MCJULIEO's SparkPeople Blog MCJULIEO's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community A Spark Video I Could Watch Every Day I love Kid President, the little boy who has made a number of videos for Soul Pancake... Since I've been watching his videos (and more than one are on our Instant Inspiration list here on SP) he has probably grown up to be a not-so-nearly adorable adolescent, or perhaps as is the way with these things, he may actually be (Gulp!) an Adult now, but I love the videos that we have from earlier times.... <BR> <BR> The one I watched this morning was entitled "A Pep Talk from Kid President to You"... Mon, 23 Jan 2017 11:22:12 EST So Windy I would've remarked on how weird it's been to have high winds around here.... Every time I go outside, my hair Beats me half to death.... <BR> <BR> But <BR> <BR> The recent tornadoes in Mississippi have made my comment on winds inconsequential...and a young friend was in the midst of the excitement when her college, William Carey, took a direct hit, and they barely escaped with their lives... The roof of her dorm collapsed right onto her bed which she had vacated only moments before, an... Sun, 22 Jan 2017 22:43:10 EST Adventures in Housekeeping! Amazing (to Me) Finds It's been far too long since I've gone through all the closets and all the cabinets and all the drawers and all the book shelves.... <BR> <BR> And it will still be a while before it gets done! <BR> <BR> But like all (unpleasant, but necessary) tasks, a little bit done at a time will still move the progress on ... <BR> <BR> So I'm cleaning out the craft room, that is to say, my guest bedroom which used to be occupied by children before they left home, and which they are not likely to inhabi... Sun, 22 Jan 2017 00:39:37 EST Choose Snarky-ness? Not! I was listening to the inauguration on the radio today, and after the ceremony, I got frustrated with the overall tone of the broadcast, so instead of fretting and fuming, I just demonstrated that the Power Button can be used just as easily to turn the radio OFF, as it is to turn the radio ON. <BR> <BR> And on top of that, instead of watching the latest movie from the library, I've decided to skip it altogether, and return it to the library unwatched (because the preview made the movie look ... Fri, 20 Jan 2017 22:18:34 EST Great Day to Be Outdoors I had only a brief time outside today, but part of it I got to enjoy a little landscaped lake with all the animals that live around it as the clouds cleared and the first real sunshine we've had in several days came out.... in the past I have seen swans gliding on this little lake but there were none today.... <BR> <BR> A bank of turtles seemed to be lined up on the opposite shore, and an elegantly white egret waded right past them without disturbing them.... two diving ducks kept me enterta... Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:33:13 EST I Had A Coupon! So I've been to the Craft Stores 4 times in 3 days.... well, it was 2 Different Craft Stores, and I bought different stuff at each visit.... except I DID buy SOME of the same stuff.... because it was on sale for 50% off!!! <BR> <BR> My recycled book mania that I have been funnelling into making book paper jewelry requires quite a lot of little bits and pieces of specific metal thingies that I am just now developing a vocabulary for (things like lobster claws, and jump rings and head pins an... Wed, 18 Jan 2017 23:05:23 EST Craft Play Day! Always cheaper than a real psychiatrist, our Craft Play Day group, Sparkpal, Improving Me, and library pal Donna and I, met together to drink hot tea, munch on snacks, and wrestle large pieces of string and small pieces of paper into subjection.... actually, today we had no string, but instead we learned the intricacies of certain jewelry findings, and how to make earrings The Right Way, The Almost Right Way, and the Holy Smokes! We're Going to Need More Glue Way... an excellent time was had ... Tue, 17 Jan 2017 23:26:51 EST Gloomy Makes for Perfect Crafting Days It was dark and overcast almost all day today with a few blasts of stray and erratic sunshine, but I had an opportunity to dig out some paper crafting tools and give them a spin... after testing a paper bead roller, I decided to see how to best use some pages from an old falling-apart version of Little Women. Recycling old books for fashion when they can no longer be read as books actually makes a lot of