Thursday, February 23, 2012

You gotta try these chips! LATE JULY - my new favorite thing!

***Disclaimer:   I never heard of these until earlier today when I bought my own bag.  I don't have ANY sponsors for anything.  LOL   :-)

CHIPS!  Oh how we love them!   Potato chips, Doritos, Fritos, Tostitos, and the list goes on and on.  We  love the crunch and all the goodness that follows, right?  BUT WE HATE THE CALORIES AND FAT!
So I was in TJ Maxx in South Bend, Indiana, and I LOVE the food sections at TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods!  They always have such unusual delicacies on the shelf from all over the world.  There I saw these interesting chips sitting in a bag.  LATE JULY Mild Green Mojo Multigrain Snack Chips.  "Hmmm.  These look intresting", I thought as I read the bag.  Here is what I learned from just reading the bag:

1.  ORGANIC - like REAL organic - certified and everything - not just something written on the bag.
2.  GLUTEN-FREE:  Not an issue for me so much but I know it is for A LOT of people out there.
3.  16 WHOLE GRAINS per serving.
4.  100% WHOLE GRAIN
5.  OMEGA 3s
6.  NO Synthetic Pesticides or Chemical Fertilizers (My oncologists will be SO thrilled).
7.  NO Trans Fats or High Fructose Corn Syrup
8.  NO Artificial flavors, colors or Preservatives
9.  Peanut Free - If you are allergic, no worries here.

I decided to check the sugar level because as we all know if the flavor away in one area, they usually jack the sugar for taste.  NOPE!  Sugars is 1g!  ONE gram of sugar?

So I decided the only way these would fail would be taste.  They couldn't be THIS healthy and still taste awesome.  WRONG!  OMG - they are so good!  Like a a beautiful sunny day Good!  THAT good!
I bought two bags, one of Mild Green Mojo and Sea Salt Seashore.  I like a little kick to my chips so I LOVED LOVED LOVED the Mild Green Mojos.  Made with green chiles, cheese and a hint of lime.  No dip needed although could only imagine these coupled with guacamole.  YUM!

They also had Summertime Blues but I didn't grab those.  I am definitely going back to grab those tomorrow with any remaining bags of their chips.  At $1.99 a bag, it is a super price for all the wonderful goodness contained inside!

So then I Googled them because I always have to know as much about something as I can and it is a WHOLE WORLD of goodness!  They have COOKIES and other snacks!  Can we hear the angels sing?  All I did was stop in to find some gourmet maple syrup and a small bag of chips changed my life.  No more guilt - no more icky healthy chips - I seem to have found the answer to my prayers.

Perusing their website, I found that they are available at local food stores including Whole Foods.  I am going to slowly try all of their products and make notes of my favorites.  Mild Green Mojo may be my new addiction.  But it is a good thing.  I mean, how many addictive substances have a full day's serving of Omega 3s?  OH and did I mention that 10% of all proceeds send kids to summer camp?  I mean seriously - I get the best chips ever AND help to expose today's youth to campfire songs and smores.  I love America!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Are you the best version of yourself?


Quite the powerful question, isn't it?  I went to a lecture at Church and this was the question that the speaker, Matthew Kelly, posed to the audience.  As I sat there and pondered this question, the answer was a resounding "NO!"  How scary is that?  I didn't even have to think about it - it wasn't even debatable - I am no where near the best version of myself - what a sad state of ME I've become!

When I look in the mirror, I don't really LOOK anymore.  My face, hair, skin and body will forever show the effects of the chemo, radiation, and surgeries needed to survive breast and ovarian cancer.  When my hair grew back in, it was a totally new and yucky color and texture and the medications have taken their toll on my face and skin more than "fun in the sun" damage ever could have.  But alas, as my Mom would say, "it is what it is" so I suck it up.  

