Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My Top Three Books For 2018 & GIft Guide

I know 2018 isn't quite over, but I wanted to go ahead and share my top three books for the year in case you had a bookworm on your Christmas list this year. I've even thrown in a "Bookworm's Gift Guide" at the end of this post to help with ideas for that certain Bookie on your list.

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell || I shared with you a few months ago about this book and that it reminded me so much of Wonder and A Man Called Ove - both of which were on my top 2017 list last year. I recently recommended it to Alise's reading teacher and she loved it, too, so it most definitely is at the top of my list for 2018. This is the coming of age tale of Sam Hill who is born with red eyes and that is how he becomes known as Sam Hell. I don't think this book would be considered Christian genre, but there are definite overtones, which, being of the faith, I could appreciate. How Sam comes to terms with his disability throughout his life is so heart warming. This book made me laugh and cry, all the feels. A true must read.
The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell: A Novel Kindle Edition
A Month In Tuscany || There is no way that my first five star novel of 2018 wouldn't show up in my top three for the year. I. LOVED. this. book! I'm not a romance reader; I'm a novel nerd, but this book showed up in my social media feed last Spring and so I took a chance on an unknown author and I am so glad I did! Ren and Lizzy are total opposites that meet on an airplane flight. Ren is a rock star and Lizzy, whose marriage is nearly over, end up together in Italy. The evolution of their relationship is the premise of this book and is truly a beautiful love story with of course, a happy ending. 
The Kind Worth Killing || I'm not quite sure what my fascination with airplanes was this year, but this Peter Swanson novel is my number three favorite book for 2018. This little bit more racier read is a psychological thriller that had me on the edge of my seat not knowing who to trust. Ted and Lily meet on a layover in an airport bar.  After one too many drinks, Ted confesses to Lily that he wants to kill his wife and Lily, a total stranger, agrees to help him. A dark and mysterious must read.
And so, for the book worm on your list, here are a few gift giving ideas for Christmas. For me, personally, I'm still on the fence about the new Kindle, since I use my phone so much to read, but give me a glass of wine and a nice, warm blanket and I'm good to go. Oh, and can you throw in a slow crackling fire, too?

Monday, December 10, 2018

How Our Family Was Scammed (Already!) This Season

It wasn't even December yet and we had already been a victim of a scam! Are you surprised? I wasn't because scammers are getting even more brazen and smarter with their new age deceitfulness. Buyers beware! 

If you have a gamer in your house, then you already know that the new Black Ops game made it's debut in November (Alise is a closet gamer, so that's the only reason I know these things!). One Sunday after church, Wayne and I were returning a Red Box movie when Alise noticed that the new version was available at the kiosk so we made the purchase.

We hadn't even pulled out of the parking lot when Alise started hollering, "We've been scammed! We've been scammed!"

Lo and behold, she was holding the CD holder with no disk. Only a PAPER COPY of what the disk looked like.
Of course, Wayne threw the brakes right then and there, went back to the kiosk, got Miss Red Box's phone number and reported the incident. Miss Red Box was very courteous about refunding our money AND gave us a voucher for a free movie. But the craziest thing is, she had us re-insert the game into the kiosk! Wayne asked not once, not twice, but THREE times if she was sure he needed to re-insert the empty disk and Miss Red Box said yes, because the owner of the kiosk would have to suffer the damage of a stolen Black Ops game. And that's what we did! We certainly didn't want to be charged extra for returning a fake disk. So I guess the next sucker that came behind us got an empty Black Ops disk, too.

While Wayne was on the phone with Miss Red Box, I couldn't help but giggle about the situation. In my mind, it was some kid who came up with this well devised plan and it worked. And probably more than once! I wondered if the person would be caught? How would Miss Red Box get back her stolen disk? But the more I thought about it, the more it saddened me to think that we now live in a world that has stooped so low as to steal video game CDs right out of the hands of Miss Red Box! 

Have you recently been a victim of a scamming incident? 

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Progressive What?

