The Simplicity Of Christmas

**Disclaimer** this time of year makes me horribly reflective and often very nostalgic.

It’s also a perfect breeding ground for the musings of my mind, which in turn propels me to write……so I will be doing some fun family, Christmassy kinds of posts through the month because that makes me happy and there are other facets to me besides my focus on sane health and fitness …

You may now proceed…. ūüėä

Like many of you, I was scampering around doing some Christmas shopping today. I’ve scored a lot online which has been the cats meow but there were other things I prefer to search for in person.

Like for all the littles I shop for.

I want to hear what a toy sounds like, feels like, and more importantly, looks like.

Shopping for the kids is always fun. Seriously.

Maybe it’s just a time that I can just recall wonderful memories of childhood Christmases.

I still think baby dolls belong under the tree. I loved this doll.

Kids still have this untainted, happy, grateful attitude with Christmas that often gets lost as many grow older.

Kids don’t care if a certain “name” is on the gift….meaning designer things don’t impress them. They don’t care what store it came from or if they will be able to impress their little friends with it.

They don’t care about the cost. They aren’t leveling any judgment if they think you didn’t spend enough or if the quality isn’t up to their level of expectation.

Looking back, it was often the most random, inexpensive things our kids would love.

Children still have a refreshing grasp of Christmas. They embrace the magic and simplicity. They are still caught up in awe and wonder and the pure joy of receiving gifts.

This is why it makes it so fun and easy for me to shop for them.

Maybe, just maybe, in our grown up adulthood we could embrace some of those pure child like characteristics again at Christmas.

After all the first Christmas was filled with awe, wonder, and a whole lotta supernatural magical moments.

The first Christmas when Christ was born wasn’t by any means extravagant. It was simply embraced with awe and wonder, deep musings, and a whole lotta joy.

I hope in the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season you allow yourself to embrace it with the purity and simplicity of a wondering child, and that in the stillness of those moments you also find the pure beauty and simplicity in the birth of our Savior, Jesus, the most amazing gift of all.

Monday Musings

Welcome to the last edition of Monday Musings for 2018! It’s hard to believe we sit poised on another brand new year full of possibilities and adventures.

2019
It’s all about your perspective

I promise this isn’t gonna be any kinda “new year, new you”¬† post nor will it be full of clich√© end of year rhetoric.

Just yours truly with some random musings to end the year with and perhaps a little sass thrown in the mix just for fun.

The holiday season has been great

OK I don’t know how it goes for everyone, but my holidays have been good.

Busy? Yes.¬† Controlled chaos at times? Yes. Food? Ugh more than enough. Family? See “controlled chaos” ha

Seriously though, I’m blessed to have my tribe together and everyone is happy and the kids play and drag toys everywhere to which I find pieces of things tucked in my sofa till summer time and Nerf darts in odd places¬†but it’s all good stuff, ya know?

There’s been a plethora of food and sweet treats and really at this time of year I’m officially getting sick of food.

I’ve been cooking and baking since… well… Thanksgiving.

I’m ready to get back to easy meals and I’m ready to take a break from sugary treats. I guess it’s good I’m used to eating healthy most of the time because it doesn’t take long for me to realize it’s not my comfort zone.

The Snake Oil People Are Coming

Oh I have a good time with all of the “health and wellness” leeches out there.¬† I don’t have a voice here¬†for no reason, and having a blog and my social media is the perfect platform for speaking out against some of the craziness.

I wrote a post on it.. find it here….https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/10/24/snake-oil-diets-and-more-wizardry/

The tv ads have started. The stores have begun to set up huge displays of “meal replacement shakes”¬† with athletic wear in the front of store and my social media feeds have all the DM people hawking their wares for weight loss.

Tricks and gimmicks abound.

Yeah, yeah we all ate cookies at Christmas and maybe to much of grandmas pie.

Whatever.

Here’s the deal, you don’t need their wizardry to lose weight, honestly, you don’t. Keep your money, buy healthy, real food and smaller clothes with it.

You don’t need to be cleansed, detoxed, purified, or any of that other nonsense. ( remember you’ve got a liver and kidneys to do all that ūüėČ )

I’m not gonna go crazy in this post about this topic but I WILL leave you with a great article that clearly defines all the “lingo” these companies use so you’re a little educated.

https://qz.com/quartzy/1510840/a-handy-guide-to-the-toxic-language-of-diet-culture/?fbclid=IwAR2pCvjN_m6ZaQb_FwQKbQzKKD2hQmg5X1oLmOdnbLHKDeaK2MfTDdmZOPo

Let’s not forget exercise….

I have not gotten in the amount my body craves these past few weeks. I came off months of training, did the duathlon at the end of November, and headed into a busy month working and preparing for the holiday season.

I did get out the other day for a ride… of course it was one of the coldest mornings we had this week….

IMG_20181228_115811_814
My Ninja look. I was kinda numb when I got back but I felt amazing

I  hope you have found time to get out and enjoy some purposeful movement.  I hope that as you move into the year ahead, you are already planning to make it a part of your daily routine.

I enjoy other less “active” activities…

The day after Christmas found me with my first “free” day in quite awhile. And by that I didn’t feel totally task oriented with a to-do list in my face.¬† So I trolled the local stores for any after Christmas items I couldn’t live without then I went and got coffee and just spent some time… reading….

20181226_130550
Coffee and a good book. It’s the simple things right?

I started a book¬† ( One Bridge To Life) before Thanksgiving and it got set aside ’cause I just didn’t seem to find extra time to lay down and leisurely read.

I was able to attend a public meeting  at a local church and the speaker was a 92 year old man who had survived the Holocaust.

There is something very humbling about sitting there listening to someone recount horrors from ages ago, yet watching his face at times, it was like he was seeing it all very clearly in his minds eye. That got me more than anything… seeing his look become distant as if he were seeing it all over again… and he most likely was.

Of course his time to talk went all to fast so, what do you do to fill in the gaps?

You buy his book of course.

This one is his personal recollections of his life before the invasion, during his time as a prisoner, and then his liberation.

I read and then have to walk away at times as I’m dealing with the truths that these were real people. The horror is almost like todays graphic horror except I know this was real life.

