When March rolls around most New Englanders hope, even dare to think of spring! The 2019 calendar says it’s officially March 20th but we all know it will be long after that. Our yard still sports mounds of snow, icy slopes and chilly icicles dangle from the rooftop. Snowstorms still clobber our region with multiple inches of the white stuff and whipping winds.
When I mention March madness I don’t mean basketball. If you have read my blog posts you’ve probably learned that my interests don’t include sports. My definition of March madness is the hovering cabin fever that sets in, especially in New England where winter consumes many months of the year. It’s the itch for beautiful pastoral scenes, bright sun, blooming blossoms, singing birds, open windows and growing grass.
As March winds down, there is slight evidence that spring really is here. The daytime temperatures rise to the 40’s and 50’s, and this coming weekend it’s predicted to be in the 60’s! A burst of sun and needed warmth is what we New Hampshire residents crave! Surely the pleasant weather will break up any March madness or craziness that exists from cabin fever.
As the mounds of snow slowly melt, the warmer days of April are just next week. Gradually temperatures will rise, back dirt roads will turn to mucky mud and wood stoves may not have to be stoked as generously. Spring days will replace the madness of winter!
Here’s a cheer to the end of the March Madness! Welcome spring!
Lately I’ve been re-evaluating my state of inner peace and calmness. While randomly reading, I’ve stumbled upon an abundance of material relating to being calm. This is purely coincidental yet fortunate as I’m seeking this. As I work on inner peace, it seems natural to focus on being calm.
Let me tell you candidly that my personality is the farthest from calm you can get! I’ve always been hyper, loud, anxious and nervous. I’ve accepted this for its who I am, but with that, I also desire to change some of my ways! I wish to instill peace and calmness in my life replacing anxiety.
Living in a calm state is a challenge, especially in this hectic world we live in. By turning on the news we see devestating occurrences that build a deep rift in our state of peace, severing any calmness within us. Jumping on your cell phone, answering multiple texts constantly and trying to stay ahead of emails can try someone’s inner peace. But I believe that we have a choice!
I choose NOT to own a cell phone. I know, I know, you may think I’m behind the times and fighting society’s norms. I am doing that…but I’m also choosing calmness! Without a cell phone I am not bound to constant calls and I’m truly happy without it!
Lately I’m working on staying calm as a reaction to others. Sometimes people say hurtful things or lash out at you with negativity. In these situations it’s helpful to keep your emotions in check. Is becoming angry going to help or hinder the situation? My suggestion is to keep calm, walk away, breathe deeply and feel the emotions and then let them go.
Staying calm is any situation can be difficult, especially when you’re exhausted. Make sure you get plenty of sleep at night. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. Drink lots of water. Journal all your feelings that overwhelm you. All these practices are medicinal and will not only make you feel great, but will aid your emotional and mental states.
I truly miss my yard of vibrant yellows, deep purples and red flowers, all that keep me calm and centered in the summertime. The flowing green, cool grass on my feet, the cooing of morning doves and the songs of twittering birds all contribute to my peaceful world. I can’t wait for real spring and summer to relish all of these. Nature keeps me grounded and content.
In the meantime I exercise, go for walks in this small country town, read and write for calmness, and take care of my emotions so that I can thrive as a human, a wife, and a mom.
How do you stay calm in difficult situations? Are there vital things that contribute to your sense of peace?
Here I am on a sunny Sunday launching my summer garden by planting indoors! I got the idea last week after reading a bit about it. First I discovered Bear Creek Heirloom Seeds on Facebook from a friend’s post. She had just received her seed stash and was excited for the growing season! I did some research and decided to go ahead and buy my seeds instead of what I usually do. Every year I frequent Wal- mart and buy organic seeds from Burpee or Better Homes and Garden. But how do I know if they are GMO? Also all that time I was supporting a huge company instead of favoring a family run business. Additionally I would buy my tomato, cucumber, eggplant, all squashes, and basil plants already grown at a local greenhouse. (Here in New Hampshire you need a jump start for successful growing as it’s a short season. ) Now I’ve resolved to support this seed company owned by a little family in Missouri. All their seeds are organic and GMO and are heirloom seeds.
First I jotted down my growing list and decided what seeds I’d start now, giving them just over two months indoors. I’m growing Black Beauty eggplant, crookneck Summer Squash, Zucchini, orange Butternut Squash, Martino’s Roma Tomatoes, Tappy’s Heirloom Tomatoes, Straight Eight cucumbers, Boston Pickling cucumbers, corn and cabbage ( free seeds the company sent me).
Next I figured out what seeds could wait until June. I always plant carrots, green beans, lettuce,spinach, thyme, cilantro, oregano, and beets then. Those will do well in the warm ground and won’t need a boost.
We have a pretty warm room facing South. It’s bright and sunny, an ideal spot for germinating plants. Tom brought in our six foot folding table and placed in front of the window. I bought a growing tray and dome for a greenhouse effect for some of the seeds, a growing light with two LED lightbulbs, Happy Frog Potting Mix and wooden popsicle sticks for marking the types. Luckily we saved the plastic plant trays from last year. They are perfect to start the seeds with little wells in a tray of four.
