My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Merry Christmas

Have a wonderful holiday everyone! Spend time with your family and take time for yourself. That’s what I’m doing right now.


7 Morning Mantras You’ll Love

Ok folks, it’s that time of year; I go to work and it’s still mostly dark, I leave work and the sun is already setting. I miss sunlight at this time of year so I decided to check out 7 Morning Mantras You’ll Love. Staying positive in less sunny times is critical to fighting my urge to hibernate until spring. Sometimes I think bears have all the fun.

I also bought myself a natural light alarm clock, (the photos below show the clock and what it looks like turned on). It gives off natural light and has a sunrise setting to wake me up in the morning and a sunset mode to help me get to sleep at night. It’s even bright enough to read by before bed. I’m not much for doing product endorsements but this little gadget is helping me fight the winter blues and get my beauty rest.

The longest night of the year doesn’t arrive until December 21st (two more days!) so until then, we’ll all have to get our natural light where we can and wait for our beloved sunshine to return.

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Potlucking with the Ladies


A little while ago, some of the ladies from the gym held a Sunday potluck brunch. I love this kind of event because you get to socialize and no one person has to do all of the work. Plus it’s a great excuse to hang out and eat some delicious food!

I made my mom’s Perfect Potluck Meatballs. The recipe is below. If anyone else would like to post their potluck speciality, please post it in the comments so we can all collect more By Design recipes.

Perfect Potluck Meatballs:
2 eggs
1/4 C milk
1/2 C bread crumbs (I reduced this to 1/4 cup to keep it more By Design)
1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound each ground beef and sausage (I used pork and sausage)

Mix and shape into 24 meatballs. Cook in shallow pan @ 375 for 30 min. Drain.

3/4 C apple jelly
1/3 C brown or grainy mustard
1/3 C whiskey or apple juice
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Stir together and heat until jelly is melted and mixture is bubbly. Add meatballs. Cook 3-5 min or until sauce is thick and meatballs are coated. Then, try not to eat them all before the potluck starts!

Here is the yummy result!

Here is the yummy result!

I also got to use this casserole carrying case I got at my wedding shower. It has a gel pack you can freeze or microwave o keep your dish nice and cool or piping hot!

I also got to use this casserole carrying case I got at my wedding shower. It has a gel pack you can freeze or microwave o keep your dish nice and cool or piping hot!

Holiday Gifts & Happiness

It’s that time of year again; carols playing in every store, my email inbox full of cyber-ads and coupons, ah yes, the gift giving season is upon us. Now let me assure you, I am not against gift giving. I love to get gifts and I love to give gifts even more. I love Santa and Secret Santa and all other gift exchanges. However, I like to take the focus off shopping madness and put more heart back into my gifts. This post called  Holiday Gifts & Happiness got me thinking about making gifts more personal and meaningful. The Happsters dealt with how to wrap gifts in a fun way; I’m going to write about how to put happier gifts inside that fun wrapping!

How about making more of our gifts? My Secret Santa person is getting her favourite kind of cookies, (triple chocolate fudge,) homemade by me in a nice Christmas tin. In the past, I have made some beautiful photo books for family members using Blurb and photo magnets at stores like Walmart. For a gift exchange where I have a $5 maximum limit, I made a necklace and bracelet out of origami paper stars and beads. All of these gifts cost more time than money and people appreciate the effort I put in.

How about giving the gift of time? I once gave my brother and his family passes to the Toronto Zoo and a parking pass so they could enjoy a day of fun together. Last year, all of my friends got laser tag passes so we could all go play together, like the big kids we are. For something less expensive, shovel a neighbor’s walk, make dinner for someone or take someone to the movies. I love gifts that either encourage people to spend time with me or spend time with their families.

How about giving the gift of health? Life by Design offers a great gift pack here. Get your special someone on the path to Living by Design.

How about teaching our kids to make reasonable lists for Santa? Kids’ Christmas Lists are getting a little scary. No Christmas list should be pages and pages of stuff. I once heard a very smart child psychologist on CBC Radio say that she allows her kids four categories on their list: “Something I want, something I need, something to wear and something to read.” They can put as many items under each heading as they like, but come Christmas morning, they will be getting one item from each category, plus something special from Santa. I love this idea. Will a child’s Christmas really be less special with four or five gifts as opposed to twenty? And for those people who are worried their child will compare with their friend’s Christmas haul and feel inadequate, now is the time to start teaching our children about the dangers of materialism and the brainwashing effects of commercials and online ads. They will thank you for it later.

