Thursday, July 31, 2008

Inspiration


Helen Mirren is a full on goddess. Seriously. The woman who played the queen is sixty-three years old and look at her in this candid and un-photoshopped picture! She looks fabulous.

I think at thirty-five, instead of looking at eighteen year olds for inspiration as to what a healthy toned body looks like I'll look to ladies a little farther down the path.

Some other over-forty babes:

Demi Moore (okay, she's had a lot of work but WOW)
Elizabeth Hurley
Jennifer Lopez
Halle Berry
Heather Locklear
Selma Hayek
Sharon Stone (yes, she's CRAZY but she looks good)

Who is your inspiration for a healthy body? Who would you swap shape with if such things were possible? Who has hair you love?

I think my answers would be:

A. Demi Moore
B. Demi Moore
C. Demi Moore

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Anko Cakes and Japanese Comic Books

With such a broad range of readers for this blog I haven't been sure what I should post. Do you want to hear about our life (kids, school, cooking, love), writing, crafts? Any preference?

After a day and a half of cooking the adzuki beans (never trust a recipe that says, two hours or until soft) we managed to convert them into a smooth, sweet paste. Then we spread flattened buttered bread with the adzuki goop, ran a line of whip cream across the top and rolled it up into a jelly roll. We thinly sliced the roll (think sushi) and topped each piece with whip cream and sprinkles.

How did we come to make this strange concoction? Easy, our boys are obsessed with manga and all things Japanese. They've raced through the Megaman series and Case Closed all the way to volume 24. Now they are chomping at the bit for book twenty-five to be translated into English and the wait is driving them nuts. In a fit of desperation they asked for lessons in Kanji so they can read the yet to be translated volumes themself. They're also interested in Japanese cooking due to the meals that appear in the stories. So I bought them a manga cook book to help tide them over and the house is abuzz with talk of onigari and other exotic dishes.

What has been nice is that a lot of classics have been made into graphic novels over the last few years. Trenton really enjoyed Hamlet even though the language was way above his level and the manga/comic tie-in was enough to get him through the hard parts.

Here's Brayden cooking:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One Sketch Four Ways

I'm still not really feeling my mojo but I decided to take a crack at the card challenge over at 2sketches4you that I mentioned yesterday.

Here's the sketch:



And here are the four cards I made while Chris read Twilight( speaking of, Breaking Dawn is coming out on Saturday! I love that I came to the party so late that I only had to wait a week for the final book):



Etsy Finds, Congrats and Our Yard

Congratulations to my dear sweet friend Estela for completing her first triathlon. I know how much work and time went into training for it and I am extremely proud of you. Way to go!

Also, congratulations to Ryan and Vicki on getting engaged! Two of my RateYourWriting.com admins fell in love and are planning to marry. With the site going dark on Friday, it's a comfort to know that all those years of hard work resulted in something that will last much longer than a website. All the best to you both.

Last night we did the final walk through for our yard and our landscape designer was happy to see so many of the plants coming back to life. We had 102-104 degree weather when the plants were first planted and it nearly killed the lot of them. It's wonderful seeing tender green shoots interspersed with the dry, dead branches. A lot of our perennials have started budding or flowering too so our yard is constantly morphing and changing on a day to day basis. We spend so much time outside now, it's wonderful.

I found this great shop on Etsy this morning, Luckychelle Boutique.

Here's some of her cute stuff I like:





She also has a Flickr account and a blog.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sketch Challenge, Improved Health, New shell

Hey Everyone:

Hope you had a fab weekend. We mostly hung out and Chris and I went to a movie. My health is definitely improving although much slower than I'd like. I even managed a thirteen minute work out this morning - mostly balance and stretching. I tried to do basic step but the cramps took me out. Still, thirteen minutes is great.

Last night I worked on a shell for my Etsy shop. Here it is, with all the pics you can click on them to make them larger:



Once it's full of pictures, it should look a lot like this one:

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Our yard is complete as far as landscaping goes. We have to add the deck still but that will require some saving up so it'll mostly be a spring project. Here's some pics:




2sketches4you has another challenge posted. Here's the sketch:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Found!

