Monday, December 27, 2021

I’m Alive

​I’m alive!  Really, I didn’t die…or spend any time  in the hospital…or cut off my fingers disallowing me to type.  I have just been plain…well I don’t want to say lazy, but I just haven’t been posting.  Don’t get my wrong, I think about it… the depths of the night when all is quiet and I can’t sleep.  But when I wake up I’m going going going and it just doesn’t happen.  I promise to be better!   So let’s catch up a bit…and then I’ll talk about my weight loss efforts this month. 

December Museums and Fun

December was a busy month.   I had the normal work obligations but I did have some time off and we stayed busy on the weekends!

On the first weekend of the month we went to a Rural Heritage Museum and while I thought I would only be there for an hour, we spent 4 hours there.  

The next weekend was my birthday.   We had a few days off.  I did some errands on one day (yup…my name is officially changed in the most important places now).  And we went to Lancaster County, PA for a wee little getaway.   We hit some of the normal places but also did the Landis Valley Museum for a few hours.

The next weekend we celebrated Christmas with Jason’s parents on one day and on the other weekend day we roamed a bit locally and just enjoyed the sites.

The next weekend was Christmas (this last weekend).  and I had another four day weekend.  It was just as busy.  I spent a day with my mom.   Jason and I spend Christmas Eve together.  We roamed during the day and did our private celebration and gift exchange that evening.  Of course the pets got gifts too!

Christmas Day we went to my mom’s house.  We got there early to help prepare Christmas dinner/lunch.   And we got home that evening exhausted.    Sunday was spent relaxing and trying to not think about going back to work!   We went to the canal and walked for a few hours. The weather was delightful!!!

So we have stayed busy.    My ‘down time’ has been spent working on a new quilt.   Yes…I started a new quilt.  I started it on Black Friday.     It will be a version of a ‘grandmothers flower garden’.  I have the ‘flowers’ all made.  100 of them…and each one is hand sewn and takes about an hour.  (So now you know where my time has gone).    On Christmas Eve I laid all 100 on the floor and  arranged them in the order that they will be sewn together. (I didn’t want all my pink flowers in one corner…or all my orange fabrics clumped together elsewhere).   Now I am working on adding the white pieces between each ‘flower’ and putting it together.  

So you can see we have been busy!

Weight Loss

But what about my weight loss efforts?   Maybe I should say my weight loss NON-EFFORTS!  Yes, you read that right.  I’ve struggled and I kinda gave up.

I’m terms of my addiction.  I actually haven’t been doing to badly with that.  My mindset is in a better place! However, I have been struggling since vacation in October. I have been barely hanging on.  My birthday weekend  this mont followed by holidays was a combination that was not good.   I didn’t track anything and didn’t even think about calorie intake!   And yes there was cake…and apple dumplings…and pie….well you get the point.

So I am sitting on a weight gain!  Embarrassing.  But I’m determined to turn this around….and I have some plans formulating in my head.  One of which is that I am planning on doing another mile challenge in 2022.  It was fabulous for me in 2021.  I saw how my legs grew stronger..not just for biking but also in my hiking abilities.  So that is in the works (gonna officially sign up today).   Secondly, I will be switching to my new day planner at the end of this week and it has a section for habit tracking.   So I will be tracking my daily habits.   Right now I will be focusing on a few things:

1.  Tracking my food

2.  Calories 1400 or lower

3.  Exercise at least 5 days a week

4.  Step count…aiming right now for 5k but hope to up that

5. 64 ounces water bare minimum!

It really will be a back to the basics plan.    I KNOW that the basics work for me.  I just need to focus on them.  I am setting a weight loss goal also.  I am aiming to lose 1 pound a week.  That is a doable goal.   And since I am sitting at roughly 250 pounds, that will put me at 200 pounds by this time next year.   Sure, I would love to be at goal by this time next year. But slow and steady will work.  I would rather have a doable goal versus a goal that will bring me to failure!  So one pound a week it is!    Hmm…maybe I will just make it a simple 50 pounds for next year.  50 pounds in honor of my 2022 50th birthday!!  

I’m technically not waiting until the new year to start.  I am working today to make some changes.  Gearing up so to speak!   Starting to build those habits!!!

So here I am.  Alive and well.  Fatter and more miserable with my weight, but ready to make changes!  Now is the time!!

Thursday, December 02, 2021


It’s been a while since I wrote here.   I wish that I could say that my absence is due to the busy holiday season and no time.   And while it had been busy…and time has been crunched, that is not the reason.  I’ve been slipping in my weight loss journey.   You see, I’m an addict.  I have a serious food addiction and it has been slowly slipping out of control.

I had talked about food addictions for a while, but it wasn’t until one  Incident in 2007 that I was able to clearly see and understand the impetus behind my eating.     It all centered around a visit to a restaurant where I was usually able to eat relatively healthily.  But on that visit I chose to have a small piece of cake.  When I say small, I really mean small!  It was literally a one inch square.   I carried that morsel back to my table like it was a pot of gold.  I slipped that first bite into my mouth and I swear, I heard the angels sing!  It was pure heaven! I wanted more of that feeling!  I ate another bite..and another.   Soon that small piece of cake was gone.  But the angels had sang and I wanted to hear them again!  I went back for more cake and then pudding and pie and other desserts off that dessert bar.  I did it all in a futile effort to make the angels sing again.  Of course they didn’t sing…because through that 2007 incident I realized that The angels singing only happens on that first bite or two.  It’s the first bite of bliss that I am addicted too.  I know that…yet I keep eating to try to obtain that feeling.

I was doing really good before vacation.   I was slowly losing…and maintaining my weight on the weeks I didn’t lose.  But when I came back I began to struggle.  The best way to describe it is that the vacation opened the doors.  The food addiction angels had sang on my Vacation/honeymoon.   Getting back on track was difficult because I was chasing that food addiction.  

Ohh, I didn’t go totally off the rails at first.  I was half heartedly fighting it.  I was still sorta tracking.  I was still trying here and there.  But each day; my weak hold over my addiction wavered and slipped further and further out of my grasp.  I was never eating crazily.  I was just starting to look more toward the foods that I suspected (ok KNOW) would have a higher chance of giving me my food bliss/food high and thus make those angels sing.  This was all done subconsciously but regardless, it was a very tenuous hold over this addiction.  Thanksgiving weekend threw me over the edge into full addiction mode.  

I’m writing here and now that I am vowing to push this aside, to tamp these behaviors down and to regain control.  I wrote this on a Thursday morning…I’m not waiting until Monday.  Next week we have some time off work for my birthday.  Im not waiting until after that.  Now is the time.  

I don’t rightly know how.  Each morning this week I have vowed to keep it under control but then I find myself eating granola bars, macaroni and cheese (I got rid of the last of the leftovers so they wont tempt me today), chocolate chips, etc.   My hope is that the difference is that overnight  I actually realized that the addiction is out control again and needs to be stopped.

I spend time in prayer each day.  Up until recently part of my prayers was ‘to lose weight’.   Naturally this week I switched those prayers to ‘control over my food intake’.  (Which is what made me realize that the addiction was back).  It’s time for the battle to take place…and this battle is NOT in the kitchen…it’s in my head.

I’m stepping away from the clean intermittent fasting and going back to what I did for the last year.    Early morning I’m making my flavored/vitamin water.  Breakfast most likely won’t happen, simply because I don’t like to eat that early.  But it’s not taboo right now. Making it taboo only makes me want it more and/or makes me eat more at lunch.  I’ll revisit the clean fast after I get this addiction back in its box, contained and under control.

