Italian Riviera Mini Album

I’m sharing another mini album with you today. I made this one several months ago for my mother, and gifted it to her for Christmas. (I’m not sure she knows exactly what to do with it, as she generally keeps her photos on her phone.). Once again this is from the Heartfelt Creations paper collection, this one is called Italiana Riviera, and it has a very purple theme, my moms favorite color (I think). We had some difficulties making this album, especially the gate that you will see around page 10 or 12.

I’m really enjoying the crafting of these mini albums, they are a great creative outlet for me, especially as I’m not an artist at all ( I can’t draw much more than stick figures!) but if I cut and paste carefully (hello, kindergarten!) I can create a thing of beauty.

Some of the tools that I have acquired, and spend money on are Scor-tape, and those amazingly strong neodymium magnets. Follow the links and you’ll see where I get them.

Here’s the album. Hope you enjoy it!

Weight Loss on Atkins

Like most women, I have adopted the desire to be thinner. Thinner than what? is not the question, I just want to be thinner. Thinner than I was, thinner than I ever was before, thin enough to fit comfortably in my clothes – thinner.

[I know that many people thought I was already at a healthy weight for my frame, but I didn’t feel healthy. I felt fat. And how you feel about yourself is so important. It really doesn’t matter what other people say, you have to look in the mirror every day and like yourself. So please don’t judge me by where my weight was – in fact, when someone is fairly close to their “ideal body weight” it actually is harder to lose weight.]

It doesn’t really matter where you start. One day you look in the mirror and decide, enough!! This happened to me about 9 months ago, when I was planning a spontaneous weekend getaway with my husband. Lucky for me, he was game to go on my weight loss quest with me, and adhere to whatever ridiculous scheme I had concocted (this time!) to lose weight. Weight loss is a constant struggle you see, and I tend to yo-yo between about 130-135lbs. But I was well over 140lbs at this point (how far over, I didn’t really want to know) and I had decided that drastic measures were required. We decided to try the once popular “Atkins Diet”, and embarked upon our weight loss journey around Memorial Day, by having one last DQ Blizzard the night before.

We decided to go on 30gms of carbohydrates a day. According to the Atkins plans, you can either do 20 or 30gms daily for the first two weeks, and since, at that time, I didn’t want to give up my morning meal of a Greek yogurt on the way to work (15-17gms right there), we chose 30gms daily. The first three days have got to be the worst. I remember coming home from work thinking I just needed a cookie! and my husband tossed me a few baby carrots (bless him!) which helped me make it through the night. When I woke up on day four, a miracle occurred: I suddenly didn’t really need carbs anymore. At two weeks, it was so easy to keep ourselves to just 30gms a day, that we decided to go for three weeks. And when I stepped on the scale: I was down to 135!

Fast forward to today. I’m at a steady 122/123lbs. I’m never hungry, and I’m still energetic enough to swim 3500-4500 yards 3-5 times a week (about 60-75 minutes per day) and work out at the gym 3 times a week (60-90 minutes per day). I love my new body!! I love my new found self confidence! This is definitely going to not be a “diet”, but rather, a way of life.

Catching Up on How I Measure Up

It’s been a few months since my last post, and if anyone out there is actually following me, I’m really sorry, but I’ve been busy, busy, busy!

For some looney reason, I decided to make scrapbook albums for all the sisters in my family for Christmas gifts this last year. So in September, I got started. Each book took me about three weeks, as I could only work on them in the evenings after work, if I had any energy left after my day (which generally begins at 4:30am), and on the weekends. (If you count the cost of all the paper, embellishments and supplies, you would probably spend about $75, so if you see any of these on Etsy going for $100-$150, now you know why!!). I’ve fallen in love with Spellbinders die cutting, and Heartfelt Creations scrapbook paper & their die cuts as well.

This is a nice creative outlet for me, and I feel like it is really pretty hard to mess up. I’ve found some tutorials on You Tube via Pinterest which got me launched actually several months ago, and I’ve really grown, and have now started (eight or nine mini-albums later) to come up with creative ideas of my own, so I’m not simply copying others work. Although I must remind my mentors, that copying someone is the highest form of praise.

As I said, it’s kind of hard to mess up with scrapbooking. Unlike cake decorating, you can almost always correct a mistake, and there is a good chance no one but you will ever know. When I make cakes, it is easy for me to see my mistakes, and I will have to turn the cake “just so” or strategically place a flower or ribbon to disguise my error. Gumpaste and fondant are actually not very forgiving.

