December 4, 2021

Just Can't Focus

This is another not-so-happy post. I'm sorry that it's all I seem to have been writing all week, but I am unable to concentrate or focus on anything but Duck.

I updated yesterday's post, but if you didn't see that, here is a brief recap:

Duck made it through surgery just fine; the vet said that all went according to a best case scenario. The blockage was caught early so that his intestinal tissue hadn't started dying and they removed all the yarn he'd ingested with two small incisions. I was told I could pick him up today as long as he continued to do well through the night.

Last night, I was dying for it to hurry up and be today so that I could go get him. It sounds absolutely ridiculous to people who aren't this close to a pet, I know, but I miss him so much I can't think about anything else.

This morning, I called as soon as they opened to ask about him and find out what time I could go get him. It turned out that Duck had developed a fever overnight and they had to start him on an extra antibiotic and fluids to cool him down. They said they wanted to keep him until Monday. Two more nights!!

I asked about picking him up tomorrow (Sunday) if his fever comes down and he's doing well today. They said that they are closed on Sundays, so they don't allow pick-ups. I begged them to please make an exception, but they wouldn't. I think I could probably handle him at home, but I don't want to risk him getting an infection--that would cause SO many more problems.

It's not that I don't trust he's getting good care there--I'm sure he is! But they don't know Duck's personality and they can't give him the same love and attention that I can. To them, he is just another patient. To me, he means as much as a family member.

My biggest concern (other than his healing from the surgery, of course) is that he's scared that I've abandoned him. He's in a place he doesn't know, with all sorts of noises he's not used to (he's the very definition of a "'fraidy cat"--he startles by any noises or movement that is sudden and unexpected). I just keep picturing him in a tiny little sterile-like cage with nothing to do or look at and feeling startled by every little movement.

They sent me this picture of him today after I called asking about him. I'm sure they thought it would reassure me that he's okay, but I just think he looks sad. That is not his normal look at all.

Duck loves when I pet his face and pat his back right above his tail, he loves when I brush him with my hairbrush (he jumps up on the bathroom counter every morning to be brushed). At night, I make a little nest for him on the couch in my bedroom for him to sleep. In the morning, he jumps without warning onto my bladder to wake me up. Then he meows until I give him treats.

I just have a special bond with him and I've never done anything for him not to trust me; which is why I feel so bad about all this. All he knows is that I took him for a traumatizing car ride and dropped him off with strangers to be put in a cage and have a painful procedure. And now he's all alone. He's used to me talking to him all day (I talk to him like he's a person, basically--I love the way he watches me talk, like he actually understands me).

I'm afraid he's going to come home and I'll lose all of that with him: He won't trust me anymore, he won't like me anymore, he won't think of me as "his person". (Yes, I know I'm talking about a cat--but he's more than a cat to me!)

Anyway, I just feel really sad. I've felt sad all day long and whenever I think about him too much, I start crying again. I know things could be worse--he could have had several complications during surgery, or even have died during surgery, so I'm glad things went well. I just really hope that his fever comes down tonight and he starts eating. (The fact that he won't eat SHOCKS me--he loves to eat!)

I haven't gotten anything done today or yesterday. Each time I try to focus on any sort of task, I just can't stop thinking about Duck. I imagine that tomorrow will be the same. I'm going to take some of my anxiety medication tonight which usually helps me to sleep, so I'm going to sleep as long as possible and then try my best to distract myself tomorrow (not that it worked today).

I'll try to think of something different to write about tomorrow, I promise! Jerry wants to make Christmas cookies, so maybe I'll post some pictures of that. Light-hearted stuff!

Thanks so much for thinking of him. I've really appreciated the kind words. <3

December 3, 2021

The One Where Duck Needed Surgery

This picture is from last year; see if you can spot Duck in the Christmas tree ;)

(The title of this post is a Friends reference, in case you think it's an odd title!)

I'm posting this early today (Friday) because I'm super worried right now, and I'm actually looking for some reassurance from any of you that may have dealt with this situation before.

As if yesterday wasn't already a bad day, it went from bad to worse during the night. At around 4:00 AM, I heard Duck retching like he was going to throw up. (Anyone who has a cat knows that very distinct noise!) Duck never throws up, and I was immediately worried. Yesterday during the afternoon, Noah told me that Chick threw up spaghetti. I was totally confused--where on earth did he get spaghetti? (We'd actually had spaghetti for dinner the night before, so I was wondering if he got it from the trash or something.)

When I went to clean it up, I noticed it was actually white yarn. Immediately, I knew what it was from... the night before (on Wednesday night), I noticed that Duck had actually gone in my closet and took a small ball of yarn from a pillowcase that I keep it in. I never would have guessed that he would have found it like that! When I saw he had the yarn, I took it from him. It didn't look like he'd eaten any of it--the ball looked the same size as the others (they are tiny balls of yarn--10 grams--that came in a big pack of different colors).

I don't let the kittens play with yarn or rubber bands because they like to eat them. Obviously, I don't want them getting an intestinal blockage, so I keep those things put away. (Oh, and dryer sheets! I had to stop using them because Duck would dig through the clean laundry to find them and eat them.)

I didn't think about the yarn again until Chick threw it up yesterday afternoon. I was so glad he threw it up instead of it getting stuck in his intestines. He and Duck seemed totally fine all day yesterday. Duck was super playful and we played fetch a few times (his favorite game is when I crumble a piece of paper into a ball and throw it for him--he brings it back to me, over and over).

Actually, yesterday morning his paper ball went under the couch. I took out the swiffer to do a quick sweep under there to get any other cat toys--and look what I found! Hahahaha.