I keep reading and I start to get involved with a “character” and I want them to make it… to get out…to escape…so many never made it to survival.

I’ve had to set the book down and walk away for awhile more times than I should admit.

I just cannot wrap my mind around the horrible, ghastly, inhumane treatment of human beings done by other “human beings”.

Yeah, not light reading I know.

I believe like so many others, these stories, the lives of those who went through this monsterous atrocity, must always be remembered. I guess educating myself further is a way for me to “not forget” such a horrible point in the history of mankind.

Boy that got heavy….

I finished my weekend up by working at the shop. If you remember I shared in previous posts, I took a space in a Vintage store in town to house all¬†my creativity and to keep some of it out of my house ūüėõ

You can find my post on it here… https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/07/25/the-journey-of-opening-a-vintage-business/

Anyway, a slow afternoon let me re-work my space and take down Christmas, and overall be a bit productive.

20181230_133837
All the pretty green things

Speaking of taking down Christmas

I will admit to feeling like… HUH? when people whip their tree¬† and decorations down the day after Christmas.

Like what’s up with that?

I guess ’cause I put so much into my decorating I just love to enjoy it for as long as I want. My tree has stayed spectacular this year, for a live tree, now past Christmas, it’s not even dropping needles.

Considering how big it is, and how much work it took to make it look so gorgeous, I’m in no hurry to pull it down.

I jokingly tell my kids it may have Valentine hearts on it.

And with that I’ll leave you with this weeks question to ponder…

Do you take your decorations down soon after Christmas? Or do you enjoy leaving them up for awhile?

 

 

Saturday Snippets

Hello faithful readers! Can you believe we are winding down the final days of 2018? I hope your Christmas/ holiday celebrations were wonderful.

new years

As we are in the middle of Christmas and New Years week¬†with plenty of food and maybe alcohol thrown in for some of you, you may find yourself in that place of feeling like you’ve over done it eating and snacking on all the delicious holiday foods and treats that are available.

Yours truly is right there with you. It’s hard not to indulge¬†with so many good things! ¬†I do however, hate how I don’t feel quite like myself when I throw my body out of it’s usual normal rhythm of predictable ( mostly) healthy foods so I try and keep most days in check.

So assuming many of us are in the same boat, I thought I’d throw out a few tips to finish out the year and hopefully head us into the new year in a positive way.

  • Don’t do anything crazy. By that I mean, don’t decide you’re going cold turkey from every single treat. A gradual reduction will help ease any cravings.
  • Do drink plenty of water. With extra sugar and sodium on board we can bloat and retain extra fluid. Adequate water is a good way to keep us hydrated and flush toxins from our system.
  • Don’t give up some form of exercise. I too understand how¬†it can be more difficult to get it in or maybe the weather is awful but find some activity that is easy to do, even if it’s not the most intensive thing. A good brisk walk can help clear your mind, leave you feeling positive and maybe discourage snacking.
  • Do try and add or maintain adequate fruits or veggies in your day. These keep your internal system moving smoothly along.
  • Don’t try and “out exercise” over eating. You can’t do that and at the worst you’ll maybe do something that leads to an injury.
  • Do work in consistent exercise that your body is already used to.
  • Don’t obsess over the scale. Honestly, don’t weigh yourself during this time especially since all those extra foods tend to cause us to hold onto additional fluid which will reflect weight gain.
  • Do get a your numbers when you’re ready to begin to make changes that you need to make. Then weigh in only once a week.¬† Remember, those numbers don’t define you.
  • Don’t be to hard on yourself. No matter where you are be loving and kind to you.
  • Do take steps to make positive goals for the upcoming year in your health and fitness.

I wish you all a Happy and safe New Year! It’s back to the health and fitness grind and I hope to offer some helpful advice, encouragement, challenges and other thought provoking posts as we move into 2019.

20181216_225852

Tell me… do you have New Years Eve plans? Do you go out or just like to stay home in your pj’s?

Monday Musings

Hello world! Well not only is it another edition of Monday Musings, it also happens to be Christmas Eve on this particular Monday…. which gives me another perfect reason to write a Christmas post.¬† ( I told you it would be coming ) We’ve got plenty of time heading into 2019 to continue our health and fitness conversations.

But for now…..

As I write this it’s Sunday night. My weekend has been busy with all kinds of preparations and the usual Christmas activities getting ready for the big day.

Who else out there hasn’t been up to their eyes in wrapping paper and tape?

I’m ready to be still for awhile, drink some coffee, and let my thoughts out writing.

20181223_201108
this is my current mood and comfy place while I’m writing. This cute fox cup is one of my favorites Starbucks offered at Christmas two years ago.

Yesterday the kids and grandkids were over to decorate cut out cookies. These are definitely a more time consuming cookie to make, but are so worth the effort.  I get the cookies made, (using cutters that were my grandmothers)  and the kids decorate till they are covered in frosting and sprinkles.

20181221_230716
Can you resist a fat sugar cookie?

I may or may not have eaten one or two”ish” ūüėČ

I love building memories with my family. It’s especially fun watching not just my kids playing and making cookies, but my grandbabies as well.

Oh… and if you know anything about cookies like this then you know they have to be rolled out to a specific thickness.

Rolling pins are the necessary tool….

20181223_193328
Old family rolling pins and some greenery gave this a festive look…. just ignore the coffee part… I was to lazy to change it ūüėČ

So the cookies are done ( well mostly) I never think I have enough. I kinda like giving stuff away to people too and the clan likes having some left to graze on… which means plenty of candy and cookies all around.

Speaking of all those treats…..¬†

It’s always tricky finding the right ways to put the treats out, yet keep them safe from the dog or little child hands.

I love how this 100 year old desk I refinished earlier this year looks so festive with some¬†goodies on it….

20181223_192831

The cookies are made… the packages are wrapped and spilling from under the tree….

20181223_172302

Christmas evokes many emotions and feelings…..

I love all of the traditions we have during this season. I love the energy and excitement of it. Most of all I love watching my kids during this time. Even my adult kids still get excited.

