Saturday, December 16, 2017

What is my purpose?

I can't believe it's just a few weeks until a new year begins, but I am happy about it. There is something about December that makes me introspective and anxious. I guess because I spend time evaluating the past year as I come up with things I want to work on in the new year. My biggest struggle right now is dealing with a feeling of not knowing my place in the world ... still ... after 27 years ... I have not found my purpose and I don't feel like I ever will. I don't have a career because I became a SAHM once children were born. The jobs I have held the past 10+ years didn't hold anything long-term for me. While I could go back to school and obtain a Masters in something, I just don't feel that it would be worth my time and money plus I honestly don't know what kind of job I would want to have until retirement.

It is stressful for me on a daily basis to think about this. While I have enjoyed being home the past year, I feel like I should be contributing financially towards our retirement. We have no idea what the future holds for us in 20 years, but I highly doubt that Social Security/Medicare will be around. Even if it is, it is not enough to live off of. My husband loves me being home and taking care of the house. It does make things a lot easier for him because he works long hours and I am happy to contribute in that way. The kids will be gone and on their own in about 18 months (hopefully!) and our finances will actually improve once there are 3 less people in this house, so that is a good thing! I plan to spend some time in the next year researching my options. Maybe I will finally figure out what I am meant to do with my life. Until then, I will keep doing what I am doing - taking care of my family, enjoying time spent with my crafts and reading and spending time with my four dogs. Sometimes, the simple things in life are the best!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's feeling like winter

I'm still working daily to focus on the feeling of hygge in my life. To that end, I have set up this little display in the family room to remind me to slow down and enjoy the moments of the day.

I don't decorate much for Christmas, but I just have to share this sweet family of tomten that I found and arranged on the buffet. I so enjoy them and they go so well with my winter-ish painting! Tomten/Nisse/Gnomes are really "in" this year and I am hoping to make some of my own in 2018 to add to my collection next winter.

We had our first snowfall of the season this past weekend just like a lot of people around the world this week! We only received a light dusting at our home, but it was a little heavier as we traveled an hour north to visit with family. I so enjoyed the view on our drive!

I've been adding the finishing touches to cozy up my home for winter. I've been wanting to purchase some salt lamps because of the benefits of having them around the house. I've really enjoyed their warm glow and nightlight effect after dark. All of mine came with dimmer switches so I can adjust their brightness as needed. I've added them to every room and they make me feel happy & cozy inside when it is cold outside!

I've always wanted some large coffee mugs that look like pottery and I found them during an online flash sale at Pier 1 last week! They are large enough to hold soup or ice cream as well as warm beverages and were only $3.50 each ... what a bargain! There's just something about using beautiful things that adds to the daily routine.

I spent Sunday afternoon reading through a charming eBook that I got on Amazon. It is called The Winter House and it is a simple & quick read with lots of ideas to inspire one to enjoy the season. I have a large collection of essential oils and I want to use them more often. She had a recipe for one using orange, bergamot, lemon and sandalwood oils and it has made my home smell delicious for the afternoon!

The author has also written similar eBooks for the other three seasons of the year - Spring, Summer and Autumn. I am looking forward to using the ideas in these sweet books throughout next year.

Another thing I am enjoying now that the weather is colder is wearing my Solmate socks. I have had most of mine for many years so that only two or three of the patterns I own still exist on the website. I perused the new patterns and believe I have found a few new colorways that I would like to add to my collection ... I will let the family know so that they some gift ideas for me next year! It makes me smile to look down and see the mis-matched socks.

I am currently reading a biographical book about Laura Ingalls Wilder called Prairie Fires. It is a very good book!

It is over 500 pages long and full of historical information about the time period that Laura grew up in. I am really enjoying reading about this part of American history as it pertains to her life. I usually snuggle into bed about 9-9:30pm and read until 10:30pm. Doing this gives my husband some quiet time where he can watch his TV shows and enjoy some down time before heading off to bed himself. If you are a fan of The Little House on the Prairie series, the I do believe you would enjoy this book!

