SOCDIRECTOR's SparkPeople Blog SOCDIRECTOR's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community When Does Your Christmas Tree Come Down? All day I've been reading posts on Facebook from friends so proud that their Christmas decorations and tree are no longer taking up valuable living space in their homes. As devout practicing Catholics, in our home we have only just begun to celebrate this blessed Christmas season. <BR> <BR> Though commercially, our society would have us believe that Christmas ends on December 25. On the contrary, the celebration has only just begun on that blessed day. Here's the explanation of how the seas... Tue, 1 Jan 2013 22:06:16 EST Same Old, Same Old How many times have we -- those of us who are trying to shed weight -- put losing those extra pounds on the top of our New Year's resolutions list? Well, I can't recall a time in my entire life when that one important item HAS NOT been on my list. <BR> <BR> Last Christmas when I joined SparkPeople, I vowed that this was my catalyst, my savior, my motivation to "get 'er done!" once and for all! As I sit here creating this post, I know there are more challenges and accomplishments still ahead... Sun, 30 Dec 2012 21:50:50 EST Today is Feast of St. Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) As the story goes, St. Nicholas used to be a wealthy Bishop who surprised the poor children in his village with food to eat on their window sill where their socks were drying over night. If no socks were hung out to dry, he would leave a small sack with bread, fruit, nuts, etc. For some children in that village, that little bit of food might have been their only meal that day. Sometimes there was a small toy as well. <BR> <BR> Nicholas was the Bishop of Turkey and is to this day the patron ... Thu, 6 Dec 2012 08:14:37 EST Quick & Easy Meatball Recipe While thumbing through a couple holiday magazines last week, I saw meatballs baked in cupcake pan. Genius idea! So I decided to make this for my family dinner tonight combining a couple recipes I located online. These meatballs were so super easy and really quick to make. I'll never make meatballs the old-fashioned way again! <BR> <BR> Here's my adaption to make Quick & Easy Meatballs. I adapted it to what was on hand in my kitchen. <BR> <BR> Ingredients: <BR> <BR> 1 1/2 pounds of (85/15) ... Fri, 30 Nov 2012 23:09:48 EST Week 2: Still Meeting the Challenge A couple weeks ago, BOSS61, one of my very first SparkFriends, sent a blanket challenge in his blog to all Sparkers. He suggested that we stay focused and on target with our new health and fitness routines to continue losing 1 pound over each of the next 6 weeks, taking us through the holidays. <BR> <BR> I'm so proud to report that I'm meeting this challenge. Today, after a long weekend of snacking and enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal, I've still lost 1 pound. Last week I also lost 1... Mon, 26 Nov 2012 19:13:11 EST An American History Lesson on Thanksgiving: Giving Thanks on This Day and Everyday Many know the legend of the First Thanksgiving. The post-harvest celebration of food, feasting, and praising God held by the American Pilgrims colonists first occurred in October 1621 and was not called Thanksgiving. It was a combined solemn ceremony consisting of a full day of prayer, worship and thanks to God and a couple days of entertaining the Indians who taught the Pilgrims to catch eel and grow corn, who probably would have perished without their help. <BR> <BR> <img src="http://phot... Wed, 21 Nov 2012 21:06:19 EST Tuesday: Universal Children's Day This day was initiated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954. Let's observe a day of understanding between all the world's children and devotion to their needs. <BR> <BR> Never forget, kids are kids, no matter where they live. <BR> <BR> <em>185</em> <BR> Mon, 19 Nov 2012 23:39:21 EST Today: I Thank ALL Veterans Also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, today we observe and honor the more than 24 million military veterans in the United States. This National Holiday was established in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson, who called for a day "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory." <BR> <BR> Another little known fact about this Veteran's Day 2012 is that this is the first year we don't ... Mon, 12 Nov 2012 18:20:26 EST It's All Over But the Counting! I'm not alone in saying that this election year has taken it's toll on my patience. The smear campaigns fueled by negative television and radio ads are now in the scrap pile. <BR> <BR> Thank goodness this is all over and we can go on to our regularly scheduled Tuesday, lifestyle and overall being. <BR> <BR> Spark on... <BR> ~ Lynn Tue, 6 Nov 2012 22:19:43 EST Say "Bye, Bye" to the Dictionary as We Know It Today I heard a news story that really saddened me. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary as we know it will no longer be published in printed format. After this run of the 2012 copyright edition, all dictionaries from the No 1 publisher in this arena will be available online only. <BR> <BR> That's not only sad, but rather disappointing to me as a parent who recently introduced my 2nd grader to how to use this wonderful educational tool. <BR> <BR> I seem to recall that the Merriam-Webster Colle... Mon, 5 Nov 2012 12:05:16 EST Today: National Plan Your Epitaph Day Haven't you ever thought about this? I know I have, though there is nothing concrete, as yet! <BR> <em>211</em> <BR> <BR> Well.....Today is a day for worst-case-scenario thinkers and control freaks to plan out exactly what their gravestone is going to say. It's usually short, concise, and sometimes funny. Twitters might think of it as their very last Tweet. Though I doubt that 140 characters might not fit on the standard tombstone! <BR> <BR> So go and make my mark on this world! Your e... Thu, 1 Nov 2012 18:20:59 EST Tomorrow: Worlwide Howl at the Moon Night Do I really need to explain this one? Hopefully I will all be able to sleep if our neighbors are all hollowing at the moon. Pleasant dreams! Thu, 25 Oct 2012 23:38:53 EST Thank You and Keep Those Prayers Comin' As most of you are aware, a few months ago here in our family we experienced a lay off. My husband lost his job after 6 years with the same firm. <BR> <BR> First, I want to say "Thank You" all for your continued prayers, networking referrals, genuine kindness and unlimited support. We are truly blessed!! <BR> <BR> Now for some good news... <BR> After months of searching for a new job, Jeff, is in the early stages of an ideal opportunity to join a local company as a computer programmer. He ... Tue, 23 Oct 2012 22:50:33 EST Celebrating National Nut Day? October 22 is National Nut Day. Will you be celebrating? <BR> <BR> Not to seem wacky, but if you aren't crazy for cashews, a bit bonkers for brazil nuts, then by George I think you should be relegated to the nut house! <BR> <BR> Besides, who can't resist a bag of salted peanuts in the shell at the baseball game? To pass those up would be un-American! Sometimes I even eat them whole--shell and all! <BR> <BR> I've already put my Fruit & Nut bar into my Monday lunch bag for mid-morning snack... Sun, 21 Oct 2012 23:26:45 EST Tomorrow: World Osteoporosis Day It's great to have a day to remind us to get our share of Vitamin D. That's what we have here today, though we Sparkers should be doing this EVERYDAY! <BR> <BR> We all know that Vitamin D is one of the important nutrients that, along with calcium and a healthy lifestyle, helps prevent Osteoporosis. <BR> <BR> So to prevent degenerative bone disease, have a glass of milk, everyone! <BR> <em>274</em> <BR> <BR> Spark on... <BR> ~ Lynn <BR> <BR> [I'm trying to give you these important un... Fri, 19 Oct 2012 17:44:40 EST Today: National No Beard Day This is something I never have to worry about. All the men in my life--home and work--are clean-shaven so I don't see this on a regular basis. <BR> <BR> Now that I'm watching my beloved St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series, I wonder how most of the guys in bullpen can sport beards. Some look unkempt, others as short as a 1-day shadow of sorts. <BR> <BR> What do you think? Are beards back en vogue? Will others who see their sports hero growing out their facial hair... Thu, 18 Oct 2012 23:12:15 EST Plan Ahead: Tomorrow is Wear Something Gaudy Day! Do you know anyone who insists on observing Hawaiian Shirt Friday? Time to one up that weirdo and step up your bad fashion factor! Don't worry, the Fashion Police are not working today -- they are celebrating Gaudy Day too! <BR> <BR> So, when picking your Wednesday Wardrobe before you go off to bed, choose carefully what you will wear to get into the spirit of this day. Whatever you decide to wear today in observance, have fun with it. You might just get a second life out of that gaudy outfi... Tue, 16 Oct 2012 22:57:40 EST Today