Saturday, February 10, 2018

Valentino!


As last year drew to a close, so did the life of my most cherished chihuahua, Rico. I'd had him for almost 16 years and over the past 3 or 4, I watched as he went mostly blind and began suffering with trachea collapse. After 4 visits to the doggie hospital for oxygen in December, he finally had his final ER visit on New Year's Eve and we made sad decision to have him put down. What a way for a year to end. By this time, I had already chosen my "Word of the Year" for 2018 which was Joy and was having trouble figuring out just what was joyful about little Rico's passing. I also decided that he was going to be my last dog because my husband and I are getting older and I didn't want to have a dog that would need to be "passed down" in the event of our deaths. But, every day, I found myself cruising the online breeders for another chihuahua. I visited the local pet shops with their super high priced dogs looking for a replacement for Rico, and had nearly given up when in my local Craigslist, I found this little guy!

He is in fantastic health, smart, small, quick to learn and I'm in love! And his price was very affordable for a retired couple. Of course there will be shots and licensing and maintenance but he is going to be a small dog and we are hoping he fits into the budget as much as we think he will. I never thought in a million years that I would be able to get over my loss but hearts are resilient I think. Rico will NEVER be forgotten as well as all my other dogs, but for this moment in time, I feel so much joy and thankfulness. We named him Valentino because hey, he's a lady's man and hard to resist isn't he? And because its so close to Valentine's Day and because my husband agreed another dog would be ok. Happy Valentine's Day to US!

I took a walk this morning and saw a sign about the Chinese New Year and guess what year it is? That's right.... The Year of the Dog!! I would wholeheartedly agree! I'll be sharing his stories along with ours on here and you can watch him grow!



Thursday, January 11, 2018

Oui Yogurt by Yoplait. Simply DELICIOUS!



Have you guys tried OUI yogurt yet?

 OH MY GOSH YOU HAVE TO!! It is DELICIOUS!

This isn't the first jar I've had. Last month we discovered this yogurt at our .99 Store in San Luis Obispo and they were selling it 2 for $1. Yes, you read that right and I'm almost scared to state that on here for fear it will cause a run on the store! I know you guys think that if it's in a .99 Store, something must be wrong with it, but that isn't so. These are in date, sealed properly and absolutely perfect.

Oui yogurt, made by General Mills and Yoplait, currently comes in comes in eight flavors: strawberryblueberryblack cherryvanillacoconutlemonpeach, and plain. The yogurt is also non-gmo, gluten free and lightly sweetened with cane sugar in the fruited varieties. It is made using whole milk rather than reduced or no fat, a long culturing time and two kinds of fermenting cultures; L. Bulgaricus and S. Thermophilus. I've tried all of the flavors over the last couple of months and my favorites are the lemon, coconut and blueberry. And today, for the first time, I tried Plain. Now that is scary business for me because I've had a lot of plain yogurt and some yogurt is just way to tart for me. I used half of the jar in a banana bread recipe to replace the sour cream and then ate the other half.... plain. It was so good I practically licked out the jar! 

Here is a link to the nutrition information on a jar of the plain yogurt. Since we are watching our carbs, I like that it only has 8 in the entire jar. The fat content is also not a problem on our Keto diet. AND it has 15% of daily calcium needs, which becomes more important as we age. 

So if you're looking for a good little snack, breakfast item with fresh fruit, yes, even a dessert that is on the healthier side, look no more. Go pick up a few jars of your favorite flavors and give it a try. You will NOT be disappointed!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Living on Less.....WEIGHT, PART 2






How does your morning start? A cup of coffee at home or grabbed from a coffee shop on your way to work? Are you a cereal eater, bagel with cream cheese, yogurt with fruit? Do you skip breakfast? Have you given it any thought at all, or are you a creature of habit? OK, here's a good one... do you look at the box, cup or bag that you took that cereal, yogurt, bagel out of for nutritional information? Now THAT'S an eye opener. 

Suddenly, the pounds start creeping up and you are wondering why. You've always eaten like this and never had to cut back to lose weight. The older you get, the less active you get for the most part, and the more those pounds creep in. 

Then there's the hormonal changes, the crazy hectic lifestyle that comes along with kids and teenagers. And before you know it, it's more than just 10 pounds you have to lose. It's more like 20 to 40 pounds!

Today I'm going to give you a few more dieting ideas to mull around in your head and maybe try. 


