Sunday, March 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, Kevin!!

Today, we will celebrate my little brother's birthday.  Happy 55th, Kevin!

My little brother is mentally retarded.  I believe they labeled him as "severely mentally retarded" when he was a baby.  Whatever wiring mishap happened in his brain, he is also unable to speak using words. He makes sounds, very noisy, joyful sounds. And you will definitely know if he has missed you when he sees you.  He's a bit noisy that way, too.  And very strong.  He could knock you over with a hug.

When he was a baby, the seventh for my mom and dad, my mother knew within a couple of weeks that something wasn't right.  "He wasn't turning over like he should," is the one thing I remember her saying.  By the time he was diagnosed, the professionals predicted he would not live beyond age 30.  He was 5 or 6 when he first walked.
Pretty proud of himself!!

And we danced at my wedding...
He was 13 in this picture.
Kevin lives in a facility in Kankakee, IL  For his 50th, we celebrated at a local hotel, did it up big!! He was exhausted by the end of the party.
Kevin's 50th Birthday Party
I'd say baby brother is hanging in there pretty well!  Happy 55th, Kev!! Vuhvuhvuhvuhvuh!!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

One Little Word for 2015

You may be familiar with Ali Edwards' One Little Word that was started back in 2007 and has grown exponentially in popularity. For the last two years, I did not choose a word since beginning this OLW journey in 2009.  Nothing showed up. Nothing spoke to me. And I just wasn't in the frame of mind to find one.

And 2014 was an odd year!  2014 brought lots of changes in my life. (I guess CHANGE would have been a good OLW, in retrospect). But those changes have made me realize what I want for 2015.

My word for 2015 is CREATE.  This time, the word chose me. 

According to Merriam Webster:   
cre·ate verb\krē-ˈāt\
: to make or produce (something) 
: to cause (something new) to exist
: to cause (a particular situation) to exist
: to produce (something new, such as a work of art) y using your talents and imagination

I want to create a healthy lifestyle, a garden that offers me that healthy lifestyle, a healthy home, simple living, art, abundance, open spaces,  laughter, joy, memories.  I want to write more. I intend to write more. That includes more blogging. And more pictures. 

I looked back at some of my old posts and it reminded me what I was involved with over the last couple of years. I really think so much of it lead me to this one little word, create!! And as I create in 2015, I intend to share.

It's funny, as I write the word intend, it makes me wonder how committed actions are behind that word. One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Yoda:  "Do or Do Not.  There is no Try."  And I sometimes wonder whether the word "intend" is best friends with "try."  If that's the case, then I'm changing it to WILL. I WILL write more.  I WILL share more.

But as usual, I digress.

And what about you?  Do you have a word that will guide you, inspire you in the new year? I'd love to hear about it. Not only what your word is, but why that word!

I wish my visitors a peaceful, prosperous, safe, and successful 2015.  And I leave you with this:
jpg from
(can't read the photographer's name)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A New Life - Part 2

As much as I wanted to stay current with updates, things/life gets in the way and before I know it a month has gone by.  But things are still going great. I'm down 20 lbs in 2 months. The one remaining med I'm on has been changed to reflect my decreasing blood pressure readings. Doctor assures me I will not be on this forever.

I also see a wellness nurse at each visit. Besides checking my weight, we talk about any concerns I have, recipes, temptations. The latest mantra is "ride the wave." I'm not going to fool myself into thinking that I will never eat another of CT's Butter Krisps or Leanne's Potato Chip/ Chocolate Chip cookies, but I'm going to ride the wave as long as it lasts. This lifestyle works for me.

I pulled the bike out of the back of the garage and try to ride most nights after work. Short rides. I'm so out of shape it's pitiful. But everyone knows that you have to take baby steps before you master something. And that's what it'll be! Tonight, I realized that working out or riding the bike is almost addictive. Yeah, those that know me will get this real confused look on their face about now.

And self talk...I've had plenty of conversations with myself over the last month and realized how important that is in this process.

And recipes? Oh is good in this paleo/primitive lifestyle. Especially in the fall. I made this Butternut Squash Lasagna (with my marinara sauce) that was outstanding.
Photo and recipe courtesy of

My PG has decided to join me (at least partially) in this journey, so I've made these sandwich rolls, but instead of buying English muffin rings, I'm just put the batter in a 9x13 pan and cut up the "bread" into a dozen pieces. Tada!! He gets his "bread."
Danielle Walker's Against all Grain Sandwich_Rolls 5-2
Photo and recipe from
As I mentioned in my last post, I will advocate this lifestyle because I know it works. I've shared Dr. Kaskel's book with a number of people I work with because I believe what he has to say. I joke with one of my coworkers about how we will both be evangelists about this lifestyle. And each and every day, I thank the Universe for having whatever it is in me to continue this lifestyle.

