Living Simple

a happy & healthy way of life

Friendship Breakup


I have to admit I have never really found any girlfriends as great as the friends I had when I was in school.  A few years ago when I went through my divorce I thought I found a long lasting friendship, but when I look back now I know it was never meant to last.  How do you know when you have outgrown a friendship?  I recently had to ask myself this question and the answers for me were obvious.  It was definitely time to breakup!

I have tried to gradually pull away from this particular friend in the past because I could feel how her negative rants were beginning to effect me.  I even found myself taking on her thought process and applying it to my own relationship, which was never good. I believe the only reason we have remained friends this long is because she needed a sympathetic ear and in turn it made me feel wise and needed.  So for a while the friendship worked but in the last year it has progressively gotten worse.  I found myself trying to be the sympathetic ear on a weekly basis, giving the same advice over and over. The fun stuff like drinks after work and our lunch and dinner dates were all consumed with conversation about her awful relationship.  Then she stopped attending any invites and basically just called, emailed or text me with all her problems. I was nothing more than her ranting tree and I felt used up and frustrated. At one point I even pointed it out and she apologized but the very next day it started all over again!

Her monthly emotional break-downs have become more frequent and the good times have become nonexistent.  Basically it has become an unhealthy relationship and I am the only one who seems to notice.  I came to a  point where I had nothing nice left to say.  So I decided to end the friendship  which feels a lot like breaking up with a boyfriend.  I told her that I wish her luck on trying the same old crap over and over and expecting different results.  I went on to say she is crazier than a outhouse rat if she thinks that she is ever going to change him and not to come crying to me in 3 weeks when she starts this emotional roller coaster ride all over again!

That is not the exact words I used but pretty close.  The fact that I didn’t feel any since of guilt afterward made it even more clear that I had indeed outgrown the friendship. The next day I kept expecting to feel a bit regretful but instead I felt like a weight had been lifted.  She simply said she was sorry and that I was her best friend.  As I sit here writing this I think….of course I was her best friend, nobody else would have put up with that craziness!  All the times she cried to me that she was a fool for staying with this guy and I am thinking that I was the fool for listening to her cry about the same crap for 4 years!  I started feeling drained and depressed after each conversation.  I do hope she finds her happiness but not at the risk of mine…     

So as part of my fresh start for the new year I have decided to not only declutter my home and detox my body but also detox my relationships. Closing the door on a friendship is not always easy but I have been missing the person I originally became friends with for a while now. People change and unfortunately not always for the better.

Refer to this article that explains in detail the “dark side of friendship”….

http://womenonthefence.com/2010/01/13/the-dark-side-of-friendship/#more-2208

Back to the Basics


Now that the holiday season is over I must admit I am a bit relieved. I cut back on the amount of money I spent this holiday but still felt something was missing.  I recently read an article about how a couple made at least one homemade or handmade gift for their children every Christmas. I have decided to cut back even more next Christmas by following this example.  I plan to knit some scarves, make jelly and salsa, some baked goods and research a few other creative projects throughout the year.  My daughter will be turning 11-years-old in another week and I think it will be a good way to reinforce that Christmas is more than just gifts under the tree.  I hope to start a new tradition with my daughter that she can some day pass on to her children.  

As I get older I feel this overwhelming need to get back to the basics.  Keeping a clean and uncluttered home and cooking more home cooked meals has become more of a priority.  Having a garden every year and learning to do some canning, like my Mom, has become an interest.  I would like to start knitting and sewing again, which I haven’t done since 4-H club many years ago!  I may even take on the art of making a quilt!  There is nothing more cozy than a hot cup of herbal tea while reading a good book, wrapped in a handmade quilt. 

My daughter often feels a bit disappointed that she can’t buy gifts for others without a parents help.  As I teach her she can begin creating her own special gifts to give all on her own.  Timeless traditions like knitting, sewing and canning are becoming a lost art with all the new technology and our overly busy lifestyles.  I am planning to slow things down a bit this year and simply get back to the basics.   The following is a recipe that I love and found from the Queen Bee of homemade…Martha Stewart.  MarthaStewart.com is full of wonderful recipes for homemade jellys and jams!

