Hey! Get Back Up… Yes, Again!

I named this blog Vessels and Vittles because I originally planned to write about our ‘vessel’, a word used in the Bible meaning the container that carries the soul; the body, and ‘vittles’, an old slang word which is actually from the word ’victuals’,meaning supplies of food. I figured these two words together would encompass all things related to the human experience in some way… Bodies (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically ) and Food.

In the beginning, many of my posts were about food, dieting, healthy eating, etc. as I was in the midst of a major weight loss period.

Over time, I decided to write more about life experiences…. Because ‘life’ happens, hard times are just a part of life. Everyone seems to be going through hard times… personally, as a family, nation, and in the world.

I recently had an experience that seemed to sum up the troubles of life. I was sitting at my desk working and in the quiet of the morning I heard a sudden, loud, thump. So loud that I wasn’t sure which direction it came from. I got up, looked out the windows all around the house but didn’t see or hear anything else. I went back to working.

A few minutes later, I got a text from a neighbor. It said, “You may have a nasty surprise at your front door.” He went on to say while walking his dog he saw a bird fly full speed into my front door, which is a glass storm door. He said it was moving but it didn’t look good for the little creature.

I actually hesitated before getting up to open the door. Birds are not my favorite beast, though I do love watching them from afar. I eventually opened the door, slowly. And there on the ground sat this little feathered guy (or gal).

I was surprised to see it on its feet; it didn’t move at all, not even as I made a racket to see if it would fly away. I closed the door and went back to work, but not before jokingly texting my neighbor to see if he could send his dog, Quincy, to come get the bird when it finally keeled over. 😂. He texted back, “Sorry, Quincy’s fees are too high. No matter what you can afford, he charges more.” 😂😂

Anyway, an hour or so later, I decided to check out the birdie to see if it had croaked yet. To my surprise, all I saw was this….

I looked around wondering if it has crawled off behind the bushes or something… but no, it was gone!

I was talking to a friend about all of this and she said, “What a word picture. Do you feel like that with the abrupt shocks of life? But like you, that little guy will rest in the light and the love of the Creator [God] and be renewed, revitalized and move on…”

She was so correct!

I was thinking the same thing…. except in my mind, I heard it more like this…, “Sometimes life will kick the S#%@ [Stew] out of you…(I prefer STEW😉), …and you might have to ‘slow your roll’ for a minute and regroup, but you can’t wallow in the mess of life for long, get up, shake out your wings the best you can, and fly off to face the next challenge, because there will be one.

There is a Gospel song called, ‘His Eye Is On The Sparrow’, based on the parable of the Sparrows in the Holy Bible where Jesus says in summary that no sparrow can fall to the ground without our Father God in Heaven knowing it. We are created in his image. If he sees and knows of a wee sparrow, how much more are we to Him? Something to ponder, huh?

Life will slam you sometimes. I am in the midst of some challenging days right now but every morning, and throughout the day I try to remember that there is a God in Heaven to sees, knows, and hears all things concerning me….and concerning you too. He is there for me, having an answer before my problem ever comes to be. For that, I am eternally grateful. That is how I make it through this sometimes sad, painful, lonely, hard, but wonderful life. 🌺

Until the next time.  Love and Peace to you all.  😘

❤️

Spring Is For Renewing

Typically, Fall is my favorite season, but this year Spring Time is winning my heart. This year has felt pretty tough in a lot of ways; strained friendships, sicknesses, unexpected changes…just challenging times. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. A quick glance of my social media accounts proves this. Seems everyone is going through something.

Sometimes, during the tough seasons of life, I do things that are pretty random and different … it relieves stress for me to change things up.

I was looking out my window the other day and saw what seemed hundreds of red leaves on the ground. I thought they were fallen leaves from a nearby Japanese Maple tree. Upon closer inspection I realized they were leaves alright, but not fallen leaves. These were newly sprouted “Baby Trees” 😊. Apparently, all the rain we’ve had caused the seeds from the Japanese Maple to sprout in my yard. Blue skies, sunshine, red maple trees and awakening green grass. I really so love being in the south this time of the year. Everything comes alive so early in the year compared to where I’m from.

Well, I am no gardener by any stretch of the imagination. My home had beautifully established landscaping when I purchased it. So grateful for that. However, when I saw these little sprouts I had one of my random ideas.🤔🙃. The two Japanese Maples in my yard are so gorgeous I wondered if I could grow new trees from these little sprouted seeds.

Y’all….😂😂. Yes, I did. I called the local call-in gardening radio show on Saturday morn. As much as I don’t garden I love listening to this Gardening Show each weekend. This guy named Walter Reeves is like the gardening guru in my area. Anyway, I got on the air easily because I called really early, in case ‘friends’ were listening and recognized me. 😂😂. … “Hey, that sounds like …” 😂😂

Walter  Reeves told me what to do, so I did it.

Japanese Maple seedlings
Japanese Maple seedlings. The two trees on the bottom are the parents of these little ones.:)

I now have 25 cups with Baby Japanese Maple Trees in them. Walter said I’d be watching these a loooong time.  😂  I don’t mind, it’s a distraction from all the “must-do”s in life.

Will they grow? Who knows. 🤷🏽‍♀️.

Was this a random adventure? Sure was.

What will I do if all 25 succeed? Don’t know, but I sure will feel successful in my adventure and some of my friends will be getting a new Japanese Maple tree..haha… or I will sell some to reinvest was in my new Japanese Maple Tree business 😂.

Honestly, it felt good just to get outside in the sunshine, dig in the dirt and have hope for better days and new beginnings….even if it came in the form of planting new baby Japanese Maple trees.

Happy Spring, friends!🌸🌺✌🏽💕

Kinda Keto, But Not Really

More than two years ago, when I lost the majority of my weight, my strategy was to simply reduce calories enough to lose weight…and it worked, for the most part. Once I got closer to my goal weight I stalled, big time.  There was only one thing to do, reduce calories again, but, my strategy stopped working.  😩

I increased exercise, which in turn increased my appetite, which made me eat more and gain weight. So frustrating. All the while, I was hearing about the KETO craze, that it was similar to the Atkins Diet, which meant low carb. A friend reached out to me and tried to share info, but I had no interest because I had a plan that mostly worked.

After stalling for a while, I got tired. I started eating a bit more, exercising less, gained 10 lbs and totally quit logging. I was down to about 1000-1200 calories oer day.  WAY TO LOW. I felt fine, got tired easily, but was frustrated by the stall. I did notice 2 things though; I was very soft, and I did not feel strong. Lifting things that should have not felt heavy, were. My conclusion, I’d lost a LOT of muscle mass. No bueno. I needed a new strategy.

My goals were the same; be healthy, eat clean foods, be strong, not let food control me, and I really got tired of “logging” my food. 🙄

Sooooo, I joined a KETO page on Facebook just to sorta stalk it and see what these KETOers were all about. Now, I am not much of a meat eater, however, I remembered while losing weight, the weeks when I ate more chicken or beef, I lost more pounds. Hmmmm….

Long story short, (too late, I know🙃), I tried KETO, kinda. I just wasn’t that strict about it. I up’d proteins and kept up my veggie eating, but reduced carbs to minimal per day, and I increased my fats (that is HARD TO DO after decades of hearing “watch your fat intake” 🤯).  I didn’t measure a thing. End of the week down almost 2 lbs. 🤷🏽‍♀️  What I noticed is, I was not hungry AT ALL. Matter of fact, I felt I had surely gained because I felt so full, or I should say, satiated all the time. I had energy so I exercised more. Go figure, there must be something to it. I’m going to try it again this week in my Kinda Keto way to see if this past week was just a fluke. I’d like to lose another 15 lbs bit I’m not stressing about it. I have more muscle mass and feel good so what more can I ask.

Anyway, thought I’d share some of the protein options I made in my Ninja Air Fryer. Love this thing!

chicken drumsticks
Air Fryer Chicken Drumsicks

Air Fryer Meatballs
Air Fryer Meatballs

Air Fryer Chicken Wings
Air Fryer Chicken Wings

I also cook veggies in the Air Fryer sometimes. Works pretty good too!

 

 

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Air-Fryer Asparagus

Well, that’s all folks! I’ll let you know what happens with my Kinda Keto plan. 🤗👍🏽

Peace!

 

This Rollercoaster Ride Called… Eating Right

The struggle is so very real, people…. but that’s OK…. I’m not alone.

A couple of years ago when I was in the midst of my major weight loss, I started hearing about KETO eating. If you haven’t heard of it yet, never fear, you will when you return to this planet. 😒  I looked into it but I haven’t jumped into it …yet. It seems everyone is trying KETO now,  but it must not be user-friendly because I’m seeing more about Dirty Keto… or what I like to call it, Cheap and Easy Keto.

I’m also noticing an increase in talk about ‘fasting’, specifically, Intermittent Fasting.  I might try this at some point, just because it seems more natural and beneficial to the body.

Seems everyone is trying to figure out how to lose weight and keep it off. Like I said, the struggle is REAL! I’m a witness.  I lost 57 lbs a couple of years ago, but gained about 14 lbs and have been holding steady since.  I’m not to concerned because I realized at 57 lbs that I was lighter but I didn’t feel strong.  I think I lost a lot of muscle tone, and was earing too few calories. I read recently that when you eat low-calorie for a while your body gets used to living on that low amount.  When I increased my calories to around 1500 to 1700 per day I gained about 5 lbs. Then, because I felt weak, I started walking a lot and doing High Impact Interval Training exercises and sure enough gained more….but the curious thing is my clothes felt the same and loser in some cases🤷🏽‍♀️.

I guess it is true that muscle weighs more but takes up less space.  That’s a hard concept to accept when you are addicted to the scales like I am. I’m trying to change my ‘scales’ ways. 😣 However, I do feel so much stronger in my core and overall. So, now I’m just trying to stay on a good eating path.

It’s a rainy, rainy day on this Sunday afternoon.  I was invited to a Southern Buffet restaurant after church…. so tempted to do it but I had already planned to do some meal prep. I went shopping yesterday and bought some goodies…

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  1. Cucumbers, Yellow, Red, and Orange peppers are my go-to foods.  I’ve blogged about them in previous posts.  I just cut them and put them in jars.  They are a great snack for me. I either eat them plain, or sprinkle them with a little rice vinegar.
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Keeping my food in jars seems to extend the life of them. I don’t have to eat them all in 2 days.

2. Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts, I tried it!  Wow!  This is a keeper. I love my Air Fryer but never have I tried veggies in it. So, easy…tossed the Brussel sprouts (Premee cabbages as a young friend calls them, 😒🤣) in a tad bit of oil, Himalayan Salt, and garlic powder and put in my Air Fryer on 375 for about 12 minutes. YUM! They were so delicious. I know they look burnt but they are just roasted.  I bet adding a little brown sugar and some bacon bits would make this instantly ‘gourmet’…I almost did it but remembered my new healthy eating ways.

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3. Asparagus… you either like it or not.  I love it, stinky pee and all.  I actually saw a post somewhere recently that asparagus is a major cancer fighter.  I meed to research this though.  I usually eat it most when it is on sale and it’s been on sale so 3rd week in a row I’ve made it but this time I pur it in the Air Fryer to try. Boy! Good results again…just 6 minutes in and it’s done  👍🏽

4. Chicken Thighs. Nope, I’m not a vegetarian or vegan or anything, I just eat little meat naturally.  I need protein to lose weight I learned, plus it helps keep my hunger in control. Since I was Air Frying, I put these in last; same seasonings.  Also, I found 2 small Filet Mignon steaks in the back of my freezer from an Omaha steak gift pack I received…last of the beef goodies.  Put those in the Air Fryer too.

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This chicken was so juicy and delicious! I just sampled what I cooked because it’s for the upcoming week, of course.  So, now I have no excuse for not eating healthy this week. I’ve got all these goodies plus a bin of apples.

Fortunately, everything I cook has to be eaten only by “me”…not sure anyone else would enjoy my kitchen science experiments…I’m not much of a foodie though; I just don’t want to feel hungry, so… let’s see if I can have a good week of eating healthy food. Hope you do too!  ✌🏽😎

Peace and Love!😘

Jan

“…May the peace of God guard your hearts and mind (thoughts) through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:7❤️

Why’d I Paint These Babies?

Art is everything.  What I mean is, some form of artistry exists in all things. Look around your world: houses, clothes, vehicles, appliances, tools, etc. … all involve creative skill in their creation. Our entire planet and universe is an artistic, mathematical creation as well. I believe God created us in his image therefore some form of creativity is inherently within us. History verifies this by the immense volumes of artistic expression blanketing our world.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve always loved art, but didn’t discover my artistic ability until later in life. As a portrait artist, I love watching life come to a drawing or painting as I add or remove whatever medium I use; that just gets me right in my soul, which is probably why portraits are what I’m best at.  My efforts at flowers, landscapes, etc., are poor to mediocre at best in my opinion.

It has been about 5 years since I’ve started drawing portraits professionally (See my artwork). I’ve been thinking about how I should use this God-given gift; I say this because I still can’t explain how I do what I do.  I’ve been blessed with getting commissioned work early on and love seeing the reactions of people who see the finished product, but I started to feel I wanted my work to serve an additional, more directed purpose.  What though?

Well, I think I found out.

Women cheering new abortion laws?? Huh? I didn’t physically see or hear this because I don’t have cable and might catch the news a couple of times per week when my antenna behaves, but I recently heard on the radio how women were cheering at the passing of a law in a State in our country  allowing for babies to be aborted after the 24-week mark to protect the mother’s health or in cases where the fetus won’t survive. OK.😶😕.

My goal is not to be political here. However, when I heard this, I was a bit stunned because a light shone brighter on the devaluing of life; obviously the life of the child, but also the life and well-being of the mother who might suffer the emotional scars of seeing/experiencing the death of her very alive child if aborted near the due date. Death, murder, abortion of innocent life can’t possibly be as clean and simple as our laws want to make it appear.

Photo by Teresa Howes on Pexels.com

I say all this as bystander of sorts, a guilty-feeling bystander, honestly.  

What have I done about it?  Not much. I’ve neither counseled a woman figuring out the next steps of an unexpected pregnancy, nor comforted a grieving woman who has walked out of a clinic without her baby. Matter of fact, I’ve never been pregnant, haven’t any nieces or nephews, and am rarely ever around children, so I often feel I don’t have the ‘street-cred’ to say or do much regarding this issue, really. Yes, I can pray for all the above, and I do, but I feel still helpless, and I hate that.

As all these things have been rambling about my head and heart in past weeks I’ve slowly had the evolution of how I can make an impact. It might seem small and insignificant to most but in doing so I hope to make a difference in the heavens at least, and in the hearts of all who see my work as a source of healing and hope.

What can I do? I can honor babies, and support their little lives. I’ve decided to focus my portrait work on “babies and children” for the next little while, in addition to other portraits. True, I’m not a mother but somehow these paintings feel like a representation of all the children I never had. In a world where children seem to be a target both ‘ in the womb’ AND ‘out of the womb’, I want to honor children through my portraiture work. I don’t know how this will evolve; as a matter of fact, children, especially babies are the most difficult to paint for me because although they have no/little hair, no teeth, and no wrinkles, the slightest wrong turn and I’m looking at E.T. on my canvas. 😕… trusting that the same God who has guided my art journey thus far will continue as I move forward with this purpose in mind.

So, in a nutshell, why did I paint these babies? Because I want to support and honor the life of these innocent ones. 👼🏻👼🏼👼🏼👼🏽👼🏾👼🏿 You know what, I can attempt that in my art. 💕

I call these two my “starter” babies. Although not the first babies I’ve drawn, they will always be remembered as my first attempts after this new purpose. The artistry might not be on point yet, but I fully expect to get better and better with each one….expressing all that is alive and well in the life of a baby from conception. So, off I go🙏🏼. Pencils and paints in hand, trying to make a difference in our world.

How are you making a difference? 😊

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”     Psalm 139:13-16

 

Love y’all!❤️

I’m Registered in Heaven. Are You?

Hi All…

When I started this blog, a couple of years ago, I primarily did so to share experiences during my personal journey to health and weight loss.  It was mostly about food; what I ate, tips, struggles, etc. After a few months I started sharing other various life events. More recently I decided I wanted to, in addition, share more about the side of life that, in reality, is the most important; that on which all other parts depend.

It’s already mid-January 2019, and honestly, it has not been the blast off that I’d hoped it would be. I actually wish I could get a restart, a trial month, or a do-over. I’ve just been feeling a bit ‘slumpish’, kind of discouraged, sometimes sad, wondering if I was getting depressed.. who knows why?  Just a series of little things pecking at my ‘stabilities’; you know relationship issues, life issues, day-to-day issues, just managing life.  There is just so much going on with so many people every day it seems – bad health diagnoses, sickness, financial crises, deaths, national/government situations, it just becomes overload sometimes. However, the magnitude of what others are going through makes my little bouts of ‘blue days’ seem not worth mentioning to anyone, so I tend not to.

four people holding signage
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

This is how I felt this Sunday morning. I’m gonna be real with you.

Getting up and going to church, literally less than a mile away, seemed it wasn’t going to happen.  I stayed in bed longer than usual and just thought about life, people, house repairs needed, friends, … you know, ‘thangs’ that keep you up in the night and in bed in the morning; processing all the good, bad and ugly news I’d processed in past days. Somehow, I managed to find the wherewithal to get up and get rolling.

I’m a Christian from the get-go; was a pew-baby and still ‘churching’ now. I love Jesus, I love church, I love the body of Christ. No shame in it for me, so that had nothing to do with my not wanting to go. 

Anyway, I get to my Connections class (a.k.a Sunday School for us oldies) as usual.  It’s a class called the Encouragers, with about 25 or so regular attendees who are mostly a generation older than I am, which is fine because I like the wisdom of people older that I am; especially in the things of God.  I have a buddy who sits near me each week now. His name is Solomon.  Solomon is 89 years ‘young’. He has dropped all sorts of wisdom tidbits in my ear for the past couple years; from concoctions to knock out cold symptoms to handling life problems.3df165b0-42be-4b24-a93a-5302636ba7be

I don’t know what your religious beliefs are, or how you feel about such but when you meet someone like Solomon, who has walked with the Lord for nearly 90 years, there is much wisdom to be gleaned.

Today, Solomon taught our class from the Bible in Psalm 1. It’s a short chapter, but powerful, direct, simple to grasp but listening to Solomon speak in his Jamaican accent about the wonders of God’s Word in this chapter transported me out of the ‘ gloomy space’ in my head by the end of class.  

I’m not planning to turn this blog into a straight up Bible study but I do plan to share how God’s Word is so relevant, timely and needed. Here is the New International Version of the chapter:

Psalm 1 (NIV)

1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Solomon started by reading the Psalm.  Now, I have to stop and say,  whenever Solomon prays aloud in class, his choice of words, and phrases, along with his accent, often makes me think to myself, “He prays in King James Version”. 😍 I sometimes wish I could record it.

Anyway, in a nutshell, we discussed each of the verses. Fascinating!  In case you aren’t a Christian, or haven’t studied this before, here is my one-minute summary of what Solomon taught.

God blesses those believers who while being a light in a dark world do not make it a habit to intimately mingle with those whose heart is not towards living a Christian life; only because doing so will likely sway/seduce you away from the heart of God.

photo of child reading holy bible
Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

For those who are delighted to tuck God’s work in their heart, who long for God’s word and who think on the things of God day and night.; they will be like a tree that is deep-rooted, well nourished, and well watered by a river.  They are full of sap and produce good fruit. I loved Solomon’s exposition on this part of the Psalm.  He referenced it to Psalm 92:12 (The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.) He then told of how there is a country (I don’t remember which one) where their entire economy is based on the Palm tree. All parts of the palm tree is used; the wood for homes, the leaves, for roofs, the seed for food, the oil for other things, etc.  I’m a visual person so I could so easily picture this, and how God can use his righteous ones.

