Fall Bucket List

Since fall is here, school has been back in session. It feels like the time between now and Christmas, then New Year flies while the rest of the year slows down. Most years, I have worked in busier retail positions that have had me feeling like all I did was sleep, eat, work, repeat. This year, it’s been much slower. I’m hoping things pick up again but with all this time, I have already bought some pumpkins, made my first pie, got my first pumpkin spice latte and my girls are already excited about fall.

Since I don’t have too many hours at work, I have decided to compile a list of my fall bucket list activities I don’t get to do as often now

1. Pumpkin patch.Every year my mom and dad take my girls to a particular pumpkin farm that has games, activites- it’s the highlight of their fall. We are going this weekend and I can actually go with them this year. It will be my first time actually being able to attend.

2. Bake my mom’s harvest cake. It’s not a favorite, but it’s still become a tradition. It’s kind of an apple spice cake type cake and I can only really eat 2-3 pieces total but it still feels like it’s officially fall when I make it.

3. Ace Nano next month, and maybe even get the book finished. It’s going to be book 1 of a series I started last year. I already have it planned out and this is going to be my biggest writing project by far.

4. Start my collection to be that obnoxious house for both Halloween and Christmas- the one you can see from way down or up the street.

I love decorating and I think thanks to me loving and making decorations, my kids are also obsessed with holiday decorations.

5. Do at least 10 Fall/Winter/Holiday/birthday DIY tutorials and possibly start a DIY youtube channel. I have one about dream interpretation started, I’m just waiting for us to pay our phones off through our current provider so we can switch to a new provider- then I’m getting a new phone and I’ll start doing Youtube again.

6. Get the book I’m working on finished and ready for editing. I’m about half way there (60 some pages in, looking to get into the 120-130 range then end it). I wanted to have it ready to sell by Christmas but that won’t happen, I’m wanting to get it out around Feburary-March of next year. The first was published back in February of this year.

7. Sell out of my tie-dye shirts this coming month. I’m going to be teaching a class and I’m hoping I’ll be able to come close to selling out when I do it. I already had to build one size back up, sold out in one sale. I’m hoping selling in person will help me sell out.

8. Get some great pictures of my 8 year old. It’s “not fair” to her that most of the pics are of the 3 year old but one poses and the other doesn’t. She is finally starting to enjoy having her picture taken but it’s still a bit of an aggravation getting her to hold still in a pose long enough to snap the shot.

9. Plan and organize my first party. We just bought this house 2 months ago. We have space for people to park, a yard we can entertain in and a house we can also entertain in so I’m wanting to plan out my first party in our new house.

10.

 

What are some of the things on your bucket list? I’d love ideas to do with my kids.

Anyone else doing Blogtober?

I totally forgot this was a thing, but decided to do this with 4 websites.

Since I’m letting my “primary” site expire (it was an experiment and it filled it’s need, so the special extras are expiring), I’m going to use this challenge this month to up my content on all four niche sites.

I’m going to try to keep with the fall/Halloween theme but also thinking winter/Christmas/Thanksgiving- crafts and of course, allergy friendly recipes.

 

This will coinside with a major holiday promotion I’m starting today as well as prep for Campnano next month, so I’ll be leaving one challenge to enter another.

If anyone is doing Blogtober, I’d love to see some links in the comments

 

Decluttering to Move on a Tight and Busy Schedule

I have largely been inactive on this site due to finally closing on a house we have been trying to buy. We cut the lease on our apartment and have one more week to have our stuff out, we have been living here for about two weeks now.

Like most couples with kids, we have school schedules along with work. He works close to 50 hours a week and I’m part time but since school is starting and I work in clothing retail, my schedule has been crazy busy. We knew we were possibly going to move but due to the first loan falling through (blessing in disguise), I put off starting to declutter and pack- for fear of jinxing us. I am now regretting not starting, but we have almost all our items moved and are in the process of unpacking.

Most of the websites say to start seriously packing about a month before the move, start with nonessentials but we decided to move in to the house as soon as we had our new bed and move stuff over as we had time. You can even find tips for 3-4 months before the move. When you know you’re moving and have that much time, it’s easy to declutter, pack neatly and even plan and hold a yardsale.

