I always recommend making a pot of soup on a Sunday. It’s the best day of the week for soup. On Sunday’s while you tend to your chores around the house, you can enjoy the scent of the long, slow simmer on the stovetop. But better than that, you have leftovers for the work-week ahead of you. So Sunday it is for us. Or New Year’s Day.
So this year, cold as we were, we enjoyed a nice, leisurely New Year’s holiday at home. Our little sous-chef helped us out in the kitchen…. It’s really important and vital to the entire kitchen operation that you hire such a chef. Your soup might not turn out correctly without one on staff.
And as our soup simmered long, and slow, and low atop the stove, we went through the annual routine of packing up and storing away all our holiday decor for the season.
I’m a huge fan of leaving everything up through the new year holiday if we can help it. So barring any trips or scheduling issues that would prevent us, we always take down the tree and pack everything up for the season on New Year’s Day.
We used to be completely dependent on the weather in Chicago as to when all our outdoor decor came down. If given a window of ‘nice’ weather, we had to go outside and take everything in before the world froze up again. Otherwise, we could be so unlucky as to potentially have everything sit out there until March or some other crazy date. So now I absolutely love that living here in the South the weather is not a factor to anything in terms of my household schedule.
I also took every item out of my plastic storage bins, and gave each bin a deep clean. By the time I was done with the entire process, my storage bins were clean enough to slap a pizza on top and eat right off of the plastic if one wanted. Clean AND organized, on New Year’s Day. Such a bonus.
We also purged a few older items, donating them to charity. Out with the old, in with the new. I try not to let clutter pile up until it’s unmanageable.
Overall, we had a very relaxing and productive New Year’s holiday. The soup made the day though. And as we sat down to dinner that holiday evening, watching Blue Bloods Season Eight on DVD, I was sitting under layers of blankets to keep warm during our Florida winter. And as I watched NYPD PC Frank Reagan sit at the head of his dining room table during one of the infamous Reagan family Sunday dinner scenes, surrounded by all of his kids and grandkids, including my favorite television character of all time, Danny Reagan, I couldn’t help but notice that Frank tends to almost always wear the same straw colored, button-down, cable-knit sweater to family dinner each Sunday. ~
Bean’s Minestrone Soup Recipe
For more of Bean’s recipes - click below:
~ Bean’s Soulful Southern Chili ~
This December marks my third holiday season living in the South. And while I’ve already enjoyed seemingly countless new, exciting, and very different holiday traditions each winter here, there’s always something else I want to try, or add to my must-do list. Many of these events and outings are completely unique to Florida, Florida’s history, and, unlike Chicago - with the fact that bodies of water are not frozen solid, or on their way to be, down here in December - it means a whole lot of those holiday traditions involve the water in some way or manner.
St. Augustine’s 26th Annual Nights of Lights is one such event that I’ve incorporated into my holiday traditions here on the First Coast. And this year I planned my outing to be centered entirely around the coastal and inlet waters of Vilano Beach, Matanzas River, Anastasia Island, and the very historic city of St. Augustine itself.
I’ve seen the St. Augustine Lights each year here thus far. But mostly I’ve gazed at the lights just quickly touring or driving through, so this year I wanted to do things a little bit different.
Red Boat Water Tours - docked at the Vilano Beach Pier - hosts a nightly boat tour of the coastal waters which reflect the lights surrounding all the beauty in the city.
We booked our boat ride months in advance. The tour is so very popular it sells out way ahead of time for each evening they take on customers during the entire holiday season.
We had been on this exact boat tour during the day time with my family when they were in town for a visit about a year and a half ago now. We witnessed lots of dolphins swimming about during that ride, as we listened to the captain tell us many stories about the great history of St. Augustine. So I was pretty excited about gaining a different perspective of the city this year, at night, once the waters were completely dark, and with the lighthouse acting as a true beacon surrounding our entire ride, and all the magnificence of the lights display bordering the entire shore line.
Tours start at $40.00 per person, plus fees, and our original total came to over $90.00. However, since we had been customers in the past, they had offered us a repeat rider discount specifically for the Nights of Lights Tour, with fairly significant savings - it nearly halved our total cost. This repeat customer deal was better than any other sales/codes/online deals offered.
Honestly, the large discount is the only reason I booked the tour. I personally think we would never have paid this much to go back on the same boat we had already been on - as I tend to try different things each year, especially those that cost significant money. While tending to keep the traditions that cost next to nothing or are completely free. Sugar cookies, anyone?
I also planned for us to have dinner at Beaches at Vilano in advance of the tour. It makes sense to me to try a restaurant we’ve never been especially when we’re right there in the vicinity.
Our ride started at 7:15pm going through 8:30. Red Boat asks in the fine print for us to arrive about 15-20 minutes ahead of time. The restaurant is just opposite the pier and basically shares the same parking. So I planned our dinner for 5:30. That gave us enough time to work a full day, drive down, eat a leisurely meal, including time for a quick dessert, then head on over to our awaiting horse-drawn open sleigh upon the warm waters.
Dinner was just fine. I say that meaning there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, while at the same time it wasn’t the best meal of my life. It ended up being roughly half the cost as our anniversary meal at The Reef, which is located just down the street a bit… so the lesser cost was fabulous. And despite it not being the absolute best, I do recommend stopping in Beaches if you get a chance.
The atmosphere and the views are worth it alone. You will be transported instantly into vacation mode there - whether you’re on vacation, or not. And there are no complaints here about vacation mode.