To sterilize jars, submerge clean ones in boiling water for ten minutes. Use new lids, and sterilize them according to manufacturer’s instructions. Jars should remain in hot water until they are ready to be filled. For complete instructions, refer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s canning guidelines at foodsafety.cas.psu.edu/canningguide.html. Try this jam with yogurt or toast topped with fresh ricotta cheese.

Yield Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds yellow peaches, peeled
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large sprigs fresh rosemary

Directions

  1. Halve and pit peaches, then cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Transfer to a large bowl. Add lemon juice; toss. Add sugar and rosemary; toss. Cover; let stand, tossing every hour, for 4 hours (sugar should be completely dissolved).
  2. Put peach mixture into a large, wide pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until liquid is syrupy, 12 to 13 minutes. Crush lightly with a potato masher, leaving one-quarter of the wedges intact. Skim foam from surface. Discard rosemary sprigs.
  3. Seal and process: Fill hot, sterilized 4-ounce jars with hot jam, leaving 1/4 inch space in each jar’s neck. Wipe rims with a clean, damp cloth; cover tightly with sterilized lids and screw rings. Transfer jars, using tongs or a jar clamp, to the rack of a large canning pot filled with hot water, keeping jars upright; cover with water by 2 inches. (Jars should be spaced 1 inch apart and should not touch sides of pot.) Cover; bring to a boil. Process jars in gently boiling water 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool 24 hours. If lids pop back when pressed, they are not sealed; refrigerate immediately, and use within 1 month. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place up to 1 year.

What handmade crafts or homemade goodies are your favorites?  What kind of traditions do you treasure with your family?

Winter Remedies


I have learned that my body has certain signs and symptoms that alert me that I am on the verge of sickness. Usually I feel tired, achy and chilled.  Those symptoms are all it takes for me to spring into action with my tried and true remedies.  I get the winter blues every January or February.  The long, cold, dark days are depressing and basically my body goes into hibernation mode. It seems to take a lot more energy to just get through the basic routine of each day.  So over the years I have found a few essentials that help me stay energized and keep my immune system at full throttle.

When I get home from work and I have had a long stressful day I sometimes feel my immune system trying to crash out on me.  So for dinner I make some fresh juice and eat some chicken noodle soup.  If I feel chilled I  take a hot bath and I make sure I get the bathroom as warm as possible with a little space heater.  I add a few drops of tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil and lavender oil to the bath and I soak for about twenty minutes while sipping on a hot cup of chamomile tea with honey and lemon.  After my bath I dress warm and drink a large glass of water to start flushing out my system.  Keeping hydrated is important on a daily basis but becomes even more important with the signs of a cold or flu. 

After dinner and a hot bath I take a few vitamins like a natural sinus support supplement called formula 301 and a supplement called basic antioxidant.  If I am feeling really achy I take a pain reliever called Traumeel that dissolves under the tongue and does not have the negative effects that other pain relievers do if taken on a regular basis.  If you are having stomach flu systems a good probiotic is essential. Vitamins A, E and C are all very good for every day health but vitamin D really makes a difference with seasonal depression. Finally, and most importantly, I go to bed at least an hour earlier than usual when I feel a little under the weather.  This helps the body get a jump on whatever your immune system is trying to fight off and lets the supplements do their job.

The next morning I usually take a hot shower and do a saline wash in my sinus’. Also, keeping my teeth brushed and rinsing and gargling with a good mouthwash like Listerine helps, sometimes I even soak my toothbrush in Listerine.  I usually increase my fluids and try to eat warm soups and fresh fruits and veggies. I try to avoid dairy because it seems to create more mucus and of course sugar compromises the immune system.   Hot tea is a wonderful remedy for sinus drainage and sore throat, some brands even make a special sore throat tea.  I always keep a bottle of zinc lozenges in my desk at work for sore throats as well.  Local. all natural honey is also an excellent immune builder. Honey helps your body naturally build immunity to allergens in the area you live and it is much better for your body than over the counter allergy medications.

