2014’s “10” to “TEN.”

2017Dear readers, I put this story up again, because even though it is presently the new year of 2017, these ideas are just as winningly  encouraging today,  as they were 3 years ago. Happy 2017, may your year be felicitous , prosperous and BLESSED!

 

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” ~T.S. Eliot ok

 

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ” ~Oprah Winfrey

  “Every man should be born again on the first day of January.  Start with a fresh page.  Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary,SONY DSC or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.”  ~Henry Ward Beecher

  “Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man.”  ~Quoted in Benjamin Franklin’s almanac.

“Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day.”~Michael Josephson

“We will ofresh start1pen the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”  ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

“Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve.  Middle age is when you’re forced to.” ~Bill Vaughn

 

As I was leisurely enjoying a few moments of repose on this chilly January morning on our front porch, my steaming hot cup of HOLIDAY BLEND coffee in  hand,IMG_0445(I don’t want the holidays to come to an end,) a feeling of pure joy and abundant gratitude filled my  heart as I still can’t fully grasp the miraculous bestowal of a fresh snowfall, dressing the world outside in an unblemished, transcendent white!!   My mind was already brainstorming with thoughts of my new blog…  I have been thinking of the month of January and what it brings to our lives…my first thought…”its  a month, likened to a fresh, white, blank piece of paper… We have the choice to write or draw whatever our hearts desire, upon it”..new begiings.Its a time of NEW Beginnings… Brand new opportunities.lily4 I can’t help but think about the words…”New Years Resolutions.” I smile! There are so many years that have passed by…every year I make at least five resolutions…some of them have succeeded, yet so many have not! WHY? My belief?   I think that we  make our resolutions in a time where we have all been joyously reveling in one of the grandest seasons of our lives…Christmas. We  have  “thoroughly enjoyed” all the Christmas gatherings with festive confections, See’s candy, rich cuisine, an array of freshly baked breads and pies, (with real butter,) 🙂   decadent Prime Rib, an over abundance of flavored popcorn’s and all the extravagant goodies that arrived in festooned tins from our loved ones across the miles.Happy788 Our days have been unusually busy with the season’s buoyant fetes  and we go to bed exhausted every night… so instinctively, we want to ‘eat better,’ exercise more, plan more quality time with ourselves as well as family…Emotionally and physically, we are READY and  motivated with our ‘desires’ for change, and create our lists of the things we dynamically desire to modify as the New year arrives.  This year, will I succeed? Will I even make any resolutions, knowing they will probably be over by Valentines Day? Then I began thinking, (brainstorming with my husband…) how can this year be different? I came up with two parts to this blog… First off, I hope I can share some ideas and suggestions, perhaps solutions to go along side the ‘top ten new years resolutions,’ according to a professional survey, that will bring forth tips on easier ways to succeed with the most popular ‘decrees and mandates,’ but secondly,I would like to  share ‘Ten’ non-resolution ideas that are pleasurable as well as  A LOT OF FUN!!       Resolutions demand change, work, discipline…and are certainly worth the reward they bring, if carried out...smiley9but I also thought it would be stimulating as well as enjoyable, to come up with TEN new and innovative  ideas for things that you can add to your life, that are felicitous and gratifying, don’t require difficult  changes and hard work, (as you will be having so much fun,)  but will definitely enhance your life and bring it bliss, accomplishment as well as fulfillment. Who  knows…perhaps in adding a new thing or two into your year and life, you will, (“without even  trying,”) :),  change your life in a way, that many of your resolutions may “just naturally happen,” being an unexpected  gift on the side  that comes into fruition.  I am going to try it and will be sure to check back next year and tell you if the ‘TOP TEN,’ not the ‘top 10,’ fulfilled what I am aiming for in 2014!

Are you ready for this years “10” to “TEN?”

The First Top “10”  2014 is the new years resolutions (via the Professional survey,) along with a few helpful solutions, (from our brainstorming,)  that will perhaps be of help , enabling you to attain your goals!  Don’t forget to compare them to our TOP “TEN” 🙂

top10 26  #1 (I know you already are aware of what number one is…Its a chart topper every year…) LOSE WEIGHT and GET FIT! The number one answer is always; exercise, change your diet and drink plenty of water! But does that work for you? How about not exercising, instead, pick something you love to do, add music to it and MOVE? I don’t call it exercise, I call it my time of “letting loose.” 🙂   I love to crank up my R&B music, get out my hand weights and dance until my hearts content. (Singing, (which I can’t) top10 11 with my favorite artists, as I dance, burns up even more calories.)   ( I am so thankful that Graham doesn’t mind my sharp and flat notes as he truly loves me unconditionally.) 🙂

Get busy doing things that you love and enjoy! I find that whenever I am “thinking to much about losing weight,” I gain! 🙂

Self acceptance! Everyone has a different body shape and size…don’t compare yourself to your friend who is a size 2 or one of your work out partners who is a marathon runner as well. Set reasonable, realistic goals.

Don’t diet…change your way of eating...top10 28 Find a lifestyle of “cooking” that you really love! A male friend of mine is passionate about the Weight Watchers program…he chose ‘yoga,” as his exercise, (which he also  uses as his meditation-spiritual time,) and lost 40 pounds! To this day, he maintains his ideal weight and still stays on the program as he loves it… Its his way of life, not a diet.

#2 SPEND MORE TIME WITH FRIENDS.

top10 19This undoubtedly will take a monthly planner! 🙂 Become ‘The director of your  own social life.” Start planning parties, luncheons, dinners, a ladies day out, meeting the guys at the pub, ..”If you plan it..They will come!”

Choose spending time with  the ‘friends that add to your life,’ (not take away,)  bring joy, laughter and color.

Surprise a friend by taking them to lunch one day..and unexpected treat for them…(as well as you.)

Call at least one close, long distant friend per week..top10 18.If it is hard to fit that hour in, put them on speaker while you are cooking dinner…take your mobile phone with you as your enjoying your morning walk, or prepare dinner early and use that extra hour to ‘catch up.’

#3. DRINK LESS ALCOHOL, STOP SMOKING.

top10 45Get out your library card or start surfing-the net…read about what long term damage drinking or smoking does to your organs…education is a motivator!

Start weaning yourself off… If you smoke 7 packs a wetop10 49ek… try to switch to ultra lights and smoke 6… On week two, smoke 5 , etc… Same thing with alcohol… start drinking less, rewarding yourself with a delicious new non alcoholic drink.

Explore and understand the “WHYS.” Why do you like to drink or Smoke? What can you exchange them with? If they make you feel pampered,topten 90 or give you a place of repose, relaxation or get rid of stress, find new things to replace them with. What else brings you the same feelings?

Ask God for the grace to stop a bad habit you know isn’t good for you, but can’t seem to “let  go of.”  Been there, done it..actually, HE did it, I can take no credit.

#4 LESS STRESS … ENJOY LIFE MORE!

Its no wonder this is such a desired change for us all. Stress releases a hormone called cortisol that effects our brains physiology, that can generate negative side effects with  our memory. It also interferes with our ability to learn,  weakens our bone density, increases weight gain, raises blood pressure and puts us at risk for heart problems.

 LaughFour main things you can do to release stress are exercise, laugh, think positive and re-evaluate your life, taking the things out of your life that cause you pressure, anxiety and worry.

Become aware , make a list of your ‘stress buttons.’

READ more! When your mind is activelytopten 200occupied, whether with challenging work , a hobby  that you enjoy doing or diving into a great novel, your body will begin reacting with its ‘happy hormones,’ creating less stress , and you will feel rejuvenated.

BREATHE!  CRY! When I was in my early 30’s, and lost my mom to cancer,  I  suffered from  an anxiety disorder. My husband would always know when an “attack” was coming on, and he would tell me, “Susan, you need to breathe…really breathe , from your stomach and allow yourself to cry…don’t hold back…So, I learned to start doing that and IT REALLY WORKED!

Incorporate in your life moresnowman “Make believe snow days.” (See my blog… Truly this antidote works! 🙂

#5 GET OUT OF DEBT

top10 91Create your own style of a tangible piggy bank… a place to begin filling up with all the money you save,  and don’t allow yourself to look inside of it, (or borrow from it,) for one month. Take the money out of your bank and put it into   your savings account and start it all over again the following month.

Pick someone you trust and start being accountable to them with your spending.

consignmentBegin shopping at consignment shops  or thrift stores, instead of the malls…(you will be amazed, not only at the ‘deals you will find’ but the money you will save.)

Limit your meals out… order in something that will last for two nights instead of one.

Plan out a weekly menu  and shop for one week at a time…create your list within your budget. When you are finished writing it, challenge yourself to take off 5 things “you really do not need.”  (Thus, you end up saving money and adding it to paying off unwanted debts.)

 #6 FOCUS  ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD/ YOUR SPIRITUALITY

It is not  an easy task to stop our activities in our day to calm our minds and bodies down to be still and “listen” to that inner voice within,topten 95 journal our emotions, pray, worship or read our bibles…so, again, PLAN a time  and goal that is realistic for your life and schedule…start with 30 minutes every other day, and increase that time as you feel you can…

Join a church that you really enjoy going to…not one that is an effort every Sunday.

Find God in everyday life… nature, an unexpected gift, a call from an old friend that warms your heart, read  a book or two by someone that you really respect and admire…  Perhaps a devotional book, autobiography, or an inspiring book about miracles…(always encouraging.) Two books I found uplifting and inspirational, “Heaven is for real,” and “To Heaven and back.” (Both true stories.)

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#7 GET OFF CAFFEINE

Again… I believe its all about exchange… change your “drink of choice” to delicious decaf coffees and teas, fruit smoothies,top10 61 ginger ale or flavored sparkling waters.

