MCJULIEO's SparkPeople Blog MCJULIEO's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community Texas Aggie Football- More of Why I Love It Long I have been an Aggie football fan, through thick and thin, good and (really really) bad seasons, but even despite the embarrassing antics of Johnny Manziel, the last Aggie Heisman winner, Texas A&M manages to produce some pretty nice and pretty fascinating characters. <BR> <BR> For example, the Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller, is an Aggie and a real sweetheart, except of course, to any opposing football player..Bespectacled in real life, he exudes fun and goodwill, as seen on Dancing With th... Mon, 22 Aug 2016 12:08:05 EST Frustrated I just wrote the longest, most fascinating (Would I ever LIE to YOU??) Sparkblog complete with photos and humorous comments.... <BR> <BR> And the cyber ether just reached out and swallowed it into oblivion... <BR> <BR> Maybe I can reproduce it at a later time (don't have the heart for it as of this moment) <BR> <BR> Maybe it wan't as good as I thought it was.... Sun, 21 Aug 2016 00:07:21 EST Going With the Flow I managed to get in one last mile in my lap-swimming this morning, and exchanged phone numbers with the lady who often swims at the same time I do.... so we don't have to be strangers until next year's swim season... <BR> <BR> <em>40</em> Most embarrassing moment: I can remember meeting other lap swimmers in past years away from the pool and both of us exclaiming at the same time, "I didn't recognize you with your clothes on!" <BR> <BR> Then I almost missed an appointment (had it down a... Fri, 19 Aug 2016 23:53:48 EST Made It Today! Yesterday was a bust as far as swimming laps in the city pool, because it was unexpectedly closed for rain... apparently they opened later in the morning after I had given up, but I missed it...the pool is open only in the morning, and ONLY for swimming laps this week... <BR> <BR> TODAY was a different story! <BR> <BR> I arrived and only one family of three kids was there to swim laps, but after I had swum a half mile another familiar lapswimmer arrived and greet me warmly.... she was so gl... Thu, 18 Aug 2016 17:45:25 EST Good Intentions Well, I KNOW that intentions don't count for a whole lot but this morning I really TRIED to go swimming laps... I was dressed in my swimming suit and had everything I needed to get that mile in before facing the day... and drove all the way down to the city park to find..... <BR> <BR> I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT.... THE POOL WAS CLOSED!!!! Lap swimming should have been available at 8am! <BR> <BR> Just because we had had an inch of rain overnight should not have impacted my morning swim! It wasn'... Wed, 17 Aug 2016 23:09:37 EST Wonderful / Dangerous Rain We had the most glorious rain today, about 4 inches, and it is still raining..... Perfect for drought ridden Texas, but awfully dangerous for parts of Louisiana... <BR> <BR> We lived in that same part of south Louisiana when I was a child and frequent downpours were not uncommon.... The bayous/flat part of the state has a very high water table and it averages over 60 inches of rain per year, but usually in smaller doses than the 30 inches that they received over the weekend... <BR> <BR> Ye... Tue, 16 Aug 2016 01:01:31 EST So Grateful I know that I should really cultivate an attitude of gratefulness,... it is in all the literature, and there are several Spark articles about how healthy being grateful makes you.. <BR> <BR> But I find that all I need to feel grateful is to just open my eyes and look around me... there's nothing like a healthy dose of Other Peoples' problems to make me glad that the ones I have pale in comparison.... In fact, I don't think I know of anyone whose problems I would rather have than my own. That... Sun, 14 Aug 2016 23:25:57 EST Still Nuthin' Well, I went out again last night to catch sight of some of the supposedly extravagant-this-year Perseid meteors and was disappointed that a very high light cloud cover veiled most of the sky, and not only did it obscure slightly the stars bt somehow it managed to trap or reflect quite a bit of moonlight.. <BR> <BR> So I was disappointed.... but the wonderful thing is