Next things floating around this brain o'mine?  Yoga and journaling.  Until next time...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A New Life

Seven weeks ago, I adopted a new lifestyle.  I was on meds for blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. As an unwilling participant in this med-fest, I finally decided that since it just wasn't going to work for me, I needed to find a holistic doctor. I had been to a few doctors who either shamed me into going along with their plan, or "lied" to me by telling me that they would be willing to work with me toward getting healthier. I was not a happy camper.

One day, my lovely daughter texted me a picture with an excerpt from a book she was reading. "Mom, this sounds like this would work for you." Yep, it sure sounded like Peggy!!

So I got the book, read it in two days. Made up my mind right then that this all made sense to me and that I was going to try to see this doctor. And I can't begin to tell you how life changing it's been for me.

The long and short of it is I've gone from 5 meds down to 1.  The doc says I will probably NOT be on that one med forever.  In the first four weeks, I lost 15 lbs., my blood pressure numbers dropped about 20 on the top number and 14 on the bottom. I regularly workout because I have energy. I have energy because I'm not on the 5 med regimen. See the cycle here?

This Tuesday, I go back for another follow up. My plan is to share my adventure on this blog. If it helps even one person, it will all be worth it. Plus, let's just admit that writing is therapy for me.

Okay, so I'll bet you're asking what it is I'm doing. Here's the basics of it. No grains, no sugar. Eat when I want. No calorie counting. No carb or fat gram counting. NO GUILT! This plan works for me. I will readily admit that it won't work for everyone. Part of the problem is the indoctrination we have all had about fatty red meat. Wait, I'm loading you up with way too much information too fast. Let's just take this slower.

Image from
The book I read was titled "Living in Wellness, Volume One: Let Food Be Thy Medicine" by Dr. Larry Kaskel. Once you read that, and start digging into research on the way he thinks, you will find tons of stuff that support this lifestyle.

Picture modified from
One of my favorite sites is Danielle Walker's Against All Grain blog. She posts the yummiest recipes. My current hobby is finding and making some of the most amazing grain-free recipes. I made this sandwich bread that gives me exactly what I need when I want a piece of toast. Oh, yeah...this totally works.

So there's more for me to tell you about, but it's too much at one time. I will say this. Once you adopt this lifestyle, and people see the results (in your loose pants...YEA!), they ask. And when you tell them, you find out that others are doing the same thing. And you realize that there's a network out there for you.

Let me end this post in saying that I have always been a believer that what I've gone through in my life is out there to the benefit of others. I am a three-time cancer survivor and I will talk to anyone who needs to talk about their fight. The same goes for my weight/health issues now. I will advocate this lifestyle because I believe it works. So feel free to comment with any questions you have. No, I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. But I love talking about my passions. And this is one of them.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Party for a 4 yr old!

My Little Miss is turned 4 earlier this month.  Today is her family party.  When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she told me she wanted a "Bahbie."  Yes, she has a bit of a Boston accent for some reason!

And being a grandmother, I naturally want to get her what she wants for her birthday.  But I gotta tell ya...I struggled with this one.  Back 50+ years ago, when every other girl in the neighborhood had one, my sisters and I never had a Barbie doll.  And we didn't suffer any.
No, this is not Little Miss.
This is a Pick Your Plum ad.
But don't you just love these tutus?

My daughter never wanted one.  She was never into dolls.  She had one baby doll, a Cabbage Patch baby. This was one conversation about her doll.
Me: "Honey, what's your baby's name?"
Her: "Rob"
"Just Rob?"
"Yes."  That was it.  Cut and dried.  She just wasn't a doll kinda kid. She wasn't a girlie girl. I actually kind of liked it. She was tough.

So when Little Miss asked for a Barbie doll, I gotta say, I cringed. And I asked her why she wanted a "Bahbie."  Silly could I not expect this answer.  "Because I want one."  Oh. (Little Miss is most definitely a girlie girl.)

So I went and got her a Barbie.  And I looked at it for a couple of days.  And I couldn't get excited about it. So I emailed her mom and asked if I could instead get her dress up clothes. And my daughter, who didn't wear pink from the time she started to choose her own clothes until one day when she was in college and realized that she needed to send me a picture because I wouldn't believe she was wearing pink, thankfully said she'd prefer the dress up clothes. She realizes that her daughter is girlie girl through and through.  No sense in fighting this one!!

