Christmas Outfit Shopping

Today after tai chi I decided I wanted to get something nice to wear for our Christmas dinner with the family.  I haven’t been shopping for a while and it was a good excuse to go.  I feel like finding the right outfit for Christmas is always difficult because it is still warm here and a lot of the clothing is for the season is for cooler temperatures.  It is also extra difficult because I am still having hot flashes every once in a while, and I definitely do not want to be caught in a sweater in Florida with a hot flash.  But I decided to take on the challenge and I am glad I did.

For some reason it never dawned on me that the mall would be full of people doing their Christmas shopping.  It was so packed; and when I say it was packed I mean I have never seen so many people in the mall before.  I ventured to a couple stores but I couldn’t fight the crowds.

Instead of just giving up I went to the stores around the perimeter.  The last time Clara went shopping with me we went to TJ Max and I fell in love.  It has so many options and you never know what you are going to find.  I ended up finding this really nice cranberry colored top that is flowy and looks great on me.  I also found this beautiful necklace to wear with it.

I thought I was done shopping and was pleased with what I got, but I couldn’t resist going into Kohl’s right next door.  It was pretty busy in there but not as much as the mall.  I was just browsing around and found these pants that looked so comfortable and dressy.  They looked like dress pants but they had some elastic in them that made the stretchy.  I tried them on and loved them.  So obviously I had to get them too.

While I was there I browed through the sale racks and found this very cute holiday scarf.  I don’t know if I will wear it for Christmas but it was a good deal I couldn’t pass up.  There were so many sale and clearance ranks I couldn’t manage to go through them all and as it got later in the day, more and more people started pouring in.  I got out of there at the perfect timing.

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I am very happy I found an entire outfit to wear for Christmas.  I was really only looking for a shirt but found pants and a necklace, can’t complain.  Next time I go shopping around Christmas I have to remember to avoid the mall and to go early!

Until next time,

Nancy

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Christmas Cookie Time

Good bye turkey and thanksgiving, hello to Christmas cookies, caroling, and homemade goodies! To mark the first weekend of the wonderful Christmas season, one of my good friends had a few of us over to have a Christmas cookie bake. We used to do an annual cookie bake every year but after having kids we all had busy schedules and weren’t able to make it. But now that our children are grown we have plenty of time.

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I love that my friend has us over to her wonderful home. Her husband is a chef, so they have a state of the art kitchen with two ovens perfect for baking cookies! We drink cider, listening to Christmas music, laugh, and bake all day! The part I think is ingenious is that we all make 3 different kinds of cookies in big batches then we swap them so we end up leaving with a huge assortment. It is great!
I ended up with so many cookies I can’t wait to send them to Bobby at school before his finals and to Clara and her boyfriend. Here are the three cookies that I shared with my friends!

P.S. These cookies are not the healthiest, but I figured a little treat once in a while won’t hurt.

Peppermint Bark is a staple for anything Christmas related.
Ingredients-
• 1 cup crushed candy canes
• 2 lbs. white chocolate
• Just a few drops of peppermint flavoring
Instructions-
• To crush candy canes, use a candy chopper or place candy canes in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush the candy canes into small chunks.
• Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. When melted add the crushed candy cane and a few drops of peppermint flavoring and stir. (leave a little candy cane to sprinkle on the top)
• Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet and pour the mixture on to the paper. Sprinkle the left over candy cane chunks on the top and refrigerate for about 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from paper and break into delectable chunks!

Ginger Cookies are delicious year round, but even better during the holidays.

person flattening dough with rolling pin
Ingredients-
• 2 ½ cups flour
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1 ½ tsp. ground cloves
• ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
• ½ tsp. ground ginger
• ¼ tsp. salt
• 1 cup dark brown sugar
• ¼ cup vegetable oil
• 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
• 1 egg, room temp
• 1 ¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger
• Sugar to roll the cookies in
Instructions-
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
• In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
• In an electric mixer bowl beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for about 5 minutes then turn to low. Add the egg and beat for about two minutes. Keep the mixer on low and slowly add the dry ingredient mixture and the crystallized ginger to the mixer and once combined, mix on medium for another 2 minutes.
• Scoop the dough and roll in your hands to make a 1 ¾ in ball and flatten with your fingers. Sprinkle/press the cooking in the granulated sugar on both sides and put on to the prepared baking sheet.
• Bake for 13 minutes until the cookies crack on the top and are soft on the inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for a few minutes then transfer to wire racks to fully cool. Enjoy!

