Month: March 2016

5 Fave Home Life Hacks

I do love handy home life hacks and especially enjoy finding new ones that make my life easier or better in some way. That’s why you’ve got to share the hacks! Today, I’m sharing one of my newer faves along with some of my standby faves. I hope you’ll find a new one that works for you!

Fave Home Life Hacks

Fave Home Life Hacks

#1: Fold t-shirts in a quicker way. A friend shared a video on Facebook about a year or so ago and it forever changed the way I fold all of my husband’s shirts. I practiced it and got the hang of it in no time. It really is faster and easier. Feels like less work, for sure! There are many videos that show it, but here’s one. It just takes a few practice runs to “get it” and then you’ll be super fast!

#2: Make your own foaming hand soap. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and saving big bucks at the same time! It’s so simple. I do occasionally buy bottles of foaming hand soap to get new containers, but then keep reusing the same containers and refilling them. Use your favorite non-toxic dish soap for this. I shared a post about it on my old blog. Click here for the foaming hand-soap how-to.

#3: Sterilize your sponge and clean the microwave at the same time. Every time I wash dishes with a sponge, I pop the damp sponge it in the microwave for 1 minute on high to sterilize it. Careful when you grab it – it’s very hot! Not only is the sponge sterilized, but it just steamed up your microwave, so give it all a wipe out. Grease and grime wipes off easily after being steamed. My microwave is always sparkling inside (too bad that doesn’t work for the whole kitchen, right?). This does cause the sponge to break down quicker, but I think it’s good to change out sponges regularly anyway.

#4: Use the frozen onions shortcut. Another of my fave home life hacks for years – using frozen chopped onions. No fumes, no tears, no work. I use them in just about everything that calls for onions and only occasionally chop up a fresh one for a recipe. You can find the bags in the frozen vegetable section or sometimes near the hashbrowns. They can be hard to spot, but I have found them in several stores. Caution – don’t dump a bunch of frozen onions in a bunch of hot oil to saute. Water/ice and oil can be a dangerous combo. Just add them in carefully and gradually to hot oil or add other ingredients in first.

#5: Make your own self-rising flour. Every so often I run across a great recipe that calls for self-rising flour and I used to buy a bag just for those few recipes. I shook my head when I discovered how ridiculously simple it is to make your own! Save yourself the extra dollars and take a couple extra steps. Here’s the recipe to make 1 cup – just multiply accordingly for the amount of self-rising flour you need:

To make 1 cup of self-rising flour:

 – 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk ingredients together. Done.

home life hacks

Those are some of my fave home life hacks, but I’m always on the lookout for new ones. I discovered 4 of the 5 through my wanderings on the internet, so yay internet. And I discovered them all before Pinterest, so you can probably find great new home life hacks even faster now. What are your faves? Share a few hacks in the comments so we can all benefit!

My Whole 30 Experience and Results [Part 2]

In Part 1, I gave you an Intro to my Whole 30 experience and what was involved, but now in Part 2 I’ll tell you more about what I experienced during the 30 days and some of the results at the end. Be sure to subscribe to receive posts by email so you don’t miss the rest of the series:

whole 30 experience and results

 

My Whole 30 Experience

We did the Whole 30 plan in January, which was a great time to do it – we had just come through the holidays with lots of sugary foods as well as a lot of eating out or eating the wrong things. We were feeling ready for a “cleaner” diet. And January wasn’t filled with birthdays or other celebrations for us, meaning that we wouldn’t be unnecessarily tempted to cheat. I recommend that you plan your 30 days during quieter times if at all possible.

Neither my husband nor I experienced the symptoms that many people do, such as headaches, fatigue, and extreme irritability during the first few days as your system detoxes from some of the foods and ingredients you’ve been having. Not sure why we didn’t experience that because we certainly were eating our share of “bad” foods before the diet, but I think it probably depends on each person. If you are prone to headaches and sensitive to food changes, then you may experience these things. It’s good to read about it and be prepared just in case so that if it happens, you’ll know it’s all perfectly normal and won’t last! That’s the beauty of having all this great info online – you know what to expect!

