Saturday, March 19, 2011

Good-bye Sweet Carbs

Can I even describe what a bummer it is to get discouraging lab results back right smack dab in the middle of the holidays?

By Brit Abroad in USA

Triglycerides. The Curse of my family tree for generations. Some in my family have "elevated" triglyceride levels, some have "high" levels. Some of the lucky family tree climbers have "very high" triglyceride levels, meaning greater than 500. Some have never had an accurate lab result because the poor lab tech apparently just can't count that high.

The Bean Feast, by Jann Steen via Golden Oak Inn

So yea, back in November, almost exactly halfway between Thanksgiving (oh sweet pumpin pie and gingerbread ) and Christmas (mmm, my precious Toffee Bars and Stollen), I get the news. For the first time ever, Triglycerides over 200. Is it the beginning of the slow, insidious creep upward, the first glimmer of the ancient family curse? Am I doomed? Or is it the medication I'm taking that can sometimes lead to elevated lipids? I'm hoping that's it but in the mean time, while waiting for that next appointment to hash it over with my MD, I've been trying to adjust, just in case I can't blame it on the meds. That means, for triglycerides, a sharp reduction in processed sugar and flour.

brownies (higher)
By olya via Flickr

OK, I love snackies- tortilla chips, cookies- oh I love cookies- bread of any kind except white, brownies, pasta in all of its shapes and sizes. I can live on a reduced diet of sugar, no biggie, in spite of my Olympic class sweet tooth. I don't care for hard candy, pastry-things like donuts do nothing for me. But all those lovely carb-laden things like mac & cheese, Granny's homemade noodles, wheat rolls, homemade cookies, ad infinitum with the carbs. My special weakness is the homemade variety of carbs.

By kevindem via Flickr
But I've been doing fairly well. Lost another two pounds. I was thinking I had found the perfect middle ground- watching the white sugars and processed flour without being one of those obsessive nutsy types. Then one night my husband tells me he got his blood work back. Triglycerides over 300.

Ha-ha! I won!

Via PlaneBuzz

Oh, I mean, bummer for you too.

Via webMD

Oh, I could be a super healthy eater. I really do love whole grains and fresh veggies and though I do have a pretty healthy sweets-jones, I am picky about my sweets- no super frosty kinds of things, no glazed foods, no Chips-Ahoy, no white bread, for crying out loud! Homemade goodies are always the way to go. But there are times, usually in March, when it's simply difficut to eat within reason. You know how it is- you just start munching' and all of a sudden you realize what you've done.

Damn Girl Scouts.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lamp Shade Graffiti

I was messing around in the Family Waiting Area at work the other day-- just straightening things up so it would look nice. It's not a fancy little room but it's a good place for families to have some quiet and privacy. Or a quick nap.

Anyway, I was sorting and stacking the magazines on the end tables when I noticed one of the lampshades.

Someone had drawn a design over the entire surface of the shade with a blue ballpoint pen.

I suspect this is where he or she started. The panel to the left of "Love", maybe you can make it out, says "God". The rest of the panels are just the abstract, tribal looking design- all eight sides. I was just incredulous. It's one thing to sit in a public waiting room, bored out of your mind, staring off into space while you have an ill family member up the hall, and you think, "Wouldn't that lampshade look cute with some decorations on it? I bet I could do something clever. Maybe I'll try it when I get home." It's an entirely other thing to actually pick up the ballpoint pen and draw on a lampshade that is not your own. On the most basic of levels, that's vandalism. Thank goodness this person did a really nice job, but I'm still kind of amazed by some people's nerve and audacity. And I'm wondering where the staff was because this room is right across from the nurse's station.

If you look closely at the bottom of the shade-- sure enough our midnight Michelangelo signed his work. Even more nerve!

My next thought was, of course, "I'm going to try that when I get home!"

