Singing… “It’s Our Anniversary!”

Books of all genres are published yearly and in various sizes.  Some books are small with a few chapters while other novels are written with over 700 pages. Novels can be captivating, heartfelt, insightful, emotional, adventurous, and enchanting; the list is endless. I can use many of the same words to describe the many chapters of our 34 year relationship.

anniver1Today we celebrate 29 years of being best friends, husband, and wife.  I don’t take the years lightly because when marrying at a young age, the odds for a happy and long-lasting marriage are stacked against you. I purposely use the word “happy” because a lot of couples are married and even for long periods of time, but they are unhappy.  Think about it.  How many times have you heard of marriages of 20 years long, ending in divorce?

Two years ago, I wrote Happily Hitched For 27 Years.  I listed 27 lessons that I learned from our marriage.  Last year, I added to the list and blogged Happy 28th Anniversary Us.   Yet I continue to learn new lessons. If you are in a relationship, married or have intentions of marrying, you should read my posts and share my lessons with your family and friends. I wish somebody had a told me these things beforehand.  Sure, we all make mistakes but some lessons can be learned from the mistakes of others.

As we celebrate our 29th anniversary, we are humbled and grateful that we are merely here to celebrate as one.

This time last year, I could have never predicted where we are today. 🙂

This month, we begin a new and exciting chapter of our life.  Hubby retired and I am on his heels– less than two weeks but who’s counting?  Lol! We put our beautiful home, our friends called “The Resort,” up for sale and it sold within 24 hours. Yikes!!A later post will provide more details.

My point now is to say that the strength of any relationship comes from having faith in one another and commitment to the values established the relationship.  Mutually Inclusive in the values are trust and honesty; which are the makings of any good relationship.

I’m told how “lucky” I am because I have a “good man.”  Well, he’s lucky too, because he has a “good woman.”  ☺

“The most important decision about your goals is not what you’re willing to do to achieve them, but what you are willing to give up.” -Dave Ramsey

Outsiders only see the fruits of the labor in the garden.  They never witnessed the sowing of the soil or the grueling work of kneeling in dirt pulling weeds for extended periods of time in the blazing heat.

In our case, some folk only see the homes, the cars, the vacations, and other stuff that really doesn’t matter. We are rich in health, love, family and loyal friends, but not one of those have anything to do with money.  We work like everyone else.

For 11 years and while working a full-time job,  I worked on my undergraduate degree. Hubby was supportive, encouraging, and picked up the slack at home.  Back then, vacations weren’t in our vocabulary. Someone once told me that I was “crazy for stressing myself out trying to get my degree.”   But… this same person didn’t hesitate to enjoy a margarita in the jacuzzi.  Smh…   They are no longer in my life.

Much earlier in our relationship, when hubby did not rank high enough on the fire department’s civil service list and wasn’t hired, he was crushed.  I stood behind him and pushed him to train and to study harder.  He may have doubted himself but I believed in his childhood dream of a career as a firefighter.  We wanted our own place but realized that we couldn’t afford it, so I lived at home and he lived with his sister.

When we decided to buy our first home (early 90’s), we needed to save a lot of money. We both worked full-time jobs and part-time jobs.  We never ate out.  We stopped buying snacks at Wawa (convenient stores in Jersey).  We only bought necessities. I remember wearing a nice pair of black pumps to work. The bottom sole was worn and there was a small hole in the bottom of the shoe.

I put cardboard inside my shoe so my foot wouldn’t be exposed to the ground.

Our jobs weren’t high paying but we sacrificed and worked our asses off.  In one year’s time, we exceed our goal of saving $7,000 and saved just over $10,000!

These are only a few of many examples of the sacrifices we’ve made and examples of how hard we worked for our family.

I didn’t sit back and expect him to do for me and he didn’t sit back and wait for me do everything.

Let me tell you, the grass always looks greener on the other side but you don’t know what folks are doing to keep that green and plush grass.  So as one of my favorite podcasters says, Keep your eyes on your own paper!”

We’ve both dealt with colleagues and/or so-called friends trying to entice us to cheat and that becomes messy.  Some couples rebound from infidelity while others do not.  It’s just not worth the agony that comes with it.

Marriage is a full time job.  Add kids to the mix and the job is even harder but we made it thus far!  🙂

We’re busy as hell right now but will reap the benefits of our labor later this month and as the year progresses.

