Walking Around With a Shirt on My Head

Four years ago in 2014, the girls and I began a modified hair care regimen.  In the midst of that process, I learned that the best way to preserve curls and minimize frizz in naturally curly or wavy hair is to use a 100% cotton tee shirt to dry hair.  This is called “plopping,” because you plop your hair into the shirt before wrapping it around your head.  For four years with few exceptions, I have dried my hair with a shirt.  Yes, that’s important to my story.

Woman with shirt on her head
My hair “plopped.” Trust me when I say, I’m making no statements here, fashion or otherwise!

The girls, Mom, and I had a marvelous week away on our cruise.  We relaxed, we ate well, we walked – a LOT!  We saw ancient Mayan ruins, learned how the Mayans made their chocolate, saw an ancient Mayan soccer (type) goal, and swam and snorkeled in crystal clear, sapphire seas.

The second full day of our glorious, week-long cruise, the sun’s beams creeping over the tops of my sunglasses had caused some sore spots on my eyelids.  Yes, I had sunburned eyelids.  Ouch!  My lips were a little chapped, too.  I had some chamomile tea in the stateroom fridge for my eyelids (worked brilliantly, by the way!), and I decided to run up to the beverage station to grab some honey and sugar to whip up a quick lip scrub.

That Tuesday – for me, at least – had begun with an hour or so in the weight room before soaking in a hot tub.  Then I had to zip back to the stateroom to freshen up before a picture thing with Elsa and Anna, and after lunch, I hung at the pool with my younger daughter and a friend of mine.  Now it was time to get ready for dinner.  Formal night, so I was taking a bit of extra care with my preparation.

I’d taken a shower and spent a little extra time exfoliating and moisturizing.  I had gotten out of the shower and wrapped my hair as usual in a chartreuse (we’re talking bright yellowish-green here, folks!) t-shirt.  I threw on some clothes, slipped my feet into sandals, and announced that I was heading up to the ninth deck and would be back shortly.  Going from Deck 2 to Deck 9, I opted for the elevator.

You’d think that any one of four people would have noticed I was getting ready to walk out of the room with a bright chartreuse t-shirt on my head and stopped me.  But no.

I got into the elevator along with a guy from our deck.  He gave me a polite, social smile and a small “hi,” but didn’t say much more than that.  About the time he got off on the fifth deck, I realized I still had a shirt on my head!

At this point, I had two choices.  I could take the shirt off and look like Medusa, or I could keep it on and own the look.  I opted for the second, but not without shooting a text to Peter with an “OMG, you won’t believe what I did!”  When my elevator arrived at the ninth deck, I got off, sauntered through the adults only pool area, by the family/kiddie pools and went to the drink station where I got my honey and sugar.  Then I strutted back to the elevators, owning my unique fashion statement.

When I returned to the stateroom, I said, “You’d think one of you would have let me know I had a shirt on my head” before busting out in laughter that quickly infected our room.  We’re still laughing about that!

Now you hope, when you embarrass yourself in front of complete strangers, that you’ll never have to see them again, and out of a ship of over 2400 people, those odds are pretty decent.  But Elevator Guy?  I saw him at least twice a day.  Of course.

The Healthy Coastal Lifestyle Continues

A couple of weeks ago, I shared how my journey toward the healthy coastal lifestyle began with exercise.  As I began this journey, I determined to keep a food journal in my phone.  This helped me see what I was eating, how much I was eating, and how healthily I was eating.  After sweating through my first months of exercise, I decided to start getting serious about eating healthily.  If I was doing all this work, I definitely wanted to make sure I wasn’t sabotaging my efforts.

Now, for my caveat…  I don’t have any dietary restrictions or health conditions that prevent me from eating whatever I want.  I do have a genetic predisposition towards high cholesterol, which often sucks, given how much I like eggs, shrimp, and liver pudding, so I do limit myself on these foods.  If you have questions or concerns about how to adjust your diet, talk to your doctor first.  These tricks are what have worked for me.

Things to be aware of…  Sugar is the basic source of energy for us people.  Our bodies burn off simple sugars first – sucrose, fructose, glucose.  Then they go to carbohydrates, converting carbs into sugars.  Once our bodies don’t have any carbohydrates to consume as energy, they start attacking fat, converting fat into sugars for its use.  Keep that in mind, as it is very important for how you eat.

