IMPROVINGME's SparkPeople Blog IMPROVINGME's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community Grandchildren at the County Stock Show I was writing about this tonight on one of my team message boards, but the story ended up so long that I decided I'd just copy and paste and make a blog out of it. It's been over a year since I've posted a blog, anyway, so I guess it's about time. <BR> <BR> The question I was answering was "What made you feel happy today?" So here's what I wrote, and I will go back and make a shorter answer on that team page. I don't know how I manage to get so wordy sometimes -- except that when I'm writing... Fri, 15 Jan 2016 21:56:19 EST Get Up and Get Moving! I love this entry by John Burroughs that I saw as one the SparkPeople Healthy Inspiration quotes that popped up on my screen today: <BR> <BR> “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” <BR> <BR> I guess I'm feeling a sense of urgency these days to make the most of every day. I've found myself lately wanting to stay up late and get up early in order to do as many things... Thu, 15 Jan 2015 11:09:04 EST Keep Walking I subscribe to several email subscription lists that send daily or weekly motivational articles, and although I retired eight years ago, I know I don't have to be working at a paying job to gain inspiration and good advice from some of the business-related lists. <BR> <BR> One list I still subscribe to is "Great Work Provocations" from "Box of Crayons" by Michael Bungay Stanier. These usually brief bits of wisdom are, in Stanier's words, "like a shot of espresso, but healthier." This morn... Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:45:40 EST No Ordinary Eggs I saw this quote this morning on artist Lesley Riley's blog sign-up page. Hadn't read this quote by C.S. Lewis before, and I love the way it relates to my Spark goals! <BR> <BR> "It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. <BR> We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. <BR> We must be hatched or go bad." <BR> <BR> ~ C. S. Lewis ... Wed, 9 Jul 2014 12:43:19 EST Hey You (Yes, You) - You're Beautiful! I came across a video this morning (on MyOwnHero's blog) that I plan to watch at least weekly this new year. It delivers a powerful message for all of us who especially want to feel better about ourselves. <BR> <BR> This post by Kim Holman on "Upworthy" contains the video created by Karen Walrond (aka Chookooloonks), a photographer and journalist. <BR> <BR> Walrond set out to take 1000 portraits (just to see if she could do it), and what resulted was that she found evidence that everyone o... Fri, 3 Jan 2014 12:14:19 EST A Motivational Collage On January 6 of this year I wrote a blog about creating SoulCollages each week this year. My goal is to have a complete deck of 52 cards by the end of the year. <BR> <BR> <link><BR>urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5194169 </link> <BR> <BR> I said at that time that I wasn't ready to share any of them publicly yet, but I made one last night that has changed my mind. It's a motivational one for me, inspired by my mission here on SparkPeople to eat healthy fo... Mon, 17 Jun 2013 14:39:29 EST Leaving Personal Trails Head over to this SparkPeople link and read about what researchers and marketers can tell about you from your Google browsing history or your Facebook 'likes'. <BR> <BR> <link><BR>news_detail.asp?health_day=674295 </link> <BR> <BR> If for some reason that doesn't link you to the article, the title of it is "Facebook 'Likes' Leave a Personal Trail, Study Warns: <BR> Individual beliefs and even intelligence can be gathered by others, raising privacy co... Tue, 12 Mar 2013 12:01:51 EST Homemade Thin Mints Recipe How many of you saw the article about making homemade Girl Scout cookies? It made my mouth water for just any of those cookies, but especially for the Thin Mints. <BR> <BR> <link><BR>omemade_girl_scout_cookie_recipes </link> <BR> <BR> I clicked on the link to find the homemade Thin Mint recipe, and I was somewhat surprised (and bothered) to see the negative comment about supporting the Girl Scout cookies sales. Wasn't really surprised ab... Fri, 1 Mar 2013 17:08:50 EST Margaret Thatcher Quote I just came across an amusing, thought-provoking quote by Margaret Thatcher that made me chuckle out loud. <BR> <BR> "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." <BR> <BR> Loved