Christmas Wish List

Get the PDF version here.

How about starting charity early? Get kids to give food, time or money to the Food Bank and teach them why they Food Bank exists. Find a local charity and donate some time as a family. Have every family member, (kids too, allowance money can be used here,) donate to a charity of their choice. We give to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, the London Abused Women’s Centre and Pet Friends 4 Life in our house. My parents always had my brother and I choose a toy each and then donate to Toys for Tots. This is something I still do today. Dr. Jamie told me that the Café of Life will have a toy donation tree again this year, so you can give when you come to get adjusted!

This Christmas, give meaningfully, give joyfully, and remember to wrap those gifts in some joy!

Sick of being Sick

So having this monster cold for well over a week isn’t leaving me with much to write about. I’ve been so ill that I haven’t done much of anything By Design, unless we’re going to start offering Sleep by Design. I think I’ve got that one nailed.

I still don’t have my voice back. I kind of sound like this:

combined with this:

I’ve tried every remedy I can think of and I still feel like somebody stepped on me. So far:

  • Water – I’m drinking 2 – 3 liters a day.
  • Apple juice – Several glasses a day, will it help keep the doctor away?
  • Ginger ale – Good for my upset stomach.
  • PowerAde – Good for when I feel really dehydrated, which is often.
  • Hot tea with honey – I’ve tried peppermint, sleepy time, green, and chamomile. Very soothing.
  • Hot water, lemon and honey – Also very soothing and nice tasting.
  • NeoCitran – Not great tasting but it puts me to sleep in a hurry so this is a favourite at bedtime.
  • Chicken soup – A least I can keep this down. Enough said.
  • Raw garlic – This is soused to kill bacteria. I’ve been mixing it into my soup and it’s pretty good that way.
  • Spicy foods – I’ve been putting ground chillies in my food. It makes my nose run quite a bit so hopefully that will help clear me out.
  • Popsicles – There is no proof that frozen sugar-water on a stick helps but it is delicious and it soothes my scratchy throat.
  • Gargling with warm salt water – Gross but I’m still doing it. I haven’t noticed any real changes here yet but I figure it can’t make things worse.
  • Saline Nose Rinse – It’s weird to shoot salt water up my nose but it actually does feel nice afterwards and stops my nose from running for a few hours.
  • Zinc tablets – These are supposed to cure a sore throat but I gagged so much using them that I won’t be trying this again.
  • Vitamin C tablets – I took these until they started to upset my stomach. I don’t need to add any more symptoms!
  • Cold FX – Expensive and I don’t notice any changes when taking them. Perhaps this is an overpriced placebo?
  • Fishermen’ Friends cough drops – Also gross. These are gritty so I can only eat them when I’m sitting up or I start to choke.
  • Buckley’s cough drops – Extra gross tasting and they gave me a canker sore. Blerg.
  • Ricola cough drops – Definitely the best tasting so I use them before bed to stop me from coughing.
  • Tylenol Cold and Sinus caplets – These made me really dehydrated, plus you have to take them every four hours. I won’t be using them again.
  • Vick’s VapoRub – It makes my nose run, that’s for sure. I can use it as long as I’m willing to walk around with Kleenexes jammed up my nostrils.
  • Hot baths and showers – I’m wrinkly and red and we are out of hot water.
  • Gentle exercise – Some people suggest that getting a little exercise can help our bodies fight viruses. So far, I can manage 15 minutes of gentle yoga or a short walk before I get too fatigued to continue.
  • Sleep – I know this is the number one remedy everyone recommends. I am sleeping an average of 11 hours per day/night right now. I can’t sleep any more than that. I’m so bored.

Bah! Somebody rescue me! I’m tired and tired of being sick. At least I’m writing this in bed. I think it’s time for another nap. G’night.

Week 4- 30 Day Burnout

Sooooooo, my week? Not so good. I had to give up the 30 Day Challenge this week because I’ve caught a virus that is destroying me. I’ve completely lost my voice, (a complete tragedy for a teacher and notorious chatter-box like me) and I have a whole other host of nasty symptoms too gross to list here. Nevertheless, in the interest of full disclosure:

EBD – Nope. All I’ve managed to keep down most of the week is tea and toast, veggies, fruits and soup…so much soup. I’ve lost some weight but I think that’s more from my loss of appetite than actual healthy eating.

