Weight Loss: Ideal Protein with Alternatives April 2016

I wanted to report in with how it went for me in April along with sharing some new IP alternative products I tried.

April got off to a slow start because I didn’t get organized and order my food from Amazon in time. I finally had everything mid-April; until then, I just ate low-carb/high protein and used up some leftover IP alternative foods I had from last time.

I did manage to lose 10 pounds in April so that was good πŸ™‚

I’ve become a big fan of the shaker cup since starting this way of eating. I lost the first one I bought and had been using one of my kids’ who was getting annoyed with me, so I ordered new large and small cups.

BlenderBottle Classic Shaker Bottle, 28-ounce, Clear/Pink


BlenderBottle Classic Loop Top Shaker Bottle, Clear Aqua, 20 Ounce
blender bottle aqua 20 ounce

I didn’t mean to order the kind with the loop for the smaller one but that’s how it came – oops! I don’t have a need for it since I use my bottles primarily at home and it just seems like a pain to clean. So if you order, pay attention to whether you want the kind with the loop or without.

I use shaker cups for my favorite soup that I eat at least a few times a week.

ProtiDiet Chicken Flavor Soup

protidiet chicken soup

Needless to say, I love this soup! It’s creamy, very tasty, and filling. It’s my favorite of all the ProtiDiet products. You just fill the shaker bottle with super hot water from the tap to 6 ounces, dump the soup packet contents in, shake it up, and drink.

I work from home and just take it to the computer with me. It’s a quick and easy lunch – perfect! Sometimes I’ll pour it over broccoli or put it in the blender with broccoli. Broccoli chicken soup? Sounds odd but it’s good and very filling. Plus you’re getting in your 2 cups of vegetables with some flavor πŸ™‚

Another reason for the new shaker bottles was wanting to try some protein powder for the first time with this diet. I really hate overly sweet stuff so I decided to taste-test a variety of flavors before settling on one or two. This pack was perfect for that!

Quest Protein 1 Single Serving Pouch of each flavor 7 Packets

quest protein shake packet variety

I’ve only tried 2 flavors so far and liked both of them. The cookies and cream was interesting because it had little “chocolate chips” (don’t know what they’re actually made from) so it was like drinking a shake but occasionally chewing a little πŸ™‚ The strawberry was good too. I took a drink right after making it with cold water and didn’t care for the flavor but once I added ice, it was tasty.

One weird thing was that the shake packets didn’t have instructions for how much water to add. I tried the first one with 12 oz of water and got lucky because that was perfect (at least for me).

I’m looking forward to trying the other flavors like banana, peanut butter, and salted caramel. I hope the flavors continue to be pretty mild and not overly sweet because that’s exactly what I’m looking for in a protein powder. How about you – do you like them pretty sweet or more mild?

Another thing I ate this week was Big Mac in a Bowl, which I’ll talk about next time and make sure you have the recipe. Overall, it was a great month – hope it was for you, too! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Being a Mom is Awful

Grey’s Anatomy is one of my all-time favorite shows. I’ve watched every episode of every season, many episodes more than once. The writing is the best. There have been so many moments when I felt like the writers were in my heart or brain, grabbing my own words and feelings.

Tonight was no exception. The main plotline involved two 8-year-old boys finding a gun in the home, with one of them being seriously injured. The residents and doctors fought to save the boys’ life and help the other not to forever blame himself for hurting his friend.

As sisters Meredith and Maggie (who live together and raise Mer’s kids after her husband’s death) walked out of the hospital after their shift, Maggie began crying and they had this conversation:

Meredith: What’s wrong? What’s wrong?
Maggie: I don’t know how you do it, Mer.
Meredith: Do what?
Maggie: Love your kids like this. I really love them.
Meredith: They love you too.
Maggie: No, I love them like – if something happened to them, I would die. My heart is so wide open and they’re so fragile. I don’t know how you live like this. I don’t.
Meredith: It’s awful.

Yep, it’s absolutely awful. It’s the hardest thing about being a parent. The love is almost too much too hold sometimes. When you say, “I’d give my life for them,” you mean it literally and with every fiber of your being.

It reminds me of this quote I heard years ago and has always stuck with me:

β€œMaking the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
― Elizabeth Stone

Yep. It’s absolutely awful. And I wouldn’t change it for a thing <3

Ideal Protein with Alternatives: Starting Again April 2016

Do you tend to start diets in springtime? I do. After hibernating for the winter, it’s time to be more active, be outside, and take more trips and day trips.

Photo by:  Ales Krivec

Any time I get motivated to work on weight loss, I go back to Ideal Protein. I haven’t kidded myself to think it’s a forever solution. I mean, it is for some people but I’m not quite there yet πŸ™‚

I used it to lose 10 pounds in a week recently before I went to an event. It was enough to make the day more comfortable but obviously not a long-term amount. I’m ready to start again for a longer term and just hope I can stick with it.

