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Sunday, January 3, 2016


Happy New Year dear friends!   How's the resolutions coming?   Brrrr!  We finally are getting our winter.   The old thermometer hasn't crept over the twenty degree mark for a couple of days   but the sky is a beautiful pale blue sash above the snow.  Putting up with the cold is a small price to pay for such beauty!  Besides, we are toasty inside thanks to the wood stove.   And a pot of beans simmering on the top is pretty much as close to bliss as a person can get here on earth.  Life is good!


The clean slate of a new year is the perfect time to set new goals.   This year besides the usual of losing weight and saving more money, the one main goal for myself is to set aside some time each day to be creative.  I thrive on creativity and if I don't have a project going, I feel antsy.  Some would say after looking at some of my attire, that I am "too" creative.  Ha!  I believe that every day is dress-up day.  Guess I never got over the fun of playing dress-up from childhood, so one day you may see me dressed as a Jane Austen heroine with my hair done up and wearing a cameo, other times I'm Annie Oakley, and yet other times I don a fur hat and pretend I'm Zhivago's Lara.  Life is short have fun with it!   Here's a picture of the penny rug I made during the  first week of my creative year:
I call it Winter Skies.

Anyway, back to setting goals, you know the old adage that those that fail to plan, plan to fail?   Well, a truer statement has never been said.  If you just "wing it" you probably won't have much success.


Some might laugh at me giving dieting advice, Audrey Hepburn I'm not. Having hypothyroidism, I have the metabolism of a sloth.  I must keep my calorie count between 1200 to 1500 and walk at least three miles a day just to maintain my weight, which many would say is a diet, so in a way, I guess I do know a thing or two about dieting.  Really all one needs to do to lose weight is to keep their calories between that range (unless you are me, I need to keep my to around 900 to lose weight) and exercise.   Now days the nutrition information is printed on everything, so it's not hard to keep track.  Plus you can find the numbers on the internet.  For homemade meals, you just add up all the calories in the ingredients and then divide it by the number of servings.  All you really need is a little notebook to diet.  Just write everything down that you eat and keep track of the calories.   When you reach your calorie intake for the day, stop eating.  Really it's that simple  Technically, you could eat three candy bars a day, if that is all that you ate, and still lose weight, but you wouldn't feel very well and would soon be sick.  So here's some tips that I've discovered over the years:

1.  Keep a notebook of everything you eat and be truthful.  Even that taste out of the pot counts. Plus the very fact that I must write it down, keeps me from putting things in my mouth.
2.  Go for the bang for the buck.   For instance bread isn't all that nutritious and it really doesn't add much to the flavor, so why use it?  You can eat a sandwich or a hamburger in a lettuce wrap or just the meat on the side.  I never eat the rice when having Chinese food.  Rice doesn't do a thing for me. Don't waste your calories on things that aren't either nutritious or delicious. This reminds me of way back when, my boys loved Pop Tarts and I toast up one  myself from time to time, then one day I noticed the calorie information on the side of the box.  Around 400 calories!   They certainly didn't give me 400 calories of satisfaction.   Never touched them from that day forward. Pop (or soda) is another thing.  At almost 300 calories a glass, it just isn't worth it to me.
3.  Delay.   If there's something I'm really craving but is loaded with calories, I delay eating it for a while.  Sometimes I forget all about it.
4.  Take a little taste.  If you just have to have a slice of that cake or whatever it is that is driving you crazy, take just a small bite.  Just enough to satisfy your taste buds.   You don't have to eat an entire cake slice or an entire candy bar.  Just take a taste.
5.  Don't eat after six PM. It's OK to go to bed with a growling stomach.  Just imagine it's a little animal inside you eating up all your fat cells.
6.  Take up a hobby.  I love potato chips, something about the crunch and salt just drives me crazy.  I won't even bring them into the house because I know if I eat one, I'm going to eat half the bag. So I sew or knit, etc. and other things that require me to have clean grease-free hands.  Can't do them and eat chips at the same time.
7.  Eat at the table.   Set a proper table to have your meals.  It slows you down and you become mindful of what you are eating.  I know that when I'm eating on the run, the food just gets scarfed down and I never feel full or satisfied.
8. Chart your progress.  I make a graph of my weight loss.  It's very satisfying to see the downward movement.
 9.  Take your measurements.  I hit a plateau that lasted for two years, that no matter what I tried to do I couldn't lose even a pound.  I even tried not eating at all but nothing happened.  You know those people that say they had the flu for a week and lost twenty pounds?  Yeah, that's not me.  But the one thing that kept me from chucking the whole diet thing was that I could see by looking at my measurements (and baggy clothes) that I was getting smaller, regardless of what the scale said.
10.  Find exercise that is fun.  If it isn't fun, you'll find yourself making excuses for not doing it.  So find something you enjoy,  it doesn't have to be something traditional.  Maybe you like hula dancing or climbing trees.  Just start moving.
 11.  Drink lot of pure fresh water.   Sometimes our bodies are telling us that we're hungry when in truth we are just thirsty.  Plus water fills you up.  Have a big glassful before eating.
12.  Learn what true hunger feels like.   You might have to go without food  for a couple of days to discover this.  It's not the stomach growling hunger, but you'll actually feel a pain in your stomach when you are truly hungry.  If we would only eat when we are truly hungry, we wouldn't have any weight problems.
13.  Learn what triggers your eating.   Many of us our emotional eaters.  I know that when I am anxious, I start to look for something to stuff in my mouth.  For others it may be boredom or sadness.  Figure out what makes you tick and you'll save a lot of calories.
14.  And finally, stop the self-defeating attitude.  I know that weight loss for myself is near impossible.  My doctor has even told me as much, but every day I get up and think that this is the day the scale is going to register a little less and I'm going to do something to make it possible.  I'll probably never be 110 pounds again, but even if I only lose two pounds a year, I know in five years I'll weigh ten pounds less.


Again a little notebook is your best friend.  Write down every penny you spend for a month.  Every little thing from a postage stamp to the quarter you drop in the charity boxes that are set up near every register (the pet shelter ones are the ones that get me). Once you've gathered all the data, you'll know where you're money goes.  I was surprised to learn that we spend around $20 a month on postage.  So now I budget for that.

After you figured out what you spend your money on, the next step is making a budget.  Many prices are fixed, such as mortgages, rent, car payments, etc, so write them down first.   Now with the remaining money, set an amount for the rest; food, heating, electricity, etc. and don't forget the non-monthly bills such as car insurance and property taxes.   For those items divide the amount by 12 and immediately put that money into your savings account.  I would say that if you are easily tempted to spend that money, you should start a separate savings account just for earmarked expenditures.  On items such as food and clothing, take the money from you checking account and put them in envelopes.  That way, you can physically see how much you have to spend.  Seeing you only have $20  bill in your pocket and ten days until the end of the month, certainly keeps you from spending it on donuts. On the other hand, if you can get by on less, it's nice to carry it over to the next month, or better yet, put into your savings.  Also, make sure that you set up an emergency fund.   Things break.  Last year we spent over 1/3 of our income on repairs to our cars and the furnace.  While that's an anomaly,  you should always have at least 5-10% of your income set aside for such emergencies depending upon your income..   New tires aren't going to magically appear you know.  I wrote about how to pay off your credit cards here.  And don't forget to budget for clothing even if you buy everything at thrift stores or think there is nothing you need.  You need new underwear and socks from time to time.  Once in a while something gets stained or torn. It doesn't have to be much but you have to be realistic. And always put some money into savings.   It might only be ten dollars, just as long as you are moving forward, that's the important thing. Forego things like dining out and movies to meet that goal.  I'd say get rid of the cable too.   Sell something or do an odd job  to meet the goal.  Sit in the dark so your electricity bill is lower.   Whenever you find yourself becoming too comfortable, readjust your lifestyle a little lower.


I won a beautiful scarf from the The Foothills of The Great Smoky Mountains blog.  Thank you Toni!  It was beautiful!

Sold five things on Ebay with their no fee offer (BTW the scarf sold for $138)

Made a penny rug from wool pieces given to me from my friend Mary.

