Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Saturday Weigh-In

After this morning I'm not weighing in again until 2017. I still have 7.2-9.2 pounds to lose. Last week I shared some of the inspiration I hope to get from books in order to achieve my weight goals.

But today is Christmas Eve, for goodness' sake! Between now and New Year's Eve day, there will be many delectables to enjoy, albeit in moderation.

Does anyone have a special Christmas Eve meal that is part of their tradition? I'd thought of making tourtiere, which is very Canadian, but with all of the prep for tomorrow, I didn't want more work. Maybe next year if I can get it made ahead. Instead, we're having a fairly light soup supper followed by rice pudding. I'll bake an almond into it for luck, though we're not Swedish. After supper we're off to a Christmas Eve church service, and I imagine we'll be watching It's a Wonderful Life this evening.

Tomorrow's menu consists of:
  • turkey (for the non-vegetarians)
  • stuffing
  • lentil walnut loaf
  • mashed potatoes
  • gravy
  • a sweet potato/yam dish, which is being contributed
  • a green veg dish, also contributed
  • cranberry sauce
  • homemade dinner rolls
  • a jello mold - haven't made one in years!
  • chocolate cake, contributed 
What's your favourite part of the Christmas meal? Mine is the stuffing!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Right Now

Heading into Christmas isn't a good time to write about our California trip (just too busy), but last week's 'Right Now' post was such a hit, I think I'll repeat it today:

This is what I'm doing right now:

Drinking: Nothing, but I did have coffee earlier today.

Reading: Mainly magazines like Canadian Moneysense, Our Canada, and The Reader's Digest. Do I sound like an old fogey, or what? (For the record, the correct answer is 'no'!)

Watching: Castle, season one. I've heard good things about this detective-themed show, and my husband and I did enjoy the first episode. I have a feeling our watching will give way to movies like It's A Wonderful Life, etc. over the next week, though.

Listening: Jimmy Rankin's Tinsel Town

Creating: Christmas dinner. Yesterday I made Lentil Walnut Loaf for the vegetarians in my family, as well as a stuffing.

Planting: Metaphorical seeds.

Buying: Christmas presents. I’m almost there and that feels great.

Dropping: Expectations.

Wrapping: Nothing at the moment, but I do have several gifts wrapped now.

Anticipating: Christmas Eve service and a family gathering on Christmas Day.

Baking: Nothing, but my daughter started making Empire cookies yesterday. Our favourite recipe.

I’d love to hear what’s going on in your part of the world right now. Do tell!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge: in Review

Thought I'd revisit the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge in one last 2016 post. Finished my last letter over the weekend. Woot!

The table below compares the books I planned to read with the books I actually read. If I read the book intended, it appears only in the January column.

List in January
Actually Read

I intend to participate in the 2017 challenge as well and none of the unread 2016 titles will appear in my new to-read list (which I'll post next month).

At the time of this writing I've read 89 books for my 52 book Goodreads challenge. Typically I read at least 70 books annually (including the odd children's picture book), so I think I'd best increase my total-number-of-books challenge to this number in 2017.

Happy holiday reading, everyone! I hope you are gifted no less than one good book this Christmas and will check back with you next week to find out. 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Advent: Love

At Christmas we remember and celebrate God's love and his incredible gift to us. Whether or not Jesus was actually born on December 25, this is the day that has been set aside to recall his coming. 

God is love (1 John 4:8 and 16). We know this because, even when we were yet sinners, he had a plan for our salvation. This plan required that Jesus come and live among us. But it would not be all babe-in-a-manger, lovey-dovey and sweet. It would be doubt, fear, anger, rejection, the cross. Jesus demonstrated John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

Christ-followers love God. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19) and gave us the example. We show him our love when we give him our lives and allow him to take control. We show him our love when we praise him with our whole heart and when we obey him. 

Christ-followers love each other. We are bound together as brothers and sisters in the Lord. Anyone who says he loves God, but hates his brother does not have the love of God in him (I John 2:9-11). Love is the standard by which we must judge ourselves. Some people are more difficult to love. If we examine our own hearts, we should wonder that God could find us lovable. How much more should we love those he has placed in our lives?

Christ-followers love those who are outside the faith. We see them as God does. Everyone who has ever existed, exists, or will exist is someone created by God. In his image. Loved by him. If he loves them, who are we to withhold love, or worse, to throw stones? It is love, after all, that everyone craves. And it is love that has the power to draw people to God.  

Consider today how well you love. Is there anything you need to change? Do it, and have a loving Christmas, a loving life.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Saturday Weigh-In

There's not much fun in restricting your diet over the holidays. Of course, you can make sure you eat in moderation, enjoying the Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa foods without stuffing yourself. But to deny the pleasure of them entirely would be foolhardy, and a risk I'm not prepared to take.

What's the risk, you ask? Good question! The risk is that in denying myself the enjoyment of holiday treats, I might actually give myself over to them. You know how it is - bottle your feelings up long enough and before long you're exploding. Prevent yourself from having even a spoonful of ice cream at a gathering and when you get home you devour the entire 1.89 liter bucket. All or nothing. Famine or feast. 

So I'm going to partake without going wild. And I'm going to plan for conscientious change in the new year. Not a New Year's resolution - I'm not big on those - but a goal to strive for. 

