Some current faves and a giveaway win

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Look at these beautiful howlite bracelets I just won from fabulous Tamera of her eponymous blog Tamera Beardsley

Check out the beautiful packaging.
These bracelets have a satisfying weight to them, and are super smooth. The perfect addition to a summer wardrobe.

Tamera has a beautiful, artistic style. I admire the freedom and fun she has in styling her life. Thank you, Tamera, for your generous giveaway. 


And now, a few of my current favorites.

Although you know I'm not giving up my heels, I do need a comfy shoe for running errands in. Minnetonka moccasins have been around forever, but I just now discovered how comfortable they are.

I might even get another pair, in navy. Or pink.

I've been experimenting with brighter lipstick, and I really need to outline my lips before I put it on. The brighter pink is not as forgiving as a nude lipstick, and I find I need to be much more careful in applying it. You know how most lip pencils feel like -- pencils? Hard on the lips, and hard to even see if you're not using a super-dark color? 

This Rimmel Exaggerate lip pencil is soft, smooth, and so easy to apply. You can even outline your lips with it, then fill in, and use it on its own. This color is Enchantment.

Another thing I'm loving every morning is my waffle. Seriously, it's my favorite meal of the day.

oops . . . I started to eat this before I remembered to take a picture!
It's made with chocolate-flavored rice protein powder, eggs, cinnamon, banana, and almond milk. The recipe calls for egg whites only, but I use the whole egg. I also use a pat of butter. I've learned not to be scared of good fats.

This waffle is loaded with protein, and, unlike other waffles that leave you starving an hour later, this little guy keeps me chugging along for a good four hours or more until lunch time.

Warmer weather is coming . . . which means sandals and bare feet. My heels are so dry and they can crack in the winter if I don't take care of them, but actually summer can even be harder on them. Probably because I neglect putting lotion and socks on around the house; I much prefer bare feet!

Have to remember to keep using this . . . 

I get this at Whole Foods, and it's the best thing I've found for those pesky heels.

One more favorite. 

Beeswax candles.

Lovely, natural scent that doesn't compete with food, no paraffins, and made by bees! I do find beeswax hard to remove, so I don't often use tapers, which can drip on my linens. I like these little tea lights in my mercury glass holders. I light them at every meal -- even when I'm eating my waffle!

And they're nice to scatter around tables at dinner parties.


Thank you all for your encouraging comments regarding my weight loss. It really helps me, friends! You are all the best!! Seriously, this little corner of blogland is such a supportive and happy place. I'm so glad I took the leap and began blogging. 

25 pounds down . . . and counting

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Oh friends, this has been a long slog . . . even though it hasn't quite been four months, it feels a lot longer.

Never, never let me overeat again. Please, Lord, let me be moderate in all things. It's not worth it, or needful, or even an act of gratitude, to overindulge in the good gifts we've been given.

And . . . 

Nothing tastes as good as skinny healthy and fit feels.

And that's really true. (I've revised the saying because my goal is not to be skinny.)

I feel ever so much better. I went into Target to get some "transition" jeans (because I'm not at my desired weight yet, and nothing fits), and it was the first time in years I didn't inwardly cringe seeing my backside in a three-way mirror.

Every day for the past 15 years or so I have felt badly about my body. Every. day. Granted, most of the time it was just a fleeting thought, but it was there.

I really don't want to deal with this anymore. Just some discipline every day, and I can do this. For the rest of my life. Would I rather exercise some discipline, or feel overweight, tired, and unhealthy?

Seventeen more pounds to go.

Or maybe a little less.

We can't target the areas we want to slim down. I will always be a pear no matter how much weight I lose. And if my face starts collapsing !!, I'll stop before my goal is reached.

Here are a few things I've learned . . . 

Sugar is really not my friend. It pretends to be, but it has a dark side. Its evil twin, white flour, can be just as sinister.**

Vegetables, lean protein, and a little fruit are my besties! They take such good care of me!

A little good fat is good.

It's okay to feel hungry. It's not like I'm going to die of it.

Less food. No mystery here.

Put. down. the. fork. Chew and swallow and enjoy some conversation along the way. Stop eating before you're full.

So, nothing magic here. The boring truth is it's hard work and discipline. But the payoff is huge in feeling better, sleeping better, nicer skin, more energy . . . and let's be honest, new clothes! Can't wait for that part!

So, tea breaks these days are almost only tea. Sometimes a small square of dark chocolate or a few nuts or a piece of fruit, but more often, just a cup of herbal tea with some stevia. My favorite at the moment is Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry.

A little stevia goes a long ways . . . isn't the little spoon too cute?

Food for the brain doesn't add any calories . . .  The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
And, picking up on something I said earlier, gratitude increases when we're not overindulging. I find I'm even more thankful for the good food I get to eat every day. When we come to the table hungry (and isn't that how it's supposed to be?), good, honest, unprocessed food is a gift. We can truly say (and I'm only being a little funny here), "thank you, Lord, I get to have this food!"

**Okay, a little hyperbole here, but really, cutting out these bad boys has been I think the single most important key to my losing weight.

Linking with Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage.

Spring gifts

Monday, April 20, 2015

No one but a northerner who has survived months of freezing temperatures, snowstorms, and cloudy skies can appreciate in quite the same way the first perfect day of spring.

It is a little bit of heaven. 

Everyone (including yours truly) was out and about in our little downtown on Saturday, drinking coffee in outdoor cafes, strolling with their dogs in our central park, shopping in our little boutiques, and just generally soaking up the glorious sunshine and warmth. What a gift!

This week is expected to be cloudy and rainy, but that's okay. Everything's greening up so nicely, and you know what they say about April showers . . . 

My first spring gift came from a book club friend, who brought over these forsythia branches she'd trimmed from her garden.

Here they are a week later . . . 

Thank you, Michelle.

Another book club friend was spring cleaning, and called to ask if I'd like a silver-plated tea set. Such a silly question. 

Isn't it gorgeous? Thank you, Debby.

And my husband brought home two dozen peachy-pink roses to thank me for my patience through another tax season. (Mr. Beautiful is a CPA.)

He took a couple days off after the 15th, and we had a nice little stay-cation. We saw a movie, went out to eat a few times, and just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company.

Thank you, Mr. Beautiful, and thank you for working so hard.

A teaspoon in desperate need of polish -- this was my grandfather's baby spoon.
I am putting together a book of family recipes for our youngest, who is graduating from college in a few weeks. He loves to cook, and requested copies of his favorite recipes. I was able to find some "manly"-looking recipe cards.

One more peek at that beautiful tea set . . . 

Hope you're all enjoying some gifts of springtime, too.

Linking up with A Well-Styled Life. Please join us!

Chicken salad on grandmother's Minton

Monday, April 13, 2015

I can't believe I forgot to show you the beautiful doily Shane from Roses Lace and Brocante sent me. It was tucked in among the magazines she mailed all the way from New Zealand for our magazine swap, sponsored by Lorrie of Fabric Paper Thread.

Isn't it lovely? Merci, Shane!

Today I'm sharing a beautiful set of Minton dishes which belonged to my husband's grandmother. They have been passed down to my daughter.

Mr. Beautiful's grandmother came over on the boat from Scotland in the early 20s, when she was also in her 20s. She met her future husband on the boat. Isn't that romantic? She was headed for Montana to stay with relatives, but soon left that "one-horse town (!)" to join him in Detroit. She was a bit older than he was, by several years, but she didn't let on to that until after they were married!

Her beautiful set of china is a complete serving for eight, with dinner, salad, and dessert plates, berry and soup bowls, teacups and saucers, and various serving pieces. It's gorgeous.

I'm having chicken salad on a bed of spinach for lunch today.

The recipe is simple: just roast some chicken in a little olive oil with sea salt and black pepper. Cut up into bite-sized pieces and add chopped celery, carrot, and onion and some slivered almonds. Mix together plain yogurt and lemon juice {about a tablespoon each for a single serving (4 ounces of chicken)}, and mix well. The yogurt and lemon juice is a light, refreshing change from the traditional mayonnaise.

detail of hundred-year old napkins, passed down to me, in pristine condition

For dessert, a cup of darjeeling tea, some blackberries, and a square of chocolate.

Darjeeling tea, steeping in the teapot I got at Bernideen's tea shop in Colorado Springs

When one is trying to lose lots of weight, like I am, it's better to do so slowly and reasonably. And I think a square of dark chocolate is reasonable, don't you?

We'll draw the line at adding sugar to our tea, though.


In movie news, treat your inner girl-at-heart to Cinderella, Kenneth Branagh's gorgeous re-telling of the lovely fairy tale. The settings are sumptuous, the costumes beautiful, and the story faithful to the original, with no annoying politically correct changes.

I saw it this weekend, and I already want to see it again on DVD, so I can hit pause again and again, just to gaze at all the beautiful details. And the scene where the coach turns back into a pumpkin is just too laugh-out-loud funny. Do yourself a favor and go see it.

Linking to the party at A Well-Styled Life. Please pop over!

Magazine swap

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Lorrie from Fabric Paper Thread recently organized a magazine swap. I got matched with Shane from Roses Lace and Brocante in New Zealand. How much fun to get a package from another hemisphere! While we're looking forward to warmer weather, they're heading into their colder season.

So why were the magazines wrapped with ribbon with Eiffel Towers on it? After all, Shane lives in New Zealand. Well, she has grandchildren in France! So France is like a second home. I guess if your grandchildren have to live in another country, it's all good when they live in one you want to visit, non? Shane says on her blog, "my love affair with France begins with my darling French granddaughters." 

The pretty notecard she sent was enclosed in an envelope stamped "Pour Vous" and "Bonjour."

Merci, Shane. The magazines are beautiful, and make me want to know more about your country. I only know it is beautiful from seeing it in the Lord of the Rings movies. Gorgeous! And my son the economics major says New Zealand has a very good system in place there. One of the best.

the New Zealand magazines are bursting with beautiful photos

So it is a perfect afternoon -- rainy and windy -- for a spot of tea and reading some magazines.

I'm also looking at the latest InStyle magazine, perusing the upcoming symphony calendar, and looking at this book my daughter bought.

Maybe I'll do a review of it soon.

And since I haven't bought any clothes in like forever, I treated myself to this Chanel nail polish in Ballerina. I can let my nails dry while I read. It's very pretty, and -- bonus -- because it's so light it doesn't show chips.

Oh, and remember I said I should get rid of my heels because I only wore them once in a while? Well, I thought, since I'm keeping them, what better reason to find some occasions to wear them?! 

So I am looking at the symphony offerings. If I sign up soon, we can get seven concerts for the price of six.

Thank you for all your encouraging comments regarding my weight loss. It helps when I "report" to you here -- keeps me a little accountable.

Thanks again Lorrie from Vancouver Island and Shane from New Zealand! Both so far from Michigan here in the U.S., but this wonderful blogging community shortens the distance.

Halfway to my goal!

Monday, April 6, 2015

I sure wish the scale would take into account all the goodies I didn't eat over the weekend, instead of registering the few I did eat.

I didn't touch any of the Easter candy, despite filling four Easter baskets. I didn't eat any of the lemon squares I made. I passed up the potato casserole, the rolls, the salty ham, and the chocolate eclair. The first year ever I didn't stuff myself with jelly beans. Not. a. single. one.

But, unfortunately, the scale registered this morning that I did eat a hot cross bun on Friday, two blueberry pancakes that my son made Easter morning, and a slice of homemade carrot cake last night.

But it's all good, I tell myself. Back on track this morning. 

I am noticing that when I "cheat" I really don't feel well. The first bite or two is delicious, but when I'm done, I feel a little sick.

I'm taking this as a hopeful sign.

Halfway to my goal -- 21 pounds down, 21 to go. My reward will be a new fall wardrobe, carefully curated a la Project 333. After all, after 42 pounds, not much will fit. Not much is fitting even now. I'm starting a Project 333 Pinterest board to help motivate me. 

I'll share the link when I get it a little more together.

And I thought my book club was coming tonight. I had the dates mixed up. What am I going to do with the leftover carrot cake?

Some stuff that doesn't get eaten up today by my son (who is heading back to college today) will get thrown out. As much as I hate to waste food, I am not a human garbage can. If it can't be frozen, out it goes.

{Oh, I know. The carrot cake can be hidden until my daughter takes it to her Bible study. Good idea!}

So, yes, back to "black coffee and conversation" today.

I hope somebody out there enjoyed a few jelly beans for me!

Happy Easter

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Christ the Lord is ris'n today. Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say: Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high. Alleluia!
Sing, ye heaven's, and earth, reply: Alleluia!

Happy Easter, dear friends.

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