I recently asked them what made Christmas “Christmas” for them, excluding gifts. (this is what happens when your Mom has a blog and writes. Everything becomes a writing exercise. )

My oldest son told me that Christmas made ¬†home feel “extra homey”

Another one told me that “Christmas is Christmas when all of us are piled up in the kitchen in our jammies, anticipating gift opening and just enjoying the company of FAMILY.”¬† ( when everyone is older, it’s easier to wait till day breaks to open gifts haha)

Another told me she “loves the “glorious mess” created in the living room on Christmas day.¬†” she continues…. ”¬†I love the excitement we get waking up, eating breakfast and then opening gifts .”

( it should be noted, they anticipate my breakfast as much as gift opening)

I am going to remember and hold onto the “glorious mess” reference.¬† I think it’s one of those cool statements to keep for future use. ( I will attempt to remember this in the aftermath on Christmas day)

Christmas is also bittersweet……

I think of all markers of time, each Christmas shows me how we’ve all changed in a year. I look at my children, now adults, and in my mind see them years ago as they were on Christmas morning, children.¬†¬†Now I watch my grandkids with the same eager anticipation of the morning and know next year, they too will have changed.

Next year as well,  we will have a new family member with the addition of another granddaughter.

I look at all of their excited faces as they sit in their “spots” we all claim each year. This has had to adjust at times when someone new comes into the¬† Christmas morning.

I see my husband playing “Santa” handing out gifts as he’s done for …well… a whole lotta years now….and think how blessed I am to have him and share another Christmas with him… our 36th.

The dogs are awkwardly everywhere not sure of this loud chaos in their morning.

As I look around the room at my “tribe” my mind also goes to Christmases past, thinking of family no longer with me. Thinking of times when my parents would take certain places on the sofa, or how we’d tease about them falling asleep on each other in the afternoon when things had settled down.¬† They would come loaded with beautifully wrapped¬†gifts for everyone in huge bags.

My parents were children at heart during the Christmas season and loved doing for others.

They haven’t been gone that long that the ache in my heart isn’t still tender and deep with a carefully grown scab on the grief.

My mom has been gone 4 years and my dad not quite 2.

So my mind sees them and thinks of those days… I remember them in their places and with all their funny quirks that amused us.

I miss them and fiercely wish they were still a part of our family and Christmas celebration.

The beauty in bittersweet….

Although my mind may wander back to Christmases from the past and memories of those I loved, I focus on the beautiful blessings of those I have and the memories we are creating together.

Nothing makes me happier than one of the kids telling me something they enjoy or mentioning a tradition they look forward to.

I find myself doing the same thing I once used to tease my grandmother and mom about. Everyone would almost be done opening gifts and they would have a pile of gifts around them, lost in watching everyone else open theirs.

Last year my kids were like… Mom! open your gifts! As I too, had my pile around me,¬†watching the antics of my family.

So I will join in opening my gifts this year, watching, and adding to the “glorious mess” of the morning and another Christmas will go down in the books.

20181223_172447
Gorgeous right? An unexpected gift this week

But for now…..

For now, tonight, I will sit and admire the beauty of the tree with all the gaily wrapped packages under it.¬† I know in just a short time, the place under the tree will be empty again. a “glorious mess” left in it’s place, ¬†so I will appreciate the view for this season, for these last few hours.

I will drink my coffee in my fox cup, memories dancing through my head, with my mind thinking about things to still do, tasks still waiting on my list before Christmas day arrives.

I will give thanks I have so much that can’t be wrapped and put under a tree and it’s those gifts I value the most, those are quite priceless.

And Christmas will come and go, and long¬†after a¬†gift may be forgotten¬†there will be new memories, stories and traditions that will become a part of the tapestry of our family, and that my friends, is what makes Christmas “Christmas” for me.

I wish you all the merriest holiday season and a joyful New Year!

Now tell me… what makes Christmas “Christmas” for you?

20181223_215109

 

 

 

 

Saturday Snippets

Oh my gosh has this week sailed by! Here we are posed on the weekend before Christmas and my jolly little self has several tasks to still accomplish before Christmas day arrives.

All things I enjoy….like baking and wrapping gifts and shopping for food…. it just seems like the hours in a day fly by in my attempts to finish them off.

I love this time of year. I don’t want it to rush by.

How do you feel about it? Does time fly or do you get done and have time on your hands?

One thing all done has been my decorating and I love, love, love being home with my house all festive.

As my son said, Christmas just makes home “extra homey”.¬† I love that.

So for todays Saturday Snippets, I’m going to leave you with a couple posts from Christmases past… don’t worry no ghosts are involved in these posts being shared with you ūüėȬ† ( if you don’t know, I am referencing The Christmas Carol here)

You can read at your leisure. In them I’ve shared things I love, and what makes Christmas “Christmas” for me. I talk about traditions and things that get passed down thorough generations. I share some of my “favorite things” with you as well.

20171206_194304
My old cardboard village is one of my most favorite Christmas things. The house and churches are between 75- to nearly 100 years old.

Find my favorite things post here……https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/12/22/favorite-things-of-christmas/

Find my Most Wonderful Time of Year post here…… https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/12/08/the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year/

And stay tuned…. Christmas makes me sappy so I’m sure there will be another one or two nostalgic posts in the days ahead.

20181221_120442
Holly, jolly and bright…. with a little edge ūüėČ

Tell me… are you ready for Christmas? What do you enjoy most?

Monday Musings

Happy Monday beautiful people! It’s really Sunday evening as I write this, and I’m ¬†finally finding a moment to sit down after a long busy day and catch my breath.

Football has been on all day and of course all my men must keep the sound at a level that resembles being at the actual football game.

When the games are over, the sound comes down, it’s then I’m reminded how nice a quieter house is.

With everyone here I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family…. even if they do have the football games ridiculously loud ūüėČ

Family.

It’s hard to not reflect on how blessed I am with my family. I have an amazing, wonderful husband, great kids, my sons wives, grandkids ( another on the way arriving in the spring!) and my daughters boyfriend who after 2 years of putting up with her ūüėČ is also family.

I’m grateful for who we are as a group. For the love, laughter, silliness and uniqueness of each person.¬† I guess I’ve become even more appreciative in a world where so many families aren’t like that, who are mean spirited and cut throat to one another, where jealousy and petty things take place over the value of relationships. These behaviors are so sad to me.