We also had reasons, we didn’t want a ton of cardboard boxes clogging up both homes so we decided to pack several boxes then reuse. I started with the same 3-4 boxes, but it wasn’t working. I had a neighbor give me one box and my parents gave us several others. We still have managed to move a full 4 bedroom townhome over to the new house- with only about 10 extra boxes. We already had several totes, I’m in the process of switching from storing things in cardboard to totes.

Here are some tips I have come up with with moving quickly on a busy schedule

Tips for Packing Up the Old House

1. Don’t be afraid to recruit help- Packing, moving and taking inventory of your stuff while two kids are running around unpacking boxes can take a lot of extra time. Recruit someone to help with watching the kids.

2. If it’s not a major move (across state lines or the other side of the state), you don’t need to waste money on a moving van- We have a truck and other family members with trucks. If you have any friends or family members with trucks, recruit them. Just paying gas money saves on what you would pay a mover.

3. Recruit your kids to help- your kids will be just as excited and as nervous about the new house as you are. Give them some boxes and have them pack their toys, games, clothes and anything else of theirs.

4. Don’t stress if you can’t get everything sorted before moving but if there is anything big you are definitely replacing, put it to the side. You may be at the end of your lease so you don’t have the time to slowly move, or you could be like us- not wanting to jump the gun then having the house close super fast, you could even be dealing with an eviction. No matter the reason, you’re needing to be out of your old house/apartment fast but you have all the time in the world in your new home. If you’re down to the last month, or last three weeks but you both work 40 hour weeks, find someone to come with you to help watch your kids and move as much in one day as possible.

5. When you’re packing, look at each item you’re putting in boxes and ask “do I really want to take the time to move you?” If the answer isn’t a “yes” enthusiastically, you may want to toss it.

6. Use your kitchen and bathroom towels to pack up glass and breakable items. It gets your towels moved and helps protect

Tips for Unpacking at the New House

1. While unpacking, throw in the 1 year rule. If it’s a nonseasonal item, if you haven’t used it in six months give a serious thought to when you last used it. If you can’t remember, or it’s been well over a year, toss in the donate/sell or trash box.

2. Make sure you keep the three boxes- “Donate/Sell,” “keep” and “toss.” This is one of the primary tips I have read in all organizing, decluttering and cleaning advice pieces but it’s very important. When you have your “keep” box full, put everything immediately in place. If a nonessential is

3. If you move boxes you still had packed from your last move and you haven’t touched them, you may want to rethink holding on to them. There is a good chance that the items are nothing more than dead weight. If it’s a box filled with your children’s art work, there is a website Artkive that will turn them into a book for you and will even keep and dispose of the drawings. That way, you have the pictures but they will be neatly compiled in book form and won’t take up too much space (or get ruined as easily)

If you don’t have the money, you can also scan the drawings on the computer and save them under a file on your computer, you can even go on a self publishing site, like Lulu Publishing, and create a picture book yourself.

If the boxes have clothing items you’re trying to save “for when you lose those extra X pounds,” maybe keep one or two quality pairs of pants, but just donate or give them away to someone who wears that size now. If they have misc stuff that you’re just afraid to give up because you don’t want to replace, just remember that you haven’t used it since before your last move- you likely won’t miss it. Those boxes (we all are guilty of moving unopened boxes around from home to home) are the easiest way to declutter.

4. Go through your shoes. Chances are, you are holding on to several pairs you never wear. If you have multiple shoes that are very similar (I personally have 3 pairs of black boots- a pair of ankle boots, mid-calf and knee high- I had more but got rid of all the others, I had a favorite pair I wore 24-7 but finally had to get rid of them. After getting rid of the favored pair, I started collecting boots trying to find a pair that could replace the ones I liked and ended up with about five or six pairs of black boots I didn’t like, so I kept one of each length and wear them all occasionally)

5. Pick easy targets- most of us have ended up with large collections of kitchen gadgets that we don’t really use. It could be that somehow you now have 5 spatulas but only use 2. You could continue to save all the others for when the others get old and let them take up precious space, or you could give them away or sell them and get them out of your kitchen. Take a look around your kitchen, it’s usually one of the easiest targets. Look for canned and boxed food past the exp date, open packages of food you tried then didn’t like or gadgets you had to have and never used. Choose the bathroom next and find all the cosmetics, soaps, cleansers and medications past their exp dates, small sample or travel size shampoos and soaps you don’t use and anything else that is taking up room. Getting those two rooms will give you the motivation and energy to go through the other rooms to get them in shape.