Tonight at B&N I found the magazine that had the LO I wanted to scraplift. It was the most recent Memory Makers. Chris bought me a new copy and I can't wait to take a crack at it.

Thanks for helping me narrow it down, Mary :-)

Eclipse

Just finished the third book in the Twilight series. It is definitely the best and I am now very excited about next weeks release of the final book.

As I had suspected, SM gave an interview and each book is a very loose homage to a classic with Twilight being Pride and Prejudice, New Moon is Romeo and Juliet, Eclipse nods to Wuthering Heights and Breaking Dawn is rumored to reflect A MidSummer Nights Dream and a second secret book. Interesting.

And in case you're in the know, TEAM JACOB!*

*even though Chris and I are so Bella and Edward

Jeans!

Last weekend I rifled through my grown out clothes bag and my closet has felt wonderfully full ever since.

This morning I tried on a bunch of my "regular" clothes and they are officially unwearable. I'm elated. I sorted the batch into things to have taken in and things to give to good will. Then I went to put on my last pair of jeans that fit and there was a big hole in the thigh. Oh, the horror!

I recalled a poorly placed mail order a few years back that resulted in amy ownership of a black pair of jeans with gold embroidery down the outside seam. I could only slide them over my hips with the greatest effort. The zipper was pulled into the largest wedge it could form without tearing. Since they were seven dollars, it seemed it would cost more to return them than keep them or give them away.

At the bottom of my drawer they were neatly folded and waiting to be called into action. I was nervous - they were really, really small and I couldn't possibly have changed shape that much. I tried my linen pants on instead and the waist was about four inches too large for me. So I grabbed the jeans and they slid on and did up comfortably. They don't even pinch or bind when I sit, not in the least.

I have been feeling so provided for. Every time I run out of something, like jeans, a new pair miraculous presents itself. And yes, they were in the drawer all along but how many people get to shop for new clothes out of their dresser?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Finished, Finished and Fun

I decided I was strong enough to do our weekly errands last night and am really paying for it. Grrr. Healing is so SLOW! But, while at Costco I bought New Moon and Eclipse and manages to read all 500+ pages of New Moon last night while clutching my heating pad and waiting for the pain to stop. It was very good too. I'm about 80 pages into Eclipse and am still hooked.

When I replied to the editor at Family Fun I had said I'd get the essay to her by the end of the week so I was working on it the last few days. I finally had a completed draft I was happy with. Then I reread her email and realized I had written what I thought she wanted, not what she had actually said she wanted at all. I was working off the idea I sent her and somehow missed the direction she wanted the piece to take. Foolish girl! So I rewrote the piece, following her guidelines this time and it came together within an hour. I had just been talking to the boys about the importance of answering the actual question, not what you think a person is asking. Then we talked about doing the job you were asked to do, not what you think the person asked. Then I do this. Obviously they come by their interpretive replies naturally. This was a great teachable moment for them as they knew how hard I struggled to make the first version just right and what a drag it was to have to waste all that work.

There is a very fun online crop going on a The Scrap-room today and through the weekend. The challenges posted so far have been really cool and I encourage anyone who's crafty to go and check it out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dinner, Dog and a Darn Good Book

I am officially back to about 50% of my usual capacity. It feels great. I'll spare the details but I got really sick last night through this morning and I seems like a lot of what was wrong left my system. I'm extremely fatigued, and hungry and very, very thirsty but I don't feel like I'm hosting an unfriendly guest in my abdomen. Yay for recovery.

After a long hot shower - sadly the first in days - I ate breakfast (without the usual cramping) and then made beef burgundy, one of my hardest dishes and the first meal I've cooked in two weeks. On Tuesday watching the mixer for five minutes nearly did me in so forty-five minutes of sauteing, chopping and dicing is a huge change. Avery was beside himself to have me back in the kitchen and his help made the meal possible. Love that kid.