It just makes me want to hold closer those I love and what we have. I don’t mean “perfection” because not one single person or family is “perfect”… that also is an illusion many try to present…. just learn to love perfectly with not perfect people.

But really though, if you don’t take care of your family, at the end of the day what do you have? The world is a rough place, love those who are yours, over look faults, be patient with weaknesses, set loving boundaries, speak truth,¬†love fiercely and ¬†value the uniqueness of those who are your tribe.

Ok I’m gonna get off my soapbox now ūüėČ

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Speaking of family… for me Christmas and family are closely tied together.

This past week I’ve gotten all my Christmas decorating done and my massive tree all decorated.

All 13 feet of it.

It’s got over 400 lights, 180 feet of silver beaded garland, and 100’s of ornaments.¬†It took pretty much every ornament I have and my 6’0 body hanging precariously off the very top of a 6’0 ladder… but it’s done.

It is really, I think, the most spectacular tree¬†we’ve ever had.

I love turning all the lights off at night and just sitting in the quiet house before I go to bed and just looking at it.

I find those times peaceful as it lets my mind unwind and wander and reflect on so many things. It’s a practice I’ve enjoyed for years and I¬†find simple joy in it.

Here… I’ll let you have a sneak peak at it all….

20181209_213406

20181209_212905
All of the glass ornaments that were my grandmothers and moms go at the top for safe keeping ūüôā

 

20181209_213101
How beautiful is this?

Long before you young whippersnappers had that crazy little Elf on a shelf thing going on, I had this little guy be a part of all my Christmases…which are getting up there now ūüėČ

According to what I was told a long time ago, these little guys came on dish soap bottles back in the dark ages.

20181206_120042

My grandmother was the one who got them ( a green and a red one) the green I retrieved from an old tub of my mom’s where Christmas decorations go to die. Although faded and more worn looking I dragged him out and he has a spot on my primitive toy tree ( I’ll show you later )

The red one comes out every year to quietly perch among the branches of my tree.

I don’t have to do anything with him, move him around or pose him in a bowl of cereal.

He’s just a quiet sentinel marking another Christmas in his family.

I love having things from my childhood past to share with my kids and grandkids. Those things evoke feelings and memories of Christmases long ago and the people I loved who I shared them with.

I hope these traditions continue a long time in my family.

 

But on the topic of trees….

I somehow, in the past few years, have managed to have more than one tree. I’ve got little theme trees that I haven’t been able to resist doing.

A primitive toy tree surrounded by my old rocking horse obsession. A cool black and silver tree that holds all my kids ornaments they lovingly brought home from school projects years ago, a silver tree that holds tons of little glass ornaments that date back to my great grandmother. It’s so vintage looking… I love it.

20171205_230639
This tiny tree is only about 2 feet tall. In a old wood crate it’s surrounded by old glass¬† ornaments who are “wounded” and can’t hang on the tree anymore.

A few years ago I got a pink one. Sorry, I’m a girl and pink is like one of my favorite colors. It’s in my kitchen and it’s all gingerbread and candy themed and my granddaughters adore looking at it.¬† It’s full of whimsical sparkly play candy and garland although I do buy various colored candy canes to add to it.

I think I’ve got like five theme trees around my home… but hey! It’s better than being a crazy cat lady, right??

In other news….

in a busy month with not only usual life activities, but holiday preparations as well it might be tempting to skip your workouts.

May I suggest something short and sweet that also brings a punch ? HIIT (high intensity interval training) is hard work in a short amount of time.

Got 20 minutes?

Here’s an example of one I did last week.

10 push ups

10 burpees

10 jumping squats

20 jumping jacks

20 mountain climbers

30 sit ups

30 second plank hold

Do as may sets as you can in 20 minutes.

It was a cold morning when I did this. I was sweating at the end. I managed to get 5 sets done. I was thinking that didn’t seem like…a lot.. until I realized I had done 150 sit ups in those 5 sets. I do butterfly sit ups with a 25 lb weight plate to make it a little harder.¬† I do a longer hold on my plank as well.

It’s important to remember that you can always modify a workout to your current physical abilities.¬† If you’re stronger, add some weight or push a little harder.

If you are just starting out, reduce reps if you need to and go at an easy pace.

Short, powerful workouts are very effective and if you are limited on time, they offer a high energy boost and get you on your way.

Visit me on Pinterest and find more short workouts on my fitness boards.

Ok and you know I need to leave you with something tasty….

I will also encourage you to maintain healthy eating habits during the festive season of Christmas and all that goes with it however there are going to be tasty treats to eat as well…..

My daughter in law found this recipe and suggested we should try it. We are quite the dessert lab rats around here haha

These are delicious and will probably be added to our list of favorites. Don’t take my word for it, go make it and see what you think.

My cookie baking and candy making will be getting going soon so I’ll share some of my favorites with you in an up coming post ūüôā

So tell me… are you ready for Christmas? How goes the decorating? Are you done shopping yet? Do you have a favorite Christmas item or recipe?

 

 

Monday Musings

December. It’s December ya’ll.¬† How has this happened already ? We were just eating turkey and feeding on pie not so long ago.

We started our December by going to the night Christmas parade this last Saturday. The weather was perfect¬† ( comfy low 60s) and dry. The parade is of course a light parade and all entries have to have lights on them…. yes… even people walking dogs had lights on their sweaters.

I may have rolled my eyes a little haha

The parade is a tradition we’ve had in our family from forever, well since my boys were little.¬† And now¬†I’m taking my grandkids too! We like to hang out by the local bakery as they provide cookies for the kids to decorate… I may be guilty of eating one….

Seriously though it’s a fun and a festive way to start the Christmas season.

parade
This was one of the coolest floats in parade.

The past week I’ve managed to get pretty much all of my decorating done and we got THE most amazing tree the other night.

I love big tall trees. I’ve kinda passed the madness on to my kids. We were out with my son and his family, they had found theirs and we stopped at another place to see if they had any suiting my specifications.