At 5:30pm on a Tuesday, in December, they were quite busy. They had some very large parties already seated, mostly corporate and holiday parties going on, but each table was filled. They were busy enough that we were lucky to get seated right away, have our meal, with just enough time remaining for getting out to our boat tour immediately after. We had tried for reservations - but they do not accept. Make sure to allot for enough time if you are planning the same holiday outing.
I ordered a plain iced tea, skipped the soup, salads and appetizers, and had the flat iron steak with a side of broccoli - extra broccoli - skip the plantains, for my main course.
This is how I stay healthy or even somewhat healthy while dining out. I researched the menu in advance online. I logged into MyFitnessPal in the morning to plot out my calories for the day. And I knew exactly what I was ordering for dinner. After massive weight loss, I’m not about to go back to where I was. While I receive lots of questions asking me how I maintain the loss...it's a daily plan just like it was during the loss. Even more so afterward, I’d say, than during, sometimes.
Healthy decisions have to be part of the new and changed lifestyle. Wherever I am. Whatever options are available to me. And most especially when coming face to face with the almighty and highly coveted FRENCH FRY.
No, I never met a potato I didn’t like.
Don’t get me wrong, I still eat burgers and fries, just infrequently. The meal I selected for this outing is loaded with nutrients from the broccoli and is heavy on the protein from the steak. And nothing fried.
The protein helps the tummy feel full, and takes longer to digest, upping the metabolism. The harder the body has to work to process the food, the more calories it burns in the process. That’s why protein is a major perk to weight loss. And, the broccoli’s many and countless benefits will basically go without saying for right now and the purposes of this post, as the perks of eating it should be self-explanatory for most. Hence, the large plate of broccoli.
My only critique of this dish, at this restaurant, is that I would recommend the steak and broccoli be served on separate plates. The juices/sauces/butters/etc. from both dishes were already mixed together by the time my plate was served to me, and it didn’t take long for the entire dish to taste all the same. And when everything tastes the same, it’s becomes increasingly less appealing. Leading to less enjoyment from me, leading to my hubby’s meal becoming more and more appealing and quite tempting to me by the second.
Here is the hubby’s meal.
He ordered the burger with fries, and a side of grilled shrimp. He loved the shrimp, and everything else was exceptional. His margarita was just right.
We ordered the volcano cake with vanilla ice cream, berries, and topped with a berry sauce to split for dessert. This allowed us to still have a treat for the night, a special treat since we were out, but splitting saved on calories immensely as well as cost.
We received our volcano cake - minus the volcano. Sad face.
My husband didn’t know what a volcano cake was, so I was excited to split it open to show how the chocolate should pour out like lava, but, sadly, that did not happen. It was very, very dry. But while the cake was not as it should have been - it was still edible - it was C H O C O L A T E…. after all. No problem there - not a drop of it left by the end of the meal - we had the plate clean for them and ready to pop in the dishwasher, no pre-rinse needed.
After our dinner at Beaches was complete, we walked right on out to the very lonely looking pier.
It was dark. And desolate.
I instantly thought we had the wrong day.
I was just about to check my phone for information. But alas, we kept walking down toward the dock, and I could see red lights.Our Rudolph.
Our boat was there. Our Red Boat. It was just near empty and no one else was around - within an area that us usually fairly populated - any time of day.
Apparently, right before our arrival there was a miscommunication between tour boat companies and all the riders standing out on the dock waiting to board their respective boats.
Another tour company out of the same dock had some problems with their boat, sent everyone away, and when those people left, nearly all of the customers for our Red Boat left as well. So we were riding on a sold-out boat ride, and had most of the boat to ourselves. If you book this outing, don’t be afraid to call to verify if something’s up upon your arrival. And know there are many boating companies out in the area touring customers around. If one sends people away, confirm it’s your ride before leaving.
It was a lovely ride. A chilly ride. A dark ride.
With the sun long ago set, we were riding past all the low and tidal areas in the dark, with the lighthouse as a breathtaking backdrop in the black skies. Our boat captain told us some stories along the way. We learned of the ancient history surrounding Nights of Lights - something I had never heard before.
I knew there were many reasons floating around online of how the Lights came to be an annual tradition within the town 26 years ago. And that the story of the light in the window tradition had potentially dated back to ancient times. But I knew no real specifics.
Our boat captain told us his version… He said it all started with Jesus.
Jesus. As a refugee baby. No room at the Inn. In need of safe passage. Safe housing for the night. When the Spanish settled here on the historic First Coast hundreds of years ago, they put lights in their windows at night during the holiday season. To act as a beacon.
A beacon for weary travelers.
A light to welcome Jesus.
Jesus has room at their Inns.
A beacon of hope to the world.
Of all the stories I heard about the Lights, and why they exist, and why people still put candles in their windows to this day, I like the Jesus version. Baby Jesus… sleeping in the hay.
I’ll choose Jesus.
But regardless of why lights are put in the window displays, and which version and which stories are true, and which are legend in town… as the town itself has countless legends - the lights themselves are absolutely fabulous. You can choose which story you like. Which fits your reason as to why you light your way and what you choose to light your way with.
Just always choose the light - over the darkness - and you’ll be good to go.
They offered us heavy wool blankets onboard. They came in handy. We absolutely froze. I wore a turtleneck, the only long pair of pants I own, and one of the only closed-toe shoes I own, my new winter puffy down coat, plus ear muffs, gloves, hood, and brought two blankets of our own, as they served us hot chocolate. It was 53 degrees outside.
We both froze near to death. It had just been in the mid 80’s a second ago, this was an ice age. We laughed at ourselves as if we were delirious. 53 degrees in Chicago in December is a heat wave. Break out the ice cream and sit on the front lawn with it. Open the windows!