And who doesn’t love Snickerdoodles
Ingredients-
• 2 ¾ cup flour
• 2 tsp. cream of tartar
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• ¼ tsp. salt
• 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
• 1 ½ cups sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 3 tbsp. sugar
• 1 tbsp. cinnamon
Instructions-
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator
• In a medium bowl mix together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
• In another bowl cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy then add the eggs and vanilla and beat together well. Slowly stir in the flour mixture using an electric mixer until the flour is combined. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes.
• While chilling mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
• After chilling the dough scoop 1 inch balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar. Place the balls on the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes.
• Let the cookies cook on the sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool. Enjoy!

Christmas is the best time of year in my opinion. The cookies, the happiness, and the loving spirit is in the air. I can’t wait to share my Christmas cookie assortment with everyone!

Happy holiday season everyone!

Until next time,
Nancy

First Zumba Class!

Well last night was my very first zumba class, and boy oh boy was it an incredible workout. It is completely polar opposite of tai chi but I loved it. I have always loved to dance…I am terrible but it was so fun.

The instructor was incredible, she made me so welcome in the class. There were three other ladies about the same age as me that were new to zumba as well. She really took time to make us feel comfortable. Before we started the class she said something that really stuck with me and made me feel comfortable, “even if you think you don’t know what you are doing, keep moving, keep shaking, and you are doing it perfect.”
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The ladies who are “regulars” with zumba were really nice too. While we were waiting for the instructor to arrive they were chatting with us and helping us feel welcomed. They talked about how long they had be doing zumba and how much they loved it. The group of women called themselves a zumba family, it really felt like they were too. It was such an awesome environment to be in.

The music was very different than I am used to but it was a great change of pace for me. It was a mix of Latin, hip hop, and pop to keep the energy high. Zumba is a mix of all sorts of dance; Latin, jazz, rhythm, and everything in-between. For me it was mostly jiggling around but somehow I felt get doing it. Even though I love dancing I don’t have any rhythm to keep my on beat but the instructor would call out cue’s to move and it was really easy watching her in the mirror.

After class everyone kind of hung around and chatted about each other’s families and just daily life. It was really neat seeing how this group of women started out taking the same class and now are great friends. They were so kind, asking me questions and getting to know me. A few ladies had just become empty nesters this year, so I was able to give them a little advice!

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I laughed and had so much fun the entire 55 minutes of zumba my abs were sore from moving and laughing so much.  The women who come regularly were so good, they knew all the moves and what came next. I am not worried though, I will be like them soon enough; I will be making zumba a part of my weekly routine for sure.

Zumba was the most fun I have had working out in a really long time. It felt great changing up my routine and letting lose a little.

Until next time, zumba away!

Nancy

Thanksgiving Planning

It is the weekend before Thanksgiving, which means I need to get most of my grocery shopping done and ready to go on Thursday. I know the holidays aren’t an excuse to give up the healthy lifestyle I have created, but it is one of my favorite holidays and I do allow myself to indulge just a little bit. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks for everything we have and how we have grown.

This year is going to be a really special Thanksgiving. Bobby and Clara are coming home…YAY, and Clara’s boyfriend, my parents, my husband’s parents, and a couple my husband and I are friends with. Our friend’s child moved out years ago and always came back for the holidays, this year she is working in abroad and can’t make it home for the holidays so we welcomed them with open arms. I am excited to have a full house!

Luckily everyone offered to bring a dish or a dessert so I don’t have to cook and bake everything; Clara even offered again for the second year in a row.  I am making the turkey, three sides, and the drinks. It doesn’t seem like that much, but once I started writing down everything I need my list grew very fast!

I am excited to share some of our yummy family recipes with our friends this year.

This afternoon I ran to the store to pick up my list, I was surprised that is wasn’t that busy. I assumed it was going to be packed with people buying everything for Thanksgiving. I was in and out of the store in less than an hour, and that even including a little chat with a client I saw.