MBD – Nope. I’ve done some yoga and gone for some walks but anything much beyond gentle exercise leaves me wheezing and dizzy. My body wants rest more so I’ve been sleeping, napping and meditating. My cats have never been so happy but I feel like a lump.

PBD – Yup. I’ve been getting my chiropractic visits in and I even booked a massage appointment for next week to keep my spine healthy and happy.

TBD – I’ve been trying to be really positive all week, but I can feel myself wearing down. I’m tired and a bit weepy from being sick for six straight days. I’m hopeful more rest is all I need.

So I didn’t kick butt in this last part of the 30 Day Challenge. I was too stressed out and my health suffered. That’s happens sometimes. I could beat myself up, but instead I’m going to focus on getting healthy and then I’ll be ready for the next 30 Day Challenge.

Bah, typing has made me sleepy so I’m off to bed. I love you all and I’ll see you when I’m less phlegmy.

Do Good

The message of this blog is post is simple: Do good

Sometimes when my anxiety is high, I have difficulty dealing with the depression that follows it. For those of you who don’t know, most people suffer both anxiety and depression, rather than one or the other. Therefore, even when I am able to control my anxious feelings, I am often left feeling depressed and washed out.

I’m lucky enough to have an amazing support system to assist me. In addition to Life by Design, I have my fiancé, my family, my friends, and a really great counsellor. However, even with all this, I still have to learn to fight my own depression.

Sometimes when I am caught up in my own brain, the best way to move on is to focus on others. In a recent bout of depression, I was able to move on by doing good for others. My school is holding its annual toy and food drive for needy children. I took my sad self and headed out for some retail therapy for charity. I took $40 and got all this at Walmart:


It felt so good to do something positive for kids in need. I imagined the little kids opening these gifts on Christmas morning and playing happily with them. So just like I started this blog, do good. Do it for other people and do it for your own mental health.

“Best Day of My Life”

You should watch the video “Best Day of My Life”. It lifted my spirits. I hope it lifts yours too!

Week 3 – 30 Day Challenge Update

This was a very anxious week for me. There were lots of little reasons why my week didn’t go so well. I could blame those reasons, but the truth is I didn’t handle my stress very well and I didn’t do a great job of achieving my goals. Oh well, that’s life sometimes. We can’t be perfect. We just have to try to be better. Sometimes I have to keep repeating that to myself…a lot.

Monday – MBD – Pilates. TBD – I had a day with some student melt-downs and work stress. I had trouble dealing so I was glad to get home after work. EBD – I avoided grains but I power ate my way through a large, dark chocolate bar. Moderation? Not so much today.

Tuesday – MBD – Class at West London CrossFit. TBD – Today was really a low energy day for me. I tried to boost myself up but I just felt fatigued most of the day. EBD – I had some grains and some chocolate after dinner. Not a great choice when I was already feeling down. I went to bed still feeling blah.

Wednesday – MBD – Class at West London CrossFit. PBD – Got adjusted. TBD – I still couldn’t seem to shake my blah mood. It wasn’t as bad as yesterday, but I still felt a bit listless. I was really looking forward to my adjustment. EBD – I decided to play it safe and stay on track today. It made me feel a bit better.

Thursday – MBD – I went for a long walk downtown with a friend. We looked at all the Christmas displays on Richmond Row and picked up a few stocking stuffers along the way. TBD – Getting out with a friend really helped my mood. I felt much more cheerful after a good walk and gab session. EBD – We ate at Garlic’s (a great eat local restaurant). I had one slice of their fresh-baked bread with dinner, (don’t judge me, it was steaming when it came to the table). I also had a flourless chocolate cake for dessert – does that still count as chocolate or is that cheating?

Friday – MBD – I went for a swim. TBD – I made some time today to assess my week and figure out some of the reasons I was feeling down. I discussed these with Nick and I think it made us both feel better. EBD – I did a bit of a food cleanse today. I only drank water and I only ate veggies, fruit and lean proteins. My tummy was a lot happier afterwards.

Saturday – MBD – I did cardio at the gym. TBD – We had an early Christmas dinner with Nick’s mom (she’s a snow bird) so we had a lovely day. EBD – Exception day! I decided to forgo the chips and bread, but I did have the pastry on the beef Wellington and a slice of frozen Pavlova and a few chocolates for dessert. All told, I didn’t eat too many non-compliant foods today.

Sunday – MBD – lots and lots of yoga! TBD – I feel like my mood is back on track. EBD – I was on track here today too. Now I need to keep on track all of next week.

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