that next year I can check it out again.... not to mention the other predictable meteor showers during the year.... <BR> <BR... Sat, 13 Aug 2016 09:58:27 EST Zero Zip Nada... I'm Doing It Wrong! The Perseid Meteor Shower was supposed to be at its peak last night when I went outside to watch them but I did not see a single one!!! Sky watchers who are In-the-Know have been saying that there should have been double the usual activity for the Perseids, around 200 per hour, but I saw not a one.... <BR> <BR> Now, here's the problem.... I live on the edge of town with fields less than 2 blocks away, but even where I live, the light pollution is considerable (my neighbor's porch light was o... Fri, 12 Aug 2016 09:56:26 EST Celestial Fireworks It's that time of year again! <BR> <BR> My anniversary, AND the Perseid meteor shower! I am going outside right now to see if I can catch the great fireworks in the sky.... <BR> <BR> Forecasters say they will be exceptionally good this year, but the essence of the scientific mentality is observation, observation, observation... <BR> <BR> I'll let you know tomorrow if I see anything good.... and the night of the 12th is supposed to be good, too! Fri, 12 Aug 2016 00:40:22 EST Small Town Texas In order to get home (near San Antonio) we once again took Alternate US Highway 90, which is also an interesting alternate to Interstate 10, barrelling across some of Texas tiniest towns, including the aptly named Sublime, Texas..... <BR> <BR> Since we had had such an excellent time earlier in the week, we decided to eat at the autentico Mexican food restaurant in Shiner, and it was good that we got there early because this was the sign on the door: <BR> <BR> <img src=" Wed, 10 Aug 2016 21:46:36 EST Impending Doom- I Can See the End of Summer From Here All of a sudden I am receiving notes and emails regarding the end of summer!!!! <BR> <BR> WAIT! I am not ready yet for summer's end! I still have a lot that I want to do! <BR> <BR> Including Reading! Where did the summer go? Can I possibly read double FAST to squeeze in as much as possible? <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=" Tue, 9 Aug 2016 18:44:01 EST Long Day Even While Having Fun We took my 95 year old mother out shopping today, and since she's in a wheelchair, it meant a lot of loading and unloading, and loading and unloading..... but she loved it, especially the part about shopping under her own power (sort of- they have electric shopping carts at Costco)... I pretty much followed her around lifting things into and out of her cart... <BR> <BR> Then we had lunch at the premier steak place in Houston, Taste of Texas, where I got the salad bar for lunch.... they reall... Tue, 9 Aug 2016 00:08:53 EST Taking an Alternate Route I'm back in Houston visiting my mother, since my brother (the OLDEST brother) offered to drive, and, in order to miss the crowds streaming back to Houston from the Texas hill country on I-10, we took one of the smaller highways, the Alternate Hwy 90, which had us going through some towns I don't know very well.... <BR> <BR> Did you know that Seguin, Texas has the world's largest pecan? That Gonzales, Texas still calls its high school team the Apaches? That the tiny Czech community of Shiner,... Sun, 7 Aug 2016 22:03:11 EST Modern Gladiator- Tax Free Weekend! Texas offers one weekend per year right before school starts when they allow businesses to sell most clothing and all school supplies without charging the 8% sales tax they normally do. This is that weekend. <BR> <BR> And I TOLD myself that I would be crazy to get out there and do battle with all the other savvy shoppers competing for a series of finite commodities..... much like Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving (the news people are saying that this is comparable in volume of sale... Sat, 6 Aug 2016 09:37:08 EST Creamy Mango Sorbet I don't have a lot of experience with mangoes, but I like them when I think to buy them, and small amounts of mango are particularly yummy when mixed in with other fruits..... They kind of remind me of peaches in flavor.... <BR> <BR> So, with that in mind I tried my sorbet recipe using frozen mangoes (2 Cups mango+ 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk, and