It’s an easy diet to follow as far as clear guidelines, though I adapt them to fit alternative foods and my own peccadillos like that I don’t eat red meat or sweets. It’s also great in that it makes me eat more vegetables than I normally do. The challenge is keeping up with the shopping and food prep with my busy life.

Okay, here we gooo ….

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

I recently finished the novel “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins.

the girl on the train paula hawkins

Here is the book description from Amazon:

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. β€œJess and Jason,” she calls them. Their lifeβ€”as she sees itβ€”is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

I couldn’t put this book down. It’s written with narrators that change each chapter so you learn things from different perspectives and come to find why all their lenses are so very different.

Like “Gone Girl”, this is a book I’d recommend you NOT read any spoilers about or it’ll ruin the reading experience. I was told early on that there was a ‘big twist’ and kept looking for it with each turn of the page. But, be patient Grasshopper – it takes a good damn while. Just relax and enjoy the story as it unfolds.

Suffice it to say, “The Girl on the Train” is the book next in line after “Gone Girl” and “The Husband’s Secret” of obsessive reads and breakout bestsellers that soon “everyone” will be talking about. Be the first on your block to read “Girl on the Train” and remain the trendsetter that you are.

Speaking of “Gone Girl”, it’s only $4.99 for Kindle right now if you haven’t read it yet πŸ˜‰

This whole review and talk about spoilers and big events reminds me that I need to re-read “Every Last One” by Anna Quindlen from several years back. It’s one of my personal Top 10 Reads of All Time. It won’t be as good the second time since I already know the spoiler but, man, was that a good book!

I’m always tempted to Google when people talk about big events or spoilers in a popular new novel but I’m always glad that I don’t give in to it. I love that feeling of suspense and turning pages quickly to get to whatever it is, and I want my reaction to be natural to its unfolding. Spoilers take the fun out of everything, don’t you think?

Happy reading and let me know what you think about “The Girl on the Train”!

Books: 9 Bestselling Kindle Books for $2.99 Right Now!

There are lots of bestselling books on sale for Kindle right now, in case you need some new reading material. Just click on the highlighted link and it’ll take you right to the book on Amazon.

“Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer for $2.99

into thin air jon krakauer

“Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden for $2.99

memoirs of a geisha arthur golden

“Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk for $2.99

fight club chuck palahniuk

Sorry, I can’t talk about it.

“American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis for $2.99

american psycho by bret easton ellis

I haven’t read this one and I think it’s pretty brutal, just to warn you. But his early book “Less Than Zero” was one of my favorite books in my 20s. (It shows pub date of 2010 but it was written in 1985).

“The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver for $2.99

poisonwood bible barbara kingsolver

I haven’t read this one but her “Prodigal Summer” is a great book and Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” is on my bookshelf to be read. Old school style, LOL.

“White Oleander” by Janet Fitch for $2.99

white oleander janet fitch

“All the Pretty Horses” by Cormac McCarthy for $2.99

all the pretty horses cormac mccarthy

“Girl, Interrupted” by Susanna Kaysen for $2.99

girl interrupted susanna kaysen

“High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby for $2.99

high fidelity nick hornby

So these are some older books but EXCELLENT books so I wanted to tell you they’re on sale in case you missed them on the first time around. Or if you’re like me, on a mission to reduce your bookshelf and replace some beloved hard copies with Kindle versions πŸ™‚

ETA 01-26-15: Oops, in the title of this post I originally said “novels” but changed it to “books” since “Into Thin Air” is non-fiction. Sorry ’bout that!

Weight Loss: Ideal Protein Alternative Weekly Diary 01-12-15

bnl ipa diary 011115 (1)

On Monday, 01-05-15, I re-started (again, lol) my Ideal Protein Alternative eating plan and lost 5 pounds in the first week.

See? Now isn’t that motivating?!

I stuck to plan, eating things like:

lean pork chops
chopped salads with Walden Farms dressings
baked chicken
dill pickle spears
coffee or Americano with protein drink
sauteed seafood mix (Trader Joe’s has one with calamari, scallops, and shrimp)
roasted artichoke hearts
Protidiet creamy chicken soup

I was ravenous on Friday so I ate too much but at least they were the right foods πŸ˜‰ I didn’t have any big “cheats” and that’s one reason this diet works so well. You’re getting good food and enough food so you don’t feel so deprived you have to give in. One night, my family had lasagna and garlic bread. Sure, garlic bread can be hard to resist! But I knew I could have a yummy filling dinner, just not that one. One thing I do is try to eat my meal before they do so I’m not “starving” when it’s time to make good choices.

I will say that the official Ideal Protein plan itself IS much more strict. You will feel hungry, deprived at times, but the weight will come off VERY fast!

All in all, my first week back on Ideal Protein Alternative was a good one. I could’ve had a bigger loss if I’d stuck to smaller portions and if I’d not had a glass of wine Friday night. Whatever. I need this to be something I can stick to so if I want a glass of wine after a hard week, I’ll have one πŸ™‚ Deprivation of any one thing does not work long-term.

