Dog days

Last night, my dog bolted out into the dark Carolina night. In a panic and with all the grace of a foal trying to ice skate, I ran out in search of her. The back step and concrete porch caught me unawares. I think I broke my damn toe. So, here I sit, at the urgent care waiting to discover the damages. Lucy, of course, rolled back in at 3 am positively vibrating from the excitement of her midnight run. Not a shred of shame or remorse was expressed. Dog days indeed.

Packing and suitcase living!

Crazy move time is in full effect here at Casa Bal. Over the years, I’ve developed a system for planning and packing a suitcase. It can be applied to short and long term situations. I’ve included a video that shows my suitcase packing in-progress. Here is my formula for packing:

  • Step 1: Determine the length of time you will be living from your suitcase. In our case, we will be looking at 10-12 weeks. The example I’m giving here covers 6 days but the formula is he same! Dig out a suitcase that meets your needs. It should comfortably hold your items! Clean it out and remove any old tags. Be sure to attach an ID tag with good contact info. If your bag gets lost or misdirected, this makes it easier for the airlines to identify your bag. Don’t skip this!!
  • Step 2: Once you have your days/weeks figured out, check the weather forecast for your destination. If it’s been warm and is predicted to continue to be warm, you can automatically eliminate unseasonable items. Choose basic staples to mix and match. Add in a few small accessories to make each outfit look unique. Establish a standard travel outfit to wear on travel days. Personally, I choose baggy jeans, a neat knit top paired with slip on shoes and a cardigan. I pack my suitcase from the bottom up. Bottoms and shoes on the bottom. Skirts, dresses and tops in the middle. Accessories and personal hygiene miscellany on top. I usually wedge lingerie in on the sides or slip it I not the front pocket. 
  • Step 3: Here is a video of my process:
  • Extra tips: There is debate as to whether to fold or roll your clothes. I’ve done both and personally found neatly folding works best to maximize space. Consider baggies for your shoes and bringing a thin laundry sack for dirty items. If your bag does not have a waterproof compartment, be sure to pack any liquid items in a ziplock. Be prepared to take them out for inspection if you aren’t checking the bag. Use the front pockets to put items you may have forgotten! Also, if your budget allows and you are not checking bags, consider purchasing travel size toiletries at a local apotheke or druggist upon arrival. The cost may be worth easing your way through security. 

What packing tips do you have? 

Moving on!

It’s that time of year again for the Bal casa. Time to head ’em up and move ’em out! Our European adventure is drawing to a close. Movers arrive in less than a week to pack us up. Having moved dang near every two to three years with a brief exception in early 2000, I have developed a few techniques and tips since my almost constant state of moving began in 1996. I’ll parse these out over a few posts and try to include a video too so it isn’t overwhelming. You need not be military to benefit from this info either. Our job force is more mobile today than ever. The chances of staying in one location get slimmer as people relocate for better opportunities. Moving is stressful BUT that stress can be kept to a dull roar with a little planning. 

Moving can be a great time to declutter and scale down. The good will in Colorado Springs may have cringed everytime they saw us because we brought tons of donation items. The first place I recommend culling is your closet. Here are some guidelines:

  • If it is worn, torn, stained and not fit to be worn outside the house, toss it. Do not donate it!! These items are unserviceable and it creates a strain on charities to sort and toss them. If you won’t wear it, no one else wants to either.
  • If it doesn’t fit but is in good condition, donate it! 
  • If you just aren’t in love with it and cannot remember when you last wore it, donate it. 
  • Go through your shoes and use the same process. Get brutal! 

You’d be shocked at how much you can downsize just by going through your closets. If you are moving cross country or overseas and carriers are transporting your goods, you will need to be sure to pack in a suitcase those clothes you are keeping out of the shipment. I like to make a list of what I think I’ll need to pack. It helps me feel less overwhelmed and gives me a starting point. Tomorrow I’ll post my process for packing a suitcase. I’ll include a video and some lists. You can use this process for relocation travel or travel for pleasure. Let me know in the comments what tips you have for de cluttering your closet!