So here is the scrapbook I made for one of my nieces. I don’t really have any stills, other than of the cover, so please just follow the link over to You Tube to see the entire book. Any feedback would be appreciated.


I was introduced to Biorhythms by my father, when I was in middle school or high school.  As Biorhythms are calculated with a mathematical formula, my fathers interest was understandable, he was after all, a mathematician. My obsession with them defies logic – I am neither a mathematician, nor an aspiring fortune teller, but I check them frequently enough that I “know” when certain of my rhythms are “up” or “down”.  According to facade, biorhythm cycles map our emotional, physical and intellectual proclivities throughout the month, and these are based on our birth date, with the intellectual cycle lasting 33 days, the physical cycle lasting 23 days, and the emotional one for 28 days (whether you are female or not).

“The numbers from +100% (maximum) to -100% (minimum) indicate where the rhythms are on a particular day. In general, a rhythm at 0% is thought to have no real impact on your life, whereas a rhythm at +100% (a high) would give you an edge in that area, and a rhythm at -100% (a low) would make life more difficult in that area. There is no particular meaning to a day on which your rhythms are all high or all low, except the obvious benefits or hindrances that these rare extremes are thought to have on your life.”

So right now, I am in the middle of what my husband and I jokingly refer to as “Dastardly Days” – meaning that everything is “down”.  (When everything is “up” we call this a “Triple Wicked” – not sure why.) I had sort of been anticipating these days as I had intentionally entered a 7 mile swim for when


everything was projected to be “up” on October 28th.  (Unfortunately, due to a horrific hurricane season, this swim has been canceled this year.)

Having suffered from melancholy most of my life, I have found my biorhythms at least, to be uncannily accurate in the emotional cycle.   If I have a really bad weekend and I go back and check what my biorhythms were that weekend, I almost invariably find that my emotional cycle was in “down” mode.  I haven’t been very good at anticipating the downside of my emotions, only in looking back retrospectively, because I believe that I actually do have a significant amount of control over my life.  At least I have control over how I behave, or react to a given situation.  Nonetheless, if I have been feeling especially morose for seemingly no reason at all, once I’m over it, if I look back, yup, my emotional biorhythm was down.

The last few years however, I’ve also been sort of tracking my physical biorhythm, to see how accurate it is.  I find that it only has a very small effect on my performance in the gym or in the pool. However, if my biorhythms are down in emotions AND physical components, then I might as well stay in bed – or at least not even plan on being competitive.

I have learned that the days projected are not exactly accurate – they may be off by 7-10 days – the physical cycle at least.  The emotional cycle for me, is dead on.

So it is interesting to see what has been happening in my life the past several days.  I seem to find fault in everything, feel critical of everybody, and want to bark at idiots on the road, co-workers, and even my family members.  Knowing that my biorhythm is in down mode and that I am just about to move past it is helpful, because I can tell myself to hold my tongue for just a few days.  I’m more apt to get a second opinion from a co-worker rather than make a snap decision on something that is less than routine – to be on the safe side.  It’s incredibly gratifying to note that my performance in the pool and gym are not “down” even though the chart says they should be.  It will be interesting to see how things are in two weeks when I’m having a “triple wicked”.  I’ll let you know.



What Exactly Is Considered Athletic?


via Daily Prompt: Athletic

When my oldest child was in elementary school, we put her in synchronized swimming.  This is a much more difficult venture than one might suppose.  You might think of yourself as a good swimmer, a good ballerina or gymnast, but, can you do all your tricks while upside down, holding your breath?  Probably not.  One day when my sweet girl was in her PE class, her PE instructor advised her that swimming was not a sport, and thus, Christa was not athletic. Seriously?  I think this has bothered me for over 20 years now.

How many “athletes” in other sports can swim at all?  There is a joke that goes something like this:  If you put a swimmer on the field at football practice, he might come out of it bruised and sore, but he would be able to do what was asked of him, and finish the practice.  If, on the other hand, you took a football player and put him in swim practice, in many cases it is questionable whether or not the football player could even finish one length of the pool, let alone a two hour practice.  So it seems to me that the term sport, or athletic, must have been dreamt up by those who play with balls – footballs, basketballs, soccer balls and tennis balls.

I would like to put forth the radical suggestion that the term “Sportsman” is not accurate either. After all, how sporting is it of mankind to hide in the bushes and shoot lethal bullets at unsuspecting deer or other animals? And how athletic does a person have to be to shoot a gun?  I’ll admit that there is a certain amount of skill to shooting straight, consistently catching fish, or using a cross-bow, but I don’t that that makes a person “athletic” nor do I think it makes them “sporty”.  Therefore we should have another term, don’t you think?  Hunter works for me.  Fisherman or archer work as well, but not sportsman.


To be considered athletic, one is generally considered physically active and strong; and good at sports and must be able to use physical skills (or capabilities) such as strength, agility or stamina during the sporting activity.  This then, includes swimming (and synchronized swimming as well) as sports that would qualify someone as athletic.

So yes, Christa, you are athletic, and you do participate in a sport.  No matter what the ball boys say.




They look athletic to me.

Fondant Fantasies – Part 1


I decided to branch out a bit in the kitchen. I’ve made a few fondant fish, and maybe a teddy bear or two, but this week is all about elephants.  Baby animals are the cutest!  Unfortunately, baby animals, of any kind, have a larger head compared to their body size, and this means a little bit more fiddling with your medium (fondant) while it is drying, so it will retain the shape you want.  I got lucky, and found a soup ladle to use to help hold the head of my elephant for a little while during the drying time.  We had to redo the head once or twice – once because the trunk was kinda skewed, and then again because we decided it looked too much like an adult elephant, and not enough like a baby elephant.

It’s terrible to say, but I am glad that I’m done with this cake, because I have scrap-booking plans in the wings that I am eager to get to.  Sad, because I spent several days working on it.   I had already decided it had to be a baby elephant, but I couldn’t just cover the top and sides with elephants, so I thought I’d add some little banners, and after a minor mishap decided I also needed some “buttons” to cover up a little booboo.


Here’s where I started this morning – see how the cake with the stripes very stupidly doesn’t have stripes going across the top?  Not sure what I was thinking when I did this, so the buttons were to create a border.  I made 60 of them (cake circumference was 29+ inches, buttons about 1/2 inch diameter).  The cakes are 9″ and 6″, and about 4″ tall.

Then I realized that my little elephant really needed touching up, so I added a bow to the back to cover up another imperfection.  Funny how much trouble a simple bow was, I ended up cutting out a template to get it right.


Then to make things REALLY exciting, I forgot to take the dowel rods with me & my sweet husband had to bring them to me before I could set it up – which unfortunately was about a 1/2 hour late, since the customer changed the start time of her party from 1pm to 12:30, and didn’t tell me!!  Here’s how it turned out when all was said & done.  (Be gentle with your comments please!  It’s been ages since I worked with fondant & the cake surface is not what I used to be able to do.  I have a lot of practicing to do, to get back to the perfection I was used to.)


Now I can get started on making those scrapbooks!!



Is Everything a D#$% Race?

Dryland-Tip-How-to-Improve-Ankle-Flexibility-for-SwimmersYep, that’s the question.  So, I go to the pool every morning and get some laps in.  I have a small group of fellow swimmers, mostly triathletes, who also swim at the same time, and we do workouts together.  (We are all in our 40’s & 50’s by the way.) We love it when we get “new blood” to join us – because it mixes it up, and half of the reason we swim is probably a social thing.  About a week ago, a young man, about 23 years old, recent college swimmer for Florida State (read: FAST) decided that he would come out of retirement & start swimming with us, so he could continue to eat the way he likes to eat (a LOT).  I think he thinks he’s Michael Phelps!!  Seriously – he even races his way through the warm up!  He kicks like a fiend, hits the wall after each set sounding like he’s seriously out of breath, and the rest of us are wondering, why are you swimming with our group?  I mean, really?  We are all at least 20 years older than him, and much slower, so wouldn’t he be better served by working out with people closer to his own speed?

I was feeling seriously demoralized yesterday morning.  I hadn’t realized how much harder he was working than the rest of us until yesterday, as he had been a couple of lanes over.  It really messed up my mojo.

You would think at my age, that I would have learned by now to stop comparing myself to others – to compare myself only to my previous accomplishments – and the clock.  But I don’t.

Actually, I think that is part of being a competitive person.  We want to win – thus we compare our speed or performance to those around us – that’s actually how we measure our improvements as well. What we don’t need to be doing, is beating ourselves with a stick if we fall short. Someone said “A flower doesn’t think of competing with the flower next to it.  It just blooms.”

So, I’m going to try to make myself “bloom” more.  Because I’m bloomin’ slow!!