Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tax Time

Now with Christmas done, it is time to get my records in order for taxes. I had been updating things quarterly so it shouldn't be too much of a hassle. Still, I would much rather be creating art or out skiing. This is definitely not my favorite thing to do!

One good thing, my husband got notification from the state for unclaimed property, about $86.00. I have tried,myself, to look up whether there was unclaimed money floating around and never found anything under my name, guess I should have looked under his. Anyway, a nice unexpected surprise.

Cashcrate- $20.35 for month of dec
Inbox Dollars- $18.34
Send Earnings-$17.60

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Paid Surveys, Do They Really Pay?

I decided to research paid surveys to see what they were all about. In the past, I was totally turned off by them because you had to sign up for offers that usually entail a free trial period , then if you didn't cancel in a certain amount of time, you were stuck paying a monthly fee.

I did a search on the internet and tons of information about surveys abound. It was tough going through it because most people were pushing certain sites that they were affiliated with. If you signed up through them, they would get compensation for the referral.

I think it is very hard to find all the survey sites online. Many don't advertise that heavily so they will not show up in the searches. I signed up for paidsurveysonline. It's a site where they list many survey sites and you have to pay a fee to access it. It was OK but not great. There were a lot of broken links. Also the big survey sites, I already knew about. Still there were some that I had never heard of. Supposedly all these sites checked out and are legitimate. They are not supposed to scam you.

Here is a blog that I found that rates the different paid survey sites and I think he does a great job, Paid Survey Scams.

Right now, I have made about $50.00 + dollars doing several $1.00 or less surveys. I just did one today that was $5.00. Cashcrate is one that I only do the daily surveys on, I don't do the offers. I did have 3 people sign up under me and made about $5.00 from those referrals. I received my first check from Cashcrate for $11.40 so they do pay when you have $10.00 or more in your account. Another site is and They have $1.00 daily surveys. is another one that is offering $1.00 and $.75 daily surveys. I don't qualify for every survey but I do qualify for quite a few. Still I am researching the paid surveys that pay $5.00 and up and they are out there. I am hoping that more and more of my surveys will be in the $10.00-$35.00 range.

I have two separate emails to handle the surveys and all the spam that comes with it. I did do a couple of offers but some places will not let you cancel in a timely fashion so I decided to not do anymore. I am spending an hour or less per day taking 1-4 surveys. Some go about 10 minutes, most are around 20.

All my earnings are going into buying GET ( Guaranteed Education Tuition) credits for my younger son. I already have 2 years of tuition bought for him and I am hoping the surveys will help me buy the next 2 years.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Interesting Facts is Debatable

I have been tagged by Catherine at La Perle and I must come up with 5 interesting facts about myself. This is going to be hard:

  • I worked as an aphid specialist . There are only a handful in the world that can identify different species of them. Was second author on a book about identification of species.
  • I am the owner of two donkeys, Poncho and Yoshi. They are very good alarm clocks. Don't need a rooster to get you up in the morning when these two guys are around.
  • Whitewater rafted for the first time in my life, last year. It was a great experience!
  • Competed in a couple of horse shows and placed in both.
  • Would love to learn the guitar, speak Spanish and become a good ballroom dancer
Glad I only had to come up with 5 things. Anymore and I would have been in trouble.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Stress Free Christmas

My goal for this year is to really enjoy Christmas and not get stressed out. In previous years, I remember just baking into all hours of the night, buying gifts and doing so many things like crazy. I literally wore myself into a frazzle. Christmas would come and go. Then it was like a huge letdown. I would get depressed , then I would get physically sick because I had been going on overdrive all through December and it would finally catch up with me. All in the pursuit of having a perfect Christmas for my family. I remember calling one of my friends after the holidays and she was sick with a horrendous cold and sinus infection. No doubt she was trying to have the perfect Christmas too.

For this holiday season, I think my attitude has been a lot different. I don't even have my Christmas decorations up or the tree yet and that is OK with me. I bought a lot of gift cards instead of hunting for hours for the perfect gifts for people. I don't bake anymore, just make peanut brittle and that wasn't too bad. I am meditating and exercising more and truly that has made a tremendous difference.

We have been invited to a lot of Christmas parties and usually I don't like to go because I am tired and stressed but this year I've gone to a couple and it was fun. Now I look forward to going to the rest.

I am also looking forward to seeing my college son this week. In the scheme of things, all these Christmas trappings really don't matter, it's about being with the ones you love and spending time as a family. As my older son prepares to leave the nest for good, I know these days are numbered and I just want to make the most of the time we have together.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Gluten Sensitivities Vs. Celiac Disease

I decided to revisit the idea of going with a gluten free diet for my teenage son who has been having chronic digestive problems since June of this year. I had him tested for celiac disease and it came back normal. I have been reading about people who tested negative too but decided to go gluten free anyway and found out that was the cause of their health problems. I have to admit I really dread making the switch. I live in a small rural town and getting gluten free products will be a nightmare. As it is, I am going to about 5 different stores to get my son's enzymes, probiotics, rice milk products, rice chips and etc. If gluten is taken out of the mix, I am not sure what I will do. I guess if worse comes to worse, I can order gluten free products off the internet and have them shipped. I don't know what people did in the pre internet days!

My friend's daughter worked as a nanny for a woman who's child was autistic. The mom had to cook everything from scratch and the little girl was on a gluten free, dairy free diet. My friend's daughter was hired because the mom knew she would have to spend quite a bit of time preparing food and so needed an extra hand with her girl. I already have had a taste of what the time requirement will be just with the diet restrictions we have already made. The gluten free diet will definitely be a huge challenge.

I was trying to understand the complexities of testing for gluten and it turns out that it is not gluten but a molecule called gliadin that is the culprit. This can be found in some gluten containing foods but not all. Rice, corn, buckwheat and millet have gluten in them but not gliadin and so are considered safe to eat. Another thing I found out is that people may not have tested positive to celiac but have high levels of the igG-gliadin antibody. Studies have shown that when these people went on a gluten free diet, many of their symptoms improved or went away totally. A lot of labs used to test for this antibody but because they thought it was of little significance, they don't anymore. I have to do some investigation to see if my son was specifically tested for this antibody and what the results were.

About 1 out of 150 people may be gluten intolerant. I think that number is huge. I am noticing that the grocery stores are carrying more gluten free products, however one still has to be careful because gluten free does not necessarily mean gliadin free. My son's health is on the line here and so I am willing to try anything and perhaps going gliadin free will be the answer.

Friday, November 30, 2007

In the Midst of Winter

It snowed about 7 to 8 inches on Thursday. The weatherman was totally off the mark as he said it would be just a couple of inches at the most and not even that. Still it was beautiful, seeing all the trees with their branches covered in snow. Even dusted off my cross country skis and went out in the backyard and gave them a work-out.

So in the midst of winter, I decided to paint peonies. A customer was interested in some although I am not sure they would necessarily want this one but it gave me an excuse to escape the winter cold.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Circle of Friendship

I finally finished all the ankle bracelets this weekend. Here is a photo of one. I apologize for my not so good photography. I found some cute little boxes to put them in at Michaels. I made a matching tag that says:

Our circle of friendship grew from a few to ten
Like this chain, may our bonds remain unbroken until the end.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gift Giving Ideas

It's that time of year again and I realize that my Christmas shopping is far from done. Usually, I will have about 75% finished by this time. Many times I will start back in July, looking for the summer bargains. However, it is getting harder and harder to buy gifts for my friends and their kids. Especially the kids, so this year, I will probably be giving a lot of gift cards to their favorite stores. Luckily, I started putting back about $400.00/month in August to cover some of these gifts plus gifts for my kids and family.

