“No rest for the wicked”

I’ve been in church for many years now, and never heard this cliche’…but while growing up in an “unchurched” household I heard my step-dad quote this often. I never really knew what it referred to or what it meant until I looked it up today. It has biblical roots!! My step-dad always quoted it when we were BUSY or when LIFE seemed HECTIC. But, I never knew until today that it was in reference to HELL and the torment that we would suffer there! Hmmmmmm….the reason I found this so interesting was because my step-dad was not a church going man or what I would consider to be religious or spiritual in ANY WAY! So what does this have to do with my post today, you might ask?

Well, I guess the only thing it has to do with it – is that I’ve been extremely busy and have not been able to meet my weekly goal of posting to my blog like I promised. Therefore, I was going to say (as my step-dad often said, when busy)…there’s been “no rest for the wicked”…but I don’t like confessing that over myself or claiming to be wicked…since I really consider myself “too blessed to be stressed”…Yeah, I like that one better!

It’s been crazy! I’m having a good month. There’s something to be said for having a little downtime (as I did in December) to plan your goals for the New Year and to figure out how you want to do things differently from the past.

1) First, of course (as with most) it began with some healthy lifestyle goals: Gym 2014 me

I don’t take “selfies” so all you get is a shot of my knees working out! But, it’s been challenging to say the least! I posted about my first week of success on Jan. 10th. You can read about it here: http://dancingthruyears.com/2015/01/10/weight-loss-myths-other-misc-mumbo-jumbo/

My second week didn’t go as well. I maintained, but didn’t lose anything. After some reflection and introspection I realized that although my morning workout routine was consistent and improving, my eating, food planning, low fat cooking, etc needed some tweaking! Probably my biggest challenge is that I enjoy eating out and often don’t make wise choices when I do. I also have a hubby that doesn’t eat healthy and rarely wants to eat chicken or fish, so if I’m going to eat healthy it means I fix two meals (one for him and one for me). So, my third week was better with a loss of 2.8 lbs. I have to stay on top of things or I just gain and lose the same 5 or 10 lbs. over and over again. Ugh!

So in week three I made a big pot of 5 ingredient soup: Simple, fast, and high in protein & fiber….5 ingredeient soup

If you are watching your intake of sodium, it might not be the best recipe (all canned stuff), but could easily be adapted using fresh or frozen ingredients: 1 can of chili beans, 1 can of black beans, (drained & rinsed), 1 can of corn, 1 can fat free chicken broth, 1 can diced tomatoes. It can easily be doubled or tripled if you plan to eat on it all week, like I sometimes do. You can also use fat free refried beans, if you want it to be thicker, or creamed corn if you want it to be a bit sweeter. Regardless, it is about 4 WW points per 1 cup serving and it is very tasty!

2) Then, my daytime activity of taking care of Grandson, Jackson returned January 5th. He’s such a little stinker! Love my little “ginger”!! Jackson standing When he leaves at 5:00 as much as I would love to get in my chair and relax …my evening activities begin.

3) After fixing a bite of something to eat for hubby and I, I retire to my sewing room to fill any orders that may have come in through Etsy or Ebay..

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I don’t know if these links will work. Just in case they don’t, you can find my shop on Etsy as LindasLikes or on eBay as bittygirl51. I got a surge of cord cover orders over the last two weeks. I am running a special: Purchase four cord covers: the fifth is FREE. I already offer FREE SHIPPING, so I’m still the most inexpensive place to get your cord covers. I was about to go bonkers making cord covers (about 35-40) dark brown cc closeup when I got my first two baby pillow quilt orders: They were shipped just yesterday and are still two of my best sellers: Baby Owl PQ w yellow closeup

Hot pink, zebra, eyelet PQ close up

4) In addition to all the household activities, I’ve been busy with church festivities. We have an awesome church family and love our brothers and sisters in Christ so much! What’s been extra special for me is that for 17 years I’ve sat alone in church (hubby was the sound technician), but since the 1st of the year I’ve been able to sit with my hubby. After 32 years of running the sound he has finally retired and passed the baton to a younger man. We still go to church early for choir practice each Sunday morning and afternoon, so Sundays are extremely full and busy, but it’s been nice to be a “couple” for the first time since we got married! In fact, one of our older saints in the church said, “I’m glad to see yall’ finally got married”…the other day! Ha! Ornament exchange 6 We had a Christmas ornament exchange in December that was a lot of fun.

In closing, I’m all caught up on my “paid sewing”…just have a pillow quilt to finish today for a friend at church who is expecting a grandchild in 11 days. Hubby is fishing this morning with the baby son (Jackson’s daddy) but later is taking me out for my birthday dinner at Red Lobster. I will also be having a piece (just one piece) of birthday cake. Yum! Can’t wait! Cake is my cocaine and I’ve been waiting all month for my birthday to arrive just so I could have cake! LOL. Hubby decided we would celebrate early (my birthday is Wednesday) – no complaints from this girl…that just means I get cake four days earlier then expected! LOL

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Weight loss myths & other misc. mumbo jumbo

If you haven’t already read my previous post, you may want to make a trip there before reading this one: http://dancingthruyears.com/2015/01/02/a-combination-of-factors-aka-what-a-lack-of-monitoring-will-do/

Suffice it to say it’s been a good week! My first week back at embracing a healthy (not perfect) lifestyle has rewarded me with a 4.4 lb. weight loss! Yay, Me!! I’ve proven once again that taking care of grandsons, having a work from home job, eating out 2-3 times a week, having a hubby that won’t eat healthy (even though he needs to), having too many sedentary hobbies blah, blah, blah are all EXCUSES! When a person makes up their mind to eat healthy and become more fit – they can! Plain and simple! We want to make dieting so complicated! (I don’t even like using the word “diet” but it’s everywhere go nowadays, so I’ll use it.) That’s why you see so many diet plans out there! Some folks are so convinced that you should go “low carb”. Others think you should go “low fat”. Others say you need to banish all the white from your life, white bread, white rice, white potatoes etc;

As a former Weight Watchers leader I can tell you first hand that the majority of your success will not come from the weight loss plan you are on (I couldn’t really say that when I worked for them); but it will come from your determination to do the work!! How bad do you want it? Let’s just talk about this week: do you want to lose weight bad enough in this next 7 days to make better food choices and to go to the gym and work out each day? Take it one day at a time!! After you have one successful day under your belt (if you are choosing wisely), you will say to yourself, “hmmmm, that wasn’t so bad”. “I think I might be able to do that again tomorrow”. But you have to have a plan! You have to be prepared! Your frig and pantry has to be stocked with good healthy foods. If all you have in the house is cakes, cookies, pies and chips guess what you will eat?

