Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blogging for Bliss Round Robin update

To everyone who signed up for the Blogging for Bliss Round Robin:

I have the following names (complete with addresses and ready to participate):


There were a few others who expressed interest, but never sent me postal mailing addresses.  The Blogging For Bliss book is not going to be drawing names. It is going to be sent from one person to the next based on sign-ups received.  For complete details click here

There are a few of you who have been MIA and probably haven't even seen this!  So I'm holding up mailing out the book until after Thanksgiving.  If you aren't on the list above, but want to participate, please email me with your full name and mailing address to: scrapdreams(at)verizon(dot)net. 

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family?

That we all enjoy the season without a focus on the consumerism.

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?

The early birds have to wait until everyone is up. The children open stockings first. Then we open gifts, one at a time, each person taking a turn.
3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?

A weekend resort spa getaway for me and my best girls.
4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?

We love watching holiday movies as a family - our favorite is Elf.

5. What games did you play with your family growing up?

Life, Monopoly, Scrabble

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?

One gift gets opened on Christmas Eve. It's always new pajamas! It makes for great Christmas morning photos.

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?


8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year?

XBox 360 with Kinect, Dance Central game, and Motion Sports game.  This would be a fantastic family gift!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fitness Friday

Tales from the Scale:

Funny story. I chose Friday as my "weigh in" day because I read somewhere (I think on MFP) that if you weigh in on Friday, you've had all week to correct the mistakes of the weekend... whereas if you weigh in on Monday (which always seemed so logical), all those weekend OOPS's are there in the numbers on the scale. Which may be more honest, but is definitely de-motivating. And I need all the motivation I can get! 

In theory the Friday weigh in is a good thing... except maybe when you go out for a fancy dinner with your husband on a Thursday night. Or the Friday morning after Thanksgiving dinner! Last night I met Jay for dinner at Capital Grille - a very upscale fine dining place (he had a gift card) - and I definitely enjoyed myself.  Lobster Bisque, Delmonico Steak, sauteed spinach, fresh bread. Finished off with bit of cheesecake shared with Jay. 

So, I was expecting the worst when I stepped on the scale this morning.  Imagine my elation when it held steady at the number it had been reporting for the past several days:

Horrible photo, but I was rushing to get ready for Physical Therapy.  That number is down TWO whole pounds from last week!  So I was definitely doing the Happy Dance! For real. In my bathroom. Ready to step in the shower. Happy dancin'. Oh yeah. 

I suspect I was able to get away with yesterday's off-the-chart meal because it followed an hour and a half of sprinting through the Mall and weight lifting heavy packages while shopping for Christmas gifts.  That has to have burned some significant calories!

My goal for next Friday.... To be able to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner and all the naughty treats (Apple Pie and Vanilla ice cream, here I come!) but that I managed to hold steady with this happy number.  I'll be working on really watching myself the early part of the week and then watching portion control on Thanksgiving itself.

Body Wars:

Physical Therapy continues to go well. They've upped my reps on the leg press and added a few new things to my program.  The program now takes a full hour and honestly tires me out!  I've had precious little time to get to the gym. Need to work on that.  Just a reminder... have you stretched today?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Three for Thursday

1.  I finally made Mel's famous yogurt cake.  Mel describes it as a light, moist sponge.  I may have had some problems with the conversions because I ended up with something more akin to a heavy dense pound cake:

I used Cherry Vanilla flavor yogurt which was very subtle. Despite being so heavy, it was still quite tasty and I had no problems with takers here!  I think next time I'll try a little less flour.

2.  Thanksgiving is just a week away.  I'm planning on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, acorn squash, a veggie, and pumpkin and apple pies.  For those of you that celebrate Thanksgiving, what are the must-haves for your feast?  I'm ready to try something new....

3.  Don't forget if you want a chance to play Pass the Book with "Blogging for Bliss" you need to email me with your full name and mailing address.  I've had a few people comment that they want to be included but have not sent me their information.  You can get full details at the above link.

Now I've got another hour and a bit of work, then I'm heading out to the Mall for some Christmas shopping!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blogging for Bliss

I wanted to join in on Sian's Pass the Book party.  But with a slight twist.

