videos of abs-seriously?…seriously!…seriously.

I’ve been asked by she-who-refuses-to-be-named to provide short videos of my ab exercises. “Even professionals do this,” said she. That, I assured her, I am not. But then, I like being the headless ab (see blog on abs for the inside joke). If I can get my 5 yr old to hold the camera still, I’ll see what can be done.

Varicose vein fix

Age is a mean thing, especially as it relates to legs. Proportionately, the legs cover the most territory, get the most exposure, and get brutalized by sun, standing or knocks against doors and tables.
My Swedish family, the woman and men therein, seem to have a high rate of varicose veins. We may be tall, nordic beings that are cool with ebelskiva and swedish pancakes, but are so tightly wound we’ve cut off the circulation in our legs. These lovely red things come in different shapes and sizes, all of which mentally scarred me as a child. I remember sitting at the lake with my aunts, who were all in a circle. The lawn chairs were sat in water (the lagoon by the beach was high that year). Five sets of feet were in the water, and the women (including my mom) were yapping about their legs.(PS-ebelskiva’s are wonderful, round little pancakes that look like oversized golf balls, made in a special cast iron pan. yum. us Swedes and our pancakes)
“Don’t ever cross your legs,” one opined.
“And don’t stand too long,” said she with eleven children.
“Make sure to exercise,” said another one, the shortest, who was a professional speed walker, “and don’t sit for too long without moving.”
“Eat your greens,” said the jovial, rotund one, who was gave this planet eight boys and one girl.
“Eh, it’s all hogwash,” disputed my mother.  “You can’t do anything about it. You’ll either get them or you won’t.” Leave it to my mom, the shrink, to cut through the crap. “And by the way, they will either come when you have kids or they won’t. Your choice.”
Turns out, they were all right to varying degrees. Starting at that moment, I tried to listen to them all, while taking my mom’s comment with a degree of salt. As a teen, I rarely crossed my legs, exercised through sports in school until I left for college and ate cabbage.
However, my good habits went downhill at college, and moreso when I entered the workforce. I crossed my legs during meetings or when I thought it was going to be sexy (that happens when you date). I went through years of not-really exercising (San Francisco + hills + the high cost of gyms didn’t incentivize me to workout)
Photo credit of Beautyfactor

The little spider veins came first. On the top of my left thigh, little, bitty red lines that extend out, exactly in the spot where my right leg rested. Clearly, my thighs had some girth to push down and pop those suckers.

The ugly, blue and purple lines started on the back of my left leg, just below the knee after my second child. With the third, they became more pronounced. They also started to hurt a bit, at odd times. Noting aunts and cousins with veins that popped out to the point of being external arteries coursing up and down, I freaked, and asked my mom.
She then told me twenty years before, she’d had her legs stripped of a lot of veins to get rid of hers. So, heredity had me by the legs, she said, and I was doomed.
Not so! I vowed. I read. I wasn’t about to go get shot up with saline solution, burned up with a laser or have my actual blood-pumping pipelines excavated. So I tested myself like the medical guinea pigs of yore, and found some natural and cheap fixes.
Stinky, but it works, on both the little spider veins as well as the purple/blue varicose veins. It’s available at PCC, Whole Foods and on-line. I’ve used the oil application as well as the spray. When I started putting it on morning and night, brushing then rubbing it in vigorously. It took four months, but the spider veins  on my thigh have almost entirely disappeared. The ones on the back of my leg have reduced to the point they don’t bother me.
2. Rosemary by Dr. Haushkah did the final trick. This is great for making sure the spider and varicose veins stay at bay, since it increases circulation/stimulation. Thus, I also put this stuff on the back of my arms if I’m feeling flabby, as well as the back of my legs (don’t tell).  Check out Dr. Hauschka’s homeopathic section. This whole product line rocks. I’ve been using it for about 10 yrs, and I have nothing but good things to say about the products. 
When these two things fail (as in, your legs are too far gone, or you don’t have the time or patience to apply this stuff) I have one word for you. Cheat.
Go for make-up to hide the damage.
1.Dr. Haushka has this product for cover-up.
2. Professional make-up works best, though you can use Mac cover make-up pro line works (it’s available at most Mac counters). Love this pro-make up site. Personally, I like the Ben Nye products. A very teeny tiny bit goes a long long way. Perfect for tattoos and things you want to keep, but don’t want to show at Aunt Myrna’s fourth wedding.
3. Bananas. My father-in-law heard me mention my sore legs one time, whilst we were shimmying up a rock wall in Colorado. 
“Eat bananas,” he said. “Lots of potassium.” Of course I internally scoffed. What would a long-haired hippy know about leg aching. Alot, it turns out. I was in pain, he had a banana. I ate. He was right. How is it that all my elders know this stuff?
Since then (12 yrs ago), I eat a 1/2 a banana every day. The day after I’ve forgotten, or told myself I was ‘over it’, sure enough, the pain returns. 
Despite my bad genes, three kids and not-so-perfect stretch of eating and exercising in for a decade, I’ve managed to turn back the tide a bit on the legs. I figure at some point, the vessels will pop like a done turkey, but for now, I’m going to stick with my stinky process. It’s worth it.

Best gifts for women-my deepest secret no more

Due to an overwhelming request from certain women (and a few husbands) who shall remain anonymous, I’m reluctantly divulging my best secret for getting high quality jewelry at low prices.


Put it in your iphone notes. Your address book. Get on line. Get the newsletter. Get the catalog. Here’s why. Real diamond flower rings for $85 (on special today). Sapphire and diamond bracelet for $175. Big, fat quartz cocktail rings for $60. Here’s my philosphy–men, if you’re going to spend $50 bucks on a steak dinner that’s going to process through your stomach and out your bum in 3 hours, why not take that money and buy something for your significant other, who will give you undying love for a lot longer than 3 hours. (Rog is screeching in the background). He hates it when I use that analogy, but it’s TRUE. Men want fishing poles. Women want jewelry.

Girls. We have some shopping to do. Christmas is coming up, that means moms, sisters, friends. Then MEN, we have Valentines, then Mother’s Day shortly thereafter.

For the absolute, positive, best deal around, this is what you do.

1-get the catalog. The catalog often has extra special 25% off the normal 50% off prices

2-get on the newsletter. The on-line newsletter sends out extra 10% off deals. Today, I got one that announced another 15% off on a ring I’d already purchased for a friend a few months ago from the catalog. While the difference wasn’t huge, it was still another twenty bucks.

3-be ready to pounce. I’ll admit it. I love a good deal. Who doesn’t?

My trick is to take all the loose change around the house and put it in a little piggy account. Rog actually calls it my pin-money. As in, the forty-year old phrase used to describe housewives who took a dollar and pinned it to their brassiere “just in case.” I love the pin-money phrase, because it’s never enough to be MAD money. I keep a ziplock back in my car for loose change, a bag in the kitchen (for Rog’s loose change) and one in the laundry room, for change that falls out of Rog’s pocket. See my strategy? It all adds up to big bucks. Every 20 counts. It only takes a few twenties and badda-bing-badda-boom, I can buy a new ring.

I’m already planning for Christmas, because the economy is so bad, that things are going on sale earlier than every. Why pay retail is my motto. Have fun and think ahead!!!

Fall clean-up

In the great northwest, September means fall clean-up and a bit of planting. This year has meant a lot of both, and I’ve learned a ton about what not to due thanks to the intrepid, ever daring and eternally patient Janel Ecker, of Terra Firma Landscape Design. Who, will likely kill me for mentioning her unless I also type “she doesn’t do the dirt part.” ergo, she designs, not digs.

Lesson number one. Hire a designer first. Bribe. Trade. Babysit. All of the above. When I was a high-heeled, pale, non-jean San Francsico girl and moved up here out of love (and a bit of lust), I naively hired a guy with a big machine. That happens…in any case, he moved a lot of dirt around, but put lots of things in the ground that started green and ended up brown. Permanently.

Lesson two. Ask your ‘advisor’ if they know what kind of soil you have. In my case, the reason we could even afford this property was because it was/is, in the middle of nowhere, relatively speaking, outside Seattle, and it was also horse pasture. Stinky, slimy, rat-infested, dung heaps surrounding a decrepit old house. We were young(er), without children and thought it would be an adventure.

Lesson three. Ask your mother “why she’s crying” when you proudly show her your new pad. And when she gives you the honest answer, “Honey, whatever you have as a budget, double it once, then double it again, and maybe you’ll come close.”

Lesson four. Don’t believe your husband when he says his mother in law “doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” As one year of remodel stretched to 2, then 3, then 4, she was right. But we were still married.

Lesson five. Play Rock Paper Scissors. It saved our marriage. At the beginning of the project, my contractor took us aside and sat us down. We thought he was going to change the price before he’d dug a shovel of dirt.