ENJOY the effects of less caffeine in your body…Your heart is not racing so fast anymore, your actually sleeping more hours,(no more  late nights up while your family is sleeping,) and revel in the feelings of being more relaxed and at peace. (Don’t forget  their are delicious fresh roasted decaffeinated coffee beans for that morning cup of Joe!) 🙂

If you ‘have to have a little bit of caffeine,’ perhaps a piece of chocolate, or a Pepsi…have it first thing in the morning as a treat…and fast caffeine the rest of your day! Feeling treated helps us feel like we are not deprived.

top10 16Occupy your mind with something rewarding and new! Distract yourself from your URGE! Every time you top10 15have the over powering desire to take in some caffeine, get out your ear phones and Cd player and put on an audio book from your favorite author… Pick a  place that you love, in front of the fire, atop your pillowy bed, a porch swing, and “engage” yourself in a story…take your mind to a new land…top10 65 If the urge won’t go away, make yourself a pot of delicious, fresh bean, decaf coffee in your favorite flavor.

 

#8 GET  ORGANIZED

top10 23You are the only one that can change this fate…I highly suggest creating or buying a monthly, daily and weekly organizer. You will discover a  new freedom as you begin capturing all your thoughts and “To Do Lists” on paper. It helps me tremendously every day.

Clean your house… A cleantop10 115 house, free of clutter, creates calmness and you will find your thoughts are free and you can think about a lot  more things…(chaos creates forgetfulness, thus disorganization and stress.)

Clean out your closets, hutches, desk drawers and dresser…I don’t know about you, but when all my drawers are organized,top10 112 my day goes by much smoother, I am more relaxed and my  tasks seem easy and light instead of burdensome.

 

 

#9 TRAVEL  MORE, WORK LESS

Baby Steps. Begin with a day trip...Perhaps one Saturday, instead of working on your computer, take a drive to the wine country, a renowned museum ,eatery a favorite eatery in the country, go to Disneyland, San Diego Zoo or to your favorite seaport village,  treating yourself to a scrumptious seafood lunch!

 

Your next Trip, a weekend get away…a bed and breakfast in Maine, a weekend in Las Vegas, coronadoThe Coronado Hotel in San Diego or  rent a beach house, enjoying the  many gifts  of a maritime weekend.

 

Lastly…plan in  advance, a week  long trip , yes a real yearly vacation where you need a passport to enter into it’s chimerical borders. cabo Paris? Switzerland? Italy? Cabo San Lucas ?

 

 

 

#10 LIVE IN THE MOMENT

Begin your day fresh, (thinking only about that day.) Go about yourtop10 98 routines, job and engagements,  concentrating on the task at hand and nothing else. I have alwaysprime-rib loved the challenging thought, “What would you do  for the day if  this was the last day of your life?” Sometimes I think about that and do somethings I normally would not do…call a friend or sibling I have not talked to in months, watch my favorite movie,west4 (that I  have seen 100 times already,) 🙂 …get fresh ingredients from the grocer and make  my husbands and my favorite meal, tell Kit and Grantham I love them 10 times that day… (They wonder what I am up to, but it feels good to say it and have the assurance that they know my hearts appreciation for them in my life.)

Read the book ‘The Precious Present’ by Spencer Johnson…it will be a ” delightful and eyeopening bestowal for your soul,” helping you to live within each minute you are given in a day.

Choose not to live in regret for the past or worry over the futureno regrets 1no regrets Reward yourself when you see a major change in your way of thinking and you are no longer allowing negative thoughts to steal your day. (A day that you can never have back.) If you are angry…ask yourself, is it worth losing the joy you are trading it in for ?

 

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN…

OKAY…Now lets look at an entirely different way tocoin bring  fulfilling changes to your life in this new year of  2014  with my ‘TOP TEN,’ pleasurable add-on ideas that are actually creative and FUN!

#1 Add one new recipe a week to your repertoire.

Many concur that being a good cook is all in your genetic makeup. I disagree… Practice makes perfect. (It also helps if you have  a passion for cooking as well as the extra time to prepare and CREATE.)  For our household, Kit and I began researching on the internet as well as looking through my relishable family cookbooks to find and create one new recipe each week.topten 1 I engage in this activity more often than Kit as he works longer hours. Our meal time has changed to a time of pampering, delicious new dishes and a satisfying event… (We actually hate for the dinner hour to come to an end.)  Kit is gourmet, I am more of a comfort food cook! A great combination!  Your newly acquired recipe can be for any meal you choose, a Sunday brunch, an early supper or a romantic, (after the kids go to bed) dinner or a luscious sublime dessert. Experiment and have FUN! All of these fabulous cuisines are a medley of both Gourmet and down home comfort food! 🙂PD 1 PD 2PD PD5PD4

 

#2 Choose one new hobby for the year that is just for YOU…

A wise person once told me that in our relationships with others, we are able to give so much more when we are strengthened in our own individualism…when we find something to do that we love and are good at it, it brings about depth, self confidence and plenty of things to share and converse with others… This is one of my favorite additions each year as I enjoy so many hobbies…

What do you absolutely love to do?

Perhaps designing and making creative crafts from the heart, write blogs, short stories or your own kaleidoscopic autobiography.

Isaac Bailey Photographytopten 19

Take a dancing class, meet the guys, (or girls) for a neighborhood game of Basketball? topten 15topten 8

Visit your library often and load up on audio books, CD’s, bestselling novels or perhaps  taking up a new sport, a cooking class, an hour of yoga or traveling abroad. topten 11topten 7

Painting ceramic plates or mugs! I have a friend who is quite the artist at this craft and her gifts to us have been so elegantly beautiful! What a great new hobby to invest in as well as creating many new welcomed  bestowals for your home, friends or family.

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How about joining a tennis league for men or women? (Enjoy yourself while giving your heart a little TLC.)  My husbands new hobby last year was learning how to brew his own beer. He and his friend, (teacher,) came up with some fascinating and unique flavors!

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Have you ever thought about starting up Ham Radio? Kits dad was a natural at it and loved communicating with people all over the world, from his snazzy ‘communication set up’ in his living room.

ham radios 1ham radio

 

I have always had a passion for Faux painting…. It truly is like magic, transforming an ordinary room into a stunning, classy and memorable work of art! A wondrous hobby that will not only bless you but all those who enter your home! ham radios 19ham radio 16ham radio 12

Learning to create stained glass designs for lamp shades, wall hangings, storm doors or windows would be a very rewarding new hobby as well as a lot of fun. How about becoming an expertise at monogramming! (My sister had this done professionally for me this Christmas…absolutely stunning! )

laugh 1IMG_0550

 

#3 Pursue your “Hidden talent,” and add it’s glorious bestowal to your life.

Everyone is born with gifts and talents. (We usually have them ‘pointed out’ to us in elementary school by one of our teachers, our friends or family members… As we grow older, we either “use that skill” and become greater at it, or we place it away in a hidden place and avoid partaking in its challenging, yet felicific joy.  Why do you think that is? For me, it was because  I never felt I did it “well enough.” Fear crept in as I looked at others with the same gift and watched them flourish and receive praise. I then compared myself to them and came to the conclusion that I could never be as good. Criticism creates fear and fear stifles our creativity as well as motivation. My challenge and add on for you is to go back to that one gift you know is there and begin exercising it , until you become and expertise…  (And do not compare yourself to others.) I am sure there is more than one gift you’ve placed on the back burner in your life… IMG_0345 One fear I did conquer, pursued and now enjoy with all my heart is decorating… My early days were “hit and miss” but I worked so hard at , bringing forth my God given gift, then one day all the fear left and I began creating with abandon. Its not everyone’s ‘cup of tea,’ but its my developed signature style. I admire excelled dancers, musicians and singers who are enjoying success in their senior years as yes, they allowed their talent to be dormant for a season, but they went after their gifts and abilities in the latter part of their life and are so good at it!  How great and rewarding is that?

Deep within, have you always had a passion for dancing and were told you were a natural?  How about singing? (My husband was “quite the singer” when he was younger.) (Still is, but  now he only sings to us! 🙂 ) topten 29topten 28

 

We all hated piano lessons as a child, but now that we are older, what a beautiful gift to behold…music changes everything! How about your dream of becoming an inspiring painter?

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Have you always wanted to make decorative topiary trees or seasonal wreaths for your cozy haven? Create personalized gifts for others, gracing your friends and family with style and elegance for their homes?  Do you absolutely love to entertain? (Its never to late to keep learning and stretching that creative muscle until your 100% satisfied with your creations.)

boyd8family3

 

Are you a seafaring pirate deep within, wanting to be the master of your own ship? Traveling  the seas in your ” boat of choice,”  is definitely worth the wait and skills you need to be a “top notch” sailor. 🙂 How about your hidden talent of the classic sport of golf?

thanksgiving510topten 13

 

#4 Start a new collection in your life, adding beauty, excitement and fun.

Collections shout out to our friends and family a part of who we are, what we love…a part of our personality that we may not show on the surface. Whenever I add to one of my collections, it is pure joy and excitement. Whenever a friend, my husband or a sibling adds to my collection, it touches me deeply, as they are taking special thought in choosing something I really love.  You can never have to many collections! Kit has begun to amass baronial and colorful nautical decor, Lighthouse photos, heartwarming poems and vignettes about one of life’s greatest gifts, “dogs,”  hunting guns and  fishing paraphernalia. It reveals parts of his heart that carry many special memories of his youth. My new collection this year is birds… I can remember when I was a small child, (as well as to this present day,)  how God has used birds of all kinds to teach me important nuggets of truth and speak to me of His faithfulness and love. On the east coast it has been bluejays, redbirds, (cardinals,)  finches and our delightful snow geese.  Last year , my new collections were colorful animated Chefs and stoic Roosters for my kitchen and dining room.

