Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Overwhelmed By Food

In the lives of everyday people we all have certain accomplishments. They might be personal or on a professional level. As a teddy bear artist, I have had those things like everyone else. While I haven't found a cure of cancer or walked on the moon, I was proud of my little accomplishments and when I shared them with family and friends they were proud of me too.

In the past few months I have started cooking fancy things. Well...fancy to us because they involve more than one pan or the microwave. We were in a rut, and since I was forced to take over the cooking I decided to find new and interesting things to eat.

Naturally through the course of conversation I have mentioned what I was making to my Mom and a few of my friends. The amazing thing is that they are giving me accolades over this as if I had just scaled Mount Everest.

It's kind of puzzling to be honest. Maybe for most women learning to cook is some sort of rite of passage, but for me it's always been something that I am just not interested in doing. The other accomplishments I have had meant much more to me than this.

With this new need to get out of the rut I have been scouring through magazines for new recipes. I was doing just that a couple days ago when I felt suddenly overwhelmed. The magazine I was perusing talked about a new kind of fat listed on food labels. Apparently it wasn't enough that we have trans fat, saturated fat, and a whole host of other things...now we have another one. It was inter...something. I forget.

In another article it talked about the health benefits of certain foods. Red grapes slow down wrinkles, asparagus is good for the liver, and the list went on and on. This thing that was once thought really healthy isn't now, and that thing that wasn't healthy is now. At least until they change their minds again.

I was suddenly overwhelmed by it all. I finally closed the magazine and tossed it on the coffee table. How can anyone be expected to keep track of it all?

They say stress makes us fat because of the cortisol. But keeping track of the healthy foods and what to eat and not to eat, not to mention how to cook it all causes stress in me. I feel like I am doomed no matter what I do!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Bad Week For Stairs

I am not sure what's going on at my house. It's been a rough week around here. As I told you I fell down the stairs on Monday.

Yesterday afternoon Buster, my enormous cocker spaniel, fell down the outside stairs. I had to rush him to the vet. He tore the ligaments in his knee on his hind leg. He is now at the vet having surgery that is costing a little more than two house payments. *groans* They said our only other alternatives were that he would be crippled for life or we would have to put him down. I didn't like either of those options, so here I am.

I won't be able to bring him home until tomorrow, assuming everything goes well. My poor little Jazzy was walking around the house last night with her favorite toy in her mouth kind of whining pitifully. I threw it for her, and instead of running after it like usual she just laid down and looked mournful. She doesn't understand why her buddy isn't here and I am sure she remembers when Chyna left and didn't come back at all, so she probably thinks Buster isn't coming back either. I have been trying to comfort and reassure her but how do you explain such things to a dog?

When I called R from the vet's office yesterday to give him the bad news, he said we just had to stop going down the stairs. I guess he will have to put in an elevator!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It Isn't Over Til The Fat Lady Sings

Last Thursday I went to lunch and shopping with my friend. My friend is thin and beautiful. She goes to the gym every day and she has never been fat a day in her life. She was complaining about something I too have complained about in the past. She had bought a new top, and said she had to buy an extra large. I was shocked. If you looked at her, there is nothing about her that suggests she is that big.

She said she still had clothes in her closet that were a size medium and fit perfectly, so she was a little puzzled about why she suddenly needed a much larger size. I could fully understand how she felt. I have clothes in my closet from years ago that are two sizes smaller and fit better than the larger sizes I need to buy now.

If you're one of those unfortunate women who do have to buy larger sizes now, you also might notice that you have to pay a little more for "plus sizes." Hmmm...ya don't suppose there is a connection there now do you?

I really hate the phrase "plus size." Plus what? Plus we've decided you're fat so we are going to segregate and discriminate against you? Plus we are going to charge you more for two inches of extra material while we don't discount for size 0? Plus we think you're built like a blob and have no fashion savvy so we will make hideous clothes and you will wear them? Seriously...plus what? By the way, the woman shown above is Tahnee Atkinson, a "plus size" model. She doesn't look overweight in the slightest to me?