I hope you had an excellent week as well!

PS: I cover a lot of topics with this blog but if you’re visiting to read about weight loss ONLY, just go to the Categories drop-down in the right sidebar and click Weight Loss. Then only weight loss-related posts will come up.

Blessed Not Lucky.com: Weekly Round-Up 01-11-15

Just some things I saw on the interwebs this week that I thought you might enjoy πŸ™‚

BNL wru 011115

Have you jumped on the bandwagon yet of listening to the “Serial” podcast? I finally did and was hooked about 5 minutes in to Episode 1. I love love love the format! It’s so unique and compelling.

With my Ideal Protein Alternative weight loss plan, I’m often asked what protein drink I use. I like EAS AdvantEDGE Carb Control because of price, taste, and nutritional values.. {Psst! You can get it cheaper in stores than on Amazon . . . . ). I shake it up with ice and a little almond milk in the summer and I use it as a coffee creamer year-round.

Speaking of weight loss, if you feel like this, . . .

. . . maybe you should join me πŸ™‚

I asked around for the candle with the best “scent throw” (yeah, it’s a thing) – in other words, gives off an effective scent – because the Ashland jar candles I’ve been getting for cheap at Michaels aren’t cutting it. By far, Bath & Body Works candles came out on top. I’m going to try this one first. I bet it smells guuuuud!

bath and body candle

Since you like roundup posts – OBVI! – check out Stephanie Howell’s; some good stuff there.

Hope you enjoyed the roundup! Have a great Monday.

Weight Loss: Gearing Up for Ideal Protein Alternative . . . I Really Mean It This Time ;)

BlessedNotLucky.com (2)
Back HERE, I said I was going to start up my diet again (the one where I lost 25 pounds in 1 month last summer) on November 3,2014 and work it through the holidays. Welllllll …. you know what they say about best laid plans, ha! I have my excuses (had a medical issue, tons of work, and busy holiday time) but don’t want to dwell on them. I just need to get motivated and start again. “When at first you don’t succeed,” right?

I’m a Monday Diet Starter by practice (I think it’s almost a religion with me) so I’ll be starting tomorrow, Monday 1-5-15. If you’re wondering what my “Ideal Protein Alternative” diet is, I’ve written about it HERE and HERE. I’ll be doing that plan again – in a nutshell: high protein, low carb, low fat, low calorie. As you can imagine, it’s pretty strict and can be hard to stick to but if you do, you lose weight pretty quickly. I lost weight on this plan WAY faster than any other diet I’ve done in the last 20 years, including Atkins.

For that reason, it’s my favorite “diet” evah! I’m motivated by fast weight loss and nothing else. The old “1-2 pounds per week” just doesn’t cut it for me. As much as I dread missing some foods, I really look forward to how good I’m going to feel when the weight starts dropping off.

To gear up for IPA, I ate low-carb from January 2-4, 2015. Stopping from all those holiday carbs I’ve been eating (I don’t eat sweets but love me some white carbs) is going to be quite a shock to my body so I’m trying to wade into it, so to speak πŸ™‚ Here are some of the things I ate during those 3 days:

Roasted chicken
Green beans
Low-carb protein bar
Coffee with whole cream

I gave up the toast I’d been eating with breakfast (bye bye, white bread, I’ll sure miss you!) and the sides of pasta, potatoes, or rice with dinner. No more Vacation Mimosas (orange juice is LOADED with sugar) and I made sure to include some yummy cranberry juice in my New Years Eve drink. It’ll be a long while before I can have that again. Sniff. I only wish I’d had one order of McDonald’s or In and Out fries for the road πŸ˜€ Yeah, french fries are my kryptonite.

What is yours? What food(s) do you miss most when you diet or follow a healthy eating plan?

Sorry, I don’t mean to sound discouraging about starting the Ideal Protein Alternative way of eating. But I’ve done it before so I know what to expect. While it’s not “hard” per se – because you don’t starve or have to lock yourself in a dark room or anything – it IS a challenge and you DO have to give up some of your favorites.

But like I said above, it’s totally worth it. When you see how fast the weight comes off, it motivates you to continue. You start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Your clothes get loose, the scale goes down, and you’re able to suck it up and live without french fries. I promise.

One day at a time.

If you’re joining me in weight loss – doing this plan or some other one – I just want to say GOOD LUCK! I hope you’ll visit again, let me know how you’re doing, and we can commiserate πŸ˜‰

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Onward and upward.

PS: I cover a lot of topics with this blog but if you’re visit to read about weight loss ONLY, just go to the Categories drop-down in the right sidebar and click Weight Loss. Then only those posts will come up.

Family: The Tradition of Having Chinese Take-Out on New Year’s Eve

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve evening and I just placed our annual phone order with Golden China. My husband will pick it up on the way home from work, along with a stop at the grocery store for Martinelli’s sparkling cider for the kids.

