A Healthy Christmas Gift Idea

On this blog, I just completed a 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time without sacrificing the daily need to eat healthy, reserve time for Bible devotions, and exercise.

Now is a good time to extend the idea of eating healthy into Christmas gift giving.

(Fresh rosemary spiced olive oil) 


Food is a great consumable gift – after all, we all eat!

Food gifts can either be special items that the recipient enjoys but wouldn’t normally buy, regular items to help ease their budget, or homemade gifts.

Here is one healthy food gift idea.  Select a favorite healthy recipe.  Decorate a recipe card and attach part of the ingredients.

This gift is a recipe for Hearty Winter Bean Soup with dry pinto and garbanzo beans included. (For the complete recipe, look under Investigatin’ Recipes.) What ideas do you have?

The 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time Finale


It’s day 66 of the 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time!

Here are my 5 top findings:


Like the saying, “it takes money to make money,” I found, it takes time to free up or redeem time.



Cleaning out food storage areas resulted in saved time, because I knew what I had on hand and included it in my meal planning. Once I learned the latest nutritional guidelines, I focused on modifying, as needed, menus my family likes to meet nutritional needs.  A fantastic resource is Fruits and Veggies More Matters.


To include exercise in the day, if I was depending on exercising at home, I had to schedule it right before my shower or it didn’t happen. I primarily used the Debbie Siebers’ Slim in 6 DVD resource for an overall workout that only takes 25 minutes.












Ending the day with Bible and devotion reading gave closure to the day, fresh direction for next day, and allowed me to have more creative time in the morning for writing. My favorite resources are—Billy Graham’s Unto the Hills and Our Daily Bread. Becky Tirabassi’s Let Prayer Change Your Life is excellent for structuring Bible study time.







The MEOW WORKSHEET pdf and the MEOW Weekly/Daily Plan are good tools for planning healthy eating, Bible time and exercise every day. Using the timeline visually shows where you have available time in the day (Redeemed time). BUT they take a lot of time to fill out and can be dropped once a routine is established.

I hope this 66-day experiment has helped you. It has me!

I encourage you to continue to check my blog. As I discover any time-savers,  books, recipes, resources or other tips,  I will pass it along.


Sally Jo






Concluding the 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time

63 days down and 3 to go in the 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time!


Last week’s challenge- to read scripture, have purposeful quiet time, listen to God’s leading, and record it.

Results: My greatest impression was to pray for our nation and leaders.


This 66-day experiment is winding down, so it’s time to assess the overall results.







On August 27, the experiment kicked off. The goal was to establish the daily practice of eating meals that meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), reading the Bible, and exercising while regaining some time 🕐 in the process.


I researched and posted helps and suggestions, and gave weekly challenges to work on.






Here is a recap of the experiment and challenges:

Week 1

Clean out all food storage places and make a master list of food on hand.





Week 2

Introduced a MEOW WORKSHEET pdf  that included a checklist for meeting nutritional needs, space to plan to Bible time and exercise, and obligations and timeline to visualize uncommitted time; the challenge: to use the worksheet 2 or 3 times during the week, include a vegetable in each meal of the day



Week 3



Make a list of your family’s favorites—what you can count on them to eat, use the fruits and veggies more matters website and MEOW Daily Worksheet to plan healthy meals your family will eat.





Week 4

Use the MEOW Daily Worksheet and plan what, how long, and when you will exercise, try different activities for strength and core training, check out website with 10 minute workouts.





Use the MEOW Daily Worksheet and schedule Bible time, suggested some websites  (here is the link to one, see others in earlier blog) to help with study time.





Week 6

Introduced MEOW weekly/daily plan sheet with a view of the week’s obligations on top and space for specific day planning on bottom. Challenge: Use weekly/daily worksheet to plan nutritious meals, exercise and Bible time, see where any chunks of time can be redeemed.








Week 7

Pick one of the targeted areas—meal planning/prep, Bible time, or exercise—try at a different time to see if it works better in your day.






Week 8

Identify one of the three areas that most needs improvement. Set a specific goal, specific and measurable, to see if you can do better in that area.







Week 9

During Bible time, read scripture and ask, how does this apply to me right now? Be quiet and listen for at least a minute. Record findings and see at end of the week

where God may be leading.






Week 10


Evaluation time: For me, this has been an interesting experiment and has forced me to look at where my time is being spent and to tap in to the many good resources available to help save time.






