August 2, 2016

An Epiphany!

You don’t need to have an autoimmune disease to benefit from a healthy diet, for many people it is the way to go, well I drank the Kool-Aid, made the commitment, yet I’m still struggling with weight loss.  I’ve got the grocery/farm stand shopping down, I buy real, unprocessed, and whole foods.  On the way home I think of all the shoes and bags I could add to my collection if I wasn’t so health conscience and spending an arm and leg on groceries. I am always anticipating the miraculous changes in my weight, that seem to elude me.  Honestly, there are some days that I experience the joys of my efforts, but there many days that I feel junk food/sweets deprived.  Foods sweetened with figs or dates are delicious, but they don’t always satisfy my sweet tooth.  Intellectually I know the importance of losing weight, plus the benefits and relief to my joints I will gain, if I do lose weight, yet I’m still chubby!

I believe my biggest problem is, I read too much, and am constantly changing my weight loss game plan.  Last night while I was thinking about how I was going to attack my weight loss, I thought about a 7-year-old Mary Ann! Mary Ann 6 years - 1 After being so proud and excited about making my First Communion, I spent hours looking over the pocketbook the school gave the girls.  It contained rosary beads, a scapula, and most importantly a girl’s version mass book.  In the back cover of the book, there was an explanation about visiting the confessional, and categories of sins to confess.  During my post Communion confession, I couldn’t remember any sins I had committed that week, so I made some up and just figured I’d add my lie to next week’s confession.  So I wouldn’t make the same mistake of not remembering my sins, I started to write all the infractions I was making during the week, not forgetting to add last week’s lie to my list. 

Armed with this list in hand and my brothers Boy Scout pen light, I walked up the hill to church for confession.  What a shock that priest had when I fired up the pen light and began.  I was instructed to throw some light on the deepest reaches of my soul and the Father McCarthy was not impressed, I think he went catatonic! It was definitely not a good idea to set off a pen light in a confessional, but I also realized I would have had a successful confession if I was allowed to continue, only because of my well thought out list. It occurred to me that I was approaching my weight journey in the wrong way.  It couldn’t be a day/week on, day/week off commitment, and the only way I would be successful in reshaping my eating habits was to be accountable!  I can’t change the amount of time it is going to take getting into shape, so I am going to do, not think about what I should be doing!Father McCarthy - 1

Take this as a warning, that on my blog, you will occasionally be subjected to an account of my weight loss journey!  I whole-heartedly intend to log my progress, stay committed to my goals, and keep a food journal, and most importantly, not eat Funny Bones for breakfast, lunch, & dinner! 

XO - 1

July 26, 2016

Favorite Day to Day Items!

Having a compromised immune system is not only frightening, it has made me think differently about personal hygiene.  I do my best to be conscientious regarding make-up, brushes, and anything that will heighten my chances of infection. Today, I’m sharing some of the changes I have made, and the items I now use on my journey to living a healthier life with RA.

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♥Most days I use the  Sephora Precious Elements anti-bacterial brush set, the brushes have been treated with a non-toxic, hypoallergenic compound that destroys harmful bacteria.  I can’t honestly say it makes difference, but being health conscious diminishes some of the stress that is present when dealing with an autoimmune disease.

♥Even though I don’t wear a ton of make-up, I do enjoy wearing it.  When dealing with eye make-up I will always use cream eye shadows, they are less likely to flake and get into my eyes.  As far mascara goes, I use two types and I also use a dedicated right eye wand and a dedicated left eye wand, I am fearful of cross contamination if I should acquire an eye infection. My first swipe of mascara is the Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara.  This mascara is a creamy, 91% natural mascara that conditions your lashes as it coats them.   My favorite for length and coverage is the   Maybelline®the COLOSSAL VOLUM’ Express.  I change out my mascaras every 4-6 weeks, depending on the usage.  Since I’m purchasing 4 mascaras so often, I had to find affordable products that do the trick, and the two mentioned are fabulous.  There are many eye complications associated with RA, I’m doing my best to stay healthy and avoid all complications associated with this disease.

♥A 99.9% effective antibacterial protected hair brush made its way to me by a good friend, Joy.  The Tangle Angel brush,  has been a welcomed tool in taming my now curly hair.  It has a handle that is shaped for ease and comfort which makes the job of drying my hair considerably more easy.  I’m really enjoying the ease of use, especially during a flare.

