Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

 Happy Thanksgiving to you all from my family to yours!  Stop and take time to be thankful......

To be grateful....

For all of our abundant blessings!

Weigh-In Wednesday #5

Hi!  Just stopping in briefly today.  My kiddos have been sick and I am exhausted and feeling a bit under the weather myself.  But I didn't want to miss my weekly weigh-in.

This picture really spoke to me this week. I saw it shared on FB and it really helped me to not think about how I may look when running, but to remember that we all have to start somewhere.  

 So without further ado:

This week's weight loss is 5 pounds. (Current weight 285)

Total weight loss so far is 19 pounds in five weeks.  (Starting weight 304)

I truly hope you all have an amazing thanksgiving and enjoy time with your family and friends!

*To view the post that started the weight-loss journey, click here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

You Are Beautiful

Have you ever had one of those moments where it was almost as if God Himself was embracing you?  I don't mean in the literal, physical sense.  But a moment where He was so tangible, you just knew it was Him.

I had one of those moments today.  

After running some errands this morning, I was really hungry.  I went to Hardee's because they have those yummy low-carb turkey burgers.  Normally, I would have just gone through the drive-thru but today I went inside to order instead.  

I placed my order to go, then sat at a table near where the drink machines were and waited for them to prepare it.  Shortly, a few more people trickled in, including a blonde lady I had never seen before, which is rare in my small town. We know everybody. Or at least have seen people around town.  She was on the petite side, had short cropped blonde hair, looked to be about in her fifties, and had the sweetest smile and expression on her face.  

She placed her order, was given her cup, and walked over to the drink machines beside the table where I sat.  She filled her cup then she looked up at me.  

She smiled and said, "I just want to tell you, you are so beautiful!"

Then she walked off.  

I sat there kind of stunned and I think I mumbled a "thank you."  I immediately thought, Why would she tell me that?  I was dressed plainly with a button up shirt, jeans, and loafers.  I wore my everyday, nothing special makeup.  My hair was pulled back in a pony tail.  Just plain ole Amanda. 

A couple minutes later, my order was ready and I headed home.  I kept thinking about that stranger who was so kind. I was baffled.  I wondered/asked God why she would bother to tell a complete stranger that.  I mean, how often to we see people who are attractive or beautiful but we just keep it to ourselves?  

Then I heard His whisper.  Amanda, you are beautiful. And I love You

I didn't think that was something that I needed to hear from anybody, or God at that. But I guess I did.  And He knew I did.   But most of all, I needed to hear it from Him. 

And I have something that I want to tell you......

You are beautiful!  And He loves you.  I don't know what all of your struggles are.  I don't know what battles you are fighting. But He does.  He sees.  He knows.  

You are beautiful!  I pray that you will hear His whisper in my voice just as I heard His whisper in the voice of a stranger.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Weigh-In Wednesday #4

Hello, everyone.  I hope all is well with you.  We are recovering from being sick around here.  My girls both missed two days of school last week and by the end of the week J and I both were under the weather (J had it earlier in the week than I did.)  Gotta love winter colds/allergy attacks or whatever we had.   Glad to be better. 

Well, today is weigh-in number four!  It has been a whole month!  I have a smile on my face right now.  And maybe some tears in my eyes.  It has been a really long time since I have consistently eaten healthy for this long.  I feel freer, lighter, in a better place not only physically but also spiritually and emotionally.   There have been some outward changes, but I think the most significant changes at this point have been inward. 

I mentioned last week that I wanted to step up in the fitness area.  I tried without success to find a CrossFit class that I could fit into my schedule.  The ones offered here in my itty bitty hometown aren't at a time that I can attend.  And I enjoy aerobics classes, but the Zumba classes I would have to attend at the next town over aren't at a time I could go either, mainly because of J's work schedule.  So, I stepped up my strength training at home.   

We have a Bowflex type weight machine at home, so J and I worked out on it.  I have to say that it isn't my favorite thing in the world.  I would rather have free weights, a bar, and a bench to do all my strength training with.  I think J feels the same.  We may go that route soon.  We also looked at an eliptical machine, which is one of my favorite things to workout on.  We may go that route as well.  

I also started running this past week.  I loved it. I used to run when I was smaller and I always enjoyed it and the sense of accomplishment I got from it.  I kind of did it on a whim.  I was walking one night and just starting running.  It surprised me how much I liked it.  It isn't easy at my weight, and I definitely couldn't do much, but it was a start. And it felt good.  I  have run three times since last weigh-in and each time I have run longer.  I will continue building up my endurance.  I am thankful that I found something that I enjoy and actually look forward to doing. 