And my sister thinks Little Miss might be channeling June Cleaver. She's helping Mommy clean the counter, but check out the pearls and bracelet!  Yep, just like June Cleaver!

And for the birthday "cake," Little Miss asked for brownies. With a little bit of green frosting. So I decorated it as inspired by the card I made for her. Yes, the writing leaves something to be desired, but at least it's homemade!

I'm looking forward to her party today.  She can be a little precocious crazy kid, or she can be as sweet as can be.  You never know til you get there!!

Happy Birthday Little Miss!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Golden Weekend, with a Lesson on the Side

This week was an exciting week!  Because of Team USA, and more specifically, because of one of our sophomore students, I've renewed my love of hockey.  Along with that, I've done some reflecting on parenting, and on handling whatever happens to me in life, and on realizing that you don't always get answers for the questions you have.
Brody Roybal
Image courtesy of
I work in a school district that has two campuses.  At one time (when I attended the school), the district was most definitely divided.  Different mascots (Eagles and Knights), different school colors (maroon/white and blue/gold).  A totally different culture.  Now, we are all one district, one mascot (Eagles), one school color combo (blue/gold) and a united culture. So it wasn't surprising that the east campus was cheering on one of our students from the west campus when he went to the 2014 Sochi Paralympics to compete in Ice Sledge Hockey.  Brody Roybal is a 15 year old sophomore, and he is a forward on Team USA. They won the gold on Saturday.  Very exciting games!!

I've been thinking a lot about Brody's parents lately.  I don't know them.  I only know what I know from the interviews I've seen and read.  But I am in awe of these parents.  You see, Brody was born without legs.  They could have easily felt cheated, with a chip on their shoulder, angry that they didn't know about it even after ultrasounds.  Instead, Brody's dad admits to pushing him "pretty hard sometimes" to be independent.  His mom remembers thinking he looked like the Peanuts character, Pigpen, when Brody was playing local baseball.
Edited cartoon from

The point I'm trying to make is that they realized the reality of Brody not having legs but decided that they wouldn't treat their son any differently than any other parent offering their kid opportunities.  Some day, I'd like to meet Michelle and Robert Roybal.  I'd like to shake their hands and tell them that they are as awesome as their son.
Brody's Mom - Spelling out USA
Some people come into your life for a reason.  Whether or not I get to congratulate that gold medal winner in person, I would like him to know that he and his parents have changed my outlook on life.  

A final note: (Removed on advisement.)  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I'm Ba-a-a-ack!!!

Wow, has it really been over 7 months since I've posted?  I will tell you it's been a busy 7+ months, and I think it's a matter of "somethin's gotta give!"  So let me catch you up...

I've been working on my ancestry research.  I've set up family trees on and love the fact that you enter a name and a little information and before you know it you have hints to look at census data and other information. I've found a 2nd cousin in Arkansas and a 2nd cousin to my PG in Florida.  I'm working on four different trees, so it takes me in many directions.

Also working on some ATC cards in swaps that I've joined at Jessica Brogan's site.  I've done two other swaps and have received some beautiful inspirational cards in return.  The newest swap is about "found poetry" and looks like it will stretch my creativity a bit!

I been running hot and cold when it comes to cooking and baking.  This winter, I've been in the kitchen quite a bit, exploring Pinterest and Facebook recipes.  Most come out pretty darned good.  I've also been doing more reading on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in our food and want to do more of watching what I'm cooking.  Which leads to growing more of what I will cook.  So I'm also planning this year's garden, hopefully with more organic plantings.

And, of course, there are the grandkids.  Just yesterday we took in "Little Mermaid" at the local library. I love to look over and see them engrossed in the story.  They had seen it before, and my 6 yr. old grandson remembers some of his favorite parts. What a joy to see the look on his face.

What made my heart soar was as soon as I got to their houser, he asked if I brought any art supplies.  Even if it's just a doodle book, we connect with that.

And Little Miss is getting to be the same way, although she's also becoming a bit of a fashionista.  "Grandma, I love your necklace.  It's so fragile."  (Must be the word of the week!)

