First Things First

Well, here I am home again. There is always a little longer-than-I-would-like re-entry period. A time when I am unsure of the next move. Where am I going with my art? What am I going to do with my house? What possessed me to think that it would be easy to live with four dogs?

Here’s one thing I was very certain of, even before I got home. I knew for sure that I wanted to continue to eat the way I’ve learned to eat. I knew that I wanted to make exercise a part of my daily life. It was a really good feeling to be confident of that, even as I enjoyed some of the definitely-not-healthy-but-oh-so-delicious local fare.

My new mug and plate for my afternoon coffee break.

My new mug and plate for my afternoon coffee break.

The quilt workshop was more than fabulous. I am still processing all that I learned, and will share more in the days to come on my quilt blog. But here’s the first thing I want to share. After all, this IS a blog. Lynn of Lynn’s Weigh and I really did get to meet! Lynn was the very first blog I ever read. I never even knew there was such a thing as blogs until I picked up the “Half Their Size” issue of People magazine, and then read the tiny writing in the little box that said to check out Lynn’s blog. That was just about the time that I had lost most of my weight and was really looking for a place of encouragement. I found it in the blogging world, and Lynn was just the right person to introduce me to it. If she hadn’t been such a good writer, I don’t know if I would have continued to explore blogging. So THANK YOU Lynn!

Since I was in Amish country, and EVERYTHING is closed on Sunday in Amish country (oops,) I drove over to Pittsburgh to meet Lynn. We decided on a restaurant called First Watch, and using my new-fangled equipment, I googled directions on my Kindle Fire, and then wrote them out longhand to follow as I drove.

Here’s where I ended up.


Thanks, Google Maps.

Luckily, Lynn had a garmin, so she was able to find me, and since we were nowhere near the original meeting place, we decided on “Mad Mex!” Yumm.

Its so fun to meet someone in person for the first time, and feel so comfortable. We talked like old friends. Which, in one way, I guess we are. Blogging is like that. We share very personal parts of our lives sometimes.

I can only blame my funky hair on travel conditions!

I can only blame my funky hair on travel conditions!

Talking Back

Sorry for the absence.  One thing you can say about me is that I’m consistently inconsistent…  Last week was one of those weeks that I really try to avoid.  Over-filled with too many activities.  It wasn’t really my fault, and it wasn’t really anybody else’s fault.  Just a convergence of events that could not be changed or delayed.  In short, I met with three realtors, and then chose one to list my dad’s house.  Vicky was out of town for a week, so my little job was a little bigger.  The pastor from Haiti (where we have our child sponsorship program) was in town, and we met with him (in person for the first time!) to work on some of the details of the program.  I had scheduled a lunch out with a friend that I hadn’t seen for several months.  And, I was scheduled to sing at the Ladie’s Tea on Saturday!  Egad!   But you know what?  I made it through, and I had some real food victories along the way.

But first, I wanted to share some of the great comments I received on the last entry.  Sometimes I think blogging is so weird.  I blab on and on forever, and then some of you are so kind as to make pertinent comments, and on my best days, I will reply to those.  But when life gets so hectic, the comments just sit there, and that is the end of the conversations.   “blah blah blah blah blah” I go. and you reply,  “oh, well have you thought of blah blah?”  splat.  the end.  Don’t you think that’s weird?

ANYWAY, some of those comments were really really helpful to me over the past few days.  So thank you!  Sharon said simply “Do the next right thing.”  Okay, I can do that.  Lori talked about “the line that you cross between being accepting and complacent. I think with complacency comes weight gain. Accepting doesn’t mean you stop trying, but just accepting that where you are right this minute is okay. Sure, it may not be quite where you want to be, but it is not a reflection on the person you are.”  Yes, of course.  I hadn’t quite thought of it that way.  PJ  suggested “keep it simple. quality. really satifying visually and texturally” in regards to my food choices. Yes.  That was something I could really relate to.  DebraSY just said “RRAAaaar!  Dig in with your heels and fight back!” That was something that I really appreciated hearing, especially from Debra.  And Karen left a note about being in a similar muddle, which made me click over to her blog, where she had written an excellent post about practicing both acceptance and improvement.  Now that is an excellent thought!  A little unrelated, but it made me very happy, was Caron’s note that she recommends my homemade yogurt instructions to people who are interested. I appreciate so much all of the comments people leave, so I feel a little rude for only listing these.  Just know that I love all of them!

