And just like that – life changes

About two weeks ago, we got a call that a family member was sent to the emergency room. Our life hasn’t been the same since. Between traveling between two cities, hospital visits, many phone calls and sleepless nights – I have no idea where the last 2 weeks have gone. I don’t want to get into too many details, but I do know the next few months of our lives will revolve around spending time with family and coping with an incurable illness.

Coupled with the tragic new out of Connecticut, I have a very heavy heart. My family lived in Newport for 2 and half years. While it’s been a long time since we’ve gone back, the town is a part of our family history and my heart breaks for our friends and loved ones impacted by this tragedy. This will be a short post, and I hope to be back online in the New Year.

Downsizing

Many companies, non-profits and even government agencies are downsizing. My workplace is not immune to this reality. Over the summer several positions were cut – about half in my city alone. I lost my job. To be called into an office and be told my position had been eliminated – well it was a shock.  I’ve been working here for almost 10 years. I do not want to relive the emotions I went through over the summer. In my case I was fortunate to get another job in a different department. That being said I still learned a few things.  

  • Never take your job for granted
  • Upgrade you skills every year
  • Network now – build relationships BEFORE you need them
  • A job is just a job. Have an identity outside of work
  • Never burn bridges
  • Live below your means and have a safety cushion

Our workplace is going from 3 floors to 2. I will be changing offices next week. I spent part of today cleaning and sorting through my files.   I found the most random stuff.Image

What I will miss the most are my office decorations. This was my welcome back after our wedding. I never took it down 😛ImageAs an extra treat today, our building hosted its annual holiday wine and cheese. Each year the spread gets better and better.

ImageHave you ever lost your job? How did you cope?

Tea for Two – holiday gift ideas!

This year I am trying to put a little more effort and creativity into my Christmas gifts. This is partly due to the fact that we are on a strict budget, but more so because it’s a lot of fun! Sure my dad would love a Barnes and Noble gift card (which he’ll probably still get) but the real memories come from opening little thoughtful gifts.

Since I was a kid, my parents had “tea time”. After dinner my sister and I would clean up the kitchen while my parents (weather permitting) sat on front porch, drank tea and enjoyed each others company. Looking back, it was probably the one time during the day where they could be alone and catch up. My parents are not tea snobs, in fact any no name English breakfast or green tea will do. Last year I introduced them to loose leaf tea. My dad (bless him) thought it was too much of a production. Basically he didn’t want to have to clean the filter. So this year I decided to make them a variety of loose leaf tea blends (pre-bagged!)

I bought lots of different blends from the bulk health food store, tea bags (100 for only 6$) and got to work. I had a lot of fun creating the tags for each bag. depending on the properties and type of tea (Rooibos, Green, Black) I added personalized  tags to each one.

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It was an easy, fun project. Now I just need to find a fun container to put them in. Do you have any unique home-made gift ideas?

Here’s to a dine-in, debt free December

I love Christmas. My sister, parents and I all live in different cities, so I really value any chance we get to be together. My mom has always made Christmas special and I have so many wonderful holiday memories. I know that I am blessed. J’s family never really cared about Christmas, so even though this will be our 9th Christmas together he is always amazed at just how INTO the holidays we get. Of course the holidays also mean we sometimes spend more money than we should. Between eating out, buying gifts, travelling (airfare!) & parties galore  – our credits cards get quite the workout. This year, we are trying to be extra careful. We are still paying down our wedding…and we hope to move into a bigger place next year. I really don’t want to be saddled with more debt in January.

So last night we came up with our holiday budget and we plan on sticking with it! There are certain things we can’t avoid – but there is a lot of stuff in our control. I’ve decided to join Fitnessista’s Dine In December Challenge. My goal is to eat in every day. I started yesterday and will keep up the challenge until December 23 – which is when we’ll travel to see my folks. We are leaving at 5AM and won’t arrive until well after 4PM their time, so I know we’ll need to eat airport food at some point. Although I do plan on bringing some snacks in my bag. I also have 2 work lunches planned between now and december 23.  But aside from that – I will do my very best to eat in every day. This of course means a lot of planning!

This morning we had french toast (yum!) before heading out to buy a couple Christmas gifts (so far we are within our budget!) I do however hate going to the mall, especially this time of year and now I have a horrible headache. This afternoon, we will do cooking and cleaning. Hopefully this headache passes and I can do another insanity workout.

