Monthly Archives: February 2014

Update on the Body Butter Success

body butterA while back I asked my friend Marie from Weighty Tales and Walks from a Chocoholic and Reluctant Dieter to share her Body Butter recipe with us.

The recipe she shared said you could use any type of oil, so I used castor oil since I’d heard it was good to help the skin shrink back after weight loss.

I vacillated at the store between almond butter and cocoa butter. Both seemed to focus on the same things, and I’d read that both were good to meet my goals. In the end I chose the cocoa butter.

My fragrance? Lavender. I had double reasons for this choice. It helps the skin return to elasticity after weight loss AND I LOVE the scent.

Things started well. I melted my almond butter and stirred in the other ingredients, delighting in the fragrance wafting toward me. I used a lot of lavender, thinking it was good for my skin and smelled heavenly. Plus the cocoa scent was stronger than I expected and needed a lot of balancing. I pulled the pan off the heat and waited. And waited. And grew impatient.

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This was probably my fatal error. I decided to help cool time by placing my pan into the refrigerator. This may have worked if I’d not forgotten it at this point and left it there until it was not only cool, but completely hard. I transferred it to a bowl for the whipping stage.

At this point I . . . uh . . . burned out the gears on our hand mixer. My husband was not happy because it’s the tool he uses for our Saturday morning whole wheat pancakes, but I never liked that mixer in the first place, so while I didn’t want to make things harder for him, I do NOT grieve that wimpy little mixer! The body butter never did whip up like whipped cream, and with the mixer’s gears getting stripped, I gave up.

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When it hardened it was like . . . well, butter that’s been in the refrigerator and doesn’t spread well. I used it for a few days, but found it difficult to manage

I wrote Marie and asked her if her body butter was that hard. She said it should be like spreadable butter, not hard butter and suggested I melt it all down and begin again, adding a little more oil.

On my second attempt I just put the jar of body butter into the microwave. Much easier. Much less mess. I don’t know why sometimes I’m a stove snob. The glass jar also cooled more quickly than the reinforced steel pan. I added more castor oil and a bit more glycerin. Then came the tell-tale moment. Would it whip? I used my heavy duty mixer. I like to think I would have been smart enough to do so even if the little hand mixer hadn’t had its gears stripped, but one can’t be sure. The results in a word? BEAUTIFUL

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The whipped body butter now filled two jars instead of one.

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I am lovin’ my homemade body butter. My skin feels much softer and I *think* I’m seeing some improvement in that whole sagging issue. I do believe being more faithful to the tummy video my daughter shared with me is also part of getting on the road to success.

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Hey Friends, if you haven’t done so yet, could you help me out by liking my author page on Facebook? I’m told it makes the acquiring editors happy, and I’m about ready to shop another novel!

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Simple Movement in a Normal Day

exercise_fitness_icon_2How about working movement into daily routine instead of waiting to do all of it at the gym or on some hard-to-keep daily schedule?

My new friend at the Ravenously Disappearing Woman says it takes 60 minutes of movement to lose weight and 30 to maintain, but that the good news is the movement doesn’t have to be all at once.

She shared these ideas to fit exercise into daily routine. She got them from her friend Elsey:

  • Walk briskly around the house while talking on the phone.(Just make sure you tell the person on the other end why you’re breathing heavily!)
  • Make several trips when putting away things. (When I distribute clean laundry , I separate my trips by clothing type and I run to each room to make my deliveries.)
  • March in place while watching TV.
  • Use hand weights or resistance bands while watching TV.
  • Do crunches or stretches while watching TV (I do crunches during commercials).
  • Walk briskly, or run, around the house during commercials. (Lot’s of TV suggestions–what was Elsey implying?)
  • March in place while sorting the mail.
  • Walk or bike to do an errand instead of driving, if you live in town.
  • Play outside with your children or pets.
  • Park a few blocks away from your destination and walk the rest of the way. (I’ve started doing this one, too.)
  • Pace the sidelines while watching your kids athletic games (I wonder if the coach will think you’re up to something?)
  • Take a few laps around the mall before and after shopping.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Stand at your desk as often as possible when working or talking on the phone.
  • Walk during your lunch break at work.