Yes, we’re creatures of habit but let’s put a more positive spin on that, shall we? We love to create and uphold our own little family traditions. It’s fun, we look forward to it, and – perhaps after some fits and starts – it’s predictable each year.

I heard online today that having Chinese food on New Years Eve is a “thing” on the East Coast, so much so that you have to order your food by the day before if you hope to get any. Wow, that’s kinda’ cool!

I’m on the West Coast and I don’t think it’s a “thing” here. Is it? Is it a “thing”, fellow West Coasters? I mean, there was snow in San Diego today so anything is possible πŸ˜€

Photo by:  Ali Inay
*Image courtesy of Unsplash.com

We came about this tradition in a round-about way. It started out many years ago, maybe 15, with Christmas Eve. My husband’s grandparents always invited us to Christmas Eve service at their church. The first year, the service was done, we were all in a happy mood, and HUNGRY! Where could we go at the last minute, without reservations, that could seat 20 people, without too much of a wait? (Some of us had long drives home).

We enjoyed it so much, we kept this tradition of Christmas Eve service, then a Chinese food sit-down dinner for many years. I have great memories of those nights! Everyone was dressed up, the kids shot straw wrappers at each other across the table from their Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers’, the grown-ups talked and laughed, and the food was colorful and delicious.

Sadly, my husband’s granddad passed away and not long after, his bride took on health problems that kept her from church. That tradition died as well πŸ™ However, my own family decided to keep it going in our way, to honor and remember our grandparents/great-grandparents and relive those memories each year. For maybe 2 years, we ordered Chinese take-out that we ate at home after attending Christmas Eve service at our local church.

The downside of this arrangement was that, when our Christmas Day dinner tradition arrived the next day, we still had tons of leftovers and, honestly, no one was ready for another big meal quite yet anyway. So the next year we decided, let’s just move the Chinese take-out dinner tradition to New Years Eve! We’re always home anyway, watching movies and staying off the icy/wet roads with drunk drivers.

And that’s how our New Year’s Eve Chinese Food Take-Out Tradition began and, I hope, shall continue for many years to come.

Happy New Year! I hope you and your family enjoy your own traditions in 2015 – and maybe even create some new ones. God Bless.

PS: One of the best parts of ordering Chinese food take-out is . . . leftovers on New Years Day! And, hence, why I seem to have another tradition of my very own: Starting a diet on January 2. I shall be upholding that tradition this year. Please stay tuned if you’d like to join me in the journey πŸ™‚

Christmas 2014: Beach Time, Internet Detox, and Home Organization

It’s been a while since I posted but I consciously did a bit of a “internet detox” this holiday season. My family was off school and work and I, miraculously, was off work for 10 days! I have several jobs but the main one is typing charts for a busy doctor’s office, so time off is very hard to come by. I’m so grateful to have steady work and to be able to work from home – between playing kid taxi, ya’ feel me? – so I’m not complainin’ just explainin’. Ha! I’m usually on the computer pretty much around the clock for work and family stuff, even entertainment, so it was nice to just step away for a while. Have you done an internet detox?

We spent some glorious time at the beach with extended family and I really recharged my batteries. There’s nothing like sea air, crashing waves, great food, and family that loves you unconditionally <3. I took loads of photos but here is my favorite: IMG_5596

The rest of the time was filled with typical Christmas break stuff: Last minute shopping and wrapping, making our traditional Italian dinner for Christmas, opening presents, visiting nearby family, going to movies (“Wild” awesome! “Unbroken” disappointing, boo hoo), reading books by the fire, and lazing around with my family. {We’re binge watching “Blue Bloods”, an awesome show for families to watch together}. Needless to say, it was the best of times πŸ˜€

I also got the organizing bug and managed to clean out 2 bedrooms, 3 closets, a cabinet, and the kitchen pantry. My bookshelf sorely needed attention – here, see for yourself:


Yes, that’s a lot of books! But believe or not, this is the “purged” version πŸ™‚ About once a year, I go through it to make sure I still want all these lovelies. I adore having my own little library – in addition to the one inside my Kindle – and often re-read and loan books out. In the end, I removed 6 hardcover books which, ironically, were none of my own books but ones I had borrowed and forgotten to return. So there’s something else for the To Do List 2015: Try to remember who loaned me what and return them!

Here is the final result:


Eh, at least it’s an improvement, sagging shelves and all, LOL. It’s mostly fiction but some non-fiction, too. I mainly organize alphabetically by author. This time, I also grouped together all books that have to do with Italy/Europe whether fiction or non. Sometimes I get “in the Italy mood” and this will make it easier to find a good read. I also grouped together weight loss/motivation books, both fiction and non-fiction, for the same reason. Anyway, I’m happy with the results and predict that at the end of 2015, I’ll be doing it all again!

Also on the organizing front, I got my 2015 Dayplanner refill and penciled in all of 2015 with school calendars, birthdays, sports events, and business things; now that feels good! I also found a pretty little journal at Ross while I was Christmas shopping. I can’t find it online but it’s similar to THIS ONE on Amazon . . .

