Image

Thank-FULL

Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday because of the fall season, cooler temps, comfort foods, and family and friend time. Although the family and friend time will be more challenging this year, I’m looking forward to CELEBRATING. There is much to be thankful for, even in the midst of this worldwide pandemic that’s boggling our minds. If you’re alive and reading this blog post, be thankful. It is very sad that many people have lost their lives, their loved ones, and their incomes and careers. If you’ve made it this far into 2020, despite the circumstances, be thankful.

I especially love this time of year because the spirit of generosity is amplified during the holiday season. People tend to be more giving of their time, resources, and money. I strive to be that way year round, especially in 2020. I learned many years ago that I can’t save the world and there are many things outside of my control. However, I can do things to express my gratitude such as sharing an extra kind word, providing an extra tip to a service professional, or sending a card of gratitude.

Thanksgiving Cards. LPC

I typically send Christmas cards, but not cards for Thanksgiving. My initial plan was to send cards to my team with a few words of appreciation for their their hard work and commitment. We haven’t worked in the same physical space for nine months, so I’ve had to be more creative with how I let them know how much they mean to me. Another trip to the Dollar Store to purchase more cards and a trip to the post office later, we mailed about 30 cards. If you’re in my tribe and didn’t get a card, don’t fret. I’ll likely catch you at Christmas.

My gesture wasn’t expensive (did you catch I bought the cards from the Dollar Store), but I think people appreciate a kind word and a gesture that lets them know someone is thinking of them. I was surprised that it took me about 2 hours to sign the cards for my team and I spent another 3 hours signing cards for family and friends. In the big scheme of things, it took a little bit of time and cost a little bit of money, but it felt great and made my heart FULL.

Gorgeous fall day November 2020. LPC

Without fail, no matter how I’m feeling, good or bad, happy or sad, I always feel better when I do something nice for someone else, no matter how small. And what I perceive as small, may mean the world to someone else, especially considering the isolation that many people are experiencing due to social distancing and other COVID-19 related measures.

My intent in sharing this post is not to boast, but to empower you to do something for someone else. If you’re not sure how to brighten up someone’s day, or if your day needs to be brightened, I encourage you to find a small, inexpensive (or free) way to spread joy and kindness to others. I’d even love it if you shared some ideas on this post.

2020 isn’t over yet, which means there are opportunities for more blessings, more goal crushing, more connections, more reflection, and more expressions of gratitude. Happy THANKSGIVING from my family to yours!

Image

No spend challenge: Day 6

It’s been long overdo, but I decided to see first hand what it feels like to not spend money for one week in an attempt to curb my spending addiction. You can read about the impetus for the challenge here : No spend challenge.

Not many people would probably admit publicly they spend too much money, especially if they do it to impress others and are living above their means. I’ll be the one to raise my hand admitting I spend more than I’d like to with the hope that it inspires others to take a closer look at their behaviors and how it affects their financial outlook, and life for that matter. For those that think this challenge should be easy or it’s not a challenge at all, more power to you. I challenge you to determine if anything I describe in this post resonates with you and then do something about it.

The most glaring thing I noticed from this exercise is how MUCH I think about buying things. It’s a natural occurrence in my head to be thinking about what to buy no matter how small the item. I attribute some of this to being the primary household shopper for my household. Therefore, I’m keenly aware of our household supply and when we need to restock (i.e., eggs, toilet paper, laundry detergent).

I plan the budget, input the numbers on a spreadsheet, track inventory of our supplies, type the grocery and household lists, and make the purchases. I’m constantly searching for the best deals by examining the ads from my favorite stores and timing my purchases appropriately based on sales. It’s a deliberate process that requires detail and attention in an effort to maximize our budget.

Many external forces also contribute to constantly thinking about buying. CONSUMERISM. These forces can be subliminal or overt. Keep in mind we live in a capitalist society here in the U.S. Take a look to see if you can relate to any of the items in the following list. I might be missing some.