 

I adore my new dulcet and charming blue birds,  (the start of my collection 2014,)  a special gift  from my husband this Christmas! I also feel very blessed that one of Kits collections is also a treat for me…I love lighthouses with their enchanting beauty and summoning mystery! IMG_0491two lights

 

Frames make a wondrous collection, coming in all designs, shapes, motifs, colors and sizes! How about seasonal throws? (I have been collecting throws for over 20 years and they are great for a refreshing makeover when the house needs a “little pick me up.” (as well as serving as a warm blanket to cuddle up with in the winter, as we’re enjoying our nail-biting, suspenseful movies.)

mens stuff 30mens stuff 28

 

Begin a collection of the prestigious duo of “blue and white.” Your choices are wide open to not only dishes, tea cups and saucers, teapots, vases, but also pillows, linens, photo frames, throws and quilts.These vintage red crystal goblets go way back to my childhood as they were one of my moms collections! Talk about Nostalgia. 🙂 mens stuff 25mens stuff 24

 

One of my friends is an avid collector of sea shells… I love to visit her Maritime home, as there is always a new shell in her bethnic display…  Shells are so unique and intricate in their array of colors and shapes, always joyfully reminding us of the beach, its beautiful sandy shores and mysterious sea life.   How about beginning a collection of antique signs from old country stores hidden in the most enchanting places?mens stuff 21mens stuff 20

 

Motley, bright vintage pillows, Batten-burg and old English lace napkins, linens and tablecloths, antique plates as well as patchwork quilts…They are all so captivating, I would not know how to decide which collection to begin? 🙂 mens stuff 17mens stuff 15

 

When my older brother was involved in doing litigation work for Lamborghini, his home was filled with beautiful and august model cars…Every room gifting his guests with “eye candy” and wonder. What a baronial collection to have… not only did it enhance the style and allurement of his home, but I am sure it triggered many a happy memory of all the people he worked with. My husband collects fishing paraphernalia… Each treasured piece he adds, brings back a new memory of his glory days , fishing with  his father on beautiful placid lakes, sharing stories as well as their hopes and dreams, over a brown bag lunch on a sunny warm day.

jimbo carmens stuff 4

 

How about  baseball cards or historical , renowned sports memorabilia?  For many men, as they display their prized collections, they receive the same warm, cozy feeling others may feel when they purchase a new couch or leather chair for their office. Our collections are often times our decor as well…Decorative items are very personal, as it brings our rooms alive with what matters most in our lives..the things we love that make us happy.

mens stuff 2mens stuf

 

A collection of hatboxes is not only beautiful, but they are quite convenient for holding many things…letters, magazine clippings, old photos, bills, recipes, scarves, etc… How about getting involved in some family genealogy and collecting historic items that have been within your family lineage for many generations?

topten 201mens stuff 1

 

Two of my favorite collections of all time…coffee table display cookbooks, (great conversation pieces as well as a resplendent ‘dictionary’ for  scrumptious recipes,) and Teddy Bears in all shapes and sizes… Whether we acquire them brand new, or we ‘rescue them from the storms,’ (in their vintage appeal,) they warm our hearts and bring a smile to our faces… These are two collections I highly recommend! topten 2abear1

#5 Add one hour, every few days of some form of mediation and spiritual nourishment  to your life.

Whenever I spend time writing in my journal, praying, worshiping and praising God for His wonderful love and grace in our lives, I feel 100% rejuvenated, full of energy and an over abundance of peace… I believe we are made up of many components…our body, mind, will and emotions, (our soul,) and our spirit…when we feed or tend to that area of our lives… a new part of us is awakened…there is new strength, power within and a serene  contentment. I don’t know what I’d do without that time in my life…Even if some days, it is only 15 minutes long… 🙂

Praying and  mediating on the beach while taking an early morning or late afternoon walk, is ideal for a quiet and serene get away!  The peaceful sounds of the oceans breezes, gulls cooing and waves  calmly rolling into shore,  is a perfect place to gather your thoughts!   top10 2

There is nothing like praising God! As we worship, our hearts fill with a beautiful gladness,  changing our perspectives. topten 101

Journaling is an excellent way to capture heart felt emotions and feelings that you can meditate upon at a later time…I think journaling is a wonderful way of  self expression and  though it takes stillness, time and true reflection, it is worth every bit of its challenge. journal 1

It is a true honor to be able to worship our maker! topten 100

Have you heard the sayings; “Prayer changes everything?” Or “Things go better with prayer?” I have found both to be genuinely true….and I am so thankful  for this spectacular gift we have been given.. prayer-conversations-with-god.

 

#6. Give yourself one hour of pure bliss a day…(Another one of my favorites.)

You know how you feel when the doorbell rings and there is a uniformed guy standing there with a huge bouquet of flowers? Or the UPS truck parks outside, (making your dog go crazy) and he leaves and unexpected box on your porch? For Christmas this year, two of my brothers in California, sent kit and I See’s candy…our very favorite chocolate in the world. Oh the joy, (and pounds) just joshing, their gifts brought… Well, I have found that by doing something that is “pure pleasure”  once a day…it is a replica of the feeling of pure joy we received from  the gifts they sent, only I do it for myself… In treating and pampering yourself, you create a “better YOU” to give to others… topten 150For Kit,  one of his his hours of bliss is his time at the gym with all of his work out buddies…its social, fun and he benefits greatly from it. It is his “Me time” and when he does not get that hour in, he feels a great void and difference in his day. For me, one of mine  is lighting candles, sitting on our  cozy couch with its ample pillows, reading my new Victoria magazine along with a piping, hot cup of decaf mocha java coffee with Pumpkin spice creamer, a piece of chocolate, (great chocolate,) and writing down new ideas for decorating our house for the upcoming season, then taking a hot bath top 10 12with luxurious lavender bubbles, Caswell and Massey Verbena soap, and talking to God…( I have the best conversations with Him in the tub…I think it is because I am finally still, my thoughts quieted, and I am ready to listen. ) 🙂

What  is your hour of bliss for just one day?

 

One pure hour of uninterrupted SEWING? Painting birdhouses with bright cheery colors, bringing new textures and life to your home?

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An hour of desk time to read, write, journal, plan, draw, think, read…that sounds like heaven! Surfing the net? My husband would definitely like and hour of this a day! topten 209topten 177

Writing real, authentic, (not computerized or typed,) letters to a friend or family member by a warm cozy fire! Definitely tempting to add to my list! mens stuff 29

 

Another hour of bliss for me….decorating…doesn’t matter if its a ‘glue gun fixer upper’ around the house for 60 minutes, changing our sheets on the bed to new colors and patterns, bringing about a new look or creating a beautiful garland for  a stairwell, adding flare, elegance and romance to our home. An hour of decorating is like going to a spa.

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OKAY, this choice of bliss, may have to go to overtime…watching your favorite movie…no guilt and no interruptions… ( a little popcorn on the side and your favorite candy.) Moderation is everything! 🙂 topten 178

 

Maybe your hour of bliss is sharing that 60 minutes with your mate…meeting for a glass of wine and some savory appetizers, or going for a massage together… Couple on date at restauranttopten 140

 

Sneaking away with  the guys, (or girls,) for a game of soccer….calling your best girlfriend to meet you on main street for lunch and and hour of blithesome shopping, catching that early morning hour of swimming before your day begins…(it makes the entire day different,) and lastly, hanging out at your favorite coffee bar with all your friends.  🙂 Whatever “floats your boat,” and rejuvenates you, add it each day for an hour or every other day if your life is exceedingly busy. Remember , it will take planning and time, but its worth it. (YOU ARE WORTH IT.) soccersoccer 3Daniel Bell (AUS) action reflections Swimming 2000 Sydney PGsoccer 1

 

#7 Volunteer a portion of your extra  time to a cause your heart is passionate about.

You have heard “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (And its true.) 🙂 Giving our time, our talents, our very selves, is more rewarding than we can imagine.Happy4 Giving, gets us out of our self…our problems, our ‘funk’ as they say, and brings rejuvenation, a new outlook and an overflow of  joy!

Whether a mentor to a young child, helping the elderly or volunteering your time in the pediatrics ward at your local hospital, the smiles you will see on the faces of those you are giving your skills and talents to, are worth more than money can buy.

How about volunteering at your vets office, a local pet store or kennel? (If you are a rescuer of animals, maybe help out at a soup kitchen.) 🙂 (I would be to tempted to bring all those adorable animals home.) 🙂

Oh for the love of a child! How could one not feel 100% better in their outlook on life when spending time with such purity and angelic love? Children are so blessed and  touched by being read to, sung to or just a listening ear and a little TLC as  they are healing.

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OK, this  is why I can’t volunteer at our vets office  or local  kennels…Kit would be “fit to be tied ,” if he walked through the door, (Graham too, the only child syndrome,)  and I had brought these little guys who need a warm home and some love to our house! But there are  those of you who are much more disciplined and would benefit greatly from giving your extra time helping with these adorable animals. topten 49

 

People everywhere today need volunteers…thrift stores, libraries, the elderly, churches, ….how about within your neighborhood or family…perhaps offer to have the next holiday meal at your home this year… topten 45

 

Volunteer your talent! If you have a church event coming up or a friend who is hosting a luncheon, offer to create the party favors or table-scape decor for them… Not only will it bless their socks off but your heart will feel so fulfilled inside that you were able to bring joy  and beauty to so many! topten 60

 

Volunteer to mow your neighbors lawn…for free. They may fall over and faint, but hey, what a great act of love and service! topten 59

 

How about going grocery shopping for an elderly person you know… It will feel like Christmas day for them…Your binging them a gift they can no longer do for themselves. topten 50

 

Without telling your friend, sibling, mom or dad, wash and wax their car for them… What a wonderful gift , especially for someone who is ill or has a schedule at work that is ‘beyond’ over-time.) top10 119

 

Volunteer your time as a mentor to a young child or perhaps a young adult in high school…many children, who do not have both parents at home, receive so much love , strength and blessings from someone who will take on that missing part, mentoring them in the many needed skills of life. FD-50

 

#8 Live well, laugh often and love much! I love this idea!

I have a beautiful little pillow on my  front porch chair that has this saying on it…It is a great reminder for me everyday! I think in this TOP TEN, ‘Live well’ and ‘Love Much’ are covered, but I love the encouragement to LAUGH OFTEN! What makes you laugh? Smile? Brings you an abundance of joy welling up within your soul until you break out into a chuckle?  It is no fable that laughter is medicine for the soul, but it is also one of the best antidotes for your body and overall health!

topten 125Choose to be around the people in your life that make you laugh! (I am eminently blessed to have exceedingly comedic brothers and my husband makes me laugh daily! )

Learn to laugh at YOURSELF…It’s freeing!

Kit and I love to play pranks on each other, (good pranks…) and always, when we reminisce over our years of mischievous antics or practical jokes, we laugh all over again.

