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!