Day 1 went great for us – no issues and we felt good. By Day 3, we were definitely missing some of our favorite things. By the end of the first week, I was really missing not having eating out to fall back on in case I didn’t have the time and energy for the food prep. Because of that, I tried a few new recipes, but tried to keep things fairly simple so I didn’t get overwhelmed. And my husband and son helped with some of the cooking, which was a big plus! The more family members you can get involved in your Whole 30, the better!

I’ll share a few of my Facebook statuses through the Whole 30 experience, so you get an idea of my thoughts:

  • I’m hungry. And I want a latte real bad. ‪#‎onlyonday2ofwhole30‬
  • It’s the perfect morning for a sweet creamy latte. But I’m having unsweetened tea. ‪#‎whole30‬ ‪#‎day10‬ ‪#‎butitsurewouldbenicetohavealatte‬
  • Day 20 of Whole30. So 11 days til cake. Kidding…sort of. :)
  • Day 21 of Whole30. Drove by Dunkin Donuts and was all (in my mind), “I don’t need YOU, donuts!!” Not that I ever ate many donuts, but now they don’t really seem worth the calories. Cake. Cake is worth it. And chocolate truffles.
  • Last day of Whole 30. Tomorrow is National Day of Lattes for Lisa.

Whole 30 experience no lattes

All of my other statuses were food and recipe-related. So there really wasn’t anything earth-shattering to report or complain about on my end. Obviously I missed lattes! You can have coffee during Whole 30, but I take my coffee with half ‘n half and sugar, or drink a sweetened latte, which aren’t allowed, and I wasn’t willing to drink black coffee. I chose to drink tea instead for the 30 days, since I like it unsweetened. I’m sure that you will find you terribly miss one or two fave foods or drinks. But it’s ONLY 30 days! You can do it!!

Though our cravings for bad foods were gone, which made it so much easier to stay on track as we got toward the end of the 30 days, we did mentally know that the end was coming and started thinking about foods that we wanted. That made the last couple of days tough – I kind of wanted to just stop a couple days early, knowing that it probably wouldn’t hurt. But since we committed to 30 days, we stuck it out for exactly 30 days!

The Results

So we made it through the 30 days and never cheated even once (most of my group cheated slightly sometime before the end). We were determined to give it our all for the entire time. After you are done, it is recommended that you follow a gradual reintroduction of food groups so that you can determine if you have issues with any certain ingredients or types of foods. We didn’t do it as slowly as recommended but didn’t go crazy eating all the things we had eliminated either. Neither of us experienced any issue with food reintroduction. The main thing we noticed is that our tastes had changed. For me, it was mainly sweet tastes. I was able to use far less sugar as everything tastes sweeter and I have realized that now some things I ate before are too sweet/too rich for my system to handle so I even have to be careful about overdoing it. Yay for that! I also enjoy the taste of real food more than before. I was surprised to have such a difference in just 30 days.

whole 30 soup

Another thing we experienced during this time was a change in our mental connection with food. We really tried to follow all the Whole 30 rules, which include trying to get away from eating for psychological reasons or just out of habit. We did our best to move away from unnecessary snacking and evening desserts. That turned out to be difficult as I realized how much those things have become automatic and doing without made me feel like I was really missing out at the beginning. But since we forced ourselves to reduce eating out of habit, it made a bigger difference afterward. I no longer feel that I “must” have something sweet each evening and I don’t snack as much either.

One thing to note is that this plan’s focus is not on losing weight! In fact, they do not want you to weigh yourself during the 30 days because your weight will fluctuate and even increase at one point so they don’t want you to get discouraged. Some of my group did not lose weight, though most did. It can depend on what foods you are choosing and the quantity you are eating as well.

Our weight loss results: My husband lost 15 pounds (wow!) and I lost 11 pounds. That’s a nice loss in 30 days!

My husband was very careful of his food choices during that time and also tracked his calories – he stayed on plan but also within a certain daily calorie range and he believes that’s why he experienced a good amount of weight loss. I did not track calories, but stayed away from having too much of the higher calorie, “sweet” foods like too much fruit, fruit juice, fake desserts, Lara bars, etc. that are technically approved on the plan.