Today we’ll celebrate by going out to dinner to one of our favorite restaurants, reflect on the past 29 years and pray for 29 more happy and healthy years.

Happy Anniversary to us!!

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Early 90’s

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Hubby’s 20th High School Reunion

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What Food Labels Really Say

Earlier today on my Instagram page, I shared a picture of a product label.


I tell everyone to read the label on everything you consume.

My mom enjoy’s grapes and she eats a lot of them. The purpose of this update isn’t to throw any particular company under a bus.  Instead, my intentions are to educate you (and me) on why we have to stay diligent in reading labels and doing research on any product we consume (internal or topical).

The more research I do, the more I realize how confusing the lingo and the process is. I am certain this is all by design.  So let’s try to dissect this mess!

Nature’s Partner, a self-proclaimed, family business who grows fruits and vegetables.

The label says: Grown & Packed By VIDEXPORT S.A. DE C.V. * Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico


VIDEXPORT is a produce marketing company and is a partner of Nature’s Partner.


The grapes are a “product of Mexico” and are distributed by Giumarra in Los Angelos, CA.

A closer look at Giumarra reveals that the Black Seedless Table Grapes are grown and exported from Mexico, so I think the mention of Los Angelos on the label is for consumers who think they are buying from the US (a marketing tactic).  At a glance, the label will trick you. Sidebar:  If you wear reading glasses, when you shop for food, start taking your specs with you.

Check out this out!  Some of Giumarra’s produce is USDA Certified Organic while others are not.  😦


Hot peppers, cucumbers, honeydew melons, and grapes are the only products that are NOT USDA Certified Organic.  This makes me nervous and should do the same for you.

Lastly and according to the label, the grapes are

“treated with Sulfur Dioxide for fungicide use”

I am not a science person but I researched Sulfur Dioxide or (SO2) and learned the following about Sulfur Dioxide:

  • It is a chemical compound that is a toxic gas found in the atmosphere.
  • The largest source of production in the air is from the burning of fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities.
  • Short-term health exposure and affect the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult.
  • Children, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma are particularly sensitive to effects of SO2.
  • Environmentally it can harm trees and plants by damaging foliage and decreasing growth and contribute to acid rain which can harm sensitive ecosystems.

So what’s the bottom line?  Do your best (as I do) to buy locally grown produce and freeze them for later usage. If you are more adventurous and like the idea of playing in some dirt, try growing some of your own produce.

Try to buy produce that is grown and distributed in the US.  Produce grown in other countries are difficult for our government agencies to regulate.  They can pretty much do and say anything they want.

Read food and beverage labels.  If you don’t like what you’re read about a product, write the company and/or stop buying the item.

Follow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on twitter and facebook. The agency posts updates on their pages.  You will be surprised by what the information posted on their web page.  The facts are published but consumers rarely make time to read it.

Acquire knowledge, apply it to your life and share with everyone that you know.  Us consumers have to stick together.  When we stick together we have a voice that makes a difference.

Although I grew up helping my mother in our large garden, I haven’t gardened in years. I still have fond memories of picking fresh green beans, peppers, tomatoes, corn, and more from our garden.

Although, it’s been many years I am happy to share with you that this summer, I will start my first vertical garden as well as, a vegetable container garden. I think this a simpler approach to gardening that will work for me and my elderly mother will enjoy helping out. The enormous amount of chemicals used to grown fruits and vegetables have inspired me to return to my roots.

Additional Reading

Organic Standard

Sulfur Dioxide

When to plant

Another Case of Why You Need to Read Food Labels

While I was steaming a half dozen apples that had gone soft, I noticed an apple pie on the kitchen counter.  Mother bought the pie.  Now you know I had to examine the label.

All I can say is damn! Even this label surprised me.  I counted the number of ingredients in this supermarket (who shall remain nameless) freshly baked apple pie and I am floored!!

While the first ingredient is apples, what follows ought to be a crime. Also, notice that sugar isn’t far from the top.  Come on now!  A good apple is naturally sweet and requires NO sugar.   Other UN-NATURAL ingredients include:

While the pie does have “milk,” Eggs,” and “apples,” the bad far outweighs the good. Preservatives digested in the body converts to dangerous carcinogens that studies have shown can cause certain cancers, tumors, and other major illnesses.

