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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Websites to Diet For

So, once again I decide it is time to get serious about getting healthy.  I KNOW I need to loose weight, and I KNOW I need to isn't just about what I eat.  So..about 5 weeks ago I started working out again, in earnest.  I have only missed about 5 days, and am walking 4 miles in an hour with an incline of 5-6%.  Some people love exercising, but I am NOT one of those people.  However, what I do love is that I am slowly dropping some weight and getting a shot of energy at the same time.

In the past, I've done Weight Watcher's successfully, but for whatever reason, I can't get that working again.   What I did do was take the things that worked for me, and applied them to my current efforts.  First of all, I write down everything I eat every day.  I also log all of my exercise.  I think that is called "keeping you honest" (thank you Anderson Cooper for that one).   The website that works for me and I love it (really I do) is My Fitness Pal at  It is so easy to use, and it lets you do everything all in one place.  It is easy to access and doesn't take much time.  And if you use it daily, and set appropriate goals, it lets you know where you are with regard to goals, include nutritional consumption goals (like lowering salt intake) every meal you eat.

I am also a person who loves to cook for my family and to eat good food, so the whole "drink a diet shake every meal" thing doesn't work for me either.  I needed to find sources of recipes that are GOOD and GOOD FOR YOU.  Here are my favorites: Hungry Girl, Laloosh, and Skinny Taste.  I discovered on a blog search for a healthy recipes website that included weight watcher's points for meals.  However, this site is SO much more than that.  Hungry Girl takes the recipes you love and KNOW you shouldn't eat from restaurants, and gives you a healthy, delicious alternative.  The second site, over at Gina's Skinny Recipes, also has really really tasty recipes for all occasions and that are also healthy.  She includes Weight Watcher's points as well, for those of you that are interested.  Laloosh also has great recipes that include Weight Watcher's points and have nutritional information. The thing I love about these sites is that I can cook for my family, including an 18 year old football player and a 15 year old volleyball player, and they love the food and don't even know I am leaving out the fat and calories.   Another positive point is you can sign up for their mailing list and have new recipes delivered to your mailbox.  Not a bad bit of inspiration!

So, if you are feeling motivated and don't quite know where to start, swing on over to My Fitness Pal and set up an account.  Then get active and get cooking...healthy style that is!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Trash to Treasure Patio Project

My Aunt Dianne called me one night, as she does now and then, and asked me to go to a garage sale the next day.  She confessed the reason she likes me to go, as opposed to one of her friends, is that I am interested in old junk, and not competing with her for collectible dishes.  That got a laugh  out of me for sure...nothing like honesty.  But in truth, we have a lot of fun together.  I'm not sure she understands my quirky purchases but then again, I'm not sure anyone does.

So we arrived at the garage sale and the first think I saw was this set of 6 old dirty wooden folding chairs.  I love things like this...they are just perfect for a good up-cycle.  I brought them home last Friday and they have been sitting against the house all week, waiting for me to do something.  Today, I pulled two of them into the house and painted them up in a fun green that I already had.  I LOVE them!  My dilemma though, is whether or not to paint the remaining four in the same color, or to paint two in an red-orange, and two in royal blue?  Any thoughts?

And I also think they will look great on the patio around a great big long harvest table.  But that doesn't exist yet.  I haven't told him yet, but I think I'll ask my son to build me one in his shop class this year.  Stay tuned for that picture!  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Little Miracles

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting my first grandchild.  His name is Sebastian and he is perfect.  I know all grandparents say that, but it's true.  He is perfectly handsome, perfectly sweet, perfectly beautiful in every way.  We had to drive 7 hours to visit him, and I think that road will become more well traveled now that he has entered this world.  Not because we didn't want to go before, but his parents already know us, and if we have any hope of Sebastian knowing us, it means getting in that car and going at every chance. 

Interestingly, Sebastian isn't the only miracle that I was able to witness this weekend.  Because really, I discovered that one of the most rewarding things a person can witness is their own children becoming parents.  God has this most perfect plan, this design of instant love that occurs when you look into that little person's eyes.  His plan involves total devotion and protection, and it mirrors how He loves us all.  Isn't it amazing and incomprehensible to realize that He loves us more even than we love them?  Because as any parent will attest to, we can't comprehend any more devoted love than the one we have for our children....except maybe for our grandchildren. 

I was blessed this weekend in many ways, by meeting Sebastian and loving him, by witnessing his mommy and daddy devoted to him, and by understanding that this is all part of God's design.  Look into his beautiful eyes above and you will understand.  I am a Grandma now, and I reserve the right to brag.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

Transported by Memory

I am a very visual, experiential person.  I remember weird details in things that other people may not remember because I fall in love with them, the details.  I could find places I visited 20 years ago because I memorized the place by the experience that occurred.

