A Simple Splurge

I never buy sugary cereals.

I’d like to say it’s because I am super concerned about my kids’ diet. I’d like to say I’m a hardcore label reader. I’d like to say I even understand all those words on nutrition labels.

But the real reason is … my mom never bought sugary cereals so I never got a taste for them. When I grew up and started stocking my own pantry, it was just natural to stock it with what I liked … cheerios, cornflakes, and rice chex … and now that’s what my kids eat, too. For my kids a bit of honey squeezed over the top of their cereal is a treat.

Except for today.

Last night on a last minute my-kids-need-green-for-St-Patrick’s-Day Wal-Mart run, I noticed this.

In a house where Momma never ever buys sugary cereals, this is *kinda* like finding a pot of gold! #happystpatricksday #2016 #momwin

A photo posted by Jodi m Ubelhor-Strauch (@homeportwashington) on

 

And though I never buy sugary cereals, I splurged.

And my kids loved it. My five year old said, “Ohmygosh the marshmallow clovers! I wanted try that my whole life!”

“Ohmygosh the marshmallow clovers! I wanted try that my whole life!”

10 grams of sugar in 3/4 cup of breakfast? Don’t care. #momwin

It’s kind of how I feel about this journey to simplicity that I’m trudging along at.  I’m working hard at creating new better habits. Recycling junk mail instead of letting it pile up. Eating a handful of almonds instead of a handful bag of potato chips. Saying no to some things instead of yes to everything.

But sometimes I splurge. Sometimes with money. Sometimes with time. Sometimes with silliness. Sometimes with a pizza AND wings.

Because I can.

Because I find that when I am trying my best most of the time I don’t feel guilty for a little splurge some of the time.

And my little splurges, whether it’s a new pair of shoes or taking an evening off from cooking, make me exponentially happier than having those things all the time.

I don’t feel guilty for it.
I don’t feel like I need to “make up” for it.
I don’t feel I’ve given up because of it.

I simply feel good.

And I’ve been waiting to try THAT my whole life.

 

 

Jodi Does … A Health Plan

So …

I’m Jodi. I am 39 years old. I am about 50 pounds overweight, and I’ve been taking two high blood pressure medications for over a year and a half now.

Oooh, Jodi! You’re so healthy! Please share! #snark

My weight has fluctuated up and down every since I started having babies when I was 21. I’d gain the weight, pop out a baby, hold onto the weight for a while, and then buckle down and get back to my pre-prego weight. That’s what happened after my oldest was born. That’s what happened (albeit more slowly) after my second came along, but that is NOT what’s happened since my third “baby” girl appeared nearly 6 years ago.

For six years now I’ve carried around fifty extra pounds, and it just isn’t coming off the way it used to.

I’ve tried to lose weight. I took up running one year. I lost about 15 pounds but then gained it all back again when fall and the Washington rainy season returned.

I tried doing my husband’s “Supreme 90-Day Burn” videos … and thought I was dying after Day 5 so I quit.

I’ve tried cutting carbs (have I mentioned how much I love bread?) and eating more vegetables (have I mentioned how much I hate broccoli?). I’ve tried lots of little things with little to no success. Each time things broke down after about a week or two, and I was left feeling like a failure … a FAT, very unhealthy failure.

In 2016 I’m trying something different.

This year I’m focusing on my whole health instead of just the numbers on the scale, and instead of just trying out another diet and exercise plan, I’m simply trying to create better habits that will stick with me in the long term.

My goals are simple.

  1. Work up to a habit of exercising five days a week.
  2. Slowly cut out snacking and fast food, and work on portion control.
  3. Update my medical record.
  4. Drink more water.
  5. Get better sleep.

I’m two months in, and I’ve had some success this year.

So far out of 8 weeks of workouts, I’ve only missed two. Both were last week, and both were a result of being sick as a dog. At this point it almost feels strange not to work out Monday, Wednesday, and Friday! I’ve been doing a simple but makes-me-sweat cardio walk routine three days a week, but today I’m hitting the treadmill to work back into a running routine AND next week I’m kicking it up a notch and enrolling in a martial arts class with my middle daughter twice a week. While the class is for beginners, the sensei is no joke. For two hours twice a week, he puts his class through their paces, and I’m looking forward to it!

