Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Healthy Living Update

I haven't posted a healthy living update the past couple of months because there really hasn't been much to report. April and May passed with a minimal amount of exercise and limited success with healthier eating. However, I renewed my resolve at the beginning of June and am happy to report that I have been much more successful in my quest to make healthier choices this month.

I exercised or was intentionally active at least 25 days this month by either riding the stationary bike for 30 minutes, completing a 30 minute strength training routine, enjoying time in the hotel pool and walking the mile to downtown on a weekend get-away, painting the walls (10 foot tall!) in my new craft room, or parking at the very end of the parking lot to force some extra walking while completing errands. (Robbie also rode the exercise bike every weekday morning before getting ready for work - I am so proud of him!)

I have done fairly well this month eating less and making healthier food choices. I still need to work on this, however I feel good about my efforts so far. I am currently concentrating on preparing well-balanced suppers by incorporating more non-starchy vegetables and smaller portions of protein and starches.

And I must share this funny little side note about cookbooks. A couple of months ago, I decided it would be a good idea to read through a cookbook to get some ideas and inspiration as we strive to cook more and eat out less. I asked Robbie to pick a book from our collection and he handed me The Two Fat Ladies Full Throttle cookbook. I had never heard of The Two Fat Ladies, so I began reading through. Now I know that many of you have probably watched Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright cook on TV, but I truly had no idea who they were. To my dismay, I discovered that most of the recipes in the book are full of fat - seriously, one recipe starts with a pound of lard and many of them required a stick (or two!) of butter. Robbie enjoys cooking shows and knew that The Two Fat Ladies show was often shown in re-runs, so we watched a show one evening. I have to admit that it was very entertaining, but also confirmed my suspicisions that their recipes were not what I was looking for in my quest for healthier eating. These ladies may have been exceptional cooks, however they were definitely not living the healthy lifestyle I'm striving for - as evidenced by how winded they became walking a very short distance and then resting while one of them smoked a cigarette! While they did often use the freshest ingredients available, these recipes are definitely more suited for the occasional indulgence.

Unfortunately, as I have made better choices and am feeling good this month, the scale has not altered in its numbers. I am basically down 5 pounds from the beginning of the year. However, the good news is that it does appear I have halted the upward trend of the past four years and that fact alone makes me smile!

One of my other goals (in addition to exercising more and eating healthier) is to get outside more and enjoy the sunshine. I did a fairly good job of this early in the month, but as the temperatures have soared over 100 degrees lately, I am much more likely to be found organizing my new craft room. However, I do hope to continue to enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of nature throughout the summer.

On that note, I'll leave you with a layout I completed last month showcasing Robbie's grandmother's azalea bush in the late 1960s.

Anyone else making strides in your healthy living goals for the year? Please share your successes and challenges in the comments.

Friday, June 29, 2012

#10 - A Horse

Have you heard about Rinda's 2012 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt? Rinda has challenged us to find and photograph a list of 21 items this summer - you can find the list and all the details on her blog here.
I am hoping planning to capture photos for each item throughout the next few weeks. This past weekend I captured my first photo: #10 on the list - A Horse.
When I saw this item on the list, I knew I would have no problem finding a horse as it is very commonplace to see horses here in north Texas. However, I did find it a little difficult to photograph A (one) horse because they tend to be found in small herds around here.
As you may have noticed, I had to do some close cropping to get the photo I'm submitting for the scavenger hunt. There were other horses in the background as well as a very similar looking horse nearby.
In fact, while we were out snapping horse photos, we pulled up beside these two at a traffic light.

Are you taking part in the scavenger hunt this summer? If so, which item do you think will be the easiest for you to capture?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Reviews & A Layout

It's hard to believe we are halfway through the year 2012! As you can see on my Books Read page, I've completed 32 books so far this year. If you click on the title of a book on that page, it will take you to my review of the book. I noticed today that I've skipped reviewing quite a few books and thought I'd catch up on a few. I'm glad that I read each of the four books I'm sharing about today, however as you'll see from my reviews, there was also a little something I didn't like about each.
Your Life as Story is about writing your memoir in the form of story. The book contains a ton of good information & exercises to get you writing your own autobiography, however I have to admit that I was put off by the language at times and quite a few of the sample stories she shared were what I would consider inappropriate or immoral.