 

These are 11 decluttering and moving tips I have found so far. We are still in the process of moving, so when we finish and get everything posted, I’ll make another list of the other tips I used.

If you have had to move quickly or downsize homes, how did you handle the decluttering and packing? What were some ways you kept your sanity? I’d love to hear.

 

Education.com Contest- open to Kindergarten through 5th Grade

The same website that gives worksheets for elementary school kids of all ages, is now holding a contest. The deadline is Halloween and winner will win 500 towards a college fund, 1000 donation and a lifetime membership to Education.com for their teacher.

This contest is made to inspire creativity in the form of story telling and art.

There will be one winner from each grade, K-5th and the details can be found on the website. Go to Education.com (here) for all details and to enter

 

Prize

Six (6) students will be selected to win the following:

  • $500 to contribute to future education expenses.
  • $1000 donation for their school or local library.
  • Premium lifetime membership to Education.com for their educator.
How to apply

Students will need to do the following by October 31, 2019 to apply:

  • Obtain a completed consent form signed by the applicant’s parent or legal guardian.
  • Respond to the following prompt in the appropriate format (listed below): Describe a time when you were having so much fun, you didn’t realize you were learning something new!
    • Kindergarten students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write about what is happening, or ask an adult to write a sentence or two describing your picture.
    • 1st grade students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write 1โ€“3 sentences about it.
    • 2nd grade students: Write a short story (5โ€“8 sentences) and create at least one picture to illustrate it.
    • 3rd grade: Write a short story, journal entry, or comic strip.
    • 4th grade: Write a short story, journal entry, poem, or comic strip.
    • 5th grade: Write a personal narrative, short story, poem, or comic strip.
  • Submit the above to our judges:
    • Via email to contest@education.com.
    • Via standard mail to:
      Education.com
      401 East Third Avenue
      San Mateo, CA 94401
      Attn: Limitless Learners

 

What I learned from my first 20 days of Whole30

I’m on day 21, so I only have 9 days left.

I honestly am not feeling extreme changes but as motivation yesterday when I was losing motivation and found I lost around 10lbs so far.

Due to the insane changes in the weather, my Osteo was acting up and I have slacked on cardio but made sure I got a lot of other types of exercise in.

I am feeling a little better, never felt the “tiger blood” energy surge but little by little I am starting to feel a bit better.

I’m hoping my last week will feel better than I have been feeling.

Through week 1

Throughout week 1, when you’re supposed to go through withdrawal, but I never did. I was excited and felt better my first week than any other weeks. I had some cravings but they were manageable and I also went long periods without actually being hungry.

Since I am still able to have my plain, black coffee every morning that has saved me throughout

Week 2

Throughout week 2, I had nights I’d be out as soon as my head hit the pillow and other nights I felt like I’d be awake all night. Some days I had tons of energy and others where I felt I could sleep all day and still be exhausted. I am down 10lbs and down about 2 sizes, though.

Week 3

During week 3, I started feeling annoyed. I am not feeling the extreme benefits so many people said they felt and thanks to that I had a few days that i considered giving up, but since i am so close i started taking it day by day.

I’m now on the first day of week 4 and seeing the light at the edge of the tunnel.

I have found some healthy and filling breakfasts I can make fast and learned what to do to get rid of mindless snacking.

I’m learning how to listen to my body when it’s actually hungry and how to handle when I’m feeling bored instead of snacking.

Mindless snacking has been my downfall through the years. I’ll get bored, stressed or tired and start eating sugar.

I’m trying to relearn eating. Changing from eating out of boredom or stress and find new ways to handle.

Going so long without sugar is also making vegetables and other foods sweeter.

I’m now going into my last week so I’ll see how I feel from here on but the Whole30 has been a major change from how I have been eating.

Why is Sleep Such an Important but Neglected Resource?

