Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Have Always Wanted To.....

be on a rowing team! Yep, I think I would really like to try that. Don't ask me why, because I really have no idea what it is about rowing that intrigues me. I love the water, but I hate the sun. I use to love the sun until I was diagnosed with melanoma in 1998. Since then, the sun and I are not friends, but that's a topic for another day. Back to the rowing. I'm not sure if I like the idea of working in perfect harmony...I'm all about harmony, but I also prefer to work alone and have everything be exactly the way I want it. So, this rowing thing doesn't make much sense. I'm not sure if it's the challenge of always trying to beat your time. I do like goals like that. Maybe it is just my alter ego at work. There is a rowing club one town over from us. I've looked at their website. You just never know....maybe next summer you'll see me rowing away!

The other thing I have always wanted to do is to take ballet again. I know, how many 57 year old women do you see in beginner ballet classes? Probably not too many. I loved ballet as a child. I loved the feeling of moving freely around the floor. I took all kinds of dance, but toe dancing was my favorite. It think it was my favorite because of the shoes....oh, those amazingly beautiful pink shoes. How I loved those shoes!

I think now I would just take regular ballet. I don't think my feet or legs could handle toe dancing anymore. Not sure why I want to do ballet either. Maybe it's about being in shape and being able to express myself through movement and dance. Maybe I want to feel agile and limber again. I just really don't know. I would NOT want to dance in recitals...oh heavens no! I just know that I feel this desire to take ballet.

So, now that I have put it all out need to share. Finish this sentence, "I have always wanted to........"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crunchy Fruity Granola...Mmmmmmm!

Here is a quick and easy granola recipe for you. This stuff is amazing! It's a healthy mix of grains, seeds, nuts and fruit....well it's healthy if you don't eat it all in one sitting! My suggestion on this one is not to use a moist dried fruit like apricots or apples. I did that once and even though it tasted great, it was a big gooey mess! Stick with what the recipe calls for. Enjoy!

Adapted from Salad People and Taken from Vegetarian Times
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame etc.)
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds pistachios, hazelnuts, etc.)
1/2 tsp. salt (I don't find this necessary if I use salted pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 canola oil
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1 cup assorted dried fruit, chopped (raisins, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine oats, seeds, nuts and salt in bowl.

Whisk together honey, oil and vanilla, and stir into dry ingredients.

Spread granola on baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring once or twice during baking. Cool on tray until dry and crunchy. Break into bite-sized pieces, and stir in dried fruit. Store in airtight container.

Per serving: 280 CAL; 7G PROT; 16G TOTAL FAT (1.5G SAT. FAT); 30 G CARB; O MG CHOL; 85 MG SOD; 4G FIBER; 16G SUGARS

Thursday, November 13, 2008

23 and Counting!!

UGH!! Twenty-three days!

Twenty-three days until DDS-Day! As in Dreaded Dress Shopping-Day! Yes, December 6th...that's the day my daughter and I head into the Windy City (Chicago) to look for my dress for her wedding in March.

My daughter-in-law and I went with my daughter when she picked out her wedding dress. She tried on three dresses and said, "I'll take this one!"

Are you kidding me???

My daughter-in-law looked at me like, "No way! She can't make a decision just like that! We need to go look around. We have to go to more shops and maybe after trying on fifty dresses then she can pick one!"

But nope! That isn't how my daughter does things. The dress was gorgeous, it looked amazing on her, and the price was why go anywhere else?

Well, I've already told my daughter that she better wear her walking shoes, because I know December 6th will be nothing like that!

You see, I am NOT a dress kind of girl. I'm a blue jeans, t-shirt, sweatpants, sweatshirt, barefoot kind of girl! The last time I wore a dress was for my son's wedding three years ago. I don't remember any other times...oh, yes I wedding in 1972!
I just don't do dresses!

In an attempt to prepare me for our big day my daughter has been e-mailing me pictures of dresses....dozens and dozens of dresses.....Hmmmmm....didn't see any I wanted.

Now, her wedding is a bit more casual, so at least I don't have to wear a long dress and I can guarantee you there will be no sequins, no jacket, no phoofy fabric, no fluff, no frills...UGH...just thinking about it puts me in a state of utter terror!

So, I will continue to count down the days to DDS-Day. I will look at all of the pictures she sends me and on December 6th we will head downtown. Somehow, someway, I will come home with a dress that day, because I am only going dress shopping one time. Think this one will work?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Do You Send Christmas Cards?

Do you send Christmas cards? If so, do you ever think about "why" you send them? That's a simple question....but the answer wasn't always quite so simple for me. Now, maybe I'm the only one that has ever had this issue, but I kind of doubt it.