♥After an afternoon at an outlet mall, entering and exiting as many stores as I could in a 2 hour spam,  constantly applying antibacterial gel to my hands, I developed a rash, complete with dry and flaky skin.  It required a visit to a doctor’s office, I was given medicated cream and a suggestion to stop using the antibacterial gels.  I stumbled upon the most remarkable hand sanitizer,  EO Hand Sanitizer , a moisturizer, sanitizer, organic spray that does not contribute to bacteria resistance, which cleans and disinfects your hands.

I’ve become a firm believer in small changes that make a big difference in the quality of ones life.  I’m not always certain that the small changes I make, such as being extremely conscientious regarding any eye products I use, or using antibacterial products will keep me infection free.  One thing I do know, being conscientious and aware of the challenges associated with RA, gives me confidence in knowing I am prepared to deal with anything this rotten disease throws at me!

XO - 1

 

July 22, 2016

New Decade, New Lifestyle

 

When Generation X turned 30, there wasn’t any fanfare, let alone “Dirty Thirty” parties. The most memorable parts of my 30th were extreme fatigue and joint pain. At first I thought it was a bug (it was January after all). Then I thought maybe it’s all in my head. At the prompting my husband, I went to an immunologist. I was tested for everything from cancer to Lupus and everything in between. When my lab work came by my liver enzymes were through the roof, and my Epstein Barr titers were elevated. With my diagnosis of Epstein Barr virus and fibromyalgia, I began a journey of recovery that in many ways continues today. I was shocked with my specialist told me to exercise. Are you insane?!!?! I can barely get out of bed, showered and dressed to make my appointments here, and you want me to exercise ?? I was put out of work for 9 months, was unable to drive, and embarked on a journey of getting the best out of chronic illness and not letting it get the best of me. It was my goal to live up to my new motto: Joy Always.

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July 19, 2016

2016 Summer Book Edit

 

Summer is usually a time that I read books/magazines that require little attention or thought, and have no purpose.  They are books and magazines that I pick up over the summer, read put down, and don’t take very seriously unless we have days of rain and then they become my best friend.  This summer is different!  On June 17th I had my second hip replacement.  Unlike the first one, I’m not recuperating at the same rate as the first one, and here I am four weeks out and still using a crutch and having the visiting nurse check/changing my dressing and home physical therapy.  This has left lots of time, with limited physical activity, so I decided to get some reading material that would be beneficial to my school schedule that I will resume in six weeks.  I sent my husband Jeff to Target to pick up a few books that would improve my organizational habits and acquire new cooking skills that would simplify my life during the school year.  I also wanted a mystery romance novel for some mindless activity.  He returned with the following books:

First off, what a surprise, Gwyneth Patrow’s book, “It’s All Easy“!  I spent at least two hours of my life that I will not get back perusing this cookbook.  I do understand Jeff’s choice in chosing this book thinking that easy weekday recipes would be doable during the school year.  What a surprise to find this book to be an introspective of how limited my culinary knowledge is, and I possessed a palette that was still in infancy!  Most of the two hours was spent online looking up ingredients that were as foreign to me as a size two bikini!  Who has a kitchen large enough to store a matcha whisk, chickpea flour, za’atar, hazelnut oil, coconut sugar, and the list went on and on.  I’m still baffled by airline chicken breast (or boneless, skin on), and was getting punch drunk trying to decipher what I was reading and then discovered the pantry list.  If I had read the two pages of ingredients needed for these recipes I probably would have just perused the lovely pictures of her and called it a day after 10 minutes.  I just couldn’t relate to the recipes and found this cookbook pretentious at best.

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Thank God Jeff redeemed himself with a cookbook author he knows I love, Ina Garten, the “barefoot contessa”.   Her cookbook, “making it ahead” is similar to her other cookbooks, foolproof recipes, and a joy to read.

make it ahead - 1

The recipes are easy to follow, written in a clear and concise manner.  I find myself having to prioritize what I will be making first and a list of any ingredients I may need, which is usually not the case. My results are what you see in the pictures of the book and I believe the recipes are written for all levels of cooks.  From this book I’ve made the Skillet Brownies and the Easy Tzatzike for the 4th of July.  They went so fast, I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures.  Whether you’re a cook or not, her cookbooks have stories that are paired with recipes that will inspire you to want to try her recipes or just enjoy her pictures of delicious foods.

