daily rituals – morning and evening

I’ve talked about my morning routine, but I’ve not broken it down before in notes about how exactly it goes. Generic ideas are one thing, but actually jotting notes about what I’m doing in the morning actually is interesting to me.

If you’ve not seen morning and evening routines on YouTube or in blogs, I don’t know why, but just like grocery hauls, I’m just very nosy I guess.

If you’d like to change things, it’s best to start with what you do now, and note where you’ll make the changes. In my case, I’m always looking for healthy and happy ways to improve my time spent.

Morning

  • ​​Rise and wash face, follow morning skin care routine.
  • Let Sherlock out to join me in the kitchen
  • Let Sherlock have some berries or nuts by the window
  • Prep Sherlock’s food and water for the day: pellets, some fruit, veg, a couple of nuts, tiny bit of seed
  • Create some coffee, a mix of cold brew with some almond milk
  • If writing, sitting to write while Sherlock has breakfast. If not, enjoying coffee while browsing internet or working on some personal things (like this site!)Try not to bother my ♥ until around noon time so we both get some things done (failing often!)

Evening

  • Stop work at early afternoon
  • Set up work areas for the next day to make starting easier
  • Indulge with my ♥ until he can’t keep up any more
  • Miss him
  • Hang out with Sherlock
  • Try to get five miles in on a bike or do some other form of exercise
  • Put Sherlock to bed by nine, with B’s help (Sherlock loves this time, B’s his favorite, probably more than me.)
  • Me time: vitamins, brush teeth, night skin care, slip into bed with the Kindle, some music, before bed

​Those are from my personal lists and these will change as life changes. I find it satisfying to analyze what I’m doing, cutting out the things that aren’t important. But what’s important isn’t email. It’s not making sure Facebook didn’t explode over night. It’s people, pets and just getting myself together until I’m ready for the day.

my personal reason for sticking with WW

Whether you’re counting calories or carbs or points, everyone does it differently.

And in a lot of cases, it’s refining what works and what doesn’t per person. Even identical twins on WW can eat very similar foods, exercise the same, and their weight might fluctuate from week to week.

For me, I’ve counted calories in the past with success, however it was constantly this game of how low can I go. With adding in exercise, it was worse because I was doing the bare minimum for my body (because 1200 actually isn’t enough, the one number fits all concept is a complete bs ‘standard’ that doesn’t work for everyone) and what I was consuming wasn’t enough for doing more exercise.

I had followed a 1200 calorie is goal for food sort of lifestyle for several years. I actually dropped down to 800 calories a day for a long time. This was a big mistake as after I got to a certain weight (by starvation), when I started eating normally again, the weight was back.

And I wasn’t eating differently. I was still monitoring my calories and eating 1300 most days. I kept lowering my calories in different ways, changing my food, adding in more exercise, exercising three times a day, etc.

It was too much to maintain, and also not working.

So I had to figure out what worked for me in a different way. I had gotten back into 1200 calories to lose the weight again and was considering 800 a day on some days (intermittent fasting) on certain days ‘just to get to my good weight’ and then I’d ‘fix myself later’.

But the truth was when you do that bare minimum, you lose energy, you break your metabolism, you’re always hungry, exercise is much harder and the weight is actually harder to keep off once you’ve reached goals. It’s simply not maintainable for most people.

People need to forget 1200 as a calorie number. This might be okay for “Sara” who is 5′ and very lean and doesn’t really exercise or actually move throughout the day. But you might not be “Sara”. And I can say that if you’re eating just 1200, unless you’re eating nothing but spinach and beef, you’re not getting enough iron without supplements. You’re not getting essential vitamins and nutrients you actually need for your body. If you use something like My Fitness Pal and try to hit all your marcos (iron, vitamins, potassium) without supplements, you’ll probably find it near impossible on 1200 calories. (Someone will probably come with some form of ‘this could work’ eating beats and beef liver at 1200 calories but….listen, we’re not eating that every day and it is not just about macros. Put your micro-nutrient and calorie calculator down.)

I don’t want to go into too many details but WW, I feel, has saved me personally from that continual not good for me mindset.