  1. PORTION CONTROL   I had coffee with a friend this morning and the words, "portion control" popped into my head. First you have to know what a portion size is for what it is that you are eating. You can look on the bag or box and see. You can also use several phone apps that will look up the information for you. Check it out. You just might be overeating the portion size. My husband likes cereal for breakfast and pours a huge bowl to overflowing. His cereal portion size is 3/4 cup of cereal. His portion size is probably 3 times that. That means 3 times all the figures on the side of that box! So know your portion size and limit yourself to having A PORTION of the item you are eating. 
  2. IS IT A WANT OR A NEED  Let's say you have made up your plan for the day for meals. You have calculated out the calories and have taken them right up to the daily limit. Along comes a craving for something. Is it a need or a want? In most cases, its a want. If you are getting sufficient and balanced calories throughout the day, you really don't need the food you are craving, you are wanting it. Too many fulfilled "wants" and you will not lose weight. You can work some of the wants into your daily diet and allotted calories if you want, but not on top of what you've already decided to eat for the day. Instead trying drinking some lemon or no calorie no carb flavored water. I make up sugar free Jello gummy bears that are FREE to eat. When I'm feeling like I need a little something sweet, I'll have a few of those. If you really want candy, cookies or sweets, put them in your diet and move other parts of the daily calories around. What you will find out is that you won't have enough HEALTHY food for the day and that thing you THOUGHT you needed was just a craving that could have been ignored. 
  3. FIND WAYS TO PUT IN A LITTLE EXTRA EFFORT, MONEY OR TIME  Dieting can be expensive. You may find yourself having to buy things you wouldn't ordinarily buy. Maybe you even want to get a good set of measuring cups, spoons and a food scale. You could also find it efficient to have sectioned lunch containers to put in pre-made items for the upcoming week. They make great quick "grab and go" packages. With a little extra effort you could get all the fresh items and meat from the store and on a Sunday afternoon plan your menu for the week and do some cooking to fill those containers, all weighed and measured and ready to go. You can divvy out those 1 oz. size packages of jerky, nuts, veggies, etc. and keep them in the refrigerator all nice and cleaned. Knowing what you are having will make it less possible to make dieting errors during the week. With the time you save doing it in advance, you can now go for a nice long walk, hit the gym or do a little home workout section. To save money when you're dieting, use coupons and money saving apps on your phone. Buy things in season and on sale in bulk and freeze in personal sizes to be thawed at a later date. Try finding containers at Goodwill, church bazaars or garage sales. Ask around to your friends to see if anyone has special equipment like a juicer or blender they might not be using right now that you could make use of. Have a garage sale yourself and sell items you don't need, turn around and buy things you do. 
  4. LEARN WHILE YOU GO, EDUCATE YOURSELF   There are so many diets out there. Each of them says it is the end all diet but you will have to discover what works for you and keep at it. Some people go vegetarian or plant based. Some people find great success with a KETO diet. Others count calories... well the list goes on and on. There are programs that you have to pay for such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig to name a couple. Take some time and make that plan as to what you are going to do. For myself, a type 2 diabetic, I decided to do the Ketogenic diet. You eat a very small amount of carbs because they are mostly sugar, a decent amount of protein and believe it or not, the largest category you eat is fat. Doesn't that sound contrary to everything you ever heard? But its working and the best thing about it is my blood sugar numbers. I did a LOT of research before I tried it ad listened to both the positives and the negatives right from the mouths of others trying and Doctors who were suggesting it to their patients. So decide what works for you and stick to it. I also like to think of the "learn as you go" category as relearning how to eat, make healthy satisfying meals and low cal or carb treats and desserts that fit into your program rather than denying yourself.  And allowing time for the emotional side of ourselves to catch up to the physical side. The fat we put on while we are dealing with life can have emotional "triggers" attached and you will need to discover what those are in your life and begin working on them while you lose.
It's important to take a look at our lives and acknowledge those areas that aren't working and strive to understand, take steps to fix and then live a less complicated and crazy life. Living on less, less weight that is, is going to be so freeing. I'll share with you that I have given myself 3 years to lose the weight. I hope it doesn't take that long but then I have a plan. 33 lbs. a year, a little under a pound a week. If it get there faster, YAHOO! And hopefully it won't take longer. I've made it a little spread out because I know I may have stalls and plateau's along the way and I wanted to be realistic. It gives me a good long time to learn some new ways to eat, cope with feelings, get used to exercising regularly, preparing healthy snacks and meals in advance and more. 