I had quite a few challenging food “situations” in the past few days, and I’ve been so very happy in how I’ve handled them.  The best one was the ladie’s tea.  I was totally stressing out over NOT wanting to eat the food there, but worrying that I would feel pressured to eat it, more by myself than others.  I knew if I sat down at one of the fancy tables I would eat.  So I went in the kitchen area where they were just starting to prepare all the plates of fancy little foods, and I asked if they needed help.  For once they said yes.  I was so happy helping out, arranging the food, and not at all tempted to eat it.  And then they left me to arrange the dessert tiers all by myself!  I put out about 250 little dessert tidbits on those plates, and I did not even lick my fingers.  Cause I knew if I licked my fingers I would take a few home for later LOL.  If you’re interested, here is a link to the song that I sang.  Its a beautiful song by JJ Heller “What Love Really Means.”  And then I went straight from the tea to our meeting with Pastor Gilbert!  It all went really well, but when I left that meeting, I knew that all the stressful things from the week were over and done with.  I came home, put on my shorts, and sat in my chair with the two little dogs on my lap for hours!  Lovely.


Where Do I Start?

To borrow the language from some of my favorite cooking shows, this vacation had a lot of different components to it, which added to the complexity and the “flavor” of the experience!

Who flies across the country to spend three days with a person they’ve never met?  Only a blogger, I think!  Of course, I ‘knew’ Sharon from reading her blog for the past two years, and I felt that we would get along well, and I was right!  Sharon was such a gracious hostess.  She has written all about our time together, so I will not elaborate here, except to say THANK YOU once again to Sharon for her time and generosity.  Sharon and I developed a really fabulous muffin recipe that I will share in a separate blog.

Here’s a picturama of our hike in the Smokey Mountains!

Everything is so green in Tennessee–I love it!  Kind of a young green, if you know what I mean.

We saw this deer in the middle of the stream, which seemed so unusual.  Later, when she moved, we could see that she looked pregnant?  Hormones, maybe?

These little log bridges were a bit scary!

I have a bit of an obsession with stumps.  Isn’t this beautiful, though?

And we made it to the waterfall!!

I loved that you could get right up next to the waterfall!

And photographic proof that we were there!  You know, I think these national parks underestimate their mileage by quite a bit.  It sure seemed a lot longer than 5 miles round trip to me!  But worth every single step.

Next, Sharon and I drove to Nashville to spend the day with Cammy.  What fun!  (and why is everyone TALLER and THINNER in person than I thought they were?)  Hey, nobody says to me “You’re taller and thinner than I thought you were LOL.”  I guess nobody imagined that I was 4′ 8″ and 110 pounds?  Anyway, we had another great day, and Cammy wrote all about it here, so I won’t try to improve on her report.

We went to the Opryland Hotel, which was a mammoth place, and included INDOOR waterfalls!

And gorgeous flower plantings.

It would have been just plain weird if Cammy and I had met and frozen yogurt was NOT included.  This was CiCi’s, and it was really delicious.  And much more decorated than most of the froyo places I’ve been!

I had a day to recuperate from all the festivities, and then an old friend from my spinning and knitting days drove up to meet me in Nashville.  The last time we saw each other was in 2003, when we had the great experience of co-teaching (actually I was assisting her) at a national spinner’s conference.  It was like no time had passed at all, and we had so much fun talking dogs and knitting and life.  We went to a gorgeous yarn shop, and I spent too much money, and then we went to a big mall and sat in the courtyard and knitted and talked some more.  What a great day.

And then the quilt show tour began.

If you can stand it, come back for more tomorrow!  I know I included a ton of photos, but I came home with 400 pictures on my camera, so consider yourselves lucky LOL.

Good Afternoon!

Don’t feel like doing much else right at the moment, so thought I’d write a blog.  Wow.  If I was a good writer, I would delete that sentence.  Cause basically it says DON’T READ THIS BLOG.  Oh well.  Continuing on.

