Doll Downsizing and Lasagna for Everyone!

Dolls in My Collection

Dolls of many nations convene in my home!

These photos were not easy to take.  Have you tried getting strong willed dolls to say “cheese” in  twenty different languages?

My great-aunt brought me dolls from her trips to Europe when I was a  girl.  My mom found dolls for me at the New York World’s Fair (1964-65).   I’ve picked up dolls on my own travels, and friends who know I love dolls have given me some too.

The photos represent about half of my collection.

The D word pops up again!  Downsizing of my doll population.

Who gets to stay?

When I started downsizing, I read some advice in Sue Patton Thoele’s The Mindful Woman: “Really see the stuff you’ve accumulated.  Keep only what you need and love.”

“Keep only what you need and love” has been my guiding  mantra.

The couple below is staying for sure. My aunt brought them to me from Italy, around 1960.  I can look into their faces and be six years old again. I remember holding them. Admiring their clothes. Setting them up on my painted bookcase.


When Healthy Choice invited me to try their baked entrees, I let my Italian doll friends have a taste of the lasagna.

Delizioso! they proclaimed.

I thought the lasagna was quite good too. And with so many dolls to take care of, I love having  foods that are quick to make. The dish is low in calorie. My dolls don’t seem concerned with calories, but I am.

Read more about all the Healthy Choice Baked Entrees here.


Healthy Choice Lasagna


As for the rest of my international doll collection…

Dolls are not easy to say goodbye to.  They have personalities. They gaze up at you. They seem to know what you’re thinking, even if you don’t speak the same language.

I read an article on de-cluttering that said if you have to stop to question keeping an item, that means it needs to go.


My downsizing rules state the opposite.

If I’m in doubt, I mull.  A few days later, if I’m still feeling sad about giving up an item, I keep it. Maybe not forever but for now.

So along with my beloved Italian couple, the rest of the dolls are staying.

Lots of mouths to feed.

Lasagne per tutti!

More Dolls

Dolls Encore!

Dolls and Dolls

Small Dolls

Disclosure: I’m participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network Healthy Choice campaign. They sent me coupons for Healthy Choice Baked Entrees and payment in exchange for my honest opinions about the product. All opinions are my own and were not influenced, nor reviewed, by Healthy Choice prior to posting.



Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho: Winning Your Battle with the Seven Dwarves of Menopause


A post by wellness nurse Mary Buchan:

In the last post, I identified and described the 7 Dwarfs of Menopause in detail. My encounter with them helped me with my own defensive strategy for dealing with these annoying creatures.  Now it is my turn: Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, it’s off to work I go.

When they began to show up at my house a few years ago, it was like a mini invasion. Very suddenly without warning, it was as if a switch to my inner furnace was turned on and I began waking up in the middle of the night hot and drenched with sweat. I would get up, change my night gown, go back to bed, sleep awhile then repeat until the next internal heat wave hit.

I was hoping the hot flashes were just passing through and would stop but they didn’t.  I was tired, cried at the drop of a hat, irritable and basically miserable. After 3 months of hot flash bombardment I realized, it was time to ask for help.

I want to share about how I mounted a counterattack against these troublesome tormentors…

First of all I want to say that addressing and alleviating the factors that contribute to hormonal imbalance is vital and not a one-size-fits-all proposition. A multifaceted approach is the best strategy. Dr. Christiane Northrup states in The Wisdom of Menopause, “It is important to realize that hormonal support can be a smorgasbord.”  In other words, there are many alternatives and strategies that can be used in addition to hormone therapy.

I did my research and assessed my lifestyle habits including: diet, exercise routine, sleep habits and stress level and realized that I needed to make a few changes if I wanted survive and thrive in this new phase of my life.  So I created my own personal Menopause Care Plan…

I took a look at my diet and identified the toxic foods that needed to be removed. I worked more fruits and vegetables into my diet and made sure I drank plenty of water. I increased the good fats like legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and oils. These good fats are the starting point for hormone balance.

I created and followed a more consistent exercise program including both cardiovascular and strength training components.   I walk 5 days per week for at least 30 minutes and strength train 2 days per week. It is well documented that regular exercise reduces physical and emotional stress and releases endorphins, the happy hormone, a great tool for zapping the dwarves.

I gave more attention to my sleep schedule and bed time ritual.  I personally need 8 hours of sleep on most nights. I’ve learned that hormone balance occurs mostly during deep sleep which also supports a healthy serotonin balance.  Serotonin helps keep our moods balanced.

Finally I looked at my life and listed all of the energy sappers. I listed 50 items that I needed to delete or get in order so that I could experience less stress and more peace. This exercise not only helped me decrease my stress but increased the productivity in my life.

