June 25, 2019

Excitement About Exercise--Me?!

(I still haven't gotten enough submissions this week for a Transformation Tuesday post 😞 Please send me some! I really want to continue the series. The details are on this post. And I would eventually like to do a special one about before and after pet adoptions, so keep that in mind, too!)

Just four days into summer, and I've already checked off four walks from my Cookies Summer Challenge! I've done the Solstice Walk, Bridge Walk, Trail Walk, and Evening Walk.

I am not exaggerating at all when I say that I am truly enjoying this. This is the first time I've really, truly enjoyed exercise, and am not doing it for weight loss.

I think it's because I have no schedule whatsoever--I am simply working on a checklist of 50 items to cross off between June 21st and September 23rd. You know that I love lists, and checklists are the best! It is so satisfying to check things off as they are completed.

Over the last few days, I've become determined to complete the entire list this summer. I've posted this challenge for three years, and I've never even come close to completing it. I think that's because I was running when I didn't want to be running and I put pressure on myself to do a certain mileage or pace.

For this checklist, I'm going about it completely differently:

I'm following the walking checklist, rather than running, but I may throw in some running sporadically if I feel like it (which I actually did, when I walked on Friday!).

I'm not setting any pace goals. I can do a super slow stroll or a speedy walk--just whatever floats my boat at the moment.

I'm not setting any distance goals. I may walk for a long time if it's a nice day and I'm listening to a good podcast, or I might squeeze in a short half-mile walk before I have to be somewhere.

I'm not treating these as "workouts". I don't change into workout clothes (I will if I am in the mood to do a faster walk or a run, but if I'm just going for a stroll, there is no need). I'm not looking at calories burned or heart rate (I haven't even worn my heart rate monitor strap).

I am doing this challenge for a few reasons--it's good for my body to move; I get some time to myself to listen to a podcast without being interrupted; it gets me outside; and the different walks are a nice way to keep things interesting this summer. It makes me feel healthy in general!

Seeing others' posts in the Cookies Summer Challenge Facebook group has been super inspiring to me, too. When I see pictures from their runs or walks, it makes me excited to go do mine.

When I wrote my last post about my summer goals for getting back to feeling my best, I thought it would be fun to make a separate bullet journal for it. I still use the one I made for my 40 Goals by 40 Years Old list, and I'm slowing working my way through that, but with the excitement of my goal of a path to getting healthy this summer, a fresh new bullet journal sounded good.

I found this one at Hobby Lobby, and after 40% off, it was only $6! (I looked for it on Amazon, but it's not on there). I love it, and the quality is really nice--the paper is heavier than the paper in my $20 Leuchtturm book. The size of the book is the same, and the pages look the same (except the paper is white and not the yellow-ish color in the Leuchtturm). I love that the paper is heavier because there is no ghosting or bleeding through with markers.

Anyway, it's from a brand called The Paper Studio and the notebook line is called Agenda 52 (they have several different notebooks and some stickers and things you can buy). I just bought the notebook. I mainly want to use it to stay organized with my goals, but also because it's fun to make pretty lists and trackers!

I only worked on a couple of pages yesterday, but I worked out how I'm going to organize the book. Each category will have its own pages and trackers for each goal if necessary. But here is what I did yesterday:

It's funny how a simple notebook can be so inspiring to make me want to work on my goals :) 

Remember... send me some transformation photos, please!

June 21, 2019

My Big Focus for the Summer and the Plans to Make It Happen

Happy Summer! (I double checked my calendar, and I have it right this time, haha)

As the first official day of summer, the Runs for Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge has begun. It's not too late to join in--here is the post that explains it all and here is a link to join the private Facebook group to share all about your runs or walks throughout the challenge.

Over the past several months, I've been thinking a lot about my physical goals as well as my mental goals. In 2017, I had such a great year (after my breakthrough in therapy, my bipolar diagnosis, and being put on the correct meds). I spent the rest of the year finding true happiness and doing whatever I could that made me feel genuinely peaceful with my life. It was fantastic.

In 2018, I started losing sight of that focus. I began to worry about gaining weight and I started to be more careful of my diet (which, consequently, caused me to gain more and more). I started worrying about what people would think (whereas before, in 2017, I didn't give a shit what anyone thought of me at all). I started to lose that peace that I'd worked so hard for in 2017.

