Sunday, February 17, 2013

Well I'm excited . . .

I'm  really excited to tell you that  I have been featured in the February 2013 issue of Art Doll Quarterly magazine.  I created six dolls in honor of my great aunts, from "downhome" as we called it.  I call them the Garden Club Gals.  In the article I write about the dolls, how each lady has a different position in the club, and what their duties are.  Every single doll has her own personality.  It's just kind of fun and silly.

 My grandma and grandad on my dad's side were southerners, coming from Kentucky and southern Illinois, Hillsboro area.  I know southern Illinois doesn't sound very southern, but believe me, when I was on the farms and in the small town visiting the relatives, the accents were definitely there and the lifestyle was southern. 
Oh, how I loved being there. I should have known right then and there that I belong in the south, probably on a farm or a very rural small town. While there, I learned to ride a horse. I also learned to drive a motorcycle.  I went fishing in a trout pond, and I played in a corn silo.   I still remember going to the barn to visit Uncle Paul while he was milking cows. He asked me if I liked milk, and nodding my head up and down I assured him I loved milk. As I got a little closer to take a better look he pointed the udders at me, squirting me with the warm milk. I squealed as loud as the nearby baby pigs as I ran away. Once I was at a safe distance, I stopped and looked back. He was perched on his little stool, bent over as he resumed his work. I could hear him softly chuckling as the streams of milk hit the bucket. What a character.  On my 15th birthday, in a cute little beauty shop in town, I had my ears pierced. Yet another memory. I wish I could remember what the name of the shop was and exactly how it looked. I'm picturing a cute little pink shop, something like I would see on the Andy Griffith show or like the beauty shop in Steel Magnolias.  

I had such wonderful visits, and absolutely loved all the aunts, my grandma's sisters.  They had such a huge influence on me. I saw first-hand the quilting and sewing and canning and baking - all the activities so common to women from that generation.   My grandma had six sisters and one brother.  Actually while researching I discovered she had another brother, Reed, who I had never heard of.  I am assuming he died young.  

My grandma was Ina.  Ina Pearl Littrell. She was born and raised in the beautiful southeastern Kentucky. I have named chickens and dolls after her and all of these women.  I'm not sure if they would have been happy about that or not!!  Her sisters were Mary, Audrey, Willa, Lillian, Myrtle Lee, and she had a brother named Paul, who married Leona.  My brother, Joseph Paul, was named after my grandad, Joseph, and Uncle Paul.  I remember Uncle Paul and his dry sense of humor.  He always had a twinkle in his blue eyes and looked like he was ready to break into a smile, which always left me wondering just what he was up to.   

I felt so at home in the small town and farms we stayed at, perhaps partly because I had family there. You see, somehow my grandparents ended up in southern Illinois, which is a stones throw from the area in Kentucky where she was born. My dad's parents moved to Wisconsin right before he and his sister were born. Times were hard and there was a huge automobile factory here offering steady employment and benefits. He and Aunt Betty were raised here.  At 17 years of age, my dad joined the navy and was stationed in San Francisco, where he met my mom. They married and started their family there, and my older brother, Joey, was born. When he was about a year old they had an earthquake, which frightened my dad to death. He told my mom to pack everything up. Off they went to Wisconsin. His sister, Aunt Betty had 5 boys, but since she married a handsome naval officer and lived out of state, we never had any relatives here except for my grandparents.  So I grew up with absolutely no relatives around, which I guess seemed normal since I didn't know any different. I guess I felt like I had roots downhome, and that was where I belonged.
I remember how Aunt Myrt and Uncle Dale had a bowling alley and antique store on the main street in the small town.  Aunt Lillian's son, Harold Dean, was the mayor.  (In the south you use two names). I felt so important being related to royalty!
My mom recalls the local newspaper printing a little article about the relatives from Wisconsin visiting one summer. Now that's what I call a small town. She also recalls the first time she met my grandmother's mom.  She was a little tiny Ma Kettle like dynamo, and within one minute of being introduced, she excused herself, picked up a shotgun and shot at some crows she had just noticed in her garden.  My mom was a bit taken aback, being a city girl.  
I created these dolls in honor of the aunts.  They are whimsical and silly.  I hope the pictures do them justice. I gave them each bloomers and a full slip.  No proper lady would be without a slip, right   You should see the bloomers. 

I added extra stuffing into the back of the bloomers to give the aunts a little extra cush for comfort.  Actually none of them were really chubby, but it was cute.  Come to think of it Aunt Myrt was a plump, sweet, lovable little thing.   
  I added a little extra stuffing in the bosoms for a more mature look.
I used vintage reproduction fabrics and linens for the coats to have a fresh, fun, yet vintage feel.  The article goes into a little more detail.  I am on pages 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14.  I really hope you get a chance to pop in a Barnes and Noble or some place that carries the magazine so you can take a peek.  I am so excited about it, and am really happy to pay tribute to these wonderful women who had such an influence on me. 

One of my sons and his family are very seriously considering moving to southern Tennessee, really just south of where my grandma is from.  We are  considering trying to find a tiny little cottage or build a little log cabin near them to visit, and maybe spend some of the winter months.  How funny that I might end up so near to where it all began.  Full circle really.  Maybe I am meant to live in the south after all.  Anyone out there from Tennessee, or nearby?  Thanks so much for stopping by to visit, I am always so happy to see you!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Well, you're just not going to believe it.  Remember my weight was 145 at my last post?  Are you ready for this?  It is, this morning . . . . . drum roll . . . . . 146.5.

