Let’s Start Fresh in 2022!

Starting fresh means different things to different friends. For some, it’s New Years Resolutions to Eat Better, Lose Weight, Get Organized, Spend more time on Self-Care. Whatever Starting Fresh means to you, I’m here to help.

For me, Starting Fresh means grabbing new calendars for the kitchen, kid’s rooms, and my room (I have a bulletin board next to my vanity with a wall calendar so I can review each day while I brush my teeth in the morning). I update the calendars each month with appointments, days off school, birthdays, etc. I usually get free calendars in the mail towards the end of the year and use those. For the kitchen, I get a Holiday a Day calendar and use that- It’s a great way to include silly “national” days into the meal plan or weekend plans. Like National Pizza Day (it’s in February) or National Bake Cookies Day (that was yesterday- we’re celebrating today).

Other Ways I Start Fresh Each Year (and keep it going through the year):

  • Inventory my Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry (and donate/share any unwanted still-in-date food). You can buy my inventory sheets here on Etsy.
  • Deep Clean/ Organize one area of the house each week. Start small. I start with the front coat closet.
  • Clean my car out. If you are a parent, you know. I take a laundry basket and a trash bag down to the car, and once the trash is out, and the stuff that needs to go into the house is in the basket (and back upstairs), I take my car to the carwash and pay $20 to have someone else wash and vacuum the car (and clean the windows inside and out).
  • Get rid of stuff that no longer serves you. I like to start in my closet. It’s a great chance to weed out clothes that no longer fit or serve me, and I can donate or share them.  I tend to do one area a month. I work on it for 10-20 minutes a few times a week, so it is not a mental burden.
  • In the same vein, do a toiletry/beauty/makeup purge. Travel-sized/sample-sized toiletries can be donated to homeless or domestic abuse shelters or local rehab/inpatient centers. Makeup and personal care items do expire (check out this article from Insider for more deets). If it smells weird or has a strange texture- toss it!
  • Space out Appointments or other “Adulting” tasks. As someone who had two mental/behavioral health appointments, an IEP Meeting, and a doctor’s appointment last week, I can assure you I was mentally and physically exhausted. As it was the end of the year, provider time was limited, so I didn’t have much of a choice, but going forward, I’m limiting myself to 1-2 “Adulting”/appointments per week. Otherwise, it is overwhelming and everything else, like tasks of daily living, gets pushed aside (shower, what’s that?).
  • Spend time Doing Stuff I Like. Yeah, seems weird? Spend a little time doing something that makes you happy. Play a game on your phone for 10 minutes, read, do a craft, work on a project, play Legos with your kids, go for a walk.

A content creator I really like, Rayna Cohen put it simply, ” Allow yourself to enjoy the new energy of the new year.”

My kid’s school sent out a Kindness Calendar for January. I plan on incorporating some of these RAOK throughout January and beyond.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you are Starting Fresh for 2022!

New Years Resolutions: Are We Even Doing Them for 2021?

Seriously… Can we skip them?

I know a lot of people who feel like they have to do them because of traditions, or it helps them feel like they are in control. If that is you, awesome! You do you.

If you are on the fence, feel like it might cause you more stress than it’s worth, it’s ok to skip New Years Resolutions or anything else that causes undue stress. We all have enough stress right now.

If you want to do them, I did a round-up of the top ten NYR in 2018 (for 2019) here. Some of the links within the articles may be outdated, but if you are looking for something specific, please feel free to reach out to me either via email or via Instagram or Facebook.

The one end of year/new year tradition that I do is to buy 4 new calendars: One for the kitchen, one for my bathroom (next to my vanity), one for each of the kid’s rooms. I update them all monthly with appointments, birthdays, and holidays. I usually buy a calendar with the daily silly “holidays” on it for the kitchen. I bought this one for 2021.

You will probably start to see more posts from me (and my helpers), as one of my plans (not resolutions) is to start posting more now that I am able to have a pretty solid daily and weekly routine.

If there are topics that you would like to see or learn more about, drop me a message. I’ve got a lot of fun and good stuff planned (like quarterly Amazon Gift Card giveaways), and I’m going to continue sharing savings tips and deals, and of course crafts and recipes!

 

 

 

 

Healthy Swap Recipe: PB Chocolate Malts!

This is a family favorite, and I’ve been making this shake recipe for almost 10 years.

I’m linking to most of the items on Amazon, so if you don’t want to leave home to try this recipe, you won’t have to. As a reminder: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

This recipe all started back when I was doing medically supervised weight loss and we had to drink 5-9 shakes per day, so adding in low-calorie flavor options was a must. A few of the “approved” options were peanut butter powder, malt powder, and in phase 2, frozen fruit (in the case of this recipe, frozen bananas). Now that I’m no longer on the program, I still have a shake once a day, usually to curb cravings for sweets.