Since we had to pay a lot for college expenses and car repairs, I decided to also make some of my gifts. One idea was to give a living wreath to some of my neighbors and friends. I found some Christmas green and red pots at the end of summer on sale for $10.00/pot. We had plenty of English ivy growing in our garden. Got some berries from Michael's. Will add a bow later. But here is what they look like:Also got some Christmas tins on sale for 50% off. Will fill them with my soft peanut brittle. I've made it two years in a row and it has been a big hit. Here is the recipe:

Peanut Butter Peanut Brittle
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 2 cps salted peanuts
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
Combine sugar and water in heavy saucepan. Bring mixture to full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in corn syrup. Cook to hard crack stage, 300 degrees.

Meanwhile,mix peanuts, peanut butter and vanilla. Remove syrup from heat; at once add peanut butter mixture and soda; stir. Working quickly, pour onto buttered cookie sheet; spread
with fork, break into pieces.

For my women's group of 10, I have been working on some wirewrap jewelry. I am making them all matching ankle bracelets signifying our circle of friendship. It's my first experience making this type of thing but after a couple of days of practice, I think I have got the hang of it. Definitely much better than buying them each a gift and much more economical too.

Just a few ideas for the holiday season.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No Improvement

I talked to my dad over the Thanksgiving holiday and it sounded like there was no real improvement in his condition. He had gone to the pulmonary specialist on Monday and basically was told to go home and wait until the middle of December and they will do another CT scan. If the CT scan shows no improvements, they will have to biopsy the lungs.

They measured my dad's blood oxygen levels and he was borderline for normal. I could tell my dad was discouraged. He's been trying to use the oxygen just at night while he sleeps but not during the day. His O2 levels are not coming back to normal on their own. I could not believe his doctor did not check him to see if he still had pneumonia. That was what they originally diagnosed him with when he was taken by ambulance to the hospital , a few weeks ago. It makes me wonder if my dad ever had pneumonia in the first place. Anyway, my dad had a coughing spell and he could not catch his breath. That had to be very scary. It's just going to be another long drawn out process for a diagnosis. In the meantime, my dad is suffering and I am frustrated.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Personalizing a Gift

My husband had given me the Xyron Personal Cutting System back in September. I hadn't had a chance to use it until now. It's a die cut machine that will cut out different letters and shapes. Since I do scrapbooking occasionally and also a little card making, I thought it would be a good asset to have. I assembled everything according to the directions and then turned on the machine. I plugged in the template.The machine worked but the template did not. I unplugged the book and replugged it back in. I did it several times and nothing. I went back to the directions and it said to do what I was doing. This was great, I just happened to see the warranty cards fall out of the instruction book. The machine is under warranty for 1 year provided that I send in the card, 30 days after purchase. Let's see this was purchased back in the middle of September... Oh well! There was a phone number to call tech support and I found that was nonexistent. I finally went online and read there were several complaints about the pads used for this machine. Great. Finally a miracle happened and the template just started working and I was able to cut my letters.

I was looking for a special birthday gift and I found this necklace thru Chinacat Creations. Actually the necklace shown is not the one I ordered as I have wrapped it. She sent this one by mistake and then resent the similar Dance necklace that I had wanted and a pair of matching earrings to make up for the error. I was totally delighted to get the surprise. It's a beautiful necklace.

I wanted to make a personalized card that would match my gift. So I used the machine to cut out the letters of the word "Dance" and I designed a simple card. The gift is for my friend. We took several ballroom dance classes together with our husbands. My friend approaches life with happiness, joy and great passion and I thought the word, "Dance" was just a great metaphor for how she lives her life.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Creating a Healthy New Lifestyle

My husband believes I have lost my mind and he has not been too happy with me. It all started when I read, "More Natural Cures Revealed" by Kevin Trudeau. Then I went out and bought the first book , "Natural Cures" by the same author. Now I am one that does not necessarily believe everything she reads. I am a skeptic but certain things do ring true in the book although not everything.

I would like to make some changes in our household. Changes that will cost some $ and I think my husband is upset about that. Also he thinks a lot of this is hocus pocus and I know it will be a battle to overcome his way of thinking. I don't blame him, he is a scientist and he works with a lot of man made herbicides, the kind that are used on crops that we eat, the kind that are blasted in the book so I can see why my husband is a little upset with it all.

One of the concepts in the book is that prescription and non prescription drugs just mainly treat the symptoms of our illnesses but never really the cause of it. That I know is true. Trudeau believes that illness and disease are caused by 4 things:

  • toxins that have built up in the body
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • electromagnetic chaos
  • stress
Everything we own and use has some toxins in it. The carpet, our sheets, even our shampoo, toothpaste and lotion have it. Anything that you cannot eat, you should not put on your skin is what Trudeau says because your skin is a living organ and chemicals can be absorbed thru the epidermis into your body. Propylene glycol is one that is found in lotions and other skin products. As a former lab technologist, I used to work in Entomology. Propylene glycol was something we used in our insect traps, to kill the insects and preserve them. Since I had to work with this chemical, I read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and it listed its toxicity and how dangerous a chemical it was. As I recall, it was nasty to work with so I had to go through my insect samples under a fume hood . True enough, I looked on the bottles of one of my lotions and propylene glycol was listed as an ingredient.

We have a well that was tested a few years ago and it showed there was a high concentration of nitrates from farmers fertilizers . When my kids were young, we drank just bottled water because younger children cannot tolerate nitrates as well as older kids and adults. As they grew older , we switched back to well water. I would like to get a reverse osmosis filtration system for our house. My husband has been fighting me on this for awhile.
One of my friend's husband was having a lot of heart trouble and it was linked to a chemical found in their well water. It seemed a farmer up the road had been dumping a large amount of chemicals onto his land over several years and it gradually found its way into my friend's drinking water. Another family was also affected and in their case, their kids grew up and had children with serious birth defects, most likely associated from exposure to this chemical.
The reverse osmosis will take out a lot of things but I was told ultraviolet light will also be needed to breakdown any chemicals left in the water.

I have teflon cookware. I remember hearing about the teflon flu which people got when they turned up the heat on their pots and pans. I decided I would get rid of it all and replace them with aluminum cookware.

A lot of us are lacking in vitamin D. I even heard Dr. Oz ,on the Oprah show, say that he believes that it is because of the lack of this vitamin that you see a lot of cancer, MS and several other diseases. Being in the sun can help offset that. We are inside so much that we don't get exposed to natural sunlight.

Trudeau says to eat only organic vegetable and organic chicken and beef. He says to stay away from pork because of the retroviruses that we can consume and that may cause havoc in our bodies. (My husband used to work for an organic food company and they were only allowed to use natural chemicals and fertilizers on the crops. However some of those natural chemicals were a lot more toxic than the man made ones so not everything organic is necessarily safe.)
He also says to stay away from shellfish because they are the bottom feeders and will have a lot of toxins stored in their tissue. Farm raised fish also have been fed certain foods that have toxins in it . I know that I read something about this too, a few years ago.