Here's the book that is ready to "pass":
Book Description (lifted from

Today’s crafting community is online, connected, and blissfully blogging about their work and ideas. Blogging is hot in this highly creative world—and here is the only how-to book aimed directly at them. Everyone from knitters and beaders to scrapbookers and altered artists will find the practical information and visual inspiration they need to create an artful online journal.

Thanks to hundreds of gorgeous screen grabs from the very best blogs, a thorough introduction to the tools of the trade, and instructions that virtually take you by the hand, even beginners will swiftly go from blank screen to colorful, enticing pages. Those who already have a blog, but want to enhance their presence on the Web, will learn how to add banners and graphics, take the perfect shots, crop and size photos, establish links, and attract an audience of eager readers.

Blogging for Bliss is 156 pp, with inspiring photos on EVERY page!!!

Here's how my version of Pass the Book will work:

This book was a Christmas gift from my sister and when it has finished its journey, I'd like it to come home in the end.  So instead of choosing one lucky winner, I'm going to start the book on a round-robin. 

Everyone who wants a chance to get their hands on this book can play! (And if you know someone who would like to be included, but doesn't follow my blog, feel free to pass the information).

To be included, email me your name and mailing address to scrapdreams(at)verizon(dot)net. Make sure to get your email to me by Sunday, November 21st.

On Monday, November 22nd, I will compile the list of readers and send the book off to the first reader with complete instructions attached to the inside front cover.  Depending on the number of readers, each person will have a set amount of time to enjoy the book (I'm thinking approximately 3 weeks) and will then mail it to the next reader on the list.  This will obviously be an honor system, but I trust that everyone who chooses to play along will be considerate of the rest of the participants and only hold onto the book for their alloted time. I will do my best to group readers by geography to save on postage but some of you will have to be willing to pay international shipping - we are a diverse group after all! 

I will ask each reader to email me upon receipt of the book and when they have posted it to the next reader, so I can track its whereabouts.

I'm so excited to do this! Who wants to play???


Monday, November 15, 2010

From Hospital to House...

Today's blog post is brought to you by the letter "H". "H" is for "hospital" and "House" and "hurt" and "humor."

My happy day began at the hospital outpatient center. 8:15 a.m.  Nothing serious. Just my annual bewb-squishing appointment. 

Although I do not relish this particular procedure, I do believe in taking care of my health.  I just take issue with this particular test and can't help but wonder why a more suitable alternative hasn't been discovered!

I swear that before I began participating in this annual affront to all womankind, my bewbs were happy, perky little things. Each year, after being so rudely handled, they seem a tad sadder and more wilted for the experience. Surely this "procedure" can't be good for them? Can you say "crush injury"?!? It definitely hurts. In my case, for days after the fact.  Which I guess can't be helped. It's a necessary evil.

However, I am thoroughly convinced that if men had to have their precious family jewels smashed in a vice on an annual basis, until said dangly bits were flat as a pancake, a kinder gentler alternative to this particular form of torture would be developed forthwith! 

Just my humble opinion on the matter! ;)

And now I'm off to watch today's episode of "House" - a little piece of the hospital experience that I can actually enjoy!

The Simple Things


Click here to learn about this blog challenge.

You can't NOT love the color of the Japanese cut leaf maple against the
yellow leaves in the background.

I got in a quick 1/2 hour of raking leaves this morning from the
aforementioned tree in the background.

Ah, the pile, added to the curb.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fitness Friday & a Freebie


Hoping to make this a regular feature of my blog, but so I don't bore you all to tears, I'll try to include tips that are relevant for everyone when I can!


Yes, I totally lifted that title from Cathy Zielski.  But hey, it's too good not to use!  My good news for today is the scale is back at 178.5 which means I dropped that nasty little 1/2 pound I had gained last week.  After a week of very healthy meal choices and staying below my calorie goal, it also means that my body has once again reached it's former "happy weight" and I will struggle to lose from here out.  That's okay! I knew this was coming. I will do my best to make sure the numbers don't siderail me into unnecessary depression.

