Happy New Year!

May you all be blessed with laughter and joy, peace and love, health and prosperity in the New Year!

If you make resolutions, good luck but do not beat yourself up if you mess up a little, you are human and will make mistakes.  As for me, I gave up resolutions a long time ago, too much pressure!  I just try to be the best person I can be, I try to keep myself grounded & positive, and surround myself with healthy relationships.  I try to keep my body as healthy as possible with good food, yoga and meditation.  I struggle with fibro pain on a daily basis, and believe it or not…dealing with daily pain really keeps life in perspective for me.

I also keep God in my life, my religious and spiritual faith keeps me going.

I hope you are enjoying a new day filled with delicious food and family and friends!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Tips for Packing and Moving

I have moved so much over my lifetime.  I get exhausted just thinking about it!  And now that I have my offer accepted, I can begin to make my moving plans and start packing….again!

Hopefully this is my last move, not that I’m ready to call it quits on life but I am hoping this will be the home that I will live out the rest of my life.  Unless of course I win the lottery!!!  That’s an entirely different ballgame!

So, here are a few tips I have learned over the years of my moves.

1.  Hopefully before you list your current home on the market you had prepared it for the sale by cleaning out closets, organizing, etc.  The worst of the work should have been done already.

If you haven’t, now is the time to start sorting through your belongings.  You will want to put things in categories of keep, toss, or donate.  Stick to it, don’t throw things in a box and tell yourself you will get to it later.  You know you won’t!

2. Pack your boxes thoughtfully. Yanno that saying “size doesn’t matter”??  Well it does!!  Give careful thought to the size of boxes you will be packing and the contents.

Don’t fill them with all heavy or breakable items.  Boxes will be harder to lift and move if they are too heavy and things will break.  Mix your glass dishes with your plastic lighter items.  Wrap your precious breakables with bubblewrap or good sturdy paper.  I have even used plastic shopping bags for wrapping some things.  Be creative, you can use your dish towels too.

3.  Organize your packing.  By this I mean, don’t pack your everyday plates that you will need as soon as you get to your new home, with your wedding crystal that you will probably not be using until you can set up in your hutch.

For example, I used my kitchen towels with my everyday plates and glasses so that when I unpacked that box, I had everything I needed right away.

Also, organize your boxes by labeling: kitchen, dining room, bedroom (by name such as yours, kids)  bath, den, etc.  Put a large note on the bedroom doors so your movers will know what room is what.

You might want to give a quick list on the box as to the contents inside: crystal for hutch, everyday plates, glasses, etc.  put it on the top and side.  Ask your movers to place the boxes with the writing to the front so you can see what each box contains.

4.  The first thing you will want to set up is your beds, and make them!  You are going to be exhausted and its nothing like having your bed already made so all you have to do is crawl in!

Next on the list is your bathroom.  Get your necessary toiletries and towels and the all important TP set up.

And finally, your fridge.  Get it plugged in and get that ice maker ready!

5. Assign duties to your movers!  If the weather is not cooperating, give someone the job of being by the door to give things a quick wipe down so you are not having rain or snow drug through your new home.  Keep rugs by the doors so your movers can wipe their feet BUT be careful that you are not using loose materials like sheets or towels that will cause your movers to trip and fall!

6. Your pets.  This needs some thought because moving can be traumatic for them and they need to be in a safe place until you are ready for them to roam around in your new home.  Can they stay at someones house while you move, can they be boarded somewhere.  If that is not possible, you can either place them in a secure room in the house you are moving from OR move your pets first and put them in a closed room.

If you take them to the new house, let them sniff around while they are leashed.  Then place them in a safe room with food and water, maybe even some music.  Close the door tightly and put a note on the door “Pet inside, please DO NOT OPEN”.  Make sure you clearly give your movers instructions about the pet.

If you decide to leave them at your house that you are moving from, again…put them in a room with food and water, put a note on the door letting your movers know there are pets in the room and not to open the door.

You will need to check on your pet consistently.  Make sure all doors to the outside are closed before  you open their door in case they attempt to make a mad dash.  Spend some time with them and love them up so they know they are not alone and are loved! Don’t forget to take them outside for their potty breaks!!!

If your pet is a nervous and anxious little creature,  you may want to check with your vet on some moving pointers and possibly medication to calm them.