The food journal/diary is very important.  It’s an old trick, it’s fairly simple with today’s technology, but it’s still important.  You can go old school and write down what you eat with pen and paper.  There are computer programs and device apps that keep track of your meals, your calorie and nutrient intake, and whatever else you could want.  Mine also keeps up with my nutrient score and rewards me with a badge when I hit 80 or above (the closer to 100, the better).

Focus on carbs earlier in the day.  This gives your body time to burn it off throughout the day.  Shoot for absolutely no carbs after 5 p.m. (way easier said than done!).  Each gram of carbs is worth 4 calories, so remember that when you’re ready to dive into that Cinnabon.  I hit another plateau in my weight loss, so I started cutting back on carbohydrates, forcing my body into fat-burning mode with the twice-weekly aerobics classes and thrice-weekly walk/jogs.

Working, exercising, straining muscles need protein.  Proteins help repair muscles after workouts, though a protein hit an hour before your workout will boost you gloriously through it.  I grab milk, peanuts, a protein bar, or a cheese stick.  Proteins will also help you feel fuller for longer, so you won’t be as tempted to snack.

We can’t forget the fats, though.  It’s gratifying seeing that I truly am cutting carbs, but it’s also disheartening to see the fat grams stacking up.  Our bodies need fat, though.  It’s essential to the metabolism of vitamins A, D, E, and K.  Keep it lean as much as humanly possible, though, avoiding saturated fats and embracing unsaturated.

I honestly deny myself nothing.  If I want dessert, I eat dessert – but only if I’ve kept the eating limited throughout the day.  When I know I’m going to be eating heavily, such as at special dinners, I just go with some lean protein for lunch.  I learned several years ago that when I crave something, I should enjoy it in moderation and get rid of the craving.  Otherwise, that craving becomes an obsession.  At the same time, I listen to my body’s cravings, because usually it craves foods with nutrients it needs.

Working out paired with dietary changes has made a huge difference in how I’ve felt and in my healthy lifestyle journey.  I had to make a wardrobe transition, donating too-big clothes and buying new clothes that are already feeling loose.  But it’s all good, because I see the changes in my body, both in the mirror and when I feel the new muscle tone in my back, arms, abs, and thighs.  And just Sunday, a friend/aerobics instructor said she could see in my face that I’ve lost weight.  When I washed my face last night, I could see my cheekbones have reemerged – those lovely cheekbones that bely my Cherokee heritage.  It’s so good seeing them again!

What steps will you make towards embracing the healthy coastal lifestyle?  Here we are, early in the year with New Year’s resolutions and Super Bowl junk foodin’ behind us.  It’s a great time to get serious!  We’ve got this!


The Healthy Coastal Lifestyle Begins With Exercise

For me, it began with exercise.

This week has included celebration as a bunch of a friend’s friends and I celebrated her 10-pound weight loss in the last month.  That’s tremendous, because she owns the fact that all she’s done is hit the treadmill.  Yet, she’s not seeing results as she’s expecting.

Thinking about Kim’s success made me think back over my health journey and what I would tell someone who’s just starting out – what’s worked, what hasn’t, what my obstacles and frustrations have been.  For me, it started with a decision.

There’s what I stated publicly – very specific, measurable goals.

Screen shot of Facebook post
My publicly stated goals

But then I also had some powerful internal motivations, as well.  My husband has a seizure disorder, and nothing makes me feel more powerless than seeing him on the floor and not having the upper body strength to even come close to helping him up.  I’m an only child of parents that are getting older.  When they get older and not able to take care of themselves, I’ll need to take care of them.  I also have an aunt who doesn’t have children and therefore, no one but me to take care of her when she reaches her advanced years.  I’ll own that I haven’t always been in good physical shape, so I want to make sure that I’m healthy enough to ease the burden on my own family should I need them to care for me at some point.  Basically, a large part of my motivation is to be in shape to care for others.

Caveat:  What I’m describing is what has worked for me.  Every single body is different with different needs for different daily activities.  I’ll cover my dietary restrictions – or lack thereof – in a future post.