I love to travel, to see new views, to collect those images in my mind.  Today, I was listening to some music and it absolutely triggered Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Particularly, it triggered a rainy afternoon, arriving tired and going to my room at Spinnakers Guest House, looking out across a cloudy harbor at the boatyard, the sea planes landing and taking off, and the fire place crackling at the foot of my bed. 

For those of you who haven't visited there, let me tell you about Victoria, and our favorite little hidden place there.  Victoria is a town of about 344,615 people.  It is a pretty large town, really, but it feels quaint and small.  When you arrive by ferry, you are at the tiny little harbor and you step off to the boat docks, smelling of sea and food stands.  The sea birds are squawking overhead, and if you have food, better be prepared to defend it, as they don't wait for dropped food, but would prefer to pluck it from your hands as you attempt to shoo them away.  Large yachts are anchored in the harbor, just in front of the Fairmont Empress Resort and Hotel, famous for it's high tea and imposing structure, lit up at night and visible from anywhere in the harbor.

Spinnaker's Brew Pub and Guest House is an out of the way restaurant and room accommodations situated right on the harbor, but further away from active city center.  A biking / running trail runs right beneath it's deck, and as we enjoyed an afternoon refreshment and watched them move back and forth below.  In Victoria you understand health and fitness in a way that isn't evident in small communities in Nebraska.  The guest house sits back a building from the restaurant, and is in an old Victorian house, long ago remodeled into guest rooms. The suites include nice big soaking tubs, a fire place, reading chairs, and a great big bed to nestle down in at night.

When I arrived in January, it was raining, and that wasn't surprising, as it rains a lot there.  That didn't bother me.  I dropped my luggage and headed straight for the little gift area at the front of the restaurant, also famous for their chocolates.  Lemon thyme white chocolate truffles were calling my name.  I purchased a small bag of them, knowing I would have to indulge in more before I left the next day.  I ordered a good hot cup of coffee and a sandwich and watched the rain come down outside.  For some people, the rain may have been disappointing.  Rainy days, with a comfy place to read, some good music, and a fire going, is one of my very favorite things.

I only had a little over 24 hours in Victoria this time, so I was thrilled to wake up to sunshine the next morning, along with a basket with a coffee pot full of the best coffee and tea, cream, scones, muffins, and all kinds of locally made jams and jellies.  I broke my own rule, crawling into bed to enjoy my coffee and muffin.  And continue to read.  We took off on the biking trail, heading into the city.  The trail meanders around along the coast of the harbor for miles.  We walked all of the way around it and out onto the break point, stopping here and there for a coffee, breakfast, or just enjoy the view.

What we didn't expect was the lovely day after the rain the day before.  It was around 65 degrees, and it was January mind you, and there was green grass, some trees with leaves, and roses blooming. On our walk, we heard the history of the island, and met a man whose family was one of the original settlers on the island.  He smiled while he talked about the past, full of pride about the place he lived and could share with us.  We heard about the modern trends and concerns about how things were changing too.

People there seemed to have what we selfishly claim here in Nebraska as our welcoming and kind nature and attitude.  They have it too.  Maybe it's because it's Canada and there is a different personal drive or mindset.  Maybe we were the ones that were different but it doesn't matter because it exists when we are there, and it is almost a tangible memory now, so strong I can taste those chocolates, that coffee, or smell the sea air. The idea of place conscience struck me today, when those memories came rushing in.  Traveling anywhere, witnessing culture and scenery and smells and tastes first hand, is something to revel in.  The memories of those experiences are sustaining.  When I am no longer able to travel because my strength or age or health won't let me, I'll have those memories burned in my brain, blessings themselves, so real I can smell the coffee.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sodium Replacement Therapy

O.k.  I haven't cooked as much low sodium as I'd like, but we have been experimenting.  One of our favorite things is an experiment, but would/could be called Balsamic Chicken or Beef on  Noodles.  You can use any type of  noodle as you  like, as long as the sodium count is low (under 100 mg) per serving.  Take an onion and a package of mushrooms and saute them in olive oil until they are carmelized..about 10 minutes.  Add a 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar,  1/8 cup cooking wine or white wine, 1/8 cup no sodium chicken broth, and a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, and a teaspoon of pressed garlic.  Put that in with the mushrooms and onions, and then remove from the pan.  Add back a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, add the cubed beef or chicken, saute until medium rare, and then add mushroom and onion mixture to the meat.  If it doesn't thicken naturally, add one tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with water to the mixture and cook until thickened...serve over noodles.  There is literally hardly any added sodium...comes to around 120 mgs, and is SOOOO good.  Even if you aren't on a low sodium diet.

