health · Life · Seasonal · Weightloss

My Resolutions: Starting 2017 on the Right Foot!

Most of us make them, hellbent on making the new year mean a new you. Resolution are a tradition of second chances and fresh starts. This year I know I will be making my fair share of them. I want to take advantage of the new year’s opportunities and make 2017 the year that 2016 should have been.

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Firstly, my biggest resolution is to continue on my weight loss journey. I plan on stepping it up by making small changes to my lifestyle. I resolve to workout at least once a day and go on a walk as well. I also resolve to stick to my eating plan, the 21 Day Fix. The 21 Day Fix teaches you about portion control and making healthy choices for 21 days at a time to create new habits. I find that this plan really works. Learn more about it here.

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I also want to focus on my relationships more. I want to become a better listener and make myself more available to the people I love. I rely so heavily on them, I want to make sure that they can do the same with me.

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Lastly, I am making some resolutions about my blog as well! I am going to be posting more frequently and become more organized with my blogging. Hopefully these changes will lead to positive results! Let me know what you want me to blog about in the comments.

You can read about how to keep and achieve your own resolutions this New Year, here.

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Life · Monthly Health Check In · Seasonal

2016, That’s a Wrap!

Today we celebrate and ring in the New Year. Today is also a time of reflect on the year that has passed and what it has brought us. The ups and the downs, the good and the bad. My 2016 was filled with both. I laughed a lot and cried a lot. I tried new things and had new experiences. Today, I want to share some highlights from my year.

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This year I got to spend a large amount of time with family. I am so grateful for that. I got the opportunity to travel to visit my “sister-in-law” in Massachusetts and my aunt in New Hampshire. Along with many other fun visits with other members of my family, I’m so grateful for all the time this year I got to spend bonding with the people that mean so much to me.

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This year, in March, Geoffrey had the final surgery on his left ankle, trying to fix complications from previous surgeries due to the original diagnosis of Osteochondritis dissecans. After a long overnight stay in the hospital, post op, we returned home where he needed constant care, requiring me to stay with him for eight weeks through his recovery.

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Also, this year, Geoffrey’s family adopted a new dog named Beau! I went with them to pick him up and he was mats and dirt, but we could already tell that he was a sweetheart. On the long ride home from the pick up spot, he nuzzled both Geoffrey and I and actually crawled up into Geoffrey’s lap! We got him home and immediately brushed him to get out as many knots as we could and the amount of hair that came off could have made a whole other dog. After that he was ready to come inside and was instantly at home. We are so happy to welcome this big furry ball of love into the family and so happy that Mr. and Mrs.L have finally found the dog for them!

 

We added another member to the family this year. My Aunt Pam and Uncle Dan welcomed baby Tobias Connor Goodenough on September 5th at 10:54pm, at 6.77lb, 49cm. He is a beautiful baby boy and is getting so big so fast! I’m so excited to have baby cousins in the family and to get to be a big cousin. I so grateful to have Toby and his sisters in my life.

 

As I mentioned before, this year I got the amazing opportunity to do some traveling! I wrote about it previously here and here. It was a wonderful trip and the first time I’ve gotton to travel with my boyfriend, Geoffrey. We had so much fun!

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This year also held a lot of personal opportunities for me. In September, I started this blog to chronicle my weight loss and the ups and downs of that and my battle with mental health. I also became vegan this year around August. In late November, I became a Beachbody Coach. Beachbody has helped me lose 30 plus pounds and becoming a coach grants me the opportunity to help others achieve their own health goals and dreams. I am so excited to get out there and help others!

 

I also started a new hobby this year. Hiking the Pennypack Trail! I love being outside and getting some alone time to think on the trails. I get to take beautiful pictures and see amazing things all while getting in some great exercise!

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2016 wasn’t all wonderful, however. This year we lost a dear family friend, Sharon Lyew. This February, she succumbed to complications of diabetes and heart disease. Sharon was someone who was always a part of my life. She taught me to love crafting at a young age when she would come over and teach me how to make jewelry and other things. She babysat me when I was a baby and we have so many funny stories to tell of her. We think of her often and hold her close in our hearts.