On 1 October 2016, after months of high-level stressors including the loss of a once-cherished friend, I frankly got tired of being fat and feeling unhealthy.  I was tired of not looking good in my clothes, despite the slight strengthening I’d felt in my legs from months of rehab and in my arms from some light weightlifting.  So, I girled up and stepped on the scales.  After all, I had to learn where I was before I could determine where I needed to go.

It had begun with rehab the January before.  Doing one set each of exercises in the beginning was all well and good, but as the number of sets increased, I had to have something to do in those rest periods besides twiddle my thumbs and peruse Facebook.  So, I grabbed a pair of 2-pound weights and started doing arm exercises.  It was good, but not enough.

One of the key factors I had to take into consideration was the strength and durability of my knees, my recovering right one, especially.  I began to walk.  And walk.  And walk.  I found I really loved walking outside and would do so every chance I had.  We live in a safe neighborhood, and our town boasts a lovely, well-maintained pedestrian/bike trail that circles the historic downtown area.  I’d walk throughout the neighborhood 2-3 days a week – it’s 2.6 miles twice around – then I’d walk around downtown while my teen was in her weekly dance class.

And on the other days, I did strength training – squats, lunges, bridge lifts, crunches (soooo many crunches!), bicep curls, lateral lifts, and tricep curls.  I also began to keep a food journal in my phone; the Samsung Health app includes all this.  I was feeling great!  I was disciplined, and nothing was going to keep me from achieving my goals.

I was three months in.  My clothes were getting loose, and unseasonably warm temps meant I was outside a LOT.  Time to step on the scales for the first time after the holidays.  I’d lost… 3 pounds.  THREE.  Not 13.  Not 30.  3.  At that point, I decided to start looking at measurements instead of weight.  That was much more delightful to track, because while I was burning fat, I was also building muscle.  Often, my losses and my gains canceled each other out.  But imagine a pound of feathers.  Pretty bulky and voluptuous, right?  Now imagine a pound of brick.  It still weighs the same as the feathers, but it’s compact.  That’s what was going on in my body.  The fat has more volume than the muscle, so it takes up more space.

I kept at it, adding biking when the weather warmed up and swimming when things got really hot.  I walked still and ran up and down the field with my soccer teams.  The pounds and inches kept disappearing, the clothes got baggier and baggier.  Last fall, I got tired of the plateau I’d hit and kicked things up with low-impact aerobics.  That lasted just a few weeks before winter break, so I found a Dance2Fit class offered for free just a couple of miles from home.  That’s seriously high intensity that leaves me pouring sweat by the time I’m done.  It’s great!

Throughout all these exercises, some things changed on my inside.  First, if I exercise in the second half of the day, I sleep much better at night.  Exercising that strenuously has also been a good way to increase my water intake.  As I resumed walking last month, yet another change became apparent.  The dancing and aerobics have strengthened my heart muscle (yes, the heart is technically a muscle), and what used to feel “strenuous” is now easy to me.  My rate of speed has increased by a half mile per hour in the last year and I’ve even been able to jog some.  Yet, my heartrate stays comfortably on target or even a little below.  It looks like my challenge will be to kick things up a little bit more.

That’s the cardio side of things, but what about the strength training?  I’ve gotten heavier weights that I’ve been using, and the results are becoming more and more apparent.  For the first time since I was six, I’m able to wear an off-the-shoulder blouse, because I have the sexy shoulders to pull it off.

Woohoo! Sexy shoulders!

The gain has been worth the pain, that’s for sure!  My core is stronger, giving me a stronger back and better posture.  My arms and legs have new contours and sleeker appearances, and both are stronger, able to do more, lift more, live more.

When it comes to living the healthy coastal lifestyle, exercise will come easier to some people, while eating right will be easier for others.  I liked starting with exercise, because I was adding something positive to my life.  When that friendship I mentioned above blew up, suddenly I had lots more time in my days to devote to taking care of myself.  Eating the right way inevitably means taking out something we like.  Maybe it’s that bit of sweet after dinner or the cold PopTarts breakfast as we run out the door.  Working out and beginning to feel those results – while also keeping a food journal – served as great motivation to change my eating habits, which I’ll discuss in the next post.

