Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Five Favorites. Keeping me organized.

It has been a year (a whole year!) since I did a Five Favorites post so I thought it was about time to share some of my favorite things with you. 

I'm not a super organized person but I do have a few things in the organization department that make me smile every time I see them neatly doing their job.  And here they are:

Fave #1:  My jewelry hangers.  Earrings, bracelets, and necklaces are all hanging neatly in my closet.  I love how handy everything is and how it's all right there together.  Having those big bulky necklaces make it hard to use a normal jewelry box but these hangers do the trick.

Fave #2:  My junk drawer organizer. I have several junk drawers in the kitchen but I recently purchased these cool dividers from Bed Bath and Beyond and now whenever I open this drawer, everything I need is right at my fingertips in it's own compartment. 

Fave #3:  My scarf hanger.  I had been throwing all my scarves on a coat hanger but every time I would try to pull one off, all the others would come off with it.  This hanger has holes for each scarf.  And notice those empty holes?  I think I need to fill them up!

Fave #4: My spice rack. I've had this spice rack for a couple of years now and I love it. It holds over 36 spices.  It's labeled and each shelf pulls out and down so you can grab what you need. 

Fave #5:  My recipe binder.  Several years ago, I put all of my frequently used recipes in a binder that I have broken down into categories: beef, pork, chicken, side dish, dessert, appetizers.  Every Sunday when I'm making the grocery list and weekly menu, I pull this thing out. 

And that's what I'm digging these days.  For more Five Faves, head over to Jenna's!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Has anyone out there used Rosetta Stone?

So, remember when Peter was being all goofy and weird?  Well, it turns out his Top Secret secret was that he wanted to learn Dutch.

After I found this out, I tried to dissuade him from spending any time learning Dutch and to perhaps focus on the Spanish that he's actually being taught in school.  I also reminded him that there are quite a few people around here that actually speak Spanish (at his school, in his own class even!) and that he could actually practice with. I also mentioned that being fluent in  Spanish would look great on a resume.

This motherly advice was quickly dismissed and he spent time googling  Dutch and learned some simple greetings. 

He even asked me to get a Dutch - English dictionary from the library  (our little country library did not carry one).  As the weeks progressed, he talked less and less about Dutch but continued to talk about learning another language (other than Spanish much to my dismay).

Last week, he earnestly asked me which language he should learn.  I gave him some self-serving motherly advice and told him to at least pick a country that I wanted to go to so he could be my tour guide some day.

I steered him to Italian because I would love to go to Italy.  He seemed to get excited about the thought of taking us around as our tour guide and being able to say things to the natives that Dan and I couldn't understand.

He downloaded an app to his iPod and started learning a couple of phrases.  But, I know my boy.  He gets super excited about something and is all in for about a week and then moves on to something else. 

So just to make it interesting and to see if would actually pursue this and stick with it, I told him that if he ever became fluent in Italian we would all go to Italy.  Well, that seemed to do it!  On the way home from school yesterday he asked if we could go to the library to get a book on how to speak Italian.

And whenever a kid asks to go to the library, you go.  Our tiny library had one copy of a small traveler's phrase book so we quickly checked that out. He had a lot of homework last night and didn't get a chance to look at it but he took it to school with him today - probably to read during Spanish class. (He did inform me that since Italian and Spanish are learning Italian will help him with  Spanish class. We'll see about that.)

He seems excited about this, but he gets excited about a lot of things.  I think it would be great if he learned another language and I would like to encourage him in this.  His birthday is coming up and I was contemplating getting him Rosetta Stone.  Although giving a kid Rosetta Stone for his birthday may be the equivilant of a husband giving his wife a vacuum cleaner for their anniversary.

So my question for you, my internet friends, is this:  Have any of you ever used Rosetta Stone?  Have your kids?  Is it worth it? How much time do you need to spend on it?  Is it something that you can learn from in 10-15 minute increments or do you need to sit down with it for an hour a day for it to be worthwhile?  Do you use the homeschool version or the regular version? If you have any information, please share!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

WIWS:Put another scarf on it, please!!!

It's Sunday so let's do another round of What I Wore Sunday.

Jacket - Walmart
Tee - Target
Pants - Kohls
Shoes - Target
Scarf - Kohls

If you remember what I wore two Sundays ago, you might think I'm wearing the exact same thing.  But no!  The only thing on the outfit that is the same is the blue pants....go check it out!

See - same concept but totally different outfit (except for the blue pants)!

