What Worked in 2014

Better late than never, I’ve been thinking about what worked and what didn’t work for me in 2014.

What worked

Lexapro: I don’t know why I need to take an anti-depressant.  I’m not depressed.  It’s anxiety, I guess although for me it manifests as irritability.

Anyway, 2014 was the most peaceful year I can remember, and I’m thinking it was a chemically-induced peace.  During the homily on New Year’s day, the priest talked about how all peace comes from God.  Sometimes God even works through big, bad pharma.

Floradix: I’m mildly anemic and notice a big drop in energy when I don’t take this liquid iron supplement regularly.

What didn’t work:

Cow brain supplements (i.e., bovine pituitary gland pills): “prescribed” for me by my witch doctor by way of pressing down on my arm, these made me feel crazily irritable.  It didn’t help that I tried to wean off Lexapro at the same time (another thing that didn’t work), but even once I got back on Lexapro, these continued to make me feel irritable.  Maybe I didn’t give them a fair chance, but I’m not going back.

bitch mode

What worked:

Magnificat magazine.  I resisted subscribing to this for years because of the expense and because I already own a breviary.  Silly Laura.

Audiobooks: for the girls, mostly rented for free through a library consortium.  We are loving the Ramona series.  And Frog and Toad, read by the author, is a delight.

Chiropractic/massage: My back is the best it’s been in a long time.  It starts getting out of whack again when I don’t exercise for a while though, which brings up–

BodyFlow: I love this exercise class.  I only make it once a week and that’s only if we aren’t sick.  But it’s the perfect combination of stretching, relaxation, and strengthening.

Fabulous Forever: It’s a stretching DVD for old people, and I love it.  It feels great.

What didn’t work:

Pilates at Gold’s Gym: Hurt my back no matter how carefully I modified.

T-Tapp: A little more on that here

What worked:

Paper plates: I meant to add this to my goals post–I hereby resolve to eat more often off of paper plates!  Better to eat healthy food off of paper plates than convenience food off of fine china!

What didn’t work:

Red food dye: Girl 1 had three rough weeks at school in November, after doing really well for the first two months.  The only thing I could think of that had changed in her routine was that I had given her over the counter cough medicines regularly, and those medicines all have red dye in them.  We cut out the dye and, upon her return to school after Thanksgiving break, her behavior greatly improved.  We’re avoiding artificial food dyes now.

Every diet I “tried”:

The Christian ideal diet has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried [for more than two weeks].”

G.K. Chesterton, ed. by me

  • The No-S Diet: Ha!  Yeah, no.
  •  Calorie counting using My Fitness Pal–There was a time when I could lose weight just by keeping my daily calories under 2,000.  Not anymore.

  • Weight Watchers–I started off on their “Simply Filling” program and found myself pigging out on low-fat microwave popcorn, sugar-free jello, Weight Watchers brand shakes, and fat-free everything.  A low point was when I tried fat-free ricotta cheese.  It’s an abomination.  The alternative to the Healthy Start is the traditional point-counting method, but I didn’t feel like paying for what is basically counting calories plus weekly meetings I didn’t enjoy.
  • Thin Within–a prayer/ positive thinking method of eating only when you are hungry.  It makes sense, it really does.  And it’s still my goal.  But food has too much of a hold on me for this method to work on its own.  A dilemma I run into is trying to eating slowly and mindfully when sharing a meal with the two resident barbarians of the house.  Eating with them is stressful in itself, but it doesn’t work to eat separately from them for each meal.  So.

We’re back to Perfect Health Diet, which I went on initially because food has such a hold on me.  It’s not a panacea but it worked better than anything else I’ve tried.  Also, Pat wants to go back on it.  So here we go again.

And the barbarians are waking so I need to end this abruptly.

What worked and didn’t work for you in 2014?

Goal-Type Things for the New Year

I try to keep my ambitions realistic . . .


but I’ve been thinking about goals for 2015 and they’re starting to add up.  In no particular order they are

1. Keep wearing the Fitbit I got (by request) for Christmas.  No specific exercise goal, but hopefully wearing it and checking my stats will motivate me to boost my activity.  Over the past seven days I’ve averaged just barely above 5,000 steps per day.  Under 5,000 is considered sedentary.  Yikes.

2. Redecorate my living room (whole house?) with mid-century modern-inspired look, moving my French-cottage-meets-your-grandma’s-house decor to the basement t.v. room (more on this shortly).

3. Learn how to use a power drill, which will aid in #2.  Tensions run high when I ask Pat to hang stuff (“no not there, up a bit, now down . . . no, not like that”) .