I read Room as part of the library book club I attend. The story is about a young woman who was abducted and locked in a shed for seven years. During that time she had a baby boy who also spent five years in that room. The book is written from the perspective of the 5-year-old boy, which makes for very tedious reading after a while because the mother has taught him that only things in the room are real and the things on TV are not real (like other people, "outside", etc). I think the story was told in a positive and realistic perspective for the most part, however it was a difficult read considering the subject matter (abduction, abuse, depression, deprivation).

The Harbinger: The ancient mystery that holds the secret of America's future centers around nine harbingers or foreshadowings of disaster based on Isaiah 9:10. This scripture was a prophecy about the nation of Israel and the events that would lead to its eventual destruction because the nation turned away from God. Israel was "unique among nations in that it was conceived and dedicated at its foundation for the purposes of God" . . . just like America. The author then shows how each of these harbingers are now being (or have already) played out in America as our nation continues to turn away from the God of our Founding Fathers. This is a very thought-provoking and discussion-inducing book. The downside is that it is written in the form of an interview, which involves endless dialogue that made for very slow reading. I highly recommend it for the information it presents, despite the tediousness of 250+ pages of dialogue.

Our pastor recently completed a sermon series based on Robert Morris's The Blessed Life: The Simple Secret of Achieving Guaranteed Financial Results, so I (of course) wanted to read the book for myself. The book focuses on giving through tithing, offerings, and sacrificial giving, practices that I firmly believe in and practice in my everyday life. The author gives many examples of blessings from his own and other's lives, however many of the examples are extreme and leave the impression that if we give financially, our return blessings are always financial. While I know from personal experience that these things do happen, I think it's important to remember that there are many blessings that are not tied to our financial situation and that we give in obedience rather than to gain more financially.

For those of you who've made it this far, here's a little something creative to go along with this book review post - a layout about our visit to a used book store. (You can see my favorite photos from that visit here.)

Journaling reads: We read about this used book store in Texas Highways and knew it was time for a Saturday drive to Denton!!

Have you read any of the books I reviewed today? If so, I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments. (I'll be catching up with a few more reviews next week about some of the book series I've read.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Surprise Happy Mail

I wasn't expecting anything special when I discovered this in my mailbox today!

There was a tiny pig sketched beside the return address - a definite indication that this was from Ruth of Chatty Crafty Arty Pig. Inside I discovered a wonderful selection of patriotic UK goodies in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this year.

Ruth wrote me such a lovely note inside the handmade card and those little round punched pieces were hiding scrumptious chocolates inside! I've seen quite a few posts with crafty creations and stories about celebrations in the UK over the past few months and now I feel like I can join in a little bit as I use my new towel, showcase this lovely card, and indulge in a few treats. Thanks Ruth for this fantastic surprise which definitely brightened my day!

Pass the Book Recipient

The first recipient of this month's book,

Cheri, I have your address and will get this book on its way to you shortly.

Remember the Pass the Book:Year Two page has a list of the books that are currently out. If you have a book, please click over & check that the information is correct. I've updated the page with all the new information I have today, so if you see any errors please email me.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June's Twelve Photos - IKEA

This past weekend we needed to make a trip to Ikea. I'm not really a big shopper, so I decided to add a little interest to the visit by taking along the Twelve Photos prompts for June to see if I could snap photos for each of the prompts. It was a fun challenge as we navigated the store, checked out the item I wanted to see before buying, loaded our cart, and headed home with "something prized."

1. Grass
2. Sky

3. Feet
4. Hair
5. A ball
6. Clever
7. Laundry

8. Looking in a mirror

9. Something turquoise

10. Something prized
11. Music
12. Silly

We'll be putting together our purchase this evening, and I'll be sharing all about it in an upcoming post. This is only the third time we've been to Ikea (because I only shop when I plan to buy something), but I have to admit that there were lots of other items that I just might "need" in the future! Do you have an Ikea store near you?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

May - Our Month in Numbers

(Digital template from Simple Scrapper. Papers from Cheryl McCain's Tea Party Sampler.)