  1. People on social media
  2. Ads on social media
  3. General internet ads (ads embedded in internet articles)
  4. Emails from your favorite stores
  5. Texts from your favorite stores
  6. Smart phone apps
  7. Magazines (lifestyle, travel, food, etc.)
  8. Kids asking for stuff or to go places (fast food, “let’s go to Dollar Tree”, etc.)
  9. TV commercials
  10. Youtube videos on shopping “hauls” (Dollar Tree, Target, Aldi, Walmart, Costco, etc.)
  11. Sales flyers
  12. Product samples
  13. Friends/family wanting you to support their business

In the first couple of days of the challenge, ideas would pop into my head of what I needed to buy and then I’d remember that I made this commitment to myself to not spend any money. I’m not going to say that by Day 6, I’m not thinking of buying anything because that’s not true. However, the act of not buying something when I want it, and knowing I can afford it, made me pause to consider how important the item really is. It made me assess needs and wants, which is the basics of budgeting and personal finance.

It’s not a foreign concept for me to substitute or make do without something because for 3 years, I was supporting our household on one income. I had no choice but to focus on our needs primarily. There was little room for wants, but not much. I tapped into my creativity in making do with what we had. Although we’re no longer in that tighter financial situation, we still have financial goals to achieve. One goal is to give more money to causes we support. We’ve done some of that this year already.

This challenge is only a week so I will spend again eventually. I honestly don’t like that thinking about buying things takes up so much space in my mind because there’s much more to life. Some of the things I’ve done to clear my mind of the bombarding messages to “BUY BUY BUY” is to avoid Youtube videos on shopping hauls. I spend a fair amount of time on YouTube and there are a lot of these types of videos. When I watch them, they give me ideas on things to buy that I don’t need. I also have unsubscribed from some email lists. I need to do the same for texts. Why do I need a text from Dressbarn and Bed Bath and Beyond? Since I also realized that some of my spending is emotional (boredom, happy, anxious), I also made a list with my husband and daughter of activities we could do that doesn’t involve spending money.

This challenge has put things in perspective. It also reminds me of how grateful I am for my loved ones, the life I get to live, and my blessings.

Mantra: I have enough. I am enough.

Image

No spend challenge

You read that right. My next challenge is to not spend any money for the next 7 days. You know something is going to be hard when you DON’T want to do it. I DON’T want to do it, but I need to. The challenge starts today.

It’s long overdue too. I’ve had the sneaky suspicion for the last several months that I might be addicted to spending money. I think my whole family is addicted to spending money. I complain that we should all take a break, but who am I kidding??? It starts with ME.

Now, my husband, Bryan, and I have accomplished A LOT financially in 2020 and you can read about it here: Financial Goals 2020 UPDATE. In fact, we’re in the process of having our new home built.

Me standing on our lot. LPC

Making some financial strides gives me no excuse to let my guard down just cause I’m comfortable. And it’s the seemingly little purchases that can eat away at your finances. My magic number at my favorite grocery store, no matter how few items I have on my list, is $90.

I blame COVID-19 a little because remember when there was no food on the shelves??? There were plenty of vegetables, BUT no toilet paper, paper towels, milk, flour, bread, etc. Food and household items were rationed. Well, I only have to experience something like that one time for me to get on a MISSION to build a well stocked pantry and freezer. A well stocked pantry is what I have now and it spills over into the garage.

Kitchen pantry. It’s way more crammed today. LPC
Kitchen pantry door. Every cubby is filled including the row not pictured at the bottom. The glue in the top left and flashlight underneath the glue have since been replaced with FOOD. LPC

So I’m engaging in a nice dose of restraint for 7 days. It’s been painful thus far. I can probably think of at least 10 things that I could purchase today alone and then remembered the commitment I made. I told Bryan the only way I’m spending money is if it’s a medical emergency. I’m also not including line items I budgeted for in my monthly budget such as gifts. Other than that, for 7 days, I will not spend any money. I want to prove to myself I can do this and I want to break a habit. I need to continue my path of building wealth and nickel and diming myself is not going to cut it.