7.  OH!  And trash bags are your friend!  Not just to toss out the crap you don’t want anymore but they are great for packing!  Yes packing!  Toss in your blankets, pillows and towels to keep them clean.  Use them for handbags and clothes too.  You can also group some of your clothes on hangers, maybe about 6-8 hangers, tear a hole in the bottom of the bag to slip the curvey part of the hanger thru, just like a dry cleaner bag!!

8.  Food. I would suggest that you try to use up as much of your food in your freezer, refrigerator and pantry before you move, I really dislike wasting food!!  If you are just moving across town, pack up whats left and take it with you.  If your move is much farther you may want to donate your food items to a church or local food bank.

Now is a good time to go through your pantry items and discard items such as dried spices, seasonings and herbs that may have lost there potency.

9.  Address change!  Good grief is this a major pain!  I am always surprised when I hear someone mention that they forgot to make address changes!  Start with a list, and a cup of coffee or tea!  Relax and start thinking….  You will need to call your utilities, cable TV, any other banks other than the bank holding your mortgage, credit cards, investments, insurances.  Not to forget any subscriptions you may have.  Doctors, dentist, vets.  Don’t forget your employer!  Memberships, clubs and recreational activities, and your church will need your new information too.

Grab your bank statement and your planner and go through them to find any place you may have missed.

Most importantly, go to the post office and complete the necessary forms for an address change so that your mail will be transferred to your new address.  I believe you can do this online as well.

You might also want to let all of your friends know your new address, or at least the friends you WANT to know that you moved!

10.  Lastly, recycle your packing boxes whether it be to a recycling center OR giving them to someone else that is moving.  Recycle any paper or bubble wrap you have used.  The paper would be great for the kiddos to draw and paint on, crafts, etc.

Enjoy your new home and remember to give yourself time to unpack and get used to your new surroundings.  Drink lots of water and make sure to give yourself some much needed breaks, stretches and snacks.

Anyone else have any good tips for packing and moving?

Live well!

Selling & Buying a New Home, around the Holiday

My condo sold! Yay!! I’ve been a little busy running around looking at houses.
There just aren’t enough hours in the day right now. Working, looking at properties, and then going home to pack a box or two.
And speaking of packing, how does one person accumulate so much stuff!!! I didn’t think I had much to pack….until I started putting stuff in a box. Wow. Really, just wow.
I will try to keep up with my posting but it’s really been a challenge just trying to survive right now, and keep my eyes open throughout the day. I’ve not been cooking too much although I have a ton of things I want to cook!!
So, I’m not finding anything that I’m actually falling in love with. And can afford on my own. My next step, is to look for an apartment if I can’t find a new home. That will accept cats.
My nerves seem to be a little frazzled right now. It’s the Christmas season and I cannot decorate, no tree this year. My gifts are in bags sitting with boxes that have been carefully packed. (*insert sigh😔)
Please say a prayer for me that I soon find my new home. Oh, and as I’m cleaning out my kitchen I’ll want to use up some food in the pantry, I’ll try to get those recipes posted as quickly as I can. Hopefully I’ll get some yummy stuffed shells made this weekend!
Live well friends!!

Getting Your House (or Condo) Ready to Sell

Where do I start?  Okay, let’s start with this, I am not a real estate agent, an interior designer, home stager (although I would love to be!), I am just your average home owner, or in this case a condo owner.  In my lifetime I have sold around 5 homes, one all by myself with no real estate agent and one of those homes was my parents home after they passed.

That also means I have purchased several homes as well, and this is where I get my advice.  By looking at other homes on the market I know exactly what to do to make mine a little more desirable.  A condo such as mine, every bit of the small 750 sq ft of it, is a little more difficult to sell because it has to be the right person that is looking for just this type of home.

The pictures that I have posted were taken by my agent.

So, enough babbling and onto the good stuff.  First know that I have a storage unit, I started using that after my parents passed and I needed a place to keep a lot of their stuff, stuff that I didn’t want to part with but didn’t have room in my condo.

I started with my closets.  Anything that I was storing in the closet or not using went to storage.  I cleaned out all my clothes and either donated or sold the clothes I no longer wanted.  Extra table linens, blankets, etc, all went to storage.

For my bedroom I bought a new, much smaller and lighter neutral color rug and stored the one I was using. I removed some of the décor to showcase, or stage the bedroom.  I also bought a new and lighter colored bedspread.