But, I digress…remember the opinions expressed in this post are purely my own – take em or leave em, but I admit I do feel very strongly about them ūüôā

Weight loss myth #1) You can gain weight from diet colas!! I laughed so hard when I first heard some one say “she’s gaining weight because she’s drinking too much diet coke” that I almost wet my pants! Diet coke does not have any calories! If you aren’t consuming calories you aren’t going to gain weight from it! She meant it in the LITERAL SENSE… Let me clarify: Yes, diet colas & the artificial sweeteners in them, can cause you to crave other sweet things, thus you eat those other sweet things and gain weight – that I will agree with. But it’s the other things, not the diet coke per say that is causing the weight gain! That’s why I decided in the new year, to cut back on diet coke and limit myself to one small glass per day. (I really think it helped, because I wasn’t craving refined sugar like I normally do.) Sugar free gum can create the same cravings.

Weight loss myth #2) You won’t lose weight if you are a late night snacker or eat after 7 pm, 8 pm or some other designated time. It has absolutely nothing to do with what time you eat! It has to do with how many calories you are consuming and how many you are burning each day. You’ve got to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight – it’s that simple! Thursday night (day seven of my first week) I was eating tortilla chips and Salsa at 9:30 pm. I was hungry for a little snack before bed (I went to bed at 10 pm). The scale still said I’d lost 4.4 at 6:30 am Friday morning. What’s up with that? Oh, and by the way, those were FULL FAT corn chips (not baked, or fat free)…for those of you who think everything needs to be fat free or low fat. (It’s good to watch your fat intake, but your body needs some fat for energy and other body functions).

Weight loss myth #3) Muscle weighs more than fat. Not true! While at the gym this morning I had this conversation with my friend, Maria. We were working out on the weights and she had been told and was worried about “bulking up”. Don’t take it from me, instead hear it from a trainer that works for Weight Watchers: “Muscle does not weigh more than fat, any more than lead weighs more than feathers. A pound is a pound is a pound. Where the misunderstanding often comes in is that muscle is much more dense than fat, so that, by volume, it seems to weigh more. That is, a pound of muscle occupies less space than a pound of fat. In addition, because a pound of muscle burns more fat than a pound of fat, even at rest, by increasing your lean muscle tissue mass, you’re helping your body burn more calories.

If you only have a small amount of weight to lose, then you may feel like the weight training is not helping you move down on the scale. In fact, the number may even go up, but you will look thinner. This is due to an increase in lean body mass (muscle, bone, blood volume) and a decrease in body fat. In other words, even if the scale doesn’t change much, you will probably see a difference in how your clothes fit.

On the other hand, if you have a lot of weight to lose, you will also experience an increase in lean body mass and loss of body fat. But the results on the scale will probably be more dramatic.” William R. Sukala M.S. C.S.

I hope I don’t sound like I’m preaching. That’s not my intention. But, that being said, the best job I ever had that I enjoyed the most was working for Weight Watchers! After losing 55 lbs on their program I was a believer! Don’t misunderstand me! I’m not promoting Weight Watchers in this blog although it is a good program, it’s not for everyone. And their “points system” can be highly misunderstood and misinterpreted! It’s not all about points! It’s about making healthy, wise choices.

Some of the healthy habits that I developed as a result of being a WW leader were to choose 1) whole wheat bread over white bread 2) brown rice over white rice 3) limit my intake of saturated fats 4) drinks 4-5 16 oz bottles of water per day 5) eat sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes 6) hold myself accountable by writing down everything I put in my mouth 7) limit my intake of red meat BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…

There are so many more that come to mind but of those listed when I “backslid” during the holidays the only thing I was still doing faithfully was drinking plenty of water! LOL

So, in closing I’d like to leave you with a healthy meat sauce recipe I made yesterday. I was in the mood for some pasta and garlic toast and so here’s what I made:

Meat Sauce:

Brown one pound of ground turkey or 93% lean ground beef in skillet. Add 1 cup of shredded carrots to meat. IMG_20150109_105006212

Dice about 1/2 an onion and add it to skillet as well, continuing to saute with meat. (I always season my meat, but that’s just personal preference). IMG_20150109_105350499

While pasta is cooking in a separate pot, I add 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes and 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce to the meat mixture in skillet. I season with some sweet basil, oregano, garlic powder etc; You can use, fresh or dried. Turn heat to low and & cover. Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes so all your flavors will blend together. The shredded carrots give you a serving of vegetables and sweetens your sauce without using sugar. IMG_20150109_111259916

I chose whole wheat Ziti for the pasta. Remember, portion control is crucial! Look up the portion size, calories or points you can have prior to serving yourself! I made a nice fresh lettuce salad to go with my pasta & meat sauce and chose fat free Ranch dressing for my salad. If pasta and meat sauce is a RED LIGHT food for you, it’s better not to fix it at all!! Red Light means you can’t exercise portion control!! And, yes – I made garlic toast with REAL white french bread and used 1 T. of Land o Lakes light butter. I season my garlic toast with garlic powder, garlic salt and a pinch of grated Parmesan cheese. I only made myself one slice therefore I wasn’t tempted to eat more. (Hubby had 5 slices made with REAL BUTTER!!)

I have a very healthy appetite and can put away a lot of food especially Italian food! So, I was quite proud of myself for having measured out my pasta and meat sauce and adding the salad and 1 slice of garlic toast. I felt empowered and satisfied! That is key! It’s not about deprivation or starvation and if you are hungry or feeling deprived you are doing something wrong.