is National Desserts Day Yum! Some may choose to pig out on desserts today -- NOT I! I will not forget all the other major food groups! <em>471</em> <BR> <BR> There may be dessert before the main course, if I can put it all together before our Sunday family meal time. <em>44</em> <BR> <BR> At least no one in my family will EVER misspell desserts again. My favorite rule of spelling: Dessert has two "s" because you usually want or ask for seconds! <em>475</em> <em>494</em> <em>45</em> Sun, 14 Oct 2012 12:42:32 EST The Savings Keep Adding Up Earlier this week I told you about how I'm a coupon clipper and try to save 45-55% on my grocery trips. This week was one of those big monthly shopping trips. <BR> <BR> My DH accompanied me so that we could wheel two carts and split our items into 3 transactions, which maximized our savings. Once again I saved 48% on our family groceries. <BR> <BR> The great news is that I am closer toward our first brand new upright freezer. What a feeling! Thu, 11 Oct 2012 23:22:24 EST Pay It Forward: Your Unused Coupons Help Military Families Maybe I'm a "couponing queen", but I don't really label myself as such. There are real queens who are making a living sharing their couponing knowledge with others. I admit that I follow some of their practices and advice. In many instances I am happy to share what I've learned with others in order to help whenever I can. <BR> <BR> Case in point, paying it forward to support our military families abroad with Troopons(r). <BR> <BR> A couple years ago my church bulletin announced that the p... Tue, 9 Oct 2012 12:15:32 EST How I Save 45-55% Off Our Grocery Bill It really isn't a secret that the grocery stores and manufacturers want us to use coupons when purchasing their products. By doing so, it's a three-way win, which also includes the shopper in that mix. <BR> <BR> Even without coupon clipping, you can save a great deal on your family meals each week with a little planning and by using the sales flyers from your local grocer. But I take it a step further and, with the help of bloggers and other proven resources, match the current manufacturer c... Mon, 8 Oct 2012 23:39:00 EST 50 is the New 30 Today is my 50th Birthday and I feel good! Having accomplished so many milestones much later in life than my peers has allowed me to cling to my youth much longer than most of my friends. <BR> <BR> Recently, when I admitted my age, I was told that I'm "well preserved." Taken as a compliment, I briefly thought of the alternative "well done" or finished. My life if far from complete! <BR> <BR> As I pass this half-century milestone, it's just another day in my life like any other. Following m... Sun, 7 Oct 2012 23:25:34 EST Today is Techie's Day - Thank You, SparkGuy! No other day do you have an excuse to give your favorite techie a big virtual hug and kiss. So, go ahead! Take advantage of this perfect opportunity to pay tribute to those who work behind the scenes, and that are always there to fix your computer. This is the day to show love to the person who is always there when your computer crashes, or you go "Oops! What did I just do?" <BR> <BR> We are all techies in our own right. In my opinion, computer users also qualify as there are millions around... Wed, 3 Oct 2012 23:35:36 EST Today is Chewing Gum Day For some people chewing gum can equal bad manners, but I believe it's better than having bad breath! <BR> <BR> <em>334</em> <BR> <BR> Chewing gum tends to keep me from putting junk food into my mouth late in the afternoon at work and then again at home when I'm preparing dinner. It also keeps me from sampling while preparing the family meal. <BR> <BR> Do you use chewing gum as a part of your daily SparkPeople nutritional intake? <BR> Sun, 30 Sep 2012 01:10:46 EST Today WAS National Coffee Day -- I missed it! I really need to read these unusual holiday sources earlier in the day. Today is National Coffee Day and I went the ENTIRE day without one drop of coffee!! Shame on me!! <BR> <em>106</em> <BR> <BR> So, NO, I did not have a cup to start off my day first thing in the morning. Maybe you did! If so, I trust you stopped at 10 cups and did not go overboard with your celebration. Otherwise you might still be bouncing off the walls. <BR> <em>211</em> Sun, 30 Sep 2012 00:30:10 EST Today is National Drink Beer Day! As if people needed an excuse to tip a few cold ones with some friends, Drink Beer Day is upon us. <BR> <BR> Most folks won't have any trouble finding drinking