Harvested parsley from our garden (yes, it was still alive under the snow)

Bought 3 one pound bags of kidney beans on sale for 89 cents a bag from Aldis.

Made a batch of baked beans on top of the woodstove. Free heat!

Started a sampler with supplies I had.

Turned the heat down even lower at night to save on heating costs.  Our heating cost for December was $25.

Rearranged the furniture to take better advantage of the sun's warmth.

Bottled up some homemade cider vinegar.  It was supposed to be apple brandy (made from windfalls) but we forgot about it and it turned to vinegar.  It's very good vinegar .

By now I'm sure you are tired of reading about the wood heat, clothes drying, eating from the pantry etc..  So let's just say those all are givens.   Well I hope you have a lovely and safe week ahead!



  1. Hi Jane! So true....I love your rules of dieting. I am finally beginning to look at a piece of food and see calories in my mind! All your suggestions are great, such as writing down. I can absentmindedly pop something into my mouth and I won't even notice..ha..

    Same with budgeting. I already do that...for bills, but I don't write down what I actually spend. That would really help me. I'm getting out a notebook right now.

    When I read your first paragraph, it reminded me of the documentary "Alone in the Wilderness" that is on PBS a lot...from 1960 of a man living in Alaska self-sufficiently. He loved simple pleasures!

    Beautiful penny rug. Yes, definitely "winter skies"! I love the color of a winter sky. Right now we are going to begin cold weather. Not as cold as yours though. New Year Peace! Andrea

    1. Hi Andrea! I found a little notebook that I kept for weight loss the other day. I was surprised. Although the weight is slow to melt I sure could see progress from four years ago.

      Amazing what a little notebook can do for your budget. I keep track of all my expenditures on the left hand side of my record keeping book. It's easy for us because there are quite a few days where we don't go anywhere, so we don't spend. But the trip to the big city day is a headache, since you can buy non-groceries at the grocery store.

      Ran was reading my dieting tips and he got up and said we need to go for a walk!

      I love this peaceful time of the year too. It's so quiet the only noise we heard was the clanging of the rigging on the flagpoles. Beautiful starry night tonight. It's a joy just to be!


  2. Happy New Year, Jane! Welcome to a whole bunch of new opportunities! :) I have tried to make vinegar, but it didn't look right... it molded on top and I don't think it is supposed to do that, right?? We are supposed to have our first flurries tonight! I am so excited... I hold out hope that it will be up to the windowsills regardless of the forecast!

    Bread is baking and the house smells divine... Wish you were closer; I'd share some of our homemade bratwurst with you. It is wonderful and very lean!

    Your tips are always so interesting and helpful! I love the rug! The colors are wonderful! It makes me think of the Northern Lights.

    Have a marvelous week... as ever.. m

    1. O would say that mold on the top of vinegar is not a good thing Matty, considering the purpose of using it in canning it so that mold won't grow. Ha!

      Yum! homemade bratwurst! It might be worth the drive. Actually, you are worth the drive, sausages or not!

      Hoping you get your snow!

  3. I really like your penny rug, the blue is so peaceful. Do you use it as a rug? Our floors get too dirty. My mom has made a few penny rugs that are used on table tops.
    Your diet tips are very timely, I need to just print off your rules and follow them too!
    The $138 scarf is just mind - boggling! And what a blessing to you.
    I read the blogger who made your new scarf, I like the scarf and am fascinated the artsy handmade buttons.
    Have a great week Jane.

    1. Hi Rhonda! I use the rugs as table runners too. With a corgi i n the house, you don't want to use anything too dear on the floor.

      I should have included a picture of Toni's scarf but I'm tired of taking pictures for all this Ebay business. But it's a great way to downsize. You surely get more money than you would selling them at garage sales!


  4. Jane,
    I loved your post. It is so true about keeping track of your eating like that. I have an app on my Kindle that helps with that--MyFitnessPal. When I use it, it helps. I've been thinking it would be a good thing to get going again for the new year.