Now we were Floridian Fools covered in blankets. Not allowing our fingers and cheeks to feel the air if we can at all help it. I can already picture myself next year..., I’ll have the big Ugg boots to match. I already know it. How else can I get through another Florida winter? Either that, or we are moving to the Equator.
No other sensible or reasonable or sane-minded options exist.
I mentioned the cold makes us delirious now, right?
If you’re a local and booking this ride, dress appropriately. Bring blankets. Pack for summiting Mount Everest.
If you’re a tourist and here on vacation from anywhere up North, never fear, you’ll feel like you’re in the tropical paradise of your dreams as your boat captain plays ‘Pontoon’ from Little Big Town as you race off toward the lights of the night.
Know that if you are looking to obtain quality photos, they will be hard to come by. With all the movement, added into the darkness, even with my hubby’s better camera, we couldn’t really capture the moment digitally with any great detail. Our best photo remains at the top of this post. If the boat had come to a complete stop, plus a tripod, then, maybe, we’re talking. But some things can’t be caught on camera I guess. You know, like Santa Claus. I tend to never capture a great full quality image of him, but I know he’s out there.
If you are in the area, definitely check it out. It’s a holiday tradition and celebration in a beautifully historic town, for all to enjoy, regardless of background, beliefs, and a lovely addition to a family holiday tradition as well. After all, in constant learning about different beliefs and traditions and reasons why others might put candles in the window each December, we are reminded that while we are all different, we are also all the same. Everybody wants Hope. Everyone wants Light.
I’ll choose not to do the ride again as it was costly. But, next year, I plan to view the Lights on foot, in town… off from the water's edge... and on solid ground.
I’ll travel up close and personal.
I want to see the fire lamps.
I want to see the Christmas trees in the window displays. I want to walk the town and see the lights as close as possible. I want to listen for the sound of reindeer hooves on roof tops. And most importantly, I want to look for Santa Claus… I tend to believe he might be hanging around all the dreamy chocolate shops and gift shops and restaurants… blended in amongst the gorgeous and magical Lights of St. Augustine. Yes, those shops seem like a good place to start on my hunt for the big SC. But for now, I’ll enjoy my memory of a coastal Christmas holiday on the water’s edge. ~
I love bakeries. I love everything created and made by hand inside of bakeries. My favorite bakeries are the small ones - the local ones - the ones that aren’t part of any chain - the ones no one’s ever really heard of, except those who live right there in that same town alongside it.
Sure, I seem to always find time and room for Dunkin and Starbucks, etc. In fact, where else do I run to while on a long road trip but for a Dunkin coffee to keep me awake while I’m driving? But what about all those bakeries scattered across the country that don’t have a drive-thru attached? The bakeries you actually have to get out of your car for, and go inside the building to place your order??? Those bakeries... tend to be the best bakeries.
I like to think that my passionate love of bakeries and their heavenly creations runs in my blood... My grandfather was a baker for well over forty years. And when he wasn’t working, both he and my grandmother were at home. They spent hours upon hours in the kitchen. Always cooking. And always baking. Some of my favorite memories with both of them include time well spent in that small kitchen. My sisters and I helped them cook all kinds of food. But my favorite foods they made were their baked goods, of course.
My Papa taught us how to hand-roll the dough to make kolacky cookies. We always started by pouring flour onto the table-top - that was my favorite part - making a purposeful and deliberate mess. We rolled the dough and we put in the jellied fillings. We watched them bake. My grandparents made hundreds of cookies, each and every Christmas, before their health declined and they could no longer do it. It seemed to me that everyone they knew was given a large and heaping full silver aluminum tray of kolackys to take home and enjoy on the holiday. I’ve yet to be able to replicate those amazing cookies. I am continually determined to try though.
I believe my grandparents teaching us these skills in the kitchen has held influence on my life and transformed my love of food, and really just helped me become the person I am today. Foods are tradition. And when my husband and I bake now, not making nearly as much at a time that my grandparents did in their prime, we are always sure to pass some goodies along to a neighbor, a friend, or to whomever we will be seeing in the coming days.
This holiday season I am looking forward to baking chocolate chip cookies, frosted sugar cookies, and Angeletti cookies with my husband. It is now tradition in my home, and someday I’m going to replicate that kolacky as well… maybe even this year.
When I lived in Illinois, there was an abundance of local bakeries. I could go in any suburb surrounding me, living just outside of Chicago, and find a bakery. There was never a shortage of places to pick up special cookies for Easter, a coffee cake to bring to a party, or a cake for a special occasion. And my hubby’s favorite item served at any bakery are always their frosted sugar cookies. Me - I like the chocolate donuts. Simple, basic, and the best ever.
In my hometown, the Orland Park Bakery is one of God’s best creations. I make it a point to stop there at least once, and most likely always much more than once, every time I go up for a visit.
Some years back, I remember one cold December day, my husband and I decided to make the trek all the way out to Chicago just to visit a local bakery and pick up their special St. Nicholas Day gingerbread cookies. My hubby had them in his youth every year, so we wanted to bring the tradition and memories back, and he really wanted me to try them for the first time.
Well, being a self-proclaimed bakery connoisseur by this point in my life, I should have well known that making the very long trek fighting through Chicago holiday traffic and ridiculously sloppy weather to arrive at a bakery around two in the afternoon... is really not the best time to arrive at a bakery.
