MCJULIEO's SparkPeople Blog MCJULIEO's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community 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 Summertime, and the Living is Minimalist Summertime... and the livin' is easy......?? <BR> <BR> Not for me... not quite... <BR> <BR> I have a lot I need to do,... <BR> <BR> OUGHT to do... <BR> <BR> But I'm pretty much just taking it moment by moment... <BR> <BR> Cooking a large batch of food, and then having leftovers until they are all gone... <BR> <BR> Trying to empty the pantry and the freezer (this is a slow job when the kids have grown up and moved away!)... eating a big salad, and really loving the fresh veggies... <BR> ... Wed, 29 Jun 2016 23:35:47 EST Big Milestone Streak Today was the 1500th day I have logged in to Sparkpeople in a row.... <BR> <BR> That's 4.1 years of faithfully logging in... <BR> <BR> (I lost my streak 4 years ago on a cruise, when I didn't have access to the internet.... THIS trip I was able to log in, and sometimes not much else... but I was able to keep the streak alive) <BR> <BR> And I ate more watermelon... Summer is so wonderful! Wed, 29 Jun 2016 00:23:59 EST New Week Fresh new day. Fresh new week. <BR> <BR> I plan to get a lot done this week, including laundry, and putting away travel gear... <BR> <BR> And continue eating watermelon.... <BR> <BR> Let's make it a great week! Mon, 27 Jun 2016 00:36:26 EST Watermelon Season.... Yum! Well, I gained five pounds yesterday just from eating watermelon.... <BR> <BR> It wasn't REAL weight gain, but water weight... <BR> <BR> And I probably wouldn't have eaten so MUCH watermelon, if the new grocery store which had its grand opening stating yesterday hadn't put their watermelons on sale... <BR> <BR> And they hadn't ambushed me with a bag boy to deliver my groceries to my car ("Please, ma'am," they said, "Billy here needs the practice of loading and unloading groceries... You wo... Sat, 25 Jun 2016 23:27:45 EST Cheese Specialist I met a "cheese specialist" on the shuttle going to the Houston airport on one of the legs of my recent travels, and I confess to thinking that just the TITLE of "Cheese Specialist" made me smile so big.... she described it as being a sommelier, but just for cheese... <BR> <BR> SOoooo, when I had a chance I asked her about the divine cheese that I had tasted on my Rome walking food tour, a cheese made from water buffalo milk.... and SHAZAM! She really WAS a cheese expert! She knew all about ... Fri, 24 Jun 2016 00:09:26 EST Weary Traveler I'm tired, still tired from my trip(s), ....I figured that I've flown or floated about 17,000 miles in the last 5 weeks (and walked a whole lot, too!) <BR> <BR> And I have some photos.... but they aren't typical tourist photos... like the various snaps of birds sitting on statues' heads that I love.... but I found myself fascinated by the marble sidewalks and curbs of Athens.... Who Knew that Athens, Greece had so many sidewalks made from marble???? And HOW could they EVER Force themselves t... Wed, 22 Jun 2016 23:09:36 EST Getting Back in the Swim of Things I'm still playing catch up after my big trip, but this morning I got up and went down to the city park pool and swam laps for the first time this year... <BR> <BR> Ahhhh, sweet lap swimming! It was SO good. I went only a quarter mile, but I needed to start somewhere, and tomorrow I can add some more laps... I hope to be back up to a mile before next week... <BR> <BR> It felt good, really good... <BR> <BR> Oh, and did I mention that, after taking a 12 day cruise, and being gone from home an... Tue, 21 Jun 2016 23:55:36 EST The Vacation Isn't Over Until Your Luggage Makes It Home!! Almost exactly a month ago I left home on Abigail adventure.... Have you missed me? <BR> <BR> I've been almost halfway around the world, and then a week in lovely Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a family wedding, and it was on my return flight, which involved connecting flights in Charlotte, North Carolina, when I and my luggage parted ways (I caught the connecting flight, and it didn't) <BR> <BR> Incidentally, I have long admired the big, roomy rocking chairs dotting the concourses of th... Thu, 16 Jun 2016 23:21:20 EST Great