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Sharon and I.

 

So much has come together to make up 2016. So much joy, sadness and triumph. 2016 was a jam packed year. I worked hard, accomplished much, and grew as a person. I hope 2017 holds just as much opportunity for growth and change as 2016, just as much joy, and if it brings sadness, that I may learn from it.

 

What are your favorite memories from 2016? What are your hopes for 2017?

 

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Depression · health · Life · Mental Health · Monthly Health Check In · Vegan · Weightloss

November, That’s A Wrap!

I know I’m late posting this but the past few weeks have been hectic for me. The last several months have been difficult for me, you can read more about that here and here. This month, unfortunately, was just as difficult. I’m getting pretty tired of writing about how hard of a time I have been having lately but I feel like it is important to be honest. Battling depression and weight issues is not a straight path, as I’ve been learning, it has many ups and downs.

This month I was lucky enough to go on an amazing eleven day vacation with my boyfriend to visit his sister and then my aunt, in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I managed to lose 9 pounds, even though I was on vacation! You can read more about my vacation here and here!

However, once I got home I plateaued, and didn’t lose any weight the rest of the month.

It’s not all about weight, however. I’m a bit disappointed in myself. I definitely didn’t live my best life for most of November. I have been having such a difficult time with other aspects of my health that I never anticipated when I started this blog. When I started writing this blog I felt on top of the world, it is amazing how quickly you can fall back to the bottom.

I try everyday to make the best decisions that I can but because of the adversity I have been facing, it has been very difficult. I’m not giving up though. I’m determined to get back on my feet and get my health under control, in all aspects.

I have so many goals I want to reach. I’m working towards so much. I just need to get a hold on my depression again before I can step forward.

There are some positive things to report this month!

On November 23rd I officially became a Beachbody coach! You might be wondering what that is. A Beachbody coach is someone who helps people reach their own health and fitness goals. I’m so excited to start this new chapter in my life. I am so passionate about my own health, I can’t wait to share that passion with others. The thought of making a positive impact on other people’s lives fills me with so much joy!

I also had an amazing Thanksgiving with my family in Mechanicsburg, PA! My cousin Elizabeth cooked a beautiful dinner and provided lots of yummy vegan options for me! I really appreciated the thought that went into making sure I had something to eat as well.

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How was your November? What do you have planned for December?

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Life · Uncategorized

Thankful Thursday: Our Trip Part 2

For my second Thankful Thursday post, I would like to take a moment to thank my Aunt Susan and Uncle Tom for having us stay with them in New Hampshire. I’m so thankful for their hospitality and kindness while we were with them. Geoffrey and I have never traveled together before, so this was a real adventure for us. We had so much fun in New Hampshire, it is absolutely stunning there! There are so many beautiful things to see, there is no way you could see it all in one visit. I cant wait to visit New Hampshire again!

My aunt was gracious enough to pick us up from Chel’s house in Massachusetts. From there we drove to Boston to pick up my cousin Alyssa from the airport. We were lucky to be visiting at the same time as she was so we got to spend some time together! We decided from there to spend the afternoon sightseeing in Boston. We went to Quincy Market and had an amazing lunch. I had Bubble Tea for the first time! Then we went to the Holocaust Memorial. The memorial is six towers, each representing an internment camp and the  Jewish lives lost. Parts of the towers are inscribed with the numbers forcibly tattooed on every Jewish person in the camps.

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2,280,960 of these numbers cover the towers.

I felt overwhelmed with grief and sadness while walking through the memorial. It wasn’t sightseeing, it was eye opening, thought provoking, and a reminder of the conversation that needs to be on-going. A memorial that depicts such a hateful time in our history is something that shouldn’t be forgotten, especially now when hate seems to be spreading like wildfire through our own country.

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Always, remember.