Bakeries thrive in the mornings. They are the place to be - in the morning. After almost two hours in the car and arriving mid-afternoon, what in the world was I thinking? We definitely should have gone in the morning for this adventure? But that was a different life I lived, and now I am fully awake by five am daily. Anything later - I tend to consider myself sleeping in.
We parked and walked through the icy cold and the busy and festively decorated street to find the bakery, just about to close. The window displays were empty. And once inside, the shelves were near empty as well. Sold out for the day of all product. I was crushed.
We inquired... And somehow, by some miracle of the bakery Gods up above, they still had a few St. Nicholas Day cookies left… We’ll take them! We were ecstatic. We took all that remained. Thrilled. We also snagged up a pre-arranged box of their sprinkle cookies simply because it was all that reminded for sale, sitting on a counter and patiently waiting to go home with someone. It was only after this outing did I learn that I could actually pre-order special product at bakeries to guarantee them available when I arrive to pick up.
So we were on our way out of the bakery to leave them be as they closed up for the day. It would be many more years before I learned my lesson about “sleeping in” and my enrollment in my own 5am Club membership. To me, at the time, we had simply just ‘lucked out’ that’ they had some cookies left for us to purchase.
We then strolled just a short ways down the street from the bakery and dined at a local Bohemian restaurant. It was an old building, and a place beautifully decorated for the upcoming holiday. It was an altogether lovely outing. An outing entirely revolved around bakery as the destination.
When I moved to Florida, it was my definite perception and really became quite hard to find a good bakery. They weren’t nearly as abundant as they were in Illinois. And when we did find a bakery - it didn’t taste the same as up north! I am extremely biased though...Chicago has the best food, and nothing else even comes close. So it’s very difficult for me to compare the delicious food from the north with the different food in the south.
Today, bakeries are still part of my life. I recently lost a lot of weight and made a complete lifestyle change these past few years. I am much healthier than I was during the earlier part of this decade. I had gained weight during a lot of inactivity, and now I have lost it all, and am quite happy to say that I am very healthy. I lost 83 pounds lost to be exact. I go into great detail on my weight loss journey here if you’d like to check out how I lost 77 of those pounds in one year’s time.
How can I be so healthy now and still eat donuts regularly? The answer is simply moderation. And - Discipline. I can eat ALL THE THINGS. Just not ALL THE TIME. I believe that when one fully grasps and understands that simple and basic concept, it can truly be life-changing.
And I love baked goods so much that I currently plan a once-a-month outing to our local bakery - Cinotti’s, located in Jax Beach, FL. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Declared on the top of each box. I lost 83 freaking pounds, while eating treats and breads and pastas and pizza and ice cream - AND - bakery, lots of Cinotti’s Bakery.
By establishing that roughly once-a-month outing, this allows for me to have the tasty treats that I love and never, ever want to give up, but also allows for discipline and patience in between outings. All that discipline and patience make for a stronger person. I don’t eat donuts every day - I eat them roughly once a month. And as I’m sure you’ve probably read in every magazine out there preaching at you on how to get healthy - don’t restrict. Don’t eliminate… Meaning, don’t erase foods from your life to get healthy. Learn to live WITH the foods you love. Because life is too short not to eat donuts. Just don’t eat them all the time. Simple, right?
These outings are so important to me I classify them by name - and time-and-date stamp them into my iPhone calendar as well. I then share the calendar event with my hubby so he knows when we are going out for donuts. Yay!
We have called these visits many things… Fabulous Friday, Wacky Wednesday, Tasty Tuesday, and Terrific Thursday. Whatever we call it isn’t important though; it's simply putting a name to an event on the calendar that is now tradition. Right now, hubby and I are living through our monthly ‘Totally Terrific and Tasty Tuesdays’ - That means we go to Cinotti’s, once a month, on a Tuesday. And my iPhone tells me as much, once a month. So simple, and sooooo delicious.
And for our November visit to the bakery, our furry baby Madeline was officially included in this little tradition of ours…. When I happened to glance down while we were paying, and underneath the cash register area toward all the little holiday trinkets for sale inside the shop... dog bones! Better yet - BAKERY dog bones! I was thrilled once again. How absolutely and utterly adorable. Made with flour and peanut butter and really just a few simple ingredients safe for a doggie’s tummy, and with a label calling them Canine Cookies… I HAD to purchase them! When we got home Madeline had the single best treat she ever had in her life. I know this not because she told me in English, but because she literally cried out loud for more after she was done with her very special bone. Even dogs love bakery.
And now that I know there is life out there at five am, and that is also roughly when bakeries are usually turning on their lights for the day, we would never now show up at the bakery at such a late hour as two in the afternoon. When that time of the month arrives, and my iPhone vibrates and jingles to tell me it’s our Totally Terrific and Tasty Tuesday, we go outside and exercise before the sun rises, and then head right on over to Cinotti’s. We arrive there fairly early in the morning, when they are fully stocked and selection is overflowing. Parents are bringing in their school-aged children up to the counter so they can pick up a special treat on their way to dropping them off at school. I think of my Papa and all his years upon years of hard work in the bakery. I walk outside carrying my taped, cardboard box of goodness, and I miss him terribly. This box of bakery is a special way of remembering him. Yes, life is too short not to eat donuts. And we bring home our box along with some peanut butter baked dog bones to our very happy, little, eight year old puppy. ~
10/25/2019 0 Comments
Living in Florida, it can be hard to notice the changing of the seasons. I sometimes need to use the drink menu at coffee shops to gauge where we are at on the calendar.
And right now, whether we know it or not, it’s still Autumn.