Microwaving food also can be harmful because it changes the energy of the food and makes it a lot less healthy. This would be a hard one to give up. The microwave has made life so much easier. I will have to research this further.

I always wondered about what happened to all the hoopla with cell phones and cancer. I remember people were getting brain cancer and it was because they were in close proximity to the electromagnet energy from the phones. According to Trudeau, the risk is still there but not only from phones but from computers, microwaves , tvs and the list goes on. My kids both have cell phones and have them on 24/7. I wonder what will happen in 20 to 30 years , will they be adversely affected because they used this technology?

I would like to make a few changes to the household to try to create a healthier lifestyle. I certainly don't want to go overboard but there are a lot of things I need to research more to see
if it would make a difference.

I have to say that I can't recommend Trudeau's Natural Cures site. He is a very controversial figure and he does not offer this info for free. As with anything, one has to proceed cautiously with the information that is out there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Doctor's Visit

I finally got in to see my physician's assistant. I really love her because she spends a lot of time with her patients and she is very thorough and competent. Anyway, I told her about my
lightheadness and she said it sounded like vertigo. She checked my eyes, ears, nose, lymph glands, hearing,heart, lungs,blood pressure, and coordination. She said after checking everything that my brain functions were normal. I think my husband would beg to differ on that but certainly that was good news. She was telling me that she was having similar symptoms and that they eventually went away after about a month. Could be an inner ear problem but it's going to have to be a wait and see deal. She's sending me for blood work to check things in general and my thyroid too. Anyway, I felt a little better leaving the office. Now I have to get ready for my college boy as he will be coming home tomorrow for Thanksgiving break. I am supposed to host the dinner for friends next Thursday so I need to get my act together and start preparing for that.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is it Perimenopause?

I have been experiencing dizziness in the past few days and it has been a little scary. It's weird because I have never had a problem with dizziness before. My hair also has been falling out too and I am afraid I could be bald in a few years. I have been experiencing heart palpitations which I suspect is related to perimenopause. I was surprised to see how many symptoms can be caused by it:

  • Changes in pattern of periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats often followed by a chill
  • Trouble sleeping through the night
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood changes, feeling crabby (probably because of lack of sleep)
  • Trouble focusing, feeling mixed-up or confused
  • Hair loss or thinning on your head, more hair growth on your face
Not only that but you can have urinary incontinence, lack of libido and dizziness are other symptoms too. Fun stuff! Guess I will have to get checked out to see if that is what is going on with me.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Two Birds with One Stone

I decided to do a low key party for my BF who will be turning fifty this month. Luckily, I belong to a neat group of 9 women and they jumped in to help me. My one friend, who has been laid up for the past 3 weeks, is going to host it. The rest of us will be bringing food. I am bringing the decorations and the drinks. A couple of the girls are baking and decorating a birthday cake. This party is supposed to provide company for my laid up friend and be a surprise party for my BF. So it will kill two birds with one stone.

The recipe that I am bringing, I have a made a couple of times and it has been good. It's a low fat chicken recipe. I have been making it for Andy, who gave it his seal of approval.

Asian Chicken Noodle Salad

  • 4 cps of thinly shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cp of peanut butter (creamy)
  • 1/4 cp of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tbs[ sugar
  • 1 tbs minced ginger
  • 3 tbsp chicken broth
  • 12 oz linguine
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 4 scallions chopped
  • 1 small red pepper chopped
Boil linguine. Rinse in cold water. Put in bowl. Blend peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, chili garlic
sauce, sugar, ginger, and broth until smooth.
Add chicken, carrots, scallions, pepper strips to linguine and toss. Pour peanut sauce over mixture and toss.

* The chili garlic is spicy so I usually don't add the full amount. Also I saute all veggies since my son has digestive problems.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Loosen It Up

I decided that I would like to develop the abstract side of my art a little more. I took a class a few years ago from a very well known artist who did this type of art. It was a tough class because I had no idea how to create art like that. In the past, I thought there was nothing to it, a monkey could paint this way. When I took the class, I realized it was not going to be easy. The teacher wanted us to come up with our own original pieces , she did not want us to copy her style . The teacher had us take paintings that we had done, tear them up, rearrange the pieces in different order and then repaint the new picture. She also had us draw things and really exaggerate the form. By the time I was done with that class, I had a healthy respect for the abstract.
Raining Blue- Mixed Media Acrylic and Watercolor

I usually do very realistic art but I want to loosen it up a little bit and so here are some small pieces that I have done:

Heavens and Moons- Mixed Media Collage , Acrylic and Watercolor

Red Iris- Watercolor and Acrylic
in my Etsy Store

Monday, November 5, 2007

Natural Cures

I just heard from my mom that my dad had to be put in the hospital. Apparently he has had trouble with shortness of breath and fatigue coupled with a huge ongoing headache for weeks if not months. My mom was trying to get him to go see a doctor and he did finally on Friday. When he stepped foot into the doctor's office, they immediately called an ambulance and had him taken to the hospital. After some x-rays and a CT scan, the doctors told my dad that they thought he had walking pneumonia and something else. I asked my mom what was the something else, and my mom replied, "Oh your dad thinks that he might have pulmonary fibrosis. Your uncles both had it. But your dad is relieved that they were able to diagnose the pneumonia." When I heard this, I immediately went to the internet and looked up pulmonary fibrosis ( people who are exposed to asbestos get this although there are other causes) and the first thing I saw was that it was fatal and that people who had it, died within 5 years. OMG! I don't think my parents realize the seriousness of the situation. For now, my dad is on antibiotics, oxygen and is back home. He is feeling better but he has to stay on the oxygen to feel that way. He did say he made an appointment to see a pulmonary specialist which I was happy to hear. If in fact this is what he has, the prognosis is grim. There are not a whole lot of medical treatments out there for this type of condition.

Which got me thinking, I wondered if there is something out there that could help my dad that is not sanctioned by the medical community. Believe me, I have been brought up with the mindset that if you get sick, you go to a medical doctor to get fixed, period.

Just in the last couple of years, because of the lack of help from the medical community, I had been forced to look elsewhere for answers and have been so overwhelmingly surprised by the things I have found out. It started when my oldest son had a serious wart problem. I took him in for several months to have them frozen off with no results. The next step was to see a dermatologist to have them dug out. They were huge and it definitely would have disfigured his hands to have them cut off. I searched online for a remedy and found it with banana peels and duct tape. Probably duct tape would have been enough. Within 7 days of wrapping his fingers with this stuff, warts were completely gone. My sister-in-law said it was the acid in the duct tape. I think it was an anaerobic environment that was created with the bananas and tape which killed off the wart virus. But this started me thinking that there has to be other remedies and cures that are out there that work a 100X better than what the doctors are coming up with.

When my youngest son got sick with severe GI problems, I again was faced with doctors that had no answers and no treatments to help my son who was literally wasting away. Again, I went to the internet and found various supplements , probiotics, enzymes and etc that have helped him tremendously.

