MCJULIEO's SparkPeople Blog MCJULIEO's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community Stampede!!!! Not Exactly! As everybody who lives in Texas knows, the dark days of winter when everybody else in the country has to battle blizzards and white-outs are just the perfect season for rodeos... <BR> <BR> Yes, it really is Rodeo season in Texas....We're talkin' RO- dee- oh, ....Not ro-DAY-oh, not in Texas, unless you want to attract unwanted attention... football season is officially over, both college and pro, and all the winter Texans, who migrate down from Minnesota and Iowa and South Dakota and points n... Tue, 9 Feb 2016 23:03:32 EST Good Time Except for the Chocolate The trouble with having skinny friends is that when you have lunch with them they want everyone to be as chocolate snacky as they are.... <BR> <BR> Like lunch today for example, when I had lunch with some extended family, not my extended family, but all of them were related to each other, and I was invited to enjoy all the fun along with them. The mom and grandmom had worked to set the table with the Valentine theme and each place setting had a little heart-shaped bowl with chocolate M&Ms ... Sun, 7 Feb 2016 23:00:23 EST Dirty Ducts!!! Man, oh man! I had an air conditioning technician show me how dirty the air conditioning ducts were in my house, and it was pretty bad after 30+ years, and so the duct cleaners came today .... <BR> <BR> This is apparently quite a big deal and they had to work at every vent in the house, but they were able to finish in less than three hours. But before they left they put some kind of anti-microbial gas through the system to take care of any mold/ organisms that didn't get cleared out by thei... Fri, 5 Feb 2016 23:57:15 EST Peculiar Valentines I just KNOW that peculiar valentines, and even specialty genre valentines are here to stay... <BR> <BR> Here are a few more that made me smile: <BR> Appealing to most people with at least 35 credit hours of college chemistry <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Honest valentines <BR> <BR> <img src=" Thu, 4 Feb 2016 22:44:54 EST My Very First Review on Tripadvisor I don't usually write reviews although if I like a place I don't hesitate to mention it to my friends.... but somewhere I read that up to 50% of online reviews are bogus... so I decided to give it a try just to push the scales over to the True and Honest side. <BR> <BR> My first review on Tripadvisor is for a restaurant that I live just down the street from, within easy walking distance from home, and one I have patronized for more than 30 years.... .and one that deserves as high a ranking a... Wed, 3 Feb 2016 15:23:30 EST Valentines Month Even though I am personally out of the Lovey-Dovey Valentine scene, I still enjoy watching all the hoopla and shenanigans connected with the holiday, even the ANTI Valentines items... but, as an observer, I think Valentines Day drives more people crazy than any other holiday... <BR> <BR> I'll post a few cards that have raised my eyebrows a little bit... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src="http://photosaw... Tue, 2 Feb 2016 21:54:46 EST Black and Blue Remember that face-plant I made last week that I was so embarrassed about? <BR> <BR> Well, through the beauty of natural physiology, I can now follow the path of destruction that wreaked on my body... <BR> <BR> In short, I am black and blue in various places, or rather, I WAS black and blue... NOW I am black and blue and green..... and soon to be a little yellow.... on my hands and wrists and knees... <BR> <BR> But nothing hurts, praise the Lord, and though there's a bit of a scrape on on... Tue, 2 Feb 2016 00:26:40 EST Successful Dodge I blame it on the internet..... <BR> Oh, Internet, Internet, How do I love thee??!? You overflow with creativity and ideas which make my life SO interesting... <BR> <BR> Like certain recipes! That's what happened this week.... I saw a recipe, and it sounded so Good, so delectable, SO EASY.... that I just HAD to make it, even though there is NO WAY in any known universe that I could possibly justify having it around my house... <BR> <BR> Chocolate Peanut Butter Poke Cake used a cake mix to ... Sun, 31 Jan 2016 18:35:04 EST