This post does contain an affiliate link, so I will be paid a small commission for any purchase of the book but I am NOT affiliated with the book itself, I just found the book extremely useful and want to recommend it.

In our society and age, the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is used quite often. People don’t think twice about sleep when they have work to get done and sleep is often sacrificed. Our society is sicker than ever with heavy caffeine dependencies. I was constantly joking about being sleep deprived, then I found the book, “Sleep Smarter” and it’s changing how I’m looking at the most valuable resource to health, weight loss/healthy weight, younger looking skin and productivity.

According to Medical News Today’s website

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 2015 recommendations for appropriate sleep durations for specific age groups are:

  • Newborns (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours each day

  • Infants (4 to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours

  • Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours

  • Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours

  • School-age children (6 to 13 years): 9 to 11 hours

  • Teenagers (14 to 17 years): 8 to 10 hours

  • Adults (18 to 64 years): 7 to 9 hours

  • Older adults (over 65 years): 7 to 8 hours

Here in our current overwork/workaholic state, we deem working more important than sleeping but there have been studies showing that sleep deprivation is as bad for your brain as a night of binge drinking. As you lose sleep, part of your brain starts to shut down- it causes you to lose impulse control, slows your reflexes, slows your mind down and you also lose focus. It causes changes in moods and cuts off sugar to the brain- which powers it and is why you start craving junk food- and lose the will power to resist.

Sleep repairs your mental state as well as helps your body heal and grow. It is impossible to work your best, be your best and look your best if you’re running on little sleep.

If you suffer any of these symptoms, you could be suffering sleep deprivation

  1. Excessive yawning
  2. Mood swings
  3. Trouble grasping even simple new concepts
  4. Feelings of zoning out and even losing touch with reality
  5. Forgetting
  6. Fatigue- constant
  7. Feeling excessively tired, even after sleeping for longer periods
  8. Trouble with concentration
  9. Clumsiness
  10. Craving sweet and junk foods
  11. No motivation for anything

Sleep deprivation has many effects on the body

  1. Lowered immune system
  2. Weight gain
  3. Respiratory and cardiovascular diseases
  4. Hormone production (sleep helps growth in children)

If you feel that you’re being affected by sleep deprivation, there are plenty of steps to take to fix it. The book I’m reading, “Sleep Smarter,” by Shawn Stevenson outlines 21 ways and the science to back them up. If you haven’t read it, I suggest reading it.

You can get it here.

 

Some of the ways listed (that have scientific backing)

  1. Set a schedule to always go to bed and wake up around the same time.
  2. Turn off all electronics 2 hours before bedtime
  3. Sleep with a cooler room temperature
  4. Don’t consume caffeine too late in the afternoon
  5. Keep in mind that we sleep in cycles- each full cycle is 90 minutes (1 1/2 hours) so try to set an alarm at the end of a cycle (2 full is 3 hours, 4 is six hours and 5 would be 71/2). If you wake up in the middle of a cycle, that is why you’re tired and groggy. In order to fully function and feel refreshed, you need full cycles.

The book goes in depth about the importance of the steps and has another 16 tips but those are the ones I am personally working on and have found to be of particular use in my home.

As you can see, sleep is a very important resource that we do not get near enough of. There is no use to stay up all night working on a project- you might “finish” the project, but it will not be your best if you’re too tired, the two hours after you wake up are said to be the most productive hours of your day- so that is the best time to work on important projects.

If anyone feels like I did, like no matter how much sleep you get you are never functionally awake, read this book. Just a few days after reading it and working on changing a few things, I feel more energetic and don’t take as long to get out of bed as I used to.

 

Life during the first week of the Whole30

I’ve been studying up on the Whole30 for a few years. I’ve had it recommended and read a lot about it for autoimmunity and inflammation.

Three years ago, I was diagnosed with Hashimotos when I had to have half my thyroid taken out. I’ve been medicated but my meds have had to be adjusted every few months. I was also diagnosed with a mix of IBS and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance and have been on a strict gluten free, low dairy diet. I found myself craving and eating chocolate way more than I need so I decided to quit studying the Whole30 and the day after Easter, I made myself start.