I still have a few more tips that I will share in one last post and then I'll choose a different focus for a few weeks. Once a week or so, probably on Fridays, I will share my progress with you here. So keep your eyes out for KETO Fridays. I'll try and post different things like what I eat in a day, what kind of exercises I'm doing and how to pre-plan and pre-cook some items for weekly lunches and meals. Hope you'll come back again. 


Monday, July 3, 2017

Living on Less.....WEIGHT, Part 1






It's not just about the money. Living on Less can also mean having less "stuff" cluttering up our homes, less stress and drama, and dragging around a whole lot less weight. 

The topic of the day... What are YOU "Weighting" for?

I think I've always had a weight problem. I was active enough as a teen and young adult to keep the pounds in range. But when I started having kids, I put on weight with each one. In 2001, and 230 lbs., I'd finally had enough and opted for Gastric Bypass Surgery so I would never have to think about being fat ever again and yes, I'm using the word FAT. I like to eat though, and only ended up losing a total of 35 lbs. with gastric bypass. Don't get me wrong, if you do it right, you MIGHT not have the same results I had, but a little dixie cup size meal was just not enough food for me. I would cry and be angry at every gathering of people and food. Let's just say eating was a big part of my life, so much so that it had intertwined into every facet of my life and giving up food felt like giving up myself somehow. 

Then, at the beginning of this year, I found myself in a new category of FAT people. The Type II Diabetics with insulin resistance. Luckily I found a terrific Doc who prescribed a couple of really good medications that my body HATED with a passion. Metformin gave me the worst headaches EVER and Farxiga made my kidneys ache for days. And on top of that, my husband retired and chose a medical plan that no longer covered the cost of prescriptions. I knew I was going to have to do something about these medications or my diet. Oh, did I mention that Farxiga is about $400 a month. Yeah, I think you'd do something about your diet too!

That's when I found the Ketogenic diet, much like the old Adkins diet where the focus is on a very small amount of carbohydrates, a medium amount of proteins and a large amount of fats each day. How could this ever work? But work it does! My blood sugar was balanced in a short two weeks WITHOUT BEING ON ANY MEDICATION WHATSOEVER. And one of the best things is the effortless weight loss and increased energy. I'm walking all over the place! The meals are plentiful, I don't feel hungry or have cravings and using the SparkPeople.com website, I'm able to hone in my macros everyday and get support from other keto-ers. 

Confession: I started my plan on June 13, 2017, and each month, I will be letting you know of my progress. I started at almost 220 and today my weight is 201. Not bad for just a couple of weeks. Now the weight is coming off much slower but it is still going down. I didn't like the way I looked or felt but I knew it was necessary to document this loss with pictures, and I do use a scale and yes, I measure my body once a month. 




After a couple of weeks of being on the program,  I started thinking how much dieting, cleaning the clutter and budgeting are really all alike. And maybe people who have difficulty in one of those areas, would also be susceptible to having difficulty in the others because they are very similar. I'm speaking for myself here. I tend to be a bit of a hoarder. So you see, EXCESS clutter is in my life. EXCESS weight is in my life. As I'm losing weight, I also feel the need to address and cut out those things that are preventing me from living the carefree life I was meant to live. This sorting out and shedding things and weight, spreads out and you feel lighter and lighter as the process goes forward. 

Over the next few days, I will be covering 10 ideas to help you focus on Living On Less.... weight that is. And as you lose weight, maybe you will do a refining of other things in your life as I am.

  1.  HAVE A PLAN    To reach any destination,  there has to be a starting point and an ending point. You have to know the Where's, Why's, What's, and How's. How much weight do you want to lose? How long are you giving yourself to lose it? What are you going to do to have a successful journey with the fewest mess ups? What diet plan do you want to use to lose the weight? Look up how to set SMART goals with this link and it will help you refine your plan with very specific steps.
  2.  YOU HAVE TO STICK TO THE PLAN OVER TIME   If you are like me and have a lot of weight to lose, you will need to recognize this isn't going to happen overnight. It's going to take weeks, months, maybe even years to achieve those goals. Dieting is not just done for a period of time and then you are free to eat whatever you want. For most of those that are as obese as I am, it is going to have to be a total change to the way I eat... forever. And during this extended time, you will need to be 100%, seriously committed to the plan you made in step 1.
  3. DON'T GIVE UP    I see more people who think one little mess up is worth throwing in the towel. Own it, count those calories and MOVE ON. Keep a journal and come up with ways so that doesn't happen again. Pre-package snacks that are grab and go. First thing in the morning, pack your lunch and have your dinner ready to go. Don't fall into the "poor me, I messed up again, I'm just going to give up mode." DON'T GIVE UP! It's much easier to fix things when you only messed up a snack or meal than when you have gone weeks with no correction to your diet. You don't remember this but you used to fall down a LOT.... when you were a baby. What if at that stage you just gave up and never tried to walk again? Or maybe it was riding a bike those first times. But the more times you did it, the better you got at it. Same with dieting, budgeting and cleaning out your house. Own up to what you did wrong, what caused the slip and what you could have done differently. Then the next time you find yourself in that same situation, you can use your own advice to sail right through the temptation.
Come on back tomorrow and I'll be posting a few more of my ideas for you think on and use. 