Lo and behold there was this one rather large monster, still wrapped in it’s net. Honestly, I’m not sure how it was still there… it was at least 13 ft tall. We unwrapped it and it instantly exploded to almost triple it’s size. ( gotta inspect it, right??)

My son, at 26, was having more fun than I was assuring me we could get it in the house and that we just “had” to get it.

There’s something about watching my 6’5 son be as excited as a little kid that was more satisfying to me than finding the perfect tree.

While my husband proclaimed we were crazy and telling us it was to tall, we just (ignored him) kept at it, surveyed and inspected it, and decided that indeed, this tree was coming with us.

I won’t lie. It weighed a ton and it was as awkward as anything wrestling it around.

Thank goodness I work out hahaha

Anyway, we got it in. It’s an amazing beast of a tree. It fit … which we gleefully reminded my husband of ūüėČ

The first morning I woke up as soon as I opened my bedroom door all I smelled was the amazing scent of evergreen. Such a beautiful smell… well.. I think it is …

I’m the weirdo in the tree lot walking around shoving my face into a tree and breathing it in.

Honestly, I’m sorry for all you who suffer with allergies this time of year…

20181129_213217
I promise an after pic when it’s done ūüôā¬† It’s it stunning ?¬† The photo doesn’t really convey how huge it is.

I got the lights on it tonight and hopefully, it will be ready to be finished off tomorrow in all of it’s splendor ūüôā

Fun factoid… I used 400 small bulb lights on it….232 feet of light strands.

But I haven’t just been whipping up Christmas cheer everywhere….

Oh no. When you have perfect, gorgeous mild sunny weather in December… you just have to be out in it.

So today I was up and out for a ride. I just wanted to do a long ride, with no agenda or thought of time or speed, This was my first long ride in awhile. I’d been training and kept mainly to what I was focusing on for the race so I hadn’t done many “fun” rides.¬† ( I uh tend to be¬†a bit…focused on my goals ūüėõ )

Today was 24ish glorious miles on a beautiful cool Sunday morning.

20181202_095402
Trust me.. the weather was perfect ūüôā

 

The season of food.

I want to touch on this topic here, and maybe I’ll run with it more in a separate post. I heard someone say the other day that they weren’t worried about losing weight right now¬†because that’s something you did in the “new year”.

Basically, it’s a feeding frenzy all month long for many people.

I don’t think you ever have to wait for a new week, year, day, whatever to start making better choices and choosing a healthier lifestyle.

Those choices are day to day and we can certainly make good choices many days of the month during the holidays.

You do yourself no favors embracing an “eat¬† and drink it all” mentality during these weeks of celebrating.

I mean, really? A random day during¬†the month doesn’t require excess.

However a day making sugar cookies? Uh… I’m down for those… and I fully understand I will enjoy some of the fruits of my labors.

After all who can resist eating a Santa or reindeer cookie??

Have a plan of action.

First I think it’s super important to keep to an exercise regime during the holidays. Don’t skip workouts because you have “so much to do”.¬† Getting a little purposeful movement in will center you and make you feel less stressed. Not only that it is a little extra calorie burn in your day.

Don’t use every day as a reason to over eat. Yes there will be special days to enjoy things, just don’t indulge all the time.

Be mindful of parties. Choose wisely what you eat.¬† I never put stuff on my plate I’m not crazy about.

Take small amounts of what you like, and don’t waste calories on things that don’t matter so much to you.

Don’t go hungry. So often people think they will “save up” for a big party and not eat all day. That really isn’t smart as you will be starving and most likely over eat.

Don’t be restrictive. Seriously, don’t be one of those people who go to a party and watch others eat wishing you could let go of your control and enjoy the moment.

Really, navigating through the holiday season is about mindful eating. Be selective, don’t restrict yourself, eat the things you love in moderation, get in your purposeful exercise, and you can move into a new year lighter or at least having maintained your current weight.

Things you should avoid this holiday season…..

Crazy cleanses to “detox” you before or after holidays. Don’t ok? No detoxes.¬† Just say no. That’s what you’ve got a liver and kidneys for ūüėČ

Holiday weight loss challenges that require weigh in’s, food tracking or other restrictions. If you think you need to participate in that during the holidays maybe Santa should withhold a gift from you ūüėČ

Holiday themed workouts that punish you for eating those sugar cookies … like you ate those and you have to do this many jumping jacks or some other physical activity¬†to work them off.

UGH, You can’t “work off” food from the day before! You can just get back to your sane sensible workout program, eat normally¬†and that is perfect.

OK my rant is over ūüėČ

If you follow a few simple steps you can have your cookies and still fit in your jeans too as you move into 2019.

Your turn.. how do you keep balance during the holidays with eating well, enjoying the holiday treats, and exercise? Do you have tips or tricks to keep from adding holiday pounds?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year boys and girls, and welcome to 2018! As I’m writing this evening on the first day of this new year, with football¬†serving as back round noise, I have many¬†thoughts dancing in my head and a writing partner by my side….

20180101_201026

There is a fire in our fireplace as we are starting the year off with some wicked cold weather. Coffee and soft leggings have been a staple the last few days. In the south, we are not used to low digit weather!

 

20180101_194011

 

Family has been gathered together. We’ve laughed, eaten food and eaten more food. We’ve played games and just hung out a lot enjoying each other.

Hubby has been on vacation for these two weeks and it’s been a fun, laid back and a bit¬† of a lazy time hanging out and doing stuff together.

My thoughts are of the year ahead, the freshness of it, the opportunities and all the new adventures. It is natural for me to look at what I’ve accomplished in the previous year and want to do just… a little bit more… in the upcoming year.

I’m always down for new challenges.

Ah well, I guess I could post the obligatory “new year, new you” stuff. Or the “it’s been an awful year and I’m ready for the next one” or any other sappy mushy quote that’s prevalent right now.

I won’t do that to you.

It is a new year. I’m pretty sure you don’t need to be a “new” you, but if you’re like most of us there might be one or two things you wanna shape up more.

And I never complain about the year gone by because well, first, it’s a year you’ve been given to live and second no one has a year free from difficult things and sails through without any trials.¬† With joy there is sorrow, with triumph there are trials, with pain there is hope, and¬†with difficulties come days of ease.

It all makes up a year in our lives, right?

