enjoying life

5 Fast, Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

blog2 edible christmas trees

Looking for a festive addition to your holiday buffet that offers a tasty alternative to sugar-laden treats? Here are 5 colorful options that are fast, festive and easy on the calories. Presenting: EDIBLE CHRISTMAS TREES!

The kiwi tree comes complete with ornaments – with very little assembly required!

5 Fast, Fit and Festive Christmas Foods

If you want a little more drama, start with a styrofoam cone and some toothpicks to have your tree go vertical. Berries, melons, kiwis – plenty of fruit options to make your own masterpiece!

Fat Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

For those impromptu gatherings, you probably have the ingredients for a vegetable tree in your fridge already. Sliced pepper stems, cauliflower tree lights, broccoli floret greens all make great substitutions for the cucumber/carrot/tomato version shown. While a click on the picture gets you to the site it originated from, I couldn’t find the specific link for this  tree. I suspect you’ll be okay on this one without specific instructions!

Fast Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Tree

Does it get easier than a one-fruit tree that’s naturally decorated in Christmas colors?? Click on the picture for Eating Vibrantly’s suggestion on attaching the “tree trunk.”

Fast Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

These pita trees are a great choice for an appetizer to contribute to the office party or family potluck. You will arrive knowing that no matter what is on the buffet, you have a great choice to snack on. They look artful and the recipe is an easy mix of seasoning, fat-free sour cream and guacamole. This substantive finger-food is a calorie bargain at only 30 per tree!

Fast Fit Festive Edible Christmas Trees

Christmas Trees never tasted so good!

Make Me Laugh!


It’s Friday!!! Best way to celebrate is with some humor! (Maybe we should change this to Monday Morning Mood Makers!!). Any who – enjoy the following Friday Funnies – in no particular order.

  • In honor of our weight loss journey

Zero to Eight

  • Just because it made me laugh


  • Because I recently had to show my granddaughter how to play solitaire after she lost electronic privileges.


  • Because it reminded me of some of the ‘hearing (loss)’ funnies shared at our house lately.

Recipe Error

Birthday Suit

We feel you are now sufficiently (and possibly inappropriately) armed and dangerous and ready to enjoy the weekend (like that never happens!).

12 Ways You’ll Know I’m Close to Goal Weight

blog2 goal weight

I thought I’d beat the New Year’s rush and get started on a weight-loss program before the holidays. I’m not one of those people who tries every diet that comes along. No – I know exactly what works. It’s as simple as less calories in, more energy out. So what a rude awakening it was to discover that knowing what works isn’t enough – apparently one has to actually do what works. Ugh!

I am a grown woman – I can “just do it,” right? Well, that is what I kept telling myself. The mantra works in so many other areas of my life, but no matter how much I mentally beat myself up for not having more “willpower,” I could not “just do it.” It was quite humbling to have to admit that I need external assistance if I’m going to change things. So I mentally reviewed my distant past, when I looked my best, and asked myself what was different back then. It didn’t take me long to figure it out. Accountability. The buddy system. Having someone who counted on me as much as I counted on them to keep heading toward the goal. But I don’t have close friends nearby, I no longer live in a neighborhood where I can recruit a neighbor to walk, nor do I have a schedule that allows for driving to a gym 2-3 times a week. By necessity, I got a little creative. I called a professional friend who had recently had a total knee replacement and worked in an office a few blocks from my own office. Having had two total-knee replacements myself in the past couple of years, I pitched the idea of doing something to protect our new knees.

I am a life-time member of Weight Watchers – a feat achieved three decades ago while in my twenties. Not that the organization would claim me as a spokesperson at this point, mind you. One of the reasons the habits learned back then may not have really taken is because I had a bad attitude. Well, maybe more arrogant than bad. My twisted logic included premises such as on weigh-in day I could splurge because I had six days left to “fix it” before the next weigh-in.