Afterwards we wandered through The North End and Long Warf of Boston. We took some beautiful photos at The Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.

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From there it was time to make our way back to my Aunt Susan’s home in New Hampshire. We had a long drive ahead of us but after a long day in the car, we made it to our destination. We ate at a Mexican restaurant (with great Vegan burritos) for dinner and then spent the rest of the night unpacking and relaxing. The next day we woke up fresh and ready to go. We spent the day in Conway with my cousin Alyssa. We went to the shops and met her friend for lunch at a nice pub and then did some more shopping and sightseeing! That night, Alyssa and I went on a walk down to the lake right down the street from my Aunt’s house. It was absolutely beautiful!

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The mountains from Conway.

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The next day my cousin Alyssa went on a big hike with her dad through the mountains. We did some sightseeing on the way to go pick them up and had a bonfire and some great food afterwards. It even started to snow lightly in the dark over the fire.

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On our last day in New Hampshire, we had lunch with my aunt and uncle, did some shopping and went to Castle in the Clouds to look at the view even though it was closed for the season. It was a nice calm way to end our trip and we had plenty of time that night to pack and prep for our big train ride home the next day.

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Shopping in Mill Falls!
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The view from Castle in the Clouds.

The next morning we woke up early and got all of our bags in the car and made the long drive to the train station in Providence, Rhode Island. Once we got there we said our goodbyes, which was hard, and made our way into the station. Since the Septa strike had only just been settled, our train was packed! Geoffrey and I couldn’t even sit together for the long train ride home. I spent a good portion of the ride working on my computer and listening to an audio book. On the bright side, since we left at a later time than our previous train ride, there was daylight outside and we could enjoy the views from the train windows. After what seemed like forever, we were home! In Philadelphia! My dad picked us up at 30th Street Station and I gave him a huge hug. I had an amazing 11 day trip but I certainly  missed my family and my home. Our trip was amazing, we had so much fun on our first trip together as a couple and I cant wait to travel more!

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Life · Thankful Thursday · Uncategorized

Thankful Thursday: Our Trip Part 1

   I know I missed the first Thursday of the month but, I was traveling from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. I wanted to take some time this month to stop and really think on what I am thankful for. After all, with Thanksgiving fast approaching, now is the time for gratitude and appreciation. This week, since I’m just getting home from my eleven day vacation, I want to say how thankful I am for The Martinkas for offering their home to my boyfriend and I so we could enjoy a nice long vacation.

Our Trip Part 1

   Our trip started on Thursday October 27th when we hopped a very early train. We stayed up all night to make sure we were tired for the train ride and slept through most of it. Our train left 30th Street Station in Philadelphia at 5:15am. We arrived in Providence, Rhode Island just after 10:30, a little late but that was okay.

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Geoffrey and I at 30th Street Station.

Geoffrey’s sister, Chel, picked us up at the station and we drove to her house in Massachusetts. We got to visit with her, her husband Dave, and her daughters Addie, and Millie. It was wonderful to spend so much time with them and get so much quality time with the girls. We got to spend Halloween with them and do some fun activities with Addie and Millie. We got so many great photos!

Millie’s Dance Class 

   Millie takes an amazing dance class at Bellani Maternity. They offer great classes and have an outstanding shop full of unique things for kids and moms and they also offer a variety of organic products.

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Millie takes a selfie!

 

The Girls Love Uncle Geoffrey 

   Addie and Millie are such great girls. They are so loving. They formed a special bond with their Uncle Geoffrey this trip. They were at his side at all times, constantly asking for “Uppas” and giving hugs and kisses. It was so cute to see him get on the floor to play with them and cuddle with them on the couch.

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Cuddling on the couch watching a movie.

 

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Reading bedtime stories.

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Addie “Uppas”
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Millie “Uppas”
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Millie waving at a passing car.