whizz in a food processor until smooth), but when it was all done, I tasted the concoction and thought it was a little bland!! <BR>... Fri, 5 Aug 2016 22:04:58 EST Natural Color, Natural Flavor, Natural High I'm still experimenting with sorbet recipes, and this time I just used the frozen grapes that I had, from grapes being on sale last week.... I used seedless black grapes (seeds are not welcome in this recipe!) and when 2 cups of black seedless grapes are processed with 2 tablespoons of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk, it really DOES turn deep purple... <BR> <BR> I don't know why I'm surprised, but it is really Really REALLY GOOD! <BR> <BR> Fresh fruit has hardly ever tasted better! Thu, 4 Aug 2016 23:50:57 EST Another Craft Play Day! Though my time in Houston with family was sweet and productive, I managed to swoop back the 200 miles or so across Texas in time to be back home for Craft Play Day with Sparkpal, Improving Me, and skinny Donna. <BR> <BR> At the rate that we get together for Craft Play Day for some fellowship and craft therapy, I should not ever need a psychiatrist... there's really nothing quite like friends in our daily journey. <BR> <BR> Still experimenting with watercolors, I got out my ancient bottle of... Thu, 4 Aug 2016 00:01:55 EST Even Better Than I Thought The family congregated today (one brother came down to Houston from Oklahoma to be able to spend time with his daughter who was in the states with her husband and children who currently live in Saudi, Another brother who is normally at sea is home until the middle of August so he came to see the first brother and the international kids.... <BR> <BR> Me? I just came in to Houston because I didn't want to miss any of the fun! <BR> <BR> So we had lunch together, and I planned the menu: <BR> ... Tue, 2 Aug 2016 17:23:44 EST Impromptu Family Meal My family seems to be gathering unexpectedly for a few days in Houston, and I'm working on an easy meal that is economical and yet delicious for EVERYBODY.... <BR> <BR> I'm thinking rotisserie chicken from Sam's or Costco, roasted zucchini and onions, greek salad (romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese) <BR> <BR> And maybe some artisan bread. <BR> <BR> This will be easy on our waistlines, too.... Mon, 1 Aug 2016 23:36:23 EST Raspberry Sorbet- It Works! I bought a package of frozen raspberries to try making sorbet with (in the style of the lemon -blueberry sorbet that has been such a success) Starting with 2 cups of frozen raspberries and adding 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk, and whizzing in the food processor until smooth, and Boy Oh Boy! It's really REALLY good!!!! <BR> <BR> And I bought mangoes on sale, but I have to cut them up and freeze them.... Fortunately I've watched the video on how to cut up a mango! <BR> <BR> I am... Sun, 31 Jul 2016 23:43:12 EST On a Mission- At the Mall I gathered up all my energy and braved one of the big malls in San Antonio today... it was packed with all kinds of people even though I was there early.... a great place for people watching, and I couldn't help thinking back over the physical changes in the mall itself over last 30 years of shopping I've done there (although to be sure, I kind of miss the fountains that used to dot the concourse- the kids that strayed too close and fell in always made for interesting dinner table conversatio... Sat, 30 Jul 2016 23:17:04 EST Even More Summer Quotations We had a break in the heat while the storms rolled through central Texas, and it felt SO GOOD! The high was under 90 (barely) yesterday for the first time in a LOOOOONG time! <BR> <BR> Apparently people LOVE to talk about summer, so here are some more quotations (Check out the one by LLCool J): <BR> <BR> Summer is where the girls go barefoot and their hearts are just as free as their toes. Unknown <BR> <BR> There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart. ~Celia Thaxter <BR> <BR> The ... Sat, 30 Jul 2016 00:47:31 EST Highs and Lows I hardly slept at all last night.... couldn't GET to sleep, couldn't STAY asleep... <BR> <BR> BUT <BR> <BR> I didn't want to get up either! <BR> <BR> And I CERTAINLY didn't want to get up to go swim laps either! <BR> <BR> BUT <BR> <BR> I did. I told myself that I didn't have to go far... just get in the water and swim a half mile... or a mile if I felt like it... <BR> <BR> And I didn't stop at a mile.... OR... a mile and a quarter.... <BR> <BR> I made it a mile and a half before stopp... Thu, 28 Jul 2016 14:28:40 EST Craft Play Day- How Sweet It Is! It seems like we, after having missed so many Craft Play Days, are making up for it with several weeks in a row.... Sparkpal, Improving Me hosted our group effort with great panache and more than adequate refreshments! (Iced herbal tea while we still have our super hot summer) How refreshing! How wonderful! How stress reducing! <BR> <BR> AND, while we were watching an art instructional video together, Mother Nature decided to dump some rain on the roof above us, so, of course, we took the hi... Thu, 28 Jul 2016 00:11:17 EST Awesome Vintage Birthday Party Today we celebrated a grandchild's 7th birthday party... at a classic, vintage rollerskating rink in Austin..... Skateland has apparently not changed in at least 30 years, although they DO offer both quad-wheel skates as well as inline skates, <BR> <BR> There was loud music that had a melody... <BR> <BR> There were blinking lights..... <BR> <BR> There guys and girls skating together, and there were parents with kids just learning to skate, and lots of loose kids enjoying the aircondition... Tue, 26 Jul 2016 23:16:34 EST Slimming Vs Fattening Photography Tips Found this intriguing article on Pinterest and thought that I would share.... <BR> <BR> 27 Photos Of My Fat Face That Prove Camera Angle Is Everything — PHOTOS <BR> MARIE SOUTHARD OSPINA talks about a variety of camera techniques (tricks) to look slimmer without a speck of Photoshopping.. and there are a LOT of photos to illustrate her points <BR> <BR> For example, taken at the same time: <BR> <img src=""> <BR>... Mon, 25 Jul 2016 12:18:22 EST Still More Summer Quotations When I figured out how to work my grill, it was quite a moment. I discovered that summer is a completely different experience when you know how to grill. Taylor Swift <BR> <BR> If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance. <BR> Bern Williams <BR> <BR> Summer break. Where some drink triple, see double, and act single. <BR> Unknown <BR> <BR> A life without love is like a year without summer. <BR> Swedish proverb <BR> <BR> Summer is where the girls go barefoot an... Mon, 25 Jul 2016 00:36:55 EST Spark Streak If it weren't for the occasional notices, that Sparkpeople sends, I wouldn't know just how far I've come.... today they sent me a notice that I have been consistently checking in to Sparkpeople for <BR> <BR> (drumroll) <BR> <BR> 1525 days!!! <BR> <BR> This "streak thing" is the Real Deal... if ever I am inclined to take a day off I think about that (extremely) long string of Log Ins, and then I shake off the inclination, and get to business... Of course, I can't JUST log in... I have to r... Sat, 23 Jul 2016 12:38:08 EST A Few More Summertime Quotations Summer is the time when, if you are not barefoot, you are overdressed. <BR> Unknown <BR> <BR> It's summer and the memories are just waiting to happen. <BR> Unknown <BR> <BR> In every girl's life; there's a boy she'll never forget and a summer where it all began. Unknown <BR> <BR> For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy. <BR> Aristotle <BR> <BR> Reading is a joy for my kids, and to swing in a ham... Sat, 23 Jul 2016 00:31:17 EST Summertime, Summertime, Sum, Sum, Summertime!!! Man, is it ever hot around here! I swam another mile and a quarter this morning, and noticed that even the public shower at the swimming pool in the park now has warm water coming out its nozzle (and that's without a water heater) <BR> <BR> I've been thinking a lot about summer lately, and what it has meant to me over the years... <BR> <BR> Isn't it funny that when I try to think of a summer themed song I always veer over into the bluesy ballad from Porgy and Bess, Summertiiiiiiime, and the... Thu, 21 Jul 2016 17:25:20 EST Traveling Chemistry Roadshow Summer is such a great time to discover cool things to do at the library, and today we got to attend a Fantastic show put on by a PhD from Texas A&M's Chemistry department... <BR> <BR> Way