Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Learning Book Making

 I really need to spend less time with screens and more time walking and getting other things done around here.
One thing I'm doing is making books. Exacting, frustrating, and anxiety causing projects but a satisfaction beyond measure when done!
I am having trouble keeping up in class. I have a book art project due already. I've only just got all the stuff I need. It is conceptually cool involving AMWA (The American Medical  Women's Association) and using pages of The Petticoat Surgeon.  Let's hope the execution works well! I will try to have good photos when it is done.
I just finished my hardcover with spine and three pamphlet stitched signatures book. It's not bad for a newbie. Everytime I make a cover I learn how it could be better. Despite using stacked copies of JAMA, I still drilled a couple of small holes in the kitchen table. Cal still insists on using the phone book so I could not repurpose that. Time to get some wood putty for repairs!

Staying on track with weight loss

I'm good for a few days - then...
Right now I'm good. I stick to my diet program. I'm a bit off track with the exercise part. I still do a few regimens regularly and am getting back into the routine with other activities. My neck is always an issue, but that just means I have to be careful in what and how much I do. At ant rate, exercise is only about 20% of the solution. I did get to exercise for 20 minutes today as you see from the gym clothes outfit in this late night shot in my ever-so-messy craft room
A birthday dinner and a charity event this weekend will test my resolve when it comes to food. My strategy is to use high protein low-calorie meal substitutes and limited food choices, trying hard to stay away from my favorite high calorie, high-fat treats, and meals. I measure and weigh everything and weigh myself daily. I'm a fan of Spark People. com. If you listened to episode 56 of The Digiscrap Geek Podcast you know I'm also a fan of Here's a link if you are interested in trying their meal delivery service - Try Sun Basket.The meals are above my 250-500 calorie limit but not by much, and they are healthy and quick to prepare. It is regrettable that Cal hates green leafy vegetables. (It's like having a little 83-year-old kid around.) I appreciate the good nutrition and three cooked dinners a week, each between 500-790 calories. So, not too far past my ideal calorie intake and I try to plan my day with that in mind.
Cal does cook some healthy meals; but, his tastes run to more fattening, less nutritious options; and, on occasion, I have to say no. I know, I've said that I cannot cook, but the individual recipe cards that come with the Sun Basket meals are detailed enough to make food preparation pretty simple. I think Cal appreciates the fact that I cook, though I do notice the leafy greens in the bin.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Lots Going On

Today is an exciting day. I'm the featured guest on the podcast Shift The Story with Beca Lewis It was a very enjoyable interview experience. Check it out here When you have to let go of something you love
Several people, my husband included, have remarked on my being the busiest retired person they know. I am busy but think there are likely many who are busier, though I have said I'm not taking on any new projects more than current plans until March 2017.
I do have some plans for a new podcast venture and hope I can share those soon.
The Digiscrap Geek is on hiatus until Carrie can return and make some decisions that are needed for that podcast to move forward.
I did feel a bit overwhelmed with my studio art classes, but my City College professor was very reassuring about my ability to catch up. I got so hung up over-doing things right that I lost sight of having fun. I'm back on track now! It is fun to learn the processes in intaglio printmaking and bookmaking. They are time demanding, not physically challenging classes and I do seem to get fatigued these days. Ceramics is usually relaxing for me, but my professor is a bit tense about the class. We are making murals for the art court. I am happy it is a team effort as my physical limitations would present difficulties. I cannot throw anything well with my neck the way it is; but, sculpting tiles in bas relief is enjoyable.
I promised more about my wonderful summer vacation in Europe and am including a few of my photos with this post. These are pictures of an actual canal house I visited in Amsterdam. What is fascinating is that when the wealthy folk of Amsterdam had these, constructed it was a custom that a beautifully detailed model of the house would be a wedding gift. The detailed models cost as much as the home itself! I've also included photos of models found in museums.