How WW has changed things for me:

  1. I no longer am afraid to eat because I’m hungry and “I’m out of calories.” If you know this feeling, you’ve hit 1200 calories for the day and you can’t eat any more and you’re looking at even an apple…an APPLE… and can’t eat it because it’s “over your calories”. Stop doing this to yourself.
  2. I can promise I eat a more now than I was before and still losing weight, at a healthier pace than before as well.
  3. I have more energy for the exercise I choose to do, because my body is now being able to get fuel it needs.
  4. The support from other WW members, even on YouTube (and I hear have great members on Instagram and Facebook and WW’s own Connect) is very kind and not pushy and helpful. I found most other spaces to be a bit critical if you’re not doing exactly as this one person does who lost and maintained forever. Even WW members differ in how they approach it and still manage to find success.
  5. While my weight loss has been slower compared to what I did to myself in the past, the process of getting to where I want to be has been actually enjoyable and I know I’m feeling like this is the right way. My body has fuel. If I had done this instead of what I’d done before, I probably would have been better at keeping weight off and maintaining.

Not that anyone reading this has to try WW and I’m sure other people have found success doing 1200 calories or low carb or something else. This is simply what has worked for me and my thoughts on knowing for my own body, what I was doing before wasn’t working, wasn’t maintainable for forever. I’m basically happy with what I’m doing now and ready for keeping with it for the rest of my life. And I can do it because I can still enjoy life, food, activities, etc., and still loose or maintain the weight I want to be at.

save at walt disney world before you go

Going to Walt Disney World in Florida, even as a local resident who carries an annual pass, isn’t cheap. Prices have gone up significantly in the last couple of years for the travel and tourism sectors in general. The Disney corporation has followed this with price hikes and adding fees like to parking at resorts overnight.

Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

However, there are still a few ways to save money at Disney World before you even step into the park. This is my method of getting some discounts, and knowing when I enter the park, I’m saving what I can.

I wanted to show an example of the types of savings you could expect if you are willing to put in just a few extra steps. The numbers below have been based off of certain numbers pulled from the Walt Disney World website and obviously will vary per person, but I promise the steps below will deliver significant similar savings.

As an example, let’s say we’re going to be buying:

  • One annual pass to Disney World. ($994 as of 2019 and for non Florida residents) (Find out below why you’d want to do this.)
  • Three tickets to Disney World, general admission, for four days. Estimated $1560.
  • Estimated table service meal for 4 people, at $30 per person per day in the park. $480.
  • Estimated counter service for one meal plus two snacks per person per day. (About $15 per person for the counter service meal ($240), estimating snacks at around $5 per person. $160) Estimated $400
  • And just to round off, say $500 for souvenirs for the whole family.

(I’m not including hotel stays for simplicity, but you can use this method to save on Disney-owned hotels, increasing your savings there.)

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Using the total above, which is about $3934. I’m going to round up to $3950 for math going forward, just to keep it simple. Again, these numbers will vary if you’ve added in hotel or if you have a different size family, or the prices of tickets can go up or down depending on a lot of factors. It may not change the strategy below. And for simplicity, this doesn’t include getting the dining plan (a Disney offered savings plan on your meals if you book for certain times of the year) and it doesn’t include other discount program options. This is just working from base prices. But we’ll talk about that after the steps below.

  1. Sign up for Ebates.

    If you’re looking for strategies to save money, you’re probably already signed up for a program like Ebates. If you’re not already, it’s a great way to get money back (usually much higher than you’d get with an average rewards credit card) on the following steps.

    Before you buy anything, just go to Ebates and click through to the following stores.

    Depending on the day, you can get 1%, 5%, sometimes I’ve seen things as high as 10% cash back for purchases depending on where you purchase an item. This can include Disney gift cards, which is our focus here.

  2. Buy Disney gift cards at Target with a Red Card.

    This is where a significant portion of savings can happen for you. If you don’t have a local Target, you should still be able to sign up for a Red Card online and shop at their online store. You don’t need the credit card, Target has a debit card option you can load and you get the same savings as your Target card.

