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Archive for September, 2022

Happy Wednesday, dear reader! I finally have a moment to catch my breath after having a busy September. During this month, I took a break from Beachbody on Demand, walked when I could fit it into my schedule, and ate clean about 80% of the time. I did not do any DVD workouts.

This past Monday, I started Round 2 of Clean & Lean. I will follow the clean eating guidelines as closely as possible. In addition, I started a new exercise program on Beachbody on Demand called 4 Weeks for Every Body taught by Autumn Calabrese. Each week consists of four workouts with three rest days. Today is a rest day, but I will walk after dinner for at least 30 minutes. And, I plan to walk or ride my bike the other two days. Yesterday’s leg workout was so tough that my legs felt rubbery afterwards. Terrific workout!

I weighed in this morning at 153.5 pounds. I have lost 1/2 of a pound since 31 August with an overall weight loss of 8.5 pounds since 01 June. I have basically been maintaining my weight the last few weeks. Personally, I think intermittent fasting along with staying away from soda, fried foods, and added sugar helped me maintain. When I do indulge, it is in moderation. I choose the treat for one meal or snack instead of an all day affair. I would love to see 149 pounds by the end of the 30 days.

Since cooler weather arrived this week, it finally feels like autumn. Cooler weather makes it more comfortable to walk outside, and I can fit it in my schedule earlier in the day. As always, dear reader, I am excited to see what I can accomplish in the next few weeks concerning my health and well-being. What are you doing to improve your health? Happiness!

“Food can be fun and exciting, but never forget that it’s your body’s most important fuel.” ~ Ian K. Smith, M.D.

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Dear reader, the fall season is here, and I could not be happier. Autumn is my favorite time of the year! It generally brings cooler weather (currently in the 90s in my neck of the woods), seasonal traditions associated with two holidays I celebrate, Halloween and Thanksgiving, and cozy activities that can be enjoyed with family and friends.

My Fall Fun List includes activities that I want to take delight in throughout the entire season; however, there will be an emphasis on the spooky season since Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year.

  • Do some baking. Since the weather will be cooler, I want to do some baking. In addition to baking Autumn Pumpkin Cake, I plan to bake Caramel Latte Bread. I’d also like to try some new recipes that are not overly complicated.
  • Send greeting cards to family and friends. I love sending cards to my family and friends. It is a wonderful way to let your favorite peeps know you are thinking of them. I decorate the outside of my envelopes with stickers, holiday return address labels, and holiday stamps.
  • Decorate for fall/spooky season. I went decor shopping for the fall season again with Kelsi. We had a terrific time. I have also gone shopping with my hubby and my friends, Shelly and Helen. Everything is still in boxes and bags; however, this weekend the decorating begins.
  • Carve a pumpkin. I have a strong desire to carve a pumpkin this year. It has been ages since my family has carved one. I might even carve two.
  • Hang out with friends. It would be nice to do some fall-related activities with friends. Maybe, we could sit around an outside fire with a fall-related cocktail, roasting marshmallows or hotdogs.
  • Read spooky books or books with autumn vibes.

The stack of books I want to read this fall is already substantial; however, I have not even added my book club selections for the next two months or a nonfiction selection for November. While there is a possibility I might not get to everything on my autumn TBR, I will definitely read Needful Things in October and The Dead Zone in November because both books are part of my Year of King project with Kelsi. In any case, I have chosen some terrific titles, and I cannot wait to dive in to some spooktacular stories.

  • Participate in the #moremontgomerychallenge. I have been following Mitzi on booktube since the beginning of this year and decided to participate in a challenge she is cohosting this fall. The focus of the challenge is to read more works by L.M. Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables. Mitzi inspired me to read Anne of Green Gables a few months ago, and I absolutely loved it. So much so, that I immediately bought the sequel, Anne of Avonlea, which I am currently reading for this autumn challenge.
  • Watch spooky movies or movies with autumn vibes. I have picked out 15 movies I want to watch during the spooky season. Kelsi and I are watching My Best Friend’s Exorcism together at the beginning of October. Since we both loved the book by Grady Hendrix, we are extremely excited to watch the screen adaptation. I am also pumped for the new releases, Hocus Pocus 2 and Terrifier 2.
  • Launch Kat’s Novel Adventures. I am one video away from getting my YouTube channel up and running. I have been collaborating with Kelsi on her channel, Slime and Slashers, for almost two years, and it has been a great deal of fun. Although my channel will focus mainly on book-related content; I also plan to create videos focused on some of my other interests.

In addition to everything on my Fall Fun List, I will be performing in an Improv Showcase on October 16th with my classmates. I have tickets to see Greta Van Fleet in New Orleans on November 1st. I will be attending the play, The Jungle Book, at the Columbia Theatre either November 12th or 19th. I have to buy tickets soon. I am thrilled about all three events.

What a fun time of year! As you know, dear reader, I love having a plan for each of the seasons. It enriches my life and helps me appreciate the joyful activities each season has to offer. What is on your fall fun list this year? Happiness!