Overall, though it is not an easy plan, it was easier than I anticipated. And the results made it all very worthwhile. My Whole 30 experience resulted in:

  • Feeling good
  • Eating healthier
  • Losing weight
  • Having less of a taste for sugar
  • Experiencing less emotional/psychological eating

Totally worth it, in my opinion! In fact, you should know that my family didn’t even have any Easter candy or desserts. Whaaat? Not that I am opposed to any of it, but I just have less of a need or desire for all of it.

Stay tuned for Part 3 (in about a week). It will be all about the food – what kinds of things we ate, what we didn’t like, and some links to our fave Whole 30 recipes. If you’re thinking about doing a Whole 30, I know you’ll want to hear about the food! Are you almost ready to give it a try for 30 days? Have you done a Whole 30 before? What other questions do you have about what I experienced? Comment and ask – I’d be happy to answer!

[Conversation]: Does Work-Life Balance Exist?

I decided to make this type of post a  “Conversation” because I really want to hear from YOU! I’m not the expert of everything and expert level in very few things if I’m being real, so it doesn’t make sense for me to tell you the right way to think about this subject. In fact, this is one of those topics that it really helps to hear lots of great thoughts, input, and feedback, then digest it all and come up with what makes sense for you. When I look things up online, I don’t just go to one source, I find several and take all the ideas into consideration before coming to my own conclusion.

Let’s do that! The only way this works is if you’re not afraid to speak up and share your thoughts on the subject. If they’re the same as everybody else’s thoughts, that’s valuable because it shows someone else that many people feel the same way. If your thoughts are completely different, that’s valuable because we need all the angles to think through and you might show us another way of thinking about the whole thing. How to speak up? Comment directly on the post, leave comments on the shared post in Facebook or Twitter, and if I can manage to get the conversation going on Facebook Live, you can comment there too.

work-life balance

Work-Life Balance

It’s a term that’s e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. these days. What does it mean? Supposedly there is some sort of perfect balance between devotion to your work life and devotion to your family life that means you will achieve ultimate success in all aspects of life. I’m not saying that some of you might not have achieved something close to it, but I do know that nobody’s perfect so maybe we should stop trying to chase an unrealistic goal for ourselves.

I’ve noticed that the term Work-Life Balance seems to be directed mainly at women. Not that men don’t have balancing to do, but it does seem harder for women who are working and also trying to raise a family.

The definition of Work-Life Balance mentions proper prioritizing between career/ambition and lifestyle. I have a few issues that come to mind when I read that definition.

  • Issue #1: “Proper prioritizing” implies that there is a perfect ratio of “work” to “life.” I’ve already said that perfection can’t be achieved, but I also think it’s incorrect to think of this as one simple ratio. Don’t these things blend together? Isn’t working part of living? And vice versa? Maybe this is like thinking of how much oil with how much vinegar to make salad dressing – sure, there’s a recommended ratio but even if you don’t get it perfect it all mixes together and you’re really just concerned with the flavor.
  • Issue #2: Work-Life Balance only applies to people (I’m talking about women here) with careers/ambition. This makes it seem like only women with a career are the ones who “work.” Are you a woman, especially a mother? Then you work, my friend. And work hard! Whether you’re at home, at an office, working online, working in the home, home-schooling, cooking, cleaning, taking care of family, driving kids around, you are working and you also have a need for balancing all those responsibilities with putting the focus on loved ones (and yourself) and truly experiencing and enjoying life! And those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
  • Issue #3: The definition suggests that achieving balance may look similar for each person. I don’t live your life. You do. What defines balance and proper prioritizing to you will not be the same as what defines balance to me. It’s about finding what works for you and your family in the life that you are living right now. Should you make an effort to find some balance? Yes, it’s worth looking into and making some shifts when necessary, but what you need to do right now is not the same as what your neighbor needs to do and that’s okay. And how you find balance in your life right now will not be the same as how you need to find it 5 years from now. It’s a constant shifting around depending on the circumstances of your life.

But those are just my initial thoughts. I wonder if we really even need this term at all. We always want to find a balance between all of our responsibilities in life, whether it’s work, play, or rest, but maybe finding balance is illusive. Is the term work-life balance just causing stress where it isn’t even needed? Is it truly a term meant only for those working in jobs outside the home and figuring out how to devote proper amounts of time to each priority in life? If we focus on family first, will all the rest of it fall into place?

convowithlisa

What do YOU Think?