I’ve been trying to do these simple things as well as a few of my own ideas: take computer breaks to do quick 10 minute stretches or exercises; run up stairs; dance in the kitchen or living room when a good song comes on the stereo.

What ideas do you have to integrate movement into your day?

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Simple ideas to add movement to your day and burn those calories!

The Stuff Dreams are Made Of II

(For part one of this story click here.)

Valentine’s Day morning Jerry and I lingered in our beautiful vintage room at the Broadmoor. I couldn’t resist a long, hot bath in the large, tiled tub, complete with lavender mint bath salts from the Broadmoor’s spa collection. We chose a lazy morning over breakfast, so by the time we left our room we were starving.

We ate in the Tavern, next to La Jardin, which is a 1900s style garden room attached to the main serving area. (Since it was Valentine’s Day we needed reservations to actually sit in this beautiful room, so we settled for being close enough to gaze inside. Not that the expensive wooden decor of the Tavern left anything to be desired.)  La Jardin, with its 16 ft long chandelier, reminded me of the garden room dining area on the RMS Titanic, which I researched carefully to include in one of my scenes in our book, Titanic, Legacy of Betrayal. Of course this gracious space is on solid ground, not on the ocean floor. And Jerry and I loved it. Oh the opulence of the early 1900s!

jerry in the tavern

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I chose a very wonderful french onion soup to start my lunch. It’s the best I’ve ever had.

french onion soup

And I savored every bite!

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Afterwards we headed to the Espresso shop for that morning coffee I’d not yet enjoyed. It was now our after lunch treat, and we each ordered something sweet. Jerry opted for a chocolate filled croissant, but I chose entirely based on beauty. And the fact that you can NEVER go wrong with raspberries and chocolate. (Just another example of why the thoughts in my post last Thursday about maintenance and keeping weight in check after a time of feasting were necessary reminders for me!)

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What we did next was not romantic at all. We set up office in the very elegant lobby and worked on FAFSA, due that day if we were to get our son on the list to be considered for college scholarships. Oh well, real life sometimes invades.

While we labored away we were given a wonderful surprise. I spotted my friend Brandy Cole-Vallance. She stood next to a gigantic fresh flower arrangement with a huge sign advertising her new book. Brandy’s gorgeous cover alone would have made me want to read the book, but when she shared her premise I was totally hooked! (Don’t miss the painted ceiling in the picture below. If I’m keeping facts straight, it was painted by the same artist who did the ceiling of Grand Central Station in New York City. When he was told his work was perfect, He purposely included an imperfection, telling on-lookers that the only perfect one was God.)

brandy

What’s especially spectacular about bumping into Brandy is she had only received her book contract the night before, in front of a ton of people at the Writing for the Soul Conference. Everything was still new and like a dream for this debut author, and I loved the somewhat glazed sheen of joy in her eyes. Authors often spend years honing their craft and networking before breaking into the business. Many never actually experience this moment; few get their contract in front of an audience. I had a taste of this in 2011 when my first fiction contract for Postmark: Christmas was given to me in front of 500 people at an ACFW conference. It’s truly a stunning experience.

Getting to hug Brandy and cheer her on was a divine appointment–a sheer gift. As state coordinator for ACFW,  I feel invested in every one of our wonderful authors. Their victories bring me great joy. Plus Brandy and I share an amazing agent, Rachelle Gardner of Books and Such Literary, so we connect in two different, but precious, communities. Congratulations, Brandy!

All too soon Jerry and my lovely dream-of-a-stay came to an end. I waited inside the double doors as Jerry retrieved our car, standing just away from the blustery gusts of a very cold late afternoon. Two porters stood opening and closing the doors as each traveler came and went. Each was greeted with a genuine smile, and I found myself wondering if doing a job which required such consistent, cheerful kindness actually made a person feel happier. I finally got up the nerve to ask the smiling man during a break in the action. He said the Broadmoor was careful in its hires, getting good people who represented it well, but that being cheerful did help a person feel cheerful.