it! Sat, 16 Feb 2013 19:03:28 EST Magical M&M's I read this little poem today from a crafting newsletter called "The Weekly Inkling," and it just made me laugh. From what I can gather, you put different colored M&M's in little acrylic test tubes to give away, and you send this poem along with the gift. <BR> <BR> Magical M&M's <BR> <BR> Each color is a different cure; <BR> Of this fact, we're very sure. <BR> When you're grouchy and a little mean, <BR> We truly recommend the green. <BR> For times when you are down, <BR> The very best choic... Wed, 13 Feb 2013 22:44:30 EST Edible Football Stadiums I'm always amazed about what all one can find on the Internet! Just a click away... even when you're not really searching for a particular topic. <BR> <BR> Take a look at these "12 Awesome Edible Football Stadiums." Some pretty creative folks have certainly been busy dreaming up and making these concoctions. One of them even has Twinkies around the sides! <BR> <BR> I'll be going to a Super Bowl party next Sunday, but I doubt if we'll have anything like these. <BR> <BR> <link> Sun, 27 Jan 2013 18:39:35 EST Bohea Tea On the Tuesdays that I host crafts in my home, I always serve tea. Sometimes we drink iced tea, and on other days we'd all rather have hot tea. Since it was 73 degrees here in South Texas today, I didn't know whether my friend would choose hot or cold tea, but a cup of hot tea was in order for this afternoon. <BR> <BR> My son-in-law's mother visited Boston a couple of months ago, and she thoughtfully brought back some tea for me from the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum for my Christmas gift.... Tue, 22 Jan 2013 19:26:35 EST Observation on Discontent I have subscribed to Chris Guillebeau's blog, "The Art of Non-Conformity: Unconventional Strategies for Life, Work and Travel" for several years now. It is from his website that I found the basic model for my journal on setting goals for the new year. I especially liked his blog for today, January 21, 2013, titled "There's No Such Place as Far Away." <BR> <BR> Chris is writing a new book, and he has been gathering research material by talking to people from all over the world. He says that a... Mon, 21 Jan 2013 16:00:16 EST Little Girls Raising Big Hogs This past Thursday I traveled to see my granddaughters show their hogs in the local county livestock show. The girls are 9 and 12 years old, and they are totally responsible for the care of their hogs for several months leading up to the competition. <BR> <BR> In previous years, my oldest granddaughter has placed with her animals, making her eligible to compete in the auction at the end of the show. With those monies she has a really good start on her college fund. Here she is (with her new... Mon, 21 Jan 2013 00:16:18 EST "Light splashed this morning..." I subscribe to Susan Gaylord's blogs, and today she posted one of her works of calligraphy, the last lines from the poem "The Round." This wonderful poem is from the book "The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden" by Stanley Kunitz. <BR> <BR> Here are the last four lines: <BR> <BR> "I can scarcely wait till tomorrow <BR> when a new life begins for me, <BR> as it does each day, <BR> as it does each day. " <BR> <BR> I just love it! <BR> <BR> You can read the entire poem ... Thu, 17 Jan 2013 23:24:38 EST Gardening This year I am Vice-President Elect of our Master Gardeners group, which means that I assist the Vice President in planning and holding the new student classes. Today was our first day of class, with 34 trainees going through the 17-week training session. <BR> <BR> Here are a few gardening quotes that I hope you'll enjoy: <BR> <BR> "The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies." ~ Gertrude Jekyll <BR> <BR> "One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation i... Wed, 16 Jan 2013 21:38:00 EST Procrastination The reading for today in my "Meditations for Living in Balance" book by Anne Wilson Schaef is about procrastinating. It's something I am very good at doing, but I am especially trying this year to overcome the temptation to stall. <BR> <BR> "Although we may become accustomed to procrastination, we never become easy with it. Its very nature is to nag, tease, disturb, and haunt. Procrastination is not our friend." <BR> <BR> That's so true. I think I'll write this last sentence on a piece of p... Tue, 15 Jan 2013 23:35:05 EST "Pet Recipes" from 1931 In yesterday's blog I told about going over to my friend's house to get some books that she no longer wanted because she is downsizing to move into a smaller house. I came home with several old cookbooks, and I'm finding them very interesting to browse through. <BR> <BR> Tonight I've been reading "Pet Recipes: The Pet Milk Cookbook" published by The Pet Milk Company in 1931. I looked up the web site on the Internet and found that Pet Milk has been around much longer than I imagined. "Since 1... Tue, 15 Jan 2013 00:36:58 EST "Joys of Jell-O" I spent a most enjoyable afternoon today with one of my friends who is downsizing for a move to another city. She has been going through her book collection and asked if I would like to choose some books for my grandchildren and for myself. It didn't take me long to answer a resounding, "Yes, thank you!" <BR> <BR> One of the books that caught my eye (and, of course, I brought it home) is a 1962 paperbound copy of a cookbook titled "Joys of Jell-O Gelatin Dessert," published by the now defunc... Sun, 13 Jan 2013 23:18:39 EST A Time Guzzler Last month one of my daughters got me started on Pinterest. I had been avoiding getting signed up, knowing that it would consume even more of my time -- especially since I'm easily distracted. <BR> <BR> So far I've done pretty well limiting the time I've spent on the computer looking at pretty pictures, craft ideas, etc. and repinning them to my boards. But this morning I got sucked into it, and before I realized it I had spent about an hour of my time. Time that's gone forever. <BR> <BR> ... Sat, 12 Jan 2013 22:13:51 EST Another Thought on Balance Just a quick blog tonight with a thought I've had today... <BR> <BR> I've been saying that I need to get my life more in balance. I think that's going to be something that I'm going to have to keep working on day by day for the rest of my life. It's kind of like washing the dishes or taking a bath. You get it done one day and then the next day you need to do it all over again. <BR> <BR> So I think I mainly need to be mindful of what I'm doing everyday, make the most of my time, be thankful,... Sat, 12 Jan 2013 00:17:25 EST The Seed Bank at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Last night the speaker at my monthly gardening meeting was Minnette Marr, Plant Conservationist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. The mission of the center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes. <BR> <BR> Founded in 1982 by our former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, and actress Helen Hayes, the organization was first known as the National Wildflower Research Center, and its mission was to protect and preser... Fri, 11 Jan 2013 00:55:36 EST Gardening Meetings I've had so many meetings to attend today -- all with my Master Gardeners group. When I first got my certification I didn't know I'd be spending so much time doing administrative work. <BR> <BR> This morning I attended my first Executive Board member as Vice-President Elect for my organization. All I can say about that meeting (which lasted from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) is that I'm not looking forward to subsequent ones if they are anything like the one today! <BR> <BR> From 1:00 to 2:00... Wed, 9 Jan 2013 18:31:39 EST Craft Buddies "Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits can become tedious." ~ St. Thomas Aquinas <BR> <BR> Every Tuesday afternoon for about the past four years I have hosted a craft play day in my home for two or three friends. For various reasons we have been unable to all get together for several weeks now. <BR> <BR> I had everything set up in case someone did get to come today, but sadly, things did not work out for my friends to get h... Wed, 9 Jan 2013 00:55:13 EST Free Online Puzzles I remember that I used to marvel at my mother's skill in solving cryptograms. I tried them a few times and got discouraged because those letters would just not reveal themselves to me. When I cleaned out my mother's house after she died, I found several cryptogram books among her things and decided to give the puzzles another try. It was as if her puzzle-solving skills were suddenly transferred to me! Since then there have been very few puzzles that I couldn't solve, even without a hint of o... Tue, 8 Jan 2013 00:12:20 EST SoulCollage Sunday In 2010 I attended a