My medication right now has my mental health in a very stable place. In fact, it feels "boring"--which, from what my psychiatrist has said, means the medication is working. I'm not feeling the high of hypomania or the low of depression (thank God). Hypomania has its perks, but the negatives outweigh the positives. So, stability is the aim of my meds and it's working.

Now that I am feeling stable, I've decided to make this summer of 2019 a time to really work on one main focus: HEALTH. This includes physical health, but also mental health, and even relationship, finance, and job health. In a nutshell, this is what I'd like:

Physical Health

To be at peace with my body exactly the way it looks (whether that's at this weight or if I should gain or lose weight).

Diet* (I will write more about diet later in the post).

Taking vitamins.

Exercising** (which I'll also write more about later in the post).

Wearing sunscreen, always.

Flossing my teeth daily (I have no problems with brushing, but flossing is something that I have always had a hard time making a daily habit).

Living a more active lifestyle in general the way that I used to.

Continuing to stay sober of alcohol (almost six months now!).

Get a check-up with my doctor and have bloodwork to see my health numbers, including vitamins.

Mental Health

Taking my meds on a regular schedule (I'm very good about this already).

Cutting out caffeine, with the exception of a modest amount of tea.

Writing in a journal daily, even if it's just one or two sentences. I have a "One Line A Day" journal that will be perfect for this.

Do a few brain puzzles each week. I love the Lumosity app, so I'll use that as well as the old-fashioned logic puzzles in a book.

Read more books (I'm not going to set a number goal for this, but I'd like to aim for at least 15+ minutes per day).

Do some crafts that make me happy (crochet or knit, wood work, bullet journal, sew).

Live my life the way that makes me happy, and screw what anyone else thinks.

Read a chapter a day from my Bible (I used to this daily, but after getting through Leviticus, I started losing the faith that I'd been hoping to gain, hahaha).

Continue to feed the birds and squirrels (I look forward to feeding them every day and it makes me feel happy).

Find new ways to relieve anxiety. I have a no-fail relief of a specific game on Lumosity--it's super fast-paced and it's impossible to think about anything other than the game, so I forget my anxiety while playing.

Relationship Health

Spend more quality time with Jerry and my kids--family game night, family movie night, walks in the evenings, etc.

Get in touch with a few old friends and make plans to get together and catch up.

Work on being more affectionate with Jerry (hugs, kisses, cuddles, etc). His "love language" is Physical Touch, which was last on my own list of The 5 Love Languages, so it's hard for me. It's not that I'm repulsed by affection, it's just that it never occurs to me to give him random hugs and kisses. We each took the Love Languages test and read the book, and you can read about our results here.

Write a letter to each of the kids and share how proud I am of them.

Use the phone more and texting a little less. Talking on the phone is hard for me for some reason, so I'd like to call up my friend Sarah in Arizona to chat, or some other friends that live around the country.

Make it a point to spend more time with my parents, siblings, in-laws, and especially my niece and nephew.

Take Eli fishing in a new place, and take Noah somewhere pretty where he can take photos.

Financial Health

Continue to live on our budget that got us out of debt.

Build our savings account (I'm aiming to add another $1,500 to it during the summer).

Plan our meals and grocery shop accordingly to stay under our grocery budget.

Dine out very rarely (maybe once a month).

Cut out unnecessary costs again (I did this when we first started our budget, but I'd like to take another look).

Save up for a new front porch.

Job Health

(Note: I get a some flack here for not having a "real" job, but to me, my job is very real. I am a stay-at-home mom and wife--unpaid, of course--and I earn money from blogging. I am also a volunteer cross country coach for 3rd through 5th graders. I'm very happy with this lifestyle. Well, other than the 2-1/2 to 3 hours of driving per day during the school year!)

Create a regular "chore chart" rather than just winging it. I'd like to make a weekly list of things that need to be done regularly and assign the tasks for particular days.

Write more frequently on my blog, and try to start a schedule to post on particular days.

Reply to emails more frequently. Right now, my inbox dates back to April (!) and I feel bad about it. Seeing emails that I haven't replied to yet causes me anxiety, and that can be solved very easily by taking time to reply to a few each day. For now, my plan is to reply to 2+ per day.

Write out a schedule for ALL of these plans I've written about above so that I don't get overwhelmed. Take it one day at a time.

If I have some free time, I'd like to go back and optimize photos on past posts.

Find a new place to host photos for my blog where I can edit them without deleting them and re-uploading them.