4. Go back on the Perfect Health Diet!  This is big.  We ditched the PHD about a year ago, but Pat and I haven’t felt nearly as good since then.  So I’m kicking the mental health diet to the curb.  We’re modifying the PHD slightly (beans and peanut butter are in).

5. No Sugar January: The PHD itself cuts out almost all added sugars, but I’m serious about that part for at least a month.  I’m buddying up with Ellen for support.  I might cheat on other aspects of the PHD when we go out to eat or whatnot.  But no sugar.

6. More spiritual reading, starting with Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, which I’m about 2/3 of the way through.  Next I want to read Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est.  I also want to read through the Gospels.

7.  Stop saying “sorry.”  More on this later.

8. Move this blog to a self-hosted platform.  I already have a placeholder over at http://thisfelicitouslife.com.  Two years have gone by, and I still haven’t moved my data over.  I got an error message and gave up.

9. Learn the capitalization rules for blog titles. Seriously, I never remember which of the little words like “A, At, The, If, And, But, Or” need capitalization.

10. Stay away from celebrity gossip websites and magazines.  (I made this one in October and have kept it pretty well so far.)

11. Social-media-free Sundays!!  (I wouldn’t mind getting back into What I Wore Sunday but I’ll do it on Mondays.)

12.  Cut down on the use of parentheses (for obvious reasons).

All this talk of goals made me remember–I set goals for 2014.  I wonder what they were?  😉  Oh, here they are

1. The GoalThe No-S Diet: No Ssssugar, no Sssssnacks, and no Ssssseconds, except sometimes on weekends and special days.


Laughing hysterically

2. The Goal:  T Tapp. I’ve heard good things about this exercise routine (here and here among other places). 15 minutes a day! Easy on your joints (unlike my short-lived gambol with Jillian)! Helps balance mood, blood sugar, and hormones! 


Not good.  I did the T-Tapp Basic Workout Plus several times a week for several weeks.  I lost close to an inch from my waist (more from tightening muscle than from burning fat).  But she has a move called the “T-Tapp twist” that did a number on my lower back.  Tried to come back to it after recovering, and it messed up my back again.  No can do.

Plus, I was hoping for some science behind all her promises and quasi-scientific terms.  Her book didn’t have any of that, just explanations for how to do the moves and a bunch of success stories.  I’d recommend the workout if you want something that will tone you up in a short time, but not if you have low-back problems.


3. The GoalHome command center restructuring. 


Nailed it!


IMG_3814 IMG_3817

After (full post on this to come):

Home command center

4. The GoalDedicate time for blogging and–sheesh!–answering email. I don’t have a game plan here yet, but it’s something I really want to do. Right now, I usually write in the evenings when the girls are asleep. 



I intended to make this one of 2015’s goals, completely forgetting that it had been one of 2014’s.  Never did come up with that game plan.  Oh well.

5. The goalSwitch from plastic leftover containers to glass.


Nailed it!  I bought a few more pieces of Pyrex and also bought covers for three Pyrex bowls I already had.  I still have some plastic leftover containers, but I don’t use them as much and I never heat food in the microwave in them.

6. The Goal: Keep making progress in time management, especially going to bed early and not staying up late browsing the web.

Life goals vs. the internet


Hmm.  Not great.  I love the iPod mini my dad gave me earlier this year (thank you, veterinary pharmaceutical reps!), but that thing is dangerous when I keep it by my bed.


from laptop to phone in bed stick figure cartoon

On that note, here’s to a successful 2015 for us all!

Five free exercise routines for the faint of heart

and the weak of body.

Guess what y’all?  I’ve been exercising!  A little!  And that’s a lot more than I was exercising before!    Here are some workouts I like:

1.  10 Minute Fat Blasting Circuit from Fit Sugar.

hate cardio, so I went for this because I figure, I can stand anything for ten minutes.  It’s mostly low-impact, keeps your heart going, and targets the lower body.  It’s touted as the  Victoria’s Secret Model workout . . . or something like that. Blah.   I don’t even know why, though, it has nothing to do with Victoria’s Secret.

2.  10 Minute Yoga for Happiness routine.

This one is cheesy, but it really does improve my mood.

3.  Do yoga with me:  I like this whole website.

This is a good, 30 minute beginner’s yoga routine; mainly stretching with just a bit of strengthening.

This is similar, but about 45 minutes.

I recently tried going up to intermediate level with this 45 minute “foundations in flow” routine.

It was . . . humbling.  Ahem.  But good.  I’ll be going back to it.

4.  This 25 minute pilates routine is supposedly a beginner’s class.  Apparently, I am more beginner than a beginner because it kicks my tail.  But I’ll be coming back.  I can tell it’s what my muscles need.