But, for those who choose to do otherwise (keyword: choose) they are blown away like chaff in the wind; not able/allowed to stand before the righteous Judge in the end. Solomon explained how chaff is the trash that is left over after the winnowing process.

One of the things that stood out the most was in his closing he mentioned that those who have made the decision to live for Christ have been ‘Registered in Heaven’.

Those simple words seemed to stick in all the cracks, crevices, holes, and dents in my spirit today. They made me happy inside. All those things that were weighing on me could not stand against the thought, the reassurance that I am Registered in Heaven. Needless to say, much of the ‘blue and bleakness’ was lifted as I drove home, and the words ‘Registered in Heaven’ have rang in my ears all day today. I love that I, as a human being, was given this choice to be, and instructions on how to be, Registered in Heaven. This wasn’t a matter of not knowing this passage, but of the healing effect like balm on a wound, of God’s living Word on a soul.

I write all this not to preach and/or proselytize but rather to encourage and to give hope in Jesus.  Life is hard. You see and know that.  Things are getting more and more difficult each day. I was with a friend the other day whose father-in-law is 96 years old.  He was telling her how he’d gone out to buy a new tablecloth for his home; not only 1, but 3!  He said he’d use one but maybe the others could be used later :)…. he’s 96 people! Later??? What is ‘later’ to a 96 year old??

built structure against sunset sky

That got me to thinking, you know what that is called… HOPE!  Even at 96 years old, he had hope that he might still be able to use those tablecloths one day.  That also got me to thinking about those who have no hope. Suicide is on the rise as we can see in our country; these are those who have lost all hope.  Even in the deepest, darkest days of life, it is HOPE, that clears a way to see vision for the future.

I have decided to cling to HOPE for the my future; to my Hope in Jesus. I will pray that if you are reading this blog, and you do not have HOPE, that the Lord of heaven will show and send his HOPE your way. It is real, is it stable, it sure, it is free, it is everlasting. 

May the peace of God reign in your hearts always! 😘

P.S. Let me know if you’d like to be Registered in Heaven. 🙏🏽

 

I love you with the love of Christ! ❤️

🤗🌺

Lemons, Lemons…More Lemons

I think being in the kitchen is more like being in a science  lab for me… just experimenting, most times I’m just looking for ways to make things more convenient.

yellow lemon
Photo by Markus Spiske

So, my latest ‘experiment’ was with lemons.  For years now, I have sipped warm lemon water in the morn, after my regular room temperature water.  Sometimes I add a little honey, and other times I put all kinds of  ‘elements’ in it…turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, pepper 😳…that’s what happens when you read too many health sites. 🤷🏽‍♀️ There are some real benefits to eating lemons but you have ro mind your teeth drom the acid.

Anyway, you know what? LEMONS are expensive, people.  I can’t bring myself to pay 99 cents for one lemon. Nope, not gonna do it.  So, I wait for the lemon sales; when I can get a whole bag for around $3.99. The only problem is I can’t eat them fast enough..they spoil.

I used to slice them all, put them on a plate to freeze, then pop them off the plate and put them in a zip bag. That works pretty good. It’s a challenge getting them off the plate though.  Just grab a frozen slice, drop into my hot water, and BAM!  No fuss.

Well the other day, After buying another bag of lemons I decided to try something a little different.  Why? No real reason. 😊

2192564f-e453-40da-8ae4-f92161685f96Instead of slicing them all, I juiced them all. I ended up with about a cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Next, I poured it into a silicon small-cube tray, and froze.

When frozen, I popped them in a zip bag.  Now, in the morning, I put a lemon cube or two, add my other ingredients and sippy-sip. Lots of cubes that lasts for days.

I’m sure most folks wouldn’t waste time doing this..ha!… I’m not even sure it saves me any time in the morning…but thought I’d share anyway. 😎✌🏽🍋

Peace! Stay safe out there! 😘