Even better news - where it really matters to me, my waist is down 1.5" from 3 weeks ago and my abdomen is down 2".  Since I tend toward the typical "apple" shape (carrying most of my excess weight around my middle) these numbers THRILL me! Weight around the middle is the unhealthiest of all excess weight to carry and is linked with increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer. So anything I can do to lessen that risk is great by me!


On the exercise front - I am now treating at Physical Therapy for both my knees and my back.  I've developed some trigger points in my right upper hip and right lower leg. I'm getting a lot of education about how the muscles, tendons, and joints of the body work together and the likely causes for the current pain issues. 

With my knees, the chondromalacia (also known as patella femoral syndrome or runner's knee) is a direct result of the disintegration of the cartilage under the knee cap - that's aging and you can't change that part.  But it can all be exacerbated by 1) overpronation - which I do and is easily treated with orthotic inserts and 2) weak quadriceps muscles combined with tightness in the hamstrings and iliotibial band - guilty on all fronts.  So my exercise therapy is designed to strengthen my quads and stretch out the hamstrings and ITB.

With my back, I apparently have a weak/tight gluteus medius muscle (upper hip) as well as a nasty knot in the soleus and/or peroneus longus muscles which sometimes feels like shin pain.  Again - stretches and strengthening.

In the meantime, I am cleared for limited use of the stationary bike and treadmill at the gym, as well as upper body strength training. I remain banned from the elliptical machine, walking hills, and Zumba class. In fact, I've now been informed that Zumba may never be a good exercise for me. Can you say BUMMER????

So here is my plea to all of you who are currently fit and not having body issues... stretch! Every day!  Don't end up like me. It is really important to undo the stresses we put on our muscles on a daily basis with a nice stretching program.  Information abounds with a simple Google search and most stretches can be done for free, with no special equipment, no gym membership, in the comfort and privacy of your own home  (unless you are Amy and currently "Living In It" in which case privacy is a rare and treasured commodity).

Okay off my soapbox! I still have my lovely cold and if DD1 is any measure, looks like this is one that gets a little better then comes back - repeatedly. Yay.

You're still here? Oh cool! Thanks for hanging with me... if you are still here, I assume you are waiting for this...

I've been working on calendars for Christmas gifts and as part of the process, I created this little bit of word art.  Then it occurred to me that I could share!  So I saved it in a .png file with a transparent background.

Those of you who use Photoshop already know what to do with it.  If you're not a digi scrapper, you can still just print this out on a piece of cardstock and use it as a paper element - but I'm not real sure on how that works.  The art is roughly 6" wide by about 2.5" tall, but can also be resized.  If you want to use it, download it HERE. (Choose "regular" download and type in the security words and then choose "save" to add the file to your own hard drive.) Ignore all the crap about long downloads, etc. - it took like two seconds when I tested it.

And if you do find a use for it, I'd love to see what you do with it! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

When you wake up in the morning...

I woke up this morning with the tune of Billy Joel's "Big Shot" running through my head, but the lyrics were changed slightly:

When you wake up in the morning with your throat on fire
And your eyes too crusty to see
Go on and cry in your oatmeal
But don't come kissin' on me...

Seems my subconscious has a good grasp on how I feel today!  But we can rock out to the real version instead!

And I'm planning to ignore my cold today by taking part in the Jessica Sprague Art of Digital Design Blog Hop.  Click the link for the beginning of the hop. Go through the hop and score yourself an entire mega kit of digital Christmas goodies! Gotta love FREE digi wonderfulness!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Five Things On My Mind

I have so many little things on my mind today.  Just thought I'd do a quick share:

1. A huge THANK YOU to all my wonderful friends who responded to my plea for help on my Mama Angst post.  You ladies are so awesome! I'm feeling so much better about the prospect of Sarah heading off to London knowing that there are people nearby willing to step in and help out my baby should the need arise. Love you!

2. Inspired by Pottery Barn Teen; Made by Me:

A similar cork board at PBTeen runs about $150.

I made my own - to match the throw pillows I made for the scraproom. This new addition to my office space cost about $40 in materials, all of which I bought on sale!
  • 4 piece corkboard tile set from Staples,
  • white core foamboard
  • and frame sets from Michaels.
The frame was the most expensive bit because the entire thing measures 24"x24" - not a standard frame size, so I couldn't pick up a cheap frame and had to buy the make your own sets.  But I'm so pleased with how it turned out and how it looks in my office space!

3. My Friday weigh-in I was up a half pound. I followed that up with three straight days of eating out and therefore eating over my calorie limit. It didn't help that I was feeling a little sorry for myself because I'm sick (again)(head cold, sore throat, cough).  But today have dusted myself off and I'm back in the saddle - determined not to undermine the good I've done so far!

4. Have you seen this?

A new FREE class over at! The time frame runs into the start of Journal Your Christmas and Picture the Holidays, but I've gone and signed up anyway! I never pass on a freebie from Jessica.  And I've never been disappointed.

5. I still have no idea what the format will be for my December Journal this year.  I'm glad Shimelle is posting the digital kit early so I can see if anything in that strikes my fancy.  I want to get it figured out before December begins so I'm not needlessly stressing about it. Are you ready? What have you decided to do?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mama Angst

Meet Sarah:

Sarah is my oldest, but still my baby. Of the three, she is most like me. She works hard, she loves life, she wants nothing more than to be accepted for who she is. She is an excellent student, extremely involved in campus activities, a real go-to kind of person when you need something done, and an all-around great kid.

It's bad enough that Sarah had to grow up and go away to college... so that I only see her now & then and she's living on a campus three hours away. Now, I'm headed for far worse...

In January, Sarah is leaving to spend a semester abroad. In London. That's over 3,500 miles away! Across an ocean. And as the time draws nearer, mommy angst is creeping up in a big way. I'm missing her and worrying about her just thinking about it.

But wait a minute. I have friends in the UK!  So here's my pitiful plea - one Mom (Mum) to another - I need advice. All kinds. Anything you think I should know!

What is it like in London? Is it generally a safe place? How easy is transportation for college students wanting to see Europe?  What sights are within easy travel that should be on her "must see" list?  She has to make or buy all her own meals - where are the cheap places to shop for a student on a VERY tight budget?  She's also lactose intolerant - how are UK stores about stocking soy milk?

Sarah tells me she will be living in the "Marble Arch" area. I have no idea what that means, but hope some of you will. I still am unclear how I will be able to communicate with my baby while she is away, or what to do if/when she needs money. I wish the school was giving us more information up front.  At this point we know her departure date, but don't yet know exactly when she returns beyond "late April."

So... any and all thoughts and advice GREATLY APPRECIATED!

P.S. Sarah would very much like to meet and fall in love with the Prince of a small European Country while she is abroad.... are there any available at the moment? ;) (Yes, this from the kid who is a Junior in college and whose standards are so high that she hasn't even dated yet!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Vision

Back here, I told you that I had something I wanted to share.  This quote is the lead-in:
"Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth....Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance."  Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
As a recovering perfectionist, I am embracing my imperfections. At the same time, I'm not about to give up striving to be my best. And right now striving means swimming upstream against the current, fighting an uphill battle, trying to beat the odds. And any other metaphor you can think of for basically doing what seems like the impossible.

But I'm determined this time. And I'm doing this for me. Not for anyone else. And I'm doing it for all the right reasons.  And by now you are no doubt wondering what the heck I am rambling on about and wishing I would get to the point.  Here it is.

During September I participated in the Live a Better Life in Thirty Days challenge.  I set some life goals for myself and some shorter term 1-3-5 year goals. And one of my major goals centers around wellness.

I created this layout as my vision of fitness in bits and pieces over the past six weeks. During that same time I've also seen an orthopedist and been in physical therapy for my knees.  The therapy for my knees has aggravated my back issues. It is all a vicious cycle that comes down to the natural aging process combined with being overweight causing me no end of issues. 

My goal stated simply: 
To be fit and fabulous by 50! 

To me "physically fit" is not a specific number on the scale or a specific dress size, although I would like to bring my weight into the range of what is considered healthy for my age and height.  Physically fit is about the ability to be active - to dance, to play, to participate in activities that catch my interest. Physically fit is about making healthy eating choices. Physically fit is about making the most of the life left in my body! It isn't a short term goal that I will reach and then quit - but a lifestyle change that will continue on. And I'm doing it in baby steps. Because I know that is the only way to make changes that will stick long term.