30 cookies baked for the Pearls Spring Brunch & Agora

6 Avengers Superheros save the world in the latest Marvel movie

9 days into the month when another driver backed into Robbie's car

1st time for Jeff to visit Texas

5 BPC friends cropped together in Corsicana

4 hours Robbie & Jeff stood in line @ Dallas Comic Con to get Kevin Conroy's autograph

86-year-old Dick Van Dyke (& the Vantastix) performance enjoyed at the Winspear Opera House

$125 paid to repair dining room table

3 get-togethers for Melissa to crop with friends

19 layouts & 1 mini-album completed, 5 cards created, 17 blog posts published

Friday, June 22, 2012

May 2012 Photo I Love

Journaling reads: One of the things we've enjoyed together over the past 10+ years is watching all the old espisodes & movies of Dallas, so it's always fun to visit Southfork & remember scenes that were filmed so close to our home.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Inspired by Shimelle's latest Starting Point, I pulled together this background.
Shimelle actually used two portrait prints on the long strip on the left of the layout, however I chose to use the red block for my photo.
Journaling reads: For the first couple of years after Mama & Daddy moved, they always brought their laptops with them when they came to visit. They had a very slow dial-up connection at home, so they would boot up their computers and log onto our DSL to let their software programs update while we visited. They finally got high speed Internet a year or so ago, and we haven't seen their laptops since then!

I really like how the starting point provides such a great start to a layout. Have you tried one lately?

Lunch at Cattleman's

After creating 19 layouts and completing a mini-album in May, I have not scrapped at all this month . . . until today. I pulled some photos from earlier this year and recorded a funny story. I layered several patterned papers and added some older stickers as embellishments.

Journaling reads: After a morning at Canton Trade Days, we called Rita to see if she wanted to meet us for lunch in Athens. She suggested we meet at Cattleman's Steak house just off the loop going toward town on one of the highways - not very good directions, but when we saw the Ole' West Steak House, I knew we were at the right place because there aren't that many places to eat in Athens. Of course, now it will always be Cattleman's to me!

It felt good to put together a layout after a three-week break, so I might just spend the rest of the afternoon scrapping. < big grin> Anyone else feel a great sense of creativity after a short break?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June Pass the Book - Art Journaling

This month's book for Pass the Book:Year Two is actually sold in the magazine section, but if you've ever seen any of Somerset Studio's quarterly publications you'll know that they are filled with inspiration. I picked up the Winter 2011 edition of Art Journaling at the beginning of this year and have really enjoyed the eclectic examples of art journal pages from numerous artists.

If you'd like a chance to be the first recipient of Art Journaling, please leave a comment telling me whether or not you've ever purchased one of Somerset Studio's publications. I'll choose a winner on Monday and get this book on its way.

Remember to check out the Pass the Book:Year Two page for all the details and to see which other books are ready to be passed.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Very First Art Canvas

Before this week, I have never used an art canvas to create an original piece of art. Actually, I've never used an art canvas for anything. Seriously, never!

However, one of the projects in the BPC Lift Me Up workshop about upcycling is to find an "abandoned" canvas project and repurpose it into a home decor piece. Unfortunately we did not have any abandoned canvases. What we did have, however, was a package of three canvas panels that Robbie purchased before we were married. We have moved them around with us and stored them in a closet for over a decade now, so I decided it would definitely be upcycling to get one of them out of the package and create a piece of art.

I started by punching a few scalloped circles from tissue paper and an old hymn book (because the abandoned canvas that Mou Saha used in the example had tissue paper circles adhered to it already). I added a few butterfly rubons and a bling flower sticker.

Following along with Mou's example, I added some acrylic paint to the canvas.