And besides driving past a set-up pumpkin patch display in front of a local church the other day, the only change I’ve seen in all the weeks since fall has officially started, is with the drink menu offering all those special, seasonal additions at coffee shops and grocery stores. The most famous of those seasonal drinks being, of course, the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, McDonalds, and Dunkin Donuts (Dunkin makes a delicious pumpkin donut by the way).
The only other seasonal change I notice here is specifically in Orlando - where Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party has been taking place at the Magic Kingdom now - since August… Yes - you read that right - August. Visitors dressed in their Halloween costumes, trick-or-treating down the festively decorated Main Street USA, since the middle of our hot and Endless Summer.
Considering I lost massive weight this past year and am extremely interested and determined to maintain that healthy lifestyle, when all the seasonal pumpkin drinks started to appear on the coffee shop menus, I really wanted to know how many calories are floating around inside those highly-flavored drinks. Well, the news is not so good:
***380 calories for a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks (!)
***310 calories for a medium Pumpkin Spice Latte at McDonald’s (!)
***420 calories for a medium whole milk Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte at Dunkin Donuts (!!!)
The amount of calories in just a single one of those drinks is now an entire meals worth of calories for me. I absolutely cannot even imagine drinking that much sweetness at once anymore. So, to help me maintain weight loss, I have been sticking with my usual unsweetened iced tea, or plain, black coffee this season.
It took me a little while, over a year ago now, but I am very used to ‘plain’ drinks now. Just the thought of ordering one of those lattes makes my stomach turn around. It’s definitely a good thing for my overall health that I don’t even really want or desire those drinks anymore, and I have also learned and acquired a few other wonderful and simple ways of feeling and enjoying the scents of fall without all the extra calories that can go along with it.
Below I’ll explain a variety of ways I’m acknowledging and enjoying the change of season while watching my calorie intake. These are just a few simple ways I am enjoying all that the Autumn season has to offer, without gaining weight, maintaining my weight loss, and not overindulging at all.
Specifically, here are six simple ways I’m enjoying Autumn 2019:
Yes, they come first! Because as they say - candles set the mood. And indeed they do. I went out and purchased a few pumpkin scented candles (room sprays work well for this too) and the scent in my home reminds me of all at fall has to offer. I think of hay rides, picking pumpkins, carving those pumpkins, and the scent of homemade pumpkin pie. And the bonus is that breathing in that heavenly scent doesn’t put one extra calorie into my mouth!
And since I’ve personally been staying away from Bath & Body Works for a few years now, I shopped around for the best autumn scented candles I could find. I enjoyed browsing around my local Pier 1, admiring all the adorable seasonal decor. And I purchased two three-wick pumpkin spice candles on sale for ten dollars each. I thought that was a reasonable price and keeps me away from Bath & Body Works where I used to spend too much money. And because I love candles so much, we picked out some autumn-scented candles at Target as well.
2 ~ I Avoid ALL The Seasonal Drinks - ALL THE TIME
This one is a no-brainer for me. For me - myself - and I - I’ve personally been staying absolutely away from all those high-calorie drinks that happen to be advertised everywhere I look.
I stick with my usual drink order. I do NOT indulge in drinks that have calories attached. My usuals are plain water, water with lemon or lime, always ice cold; plus, plain hot coffee, and hot or iced tea. Club soda or sparkling water. Period. Zero calories drinks. I do not indulge in that department. It works for me. It’s become a lifestyle for me and once something is lifestyle it’s easier to maintain. I do recommend trying it out.
Plus, in place of all those high calorie drinks, I purchased myself an Alex & Ani ‘Pumpkin Spice’ spice bracelet that I’ve had my eye on since last autumn - and I wear it every day. I enjoy IT - and not the extra calories it implies.
3 ~ Get A Real Pumpkin
So simple, right? By purchasing a real pumpkin, which can go for under ten dollars, and small ones, just a couple dollars at the grocery store, you get to enjoy the purest symbol of autumn, every single day. And if you get yours by visiting a pumpkin patch, all the better!
And, pumpkins always look fabulous sitting on the front porch, balcony, or lounging in front of a fireplace mantel.
Plus, you can turn the pumpkin into a project by then painting it or carving it out.
4 ~ Bake Pumpkin Seeds At Home
After we purchase our chosen pumpkin and enjoy the sight of it, on Halloween we carve the pumpkin and scoop it out. Then we bake the seeds in the oven. I always enjoy the scent that is released when carving open the pumpkin… Always so fresh, and smells like a pumpkin patch.
I first clean and rinse the seeds, then lay them on a baking sheet on top of non-stick foil with some sea salt sprinkled on top, and bake the pumpkin seeds in the oven. After they are finished being toasted, the seeds have a taste that cannot be replicated by any store-bought seeds. There is always something most refreshing about toasting the seeds on my own. It tastes better, fresher, and it really is. Plus, pumpkin seeds are one of those autumn delights that are very healthy! No weight gain on this one - in fact, eating nuts and seeds is a fantastic way of maintaining my weight loss.
5 ~ Eat the Seasonal Chicken Pot Pie - Just NOT The One Costco Sells
With fall comes an abundance of warm and seasonal recipes, like chili… and chicken pot pie. Every autumn I used to look forward to the seasonal changes at Costco by picking up one of their chicken pot pies. We would cook it for dinner and use the leftovers for lunches and dinners throughout the week. But most store-bought chicken pot pies, including Costco’s extremely large pie, are loaded with tons of calories that I do not need or intake anymore after weight loss. The chicken may be healthy, the veggies inside the pie may also be healthy - but the rest of that pie is definitely NOT healthy. And at 525 calories per ⅙ slice, the pie is extremely high in calories.
