For two months, I've had an empty curtain rod hanging in my bathroom (and had the rod in storage for many months before that). I just never found quite the right thing to hang there - until Saturday. I love this, even if it is just a bit narrow. The picture is a little dark, but can you tell what it is?

It's a pillow sham.

cheap storage.

Since I started making jewelry, I've been playing around with a lot of different ways to store beads. Because let me tell you, as little as those suckers there, they sure can take up a lot of space!

At first I used bead organizers - those clear plastic boxes subdivided with little compartments. It worked for a while - but now that my collection has grown, its just not practical - its too difficult to keep like items together.

For my birthday, my friends Kristina and Hannibal gave me a great tote filled with old baby food jars (the labels have been removed and the tops spray-painted). These have been working really well, and Kristina has since given me more old jars to use - but I still need a place to put them. I was keeping my eyes open for a low bookself or storage case at thrift stores, until I went into my shed to pick up some things for church (that's about all that's stored in there right now), and saw this:

This is the cleaned-up, primed version. It old, cheap, and rickety, but it was free! A little spray paint, a few cute plant holders I picked up on clearance at Ross (I love these things!), and its a great solution!

weight loss challenge (the results).

Our extreme weight-loss challenge concluded today. I didn't win, but I lost 10 pounds, and five inches total in my chest, waist, and hips. In six weeks. So I'm not sad, because who would be sad about that?

my favorite way to eat salad.

When I lived in Frederick, my hands-down favorite place to go for lunch was Panera. I ate there at least two or three times a week, and almost always ordered the same thing - half Frontega chicken panini with either chicken noodle or broccoli cheese soup. Not quite healthy, at least the sandwich, but so, so good.

Panera was also the first time I ever saw anyone put fruit on a salad. It seemed a little weird, especially with chicken too, but after a while that became my favorite way to eat a salad.

This recipe is adapted from Southern Living's Baby Blue salad, though I've changed it a bit to suit my taste.

Summer Fruit Salad

1 bag spring mix salad greens
1/2 pint strawberries, quartered
1/2 pint blueberries
1 orange, peeled and sectioned
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Mix all ingredients together and serve with your favorite salad dressing.

There are lots of salad dressing options for this - most any vinaigrette tastes really good, and Panera serves theirs with a poppyseed dressing. I often leave off the dressing all together - I've found that the juice from the orange and strawberries is almost enough for me by itself.

Also, vary it by adding whatever fuits you like. I've added dried cranberries, and I've always thought bits of apples or maybe grapes would be good, too.

For more healthy fruit recipes, visit the Watchin' What We Eat Wednesday - Fruits Edition.

back on track.

So, despite my bad day, I'm back on track. Tonight I worked out on the elliptical for one hour.

One whole hour.

keeping it real.

Yesterday was a tough day, diet wise. I mentioned that I'm doing this weight loss challenge - Thursday night I asked my friend Kelly to take my measurements, since she had the original records from the start of the challenge. My weight wasn't quite down as much as according to my scale, but I'm chalking that up to the fact that we were doing this much later in the day, and that my scale is cheap and not perfectly reliable.

But, this is the thing that killed me - though my hip measurements were down 2 inches, both my chest and waist measurements were up 1 inch! And given the way I've been working out and eating, I just don't see how that's possible. It frustrated me enough that yesterday, I ate ice cream, instead of opting for a low-fat smoothie.

Today is much better, though - I decided a couple things.
  • I'm going to follow Nick and Heather's suggestion to get a complete physical, given that I'm talking about losing a significant amount of weight here. That way, I'll know up front if I'm dealing with any issues that might affect my weight loss.
  • Also, when Kelly does the final measurements in a week, I don't want to know what they are. Maybe this last measurement was a fluke, maybe the first set was off - or maybe, inches just isn't the best thing for me to track.

what i like about working out.

In and of itself, I don't really like working out. Its hard work, and sometimes its hard mental work to force myself to get to the gym and finish strong. I don't particularly enjoy sweating and forcing myself to go beyond what I think I can do.

And, let's just be honest, when I work out, there is really nothing pretty going on there. Some people look kind of cute when they work out - I am not one of them.

But here's what I do like - the results are tangible and I can see the progress I'm making.

Dieting and using the scale as your guide - that's not always a fast process, and the results don't show up immediately. I can feel proud of myself for getting to the gym, for the discipline I'm showing in keeping my calories at a certain level, but that's less tangible for me.

One year ago, the first time I ever got on an elliptical machine, I could barely get through three minutes before I needed to get off. Four weeks ago, 15 minutes just about killed me. Today, I'm doing 30 minutes, and feeling like I could even go longer. I can bike faster, I can lift more.