Rules of Whole30

  1. No sugar, unless it’s fruit in moderation, no sugar is allowed at all.
  2. No legumes- I tend to gravitate towards soy due to eating gluten and dairy free foods primarily but I have heard a lot of bad about soy and thyroid. This is a change I’ve been wanting to make for a while and I can live without beans or peas.
  3. No Grains- slightly less difficult than giving up soy but not so much. Since ridding my diet of the majority of grains I was eating, I’ve been having trouble finding a good gluten free bread. Baked sweets are the hardest for me personally but bread itself isn’t hard at all.
  4. No dairy- aside from chocolate (which covers 2-3 categories here), it’s not an issue. I ate very low dairy to begin with and chocolate was the reason I couldn’t fully give up dairy.
  5. No alcohol- this is a nonissue. When I do drink, I only have drank 1-2 times in the past couple years and last time closed my throat up, so I’m pretty much over it. The last 7 or 8 years, every time I attempted to drink, it would cramp my whole body up and I would be hurting until I finished drinking enough for a buzz so it’s not worth the calories (or hangovers)
  6. No stepping on a scale- I don’t do this too often but now, I’m wanting to just because I was told not to…
  7. Don’t sub normal deserts or baked goods with compliant remakes- Ok, this one is understandable but… paleo cookies are just as good as regular…

How I’m doing so far

My end goal is to try to stick to a Paleo majority diet when I finish. I also am hoping to lose some weight. I lost 50lbs within a few months of having my third baby- before and immediately after my thyroid surgery. Part was normal postpartum weight loss but part was due to my thyroid being hyperactive (the reason I had to have part removed)

My meds are stable and working, I start to lose- they quit working and I stop losing or even gain so that was part of why I decided to try Whole30. I also have 2 forms of Arthritis and thanks to having scans in multiple areas on my body, I have inflammation issues and this is supposed to help with inflammation.

 

The first day was pretty stressful, I was back and forth. It was easier than I thought it would be but I really missed desert.

The second day was actually easier and by the fourth or fifth, I was starting to wake up better and felt better in general. I never “detoxed” and I didn’t budge on sticking to the diet.

Sixth through now was easier but harder. I have random cravings hit but hardly ever last. I keep getting mad at myself for even attempting this and sometimes feel like I put myself on a strict diet without my consent but give me unsweet iced tea and coffee and I’m fine drink wise. I thought quitting pop would be hard but it’s only when I see people drinking Mello Yello (my only pop of choice) that I even notice.

I’m doing my best to keep from thinking about food when I’m having a craving and I checked out Whole30 Day by Day, It Starts With Food and a WHole30 cookbook (since starting to make my own mayonnaise and finding some mustard, I’m doing better- I have condiments ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m also starting to crave the taste of different meat dishes and I’m looking forward to eating meat more than thinking about sweets

What I’m noticing already

I’m no where near as gassy as I used to be- I have cut back on broccoli and cauliflower but I had gas all the time on a regular diet (thanks to IBS)

I also have IBS-D and haven’t since starting (I did throw up once, but I used jarred garlic I had accidentally left out for a day or two. I threw it out and have been fine since)

I’m getting better at quickly throwing together recipes, I have tried meal prep and planning things out really isn’t my strong point.

I am having more energy, and at times waking up nonexhausted- I used to have to sit in bed for close to an hour trying to orientate myself and no matter how much sleep I got, I was always exhausted. I’m starting to feel better when I wake up and not as groggy.

I’m not past the hard part yet. I’m hoping to feel a drastic change as the month goes on, but right now, I’m counting down until I can start adding things back- I’m still hoping to go Paleo after this experiment ends.

 

I’d love to hear Whole30 success (or failure) stories. Feel free to comment if you have ever done the Whole30. How did you manage to avoid going crazy? How did you feel at the end?

Allergy Friendly Recommendations

Disclaimer, this post has some affiliate links, I will get a small commission for the links but I will only post brands and links that can be trusted- I am specially searching for items I have, in fact, used. I also promise I will not be doing these too often.

If you’re like me, you need to keep allergy/intolerance friendly snacks around.
I lucked out with having one child who is able to eat normal foods but Enjoy Life has been a lifesaver for me with my youngest. Every product we have purchased has been a winner. The chocolate chips and chocolate candy bars have been a regular in the house. I use the chocolate chips as snacks lol

I cannot give my daughter the same foods over and over but she’s not a huge breakfast person. We found these breakfast bars- easy to eat on the go (school drop off or on the way to grocery shop) and delicious.