We’re one month into the New Year.  How are those resolutions coming?  Is your gym membership card or that new piece of exercise equipment starting to collect dust?  Time to dust it off.  Don’t let a week or two of slackness derail your goals.  You’ve got this!

The Morning Routine

My days are seeing something new and wonderful – warmer temperatures, longer days, and free time to get outside.  With these delightful improvements over snow, ice, and below-freezing wind chills, I’m taking every advantage of them that I can.  I’ve gotten outside and walked.  Then, the other day, something new and cool happened.

I was walking and feeling a little winded.  That didn’t make sense, since I’d already done cardio two other times earlier in the week.  When my fitness app gave me my 1-mile progress report, I discovered why I’d felt winded – I was averaging 3.8 miles per hour!  Talk about some hustle, and that’s a pretty significant improvement over last year at this time!  Then something totally new happened.  I was into my second lap, and my stride shortened and my steps quickened, and next thing I know, I’m jogging and loving it!  Except for up and down the football pitch with kids, I haven’t jogged since high school.

With all this time outside and the dry winter air, my skin needs a little extra TLC.  After I exercise, I shower with a luscious beer- or milk-based soap.  Currently, I’m

Outer Banks Soap
Outer Banks Beer Soap. Ideal for men, but perfect for both men and women.

using a bar of a vintage beer soap from my old brand, but if I were to use any soap I have on hand, this time of year just screams for Lavender & Goat Milk.

Goat's Milk and Lavender soap
Goat’s Milk & Lavender Lotion – all natural with oodles of skin lovin’ stuff!

Goat’s milk has awesome skin-loving vitamins with antioxidant properties, and the lavender simply soothes the soul.  This soap leaves my skin soft, supple, and moisturized – perfect for everyday skin comfort.

Truth:  Right now, I’m wearing pants all day every day, which means I really don’t care how my legs look.  When I do care, like when someone may actually see them, I follow my shower with a light application of Orange Blossom & Amber Body Creme.  Not only does it smell heavenly, but the blend of coconut cream and avocado oil slays the alligators my legs can become on the driest of days.

body creme picture
Orange Blossom & Amber Coconut & Avocado Body Creme

Body Creme or not, I finish my body care routine with a light application of Tahiti Kiss Face Creme.  This is my most popular product ever, and for good reason.  This whisper-light face creme soaks into skin, bathing it instantly in rich

Tahiti Kiss face creme
Tahiti Kiss, a luxuriously extraordinary face crème, will treat your skin to a taste of the South Pacific

moisture that doesn’t leave skin greasy.  Plus, its light floral scent lingers gently all day without clashing with your favorite body scents.  One customer said that it makes her skin look bronze (there’s no coloring added).  Another commented about how it makes her skin glow.  This creme is fabulous for either day or night!

Once I’ve exercised, washed, and moisturized, I’m ready to tackle anything the day can throw at me!  Taking just that little bit of time to pamper my skin feels luxurious and indulgent, which is a great way to kick off the day!

I hope you’ll join us tomorrow, Tuesday, 23 January, as I go live talking about these awesome products and sharing some new discoveries I’ve made in pursuing the healthy coastal lifestyle.  You can join us at noon eastern in the Coastal Carolina Soap Co. Facebook group.


What Facebook’s Changes Mean for Small Businesses

Facebook announced last week that they are changing – again – their algorithms.  This time, however, it’s in a way that I as a regular Facebook user like.  Facebook is going back to showing us posts from our friends and family members with fewer posts from companies, pages, and brands.  As a person on Facebook who uses social media to keep up with people I don’t get to see on a regular basis, this excites me.  I’m looking forward to not having to click on a friend’s profile to see what they’ve been up to.

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...
Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a brand with a Facebook page, however, this means that even fewer people will see my page posts.  I’m not sweating it, though.  Why?  Because that’s not where I devote most of my promotional time and energy.  My Facebook page is a great place to post things on the run.  My branded Facebook group is where I spend the most time having fun and engaging with my customers.

Here are some of my thoughts on the changes and small business.

One, we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket. If you invest your savings in stocks, you wouldn’t chunk the whole lot in IBM or Apple; you’d put it into a mutual fund. We shouldn’t invest all our business promotion time/energy/money in one source, either. We don’t have control over what the stock market does, and we have no control over 3rd party entities, like Twitter, FB, Instagram, etc.