Create a plan for the cross country kids this year. Renee is not going to be coaching with me (she took a job as the middle school cross country coach) so I want to be as organized and prepared as possible to do it on my own.

So, those are plans I have for working on my health this summer. Diet and exercise seem to be in a bigger category of their own, so I'll write more about them as I get things figured out. I'm torn between wanting structure and wanting freedom.

*For right now, I think I'd like to have more freedom about my diet (which is what I've been doing for the last several months). I basically don't have any "rules" and I've been doing good with it. Yes, my weight is up, but I'm okay with that. I haven't gained any weight in a long time--I've been staying between 160 and 165 without trying make any changes.

That said, I would like to aim to drink more water (3+ quarts per day), to eat according to my body's cues, and pay attention to the foods that make me feel good versus the foods that make me feel bad. Then, obviously, avoid the foods that make my body feel bad.

**When it comes to exercise, I'm going to attempt to do my summer checklist for the Summer Run/Walk Challenge. I will follow the walking plan, but if I feel inclined to run now and then, I'll do that. I would like the structure of a plan for exercise so that I can make sure that I follow through, but I don't want to be so rigid that I resent it. I think walking is a good choice for right now.

Today, I started by walking from spring into summer at the State Park with Joey. It's a three mile loop, and I walked the first two loops, and then something possessed me to run the third mile. It was hot and very hard to run with Joey pulling on the leash, but I managed to do it. I loved the spontaneity of it.

This was my best attempt at getting a selfie with Joey. He was just way too excited to look at the camera.

I would also like to do nightly walks with the family (including Joey) all summer. The kids love doing this, especially when it's dark outside. We don't go far (just around the neighborhood, anywhere from 1/2 mile to a mile) but it's nice to get outside and chat with the family without distractions.

I think with these plans, I'm going to have a busy summer--in a good way! And I think that focusing on my health will automatically help with my anxiety which lies dormant, waiting to jump out when I least expect it.

By the end of the summer, I hope to be feeling my healthiest and happiest :)

June 20, 2019

The First Week of Summer Break

Joey and Phoebe staring at me

Happy Summer Solstice! It is officially the first day of summer, can you believe it? (Edit: Apparently, I'm ahead of myself, hahaha. It's actually tomorrow, the 21st!)

My kids have been out of school for a week, so we've been adjusting to a new routine. For me, this means SO MUCH LESS driving! I am so thrilled that I am not spending 2.5-3 hours per day shuttling the kids around. Now that school is over, they just have baseball games twice a week (and a practice) and Noah has driver's training (his last drive with the instructor is tomorrow).

For the first few days of break, I was excited to work on some things around the house (nothing big--I just wanted to replace the seals around the exterior doors and fix some window screens, etc.) Summer time around here brings with it lots of spiders, and we've had a very wet spring--I have a feeling that the spiders are going to be horrible this year. I want to seal up the house the best that I can!

Unfortunately, it's not going so well. My carpal tunnel pain has been HORRIBLE. After a day I spent in the garage sorting through clothes to donate, as well as sweeping and vacuuming a huge section in there, I was in agony. The next day, I couldn't even open cans of tomatoes to cook dinner and I had to have Noah open them for me. Folding clothes and scooping the litter box are two chores that are very difficult, too. Anything that causes repetitive movement of my hand aggravates the carpal tunnel.

I've been waking up with my hands, mainly my right hand, very swollen and numb/painful. I realize that sounds like an oxymoron (how can something be numb and painful at the same time?) but somehow that's what it feels like.

To top it off, I couldn't even wear my wrist brace for a couple of days because I burned myself really badly while cooking dinner one night. I reached over the pan on the stove to pick up a stray piece of onion, and my wrist rested on the edge of the pan for a millisecond. I pulled my hand back almost instantly, but the damage had been done. It's the worst burn I've ever gotten while cooking! It blistered up almost instantly.

Two days later, the whole thing was a long blister. Noah and I picked up a couch in the garage to move it, and I'd forgotten about the burn; after moving the couch, I looked down and noticed that the couch had rubbed against it and torn off the blister from half of it. I'm going to have a pretty nasty scar there, I'm sure. It still hurts to put my carpal tunnel wrist brace over it.

wrist burn from cooking

I want to find another doctor to ask about the carpal tunnel surgery. The first doctor said that this was "mild" carpal tunnel syndrome, so he wouldn't recommend surgery. How am I supposed to take care of the house when I can't even open a can of tomatoes or do laundry? I was really hoping to work on some fun projects this summer, too--painting the cabinets in my bathroom and making some things out of wood (just for fun).

