Friday, March 29, 2013

Let's Go Shopping!

"I wish I had your will power."
In my head, I laugh when people say that to me. Okay, so sometimes I laugh out loud, as well. It's kind of rude, I suppose, and I try not to...
...but I have very little will power when it comes to food. I love food. I adore food. I plan my vacations around where I'm going to get food. While some people plan the stores they'll visit when going shopping, I plan where I'll be stopping for lunch and what I'm going to order.
I. Love. Food.
When I think about it, I know that my love affair with food started when I was a kid. I remember being at a big family gathering. The cousins were off playing; the adults were visiting. I was at the long table filled with food, grazing on one delicious food after another. I started collecting recipes while still in high school, dreaming of the fabulous gourmet meals I'd someday be making. Heck, I've been known to hide an entire package of Double-Stuft Oreos just so I didn't have to share them with my husband and son.
And that, my friends, may be part of the reason that I ended up carrying 174 pounds on my petite 5'3" frame and lamenting that my size 16 pants were starting to get snug.
Which is why I feel compelled to write this blog entry. Why I felt compelled to write a similar one two weeks ago. I did something that I felt was impossible. And if I could do it, you can too.
In the last two weeks, I've had several people commend me on my weight loss (which has been great for my self-deprecating ego). As they've done so, though, they've often said, "I wish I had your will power."
And the thing is...they do. Because I don't have that much, as I said before. But what I had was enough self-loathing to finally compel me to make a change. And a healthy dose of spitefulness that I won't discuss in a public forum (wink, wink).
The change? My Fitness Pal, a website/app that tracks calories.
That's it.
No exercise (shame on me). No drastic diet changes.
Just calorie counting and attention to portion sizes. Now, I say "just" but there is a little bit of work that has to go into it. You have to use the program. And that's what I did. Every single day, I tracked exactly what I ate and how much of it I ate. I was completely honest. If I cheated and downed a ten-pack of nuggets, medium fries, and a cheeseburger...I tracked it. And very quickly, I stopped doing things like that. I started to become mindful of how many calories different foods were, and I started to measure whether I was willing to spend my calories on those foods.
"Hmm...600 calories? I could have a bowl of popcorn, a cup of ice cream, and a handful of chips with calories to spare instead."
My alloted daily calories are only 1200, which seemed so low to start, but I have adapted very easily. Some days, I'm eating extra snacks to reach that 1200 calorie goal. And I haven't given up any foods. I eat in moderation (generally), and I have started making smart swaps in recipes (Greek yogurt for sour cream; low-fat milk and cheese for whole). I also plan ahead; if I know I'm going to splurge on a restaurant dinner, I eat light and healthy throughout the day.
That's it. I promise. I'm not trying to trick you. I'm not holding back that one secret ingredient to prevent you from having the same success that I have. There it all is. Heck, I even revealed my weight and pant size! That has to count for something!!!
And these nine months have certainly counted for something. This morning, I reached my desired "decade" of weight:
Wow. My scale is dingy.
I'm almost there; my goal weight is just a few pounds away. And today? I bought a size 8 dress:
Single digit satisfaction
So, why did I tell you all of this? My "secret" to losing weight? Because I need a girls' day out of shopping. And I want you to go with me. And I want to see you come out of that dressing room, twirling in delight over fitting into that size you never thought you'd fit into again. And I want to clap and cheer for you (and maybe even get misty-eyed because I'm that friend).
Come with me? Today is the perfect day to start.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Food, Photos, and My Favorite Fellow

