Life in the A-Frame

Life in the A-Frame

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Celebrating Christmas:Family

Yep, we had a few outakes during our family picture session. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 7, 2012


Mike is a big part of my physical "transformation". He is my biggest fan. He participates in my exercise routine and look at him! He is really fit and trim and very youthful. Here we are in November of this year. It was a beautiful afternoon, just before the wedding of a close friend, and right before a huge thunderstorm. I had all of my family around me and was enjoying the coolness of the weather and the beauty of the lake. I was very happy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

my garden in December

It was nice being able to pick these vegetables the other morning. They went right into a pot on the stove and we had them for lunch. Not bad for December!

Monday, December 3, 2012

My exercise update

If anyone was wondering if I kept up my exercise routine here is an update. I am now running between 3.6 and 5 miles three times per week. I also do toning exercises twice a week. On the other days I walk 4 miles. I still take Sunday off. I also reached my weight loss goal a few weeks ago. I have lost over 60 pounds. I have a new wardrobe and a new goal-maintain my current level of exercise and my current weight. I will keep you posted so I hope you check back in.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Icy Blue

Thank you to my sister for this early birthday present. She saw me looking at an icy blue Christmas display and sneaked this out of the store while we were shopping. I placed it on top of my Grandmother's piano and have enjoyed just sitting in the dark, with only the Christmas lights on. Thank you Sherrie.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mini Corndog muffins

These are showing up on the internet in lots places so I decided to make them for a covered dish lunch. They were a big hit! Just use whatever cornbread recipe you usually use but spoon the batter into mini muffin pans. Then cut hotdogs into 4 or 6 pieces and stick a piece in each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes until the bread is light golden brown.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How big did it get?

I finally picked my "Giant" pumpkin from the garden. I thought that it had reached its maximum size. It weighed 22 pounds (less than I thought) and measured 45 1/2 inches around from stem to end (oblong). The circumference right around the middle was 35 3/4 inches.
It now sits on this table in my living room. I think it will be the centerpiece on Thanksgiving. It was a lot of fun watching it grow in the garden. Next year, I will get an earlier start in planting the seeds and see if we can grow one a little larger for next Fall.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Baking is crafting

I like to bake! I only bake when I can share with other people because, as you probably can guess, I also love to eat. I cannot resist homemade treats. Here are two items I baked in September:
                                         Butter Herb Bread that I baked for the County Fair.
2 pkgs. yeast
2 c. warm water
6 eggs
1 1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. oil
1 1/2 tsp. rosemary
2/3 c. parsley
8 c. flour
1 egg for top
Dissolve yeast in water. Combine eggs, salt, oil, herbs and 3 cups flour. Add yeast and mix well. Add more flour to make dough and knead on floured board for 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours in warm place. Shape into two loaves on cookie sheet. Cover loosely and let rise for 45 minutes. Brush with egg and bake for 50 minutes at 375 degrees.

       Harvey Wallbanger Cake I baked for the Volunteer Fire Department Auction Fundraiser
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup Orange liqueur
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
  1. Mix cake mix, eggs, and oil together.
  2. Blend them with a mixer on slow.
  3. Add orange juice,  orange liqueur, and vodka.
  4. Stir together.
  5. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan.
  6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
  7. Mix powdered sugar and orange juice concentrate together with a fork until smooth and drizzle over cooled cake.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crafts for wedding accessories

I made this hair wreath for the flower girl at a friend's wedding recently. I started with a thin metal hairband, covered it in ribbon and lined the bottom with pearls. Then I glued on little paper roses, larger silk roses, artificial pink branches and ribbon. I thought it was beautiful and so did the little flower girl. She wore her hair up and this little wreath encircled her bun and ringlets.
                                   This is the view of the front of the wreath of roses.

      This is the view from the back. The silver ribbons cascaded down around the flower girl's neck.

I also took the purchased flower basket and added some matching accents. I lined the top of the basket with pearls and used the silk rose and pink branches to match the hair wreath. This was one of my favorite projects.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Crafts as gifts

I had a really fun time making these hats for a birthday gift. Can you see "Minnie Mouse"?

                                                                   Child size hat.