    What happens is, if you go to Ebates, click through on the Target to get 1% cash back or more through the Ebates website. On top of that, Target offers 5% off purchases through their store using your Red Card. This usually includes the gift cards. So you could get 5% off gift cards, plus 1% cash back, you’ve already saved $237 if you use those gift cards to purchase the tickets, food and souvenirs like in the example above.

  3. Check for significant other discounts through other stores, like Amazon or Walmart if they are better than the Ebates/Target option.

    Usually the Ebates/Target option is the best one for me personally, but I’ve seen good discounts and cash back options for Amazon. For example, my Discover card actually offers some high cash back rewards for purchases through Amazon at certain months of the year. Ebates still offers some cash back options at Amazon, and those can be higher at the same time and Disney gift cards can be purchased from there, too.

  4. Using your gift cards, buy your tickets, including one person in your group to get an annual pass.

    Depending on your group and how many days you are actually staying at Disney, you might consider everyone should get an annual pass. An annual pass is a flat fee you pay per year and you get to enter Disney World as many times as you’d like. For some people, if you enter the park more than seven or eight days while on your stay, you might as well get the annual pass. You might save money compared to just buying park tickets, even if you only go that once a year.

    However, even if you aren’t going for that long, one person getting the annual pass might be worthwhile for different things.

    For example, Disney has a parking fee at their parks, but annual passholders often get free parking. Passholders also get discounts for certain restaurants and counter service meals, plus your souvenirs on Disney property. Food is often one of the biggest expenses, especially for larger families.

    Only one person in your party needs to have the annual pass in order to get the savings. Doing this on top of the gift cards will help save another 10% to 25% depending on where you are and what the discount is. But you have to ask when you check out or when you pay for your meal, just show them your annual pass card.

    So on top of the 6% or so you’ve saved on the tickets already (that savings could possibly paid the difference for the annual pass), you’d also save, let’s even it out and say 15% on top of your food and souvenirs. That’s another $207 saved using the numbers above. If we add in parking for four days (usually about $20 a day) that’s an extra $80 off on top of it.

    Plus, depending on the time of year, annual passholders can get free merchandise, or access to merchandise you wouldn’t normally have access to as a regular ticket holder. For example, Epcot, usually at every special event like the Food and Wine festivals, they’ll usually have a free gift for annual passholders. Sometimes at random at different parks, you’ll get something like a magnet or a button.


  5. Splurge for the unique at Disney World.

    Disney can be a place where we’re paying extra for some things we’d get cheaper somewhere else. In my opinion, I save my splurging for the food or souvenirs I simply can’t get anywhere else.

    For example, at breakfast, unless it’s a character dining meal like at Chef Mickey’s, eggs and bacon are the same everywhere else. Even on Disney property, sometimes counter service meals will be cheaper to buy breakfast items at than the table service places. You could even go off property or have your own cereal and such before you get into the parks, Amazon and other grocery services will deliver to your hotel.

    If you wanted to save some money and have a better experience, try seeing if you can’t get more for your money at a quick service place for meals that might not be too memorable. Spend the money on unique food spots or experiences, like if you happen to have reservations for character dining or something very nice like some of the very wonderful restaurants around Epcot.

    Similarly, some snack options can tempt you and you’d pay more at Disney World than anywhere else. The ice cream bars…they’re just the same as you’d get at home, just Mickey shaped. If it’s a must do for you, do it, but if you’re wondering what the hype is, it’s not that different from anything else. The other ice creams at Disney World are just as good, if not better, and you’d probably get more for your money.



  6. Skip the park hopper passes.

    The rumor that some parks are a half day experience, it really isn’t very true any more. Disney World has built up a lot in the past few years, and they are continuing to grow. Not only that but the crowd sizes have increased. It can take a little longer to get through a park, even if you have fast passes for all the major rides.

    So the park hopper passes could be something to give up, which could save so much money when you’re not going from park to park. If you plan your days carefully, you can get into the parks for a significant amount of time each day and have at least 12 hours or more (from rope drop to fire works), and that’s a lot of hours. You can still re-enter a park if you leave for the day on normal passes, it just has to be the same park. Or if you do finish a park midway through the day and are not sure what to do, take that second part of the day and just check out the resorts. You can go to any of the resorts, even if you aren’t staying at the resort, and check out what’s going on, maybe participate in a few of the activities, etc.