To that end, I've identified several books I want to read on the topic:

28 Days of Clean Eating: the Healthy Way to Kick Dieting Forever - Sonoma Press

The Abundance Diet: The 28-day Plan to Reinvent Your Health, Lose Weight, and Discover the Power of Plant-Based Foods - Somer McCowan

Perhaps the most important aspect of "diet" and weight loss is what happens between your ears. The brain/mind needs changing. I need to think like a slim person does. Hence the following titles:

The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off - Daniel Amen

Thin from Within: The Powerful Self-Coaching Program for Permanent Weight Loss - Joseph J. Luciani

The Diet Trap Solution: Train Your Brain to Lose Weight and Keep It Off for Good - Judith S. Beck and Deborah Beck Busis

Skinny Habits: The Six Secrets of Thin People - Bob Harper

I may start with that last one, which I've read previously. It's easy-to-read with a conversational style and had some good pointers. As always, it's in the application.

Are there any books you've read on the subject of diet and weight that you found particularly helpful or life-changing? What works (or doesn't work) for you?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Christmas Spirit

Today's Think Write Thursday topic is to write about holiday spirit. What does it mean to have holiday spirit? Do you feel like you have it this year? Why or why not?

To me, having holiday spirit means being excited about the Christmas season, feeling the anticipation, and looking forward to all of the events and traditions that are part of what makes this time of year so special.

That being said, my Christmas spirit is running a little low just yet. We've had three Advent Sundays at church so far, with the lighting of the candles, and we've got some outdoor decorations up (wreath, lights), so there are those visible/ tangible reminders that yes, Christmas is coming, but we've also been too busy the last few weeks. My husband's running around like crazy at work, then he comes home and works on renovating/refreshing one of our basement rooms for our son. This means ripping out carpet, laying sub-floor, laying vinyl planks, painting, moving furniture from here to there and there to here. Our basement is a mess, and that's usually where we put up our Christmas tree.

I do have the majority of our Christmas cards distributed, and I have bought most of the gifts, but there are still indoor decorations to erect, including the tree, goodies to be baked, gifts to be wrapped, a Christmas luncheon to host, a cocktail party to attend, the house to clean and tidy, and Christmas dinner to prepare and serve. With less than two weeks to go!!

Thankfully, my son is going to come and help his dad this Friday, and my daughter will be home from school Saturday. I know she'll want a break after her exams, but I hope that by Tuesday she'll be ready to help bake, decorate, etc. (Maybe she will read this and feel inspired).

One thing that is helping with my Christmas spirit are the carols I'm hearing as I drive to and from work these days. I heard this one today and really enjoyed it:

 What fires your Christmas spirit the most?
This post is part of the Think Write Thursday blog hop hosted by Carole and Kat. If you'd like to join us, sign up here.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Right Now

I was going to post about our California trip today, but after being out of town the last few days I haven't got time. Too busy playing catch up.

I popped over to the Carole Knits blog (not that I knit) and saw she'd posted something really quick for today. Sounded good to me, so I'm hopping on the band-wagon!

This is what I'm doing right now:

Drinking: Coffee from the "Hope" mug one of my best friends bought me a couple of years ago. It's part of this series, but I don't see this specific mug there now.

Reading: Time to Thrive (Chicken Soup for the Soul). I still have one book left to read (X) in the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge.

Watching: Last Man Standing, season one. It's hysterical. Tim Allen at his finest.

Listening: Sirius XM, one of the Christian stations.

Knitting: Nothing. Unfortunately, I'm not handicraft-gifted.

Planting: Nothing. The ground is too hard. But I did bring home a poinsettia from my mom's place yesterday.

Buying: Christmas presents. I’m almost there and that feels great.

Dropping: A little weight. I still feel like an inflated beach ball, but according to the scale this morning I'm down almost two pounds. Must keep going.

Wrapping: nothing at all yet. 

Anticipating: getting the house cleaned up before Christmas. More immediately, my book club Christian luncheon this Friday. May it become an annual tradition.

Baking: Nothing right now. But I plan to bake a few things before Christmas hits. Hoping my daughter will help once her exams end (Friday).

I’d love to hear what’s going on in your world right now. Do tell!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Advent: Joy

Though even the dictionary confuses joy with happiness, calling the former "a state of happiness or felicity", when Christians talk about joy we mean something much deeper. You see, happiness relies more on feelings and our level of happiness can go up and down like a carousel horse depending on our circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, comes from our relationship with God and exists regardless of what's going on in our lives.

A friend recently pointed out that we often think of joy as a positive in our lives, but not necessarily as a strength. However, the Bible tells us in Nehemiah 8:10 that "the joy of the Lord is your strength." It is this joy, this strength, that helps us to press forward in difficult times when we might otherwise feel like giving up.

Christmas is a happy time for many people - there's the prospect of being together with family, the delight in giving and receiving gifts, the Christmas music and movies, the parties, the food. But there are those who do not look forward to the season. Perhaps they've lost a loved one this year or can't get together with family or friends, perhaps they've run into financial difficulty and can't afford much of a celebration. Even in sadness and loss, they can reach into a deep well of joy and know that God is still with them and will never leave them.

If you know someone who is going through hardship this Christmas, why don't you remind them of the joy they have? Remind them that Jesus is also called Emmanuel, "God with us", and be Jesus with skin on to them.

Have a joyful Christmas.