When Kit and I play hide and seek with Graham, we have laughed so hard, (the kind of laughter that makes your jaws ache.) All I have to say to Graham is “Do you want to play hide and seek?”graham100 I have Kit keep him in a room until I am hiding and am ready, then Ibegin calling Grahams name. I always hide in a place that I can watch and see his efforts and captivating expressions as he “tries so vigorously” to find me. I totally give my hiding  place away as I can no longer contain my laughter…(he is so unbelievably cute!)  He wags his tale, kisses me 10 times and goes back to kit as He wants me to hide all over again. It’s  pure joy for all three of us. 🙂

A few more guarantees for a dose of hearty laughter…rent a few renowned, known to make you laugh til you cry, comedy movies, spend time with a baby or a toddler for the afternoon… Both will turn your world upside down and you will be laughing and smiling so much, you’ll forget what you were stressing out about! 🙂

Plan an evening at a comedy club.. or watch your favorite comedian on TV.

 

Just looking at these gentle giants makes me smile... I challenge you to spend some time playing hide and seek or any game  that your dog loves… see if it doesn’t bring you an abundance of joy and laughter. 🙂

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Offer to babysit, take your niece, nephew or a friends baby for the afternoon…get lost in their world and allow yourself to feel their joy and laughter over the simplest of things.  I truly believe that babies are God’s gift of laughter to all of us adults… nicolesmiley7

 

The same is true of the adorable toddler stage…When I was going through a rough time, right out of high school, an 18 month old little girl came into my world and changed life as I knew it.  As we became friends, my days were filled with so much love, adventure , fun and pure laughter. Oh to be a child again! Try it, you may really like it! 🙂

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No kidding, Kit and I laughed so hard at Jimmy Fallon’s and Justin Timberlake’s take on the history of rap… I saved it on our DVR and every time we need to really “belly laugh,” I put it on…Same thing with Wayne Brady or any comedian you thoroughly enjoy…they will come up with words, ideas and phrases that will make you laugh ’til you cry’…oh how we need comedy and laughter in our lives! justinbridesmaid

Two guaranteed movies that we agree will make you “really” laugh…Bridesmaids and Dan in real life. Look for the bride attendants scene after a lunch they all attend with the bride,  and the dancing  bar scene in Dan in real life with Ruthy “Pig face”… Then tell me you did not laugh heartily. 🙂

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I find when I am working at home and The Ellen show comes on, I am laughing at something! She comes up with the most original pranks and jokes,(has some fabulous guests as well…) If you have never played a practical joke on someone safe, (like a spouse, good friend or sibling,) you have missed out on a lot of laughter… You gotta try it this year! (Just once, at least.)

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#9 Express your emotions and heartfelt sentiments on a daily basis. (OK, this is, I think, my most favorite of all….)

I will never forget when I heard the shocking news that Paul Walker, (the race car driver and star of Fast and Furious) died suddenly in a car accident. When they interviewed his father on TV, his eyes welled up with tears as he spoke the word,s “There was never a day that we did not say the words to each other “I love you.” “I love you 3  Loosing a loved one is one of the hardest things we ever face in life...loosing someone unexpectedly is even harder. Just knowing and having the assurance that those most cherished in your life, TRULY KNOW how much you care for them and love them, makes all the difference in the world.

We all express our love in different ways…Here are a few demonstrative ideas to proclaim or declare your sentiments.

Always say “I love you” when ending a phone call with your friends and family.     Tell your spouse or  mate that you love them everyday.     Express love to your precious cargo daily, whether its a treat, hug, praise or a massage, (especially if they are getting up there in age.)     HALLMARK CARDS! They create and write the words perfectly  that are so hard for us to say!     If your gifted with words…write a tribute, a poem or a letter to someone you know who has changed your life and are always there for you, no matter what!     A REAL HUG GOES A LONG WAY!     Put a love note in your child’s lunchbox, or place a post it note telling them how proud you are of them, wrapped up in their lunch money!     For a GREAT and faithful neighbor, surprise them with a homemade spinach-bacon quiche or a warm plate of Toll house cookies, just to say “Thanks.”     Take your brother, sister, best friend, husband, child or parent out to lunch “just because” and say its your treat.       If you are not a person who likes to express with words how you feel, find a  creative way to SHOW those in your life just how much you love them and what your world would be like, if they were not there. (Maybe a bouquet of flowers, balloons and a singing telegram for no reason, buying them their favorite trilogy of movies, or a series of books, create an album of treasured photos of the memories you two have shared together over the years or give them a gift certificate to get a massage. )

Remind your little one often, of how very special they are and how much you love them. Be creative! note

I will never forget the day My husband and I moved from California…(the one place in all the world that held all of my childhood memories, nostalgic teenage years, every family member and my best friends in life.)  It was getting time for us to go and my younger brother Patrick and I waited forever to say Goodbye as it was so painfully hard…we were best buds as well as siblings!  We did not have to say any words…our hug, tears and embrace said EVERYTHING! Hugs go a long way! Pat and I

 

Find creative ways to say “I love you.” i love you

 

When the words and sentiments are hard to say, you can always trust Hallmark! I love you 4

 

Nothing says ‘lovin,’ like something scrumptious from your oven! 🙂 I love you 2I love you 1

 

Tell your boyfriend, girlfriend, mate, fiance, spouse and children that you love them, every morning and every night! myhunk

 

Say “I love you,”  with the aid of the Professionals… A singing telegram with balloons, flowers or a box of their favorite confections! singing T 50 singing T 1singing T 2

 

Say I love you by surprising a dear friend with a relaxing, delightful lunch at their favorite Bistro or a quaint, countryside  eatery. two

 

Sing a love song to your precious cargo…praise them with honoring, loving words, their favorite treat and lots of hugs! (Everyday!) punk2

 

#10  Lastly Learn something new this year in your life to broaden  and educate your mind, and enhance your social skills at the same time.

Do something innovative and completely different that you’ve never done before… topten 109You may feel a little awkward at first…but its like exercising a new muscle of the body…at first it is sore, then it is toned and profits your body with new strength…thus, a new skill will do the same. I still have not decided this years new venture…last year it was getting a camera and pretending I was a photographer for a day, looking for that perfect KODAK MOMENT! (Believe me, I deleted many a photo, but hey, some came out pretty good.)  Kits was learning and researching the world of stockbroking. (Wow, that is an intricate and complicated new skill to learn.) 🙂 He loved it and it  paid off…) (No pun intended.) 🙂

Some thoughts? How about becoming a Beekeeper? Taking a Hip Hop dance class?  Join a bowling league…. learn how to faux paint, pastamake homemade pasta, play an instrument, become your households ‘in home’ researcher…utilizing your local library and  the internet, (I think I just found mine for 2014.) 🙂 Take an elegant cake baking class, (learning how to create exquisite cakes that people only dream of,) learn how to create stain glass paintings, take a motorcycle course, get a bike and enjoy a new view of this beautiful world! Learn how to create your own website to share with  the world whats on your heart, learn a new language, join a Yoga class, try stenciling your bedroom wall, pick up a needlepoint kit and create a wall hanging or pillow with your creative skills  or knit a baby blanket for the new arrival within your family.   There are so many NEW adventures to take on to broaden our worlds, keeping our mind and bodies active… (two wondrous gifts that benefit our lives fabulously!)

I have never tried Calligraphy but I think it would be a wonderful class to take to enhance ones penmanship… How fun would it be, to be able to make your own invitations and stationary? mens stuff 18

 

There are some great “HOW TO,”  magazines and books on the market as well as classes, to learn how to decorate your home for the holidays! topten 205

 

How fun would it be to spend your summer days with children of all ages at the YMCA summer day camp program?  You will come through it with a new degree in Children’s behavior! (Make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen and keep a few Tylenol in your pocket.) 🙂 topten 126

 

Taking a class learning sign language…what a great new skill to be able to communicate with those who can’t hear… (Maybe Kit and I should take that course for when we grow old together in our autumn years.) 🙂 topten 108

 

Learn how to be your own photographer… topten 105

 

Blogging is a wondrous way to communicate your passions and heartfelt emotions on life! topten 102

 

Lately, I have been hearing more and more people say they want to train and run in a marathon before they ‘meet their maker’ 🙂  What a wonderful achievement. topten 10

 

OK, now we’re talking….dancing, letting loose… great exercise and is undoubtedly  an ideal place to meet new people and have a lot of fun. Take a dance class!Fitness dance

 

A “piece of cake?” I don’t think so. Learning the art of diving would be a wonderful new skill to embody…Just think of how many healthy hormones this sport releases to fight your bodies stress… top10 96

 

Have you ever had the desire to really learn about fine wines, take trips to renowned wineries and become knowledgeable on this subject? I know people who have done this and it fascinates me, as they know more about a bottle of wine than I had ever-imagined one could know or learn.  top10 79

 

Take your local bus or the metro line into the city a few times, stay the entire day and learn what it is like to live within a bustling city… Quite different than small town living for sure! top10 70

Learn Astronomy and become a star gazer… Invest in a telescope and learn all about this fascinating art of observing the sky. Keep studying and learning  further about all our planets,  (the universes stellar metropolises.) 🙂

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Have you always had a secret desire or dream to become a celebrity? How about taking a voice over class or an acting class? (You will be sure to meet an abundance of people, have lots of fun and it makes for a wonderful new hobby.)

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Make this the year you learn how to set boundaries in your relationships….Very hard in the beginning, but OH SO WORTH IT…It is wonderfully freeing and decreases  your bodies stress! Two gifts in one!   🙂 Another new behavior skill to learn, saying NO! So easy, yet so difficult… but again, fabulously rewarding when you get it down! 🙂 topten 31topten 30

 

Just being honest…this new skill is a little bit to much on the daring side for me, but we knew a bee keeper in South Carolina and he absolutely loved it! If you are a Thrill-seeker, perhaps this would be the perfect “new Skill” for you to learn in 2014! (If you do, write in and tell us about it! )  🙂 topten 103

 

Are these cakes par-excellent, five star or what?  What a wonderful, creative art to bless so many with.  (A blessing to both the eyes and palate.) 🙂 (I will add this to my list of “new skills” to learn!) 🙂

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I don’t know about you , but I feel awesomely motivated and have great hopes for this new year of 2014.   I look forward to trying a few of these notions and making this year more colorful, creative as well as a fulfilling. I  hope that you have found one or two ideas  you like and will find new joy, strengths and happiness…  Its never to late to try new things… even if its within your safe haven and only you see the changes and experience the smiles it brings to your face and heart!