Whew….what a downer post.  But one I needed to write!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

I'm slacking!

 Ok, I am really slacking!  I could have sworn that I wrote this post....I'm telling you. I wrote it!  Ok, maybe I wrote it in my head.  But I just came online and was shocked to see it not here! I'm telling you.....

So about a week or so ago I had two things happen or rather brought to my attention that relate to my life and my healthy journey.  They are doctors advice to lose weight and setting goals.

The first is doctors advice.  I follow a channel on youtube. It is a guy and his wife is in the background and they banter back and forth.  We never see the wife.  HOWEVER, about a week ago we saw the wife in a very serious video.  She is roughly my age (48) and she was out grocery shopping and felt pain.  She had a suspected heart attack.  She spent 4 days in the hospital and they are still running tests to find out what is happening.   Their video was her story but very heavily into giving warning signs and advising people (women in particular) of heart issues. Women have different symptoms than men apparently....and women also at are higher risk when their estrogen is fluctuating wildly through perimenopause.  I watched the video and I was like "dude...just another reason to get my weight under control".  

But that still didn't spark me.  A few nights later I was just feeling really really dizzy.  I mentioned it to Jason and also mentioned that it had happened another evening (and I had a brief period of it since then for a third night).  We immediately checked my blood pressure and a few other things, and everything was normal.  But as I sat there worrying I was thinking, "My doctor is flat out going to have to put me on a different diet and whatnot in order to 'save my life"   Dramatic?   Yes.....very much so!  But this came right after that video that I watched!  But thinking that really made me think.......why am I not changing my diet NOW.  Why am I waiting under a doctor tells me that I have to change or I will die?

The other thing...the goal.  Someone, oddly enough the same person from the channel that posted that video that I mentioned earlier, commented on one of my videos.  They were saying "set goals".    I have resisted setting a weight loss goal.  I have set them in the past. I set goals like "I will lose 25 pounds by the time I get married"  (Yup...remember the 12 week challenge?? from this fall?)  I've done those challenges to myself many time!  And typically I start to slip up and as soon as I realize that I have no chance of making that goal, I feel like a failure and I give up.  Yup, that's what I do!   I give up and typically gain!     But I started to think.  I am not going to set any long term goal.  I am not going to say "MaryFran, you can be at your goal weight by such and such date!"  No!  I am setting a goal of 1 pound a week.  If I fail for that WEEK than I have the next week to try again!  

So those are my deep thoughts!  I have been doing ok with my weight loss efforts.  I've had a few things slip in (Reece's cups.......darn them!)  I have been able to maintain the clean fast for my intermittent fasting.  I've been consistently fasting about 16-17 hours each day. I've talked about pushing it longer, but right now I'm hungry when that 16-17 hour mark comes around.  So I'm just sitting back and relaxing with this for a while.  I don't want to be ravenous when I break my fast, because I know what I will do (or rather what I am capable of eating)!   So right now I'm just sitting right here at that 16 hour fast each day!   

Thursday, November 11, 2021

best laid plans

I was sure that this week was going to go as planned.   I was going to fast for 19 hours and have a five hour eating window.  I was going to exercise and ride that bike for at least 30 minutes each day.  It was non negotiable in my mind!

Except, well….I guess it was negotiable!

I did NOT fast for 19 hours a day. 

I did NOT ride that exercise bike.

I am disappointed with myself. But I am going to focus on what I did do.

I DID do a clean fast for about 17.5 hours each day.   

I DID walk after work each day.

I DID track my food and keep it close to 1400-1500 (or less). calories each day.

my Week may not have gone as planned.  But I did make good positive steps.

Monday, November 08, 2021

A new Week

 My weight is NOT going down.  I'm still on the struggle bus.   I am kinda just floundering! I ate too much each weekend day. 

Ok, now that I got that first statement out of the way, lets talk about some of my thoughts and plans.  Good old fashioned bullet style entry.

* My weekend eating was a bit higher than I would have desired.  I at between 1800 and 2000 calories each day.  Not utterly horrible, but definitely something that I need to fix.

* Last week I finished a book called Fast Feast Repeat.  It talked more about the proper way to fast and different variations.   It opened my eyes and really went well with the book that I recently read that made me think more about my plan and what I need to be doing.   I haven't been REALLY fasting since I have been drinking my flavored waters in the morning.  I made a decision to really a CLEAN fast.  Only water during my fasting hours! 

*  I had in the past been doing a 16:8 intermittent fast.  To explain what that is, I basically was fasting (or I thought I was fasting) for 16 hours and then I was allowing myself to eat within an 8 hour window.    It was a natural switch for me.  HOwever, after reading about the fast, I am wanting to go more toward an OMAD fast.  I'm not quite ready to go that far.  BUT, This week I am going to try a 19:5 fast.  So I will fast for 19 hours.  Basically, I will eat a light lunch/snack at my last break during my work day, then eat dinner like normal (which for us is around 7PM).  

* By eating on my last break versus my lunch break, I will have the lunch break hour free to ride the exercise bike.  No excuses!

*  I will continue tracking my food.  I can still do a lot of damage in 5 hours.  So tracking will continue.  At least for the foreseeable future.  The books all say that you don't need to track with intermittent fasting and the books even go on to talk about how your body will adjust and you will be able to eat more intuitively and mindfully.  I sure hope so!  That would be amazing!

* I am not yet sure how I will handle fasting on the weekends.  I know people do fast and still hike and whatnot, but I am not yet sure.  I may use my weekends and drop it back to a 16:8 plan.  We shall see. That is up in the air.  I've got a few days until the weekend rolls around where I have to have my plan in place!

SO there you have it.  The news that my weight loss journey is stalled and my thoughts and plans for this week to unstick it!  :-)

Friday, November 05, 2021

Vegetable Soup

 We were obviously needing healthy foods.  Our bodies were screaming for it.  It was obvious when we went grocery shopping.  Our unplanned purchases were all either fruit or vegetables.    We were craving healthy foods and we listened.   We planned to make a big pot of vegetable soup and boy was it delicious!

Vegetable Soup  

For a printable copy click here

1 lb Beef -Either a roast or stew meat (If it is stew meat just make sure to cook it slow and long for  lb tenderness of your meat)  

1 lrg can Diced Tomataoes (Italian seasoned)

6-8 potatoes, peeled and diced 

4-8 cups of Beef Broth

3 pounds frozen vegetables 

Salt and Pepper to taste

1.  Cook the beef until tender.   Cut the beef into bite sized pieces.   

2. In large pan (or crockpot) place beef, potatoes, tomatoes and frozen vegetables, salt and pepper.  Add beef broth until broth covers vegetables.  You will want the broth to be a half inch to an inch above the vegetables.  Adjust the amount of broth according to the amount of vegetables that were added and to your individual preferences.

3.  Cook on med-high for 45 minutes on the stove (in crockpot, cook for 6 hours low)

4.  Serve and Enjoy

This soup hit the spot!  The weather has turned cooler and the vegetables were exactly what my body was demanding!   A win win!

For More Recipes click here


Monday, November 01, 2021

November Already

Seriously, where is time going?  How can it already be November!   Time is just rolling at one heck of a fast clip!   But here we are at the beginning of November!   The last week of October went by and before I knew it I was stepping back on the scales for my weigh in.  Another week in the books!