Early this morning, when Duck was retching I got up and noticed that there were several spots where he'd thrown up bile. He didn't come when I called him, which is VERY unusual for him. When I took out the treat jar--which he usually senses and is at my feet in half a second flat--he didn't even come. I tried giving him ham (he loves to eat) but he didn't even want that. That's when I knew something was very wrong.

Then, he was extremely lethargic. He just laid under the Christmas tree in the corner and wouldn't move. I knew I had to take him to the vet ASAP, so I started getting ready to take him there. The vet opened at 8:00 this morning, and it's about 35 minutes away. I left with Duck before they even opened, hoping that they'd see him right away.

He was completely panicked in the car. I was glad he wasn't lethargic, but he cried the entire drive to the vet. I felt horrible. 

Thankfully, they immediately took him in (because of COVID, I had to stay in the car--they came out to get him). They did blood work and an x-ray. The vet came out to tell me that there was definitely yarn causing a blockage--the yarn can basically strangle the intestines if it gets caught on something and can't pass through. This can cause the intestines to rupture, which can cause sepsis.

As he's telling me this, I'm sobbing and just wanting to know if Duck will be okay. He told me that Duck needs surgery and he wasn't sure how invasive it would be until they saw just how bad the blockage was/where the string was stuck.

He went on to say that the biggest or most common complication usually happens 2-5 days after the surgery--where the incision on the intestine can rupture, causing sepsis. So, they would keep him for 2-3 days to make sure that everything was working okay and he was eating and all that.

Hearing about this stuff made me super worried. I had hoped this was a common occurrence and that the vet would reassure me that Duck would be just fine--that the surgery was no big deal, etc. I just wanted to hear good things, even if he had to lie to me. When I asked him if Duck was going to be okay, he didn't really say anything reassuring even then. He just told me that the most crucial time was in the days after surgery.

He said they would call me to keep me updated. (The bill was $2500!!! Just in time for Christmas, naturally. So I handed over my credit card and told him to do anything that they needed to make sure Duck was okay.)

I sobbed all the way home. I've been home for a couple of hours and I'm dying to hear from the vet. I just figured writing a post would help me to think about it without imagining the worst case scenario. Also, I'm hoping that if this has happened to any readers' cats, you might be able to offer some reassurance that your cat turned out to be just fine. You can comment here or email me if you'd like--katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com.

(I apologize in advance if I don't reply within the next few days--I don't know what's happening yet and I'm going to be completely CRUSHED if something happens to Duck. I know you're not supposed to have favorites when it comes to pets, but Duck is my favorite pet I've ever had. I don't know how I will handle it if this surgery goes wrong.)

So this is definitely a downer of a post--after the previous two, good grief--so I'm hoping for good news to share later today.

EDIT (3:45 PM) - The vet called and said that Duck did really well during the surgery! I know this next week is going to be really tough, but I'm glad that the surgery is done. The vet said that because I took him in so soon after he ate the yarn (about 36 hours), the tissue hadn't yet started dying. She had to make two incisions in his small intestine to get the yarn out; there were two pieces and she said one piece was over three feet long!

When she sewed the incision closed, she said that the tissue was already showing blood flow and showing normal digestive movement--a very promising sign that he will heal well. They are keeping him overnight to make sure that everything is working as it should and if all goes well, we should be able to pick him up tomorrow afternoon.

I'm nervous to bring him home, but we've had to sequester cats before. I'll keep him in my bedroom and put a litter box in my bathroom. (The purpose of keeping him confined is to keep him from being too active; he needs to rest to allow the incisions to heal.)

Thank you for the nice comments! I am so relieved that the vet said he's doing okay. I can't wait to see him tomorrow.

EDIT (Saturday 9:00 AM) - The vet called and said that Duck is running a fever. She said it's pretty common for cats after surgery, but they are giving him IV fluids and another antibiotic just to be safe. But they said they want to keep him until MONDAY. The big reason for this is because it's the goddamn weekend. If his fever is gone today and he's doing well by tomorrow, normally I'd be able to get him tomorrow. But because it's Sunday, they won't let me pick him up tomorrow.

I miss him horribly, of course, but I am absolutely sure that he is completely stressed out. Duck is scared of everything--I always say he's my spirit animal because he has as much anxiety as I do--and I don't feel right leaving him there for so long out of convenience for the staff. Duck follows me around all over the house and he doesn't even like it when I close a door where he can't be with me. I'm sure he thinks I just abandoned him at an unfamiliar place. And Chick is clearly worried, not knowing where his brother is--he keeps pacing and meowing.

This is super stressful. And naturally, I am a stress-eater. This thing with Duck is something I never anticipated. I had my hopes up all night, thinking I was going to see him today.

I hate this so much. And I worry that he's going to be a completely different 

December 2, 2021

Putting It To Rest

Irony: Filling out a brand new planner, only to have nothing go as planned.

The past couple of days have been, well, kind of a mess. Like I wrote yesterday, I was scheduled for an MRI of my back this morning. When Jerry came in from work, he brought the mail in with him. There was a letter from the insurance company stating that the MRI was "not medically necessary" and they weren't going to cover it unless I met their requirements.

From what I read, I absolutely meet the requirements; I have no idea why they wouldn't agree: 1) My pain has to have been ongoing for more than six weeks (I first started seeing doctors about it in 2017, so I'd say that's more than six weeks) and 2) I had to have tried physical therapy, medications, or other remedies.

Well, I did physical therapy in late 2017 for my neck/back/shoulders. I have tried more medications than I can count, especially since seeing the rheumatologist this year. I was prescribed a TENS unit back in 2017, which I still use sometimes when my neck and shoulders are really bad (I don't think it actually helps, but I can make the jolts from the electrodes strong enough that I concentrate on those instead of the neck/back pain, hahaha). I've also gone to a chiropractor for adjustments (unfortunately, they did not help).