companionship on this day. Just "grab some buds" then go out and celebrate this holiday. (After all I do live in St. Louis, home of Budweiser, King of Beers.) <BR> <BR> If you still have a few carbs left to kill on this day, you can record the nutritional value of beer on your SparkPoints. Did you know that beer contains vitamin B6... Fri, 28 Sep 2012 22:44:40 EST National One-Hit-Wonder Day No matter what music era you recall, there is one song you almost always remember that can put a smile on your face the moment the melody starts playing in your head. <BR> <BR> When I noticed today is National One Hit Wonder Day, I Googled my favorite era: 1980s. Check out this list I found <link> </link> <BR> <BR> There are three songs on this Top 10 List that I remember as being favorites during my dancing nights back in college. Until now I had no ... Tue, 25 Sep 2012 19:36:57 EST Talk Like a Pirate: Only Today is this Okay Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. This is not only an unusual holiday, it's recognized in other nations! Go figure!! <BR> <BR> The way I see it, if you are over the age of 12, today is the ONLY day when this is acceptable behavior. <BR> <BR> Warning: Keep your "arrrrrs" and "yo ho hos" under control, matey, or I'll have you walking the plank!! <BR> <BR> <link> </link> Wed, 19 Sep 2012 08:20:24 EST Today is a Double Whammy: Cheeseburger and Rice Crispy Treat Day Some days I only need to consult my unusual holiday calendar to plan my dinner meal. That is especially true today. <BR> <BR> National Cheeseburger Day - Everything is better with cheese on it, right? <BR> <em>489</em> <BR> <BR> and <BR> <BR> Rice Crispies Treat Day - rather Cocoa Crispies--our family favorite--in this instance <BR> <em>493</em> <BR> <BR> We have beef and turkey burgers thawing in the fridge and cheese at the ready. I'm preparing a double batch of Rice Crispies... Tue, 18 Sep 2012 09:44:01 EST Today is Constitution Day <em>232</em> <BR> Today is 225th Anniversary of the United States of America Constitution. <BR> <BR> This holiday was previously known as Citizenship Day (before 2004) and "I am an American Day" (the 1940s). Though this holiday has gone through a lot of name changes, it was first celebrated in 1787 as Constitution Day. <BR> <BR> Today let's take time to reflect on the importance of this massive document that spells out our democracy and set the foundation for this great country we call... Mon, 17 Sep 2012 09:05:43 EST Today is Working Parents Day Today, a Sunday of all days this year, we celebrate Working Parents. It's another one of those unique holidays shared today with National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day, National Play Doh Day and Step Family Day, among others. <BR> <BR> Like most working parents, I have a full plate and display a lot of patience--most of the time, anyway. Though I work p/t, I'm still busy at my job outside the home three days a week and then I come home and start my second job--being a mom. <BR> <BR> It wasn't... Sun, 16 Sep 2012 21:00:52 EST So Glad I Do Not Celebrate National Cream-filled Donut Day Today, September 14th, is National Cream-filled Donut Day. There are no other recognized unusual holidays today. It sits all by itself this date on the calendar, a square just for praise of the ooey gooey mess of cream-filled fried cakes. <BR> <BR> Thank goodness I've never craved such a sugary treat. Or I might have been first in line at the popular donut shops this morning. <BR> <BR> For me the WOW factor wears off after the first bite. And that is an alarming bite. <BR> <BR> So, NO, I... Fri, 14 Sep 2012 22:48:10 EST National Peanut Day Today is National Peanut Day. <BR> <BR> For my afternoon snack, I'm enjoying Granny Smith wedges dipped into organic PB. <BR> <BR> Last night I whipped up a batch of brownies for my family and included peanut butter nuggets in the mix. That's our dessert and school snacks the remainder of this week and into the weekend. <BR> <BR> We are fortunate that not one of us in this household has a peanut allergy and we all love PBJ sandwiches. YUMMY! <BR> <BR> How will you celebrate National Pea... Thu, 13 Sep 2012 16:19:11 EST God is Good Sharing GOOD NEWS and Prayers of Thanksgiving... <BR> <BR> This week we learned that my DH receives a State of Missouri unemployment benefits, thus granting him permission to attend the C.A.I.T. program at Washington University in St. Louis without paying anything out of pocket! WooHoo!! <BR> <BR> We