Chocolate has a urinary tract disease that makes him susceptible to UTIs. He started having trouble last week while Chris was gone for three days and I couldn't get off the couch. Yesterday he spent the day at the vet and his bacteria was sky-high so he's back on meds and prescription dog food for the next month. Poor sprout, he's going to really miss his treats. Everyone at the vet commented to Chris about how his temperament is incredibly good-natured and very sweet. I don't know why I felt so proud though, it's not like we trained him to have a good personality. He's just the most awesome dog in the world. And I'm completely unbiased, of course. Right now he's curled up against my legs with his head on my feet. I can't believe we went without this kind of love so long.

I read Twilight straight through (more or less) yesterday afternoon and this morning. And I loved it. At first I was annoyed when for two paragraphs straight every sentence began with, "I". Then she pulled the looking in the mirror so the reader knows what the MC looks like trick and nearly lost me. But once Bella met Edward and I was hooked. I've never read any buzz about Twilight so excuse me if it has been said before but Twilight felt very Austen-esque to me. It's so buttoned up yet dripping with longing and passion. It's certainly more modern and loosens the reigns a bit but in general the tension is created from what can't be. I haven't been swept up so thoroughly in a book in ages.

I'm such a snob about Bandwagon Books - you know, anything EVERYONE is reading thats the BEST. THING. EVER! It took me forever to pick up Harry Potter, the Xer in me just hates being a joiner. But, like HP, I am so totally hooked on the Twilight now that I've asked Chris at least four times about when he's off work and can we please, please, please go to Barnes and Noble.

Lately all the reading I've done has been excellent, that never happens. Even Stephen King's The Gingerbread Girl wasn't half bad - and when was the last time you could say that about Stephen King? I'll tell you, about 1988.

*sigh* Kids working, doggy warming my feet, house smelling of good food. Bliss.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Feel Like Making Something and Help Wanted

Whew. This illness has been a toughie but only my appendix and pancreas are still kicking up a fuss so I am feeling loads better. Thanks for the prayers everyone.

I know I'm inching towards good health because both my writing and my scrapbooking have started to look awfully appealing. Since my energy and mojo are still very low I finished off two LOs that I had cut the pieces for and had adhered more than half of the parts already. Finishing an existing project is so much easier than starting fresh.

The design is by the incredibly talented Brenda Carpenter and it is used with her permission. You can read her blog here

The visuals, click to make it bigger:







I've got a small and very stupid favor that I was wondering if one of my scrappy friends could help me with. Somewhere between all the doctor/hospital/doctor shuffling, someone misplaced my eight newest scrapbook mags from the past two months. I called all the places I could think of but no luck. I only read through one of them (which one I do not know) but it had an awesome page in it using K and Co Urban Rhapsody. The artist had cut trees out of the brown and pink print, there was a trunk and limbs and green and teal grass snipped out by hand across the bottom. I really want to lift that LO but can't remember the rest. If you've seen it, can you scan it and email me the pic? I subscribe to BHG, SS, CK and MM so I have no idea which one it was. TIA

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Treats, Tweets and Toot

Do you like hummus? Since this diet started, I make it at least once a week or so and then I have something yummy to eat all week.

Hummus is a thick chickpea (garbanzo bean) dip that you make in the blender or food processor and then dip pitas, crackers and in my case, loads of fresh veggies in it.

When I first looked for recipes for hummus I learned that there are as many variations as there are people who make it. It almost always includes chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. It's the proportions that change. I've seen recipes that start with a can of chickpeas and add 3/4 C of olive oil all the way to recipes that call for less than a tsp of oil. Lemon juice runs from a tsp to the juice of two lemons (how I like it). So when it comes to hummus, mix up a batch and taste it, then add more seasoning until it's just right.

Here's my recipe:

* Take one 15 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans are the same thing) and rinse them in a strainer.

