“Thirsty Cypress” oil painting on canvas board.

The river near me has these Cypress trees with amazing gnarly root systems. They capture my heart how they send those roots this way and that to keep alive.

Like the difference between spreading butter and jelly, is painting in oils now for me rather than acrylics. Now, mind you I refer to the butter that’s been sitting out on a summer day, all soft and shiny. I painted in the jelly of acrylics for several years and was afraid of oils with what seemed a complicated and dangerous occupation with the combustible and fume laden liquids.

I found a rosemary stand oil that says it’s safer to use but boy is it strong smelling. I keep it in a tightly sealed container. I use it to clean my brushes and to mix in the paint as needed remembering to paint fat over lean which is not too difficult of a rule to remember but it does take longer to dry so I have learned to use less. There’s a screen in the bottom and under there where I can’t see must be the stuff I scrub off the bristles and on the top is the pure oil which separates and rises like oil does.

So I am about painting over many of my old acrylic paintings – using the themes I once worked hours to develop and adding to it. That’s how this sheep got lost in my painting (above).

I am painting oil over acrylic canvases. This one is over a previous paint pour. If you look at The reflections in the silver you will see the leftover colors from the previous acrylic pour. In the front is my lavender spike oil. Boy is it scented! But it’s a turpentine alternative and supposed to be better/healthier.

I am trying to do a more painterly style described as not blending but laying the paint down and leaving brushstrokes. This is my daughter.

Oil painting of my granddaughter at the tailor. They didn’t think she’s ever wear this flower girl dress for an upcoming wedding. I just knew I needed to paint this scene as soon as My daughter sent it to me.

I’m still working on it… and am having such great enjoyment!!!

I was trying to remember all of the grocery items for my weekly shopping. Sometimes I just try to remember everything but today I decided to make an actual list. Of course I doodle while I think so that’s why this little sweet forlorn appearing girl “appeared” out of my doodle brain onto my grocery list. I’ve been experimenting lately with portraiture. Next I want to paint an undone blurry and sketchy portrait. I think I this little one needs to be painted.

I’ve been painting in oils and wanted to do some portraiture practice. This 1893 painting made this famous painter – famous! I didn’t do her exactly carbon copy. But I did practice doing the initial sketch with the oil paints instead of pencil in a (new for me) blocking in technique. Then I went about paintings shapes and darks and lights. Anyhow I like this painting. It is a limited palette in lemon yellow alizarin crimson cadmium red ivory black ultramarine blue and titanium white. I love how these colors blended. I couldn’t see well enough to make out the Japanese letters on the wallpaper so I just looked up some a b c’s and that’s basically what it is. I plan to try more portraits. Next I plan to try another famous painter TBD.

I’m back to painting more and thought that Laying acrylics aside for the time being and getting back into oils would be a good way to do that.

I’ve decided to switch to oils.

Loving the brushstrokes!!!

MY BOOK IS FINISHED! I am waiting to hear what two different readers, both RN’s, have to say about my book. Please take a look at my “press release” below. I plan to self publish it on Amazon Kindle just as soon as the final touches are made. I created the entire book on the Pages app on my iPad Pro. I loved being able to use the apple pen to recreate the yellow sticky note (below) that was on the cover of the actual yellow book we used for my husband.

See info about The Yellow Book in a previous post.

THE YELLOW BOOK, Our Family’s Story of Early Frontotemporal Dementia

By Julie Robinson

Author’s Bio

Julie Robinson, author of THE YELLOW BOOK, Our Family’s Story of Early Frontotemporal Dementia, learned how to be a caregiver when her husband, a once brilliant attorney was as she calls it, “taken away by early dementia.” She, an artist, relied on creativity to be able to best balance the peculiar needs of her still young family. While her husband’s growing dementia would bring her to her knees, she found the faith to thrive. Writing the book, while cathartic, was the necessary outgrowth of an experience that so wanted to be shared.

“Book Blurb”

In THE YELLOW BOOK, Our Family’s Story of Early Frontotemporal Dementia, Robinson uses “a day in the life” approach to tell her story of her practical, sometimes humorous, but always poignant caregiving experiences from the near decade she spent caregiving her husband with early frontotemporal dementia. Caregiver, or friend of one, this book teaches you that the caregiving role has the need for empathy, especially when it is an early onset dementia where raising a young family is also an issue. She doesn’t advise, but takes you right along with her through the years of this rare dementia from the beginning before anyone even knows it’s dementia to getting a diagnosis. An artist, Robinson brings her fresh creative approach to caregiving up to and including after placement in long term care.

Writing my book has taken all my time. What a grueling experience. I ended up being so attached to it – giving it out to preliminary readers was like handing over my first baby for the first time to go out for the night. Anyone agree???– that baby was 29 years ago for me but the emotional memory of parting with someone who was part of my heart meant I felt like I was missing something when I was supposed to be enjoying some “me time”. Kinda like how I feel now…

In a painting style break mood I used all the paint on my palette with the side of my brush loaded with thick paint and white on the tip to involve myself in this stormy ocean venture.

After painting the 7 foot angel I just wasn’t finished with the angel theme. This one was mostly out of my imagination. I looked at this statue for some of the shape.

Springtime in the Hill Country of Texas where I live is bluebonnet season. Soon they will blanket the fields. This acrylic painting is much more detailed than my usual painting style. I can’t wait til those little flowers start springing up!

I was commissioned to do this angel. I enjoyed painting it but I had to scrape it with a razor blade to give it a worn appearance and that was difficult!

