Saturday, May 4, 2013

Juicing- Day 47- I DID IT!!!

I'm done.  I set my juicing goal for May 4th, I set my weight goal for 30 pounds and I accomplished both goals.  Did you hear that?  I accomplished two goals!!!
It's been very challenging, one of the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's been so rewarding.  Now that I'm done, I'm scared.  I'm worried that I'll go back to my old habits, that I'll start eating food out of boredom, stress, or just because it's there.

I discovered a few more tips that I wish I'd learned earlier:  Mason jars are the only way to go for juicing.  Spaghetti sauce and salsa jars allow air to get in and the juice has a really bad taste after a few hours.  Mason jars keep the freshness (and nutrients) a lot longer.  Another tip:  put all your juice ingredients together in a baggie so in the morning all you have to do it grab it and shove it in the juicer.  Also, add cucumbers to everything. You don't taste them and they make your skin glow!  And one last tip, when you are talking to medical professionals refrain from telling them you are "juicing."  It makes it sound like you have a steroid problem.

This week, I've started making smoothies.  I make the juice just like normal, then blend in an avocado or a banana depending on what mixes better.  It makes the drink much heartier and fills me up!
So I will continue to juice one or two times a day. I will eat a healthy dinner with my family starting with fruit and vegetables only, then slowly add in some grains.  I think I'm going to stay away from meat.  I plan to do a juice fast every 6 months or so. That's my plan.

I'm researching the best way to go off a juicing fast and I've determined that I will start slowly with fruits and vegetables only.  It's been really tempting to reward myself with a treat, to think about all those foods that were off limits and to just jump in, but if I'm trying to break bad habits, then rewarding myself with food is not the way to go!  There is a grilled pimento cheese sandwich at Buckhead that I've been thinking about for a month and a half...but I digress.  It also is helpful to know that if I don't eat something light my stomach will probably retaliate.  Lots of people have been asking me what I'm going to eat for my first meal, and it's know it's not very sexy, but tonight I will eat an apple.  Maybe I'll go crazy and eat a Honeycrisp!

Please let me know if any of you decide you want to try juicing!  I'm a great cheerleader!

PS:  Did you hear that?  I DID IT!!!

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Juicing- Day 30

I have 16 days left! 
Here's what I have discovered:

1.  I can survive without food.
2.  My hair and fingernails are growing like crazy!
3.  My tongue has a coating on it that feels gross and makes me really thirsty, which makes me drink lots of water, which is a very good thing.
4.  Beets taste and smell like dirt and there is no way around that.
5.  My very favorite juice is a Virgin Bloody Mary.  It's delicious and the Tabasco makes it seem a little heartier.
6.  Apples and carrots are too sugary to be in the same drink.
7.  I broke 3 juicers (only one of them smoked though) before I finally invested in the Breville Juice Fountain Elite.  It's fancy and sturdy!
8.  I've had two dreams about chewing food, but when you are awake and dreaming of chewing, gum is very helpful.  
9.  So far, 4 of my brave friends are juicing with me!!
10.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm actually sad that I'm almost done. I hate to be corny about it, but I feel better physically and emotionally than I have in years.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Juicing- Day 16

This is the strangest thing ever, especially for someone who loves to eat as much as I do, but this juicing stuff has been surprisingly easy.  OK, maybe EASY isn't the right word.  It has been doable.  I'm thinking my May 4th deadline is something I can do.  So here's the scoop:

1.  It takes some planning.  I need to be prepared for the day because it's not like I have a spare juicer everywhere I go.  I generally make enough in the morning for breakfast and to get through the day at work.

2.  I drink 4-6 juices per day.  It averages to about 1200 calories per day.  Basically, if I'm hungry, I drink juice.

3.  I also have a decaf hot tea every day, just to get a little warm something into my body.

4.  I go through a LOT of fruit and vegetables.  A LOT!!  I read somewhere that the majority of your juice should be veggies, so I'm cramming broccoli and/or kale into every juice I make.  I wind up going to the grocery about 4 times a week, otherwise things will spoil before I can get to them.

