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