I don’t have the answer ready for you. I want to hear your thoughts and I think a lot of women are wondering about this, too. And hey, if you’re a guy, we need your feedback, too, and whether you think this term is meant for all or targeted to women. Chime on in with your feedback! Here are some questions to get the conversation started:

  • Do you agree with the basic definition of work-life balance or do you feel it should be expanded to include all types of work, not just careers and ambition?
  • Do you think the term is a good one to help us think about how we prioritize our time or do you think it’s causing us to stress out unnecessarily?
  • As far as balance in life, do you have some thoughts about how everything in our lives should be prioritized?
  • Have you found balance in your life and family and if so, how did you find it? Is it always shifting?
  • If you work outside the home, do you find that it is more difficult to make time for other priorities than it would be if you were at home?
  • Do you think people are working too hard/too many hours in general and that lifestyles and families are suffering because of it?
  • Should there be a different term for the overall balance in life that includes more than work? What would you call it?

Please do share your thoughts and feedback! I really want to hear it all and I know that others will be interested in what you have to say. Thanks for joining in the conversation, friends!

work-life balance

 

Intro to My Whole 30 Experience

Who would have thought that a diet plan would make me feel inspired to write? Why? Well not only was my Whole 30 experience a good one, but I so appreciated all the blog posts I could find on the subject as I was working my way through the diet that I wanted to add to that collection of helpful posts in the online world. And because I seem to have an issue with being “wordy,” this has turned into a 5-part series (Yes, FIVE – who does that?) instead of the 2 posts I thought I would write originally! P.S. This post is not sponsored in any way by the Whole 30 program.

My Whole 30 Experience Intro | FromLisaMarie.com

What is the Whole 30?

If you haven’t heard of Whole 30 before, it’s a diet plan that’s basically an elimination diet with the main purpose of discovering issues with food as well as resetting your tastes and helping you learn to choose better foods for you. It also helps you work on discovering your psychological reasons for eating. So yes, Whole 30 is eating whole foods for 30 days. It’s obvious which of your friends are on the plan – you’ll see #whole30 on Instagram & Facebook with many pictures of food (I did the same!) just to show that you do actually get to eat delicious food while you’re doing it. And when you’re doing it, you want to see everybody else’s pics for more inspiration to keep on going.

I had always thought it sounded like a good plan, but too crazy for me with all the eliminations. I didn’t actually set out to do it in January, but my boss and some coworkers decided to do it and I (and my husband) jumped on board. The best part was that we knew we were all doing it at the same time and set up group Pinterest boards to share ideas as well as a private Facebook group to help encourage or vent or share recipes. And one coworker had done it a couple of times before, so she was able to share a lot of helpful info with us.

In a nutshell, on Whole 30, you have NO…

  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • Sweeteners of any kind (not even natural other than fruit or pure fruit juice)
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Alcohol
  • Soy
  • Trace amounts of any of these in the list of ingredients!

There are a handful of other ingredients you can’t have as well – the website gives you all the rules to follow. What can you have? Basically meat, veggies, and fruit. Coffee & tea are still OK, but without sweetener or dairy. And water, of course!

Whole 30 Experience tea

Getting Ready for a Whole 30 Experience

Once we decided that we would participate, I knew that I had a lot of planning and prep to do. I did buy The Whole 30 Book, which is nice to have but honestly you can find everything you need online for free in order to successfully make it through the 30 days. I had to figure out what we would eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I planned out a week at a time and then we shopped and shopped. And then I had to be ready to prep for every meal, which some of you are like, “So what, Lisa? I do that every. day. Everyday.” But I have been working full time and had fallen completely off the wagon of meal planning and prep. So this was system shock for me.

Let me tell you, you won’t make it through if you don’t plan ahead and prep. You can’t fall back on fast food, or even most pre-made packaged food from the store. Everything seems to contain a trace of something you can’t have! It’s one of the good/bad parts of the plan.

You have to read EVERY label of every kind of food, and then you discover that sugar has been added to basically everything that exists and if not, then they’ve put in a trace amount of something else you can’t have so you decide if it has a label at all, you probably can’t even eat it.

