Gretchen’s cute when she looks back…

I’m really not up for a traditional look back.  2011 wasn’t a bad year, but there were some really tough spots that I’d have to acknowledge if I look back, month by month so I’m not doing that.  You’re free to look back if you don’t remember the highs and lows…

Instead, I’m going to finally do that “Chanformation” post I’ve been toying with since I heard the phrase in September.  When I bit the bullet and signed up for Weight Watchers Online last December, I didn’t have a goal weight, but I had a host of support and knew it was time to reclaim the fit form that had always been so much a part of my life… except for the roadblocks and hurdles illness and injuries that changed everything.

“Chanformation” sounds ridiculously pretentious when I use it, but one of my dear friends coined it, a mutual friend loved it and shared it with me, and… it fits.

DSC_0644To get the full effect, we have to go back to September 2010.  This photo was an eye-opener for me.  Yeah.  I’m on the right, front.  Yes… for the sake of this post, I picked the LEAST flattering of the photos from that day, but it is important to be a little raw and honest here.

I was out of shape and overweight.  I lost a few pounds in 2010, even before WW, but given my stressful January, the weight slid right off.  No, I’m not going to talk pounds.  I will tell you that I’m now wearing sizes that are at least half of what I was wearing in that photo.  I have always weighed more than people might think, in part because I have what I hear is a coveted hourglass figure, a fairly large frame, and thanks to a very active youth, more muscle mass than a lady should mention!

182223_527163608368_62700009_31009426_3115506_nBecause I wasn’t happy with the gal in the mirror, there are no more photos of me until February.   Again, not the best photo from all that I have of that night, but it is a rare full-frontal view of me.

Note a couple of differences not totally related to weight/shape…  Granted, I had a fairy godmother who loaned me a dress she knew would flatter me, but regardless of how I fell into it, above you see me in drab colors that don’t necessarily do much for my own coloring.  This blue dress was good for me and to me, so while I wasn’t having a great hair night, it’s better than the flat, uninspired cut in the first photo.  I’d started to think about style again.

200458_832121060576_1503827_46043887_5921390_nFlash forward about five weeks, and you can see me really emerging, or the real me pushing her way into the world.  I should note that the creator of the word “Chanformation” is the tall beauty on the far right in this photo, and on my immediate right in photo #2.

Did I mention that a fabulous support system sustained me throughout this process?  There’s a reason you rarely see me pictured alone.  I have some of the best girlfriends this world has ever known.  I also have to note too that while they supported me when I decided to focus on my health and weight loss, they were quick to stop me and say kind things if I did wallow in self-pity in the months, even years, before I was ready to take charge of my … situation.

November 2011 004We have to shoot straight forward to November to get a photo of me at my goal weight/size/shape/fitness level.  I hit my goal weight over the summer and have maintained it – plus or minus two pounds – ever since.  The highlights arrived in late June and are here to stay.   New glasses – two different pairs – showed up before that too.

The “Chanformation” still isn’t complete.  I’m much more active and fit again, and heck, I have to confess that I no longer hate shopping.  But there’s always room for improvement.  I had to replace basically my entire wardrobe, from undergarments to outerwear, and some pieces still need to be upgraded, altered or replaced with something other than a stop-gap bargain.

Even my feet shrank a half size.

photo.JPGSissy is an uncompromising personal trainer, and I thank her for that, but I still need to find balance and get more yoga time in on a regular basis.  I also need to figure out how to get a good night’s sleep more than a couple of nights a week.

The next step I know I need to take is with cosmetics.  I’ve used one brand pretty much exclusively for about 15 years, but it’s time to change.  I’m not much on “war paint” as my father used to call heavy daytime makeup, but I do need more help re-creating the even skin tone I never quite took for granted but am losing anyway, and I need SPF, moisture and anti-aging protection in absolutely everything!

As usual, I have a question for you.  Are you loyal to one brand of makeup and/or skin care?  Or do you mix and dabble and try the hottest new products?  See…  I was a Mary Kay consultant briefly in another life, and they taught that one risked rather cynergistic results if she mixed and matched from different brands…  I have mildly sensitive skin to begin with, so I don’t need chemical reactions happening on my face.

Do you know The Cosmetic Cop?  It’s a great resource for all things beauty-related.

On that note, we’ll call this post, this year, DONE.  May 2013  2012 bring you peace, love and joy.