I bought this buffet lamp years ago when we first moved into our antique house. There was no light over the table area so we used this buffet lamp on the table until the remodeling progressed to the point where we could put a light fixture over the table. Since then it has been on the fireplace mantle, right next to the table, as supplemental lighting. The shade that came with it had a plastic lining and it was developing cracks. I was nursing it along until I could find a nice new shade when I knocked the lamp over one day as I was hurrying through the dusting. End of lampshade. Thankfully, Target had this shade on clearance for $3.00 so that's where things stood until we had to replace the natural gas line with propane, which meant that we had to replace the gas fireplace because .... oh, you can read all the nasty details here.

Anyway, new fireplace mantle means new decorating fun so away went the lamp. Enter hospital graffiti artist and a reason to play around a bit.


Ta-Dum! I used a fine point Sharpie for this and would probably go with the ballpoint pen if I had a do-over. You can see where there is a little "blop" in the places where I lifted the pen to turn the shade, but they aren't huge spots. You can see in the picture below where I started to draw the design with pencil and then abandoned that to just wing it. It's around the back by the seam so it won't ever be noticeable.

So I just sat on the couch, in the sunshine, while our power was out one afternoon, squiggling away. It did occur to me that this is exactly something I would have gotten a lickin' for when I was a kid!! And I probably would have done this too. Like the time in 2nd grade when I was admiring another girl's dress at school (we worn dresses back then) that had pretty lace along the edge so I started snipping along the hem of my dress with my school scissors, hoping to get a similar look. I didn't and got bored so ended up with about 12-inches of snipped hem on my dress. Yes, it was in the front. I can still remember hearing my mom, ironing away at the laundry, "What in the world!" Busted. Thank goodness my mom is the creative type who can appreciate experimentation. Anyway...

Then I added some trios of dots here and there around the shade, just for fun and because no one was going to bust me for doing so.

And I too signed my worked...

So how fun was that? I don't know that I'll ever use it anywhere in the house but it was fun. I even discovered another unused lampshade- I've been sitting here staring at it wondering how I can doodle on it and what sort of embellishments I could add. Rhinestones? Fringe? Oh wait, I have an idea .....!

Hey, thanks for visiting today and please remember- doodling on public property is vandalism so do a good job. Just sayin'.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Rainbow of Your Own

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day- a rainbow for that pot of gold. I was brainstorming St. Patrick's Day projects at work one day and I wanted something that was colorful and not green. It's been a long, gray winter in my next of the woods so colorful was a high priority. I keep a stash of terra cotta pots on hand and as I stood looking at them in my craft closet the whole thing sort of congealed.

I also worked up a color scheme for Easter.

I posted this project over at The Creativity Greenhouse so you can see all the nitty-gritty details over there by clicking here. The blog is designed for therapist and Activity Directors working with older adults in long term or rehab settings so it's a bit different than posts you may be used to seeing. But check it out and then get your rainbow groove going.

I hope to be getting back to a regular schedule here- I've been having tremendous technological difficulties that I think are healing now.

See ya next time!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March Bling- Aquamarine

Via GemStoneStories

Today we are going to have a lesson in Latin. They don't teach Latin as much in school any more so this is our chance.

"Aqua"- water
"Mare"- sea

Aquamarine- "Water of the Sea"

Seriously, what other Latin do you really need to know? If you are a March baby in search of a birthstone or if your 18th wedding anniversary is approaching, you just march (ah ha!- no pun intended) right into the jewelry store and lay some Latin on 'em-


Via Apples of Gold

When I was in college, one of my friends had a gorgeous (and huge) aquamarine ring set with diamonds. It wasn't her birthstone but she was a tiny, petite little thing and it looked so pretty on her slender hands. I must confess to the sins of coveting and envy.