Amazing Grace journal

. . . except the flowers are more like pink roses and it says, “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.” Inside are lined pages with a Bible verse at the bottom of each one. I’m hoping to start a new habit of daily journaling – just real basic “what’s the haps”. Also, I’d like a place to keep random notes and perhaps cut down on my Post It Note addiction πŸ˜‰

So, what was your favorite part of Christmas vacation 2014? Did you get any home projects done or just enjoy your family, friends, and down time? I hope it was a little of both and I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Travel Photos: Sacramento, CA – Fall 2014

When I think of Sacramento, I think of rivers. It’s the capital city of California and it grew up around where two major rivers meet: the American River and the Sacramento River. So pretty much anywhere you go in town, you’re never too far from one of them. This is looking up the Sacramento River with the American right behind me, at Discovery Park. There are lots more photos of this amazing park below.


We stayed in one the many Victorian mansions that have been converted into hotels and B&B’s. They do a lot of weddings at this one; here’s the lobby.


We headed to Old Sacramento and had lunch on the Delta King . . . oh so nice to sit on the water, in the warm sunshine, and enjoy a nice meal and cold drink. We watched the Tower Bridge lift up so a boat could cruise under. This bridge for years was always more of a deep orange color but they now paint it gold and I’m not a fan of the new look πŸ™


There’s a great Railroad Museum in Old Sac. We didn’t make it there but this Mr. Train was posing for us outside the Delta King.


We made a stop at Sock City. Yep, a store with nothing but socks! It was crazy and all I could think was, “I’m so glad I don’t work here!” Can you imagine?? “Do you have any socks with Scotty dogs?” “Do you have socks with ballerinas?” “Where are your San Francisco Giants socks??” Oh my gosh, I would panic! Now I know I saw those somewhere …. ha!



Next was a funky store called Evangeline. This store has been here since the 80s and I visit every time I come to Old Sac. They have the most fun, funky, crazy things here. It’s like eye candy overload, with Technicolor tutus, gag gifts, books, signs, etc. We were there before Halloween and about half the store was COSTUMES! If I lived in Sacramento, Evangeline is definitely where I would shop for Halloween or costume parties.



(I can’t wait to get an iPhone 6; hopefully the quality of my “on-the-go” photos will be better next time!)

On our way back to the parking garage by the Tower Bridge, we made a last stop at the candy store, Candy Heaven. You can take free samples (well, within reason).


This creepy clown is watching you the whole time, so don’t take TOO much free candy!


Back to Discovery Park . . . the tranquil rivers, trees, bridges, and amazing colors . . .






Sacramento, CA is a very picturesque town. We’d planned to go to the State Capitol building and Capital Park but our trip was cut short. As a photo-taker, I was totes bummed. Oh well, there will be a next time! Hope you enjoyed some photos of this pretty town.

Have you been to Sacramento? What were your favorite sites?

Books: “Wild”, “If I Stay”, “Me Before You”, and 3 Other Bestselling Kindle Novels for $2.99 or Less!

I love “Bonanza” days like this on Amazon! I pretty much refuse to pay more than $6-7 for a Kindle book and most bestsellers are normally $9-11 so I snag them up when they’re cheap. If you want to grab any of them, just click on the link above the book cover.

“Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed for $2.99.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I’m not normally a “life’s an adventure” type reader but I’ve heard such good things about this book, I’m going to give it a try. One of my favorite books ever was an “adventurous” book I didn’t expect to like – “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer – so who knows? I just heard they’re making “Wild” into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon – cool!

“If I Stay” by Gayle Forman now $2.99.

If I Stay gayle forman
I started this book and, honestly, couldn’t get into it. Then I saw the movie and it made me want to try again so it’s back on the “to read” list. This is the first in a series; the next book is “Where She Went (If I Stay, Book 2)”.

“Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes for $2.99.

me before you jojo moyes

Get this book! It was SO good in a totally unexpected way. Yes, it was sad but also life-affirming.

“Belong to Me” by Marisa de los Santos only $1.99.

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

I read this book years ago and it was a favorite. I highly suggest you read “part one” caled “Love Walked In” first, though.

Now for a couple “YA” books that are great for adults, too:

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth for $2.99.

divergent veronica roth

This book has over 13,000 5-star reviews so I guess that speaks for itself πŸ™‚ It’s Book 1 in the Divergent series; here are the other 2: Insurgent (Divergent Trilogy, Book 2) now $6.99 and Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy, Book 3) now $6.99.

“The Giver” by Lois Lowry now $2.99, usually $8.99 for Kindle.

the giver lois lowry

I read this book, written in 1993, over 10 years ago upon the recommendation -no, INSISTENCE – of a work friend. Again, this is not my usual genre but it was a quick read and one that really made me think so I heartily recommend it. Pick it up and I’ll bet you finish it this weekend πŸ˜‰ There are Books 2, 3, and 4 to this series but they weren’t written until the 2000’s and I (skeptically) assume they were written to cash in on the YA book series trend.