We live in a world that is extremely body conscious. Perfectly normal, healthy young girls...and women have such self esteem issues. It's not surprising. The media bombards us with images of stick thin models and movie stars and suggest we should be that size. I have read endless accounts of what famous women supposedly eat, but you know by looking at them that they don't eat that. They starve themselves and have cosmetic procedures done to look that way.

I have read many designers say that the clothes look better on these anorexic looking models. I have a simple solution. Design clothes that look good on the average woman. Up until about 15 years ago designers were able to do that. What happened? Did they lose the ability? If so maybe we need designers with a broader scope of what they are capable of.

I recently saw someone named Heidi Montag (I think that's her name, I really have no idea who she is) who is 23 and was perfectly lovely, had TEN plastic surgeries in one day. What could you possibly have wrong with you at 23 that needed fixing to the tune of ten surgeries? I saw the before picture, she was very pretty and had nothing that required surgery. One of the things she had done was having her back bones carved down so she would have some curves. Apparently she was so thin she didn't have any. A simpler solution would be eat a cheeseburger once in a while and put a little padding on those hips and backside. When I took my tumble down the stairs the other night, I was happy I had a little cushion in the rumble seat to land on. This girl would have shattered like glass from that fall.

Most average drug free, surgery free women who actually eat and don't spend five hours a day working out cannot look that way unless she has an overactive thyroid or some other medical condition. Very few people are born with the genes predisposed to being extremely thin and healthy naturally.

Being one of the millions of women in this world who has always struggled with her weight, I was pretty disgusted by something I read this morning. There is a designer in Australia who won't make anything larger than a US size 10 because she feels that plus size clothing promotes an unhealthy life style.

Now I respect her right as a designer and business owner to do whatever she wants. She can make any sizes she wants. What I don't respect is the lie. If you look at her website, her model is considerably underweight. Being underweight is as unhealthy as being overweight, a fact she seems to have conveniently forgotten. If she doesn't want women of a certain size being seen in her clothing, just say so. Honestly I would respect that more than her statement that she is doing it for our benefit.

In what is a supposedly enlightened, civilized society I think it's time that we stand up and speak the truth...that every person has the same value despite their size, skin color or anything else physical about them. It's time for the fat lady to stand up, sing her heart out and get the respect she deserves!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Livening Up Things We Don't Use

I am sitting here today kind of bored. I have been ordered to take it easy and not do anything. Last night I was running around the house doing chores. I ran upstairs to get something and on my way back downstairs I was walking one second and falling the next. I had left the vacuum out in order to do the rug then sort laundry today and I crashed into it, bouncing off it and landing on the stairs again before finally coming to rest on the tile floor of the downstairs foyer.

While I didn't break anything, I did bruise my tailbone, hit my right foot, left arm, and both hands...one of which was already sore and the other now has a lump, and ended up generally bruised and battered.

The trouble is, I am not good at doing nothing. I decided to watch one of my favorite movies. "Where The Heart Is" with Dabney Coleman and Uma Thurman. In the movie the characters have a wonderfully eccentric sense of style. Uma wears a pendant on a ribbon. That got me to thinking.

So I hauled out my jewelry box and started going through what I have. I came across a pendant that I never wear anymore. It's a pretty piece of tourmalated quartz, with a watermelon tourmanline at the bottom set in sterling with a grape motif that I picked up at a mineral show.

I have only worn it a couple of times, and not for a few years. After I bought it, it had always seemed a tad dull on the chain. I decided to put it on a 30 inch piece of brown taffeta-esque ribbon and it really brought it to life. The reddish shade to the ribbon brings out the red in the watermelon tourmaline, and it gave the whole piece a funky vintage feel. I can't wait to wear it now.

It's funny how the simplest thing can make all the difference.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

~*~ Easter Greetings Chick ~*~

I have my second Easter piece done. She was inspired by those darling chicks on Victorian easter post cards. You can visit her on the animals page of my website.

Treasure Hunt

They say parting is such sweet sorrow, and I can attest to that. In fact I have so much stuff I haven't been able to part with, that it's taking over.