Christmas is fast approaching and I must get a move on to finish a blanket for my dad. So, my plan this week is to hunker down, watch The Crown & other series on Netflix and work as much as I can on it. I'm only about 1/3 of the way through so I have a lot to get done in 2 weeks! I hope that you have a good week and are doing what you can to enjoy the holiday season without too much stress!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Book Review: The Year of Cozy & accompanying coloring cookbook

One of my goals for next year is to make better use of my time now that I am home full-time. I can easily let a day get away from me just watching TV and browsing the Internet. I no longer want to waste time like that. I need to make a huge list of things I would like to learn, books I'd like to read or recipes I would like to try. To help me along, I stumbled upon a book called The Year of Cozy and, wow, is it a great resource for getting me moving in the right direction. It contains 125 recipes, crafts and other "homemade adventures." She also has written an accompanying book called A  Cozy Coloring Cookbook; adult coloring books are all the rage right now and this one includes 40 simple recipes to add to your collection.

The book is divided into the four seasons and then broken down further into months. For each month, the author includes the following sections: Live (ideas for expanding your life), Make (recipes), and Do (crafts) - she includes several ideas for each section. Below are some examples from the book. 

I felt that most of the activities didn't require ingredients or supplies out of the ordinary and each step is clearly written out with pictures to help guide you. I'm really looking forward to trying the cinnamon roll recipe - that is something I've always wanted to learn how to make! I've also wanted to learn how to make a good biscuit and that recipe is included here as well. Many of the crafts would make quick & easy gifts for family and friends and could also be used during a family activity night.

The coloring cookbook is adorable! I have a collection of adult coloring books in my home and this one is a great addition. As the creator of The Cozy Kitchen blog, Ms. Adarme's focus is on creating beautiful homemade "back in time" recipes for you and your family. She obviously pours a lot of time and love into creating these recipes and I'm sure the recipient of any homemade food you make will feel the love that you put into your recipes! Here are a few samples from her A  Cozy Coloring Cookbook. 

If you'd like to check out her blog a bit more, she just posted a list of 15 Cozy Things to Make this December. Check it out! I would highly recommend The Year of Cozy if you are looking for a book to help you slow down and enjoy the seasons in 2018!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Staying on Budget

Well, 2017 was a bit of a spendy year for us. We are lucky that Jim has an income that allows me to stay home and to pay cash for our purchases. We pay off any credit card balance each month and have done so for almost 10 years now. We had a lot of credit card debt early in our marriage when we were starting our family. We hated the feeling of it, but we chose for me to come home once we had children. Once I started working, we paid off our debts and made a promise to never carry a balance again.

Both of our children are in college and so a chunk of savings goes to that each year. I am happy to say that we will be done paying for college in 2018 ... woo-hoo! We plan to start Roth IRA accounts with that money in 2019. Then, I had my tummy tuck. Jim purchased a used motorcycle with my encouragement. He had one before children arrived and I had always told him that he could get another once they were out of high school. He enjoys a ride most weekends! We took a vacation to Vermont and that was so worth every penny. We had the best time and are already looking forward to making plans to get away from life a little in 2018. Not sure yet where we will go, but Jim loves the beach and we haven't been to one in a long time. I also stocked a craft room full of yarn! I went a bit overboard, but now I can just go to my shelves and pull down yarn whenever a project strikes me. I have to say that it is so difficult to avoid buying yarn ... the variety and beauty of it calls to me!

Soooooo, 2018 is all about getting back on track! I plan to be as focused on this as I am on my health. We need to replenish our emergency fund and start saving to pay off our mortgage. Our goal is to pay it off by the end of 2020. We get no tax benefits from keeping a mortgage and we just want to be out from under the debt. I have been doing pretty good managing my impulse to buy stuff. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone and nothing major was purchased. Now, I just have to keep that focus in 2018.

To help me, I have our budget in an Excel spreadsheet and I keep track of all income and expenses on it. That way, I can see at a glance what our current situation is. We do have a couple of home improvement projects that need to be tackled. We don't plan on retiring in this home, but it will need some updating in the kitchen and bathrooms to help with a future sale. However, those projects are not in the budget at this time. We will be working on the front landscaping in 2018 as we pulled out all of the bushes this past spring and never did anything else! Oh well, ....

I am looking forward to working on my frugal ways again. We have gotten off track with that, but 2018 is a new year with a renewed focus on the budget. I know we can do it!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Looking ahead to 2018

Every November and December, I start thinking about the upcoming new year and what things I want to learn, experience, improve, purchase, etc. I've decided to try and come up with 12 items, one for each month of the year. I like doing this more than I like making resolutions that I may not keep and end up feeling guilty about!