Hope that gives you some good ideas for Kindle books and saves you some dough. Enjoy!

Deep Thoughts: And It’s Just Like That

Photo by:  Silvestri Matteo

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an older person in my family, a remarkable woman. I feel guilt for not making more time to spend with her because, as they say, she won’t be around forever.

I’ve been thinking about why I feel guilty – familial obligation? No, it’s not that. It’s that I’m missing out on some finite time, time that I won’t be able to spend with her . . . “when I have time.”

I’ve been thinking about why I adore her so much, why I think I should be hoarding time with her, why I’ll weep when she goes.

I’ve been thinking about the shine in her eyes when she sees my family, the hearty laugh, the love of books we bonded over, the instant embrace into her family when I joined the club.

I’ve been thinking about how it must feel to be near the end of your life and knowing, to the bottom of your soul, that you did this thing well. You lived every moment. You loved deeply. You forgave. You laughed. You moved on.

I’ve been thinking about how I’ll want to be remembered when I pass on.

And it’s just like that.

Coffee: Starbucks BOGO Holiday Drinks 11/12-16/14

Attn: Fellow Starbucks Luvahs!

November 12-16, 2014 from 2-5pm – be there or be square. Truth be told, when Starbucks has these BOGO’s, I get 2 for myself, heh. One for now, one for tomorrow. And Rewards members (who, me?) get an extra hour – until 6pm.

Did you know Starbucks has a new holiday drink this year? It’s called the CHESTNUT PRALINE LATTE and sounds yum!

Alas, I cannot enjoy this particular promo because on MY DIET I can only have sugar-free coffee drinks – but thought I’d share anyway!

Weight Loss: Week 1 Diary with My Version of Ideal Protein

As I talked about HERE, I lost 25 pounds in June 2014, gained back 5 in October, and started up my weight loss eating plan again on Monday 11-03-14. HERE is where I’ve shared the basics to my weight loss plan and an offer for you πŸ™‚ If you haven’t read that page yet, I would suggest doing so before you read my weekly posts.

Speaking of which, I don’t want to flood this blog with weight loss posts (for those who aren’t interested in them). Instead I’ll do a long weekly post and put everything in one place: my diary, sample daily menus, new products I’ve discovered, etc. And here we go with Week 1 . . .

First thing’s first: I lost 5 pounds in Week 1!! VERY happy about that. The first week loss of any diet is always the biggest so I know future losses won’t be that big – yet it’s a nice boost to start long-term dieting with.

Days 1 and 2, I was STARVING! But that’s to be expected upon starting a plan that cuts back on the amount of calories, fat, etc. you’ve been eating. I cut myself some slack and ate more food than allowed just to get through it. However, I didn’t ‘cheat’ in the sense of eating french fries or anything. I stayed about 95% on program just with more volume than allowed. It’s so important on this plan NOT to cheat by going way off plan with fast food, sweets, etc. Trust me, you’ll regret it. Since Day 1 was my re-start on this eating plan, I did weigh myself and take my measurements.

Days 3 and 4, I had a headache. I could blame it on stress or cutting down on my coffee to 1 cup per day but it could’ve been the diet as well. I hear it’s quite common to get a headache early on. One cure to try is to up your sea salt – or make sure you’re getting it, if you’ve been slacking.

Day 5, I went grocery shopping and that really helped – to have more variety of foods other than just what I had leftover from my last try at this over the summer. I stocked up on fresh veggies and some seafood.

Days 6 and 7 (the weekend), I was very busy with my kids’ sports activities including sitting for hours to watch them – which I love, but boy did I want to go snack crazy! To combat that, I pre-planned and took a green salad in a Tupperware container both days. About halfway thorugh the day, I ate the salad and it really filled me up. Plus, salads take a while to eat so it kept my mouth and hands occupied πŸ˜€ I had some wine on Sunday afternoon; alcohol is NOT allowed on this program but it’s one of the treats I do allow myself.

I probably would’ve had a larger loss showing on Monday morning had I not had the wine but that’s okay. I feel good about my week and my loss. I had a relaxing time with a glass of cold white wine, sunshine, and a great book. It’s an acceptable trade-off to me and I need the stress relief with my crazy-busy lifestyle.

I keep a food journal every day (very important!) and here are a couple samples of what I ate this week.