Here is an excerpt from my fitness log this past week showing the strength training and cardio.  I am trying to build lean muscle so I can burn more calories. 

Fitness Log Excerpt:
Wed., Nov. 13-- 20 side lunges (both legs), 50 squats holding 4 pound weights, 10 front lateral raises, 10 side lateral raises, 50 bicep curls, 20 tricep raises---all with 4 pound weights. 
Mon., Nov. 18 --60 minutes walking/jogging, Upper body strength training with higher weight, less reps

After one of my run/walks. It started drizzling/raining on me.  I just pulled up my hoodie and kept going. I was soaked when I got finished. But I loved every minute of it. 

As far as nutrition, I am still trucking along. I haven't even allowed myself a "cheat meal."  With Thanksgiving coming up, I am a little nervous about all that temptation, but I decided that before I go to eat with our family, I will decide what I will allow myself to eat.  Then, I will tell Jared and he will hold me accountable.  I don't want to do without completely, but I don't want to gorge myself either. 

I am still watching my carbs.  I'm not totally doing without them, just only eating those on the low glycemic index; the good carbs. 

When I weighed this morning, the scale had not budged from last week.  I am disappointed and a little frustrated about it.  I haven't eaten anything outside of my set guidelines. I have excercised.  Not sure how I didn't lose any weight. Maybe it is one of those plateau weeks. I don't know.  BUT, I didn't gain it overnight and I won't lose it overnight.  And just like Dori says, "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming."  That's what I'll do. I will say, though, that my clothes are fitting more loosely.  I started noticing it this past week and so did J.  It won't be long before I will be able to go down a size.  I may not have lost weight, but I lost inches for sure.  There are very noticeable differences in the way my clothes fit.

What I lost this month:  
14 pounds!  Whoo-hoo! Starting weight 304 and current weight 290.  14 pounds in a month is good. 

What I gained this month:  
* A sense of accomplishment
* A new appreciation for my husband's unconditional love for me
* A more positive outlook
* Freedom from feeling like I was controlled by food
* Freedom from cravings that are unhealthy (i.e. sodas, baked goods, etc. I now really crave water and fruits and veggies)
* An appreciation for the natural "high" I get from exercise. 
* Freedom from binges
* Accountability (from you guys.....thank you so much!)
* Some of the real me back
* A new appreciation that God does what He says He will do and that when He tells us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, He wasn't kidding. 

So, how are you guys doing?  I heard from a lot of you at the beginning of the month and you wanted to jump on the bandwagon to being healthy.  How is it going for you?  Any struggles? Victories?  I say any small victory is worth celebrating!  Sometimes, throughout the day, I may think of the small victories that I am winning.  Like, I just passed up that brownie....small victory #1.  I didn't drink a soda today....small victory #2.  I made myself exercise even though I had a headache.....small victory #3.  It may sound silly, but it helps me stay encouraged. Lots of small victories throughout the day add up to large victories in the long run!

*To view the post that started the weight-loss journey, click here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guest Post: Simmering Holiday Scents from HollyDays

This morning, I'd like to welcome Holly from HollyDays!  She has a wonderful idea for a sweet neighbor gift. Take it away, Holly!

I love the scents of the holidays; a turkey and casseroles baking in the oven, fresh apple cider on the stove and a fire in the fireplace. There is just something magical about walking into a warm cozy home surrounded by holiday scents. Last year, we were new to our neighborhood and I wanted a way to give a small Thanksgiving gift because many of our sweet neighbors had welcomed us into the neighborhood with small gifts the week we moved in our house. I decided to make up some simmering scents to cook on the stove and I loved how they turned out. Here’s the tutorial.

Simmering Holiday Scents

What you will need:
Oranges (I used tangerines – so small and cute)
Cinnamon Sticks
Ground Cinnamon (you could just use cinnamon sticks, but I like how the powder mixes up with the other ingredients)
Whole Cloves
Whole Allspice
Bags for packaging

1| Thinly slice apples and put them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake in 150-170 degree oven for about 4 hours. I flipped mine once every 30 minutes – 1 hour.