Now I am reading a book called "More Natural Cures Revealed" by Kevin Trudeau. I haven't finished it but he brings up some interesting points about how the drug companies are paying big bucks to make the public believe that their drug is the cure all. Doctors are in on it and lobbyists too. The companies are paying big bucks to discredit information supporting use of alternative methods. Methods that Trudeau claims work better, cheaper and usually are safer. The author says that he does not sell any of the products he supports therefore he has nothing to gain unlike the drug companies. I usually don't like to read books that are very one-sided, which this is. I would like to read the drug companies take on this issue.

It definitely gives one food for thought.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

In the Moment

My youngest son is having his birthday party today. Unfortunately, since he had to switch it from last week, some of his friends that were going to come, could not as they had other commitments. My son was a little frustrated but I told him, look there is not much you can do about it, just enjoy the time now with the friends that can come.

I had posted before about being confused and kind of in the dumps because of several things going on in my life. When I start to feel this way, I read a lot of books. Interestingly enough, I already had a book in my possession called , "A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. I had read his previous book about, "The Power of Now," and it was fantastic. The New Earth book, I had read last year and was disappointed, it didn't do a lot for me.

By pure serendipity, I found it again and decided to give it another try. What I read was absolutely astounding. The questions about life and what is my life's purpose were answered in the book. Tolle even says that if you are not at this awareness stage, the book will be meaningless to you. He talks about inner and outer purpose. Your inner purpose is to awaken, your outer purpose can change and be many things but without alignment of the two, there is no joy and it will inevitably end in some form of suffering. Transcending ego based consciousness is the key to happiness and the ending of suffering and conflict.

Everything I have been reading lately, points to "living in the present" as the secret to having a fulfilling life.

Thoughts dictate our lives 24/7 and if you can slow that down or as Tolle says, puts space around your thoughts, you will be living more in the moment. Meditation practice is the way to develop that space.

One of the questions that I have been asking myself lately is that I am almost 50 years old and what have I done with my life? This is an excerpt from the book, "My fear is that I will remain stuck with doing little things for the rest of my life, things that are no consequence. I'm afraid of never rising above mediocrity, never daring to achieve anything great, not fulfilling my potential.
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for. Everybody's life really consists of small things. Greatness is a mental abstraction and a favorite fantasy of the ego. The paradox is that the foundation of greatness is honoring the small things of the present moment instead of pursuing the idea of greatness. The present moment is always small in the sense that it is always simple, but concealed within it lies the greatest power."

This book spoke to me on so many levels and is now one of the most powerful and enlightening books that I have ever read.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Want Spring Back

I know that the leaves are turning color and are starting to drop. This is my husband's favorite time of year. He loves to feel the cool crisp fall breeze on his face and hear the rustle of leaves blowing on the ground. Unfortunately, I don't feel the same. I freeze around this time, especially since my husband likes to keep the thermostat at 65 degrees. I don't like bare naked trees which they soon will be in a few weeks. Yes, the colors are pretty but spring has beautiful colors too with all the flowering trees and shrubs. I felt the urge to paint more spring flowers even though I will have to wait another 6 months or so to see the real thing.

Here is my latest: Iris Garden in my etsy store

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Welcome and Unwelcome Surprise

About 10:30 at night, we heard some tapping on our back french doors. I was sure it was friends of mine that were in town visiting my other laid up friend. I couldn't go over to see them so I thought they decided to drop in unannounced on me. I was in my exercise sweats and I immediately ran into my bedroom and quickly changed into something more respectable. My husband went ahead and opened the blinds and the door. It was my son, Nick! Apparently, his girl friend's mom had called that day and was missing her. The mom wanted her to come home so she sent the stepdad to the college to pick her up. Nick decided to hitch a ride. It was a nice surprise!

We had a good visit. Nick was telling us as he has in the past, that he would like to take his car to school. We really didn't want him to because of the expense but also because we have been having some problems with the car.

We got it for him 4 years ago, a 1998 black Mazda 626. It had only 60,000 miles on it at the time and it had been running great. Now it has 100,000 miles on it and has developed a slight leak. So every month, I have to check the radiator and refill the reservoir. A couple of weeks ago, I had driven it to my youngest son's violin lesson, about 60 miles away. On the way back, the engine light came on and it smelled like it was smoking. Of course, as usual my husband was in Nashville, TN on business. I stopped at a gas station and unlocked the hood. There was no anti-freeze in the reservoir so I had to buy some and refill it. It was a royal pain . I had just checked it a few days before and it had been OK. My husband came home and said that there must be another problem with the car if the engine light is coming on. He took it to town and had it checked. They said it was something to do with the catalytic converter.

If that wasn't enough. We drove it to Costco on Saturday and a new light came on, the over drive light. We came home and my husband went on the internet and looked up that problem. It seems to be related to the transmission and possibly it could burn the engine out. It looks like a whole new transmission may be needed. Also the boots? on the car are cracked and the axles may need to be replaced. This is looking like it's going to cost an arm and a leg to get the car back in working order. Not only that but it's due for a timing belt too.

I think we should cut our losses and just give it to somebody who might be interested in picking up a car cheap and then working on it. This is a most unwelcome surprise to our budget. We had not expected to buy another car so soon.

Luckily, the girlfriend talked her parents into taking her car back to school. So for now, my son has transportation.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pick Me Ups for the Blues

I still am feeling the blues and haven't been able to shake it.

Here are a few things I have been doing to help me out of this funk:

  • It may sound strange but I cleaned my house yesterday and that makes me feel good to have a nice organized home at least for a short time.

  • My son's party won't be until the 4th but I am having some friends over to celebrate Andy's and their daughter's birthday too this weekend.

  • I spent the morning baking a cake from scratch. It's a great cake and not too sweet. Here is the recipe from Recipes 4

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake:

1 1/2 cps Sugar

1/2 cp Margarine or Butter softened
1/4 cp Oil
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Eggs
2 1/2 cps All purpose flour
1/4 cp Unsweetened Cocoa
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cp Buttermilk
2 cps Shredded Zucchini
1/2 to 1 cp Semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cp Chopped Nuts

In a bowl, combine sugar, margarine, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Beat well. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, and buttermilk. Blend well. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into pan. Bake until knife comes out clean. Grease pan and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
You can put frosting on it but I just sprinkle powdered sugar on it and it tastes yummy!
  • Finally, I am reading a book called The Dalai Lama A Policy of Kindness, An Anthology of Writings by and about the Dalai Lama. It talks about the Tibetan people and the Dalai Lama's struggles, his life, his views, his reverence for all living things . A very fascinating read and very enlightening. I hope to gain much from this great spiritual teacher.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

180 Degrees

I don't know why this happens but every time I post about my son's improvement, something occurs and wipes out all the progress that has been made.

I just ordered the cake for his birthday party too and had to postpone it.

Last weekend, he was not feeling well. We had gone over to see my older son to celebrate his birthday at college. On the way home, I knew Andy was sick as his eyes were glazed over and he was coughing. That was on Saturday, today 4 days later, he is having massive D, terrible cramps and gas pains. Just about as bad as he was when he began his IBS flare-up back in June. He hasn't been in school all week.

It could be that he has the flu bug and that is wreaking havoc on him but I am not sure. He's been eating regular food the last 2-3 weeks without a problem and who knows, maybe that has finally caught up with him and his GI system just couldn't handle it anymore.

This is very discouraging but I will go back to the IBS diet and keep him on the probiotics, calcium and digestive enzymes.
His party for this weekend will have to be delayed until next week. Poor guy!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Another Original Watercolor Rose Painting

I have been trying to paint here and there but I am working on a fundraiser for church and so that is taking up quite a bit of time. Here is the latest painting that I have been able to do.

This is an original watercolor painting of a Single Pink Rose that I have done. Size is 9 X 12. Comes with backer board in a plastic sleeve and a certificate of authenticity. This painting was done with high quality professional paints on 140 # cold press watercolor paper. Inspired by the numerous roses growing in my backyard.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Pizza is on the Menu!

My youngest son's birthday is coming up in another week and he wants to have a Halo party with his friends. Also he would like pizza and ice cream to be served at the party. A few months ago, this would have been impossible as those two items would have sent him to the bathroom in a hurry with stomach cramps and the big D.

Last week, I bought a large Hawaiian pizza from Costco and had that for dinner. Andy ate about 1/2 the pizza himself and nothing. No D, no gas, no cramps. It was amazing. Not to say that he never has moments where his stomach is not feeling well. He's still not 100% normal but he is pretty darn close to it.

I feel like it's a miracle. I went ahead and served up chicken enchiladas with low fat sour cream sauce and again Andy had no problems with it. I decided to take him off the digestive enzymes but he is still on calcium caltrate and Digestive Advantage IBS for maintenance. These two products have helped him out tremendously and I ,myself, have decided to go on probiotics because I have seen how much they have helped my son.

I am just elated that he is doing so well. It's going to be a great birthday party!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What We Really Need to Be Afraid Of

As a Mom, living in this day and age has not been easy. Yes, we have the modern conveniences that technology has brought us. We can microwave our dinners in 60 seconds, keep track of our kids activities by cell phones, keep up on the latest news and fads and shop at the drop of a hat via the internet but we also live in an age where we have to be concerned about identity theft, pedophiles lurking in our children's chat rooms, terrorists attacking our country and superbug infections that can kill us.

Since my oldest son had his spleen out, I have had great concern about his health and well being. Contrary to what some people may think, the spleen is not like having your appendix out. There are consequences to having no spleen, the main one being, a compromised immune system. My son is much more susceptible to bacterial infections now and it can overwhelm his system and kill him.

Yesterday, I just heard a classmate of my son's had contracted the deadly MRSA bacteria ( a staph bacteria that has multi resistance to many of the antibiotics out there) while he was in basic training to become a marine. He is now lying in a hospital fighting for his life. Doctors may have to amputate his leg or more to save him. My cousin's wife also had a bout with this flesh eating bacteria several years back and they had to remove a lot of skin and flesh to save her. More and more cases are starting to show up and it is frightening.

What is even more frightening is that the pharmaceutical companies are not producing new antibiotics to combat these superbugs. It takes several years of testing for an antibiotic to be FDA approved and right now there are very few in the pipeline.
The bottom line is the companies are not making much money from these drugs so there is no incentive to make them.

We are spending billions of dollars fighting the war on terror and yet we have an invisible threat in our own backyard that we virtually have no way to defend ourselves against. This is what we really need to be afraid of.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Going South

My BF is going to be turning the big 50 next month and I wasn't going to throw her a party because we were going to celebrate it on a weekend out of town somewhere. I also did the big shower for her daughter and the big celebration for my son's graduation so I felt like I was partied out. However, I was having a conversation with a friend who has been laid up for several weeks from an operation and she felt that we should do one. In fact, she wants to have it at her house since she will be house bound for at least 6 weeks. I'm thinking OK , let's do it but I want it to be low key and not a huge extravaganza.

I don't know what it is about turning 50 but I have been in a slump lately. I will be turning 50 myself in a couple of months as will be my husband. Maybe it's because my son left for school or maybe it's because I haven't found what my purpose in life is. I feel malaise and down in the dumps. Like a 20 year-old trapped in an aging receptacle with everything going south on it. I now have a double chin that I can't get rid of and I have to color my hair every month. I think I would have cardiac arrest if I saw myself in my natural hair color. It would be totally white. The maintenance seems to be increasing with every year. I have to do exercises just to maintain the flabby spare tire around my middle and keep it from getting bigger. My heels are starting to crack so now I need special foot cream to counter that. What's next? It sure is fun to get old.

I listened to conversations with my elderly parents and their brothers and sisters. It's all about what aches and what pains they have been experiencing. Is this what I have to look forward to?

Still I have heard that the 50's can be a really wonderful time and that some people feel like they don't have to prove themselves to anyone anymore. It's all about just being happy with who you really are and getting the most out of life that you can .

I don't know why I feel this way except that I do and I guess it is OK. Experience tells me that "this too shall pass" . These feelings will fade away and the sun will come out again. Turning 50 can be about aging and getting old but it can also be about having the wisdom to know that life can be good again despite its ups and downs.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Stand up Straight and Don't Slouch!

I spend a lot of time sitting in front of the computer, painting at the kitchen table or working on various kinds of creative projects. Many many hours are spent bent over or leaning forward working on these time consuming projects and usually I do not take time out to stretch or straighten my back . My family has been telling me for years that my back is starting to round out. They are afraid that I will end up looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame.

I have been trying to keep my back straight but once I become engrossed in something, it's a lost cause. I decided I needed help so I went on ebay and bought a posture control brace. It wasn't very expensive and there was not much to it. The straps were too long so I had to cut them down and then the contraption fit me better. The first day I wore it, I couldn't breathe because I had it on that tight. Within 2 hours I was so nauseated out of my head and had a massive headache, I had to take it off. Apparently it was causing me to stretch muscles in my back and neck that I haven't used in awhile and it was making me sick. This was going to be tougher than I thought.

The second day, I decided to put the device on but looser and although I am not sure the brace itself is doing anything, it is at least providing a constant reminder for me to consciously keep my back straight.

Poor posture is becoming more the norm these days because of the types of jobs that we do. Hours sitting at the computer or at a desk can contribute to poor posture habits which can result in back pain, poor breathing, tension headaches, weakened discs that can herniate, and development of dowager's hump in the upper back.

Strengthening lower abdominal muscles will help and one exercise is to :
Sit in a straightback chair with feet flat on the ground
Keep head erect
Shoulders back against chair
Pull up and in lower abdominal muscles
Keep abdomen flat
Keep breathing and hold for 10 seconds
Relax and repeat 3 to 4 X
Do this 3 times a day

I should have listened to my mom when she said, "Stand up straight! Don't slouch!" I didn't always listen to her advice but in this case, she knew what she was talking about.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Siamese Twins

I have been working on some more watercolor , acrylic, ink paintings. I love cats but painting them has been a challenge for me. I have not used much acrylic either but I do like the boldness of the color and the ability to add texture if I need it.

This is called "Siamese" and is 12 X 15 7/8 on watercolor paper. Done with mostly watercolor, a little ink and acrylic.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Deceptively Delicious

I have been watching the Oprah show and Jessica Seinfeld was on with her new cookbook, "Deceptively Delicious." She was talking about how it was a fight to get her kids to eat vegetables and dinnertime was not pleasant. Then she came up with the idea of pureeing the veggies and slipping them into the meals unbeknownst to the kids. They loved it. Dinnertime became pleasant again and she knew her kids were getting the nutrition they needed.

I am wondering where was this book when I was raising my kids! We had to negotiate on the number of peas that went on their plates. They wanted 5, we told them 15, and they ended up eating 10. Even now, we are still fighting about the veggies. I have to keep reminding my college kid to put something green on his plate once in a while. Otherwise, he would be on a caveman diet. My younger son is not much better, although he liked salads until he got sick and then couldn't digest the raw stuff anymore.

The book has some very interesting recipes in it, all packed with hidden veggie purees. Nothing has been left untouched even the desserts like brownies, cakes, and donuts were loaded with either beets, zucchini and others and it sounded like they were exceptionally moist and delicious because they had these hidden ingredients in them.

Barnes and Noble has been getting a lot of my money lately and I suspect they will be getting more as I will be back there looking for this book. The low fat, veggie packed delicious recipes sounds very appealing to me.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Watercolor Magnet Sets

I decided to offer 3 larger magnets as a set.These will be offered at a discounted price. I am also going to sell some of my work directly from my blog. These particular magnets have a Christmas theme.

These are acrylic frame magnets, size 2.5 X 3.5 inches. The watercolor prints are signed and titled on the back.
This set is $12.50 +shipping
To choose other designs, see my etsy store.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Saturday Football

Came back from the game yesterday and it was fun! We tailgated with friends and saw my boy, Nick. It's always refreshing to see him and my eyes just lit up when he came over to our tailgate party from his dorm. The food was good. We had teriyaki chicken wings, BBQ chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, and BBQ elk. Plus potato, fruit and crab salad. Plenty of chips and dip as well homemade chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies.

We sat right behind the goal posts and had to field balls left and right. I didn't realize how many
times the kickers had to warm up and sometimes we were not always alert to when the balls would be coming. We had a couple of close calls. The game was close. Our team played better than expected. It came down to the last play, a field goal on our end. It was so exciting! We just needed it to tie the game. Unfortunately, the kick was too wide and we ended up losing.

Oh well, good game anyway. Then we took my son out to dinner and it was just nice catching up with him on his college life. He still didn't know what he wanted to major in although he has been going to the career fairs and I was glad to hear that. What I was not glad to hear about was the fact that his girl friend had suggested that they go to the city 6 hours away for the weekend to celebrate their 1st anniversary of being together. I was not in favor of that at all, although I tried to show some restraint. My son is just turning 19 and I don't want him to be so serious about someone at this time of his life. My husband was no help what-so-ever. He said his parents never questioned him on things that he did at school or trips that he went on with friends because he financed it himself. But then his trips never involved the opposited sex either. I'm still not sure on what I am going to say and don't know if I can prevent the trip from happening. I don't want to jeopardize communication with my son but it does not sit well with me at all.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Turned the corner

I haven't posted much on my son's condition because it hadn't changed that much until this week. For once, his stomach discomfort is now down to almost a zero. He's been able to do PE without having terrible stomach cramps. Instead of coming in close to last in the mile run, he has been coming in second place. His stool coloring is almost normal so I am thinking, perhaps, he is coming out of whatever flare up he had.

For dinner I made Easy Pork Stir Fry with Peanut Mole Sauce. Definitely could have caused Andy major problems. Pork has a lot more fat in it than chicken. There was tomato sauce and cocoa too. He had this meal for two days and had absolutely no problems. I'm still holding my breath and don't know if I'm going to try him on dairy. I think it would probably be healthier to eliminate dairy for good.

My son and I discussed that we should still try to maintain a low-fat diet although it won't have to be as restrictive as it's been. But mainly what my son wanted was to be able to go out with friends, eat pizza , hamburgers, drink pop and be just a kid without worrying that his GI system might go berserk. I am hopeful that he will get his wish soon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Letting Go of Frustrations

I have been reading Wayne Dyer's latest book, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. It's his interpretation of the Tao Te Ching. It has a ton of words of wisdom in it and I have been trying to put it into practice although it has not been easy.

One of the things I am becoming aware of is the fact that I get easily frustrated when I am in a slow line at the store or behind a slow car on the road. It seems that I am always in a rush to get somewhere and invariably I get stuck behind someone that is not in the same hurry as I am. Actually, after reading the book, I am developing awareness of the fact that I am frustrated several times a day. I am also learning from this book to not pass judgment on these people, to surrender and let it go. Not easy to do but I am working at it.

Another issue that comes up is when people try to copy what I am doing ( and they end up doing it much better than me), whether it's things that I have done to my house or my art and etc. Copying is supposed to be the greatest form of flattery but I have trouble seeing it that way. I realized it has its roots in my past. There was a lot of sibling rivalry growing up and jealousy was a big part of it. I'm beginning to see that it's all about my issues and my insecurities. This has been the hardest concept to grasp. According to Dyer's Tao, our society is built on outdoing everyone else and being "noticed". By choosing the path called the "wisdom of obscurity", it allows you to eliminate competition and retreat into quiet strength. This releases your need to be more anything in the eyes of others.

I am also learning about "less is more" that I don't need to have so many materialistic things. Another teaching of the Tao is that success is really about the person who is centered and can have peace and harmony in the face of chaos and turmoil. I would love to get to that point. There are so many great teachings in the book that can help one live a happy, meaningful and peaceful life. You can be sure, I will be reading this book many times over.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dreams of Horses

When I was young, I used to dream of horses and played with toy ones every single day. I dreamt of riding them and jumping fences. I would ask for a horse every Christmas and every Christmas, under the tree, I would get a plastic one.I finally got my wish in high school. My school actually had a riding club if you can believe that. The lessons were great! I loved it but I still wanted my very own horse. I drew them and painted them ever since I was 5 years old.

Finally at the ripe old age of 27, I got my first horse. A quarter horse/appaloosa cross. She was chestnut with a blaze and white socks. Very pretty but ornery at times. We lived on a 5 acre farm so I was able to keep her on our property. I found a riding instructor that taught me Dressage and took more lessons. Since I did not have a trailer, I had to ride the horse 7 miles on canal roads to get to the instructor's house. It was harrowing at times as my horse would shy and rear. I thought I was going to end up in the canal. My instructor did not want me to get injured so she allowed me to board my horse at her place for free. It was very generous of her. I definitely was not a natural at riding but I really worked hard at it because it was my dream.

Then my kids came along and I couldn't ride like I used to. I gave up riding and I gave up painting horses, I gave up the dream. I still had my horse and I know she had a pampered life. I lost my horse 2 years ago at the age of 28 which is pretty old for an equine. I am sure it was the West Nile virus that got her.

I am a little rusty but I picked up the paint brush again and decided to paint horses. Worked about 3 hours on this painting until 1 am in the morning. Haven't used much acrylics but I do like them. Watercolors are so difficult to use. Many times you can save paintings by incorporating the acrylics. I love mix media and would like to do more.

Here is the result of my efforts:
Mixed media-Arabian Horse in my Etsy Store

Saturday, September 29, 2007

More Giclees

I decided to make more of my card designs available as limited edition giclees (A giclee is a reproduction of an original work and is a high end digital print that is done with archival inks and in my case radiant watercolor paper. Prints, if taken care of should last for decades if not longer). I went back to see what designs were the most popular and here is one of them:

"English Rose" now available as a Limited Edition giclee in my Etsy store.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Baby Shower

My 44 year-old friend is due in less than two months. Been there, done that and glad that it is not me. Though, I am very happy for my friend who already has a grown daughter and wanted to give her new husband who has never been married, a child. The baby shower is tonight.

