Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Book Club

I have decided to do the book club!  I think it will be fun.  I plan to post about the first book in our book club, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin on Mondays of each week. For this week all you have to do is purchase the book or check it out from your library. Then read the introduction which is entitled "Decide Not to Decide." I will post the first entry regarding the book on Monday, November 7. I'll share my thoughts about this chapter and hopefully some of you will chime in with comments.

That's it. Easy.  We will read and discuss one chapter each week. I can't wait!

One more thing.  It's time to dust off your Christmas Binder!  I printed out 2016 pages for mine, and I got so excited!  I actually did a little Christmas shopping last weekend, and I ordered new ribbon today.  I hope to post tips and assignments to keep us all on track as the holiday season approaches.  I'll try to do this on a weekly basis too, however, since the holidays are rapidly nearing, I may need to work on this at least twice a week.  I plan to make a master plan this weekend.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Scan and Go

Last week as I was entering my local Sam's Club, the greeter asked me if I would like to try the new app, Scan and Go. As usual when I am asked a question when entering the store, I politely said, "No thank you," and rushed on my way, shopping list in hand, on a mission! Then I paused.  I asked her to repeat what she said.  She cheerfully explained that I could install the Scan and Go app on my phone, enter my membership number and a credit card, and then the very best part of all--I could scan my own groceries as I placed them in my cart and leave the store when I was done without waiting in the checkout line.

Life Changing.

Do you know how many hours I have spent in the Sam's checkout line in my lifetime? I use the self-checkout line when I can, but frequently our Sam's has open only one of those lines, or they are for 15 items or less, or I don't's always something that prevents me from a speedy checkout process.

I had that app installed on my phone complete with credit card information stored before I had my cart in the back of the store, ready to shop.  I gleefully scanned each item as I carefully packed my cart. (I was also happy that the contents of my cart would remain untouched until I was ready to load my car.) Everything would be in the order and packed just liked I like it.

Bliss.  Walking past the checkout lines snaking though the front of the store. I showed my receipt on my phone to the exit lady. She quickly checked the contents of my cart, pressed a button on her device, and then my phone showed I could leave!  My receipt was stored on my phone, and I was out of there!  In record time! (And I texted Lynn and Leanna all about it. I was so excited!)

I was even happier a few days ago when Jimmy asked me to get two things for him at Sam's. Just two things.  I waltzed in there, glancing at the long checkout lines. I grabbed my two items, scanned them and paid, showed my purchases to the exit lady, and was back in my car before one single person had completed their checkout.  Or anyway it seemed like I was that fast!

Scan and Go.  If you are a Sam's shopper I encourage to you install and use that app.  You will love it!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Wedding Planning Fun

The wedding planning is in full swing!  I have finally assembled my Wedding Planning Binder complete with 10 tabs. I made this checklist, patterning it after multiple checklists I found online and also in a Southern Living wedding planner. None of the checklists were exactly what I needed, so I made my own!  Maybe someone else can use it too. 

Wedding Planning Checklist

  • Set a date
  • Determine your budget
  • Create a wedding planner binder
  • Decide on guest size
  • Book ceremony site
  • Book reception site
  • Book officiant
  • Book photographer
  • Book caterer
  • Book florist
  • Book cake maker
  • Create a Pinterest board
  • Select wedding party
  • Choose a wedding director

  • Research wedding gowns
  • Choose theme/colors for wedding
  • Choose bridesmaids' dresses
  • Choose bridesmaids' shoes

  • Buy wedding dress
  • Buy headpiece/veil
  • Buy wedding jewelry
  • Buy wedding shoes
  • Create guest list
  • Obtain addresses
  • Create rehearsal dinner guest list/addresses
  • Register for wedding gifts
  • Check engagement/wedding announcement policy for Daily Journal
  • Choose groomsmen attire
  • Choose bridesmaids' shoes
  • Choose bridesmaids' jewelry
  • Choose music for ceremony
  • Secure sound person
  • Begin looking at wedding invitations.
  • Meet with cake lady
  • Meet with florist
  • Meet with caterer
  • Plan ceremony and reception decorations:
  • Order wedding invitations
  • Order thank-you notes
  • Order rehearsal dinner invitations
  • Arrange wedding transportation
  • Shop for wedding rings
  • Plan/order any ceremony accessories.