So, the carpal tunnel and the burn have forced me to take it easy for the last several days. I have been completely absent from my blog and any sort of social media all week because I have been 100% absorbed in a book, of all things ;) I just finished re-reading my very favorite book, "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett.

Joey and Phoebe staring at me intently

(I was trying to have a relaxing morning with my book, but Joey and Phoebe were both vying for my attention, haha.)

I read this book back in 2009 and I loved it SO much. I've mentioned before that I am a slow reader and I have a hard time finishing books unless they keep me completely engrossed. The Pillars of the Earth is very long (over 700 pages), but I've read it twice now--that's saying a lot. And I've also read the sequel, "World Without End", at over a thousand pages!

I just finished The Pillars last night, and after catching up on some stuff I've been neglecting, I'll start on World Without End. I had completely forgotten most of the details and storyline of the books, so it was like reading The Pillars of the Earth for the first time.

For Father's Day, the kids and I gave Jerry a Kindle Paperwhite like the one I got recently and LOVE, and he's able to download the books that I buy because we share an Amazon Prime account. So, he started reading The Pillars, too. So far, he really likes it!

With today tomorrow being the first day of summer, I've set some goals for the summer months that I'm excited to work on. I'll write a whole post about it tomorrow. Today also marks the start of the Runs for Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge! I'm excited to see the social media posts from those that are doing it :)

There is a private group on Facebook for those of you who are participating in the challenge. You can request to join here: Runs for Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge. It's a closed group which means that only the people in the group can see your posts (it won't show up on your FB newsfeed). There, you can share photos and tidbits about your runs/walks with everyone else who is doing the challenge.

I'm going to cut this short today, because I'll write tomorrow about my summer goals/plans, but I wanted to check in. I hope this is the start of a great summer for everyone!

Oh! And I didn't post a Transformation Tuesday this week because I only got a couple of submissions... so please send me some more! When I get a couple more then I'll post them. You can see how to submit them on this post. Thanks, guys!

June 11, 2019

Transformation Tuesday #4

I'm so happy to share the fourth post of Transformation Tuesday! I've said this each week, but I get so excited about these posts. I love seeing the transformations in my email and I can't wait to post them here :)

Please keep them coming! You can see how to send them at the bottom of this post. That said, I would like to do a "special edition" of Transformation Tuesday of rescue pets' before and after photos. I absolutely love seeing the difference in animals after they leave the shelters (or the streets) and find a forever home. So, if you have a rescue pet, please send the transformation pictures (just the same way as the others'). I may hold on to them for a bit until I have several of them to post.

Anyway, here are this week's amazing before and after photos...

Before and after getting ready in the morning! Bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

- Emily, Michigan, make-up enthusiast

(I added the "enthusiast" part because Emily loves make-up! She even sells Mary Kay. She is a good friend of mine that I actually met via my blog, and she told me that she is horrified at the thought of going in public without make-up. I think she looks fantastic! But I am proud of her for sharing this photo of her sans make-up.)

Emily before putting on make-up and styling her hair

Emily after putting on make-up and styling her hair

We updated our overgrown, 14 year-old shrubs with lovely flowering plants and bushes.

- Jeanna, Arkansas, colorful flower enthusiast

landscaping before removing shrubs and adding flowers

landscaping after removing shrubs and adding flowers

These are before and after photos of the stairs in my daughters house. A coat of paint always makes a HUGE difference!

- Anne, Maine

We had a landscaper come out and remove the overgrown/untended beds in our yard (I am not an outdoorsy gal).

- Caitlin, Minnesota, uninterested gardener

We had a pipe break last year that resulted in damaging our floor and lower kitchen cupboards which resulted in transforming the entire kitchen.

- Kim, Minnesota, Dog Lover and New Grandma

These photos never fail to bring a smile to my face. I'm inspired by the landscaping photos this week; our landscaping is HORRID and I have no idea what to do with it or how to do it. Seeing the photos gives me hope that maybe I can turn my weeds into pretty landscaping ;)

As I said, to continue the Transformation Tuesday series, I need you to share a transformation of any sort! Here's how:

1) Email one "before" photo and one "after" photo, of anything you'd like, to: transformations (at) runsforcookies (dot) com.