To stay organized with the ingredients I separated everything by dish and if it needed to be refrigerated. I saw this idea on Pinterest and gave it a try, hopefully when it comes time to start preparing all the dishes it will be easier!

With all this food in the house and knowing what we are going to be eating for Thanksgiving, I am going to make sure I eat healthy and exercise this week! Now I need to come up with something for dinner for tonight, wish me luck! 🙂
Until Next Time,

happy-thanksgiving
Nancy

Keeping up with Tai Chi

I have been practicing tai chi for nearly 4 years and couldn’t be happier with how it has changed my outlook and wellbeing. I began only taking one class a week, now I am in two classes a week and practice at home almost every day. It was the catalyst I needed to jump start my physical activity and wellbeing of becoming an empty nester.

I have been able to witness my body change through lifestyle changes in addition to my tai chi regimen. Tai chi works with the internal energy and channels it to be useful in physically ways. It physically works your muscles and joints to unify the breathing and improves circulation of the blood and lymphatic glands to increase the effectiveness of the immune system.

I have felt my physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing increase through tai chi. I never expected it to impact my life so much, I am so happy with who it has helped me become. I try practicing it as often as I can at home even when I don’t have much time.

I have learned a few techniques through tai chi that I use when I am stressed and feel my body and emotions acting up where ever I am.

• When I have feeling stressed or can feel a hot flash coming on, I simply sit down and relax by taking deep breaths. Breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth has been a tai chi technique that has benefited me in countless ways.

• When I need to release tension or frustration I tense up my entire body, from my toes to my forehead. I hold it for a few seconds then release my muscles and my tension and frustration.

• While I am waiting for water to boil, the oven to preheat, or a timer I do a few opening movements to open my body and my mind. It is really simple and when practiced with the breathing, can really help focus and clear my mind.

Tai chi has inspired me to try some other group fitness classes because of how much I enjoy being around others and working towards a goal together. I have heard so much about jazzercise from you lovely readers, I set out to find one. I found out my gym doesn’t offer it but I signed up for a zumba class instead. The woman at the gym said it was very similar and that they had replaced the jazzercise class with it. The first class is next week and can’t wait to see how I feel after it.

Until next time,

Nancy

Halloween Party Flowers

Happy Halloween all you spooky readers! 🙂
There is something about Halloween that brings out the child in me.  Every year my husband and I decorate our front porch for all the little goblins to come up and get treats for some tricks!  I love seeing the little kids dressed up and so excited about the treats.  To make this Halloween a little better, my floral shop made some spook-tacular floral arrangements for a Halloween party.

I think I have decided making floral arrangements for fall and Halloween parties are my favorite.  I love mixing beautiful flowers with gourds and pumpkins to create a unique and almost dark feel.  This event was really fun because the client was a close friend of my boss so we had a lot of freedom to design haunted creations! 🙂

I made one of my favorite decorations thus far for the Halloween event.  We put small pumpkins into large fish bowls and wrapped red garland and black calla lilies around the interior of the fish bowls.  They somehow looked “spooky chic.”

spooky chic

We also made an arrangement using yellow roses, greens, and purple leaves to create an old eerie feeling.  My boss has this spray she uses often in Halloween decorations and flowers.  It makes the flowers look aged and grungy, I love it!

Another customer just wanted one centerpiece for a Halloween party.  I was able to get creative with this arrangement.  I used some bright flowers, cat tails, wheat twigs, and other grasses to create an almost mystical looking combination.  To make it more fitting for a Halloween party I put the arrangement in a skull vase.  It looked even better than I thought it would.

I am so happy I found my passion working with flowers and helping decorate for events.  It makes my life so much fun and each day is a new adventure.  Like the saying by Confucius goes, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

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I have yet to work a day.

🙂

Happy Halloween!

Until Next Time,

Nancy

Day with the Hubby

Today I got to spend all day bumming around town with my hubby.  I love lazy days spent together!

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Instead of our normal coffee at home we went to a local café to relax and start our day with a little pizazz. I love this café, they have such a great coffee menu that offers such a wide variety and it is low calorie and fat.  After we finished our coffee and catching up with the daily news we went for a walk in the park nearby and enjoyed the beautiful fall colors and each other’s company.