Start, Abysmal Middle, Rest is in Motion After a phenomenally fast trip to the Houston airport via a shuttle that picked me up at my mom's 2 minutes early(!!!!), British Airways dropped the ball.... Dropping off my bag (I was already checked in!) took an hour because their computers were down or erratic, then screening took forever, and then British airways ran out of room for our carry on baggage, and had to stow it in the very back of the plane which we had to be the last passengers to debark in order to retrieve them, but on Take... Wed, 18 May 2016 04:34:22 EST Things Fall Into Place Once again I drove across Texas to catch a flight out of Houston.... the roadsides have morphed from bluebonnet and Indian paintbrush covered fields in tones of mostly BLUE,... <BR> <BR> NOW they are covered in yellow, the natural progression of the season.... It's beautiful! <BR> <BR> With all I had to do yesterday, I didn't get any real meals (except a yummy oatmeal breakfast!) so I snacked as I drove... fortunately I had grapes and apples and chery tomatoes and even a head of Romaine le... Tue, 17 May 2016 11:02:06 EST Failure to Communicate I wish I could understand all languages, listening and speaking and writing them all without impediment... <BR> <BR> Unfortunately, I don't... <BR> <BR> And trying to call a museum in Italy, not even knowing how to respond to their recording in Italian has left me wanting to stick a fork in my eye......... wildly frustrating.... <BR> <BR> But the good news, though not at all related, is: I found my missing bathing suit, and do NOT need to go shopping for another one!!! <BR> <BR> So I have... Mon, 16 May 2016 00:18:50 EST One Drawback to Silky Hair/ Home Sweet Animal Kingdom The one bad thing that I discovered last night about this wonderful super soft, silky hair (that got the spa treatment on Thursday), is that it is SO soft, SO silky that I cannot even tie it or clip it back because it actually slips out of any restraints... the clip just slides off!!! Very strange feeling, but I'm not going to let it dull my appreciation of it. <BR> <BR> On another note, I was up late last night and working in a semi dark room, when I glanced over and found a small garden li... Sat, 14 May 2016 12:20:47 EST Hair Report Happy Friday the Thirteenth! It was a lovely day here, but I've been trying to get ready for a trip, and hardly left home as I tended to various details... <BR> <BR> But one thing I DID do was check my hair to see if it still felt wonderful from that super conditioning treatment yesterday... <BR> <BR> It DID! Still smooth and shiny, not greasy... <BR> <BR> Oh Frabjous Day! Calloo Callay! <BR> <BR> Now I'm going to have to look into whatever product she used on my hair, and get'... Fri, 13 May 2016 22:12:45 EST My Hair Got a Spa Treatment! I had a Groupon for a haircut and deep conditioning treatment and I went today... and my poor locks have never felt so wonderful.... EVER.... <BR> <BR> I didn't change the style, and had only about an inch cut off, so, no big deal, but the conditioning treatment was slathered on and then I sat under a warm hairdryer to activate the stuff, and when it was rinsed, and then blown dry, my hair felt AMAZING... glassy smooth and NO frizz... <BR> <BR> honestly, even though I know that it must be ... Thu, 12 May 2016 23:17:44 EST Revelation All Year For the last year, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) has been focussed on the apostle John's account of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the last book in the Bible.... and we students have had a terrific time figuring out the exciting and sometimes cryptic apocalyptic text...It has been a challenge to understand what all is detailed in these prophetic writings, but it has really been worth it, not that I understand it all even now... <BR> <BR> But Revelation offers a promise, too: <BR>... Wed, 11 May 2016 22:48:24 EST Superlatives Don't Do It Justice I know, I KNOW! People think Texans are insufferably braggadocious, and their opinions are not rooted in reality... <BR> <BR> But REALLY! <BR> <BR> One thing that Texans know a lot about .... <BR> <BR> Is barbecue, or simply BBQ... they talk about it, the couts, the