I opened the soil mix and stirred it around, preparing it for planting. It warmed up easily in the window. Tom made a marker for 1/4 and 1/2 inch holes to plant the seeds so I could easily place it in, tuck a seed or two in and then gently cover with the mix. Each plant has a different planting depth.After prepping each tray I put the veggie marker in so I wouldn’t forget! It would be easy to do…the whole time I was visiting with my daughter in law and sometimes I can’t do two things at a time! Haha!
I tried really watering them well the first day. I bought a little water spritzer for watering the seeds, yet I don’t know how much to soak them from here on out. I sprayed it several times as the mix dried out quickly in the heated area. Today I’ll soak it well and hope that I get in a routine of watering everyday.
I intend on using the growing light on gloomy and dark days and a few hours after the sun goes down. I don’t feel comfortable leaving it on when we go to work as it gets quite hot. It will help keep the babies toasty.
So that was my Sunday project, immersing in the potting mix, plopping seeds in and hopefully giving birth to our garden gems. This hobby probably came from my dad, who has gardened much of his adult life as well as his father, my grandfather who has passed away years ago.
Are you planning or planting your seeds now? Do you have any advice for me, as this is really new to me?
The wind whips steadily as a few snowflakes fall outside on this bright Sunday afternoon. My son Branden is home for college spring break, giving me great inspiration to bake some goodies! Ever since I bought my Kitchen Aid mixer and invested in real Vanilla extract and King Arthur flour, I’ve enjoyed indulging in this baking game.
It brings me great satisfaction and joy to please my family and friends at work with baked goods. Even though everyone is watching what they eat,( including me) we all need a small treat from time to time coupled with our rich cups of coffee. Don’t you think?
The oven heats up as my mixer whirls. Today I chose to create Lunch Lady Brownies, a recipe I have shared before here. Find the recipe at life in the loft house.com. Https://life-in-the-lofthouse.com/It makes rich chocolately brownies with a chocolate frosting to die for. I plan to treat myself and have one today and relish every single bite! Yum!
I’ll share with you what I feel makes a difference in baked goods:
*Good flour, either King Arthur Four or Gold Medal Flour
*Organic Cacao Powder, according to Food Matters.com, raw Cacao is cold pressed Cacao beans, not roasted like Cocoa is made. When Cocoa is roasted, the Cacao beans molecular base changes, depleting it’s nutritional value. I’m using this instead of Cocoa now.
*Fresh farm eggs, thank you neighbors!
While browsing through the food section at Job Lots I found this Cacao powder, something I needed for my daughter- in- law’s avocado chocolate mousse. I also found cheap spices like Cinnamon and Nutmeg there. They have baking ingredients such as Bob’s Red Mills flour and granola. I discovered a local business, Maple Grove Farms of Vermont’s sugar free Vidalia Onion salad dressing as well as Sugar Free Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing. They’re delicious and with low calories! If you have an Ocean State Job Lots check it out! The store houses cool and unique finds!
The afternoon has waned with my brownies all frosted and waiting for tonight’s dessert. It was a perfect activity to engage in on a Sunday, to work in my warm kitchen. Now after having so much fun baking I’m ready to exercise to my dvd for an hour. That way I don’t feel guilty about indulging in one and I can work some of it off!
Okay blogging friends, what have you baked and sampled lately? What are your thoughts on baking ingredients…which are a necessity in a good recipe?
Listen to me…I’m no expert nor do I pretend that I know what the right practices for your lifestyle will be. I’ll tell you what I do know and what I’m 100 % confident about as it pertains to my life. If you want to lose weight and become fit, you need to throw away the word diet from your vocabulary. Once you commit to a diet it solidifies pressure on many aspects of your life such as your eating habits, social eating, your exercise regiment, etc. This kind of deep hold on your life works but what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t last. Eventually it fizzles out!
My weight loss journey unexpectedly was launched through a stressful situation. I don’t wish this on anyone but it catapulted me into a different version of my life. It was a negative that transformed into a life changing positive. ( Thank you God) I was living from one sweet to the next with an overload of non-nutritious foods on the menu. I didn’t exercise nor did I wish to. I was sick for weeks every winter with a run down immune system. Lastly my emotional and mental well being went haywire, thrusting me into rough waters to try to swim out of.
One day I woke up…really emerged and I asked myself, is this the way I want to truly live, to exist and not thrive? That day I set a mini goal on the horizon, that I lose a little weight for my son’s wedding. Then I started eating healthier and lighter. Instead of eating a whole sandwich at lunch, I cut back to a half. I snacked on almonds, pistachios, fruit and veggies and hummus. I walked a few times a week with my neighbor Anita, not only experiencing a great workout but a mental strengthener from our enlightening conversations.