cool.... Literally, like when he brought out the liquid nitrogen. (I love liquid nitrogen demonstrations!) <BR> <BR> But he also made fire (and in many different colors!) and reactions that changed color over and over... <BR> <BR> It was the perfect summer library program, with a clever script, and a d... Thu, 21 Jul 2016 00:53:09 EST Sick of Surveys..... BUT... This is an election year.... I get it! <BR> <BR> Pollsters want to find out ho's Hot... and Who's Not... <BR> <BR> But after the eleventybillionth phone call asking for my opinion, I decline the opportunity to spill my guts.... They never record my very carefully crafted responses and reduce my nuanced answers to basically "yes" or "no"... so I just cannot invest that amount of time on them... <BR> <BR> Except yesterday I received a survey in the mail.. and I would have tossed it in the ga... Sun, 17 Jul 2016 23:43:30 EST It's the Snacking That Does Me In I choose my meals carefully, and I love fruits and vegetables, so I get a good balance.... <BR> <BR> And I've discovered some wonderful and healthy snacks (Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream, anyone?).... <BR> <BR> But when I discover an extended period of time in my schedule, minutes without direction... <BR> <BR> I start snacking on whatever item is at hand, whether its fruit, ..... or trail mix.... or M&Ms!!! <BR> <BR> Peanut M&Ms, how I love them! I just need to decide not to buy them! I am ... Sat, 16 Jul 2016 23:11:38 EST Nothing Nice About It/Him Headline caught my eye: <BR> <BR> Nice truck attacker was from Tunisian town of Msaken - Tunisian security sources <BR> <BR> How awful to confuse the English word for "pleasant, kind" with the French city that experienced the horrible and cowardly attack.... <BR> <BR> I ache for the people who went through this terrible assault, and recognize and empathize with their hurt even from this distance.... <BR> <BR> I am praying. Fri, 15 Jul 2016 11:36:16 EST Craft Play Day! I am here to tell you that everybody.... EVERYBODY.... ought to have good friends to enjoy Craft Play Day with!!!! <BR> <BR> We glued. <BR> <BR> We cut. <BR> <BR> We painted and marked and zentangled. <BR> <BR> We drank tea (herbal for me)... <BR> <BR> And I got to show my prowess in making and serving blueberry sorbet.... <BR> <BR> And we even had a few digestive biscuits, which is apparently Brit-speak for COOKIES! <BR> <BR> But most of all, we enjoyed one another... what a great aft... Fri, 15 Jul 2016 00:46:39 EST Making Do With What's There I don't think that I am alone when it comes to having a lot of stuff... in fact, having so much that I don't even know the extent of it all..... <BR> <BR> Like having a closet full of clothes and wearing only wearing a small percentage... (yes, I KNOW I NEED to do that closet purge!) <BR> <BR> But most of all, keeping my refrigerator and pantry so well stocked that I ignore all kinds of possibilities to eat NOW, and feel that I need to buy more..... like today.... <BR> <BR> I really didn't... Thu, 14 Jul 2016 00:15:09 EST HUGE Accomplishment While it is true that I swam 1.25 miles this morning, THAT was not my big victory.... <BR> <BR> When I returned from my big trip, I found two lizards (chameleons, actually) in the house when I got back… One, the larger one, I was able to get out of the house almost immediately, but the other was small and fast, and though I have been home for three weeks now, I have not been successful in catching the little guy. <BR> <BR> Until today.... <BR> <BR> Today I was successful in isolating h... Tue, 12 Jul 2016 23:58:42 EST Cyber Wisdom An email treasure that came today: <BR> <BR> "Have a great day, Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death..." Tue, 12 Jul 2016 00:02:34 EST The Perfect Blueberry Sorbet So far I haven't found my ice cream maker, but I can still make blueberry sorbet using just my food processor... <BR> <BR> Have I mentioned how much I love the internet? Well, I went looking for "Sorbet" on Youtube and found the very helpful Bigger Bolder Baking Youtube channel .... and THEN I've practiced, practiced, practiced.... <BR> <BR> Since her recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk, and SOME places you can't buy