equipment, the timing, the rubs... they dream about it... and they eat lots and LOTS of it! <BR> <BR> In fact every year at least one issue of Texas Monthly is dedicated to the most quintessential of Texas foods.... <BR> <BR>... Mon, 9 May 2016 21:38:47 EST Not Going to Do It Again Aargh! My head! My head! While I've been visiting with my mother, she has had the Sunday political shows playing on the television.... It is SO much hostility and snarkiness, I am reminded of the remark wise old Obi Wan Kenobi made describing the rough spaceport, Mos Eisley, in the first Star Wars movie <BR> <BR> "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy." <BR> <BR> What has ever happened to civility in public discourse?!?!!!?? Nobody seems to have ANY thing constructiv... Sun, 8 May 2016 19:09:01 EST More About Dr. Bronner's Soap I really love Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Shikakai Soap..... it's a creamy dark liquid, not a bar soap, but it's wonderfully rich, and wonderfully peppermint-y for wonderful relief on a hot, sweaty day.... <BR> <BR> I buy it at a healthy grocery store in San Antonio, but it has apparently attracted enough fans that my local giant grocery store, HEB, has started carrying it, at least in the normal, clear, peppermint liquid version (The Shikakai version is much creamier, but I have no idea what s... Sun, 8 May 2016 00:05:06 EST Getting Sweaty, How I LOVE Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap! It was a beautiful day today, but I did my walking inside on the treadmill, doing intervals to force myself to get a good workout.... <BR> <BR> It wasn't fast, but the incline added a nice challenge and after thirty minutes I was good and sweaty.... so I went 20 minutes more... then I was really sweaty!!! <BR> <BR> It must have been a good workout, because I could feel (I THINK I could feel) an elevated metabolism for an extended period of time afterwards, INCLUDING time in the shower, wher... Thu, 5 May 2016 23:06:32 EST Chocolate Dipped Strawberries I love chocolate dipped strawberries, and I think they are easy to make (melt chocolate chips in the microwave without scorching them- that's the hardest part, and then dip and set aside to let the chocolate harden- that's the next hardest part- waiting for the chocolate to harden up) <BR> <BR> BUT <BR> <BR> I've been listening to all the radio advertisements for the companies that are marketing giant, super decorated chocolate dipped strawberries for premium prices as a gift for Mothers Da... Wed, 4 May 2016 13:06:31 EST Grandkids Make for a Fun Day Have you ever seen small children comfortable in a garden??? It's so fun! <BR> <BR> We always had a backyard garden while my children were growing up, so much so that when the youngest went to meet his future in-laws for the first time, he described to them how he had grown up on a tomato plantation, and he had been the slave labor... and he didn't even LIKE tomatoes! <BR> <BR> Well, he lives in suburbia now, and has a small backyard plot of his own , and he even has tomato plants growing t... Tue, 3 May 2016 23:45:21 EST Great Day We must have had a cool front come in because today was delightfully less hot than it has been.... <BR> <BR> And my friend who is working with Child Protective Services was able to come out of a county family court hearing, and get an infant out of an abusive home and into a much better and safer environment.. this has been the subject of much prayer, and today we can breathe easier.... <BR> <BR> I am rejoicing! We all are... this baby now has a chance to thrive!!! <BR> <BR> <BR> Mon, 2 May 2016 22:42:51 EST GRR- cool license plate Saw a license plate that I thought would speak for many, if not most drivers.. <BR> <BR> The first three symbols on the plate were <BR> <BR> GRR <BR> <BR> And then there were four digits, so by my sometimes erratic calculations, I figure that up to 9999 different license plates could have the preface- GRR <BR> <BR> Generally speaking, it is only while I am driving that I ever experience any level of aggressive hostility toward my fellow man (or woman), and it is possible that while under... Mon, 2 May 2016 00:25:56 EST Snake Season When I was visiting with my old college