So far, here is what I have come up with:

1. Learn how to embroider - I planned on doing this a few years ago, and started the process, but never finished. I have some wonderful patterns that I am looking forward to trying. My main goal is to learn how to make all of the different stitches.

2. Using The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes book, I want to learn how to make good hard crusted bread for dinners. My husband loves French bread and has requested this of me and I am happy to oblige! There is also a gluten-free version of this book that I hope to purchase and try out as I try to limit my gluten intake.

3. I studied essential oils a few years ago through the Aromahead Institute and only have to write a research paper to become a certified aromatherapist. However, I have never gotten around to writing the paper. I hope to study my course materials again and finish a few classes that I never started as well as use my essential oils more to help me with certain issues. I might even get around to writing that paper!

4. I will join Planet Fitness so that I can get in a daily walk during the cold months. I love the cold weather, but am not keen on walking in the cold early in the morning. I was walking and lifting weights before my tummy tuck and I am ready to get back to it! Once the weather warms, I will head out to the local parks for some early morning walks. I do intend to be "fit by 50." I hope that one of the side effects of getting healthier will be that I can get off some of my medication that I have relied on for so long!

5. I love to read and have LOTS of books on my shelves that I need to read through. NO buying books this year! Whatever I read comes from my own shelves or the library.

6. Incorporate a low-carb and/or keto diet into my way of life. I love the keto cookbooks by Maria Emmerich, but I am really looking forward to her Easy Dairy-Free Ketogenic Recipes book that will be published in January. I have found that dairy and grains are not my friends. They both make me bloat if I eat them regularly. I haven't totally eliminated either from my diet, but I do limit how often I eat these items. I am also sensitive to nightshade vegetables which includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and certain spices. I limit these items as much as possible as well.

7. Save as much as possible into our emergency fund and spend as little as possible in 2018. I honestly cannot think of anything that I HAVE to purchase except for some clothes that I will have to replace because I am smaller now due to my tummy tuck. I have all of the crochet supplies that I need, but will need a few items for the embroidery. My husband and I each get $100/monthly to spend as we want and that should be plenty of money to buy any clothing or craft supplies I may need.

8. Focus on the concept of hygge and incorporate more of it into my life. I am looking forward to more crafting, reading and cooking new recipes. I also want to spend more time outdoors and find contentment in the smaller things.

9. Blog regularly. I enjoy sharing my life and all of the wonderful things that I find online. I started this blog with the intention of blogging regularly, but got a bit sidetracked. SO, I am making a commitment to be better about that. I don't expect to have any sort of online presence, so I am really blogging just for myself! Obviously, I will be sharing all kinds of information about the various topics that I am discussing on this page, so feel free to follow me and receive emails when I update this blog (link in top of sidebar).

10. Make hiking a regular weekend activity with my husband. Living near the Appalachian Trail and all of the wonderful mountains in my area (Blue Ridge and Smoky), I have no excuse for not making hiking a more regular form of exercise.

11. Research and find the best body and face products to use. Our skin is our largest organ so what we put on it matters! I've thrown out all of my Bath & Body Works products and am starting from ground zero. Natural and/or organic skin care is more expensive, but I feel it is important to find products that are not adding toxins into my system on a regular basis. On the other hand, I do need to balance this with the fact that the skin on my face and neck are aging and I may need the help of anti-aging facial products. I'm sure I will figure it all out by the end of the year. Creating a facial skincare plan is high on my priority list for 2018! I do intend to use the services of an aesthetician to get me started and my appointment is already set for January 5th.

12. Starting in January and working through March, I will be decluttering our home using the KonMarie method that I read about in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing which I purchased this past summer. I also bought her workbook, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, and will begin going through this book once the new year begins. I will be taking a very hard look at each item in my home and I do believe that we will have enough items for a nice-sized yard sale in April! We need some new landscaping in our front beds, so any money earned will go towards that home improvement project.

13. And, just to round this list out to a baker's dozen .... I would like to figure out how to make my own planner/daily organizer that works for ME! I keep looking at all of those fancy (and expensive!) planners online and none of them are just right. I started working on this project late summer when I bought an inexpensive planner at Wal-Mart. I ended up adding free printable planning pages that I found online to it to make it work for me, but never went any further with it. My husband says he can help me with this project, so I hope I can do it and have my very own perfect planner ready to go in July when my current planner ends!

Well, that's a pretty long list for the year. Some of these items I will work on all year, while others will only take me a few months or less. I'm looking forward to learning new things and improving areas of my life as well as doing the hard work to keep myself healthy. 2018 looks to be one of my best years yet!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Getting ready to hygge!

I feel like I already incorporate hygge into my daily life and have for many years. However, I want to be more aware of my daily activities and I want them to ADD to my life. You may already know and understand the concept of hygge, but it you don't then here are some more definitions to get you started. For the next few weeks, I plan on sharing more information on the concept of hygge and so I hope you will join me as we get ready for the colder months that lie ahead!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

6 Week Post-Op Update & Why I Got a Tummy Tuck

The last 6 weeks have been an adventure! I had my latest follow-up appointment with Dr. Reath this week. He said I am doing great and gave me the all-clear to return to normal activities as long as I am in no pain or discomfort. I am to let pain be my guide! The muscle repair part of my surgery is going to hold me back from long stretches of walking and activity for now. The upper part of my abdomen is still uncomfortable in many situations. In addition, my skin from top to bottom (the scar) is still very tight and so I fatigue easily because I end up hunching over after a while. I do hope to head back to the gym soon and see if I can walk on the treadmill for any length of time. I'm going to wait a bit longer to lift weights.

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of the changes in my abdomen. These are before surgery, 3 weeks post-op and 6 weeks post-op. The doctor removed 2 lbs. of skin and 2 lbs. of fat during the procedure.

There is not a huge difference between the 3 & 6 week pictures, but there is less swelling. Dr. Reath says I am still swollen and won't have an idea of my final result until I'm 6 months post-op and it will take ANOTHER 6 months for the final result to be seen. Yes, it takes 12 months for all of the swelling to go away!

I wear some form of compression on my belly 24/7 still. Dr. Reath says that I don't have to wear any, but I am to decide when it feels ok to remove all compression. Until my muscle repair is totally healed up, it feels better to wear a spanx during the day and my binder while sleeping. The compression helps with pain while the skin/fat layer is trying to mesh with the muscle layer again.

I had a drainless lipoabdominoplasty with muscle repair. The main reason I did this is because it didn't seem that any amount of exercise was working on this stubborn area. It turns out that my muscle separation was "moderate" which means there were 3-4 finger widths of space between them! No wonder crunches couldn't tone that area! Because I have insulin resistance and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) as well as hypothyroidism, losing weight is difficult for me. I was tired of looking at the person in the mirror because she didn't match who I saw in my head. Trying on clothes was an exercise in futility some days and I would come home frustrated and feeling fat.

Here is a graphic showing what I had done, except that I did not have the vertical incision and I did have liposuction to my abdomen and sides before he repaired the muscles.

This is me the day of my 6 week post op appointment and I feel so good about myself! I am 5'4" and 148 lbs. currently.

I am so happy that I did this for myself. My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner, but there was always something else to spend money on, especially paying for the kids' college expenses. Jim and I work on a cash-only basis, so it takes time to save up for things sometimes. However, this year, Jim decided he didn't want me to wait any longer. I did pay cash for my surgery even though it took some money out of our emergency fund. 2018 will be all about putting that money back!

Doing this is motivating! I turn 50 in a little over a year (January 2019) and I have this goal to be "fit by 50." I want to be toned and strong ... my weight doesn't matter as long as I'm in better condition that I am now. I want to be able to hike for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon with Jim. We have lots and lots of great trails in my area since I live near the Appalachian Trail. I like to run on the treadmill and some day, when I am healed enough, I will be able to run without my belly jiggling. And, who knows? I may even purchase my first bikini next summer!

I know there is a stigma around plastic surgery. Many people think it is the easy way out, but anyone who has gone through this surgery will tell you that the recovery is ANYTHING but easy! Having a tummy tuck has helped me to finally be happy with my body even though it is nowhere near perfect. There is still work to be done. I want to help take that stigma away ... women shouldn't feel that they have to do this surgery in secret. So I am putting my story out there in the hopes that others who are considering plastic surgery will remain true to themselves and do what makes them feel better.