I’ve also been working on my medical record. I want to get all my check-ups in this year and either treat every little health worry I’ve had or be told to let it go. So far I’ve gotten a yearly physical, taken care of my Well Women’s check-up, and had my hearing tested. Soon I’ll see someone about a nagging breathing issue I’ve had for years and make appointments for an eye exam and a dental cleaning. By Christmastime, the docs will probably be tired of me, but I will be healthier and happier for having done it!

Eating healthy is my nemesis.

I never developed a taste for vegetables as a kid, and it hasn’t changed much as an adult. I just don’t like how the consistency changes in most veggies when you cook them. #grownup Instead I’ve been eating lots more raw veggies, and I’ve done a little bit of experimentation with recipes. (If you know any great veggies recipes, please share!)

Results?

Well, if I was basing my results just on the numbers on the scale, I’d be failing. I haven’t lost a pound.

Don’t you wanna jump on board this train already? #snark

But while I’m looking forward to weight loss being a byproduct, it isn’t one of my goals. My goals are all about getting healthier.

I have exercised regularly, and I do feel better.
I have tried new healthier recipes, and I have been eating my veggies and fruit.
have completed three of my medical appointments and will be posting about a physical medical record soon.

So I may not have lost any weight YET, but I know I am on the right track this year!

Are you on a health journey? Have you been successful? Any tips or recipes you’d care to share in the comments? ‘Cause I need all the help I can get!

Jodi Does … Unbusy

So …

Yesterday was busy.

I started my day with church (thank goodness!), and afterward I raced home to grab my grocery list so I could run to the commissary for the fastest shopping trip on record. Next I had a meeting to lead (a meeting that I wasn’t at all prepared for and it showed) so after I shoved all the groceries in the fridge and pantry, I grabbed a string cheese stick for lunch (!!!) and headed off to my meeting. I had to cut my meeting just a little short because my next stop was to pick up Girl Scout cookies across town, and as I drove home after that all I could think was that even after all of those things, I still needed to take my middle daughter backpack shopping, cook dinner, and prep myself for the upcoming week.

And did I mention that I’m four weeks in to a terrible, terrible cold? All day long I felt exhausted and foggy-brained as I raced from one place to the next, and I was miserable.

Yesterday was busy.

The thing is … at one time this was my schedule all the time. Six months ago my everyday routine was to run from one activity to the next, dreading that one more meeting, seeing my husband and kids in passing, and never ever quite getting it all done.

In a weird way it was exciting to be needed by so many. I was an  oft requested speaker at FRG meetings. I was an important member of my local COMPASS team. I was one half of a great Ombudsman team. I was building an ever-growing military spouse blog and sharing all of my life and experience with the world!

But I was also always stressed out, running on fumes, and though I didn’t realize it at the time, terribly, terribly unhappy.

That was six months ago. That was a year ago. That was just the way I’ve been living for a long, long time now. I call that way … barely. Because always running here and there, never finished, never ever caught up, super stressed … is no way to live. At least not for me.

And so I stopped.

Wellll, it wasn’t quite that simple.

A confluence of randomly timed events pushed me to give some things up. My time as an Ombudsman naturally came to an end with Change of Command. My time with Compass became limited due to a temporary job opportunity. As those activities tapered off, others did, too. Less speaking jobs. Less side tasks. Less opportunities to even take on so many jobs that I always felt an obligation to say yes to every single time even when I really, truly did not have have the time, the energy, or the interest in doing them, and it was …

Wonderful.

It was wonderful. When I wasn’t being an Ombudsman, my phone became very quiet, and I could watch movies with my kids uninterrupted. When I wasn’t speaking at two or three FRG meetings each month and weekly Indoc classes for Compass, I could focus more on my home. When I wasn’t running here and there, always behind, never quite done, my world quieted down, and I was could see what, in my rush to be all I could for the world, I had been missing.

Swim meets and practices, martial arts lessons, and that moment when my baby swam her first strokes.

Quiet moments snuggling on the couch with my husband without my phone or a Facebook message or an email alert interrupting.