                                           A matching, mini hat for this baby doll.
I like to try to give something a little different-something no one else will have. I hope this birthday gift brings a special little girl lots of joy

My "Giant" Pumpkin

I am still producing 3 kinds of peppers and some okra in my garden. I think that is amazing for this time of year. I also have lots of basil, lavender and fennel. The tomatoes are producing again since the weather has cooled. My favorite little project is this pumpkin. Just for fun I planted 2 giant pumpkin seeds at the end of June-very late in the season. The two vines made one pumpkin each but I soon lost one of the vines. This one survived the hot, dry summer and is beginning to ripen. I will measure it soon and give an update. It has a very oblong shape and it is a good 2 feet long from stem to stem.

My little dog Amos sits by the Giant pumpkin. He weighs 10 pounds and is much smaller. We have had a lot of rain and the pumpkin continues to grow. Update soon to come!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Supper Treat

One of my favorite things to do is to walk out into my summer garden, pick everything that is ripe and wonderful, and put it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Next, I drizzle olive oil over all of it and sprinkle it with salt. Then, I place it in a 400 degree oven until it is browned and crispy on top. While it cooks, I have enough time for my afternoon swim-45 minutes. Salmon is a great addition to this-my favorite meal. Most of the time, the oil doesn't soak through the parchment so cleanup is as simple as throwing away the parchment paper and putting the baking sheet back into the cabinet.
I love those fresh vegetables and I love parchment paper. So easy!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Easy, nutritious, 1 minute flax muffins

I eat these flax muffins almost every morning:
2 tablespoons flax meal
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 egg whites (use 1 whole egg if you prefer)
optional: sweetener such as agave nectar, honey, or stevia can be added to taste

Mix the ingredients together in a microwave safe bowl. Cook for one minute on high. Enjoy!

I like to make a mix and keep it in a glass jar in the fridge. That way, you can just add the egg whites in the morning and cook.
Here's a recipe for a 1 pound sack of flax meal.
in a large bowl thoroughly mix:
1 pound flax meal (28 servings)
4.6 oz. cinnamon (about 19-20 tablespoons)
9 tablespoons olive oil

place 1/4 cup muffin mix in a bow. Add 2 egg whites and combine. Cook for 1 minute on high.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My exercise plan: a look at my week

The biggest weight loss tip I have is to exercise more than you think you can. I started out walking 2 miles in the morning and attempting to make it through an entire exercise dvd in the afternoon, which took several weeks to accomplish. The first time I rode the exercise bike, I only lasted 10 minutes. If I can start that slowly-at age 53- and work up to being able to run-you can too.
Here is my typical week of exercise now.
Monday-my run day.
     Morning: I warm up by riding the exercise bike for 2 or 3 minutes, stretching, then walking half a mile. Then I run 1 1/2 miles, finishing up with a 2 mile walk. That's 4 miles total.
     Evening: 60 minute total body toning video by Brooke Burke-many, many, many squats, repetitions with weights for my arms, hard abdominal session. I am still working on some of those moves. This is the hardest video I do.
Tuesday Morning: walk 4 miles
              Evening: Denise Austin cardio blast or a dance video.  45 minutes. These are my easiest videos.
Wednesday Morning: 6-7 mile walk
              Evening: exercise bike for 35 minutes or do another video like "Biggest Loser Workout"
Thursday Morning: run day-same as Monday
              Evening: Brooke Burke video
Friday-same as Tuesday
Saturday Morning: 7 mile walk
              Evening: REST! no exercise until Monday morning.
Sunday is always a day of rest.

If I have a rushed afternoon, or have an event to go to, I increase my morning walk to 7 miles and take the afternoon off.
Also, my sister and nieces have been joining me most afternoons for the exercise video workout. It is nice for me to have their company-a very good incentive.

I try to plan my daily activities around these exercise sessions. If I were not retired, I guess I would have to do longer sessions but only once a day. I would try to involve the children in some of that exercise activity if I could. At this stage in my life,  my entire family eats the way I eat now. I don't have to have two menus. If you have small children, you would have to incorporate more of the foods they need but I think you could still cook one meal for everyone. I think you could just add more carbs as side dishes for them. I've never believed in having a different menu for the children. Trying to exercise this intensely while working, and having small children would certainly be a challenge. My suggestion is to get up earlier than they do, and exercise then. Easy for me to say, right?