2| Time to combine ingredients: You don’t have to use these exact measurements, but this is a guide for what to use. (This is per bag, so if you need to make 10 bags, I’d multiply x10 so you don’t have to do them individually.) I used 1 TBSP Whole Cloves, 1 TBSP Ground Cinnamon, Approx. 1 TBSP Whole Allspice, ½ TBSP Nutmeg. Stir together.

3| Pour seasoning mixture in bag. Layer cinnamon sticks (about 2 per bag), slices of apples (as many as you like - I used 2-3). Then top with a whole orange. I like the color it brings to the bag.

4| Tie with a tag. We have these cute tags that come with twine available on our website.

5| Make sure you give the recipients of your bags directions on how to use the scents: Slice or cut orange, pour all contents in small saucepan, add 2 cups water and simmer to bring the scents of the holidays into your home. Replenish water as needed.

Hope you enjoy the scents as much as I do! Happy Holidays or as we like to say, Happy HollyDays!
- Holly

Thanks, Holly!  Isn't that such a thoughtful gift?  It would be a great teacher gift as well!  Head on over to HollyDays and get your customized gift tags and while you are at it, take a look at all of the beautiful Christmas cards, enclosure cards, address labels, party supplies, and personalized gift items.  Enter code CULTIVATECREATE for free shipping on the entire site until 11/23.  

Holly is the founder and designer at HollyDays, which was officially opened in 2006.  She is the mom to Karidyn, wife to Jonathon and loves spending time with family, drawing and designing, planning a good party, and decorating her home. 

Connect with Holly on:
Her Blog

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Budget Thanksgiving Kid Table

This kid table decor cost me less than $6 for four place settings. 

I wanted a no-fuss kid table. One that I didn't mind if it got spilled on, stained, or a little messy.  If your kids are anything like mine, there is bound to be some sort of mess by the end of the meal. 

I wanted to give the kiddos a fun area, but I didn't want to spend a lot of moolah. 

I raided the dollar aisle at Target after Halloween and scored lots of dollar items for only 30 cents each.  

These are wine bags.  I have no use for them as wine bags, but I loved the cute sayings on them.  I grabbed them knowing that I could think of another way to use them.  I stuffed them with plastic bags so they would stand up and greet everyone with their cute sayings. 

I already had napkins, forks, sodas, pumpkins, burlap, and twine.  Most items were leftover from fall decorating and my sister's Little Pumpkin Baby Shower

Let's break it down. How much did I spend?
At Target--(75% off dollar aisle items) 
*wine bags                   3 @ .30
*Treat cups                 1 @ .30
*Felt pumpkins          4 @ .30
*Turkey tea lights      2 @ .30
*Happy Harvest sign 2 @ .30

At Hobby Lobby--(last year 75% off end of season sale)
*place cards          1 pack @ .50

At Dollar Store
*plates                    1 pack @ $1

For a total of................... $5.10 plus tax 

Simple, but inexpensive and something that the kiddos can enjoy!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thanksgiving Tablescape and Thankfulness

November.....the month of thankfulness.  

A time when we all reflect on our blessings and maybe tell each other a little more often how much we appreciate one another. A time when we thank God a little more often for what He has done for us and given us so undeservedly. A time when we actually think about all the things that we so often take for granted. 

We gather around the table in homes, eat together and enjoy being together.  We smile. We laugh.  We are thankful. 

I wanted to create an inviting space to sit down together for a nice Thanksgiving meal. A space that invites smiles, and laughs. One that spurs on love and openness and thankfulness.

I used my daughter's scalloped bulletin board as the base for the centerpiece.  I then added in gold and neutral pumpkins that I already had from this centerpiece.  Then I walked around my yard and gathered magnolia leaves, twigs, and pinecones for a more natural look that brought in some of the greens and yellows from the plaid tablecloth. 

I used a gold paint pen to write names on magnolia leaves for place cards. The silverware was tied together with jute twine with a sprig of rosemary to adorn it.  I purchased the embroidered napkins at Target for only $2.99 for a set of six. (I am thankful for 75% off at Target.)

The black paint on the cork board is chalkboard paint. If you didn't want to use magnolia leaves as place cards, you could write the names of your guests on the board itself in front of each setting......

.......or you could have them each write something they are thankful for. 

There are so many things to be thankful for. Don't you agree?

Linking up to: 
Metamorphosis Monday on Between Naps on the Porch
The DIY'ers on Home Coming 
Tuesday's Treasure at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Happy Hostess

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