Is there anything more refreshing than the first Monday and first week of the New Year? “Make 2011 – A Bit of Heaven” is my motto du jour.  Though 2010 was memorably wonderful, the haunting melody of “Ring Out Wild Bells (Hymn No. 215) has been playing in my mind for days. “The year is going!  Let him go!” keeps repeating itself with such insistence that I am taking it as divine counsel.

With good reason: In 2010 I was introduced to a number of things related to physical, emotional, and financial health for myself and family that have been truly meaningful and I wish had known about them earlier – even years ago.  I read somewhere that one of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s consistent expressions in their family prayers was to “help us live this day without regret.”  With that thought, I know I would regret not passing along my best finds from 2010 to you, my dear Meridian friends, with my best wishes and a prayer for your blessed and prosperous 2011.

1)  Best Book of the Year:  Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell.  In an entertaining and light style, this prominent business and motivation expert powerfully lays out the importance of embracing failure as our truest friend and companion.  There are countless fascinating and surprising histories of individuals and businesses whose success will inspire yours.  His easy-to-follow prose built on these stories makes it an excellent read-aloud for age 12 and up.  We plan on making it required reading for the young adults in our family.   Though not a weight-loss book, it’s especially helpful for those of us with long-term struggles in finding and maintaining a healthy weight and equally invaluable for our mental health.

2)  www.Eyebuydirect.com:  I Saved $225 On Bifocals! Buying prescription eyeglasses online may seem extreme, but I saved $225 on bifocals by doing so and have recommended it to others who have found equal savings.  You load up your own photo to try on frames.  There is an 800 number where a live person will answer any questions and help you enter your  prescription from your optician.  They also have a 30-day no questions asked guarantee-return policy.  What’s not to love?  I love my eyebuydirect.com glasses!

3)  Build a Profitable Website with www.SiteBuildit.com.  How I wish I had known about this web-building program back in 2004 when I built my first website.    If you need or want to work from home, have a computer and an interest or passion that you can share, you can build a profitable business and website with the training and tools www.sitebuildit.com provides. 

It’s still not a walk in the park, but it’s a step-by-step gold-mine for individuals of any age looking for a way to earn money and have fun on the computer developing their talents and skills with a website.  The excellent tutorials along with the upbeat support from the professional staff and user forums will make you feel like you’re a student at a fine university.  LOVE it!  How did I not know about this all those years ago????  I look forward to a new income stream this year with the site I am currently building there.

4)  A Delicious Pasta Substitute: Good Old Cabbage!  It does not have to be the stinky, big-leafy stuff you hated as a kid.  Instead, it can easily be shredded to the width of any pasta or noodle, then lightly steamed and served with any sauce to replace flour-based pasta.  Eureeka!   Eat as much as you want of this healthy, non-starchy vegetable.  Slice ahead and keep in a plastic bag to cook a single servings of when the rest of the family is eating spaghetti.  In addition, it contains fiber and nutrients that pasta will never be able to claim. 

5)  Best  Fruit , Veggie  and Food Plan

Veggie:  Baby spinach leaves.  We buy a bag with every trip to the grocery store. Already washed and prepared, it makes a great snack by itself or is easily added to salads.  I add it to smoothies where the flavor and texture disappear with the addition of frozen blueberries.

Fruit:  Frozen blueberries from Costco:  A king-sized bag of these nutrient-packed babies costs about $8.00 – way cheaper than fresh and the world’s best treat as a snack, in smoothies, on oatmeal, etc., etc.  How did I live for so long without knowing about this treasure?  Thanks to Judy Jensen in Canada for tuning me on to these. Speaking of Judy Jensen …

Best Food Plan
: After publishing articles earlier this year about Judy Jensen’s 85-Pound weight loss success and the 12-step addiction recovery program, we were barraged with questions about where to find her food addictions eating plan.  It is not meant as a diet, but a lifestyle change for eating habits.
http://www.foodaddictsanonymous.org/faa-food-plan

