Goals Check-up: September Edition

Faithful Reader, did you think I was trying to sweep my New Year’s resolutions under the carpet never to check in again much less attend to them in my personal life? Well, when my computer went off the deep end, I just struggled to get posts up, much less posts that I believe require such attention to detail like these updates.

So. Here I am stepping back into the arena and updating my progress on my New Year’s resolutions. In an effort to be completely transparent,  for most of them I have fallen off the wagon and not only fallen off the wagon but set up shop on the roadside and waved goodbye while the wagon train went on without me. But. You know what happens when you fall off the wagon, you just have to get back on and do the best that you can.

I started the year with 11 resolutions. It is the beginning of September and here is where I stand and what I intend to do from here.

1. Drink More Water… yeah, I have not drank nearly enough water. I drink hella amounts of decaf tea and rehydrate- AdvoCare’s better version of Gatorade. I’m drinking a glass of water right now. Cheers to getting back on the wagon!

2. Exercise 3-4 times a week- I didn’t do any of that this summer. However, I got out the level 2 Can You 24 workout video week before last and have been trying to get that done 3 times a week. It is no joke! It is amazing how good I feel about myself when I exercise! Exercise is not something like I just enjoy doing- I like to ride bikes and I like to dance and I don’t mind walking when it’s not so hot you can cook eggs on the pavement- but, that pretty much wraps up the exercising I like to do. All the other, is a chore to me. But, I am resolved to get back on the train and get on with program.

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3. Meal Planning- yeah, that went out the window! I knew in January that I would especially struggle with this one this summer. I didn’t really struggle with it because I didn’t really even bother with it! I will say that even though I didn’t do any meal planning, we still managed to eat out less and eat at home more than past summers in recent history. So, that is a win in and of itself!

contagious4. Read 2 books a month- well, I’ve def been reading one book a month due to my AdvoCare book club, but just haven’t made the time to read the second. This summer in this book club we have covered a lot of Andy Andrews ground. If you have not read any of his books, I totally recommend you pick one up. I have had the opportunity to hear him speak on 3 occasions and he is a dynamic speaker. We just finished reading Contagious by Jonah Berger. It was a really interesting look at why ideas, videos, etc. go viral.

5. Pin 3 Star Gold- it is a leadership level in AdvoCare.  We are always looking for people to help with their wellness, fitness and finances. The more people we help, the closer we get to advancing our leadership level with AdvoCare.

6. Increase Habitual Readership- well, you know, who knows if we have increased our Habitual readership. Leigh and I were talking recently and she said that while she was in her hometown, a handful of people, some of them complete strangers, told her they read our blog. And, according to Google Analytics only 2 people there read it…  so… who knows? We haven’t seen a significant jump or fall in registered hits on our blog. We are just gonna keep on keepin’ on.

7. Plan posts and plot on calendar-this one, I have done the best with! I find it so much easier to have posts planned out so that I do not flounder. For instance, you can expect to hear about my adventures in making pepper jelly, our new day care chapter and my attempt at a tshirt mod- among other stuff.

8. Join a Facebook blogging group-absolutely zero traction. None. Nada. Bueller? Anyone?

9. $1000 in Henry’s saving account- well, it has not gone nearly as well as I would have hoped. The year is not over and we still have his birthday and Christmas- so, hopefully, we will be able to get some more in there.

10. Support local charities- just fell off the wagon and should be shot for not sticking with one especially! But, here’s to brushing myself off and getting back on the wagon.

11. New Music. Y’all. I have been so totally and completely wrapped up in Sturgill Simpson, that I have not listened to much of anything else. However, Kings of Leon has a new album and I am interested to hear that.

So, I am packing up the roadside shop I set up over the summer and am crawling back on the wagon- Did you make any resolutions? Are you still sticking with them or have they been left by the way side? It is not too late to dust them off and finish this year with gusto!

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Labor Day of Love: The Happiest of Birthdays!