Feel free to use whatever type of protein powder you like. I use the HMR brand. My kids love these shakes. In fact, the big kiddo has one a few times per week for breakfast.

I use a Calphalon Active Sense Blender, but any blender or immersion/stick blender will work.

Mrs. Bear Special –  PB Chocolate Malt

serves 1 grown-up, or two kiddos

Ingredients:

  • 1 Scoop Chocolate protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter powder
  • 2 tablespoons malt powder
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1-2 handfuls of ice
  • 8-12 ounces of water (If you want it creamier or are not calorie conscious, you can use fat-free or plant milk)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into the blender.
  2. Blend on smoothie or ice breaker mode until smooth.
  3. Serve with a milkshake straw.

 

Depending on your protein powder, the completed shake will have 25-30 grams of protein per shake.

 

Is Part of Your 2019 New Years Resolution to Save Money?

file7251237401168.jpgDoesn’t everyone want to save money?

There is no better time to start than January 1st- New Year, New Start!

If you want to start the year off with a frugal mind, check out my posts below. I wrote most of them a few years ago, but all the advice/tips/tricks are still applicable.

Here are the top ten resolutions, and tips on how to make them all happen!

Resolution: #1 Make More Money!
Resolution #2: I want to save money!
Resolution #3- Live a richer, fuller life (without spending more money)
Resolution #4- Spend More Time with your Family (without breaking the bank)!
Resolution #5 & #6 Exercise & Lose Weight
Resolution #7: Get Organized
Resolution #8: Learn Something New
Resolution #9: Quit Smoking
Resolution #10: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If you feel like you are too busy to “deal with” coupons:

6 Tips to Save Money WITHOUT Clipping Coupons!
How to save money without coupons: Part One- Meat!
How to save money without coupons: Part Two- Produce!
Simple Steps to Save at Target

I hope these tips and articles help!

 

Talk Back: How do you plan to save money in the new year?

Is Part of Your New Years Resolution to Save Money?

file7251237401168.jpgDoesn’t everyone want to save money?

There is no better time to start than January 1st- New Year, New Start!

If you want to start the year off with a Frugal Mind, Check out my posts below. I wrote most of them a few years ago, but all the advice/tips/tricks are still applicable.

Here are the top ten resolutions, and tips on how to make them all happen!

Resolution: #1 Make More Money!
Resolution #2: I want to save money!
Resolution #3- Live a richer, fuller life (without spending more money)
Resolution #4- Spend More Time with your Family (without breaking the bank)!
Resolution #5 & #6 Exercise & Lose Weight
Resolution #7: Get Organized
Resolution #8: Learn Something New
Resolution #9: Quit Smoking
Resolution #10: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If you feel like you are too busy to “deal with” coupons:

6 Tips to Save Money WITHOUT Clipping Coupons!
How to save money without coupons: Part One- Meat!
How to save money without coupons: Part Two- Produce!
Simple Steps to Save at Target

I hope these tips and articles help!

Wanna Save Money in 2017?

8f235f4422591a09bd341f17958e172c.jpgOne of the most common New Years Resolutions is to to save money. And it’s a good one!

Last year I wrote a series with the top ten resolutions:

 

If you feel like you are too busy to “deal with” coupons:

I hope these tips and articles help!

Protein Shake Recipes!

DSC_0824For some of us, our New Year’s Resolution to lose weight has already started to peter off. NOT ME! I’ve got 40-ish lbs to drop to get back down to my pre-bitty Bird weight. I’m using protein shakes to help me.

A few years ago hubs and I did Sharp Weight Management to lose weight and to this day, we still use the protein shakes that are part of their program. HMR shakes are tasty and have a good amount of protein and other nutrients. All of the recipes below use HMR shakes, but you can use whatever kind of protein powder you like best (everyone has their favorite!).

I usually start my day with a coffee based shake!

Hazelnut Mocha: Mix Chocolate protein powder with  tablespoon sugar free chocolate pudding powder, 1 tablespoon Cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons Sugar Free Torani Hazelnut syrup, and 12-20 ounces of strong, hot coffee, When blending hot drinks in the blender make sure to vent the lid or it might pop off! To do this cold, use cold coffee and add 8-10 ice cubes.

Cinnamon Dulce Latte: The same drink at Starbucks (made with Fat Free milk and without whipped cream) has 210 Calories. With my version, you save 40 calories, and score at least 10 more grams of protein- this will vary for you, depending on how many grams of protein your protein shake has. Mix vanilla protein powder with 12-20 ounces of hot coffee (I like a larger drink, so I add more coffee), 2 tablespoons of Torani Syrup Brown Sugar Cinnamon (sugar free), a dash of cinnamon.  When blending hot drinks in the blender make sure to vent the lid or it might pop off! To do this cold, use cold coffee and add 8-10 ice cubes.