6)  www.Kyani.info Pain Relief and Help for Insomniacs. Whether or not you have seen the ads Meridian is publishing, this phenomenal health product  has greatly reduced the pain for my extremely arthritic mother.  In addition, she is sleeping well for the first time in 20 years.  We and other family members and friends are having similar experiences.  How we all wish we had known about the Kyani products years ago.  The Kyani corporation is providing a special opportunity for Meridian readers to try the products with a one-week sample.  Although you really need a month to see how it works, my mom was sleeping within that first week and noticing considerably less pain.  Learn more at www.Kyani.info.

Special Note:  Although Kyani is also a legitimate business opportunity that may be a turn-off for some, do not let that aspect stand in the way of learning about the life-changing products themselves!  It is not necessary to embrace the business to have the products in your life.

7) www.LDSJournal.com  At Last! An easy way to keep a journal! How wonderful and different my own non-existent personal journaling would have been if I had know about this free site.  It’s my personal 2011 vow to make regular entries here and then print them out for my journal as the new decade begins.

8) www.Facebook.com Though I’ve been a slow and reluctant user of this phenomenon, I’ve become a fan as I get more comfortable.  I have no need to connect with long-gone high school acquaintances, but I do love being in the mainstream of the young moms in my ward that I admire.  I’m also now in touch with far-flung family members that I adore as well.  Somehow in many circumstances it’s easier to facebook than to call or e-mail … I’m enjoying family relationships and friendships I thought were long gone. 

9) www.MyMiracleTea.com Help for Hemorrhoids and Skin Wounds!  Help for Constipated and Wheezing Pets!  with www.MyMiracleTea.com – Though this is my own website, as the years go by I continue to learn more and more about this powerful herbal tonic.  This year we learned how applying the tea itself with a cotton ball aids in healing deep abrasions and wounds.  It also heals and relieves horrible hemorrhoids.  For skin wounds, just dab it on regularly and you can almost watch the skin heal!  For hemorrhoids, go to bed with a tea bag tucked in.


  We’ve also watched as serious boils and lip sores never develop when a cotton-ball (or the teabag itself) is applied at the first hint of these painful skin conditions.  In addition, believe it or not – we’ve learned that the tea is just as helpful for constipated cats and dogs as it is for people!  Just a bit of the tea in their drinking water does the trick!  Also relieves furr-balls and wheezing in pets.

10)   www.CalicoCritters.com    A Great Way to Make Memories Worth Remembering.  Just this December I found and fell in love with the “Calico Critters of Cloverleaf Conners” toy world while Christmas shopping at a specialty children’s store.   Apparently these little toy animal families (squirrels, dogs, cats, raccoons, etc., fully dressed with names, adorable faces and ranging in sizes from one to four-inches – and their incredibly charming houses, furniture, cars, etc.) have been around for years, but I never knew about them!  Of course, they are made for children, but I think they’re made for grandmas who want something extra special to enjoy with their grandkids.  Though not found in many stores, they are easily available online and at eBay.  My husband Bob (how I cherish this generous, big-hearted man who knows and loves me so well)  gave me my first family, the Dalmatians, for Christmas along with the full-size Calico Critters 12-month calendar. 
Our entire family and visitors this week have gotten a huge kick out of it all.  What fun and happy times are in store for me and my little grandkids as I build my collection.  I hope my family will take the hint and realize how easy it will be to please their Mom and Grandma at Christmas, birthday and Mother’s Day.  Again, the scrumptious site to see it all, with designs and colors that will make you happy all day, is www.CalicoCritters.com.

Well, there you have it — my 10 best 2010 finds for a blessed and prosperous 2011.  Happy New Year!

ABOUT CAROLYN ALLEN:  Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area.  Her book, 60 seconds to Weight Loss Success, is available at Amazon.com  Learn more about her herbal health tonic at www.MyMiracleTea.com

She and her husband Bob are part of Team Meridian with Kyani.