If you have any tips or words of encouragement, please leave me a comment.If you don't have a blogger account, just post as "anonymous" and add your name to your comment. I'd like to hear from everyone.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Changing the way we eat around here

My plan to lose weight:
I originally planned my day around the idea that I would eat 1200 calories of food that was low on the glycemic index. That meant vegetables, no simple carbs, lean meat, egg whites, and a little dairy. That did cause me to lose weight very quickly. Because I made it my policy to exercise fairly intensively twice every day, I learned that 1200 calories isn't enough food. After about a month and a half, I found that I could add a few things to my diet, so I added more milk, another fruit and a small glass of red wine. I tried to balance my diet so that I was eating enough good food. I wanted to eat exactly what my body needed every day. I've found that I eat according to a basic plan but keep things flexible because we like to eat out in restaurants, at church and at family gatherings. I also wanted to eat what was freshly grown in my garden. And...I love meat.
Every day I eat:
3 glasses of 1% milk
1 cup organic plain yogurt
2 fruits
3 meals with protein
2 snacks with protein
unlimited vegetables and olive oil
flax meal
2 tsp cinnamon (for helping control blood sugar levels)
4 oz. merlot
2 servings of nuts
1 good cup of coffee (that means strong, with evaporated milk)

If we eat out:
Mike and I share a plate or
I take half of mine home for my daughter or
I eat the main meat entree and skip the rice and chips or pasta
I mainly choose chicken or fish
Every month we eat a ribeye steak, just a smaller portion than we used to eat

I haven't been good about adding grains back in my diet but I am working on it. I have an occasional serving of whole wheat pasta or brown rice but I should have some every day.

I do not count calories and I do not like to be hungry!
I have been eating this way for about 3 months and I have lost about 10 pounds per month.

Here is a typical day for me:
coffee with about 2 tablespoons evaporated milk, 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (the ingredients are peanuts and salt) and a fruit (usually a medium apple or plum) as a pre exercise snack
Take my 4 mile walk. Once or twice a week I walk 6-7 miles. I recently have been running 1 1/2 miles twice a week as part of my 4 mile walk
Flax meal "muffin" with egg whites and cinnamon, 8 oz. milk
lunch-leftovers or a serving of meat with vegetables or salad. I don't use any salad dressing. I would rather have a little cheese,  one glass milk
exercise at 3 o'clock-from a dvd or exercise machine for 45-60 minutes
1 glass milk, 1 serving almonds or walnuts as a snack
4 oz. merlot
supper-lots of vegetables roasted with olive oil and salt. Lean meat, 1 cup plain organic yogurt with a serving of fruit. I like peaches or necarines or strawberries with my yogurt.

I don't want to know the calorie count. It is probably pretty high but I do 2 exercise sessions and am still losing weight, so I am okay.

I think a really good part of eating like this is the fact that I can eat this way every day, for the rest of my life, and be completely satisfied. I can treat myself at family gatherings and have some dessert or fried food and no harm is done.

Next, I will tell about my exercise plan. (I've had to buy new clothes 3 times in the last 4 months)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Incentive for my lifestyle change

The results of this blood test, taken in March, are the reason that I made some changes to my lifestyle. The doctor suggested I go on a medical "partial fast". That would consist of 4 prescription shakes a day plus one meal-a Lean Cuisine. I would lose 50 pounds in a few months and then maintain that weight with 1200 calories a day for the rest of my life.  He guaranteed that my bloodwork would return to normal and I wouldn't become a diabetic. I left the doctor's office feeling very hopeless. Live on prescription shakes for 3 or 4 months and then suddenly deal with real food and stick to 1200 calories? Sound good to you? After a few hours, I realized that I could do this on my own in a much better, healthier way. I couldn't wrap my head around his medical advice so...I didn't follow it! I happen to think he gave me unsound advice. I am not a doctor, and I am not a nutritionist but I think my plan has worked very well, and I have been very healthy and have more energy than I ever have. I can't imagine following the partial fast and putting all those artificial things into my body. I want to live in the real world, with real food, and be able to eat a healthier way for the rest of my life. So many people have asked me to explain what I was doing and how I was eating. I thought I would spell it all out here for anyone who wants to read the whole story. I told the doctor to give me 6 weeks and then we would see if I had even made a step in the right direction.