And after yesterday, I have decided to buy more scarves.  Why?  Because I was out shopping with Sarah and was wearing blue jeans, a plain black tee shirt and a scarf.  I bumped into some old friends from high school and was told that I looked very pulled together!

It must have been the scarf because I've worn a black tee and blue jeans many, many times before and have never ever been told I looked pulled together.  And the best thing is that the scarf I was wearing at the time cost me less than $5.

So, I'm off to scour the internet in search of more $5 scarves!

Enjoy your Sunday and don't forget to head over to Fine Linen and Purple to see what the other ladies wore to Mass today!

Oh!  And her's a bonus shot.  The photographer took quite a few selfies juuuuuuuuuuust in case I decided to include one in this post!  How could I say no to this cute face?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inquiring minds want to know....

Several of you have asked to see what my new do looks like after having a good 3 to 4 inches chopped off. 

So here you go!

This is my hair styled straight which is how I wear it 95% of the time.

And here it is with some curl.  Now that it's shorter and takes less time to curl, I may wear it like this more often!

Overall, it's not much different than before but just chopping all those straggly and broken ends has made my hair look and feel much thicker and healthier. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

We finally went!

I've always wanted to take the kids to a maize maze.  However, I have always been reluctant because I felt like the kids would get bored pretty quickly.  Walking through a corn field with 5 and 6 year old children could only be fun for so long. (Mere minutes, perhaps.) But I figured at 10 and 11, they would finally be old enough to enjoy searching through a corn maze for longer than ten minutes so on Saturday, off we went!

We arrived at Kersey Valley, paid our admission, and got our scratch off cards.  The person at the entrance of the maize explained that there were 6 kiosks located through out the maze that we would be searching for.  Each of our scratch off cards contained three clues and the clues would be helpful in knowing which slot to slide your card into before you scratched it off.  Each scratch off would reveal points.T he object of the maze was to find all 6 kiosks and scratch off the most points possible.

She told us that three of the kiosks were easy to locate and the other three much harder.  We took our scratch off cards and entered the maze.  We found the first kiosk pretty quickly.  The next two took longer to find and we were getting hot. 

I had failed to bring any water into the maze and that was a poor decision.  It was 86 degrees on Saturday and if you've never been in a corn field, let me warn you, there is absolutely zero breeze getting through that corn.  Zero.

We were hot.  And sweaty.  And sadly, I was the sweatiest one of all.  But we persevered. Although about an hour into it, the kids were done.  We had only found 4 of the 6 kiosks and I was determined that we should finish.  We kept going around in what felt like circles.  It all started to look the same and even though the maze is 3.2 miles, it felt like we walked every inch of it twice. 

We searched for twenty more minutes and finally we were done.  I hated that we didn't find all six kiosks but we had fun searching and would definitely go back again next year. 

Here we are at the entrance to the park:

And here we are in the maize maze:

After we exited the maze, the kids had fun jumping on this giant air pillow:

Those lines above the kids heads are ziplines.  They reeeeeeaaaaalllllllly wanted to zipline but you have to have reservations to do that.  And it was expensive.  And Dan felt like they were too low to be too much fun.  Although, that's what I liked about them.  So we will save ziplining for another day, and perhaps for the mountains where the lines will be higher and faster. 

Friday, October 10, 2014


Happy 7QT Friday!

1.  This guy!  So handsome.

2. This girl!  So pretty.

3.  And speaking of this girl who looks so grown up and worldly at the age of ten was watching The Voice with me the other night when a contestant came on who mentioned he was very poor growing up and usually there were never any presents under the tree on Christmas morning.  Sarah looked up at me from her position beside me on the couch and said, "Why is it that Santa never visits the poor kids?  Do you and Daddy have to pay him?"  She'll figure it out soon enough.

4.  My friend Jennifer sent me these beautiful flowers on Tuesday which just so happened to be the day I started a second novena to St. Therese.  Do you see what's sticking up in the center of these flowers?  Just like last time a couple of weeks ago when I started the Novena to St. Therese, one lone rose in the middle of a bunch of other flowers.  The flowers were beautiful, they brightened my day, and I got a little wave from St. Therese!

5. If you haven't been following Mary's story, where have you been?!  Oh, the praying I do for this family, and I know I'm not alone.  God is working mightily for this family and he's doing it in such interesting ways.  Please pray for them and if you can, please consider donating to Courtney's funeral fund. 

