May 20, 2011

A Personal Pre-Vacation Predicament!

I think it was near the end of last summer when the subject first came up.  Discussion began about the idea of all the siblings and our spouses taking our mom to the beach the following year.  We would have roughly eight months to save up the money to rent a huge beach house where fourteen of us would vacation for a week.  We would surprise her at  the family Christmas party with the plans. The Outer Banks of North Carolina would be our destination.  
Excitement built with each deposit of money made for our share of renting the beach house.  And that’s not all, for soon I was personally on a roll.  I  lost 10 pounds and 10 cholesterol points.  I could almost hear the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean as the waves rolled in.  I could visualize the colorful umbrellas and beach towels laid out on the hot sand.  It would feel really good to bake in the sun after a long  northern Ohio winter.  Though I still had more weight to lose, I was not only feeling good physically and moving around easier than I had in a long time, but I was confident the progress would continue.  
Before long, “The Holidays,” that wonderful time of year between Thanksgiving and New Years, began.  As soon as the calendar page was turned to November, it seemed like pumpkin spice lattes began appearing everywhere.  There they were at every coffee shop and all the fast food places.  It didn’t take long for me to get hooked.  You would think they were part of the new food pyramid.  Next came Christmas cookies, and everything else that sabotages the best of dieting intentions during that season.  But I really wasn’t doing all that bad.  I wasn’t losing any more weight, but I was pretty much keeping off what I had lost...until...
Winter just wouldn’t quit this past year.  Records were set for snowfall and cold temperatures.  Comfort food became the order of the day more often than not.  Memories of long ago winters and my mother’s good home cooking became reincarnated in my own kitchen.  The hard boiled eggs, salads, and fresh fruit of last summer gave way to pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy.  Still I did not give up the dream of being comfortable on the beach in a bathing suit.  As soon as winter was over, I would be able to get outside, get much needed exercise, and start dropping unwanted pounds again.
Supposedly we are having Spring now.  The calendar says it is May.   But the weather has been nothing but record rainfall and dark dreary days.  Nothing to make the body want to get up and get moving.  I’m beginning to panic.  We are counting “days until vacation” now instead of “months”.  Still I tell myself I have “time” to lose a few pounds before we hit the beach.
At one of my lowest psychological points when fretting about all of this, I found the book of my dreams while browsing through Borders one Friday night.  The title jumped out and screamed at me: HOW TO NEVER LOOK FAT AGAIN  by Charla Krupp. “Over 1000 ways to dress thinner~~without dieting” is the subtitle.  I really didn’t care how much this book cost.  I HAD to have it.
I have been having a great time using this book as my second bible.  Complete with pictures of the right and wrong way to dress, it is not only humorous, but it has helped me be a little more realistic.  Sure, I still want to lose weight...the pounds I rediscovered after I had lost them and the pounds that never did get lost over the long winter and dreary spring. But I set out to do the best I could with what I had to work with. 
I used to enjoy watching the TV show “What Not to Wear” with Clinton Kelly and Stacy London.  The lucky nominee would win a $5000 credit card and a trip to New York City to purchase a new wardrobe.  The only catch was the contestant had to follow the rules laid out for her body type.  I decided to have the same kind of fun, with Charla Krupp’s book as my guide, and instead of the big budget and the exclusive clothing shops in New York, I shopped my local thrift stores so I could practice my new way of dressing.  
Good results were almost immediate.  I started accumulating an affordable wardrobe of the “right” kinds of clothes, and I emptied my closet of stuff that didn’t fit right or didn’t do a thing for me.  Confidence grew as I became more comfortable trying new ways of dressing and faithfully following the rules.  In Charla’s book I have been introduced to clothing items and body issues I’d never even heard of before.  I had no idea that women were wearing heavy artillery underwear such as high-waist bike shorts and compression body suits that can extend from the midriff to the calves.  All to make the best of bodies that have muffin top bulges, big booty, Buddha belly, or any number of other “flaws”.  
If you’ve never been in, ah, my situation, you really have no idea how traumatic it can be to shop for a bathing suit.  But there is simply no way to have a beach vacation without one!  Yes, I’m what you might call a “mature” woman, but I’m not ready to wear skirts to swim in just yet.  And Charla Krupp says I don’t have to!  After trying on about a dozen new swim suits in stores, I found a $3 bargain at my favorite thrift store.  It meets all the guidelines though I would be happier if it was one size larger.  But for $3, it will pass.  But I still needed another bathing suit~~a new one that had as high a compression factor as shapewear.  So I went on line and searched through hundreds of them, trying to follow the rules without breaking the bank.  Charla recommended ordering nine suits:  three in the size I think I am, three one size smaller, and three one size larger.  The idea would be to keep one or two and return all the rest.  I felt lucky to find ONE suit I liked that seemed to meet all the requirements and it was about half the price of most of the better suits I saw, and with free shipping.  
I held my breath for several days while waiting for the new bathing suit to arrive.  Finally I saw the package stuffed into my mailbox.  My heart pounded with a combination of fear and excitement as I tore into it.  I raced upstairs to the privacy of my bedroom to try it on.  I pranced around and looked in every available mirror and from every possible angle.  Not too bad, all things considered.  It will work.  
My joy was tempered by the sudden realization that a high compression bathing suit does it’s magic for certain body flaws, but it doesn’t cover everything!  I still have what Charla calls arm flap and thunder thighs to deal with, and no bathing suit on the market at any price can help me there!  With vacation only two weeks away, Lord help me find an appropriate cover-up, and soon!

*a note to my gentle readers:  while this is a true story, it was written as a writing assignment and meant to be humorous.  I share it with you in that context. Please comment and let me know you laughed with me!

May 19, 2011

Spring cleaning, organizing, and thrifting...

I'm still enjoying my grand-maternity leave before I resume caring for grandchildren three days a week.  My days have been full, but in a different way.  Since our rainy spring has kept me inside more than normal, I've been using some of my time to organize things at home.  

I've been cleaning out closets and bookshelves, and filling bags for the Am-Vet truck to pick up.  I know there are many great charities to donate to, but Am-Vets make it so easy by coming right to my front door about every two months.  All I have to do is put the stuff out on my stoop.  This has become a  regular  necessary part of my routine because of my addiction to THRIFT SHOPPING!

The Salvation Army store was packed yesterday, as it was 1/2 price day.  Here are just some of the things that less than $15 netted me:

This cute candle goes with my decor and stll had the original tag on it.  It glows in the dark.  I snagged it for a mere 25 cents! It is about 7" high.

Also 25 cents, how could I leave this primitive-looking toy behind?

I forked over 50 cents for this pretty hanging basket of flowers.  All I needed to do was fluff out the bow and press the tails.  I stuffed tissue paper in the loops and held the steam iron up to it for a few seconds.  Presto! looks like new.  If I don't hang it inside somewhere, it will go outside on the people door to our garage.  Almost ALL of my outdoor wreaths are from thrift stores ~ we just have no protection from the weather and so if I have to toss them after a couple of seasons, it's no great loss to the wallet!

This was my "find" of the day!  A beautiful Christmas dress for my oldest granddaughter.  It is taffeta, fully lined, and has some amazing detail such as covered buttons on the sleeves, an invisible zipper in the back, and lovely smocking.  It's a Charter Club brand for only $2 and I doubt that it has ever been worn!

Elylah already has a nice long sleeved white shirt that will look great with this Osh Kosh Christmas jumper. Would you believe, $1?!

She spotted this one herself and I splurged $3 on it.  She loves "twirly" dresses, and this definitely fits the bill!

I've also been doing a little spring cleaning (pretending that we actually are having spring this year).  I'm enjoying it more since I discovered THIS:

Dr. Bonner's magic soaps!  My favorites so far are the peppermint and lavender scents.  I've been using this for everything from mopping the kitchen floor, cleaning bathtubs, sinks and toilets, to washing my wood furniture! You can read about these natural products here.  I have been able to find them at grocery stores or health food stores also.  It only takes a couple drops in some water and so I don't feel like it is an extravagance to use these soaps and I definitely am happy to use non-toxic products around the house.  A 16 oz. bottle is about $10.

One of things I cleaned this week was the sole plate of my iron.  Something had melted on it and it was a mess.  I was ready to buy a new one until I found this product at JoAnn Fabrics:

It is a non-toxic cream.  All you do is put some of it on the cloth in the kit, and run your hot iron over it until it comes clean.  Then you get any excess cream off by ironing a second soft cloth that is provided. It was well worth a half hour of my time.  It was a little expensive ($14) but not as expensive as a new Rowenta.  Next time I need to purchase this I'll be sure I have a 40% off coupon with me.

So how is it going in your corner of the world this Spring?  
Do you have any cleaning/organizing tips for me?  

"She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."  
Proverbs 31:27

May 13, 2011

Please meet my friend Hilary!

I've been meaning to feature Hilary Bernstein and her blog, Accidentally Green, for some time now.  Hilary is one of the young women I am so blessed to have in my life.  She and her hubby were friends with my son and daughter-in-law first and before too long,  they became our friends as well! 

Hilary has written a book with the same title as her blog, and is patiently waiting for the right publisher to discover her.  I know it will be a huge success when that happens, and I'm right there in her cheering section!

A gifted writer and an avid researcher of cleaning products, personal care products, and just about anything that affects the health and safety of her family, Hilary seeks to honor God by making wise choices in her everyday living.  In the process she has discovered that many of these choices are not only personally healthful, but are kind to the environment as well.  