sense. <BR> <BR> Eventually they will become dangles on some home made earrings (did you... Mon, 16 Jan 2017 21:06:30 EST Gloomy Makes for Perfect Crafting Days It was dark and overcast almost all day today with a few blasts of stray and erratic sunshine, but I had an opportunity to dig out some paper crafting tools and give them a spin... after testing a paper bead roller, I decided to see how to best use some pages from an old falling-apart version of Little Women. Recycling old books for fashion when they can no longer be read as books actually makes a lot of sense. <BR> <BR> Eventually they will become dangles on some home made earrings (did you... Mon, 16 Jan 2017 21:06:25 EST It Was a Dark and Stormy Night Hahahaha! I love that "It was a dark and stormy night" opening sentence... And, after all, right now it IS dark, and it IS stormy, and Bingo, it is NIGHT! <BR> <BR> I've been collecting opening sentences lately in connection with my library crafts project... Have you got a favorite? <BR> <BR> Right now, my favorite is "There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb,... and he almost deserved it." from C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:58:16 EST One Bad Thing About Fruit One bad thing about fruit is that it attracts and even promotes ..... fruit flies! I really detest fruit flies, and I know they live short desperate lives, but they hitchhike home from the grocery store in closed produce bags, and then make themselves feel so welcome in my kitchen. <BR> <BR> Pineapples are the worst... but bananas are right up there for producing fruit flies.... and if there are none of THOSE, well.... apparently if they are not near the fruit they love, then they love the f... Sun, 15 Jan 2017 00:34:36 EST Lovely Day, for a Friday the Thirteenth Have I ever been uncomfortable with Friday the 13th? Have you? Announcers on the radio made a big deal out of it, and even traced the history of the Friday the Thirteenth phenomenon, but it signified little to nothing in my universe today.... maybe I've lived through so many of them that they don't make a blip on my radar any more... the radio people even announced that there will be another one in 2017, like that was a big deal.... I'm figuring that twice a year is about right... I mean, the... Fri, 13 Jan 2017 23:42:47 EST Sheer Culinary Delight I was in Trader Joe's yesterday and I bought something I had never seen before, Trader Joe's Smoked Extra Virgin Olive Oil... and I opened it tonight to stir-fry as many vegetables as I had on hand: onions, (both sweet yellow and red), green and orange peppers, and some yellow summer squash.... <BR> <BR> From the moment I twisted the cap off, I was transported by the exquisite aroma, they weren't kidding! The smoked olive oil, even before heating, made the kitchen a whole other level of cul... Thu, 12 Jan 2017 23:36:20 EST Craft Play Day Yesterday Sparkpal, Improving Me, and I spent yesterday afternoon trying to make a few Pinterest projects in real life as we enjoyed another Craft Play Day .... <BR> <BR> We decided that even though we had picked some fairly easy projects, they were a bit more complicated and difficult than we had anticipated... And more time consuming! <BR> <BR> It's not quite as bad as some of the Pinterest Fail reports that I've seen, but I can see that I need to practice a bit with jewelry pliers and various fi... Wed, 11 Jan 2017 22:38:16 EST Made Me Smile Last week I found myself alone in the "break room" of a realty company that a friend had business with, and the signs on the walls gave me such a tickle... though I knew that I was an outsider, and was probably an unexpected visitor to this Inner Sanctum, I felt like I had a little bit of connection to the people after I saw their reminders: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Which reads: <BR> "I have decided that I no... Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:25:39 EST Thawed Out! Man! It's back to short sleeve weather again... but I still need some sleep. <BR> <BR> I'm heading to bed before I can think of something else that needs attention.!!! Tue, 10 Jan 2017 00:50:17 EST Getting Used to the Cold Still cold around here (17 degrees!?!) this morning, and there have been reports of broken pipes, but having the right wardrobe really helps with being able to manage with the fluctuating temperatures .... FINALLY, I'm getting to layer thin garments which cumulatively provide all the insulation I need.... <BR> <BR> Plus, the sunshine that soaked the afternoon actually warmed the day so much that I didn't even take a coat to church this evening... I must be getting used to this... Sun, 8 Jan 2017 22:58:31 EST Cold, and Too Warm! So, it got cold last night, coldest of the season, but still warm compared to most of the country (we got down to 26 degrees), and this morning when I decided that the sunshine was beckoning to me, I decided to put a whole lot of layers on, and go to Walmart! <BR> <BR> Walmart! Walmart! How do I love thee!! Even though the Big W didn't have one of the items I was especially interested in (a 1" circular hole punch), it still had tons and tons of STUFF, and a great big enclosed space for gett... Sat, 7 Jan 2017 21:31:39 EST So Sleepy.....Zzzzzzzz I didn't sleep well last night, apparently, and I woke up early thinking about such intriguing craft projects that I couldn't go back to sleep.... <BR> <BR> I KNOW! This creative frenzy should have arrived about a MONTH ago.... but it really reminded me that I have GOT to get rid of a bunch of clutter so that I can FIND the tools that I need to be able to work out my creative inclinations... <BR> <BR> Having written down the ideas that plagued my sleep last night, I'm going to bed early to... Thu, 5 Jan 2017 22:34:00 EST Hard to Let Go of the Holidays I rode up to Austin with a friend today and we traversed from Far West Austin to Far North Austin, and then home through Far South Austin.... wherever we went there were things worth noticing.... <BR> <BR> For one thing, all those roadside decorated Christmas trees are still dressed up in tinsel, ornaments, and, in some cases, lights... I guess the phantom decorators are just as reluctant as the rest of us to dismantle our Christmases. <BR> <BR> I wanted my friend to see the Flagship Whole ... Wed, 4 Jan 2017 23:29:37 EST Back to Real Life Officially the holidays are over as of today.... the post office delivered mail today.... the library was open again... our Bible study started back today.... and Sparkpal, Improving Me, and I got together again for Craft Play Day! (YAY!) <BR> <BR> It was a gorgeous day, and we let our creative juices flow as we were working on converting pages of an old copy of Pride and Prejudice into 1) Christmas ornaments, 2) feathers, 3) beads for earrings..... the thing is: the more time you set aside ... Tue, 3 Jan 2017 23:53:00 EST A Good Reason! I live in one of the fastest growing areas of the country.... In fact, THREE of the five fastest growing counties in the country include mine and two within 50 miles of here in central Texas along the I-35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin.. <BR> <BR> Low cost of living, abundant natural resources, and lots of higher education opportunities, and no state personal income tax make the region appealing to companies who want a business friendly environment... and Austin has become a popula... Mon, 2 Jan 2017 16:15:11 EST Freebirds Burrito My children attended university right across the street from one of the first burrito restaurants I've ever heard of.... Now they are common with Chipotles being spun off of the McDonald's chain, but back then, there was only ... Freebirds.... <BR> <BR> Such a wonderful place, and I learned the proper way to eat a massive log of burrito wonderfulness when we came to College Station for visits... so many combinations of ingredients guaranteed a different culinary adventure each time... Do I w... Mon, 2 Jan 2017 00:43:45 EST New Years Eve It's New Year's Eve and I'm going to bed early, and hope that I sleep through all the fireworks and hullabaloo later on at the stroke of midnight. <BR> <BR> This cold just keeps hanging on, and I'm feeling worn out... <BR> <BR> BUT, it has made me acutely aware of my urge to sympathy eat.... Aware, but not necessarily subject to that urge.... several times today I thought about mindlessly snacking on Christmas chocolates or cookies, but instead I PURPOSELY chose to help myself to the Cleme... Sat, 31 Dec 2016 23:20:33 EST No Place Like My Home (Closet) It feels good to be back home again, even as the temperature has dropped and I get to wear long sleeves.... it's not yet cold enough to wear a sweater with those long sleeves yet (if I want to wear a sweater I have to start off with a sleeveless top) <BR> <BR> There are plenty of clothes in my closet that I hardly ever wear, for one reason