Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Week of Awesomeness

This week is turning out to be super-fun! God's mercies are new every morning, of course, for which I am so very thankful. But some days, you get to put something on your schedule that makes you smile every time you think about it. And each day this week has had or will have had an activity for me to enjoy and/or look forward to doing. (Thanks, God, for filling my week with happy faces!)

Sunday...
...was Church Day! Filled with singing, praise, worship, and fellowship, Sunday always starts off the week on the right foot. I'm really getting a lot out of the Bible study during Sunday School hour; we're doing Rick Warren's "Transformed" series. This week's chapter was on emotional health. To me, it seems very closely related to last week's mental health; both chapters emphasize keeping our minds focused on God, trusting Him with our futures, and not worrying. The peace that God gives is incredible! 'Peace' is my one-word study for this year, so I'm paying close attention.

Even though it's rather frivolous in comparison to the important spiritual aspects, I was very happy with the outfit I put together to wear to church. I wanted to participate in this week's Style Imitating Art challenge; it turned out quite nice, I think! The inspiration piece was Ansel Adams' 1958 photograph "Aspens, Northern New Mexico".


My outfit interpretation:

 

Monday...
...I had a mammogram. Sure, I suppose most women wouldn't say that was awesome. Or fun. And it wasn't fun, exactly, but it wasn't horrible. The fun part was supposed to be afterward; I had plans to meet a friend for lunch. But...she had to cancel. Still not great, huh? Well, since I wasn't going to have some girlfriend time, I decided to shop at a couple of stores I rarely visit because they are on the opposite side of town I typically frequent. That was fun! At Marshall's, I bought an organizer wallet with detachable cross-body strap on clearance for $10. My stroll through Target was almost a bust, until I wandered into the coffee appliance aisle. The Bella Single Serve Dual Brew coffee maker was on sale - and I've been wanting to replace my aging drip brewer for a while. The nice thing about the Bella is that it can use either Kcups (any kind!) or the included filter basket. While the Bella Dual Brew has mixed reviews online, I am finding it perfect for my needs and enjoy it very much.

Tuesday...
...We made plans to go out for a late lunch / early supper as soon as Some Postman got home from work. Tuesday is typically a lighter mail load day, so he gets home around 2:00 pm. We had a coupon to use at Pizza Ranch, only to discover it was closed when we arrived! Neither of us had eaten much since breakfast, so we were far too hungry to finish our other errands and just eat when we got back home. My being vegetarian seriously limits where we can go out to eat, but anyplace that serves Mexican food is usually a good option. And so we went to Carlos O'Kelly's. We were the only patrons in the restaurant the entire time we were there! Kind of nice, actually. When our waiter learned my food restrictions, he produced a vegetarian menu, which I didn't know they had. We enjoyed our meal, and while it probably won't be a regular eating spot for us, it's definitely on the "veg-friendly options" list.

Wednesday (today)...
...turns out to be National Chocolate Cake Day! There's a day for everything, you know! In honor of this most delicious observance, I baked an Old Fashioned Hershey's Chocolate Cake with One Bowl Buttercream Frosting, all from scratch. This was the first opportunity I've had to use my recently purchased aluminum round cake pans, and I am very happy with the results. After all these years wondering why my round cakes had a tendency to come out dry on the outer rim and sink in the middle, I learned that my dark, non-stick cake pans were the culprit! Get some heavy-grade aluminum cake pans, people. They aren't very expensive and are totally worthwhile.



Thursday (tomorrow)...
...has three fun things on the agenda. First, Pilates. While sorting out workout DVDs I can no longer use due to my bum foot, I found a Leslie Sansone Pilates DVD that I forgot I had. It's terrific! It's so nice to have something other than riding Marcy (stationary bike) or practicing yoga, as much as I love them both. Variety is good! The second fun thing to do tomorrow is running errands in Little Town, including a visit to the library and a pop-in at the thrift store. The third item on the list is the funnest - it's Book Club night! We had to postpone book club due to the snow last Thursday, but the snow has mostly melted now. Our hostess requested that we read a non-fiction book from the 500 section of the library; I read a fascinating book about snails - "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating", by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. Book Club is a highlight of my month. We are a close group of friends and always have a grand time together!