Drive time conversations dominated by high school gossip and kindergarten silliness with my kids instead of bluetooth phone calls making plans for even more busy-ness.

About six months ago I became intentionally Unbusy for the first time in my life, and it has been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself … ever … and I want to share it with you.

So …

Jodi Does Unbusy.

This week I want to share with you about this second step in my decluttering journey, the decluttering of my schedule.

But first tell me something … is your schedule in need of a declutter? Do you find yourself running from one place to the next? Always behind? Always overwhelmed? Wanting to say no but not quite sure how? Let’s hear your story in the comments below.

Are you busy? Too busy? Is busy getting in the way of the important things in your life? Let's talk about how beautiful Unbusy can be.

Jodi Does … A Capsule Wardrobe

So …

Have you heard of this whole “capsule wardrobe” phenomenon? I’ve been seeing it all over Pinterest and on many of the blogs I read for a while now, and about six months ago, I decided to give it a try.

Best. Decision. Ever.

But I’m getting ahead of myself …

So what is a capsule wardrobe anyway?

According to Courtney of Be More With Less, aka my Capsule Wardrobe hero, a capsule wardrobe is “a collection of clothes and accessories that includes only items that are considered essential.” Instead of a closet filled to bursting with “meh” and “it’s alright,” a capsule closet is filled only with pieces you love and that work for you right now. Instead of trying on outfit after outfit that “isn’t quite right” or “fits a little snug here or there,” a capsule wardrobe means when you open that closet door, everything is beautiful and useful and just right.

So how can you build a capsule wardrobe?

Your best bet? Head over to Courtney’s blog. You’ll learn everything you need to know there. You can also plug “capsule wardrobe” into a Pinterest search and come up with dozens of pins about it.

For me, I had to pull everything out of my closet and ask myself three questions …

  1. Does is fit me right now?
  2. Is it my style?
  3. Is this in season (and wearable) right now? (And if not, will it still fit me and my style when it is in season?)

I’m not that into fashion and not really much of a clothes shopper anyways so I was shocked at the amount of items in my own closet that simply didn’t make the cut.

I had several items that fell into the “will fit me when I lose weight” category. But if I lose 15 pounds, won’t I want to celebrate with a few new things? And honestly do I really want to open my closet each day only to see pants that don’t fit?

I had several items that fell into the “bought on sale/never worn” category. I had no idea where to wear those items or what to wear them with so they sat in my closet taking up space and kinda making me feel bad for being so fashionably challenged every time I saw them.

I had several “out of season” items. Some of those I kept and stored away, but many went away. I had one sweater that I agonized over. It was lovely. It was warm. It fit. And it itched to no end every time I wore it! I often wore another top underneath to avoid the itching! How silly! Gone!

When all was said an done, I culled my wardrobe down to just 19 items.

19?!? Are you crazy, Jodi?!?

Well, maybe a little, but I loved each and every one of those 19 items. I knew every morning I would open my closet and see things that fit me right now and made me happy.

I also knew 19 wasn’t enough. I knew I’d need to go shopping.

What’s the point of downsizing your wardrobe just to go shopping?

I’ve never really enjoyed clothes shopping. In fact I’ve always hated it and avoided it whenever possible. I never knew what to buy, what I needed, or what I really liked, and I always felt guilt for buying more when I already had so much at home.

But this time, I knew exactly what I needed … two pairs of comfortable pants, 2 or 3 long sleeved tops, and a cardigan-type sweater. I realized that I really like darker blues and grays and that I tend toward stripes (and am just not comfortable in other prints). So I shopped. I found the items in the right size and in colors I liked, and I knew I would wear them often.

I didn’t feel guilty either because I actually did need the items and because again I knew I would wear them and get my money’s worth.

And though I’ve purchased and edited my wardrobe a few times since, my number still stands at 21.

2 skirts
1 pair of dress pants
4 pairs of jeans
14 tops (from t-shirts to sweaters)

I have just 21 clothing items in my Capsule Wardrobe, and I've never dressed better or more HAPPILY in my whole life.