Balsamic vinegar and lemon juice are proving to be two really good flavor enhancers for most anything.  We made a lower carb mashed potatoes this week too,  using regular yukon gold potatoes and sweet potatoes, equal portions.  We boiled the potatoes, added a stick of unsalted butter and a tiny bit of lemon juice, milk, no sodium chicken broth, and brown sugar to the potatoes.  Sounds crazy doesn't it. But it was good.  Go easy on the lemon juice but it adds a little zing that helps replace the lack of salt.

Mom is doing well by the way, in great spirits, and trusting that God heals. 

Monday, April 1, 2013


This year has been full of trials already, and I am taking them one day at a time.  Some days better than others.  First, my son had two knee surgeries and he is only 17.  Then my husband was being treated for a liver disease that it turns out he doesn't have, only is the carrier for.  Then, the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, my healthy, hard to keep up with mom, out of the blue was diagnosed with severe congestive heart failure.  That one threw me for a loop.  It came out of no where, and literally in a matter of days she went from my mom who can't sit still, to my mom who has to sit still, have a very low sodium diet, oxygen at night mom.  Time marches on in spite of us, and we all know changes are ahead, but I'm being honest here, and I am full. I keep saying that, but the truth is, God's grace is enough in every situation, and God is blessing us with His grace, and His love, and His mercy, and His healing.  So, I am very intentionally giving this over to God, praying for my mother's healing, and doing everything God has given me the ability to do to help her.

Most importantly mom's diet.  You'd think she'd have big changes to make but in addition to not being over weight, not eating unhealthy, and being completely active, the big thing is the sodium awareness that occurs naturally in foods.  So we are all learning, trying to adjust our tastebuds, and give her good food that is very low in sodium.  I've been doing some research, and I am going to be experimenting with foods.  I am going to post our favorites, just in case you know of someone who can use that kind of lifestyle change as well.  Today I am going shopping.  What I can't find locally my dad and I will order online.  Let the cooking begin.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Writing On the Wall

So, here I am in the spring of 2013, still needing to get healthy, knowing I do, and not quite investing all of me in the effort.  Two things happened this week that spoke volumes to me about what I need to do in my life and why.  The first thing was a simple poster posted on Pinterest.  It was from Bonnie Pfiester and said, "I will beat her.  I will train harder.  I will eat cleaner.  I know her weaknesses.  I know her strengths.  I've lost to her before, but not this time.  I have the advantage because I know her well.  She is the old me. "  For some reason that struck a cord in me, more so than some things.  I am an intelligent person, and the truth is I know not being healthy is a choice.  I've also made great strides at times only to back down for one reason or another, and pretty good reasons too.  But none good enough to excuse not taking care of myself.  I have been my own worst enemy.

The second reason is a little more difficult, and much more significant event for me.  My brother called me this week to tell me we were taking my mom to the hospital ICU in a neighboring town.  She was having heart issues, pretty significant ones.  As we checked my mom in, joked along with her about her wheel chair, and cried in the hallway so she couldn't see, I understood more significantly than ever that I needed to take care of myself so I could take care of others.  You see we have a really strong family history of heart issues.  Those things are pretty easy to set aside when you are in your 20's, because your 40's and 50's seem a long way off.  I'm here now, and I'm watching my really health, active mother, who takes care of herself, be admitted to the hospital for a condition that was given to her genetically, not through any choice of her own, or even as a result of poor choices. 

I also realized, up front and personal, that if I was going to be able to help my mom over come this issue ahead of her and if I was going to have any chance to not put my kids and husband in the same situation, I have to start making some changes.  I know what I need to do.  I even go there...a little bit...  But I am committing this to writing for myself and anyone who cares to read it.  I.  WILL.  GET.  HEALTHY.  (not tomorrow, not next week..) 

Mark my words.  I have too much reason not to. 

So, interspersed with my room make overs, furniture re-dos, and other country lifestyle posts, you may get some  updates on my progress, reports on aha moments, milestones, or just struggles.  That will just keep me honest. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nautical and Dresser-to-Buffet Upcycle

I love taking something ugly and old and making it great and new again.  On our first trip to Europe, our tour guide Ann Youdan told us about the preservation laws in place for most London apartments and buildings.  You could own, but you had to remodel according to codes, keeping the original period character of buildings in tact, inside and out.  I came to find out, over time, that the same thing was true in most of Europe.