5.  For some odd reason I have been cooking like crazy.  I must be a masochist.  I sit and stare at my family through dinner while slurping on green juice.

6.  I've gone to a few restaurants and it was sort of awkward at first, but I just bring my juice, ask for a glass of ice and leave a big tip!

7.  That juicer is a pain in the a** to clean.  The end.

8.  The weight has been falling off me.  I have lost 16 pounds and feel so awesome!

9.  Hannah loves my juice.  Except that one experimental kind.  No one liked that.

10.  I know I mentioned it before, but the first 5 days SUCK.  It seems like there are food smells everywhere and not chewing is hard.  I had an awful headache from quitting caffeine.  But then, it got so much better- so don't give up.

11.  I worried that I wouldn't be able to get enough protein, but I did some research and found that as long as I add enough leafy greens, I should be just fine.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

I'm Juicing!

After watching the documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Paul and I decided to start juicing.  And when I say "Paul and I" I really mean we decided that I would juice.  And Paul would support me.  And by support me I mean clean my juicer, sample my concoctions, get my produce and send me texts throughout the day of smiley faces and hearts, which actually is perfect because it turns out the juicer is no picnic to clean and I require lots of supportive texts.

So, I went to the computer, printed some recipes and headed off to the grocery.  After spending quite a bit of money on strange things that I have never eaten (fennel! mustard greens! kale!) I came home determined to do this.  We had a juicer that my mother-in-law gave us that had yet to be used, so once I figured out how to put the thing together I was ready to go!

Now, according to the Reboot with Joe website, whenever I am hungry I will drink a juice.  Between 4-6 per day.  And lots of water.  And that's it.  Did you hear me?  AND THAT'S IT.  So that is what I have done.

And I have to tell you, the first 4 days were bad.  Really, really bad.  I had headaches from the lack of caffeine, I was lethargic, I was hungry, I couldn't focus, I was grumpy, and there were some *ahem* gastrointestinal issues.  The documentary had warned me that this was going to happen, so I was prepared. Even so,  I could only think of food.  All.  The.  Time.

But, then it got better.  Day 5 there was no headache, I was beginning to lose weight, I survived a party where there was cake and pizza!  I didn't feel as grumpy, and I was sort of learning to be ok with being a little hungry sometimes.  Day 5 was also the day I broke the juicer.  Smoke was coming from it and the juice I made tasted like a burnt rubber tire.  Apparently in order to juice a sweet potato you have to have a pretty heavy duty juicer and mine just didn't cut it.  So, in the role of "supporter" Paul ran out to Walmart to get a juicer of at least 800 watts.  Except they didn't have any, nor the other Walmart, nor Target.  Finally he hit the jackpot at Kohl's!  So, I'm now the proud owner of a 900 watt non-masticating juicer.
Sweet Potato Juice that killed the Juicer #1

So, here I am at Day 7.  I feel great.  I'm still testing recipes.  I've lost 11(!) pounds.  I've started back on my treadmill again.  I'm wearing pants that I haven't been able to wear in a few months.  My goal is to juice for the next 40 days (in other words until May 4th.)  It's gonna be hard.

Work fridge with my juice supply!

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Friday, March 15, 2013

The Artist Is Present

The other day I watched a documentary on the performance artist, Marina Abramovic. It covered the retrospective of her art at the Museum of Modern Art with about 50 pieces of her work, some "re-performanced" by other artists on one floor and a new piece, performed by the artist, on another.  While performance art isn't something I really dig, and her some of her work in particular is very strange, I was so moved by her new piece: The Artist Is Present.

In this piece, she sat in a chair at a table opposite an empty chair. She sat there for 6 days a week for every minute the museum was open. 7 hours a day. For 3 months. Without moving.