In my main living area, I had a lovely bookcase FULL of my beloved books, it all went to storage.  I put away most of my framed family photo’s. Then I rearranged the chairs and my living room rug.  Had to keep my treadmill though, I use it!!!

In the kitchen cabinets, anything I could pack away, I did!  If I wasn’t using it, or going to use it, I boxed it up and stored it.  I have a few things on the counters and since the real estate agent took the pictures, I removed even more.

My laundry is always done.  I dust twice a week and keep after the floors.  The dishwasher usually has dirty dishes in it but I don’t let it get too full before I run it.   You just never know when that last minute call is gonna come in.  Is it a pain in the you know what to live like this, heck yea BUT I am also looking at homes and this is what is see…

1.  I see homes where I can’t really see the room!!  There is so much clutter around that I cannot see the walls or the floor.  Piles of dirty laundry, stacks of folded clean laundry, dirty dishes in the sink, dirty tubs, overgrown plants that have taken over the curtains, unmade beds.  Its all quite disgusting and quite honestly, that makes me think the house wasn’t cared for properly and I walk away.  My advice here is to decluttter, pack up your things and store them somewhere and most of all…CLEAN!!  Your home doesn’t have to look like a model home but it helps if you keep it clean, picked up and in decent shape.

2.  Then there are the homes that are covered in wallpaper, crazy bold bright paint colors, carpet from the 60′ or 70’s, or better yet the kitchens and bathrooms that were installed when the homes were built from the 1930’s and 40’s!!!  Now I know these are the expensive rooms to remodel but they are also the rooms that SELL your home!!  As I walk thru a house I am DEDUCTING from the asking price what it’s going to cost to remodel and replace.  My advice here is to try to update if you can.  Paint isn’t that expensive, ripping the wallpaper off is time consuming but if you want top dollar, you are going to have to work for it.  If you cannot update the kitchen and bathroom, just be prepared to have low offers.

I certainly know I am not going to find a house with my color choices, I know I’m most likely going to want to rip out the carpet and install wood BUT it still needs to be clean, decent and not 50-75 years old!!  And, the more work it’s going to take, the more I’m deducting.

3.  Decks are another issue.  If it needs some repair, fix it!  I looked at one house and knew I would have to rip out the deck immediately.  They also had a yard full of bamboo.  That would have had to go too.  You may like it, and yes it is pretty, but not everyone does.  And its very invasive.  So don’t forget the outside too.  Another home I looked at had a hole in the front door.  And old lock was removed and they covered it with cardboard.  Really???  Depending on the size of the deck, it can be expensive, so again, be prepared for low offers if you can’t repair or replace.  Fix and repair if you can, pull weeds, keep your lawn cut, put a pretty pot of flowers on your front step and back patio/deck.

I just cant believe how some people live and try to sell their homes thinking we all live that way.  Remember, people are looking at your house the same way you are looking at the houses you’re interested in.

When I bought my condo I already had thoughts of selling it in 10 years so I tried to keep that in mind as I remodeled.  It had not had anything done to it since is was built in 1996, and I bought the place in 2007.  I ripped out the carpet, stripped all of the wallpaper and replaced the dated brass lighting fixtures.  I installed all laminate flooring and repainted everything.  I got the place really cheap and its small.  Also, I had just gotten divorced and after living on a boat for 4 years, I had no furniture so it all worked for me.

I’ll start with the main room which is the living, dining and kitchen area, open concept of course. I left the white cabinets as they were still in good condition and were still up to date and since I decided to do browns in the condo I wanted to leave them alone.  I had intended to do the countertops but I’ve decided to let that alone.  With the white trim and white cabinets I went with a medium/light chocolate brown on the walls and painted the ceiling and the inside of the deep windows a creamy taupe color.  I used a lighter laminate wood flooring.  I wanted a cherry but since I couldn’t get my hands on that color I used the lighter floor and darker walls.

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I continued those colors into my bedroom.  The accent color in that room is a green/blue teal color. I removed the small closet door and turned that area into my desk.

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The bath, I removed the builder grade counter/sink and put in a travertine tile counter and vessel sink.  I used a paint that is similar to a gloss but it was something a little different, and was a little more pricier with special requirements to paint.  I wish not I had not used that paint, but hey, hindsight.  I continued the brown theme but added a copper wall for an accent color.

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The entry way was my color splurge, a dark brick red, and I have silver and black accents.