Ready or not, these dwarves may show up in your life. You can take control and alleviate your discomfort in natural ways with lifestyle changes, hormone replacement therapy (preferably Bioidentical Hormone Replacement), and alternative medicine strategies.

One last tip… Create your own Menopause Tool Box. This critical toolbox should be amply supplied with the following items:

  • Combat Sweaty (hot flashes) with a fan, a tank top, and a cool, damp rag.
  • Overcome Itchy (dryness) with lubricants, moisturizing lotions, and by drinking lots of water.
  • Outsmart Forgetful by doing puzzles and other activities that exercise your brain cells.
  • Do aerobic activities to put Bitchy and Weepy on the run. And if needed, don’t feel bad if you also require the help of an antidepressant and a box of tissues.

Finally, be sure to limit caffeine and alcohol consumption. And avoid such things as smoking and spicy foods, which can open the Menopause Pandora’s Box. Trust me: Nobody wants to open that box.

The good news is that when you get past the battle and learn how to deal with these miniature tormenters , you can experience more energy, fun, passion for life.  I am living proof!

Let me close with this thought about the seven dwarves of menopause: (1) They are sneaky little guys, and you may not be able to avoid them entirely, no matter what you do. But don’t despair, because (2) With a few simple tools—and lots of patience—you can WIN this battle and maintain your sanity. At least most of time.

 So hold on to your seat belt. Before long, “happily ever after” is bound to return.

 Don’t forget to send me your personal stories about how you encountered and overcame the seven dwarves of menopause!

Mary B

Mary Buchan has spent the past 30 years as a wife, mother, registered nurse and singer/songwriter.  In 2012 she re-purposed her nurse’s cap to start her own coaching practice with a focus on life reinvention. Mary is also a blogger and the author of the soon to be released book  Over It: How To Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself  (Spark Publications).

Check out Mary’s website, where you can also find her blog:


Encountering the Seven Dwarves of Menopause

Seven-Dwarfs-of-MenopauseA post by wellness nurse Mary Buchan:

You are hot and itchy and you want to punch people. You laughed and some pee came out. You are exhausted. You cry at the drop of a hat. You can’t sleep, and you have no idea what you were looking for in the closet. You haven’t had a period in a year.

You desire a romantic encounter, but you feel so…dry. And you’re not really feeling very sexy anyway. It’s painful to admit that your body is increasingly becoming bloated, despite your best efforts to stick to your eating plan and exercise protocol.

My friend, it’s no mystery, you’re just under the spell of the seven evil dwarves of menopause. Once upon a time they were the adorable seven little guys who helped Snow White escape from the curse of her wicked stepmother, but now they’ve mutated into gremlins on a mission to haunt the midlife woman.

So instead of thinking of them in terms of Snow White, maybe “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” would be a better fit.

These seven dwarves are hideous, sinister beings whose names are Itchy, Bitchy, Leaky, Sleepy, Sweaty, Weepy, and, of course, Forgetful. And hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work they go…

These dwarves of menopause have been described by Suzanne Somers in her book, The Sexy Years, but she’s only one of the many midlife women who’ve had their own encounters with these tiny tormentors.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these devilish dwarves and offer some advice about how to handle them.

Itchy is heckling you because your entire body is losing moisture, not only in your skin, but also in your eyes and even your vagina.

Bitchy makes your mood shift all over the spectrum, often causing you to overreact to minor irritants and seem a little crazy.

Leaky latches himself onto gravity and your aging process, making it very easy leak pee at inopportune moments, like when you laugh, cough or sneeze. This can also lead to urinary tract infections.

Sweaty brings hot flashes and night sweats. You might wake up in the morning feeling like you’ve just left the gym after a high-intensity cardio workout.

Sleepy makes his presence known when you’re unable to sleep through the night, sometimes because you’re feeling overheated.

Weepy causes you to cry hysterically for no good reason, simply because your hormones are out of whack and your emotions are all over the place.

Forgetful comes in the form of a foggy brain. If I remember correctly, studies show that this will pass once you get past menopause.

Stay tuned, and in the next post, I’ll share some steps you can take to get these diabolical dwarfs under control—so you really can live Happily Ever After.

Mary Buchan has spent the past 30 years as a wife, mother, registered nurse and singer/songwriter.  In 2012 she re-purposed her nurse’s cap to start her own coaching practice with a focus on life reinvention. Mary is also a blogger and the author of the soon to be released book  Over It: How To Live Above Your Circumstances and Beyond Yourself ( Spark Publications).