The public was invited to sit opposite her. Marina looked down until she felt the patron was seated, then looked up and locked eyes with the person. They sat across from each other in silence. Marina just stared at them, trying to look into their soul. Concentrating just on them.

For 2 months she did this with a table in the middle. For the last month she felt that she could remove the table and just sit with no barriers. Completely vulnerable.

At times the person sitting across from her would cry, at times Marina would silently cry. For someone to just sit, with no distractions, and just PAY ATTENTION to you is disconcerting. For some, it seemed as if no one had looked at them, REALLY looked for quite some time.

No retrospective of Marina's work would be complete without sharing the intense love story between Marina and Ulay, which began in the 70's.  They performed art out of the van they lived in.  When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.  At her show, Ulay arrived and this is what happened:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

This Girl

Today Cassie is 12.  12!  When I met this sweet girl she was 3 years old, and I can't believe how little she was.  She's always been a happy little thing.  She's my middle girl, my party girl.  Cassie finds fun.  If there is a good time to be found, Cassie is there.  She doesn't care what the group is, if it's adults having fun, or tiny kids- she's happy to join in!

She's a giggler and a BIG smiler.  Anytime there is a "sunshine" award, or a "happy" award Cassie wins it.  She's a shoe-in.  When she played soccer with her first team, the "Butterfly Kickers" she was the one out on the field giggling the entire time.  
She has always been a hoarder.  This girl saves EVERYTHING and stashes it in her room.  When she was tiny she used to make little stacks of things in corners and under the couch.  I'd be vacuuming and find piles of pennies, a stick of gum, a bouncy ball and a Littlest Pet Shop animal.  She would swipe stuff from Holly and Christian and stash it in her room in odd little places.

Cassie has always been great at making new friends.  She will just go up to any kid and start talking to them.  When she was little she would tell everyone our entire family story, which at times can be very confusing!  

When she was 5 she went through a stage where she was convinced that her name was "Tink Cassie Cassandra Sassy Pixie" and called herself by all four names.

And now look at her!  She is turning into a beautiful, caring young lady.  She is a great big sister to Hannah who teaches her so many big sister things, from dance moves to soccer.  She is a voracious reader and lately I have found myself saying the same thing that my mom said to me, "Put the book away until you get your work done!" Every time I look at her I'm surprised at how much she has changed.  She is so tall and has become so independent.  I can't wait to see where this girl goes, wherever it is, you can bet she will have fun!

Happy Birthday Cassie!

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Prison Pup

My sweet friend Tonia lost her dogs this year. Both of them within months of each other. These weren't just pets for her and her husband, they were family, her children.  So they were our family too.
She was determined that she would wait for awhile before getting a new pup. It was just too heartbreaking and they had plans and were they really ready to make this kind of commitment again?  And, and, and...

And then...

This is Zoey and she is in a medium security prison as part of the Death Row Dogs program.  DRD is a fantastic program that takes dogs in high kill shelters and places them with inmates for a twelve week training program. Once Tonia and David applied to adopt Zoey (after an interview process) she received the word that Zoey was HERS!

This is such great news, not only for Tonia, but also for this sweet girl, who was born in a shelter and has lived her entire life there, except for the 12 weeks she has been in prison!  And this puppy is sitting in a cell right now, not even knowing the awesome life she is about to begin.  She doesn't know that her new family is spending their time preparing for her to come home.  They are re-working their schedules to ensure that she has quality time with them, they are reading about how to introduce a new pup into their home, and they are making plans to go to jail on visiting days.  

They have been getting weekly reports from her inmate trainers on her progress.  "This week, Zoey has been working on her manners and leash behavior"  or "Zoey has trouble focusing this week" are some of the reports that she receives.  And when she is ready, she will graduate with a ceremony at the prison including cake, punch and doggie treats!