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I wanted to keep things somewhat neutral but with a punch of WOW, knowing that I had only planned to be here about 10 years before selling.  I’m selling a little earlier than anticipated mostly because of market.  I chose the browns with only a few accent colors in the hopes that it would be tasteful enough for someone to like it and be able to move in and then change as they desire later.

To date my condo has been on the market for about one month and I have had 3 showings.  They “loved” it but were still looking and in no hurry.  Typically these condo’s go pretty quickly but the market in our area isn’t coming around just yet., and mine is one of the smaller units.

So my friends, just remember to declutter as much as you can to show off your nice home, CLEAN, clean and clean some more, and if you have to spend a few bucks to change that crazy color or rip off the wallpaper and make repairs, do it.  If it will help get you the top dollar you want, DO IT!!

Live well my friends, and good luck selling your house and finding your home!

Some of my Favorite Things

I haven’t posted much of anything lately.  I’ve been busy testing recipe creations but I’ve also been dealing with an upset tummy and a lack of appetite…a lot.  So that makes it a little challenging for someone that loves to cook and post recipes!  Any taste testers out there??

So I thought I’d mix it up a bit and post some of my favorite products that I like to use.

I’ll start with an Avon product, yes Avon.  I love Moisture Therapy lotion.  I use it everyday on my hands and body.

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I also have those dry heels that we ladies seem to have to deal with.  And I have to tell ya, since I started using Burts Bee’s Foot Lotion, I rarely have that problem!  Scouts Promise of Truth and Honor!!!  Of course there is coconut oil in there and we all know how beneficial that is!  I use the beeswax lip balm too.  I have several of them, all over the place… in my kitchen, my bathroom, my purse, pockets.  Love it!

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Next, my teeth!  My favorite toothbrush ever is the Spin Brush, its the best thing next to having a dental cleaning!  My teeth actually feel that clean. And I ONLY use Glide dental floss.  I have tried them all and thrown them all in the trash.  None can compare to Glide!

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Next on the list is my foundation.  I bounce back and forth from a liquid to a powder.  And the only liquid foundation allowed on my face is Maybelline Fit, and the compact for touch ups during the day.

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When I feel like a powder its Bare Minerals, as you can see by the practically empty jar.

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For my mascara, Its Loreal Voluminous. either the Full Definition or the Original.   I swear my lashes actually do look longer.  Even healthier!  I have a tube in my purse and one in my makeup case in the bathroom.  I don’t carry one in my purse for touch ups, its just that I am so anal about having to wear mascara that I figure if I ever get stuck somewhere and have to spend the night, I will at least have my mascara for the morning.  Sad isn’t it?

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My hair, the older I get the dried my hair gets. I use Frizz-Ease on wet and dry hair.  It does wonders!

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So there you have it, my favorite beauty products.  Just the basics, at my age and at this stage in my life these are pretty much all I need.

Live well my friends! XO

Fibromyaglia, a Life Changing Event

Instead of posting a recipe today, I thought I’d vent a little about a health issue.  About a year ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  I didn’t handle it very well.  In fact, you would have thought someone handed me a death sentence.  I cried for a few months.  This just isn’t me!

I’ve always been very active with aerobic or zumba classes, had a home gym or belonged to a gym.  Now don’t get me wrong, I was by far NOT a muscular person but I enjoyed working out and tried my best to stay healthy.

But then my life changed, I became divorced for the second time and although that was my choice it did not come easy for me, 5 months after the separation my Mom passed away and then 6 months later my Dad passed away.  It was a terrible time in my life.  Both of the deaths set the scene for some family drama, which we never had before so that was an adjustment.  I had my parent’s house and estate to deal with, not to mention that I had just bought a small condo and had just began to remodel.

So, when the exhaustion set in, I blamed it on stress and depression.  When the sadness took over, and I gained weight, I blamed it on stress and depression.

But then I discovered that I could no longer lift the weights at the gym.  I couldn’t walk the distance or do the speed on the treadmill.  I blamed it on being out of shape, cancelled my membership, bought my own treadmill and decided to work at a slower pace at home.

By then I had pain.   So I thought my mild arthritis had increased and that I now had it in other areas.  Went to my doctor, he ordered Xrays and to my surprise there was NO change!!!

Then I started crying at the most simplest of things.  Ahhh I thought, Menopause!!!  Called my gyno doc, blood work was ordered; everything was normal.