Usually after a couple of days of this routine I feel better but I continue for at least three more days to be sure.  Once I get to feeling better I do a juice and water detox for one to three days.  A detox seems to act as a reset button for my body and I immediately feel a burst of energy.  These remedies work for any time of year but I find I use them most during the Winter months.  A little down time with a good book doesn’t hurt either…

Positive Habits Update


A couple of months ago I wrote a blog under Simply Thoughtful entitled Creating Positive Habits.  I promised to check in and let you know my chosen habit for each month and whether or not it actually became a habit.  Well I must say that so far my chosen habits have been fairly easy to maintain and I am feeling pretty good about myself.

I planned to start a new habit eat month and at this point I have created two healthy habits for myself.  In November I started flossing every evening before bed and for the month of December I started eating breakfast every morning.  I have not always been a morning person and skipped breakfast often. Both of these habits have already proved to be beneficial.  Healthier and less sensitive gums that do not bleed as easy from the regular flossing and much fresher breath!  As for eating breakfast, well that is obvious, more energy and eating less throughout the rest of the day.

With my Ultimate To Do List recently posted I have decided to accomplish something off my list by making it my January habit.  I will exercise every day.  I have already been working towards this habit the past couple of months and usually getting 3 to 4 days of exercise a week.  Now that the holidays are over I should be able to really buckle down and see some results.  Join me in creating some healthy positive habits for the new year!

Healthy Perspective


I haven’t posted in a couple of months but the sudden urge to write has come upon me yet again. November and December have been enjoyable with friends and family and I just turned another year older this week.  So now it is time to get back down to business and refocus.  I am a planner at heart and I have this need to have a routine in my life. I get easily distracted and off course if I don’t.  I am not going to make a big New Years Resolution…because I don’t think they ever really happen. However,  I am going to make a list of things I would like to accomplish throughout the year.  I guess you can call it my 2012 bucket list.

The idea is that if I don’t accomplish it then I must not have really wanted it in the first place so there really is no loss. The fact is I love lists and being able to check things off the list is even better. So I figure if I can make a daily to do list at my office or home then why can’t I create “The Ultimate To Do List” for the whole year?  I am putting this list down for all to see and by this time next year I can look back and see if I really have my priorities straight when it comes to what is important to me.  By the end of 2012 I hope to have a better perspective on what is important to me and what I need to give up on.

I have decided to create my Ultimate To Do List with 10 items, some fairly easy and some a bit more challenging.  So here it goes…

1.  Exercise every day.  Start out with just 15 minutes a day and gradually work my way up until my exercise routine is 30 minutes.

2.  Write every day.  It doesn’t matter if I do my blog, write my journal or write a letter to a friend. The only way to get better at something is to practice.

3. Learn a new Spanish word or phrase every week and actively use it.

4. Pick up my guitar and practice and learn at least one full song on it by the end of the year.

5.  Take some continuing education classes for my career.

6. Take time each day to pray, meditate and be thankful. By focusing on the positives and being thankful for what I have I will find peace and happiness with who I am and where I am in life.

7.  Travel to a place I have never been.

8.  Plant a bigger vegetable, herb & flower garden & start a compost heap.

9. Completely clean my house and reorganize. Get rid of clutter & simplify.

10. Pay off all my bills and buy a new car.

With this list I am on the road to a whole new and improved me!  After finishing the Jillian Michaels book Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional Life, I feel confident that all of the things on my list will be checked off by next birthday.  I highly recommend this book if you are having trouble starting and finishing goals.  I know it won’t always be easy but nothing worth having is.  So what would you put on your Ultimate To Do List?