Tonia and her husband are nervous, so nervous.  They are worried that Zoey won't like them.  They are worried that they won't make a connection with her.  Although I know for a fact that Tonia's animals are better cared for than my children, the real proof is right here:  just look at this face

I don't think either of them have anything to worry about!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

In a Split Second

Last week a man in this community died. It was a tragic, senseless death of a young father, husband, son and friend. I didn't know this man, Brandon Bradshaw, but like many, I followed his story and sent many, many good wishes to him and to his heartbroken family.

I don't know the details and won't add to the rumors already surrounding his death, but there was a shooting, that much we know. In broad daylight. In Bowling Green, Kentucky. A man, Tommy Brown, husband, father, son and friend shot another. Some say in self defense, some say not. In a split second two men having normal, average days lost everything.

Much outrage has been vocalized about justice, but not by the family. The family has taken to Facebook to express some of their sorrow and their pain. Over and over the father of the victim asked for prayers, not only for his son, but also for the family of the shooter. He knew that they were hurting too.

Mr. Bradshaw's wife relayed the conversation she had with one of her three children; how she answered his most important questions like "Who will you be married to if you aren't married to Daddy?" and "What will we do if someone breaks into our house?" I keep thinking of Mrs. Bradshaw. Right now she is, I'm sure, surrounded by friends and family. But what about the nights? What about the moments when she is alone? The "busyness" of funerals and memorials are distracting; there are pictures to gather and songs to choose and verses to be collected. And that distraction is good. It's the AFTER that is the hardest. After everyone leaves, when you realize that even with your world falling apart, bills still have the nerve to arrive and children have to be fed, and clothes have to be washed- that's when it's the hardest. When you wish that just for a few days the world would stop and LET YOU GRIEVE.

In times like these one feels so helpless. I know I have Pollyanna tendencies, but I can't believe that Mr. Brown started his day believing that he would shoot someone. Just as I'm sure Mr. Bradshaw thought he was going to run a quick errand to the drugstore. Two men, both upstanding citizens, both married with three sons- a life can change so quickly.  And then, because Brandon Bradshaw was an organ donor, eight other people's life were changed in a split second.

The memorial service for Brandon Bradshaw is tonight and so, so many people will attend to support this family and to pay their respects. His children will be proud of their dad, and hopefully all the stories shared will be remembered. Not by the children necessarily, but FOR the children. Because in the future they may slowly forget and they will need those stories to be told again. And again.

And the other family involved, Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their children, they are on my mind as well. I'm sure they are stricken with grief and guilt.  Will people share good stories with them? Will people comfort them? I hope they have support.

So today, I'm sending good thoughts out for both families and their friends. They have all lost so much.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Buddy Bernard Boddeker

This is Buddy Bernard Boddeker.  He is evil.  Really, he is a vicious, mean chihuahua.  He bites small children.  He also chases them for as long as they will run.  He waits until adults have their backs turned and then attacks them.  He bites the tires of every car that comes in the driveway.  He barks incessantly at EVERYONE that comes to the door.  He often will sit right beside a visitor to stare and growl at them. 

There are some in the house that he will tolerate:
But this dog?  The one that is so evil? He LOVES me.  Sometimes he sits and just stares at me. For a long time.

He will protect me at all costs, from all things both real and imaginary.  Including you, if he feels that you may be a threat to me.  
When I come home from work, this beast is by far the happiest to see me, and that says a lot because although the teenagers don't really notice my arrival, the 6 year old is pretty super excited to see me. He wants nothing from me, he is just happy to sit next to me (or on me.)

And that, folks, is love.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Natalie's Book Nook

Here's my new thing.  Mary Jo says it's important to have a different look for a returning sort of post.  So, then she made me this.  And I LOVE it so much!  Basically it means when you see this cutie logo there will be book talk happening!  And maybe a giveaway!

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Book Talk: Me Before You & A Giveaway for YOU!

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes is one of the best books I've read in quite some time.  It pulled me out of my reading doldrums and started me on a book feeding frenzy.  I have to warn you ahead of time that some of the words used by others to describe this novel include:  "heart-wrenching" and " weepy."