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hey Retirement! Don't take OUR Date Night Away!!

"Wait! Did we budget for Date Night??"


Wednesday night is Date Night at our house. It's been that way for a LONG time! And we didn't want retirement to do away with our weekly fun. So today, I'm going to cover some good ways to keep that fun coming and be able to pay for it with slightly reduced funds.

  1. Put some money in the budget. Analyze what you can afford and how many times you will be going out during the month. If you get paid twice a month, budget for two date nights. If you get paid weekly, you only need to budget it in for the week. For us, we are getting paid once a month so we will budget for 4 to 5 nights out. We set aside about $20 to $25 per week for date night
  2. Remember, it's about spending time together not how fancy the dining is. You can make a picnic one week and then spend double the following week at a nice place. You can make dinner at home and go to see a play or movie. In our case we could go to the beach with some hot dogs, potato chips and soda and make a nice bonfire
  3. Use gift cards to supplement. We get them for different occasions and kind of "hoard" them until needed. If there is a Birthday or Anniversary, we actually tell our kids that we would like gift cards. In this way we have been able to go to eat and the movies for free that week. You can also buy discounted gift cards online at Giftcard Zen, or use part of your budget to buy cards when the stores offer deals such as buy 4 cards and get 1 for free
  4. Use coupons that have been mailed to your house. Many of them will have reduced prices on certain meals, two for one combo prices or free desserts or appetizers
  5. Go to dinner on nights or to places that offer Senior Citizen discounts, Veterans discounts, AARP discounts, etc. 
  6. Pay for just the meal and ask for water rather than a fountain or alcoholic drink
  7. Use the receipts to file surveys online and get a discount on your next food purchase
  8. Have a meal out and come home for the entertainment. Rent a move online or at Redbox. Watch something on Hulu or Netflix or a movie you haven't seen for a while that's in your collection. 
  9. Dine out during "early bird" dining times and save money
  10. Eat meals off the 55 and over menu. These meals can be slightly smaller and a lot more economical
  11. Use online sources such as Groupon.com to buy two for one price deals
  12. Make a special meal at home complete with fine china, candle light and restaurant style food. Soft music in the background. You may think you are actually dining out!
We've done dates watching our local baseball team with dogs and cokes, biked for a picnic style dinner to local parks and had some really nice meals out. Date night is about the relationship not the money. It's about making special time to be together and nurture your relationship. I'd love to hear all the ways you go about making Date Night special. Leave a comment and give us some good ideas!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

How Buying Bulk Saves Us Money




We are great fans of Costco and have been for years. We have 4 children and cooked at home most meals so we got used to buying bulk. But as newly retired people, we had to ask ourselves if buying bulk was still the most money saving way to buy. And simple answer is yes!

The thing to know about bulk shopping is to only get those things you are use frequently. Most of the canned and frozen foods have a shelf life of about a year. And if you bulk shop, you really need to get used to finding that date. Our favorite list of canned items include: olives, diced tomatoes, corn, beans, refried beans, tomato sauce, the canned chicken, beef and tuna. I noticed that Costco doesn't break down their food prices so you can see how much per can, but that is NOT difficult to do. You take the total price for the bulk pack, divide it by the number of cans and that is your per can price. Why do you need to know that? So you can compare prices with what the similar item costs in your local grocery store. When the price drops below what Costco offers per can, you can stock up at your local grocery store instead. This is where a price book comes in handy... but that is for another blog post. Now the reason we get the "pure" item instead of let's say, canned chili or a pasta in sauce is so that we can make a variety of meals using the item rather than just the one type of meal. We also buy olive oil, spaghetti sauce, pasta, paper products, cleaning supplies and just recently had our printer ink refilled.  Below is an example of the Costco product sign. 12 cans of green beans for $7.79 total. That would be .65 per can using the formula above. 