Changing My Mind About Exercise


The benefits of regular exercise are undeniable.  Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of regular exercise and it is starting to show. I have always seen exercise as a form of work and at the end of a long work day it is the last thing I really want to do.  However, I have noticed the last three or four years my body does not bounce back as quickly as it use to.  There was a time when I could just cut back a bit on the  junk food and increase my water intake and easily lose 5 lbs in a weekend but not anymore.  I am finally giving in to the fact that I must start factoring in some regular exercise or move up to the double digit sizes in the near future.  The extra steps from parking out farther from the store or simply taking the stairs is not cutting it anymore either. I need some serious cardio and muscle toning exercise.  

I recently devised a plan to get on my treadmill at least 30 minutes every day in the month of November.  Unfortunately I came down with a cold and have missed most of first week, but I am not giving up.  I know I need to get a more positive outlook on exercise. My main problem is I have always looked at exercise like work instead of something enjoyable and beneficial.  I have a friend who loves exercise and considers it a hobby!  She has often tried to motivate and coach me into creating a positive habit of exercising more often without success.  I can’t deny the benefits I have had from exercising but I never seem to stick with it. So this year I am not going to just create an exercise plan I must create a whole new way of thinking.

I know I need a flexible routine because the all or nothing mindset has only caused me a major case of burnout before I ever see significant results.  So how do I retrain my brain to think exercise is fun?  Well I have done my research and learned from past mistakes and this time I think I have a pretty good game plan.  Instead of plodding away on the treadmill every day I am just simply going to wear this nifty little pedometer my boyfriend recently gave me.  Day one I simply want to see what my average steps will be without really trying, just to set a base line. Then on day two I will try to increase my steps and go up a little more each day. I have also decided to do just one exercise each morning before I start my day, like 3 sets of 20 squats, which shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.  I figured out time is really an issue with me when it comes to exercise.  If I break up exercising into multiple little intervals throughout the day I will be more likely to stick with it without getting burnout.

The other problem I have found with exercising in a healthy manner is how long it takes to get results.  I want to see results on the scales!   When two weeks go by and the scale has only budged by a couple of pounds it can be really defeating and is enough to make a girl want to throw in the towel.  So this time I am not going to set my goals by a number on a scale but more for how I look and feel in my clothes.  I know that muscle weighs more than fat and if I am working out daily the scales may not be the best or only way to chart my progress. I have chose a certain pair of jeans I love, but they just don’t fit quite like they use to, and that is going to be how I chart my progress this time.

The final issue that has been a mental block for me in the past is my reasons for wanting to get a great body.  I want to prove to my boyfriend that I still got it and can look even better than I did when we first met!  I also want to be able to wear anything and look comfortable and cute without trying to cover up some flaw.  I know I shouldn’t care what others think.  I should want to exercise simply for the health benefits and because it makes me happy.  Well of course I want to be healthy but I also want to prove to myself that I can do it and in the process prove to those around me that I can. 

 A couple of summers ago my boyfriend and I went floating on a river and I saw a young women, probably ten years younger than me, and I pointed her out to my boyfriend.  I said that I wanted my body to look like hers and my boyfriend said, no way, it will never happen!  At first I was shocked he said this, then I became a bit frustrated because I really do believe I could have a body like hers and maybe even better!  Since that incident, which I am sure my boyfriend doesn’t even remember, I have thought how wonderful it would be to prove him wrong.  I am going to remind myself of his words every time I think of giving up.  At one time I actually thought maybe he was right…  I am older now and just going to have to give up the idea of a Victoria Secret model body…but I really don’t think I have to.  I mean, he thinks Jennifer Aniston is the hottest thing since sliced bread and that woman is almost 10 years older than me!  If she can do it, then so can I! 

Obviously exercise is much more of a mental challenge for me than a physical one.  As my exercise junky friend says….you simply must DECIDE, COMMIT and SUCCEED!  So much easier said than done but this time I have decided I am really going to prove myself!