or another.... (maybe it's too small, but I intend to get into it in the future -optimism reigns- there aren't THAT many in this category)... Maybe somebo... Fri, 30 Dec 2016 22:00:28 EST Another Day Driving Across Texas I started in Houston this morning and headed the 3 hours to Austin to rendezvous with kids and their families and visiting in-laws, finally getting to direct my wheels back to New Braunfels... <BR> <BR> After staying a (delightful) week with my (wonderful) mother, I am SO ready to be home again, with my own menu and my own kidding! <BR> <BR> There's no place like home. Thu, 29 Dec 2016 23:45:40 EST Feeling Like a Stuffed Turkey One of the dilemmas of being together with family during the holidays involves eating too much... Yesterday we went out for lunch at a Mexican restaurant near where my mother lives, and not wisely, I did not pick my usual fairly safe Mexican entree, chicken fajitas, but instead, a chile relleno with an enchilada.... Oh my goodness! What was I thinking??!?!? <BR> <BR> I felt like a stuffed turkey. <BR> <BR> Fortunately, I ate minimally for the evening meal, but the day's calories were alrea... Wed, 28 Dec 2016 23:44:54 EST Ye Old Folk Medicine & More Lights While I'm visiting my mother at her independent living seniors' apartment complex, I am surrounded by the most fascinating people, all of whom have lived considerably longer than I have.... and they all have suggestions for me to help me with my cold/cough/laryngitis.. <BR> <BR> There are products that I can buy at the health food store, or the drug store, OR the Liquor store (one person told me her PEDIATRICIAN recommended mixing equal parts lemon juice, honey, and WHISKEY and dosing her ch... Tue, 27 Dec 2016 23:28:38 EST Hunkered Down My mom and I stayed put today, instead of trying to get out in the post Christmas rush, even though exchanging something at the Container Store is high on her priority list..... <BR> <BR> Although my mother is 95, she is coordinating a performance of piano and cello that a friend at her senior apartment complex (and her daughter) will present tomorrow, so today was full of setting the schedule for the concert, designing and printing the program, and coordinating announcements, so we really ... Mon, 26 Dec 2016 23:53:56 EST Christmas Lights- Sensory Overrload We went driving through one of the neighborhoods in Houston generally considered "well decorated"...... The lights! The shiny things! The splendor and quantity of decorations! I believe that writhin that square mile of residential suburbia EVERYONE is trying, not just to "keep UP with the Joneses,", but to totally out swagger them altogether...My eyeballs are FRIED! <BR> <BR> There were Santa Clauses! There were dinosaurs dressed as Santa Claus! There even minions dressed as Santa Claus! <... Sun, 25 Dec 2016 23:49:57 EST Christmas Eve Candlelight Service I'm in Houston with my mom and we got to attend a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at a big Baptist church near her seniors apartment complex.... <BR> <BR> The choir was big (about 60 voices, including 20 men).... the orchestra was large-ish, 20+, including typani, and their arrangements were lush... the music was exquisite and even the pastor had a lovely voice as he sang Silent Night in German just the way Franz Gruber would've sung it the first time!!! <BR> <BR> But I think my favorite... Sun, 25 Dec 2016 00:29:00 EST Houston is HOT We woke to a dampish morning and though it didn't actually rain, it was typical Houston, high humidity and much warmer temperatures than what I expected... it is 2 days before Christmas and it's in the high 70s! I brought long sleeve shirts for my stay, and I'm burning up! <BR> <BR> But despite the weather we braved Westheimer Road and went to my 95 tear old mother's favorite store, Dollar Tree, and because I had brought a power wheelchair in my special SUV, my mom could propel herself and s... Fri, 23 Dec 2016 23:45:09 EST Not Too Bad I drove across Texas from San Antonio to Houston today, and the Interstate highway was busy, but not too bad.... there were a lot of trucks, and a lot of vehicles that were totally filled with "stuff" as well as people, but most drivers were driving conscientiously without giving up speed. <BR> <BR> Even as I entered the traffic of Houston itself, the rush hour drivers were safe and peacefully coexisting with one another.... maybe they were enjoying Christmas music on