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With school starting for so many (both kids and parents) and the summer dwindling down, it is hard to believe it is already Labor Day. Didn’t Summer just start? But, here we are… so, happy Labor Day, Y’all! There is nothing like a long weekend to do a soul good! And for those of you who have to work today, sorry. But, we’re celebrating FOR and BECAUSE of YOU! Thank you! Does that help?

September the 1st is always a special day in my family, for not only is it Labor Day (this time), it is also my Daddy’s birthday today. As he is one of the hardest working fellows around, it is only appropriate that the two days are merged. Before I left Georgia this past trip, my Grandmama was sweet enough to hold an advanced birthday party (for both my brother and father) so that I could attend. That meant the world to me since those are the moments I miss the most living far away. I come from a family of rhymers, studying at the feet of masters. Which is why, if you’ll indulge me, I would like pay homage to my sweet Daddy today… the only way I know how– through verse. Although it is free verse, and contains no rhymes, the spirit remains.

firstreeditThat little boy. Can you see through his eyes? Celebrating his first birthday. He is at the beach with his mama and daddy. A candle is blown out. He is surrounded by love, grandparents, and great grandparents. They make wishes for him, their wishes. Their hopes, fears, and cares for an amazing life for this precious cargo.

It has been 65 years in between that photo and today. The earth has turned around the sun many times. Many birthdays, many adventures, many stories. There were many victories, but also tears. Where is that little boy now? Of what did he become?

toddeditHe was/is/became a devoted son… and a brother… a husband and a dad. An uncle, a boss, a surrogate father.

He is a friend, teacher, and staunch defender: a painter, musician, a yogi, a true Renaissance man.

Whip smart and funny with a warble that could and should win competitions.

For he is competitive, yet always so happy to share in your victories.

He has a swagger, and special dance moves. He knows what the in-crowd knows.

He is a self-proclaimed lover of contrast.

dareditHe is Ernesto, staunch advocate for Mexican Restaurants– though the mayonesa must be refrigerated.

He is a kind master to his pack. Both human and four-legged. He is generous and caring. His pack will follow him unquestionably, for he has wisdom beyond his years and only the best intentions.

He is a listener– an advisee. He is a co-conspirator for a good time. He is the tender of the bar. He is the tender of the heart.

Words fail to be adequate descriptors for the multitude that was within that little boy .

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That little boy’s life was/is/ and continues to be full of love and wonder.

If you could reach through that picture, to that moment, and share the story of who this man became to those there that day 65 years ago… they would have known that their wish came true.

Happy Birthday, sweet one. #yktr

 

 

Oil on Canvas, 2014, A Chip Vandiver OriginalOil on Canvas, 2014, A Chip Vandiver Original

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Three Recommendations for Music Lovers/Nerds

star30,000 feet above middle America is not normally the place to have a private dance party. I found myself, much to the chagrin of my neighbor, doing just that this past January. While flying back to California from one of my trips to Georgia, I decided to check out the critically recommended documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. For those not with the knowing, it is a documentary celebrating the voices you know from some of the most memorable songs, but whose face/name you’ve never seen/heard. With interviews from Mick Jagger to Bruce Springsteen there isn’t a moment that was boring. After watching it, I recommended it to everyone who would listen, and wasn’t surprised when it won an Oscar the following February. I was so excited to see that it was on Netflix instant streaming and made a point to share it with my music-loving family on this PAST trip to Georgia. Guess what? They ALSO loved it! So, if you have already heard of it and were waiting for a sign to watch it… then this is your sign. If this is the first you are hearing of it, then let this be me telling you that if you love music then this is something you need to watch. STAT.

muscleAfter watching 20 Feet From Stardom with my family, the geniuses who code the recommendations algorithm for Netflix suggested that I might also enjoy the music documentary Muscle Shoals. They were correct. This movie was also fantastic. “Now Muscle Shoals has got The Swampers… And they be known to pick a song, or two…” Sound familiar? Music history aficionados should already know about the legendary music production scene happening in small-town Alabama during the 60′s, 70′s, and 80′s, but this documentary delves so much deeper. The list of artists and albums produced there is staggering. There was some kind of mystical, primal energy by the Tennessee River that facilitated some amazing music. The soundtrack is (obviously) killer.

