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!

    SET A GOAL – Part 2 of 10 of How I Give up Sweets on day 43 of 210 of Giving up Sweets

    A right goal is a great gift!

    Yesterday’s “how-to” was: “Thought Control”.

    Today’s “how-to” is #2 of 10 ways to give up sweets: “Set an achievable goal”

    ASK YOURSELF: “WHAT IS MY GOAL?”

    A sweet addiction is complicated, and that is why going off of it must include a well designed goal that solves the problem. There’s nothing else like a sweet addiction because there is so much wrapped up in being alone with a chocolate cake. Right?

    What goal do we all jump to? Weight loss. Of course, losing weight probably is a need as well as a desire for the sweets challenged person. But, it’s best not to have weight loss as a goal AT ALL because the giving up sweets needs to be the primary focus. And, perhaps the giving up sweets is all that is needed to reaching a desired weight loss.

    I will tell you, though, that weight loss is happening for me… and I’m not even working at it beyond giving up the sweets. I’m over 11 pounds down in these 43 days!

    So, OF COURSE the goal needs to be to either:

    • eat fewer sweets,
    • or never binge on sweets,
    • or stop eating sweets for a period of time,
    • or never eat sweets again for the rest of your life (what! Scream heard trailing off into the distance)

    Here is what my goal is:

    STOP EATING SWEETS FOR 210 DAYS.

    Your goal could be:


    STOP EATING SWEETS FOR _______ SECONDS/MINUTES/HOURS/DAYS/MONTHS/YEARS… (ok, maybe not years!)

    Now whatever you put in that blank is an achievable goal.


    ASK YOURSELF: “IS MY GOAL ACHIEVABLE… FOR ME?”

    Of course, you all know by now if you’ve been reading my blog (at least for the past 43 days… that I set a 210 days without sweets goal. Here are some questions that might help you to ask yourself:

    1. Instead of asking, should I... and instead of asking is it possible

    Ask: Is it possible for me. Is it possible for me to go a particular time without sweets…

    With my particular time I chose… 210 days… I had to say YES! because I once went much longer than that without eating sweets, so I know it’s possible for me.

    2. Will I be able to keep it up?

    It was a quirky thing to do with a strange enjoyment factor for me – the 210 days is the time from Halloween to Easter: “The Season of Sweeting”. I think if a goal is possible to attain there must be some enjoyment factor to be able to keep you doing it. I think the fact that so many people are astounded that I do it makes me want to do it. To have someone tell me they don’t think they can do it strangely makes me want to continue. Why is that? I do like to go against the grain, artistically, it’s my personality.

    3. Do I have a plans in place to achieve my goal?

    My first plan was to binge out on that Halloween candy (click to read the Halloween post where I made that decision here) and then to test myself I left the remaining candy in the bowl right where I had binged out on it, right by the front door where I was handing out the candy to trick-o-treaters. It was like a “crime scene”. If I’d have thought about it at the time I’d have gotten some crime scene tape and made it such. But, it was enough of a memory of that crime that I had involved myself in – on purpose- right before I knew I’d be giving up the sweets – BUT it just about killed me. – I was so sick from having done that! (NOT RECOMMENDING THIS!!!)

    The second plan was… so very simple!

    Don’t eat anything hereafter defined as sweets. candy, cake, cookies, cobbler, sweet soda or tea or coffee, dessert, pie. But, I don’t go crazy on the other foods like ketchup or spaghetti sauce… or bread or potatoes or pasta ..or fruit… I deferred that to a later decision. ALSO, I made the decision, since I was quitting sweets not to eat sweets that contain fake sugar. I was worried that might feed my addiction.

    Quite simply, I’m giving up my binge worthy food. Which is sweets.

    Part 1 of 10 of How I Give up Sweets on day 42 of 210 of Giving up Sweets

    BECAUSE IT’S…..NOT!… ALL ABOUT EXERCISING SELF CONTROL,

    for the next ten days, I plan to give to you the ten ways I give up sweets that are not simply exercising a flabby muscular will.

    So here goes – #1 of 10 ways I give up sweets:

    Thought Control

    Giving up sweets means learning the truth and debunking the lies. Lies like:

    “There are starving people in the world, so hungry or not you must eat.”