I’m already brainstorming ideas for this year. I have my new planner set up ( go me) and important info logged in.

Once I get the household returned to normal from Christmas festivities I have plans to work on some more chalk painting projects ( something I got into at the end of this past year) I¬†will also be¬†working on a now (empty) room my newly married son has vacated ( it was named the Batcave but I’m thinking with my new ideas for it, Batcave might not be suitable haha ūüėõ ) I have all my grandparents bedroom furniture so I’m hoping to do something cute and vintage looking in there.

Then of course there are my athletic goals and shenanigans that I’m thinking about. It is hard to not want to challenge myself more after tackling my first duathlon in November. ( read about it here….. https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/12/05/duathlon-journey-the-recap/

That being said, it is once again, on my goal list for 2018. I’m eager to cut my teeth on it¬†once more¬†and improve my skills.

I’m also looking at my first ever actual bike race, a cool 60 miler.

And I really want to get back to some distance running so I’m toying with a spring half marathon.

I’m in my element when I’m focused on training for an event, what can I say?

Right now I’m just ready to get back to my athletic activities. With this month and family, schedule, weather etc it’s been minimal maintenance stuff.

I love all the holiday activities but I’m also ready to get back into my “normal” again.

Anyone else? Yeah, raise your little hand.

I used to worry if I missed some days working out that I’d not want to do it again, that I’d be out of the routine and decide it was easier to not do it.

Not true. I’m eager to get back to hard work. My body feels better when I do workout than when I don’t. My mind is clear and focused when my day starts with some hard work.

Exercise has become a wonderful habit and one I’m grateful to have.

In a way, this enforced rest isn’t bad for me. I know rest allows my body to rebuild and replenish after a solid year of hard work. It’s the mental part of me that struggles with it. Yet I know too, my mind needs rest from it as well.

So I’ve rested. I’ve eaten tasty foods and treats and I’m more than ready to get back to my normal eating, another habit I’ve developed and appreciate having.

I just feel better eating healthy foods. I’m more aware of it than ever when my eating habits differ.

Oh. Speaking of habits.

One of the newest posts I’ll be bringing you is my review on the new paperback version of “Lean Habits For Weight Loss”.¬†¬†I received my copy this week in the mail from Georgie and I’ll¬†be eager to share with you. ¬†I believe this is really the only tool anyone might need for help and encouragement in losing weight. The way to be successful and keep it off is to rebuild¬† bad habits that sabotage your success. To learn to change your thinking and behaviors with food that will lead to permanent weight loss.

20171229_095636
Did some reading on a recent road trip

 

That’s just one topic I’ll be dealing up here on my blog so I hope you check back.

This year is full of promise and new possibilities. I’ll continue to share sane, practical tips and ideas on nutrition and weight loss, diet and book reviews,¬†personal experiments on products to¬†educate you, exercise hints and tips,¬†as well as my athletic shenanigans and real life stuff too.

Tell me what plans you have for the upcoming year. Anything new or exciting? What are you anticipating most?

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

20171201_223904

As the old Christmas song goes… “it’s the most wonderful time of the year….”

This is a disclaimer before you proceed reading anymore :

I’m gonna get all kinds of nostalgic on you so either buckle up and grab a fresh cup of coffee or abandon your computer for higher ground .

You’ve been warned.

I’ve always loved Christmas but I’m pretty sure my mom and grandparents had a lot to do with making that impression on me.

My memories of childhood were of fun, festivities, and family. Of course there were always lots of delicious baked goods and candies, and everything was always beautifully decorated. Christmas music was on and I remember my mom and grandmother singing along with various songs. There were special table linens and candy/cookie trays that were brought out every year to be filled again.

20171206_204153
Speaking of childhood and vintage. How about a couple pics of yours truly age 17 mos. and 6 years. I look thrilled over that baby which I still have…somewhere.

 

Cookies. Can you say… cookies? Of all the ones to be chosen, the cut out cookies still have my heart. All of those fun Christmas shapes in sugar cookie form … is there anything better? That is one thing today my kids all still love doing. Piling in at the kitchen table and decorating trees, Santas, reindeer, angels, sleighs, snowflakes, gingerbread boys and girls. My mom had tons of cool cutters that I enjoy using as well along with the ones I already had.

The season was steeped in many traditions for me.

As a family we always went together and bought a fresh tree. I’m grateful no one had any issues that kept us from having one because to this day it’s one of my favorite things to go do… pick out the biggest tree I can get my paws on… thank goodness I have 12 ft ceilings now! As a child our ceilings were much shorter so we were limited in the height we could drag home.¬† This years specimen comes in right around 11 ft and it smells soooo amazing. Some years the fragrance isn’t as strong, this year, beautiful AND fragrant.

20171201_223623
The photo really doesn’t do it justice

 

No, I don’t mind a real tree, and no I don’t mind cleaning up at the end of the season. It’s all worth it to me.

My children are adults now ( good heavens… I can’t believe that sometimes) and they too continue to expect a real tree and the married ones plan to carry on the tradition.

20171206_201115
I love looking into the tree when it’s lights are the only thing on. It’s still magical to me.

 

So we had the tree covered in bright lights ( remember those big C7 lights you could line a run way with?? I do have those on my tree but they are the more modern ones that stay cool and wont burn the tree down) and family decorations, amazing homemade treats, beautifully wrapped packages, family, special meals, worship service and of course the celebration of Jesus birth.

I simply grew up immersed in the beauty of Christmas, and not just the beauty, the magic too. The magic of waiting expectantly for Santa on Christmas Eve and the inability to fall asleep from excitement. My family always worked to make sure that the magic was a part of Christmas.

My mom was such a child at heart¬†about Christmas till the day she left this earth. I’m afraid I’m no different.¬† I still get excited at Christmas and I have a hard time sleeping sometimes.. only now I’m Santa and my kids and grandbabies get to experience it.

It was a sobering moment to me thinking this year that I’m the only one left to carry on all these traditions that have become precious to me. To pass them on to my children and their families.

Let me say I’m fully aware that Christmas isn’t fun for many, especially when they are acutely aware of loved ones that are missing from their lives.

Nothing brings that loss home more than Christmas time and I can fully speak to that.

