Friday, June 19, 2015

Wallow and obsess...those are my superpowers.

     Here's the thing.
When my son Joey died (at the age of 20) in June of 2012, I don't know that I followed the appropriate mourning protocol. I don't know that there is any one best way of grieving. I guess we all do the best we can to get through it. 
What I did was throw myself into life and kept very, very, very busy.
I signed up for college. I took care of the rest of my family.
It went something like this: my oldest daughter had moved to another state at the age of 21 with my grand daughter. Over the 7 years that she was there, we saw each other in person maybe 5 times. And then Joey died, and maybe 3 months later, she moved home and reconnected with her ex-husband/baby daddy, and they have remarried and had another baby.
The next month, another daughter that had lived in another state left her whole life behind just like that and moved home, and immediately reconnected with an old flame. A month later, he moved here. Now they are married and have a baby. 
My son who lives in the next state over was here more than not.
At one point...ALL of those people lived with us (at the same time!) in our little bitty house. 
And then my niece and her husband and three young children moved here. 
I was going to school and doing home work and hanging out with all these people all of the time. I was very very busy and preoccupied. 
     And then last summer, I got "sick" and ended up in the hospital with Congestive Heart Failure, but what? I kept on going! I went to school and did homework and babysat my wee little grand daughter and more often than not, had 12 or 15 people for dinner! 
    I was very busy and very preoccupied. 
    Then I may have crashed and burned a little bit. 
   I took the spring semester off from college in order to catch up with myself and focus on my health.

     Back tracking just a bit, 4 years ago I saw a picture of myself and felt a deep self loathing. I had gotten SO FAT, and decided to do something about that. And so, I embarked on a mission, and actually lost 60 lbs. At one point, I was very involved with the Sparkpeople website, and motivating others was motivating to me. At the time that Joey died, I had just broken through a plateau and was at an all time low. Over the course of the following 3 years, I was very busy and preoccupied. (Have I mentioned that already?) I stopped paying attention to my eating habits, I stopped exercising regularly, and the weight started creeping back on. 

    The past 6 months have found me wallowing instead of getting myself in line.  One daughter and her husband moved to another town about 2 hours away.
     My niece and her family moved to another state. 
     I'm not going to school or doing homework. I'm not writing, which is what i'm supposed to be doing. I'm still babysitting grand baby duck. ( Both of them while school is out.)
Pretty sure I got less busy, less preoccupied, and a big black cloud landed square on top of my head! I have felt physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, and when the third anniversary of the traumatic day that changed our life forever (June 10-11...he was missing on the 10th and found on the 11th) rolled around, it just rolled over me like a massive boulder, and I just was not expecting that. It's been three years, for pete's sake! 
     ANYWHO! The point is, I have GAINED 10 lbs since I was in the hospital, and I haven't been in a good place emotionally,  and then I had a check up with my cardiologist. My BP with meds was 160/116! 
    That number sort of screamed at me, penetrating the fog, and now I have to pull myself together or (literally!) die trying! 

    I don't really want to be obsessed with what i'm eating or what my exercise habits are, but it's the only way i'm going to get anywhere! I have rejoined Sparkpeople.com (if you need some health/fitness/weight loss motivation, check it out and look me up! Vibrantval is my user name!
    This whole long blog post is just an attempt to warn whoever might be in my life in any manner that, as wearing as it can get for the general population, i'm about to be talking a lot about all that mess. Perhaps if I were a more balanced type of person, or less ADD, it could just be a side job, but no...i'm not, and immersing myself is the only way for me to stay focused! 

    So...let's hear it for losing 50 lbs by my next check up in December, and another 20 or 25 after that!  To getting my blood pressure under control and maybe just maybe ditching the meds! And to shaking the gloomies and getting on with the rest of my life!

Quackity QUUUUUUUUUACK!