session on SoulCollage at an art workshop in the Santa Cruz mountains in California. I found the experience to be just what the SoulCollage website says about it -- a "creative and satisfying collage process." At that particular workshop I created three cards, and I haven't made anymore since then. <BR> <BR> Last week two of my friends (one in Santa Fe and one in Seattle) and I decided to each create one SoulCollage a week and post them on our private Facebook page. I sp... Mon, 7 Jan 2013 00:48:31 EST A Balancing Act In 2001, I bought a little book titled "Meditations for Living in Balance: Daily Solutions for People Who Do Too Much" by Anne Wilson Schaef. (c 2001, published by HarperCollins.) At that time I was a library director of a very busy small-town library. I'm retired now, and I still find that I am driven to try to do too much in one day. <BR> <BR> Here are some excerpts from the January 1 entry in that book: <BR> <BR> "Some of us have bought into the illusion that we can work hard to get our ... Sat, 5 Jan 2013 23:56:28 EST Chaos and Order A few quotes as I think about getting my house in better order: <BR> <BR> "Order is a necessary condition for making a structure function." ~Rudolf Arnheim <BR> <BR> "Chaos breeds life; order breeds habit." ~ Henry Brooks Adams <BR> <BR> "One needs to have chaos in order to give birth to a dancing star." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche <BR> <BR> Now why is that am I partial to the last quote?!?! Fri, 4 Jan 2013 21:57:58 EST So Many Journals, So Little Time I think I got carried away thinking I could work on so many art projects this year. I have started three journals, and I probably don't need to say any more... except that it seemed like a good idea at the time. <BR> <BR> A couple of my friends and I are planning to make a SoulCollage card each week and share them on our private Facebook group. I bought a big piece of black mat board today (on sale 30% off!), but I haven't cut it down to the 8" x 5" size yet to start the cards. I chose a few... Fri, 4 Jan 2013 00:52:02 EST Get Things Done I always enjoy reading Ralph Marston's "The Daily Motivator." Here are the words that are sticking with me today, and I will remember them for tomorrow, too! <BR> <BR> "Stop waiting, stop wishing, stop complaining and start taking positive action. This is a day to get things done, so live it for all it’s worth." <BR> <BR> — Ralph Marston <BR> <BR> <BR> Read more: <link> </link> Wed, 2 Jan 2013 23:55:09 EST To Live, To Grow, To Take Risks These words aren't my own, but were in a weekly email newsletter that I received this morning from artist Robert Genn. I really liked his message, and I find it interesting that he used the word "spark" -- which is especially appropriate for all of us here. And, in our own ways, we are all artists. I'd like to join him in wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! <BR> <BR> "To live, to grow, to take risks, we need to understand ourselves and our spiritual nature. We need to be our own spark an... Tue, 1 Jan 2013 13:20:27 EST End of the Year 2012 I wrote only one blog this year (not counting this one) and that was on January 2, 2012. I got the year off to a good start, but didn't accomplish all that I intended to do -- by a long shot! <BR> <BR> Like I said in my last blog, rather than worry and beat myself up about all the things that I didn't get done, I need to take comfort in what I have accomplished. <BR> <BR> I've spent the past few days working on my goals and objectives for next year. Yes, New Year's Resolutions. Writing the... Mon, 31 Dec 2012 21:53:27 EST Working to Get Off to a Good Start A few years ago my sister-in-law gave me a small ceramic plaque that says "I've learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day and neither can I." This sage quote hangs in my kitchen near my sink where I can see it everyday. However, I guess I haven't been letting the message sink into my head! <BR> <BR> On this second day of 2012, I realize that I need to practice the art of really seeing and being more aware of what's right before my eyes. And I need to quit beating myself up for not be... Mon, 2 Jan 2012 13:41:29 EST Something Different this Saturday This past summer I took a drawing course in Taos, New Mexico, and was really inspired at the time. Got back home to Texas, and have I practiced my drawing since then? No. Not much. <BR> <BR> When