Probably My Longest Streak Ever Sparkpeople sent me an award today for 1350 consecutive days of logging into Sparkpeople... <BR> <BR> That's more than 3 and a half years! <BR> <BR> I can't imagine ANYTHING that I've done everyday for the last three plus years other than basic bodily functions... <BR> <BR> Sparkpeople, You have been good to me for lo these many years.... encouraging me.... kicking me in the rear end when I needed it most.... guiding me through the tumult of troubling and trying times... making me laugh wh... Sat, 30 Jan 2016 10:47:18 EST Lovely Craft Play Day Again Today Such fantastic weather lent the opportunity to open the windows while we, Sparkpal, Improving Me and our friend, Donna, and I, played at being Artsy..... today we actually played with watercolors, and by "played", I mean actually slinging water and pigment and paper towels around... <BR> <BR> Well perhaps "slinging" is not the most accurate term, .....we had spray bottles of water....and were using a product none of us had ever used before, Color Burst powders, which is basically powdered wa... Fri, 29 Jan 2016 21:25:41 EST Embarrassing Face Plant I tripped over my own two feet as I was approaching the entrance of a Kohl's Department Store, and went down hard onto my hands and knees and face..... and there was no one around to appreciate my klutziness... <BR> <BR> It took a few moments to gather myself together, check the damage, and get up as if nothing had happened... <BR> <BR> I don't seem to be hurt... it could have been much MUCH worse... but I was plenty embarrassed! <BR> <BR> Incidentally, if I remember my high school Spanish... Thu, 28 Jan 2016 21:06:02 EST Is Alphabet Pasta TOO Much to Ask For? I went to TWO more grocery stores today in San Antonio, and neither one had alphabet pasta.... that makes three in the last 24 hours!! I begged some off of Sparkpal, Improving Me, for Craft Play Day last week but needed some more.... It's funny how just playing with them in front of you gives you all kinds of ideas of how to use them creatively... <BR> <BR> Speaking of "creatively", as I entered one of the groceries this afternoon, a very large man in a somewhat unusual garb was deep in conv... Wed, 27 Jan 2016 23:56:09 EST NOW We Have Some Winter!!! Not that we can possibly compare with the blizzards of the Northeast, but in comparison with Monday when a friend and I ate at a wonderful outdoor restaurant here in Gruene, on the banks of the beautiful green Guadalupe River, today was COLD! <BR> <BR> It was rainy and windy and the high was in the mid 50s!!!! <BR> <BR> And it felt great! I got to wear long sleeves! <BR> <BR> AND a scarf! <BR> <BR> And every bit of rain right now is contributing to what I hope will be a fantastic wildflo... Tue, 26 Jan 2016 22:59:15 EST Detours Can Be Good I'm planning a trip with the traveling Aggies, my alumni group, and we were supposed to go to Istanbul Turkey, after a stop in Ephesus, turkey.... <BR> <BR> Today after carefully planning out what excursions I wanted to take in Ephesus and in Istanbul, I got an email saying that our itinerary has changed, that they had decided that turkey was not secure enough, and that we would delete all stops in Turkey and would substitute a couple of extra places in Greece, like Rhodes, Patmos, and A... Mon, 25 Jan 2016 22:58:15 EST Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Spring It was one of those glorious south Texas winter days today.... the kind of day that many Texans, when faced with $1.44/gal gasoline, just HAVE to go SOMEWHERE.... <BR> <BR> And I just happen to live just down the street from Gruene (pronounced "GREEN") Hall, the oldest continuously operating dance hall in Texas.... which is one of the places that many Texans love to go when they're looking for a destination... for good reason... <BR> <BR> Gruene Hall hosts hot country western artists all t... Mon, 25 Jan 2016 00:08:00 EST Sibling Shenanigans One of my grown children lives in the northeast and is right now hunkered down to over a foot of snow paralyzing their area..... which led another of my grown children who lives in south Texas to send a text message with a photograph taken today of his children out playing in their swimsuits in the backyard