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I have found the one that I love

Have you ever heard of Barbara Claypole White? I had not until very recently. She is an author, and I don't exactly remember where I came across her name. I "follow" way too many authors, some that I don't even like, for the sole purpose of finding new authors.
    Anyway, Barbara's name ended up on my "to check out" list, and just a couple of days ago, I got " An Unfinished Garden" on my laptop.
     Oh my word!!! OH MY WORD!!! This story grabbed hold of me from page one and didn't turn me loose...well, it hasn't yet. Even though I finished it last night.
When I was supposed to have gone to bed super early, because I am really exhausted lately, and I just need some SLEEP.  I don't know why I think going to bed early is the answer...I don't sleep anyway...but that was my plan. Instead, I finished this book, turned out the light at about 11:00, and still had a hard time sleeping.
    Anyway, about the story:
      I suppose it is a "romance", but definitely not your typical one, and there is SO much more to this story than romance. It's about Tilly, who is a widow and consumed with grief and guilt, and her 8 year old son Isaac. It is about James, who is a software developer or some such, but has sold his family farm, his company, and his home and retired at the age of 45 in order to move to South Carolina. He is there to participate in clinical trials for treatment of OCD.
    James is OCD! Not as in " I'm a neat freak, so I'm OCD". Not "I like to organize my cabinets" OCD. He is actually, clinically OCD, with the rituals and obsessions and all.
    Also in this story is Tilly's mother, ex-high school love who has always been buzzing in the back ground, and her best friend.
     Oh my stars and garters, this story is intense! It is about fear and courage. It's about facing demons head on. It's about helping each other do that. It's about all kinds of relationships and all kinds of love, and there is more than one way that the story could go, and the reader is not really sure which way it SHOULD go,  and the ending...wow. WOW!

    There is some strong language in here just so ya know, but its not like some books where it's in every other sentence.

    There are no sex scenes in this book! No body has sex with anyone in the course of this story! There is physical attraction. There is passion. There is the actual development of relationships. But no sex. And it was intense.

   I really have no gripes about this story.
I loved it, and I want to crawl up in it. Instead, I will move on to the next book by this author.
     *Note: There are only two, with a third coming out soon.

Okay, that is all!
Go read this book!
Quack!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Living it up




I'm on a Joy mission. Joy has been missing from my life for awhile now, and i'm over it. Determined to make the most of summer, one of my joy projects was to turn my tiny backyard into a mini tropical paradise. Because I was born for island time. Because I yearn for sun and sand and water and palm trees. If it was up to only me,  our house would be a beach house even though any beach is very very VERY far away! Thankfully, I don't live alone, so I have the privilege of taking the preferences of the other family members into consideration. 

Anyway. The back yard was a mess. The Chief was working on his garage and there was stuff everywhere. Have I mentioned that the back yard is tiny? Eventually, all the stuff found it's place, and this past week was all about the transformation. First, I painted this furniture. An old desk that has been out in the weather, and the two stools that Joey gave me shortly before his Departure From Earth. I can't just get rid of them, but there is no room for them in the house.





Tiny backyard...picnic table...grill...some junk...



Ta da! I painted the desk and the stools with exterior paint. I just happened to have a gallon of this very light blue. Back before the budget got so tight, we picked it up for a few bucks because it was a custom color and then the customer didn't want it. My sister in law, Monica, taught me to do that! I've had this gallon of paint for a couple of years, and guess what? I found a use for it! It might not be the color I would have chosen to use in my own personal mini "tropical paradise", but it works! I spray painted a couple of planters and the rusty folding chair that has been lounging out here. And, well, there is my pool! Would I rather have a real in ground pool? Why, yes, yes I would!! Desperately! But I don't have one of those and probably never will. What I do have is a $15 "family size" kiddie pool! It is only 1.5 feet deep, but it is big enough for me and the grand babies to play in...and when they go home? Oh, ya! Pool meditation! 

I have to confess that I hate bugs in the pool, and spend an inordinate amount of time skimming. 