Next,whatever possessed Jeff to pick “the life-changing magic of tidying up” is beyond me!  I made it to page 73 and couldn’t take it anymore!the life-changing magic of tidying up - 1

Just knowing this book is out there to help people live a more organized life lit a fire under me to reorganize my home workspace and bedroom so I wouldn’t need this book’s assistance.  What I took away from the 73 pages that I read was that I needed to finish the process of discarding before I could tidy in the right order.  The criterion for discarding is; “Does it spark joy?”.  I have a houseful of stuff that does not spark joy in my life!  I find no joy in many articles of clothing, toiletries, or cooking utensils in my life, yet, I cannot discard them, they are a functional part of my life.  I had no problem continuing to read this book that I found cluttered with useless information until I hit page 73 when the author wrote; “The act of folding is far more than making clothes compact for storage.  It is an act of caring, an expression of love, and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle.”  My head began to hurt, and I knew this book was maybe a little too deep for me! (sarcasm)  Even if my life was in shambles, my idea of tidying up is drastically different from the authors.  I pride myself on being able to read and value printed text but this was quite the challenge that I wasn’t willing to undertake!

Finally, a book that was not a cookbook that I found most enjoyable!

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As stated in the above description I wanted a mystery/romance novel for a quick read, and this one did the trick!  It certainly was not deep, yet it kept me engaged.  “Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe” was a fast paced read and just a typical romance novel that you don’t read for any intellectual content!  I loved it!

Hope you enjoyed my first book edit!  In the future I will share on a monthly basis reviews, of the book I found most exciting each month!

XO - 1

July 12, 2016

Packing for a Quick Getaway!

Once I made the decision to spend the Memorial Day weekend in Boston, I was overwhelmed with excitement.  This would be the first time I had traveled alone since my RA diagnosis, and had only visited family once or twice in the last three years.  RA really cramped my style but I was ready to check into the    Fairmont Copley Plaza  and spend time with my best friend Irene, something I hadn’t done in years.  I only live a 64 mile train ride from Boston, but the unpredictable affects of RA made me nervous to make this trip alone,  but I didn’t back down!

So in anticipation of my trip, I downloaded a packing checklist from TravelSmith, that dazed and confused me!  By arbitrarily checking off small boxes and having a limited place on the sheet to write, frustrated me because I couldn’t figure out how this was helpful.  So I started over and swore I would not pack as I used to, by emotion and if something was pretty and I really liked it, I took it.  I didn’t say I wore it, but I took it!

I resorted to what I thought would best suit my circumstances, I would absolutely not take anything I was not going to wear and my suitcase would not be overpacked and difficult to maneuver.   The Delsey Helium 21″ Spinner Suitcase was taken down from the attic.  I picked up a ChicoBag Travel Zip Quartat Whole Foods that had everything I needed except deodorant and toothbrush.  It contained repairing Moroccan argan stem cell + argan oil shampoo  and conditioner, tangerine citrus African Black Soap, juice BeautyNutrient Moisturizer, Mineral Blushing Crystal nail polish, and Tom’s of Maine toothpaste.Memorial Weekend - 4  With this done I went home, picked out the chinos, jeans, a few polo shirts, seasoned loafers, and pajama bottoms/t-shirt and undies.  It seemed as if it wasn’t enough, so I added a cashmere sweater around my neck on the way up that would double for a top on the 2nd night at dinner.  It was easy to pack because our plans were to include casual walks, meals, & meet ups with friends at our favorite coffee shop.

When I first arrived in Boston, we met at LA Burdick, around the corner from the hotel.  We took a little while to catch up and then headed to the Boston Commons to visit the 33,000 American Flags & stop by the Public Gardens to watch the Swan boats.

Boston Common 2016

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The weekend for me was terrific!  Nothing outrageous or unexpected happened, just an enjoyable two days with friends in my hometown.  With that being said, this brief rendezvous boasted my confidence that I can/will travel more often without any negative experiences because of RA!

XO - 1

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