Archive for the ‘Top Tens’ Category

How it’s going

Right at the beginning of my new resolve, I had to take a trip with two of my daughters and one of their friends, stay in a hotel, and occupy myself during a ballet competition I did not need to be at the whole time.

Did I pig out?

I am happy to say, I spent the time wisely, considering my new plan.  Traveling with budding ballerinas helped.  They didn’t want to eat anything “bad,” so we brought healthy snacks and meals for the hotel.  Here’s what I traveled with:

In the cooler:

string cheese


almond milk

baby carrots

hummus (A little tip… hummus will eventually get all gooey and icky inside due to the ice melting in the cooler and water seeping in.  Only bring hummus if your hotel room will have a fridge.)

In the grocery bag:

almond/rice crackers

almond butter


oatmeal packets

protein bars (the kind with more protein and less sugar)

tea bags

a bit of dark chocolate (I promised to be good… never promised to give up chocolate entirely.  It has antioxidants, after all!)

Lastly, we brought a case of bottled water.  I still had to buy another one!  Ballerinas and dieters get thirsty.

I also brought workout clothes and tennis shoes.

While the ballerinas were rehearsing, and I did not need to be at the theater, my elder daughter and I entertained ourselves.  There was a wonderful riverwalk, so we walked!  Nevermind the temp was in the 40’s that day… five minutes into it I was comfortably warm.  We also used the workout room.  That, plus a lot of incidental walking on the trip helped me not only to move and burn calories, but to feel great.  The last day, we walked around at a street fair, soaking up the sun at a whopping 72 degrees.  (Florida in January is so unpredictable!)  I’m a firm believer in getting one’s Vitamin D, so this was an added benefit.

Outside the hotel, and on the road, I made the wisest choices I could at restaurants.  Asian chicken salad at chick-fil-a (order it with grilled chicken and leave out the friend wontons… do add the salted honey almonds, though!).  No soda!  Not even diet… just water or tea with meals.  I had already kicked the soda habit, so that was easier.

I feel like I’m losing weight.  We’ll see on Wednesday, when I’ll have my first weekly weigh-in.  Check back then for celebration or consolation.

Posted on January 7th, 2014 by DaisyMuse  |  No Comments »

New beginnings

“Take another one, I don’t look fat enough!”  I have never before said that to a photographer!  But here I am, beginning a new journey and writing about it as I go along.  So I had my husband take a “before” picture.

Like many people, I’ve made resolutions before… mostly about diet and exercise, since that’s the issue I struggle with the most.  I have been successful in losing weight in the past, but not for years now.  So I thought maybe, as I begin this new year, I could write about it as I go along, like a journal, and have you follow along with me.  Scary?  Yes!!

A little background in pictures:

Me at 23, at my wedding.  So skinny!:

Me in my early 30’s, at my sister’s wedding.  It had begun to be really hard to keep my weight down.

Me now, in my 40’s (this is my official “before” picture):

(I turned completely sideways at first, but we had to retake that picture, too, since I looked 7 months pregnant!)  Without a lot of excuses or whining, in a nutshell… I can’t eat as much as I used to!  It’s a hard, cold fact that I am one of those people who has to eat less, and watch WHAT I eat as well.  (Confession:  I never had a great metabolism, and even had to watch what I ate in my 20’s… it just worked better then.)

Sometimes I read articles about people who’ve lost 100 pounds, and they talk about how they used to sneak whole bags of potato chips and cartons of ice cream.  I’ve never done that!  I overeat at times, but so do some of the skinny people I know (I observe them with envy!).  Cookie dough is my biggest weakness, which is why I don’t make cookies often.  But overall, with age comes a slower metabolism and lifestyle modifications must be made.  I want to look good, but I also want to be healthy and fit.  I should probably note my starting weight, but I just can’t put it into print.  Let’s just say, I’d like to lose 60 pounds total, at least half of that this year.

Here’s a little about my first day:  I woke up this morning determined, and came downstairs to make breakfast.  As I rounded the corner into the kitchen, there they were, staring me in the face… absolutely delicious peppermint-chooclate cookies from last night’s New Year’s celebration (did I mention I love peppermint-chocolate anything?!).  I was tempted to eat just one, with a little glass of milk, along with my healthy breakfast.  That would keep my blood sugar from getting low between breakfast and lunch, I reasoned.   Somehow, knowing I would write about this very scenario kept me from giving in.  I quickly stashed the cookies in the microwave (along with some other treats I will not be eating), and made sure my skinny 14-year old knew where they were.  Then I made homemade oatmeal and added applesauce, 1 T half and half, cinammon, 1 t brown sugar, and a drop of vanilla extract.  I followed up with a banana.  That, plus my morning coffee, was breakfast.

My goal is to look closer to the middle picture than the top one.  I think we set ourselves up for failure when we set our goals too high.  That was my 23-year old self, and yes, I loved being that thin… but that time is passed, and being a healthy, happy wife and mom is my goal now.  Thanks for reading this!  I hope we can encourage each other on a journey to a healthy body, step by step.

Posted on January 1st, 2014 by DaisyMuse  |  No Comments »

Ten Things I Love About the South

It’s hot right now. And humid! And just, well, icky outside. Makes me miss my northern California days, where we had to wear a sweater sometimes in July. So, I’ll try to focus on the positive… here are ten things I love about living in the South

1. Fireflies (thanks, hodgepodgemom, for reminding me!) Before my early twenties, when I first entered the land of Dixie, I didn’t know these creatures really existed. Yes, they sounded really neat in books. But I truly thought they were fiction! Imagine my utter surprise when, one evening, sitting on my future husband’s grandparents’ porch in North Carolina, I saw a flash of light. What was that? Another one! And another! These things certainly were real, and I found myself mesmerized by them.
2. Iced tea. This was the answer to cooling off, combined with a front porch ceiling fan, before air conditioning. For me, not too sweet. I order it half sweet, half unsweet at restaurants. That makes it just right. Or better yet, half unsweet and half lemonade.
3. Old people. There just seem to be more of them down here! I wanted to know the secret…how do they live so long? Surprisingly, none of the sweet, elderly people I know are vegans or run three miles a day. But the vast majority of them have made gardening a regular practice for their adult lives. Hmmm… that brings me to #4….
4. Gardening! It’s just the thing to do down here. I’m growing zucchini, tomatoes (2 kinds), green peppers, cucumbers (I think… I planted one but I can’t find it), peas (first time), basil, rosemary (which won’t STOP growing… anyone want some?), thyme, oregano, zinnias, and sunflowers. What are you growing?
5. College football. It’s just not as big of a deal where I’m from. Down here, it’s all people think about from… whenever college football season is. I don’t really get into it, but it’s fun to watch everyone else make fools of themselves for their team. I did pick a team… Auburn. Not because they won the national championships last season. Because everyone else around here is crazy for the Georgia Bulldogs, and I like to be different.
6. The accents. No one from California has an accent. At least, my mom and I didn’t think so until a lady at my church asked my visiting mom where she was from. Upon hearing “California,” the lady responded with “Oh! Ah thought ah detected an ac-cint!”
7. Church suppers, and food delivered in times of need. It’s just beautiful seeing women rush over with something special they baked just for that new mama, or neighbor who just had surgery, or friend who’s not feeling well. Nothing says love like good old-fashioned Southern cooking!
8. Sundays. Truly a day of rest, not a guilty pang at all for taking a nap!
9. Thunderstorms. But only when I’m inside and there are no tornado warnings. NOT when I’m in a metal canoe in the middle of the Blackwater River miles from the end of the route! (But that’s another story.)
10. The Gulf of Mexico. Sorry, Pacific, but this wins for best swimming ocean. It’s as warm as a bathtub and calm as the Pacific should be, given it’s name.
These are some things I love about living in the South! What are some of yours? If you have special recipes to share, please do!

Posted on June 9th, 2011 by DaisyMuse  |  6 Comments »

“In the Good Old Summertime….”

I’ll come right out and say it. I just do not understand homeschoolers who do “year round school.” (Although I certainly respect their right to do it!) I NEED A BREAK!!! While mothers with children in school may be saying, “Oh no, three days until summer…the kids will be home all day!” I say, “Oh yes! Three days until summer… no more pencils, no more books, no more”… well, you get the idea.
My brain is frazzled from planning, teaching, keeping schedules together, driving this child to this activity and dropping another one off at another activity…

“Oops, what time did I need to pick you up?”; “Did I pay that bill?”; “It’s three o’clock and I haven’t given you your spelling test yet!”

We will be taking off more than 2 months and enjoying it! But we won’t just be stopping school for a while and replacing it with other activities. Yes, some of my daughters’ lessons will continue through the summer, one will attend camp, and two will continue to work as much as possible, doing housecleaning and babysitting. You won’t, however, find me taking on extra responsibilities or spending large amounts of time finding things to do outside the home. I have enough to do already!

Summer is a time to slow down, relax, and enjoy my family. I am home with my children all day, year-round …but I am also standing over them, telling this one which math problems to do and another one that if she doesn’t finish all her schoolwork and chores she will NOT be attending ballet class tonight, and checking and grading their papers and tests. Just for these couple of months, I will be spending more time “playing” with them. We will get out and enjoy the season!
So, what are my “Top Ten Favorite Things to do in the Summer?”

Read more of this post at habitsforahappyhome

Posted on June 1st, 2011 by DaisyMuse  |  No Comments »

Rainy Day…cookies and an old movie

Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in \

It’s a drab, rainy day.  This kind of weather can drag me down, until I remember it’s a great day to bake cookies and pop in an old, black and white movie!

I love black and white movies! Why? Well, here are some reasons:

Great acting! Think of those long scenes with pages and pages of dialog to be memorized, and no cuts. Those old Hollywood actors were really talented!