Natural Remedies for Skin


Everything from age to climate can effect the biggest organ of our body.  Our skin can show many signs of illness and irratation.  There are certain methods and oils that can have a very positive effect on the skin, depending on the condition of your skin.  I mentioned previously in Aromatherapy 101 that massage and baths can be very beneficial for body and mind.  Along with bath and massage you can create an all natural skin care routine so clean and simple you will never go back!

Compresses, steaming, facial massages and masks are all wonderful ways to revitalize skin. Hot compresses are easy, especially if your skn is too sensitive or irritated to use a carrier oil. Facial steaming helps hydrate and stimulate skin by opening skin pores to help it breath. Simply add a few drops of the oil of choice to a bowl of hot water and cover your head with a towel to prevent the steam from escaping. Steaming is also wonderful for colds and congestion!  Facial massage  is wonderful to help relax and sooth the skin.  You can add the oil of your choice to oatmeal and water and create a wonderful facial mask. Mix into a paste and smooth on face, leave until it dries and rinse with warm water. For a more moisture rich mask , use plain yogurt and blend with vitamin E  or jojoba oil. 

If you suffer from acne a few of the best oils include:  bergamot, lavender, camphor, geranium, chamomile, rose, sandalwood,eucalyptus, tea tree and lemon.  Use a couple of drops of lavender and one drop of lemon to compress on a pimple.  

If you have chapped skin try: chamomile, geranium, lavender, rose or sandalwood. Mix 1 teaspoon of carrier oil, like Vitamin E and 2 or three drops of chamomile and massage face.

Dry skin benefits from geranium, jasmine, lavender, orange, rose and sandalwood. 1 drop of geranium and 2 drops of jasmine to a teaspoon of  Vitamin E oil for another soothing facial massage.

 Inflamed or irritated skin does well with chamomile, geranium, peppermint, rose, sandalwood, tea tree and lavender. A drop of rose oil and 2 drops of geranium with  a teaspoon of jojoba oil is very soothing for irritated skin. 

Itchy skin: cedarwood, jasmine, peppermint and chamomile.   

 Mature or aging skin:  frankincense, lavender, neroli, rose and sandalwood. 

 Oily skin:  bergamot, cedarwood, juniper, cypress and any oils mentioned earlier for acne. 

 Sensitive skin benefits from jasmine, orange, chamomile and rose.

  Normal skin benefits from bergamot, cedarwood, geranium, lavender, neroli, chamomile, rose, sandalwood.

Because essential oils are concentrated it is better to dilute them with a carrier oil.  Carrier oils help the oil to penetrate the skin better!  Pure and unrefined cold pressed vegetable, nut or seed oils are recommended and not mineral oil. 

My favorites include: Grapeseed oil, no scent and great for massage, Jojoba oil, this is not an oil but a liquid wax and does not turn rancid, it isn’t greasy and it penetrates deeply.  Olive oil is a good basic oil but has a strong aroma.  Sunflower oil is good for all skin types and sweet almond oil is excellent for all skin types and blends well.  Vitam E is great for facial use.

Remember with essential oils a little goes a long way! 

Natural skin care smells simply wonderful, is very beneficial and brings out creativity making it fun!

November 30 Day Challenge


My last post in Simply Thoughtful was about my plan to create positive habits in my life.  Choose a new habit I want to create and focus on it for thirty days. The point is hopefully to create a life-long habit. So my November challenge is to get on my treadmill for 30 minutes every day.

The reason I chose the treadmill is because it has been almost a year since the treadmill was purchased and I am lucky if I get on it once a week!  I hate to end the year not accomplishing the goal of making it part of my daily routine. I know I should exercise more and the pounds have slowly been creeping on.  With the holidays fast approaching I am thinking this will be the best way to fight back. I am certainly not going to go on a diet right now!

I have no goal to run or even jog, I will be proud of myself for simply walking on it every day for the full thirty minutes!   I am starting to get to the age where I need to exercise and watch my diet a little closer.  Those days of eating and drinking whatever I want every weekend and cutting back a little throughout the week just isn’t enough anymore.  Once you cross what I call the thirty yard line, you have to work a little harder to keep a touchdown kind of body!