My third recommendation is for those of you with cable/satellite television out there. Sorry, Coralie- though Netflix also has a ton of awesome music coverage, obviously. If pslyou ARE lucky enough to get it, however, the Palladia channel is totally worth your time. Where else can you see Daryl Hall (From Hall and Oates) and his awesome house band (literally, house band… there are at his house) jam with some of the biggest names in music? There is also a cooking segment. Yes, Virginia, a cooking segment. Palladia also plays old concerts and has music festival coverage. It is pretty surreal to watch a concert on television that you attended… except this time with awesome sound, no mud/heat/humidity, legitimate camera work, and no drunk girls throwing up in front of you. Lollapalooza actually looked better from my couch. Palladia has some misses, but isn’t that makes the world go ’round? Hey! Here’s Mayer Hawthorne (my summer recommendation) killing it with Daryl Hall on Live From Daryl’s House!

Although there is nothing like going to see your favorite musician live, there is a long history of amazing collaborations between film and music:  Living in the Material World, The Last Waltz, It Might Get Loud, the list goes on and on. Just as music elevates film, sometimes film can elevate music. What do you think? What are your favorite music movies? Do you get the Palladia channel? What are your favorite alternative ways to get music? As always, let us know!

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Brown Sugar and Coconut Oil Body Scrub

Last December I detailed my favorite things of 2013. One of those things was Clinique’s Sparkle Skin body exfoliator. I used it in the shower on my legs in conjunction with my homemade shaving cream. As it happens, I eventually ran out of the Sparkle Skin. My Mom bought me another exfoliator, this time a sugar scrub. It was no where near as awesome.

The new sugar scrub was made with coarse sugar and using it felt less like luxury and more like torture!  And then it dawned on me- sugar scrub, I can make one of those using less coarse sugar and coconut oil and it would be an all over win!

I took to the information super highway and found that the basic formula is a 1:2 ratio. One part coconut oil to two parts sugar. I also found that brown sugar would be a good sugar for me to make a body scrub- it is pretty soft and fairly fine and a far, far cry from coarse, raw sugar.

Because coconut oil is in a solid form at room temperature, I put it in the microwave for about 15 seconds to get  it into liquid form. I put the coconut oil and brown sugar plus about 3 tablespoons of baby oil ( for good measure), 2 tablespoons of vanilla and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon into my Magic Bullet and blended it together.

blendingAfter it was all said and done, I do not think blending it was necessary- but, it did not hurt. And the smell is so yummy! If you have never shaved your legs with an exfoliator and shaving cream, homemade or store bought- you need to try it because it makes your legs so slick! It is just an awesome feeling. Body Scrub

The above picture was taken right after I finished making it, once the coconut oil returns to solid it is not anywhere near as juicy as the above picture. I put the plastic container in the shower and use every time I shave my legs. The next batch, I am going to add pumpkin pie spice- after all, Fall is right around the corner!

Brown Sugar and Coconut Oil Body Scrub
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • ⅓- 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2-3 tbsp baby oil, optional
  • 2-3 tbsp. vanilla
  • 2-3 tbsp. spice, cinnamon or pumpkin pie or nutmeg or etc
Instructions
  1. Warm the coconut oil for 15 seconds in the microwave and then combine with all the other ingredients
  2. Massage into your skin.
  3. Rinse

Do you have any at-home spa regimes that you enjoy? As always, please share!