6.  I have lost a lot of hair recently which I am assuming is postpartum hair loss.  Today, I'm going to get a lot of it cut off.  It is so stringy, it took all of my willpower the other day to refrain from hacking it off with the kitchen scissors.  Kelly, my stylist, will appreciate the fact that I did not do that!  Sarah wants me to get a bob. I'm not going that short, but it will be noticeable.

7.  And, I've lost another pound on the Atkins diet and I officially bought one size smaller jeans yesterday!  Slowly but surely, I'm getting there.  One pound at a time.

Have a great weekend y'all, and head over to Jen's to see what everyone else is up to!

Monday, October 6, 2014

A well meaning stranger.

I was walking through the aisles of Walmart like I normally do on Monday morning, enjoying the quiet and trying to get my shopping done before the midday masses descend.

I could see a man shopping with his mother about fifteen feet in front of me.  He looked up and said very loudly, "Didn't you just have a baby?"

Please don't be talking to me, I pleaded slightly.  I glanced around and realized there was an older gentleman behind me but no one else.

"Did you just have a baby?" he questioned again loudly.

I steeled myself for the inevitable and forced a small smile.  "Yes.  In April."

"I knew it!  I'm in here every Monday shopping with my mom and I never forget a face!"  His voice was growing louder with excitement.

"What'd you have?"

"A girl."  I tried to reply quietly but he was fairly far away from me and even though I wasn't, it felt like I was shouting.

"Well, congratulations," he exclaimed as he started down the next aisle.  But before he moved on, he looked over his shoulder, held up two thumbs and said, "I hope everything went all right!"  He paused for me to give him the affirmative but instead I said, "She passed away."

The man behind me said, "Oh no!"

I heard a gasp from the next aisle.

And the whole store went silent.

The stanger that had been quizzing me muttered a quick "I'm sorry about that" and left.  And when I say left, I think he literally quit shopping right then, went to the check out and left the store because I didn't see him or his mother again.  I've got a feeling he'll be shopping on Tuesdays now.

The man behind me told me he was sorry and I muttered between tears, "She lived 6 days."  Not sure why I told him that instead of just moving on, but I felt like I owed it to Rebecca.  I wanted this stranger to know that she lived six days.   The she was here on this earth for six days.

"Well, we'll never know why she didn't make it, but I do know this - she's with the Lord right now and he's taking care of her."

I wiped my eyes, gave him a small smile, and said, "Yes.  And that gives me comfort."

And with that, I slowly rolled my cart down the next aisle and finished my shopping.

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 1 Corinthians 15:57

Sunday, October 5, 2014

WIWS: Sometimes you just need a scarf to pull it all together!

Here's What I Wore Sunday!

Jacket - Kohls
Shirt - Target
Pants - Kohls
Scarf - Kohls
Boots - Target

No surprises here, folks.  As usual, my entire outfit came from Kohls and Target.  Geez, you would think they would send me a gift card or something!

I got these cute blue pants from Kohls a couple of weeks ago.  They are a very soft cotton and so very cozy.  They are like leggings but more substantial and not quite as tight.

The boots I have had for at least three years.  I've been searching for a new pair but can't find any I like better than these.  Either they are too blingy, the heel is too high, there are too many buckles, etc. So for now, I'll stick with these!

The yellow t-shirt is kind of thin and you can see through it so I made sure that everything important was covered up!

I was cleaning out my closet last week and found this scarf hanging under a pile of other scarves and got very excited.  Once I saw it, I knew what I would be wearing to Mass today!

To see what everyone else was wearing, head on over to Fine Linen and Purple!  And don't forget to link up your outfit too!

Friday, October 3, 2014

One Pound At A Time.

Okay, people!  Let's talk diets, weight loss and numbers.  Specifically my diet, my weight loss, and my numbers.  It is my blog after all!  ;)

While the entire blogging population seems to be doing the Whole 30 or the 21 Day Sugar Detox to jump start their weight loss efforts, I've gone retro and I've been doing the Atkins Diet.

All three programs are extremely similar, the difference being that on Whole 30 and the Sugar Detox  you must avoid cheese.  There is no way I'm avoiding cheese!  That's one of my favorite foods and a life with no cheese is just plain sad. Once realizing that the other trendy new weight loss approaches banned cheese,  I jumped on the 1984 bandwagon and Atkins it was!