There was a time when I sent about 80 store bought cards every year to friends, family and neighbors. A small handful of people would get an extra handwritten note on cute holiday stationery, but most everyone got just the card with the preprinted message on the inside and then I wrote something like, "All Our Love, The Krolls". Sometimes I would write a little extra, "Happy Holidays". Then I would carefully stuff them in the envelopes, write the address on them, put a return label on them, seal them up, add a holiday stamp and pop them in the mailbox.

Another chore completed! Did I say chore??? Sending cards for the holidays shouldn't feel anything like a chore! Why did it sometimes seem that way? Why was I sending that many cards?

Was it because it's just what I always did? Was it because they sent me a card? Was it because I would feel guilty removing them from my list?
I finally decided that something had to change So,over the years I have whittled my list down to about 40. It isn't that I don't care about those other 40 people...I do. It's just that I never talk to those other 40 people. I never see those other 40 people. I never wrote special notes to those other 40 people, and those other 40 people never wrote special notes to me. Those other 40 people had no idea what is going on in my life, and I had no idea what was going on in theirs.
Sure Christmas is a nice time to "catch up", but I would have to write them a book to fill them in, and that isn't what Christmas cards are all about. Those 40 people were the sign the card, stuff it in the envelope, address the envelope, stick on the label, slap on the stamp and pop them in the mailbox people.
That isn't what the holidays are to me at all. That isn't what sending Christmas cards means to me. I love sending Christmas cards, and I love receiving Christmas cards.

So, this year I will be sending out those 40 cards...wonderful handmade cards with a beautiful photo taken by my son on the front. The inside of the card will start out blank, and I will write a personal and meaningful message to each person inside. I will make each card special so that every person that receives one knows that I really was thinking about them when I wrote their card. They will know that they are very special to me and that I really am thinking about them this holiday season.

Do you send Christmas cards? If so, do you ever think about "why"?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Honoring Our Veterans

Today we honor our Veterans. We owe them all such a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they have made. I thank each and everyone one of you for the service you gave to all of us. My thoughts also go out to all of of men and women serving our nation today throughout the world.

My dad fought in Africa during WWII. No this is not a history lesson, but rather a look back at one casualty of the war, my dad. No, he didn't lose his life in the war, but a part of him definitely died.

I remember as a child watching my dad asleep on the couch. My mom would run around moving the tables and the lamps from around the couch. It always happened when he was exhausted or not feeling well. There he lay asleep....leading his men in battle. His upper lip twitching. His hand motioning for his men to "get down". Whispering. Cringing when the bombs went off. The noise deafening. I could hear him talking to his best friend, Butts. Whispering. Motioning. My dad lived that war over and over and over again as a very horrible and vivid nightmare for as long as I can remember.

If we noticed it as soon as it started, after moving everything out of the way, my mom would tap him on his foot to wake him from his nightmare. "Rolf, Rolf, wake up." His arms and legs would go flying in every direction, his eyes would dart around until he realized he wasn't in a battle in Africa.

If he was well into his hellish nightmare by the time we noticed, we would just move things away from him, and let him fight his battle.....yet again. He would wake on his own...drained from the horrors of war.

My dad would sometimes cry in his nightmare. The tears streaming down his cheeks. Sobbing. His pain was so real. My dad fought side by side with his best friend and was there when his best friend died in battle.

He didn't talk about the war very often, and we didn't ask him about it. Every May 7th though, my dad would "disappear" for the day. We were never sure where he went or what he did, but he always returned looking spent with eyes red and swollen.
There was a time in the war when he was leading his men and told them to stay where they were. He was going ahead to make sure it was safe to proceed. When he came back, his men were all dead. They had been ambushed. Maybe that was May 7th. I don't know. Whatever happened that day, it pained him greatly.

All of the casualties of war don't die in dad passed away in 1984.

I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad. My dad had a great life. He had a wife and children and many friends. He loved to cook. He loved animals. He told, did he tell jokes! He worked for many years at the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. He was always there to help someone in need...but he also carried a very heavy burden that made life hard for him sometimes.

Today is Veterans Day. Take this day to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice, those that bear the scars of war physically and even those whose scars cannot be seen. They have given so much. Honor those who are serving their country now. Honor them all, not just today, but each and every day.

I love you Dad!

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Castle

The stone walls tower over their heads as the girls skip up the bumpy stone walkway. They smile as they come around the bend in the walk and are greeted by the heavy wooden draw bridge. The bridge is always is. They stop a moment to stare into the water beneath the bridge. They laugh and run the rest of the way. Their castle awaits. The walkway opens to a lush green lawn. They quickly run over to the big stone well and peer over the edge into the water far below. They are mesmerized by their own reflections.

They scamper into the grass, kicking off their shoes and do a couple of cartwheels before plunking down on their backs to stare up at the bright blue sky. What should they be today?