  5. Happy New Year, Jane! I love the colors in your penny rug!

    I'm usually fairly thrifty minded so I love reading all the ways you save money. We do use a credit card for ordering online, but we have a limit on it, and we pay it off monthly so there is no monthly fee. The card company probably wishes we had never applied for it. ;)

    I am giggling over the stack of money that you got for the scarf. That is just super smart, and you deserve every penny. It's bad but a fact that the good stuff in one of our "chain" thrift stores gets picked over before it ever goes on the shelf. I was told by a very honest lady from our church, who worked there for a few months, that some of the veteran employees had first pick on donations. *sigh* She quit working there for that very reason. Sad.

    I'm looking forward to seeing your sampler if you share pics of your work on it. I just love handwork and enjoy seeing what other like-minded crafters are doing.

    I had to smile as I read about your dress-ups as I love the clothes from yesteryear myself. Our youngest and I did Revolutionary era re-enactments as part of her American History and Home Economics classes when she was in high school, and we loved it. She really did not want to learn to sew, but when she realized I wasn't going to make her period clothes for her (except for a woolen cloak and silk gown) she lit a fire with the sewing machine and did a good job at it, too. ;) I hope to start sewing a denim skirt this week as all my hopes of finding a new-to-me one have fizzled, and there are none but short or backside hugging ones in the stores.

    Have a great thrifty week!

    1. Hi Toni! Fortunately for me, no one around here knows what Hermes is, so I always check the scarves. The Gucci one that I found for 50 cents went for $60 too.

      Aren't denim skirts the hardest things to find? Either they're super short or have a slit up the back that's almost indecent. I've heard of making a godet insert into the slit for privacy. I might have to do that. Looks easy enough.

      Well, your daughter will thank you later for making her learn to sew. I know I'm glad that I did. Except once it gets out that you know how, people are always coming to you to make repairs!

      Oh yes! Dress up is part of my creative outlet. I'm mindful though to dress in proper "normal" clothes when I go to the big city. Haven't gone full-on Tasha Tudor yet, but I admire her for being so bold!


    2. Thank you again for your posts. Just the things I wanted/needed to know - We are similar - if I am not creating something for a few hours after work, I get antsy. Cross stitching, crocheting and sewing after dinner is made, dishes are cleaned is my dessert! When I can't do that - after a few days I am fully wound up!
      Thank you too! I feel not alone knowing you and I can only have the same amount of calories and losing weight isn't easy as I am flooded with commercials and Facebook posts loaded with how easy it is to loose - just don't be lazy! (I am not!)
      I am not really "connected" but after last nights lack of sleep - I am going to disconnect 90% of what I am have been trying to be a part of in 2015. I see much success that way!
      Have a blessed week!

  6. Hello J! AN added benefit of crafting is it really makes a home when you are surrounded by things made with your own two hands.

    My brother-in-law says he lost 20 pounds just by giving up peanuts! Those are the type of people you want to smack up along the side of their heads. Ha! For years my doctor said I'd lose weight if I wasn't so lazy. At the time I had 4 little ones and I was working so hard that some nights I couldn't even lift my legs to climb the stairs at night. It wasn't until twenty years later that a new younger doctor finally checked my thyroid and was shocked at how low it was. He said he had never seen anyone with such a low thyroid function.

    I make counting calories easy for myself by eating the same breakfast every day. Oatmeal with chia seeds 1 tsp. brown sugar and cinnamon. 220 calories.

    Best of luck on your new goals!

  7. Happy New Year Jane. I hope that 2016 brings you and your family, happiness and health in your lovely homestead. I've just had a lovely long read, catching up with all your posts that I missed. So much to take in, enjoy and learn from. I've just been making up a batch of fire cider that also contains turmeric. I hadn't realised that turmeric, cardamom and galangal are all related. I've also got a big pot of lentil soup on the stove for lunch today. I'm determined to use up store cupboard ingredients before we go shopping. Thank you for sharing more free knitting pattern links. They'll be useful over the next few weeks.
    Happy weekend,

    1. Happy New Year to you too, Debby! I hope you are enjoying the first few weeks of the new year! That fire cider certainly sounds healthy. I'm busy canning this weekend. The winter is a nice time to do it, heats the house!

      Have a happy weekend!