* Throw them in the blender with about 2TBL of olive oil, the juice of one and a half - two lemons, a clove or two of garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, 2TBL of tahini paste, a dash of cumin and as much water as you need to keep the blender moving. Some people use the bean water but I heard that can give you gas and stomach upset so I use tap water.

* Puree until smooth. Dip a carrot or cracker in it and see how it tastes. Add more garlic, lemon juice or salt if needed.

I prefer mine cold but it's good room temperature too. Sometimes I'll sprinkle a little smoked chipotle pepper on top but that makes it HOT. Other folks like to add sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red-peppers.

Cauliflower, carrots, celery and broccoli are all great things to dip in hummus as are pita chips, pretzels or crackers. Some people use it as a high-protein sandwich spread.


Today I stumbled across a new web blog service called Posterous.com. It's a very trimmed down blog that you post to via email. It will then take your post and add it to Twitter and/or Flickr. Which is great because I tend to have to upload posts all over the place. It's one-stop shopping! I haven't got the Twitter/Flickr bit to work yet but I'm intrigued. Let me know if you try it out. You can find me there here.

Speaking of Twitter, I tweet all the time. Here's a link to my twitter
Twitter is a blast because it's limited to 140 characters with the idea being that you answer the question, what are you doing now? Twitter really helps me feel close to friends as I know the little moments of their day and some cool people like Cathy Zielske and Tara Whitney tweet too. So sign up and you too can know what I eat for breakfast. *snark*

And now for my good news.

I got an email from Family Fun magazine last night and they are publishing one of my ideas. Woo-hoo. Family fun is the number one magazine for families and has a circulation of over two million readers. Something of mine was in there last year but I wasn't paid. This is way better.

I need to write up a two-hundred word essay and get it back to the editor ASAP and it'll be in one of their Christmas issues. I'm getting paid one hundred bucks for it, which sadly is the most I've ever got for my writing - and for something so short!

I was just thinking the other day that this will be the first year that I got paid more for my scrapbooking than writing but now that is not the case.

HEM magazine (which has published two of my articles) has just changed editors so I don't know if my style will still be a good fit. I really liked the old editor and had a good feel for what she wanted. Someone new is always a big change. I need to start submitting again.

It was awesome to get great news during such a crummy two weeks.

KIts, Cards and Contests

I won this loaded kit from Dixie Pieces, check it out:



And from their website I found a sketch site, 2sketches4you that is running a card sketch contest this week to win a super-cute Dixie Pieces kit as a prize.

Here's the sketch:



and you can read all the details about the contest at the 2sketches4you blog linked above. The deadline is Saturday so if you're interested you'll need to get to work.

I'll post some good news later today.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fat, Diets, Neurosis and Old Clothes

Looks like my non-scrappy friends read my blog more than my scrappy ones based on the lack or response to the LO post. I'll keep that in mind :-)

I'm on Day 60 of my diet. Saturday morning the wii Fit had me down twenty-three pounds from my starting weight. That's pretty good. Once I'm down thirty I want to go see the doc who said with my thyroid I can't lose weight and shake my skinny (er) rear end at him. That of course wouldn't be very modest but a girl can have her fantasies, right. It bugs me like nothing else when people say I can't do something.

While living a life free of all animal products, gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol was never something I imagined doing, it's been good. I've had so many smaller health problems disappear entirely, I'm off almost all meds and according to my GP, I'm better nourished than I've ever been.

What I don't like though is the reading labels, weighing myself, constantly pawing through my closet for something that fits well - it makes me feel neurotic, and FAT. I've never paid so much attention to my food or my body in my life. Frankly, I've always left that level of obsessing to the pretty-but-cuckoo chicks. I mean at my worst, my husband thinks I'm hot, I think I clean up well, I'm reasonably pretty at thirty-five and I still garner unwanted male attention. My self-esteem has been unaffected by my pant size - I really like me: mind, soul and body. But since this diet, I've felt fat, unattractive and more insecure than I have since I was fifteen. It's just strange being so vigilant about every single bite of food that enters my temple. I think about food, weight and size way too much now. But a diet so full of restriction does require an amount of planning and cooking that my previous lifestyle did not.