 

I wish each and everyone of you  AN EXCEPTIONALLY HAPPY NEW YEAR, WITH 2014 BRINGING YOU MANY BLESSINGS, SMILES AND FULFILLMENT!

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PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.

The felicity of Winters Hush

 

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter… In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. ~John Burroughs

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Its hard to believe that the last day of autumns glory has departed and the start of a new season has begun. Winter always arrives in a magnificent splendor as it is introduced to us in the height of Christmas.  What season can  top that prelude?  It is a season that embodies an abundance of new beginnings, peaceful times of reflection, warm, cozy fires in our hearths, as the wind howls in an harmonic melody accompanied by the  pristine white snow as it wondrously falls outside our  double-paned windows.IMG_0437 Suddenly, we are enriched with an entirely new ambiance surrounding our days…the December equinox enchanting  birds have arrived, bringing a luminescent array of rich  colors and new songs. Our hearts bounce with excitement when we have days where we actually feel the warmth of the sun as it is making its way through the overcast skies, with its welcomed accolade and bright , gleeful radiance. Our neighborhoods are filled with  nostalgic aromas of fresh firewood kindling , and  we begin to get use to natures new attire of white and are surprised when we are no longer longing for the ” the lush green” like we did in the beginning.  Every season has its brilliance… When I  think of all the cliches of this season,  “I leave my home in the winter time and take up residency in Florida for three months,” “Winter is a depressing season” or ” Winter makes me lazy and all  I want to do is be a couch potato,”) I find myself feeling just the opposite.   True, this season does not gift us with springs vivid and extraordinary, kaleidoscopic  blooms, summer’s warmth and the sandy beaches splendor, and the magical three months of fall with its vibrant reds and golds, but, it undoubtedly exemplifies  a  rare beauty all of its own... nightskiesBrighter night skies with the air eminently colder and refreshingly crisp. The stars shine lambently  and the moon  graces us with its tranquil radiance… the trees, now stark and bare, silhouetted against a  galvanic sunrise or  sublime and flawless sunset, causes our hearts to skip a beat  with its stellar beauty. There is nothing like the first fallen snow, blanketing all of nature in an opalescent, fluffy white ….everything looks and feels pure, fresh and clean. As the sun glistens upon the snow banks, and we are snugly wrapped up in a million layers of wintry clothes, thick gloves and scarves covering our faces from the sting of the bitter cold, we feel like  little kids again as we trample through the dense yet ethereal, frozen white snow, hearing our boots crunch with each step..nightskies1if we fall over , no worries…we feel as if we are wrapped up in gigantic pillows…after making a snow angel or two, (we giddily get back up into a standing position and keep going.) We know its time to come in when we can’t complete our words any longer as our mouths are frozen … we quickly barrel back to our welcomed warm homes, and within five minutes, we are down to one layer,  happily sitting on the brick hearth, soothed by the sounds of crackling wood and the warmth of the flames upon our backs…we are in heaven! nightskies2We drink an abundance of coffee, hot cider or steaming cocoa, as we warm our bodies and feel our  internal temperature gauge slowly rising to “normal.” 🙂    Now its time to enjoy the beauty of winter from the inside of our homes…we smile as we KNOW the snow  will be there in the morning.

 

Do you ever wonder why people are drawn to  the seasons they are? Could it be that it truly is within our genetic makeup? In a way, I liken it to our preference of cuisine… most people either “really love”  spicy, Mexican or Asian food or they prefer  lightly seasoned cuisine, some even bland.   Why am I a “salty” person where as my husband adores sweets… I have two close  friends that are in  many ways, very much  alike, yet one  adores autumn and winter, where the other, dislikes the chillier seasons so immensely , she can hardly wait for springtime to arrive. The lover of spring is an April baby, where the other entered this world in the Fall…Is our ‘birth month’  one of the reasons we are drawn to one season more than another?  Grantham is definitely a lover of Winter with his four layer fur coat accompanied by his  curiosity and excitement with the ‘white-icy-slush.’ 🙂 Our black lab Patch, preferred being inside on his cozy bed when winter arrived in Virginia,  dauntlessly avoiding every attempt we made to get him to go  outside and play in the snow.  As I have grown older, I have come to love and appreciate all 4 seasons, winter and fall more so, but there is such a beautiful bestowal with each one. For myself, winter is a time that evokes a myriad of  creative juices to begin flowing.…  Living on the east coast, and in  many countries with polar temperatures,  we can’t do all the things we are use to doing when the weather is gorgeous, warm and the sun  brightly shines amidst our green,  verdant lawns…alabaster10But,this wondrous, mysterious season of winter has so much to offer with its many diverse gifts. In this blog, I hope to share with you  some imaginative and inspiring  ideas, (21 to be exact, 🙂 ) to bring forth an abundance of  joy, fun and laughter to your winter months, (perhaps even change your mind a little bit, and take this placid and tranquil  season off the bottom of your “favorite season list.” ) 🙂

 

 

 

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“And there is quite a different sort of conversation around a fire than there is in the shadow of a beech tree…. Four dry logs have in them all the circumstance necessary to a conversation of four or five hours, with chestnuts on the plate and a jug of wine between the legs. Yes, let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” ~Pietro Aretino, translated from Italian

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.”~Ruth Stout

“Winter came down to our home one nightsnowkids
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.”~Bill Morgan, Jr.

 

“Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless. “~Terri Guillemets

“I watch the springs, the summers, the autumns;
And when comes the winter snow monotonous,snowkids1
I shut all the doors and shutters
To build in the night my fairy palace.~Charles Baudelaire

 

“The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.” ~John Updike

 

A wintry mix of a few adventurous and innovative  ideas of bliss…

If you are already counting the days from New Years to March 20th, (the first day of spring,) how about planning your garden in front of a roaring, cozy fire? Strategizing,  envisioning and researching is half the fun of creating your delightful spring garden. Treat yourself to a new garden book, a photo album, a drawing pad, colored pencils and start envisioning your garden from start to finish… Create a photo album of last years garden and decide what you want to replant , what will come back on its own, what new flowers or array of vegetables do you want to plant this year? Where will each, “soon to bloom” treasure be placed within your “enclosed beautiful amphitheater?”

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One of my favorite things to do on a piercingly brisk afternoon is to have a Themed Kitchen “creation day.”  First off, I decide my motif… Italian, Mexican, vegetarian, Indian,  home cooking or perhaps a decadent dessert. Secondly,  I research the web or my repertoire  of inherited family cookbooks for NEW recipes and pick one that is to tempting to pass up … I brew a fresh pot of coffee, put a classic movie on my petite, kitchen TV and begin to conjure up something delicious …I am always on the hunt for THE BEST spaghetti sauce out there… (but I still believe that my mom’s ‘secret sauce’ will always be my very favorite.) Not only is it fun to throw caution to the wind and add an array of new seasonings, fresh herbs from the grocer and be daring and  try different types of tomatoes, onions and spices, but just the aroma alone, wafting from my kitchen stove, is a fabulous  gift to our home as the savory sauce fills the air with the most “homey and nostalgic” fragrance, while it simmers all day on the stove. I make extra sauce so I can save some for another day or give a jar to my neighbor. (Another fun thing to do during this stay-warm,  indoor season; canning, making jams and jellies and sauces for gifts! )

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 NO GUILTY PLEASURES HERE!  The weather channel has predicted a winter storm for the day, the roads are already icy and the fireplace is beckoning you to come and enjoy its abundance of warmth and mesmerizing, candescent flames. It is the perfect time  of the year to curl up and get lost in your favorite authors new novel. Whether atop your cozy bed, snuggled up on the couch, or favorite chair nestled close to the kindling wood, your minutes of intrigue, romance or self help ideas will turn to hours  of total repose and escape.winterscape500Z-52Z-13

 

Is nature calling you to, “Come and  enjoy  some fresh air?”  It is no secret that many of us dream of a “white Christmas”…How about a “White” New Years, Peoples choice awards night or Valentines day?   If you live in the part of your country that is blessed to  have real “snow days,” take  advantage of this resplendent gift and enjoy all the felicity of a fresh snowfall…There is nothing quite like the thrill of riding down a slippery snowbank in an inter tube, or being hit by one as you forget to move out of the path when you stand up, suddenly frozen with fear as you see the next inner tube arriving in ‘fast motion.’  (Yes, true story.) 🙂 For many its the exhilaration of snow skiing ,  creating your first snowman of the season or watching your “Precious cargo” frolic and play the  Eskimo way, in the abundant white fluff. (When Kit and I lived in Connecticut, Grantham went out one morning, after a midnight snow storm that delivered over a foot of snow. We called him, (as usual,) and he was nowhere to be found….as we began looking, we heard a muffled bark and as we looked to our right, there he was,  burrowed under a beautiful canopy of white, with only the tip of his black , wagging tail visible.  He was having the time of his life and no allurement of a beefy bone or bacon strip would get him back in the door.

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With the academy awards, People Choice awards and Grammy’s coming up, January is a perfect time for a “HOME MATINEE PARTY.” Plan a special movie day …ask some friends over and make some savory, ambrosial snacks, appetizers, (you  have to have an endless bowl of buttered popcorn,)  start a fire in your fireplace, light some candles, and begin your “Cinema adventure.”

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For your home movie day,  rent the movies that are up for awards this year or if you have already seen them, here are some “all time”  great movies to rent, depending upon your mood…

For those who love the CLASSICS; Two great picks are  “Rear Window”  and ‘The Sixth sense.’