I know.  Realistically, to 100% avoid harmful chemicals, one would have to live in a bubble.  However, if you care about your body and your overall wellness, try to minimize the number of toxic chemicals you put in your body or on your skin and hair, as much as possible.  I am not perfect but I continue to educate myself and make smarter choices about the products I consume.


Instead of consuming a preservative filled store bought pie with over two dozen ingredients opt for a cleaner and a healthier version by cooking your own at home.  I cooked my organic Fuji apples on low and I added only TWO ingredients; cinnamon and nutmeg.  My “chunky applesauce” was naturally sweet with NO preservatives and delightfully appealing. 🙂

 

How To Eat Well While Traveling 

Who’s says you have to eat junk when taking road trips or quick getaways?  Seriously if you have time-  wait. My bad.  I mean, if you make time to prep before traveling, you won’t get stuck eating sh** then feeling like sh**.  


Instead of relying on horrible and packaged rest stop or airport food that ultimately leave you feeling sluggish, lethargic, and Sleepy, take control with a trip to the market before leaving. 


Slice your food if necessary, then wash and dry them. 


Yeah, you’ll need to invest a little time, but I promise, you’ll be glad that you did. 🙂


Pick your favorite fruits and veggies and have fun with packing. I forgot the carrots and celery but I have plenty of natural sugar and vitamins.  Slice and peel the oranges so there’s no mess in the car, train, bus, airplane, or even the beach. 


A great way to monitor your portions is to pick up a box of portion pack snack bags from Walmart.  Mmm- blueberries! 

Don’t forget to wash the appples too. Put them in sandwich bags or gallon size freezer bags. Again, all the hard work is done in advance. 

For a refreshing treat, mix the blueberries or strawberries with some granola. Yummy! 

 

Then enjoy your trip! 🙂

Enjoy your holiday weekend. 

Small Change Net Big Results

While browsing the frozen section of the grocery store for my son for real ice cream as opposed to my liking for natural homemade natural ice cream, I stumbled on, a blast from my past.  🙂

At age 23 Chunky Monkey was my prescribed best friend! Who doesn’t know about Ben & Jerry’s delicious, unorthodox, and addictive flavored ice cream!  I was pregnant with my daughter and was under doctor’s orders to gain weight, which was an enormous challenge for me.  My Obstetrician, Dr. Chong, told me that I was too skinny.  Dr. Chong wrapped his child-sized hand completely around my upper arm and pointed to my branch like boney limbs,

“You need to eat.!  You too skinny!”

Since supersized servings of collard greens weren’t doing the trick, I resorted to fudge sundaes during the daytime at work and Chunky Monkey ice cream at night.  :).  I still didn’t gain weight but continued on with my love for the fatty delectable dessert.

Until recently, when I saw my old treat in the freezer, I had forgotten all about it.  I was curious about the nutritional label and had to sneak a peek at the label.  Back then, I don’t think I noticed food labels. My girl Oprah says it best.  “When you know better, you do better.”  She’s right.

Twenty-nine years later, I finally read the jaw-dropping label. Hoooooly Moly!!

28 grams of sugar X  4  servings is 112 grams of sugar!!!!

300 calories per servings X  4 servings = 1,200 calories!!

300 grams of fat per servings X 4 servings – 112 grams of fat!!!

I’m dying thinking about this… mouth wide open…. thinking about how many times I ate a full pint and what the contents were doing to my body.  It makes me wanna barf.  Ugh!

Looking at me then, I appeared to be the epitome of health, and for the most part, I was healthy, or so I think.  However, my metabolism was high, my body processed the food quickly and at almost 5’9, I weighed 125-130 pounds.   Surely had I continued to eat Chunky Money at this pace with a few other bad food habits, I was on my way to being overweight and dealing with health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease and more.

Back then, even though I overindulged in sugary treats like this, I also balanced out my diet with daily servings of fruits and vegetables.   A high metabolism and good genetics kept me slim and trim, and I did not have any health issues. But the fact is, my diet exceeded the daily recommendation for… well. Everything.

Today I thank God for putting me on a path to a better place where I learned to make smarter choices about my health and well-being.

Too frequently though many people wait until a medical condition dictates a lifestyle change.  Particularly women.  Women of color.