their radios? <BR> <B... Fri, 23 Dec 2016 00:03:39 EST Well, DUH!? Remember a couple weekends ago, when I participated in the annual Aggie Moms Christmas Cookie Bake, where our group rented a local high school's cafeteria complex to bake German Christmas cookies (more than 1500 DOZEN cookies !) to raise scholarship money??? <BR> <BR> Well, I had forgotten that I had taken a photo in their kitchen that I wanted to share: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> My first thought was, "W... Wed, 21 Dec 2016 22:25:15 EST Sudden Choke A sales clerk made me choke up yesterday.... <BR> <BR> When it was my turn to check out, she looked at my last name on my credit card, and queried, "Dr. O-----'s wife?" <BR> <BR> I self- consciously amended quietly... "Widow.." <BR> <BR> She quickly responded, "I am SO sorry!!!! He was my FAVORITE doctor! I miss him SO much...I really loved that man.... well, EVERYBODY did..... " <BR> <BR> "Me, too," I thought, "Me, too..." <BR> <BR> After my transaction was finished, we exchanged pleasa... Wed, 21 Dec 2016 00:57:47 EST Sudden Choke A sales clerk made me choke up yesterday.... <BR> <BR> When it was my turn to check out, she looked at my last name on my credit card, and queried, "Dr. O-----'s wife?" <BR> <BR> I self- consciously amended quietly... "Widow.." <BR> <BR> She quickly responded, "I am SO sorry!!!! He was my FAVORITE doctor! I miss him SO much...I really loved that man.... well, EVERYBODY did..... " <BR> <BR> "Me, too," I thought, "Me, too..." <BR> <BR> After my transaction was finished, we exchanged pleasa... Wed, 21 Dec 2016 00:57:39 EST Orange You Glad to be an Agro-American??? Years ago I attended Texas A&M University, famous for its engineering and its agriculture, particularly its AGRICULTURE (Hence, the name, "Aggies") and while I didn't major in either of those disciplines, I made sure to get at least one course in each category, one Industrial engineering class and one Agronomy class.... Back then we joked that it might be demeaning to be called Aggies, and we should be called Agro-Americans. <BR> <BR> <img src=" Mon, 19 Dec 2016 22:45:38 EST A Christmas Program to Remember Let me start off by admitting that I love Christmas, and I love the Christmas Story, even complete with Old Testament prophecies, <BR> <BR> And I have a special fondness for my own church's approach to Christmas programs, that is, that as an act of worship every individual and family is given an opportunity to offer their own presentation part of a Christmas program... some might sing a song, or play an instrument, or a family might recite a passage of scripture, or a group might present a ... Mon, 19 Dec 2016 00:59:19 EST It's a Sign.... or Maybe Not! My scale died this morning, roughly a week before Christmas, and I confess that my first reaction was akin to those rare, but heady opportunities when my college professor didn't show up for the class within the allotted 15 minutes, thus turning that time into a free pass, or "Walk"... kind of a "Woo HOO!!!" moment... <BR> <BR> "It's a SIGN!!" I thought. <BR> <BR> "This must mean that I can really let myself go with more than just visions of sugarplums dancing in my head!!! The mice can pla... Sat, 17 Dec 2016 13:14:33 EST Delightful Decadence I don't remember that I have ever done it before, but today, TODAY I never even left the house, and stayed in my jammies all day long!!! (except once when I was sick with the flu.... maybe...) <BR> <BR> I had plenty to do inside, a lot of laundry, and dishes, and straightening the house, and I have plenty of food on hand which needs eating before I leave for a few days......and yes, I ate some cookies.... <BR> <BR> And I enjoyed every bite! <BR> <BR> A Cold front is due in on Sunday, and s... Fri, 16 Dec 2016 22:03:51 EST The Ides of December? I missed the Ides of December, unwittingly, since I've always thought that the "Ides" meant the 15th... <BR> <BR> But Wikipedia says: Ides (calendar), a day in the Roman calendar that marked the approximate middle of the month. For March, May, July, and October it is the 15th day of the month. For other Roman calendar months it is on the 13th. <BR> <BR> Anyhow, I guess I'm thinking it is worth remarking on because it is already the 15th of December.... how can it be so??!!??!?! <BR> <BR> Y... Thu, 15 Dec 2016 22:49:30 EST Not Giving Up I slept late this morning.... it was overcast, and perfect for sleeping in.... and when I got