Mary B

Check out Mary’s website, where you can also find her blog:

 Grammar Tidbit: When I loaded Mary’s post onto my blog, I saw the word “dwarves” come up in spellcheck. A little grammatical investigation led to this fun answer, linked to our Hobbit friend, J.R. Tolkien.

Aging, Menopause

Are You a Calendar Girl? The Downsizing Continues (and Cafe Steamers)

Green Plate

The project continues!

High on a shelf, I discovered these darling calendar plates my mom picked up somewhere.  They’re keepers. How fun to have your lunch on another decade!

Deep in the trenches of our storage room, I dug out a stack of nine old calendars.

I don’t know why I kept them. Perhaps I figured they might be useful for kid art projects.


I leafed through them:  dentist, doctor, PTA, church meetings, writer events, vacations enjoyed but largely forgotten.

I usually love to pick up a tidbit from long  ago.  A photo.  A letter. A trinket from a trip.  A drawing done by one of my girls.

But looking through these old calendars made me sad and wistful.

When you can flip through twelve pages, and a whole year of your life is gone, that’s a bit too fast for me.

I made the executive decision to put the calendars in the paper recycling bin. If something bothers  you or makes you sad, the experts say to toss it.

Foiled again!

Cliff saw  them and said nope, we’re going to review one a night.

And so we are.

Remembering together makes those busy years come back more clearly.  Lots more fun!

As for the calendar plates, I bought them out of their box and washed them. I’ve got room on my shelf for them now, thanks to some other plates that didn’t make the cut.

Healthy Choice invited me to try their Healthy Choice Steamers, culinary-inspired steaming meals with a crisp and fresh taste.

On  Pink 1967, we enjoyed General Tsao’s Spicy Chicken:


On Blue 1968, we served up Beef Merlot:


Both low calorie  meals get good grades for flavor and freshness, and of course they look especially delicious on my beautiful plates!

You can learn more about the steamers on the Healthy Choice site right here!  

Asian Inspired

·Back to all those years…

What about you?

Are you a Calendar Girl, nostalgic for years gone by

Or are you full steam ahead?

Brown Plate Close Up

Blue Plate

Red Plate Close Up

Disclosure: I’m participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network Healthy Choice campaign. They sent me coupons for Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers and payment in exchange for my honest opinions about the product. All opinions are my own and were not influenced, nor reviewed, by Healthy Choice prior to posting.


Wearever Panties: A Giveaway!

Lace Panties

A post by Wearever’s Mandy Harrell:

Urinary incontinence is one of those things many people aren’t comfortable talking about.

The hush-hush issue is rarely discussed publicly despite the estimated 30 million Americans currently living with some level of it. The condition affects large demographic including active seniors, women who have birthed multiple children, and those with various health conditions.

Incontinence can also often be an issue for women going through menopause.

According to WebMD, during and after menopause, levels of the female hormone estrogen drop significantly. This lack of estrogen may cause the pelvic muscles responsible for bladder control to weaken, often resulting in urinary incontinence.

Now is the time to learn about options for dealing with incontinence, especially alternatives that help you maintain your lifestyle and are even eco-friendly. Wearever washable, reusable incontinence panties are actually real underwear made especially for those with light, moderate or heavy urinary incontinence. Say goodbye to disposable diapers and pads once and for all.

Wearever’s reusable incontinence underwear features an innovative sewn-in pad that functions as well as, if not better than, any adult diaper.

Its Unique-driTM absorbent technology works in three layers: the top layer lets liquid in; the middle layer moves liquid out to the edges of the fabric so it doesn’t pool and, therefore, resists bacteria growth and odor; and the urethane bottom layer prevents leak-through so that the moisture is contained within the undergarment.

The Wearever line also eliminates the discomfort and loss of dignity that can come with adult diapers. The women’s panties look and feel just like traditional underwear. There are even stylish solutions like women’s lace panties or comfortable cotton styles.

Even better: Wearever products are also less expensive, saving the average user nearly $500 a year compared to alternatives like adult diapers or pads.

Wearever’s washable, reusable underwear options are better for your wallet, better for the earth and better for your wardrobe. You don’t even need to think about the consistent noise of a diaper crinkling, the rough feel on skin, or the frequent trips to the store for disposable diapers anymore.

With Wearever, incontinence doesn’t have to change your active lifestyle or day to day routine any longer!

Giveway:  Wearever is offering two Friend for the Ride readers a three-pack of their lace panties pictured above. For a chance to win, simply enter a comment by September 5. Winners will be chosen using a random integer generator.  (Consider entering for a friend or relative.)  Read more about the panties here: 

Wearever image

Wearever offers comfortable, quality, affordable and stylish apparel solutions for everyday health and wellness concerns. To learn more, visit   



Mandy Harrell is the brand manager for Wearever.