Yep.  That's right.  I gained a pound and a half.  Sigh.  I just don't know what to say.  That's why I have been dreading writing this post.  I kept hoping it would go back down, but nope!!!!!
I really have no explanation.  One thought that crossed my mind was that I was trying to eat all these different things that were proven to lower cholesterol.  Certain nuts, olive oil, on and on.  Perhaps I was adding extra calories in and not cutting back somewhere else?  That might explain it! 

I had the great idea to bake some oatmeal cookies, loaded with walnuts and dried cranberries. Of course I had to put at least a little bit of chocolate chips in them.  Instead of vegetable oil I substituted olive oil, which is also supposed to be good for high cholesterol.  It makes sense, right?  A good high fiber cookie.  I mean really, there ARE three cups of oats in the recipe.  They were mmmm, mmmm, good, and I was thinking that this was the best "diet" in the world.  They were healthy, and they filled me up. Well, a few cookies with a cup of coffee or Diet Coke did.  I thought it was helping to keep my appetite under control so I wasn't hungry, thus not being tempted to eat unhealthy foods. And yes, as I wrote that last sentence I do see the irony in eating cookies to prevent unhealthy food choices. Duh.  Apparently I'm not as smart as I thought I was!!! 

My husband has informed me that I was the ONLY one in the house eating the cookies, and that I have managed to eat pretty much every last one myself.  He and my son had a few, but the rest I put in the freezer because. . . well duh. . . everyone knows there is nothing better than homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies right out of the freezer, except maybe Girl Scout Thin Mints!  Ohmygosh don't even get me started.  I didn't even order any Girl Scout cookies, and when my daughter gave us a box  I instructed my husband to hide it in the pole barn out of my sight.   

Apparently eating almost 4 dozen cookies myself over the last week or so might have not been a great idea.  I swear, I had no idea I was the only one eating them.  This is why I NEVER buy junk food or Oreos or anything I  love, because I just keep going back for more.

The only other thing I can think of that might have made me gain weight is stress. They say stress can do it to you. My mom had yet another fall a little over a week ago, and again is in the nursing home for rehab.  Thank God she didn't break anything this time. She was so sore and stiff there was no way we could have managed her at home, and the doctor recommended a little physical therapy. That whole ordeal, from the phone call telling me of the fall to the day spent in the ER to the admission to the nursing home was really stressful.  Seeing her in such pain was awful.  

To top it off, my little sister, my only sister, who has been here to help with mom after her last fall, was going to be returning home.  Just knowing she was leaving was so sad, and thinking about it would bring me to tears every time I thought of it.  We are so close.  She is so much fun.  We laugh at the same things, finish each other's sentences, frequently say the exact same words or sentences at the exact same time, and even think of the other person about one second before they call on the phone.  
We have always talked on the phone every day, but this was even better! She was here for the family birthday parties, special occasions, and barbecues.  It was so nice.  I am so sad that she is gone.  I am so happy for her to get her life back though.  Sniff.  Sniff.

I told you I would let you all know how I was doing with my weight and healthy lifestyle, so there it is. The ugly, awful truth.  But let's look on the bright side.  I have begun taking fish oil, red yeast rice, and becoming very aware of certain foods that have health benefits. 
I've discovered Greek yogurt has an amazing amount of protein and also probiotics for stomach health. It tastes sour, but I add the cinnamon that I am supposed to take daily, squirt in a little honey we purchase from our friendly neighborhood beekeeper, and just tell myself I am improving my health with every bite. Just in case you didn't know, protein builds muscle, and the more muscle you have the more efficiently you burn fat. Also, protein makes you feel fuller longer.  So it's a win-win situation! Who knows, I may even learn to like it! I could always add fruit, but I really want to get in those two teaspoons of cinnamon.  I guess I don't even have to tell you I would prefer cinnamon toast with sugar and butter!

I am exercising more. I have gotten on that old treadmill much more often, and even pulled out my Yoga Booty Ballet and Zumba CDs.   I am starting to do a little bit of working out with my five pound weights.  When I go to the nursing home to sit with mom, which is about five hours a day total since she doesn't like being there and is lonely, I always grab a big ol' orange from the snack tray instead of junk food which is right alongside the fruit.  Well, ok, I do take an occasional mini Oreo snack pack, but for the most part just the orange.  Instead of eating a regular baked potato with sour cream and butter, I bake a sweet potato and sprinkle cinnamon and a tiny bit of brown sugar on it.  It's so much better for you and tastes like pumpkin pie.

This wasn't really about losing weight anyhow, but lowering my cholesterol.  Who knows, maybe I actually have improved my cholesterol levels.  I just wouldn't know because I haven't been tested yet.  

I'm not giving up.   

I will renew my efforts.
I will NOT make another batch of cookies.  
I will step up the exercise.
I'll try to eat that awful yogurt in-between meals so I won't be as hungry.
I'll try not to be so stressed and overwhelmed about Mom coming home next week.  
I will try to ask for help from others to get me through.  
I will not sneak into the pole barn and try to find those Thin Mints. 
I want to thank all of you for your very kind and supportive comments.  There are many comments I have not published because some of you have shared some very personal things with me. These comments have been very helpful.  Clearly, I am not alone in this overweight, overwhelmed, menopausal, high stress, high cholesterol life.   I consider myself very fortunate to have met so many wonderful blogging friends. Your good wishes and compassion never cease to amaze me. Thank you for all your uplifting comments and suggestions.  Have a wonderful week. I'll let you know how I am doing soon.