wading pool .... <BR> <BR> Which prompted cyber groans and pictures taken in Maryland of the many drifts surrounding their home.... <BR> <BR> This went on for a few exchanges (I was luck... Sat, 23 Jan 2016 19:23:55 EST Craft Play Day Again! How long can I go without getting together with my Craft Play Day pals before getting cranky??? Part creativity, part therapy, our Craft Play Day is always fun and a good time to escape from our regular lives.... <BR> <BR> Sparkpal, Improving Me, and another friend and I made it an INTERNATIONAL LUNCH craft play day with Italian soup (Pasta Fagiole by Improving Me) and Greek olive oil to dip our French bread in, with chunks of a lovely Mexican avocado salad.. and since we're just passing t... Fri, 22 Jan 2016 20:30:31 EST Inner Disney Princess Buzzfeed is a website I seem to run across, and then cannot extract myself until I have wasted WAY too much time.... but it always has enticing headlines that are hard to resist and I fall for it almost every time, so when it had a collection of photos of products for people who love Disney stuff, I had to go look.. <BR> <BR> A decal for your laptop <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <BR> An odd "comb" <BR> <img src="... Thu, 21 Jan 2016 11:07:59 EST Lost In Translation Well, I've been reading a LOT of online reviews for hotels/sleeping establishments in Rome, and since many have been written in languages other than English, I would be up a creek if online translations were not available... <BR> <BR> But some of the translations can be a little cryptic... <BR> <BR> Like this one for an inexpensive convent B&B: <BR> <BR> I stayed with my parents in September, the lowest prices compared to other facilities so we expected to lower conditions ... Not at all! ... Wed, 20 Jan 2016 22:32:03 EST Anyone Been to Rome? I'm taking a trip. <BR> <BR> To Rome. <BR> <BR> In the late Spring/early Summer. <BR> <BR> I need to make hotel reservations for 4 nights. Cost is a consideration, but I need Safe, and I WANT Clean. <BR> <BR> I'm hoping for some friendly, wise advice...... Anyone? Mon, 18 Jan 2016 10:48:55 EST It's All Relative Next weekend there will be what sponsors are calling a "Polar Bear Plunge" in our local spring fed river, the Comal River, known for being the best tubing river in Texas.... it bubbles out of the ground at a lovely volume and 6 miles later, all withing city limits, it joins the Guadalupe River, another beautiful recreational river which eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico.... <BR> <BR> Ironic in that the Comal River is a standard temperature (72 degrees F - 22 C) year round, and the sam... Sun, 17 Jan 2016 15:58:23 EST Literary Multi Tasking What a great day! I got out to the store early, and I accidentally found a lovely arcade basketball set-up on clearance that will make a wonderful gift for a 7 year old whose adoption should be finalized pretty soon..... I love Walmart when I find treasures... (and I got there early enough that shopping was a breeze with relatively few people there) <BR> <BR> And then when I got home I attacked the clutter around the house while listening to some audio books..... the time FLEW by, and as I e... Sat, 16 Jan 2016 21:34:54 EST A Really Great Day Yesterday was a really great day.... I got to spend the afternoon studying the book of Revelation with my BSF peeps, and then when I got home again, I managed to not only get a good stretch of time in on the treadmill, but I also managed to rack up over 300 Sparkpoints!!!! <BR> <BR> A 200 Sparkpoint day is not too unusual for me.... it happens occasionally, but I think I've hit 300+ only a handful of times, and this was from the same set of circumstances, bonus points from the Team bonuses,... Sat, 16 Jan 2016 00:04:02 EST The Trouble With Stretch Pants I went ahead and bought some new slacks this fall, and, wanting to be at least SOMEwhat in style, I bought some jean leggings, or "jeggings", as they are called, made from a stretch denim... <BR> <BR> I liked them a lot when I first bought them, but they seem to be getting a little baggy... the waist doesn't seem quite as snug as when I first bought them, and neither do the other places where fit is important... <BR> <BR> My