HLB Tea Swap Fall 2013

hlbtea HLB Tea Swap Fall 2013

I go through phases, sometimes months on end, really, when I become obsessed with drinking hot tea as often as possible. While espresso-based lattes will always have the number one spot on my personal beverage hit parade, they have too many calories for me to make them a daily part of my life, and yet I still crave the comfort of a (very large) steamy mug of something sweet and milky. Right now my current obsessions are hot tea with a couple of tablespoons of half & half plus sweetener, or if my blood sugar is exceptionally good and my activity level has been high all day, then I’ll go for hot tea with steamed milk and a splash of sugar-free vanilla or chocolate syrup. (Vanilla is good with most teas but for true decadence you just can’t beat hot mint tea with sugar-free chocolate.) It’s 130 calories for the 20 ounce hot tea latte at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and I treat myself at least once a week.

When I heard about the Healthy Living Blogs (HLB) Tea Swap, I signed up immediately. It’s simple and fun: you send two bags of tea to your assigned partner and you receive two bags of tea from someone else. This week I received my package (pictured below) from Emily at Relishments.

 HLB Tea Swap Fall 2013

Emily sent a bag of Tahitian Vanilla Hazelnut and one of (decaf) Lemon Ginger – don’t they both sound incredible? Can’t wait to try them before bed this weekend. Thank you so much, Emily, in case you’re reading this. (I’ll be sending a proper thank you separately, don’t you worry!)

In return, I’m putting the finishing touches on my package for my recipient (pictured below). I won’t say who she is, just in case she reads my blog – I don’t think she does, but better safe than sorry! – but I’ll share that I’m sending her two of my favorite teas from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Scottish Breakfast tea is a black tea that blends Darjeeling and Assam teas, and I love the almost milky consistency of it, even before I add my half & half. I drink Scottish Breakfast while sitting at my desk and eating breakfast each weekday. (Yes, I know I shouldn’t be eating at my desk but that’s what works for me right now.) Peppermint Stick is a limited-edition tea for the holidays and features a blend of Ceylon black tea with peppermint leaves and strawberries. Oh my gosh, just the aroma of this tea alone is worth the purchase price. (I’ll bet you could use it as a drawer sachet but I doubt I’ll have any left for that purpose by the time the holidays are over!)

 HLB Tea Swap Fall 2013

Almost ready to drop in the nearest post box!

I hope the recipient of the tea likes my choices as much as I do!

Do you have a favorite seasonal hot beverage? Anything you’ve made into a very occasional treat as part of a healthier lifestyle?

Something fun: #ShopWhatYouGot challenge

None of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. I have not been compensated by any of the brands or companies mentioned herein and I genuinely love each and every one of them.

I’ve been shopping up a storm lately. This is partly because my body is changing and clothes that fit me perfectly last month – hello Old Navy Skinny Rock Star jeans! – now fall off if I don’t wear a belt and partly because I’m like a kid in a candy store. It’s been so long since I could walk into any store at the mall and buy all of the pretty things from the window because they will all fit my body. Unless you’ve been there, you wouldn’t understand.

In any case, I’ve definitely gone overboard and it’s time to stop, appreciate what I have, and really figure out what more – if anything – I need, clothing-wise. To that end, I’ve decided to participate in the Shop What You Got challenge, created by iCurvy. The rules are fairly simple: pick 30 pieces from your closet and then mix and match only those pieces for your outfits for the month of November. Specifically, shoes, scarves, and belts are included in the 30 pieces but jewelry isn’t. Weather-specific clothing is also not included, nor are night clothes, gym wear, or undergarments of any sort.

20131009 150921 150x150 Something fun: #ShopWhatYouGot challenge

So, what did I choose for my 30 days?

Jean jacket
Brown pleather moto jacket
Grey flannel blazer

Brown bow belt (same style as pictured, but plain brown with faux croc texture)
Brown plain belt

Black & white spotted pumps
Gold wedges
Cocoa/tan ballet flats
Black ballet flats

White, short-sleeved, v-neck tee (no longer on Walmart website)
White, long-sleeved tee
Navy, 3/4-sleeved tee (same color and style as the link but with 3/4 sleeves)
Navy, long-sleeved tee
Heather grey tee
Bright pink tee
Chambray button-down shirt
Deniim snap-fasten shirt
White Oxford shirt
Grey/black tunic
Black & white striped tee (no longer on Chico’s website)