I am entering a new week with new hope and determination and trying to stay focused on treating myself as a priority. That’s also why I have to make it to the gym first thing in the morning because the rest of the day I am sitting on the floor playing with this little one IMG_20150106_102504002

or in the evening sitting at the sewing machine working on cord covers, pillow shams and quilts…Baby Zoo animals PQ closeup

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Pinks PQ close up front

Make it a great week, friends!

A landmark month…

I don’t like admitting it, but I really don’t like the month of December. Oh, when my kids were young I really got into the whole Christmas thing…the shopping, the decorating, the baking etc; In fact, I’m sure that’s where my kids get their love of Christmas from. They’ve shared with me on more than one occasion their fond memories of Christmas celebrations past. They, all three, have carried on the tradition of decorating their homes inside and out, having tons of presents under the tree, the ornament collection, the belief in Santa Claus, the holiday baking with goodie trays given to their friends and family members etc;

But that being said, December has become a bit of a “blue month” for me. I’m not one to focus on the negative nor to wallow in self-pity but I admit I do struggle in December.

#1) 18 years ago today, I lost my dad. Yep, you got it right…my “dad” died on Christmas eve. He was my step-dad, but he was the only dad I’d known since I was five years old. You’d think I’d be over his loss, but I hadn’t spent any real quality time with him for several years prior to his passing due to events far to lengthy to explain in this post. Suffice it to say, the longer he’s gone the more the good memories come to the forefront and the easier it is to forget the bad. I miss those good times we had!

#2) Too many miles & tight finances separate me from two of my three grown children – and the holidays are always so much better when you can be with family. Needless to say, we will not be together for Christmas this year. The upside is that we did get to spend Thanksgiving together (Two of my three and two of my hubby’s four were here)…which made for a joyful entry into this “blue December”.

#3) 1 year ago on the 18th of December my grown son and I had a “falling out”. I know..life’s too short. I will spare you the details but just know I pray about the situation daily and am trusting that the Lord will work it out. This situation has added to my “blue mood” this year.

#4) As I hard as I try to be supportive to my hubby at this time of the year – he also lost his dad (whom I never met) 22 years ago in December. It is sometimes difficult to comfort someone you love who is suffering when you also are suffering grief and despair!! Of course, many of you already know that it was just last year (2013) that my mother-in-law and brother-in-law passed away. Fortunately, not in the month of December, but my husband has had an unusually difficult time this year more so than last year for some reason.

So, as I was praying and pondering all the sad moments and talking to my Savior, He reminded me of some good times I’d experienced in December. The one that stands out the most in my mind was 5 years ago December 16th.

#5) My oldest brother, Jim was released from prison after being incarcerated 32 years for a crime he didn’t commit!! Just three months earlier I had plead Jim’s case before the parole board in Michigan and it was with cautious optimism that we awaited their decision. Our baby brother, John and I took a trip to Michigan to pick Jim up and take him home to North Dakota to be with our mom. It was an awesome trip and the very first time we three siblings had EVER been together!! We took our time traveling by car from Michigan to North Dakota and shared many meals, laughs etc; It was fun to watch Jim’s reaction to the world around him as a free man. His niece (my daughter) had me give him his first cell phone so he could call her and say “hello” as a free man. Once we arrived at mom’s home it was a tearful reunion. Jim, John, and I walked and drove thru neighborhoods enjoying all the cheery Christmas light displays. We went shopping and got Jim outfitted with some clothes, groceries he preferred etc; The last few days leading up to Christmas after John had returned home to Florida, Jim and I spent getting him signed up for any services he qualified for and going to the Parole office.

The best part of the whole story is that Jim is truly a FREE MAN today. He has been home for 5 years now. He has his own place, his own transportation, a cute little mutt named Irish that is truly his baby and no longer has to report to a parole officer!! He is truly a FREE MAN and has made me very proud. I always believed (as he promised) that he would do things right “if” he ever got out and he has done so!

I’m choosing today to remember those good memories from 5 years ago rather than the sad ones of 18 years ago. Mom is 90 years old and still ticking. Jim and Irish are doing great. I have two daughters and many grandchildren that love me. I have a husband that would walk through fire to save me. And I have a church family and a Lord that think I’m pretty special too! What do I have to be blue about?

When I woke up this morning with a sad 19 yr. old memory on my mind…I said a prayer of gratitude, put oldies on the radio and sat down at my sewing machine. It was a very therapeutic time to say the least! Now, I’m looking forward to leaving on a little R & R trip with my hubby on Saturday. We will spend Sat. evening with 3 grandsons and family in the Austin area and then it’s off to Kerrville, Texas for a little sight seeing, antiquing, etc; We return to ring in the New Year with our church family.

Holiday blessings my blogging buddies! May you and yours have a glorious Christmas and New Year!

A bird’s eye view of Wichita Falls, Tx

I am currently grandkitty sitting in Wichita Falls, Tx while my daughter and son-in-law enjoy a little downtime at their cabin in the New Mexico mountains.

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Samantha is such a sweet girl and no trouble to take care of. She sleeps most of the day and entertains herself a lot, but when she wants to be brushed, given a treat etc; she meows sweetly until I comply.

Hubby and I are enjoying the break from taking care of grandsons and have been pretty lazy while here. While he’s been watching Fox News I’ve been taking advantage of not being chained to my sewing machine and enjoying
some other activities that I’ve not had time for. I’ve updated my eBay page http://www.ebay.com/usr/bittygirl51, updated my Etsy page https://www.etsy.com/shop/LindasLikes?ref=hdr_shop_menu, viewed some of the Cratsy classes I’ve signed up for http://www.craftsy.com/quilting?_ct=wberqbdql-sqjuweho&_ctp=quilting and spent some time practicing hand embroidery stitches for the Crazy Quilt that I plan to make for myself.

In addition to the above I’ve enjoyed exploring the neighborhood here…IMG_20141009_090150982

going for morning walks…
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There are some beautiful homes in the neighborhood!! The first morning I walked I was worried I’d get lost so after I had walked for about 30 min. I started my GPS on my phone to find my way back home…thinking that I would still get my 1 hour walk in…LOL..NADA! I must have walked in a complete circle because I was just around the corner from the house and was home in about 5 minutes!!