After 6 weeks, I returned for a second blood test. My goal was to have lost 10 pounds. (I prayed for 15 though). I started following a diet based on the glycemic index. I chose foods that were low on the index so that my blood sugar would remain level and spike. I was going to fight my insulin resistance by eating this way and exercising to lose my belly fat. I chose to exercise 45 minutes twice a day. I also counted calories at first and stuck to 1200. The doctor told me that amount would maintain 140 pounds so I thought I would get used to eating that amount of calories. I got these results back:

This is super good news! Not only had a lot of these numbers returned to normal, but I had also lost 24 pounds. I received a note from the doctor saying to continue this program and return in 6 months.

Over the next few months, I continued to exercise. I'm entering into my 4th month now and I've started running twice a week. Yesterday I ran 1.3 miles without stopping. I then walked another 2 1/2 miles and finished with a .3 mile run. I wanted to say that I ran a mile and a half.
I exercise twice a day still, and follow the glycemic index, but I no longer count calories., I will outline how I eat in detail soon. I just wanted to tell how and why I got started.

Here I am after my walk/run yesterday morning. I have now lost 40 pounds. I'm still losing very quickly but know that it will even out soon and I will start maintaining my weight. Let me tell you this, it takes a lot more than 1200 calories for me now.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Congratulations Debbie and Alan!

Before I post details of my lifestyle changes, I just have to say Congratulations!
to some very dear friends.....on their engagement.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lifestyle changes

I've been busy exercising and working out a great eating plan for me and my family. A "not so good" report from the doctor gave me the incentive to make some lifestyle changes. I've now lost 40 pounds and work out twice a day. I bought size 10 pants 2 weeks ago and I've never worn that size. I want to return to my blog. I miss it! Soon, I will be outlining my plan on this blog. So many people want to know what I'm doing to lose this weight. Instead of explaining it to individuals. I think it will be simpler to tell my story here-for anyone who wants to read it. I'll get busy and post some pictures, my daily menus etc. Hope some of you will be interested in hearing about my daily plan for fitness and good health.

Me at a bachelorette party in March-40 pounds ago

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

TAC Tuesday evening Memorial Service

Jesus overcame the sting of death to rise and open up the Kingdom of Heaven

This Worship Service focused on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The names of the members who passed away this year were read aloud. Beautiful orchestra music  accompanied the sermon and remembrance.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Monday, Tuesday Worship at TAC

Here are some images from the Worship Services so far at the Texas Annual Conference of the Methodist Church. The focus is remembering the "Seasons of the Church".  Business meetings were held today and the first 2 presentations by our guest speaker were enjoyed. Tonight is the Memorial Service and Eucharist.

                                                           Christ the King is born

                                                                       Praise Music

                                             The crowd participates by singing along

                                               The Season of Advent is celebrated

                                             Our Bishop gives the opening address

                                                                    Palm Sunday

                                       Dramatic presentation of the Passion of Jesus Christ

                                              Solemn remembrance of the Crucifixion

Monday, June 4, 2012

Texas Annual Conference of the Methodist Church, Monday

For the next fews days, I will be blogging from Galveston, Texas. Mike and I are attending the Texas Annual Conference of the Methodist Church. We had a very easy, 3 hour trip into Galveston. We are staying at the beautiful San Luis Resort on the Seawall. Lunch was at the Cafe here in the hotel and we both had delicious Baja Fish Tacos. Our room is on the 7th floor with a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico. Tonight, we will attend the opening Worship Ceremony and the Conference will begin tomorrow morning. Check back for more pictures and details!

Coming into Galveston

                                                         Here we are at the Seawall.

                                             The view from the "hallway" at our hotel.

                                                       The view from our balcony.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Making the Groom's Cake

My son asked me to make his Groom's Cake. He wanted Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake and something to do with a griffin.
I bought 4 pounds of butter, 8 yellow cake mixes, 8 packages of cream cheese, 8 pounds of powdered sugar and 2 dozen eggs.

I made stacks of things to recycle.
Then I made 8 batches of Gooey Butter Cake. This took 8 hours and after I got done, the electricity went off for 4 hours!
I hand painted a Griffin with dark and white chocolate to make the cake topper. This took 4 hours.
The result was so great! The gooey butter cake was really more like a bar cookie so I cut it in squares and stacked it. I edged it in butter cream and chocolate "rocks".  My husband made the cake stand out of cedar. I think it turned out very "manly" and unique. I was so proud to do it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

We did it!

Lee and Peggi's wedding was wonderful and went so smoothly. The late evening weather was perfect. The reception was relaxing and very fun. The couple is back from the honeymoon and settled in. I would say that it was a success!