What did we do

My weigh in week started off with a weekend.  We were busy with errands on the weekend. And as usu enjoyed our weekend together.  We got a few Halloween decorations up and carved our pumpkins.

We did also get in a walk outside.  But it was a quiet relaxing weekend.   On the one day I totally crashed and ended up napping on the couch for like four hours. I guess my body really needed it!

Of course the weekend ended way to fast and the work week rushed in and life got back to crazy.  I am still working with some new agents and leading a training class….so my days are non stop.  Even my official ‘breaks’ are not really breaks as I am trying to catch up on emails and whatnot …things I can’t do when I am leading a training class.   The week seemed long to me for some reason….but there wasn’t anything horrible about it…just busy.   And like normal, I was ready for my Friday weigh in…because it meant that the weekend was upon us 

Living Healthy

Finally, after vowing to get back to being healthy habits after vacation I actually made some efforts.  It only took me two to three weeks!  (Which is actually shameful!)

I started by tracking my food.  My calories were NOT where I like and need them to be.   My calories were in the 1600 calorie range.  Which for me is either barely maintaining or slightly gaining.  So not exactly perfect…but my food was tracked!  I’m calling that a win!

As normal we walked every night after work (well except for the one stormy rainy night).  I also hopped back onto the exercise bike during my breaks on a few of my days.  To my shame I didn’t do it every day….but I did it three times…which is  better than none!  I also didn’t do my  10 miles that I was averaging before vacation. But I still rode.  With losing my breaks due to training, I call three days of shorter mileage a win!

So what happened on the scales?  Why I went up.  My weight popped up.  Some of that is due to the ‘mi that ick’ and that’s ok….but I can’t blame my weight entirely on that because I know my calories were a bit high! (For my body).

A new week for Weight Loss

I know that I wasn't entirely on track for weight loss this past week.  And that’s ok.  I am more proud of the fact that I started to take the small steps to reign myself in. Sooo, this week I am committed to expanding my efforts.  More miles on the exercise bike and lowering my calories to where they NEED to be so that I can get back to being a loser!

It all boils down to what do I really want.  If I want to be thin. If I want to be healthy, I need to take the steps to make myself healthy.  I can pray for it…I can talk about it…I can dream and lot and plan.  But if I don’t actually take the action to make it a reality, nothing will happen! If I want it badly enough, then I need to put in the effort!  This week is all about effort!!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2021


I had a super productive week!   But…I didn’t set the world on fire with my weight loss efforts!

My productivity was out of this world.  I took care of my health insurance. I added Jason to this years policy…then took care of re-enrollment for next year (open enrollment period).  I ordered certified copies of our marriage certificate.  (Just got them in the mail, so I have to scan that and send that to my work so that they can see that Jason and I truly are married for the insurance).   I have started the process to change my name with social security. Once I get my new updated SS card I can move on to updating my drivers license.  (SS needs to be done and in the system for 48 hours before going to MVA).   I did all sorts of paperwork!  I also finally finished the crazy quilt top that I pieced last year! (I didn’t quilt this one)

I also then picked up a bin that I have been carting around for ohhhh…the last 25 years!   It has all the pieces cut for a double wedding ring quilt.   I had also started to piece it together.  But a double wedding ring pattern had lots of tiny pieces so it was slow going.  I pulled that out and I’ve been working on that.  I will be going through the whole process of hand quilting this one…so this is a LONG term project!

I also finished up and mailed my miniature dollhouse quilts that I made for a swap.  I honestly love making miniature quilts.  It just makes me happy.  (And it’s pretty quick going….I can usually finish one in a day or two…not the mo the of work in a full size quilt!)

So you can see how productive I was!  Crazy productive!  And I love that feeling!  But I failed at this week!

So let’s talk about what I didn’t do!

- I didn’t track one bite of food I ate!

- I didn’t ride the exercise bike even once!

Those two things are items that I know I need to do in order to be healthy and lose weight.  Yet I just ignored them!

I did try to cut down on my sweet treats!  I tried to get back to eating lots of veggies at lunch.   I tried to make sure I was eating a bit more nutritiously.  But overall, my efforts were lackluster and mostly missing!

it’s a new week….the perfect time to start over!!!

Monday, October 18, 2021

False Start

  We got back from our vacation and I decided to NOT officially weigh in!  Ok, I actually decided this fact before we even left for vacation!  I just knew that I wanted to give my body some time to recover and recoup!  OK, and maybe...just maybe I knew that I was going to be probably indulging on our vacation!

I did indulge!  I went in with a belief that I was going to stay the straight and narrow with my eating.  But no, I indulged!  (and in fairness, I knew it!)  Come on now...I had wedding cake...from my own wedding/elopement

I planned to get right back on track when I got home!  I was determined!   On Monday was back to work and I stepped on the scales! was just what I expected!  I gained 5 pounds...on the dot!   But I was back on track, right?

Nope.  I struggled all week.  We had brought home the leftover fudge.  So I ate that.  We had brought home the leftover yogurt covered pretzels, so of course I finished them up!   I also had leftover makings for S'mores.   I discovered that you can make a mean s'more in the air fryer!   So yeah, they went down the hatch also!   I tracked NOTHNG.   I DID focus on eating veggies at lunch and tried to up my fiber (maybe if just to negate the sugar I was eating).  

I also did not get right back on the exercise bike when I returned.  I have 500 miles to add to my mileage by the end of the year since I upped my mileage requirements to 2500.  I rode the bike not ONCE since coming home.  I was having some issues with my foot and I was trying to rest it a bit...but that sure sounds like an excuse doesn't it??   I also am once again reminded about how much good the bike and all those miles did for me.  My legs never once on vacation felt heavy and horrible.  My legs felt like superwoman legs!  Strong and capable!  (my foot...well that is just an old issue that I struggle with...).

Luckily, my body regulated a BIT.  By my official weigh in day, I was showing that I was down by 2 pounds.  I'll take it....especially since I probably didn't deserve it!

So no more.  This is the line in the sand.....Serious healthy pursuits from here on out! 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Vacation Recap

So vacation 2021 is behind us.   That is so sad!   We struggled with getting back to real life.  Ok, we were ok with returning to our life and our apartment…we struggled with getting back to work!   But we did what we needed to do!  However, I’m not ready to let vacation go yet!   So l am going to relive vacation through this blog by recapping our vacation!

Day 1

We arrived in the New River Gorge area after traveling for about 5 hours.   We had left Mertz the cat at home but we were traveling with the bird, so we checked  into our Airbnb as soon as we could.   While kiwi settled in, we unpacked and got ourselves situated.  It was a lazy day.  We ran a few errands, such as going to the grocery store to get the perishable items that we needed for our home cooked breakfasts.  We also drove to Cathedral Falls.  We had chosen that as our spot for our elopement but had never even been there in person!  So we went to check it out!!

It was a pretty chill day.  And even though we were both 100% sure of our plans, we were both full of nervousness about the huge step we were taking the next day.

Vacation Day 2
We got married!!!!  I shared this the other day in Post….but if you missed it…on October 3, 2021 I got married at Cathedral Falls!
It was the first full day of our time there so after our nuptials, we changed our clothes and we headed out to see the sights!!!  One of the first things we always do is to go to the visitor center and check out the Canyon Rim overlook and check in with the park rangers about any closures or whatnot!  The view from the overlook is always a good one!
We next headed to Thurmond, WV.  This is an abandoned coal town.  We have been there before but I had found information about an abandoned church that we had of course we went back and hit up that trail!  And since we were in Thurmond, we walked through the town and explored it again!   (We always see new things on each visit!!). You can see a video of this visit to Thurmond here.

