Saturday, April 27, 2013

In the past two weeks, I've lost two good friends, have found out that two others will soon be gone and got the devastating news that my best friend since childhood, the person who has always been more like a sister to me than my own sisters, is dying. I can't talk about any of this in depth because it is still far too overwhelming but I can say that in the past two weeks, there have been many blessings, too. My cyber-bro, Gary, came through a very dangerous surgery, nearly died from complications afterwards but now, a week later, he is thriving and feels better and is in better health than he's been in years. I saw a photo of my dearest friend, Huston Jenkins, driving his tractor, mowing his fields. That is amazing not only because Huston just had his 89th birthday but because the past year and a half he has so many health problems from heart surgery that the doctors said he most likely wouldn't live through to a major stroke that they said he wouldn't recover from and then more surgery to repair a broken hip. Yet, he keeps going. He is such a strong person, such a wonderful man. It should be obvious why I love and respect him so much. Then today, a friend I've been concerned about for a long time, someone who has been through her own extreme trials over the last few years, called me. I've been trying to reach her forever but always got voice mail. It was a joy to hear her voice and despite the fact that so many of her problems are ongoing ones, to hear a lighter voice from her. Loss is so extremely hard but life is still good, it is still precious and if there is a lesson in grief, it is to embrace and hold precious every moment, every breath, every love and every joy. Be joyous my friends.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My First Photo Shoot

....with humans that is!

We couldn't have had more beautiful weather. The high was in the mid-sixties and the sunlight was beautiful even when we shot into the harsh afternoon hours. My regular shoots will be an hour in length but this first one was not only family, my lovely niece,Kesley and her guy, Lee, but I was also shooting for the first time at my friend's, Tammy and Chris Shipley's farm. There are so many great locations there. Some offer panoramic backdrops while others cradle the models in color and light. Then there are all sorts of built in props with the machinery, barns and of course, the horses. I will be putting up a website within the next few weeks along with scheduling and pricing information but for now, you can check out more of the days photos on my photography blog.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The caption on this photo read, "What do you think of the new fuller figured dress dummies?"

I question that this is considered "fuller figured" but I applaude having a normal looking mannequin. If all stores would go to this model, not only would women and young girls feel better about themselves and their bodies but real women might have a better idea how those clothes in the shop windows will look on them instead of pinned and tucked to fit a "Barbie doll."

Monday, April 15, 2013

You should drink at least three 8 oz glasses per day, they say the longer it sits, the better it tastes. You can eat them as well but they are intended as flavoring and still work, so that is a personal choice. The Vitamin C turns fat into fuel, the tangerine increases your sensitivity to insulin, and the cucumber makes you feel full. Try it for 10 days and see what you think!

Ingredients per 8 oz serving

1 slice grapefruit
1 tangerine
½ cucumber, sliced
2 peppermint leaves
Ice – as much as you like

Wash grapefruit, tangerine cucumber and peppermint leaves. Slice cucumber, grapefruit and tangerine (or peel). Combine all ingredients (fruits, vegetables, 8 oz water, and ice) into a large pitcher.

Stir & Enjoy!

I'm definitely trying this. I know I don't drink enough water. This would not only make it taste better but it's so pretty to look at!


What I'm trying to do. The hardest part is the sugar although I have given up artificial sweeteners and anything containing high fructose corn syrup. I'm now using palm sugar which tastes great (almost like maple syrup!) and has half the glycemic index of regular sugars.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New Venture

That's my handsome husband, Steve, serving as model on the banner for my new business venture.
Call me's not as if I don't already have a full plate creatively but I'm venturing into a new medium or at least a new direction with an old medium. Besides the equine art and photography, the sculpture I plan to get back to soon and the planned to do new mediums, jewelry and woodblock prints, I'm planning to start a new family photography business. I admit, as with any new avocation, I'm more than a little scared but my first shoot, scheduled for next week, will be with my sweet and beautiful niece, Kelsey and her handsome guy, Lee. I'm sure they will make excellent models, I trust them, and Kels and I are already brainstorming prop and outfit ideas. So, fingers crossed all will go well. I'll be putting up a new website as soon as I get enough photos for a portfolio. I've already set up a new Facebook page and blog (not much if anything posted on either of them for now but I will be adding lots of new stuff and info soon) for this new venture, that's the banner for each above. So, visit, like and follow if you will. It will certainly help encourage me and I'll soon be posting not only sample photos but scheduling and pricing information. Hope to be hearing from you all soon!
A little something different and just for your enjoyment since I don't offer this print for sale. I came across this shot yesterday and wanted to show off a bit of our beautiful Smoky Mountains. This was in 2010 and we'd had a severe draught that year otherwise those rocks would have been covered with water and the water would have been capping white. A few yards down river from where I was standing when I shot this, is usually, in years with normal rainfall, a big swimming hole where people, mainly kids, climb the rocks to leap Geronimo style into the deep pool below. On this day, you could easily wade across that spot; it was that shallow. There was a fisherman who'd traveled all the way from lower Georgia to fish there and he asked me, "Where is all of the water?" 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Unexpected Guest

It is too funny....On this most beautiful Spring day, I've been stuck inside working on the computer. I just got a reminder about what a gorgeous day it is though. I'm sitting here working, still in my pjs (as embarrassing as that is to admit), when I hear a faint knocking at my door. I think it's the back door and since all of my friends and neighbor's, who know me well enough to visit, also know to call first, I assumed it must be a salesman or someone else I don't want to talk to so I ignore it. Then there is more knocking, a pause, and more knocking. I'm becoming a bit alarmed by their persistence.  I start walking slowly toward the back door. On the way, I pass the front door and the sound starts again and I realize that it's that door not the back from which the noise is originating. I also realize that it is scratching not knocking. It sounds large but not as large as a dog, more like a cat. I don't own a cat any longer so I'm thinking it's a stray searching either for its old home or a new one. So, instead of opening the front door and facing a possible furry home invader rushing past me, I get dressed quickly and pull on my boots, go out the back door and walk around the house. At first, I didn't see it but then I asked, "What do you want?" Which made the squirrel, tapping on my front door, jump straight up in the air and scurry up the nearest tree. He never did explain why he was so urgently trying to get into my house!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weigh-in Day

Not my typical day. I started working on my website and Facebook pages before dawn and didn't stop until Steve came home at lunch. I didn't eat breakfast and when I weighed again, later in the morning, my weight had dropped by an entire pound! Yay! I know I shouldn't concentrate on the scale so much but the huge three pound leap threw me into an emotional spiral. My friend Gary, who is having cancer surgery today, my total hero because he is such a strong and spiritual man, and always wise, gave me some great advice today right before he headed into surgery! He said that he'd rather look at weight loss as a symptom. If you begin to eat healthier and exercise more, you will have many symptoms: happier, more energetic, just feel better, and weight loss. He said that I should think of it like that, one of many sypmtoms, and then maybe I will stop obsessing about it. Prayers for Gary today. I'm anxiously awaiting news on my friend. He is such an inspiration. He finds the strength to stare death in the face by loving life and living every single minute.

I lost another good friend on Monday. Ernie Denny was such a sweet guy. He too embraced life, knowledge, adventure. He was such an amazing friend. He constantly offered me his support and encouragement. He was an engineer, an author, and a bit of an explorer. He'd traveled all over the world and had so many amazing experiences but I think he would have told you that his greatest accomplishment, his biggest adventure was raising his two girls. He lost his precious Sam several years ago to cancer. His darling Haley is now in college and makes him proud ever day. Ernie was fit, worked out all of the time and was, to my eye, the picture of health. They think he had a heart attack in his sleep. That comforts me in some way because I know he had no idea what was happening. I'm sure when he opened his eyes, he saw his Sam waiting on him with open arms. He will be missed and my prayers are with the one who will miss him the most, Haley. I pray for her to find comfort because this has been such a devastating loss.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down....but evidently, not the scale! :(
It's not raining but it is a monday and I need HELP!!!! After a week of making radical changes to my diet and actually starting to exercise again after months of being sedentary, I've managed to gain over two pounds. What's up with that???? Any ideas, suggestions, encouragement, consolation are appreciated.

THE GOOD NEWS? Well, after a week on a probiotic and adding coconut oil to my diet, I have experienced my first pain free week in what seems like forever! I hope the coconut oil is not responsible for my weight gain. I don't think it is because it mainly just replaced other fat, some of which was not as healthy. 

Since I've been feeling so good, my brain has tried to convince me that I can eat foods which I know I can't. So far, I've managed to resist its persuasions but it is wonderful feeling as good as I did in my mid thirties when I was healthy, fit, slender and eating a healthy diet but still anything I in the occasional pizza or a biscuit with breakfast that tasted like a biscuit. Still, it is worth the sacrifice to be pain free and have more energy. Now, if my body could just catch up with the way I'm feeling. It would be wonderful to be as active and enthusiastic about life as I was twenty years ago.....and also to fit in those tiny clothes I use to wear. Patience is becoming my new mantra.

I've been discussing this problem with a few friends this morning and I realized something that I hadn't really admitted even to myself. It's just been since I started this diet that I realized how over weight I am. Somehow, the me in my head is a lot slimmer, more youthful and energetic than the person I avoid looking at in photos and mirrors. Crazy as it seems, I think I kept telling myself that something was wrong with those images because that wasn't really me. I think that facing up to the fact that I am over weight and I do need to lose a lot of weight has caused a lot of emotional turmoil for me. And since the weight gain started with my attempt to change my diet and lifestyle for the better a month ago (I've actually put on 15 pounds since the first of March!), I'm wondering if I'm not mentally sabotaging myself to fail. Silly to say that I'm scared but I am. I need to dig deep and figure out exactly what I've been trying to bury, to cover up with all of this weight. It certainly came on with other changes in my life. I think I need to look at that and still maintain the new healthy changes in my life but stop expecting them to produce the weight loss for now. I need to just be content with feeling better and more energetic. I keep telling myself, even if I don't lose the 13 pounds in 13 weeks, by the end of this challenge I will feel better and be healthier for the effort. I just pray I don't keep gaining! lol

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Powdered Buttermilk to the Rescue!

I really don't like most of the non-fat ranch dressings that are available on the grocery shelves. I haven't made my own because I don't drink milk...and certainly not buttermilk (I hate the stuff except in salad dressing. Once, when I was a kid, my mom served me a glass of it by mistake and I spewed! out over the entire dinner table full of food and all of the people sitting around me.)....enough to warrant keeping it on hand just to throw 80% of it out. Then I had a rare spark of genius, lol.... powdered buttermilk! I ordered a bag of it last week and today, I used it to mix up a dressing for my lunch salad: 1/4 cup water, 1 T. powdered buttermilk, about a 1/4 cup non-fat yogurt (preferably Greek but I just had plain today), and about 1/2 a pack of Hidden Valley dry mix (I may try making my own mix in the future but I had this half used packet on hand).........IT WAS DELICIOUS!!! I loved it! Mixing it myself allowed me to control the thickness, texture and taste. In other words, all of my objections to the store bought dressings. Why didn't I think of this before now? So much wasted time, money and taste buds but my "sparks of genius" are, unfortunately, quite rare. ;-)

A Murder of Crows

A murder of crows...A murder is what you call a grouping of crows. It's not a flock, certainly not a herd, it's a murder. It seems that also is what's happened to them. Have you noticed how few crows you see these days? I think I notice their absence more because their presence here on our little plot of land used to be so prolific. Their caws served as our alarm clock every morning. It was a true cacophony at once irritating and yet comforting for its familiarity. It was about ten or so years ago that I noticed they weren't so loud and their numbers seemed significantly diminished. Somewhere in that timespan, they seemed to disappear altogether. This morning, I realized how loud the other birds are with their songs. The song birds, thankfully, seem to be increasing dramatically. I've been seeing birds over the past few years that I haven't seen since my teenage years before DDT killed so many of them in one fell swoop.  Seeing and hearing again what we thought might be lost forever is wonderful. But those poor crows, where have they gone?
Drawing by Elva Paulson

A little anecdote concerning crows, I remember our little Murphy cat trying to play with them and the crows chased her and scared her half to death. Murphy was always tiny and crows are much larger than you might imagine. We had a very agressive male cat who also had feline leukemia. I didn't want little Murphy around him because I was afraid that he'd bite her. Murphy was found discarded on the side of the rode after someone tossed her out of a car. She wasn't even weaned, she lost all of her tail and part of her spine, she limped and evidently hurt for the rest of her life but she was one strong, determined little spirit. I kept her away from the other cats because I was afraid they'd hurt her but after six months, she still couldn't meow. Instead, she'd bark like the squirrels she saw out the window. When I began to let her go outside, I warned her about the "boogey cat." Sure enough, one day he starts chasing her and she came leaping toward me, yelping with every bounce and I was saying, "It's the boogey cat, Murphy! Run!" Ever after that, all I had to do was say, "Murphy, boogey cat!" and she'd come running to me...I often used this tactic to get her in when there wasn't a boogey cat in site. So, after the crows chased off their potential playmate, pecking at the poor little thing and flogging her with their wings, I had a new phrase that would make her come running, "Crows, Murphy! Crows!" lol

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Alright, just finished my last mile of the day. I'm only doing two miles a day for starters but I am running part of that mile now and it is cross country, up and down hills and occasional rough terrain.....also have to dodge a horse or two. ;-) ........the best news, I feel better, stronger every time I do it and I'm feeling great instead of exhausted once I'm done.....good deal!!

Honesty, Always the Best Policy

Being honest with yourself......I've mentioned before that I belong to a site called, Me and You, Daily Health Challenge. I've made some good, supportive friends on there. Many of them have been following me on my latest effort to change my life/lifestyle to one that is better and healthier. I have to admit, these changes I've made in just the last week seem to be working! I feel better than I have in ages. In fact, I feel as good as I did twenty years ago! I look in the mirror and I wonder who that old woman is because the young woman looking at her feels at least half that age. Still, I'm only a week in and I've had more than a few stumbles already, illness and giving in to tempting foods. I keep moving forward but a friend pointed something out this morning that I really need to take to heart. She said that when I do slip and eat something that I know I shouldn't, I should still journal about that food so that I'm learning from my mistakes, not ignoring them. I guess even wolfing down a few handfuls of chocolate candy can't be a complete mistake as long as it teaches you a lesson.....which is, do not repeat this because it is not worth it. So, as much as I don't want to, I will be writing down the chocolate I had after my morning exercise. It will be written in stone really because it will be in my online journal and we all know, once you put something out on the internet, it is virtually impossible to get it back.

Wednesday, I was sick and didn't walk. I don't know what brought it on. Steve speculated that maybe it was just my body adjusting to me suddenly throwing it into exercise after years of being sedentary. Maybe he was right because yesterday, I was ready and enthused about getting back out there for my twice daily mile (good starting point for me.) My plans were thrown off track by a naughty horse who had gotten out into the young, green grass of the hayfield over night and appeared to be paying for it. I was worried that he had colic. After several frantic calls to my vet and a day spent sitting in the sunshine (that part was nice) watching him, he appears to be okay. He will however be on meds for the next few days to ensure he doesn't founder....and as a sweet, little form of punishment....insert wicked laugh here.

I did walk last night and Steve joined me. I'm proud of both of us. I also ran part of that...Steve did not join me but he eventually caught up with me. I was out there walking again this morning, trying out a new-old pair of cross country shoes that I'd forgotten about having in my closet. I did not run because the shoes, that I got for mountain biking years ago and just in case, I blew a tire and had to walk out of wilderness trails that we rode on, appear to need new arches. I have a very high arch and the first thing I did this morning was strain one of them. So, no running but I will start again as soon as I get new arches for those shoes. I was proud of my pace this morning which now makes me really regret that chocolate that totally added back the calories I burned. Like I said though, lesson learned....don't sabotage your good efforts!

And's DHC challenge was all about foods that are good for your bones. Read on:

Food and Your Bones

The food that you eat can affect your bones. Learning about the foods that are rich in calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients that are important for your bone health and overall health will help you make healthier food choices every day. Use the chart below for examples of the different types of food you should be eating every day.
If you eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of dairy, fish, fruits and vegetables, you should get enough of the nutrients you need every day, but if you're not getting the recommended amount from food alone, you may need to complement your diet by taking multivitamins or supplements.  

Good-for-Your-Bones Foods

Dairy products such as low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
Calcium. Some dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D.

Canned sardines and salmon (with bones)
Fatty varieties such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
Vitamin D
Fruits and vegetables

Collard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, dandelion greens, mustard greens and broccoli.
Spinach, beet greens, okra, tomato products, artichokes, plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, collard greens and raisins.
Tomato products, raisins, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, papaya, oranges, orange juice, bananas, plantains and prunes.
Red peppers, green peppers, oranges, grapefruits, broccoli, strawberries, brussels sprouts, papaya and pineapples.
Vitamin C
Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens and brussel sprouts. 
Vitamin K
Fortified Foods 
Calcium and vitamin D are sometimes added to certain brands of juices, breakfast foods, soy milk, rice milk, cereals, snacks and breads.
Calcium, Vitamin D

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Saw this and thought it was very interesting. I'm going to have to find some recipes for wasabi!

Hope It's Not a Fluke!

True, my scale has been malfunctioning lately. I do have a new one on order which should arrive tomorrow and then I can check to see if my reading this morning was right. Until then, I am going to celebrate the nearly FIVE pound loss that the old, faulty scale showed this morning. I'm hoping that it isn't just a faulty scale and that the pointer is finally going in the right direction....down! I have been very good this week or rather this month since I started my new healthier lifestyle on April 1st. I've started monitoring what I eat, gave up the diet Dr Peppers over a week ago (that one still hurts), and I'm trying to get at least 30 minutes of walking in a day as well as walking instead of driving across the pasture to care for the horses twice a day. Add in the coconut oil I started using two weeks ago and the probiotic a week ago and I'm honestly feeling better than I have in ages. I'm enthusiastic about life again and I truly feel that I can reach my goals. Maybe I'll never be a size four again but I'm going to be more energetic, more productive and happier than I've been in a long while. I think that translates to a win-win whether I've actually lost the five pounds or not....but again, I hope I have. :D
 This cartoon is cute but still very true. I'm facing quite a few of these lately not only with my healthy life style changes and attempts to lose weight and get fit again but also with my career. There is a relative who continually undermines my confidence. I don't know whether it is intentional or not. My husband keeps telling me to stop telling her my plans and instead just do and then let her know once I accomplish my goals. I'm reminded of something I told a friend who kept seeking her mother's approval and support, "Stop going there trying to quench your thirst because that well is dry." I know that my relative probably has the best intentions and her attempts to tear down my confidence is because she has none herself but I wonder what makes us keep seeking certain people's approval when we know too well from experience they're never going to give us what we want.
 I'm doing my best to do this. Yesterday, my nutrition report told me that I didn't get enough healthy carbs but today, I exceeded the amount desired or required....go figure, ha. I am just starting it will take a while before I learn how to balance my meals better.

My nutrition tracker for the day from

For: 4/3/2013 
Start Date:  
Days To Show:



Banana, fresh, 1 medium (7" to 7-7/8" long)1091281
Great Value Greek Plain Nonfat yogurt 1cup/227g=1 serv, 1 cup1200923
Maca Powder - Raw Organic, 1 tsp20041
Meal Totals24914125


365 Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil, 0.33 tbsp40500
Apples, fresh, 1 medium (2-3/4" dia) (approx 3 per lb)820210
Pineapple, fresh, 1 cup, diced761191
Almased, 8 tbsp18021625
Meal Totals37775626


Purple Jasmine Rice, 0.5 cup3401748
Tossed Salad, 1 cup22042
Chicken Fajita Casserole, 1 serving445184732
Meal Totals8071912542


California Cuties Tangerines (2 clementines), 168 gram(s)801171
Meal Totals801171
Daily Totals1,5132723994
Daily Goal1200 - 155027 - 60135 - 25260 - 136
Where your calories are coming from
Your ValuesProteins, 23.8%Carbohydrates, 60.7%Fats, 15.5%
Recommended ValuesProteins, 20%Carbohydrates, 50%Fats, 30%

Export Data To File

Fats, 15.5%Fats, 30%

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 1st

No April Fools jokes for me yesterday. Instead the first day of the month marked me taking huge strides to get my life under control and back in balance. First, I rejoined Spark People,, a free site that offers not only emotional support through forums and challenges but FREE health, nutrition and fitness monitors to help you track your progress and stay on track with your diet. I have to say that I did much better than I thought I would with the nutrition tracker. I'd fixed my butter baked shrimp is soooo good (short recipe: I used half butter and half coconut oil about a cup, melted in the oven in a large casserole, topped with sliced lemon, a pound of shrimp, and a packet of your favorite dressing mix, baked at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Last night, I added garlic and snow peas, too.) and I was certain that the calories and fat in it would push me over my daily limits. Fortunately, I was good enough the rest of the day to allow myself this small, delicious indulgence but I did forgo the cheesy rice I had planned for the side and settled for a green salad with homemade, lowfat Ranch dressing. Here is what my tracker looked like yesterday(note I forgot to add the dressing at dinner but I have enough spare calories left to cover it):

Totals:    1,011162956
Your Daily Goal:    1,200 - 1,550135 - 25227 - 6060 - 136
Remaining Today:    189 - 539119 - 2360 - 314 - 80

Some even better news, I exercised (walked/hiked cross country, up and down hills) not once yesterday but twice! That doesn't seem like a major accomplishment to most people, I'm sure but to me, I just cleared my first obstacle with air underneath me....Yay me!! The first hill on the first walk, I was sure I was going to drop dead but I kept pushing through the pain and every subsequent hill got easier and easier. I'm really excited about this great start and I woke up today feeling refreshed, happy and ready to take on a new day. It's been a long time since I've felt that way. I've decided with both diet and exercise that I'm taking it easy and not taking on too much at first but hopefully I will gradually start doing more and more to with each passing week to exchange bad habits for good.

I also joined a challenge on Spark People, "A Pound a Week for 13 Weeks." Final weigh in is July 3rd and I hope that I exceed the pound a week goal but even if I don't make it, just the effort will leave me in better shape than I am now.