12 Ways You'll Know When I'm Close to Goal Weight

But I’m older and wiser now, with  a new and improved attitude! I know the program really boils down to making wise food choices that include variety and moving more. It has the built-in accountable-to-self component with the weekly weigh-in and I  had found somebody who had a common goal, thus creating that mutual accountability component. So now I am ready to head, once again, toward the feeling-my-best coveted “goal weight.” I remember well the excitement felt as clothes became loose, energy increased and I closed in on that reasonable number that both my body and wallet (no more payments when you maintain goal weight) would thank me for. I also remember how those last few ounces seemed to mockingly hang around, delaying the big day, and the weigh-in-day creativity of members who were mere breaths away from “goal weight.” So I’m already planning ahead for success. Here are twelve ways you will know that I am ounces away from the magic number:

  1. My eyebrows are plucked into commas;
  2. My legs are shaved despite the fact that there’s snow on the ground;
  3. My short hair just got shorter;
  4. I turn down coffee on weigh-in day;
  5. There’s only a white stripe where the wedding ring I hadn’t taken off for 38 years used to be;
  6. My skin is hot pink from having the top layer loofahed off;
  7. My fingernails have been trimmed to almost nonexistence;
  8. I seem to be flossing my teeth excessively;
  9. My face is make-up free;
  10. I’m going sockless in spite of my mother’s lifetime warnings about how doing so ruins your shoes;
  11.  I refuse to put a band-aid on a profusely bleeding papercut;
  12. I’m pulling lint out of my pockets.

So if you run across me and I’ve got a smile and a swagger, don’t let the pink skin and the funky eyebrows fool you – it will mean that I’m enjoying some sweet success!

What weight-loss program, plan or tips work for you?

More Friday Five Funnies (Vol. 3)

More Friday Five Funnies 3

We’re ready for a little down time after a hectic week! We figured that might work for you, too – so we’re sending you into the weekend with a few chuckles. We have plucked 5 favorites off our Facebook page that have been posted since our debut sampling of FB funnies and the summer update smiles. Enjoy!

Friday Five Funnies


Friday Five Funnies

Friday Five Funnies

Friday Five Funnies

Friday Five Funnies

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our Facebook page yet, drop by for a visit. We hope you LIKE it!

5 Ways to Put a Smile on Someone’s Face

5 Ways to Put a Smile on Someone's Face

“Be the reason someone smiles today.” Seeing that slogan pop up on social media regularly attached to lovely pictures and happy faces can fade into visual noise after a while. But it’s a terrific daily goal to set. Being the reason someone smiles benefits you as much – or more – than the recipient of your kindness. Oh, I know you’re not kind to get the physical, emotional, and spiritual lift that studies indicate doing good for others result in, but those are wonderful side effects, don’t you think?

Putting a smile on someone’s face is  as easy as offering a compliment or encouraging word. If you want to add a little creativity to the mix, here are 5 more ways to light up someone’s day:

  1. Give the compliment they can carry with them. Type out compliments on some make-your-own colorful business cards that can be found at office supply stores. Smile-inducing statements like: You have a beatiful smile! and That color looks wonderful on you! and Most fun shoes I’ve seen all day! and You are great at your job! Put a rubber band around your stack, carry them with you, and pass them out generously as “needed” throughout the day!
  2. Give a moment of your time. Next time you get good service at a restaurant, fast food place, hardware store, etc., ask to speak to the manager. They will be pleasantly surprised to be summoned for a positive reason and the employee may get props. A couple of days after letting a Best Buy manager know how an employee went above and beyond to offer assistance on, as we found out after the fact, the employee’s day off, we returned to the store. There in the Best Buy entryway was a framed picture of our awesome helper with a sign that proclaimed him “Employee of the Month.” Quite a payoff for a few minutes of time!
  3. Give the unexpected. Pick up some flowers while you’re grocery shopping – a little bouquet or mini-potted roses from the floral section most stores have now. After you pay for them, hand them to the person behind you in line and tell them to have a nice day. You’ll both end up smiling!
  4. Give them a reminder. Let that person whose company you enjoy, but rarely get to connect with, know you’re thinking of them. Use social media to send a bright picture (maybe of something they collect or a place you visited together?) with your just-because-I’m-thinking-of-you message. Sending a text or leaving a voicemail can be just as effective. Recently I remembered an adventure (okay, more of a misadventure) a friend and I had shared years ago and I called her to tell her how it still cracked me up. I deliberately called at a time I didn’t think she’d answer so that she would get the surprise message. I couldn’t get through the message without laughing as I recounted the memory. Which made her laugh when she received it. Mission accomplished!
  5. Give a blast-from-the-past. Send a hand-written thank you note to someone who has touched your life by some act they wouldn’t expect a thank you for. That wonderful role model, or a person whose wise advice has stayed with you, or someone who inspired you to take action. You know – that person who puts a smile on your face just by thinking of them. It’s your turn the make them smile!