“Autumn … the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~ William Cullen Bryant

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Greetings, dear reader! It is hard to believe that today is officially the last day of summer in the United States. I had a sensational summer and accomplished much of what I included on my Summer 2022 Fun List and from the Summer Bucket List hosted by It’s A Charming Life.

I knew this summer would be a little different than most summers because I was not returning to my job at HGCS in August. Therefore, I packed my summer with a variety of activities that included travel, reading, movies, improv, theatre, getting together with friends, and home improvements.

So, here were the activities on my list, and how I did:

  • Engagement Party for my niece Kaitlyn and her fiancé Marc
  • The Audubon Croppers (TAC) Scrapbooking Event with my scrapbooking gal pals
  • Trip to New York City with Andrew
  • Saenger Theatre in New Orleans to see Hamilton
  • Year of King Project with Kelsi (“The Mist” and “1408,” IT, and Cujo)
  • Slasher Movie Marathon with Kelsi
  • Gardening (front of the house)
  • Sprucing up the Front Porch
  • Home Office Makeover
  • Work on my YouTube Channel (hoping to launch after Labor Day)
  • Audition for The Jungle Book at the Columbia Theatre

We enjoyed a delightful day at my niece’s engagement party. Kaitlyn and Marc’s wedding is at the beginning of March 2023. I attended my annual scrapbooking event with my friends; however, I did not get much done due to forgetting supplies/tools and not being prepared enough. It was still fun to get away and spend time with Shelly, Heather, and Donna. My trip to New York City with Andrew was FANTASTIC! We had a terrific time, and I cannot wait to go back. I really must write some future posts about our adventures. I finally saw Hamilton! I went to New Orleans with Shelly, Kerry, and Andrew, and we saw it at the Saenger Theatre. It was incredible!

Kelsi and I continued our Year of King project throughout the summer. We both participated in a Slasher Movie Marathon, but our schedules could not align to record a wrap-up. I enjoyed most of the movies I put on my list; however, Maniac (1980) and Graduation Day (1981) were a little over the top and not my favorites.

Needless to say, I did not do any gardening this summer, unless you count watering my plants. I want to pull out some overgrown plants in front of my house and redo my garden. I do not know what I was thinking, but July is definitely not the best time to tackle that project. As for sprucing up my front porch, I did not complete that task. I want to pressure wash the siding and paint the shutters. October will be a more favorable month to complete those two projects. The heat had nothing to do with not making over my home office. I decided to tackle other areas of my house first. I will eventually get there.

I have been taking small steps regarding my YouTube channel. I REALLY want to launch my channel with an intro video before October; however, I have a bunch of reading deadlines I need to complete first. I am trying not to stress about it. It will happen. I just need to be patient. As for auditioning for The Jungle Book at the Columbia Theatre, I tabled the idea. I have a bunch going on in my life that I did not feel I could add another thing to my plate. I did get to participate in two readings of the play during the summer. I took an Improv Workshop with Rich Talarico in July. I am currently taking an 8-week Improv Class through Anubis in Metairie. And, I just finished acting in a mystery dinner theatre at the Columbia Theatre. So, I have been doing quite a bit in the acting arena.

All in all, I think I did a pretty good job. I completed almost everything on my Summer Fun List plus enjoyed time with family and friends sprinkled throughout the summer.

  • Times Square in New York City

Additionally, I did some of the activities from the Summer Bucket List which also enriched my summer.

Out of the 10 activities on the Summer Bucket List, I wholeheartedly participated in 6 of them. I am a nature lover, so Nurture in Nature was easy along with Whimsical Wildlife, Floral Frolicking, and Soak up the Sun. Reading is my favorite activity, so I got plenty of Delightful Daydreaming done every day. Ice cream on several occasions, in moderation, fulfilled Cold Confections.

If I would have planned a bit better, I know I could have done all 10 activities on the list. However, it really is not so much about quantity, but more about quality. The activities I participated in brought me lots of JOY.

I’ve included a few photos below that highlight those summer bucket list activities. Taking photographs this summer has been pleasurable. Dear reader, you are welcome to check out more photos I took over the summer on my Instagram (katherineloyacano).

The sun is setting on this year’s summer. While it is hard to say good-bye, this summer had a slow, languorous feel to it. I am fortunate I did not have to go back to school the first week of August. I am grateful my hubby took vacation the week of Labor Day, and we spent it together. I am overjoyed about everything I have experienced this summer season. Happiness!

“When summer gathers up her robes of glory, and, like a dream, glides away.” ~ Sarah Helen Whitman

Note: Photo at the top is by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com.

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That’s a wrap, August! I was able to complete six books in the month of August. As of today, I am 13 books ahead of schedule. I will definitely reach my Goodreads goal of 50 books by the end of September because I am only FOUR books away from reaching it. Thrilling!