I have almost completely converted to a free weights girl in the gym.  Oh I am proud of myself.  Yes, pride does goeth before a fall.  The other day I dropped a 25 pound weight and it landed on my shin.  Fortunately I guess we don’t have many nerve endings there?  Because it doesn’t hurt much, except when I touch it.  Anyway, back to the free weights.  I am almost completely over my fear of “men in the weights room.”  Yesterday I walked into the gym, and my favorite receptionist whispered “we’ve been taken over by high school children…”  Oh brother.  Sure enough, they were EVERYWHERE when I went upstairs to the weights room.  I peered into the free weights room and there were 3 or 4 little boys strutting around doing their thing.  There were weights on the bench press bar.  So I left and did a couple other things.  I went back and the same weights were on the bar, and the boys were nowhere near it, so I just went in there and said, “any of you using this (pointing at the bar,) or did someone just leave the weights on there?”  They said no, and then one of the little boys volunteered to take the weights off. Which I gladly accepted his help.  Then I put my little weights on there and went to work.  After that I used the leg press machine that they had left their weights on, and the barbell for dead lifts that they had left their weights on.  I didn’t have to change those weights.  Yeah!  I liked that workout.  70 pounds on the bench press, 85 pounds on the dead lift, and 200 pounds on the leg press.

Hey, here’s another item of interest.  (Switching to my favorite topic, food.)  Vicky was doing a special ‘detox’ diet plan this week, and I told her about the veggie cereal idea, because 1)  I think it tastes good, in spite of you nay-sayers, and 2) I thought it fit in with the kinds of food she likes to challenge people with.  She is pretty picky though, about what she will serve.  Anyway, she liked the idea, and she included it in her plan this week.  And she thought it tasted good too!  Come on, you guys, be a little adventurous!  It lasted really well in the fridge too.  The apples turn a little brown, but still tasty after about 4 days.

Along the lines of adding veggies to food, I just took a “zucchini cake” version of the one-minute muffin out of the oven.  Smells heavenly.  followed Lori’s basic applesauce version recipe, added a sprinkle of nutmeg, the shredded zucchini, and then must admit to adding about 2/3 Tbsp of agave nectar cause I wanted it a little sweeter.  I will have that for my afternoon snack, after I come back from getting my haircut.

My haircut for my trip next week!  Eeeeekkkk!  Does anybody know how I can lose 10 pounds in a week? LOL.  You know how that goes.  The minute I think about cutting back, I rebel.  NO I AM NOT GOING TO GO WITHOUT GRAINS.  Etc.  Sigh.  It is what it is.  I’ve been this same weight since before I went to Africa.  Someday the mojo will come back.  In the meantime, that is a very nice word using the letter ‘j’ for Words with Friends.

Friends.  My next topic.  I emailed another friend from my past, and we are going to meet up at the quilt show.  That means friends from a 30 year span of my life, from three different interests in my life, are going to be a part of this trip.  First up, meeting my newest friends, from my bloggy life,  Sharon and Cammy!  Of course, this will be our first time meeting in person.  Blog friends, because of what we share, seem just as close as friends IRL.  Next, I am going to meet an old friend (I’m guessing we first met in ’91) from the spinning and knitting era of my life.  Lynn is an accomplished knitter and designer, and my knitting has even been included in her books.  I am really looking forward to seeing her again and discussing all things fiber and color!  And the last friend I am going to meet is now something of a rock star in the quilt world.  But I know him from my years in raising and showing Cocker Spaniels, where I was a rock star in the dog show world LOL.  (so I showed cocker spaniels before the internets were born.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.)   Back then, neither of us were quilters.  I always did handwork of some sort.  But he really took a detour from his career in music to go full time in the quilting world.  This is really going to be a great trip!  And that doesn’t even count the wonderful quilt show I will be visiting, and all that goes with that.

Okay, back from the hairdresser.  I asked her to put layers in it, because I read somewhere that that made you look younger (lost cause.)  Anyway, I am quite layered.  We’ll see how I like it after it dries.  Should be easy to take care of anyway.

Back to my favorite topic.  My friend Wendy (of The Bridge project) has a lot of food allergies.  Coconut is not one of them.  She made an unbelievable orange cake with chocolate frosting with only coconut flour.  Well, and a lot of other stuff.  Anyway, it was quite delicious.  Here is a link to the original recipe, and here is a link to Wendy’s version.  I was surprised when I did the breakdown that it was only 140 calories per piece if you divide it into 12 pieces.  Of course, that is before icing…

Well, this is a long enough blog for now.  I have other things to do which I didn’t want to do when I started this…