5.  Finally, this “deep release for the lower back and hamstrings” doesn’t burn many calories, but it’s a great stretching routine.  It feels great and is relaxing.  Highly recommended for those with low back problems.


I’m linking up with Hallie for Five Favorites.  Thanks Hallie!


Terrible Twos, Llamas, Lululemon … and Homeschooling

1. Girl 2 has gone from hero to zero.  Terrible twos.  Boom.  Overnight.  For a few weeks I thought I was getting off easy, but nope.

2.  She refuses to wear anything other than this:


3. I’ve pretty much delegated dressing her to Pat, on those occasions when I have to take her out of the house, which I avoid doing as much as possible.

I had a brief, beautiful period of life where I could walk out of the library without a kicking, screaming, writhing child under my arm.  No more (at least not during the day).

It’s a good thing she’s cute.

4. Our biggest battle is at meal time and snack time.  So, five times a day.  She refuses to sit in her booster and wear a bib.  I refuse to let her eat any other way.  She gets grumpier and ornerier as her hunger increases.  I usually call in Pat.  I don’t know what I’d do if he didn’t work from home.  I’d probably just feed her Goldfish crackers from the kitchen floor, no shame.

5. At this point I’m just like, “Tina! Eat your food!”

eat your food gif

6. Speaking of fat lard (kidding!), I’m back to exercising.  A little.  But I hate getting dressed twice in one day.

I see how the whole Lululemon/ yoga pants phenomenon came about.  You put on stretchy clothes to exercise in.  You don’t feel like changing, so (like Shana) you buy exercise clothes that look nice (enough) to wear throughout the day.  And then even if you don’t exercise one day, you put on the exercise clothes out of habit and to at least make it look like you’ve exercised.  And after enough days like that, your jeans don’t fit anymore, so all you have left to wear is yoga pants.  (This wouldn’t happen to Shana–or to you, Annie, if you’re reading this–but it just might to me.)  It’s a slippery slope.

But I don’t like shelling out $ for clothes that aren’t “real” clothes.  And I don’t like wearing my one pair of really crummy, too-short, bootcut yoga pants, even around the house.

So I exercise in my pajamas.  Or in jeans with the waistband unbuttoned.  I feel like there’s a better way to do this but I can’t figure it out.

7. This is totally and completely unrelated to anything else in this post but, before I forget, I thought this was a good series: How to Homeschool without Warping Your Kids: Adult Grads Report Back (especially parts II and III).

Happy weekend!

For more quick takes, go to Conversion Diary.  Thanks for hosting the link-up, Jen!

How I Failed At My New Year’s Resolutions In Ten Short Days

Last week I wrote about my Goal-Type Things for the New Year.

Since then . . .

— 1 —

I pulled my back out on my third day of T Tapp (Instructional Basic Workout for those who are familiar with the program).  To be fair, I was lifting some books the day before, so that might be the cause.  But still it’s taken the wind out of my sails.

I’ve Googled “T-Tapp and back pain” and all I find are glowing reviews.  Pretty much you could snap your spine in two and this woman can grow it back for you in 15 minutes a day every other day.  It makes me a bit skeptical.  Also, her book doesn’t impress me much.

Still, I’ll give it another go once the pain subsides.  I do like the exercises.

— 2 —

I’ve given myself so many “S days,” (i.e. cheat days) that I don’t know who I’m kidding here.

And even on regular days I have a few squares of dark chocolate with dinner (Lindt 70%, mmmm).  Chocolate’s a health food, you know?  Seriously, it’s a health food.

— 3 —

As part of my home command center restructuring, I sold the china cabinet shown below:


for $200, on eBay.  Only after the buyers were on their way to pick it up did I notice “Ethan Allen” printed on the back.  And learn that corner china cabinets are hard to come by. . . . I probably could have gotten at least double that amount, possibly a lot more.  . . . I did a bit of pricing research before I listed it, but obviously not enough.

I’m hoping the $200 will cover some Elfa shelving for that corner.

— 4 —

Blogging goals: I made a concerted effort to join the 5:30 club.  I pulled out an old alarm clock and set it to wake me up with radio static, since my phone alarm is too loud.  First night, Girl 1 was in bed with me (the sound of snow plows scared her during the night), so she woke up to my alarm, too.  The other nights, darned if I didn’t hear Girl 2 stirring right away.  I kept hitting snooze because I knew she would holler as soon as she heard me get up.  There goes my quiet alone time.  The girls do occasionally sleep past 6:30, but apparently not if I’m up.

I so would love to write more regularly.  I’m enjoying Modern Mrs. Darcy, in large part because she blogs in short, frequent posts.  They are just long enough to give you something to think on, but still quick to read.