How many more "remedies" do I need to try before they'll approve an MRI?

So anyway, I did not have the MRI today. I can appeal the insurance company's decision, but that will take a while and by then, it'll already be 2022--a brand new year with a brand new deductible to pay. Convenient for them, right? It's kind of disgusting how much money we pay for insurance only to be told that a test I meet the requirements for is "not medically necessary".

After reading the letter from the insurance company, I just kind of lost it. Not in an angry way, but in a defeated way. I cried as I told Jerry how tired I am of all of this. I'm ready to just let it go--I don't have any hope left in me. There are millions of people who live with chronic pain every day; I should just be grateful that I can still move on my own (albeit it very stiffly sometimes!). And I can't even describe how grateful I am to have such an understanding and amazing husband.

I really hate writing about pain because I feel like I'm whining and complaining (and nobody likes hearing people complain). But now that I'm not waiting for test results or to see a new doctor or something like that, I feel like I can put it to rest for the most part (at least here on my blog). I actually didn't even have intentions of writing about this today.

The whole point of my post was supposed to be the irony of planning things only to have nothing go as planned. And that's exactly how the past couple of days have gone. But tomorrow is a new day and I am going to move on :)

December 1, 2021

Planning Out New Goals

Considering it's Wednesday, I would normally post a Wednesday Weigh-In; I'm actually going to do that tomorrow, however. I had a really restless night--I was in a lot of pain--and when I got up this morning, I wasn't thinking straight. I was sure it was Tuesday! By the time I realized it, I'd already had breakfast and a lot of water. So I'll just do my weigh-in tomorrow instead.

Tomorrow morning, I have an MRI (just another test in this long quest to find out what's causing the chronic pain). I'll write more about it on another post, hopefully after getting some answers.

For now, I'm focusing on goals for December. I haven't been running for the last couple of weeks and I was getting kind of worried that I would quit again for the long-term. I don't want to get back to the point of not being able to run three miles, so I decided that I'm really going to make running a focus this month.

Instead of just saying that I'll run 3-4 days a week, I need to have a set schedule--a printed out piece of paper telling me exactly when to run and what that running workout is. Otherwise, I just don't end up doing it the way I "intend" to.

Usually in December, I start thinking about the new year and what goals I'd like to make. I also love to get a new journal/planner to write out goals and keep track of them throughout the year. I don't always finish them--actually, I don't think I ever have, hahaha--but they do help me get in the mindset for whatever I want to accomplish.

This year, I bought the same journal I'd gotten a couple of years ago. It's called the Clever Fox Weekly Planner (Amazon affiliate link). This is the second edition, which actually addressed my only complaint from the previous edition. The monthly calendar pages were all at the beginning of the book and the weekly ones were after those. I would have liked to have the weeks follow each month (which makes much more sense). Well, I guess other people had the same thought, because the new version of the planner is in order! (Monthly page, then five weekly pages, then another month, then five more weekly, etc.)

The planner is undated, so I didn't have to wait until January to start. I spent some time over the last few days writing out long-term goals as well as my goals/plans for December. I'd asked recently on Facebook for people to share their favorite things (prior to my own post) and someone said "Paper Mate Flair Pens". I was curious, so I checked them out and ended up buying some to go with my planner/journal.

Wow--I love them already! They remind me a lot of Sharpie fine-tip markers, but they don't bleed or show through the paper. The tips are thin enough that you can use them exclusively to write out everything (no need for a pen) and it will look colorful and fun. I love that the ink doesn't spread at all when you touch the tip to the paper--it's actually like writing with a pen--and that there is no ghosting (where you can see the writing through the pages).

I don't really want to share the pages of my journal/planner here (at least not yet), simply because it's more personal, but I'll write about some of the goals here on my blog. I have goals in lots of different areas of my life, but in this post, I'm just going to stick with December's goal of running/exercise.

I'm going to do the MAF80 plan that I shared, which is four runs per week. I find that when I have days off between runs, it's hard to get started again. I know I don't want to run seven days a week, so I decided to schedule in walks with Joey on the days off of running. That way, I already have it planned out and there is no question of whether I am getting in miles that day.

I've always liked having Wednesday and Saturday as my rest days (when I was running five days a week), so I'm going to schedule my walks with Joey on Wednesday and Saturday. Since I'm only running four days a week, I'll also schedule a walk on Monday. That means I'll be running on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday. 

I'd like to plan on doing it in the mornings, but I'm usually in the worst pain of the day in the morning, making it hard to exercise. So, I'm just going to have to decide on a day-to-day basis of what time I'll run/walk. Today, I walked Joey at around 5:30 PM--it was dark the whole time, so I had to wear a headlamp! It felt so much later than it was. Lately, I've actually really liked going in the dark--when the ground gets icy or snowy, though, I'll have to either go in the daylight or on the treadmill.

If this post seems rushed or chaotic, it's because it is--I'm hungry and incredibly tired, so I just want to finish this now and get something to eat. Then, read my book (I'm still reading my November read-athon book!) and hopefully get some sleep tonight.

Can you believe it's December of 2021 already? The pandemic has been going on for nearly two years now. Thinking of goals for the new year is fun--I just hope that "normalcy" will return in full in 2022!

November 30, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #50

I'm thrilled that I have a few transformations to share today! I was getting worried that Transformation Tuesday was going to become a thing of the past. So please keep them coming--it never gets old to see before and after photos! Here goes...

I found this coffee table at a thrift store. We took it home, and I sanded all the paint off the top. It took quite a few hours, even with an electric sander because there were quite a few thick layers of paint.  I removed the base of the table and spray painted it white. Once the paint was dry, I reattached the top and stained it. Ta-da!