Sample 1
B: Baked pork chop marinated in Walden Farms (WF) Italian, salt & pepper
S: Coffee w/vanilla protein drink
L: Trader Joe’s turkey meatloaf w/no sauce (1/3 = 6 oz), lettuce w/WF bacon ranch, Protidiet chips (1/2 pack)
D: Lettuce w/WF ranch, S&P
S: Protidiet chips (1/2 pack)
Drank water w/lemon

Sample 2
B: Hardboiled eggs (2), coffee w/vanilla protein drink
S: Protidiet tomato basil soup
L: Shrimp 5 oz w/garlic, olive oil, S&P
D: Chicken strips (3), gluten-free/no calorie/no fat bbq sauce
S: Hot dill pickles (2), turkey sticks (2)
Drank water w/lemon, chai herbal tea

Here’s a new product I found this week that I’d like to try: CLICK Espresso Protein Drink

Checking it against the IP Alternatives checklist, I see that it’s an allowed item, although Restricted:
At least 12 grams of protein (15 grams)
Calories between 70-160 (120 calories)
Unrestricted 8 or less net carbs/Restricted 9+ net carbs (12 net carbs so it’s Restricted)
30% or less calories from fat (8% of calories from fat)
No aspartame (none; sweetened with fructose and sucralose)

It’s on my Amazon wish list ready for my next order and will be a nice change from my usuals of hot coffee or Starbucks Iced Coffee w/vanilla protein shake for “creamer”.

So that was my first week. I’d love to hear what you think. Please leave a Comment below!

Weight Loss: How I Lost 25 Pounds in 1 Month

In June 2014, I lost 25 pounds. Yep, you’re reading that right: 25 pounds gone in 30 days! I would never believe that amount of weight loss was possible except that I did it. In fact, the first 17 pounds came off in 12 days. I was absolutely stunned. As you can imagine, that kind of rapid weight loss is extremely motivating and kept me going strong for a full month. When June was over, I’d lost 25 pounds!

I kept all 25 pounds off through September 2014, including while on vacation in August. Sadly, in October I gained back 5 pounds (but still down 20; let’s focus on the positive, LOL!).


So – you know what’s coming next, right? Starting in November 2014, I’m working on weight loss again πŸ™‚ I’ll start today on Monday, 11-03-14. I don’t want to put a numerical goal or timeline on it but I have a lot more to lose and will keep going as long as I can. I know that November/December especially will be challenging but, for me, the holidays are a good time to diet. There are SO many temptations, it’s easier to just say “nope, can’t have that; I’m in weight loss mode.” Don’t you hate starting the new year with 10 extra pounds from all the great food? I want to start 2015 with a LOSS, baby!

I’m going to start posting on this blog about how I lost the weight, how I did it so quickly, and how I’m going to keep doing it. I hope these posts can be encouraging to anyone else who is frustrated with the ‘status quo’ ways of losing weight and is ready to try something new – that WORKS! For reals. I mean, 25 pounds in 1 month – it’s kind of hard to believe, right? But I actually did it and know it’s achievable. I know of many others who’ve done that amount and more; it’s very inspiring.

I have a very slow metabolism and a sedentary job as a transcriber / virtual assistant / blogger. In other words, I sit at a computer all day and night. I consider exercise to be “The E Word” that shall never be spoken in my presence and, therefore, all my weight loss has to come from the food choices I make. {Check out THIS past post to see what my doctor said about exercise, weight loss, etc.}

I’ve sworn off Weight Watchers forever. I’ve come to believe that WW is a huge part of the problem, certainly not a solution (but that’s a topic for another post, LOL). I’ve also tried low-carb and had the most previous success with low-carb/low-sugar (I followed the BELLY FAT CURE off and on for a few years). Several years ago, I quit eating sweets altogether because literally one desert would cause me to gain 5 pounds. Srsly. You would think the mere act of deleting sweets would cause you to lose weight, right? Nope, not me. But I still don’t eat them.

Although I could always lose weight, it was painfully slow, involved time-consuming shopping and food prep, and I was hungry. all. the. time. So I’d give up well before reaching any kind of goal I’d set for myself. I’m very impatient and wanted quick results so it all felt “worth it” and I could keep going. The whole “1 to 2 pounds a week” thing just doesn’t cut it for me. I need faster results.

Then one day, I came across an eating plan called IDEAL PROTEIN. Like WEIGHT WATCHERS, JENNY CRAIG, etc., there are Ideal Protein centers around the country where you get a counselor, do weigh-ins, and buy pre-packaged food. However, there were no Ideal Protein centers anywhere near me; the closest one is 60 miles away. Ideal Protein is also an expensive program and not something I could afford, especially if paying for 120 miles worth of gas once a week.

In researching the Ideal Protein eating plan on my own, I was frustrated to find ZERO books on the subject. I did, however, find a lot of resources online where I learned about the plan, what foods you can eat, and how successful it was for a lot of people! {I’ll do a future post with a list of these resources so you don’t have to spend all the time I did in finding them}.

I cobbled all the information together and started my version of the Ideal Protein diet on Monday, 06-02-14. (Yes, I have a *thing* about starting diets on a Monday, ha!). As I said above, I ended up losing 30 pounds in 2 months (June/July). It was difficult but not impossible. I had to kind of make things up as I went along but it obviously worked.

I didn’t use any actual “Ideal Protein” brand foods but found alternatives that were similar. I found a message board full of information and encouragement. I didn’t follow the plan 100%, more like used the principles of Ideal Protein as a guideline and made adaptations that work for ME.

