Monthly Archives: February 2011

Amazing Friend, Amazing Gift

http://thewomaninred.typepad.com/blog/2011/02/the-artist-known-as-jan-mac.html

Someone did something wonderful for me this week.  If you’ve ever clicked the link on the side of this blog for “The Woman In Red”, you know Amber.

Well, Amber sat down with me recently at one of her fabulous parties and we had a chat.  She had all sorts of questions for me.  That conversation became *THIS* entry on her blog.

While we pretty much go through our lives never really knowing what people think about us, once in a while, someone gifts us with their candor.  It’s a very humbling experience.  I am a very, very lucky woman to have extraordinary people in my life.   Amber is one of them.  Thank you for the kind words Amber… and that necklace looks so much better with you wearing it!

http://thewomaninred.typepad.com/blog/2011/02/the-artist-known-as-jan-mac.html

Mystery Solved

In spite of tracking my eating, planning ahead, and sticking like glue to the plan, I’m up .4 of a pound this week.  It’s less than half a pound so I’m not freaking out.  Besides, I know now why I’m a little stuck.

For those of you who are female, you’ll understand.  I’m puffed up like a marshmallow.   I didn’t realize what was going on last week as I’m Peri-menopausal and this is NOT a regular thing for me.  Like 10 months in-between not regular.  One just has to look at my poor little footies to know that I’m retaining a lot of water right now.  On the up-side, my energy level is returning to normal and I feel really, really good.

We’ve totally transformed our eating habits.  The plan focuses on healthy grains, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein.  My body is definitely reacting to the changes we’ve made even if the scale isn’t.  I don’t have the drastic ups and downs in energy I was having before we started either.

I talked to my group leader tonight about this and she’s super-supportive.  Supportive to the point that at the end of the meeting I had to go tell her to not worry so much about me….I’m fine.  She was definitely fretting about me and I wanted to let her know it’s all ok.  It made me realize though how big a deal weight issues are with some people.  I’m sure she was fretting because even small gains 2 weeks in a row ( six tenths of a pound total) would be discouraging enough for some people to cause them to quit.  That’s not going to happen though.  I didn’t get here overnight and I’m not going to transform my body overnight either.

She suggested that I track on paper this week so she can review what I’m eating.  I also asked her about the amount of points I’m supposed to consume each day.  Because my weight is high, I’m expected to consume an enormous amount of points; so many points that I usually don’t eat them all or eat something JUST to fulfill my points goal.  I was afraid to tamper with the plan due to the “myth” that if you don’t eat enough you will put your body into starvation mode.  In talking to people and doing research I’ve found that you have to really deprive your body of calories in a big way before that happens.  She suggested I knock 10 points off my daily goal in an effort to kick-start things for me.  The thinking is that because I wasn’t eating thousands of extra calories every day the point content of the plan isn’t quite enough to make me lose.  I’m also cutting the last of the aspartame from my diet.  We’ll see what happens.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.  I’ll keep you posted.  Oh….and here’s a pic of another use for your roses.  I couldn’t find this picture yesterday but found it today while cleaning up my disaster of a hard-drive. 

 

Roses Are Red

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

If you’re lucky, you may receive roses from your Sweetie for Valentine’s Day.  They’re such a traditional and classic gift and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like receiving roses.  At least no one I know has complained to me about it.  While lovely, like all cut flowers, they eventually wilt and die.  If we’re quick, we can pull them out of the water before they’re past the point of no return, hang them upside-down, and dry them in bouquet-form quite successfully.  Alas, I’m seldom that on top of things.  I’m sure I’m not alone in having dead little roses bent all kitty-wampus  at the neck.  Such sad little guys.  At that point I usually pull the petals off them and tuck them away.  There’s all kinds of things you can use them for:

– put them in potpourri

– simmer them in a pot of water on the stove or float in a warming-pot

– crush them up and make rose beads

– use as confetti

– use in bath salts, bath teas, in soaps

– add to homemade paper:  see below

http://handmadecardsboutique.com/heart-rose-petal-natural-paper-fans-wedding-favors-set-of-6.html

I found this adorable fan online:  you can find it HERE

Of course, if you’re on top of things, you can get those beautiful petals before they start to dry out.  Use them like this:

– as packing material for a gift

– tuck inside a card or envelope

– tuck a few into your sweetie’s packed lunch or coat pocket

– write a message on a bed, scatter on pillows, or tuck into pillowcases

– float in a bowl with some candles and glitter

– hide inside the book your honey is reading

– float in a bath

– garnish a salad or dessert (use only pesticide free petals)

But my all-time favorite use for rose petals is to make Rosewater out of them.  Not only does Rosewater smell divine, it’s an amazing light astringent and can be used as a flavouring in edible delicacies.  To make Rosewater, it is important to use either roses you’ve grown yourself that are pesticide and chemical-free or to work with your florist to ensure that the petals will be contaminant free.

Rosewater Recipe

You will need a small canner with a jar rack and a curved-top lid.