One final note: I must say that I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Reath and his staff. They are truly caring and want you to look your best. Dr. Reath is easy to talk to, listens to you and answers any questions that you have about your procedure. If you are near the Knoxville, TN area, look him up and schedule your consult!

If you have any questions about my surgery, feel free to comment here and I will be happy to answer your questions!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Tummy Tuck - Day 9 Post-op update

The last few days have been full of ups and downs as I continue to recover from my tummy tuck. After my follow-up with my doctor, I seemed to take a turn for the worse when it came to my pain. My incision is quite long being hip-to-hip and there is a small 2-inch section that is actually indented and stitched quite tightly. That small area became the source of much pain on Day 7. I took a shower by myself early afternoon which gave me a feeling of accomplishment (baby steps!), but I couldn't move around without a lot of discomfort and by late afternoon, I was over it all! I had a little come apart at bedtime, crying and wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. My sleep that night wasn't great and I woke up discouraged. However, Day 8 (yesterday) was actually a good day! I was still uncomfortable and that small area still a point of great tightness, but it wasn't painful like the day before. I still took it easy and my son's girlfriend was kind enough to cook dinner for us all since my husband was going to be at work late. The evening wasn't too bad and I felt like I had turned the corner a bit.

Sleeping isn't my favorite thing right now. I have to sleep in a reclining position with a pillow under my knees. I am a side sleeper, but not allowed to sleep in that position quite yet. After only 5 hours sleep, I just couldn't get comfortable so I went ahead and got up for the day. Walking wasn't that bad and there wasn't any real pain, just a feeling of tightness. I was so looking forward to my shower and all went well. I still can't stand up straight due to the skin tightness in my belly. Most of the bruising from the lipo is gone, my belly button is healing well, a lot of the swelling has gone down and I'm back to a good weight showing that I probably have about 3 lbs. of water still to flush out.

I've been lounging in pajamas and stretchy yoga pants due to the belly swelling, but I put on a pair of stretch jeans today to help hold the abdominal binder in place and I feel almost normal! The extra help that the jeans are offering is also helping with the discomfort and pain and that is a great thing! My husband is doing the grocery shopping because there is still no way I can walk that much, but I do believe we will head out for a lunch today as I'm feeling a bit stir crazy anyway. I may look a bit funny walking hunched over, but it will feel good to get out!

Once my bruising is all gone and I can stand up a bit straighter, I will take some pictures to show you my progress. My husband says I look thinner already even though I am still a bit swollen!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tummy Tuck - Day 6 Post Op Follow Up Appointment

It has been almost a week since my lipoabdominoplasty and the last few days have been interesting and a bit uncomfortable.  Areas of my tummy are still numb and others feel funny when I touch them, while some areas are still quite sore and swollen. My incision is pretty well-healed with almost no drainage so I do not have to put bandages over that area any more. The doctor examined his work today and said that I am healing well and everything looks as it should at this point. One of his techs removed the stitches around my belly button. I must point out that my belly button looks exactly the same as it did before surgery - Dr. Reath preserved the shape of it and I am very happy with that!

Yesterday, Day 5, was not a good day. My belly was so swollen and I didn't feel like I could breath correctly. Turns out that I was holding a lot of fluid, 6 lbs to be exact. Dr. Reath told me that he removed 4 lbs of skin and fat during the surgery. I can't eat as much as I used to because he has pulled in the stomach muscles and stitched them where they should be. It will be interesting to see what I weigh once a lot of my swelling is gone.

I can now use Ibuprofen for pain relief and it will probably work better than the Percocet because it also helps with inflammation. My binders are my new best friends and I will continue to wear them daily until I return to the doctor's office in 2 more weeks. I cannot stand up straight yet and probably won't be able to for a few more weeks.

All in all, I feel like I turned a corner today and I cannot wait to see what improvements there will be over the coming weeks!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tummy Tuck - Day 3 post-op

It has been 3 days since I had my tummy tuck with lipo. The doctor told my husband that he expects me to have a great result. Of course, looking at my tummy now, I have no clue what to expect. It is all bruised and the skin is tight to the touch. My scar runs hip to hip and I cannot stand up straight at this time. All of this is what I expected.

I'm on a lot of different medications (for pain and inflammation) and vitamins to help with healing so I am making up a daily time table to keep up with taking them all. I halved my pain meds this morning so I'm not so sleepy all the time now. The pain isn't the worse part, but the swelling is so I wear a compression binder for up to 6 weeks. Constipation is a problem at the moment, so I need to up my intake of stool softener to remedy that.