Here are some photos of the miniatures of a canal house of the time

Sunday, September 11, 2016


It's been mad, wonderful and scary in my life right now.
Healing from my surgery is coming along but had me exhausted. I had to get ready for a trip to Europe and fatigue made that tough. The travel happened, nonetheless. I did not get the last episode of The Digiscrap Geek Podcast edited before I left. It is done now and sent to Christy for posting.
The trip was fabulous! Got a cold the last two days of the journey which laid me flat on our return. Then allergies set in and now Cal is home finally from the convalescent hospital and continues to recover from emergency surgery. School has started; and, while that is fun, may I say I'm a bit stressed?
I have plans for a new podcast but with everything going on, I'm delaying those plans.
Thus, the title of this blog entry!
The flight to Europe was long but better than I had anticipated. Travel always makes my neck problem flare. The incisions were not much of a problem; likely, because of the forced limited mobility.
Air travel is difficult in these times but there are no realistic options when you need to get a third of the way around the world. Cal traveled business/first class but still hated the flying.
I attended the Medical Women International triennial congress in Vienna, Austria as one of the US delegates. It was a good meeting. The best part is seeing old friends and making new ones.
We explored the area around the University of Vienna, founded in 1365.) Cal was not up to much walking, and I was busy with meetings. We knew we'd be back; so, limited exploration was okay. As it turns out, the area we were at was not part of our subsequent trip, though we drove past and it was referenced. I'm glad we explored that little corner, it's beautiful. The conference organizers bused us to two splendid evening dinner events, so we saw some of the larger city on those trips. The University itself is fascinating, I loved the busts of famous scientists lining the corridors of the courtyard arcade. Maybe we'll see some women scientists featured in the next 600 plus years? Votive church nearby is beautiful, and Cafe Landtmann (Freud's favorite) is as good as the guidebooks say.
After the meeting, Cal and I took the train to Budapest, Hungary to board a Viking longboat for a 15-day river cruise on the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers. Viking does a spectacular job. I have a tip for anyone contemplating one of these cruises. If you want one of the add-on excursions, book it on-line before the trip. You can sign up on board, but if fewer than 15 people sign up for the add-on, the add-on may be canceled. If you book on-line, even if you are the only one who wants that add-on, the excursion will be honored.
So, of course, you want to see photos! I will include a few with these notes and I will try to add small posts about parts of the trip over the next few weeks. There is still a lot going on at our house; so, we shall see.
Cal near Votive Church

Interior Votive Church

MWIA Congress

University of Vienna

Cafe/Pastry shop near the meeting

More photos Votive Church

Monday, July 18, 2016

Post Plastic Surgery, though not yet fully healed

 OK, it has been four weeks since my last surgery. I am tired. Cal shakes his head and says, “In the past year you’ve had work from your knees to your eyes. Don’t you think it’s normal to be tired?”
It has been a lot. Has it been worth it? Yes, a thousand times yes.
I still have pain, just a little from the procedures and, of course, the chronic pain since arthritis and the cervical neuropathy are not going away, though the injections I got this past year have been helpful in managing the pain. all the procedures have either improved the quality of my life or just made me feel better. Maybe, if I had no pain, I could weather the changes that come with age better? We’ll never know.
Still, plastic surgery is a big step and very expensive; though I see my retirement money disappearing more from a bad world economy and a managed fund, I am questioning, than I do from my spending.
Some procedures I had this past year were not elective nor plastic and were covered by my insurance. Not all the work, and I'll not detail each and every medical procedure, was for vanity. Even my eye procedure, done by my plastic surgeon, as the Kaiser doctor did not think it necessary; in reality, was needed. My vision has improved so much with everything looking brighter, the world looks lighter, and I’m not bumping into things like I did.
In general, I love my Kaiser providers. My outside care folks are my dermatologists at Laser and Skin Surgery Medical Group and my plastic surgeon, Dr. Hugh Vu in Stockton. I could not be in better hands. The beauticians I’ve seen have worked wonders too with Lani at California Concept keeping my hair great, Kim of Stunning Skin by Kim doing my eyeliner tattoos, and Melissa at The Lash Addict attaching the eyelash extensions.
I also appreciate the folk at Curves where I modify the exercise a bit to work within my pain limitations. My belly dancing is more like stumbles than dancing, and Fatima of Fatima's Bazaar is wonderfully patient. Of course, I cannot make all the moves and sometimes need to sit and rest. It’s not about perfection or being a great dancer, though. I’ve often said my Pilates instructor, Robyn Naymick-White, at Time To Be Fit, is the reason I am not in a wheelchair. She has been working with me for six years, incrementally adding fitness to my life with kindness and patience. She watches my neck like a hawk. I know she’s a major force behind getting me to try Kaiser Weight Management for my weight loss and for getting me to check into having my knee repair. She has encouraged me through so many of the choices I’ve made.
I will post a photo of me in something like a bathing suit when I am fully healed. I visit the RealSelf site, but I cannot bring myself to post nude photos or reviews there. My doctor took enough clinical pictures that I can go back and reference if I need to do so. I did become mildly obsessed with RealSelf before and just after my surgery. I’m glad some folks are narcissistic, anxiety-driven, or just trying to be helpful and reveal what they looked like before, during and after their procedures. I found the site fascinating and helpful, though occasionally scary.The incredible obsession with each and every detail that many of these people had is unbelievable. They worry about every 25cc of their implants and the most minute details of the surgical procedure. I cannot imagine that level of obsession. Still, the site gives a lot of good detail on the mysteries of plastic surgery. So glad to have found folk I trusted who I felt would give me the best functioning knee, the best pain relief and the most natural body improvements they could and let them do it. Heavens! Even my hairdresser knows the most I will say is the hair length I’m aiming for and maybe whether or not I want to avoid extensions for a few months. Otherwise, it’s “fix it.”
I am thankful for modern medicine. My surgeon and I discussed how amazing it was that there was so little pain after his last round of four major procedures at once. (Tummy tuck, breast lift, and implant revision). He said that 20 years ago I’d have been hospitalized for two weeks following all that. I did not remember much about 43 years ago when I had my breast surgery, but I do recall a lot of pain.
Even with a course that was relatively easy, I’m impatient. I want to finish healing and have my energy back.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Weight Loss Journey