We did a few smaller things…stuff like checking out the location that commemorates where Hank Williams was found dead. (Hey…I was there…may as well visit it!!).  I also stopped and picked up a surprise.   We got married…so we needed a wedding cake right??

Day 3
On this day our main activity was in finally visiting the abandoned coal mine of Nuttalburg.   The road to the lower area had been closed on all of our recent visits and we had always said ‘we will wait’.  Before we went this year I vowed to hike in, even if it took me all day!   Luckily for us the road was unofficially open!  So we hiked to the top buildings and then drove to the lower trails and buildings!   It was still a full day of activity as we hit all the trials and explored it fully!

Day 4
The weather was supposed to be a bit warm this day, so we headed to Beckley, WV!   What was the attraction in Beckley?  The Coal Mine Exhibition is what drew us to Beckley!  This was a fabulous visit…well worth every penny that we spent!!  The exhibition can be broken into three parts.  The museum section which displayed all kinds of artifacts from coal mines.  The second aspect is the coal mine village that shows the buildings and life in a coal mine town/village.  And the third is the actual tour that takes you into an old coal mine on a coal tram.  The guides were excellent and it was such a neat experience!
Whilst in Beckley we decided to drive out to see Grandview.  This is another area of the National Park…and we had never visited!  The main overlook afforded great views!  But we also found the trails to be neat and full of awesome nature!!!

Day 5
On this day we headed out to hike again.  We decided to explore the abandoned Brooklyn mine.  So we laced on our hiking boots and started to hike.  Because like most of these abandoned mines to get to them (at least parts of them) you will be hiking a few miles!  It was a pretty hike…and we did reach the actual mine.  The buildings at this level were in total ruins and there wasn’t too much to explore as they were fenced off because they were in that bad of shape.  But it was a great hike and still a fun exploration!

When we were done with the Brooklyn mine Trail Hike and exploration we headed down to the nearby river access….there were more trails down there…and there were more remnants of the Brooklyn Mine!  So more exploring!!!

Day 6

We encountered rain on this day.   But we were lucky. It would pour while we were hiking and under tree cover, but would literally clear up almost each and every time we stepped out from under the tree cover to view an overlook!  It was amazing!   We hiked the endless wall trail.  This is an amazing trail!  Neat trail…awesome views!!

On this day we also picked up a few shorter trails that we had not previously completed!  And of course we stopped to view any available overlook and small thing that caught our attention!

Day 7

This was our last full day in the area.  We had a lot of smaller things that we wanted to complete.  We also had a few places that we wanted to go.  So this day was full of small stops.  It rained off an on…but once again, most of the rain occurred whilst driving and we honestly only had to wear rain jackets at one stop!
we stopped at Kanawah Falls.

We stopped on last time at Cathedral Falls (for this trip…I’m sure we will visit this canyon waterfall each tim we are in the area since it is where we got married!)

We stopped at Hawknest State Park and checked out the overview, area and gift shop.

Wr stopped back at the Canyon Rim at the visitor center to see the amazing fog that had descended

We drive the Fayetteville Station Road again (we had already driven it once or twice earlier in the week)

And we stopped at a variety of stores and places.  We vowed to enjoy every minute on this last full day and to not think about vacation ending!!!

We spent our last night in the area and the next morning we packed up and drove home.  Kiwi did great with traveling but was happy to get home to his big sister Mertz!    We unpacked on Saturday evening and then on Sunday we made the rounds and had a fun day surprising and shocking our families when we told them that we had eloped!!!   It was an amazing week!!!!  From the first minute to the last we had fun!!!

Monday, October 11, 2021

A confession: I have been keeping a huge secret!!!

 Soooo I have been keeping a secret!  A HUGE secret!   This secret was the biggest one I kept and it about near killed me!   Seriously!  I didn't tell my sister in law.  IN fact I lied by omission and ok, kinda lied flat out to them to keep this secret!  I have apologized and since let them in on the secret!!!

What is the secret??????    IF you want to watch the video and figure it out....follow the link here! (But don't worry if you don't want to watch the video....I'll tell you below!)

THere have been hints!    I set up a goal to lose weight by a certain date....12 weeks out.  That was my 12 week mark from my wedding!  I wanted to get to the weight that I was when I met Jason.  (which I didn't reach, but I was closer than I was when I started).

I even shared the dress that I bought for this special event!!  I called it a Frugal Find....and it was frugal but it was much more important that being a frugal find!

Jason and I planned it out and we got married!  Yes.  I got married on October 3rd of this year!    NO one seemed to have a clue in our families!   And we kept it a secret the whole way through our vacation and waited until we got home to share the news with anyone!!!!!!  

Friday, October 08, 2021

A new plan to Lose weight

Things with my weight loss journey have been full of ups and downs and more recently lots of downs.  I have been totally discouraged.  I do the exact same thing I have done in the past and there is no progress....or rather progress is in fits and starts.  It is totally a two steps forward two steps back type of deal.  I knew that something has to change!

Looking for a change in my weight loss plan

I knew that I had to make a change in my weight loss plan and efforts.  So I started to research.  I started to look at various plans.  I checked out the whole 30 and the possibility of eating pretty much ONLY whole foods and nothing processed.  I looked into Keto and the thought of pretty much totally eliminating carbohydrates.  I thought about tweaking my existing calorie in versus calories out routine.   I seriously started to look at fasting on a larger scale than my 16:8 plan that I typically follow.   There were so many options!  I knew I had to research more because I know that I don't want an 'all or nothing plan'.  I don't want a plan that is so restrictive that I can't sustain it for life.   I kept digging into research and eventually I stumbled upon the book, The Obesity Code by Jason Fung.  This book has been out for a while, it was published in 2016, but for some reason it hadn't come across my radar as something I wanted to read until just now.

I started to read and almost immediately the guilt and self hatred toward myself started to fall away.  What am I talking about?  The feelings of being a total failure due to my dismal weight loss progress.  It is hard to not beat yourself up on this journey when you are not losing and instead gaining or at the least maintaining.  BUT, the author talks about how weight is regulated by our bodies.  It would be foolish to not think that our bodies don't regulate it.  Our bodies regulate everything and usually via the hormones that course through our body.  Therefore, weight problems may have been caused by myself (which I do accept full responsibility) but my prolonged issue with obesity and my struggles to get this weight off is most likely due to a hormonal imbalance within my body.  The relief I felt was intense.  I have been beating myself up over what I have perceived as my own personal failure.  Encouraged, I read on.

The author contends that the hormone responsible for weight regulation is insulin. He sited numerous studies that indicate this fact.  Furthermore, the more insulin we make in our body, the more insulin resistant we become, which just causes our bodies to create more since we need more due to the fact that we are resistant (or immune).  The more we produce the greater the changes of weight gain!

Pretty simple right? Just fix your insulin levels right?  Not quite, this is where the author states we as a society has gone wrong.  We get fixated on one facet of this equation....and we forget that there are many facets for getting this hormone under control 

He talks about the keto plan which lowers carbs by strict restrictions. He agrees that it works but what about the other facets that cause our insulin levels to rise?   Intermittent fasting works also because it gives our bodies prolonged periods without food and food is what stimulates our bodies to produce insulin.  So fasting works too!  But what about the other pieces of the puzzle.   Calorie counting?  What about that?  Well yes, that works to reduce the insulin levels.....remember everything we eat causes our bodies to make insulin in response.  So reducing the amount of food through calorie counting and caloric restriction works great also.   But it doesn't account for the whole picture!