Please keep the photos separate rather than collaging them, and refrain from using filters or Photoshop on the photos (filters tend to invalidate the "wow" factor). If necessary, I may crop or resize the photos simply to fit uniformly into the post, but I will try to keep them as original as possible. Also, if there is someone in the photo, just make sure it's cool with them that I share it here.

2) You may include a link to your personal blog or social media page if you'd like (no business or promotional pages--this will be at my discretion). Please include the following:

-One sentence description of the transformation

-First Name; Location; A few words of who you are (i.e. "New DIY'er" or "Cat Lover", etc). If you want me to leave out name/location, just let me know.

3) I will post whenever I get enough submissions to do so--it could be one week or it could be several. I'll send you an email to let you know beforehand, though.

Thanks for sharing!

(Here are the previous Transformation Tuesday posts)

June 09, 2019

10 Summertime Mason Jar Oatmeal Recipes (ready to eat in 15 minutes!)

In the summertime, I love to sit on my front porch steps, sipping my coffee and eating my breakfast. But it's hot and sticky outside in the summer here in Michigan. Years ago, when I was losing weight and became obsessed with oatmeal, I started making cold oats for the summer. They are super easy to make and there are infinite variations.

I make these in a mason jar and put a lid on it--a typical mason jar is the perfect size, and you can put a lid on it in order to shake up the ingredients. Easy peasy!

There are tons of recipes out there for "overnight oats", where you soak the oatmeal overnight in the refrigerator; I'm too forgetful to do that the night before, so I choose to thicken it with chia seeds instead, and then you only need about 10-15 minutes to allow it to thicken.

The "base" is made with:
40 grams (a scant half-cup) of old fashioned oats
4 fluid ounces (1/2 cup) of milk (I like to use whole dairy milk)
13 grams (1 Tbsp) of chia seeds

Then you simply add whatever you'd like to that base! (See notes at bottom of post.) I am writing amounts for each ingredient, but feel free to eyeball it or to add more or less of what you'd like.

Here are a few of my favorite "Summertime Oatmeal" recipes...

(Here is a printer-friendly version with all of the varieties!)

Almond Joy Summertime Oatmeal (my very favorite!)

40 grams (a scant half-cup) old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I use whole fat dairy milk)
13 grams (1 Tbsp) chia seeds
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. shredded coconut
1 teaspoon mini chocolate chips
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sliced almonds (optional)
A few drops of imitation coconut extract (roughly 1/8 teaspoon)
A few drops of pure or imitation almond extract (a little less than the coconut extract)

Combine everything in a mason jar and seal it with the lid. Then shake it up until it's well-combined and set it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes (you can even leave it in there overnight, if you'd like).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Summertime Oatmeal (in a peanut butter bowl)

For this one, I like to do something that I call a "peanut butter jar" to serve the oatmeal in. Before doing anything else, take about a tablespoon of peanut butter (I like to use Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, where the only ingredients are peanuts and salt), and then using the back of a spoon, spread the peanut butter into a thin layer along the bottom and all the way up the sides of the jar. You're basically lining the inside of the jar with a thin layer of peanut butter. Set the jar in the freezer while you combine the other ingredients in a separate bowl.

1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp. peanut butter (used as listed above)
40 grams (a scant half-cup) old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I use whole fat dairy milk)
13 grams (1 Tbsp) chia seeds
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon mini chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients (except for the peanut butter, which should be waiting in the freezer) and then pour the ingredients into the peanut butter-lined mason jar (the short time in the freezer will have allowed the peanut butter to firm up a little). Place the lid on the jar and set it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes until thickened. To eat, scrape a little of the peanut butter off the side of the jar as you scoop out the oatmeal.

Cinnamon Raisin Cookie Summertime Oatmeal

40 grams (a scant half-cup) old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I use whole fat dairy milk)
13 grams (a scant Tbsp) chia seeds
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 Tbsp. raisins
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (depending on how much you like)

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake to combine. Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes until thickened.

Tart Cherry Chocolate Chip Summertime Oatmeal

40 grams (a scant half-cup) old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I use whole fat dairy milk)
13 grams (a scant Tbsp) chia seeds
2 teaspoons tart cherry juice concentrate (I use this kind)
1 teaspoon sugar
3-4 chopped unsweetened frozen cherries (I use the sweet variety)
2 teaspoons mini chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake to combine. Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes until thickened.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Summertime Oatmeal

40 grams (a scant half-cup) old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I use whole fat dairy milk)
13 grams (a scant Tbsp) chia seeds
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pineapple
2-3 maraschino cherries, chopped very small
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake to combine. Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes until thickened.