Two, Facebook will still make money from this move. It’ll just cost more to get the good reach. We might start seeing more ads from huge companies and fewer from small businesses.  I’m not going to put my money there, personally, when I’d rather invest that money elsewhere, like new product development.

Three, while we can’t control what the social media/networking companies (yes, profit-making companies) do, we CAN control what we do. Social media companies do not have our best interests at heart.  Their devotion is to their shareholders, investors, and employees.  They started these great social networks and figured out a way to monetize them.  So what can we as business owners do?  We can blog and send those newsletters out. We can engage with our customers intimately. We can make and keep our customers happy and show them our love and appreciation.

I’m not going to change much about how I market, because FB posts to my page aren’t doing much for me already. I’ll just keep on doing what I have been doing. For me, that’s blogging, sending emails, engaging with my group, and making personal contacts with customers.

What do you think about Facebook’s coming changes?  If you’re a business owner, how will Facebook’s changes impact how you market your business?  

Anticipating the Thaw

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, are not from the U.S., or have no access to outside news, you know that the better part of the East Coast has been dealing with way sub-freezing temperatures, snow, and ice.  Even Florida saw wintry weather, and they almost never get yucky winter weather!  Here in coastal North Carolina, we got ice and snow.  That in and of itself isn’t really remarkable; it’s certainly not the first snowstorm we’ve gotten since we’ve lived here.  A layer of ice then snow usually brings some widespread power outages – around 24 hours of no electricity and quality family time.  This is followed by a day of full sun and 55 degrees to bring on the melting.

That didn’t happen this time.  We got a little icy precipitation and we were supposed to get 1-3″ of snow.  We got more like 6″ of snow.  And we have yet to see temperatures climb to 40, let alone the coveted 55.

snow picture
A section of our backyard on Thursday morning.

On the plus side, we didn’t lose electricity, for which we are grateful.  This snow has been hanging out since Wednesday night, and it was beautiful.  Thursday, it was brutally cold and we enjoyed some time playing in it.  Friday was still very cold, and the girls enjoyed throwing snowballs at the house.  Today, colder still.  Tomorrow promises more of the same, and lows are staying in the teens, so the ice isn’t going away very quickly.  But… Monday’s coming!

As I looked at the weather forecast on my phone and felt the delirious excitement of what’s to come, I remembered this episode of Northern Exposure.  You may remember this dramedy from the early 90s about a young New York doctor sent to a small town of quirky residents in Alaska to help pay off his med school loan.  In this one particular episode, as the days begin to get longer, the residents are excited and planning a huge celebration.  At last, the long darkness of winter is over!

That’s me as I think about this coming week.  The temperatures will rise and the snow will melt completely.  I will be free to leave our property safely to run errands and take care of business for the first time since New Year’s Day.  I’m almost giddy with excitement!  Me, who spent so much time in December bemoaning how busy I was with all the running around!  I get to run errands and spend over an hour in grueling torment at Dance2Fit.  Yes, it’ll be glorious!

The week has brought ministers snow surfing; teens, kids, and adults playing in snow; snow people; snow angels; snowball fights; widely impassible roads; and many school and business closures.  Even our church is planning its first web-worship, live on Facebook.  It’s also brought salty waves kissing snow-laden beaches and eerily desolate footprints on an empty, snowy pier.  The week made a liar out of me again, as I’d told my oldest when we moved down here that we probably wouldn’t see snow much anymore.

These are the trials and joys of living at the beach.  Snow here is pretty unusual, so the excitement of “just a snow day” ramps up exponentially.  But just like spring’s rains and summer’s heat, too much of a good thing makes it less of a good thing, and we’re ready for the thaw and the promised 70 degrees of later this week.

The time stuck inside being warm has made it easy for me to move on my soap restocking.  Follow me on Instagram and Facebook to see what we’re brewing up that’s new and awesome.  And I’d love for you to join our Facebook group for the first peek at new products and the first tidbits of news from Coastal Carolina Soap Co.