We had a few errands to run after we left the park. My husband wanted to the hardware store to look at a new set of tools that were on sale. He is such a handy man and uses his equipment all the time so he really needed a new set. The set that was on sale was exactly what he was looking for, he was like a kid in a candy shop.

We also went to the grocery store where he insisted on having beef for dinner. I am not a huge fan of beef but I figured I could find a good healthy recipe in one of my cook books at home. He also wanted apple crisps for dessert. He thought it was “his day” to decide what to eat!

I ended up finding a really good recipe for Beef Stir-Fry and Avocado Salad, here is the recipe. I made it so that we will have left overs so this recipe can feed four.

selective focus photography of beef steak with sauce
Ingredients-
• 12 oz. beef tenderloin, cutting strips
• ¼ cup fresh lime juice
• 1 tbsp. and ½ tsp. chili powder
• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
• 1 medium onion, sliced
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped in slices
• 1 poblano pepper, sliced
• ½ tsp. salt
• ½ tsp. pepper
• 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 avocado, diced
• ¼ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
• ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
• Tortillas to eat the stir fry with, or whatever you prefer

Instructions-
• Mix the beef, lime juice, and 1 tbsp. chili powder in a bowl and let marinate.
• In a large skillet heat the oil and sauté the onion, bell pepper, and poblano for about 5 minutes. Add the beef mixture to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, cook for about 5 more minutes.
• Combine the beans, avocado, cheese, cilantro, remaining chili powder, and a splash of lime juice in another bowl.
• Serve the beef stir fry on the tortillas and top with the avocado salad. I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband did!

Here is my recipe for apple crisps is so delicious and easy, I make them individual size so we don’t eat too much.  This recipe makes 4 individual apple crisps.

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APPLE CRISPS

Ingredients-
• 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
• 1 tbsp. sugar
• 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
• ¾ cup rolled oats
• ¼ cup flour
• 2 tbsp. brown sugar
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp. salt
• 2 tbsp. melted butter
• 1 cup low-fat whipped cream

Instructions-
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
• In a bowl toss the apples with the sugar and lemon juice, separate into four oven safe bowls
• In another bowl mix the oat, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and butter together until it becomes a crumb-like texture. Sprinkle over the apples and bake for about 10 minutes, let cool, and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!

I hope you had as great of a Saturday as we did!

Until Next Time,

Nancy

Feeling Fabulous, DIY’s to “Glam”

Yesterday I went over to my friend’s house to drop off my crockpot; she is borrowing it for her daughter’s birthday party. It also gave me a little excuse to see her and chat a bit.

When I got there she looked beautiful and so put together. I don’t know about you, but when I am preparing for a party I look like an animal, the opposite of put together. She had her pretty lip gloss on, her hair looked so healthy and done up nicely, and her skin was radiating. I must have looked dumbfounded because she asked what was wrong.

She said she pampered herself the day before to prepare for the chaos of the weekend. I assumed she just went to the spa so I asked which one, surprisingly she said she gave herself a little spa day with DIY’s. WHAT? I know the classic cucumber on the eyes but she looked great. She had gone to a “DIY party” where they shared easy beauty DIY’s.

Being the wonderful friend she is, she made a copy of the DIY’s and shared it with me.
Before I even left her house, I took a glance at the list and realized I had most of the ingredients for many of the “easy beauty hacks.” This morning when I got up, I decided to have a relaxing Sunday and give myself an easy beauty and spa day. All the DIY’s were so easy and I feel so great I couldn’t keep these beauty hacks to myself. Here are the relaxing and rejuvenating beauty DIY’s I used.

If you are going through menopause you know that your hair and scalp can get so dry, so I gave myself a DIY moisturizing hair treatment.

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Ingredients-
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 1 medium avocado
Instructions-
• Mash the avocado in a bowl until it is smooth then add in the honey and mix thoroughly. Apply the mixture to dry or damp hair and let it moisturized for about 15-20 minutes. Rinse with shampoo and conditioner after.

With summer officially over, my feet have been through a lot because I never wear shoes. This DIY foot soak was the greatest thing that has happened to my feet in a while.

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Ingredients-
• 1 cup traditional Listerine mouth wash
• 1 cup vinegar
• 2 cup hot water
Instructions-
• Combine all the ingredients together in a shallow bowl, I used a Tupperware container if that doesn’t gross you out that much. Let your feet soak for about 10 minutes, towel dry, then you can use a pumice stone if you want to get all the dry skin off. My feet thanked me after!

And who doesn’t want a refreshing face mask, this DIY refreshing face mask was so wonderful.

sliced cucumber on white table
Ingredients-
• 1 small/medium cucumber, chopped, grated, blended
• 1 egg white
Instructions-
• Wisk the egg white in a medium bowl until it is frothy, then add the cucumber “mush” into the egg bowl and mix together. I loved the feeling this mask gave my skin. The egg was supposed to tighten the skin and the cucumber refreshes and soothed my skin. I loved it.

I feel so refreshed and glamorous after my DIY spa day at home. Sometimes being in the comfort of my own home instead of an unfamiliar spa is so much more relaxing. I turned off my phone, turned on my favorite music and had a delightful afternoon treating myself.

Do you have any easy DIY beauty tips? I am not a diva but I like to treat myself every once in a while.

Until Next Time,

Nancy

Taking care of the garden

Our raised garden and flower bed is now up and in action. Since building it a couple of weeks ago I haven’t had much time to tend to my beautiful bed, so I dedicated today to planting everything and making it look beautiful. I love how it looks in our backyard, I feel like it should be on HGTV or something like that.

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Before I planted everything this afternoon, I did more web researching about how to keep the soil healthy and full of nutrients. I really want to make the most of it while I am trying to eat healthy and keep my menopause symptoms at a distance.

I read that planting a “cover crop” like alfalfa keeps the soil aerated. Alfalfa has deep root systems that pull work to pull the nutrients from deep in the soil to the surface so they are there for other plants. They also add nitrogen to the soil so the plants grow better.
Another fun fact I found out about raised flower beds is that because the plants have a smaller growing area they shad out weeds. The close spacing makes it easier to water and pick the vegetables that are growing in it.

Because it is the fall I decided to plant transplants that are about a month old so they will grow faster and fill in quicker. I read that replenishing the soil with compost when I replant will help keep the nutrients in the soil. I will definitely try compost as much as I can.

After all my great information I got on the web, I got planting. Living in Florida allows me to plant and garden year round, yay for me. I can’t wait to have my own fresh veggies and flowers. I planted broccoli, lettuce, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and radishes. I also planted some herbs like dill, garlic, and ginger. I bought a few already potted flowers from the store and transplanted them into my garden so it looks colorful and beautiful now. I got some English marigolds, Johnny jump-ups, petunias, among others.

I am very pleased with my raised garden so far. I can’t wait until the vegetable and herb plants start yielding so I can cook using my own veggies.

Until next time,

Nancy

Happy Father’s Day

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Happy Father’s Day to all the daddy’s out there! I think it is important to celebrate our mothers and fathers every day but especially on these days. Bobby and Clara got their father the greatest gift imaginable a couple of years ago, so I had no idea how they would be able to top that. I don’t know how they did it, but they came up with a great idea that their father absolutely loved.

We got him a brand new infrared grill and a cookbook and he was the most surprised I have ever seen him. Bobby and Clara are so cleaver and good at surprising both of us. This year I helped them brainstorm a little but let them take the reins. We decided since we went with such a huge gift in the past, we are going to keep the gift thoughtful and more realistic.

To go along with that gift, Bobby and Clara wanted to get him some new grill tools. I thought it was such a good idea. They found a good deal on a grilling set and got him some “man” spices and sauces that he can use.

This morning we made him breakfast in bed and brought the paper up to him. Bobby and Clara always laugh at the little things that make their father so happy. It is just a reminder to them that it is the little things that really matter.

Because it is Father’s Day and we usually always cook for him, he told us last week that he wants to grill a big juicy steak his way. He is so funny sometimes. I am sure he will love his gift and the spices and sauces and will use them for dinner. Obviously we weren’t opposed to that, it makes it easier for us.

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It is going to be a great rest of the afternoon spending Father’s Day relaxing and then having my husband grill dinner. 🙂

Happy Father’s Day!
Nancy