(I really am excited about the promise of the NEW year.  I didn’t mean to wish 2012 away!)


Clearly, I’m going to carry 2 finished object reports into the New Year, along with a handful of UFOs – unfinished objects.  I was hoping to do one of those FO reports today, but I don’t like the photos and have already worn the item enough I need to make a minor repair, wash & block and try again… 

Anyway, our TV somehow decided that if I wasn’t going to watch Charmed re-runs yesterday evening, I should watch Phoebe – er, Alyssa Milano – on an infomercial.  It was for Wen hair care.  I’ve watched Wen on QVC and other infomercials before, and I’ve always been curious… but not convinced enough to pull the trigger. 

November 2011 003

A nice, frizzy example of my hair, ALMOST left to its own devices

Whom among you is a Wen girl?  I have fine hair, but a ton of it.  It is wavy at heart, but it’s long enough now it’s behaving… most days.  The problem is, my roots get greasy, and I’m not having any success with dry shampoos.  I’d like to not wash my hair every day, especially in the winter when my skin is desert-dry anyway.   Between color enhancement and heated styling, the ends are dry, so again…  I’d like to wash it less often.

December 2011 011

Good/healthy hair day

I also have a sulfates problem, not just because of the color I’d like to preserve.  I keep telling you, we live in podunk.  In this case, that means we have a well (three and three abandoned sites, but who’s counting?!) and a septic system.  The septic has had to be pumped once in my 16 years there (three days after the new heat pump was installed rather emergently, of course), and I’d like to get another 16 years out of it or more before we pump again.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m hoping you have input.  While I adore Phoebe/Alyssa, I prefer fewer degrees of separation on recommendations.

Walking into 2012

Happy Thorsday, little friday, Thankful Thursday and nearly the end of 2011.  Thank you for all of the support offered up for Hope’s family yesterday.  I know they appreciate it.   A special note of thanks to each of you who shared very personal experiences with me.   I value our friendships and truly can’t express how much your support means.


Could I be a good race-walker? Probably not, but I wanna' try!

Gretchen has a great post from her perspective on 2011, but I’ll get to my own look back eventually…   In the meantime, I’m hoping some of you can help.  gMarie and a local friend of hers are planning to do a 5K every month.  My sister asked me to do a 10K with her in March.  While poking around this morning, I discovered that the local 5K on Saturday is dog-friend.  After the Yappy Hour debaucle, I’m thinking maybe Sissy would like to “race” with other dogs and their owners?

Anyway, my question is…  are most races open to walkers?  Anyone else doing  a race every month?  Where can I find them?  I don’t need advice on training… I ran cross country in high school and have done several 10-mile walks over the years.  I just need to know how to find walker and possibly dog friendly events.

What are you thankful for today?

12 Days of Christmas Controversy

The alternate title for this post could be holiday hangover.  Someone used that recently, and I totally identify with the phrase!  While I adore all of the friends, family, food and festivities, the hustle and bustle of the season wears me down.  We still have three celebrations to go.

So, the controversial part.   Growing up Catholic, I knew the 12 days of Christmas as December 25th – January 5th, with the Christmas season being proclaimed OVER with the arrival of Epiphany on January 6th.   However, I know Amy counts in the opposite direction, with December 25th being the 12th and ultimate day of Christmas.    I’ve seen it done that way elsewhere, but Amy is the one who clearly pops into my holiday hungover head.


A friend's coveted Christmas pin

It doesn’t REALLY matter.  In the grand scheme of life, I’m positive we’ll all still have holiday festivities from Thanksgiving into the New Year most years.  I’m just curious and love a good discussion.  I also really enjoy hearing how others celebrate and why.

I know some pack up the decorations when they throw out the boxes and wrapping paper on December 26th.  I know gMarie doesn’t even bring her sweet live tree in until Christmas Eve.  Others honor superstitions and traditions and get all of Christmas out of the house (so to speak) before  the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.   How does it work at your house? 

I have a final update about a family I’ve mentioned from time to time.  There’s a new star in the sky or another Christmas angel to watch over us all.  Some of you may remember “Hope” from a couple of years ago.   (No, I couldn’t find the original post where I explained, but… here’s one mention.)  Since I have a few newer readers…  “Hope” was six when she was diagnosed with a rather aggressive cancer.  The prognosis was never more optimistic than driving the dread disease into remission long enough for a cure to be found, and we’ve known for a few weeks that there wouldn’t be another remission this time.  Yesterday, that sweet, strong angel lost her fight.