My biggest finding?


What have you discovered in the experiment? Please post any revelations here or on the private Facebook page.

On day 66, November 1, watch for conclusions to the experiment.



Investigating Bible Study Time

56 days down, 10 to go in the 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time

This is the last full week of the experiment!


Last week’s challenge was to find your weak spot in areas we’ve targeted—meal planning, Bible time, or exercise—and set a goal, specific and measurable, to see if you can do better.

Here is what I planned, and how I did:

  1. Workout using the Debbie Siebers’ Slim in 6 DVD Monday-Saturday  at 5:00 am- did it every day except Tuesday, filled in with some sit-ups in the evening

       2.With morning appointments Monday-Friday, writing time planned for 11:00 am – 5:00 pm with a lunch break- Did it, except Thursday had an added afternoon appointment, so wrote some in the evening

        3. Meal plan Sunday, shop Monday- did it

        4. Bible time, 10:00 pm- did it, but two nights I got sleepy and finished reading first thing in the morning













Most plans won’t work out exactly as planned, but having a plan helps you see problem areas or what you might modify. For me, since my afternoon exercise plans never worked, I was glad to discover I do better in the early morning.

For the final week, I’ll  focus on a fruitful way to spend Bible time by investigating the Let Prayer Change Your Life book by Becky Tirabassi.

Image result


The author was inspired to set aside an hour a day for prayer, but didn’t really know how to spend that hour. During her prayer time, God gave her an idea to develop a notebook with two parts: MY PART and GOD’S PART.

My P.A.R.T consisted of:

P- Praise- using Psalms

A- Admit shortcomings that need help with

R-Requests for self and others

T- Thanks- acknowledge his work in your life

GOD’S PART consisted of the acrostic L. M. N. O. P.:

L- Listening- be silent before the Lord

M- Messages- sermon and scripture notes

N- New Testament-

O- Old Testament

P- Proverbs

For N.O.P. she recorded verses that comforted, convicted, etc.

Last, she added a “To Do” section of things she was reminded during her prayer time to do.

I have tried this notebook plan and gradually adapted it to TRY TO GET SOMETHING PRACTICAL EACH DAY FROM MY BIBLE READING. It might be for self-help, for others I’m concerned about, and/or to portray through characters or plot line in my writing.

The challenge this week:

In Bible time this week, When you read scripture, ask how does this apply to me right now? Then be quiet and listen for at least a minute. Record your findings and see at end of the week where God may be leading.

If you don’t already have a Bible time procedure or practice, give Becky Tirabassi’s notebook plan a try.

Comment on how you’re doing here or on the 66-Day Experiment FACEBOOK private group page. (You can join here.)

Check in next Sunday, October 29, for a progress report on the 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time.

The 66-Day Experiment and the Family Life Cycle

What is the family life cycle?

The emotional and intellectual stages you pass through from childhood to your retirement years as a member of a family are called the family life cycle. In each stage, you face challenges that allow you to build or gain new skills. Gaining these skills helps you work through the changes that nearly every family goes through.


Not everyone passes through these stages smoothly. Situations such as severe illness, financial problems, or the death of a loved one can affect how well you pass through the stages. Fortunately, if you miss skills in one stage or are in more non-traditional life situation, you can learn to adjust.

Can you improve on the family life cycle stage you are in right now?

Of course! And you never know until you try—i.e. EXPERIMENT.

Be assured, you can learn missed skills and improve you and your family’s quality of life at any stage. Self-examination, and education, are ways to improve.

So, whether you are a single independent, a couple starting out, juggling schedules for a house full, helping kids launch out on their own, or living out retirement years, you can improve your eating habits, Bible time, and exercise at any stage.

This week I tried shifting Bible time to the evening.


Bed, Sleep, Vector, Bedroom, Furniture



Before bed I read the next day’s devotions to see if it gave me a jump start on the next day. Could I get inspiration during the night as I slept on what I read?

I can’t report any great sleep revelations, but it was a nice way to close out the day with thoughts of encouragement for a new day ahead.

I had also planned to shift exercise to 5:00pm as a pick me up instead of in the morning (which I’ve been missing of late). Five o’clock exercise didn’t happen. So this week’s experiment will be to try daily exercise at 1:00pm. We’ll see…













This week’s challenge:

Pick one of the areas we’ve targeted—meal planning/prep, Bible time, or exercise—that you might try at a different time to see if it works better in your day.


How are you doing on the experiment so far? Let me hear from you here, or on our private Facebook page.


Finding Time in Your Day for the Want-to’s

35 days down and 31 to go in the 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time


So far, we have:

>Cleaned out food storage spaces and made a master list of foods on hand

>Introduced MEOW worksheet to plan Meals, Exercise, Obligations, and Want-to’s

>Made a list of family favorite meals and planned a week’s menus to meet nutrition needs; encouraged the use the fruits and veggies more matters.org website.


>Planned to include exercise in our day; encouraged trying different activities, and exploring an exercise website





>Scheduled Bible time; encouraged trying one of the Bible study websites





Now it’s time to put it all together!

Introducing the MEOW weekly daily plan .

It’s a place to sketch out your

Meals (for body and spirit)


Obligations, and

Want-to’s for the week.






This week’s challenge:

>Use the MEOW Weekly/Daily Plan sheet to include nutritious meals, exercise and Bible time in your day and see where any chunks of time can be redeemed!

Making any progress? Share here or on the Facebook page. Join here if you haven’t already.

(Look for a progress report and new challenge next week.)





Make Time for Bible Time

28 days down, 38 to go in the 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time

This week’s focus will be on including daily Bible time in your daily activities.


I traveled to Dallas, Texas, to attend the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference. It was three packed days of meetings, workshops, and networking with other writers.

My plan included strengthening exercises in the hotel room.

That didn’t happen.

But the Gaylord Texan was HUGE, so I got in a lot of walking, combined with some stretches at stops on the LONG  round-trip drive. So that was my modified  exercise for the week.






Nothing replaces finding quiet time and space to sit down and read the Bible, but sometimes it is helpful to think about ways to approach the reading to make it more meaningful.

Here is are some ideas:

I thought the discovery of the Fruit and Veggies website was spectacular, but this website is GRAND!







Grand Canyon, Arizona





*Check out Our Daily Bread Ministries  website! Here you will find:

>The daily devotion, Our Daily Bread. It includes not only the text, but the audio of the text and the Bible scripture for the day. You can listen and let the sound of the words sink in. Also included is a Bible in one-year plan.



>Our Daily Journey—a daily topical devotional using the New Living Translation and has a 365-day reading plan.

>The time-honored classic, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers is posted here with topics for related study and a Bible in one-year reading plan.

You can even read in several different languages with the click of a button!


*Wholesomewords.org  HERE is another site that gives 10 detailed tips to help get more from your Bible Time.

I especially like to apply the #9 suggestion when I’m reading:


Don’t just read for head knowledge; read with the purpose of growing in your knowledge of Christ and in your daily walk with Him.

It is good to keep a Bible reading diary. Write down the date, list the passage that you read, and then jot down the practical thoughts that you got from that reading. Ask yourself, “What is God saying to me from this passage today?”

*AND here’s another help:  5 simple steps to solid Bible study


 This week’s Challenge:

>Use the MEOW worksheet and schedule in your Bible time, make it like an appointment

>Check out one of the Bible reading websites listed above to help with your study.




Make Time for Exercise

21 Days down and 45 to go in the 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time





Here’s my list of family favorites and the menus I planned last week.

Top favorites (excluding sweets): chili; chicken & rice; chicken-fried; salmon; tacos; pizza; beef stroganoff; steak; spaghetti; crab legs; hamburgers; large white limas and ham; raw vegetables-cauliflower, carrots, broccoli; squash-fried; okra-fried; sweet potato, baked potato, garden salad, banana bread.

Here are my last week’s breakfast, lunch and dinner meal plans 

Love that Fruits and Veggies  More Matters website that I used extensively. (Listing again the really great links within the website.)



and http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/wp-content/uploads/UserFiles/File/pdf/planning/meal/half_your_plate/FamilyMealMakeovers_FINAL.pdf  



Monday: Breakfast Sandwich, Vegetable Salad, Ciabatta Cheese Pizza; Tuesday: Oatmeal w/fruit, Chicken w/broccoli, Large limas w/leftover ham and jalapeno corn muffins; Wednesday: Banana bread w/hard-cooked egg & fruit juice, fish taco w/slaw, chicken w/ fruit; Thursday: Fruit yogurt parfait, veggie wrap, one-pot lentils & garlic bread; Friday: Waffles w/strawberry & banana, vegetable soup & crackers, chicken bog; Saturday: Breakfast burrito, tuna fish sandwich, penne pasta Pomodoro; Sunday: Cereal w/fruit, salmon w/broccoli, egg sandwich w/milk

My favorite was a healthy pizza variation I tried out–

Butternut Squash-Tomato Sauce Pizza  (See recipe under Investigatin’ Cookin.)

ciabatta bread pizza I howsweeteats.com


Proper nutrition will fuel the body, but we also need to move to look and feel better, and be more energized.


But what should we do, how long, and when?

Here’s the deal:

The best exercise is the one you will do.


The best time is whenever you can.

So, the task for this experiment is to plan for the what, when, and how long to exercise.



A balanced program includes warm up, aerobics, strength training, core training, and stretching.

Warm up:  a good warm up is walking and pumping arms.

Aerobics: Aerobic means “with oxygen.” Examples: walking, jogging, swimming, rope jumping, dancing, bicycling

Strength training: Strengthening involves working your muscles against some form of resistance.  Examples: use of free weights, weight machines, or resistance bands, weight of your own body (i.e. push-ups, lunges and standing squats)

Core stability: The core is the area around your trunk and pelvis. A strong core helps you with other physical activities. Examples: crunches, using a fitness ball, yoga, Pilates routines.

Stretching: This action increases flexibility; target major muscle groups—calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Always warm up before stretching to prevent injury— Yoga, Pilates and tai chi promote flexibility.

A good resource with examples you can do at home is at http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/loseweight/pages/tenminuteworkouts.aspx


Some tips to get you started:

Make it enjoyable. The hardest part about physical activity is getting started. Schedule exercise with a friend. Listen to music. Any activity is good activity. Weeding the garden, dancing, walking the dog will get you moving.


Multi-task: Knock out another activity while exercising. Examples:

When I was a Success in Daily Living seminar director, we developed an exercise-cleaning routine and dubbed it “Cleanercise.”

Listen to a teaching tape or audio book while cycling. (I have a box of old Sunday school lessons on cassette that I need listened to, and copy to CD.  I can do this while exercising!)

Read or write while walking on the treadmill. (My husband added a shelf to the treadmill for my computer. I can write and edit while walking. I walk slow, but have walked miles that way.)











Walk before you run. Don’t do too much, too hard, too often, too soon.

Tell someone what you’re are doing who will provide support and help you be accountable.



Use a realistic strategy. Are you a morning person who can get up earlier to exercise before your workday starts? If not, try after work.

Set activity goals at the beginning of each week and review at end of week. If not meeting them, revise, don’t give up. Remember any activity is good activity.

Pick a time and stick to it. Plan and write it on your daily schedule (use the MEOW worksheet!) Don’t try to fit it into spare time. If exercise is not a priority it gets pushed to the side!



30 minutes a day is a common suggestion.

You don’t have to do your daily exercise all at one time. This is especially good news for writers and those in sedentary work. (Three 10-minute sessions of brisk walking can provide almost the same benefits that one 30-minute session does.)


The 66-Day Experiment Challenge this week:

>Use the MEOW Daily Worksheet and plan what, how long, and when you will exercise.

>Try out different activities that fit your schedule and interests. (Like walk in AM, and alternate core and/or strength 10-minute workouts in the PM.   Whatever works for YOU.

> Check out this website which has several 10-minute workouts to choose from,  http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/loseweight/pages/tenminuteworkouts.aspx

Also,  check these sites, depending on your needs:

A good resource for those sitting at a computer all day long.


How about for the traveler?


Easy ways to exercise without messing up your schedule



 (Look for a progress report and new challenge to redeem the time next Monday, September 25.)




Planning Healthy Meals Your Family Will Eat

14 days down, 52 to go in The 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time.

This investigation



is to establish good habits for:

  • eating meals that meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance
  • reading the Bible, and
  • exercising

while regaining some time in the process.

So far, we’ve cleaned out food spaces, made a list of on-hand items, used a MEOW DAILY WORKSHEET new  that incorporates space to meet the goals of this experiment, and worked on adding  a vegetable in every meal .





This week’s emphasis will be HEALTHY MEAL PLANNING—what to put in those 4 boxes on the MEOW Worksheet




Over the years I have made lots of healthy meal plans, collected dozens of cookbooks and gathered hundreds of recipes—even edited a couple of cookbooks. The problem: I still had no  consistent plans that met dietary requirements AND that my family would actually eat.



Then there is the fact that nutrition recommendations have been in constant flux. First came the “Basic Seven,” then the “Basic Four” which changed to the Food Guide Pyramid and now “My Plate”










Successful meal planning was like hitting a brick wall.















But investigation has made a spectacular discovery.














Here it is.

The site I’ve been hoping for.







This week’s challenge






  • Plan your week’s meals using the  MEOW Daily Worksheet. Getting meals figured out should be a great way to Redeem some time!!


Comment on this page or on the private FACEBOOK page for the 66-Day Experiment. JOIN PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP HERE if you haven’t already.

(Look for a progress report and new challenge to redeem the time next Sunday, September 17)

Investigating Planning Healthy Meals

Why 66 days to redeem time?


It’s been seven days, 59 to go, in the 66-Day Experiment to Redeem Time


In the 1960’s, a research study popularized the idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but an updated study found that it took more than two months for a new behavior to become automatic—on average 66 days.

So, I decided to put the three big goals for this experiment—eating right, daily Bible time, and daily exercise—to a 66-day test.

By the way, this is a NO GUILT experiment, do what you can, see what works, and modify to suit you. The assignments I put out there will hopefully give you some help to get your own system working.  No need to be overwhelmed or feel defeated.



  • Clean out all places that hold food in your house—refrigerators, freezers, pantries, cupboards. Get rid of mystery, old and freezer- burned items.
  • Make a master list of items on hand and sketch out where they are, and on what shelf.

I confess I wouldn’t have pushed to clean out if I hadn’t issued this challenge. But it feels good to be rid of the old stuff and know what I have on hand for meal planning.








Use a calendar system of your choice to track appointments and things to do. Many use mobile device calendars, but I operate best with a pocket calendar for appts/to do reminders that I can write in.















In addition, I use a planner or planner sheets (calendar labs is a good resource) that shows the month and week at a glance.  I currently use a 2017/2018 Cambridge with monthly and weekly pages.

HERE’S THE PROMISED TOOL—a daily worksheet using the acronym MEOW that includes the 3 target goals to see if  progress is being made to redeem time. THIS WORKSHEET IS EVOLVING. SEE HOW IT WORKS FOR YOU.  PLEASE MAKE SUGGESTIONS, AND MODIFICATIONS AS NEEDED.  MEOW WORKSHEET pdf


This may seem tedious, but if it takes money to make money, it’s going to take time to make time.


  1. Fill in the date: Check your calendar. What are your appointments and what is on your To Do list? Fill in under “Other Obligations.”
  2. Fill in day of week. If it’s a day that you have weekly activities, add to the “Other Obligations” section. (Since this experiment is concerned with healthy eating and reporting progress I have identified days to weekly meal plan, shop, and make a blog post)
  3. M– (Meals)

Feed the spirit- Schedule Bible time.  (A later post will give ideas/resources for devotions)

Feed the body- I’ve listed the general recommended dietary allowances (RDA) with space to meal plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. As you fill in meal plans check off what food groups are met, then you can see where you are and aren’t meeting your daily needs. (A later post will give more suggestions for meal planning), but this week, try to plan a vegetable for each meal.

  1. E (Exercise) plan what you will do and when. (A later post will address exercise tips.)
  2. O (Other Obligations) List appointments and to do items for the day.
  3. Look for places you can multi-task (deal with more than one task at a time)– i.e. Make phone calls, while you prep food to go in slow cooker.
  4. Block off times that are committed for the day—the ”WHEN’s”
  5. W (Want to do) HERE IS WHERE YOU HOPEFULLY CAN SEE TIME IN THE DAY FOR YOUR “WANT TO’S” (Multi-tasking will help here.) Look for the uncommitted times on the timeline.


Armed with your list of foods on hand and your calendar with appts and to do items,

  • Use the Meow Daily Worksheet to Redeem Time two or more times this week. Plan to use foods on hand.
  • Easing into this concept, start by including a vegetable in each meal of the day.

Comment on this page or on the private FACEBOOK page for the 66-Day Experiment. JOIN HERE

(Look for a progress report and new challenge to redeem the time next Sunday, September 10.)