I also have 6 dresses hanging which I do not count in this number as three are out of season and 3 are cocktail dresses or ball gowns for very specific occasions. 

Is that enough? It is for me! Every morning when I get dressed, I can reach into my closet and pull out just about anything, and I know it will work and will make me feel good. Every single items fits me right now, and sinceI dress in mostly dark blue, black, or gray, everything coordinates.

Courtney suggests the number 33 for her capsule wardrobe, Project 333. She includes shoes and outerwear in that number. I don’t because I’m still working on what shoes I like and fit my style. Mostly I wear sneakers or black flats every day for right now. Also I’m still in the stay-at-home mom phase. If I worked I might need more clothing to reflect that.

Don’t you hate wearing the same thing over and over again? 

No, not really. Again I’m not super huge into fashion anyways, but who wouldn’t love wearing clothes that fit, feel good, and look pretty all the time.

But what if someone notices you’ve worn the same outfit twice?

Ummm … if that’s happened, no one has mentioned it to me. Plus if someone did mention it, I feel good enough about my wardrobe that I would be happy to share my capsule wardrobe journey with them!

Is a capsule wardrobe right for you?

I don’t know. Take a quick survey of your closet. Do you love what you see? Then maybe this isn’t for you … but if you see a lot out-of-season, I’ll-wear-that-when, and I-wish-that-fit items, then maybe it’s time you took the capsule wardrobe challenge.

So just being nosy … how many items do you have in your closet? Leave your number in the comments!

Jodi Does … Homemade Laundry Detergent

I’m on a mission to run my house as efficiently as possible, and a big part of that is managing our finances. One area I’ve been focusing on a lot of lately has been my grocery bill. I love saving money on groceries, and one thing that saves me a load of cash is Homemade Laundry Detergent.

Making laundry detergent is so easy and soooo much less expensive that buying it!

Here’s what you need:

Borax (4 cups)
Super Washing Soda (4 cups)
Fels Naptha (1 bar)
Ivory Soap (4 bars)
(Optional) Whitening Agent (4 cups)

A cheese grater for the bar soaps
A blender
A container to store your laundry powder
One tablespoon measuring spoon

When I first started making laundry detergent, I bought a cheap cheese grater to keep with my supplies and a plastic storage container with a lid for about 3 bucks each at Wal-Mart. I used a tablespoon from a set I was getting ready to replace, but you could easily pick up a set at the Dollar Store and stash the leftovers in your kitchen (or donate them if you don’t need them).

Make your powder.

Grate the Ivory soap and the Fels Naptha. I do this by hand either sitting in front of the TV or sitting on my porch if the weather is nice. It’s one of those mindless activities that lends itself to watching or listening to something else.

Making homemade laundry soap is the easiest! Plus it saves soooo much money!
Yes, this is a picture of my lap and the TV remote … I like to grate soap while watching Fixer Upper … don’t judge.

Next blend a handful of soap shavings along with a half cup or so of powder at a time. Adding the powder along with the shavings keeps things running smoothly in your blender. DON’T OVERFILL YOUR BLENDER TO SAVE TIME. I overheated my blender that way once. A little at a time is a much better strategy.

Mix everything together in a large bowl. As I’m blending the grated soap, I scoop it into the storage container, and after that’s all done I pour all the ingredients into the same mixing bowl I first grated the soap into. You could use a separate mixing bowl. I actually only own one large mixing bowl so I just make it work.

Finally just scoop it all into your storage container and you’re done! I usually spend 30 minutes making enough laundry detergent to last a little more than four months!

Make four months of laundry detergent for less than $20!
Yes, I’m a dork, and I keep a record for how often I make my laundry detergent.

But how does this save me money?

Here’s a cost breakdown:

$3.85     Borax
$2.49     Super Washing Soda
$0.97     Fels Naptha
$2.34     Ivory Soap (2) 3-bar packs
$7.49     (Optional) Whitening Agent (I use Oxyclean)

I pay $17.49 for enough supplies to make my 4-ish month supply of laundry detergent with enough Borax, Super Washing Soda, and Oxyclean to make at least another 4 month batch as well as 2 more bars of Ivory Soap. The next time I make laundry detergent for 4 months it will cost me less than $3. So basically it averages out to about $10/4 months.