Friday...
...a neighbor friend (who is also in book club) is hosting a Girls' Night at her house. It will be like Round Two of book club, I'm sure, except we probably won't talk about books! Friday is also my daughter's 25th birthday, but I'll celebrate that with her on...

...Saturday.
Min has requested Grandma's Chicken Casserole and my Bread Pudding as her birthday meal, so I will prepare both dishes and take them to her house in the morning. The casserole must sit in the fridge all day, so she can bake it fresh for supper in the evening. I think she and I might go out for coffee, if Baby Miss Pie is cooperative.

Finally, next Sunday...
...We will make our annual visit to our Hometown, go to worship service at the church Some Postman grew up in, and peruse the local antique shops. I'm hoping to score a piece or two of Frankoma pottery; Some Postman might find a crock to add to his collection. In the evening, we'll go back to the church for their soup supper and catch up with some old friends.

Not all of my arrangements this week turned out exactly the way I'd expected, and it's likely that the days to come might change a bit from how I've planned them out. But that's OK! Sometimes the unexpected things are the best things. Enjoy life! Each day is an adventure!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Style: On The Casual Side

Normally, I wear a dress or skirt outfit to church on Sundays, but last week was bone-chillingly COLD, so I opted for close fitting, warm layers. Also, I wanted to wear my new sweater that I bought at Modcloth and it doesn't look right with a skirt. At least, none of the skirts in my closet. Oh wait...I bet my black leather pencil skirt would be perfect with this sweater! If it still fits me...I've dropped a size, so anything that's tailored, like a pencil skirt, doesn't fit very well anymore. Some clothing I can alter, but that leather skirt is lined and made of leather - both points being beyond my skill level in sewing.

Back to last Sunday's outfit...

Outfit details: sweater ~ Modcloth (no longer available, but sometimes they bring pieces back);
ribbed tank underneath ~ thrifted; floral pants ~ Walmart;
fleece lined leggings underneath ~ Amazon; 
necklace ~ vintage shop in Tucson, AZ; boots ~ thrifted.



There are several aspects about this Modcloth sweater that I love. The color, first of all, because gray is fast becoming my "new black". The angle of the cable knit in front is terrific for my shape; it visually widens my narrow shoulders and narrows my wider hips. Several Modcloth reviewers said the sweater is itchy, and it is at first, but wearing a tank top underneath helped with that, and I think it will become less itchy as it's worn and washed. The most interesting part of this sweater, however, is the back.



The back of the sweater plays peek-a-boo! I love the lace under-layer, and the fact that it covers my backside. This is important when your backside isn't as good at holding up your pants anymore. The joys of middle age! Ha ha!


Because I felt that my necklace needed more length, I added a simple silver chain bracelet as an "extender". I really like how the color of the tank top underneath is pulled out by the color in the necklace chain.


It has been a while since I've dared to put my feet into heels, and I wasn't so sure I wanted to keep wearing these boots after walking around the house before we left for church. My insole inserts helped quite a lot, though, and wearing them for a couple of hours didn't hurt my bum foot too  much. However, if I run across a pair of gray boots with a lower heel, I'll happily replace this pair.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Creativity 2016: Repurposing Chipped Frankoma

One of my goals for this year is to engage in more creativity, whether that is writing, sewing, baking, or anything else that involves making something. We had an unseasonably warm couple of days last week, and I took advantage of the sunny 55° weather to finish a project that had been in progress for several weeks.

A friend gave me an airplane plant (also called spider plant) last summer, and it did quite well in our screened-in porch. After the nights turned chilly, I brought the plant indoors and placed it on a high shelf in the bathroom. There is a skylight in that room (no windows, as it is in the center of the house) and is ideal for wintering over plants. Before long, that little airplane plant sprouted some babies! I picked off four of the shoots and placed them in a dish of water to root.