The story is one of Louisa Clark, an intelligent, working class, yet somewhat aimless young woman who stumbles upon a job caring for Will, a 35 year old quadriplegic.  Louisa has no nursing or care giver experience yet is still hired by Will's mother, the very stiff and cold Camilla. They have a rough start of it seeing as Will is incredibly angry and bitter, and Lou is snarky.

What follows is a love story of Love Story proportions.  This isn't a book of surprises, it won't take many turns that are unexpected.  But the writing is lyrical, the story is compelling, and the characters are completely relatable.  And it's British, so of course that makes it yummy.

Let me end by saying when I got to the last page I wiped my eyes and hugged the book to my chest and sighed.  There was nothing else to do.

"What is in this blog for me?" you might ask yourself.  Well here is the answer!  You can win an ADVANCED READING COPY of soon to be released title!  Oh yeah!  You can be reading a new book before anyone else can read it!  Just comment on this blog and I will enter your name in a drawing to win!  You must enter before March 8, 2013- because without rules there is just chaos!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013


When I was in elementary school I remember spending a lot of my time being terrified that I would be called on to do something in front of the entire class.  Every day we would read aloud, each student would read a paragraph to the class.  I would always count ahead and figure out which paragraph was mine and read it in my head over and over so that I would be certain of every word and get the inflection just right.  Crazy?  Ummm, yeah, nice to meet you.

I couldn't take the pressure of the daily kickball game at recess.  I hated the thought of being the one to let the team down.  I hated the choosing of the teams.  I remember standing in the outfield praying that the ball wouldn't come to me.  I've never been one for group sports, I'd much rather rely on myself and have no one that has to rely on me.  Especially for something as unreliable as my kicking, catching, or throwing skills.

While Hannah has many of my shy tendencies, like being nervous at large performances, and not particularly enjoying people looking at her,  she also is so brave.  She has no problem getting up in front of her class.  When I asked her about it she said, "But Mama, they are my FRIENDS!"

Hannah's teacher recently provided a challenge to her students.  They can pick from any number of things on a list to get points.  Of course, the first thing I do is peruse the list for items I would do, like draw a picture, or read a poem and write about it, anything I could do on my own that didn't involve getting up in front of the class.  But Hannah?  She picked "Write a song and perform it for your classmates."  That one sentence has all my nightmares rolled into one.

Here's the song she wrote and performed:

Honeybee,  Honeybee
Where is your mommy?
I don't know,
I am lost.
Well, I will help you
Don't worry!
You are my best friend now.
You are SOOOOOO nice.
Do you want to go play, Honeybee?
I might sting you!
Don't you worry-
Friends don't sting friends!

The next day she made up a dance and performed it for her class.  Again, for me this is nightmare and vomit inducing, but she just went to school, made up a dance at recess, and viola!

I know how crippling shyness can be, how it can prevent you from doing so many things, how long it takes you to overcome, if ever.  There are many things about myself that I hope Hannah inherits, but I hope shyness isn't one of them.  So while it was a mystery to me why ANYONE would ever look at that list and pick the things she did, I'm so proud of her for it.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Zombies, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Valentine's Day

The past week of my life has been spent completely immersed in zombies. I have been watching all three seasons of The Walking Dead at a fairly quick pace. I watch zombies on my lunch breaks at work, I stay up late and watch zombies until I get scared and have to go to bed.  I text every single shocking thing that happens to my friend, Mary Jo.  If you have seen The Walking Dead, you know that shocking things happen frequently on this show (and if you haven't- maybe you should do that RIGHT THIS MINUTE!)

But while I've been living and breathing zombies and putting together my zombie apocalypse plan (those things don't put themselves together, you know,) Mary Jo has been re-reading all the books in the Little House on the Prairie series.  Then she texts me every single shocking thing that happens.  If you have read the Little House books you know that shocking things happen frequently (well, maybe not frequently, but sometimes.) PS- If you haven't read the Little House Books, we cannot be friends.

So our texts have been real messes of frantic nonsense.  (ME: "Let's talk about the woman that has the zombies as pets" MJ: "How come every single time Pa and Ma go to town there is a disaster?") Of course they make total sense to us, but I can't imagine what someone would think if they stumbled upon our "conversation" by mistake.

Then, as if we don't have enough going on with the zombies and the prairie, we both have to WIN Valentine's Day.  Yes, I know we are competing against no one.  Or everyone.  Sometimes it's hard to tell.


Cute little Valentine collection box made out of a cereal box.  

So, with all this winning out of the way, and zombie watching complete, I am pretty exhausted.  And maybe a little bit mad at Mary Jo.  For introducing me to the zombies, you know. She must have sensed my anger (or perhaps she read the repeated texts I sent her during my marathon Walking Dead watching that said "I hate you.")  Whatever.  She KNEW.  And to make it up to me she sent me MY VERY OWN XANADU CD!!!!  I always knew that I loved Xanadu, but I think I might have underestimated the number of times I listened to this, because after 25 years I still know EVERY.  SINGLE.  WORD.  I immediately popped this CD in my car player and soon ELO was all up in my business.

Only a true friend would say "I'm sorry for the zombies" with a homemade card and an 80's soundtrack.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

When You Lose Your Holly Jolly

Retail Christmases can be ummmm... challenging.  This year was no exception.  There comes a point in every season when I lose my Holly Jolly and no amount of jingly bracelets, potlucks, or Christmas music can fix it.  So, I do what any other person would do and whine on Facebook.  The next day came an outpouring of love and hugs and visits and presents and lucky can one girl be?   When I got to work  that morning I had a gift from my friend David hanging on the front door.  My sweet friend Lene and her awesome kids brought me flowers and box of treats! I got a special hug from  Melissa who is QUITE STINGY with her personal space.  I also got a hug Kristie and a visit from  Phil!  My friend Jenni brought by a yummy treat with a sweet note, and my Bargain Jack brought me a Christmas present.  

How many times do we know when a friend is struggling?  How often do we stop what we are doing and go out of our way to make someone feel better?  Do we think we don't have the time, or that it doesn't matter really?  Well, I can tell you, I got these gifts and hugs and well wishes and IMMEDIATELY by day got brighter.  And stayed brighter.  And the brightness flew out of me and spread to others and before you know it I was hugging customers and throwing parties.

The things that we do affects others.  Sometimes it's the small things that are the most meaningful;  the fact that friends saw my whiny post, thought of me and made plans in their day to include dropping something off with the sole intent of cheering me up- and it did!  

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Hobbies, Fun Facts and Trick Questions

Someone called me the other day at work and asked me to answer a few questions for a regional newsletter.  They wanted me to tell them my hobbies and a few fun facts about myself.  To me, it felt like a trick question: hobbies for a person that works in a bookstore- I'm guessing a large amount of these surveys will include reading as a top hobby.  But what else do I like to do:  crafting, spending time with my family, driving kids around, playing school, playing American girl dolls, volunteering?  How many of these things are things that I like to do, or just things that I do?

Fun facts about myself- well, I think I'm fun, but somehow it didn't translate into "3 fun facts."  It didn't help that every time I mentioned something the person on the phone would make disapproving sounds,  like perhaps my facts weren't as fun as he had hoped.

I left work feeling a little boring, invisible and un-Natalie-ish.

I got home and did my usual: played, made dinner, played, cleaned, played, did homework, played.  Later that night I found my flag raised on my Valentine mailbox, indicating that someone had left me a note!

There are many times when your life belongs more to others than to yourself, and I'm good with that.  Maybe PTO board member, room mother, crafter, game player, and homework helper isn't who I am in the future, and definitely isn't who I was 10 years ago, but it's who my kids need me to be right now- and I'm good at it!

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