- Angela

Angela, it looks fantastic! (Believe me, I know just how long it takes to sand furniture--ugh.) I'm amazed at how much more modern it looks. I love that you chose to use stain and paint; I always think of one or the other, but I forget how good it looks when you use a combination. You did a great job with the restoration!  - Katie

This transformation is just the walls--I painted them. I hope to do a clean desk and then shelf stain transformation later, lol.

- JT

JT, I love that you chose such a bold color for the walls--it looks great! I think darker colors like that look so cozy. But I have to say, my favorite part about your photos is your cat--he looks just like Duck! And in that first picture, it looks like he's rubbing his face against the cans of cat food--which is exactly what Duck would be doing. So funny! Anyway, the new wall color looks fantastic--thanks for sharing.  - Katie

I live in a very small (urban) condo/apartment in Boston--there are two closets in the entire place--one under my staircase for coats that is approximately 30 inches wide and 24 inches deep (!!)--I can barely get my coats in there.

The space is also pretty wide open--downstairs is a single room (kitchen/dining/living, upstairs is the other room (bed/desk/reading); the saving grace is the closet upstairs, which does quadruple duty: small stacking washer/dryer, clothing storage, cleaning supplies, linen closet and more.

The closet has been slowly getting out of control, and I desperately needed to replace my summer clothing with the winter stuff (I store opposite-season clothing in bins)--I also had every bit of craft and office stuff in there, but nothing was as organized as I'd have liked, and I was starting to dread going in there.

Anyway, I was hoping the project would take about two hours... it took more like six, but once I started, I had to keep going. I did this the day before Thanksgiving (just something else to be grateful for)!

- Michelle

Michelle, you have such a talent for design! I love the colors and patterns in the bedroom. Also: please come organize my crafting stuff! Holy cow, it looks so neat that I wouldn't even want to take anything out to use it, haha. You did a lot in six hours--that's awesome!  - Katie

Thank you so much for sharing your transformations! I always love seeing before and after photos, no matter what they may be. So please share yours! Just send a before photo and an after photo to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Be sure to include your name and a description of the transformation--I can't wait to see what you come up with :)

November 29, 2021

My Favorite Things! (2021)

(I am publishing this Monday's post early--I tried to get it done yesterday, because today is Cyber Monday!--but it took much longer than I thought to put this together. The prices listed below may be different today than they were yesterday or the day before as I wrote the post.)

This is going to be a SUPER long post. And as you know, I am ALWAYS wordy, so this will be extra long with a ton of pictures. Just a fair warning!

I always like to make a post of my favorite things around the holidays in case anyone is looking for gift ideas for someone. Some items on the list have been on past lists (simply because I love them so much) but there will be lots of new stuff, too!

I've organized this into categories (since my blog has really expanded out from just weight loss/running). So hopefully the categories will be helpful. Also, some of the items are very expensive (if you just have a lot of money and are looking to spend it, I guess! haha) but some of them are very reasonable. I tried to include a good variety!

[A lot of these are linked to Amazon. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission for linking to a product (unless it's a very expensive item, it's usually less than a dollar, honestly). I tell you this because I legally have to, but also I want to explain that I am NOT posting this for commissions. I may consider selling out if they were offering me hundreds in commission, but for the tiny percentage I get, it's not worth advertising things I don't actually love! Everything on this list is truly one of my favorite things, even if it's as silly as socks and underwear.]

Here we go... (in no particular order except for the first one--which I post about way too often)

Luxuries for Myself:

Kindle Paperwhite

I love the anti-glare screen so I can read outdoors!

I recently wrote all the reasons I love it, which you can find here. I'd linked to it because it was the cheapest price I'd seen ($85) but just two days later, it shot up to $160! So, they have a new 2021 model that is cheaper than the 2018 model I'd linked to. They have a Cyber Monday deal right now and it's $104.99 if you choose the 8 GB one. (Mine has 8 GB and it stores more books than I could read in a lifetime.)

The difference between the Paperwhite and the regular Kindle is that it's lighter, smaller, and has an anti-glare screen. That's why I love it! It's much easier on my hands than any paperback book.

I chose not to buy the Amazon suggested cover and instead, Jerry bought me a cute cover with cats on it. Just search for Kindle covers (based on the model you have) and you'll find tons of options.

Again, here is the link: Kindle Paperwhite 2021 (11th Edition)

Brooklinen Sheets

I'm no bed stylist. Even if I was, I have cats! (This is a percale duvet cover)

This item has been on my list for several years now. These sheets are AMAZING and their customer service is the best I've ever dealt with. (One of the buttons came off of my duvet cover in the washer, and I asked for a new button; they ended up sending me a whole new duvet cover! And I'd tried their linen sheets (which Jerry and I love love loved, but the kittens' nails were snagging them; they let me return them with no problem at all. I love this company and I love their sheets.

My favorite ones are the percale (which happen to be the cheapest as well). They are crisp and cool. (Make sure you wash them right out of the package--they will feel like sandpaper until they are washed.) I also have their luxe sateen sheets, which are very soft and "buttery". They are warmer and smoother.

My only complaint about Brooklinen sheets is that they don't have a huge variety of colors. They are very neutral.

Here is a discount code for Brooklinen. If you use this link, you get $25 off your first purchase of $100 or more. And I get 1,000 points (which can be used toward products if I save up points).

Electric Toothbrush

This picture was very difficult to take! haha

I cannot express enough how glad I am that we switched to an electric toothbrush! My dental assistant had suggested it for years, but I just didn't understand why would be much different than a regular toothbrush. 