Some time ago, our insurance agent gave me a box full of Frankoma dishes he'd picked up at a flea market. He  remembered that I collect the pottery; how nice of him! Well, sadly, most of the coffee cups were chipped. I can't bear to throw away any Frankoma, even if it is damaged. For example, I even bought some cracked/chipped trays at an antique store. Thankfully, the trays came with perfectly intact soup bowls, and the price was ultra cheap. We use the soup bowls as intended, and one of the chipped trays serves as a food dish for the barn cats. I used another of the trays to hold part of my plant project. There are two more chipped trays...wonder what I should do with them?

Back to those warm days last week... I thawed out the bag of potting soil (it had frozen in the barn) and then potted those baby airplane plants in some of the chipped Frankoma mugs. I am quite pleased with my little repurposing project!


I left the baby plants on the porch to catch some warm rays before bringing back in the house. Now they add life to my sewing room and a corner of the living room.




This creative project reminds me of a comforting passage of Scripture:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.                                                                                                                     2 Corinthians 4:7

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Orange, Gray, and a Cling-on

Flannel shirts over tees and fuzzy pants have been my standard at-home wear over the past few months. As much as I love my flannel shirts, I am getting bored with them. I've got several new and new-to-me shirts, sweaters, and tops that have gotten very little use, and I believe it is time to rectify that. After many thrifting disappointments, I now have plenty of jeans that fit, too!

Here is a cozy, comfy casual outfit that I wore last week to run errands and attend a church ladies' meeting:


Outfit details:  top - JC Penney's; jeans - DressBarn;
earrings - MIL's collection; scarf - handmade gift from church lady friend; 
boots - Target.


I've been drawn to gray lately and prefer it over black to wear near my face, especially. Black just feels too harsh anymore. Gray is the perfect backdrop for my orange scarf, too! It doesn't get worn often, simply because there isn't a lot in my wardrobe that compliments it. I'm very glad this shirt helps fix that problem. The scarf is made of super soft yarn.


And now there's a clingy Dachshund parked on my lap, her head and paws dangling over my left arm, making typing a challenge. My brain is tired from all the thinking it had to do earlier today, so I guess that's all she wrote.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Cooking Adventures: Sweet Potato and Kale Frittata with Goat Cheese

One of my goals this year is to try new recipes, both vegetarian for myself and meaty for Some Postman. I did one of each this past week, and they both turned out pretty good! Of course, I didn't actually sample the Chicken Parmigiana I made for SP, but he said it was tasty and he won't mind if I make it again.

The vegetarian recipe I made last week was Sweet Potato and Kale Frittata with Goat Cheese, which was printed in the December 2015 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine. My friend and neighbor, T, gave me a year's subscription to Veg Times as a gift and I have a LONG list of recipes among those pages that I plan to try!

Rather than type out the recipe here, I'm including a link to the Vegetarian Times website:



My frittata turned out delicious! I did make a couple of changes from the original recipe, but they are minor. First of all, I could not figure out why the Dijon mustard should be divided (and apparently other people noticed the goof, too - no one knows why it says "divided"!), and I didn't have Dijon, so I substituted brown mustard. I didn't measure it, either, but that's nothing new. Ha ha! 



Kale is not appealing to me. When I was a waitress at the local steak house way back when, kale was used to decorate the salad bar; people didn't eat it! I've tried to like the stuff, since it's now considered a "super food", but I simply can't get past the fact it's tough and tastes like leaves. Thick, fibrous leaves. Bleh! Even in soup, it's tough and stringy. So I considered subbing the kale in this recipe for spinach. But you know how spinach gets all limp and slimy when it's cooked? Yeah, that didn't seem appealing. Instead, I decided to try baby kale. Which turned out to be a great idea! Baby kale is tender without being slimy after being cooked. Adult kale is just yucky. 

Another change I made is to use a regular skillet. I despise non-stick pans, so I just sprayed my RevereWare skillet with plenty of olive oil and the frittata came out of it just fine, thankfully. I did have to leave mine in the oven longer than 10 minutes, but I do prefer my eggs cooked more firmly than most folks. 

Not only was the frittata delicious when I first made it, but the leftovers have been just as delightful! This one is a keeper! 



Monday, January 11, 2016

This is Important!

Have you ever had a bit of God's Word shown to you three times in a very short span of time, from three different sources? That happened to me today. I believe God is hollering, "This Is Important!" OK, I'm listening...

