Friday, November 18, 2022

Fly On The Wall: Swimming With Stingrays


Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado, Today, 3 bloggers are opening their homes to give you a glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors. 


The nosy fly at my house got a free trip a few weeks ago when we took a much-needed vacation after the crapstastic summer we had. I really needed a break after suffering the loss of my precious pup four months ago. AARP was kind enough to publish my story (which went live while I was on vacation!) about losing Savi and how it triggered the pain of many other losses in my life. I think it is one of the best personal essays I have ever written and I hope you'll take a look at it...but I'll warm you, get out the tissues! This was a rough one to write (you can read it HERE). You'll understand why our vacation came at just the right time. 


Last year I wrote about my first cruise experience in October 2021 and the fun we had with our family. This time, Hubs and I took a romantic five-day cruise of our own to the Caribbean. There were lots of activities on the boat as well as off-shore excursions in the Bahamas. Since I had already gone swimming with dolphins before, I wanted to try something different....like STINGRAYS! Hubs was nervous because all he could think of was Steve Irwin's tragic encounter with a stingray, and he was convinced that he'd suffer the same fate if he dipped his toes in the ocean. But I've always loved stingrays and touching one has been on my bucket list for several years. So you can guess who won THAT argument about our choice of excursion activities.


Overall, the cruise was a blast, but since it was a smaller ship, we were limited as to what we could do onboard. I mean, there were only so many bars we could visit in a day.....and since we aren't gamblers (i.e we SUCK at it), we spent the majority of our time sitting by the pool with martinis in our hands. 


I did participate in some fun dance classes---a Hip Hop one and a "Brazilian Dance Moves" class---both of which were a riot! This old girl can still shake what Mother Nature gave her (in a good way, not a saggy skin way, ha-ha). Mac wanted to try the "Flow-Rider" surf pool but I think he secretly drew a sigh of relief when it was closed each time he approached the ride (next time, Hubs...I need to film your wave-crashing wipe-outs!). 


We thoroughly enjoyed the swim-up bar on the cruise ship's private island. The water was freezing cold, but after several Coco Loco cocktails, I was swimming like a mermaid. Made some new friends, too, although I remember very little after the 7th cocktail that day.....




One of the highlights of the trip, of course, was the graceful stingrays. The first time I touched one, I thought the skin felt like a wet mushroom! When I told the tour guide this, she gave me a weird look like she thought I was craving stingray kabobs for dinner. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get photos of this awesome excursion because we left the island early and forgot to view/order the professional photos. So you'll just have to take my word for it.



Despite these activities, one of my favorite things to do on the boat was.....nothing. I loved sitting back in a lounge chair and witnessing the most glorious sunsets from the deck. As I sipped a glass of champagne, I turned to Hubs and said, "Are you ready to book cruise number three?" He gave a quick nod, raised his glass, and we toasted to our next adventure at sea. 


***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? Other than the AARP piece on grief, I am also honored to have a new essay published in The Huffington Post (about being a grandmother with multiple tattoos) which you can read HERE. Plus another food article on the best dishes for Thanksgiving that I published last week on AARP, which you can read HERE.

Buzz around these other blogs and check out what the fly has been doing in their homes!

Baking In A Tornado                                https://www.BakingInATornado.com

                              

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver         https://thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Best Holiday Gifts For Dog Owners


With the holiday season upon us, everyone is trying to figure out the best unique gifts to give to the people they love. If you or your family members and friends own dogs they adore, why not consider a special gift for pet lovers? I've seen some really cool items out there, including designer pet collars, plaques, photo pillows, clothing, jewelry with your pet's name on it, and blankets that have pet pictures sewn into them. But what has really caught my eye this year are dog portraits. I love the idea of turning my dog's photo into art and also being able to select the costume he will appear in. I can do all of this easily without actually having to dress him up and pose him (because he would NOT like that) for a whimsical portrait. How cool is that?


There are so many other clever gift ideas out there for pet owners. If you like clothing with your pet's breed on it, you'll find plenty of options online. I've also seen crystals with a pet's image scanned into them, which I think is a perfect gift for dog lovers. 

Another dog gift item I found interesting is a personalized, life-size plush animal made to replicate a beloved pet. This would make a great holiday gift for any dog lover, but I also think it's a touching way to memorialize a pet who has passed away. I lost my sweet pug Savi several months ago, and I would love to have a plush replica of my sweet fur baby. I like the idea of customized jewelry for her as well.

For now, I'll be ordering the pet portrait for the holidays. I can't think of a better gift for myself or my dogs! 


***Disclaimer: This blog post is in partnership with Responsival.


 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Fly On The Wall During The Season Of Birthdays

Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings, hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, 3 bloggers are inviting you into their homes for a sneak peek at what goes on behind closed doors. 

The fly on the wall at our house has been buzzing around several birthday celebrations; my own and my daughter-in-law's. My wee little granddaughter also has a birthday coming up next week---her fourth. Of course, Nonni is baking her favorite cake and spoiling her with lots of presents befitting of a princess. I can't wait until she opens the gorgeous costume dress I bought her!


The day after my birthday, I was feeling all warm inside from the love I received and wanted to thank my friends and family for making my day so special. Here's the letter of appreciation I posted on social media to all the amazing people who have enriched my life beyond my wildest dreams:




"I love Facebook birthdays because it’s so cool to hear from everyone —-and so many awesome people I haven’t seen in many years. I appreciate that each and every one of you took the time to write on my timeline with best wishes. I’ll admit it made me sentimental and a little teary-eyed because you all made my birthday so special! I tried to thank everybody individually so I hope I got everyone. Please know that I appreciate every single one of you. 💕 When I woke up yesterday morning on my birthday, it had rained the night before and there was a lot of water left glittering on the leaves of the trees. The sun was shining and I swear the water looked like hundreds of diamonds on the leaves. I walked outside into my garden, took a deep breath, and thanked the powers that be that I was lucky enough to be alive and healthy for another day. At 63, I am at that age where I appreciate every breath that I take. Life is too damn short. I know that sounds cliche but seriously; Live it. Love it. Even when it hurts. It’s still a gift, and we need to take it all in while we can—- the good with the difficult/challenging times. Yes, I feel incredibly lucky to have the love & support of my family and friends. Thanks for making my life the colorful canvas it has become. I appreciate each and every one of you, today and every day. And yes, I’m aware that I sound like a hallmark movie but it’s all true 💕 LOVE TO ALL ❤️ ❤️❤️"

Here are a few photos of the fun-filled day I had (actually, I just want to relive the happy moments again, okay??) Also, send more cake, please!! 




My daughter-in-law celebrating her birthday with me








 










***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? You can find me on AARP sharing seasonal root vegetable recipes HERE. I also have several new articles up on TheMidlife.com including a funny take on my husband's perspective of menopause (read it HERE) and several about HRT remedies that you can read HERE, HERE, and HERE

Check out these other awesome bloggers in today's FOW posts!

 

Baking In A Tornado                                https://www.BakingInATornado.com

                                

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver         https://thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog




Friday, September 23, 2022

Fly On The Wall Of Financial Woes

     Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, four bloggers are bravely letting you into their homes for a sneak peek at what goes on behind closed doors. If you were a fly on the wall at my house these past few weeks, you'd hear a lot of complaining about expenses. First, we had to pay off the medical balance for my sweet fur baby's surgery and ICU time. As you know, we lost her despite making heroic efforts to save her. This hurt us in more ways than I can express. Then, we really got slammed with repair bills in August and September. My laptop needed a new battery, my home speaker system blew out, the car still needs a new alternator and the hot tub got fried when the power went out and now needs a new motherboard---all ridiculously expensive. Is Mercury in retrograde again?? Not to mention the increase in interest rates and oh-mm-gee, GROCERY PRICES! My youngest moved back home temporarily a few months ago and all he does is EAT.  

     But all is not lost. I am incredibly grateful to have my whole family living nearby and they are the joy of my life. So who cares if things are tight right now? Next month looks promising! Anyway, here is all the bitching that the fly overheard in my house this month:



"How do you like your expensive new lenses?"
"These progressive glasses make me feel progressively worse about my finances." 



"What's on your bucket list?"
"In light of our recent bills, you can forget my bucket list. I can't even afford the bucket."



"Since we can't afford to go out this weekend, why don't we make a picnic lunch and go to the beach instead?"
"No way--- the last time we did that, you forgot to bring the sunscreen and I ended up looking like a six-month-old forgotten potato in the back of the vegetable drawer."
"At least you didn't grow sprouts...." 



"It won't be like this forever once we get caught up on our bills. There really is a light at the end of the tunnel."
" I hope I see the right light at the end of the tunnel before I see the other one that says, 'Go toward the light..."


"This beach sand is impossible to remove from my feet. It sticks like glitter."
"Hey, that's a great idea---I could invent sand glitter foot scrub and get rich."
"Only if you invent the removal first." 



"Why are you making such an ugly face?"
"Because I'm reading our latest electric bill."
"Don't hold that expression for too long--it might stick."
"As long as we keep getting outrageous bills like this in the mail, this IS my new face."

     Well, it looks like we both have new faces now after paying all the bills. At least they're paid up!

***Want more Meno Mama? I've been super busy---buzzing around the web faster than any old fly. My latest articles for AARP include one for yummy dessert recipes (read it HERE) and a humor piece about my bucket list (read it HERE). And then over at Family Matters, I have a piece up about best historical dramas (yes, I'm an addict!) which you can read HERE. I have also been writing for a new website called The Midlife.com. You can read it HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE Enjoy!

 

Buzz around these other blogs for a peek into some other homes:

 

Baking In A Tornado                                https://www.BakingInATornado.com

                                

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver         https://thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog

 

What TF Sarah                                      https://crazymamallama.blogspot.com/

Friday, August 26, 2022

Why Every Woman Over 40 Should Be Taking A Collagen Supplement

My body has been going through a lot of changes since menopause hit over 10 years ago. My hair has thinned and my nails are far more brittle. As expected with aging, my skin isn't as firm as it used to be and my body isn't quite as flexible. I wake many a morning with stiff joints and need to stretch before getting out of bed. 

When the people from Collagen For Her reached out to me, I learned all about the benefits of collagen for women like me and wanted to share the info with my readers. They have some really great products I know will interest you! Here's what they have to say:  

Why Every Woman Over 40 Should Be Taking A Collagen Supplement

Collagen often gets attention for its glamorous beauty benefits but there is so much more to collagen than just hair, skin, and nails. While collagen can be linked to beauty benefits like improved skin elasticity and hair growth, it also has a wide variety of benefits for joint pain, bone health, digestion, and gut health. Not to mention, it is also a pure form of protein that can be especially beneficial to women over 40. 

Many of us have already started to see some of these changes come about with age, so it is important to understand the science behind collagen and how it can have a positive impact. To better understand how collagen can have positive effects on all of these things, let’s first cover the basics of collagen, how it works, and how to pick the best collagen supplement for you (plus our favorite pick!). 

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. Collagen makes up 70% of the protein found in our skin, 90% in our connective tissue, and 90% in our bone mass. This is why collagen is often referred to as “the glue that holds the body together” because without collagen our bodies wouldn’t be able to perform a lot of their essential functions. 

While our bodies do naturally produce collagen, unfortunately, the older we get the less collagen our bodies are able to produce. Starting around the age of 25, our bodies naturally start making about 1% less each year. That means by the time we are 50, our bodies can have 25% less collagen than they did when we were 25! Since so much of our skin and bones are made up of collagen, a lack of collagen in our bodies can be a contributor to a lot of the signs of aging such as wrinkles, thinning hair, and joint pain. 



How Does Collagen Work?


The reason collagen has so many benefits is because of its unique amino acid profile. Collagen peptides contain a combination of essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the human body, meaning the only way to get the amount your body needs is through dietary sources or supplements. Non-essential amino acids can be produced by our bodies even if we do not get them from the food we eat. Even though our body can make non-essential amino acids, we need to ensure we are getting the proper amounts because they are very important to our overall health! The various essential and non-essential amino acids all have different benefits that enable our bodies to function properly. 

When collagen is taken as an ingestible, it is absorbed into the bloodstream, helping replenish your body with collagen. We recommend looking for collagen peptides that are "hydrolyzed", which means that they have been broken down through a particular type of water synthesis to allow them to be absorbed much quicker than non-hydrolyzed collagen or gelatin. Hydrolyzed collagen then provides amino acids that are needed by the body to build connective tissue, help regenerate cell growth, and see all the potential benefits. 

Collagen for Joints  

Did you know that 90% of bone mass is made up of collagen? When there is a lack of collagen in the body, health issues such as joint pain, arthritis, and osteoporosis can occur, so it makes sense that one benefit of collagen that we are constantly hearing positive feedback on is joint pain, arthritis, and all those other aches and pains that tend to start popping up the older we get. 

Four of the amino acids in collagen that directly impact joints and bone health are histidine, isoleucine, valine, and leucine. These four amino acids in particular have been shown to help heal and repair muscle tissue, facilitate muscle protein synthesis and maintain muscle mass, support joint function and regeneration, and have anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease joint pain and stiffness. 

As an added bonus, these amino acids also can help regulate blood sugar, control weight and cholesterol levels, and prevent the breakdown of muscle by providing extra glucose for energy. 

Collagen for Digestion & Gut Health   

It is no secret that what we put into our bodies plays a huge role in digestion but aside from just the foods we eat, supplements can also help to regulate digestion and keep our gut healthy. Studies have shown that collagen can help aid digestion, reduce gut inflammation, heal stomach ulcers, and regulate acid secretion. 



Collagen for Hair 


Let’s talk about hair growth! Hair is primarily made up of the protein keratin. Our bodies use amino acids to build keratin. Since collagen is rich in amino acids, it can aid your body in the production of keratin and in turn, help to strengthen hair. The amino acid proline is the main component of hair therefore, consuming proline-rich supplements like collagen can help provide your body with the building blocks it needs to create hair. 

Collagen for Skin 

When we think about collagen and skin, the first thing that usually comes to mind is collagen creams or injections because these are the traditional ways that collagen has been used to improve skin; however, collagen powder has become increasingly popular in recent years. 

You’ve probably heard the phrase “beauty comes from within” meaning that the way we look on the outside has a lot to do with what we are putting into our bodies (food, drinks, supplements, etc). Collagen supplements have proven to be significantly more effective than topical products because our bodies can actually absorb the supplements whereas topical products just sit on our skin. When collagen is taken as an ingestible, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, helping replenish your body with collagen more effectively than a topical product.

There are two particular amino acids that we want to highlight as they have been shown to directly impact skin: lysine and methionine. Lysine is an anti-aging agent that helps prevent hair loss, combats wrinkles, and strengthens the elasticity of skin. It also has additional benefits like helping leaky gut syndrome and improving bone health. Methionine is a powerful antioxidant and plays a critical role in your body’s metabolism. It has also been shown to help fight radicals in your body and slow the aging process.



Collagen as a Protein Source

 

As we mentioned, collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and since collagen is a protein that comes from animals, collagen powders also contain protein. Protein makes up the building blocks of organs, muscles, skin, and hormones. Our bodies need protein to maintain and repair muscle tissue and can also help lose weight, decrease belly fat, and increase muscle mass. Getting enough daily protein is very important to overall health as we get older, so adding a collagen supplement to your diet can also help get in some extra protein. 

How to Pick the Right Collagen Supplement 

The most important factor when deciding which supplements to take is knowing how bioavailable they are, meaning how well they are able to be absorbed by the body. The definition of bioavailability is the degree and rate at which a substance (i.e. a supplement) is absorbed into a living system (i.e. our bodies). Anything we put into our bodies (vitamins, minerals, supplements, pharmaceutical drugs, etc.) will only take effect if it can be absorbed by the body. This is why it is important to know how bioavailable collagen supplements are before choosing one. 



Our favorite collagen supplement for women is Collagen For Her. All of their collagen products pass the bioavailability test and on top of that are non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and soy free (plus, it’s a woman-owned company). A great place to start is either their Unflavored Collagen Peptides or Multi-Collagen Capsules. The unflavored collagen peptides are flavorless and tasteless, so you can add a scoop to coffee, tea, smoothies, baked goods, etc. One scoop has 11g of collagen and 10g of protein. If you prefer collagen in capsule form, their multi-collagen capsules are a great option too. 

If you are looking for even more benefits for hair, skin, and nails, check out their Marine Collagen Beauty Blend. This product is sourced from marine collagen, so it is pescatarian friendly and contains 100% daily Vitamin C, biotin, and hyaluronic acid in addition to collagen for added hair and skin benefits. This product is also flavorless, so you can add it to just about anything. One scoop contains 5g of collagen and 5g of protein. 

If you want to try out Collagen For Her’s products, you can use the code “MENOPAUSALMOTHERfor 10% off through their website here. All of their products are also available on Amazon and you can save 10% on every order when you choose the Subscribe & Save option. Shop on Amazon here!


Friday, August 19, 2022

Fly On The Wall In The Quiz Room

     Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings, hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, four of us are bravely opening our homes for you to "fly" in and see what goes on behind closed doors. 

     The fly is all-a-buzz about the new school year now that the youngins' are back in the classroom this month. Some students started off their first day with a quiz from teachers who were overly optimistic that the kids actually read the three books assigned to them over the summer. I loved to read as a kid (and still do) so these little quizzes were a cinch for me. But how about a fun quiz for the grown-ups that offers a peek into our personal lives? There's a quiz that has been floating around Facebook for a while, and I always get a kick out of what people score. Oddly, it's the people I recall as being the shiest and quietest in school who surprise me the most with their answers. Apparently, some of them took a walk on the wild side after graduation. Good for them! Life is too short to stay bored!

     This is how the quiz works: 1 point for every item on the list you have NOT done. I'm sure there are some interesting back stories to several of your answers, so please feel free to share your score in the comment section below (and expound a bit on your answers. I am nosey, after all....). Here are my answers with a few explanations thrown in. 


NEVER HAVE I EVER......

1. Broken A Bone: YES. Broke my left arm in 2 places while playing a rousing game of frisbee my freshman year in college. Yeah I know, I'm a klutz. 

2. Skipped School: YES. My parents were out of town and my boyfriend came over. My older sister vouched for me, telling the truant officer when he came to our house that I was "sick.".

3. Fired A Gun: YES. A rifle, many times, for target practice. 

4. Been Skydiving: NO. I won't get on a plane let alone jump out of one!!

5. Ridden In A Limo: YES. I've ridden in several limos to special events. But I guess I can't count the time I rode in one to a funeral, right? We didn't even get a complimentary glass of champagne in that one!

6. Had Braces On My Teeth: YES. For 4 long, miserable years. My overbite was horrible from years of sucking my thumb as a kid. 

7. Had A Massage: YES. But I always feel a bit awkward having a stranger give me a rub-down. 

8. Gotten A Tattoo: YES. I'm up to 9 tats now and have plans for several more....yes, I'm addicted. 

9. Gone Swimming In The Ocean: YES. This is an easy one since I live near the shore. 

10. Dyed My Hair: YES. Blonde, black, brown. purple, pink, and candy apple red. 

11. Watched Star Wars: YES. Saw the original when it debuted in May of 1977. Shut up--I'm old!

12. Ridden A Horse: YES. But not in a gazillion years and I'd love to get back in the saddle again. 

13. Gotten A Ticket: YES. I was going 40 miles over the speed limit at 3:00 a.m. I was 21 and stupid. But the cop sure was cute.

14. Gone Scuba Diving: NO. Even though I live near the ocean, this activity does not interest me because SHARKS.

15. Eaten Sushi: YES. Not a fan of raw fish. I think it's gross. 

16. Been To Other Counties: YES. After graduating from college, I went to 23 countries in 2 months with a group of students. Soooo much fun!

17. Ran A Marathon: NO. I get out of breath in Zumba; there's no way I could run a marathon, let alone a few blocks. But I did win a pie-eating contest. Does that count? 

18. Ridden On A Motorcycle: YES. Many times. Dated a guy who had one. The bike was fun but they guy was not. 

19. Been On A Train: YES. Went from Spain to France with a group of friends when I was 21. Good times!


20. Ridden In An Ambulance: YES. Unfortunately, several times. Remember, I'm a klutz.  

21. Gone Ziplining: NO. But I plan on doing it during our trip to the islands in October. Bucket list item!

22. Needed Stitches: YES. More times than I can count. Again, KLUTZ.

23. Been Camping: YES. Several times and loved it. But now I prefer "Glamping."

24. Gone On A Cruise: YES. My first was last year. I fell in love with cruising and have another planned for October.  

25. Been Arrested: NO. Not even close. Wait, did I just jinx myself?

26. Been Married? YES. 38 blissful years together. Best friends and partners for life.

27. Been Divorced? NO. There were lots of relationships I've "divorced" myself from but legally, no. 

28. More than one piercing? YES. Relax--it's just three holes in each ear. I don't have any of that belly-button-nose-ring-lip-ring stuff going on. 

29. Been On TV? YES. Several times---I was on NBC to promote my first book in 2014. My husband and I were also guests on National Geographic twice for all the chinchillas we owned. I was on several talk shows about menopause and midlife. All fun experiences but damn, it really is true what they say---the TV makes you look ten pounds heavier. GAHHHH! 

30. Sang Karaoke? YES. After too many cocktails. Pat Benatar's "Hit me With Your Best Shot." It wasn't pretty. 

     How did you score on the quiz? I got a 6 out of 30. Not too bad for this old gal. Okay, kids, class is dismissed! 

***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? Checkout my latest pieces for AARP on classic board games https://www.aarpethel.com/lifestyle/6-classic-games-to-play-with-your-grandkids and another on yummy Summer salad recipes: 

https://www.aarpethel.com/lifestyle/6-cooling-summer-salads-to-beat-the-heat I also have a new article up on ALWAYS PETS about dog-friendly restaurants: https://www.alwayspets.com/s/dog-friendly-restaurants-us-5eabe59118804f28


Buzz around some of these other sites and see what you think. 

 

Baking In A Tornado                                https://www.BakingInATornado.com

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver         https://thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog

Go Mama O.                                       https://gomamao.com/posts/


 


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