Nonfiction Selection

My August nonfiction selection was Clean & Lean: 30 Days, 30 Foods, a New You! by Ian K. Smith, M.D. This is the fourth book I have read by Smith. It takes The Clean 20 nutritional and fitness plan to the next level by incorporating intermittent fasting and 10 additional clean foods to the menu. Since June, I have been working on my health and fitness goals, so I reread The Clean 20 and reintroduced myself to clean eating. Reading Clean & Lean and implementing the guidelines was the next step. It is a simple plan that anyone at any level in their health and wellness journey can follow, and it includes daily menus, inspiration, nutritional facts, and workout plans. I love the format of the book and the simplicity of the program. I am happy with my results, and may consider completing another month of Clean & Lean before the end of this year. I am giving the book and myself 5 stars!

#Read21in21 Challenge

I read three terrific children’s books this month, one classic and two that are considered horror/mystery. I have a soft spot for haunted houses, animals, and gnomes. All three stories touched my soft spot and were enjoyable to read. I recommend them all to middle schoolers and fans of middle-grade fiction.

The Haunting of the Old Yellow House on Millard Road by D.A.L. is a short, supernatural mystery tale about a 12-year-old boy named James, who wants to spend the night inside an old house that is supposedly haunted. He barely convinces his friend, his cousin, and his two siblings to join him on his adventure which also includes retrieving an artifact as proof of their overnight stay. It is a satisfying read for middle schoolers with charming characters, humor, and spooky moments. The author kindly sent me a complimentary copy of this book which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I look forward to reading more of his stories in the future. It was a 4-star read for me.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame is a classic fantasy novel with captivating characters who have the most amusing adventures in the English countryside. The story centers around four main congenial critters, Mr. Badger, Mole, Rat, and Mr. Toad. These four friends enjoy life and each other’s company until the debonair Mr. Toad discovers motor cars. His outrageous obsession with them lands him in a puddle of trouble, and only his faithful friends can save him and set him on the right path. This beautifuly written tale focuses on friendship, adventure, and the importance of home. This 5-star adventure has become one of my favorite classics.

The Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes by R.L. Stine is an entertaining anecdote that involves tacky lawn ornaments, prize-winning vegetables, and midnight mischief. Joe Burton is looking forward to the lazy days of summer until his father adds two hideous garden gnomes to the lawn collection. Let’s just say, once they arrive on the Burton lawn, Joe’s life gets weird and a bit messy. I give my gnomies 4 stars.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher is an atmospheric gothic horror novel with supernatural vibes. It is an imaginative retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher” which I recommend reading before diving into Kingfisher’s beautifully written tale. I must admit I was drawn to this book because of its hauntingly beautiful cover.

Madeline Usher summons her childhood friend, Alex Easton, to her family home in the countryside of Ruritania where she lives with her twin brother Roderick.

In her letter to Alex, she tells him that she is dying. He immediately leaves his home in Gallacia with his horse Hob. He is stunned upon arrival at the Usher estate where he finds Madeline and her brother are both visibly unwell and their home has fallen into a miserable state of disrepair. What has befallen the Usher siblings, and is Alex too late to save them? This 4-star read is creepy and delightfully off-putting.

Year of King

Kelsi and I decided on Cujo for August. We found ourselves in the fictional, small town of Castle Rock, Maine. I dreaded reading this novel simply because I had seen the movie back in the 80s, and all I could recall was a rabid St. Bernard terrorizing Dee Wallace’s character. I have dogs, and I could not imagine reading an entire book about someone’s beloved dog getting rabies and transforming into a murderous monster. While the director, Lewis Teague directed a terrific film adaptation of Cujo, it does not compare to the amazing novel written by Stephen King.

Kelsi was also not looking forward to reading Cujo for her own reasons. However, we were both blown away by it. This story is so much more than a rabid dog. It is about fear, loss, and the power of love. Stephen King wrecked me with Cujo, especially the second to last paragraph of the book. This novel will stick with me for quite awhile and earned all 5 gut-wrenching stars.

After reading the novel, I watched the movie in a totally different way. I now had backstory, and my feelings towards Cujo the dog was totally different. I had compassion for the gentle giant, especially since as the reader, I got glimpses from his point of view. Dee Wallace and Danny Pintauro acted phenomenally in their roles as mother and son (Donna and Tad Trenton). I highly recommend reading Cujo before watching the movie.

Kesli and I had an engrossing conversation about Cujo on August 28th, discussing the novel and the film adaptation. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

September! Hard to believe the 9th month of the year is already underway. I have chosen some exciting selections to read during this month. I am currently reading Ghost Beach by R.L. Stine for #Read21in21. My book club selection for September is Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. Kelsi and I will be reading three short stories (“Lawnmower Man”, “The Mangler”, and “Graveyard Shift”) for our Year of King project. We will have a live discussion about the short stories and their movies on Sunday, 25 September at 2:00 PM CT. Last but not least, my nonfiction selection this month is The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins. 

My sister Rachel and I are buddy reading A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. In August, we decided to read a chapter a week for 10 weeks and meet every Wednesday on ZOOM for 10 weeks to discuss it. Our first discussion took place on the evening of 17 August. The experience has been both enlightening and enjoyable. We should complete the book and weekly discussions sometime in October.

Of course, I am looking forward to everything I have planned to read in September. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” ~ Edmund Burke

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