I can't really explain to you how good that makes me feel.

my favorite healthy dessert.

In keeping with my desire to eat well, I've decided to share a few of my favorite low-fat and/or low-calorie recipes, as a part of Lorie's Watchin' What We Eat Wednesday meme.

This is seriously my favorite healthy dessert. And, actually, its my favorite dessert period, except for chocolate chip cookies. But I'm dieting here, so we won't talk about those anymore.

Anyway, back to the recipe. This is really easy, really flexible, really good, and, to those who don't know just how easy it is to make, really impressive, too. This looks great in any clear glass bowl (like a trifle bowl).

Angel Food Fruit Trifle

angel food cake (with no icing)
sugar-free vanilla pudding (4 servings), made with fat-free milk
fat-free whipped topping
assorted fruit, washed and cut up as necessary

Fold together the vanilla pudding with most of the whipped topping (you'll be saving some of it to use on top the dessert). Cut the angel food cake into bite-size pieces (about 1 inch square). Layer the ingredients in the bowl - angel food cake, pudding mixture, and fruit (reserving some fruit for the top), and continue layers until the bowl is full. Decorate the top of the bowl with reserved whipped topping and fruit.

Variations: You can vary this by making it with any type of cake (brownies and pound cake are both good, though not really healthy), and flavor of pudding, and any kind of fruit. My favorite way is with traditional angel food cake, vanilla pudding, strawberries, and blueberries. I've also made it with chocolate angel food cake, chocolate pudding, and raspberries - that was delicious, too.

There are so many different kinds of fruit and flavors of pudding out there - the possibilities are endless. How about raspberries with cheesecake pudding? Or strawberries and bananas with white chocolate? Or blueberries with lemon?

For more great, healthy recipes, visit whoareyoudiet.blogspot.com.

lots of stuff on my mind.

There are a lot of things on my mind lately, almost too many for just one post. But I'm going to try anyway.

  • Frederick - I went to Frederick for a long weekend to celebrate Father's Day with my family. They are all just a little bit insane.

  • Adoption - My friends Brad and Melissa just adopted Micah from Ethiopia - he's the cutest baby. And other friends just found out they won't be able to have their own biological kids, so they're looking into adoption. And still more friends are looking into adoption - so I've been thinking about adoption a lot lately.

  • Crazy Love - We're starting a new study this summer, using the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan, and I'm so excited about it. More on that later.


102 - that's the temperature it got to yesterday. And I spent a good portion of that day outside at Harborfest, working at one of the beer tents to raise money for ART. Unfortunately, because it was so hot, Harborfest wasn't nearly as busy as usual, so business was slow, so I was pretty bored. Still, we needed to have a certain number of people there, so I sat, and chatted a bit, and sweated a lot.

If this is any indication of what the weather is going to be like this summer, I may need to consider moving farther north. Like back to Chicago. Or, you know, Alaska.


Things that made me smile today:
  • The creative name my cousin has chosen for her new baby, that my father will never be able to pronounce correctly
  • The old man on the bike beside me at the gym, just plodding along
  • When I told Scooter to stop chewing on my shoe, and he turned around to try chewing on Harvey's leg instead
  • The sign at the library advertising their new building under construction, that reads, "We want to be well stacked"

challenge (week three).

We're well into our third week of the Extreme Weight Loss Challenge, and I'm finally starting to see results on the scale. In fact, I've taken to weighing myself each morning, first thing after I get up. I've heard (I think Heather read some where?) that daily weigh-ins help you lose. For me, its a daily reminder of my goal, and its helping me to see more clearly the way that certain habits, behaviors, and times of day affect my weight, so I'm less stressed out by the changes.

Anyway, I'm down 4.5 pounds, which might not seem that remarkable, until I tell you that I lost 3 of those since Friday. My body had a little bit of catching up to do, I think.

I'm comfortable with my routine when it comes to work outs and food, but in less than a week, I go to my parents' house for a visit. Heather calls it the lion's den, at least in terms of eating healthy and being active. Luckily, I'm making two meals, and we're going out to eat once, so that will help.

i might have written this.

I've been reading through my old journals, as sporadic as they are, and finding all kinds of interesting things. I found this dated October 12, 1997 (my sophmore year of college). I can't remember if I wrote it, or I copied it (I didn't note a reference, and can't find any reference of it online).

I can't see. I CAN'T SEE.
I try to look towards the light,
     to function normally,
and I can't.
And I'm empty - what can I do?
Inwardly I cry out, "Why?
     Lord, God, I can't see!"
And then His answer comes,
          bringing with it peace and comfort,
"My precious child,
     then look to Me."