I frequently think of topics that one make good 2-3 paragraph posts, but by the time I sit down to write, I’ve lost the thread of the idea.  And then all I work on are longer, more in-depth posts.

On the topic of blogging goals, in addition to finding regular time to write, I need to switch over to a self-hosted blog.  We already have a placeholder blog.  I just need to figure out how to move all my content over.  Rachel of Efficient Momma wrote a very helpful post on the topic.  I just haven’t had time to do it yet.  

— 5 —

Hey!  Here’s a success: switching from plastic leftover containers to glass.  The day after my last post, Pat said out of the blue, “Can we add leftover containers to the shopping list?  We’re running out.”  Amazon has a good deal on a 5 piece Pyrex set (called a “10 piece set” because of the lids; lame), So I ordered them right up and tossed a couple of plastic containers.


— 6 —

I have few home improvement goals I didn’t mention last week.  I feel like so much of our house is held together with duct tape and bubble gum, even after five years.  Structurally everything is sound, but so many things are unsightly or inconvenient simply because we haven’t gotten around to fixing it, or we don’t want to spend money on it.  Pat and I are both naturally frugal (he more than I, but still . . . ), so it’s hard to shake the dormitory/ cheap first apartment mindset.

For instance, these living room curtains:


I bought hem-them-yourself sheers from Ikea (because they were cheap!), and they look awful.  Hemming super long curtains using iron-on hem tape, with a toddler around, is doomed to failure.  And now the girls have twisted and pulled the curtains so much that the curtain rod is sagging in the middle.  It makes me sad every time I look at it.

Also, our washing machine:  When we bought our house (a foreclosure, sans appliances), I did a bunch of research and tried to be smart and bought a front loader that was a Consumer Reports “best buy.”  Less than five years later, the rubber ring seal around the door is completely mildewed and disgusting.  Like this but worse:

No amount of bleach or vinegar or baking soda rinses will work. And replacing the part is expensive enough that we might as well buy a new one.  I’m a bit burned by the experience and plan to buy the cheapest, simplest top loader out there.  I’m even thinking about buying a used one.  Is that gross, I wonder? The thought of buying one used grosses me out a bit, but then if we had bought a house that already had a washer we would have used the washer it came with.  And anyway, nothing is grosser than the state of our current washer.

— 7 —

Girl 2’s current favorite thing to do is snuggle in bed with me.  She doesn’t sleep or even stay still for more than 5 seconds.  But she’s very particular about the arrangement of the blankets and pillows.  It’s pretty cute.

IMG_5266 IMG_5279

Over and out!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Diet, Exercise, Time Management, Blah blah blah

Goal-Type Things for the New Year



— 1 —

The No-S Diet: No Ssssugar, no Sssssnacks, and no Ssssseconds, except sometimes on weekends and special days.

There’s a book, but I don’t know that I’ll bother reading it.

I don’t really have a timeline, or a goal weight. I just know I have issues with these three areas: sugar, mindless grazing, and mealtime portions. And my weight is creeping upward and all my clothes are tight. Ugh. (I’ll do a post soon more specifically about my nutrition goals in light of our year on the Perfect Health Diet.)

— 2 —

T Tapp. I’ve heard good things about this exercise routine (here and here among other places). 15 minutes a day! Easy on your joints (unlike my short-lived gambol with Jillian)! Helps balance mood, blood sugar, and hormones! I’ve ordered the DVD and am eager to get started. My no-workout workout plan has left me feeling like a slug lately, especially since it’s been too cold outside (for me) to go walking.

— 3 —

Home command center restructuring. I spend about 80% of my waking hours in this tiny kitchen:

kitchen organization confessions of an organized housewife homemaker

and in this cramped dining room / entry way / home computer area.

IMG_3814 IMG_3817

Drives me nuts. After five years, I’m ready to make this area work for me instead of against me.

The changes already are underway, and I can’t wait to share the final result!

— 4 —

Dedicate time for blogging and–sheesh!–answering email. I don’t have a game plan here yet, but it’s something I really want to do. Right now, I usually write in the evenings when the girls are asleep. But that compromises last year’s resolution. Plus I’m often too tired. Plus Pat’s and my new-found Netflix addiction often wins out (we’ve finished Breaking Bad and moved on to The Good Wife).

Probably I need to join the 5:30 club. Blah.

I’m with Toad.

— 5 —

Switching from plastic leftover containers to glass. Good blog post about it here:

I’ve decluttered to the point that I only have a half dozen or so plastic leftover containers. Maybe as they die off I’ll replace them with Pyrex. I’m not very knowledgable about or 100% convinced of the health risks of plastic. Regardless . . . glass containers just look prettier!