Maroon, puff-sleeved
Oatmeal, leather-trimmed

Red dress with leopard collar (like this one except mine has a leopard print collar)
Grey dress

Dark skinny jeans (with a belt)
Black ponte pants
Grey knit pants

Long striped
Navy stripe (short)
Black ponte flared

I’m declaring up front that I’ll be incorporating my Gwynnie Bee pieces when they come in, but I’ll pair them with items from the list of 30, including shoes, and I’ll add whatever number of days I wear Gwynnie pieces on to the end of this challenge. So, if I receive six Gwynnie outfits between now and November 30th then I’ll keep going with Shop What You Got until December 6. If you want to check out my daily outfits, I’ll be posting to my Instagram feed. You can also follow the hashtag #ShopWhatYouGot to see how the other participants are doing.

It’s only Day 3 and already I’m wondering how I’ll make these pieces work for every occasion, but I’m up for the challenge! What about you? If I challenged you to go to your closet right now and choose only 30 pieces of clothing to wear until December, what would you grab???

How I’m doing now

It’s been more than four days since the surgery that removed half of my teeth including all four in the front.

Before the surgery, I worried about the surgery itself, how I would eat afterwards, and the pain.

I don’t know if I’ve been lucky, if I haven’t noticed, or if the worst of it is still to come, but the pain hasn’t been anything at all. I’ve taken the good drugs right on schedule, as directed, and I haven’t noticed pain at all.

The surgery itself was as trouble-free as I’d been promised: I showed up, they put in an IV, and then I was having the oddest psychedelic trip while waking up from the surgery just before I had a mild bout of dry heaves as they got me into the wheelchair for the trip to my friend’s car. Seriously, it almost didn’t feel awful enough for the seriousness of what they did to me, if that makes any sense.

The eating part? Not so awesome, to be honest. I’m hungry. Really, really hungry. And I will be very happy if I never, ever see another nutritional shake product again. Same with applesauce. And plain Greek yogurt. I want a sandwich and chips and meat and a salad. Oooh, and I want coffee! (No caffeine for the first week.)

But none of these are the worst part of my new life. I feel like a freak and a monster. I have these plastic things where my teeth should be and they’re huge and awful. I can’t speak properly, I’m terrified that they’re going to come out and oh my God I do not want to see my mouth without teeth. There, that’s it, that’s the biggest most awful thing about this whole situation: I can’t even stand the thought of seeing my mouth without teeth. I want to keep these awful things in forever and ever so that I never have to see what I look like with all of my teeth gone. I was such a baby about it on Wednesday that the dentist left them in for the weekend so the swelling could go down enough to take them out without pain. But it’s not the pain that I’m worried about, it’s the horror of facing myself with no teeth.

Why does it bother me so much? It’s not like anyone else is going to see except the dental professionals, but that doesn’t matter to me – I don’t want to see. Me. I can’t bear the thought of seeing the Godawful mess that is my mouth with just a few poor little pegs sticking out. I feel sick just thinking about it. And yet I’ve got to deal with it. I’m really sick of dealing with things, you know. I was doing just fine not dealing with anything and eating my way through life. Why did I ever decide to try something different? This is where it’s gotten me – toothless and scared to death. How is this better than before?

Support Oklahoma’s recovery from this week’s storms

I have many updates to post here. Depression is such a beast because it zaps me of any desire to be creative – even makes me question whether I have ever been creative or have any potential to be creative in the future – so I allow myself to be paralyzed by insecurity and feelings of inadequacy. Isolation kills when it comes to depression and the best thing in the world to do is to shine a bright light into the dark places, but the illness fights hard to keep its hold on me. I’m coming back, slowly, so expect a real post in the next few days.

In the meantime, however, I have been horrified by what I’ve seen on TV and social media from Oklahoma this week. I cannot imagine how you begin to put your life, your family, and your community back together again after the total devastation these storms have wrought, but I know that they will need support from the entire country and even the world.

I became aware of a wonderful effort going on right now to provide financial support for those affected by these storms and I want to share it with all of you in hopes that some will be moved to contribute in whatever way you are able.

(My dear friend, Marla, is one of the generous artists who has contributed one of her amazing pieces to this campaign, and I could not be any prouder of her.)