I've found it pretty easy, neurosis aside, to stay the path. Not one bit of contra-band food has passed my lips. Since I am doing this for my bone disease, cheating doesn't make any sense. Really, if you compare the luscious taste of bratwurst to the rest of my life in a wheelchair, the bratwurst is considerably less appealing.

Yesterday I was feeling a lot better in the morning and when I was dressing the two brown paper grocery bags at the top of the back of our closet caught my eye. Those bags mock me - really they do. Wrapped in their scratchy caress are all the clothes I've out grown over the years that were, in my opinion, timeless: A-line skirts, wide-leg, pinstriped dress pants, suits, sheath dresses. The items date as far back as 1997! Some were deposited after I had Trenton in 1996, most hit the sack when I gained forty-five pounds on Depakote (FWIW, my doc said most of his clients on that particular blend of meds gain over 100 pounds so I did "really well") and the rest tumbled out of favor after my hysterectomy (that five or six pounds pushed a few things to their limit) or dribbled in after my bone disease. It was almost like strata, each layer representing a time in my life where my figure changed. Those bags represented 56.5 pounds of change since my wedding day.

Instead of being intimidated by the contents by the bags, I decided to take that 23.5 pound loss out for a spin and see how far I could burrow through the bags before they got too tight. The entire first bag fit. And I was right, the clothes are timeless and awesome. I was positively dreary over my favorite skirt hanging so low on my hips that it was about four inches longer and very unflattering and lo and behold, the original skirt that was the inspiration for my too-big favorite skirt fits again - and I love it as much as I ever did. Same for the dress pants and all the other skirts. My suits are still WAY too small - but they are size eight, tailored Georgiou two and three piece suits and I'm a mile from getting back into those. They're teeny.

As for timeless, only the mini-skirts were a poor choice. I laugh at the thought of the number of times I've moved those tiny things. While they fit, they just aren't appropriate anymore. But, when I came downstairs to show Chris he said, " I love that skirt. You wore it to meet me at the airport in San Diego." Must have been very memorable. LOL.

Anyhow, I'll keep you posted on my progress. Changing my eating habits has been such a great help for my bone disease and losing weight has been a wonderful byproduct of those changes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Old Favorites

I don't have much new to report, still mending my poor broken internal organs, so I thought I'd post pics of my favorite LOs from the last few months.

P.S. For my non-scrappy friends, when I put LO in a post I'm referring to scrapbook layouts.

Click on the image if you want a closer look.

This one is about Trenton starting to wear my Birkenstocks. It's called Passing the Torch.



Here's a pic from my first birthday. I was reaching out to pass my dad a bit of cake.



One of my LOs was on a local morning show, I recorded the emails and included a DVD of the two shows.



My dear friend Sarah took this picture as I exited their vehicle on the way in to the Cross House to get married. The design is based on a Page Map by Becky Fleck.

Adverbs and Spray on Hair

See, I told you it wouldn't be long.

I picked up Fahrenheit 451 last night for the dozenth time. I read it when I was eleven or so and then snippets throughout my adulthood. Since it's one of those books people refer to, like Brave New World or 1984 I thought it would be good to bone up on it again, espeically since it's cropping up on T's reading lists.

A few pages in I read this:

He hung up his black beetle-colored helmet and shined it; he hung his flameproof jacket neatly; he showered luxuriously, and then, whistling, hands in pockets, walked across the upper floor of the fire station and fell down the hole.

Then I threw the book across the room. Seriously. I did it forcefully and angrily. Have I mentioned I really hate overuse of adverbs?

We are having our yard landscaped and we're at the gilding the lily stage. Anyone who is reading this probably knows we've had one calamity after another when it comes to this poorly graded yard and precipitation (BTW, that adverb was well-used.)