  • Address wedding invitations
  • Purchase cake accessories
  • Reserve rental items
  • Order reception accessories (guest book, seating sign, napkins, plates, etc.,)
  • Shop for wedding party gifts
  • Ask cake servers

  • Assemble wedding invitations
  • Check postage/buy stamps
  • Finalize arrangements with all vendors (florist, caterer, sound, cake lady, photographer)
  • Order mens' suits
  • Book hotel rooms for out of town guests
  • Purchase mother dress
  • Make hair appt. for wedding day

  • Mail invitations (April 5)
  • Make wedding programs
  • Use wedding list to keep track of RSVPs
  • Final dress fitting
  • Make seating plan for rehearsal dinner
  • Make place cards
  • Print wedding programs
  • Buy all wedding party gifts
  • Plan and practice the flip

  • Get marriage license/blood test
  • Finalize wedding music
  • Finalize reception music
  • Update RSVP list
  • Check on bridesmaids' dresses/shoes
  • Check on men's suits/shoes
  • Organize all wedding supplies
  • Write thank you notes
  • Wrap wedding party gifts
  • Confirm duties (flower pinners, cake servers)
  • Practice wedding day hairstyle
  • Select/buy rehearsal dinner dress

  • Make welcome baskets for hotel rooms
  • Plan wedding day snacks
  • Confirm all reservations and services
  • Give final guest count to caterer
  • Make out checks and envelopes for all vendors
  • Try on wedding dress, veil, shoes, etc.
  • Get mani/pedi
  • Pack for honeymoon
  • Pack wedding day emergency kit
  • Shop/assemble wedding day snacks for wedding party
  • Type detailed plan of wedding day for the directors

  • Breathe
  • Give directors timeline
  • Bring emergency kit
  • Enjoy the day!

My wedding planner tabs include: Attire, Budget, Calendar, Ceremony, Flowers, Guests, Important, Reception, Rehearsal, and Stationery.

Friday, October 21, 2016

More 30 Days of Fun

Toward the end of my Whole 30, I realized the principle of doing something for only 30 days could be applied to so many things. The possibilities of things one could accomplish in 30 days are endless.

Here are some ideas I have:

  • blogging daily for 30 days
  • reading the New Testament in 30 days
  • wrapping at least one gift a day (This would be a great challenge to attempt close to Christmas holidays.)
  • writing one letter a day to different people
  • running at least 2 miles a day
  • working on a sewing or crafting project (Set a minimum time goal each day--15 minutes.)
  • cleaning out closets or storage areas in your home (Set a minimum time goal for this too.)
I am so excited to choose one of the above 30 day challenges and to get started. I can't decide which one to begin with!

Can you think of other 30 day goals you can set for yourself?

***Update on my "sweet tooth". It's back!  :)  I tried the sugar cookie again today, and it tasted good! I have decided to not do the official reintroduction phase of Whole 30. I am not eating every unhealthy thing in sight, but I have enjoyed tortilla chips the last two days!  I still have not had a Coke, and if you know me, you know this is a big deal. I am not craving one, so I plan to go a bit longer without drinking one.  I have, however,  developed a taste for unsweet tea.

Share your 30 day challenges.  I love a challenge, and I love getting new ideas from people.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Whole 30

We did it!  Jimmy and I did the Whole 30 challenge, and yesterday was day 30. Hooray!