The call for artists to display at our local hospital art lending program, as well as a local group of artists I paint with encouraging me that my paintings are ready to show, prompted me to finally decide to share my art. So I submitted these three and hope they get chosen.

I painted with primary colors with the addition of white and sometimes black (where I usually try to make my darkest shade from a combination of my primaries). These three are acrylic on watercolor paper except the flowering mountainside which is watercolor. Painting on thirsty paper is interesting. Where the color glides over a canvas, the color soaks right into the paper. I had such fun playing around with the paper.

Warm and Cool on day 95 of 172 of giving up sweets

I am beginning the thought process for a painting. Right now I’m thinking of how warm and cool colors make a painting have soul. I saw an artist employ candles and blue light on either side of his subject, a woman, staged perfectly to give her the warm and cool glow. It must be in a dark room to pull this off, the look achieved in renaissance paintings. I want to try using various objects, fruit, flowers, a pitcher. And, of course, I will have to get my daughter to model for me. I have not painted in this way before, so I’m excited to try different scenarios. And, I will use oil paints, a break from the acrylic I’ve been using. The reason? Because of their greater luster. I created myself a good art space where there is plenty of air circulation which is important for oil painting. My goal? To get a painting placed in my first juried art show. I think that is a reasonable goal for this artist who has been painting for several years now, I think it’s time.

The art process always starts because I want to try something. Sometimes I pull out my acrylic painting paper and simply free paint shapes. And, I play around with color mixing in my favorite color palette of red, yellow, blue, white and black, I enjoy mixing all of my own colors from these primaries, creating interesting warm and cool colors. Though we know black and white make gray, my favorite way to accomplish gray is to mix the primaries together with a little white. It makes the most beautiful clouds and a perfect shadow.

If I’ve been away from painting for awhile, it’s only because I’ve been busy with other tasks. But I’m always planning to paint. When I first started, I wanted to copy something that looked just like the original picture. Then, I branched out into painting just out of my memory and my feelings. Now, I want to paint from life with my feeling in it using thicker paint with interesting brushstrokes. Since this is a departure from my usual painting style, it makes me begin to anticipate…which is important.

Painted Pax on day 92 of 172 of giving up sweets

My newest wine bag, “Pax”, was painted from a picture I took of a very large painting on the wall of a local coffee shop. Fitting for a wine bag, did you know the first miracle recorded in scripture is Jesus turning water into wine at at wedding.

I must say a little about my diet: About a week ago I gave up bread and pasta in addition to the sweets. I plan to do that until I take off the pounds I need to lose. The sweets challenge I will continue until April 21. Then it will be interesting to see if my addiction to sweets is no more…I hope!

And an update on my husband’s dementia and visiting him at his assisted living… it’s very difficult to visit him though I do. It’s agony to see someone who was once an intellectual and a vibrant person in the condition he now is. While I know in my mind that it is the disease course, that provides my heart no relief from the pain it causes. But I realize that feeling pain is part of being human, so I feel it. Not numbing myself by overeating opens up the ability to feel… and give it to God. That brings me peace.

Fireplace Candle on day 90 of 172 days of Giving up Sweets

My sister sent me this candle for my birthday. Did you know that there is such a thing? A fireplace candle?

It crackles like a fireplace while it puts a good amount of scent in the air. I’m enjoying it with my sausage and mustard I’m eating for lunch. (I’m more than half way in my giving up sweets challenge! YAY!)

Since I got the giving up sweets thing DOWN, I decided two days ago to also cut out the bread and pasta. So, it’s meat and vegetables and fruit for me… Well, and oatmeal for breakfast. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I love oatmeal!

The last I blogged, I mentioned I’d be painting some stones. Here are the ones I painted for my best friend:

They are all about an inch across. They are pretty quick to paint and enjoyable because holding the stones is so soothing. Why, I wonder?

Today I’m painting stones for my best friend who, a nurse, was hit in the head and is now laid up at home. A miserable time for her especially because it also involved an uncaring atmosphere that the workplace offered after the injury. So there was the injury and then the added insult that also hurt her heart.

The stones I bought at the dollar store. They are 1 and 2 inches in diameter. I plan to paint the little faces of her grandchildren and mail them to her. Here is an example of one I painted for my granddaughter.

Ocean of wine on day 83 of 172 giving up sweets

I really enjoy the concept art I’m getting to delve into each time I paint a wine bag. This one’s wine ocean crashes into the bottle and becomes salty ocean waves. I have fourteen bags now. I enjoy painting them more than trying to sell them though I’m going to set up my Etsy shop this weekend. Here’s all of them:

Painting wine bags on day 82 of 176 days of giving up sweets

After cleaning out my art room I found these wine bags I had purchased to paint and sell for a local business. This one is soft but fibrous. The others are burlap. They are interesting to paint on! Here’s one on burlap.

Its a two bottle wine bag. I sold some but stopped painting them to pursue other things at the time (like any good artist… :). I’m going to paint them all and set up an Etsy shop to sell. So far I’ve painted ten bags. After I get a few more I will get the shop set up.

Oh and here’s one on a paper wine bag.

(Notice that there is a lake under the sea.)

On Being Capable on Day 80 of 172 of giving up sweets

On this day 80 of the giving up sweets challenge, I am feeling capable… but with a hint of worry. I am now feeling the need to think and plan my exit strategy I scheduled for April 21 so as to not ultimately fail in this challenge. And, at this almost halfway point, I think it important to reveal that it is well worth the investment of time and effort. It is paying off in:

Weight loss,

Clearer thinking,

Increased prayer and bible study, (because His Word is sweeter),

The knowledge that I am capable.