Here is the passage God is flashing in neon lights to me today:

 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

First appearance:
My Sunday morning Bible study group is studying Rick Warren's series "Transformed", and yesterday we looked at the second session, on physical health. The Scripture on which this chapter is based is 1 Cor. 6:19-20. What stood out to me in this lesson:  Jesus not only forgave me of my sins on the cross, He also redeemed my BODY and my soul! Jesus died a physical death and his physical body was raised back to life in his resurrection. Therefore, my physical body is also redeemed and will be raised to life. My body belongs to God; taking care of it is an act of worship (of God, not myself!).


Second appearance:
I'm a member of an online weight loss support group, Thin Within; it's a grace-oriented Biblical approach to reaching your God-given size. This week, we are studying the second chapter of the first workbook. The Bible passage under the heading? You guessed it! 1 Cor. 6:19-20. What impacted me from reading this week's lesson:  My body is God's temple, His dwelling place. I am a steward of this temple, and it is my responsibility to take the best care of it possible. God made my body in His image; nothing He created is to be hated! I should appreciated this body and use it to honor Him.

Third appearance:
Scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook, I ran across a post by Our Daily Bread with today's devotion titled "You Have Value". The verse of the day was, of course, 1 Cor. 6:20 - You were bought at a price. God puts such a high value on you, that he sent Jesus to pay the ultimate price to rescue you from sin and death! What I took from the devotion:  Because I am valuable to God (not just my spirit, but my body and mind, too), I must recognize that value and see my true worth. The ODB devotion has a different message using this verse, but it certainly ties together with the other two. 

For me, it is ever so much simpler to have a positive self-image when I put on God's glasses. He sees me as having great value. My mind, my spirit, my body all have great value to Him. Feeding each of those aspects of my self with GOOD things is an act of worship of the Great God who created me. The Holy Spirit lives inside of me...ALL of me, not just a corner of my heart. Doesn't He deserve to have a healthy, strong and energetic house? I will take the best care I am able of this body He has loaned to me, and use it to give Him glory!







Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sunday Style: Vintage Fur

My generous sister-in-law gave me a beautiful vintage fur capelet (or mini cape) for Christmas. I'd seen it in the photos her daughter posted on Facebook advertising their garage sale earlier in the month. My SIL had acquired the fur from a resident at the retirement home she worked at about 10 years ago. Bless her heart - instead of selling the capelet, she mailed it to me! And I do LOVE it!

I'd planned to wear the capelet with my green sweater dress to my family's Christmas get-together, but it was entirely too windy and cold that day. So I saved it to wear to church this past Sunday. We had cold sunshine and not much wind, which was bearable, although I'll admit I was glad to reach the car when we left the building.

Outfit details:  vintage fur capelet ~ gift from SIL;
dress ~ eBay; boots ~ eBay;
bracelet ~ vintage shop.




At church, several ladies admired my fur - as did several men! We have many avid hunters in our congregation, and some of them trap as well. The men were mostly interested in identifying the animal fur. Muskrat, mink, and chinchilla were suggested. I have no idea, of course! 


When the fur came to me, it had a few places where the seams had come undone, so I repaired those before wearing it. The design is wonderful! You can see in the above photo how there is a split on each side for my arms to go through and into the little hand-warmer pockets. 

 

Curious about the fur's origins, I looked up "Furs by Francis" and discovered that the furrier opened its doors in Winona, Minnesota in 1949, and closed sometime in 2010. The mink jackets for Miss Minnesota winners were made there, and the second owner even raised his own foxes for a time. The exact age of my capelet isn't known, but from what my SIL told me, my best guess is that it was made in the 1950s.

Since I have very few occasions to wear fancy dress, I've been poking around on Pinterest to find ways to wear the capelet casually. It does appear to be possible! As long as the Kansas weather cooperates, I plan to feature the fur at least once more on the blog before spring.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Farewell, 2015; Hello, 2016!