I remember thinking that was wonderful, and how in keeping that was with my own personal philosophy of most everything.  That isn't to say I don't throw things away, but just that I like to imagine the possibilities of how something that has seen better days can have a fresh new look or purpose.  And sometimes old things just beg to have new life, don't you think?  I love old houses, old furniture, old books...well you get the picture.

My mother is remodeling and has some different furniture for her bedroom.  She gave me her old chest of drawers and dresser with mirror.  It was purchased probably in the mid 70's and was that old dark veneered wood.  It wasn't in bad shape in terms of being solid and functional..but it needed a face lift.

I am so anxious to get on with my projects that I think, "aw...should have photographed" right in the middle of the project.  But I have the old headboard still waiting for a new do...and so you can see just what the other two pieces looked like before I got hold of them.  What you see below are pictures of the two finished pieces.  The nautical inspired high boy, with random blue and white striping on the top, has rope pulls.  That was the solution for abnormally wide original pull holes.  I love that.

The chest of drawers was fun because I took the three middle drawers out (you'll see those in a future post) and replaced them with pretty baskets.  I made quick liners to add a touch of color but the baskets would be fine all by themselves.  This could be a great buffet, or used as a dresser again.

The headboard is going back to my mom and will be repainted in the same colors as the other two pieces, and distressed lightly.

And you can see the antique dresser there in the midst of everything..that too will be a feature in an upcoming post.

The best part..I can be as creative as I need to be or want to be, and I can take things down to a fun little store called Sandhills Sage in Johnstown, Nebraska, where I consign some of my projects.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Better After Bar Cabinet

In January, right after taking down the Christmas decorations, I was wanting to purchase or find a large cabinet to place in a corner by our front door.  I had a piece of furniture that I was moving to a different spot, and it occurred to me a conversion might be in order.   I had seen the following cabinet, which served as my inspiration.

The following bits and pieces are what I had to work with....and these were pictures just after I got started. 

And the last picture is my finished product.

I LOVE how it turned out.  You can't tell from this picture, but there are hanging glass grids underneath of the first shelf, and there is a silver tray on the lowest shelf.  Also, there is a Goodwill purchased wine rack underneath, painted black, and a Craigslist purchased wine refrigerator.  I was going to put the doors on the bottom, but really, I like it just like it is.

My last little addition will be a pub table and two chairs...watching for a deal as we speak! Let me know what you think of my conversion!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What Is Your Perfect Gift?

I work with great people and have great conversations with them.  Even if I don’t always agree with everyone, I learn something every time we take the time to visit.  A couple of years ago, I was listening to some friends at work discuss gifts and one of the ladies was really put out that her husband bought her a vacuum cleaner (no kidding) and thought she would really love that as her Christmas gift.  I laughed and said, “Hey, I am a practical girl and if I needed a vacuum cleaner, I would love that gift.”  She thought I was crazy.  “What about diamonds?” she said. 

Now I am not going to say I don’t appreciate beautiful things like jewelry or those kinds of impractical gifts.  But in truth, I don’t wish for those things and would never be upset not to receive them. 

With that said, today my husband is on his way to Mexico today, so there won’t be any romantic meals or unexpected surprises.  And that doesn’t matter to me.  I think the greatest gift is the knowledge you are important and that you have the stability to know your love is built to last.

When I went to bed last night, there was a card lying on my pillow.  And this is what it said: 

 I love just being with you. ..I really love the times when we get away from it all and just enjoy being together-those special moments when life seems to slow down and we can talk about anything, or not talk at all, and everything just feels right.  It’s those times when I can see how much we’re meant for each other…and I realize again that no other woman could ever make me feel as contented and as happy as you do.   I love you so much.  Happy Valentines Day.

We’ve been married 22 years people, and that man knows my heart.  I cried a little last night, but they were happy tears.  God blessed me when he placed my husband in my life, and I am thankful every day.   Nope, I won’t be getting roses or diamonds today.  I won’t even get a vacuum cleaner!  I don’t need or want those things.  But that gift of knowing deep down I am loved..well I have that each and every day with him.  And that gift is priceless.  Yep, I am blessed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Who Me?

Wow.  One of blogging friends who also happens to be a former student nominated me for the Liebster Award.
Considering I just started blogging (kind of), I think this is really cool!   