I also blamed it all on being Hypoglycemic.  I figured that my blood sugar is just too low, so I nibbled snacks.

By now I have more pain, everywhere.  I tried to get myself back in shape by just walking and eating healthier and trying to get more sleep.  I also brought yoga and meditation back to my life.  The pain just increased and everything hurt.  By the end of summer I was seriously concerned about the changes in my body and went back to my doctor.  He was incredible.  As he listened to my story of the months since I had seen him when he ordered the Xrays, he just calmly looked at me and said he thought I may have Fibromyalgia.  I thought I had cancer and it had just spread throughout my body.  He immediately sent to a Rheumatologist.

It took her a matter of minutes to agree with my doc but she ordered a panel of blood work to rule out anything else.  I went back for the results and everything was fine except my vitamin D was way too low.  Which I had suspected since I am in an office all day.  Then she sent me for physical therapy.  WOW was that a smack in the face.  I knew I had gotten weaker but I didn’t realize just how bad it had gotten!!

Sadly, I have not kept up with the exercises at home.  It is a constant struggle for me just to get thru the work day, much less getting up in the morning.  By the time I get home in the evening I am completely exhausted.  I can barely walk the dog.  And as much as I love to cook, weekends seem to be my time for kitchen fun.  I just have no energy in the evening, and I usually hurt, which is exhausting in itself.  But I have to say, yoga is the best thing for me right now.  I love the stretches, it feels good for my body.

I don’t like taking pain meds, I don’t like having to use pain patches, I don’t like hurting and being completely exhausted.

So, I am trying something totally different, Medical Qigong.  I’ve only had one visit so far, she has me eating fresh pineapple every day, it is supposed to help with the pain however, I have not noticed a difference yet.  So I’ll give this practice a go, then I am trying acupuncture and I absolutely HATE NEEDLES!!

That all said, I am not giving up on some of my activities.  I have a goal of whitewater rafting (is there such a thing as a bunny slope on the rapids??), kayaking, horseback riding, zipline (I know, I’m nuts!), and a few of my friends ran the Color Run in Baltimore this year so I am making it my goal to try to walk it next year, hopefully.  Walking outside for 20 minutes about kills me and 10 minutes on the treadmill makes my knees feel like they are exploding.

Thanks for listening.  Now I’m going to make some of these yummy cookies for a friend at work, the recipe/blog post is here.

Have a great weekend!

Puppy Love, with a Bully

I’m in love.  Puppy Love!  My son adopted a puppy…..at his house *whew. 

But I’ve been busy helping him because he works a lot.  And I want to steal the puppy.  I can’t keep my lips off his cute little wrinkly face.

I have to admit, when we went to look at Dozer, and clearly bring him home, I really wasn’t all that impressed with the breed…English Bulldog, AKA Bullies.  But as I held him and he licked my face, he stole my heart.

Watching my son learn to take care of another living being, has been a challenge as I sometimes feel I’m being very bossy but he seems to welcome the advice since he has never had a dog that he is responsible for by himself.  We have had family dogs, but I did all the training, he did all the playing and enjoying.  He has learned quickly how much is involved with a puppy.  And I am watching as he tries to develop his patience. *insert giggle

Unfortunately we didn’t know that the area where the “breeder” was located was well known for backyard puppy mills.  And surprisingly, 2 particular religious sects that I would have never imaged to “mass produce puppies”, are the biggest culprits.  I had NO IDEA!  The breeder’s house did have 3 outdoor pens with dogs in them so clearly dog breeding was a business for him.  At the time though, I just thought he really loved the breed but as my son was making the purchase and getting the papers, I wandered a little closer to the pens to get a closer look because my curiosity had peaked.  And there were a number of dogs in the pens. 

   Look at those toes!

My son is happy that he rescued one of the puppies.  The vet appointment showed a skin infection, parasites and worms in his stools all due to his living conditions.  We noticed that many of his nails had been broken back to his skin and I was concerned as to why, but the vet seems to think it was his living conditions as well and they will grow back. 

In the last 4 weeks, Dozer has gained 8 pounds!  He is still on meds for the parasites and worms but he is on the road to recovery! 

He’s a very happy and playful pup.  And full of sweet love.  I do on most occasions get bitten on the nose when I grab his face to kiss him!  And when I sit on the floor to play with him I usually get my fingers bit, but then he jumps on me and gives me plenty of puppy kisses!

I haven’t stolen him yet.  But the time is comin’