Mantra: I have enough. I am enough.

How about you? Have you ever done something like this before? How did you feel afterward? Please share tips and encouragement!

Image

Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 7

I made it to Day 7! As I said from Day 1, 7 days is way more digestible (pun intended) than 21. I embarked on a 21-day Vegan cleanse at the end of July and I suffered through. I think mostly because my husband, Bryan, half way participated with me but that’s another story.

The final meal on this 7 day reset was very fitting because soup is my all time favorite comfort food. The name of the soup in the cover photo is Comfort Soup and it’s topped with kale croutons. The ingredients are leeks, potato, garlic, spices and kale. I have a confession though. When I couldn’t find my nutritional yeast (provides the cheese flavor), I decided to add parmesan cheese. Yup, I did. AND it was good despite not being vegan. It was vegetarian!

So how did I do on my goals? Remember, my goals were to have less bloat, sleep better, and have clearer skin. Well, I got 1 out of 3. The timing was a bit off for this reset because I started my period this week…so much for the bloat. Also, as with most women, my hormones were all over the place due to my period and I have the zits on my chin to prove it. BUT I did get a smidgeon more sleep as the days progressed. In full transparency, it probably helped that I took a sleep aide called Z-Quil a couple of nights.

A goal I didn’t mention but ended up happening anyway was to reduce my resting heart rate. It had slowly been rising the last couple of weeks. However, I notice it cycles by increasing and then decreasing every few months. It’s never increased out of range. Since I started the reset, it’s decreased by 3 points. I read that an increase could be early warning signs of heart disease or may have something to do with low iron. Long term affects of radiation treatment can be heart problems. I had radiation as treatment for breast cancer on my left side of my chest. My oncologist also prescribed me iron pills due to anemia. I have an upcoming appointment in the next month with my oncologist so I’ll talk to him about it.

This reset was a good reminder of the importance of eating mostly a plant based diet. It’s also refreshing to make new recipes. Variety is the spice of life for me. I will continue to share my meals with you.

So what’s next? I’ve already started two new challenges simultaneously. One is to revamp my exercise routine and the other is to curb my spending. Read my next post to find out more.

Image

Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 6

Home stretch. I slept in more than usual on Saturday. I had actually been up for hours just laying in bed reading. I didn’t get up for the day until almost noon, which supported intermittent fasting with little effort. I decided on Friday that because I had leftovers from previous meals from the week, that I wouldn’t cook the last meal until Sunday. It’s a soup and I’m looking forward to it!

I was not a huge fan of the Austinite Tacos. You can read about it in my previous post. I had some leftovers so I buckled down and ate them for lunch on Saturday although I almost opted to purchase a vegan meal from a restaurant. I didn’t so I wouldn’t waste food, plus I can save that money.

In my true fashion, I didn’t want any more of the leftovers so I decided to have one of my vegan frozen items for dinner.

Vegan burger. LPC

I bought this from Aldi’s which is far from where I live. I’m glad I purchased 2 boxes at the time because I like them a lot. They’re great for a quick lunch. I had the vegan burger and my avocado green smoothie (cover photo) for dinner.

The smoothie was so creamy. The liquid was supposed to be cashew milk, but I put the cashew milk in the freezer to chill earlier in the day and forgot about it. The box was frozen so I substituted with coconut water. The other smoothie ingredients were half an avocado, pineapple, spinach, plus I added flaxseeds, collagen peptides, and fresh ginger.

My Vegan reset week is almost over and I’ve been thinking about the best meal for transitioning back to normal eating. My daughter asked me to make her favorite which is any kind of bean and rice. We love red beans, pinto beans, black beans, butter beans, and lima beans, but we opted for pinto. This will be a good transition meal. I’ll probably roast some chicken to pair with it.