But holy smokes--each time you brush your teeth, you feel like you just got back from the dentist! It has a timer that makes a beep every 30 seconds--so you divide your mouth into quadrants and make sure you brush each section for 30 seconds until it shuts off after 2 minutes. It's super powerful (I was a little shocked the first time I used it) but my hygienist told me to just hold it softly against my teeth and gently move it along. If you brush too hard, the toothbrush will alert you as well. I was always brushing too hard, according to my hygienist, and using this toothbrush has stopped that.

The exact one that I bought is discontinued, but here is a similar one: Philips Sonicare 4100. It's $75.90 right now on Amazon. There are lots of cheaper options for toothbrushes (mine was only like $50 when I bought it) but I just wanted to post the one that similar to the one I own.

Electric Blanket

Notice Jerry's creepy eyes in the background?

I am always FREEZING. I don't know why that is (maybe it's the gallon of ice I chew every day--whenever I complain of being cold, Jerry sarcastically says, "maybe you should eat warmer ice"--hahaha! Jerry bought me this electric blanket (probably because he's tired of me always complaining of being cold) and I love it. It's gets really hot (usually, I put my heating pad and blanket on the highest setting, but sometimes I have to turn this to the medium setting. Mine has hand and foot pockets, which just kind of tuck you in. I like that it keeps my feet from poking out.

Here is the one that I have: Sunbeam Heated Throw Blanket. It's $63.49 on Amazon.

Heating Pad

I can't imagine why I'm always so cold!

Similar to the electric blanket, I also use an electric heating pad that warms by back and shoulders (Jerry calls it my "titty warmer" because the shoulder pieces just happen to fall right over my boobs--*eyeroll*). Not only does this warm me up, it works wonders for my back pain! It's easier than the blanket for me to carry around from my bedroom to living room and back. Any time I am sitting, I have the heating pad on my back.

Here is the one that I have: Large Heating Pad for Back and Shoulder. It's $29.63 for Cyber Monday.

Gauzy Blankets

Ever since Luke (my nephew) was a baby, I have been obsessed with gauzy blankets. They are SO comfortable! Any time I am relaxing on the couch, I have to have a blanket on me--even in the summer. I bought this one in the summer because I didn't need something heavy and warm. I just wanted a light, airy blanket. Jerry and Noah loved it, so they each got one as well.

This is the one I have. They have all different sizes and lots of colors/patterns: Scientific Sleep Lemon 100% Cotton Muslin Blanket. The price depends on the size/color you choose. I bought a twin size to use as a throw and I think it's the perfect size for that. (I think throws are just too small!)

Muk Luks Slippers

I recently posted about these because Kohl's had them on sale for only $9.99 ($8.50 with their 15% off coupon online!). I bought a few pairs as gifts and a couple new pairs for me. I LOVE these slippers. They are perfect for wearing around the house, or even darting outside to the mailbox or to grab something from the car. When I am at home, I am almost always wearing my Muk Luks.

The Amira Slippers are the ones I use and love. Right now, they are on sale for $16 on the Kohl's website (still a great deal!) or you can find them on Amazon for $39.95.

Light Therapy Lamp

I was shocked that this thing actually worked for my depression last winter. I was extremely skeptical, but I was also desperate for some help, so I figured I'd give the light therapy lamp a try. From the very first time I used it, I felt happier and I had more energy. It was crazy to me! Lately, I've started using it again and it helps so much. If you have depression, or seasonal affective disorder, I would highly recommend trying it out!

I can't be sure if this is the exact one that I have, but it looks identical, so I think it is: LED Light Therapy Lamp, UV-Free 10000 Lux Bright White Therapy Light

It's currently $23.99 on Amazon.

Lumosity and/or Peak Apps

These are phone apps that I really love. They have a ton of brain games that supposedly "train your brain". I'm not sure about all that, but they really do make you think and work different parts of your brain. There is a free version for each app, but if you try that and like the games, I highly recommend getting the full version. You have access to more games and you are able to play them as much as you like.

Lumosity has a deal right now for a 1-year subscriptions for $35.97; and Peak is $34.99 for 1 year.

Tek Gear Hoodies

This is a mens' small. I like the way men's shirts fit.

Ohmygosh, I am in love with these hoodies from Kohl's! They were recently on sale for $8.49 and I bought a couple for each person in my family. We all love them. They are super cozy and great quality. They are sold out of a lot of them right now, unfortunately, but you can try for the size you want on the Kohl's site here: Mens Tek Gear Ultra Soft Fleece Hoodie.

Right now, they are on sale for $17.59 online. (These are mens shirts, so if you are a woman, you may want to order a size down. I wear a size small in these sweatshirts (and normally would wear a medium in women's clothes). 

Water Bottles/Tumblers

I have a small obsession with water bottles. It is so hard to resist buying more of them whenever I see cute ones! Since getting arthritis in my hands, I needed to find a water bottle that was skinnier than what I was used to so it wouldn't hurt my hands as much. I found this four-pack on Amazon and I love these ones! They are stainless steel (with a matte coating on the outside) and the inside is seamless (something I really like--I think it's better quality that way). The lids fit great and they have stainless steel straws.

My only complaint was the color options--all of the multi-packs had a pink one in them, and I hate pink. I ended up going with four blue ones that match my kitchen, but I wish I'd gotten a multi-pack just for the variety. They are $35.99 on Amazon for four tumblers. Here is the link: Koodee 20 oz Stainless Steel Skinny Tumblers (4 Pack)

Five-Year Journal

I absolutely love the concept of a five-year journal and this one is my favorite. They are so neat! You only write a few sentences per day. The journal has 366 pages, but each page contains a spot for the year. So, for instance, November 4 (above) has lines for 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024. When you're writing in 2023, then, you can easily see what you'd written on that date in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

There are several different ones, but this is the one that I have and I love it. It has the perfect amount of writing space and it's good quality. Here is the link: Leuchtturm 1917 Some Lines a Day. It's $29.50 on Amazon right now.