The all encompassing plan to lose weight

So I have gleaned 7 different tips and ideas that I will be incorporating into my weight loss plan:

1.  Reducing sugar, including artificial sweeteners.  This is pretty simple...cut back on my sugar intake.  NO more candy at my desk while I'm working! I have been indulging and it fits in my caloric budget but do I really need that little square of pure sugar?  Probably not!  In a perfect world it should be reduced to none, but I am aiming for sustainable, not perfection.  Artificial sweeteners are better in some regards, but they still cause our bodies to produce more insulin.  So they are going away also.  My biggest offender for that is the flavored drink packs.  I drink at least two of those a day!  I plan on reducing that for now and getting back to NONE and drinking just plain straight water for most of my day (right now I'm about 50/50).  I guess this means that the starbursts days are over!

2.  Reduce Refined and Processed foods -  Food that is processed needs to be eliminated.  When food is processed it loses so many nutrients and adds a variety of other things (sugar for one) and it's just not good!  Flour is a great example.  White flour is so highly processed that it contains almost NO nutritional value.  Wheat flour is only marginally better.   Cutting everything out may be not feasible for me and my lifestyle, but I can certainly reduce! 

3.  Moderate My Protein Intake:    I am going to be aiming for 20-30% of my daily food to be protein based.  

4.  Increase Natural Fats - Natural fats (from nuts for example) are good for us.  They do NOT promote insulin production and they have other benefits in our body.   Eat the GOOD fats!

5.  Increase Consumption of fiber!   The author talks about fiber as the 'antidote' to sugar.  He talks about how many processed foods have removed the we have taken away the antidote!   Not good!   But that isn't what made me sit back and say "aha!"   I was brought back to my days in weight watchers.  Back to the old days when we didn't just put the information in an app.  We used a physical slider and we could clearly see that the FIBER was a big component (at least it was when I had great success with weight watchers!).   I was eating a very high fiber diet and I lost a LOT of weight.  But somewhere along the way I got away from watching my fiber consumption!   It's time to bring that back!  I"m not sure I am ready to add in a fiber supplement, but it is definitely something I am looking at.

6.  Fasting. I already do  intermittent fasting but the author talks about breaking that insulin resistance.  We need to break  the cycle of your body needing more and more and more insulin.  He claims that the way to break that cycle is to fast.  He actually recommends a 24-36 hour fast.  That will give your body a prolonged time without food...and by having no food your body will not be stimulated to produce insulin....which should help break that cycle.   I will not be doing very long fasts.  But I am going to be trying to OMAD method of fasting to get a bit more time between my meals.  OMAD is better known as One Meal A day.   I will be eating only one time a day....and I'm aiming to do this on my week days while I am at work.   We shall see how it goes and either increase or decrease after I try it.

7.  I know that quantity of food is a big issue for me, so I will continue my calorie counting.  I know that I could still do a LOT of damage in that one meal a day.  I know that I will always need to keep a handle on how much food I eat.  So I will continue calorie counting.   I know my weak spot and calorie counting helps me combat that weakness!

SO there you have it.  My new plan.  It is very similar to what I have already done in the past.  I have already switched to more natural whole foods and tried to lower my carbohydrates.  That has been happening all along.  But it is time to get serious about it and REALLY work on these items!  I'm excited to see how this will work for me!!!!! Wish me luck!

Monday, October 04, 2021

Victorious Failure

 Have you ever had a time where you were victorious but still a failure?   That is where I am at right now!   while back I threw down the gauntlet!  I was determined to lose weight. I was going to embark upon a 12 week challenge/plan.  I vowed to use the upcoming 12 weeks to slay the pounds from my body.  I came out swinging and I was going to take no prisoners!   

I actually started the challenge out so strong. I was smashing my goals.  I had set a overall goal to lose 2 pounds a week and I was meeting my weekly requirements.  I was on fire!  Nothing could stop me! And then I hit the 3rd week and I hit a bit of a road block.   Yes, week three was not as successful!   I was determined to not let one rough week get me down.  So I kept pushing forward.  And I recovered and lost nicely the following week or two.  Then I hit another rough patch. And so the challenge went through the first six weeks.  Two steps forward one step back.  I was still progressing so I didn't worry about it!

But then the second half of the challenge came....the last 6 weeks.   And oh my, the rough patch started to settle in like a burr on the back of a donkey!   I would have momentary glimpses of loss but then I would settle into weeks of maintenance.  My weeks played out with mostly maintains but an occasional loss and even an occasional gain.   It was frustrating.  It was infuriating.  It was disheartening!  I felt like an absolute failure!   I wanted to crawl under a rock  and hide, because you know that chronicling a weight loss journey on a website and on youtube is embarrassing when you are not being totally successful! I was such a failure! 

And then one day in the shower whilst in the midst of my pity party had an epiphany!  This thought was profound.    I started this journey and vowed to lose 24-25 pounds.  I knew at that point that there was no way that I was going to reach that goal, short of developing some made sickness that caused me to lose an overabundance of weight or without cutting off my arm or leg!   Neither option of course is or was desirable.  So I knew that I was doomed for failure.  But then I realized.  I may not reach the 25 pounds, but how much DID I lose?    Sure, I failed at my attempt to lose 25 pounds....but did I succeed at losing ANY weight?   Did I lose anything?

At that point I realized that I was not a failure.  My body just chose to lose it in a different time frame than my mind wanted me to lose.   I was actually victorious because at the end of the challenge I am able to say that I did lose weight!  I lost more than 12 pounds!    

I could have continued to dwell on the fact that I didn't meet my goal and thus was a failure.  But I am choosing to dwell on the fact that I am down more than 12 pounds! That is more weight than most people lose in a year!  That is more weight than I would have lost had I give up and not even tried.   Those pounds lost make me victorious indeed!!!!

Friday, October 01, 2021

Foodie Friday : Taco Bake

 Sometimes in life we need a quick and easy dinner and there is nothing like the Taco Bake Casserole.  This is an easy alternative to the typical tacos.  It is the crunch, the flavor and the cheese all baked into one easy to make dish.   It really is a tasty treat!

Taco Bake Ingredients

Chili Cheese Fritos

1 lb hamburger

1 pckg taco seasoning

1 can cheddar Cheese soup

1/4 cup milk

1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese


  1. 1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x9 pan with a nonstick cooking spray. 
  2. 2 Brown hamburger in a skillet over medium heat. When meat is cooked thoroughly, add the taco seasoning and water. Mix and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. 3  Spread Chili cheese Fritos in a layer over the prepared 9x9 pan. 
  4. 4 Pour hamburger over the fritos and spread evenly. 
  5. 5 In a small saucepan, mix cheddar cheese soup and milk. Heat over medium heat until warm. 6 Pour the cheese soup over the hamburger mixture. 
  6. 7 Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese over the Cheddar cheese soup. 
  7. 8 Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  8. 9  Serve immediately. Can be served with your favorite taco toppings.
This is truly a tasty dish.  It is a bit high in sodium and you can actually taste the saltiness, but it is still delicious!

To find a printable version of this recipe, click here

Monday, September 27, 2021

2021 is over....kinda

I am through with 2021!   Done!  No more!