    “Life is short, eat dessert first.”

    “I need chocolate because I have pms, a fight with my mom, a bad day at work….”

    “A calorie is a calorie.”

    “You might as well eat the whole thing.”

    “I can just burn it off by exercising.”

    “This _____ will make me feel better.”

    “I deserve it.”

    “On Monday I will start my diet.”

    “I have no willpower, It’s because ______ made me this way.”

    A right mindset based on truth has to be formed again and again towards food. And doing that takes answering back truth. This goes deep to the heart of the problem. The mind is a powerful place for truth to dwell. But, it can be riddled with lies from a lifetime of experiences surrounding food that are based in emotion.


    But, how to get that truthful mindset? I use the “holding thoughts captive” method from II Corinthians 2:5. Here’s how I do it: I imagine the little thoughts under a bright light in a jar. Of course they can’t hold up to scrutiny if they are in error and then I reword the thoughts into what the truth is about the matter. It’s such a cool visual artistic way to do this.


    With giving up sweets I have found it important to rethink a saying we all usually only giggle about:

    “LIFE IS SHORT, EAT DESSERT FIRST”

    This statement assumes you like dessert better than dinner. Maybe that isn’t always true. If you are off sweets or even eating sweets in small portions as a sometimes food you are calmed down enough to enjoy them in the smaller quantities.

    Maybe your life could be shortened by eating too many sweets.

    Perhaps you would be healthier and feel better if you ate fewer sweets.

    Maybe there are decades of your life left so if you start now, you’d never eat dessert first.

    Perhaps dessert is better enjoyed in a few bites at the end of a meal.

    And a little further, is dessert better enjoyed when NOT hungry.

    Perhaps the meal itself which can be quite yummy is better enjoyed without eating the dessert first.

    So, the truth for me is: Put dessert in it’s place, at the end of the meal but only as a sometimes treat and only after my 210 day no sweets challenge is up. This is a radical shift in my thinking.

    The thought control muscle needs exercise. The more it is applied the stronger it gets. But do we think of overeating as a problem solved in the thought process?

    Tomorrow I will share #2 of the ten ways I am giving up sweets.

    JOIN THE CHALLENGE! For those of you thinking about doing it, jump in with two feet. Just stop eating sweets for five minutes and lengthen the time from there. Watch your thought cues that will lead you to the truth. There are lies you’ve been telling yourself keeping you where you are: an unhealthier version of yourself than you wish to be.

    You will be glad you did!

    I will divulge to you the best way to cook a quick meal that is delicious and nutritious. You can cook it for any number of people from one on up…

    Now that is sweet with no need for a dessert!

    ROAST CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES

    I use boneless breasts normally but have done it either way.

    Here’s the way I did it last night:

    In your roasting pan place the chicken in the middle like they are the castle.

    And then surround the castle with a moat of:

    • Potatoes, any kind (cut up, not peeled). I like to use sweet potatoes or those little round purple and white ones because they look so festive.
    • Carrots, cut up – peel if you care about having peeled carrots. (I don’t always put the carrots.)
    • Brussels sprouts*, quartered
    • Onion (yellow or white)

    Drizzle with olive oil and stir around to make sure to get those veggies a good coat.

    Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning

    Roast, uncovered, at 375 for 30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and the veggies are fork tender.

    Prep time is about ten minutes. And, it’s more delicious than anything you will find out to dine. Really. And, it’s always good!

    Let me know if you plan to try it!

    The bottom of the roasting pan has some nice juices which I pour over the chicken when serving but next time I may even whip up a nice gravy out of those crusty flavorful drippings. To do that all’s you have to do is add a little flour and milk. But, the clear juices are really tasty and take no work.

    Since I sometimes think I must be a real chef, I will even slice the chicken and pour the juice over it and surround the plate with the vegetables.

    I’ve found that you can cute it up and feed even the pickiest eater.

    The sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts look so festive. It smells so nice cooking and it serves up real nice looking. And, besides the knife and cutting board, the cleanup only requires the washing of the roasting pan, plates and forks. That chicken’s so tender so no knife needed.

    *When I was a kid my family served boiled Brussels sprouts (as well as okra) and I sure didn’t like them even though my mom would say they were so cute, like little cabbages. But, the roasting makes them just delightful. Try it!

    Cinnamon rolls – top – rose for the amount of time in the recipe – and below – rose for a lot longer because I got busy doing something else… So, moral to the story – let ‘em rise!

    Cinnamon Rolls on day 40 of 210 of Giving up Sweets

    I made homemade cinnamon rolls for a family gathering recently and I just threw the remainder out. (Before 40 days ago I would have made sure to eat out the gooey middles first, at least!)

    No, I didn’t eat them nor did I want any. I made them a couple of weeks ago as well for a church potluck and they vanished. A man came to tell me he liked them better than Whataburger. My family just loved them. So, therefore, I didn’t need to try any to know they were good.

    Well, they aren’t chocolate cake.

    Sometimes, like yesterday, I have difficult moments.

    But, don’t get me wrong, this is much easier than dieting. And, today I had a good friend tell me she could tell I was losing weight. I haven’t wanted to make a big deal of it, but I’ve taken off about ten pounds so far.

    And, at the beginning because I was just so focused on the giving up sweets challenge, I didn’t want to put any focus on losing weight. But, now that I am losing, that makes me want to lose as much as I can to get out of the “obese” weight range. I have 20 pounds to go to get to the simply “overweight” category and then 30 more if I want to just be normal weight. But who likes “normal”? I just hate the word normal, but I am quoting the BMI calculator I just put my height and weight into. Again, I hope I don’t get off track from my most important expedition which is:

    STOPPING THE INSANE SWEETS ADDICTION!

    But I can’t help but imagine just how nice it would be to carry around a little less baggage. I wonder if at the rate I’m losing – 10 pounds in 40 days – if by day 210 I might just achieve the goal without any dieting! Just giving up the sweets.

    Isn’t it so cool that the length of time (210 days) that I chose because it is the “season of sweeting” as I so named it… because it’s Halloween to Easter where sweets abound, multiplies out perfectly for the weight loss I need to drop.

    Nothing’s an accident.

    Sad and Frantic on Day 39 of 210 of no sweets

    Can you believe that here on day 39 I had a fleeting desire to eat sweets that started with a sadness that seized me and demanded I make an exception for it with any kind of sweet I could lay my hands on

    I felt momentarily hugely FRANTIC about it. But why?

    And, it is an unusual thing to happen to me quite like this, out of left field really. But, it happened nonetheless.

    Ok. So in all reality I think the whole experience lasted less than five minutes. However short a period of time, it was still a huge difficult torment that could have been much worse.

    It’s so much better, instead of stuffing it down under a bunch of chocolate, to experience the sadness.

    And, being sad can be endured. Thinking through it helps or perhaps calling a friend or even having a good cry is all that’s needed. And, I’ve never wanted to eat while crying. Funny that.

    And of course the best solution is sought through prayer because “The Lore is near to the broken-hearted….” Psalm 34:18

    Now, that is of course better than any chocolate cake.

    What have I learned today? That the problem of sugar addiction has no simple fix – even if you get to day 39.

    Because: There really is a sugar monster for a picture of him click here.)

    Sweets for the heart on day 38 of 210 of giving up sweets

    Gingerbread house in my kitchen.

    Oh, let the tears roll!!!

    First of all, have you heard of the “hearties” – those who watched “When Calls The Heart” – What a big deal that show was that I just finished binge watching.

    I could barely watch the last episode without blubbering. Good thing my daughter went to a basketball game with some friends so I could sit here with my Kleenex and embarrassingly ball along with this series on Amazon Prime. A friend of mine suggested it so strongly and so mostly I stayed with all of the five seasons because of her. It was a sweet show, but too sweet at times, sooo predictable, but… at the end they got me! I was surprised at how I had gotten used to those characters like they were my close friends. For awhile, I think I was living in Hope Valley – the fictional town where people love each other and pull together during good and bad. Anyhow, if you watch it, remember I said it was really good, but then, it was sorta bad. I had to write this poem after I couldn’t stop crying, I know! So embarrassing!

    Of course, I had to weave in my “give up sweets” since it’s what I’m all about right now.

    Sweet Salve

    Can a hurting heart

    Be tended with sweets,

    Ably mended with marshmallow treats,

    Cuddled by cupcake or chocolate, in heaps?

    Time’s the tender touch it’s needing,

    A messy healing, flowing, bleeding,

    No sweet salve but only grieving.

    It’s bittersweet, without the eating.

    ~Julie Robinson

    By the way! In yesterday’s post, (scroll down to see) I added a picture of myself with my container of Quaker Oat Meal. I about cracked myself up… I think I’m beginning to look a little like him! Vote in the comments if you agree.

    Let’s play ball on day 37 of 210 of no sweets

    Me and Mr Quaker

    Steel cut vs rolled oats

    Sounds like a football match! Well, it is!

    Yes. And I unashamedly suit up for I the

    ROLLED OATS

    And it’s the old fashioned Quaker kind. No quick cooking. No little packets with flavors added. I add some kind of fruit and nuts and cinnamon. That’s it. Oh and no milk.


    I wrote a poem about them even! What!?


    But, I, lover of oatmeal this morning gave the steel cut a try because I’d thought maybe they’d be healthier.

    First off, what’s the difference?

    The rolled oats are creamy and the steel cut are kinda nutty/chewy.

    Are the steel cut healthier?

    Yes. But not by a lot. They foul out on mouth feel and texture when chewing. They take longer to cook and seem dry. The dreamy creamy rolled oats get the touchdown with me. They stay with me very well, sticking to my ribs. I will keep on cheering them on!

    Sweet Insanity of Day 36 of 210 of No Sweets

    Of all the addictive substances that hook people in by the promise of a better “now”, a temporary life changing good feeling, an escape, would you consider “sugar” as one. You might laugh at the prospect since you probably think of addictive substances as drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.

    Take a bag of Oreos.  How many does it take fill that sweet tooth?   Before you read any further, think about your favorite sweet food, how much does it take?  True, three Oreos are a serving.  But quite simply I would rather not eat any at all.  (The old me, 36 days ago anyhow).  If you only eat three Oreos and are satisfied then can we safely say that you are not an addict.  I’m no expert… but uh, yes. But for the rest of us, how many does it take?  I’ve eaten a lot of Oreos in a sitting just keeping dunking, staring into space, each one in a glass of milk – and I’ve been surprised how most of the bag would be empty.  And, I think, “Hey, they’re making these Oreo bags smaller!” or “Who’s eating my Oreos?” while looking over my shoulder to see whatever gremlin might be sneaking them.  The whole bag feeds twelve I notice as I’m waking up from the sugar induced temporary insanity.  What have I done!  It is SWEET INSANITY!

    First of all, let’s talk a little about insanity in view of:

    “What is a sound mind?”

    I have witnessed countless wills my husband prepared for his clients over the years.  And, he always asked the same questions of the persons attesting to their wills.   “Are you of sound mind?”   Even the most morose will signer would giggle a second over this standard question.

    We all hope to have our wits about us in our lives.

    So, in studying, trying to figure out where a sweet addiction comes from, I was trying to find the etymology of the word sound in the relation to a sane or “sound mind” in order to consider what that means regarding insanely eating sweets.

    No joking!  There is a sweet insanity!

    First, the word “sound” used in this way “sound mind” is also used in other similar ways:

    sound footing (financial),

    sound advice,

    sound judgment,

    sound decision,

    sound asleep.

    I’m sure you know more…

    Common element here:  a lack of defect.

    A cause of insanity, or the lack of a sound mind, can of course be a defect caused by illness or by unrealistic fear.  Or, by addiction.

    I tread carefully calling the cause of a sweets binge insanity, but it sure doesn’t seem to be the action that begins from a sound mind.  But, there is a fix for it, don’t worry!   I’m excited to announce that it is possible to make sound decisions regarding food as I am doing presently.  And, I hope, after I complete my 210 days off sweets to add it back in “soundly”.

    Come along with me, join me.  I won’t promise that it is easy.  But, that it is possible, I think, is the best news I can give!

    ………………..

    The Apostle Paul addresses this powerfully in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a strong mind.  …………………

    Helene Vaillant gives the best picture prompts for story writing challenges. I don’t always take them, but this one creatively sparked my writing enthusiasm! So today, I take a break from talking about giving up sweets… I hope you enjoy the beginning of a story that I hope to finish in another post.

    SAVING ALEX

    Earth had run off course recently and people were worried. Scientists warned of a possible collision with planets seemingly on the horizon.

    People on earth were either praying or preparing or both. Some said that underground bunkers would be the best protection from all of the intensities of such an occurrence. Janine wondered if no one really knew what was about to happen but that doing anything to prepare gave people hope.

    Janine Lawson packed out her car and was headed to a holdout bunker her brother had built underground on his West Texas ranch, a place he began preparing in 2001 after terrorism fears. She had taken a tour of it with him, it was like a small city underground.

    Friends and neighbors had already moved into their homes in the underground city, and they were first met with the sign as they descended the main elevator. It said simply, Hope, in two feet high gold letters suspended from the ceiling of the new town. But, not everyone could be convinced to go.

    With spotty cellular service while driving there, she was tearfully and frantically trying to convince her mother to come to Hope.

    And though they were only ten minutes away from their destination, she was forced to pull her car over for her little almost three year old boy, Alex, who had been hollering that he had to go to the bathroom. Recently potty trained he would NOT “just use his pull-up pants” as she had suggested a few times.

    We’re almost there!

    “Potty, potty!” He demanded and in any other occasions she’d be proud at the great success of her growing up little boy.

    But when he began crying the cry that every mother knows there’s no return from, she quickly spotted a post which would serve in this potty pinch.

    But, as soon as she set him down by the post, a great wind blew the dusty red Texas sand right into her eyes which she shut tight and as she was attempting to right herself, she could hear her mother’s voice in the cell phone she dropped, and dizzy from the initial onslaught, she bent over blindly trying to pick him up, wiping mascara across her sleeve, trying to see.

    Her arms couldn’t find him. And, she squinted her eyes in every direction, frantically running this way and that.

    What she didn’t know was that her little Alex had gone running back down the road to the light.

    The same light that beckoned him now completely blinded and disoriented her.

    It had all happened in less than five seconds.

    He was just out of reach as she lunged this way and ran that way. And he didn’t turn back for her voice trailed away with the wind.

    She stood, helplessly flailing, screaming his name.

    And then she fell to her knees.

    A Sweet Relationship on Day 35 of 210 of Giving up Sweets

    I once worked with a young lady who didn’t like sweets. She’d scrunch her nose up at them like they were boiled okra.

    It was a life changing event for me as I discovered this alien of a person, non-citizen of the sweet loving world. She was standing across a holiday sweets laden table from me and I was mesmerized by all the quantity and was pondering the quality making my heart race like a love affair and I was thinking what I’d do if I could be left alone in the room – well, me and the sweets, that was.

    And, she, no plate in hand, when offered by the hostess, spoke against my sweet nation:

    “I don’t really like sweets too much.”

    And, you know how people will push the sweets just like they do alcohol. The hostess had gotten insistent and the poor lady was then blushing while still trying to smile while pushing away the offer of the bewildered hostess. I couldn’t feel sorry for her at the time but I have never been able to forget what she said and the look on her face.

    Time stood still and my gaze zeroed in on her attempted grin to the hostess but was came off as a grimace and I’m just sure my own face reflected horror as my jaw dropped and my eyes widened. Mind you this was thirty-five years ago and look how my emotional reaction to it made me remember it in slow motion.

    She actually was really no alien but a sweet lady. I trained her before I left the employ due to a job transfer for my husband… and she sent me a thank you note.

    On this day 35 of giving up sweets I’m thinking alien thoughts too… but I think the possibility is nil that I would ever not like sweets.

    But do you think it’s possible for me to at least be a little ambivalent? Maybe, at least, I can enjoy it like other things I enjoy, be it fried chicken or mashed potatoes of which I only eat a serving, (albeit with gravy – but I am a Southern girl) but my heart doesn’t go pitter-pat over it. And,I don’t need to eat a whole bucket of fried chicken. But, I have felt like I could eat an entire cake. (I’ve never EATEN a whole cake! But, I have felt like I could.)

    At the end of my plan of 210 days I will not be in total abstinence any longer, but a kind of ambivalence is what I’d like to have come April when I’ve finished with this challenge.

    Think it’s possible?