Exercise has always helped me relieve stress and feel better about myself.  So with my new plan set I must focus.  Time to download some motivational music, audio books, and pod casts to keep me truckin’ along for thirty minutes every day.  I know this may seem like a simple habit for many of you but I view exercise as work and after working all day it is really not something I can get excited about.  With that being said, getting up earlier in the morning to climb on the treadmill is not exactly exciting either.  So the biggest obstacle is figuring the best time of day for me to establish this habit and stick with it.

Seven O’clock in the evening seems to be the best time for me to commit. I am usually home from work no later than 6:00.  From 7:00 to 7:30 will be my devoted treadmill time from this point on. Who knows, maybe by the end of the month I will be running 30 minutes easy peasy without getting queasy!  Who else is up for the challenge?

Creating Postive Habits


I often feel the need to have a life make-over a few times a year.  Usually this need is brought on by the realization that I need to lose a few pounds or my job is just not as fulfilling as it use to be.  I start thinking I need to go back to school, join a gym or simply drink more water!  I get this overwhelming panic that I have become one of those people stuck in a rut, just existing instead living life to the fullest and being the best I can be.

So needless to say that feeling has crept in again and I have decided to take a new approach. I guess you can say I am going to start my New Years Resolution a little early this year.  The plan is to list 14 good habits I would like to create for myself.  Starting November first I will choose one of the fourteen habits and concentrate on creating that habit for the entire month. If I can create two positive habits before New Years I will be motivated to continue a new habit every month through 2012.

Since November 1st is just around the corner I have one week to get my list together and decide which habit I want to create first.  At the first of each month I will be sure to write a blog update.  The updates will let you know what I accomplished the previous month and what my positive habit will be for the new month.  I encourage you to join me in the challenge to completely change your life for the better!

I will be posting my list of 14 good habits to create and let you know which one I will be starting with in November!  What positive habits would you like to create in your life?

Oh So Yummy Chicken Quesadilla’s & Pico


I absolutely love this recipe!  It is great meal for two or you can make it for a party! Here is what you will need…

For the Chicken Quesadilla’s

4 Chicken Breasts (1 chicken breast for each quesadilla)

8  Burrito size flour tortilla’s (2 for each quesadilla)

1 can of refried beans

2 cups of shredded mexican mix cheese (half a cup for each quesadilla)

2 teaspoons of cumin powder

4 juicy tomato’s finely chopped

1 onion finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

salt & pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350. In a skillet cook the chicken breast in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside and as chicken is cooling spread a thin layer of the refried beans on each flour tortilla.

In a sauce pan add olive oil, garlic, onion, tomato’s, cumin powder, along with salt and pepper to taste and simmer into a thick & chunky sauce. Once sauce is complete set aside.

After it has cooled shred chicken breasts and spread over 4 of the flour tortilla’s then top with sauce, sprinkle shredded cheese and finally apply other flour tortilla to the top creating a sandwich. Press together and put each quesadilla on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees until the tortilla’s look golden & crisp on the edges.  Remove from oven, let cool and cut into wedges.

These quesadilla’s are fantastic with guacamole or sour cream but my favorite is home-made pico de gallo!

Here is what you will need….

8 juicy tomato’s finely chopped

1 garlic cloves finely chopped & smashed to blend easier

2 large onions finely chopped

3 serrano peppers finely chopped (take seeds out for medium heat, leave seeds in for super spicy) Also note: pico will be hotter the next day after it has had time to sit!

fresh cilantro

1 fresh lime

salt & pepper

Mix tomato’s (make sure you get plenty of fresh juices from the tomato’s), onions, peppers and garlic into a bowl add chopped sprigs of cilantro along salt & pepper to taste and squeeze juice of fresh lime into mixture. Stir together and serve with corn chips and quesadilla’s.  Oh…and nothing adds to this Tex-Mex meal like a ice cold Corona!

So make it a simple meal for two or make it a party, either way this meal will be a hit!  ENJOY!

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