Giving up sweets successfully not only makes me capable… of giving up sweets, it makes me capable of doing anything I ought to do. Quite simply, I didn’t think I was capable of parting with the sweet fix.

It’s pretty funny to see the reactions of people when they learn I gave up sweets.: shock that anyone could do this, guilt because they know they should, and then, “I’d never be able to do that.”

I got to thinking, what is it that makes us feel equipped to do anything? Past experience? Knowing that we can learn something new? Strokes from others? I think the most important way to feel capable is to show that you can do it. That’s why when I first started this challenge I was amazed each day at my ability to just say no to sweets.

Surely, first day back, I won’t eat a whole chocolate cake.

It’s always a long wait. They open at 10. I got here at 9:50 and there were already three people in line.

Since the denial of my claim for aid and attendance for my husband’s assisted living, I have worked hard to collect additional evidence and learn what I can to best support the claim. The Veteran’s administration is a mountain. I’m doing the best I can with it. So, Lord willing … it gets approved!

Working on my people on day 74 of 172 of giving up sweets

I’m making such minute changes now that it’s a game of what’s different to see what changes are even there. Those people on the couch, I think, have tired from their portraits and need a rest. I may be needing to get this wrapped up and framed soon. I am donating it to the kind folks who took my husband in at Morning Star Memory Care In Fredericksburg, Texas. He’s been in good hands there.

I’ve included in my title where I am on the giving up sweets challenge because I am still doing it every day! Doing a challenging painting has been good for putting my hands to work and keeping on keeping them out of the cookie jar.

Pillows behind my people on day 70 of 172 of giving up sweets

My left couch ladies needed pillows behind them. They’d never be sitting straight backed or perched so they seemed stiff without some back support. So I painted in some pillows. Next I need to try and lengthen the far left enthralled lady’s legs. And I need to lengthen and define better my husband’s fingers.

My painting style is to keep layering up paint while working to the goal of the painting which for this one is to reveal gestures of personality. For though body and mind are frail, humanity is still there.

Painting on day 68 of 172 days giving up sweets

Over several days I’ve worked on this painting. I sometimes remember to take a picture! Not finished but sharing my progress… in the last picture you will see I decided a dark background was necessary to make the people what the eye is drawn to. Their white heads were blending too much into the background.

“Scheduling in Art” On day 67 of 172 days of giving up sweets

I’ve ruined art pieces. Good thing I took a picture of this one before I painted over it.

Art can take over my life. In the past I’ve given precious time and energy to whatever whimsical idea would come my way. I was what you might say, “out on a whim”. But, my desire is to master my art, reign in my talents, and focus on finishing.

Scheduling an appointment with myself for my art, like I would do any other important endeavor, is one of my plans for this new year.

To complete the writing process of my book as well as finish some specific paintings, I have chosen to block in time on my calendar and establish deadlines to accomplish these otherwise open ended tasks. Treating them as an appointment puts me in charge instead of the whimsical way I have approached my art.

I will blog about the results… which hopefully will be GOOD!

It will most likely be: writing after breakfast and painting after lunch.


Artists

Compelled, inspired,

So enraptured, we create!

We write, we carve, we build, we paint.

~Julie Robinson


But, the most important time of day comes first before I do anything else. Prayer, bible study, and scripture memorization. Most days I have a scripture in my pocket I’m working on memorizing. At odd times during the day I will pull it out and work on it and sometimes, forgetting to check my pockets, I send them through the wash.

I Must Make Art! on day 66 of 172 of giving up sweets

My pendant “I MUST MAKE ART” was photographed in front of one of my many water over rocks scenes, a painting hanging in my bedroom. I have many more like it stacked in my closet at various levels of completion. Some are signed but I don’t feel they are completed.

The deep desire to paint has come after days of pouring myself into writing. Writing is one thing… getting it to where someone will be able to relate to it is something else. Writers always say it is hard work and it is so true. When I write I feel like I’ve given my all.

For this week, I plan to block in painting and writing time on my calendar so that I will do both each day. I wonder if it will work that way…

By the way, both writing and painting make time zip by so fast. I might say that I’m painting and writing my life away! A timer is my friend to remind me to take a break.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that my daughter is homeschooling her high school years and “we” are in her Junior year now. So, my job is to keep her on task and to feed us healthy meals. I try to keep a step ahead of her desire to go get fast food. So, I will cook us slow meals here that are both healthier more delicious. Yesterday I cooked good old fashioned beans and cornbread to which I added the leftover ham from our New Year’s dinner. And, since I gave up sweets, my palate has changed. I’ve been wanting more vegetables. Recently as a side dish I cooked up some mustard greens. Surprisingly, I was kind of craving it. I don’t think I have ever craved greens in my life.

A healthier diet means a healthier appetite. But, not right away. Join me and find out. I would love to have others come along!

Gingerbread Results on day 64 of 172 of giving up sweets

Of course you can see we are not professionals But we make gingerbread houses every year. There should be a gingerbread house school. I’d attend.

My daughter did a very neat house with a first time try in candy baked into a tree. The tree below left was made with a Christmas tree cutter with a triangle cutout and peppermint candy inserted inside and melted while baking the dough.

My house sports a thatch roof using shredded wheat cereal was frosting glued on for a most cozy gingerbread log home/ island retreat.