What is Whole 30?
Here is the link if you are wondering what Whole 30 is.  Basically it is eating only certain whole foods for 30 days in order to reset your body's cravings and/or unfavorable reactions to certain foods. For 30 days you eat only meats, fruits, and vegetables.  No sugar. No grains. No legumes (beans, peanuts). No dairy. Then after the 30 days you reintroduce each of the eliminated food groups one day at a time with 3 days of whole 30 foods in between. After each reintroduction, you can assess how you feel, how the food group affected you, or did it affect you at all.

Why did I do this?
Ha! I am not sure anymore.  But it all began when I heard the author of the program on a podcast describing the program. It's just 30 days. I thought to myself, "I can do that. I can do anything for 30 days. I like a challenge!" So I mentioned it to Jimmy, and he immediately said, "Let's do it!". Wait.  I did not even own the Whole 30 book.  I needed some more information.  So I ordered the book, and the day it came in, we began. I will admit I have still not read the entire book, but I read the basic dos and don'ts, stocked up on Whole 30 compliant foods, and we were off.

We survived road trips to Florida and Tennessee for XC meets, potluck dinners, birthday parties, and a campfire cookout, all while eating only Whole 30 foods. We ate a lot of grilled chicken on salads from Chick-Fil-A while traveling (and also waffle fries----yes, not really in the spirit of Whole 30, but   potatoes and oil are allowed......we did not want to starve while on the road!)

I have eaten more boiled eggs and sweet potatoes than I ever have before in my life.  Lots of fruit. And Larabars (only the ones with dates, almonds, and cashews) for snacks or after a run. Again, Larabars are not supposed to be a staple of your diet while on Whole 30, but Jimmy is training for a marathon, and I run almost every day and do CrossFit twice a week, so we ate the Larabars!  :)

How do I feel?
I feel great!  I struggled with sticking to Whole 30 on several occasions. I wish I had kept a daily journal of my thoughts and feelings. The first three days were ok. Then we traveled, and that was hard. I packed us as many Whole 30 foods as I could, and that helped. After about a week, I was ready to quit. I really, really wanted some tortillas chips and salsa. Or maybe some oatmeal or cereal instead of eggs, eggs, eggs, for breakfast.  Lunch and supper were ok. We ate a lot of grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, green beans, and potatoes. Oh, and lots of salad. With homemade Whole 30 dressing, because all store-bought dressing has sugar! I just ate my salads without dressing because I did not care for the homemade dressing.

Supposedly you get "tiger blood" around Day 16. That just means that you feel energetic. I do feel really good. I am not sluggish in the afternoons, and most nights I slept better than I have in a long time.

What did I learn? I actually learned something about myself.  I totally would have quit more than once if Jimmy was not doing the challenge with me. He was completely committed. If he would have said he was done, I would have been in my kitchen eating tortilla chips in one second!  But since he remained compliant, I did too. I needed the external accountability to stick to the goal. Not that he made me stay with the plan, but knowing I would have to admit failure to him (and he would have been so nice about it, I am sure) kept me on track. I did not have enough internal accountability to stay the course.

In her book Better Than Before Gretchen Rubin categorizes people into four groups based on their inclination to keep habits (or not keep them). You can take a short quiz on her website to determine your tendency. I took the quiz over a year ago, and I while I scored as an Upholder, I also scored very high as an Obliger. I have been trying to determine which one I actually am.  An Upholder keeps all goals/habits whether she has external or internal accountability. An Obliger needs external accountability in order to meet expectations. The Whole 30 challenge made it all clear to me. I am an Obliger.

(But the discussion of the tendencies is for another blog post.)

What have I eaten today now that the Whole 30 challenge is over?
I actually have not eaten anything yet. However, I have longed for Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer in my coffee for the last 30 days (I have used unsweetened almond milk as my "creamer"). So this morning I added that to my coffee, and guess what? I could not drink it!  It tasted weird!  I was shocked. I tried to drink it for a few minutes, but then I finally poured it out and made another cup just like I have been drinking for the last 30 days.
I am not sure what I will eat for breakfast (after I run, after I finish this blog post).

Will I do the reintroduction phase?
I'm not sure. Jimmy is, but I have not verbally committed to doing it so I don't feel obliged to do it!