I go for my 1 week follow up appointment in a few days and am anxious to see what Dr. Reath has to say about my recovery so far. I don't know how he can look at my tummy now and predict anything, but he's been doing this for 30 years, so I have a lot of trust in him!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Vermont, liberal rednecks and plastic surgery

Jim and I headed to Vermont the last week of September for our vacation this year. He had a plane ticket banked that had to be used by October 3rd so off we went to visit a childhood friend of mine that I had not seen in 38 years! She and her husband just recently moved to Vermont and were gracious enough to offer up their basement apartment to us.

We stayed in her home with her hubby and 3 cats and had the best time catching up in the evenings. Our days were filled with trips all over Vermont, New Hampshire and even a brief trip into Canada to get our passports stamped! I posted all of my pictures on Facebook and most of them on Instagram, so friend/follow me if you want to view them. We missed seeing the changing foliage by about 10 days because it was still so warm there, but did manage to catch some pretty colors in New Hampshire.

We made the most of our time - I ziplined for the first time, we drove to the summit of Mt Washington and just enjoyed being together!

The leaves are just starting to change here in east Tennessee and I am happy about that! Last night, we headed to a local theater to see the wellRED comedy group led by the "liberal redneck," Trae Crowder. The guys were hilarious and kept us laughing for 2 hours straight! The other comedians were Drew Morgan and Corey Ryan Forrester and all three signed their book for us. We had unknowingly purchased VIP tickets and so got to meet and greet the guys after the show - what a fun evening! Jim and I have decided that we need to do things like this more often!

This Thursday, I am having surgery. I have 2 areas of my body that I have never been happy with. Two months ago, I had my chip CoolSculpted and I am really happy with my results. While my chin isn't perfect (and I didn't expect it to be since I am almost 49!), I do have a lot less fat and would highly recommend this procedure. Here are some photos of my results:

So, the 2nd body part I do not like is my belly. It is obvious that I have had 2 children and I've never liked the saggy belly I was left with. I am finally at a weight that I'm ok with, although I do hope to tone up and lose a bit more fat in some spots using weight lifting and a keto diet in 2018 (after the holidays!). We had set aside money for a kitchen remodel and my husband suggested I use that money for my chin and tummy. Soooo, in a few days I will have a lipoabdominoplasty, the big word for a tummy tuck with liposuction. I am nervous and excited all at the same time; nervous about the recovery because this is a major surgery and excited to finally be happy with myself. I am going to take pictures of my recovery and will share them here as I heal. It will be a full 12 months before I will have my final result as this surgery causes swelling in the belly for a minimum of 6 months. I chose to do it now because I can hide my swollen belly underneath hoodies during the winter months!

Crochet is still a big part of my daily life. I have lots of projects that need finishing and I hope to tackle them while I am healing from surgery. I won't be comfortable for several weeks, so the family is going to have to help with cleaning and shopping. This means I have extra time on my hands and my goal is to fill it with crochet and reading. I've made a commitment to use my library more. It's silly to buy books even if I am getting them at a discount online or through our nearby used book store. I love the ease of requesting books online and letting the library hold books for me til I pick them up. The winter months are perfect for coffee and a book in the morning!

Well, I guess that is all of the catching up for now. I will write again once I feel ok enough after surgery to post an update!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Taking a trip

My husband and I are heading to Vermont soon just in time for leaf-peeping season and we are sooooo excited about this trip! It is our first vacation alone, just the two of us ... NO kids! We have gotten out the state map and, with help from a friend, we have some adventures planned. We aren't sure what we will do day-by-day because a lot depends upon the weather. Luckily, Vermont is a small state so we should be able to experience all of it in the 6 days we are there.

I am so excited to stay with a childhood friend that I haven't seen in almost 40 years! It was her idea that we come visit and stay with her and her husband in their downstairs apartment. She is very centrally located which is going to make our day trips that much more fun because we aren't hours and hours from anywhere! We also plan to take one day and drive over to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and visit that area as well.

From what I can gather, we are going to hit Vermont near peak season for viewing some spectacular fall foliage. Fall is my favorite season so this is going to be a very special vacation where we will make some memories to last a lifetime!