Saturday @ the Christmas Market

So far this has been a really great Saturday! We had a great breakfast – eggs, spinach, bacon, potatoes and organic whole grain bread. Then we headed off to the Christmas Market. LOVE. There were dozens of booths with unique gift ideas and crafts. There was even a ton of booths featuring great eats. This one caught my eye and made me a tad nostalgic for home – but I resisted. ImageBecause it was sooo cold (minus 10C) HOLY @!*# we were very focused on the task at hand; to buy Christmas gifts! There is a chocolate maker in this market that makes the best Mayan hot chocolate.  We picked up a few packets of this mix, plus a few other goodies to give to friends and family who will host us over the holidays. After the market, we went grocery shopping before heading home. We had a very nice lunch – bagels, smoked salmon and salad before squeezing in a workout. 

ImageI made it through the first 28 minutes of Insanity’s Plyometric Cardio Circuit Workout. The last time I did the workout, I only did 20 minutes. I am very careful to stop once I get tired and I can no longer keep my form. Even though I can’t finish it, it is getting “easier” each time. I don’t know if this workout will ever be easy.  I have never been a fan of cardio workouts, but it feels good to know that this workout is strengthening my heart. I need to remember that there are a lot of “non-visible” benefits to working out. 

Mid Week check-in

Monday was an “off” day for me. I came home and DID NOT want to exercise. But I talked myself into doing at least the first 20 minutes of the insanity workout – I ended up doing the whole thing! I took a lot breaks, but I made it to the end. I felt so good!

On Tuesday I has unexpected dinner plans – I met up with a friend I haven’t seen in 6 years! I moved to a new city 5 years ago and we lost touch. Turns out she now lives in the same city as me, and in the same neighbourhood. It was great meeting up with her. We ate, drank and chatted for 4 hours. I got home at 10 PM and just crashed.

Yesterday I was a Zombie. Everything ached. I got into my workout gear – started the warm up and instantly felt nauseous.  So I stopped, showered, ate dinner and caught up on some Walking Dead. I figure if I feel like a Zombie – why not watch them on TV.

Work is getting busier and busier, but I have managed to buy some Christmas gifts on my lunch hour. It feels good to get a head start. Tonight we are going to meet with a realtor – if we like her we will sign with her and start our house/condo hunting. I am excited! (and anxious)

 

Sunday, Prepday

This morning I did the Insanity Pure Cardio workout. Well the first 25 minutes of it. I get so tired about 20-25 minutes in that I have trouble keeping good form. I hope my stamina starts to improve with time. Then we went out for brunch with a friend before going grocery shopping. Grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon is a BAD idea, the lines were so long and it wasn’t fun.

We usually reserve Sunday afternoon to prepping our meals for the week to come, by making 2 big dishes. One dish usually covers our lunches from Mon – Wed and the other one serves as our dinners.  By mid-week – we get “creative” (read: eggs, French toast) with our meals because we’ve run out of food.

We are trying to eat less meat, but when we do we buy local and organic. It’s $$ but we still manage (for the most part) to respect our grocery budget.  This week we bought a chicken, which we are going to roast. And for the side we are making Root Vegetable Mash.

The other dish we are going to prepare for our lunches is Giada’s Turkey, Kale and Brown Rice Soup. I am going to replace the turkey with quinoa. I have SOO much brown rice that I need to find new and interesting ways to use it.

As for exercise – it’s been 2 weeks since I started doing the insanity workout. My gym membership has expired and frankly I don’t want to shell out 500$ to renew it – at least not right now. We are sitting on a mountain of wedding debt and with Christmas around the corner, I am trying to put any extra $$ towards paying it down. Also I hope we will move out in the next 6 months and I doubt we’ll be staying in this neighborhood. That being said it takes an extra kind of motivation to workout at home. At least when I go the gym, the teacher motivates me to keep going. So this is my workout plan. I am writing it down in hopes that this simple act will hold me accountable:

  • Monday – Insanity – Pure Cardio
  • Tuesday – Insanity – Core Cardio Balance
  • Wednesday – Cardio – Recovery
  • Thursday – Cardio – Abs

I also want to squeeze in a bit of Christmas shopping on my lunch hours, although given my workload that might be a bit ambitious.