As I did the night before when I visited with our valet, I wondered at the stories this man could tell, at the people he’d met.

I think a novel series set at the Broadmoor is brewing. What do you think? Would you read it? I know I wouldn’t mind going back for more research! ;o)

I was a bit wistful as Jerry pulled into the circular drive and our dreamy experience ended. Thankfully the Creator topped it off with a gorgeous white moon to see us home.

The next morning Jerry made the boys and me our traditional Saturday morning whole wheat pancakes. Maybe the Broadmoor ambiance continued to flow through my veins because I decided my breakfast needed to be pretty. Which goes to show it doesn’t take a fancy resort to embrace moments of celebration. Like the smiling doorman, I want to find and spread joy in my ordinary days. It seems a worthy goal.

back home

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The Stuff Dreams are Made Of

Twinkle lights shimmered in the trees lining the circle drive leading to the Broadmoor Resort and Hotel, a statement of elegance built in Colorado in 1918.

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It’s one of my very favorite places, and for years I’ve dreamed of staying there overnight with Jerry. It seems the One Who Loves wanted Jerry and me to have a special Valentine’s Day present, complete with all the trappings.

It all started when the Christian Writer’s Guild invited met to represent ACFW CO at a dessert featuring Believer’s Press, a new publishing arm of the Guild.

Hubby agreed to attend with me, and I eagerly anticipated enjoying the Broadmoor’s ambiance as well as learning more about this new opportunity in the publishing world. I became even more excited as I learned that two of my favorite authors, Angela Hunt and Brandilyn Collins would talk about their latest books, published by the elite Jerry B. Jenkins line of Believers Press. There are few ladies in the business I respect more. (The lighting wasn’t good, but decided to share the photo anyway.)

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(R to L) Brandilyn and Angela are pictured here with Dave Sheets, from Believers Press, best-selling author Jerry B. Jenkins, and fellow author Sammy Tippit.

All of that would have been wonderful enough, but then I got a beautiful little email offering Jerry and me a night at the Broadmoor as guests of the Christian Writers Guild! Talk about over-joyed!

I convinced Jerry (who doesn’t especially like dressing up) to wear his new purple shirt and black slacks, and off we went. He also doesn’t like his picture taken, but I talked him into posing on the Broadmoor’s marble staircase. I think I got my way a lot during our special time away. ;o)

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Since the Broadmoor opened in 1918, I couldn’t help but compare it with descriptions I’d read of the RMS Titanic, which sailed in 1912. Most of you know I wrote Titanic: Legacy of Betrayal with my friend and fellow author Kathleen E Kovach. Part of my research for this book included delving into the opulence of the wealthy in the early 1900s. (If you’d like to talk about our novel on your blog, contact me about a review copy!)

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I love the historic refinement of the Broadmoor. The huge bouquets that grace antique tables in the lobby never disappoint, full of fragrant beauty (no fake flowers here!).

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I always slip into the ballroom to twirl just a bit on the glowing wooden floor (complete with springs underneath for cushy dancing in those heels!). Since I actually had hubby with me on this visit, I slipped into his arms and we waltzed a few steps to our own music.

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The Broadmoor maintains its historical tenor, and our room came complete with this beautiful chandelier and gorgeous topper above our feather-pillowed bed.

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bed

Classical music completed the ambiance as it sang from the device next to my bed, which had already been prepared with turn-down service. This included chocolates and fluffy white robes laid across mounds of pristine sheets, comforters, and layers of white pillows. Our bellman, Joseph, carried our bags into the room and made sure we were settled in. Watching him serve us with such genuine kindness made me wonder what his life is like, what type of people he has met, and what stories he could share. I hope he feels satisfaction in his gift of service. I hope he is appreciated and knows that he is.

After Joseph left Jerry and I then embraced the elegance with white wine, dark chocolates with salted caramel, and candle light.