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So the next day I went the opposite direction…didn’t turn as many times…hoping that I would get farther away from the house…(I like to walk at least 3 miles or an hour) and I waited until I had walked about 40 min. before I turned my GPS on…

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and I was still only 8 minutes away from the house and had only walked 2.3 miles! Geez! But I saw a ton of geese at the park..and of course there were plenty of signs of the season..

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After my walk yesterday, hubby and I went out and about…we ate breakfast at Cracker Barrel, checked out an Antique Mall in a town about 15 miles from here http://www.antiquemalls.com/stores/13435.aspx

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Great place! Off the beaten path and reasonable prices! Then we went to Hobby Lobby so I could pick up some fabric and a few craft supplies while hubby browsed in Hastings. Since we’d had a Cracker Barrel breakfast we decided to go the the movie and then eat a late lunch…so we went to the 12:40 matinee of “The Judge”…I highly recommend. It was right up my alley. I love “dysfunctional family” “relationship” type movies..and it was excellent.

We made a stop back at the house to check on kitty and then went to Red Lobster for dinner. Two more stops and Hancock’s and Michael’s and we back at the house in plenty of time to watch Shark Tank. Love that show!

Today it’s off to do a little more antiquing and out for a burger…

Our lil’ ginger punkin’s naps are getting shorter!!

In an effort to give poor little Jackson a longer nap, I spent a lot of time singing to him and rocking him this week!  Rock a Bye Baby, Jesus Loves Me, & You are My Sunshine are his favorites.

A sleeping Jackson

A sleeping Jackson

The poor little tyke does not like taking naps in the daytime! ¬†He is an excellent sleeper at nighttime. ¬†In fact mommy and daddy have a hard time keeping him up until 8 pm most nights…cause he’s ready for bed! ¬†He usually sleeps until 5:30 or 6 am…sometimes longer! ¬†But he is sure breaking Maw Maw & Paw Paw in during the day! ¬†I think he’s afraid he’s gonna miss something!

Curious JacksonHe’s very CURIOUS….

An exploring Jackson 2

and he loves exploring the house and seeing what he can get into. ¬†He’s learned to pull on the knobs of the entertainment center and open the doors and drawers. ¬†He’s also discovered that if he closes it on those same little fingers that it hurts!! ¬†ūüôā ¬†When he gets a hold of the bottom drawer and pulls it open (it’s heavy because it’s full of CD’s) he starts pulling himself up so he can peer in it to see what’s inside! ¬†Paw Paw and I spend a lot of time throughout the day grabbing him by the ankles and pulling him back away from the entertainment center to try and divert his attention to all the toys. ¬†LOL

Jackson exploring 2He’s learned that loud sounds comes from that big black box, and that if no one sees him right away, he can crawl back in that corner next to the sofa and make that pretty lamp that sits on a pedestal end table WIGGLE and almost fall down!! “I’m not doing nothing, Maw Maw…I’m just looking around.”

014062695115327He’s such a happy, smiley boy and loves to go for rides in the stroller. ¬†Maw Maw definately gets ¬†her exercise when Jackson’s around. ¬†I go for an early morning 3.5 mile walk with friends before he arrives, and then we usually go for another 2 mile walk with the stroller at some point during the day. ¬†I’m thankful for the cooler temperatures. ¬†(Now it’s only 80 during the day instead of 100).

2014072295135712Jackson loves his puppy…

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Loves going to the park and swinging (if those darn mosquitos would leave him alone!)

Jackson floor play 3

Loves playing on the floor and reaching up at things. ¬†He’s not trying to pull himself up yet, but he is trying to crawl.

Jackson learning to crawl

He gets around real good by scooting, but when he tries to crawl he gets up on all four and rocks back and forth. ¬†He’s also discovered that if he crawls into the entry way where there is NO CARPET, that if he rolls over he will bonk his little head! OUCH!

Jackson sippy cup 2

At 8 months old he’s eating three meals a day now, in addition to his bottles, but he also loves his little sippy cup! ¬†He’s a good eater and Maw Maw loves feeding her little man! ¬†Now, if he would just take a nap! ¬†He is the exact opposite of his cousin, Kash. ¬†3 yr. old Kash takes a good 2-3 hr. nap in the afternoon. ¬†It used to be a nice break for me, when I wasn’t taking care of Jackson. ¬†I’m afraid the days of Maw Maw getting a nap are long gone! ¬†When Jackson first returned to us in late August he would take 30 min nap twice a day. ¬†Now he’s down to about 10 min. 2-3 times a day. ¬†By the time mommy arrives to pick him up at 4:30 he’s exhausted!

Needless to say we are looking forward to our little trip we will be taking to Wichita Falls, TX this next week.  We leave on Wed for some Grandkitty sitting and will return the following Tuesday.  Instead of tending to two grandsons we will be tending to one female feline named Samantha while her mommy and daddy get a little downtime in the New Mexico mountains.

Samantha 2014 2

 

 

 

 

I’m thankful to be a “young”, active 63!!

No, it’s not my birthday. ¬†My birthday was back in January. ¬†But, I am 63. ¬†And, I am a “young” 63. ¬†I have always thought of myself as being very young at heart. ¬†My friends are usually younger than me. ¬†Most of my close friends are quite a bit younger then me! ¬†My mindset is not that of someone who is 63! ¬†As a matter of fact, in my mind I think I’m about 43.

I have known people that are my age or a little bit younger than I am, that act like they have one foot in the grave!! ¬†I don’t understand that! ¬†When I think about all that I do in a day, and the things that I think about doing – it makes me realize just how “young” I really am. ¬†I’m not ready to give up – or throw in the towel on life, just because I am officially a Senior Citizen! ¬†Nope, not this girl! ¬†I’m also very thankful for an “attitude of gratitude”. ¬†Although I may have my “downer days”…they are rare. ¬†In most cases I am the girl that the glass is half full, not half empty – if you know what I mean.

From taking care of two little grandsons (currently)…

Jackson, 7 months old

Jackson, 7 months old

My buddy!