It is December 31st as I begin to write this post. The last day of the year 2015. I spent the day taking down most of the Christmas decor (I will leave up the wreaths and snowmen for a while) and cleaning up fake pine needles. As I put away my Christmas card record book (it's vintage 1970s, given to me by my mother-in-law, and I used the last column in the final pages this year...so sad!), I read all the 'year in review' letters I've written - and thankfully saved - since 2003. I don't write a newsletter each year, but every 2-3 years I make the effort. It's only half a page and sums up the major life events in our family over the past year. A lot has happened and changed over the years, for sure. In 2003, my kids were in 5th and 6th grades; in 2015, we have two grandchildren. What changes are in store over the next 10-15 years?

I considered making a 'favorite outfits of the past year' post...but I will spare you. The reason I started blogging my outfits was so that I'd put more effort into my appearance and figure out my personal style. Looking back on the blog, from the beginning to now, I can see that my style is becoming more defined. There really isn't much need to document my outfits anymore, but I do find it fun, so I'll keep it up. OK, just for fun, here's my favorite outfit of 2015:



There were a couple of very significant events that occurred in 2015. The best one, of course, was the birth of my granddaughter on October 1st! She is SO precious and we love her to pieces. She completes our family in the nicest way! The other significant thing was personal growth in a very specific area of my life. Early in the year, I finally made peace with my size and shape; I've never been skinny and I never will be. That's perfectly fine. I'm happy and healthy, and I no longer care what size my clothes are. While I'm at peace with my size/shape, I was not at peace with my relationship with food, so I got involved in a Thin Within online support group in late August. It's a work still in progress, of course, but improvements have been made. It is getting easier NOT to use food (even healthy food) to stuff my feelings. My goal with this isn't to lose weight; my goal is to be at peace with both my body and with food. Nonetheless, I won't fuss about the 7.5 lbs that have vacated my personal space as a result!

That brings me to goals for 2016. No, I do NOT make resolutions; I despise resolutions. I will set GOALS - targets for which I will aim, and not beat myself up if I miss. According to the site StatisticBrain.com, the top ten resolutions for 2015 were:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit and healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family
The percentage of people who actually succeed in achieving their resolutions? A measly 8%! A resolution is a "firm decision to do or not to do something"; a goal is the "object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim, or desired result". Not keeping a resolution makes a person feel like a failure; the same can happen if you don't reach a goal, of course, but it just seems like the path to goals is less rigid and more about the journey. And sometimes, when you reach the goal, you discover that it isn't always exactly what you expected; sometimes it's much better!

Anyway....here are the goals I've been mulling over for the year ahead:

Scale back on eBay sales.
As much as I enjoy hunting for bargains at yard sales and thrift stores, then turning them over for a profit on eBay, it has become more time consuming and less fun. It will take some exercise in self control to hold back my 'flip gene', but I'm determined to have more time for my other goals.

Be creative!
This includes writing more posts on the blog in the non-clothing categories, as well as spending time in the little room next door to the office. (It needs a better name! I've called it my craft room or sewing room, but it's more than both of those...it's my creative space. Hey! I think I'll call it my Studio. That makes me sound like an artist! I'm not, but by calling myself an artist, perhaps I'll become one.) I want to get more creative in the kitchen, also. It's become clear that I prepare dishes for Some Postman and myself that are too large, especially since we usually each have our own. (I'm vegetarian and he's a carnivore.) I need to learn how to cook small. Should be fun!

Find balance.
'Balance' is the word that first came to mind when I began thinking of a word for 2016. Words of the year in the past have been TRUST, SEEK, and EAT/FOOD. These words are ones that I would focus on in life and study in the Bible over the year. No word chose me for 2015, so I wasn't sure if one would make itself known for 2016, either. The more I consider it, the more I think this year will be two words...BALANCE and PEACE. They are kind of related, after all. I'd like to achieve more balance in my everyday life and in my yoga practice. Peace is something the entire world needs, and the best way for it to spread is to start in one person who shares it with others. Jesus offers "peace that exceeds all understanding" (Phil. 4:7). And so I will seek balance and peace in 2016.

As I wrap up writing and editing this post, it is January 1st, 2016...the first blank slate in a 366 page book (this is a leap year!). I like what I've written so far....