In 2014, the CDC (Center For Disease Control and Prevention) reported the leading causes of death in ALL black females ALL ages were:

Heart disease – 23.2%

Cancer – 22.5%

Stroke – 6.2%

Diabetes – 4.6%

Chronic lower respiratory disease – 3.2%

Alzheimer’s disease – 3.1%

Unintentional injuries – 3.0%

Kidney disease – 2.0%

Septicemia – 2.3%

Hypertension – 1.9%

Heart disease (22.3%) and cancer (21.6%) remained at the top of the list for ALL females, ALL ages.

When you consider the fact that lifestyle behaviors can significantly reduce women’s risk factors for these illnesses it is disturbing.

If you have prediabetes, research shows that losing 5%-7% of your body weight and getting at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity like brisk walking can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

(CDC)

Why do women wait until a doctor tells them that a lifestyle change is in order?  If we learn to listen to our body, it usually sends signals by responding to the food we eat, the beverages we drink, and other behaviors. If you walk up a flight of stairs and you are out of breath, that means something.  When was the last time you had an annual check up?

Take a pledge to live a healthier lifestyle.  Even better, commit to a better lifestyle with a family member, a friend, or a colleague. Try a new recipe, join or start a walking club, take a yoga class, take a strength training class, or something else, just get busy moving.   Please!

Oh and… if you’re gonna get down with Ben & Jerry’s, remember portion control or better yet, try making your own healthy chocolate ice creamAvocado Ice Cream or a quick frozen strawberry yogurt. Making your own is healthier and more fun.

Making small changes in your life can net significant health benefits. Instead of attacking your health with major changes, start with minor changes like drinking more water and less juice or soda, reducing the amount of sugar you put in your coffee or substituting one high-fat food item with a lower fat food item. Take the stairs instead of escalators and elevators or do jumping jacks or pushups during commercials of your favorite TV show.  Over time, you will experience big gains. Whatever you do, don’t give up on yourself because I won’t give up on you.

Grad school is slowing my posts, but I’m still here.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Smooches!  🙂

She Has Outlived Three Vegans!

G’Mom Dynamite is 83!!   In the morning, she enjoys her duo of a cup of freshly ground Joe with her smokes. Like, a hot apple a la mode served with creamy vanilla bean ice-cream, the two pair nicely. When she gets up in the morning, I encourage her to pick something healthy to eat.  I make sure I keep her favorite fruits on hand.  But, at her age, who am I to tell her what to eat, how often, and how much to eat?

Regardless of her 60+ year relationship with non-filtered cigarettes and Gin (the 70’s), old Grand Dad (the 80’s-90’s),  or Hennessy (late 90’s to present), she is still alive and kicking.  I may live a healthy lifestyle but there is still no guarantee that I will live age 83.

Medication for high blood pressure doesn’t stir her to read labels or to give up her prepackaged high sodium favorites like this Spicy Miso Ramen Noodle Soop! 920 grams of sodium per serving! Holy cow!  Yuck!!  But I see her point that she’s lived through eight decades.

My mom has outlived three vegetarians in our family, who never drank, smoked, or ate any form of meat or seafood.

Lol! It’s funny but not really. I miss my cousins and aunts.  But I see her point.  Take my beautiful cousin Marlene for example. RIP cuz.   She lived a clean life but died in her early 40’s while battling breast cancer. I respect my mother’s point-of-view but continue to encourage her to make healthy food

LOOK AT THE SODIUM!!!! 

choices.  When she talks about dying, which is often and I say, “While you are living, let’s focus on quality of life.”  She responds,  “Tanya, you can’t live forever!!  She looks at me and cracks up laughing!   I join in with her laughter and know that, for the most part, I am wasting my time.

Seriously I contribute mom’s longevity to her upbringing.  Mom and her siblings were poor. They ate fresh everything!  My grandmother managed the family’s health with natural herbs like goldenseal, poke root, catnip, dandelion, fennel, nettle, and more.  I’m not talking about the stuff in a bottle. I’m speaking of the plants, roots, and grounded powder versions. The grandkids in my generation helped momma make capsules for the family.  They never ate out in restaurants, drank soda, cool aid, or any of that. Their eggs came from farm raised, grass fed chickens. The well water they drank was fresh and wasn’t contaminated by the chemicals that taint our current water supplies. Life and the food supply was simpler.

As I was about to leave for work the other day, I noticed her morning snack before breakfast: grapes and apples! I didn’t say a word but could not help smiling and chuckling. When she turned her back, I snapped a quick picture!!  Lol!! Hmm… maybe she is listening.

Her snack made my day! 🙂

Take care of yourself in 2017!