 

The Halloween Parade

   One of the fun things we got to do with the girls was go to a Halloween Parade in Pawtuxet Village, Rhode Island. It is a quaint little town and all of the shops were handing out candy to the kids. We saw so many great costumes, like a family dressed as President Obama, Michelle Obama and their secret service! The girls had a blast collecting candy and we had a great time with them!

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Roar!

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Hiking

   Chel and Dave have an amazing park right around the corner from them, with a playground and woods to explore. So we decided one day, as a family, to take a hike through the woods. I love hiking, so it was great to do something I love with the people I love.

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Pumpkin Picking and Carving

   The day before Halloween we went to Attleborough Farms to buy some pumpkins and that night we carved them! I loved experiencing Halloween traditions with my nieces and seeing them embrace the holiday spirit. We saved the pumpkin seeds and baked them to eat as a yummy snack! They pumpkins turned out great and we had a lot of fun.

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Auntie and the girls!
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The finished pumpkins.

Halloween!

   Halloween was great! The girls dressed as baby jaguars or as they say jag-waters. We went trick-or-treating and watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Nightmare Before Christmas. With the girls curled up with us on the couch, Millie with Geoffrey and Addie with me, it was a perfect Halloween.

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Waiting for Trick-or-Treaters!
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Out Trick-or-Treating.

The King and I

   Chel was gracious enough to bring me to a show at the Providence Performing Arts Center. The show was breathtaking, from the intricate sets and costumes, to the beautiful singing.The show was like nothing I’ve ever seen before and I’m so grateful to have been able to go.

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Providence Performing Arts Center

 

Our Goodbyes

    After 6 days with The Martinkas it was time to move on to the next part of our trip. We had so much fun and it was hard to say goodbye. All our bags were packed and ready to go but we weren’t. Through tears and hugs we managed to say farewell and start on our journey to New Hampshire.

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Geoffrey and Chel.
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Chel and I! Chel has a blog at aisforadelaide.com

We had an amazing time with Chel, Dave, Addie and Millie. Hopefully we started a new tradition of spending Halloween together and we can’t wait to visit again!

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crafting · DIY · Seasonal · Uncategorized

Prepping Acorns for Crafts

Seasonal crafting is one of my favorite pastimes. I love collecting things I find in nature on my hikes and including them in arts and crafts. I always keep an eye out for beautiful things to pick up when I’m out in nature. Fall is one of the best times for that. With all of the colorful falling leaves and the abundance of acorns and pinecones to collect, you can grown quite the collection quickly for crafting. However, if you are going to use something from nature in your crafts, which I highly recommend, you absolutely need to preserve it. I already wrote about how you can preserve Fall leaves here, but pinecones and acorns need to be baked if you are going to bring them into your house. This prevents mold from growing and kills any unwanted guests that might be hiding inside. Below I’ll explain the process for preserving acorns for crafting, which can also be applied to pinecones.

Step One:

First of all, collect some acorns! Make sure you aren’t picking up acorns with cracks or holes, these aren’t good for crafting and holes in an acorn are a sign of bugs! Also be sure not to pick up green acorns, those aren’t ripe yet and are more likely to mold because they carry more moisture in them. You can collect just acorn caps, there are some great crafts out there for them!

 

Step Two:

Now that you’ve collected your fair share of acorns, it is time to clean and rinse them! Put all of your acorns in a colander and rinse them under lukewarm water. After you’ve rinsed all of the dirt off of your acorns, place them in a bowl filled with water and let them soak for an hour to remove any remaining dirt.

Pro-Tip: If you do not bake your acorns soon after collecting them, you risk the possibility of worms hatching. Don’t risk it!

 

Step Three:

Now that you’ve soaked your acorns, it is time to dry them. Remove your acorns from the water and place them on a towel and allow them to dry for an hour or so.

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Step Four:

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Arrange the acorns on a cookie sheet and place in the oven.

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Step Five:

Turn your acorns every 30 minutes and bake until they turn a deep brown, about 2 hours.

Step Six:

Remove acorns from the oven and allow them to cool completely before using them. Once they are cool, go ahead and start crafting!