This award is given to new or up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers...the award is then passed along to other bloggers in the same category to help spread the word and support one another. What to do: 1. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves. 2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you, then create 11 new questions for the bloggers you pass the award to. 3. Choose 11 new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award to and link them in your post. 4. Go back to their page and tell them about the award. 5. No tag backs.
Random Facts:
1. I love to travel!  When I am in any new place, I want to meet the locals, eat what the locals eat, and do what the locals do. It makes the experience richer to me.
2. I remember weird things about places, spaces, and travel.  Like I can remember the name of restaurant I ate in once, and the appetizer I ate while I was there.  
3.  I love the quietness of a good long drive with the radio blaring and no one else in the car so I can sing (I can't sing, that's why no one else can be in the car!).
4.I am addicted to Pinterest and reading blogs.  I love to read period.
5. I'm an idea collector and that is why I love Pinterest..the ultimate form of collecting web-based that link back to instructions and original posts. 
6. I LOVE to paint.
7. I like to make jewelry, among many other things.
8. I've had two back surgeries.
9. One of my very favorite places is Custer, South Dakota.
10. I am going to be a Grandma!!
11. I dated my hubby for 5 years before we got married.
Questions from Chores and Chandeliers:
1. What is one thing you can’t live without.  Nebraska water and maybe my computer.
2. How long have you been blogging?  A couple of years, but really only a couple of months.
3. Which blogs do you visit most?  Wow..that would be too difficult to answer with my Google Reader, but probably House of Turquoise, For the Love of Wood, and Better After are ranked right up there.
4. Do you have pets?  A cairn terrier named Reggie.
5. What is your biggest pet peeve?  People who don't tell me the truth.
6. What the last thing you bought for YOURSELF?  A scarf...I love scarves.
7. How did you find my blog (chores and chandeliers)?  Suzi was my student when she was in Junior High.  I love following what everyone is doing out there.
8. What is the last text you sent?  To my son, "I love you.  Drive careful."
9. Ever been to Nebraska? I too have always lived here. Never anywhere else.
10. what is your biggest fear?  Of being ordinary, or maybe stagnant is the word.
11. Do you have any tattoos? Nope.

Questions for Nominees:

1.  What is your favorite place?  
2.  What is your favorite project?
3.  What is the most exotic place you've traveled?
4.  How did you name your Blog?
5.  If you could do any one thing, what would it be?
6.  Best advice you were ever given?
7.  Who influenced you most and why? 
8.  If you could sit down to coffee with anyone, who would it be?
9.  Favorite quote?
10.  Favorite author or book?
11.  Favorite movie?
My Nominees:
1. Hannah:  The Rustic Chic
3. Terry:  Cherished Treasures
8. Elouis:  Jazz Lips and Tulips
10. On Crooked Creek
11. Jen:  Place Conscious

Thursday, February 7, 2013


One quality I love in people is: Honesty and Authenticity (that is two..I know)

If my house could only be furnished in one color it would definitely have to be: Skittles...not literally but full of color..can't choose one.
One luxury I cannot live without: Sandhills water and maybe my computer.

If I had to have one designer decorate my entire house with 0 input from me it would have to be: Christopher Loyd, who has my spirit of thriftiness and lots more vision.

If I had to choose coffee or tea it would be: Both!

One place I have been that I would love to go back to: Venice.

One place I am longing to visit is: 

One talent I wish I had was: Painting

I think most people would agree I am very: friendly and kind

If I could change one quality about myself it would be: to be less impatient and more tolerant and be more funny..but that's three.

One career I could see myself having would be: a writer

If food is therapy, when stressed I indulge in: anything salty

One of my favorite brands for clothing is: Michael Kors

If my life were a book, the title would be: An Enchanted Life (stolen from someone else but it's true!)

My favorite flower is: Hydrangea

I would love to have coffee and a chat session with this famous person: Carolyn Kennedy

A favorite TV show I can't miss: Greys Anatomy and Private Practice

Tuscany or Provence? Do I have to choose?

The next presidential election will be: As bad or worse than the last, no matter who wins. 

The one best thing about blogging is: finding unlikely friendships, learning about others and finding connections.

A guilty pleasure for me is: going to auctions and garage sales

My strongest quality would have to be:dedicated friend, mother, wife.

The best restaurant I have ever been to was:I couldn't tell you a favorite, but Dalhousie Castle (the in house restaurant) in Scotland, Spinnakers in Victoria B.C., or The Shelter in Tofino, B.C. 

One thing I can honestly say I love about myself is: That I am very generous and love to help others

Town or country: country hands down

One person I admire: I have to say three, my husband and my parents. Awesome in every way.

My favorite room of my house is: My family room

If I were an animal I would be

A book I would recommend to everyone would be...

Same Kind of Different as Me
If I were planning a huge family reunion, this is where I would want to have it:

One thing I wish everyone could be more of: compassionate and accepting. Oops...there I go again, I said two not one! Those two things could change our world.(this copied from the original author..couldn't have said it better myself)

In one word life is...thrilling!