Should they be princesses enjoying tea on the castle lawn? Should they be soldiers standing guard in the lookout tower? Maybe they should be the king's horses prancing around the beautiful meadow?

So many choices....but today they will be the king's horses. They run around the lawn, their "manes" blowing in the wind. They shake their heads in grand horse style. They paw the grass and whinny. When they have had enough....they hide in the tower, sitting low with their backs against the stone wall so no passersby will see them. The stones are cold against their backs.

They run into the grass again for a couple more cartwheels and then run down the bumpy stone walkway...over the drawbridge...out the gate...leaving their land of make believe behind.

A childhood dream? No, just a day from my childhood!

I grew up in the tiny town of Fox River Grove, Illinois...and we had our very own castle! The castle was built by Ted Bettendorf, a Chicago machinist. It took him 20 years to complete it because he build it by hand...stone by stone. I had always heard he had built it for his wife, but research tells me that was not true.

I never got to see the inside of the castle, but I know it was a very small with one bedroom. When I was a child, the grounds of the castle were always open. People threw coins in the pond under the drawbridge and into the wishing well. It was by far my favorite place to play. The grass was the softest, greenest most beautiful grass you would ever want to wiggle your toes in...and we did!

At night the castle had colored lights shining on it and could be seen from the highway below. People would come from all over just to see the castle. It truly was an amazing site.

Our castle is still there but it's privately owned now and hasn't been open to the public for a very long time. Each time we drive by I look up at the castle and sometimes I'm sure I see those little girls peeking over the side of the tower wall.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Yoga Experience

I tried yoga for the first time about about 7 years ago. It sounded like a "gentle" form of exercise that I thought would be good for my aching back. I couldn't afford to go to classes so I bought a yoga tape called A.M. Yoga with Rodney Yee. Rodney Yee is one of the most recognized and popular yoga instructors in the world. I am addicted to his soothing voice and could listen to him for hours.
The yoga worked well for me, but like every form of exercise I didn't stick with it for very long. I have issues when it comes to staying on any exercise plan. The issue is...I don't. There have been many times that I have come back to that tape and started on my yoga journey once again, only to give it up after a while. It has nothing to do with yoga, it's me.

Over a year ago, I decided I would try yet again. I purchased two of Rodney Yee's DVDs. I was having back problems again and I remembered how helpful yoga was last time. This time I bought a DVD for strength and flexibility and one for meditation...another thing I have an interest in, but have not pursued.

The DVDs sat for a long time in their sealed packages. Then one day I decided to give it a go. I started with my A.M. Yoga tape for a couple of weeks first to get back in the swing of things, and then graduated to the Flexibility portion of one of the new DVDs. Oh my goodness, was it hard. It was a lot of bending and stretching.....what did I expect it to be if it is meant to make you more flexible?? Silly me. Anyway, I was on a roll. I got to where I could bend over and almost put my palms flat on the floor. I felt wonderful. I felt stronger and leaner and felt so focused mentally.

That's when I started my etsy business.....and stopped doing yoga yet again. Every minute I had when I wasn't at my full time job I was devoting to etsy. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I realized I wasn't paying any attention to ME again. I know from being in the natural health field for 5 years, that ignoring your own health is NOT a good thing to do. When your physical and mental health aren't good...nothing in your life seems good.

So, I decided it was time to get back in control. I made up my "plan" and I have been on track for a week now. I started this week with the easier A.M. yoga, and tomorrow I will move onto the flexibility routine. Once I am comfortable doing that one, I will progress to the one for strength. I am so proud of myself and so happy. Doing any form of exercise for a week straight for me is a miracle in itself. I also love yoga. It is not running and jumping around, but instead it is a slower paced very smooth series of movements. It makes me stronger and improves my posture. What it does for me emotionally can't be measured. I have not tried the meditation DVD yet, but I will.

There are two things keeping me on the straight and narrow this time. One is that my daughter is getting married in March and I want to get a dynamite dress. The other is that I am at an age where many of us seem to start falling apart, and not caring if we are falling apart. I don't want to do that. I have a lot of life left and I want to be healthy and happy so I can enjoy it.
To quote Rodney Yee, "They call me a yoga master, and I sort of laugh. What have I mastered? I don't even know what that means. It's just an ongoing exploration. The more you practice, the more you sense the infinite nuances. It's an endless journey of your curiosity." I agree. Each time I am doing yoga, I am so surprised at how different I feel. I also want to learn more and accomplish more, both in yoga and in my life. It really does clear your mind, and that's always a good thing, at least for me.

I also wrote a blog post and I told everyone on the face of the earth what my plan was, and since I don't handle failure very well, I am sticking to it. To make sure I do, I even post my daily activities on my blog. That's called accountability. Now, I need to get this posted because it's Sunday, and the dog and I are going for that long relaxing walk!

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