I've been on this weight loss journey for a few years and have been doing well. Of course, the lifestyle changes I've made have a huge impact on my health both physical and mental. One thing I've discovered is that it can be stressful to weigh significantly less than one has, just like being obese is stressful. I had not imagined that would be the case. It's difficult to accept the changes that come with aging. Adding the droopy skin that comes with weight loss can take a toll on self-image. However, I do not advocate putting on weight or staying heavy to avoid wrinkles. The drop in blood pressure and the increase in mobility that accompanied my weight loss are nice benefits and those benefits are of immeasurable value.
I had mentioned in my last post that I was contemplating a tummy tuck. Now I have made the commitment to do it. I spend time over at the Real Self website. I am not sure if that site makes me more nervous or less nervous about the procedure. I do see that a high percentage of folk who have plastic surgery done are happy. Folk with adverse outcomes, actually folk who did not get the exact result they wanted even when surgery objectively was very successful, are extremely vocal. I hope that my expectations of surgery are more realistic than those. Not every operation I've had done has been exactly to my liking, but I think all has gone well, and my friends say the results are excellent; and, as I honestly evaluate the procedures, I'm delighted. Dr. Hugh Vu in Stockton is a very accomplished surgeon. I also like the skin care treatment I've received from Laser & Skin Surgery Center in Sacramento.
I mentioned the weight loss journey earlier, and it is a "journey." I seem to follow the profile of the typical person involved in a diet plan. I hesitate to use the word diet as the emphasis is on lifestyle change, not a temporary "diet." Spark People is a resource I've used, along with my Kaiser Permanente weight loss program, to help me towards my goals. The coaching track at Spark People is superb. As I was saying, there does seem to be a pattern people follow. At first restricting calories, feeling confident, gradually increasing exercise, getting overall more active and making exercise a part of every day, and then a focus on making not just low-calorie choices but healthy ones. I'm at that point now. I love the good food that I am cooking that I've ordered from Sun Basket. Lots of vegetables and so many new tastes, too. I started researching in my Joy of Cooking cookbook to find the location of pages with recipes for all the tasty seasonings; maybe I'll even learn actually to cook. I like to think that following the explicit directions on the Sun Basket meals is real cooking, but it is rather scientific, like baking. I love all the flavors that the chef at Sun Basket assembles. Urfa Biber? You know the dinner table was a spot full of laughter as Cal and Joe's sense of humor awoke over the name of this delightful pepper flavor! I am discovering all sorts of new recipes and flavors I had not tried before. Perhaps, out of this savory adventure, some cooking skills will emerge; and, I'll have a few "go-to" recipes.
As I looked this blog post over, I realized it told part of my story. Telling one's story was an assignment at Spark Coach today. I've come a long way. My physical and mental health were shattering around me six years ago, and I've been picking up the pieces. This path is difficult and even painful at times. Nonetheless, this journey to health is a great adventure. I suppose I will post before and after photos, though I want to go through my files and erase all the "Fat Karen" pics. Still, they are a good reminder of where I do not want to be. I also realize that a lot of current pictures are not full body shots. I'll need to get some. I do have this photo taken when I'm playing on the floor with my grandson that gives a pretty good idea of where I am now.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Inspiration and Encouragement.

 Salin Designs Recorded
Fonts: Brannboll F, Traveling Typewriter

Challenge from Scrapalicious Group at modified with template: GIS templates Emily Pitts, Make it Mean; Kit: Destinations, Blagovesta Gosheva; Paper Clip: More than all the Stars, Two More Days; Frame: Piggy Bank, Studio Dawn Inskip Fonts: Traveling Typewriter, Bebas

I have mentioned Spark People as a site I use to help me manage my weight. It works very well to document my daily food intake, exercise and progress. I like the support from the Spark Coach program at the site. Spark People is free and Spark Coach costs $50 for a year, then $9 per month.
It's been very helpful.
One thing I discovered recently is a scrapbook group , "Scrapalicious", on the site. Monthly challenges that have pretty liberal guidelines. I like that. Fun to make a page without having to struggle!
It's helping to increase my creative efforts.
I've posted a couple of the layouts I've made for the challenges so far.
So, help losing weight and a group to push me to more productivity in scrapbooking.
A winning idea!