I don't really take the time I should to do my hair and make-up.  I don't dress as well as I used to and attention to detail is pretty much non-existent.  Mediocrity and "good enough" seem to suffice and that is so sad.  Because we all know when we put on our favorite jeans and our hair turns out just right, we feel we can take on the world!
Anxiety, fear, depression, sadness and grief have taken their toll and has robbed me of my once excessive energy,  never ending perkiness and abundant hope.  I know I can get it back but it is going to take a lot of courage, determination and dedication.  I have to CHOOSE to be a better version of me and it is hard to believe that I CHOSE to be who I have become.  A very harsh realization!

Here are a few of the ideas that Matthew Kelly presents in The Rhythm of Life...
"You were born to become the-best-version-of-yourself. This is your essential purpose. Embrace this one solitary truth and it will change your life more than anything you have ever learned. In every situation, ask yourself, Which of the options before me will help me become the-best-version-of-myself?"
"Everything is a choice. This is life's greatest truth and its hardest lesson. It is a great truth because it reminds us of our power. Not power over others, but the power to be ourselves and to live the life we have imagined. It is a hard lesson because it causes us to realize that we have chosen the life we are living right now."  
(WOW - seriously eye-opening!)
"The measure of your life will be the measure of your courage. Courage animates us, brings us to life, and makes everything else possible. Fear stops more people from doing something with their lives than lack of ability, contacts, resources, or any other single variable. Fear paralyzes the human spirit. Life takes courage."  (I can SO attest to this!)
"Energy is our most valuable resource, not time. The rhythm of life is a way of life that brings our legitimate needs, our deepest desires, and our unique talents into harmony with each other. The result: passion, purpose, and energy."
Kelly has a way of thinking and writing that cuts through the stifling clutter of our everyday lives and delivers a clarity that is both refreshing and liberating.  


UNLESS WE TALKING ABOUT A PIECE OF FURNITURE!  I read the blog BETTER/AFTER every day and am constantly amazed by the incredible transformations and I have even been featured a few times myself!  I will look at a piece of furniture and shudder at the ugliness of it and will painstakingly devote days to making it pretty.  And yet I won't do that for myself, WHY?  Am I not more worthy than a beat up chair?    WAKE UP CALL! 

My heels are cracking, my nails are chipping and the other day I even went out with a SCRUNCHIE in my hair!  Can you believe it?  A SCRUNCHIE!  And it was made of seersucker watermelon fabric.   SERIOUSLY?  That's the point I knew I'd hit rock bottom!  LMAO!

Today is Wednesday and one week from today will be Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  40 days of fasting, almsgiving, and reflection.  As a Catholic, Lent was always such a sacred time of year and I am using these 40 days to rededicate my time and energy to ME and my LIFE!

I was so happy doing the C25K (Couch to a 5K) 9 week program but then dummy me had a Yankee candle jar on the stairs and of course I tripped and fell onto it and ripped open my knee.  Then it was November and my running shoes started collecting dust.  I am going to start the C25k and I am going to finish it this time!  

When I am cozy on the couch with Pinterest or Facebook, I have fleeting thoughts of  "I could go for a run.  But its so cold outside.  Maybe tomorrow."  R U KIDDING ME?  You live in Chicago - of course it is cold outside - its freakin' JANUARY!    SERIOUSLY TRACY - WHEN DID YOU BECOME SUCH A WEENIE!  You have tons of North Face tights, Patagonia turtlenecks and WAY TOO MANY WICKING THINGS!  Put them on and get outside!  You know once you get outside and breathe in that crisp, cold air you will be invigorated.  The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step to LOG OFF and stop crying that your thighs have tripled in size since Christmas!  :-)

Last fall, I made it to week 7 and now I have to start all over again at week 1.  But it is ok because I love it and I look forward to losing the weight and feeling strong again.  Maybe I will be ready for a Mother's Day 5k in honor of my Mom.  Something to consider.  