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The Hidden Truth

 
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In the year 1806, a well-dressed man in his twenties visited a doctor who was renowned throughout London for being able to treat what nowadays we’d call depression, but back then was called melancholia.
The patient explained that he felt overcome by a terrible sadness, that he didn’t want to get up in the morning. He could not see any point in his existence.
“With your condition I would normally prescribe a course of my patent powders,” said the doctor, “but it so happens that I have recently come across something which will alleviate your condition much more quickly.
“You must,” he continued, “go to the Covent Garden theatre to see the pantomime, Harlequin and Mother Goose. This is the happiest thing I have ever seen performed on a stage, tears of laugher ran down my face. Why, sir, I can almost guarantee that watching Grimaldi the clown will cure you completely!”
“Ah, but doctor,” said the man sadly, “I am Grimaldi the clown.”

It has been two weeks since Robin Williams’s untimely death. He leaves behind an enormous legacy eclipsed only in size by his worldwide, all-ages fan base. He possessed fame, wealth, a storied career– things to which many of us aspire– and yet, unbeknownst to many he also possessed crippling depression and addictive tendencies.  Along with the countless brilliant moments he gave the world, his passing also gave us another gift. He brought the discussion of depression and mental illness to the world’s forefront. In the days after Williams’s death, answers and explanations were given to a world struggling to understand why someone so gifted, so lucky, would choose to leave it so violently. It seemed almost incomprehensible to the world that someone with so much could be hurting so bad. And yet. We are reminded again what a real and deadly disease depression is. It can affect anyone, no matter their stature, or how much or little they possess. Williams’s passing left us at FTTDWYW, like so many, with a spectrum of emotions: from heartbreak and anger to confusion and fear. We mourned for his family and friends but also for the loss of such a great resource and it’s future potential. It is fitting that even in his death, much like in his life, he was a gift to us. For there is no other or better way to combat darkness than to shed light upon it.

Since the inception of this blog, we have wanted and planned for today’s post. It was always robin-williams-5-660something on the horizon we wanted to discuss, but the time was never quite right. Williams’s passing made now the right time, for us. Discussing depression and mental illness is not a fun thing to do, we acknowledge, but it is certainly of the utmost importance. Depression is something that has touched both of our lives. If sharing that information touches even one set of eyes looking for encouragement or acceptance that they aren’t alone, then this post will not have been for naught. Even in such an age of advanced science/research and forward thinking, the truth of depression is still shrouded in so much shame and misinformation.

The reality is that so many people around you are plagued by the dark underbelly of depression, yet, so many choose to keep it a secret… as if it is something of which to be ashamed. So many people hide behind a smiling mask, exhausted by the effort; concerned with expectations not with their health. Why is no one dumping  ice buckets full of water over their heads for one of the world’s most prolific diseases? It is critical that we as a society talk about it. Depression and asking for help does not show weaknesses. A disease is not a deficiency in character. Every time we share our truth, without shame, the stigma lessens. It is a disease, not a choice. Often the most brilliant and the least likely, are the ones who hide behind the mask or normality.

Depressed people are often told to, “get over it,” or “deal with it.” Those words, although mostly well-intentioned, are meant to shame one into thinking that the pain isn’t serious or real. No matter your situation (whether you have everything or nothing), pain is real and feeling pain is truth. Even if your feelings seem irrational to other people, the fact that the pain is within you makes it real and true. Whether it is caused by a chemical imbalance, whether it is temporary or long-term, whether it is a matter of neurogenesis… it is doesn’t matter. It is real and it is scary.

At the very end of the day, we both generally operate in a no-judgment zone. As long as what a person is doing doesn’t hurt themselves or anybody else- we’re generally cool with them. This precedent carries on over to our blog. In no way are we judging anybody on either side of the issue, least we be judged. But. We do expect everybody to champion for their best selves and if that means taking daily meds, that means taking daily meds. If that means being courageous enough to ask for help while wading through dark waters, then do that thing.