Last week, I had my annual eye exam. Am I the only person that has to psych myself up to go to the doctor? I HATE going to the doctor and the only time someone doesn't have to twist my arm about going is when I'm dying on my death bed. Which, lucky for me, doesn't happen that often, but I hate yearly appointments and I know, I know. It's for my own benefit. I get it. I have been blessed with great health and I do not take that blessing for granted, especially after Wayne's heart attack and other health issues that my friends are going through. 

Having said that, I found myself sitting in the hot seat at the optometrist's office with those huge black owl eyes over my own trying not to wrinkle my forehead as I tried to read the letters on the screen. The fact is, I'm blind, y'all. This Girlie has worn glasses since the fourth grade. I joked with my friends that it was all those late nights of playing electronics or reading by the light of a flash light under the covers as a kid growing up, but the truth is, my nearsightedness is hereditary. My Grandfather had eye issues and I remember my dad driving my grandparents to New Orleans so that Papaw could have eye surgery. He actually lost the sight in his left eye. I'll have to ask Daddy what exactly his diagnosis was, but I'll never forget the summer I got to go with them. It was my first time to visit New Orleans and I felt so grown up and special because I was with my dad. My first Daddy/Daughter road trip!

I had to get my eyes dilated, too. Did you know that up until a few years ago, I had never had my eyes dilated? I was able to talk the nurse into only giving me a "half dosage" of the dilating drops (I drove myself and had to go back to work) and as I sat in the chair waiting on the doctor, without my contacts or glasses, everything blurred, I was reminded of the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:7, For we walk by faith, not by sight. I don't know about you, but I struggle sometimes with putting my faith in action and trusting in situations that I don't understand or can't see a solution for. But then I remember God's goodness and how He has never disappointed me. So, so thankful for the grace to walk by faith and not my own blurry mess.

After the exam, it was time to order my contacts, but the sweet lady thought I wanted glasses. She said, "Dr. M has approved for you to have progressive lens." Wha-wha-WHAT did she just say?" Seriously, I asked her to say it again! PROGRESSIVE LENS?? Do I look old enough for progressive lens?! No offense to those of you that do wear them, but geez!  I wasn't ready for that! Totally blindsided by what she said and a very "in your face" reminder to me that getting old ain't fun. So, I ordered my contacts and pulled my hyper sensitive sight self together and went to the car to call Wayne. "Do you know what she said to me?" 

Merry Christmas to those of you that have perfect vision or only need glasses for reading. May you continue to walk by Faith and not by sight always. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Tasty Tuesday: Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

Merry Christmas, Loves!

Today I'm sharing an easy peasy recipe that I recently took to a Friendsgiving. I know what you're thinking! You're thinking, you just shared with us yesterday about maintaining your weight during the holidays and now you hit us with a dish like this! Am I right? Look, I have to be all things to all people. Remember, it's called, moderation

So the party was scheduled for the Friday after Thanksgiving, and thinking that everyone would still probably be in a food coma, I decided to take an appetizer that was simple and yet "fallish," too. Unbeknownst to me, we ended up sharing my dish as dessert because apparently we WEREN'T in a food coma, and instead, we were suffering from much needed refueling from Black Friday shopping! Ha! After diving in to some delicious gumbo, we devoured this yummy  recipe as a dessert with apple slices and crackers. There may have been a few glasses of wine or Southern Bourbon Slush consumed, too (Not me!  Not a bourbon girl and I've warned off alcohol for the holidays). 

Don't think I'm crazy, but I'm not a fan of the block of cream cheese with some kinda sauce/jelly/whatever poured over it. So the fact that I would even decide to make something that involved a whole block of cream cheese with something poured over it is highly surprising. But y'all! It's caramel! And it's got crushed Health Bar sprinkled on top! What more could you ask for? 
Okay, I know.  The Heath Bar crumbles are missing in this picture, but that's because SOMEBODY ATE MY HEATH BARS for the second helping of this appetizer!! I didn't take a picture of the ORIGINAL dish at the Friendsgiving and when I re-created it for SUPPER for Wayne and Alise last Thursday night (because that's how I roll by the time Thursday nights arrive), my Heath Bars were G-O-N-E! So, they missed out on the extra deliciousness that that particular candy makes! So I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't forget the Heath Bars!  Here's this yummy recipe and I promise it will be a huge hit at your next holiday party! 

Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

8 oz cream cheese
caramel topping
apples, any variety
2 Heath Bar candy bars

Drizzle caramel topping over cream cheese and on the sides of platter. Crush Heath Bar candy and sprinkle over top and sides of cream cheese. Serve with apples or crackers. 

Monday, December 03, 2018

Tips To Maintain Your Weight During The Holidays

I know, I know. Thanksgiving is over and I'm a little late to the table with this post, but my dear blog friend, Lisa, who blogs over at Coast to Coast (and who I recently got to meet IN THE FLESH on our trip to Nashville, so go say, HI!) posted last week about this cute little poncho that covers the fact that you may have had to unbutton your pants for Turkey Day and that reminded me that I never finished writing this post. And I do believe that was the longest sentence in the history of blogging.

If you've been following me for a while, then you know that I've been on a weight loss journey since the last week in February 2018. Why the last week in February? Well, that was our week of Spring Break and that was the week I put on my tennis shoes for the first time in about two years, and started hitting the pavement. I wanted to have enough energy and stamina to be able to do all the necessary walking on our trip to Disney in May. Two weeks after Disney, Wayne had a heart attack and my (our!) eating habits changed even more to the better.

And now it's the holidays and what's an appetizer-loving, sweet-loving, wine drinking, Christmas party girl like me supposed to do in order to NOT gain back some of those unwanted pounds? Well, you're in luck because today I'm sharing my personal plan to maintaining my weight during the holidays!
Water Wagon || Trust me. I know how difficult it is to drink water. I've only been on the wagon since April and as of today, I'm getting pretty darn close to falling off! I've managed to let my beloved Diet Coke sneak back in my busy life. But each day is a new opportunity and it's about making the better choice for my skin, my mood, and my weight. I just feel better when I'm drinking water. And as for wine, I've become a tee-totaler. Who needs those extra calories? Think before your pour, Friends.

Sneak In Exercise || This summer and early fall, I had all the time in the world to walk. But now it's basketball season and my routine has been interrupted for Alise's games and practice pick up times. Mommin' ain't easy, y'all, and that's why it's important to still get in those exercise times. I'm finding out that I have to rearrange my walking time to fit our schedule and that even twenty minutes instead of forty-five still count. Two days instead of four days still count. Walking weekends now (which I didn't do alot during the summer as I counted those as my "off days") still count. Sneak it in whenever you can.

Eat Small Snacks || I use to not believe in the snacking theory. I just saw myself eating more: snacking AND eating at meal time! But eating smaller meals and snacking on a palm-sized nutritious  snack during the day really does help control hunger.  Choose your snacks wisely.

One spoonful, One plate || Notice I did not say "heaping" spoonful. I've started using smaller plates at home for myself to help with portion control. All those small baby bowls from Alise's toddler days (and that I'm embarrassed to say that I still have...) have come in quite handy for measuring smaller food sizes. At parties this holiday season, have just one plate (not platter size) of food and go ahead and add dessert so you're not tempted to go back for more. Portion control is the absolute hardest for me and it's even worse at Christmas parties because everything just tastes so darn good!

Make Good Choices || I was recently reminded of the 80-20% rule, which means that you eat healthy 80% of the time and whatever you want the other 20% of the time.  I honestly don't think 80% is a nice, well-rounded percentage for this peri-menopausal mama! Maybe more like I need to eat healthy 95.637% of the time. But in all honesty, maintaining your weight during the holidays comes down to making good choices. I ask myself all the time, "How much longer will I have to walk if I enjoy another piece of pizza or dessert?" If it's not worth it, or I don't have the extra exercise time, then I tell myself, "maybe next time." I'm a big fan of "next time" because that just puts off the tempting choice. 

I hope these five tips will help you make it through the Christmas season without gaining those unwanted pounds. I personally will just be happy to maintain through the holidays and pick up with those never ending last four pounds in January. 

Merry Christmas!