Hilary and I have a lot in common despite our age difference.  First and foremost, we are sisters in Christ.  We both love a good bargain at the store, and we are both committed to the well-being of our families.  We take seriously our roles as keepers of the home front.  Hilary has joyfully accepted her calling to be a wife and mother, and  she uses her researching and writing talents passionately to help others.

I heartily recommend following Hilary's blog as well as Accidentally Green's Facebook page, where you can scour for topics that would interest you.  She frequently has give-aways too.  I was the winner of  these fantastic personal care products not too long ago.  

In fact, Hilary has a giveaway going on right now. Leave a comment and tell her I sent you!  Check it out!

"...let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

2 Corinthians 7:1

May 7, 2011

Life is good between the buns...

One of my sweet friends commented recently about my being on-the-go a lot lately.  It's true that life has been busy.  I'm still on my "grand-maternity leave" before I start babysitting again near the end of June.  So while I've been busy catching up with friends and family, organizing around the house, shopping, and doing some ministry-related things, I've had a little more "down time" than usual as well.  Mission accomplished!  My next goal is to find a regular time to read and write.  I may have to leave my house to do seems there is always something to distract me from these things when I'm at home.  Anyone have a suggestion for me here?

In the meantime, let me share what I've been up to.  Our church recently changed it's name from Hudson Community Chapel to Christ Community Chapel.  The reason for this is because we now have four campuses in  four different cities within two adjoining counties. Our new name reflects our unity as one church in several locations.  Our newest campus is in the Highland Square area of Akron, OH and it has been up and running for about a month now.  Hubby and I have been showing our support by attending there, and trying to discern if it is where we should be for a season.  It's a very exciting time in the life of our church, to plant a campus in the middle of an ethnically and socially diverse area of the city.  There is much work to be done and much to learn, so if we end up there, it definitely will not be for the purpose of warming a pew.  Prayers for direction would be appreciated!

My hubby and I maintain a blog for our church's local outreach ministries, and we are part of the Local Outreach team as well.  So we get opportunities to hear, see, and do local ministry related things and we are learning all the time about folks who are serving and those being served.  One of the things I've done recently is help organize a team of ladies who are willing to make casseroles, soups, and cookies that are delivered once a month to Rahab Ministries in Akron. Currently our church supports eight local faith-based ministries, and we hope to expand that number in the future as God opens doors and opportunities.

Something I've been doing on my "grand maternity leave" is trying to get a little one-on-one time with the Ohio grands.  Ethan is almost 2 1/2, and we recently spent a day together.  He is a precious and smart little boy, strong and full of energy too! 

My time with baby Eva, now 5 1/2 weeks old, has been necessarily limited so far, but I've had little spurts of time with her now and then while her mommy runs a few errands.  She is adorable and growing so fast I can hardly stand it.

Eva's first Easter

Last weekend I was blessed by a friend to receive two tickets to the Ohio Ballet.  So it was a date for Elylah and me.  She loves the theater and we had a great time enjoying The Wizard of Oz!

Here is my friend, Kim, and her daughter Sarah, who played multiple roles in this performance.

 I can't forget to tell you I got to attend the ROYAL WEDDING!!!

OK, so it was from the comfort of my family room...I invited my mom and two friends, Rachel and Jennifer, and we enjoyed a little tea party while we watched!

Yesterday my mom and I and three of my aunts went out to lunch at a special Italian restaurant, Papa Joe's.  We basically were honoring my dad's sister, Aunt Angie, who will turn 92 next week.  Doesn't she look great?

Another of dad's sisters, Aunt Mary Ann, who turns 80 this year, and my mom, 82

me with an aunt-by-choice, Helen, 91, who is Aunt Angie's sister-in-law

I have to tell you that these mature ladies inspire me.  They are full of life, and always look put together.  Aunt Mary Ann still has her hubby, Uncle Ed, who has some health challenges.  The other three are widows and each still live in their own homes.  Mom doesn't drive at all anymore; Aunt Angie drives minimally.  Both of them suffer from macular degeneration but otherwise are quite healthy. Aunt Helen has such great vision that she doesn't even need reading glasses!

For the Mother's Day weekend kick-off, I went to a lovely tea today with my mother-in-law.  It was held at her church.

Olena Stager, 85

For entertainment, this group, The Stairwell Singers, sang a medley of sacred music.  They were accompanied by piano, flute, and cello. Now that was a real treat!

Life is good between the buns...the only thing that could make it better is for my South Carolina family to be visiting, which we are hoping will happen soon.  With their 3rd little boy just 5 1/2 weeks old, Ellie's bow tie business, and Andy just starting a new one year venture, being mentored by a church planter, I need to be  patient.  I know many of you are away from parts of your family too.  It doesn't get easier, does it?