Kash, 3 yrs. old

to sewing like a madwoman – especially lately! ¬†The popularity of my little pillow quilts that I make for babies has grown tremendously (especially on eBay), not so much on Etsy. ¬†So this past week (prior to leaving town on Thursday) that is what I was busy with…

Classic Winnie the Pooh paired with solid pink

Classic Winnie the Pooh paired with solid pink

 

Owl Print paired with sage green

Owl Print paired with sage green (I made two of these for a set of twins, but the other one is paired with solid yellow)

 

U of Florida "Gator" quilt

U of Florida “Gator” quilt ¬† (This was a special order)

 

Barn Toss Pillow Quilt

Barn Toss Pillow Quilt

 

Animal Toss Pillow Quilt for Baby!

Animal Toss Pillow Quilt for Baby!

 

I’m working on two with Nursery Rhyme flannel currently and love the “girly girl” ones I’ve come up with…

Purple & Cream Eyelet

Purple & Cream Eyelet

Hot Pink, White Eyelet, & Black & white zebra print

Hot Pink, White Eyelet, & Black & white zebra print

But, still my best sellers are the ones with embroidered butterflies….

For girl

For girl

For boy

For boy

or gender neutral

or gender neutral

When I’m not sewing…I’m still walking 3.5 miles on Mon. Wed. and Fri. mornings with friends and going to the gym to do some treadmill and strength training on Tues. and Thurs. morning. Hubby is supportive enough to tend to the grandsons for an hour so I can make myself a priority.

I treat taking care of grandsons like a “real job”…by focusing entirely on them when they are here. ¬†I rarely read e-mail, talk on phone, text, sew or anything while they are here. ¬†We go for walks, play in back yard, go to the park/playground…

Jackson's first swinging adventure!

Jackson’s first swinging adventure!

Sometimes, when it’s too hot to play outside in the Texas heat, we take a trip to the dollar store to see if we can find any cheap toys, or great treats! ¬†It was so funny one day last week…Paw Paw stayed home with a napping Jackson while Kash and I went to the $$ store. ¬†On the way, Kash informed me that he wanted some gummy worms. ¬†I said, “okay, we will look and see if we can find some when we get there.” ¬†Well, we looked high and low, walking up and down the candy isle, but couldn’t find any. ¬†Kash said, “That’s okay, Maw Maw…I’ll go ask”..and off he marched, walking confidently up to the checkout counter where a checker was standing. ¬†He boldly asked her, “Got any worms?” ¬†We both laughed so hard at his confident almost cocky attitude – and it got him some worms, too!

It was the one year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death this past week also. ¬†Hubby and I were her primary caregivers for 2+ years and so we were both in a little bit of a “funk”. ¬†Last Sunday I made a spur of the moment decision to try and arrange a “surprise” trip for hubby to the Austin area (Round Rock, to be exact) to watch his oldest grandson play football. Our daughter-in-law had been texting and sending pictures and I knew it would lift hubby’s spirits if I could arrange for us to go. ¬†So, I texted his baby son, Josh (Jackson’s daddy) to see if he could make other arrangements for childcare on Thursday and Friday so we could make a quick overnight trip to watch a football game. ¬†(It’s approx. a 5 hour drive and we would benefit by not only getting to see his oldest son & wife, but the famous football player, Dillon and his two younger brothers, James & Chris. ¬†Well, I managed to pull it off!

Father, Son & Grandson

Father, Son & Grandson

Grandson, Chris at the game

Grandson, Chris at the game

Grandson, James at the game

Grandson, James at the game

OMG! How the boys have grown since we last saw them!! We were blown away and a bit saddened by how much they had changed! ¬†We just don’t make it to that area enough to see them! ¬†We are so tied down with taking care of first, Granny for 2+ years, and now two other grandsons!! ¬†But, I have to say that whenever we do go, we always feel so welcome and so loved! ¬†These three grandsons are so sweet and so loving. ¬†Mommy and Daddy are doing an awesome job of raising three awesome young men!

At the game

At the game, Dillon is # 57

So, that kinda capped off our week! ¬†We left Thursday morning and returned home Friday afternoon. ¬†I still had some sewing to finish up for the week, so I got right back to it when we got back. ¬†Then, this morning one of our “new” sisters that has joined our church expressed an interest in some “girl time”. ¬†So, while hubby stayed home and finished the laundry, my friend, Teressa and I went garage saling and out for a Chinese lunch. ¬†When I returned home at 1:00 hubby wanted to go to Sam’s for a free health screening. ¬†Yep!! Shocked me that hubby suggested it – since he’s not the walking picture of health! ¬†LOL ¬†But, we went and had our “numbers” checked.

Everything checked out pretty good. ¬†So, as I end this post..once again I say, “I’m thankful to be a young 63″…in mind, body and spirit. ¬†I’m ready to take on the next 30 years, God willing.

IMG_20140806_082749963

 

 

 

Scrapbooking, recipes & more!

Well, when the month of July began I really thought I would be blogging a whole lot more than I have. ¬†I’ve not had the job of taking care of grandsons this month (except for four days with Jackson, and one more coming up this Thursday). ¬†But, because I needed to replace lost childcare income with sewing income I have been extremely busy sewing and selling baby quilts on e-Bay, Etsy and here locally. ¬†I have also been busy making and selling cord covers and still monogramming kitchen towels for the two Realtors that I have as customers (one being my baby daughter). ¬†Needless to say, I haven’t been online near as much as I thought I would be and in fact have been scanning my e-mails and deleting most of them on a daily basis.

If you have been following my blog you know that several months ago I expressed a concern over the fact that my baby quilts really weren’t selling very well. ¬†That has definately changed recently and in June I believe I sold 6 of my unique, one of a kind Pillow Quilts….Pink & Green PQ closeupand in July so far, I’ve sold 7!! ¬†I was very excited the other day when I discovered that I had sold my first quilt on Etsy! ¬†That’s been my work/”duty” related stuff that I’ve been staying busy with. ¬†But, because I had the entire month off from taking care of grandsons I had a few fun activities planned also.