Mary Tyler Moore isn’t the only one “who can turn the world on with her smile”* – we ALL have that power. Let’s go forth and use it well!

5 Ways to Put a Smile on Someone's Face

*If you did not recognize that reference, it may indicate that you aren’t in your fifties – please know that you are still welcome here!

Motivational Monday #24

One of the mottoes that became popular in our generation is “Plan your work and work your plan.” So many of us set a goal and tried to work our plan diligently – only to meet with rejection from a third party who seemed to have the power to thwart that goal. The job that wasn’t offered, the submitted writing that was declined, the invitation refused – such obstacles to attaining a long-term goal can leave us with an overwhelming feeling of frustration or failure. We may be tempted to ignore the obstacles or force a  path through them because we are so intent on working our plan. But sometimes an unforeseen event, a perceived obstacle, can be a significant opportunity. Motivational speaker Steve Maraboli  certainly sees it that way; he said:

Motivational Monday #24

Stop Trying to Save Toads

Stop Trying to Save Toads

I see them flailing from my kitchen window. I know if I don’t help, I’ll find them lifeless in the skimmer later. So I stop what I’m doing and head out to save more toads. One would think I’d be a Toad Hero, right? But no. They actually fight my attempts to save them, diving toward the pool bottom or skittering away across the water surface. They dodge the life-saving shallow net I dip in to carry them to safety.

Each successful save is lifted out of the pool and gently turned out on the grass. Yet I receive no grateful croaks. Some of the toads, without even taking a few minutes to enjoy their new lease on life, head straight back toward the enticing water. They’ve already forgotten their panic-stricken flailing from moments before – they only have eyes for the sparkling surface ahead. You just can’t save a toad that is determined to jump back in the pool.

If you have a toad in your life, one that races back to the water no matter how many times you have scooped it out and laid it in the gentle arms of safety, you have two choices. You can either scoop until your arms finally give out, or you can acknowledge and accept the fact that toads have no heroes.

Albert Einstien probably had toads in mind when he said the following: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

Celebrating National Johnny Appleseed Day

Johnny Appleseed StampSeptember 26 is National Johnny Appleseed Day. For those of you who may not be familiar with this oft-overlooked holiday, here’s the lowdown on who Johnny is and how to celebrate the day!

I know when I worked with 3rd graders, Johnny Appleseed was celebrated and taught with enthusiasm. He is an affable American hero that we can all be thankful for. Even if you don’t like apples or apple pies or apple fritters or applesauce or apple muffins or dried apples or bobbing for apples or making apple witches (seriously – does anyone not like something here?)… you can enjoy the story and legend behind his germination of apple orchards throughout the Midwest Ohio River region.

John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, was born September 26, 1774 – hence the timing of Johnny Appleseed Day. Rumor has it Johnny’s orchard smock was made from a coffee sack with holes cut out for arms and he wore his cooking pot on his head while traveling. Can’t verify that is true, but it does make for some great graphics for posters and children’s books.

JA was able to acquire large tracts of land from western Pennsylvania along the Ohio River on which he transported 16 bushels of apple seeds and saw to their plantings. At that time, certain requirements were set before the colonies granted land rights. There was an act defining how the land was to be used.