So there you have it.  Another crazy idea!  I am not sure what my next scheme will be......

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Habits And A Possible Book Club

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am a big fan of Gretchen Rubin. I have read her books The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before. I read her blog when I have the time, and I listen to her and her sister Elizabeth's podcasts when I run alone. She shares so many pearls of wisdom, great ideas, happiness hacks, and interesting tidbits and facts. Yesterday she and Elizabeth were discussing hard habits vs. soft habits. Hard habits are those habits that are ingrained into your routine--you do them without thinking. Things like brushing your teeth, cooking dinner for your family, getting to work on time, etc. Soft habits are a little trickier. They are the habits that are more negotiable in your mind--exercise, reading, hobbies, eating healthier.  Soft habits are usually more difficult to stick to because you can usually find a good excuse to put the habit off until a better time.

I am considering starting a book club on this blog where where we read and discuss Better Than Before. I thought we could read a chapter each week and then discuss it via my posts and your comments.  What do you think?  Would you like to do that?  This is the book that Lynn, Leanna, and I read during our running book club, which was so much fun. There are so many fun ideas in this book and really interesting questions to ask yourself to try to figure out why you do (or don't do) what you do.

So. Please leave a comment if you think this is a good idea.

Happy Saturday!

Monday, October 10, 2016

15 Minutes

So I haven't blogged in almost a month.  In fact, blogger had signed me out.

I have struggled with time management for quite some time now.  Homeschooling, homemaking, housework, parenting, marriage, family, friends, service, outside the home obligations, etc., The same things most other women are trying to balance.  Most days I succumb to the tyranny of the urgent, and I am tired. of. doing. that.

This morning while I was running and listening to Gretchen Rubin on her podcast (love her podcast, by the way), I was reminded of a couple of things that have been game changers in my day today.

1. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.  That has been one of my problems. I have slipped into all or nothing mode in a few key areas of my life, and so since the urgent shouts so loudly most days, the all has mostly become nothing. Now I am still cooking, schooling, and keeping up with the laundry, but house cleaning, lesson planning, wedding planning, extended Bible reading, letter writing, blogging, making phone calls, visiting others, hosting people for meals, and such have been neglected because I have been waiting for the perfect big block of time to work on or do those things.

2. Something that can be done "anytime" ends up being done at "no time". This really goes along with point #1 (that's the number sign, not a hash tag!) I find myself putting the same things over and over on my daily to do lists.

So. What to do? Well, today I chose to not let perfect be the enemy of good and do some things that can be done at anytime today. I also relied on my old stand-by, my timer. I can accomplish so much in 15 minutes if I know that timer is ticking.

In my perfect world, my entire house would be clean from top to bottom in one day. Once a week. And it would not get too dirty in between.

Today, instead of aiming for perfection, I chose to clean part of my house while my children were doing their chores. I ended up having about 30 minutes, and I scrubbed my shower door (Bar Keeper's Friend mixed with water to make a paste and scrubbed on with a kitchen scrubbing pad does the trick!), cleaned the rest of my bathroom, vacuumed, and mopped the floor.   While they ran, I cleaned my bedroom (dusted, vacuumed, mopped). Yay!  Part of my house clean.

I won't have this block of time to clean every morning, but today I did so I chose to take advantage of it. I found some time to blog tonight. It's almost time for me to read to the kids before bedtime, but I knew I had about 45 minutes. The laundry is all folded and put away. The kitchen is clean. The coffee pot is set up for tomorrow morning. I set my timer for 15 minutes and connected to the internet.....The timer actually chimed about 3 paragraphs ago, but I am about to wrap this up.

I am now going to read Pride and Prejudice (for the English class I teach) in the remaining minutes until the kids' bedtime.

Redeeming the time.  One day at a time.  I hope to have another spare moment to blog again tomorrow. I will try not to wait for the perfect time but strive to take advantage of a small window of time.