The Brilliant Buyer’s Guide to Leaving Product Reviews

You are not an idiot.  I know this.  You know this.  But sometimes, trying to find your way around the finer areas of a website sure can make you feel like one, can’t it?  Even with my own site, I try to make it do certain things, often accompanied by the thought, This is my blasted website! Why does it have to be so hard?  I’ve had a couple of inquiries from customers asking how they can leave reviews on products.  When I tested out my site, that’s the one thing I never thought about doing.  (After all, I think all of my products are the most amazing thing ever!)  So, I went through the steps of leaving a review so I could share them with you.

  1. Sign in to your account.  This is in the upper right corner of your screen.  Once you login, you’ll be redirected to your personal account page.
    Sign in to your account. This is in the upper right corner.

    2.  Find the product(s) on the site you wish to review.  Unfortunately, the “my account” section doesn’t list individual items purchased, just quantity spent, order date, etc.  I chose Christmas Spice Body Creme.  The listing goes Product Name -> Quantity in Stock -> Price -> Add to cart, followed by the Paypal button and social share buttons.  Under that is the “Write a Review” box.

“Write a Review” box is right under the Paypal button and the social share icons.

3.  Submit your review.  A notification will pop up on my end to let me know I have a review I need to moderate, and once I do that, your review will show up on the website.

This is what it looks like on my end.

I absolutely promise you…  I will not delete negative product reviews.  (If you’re blasting my company or me, I will not approve those and strongly encourage you to contact me via my website, email, phone, Facebook messenger, snail mail, or carrier pigeon so we can discuss any problems you may have.)  Fragrance love is highly subjective, and how soaps treat different customers’ skin has a great deal of variance.  What doesn’t work for one person might be exactly what another customer is looking for.  Real life example here…  I had a supplier who never approved negative reviews.  Let’s say, for example, I’d bought a duplicated scent from that company.  It smelled marvelous, dead-on dupe for the original, but it was awful in cold-processed soap.  The scent itself morphed in ugly ways (means it stank), it turned my soap the color of spinach after it comes out of a baby, and it was just a disappointment for what I wanted to use it for.  If I left that as a review, the site’s owner would never have approved it.  However, that’s a warning to others who might want to use it in soap, while those who are shopping for it to use in other applications need to know how true it smells and that they’ll likely be pleased with it.

With my own site, I’ll take the same “it may help someone else” approach.  After all, that’s the reason I ask customers to leave reviews, right?  So your 2-star, “Dried out my skin” soap may be just what that customer with excessively oily skin is looking for.

If you have purchased something from me and have not yet reviewed it, I invite you again to cruise over to the website and do that.  It won’t take but a few minutes.  If you submit your review in the form of a poem – it can be freestyle, rhyming, haiku, sonnet, or whatever – I will find some way to reward both your creativity and your bravery.  It’ll either be as free shipping, something off your total purchase, or SOMETHING.  (This idea just came to me as I was typing this, so stay tuned for what I decide to do.)


DIY Holidays – Grapevine Wreaths

It sat on my bathroom counter for years, “it” being a large cork with a styrofoam hemisphere glued on top and seashells covering the styrofoam.  I’d had it for years.  Way back when Peter and I were dating or engaged – I honestly can’t remember which Christmas it was – his brother and his family had given me a glass jar filled with red and green m&m’s and topped with this seashell-covered lid.  The majority of the shells were augers, a small spiral shell that is easy to find along the Crystal Coast.  Once the m&m’s were history (my love of m&m’s is legendary among my friends and family members and was a running gag in grad school), that jar made a lovely addition to my bathroom counter, often filled with cotton balls.

A few years ago, my younger daughter accidentally knocked the jar off the counter, leaving me with just the lid.  I’m pretty sure my husband’s sister-in-law had painstakingly glued all those shells onto the lid herself, had designed it from shells gathered over the course of numerous trips to the family’s beach house.  Because of that, I couldn’t bring myself just to trash it, and as I was striving towards decluttering the counter top, I really didn’t feel replacing the jar was a high priority.

One morning over breakfast as I was staring out the window at the grapevine trellis edging its way to winter’s dormancy, it came to me.  I could make grapevine wreaths!  I wouldn’t even have to buy them; I could harvest my own grapevines and make them myself.  A little later that morning, the shell-covered lid caught my eye, and the idea of making beach-themed wreaths for Christmas gelled.