So, I’ve decided that with fall, I can still enjoy the seasonal meal of chicken pot pie. I’m just NOT purchasing the Costco version. I don’t need to give up the food. I just need to enjoy it in a more healthy manner. I’m also staying away from the easy-bake Marie Callender's version - which has a whopping 600 calories - in the smaller version!
Instead, on a busy week, we now grab Blake’s Pot Pie. It’s in the freezer section, has 370 calories per pie, and tastes just as good as any other store-bought version. I serve it with a side of steamed green beans, and an easy, healthy, and low-calorie dinner is ready in a flash.
I haven’t had the time this season to make a healthy and homemade version though, so if you have a chicken pot pie recipe that you make I’d absolutely love for you to share it with me in the comments below - please!
6 ~ Indulge - Without Overindulging
Yes, I still eat the pie. I just don’t eat ALL the pie. We bought a pumpkin pie two times this season from the local Winn Dixie. I can enjoy a slice, or two, even including whip cream on the side. But I don’t eat pie all the time, and don’t worry at all if we don’t finish the whole pie before it goes bad. And yes, I absolutely have thrown out the leftover pie, and more than once. I’m not ashamed.
I try not to waste food, but a part of weight loss and weight maintenance is knowing that some food WILL GO TO WASTE. I freeze what I can, I portion out for other meals what I can, I plan ahead like crazy. But there are still some times that food will be thrown away. And part of this pumpkin pie that we purchased did make it to the garbage can. Without my feeling any guilt or feeling bad that food was wasted. If you are looking to lose weight, or to maintain massive weight loss like I am maintaining, you will likely run into having to throw some food away. I have accepted this and do the very best I can not to, but with treats it does happen.
I have learned how to indulge - without overindulging. That means some food waste, some times. Part of my weight loss is allowing myself to continue to have all the treats that I love. In moderation. How can I let autumn pass me by without a piece or two of pumpkin pie? I can’t. I have to be able to eat the “normal” seasonal foods that I love without overindulging. Without - missing out. As they say, yes - everything in moderation.
Although, as I mentioned above, I do not drink all the fancy and high-calorie coffee drinks anymore. The difference there is lifestyle. I have removed any and all high calorie drinks from my entire lifestyle. So I am used to not having them anymore. To the point that the thought makes me ill just thinking about having one of them. I have very successfully removed those drinks from my life. That’s a choice I made. But I love desserts and treats too much to give them up entirely. I WILL continue to eat desserts - a choice by me to keep them IN my lifestyle. Desserts and treats remain. Which is why I moderate, and why I still eat pumpkin pie, and why I am ok with and understand that some of that dessert will end up in the garbage.
And yes, as the saying goes... “Better in the trash, than sitting on my *ss.”
Here are a few other ways I’m enjoying the season…
So even though I don’t drink all those amazingly fun and delicious autumn-themed drinks anymore, I do watch for their arrival onto the menu each autumn as a way to gauge what season I am currently living in. And then, I go about my usual routine. Adding in the flavors of fall in a very healthy, and very sustainable way. ~
9/13/2019 0 Comments
Well I never thought I would have a weight loss “before and after” — but here I am with my very own story to tell. Including the photos that I am now plastering onto the internet, with no shame, no remorse, no guilt, and no regrets. I share it with the hope that it reaches even one other individual who may benefit from my journey in some positive way.
I never thought this would be me at 38 years of age, having a personal weight loss success story, mostly because when I was younger I was always very athletic during my entire early and young adult life. I was a runner, and played lots of different sports in school and all the way into college with two-a-day practices. Weight was nothing I ever, and I mean never, ever, needed to worry about. I did not gain what they then called the ‘freshman fifteen’ at college. And I ate ice cream every darn day in the university dining hall. Sprinkles ALWAYS included.
After college I started working, and still my weight was just fine. Then, at about thirty years old, everything changed. I fought the change hard, and even tried to run through it, literally. My entire life had changed, slowly by the day, and yet, overnight as well. Running came to a dead halt - in fact, I honestly thought I would never run another step in my entire lifetime. I had some extremely complicated health issues come up; and I no longer felt in control of my own life. And on top of it all, I started to gain weight.
The weight slowly crept up and up for most of my early thirties. I watched all of this change happening to me and felt truly and completely helpless to it all. It wasn’t a good life change. It was bad change. And change is the singular reason I gained weight. I could be ashamed of it and regret it and hate myself for it… but I’m not ashamed, and I don’t regret it, and I definitely don’t hate myself for it. ZERO shame, ZERO regrets. And ZERO embarrassment either. Because if I did I wouldn’t be able to get past it all and change my life for the better. No regrets, because if I didn’t live through what I lived through I wouldn’t be living my very best life — right here, right now.
Below = Me - Before (at my heaviest):
Weight gain and weight loss is as simple and as complex as any and all change really. It can happen fast; it can happen slow. And how an individual responds to any change can help develop their character... Their character that can continue to mold and change and grow a person further into who they are meant to be.
In August of 2018, my family in Chicago came to visit me and my husband down in Florida. They took the long two day drive down, and with that drive came their car stocked full of supplies for the road, including a cooler and snacks of course. On the first full day they were down here, we all went on a wonderful mini road trip up north to Amelia Island for the day. And not getting to see my nephew very much, since our move away from Illinois had occurred just before he was born, I embraced riding in their car with them for the day. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with my newest family member; every time my nephew said ‘hi’ over and over again on repeat, and ‘big truck’ for every large vehicle he saw on the road, I laughed.