I am overwhelmed by the response my last blog post. So many of you reached out to me via email and Facebook; it was rather humbling.
I thank you.
This has been a lovely week, partly because of your support. It has been a lovely week despite the little guy having a reaction to amoxicillin and getting a horrible case of hives. My poor little pal. He weathered that storm rather well, and I am ever amazed at how much he is growing up. In fact, this week was the start of a milestone; we registered him for kindergarten.
Ready to start kindergarten!
Between kindergarten registration and that case of the hives, there has been little focus elsewhere this week. Still, looking back, I was still able to accomplish more creative endeavors than I would have expected.
The biggest one, literally, was (mostly) finishing the makeover of our bedroom. We had the ceiling redone and added molding. Down came the heavy drapes and in came the new light and bedding. A little rearranging and voila!
Isn't it lovely? I have some art for the walls that I have to get framed. Then, we are doing a closet makeover. There are two closets in the room, one being an add-in that covered an existing window. We're opening that closet up and creating a window seat. Can't wait until we get to that project!
I've also been continuing my daily iPhone posts. That is a quick and easy project to get just a bit of creativity each day. Here are some recent shots:

Morning Flight

I also had some time last Sunday to process some "real" photos. It was so nice to be able to return to that. I'm in dire need of a photo safari soon, though. Where are my warm spring temperatures? Ah well, in the mean time, I'll just stay snug and warm by the fire and make some pretty little pictures like these:

A Farm in Winter

Finding Home
I really, really enjoyed that time spent processing these pictures. (Insert happy, content smile.)
The other burst of creativity I had came in the form of trying out a couple of new recipes. Yes, even making food can be a creative endeavor! This week, I made a low-cal cheeseburger casserole. Yes. Low-cal cheeseburger casserole. It's a real thing that tastes amazing. The recipe was courtesy of a genius woman named Gina Homolka. She has a phenomenal website called In addition to My Fitness Pal, it was finding her recipes that truly changed the way I eat, cook, and lost weight.
The other two recipes were not as calorie-conscious, but I find that if I don't jump start my metabolism now and then, I stall in my weight loss. So I made a turkey-kielbasa crock pot recipe and some macaroni and cheese. Both are winners and both recipes can be found on my Pinterest board dedicated to recipes I've actually made. I'm sorry there are no pictures. I was too interested in eating... ;)
Well, I guess that's it for this week. Time to plan a grocery list and pick out a couple more new recipes to try!
Have a great week!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I am thirty-seven years old, a fact I often choose to change to suit my whim. Sometimes I say I'm twenty-seven. Sometimes I don't say. Sometimes, usually when I'm at the doctor's office and it's more embarrassing, I'll actually forget, and my reply is more of a question than a statement.
But there it is. I am thirty-seven years old. And I am still working on who I am as a person. Or perhaps, I am still trying to find out who I am as a person.
There are some things that I know. I am as loyal as they come. I am an introvert. I am honest but I'd rather hold back if the truth will hurt you. I have no tolerance for people who actively choose the role of victim.
There are roles that I have taken on that I take very seriously: mother, wife, teacher.
There are roles that stir my passion: writer, photographer, artist.
And still, even at thirty-seven and with knowing so much about myself (I am annoyingly self-aware), I'm still trying to "find myself," as they say.
I began a metamorphosis in July of 2012. We had gone to Ohio to visit my brother-in-law and were staying in a hotel. The first morning that we were there, I dashed from the bathroom to the spot where we had tucked our suitcase. My path took me past a full length mirror. An unforgiving, hypercritical, honest, full length mirror.
Instead of telling me that I was the fairest of them all, it shrieked and covered its eyes.
Or maybe that was just me.
It was a moment in which I had to make a decision. Make a change (or several) or forever be horribly dissatisfied with my appearance.
I know...I know...
"Society's standards of beauty...Self-worth...blah blah blah..."
I will never be willowy and tall. I will never grace the cover of Vogue (They do Photoshop, though). And I am okay with that. Really and truly.
But I was not okay with how I looked. In my own eyes and not that of society.
So I decided to change. I joined My Fitness Pal and began to militantly track my calories. Militantly. And I didn't cheat. At all.
It is now March of 2013, nine months later. And I guess that timeline is pretty ironic as I'm in the midst of a rebirth of sorts. I'm not done with the metamorphosis; I still have some changes to make.
But this weekend was the first time, the very first time, that I realized how far I've come. More than needing to buy new clothes. More than people telling me that I look great and asking me what I've done. More than any of those affirmations.
I took a silly self-portrait in the bathroom mirror. I was wearing a camisole that I would be covering with a nice, comfy sweatshirt. And it was just a silly, schoolgirl whim that came over me.
I snapped the pic. I snapped a pic of myself from my sister's wedding when I was at my absolutely heaviest. I Photoshopped them together.
And I saw myself for the first time since I did on July 7, 2012:
40 Pounds Later...
If I can do this, you can do this. And I don't just mean weight loss (although that's my first step). I mean anything. If you want to make a change in your life, you can. You just need to be honest with yourself about who you are, what you want, and what it will take to actually get you motivated.
You will have to work hard. You will have to have will power.
And you can do it.
You. Can. Do. It.
I have faith in you. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ebb and Flow