buddy, we decided to talk a walk around her decidedly rural neighborhood, for me to see what building had started since I was there last, and to check out the glorious morning after last night's big storm.... she's a horticulture expert, so we focussed on all kinds of Texas plants and roadside growing things... <BR> <BR> But we came across a copperhead snake just crossing the road, and I was reminded just how much wildlife we don't notice most of the t... Sat, 30 Apr 2016 21:28:56 EST Old Friends Are the Best Friends It's so great to have friends who remember you back in the dark ages.... Before you were defined by where you lived, or who you married to or who you had given birth to.... <BR> <BR> I'm spending some time with one such friend. She and I met as 2 of the very few girls in our very large college organic chemistry class.. She pretty much taught me how to study the Bible... She taught me how to pray way back then.... In fact in later days she introduced me to Spark people... <BR> <BR> Today we... Sat, 30 Apr 2016 00:30:57 EST Bureaucracy Did NOT Stomp Me This Time Oh, I am flying SO HIGH! <BR> <BR> Long story: I needed a scheduled interview with the Customs and Border Patrol to get a certain form for a trip I'm making this summer... I had made the application, and been approved for the interview, but they had no slots available for MONTHS in ADVANCE (and the paperwork said that IF I DIDN'T have the interview in 30 DAYS, they would cancel my application, not just SCHEDULE the interview, but actually HAVE it) <BR> <BR> NONE of the three other offices... Wed, 27 Apr 2016 22:25:13 EST A Few More Words of Wisdom <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> How is YOUR Scenery today? Tue, 26 Apr 2016 23:55:33 EST A Few Words of Wisdom <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> We need to let the music inside us out!!!! And SHARE IT! Mon, 25 Apr 2016 21:04:09 EST My Kind of Police Car Well, the local police department caught a drug dealer and shut down his network, and after many legal battles, was awarded his 2007 Corvette Z06, worth about $80,000... <BR> <BR> I saw a Facebook post with a picture of what I thought was the car photoshopped to look like a police car.... well, yesterday I actually saw it driving around town, and that was NO PHOTOSHOP!!! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> They ha... Sun, 24 Apr 2016 23:52:45 EST That Time of Year I made another trip up to Austin today, this time to rendezvous with a young relative just home from the mission field in French equatorial Africa, and since she had many friends there where she attended college that she wanted to see before leaving the country again, she chose Mozart's Roasted Coffee place on Lake Austin, which is right close to downtown but down a twisty, windy road which makes it seem like it's a long way from anything... <BR> <BR> The place, with lots and lots of picnic ... Sat, 23 Apr 2016 22:57:51 EST Day Well Spent I spent most of the day in a waiting room while a friend was having outpatient surgery for a shunt to facilitate cancer treatment....I had a book, and armed with prayer, I had a perfectly pleasant time...and even though the traffic was awful in Austin as it usually is, I was glad to provide her transportation for the hour long drive home, and get her situated ... <BR> <BR> It's wonderful to have friends, but it's even better to BE a friend.... Fri, 22 Apr 2016 23:06:19 EST TWO Days in a Row Both yesterday AND today I woke up to spectacular thunderstorms, but by noon the storms had passed and the skies were totally cloud free and brimming over with sunshine.... TWO days in a row! But oh boy! I am not tired of water falling from the sky.... this has been perfect temperatures and rain for our summer crops around here, and yesterday I watched one of my (formerly anti-home gardening when he was a kid at home) sons proudly take his 3 year old out into his backyard to pick a nice bowlf... Fri, 22 Apr 2016 00:54:13 EST It's Always Something Grandchildren are the greatest things EVER... <BR> <BR> Except when they are sick, which they were today as I watched them until their parents got back....not hungry, but needing to eat.... not feeling well