 

For Pinecones:

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  • Collect some pinecones!
  •  Preheat oven to 200 degrees and place pinecones on a cookie sheet.
  •  Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Allow a day to cool before crafting!

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Examples of crafts with Acorns and Pinecones!

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crafting · DIY · Seasonal · Uncategorized

Fall Leaves Canvas Art!

The most characteristic part of Fall for me is the changing of the leaves! The falling leaves are the embodiment of Autumn. So, for my first craft, I thought the perfect project would be to show everyone how to preserve the beautiful colors and shapes of the leaves, and display them in your home. For this project we’ll collect leaves and make a unique wall art display for your home!

What You’ll Need:

  • Iron
  • Wax paper
  • Leaves
  • Canvases
  • Paint/Color of your choice
  • Mod Podge
  • Brushes
  • Paper Towels

Step One:

Get outside and collect some leaves! Pick ones that have vibrant colors and that aren’t dried out yet. Collect as many that catch your eye as you can, since you’ll need a lot for this project (at least 30 decent sized leaves).

Step Two:

If your leaves are wet from rain or dew, sandwich them between paper towels to dry them off for about an hour.

Once you have enough dry leaves, place them in between two sheets of wax paper. Place paper towels on either side of the wax paper to protect your iron and your surface from the melting wax. Coating your leaves in wax and heating them lightly with an iron helps eliminate moisture in the leaf and seal in the color.

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Set your iron to the satin setting and delicately iron the leaves till they have a thin coating of wax on both sides.

Remove the leaves from in between the wax paper. Let cool for 30 minutes.

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Step Three:

Now that you have sealed your leaves in wax, it’s time to coat them in Mod Podge!

Brush the top side of your leaves with one coat of Mod Podge, don’t worry if it looks like your glue isn’t adhering, its just having trouble sticking to the wax, but its still doing its job.

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Example of the first coat of Mod Podge.

Once the top sides of your leaves are dry, flip, and repeat with the backsides of your leaves. This layer of Mod Podge will keep the leaves from deteriorating.

Pro-Tip: If you want your leaves extra flat, press them in between some heavy books for a few hours after following all the above steps. You can add a full tea kettle on top for some extra weight!

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Your leaves should look like this when your all done!

Step Four:

Purchase canvases at your local art supplier Micheals. Choose sizes that go well together and remember to always find the best deals. I happen to prefer Micheals as I can use coupons. Try to go when they are having a sale.

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Some Wall Art Ideas!

Once you have purchased your canvases, pick a base color to paint them! It can be anything you want, I chose brown to match my existing decor and to bring out the colors in the leaves. However, you can pick a statement color like teal or yellow!

 

After deciding on a base color, paint your canvasses. It may take a few coats as my canvases took 3 coats to get the deep brown I was looking for.

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Step Five:

Now that your canvases are painted and your leaves are prepped, its time to put them together.

Plan out your pattern with your leaves before you start gluing. When you’ve found a design you like, paint the backs of your leaves with Mod Podge and glue them down to your canvases. Allow them to dry for an hour or two. If your leaves aren’t flat against the surface, wait for the the Mod Podge to dry, lay down something plastic like Ziploc bags or saran wrap, and then place some heavy books on top.

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Once the leaves have glued to your canvases, paint an even layer of Mod Podge over the entire surface, even the sides. This will give everything a nice finished look and keep the leaves pressed down.

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Don’t worry if your leaves hang off the edge, you can trim off the excess when everything is dry.

You can even add extra layers of Mod Podge if you feel like you need to, just allow them to fully dry before adding the next layer.

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 Pro-Tip:  If you want to get extra fancy and make your project really last you can add a layer of Acrylic Paint Sealer over the whole project. Be sure your entire work surface is covered (I use empty trash bags as work mats) and that you ventilate the area after using the spray.

Once your Mod Podge is dry you can hang your new art work and admire it all season long!

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