I Feel Bad About My Neck: A Brief Tribute to Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron

I’ve been a Nora Ephron fan ever since I read Heartburn twenty plus years ago.

Imagine a novelist  pausing her storytelling to plop down a recipe!

That never happened in the novels I read for English class. Sure would have livened up  pasty old Billy Budd. 

I love Nora’s films too. My daughter Kath of, was one of the first food diary bloggers. The family watched Nora’s last film, Julie and Julia, with enthusiasm.

Lately, I’ve been studying Nora’s writing, especially her use of detail, recall, wit, and what reviewer Lisel Schillinger describes as “hard and funny truths.”  Plenty of lessons for this blogger.

Nora warns us, “Anything you think is wrong with your body at age thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty-five.”

Sigh.  She’s right.

As I rode in the back seat the other day, the rear view mirror called out to me:  OLD NECK. I SEE LINES AND FOLDS. HA! GOTCHA.

But Nora spotted her old neck first and was clever enough to slap it on a book cover:


Great book!

The book won’t fix out necks though.

But misery loves Nora Ephron company.

Thanks, Nora. You showed us how to age with spunk. We miss you!

And here’s the scene from Heartburn. Watch Meryl cram that delicious key lime pie into Jack’s  face. Take that, you cheater!

Nora’s obituary in the Washington Post  is here.

Find some of Nora’s recipes, including the notorious key lime pie, here.

The top photo is from the Washington Post obit.

Gratitude Prayers:  Congratulations to Silvia, who won the copy of June Cotner’s Gratitude Prayers.


Downsizing: Ice Cream Cups and Greek Frozen Yogurt!

Cups on Box

There’s something about menopause that sends women into a cleaning/organizing/purging frenzy.

We’re on a roll, deciding what to treasure and what to toss.

It’s the unfeathering of the empty nest.

I’m finding it both fun and bittersweet.

My great-grandmother’s  silver ice cream cups get to stay. They came with Grandma’s first  electric refrigerator, a Kelvinator, circa 1930.The women in my family have been serving ice cream and sherbet in them ever since.

Note how small they are. They don’t hold triple scoops!

Which brings me to another downsizing.

I’ve been successful, in recent months, in downsizing myself a bit.  Laura’s wedding spurred me on.

For about two years, during the worst of menopausal madness, I thought I was destined to gain weight.

I’m here to report that portion control works, and that we can downsize our bodies in menopause. Yes, it’s harder and slower, but it works! One of my go-to foods has been Greek yogurt.

Healthy Choice now sells  Greek frozen yogurt in 100 calorie size cups. How freezing cool is that?

Healthy Choice Frozen Yogurt

I put mine into an ice cream cup, and yep, it just fits.  A modest yet satisfying potion like Grandma would serve.

With Yogurt

The frozen yogurt makes a refreshing snack or dessert, and because it’s frozen, you can’t just gobble it down. I tried the vanilla and the blueberry. Yum!

Read more about Healthy Choice’s  new Greek Frozen Yogurt here.

Healthy Choice


  • Dark Fudge Swirl: Creamy Greek Frozen Yogurt made with dark, decadent fudge swirl for an irresistible 100-calorie treat perfect for a nighttime chocolate fix.
  •  Strawberry: Blended real strawberries made with refreshingly tart Greek Frozen Yogurt for a delicious low calorie treat.
  • Vanilla: Premium, aromatic vanilla beans blended perfectly with creamy Greek Frozen Yogurt to create a 100-calorie treat.
  • Raspberry: Juicy raspberries paired with the fresh tartness of Greek Frozen Yogurt for a healthy treat worth savoring.
  • Blueberry: Lush blueberries folded into velvety Greek Frozen Yogurt for a treat that’s so rich you’d never guess it was 100 calories.
  • Honey: Tart Greek frozen yogurt with a sweet, delicious honey swirl makes this refreshing 100-calorie treat a modern Greek masterpiece.

Thanks to Healthy Choice for offering us a coupon!


What about you?

Any downsizing going on in your life?

One Cup

P.S.: We still have the owner’s manual  that came with the Kelvinator!  Here’s a drawing of the refrigerator from the manual.


And here’s an ice cream cup. I stand though, partially corrected about the potion control of old. Yes, the serving of ice cream is dainty, but look at that big slice of coconut cake!

Ice Cream Cups

Disclosure: I’m participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network Healthy Choice campaign. They sent me coupons for free yogurt and payment in exchange for my honest opinions about the product. All opinions are my own and were not influenced, nor reviewed, by Healthy Choice prior to posting.