Feather Toy for Cats

I tried so hard to get a picture! Duck is so fast, this was the best I could do.

My cats are OBSESSED with this! I cannot stress that enough. Duck especially goes wild for it. It's basically like a mini fishing pole (with the clear fishing line) and you hook little toys to the end (he likes the feathers with a bell). You swoosh it around and the cats stalk it and jump to try to catch it. Duck has jumped a good five feet in the air to catch it!

This came with two wands/fishing pole things, five feather toys and four soft worm-like things to hook onto them. It was a great price and totally worth it. (Duck will drag the entire pole around with him when he wants to play with it, haha. He even dragged the toy up the Christmas tree, which I then had to untangle.)

Here is the link on Amazon: MeoHui Interactive Cat Feather Toys. The package is $12.58.

Cat Nail Scratcher

This is a bit of an investment, considering it's made of cardboard, but it lasts a LONG time and all four of my cats use it. I recently bought the one that is slightly more expensive, but it's a little larger and the cats can use the inside part as well as the outside (and they do use it). If all the cats liked each other, they could all four fit on it at the same time--and with the exception of Phoebe, my cats are big!

My cats use this as a bed and they scratch their nails on it (saving my leather couch). (I am VERY against declawing cats, and the best way to keep them from scratching furniture is to buy several different types of scratchers. My cats like the cardboard ones best. Also, get them used to having their nails trimmed from early on. I trim my cats' nails about once every two weeks. Other than Duck (who is SO DRAMATIC he sounds like's he's being slaughtered), the cats don't mind it at all. So please don't declaw your cats! 

This is the one that I bought (it's expensive, I know, but worth it): PetFusion Jumbo Cat Scratcher Lounge. It's $79.95 on Amazon. If you only have one or two cats, you can get the smaller version (which I've also had) for $49.95: PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge.

Dog Bed

This is Joey's dog bed (or Chick's cat bed, whichever way you look at it!). When we first got him, he chewed up every bed we bought for him! Once he got over his separation anxiety, we splurged on a nice bed for him. We bought it in 2016, and it's still in great shape! The quality is fantastic and the bed is definitely a luxury for dogs (it's like a Tempurpedic mattress). It's expensive, but considering it's lasted five years and counting, it was a good investment! (I just realized that it's the same brand as the cat scratcher)

Here is the link on Amazon: PetFusion Ultimate Orthopedic Dog Bed. Right now, it's $119.95 for a large, which is what we got Joey. A small is $69.95. 

Amazon Boxes

Enough said, really. Buy anything from Amazon, set the box on the ground, and your cats will be entertained for days!

Joey's Favorite Toys

Most of Joey's favorite toys are actually by a brand called Tuffy. If we buy anything else, he chews it to pieces; this Tuffy brand is, well TOUGH. He hasn't destroyed any of them yet! There are several different models and sizes, so here is the link to them on Amazon: Tuffy Dog Toys. The price depends entirely on what you choose.


Since Luke and Riley come over sometimes to spend the night, I figured I'd put a "kids" category in here. When I asked Becky for the kids' favorite toys, she said "Well, dirt; rocks; mud; anything outside!" Hahaha. 

Squirrel Board Game

I just posted about this a few days ago. This is a great game for kids ages 3-6-ish. Luke and I played and he really liked it! It's similar to the old Hi-Ho Cherry-O game. Here is the link on Amazon: Educational Insights The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game. Right now, it's $15.96 on Amazon.

Popcorn Maker

Luke and Riley LOVE to make popcorn at my house! And when my kids were little, they loved it just as much. I don't know what is so special about it, but Luke and Riley always request to make popcorn. We have two different popcorn makers that they love. Here are the links on Amazon:

Orville Reddenbacher Hot Air Popper - This is $33.59 on Amazon. I like this one because it is SO easy to clean up. I don't even use the top cup to melt butter or anything, so there really is zero clean up on this. You just dump out any unpopped kernels (there usually aren't many--maybe five or so).

The first picture is my kids when they were little; bottom one is them showing Luke!

West Bend 82707B Stir Crazy Electric Hot Oil Popcorn Popper - This is $29.99 on Amazon. This one is more fun, in my opinion, but it's the biggest pain to clean when you're done. You have to clean all the oil out as well as clean the butter from the top. But the kids love it! I had the older version when I was growing up (with the yellow bowl). Here are some fun pictures!

Personalized Videos

I got these when my kids were little and I plan to get them for my nieces and nephew for Christmas this year. This company takes a picture of your child's face and cuts it out then inserts it into a video (Noah was super into Dora the Explorer at the time, so I chose a Dora video for his birthday. It's a full episode of Dora and it's hilarious. This clip is the best part! (I especially love hearing Noah get so excited in the background while he watches it.) The quality is not this bad--it's just because I was taking a video of my TV way back in 2005-ish. (Watch the whole clip, it's worth it when they start dancing at the end.) YouTube said the music may not play in some countries for copyright reasons, because it's Dora the Explorer music--so I hope it will play, but I'm not sure it will.

There are several videos to choose from. It's been a long time since I ordered Noah's and Eli's, which were on a DVD, so I can't attest to how the digital video works (they do still have DVDs as well). But here is the company's website:


I don't have much to share here, because I keep everything so simple, but here are a few apps that I like:

Happy Scale App

This is the app that I use to track my weight. I LOVE all of the graphs on it and that you can see how your weight is trending compared to the previous year. It also shows you and average moving weight, so that you can focus on what your average weight is over a period of 10 days rather than each day (it helps if the scale discourages you on "bad" days). It predicts your weight on dates you specify based on your current weight trends. There are so many cool features! (Here is a post I wrote about a timeline of my weight, and it shows a lot of screenshots.)