Overdue and technically..meh

Okay, as promised, here is my quick 5 minute face video. Technically the video runs just over 8 minutes. Chalk it up to my being Ms. Chatty mc-chatty pants. It’s how I roll. This is my basic, super quick “I don’t really want to do this but it might prevent my scaring small children” face. Ignore the hair. The hair has its own story too long to post today. Now that I’ve figured out how to work and even charge the video camera, I might be doing more video posts. Let me know if you have any topics, etc that you might want to hear about. I promise to bring the witty tomorrow. Today, there is just no wit to bring. So, without further ado, here is the video.

Look better, feel better

Let’s address a topic which with most moms are intimately familiar. The dreaded daily frump. We’ve all done it, I’m sure. Kids need to be ushered out the door, errands run, and households maintained. If you don’t report to a nine to five job, it can be easy to let it all go. Heck, even if you do have a nine to five, it can be easy! Jeans become almost a uniform unless you’ve made the transition to yoga pants in the ultimate declaration of not giving a crap. Hair is slicked back into a messy ponytail and makeup? Ha! As if! Now, let’s be real. Jeans and yoga pants aren’t going away for most of us. The hair and makeup, on the other hand, is something you can tackle in less than 10 minutes. Stop making that face! You know I’m right. Mom always told me that when you look better, you feel better. Whenever I was sick, her prescription was a bath, getting dressed, and doing my hair at least. You know what? Even when I was still sick, looking better made me feel better. So, here are some tips and a before and after:

1. If you need to wear the jeans and yoga pants, make sure they are clean and free of unintended holes. Pair them with a colorful shirt. You can still look neat and polished when you are casual.

2. Brush that hair and pull it back into a low bun. You could also brush it and simply pin back the sides. Pinterest has loads of ideas for quick, casual hair.

3. Develop a five minute face. Mine consists of It cosmetics products: cc cream, bye bye undereye concealer, lip gloss, vitality face disk with blush and bronzer, tightline mascara and a quick gel liner. 

          A. Smooth on the cc cream just like a moisturizer. 

          B. Apply concealer in a pie shape under the eyes. Set with translucent powder.

          C. Apply the luminizer, bronzer and blush from the face disk. 

          D. Swipe on a quick lip gloss and mascara. Line your eyes if you have time. 

I did a video but it turned out badly. So, I’ll redo it and post it in the comments this week. Until then, a quick before and after shot. It’s not super glamour and not the best look but it will do in a pinch. So, I challenge you to look a little more polished this week even if it’s only for one day. You might find you feel better and that’s always a good thing 😊


Out on a limb!

I started a Facebook group!!! It’s designed to be a support network for people living with hypothyroidism. A little personal history: over ten years ago, I was diagnosed with hashimotos induced hypothyroidism. Also, my second child was born with congenital hypothyroidism. Suffice it to say, I have a lot of experience with the thyroid!! It’s dismaying to see the misinformation out there about this disease which affects lots of women. Most disturbing is the propagation of excuse driven victim hood. Yes, this sucks!!! BUT with proper treatment and self care, you can thrive. I aim to prove it!!! Join me,  if you like. I’m interested in all experiences. We are in this together!!!

The thyroid debate

It’s not as trendy as the gluten debate but it holds personal appeal. Why? Well, I happen to have hashimotos induced hypothyroidism. Recently, I joined a thyroid support group on Facebook. Let me say that there is a lot of support and a lot of good info but I’ve also noticed some bad info. It’s bugging me enough that I’m going to blog it. So here goes:

What is the thyroid?

It’s is a butterfly shaped gland in the neck that secretes hormones which regulate the body’s metabolism. (Mayo 

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism occurs when the gland does not produce enough of the necessary hormones to regulate metabolism.

Who can get it? What causes it?

Anyone can get it but it is most common in women. There are many causes! has an exhaustive list. A few causes are autoimmune disorders and even medications. 

Is it hard to treat?