Our Girls Nite Out group of 10 women have known each other for several years. 6 of us started the group 15 years ago and met once a month. We went to dinner, plays, concerts or just had parties in our homes. Lately, with everyone going in different directions, it has been difficult to get together.

The few times we have met this year, I could not as I was attending to my son. Since he is doing very well, I will be able to go to the shower tonite and it will be fun to see everyone and get caught up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Improving the Shot

I know nothing about photography but decided I needed a crash course on how to improve my shots. After reading, I was able to make an inexpensive but very functional light box. Lighting was another challenge and also figuring out how to read the directions for my point and shoot digital camera was something I dreaded having to do. I tried to shoot against white paper but it came out dark and yellowish. I adjusted the white balance on my camera, trying first the fluorescent and then the incandescent setting. I switched to a darker background and that gave the best shot. I still have a ways to go but the picture is improving.

Here is my latest ceramic tile pendant with muted flowers called Valentine Roses in my Etsy Store.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Return to Ebay

I haven't sold on ebay for a year or two and it has been great. I used to sell clothing, toys,and art and had a couple of stores. The fees just killed me. I was working like a dog and had nothing to show for it. Also I would tweak my stores and auctions and then ebay would come along, make a change and everything that I worked on to improve sales just went out the window. It was very frustrating.

In the meantime, I have been selling on Etsy and Ecrater. Although, at times these sites have been good, especially Etsy, original art just doesn't sell as well or at least my art. I decided to give Ebay another chance. This time, however, I am being very discriminatory on what I put on there. I will only list one painting at a time. Dog and cat art seems to sell better at least for me and if the painting does not sell the first time on, that's it, I won't list it again. Also I will probably not list every week. Not sure I can even produce that much art that quickly. This way, I hope to keep the fees to a minimum.

I just put up my Siberian Husky painting this last week and it sold so I was very happy about that.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Purrfectly Persian

I just finished a new watercolor, acrylic, ink cat painting. Long haired cats are challenging to paint and this is my first one.

My new painting can be found in my Etsy Store

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Are Vaccinations Safe?

There is a huge debate on whether or not vaccinations are safe for our children. In the past, I would have naively said yes, they are. My kids have had numerous vaccines without any visible effects. However, this past year my 13 year old child was told that he needed the DPT, Hepatitis B, and Meningococcal vaccines. Within two days of receiving these shots, he had such severe abdominal pain that we had to take him to the ER. It continued off and on for the last 4 months . He cannot eat many foods, he is dairy intolerant, he had lost 12 lbs and he has had continuous problems with diarrhea. I had to put him on high calorie dairy free smoothies for the last 2 months. He has now gained back about 6 of those pounds but it's a struggle to keep the weight on. I have changed his entire diet to a low fat one, put him on calcium caltrate to control his diarrhea, digestive advantage for ibs probiotics for the gas and cramping, b complex vitamins for the cramping and digestive enzymes. He is doing much better now but his problem has been a life altering one and I still feel in my gut that the vaccinations played a part in all of this somehow.

I am trying to find information on vaccine reactions in teen-agers. I have found a lot on autism and younger children. Lately there has been information on Gardasil and Meningococcal vaccines. It seems when girls get those two vaccines together there is a much great risk of getting Guillain-Barre Syndrome (inflammation of the brain and spinal chord which can damage nerves and result in possibly paralysis).

My son was given 3 vaccines together and who the heck knows what kind of havoc that has wreaked on his system.

It angers me that the medical establishment will not acknowledge that there is a problem here.

In 1900, children received 1 vaccination for small pox. Today, they receive 20 vaccinations and more. ADHD, autism, asthma have dramatically increased. Is it because of vaccines? I don't know but vaccines are suspect.

All I can say is that if you are planning on having your child vaccinated, do the research and then make up your own mind on what is the best course of action to take with your child.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Secret to High Rankings on Search Engines

One of the services that I have found is Self Promotion. com. I have used this site for several years and it has given me the best rankings in search engines like yahoo and others. My watercolor site is number two on Yahoo for watercolor works and has been on top for several years as well as many of my other websites.

Just click through the link above and sign up. The first 4 weeks are free so you can see how it works. Robert gives tons of advice and tutorials on how to fine tune your site so that it will be search engine friendly. After the 4 weeks, you can pay Robert whatever you think the service is worth to you. If you pay $10.00 and up, you get some secret tools that will help you even more in obtaining the high rankings. Once you find the keywords and hone your site, selfpromotion will automatically resubmit your site to several search engines periodically. You don't have to do a thing. I have found this service to be worth every penny and more plus I don't have the headache of having to remember to submit my site every month. I can't highly recommend this site enough!

Monday, September 17, 2007

More Traffic

I signed up for It will drive targeted traffic to your site so we will see how it works. From what I have been reading, people have been getting 100 hits or more. The problem is , it's one thing to get more traffic, quite another to get more sales. I listed my two ecrater stores on there for now. I have to actually review up to 10 sites and visit 60 in order to get a certain ranking for my two sites. It may be that every one on there is just trying to get people to visit their site and have no interest in the sites that they are visiting. We will see. I am getting reviewed but that's about it. I will let you know if this works!

Here is another ceramic tile pendant that I have finished finally:

This is an iris watercolor ceramic tile pendant (front and back) for sale in my etsy store.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

On the Mend?!

Andy came to me and was all excited. He gained 6.8 lbs. I was overjoyed. The many weeks of high calorie shakes are finally starting to pay off. He was at 2 to 4 lbs for so long, I didn't think he was capable of gaining any more weight. I am wondering if his "IBS" or whatever it is, is on the mend.

I have been driving him to and from school every single day. Now he thinks he can ride the school bus in the morning. Also he was only eating just a piece of toast for breakfast. He did not want to take any chances with his sensitive GI system at school but today he says he wants to eat omelets and a low fat version of the egg mcmuffin.

Still, I am a little hesitant about jumping in and giving him anything he wants. His condition has stabilized and I don't want to rock the boat. I will have to proceed with caution.

Our grocery bill has gone up $400.00 every month just because of the special foods and supplements I have had to give him. It would be nice to be able to pare it down.

I have him on so many things that I am not sure what has helped him the most but I am keeping him on the Digestive Advantage for IBS no matter what. The lacto bacillus will always be beneficial to him even when he is healthy. I was given information from Ganeden, the company that makes Digestive Advantage, and they said that their powerful probiotic can" bring the digestive system back into balance." Their cultures have a "protected hardened layer of organic material that enables their (lacto bacillus) survival through the acidic stomach environment and arrive in the intestines alive." I do think this product in combination with some of the other things I have done has made a difference.

I also put him on B complex vitamins which is supposed to help with the GI tract. A friend of mine had years of terrible stomach cramping and pain. Got no help from the doctors and so she read about vitamin B12 and decided to start taking the B vitamins. She said she has had very little cramping in the last year.