As I put these memories to words I am at home in my very normal house in a very normal suburb, far away from anything opulent. And yet life is full of beauty here, too. Our married daughter popped in unexpectedly, and I just happened to have planned a big evening meal, so she stayed awhile and her husband joined us. We sat around the table eating off my hand-me-down plates, the rich greens and reds of the salad and the deep orange of sweet potatoes providing specks of color. In the middle of the table a flame flickered in my snowman candle.

Sarah told stories of her new job, of the precious people she serves, and I cried at the sheer beauty of what can happen when people love each other and reach for the Divine. The boys told jokes. Jerry sent me a secret smile, thanking me for sweet potatoes he loves. David and Stephen planned a taxing hiking adventure. I made after dinner tea.

During our lean years I fought to discover (or create) beauty that had no price tag. Sometimes life felt so barren I thought I would dry up, curling brown at the edges, crusty with thirst.

And then there would be a blue sky. A flower. An unexpected abundance of food. A book. A simple family meal where everyone seemed filled-up with the sheer goodness of being together.

Whispers of love.

My great delight at our Broadmoor experience will long remain with me, a brush of refinement, an immersion of beauty. And I will be grateful. A bit breathless.

But I’m learning that these moments don’t only come in the abundant times. Sometimes I am immersed in beauty in the simple pleasures of daily life. And I am grateful. A bit breathless.

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Monday Morning Makeover ~ Valuing Yourself

Monday Morning Makeovers explore shedding the proverbial weight–whether it’s the extra we lug on our bodies or the baggage of the soul. Today we ask the question: What does your heart treasure?

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Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Jail that Sucker!

Person-weighing-themselve-007“The scale is an excellent tool for determining our weight, but it’s a terrible tool for determining our worth.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst

This one statement  is worth the price of Lysa’s book, The Made to Crave Devotional, in my humble opinion. The weight loss journey can be so emotional, and when we tie our feelings of worth to the scale it is damaging.

I truly believe the Creator wants us to be strong and healthy. But not because that’s what it takes to be beautiful, valuable, accepted, or worthy. We are those things at 250 or 150! Or anywhere above or below. We are His treasures.

I have long thought about the concept of my thought life and its effect on my choices, negative thoughts, especially. And when negative thoughts are specific to thinking about who we are, personally, they are particularly damaging.

Years ago I read a book by Beth Moore called, Breaking Free. It was obviously impacting because I’m still talking about it. She says we need to put those negative thoughts in “jail.” I doubt I’ll ever forget the little picture that illustrated this concept. It had the bad thought behind bars.

I read the book about 11 years ago. Back then I allowed my thoughts to constantly beat me up, point out every inadequacy, and leave me feeling like a failure. But once I understood negative thinking goes against the TRUTH, real change in my life began. I experienced freedom and victory like never before. There’s a verse in the Bible that  says it is for freedom that Christ freed us. But too often even though we’ve been set free from all condemnation by His sacrifice, we keep ourselves in bondage, living under the cloud of disapproval.

I have good news!. Our Creator does NOT disapprove of us. He adores us. And we don’t have to disapprove of ourselves, either.

I love Lysa’s thougts. When she comes up against an attitude, comment or thought that has potential to return her to the bondage of self-condemnation she asks: Is it true? Is it beneficial? Is it necessary?

If not, put that sucker in jail!

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Put negativity behind bars!

Full

Filled up.

Full of hope. Of family. Of food.

Sometimes life sneaks up on a gal and is perfect, if but for a fleeting moment.

The college age son popped in for the weekend, and I cooked like a crazy woman.

The married kids surprised us with their presence, too.

Extended family shared our table.

Hubby beamed at me from above his plate, decorated with splashed of color. Carrot orange. tomato red. Green bean . . . green, of course.

Multiple conversations going on around us, we have our own private talk with only our eyes.

He feels it, too. The joy of so many crowded in the kitchen. The wonder of good food. The way an ordinary day can become extraordinary.

And we are grateful.