Here is a close up of the "garden" Two of these plants are "palms"....but not. For example, the ponytail palm...it's not really a palm tree. It is more of a desert plant. But I don't care. I like it.


And on the picnic table....My sis-in-law contributed these shells, and I got a citronella candle from family dollar for three bucks. Isn't it CUTE??? I love it!

I am very pleased with my summer area! I can honestly say that it adds joy to my life! And my poor dead aloes down there? They are showing signs of revival!




Don't you love getting stuff in the mail? I do! It is very sad that actual snail mail is practically a thing of the past. Snail mail is one of those nice little things that infuses joy into my life! Another Joy project is sending snail mail.  This project got off to a slow start, because i'm not that crafty, but i'm also on a...you guessed it!...budget. Alone time is at a premium as well. Here is a sample of my efforts. Scrap book paper...cut up gift bags...card stock printer paper...a glue stick...ta da!  Inexpensive, fairly simple and quick...but fun! 
And...I don't know where my last picture went. It was a photo of the dining table set for a meal. No matter how many there are...or aren't...at meal time, meals are almost always a sit down family affair. These dishes that you can't see...I got them at a garage sale for a quarter a piece. Similar to Fiesta Ware (which I LOOOOOOOOVE), but my mom said that she saw these at Family Dollar...for a dollar! There is one each of blue, coral, sage green and yellow! Dinner plates, I mean.  I love how they look on the table. They make me happy! There are also hot pink plastic glasses from walmart...4 for a buck fifty or something like that. Just an example of how color and fun and joyful things are available without big bucks! 

And...that is all for this post I think! 
How do you infuse Joy into your life?!

Quack!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Green and growing




Do you like to grow things? 
I sure do.
I love having a big ole vegetable garden, but haven't been able to have one in some time now. 
I've had some really great ones in the past. Crazy thing is, I have no luck growing ornamental plants outdoors. Like, flowers for example. Even bulbs. I plant and plant, and it just never works out. Everything either doesn't ever grow at all, or dies. I had (had being the operative word here) two big aloe vera plants. I read that they would benefit from being outside once the danger of frost had passed. So I put them outside. Then they died. 
 I have an indoor garden instead! This is my jungle corner. It is my favorite area in my whole house. 


The huge tree like plant in the back? (Ya, I have no idea what it's called.) I started it from a tiny little cutting off of one of my sis in law's plant. 


I saw a post on Facebook about re-growing celery from a bunch purchased in the produce department. Do not mind my messy window sill and backsplash there. We had new windows put in A YEAR AGO and the inside is yet to be finished. This is my kitchen window, out of which I can see the neighbor's ladder to their pool.  
Back to the celery...I decided to give it a go and see what happened. So right there it is, in my kitchen window...the bottom off of a celery bunch.
And in this horribly lit photo, it has been growing for about a week...

Annnnd....a little longer.....and in the yellow and green pot, there are some succulents (I don't know which ones) growing from leaves that fell off of my other succulent plant. I just love it when one little ole thing turns into a bunch of other things, don't you?

And here it is as of today! It has roots and everything! So now it's time to plant it in some dirt, if I ever get around to that. I have no idea how long it will take to make new celery stalks. but I will be interested to see! I have another bunch of celery in the fridge waiting to be in some salads and stir frys and whatnot, and i'm going to regrow that one, as well. I just won't put them outside. 

I have a sweet potato vine started, too. It is taking it's sweet time but it finally has some roots. 
Speaking of growing things, here is grandbaby duck #2, running back and forth down the sidewalk. This little girl is something else! It is finally warm enough to utilize the wading pool (1.5 ft deep) on the days that it isn't raining, but at first she wanted nothing to do with it! I finally coaxed her in, and now she doesn't want to get out...ever! I guess there are worse things than an afternoon in the pool! (I babysit her 5 days a week.)