Frappacino: If you have leftover coffee after making your morning pot, don’t throw it away, put it in the fridge and make yourself a blended frozen protein shake. They will taste just like a frappacino, but with a lot less calories.  The average ice blended drink from a coffee shop has 300 calories!

The basic Frap recipe is as follows:

  • Protein Powder (the amount indicated on your package for 1 serving)
  • 12-20 oz cold coffee
  • 8-10 ice cubes (add more if you want it more icy)

Add in any of the following:

  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite sugar free syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder, Ovaltine, Sugar Free Pudding powder (your choice of flavors)
  • Use  Walden Farms Calorie Free Chocolate Syrup (or one of their other ice cream syrups- they make caramel and strawberry too) as a drizzle inside the cup and on top to make your drink with more of a Coffee House Flair without adding any calories!

Here are a few more of our favorite shakes. When we did the Weight management program through Sharp, we drank 6-8 a day, so creativity was the key to keep us from becoming bored and deviating from the program. (AKA cheating) These days, I use these shakes as a swap for a higher calorie dessert most of the time. That way my sweet tooth is happy, and I’m consuming WAAAY less calories!

As a note, I usually use a lot more ice to make it more “ice cream-y” and less like a chocolate milk.

Cherry Cheesecake shake: 1 pouch vanilla HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free cheesecake flavored powdered pudding, 3 pumps (roughly 3 tablespoons) sugar free black cherry Torani Syrup. You can substitute Strawberry syrup in place of the black cherry.

50/50 Bar Shake: 1 pouch vanilla HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free vanilla flavored powdered pudding, 3 pumps (roughly 3 tablespoons) sugar free orange Torani Syrup.

Eggnog shake:  1 pouch vanilla HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free cheesecake flavored powdered pudding, 1tsp. rum extract, sprinkle/dash of grated nutmeg. (Mr. C had this on X-mas eve and it was FABU!)

Lemon/Raspberry Shake: 1 pouch vanilla HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free lemon flavored powdered pudding, 3 pumps (roughly 3 tablespoons) sugar free Raspberry Torani Syrup.

Peanut Butter Cup Shake: 1 pouch chocolate HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free chocolate flavored powdered pudding, 2 tablespoons of PB2 powder.

Almond Joy Shake: 1 pouch chocolate HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free chocolate flavored powdered pudding,2 pumps (roughly 2 tablespoons) sugar free Almond Torani Syrup, and 2 pumps (roughly 2 tablespoons) sugar free coconut Torani Syrup . You can use 1 tsp. Almond extract if you prefer in lieu of the almond syrup.

Mounds Shake: 1 pouch chocolate HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free chocolate flavored powdered pudding,3 pumps (roughly 3 tablespoons)  sugar free coconut Torani Syrup .

Milky Way Shake: 1 pouch chocolate HMR shake, 6 oz cold water, 6-8 ice cubes, 1 tsp. sugar free butterscotch flavored powdered pudding.  To make a snickers shake, add 1-2 Tablespoons of PB2.

Butterfinger: Mix chocolate protein powder with 1 tablespoon PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter, 1 tablespoon sugar free butterscotch pudding powder, 1 tablespoon Cocoa powder, 8-10 ounces of cold water and 8-10 ice cubes. Blend on high until the ice cubes are incorporated.

Mud Pie: Mix chocolate protein powder with 1 tablespoon sugar free chocolate pudding powder, 1 tablespoon Cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon Ovaltine, 8-10 ounces of cold strong coffee and 8-10 ice cubes. Blend on high until the ice cubes are incorporated.

Chocolate Malt:  MIx chocolate protein powder with 1 tablespoon sugar free chocolate pudding powder,  1 tablespoon Ovaltine (choose the malted variety- it’s in the yellow package), 8-10 ounces of cold water and 8-10 ice cubes. Blend on high until the ice cubes are incorporated.

PB&J: Mix vanilla protein powder with 2 tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter, 2 pumps of your favorite fruit flavored Torani Syrup (strawberry, grape, raspberry are just a few), and 8-10 ounces of cold water and 8-10 ice cubes. Blend on high until the ice cubes are incorporated. Tastes just like a PB&J!

Later in the week, I’ll be posting my home made protein bar recipe and an oatmeal protein muffin recipe- perfect for keeping you on track!

Sensible Swap: PB Cup Shake

It’s really hard to lose weight and eat well, especially when there are restaurants like Sonic Drive-In. They have these yummy, thick rich shakes and blasts (which is soft serve ice cream with cookies or candy mixed in and topped with whipped cream), but good lord, do they have tons of calories.