So now it’s several months later and I’m starting the plan again after a break and a 5-pound regain. I’m super tired of losing, gaining, and re-losing the same weight over and over. I need to nip this cycle in the bud and get to it. So wish me luck! And please join me if you’d like.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional of any kind, just a mom trying to losing weight and sharing her story. As always, consult with a health professional before attempting any diet or exercise program.

If you have any questions, please leave them in Comments below!

#30DaysOfThankful: What Is it and What’s the Plan?

To go along with one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place – paying more attention to gratitude and the GOOD things in life when there is so much to bring us down – I’ve decided to participate for the first time in “30 Days of Thankful” (#30DaysOfThankful). With Thanksgiving coming in the US, it’s the time of year we tend to be more thoughtful anyway.

*Image via TheTomKatStudio.com

If you’re a scrapbooker like me me, you may have heard of CATHY Z’s VERSION {I just love that tiny 4×4 WRMK album, don’t you?}. A message board I’m on is doing this as a challenge for a prize – which would be lovely to win but that’s not what’s motivating me πŸ˜‰

The challenge is to post something we’re grateful for on each of the 30 days in November. With your list of gratitudes, you can do many things, such as:

– Make a mini album
– Share on social media
– Make a scrapbook layout
– Share the list with your family
– Write a daily PROJECT LIFE CARD & pair with a photo for a quick album

Or anything else you’d like to do!

I have 2 other journaling-heavy memorykeeping projects going on right now so I’m not going to attempt a mini album or anything intensive. I think I’ll make my daily post on the message board, then compile those into a weekly post here on my blog. I think a daily post here would overwhelm the blog, LOL.

I’ll share my daily posts on Twitter – because gratitude begets gratitude (hopefully), right? I also created a PINTEREST BOARD to gather inspiration for this project. Stuff like this, from Cathy Z, who I mentioned above:

I’d love to have you join in – it’s a Pinterest group board! Just email me your first name/last name or the email address you use with Pinterest, and I’ll add you – send to: erika(at)blessednotlucky(dot)com.

Have you participated in “30 Days of Thankful” before? What form did you use and what was the experience like? Will you do it this year? I’d love to hear your plans!

Blogging: Ultimate Blog Challenge Wrap-Up

I talked about joining the Ultimate Blog Challenge for October 2014 right HERE. Basically, you try to blog daily for a month, hopefully increasing engagement, networking with other bloggers, etc.

Today is 10-31-14 and we’ve made it through the month. The “Ultimate Blogging Challenge” didn’t go the way I expected it to but it was still fun. I started off strong, posting daily for the first 5 days. Then, of course, “life got in the way” with work and some travel taking up a bunch of my time.

I did manage to get 4 more blog posts done by the end of the month, so 9 total during the challenge period vs. the goal of 31 πŸ˜€ Even though I fell short, I’m glad I did it and will probably try again next year.

“Wellllll, kind of . . . ”

It was fun finding other bloggers via Twitter (using the hashtag #BlogBoost). I was also listed in the UBC blog directory. To be honest, I don’t think either thing led to much if any traffic to my blog πŸ™ That was a letdown because I did make it a point to visit some other UBC bloggers and wish they would’ve returned the favor.

I think blog challenges in general are good. The prompts give you ideas if you’re running dry and the challenge itself is motivating. I encourage other bloggers to do challenges like this one.

Gratitudes: Kate Nash, Go “Not Giants”, and New Picoult Novel

I’m not a morning person. AT ALL. So it always surprises me when I have one of those “God, I love life!” mornings. Like today.

– Hazelnut coffee, Kate Nash & He is We on Pandora, and feeling “not frantic” about work today

– Slept well, remembering a nice evening with my family watching the SF Giants lose πŸ˜‰

– It’s late October and still sunny in the 70s and 80s every day

– Red Sox seat covers arrived (thank you, Amazon!) and I’ll rock them in my new car today

– October bills are paid, monthly Costco trip is done, and we aren’t broke

– Looking forward to starting the new Jodi Picoult novel, “Leaving Time”

jodi picoult leaving time

{And Jodi herself just Retweeted me! Wow, great day!}

Those are the things making me blissful today. How about you?

Books: Great Deal on 3 Best-Selling Kindle Novels! Gone Girl, Unbroken, All the Light We Cannot See

I noticed that 3 very popular best-selling novels are only $4.99 for Kindle right now!

“GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

I’ve read this book twice. It was just made into a movie with Ben Affleck (which was excellent, by the way). My advice if you’re going to read it is: Don’t get any spoilers and DON’T see the movie first! There’s a good twist and if you spoil it, the book won’t be as good.

“UNBROKEN” by Laura Hillenbrand


The full title is “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption”. I’ve heard this book raved about since it came out but haven’t read it yet. I did recently download the free sample and loved that so I’m happy to now get the whole novel for only 5 bucks.


I don’t know that much about this book but, again, keep hearing great reviews of it. I’m so happy when they lower the prices of best-sellers πŸ™‚

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you plan to get any of them for this great price?