What in the world am I talking about?  I am talking about the 2021 challenge that I embarked upon this year!   Yes, at the beginning of the year I decided that I would be trying to tackle the task of completing 2021 miles in 2021!  Any type of miles counted.  Swimming....hiking...walking...running...biking!  The challenge amounted to 5.5 miles per day!  I was stoked and ready to rumble with my miles!

It didn't take long for me to hit that wall!  I hit the wall of impossibility within 2 weeks!  I was feeling completed daunted by the miles.  Seriously, I was feeling like I was going to fail by the thirteenth of January!  My gut instinct at that time was telling me to quit.  I was literally thinking "MaryFran, you are going to fail so you may as well stop now and not waste your time even trying."    But something clicked within me.  Something made me sit back and say.  "NO....keep going and do NOT look at the full mileage you need.  Instead focus on the 5.5 miles you need EACH DAY!"   Only focus on one day at a time.  5.5 miles is doable....easily doable on that exercise bike!

So that is what I did. Each day I focused on only what I needed to achieve that day!  5.5 miles, 5.5 miles, 5.5 miles.  Wash, rinse and repeat!  I missed very few weekdays but weekends were a bit sporadic, so I started to up my mileage on the week days to account for any miles that I may miss due to life or sickness.  I started to work up a bank of overage miles.  But I didn't let up.   After a month or two I began to focus on getting 7 miles a day...then 8 miles a day. ....then 10 miles a day.  I was racking up the miles and my end goal of 2021 miles was spinning toward me on that exercise bike! 

I am so very proud to announce that this past week I reached the 2021 mile mark!  I have propelled myself 2021 miles this year!  I did it in less than 9 months!  I totally rocked out this goal!

That means that I have FINALLY earned the right to wear the tee shirt that I got when I signed up for the challenge!  

So what is in the future?  I am concerned about the fact that without the 2021 challenge that I will just fade back into an existence of no exercise.  I don't want that.  I can tell how much the biking has helped me along.  Hiking is no longer painful and has actually turned fun! 

So I am announcing the desire to actually make it to 2500 miles in the year 2021!  (but I'm wearing my shirt now because I earned that puppy!)

Friday, September 24, 2021

Do You : Make Peace with Your Pace

I have been really struggling of late with my weight loss journey.  This weight loss journey has been incredibly difficult.  It has been full of ups and downs and It is so difficult to not compare myself to others and to lament in the fact that I am still on this seesaw of emotions and weight.  But this week in the midst of my despair, I realized that I have to be my own person and make peace with my own pace for this weight loss Journey.  This is so true not just for weight loss…but for some other things in life that have been getting to me.


Do You

I have been on this weight loss journey for a very long time.  To say that I have kept blinders on and only focused on my own journey would be a complete lie.  It is human nature to look outward to other people that are on similar journeys.   In fact, looking outward is great because it affords us the opportunity to gather inspiration in other peoples successes and it allows us to learn from the mistakes that other people make.   Looking outward allows us to find accountability in places that we may never have known.    But looking outward also opens the door to comparisons.

Comparisons in a weight loss journey can be a landmine.  When we begin to compare ourselves we will begin to fall short.  Because someone will always be doing it better at some point.  Sure, you may be on top of the world and being successful this week….this month…this year. But what happens when that day comes and you are struggling and someone else is doing better.  Will it derail you?  Will it cause you to stumble off of the path that your journey is taking you on?  If it does, then you need the reminder to DO YOU!  Weight loss is an individual journey.  What works for one person won’t work for another.   What is a great plan for my lifestyle and happiness would totally not work for someone else.  And due to over abundant variety of differences within each person, we will all complete this journey at a different pace. 

Make Peace with Your Pace

I am on this weight loss journey and I am incredibly frustrated at the pace in which I am losing.  I totally want to snap my fingers and have all of this weight disappear!  I want to lose the weight overnight.  I know that isn’t realistic….so how about 2 pounds a week and be done with the losing aspect of our weight loss journey.   But that is not how my body and my sustainable plan is working for me.  My body is choosing to lose the weight much more slowly.  My body is choosing to cling to every ounce of weight and is determined to make me have to wrangle each pound away from my frame.  And while it is frustrating, I have to accept that this is my pace.  I can be frustrated all the time or I can accept it and keep wrangling that weight.    I am tired of being frustrated!   I need peace


This Do you is not just for weight loss.  I am having some situations at work.  It has been difficult for me to sit back and say “well so and so is doing this and had this happen.”  It is easy to be frustrated with the events that are happening.   But I need to sit back and say “I am doing me.  I am being the best person, worker and employee that I know how to be.  If that is not enough, then I can sleep at night knowing that I ‘DID ME” to the best of my ability.”   I need to make peace with the pace of my employment.  I would LOVE to be promoted and have tried and put my best foot forward.  I  DID ME to the best of my ability and for some reason, it isn’t meant to be at this time.  It is time to make peace with my pace.  Sitting, dwelling and comparing myself to other people is not helping me any.  I need to make peace. 


It’s not easy.  I am overwhelmed with emotions about my work and the events happening.  I am overwhelmed with frustration about my weight loss journey.   But I will accept it as what it is.  I will keep putting my best foot forward and continue to “do you” because ultimately, it’s not what the scales say.  It’s not what some random person says about a promotion (even though everyone that knows me at my job is shocked that I don’t get…considering I’ve already done a lot of the work for that position).  It’s not about anything other than the fact that I have been true to myself!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Time for change

 It is time for change!  Big or little, I don't know yet!   But this weight loss journey has been full of ups and downs and lots of changes along the way and I think that another change is imminent! But what changes are coming?  

Weekly Weigh In

Let me start with my weekly weigh in.  I officially weigh in on Fridays and I weighed in at the same weight that I was last week.  To the ounce.  I have been maintaining for the last few weeks.  It is NOT for lack of trying.  I am eating within a caloric range that should have me losing mad weight in a healthy manner.  But it is just not working.   Furthermore, it is seriously depressing and disheartening!  I can't tell you how many tears I've cried recently over this journey.   Sure, I know; a maintain is a victory.  Still being here and present is a victory.  But it's a shallow victory and not one that is bolstering me for the journey still ahead of me!


So what changes am I going to make?  I'm not exactly sure.  I simply know that what I am doing right now is NOT working.  Sure, I'm losing weight here and there.  But it is in fits and starts.  I will have a week where my calories intake is not that bad and I gain.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason.   It is making me look deeper and I came up with a few different thoughts.

**  I am cheating on my plan and have no willpower.  Even as I write this, I know that that is not the case.  I am quite honest with myself and the food that I put into my daily food/calorie tracker.   My calories that I report are what I am eating!

** My calories in versus calories out plan is no longer a plan that is working for me.  This made me wonder if I should go back to trying Weight Watchers.  I lost a heck of a lot of weight years ago on WW.  In fact, I made it to lifetime status with the program.  However, I regained and while I tried to lose with the program I needed a change so I stepped away.   More recently, in early 2020 I rejoined was right before the pandemic and I stopped shortly after the pandemic reared it's ugly head and went back to calorie counting.   

**I have learned valuable things.  Complex carbs are my enemy.....where my body needs to be in terms of calories for optimal weight loss.....etc.  Shouldn't I be able to come up with a plan that is satisfying to my soul and my body??

** Exercise is good for my fitness levels.  My body needs exercise.  But I know that weight is lost in the kitchen and not the gym.