problem is that when the stretch pants seem loose, I begin to thi... Thu, 14 Jan 2016 23:17:08 EST Self Help I ran across this on Blog Lovin's Tilly and the Buttons blog post, and thought it intriguing <BR> <BR> <BR> Self Help <BR> How to stop time: kiss. <BR> How to travel in time: read. <BR> How to escape time: music. <BR> How to feel time: write. <BR> How to release time: breathe. <BR> <BR> <BR> I think I will be thinking about it all day... <BR> <BR> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 11:47:28 EST Good Decisions Some decisions are good because they are good at just that moment. <BR> <BR> Some decisions are good because they are good all the time... <BR> <BR> Today I chose to stay home and eat lunch I had prepared at home, even though I had a wonderful coupon for a restaurant which is highlighting its healthy menu... it would have been a good deal... <BR> <BR> BUT I was able to fix a fantastic lunch/dinner from food I had in the pantry and fridge, and still have money in my pocket! Today I chose to... Tue, 12 Jan 2016 23:30:23 EST Trying to Keep Up a Streak Spark Guy is RIGHT! (Well, you already knew that, but it has become evident even to me....) <BR> <BR> I've managed to keep up a HUGE streak of Sparkpeople check-ins, several years worth, but I'm not so hot on the water drinking (maybe a month or so, and then whoops! Time to start a new water drinking streak)... <BR> <BR> Just recently I've been trying to keep up a measurable exercise streak, and it means that I push myself away from whatever has ensnared me, in order to make sure that I ha... Mon, 11 Jan 2016 23:27:20 EST Another Glorious Day! Isn't it amazing how the weather can affect your/my spirits!??!!?! <BR> <BR> Today was another of those breathtakingly beautiful days, and I ALMOST found myself wishing that I had some little kids around that I could whoosh outside to play with! <BR> <BR> Anyhow, I am grateful for the glorious weather! Mon, 11 Jan 2016 00:46:32 EST Whirlwinds Are Good! I have this friend... let's call her Barb.... because that's her name.... I've known her since we sat next to each other in Organic Chemistry in college...she discipled me in how to grow as a young Christian.... she taught me how to pray... how to study he Bible.... we've been close friends since a LONG time.... <BR> <BR> She introduced me to Sparkpeople! <BR> <BR> She lives 2.5 hours away. <BR> <BR> And Thursday she called to say she had a chance to rendezvous with one of he... Sat, 9 Jan 2016 11:44:55 EST Breathtaking! The blog which normally appears in this space has been preempted for a public service announcement which will be short : <BR> <BR> Today was an absolutely gorgeous, beautiful, breathtaking day! <BR> <BR> I am guessing that the temperature was in the 70s and the sunshine was so spectacular that anyone who went outside would have had to be paralyzed with its beauty. I know that I was! <BR> <BR> Thu, 7 Jan 2016 20:25:14 EST Hair- More Reflections On Oh! To have had the perfect hair in my teens would have been a dream come true! Unfortunately, my flip tended to flip downward, and my tresses were always too curly by half.... <BR> <BR> Which is the way it has been pretty much my whole life... <BR> <BR> You've seen those photo essays which show how you WANTED or DREAMED you looked versus how you ACTUALLY looked??? <BR> <BR> These are some samples of this: <BR> <BR> This is Nickie Minaj with the hair I wish I had <BR> <img src="http://ph... Wed, 6 Jan 2016 21:09:52 EST Check List Check Off Major accomplishment today: <BR> <BR> I got my hair cut! <BR> <BR> What is it with women and their hair???? <BR> <BR> Even world famous models despair over their hair (and you KNOW how gorgeous THEY are!) <BR> <BR> it's too straight! or It's too CURLY.... <BR> <BR> or It's not shiny! <BR> <BR> Or it grows too fast..... or not fast enough! <BR> <BR> I'm afraid that I have given up..... not enough to shave my head, mind you..... but I have developed a "Resistance is Futile" mentality.... Tue, 5 Jan 2016 23:43:36 EST More "It Must Be a SIGN!" I can't help it... I just love peculiar signs <BR> (Hope these are big enough for you to read):: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 3 Jan 2016 17:30:43 EST This Must Be a Sign! Whenever the DH and I would come across a goofy sign like one of these, that is exactly what one of us would exclaim..... <BR> <BR> "This must be a SIGN!" <BR> I hope that you can enlarge these enough to be able to read them.... that last one from the UNC at Charlotte Library is a hoot! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sat, 2 Jan 2016 23:05:22 EST New Year, New Resolutions/Aims Rather than make resolutions, I want to aim for certain behaviors... <BR> <BR> For 2016, I want to: <BR> Read more <BR> Sew more <BR> Write more letters <BR> Be more organized <BR> <BR> And Procrastinate less. <BR> <BR> And clean out the garage. <BR> <BR> <BR> That should be enough. <BR> <BR> For Now. Fri, 1 Jan 2016 23:25:10 EST Recycled Buckwheat Pillow My DH loved sleeping on a buckwheat pillow, but I never much cared for the thing, so now that he's gone I hated to just throw it away (I mean, a pillow USED by somebody else isn't very appealing) <BR> <BR> SO, I thought the very best use for it would be to open it up and toss the buckwheat hulls from the inside into the compost heap.... <BR> <BR> BUT, I discovered just how effective a bag of rice is (rice sewed into a cloth bag) for a heat compress.... someone gave me a pair for Christmas,... Fri, 1 Jan 2016 00:43:29 EST Painful I'm watching my beloved Texas A&M football team get manhandled by Louisville in the Music City Bowl game tonight, and it's painful to watch, but not an experience new to Aggies who have been around for a while.... I can remember some spectacular losses, but am choosing to hope for the best.... there is still over a half of a football game to play... <BR> <BR> On a happier note, I went to the grocery store this morning and came home with some good buys (8 grapefruit for $1... Yay!!!), but res... Wed, 30 Dec 2015 20:27:56 EST Time to Pay the Piper It seems anti-climactic, and I've been expecting it, but when I weighed after being away from home for part of the holidays, I had gained 2 pounds... <BR> <BR> I was doing so well until this last week. <BR> <BR> It's time to turn things around, pledge myself to careful food tracking, and make sure that I get some cardio in several days per week, if not EVERY day of the week. <BR> <BR> Entirely do-able. <BR> <BR> And I can get a jump start on the New Year! <BR> <BR> Makes sense to me. Wed, 30 Dec 2015 00:12:16 EST Still More Star Wars It just keeps coming, more and more Star Wars related cultural indicators.... <BR> <BR> Here are some Star Wars inspired fine art (I hope that they show up large enough for you to enjoy them): <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=" Tue, 29 Dec 2015 00:56:43 EST More Star Wars Fascination Just having The Force Awakens (or "TFA" to fans) released for the movie public has stimulated a lot of creativity... <BR> <BR> For example: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src="http://photosaws.sparkpeo... Sun, 27 Dec 2015 20:36:22 EST Star Wars Mania Oh My Goodness! The Force Awakens has stirred up all kinds of Star Wars fever, and the true Star Wars fan has a lot to enjoy... <BR> <BR> I was a fanatical follower of the original Star Wars trilogy, was less than enthusiastic about the later prequels, and have not yet seen the newest installment of the saga , but I am LOVING all the cultural flourishes that have embellished and elaborated on the Star Wars theme, ..... like the Ken Burns' "Civil War" -like pseudo documentary on the Empire vs... Sun, 27 Dec 2015 00:05:47 EST Little Things Make Big Difference I surprised my mother by driving to Houston (~3 hour drive) for a visit... she was shocked when I sat down next to her at my brother's house... and thrilled! When I told her that I had brought my wheelchair ramp van, she was positively ecstatic! <BR> <BR> She's 94, in a power wheelchair, and the few times she gets out, she gets out with a wheelchair-like transfer chair, and depends on people pushing her around, which means she is dependent upon others to be her motor, and she really hates a... Fri, 25 Dec 2015 21:50:13 EST Christmas Eve Candlelight Service That candlelight service that I've been working on for so long is now done, and I got the most out of it... the whole idea of God becoming Man is mind