enough to play, but not sick enough to fall into a deep restorative sleep.... <BR> <BR> Maybe even a wee bit grouchy... <BR> <BR> But they love to be read to, even the baby... <BR> <BR> And I love to read to them.... <BR> <BR> Life is GOOD! Wed, 20 Apr 2016 23:45:44 EST SO Grateful!!! A couple weeks ago I received an email from Discover Card saying that there had been some suspicious activity on my card account, and had I used it in the previous couple of hours?.... I hadn't, and so they cancelled the Old Card, and sent me a new one.... so I was already super security conscious.. <BR> <BR> While I was waiting for the new one to arrive, I managed to misplace my Mastercard, the credit card I use most often as a back-up.... Had it been stolen? Had I left it somewhere? Was I ... Tue, 19 Apr 2016 21:50:33 EST Resistance Does Not Have to Be Futile For SOME reason, a lot of companies were running special IRS Day sales, both in their brick-and-mortar stores, and online as well... (I mean, as much as I love a good sale, spending MORE money on a day that the government got a bite out of me just seems a bit extravagant) <BR> <BR> It was hard, but I resisted the good buys, I really didn't need a THING! <BR> <BR> AND I even resisted the very reduced shipping rates!!!!! <BR> <BR> I just had to mention it because I don't know when I can demo... Tue, 19 Apr 2016 00:35:35 EST Geezerette-hood The wedding I attended last night was lovely.... the bride was resplendent in a gorgeous lace covered gown, the groom's smile was so wide and non-stopping that MY face hurt in sympathy.... I have known these two since they were wee children, and watched them grow up through college and careers (the bride is a civil engineer, while the groom served in the USAF after graduation from the AF Academy, and is now in merger and acquisitions in the oil business) <BR> <BR> The wedding was fabulous, b... Sun, 17 Apr 2016 22:36:05 EST TWO New Grandchildren at Once! The family (including my wonderful 94 year old mother- the new Great grandmother) all got together to celebrate two new additions to the family yesterday.... yes, TWO! We are doubly blessed! <BR> <BR> Not twins, but sibling foster kids officially and legally adopted under all the laws of the state of Texas.... <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> Love 'em, love 'em, love 'em! <BR> <BR> The whole idea is a reminder of th... Sat, 16 Apr 2016 01:10:05 EST Great Time So Far My mother is a perfect guest.... she is so appreciative of every effort I make on her behalf... she thinks my children (and grandchildren) are all adorable AND brilliant... and she paid for dinner when we went out to dinner at the Grist Mill last night... <BR> <BR> She apologizes for any inconveniences she might have caused, even if they are truly trivial She models what a gracious woman should be like, <BR> <BR> When I grow up I want to be just like her! Thu, 14 Apr 2016 23:41:58 EST Not Time to Panic! My mother and her best friend have come for a little visit, and even though I'm thrilled to have them..... It's my Mom!!!!!! No pressure, right? <BR> <BR> The beds are clean, the bathroom is clean, and it's too late to do anything else.... <BR> <BR> We are going to enjoy being together... Wed, 13 Apr 2016 23:59:05 EST Remember the Segway! And the Alamo! The great battle cry of the Texas revolution was "Remember the Alamo!".... and the Alamo, an ex-Mission turned into a fort, is now located in downtown San Antonio... it hasn't moved, but the city has grown up all around it, so its a downtown historical site and battlefield.... <BR> <BR> I've always thought the Alamo was a cool place... <BR> <BR> But it's especially cool when you get to it by using a Segway.... <BR> <img src=" Tue, 12 Apr 2016 20:42:56 EST Wowsers! I have GOT to get one of those! "My name is Julie, and I can DO THIS!" is what my instructor told me to say as I stepped onto one of those very cool, very dangerous-seeming Segway people movers, for my very first Segway tour this morning... and I kept it up for 2.5 hours! It was a tour of downtown San Antonio, and we covered a LOT of territory, including, of course, the Alamo... <BR> <BR> it's not quite like any other kind of vehicle, NOT like