{Quick aside - After I had Sarah (ten years ago!)  I did the Atkins diet for a year and a half and lost massive amounts of weight. However, right as I was about to enter the maintenance phase, Dan got a new job, we sold our house, moved in with my parents for a year and I stopped following the plan and just started eating whatever my mom was serving.}

Back to Atkins 2014!  It appears that they've slightly changed the guidelines on Atkins since I did it in 2004 but basically it's the same premise.  Check out their website for all the details but here are the four phases summed up:

Kick Start - This purpose of this phase is to  shift your body from burning primarily carbs to burning primarily fat, kick-starting weight loss.  You are supposed to eat only 20 grams of Net Carbs per day and you can choose from meats, cheese!, eggs, and an approved list of veggies.   This phase should last a minimum of 2 weeks but you can do it longer.  Also, you should try to get roughly 15 carbs from veggies.

Phase 2 - Starting at 25 grams of Net Carbs daily, begin to increase overall carb intake in 5-gram increments. This means gradually reintroducing a broader array of carb foods as you step up the Carb Ladder, finding your personal carb balance. It could level off anywhere between 30 and 80 daily grams of Net Carbs or even higher. Your personal number is impacted by your age, gender, activity level, hormonal status, and other factors as you continue to lose weight.

Phase 3 -  This is the Pre-Maintenance/Fine Tuning phase where you will start to add grains, starchy vegetables, and more fruit increasing your daily Net Carb intake while continuing to lose weight/not gain weight.  Once you determine your body's carb limit and are happy with your new weight and know how many carbs you need per day to maintain that weight, then you are ready for the final phase.

Phase 4 - This is not so much a phase as a permanent lifestyle. In general, the foods you eat in this phase are the same ones you’ve already been eating. There are some foods you tried to reintroduce earlier without success that you can now handle. You can experiment with these foods at any time as long as your weight remains under control. 

Let's talk numbers:
I started this diet on August 21 - 6 weeks and 1 day ago.  And as of today, I have lost 6 1/2 pounds.  That may not seem like much but that's roughly a pound a week and according to all the weight loss gurus, that's about where you want to be to insure that the weight stays off permanently.

Before I got pregnant, I weighed 130 pounds and I was a size 6.  I gained 60(!) pounds during the pregnancy and even though there were a lot of factors adding to that 60 pounds, most of it was the fact that I ate like a boss for 9 months. (And I'm not going to lie, I enjoyed every morsel.)

But 3 months postpartum, I found myself at 153 pounds and the scale was not budging.  And it was depressing.  I was eating like I was prior to the pregnancy but nothing was happening.  I even started doing the 30 Day Shred.  But nothing.  It's like my body had determined that 153 was it's new happy place.  Well, I can guarantee you that 153 was not my happy place! 

And while we are talking numbers - 153 pounds on me means size 12!  That was probably the most depressing of all.  23 pounds and 3 pants sizes bigger than I had been a mere year ago.  Suddenly all those cheeseburgers and BLTs did not seem worth it.

That's when I decided, on a random Thursday morning after staring at 153 on the scales yet again, that I couldn't take it any longer and decided that I would do the Atkins diet.  

And I've been happily eating meat, cheese, and mayo ever since.  I still eat hamburgers, but I eat them bun-less.  I still eat BLT's but large leaves of lettuce have now become my bread.  I still eat steak but with Hollandaise sauce on it instead of Heinz 57.  I eat green beans instead of mashed potatoes.  I eat omelets instead of pancakes.  

My size 12s still fit but they are getting looser by the day.  I'm happily looking forward to seeing size 10, hopefully in a few weeks or so.  

My goal weight is 130 pounds and I'm giving myself until April to reach that goal.  The old saying is 9 months on, 9 months off, but I'm cutting myself a little slack.  My motto is 9 months on, 12 months off.  And I'm cutting myself that extra slack because at age 45, the weight just doesn't come off as quickly as it did at 35.  

So, I'm down 6 pounds with 17 to go!  

And I should also mention that I've started running again. Since we are talking numbers, I used to run 3 miles 4 or 5 times a week.  And I could do those three miles in roughly 30-35 minutes.  Not super fast but that's where I was.  Over the past 6 weeks of running, I have gradually worked my way up to 2 miles in 35 minutes.  I'm not running nearly as far or as fast as I used to, but I keep reminding myself that I'm toting around a lot of extra weight.  Hopefully my times and distances will increase as my weight decreases.    

And that's it in a nutshell -  Retro diet + slow morning runs = steady weight loss. 

I have a plan, a goal and a time frame and hopefully by April, my old figure!