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ADVENTURE: ‘Sky fall’ and ‘White House Down,’ will get your adrenaline flowing.winterscape80winterscape79

ROMANCE and Kleenex movies, (guaranteed to evoke emotion,) …. The renowned and beloved author Nicholas Sparks’ two galvanic novels that were made into films…’Safe Haven’ and ‘The Lucky one .’

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If you are a lover of suspense….Alfred Hitchcock’s, Rebbecca and Now you see me, will keep you on the edge of your seat…

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FOR THE LITTLE ONES, (and  the young at heart,) Happy feet and The  Legend of the Guardians, The OWLS of GA’HOOLE are wonderfully entertaining with exquisite animation.

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Winter is an ideal time for starting your  abundance of  Home Improvement projects. (I can’t help but smile as this always reminds me of Tim the Tool man Taylor, in the popular sitcom.) 🙂tim-the-toolman-taylor Whether building a bookshelf, refinishing your hardwood floors or transforming an old piece of furniture into something that looks brand new, plan out your projects, purchase all your needed items and get lost in your creative  skills… If you love handwork,  needlepoint, quilting, painting ceramic plates or scrap booking,  treat yourself to all the materials you will need and bestow upon yourself, a time to relax and unwind as you are bringing forth an abundance of beauty. It is not only  fun , but recreational to use this season of cold, overcast days to engage yourself in a project  you really enjoy doing, that will also, enhance the aesthetic charm of your cozy haven..

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Plan and create a pleasurable  day with friends and family…Cook up an array of  delicious cuisine, bring in a few extra , comfy chairs, giving your guests a  front row seat to an exciting and much looked forward to,  Superbowl Game gathering.  

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If you love to decorate and have the time, let your creative juices begin to flow and bring forth a cheerful, colorful and welcoming ambiance for your Superbowl guests!

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Sounds scrumptious! (And I would definitely add the chocolate chips!) 🙂

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Rent a cabin in the mountains for a dulcet weekend or relishable “seven days of heaven.”  Enjoy all the sights, smells and sounds of winter in the country. There is nothing quite like a roaring fire, a cup of steamy hot chocolate and a junoesque snowfall amongst the wintry woods or the elfin glow of a lake, covered with the glimmering shine of incandescent ice.

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How about an organized  family game day? Whether playing competitive video games, an old familiar table game, Crazy eights or charades, being with your family and friends, getting ‘a little’ out of character as you change into your ‘competition mode,’  🙂 is a great idea on a “refrigerated.” wintry day. (If you feel like being a lone, challenge yourself with some rounds of solitaire, a one man video game or an in depth crossword puzzle.) 🙂

I will never forget a few years back, when we experienced a snowstorm like never before. Our power went out so Kit and I could  not work on our computers, use any type of electricity, watch a movie, listen to music… we decided to get out our games… As we lit a myriad of candles, we had more fun playing Scrabble Slam, Uno, crazy eights, and what surprised me the most is we took out a deck of Old Maid cards and we laughed so hard, (til our jaws ached,) 🙂 with that game (both of us putting on our poker faces, (or trying to anyways) to fool the other into picking the old maid out of the few cards left in our hands. 🙂 We would have never done that if it was a normal day!  A winter storm has many advantages! 🙂

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Do not laugh, until you have tried it! 🙂

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I have yet to do this, but have heard rave reviews on  hosting  a Grammy party at your home with friends and family. (We love watching the Grammys and sharing it with others who adore it as well, would only enhance the fun!) Add a touch more excitement and mirth by asking each of your guests to come in costume…dressed up as their favorite Grammy nominee…have a few door prizes ” ready for the winners!”

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If you really feel creative, make up some voting ballets for your guests to vote in  their favorites for the awards ceremony… create a celebratory ambiance in rich, lively reds or classic black and white… If you have time, bake up some savory , delicious Hors d’oeuvres for your guests and send them home with a palatable, decorative box filled with their favorite confections.

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Conjure up some intrigue and suspense as you create an unforgettable evening with friends and family…Have a “ Murder Mystery Dinner.” (See my Blog; “A murder Mystery at the old Carmine Estate in Mystic.” )  Plan your guests, characters and plot, create a “suspenseful atmosphere” and cook up a cozy , comfort dinner of Beef Stroganoff,  Shepherds Pie or a big pot of homemade chili! Guaranteed to be an enjoyable and memorable evening! (Half the fun is also in the planning and creating!)

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If you begin to feel a little bit of the “winter blues,” bundle up and give a few hours of your time to your towns or city’s nearest Soup Kitchen. I always find that one of the richest , most fulfilling activities I can partake in, is giving my time and self to others who are in need. Seeing the gratitude and joy on others faces will only bring that same joy to yours! 🙂

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Decide on the  perfect evening and MC a concert in your home ...whether with family or friends, pick a few DVDs of your favorite musical artists and stock up on the munchies, appetizers, festive drinks and enjoy a home concert! (And if you feel like dancing, dance until your heart is content!) 🙂

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A few highly recommended and delightful concerts! (My favorite being Michael McDonald’s, “A gathering of friends.”

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Planning a ladies afternoon tea for a chilly day, or calling a few girlfriends  to meet you at a resplendent  and fancy tearoom for “High Tea” would be a wonderful and enjoyable afternoon!

You can go with a formal home Tea…

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OR, make it cozy and simple! Its the camaraderie and laughter shared with one another that will make this a  memorable wintry gathering…. the ambiance you create is “icing on the cake.”

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A casual High Tea at a nearby Tea Room… ( Our city’s Tea Room embodies  a Victorian motif, with beautiful English china and magical Tea hats and scarfs to create a delightfully pampered experience for its guests.)

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It is also a delightful treat to meet at a regal and prominent Tea Room in a renowned Hotel for a Formal Tea…. (They do all the work for you!) 🙂

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A trip to your local Borders or Barnes and Nobles for a wonderful day of browsing through your favorite magazines, listening to the newest music at the CD listening bar,  reading a great novel while sipping on a scrumptious caramel macchiato and a delicious fruit scone! When Kit and I lived in Alexandria, the Barnes and Nobles across form our home, allowed Graham to  come in with us…every Christmas season, we would go for hours, get our magazines, books, coffees and sweet treats and find a cozy corner with chairs. The three of us were “more than content,” as we browsed through our books, listened to Christmas music and talked with others doing the very same thing.  (Graham was just elated that he didn’t have to stay in the jeep on our afternoon excursion…going into a place where he was welcomed and could hang out with us  and others, was like ” Doggy-heaven” to him.) 🙂

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Adopt a pet... With the sunshine taking frequent vacations, and our days more overcast with chilly temps, winter is the perfect time to create some new joy in your home with  an adorable  pet that is in need  of some love and a warm home…. It could be a project with your children or with your mate…  YES, its a little extra work, (OK, maybe a lot,) but adopting a pet and bringing love and a safe place to these little, (or big)  guys,  is a gift to you and your family of endless  warm fuzzies and abundant felicity.

A great resource for pet adoption is 1-800-adopt-a-pet or contact your nearest SPCA.

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Get your leather gloves, wool scarves and jackets out with your helmet and heavy jeans…  This scenic season is a glorious time to take a bike ride... whether to the beach, a country road or to the bustling city, its a front row ticket to enjoy all the beauty that winter brings .Think of all the engaging  sights you will behold on your days journey! (And the places you will undoubtedly stop at for hot coffee, hot chocolate and, steaming bowls of   savory soups ! 🙂

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Plan an actual Play date with your pet in the magical and miraculous snow! Some pets love this over abundance of  “white fluff,” its great exercise and brings a heart full of joy to you,seeing your “babies” having so much fun.

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If you are feeling the need to “create a neat and more orderly life,”  It is so easy, (as well as a lot of fun,) to CREATE your own personalized 2014 Organizer!IMG_0424IMG_0428

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All you will need is a notebook, your choice and style of fabric, ( I personally change my material for each season, making several fabric designed notebooks at once,)  a package of at least 24 designed sheets of paper, filler paper for making your
daily “To Do List,” Sharpie pens, glue gun, scissors, stickers or cutouts for “special occasions,” such as birthdays, anniversaries or the date “The Voice “comes back on TV in the spring. 🙂 ) Just joshing. I make my own organizer every year with a different notebook and  designed paper…Its is not only personalized, but a really fun project for a cold, rainy January day! (And it truly helps me to organize my thoughts, plans, goals and brings me an abundance of peace throughout the new year..)

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Exchange your jubilant Christmas decor with a winter-themed snowman motif! 

For my family, when the wondrous season of Christmas is over and  I fell a bit wistful as I pack up and store all of our Christmas attire in the attic, I purposefully leave out all my cheerful snowmen. If you are a lover of snowmen as well, bring your cheerful guys alive by  creating a winning and captivating , wintry corner in your home, turn your Christmas tree into a “Winter Wonderland extravaganza ” or  dress up your dining room with  an amiable, resplendent snowman table scape…bringing a smile to your family and each  winter guest!  (I keep  my snowmen up through March, as living in Delaware, we have at least three months of cold, icy or snowy weather. 🙂   IMG_0420

I love this bright, fortuitous, wintry tree …  What a great New years Creation!

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Lastly, another favorite winter tradition our family has is a “Home day at the spa.” Everything has to be “just perfect.” for our relaxing and rejuvenating adventure. Our bed made up with soft cotton sheets and down comforter with an abundance of pillows…(Check.) The chicken quesadillas prepared and placed in the oven, (check.) A fresh pot of coffee brewing, (check.)  Two of our favorite movies ready to go in the DVD player , (check.) A potpourri of diverse candles lit (as we don’t have a fireplace, (yet,) 🙂 (Check.)  We then, flip a coin as to who gets their back massage first. Also included is a heavenly foot rub, facial, neck and hand massage. It is a perfect day…not only is all the stored tension in our muscles long gone, but we feel entertained, are enjoying great food, one anothers company and the day couldn’t be any better if we had paid a professional and gone to the spa… we don’t even think about what the weather is like outside, (in fact, we are secretly hoping for snow flurries.)  🙂  It truly is  a wonderful day filled with blithesome hours. This idea definitely goes on my “highly recommended” list.) 🙂

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***** On (kind of)  the same note, this last year, our Grantham was diagnosed with arthritis as well as suffered  from a torn tendon in his leg. We were blessed to  discover ‘The essence of  Rosemary oil’…It  truly is a miracle oil… punk2its so fabulously soothing to him, easing his acing joints, so much so, that  he falls asleep with one  massage…and its great for us humans too! 🙂 We are so thankful that his leg is healed and his arthritis soothed!!! 🙂

 

I hope that this blog has inspired you with a few ideas, (you haven’t already thought of,) 🙂 to add some joy, sunshine and FUN to this winter season!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2014~ Bonne annee, ~ Felix sit annus novus, ~ Felice anno nuovo!!!