up my knee was hurting.... I wanted to go back to bed, but didn't allow mself. <BR> <BR> Then, I wanted to eat cookies, but had oatmeal instead. <BR> <BR> And then, I wanted to just sit and veg out, but instead went to the library and volunteered with the Friends of the Library for a while, even with a sore knee (I had to move slowly, but I DID move), and when I got home I managed some chores, incl... Tue, 13 Dec 2016 22:20:58 EST I Slept, Then Imitated the Energizer Bunny After being so tired yesterday, I crashed and slept deeply last night, perhaps not enough, but deeply, and so I magically had a completely revived day today.... <BR> <BR> I didn't accomplish EVERYTHING on my list, but I certainly made a dent in them.... <BR> <BR> AND, while contemplating the cookies that I bought from our delicious Cookie Bake (It IS a fundraiser, after all), it dawned on me that I needed to package them up in such a way that I wouldn't be tempted to scarf them down before... Mon, 12 Dec 2016 23:34:25 EST Post Cookie Bake Stress Syndrome I am so tired that I can hardly think straight.... <BR> <BR> Will go to bed and check back into Spark tomorrow! Sun, 11 Dec 2016 23:48:11 EST Cookies! Cookies! Cookies! For more than half a century, the Comal County Texas A&M University Mothers' Club has baked German Christmas Cookies to raise scholarship funds... We rent a local high school cafeteria complex, and stoke up their Hobart mixers and convection ovens for a whole frenzy of weekend baking. <BR> <BR> This is Day 2, and I was the shift chair for the crew that comes in at 7 am and works until noon, but I returned for the late afternoon shift to finish up the last cookies, the Pfaffenbrot and Weiner... Sun, 11 Dec 2016 00:06:03 EST Ups and Downs Sometimes my days don't go as planned, with what seem like great victories happening back to back with some pretty colossal flubs, which then don't seem quite so bad, when something worse happens, and then something relatively Cool!!! <BR> <BR> I guess what I may be trying to say is: <BR> <BR> "Don't give up too soon, you may miss something really wonderful"..... or... <BR> <BR> "It ain't over until it's over..." <BR> <BR> ***** You know, Re-reading this makes this sound really cryptic...... Fri, 9 Dec 2016 20:45:30 EST MORE Birthday, and More Cold I was surprised when my Bible study group sang Happy Birthday to me today....although 3 days after my real birthday, that makes 4 of the last 5 days that have been birthday celebrations... but there was no cake today... and I already had my own thermos of herbal tea, so I didn't partake of the sweet holiday cider, and I managed to decline the pie... Victory! <BR> <BR> And as soon as I got home I chopped up a big pan's worth of root vegetables to roast... I ate half for dinner, but have saved... Thu, 8 Dec 2016 23:49:00 EST Cool and Colder Well, it's REALLY beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around here as the temperature has dropped way below our semi tropical norm..... which reminds me of the report of a foot of snow in Hawaii at their Mauna Kei observatory.... I had NO idea that that was not unusual,, and now that I know that it is at an elevation of greater than 11,000 feet, it makes a lot of sense... (I mean, Mt Kilimanjaro has snow on it at the EQUATOR!!!) <BR> <BR> Anyhow, I know I will get used to high... Wed, 7 Dec 2016 23:51:35 EST Celebrating It's a little hard to have a birthday near Christmas.... the treats are ever present, and the excuse of "It's My Birthday!" is just too convenient.... I've now been celebrating my birthday for 3 days, with various family members and grandchildren and friends available at different times.... <BR> <BR> While I haven't been wildly off my eating plan for my birthday, I still ate half of a complimentary slice of Key Lime pie a a restaurant where I had righteously enjoyed broiled salmon and grille... Wed, 7 Dec 2016 00:27:33 EST Clearing Up? After a wet and cold day almost all day, just as the time of sunset approached... <BR> <BR> And we actually HAD a sunset in the tiny strip of sky that was exposed as the edge of the prevailing cloud cover slunk its way along over by the horizon... <BR> <BR> We've had 4 days of wet and cold and rainy and overcast days and tomorrow is supposed to be clear and in the 70s... Woo Hoo! <BR> <BR> I'm ready for some warm dry days... or at least dry DAY, because I think the forecast is predicting m... Tue, 6 Dec 2016 00:40:22 EST