Creativity is an ever-changing tide. Sometimes it ebbs; sometimes it flows. Sometimes it flows in one direction, sometimes another.
I am trying to come to terms with that.
It has been a rough winter in terms of indulging in creative endeavors. If I think about it, that just may be the case with most winters. Especially compared to the summer when I have more time to play rather than work.
I think that I need to be more mindful of this before I berate myself for a week in which I am not cranking out creative projects.

So, what have I done? I'm sticking to my daily iPhone pic on Instagram. Today will be day 75, I think. Better than I have done with a daily project before, so I'll take it! I've been trying to mix up the images a little bit this week, a mix of creepy and cheery, winter and spring. You can, of course, follow my stream here: My Instagram Profile.

I also, typically, processed a picture...this morning. Hey, at least I was able to do one, right? Ha ha! I'll take it!

Anywhere is Possible
Another creative endeavor that I've found myself returning to is writing. I'm teaching my yearly creative writing class, and the wealth of amazing young writers is astounding. And inspiring. I think it's time for me to return to my three-years-and-running novel. I'm also starting a collaboration with a friend of mine on a parenting book about raising introverts/extroverts. Plus, I want to reinvest some time in shopping for a publisher for a children's book I worked on with a talented artist friend.
But first, I'm going to focus on painting. My bedroom. Ha ha! Have a great one, all!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The End of the Winter Doldrums?

Could someone turn off that broken record?
Oh. That's me.
That's how I'm starting to feel, like the broken record version of myself. I have definitely been stuck in a creative rut. Part of it, I think, has just been the fact that I'm so tired in the evening, that the idea of adding something else to my to-do list--even much loved creative endeavors--just seems like too much.
I am hoping that the transition into spring will result in a creative transition for me, as well. Hoping. Fingers crossed.
In the mean time, though, at least there is my beloved iPhone and the wealth of photo-processing apps. I am able to create a new image every day. Is it the lazy way out? Absolutely. But will that have to do for now? Absolutely.
My Instagram feed is where I've been posting all these things, and you can now check it out online!
I have only managed to really process one real image this week. Okay, truth is that I did it just before typing this because I felt really guilty.
The Passage of Time
Well. It's another week. Daylight Savings Time has struck. Winter is on its way out.
Let's see what the next seven days bring!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Monster's Knees