Mostly we just had fun. I served sloppy joes and bottled water to help keep the kids from getting too sugared up. Normally I’d wish I could sample a little candy but this year on day 64… don’t even want it!!!

Writing my book on day 63 of 172 of giving up sweets

New Years is bringing about my desire to:

FINISH MY CAREGIVING BOOK

I’ve got to get my caregiving book finished. I have been working on it off and on for the past couple of years. How many times I’ve rewritten its chapters. And, now that my husband has needed to go to assisted living, I am needing to give myself some writing and editing deadlines.

So, currently I am adding, subtracting, and editing my caregiving book. I’m finally able to see what it actually is. This writing process has been throwing a bunch of clay on a table and molding it and then carving it out, totally demolishing some parts and then building it back up.

While editing, I notice I tend to say “just” a lot. Just just just. Like this:

“I just wanted a break.” So I was thinking about that. What do I mean by “just”? Maybe what I really mean is “only”. I only wanted a break. But, do I say “just” because it has a little whiny capability to it? a little more oomph to it?

Maybe I also say “little” a lot. So I could say:

“I just wanted a little break.”

But the TRUTH is: I wanted a break. No just or little. I wanted a very long break.

I wanted it to be over.

As many of you know who are slogging through caregiving days, if you ever do get some respite, it is very difficult to relax if you “just” get a few hours.

Sometimes writing can get me to truth. Telling the truth in my writing means I have to revisit old information and ways of thinking and ask hard questions. Am I saying what I think people want to hear? Am I revealing nothing but saying something? That’s what makes writing soooooo difficult but also so cleansing.

And, then there’s my overused “so”.

Hosting a gingerbread house party today and gluing together some gingerbread houses ahead of time gives me great respect for people who make great gingerbread mansions. A few of the houses I purchased from an after Christmas sale. The others I made the old fashioned way, rolling out gingerbread and cutting them out…

Pretty sure you can figure out which one is the store bought. Mine I’m calling a “fixer upper”.

I ran to get some soup cans to help prop the walls together when I was gluing it together last night. They were all nicely together and then I heard them plop, plop, plop… as I was in the pantry. Next time (if there is) I get the soup cans out before gluing. The base I made the night before to dry thoroughly.

This morning was roof day. I saw a cool tutorial about gluing together the roof and letting it dry first before putting it on. It seemed dry but when I put the roof on it went sliding down. Anyhow, all the houses are together now.

It’ll be fun having our friends come over and gluing the decorations on. After they are all completed those fixer uppers will be fixed. I’m sure I will choose to do this one because it will be a challenge.

Do you wonder how I can make gingerbread houses without eating any? I have no desire for sweets! What!!!??? If you’ve been reading my blog since day one of giving up sweets you will know I was eating cookies by the bag and I couldn’t open candy quick enough to eat it.

Giving up sweets has been instrumental to me in not desiring them.

If you want to do it and If you think you can’t do it, think again. Give it a go. I’m on day 62!

30 minute clean out on day 60 of 172 of no sweets

30 minutes was all it took to a better baking cabinet. There were about three problems I was having with it: I couldn’t fit the raisins on the middle shelf standing up so they were on their side with the lid on the end so I was having to stretch and reach that shelf so I’d barely get ahold of the lid and down they’d fall spilling out which really began bugging me. Then there was the lazy susan spice rack that wouldn’t turn, and finally, the bottom of the shelves needed cleaning.

These simple goals in mind, to make the contents better accessible and to make cooking and baking more pleasant, this small clean out was a quick success.

First I took everything out of my baking cabinet. I threw out a couple of items and some others I consolidated.

Then I wiped the shelves with a warm sudsy cloth. To line the shelves I found some pretty craft paper and scotch taped it in.

At the end I reorganized the contents so that the most used items are now on the lower shelf. That lazy susan spins nicely now which was my major goal and the raisins are in front of the oatmeal On the lower more reachable shelf. (Oatmeal lover that I am)

Happy New Year’s Eve, a great day for a clean out. I will be looking for other fun and rewardingly quick clean outs as I plow ahead into this new year.

Organizing on day 59 of 172 of giving up sweets

I must admit that I am a cleaner outer. I’m always cleaning something out.

It’s really because at my heart I’m a messy person. Unfortunately.

Recently I cleaned out drawers in my kitchen and next I plan to clean out my baking ingredients cupboard because the lazy Susan I keep my spices in is not spinning around right. Like most messy areas of my home I find that there end up being things that are “misfiled”. Everything is a filing system, be it clothes, dishes, garage items, or baking spices. Not everything has to be perfectly orderly but small areas like my baking cabinet can get out of control and so need to be rethought. I like making things work smoothly and efficiently.

Like my mom always said, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

The new year makes me conscious of the need to make my life more orderly. What things used to work smoothly but are needing rethinking? What needs to be made right? What things do I wish I would just go ahead and bravely do?

I feel that in my past I always had weight loss or eat better on the top of my list. Well, since I’m already doing those things on my 172 day plan, that leaves me room to move some other plans and goals up to the top of my list.

Recently I heard someone give advice not to share your goals because if you do you will have expended some important emotional energy on the sharing of the goals and that it will pull that surge of energy push needed to get you going on the goal. I don’t know if that’s right or not.

So, just in case, I will not share my goals; but what I will share is my accomplishments as I simplify and minimize all I can. And, furthermore, I plan to take inventory of my talents and abilities to see if I am best applying the gifts I have.

So in this new year I will share

  • Simplifying my life,
  • my sweets challenge,
  • my paintings in progress,
  • poetry and other writings,
  • experiences homeschooling my daughter as we begin the process of getting her ready to take the SAT.
  • And, of course information pertaining to visiting my husband in assisted living and the application for veteran’s benefits.
  • That’s a lot… but it’s what I’m doing
  • Morning Star Meeting on day 58 of 172 of giving up sweets

    I’m enjoying bringing my “painting people” here to life. The process has involved many layers of paint. Since I brought these folks together from a few different photos I’ve had to figure out how they’d be sitting on this couch together. I have some problems to sort out like the woman on the far left needs to scoot back and sit farther in… or I need to make her appear to be perched a little better on the cushion’s edge. Expressions are coming along as I dabble paint here and there – what a way to do it, huh? I just keep putting more shadow, color, rosey up this and put a wrinkle there until I start seeing the person.

    My husband is beginning to look like himself – but it’s like one of those creepy pictures that looks like the person is staring at you.

    I have the painting propped so I can see it during the day as I always do when I’m working on a painting so that I can figure out what it needs. I had painted more detail in the background but then decided it needed toning down. There was a Christmas wreath and some branches that could be seen through the windows from the beautiful backyard trees that are actually there but they were interfering with the main idea of the painting. So after I painted them in, I painted them out. It is a work in progress. I am using acrylic paints so you can block out easily and paint over.

    I keep my paint palette tightly sealed so that it won’t dry out so I can just work on a painting any time and it doesn’t take a whole lot of setup.

    Preparing to Paint on day 57 of 172 of giving up sweets

    My beginning painting process doesn’t always include doing a sketch ahead of time. But since I am portraying people and placement and expressions I decided I’d best try it out. After the initial sketch, I decided a little different placement was needed to allow the woman on the far left a little more room since she is animatedly clasping her hands together. Her portrait was initially what I planned to paint because she seemed enraptured by the pianist serenading her with Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” at the Morning Star Memory Care Christmas party.

    Considering the painting’s composition, the anchor on the left will be the serenaded woman. It is important in the painting placement because the woman on the far right is wearing a bright red jacket making that end heavy. In the middle I am wanting to capture the expressions in the sitting styles of those two people and when I begin layering paint I can give all of them life. I always learn something when I paint because I am forced to study a subject. Something as simple as sitting style became an interesting study. I’m no body language expert but I believe people communicate who they are without talking. Two of these people have lost their ability to talk, and even though they are all in various levels of dementia, they are all still bodily communicating. They are probably sitting the way they always have which I am guessing because I captured my husband sitting the way he always has.

    I’m looking forward to painting this one.

    Beginning rough charcoal sketch for a painting of some residents at Morningstar Memory Care

    Sketching on day 56 of 172 of no sweets

    As a painter, I don’t do people generally. So, this will be a challenge. I so want to get the expressions right. Third from the left is my husband and problem is right now it doesn’t look at all like him which is kind of strange because the others have more of a resemblance to the actual people than my husband. You’d think I could paint him. I’ll be working on it. I think I will do it in oils on canvas. I can’t wait to dive into my oil paints.

    As I worked on the preliminary sketches I was thinking of those special people there. Like my husband, they once lived a full life on the outside but now are being protected and every need cared for. I pieced them together as if they were sitting together on the couch.

    Maybe I’ll paint and post my progress.

    Wine bag I painted. Gnome Winers is a fictional, of course, forest gnome winery.

    Gnome winers on Day 55 of 172 of giving up sweets

    • No whining.
    • No being sad that I can’t have any.
      No saying no but wishing it could be yes.
      No double minded ways.
      Yes being glad to be free from addiction.
      Yes not being consumed by something.
      Yes to healthy eating.

    Yesterday, because it was Christmas, I tried to test myself by planning ahead to eat just a tiny sliver of cake but it didn’t taste good when I took only a tiny nibble. Have I gotten incredibly picky? I enjoyed the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts I roasted as part of our Christmas dinner. Fact is the cake was just way too sweet.

    As the 55 days have passed by, I’ve considered many times switching to non whole grain breads and pasta. Reason why? Research is telling me that there are foods and drink that go quickly to sugar in your body. Here is the list I’ve made thus far. Of course sweets is still on the top.


    GIVING UP SWEETS LIST

    Sweets with sugar

    Sweets with artificial sugar

    Juice

    Sodas with sugar

    White bread

    White pasta


    A Gift on this Merry Christmas!

    The star above the manger cradle was studied scientifically and followed faithfully by wise men to witness the greatest Star of all.

    Fittingly, the story starts with fruit on a tree… and sliced “the opposite way” will find a star at its core.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!

    In the Texas hill country, snow is usually nonexistent and that’s the way I like it having moved from Colorado, my snowy home for 20 years. I don’t miss driving in it or shoveling it or slipping down on it.

    But I do miss the tranquility of large flakes flitting, blanketing neighborhoods in cool blues. Then there’s that Gilmore Girl breathable cold sweetness right before a snow. Or red cheeked returning sledders, huddling hot chocolate.

    So I wanted to try painting snow. Oh what fun on a sunny 70 degree Texas day.

    Merry Christmas Eve from the Texas Hill Country!!!

    Christmas, the “sweetest” time in memory of old.

    Angel I painted on a 4″ canvas sitting on a table with sunlight filtering through

    Christmas on day 52 of 172 of Giving up sweets

    Though the melody sings for all to hear “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, Christmas time can be the loneliest.

    Recently we were eating at Cracker Barrel, a homey chain restaurant with an enormous wood fireplace serving southern home cooking and a large gift shop selling nostalgic toys and gift items. As we were, my daughter and I, sitting and chatting, I notice a man eating by himself and am reminded of the loneliness many people face. No wonder a person would pick a homey place like Cracker Barrel to have a lone meal.

    But then I notice another table with an elderly couple who seem to be having a sad conversation and she has her hands in his. And, yet another family has four little children all zapped into their electronics. Then there are a couple of good-looking cowboys with their hats on talking on their cellular phones.

    And I am glad that my daughter and I instituted a no cell phones dining practice.

    What I look forward to the most on Christmas is spending it with our family and friends who we love all year long. We will attend a candlelight Christmas Eve service at our church to sing Christmas carols and remember the Spirit of Christmas. And then on Christmas Day we will celebrate with gifts and a Happy Birthday to Jesus cake, a tradition my mother started.

    And then we will take my husband a slice of that cake to where he now resides at Morning Star Memory Care since he hasn’t forgotten he likes cake. And there we will light the candle on top and sing with him Happy Birthday to Jesus as we do every year.

    And I plan to partake in a small sliver.

    Merry Christmas!

    May all the wishings of Merry Christmas ring the good news of Christ “who came to seek and to save those who are lost”. Luke 19:10

    Electronic Fire and Morning Star on Day 51 of giving up sweets

    Keeping the home fires burning is always on my mind. And if I don’t stoke the fire, who’s going to? (Admitting here I don’t have a fireplace). So what is better than pulling out a technology fire that also plays Michael Bublè Christmas. On YouTube there are lots of fireplace scenes to choose from to crackle and “warm up” a space. I also like to set it up on my smart TV.

    So by my “fire” I baked cookies (and Not eating them) for the Morning Star Memory Care Christmas party. My Husband was quite unwell and wanted to be tucked into his bed so we left early. A memorable moment was the pianist singing Patsy Cline “Crazy” to this sweet resident who deeply enjoyed the serenade. Music reaches people.

    Day 50 of 172 of giving up sweets

    Day 50 is nearly a third of the way through my giving up sweets challenge and I am glad I have done it. What a gift I give myself each day as I pass by whatever treat of the moment might sparkle a little extra this holiday season. But, it doesn’t sparkle anything near the joy of not partaking in it.

    And, if I weren’t in the throes of the 172 day challenge I’d probably be eating chocolate cake right now as I feel sorry for myself with back pain that has got me. I went to the chiropractor yesterday and he did an adjustment. It’s better, but I’m still having spasms in my middle back. And, he’s away now for a Christmas break. The first available appointment just in case I need it is January 8. So I booked it. I felt bad for doing that because I wanted to just go on faith that this spasm would leave me way long before then and no follow up needed. But the receptionist convinced me otherwise.

    There was no fall or injury I can think of. But I did carry a heavy bed frame down the stairs. I don’t remember injuring it then. However, I was at my wits end trying to take that metal bed apart. The screws were stripping and they were round so no wrench could pry those screws loose enough to twist them out. I was on the floor contorted (aha! That’s when it happened!) trying to hacksaw across the screw heads to allow me to us a flathead screwdriver. A friend’s husband suggested that. I couldn’t get all the screws out but I was able to disassemble it enough to carry it, with help from my daughter, downstairs.

    It was me vs those stripped screws that now has me in agony. And, I want to blame it on those cheap soft aluminum screws. They left nice piles of shavings on the floor.

    So, wind knocked out of me, sitting against my heating pad I pop some Alleve and listen to Josh Groban work up majesty and excitement in Christmas carols. “O Come Let Us Adore Him!” And for a moment the pain leaves.

    My Best Friend on day 49 of 172 of giving up sweets

    My oldest daughter puts my grandchildren on FaceTime to talk with me, aka Mamaw, so she can get dinner cooked. So, we are all entertained with whatever we get into together. The cutest thing is when my toddler granddaughter carries me around and my viewpoint is her forehead or her chubby cheeks and front of her shirt as she walks around with me in her hands. My favorite so far is she with her sippy cup and I with my water bottle drinking together and saying AHHH after each in between fits of giggles.

    My best friend and I scheduled a FaceTime to open our gifts we mailed to each other together. My favorite part of our best friend’s FaceTime gift exchange was getting a tour of her house where she and her husband looked every bit Mr. and Mrs. Claus with their heartfelt gifts, preparations for a trip to visit grandchildren, and their beautiful decorations.

    Before our call I was trying to remember how long we had been friends. We met in high school 38 years ago and she was a year ahead of me. She taught me to drive, how to dress, and how to put on makeup. But, what she has mostly taught me is how to stay in touch with a friend and make them feel special. She has always been the leader in that and I am so thankful.

    Merry Christmas, Valerie!

    I love you so much!

    Your BFF, Julie

    My viewpoint from most FaceTimes with my granddaughter

    Gold Coated Dessert Videos on day 48 of 172 of Giving up sweets

    We like to watch Buzzfeed’s “Worth It”. It’s where these guys go to three different restaurants and eat and compare expensive and inexpensive foods. Usually they like the less expensive versions.

    Them biting into a gold covered donut made me cringe. But they said that it melted away in their mouth.

    The guys are just a riot.

    I mention watching the show because I thought it an interesting test as to how I might feel watching the sweet stuff since I am giving up sweets. And you know I didn’t even want any.

    But, I can imagine myself now rationally enjoying a sweet treat after my 172 days are up. And, I’ve mentioned it before: I will be on the search at that time for the perfect chocolate cake.

    But, no, I didn’t even want any, and I didn’t even want any when I made my gingerbread manger scene. And let me tell you, I had no idea that these jelly beans were so strange. Had to read on the bag… there were buttery popcorn flavored jelly beans in there. Yuck. They ruined the whole bag. Usually when I make a gingerbread house I am eating loads of candy and frosting.

    In order to get my manger roof to stay up I had to cut holes and support with candy canes. Problem was I cut the holes a little large so the holes around the candy canes had to be reinforced with lots of frosting. This is my first gingerbread manger scene. I used the wall cutout from our usual houses and cut two walls and glued them together with frosting. The hay is shredded wheat cereal. On top is my attempt at an angel.

    Below, here is my daughter’s gingerbread house.

    She cut the tree out and then cut the triangle middle out and cleverly put peppermints in and baked in the oven (on parchment paper). Last year we left out the parchment paper and couldn’t peel our candy windows off the cookie sheets. I think the little gingerbread boy looks like he’s ready to go out and play in the snow.

    Feverishly pounding the keys on day 47 of 172 giving up sweets

    I had a latte yesterday and the foam swirled a little birdlike so of course I helped give it a few feathers. This has nothing to do with my topic today but it was so cute I wanted to share.

    So pardon me while I turn my gears…

    REMINISCING WRITING

    I learned to type in high school on the old style typewriter with keys which must be struck hard unlike the soft touch of today’s iPad or computer keyboard. Our hands were up at carpal tunnel level before anyone knew the damage it could cause. Today I get numbness in my fingers if I do any task too long like crochet which I like to do. But if I keep my keyboard low enough I can type for hours.

    Which is good because presently I’m feverishly typing my Art of Caregiving that I had in my laptop before it went blue screen. Fortunately I had printed stacks of paper so I didn’t lose my work. And I like the process of reinventing my writing while retyping it. It’s forced editing.

    I like the sound of my fingers hitting the iPad keyboard. Sounds like rain to me. My favorite sound though had to be the IBM selectric. Oh the clickety clicks. I did college before computers. What a shame. I want a do over on that one!!! But Who knew the wonders of word processing at that time. We were our own word processors.

    I do type fast. Where were those auto edits long ago when we typists had to be painstakingly perfect?

    WORD/INFORMATION PROCESSING

    So much of life changes with invention and discovery and of course for my blog right now I have researched giving up sugar. Make sure to look up Dr Robert Lustig on YouTube if you still think “a calorie is a calorie”.

    We should be our own information processors. We have a wealth of information in our hands.

    This is my 47th day of giving up sweets and I am my own scientific experiment. Yes. It can be done!!! Oh and were you wondering about the latte? Non sweet with no artificial sweeteners either. I never had to give that up because I prefer a non sweet coffee.

    What’s the Cost? To give up sweets on day 46 of 172

    Doesn’t the world selling addictive food use the word crave. I’ve seen “obey your thirst” and the ideas of overconsumption used as cute little advertising gimmicks like “the fourth meal”. But, I want to sell you an idea:

    Lose your crave.

    But, before we buy into something, don’t we weigh the cost/benefit?

    That’s what I want to do with you now. What are the costs? What benefits are there? Of course… I will tell you there are both. But I’ve got good news, of course, that’s it is really really

    Really… worth it!

    What would any of us pay to lose the out of control craving for (Anything… including sweets?) … the out of control desire that keeps us down, drugged, overweight, and unhealthy. Eating or using anything in a way that is self destructive is the very definition of insanity. So, I guess you might say I’m a recovering insane person? (Me laughing, not insanely)

    Ok, so I am going to weigh the cost of giving it up:

    • “Naysayers” will in the smallest ways make fun of you and belittle your efforts, try to sabotage you, will not support you, and will be unable to understand, really, what you are doing! They really wish they could do the same but don’t believe they can. They may even be jealous of your efforts or success. How is that a cost? Well, it is a lot easier to go along with what everyone else thinks. It’s a lot harder to step outside of that and do something you know is right. It can be downright isolating. I think at some point the benefit that you find friends who actually care about you and maybe just perhaps you pull some people out of the mire of addiction as well. So, naysayers watch out!
    • Cravings, sometimes severe, mostly at the beginning. This only seems like a really big cost at the time! TRUST ME!
    • You have to find a plan which is a little difficult and stick to it, and ok… YES that is difficult. But, it will become your new way after all and will not take much effort to continue along in the process, the new strategy becomes your life
    • Effort – Saying no gets easier as you go
    • Weight loss. But maybe not right away. I am attempting NOT to concentrate on the weight loss (not that it is not needed) – it can be a trap because if you aren’t losing or are not losing at a rate you imagined when you gave up sweets and flipped out your calendar and pictured. your bikini bod on the beach in the summer… You know what I mean.
    • INCREASED energy. This is amazing. BUT only after the beginning few days of all out tiredness and you don’t have your DRUG OF CHOICE!
    • Clearer thinking. YES! This might be the best one of all.

    OK so let’s weigh that against the opposing viewpoint which might be as follows:

    “I know I have a problem but I don’t think I can do it. Am I right?”

    Don’t wait to start. Start today. Though it’s the Christmas season and sweets sit calling your name… Go back and read my posts. I’ve been posting each day for the past 46 days! So, then, you will get new sweeter friends that understand and will support you in your effort.

    Sweets Teetotaling Rehab on day 45 of 172 days of giving up sweets

    I found this cool countdown app “Countdown Star” for my IPHONE! I think the background looks like sugar! How appropriate!

    Ok, so first order of business here… I have to say a big whoops! I made an addition mistake – it’s not 210 days I’m giving up sweets. It’s 38 days fewer! I’m 45 days into a total of 172 days. I feel a little relieved by that mainly because I have planned to blog each day about the giving up sweets and then I am going to publish a do it yourself book to help people be able to get started… and stick with it.

    Now, I’ll explain about where I get this teetotaling from…

    Teetotalism pertains to people who make a lifestyle of giving up alcoholic beverages completely. And, I don’t subscribe to it for myself for alcohol. But that’s because I can drink a glass of wine but I don’t really care about drinking too much. I don’t have a problem with alcohol. I don’t crave it. Once I accidentally got drunk in a restaurant when I was 18 and newly married where everyone knew I wasn’t a drinker and they kept pouring their champagne in my glass. I had never had any alcohol before that and I weighed probably 120 pounds so I got drunk pretty quick and started crying in the middle of the restaurant because I couldn’t feel my face. It was really scary. You might say, I was scared straight from that time on. I have never wanted to be drunk again. I keep an unopened bottle of wine in the cabinet because sometimes I might like to serve it with a meal for guests. But, I haven’t ever craved alcohol. Come to think of it I haven’t craved anything except sweets.

    So, for sweets, I have adopted the teetotaling philosophy but just for a period of time. II think teetotalism is the only way to go with sweets until the addiction cycle is broken.

    Then after that I will move on to my second phase which is eating sweets sometimes, seldom, or for a special event (defined as not more than once a week and just only a serving).


    So I’m presently a sweets teetotaler.


    Why is it that so many people think they can get over an addiction to sweets by still eating sweets? I just bought a little magazine at the grocery store by Prevention Guide entitled “The Sugar Smart Diet, Sugar Detox Made Easy.” On the front cover is an apple pie with “Cure Your Cravings” in bold letters next to the pie. And inside the magazine there is lots of really good information for people like me who need to sugar detox. But, also, there are pages of pictures of sweets and recipes that make you think you can make them and still feed your sweets desire AND detox off the sweet cravings. That mess no sense!

    My own sweet addicted life attests that curing cravings cannot happen while still eating sweets even if it’s low sugar or baked with fake sugar.

    It has to be TOTALLY given up for a time. I’m doing 172 days. Don’t people go to drug rehab for 60 days? So, I’m over doing it for effect. So, you’d think by day 172 in my “sugar rehab” of sorts that I could kick that habit as well as the addiction, right!?

    The Spirit helps us in our weakness. Romans 8:2!

    NO WHINERS – Part 4 of 10 of How I do it – on day 44 of 210 of giving up sweets

    A little dab of plums or applesauce on the end of the spoon would get my babies to eat their green beans. They would all out gag on them otherwise. And, my toddlers, at the height of willfulness, would go hungry rather than eat something they didn’t want.

    I would cook really nice dinners for my family and as my children got to school age they’d come in and complain about it. So, I instituted a “stand in the corner” rule for the offense of: complaining, asking what it was with intent to express dissatisfaction, crying, groaning, face-palming, or sighing heavily. The requirement was to try it but not eat the whole thing if they didn’t like it. And, it had to be a bite, not just some little lick.

    It wasn’t good for any of us to come to the table like that. It wasn’t good for their development to think they could rule the roost on what I was making for dinner as well as create a fuss filled dinner time. But, it wasn’t easy for any of us for them to be in their separate corners and I ate alone. They figured it out really quick that I meant business. So, although they tell me they can still smell the wallpaper, I think we only did it a couple times. And, that made mealtime a nice place to be. I remember one of them saying that somebody’s mom makes them take a “no thank you” bite. I like that very much. Do you know, they learned to like the things I cooked that way. And, as well, they learned an important lesson: don’t mess with mom.

    Raising children as a single parent… ouch!

    Raising myself, even harder!

    Aren’t we always raising ourselves? If there is something out of balance in our life – like (all kinds of too many to list things we do that aren’t so good for ourselves) and of course I add to that for many of us: eating too many sweets…

    We must figure out a way to stop the whining that we can’t or don’t want to do it and stand ourselves in that proverbial corner.

    SATIETY!- Part 3 of 10 of How I Give up Sweets on day 43 of 210 of Giving up Sweets

    Today I will talk about the one key ingredient to giving up sweets, and that is #3 of 10 ways I’m giving up sweets for 210 days.

    SATIETY!

    My appetite has diminished although I still get hungry. I just don’t get ravenous. Desires and cravings have gone away. More than the craving for sweets has gone away. For instance, those old cravings for fast food have mostly subsided and I’m wanting to prepare more delicious meals at home.

    When faced with too large a serving at a restaurant, I have no problem pushing it away when I’m pleasantly full. And, at home I don’t usually snack between meals. It’s not that I’m against the snacking. If I ever do, I am sure to reach for a Babybel cheese circle or some nuts.

    Very Seldom do I Desire Sweets.

    Besides blogging about it, I’m not consumed by thoughts of not being able to eat sweets. I don’t feel sorry for myself that I don’t get those Christmas cookies or that dessert that everyone’s having in front of me.

    Instead I have found the pleasantness of NOT eating the sweet stuff.

    It is safe to say that I have calmed down immensely my “sugar monster”. Click here to get acquainted…if you dare!