I am very grateful that my son is doing well although still not normal. However, this is his second bout with a GI problem. I am not sure what the future will hold. My friend who has Crohn's Disease warned me that hers started out with a few problems here and there before it became full blown Crohn's. I hope that with careful management, we will prevent it from becoming a
full blown whatever it is!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Deflating the Spare Tire

I am a pretty disciplined person. I work out about 5 to 6 days a week and have been for the last year or two. I spend 30 minutes each day riding my bike which is mounted on a trainer. I ride hard and work up a sweat every time. I've been doing bicep curls with 2 lb weights, 100 each side and also tricep exercises. I am not always good about doing the abdominal crunches on my exercise ball every day but I do do them several times a week. About 100 per day. I've lost about 4 lbs in the past several months and I cannot for the life of me get rid of the flab around my stomach. Since my son has been ill, we have also switched to an extremely low fat diet. I don't mean to complain as I have never had any weight issues. All I have wanted to do was get rid of the pregnancy fat around my middle. It has been a challenge.

I was just reading that I need to continue doing lots of cardio exercises as that will burn the fat. Also I need to incorporate not just ab crunches but work other muscle groups as well. It seems like diet is a big factor in all this and maybe even more important than exercise. I haven't sat down and figured out all the calories I am eating. I know that I have cut my portions down considerably but I am thinking that I may have to go to the 5 -6 small meals a day schedule. I need to research more about what proportions of fat to protein to carbohydrates I should be eating and when I should be eating them. That's going to be hard to do.

I was watching the Biggest Loser and although I have never walked in these people's shoes with weight issues, I did feel for them. I only want to lose a few pounds in certain places and am having a tough time. I can't even imagine what it's like to have to lose 100 lbs or more. It must seem insurmountable.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is It All Overkill?

I spent the weekend on a home tour going through beautiful houses some worth up to a $1,000,000.00 to get some ideas on what to do with my rather modest master bedroom and bath. I have to say that even though the houses were impressive and very nicely decorated, it just didn't do a whole lot for me. Some of the houses had 5 to 6 bedrooms with their own private baths. It seemed a little excessive. The one 7000 square foot house had tons of storage, it was unbelievable! The storage room had so much shelf space, you probably could have put a couple years supply of food in there and still have room left over. I did see one master bedroom that had a library separated with french doors that I liked and that could perhaps work in the space that I have although on a much smaller scale.

I spent 16 hours cleaning out my spare bedroom and most of the closets in the house. I think I ended up with 30 garbage bags of items. Most of which will go to the Goodwill or some outfit like that. 50% of my clothing that was in my closet and in my drawers ended up in those bags. I am not one to spend a lot of money on clothes, yet I did have items that were not worn very much.

Which brings me to this PBS show that I saw on Wayne Dyer. He was promoting his new book, "Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life."He talked about the excesses we have in our life and that we should really think about simplifying. According to him, we only use about 20% of everything we own. The 80% just sits there and takes up space. A couple of years ago he sold his townhouse complete with all his possessions including his awards, books and many other things that were of great value to him.

Anyway, it did get me thinking about whether or not I really needed all these things to make myself happy and also if it was necessary to remodel my bedroom. I'm not sure I will take it as far as Wayne Dyer did but I do want to declutter my life. I will be reading his book.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Decluttering the Clutter

I decided that my house needs to be decluttered. My bedroom especially. The master bedroom is small and has no walk-in closet. A contractor is supposed to come over and give us an estimate on what it would cost to knock out walls between the master and spare bedrooms and the bathroom. I really don't want him in these rooms until I have had a chance to get rid of a lot of junk. My spare room has all my art supplies and ex ebay items in there. The things I still have not sold. You can't even open the door to get in the room because it is that packed. My husband keeps asking me where am I going to put all these things if we enlarge our bedroom and get rid of the spare. Good question! That's why I need to go through everything and get rid of whatever I can.

If we can get the contractor to take out and rebuild new walls, my husband can do the rest. He is so handy. He will be able to tile in a new shower, put in a double vanity in the bathroom and redo all the wood flooring. He's done plumbing and electrical work when we added our addition 13 years ago, so I know he can handle this project too. We are going to look at model homes this weekend to get some ideas on new master bedrooms with bath and walk-in closets.

The problem is we also wanted to go to Australia next year and that is going to be quite expensive. My oldest son is in college and we are taking no loans out to pay for that. Money will be tight so we will have to weigh all the options and see what is feasible.

My son came home for Labor Day and it was so nice to see his smiling face. He ate a lot, slept a lot, asked for money and hung out with friends .We had to buy a HP laptop computer at Best Buy at the spur-of-the-moment because the one my son ordered from Dell for school was put on back order and shipping was delayed twice. I was not happy about that. The HP looks like it will work out great and it has a webcam so we will be able to communicate with my boy if he ever decides to get on.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Lesser Known GI Disturbances

I spent the weekend talking to a mom whose daughter was having GI problems. I wanted to compare notes to see if there were any similarities between what her daughter and my son have been experiencing. It turns out the daughter's symptoms were quite different from Andy's. She was having severe abdominal pain and nothing else. Her mom did tell me that she heard of a condition called the Habba Syndrome where excessive bile was being dumped into the small intestine which would cause constant diarrhea. The treatment was to go on anti-cholesterol medication that would bind the bile and stop the D. This condition was named after Dr. Habba and there could possibly be millions of people who think they have IBS when in fact they have this particular problem.

What are the cardinal symptoms of this syndrome?
  1. Post-prandial diarrhea (varying from simple urgency to incontinence) and fear of eating to avoid diarrhea
  2. Dysfunctional gallbladder as determined by radiological testing
  3. Failure to respond to standard therapy of IBS or spastic colon
  4. Favorable response to bile acid binding agents

It is possible that my son could have this.

The other condition I have found is called collagenous microscopic colitis. Normally when one says colitis, it usually means ulcerative colitis or infectious colitis which often times involves visible inflammation of the colon and bleeding. It still is a possibility that my son has UC although so far all the tests have been negative. The interesting thing about the microscopic colitis which is supposedly rare although they are now thinking that perhaps 10-20% of people with chronic D may have this, is that even with a colonoscopy, the colon will look normal. The intestinal wall has to actually be biopsied for confirmation of inflammation and not only one side but both sides as it could be more prevalent on one side. Also people with this inflammatory bowel disease will have weight loss, severe intolerances to many foods especially dairy and gluten. Although gluten tests will many times come back negative. They have diarrhea several times a day and they cannot tolerate fat. Onset of symptoms can be sudden. One lady that I read about said that she thought it might have been the mercury in her fillings that set it off. She had dental work done and then had symptoms shortly afterwards. When my son had vaccinations, he had severe symptoms within two days. The meningococcal vaccine has thimerosal in it, a mercury derivative and I was highly suspicious at the time that it might have been a trigger to my son's problems. Doctors think that the colitis could be autoimmune in nature. Treatment is usually steroids ie, Entocort, Prednisone which will control the D. Changes to a low-fat, dairy free, gluten free diet can help tremendously. My son's symptoms and onset of his problems fit rather closely to this particular colitis. So Bette Jo, you may be right!

My GI doctors, nurse practitioner never mentioned any of these conditions as a possibility. I am finding that one has to be extremely proactive and become their own detective in order to get any kind of answers. The medical profession is not going to do it, that is for sure!