In the last 5 years I’ve lost my brother, my mother, and this past year, my dad.¬† At this time of year there are moments that the pain and anguish strike my heart and spirit¬† so hard it almost takes my breath away.

I deeply miss my people.

I miss the ones who shared those long ago memories with me. I miss taking out certain decorations or ornaments and reminiscing about them. Oh, I still do on many¬†items as I share stories of various¬†treasures with my kids but they don’t have the memories associated with it.

In this last year I’ve also¬†been busy cleaning out my parents entire house and going through years of….life. It has to be done but there have been so many days it’s been an agonizing road to walk.¬†¬†There were times¬†I went in with the intent to work and only found myself sobbing on the sofa longing for those I loved to be there again.

However, in the cleaning process I’ve found some beautiful treasures that I have brought home to enjoy and to share with my kids. One thing I finally felt emotionally strong to do was go through the various boxes of carefully wrapped ornaments that had been my mothers and my grandmothers. I tried last year but opening the box that she had last carefully packed away was a bit more than I could handle at the time.

This year, I brought everything out. I laid them all¬†on the table¬†smiling, laughing and sometimes crying looking at all of the years of Christmas treasures in front of me. I pulled precious old ones from the mix, ones of my grandmothers that date back to World War 2.¬† There were treasured delicate glass ornaments that have always gone at the top of tree to protect them, now in my care to treasure. There were silly ones that for some reason I always loved, like these colored glass balls that had big fake eyes and a foam mustache. When my brother and I moved out my mom gave me a blue one and my brother a red one. Two years ago mine fell from the tree and shattered in a million pieces. Yes, I cried.¬† Going through my brothers ornaments I came across the red one… somehow it was like an old friend was back as I settled it into a position on my tree.

20171206_193717
He’s old and not fancy, but I love him. As a child I named him Oscar.

 

 

20171206_193822
One of several from my grandmother that date back to World War 2.

 

Speaking of trees….

I realized that one poor tree, no matter how big, reaches a point of holding all the memories of Christmas past.¬† However, I can have several other trees that are fun or have a theme. Of course my kids might¬†secretly be wondering if I’m turning into a crazy old tree lady… ūüėČ

20171201_223716
I love this little pink tree. It’s fun, whimsical and is my gingerbread/candy tree in my kitchen. I add real colored candy canes to it as well.

 

20171206_193932
The tinsel tree is a new acquisition this year. The tree is new but it’s covered in vintage glass ornaments. The little house in front is actually an old light bulb that my great grandmother used on her tree
20171206_100102
I love the rustic look of all of this. The trunk was a great yard sale find years ago for 15.00. It’s an 1800’s steamer trunk.

 

20171205_230639
I won’t lie. I’m seriously in love with this. I picked up the tiny white tree this year and it’s covered in more vintage glass ornaments. The old wooden coke crate contains many more that were on my grandmothers tree.

 

So many treasures are vintage collectibles now. Not just that, it’s the history they hold as well that means so much to me.

AH! I’m vintage.

Ha well in the life of Christmas decorations when they are up and over 50plus years that’s pretty old. I’m fascinated with the Christmases they have seen and sometimes wonder how they’ve survived so long.

My cardboard Christmas houses, so delicate and fragile and originally only pennies in a dime store are now worth hundreds of dollars depending on the era it came from, style etc.

I am completely enthralled with them. However, my love again, was started as a child when my grandmother would place her little village out with the Barclay skater people. It was one of my most favorite parts of Christmas. I was thrilled when my mother let me have the beat up old village when I found it in the back of the loft long forgotten. I took them home and carefully restored them. It was only when I began digging into their history that I found the ones I grew up with were actually the end of an era of these unique houses. The first ones had been produced in the late 1920’s -early 30’s into the 40’s and 50’s and were last made in the mid 60’s a far cry for the original grandeur they had been crafted in.

Today, I have my grandmothers original set I still put out for that is where my childhood memories are.

But I’ve also carefully collected some beautiful, unique houses by shopping carefully and skillfully on Ebay. There are some I have to look wistfully at and let go as they soar in price zones I won’t participate in.

All of the houses in¬†my collection are¬† 70-80 years old. How they have withstood the test of so many Christmases gone by always amazes me. Some I’ve purchased and carefully done some restoration on. Others, I’ve purchased knowing they will stay “as is” in my collection mainly because the coloring or materials would be impossible to find and replicate now.

20171206_194304
Shhh step into my quiet winter wonderland…

 

20171201_223516
Churches are my favorite pieces. The red windowed one is from the early 1930’s.¬† The one on end hales from the same era. I’ve collected seven unique ones.

 

I wrote a post on them last Christmas, you can learn more reading “Favorite Things Of Christmas”¬† https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/12/22/favorite-things-of-christmas/

I guess I should¬†say for a more modern, trendy girl, I absolutely love and adore vintage Christmas. The new cheap modern day stuff doesn’t have the same appeal to me. I think though, it’s more because my heart is connected to the times gone by with the old items from the past.

But life moves forward, and memories are sweet and dear and keep us connected to those we’ve loved and have been privileged to share the journey of life with. As I’ve decorated this year it has been¬†a sweet treat to incorporate so many things from the past that are old and beautiful with newer things I’ve collected with my family over these past years.

I love being able to create a magical, special season for my family like I knew growing up. It blesses me that they appreciate it so much and enjoy being there. I want them to have memories of special times and special things that they can share with their children.

Traditions. Simple or elaborate I want them to have the history of traditions.

But Christmas is so much more. It’s a time in the year when we should be more mindful than ever of peace,¬†love, and joy. To be mindful of those we hold dear and the treasure that they are to us.¬† To give those gifts freely and generously back to them.¬† To embrace some of the simplicity of the season and not be swooped up in the commercial money train it has become.¬† To enjoy the presence of each other because that isn’t always granted to us.

I hope that you make your own traditions with those you love. I hope you value and embrace the simple things that make Christmas so beautiful and magical. I pray you know the peace and joy that this season is about and that it stays with you all year long.

As I’m concluding this post, and thinking of peace, I can’t help but mention it has been snowing here now for¬†over an hour.¬†I’ve watched big white fluffy flakes tumble from the sky and blow through the air, silently beautiful, peaceful.