 

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where each picture originated.

 

 

 

“And the Body just keeps on GIVING!”…

If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” ~ Eubie Blake

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Comical, yet often so true!

In our country, the number one New years resolution is to loose weight and get fit. Why is it at the top of the list every year? Because we keep trying to find something that works. Its a battle, constant search, and at times, a hit and miss for us to achieve a balanced, healthy life. Taking care of our body, eating for nutrition, not comfort or a tiny waistline, (or a balance of all 3,) making  the time and having the motivation to be active and physically fit, as well as making wise choices to handle our stress and hardships, staying healthy both emotionally and mentally, is not  an easy task!  Some of us already have predispositions to illness because of our  genetic makeup… others seem to skate through life without any serious health issues whatsoever… So what is the solution?

I believe there is more than one solution… Because of the way we are each individually made up, we have to find what truly works for us. In our 20th century, I think we all understand that a diet alone doesn’t work long term. We need to choose a lifestyle of eating nutritionally and make it realistic, but what works for one , may not work for another.

 

I have always witnessed within myself, as well as the people I know, that there are two important parts that come into play in our struggle. Our emotional side and the “logical,” ‘do the right thing’ for your body side. An example… Kit and I joined a gym and chose Bill Phillips “Body for life ” program.Body-for-Life It was magical and worked very well with our life style. We were more than pleased with its promise of changing our bodies along with the benefit of learning how to cook and eat nutritious meals in just 12 weeks. (The only downside was you had to belong and work out at a gym 6 days a week,’  which at times, may not be affordable.) (BUT IT WAS LOGICAL, DOABLE AND SUCCESSFUL.)  We were finally convinced we  had it all down as we had completed the 11th week.  .

THEN… one late afternoon as we arrived home from the gym, (after enjoying  our pampering saunas and delightful jacuzzi,) our neighbor and friend, greeted us as we drove up. He had a very conspicuous look on his face, (after he spoke the words he did, I understood why.) “Kit and Susan, we just bought your home and you have 30 days to be moved out as we need to move my other in-law in.” In my unbelief, I replied; “Can you say that  again? ) 🙂 I loved my little quaint, historical home with its wraparound porch. It was October and I was so excited to bring out my fall decor to begin festooning our verandah for the neighborhood kids, instead I would be packing boxes… treat20 We had no idea of where we would go… After hearing this news,  the first thing Kit and I did was go to the nearest popular hamburger joint, where we ordered their biggest, double-Decker  cheese burgers, large fries, onion rings and chocolate milkshakes. Needless to say, We both needed some  emotional comfort...thus in October, as I packed up our home, I rarely went to the gym, did not stay on the diet and kept telling myself, “One day, we will go back on it.” (We moved, did not have a gym assessable to us at the time and we didn’t.)

We all go through the cycles of gaining weight, dieting to lose, exercising and then our motivation fades, (due to work, stress or life’s happenings,)  and we gain it back… Its not to say that many of the diets and programs  on the market are not  great, but we had never found one that could truly fit “our realistic way of life.” Its hard to find a diet that also promotes excellent health and is workable with busy schedules.

luckyBoth Kit and I were very blessed in the fact that neither of us had ever suffered any serious  health problems through our life and always had the gift of good health. (I did not say our weights were ideal all the time, nor were we always  fit, participating in healthy routines.) 🙂  We kept trying new programs…Low carb-high protein, The Scarsdale diet, (kit was loosing his comedic and cheerful personality over that one,) 🙂  The Low sugar diet etc…you know the story…they all came with hope and left with disappointing, non-lasting results...None of them truly changing our lifestyle, just quick fixes to lose the unwanted pounds.

Our answer was right around the corner and we didn’t even know it… It would not come to us in an easy manner…

The age I was avoiding arrived…we both turned 50. We had just entered the decade that everyone, (who has lived through it,)  proudly carries a very strong opinion about its accolade or hardships, and we heard them all, (whether we wanted to or not.) 🙂

Oprah Winfrey said; “Its the best decade of your life.” My older sister told us, “Just wait, that’s when you body begins to fall apart.” Other peoples words of wisdom, “Fifty is when you have finally learned to accept yourself as you are and you are happier than you’ve ever been.”  “Turning 50 brings so many advantages…you get discounts on everything!”      I chose to believe Oprah.

OK…we  were ready to take on this new decade with new commitments to get back on the wagon of good health,  achieve our ideal weight, start a work out regime that we could do daily, (and would do daily,)  thus, we signed up  for another year at the gym. I forget which DIET I chose. (I was back to the mindset  of ” attaining my ideal weight” more than eating the most nutritious foods for my body.)

One thing that we often do not calculate into our “quests ” for good physical, emotional and mental health, is the surprise of the unexpected… For some reason we think that each year will be as the one before, and we will only have to conquer the hurdles we have already faced, thus we can start our health programs over and over if we so desire.   Well, that bubble burst for me when I began  to experience an abundance of loss within my world.

You know the people in your life that you love the most…the ones you, (through your rose colored glasses,) believe will be there forever? Every dream you have, every plan your making and looking forward to…their face is right there? Its not even a second thought,of course they will be with you next Christmas as you get together to celebrate the season.  They’ll be there to call and have a three hour conversation about things that don’t matter, (you  just enjoy one anothers voice, sharing your lives and laughing together).  The storms of life come and go all throughout our lives…some squalls are more difficult than others and we all weather them differently. lsd10010  Suddenly, without warning, in a split second we began having tempest after tempest hit our lives… Kit and I  lost 4 eminently significant people, one right after the other…The first two were not family members, yet were definitely part of our family. (You  know the kind of friends who love you no matter what, through the good bad and the ugly, know all your secrets and fears and you trust with all your  heart?)  They were two friends we believed  would always be there and we’d grow old together. We couldn’t imagine our lives without them. We were in disbelief, felt a deep void, great loss as well as an abundance of  grief. We had our faith in God, one another and Graham, good friends who prayed and were there to talk to and we came to the place we’re we accepted the loss and our hearts were healing.

dadioOur souls still tender, we got the news that my beloved, very close, older brother Jim, died suddenly.He was only 52 years old. He was more than my “big brother,” he was a best friend, confidant and my guardian angel since we were first introduced as babies. I was in complete and utter shock. Two months later, my father died. First I was numb, (it was all to surreal,) then as I began to feel the emotions that loss brings, my heart became overwhelmed with a darkness and pain I had never known. Never had I  experienced losing someone I had been closely bonded to my entire life, without some kind of warning or preparation. Jim’s death was the greatest tragedy I have ever experienced in my life, thus it was a much deeper grief. It goes without saying that Loosing your dad is also one of life’s hardest knocks. There is no one in your life  like your mom and dad and never will be. I lost two great men so close together and life as I knew it was over. (God was so good to me by giving me such a strong husband who loved me with all his heart.)

 

There are no words to express what real depression is…only those of you who have suffered it understand, as I know I didn’t even have a clue of its agony, until this time in my life.

depression 1Nutrition, (when I could eat,) meant whatever looked or tasted  comforting…(trying so hard to ease that horrible emotional pain that never dies…)  Working out? Not going to happen… Hydrating? Never even crossed my mind. I didn’t care what I  weighed, looked like and had no motivation to continue  pursuing good health.I was just surviving daily. My most cherished gift, my faith in God was hanging on by a  thread. I already knew I had  temporarily lost my “great emotional and mental health,” and at times, scared to death it may never comeback.

Thus my journey and quest for good overall health took a back seat. (And I mean a seat way in the back of  the bus.)

In time, through God’s grace, much prayer from others who loved me and the great care of my husband, I did begin to slowly heal from this horrendous, emotionally bankrupt time of my life.   I was surprised at the joy I was once again feeling within my heart. I felt Gods  presence and hope… I was in no way back to normal, but saw the light at the end of this tenebrous tunnel. healthscareIt was at this time, that I began to experience some exceedingly alerting, scary and unavoidable physical symptoms within my body. (It had done a great job for 50 years fighting for me at every turn, but now, it was getting tired, especially after its last battle!)   You know the song by Joni Mitchell , “Aint it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till its gone?”  Well, lets just say, it was about to become my new theme song.

 

 

Before I tell you what happened next, I want  to share some wonderful and encouraging thoughts from renowned people on the subject of discovering and attaining great overall health. (It truly is a balance of many components.)

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Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.” ~ Carol Welch

“If you don’t do what’s best for your body, you’re the one who comes up on the short end.” ~ Julius Erving

“The body of man is a machine which winds its own springs.” ~J. O. De La Mettrie

“Fitness needs to be perceived as funtreat29 and games or we subconsciously avoid it.”
~Alan Thicke

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” ~ La Rochefoucauld

“If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.” ~Joey Adams (I had to add a funny one.) 🙂

“He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” ~ Unknown Author

treat36“The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it.” ~ Anonymous

“What I dream of is an art of balance.” ~ Henri Matisse

 

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ~Virginia Woolf

“Beloved, I pray that in all respectstreat 39 you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” ~3 John 1:2

 

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” ~Brillat-Savarin

The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. ” ~  Thomas A Edison

One should eat to live, not live to eat.” ~Benjamin Franklin (We’ve all heard this one…easy said, hard to do at times as some foods are just to  tempting and enjoyable.)