    For some people, they need park hopper passes, and that’s fine. But if you’re not sure, if it’s your first time, just let yourself slow down, enjoy the parks. Don’t try to rush through it because you want to maximize your time and do half days at a park.

  7. Don’t forget to sign up for benefits or rewards for restaurants you plan to visit.

    If you’re a Starbucks fan, you can earn points while you’re in the parks (although as of this post, I don’t think you can collect free items, but you can still get the points).

    Also, other restaurants around Disney World, particularly Disney Springs, also have reward programs with benefits, either by signing up for the newsletter or for downloading the app. Sprinkles, a cupcake shop in Disney Springs, has a rewards program and usually will have unique rewards and savings right when you sign up. So don’t forget to include those if there’s a particular place you’d like to try out.

    You can combine this with the suggestions above. An example below, the Rainforest Cafe, which has restaurants at Disney Springs, Animal Kingdom and other places around the world, they’ve a discount program when you sign up at their website, plus you can use Ebates to pay ahead and purchase a gift card for Rainforest Cafe before you go.

There are many more ways to save at Disney World, including going at ideal times of the year when ticket prices, and room prices tend to be lower (early November, February, May, etc.). You can save some money skipping the parks for a day and doing resort hoping or checking out Disney Springs instead of spending the money on tickets for the day. A water park day is usually cheaper per ticket price and the water parks are very nice.

If nothing else, don’t skip out on those gift cards you can get at discount when possible, and cash back for buying them. You can book anything at Disney World with those gift cards, including hotels! Plus with Ebates, you’d save on your flight as well, getting cash back for your trip.

simple and healthy grab and go breakfast

You might call it a breakfast station. I don’t have a designated area in my small kitchen to create one. Instead, I’ve a section of shelf and one of the drawers in my fridge for this. This works for me as some items I like to eat for breakfast, are actually cold, like small bits of cheese, or cold brew coffee.

It’s the same system no matter where you put it. When decluttering and organizing for most projects, we usually want to stick likes with likes. I’ve started to do this more in my kitchen, so that includes breakfast.

And this doesn’t have to be just for breakfast either. Maybe you’ve developed a new morning routine and can slow down so you make yourself breakfast. However, around noon, you’re hungry and you’re in the middle of stuff, so you need quick lunch options.

Whatever the situation, it works. All you need are some products you can keep in stock, switch out on occasion for variety.

Need to know how to get started making your own simple breakfast station?

  1. Research and collect ideas.

    I’ve a collection of breakfast combination ideas of different items, but I personally like to start with when I’m at the supermarket or at Starbucks, what I pick up to enjoy there. A simple protein box at Starbucks has very simple items in it. They’re easy to prep and store in the fridge for a quick grab and go. Check the Starbucks box menu options for some really simple ideas.

  2. Choose how you’ll grab and go.

    Some people need to pick up one or two things and leave the house on the way to work. If this is you, a bento and a night-before-prepared cup of cold brew coffee might be for you. If you have a bit of time, you can set up what is sort of like a ‘buffet style’ situation. A collection of items that sit together, a bin a mix of items to choose from, etc.

  3. For low calorie ideas, create a pick three system.

    This is what I’ve been doing. My fridge and a shelf contain a variety of items (like the picture displayed). Each item hovers very close to 100 calories or less. I can pick three of any sort and my breakfast is never more than 300 calories. This leaves me the ability to pick and choose my breakfast, giving me the feeling of options, without worrying about exactly how many calories I’m consuming. I already know I won’t be over my calorie budget.

  4. See where you can order in bulk to keep supplies up.

    I personally used sites like Boxed and of course occasionally Amazon to purchase some items where I can. I don’t have a local Sam’s Club or anything similar, so I have to buy online. Boxed is my personal favorite to stock up on items, and if you use my link here, you’d get $15 toward your first purchase. I get items like GoGo squeeZ Applesauce pouches, or BOOMCHICKAPOP Sea Salt Popcorn in bulk so I’ve got them ready to go.