Forget being the "bee's knees" because I found something better!!
So, I love Pinterest. Just putting it out there. It is a great way to lose a couple of hours and to procrastinate undesirable jobs. It's also a great place from which to get great ideas!
I saw this idea a little while ago. I would say that I waited in anticipation for the opportunity to try it, but A) that would make me a little whacko and B) I forgot about it amongst the gazillion other things that I have pinned.
That said, when my Mom casually noted the impending demise of a piece of my son's clothing, a door burst open in my memory, and a voice called, "There's a pin for that!!"
Confused? Sorry. Too much coffee, not enough sleep...
Anyway, being the mother to a rambunctious little boy leads to these sort of things happening:
What do boys have against knees? Their own and the ones in their pants? Aside from always having bruised and scraped knees, my little guy has started to wear the knees of his jeans quite thin. This pair, unfortunately, started the tearing process earlier this week. My mom suggested cut-offs, but my experience in doing that for myself last resulted in a scandalous pair of Daisy Dukes. I'm actually surprised my mom didn't remember those, but I suspect it's one of those things that she has chosen to strike from her memory.
That's probably for the best.
In any case, I had a better idea (thanks to Pinterest), and I immediately gathered my supplies:
1. Pair of jeans with a busted out knee
2. Red scrap of fabric (from an old onesie)
3. Felt
4. Embroidery hoop
5. Embroidery floss and needle
The first thing that I did was cut a scrap of red fabric a little larger than the tear in the jeans.
I cheated and rather than find some pins, I just taped the fabric inside. Then, I put in the hoop to keep the fabric taut and stitched it in place. I didn't try to be particularly neat or precise. I was creating a monster, after all!
See it? It's starting to take shape! just trust me and keep reading.
The next step, after trimming the excess red fabric, was to add the teeth. Luckily (sort of), I had grabbed the wrong felt. This batch has adhesive backing. I cut the teeth out and slid them into place. They adhered right to the fabric, so I only needed to add a couple of stitches as insurance against the washing machine. Of course, the adhesive made my needle quite sticky, but I pulled through (ha ha to my sewing pun)...
Don't worry. A couple of good washes, that opening will fray and those teeth will be on full display!!
Next up, eyeballs. Again, the felt has adhesive backing, so I just stuck my pieces together and stuck them in place. I did, however, add a couple of stitches to make sure that it wouldn't be eyeless after a trip through the washer.
And after more cursing than I had anticipated as easily as that, I was done! The only thing left to do was to have my model test them out for me!
Is that not cute? My little guy was so excited to run upstairs and show his Daddy. And truly, it only took about two hours, which included myriad interruptions to play "Toy Story" or to refill a cup with chocolate milk.
And truth be told, I'm kind of hoping I can wear out the knee in a pair of my jeans next...



Saturday, March 2, 2013

How It Is

It has been a tough week.
I have been, for a very long time, a tough chickie when it comes to dealing with stress. It's just how it has been. I firmly believe in the idea of "sink or swim" when it comes to adversity. And I'm a swimmer.
Right now, though, I am treading water.
There's just so much going on in my life and in my head. My stress and anxiety levels are much higher than normal, and that is, perhaps, why I'm finding it harder to deal with as I usually do. I guess I am taken aback at how my stress levels have spiked and at how my normal methodologies aren't working.
Still, there is some peace to be found with art. It's not enough to stop the migraines or the insomnia, but in those moments when I am creating, I can just breathe and my brain can be still.
I didn't create much this week, but what I did was important for me...
iPhone shots are a quick fix to start my day:
Homeward Bound (I Wish I Was)
Long Road to Go
I also did some "real" photo processing, as well. I have to admit that is very, very good for my soul. It was my weekly challenge, and while I didn't get to do as much as I would have liked, for those moments while I was able to process some images, my brain was quiet.
Winter Home
Shelter from the Storm
I feel like I could get lost in those landscapes, just for a little while. Perhaps that's why photo processing is so therapeutic...
Another temporary therapy I've found is cross-out poems. I've been working through a copy of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter" and finding poetic bits. This is my favorite find so far:
It Is Not Possible
Telling, no?
I also started a new, large-scale project. I have no idea what I'm doing. It may not turn out as grand as I have envisioned. But it'll still be beautiful and important:
Yes, in my delusion optimism, I am attempting to make a patchwork quilt of some of the little guy's baby clothes. Some of them are just outfits that I loved to see him in. Others have important memories: the shirt he was wearing the first time he walked, his first favorite shirt, special gifts. It will be a grand keepsake if I can pull it off!
And now, we see what happens. Wish me luck...on all fronts! xoxo