I used a small piece of bubble wrap to stamp on the remaining white area of the canvas, then added a variety of items to make this a true multi-media piece - washi tape, dimensional flower stickers, thin colored tape and a handwritten quote. I also added glitter glue to the word "talent."

After letting the canvas sit so that everything could dry, I decided to stamp a little more with the bubble wrap, this time with orange ink. I also added a larger butterfly rub-on to the area that I felt didn't flow with the rest of the piece. Here's a look at the complete piece - my very first mixed-media art canvas.

I have to admit that I'm feeling pretty good right now. This piece makes me smile and will soon be hanging in my craft room.

There were two more canvases in that pack we've been carrying around for years, and I'm thinking about doing something similar with them. I could then display the three of them as a small vignette. What do you think? How do you display your mixed-media art canvases?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Walking in Banff

I've been watching lots of Shimelle's videos as I've worked through the Cover to Cover class and Stacy Julian's Dozen Day slide shows in the Twelve workshop, and there have been several examples of using a 6x12 page to tie together two 12x12 pages and add additional photos and journaling. I knew it was definitely time to use this technique again.

Our first day in Banff on our 2010 road trip, we decided to walk down Tunnel Mountain road into town. We walked through town, bought a few souvenirs, took a carriage ride, snapped lots of photos, then decided it was time to eat . . .

We had a gift card for Bumper's The Beef House, and according to the address, we were only three blocks away. We were getting tired but decided we could walk three more blocks for a good steak. We walked, and walked, and walked, and over a mile later finally arrived. There was  a semi-truck farmer's market in front, so we bought some fresh fruits and vegetables, then headed to the front door to find that Bumper's was closed!

It wouldn't open for another two hours and the next bus up the mountain wasn't due for 30 minutes. So we set off up the trail and the steps and along Tunnel Mountain Road - stopping to rest & laugh at how tired we were & how much we had bought in town!

We did eat at Bumper's that evening - after DRIVING back down the mountain!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hope Springs - book review

Kim Cash Tate's book Hope Springs was a quick easy read. It's the story of two families, the Sanders and the Dillons, in the small town of Hope Springs, North Carolina. Grandma Geri, the matriarch of the Sanders family, is diagnosed with cancer as the families mourn the death of Jim Dillon, one of the town's beloved pastors. This Christian fiction book drew me in to the lives of the many family members as they struggled with issues of loss, deception, humility, hope, following God's call on their lives, love, and servanthood (to name a few). I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it as a great read.

The story also addresses the issue of race relations in a small southern town - the Sanders are a black family and the Dillons are white. These two families have been friends for many years and several generations, however they've always attended separate churches based on their race. When one of Grandma Geri's granddaughters approaches a white waitress at the town diner about starting a Saturday morning Bible study, ladies from both churches come together to meet and discuss God's Word. This small gathering begins a discussion among the two pastors that results in a once a month church service where both congregations meet together. Since the story is set in modern times (cell phones, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook all make an appearance), it may seem strange to some of you that this type of segregation and prejudice is an underlying theme in this story. Unfortunately, this book depicts a true picture of many small town (& city) churches today. I thought the author did a wonderful job of addressing this issue in a positive light and stressing (through the characters in the story) that all Christians are a part of the body of Christ.

[I downloaded this e-book free from BookSneeze, but as always this review contains my own thoughts, opinions and recommendations.]

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ten on the Tenth - Southfork Ranch (more photos)

Today I'm sharing ten more photos from our trip to Southfork Ranch last month as part of Shimelle's Ten Things. (You can see my first set of photos here.) As I mentioned last time, exterior scenes for the show Dallas (the original and the new series starting this week) were filmed here. The interior of the house was not used for filming, however it has been decorated to reflect the lifestyle and personalities of the Ewing family. The small house  in the last photo was used in the original series as a bunkhouse for ranch hands, and we learned on our visit that in the new series it was used as the house where the Ewing's cook and her daughter (John Ross's girlfriend) live.

We have our calendars set to watch the new two hour premier of Dallas this Wednesday evening. Anyone else planning to watch and see if it can compete with the original?