Place the jar rack on the bottom of the canner and add fresh rose petals up to the level of the top of the rack.  Add distilled water just until the petals are covered with water.  Place a shallow bowl on top of the rack, making sure it is steady and stable.  Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Invert the lid and place it on top of the canner.  If it doesn’t seal well because it’s bent or warped, you can use a wide aluminum bowl, double-boiler style, but it must curve down over top of the shallow bowl beneath.  Fill the lid or bowl with ice.  As the rose-steam rises it will hit the cold lid, condense, and drip into the bowl inside the pot.  Every 10 minutes or so, quickly lift the lid and pull the bowl out to remove the Rosewater.  Replenish the ice when it melts.  Do this until the distillate no longer smells of heavenly roses.  Often, after an hour or so all you’re getting is faintly-scented distilled water, and you don’t want that.  Keep your Rosewater in the fridge and it will last a very long time.  I add a capsule of vitamin e to mine to keep any rose oil from going rancid.  This Rosewater is lovely in facials, skin creams, and yes, even in Indian, Jamican, Persian and Middle Eastern food.  I love it in icing on pretty pink cupcakes with a sugared rose petal on top.

So, if some total sweetheart gifted you with roses this Valentine’s Day, don’t just let them fade slowly away….DO something with them.  Come on….you can do it.  Just Make That Mess!

To Journal or Not To Journal

Something that I’ve noticed as I’ve bopped around the internet is that a lot of artists have these amazing art journals.  Many of them are works of art in their own right.  They range from child-like to masterpiece material. Here\’s some examples…

I’ve resisted doing a journal, mostly because I’m impatient.  I’ve always felt if I’m going to spend great amounts of time making a beautiful journal, I should just get on with it and do the piece I’m journal-ing about.  Here’s the problem with that.  I’m a planner.  I work things out in my head long before I ever put them into physical form.  I can think for days, or even weeks about a piece I want to do before I get to step one.  Unfortunately, that sometimes (even often) means that the piece stays stuck in my head.  There’s an up-side to all that mental designing; I can troubleshoot and tweak to my heart’s content in my mind.  If I botch it when I’m building it can be a disaster.  Really this just keeps me from doing something concrete.  I need to re-define my idea of what a journal should be and stop worrying about it being a work of art and view it more as a tool.

I did my research and found that the most-recommended journal was a brand called Moleskine.  They have a durable cover, an elastic to keep them closed, high-quality paper for whichever medium you choose, and they open flat so each set of pages can become one broad palette.  I bought myself one made for watercolour as I can use it for several mediums.

The best way for me to use a journal as a tool is to use it as a place to store images of things I want to use in my art.  I don’t do well at imagining things and reproducing them when it comes to painting and drawing.  I am better off and much more successful if I have reference points.  I have accumulated thousands of images on my computer of things I would like to paint: flowers, owls, birds, bugs, trees, deserts, landscapes, abstracts….the list goes ever on.  I need to start putting these diverse images together so when I’ve decided I’ve obsessed about something long enough I can actually produce it.  This is all about setting myself up for success.

There’s a painting I want to do called “Catcher”.  These are some of the images I have scavenged that I want to be part of the painting.  The easiest way for me to compile them for the journal was to print them out onto one page.

Now I have everything in one place with a blank page facing for sketching and/or painting….or whatever else I think needs to happen in this piece.  This finally makes sense to me.  Which is really the point of any type of journal, isn’t it?  It has to work for US or there’s no sense doing it at all.

Part of the reason for this journal-excursion that I also have a fair bit of time at work where I can do things artistic.  The problem is that the space is very limited and it’s tough to make sure I have ALL the supplies I need when I try and do something there.  There always seems to be something critical missing, no matter how carefully I pack.  This journal is a way for me to do things there that put me closer to completing larger pieces.  I get stuck…a lot.  This is just one of the ways I’m going to work at getting un-stuck.

I’m obsessed with houses these days.  With what houses mean to us, whether it be home, safety, shelter, prison, cocoon or something else altogether.  Houses. Little Pink Houses.  Sounds like an idea for a series.  Or for a song.  *grin*

Grrrrr…..

I’m going to rant now.  Fair warning.

So it’s Weigh-in day at Weight Watchers.  And I’m pissed off.  I measured and counted every single thing I consumed this week.  I was between 4 and 14 points UNDER my consumption requirements 4 days out of 7 and went over only on one day, was right on target the others.  I only used 8 of my weekly bonus points on the day I went over.   I drank my water and ate my veggies.  And I gained .2 of a pound.  AAArrrggghhhhh……

I know someone’s going to say I didn’t eat enough and put my body into starvation mode.  There is NO WAY I didn’t eat enough.  There is also no way I ate more than I was supposed to.  So.  What to do now.

I’m going to keep on going….hopefully next week will be better.  Maybe my body is adjusting…maybe it’s hormonal.  Who knows?  I’m going to completely cut aspartame out of my diet this week as well.  I’m still drinking a moderate amount of diet soda and I’m going to quit altogether and see if that helps.  There is research that appears to show a link between aspartame consumption and the inability to lose weight.  So I’m going to try that.

I’m also boycotting PepsiCo.  I’m so mad at them I just want to spit. THIS IS WHY. This company makes billions of dollars a year off of FAT people and they have the nerve to do this??  And I quote:

“Diet Pepsi will soon be available in a “taller, sassier new Skinny Can” that the company says is a “celebration of beautiful, confident women.”  I also love how at the end of the article they say that the old “fat” packaging will still be available for those who prefer it.

So I’m not going to buy anything made by a company that chooses to celebrate “beautiful, confident women” by manufacturing a “skinny” can.

/rant over