Via Diamonds By Mischelle

Aquamarines are a semi-precious stone in the Beryl family, which makes them related to Emeralds. Ah-- no wonder they're so gorgeous. Most gem beryl, including aquamarine, come from a very coarse-grained rock that geologists call pegmatite and it is not unusual for the crystals to be 25 feet or more in length in situ. There have been huge finds of aquamarine that weighed several tons but that did not qualify for cutting due to weak, gray or opaque color. The largest find of aquamarine in gemstone quality dates back to 1910. Mined in Marambaya, Brazil, the stone weighed 243 lb, was 18 inches long and 15.5 inches in diameter. It was cut into many gems of a total weight of more than 100,000 ct.

via Jewelrypedia

The Dom Pedro stone (above left) was  a 10,363 carat, 23 1/4 inches (59 cm) tall behemoth mined in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. It was cut by Bernd Munsteiner to create the sculpture "Waves of the Sea" (above right) in 1993. This single Aquamarine gemstone sculpture is 13 13/16 inches (35 cm) tall and is the largest uncut piece of aquamarine in the world. There is a gorgeous photograph of this sculpture, taken by Jeff Turner at the Houston Museum of Natural History, on Flickr. He has reserved all rights and I am therefore unable to share the photo with you in this post but if you click here you can see his stunning photo on Flickr.

The lovely blue color of aquamarine comes from trace amounts of iron. Aquamarine ranges in color from an almost colorless pale blue...

via GemPlayer blue-green or teal...

Stones that have a green tinge to them are generally heat treated to create a more desirable color. This color change is permanent.


The most prized color is a deep-blue aqua color. This incredible 157.51 carat gem (above) from Santa Maria Brazil is offered by Linton for $47,100US. Go ahead, I'll wait while you get your checkbook.


Aquamarines were thought by ancient Romans to be sacred to Neptune (Poseidon to the Greeks), god of the sea, having fallen from his jewellery chest and washed ashore. Sailors wore or carried aquamarine as protection against the dangers of sea travel, including seasickness (sometimes much more bothersome than the odd sea serpent).

via Gemstone-Pictures

Aquamarine was thought by the ancients to give the wearer foresight, courage, and happiness. It was thought to increase intelligence and make one youthful. As a healing stone, it is said to be effective as a treatment for anxiety and in the Middle Ages it was thought that aquamarine would reduce the effect of poisons.

Aquamarine's powers were believed to be increased when immersed in water and this water was used at times as a healing agent for the heart, liver, spleen, stomach, mouth, and throat. This beautiful blue stone was thought to awaken love in a weary marriage, though I think any decent piece of bling will do that.

via Belenky Brothers

When buying jewelry, Gehna Bazaar gives us this advice:
Today aquamarine gemstone is not as expensive as it used to be earlier. Although it is still one of the popular gemstones used in jewelry, its wide availability has resulted in a decline in prices. The main factor that affects the price of this gem is the color. Secondary factors that affect price are its carat size and clarity.

A fine quality natural aquamarine gemstone with good luster that weighs a carat would cost somewhere around $25. These gems are usually found in huge sizes so the basic rule of gemstones pricing, ‘the bigger the stone the more the per carat rate’ does not apply here. A good quality aquamarine gem which is 15 carats is likely to cost $ 35 or less per carat and the weight of the stone does not really matter much here.

via Christie's

Aquamarine is a fairly hard stone and easily carved, making it a favorite with jewellers as well as with sculptors working in gemstone. The carved Chinese snuff bottles pictured above from circa 1770-1840 set someone back $8,400US at a Christie's auction.

OK- let's just row across the aquamarine sea for a minute.

55 carat Tiffany pendant, via Randolph Jewlers

via The Jewelry Blog

Boucheron Orientals Ring via Sybarites

Aquamarine under the microscope, via Molecular Expressions

Beautiful 20.03 carat cabachon cut aquamarine with cat's eye effect.
Considered a rare effect in aquamarine. $200.00

And finally, our butterfly gemstone of the month.
Georgian Aquamarine Butterfly Brooch Pendant
via The Three Graces

This gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous brooch dates from about 1840. The butterfly appears to be flying upside down but they do that sometimes. Let's have another look before I tell you the price (mainly because of the price of gold these days).

Georgian Aquamarine Butterfly Brooch Pendant
via The Three Graces

$46,500 US

Happy Birthday March Babies!
May you swim in a sea of happiness!