How much do you spend on laundry detergent per week?

I don’t even know how much regular laundry detergent costs anymore! But I do know it’s more than 10 bucks every four months! And I also know that the 30 minutes it takes three times a year are DEFINITELY worth the savings!

10-Minute Tuesday: Declutter Your Car

Over the past few weeks we’ve taken on a challenge to declutter and ditch 500 items from our homes. I’ve been on this journey to a clutter-free life for a long time, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that this lifestyle is a process. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say, “I’m done! I’m clutter free!” I really think I’ll be working at it, learning to let go of things, to bring in less, and to simply live with less for the rest of my life!

10-Minute Tuesdays are my way of continually decluttering and keeping the piles at bay!

Don't let the clutter creep in to your life! 10-Minutes Tuesdays will keep your on track for a clutter free life!

Today is all about decluttering your car.

Ugh … who wants to do that on a Tuesday?!? Who’s got time to clear it out and then lug out the vacuum cleaner and the car cleaning wipes and all that jazz? Not me, that’s for sure.

So we won’t do ALL that. 10-Minute Tuesdays are just about decluttering, nothing else. Remember: declutter, organize, then clean. You have to get a good handle on your stuff before you can really make it work for you.

All you need today is a couple of trash bags.

Here’s your 10-Minute Breakdown:

Minute 1 – 4: Put anything that belongs somewhere other than your car in a “keep bag” except trash. Toys, books, shoes (boy, kids are messy!), etc. Put it all in that “keep bag.” Don’t judge it. Don’t try to sort it. Just fill that bag.

Pro-tip: Do this while your kids are home, and get them involved. For one thing, a lot of it probably belongs to them. For another, kids (even big kids) seem to do well at short, timed activities.

One bag for "keep" and one for trash

Minute 5-7: Use your second bag for trash. This will take less time because it’s all that’s left in the seats and on the floor. Scoop it all up into the bag, and then put that bag right in the trash can.

Minute 8: Take the “keep bag” inside and make piles according to who owns what.

Minute 9 – 10: Give the owners TWO MINUTES MAX to take those items to their rooms. If they can’t manage a few toys or pairs of shoes in two minutes, maybe those items really belong in the Goodwill box or the garbage, right? ;)

Bonus Minute: Stash a couple of grocery-type trash bags somewhere in your car so your next declutter can happen anywhere. Waiting in the pick-up line at school? You have 10 minutes. Watching soccer practice from the car on a rainy day? You have 10-minutes. The key to a clutter free life is making time, even just ten minutes here or there, to keep the clutter out!

So how’d you do? Is your car clutter free? How does it feel?

Jodi Does … Weekend Recaps

So …

What did you do this weekend? Most of us had Friday off, and all five of us are still off today. We’ve mostly spent the weekend doing what we do … sitting in the family room watching movies and TV and staring at various other screens, BUT on Saturday we changed things up and took a drive down to Tacoma …

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And spent a few hours at Climb Tacoma learning a bit about the sport of bouldering!

 

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I learned that Sydney is a little monkey and really should be climbing or bouldering on a regular basis. She did great!

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Alli is a budding monkey, too. She never got too far off the ground, but she did a great job finding her footing and handholds.

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Josh got in some coaching time …

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And most of us found ourselves falling on the mats once or twice though none of us looked quite as cute as Alli falling!

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We had a blast at Climb Tacoma, and I’d definitely like to go back! Sydney had such a great time, we’ll be looking into summer camp opportunities for her, and Alli was ready to go back as soon as she’d finished her dinner! I may not have been a super climber like those two, but I will say it was a no joke workout. I spent most of Sunday nursing sore arms!

Family time is so important (I’m feeling this more strongly every day as I prepare to send my oldest daughter off to college this fall), and even for my kinda couch potato family, it seems the best moments come when we get ourselves away from the house and little bit outside our normal comfort zones. Jodi Does It will be sharing a bunch of great ideas for Family Fun in our current home state of Washington this year, and I’d love to hear what you’re doing with your family!

PS I gave Jodi Does It a quick little redesign over the weekend. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!