2011.05.30 Lower-carb eating, annual checkup

My primary reason for changing my diet
to lower-carb was to see the effect
on my blood pressure and
cholesterol levels.
I have been on minimum doses of
high-blood pressure and elevated cholesterol
medications since November 2003.
I fought using medications
by exercising regularly for 6 months.
My cholesterol levels worsened.
Go figure; heredity won.

My blood pressure and cholesterol levels have been tested each May since 2004.
They have stabilized and everything tests at a "good" level.
I would love to eliminate the medications completely.

The results of this year's tests were great.
My blood pressure was 104/72 (at the doctor's office)
and all the numbers in the cholesterol panel are good or excellent.
But, not good enough to stop the medications :(

I'm continuing to eat lower-carb though
because of these benefits and others I've mentioned previously.


2011.05.29 Two of my favorite people . . .


They take after me :P

2011.05.29 Garden plants - hosta

Gardeners living in the Midwest need plants which will survive unpredictable weather in all seasons.

A staple garden workhorse is the entire family of hostas.
They thrive in shade and semi-shade and even do well in part-day sun.
But, no full (all day) sun.
They provide beauty and stability and gorgeous foliage
and also a wonderful backdrop for blooming plants.
There are hostas in many varieties, variegated or not,
small and large and everything in-between.
They are almost maintenance-free.

All the gardeners I know willingly offer starts from any hosta they have.
Just ask.


[  Happy birthday, Sarah ]


2011.05.28 Perspective in photography

The Shutter Sisters posted about playing with perspective in photography:  Shutter Sisters 05-28-2011

Here are some of my photos from 2011 which (may) qualify . . .



2011.05.27 FYI

This morning as I was monitoring a Windows Update on the computer and folding laundry,
I turned on the TV to PBS's Create channel.
     (Want to be inspired?  Watch this channel!)

We have over-the-air television and love that many stations have multiple shows at the same time.
Our local PBS station is channel 20.1.  The Create channel is 20.3.
I was expecting travel or cooking or gardening or sewing or art or crafts(!).
Instead, I saw Music Voyager, a show I hadn't seen before.

Love music?  Go to their website:  Music Voyager and check it out.


2011.05.25 Quote

Never quit something with great long-term potential
just because you can't deal with the stress of the moment.
Seth Godin, the dip ~ a little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick)


2011.05.24 Meals and menu cards

A decade ago, I was a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of three.
And, as I had always done, each afternoon I would find myself
standing in front of the refrigerator thinking "What am I fixing for dinner?".
My goal was to have dinner ready before my hard-working husband came home.

I had devoured the book for setting up a chore/cleaning system by Pam Young and Peggy Jones,
sisters, The Sidetracked Home Executives.  This book was first published in 1977.
It is still in print today and available at Amazon.
Link here:  Sidetracked Home Executives to their website.

They had also written a book for tackling the kitchen and meals (now out-of-print).
Something had to give; there had to be a better way than my seat-of-the-pants approach to dinner.

The meal planning system relies on 3x5 index cards just as their chore system does.

The system has worked wonderfully since we began using it in the year 2000.
You create a 3x5 card for each meal.  Start with your favorites.
It seems they suggested starting with 31 meals, enough for a month without a repeat.
If you're like me, you might think "I can't think of that many different meals",
but you have been eating dinner for years, so what have you been eating???
Those are your meals.

The front of the card gets the name of the main dish with side dishes listed underneath.
The upper right lists how much time the meal takes to prepare
so you know when to start making it.

The back lists the major ingredients (not the things you will always have on-hand in your kitchen).

Each week you pick the week's meals.
Then, turn the cards over and add the ingredients to your grocery list.

Each day, pick the meal card for that evening.
You'll have all the ingredients and know when to start the prep.  SO MUCH EASIER!

Once you have fixed the meal, write the date on the front of the card.
Now you know when you last ate this meal when you are picking out your next meals.
Fewer repeats.

After using this system for a while, I told one of my sisters (the gourmet cook who reads recipe books for fun) about the system of picking meals for the week and adding the things you need to your grocery list.
She looked at me completely baffled.  "What other way is there?"



2011.05.21 Scrapbooking day

I finished Anya's digital first-year album today :)
There is a left side and a right side for each month
and several sets of special pages.
The first months were done mostly as they happened.
Then tax season arrived.
But, it's done now except for the printing.
One photo, August on the month-by-month page, is missing.
I'll have to get that one from Theresa.


2011.05.19 A visit with Anne

Went to Anne's yesterday evening.
She fixed an amazing (low-carb) dinner, we crafted, talked,
walked to the store for strawberries, talked, watched a movie, talked.
Here is what I saw when I was on her living room floor . . .


2011.05.17 BIG change in 2 weeks

Today, I gave my two-weeks notice on a job
I've had for more than 10 years.


What's coming?
I don't actually know yet.

A quote I read last Sunday . . .
When you come to the edge of all the light you know,
and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown,
faith is knowing one of two things will happen:
there will be something solid to stand on,
or you will be taught how to fly.
Barbara Winter, writer


2011.05.15 Perform Service

Last fall, Vince changed the oil and filter in my car.  He also checked the other fluid levels.
A week or so later, the upper console (where I can see the temperature, MPG, and other options) started displaying “PERFORM SERVICE” and beeping for a bit.  Then the display would return to normal.
Vince checked the oil and other fluids again.  All was okay.
So, a couple of times a week, I get beeped at and see “PERFORM SERVICE”.
Annoying, but it’s short-lived.
Then, a couple of months ago, I was sitting in the parking lot of the local high school.
I had just finished a couple of hours volunteering for our local food pantry
by picking up donated canned and boxed food items.
I had just started up the car and . . .
Then, I started laughing because I finally got it.
A prompt?  a requirement?  a command?
Perform service:  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
    faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  1 Peter 4:10
I hope the “PERFORM SERVICE” stays; it’s a great reminder to get my focus on others.
I like it.


2011.05.14 Spring Garden Maintenance

Every morning this week,
I spent 30 to 90 minutes in the garden for spring clean-up.

I've found that when I wait for the "right day"
(reasonable temperature, minimal rain/hail/wind, a day off of work)
the gardening will wait . . . and wait . . . and wait . . .

So every morning this week,
I put on gardening clothes and stepped outside.
My work day started after that morning's bit of gardening was done.

I simplified the garden areas when I knew my kids would be leaving and my "free" help would be gone.
(Little did I know, none would go very far :)
For the last decade, the garden has only shrubs, grasses, and perennial flowers.

Some have grown to overlap others; many have open space around them.

Planning ahead for a simplified landscape,
we removed the fenced area which had previously been raised beds for vegetables and annuals.

The fenced area in early spring 2002 . . .

 Other perennial beds were reduced in size or eliminated.  
This triangle bed in the center of the front garden, again in early spring 2002 . . .
was eliminated in 2009 . . .

Although we still have several perennial beds,
minimal maintenance keeps gardening enjoyable.

More soon on which plants I think are the best value = beautiful + easy maintenance.


2011.05.10 Lower-carb eating . . . at 2 months

We are loving our new eating style.
Lots of fruits and veggies since this is not a "low-carb" way of eating.
"Low-carb" aims for no more than 20 grams of net-carbs (carb grams less fiber grams) a day.
We aren't restricting fruits or veggies except that we don't eat potatoes and very little corn.
What have we cut out?
Most all of the refined, highly-processed carb foods such as pasta, rice, breads, crackers.
And, sweets are almost totally gone.  Almost.
"Almost" makes it much easier than to try for "none".
Overall, our eating habits are much more healthful than prior to this change.

Vince is at 5 pounds total loss, I'm at 7 pounds lost,
and Theresa is at 12 pounds lost.  Yeah, Theresa!
We will never actually know for John since he didn't take an initial weight.
But, he's still losing.  He's also switched his work lunches to lower-carb.