boggling to begin with, but the Bible clearly indicates that God had a plan in place to redeem His people, even before they knew anything about Him... It's a wonder, and the more I study His Word, the more impressed I am. <BR> <BR> I built my Christmas Eve candlelight service around two truths: <BR> <BR> 1) That Jesus was born to become the P... Thu, 24 Dec 2015 21:25:17 EST Christmas Early While te distant part of the family is here, we converged on one of the kid's houses and "had Christmas". We exchanged gifts and ate a nice healthy meal that I didn't have to cook... <BR> And played outside in the absolutely perfect 80 degree weather with 8 children under the age of 12.... and we all had a lovely time, ... all except the one year old who, as it turned out, because they managed to get in to see the doctor, had a double ear infection... <BR> <BR> Poor Baby! <BR> <BR> Anyhow... Thu, 24 Dec 2015 00:32:27 EST Huzzah! Short Blog... Plumbing is now fixed... plumber thinks he got the root clog cleared out, should be good for at least another year, or at least get us through having company over the holidays.... I trust him, and know that he will come bail me out if necessary... <BR> <BR> Subsequent laundry and dishes now done.... Woo Hoo! <BR> <BR> Other details falling into place.. <BR> - Car registration can be renewed online <BR> - Gifts can be delivered by Amazon <BR> - Gasoline has dropped to 163.9 at closest gas st... Tue, 22 Dec 2015 12:32:54 EST When It Rains....! OK, we got the church Christmas choir program done, and nobody Boo-ed, so I'm happy... we rendezvoused with the cousin who wanted to see the far-off cousins in town for the holiday... we got the Other set of grandchildren driving in from an hour away, AND.... <BR> <BR> When two or three (or more) are gathered together.... <BR> <BR> The plumbing goes crazy, and starts overflowing washing machine gray water out of the bathroom commode, just bubbling and cascading down the side like an endless... Mon, 21 Dec 2015 13:28:51 EST Must Be More Stressed Than I Thought We all (grandchildren and their parents and I) got to bed at decent times, but I woke up at 4am and cannot get back to sleep... I'm singing in the choir for a special musical Christmas program at church this morning, and for lunch We are planning a rendezvous with another set of lively grandchildren (3 kids, ages 4 and under) and a young newlywed cousin and her new husband. <BR> <BR> Then I'm coordinating our church's Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, which still needs a script, readers for... Sun, 20 Dec 2015 05:57:38 EST Holding On For Dear Life The addition of 5 people, including 3 grandchildren, to my household has made it a lot, LOT more lively, and a LOT more noisy.... and when you add another set of grandchildren with their parents, the lively meter goes off the scales... <BR> <BR> Fortunately it was a beautiful day and many went outside for at least part of the time, and of course, there was the obligatory walk down to Gruene Hall and its environs for a fun time of gawking at the tourists and enjoying the festive Christmas atm... Sat, 19 Dec 2015 19:10:56 EST Full House! Our DD arrived with her husband and three kids who have spent the last 3 days on the road... Their beds were cleared off here and I still have some cleaning to do, but they pitched in and soon the front porch was swept and dinner was on the table... <BR> <BR> DS-I-L took their oldest to see the new Star Wars movie on its release day, while we stayed home and watched Matilda (such fun!)... <BR> <BR> Anyhow I suspect that Star Wars fans will fill the Web with first hand accounts of what's wha... Fri, 18 Dec 2015 23:23:01 EST My Stash Is a Bit of a Problem Oh wait! I am not talking about my stash of books, <BR> OR my stash of fabric, <BR> OR my stash of other craft supplies... <BR> Although I do readily admit that the combined bulk of the above CAN be a bit of a problem sometimes.... <BR> <BR> BUT, I am actually talking about my stash of gift items.... I don't think that I am the only one in this group who buys likely gifts for family and loved ones when they go on sale throughout the year (the GIFTS, not the family and loved ones)... unfortu... Thu, 17 Dec 2015 16:35:14 EST