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10 Ways To Make Eating At Home Fun & Easy!

So I shared my monthly goals HERE and my top priority for May was to rein in our spending for the month on eating out. I am happy to report that a week into “No Spending Month” we haven’t deviated from our plan and I only spent $183 for all of our groceries FOR THE WHOLE MONTH. (Sorry to yell, but I was really excited about this!)

Here are 10 ways I make it fun and easy and not the boring and dreaded “cook every night same meal kinda thing”:

1. Freezer Crockpot Meals

About once every three months I will make freezer meals such as spaghetti sauce, chili, taco meat, etc. There are a ton of lists and recipes available online. Grab a friend or family member and make a day of it. Here are a few suggestions :

12-easy-freezer-meals-2-hours

Freezer Meals On The Cheap

7 Meals In 70 Minutes

30 Summer Freezer Meals

2. Plan your menu a week or month in advance

I have planned our menu for the whole month for at least 15 years now. It makes grocery shopping so much easier even if you go shopping every week, every two weeks or once a month. I take inventory of what I have on hand and plan the menus around my pantry and freezer and fill in with meals as needed. This saves time and money and takes some of the “what should we have for dinner?” thinking out of my day.

3. Snacks & Movie Night

We usually have snacks and movie night on Saturday or Sunday nights. Some nights its chips and dip and veggies with rolled lunch meat. Other nights I make something more. Calling it snacks somehow makes it seem like less work!

4.  Breakfast for Dinner

Enough said. There is something to be said about having pancakes for dinner!

5. Soup & Crackers

Or tomato soup and grilled cheese or soup and sandwich or soup and salad. You get the idea.

6. Bits & Pieces

AKA known as leftovers, but cut into smalls bits and pieces and served buffet style. Add little sauces next to your leftover bits of steak or meatloaf. Add a little cheese to the broccoli. My daughter loved bits and pieces night when she was younger. I think it was fun for the smaller bites and a variety of food.

7. Picnic On The Patio

A change of scenery from the dinner table always helps the meal seem more special. I love using the grill too. Saves with clean up. Everyone fixes their plates and brings it outside. A picnic on the patio is sometimes what is needed to just enjoy each other’s company without distractions.

8. Make It A Family Affair

There have been many nights when I just don’t want to make dinner (a lot lately) and I have just had to ask for some help. Let each family member pick one item to prepare and spend time together in the kitchen.

9. Salad Bar 

Many nights, especially in the Summer, its too hot to cook. You can pick up many pre-chopped, pre-sliced items at the grocery store. Often it only takes a little time to slice and dice and prepare a small salad bar with veggies, meats and cheeses. This way everyone gets the salad they want. Plus less heat in the kitchen.

10. Remember why you are doing this

I hung up a sign on the refigerator with our financial goals. It will all be worth it!!

Step in faith,

May Goals {Free printables}

Hi Friends! A long absence, I know. This chemotherapy treatment is not for the faint of heart. I never knew how hard and debilitating chemotherapy could be. I have finished the strongest chemotherapy treatment and am now on a weekly regimen with a drug called Pacitaxel (Taxel for short). The side effects are few (dry skin, bone pain and diarrhea…just keeping it real, but they are bearable).

Nonetheless, I have renewed energy and excited to continue on with some sort of “normal” life with writing my book, writing this blog, and running our business. In that spirit, I decided to make some goals for myself and share a few free printables so you can be inspired to set your own May goals.

Business & Finance

  1. May is a no spend month for our family. We have had several no spend months. Some successful, but even the not so successful end up being okay because we end up spending less than normal.  It has been really easy for us to eat out because of my lack of energy and “don’t care right now” attitude while undergoing chemotherpy. I am going to give our family some grace on this because Wayne works so hard at our business and Hannah works full-time and is a student full-time. We are doing a study at church about “Breaking the Yolk of Debt”. Its a reality check for us though. If we want to reach our financial goals, we must stick to a plan. We will use cash envelopes and only spend from the cash we have in our envelopes for our essentials. I have made our monthly food menu and eating at home is the main agenda.
  2. This blog needs some love. I am scheduling a couple of hours a day to devote to sharing and inspiring! I have so many ideas to share with you. I hope you will stick around and connect! I will be starting a new series called She Can Do It! I will show you basic skills such as writing a budget, changing a tire, sewing a button, simple glazed cookies. We will have fun learning new things!