A week ago this last Saturday, I got together with my older daughter, Theresa and we spent the entire day scrapbooking.  She and I were way behind on keeping up our scrapbooks and it had been three years for her and almost as long for me since we had done any.  We had been planning it for weeks and had gotten all our pics prepared.  I had even made a list of some of the pages that I wanted to get done.  I think I did 12 two page layouts and she did even more Рand we still barely put a dent in it!  Theresa scrapbookingI have a large dining room table that seats 6 comfortably, so we spread out with a big old mess and had a ball!

I made white chicken chili in the crock pot so we wouldn’t have to take a break to cook and Theresa brought cornbread salad. ¬†Yum! ¬†Linda Scrapbooking 2I love the creative endeavors!! ¬†I was so far behind!! I started at 8 am, and didn’t stop until 6 pm. ¬†I left the mess out for 24 hrs. thinking I might try to do some more, but once household and church responsibilities got a hold of me – no more scrapbooking inspiration occurred! ¬†Here’s a sample of my work: ¬†Christian's graduationAnother:

 

Ethan & Kashand another…..

Hannah's scrapbook pageIf you haven’t figured it out yet, the focus was on grandchildren. ¬†Although there were other photos, events, persons to scrapbook I always have more fun scrapbooking pages about my grandchildren. ¬†Jackson's scrapbook page 2I like to journal on my pages and have somewhat of a “title”. ¬†If I go too long without putting my photos into scrapbooks, I forget the details!! ¬†Jackson scrapbook pageTheresa and I scrapbook the old fashioned way. ¬†We do our pages with glue sticks, die cuts, stickers etc; ¬†My youngest daughter, Tanya prefers digital scrapbooking to the old fashioned way. ¬†She turns out beautiful pages just like the old fashioned ones, the only difference is that she creates her pages on a computer and then prints them out to put into albums. ¬†It just personal preference. ¬†The digital technique seems a bit quicker, less labor intensive and is especially great for someone who’s extremely busy as she is.

So, now you know one of my other hobbies that I enjoy a whole lot.   But, enough about scrapbooking!  

So, this past Saturday I had planned to have some of my sisters from church over for another “quilting social”. ¬†Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of sickness going around lately and so my turnout was poor. ¬†There were only three of us and so there was more “social” then “quilting”. One gal forgot her electrical cord for her sewing machine and the other didn’t bring her machine, so instead of actually sewing, I showed them how to begin a t-shirt quilt (a project I am currently working on) and also showed them how to make their own “Crazy Quilt” Christmas stocking. ¬†We still enjoyed great food and fellowship and afterwards went to Hancock’s for their “Super Saturday” sale. ¬†I had a request for the soup I made in the crock pot. ¬†It was my own concoction (I love creating soups from the ingredients I have in the house.) ¬†I will put this in my recipe tab as well…but for now here it is:

MEATBALL MINESTRONE

Start with 6-8 cups of beef broth (in 6 qt. crock pot). ¬†Brown in a skillet about 18 small meatballs. ¬†(Melon ball size) ¬†I’ve made these meatballs with 93% lean ground beef before, but this time I used ground venison. ¬†(lean and delicious!) ¬†Season how you prefer. ¬†I used Montreal Steak Seasoning. ¬†Don’t overcook because they will cook more in the crock pot. ¬†Just get a good sear on them in the skillet. ¬†If they are still rare, that’s okay as long as they are browned on the outside. (Let them sit in skillet while you do the following):

Add to your beef broth, 1 – 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, 1 – 15 oz can of tomato sauce, 1 – 15 oz can of green beans, 1 – 15 oz. can of kidney beans (I used white cannelini beans).

I diced up 1/2 a white onion and minced a couple cloves of garlic and added it to the pot.

I had about two cups of frozen mixed vegetables (peas, corn, lima beans & green beans) in the freezer that I also added. Now add your meatballs and season your soup. ¬†I seasoned my soup with basil, oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, Italian Seasoning etc; ¬† This again is about personal preference. ¬†Just keep tasting until you get it the way you like it. ¬†Don’t overdo it, because it will become more flavorful the longer it simmers. ¬†This soup is also very good with some fresh spinach added, but I didn’t have any this time. ¬†The last ingredient you want to put in the pot (the last hour or so) is pasta!¬† I prefer whole wheat elbows or rotini but I didn’t have any, so I added about two cups of no yolk egg noodles. ¬†If you put your pasta in the pot too soon it becomes very soft and soggy and falls apart. ¬†Don’t like overcooked pasta!!

About four hours total time on low should do it! Since your veggies are mostly canned and frozen veggies the only thing that would be crunchy would be the onion if it hasn’t cooked long enough. ¬†So, this is a pretty healthy soup (other than sodium content) and one I originally created when I was working for Weight Watchers. ¬†At that time it was about 7 POINTS for a 1 1/2 cup serving. ¬†I can’t attest to that POINTS VALUE anymore but still feel that soup is a good choice when you are watching your weight unless it’s cream based. ¬†

And that brings me to my next subject….Yes, I’m back on the bandwagon!! ¬†My youngest daughter, Tanya (who tries to live a very healthy lifestyle and like myself is a lifetime member of WW) inspired me to get back to eating healthy and exercising this month while the boys are away. ¬†She went back to WW to get 4 or 5 extra pounds off her petite frame (I can see your eyes rolling) ¬†LOL and she suggested we be accountability partners. ¬†I thought this would be a good month to tackle the extra 20 lbs I’m carrying around. ¬†My other daughter, Theresa decided to work on her fitness a little too, so we meet at the gym twice a week to workout together. ¬†The other three days (Mon, Wed. & Fri) I walk 3 – 3.5 miles with sisters from church at 7:30 in the morning. ¬†It’s been fun and I’m seeing the difference in how I’m feeling. ¬†Still extremely tired but I blame that on age and my insomnia problem but the scale so far has been kind to me. ¬†I use my WW online tracking tool and I weigh in here at home very Friday morning. ¬†First week: 3 lbs gone! Second week: 1 lb gone! This last Friday: I only lost 1/2 a lb.…but I’m not discouraged. ¬†I had Chinese one day and I know the sodium didn’t ¬†help matters. ¬†4 1/2 lbs in 3 weeks is not too shabby! ¬†I know for sure that it has been easier to stay away from sugary snacks without the boys here! ¬†When they return – they too will be eating more fruit and less candy!!