Baby Duck #3 and baby Roscoe were here for a visit this passed weekend. It was so great, and there is supposed to be a picture of Roscoe in this post, but I don't know where it is. I figured out how to post pictures to my blog from my phone, so I do that and then publish it. After that, I get on my laptop and edit the post with text, and it seems that transactions sometimes go awry. 
(I totally just had to google how to spell awry.) 

If you were wondering if the celery trick that you saw on FB or Pinterest really works, now you know! It does! Go forth and grow new celery!

Quack!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

lopsided layers

So. I recently read a blog post about successfully blogging. Apparently, one must pick a subject and blog about that thing. For example, there are health and fitness blogs, food blogs, book blogs, diy blogs, etc etc etc. 

But lets talk about Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, for a minute. I'm kind of a fan girl, to be honest, and I was following her blog before she got all super famous. But see...She doesn't blog about just one thing. She has food posts, and homeschooling post and gardening posts and ranch post and all kinds of posts! And she wrote an excellent book about the beginning of her life with Marlboro Man, and she has a cooking show, and cook books....

Not that I ever set out to have a "successful" blog. Or that I in any way compare to Ree Drummond. I mean...she is energetic and talented and funny, and she seems to be a genuinely nice person. Also, she has an interesting life on the ranch. Also maybe she has technological skills. 


I do, however, write about a variety of topics. This is a health and fitness food book random rant blog.  This is a blog for the untalented, uncrafty and undomestic but wish they were and keep trying.  Or, the untalented, uncrafty and undomestic who don't actually care, but want to make a layer cake on occasion.  For those who are on the ADD side of center instead of the OCD. Or, the talented and crafty and domestic who just want to laugh at somebody. Or whoever.

Today's post happens to be about food. So today it is a food blog. 
Actually, cake. This post is about cake. I saw a recipe on Facebook for an old fashioned butter cake. Now, I am 50 years old, raised 5 baby ducks, and have been feeding them for about 31 years. But I have never made a layer cake.  It just seemed so intimidating. My mom has made some beautiful ones over the years, and just watching her perfectly shave that dome off of the top...well, it just scares me. 

One time, I decided to trim Baby Duck 3's hair. It was about hip length when I started, and shoulder length when I was done. Because it was lopsided, and I kept trying to make it straight. Do you see where I am going with this? If I tried to shave a cake straight, I would end up with no cake, so I never even tried. 
Until yesterday. I just decided that I was by gum going to do it. 
So I did. Using the old fashioned butter cake recipe. 

Ha! There are crumbs on the table! I didn't even notice until right now! So that is the final result, and the thing got eaten. I must tell you, though, that the recipe did not meet my expectations. It is supposedly a one hundred year old recipe...when I told the Chief this, he said "It tastes a hundred years old." Bahahahahahahhaha! But seriously, the texture was weird and it wasn't really moist and delicious. The frosting was yummy, but it is pretty much the same chocolate butter cream that I have been making for years. Now, the reason the first photo is of a half eaten cake is because I am not technologically accomplished, and I was switching between my phone and laptop, and, well...that's just how it is. I also don't know why my text is not aligned on the left. 


The first problem I had in making this layer cake was pans. I don't actually have two round cake pans. Well, I do, but not the same size. I have three sizes of spring form pans that I have never used, a bunt pan, two angel food cake pans, about a dozen cookie sheets, a bunch of pie pans, and 4 13 by whatever cake pans, but the only round cake pans I have are the ones that I bought for baby duck 3's baby shower. There are about 5 of them, in graduating sizes, for a tiered cake. Baby duck 1 had left a round cake pan here, and so I picked the one from the tiered set that was closest to the same size, and ta da. There ya go. One was slightly bigger than the other. Both layers slope to the right. I don't know why. Probably the stove is not level??  I did not trim the tops. I did try to align the slopes. Anyway...I put a lot of frosting on and you couldn't even tell. 
OR maybe you can.  Also, I didn't have a cake plate to put it on, so that is a regular ole dinner plate and I kind of made a mess with the frosting. 