Life has had some really rough spots for me... I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 31, then my Dad died, my brother committed suicide, I was in three car accidents none of which were my fault, my Mom was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and I was her caregiver for almost two years.  Then,  just over a year later I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer which caused me to lose normal use of my left arm (and of course I am left-handed), my 90 mph tennis serve and my ability to ever have children.... all before my 40th birthday!  Then I lost my job of over 13 years and coming out of my cancer check-up they had smashed my car windows and ransacked my car. And we won't even go into my train wreck of a love life.   Good thing I am still here to complain about it all.  :-) 

I'm not whining - really I'm not -  but some days its hard.  I miss my parents and brother.  I miss my pre-cancer life.  I miss those delightful days with absolutely no worries or anxiety.  I miss my breast.  I miss my old HAIR!  LOL!  These are things I cannot change - I simply have to accept them.  But I know life doesn't have to perfect to be wonderful and I still spend a good part of my day laughing - be it at myself, my DIY catastrophes or reruns of Big Bang Theory.   

My life needs to change in order to find true happiness again and but I know it can be done.  
I am going to work on my skin, my body, my health, my sleep habits, my clutter, my house, my money, my attitude, my diet, my computer time,  my BLOG and MY LIFE!  So let the makeovers begin!  

But I have a few more days to be be lazy and unmotivated.  I think I will go and get a Shamrock Shake and spend a few hours on Pinterest.  It is probably not a good sign that I can't wait for FAT TUESDAY, right?    LOL!  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Design inspiration from Walt Disney World decor....

Hello!  I cannot believe I have not posted in almost a month - what was I thinking?  Lots of stuff going on and sometimes life just gets in the way.  We ran down to WDW for a quick get away and even though it has become my second home, it is about so much more than Mickey Mouse and Monorails for me.

Whether in the parks, the restaurants, shops or resorts, I find myself looking left and right, up and down checking out all of the amazing attention to detail that captures the spirit and magic that is Disney.  Most people take pictures of Cinderella's Castle and The EPCOT ball, I find myself taking pictures of molding, ceilings, etc.  LOL!

There are 24 Disney resorts on property and I have stayed in 17 of them.  Every resort has its own feel and its own themed decor.  I have always loved the All Star Sports resort because it has a giant court and a tennis themed hotel building.  How adorable is this?

WDW has really accentuated each resort with amazing design, fabrics and architecture.  My favorite resorts for design inspiration are the Yacht and Beach Clubs.  The Yacht Club is adorned with nautical touches and red white and blue fabrics and colors.  The Beach Club is awash in beach pastels and a very calming and beautiful color palette.

Here is the outside of the Yacht Club - don't you just love the architecture?  Just gorgeous!

And the lobby is such a wonderful place to just sit, relax and people watch.   Disney has such amazing fabrics and a lot of them are made just for them as they usually add a Disney touch of a hidden Mickey or character in them.  Sometimes the bolts of remnant fabric are available on Ebay from Disney sellers.

The Beach Club is equally gorgeous and even though they are next to one another and share an amazing pool and restaurants, they each have their own distinction.  Here is the Beach Club:

I absolutely LOVE this rug!  (Source: Flickr)
And what do you think of this wall?  Can you just imagine decorating this for all the seasons and holidays?  Sweet!

And here are a few interesting design touches from the room at the Beach Club villas...

I love these painted cabinets and the plate rack!  And I am loving these sconces mounted on the framed out bathroom mirror!

And this is an interesting alternative to crown molding - do a second color around the top of the room separated by chair rail.

I LOVE this Mickey Mouse sand dollar nautical rug!  So cute!

I think the natural wood door looks very pretty against the aqua and white color scheme.  I also LOVE the spa blue wainscoting in the hallway.  I probably would have chosen white for the door which just goes to show me I need to keep an open mind to other alternatives.  :-)

One of my favorite things about Walt Disney World no matter what time of the year I visit is the FLOWERS!  Just gorgeous colors and gardens!  Here is just a sample of flowers in January!

I love these daisy topiaries and the beach scene in the apothecary jars.  So pretty for SPRING!

Very pretty SPRING hydrangea table top floral design.