In closing, I will leave you with the most requested recipe at the WW meetings I used to lead:  

WW Cake

For most cake mixes: 12 servings of cake = 4 points

24 cupcakes = 2 points each

Mix together the following and bake according to the instructions on the cake mix:

Cake mix (your choice)

I can of diet soda (your choice)

2 egg whites (the egg whites make the cake a little lighter in texture and does not change the points value.

POPULAR COMBOS:

Spice cake mix with diet Sunkist

Banana cake mix with diet root beer

Lemon cake mix with diet 7-up

Chocolate cake mix with diet coke

Lemon cake mix with diet ginger ale

Orange cake mix with diet mountain dew

Cherry Chip cake mix with A&W diet cream soda

Lemon cake mix with Sprite Zero

Yellow cake mix with diet Sunkist

White cake mix with diet peach

Strawberry cake mix with diet Big Red

Spice cake mix with diet ginger ale or diet root beer

Chocolate cake mix with diet cherry coke

Devil’s food cake mix with diet vanilla coke

Marble cake mix with diet cream soda

White cake mix with diet sprite or Sprite Zero

Red Velvet cake mix with diet cherry vanilla or diet Dr. Pepper

Pineapple cake mix with diet squirt

Since they are now on the POINTS PLUS system I cannot attest to the PP value of this, but back in the old days the POINTS VALUE was as stated above. ¬†I guess, just to be safe I would count a cupcake as 4 PP (double it’s original value). ¬†Still great bang for your buck if you are craving cake.

I would ice my cupcake with 1 or 2 T. of Cool Whip FREE.  (No more points added.)

Signing off for today – i hope you enjoyed my long post. I will try to get back to post at least once more before leaving for our anniversary trip next Monday.

The cycle continues…

I had a brief chat with a 30 something yr old young man not too long ago and he said, “When I marry it will be for life. ¬†I will only marry once.”

Having lived a few more years than he had…and having experienced a whole lot more than he had – I was blown away by his naivety! ¬†This young man “presented” himself as a bible believing Christian (that’s a topic for another post)…

Naturally, having experienced the heartache of divorce more than once I was also quite offended by his comment. ¬†Politely, I replied “well, do you think it was ever my intention to marry more than once?” ¬†“Don’t you think that everyone who marries only intends to do it once?” ¬†“Do ¬†you really think that anyone goes into a marriage thinking it will end in divorce?” ¬†OMG! ¬†

No, ladies and gentlemen – I never intended for any of my children to come from a broken home – even if I did! ¬†And yet, 2 of my 3 children have experienced more than one divorce just like I have! As hard as I try to live right, do right and be a Godly example they still have to live their life and make their own choices, right or wrong. ¬†I hate that! ¬†I want them to learn from my mistakes, not to make their own. ¬†But, I truly don’t believe we learn much from watching others make mistakes and bad choices.

I learned my lessons much later in life. ¬†It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I began to see that I was the “common denominator” in a lot of my choices and that I was the one that needed to change – not them. ¬†That’s also when my prayers changed. ¬†Instead of praying “God make him the kind of husband I want him to be” it was “God, show me how to be the kind of wife you need me to be.” ¬†I know it seems simplistic and my prayers often involved more words than seen here, but you get my drift.

So, why do I post on this topic, you ask? ¬†Well, because I am witnessing the cycle continue. ¬†My grandchildren now come from broken homes!! ¬†My grandson, Kash is just one example. ¬†He will be 3 in Sept. ¬†He goes to Daddy’s for one week, then he’s at mommy’s for one week. ¬†He’s at daddy’s the entire month of July – not to see his mommy, his four other siblings or his Maw Maw. I miss him. ¬†But, more importantly, I’m sad for him.

No one really thinks twice about being from a broken home anymore. ¬†Do they even use that terminology anymore? ¬†It’s more the norm nowadays. ¬†So many couples just live together now without the marital contract and bring children into that world as well. ¬†If Hollywood says it’s okay then I guess it’s okay, right? ¬†NADA! ¬† ¬†I’m so sad about the direction our world is going. ¬†

I know some will call me old fashioned. ¬†Some will say what I desire is unrealistic. ¬†Some will even say that I’m living in the dark ages. ¬†I just hate that the cycle continues.

No DIY in July…

For the past three years I’ve gotten a break from taking care of grandsons in the month of July. ¬†It’s nice to have a month off to catch up on some very much needed housework etc;. ¬†It is also our anniversary month (the 29th) and so we usually plan a small celebration to recognize and appreciate each other.

This time last year I decided that while the boys were away I would “renovate” (I use the term loosely) our home office. ¬†It had been an “eyesore” for far too long. ¬†ImageReally all I had planned to do was give it a fresh coat of paint (you can see the two options I was trying to choose from) and paint all the baseboard and moldings a glossy white. Since I was “retired” (this is our insurance office), I was also going to eliminate one of three desks giving hubby a great deal more room.

It only took me about 3-4 days to complete – hubby helped a little, primarily with painting the trim and around the ceiling fan on the ceiling.Image

 

I had to tape and put plastic down everywhere because we had a good carpet on the floor that we wouldn’t be removing. ¬†Anyway, I digress…as I sit here typing this – I sit in the final result that is still looking good after one year –¬†

 

 

I love DIY projects, especially home improvement.  ImageThen, two years ago (while still caring for Granny in our home & two boys)  I decided to tackle my kitchen cabinets!  I had a long Memorial Day weekend (5 days off) and thought it would be a great time to begin refinishing my kitchen cabinets.