So where does my thoughts lead me?  It is leading me to reading books and researching.  It is leading me to look for a happy medium and a long term solution to my problems.  I will any fad or crazy diet plan.  That is not sustainable.  My goal is health and that is my first priority.  BUt I'm looking....I am searching....I am reading.   

I am currently reading a book that has made me feel better about where I am and my frustration levels.  It is in the opening chapters but it makes a lot of sense and I am hopeful that it will give me lots of amazing insight for getting back on track in a way that works for my life and my body!   I'm still reading though!  

Stay tuned....change is coming.  It has to.  For me to continue to do the same thing in this weight loss journey is sheer madness.  It's not working...which means that SOMETHING has to change if I want to change!

Friday, September 17, 2021

Foodie Frugal Friday: Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

Is this a frugal Friday?  Or is this a Foodie Friday?  Or is it just a random post on a Friday?   There is just too many decisions!   I can’t handle the pressure!  Haha.  But one thing for sure, there is no pressure or stress when making this recipe!  It’s super easy and delicious!  Oh and did I mention that it is healthy?

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

This recipe is light and tasty.  We enjoy this meal as a lighter fare.  The filling is very easy to make and I use a frozen pie shell which further reduces the cost!  But you know what, I hate having to scroll through tons of paragraphs to get to the recipe…so here goes!


1 9 inch frozen pie shell

1 tbs olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion 

1 1/4 ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 tbs  Dijon mustard

3 eggs (to save calories you can do one egg and two egg whites)

10 oz frozen broccoli, thawed and chopped

1 tap oregano

dash salt and pepper.

1.  Preheat oven to 360°

2. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the chopped onions until translucent 

3. In a large bowl combine; ricotta cheese, eggs, Dijon mustard, cheddar cheese and spices.  Mia until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

4.  Food in onions and broccoli.

5.  Pour ricotta/broccoli mixture into pie shell.

6.  Bake at 375° for 35-45 minutes.  The quiche should be golden brown

7.  Let the quiche set for 10 minutes until set up.   Cut and serve.

 To get a printable version of this recipe you can follow this link.  

The frugal aspect of Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

So you can see that this recipe is easy , tasty and won’t break the calorie bank!  That alone is a win, but let me also say that this recipe is frugal also!  I added up the ingredients..using Aldi prices. 

Ricotta cheese $1.89

Dijon mustard $0.95 …but since we only use Amal portion of the bottle I counted it was 10 cents.

Cheddar cheese $2.85…but I used less than half of the bag….so counted it as $1.20

Frozen Broccoli $0.95

pie crist 1.75  (I think that package that I found when pricing it out may have included 2 crusts, but I wasn’t sure so I am counting the whole price!)

Eggs $0.95 for a dozen…but I used three.  I counted it as 25 cents

Onions, spices and olive oil I counted as 40 cents as the cost of those staples on the kitchen is negligible!

That brings the total cost of this dish to $6.54.  This dish serves 4   Typically we each eat 1/4 of the recipe, That makes the total cost per person to be between $1.64.   Tell me where anyone can eat for that?   That is frugal for sure!!!   Even if you are super hungry and eat two servings (which still won’t be horrible for your calorie count) you are still only just over three dollars!   Frugal I tell ya!!

This recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Quiche is a winner on so many fronts.  The tastiness of the recipe is the first win.  But when you realize how easy it is to prepare and the fact that it is such a low budget option, you can’t help but get excited!   We have been eating this recipe for a few years and I am sure we will continue for many more!  To see more recipes,  check our my Recipe page

Monday, September 13, 2021


 My weight loss journey really seems to have a mind of its own.  It’s like some monster in my life and quite frankly, I’m sick of it!

I try…. I make healthy choices most of the time.  I remain cognizant of my calorie intake.  I track my food. I am active.  I am working this plan and I KNOW that for the average person that they would be losing weight like crazy.   

Seriously…this last work week I kept my calorie count right at 1400-1500 calories.  I spent time on the bike every day, we walked every evening, I hiked and I was active!  I put at least 10-12 miles on my body each and every day.   I track my food and I chose options that are healthy and nutritious!  So to see my weight hovering at the higher numbers form last weekend is infuriating!

I felt guilty when we were out and about and I was wearing my new ‘10 pound reward’ teeshirt.  I earned it!  The scales dropped below that 10 pound range…but then it popped back up!  This is not a pressure that I like in my life!  I’ve got to figure out this weight loss thing!

I know…I know…I know.  I have figured out that 1400 is pretty much the limit of calories that I can eat.  I’ve figured this out a long time ago.   So for me to be eating above that limit is fooling myself from the start.   I know…under 1400 seems too low.   By strictly numbers I’ve been told it’s too low.  But my body just seems to demand it.  And yes, my doctor is aware of my calorie intake and is 100% behind me with my mission and my plan and my goal calorie count. 

So back to 1200 calories I go.   It is honestly so incredibly difficult to keep my calories at that level day in and day out.  But I know I can do it!  If I want to have a long healthy life into my old age, I have no other choice.   Wish me luck!

Friday, September 10, 2021

Frugal Friday: Entertainment

 It is time for another installment of my very own Frugal Friday!   I am enjoying looking at ways in which we spend frivolous money and ways that are really frugal and cheap!   Now don't get me wrong, there are times when I spend money like it's going out of style.  BUT, there are also times where I want to be frugal!   And today we are going to talk about entertainment and how to be frugal as we strive to entertain ourselves. So today I give a list of free or cheap ways to spend a day of fun without breaking the bank!

A day that was quite costly

Entertainment and days of fun can rack up quite a price tag.  It happens really quick.    A few years back I  received a call from a friend asking me to spend the day with her.  I was quick to answer affirmatively.  However, I advised her that due to an unforeseen bill that I was low on cash and didn't want to spend a lot of money that day.  "NO problem she told me,  just want to go to the National Harbor and I'll drive."   Off we went.  My friend was true to her word.  She drove and paid for the gas and the parking garage funds quickly dwindled and diminished right before my eyes!  You see......she wanted to go to a circus!    I don't remember the exact price of the ticket that I paid but I looked online and the price of that ticket...same circus and same exact location for this year and that ticket would cost between $85 and $119.  For the sake of argument I will say $85....even though we of course had great seats and probably would have paid more than the base price).

I purchased nothing at the circus....but it was well past lunch.  We went to lunch.  I looked up the menu for that place and I will say that there was NO WAY that I got out of there for less than $20...and that is if I just bought a sandwich!  I was now at an estimate of $105 for a day that I didn't want to spend money.

We walked around and through some stores.   No problem.  I bought nothing.  But then my friend, the same one that had promised to keep costs low decided that we had to ride the Capital Wheel.....we had to conquer her fear of heights.  "Please Maryfran"   Add on $15 plus tax,,,,and let me say that was the most expensive Ferris wheel I've been on!   Total cost for day to this point $120.

We drove home.  But the hemorrhage of money was not done yet.  "Dessert, we need something sweet"  my friend declared.  SO we stopped for dessert.....another $10.   

The total for the day was over $130 dollars.  And I know that I could have said no at any point...but you do sometimes get swept into the moment and then struggle with stopping the train wreck from happening.    But that was a lesson that I was still learning at that point! Luckily I DID have the money.  I had to pull it out of my savings account, so it wasn't like I went into debt.  But what if I didn't have that money?  What kind of entertainment could I have chosen!   