As my journey progressed, I maintained active in my garden and did yard work. I stacked wood with Tom while sucking my abs and bottom in. ( This sounds wacky but I feel it helped) I practiced my old Denise Austin aerobic/ exercise/ weight training dvd a few times a week. I journaled( and still do this) all the meals and snacks I ate so that I would see what I actually shoved in my mouth on a daily basis. It’s a fantastic way to stay accountable to yourself. This has been quite an eye opener as I didn’t realize how much I was eating. Journaling goes hand in hand with meal and snack planning. Jot down what your meals and snacks will be for the week and use this for a generated grocery list. Try a variety of foods so you don’t tire of your choices.
One trick that worked for me was not weighing myself. In the past on my weight loss journey, I would get upset if the scale didn’t favor me so in turn I ate. This time I went for months not weighing myself but gauged my progress through how I felt physically and how my clothes fit me. As they got baggier and bigger I knew that I was getting favorable results. Now I weigh myself once a week at school for The Biggest Loser program, which isn’t a competition but an individual track of your personal weight loss.
As of yet I have lost 33 pounds and feel unbelievable! I feel healthy, fit and in turn that helps me emotionally and mentally. Knock on wood, I haven’t caught the flu or even a cold this winter! Proper sleep at night and a multi- vitamin has its benefits as well.
Here are some of my tips that may help you:
Start small without huge expectations and pressure
Downscale your meals at first, focusing eating a variety of fresh vegetables, a protein every meal and limited carbs like potato and rice
Eat two snacks a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. That would put you at five times a day of eating( three meals and two snacks)
Drink lots of water and stay hydrated
Start exercising a few minutes at a time every day or every other day. I started at three times a week with the dvd and now I practice it four to five days a week, 50 minute workouts every time
Walk with a friend twice a week to start. Make sure you stretch first to avoid painful Charlie horses at night. This happened to me last summer! Ouch!
I skip eating bread all but maybe a piece of toast a week and sometimes a half a sandwich at lunch. It’s been a tough adjustment as I love bread! But I’ve done it and sometimes I treat myself!
Try to not talk too much about your new lifestyle, unless it’s collaboration with a friend who is doing the same thing. Sometimes talking about a diet to everyone puts pressure on yourself.
Try simple body moves while washing the dishes or brushing your teeth. I do a stretch where I try to keep my heels up tall and squeeze my legs, calves, thighs, inner thighs, bottom and abs as I go up and down a few reps. While washing dishes I kick my legs up on each side six reps while sucking my abs and bottom in.
My great snack ideas that have worked for me:
Carrot or celery sticks with hummus ( I love red pepper and the garlic flavors)
apple slices and peanut butter ( sometimes I sprinkle dark chocolate chips and granola pieces on them)
pretzels with hummus
roasted chick peas 1/4 cup a serving, a great source of protein!
Avocado slices and ak- mak sesame crackers
one orange, two clementines, half a banana, one cup berries are all one serving for me
one mini box of raisins
One piece of whole grain toast ( I buy loaves of freshly baked bread from a bakery in Vermont that sells to Shaw’s) with two tablespoons peanut butter, a half of banana or apple slices
An overnight oatmeal cup, 1/2 cup steelcut oats, 1/2 cup milk, one tablespoon peanut butter, place in a small mason or jelly jar, set in fridge overnight. The next morning add apple chunks or banana slices and more milk if needed. You can eat this hot or cold, I enjoy it cold.
1/2 cup Grape Nuts or Kasha Shredded Wheat cereal with fruit
1 cooked egg with spinach and garlic, one or two slices bacon
2 small homemade pancakes with fruit one tablespoon maple syrup
One important aspect of my new eating lifestyle is treating myself! I have always savored chocolate and have adamantly decided that I will still eat it in moderation. Most of the time I treat myself three times a week, mostly on weekends so I can workout to limit the damage. Sometimes I indulge in a cup of Haagen Daas almond milk ice cream or a homemade cookie or two. Other times I have a few squares of dark chocolate or dark chocolate raisins. Don’t feel guilty if you go off track, after all you are human! Maybe a rigorous walk or workout will offset your treat intake.
I will post on this topic again as I try new things in my new life and will communicate my strengths and shortfalls. All I know now is that as a 49 plus woman ( a few months shy of the big 50), I currently feel the best that I have ever felt physically! I wish this success for you as well! I feel women need to support other women during the journey instead of tearing each other down!
Believe in yourself for you are worth changing your routine! It may take a few weeks of trial and error with building confidence, but stick with it until it becomes a positive habit.
Let me know how your eating/ exercise regiment is going. Are you committed to feeling the best you ever have? If so, take a chance and make small changes that could grow into an amazing positive lifestyle!
I made these low fat Chocolate Chip cookies with banana yesterday. All they have is two ripened bananas mashed, 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 tsp. Vanilla. Mix together. Place in tablespoons on cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake at 350 F for ten or twelve minutes. They will be soft and need to be stored in the refrigerator.