Poppet, knitted for Faith by gMarie

Her family appreciated all the knitting, goodness and prayers that were sent her/their way over the course of her struggle.  I’m asking now that in whatever way is meaningful for you, that you lift them up so the universe can hold them together through a VERY difficult time.   I’m especially worried about “Faith”, her younger sister, who has lost her best friend…

We didn’t know Hope as well as some, but we were blessed to be on the receiving end of her goodness and light, her smiles and laughter.  She’s touched SO many lives and I have no doubt that she’s already watching over us, smiling and wishing we’d stop mourning and get on with living and loving, and spreading goodwill and cheer to each other.

Be patient with us, sweetie.

Christmas tunes, cookies and paper cuts

Just a quick post as I procrastinate a little longer before diving back into my Christmas Eve tradtion of baking and wrapping and piping Christmas music throughout the house…  The Knight and a friend are out doing their traditional Christmas Eve shopping, so his presents will be the first to get wrapped.  That same friend always has Chinese for dinner with his family and watches “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Chrismtas Eve…


My favorite Nativity... even if it doesn't have a basset

What traditions make the holidays special for you?  I count on the chocolate in my cuticles and the Christmas music to get me in the spirit… and yes, I always waited until the last minute to write my term papers too.

Merry Christmas!

PS – Gretchen has her own take on my Christmas Eve morning routine.

Tree huggin’ holiday?


Sissy fall 2008 by Anita

Happy Thorsday, little friday, Hanukkah, almost Christmas, Thankful Thursday and… anything else I forgot.  Yesterday, I learned that hugging a tree is one way to celebrate the solstice.  Immediately, I thought of one of my favorite photos of Sissy, taken by her too busy to blog these days  Auntie ‘Nita in 2008.


Gretchen 11-2008

Turns out Gretchen’s been snuggling up to trees since we got her too!

For Thankful Thursday, I’ll share a couple of bloopers from our Christmas card photo shoot.  You can see the version I actually used on the girls’ blog.

December 2011 002

That’s one of my favorite bloopers…  it really kinda’ sums us up well.  I’m behind the camera, trying to set it up so I can put the camera on the timer and race to join them, Gretchen is worried about what I’m doing, Sissy is   showing her   doing her own thing and we’re all plucking the Knight’s only nerve.

The hydrant?  Yes, we posed with the hydrant.  The Knight is very proud of his hydrant and I’m just shameless enough to stage the holiday photo by the RED hydrant to make it a little less painful for him.

December 2011 007

This one makes me laugh too.  Clearly, I didn’t rush enough and there’s nothing happy about it, is there?

December 2011 010

This one was the best of everyone… except Sissy.  Someone suggested I should have used it anyway, because… well… at our house, Sissy marches to her own drummer and does what she wants.

Regardless, we hope your holidays are filled with laughter and love.  We wish you peace and joy, now and always.  I’m so thankful for each and every one of you and the thoughts we’ve shared here and there.  I’m thankful that 2011 had more ups than downs… but we’ll talk about that later, maybe.

What are you thankful for today?

Longest Night

The winter solstice actually happens at 0530 tomorrow.   That’s good news, because dusk has been dictating when we end our doggy walkies of late.   Louise does the best posts, blending history and tradition and lore… 

October 2010 003

Still waiting to be plied...

Frau Holle would be angry at my home then.   The fiber on my wheel is almost two years old and has been spun on two different wheels.  Hem.   (Actually, I can’t even find a photo of the fiber I’m STILL spinning… oh well.)

While my heritage is exclusively English, Irish and Scottish, I enjoy learning about other traditions.  I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of Frau Holle before and find it amusing that I found her, not through spinning or knitting, but through a friend’s food blog.  Of course, Louise’s regular readers know it’s MUCH more than a food blog, and I happen to know that her housemate is an avid crocheter…

Several of my friends celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.  What do you celebrate this time of year?

Weary Dreary

Cloudy, overcast day with sad news this morning.  Both of my friends with dogs battling cancer lost the fight earlier today.   To combat the doldrums, I offer you fur-girl frivolity.