In the final post, I’ll share my progress on achieving the goals I set out to do for this week. To learn more about what led me here and the recipes read http://sometimes vegan chronicles.

Image

Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 5

Cravings…let’s talk about them. Did it start with the sweet aroma permiating the house of my husband, Bryan’s, BACON cooking in the oven or was it when he toasted 2 buttermilk and vanilla waffles? Perhaps it was when Bryan pan fried a juicy burger for lunch…? No, it might have been when we went to Chick-Fil-A to pick up a late lunch for the teenagers.

Bryan has made bacon every day this week & it didn’t affect me until TODAY. It was today, the 2nd day of my menstrual cycle, that I was reminded of why being a vegan is not sustainable for me. BUT can I make it for just 7 days? I only have 2 more days to go. It’s getting tough. I had my snacks on deck, but I have a confession. I ordered some waffle fries from Chick-Fil-A while picking up food for the teenagers. They were good.

Some of the ingredients for AUSTINITE tacos. LPC

I’m going to get right to it and let you know I’m not a fan of tonight’s dinner. It was interesting and turned out better than I thought, but after the leftovers, there will be no repeat. This recipe won’t make it to my meal rotation. I get the feeling that Austin, Texas (where I live) was the inspiration for the recipe and name, especially since Austin has become such a foodie place. Tacos are beloved here in Texas.

I ate them and was again reminded of why being a vegan is not sustainable for me. I * enjoy * meat * too * much. Yes, I do.

Austinite tacos. LPC

Day 5 was a struggle, but I made it. There were lots of components to tonight’s dinner that are too much to share right now. There was a filling, a slaw, and a chunky guacamole (my addition).

Let’s see what days 6 and 7 bring.

Image

Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 4

I woke up more rested than yesterday, did an excellent kickboxing workout, drank my morning liquids, ate my coconut granola with bananas and almond milk, drank my Pineapple Detox Green smoothie, prepared/ate another loaded sweet potato for lunch, and made/ate the thai lettuce wraps for dinner.

These meals keep getting better. I think mostly because I’m trying new recipes and food combinations. If you need a refresh on why I’m doing what I’m doing and where I’m getting my recipes, read this post: Sometimes Vegan Chronicles.

Light lesson of the day: SLEEP is a game changer and I need more of it. I was joyful and unbothered today. Oh and part of my crankiness is due to my cycle starting. The Fitbit tracker actually got it right.

Day 4 was good. My meals were plenty satisfying.

Thai lettuce wrap ingredients: shallots, celery, mushrooms, walnuts, green onions, garlic, ginger, snow peas (my addition), cilantro, mint. Sauce: Tamari, rice vinegar, coconut sugar, lime juice. LPC
Image

Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 3

I was mostly tired and cranky all day today. Perhaps the cleanse is working, but this lack of sleep is a problem. By the way, read my post from Monday called Sometimes Vegan Chronicles to see how I ended up on this journey. One of my goals for this cleanse is better sleep, but I’m not there yet.

Baked sweet potato ready for loading. LPC

I can’t stress enough how important it was for me to prep most of the snacks and the produce (wash, chop, store) over the weekend so that I wouldn’t find myself eating something I didn’t want to eat. Because I know myself so well, I even bought a few prepared frozen, vegan items in case I couldn’t make a meal for some reason. Never mind that my teenagers have been eating my frozen items. Like since when did they become vegan?

Famous Loaded Sweet Potato. LPC

Tonight’s dinner was so scrumptious. Similar to the coconut ginger carrot soup, I’ve had this recipe for a while and made it for the first time today. I was pleasantly surprised with the slaw topping. But how can you go wrong with a slaw of shredded red cabbage, carrot, and kale with avocado, sesame seeds, and pepitas, mixed with a lemon dijon vinegrette? I’m so happy this will be lunch tomorrow too. I’m definitely adding it to my regular meal rotation.