I woke up this morning I decided I'd like to start my day doing something different. Got dressed, put on my walking shoes, and headed out the door with my small sketchbook and a pen. <BR> <BR> About a year or so ago a new shopping center was built just outside my neighborhood subdivision. I've bee... Sat, 15 Oct 2011 12:33:47 EST Can You Ever Be Happy Just Because? Is it possible to be happy for no reason at all? Robert Holden, Ph.D. thinks so. <BR> <BR> Here's a link to an article I came across this morning from the "Heal Your Life" newsletter that I receive by email. At the right side of this page are links to many wonderful recent articles that you might also enjoy. <BR> <BR> <link><BR>olden-phd/2011/09/wisdom/inspiration/b<BR>e-unreasonable?utm_id=INSNew </link> <BR> <BR> Now I think I'll go out on the bac... Thu, 29 Sep 2011 12:24:13 EST Rustic Leather Handmade Books Every Tuesday afternoon SparkFriend McJulieO and two other friends and I get together at my home for Craft Play Day. This month our friend T. shared her stash of leather scraps. What a treasure trove! <BR> <BR> Last week we chose and cut our leather, and yesterday we cut paper and bound it into little rustic books using a single signature 5-hole stitch. Three of us added beads to the spines, and we all used a narrow leather thong to wrap our books. To help secure the wrap around mine I chose... Wed, 9 Feb 2011 21:40:53 EST Memories About three weeks ago I was having "one of those days," so I used this quote by A.A. Milne to update my status: <BR> "Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?" <BR> <BR> Lately, I seem to be having those days more and more! Guess my friend picked up on my little secret, because I got an email today with the following link and the message, "Reminds me of you." <BR> <BR> I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did! <BR> <BR> <link> </link> ... Mon, 31 Jan 2011 21:17:56 EST And Now, The 4 C's Today I found this quote by Walt Disney, and all four of his C's are different from the 3 C's I've previously posted. This message really makes sense to me, too, and I guess I'm drawn to short mnemonic devices like this. <BR> <BR> "Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four Cs. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the gr... Sun, 9 Jan 2011 10:13:31 EST The 3 C's of Life The 3 C's of Life <BR> Choices, Chances, and Changes <BR> <BR> "You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change." <BR> <BR> I think this is a good thought to remember as we near the beginning of the new year. <BR> <BR> I've run across this quote several times, but I've had trouble tracking down the original author to properly cite the correct source. So -- my apologies and thanks to the author. <BR> <BR> Happy New Year 2011! Thu, 30 Dec 2010 10:24:41 EST A Week of Rest and Reflection Today I'm beginning my annual review of 2010, and I will start writing my goals and objectives for the coming year. I'm very proud of many of my accomplishments this past year, but others will have to go back on the list for improvement. <BR> <BR> Chris Guillebeau, who writes the blog "The Art of Non-Conformity: Unconventional Strategies for Life, Work and Travel" wrote an article in December 2008 titled "How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review." It's definitely worth reading! <BR> <BR> <li... Mon, 27 Dec 2010 13:52:08 EST Nonna Christmas Camp This evening I will be getting my 6-year-old grandson and my 7-year-old granddaughter for a two-night visit to my house for what they call "Nonna Christmas Camp." Cousins come together for this trip, instead of sisters and brothers coming at the same time. They really get along well with each other, and I can gear the crafts we do to their age groups. <BR> <BR> These grandchildren will stay until Tuesday and then their siblings (ages 9 and 10) will come for their two-night visit. My youngest... Sun, 19 Dec 2010 14:05:30 EST Iris Folding McJulieO and two other crafting friends and I got together today and tried our hands at iris folding. I would have never tried it by myself because I assumed it was too difficult for me to figure out. I always want to have fun while I'm making crafts -- not get frustrated. Well, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't so hard after all! <BR> <BR> I had been saving a stash of wrapping paper for some unknown future craft projects, and