— 6 —

My resolution last year was to stay off the internet on weeknights after 8 p.m. I didn’t really stick to it, but the amount of time I waste online is way down, both at night and during the day. (The Waste No Time browser extension helps a lot.) So I don’t consider it a complete fail.

At least you tried

I’d like to keep up the improvements I’ve made on this front.

— 7 —

I’ve made some progress in certain personal/spiritual aspects last year, and I’d like to keep that up to. I don’t really feel like blogging about the details so, I guess . . . fake quick take here. Sorry!

How about you? Did you make New Year’s resolutions? Or vague aspirations like me? 🙂

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes: Blood, Sweat, Tears, and A Milkshake

— 1 —

I’m sure lots of other Catholics went around yesterday, as I did, in a melancholy mood.  I really lost it and started weeping around 2 pm.  I’ve never spent so much time on Twitter before.  I felt so alone, just the girls and me at home . . . and the pope gone.  Reading all the tweets and blog posts from other Catholics helped me feel a little less adrift.

— 2 —

I remember when Benedict XVI was elected.  I was at law school and a t.v. was placed in the building’s central atrium.  A big crowd was watching, and several people sighed in disgust and stomped away when the selection was announced.  My friend and I smiled to each other and cheered.  I thought of my sister Lizzie and her friends who were right there in St. Peter’s Square at the time.

— 3 —

Did you know you can spiritually adopt a cardinal and pray for him as he elects a new pope?  The site is here.  Their server is overloaded as I write this but hopefully it will be back up soon.  I first read about it on Katie’s blog.  I thought about whom I would “adopt” and Cardinal Timothy Dolan  of New York automatically came to mind.  Then I thought, “Nah, I’m sure lots of people already have picked him.”  Turns out, the site selects “your” cardinal for you at random and I got . . . Dolan!

— 4 —

On to lighter matters: Did anyone not watch Oscars, like me?  Anyone else go online the next morning to check, not the award-winners, but the gowns?

Trena yawned, but I was impressed by all the 1940s and 50s glam.  So much classiness.  Modesty, even.  Just tack some one-inch ribbon on those strapless numbers and you’d swear you were at a Christendom College formal!

Okay, so maybe you’d need some pasties too.

Anne Hathaway

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Aniston. Love her, even if she’s never read a insipid script she didn’t love.


Reese Witherspoon


The only nominated movie I saw, anyway, was Les Mis.  Anne Hathaway won for her role in it, so there must be some sanity left in Hollywood . . . some.  I’m happy Jennifer Lawrence won an award, too.  At least I think I am.  I haven’t actually seen the film she won the award for, but she was so great in Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games.

— 5 —

We have major teeth issues in this household.  Pat got a tooth removed on Monday, finally, after two failed root canals.  Turns out it was all infected and he had a friggin’ cyst up there, which was smooshing his sinus.  That explains the little *ahem* halitosis issues we were experiencing, not to mention the mouth breathing.  (Not that I”m peevish or anything.  Oh no.)

Pat saved his tooth (now cracked into three pieces).  I’m going to put it in a jar and keep it in the bathroom as a reminder to the girls that they need to take care of their teeth.  Anyone know what kind of solution to use to preserve teeth??

To make up for the tooth Pat lost, Girl 2 is generously working on popping out a molar.  She woke up screaming every two hours last night.  The screaming really gets to me.

— 6 —

Silly Girl 2: she already has more teeth than she can handle.  She lunged forward in her booster seat this morning, tipping her chair over and falling flat on her face.  She split open her inner top lip and got a little nose bleed.  Blood was gushing everywhere.  Poor baby.  As I comforted Girl 2 and got her cleaned up, Girl 1 would come by to see what was going on.  As soon as she saw blood, though, she would run away explaining, “The blood makes me sad.”

Once Girl 2 was finally feeling better, she toddled out of my sight for 2.5 seconds and I found her taking a nice, relaxing, recuperative fishing trip . . . in the toilet!

Fortunately, McDonald’s Fish Bites and Shamrock shakes make a delicious, nutritious Lenten lunch for overwhelmed moms.

— 7 —

I’m trying to add some exercise to my life.  Sometimes I make it to the gym in the morning.  Some days I go for a walk/job around the neighborhood.  When that doesn’t work, I set the girls to work in the sandbox and take a jaunt around . .. the back yard . ..  all 0.1 acres of it.  Around and around and around.  I used the Map My Walk app for iPhone, and this is what my route looks like:

Backyard route

NYC marathon, here I come!

Happy weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!