Friday, September 8, 2017

What I've Been Doing Lately

Our weather this week is giving us a little taste of the cooler temperatures to come. I've been wearing jeans and warmer tops and loving every minute of it. Autumn is my favorite season and I wish it lasted forever! My husband and I are starting to hike on Saturday mornings and boy, I can really feel it in my legs for a few days after! Last Saturday, I took along a small bag and collected nature items that had fallen to the trail floor. When I got home, I rearranged them into a naturescape and it turned out beautifully! I hope to make another one once the leaves start changing colors.

I've been working on several crochet projects. I have finished the main part of my hobo bag. I need to finish the top solid blue bordering and line it then add handles. I plan to have it done within the next month. I used King Cole Riot yarn in color Urban. I will be making another one for my mom this fall as well.

I finally got my mom to help me line a tote bag I crocheted in March. I definitely need to learn how to use my sewing machine! I'm currently crocheting thin strips from each of 25 colorways of King Cole Drifter yarn. They will be put together using the pattern Super Fine Sampler. This blanket will go on the back of our couch for use during cool evenings watching TV. I will post pictures of these items in a later post.

I plan to make this blanket during the warmer months ... the pattern link for the Chunky Monkey blanket was in my email and I already have the Stylecraft Special Chunky in my stash! It is just stunning ... so many gorgeous patterns that I want to make and I doubt I will ever be able to make them all ... so many talented crocheters in the world and I'm very glad that Internet is around so they can share their beautiful creations with us.

I've been feeling very tired these past few weeks. I know it's because I am eating food that I shouldn't be. Bleh. My joints and muscles are achy and I feel like napping in the afternoon so I know that I need to clean things up again. I can do it, but it takes so much effort to avoid all of the foods that trigger pain in my body. We have a vacation planned soon and it's difficult to eat well when a lot of meals come from restaurants. I will do my best, but I know it won't be perfect.

Well, that is what has been going on with me recently. I hope all is well with you!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Staying busy

I've managed to remain pretty busy these past few days. I am working on a rainbow baby blanket and it is coming out nicely.

I will post final pictures once it is finished, probably in about a week. I spent a little time Saturday night writing down the projects I want to tackle using yarn I have in the craft room. Looks like I will be busy for quite some time if I plan to make all of those lovely items on the list!

I upgraded my phone Saturday morning after a nice leisurely brunch at Cracker Barrel with my husband. I wanted a phone with a better camera so went from the LG3 to the LG6. I hated to upgrade after only 2 years because the phone is in great shape, but the camera just wasn't doing it for me. Here's a comparison of photos taken by the different cameras with the new one being on top. I did play around with an effect for the photo so it isn't as crisp as the original picture, but you can certainly see the difference in the colors which was my main complaint with the LG3 camera - the colors were never quite right. The great thing about staying with the LG is that I didn't have to learn the phone all over again!

My parents celebrated their 51st anniversary on Sunday and we all went to lunch together. Longhorn Steakhouse was so sweet and brought them a complementary dessert to share!

Mondays are usually my big "to-do" list days. I've managed to get through most of it, so will probably put the rest of my chores on other days this week. One big thing I worked on this morning was decluttering my bookshelves and pulling out books I no longer want to keep. That meant the final clearing out of books I had purchased for our homeschool - most of them were ex-library books and so not accepted by the used book store. However, my local library will take them and put them out in their used book sales, so I will be dropping them off there soon. It feels good to be getting rid of books that will never be read anyway. I did find that some of my books are worth selling so I will be listing them online when I figure out where the best place for that is!

My oldest starts his EMT training today at the local community college. He will take the Advanced EMT classes in the spring, sit for his certification exams and then begin working as an EMT next summer sometime until he decides whether or not he is going to pursue medical school. It is a tough decision to make as it is a TON of money through school loans and about 8-10 years of schooling/training before he would achieve his dream of being a surgeon. Some days, he isn't sure the dream is worth the investment and, other days, he is totally gung-ho about it. I think a lot will depend upon whether he gets into medical school or not on his first try. He also has the option to pursue Paramedic and Advanced Paramedic training/certification which would help him learn more skills and earn more money ... We will see!

This week looks to be a nice, easy week and I am looking forward to a lot of time for crochet and reading! I plan to review some books this week, so stay tuned!