It’s kind of a big deal for a girl who lives in south Texas… we rarely ever see snow.

Resized_20171207_222523
Do you wanna build a snowman? My adult sons crafted this big guy.

 

Resized_20171207_192935 (1)
Oh my! Did we get some snow! How beautiful is this?? Our first real snow since 1985. What an exciting day and night it turned into! A bit of a white Christmas for us.

 

 

It’s peaceful and quiet… it’s been reflective for me. I pray you know and experience all of the things that matter most in this Christmas season and that you have eyes of a child to still appreciate the magic and a spirit that receives the peace and hope of the Christ child.

Do you have special traditions or things that make Christmas magical to you? What are your favorite childhood memories?

Holiday Survival Guide

holiday survival

I’m struggling to grasp the fact we are nearly two weeks into October already.¬† Like where has the year vanished to? October heralds the start of all things “holiday” in the commercial realm here.

I’m not sure what it’s like in the rest of the world, but here in the U.S. it’s become sadly common place the last few years for stores to just throw all holidays together like some huge smorgasbord you just go in and pick from.

Why yes, I want to look at Christmas trees and lights while I’m picking out orange and black Halloween candy.

Back in the day when I was a wee little girl ( a really long time ago ha) there was a general appreciation for each holiday. It was recognized and then you moved to the next one. The official start to Christmas was after Thanksgiving and you didn’t go get your tree till December.

I’m remember my grandparents being shocked when the neighbor put theirs up before December one year.

One just didn’t break Christmas rules by putting the tree up to early.

And Thanksgiving, well that’s just about swept under the rug and barely given a nod to. If you’re lucky you may find some turkey napkins and fall leaves squished into a small area on one single aisle.

By the way….Do you know Canada has Thanksgiving in October??? Like they just had it… weird… although I was a little jealous they were already having turkey… but I digress….

This isn’t a post about me whining on how commercialized the “holiday” season (Oct-Dec) ¬†has become or how I wish things were simpler, although I do.

No, this is a little post about having a survival fitness¬†guide for the “holiday season”.

I saw the first meme the other day… you know.. one that’s designed to make you feel like a guilty loser for enjoying foods or treats for the holiday? Get out there and work off your food!

Yeah, I think those are awesome too… not really.

I think they are designed to steal your joy over something that should be fun and celebratory, isn’t that what holidays are about?

Family? Food? Friends? More food?

That’s what life is about.

However, all of us want to navigate through these upcoming months and not look like the Butterball turkey come January.  You really can go through these months and not gain weight, I promise.

When I started on my health journey, it was mid October. I stayed the course all through the rest of that year and when I checked in with my doctor in January I had lost 20 lbs.

Yes, you read that correctly. No, I didn’t starve myself or do without. I ate normal almost all of those days, I enjoyed the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I baked, I ate cookies, I nibbled on my favorite chocolate treats, and I enjoyed the season.

I also stayed true to my exercise at the time, every day. I didn’t treat each day like it was a party that I needed to over eat on, I ate in moderation. I didn’t eat till I was miserable on the actual holiday.

I wore form fitting clothes to remind me of my goals. Crazy I know but it works. Trust me, you are much more aware of your body and how you are eating.

So I want you to have your own personal survival guide

This is gonna look different for all of us. It will vary by our goals, our lifestyle and what we are trying to achieve. I’m assuming, you really don’t want to add any extra weight to you.. that’s why you are here.

First of all, if you fall in the camp of already throwing the towel in and proclaiming “I’ll start in January!”

Stop. It.

Seriously, stop thinking like that. There are only a few days in these upcoming months that would be out of the norm for eating purposes. You have days of normal life going on there are no reasons to toss in the towel and view these months as an eating binge.

And… I’ve just told you I lost weight through these months so I know it’s possible. Either that or you maintain your weight.

Next, exercise.

If you aren’t yet at least get out and start walking. Regardless, you want to make time in your day for that. It not only helps with the weight issue more importantly it keeps you sane and focused on days that get busy with all the hustle of the holidays.

One of my fav things I’ve done every Thanksgiving since I started getting myself in shape, is getting up early for a sunrise run.¬† It centers my mind on what the day is about, let’s me think of all I’m grateful for and blessed with, burns off some calories and energizes me for the long busy day I’ll have as Chief cook and Dessert Master ūüėõ

Food.

Oh there are so many delicious things to sample aren’t there? And pie. Glorious, delicious pie.

I eat the things I love the most. I don’t worry so much about the other stuff. I don’t eat it because “it’s there”. I feel no obligation to eat everything that’s put out, you shouldn’t either. If you can’t really stand Grandma’s sweet potato casserole with gobs of marshmallows, for heavens sake, leave it behind!

I don’t feel deprived or left out. I have what I want in small portions.. with so much food available it doesn’t take much to fill a plate.¬† I detest that over full feeling so I really try and keep away from doing it.

You need to make your plan now

~ determine what you will and won’t do. This puts you in charge and not just being bounced along day to day,

~ on the actual day be mindful of how you eat. Listen to your body. Trust me, there will be food for days so you don’t need to eat it all at once.

~ don’t over eat or eat “bonus” foods on random days. Eat normally and respect your decisions you’ve made.

~ don’t feel obligated to eat everything that’s put out. Be selective in what you want.

~ do try and limit alcohol and keep your water intake up.

~ do commit to daily exercise.

~ do enjoy your family traditions and foods. Don’t get hung up on how many calories are in things.

~ do remember, you can’t “work off” things you’ve already eaten.¬† It’s done. Move forward and work out sensibly.

~ do listen to your body. If it’s telling you “enough” then learn to stop. Like I said, food will be around for days ūüėČ

~finally, do¬†set a small goal for yourself to achieve at the end of the season. If you have something you’re mindful of, you will be more likely to stay focused on it.

Make sure you check back in the upcoming weeks for a few more tips and motivation to keep strong and fit through this season.

With some planning, awareness of yourself and each day, you can move through these months enjoying yourself, staying positive, and maybe even dropping a few pounds in the process.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to stay on track during the holidays?