today's craft was just the right project to us... Tue, 7 Dec 2010 23:33:34 EST Definition of Insanity "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." <BR> <BR> Whether this quote is attributed to Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, or Rita Mae Brown, I worry that it's been describing me lately. How many months am I going to be stuck in this plateau? Five months is much too long! <BR> <BR> I've read almost all the articles and hints on SparkPeople about breaking a plateau, and I have tried varying my exercise plan and my diet. I... Mon, 25 Oct 2010 11:42:23 EST Teeny-Weeny Halloween Book I enjoy making little books to give to my five grandchildren, and this year I wanted to try something different. I was determined to use the sgraffito technique that I learned in my art class a couple of weeks ago, so this past Wednesday I put together this teeny-weeny fold-out Halloween book. <BR> <BR> I recycled a paper napkin mounted on cardboard for the front and back covers, and I folded an 8 1/2 inch square of card stock for the pages. I decided to paint one inch squares ("inchies")... Fri, 15 Oct 2010 22:44:50 EST Four Things in My Life 'FOUR THINGS IN MY LIFE' QUIZ - shamelessly copied from one member, who borrowed it from another, and another... <BR> <BR> Four jobs I have had in my life: <BR> 1. Library Director <BR> 2. Magazine Editor/Art Director <BR> 3. Real Estate Broker <BR> 4. Graphic Arts Designer <BR> <BR> Four movies I have watched more than once: <BR> 1. 84 Charing Cross Road <BR> 2. Miss Potter <BR> 3. Amelie <BR> 4. Mamma Mia! <BR> <BR> Four places I have lived: <BR> 1. New Braunfels, TX <BR> 2. Boe... Wed, 6 Oct 2010 12:41:41 EST The Week in Review This morning I got up a little earlier than usual and went out for a walk in my neighborhood. I usually walk in the evenings, and I enjoyed the slight change of pace today. I have a bad habit of staying up until the wee hours, so I'm trying to convince myself to start going to bed earlier so that I can get up earlier to walk in the mornings. We'll see how that goes... <BR> <BR> I had a luncheon date planned with my friends at noon, but when I got in my car it wouldn't start. I haven't been a... Fri, 10 Sep 2010 18:35:11 EST A Busy Week This past week has been a really busy one for me, and an enjoyable one, too. <BR> <BR> I don't go to the movies very often, but ended up seeing three movies at the theater this week -- "Eat Pray Love", "Avatar" in 3-D, and "The American." Beautiful scenery in all of them, although I really can't recommend "The American." A bit too dark for my taste. <BR> <BR> On Tuesday my two craft buddies came over for our weekly Craft Play Day. Along with working on our inchies, we talked a lot and had ... Fri, 3 Sep 2010 18:57:07 EST Shadowbox Shrine A couple of years ago I purchased Laurie Mika's beautiful book "Mixed-Media Mosaics: Techniques & Projects Using Polymer Clay Tiles, Beads & Other Embellishments." I attended Artfest in 2009, and while I wasn't able to join her class there, I marveled at her students' work and took pictures of their finished projects. When I got back home I bought some different colors of polymer clay so that I could make some tiles and create a project of my own. Never got around to it. <BR> <BR> During the... Wed, 25 Aug 2010 13:33:42 EST Crafty Shoes "Nonna Camp" is now officially closed for the summer. Each of my four oldest grandchildren (ages 10, 9, 7, and 6) come to visit me at separate times each summer, and it's a special time for us to make crafts, cook, work puzzles, have tea parties, swim, play golf, watch for falling stars and generally just spend quality time with each other. I always say that I don't know who enjoys our time together more -- the kids or me! <BR> <BR> Before I leave tomorrow to go to my daughter's house to tak... Tue, 17 Aug 2010 00:53:41 EST A Walk to the New Grocery Store A new grocery store just opened near my neighborhood on Friday, and when I first saw the start of the construction, I decided I'd walk to the store as soon as I could. Last night was the night. <BR> <BR> After a late dinner, my friend and I got on our walking shoes, took the security gate remote control, gathered a couple of shopping bags and my rolling cart, put new batteries in the flashlight, and set out for the store. The new shopping center is about a mile from my door, so that's just t... Sun, 1 Aug 2010 14:43:07 EST