Tragedies such as these always remind me of the blessings in my life – and they are MANY! – so I’m hoping that I will be paying far above the normal retail for the painting of Marla’s that I’ve got my eye on for TCB’s birthday. (Hope you’re not reading, Honey!) I cannot be there in person to help pick things up but I can be there in spirit and with financial support; we each do what we can.

Ten year blogiversary and I’m buying one of YOU a gift!

A few weeks ago when I was writing a different entry, I realized with a shock that the tenth anniversary of my blog was coming up. I can’t believe it’s been ten years already. I really had no idea when I found Blogger and wrote my very first post that I’d still be at it ten years on and I surely hadn’t a clue how it would change my life, either.

Screen Shot 2013 03 31 at 12.50.44 PM 300x136 Ten year blogiversary and Im buying one of YOU a gift!

My original home

Through writing here (well, here and there, if we’re being literal), I gained so much confidence and made friends from far-flung places like Australia, Scotland, Iceland, and North Carolina. While I still battle with depression and diabetes, through my writing I know that I’m not alone even if I’m the only one in the room at the time. My blog gave me a sense of pride when pride was something I could only vaguely remember from before I started gaining weight. I have traveled to several blog conferences, learned more about how to hone my writing, and have picked back up the photography hobby I had forgotten about since I was 12. And now my blog is serving as my accountability partner, an integral part of Project: Happy-Healthy Me, my one year quest to improve the quality of my life.

And it all started with a single blog post.

In honor of this auspicious occasion, I’m giving one lucky reader a Fitbit Zip activity tracker. If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know how much I love my Fitbit activity tracker and Aria scale – they are both indispensable tools as I transform my body and my life, so it seems to me only fitting that I celebrate ten years of blogging by giving one of my readers the chance to transform their body, too, and perhaps their life as well.

To enter, just use the giveaway widget below. The raffle will close at 12:00 am EDT next Friday, April 12, 2013. Good luck!

ETA: And the winner is…my sweet friend, Greta Funk. I’ve contacted Greta to find out which color Fitbit she’d like and where to send.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Finally, I want to thank you – whether you’ve been reading here for years or if this is your first visit – because it’s knowing that you’re here that brings me to my keyboard to put my thoughts out into the world. Without you, there would be no blog or at least the blog wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

Here’s to another ten or so years!

I get by with a little help from my (blog) friends

In the old days, when this blog was shiny and new (nearly 10 years ago now), there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no Instagram – there was email and there was your blog. I don’t remember who left the first comment on my blog but I remember vividly how my heart lurched with pride when I saw that comment in my email. I suppose there was a way to track your traffic back then – I think SiteMeter was up and running then – but I didn’t have anything like that, so the comment was the first way that I ever knew anyone had read my blog. I am smiling now, all these years later, just thinking of it.

I do, very distinctly, though, remember on whose site I left my very first comment – it was Lori’s original blog, Tales of a Bathroom Scale. She was pretty and funny and talented, and enough like me that I just knew we’d be best friends if we didn’t live cross the continent from each other. We were single, we both had cats, and we were losing weight and blogging about it. A lot. (I don’t know how or why I used to post as much as I did but I can’t imagine doing so now.) And then both of us met boys who made our hearts flutter and we married them. So we blog a lot less now but we’ve never lost touch.

We’d been corresponding recently via Twitter about the Old School Weight Loss blogging club we’re going to form – in our spare time, mind you! – and chatting about the various weight loss badges we would award to members as they met various random goals. This morning I woke to find this slice of Heaven in my email inbox:

no sweat badge 257x300 I get by with a little help from my (blog) friends

And that, simply put, friends, is why I love her so much: she’s just the sweetest, most talented, most clever girl on the Internet.

Yes, blogging has evolved light years from where it used to be but some truths are unchanging. We all write in solitude and hope that someone will come along and read what we’ve written. But sometimes, when we’re very, very lucky, we also find a true friend along the way.

Insert clever post title here

So much for keeping up with the regular blogging, eh? I’m chalking it up to the terrible sadness that accompanied the end of Blogger Road Trip 2012 and leaving Shauna behind. Sniffle, sniffle. I’ll be alright eventually but I still hate that I can’t just say something silly to hear her laugh as we’re getting ready to go out.

I want to write something clever and insightful but I don’t think I have it in me right now. Since my return to the real world I’ve been consumed with work and my volunteer obligations, neither of which makes me feel in the slightest bit clever or insightful. Still I’m fairly certain this funk (code word for depression) will pass and I’ve been composing a post in my head about my joining Weight Watchers – which I did last Saturday morning – and why I have been binge eating as a result. Perhaps over the weekend it will make it from my head to this page.