While enroute to Amelia Island and taking the car onto the auto ferry and out across the St. Johns River, my brother-in-law was kind enough to offer me a can of Lime Bubly to drink that they had stocked in the car. This one pure and simple act of kindness and generosity really can ripple effect and change someone’s life forever. I had never found a sparkling water brand that I liked. And I LOVED Coke. I always knew if I wanted to be really and truly healthy I needed to say goodbye to Coke and soft drinks from my life. I gladly took the Bubly from him and embraced trying this different brand of carbonated water for the first time.
Later that weekend at the grocery store I stocked up my cart with Lime Bubly. I devoted an entire shelf in my refrigerator to those bright green and happy looking cans. The cans have the words ‘oh hi’ printed on their cap… I thought of my nephew… oh ‘hi’ on repeat. Every time I wanted pop or that distinct feel of carbonation and bubbles in my mouth I took out a Lime Bubly. I stopped buying pop. I promised myself that much… that I could stop drinking pop. Even if nothing else changed regarding my health, I was going to be healthier for that one singular change.
And with that one act, between August and into September, I lost seven pounds. I was utterly and truly amazed! I was absolutely fascinated that I could lose weight — even if it was just a few pounds in the bigger picture — without pills or any other strange and unnatural concoctions. I was truly shocked with each pound that had come off... And with that initial accomplishment, the thought then entered my mind that maybe I could actually lose the weight I had gained during this tumultuous past decade of my life...
I became determined. I had given myself the momentum I needed, and was ready to take massive action. You see, momentum doesn’t just occur, or happen on its own, it has to be propelled by your very own initial movements. And once momentum is gained, it then becomes ever and increasingly difficult to stop once you’ve taken off and started the ride. I had the keys in my hand, I had started the engine, and now I had just hit the gas.
I accelerated… it had just taken me a very long while to know that I was the one who was sitting in the driver’s seat all along.
Being a very visual person, I knew if I stood any chance of success that I would need a way to track my progress, and track my food. I needed a way to see those seven pounds and the unknown number of future pounds in a graph format. I wanted to see the speed and rate of pounds lost. I needed to see it written down or visualed somehow to grasp the concept of the weight lost. And most importantly, I needed to understand how much energy (calories) to take in every day for success with both weight loss and weight maintenance. I had started traveling down the road; I now needed to know what lane was best for me to get into for safe travels on the journey.
Being a runner, while growing up I had counted and logged every mile I ran throughout high school. I logged so many darn miles run that when I graduated my parents put that crazy number on my graduation cake written into the frosting: 2,551 miles run in high school alone. If I can track thousands of miles run over the course of my early life, without the internet, then I can track the calories I ingest every day, today, with all the technology of the world at my fingertips, no problem.
I remembered my dear friend talking about MyFitnessPal a couple years ago. My perception was that she really embraced the use of that app and had molded it into her lifestyle very nicely to help her track her calorie intake, accurately, and with great success. In the back of my mind and in the front of my mind I knew whatever I was going to do from there on was going to have to be a lifestyle change. Not a short stint. No 21 Day Fixes for me. I needed routine and craved routine and needed to make gradual lifestyle changes, nothing abrupt.
So on September 12, 2018, and seven pounds down, I went ahead and downloaded the MyFitnessPal app. For the first time ever I typed my own weight into a digital database. It was NOT a good feeling. But I fought the horrible feeling and continued onward. I followed all the prompts. I read all the articles. I read all the notifications. I did what it said for me to do, and in my own way.
I wanted MyFitnessPal to be a tool, and not in any way for it to ever become a necessity or a hindrance in my life. And by this I mean I wanted to utilize MFP and other such tools to help me reach my goals, but for these tools to not become something I depended on for the rest of my life.
Unless I really wanted to, I didn’t want to need the app to be successful in my journey. I didn’t want to become addicted to it for the physical changes to happen or stay with me. If the Internet ever went down, I wanted to still be able to know how to eat and intake a healthy amount of fuel each day. I told myself whatever change I made had to be a change I could do every day no matter the circumstance. No matter what technology provides us in the future, and no matter what food inventory was being sold at the grocery store on any given day. I never once told myself that I needed the app or that I would gain a ton of weight without access to that app. Thus, I chose to remain on the free version of the MFP, and still have never once enrolled and paid for premium access. The only thing I truly needed - was me… Me, and my knowledge, and experience, and the correct use of tools, to appropriately help me get where I wanted to be.
I logged everything into MyFitnessPal for one single, solitary day. The next day the app suggested I take a picture of myself. Aghhhh!! The picture, it emphasized, would be to show my progress. At this stage I was absolutely mortified of a starting picture. Or a ‘before’ picture. Before WHAT??? I thought. Before. What. What is going to happen to me that I would progress from that point? I was honestly scared. The thought was almost too much to handle. I nearly quit the app right then and there. I could barely even stomach the thought of telling my husband that I had joined what I thought was a calorie-counting app, let alone take a photo of myself at the beginning of this - whatever ‘this’ was.
So I was about to log out of the app and not take the photo. Go ahead Christine! - Delete your newest online account. Unsubscribe. I had horrific, fearful thoughts of not succeeding in any way. It would kill me, I thought, to not succeed at such a large and monumental task. I was on the verge and ready to give up. As I was contemplating these actions, I remembered that I had already given what I deemed at the time the most important of important information into the app the day before. I had already told MFP my current weight! If I could do that, then I could take a picture of myself, right?
Movement. Action. Momentum. Action. Massive action.
So, before going any further in either direction, I decided to do some initial and brief reading on weight loss before and after photos. I was absolutely and positively mesmerized! Wow! People took photos of their weight loss journeys and posted them online?! It was shocking and very motivational. There’s an entire online industry of weight loss and health and fitness individuals who inspire people to change their own lives! This is a big, and I mean BIG, industry! I just didn’t know how big, and was never even aware of it, because I was never needing to even be aware of it before then in my life. So after some initial perusing online, I said, omg, what the heck, I’ll take the photos. Go ahead Christine, follow the prompts. Take the darn photo.
My God in Heaven, what in the world was I doing? What was I getting myself into?!
One photo can help change your life. Take that photo. Do it. Embrace it.
On September 13, 2018, one solid day into MyFitnessPal online, I took what would become my official ‘before’ photo.
And that initial photo now stands in contrast with me, present day, September 13, 2019. And a loss of 77 pounds. My very own “Before & After” weight loss success photo.
How did I lose those 77 pounds? Through much patience, discipline, routine, and logging. I also got over my fear of even talking about the process and told my husband right away when I got started. For some reason I thought he would be mad at my attempt - but he wasn’t. Quite the contrary - he has been immensely and extremely supportive. And this entire past year of the process he has been with me and encouraging me every step of the way.
I also lost the weight through the use of great tools. I successfully molded MyFitnessPal into my newly embraced ‘Lime Bubly Lifestyle.’ The cool green cans and the app were great TOOLS for me. Tools I could utilize, but tools I made sure I never NEEDED to survive. I would go days or weeks WITHOUT the Lime Bubly just to prove to myself I didn’t need it to lose weight. But gosh, the weight was falling off me. I tracked my calorie intake with MFP and ate the amount of calories it told me to eat.
And yes, I made plenty of mistakes. I just didn’t let those mistakes derail me or my progress. I embraced each mistake and learned from it. This made my drive and determination and motivation grow even further to succeed. I read. I watched videos. I listened to podcasts. Lots and lots of podcasts. Some of my favorite online health and fitness humans are Corinne Crabtree of ‘Phit & Phat’ on podcast, and John Glaude of ‘Obese To Beast’ and Alan Roberts of ‘Every Damn Day Fitness’ on YouTube. I really resonate with these three amazing individuals the most, and highly recommend listening to them or watching them or following them if you want to lose weight for real, for good, and to help you change your life for the better. They are as real and as raw as me and my story. They are honest and truthful. They can act as that extra ‘push’ you might need every day to keep going.
With the help of those weight loss rockstars, and many others, I really educated myself on the process of losing weight. I came to understand that weight loss is math. It’s mathematics - and it’s science - and it’s physics. Weight loss is simply eating less fuel than your body needs to maintain its current weight each day. So with MFP helping me add up the daily math, and my grasping and understanding of that simple scientific concept, nothing could stop me from succeeding. I lived and breathed and ate and logged and ate and logged. Repeatedly. Repetition. Routine. And now today I have reached a one year milestone achievement of this newly embraced, and most welcome, healthier lifestyle.
It’s all real. It’s untouched. And it is my sincere hope that this story, and with associated visuals to coincide, may help you, or someone you know… Someone who may be in the initial stages of weight loss; someone you know who is well into their weight loss journey but isn’t finished yet, or someone so lost and so far back behind the starting line that they’ve never even seen the internet world of “Before & After” yet - someone just like I was a year ago when I didn’t really know that there was a whole world out there of people who struggled with weight gain just like I did.
The weight has been coming off for over a solid year now, falling strategically and healthily into a range I am so very happy with. I loved myself before, but I love myself more now. It’s not because I look different; I love who I have become and am so very happy with ME. The physical pounds coming off my body have changed my life both physically and mentally. I have made lots and lots of life changes since I moved across the country a few years ago, but so very many of them have grown and magnified and developed into a life all their own during this past year of weight loss. My confidence is intact and strong and growing stronger every day. I spend money differently now, and am very strategic and responsible with every penny I spend (and I had kept a budget for years before this change too). Plus, I’ve really embraced minimalism, even more so now than when I started seeking a minimalist lifestyle a few years back.
Below = Me - During ~~~ Enjoying the ride...
And finally, I’ve joined the 5am Club. Yes, that dreaded nightmare of a club, where I wake up every day at five o’clock. And by doing it every day, I am an official card-carrying member. I recommend it highly — Do it. Join it. It may just be the single best card you carry in your wallet. And yet, gosh, I tell you, it’s not an easy club to join. And the membership fee is pretty steep. But if you join, it will change your life in ways you never dreamed of.
In this past year of journeying through seventy seven pounds leaving my body, and waking before the sun rises, I am happy to report that my health is improved, I published my website, started my very own Etsy Shop, make tee-shirt designs, have a fully functioning art studio in my home, and am writing my own lifestyle blog. But joining the 5am Club gets a big bold bullet point of emphasis all its own. Waking that early - on purpose - and even many days before five in the morning, is literally the swift kick in the BE-Hind that I have always needed to push myself beyond my limits. And at 38 years of age, I love that push, I embrace that push, and I love who I have become because of that push. I love challenging myself every day, and I wouldn’t change a thing… Although I do fully embrace any change coming my way.
And yes, I still do eat ice cream — sprinkles included — just not every day.
So with all that being said, I do hope by sharing with you the story of my journey, that any one part of it may have resonated with you in a change you have made or are looking to make in your life? Please let me know in the comments down below your thoughts, and what steps you are taking daily to improve your own life? But most importantly, let me know if you also like a nice, cool green, icy cold can of delicious Lime Bubly.
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