Jenna: Heart Healthy

I’ve been thinking about the holidays a lot this week. My family is coming here for Thanksgiving, and Christmas is only about 8 weeks away. Can you believe it?!

Today I was thinking about how I made my holiday’s healthier last year by focusing on keeping extra sugar and sodium to a minimum. I also got in a workout every day of the Christmas break. I was determined to not let the holidays derail my progress.

I want to do the same thing this year. The holidays also make me think about family. My family likes to gather with food, and it is not always the healthiest. My grandmother is thankfully still with us, but she has had heart disease for many many years. My mom is on medication for her high blood pressure.

Did you know that heart disease is the NUMBER ONE KILLER of women? It kills more women every year than ALL CANCER COMBINED. 

The good news is there is a lot women (and men) can do to combat heart disease and related complications. Staying a healthy weight and working in physical activity are two of the most important. I know I have the family history, so I want to be sure I focus on it even more.

I’ll post about hearth healthy tips in the weeks leading up to the holidays. I also want to host an online challenge group, where we will focus on staying healthy for the holidays. I am aiming for a second week of November start date. Stay tuned!

I love lots of people will all my heart. I need to be sure it can keep on giving!

Rose: DIY Body Butter

Last week, my neighbor invited me over to make body butter from scratch. I’d never done anything like this, so I jumped on the opportunity. I’m always looking for DIY gift ideas, and these are perfect. Spoiler alert for some: you may be receiving these as stocking stuffers come Christmas!

Aiko was kind enough to find a recipe and gather materials. We followed instructions from this website. The process is not as labor intensive as it sounds. It’s essentially just like baking a dessert. We decided upon three scents: lavender, rosemary mint and bergamot (which smells like Earl Grey tea).

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Together, you mix up most of the ingredients and cook them down in a saucepan. Then you let them sit in the refrigerator for about an hour. We enjoyed this part because it gave us plenty of time to gab and catch up. Once the materials had set a bit more, we took turns blending them with a hand mixer. That was probably the most labor intensive step; we mixed for a good solid 10 minutes until it became a whipped consistency, like this:

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Overall, I was happy with the way our DIY body butter turned out. We doubled the recipe so we had a TON of leftovers. That said, one batch out to do it for about 6-8 small jars. It was a perfect way to spend a Tuesday night with friends, too.

(Note: My only negative reaction: the butter is VERY oily. I would probably cut back on the amount of coconut oil used. That said, it does settle into the skin rather quickly, so it must be working it’s magic.)

What have you been DIY-ing lately?

Jenna: Budget

Who got a pit in their stomach reading the title? It is one of those things we aren’t suppose to talk about, yet it seems to be such a focus and “deal breaker” for so many things.

Much like this blog post, life has not been extra exciting or compelling lately. I have gone to the gym, I bought new sneakers, I have spent a lot of time on trains, and catching up with old friends. Sometimes it is just like this. I eat, sleep, work, workout, and fit in some socializing when I can. The middle of September, I put myself on a pretty strict budget. I have zero debt, which is amazing, but I can often times just spend money on things that are not necessary. Like many topics I have written about before, spending can become a habit. With this, comes – well – less fun.

I hate to say it that way, but it is true. I do have a lot of low-cost or “free” activities that I do enjoy, but it can feel like a punishment sometimes. I guess I stick with it because I am fueled by the notion that I have a bigger goal (and savings accounts amount) that I would like to hit, and a lot of the little ways I spend money don’t end up adding up to much of anything. For example, eating out is one of the worst investments ever. You pay five times what it would cost to make the same portion at home, yet it is one of my absolute favorite things to do so I manage to make it happen. Lately, I have just picked more budget friendly establishments and cut the “grabbing a slice of pizza” out when I have perfectly easy, quick, and easy options at home.

So far, it is going pretty well. I think the budget I have set for myself is totally obtainable and I need to just stick with it.

I’ll blog about “money” more because I think it is a relevant topic that isn’t addressed enough. Stay tuned.

Rose: A Hometown Weekend

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to my hometown for a family baby shower. I spent two nights at my mom’s house, which was quite a nice little respite. This time together was much needed; I hadn’t seen my mom in two months! I set up my air mattress in her spare room — super cozy — and we spent the weekend catching up on life. It was wonderful.

On Saturday we drove to Pittsburgh for the baby shower of my cousin’s wife Jackie. I’ve gotten quite close with Jackie since she met Danny. She’s been in several of my fitness accountability groups and has been a great support system offline, too. Turns out her shower was only a block away from where I used to live in Pittsburgh. Mom and I posed for a shot after she opened her gifts:

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The baby shower theme was centered around children’s books. The food was created to match, and the only game played involved balloons. In each balloon was a slip of paper. Some had the names of children’s books. Others had a standard “Thank You.” Both my mom and I’s balloons had the books, so I came away with this GREAT gift basket of nail accessories. I needed this!

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On Sunday, I headed up the road to visit my father, his wife and my other side of the family. I packed a lot into one day: lunch with my dad and stepmom, cards with my grandfather and even a quick visit to see my childhood best friend, Becky. I also saw my stepgrandmother on the way out of town. Talk about power visits!

Maybe it was the cool crispness of the air, or the fact that I saw so many people in a short span of time … but it was one of those weekends I just wanted to bottle up and save. So glad I was able to travel back for the weekend … more visits to come!

Jenna: Here’s to the positive

As Rose mentioned, we kicked off our Wellness Challenges this month. We are currently in the midst of the second one. It has allowed me to focus my energy on myself, what is important to me, and how the world around me can affect my mood.

This morning, other than a few happy Florida State Football fans, my Facebook newsfeed was full of negativity. From news outlets to my own friends. The words “hate” “annoyed” and “miserable” were used. I immediately got a pit in my stomach, and felt my entire mood change. It’s surprising to me how people let things that are completely out of their control consume them, and to the point that they feel Facebook is the proper place to share them. I would also like to mention that most of the topics were written about things not affecting them, and were muddled with opinions that were not based on fact.

I was so distressed by this that I immediately popped over here to write.

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I have realized through these challenges that negativity becomes a habit. Just like spending money, grabbing coffee every morning, and exercising each day. We are creatures of habit, and when it comes to negative dwelling we must break the cycle. This is something I struggle with, but I have gotten to a point where I know how to shut it down. And shut it down we must!

Here’s to walking barefoot. To make-up free days. To saying I Love You. To sweating, to messy hair, to taking deep breaths, to salty lips, to summer sunburns, to sandy feet, to iced coffee on hot days, to hot coffee on chilly mornings, to sunsets, to holding hands, to singing loudly, to good books, to friends that tell you the truth no matter what.

Here’s to puppies, to garden fresh veggies, to the full moon, to going on vacation, to being home, to yoga, to long hugs, to too much jewelry, to laughing until your face hurts.

Here’s to silence. To first kisses. To sighing. To feeling supporting.  To supporting those you care about.
“Here’s to life and death and the moments in between that make it all worthwhile.”

Here’s to the positive. Find it. Embrace it. Live it.