 Why should we care about the lowly apple? Henry David Thoreau, a naturalist and noted author, took time to pen the following related to the timing of men’s and apple’s appearance on the earth.



So.. here at FBFGF, we offer the following apple related choices for your celebration of Johnny Appleseed Day:

  • The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin: A great book about the life of an orchardist. It’s fiction that rings true. The story revolves around William Taldrage’s care of his apple and apricot orchard and the peace and solace it provides him. It also provides insight into the thinking and hard work of a dedicated and professional nurseryman. For some time I have nurtured the fantasy of being an orchardist, but details like hard work and commitment didn’t enter in to muddy my fantasy!


The Orchardist

  • Apple Butter. Who could resist the opportunity to have this great smelling concoction simmering away while enjoying a lovely fall day full of your favorite pursuits?? Click on the picture for a great recipe courtesy of Cooking Light.


  • Baked Apples. My husband and I found these pottery dishes for baking individual apples. (This must have been in one of the in-between times when we didn’t have any chicks that had yet to return to the nest and individual dishes seemed like a great idea.) We just wash the apple, core it, place it in the dish and cover with cinnamon, brown sugar, whatever other spices look great and bake at 350° for about 20 minutes. This is one of our favorite desserts!


  • Apple Products. Mac Book, ipad, iphone – all great devices which can add new dimension to your busy lifestyle and streamline certain processes. They also teach great lessons in why we don’t always need to be connected to our great devices. We can use the apple logo to remind us to get out and enjoy the natural things in life from time to time. I’ll bet there’s an app for that!!!


  • Apple Cider/Wine. I feel wine of any sort really needs no explanation. If you feel like making your own apple wine, click on the picture for instructions. If you would rather just pick up a bottle, I am sure this seasonal wine is available at a great artisanal wine shop somewhere near you!



Take some time to celebrate the versatile apple and give thanks for all it’s history and delightful pleasures!!


Bonus Apple Facts:

  • Scientists believe that apples were first domesticated in the Tian Shan region of southern Kazakhstan. In fact, by as early as 2000 BC, domesticated apples were being grafted in the Near East.
  • The Greeks and Romans introduced the domesticated apple to North Africa and Europe during their trading and conquests.


Let Them Eat (Watermelon) Cake!

Let Them Eat (Watermelon) Cake!

Seeing this simple watermelon “cake” in Good Housekeeping magazine last year piqued my interest. Guilt-free cake? Could it be? OK, so it’s not really cake – but it meets all the requirements for a special occasion. Visually pleasing? Check! Delicious? Check! Festive? Absolutely! And – bonus! – it’s GOOD for you! So if you’re looking for something to do with the last of the season’s watermelon crop, throw a party – and let the guests eat cake!

You can keep it simple by coring a cylindrical piece of watermelon, “frosting” with a frozen whipped topping and decorating with fruit.  Voila! Your 10-minute cake is complete – and lovely!

Image courtesy of Good Housekeeping

Image courtesy of Good Housekeeping


If you want to take things up a notch, you can gussy up your cake by patting on sliced almonds or crushed walnuts along the sides of the “frosting” and creating a pattern on top with fresh fruit.

Image courtesy of paleocuppord.com

Image courtesy of paleocuppord.com


Or skip the “frosting” and go right for the heart for a fat-free delight!

Let Them Eat Watermelon Cake!


Watermelon cake is a healthy “sweet” for any age!

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Image courtesy of Pinterest


Get creative – your cake decor options are as limitless as your own imagination!

Image source thrivenutritionandwellness.wordpress.com

Image source thrivenutritionandwellness.wordpress.com


But  just so you know, while I’ve been sold on watermelon “cake,” I am taking a pass on watermelon bread!

Let Them Eat Watermelon Cake!


If you want to see a speedy version of one way to cut up a watermelon for a nicely-shaped cake, check out this brief YouTube video: