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new studio and other odd stuff

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So….  one night a couple of weeks ago, Steve and I were talking and I told him I dreamed of having my studio in our large front room.  He asked why I didn’t go ahead and do it.  “well”, I said, “many reasons: it would be pretty selfish of me to put my stuff in the best room in the house; we’re supposed to have a dining room for when people come; my studio tends to get really messy and the front room is the first thing people see when they come to the front door”.  And that’s just to name a few reasons not to make our front room into my studio.  He looked me in the eye as I talked and when I was done, he asked again, “why not go ahead and make it into your studio?”  He said he would put a sign up on the front door that said “If you don’t like our mess, go away”.!!!! What did I ever do to deserve this man?

So…. a week later, we were playing furniture shuffle.  We moved the sewing room stuff into the dining room, then the toy room into the sewing room, then the studio up to the toy room and the dining room into the old studio.  Are you tired yet???  I am so excited I cannot express myself well.  The only new thing we had to purchase was one wire basket and a countertop that Steve built into my new sewing counter/table:

studio blog (640x480)   studio1 (640x480)

The picture on top is what used to be the dining room.  My sewing counter is the exact height I wanted and my sewing machine is dropped down to the perfect height – my husband is a genius!  The counter is 10 feet long so it’s plenty big to wrangle a large quilt while quilting it. It’s hard to take good pictures of the windows, but there are 3 large 4 foot windows across the front of this room and my sewing machine is centered under the middle one. The small table under the far window is my desk.

The  second picture is what used to be the toy rom.  There are still a couple of toys that are too large for any other space upstairs.  I’m pondering moving them downstairs, but Kiyah is only 3 and too young to play down there by herself.  The tall table is my cutting table!  It’s the perfect height for cutting!! The longer table under the window is an extra space for a friend to come play with me or for me to spread out when I have more than one project going at a time.

I am soooo thankful!  Now to finish organizing the last of the studio stuff and turning that room into a dining room. Everyone I know thinks I’ve lost my mind because the dining room is downstairs. Honestly, we’ve only had company come to dinner a couple of times over the past year.  I sew almost every day of my life.  We can walk our plates down the stairs a few times a year in exchange for me having this lovely place to play!

glass dish (640x480)

For my last birthday, I told the kids I wanted the gift of time. I want to spend time with them, that’s all.  I don’t need another “thing” and if I really do have a need, I usually go out and buy whatever it is.  This small glass bowl is my gift of time from Rachel.  She found a Living Social deal and bought us a class from Art in the Dairy.  We spent an evening playing with glass.  I took a long slender piece of glass made by someone at the Dairy and I cut it up into small pieces and tried to create a woven effect.  Then I took some odd pieces of red and yellow glass and made a flower in the center.  I really wanted it to be offset, but the glass kept shifting around and wouldn’t stay put so the flower is in the center.  We left our creations for about a week while they were fired in the kiln and then got to pick them up.  I love this small happy dish.  It’s only about 4 inches across, but it makes me happy and it reminds me of a lovely evening spent with Rachel!

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This is a small baby quilt I made years ago (maybe 15???) It was originally done with crayons in a workshop taught by a local gal.  She promised that the crayons would be permanent, but after I washed it the first time, all I had was the quilted outline of the various designs I had drawn.  I was so disappointed.  Well, in the process of moving my studio, I ran across my Pentel Arts Fabric Fun Pastel Dye sticks.  I sat down this afternoon and I colored in the designs and set them with my iron on high as per their instructions.  I’m excited to have the quilt colorful again.  It wasn’t made as an heirloom – it was made to put on the floor for babies to look at when on their tummies.  Here’s hoping Peter will like it when he comes next week!

And the last thing I wanted to tell you is about my food journey.  I have to confess, I got really lazy over the past week. I was getting bored with the recipes I had been making and didn’t have the inspiration to go looking for new ones.  I kept saying to myself, a little change here or there won’t make a difference…  You know, a little sour cream on my taco salad that was supposed to be low fat; or that lunch of banana and peanut butter (can you hear me groan??? I LOVE peanut butter!!!!); and maybe a bit more sugar free ice cream than I really should be eating.  ‘just because it’s sugar free doesn’t mean it’s calorie free’!!!

So after 10 days of playing loose and fast with how I was eating, I got on the scales and I gained 1/4 pound.  It’s not a lot and I’m not surprised, but it was my wake up call to be more diligent in being creative with my meals.  Let’s face it, creative meals take time. A LOT of time!  I have to sit down with the computer or the recipe books and actually find something that appeals to me, THEN I have to go through the groceries in the kitchen so I can make a list of what I need, THEN I have to get dressed and go to the store to get what I need, Then bring it home, put it away, pull it out and chop it and baste it and saute it….. And the dishes?!!  Geez!  I haven’t washed so many dishes since the kids were teenagers!  Everything is from scratch and everything takes time. And I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve made extra so I would have a ready made lunch the next day to discover that Steve ate an extra portion or took my lunch to work because it looked better than his!

So now that I’ve moaned and complained a bit, I’m here to tell you I’m back on track.  I’ve eaten what and how I’m supposed to eat today.  I almost did yesterday, but that tablespoon of peanut butter just jumped on my spoon and into my mouth before I could stop it!  :-)

I’m off to the kitchen to soften cream cheese, warm up eggs, and make a mess:  Taco pie is on the menu for supper tonight and I’ll be making Lemon-Blueberry muffins for this week’s breakfasts and snacks, and I’m making a cheesecake for after dinner deserts.

Want to know more about how I am eating?  Check it out here:  Trim Healthy Mama!

Creatively yours,

surprised myself

Yesterday I crossed the 6 week mark of having no sugar in my diet.  Not only am I surprised, I am overwhelmingly grateful that I have met this milestone in my journey.

Yesterday was also a small family gathering at my nephew’s house. His parents (his dad is my husband’s brother) came up from Florida for a couple of days to see them and invited us to spend the afternoon with them yesterday.  They all know I am gluten-free so they had made special efforts to make sure I had gluten-free food to choose from.  They do not know about the “sugar thing” as it is sometimes referred to by friends and family.  I had taken a large green salad that I knew I could eat plenty of ‘just in case’.  I also made a Cake in a Mug for myself so I would have something for desert when everyone else had theirs.  I’ve learned it makes people very uncomfortable to eat in front of someone who is abstaining for whatever reason.

So, what surprised me? How did I surprise myself?  Well…  They have a small cake with raspberry filling, a fruit tart covered in fresh berries, and home-made chocolate chip-oatmeal-peanut butter cookies out for dessert. What surprised me was my immediate reaction to all of it.  I walked by the counter with all the offerings and listened to all the “oohs and Umms”, but none of it looked the least bit enticing to me.  Normally I would look at the stuff and start with the “woe is me” and “Oh, I wish” kind of thinking.  That kind of thinking really does make one feel like a martyr and sort of like the world is being unfair.

None of those thoughts and none of those feelings were part of my experience.  Instead of food being the center of my joy and happiness, I found that I was concentrating more on the people around me. I actually enjoyed watching them enjoy their feast.  I got my Cake that I actually took the time to put icing on, and I sat and enjoyed it immensely.

It’s a baby step, but in some ways it felt like a huge Giant step towards sanity.

You know I stay away from the scale for the most part,  but I also think it’s wise to step on once in a while just to see if everything is tracking. I mean how disappointing would it be for me to think I’m doing this right only to find out I gained!  If I gain, I need to know so I can re-think and adjust what I’m doing.

Drum roll please:     I’m down 17.2 pounds this morning.

My struggle at the moment is hanging on to the positive of losing 17.2 pounds.  It’s easy for me to start thinking negatively about how no one can see the weight loss; no one has noticed that I’ve lost the weight.  I can’t tell really in my clothes.  I mean there are a few things I have from last summer that I am wearing that I didn’t wear last summer. But for the most part, my clothes are all new as of 1 – 2 weeks ago.  I gave away almost my entire wardrobe and only have the things I look and feel good in. (well, except for those things I “need” for playing with the kids or relaxing beside a pool or walking around Carowinds.)

So…. I begin today, a Monday, the first day of this week, with a sigh of pleasure.

Creatively yours,

Salads and Stevia


I am getting tired of salad.  I’m finding the easiest and fastest way to eat a healthy lunch is to eat a salad.  But really, how many bowls of green leafy stuff and chicken can one person eat???  One of the things that makes it so hard is that most salad dressings have sugar in them.  I’ve GOT to find some dressings recipes!!!  BUT, I have to tell you, I had lunch with my friend Liz yesterday and she fixed salad for us for lunch (remember?  fast and easy!).  It truly was delicious! She added berries and pecans which perked up the flavor, but what I want to share with you is the dressing!!!  She said, “I have Balsamic Vinegar for you”.  My first thought was ‘ugh’, another salad with Balsamic Vinegar.  But Oh My Goodness!!! She had the BEST Balsamic Vinegar I’ve ever eaten! (the vinegar is called 25 Star) And several different infused Olive Oils that were to die for! My salads (see that s???? I ate 2 plates of salad yesterday and actually wanted more!)  She told me about a small local store in downtown Mooresville where she buys her oils and vinegar:


It’s called The Enchanted Olive and it’s amazing!  It’s in a small downtown storefront, that looks like it is an original building. It’s open and airy and has tank after tank of oils and vinegars.  They have small cups for customers to taste the different offerings.  I tasted several before I made my selections.  They have various sizes of bottles you can fill to buy.  Please take the time to check them out!  Truly it was an enjoyable experience and I have a few different oils and an amazing Balsamic Vinegar to add to my salads and to my roasted veggies! Oh! and they also have organic, Non-GMO spices and gourmet sea salts at great prices!

On another note, I have to share with you something I missed entirely in my haste through the grocery store this week.  I’ve switched to Truvia as my main source of sweetner.  It’s Erithrytol and Stevia – all natural, no artificial stuff, no impact on blood glucose, and it actually tastes good.  It comes in several different packages at the store:


Me being who I am, believed all were the same product, right?  WRONG!  See the large bag in the back?  It’s different from the rest.  All the packages in the front are Erythritol and Stevia.  The large bag in the back is Erythritol, SUGAR, and Stevia.  Yikes!  I saw the bag and thought, great! An easy, convenient way to buy Truvia.  I got it home, made some muffins and they were sickeningly sweet.  I couldn’t figure out why.  Until I read a post by someone talking about Truvia and they said to beware of the Truvia Baking Blend that comes in a large bag. They said it contained sugar.  Sure enough.  Wow!

Thought I’d pass that along for any of you who are trying to cut sugar out of your diet.  I’m telling you, it’s everywhere! Even in the alternate sweeteners we are trying to use!

On that note, I found another blog written by Lauren Benning:  Healthy Indulgences  Lauren has formulated a Truvia-like sweetener recipe.  I’ve been reading on the Trim Healthy Mama forum that a lot of people are completely satisfied with the recipe and have made the switch. Yesterday,  I ordered the Erythritol and Stevia recommended by Lauren and THM; I’ll let you know how it works out for me.

So, I am now at 5 1/2 weeks of being sugar-free.  I’m loving the balance I’m finding in my eating patterns.  I still get hungry, sure. I’m human. But, I’m not finding myself wanting to eat for the sake of eating or for the taste of something sweet.  I don’t really think about food unless I’m truly hungry.  Pretty amazing.

Creatively yours,


Woot! One month!


I hit a milestone today.  When I woke up this morning, I woke up sugar free for ONE MONTH!

I will tell you that this has not been an easy achievement. I will also tell you I haven’t beaten sugar.  The siren is still there. The dream of sweetness on my tongue resides in my head. And I have to tell you, now that I’m not eating or drinking the stuff, I am more aware of how it is all around us – everywhere!  I cannot leave my house without being confronted by it:  flavored coffee creamers or flavorings, candy bars, ice cream and frozen yogurt shops, soft drinks in every check out line….

I will tell you the first couple of weeks were tough.  My head ached nonstop. Nothing helped.  I took Advil, Tylenol, even resorted to the prescription pain meds I have for migraine.  NOTHING stopped the headache.  I knew the whole time a Coke would make it go away.  It was tough.   My joints ached.  I was walking like I was 102.  I was stiff and clumsy especially when I had been sitting. Even if I had only been sitting for a few minutes.  The only thing that brought even minor relief was to put muscle rub on my legs and wrap them in a warm blanket. As long as I was still, they wouldn’t hurt. As soon as I got up, it was hard. It hurt.  The muscle/joint pain has only disappeared this week. And I was CRABBY!!! CRANKY!!!! and basically not a lot of fun to be around.  Steve is a trooper. He put up with my mood swings knowing they were coming from a place of withdrawal.

I’m fortunate. Those are the only two major withdrawal symptoms I had.  In the past I’ve had gastric upset and vertigo. I believe the supplements I used helped with some of that.

Today I sit before you still battling the siren in my head. But, my desires are slowly changing.

I wanted to share my triumph today.  It is a battle won.  I realized I am still fighting the war.

Creatively yours,




small success

I’ve managed enough ‘stolen’ minutes (hours) in my sewing room to get all the diamonds done for the center stars of the tablerunner.  I still have a bunch – maybe 15?? to make for the background.  THEN I will begin the tedious process of sewing diamond together. I’ve never had success with the process, but I’m willing to give it another try.  I’ll definitely post pictures.  Not sure when I get to play again – maybe this Saturday.

On the other subject I’ve been talking about lately:  I am 4 days shy of being one entire month without sugar (except for that swallow at the restaurant last week!)   I am feeling a strong sense of accomplishment. I’ve actually come to a point where I prefer my coffee with just half & half. The first couple of weeks I was putting Xylitol or Truvia in it, but now, I actually like the taste better without sweetener.

This past Monday I was at 22 days of being sugar free and following Trim Healthy Mama ‘religiously’.  I woke up HUNGRY!!!  I mean RAVENOUS!  I wanted carbs and I wanted some fat to go with it. I ate a proper “E” breakfast thinking the carbs would help. But nope!  All I could think of was pizza and ice cream. PIZZA AND ICE CREAM!  So I did some rationalization and told myself a cheat now and then isn’t so bad when I’m committing to the long term goal of health and food management. So I went to the grocery store and found a Gluten Free pizza with uncured pepperoni and no sugar added.  BINGO!  And even though I’ve sworn off Splenda, I found an ice cream made with Splenda that had a very low sugar content (coming from the milk, I’m sure) and brought 2 cartons home (they were on sale!!) :-0

Want to talk about heaven???  Oh my goodness.  That pizza was heavenly. But I was full after only 3/4 of the small (5-6 inch) pizza.  Then I waited to see if that would satisfy my craving.  NOPE!  So I got the carton of ice cream out and I’m not ashamed to say I took the carton to the living room with a spoon and I ate to my heart’s content.  I didn’t eat as much as I would have a month ago when i was eating regular ice cream.

So I splurged but it was on two things that I was craving that were not sugar.  My primary goal when beginning this was (is) to avoid sugar to get my insulin levels under control and hopefully avoid that Diabetes diagnosis.

I couldn’t help myself this morning.  I weighed.  As I approached the scales (my arch enemy) I kept repeating a number in my head that I would find acceptable for the ‘sacrifices’ I’ve made this past 3 1/2 weeks.  Wow!  I was pleasantly surprised!

In 26 days, I’ve lost 12 pounds!  wow!!!   I know the first week or two you drop a lot, and this amount won’t occur again in such a short time, but I am feeling really good about myself today.   Not for the weight loss – I didn’t really do that.  What I did was commit to eating a certain way and I stuck to it.  Even in my ‘cheat’, I stuck to my sugar free status.  AND I got up the next morning and never thought twice about continuing my plan. Once those cravings were satisfied, the leftover pizza and the ice cream in the freezer no longer appeals to me.

So that’s where I am today on my Creative Journey.

Creatively yours,


Posted on

Good morning! It’s a beautiful day on the lake.  The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the winds are calm.

I spent some time in my sewing room this morning!  I was at the NC Quilt Symposium last weekend (I really need to blog that!) and started a table runner in one of my classes.  It was a log cabin diamonds class taught by Flavin Glover.  I’ve never done this before and it is proving to be challenging for me. I love that!  Usually I come home with class samples or the beginning of projects that never get touched again. I really do like this one so I worked on it this morning:


I’ll have to post about the Symposium and again when this table runner is done.

The other subject that caused me to title this post as “Joy!” is concerning my sugar-free journey.  I had lunch yesterday with a friend. I ordered tea and while I thought I said “unsweetened”, I can’t swear that I did. The tea came and I took a swallow… IT WAS SUPER SWEET! I set it aside and next time our waitress came over I asked her to change it for me. I didn’t give it a lot of thought at the time, but told myself that was something outside of my control.  “It’s Life”.

What surprised me is the cravings that hit all afternoon and evening.  I posted yesterday that I haven’t had the cravings and haven’t need the L-Glutamine much.  wow!  That one sip was enough for me to start thinking about a Coke; a candy bar; and Ice Cream!  I ended up taking 3 doses of the L-Glutamine to help me over the cravings. But my success is that I did it.  I did not succumb to the cravings. I was able to take the supplement and drink water and tell myself the cravings would pass.  And they did.  It did help that I took the time to make a small “legal” chocolate cake with icing for my  desert last  night.  (One of these days, I’ll get on my soap box and tell you why I hate referring to foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’.)

Joyfully and creatively yours,

Musings on health

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SO…. last November I was told my Insulin levels were high.  Not surprising since I have PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome).  What concerns me is that the Insulin level is indicative  of Insulin Resistance.  Insulin Resistance can lead to Diabetes.  We have a very strong family history of Diabetes.  Connect the dots and look into my crystal ball and what you see is me being told I have diabetes in a few years.  That is the fatalistic point of view of course.

So being who I am, I started reading more in depth and talking to people who know nutrition.  My diet is fairly ‘clean’. I eat organic and Non-GMO whenever affordable and available.  I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I’ve been Gluten Free for 4 years (I am highly sensitive, but that is another story). My downfall? my weakness?  Sugar.  ANYTHING sweet!!!!

I grew up having dessert 3 times a day!  Jelly on my breakfast biscuit, cookies for lunch, and cake for dinner. Most snacks were  sweet as well: Jello, Kool-aid, cookies…  I’m told by my mom that she started feeding me food at 3 weeks! She said she tasted my food and added salt and pepper to the savory things and SUGAR to all the fruits!  Yikes! No wonder I love and crave the stuff!!!

I’ve read that sugar lights up the brain in the same way Cocaine does.  There is a great debate going on between the ‘foodies’ about whether sugar is addictive. One side says absolutely – look at the brain scans!  The other says it is simply a matter of self control and willpower.  I fall within the camp that says it is addictive. It is simply impossible for me to have a little sugar.  IMPOSSIBLE!  I’ve tried. For years!!  I’ve tried to wean off; cutting back a little here and there. One teaspoon instead of two in my coffee, only one cookie instead of two… well, that lasts all of a few hours and I’m bingeing on ice cream and candy bars.

I’ve tried to cut it out cold turkey. Wow! The side effects of that can be horrible!!! Since November I’ve tried no less than 5 times to go cold turkey.  By the third day I am nauseated, my head is pounding, and a couple of times vertigo hit so hard I could hardly walk across the room.

I was pretty discouraged. Diabetes on the horizon and I was seemingly unable to cut the sugar back or out.

Then I got an email.  Out of the Blue. From someone who knew of my struggle.  It was an article about going sugar free and this naturopath suggested a few supplements that he said would help.  I was intrigued so I did some more reading. Pros and Cons, side effects, etc. I became convinced they were safe to take and I bought them.  Oh my goodness!!!  It was a miracle for me!  Please, please, please do not try this on my word alone! I am not a doctor and I cannot give medical advice!  Do your own research. Check with your doctor to be sure this is ok for you! but this is what I did

Sam-e 400 mg in the morning

5-HTP 500 mg at bedtime

L-Glutamine when I had a sugar craving.  This one sounded crazy to me, but it really did work. When I started thinking of sugar and thinking about some sugary snack I really wanted, I took 50mg and drank a glass of water.  Within 20 minutes I found myself busy with something else and the sugar was completely forgotten.  I was so skeptical, but it really did work!

He said the supplements wouldn’t be needed for long and he was right.  I am now on day 18 of being totally sugar free and I think I’ve had one dose of the L-glutamine this week.

I also changed my diet to one that is higher in protein which I’m sure is helping as well.  Simple carbohydrates turn quickly to sugar in our blood stream so I am avoiding them.  I am eating complex carbs – do not be alarmed about me eating some crazy way!

I will keep you posted but I wanted to share my small success.


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