In addition, we usually pick up some frozen chicken breast, thighs, drumsticks, ground beef, stew meat, etc. About two years ago, we decided to purchase a freezer so we could "stock up" when things went on sale, and for us, it's mostly meat in our freezer. Again, we like to have the ability to make several different meals from what we buy rather than the breaded chicken breast, meat in sauce or with pasta, etc. 

Here are just a few examples of things we have gotten at a deep discount. Shortly after Christmas and Easter, we visited our local bulk store, Smart & Final, and found spiral sliced hams more than half off! We brought them home, cut the meat off the bone, packaged it into 1 lb. vacuum sealed packages and restocked our freezer for at least 6 months to a year of ham! You can do the same around Thanksgiving when you buy a turkey and get a turkey. Either keep it frozen for the next holiday, or go ahead and cook it up, take the pieces off the bones and make bags of cooked meat and turkey broth. Earlier this year, we also bought 50 lbs. of carrots and 50 lbs. of potatoes and canned them in our pressure canner. Because it is just my husband and I now, we used pint jars and have an entire years supply of both canned potatoes and carrots for under $20. Canning is NOT difficult. Most cities offer classes at the county extension offices and supplies can be picked up at thrift shops, garage sales and from friends who no longer want to do it. Jars can also be picked up for cheap or free off Craigslist. I would highly recommend learning this skill. It can save you BIG time!


We also buy rice and beans in the giant bags and store them in heavy duty food grade pails. Some of the beans get processed in pint jars in the pressure cooker so we can have them on hand for weeknight meals and the rest will get us through an entire year at a time. Again, these are the 25 to 50 lb. bags of rice and beans. And since we make our own bread and baked items, we will buy the flour, sugar, spices, bread flour, yeast, butter, chocolate chips and nuts in bulk. You can usually find really good prices on baking items around the Holidays if you don't want to get a membership to a "club" store like Costco and still want to buy bulk.

Now how do we budget for bulk shopping? The easiest way is to make it part of your monthly food budget that you set aside rather than spend. We do our big shopping maybe 3 to 4 times a year and it seldom goes over $300. So we put away $75 to $100 a month towards the big trips. Another good way to save up is to wait for a tax return or work bonus and use that money.

You can drop a lot of cash at a store like Costco so you really have to watch out and think before you buy and do some research. And for us, we never, EVER charge anything we buy there. It's too easy to buy with a credit card thinking you will pay the food off as you eat it.  But most of the time, that never happens, and I'm speaking from past experience,
So BE CAREFUL. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

The High Cost of Eating Out



Do you guys make a budget every month? We started doing it a couple of years ago knowing that our retirement would be coming soon and we would have to know how to live within a budget. 

We use the Quicken for Mac program and is it ever insightful!! You set your budget and tailer it to meet your own personal needs. As you spend money and assign the money into your categories, the program keeps track of how you are doing within that budget. You can select monthly and by the entire year. One of these days I'll have to make a video explaining how it works for us. Anyway, for us, food kept coming up on our budget overages, meaning, we set the budget for a certain amount and each month, we were going over. Now in the "olden days" we had really gotten used to dining out at night, having several lunches out a week and those luscious coffee creations 4 out of 7 mornings!! No wonder it wasn't balancing. But we had the money then and we didn't even LOOK at what we were doing. Now that we have a reduced income, we are "revisiting" that food topic all over again. 

First I will say there are only two of us on this budget of ours. Then I will say that we were spending more on food than on our house payment! Terrible to admit but true! And I will also admit that both of us could stand to loose a few pounds! 

One of my favorite things to do is find a way to make home cooked food taste as good as dining out. There are tons of recipes all over the internet that can help with that. But lately, my husband has been telling me that he likes my food better than any of the places we have been eating out!! SCORE!! And as I "practice" more and more, I am getting better and better. I've made some things for the freezer that we can whip out on those nights when we just don't feel like cooking. I also will intentionally buy a few simple frozen things TO EAT AT HOME instead of going out. Yes, we probably pay more for those convenience than making it from scratch, but it will be far less than going out. 

I hope you like the video and while you are over there on YouTube, please subscribe to our channel, like our subject matter and set up notifications so you don't miss anything. We have LOTS of ideas on how to save money and live within your means and still feel like your are having a happy, fulfilled life. 

https://youtu.be/C0v8yCTUXog




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