There you have it, my first attempt at a layer cake. I want to try again, but with a recipe that actually tastes good. I might even get a couple of same sized round cake pans. And maybe a cake 
plate. Except the budget is still squeaky tight, so maybe not. Maybe my next layer cake will still be odd sized, lopsided, and messily plopped on a dinner plate. But I hope that it tastes good!

The moral of this story is: make layer cakes even if they are imperfect and a little messy. 

Quack!!

Friday, May 1, 2015

I'm a fatty and I know it (but I work out sometimes).

Phone blogging! I guess we will find out together how this is going to work! Bet it will be a shirt post...No, not a shirt post, a short one! Sorry, I'm all thumbs right now! I attached some photos, but I don't currently know where they are, and therefore can't caption them.

The first is my dining room...it was dark red and now it is sage green, and I love it so much, and I wish I would have taken before and after.

Next is me and my oldest grandchild. We participated in a local 5k together, and it was super fun! I love that kid! I have two more 5k's lined up in June, and one in October!

The third is a pic of my second daughter, her hubby and my only grandson, Roscoe. They were here for Easter weekend. We made some memories!

Lastly, this is my scale. I gave it a makeover. I have launched a personal "Project Joy" in which I am no longer just enduring and powering through, But am experiencing actual joy in my life. This whole weighing and getting healthy thing has heretofore been dreary and depressing and painful, and I have decided that it is now going to be a joyful dance to my best self. So I painted my scale so that I would smile when I face it. It works, just so ya know.

If my pics don't show up, I hope you have a good imagination! The scale is an oceany blue with a sailboat on the bottom right corner, and a big fat sun on the top left.

And now for today's actual post subject...
I'm just going to go ahead and say it.
I'm fat.
Its not a secret.
At this point, there is no hiding it.
Its not that I'm a reasonable weight and just think I'm fat, like when I was in high school.
I'm actually fat now.
So what is so wrong in saying so?
Seems like there is a movement in the weight loss community where the word fat is a bad word. Curvy, full figured, plus size...
It all means the same.
Fat.
In many cases...but not all...definitely in mine...being this fat does indicate a certain lack of self discipline.
But so what?!
I'm not an Axe murderer, or a child abuser. Most people seem to like me well enough.
For the fat shamers out there...there are all kinds of human weaknesses...not being fat does not make you a fabulous person, or not. It just means you have different weaknesses.
So I like brownies and I would rather read or make greeting cards or chit chat with a friend over coffee than work out.
I am genetically dispositioned towards weight gain to start with, and yes that is a thing. Case in point: I birthed 5 kids. Three if them were (are!) skinny little things and two of them were chunkier. Served the same meals, raised in the same atmosphere.
Some medical conditions and some medications cause weight gain as well.
Having said all of that, I'm well aware that my fatness is causing health issues.
Even if I were to get back to ideal weight, I won't have a perfect body or be a head turner, but I will feel better and improve my heart/bp issues.
Sorry, that was for the fatty haters...I saw this subject discussed on Dr. Oz (just a short clip on YouTube, I've ditched the TV habit...didn't take long to get tired of all that mess, and I'm having the cable turned off for the sake of saving the budget) and got a bee in my bonnet.
Back to the subject: I don't  understand the avoidance of the word fat. It is what it is, and I already know that I am.
Clearly, though, I desperately need to change that. And so, here I go on my joyful dance towards good health!

Did I mention that I recently turned 50? It was sort of anticlimactic. So here I am, half a century old.

And I'm pretty sure I'm done now!
So I'm now going to post this and see if my pics show up!