If you are plagued by depression it is absolutely necessary to address it. Seek help however you can. If you have a headache, few people think twice about taking medicine to make the pain go away. Why isn’t this same logic applied to depression? When, where and who assigned shame in taking medicine to make ourselves feel better?

The world is so much brighter and better for having you IN it.

We both loved Robin Williams’ body of work and are deeply saddened by the fact that the punctuation at the end of his life is suicide. It is indicative that he was so lost in his own head that he could not see the long-term effects suicide would have on his family and friends. Suicide is never the best or only choice.

Depression can be a nasty beast. But is it one that can be tamed? You should stick around to find out.

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Blueberry and Lemon Ooey Gooey Bars- Heaven in Your Mouth

Ok, I am well aware that I have been blowing up the blueberry recipes. It started with the almost homemade blueberry turnovers and then was quickly followed by the blueberry French toast. However, I cannot stop now while the getting is good. I might wager that this is the best one yet! I am not going to beat around the bush any longer- what I have today is blueberry and lemon ooey gooey bars!

This recipe appears in my mom’s cookbook but, I do not really remember her ever making them. I was introduced to them by boss at Cosmo’s in Orange Beach. I was so proud to introduce Moma to a new recipe and I think her exact words were “Please! That recipe’s older than dirt!” So, there you have it. My boss did lemon ones, she did strawberry ones and for me, she did chocolate peanut butter ones. So, this recipe is very easy to personalize to your favorite tastes. I am getting ahead of myself though.

Lemon Ooey Gooey bars are Bub’s favorite. And if I am being honest, I do not make them very often because I can’t stay out of them! But, we had a bunch of friends coming to town- and I knew Bub would be so excited. After the blueberry French toast, I knew baked blueberries are awesome, so I decided to up the ante and make Lemon-Blueberry Ooey Gooey bars.

To begin you make the crust and to do that, you need a lemon cake mix. All cake mixes are not created equal- you need one in the 18 ounce range. You combine the lemon cake mix with one stick of melted butter and one egg and just for good measure, some lemon zest- and press this into the bottom of a greased 9×13 Pyrex.

ooey goey crustFor the ooey gooey portion of this bar, you need to beat together a softened 8 ounce package of cream cheese, 2 eggs, a 16 ounce box of powdered sugar, a stick of butter and a teaspoon of vanilla and the zest of pretty much a whole lemon. Once it is nice and creamy, you pour it over the crust. And this time, I sprinkled blueberries all over the top.

ooey goey middle and bluesBake this on 350 F for 40-50 minutes. Your house will smell divine! When it comes out of the oven, the center will be soft, but it will firm up as it cools.

fresh from the ovenI am telling you, Dear Reader, this recipe is a homerun knocked out of the ball park! It is a crowd-pleaser. They will be begging for seconds and some to take home! Yes, it is that good! Yes, it would make you the most popular person at a tailgate party. Yes, it would make you the life of the party at any Friday night social club. Yes, your co-workers would suddenly be able to do whatever you needed. Yes, your Bub Honey would complete the “Honey-Do” list.

Blueberry and Lemon Ooey Gooey Bars- Heaven in Your Mouth
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (18 oz) cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 sticks butter, melted and divided
  • 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 (16 oz) box of powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Combine cake mix, 1 stick of melted butter and 1 egg, and press into the bottom of a greased 9x13 Pyrex
  2. Beat softened cream cheese, 1 stick of melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth and then pour over crust
  3. Bake on 350F for 40-50 minutes. Center will be soft but will firm up as it cools

L-B Ooey Gooey BarsTo make your own variety, change up the flavor of the cake mix and then add which ever toppings you think would best suit the crust. For instance, strawberry cake mix for the crust, fresh strawberries and white chocolate chips in the filling. Or chocolate crust and peanut butter in the filling. I have made ooey gooey bars with orange cake mix for the crust and then added white chocolate chips in the filling. It would be hard to mess these up.

Do you have a recipe this is your go-to knock out? You know we want to hear about it!

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