This year, I'm working on Project Life. For you non-scrapbookers out there, it's a project that lasts a year, and it helps you capture and scrap your everyday life.  How many times have you wondered what life was life for your parents/grandparents when they were your age?  Now is as a good time as any for me to have those answers for my grandkids. Our Scrap Cellar monthly meet-up includes getting our Project Life in place for the prior month before moving on to our other projects.  I think it will work out great and at the end of the year, there will be at least one scrapbook that shows MY life.  Part of my commitment to Project Life is also a commitment to write more in my blog.  I really do love the writing, and sharing pictures.  I just need to commit to it.

This year, we are heading to Idaho this summer. One of my many beautiful nieces is getting married and I wouldn't miss her wedding for the world. So we've decided to make a road trip of it and hopefully have my daughter and grandson accompany us on the way out.  Plans are to stop at Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone. We'll see what else we can pack into the trip.

Speaking of trips, I've had some wonderful mornings driving to work.  Caught these two pics on two different mornings.  Beautiful way to start the day, isn't it?

Okay, so I can't expect to pack in all the information from the last seven months into one blog post, so I'm going to save everything else for another time.

Oh, one more thing.  There's a new blogger out there, and I'm quite intrigued. He is the son of a fellow blogger and he's looking for truth. Please consider visiting Project Truth and sharing a comment or two. Jackson is a talented 19 year old and has won speech and debate competitions in his state. So if you're up for some good "pondering," his blog might be just the place to get you thinkin' about things.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Adventures in Gardening - Part 2

Yes, it's been a while.  I've been spending some time in my garden and have pictures to prove it.

Still enjoying the birds.  We get a visit from many cardinals, twice a day.

And there's always the bathing antics.  What's not to love watching them?

Quite drenched, and looking at me wondering what I'm pointing at him!

Beside our attempt to attract more birds this year, I also wanted to create a haven for butterflies.  For years,  it seems that I don't see many a lot of butterflies around.  When I was young, we saw monarch butterflies all over the place.  Not so much anymore.  So I've been adding more perennials that are butterfly friendly.  And it seems like it may be a success.  I've seen more this year.  In fact, my garden runs the length of my back yard and then wraps around in the back to almost the width of the yard.  And yesterday, I sat and watched a butterfly flit through the garden, taking in the sights.  About an hour later, back again, with a friend.  And every half hour after that.  I'm thinking I'm moving in the right direction in putting the right plants in.

I didn't go to any fireworks displays this year.  Actually, I rarely do.  I love the displays but would like them better without the BOOM!! (I also realized that staying home didn't save me from that.  The neighbors had plenty of BOOM!)  But I got my own little show from my garden.  Don't these look like fireworks?

July 5th

July 6th
What a difference a day makes!
Veggies are doing pretty good.  So far, my only concern is with the peppers.  I would think they'd be bigger by now.  But I'm patient.  Everything else is doing well, and most of what I have is organic and/or heirloom seeds.  That makes me happy!!  Didn't get a shot of the 5 gallon bucket with carrots, but they are also doing well.

Green Peppers

Broccoli - gotta figure out what is feasting on the leaves!



Sunflowers - Just cuz I like them!

Spaghetti Squash

Zucchini Squash
(I see a little yellow flower there!!)

After the birds dug up most of the zucchini seeds, I had to start some new ones.
We'll see how that goes.

We were blessed late in June with some crazy rains.  Temps were lower than normal, which might account for the lack of growth with the peppers.  Overall, I think the garden's doing well!!  And it's just so dang pretty to sit and enjoy!

Soon, we will have some concrete work done.  If it turns out to be exciting, I'll post pics!!

Enjoy the rest of your Fourth weekend.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Garden Visitors

One of my garden goals this year was to encourage a greater variety of visitors to stop by.  The winged kind, that is.  I started early this year, putting out food that would entice them to stop by, once the word was out what they could dine on!  And I've not been disappointed.  Of course we've had robins and sparrows, :

the cardinal

and the starling, 
(Can that look be any more menacing??)

But new this year are the rose-breasted grosbeak,  
Isn't he beautiful?
the goldfinch,

And the downy woodpecker. 

I attribute the arrival of the newcomers to the suet and the premium sunflower seed we offer them. We've also purchased a bird book to help us identify which species are there.  For the longest time, I thought these little redheads were house finches, but it turns out some of them are purple finches (it's the shape of the tail). I've also realized that some that I labeled as sparrows (females) were actually pine siskin.  
"Hey guys, move over...make room for me!!"

And there's always the joy of watching them enjoy the birdbath. I'd love to get more pics of the water being tossed around. I've got all summer to capture that.

I hope you enjoyed this latest edition of "Adventures in Gardening."