I have years worth of fabulous jewelry, handbags, books, work supplies, knick knacks and curiosities galore. I have too much. While I have taken bags and boxes full to Goodwill, some of it is a little too nice for that. I can't stand ebay, and don't want to go that route. So I have come up with a plan. Where you can get good stuff and I can do it slowly to ease my separation anxiety! *sniffles a little*

Once every week (or two) I will post one of my treasures that needs to go out into the world to seek a new fortune and find a new home. Now as much as I wish I could just do it as a completely free blog give away I would probably go broke with shipping. So...I will ask only for shipping (and insurance if it's an expensive item.) There might even be an occasional bear from my collection.

When it's posted, all you have to do is click the link at the right and send me an E-mail with the header "I Claim The Treasure" and I will send you a paypal invoice for the shipping. The first person to e-mail me gets it. Simple huh!

Happy treasure hunting!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pruning The Rose Bush

First of all I would like to start by saying Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

When we bought this house right in front of the walkway to the door was a rose bush. It looked dreadful and I thought it was dead. We moved in during the middle of October. I figured we would just dig it up in the spring and replace it. For whatever reason, the rose bush suddenly sprung back to life. I didn't do anything to it. But one morning several weeks later it was in full bloom. Maybe it sensed new life in the house and wanted to be a part of that.

I had no idea how to take care of a rose bush, and so I continued to do nothing. By the end of the following summer it was 11 feet tall. My Mother who has the green thumb I wasn't born with, told me I had to cut it back all the way to the ground that Fall. That was pretty intimidating. While I believed her, I was still certain I had killed it.

The next spring new life rose up and it bloomed again. It's been cut back about once every two years and it always resurrects.

Spring is slowly trying to find it's way to Colorado and we had a nice day a few days ago so I went and cut it all down again. I am sure it will come back, but every time I do it I feel a sense of sadness and uncertainty. How can short, dead looking sticks ever have new life and bloom again?

I have been blogging for several years now. What I post about is rather random. At first glance my blog really has no theme. Sometimes I post about work, I tell a funny story, I write about things that bother or hurt me, and sometimes I write things that are strange and leave people wondering what on earth is wrong with me. Ultimately though, my blog has been a journey of self discovery. That has come as a surprise even to me.

Lately many of my posts dealt with trying to find myself, who I am now and whether there is something wrong with my life. But when I made last week's post about realizing my life is fine, that's it just life in general that has changed it was as if I had cut back the rose bush of my soul in order to allow new life to grow. I have found a new person under all the dead stalks that had been there.

I haven't written a lot since then because I was living life on this side of the screen. (And working on a commission.) It's kind of hard to explain in font what I have discovered and how I have changed...or perhaps changed back to the person I always was. I figured out I can live in this new world and I don't have to change with it. It's not necessary to conform in every way.

I feel as if the long winter has passed and the quirky girl has begun to grow back to her former glory. I have found more color and light and I am feeling content. I even feel lucky on this Irish holiday!

So may the luck of the Irish be with you, and may your roses always bloom!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

~*~ Hedda Le' Tuce ~*~

As promised another chocolate bunny has arrived for adoption, and this one isn't afraid of baskets or traveling! You can visit her on the Animals page of my website.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hurricane Kel

Last week I got a wonderful catalog in the mail that I had never gotten before. It had all sorts of organic looking glassware, cast iron statuary, and a whole host of other things for around the house that no one needs, but some of us would like to have because we are peculiar that way.

In it there were some hurricane lamps. Not the old fashioned kind with the wick and all that, but more along the lines of the Pottery Barn variety that are like giant blown glass beakers with a metal tray for a candle suspended in them. I have seen these before on many occasions, but for whatever reason I was suddenly gripped with the mad urge to have one. A big one!

The ones in the catalog were rather expensive and I figured that World Market would have some. So the next morning I hopped out of bed with a burning desire to head over there.

Now I must interject that usually when I want something even if I have seen it a thousand times before, I can't find it when I want it. (I have a whole other saga about trying to find a simple white t-shirt, but I won't go into it.) Low and behold World Market did in fact have the very thing I was looking for.