December 2011 002It’s a horrible photo, but true to form, Sissy took the small sheep (?) squeaky Amy sent to the girls, and the wee Gretchen Greer took the bigger plush bone.

No, Sis isn’t destroying the toy.  She just likes to squeak it and keep it from Gretchen. 

December 2011 004Again, sorry the pictures aren’t fabulous, but these were their first Christmas presents and they were eager to have them and had NO interest in posing and humoring me.

Thanks, Amy.  My fur-kids truly appreciate that you thought of them, and I do too.  You chose well!!  Gretchen keeps both toys in the bedroom, so they’re treasures evidently.

December 2011 012Now to get you giggling…  MJ bought Christmas outfits for her grand-dogs and demanded photos immediately.  Sissy’s party dress was a VERY tight fit, but she humored me and stomped around in it for a few photos.

I couldn’t do the velcro across the front, and maybe that helped… at any rate, Sis didn’t mind it too much.

December 2011 005Gretchen got a CUTE little red parka.  She likes coats to just cover her ribs, so she LOVED this one and pranced around in it.  It helped that her Dadaw showed up and cooed about how pretty they both looked…

Of course, Gg wanted to wear the fancy frock.  It was rather large on her, but she didn’t seem to care.  Sissy told Gg to consider it hers; SHE wasn’t wearing it again, not even for Grammie.

December 2011 015

Do you dress up for the holidays??

Bake, Wrap and…


Glittery Gerbers from MJ

Something’s wrong. 

Wait.  Back up.  In my former life, I always had it together and was never caught unprepared or rushed at Christmastime.  You need to know that, because that’s why my still pinches like new shoes that are too small habit of being a last-minute everything Christmas gal is so uncomfortable that you have to hear about it over and over.

Hem.  Anyway.  It seems that after I finish up a surprisingly short shopping list tonight, I’ll just need to bake and wrap.  How ’bout that?!  It’s not my former glory where I did cards while I watched the parade on Thanksgiving morning, but it’ll do.

So.  About that baking list…

There are the traditions:

  1. Nannie’s orange balls – I actually have my grandmother’s recipe, and yet, none of us are surprised that hers were different.  She was known for holding back a step or a secret ingredient… Hem.
  2. Grandma Vallie’s strawberry cake – One of the Knight’s grandmother’s recipes.  I now make them in cupcake form so it’s easier for everyone to take the leftovers home.
  3. Fudge.  My own recipe… sorta’.  A co-worker’s grandmother pointed me to the back of the right marshmallow creme jar…
  4. Cheese straws – out of the JL Bristol cookbook, because yours truly would rather have savory than sweet most of the time…

And the oooh, shiny!!  temptations I have to try this year:

  1. Pampered Chef’s chai something cookie
  2. Something gingerbread (but soft… I only like SOFT gingerbread treats)
  3. Probably something else chocolate… maybe a brownie or bar cookie?

Do you have any recipes that just make Christmas for you?  Will you share?

Pets and Presents

Happy Thorsday, little friday and Thankful Thursday to you.  Gretchen has a silly little post for you over on the fur-girls’ blog…

Me?  I want to know if pets impact your present choices.  They do for me!  In our family, the pets give and receive Christmas presents, and when I wrapped up my hostess gift for last night’s fete, Gretchen insisted that I needed to take something for the canine host… so I did.  (Don’t tell her, but I’d planned it all along.) 

I should have thought to snap a photo of the debonaire Sarge for you… but I didn’t.  He’s a very handsome, friendly airedale.  He and Sissy both love the treats I found at Land’s End, but Gretchen isn’t sure about them just yet. 

Do you have any unexpected sources for dog or dog lover gifts?   Since I’m positive the Knight doesn’t read my blog, I’ll also share that I found a great line of dog-themed “-opoly” games.  (Disclaimer – I’ve never done business with the vendor I linked to… that’s just where I found an on-line representation of the selection of breeds.  I found the games at a local pet boutique…)

Thankful Thursday?  It’s a bullet list kind of day:

  • Hostess-friend who knows what I’ll want to drink without asking
  • Cute dog-host who opens his own gifts politely
  • Doggy personal trainers who don’t care if it’s raining or dark and don’t cut me any slack
  • My supportive husband
  • ALL of my girlfriends
  • Pretty wrapping paper
  • Ribbons
  • Friends & relations who don’t notice the dog hair in the tape on pretty packages

What are you thankful for today?