July Changes and Challenges

First of all, look at this picture! Isn’t it pretty?

I took this yesterday morning just before sunrise.

We also saw a deer for the first time coming out of the trees. To the other side of the yard, there’s a large field with a pond and there’s usually seven to nine cows multiple times a day. This is all very different than being in Charlotte where there was a really busy road on the other side of our backyard. Here, there’s a pond and trees and cows and well, now deer.

It’s August. In my mind, that means we’re on the downhill slide from Summer and headed into Fall. I realize we still have a while yet until we see temperatures below a hundred with equal humidity, but a girl can dream and dream I shall until it becomes a reality that I’m able to open the windows or sit outside by the fire pit and roast marshmallows while watching football.

But back to July for a few minutes…

It started out with me deleting Instagram from my phone. I missed it for a few days in the beginning, but as the month went on, I stopped missing it. I stopped looking for it. I haven’t been on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I have had no voices in my head save my own. I haven’t compared myself or my progress to anyone else. I haven’t spent countless hours scrolling and living vicariously through other authors, publishers, editors, readers, food bloggers, coffee companies, etc… The only social media I’ve had anything to do with has been Pinterest and YouTube.

Pinterest has been something I hadn’t paid attention to in a long while, until the past few weeks when I needed some new recipes.

YouTube is where I go for videos on writing, food, and exercise. And all three of those things changed for me in July.

I wrote a lot. Not by anyone’s standards but mine, but still, I wrote a lot. I didn’t meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goal by any stretch, but I did write. I also added a lot of new story ideas. I mean… Y’all  just have no idea. My brain is constantly coming up with new ideas on the daily. Sometimes more than one a day. There are some started, and there are others percolating in the back of my head. I typically have to write at least one page so I remember what the idea was. I haven’t had this happen in YEARS!

My diet changed. Not because I wanted it to, but because my body decided it wanted it. The change it picked? Dairy. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to do it. But I did… And I started with coffee because of course I did. I figured that if I could find a way to drink coffee without dairy, then I could pretty much handle anything else without dairy. So, I went to Sprouts Farmer’s Market. They are amazing and I love them. I am beyond grateful Greenville has one. They have a large assortment of non-dairy creamer and half and half. I bought several and have been experimenting with them. I can do this. I also began switching out other products that contained to dairy to ones that don’t. Slowly, I’m adjusting and adapting. And there have been a few benefits beyond my stomach not being upset every time I ate… My joints haven’t been hurting as much. A lot of sluggishness and bloating has disappeared. I’m enjoying cooking again. I’ve found a lot of dairy-free information on YouTube that has helped me and recipes on Pinterest. I have a friend who is dairy-free and one who has a daughter who is. They have helped me a lot, as well. I am learning in the kitchen and finding things that work for me. My goal is health and to feel better and to have a little fun with it.

And finally, I am exercising again. I had been walking a lot when we first moved here, but as it became increasingly hotter, that stopped. I don’t want to walk at nine o’clock at night or six in the morning. I don’t want to gasp for breath because the humidity is such that I can’t fight it. I used to do yoga through YouTube videos and walking from home through YouTube videos, so why not try other workouts. I found one that is for women 50 and over who are going through menopause and while the woman is beyond perky and grates on my nerves every so often, her workouts are moderate and short and fairly enjoyable. I like them and they’re helping me get my heart rate up, get my resting heart rate down, move easier, and in general feel better. I haven’t lost any weight, but that isn’t the point for me. The point is health and yes, I do believe you can be healthy at any size if you’re moving, eating balanced, and enjoying the majority of things in your life, laughing and smiling more.

And now that we’re in August, I’m still exercising, still learning all the ins and outs of dairy-free which is a lot plant based, too, and still writing.

I hope you had a good July and while I know some of you love Summer, I know some of you are like me and you’re looking forward to Fall.

I’ll chat with you later.

On Creativity

I use Pinterest a lot. Still. I have 60 public boards and several private boards. I love the different things I find, the visual inspiration. The things that are most repinned are food. I’d like it if other things got equal representation, but food seems to be universal…

I started a new board recently and I titled it On Creativity. I’ve been feeling more and more creatively inspired this year. This is a change. And a good one. A really good one. I didn’t feel creatively inspired last year. Or even the year before. I was kind of slogging through the days, waiting to get to the next one. I wasn’t sure how to approach my writing or even if I could call it a business. I mean, other people did, but was it? Really? And that whole line of thinking has changed for me in the last few weeks. I do see it as a business and more specifically, I see it as a creative business.

Follow Lissa Matthews’s board On Creativity on Pinterest.

Enter my On Creativity Pinterest board. It’s not very full yet. It has links to some books I like, some links to articles I like, some links to infographics and such. It’s about how to find and get creative. It’s for those who need some direction toward creativity in their lives.

According to Merriam-Webster, the simple definition of creativity is: the ability to make things or think of new ideas.

Cool. I can do that. It doesn’t have to be crafts or books. It can be whatever inspires us… Coffee. Cooking. Making things with our hands. Music. Art. Dance. Meditation.

It can be in how we inspire others, too.

On the board is a Pin for TED Talks for Creative Entrepreneurs. I am in love with TED. And I love these because they’re given by people who were once like you and me. They once had a dream. They once needed a road map. When they didn’t have one, they created one. They inspire me to create my own.

I’m going to be talking about creativity throughout the year. I’ll hopefully be able to get a few people to come onto the blog to talk about what inspires creativity in them.

But if you need somewhere to start with creativity, try my Pinterest board, On Creativity…

What Are Leftovers? My Attempt At Meal Planning…

When I was growing up (yes, it’s one of those stories), eating out was a rare thing. Special occasions were when we went to Red Lobster. You also dressed up to go there or to a steak house. You didn’t wear jeans.

Fast food was rare, too. We’d stop at McDonald’s on the way out of town for a quick on the road dinner or breakfast. Taco Bell was a once every couple of weeks thing. And we rarely ever ordered pizza out unless it was for a party.

No, we ate at home. You wanted pizza, we made it. Tacos, we made them, too. Cheeseburgers? There was a secret recipe and they were famous among family and friends. We didn’t eat out on a regular basis as we all do now. And when I say we, it’s a collective society WE.

My parents worked, sometimes crazy hours, but 90% of the time, we ate at home.

But, it’s been a problem in our house, the eating out more than we should. I’m the only cook. My kids have no interest in cooking (they better marry a chef or have a really high paying job so they can eat out). I’ve tried, but nah. My spouse has no interest in learning how to cook much either. And, I get tired of being the only one, no matter how much I love doing it. But eating out is too expensive on a regular basis. Too many meals can be made from just what a family of four spends eating out at some place like Applebee’s.

Now, I’ve tried this before and life got the best of me and it was working out really well. I’m doing it again in the hopes that it sticks this time.

I loosely plan meals. I find dishes I want to make or try and buy all the ingredients for them for the week. I pick a cookie or something to bake (I haven’t yet this week). I buy all the breakfast stuff and the lunch stuff to make sandwiches. And I do my best to stay out of the store the rest of the week. It didn’t work this week, but maybe it’ll work better in the coming weeks.

I make things that are hearty and will have leftovers. Casseroles. Stews and chilis and soups.

We used to dread leftover when I was a kid. It was like, “but we had that last night’. Little did I know how much I’d come to love having leftovers in the fridge. It makes life so much easier, especially on the weekends when people are hungry ALL THE TIME!

The links to the recipes I made this week are as follows:

  1. French Onion Chicken and Rice Bake
  2. Grown Up Cheeseburger Macaroni
  3. Mexican Lasagna
  4. Crock-Pot Ravioli Casserole

Most recipes I try I have found on food blogs and Pinterest. I haven’t decided what we’ll have in the upcoming week, but I’m thinking something with shrimp, and maybe a beef stew… It helps to know what we’re having each night, using the crock pot especially, even just once and yes, I know there were only 4 recipes, but, there are enough leftovers for Friday and Saturday without someone eating the same thing more than twice in one week. And dinner on Sundays is typically, breakfast.

Do you cook at home? Do you plan meals? I’d love to know your tips and tricks.



Sweet Saturday

Lone Star Sweets has new covers created by TEZ Graphics. They’re beautiful. Bright. Light. And reflect the series.

I’ve flipped out the older covers and inserted all the new ones. I’ve uploaded all new information to Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and Barnes and Noble. Amazon seems to be taking the longest to get everything going in the right direction, but eventually, they’ll all be there and looking good. (more…)

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