sweetened condensed milk, she also offers how to make it yourself, t... Sun, 10 Jul 2016 23:57:16 EST It's Not a Bargain It's Not a Bargain if you have to drive 100 miles round trip in order to save $5, or even $10!!! I wanted to take advantage of a special 72 hour set of deals at a great grocery store that just happens to be 45+ miles (of grueling traffic which would have taken about an hour each way) from home.... <BR> <BR> The gas would have been a factor... <BR> <BR> AND the time.... (how much is my time worth??!!??) <BR> <BR> And so I stayed home, and plotted on what would be the best use of my time, an... Sun, 10 Jul 2016 00:04:08 EST A Meeting Day I had to drive up to Austin (most terrible commute in Texas!) today for the annual Texas Library Association summer meeting, and as awful as I expected it to be, I had a LOVELY drive both up there and back.... somehow the stops and starts and congestion and bumper to bumperness of it all just didn't bug me like it often DOES. <BR> <BR> And the meetings included reunions with old friends I see only about twice a year (Texas is a BIG state) so my day was lovely as well... And my lunch (an achi... Fri, 8 Jul 2016 23:22:41 EST Craft Play Day is BACK! Oh! How I have missed Craft Play Day! With each of us having other obligations and travel, Sparkpal, Improving Me, and Donna and I haven't met for it, but today we managed it.... <BR> <BR> Several hours of perfect creative harmony combined with lovely snacks and fresh tea made for a delightful afternoon as I worked on some homemade postcards for a postcard swap and the others worked companionably on some collage backgrounds and old projects.... <BR> <BR> Good friends, good times! Thu, 7 Jul 2016 20:56:34 EST Simple Foods: Great Taste Now that it is summer, I feel like experimenting with all the fresh fruits and vegetables available (and on sale!) <BR> <BR> So I have blueberries that were on sale (I bought 3 packages!), and I LIKE fresh blueberries (Yum in salads, too!), but I really don't want to bake blueberry muffins (too many extra calories), so I threw them all into a ziplock bag and then into the freezer (frozen blueberries are almost as tasty as frozen GRAPES!) <BR> <BR> SO, LATER..... I had frozen blueberries to ... Thu, 7 Jul 2016 00:13:28 EST How Hot Was It? (Heard on the Radio) Heard on the radio: <BR> <BR> "It's hot around here." <BR> <BR> "How hot was it?" <BR> <BR> "It's so hot that I left the toilet seat up, just so my wife would give me a frigid look!" <BR> <BR> <BR> I couldn't help it... I laughed! Tue, 5 Jul 2016 19:41:14 EST Happy 4th of July!!! As P.G. Wodehouse once famously proclaimed, <BR> <BR> "Thank God for being an American............ <BR> <BR> Me, not Him....." <BR> <BR> I am blessed. Tue, 5 Jul 2016 00:35:16 EST Children's Books Keep Giving I've been reflecting on what treasures we find when we read to our children... Here are a few more: <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=" Sun, 3 Jul 2016 23:14:47 EST More Wisdom from Children's Books Wisdom in any form is Always worth repeating... <BR> <BR> (which is a good thing since my 20 month old grandchild thinks eleventy-billion times is not enough to read his favorite book....) <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""... Sat, 2 Jul 2016 23:38:23 EST Starting July Right Swam a mile this morning for the first time this year..... I'm slow (15 minutes slower than I used to be back in my prime) but kept on going, lap after lap...... after lap... <BR> <BR> I had originally intended to swim only 3/4 mile, but I felt so good after that distance, I just kept on going.... <BR> <BR> Niiiiiiice! Sat, 2 Jul 2016 00:06:22 EST Everything I've Learned I Got From Children's Books The great Oxford professor, writer, and theologian, C.S. Lewis, once said that if you had something important to say, you should put it into a children's book... (which he marvelously demonstrated in the beloved Chronicles of Narnia) <BR> <BR> As a child, I was really blessed: I was an early reader, fairly proficient before kindergarten from the neighbor kids who liked to play "school" and needed "students"... <BR> <BR> But my double blessing came from my mother nurturing a love of reading ... Thu, 30 Jun 2016 17:29:16 EST