Apple Crisp Summertime Oatmeal

40 grams (a scant half-cup) old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I use whole fat dairy milk)
13 grams (a scant Tbsp) chia seeds
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped apple (peeled)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tbsp. crunchy granola (optional - here is my recipe for homemade granola)

Combine all ingredients (except granola) in a mason jar with a lid and shake to combine. Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes until thickened. Top with granola just before serving.

Very Berry Summertime Oatmeal

40 grams (a scant half-cup) old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I use whole fat dairy milk)
13 grams (a scant Tbsp) chia seeds
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup mixed berries--blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries* (whatever you like)
A few drops of orange or lemon extract (optional)

*Use fresh or frozen; if using frozen, thaw and pat dry first, or reduce the amount of milk to keep it from being too liquidy.

Combine all ingredients (except berries) in a mason jar with a lid and shake to combine. Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes until thickened. Carefully stir in berries just before serving.

Fruit & Nut Summertime Oatmeal

40 grams (a scant half-cup) old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I use whole fat dairy milk)
13 grams (a scant Tbsp) chia seeds
2 teaspoons honey or pure maple syurp
2 Tbsp. chopped dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots, peaches, pineapple, etc.)
2 Tbsp. mixed nuts and/or seeds (walnuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, wheat germ
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Combine all but the nuts and seeds in a mason jar with a lid and shake to combine. Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes until thickened. Stir in the nuts and seeds before serving (to maintain crunchiness).

Banana Nut Summertime Oatmeal

40 grams (a scant half-cup) old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I use whole fat dairy milk)
13 grams (a scant Tbsp) chia seeds
1/4 of a banana, mashed
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake to combine. Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes until thickened.

Peaches & Cream Summertime Oatmeal

40 grams (a scant half-cup) old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) milk (I use whole fat dairy milk)
13 grams (a scant Tbsp) chia seeds
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup peeled very ripe peaches, chopped small
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake to combine. Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes until thickened.


*I like to use whole fat dairy milk, but you could use any sort of milk you'd like.

*I sweeten my oatmeal with different sweeteners, depending on the rest of the ingredients: usually pure maple syrup, brown sugar, white sugar, or honey.

*Feel free to change up the amount of each ingredient (or eliminate altogether) depending on your own tastes.

*I find that 15 minutes is a good amount of time for the chia seeds to thicken the oatmeal, but it may take a little longer than that. When most of the liquid is absorbed, the oatmeal is ready to eat.

*You can use quick-cooking oats instead of the old-fashioned oats, which will make it creamier; personally, I like the chewier old fashioned oats best.

If you come up with other combinations that you enjoy, please feel free to comment here so we can try them, too! :)

June 07, 2019

100 Funny Memes About Mental Illness

Just the title of this post alone sounds like it may be offensive, so let me start by saying that this post is in NO way meant to offend anyone! Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, I need ways to cope sometimes (here is a list of things I do to relieve my anxiety). And one thing that almost ALWAYS makes me feel better is to look at memes--funny ones--about mental illness. These ones are mainly about bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.

I adore dark humor, so some of these will be fairly dark (I left the truly dark ones on my Pinterest board, though). But I hope that you all can take them for what they are--just harmless memes that are meant to get a laugh! I've been saving a huge collection of these on Pinterest ever since my bipolar diagnosis, and whenever I find myself feeling down for whatever reason, I can always get a pick-me-up from looking through them. I find them so relatable!

Remember, I'm sharing these with tongue in cheek and a smile on my face, so please do not take any of these personally if you find them offensive. I hope you find them as funny as I do!

(By the way, the owl in a lot of these is called "bipolar owl" and the cat is "anxiety cat"--just in case you decide to search for more.)

bipolar meme yolo

Britney Spears stress 2007

Sponge Bob anxiety meme

anxiety cat stealing

hypomania no sleep

loving bitchy person

mental health care impossible to get

bipolar owl medicine

anxiety cat stress over past

anxiety cat memes relate to you

anxiety cat meme skin cancer

meme about anxiety

introvert meme

bipolar cry over burnt toast

anxiety quote

June 06, 2019

Lots of Energy!