Quack! (oops I'm.missing a pic)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sprung Spring

     I wish that decorating my home was one of my strengths, but it's not. To be truthful, I can't even hang pictures because they won't be straight, or I will have 50 new holes in the wall because I didn't get it right. Also, i'm not that crafty. In fact, domestic stuff in general bores me to tears, and also, not very good at it, which makes me wonder what I AM good at and why didn't I do that, make an income, and hire people to do this stuff for me since NO ONE WANTS TO HELP ME.  I truly admire other peoples pleasingly appointed homes. There are several in my own family that have a knack for it. I don't know why they won't help me. All I ask is to keep my books and my plants, and to not spend a billion dollars.
    I'm thinking about this at the moment because it is spring. I haven't cared much all winter while in hibernation mode. Give me cookies and a book and i'm all good. But now the sun is shining and the weather is mild, and i've been out for some walks, and suddenly my house feels musty and clutter-y and suffocating and I am in full spring cleaning mode. That means that I got up this morning, got a wild hair, and started throwing stuff around, and now I have a big pile of junk that I don't know what to do with, and it is still pretty ho hum up in here. I'm still in my jamies at 1:26 in the afternoon. And all I really did was straighten up some bookshelves. You know, i've seen in some homes and online interestingly decorated book shelves. But I don't know what to put on mine to make them all pleasing to the eye, and also they are mostly filled up with BOOKS, and that is only maybe 1/4 of my book ownership. I need more bookshelves to put books on. Actually, I need a whole room of bookshelves filled with my books. So where am I supposed to put pictures and doo dads and stuff, and why don't I have pretty picture frames to put the pictures in to put somewhere instead of a drawer full of pictures that I fully intend to frame and put somewhere?
      Woe is me.

     Speaking of books, who has read any good ones lately?
     No romance novels.
     Nothing bittersweet, heart wrenching, or tear jerking.
     Nothing creepy or scary or morbid or sordid.
     Nothing with a sad or anti climatic ending.
     Maybe something with a heroine who is actually likable, interesting, courageous, independent, without being annoyingly pig headed and ridiculous...and possibly with a triumphant ending?
     Anybody? Anything?
     Has anybody read any of Cecilia Ahern's books, besides PS I Love You?
     I think I will read some YA's. But I hope to get ahold of some that are NOT littered with cursing and adult situations. I might need more Harry Potter.
     Speaking of Harry Potter, I really need a new set of them in hardback. Mine are pretty worn out, and a new set would be more attractive in my book filled bookcases.

     There is nothing about having my heart shredded that is of entertainment value to me.
     There is nothing interesting or romantic about going about my day, just another normal unremarkable day, and then getting that phone call that changes everything in just a few uttered words.  "I have bad news..." "I don't really want to tell you this, but..." " Oh my gosh, did you hear..." "ma'am, there is a body in that lake and you need to prepare for the worst"
     That happened to me again yesterday. Audrey and I had had a lovely walk that morning. The weather was just beautiful. The other girls had a half day at school because spring break has started, and that's always wonderful! After my daughter picked up her girls, and I was home alone with a quiet peaceful Friday evening stretching before me when I got the call. Just a little earlier, I had seen a post on Facebook that said "Biker down in Roswell, check your friends" and had immediately thought of my kin back "home" who ride, not really thinking that it would be one of them. But it was.  Our nephew (on the hub's side), cousin to my kids, son to my beloved sister- and brother-in-law. Horrible, horrible accident all dramatic and traumatic, and now another set of parents have joined the "Grieving Parents Club", another mama is burying a baby, and three children are without their father.  He has brothers and aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandma and a billion friends...all who's lives changed just. like. that.
     And he was one of Joey's pall bearers.
     And i'm so sad!
     For his parents and immediate family and his children.
     For all his extended family and friends.
     For The Chief.
     For me. I love that kid! He always made me laugh!
     For every mother who has lost one of her babies.
     Of which there is a startling number....

     Life is bittersweet and heart wrenching and tear jerking. These are not the more interesting aspects of living. Certainly not ones that I want to read about for escape and entertainment! Key word here: ESCAPE!!!

    I was already having a struggle with any of my kids (even though they are grown) going anywhere and doing anything, and not suffocating Last Baby Duck with overprotectiveness...

     Bleh.

    Moving right along:

     Okay! I'm going to work on spring cleaning some more!
     Happy weekend!
     Quack!