Of course, all children LOVE waffles and pancakes. Enjoy Life also has these for a fast pre-drop off breakfast. Great for the whole family.

You also have to have snacks. These nut and seed packs are just the right blend of sweet and savory. They are healthy, guilt free snacks for the whole family.

These along with the chocolate chips I posted in the top picture and the soft cookies are go to snacks and breakfast foods in our home, especially since transitioning to the gluten free and dairy free life. I eat a lot less since being gluten free for as long as i have, but I’m not forcing my daughter to give up foods she likes just because of an intolerance. Enjoy Life has one of the healthiest ingredient lists of the other brands available.

How to Hard Boil Eggs

This is going to be very short and easy. I was playing around on Google and saw that “how to boil eggs” is one of the top searches.

My mom taught me a long time ago and following strict has resulted in perfect hard boiled eggs every time.

All you have to do is put the eggs in a pot, fill the pot above the eggs, set it on high heat on the stove and time it for 20 minutes- from the time you turn on the stove, not the time it starts to boil.

Taken them off, drain and wait a few minutes to peel.

 

For best results, use cold water with the eggs being straight out of the fridge. If you try to boil the water and put the eggs in, it can cause them to crack.

 

I Watched Marie Kondo’s Show

All January, people have been talking about professional cleaner/organizer Marie Kondo’s new Netflix reality show. Like most of the people in her target market, I decided to check out the show myself, so my kids and I have spent the last week watching it. I have gone through my kitchen, book closet, bed room and both of my kids’ bedrooms and have cleared out over ten bags of items to donate or sell. On top of that, we threw away at least 10 bags of broken or unusable items we hadn’t got around to getting rid of. Watching the show gave me a lot to think about, some of the things she said didn’t really apply but some of it resonated with us quite a bit.

Here are the top five ways watching the show helped me in declutter my home

1.Piling all my clothes on the bed together. Making my pile helped me sort and see exactly how much for each season I still had. I didn’t have as big a pile as some of the people on her show, but I go through my clothing on a regular basis. I only had one bag by the end and it wasn’t even completely filled because my last purge was less than a year ago (my first purge gave me three full bags of donations). I like her way because it helps you see how many and gives you a chance to really go through

2.Only keep items that really “spark joy.” Although, my toaster doesn’t spark joy, it is needed. It’s a good piece of advice to follow with items that serve no actual need and are only there for sentimental reasons. Most of the time, if you have something shoved in the back of a closet “just in case you need it,” you won’t need it so if it serves no purpose and doesn’t make you feel good, you don’t need it.

3.Take the time to “thank” items you’re going to get rid of. It seems a bit cheesy, if you’re not familiar with her religion, but when you stop and thank an item you no longer need, it can help you respect the item itself, even the process. It gives you a few moments to really think about the service that item gave you. You don’t even have to be a practitioner of her religion to get the benefit of taking the time to express gratitude toward the item.

4.Her folding method may not be new to everyone, but it really helps with saving space and storage for clothing. Putting underwear and bras in containers makes the underwear drawer look a lot better.

5.The biggest thing that influenced me was simple “peer pressure.” Not peer pressure from people I know in person, but a kind of feeling of peer pressure from watching the show. Watching other people go through everything was motivating me to go through our stuff, even if their homes still seemed cluttered, the show is most definitely not a minimalist show, but it can help start down the path to minimalism.

The show has received a fair amount of criticism, but it has also mixed with New Yearโ€™s resolutions and caused many viewers to go through their homes, donating larger than usual amounts of stuff to thrift shops everywhere. Getting rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy” may not be possible to a lot of us (really, certain foods may not spark joy, but we need to eat, same with certain appliances) but the show seems to have done more good than bad and there are some valuable takeaways.

We still are far from done, but it has made a world of difference in my kids’ rooms, our bedroom and kitchen. We can now see our living room floor and the kids can play in their rooms. I also have a new appreciation for my clothing. Now that I have the ground work, I’m positive I will be able to help us get our home organized within the year.