Family & Relationships

  1. I am so blessed for the family and friends that have supported me throughout My Breast cancer Journey.  Without their help, I would be lost. I have spent a great deal of time one on one with each of my family members. I am just going to love on them this month!
  2. I have a story that needs to be told. It is about my Dad and his untimely death. His death is heart-breaking, but I am determined to share his story so that it may help others. I am in the process of writing a book and will share the first chapter here on the blog this month.  I hope it will inspire you to write a Last Will & Testament/ Trust and an Advanced Care Directive.

Health & Fitness

  1. I am not setting any exercise or diet goals this month. My doctor  wants me to watch what I eat, but not deprive myself of any certain food. I have NO energy for exercise. My doctor wants to me to conserve all the energy I have. My goal this month will be to keep my positive attitude in check.  My prognosis is good and I want to do everything the doctor tells me to do.

She Can Do It!

  1. I have set a goal to read two books this month and I will share my reviews with you here. I am excited to read Unashamed by Christine Caine

 

and Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst

  1. I am doing a Facebook Bible Study with Unskinny Boppy,  Jennifer Rizzo, Stone Gable, and At The Picket Fence called Comparison Trap. Looking forward to sharing all I am learning about comparing myself to others and how we can stop this trap we all fall into.

Now on to the May printables! I would love to hear about your May goals!  We are here to Share. Inspire. Connect.

 PRINT HERE

PRINT HERE

PRINT HERE

Step in Faith…

 

Happy Spring {and a few updates on Life}

Hi Friends,

The last 10 days we have had glorious warm weather, but today is overcast and chilly. I am not going to let the skies rin my excitement for the first day of Spring!

My posts have been sporadic, but this chemo is kicking my butt. I thought I would give you a few updates about what’s been happening.

Chemo / Breast Cancer

I have had three chem treatments so far. They are spaced two weeks apart. My doctor tells me my cell levels will dip low at about two days after chemo and he has been right on the mark. The first day of treatment, I tend to take a nap in the afternoon. The next day, I am a little tiresome with muscle aches. The third day is very hard. My Mom is here for the full day while I am resting on day three. The hardest part of this whole experience is not being able to do the things I want to do and not going to the places I want to go. Its a small sacrifice for saving my life, but quite depressing nonetheless. I will share the whole chemo experience with you soon.

Vision

I visited my Retina Specialist this past month. The chemo will affect my eyesight in the worst way. However, my doctor prescribed me anti-inflammatory drops three times a day to keep the swelling at bay while i am going through treatment. I haven’t noticed any worsening in my eyesight except for my cataracts. I am very used to my eyesight being poor and I adapt to seeing differently.

Disability

Do you know that Stage 3 Breast Cancer and Low Vision still do not qualify for Social Security Disability? I applied last year when I lost part of my eyesight and was denied. I applied again in December and have not heard a decision. I am so grateful to have a business that can sustain our expenses. What do others do in this same situation?

State of the Blog

I have so many ideas  running through my head of ideas to share, tutorials to teach and encouraging stories. I just have to find the energy right now to write them down in posts. My goal is to teach, inspire, share and connect. I will update all my series pages this week and freshen up the blog. I will do my best to try to be consistent, but the ultimate goal is to live. AND live happily. I will be sharing a tutorial this week on how to make my sugar cookies with glaze. Just in time to gather your supplies for Easter cookies. I hope you will stick around! I love having you here!

{Part 2}

If you missed Part 1, catch it here!

On the afternoon of August 10, 2016 I received a call from my stepmom telling me my Dad passed away. I would later find out, my stepmom had signed the paperwork to remove my Dad from oxygen and feeding tube. My brothers and I were not asked nor were we made aware that her plans were to disconnect him from life support. She did not allow anyone to be present except for a woman she had met in the waiting room only three weeks prior. I was devastated. I learned two days later from my Dad’s heart doctor that my Dad’s prognosis was good and that the doctor begged her to wait and not disconnect him. I struggle every. single. day. with her decision. I don’t believe she had the right to make the decision to end his life. , especially based on what his doctor claims was a full recovery. I have many, many questions regarding my Dad’s death. I sought legal advice and that is ongoing. I hope to find the answers I am seeking.