It costs $11.99 for a year or $39.99 for a lifetime. I was lucky enough to try this out when it was pretty new, and the developer contacted me (he also allowed me to host a giveaway). He was super nice and helpful, which makes me like this app even more. Here is the link to the website, where you can find how to download it.

Cronometer App

I always recommend Fat Secret (the free version) to people who are looking to start counting calories. This Cronometer app was recommended to me by a reader and after trying the free version, I really liked it. I've switched back and forth between Fat Secret and Cronometer over the last few years. Cronometer is definitely more complicated and for a "numbers person"--there is a LOT of detail. So if that sounds like you, I recommend checking this one out!

Here is the website. You can use it there or download the app. There is a free version, but you can't create recipes with that, which was a dealbreaker for me. The "Gold" version is $39.99 for a year or $7.99 for a month.

Top of the Line Scale

This is definitely a huge splurge because of the cost, but it was totally worth it to me. I needed a new scale and I hated sorting through the features. I just wanted a simple but ACCURATE AND CONSISTENT scale.

I chose to go with a professional medical scale, which is as accurate and consistent as you can get. It comes with a wall mount for the display but I just use the little stand. It has a plug or you can use batteries--I've had it since 2017 and I don't think I've ever had to change the batteries! If you're looking for a new scale with no frills--just super accurate and consistent weight--and you have the money to splurge on one, I highly recommend this one.

Here is the link on Amazon: Health o Meter Professional 349KLX Digital Floor Medical Scale, 400 lb/180 kg Capacity. It's $236.00 right now.


Black Stretchy Pants

Love the pocket for my phone! (there is one on each thigh)

This is pretty much the only thing I run in. If it's hot outside, I'll wear capris (I don't wear shorts because of my loose skin); but most of the time, I wear pants. These ones are my current favorite--they are high-waisted (for tummy control!) and they have pockets on the side of the legs which are perfect for holding my phone (the phone doesn't move around or fall out). They're a comfy material while still being moisture-wicking, and they are thick enough that they don't highlight my cellulite! Haha.

Here is the link on Amazon: Heathyoga Yoga Pants for Women. They are $15.25 right now (they have multiple colors; I just choose black).

Sports Bras

These are my favorite sports bras. They are inexpensive (you get a pack of five for $37.99) and very comfortable. Disclosure: I do not have big boobs! I wear a 36B. They offer great support for me, but for someone with larger breasts, I can't say whether they would be supportive or not. But for someone with an A or B cup, I'd say that they are great. I've had mine for over a year now and they are only just now starting to show some signs of wear with the elastic. I have worn and washed them dozens of times over the last year, so I think I've gotten my money's worth. I may need to buy new ones in about six months or so.

Here is the link to them on Amazon: MIRITY Women Racerback Sports Bras. They are currently $37.99 for a 5-pack.


For years, I have raved about Balega socks. I LOVE them! They last such a long time (mine finally got holes after wearing them frequently for 7 years). Several readers have mentioned that they tried them after I recommended them and they love them, too. After wearing those, it's hard to wear anything else! Balega socks are the only socks I'll wear when running.

This pair of Balega socks is five years old!

Here is a link to my favorite ones on Amazon: Balega Hidden Comfort No-Show Running Socks for Men and Women. They have lots of different colors to choose from. They are $11.25 per pair on Amazon.

If you don't want to spend so much on socks, I've found a brand that are actually pretty similar to the Balega ones. You can tell the quality isn't as good and they won't last as long, but they are super comfy and much less expensive. Here they are on Amazon: BERING Women's Performance Athletic Ankle Running Socks (6 Pairs). They are currently $17.99 for a 6-pack.

Garmin Forerunner Watch

Of course my list wouldn't be complete without a Garmin Forerunner! This is my favorite running watch. There are a lot of different models, and mine happens to be very old--it's the Forerunner 620 from 2013. I love it so much that I don't want to upgrade because I don't want all the bells and whistles of the new ones (seeing text messages and phone alerts and all that stuff).

The most basic one right now with all the same features as mine (plus a lot more) is this one: Garmin Forerunner 45S. It is actually pretty cheap for a Garmin! (About the same cost as a new pair of running shoes.) It's $129.99 on Amazon right now. (I'm kind of tempted to get it and try it out! It's a Cyber Monday deal--it's regularly $199.99). If you have this model, please let me know how you like it! 


This is a terrible picture, but it shows both my sewing machine and serger.

Sewing Machine

This is the sewing machine that I have and I love it! It's very basic, but it does what I need it to do. Jerry bought this for me after he accidentally dropped my old sewing machine and broke it!

Here is the link on Amazon: SINGER | 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine. It's currently $189.99.

Today, for Cyber Monday, the price is $188.00 for the SINGER 4423--an upgraded model!


This is something I wanted for so long but I put off buying because it just seemed like it wasn't a necessity for sewing (it's a luxury). Also, I was totally intimidated by it. When I finally bought it, it sat in the box for a long time, unopened, because I just had no idea what I was doing. Once I finally got it out and started learning all the things you can do with it (thanks to YouTube!) I was so glad that I got it! I love using it and it has made sewing so much easier and more fun.

Here is the basic serger that I got: Brother Serger, 1034D, Heavy-Duty Metal Frame Overlock Machine. It is $249.99 on Amazon right now.

Quilting Cutting Supplies

These have been pretty invaluable when it comes to sewing (as well as other things). When cutting out fabric, using these makes it so easy to make straight lines and shapes that I would always mess up with scissors. There are a ton of different items you can get, but I just have a few basic pieces.

This is very similar to the set that I have (which is no longer sold): Fiskars Crafts 952301010 Rotary Sewing Cutting Set. This set is $19.97 on Amazon right now.

**I was going to make a whole category for woodworking, but I know that 99% of the people who visit my blog aren't here for woodworking stuff ;)  I would like to do a post or two about getting started in woodworking (I fell in love with it a few years ago) and the tools I love, but there is too much to explain on this post. So I'll save that for another day.


We love board games! As the kids are getting older, they don't like them as much, but Jerry and I like them more and more. Here are some of our more recent favorites.

Do You Really Know Your Family?

We only played this game for the first time recently, but it is an AWESOME family game! I suggest this for families with older kids--maybe 12 and older. It really gets conversation going, even with teens who usually answer with a one-word grunt when you ask how their day at school was ;)

Here it is on Amazon: Do You Really Know Your Family? It's $24.99 right now.

Ticket to Ride

This is a favorite game of Jerry and mine. The kids don't love it as much because it's more strategic, but Jerry and I have played over and over and we still really like it. It's usually our first choice of game when we are looking for something to play.

It's only $21.98 on Amazon right now, which is the cheapest I've ever seen it. It's usually about $50. Here is the link: Ticket to Ride.

Codenames and Codenames Duet

Much concentration!

This is a game that you definitely want to play when you're not looking for a lot of conversation. We don't play this with friends, because you really need to concentrate when it's your turn. Jerry and I like Codenames Duet, because you play with just two people working as a team to clear the board, but the game is played the same way as Codenames.

Basically, there are a bunch of cards face up on the table, each one with a random word on it. You have a key card that shows which words are "yours" and you can give a one-word clue to get others to guess your cards. You want to try to use one word in order to get them to guess as many cards as they can. For example, if three of your cards say "dog" "zoo" and "circus", you might give the word "animal" and hope that they can guess all three of those.

It involves a lot of concentration to come up with a clue word, which is why it's hard to have a conversation during this game. Jerry and I really like it, however! (Codenames is played in teams, where Codenames Duet is played together as a team.)

On Amazon: Codenames. This is currently $8.04.
On Amazon: Codenames Duet. This is currently $18.99


Keyboard Shortcuts Sticker

This little sticker fits on the bottom left space of my Macbook--it contains all of the keyboard shortcuts that you can use on the Macbook! My mom and sister are always asking me to help them with things on the computer, so I bought a five-pack in order to each of them one and Jerry as well. I wish I had known this existed a long time ago.

Favorite Panties

This is really random to put on here, but after buying these panties on Amazon, I loved them so much that this is pretty much all I wear now. They last a long time (I still have the first set I bought) and you can get a variety of colors in a 6-pack or 10-pack. I think they are pretty true-to-size. They aren't tight or restrictive, so if you're unsure about size, you might consider ordering down a size. 

Here they are on Amazon: Amazon Essentials Women's Cotton Stretch Bikini Panty. The 6-pack is $13.50 right now and 10-pack is $20.00.

Squirrel Lunch Box

As you know, I adore my squirrels! I've been feeding them and getting to know them for probably about six years now. They are like pets to me--they trust me and I've gotten to know their personalities. (Yes, they have separate personalities!)

I save the "good stuff" (a.k.a. walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans) for when I go outside to feed them by hand, but I always have this "squirrel lunch box" filled with peanuts (in the shell) so they can eat as they please. (And the more skittish squirrels who don't yet trust me will eat from that when I'm not outside.) I buy a big 50-pound bag of peanuts from a local farm supply store and I put a couple of scoops into this feeder every morning. If you like squirrels and want to see more of them, this is a great way to feed them! You can flip the plexiglass so that the bottom is covered and the birds can't get into the nuts. The squirrels just lift up the top and grab a nut. (Below is a funny video in action)

Here it is on Amazon: Zenport Squirrel Lunch Box Z38079. It is currently $30.39 on Amazon.

Gel Nails Kit

I finally found a nail polish that stays on for a long time, even with all of the woodworking and DIY stuff I do. I used to be very against gel polish because I feel like it destroys your nails; and that is a big drawback. When I remove the polish, my nails don't look great. However, I've learned to do it more gently and carefully--rather than pick at the polish, I take the time to soak them in acetone and gently scrape the polish off. It's not perfect, but for me it's worth it to be able to paint my nails and have the color last a long time without chipping. My mom liked it so much that she bought her own kit.

This is the kit I bought. It comes with everything you need. The polish cures with a UV light, so I put sunscreen on my hands before painting my nails. Then I do the following: one coat of the base polish and 90 seconds under the light; one coat of color, then 90 seconds under the light; if it needs a second coat of color, I'll do that, but even with my black polish, I usually just use one coat; finally, I put the top coat on and cure for 120 seconds. Then the nail polish lasts for at least a couple of weeks (unless I really start picking at it, so I don't do that).

Here is the kit I bought on Amazon (I had to buy my black polish separately): Beetles Gel Nail Polish Kit with U V Light 48W LED Nail Lamp 6 Colors Nude Grays Pink Gel Polish Starter Kit Manicure

It is currently $29.59 for Cyber Monday.

Okay! That was a LONG list, I know, but I wanted to put a good variety of stuff on there. Feel free to comment with your own favorite things--people can always use gift ideas! And if you have opinions of anything I've listed (good or bad), please share.

This post took FOREVER to put together, so I'm going to have a super relaxing, computer-free day ;)