are so very grateful he's able to attend this prestigious program for IT professionals. And especially thankful that the costs are covered for us. <BR> <BR> Thank you to all the Prayer Warrior... Sun, 9 Sep 2012 00:58:49 EST To Busy to Care These past couple of weeks have been pretty trying on my emotions and waist line. <BR> <BR> I should have never brought into the house those FREE snack bags: chips, crackers, scoops, etc. They are my downfall and NO ON CAN EAT JUST ONE! <BR> <BR> So, next time we get a stash of FREE snack food, I'm hiding it in the basement, passing it along to neighbors, or finding other alternatives to carry the generosity forward. <BR> <BR> Spark on.... <BR> Thu, 30 Aug 2012 23:55:51 EST Lesson Learned: Keep Exercising to Avoid the Pains of Old Age This weekend we were cleaning out the garage. I moved slightly to the left while simultaneously picking up something off the floor. Well, my body didn't like that juxtaposition and I pulled a muscle in my lower back. <BR> <BR> Had I kept up with my strength training and Wii Yoga routine, this probably would not have happened. <BR> <BR> I've learned the following lessons from this ordeal: <BR> 1. I can't let life get in the way of me taking care of myself <BR> 2. Keep up with my daily exe... Tue, 28 Aug 2012 23:48:55 EST Good News on Jeff's Job Search Today Jeff got word that he's been accepted into an education program through CAIT at Washington University in St. Louis. The best thing is that it may be completely FREE OF CHARGE, including books and parking. <BR> <BR> <em>244</em> <BR> <BR> It's a training program for IT professionals who are between jobs. Sponsored by 40 local major corporations hosted by the Engineering School at WashU, it offers technical training to promising individuals so they may gain the skills for which emplo... Tue, 28 Aug 2012 00:53:27 EST Nutrition Lesson Today I didn't follow my three meals and two snacks at the regularly scheduled times. Now I'm regretting that decision. I should have made myself stop and eat instead of plugging along with my hectic day. <BR> <BR> Now I have a headache and my last meal--finished just 30 min ago--is weighing so heavy on my stomach that I can't fall asleep. <BR> <BR> The saving grace is that I stayed within my nutrition plan, consumed 7 fruits/vegetables and got in 10 glasses of water. Now to get rid of this... Thu, 23 Aug 2012 22:07:23 EST Vision Board These last couple days I've been accumulating the items I wish to add to my SparkPeople Vision Board. <BR> <BR> This is not my first experience with creating such a thing. In my direct sales leader days, this was called a DREAM BOARD. I created one about 5 years ago and it still is located in my office. It's no longer valid as that company is long gone from my life. But I can still salvage some of the images for my SparkPeople Vision Board. <BR> <BR> Do any of you have your own SparkPeople... Mon, 20 Aug 2012 23:51:46 EST Job Search Update -- Me and My Guy Some of you read my earlier post from the first of the month sharing the recent disappointment that my DS lost his job. <BR> <BR> Well, the situation has gotten a bit sadder as we try to sustain our happy home with little income from my p/t job. Jeff just learned Thursday that his unemployment benefits may not come through as we had planned. So we are bracing ourselves should we have to contest this decision and fight any denial of his rightful benefits due him after 6 years of service with... Sun, 19 Aug 2012 00:31:31 EST Full Day of Accomplishments Some days I have more energy to do the necessary tasks and then some. Today was one of those days. <BR> <BR> It started with accomplishing chores long overlooked. <BR> <BR> Then we went to the polls as a family to cast our votes. <BR> <BR> Next, I found lots more unused items to add to our garage sale for Weekend 2. <BR> <BR> My DH and I saw our financial advisor to discuss our financial future in light of his recent layoff. <BR> <BR> After dinner, I let myself relax and watched the U... Tue, 7 Aug 2012 22:53:45 EST When One Door Closes... ...another one opens! <BR> <BR> These past couple days have been really trying. Yesterday my DH lost his job. A job he really enjoyed for the past 6 years. <BR> <BR> We have been scrambling to plan for the short-term with what meager savings and the minimal income I make at my p/t administrative job. We're re-doing our family budget and I'm investigating our health insurance options. It if weren't