The rest of August was spent healing, both from my Dad’s death and my surgery. At the end of August, my Mom decided she wanted to move to California to be closer to our family. We made arrangements to start her move across country.  This would involve selling her house, having a huge garage sale and packing the rest of her belongings and driving us all to California.  While packing her house in Indiana, we received a letter from an attorney my stepmom had hired. It stated I could not pursue probate or any legal action to obtain my Dad’s medical records because I was not his biological daughter nor did my Dad adopt me. Another set of challenges and emotional to say the least. After a discussion between lawyers coupled with proof of my Dad being my father , my stepmom agreed to sign the paperwork releasing the copies of the medical records. 2,000 pages total.  I am still not able to read all of the records. It is too painful for me to see his struggle in medical terms. In due time I will read it all and hopefully find the answers I am looking for.

Our trip across country turned into a bit of a vacation. I was feeling better physically by this time and we decided to take our time driving to California. Wayne and Hannah flew to Indiana the day before we left and my nephew decided to come and stay with us in California, so there were five of us travelling. One of the best parts of the trip was stopping to eat at restaurants where the food was indigenous to the area. Our first dinner was in Memphis, Tennessee. We ate a great restaurant with the best barbecue I have ever tasted. We spent the night in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Nest stop was Texas. My stepsister lives in Fort Worth, Texas. One night was not going to be enough time to explore Texas so we stayed two nights. The Stockyard and Magnolia Farms were just two of the places we visited. We had a great time just exploring all the sights and food of Dallas and Fort Worth.

And then I found a lump in my breast. It was October 12, 2016. I will never forget that date. I didn’t tell anyone while we were in Texas. I wanted to enjoy our visit and not worry anyone. I thought for sure I had injured my breast  while loading furniture or I just had a blocked duct. I ended up sharing the news with Wayne at the hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At that point I couldn’t wait to get home to make an appointment with my doctor.

I plan to share “My Breast Cancer Journey” every step of my treatment. It will be a long process. I will pick up the rest of my story with you in my next post. I hope my story will help women who are going through the same thing as I am and help women to know what to look for .

Reflecting back on the past two years is emotional, but empowering. I made it though losing my vision, sickness of Hannah, my daughter, Wayne’s PTSD, the deaths of both my father and stepfather, the betrayal of my stepmom and aunt, a cancer scare and tumor resulting in a hysterectomy, eight surgeries in a year and a half and finally breast cancer. We all go through storms in our lives. Many times I didn’t know how I was going to see through this storm. It was not easy physically,  emotionally or financially. I was strong spiritually. I tightened my grip on my FAITH. I know God has held my hand through this. I am grateful that i am able to see what HE had in store for me all along. He has given me strength so that I can share my experiences and help others along  the way. Had I not gone through the storm, I would not know what to say to other women who are experiencing struggles. Now I know.

I have my goals set out before me. In times of crisis or trouble, I think it is important to dream and set goals for yourself. It helps to maintain some control over your life when it feels like everything is out of control. What trials are you going through? What goals can you set for yourself? Even small goals WILL be worth it. It is time to move ahead to the path in front of us. Will you join me?

{Part 1}

As bad as I thought 2015 was at the beginning of last year, 2016 proved to be the worst year of my life. I want to be positive and say that I am sure I will learn some valuable lessons from all that has happened last year, but first I must rest and fight for my life from everything that has happened in 2016. Reflecting on 2016 will allow me to dig deep and perhaps start 2017 with a fresh outlook. I share my story with you to show that even in the darkest times, living life to the fullest is always possible.

January brought  fresh perspective. Literally. My third eye surgery was in November 2015 and my eyesight slowly improved. I no longer had to wear contact lenses and use a magnifying glass to look at my over-sized computer monitor.  (You can read all about my eye surgeries HERE). However, I started experiencing some pain in my lower right side and made an appointment to see my primary doctor to get checked. On a brighter note, my Dad planned his move to Southern California from Northern California. It was nice to have him be closer to our family again after he had lived away for a year and a half.

In February I had surgery on my left eye. The purpose of this surgery was to pull together the back half and front half of my eye so that I can slow the myopic degeneration occurring in my eyes.  I was glad this would be the last step in my long journey to eyesight recovery.