This recipe is a Swap. We swap out stuff with crazy high calories for lower calories ingredients to make a yummy, less calorically dense treat. For reference, a MINI Reese’s Cup Sonic Blast is 580 calories and is about 8 ounces (oh, yeah, they come in four other, progressively larger sizes!). The HMR recipe is 380 calories, and the Swap version is between 380-420 calories depending on which brand of light ice cream you use. Oh, and the recipe makes about 20 ounces! Hooray for more volume and less calories!

I’ve included two versions: One with HMR ingredients (you can substitute your favorite brand of vanilla protein powder and PB Protein Bar), and one using ingredients from the grocer.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 5.29.21 PM

Peanut Butter Cup Shake
Makes 1 large shake (or I guess you could split it and share, but trust me, you won’t want to!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Vanilla HMR Shake (or scoop if you use the 120 version)
  • 2 Tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter(I used the choc. PB2, it’s all we had)
  • 1 HMR Chocolate Peanut bar, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces and frozen
  • 2 handfuls of ice cubes
  • 10 oz water
  • Optional, but yummy: 3 T. Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender, except for the syrup
  2. Blend on medium until all ingredients are incorporated. Mixture should be thick and frosty.
  3. Swirl the syrup in a cold glass.
  4. Pour shake into cup and serve with both a spoon and a straw.
Freaking Delish! I have one of these about once a week!

Here is the second recipe, for those who just want to eat a little better:

Peanut Butter Cup Shake
Makes 1 large shake

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Fat Free Vanilla ice cream (Your favorite brand)
  • 2 handfuls of ice cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter
  • 1 Atkins Endulge Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces and frozen (there are two in each serving- if you want your shake extra yummy, you could use both of them)
  • Optional, but yummy: 3 T. Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender, except for the syrup
  2. Blend on medium until all ingredients are incorporated. Mixture should be thick and frosty.
  3. Swirl the syrup in a cold glass.
  4. Pour shake into cup and serve with both a spoon and a straw.

We have both a  Ninja NJ600 Pro Blender and a Magic bullet.  The Magic Bullet is great for making shakes at the office (for hubs) and the Ninja is great for making multiple shakes at once at home.

New Year’s Resolution #10: Reduce, Reuse, recycle

So this is the last one! I’ve been meaning to post this for a week or so, but I hurt my wrist (I fell while hiking!), so I’ve been off the computer a lot.

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#10 is a big one for our family! Reduce, re-use, recycle!

Reduce:

  • Buy less stuff. That one is pretty simple.
  • Use what you have on hand.  There are some pretty awesome websites like Recipe Key and Recipe Matcher that help you find recipes based on what you have in your pantry.
  • Reduce your waste out put.  I’m not asking you to hold it when you gotta go, but put your eggshells and coffee grounds in your house plants and tomato plants.  Try composting.  You’ll be  reducing your carbon foot print and you’ll make your plants happier!

Re-use:

  • Re-purpose items!  This includes eating your leftovers.
  • Here, here, and here are some great Pinterest boards that have re-using ideas.
  • I love this one: Making re-usable shopping bags out of old t-shirts (they make a great gift too).
  • Mend your clothes- including fallen hems, loose buttons and minor tears.  Sewing kits are inexpensive.  If you don’t know how to sew or even thread a needle, check out YouTube for some tutorials. And hey, you’ll learn a new skills!

Recycle:

  • In some areas, recycling is done by weight (like the majority of the recycling centers we have here).  You bring all of your aluminum cans crushed up or your glass bottles in big garbage bags and they are weighed, and you receive a per lb. price.
  • In other areas (like where my in-laws live back east and very few locations here in So Cal) there are machines that you deposit bottles and cans into one at a time and a per piece bottle deposit is returned to you. Re-Planet is one of those companies.
  • Some areas mandate recycling- Where we live there are special cans: Black for trash, green for yard waste, and blue for recycling.  The items that cannot be returned for a bottle deposit like milk cartons, soup cans, cereal boxes can be placed into the blue bin.
  • Recycling doesn’t only mean bottles and cans , it can also be to give an item a new life and a new home.  Donate clothes and other household items to charity or use freecycle and help your neighbors. I especially like the Buy Nothing Movement.
  • You can also sell items on Craigslist, have a garage sale or sell your items via a consignment shop.  They will go to a new home, you will have kept the stuff from a landfill, and you’ll have a little cash!
  • Did you know that in some states you can recycle your unwanted house paint? Check out PaintCare here for more details!

How do you incorporate the three R’s into your daily life?

New Year’s Resolution #9: Quit Smoking

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#9 is a resolution that I don’t really have a lot of into to share, but I figured that I’d try to help!  Some people need help quitting smoking.

I won’t rag on you about how cigarettes are bad for you, so instead I’ll appeal to your monetary side.  Here is a calculator that will let you know how much money you are wasting.

If you want to try the patch or gum, there should be coupons in the Sunday Inserts in January.

And finally, the CDC has some tips here.

Former smokers, how did you kick the habit?