a bicycle, NOT like a skateboard, ....maybe it's a bit like waterskiing...but wi... Mon, 11 Apr 2016 19:42:04 EST Best Time to Drive is at 5 AM!!! My good friend had to fly out of San Antonio to return home this morning, but her flight necessitated driving the 40 or so miles to the airport in the dark to get her to her early check-in.... aside from having to get up pretty early, it was a fabulous experience! <BR> <BR> There WERE some cars on the interstate, but they were well behaved, and we got to the airport in record time, and all went according to plan (unlike the day she flew IN to San Antonio last week and her arrival coincided ... Sat, 9 Apr 2016 22:59:01 EST Feeling of Accomplishment Well, it may not be absolutely finished, but today I took all my IRS data to my accountant... I feel like a huge load has been lifted off my shoulders, making it possible for me to enjoy the rest of the fabulous day... <BR> <BR> Am taking my own medicine (posted in conspicuous places) <BR> <BR> What can you do <BR> TODAY <BR> to bring you <BR> ONE STEP CLOSER <BR> to your goal? <BR> <BR> Thu, 7 Apr 2016 23:35:39 EST Kick in the Pants- Just What I Needed Do you go over the section of Sparkpeople that has the Inspirational quotes in it? I USED to when they were a little bit easier to find on the website... but not so much any more... <BR> <BR> But this one I ran across in an old Sparkblog today; <BR> <BR> "What can you do TODAY to bring you ONE STEP CLOSER to your goal?" <BR> <BR> I'm going to post it in a couple of conspicuous places to keep it ever in the forefront of my mind..... Bathroom Mirror, here it comes! Wed, 6 Apr 2016 23:53:30 EST To Do List I need to make my To Do List up, and actually follow it!!! <BR> <BR> Slowly I'm going through my closets and getting rid of STUFF ... every other week or so I get a notice from a charity group asking for donations of household goods, and they will even COME PICK THEM UP... so I usually have at least a box of clothing or other items.... <BR> <BR> Not to mention that as I am working my way through boxes of stuff, I'm actually finding items of interest that had been lost for some time! <BR> <... Tue, 5 Apr 2016 22:56:32 EST Sweetest Little Wildflower Ever Yesterday I mentioned the five petaled wildflower that the smartphone couldn't identify, except just kind of generically.... but not only do I keep a variety of naturalist field guidebooks (birds, trees, wildflowers) ready to look up these puzzles of nature, I also went straight to the internet with my photo of the sweet little blossoms... <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> Yes!!! They WERE Baby Blue Eyes, just what I ha... Mon, 4 Apr 2016 22:59:58 EST Absolutely Breathtaking This was a glorious day... cool without being cold, sunshiny without being glaring, surrounded by friends, new and old, without being stifling or complicated.... A great day! <BR> <BR> I got to see the bluebonnets with fresh eyes since Friday, and my friend, who is a native Texan, and flew back for a visit from Georgia, arrived, hungry for some vintage Texas roadside views.... The bluebonnets are still quite robust, though almost ready to concede their spots to the next wave of beautiful nat... Mon, 4 Apr 2016 00:34:05 EST Way Behind in Blogging I'm so far behind, and this is still going to be short.... <BR> <BR> Ate out twice today with friends and had lovely salads both times, making wise choices and skimping on the high calorie stuff (unless I really wanted it!) with no snacking!!! <BR> <BR> So why can't I function without snacks EVERY day???? <BR> <BR> Having a dear old friend for a houseguest has been a real treat! Sun, 3 Apr 2016 00:12:30 EST A First and a Startling Refresher Course Yesterday was our actual realization of the present my oldest child gave me for Christmas: a session at the Puzzle Room of Austin, where you, and up to 9 others are locked into a room filled with a bunch of clues to unravel a series of more clues which ultimately lead to vanquishing a nefarious foe, and ESCAPE! Oh, I forgot to mention that you have exactly one hour before your time is up, and the villain(s) supposedly annihilates you!!!! <link> </link> <BR> <BR> ... Fri, 18 Mar 2016 11:58:30 EST