We continue.


2011.05.09 Mother's Day flowers

2011.05.09 Bookkeeping . . . debits and credits

What they are in bookkeeping . . . and why that’s different from the common way we use the terms.

Some background:
Bookkeeping uses a method called double-entry.
This simply means every transaction has two parts.
For example, you purchase some office supplies and pay for them by writing a check.
You’ve increased an expense (office supply expense) and decreased an asset (your checking account).
Both of these are the result of this one transaction.  A double-entry.

Debits and credits are the terminology for tracking transactions in double-entry bookkeeping.
Every transaction has equal debits and credits.

When we use the terms ‘debit’ and ‘credit’ in everyday language,
the terms are often reversed from how transactions are recorded in your company.
This is because the terms are from the point-of-view of other companies and institutions.
For example, when a bank ‘credits’ your checking account, your checking account balance goes up.
And from the bank’s point-of-view, money going into your account is a credit – for them.’

From your point-of-view, money going into your checking account is a debit.
Just as increasing your checking account is a debit, reducing that same account is a credit.
The opposite.

Luckily, most accounting software programs reference debits and credits for only a few functions.

You may hear the terms ‘debit’ and ‘credit’ from your accountant,
but realize the terms are just terminology to distinguish between increasing and decreasing
the 5 types of accounts (assets, liabilities, equity, income, expenses)
in double-entry bookkeeping.

For reference:



2011.05.07 Being positive, staying positive

For most of this year, I've woken up in a good mood.
Happy.  Excited to start my day.
I don't think I'm usually a "down" kind of person;
but, this is so much better than just waking up in neutral.

"What's changed?", you ask.

Several things.  Physical, spiritual, and mental things.

1.  Physical - living in the Midwest in winter = gray days, roads with snow/ice, coldness.  I SO don't like winter.  I yearn for warm climates and sunshine.  Mostly sunshine.  Which led me to a conclusion - maybe I'm lacking in Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin.  Until a few years ago, I drank milk.  Now, it's rare.
So, I started taking a multi-vitamin for older women.

2.  Spiritual - I can't listen to loud (how I like it) music when I work at home or at work.  Even when I'm alone, it's too distracting for me mentally.  I've started listening to praise music: in the car, at home, at both work sites.  I just let it play quietly in the background.
This is keeping my focus where it should be:  on others and God, not on me.

3.  Mental - I decided to be in a good mood.  Literally decided.  Maybe this decision happened because of the positive effects of the vitamins and praise music.  Maybe not.
I read.  A lot.
And, some other people think also you can just make being in a good mood a choice you make.
Every day.  So I have.

4.  Physical - sometimes, smiling inside and out is the result of something you do  :)
So, today, I cut my hair ~ this is usual, although sometimes others help or do this for me.
     (see this blog post ~ Anne cuts my hair).
I had started to look like I could fly because of the wings on the sides of my head.
Why do I always wait until I'm desperate?
No idea, but I pulled out the hair clippers and scissors this morning.
I thought I would post a photo.  Ha!  Below are the results of my attempts at self-portraiture.
There isn't any cropping on the left and right photos.
Not good.  Except for a laugh.  Which is also a great way to lift your mood :)


2011.05.03 Quote

With task management, as with any type of organization, my philosophy is to reduce before you organize.  If you only have three things to organize, instead of twenty, you actually don't need to organize.  With time management, that means you should reduce what you need to do.  You can eliminate tasks, delegate them, postpone them, get out of commitments.  Focus always on simplifying, reducing, eliminating.  And keep your focus on what's important.  Everything else is easy.
~ Leo Babauto, The Power of Less, Zen Habits


2011.05.02 Timeout turned interesting . . .

2011.05.02 Quote

Simplifying isn't meant to leave your life empty -
it's meant to leave space in your life for what you really want to do.
~ Leo Babauto, The Power of Less, Zen Habits

Anne's one-word take on de-cluttering and simplifying an area to leave open spaces:  possibilities