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” ~ Rashaski

 

 OK, BACK TO THE JOURNEY…

Daunted by what I was feeling and seeing in my body, I didn’t know who to turn for medical help.    I kept wishing the symptoms would disappear… I prayed for a miracle, hoping God would make it all go away. (He had healed me before, (without a doctors help,)  from an ulcer, my gallbladder and an anxiety disorder.) That was my hope as I had no faith in doctors.always9 I  had always believed going to see a physician was like taking your vehicle into a new mechanic…when you take your car in for one problem, they tell you of five more, (on top of the one you came in with.) Not only are your discouraged but they  send  you home with a bill that will take you months to pay off . Not every mechanic… but you know what I am talking about. 🙂

Well, my symptoms became more serious and I found myself not at a doctors office but in the ER room at  the  hospital. Scared was not even a word I can use to describe how I felt…maybe terrified, in complete denial and partially numb. My diagnosis was not good.  This alone took presidence over  any depressed emotions still trying to hold on. After a series of tests, I was  referred to a specialist who visited me during my hospital stay. He was willing and hopeful to begin treating me.I felt blessed. Upon being released from the hospital, I also found a wonderful Family Doctor that helped me tremendously as I began on my journey to heal my body.

My next stop was to  go and see my new specialist that I had met in the hospital. His expertise was one I couldn’t spell let alone pronounce. 🙂

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There I was, along side my husband, sitting in “my new doctors” office, facing my newly acquired illness with my digestive system. In order to heal, it was not a choice… it was as they say “his way or the highway.” 🙂   Amongst beginning a rather large medley of supplements and vitamins he said I had to change my entire diet. I will never forget his words… “Susan, you will never eat another McDonald’s french fry or dill pickles again…go home and throw out all of your salad dressings as you are going to have to live on a low sodium diet.”  Being the “salty” person I was, this was not a good day… I mean really? No McDonald’s french fries…ever?  (He was taking away my comfort food.)   (But given the alternative, I was just thankful for a new plan of hope ( and I thanked the Lord he did not take my Tabasco away.) I am sure if I had asked  him about it, he would have! 🙂

top10 31Kit was so sweet, supportive and joined in this new way of life with me… our entire household did. Yes our new Low sodium diet for life would be 1000 MG of sodium a day. We nicked named it LSD, (but not after the mind altering drug,) though to be honest with you, after I heard my diagnosis and knew all that I had to give up, I could have used a mind transforming pill at that moment.)  🙂   In my mind it seemed impossible as I began reading and researching on line. All the delicious, foods of solace,  we had been eating all of our lives, (Our favorite beef stroganoff, Alfredo chicken pasta, pretzels, popcorn, my mom’s legendary chocolate cake,  Pizza, Our Friday night take out ‘General Taos chicken,’ ( and of course all fast food)  all had to go. Everything had added salt and loads of sodium. What  could I eat? Drink?    As I began getting savvy on all the foods that were low in salt and started creating our menus, ( joyfully assured I could continue in my passion of cooking,) I was amazed at all the low sodium recipes available.treats 60 After a few weeks, we were actually having fun...it was no longer about what we couldn’t have, but all that we could have. We discovered so much flavor, that salt truly didn’t matter anymore. Little did I know this was a blessing in disguise.  With each monthly visit to both my doctor and specialist, having blood work and tests done,  I was literally watching my body heal. I had a new hope for life. I was taken aback  at “the fight that arose within” to get healthy as I felt I was being given a second chance. The peace I had always  known came back and I was the first one surprised at the  acceptance I embodied with my losses.My faith once again, began to flourish.lsd1 I really felt God had answered my prayer through this gauntlet and unexpected hardship. (NO, this time He did not step in and heal me by taking my symptoms away…it was a healing to be walked out and He wanted me to get educated on my digestive system, (something I had never done before.)

This last October, my one year anniversary,  (I remember the time and date as it was Halloween,)  my specialist called to share that  my last set of extensive tests were triumphant.  He told me me that every organ in my body was functioning 100 % and every adversarial image they had seen on my prior cat scans were now gone. I cried tears of joy and could not stop thanking God. Thanks to God’s amazing grace and healing, my husbandhappy day 3, many friends and family’s prayers, happyday 1 a fabulous family doctor, (Yes, I trust doctors now,) 🙂 and an extraordinary gastroenterologist, (who I perhaps did not appreciate our first encounter, but sure do now, ) 🙂  along with the magnificent way our bodies are created to keep fighting, I am now healthy, singing an entirely new tune. I am glad I chose to believe Oprah as I really am experiencing the best decade of my life.

I would have never dreamed that my body would have to battle so hard, because of the ways in which  I had neglected it. All it  ever wanted, was good nutrition, activity, nourishment and some TLC. 🙂 It didn’t care if it was slender, just healthy. You know the saying, “Better late than never?”   I thank God that it was not to to late, and that in going through the storm(s), both physically and emotionally,  that my body decided to fight one more time. Its now thanking me for all this attention, nutrition and has rewarded me once again with peace, energy, health, ( and yes, the icing on the cake is my ideal weight is back.) Kit also loves our new way of life, (we don’t think of it as a diet.) I am so grateful for the education I received as I truly did not know a healthy way of life that would really work for me, (bringing  excellent  OVERALL health, ( thus so many times, I returned to the quick fixes I had used before...that instant gratification syndrome.) 🙂  lsd1020The tempest was now over…(yes, it all lasted a lot longer than I would have chosen,) but the bestowals it left me with,  I would  not  trade for anything in this world.

 

In a nutshell, this is what I learned about salt/ sodium  and the body.

always 1150 to 75% of the human body is water. The percentage of your body weight , (contributed from  excess water) depends on the fatty tissue you have…the fatty tissues will hold water because of the excess salt in the body. (My doctor said if you remember one thing, remember “SALT LOVES WATER.”) Its not the table salt we have to be careful of. (We never used table salt,) its the salt in prepared and processed food. I leaned to read all labels, discard canned and processed foods, and cook with fresh ingredients. Too much sodium in your body will increase the bodies risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease and a fatty liver, thus causing liver disease. It also increases your blood pressure which can cause hypertension.Who knew? We sure didn’t. As I began my research and got educated about my digestive system, it changed everything. I’m  very careful of what I put into my body, I began hydrating, taking vitamins, and truly treating my body totally different. I understand that being physically fit is important…not for weight, but for your bodies organs, muscle tone and strength..We also chose to do this for our ‘future health.’ You’ve heard the saying;  “Use it or loose it?” I never really gave that much thought until this last year…Now its become a much  treasured truth!

Along side this way of eating and living, we both do some form of exercise, (though I dislike that word,) that is enjoyable and not a task. Kit loves people, competition and working out with his gym buddies, thus he goes to the gym daily. I have a passion for R&B music and dancing…I chose aerobic dancing for my workout. We are moving our bodies, not for a desired number on our scale, but for our hearts, lungs, organs and muscle strength. treat50(But I will tell you, with this new way of eating and living, one of the byproducts is attaining as well as maintaining your ideal weight.)  We also  take multivitamins and needed supplements, (many of them natural) as we climb this ladder of a healthy life, as well as hydrate. (Two more wonderful truths we learned in our ‘education’ with LSD.) 🙂

WHAT DO WE EAT?

doctor10Scrumptious, fresh  grilled salmon, shrimp and chicken Kabobs, grilled turkey burgers, grilled chicken nachos,  homemade spaghetti with low sodium turkey sausage, (that tastes just as delicious as real Italian sausage,)  curried pork loin roast with potatoes and carrots, chicken parmigiana over pasta, a Porterhouse steak every once in a while, even prime rib for Christmas. We drink delicious juices,top10 40 (kit  has his cappuccinos and lattes,) I drink decaf coffee , teas, sparkling waters and homemade ciders.Our snacks? Low sodium cheeses with fresh apples, (Mozzarella and Swiss,) an abundance of fresh vegetablestop10 34 or low sodium tortilla chips with homemade Pico de Gallo and LS dips. We found a new love for  every kind of fruit  you can think of.(A green apple has no sodium whatsoever.) We really do eat whatever we want , and our taste buds have changed so much that we don’t enjoy salt like we once did.

Our menus are incredible, and we never feel deprived.

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***( All Food Photos~ Google Image.)

And there is always Morton’s salt substitute if you want to add a little salty flavor now and then. (I will warn you, it doesn’t taste as good as’  real salt’ on things like corn on the cob, scrambled eggs or popcorn, but its there if you need it. It contains 0 sodium.)

Because I know that I will always have some times in my life that I will be tempted to eat for comfort , (our emotional eating syndromes,) 🙂 I do have my backup “treats” in my new way of eating. 🙂 (All of these are very low in sodium per serving.) (All things in moderation, right?)

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AND as far as  doctor7 go, sure, I could have some (in my allotted amount of  daily sodium,) and just eat  apples the rest of the day, 🙂 , (not healthy I know,)   but the good thing is, I don’t want to, nor do I miss them one bit!

One more “added benefit” of this way of life…Kit went in for his yearly physical and for the first time, his blood pressure was perfect. It blew his doctor away…(him too.)

 

If this writing has inspired you and you are looking for a healthy change,  give this Low sodium way of life a try…begin to read your labels and talk to your doctor of what your allotted sodium count a day should be.  I know I am sticking with 1000 MG of sodium a day for life, as it works so well for me. Kit  allows himself about 1,500.  Start investigating your food’s sodium count, If it works for you, then it will be an added blessing for this new year. Treat yourself to a new Low Sodium cookbook and look online under ‘Low Sodium recipes,’ for great new meals. Don’t be hard on yourself as you begin…Pick some form of “movement” for your body that you really enjoy, and Hydrate. I think you will find you feel more energized, aren’t struggling with the scale any longer and are attaining your quest  for healthy living.

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My “Before LSD,” ( stormy days) and After! (With our “heart wrapped in fur,” Grantham.) 🙂

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I will put a few of our NEW favorite recipes up on my blog from time to time… The ones we have over and over as they are real “keepers,” as well as the recipes I grew up on as I know not everyone chooses LSD as their way of life. Some of our favorite dishes, we still enjoy, I just take out the salt. and alter the recipe a bit.Believe me, this discovery offers many delicious foods and scrumptious cuisine. 🙂

I truly wish you all  the very best on whatever health journey you are on!

 

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will show you where the picture originated from.