  5. Consider cold brew coffee instead of K Cups or brewing every morning.

    My process for coffee is very simple. I’ve a cold coffee brewer (posted below) that I just put in whatever coffee I prefer. I use filtered water, let it set over night. In the morning, I pour out half a cup with some vanilla almond milk. You might prefer to pre-make it the night before. Stop waiting for coffee. Just pour some or grab and go. But I tend to like cold brew over hot drinks so that’s just my personal preference.

  6. Pre cut, pre measure.

    I found that if I pre measured a little peanut butter in a cup, that I’m more likely to slice up an apple in the morning and take it with me. People call it meal prep. I don’t like doing it every week though. So I prefer to have things that I can make (like peanut butter in little cups) for weeks ahead of time and then stack easily.

  7. Put it all together.

    For me, it didn’t have to be in one single place, but I have a shelf (like pictured) and then in the fridge, one of the bins are set aside. So essentially it’s two spots I can pull what I want from. When I’m blurry eyed in the morning, I don’t have to pick up that breakfast burrito from a fast food place. I’ve got it here.

A couple of breakfast grab and go combinations:

how to design personal policies

Personal policies are simply standards that we can set ourselves to. This is getting very specific and writing out exactly how you would handle situations that personally matter to you.

Examples of some personal polices are:

  • I don’t eat after 5 pm.
  • I don’t leave my phone near my bed while I sleep.
  • Fridays are personal “me time” days only.
  • I drink only water.

Whatever your polices are, it’s good to get them down on paper and when someone say invites you to dinner at 7 pm, you can say honestly “sorry, I’ve a personal policy to not eat after 5, how about we meet at 4:30?”

Some more examples:

  • If I’m frustrated, I’ll write out my feelings via pen and paper or in my note taking app of choice before I say anything to anyone else, even in comments on the Internet.
  • I stay logged out of social media during work hours and family time. I physically have to sign in each time, making sure I never sign in unless I choose to be there with intention.
  • I never leave internet comments unless I have something helpful or kind to say.
  • Family time happens every Monday, without phones. It’s priority one and outside of ill health or house fire, I never miss it.
  • Vacation time, me time, are not work times. Work belongs in work time. Me time and fun times are taken up with my things to do.
  • I follow a Cajun-style work week. I work hard Monday through Thursday to keep Friday – Saturday clear for what I want to do.

If you’d like more ideas, follow my Pinterest board all about personal polices. You might also like my gratitude journal prompts.

following a bob ross tutorial using your phone

This was something I thought I couldn’t do unless I had paint and canvas.

However, last night I was thinking…why can’t I just paint with Photoshop? And after trying to get my laptop sorted a bit, I switched and just used my phone instead.

The truth is, you can literally paint anywhere and with technology, you can paint with your phone, a tablet, anything.

Time needed: 30 minutes.

Following a Bob Ross tutorial with your phone or a tablet.

  1. Download a good painting app.

    For the scene depicted here, I used Sketch by Sony Mobile. I’m sure I could have used Photoshop for mobile or something else. Sketch was free, I just happened to see it first, and it had the option to blend and other features that worked really well for what I was doing.

  2. Find a Bob Ross tutorial you enjoy.

    The image here was from Season 20, Episode 6, called Cliffside. All of Bob Ross’s videos appear to be on YouTube.

  3. Take your time, and have fun.

    It took me a bit of time to match colors, given he tells you to use ‘canary yellow’ or whatever the paint colors are. Just pause, do your best to match the color. If you’re using Sketch, I used the Airbrush tool, usually set to 80% to 30% opacity, and adjusted the size that made sense for what I was doing. Small for when he uses like the fan brush to do fine details, etc. When he’s blending, and for most of the time, it has a blender tool as well, which you can adjust the size, and the strength. It works amazingly well for this.

Additional tips: If your phone comes with a stylus pen, I highly recommend it. With all the blending, my finger was rather sore after. Most phones will let you use a stylus, even if your phone didn’t come with one. Amazon sells sets, some in varying colors, for $6 or so.

Want more ideas? Check out my latest posts: