Just a few more pounds . . .

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. 

And I would add that eternal vigilance is the price of keeping weight off!

I lost 30 pounds in the first five months of this year. Since the end of May I've been gaining and losing the same two pounds. I really want to lose another five pounds to fit into two dresses and a coat I've bought for the fall.

Most experts counsel you never to buy something that you have to lose weight to fit into. Buy for your current size, they suggest. This is good advice, but I've found I've lost out when I've waited.

I'm very picky about my clothing since I began Project 333. If I'm going to only have 33 items in my closet, I'm going to make sure I love them. And once I narrow my choices down to the right color, style, and fabric, there usually isn't too much to pick from. Best to get them when the getting's good.

I found a beautiful dress by Eileen Fisher last winter in a really pretty charcoal. She usually does everything in black and I don't do black. But I thought I'd wait to buy it until I lost a little more weight. Yep, you guessed it. By the time I lost the weight, it was sold out.

So even though they're a little snug, I snatched up these items before it was too late. (Just so you know, I have scrolled through literally hundreds of dresses online to find just one perfect one. Hey, if I only get to have a couple in my wardrobe, I want to love them.)

These are the items I need to lose the extra 5 pounds for . . . 

I got this from Pendleton in the navy, 30% off. I'll wear with a cardy or jacket. This will be a wardrobe staple.

I got this in navy from Nordstrom. So hard to find a dress with coverage of arms, knees, and décolleté, and still stylish.  I'll be able to wear this to lots of different functions.

From J. Crew. So excited to finally find a pink coat, I didn't want to wait for it to go on sale, because I know the pink or my size wouldn't be available. But, using eBates, I still was able to get it for 35% off, with cash back.
So, these are my incentives for the final five pounds.

I just have to gear myself up for it. It is a mental game. It is a state of mind.

You know how everyone says it takes 30 days to form a new habit? Hmm . . . I don't know. I gave up sugar for more than thirty days, but I sure haven't lost my taste for it. And we're heading into the fall season, which always equals, to me, homemade apple crisps, pumpkin muffins, gingerbread, etc.


I'm determined not to gain this weight back. I worked too hard to get here. 

With apologies to Thomas Jefferson (who may or may not have originally penned this famous saying), eternal vigilance is needed. It's so easy to slack off, get lazy, think that an extra helping won't make much difference . . . 

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil (FAT) is for good men (ME) to do nothing (EAT COOKIES). -- Edmund Burke

(Sometimes I worry that my silly sense of humor might not come across very well on paper.)

Hope you're all having a good weekend. Here in Michigan, I'm enjoying the beginning of my favorite time of year. The windows are open, the humidity is low, temperatures are moderate -- just lovely!!

Wake up to toast, 50s style

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It's fun to discover new (to me) bloggers, and come away with bits of beauty and inspiration.

Rue at An Old-Fashioned World, a new blogging friend, has inspired me in vintage living. She really does live an old-fashioned life, down to her darling retro kitchen and vintage clothing. Rue uses old things, most made before 1960. I already use my vintage linens and dishes on a daily basis, but she got me thinking about other useful and beautiful vintage items, including appliances . . . 

You and I both know that appliances nowadays have a built-in obsolescence. We're lucky if a vacuum cleaner or coffee pot or washing machine lasts more than five years. And when it does break down, it's cheaper to just replace the thing than to get it repaired.

(We did just pay a couple hundred dollars to repair our 31-year-old Maytag washer. It was worth it. They just don't make them like that anymore. A friend, with a fancy, few-years-old stackable washer/dryer combo, is already looking at having to purchase a new one.)

And what happened to Made in the USA? Do you see anything made here anymore? It seems everything comes from China.

But, not too long ago, many things were made right here. And they were quality.

A vintage Westclox Baby Ben wind-up alarm clock for my bedside. Better than having my cell phone alarm close to my head at night. Who knows what the potential damage of that could be? And this little clock is perfect if the power goes out.

Isn't it cute? I found it on eBay for under $10. It works perfectly. (I just need to remember to wind it up every night!)

So imagine me, shutting off my cheery little alarm, slipping into my slippers and housecoat, and padding downstairs to start up the percolator and make myself some toast a la Lucy?

(Of course,  I would also need to scramble eggs for Ricky Mr. Beautiful while he reads the paper, but  that's not going to happen. Mr. B lives in the 21st century. He has a green smoothie and then checks his emails. I have to say, though, he does enjoy percolated coffee, if he's not in a hurry. Then he grabs a cup from the Keurig.)

I often have a rice protein powder waffle in the mornings, but my other go-to is a slice of Ezekiel bread, toasted, and spread with real butter. It provides lots of good protein to keep me going all morning, but also satisfies my carb cravings.

So look at this gorgeous, shiny Toastmaster toaster from the 50s. One dial on it, to adjust light to dark. No lever to push the toast down; the toast just drops down into the toaster by gravity. It works perfectly. (The cord and plug look perfect, but I do unplug it after use, just in case!)

I'm thinking more and more of our large antique mall here when I need something. New dishcloths? I just got four lovely soft linen ones there. So much nicer than the made in China ones at Target. I need a glass pitcher for iced tea. Instead of heading over to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond, why not recycle and reuse, and enjoy made in the USA, vintage quality by buying one from one of the vintage dealers?

I have a stove-top percolator, but I'm thinking of getting an electric one as well. The guy who had the toaster has some equally shiny and nice-looking vintage percolators, too. 

Looking around my kitchen, I realize that many of the things I use every day are old, from casserole dishes from my grandfather, to strainers and pie servers from my mother in law. I love them. Besides being useful, they are beautiful, and evoke memories of loved family members and a bygone era.

Thanks, Rue, for the inspiration. 

Do any of you use vintage things at home? What about appliances?

Beautiful eyelashes naturally

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mascara has always been my "desert-island" choice of makeup (as in, if you could only take one item of makeup with you to a desert island . . . ).

Lancome Definicils, one of my favorites

But, as a committed mascara-wearer, I know too well the downside. The putting it on, taking it off, the flaking, melting, smearing (at least in this heat right now), clumps . . .  But what I really dislike is the removing part.

I can take a shower at night and wash my face, get out and clean the black rings under my eyes very thoroughly, and still wake up in the morning with more black under my eyes. And I don't use a ton of eye makeup.  Every time I remove mascara and eyeliner, I wonder how much damage I'm doing to the under-eye area, which is so sensitive and prone to fine lines and wrinkles.

I've experimented with going without mascara, but I always look a little tired and washed out. I recently went somewhere without it, and someone asked me if I was feeling okay.

So the last time I was at the dermatologist I asked him about Latisse, the FDA-approved drops that you brush near the lash line to grow your lashes. He gave me a script, but when I went to fill it, I discovered it's around $120 for a one-month supply!

I thought about how I could stretch the product (use only one drop for both eyes, instead of one for each), use my own applicator brush and clean between use, and apply only every other day, but I would still be spending $32/month. Turns out I'm not the only one trying to get the price down. I found a number of articles on the web describing how people were doing these very things in order to cut costs.

The thing with Latisse is that, according to everything I've read, it really works. I just wish it wasn't so expensive.

So . . . I've been researching other ways to grow my lashes naturally.

I won't see near the same results I'm sure, but it's worth a try. 

Here are some suggestions I've found:

*** Apply castor oil to the eyelashes once a day at bedtime. You can apply it with an old mascara wand, thoroughly cleaned, or with a clean eyeliner brush at the base of the lashes. You don't need much; it's pretty thick. I got it in my eyes the first time I tried it because I used too much.

*** Besides using castor oil, you can also use coconut or olive oils or other natural oil. You can even use Vitamin E capsules. Or aloe vera gel. You can apply these to the base of the lashes using a clean eyeliner brush or with a mascara wand. I've been using a little coconut oil to remove my mascara instead of the makeup remover wipes I had from Almay. It not only removes the mascara and eyeliner, but moisturizers as well.

I keep coconut oil in this little brown jar; it replaces the Almay makeup remover pads.
*** Use a comb (as pictured above) to comb out your lashes to remove dirt and debris, and stimulate growth. You can use the comb also to apply the castor or other oil.

*** Gently massage your eyelids to stimulate eyelash growth. It seems a little hard to believe that it would work, but it's relaxing if nothing else.

*** Soak a Q-tip with cooled, steeped green tea, and apply to the base of your lashes. The flavonoids in the tea help stimulate growth.

*** Eat a healthy diet (this is a good suggestion for whatever condition you have!).

*** Remove all makeup before bed, every night.

*** Take biotin. This vitamin is good for hair and nails. 

*** Go without eye makeup occasionally to give the lashes a rest. This works for me on days I don't go anywhere.

*** Don't use fake eyelashes. The glue is drying, and when you remove them, you can inadvertently remove some of your own eyelashes, too. I never got the hang of those things, anyway.

I think I'm going to concentrate on the castor oil treatment. I've read that it usually takes a couple months to see results. But results take that long using Latisse. I'll let you know how it goes.

How about you? Are you a committed mascara wearer? Have you ever tried any eyelash growth products? Have you tried any natural ways to grow your lashes?

An old-fashioned Sunday

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Today I attended worship in this beautiful old church. No air conditioning, no electric guitars, no overheads or speakers, just lovely people and wonderful old hymns. Beautiful.

Emmanuel Evangelical Church, Petosky, Michigan
We even sang this old favorite:

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

It was balm to the soul.

Peace like a river

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I've been in the city too long. I didn't realize how much I missed being out in the natural world until a friend took me to see this . . . 

Ocqueoc Falls near Onaway, Michigan 
We used to go camping every summer with our children. We have so many happy memories of those times. Canoeing, hiking, swimming, roasting marshmallows over an open fire, watching the stars come out . . .  Standing by this waterfall, listening to the water, feeling the sun and breeze on my face, I felt those memories come flooding back.

It was so peaceful here; I would love to fall asleep to the sound of this water.

I need to do this more often.

Lessons from a WWII ship

Sunday, August 9, 2015

This picture has nothing to do with the post, but it's pretty.

Our pastor shared a very interesting story during the sermon today about the USS Indianapolis during World War II.

The ship, on its way back from a mission in 1945, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The ship sank within 12 minutes; 300 of the 1200 men on board died immediately. Of the 900 remaining, only 317 survived the five days in the ocean, on rafts or in life preservers, falling prey to dehydration, sharks, and saltwater-induced hallucinations.

This story especially interested me as I am currently reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand about Louis Zamperini, who survived being shot down in the Pacific and the horrors of a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

Our pastor told of a medical officer among the survivors of the USS Indianapolis who spent those five days doing his best to help the men. Men were so thirsty that some of them resorted to drinking saltwater. He tried to convince them that it would make them even thirstier and lead to their deaths, but they ignored his warnings.

How many things in this world look good, look tempting, look like something we just have to have, but in the end will lead to death, physically or spiritually?

Drinking saltwater can also cause delirium, and many of the men experienced hallucinations.  One person would "see" something, and all of a sudden others would see it, and pretty soon a whole group would be deceived.

It's not hard to catch the analogy here.

Once we start down a path of choosing things that are not good for us, we can start believing false ideas, especially if those around us are doing the same thing. Soon a whole group can be calling the false true, and no one can tell the difference anymore.

Sounds a little like our world right now.


In looking up some of the facts around this story, I noticed that a movie entitled USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, starring Nicholas Cage, is to be released next May.

Lime and mint cooler

Friday, August 7, 2015

This is a refreshing, summery drink. I had it recently at a friend's house, and it was delicious. No calories, other than those in the lime juice (20 per lime). 

3 limes
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup water

Blend the water and mint leaves in a blender. Juice the limes, and add to the mint water; stir. Pour over ice cubes, equally among four glasses. Add

sparkling water

Stir in


to taste. You can use any sweetener you'd like, but stevia is a good, no-calorie alternative.

The original recipe calls for peeling the limes and blending them with the mint and water. (You then have to strain the mixture.) I tried it this way and found it a little bitter, perhaps because of the added pith that I wasn't able to remove? It's also not easy to peel a lime!

Have a beautiful weekend.

Quick hair update

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Here's a pic of the progress so far . . . 

When I was coloring my hair, it seemed to grow so fast. After three weeks, I could see the roots. Now that I'm not coloring, it seems to be growing so slowly. This is after 9 1/2 weeks of no coloring.

So I decided to get it cut, just to try and speed things up a bit.

It's hard to get a decent selfie, but at least here you can see the roots. I've left the bangs long to keep some illusion of length for myself, but the sides and back are really short. In fact, all the color is off the lower back, at the neckline.

So the bangs could still take forever, but I think the back and sides will be all grown out by Thanksgiving.

I had about 2 1/2 to 3 inches cut off, which saves me almost six months of growing out time.

Some days I like it, some days I don't. At least I'll have lots of time to get used to it, at this rate!

Of picnics, cheese, and roses . . .

Monday, August 3, 2015

Isn't this a pretty pattern?

It's White Birch by Royal Albert. I was at a friend's last week, and had tea out of this cup. Of course, I had to take a picture of it first.

This would be a lovely place for a picnic. Perhaps some homemade, crispy chicken, still a little warm from being made early that morning, potato salad made from a favorite family recipe, fresh blueberry muffins, a cluster of grapes, and later, with a thermos of steaming coffee, some homemade brownies or chocolate layer cake, thick with frosting. You have already been canoeing, and now, nicely sated, you are ready for a little rest on an old, freshly laundered quilt with a favorite book. There's a gentle breeze coming off the lake and, after a bit, the book slowly falls from your hands as you drift off into a pleasant afternoon slumber.  Perhaps later,  you sit and watch the sunset (can you see it there in the western sky beyond the lake?), as the fireflies come out and the frogs and crickets begin their evening chorus.

A perfect summer day.


Look what I recently discovered . . . 

Cheese paper. Who knew? I expected a roll of something like waxed paper, but the box contains individual sheets of coated paper with cute little labels.

It's supposed to help keep cheese fresher than plastic. In fact, I guess you're never supposed to keep cheese in plastic. It can't breathe, or release the ammonia that is a natural by-product of the aging process. If you don't have cheese paper, you can use waxed paper or parchment paper. If you're worried about the cheese drying out, you can put it in a partially sealed plastic bag after you've wrapped it in the paper. 

This parmesan cheese was delicious on spaghetti squash with a meat sauce. A far cry from the stuff that came in a green can when I was growing up!

I circled the cow, because that's what this cheese came from, but there's goat and sheep cheese options as well.
Cut roses need tending every day. Changing the water, re-cutting the stems, and sadly, discarding the dying ones . . . 

From a sad-looking bunch of 20 to a smaller, fresher group of eight

Drying rosemary, my favorite herb on pork and chicken, for later use.

Have a beautiful week, friends. And thank you all for visiting. I love and appreciate your comments.

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