No! Not in theory but you might a few visits and dose adjustments to get things up and running proper again.

This is a very cursory introduction to hypothyroidism. I recommend you consult an endocrinologist for more information. Also, you can read up on the thyroid via the web but proceed with caution. Choose credible medical sources!!! Endocrine has articles authored by physicians. 

Hypothyroidism that is properly treated should have you feeling back to normal. You should also be able to lose weight. One small study presented at the 2013 American Thyroid Association meeting showed, however, that just over half of the patients in the study lost weight. It was undetermined as to why that occurred. It would be nice to see a study done to better understand why so few seem to lose the weight they may have gained. 

Here are my personal observations based solely on my own experiences (I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice!)

1. Just because you are feeling symptomatic doesn’t mean your levels are off. It’s possible that you might have some other deficiency. Get your doctor to run some tests. If you still feel off, get a second opinion.

2. It’s very important to eat healthy, unprocessed foods. Keep a food journal. Often, I’ve found that I was consuming far more than I was expending. Be brutally honest with yourself about your diet. 

3. If you afford it, get a device like a Fitbit or vivofit that tracks your steps and daily calorie burn. Fatigue can stem from too much sitting just as it can stem from hormonal imbalances. If you are only burning 2000 calories in a day and you are eating 2500, you will gain weight! 

4. Accept that you are going to need to get in tune with your body. Pay attention to your skin, your bowels, your mental state-everything! Over the years, I’ve come to recognize when things feel off. Sometimes it’s been my thyroid; sometimes not!

Your best resource is your treating physician. If you are unhappy, be a proactive patient and seek a second opinion. It may be that a change in providers is needed. It’s not a personal dig on the doctor, it’s your health! 

Stay healthy my friends!

Rock n roll and rest days

Today is a rest day from my turbo fire program. Feeling restless, I decided to go buy our tickets to def leppard. It was a good choice because they are almost sold out. Hubby would never have forgiven me if we’d missed it! During their hay day, if my memory serves me correctly, I saw them in concert. My hair was enormous and rest days weren’t a necessity. My hair might need to become enormous yet again. Big hair is awesome. At least, for one night it will be awesome. 

The hardest part 

for me has always been consistency, especially with nutrition. That’s why this blog is my accountability partner in some ways. The posts aren’t always witty or even well written. My goal is just to write about whatever project is on hand. Right now, I’m working my way back to fit. So, candidly, I’ll tell you the truth. The workouts have been done. Workouts I love!! The sweat and the grit culminating in a big endorphin rush is addicting. The nutrition, on the other hand, has been a challenge. My weight has been stagnant the past two weeks. Why? Because I’ve been less than disciplined with my food. Traditional calorie counting just doesn’t work for me. I hate it and tend to not write little cheats here and there. So, it’s back to the nutrition plan from 21 day fix. No calorie counting needed. Cheats are even planned in three times per week if I want them. The container system is so easy. Easy is a big big plus. I’ve also enlisted my husband as an accountability partner. When I want to dive into a bag of chips or eat a burrito while chugging a cold beer, he’s my on-call “eyebrows of disappointment” tether who reels me back in. The ultimate goal: being consistent and disciplined in all areas of my life. Oh yeah, I’d like to have visible abs at some point too. How do you keep yourself accountable? 

Healthy under pressure 

My new kitchen gadget obsession is my power pressure xl. It’s an 8 quart electric pressure cooker in a jazzy turquoise color. There is no other way to make hard boiled eggs ever!!! Seriously, it takes 6 minutes under pressure and you’ve never peeled eggs this easily. Tired of dry chicken breast? You need a pressure cooker in your life. I have a ton of recipes that came with the cooker. They are all scrumptious sounding but not all are healthy. Since (in my last post) I’m tightening my belt on nutrition, what I eat has to be healthy. I’m going to healthify some recipes and create some of my own specifically geared to the pressure cooker. For those of you following the 21 day fix or portion control plan, I’ll try to get the container counts to go along with it. The goal is healthy food fast!!