Freshly harvested grapevine

I immediately set about twining the vines into wreaths.  I think I got a bit overly ambitious in my harvesting.  My husband, Peter, got into the action, too.  After a little trimming and tucking, they looked great!  (These are before the trimming and tucking.)

All the grapevine wreaths Peter and I made.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with the rest of these!

I made a video of the designing of these, complete with a view of the final results.

I hung these right beside the front door, and I am pleased with how they turned out and how they look.  Although it looks like they’re strung together, I left them separate so I could hang them differently in other years.  I’m also excited to be able to showcase the beautiful shells that were originally on the jar lid and give them new life.

Happy crafting, and please post your project pictures!  I’d love to see them!

Thankful for the Healthy Coastal Lifestyle

About 13 1/2 months ago, I set out on a new health improvement regimen with four specific goals in mind:

  1. Lose 50 pounds.
  2. Improve my knee health.
  3. Prepare my body for mission trips.
  4. Be able to wear my favorite velvet choker again.

The rebrand of last year and the beginning of my new health goals that came just a few months later led my business in ways I couldn’t have even conceived when I was sitting up in bed late at night, legal pad on my knees, scribbling away at ideas.  No longer was my brand just about enjoying the beach with every bath, but it became instead how you can enjoy this beach life with us as I invited you along on beach trips, the ups and downs (and bruises and road rash) of getting fit, and how we eat in our healthy coastal lifestyle.

So, here it is, over a year later.  How did I do?  Pretty well, but I’m not done, yet.  I haven’t yet lost 50 pounds.  I’ve lost 22 pounds and a LOT of inches.  My knees feel awesome!  The aggravation in my left knee from trying to be active with too much weight on it is gone, and my compromised right knee is doing just fine.  In fact, my knees made it through two soccer seasons with no brace and just the very occasional use of NSAIDs.  Back in May, I had the opportunity to go on my first mission trip since starting this journey.  My dad was concerned that all the walking would stress my knees, leaving me unfit for the real work, but I was fine after some light stretches each evening.  And today…  This morning, I took a few moments and tried on my beloved choker, discovering to my delight that it fits again.

The past year saw some frustrations as I tried to get the rest of the family on board with my goals.  However, it didn’t take more than a few months – OK, somewhere between a “few” and “several” – for my other half to stop preparing 900-calorie dinners on his nights to cook.  On the other hand, it also saw me learning how to cook tasty, filling meals that weren’t horrendously laden with calories.  I also got stuck on a plateau.  The same weight for MONTHS!  Oh my gosh, that drove me crazy!  It’s only been in the past month that I’ve broken that plateau and continued dropping.  But, oh, the joy!  The joy of trying on jeans that are one size smaller than I had been wearing (and hiking up all the time) and instructing my poor, beleaguered daughter to “take these and see if there’s a pair smaller.”  Then there is the delightful hilarity of modeling those jeans and appreciating how well they hug in all the right places.  There may have been singing and dancing involved in the appreciation.

After the fall soccer season ended, I wanted to do something to keep that activity up.  Nothing beats running up and down a football pitch with a dozen littles for burning calories!  Our church offers aerobics once a week, so I decided to take advantage of it.  This is what last week’s class looked like on my fitness app.

Sweet! 500 calories burned in just 48 minutes!

Aerobics has become fellowship time as we talk through the workouts.  Some walks present holy moments with one of my daughters, usually the younger.  Other walks clear my head and help me be more creative.  Today’s, for example, gave me space for some crazy poetry writing, as well as drafting this article.  Everything I do for me ultimately benefits my family and my business, as well.

I’m so thankful for this journey, because it has helped me get healthier, helped me be able to enjoy the beach more, helped my business grow, and helped my family.  On top of that, it’s also made it possible for me to meet several new people and get to know many others better.  I’m thankful that you, my customers, have willingly traversed this road with me, and I hope we continue to grow in healthiness and all that brings with it.  After all, what good is living the beach life if we’re not in shape to enjoy it?

You are invited to continue to follow my progress as I continue to push to that 50-pound mark.  I’ll be posting new winning recipes as I discover them and grumbling grunting sharing what’s new in my workouts.  (My aerobics instructor is talking “steps” for January, and I think half my Christmas list is from Dick’s.)  And just… Thank you.  From the bottom of my heart.