Fabulously good news is that Lori is back to blogging at her original site. After meeting her in person I am even more convinced than before that her great writing and amazing design sense are an unbeatable combination and should be enjoyed by everyone, so do go over and give her a read (if you haven’t already).

Blogger Road Trip 2012 and FitBloggin’

I have had the most amazing week and my head is swimming with the goodness of it all. I need to process some of the bigger stuff but I want to write something quickly to capture some of the magic for posterity.

  • Meeting Marla and Lori for the first time in real life was incredible. I love both of them so much and to be in the same room with them only reinforced that
  • Spending a day with Jennette was great. She’s so smart and so generous with her knowledge that you almost – but not quite – forget that she’s suffered with a headache for over four years. (Four years!) Thanks, Jennette, for the tour of Chapel Hill, and especially for showing us where John Edwards slunk off to after Elizabeth threw his cheating self out of the house
  • Chatting with Carla. She is an amazing mother and human being, and I am blessed to count her as a friend
  • Meeting Sheryl, Robin, Mara, Karen, Jess, and Cynthia was such a treat – they are all creative, warm, and wonderful writers, so give them a read today if you haven’t already done so
6060648814 89636e1e7d z Blogger Road Trip 2012 and FitBloggin

sisters by Henrike on Flickr

Words feel inadequate to describe what a week with Shauna was like. We laughed a lot, we drank a lot of coffee and some tea, too, we listened to 80s pop rock for hours, and we talked a lot about life and love and health. If I had a sister, I’d want her to be just like Shauna. I miss her already and know that a little piece of my heart will be in Scotland until we meet up again. (You know what’s sad, though? I don’t have a single picture of the two of us together. Seriously. If you are reading this and you have such a picture, would you send it along? Please and thank you.)

I’m off to the lab for my regularly scheduled blood work. Oh boy, I’m sure this will be good!

Meeting old friends for the first time

This blogging-every-day thing is not easily picked back up, friends – I’d much rather be drifting off to sleep in the super comfy canopy bed in our lovely room at the Front Street Inn, but it takes three weeks to make a new habit and I’ve only got seven days, so here goes.

Today was amazing! Why?

  1. Got to spend lots of quality time with Shauna.
  2. Met Marla and her husband. (She’s wonderful.)
  3. Met Lori and her husband. (She’s also wonderful and is the woman behind the wildly popular Tales of the Bathroom Scale.)

Marla made us a lovely home cooked breakfast before taking us on a tour of her warm, inviting home. We met her husband and her cat, and saw the office from which she blogs. It was a great start to the day.

After a brief 2-1/2 hour drive, we pulled up outside Lori’s adorable cottage-style home. Yes, it’s really as adorable as it looks in the pictures she posts! We said hello to the cats, saw some new kittens on the porch, and then went downtown for coffee and a fun chat. Later on we met Lori and her husband for dinner at the tasty Deluxe restaurant where the food and service were both excellent.

1497095 Meeting old friends for the first time

Deluxe restaurant in Wilmington, North Carolina

It has been a great first day of Blogger Road Trip 2012 and we still have loads more to see and do!

Is this all there is?

I’m not even going to apologize for not having written in what feels like forever, I’m just going to write about my life. If that’s not OK, you might want to surf along.

I’ll be honest with you: I’m fed up. I’ve thought and thought about what to do with this blog – I’ve even had my finger hovering over the “Delete” key more than a few times – and I was still ruminating on that topic when Shauna and I went to dinner tonight.

[Did I mention Shauna and I have just begun Blogger Road Trip 2012? Oh yes! The two of us are going to spend several days tootling around North Carolina visiting some of our favorite old school bloggers and seeing interesting sights.]

So I was chatting at dinner with Shauna and mentioned my blog dilemma for which she had the perfect solution: just write something. Really? Could it be that simple? Could blogging be something that I get back into the habit of doing and then it stops being such a chore?

7039721951 a50d0c0270 z Is this all there is?

I think we need to run a little experiment and what better time than while I’m away from home for a week and attending a blog conference Friday through Sunday to see what it’s like to write something here every day. So that’s what I’m going to do – every day this week I’ll come and write about what I’ve done, without trying to sound like someone else or write in a certain style, just me and my thoughts.