In February, I had an ultrasound on my abdomen and the tests came back abnormal. The ultrasound revealed a large tumor n my right side. I I dealt with the pain as best as I could and was hopeful that pain probably means I don’t have cancer. We started scheduling doctor appointments with specialists to figure out the plan to remove the tumor.

I continued my eye surgery recovery in March. Around this time, a shift happened in my relationship with my Dad. He became very combative and negative with me and everyone around him. His health began to decline. His skin was very wrinkled and dry. He no longer tested his blood sugar or ate healthily, which for a diabetic is critical. After a miserable Easter holiday with him, I chose to create some relationship boundaries and tell him I needed space  from him if he continued to have a poor and negative attitude towards me and others. This decision proved to be life changing.

Another life changing event happened in March when my daughter, Hannah, called us to tell us she wanted to move home from college. She had been unhappy at college for several months. She cried and my heart was breaking that she was so miserable. She shared that she wanted to change her major from Pre-Med to Nursing. There is nothing her Dad and I want more than for her to be happy in her future. We moved her home at the end of the quarter and began “healing” her heart and soul from anxiety.
I was so happy to see Spring arrive. It had been a long Winter and I was looking forward to improving eyesight, Hannah being home helped and it looked as if things were stabilizing except for the tumor. Hannah signed  for Summer courses at our local college and our business was booming. I was scheduled for exploratory surgery at the beginning of May. My Mom was able to fly from Indiana and take care of me during my recovery. Surgery in May went well. The tumor was discovered attached to both my right ovary and uterus. My doctor and I decided the best course was for me to have a hysterectomy and right ovary removal. Surgery was scheduled for August. Those weeks of waiting for surgery was troubling and depressing. I was nervous I had cancer and just wanted the surgery over with.

When July rolled in I was recovering from surgery well and just waiting for my next surgery in August. However, on July 10, I received a phone call from my brother in Arizona. He wanted to know what was wrong with Dad. Since I had not heard from my Dad or stepmom since March, I wasn’t sure what he meant. My brother explained that he received a text from my stepmom telling him and my youngest brother in Indiana that Dad had suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital. Since both brothers live out of state, I called my stepmom to find out what was happening with Dad. She never answered my call, but did answer my subsequent text. My stepmom stated she didn’t know if I wanted to know since I said I wanted nothing to do with my Dad, which was untrue. The month of July would prove to be the hardest time emotionally for me as my Dad spent the rest of the month of July in a coma. The emotional tug of war between me and my brothers against my stepmom was exhausting and heart breaking.

I had surgery on August 5  2016. This was my sixth surgery in 13 months. I was exhausted emotionally and fearful my Dad would die while I was in the hospital, but since the threat of cancer was possible, I knew I had to continue with the surgery as planned. My surgery was successful, but the recovery was painful. I was released from the hospital on August 8, 2016. I was so fortunate to have my Mom and Wayne and Hannah with me to assist in my recovery, but the worst was yet to come.

Looking forward to sharing the rest of the story in my next post. Until then….

 

 

And Life Goes On….

As much as I want my life around me to stop so I can catch up, it doesn’t. Life still goes on. Days pass and the feeling of not being able to catch my breath and organize my thoughts continue. Until now….

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Its time for a fresh perspective. Its time to remove the toxic people out of my life who don’t support me or encourage me or love me without conditions. When I walk through an open door, I choose who I want to walk with me through it. I don’t have to settle for family relationships that leave me feeling empty and bitter. I don’t have to keep friends who intimidate me or fail to encourage me. We only have one life to live!

I choose to walk through a new door and leave behind the family members who have abandoned me in my grief. I choose to leave the drama behind me in regards to decisions I have made that people disagree with. I choose to live with a clean heart and a fresh start.

This week I will be traveling to Indiana to pack and move my Mom to California! Now THIS is opening a new door!  Wayne, Hannah and I will be driving from Indiana to California with my Mom and nephew Shea. We are going to make this trip as fun as possible! Scheduled stops are  Branson, MO: Fort Worth, TX: Waco, TX (yes, Magnolia Farms here we come!); Amarillo, TX and Albequerque  NM before heading home and our new life together. I hope to treat you to posts and pictures along the way.

In the meantime, I’ll finish up my hysterectomy journey on the blog and tell you a little about ME and whats next for the blog.