Virtually no cursing or inappropriate scenes!

Women wore hats and gloves! Need I say more?

Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant!

The good guy always won, got the girl, etc.

Most of all, they’re just classic! So here are my “Top Ten Favorite Black and White Movies” (Most of these are comedies with happy endings, unless otherwise noted.)

1. Bringing up Baby…Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn get into one predicament after another (Grant rather reluctantly) while trying to transport a tame leopard to the country. Some of the most rapid-fire dialog and funny lines of any old movie I’ve seen. My entire family loves this one!

2. The Philadelphia Story…More serious plot, but mixed with comedy, an Academy Award winning performance by James Stewart…and it also stars Grant and Hepburn…movies don’t get much better than this!

3. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington… classic Jimmy Stewart, “David and Goliath” type of story about a small-town man appointed to fill a US Senator’s spot who takes a stand against political corruption. This one is actually not a comedy but a drama. Jean Arthur plays the leading lady. Directed by Frank Capra.

4. You Can’t Take it With You… a little-known Stewart/Arthur film, also directed by Capra. Heartwarming, slightly corny, and sweet. I love Ann Miller as Essie, the clumsy-ballerina sister. She was actually a talented dancer in real life!

5. Another Capra/Stewart combination…everybody’s favorite Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Frank Capra reportedly wanted Jean Arthur for the role of Mary Bailey but couldn’t get her. I have to say that although Jean is one of my favorite actresses, Donna Reed did a splendid job.

6. The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer probably has the corniest plot of all the movies on this list. Cary Grant plays a misunderstood artist who is “sentenced” to date the teenage sister of the judge who condemns him. Silly plot out of the way, this movie is cute, funny, and full of great actors… including Grant, Myrna Loy, and the teenage Shirley Temple.

7. My Favorite Wife… on the day of his wedding, Cary Grant’s supposedly dead first wife shows up, complicating matters in this romantic comedy. Irene Dunne plays the first wife. Her spunky personality is the reason she’s #1 on my list of favorite actresses. The plot is far-reached, but the characters are cute and the scenes are funny.

8. Mr. Blandings Build His Dreamhouse…if you’ve ever bought, built, or fixed up a house, you will find this both funny and painfully realistic! Starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy.

9. All Fred Astaire movies have excellent dance numbers, but Top Hat is the one I’ve most recently seen, so I’ll plug for it. It has a cute plot involving a misunderstanding between Fred and Gingers’ characters, and also features the classic number “Dancing Cheek to Cheek.”

10. It Happened One Night features Clark Gable as a reporter trying to get his big break by capturing a story on a runaway heiress, whom he’s trying to “help.” Gable falls for the heiress, played by Claudette Colbert, complicating matters in what is known as “screwball comedy.” Many people list this as one of the funniest movies ever, and while I did enjoy it, it’s not as funny as #1 on this list, which I recommend you watch asap.

Now for the cookie recipe: I remember my mom making these more than any other cookie when I was little, as we always had all the ingredients on hand! The wonderful cinnamony smell wafting from the oven and hot, buttery cookies combined with a tall glass of cold milk make any “drab” day much better!


1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Posted on January 25th, 2011 by DaisyMuse  |  9 Comments »

Top Ten Things to do While Waiting

I spend a lot of time waiting, especially for my children.  Whether it’s various lessons, the dentist, or youth group, it seems each year my “wait” time gets longer.  Yet my list of things to accomplish is also long.  What to do?

I found the solution.  I grab a totebag and throw in some of those “to do’s.”  Here are 10 things I can do while waiting in a lobby, or even in the car.

1.  balance my checkbook

2.  pay bills

3.  write thank you notes

4.  catch up on phone calls

5.  clip coupons

6.  read those magazine articles I’ve been wanting to read

7.  plan menus or grocery lists

8.  fill out forms that need my attention

9.  plan lessons or grade papers

10.  read my Bible/pray

And one more thing… although I love to accomplish things and check them off my lists, sometimes the best thing to do while waiting is just sit back, breathe, and think about the One who created me, blessed me with these wonderful children, and gives me the energy to get through each day.

I will meditate on all Your work, and muse on Your deeds. Psalm 77:12

Posted on January 19th, 2011 by admin  |  6 Comments »

Top Ten Favorite Simple Pleasures

My favorite things to do when I have a little “me” time…these can be done on any budget!  Please add yours in the comments section…I’d love to hear from you!


1.  Sitting by a warm fire on a cold evening

2.  A hot bubble bath

3.  A good book (and time to read it!)

4.  A piece of rich, dark chocolate

5.  Baking cookies  (yes, I eat the dough, but I do not recommend that for several reasons!)

6.  The warm sun on my neck as I pull weeds from my garden

7.  Playing the piano just for fun

8.  Watching 50’s tv programs

9.  Paging through decorating magazines to get ideas

10. Sipping my hot morning coffee while looking out the window when no one else is up

Posted on January 6th, 2011 by admin  |  6 Comments »