I do like having a meal plan to follow which helps me follow the plan. I’m going to take my tired and cranky self to bed because I can’t take it anymore. Hopefully, I’ll get some quality sleep.

Image

Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 2

I did great on Day 2 of my Vegan reset with recipes from simplegreensmoothies.com. My avocado finally ripened enough to cut so I was able to make the Tropical Skin Cleanser green smoothie. It was pleasantly tart and had my lips puckering.

Me enjoying my green smoothie on the porch. LPC

The smoothie is meant for breakfast, but I didn’t finish mine until around lunch time because I have a whole routine of liquids that take me a while to drink. I start my day drinking 16-24 ounces of water spiked with either unsweetened cranberry juice or a green energy powder. I drink this during my workout. Then, after I get dressed for work, I have a cup of my morning detox drink that entails apple cider vinegar, a lemon wedge, warm water and honey or I’ll have a cup of detox tea. That’s about 8 ounces. Mix that in with meetings and now you know why it takes me a while.

Tropical Skin Cleanser Green Smoothies. LPC

I had the Waldorf salad as a snack, but didn’t get to take a picture. It didn’t look that pretty anyway.

Garden Vegetable Stir Fry. LPC

I modified the Garden Vegetable stir fry by not stir frying it at all. I prefer roasted vegetables so that’s what I did. I also added mushrooms.

Prepping helped a lot because I had healthy snacks. At the end of the day, I was exhausted, which makes me think the cleanse is kicking in. Overall, I had a great day.

Image

Sometimes Vegan Chronicles

Hello NOVEMBER! Time is flying and just when I thought I was done with vegan cleanses in 2020, I received an email from Jen Hansard with https://simplegreensmoothies.com/ about a one week weight loss mean plan, post cleanse. The timing is great because I’ve been unusually bloated the last few weeks. My goals for this cleanse are less bloat, better sleep, and clearer skin. This is also a distraction from the volatile, political climate we’re experiencing in the United States.

The meal plan includes green smoothies for breakfast and then snack, lunch, and dinner recipes for 7 days. I know, I know. Back in August, I said I was done with cleanses in 2020. You can read that post here…It’s over and he won…

A couple times (or a few depending) a year, I embark on an all Vegan challenge. If it weren’t for meat, I might be a Vegan, but I love meat and cheese. I enjoyed writing the post Sometimes a vegan because I get so inspired with food and knowing I’m doing something healthy for my body.

Meal Prep 11-1-2020
Coconut ginger carrot soup. LPC

Soup is my ALL TIME favorite comfort food. I love that the options are endless. I also enjoy trying new recipes. For as many years as I’ve had the recipe for the coconut ginger carrot soup, I made it for the first time today. When I tell you I could eat the whole pot!!! It surpassed my expectations because I’m not a huge fan of carrots. It’s delicious!

Almond Butter Crisps. LPC

This was also my first time making this almond butter crisp recipe. This is supposed to be a take on Rice Crispy Treats. Although mine came out crumbly, it was still yummy. I think the problem was that I substituted maple syrup for brown rice syrup. I was surprised I didn’t find brown rice syrup at Thrive Market https://thrivemarket.com/web/membership/welcome.

I received my 2nd purchase on 10/31/2020

Since I’m into healthy food and have heard about Thrive Market for a while, I decided to give it a try. There’s a membership fee for access to many healthy, non GMO, etc. food products that you purchase online. They often email coupons and free stuff. I received an extra 30% off my order below. Definitely worth it.

Thrive Market package 10/31/2020

Seven days for a cleanse is more manageable than 21 days, which is what I did at the end of July. You can read about that cleanse experience here: It starts tomorrow. I thought I’d have a fun, competitive time with my husband but he didn’t like most of the recipes. I was making too much food thinking he would try it. Oh well.

2020 still has a couple of months to go to see some positive changes. I would love to be less bloated, sleep better, and have clearer skin. Let’s see if this week helps me accomplish that. I’ll add a daily post so you can track my progress.