They were still rather expensive, but not quite as bad as the catalog. I stood staring at them trying to decide if I wanted to spend that much on a large candle holder. Finally I decided that I really did want one.

I picked one out and put it in the cart. When I went around the corner I discovered some more in a slightly smaller size. I picked one out, and was going to set it in the cart beside the other one for comparison.

As I was setting it in the cart I barely tapped the slightly fluted rim of the larger one and it broke a piece out of it. I went to pick it up to give it to the sales girl and when I picked it up, it shattered. I was MORTIFIED.

I gave it to the girl rather sheepishly and offered to pay for it since I broke it. She said no no, it was fine, accidents happen and then made sure I was alright.

I decided not to buy one. I figured if they break that easily, despite being called a hurricane lamp...it would never survive Hurricane Kel! In fact I suspected it might not even make it home.

I still managed to find some other lovely treasures including some bright yellow floral french country place mats. I great basket and some carrots for the chocolate bunnies. A red Chinese teapot and cups, a yellow scarf (it was a yellow day apparently) a couple pair of earrings and some various and assorted goodies to eat.

Lastly I decided to go look at the jars. I love the jars they have there. They are like general store jars and I have several very large ones already that are filled with an odd glass and stoneware pumpkin collection, seashells and one with pine cones.

I found a bit smaller one that was roughly the size of the hurricane lamp I was going buy. It was the only one that size and it didn't have a lid. I put it in the cart anyway, and went to check out. I asked her politely if they had any with lids. She checked and they didn't. I suppose she suspected what I wanted with it though and offered me either a rain check or 40% off of that one. I took that one!

Two inches of sand in the bottom and a green candle later I had a very nice hurricane lamp that was three times as sturdy, and cost me 1/5 of what the one that I broke would have cost me. Sure it doesn't have the metal tray suspended half way in it, but sand works nicely too and gives off a homey glow.

While I felt bad about breaking it, it was a happy accident and I think sometimes I should remember to be more creative with every day things instead of just buying something pre-made and too expensive when I don't have to.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Trying Not To Fall Down The Rabbit Hole

When I was a little girl, kids enjoyed simpler things. I loved fairy tales. I still love them. I have a lovely, very, very old edition of Grimms.

I think the two fairy tales I liked the most were Cinderella and Alice In Wonderland. I liked and identified with Cinderella because she was very poor and lived in rather harsh circumstances. But she managed to overcome that.

I liked Alice best though. She wasn't a princess, she was an ordinary girl who just sort of went along falling into things topsy turvy, doing things sometimes against her better judgement (or lack of it) and made the most of her unusual circumstances. I still identify with that!

When it was announced that the new Alice movie was coming out, I was terribly excited. I just can't wait to go see it this week. Some of the critics have been rather hard on the movie, but I don't care. I want to go, I would go now, right this minute if I could. But I want to wait and see it in 3-D at the IMAX.

Last month I made a post telling you that I decided it was time for me to set the proverbial stage for where my bears would live in order to better define what I want them to be. So keeping in mind what I had decided on as an influence, I set out to make a new layout for my website. (You can see a sneak peek in the new blog header.) It was all going along fairly well, then I got stuck. I have been stuck for a week now.

While I want a bit of a fairy tale feel to it, I don't want it to be inspired by Wonderland. It's proving much harder to stay out of the rabbit hole than you might think. Wonderland has all those elements that I love. There is the life size chessboard, giant mushrooms, tea parties and characters living in fantastical places.

I just don't want anyone drawing the conclusion that I made the change to coincide with the movie coming out. Maybe if the movie wasn't coming out at the same time I wouldn't focus on it so much. I know I want the bears to live in a forest that has a perfectly integrated steampunk-esque town. While in my head it doesn't resemble Wonderland that much, it keeps translating to that on the screen.

Until I dig myself out of the rabbit hole, I guess the new layout won't be put in place. I just hope when I do see the movie, it doesn't influence me even more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Chocolate Bunny's Tale

Back when I first started making bears and animals I had a little bit of a hard time letting them go. I think that's normal with all bear artists. But as I saw that people loved them, it became easier because I knew they were going to homes where they would be appreciated.