They were hideous! What was I thinking when I painted them this horrible deep burgandy color? ¬†You will notice from the picture that they were a “country blue” color prior to the burgandy. That was the color they were when we bought the house – I can’t take the blame for that one!!ImageI began the sanding process after I received an electric sander and Home Depot gift card as a gift. ¬†

I tackled this task outside on my back patio in the Texas summer heat! ¬†What a mess!! And I was truly thinking I could get this all doneImagein five days! ¬†Boy, was I wrong!! When the 5 days had expired and the boys had returned to my mess – hubby kicked in and began to help. ¬†We had to block the kitchen off with barricades so little fingers & feet etc; wouldn’t get hurt and when we got our break again in July our project was ongoing! ¬†Surely believing that by Aug. 1st when boys returned we would be finished we plodded onward!!ImageOMG! Were we having fun yet? ¬†It was a long summer of DIY that ended up being finished over Labor Day weekend. ¬†But, being one that always completes a task she begins (no matter what it is) – the final result was well worth the wait!¬†ImageI changed out all the hinges and knobs and added a little embellishment to the front. ¬†I still want to change out the flooring and counter tops, but two years later I can still say we chose a good neutral color and a good quality paint that wipes clean easily. ¬†It’s kinda like labor pains – it was rough going through it, but no regrets and an awesome present at the end! LOL

So, I said all that to say this —there will be no DIY in July – this year, at least!! ¬†Although I’ve thought about for a year now re-doing a guest bedroom (mostly just paint again)…While the grandsons are away, I will be busy finishing one quilt a client ordered for her grandaughter’s birthday in Aug. and beginning work on a t-shirt quilt that a friend from church ordered to hopefully be completed by Labor Day. Stay tuned for my next post which will be all about the evening projects I worked on in June to produce some income for me in July. ¬†I will also be filling you in on our plans for our anniversary celebration soon – so I hope you will keep reading. ¬†Posts will be more frequent with the boys away – busy, busy, busy…but it’s what truly ¬†makes me happy. ¬†Love being busy but will enjoy some rest this month too!

JURY DUTY…

Yesterday Paw Paw had to help me out by keeping the three grandsons while I was called in for jury selection. ¬†Normally, I wouldn’t care to “do my civic duty” and would try to get out of it…but as I waited in a hallway full of lined up individuals in our local courthouse I was thinking “hey, this might be a way to get out of the house for a few days and have a break from the boys”…(forgive me, I’m human and a pretty tired Maw Maw). ¬†Once we were all checked in and the judge was talking to us, I found out that there were going to be at least two trials (possibly more). ¬†Both criminal cases, one that they would select a 16 member panel for (6 jurors +1 alternate for that case) and one that would select a 70 member panel (from which 12 jurors and 1 alternate would come from). ¬†Hmmmm….sounding interesting.

My name was called for the 70 member panel. ¬†Still not a juror, but a possibility…I then began listening to the prosecution and defense tell us a little bit about the case and explain to us our duties as a possible juror. ¬†(I had sat thru this process before, but had never been selected as a juror.) Another “incentive” I discovered was that I would receive $40 a day for my jury service, if selected. ¬†Hmmmm…During my working days that would not have been attractive, but now as a “retired” and tired Maw Maw that was quite motivating! LOL

Oooops! ¬†Ouch! But then I found out that this case was “continuous sexual abuse of a child”…OMG! Could I now be open minded enough, unbiased enough and listen to the facts clear-headed enough to decide beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not the crime was committed? ¬†Since I had first hand knowledge of this subject matter and felt quite emotionally charged over it all, as the lawyers continued to talk to the jury panel, I was torn but remained quiet until the very end. ¬†The victim was 14 at the time, it happened on more than one occasion, and the perpetrator was an adult family member. ¬†Whoa! ¬†Hitting a little too close to home. The other wrench thrown into the mix was that I’m a spirit filled Christian – and know that there is only one judge! Ouch again! What do I do, what do I do? What if they choose me? ¬†$40 a day!!?? Is it worth it? ¬†Remember, it’s my civic duty to serve as a juror if I have the chance. ¬†They may disqualify so many others that they may need me! ¬†(I know – a little “grandiose” ¬†LOL).

Might I also add – I was praying under the breath the entire time – or at least when I wasn’t texting my hubby or daughter. LOL ¬†I should also mention that while they are going thru the selection process (day one) they pay you $6.00 for your time. ¬†Yesterday was not at all profitable because I was there 6 hours – ($1.00 an hr?) ¬†You can donate the $6.00 to a worthy cause or keep the money. ¬†I kept mine – if for no other reason then to defray the cost of my lunch out. ¬†(Paw Paw did not want me coming home until I was done since the boys would not want me to leave again!) ¬†Lunch at my favorite Chinese buffet was $10.00 plus $2.00 for a tip…so once again the $40.00 a day I was going to be paid if I was chosen to serve on the jury was looking more attractive.

On the other hand, I didn’t want to leave my daughter in a lurch – since Paw Paw was not up to the task of keeping the boys for the rest of the week and the trial would possibly run all week. ¬†She would have to make other arrangements for care and that would be virtually impossible for her.

After returning from lunch they began to question jurors individually – those that felt they couldn’t serve without prejudice or stated that they didn’t feel like they could remain fair and impartial in judging the case. ¬†It was beginning to become a long day of elimination. They stated at the very beginning of the process that it’s really not about “jury selection” but more about “jury deselection”. ¬†They weed out the ones they feel are not an appropriate fit. ¬†At the very end of the process around 3 pm the defense asked if there was anything else that anyone needed to share that would help them in choosing a fair and impartial jury. ¬†Out of a desire for “full and honest disclosure” I felt like I needed to share that I had worked with women who had suffered similar trauma as children and once led a support group for such..but that I did feel like I could be fair and impartial…Phew! ¬†That was out! ¬†I was relieved. ¬†I’d done my part. Now it was up to God. ¬†If he wanted me on the jury than – so be it. ¬†If not, well it was back to being Maw Maw today.

I am happy to report that although the trial began today at 9 am this Maw Maw did not have to report for duty. ¬†I’m content being Maw Maw to three young boys today and embracing the “Sonshine” of a spirit led life knowing that I am making a difference in my grandson’s lives even though some days it may seem menial and insignificant. ¬†I will continue to pray that the trial I almost became involved in will turn out as it’s supposed to and that a tremendous healing will take place in the hearts of the accused perpetrator as well as the alleged victim.

To God be the Glory!

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