Frugal Entertainment:  Go for a Hike

Going for a hike is almost always absolutely free!  It will cost you nothing but the gas to get to a trailhead (if there are none within walking distance).  Sure you may ante up a few dollars for an entrance to a park if you chose to go to an area that has an entrance fee, but there are MANY places that are free!  A recent hike that we were on was to the Catoctin Mountain Park (managed by the NPS).  It is 18 miles away.  My car gets about 33-35 mpg.  I used one gallon of gas.  Estimate cost $3.00!   That is a frugal day and it is GREAT fun and was FREE!!  Look online to find local trails.  I use All trails quite a bit!    Hiking is great for the body, the mind and the spirit.

Frugal Entertainment:  Explore

We will occasionally find an a abandoned building to explore.  It is something that gets us outside.  It allows our minds to actively imagine and think.  It is history at our fingertips and it is a history that due to being abandoned is slowly decaying back into the ground!   It costs nothing except the gas you need for your car to get there!  We have explored a few abandoned places all within 15-30 miles of where we live......Estimate cost $3!     I will put out the disclaimer to explore abandoned places at your own risk due to dangers and tresspassing!

Frugal Entertainment:   Ride a Bike

Go ride your bike!  If you own a bike, it will cost you absolutely nothing and give you time outside. You will see amazing things that you would otherwise not be able to encounter.  The wind in your face is freeing.   If you are wiling to ante up a few dollars for the gas to get there, you can take you bike to any number of trails!  I use the app Trail forks to find neat trails to ride!  

Frugal Entertainment:  Geocaching

A few years ago I picked up a hobby called Geocaching.  It is where you go onto a website and chase down 'caches'.  The caches are hidden and you will be given the GPS coordinates.  You simply traverse to the coordinates and find the secret little hide.  When you find the hide, you put your user name on the logbook/log paper that is inside the cache and revel in the victory of the hunt!  Some of these are TRICKY to find. The GPS will only get you close......where they put it is the fun part!  It really is simply a scavenger hunt.  There are no great rewards other than a smiley on your map when you find one!  YOu can have a basic membership and find some for free at   I have spent full days out searching for geocaches.  It costs me a little bit of gas for my car and it opens my eyes to new places.  I have found parks and monuments that I was not aware of.  I have had people ask about the safety and I have never felt at all risky about going to a geocache.  They are all posted and can go for weeks without anyone visiting a cache, so to worry about someone 'laying in wait' for you to arrive, is not a valid concern as they could be waiting for weeks and months!     I still enjoy doing this and we frequently go out and grab a few geocaches when we need something to do!  Cheap entertainment! IN the picture below check out the wee little cache that I was hunting for and obviously found!

Frugal Entertainment:  A local Zoo
We invest yearly in our local zoo and preserve.  A season/yearly pass is $60 for each person at our local zoo.  Sure, it is an outlay of money, but don't you want to go to the zoo every once in a while anyway?  A single day ticket at our zoo is $20.   We opt for the season pass.  First of all it helps the zoo in their efforts but it also offers us a place to go where we can walk.  It is an easy walk on graded paths and the one that we go to is heavily shaded.   We can enjoy the animals and a variety of programs.   I believe we have stopped in at least 6 times this year....that reduces the cost of our visits down to $10 a piece.  That sounds like a good deal to me!  Quite frugal!

Frugal Entertainment:  Free or Cheap Museums
Frequently, I will research locally or in places that we will be traveling to looking for various museums to visit.  I do it primarily because I love to learn.  Museums are a great way for me to expand my knowledge.  Sometimes, I will find a musuem that I want to visit and decide that the entrance fee is well worth it.  On a recent weekend trip to Harrisburg I did just that.  We spent money to go through the National Civil War Museum and the Fort Hunter Mansion.  It was well worth it and I don't  begrudge a penny of that money!  However, many times when I am looking, I will find museums that are free!   Just the other week we went to the Catoctin Furnace Museum.  It was totally free.  Sure it was small, but it was well done and absolutely free! Time and time again I have found the most absolutely fantastic FREE museums!  I went to quite a fee Free museums during a trip to Philadelphia a few years ago! Do your research!  There are tons of museums that are free or practically free!

Having fun and living your life to the fullest does not have to mean that you are spending a ton of money!  Sure, I have spent my share of money on outings and days of entertainment but having fun does not have to cost you money!  Sure, I had fun during that day at the National Harbor that I talked about at the beginning of this post but I have had just as much fun hiking to a vista or overlook.  I have been just as enamored with an abandoned building and I have been tickled pink to tour a museum.  Swimming in a stream in the woods while out on a bike ride is good cheap fun.  Look around you...the world is filled with frugal entertainment.  You just have to open your eyes to see the opportunity!

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Weekend Recap

 Ahhh Labor Day weekend, it came and went with an alarming speed!  How does a three day weekend go by just as speedily as a two day weekend?   I'm really confused at how that can happen!!!  NO matter the speed that the long weekend flew by, we had a great weekend!

Saturday Shopping and a New Travel Carrier for our Bird

We started out Saturday bright and early.  We knew that we had to get up to Hagerstown to pick up a package that I had mistakenly had shipped to my billing address and not my shipping address.  OOPS.  We also knew that it was grocery and errand day, so we set off to get that stuff done.  UP to Hagerstown, Aldi, The Organic supermarket, Petsmart, Target, Sierra (just because you never know what you might find) and downtown to the Trail house (Jason needs new tail shoes).  The list went on.   We did manage to get outside a wee little bit!  We went to the Gambrill Mill area of the Monocacy Battlefield and walked a wee little bit.   It had flooded badly when we got the rains from hurricane we were a bit restricted on where we could go....but hey, It got us outside!

We finally headed for home and ripped open the package that we had picked up early in the morning in Hagerstown.   We bought a new travel cage for Kiwi!   We had a cheapie $40 cage...which he seemed to HATE  and we wanted a backpack carrier!  SO we went with the Celltei Pack-o-bird.  (which was anything but it will NOT appear on any of my frugal Fridays)   We couldn't wait to put it together!  It is very well constructed!  Of course Kiwi had to try it out right away!  He hung out in there for a bit...and we let him that night, just so he could get used to the bag.

Sunday Hiking

We knew that Sunday was our day to hike!  So we got a move on!   We were ready and just had to decide where to hike!   We talked about it and decided that we wanted to hike one of our favorite trails....the Thurston Griggs Trail up to the Appalachian Trail and over to Black Rock and Annapolis Rock......then back.  It's a pretty good hike.  A good workout and neat things to see and encounter.  Off we headed, out of our apartment and into........drizzling rain!

We hiked the other week in rain so we were not deterred, besides, it was only supposed to be sporadic light rain. We did momentarily talk about switching trails because the Thurston Griggs trail is somewhat steep and washes out.  (You can check out a video about the trail and a bit of history about that area here....)   IT. RAINED. THE. WHOLE. HIKE.   

Ok, hiking in the summertime woods (thinkin lots of leaves and trees overhead) in the rain is not that bad!    We got about 8-10 miles of hiking in and we loved every minute of it!  (My legs are still doing GREAT and I enjoyed this hike, just like the hike from a few weeks back!

Lazy day Sunday

On Sunday we took a lazy day.  We put Kiwi into his carrier and we headed out for a practive 'desensitization' trip.  We stopped to visit my mom for a few minutes (Only a short visit since I'm off work on Friday and plan on spending the day with her.)  And we stopped by Jason's parents for a visit.  Nice and relaxing!  

But then the weekend was over!  BOOOOOOOOOOO  So back to the weekday grind we went!