Yesterday the hydro seed dude came and did something to our hillside that was all too reminiscent of those late night commercials for spray on hair. Gallons of gushing green stuff topped our sad, bald slope with a thick coating of fake grass. While I appreciate that it should sprout into something noteworthy (or so says the Rogaine commercials) right now it looks a little ridiculous. I'll take pictures as soon as I am on the same floor as my camera - stairs still hurt like the dickens.

EDIT: Camera procured, I managed to snap a few shots of my poor embarrassed yard hiding it's head under a flaxen shawl. I'm assuming the miracle of life will cause grass to sprout up through the little gaps and turn our sledding run into a grassy knoll.

Evidence:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What? No baby?

I was in the hospital on Tuesday night, it was the big reveal in this novel length illness I've been working through. Okay, probably not novel length but much much longer than I'd like... sort of like It by Stephen King - by the time your three-quarters of the way through you start to wonder if it'll ever end!

Anyhow, back to my story. So I'm in a hospital bed, cold, shaking, fevered, getting an IV (one of my biggest fears) and cramping like nobodys business - remind you of anything? Yep, the whole thing left me wondering, " What? All this and no baby?" See, I'm of an age where most of my recent hospital stays have resulted in a new mouth to feed. The smells and sounds of the ER really brought me back to when my sprouts were born.

John my radiologist was feeling witty that night. I found his banter  hilarious, assuming by hilarious you mean if I had a fork I would have stuck it in his jugular. Yes, I know, not very Christian but if you'd been there you would understand.

John wheels me back to the CT Scan and goes through the spiel about how it's a contrast CT Scan and he'll be administering the iodine intravenously. Fine. Then he looks at my arm and does a double take, "Where's your IV?"

" Back in the room with my fluids and morphine." I quip.

So he says, " Ah, don't worry. I'm pretty sure they showed me how to do this in school. I can probably get an IV in for you."

I'm petrified. Head nurses have taken four or more tries to thread a tube in my vein. I think they taught me how to do this isn't okay.

So he says he's going to give me a practice poke to see how wobbly my veins are. POKE! I want him to suffer. And then he perks up and says, " There you go. You're IVs in." I nearly fainted with relief.

He went on to tell me how he might have gone right through the other side of the vein and the fluid might start to fill my arm and cause terrible pain. Then he asked, " How lucky are you feeling tonight? Ummm.... I'm in the ER! How lucky do you think?

Anyhow. All's well that ends well and I was so glad to be home.

Huge love to Jason and Estela for getting out of bed and driving a town over to take care of the boys. You guys are awesome.

Since I'm recuperating I have been trying to tackle sedentary tasks. Day One I cut out a stack of embellishments and journaling spots that I had bought off of Etsy. They are by MariekeVDesign and you buy the PDF and print as many as you like. I bought:



Here's her Etsy Shop and her Flickr gallery.

Then I read homeschool books, planned curriculum, finished The Book Thief (possibly my favorite book of all time, read it!), Omnivores Dilemma, Hanging by a Thread and I think another book I'm forgetting.

Today I was feeling slightly better and I managed to sit down and take photos to spruce up my Etsy shop. I staged the pics to look a little better than on the floor in the middle of the night and took lots of close-ups of the details that make home made cards special. Hopefully this recovering trend will continue into tomorrow and I can finish the other half.

Chris is gone for two more days and then I'll have a shoulder to lean on again. The timing is rough for him to be so busy but that's how things go.

Looking forward to creating something as soon as I feel a tick better.

Nicole

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sickness and Health

Today has been pretty rough - a morning trip to the doc with plans to follow up at the ER. Fortunately the meds are helping with the pain and hopefully all the test results will come back clear.

But, I did manage to take pictures of a LO I was working on last night. The design is by the very talented Brenda Carpenter and is part of the month is review pages I am working on at The Scraproom.

You can click on the image to make it bigger.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Etsy Goodness

Just added a ton-o-stuff to my Etsy shop.

You can check it out here: Bare Your Soul