I started with making simple diet changes and lost a few pounds in the first couple of weeks after setting my goals.  Then I found My Fitness Pal and began logging my calories and exercise. In the 35 days that I have been logging in, I have lost another 7 pounds!  By the way, one of the best things about MFP is that it is FREE! ;)

Although I'm still in physical therapy, I have begun doing yoga again - carefully testing out each move and listening to my body to make sure I don't make things worse.  I hope to add some aerobic exercise back soon.

And now I'm holding myself accountable for my goals.  Accountable to me. Accountable to my scale. Accountable to MFP.  And I'm asking for your help too. To keep me motivated. To cheer me from the sidelines. To understand my struggle with sugar addiction when my family just doesn't seem to get it. To put up with my posts about how I am doing.  (I want to borrow an idea from Melissa and do a weekly "healthy living" post).

My 50th birthday is May 29, 2011. On that day, I want to feel good about living in my own skin. I want to celebrate that day knowing that I have done my best and that I am as healthy and as fit as my body will allow. I want to be the butterfly that has shed the cocoon and spreads its wings to the sunlight.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


If I had a million dollars...

First, let's assume that this money is tax free, that Uncle Sam isn't asking for a huge cut of it up front, otherwise, I don't really have a million dollars right? Second, let's assume it all has to be allocated to specific stuff. Not just put away for a rainy day. Here's how I imagine spending it:

1. $200,000.00  Create accounts for Rachel and Becca's college education. Sarah is already a junior, so not that we aren't providing for her, just that we are almost done there. $100,000 each should get them four years at a state-level university.  (Sarah's college tuition is more than double that figure, but she got some good scholarships!).

2. $140,000.00  For Jay - build onto the garage and over the garage, so he can have a space to call his own (he's always wanted a workshop) and we can have a nice master bedroom suite. And while we're at it remodel both upstairs bathrooms - wayyyyy overdue!

3. $285,000.00  Buy a small beach home - probably in Florida - someplace where Jay and I can retire to, or be snow birds. Luckily the housing market stinks right now, so the price tag on this would be less than otherwise.

Boy, I blew through $625K awfully quick, didn't I?

4. $30,000.00  Buy each of our kids a decent used car. $24,000. Pay one year of insurance for each $6,000.

5. $100,000.00   10% to charity.

6. $150,000.00   Wedding/Elopement accounts. $50,000 for each kid. They can either use it on a wedding or elope and use it toward buying their first home. Their call.  And yes, I know that $50K doesn't go far for a wedding these days. But I also believe they need to have some skin in the game to really appreciate what they are getting.  I spent a grand total of $2,500 on my wedding. My parents paid for the band and the flowers. Jay and I paid for the rest. Okay, that was back in the dark ages and all, but still....

7. $33,000.00  Hire a Personal Chef for a year. Just because I can!

8. $12,000.00   An electronics spending spree. A new digital camera for me. Computers all around (we are operating with some pretty old equipment here). The latest full version of Photoshop CS. Yes, I'm going top of the line!

9. Now if you are Mel  or if you've been unwittingly adding this as we go, you know I have a mere $50,000 left to spend. One mill doesn't go far these days, does it?  But I have BIG plans for that last $50K.  That is going to be used for a huge girls outing. I'm inviting all my best real-world girlfriends and all my wonderful bloggy-world girlfriends. I'm paying for the plane tickets. And the accomodations. And the food. I just need you to come!  And we are all getting together for a long weekend of scrapbooking and photography and story telling and giggling and eating yummy food and making crazy fun memories.  I can hardly wait!

Since I have no rich relatives and I don't play the lottery, my chances of ever having a million to spend however I like are fairly slim.  But it is a lot of fun to think about what you would do with found money and amazing how fast you can make it disappear! I didn't even manage to get DH & I new cars and I sure didn't get to quit work!

This post brought to your courtesy of True Stories Prompt 6 and The Barenaked Ladies.