This photo is of Joey doing "smell the fart" acting ;)  If you were a fan of Friends, you may remember the episode where Joey explains what "smell the "fart" acting is:

After having what feels like an ocean's worth of rain dumped on us for the last couple of months, the weather is finally starting to look better! We've had a few mornings where it's cool and not humid, which is my very favorite.

This morning before taking the kids to school, I let Joey outside to pee, and it felt so nice that I went outside and sat on the porch while drinking my coffee. I could see Phoebe watching us from the door, and I felt bad for her--she LOVES going outside and sneaks out as often as she can (we try to keep her indoors, especially after that one time she was missing for four days).

When I went to the Purina True Nature of Cats event, they gave us leashes for cats. When you put a cat on a leash, you don't necessarily walk them around like a dog. You basically just let the cat explore while you follow around. So, I went inside, grabbed Phoebe and the leash, and hooked her up.

She wasn't out there three minutes before she managed to worm her way out of the leash and take off for the backyard. Sigh. For some reason, she ran right to the back door--that never happens!--so I didn't have to chase her around for 20 minutes. Next, I put Estelle on the leash, and she was much more curious.

I let her stay out there until she started eating the grass. If you have cats, then you probably know what grass puke looks like.

After taking the boys to school, it was still really nice and overcast. So, I mentioned the "walk" word to Joey and he flipped out with excitement, per usual. I sipped my coffee while we went for a nice two-mile walk, stopping halfway so he could play in the lake. It started to sprinkle on the way home, and it actually felt really good. I felt a slight pang inside of nostalgia for running.

I was full of energy when I got home and I wanted to work on something. Anything. We're trying to save money this month (Noah's emergency room bills are going to be expensive), so I won't be doing any major projects. Instead, I used what materials we have leftover from our renovation, and did a few things with those.

We didn't have much floor molding left, and I didn't think I'd have enough to do my closet; but by piecing together 4-5 shorter lengths of it, I was able to do the trim in the closet. I still have to paint it, but it definitely looks better. I was so excited to use my new Paslode finishing nailer!

Remember when I wrote that one of my wish list items was a Paslode nailer? They're crazy expensive ($367) so I was watching Facebook Marketplace several times a week. Literally the day after I posted about that, I found one--it was identical to my brother's (which I'd been borrowing), and included three batteries as well as about $100 worth of nails... all for $110! I asked if they would take $100 for it, and they said yes.

The only problem was that it was kind of far away. I had to drive nearly 2-1/2 hours into Ohio to get it! But it was a nice solo drive where I could listen to my podcasts and see a location that was completely in the middle of nowhere. They were also selling a nice router for $40, so I bought that as well. Some thrilling finds for me ;)

The drive back was horrendous and hysterical at the same time. Because it was SO far from civilization (I literally hadn't passed a gas station for 30 miles), there was no where for me to stop and pee. I was dying. My bladder was about to burst. Eventually, I saw a sign that said "rest area" ahead. I nearly sang with joy.

When I got there, I saw it was just a couple of picnic tables and a small building for a men's and women's bathroom. I was not going to be picky, just because it wasn't the sort of rest area I'm used to seeing.

When I opened the door (which wouldn't close all the way, by the way) I was horrified, to put it lightly. They weren't real toilets, but more like outhouses. The "stalls" weren't really stalls at all and they had no doors.

I had to pee so badly that I chose the stall furthest from the door--remember, the door was cracked open and would make me totally visible from outside if someone should open it. I sanitized the hell out of my hands when I got back in the car. It was quite the adventure!

Anyway, after installing the molding in my closet today, I decided to finally hang up a bifold door that we bought for our hallway closet. The door has been sitting in the garage for a few months, so I got started on that. I had to paint the door frame first and then hang the door. I still have to paint the door itself, but I like it much better than the previous one.

Speaking of doors, I also had to take Eli's door off the hinges and shave off 1/4 inch from the bottom (it was dragging on his carpet too much). That was easy, and now his door functions much better.

I have no idea if this is related or not, but with this burst of energy I've had for the last few days, I can't help but wonder if it's because I started taking vitamin B12. I've done some research on it, and I bought a liquid that you squeeze under your tongue and let it sit for 30 seconds before swallowing. Here is the kind that I bought (I got mine at Kroger, but here it is on Amazon). It tastes good, and I've read that the liquid absorbs better than pills.

That's literally the only thing I've done different lately, but I've found that I have a noticeable amount of more energy. I really hope it keeps up!

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