for our deep faith, I can't even imagine were we would be right now. <BR> <BR> So, once aga... Thu, 2 Aug 2012 00:05:01 EST Wii Fit Trick - Changing Your Goal Midway For whatever reason this weekend when I changed my Wii Fit Goal, it ADDED weight instead of decreasing the weight on my 2-week goal. When I couldn't find how to adjust that on the Wii Fit menus, I went to the web and found this information from a Nintendo forum. <BR> <link><BR>#2256 </link> <BR> <BR> "This is actually a common question. Apparently, although there's no manual option to change your goals mid-way, there is a way to "trick" the game into al... Tue, 31 Jul 2012 09:02:12 EST Let the Games Begin! Tonight I watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics. I'm so excited to watch the games. There are several favorites that I'll try to catch all the action. <BR> <BR> Volleyball is on top of my list. Then there's swimming, soccer and sand volleyball. <BR> <BR> Tennis and basketball may be interesting with all the professional athletes competing this year. <BR> <BR> With all the coverage on all the NBC affiliates (Bravo and others), we could be glued to the TV. So glad to have a... Sat, 28 Jul 2012 00:08:56 EST Volleyball is Still FUN for me! <em>133</em> <em>133</em> <em>133</em> <em>133</em> <em>133</em> <em>133</em> <BR> Ever since I was young and played in the CYC league through school, I've always loved volleyball. Though I was never really a standout player, I held my own and played throughout high school earning a Varsity letter. <BR> <BR> After college intramural leagues, I would play in a few co-ed recreational leagues for fun and to go out for drinks afterwards. At one point, I was playing on three teams at ... Thu, 26 Jul 2012 23:20:27 EST SparkTeam for the Slow Cooker Enthusiasts A few days ago I posted a blog about one of my most favorite kitchen appliances: the slow cooker. There were many comments with personal experiences, recipes and tips on how you use your slow cooker. <BR> <BR> Well, would you believe that there is a SparkTeam for quick meals preparation called "Cooking for Fast Lives" Here's the link: <link><BR>ndividual.asp?gid=4319 </link> <BR> <BR> I joined today and hope some of you will follow me there, too. That... Tue, 24 Jul 2012 23:13:03 EST What Do You Do with Fresh Fruit That's In-season? They had a great sale on peaches last week at each of our regional grocery stores. They were all locally grown on farms not far from here so I felt good about my "green" footprint when I came home with almost 6 pounds of fresh peaches. <BR> <BR> Last night and today I spent some time figuring out what to do with all these sweet, juicy, delicious peaches. <BR> <BR> So far I've used up 5 cups to create a So-Simple Fresh Peach Cobbler in the Crock Pot. Then I kept a half dozen in reserve to ... Mon, 23 Jul 2012 20:05:36 EST One of the MOST Useful Kitchen Appliances EVER! If I were a poet, I would write an Ode to the Crock Pot! <BR> <BR> Today--and at least twice a week--I whip up two or three meals in one of my most favorite small kitchen appliances: the Crock Pot. <BR> <BR> It's so simple and easy to throw all the ingredients into one cooking pot, plug it in, set it for hours, and forget about it until it's time to dig in at the dinner table. Plus, the house smells like someone's been cooking all day when we return home. <BR> <BR> Recently I purchased the... Sun, 22 Jul 2012 22:44:38 EST Will Power Thanks to Today a colleague brought into work boxes of chips and crackers. He was gifted these treats from his sister, an employee of the chip company, who could not place the product in stores due to the near expiration date. Had he not shared these chips, they would have been destroyed per company policy. <BR> <BR> So, I graciously accepted the gift -- two grocery bags full of chips and crackers -- and brought these "treats" into our home. <BR> <BR> BIG MISTAKE!! <BR> <BR> [Please Note: I NO LON... Fri, 20 Jul 2012 18:24:45 EST Hidden Treasure on Reports Sometimes I'm astounded at all that has to offer and it is STILL totally free. Since sparking my flame within, I've found to be a vital tool on my health and wellness journey. <BR> <BR> Well, having been employed in the Information Systems or Information Technology industry, I know it takes a great deal of time in staff hours to put together a seemingly simple graphic user interface such as what we experience here on The average everyday user... Wed, 18 Jul 2012 20:30:39 EST