That’s extremely annoying, but it’s so so good to start knowing what you’ve really been eating so you can make better decisions in the future. Not that you need to give up everything with trace amounts of sugar, but to be aware is to choose less of those items and go for more of the real/whole foods.

Whole 30 Experience salad

It seems like following a plan like this would make you completely miserable in about 2 days, and yes, the first few days are difficult. It’s mostly mental, or at least it was in our case. I gave up my morning lattes, so that was rough. I didn’t necessarily physically crave them, but psychologically I really really wanted one. After you tough out the first few days, I’ll be very honest – it’s just not as hard as you expect it to be (other than the extra food planning & prep and almost NO eating out).

It sounds worse than it really is and if you use the opportunity to make some new and exciting recipes, you’ll find the experience somewhat enjoyable. And oh my – the real taste of food! You start to realize that you’ve been missing it all this time and how is it possible that plain fruit is that sweet? By following the plan properly, your physical cravings for certain foods disappear and you (mostly) won’t be getting those extreme carb cravings or hitting the 3 pm slump.

Whole 30 Experience breakfast

Overall, I know it sounds like a crazy plan, but it’s just for 30 days! I highly recommend it, first as a way to see if you do have any food issues, but mainly as a way to force yourself to really look at your food labels, to get back into cooking and finding new recipes to try, to reduce your taste for sugar/sweetness, and to reset your diet. If there’s weight loss, that’s a bonus.

Is it easy? No. There’s a lot of work and planning and you will mentally really miss some foods and get a little cranky about it, but remind yourself that it’s only 30 days and then you can have that item again. I do think it’s very much worth the effort. Remember that this isn’t some miracle diet that will change your ways forever. You could very easily go back to eating the way you did before and your tastes will go back to what they were and you may gain weight back. This is a chance to start fresh and do better and go cold turkey off the stuff you’ve been trying to do with less of.

Are you intrigued enough to look into trying the Whole 30 Experience? I say go for it! But plan ahead and try to go for a 30 day stretch when there aren’t a bunch of celebrations. Don’t set yourself up like that. Try and make it as easy as possible. Stay tuned for Part 2 (in about a week) and I’ll tell you about my Whole 30 experience throughout the 30 days and what some of the results were. Hint: All good.

From Lisa Marie – What It’s All About

You have no idea how badly I wanted to title this “What It Is” instead of “What It’s All About” but if you saw that without hearing me say it, you would think I messed up the title rather than saying it like “What it IS, yo” [ I’m about 5% Homegirl inside and it gets out from time to time].

all about

How I Got Here

I’m not new to blogging. I started back in 2008. Yes, that’s the equivalent of horse-and-buggy days in blog time. I learned a lot over the years and have been very blessed by my experiences. From Lisa Marie has actually been around since 2014, but I obviously didn’t have much time to devote to it. I originally started it to have a new place to write where I didn’t feel tied down or obligated to post recipes like on my other blog. There was no vision in place other than me writing all about whatever I wanted. It was nice in theory, but a lack of vision and planning can end up meaning that nothing gets accomplished. And finally, an upcoming job change to doing something more left brain apparently opened up some room for creative thought on the right side and after reading a couple of posts about blogging, I was suddenly inspired to restart this blog and with some sort of vision and plan in place.

What It’s All About

Above all, I want my blog to represent me – a down-to-earth, slightly humorous, ordinary, imperfect mom – somebody that I hope you feel connected to. There are subjects that I have knowledge of and that I want to share about and I think I have narrowed those down and found a common thread that connects them. Here are some of the subjects that I plan to share about:

  • [Real] Family Life
    • Not that I am any kind of expert on family life, but I do like the opportunity to start the conversation around issues that come up in marriage or with raising children (my son is a teenager). Or I like to just share the joys that we all get to experience in our families, looking at the bright side together and finding a way to laugh through it all.
  • Health/Fitness Victories and Struggles
    • Over the years, I’ve tried many a plan for health and fitness and enjoy having a group to chat with about what’s working, what isn’t, and sharing new ideas as well as recipes from time to time. For example, my No Exercising At All “plan” doesn’t seem to be making me healthier, so we’ll need to work on that. 😉
  • Occasional Food Posts
    • Well I like food. And it just so happens that I like yummy food. So I anticipate wanting to share some recipes or food ideas with you occasionally. But be warned – I don’t take professional or even well-lit pics, which is why I can never be a food blogger.
  • Digital Marketing Tips
    • After many years of being a mostly stay-at-home mom, I went back into the workforce full time and worked for a digital marketing company. Oh yes, I learned a ton! I’d love to be able to share tips with fellow bloggers and small-business peeps to help you out.
  • Blogging and Writing
    • I have thoughts on writing, but don’t always follow through well. I want to get into blogging consistently and if I can share ideas along the way, I will. I also hope to get going on writing a book soonish, so will be wanting to have discussions about that and share resources.
  • Leadership & Customer Service
    • These are a couple of subjects that I’m passionate about in the working world, but also apply to life in general. I have a lot of years of work experience in my background, including management, and hope to share my thoughts on what makes for good employers, employees, business-owners, and more.

At first, these subjects seem a bit disconnected. But there are a couple of common threads. One is that they all represent parts of me and my experiences. C’mon, isn’t that enough? Okay, well there is another common thread. Each of these parts of our “real” offline world can be enhanced by how we participate in and make use of what we find in our online world. I can go through that list and tell you how something online helped or blessed me to make things better in “real” life. [Hello…Pinterest?] There’s a danger of becoming overwhelmed or obsessed with online life, but by navigating through it well, we can use the best ideas in the most efficient way and put the focus back on living an awesome offline life.

As you can tell by the list of subjects, post topics will vary widely. I hope you can all find topics that interest you and that you can connect with. Please do share any thoughts or feedback. I’m here and listening! Here are some of the upcoming blog post topics for the near future:

  • My Whole 30 diet experience
  • A series on LinkedIn – how to use it & why you need to, best practices & tips
  • Allowance for kids – different thoughts and practices
  • Work Life Balance
  • You Really are a Writer
  • Leading by example
  • Favorite salad recipe links

I hope this has given you a sense of where I’m headed with this blog and my “restart” of it. You should know that it can always evolve because I am constantly changing and my blog reflects me. Also, I haven’t had much time in the past couple of years to read other blogs, but want to get back into that, too. If you have a blog, feel free to comment here and give the name and what it’s all about so we can have a visit!

Thanks for being here. I’m so looking forward to sharing more with you!

A Blog Post From Lisa Marie – Yes, I’m Back!

blog post from Lisa MarieHello, friends! I really can’t believe it’s been so very long since I wrote a blog post here. I meant for this blog to be my fresh start and a place to be inspired to write more often. Well. Turns out working full time sucked all my brain power away each day and I didn’t have the mental energy left to write. But a couple of things inspired me to start up again – one of them being trying the Whole 30 eating plan which inspired me to write about how that experience was (look for that post coming soon). The other inspiration came from a marketing post and I realized that I could indeed decide what I wanted to accomplish here, make a plan, and return to blogging regularly. I also had a job change which did free up some of my brain power (not enough to do Precalc or anything – ha!) and all of a sudden plans and ideas flowed.

I’ll be posting about what my renewed vision for this blog is and what will be coming up. Yes, that means I actually decided what I wanted to write about ahead of time and wrote several posts before relaunching. Whaaat? Can this be the same Lisa Marie that posted so sporadically before? No, I’m not the same. I’ve been living life and learning new things. And that just means that I have more to share. I hope you’ll stick around and see what sorts of subjects come up. I’d love to hear your feedback on the direction of this blog as we go along.

In case it’s been too long since I last published a bog post and you really don’t remember much about me, you should know that I write in a more casual conversational style – not trying to win awards for big words here. :) <— I also like smiley faces and exclamation points (!) a little too much, but my professional side sometimes wins out and cuts back on those. I try to balance my professional side with a good dose of humor. Overall, I’m just regular old Lisa Marie: Christian, wife for over 20 years, mom of a teen boy, workin’ gal – nothing too over-the-top. I do hope you’ll find that we have some things in common and that some of the posts I share here end up being helpful for you in some way.

Thanks for reading & stay tuned for more (you can subscribe to my blog posts at the top right if you want to make sure you don’t miss out on any new content and come find me on social media)!