I have never sat down with the intention of making something just for myself since that very first bear. As a result I don't have a whole lot of my own work. Once in a blue moon one will decide to stay here. But for some reason I always have a little bit of guilt about wanting to keep one.

For several years I have wanted to make a simple little rabbit. I have made quite a few jointed rabbits over the years and I have never kept one. There is one that I have always kind of regretted sending out to a new home, but I am sure he is quite happy and where he is meant to be.

A few days ago I sat down to finally create my simple little rabbit. I figured with Easter coming it was a good choice to finally do it. I have amassed a few lovely little baskets and eggs along the way so I wanted to make "chocolate" bunnies for baskets reminiscent of childhood. I think we all loved getting those fancy little baskets.

After he had half his face finished yesterday I wasn't so sure he was going to turn out the way I wanted. But I forged ahead.

When he was completed, I was pleasantly surprised. You never really know for sure what they are going to look like until they are done. I think they just turn out how they choose and I have very little to do with it.

As I was finishing him up, Bunny and I formed a bond. For some reason I can't bear the thought of letting him go. Maybe it's because I have wanted to make one for so long, or maybe it's because I am allergic to chocolate and he is the only type of chocolate bunny I can have...or maybe he has his own reasons for wanting to stay here.

At any rate, I am going to give you a peek at the very first Chocolate Bunny. While he has chosen to stay here, never fear bunnies multiply and there will be more adventurous bunnies who want to go out into the world available for adoption soon!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spinning Off Our Axis

Last weekend Chile was hit with an 8.8 earthquake. It had a devastating effect on the region and the people who live there. Their lives are forever irrevocably changed. My heart goes out to them.

But what you may not know is that it had an effect on our entire planet. The Earth's axis moved roughly 3 inches due to the plate tectonic movement, causing a mass shift in our planet. It sped up the rotation of our planet a tiny bit, and thus shortened our day by 1.26 millionths of a second.

Now I know what you might be thinking...that's an imperceptible amount to us. The human brain wouldn't even notice that right? So what's the difference? Six years ago we had another imperceptible shortening of our day by 6.8 millionths of a second, due to another earthquake mass shift changing our axis. These changes aren't anything we notice. But we have only been monitoring things of this type for a very brief period compared to the entire history of the planet. If we added up the total amount of every time the day got a bit shorter the change would be quite noticeable and a little bit shocking.

Scientists say the moon was 15 times bigger in our sky several billion years ago. It's moving away from us gradually, but the changes are so slow we don't notice.

Now if you've been reading my blog recently then you have read that I have been struggling to figure out my life lately. Something seemed different. As if something had changed in what I was doing or maybe not doing. I have been struggling to figure it out and fix it.

But I had a moment of clarity thanks to a comment my friend made and a trip to Best Buy. She wisely observed that we have so much technology bombardment that people are starting to get sick of it and won't want it. A week or so later I went to Best Buy and saw all these endless things that we don't need, some of which I couldn't even identify. I am sick of it. I realized I was sick of it when she pointed it out, and I agreed with her.

I also realized it's not just my life that has changed so much. It's our lives in general. Maybe the fall out of simple longevity makes you notice these things more accutely. But I do believe that we have changed our lives radically in the last decade or so thanks to technology. It's like that change in mass that is spinning us off our axis. It's imperceptible on a day to day basis, but when you look at the big picture it's shocking. I feel like I can't keep up lately. I don't want to.

That's the thing that is causing me discomfort. When the world and the way human beings as a whole live our lives change we don't have a choice. We either keep up the best we can or we move to a cave somewhere.

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, from my perspective it did for a while, and now it isn't. It's complicating it in ways we could have never imagined. But the machine will crank on and spit out new things we don't need. The earth will spin off it's axis again whether we approve or not.

All I can do is choose how to adapt so I don't feel lost and unbalanced by it. But I find myself wondering just for a moment...how much do you think it would cost to heat a cave?
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