“I like you two,” he began, his wisened old face scrunched up as he took a drag on his cigarette. “So I gotta tell ya. The three top reasons for divorce are 1-death of a child, 2-job loss and 3- remodel.”

Rog and I looked at each other. We didn’t have the contract in front of us, but I felt pretty sure we hadn’t signed up for the marriage counseling add-on option.

“Well, this is a remodel. And I’d hate to see you kids get divorced.”

Oh, was that all, we said collectively, sighing with relief.

“No, you don’t understand. You like each other know. Maybe even love each other. But when you are twelve months into this and sleeping on the floor with dust in your mouth, you may want out.”

We laughed uncomfortably.

“Get a system now,” he recommended. “Doesn’t matter what it is. Flip a coin. Throw stones. Just pick one.”

Rog likes to proudly announce he’s never been to a therapist, but he has. This was it. That bit of wisdom has seen us through 12 years, and we employed Rock Paper Scissors. Even today, we use it to solve major differences. Rog got his colored walls, I got my garden. It all worked out.

Now, I actually started this blog thinking I was going to write about fall clean-up. So here it is:
1-planting trees. If it has a root ball, take the burlap sack down half-way and tuck it under. This is because the small tentacles on the bottom (in and outside the burlap sack) are feeders for the tree. Removing the sack entirely removes/kills all the feeders. No wonder I’ve killed so many trees!!

2-trim all the hostas. Never done that before either. I thought they were the raggedy look was supposed to represent fall. “Give them a haircut” said Janel, by lifting up the roots, and trimming the top. I was mortified that at 42, I had no idea of either this tip, or the one above.

3-plant plant–seed seed. This is a great time to seed and fertilize the lawn. As much as I like moss, I would like a blade of grass now and then.

4-prepare for winter. I read this is supposed to be 2 years of El Nina, and that means likely 2 ft of snow at the house. We got 2 cords of wood (yes, and I stack it myself), 2 pallats of pellets (Rog helps on that) and make sure the tub works for long soaks.

5-check your regional advice. I really like Home and Garden’s regional section. I can never remember what I’m supposed to do, even when I’ve bribed someone to tell me. This month’s October section was perfect. If it hadn’t been for my reading, I would have forgotten to divide (well, Janel told me once, I forgot already and them remembered. Thx H & G)

I’ve already mowed the lawns today, perhaps for the last time this year. As my relatives bake in the 100+degree of Arizona and Nevada, I must say, I do envy the warm weather and ability to get some vitamin D. But I wouldn’t trade the beautiful fall weathers for a tan. I’ll happily cover up my under-belly-of-a-slug white for the natural loviliness of fall.

Caffeine Withdrawals

My hands are shaking as I type this, so be kind, and overlook fragments, extra spaces or run-on sentences…

Last night, my scare was that I was going to have another child. Pregnant and 42 is not my ideal right now. It would have to be an act of God, but that’s another story. The withdrawal part is that I figured if I was, beyond the mortification and pain of pregnancy I’d endure (again), I’d be mainlining my child caffeine through the vats of chocolate I eat every day. Now, mind you, it’s not a vat. But it’s enough–a piece here and there-to probably equal some great cappucino. Both are loaded with caffeine. Each addictive. And each harder to quit that crack. Well, or so I’ve heard. Since I don’t like the notion of a newborn addicted to anything (save green vegies), I had to go cold turkey.

Oh, what a mother will do……Here’s the signs of withdrawal, what to do, and how to live to the following morning.

Signs–headache over my right eye first. It begins around five pm. By eight, it has spread to the entire side of my head, making it painful to move my neck. Midnight means I’m lying down, because my body quivers when I walk. Three am, I’m praying for a sudden death. I’m shaking. Five in the morning, I’m vomiting. At seven, I’ve put the pillow over my head, trying to hide the obvious from Rog, who knows the symptoms of withdrawal. Back when he had sympathy for me, he’d do anything for me. Now, he shakes his head, because I know better, and haven’t “kicked this habit once and for all.” This morning, he rushed out the door without noticing my bloodshot eyes or the dark, smoky looking rim underneath, due to smudged mascara (see vomit point above). It’s 10 now, and I’m fully recovered.

What to do:
Whatever you’re addicted to (ok, within legal bounds)….first, get prepared with an ice pack, and Arsenicum, a homeopathic remedy you can get at your local PCC, Whole Foods or health food store. It is for combating food poisoning. Yes, caffeine in large does is considered a poison. Anything that causes black teeth, stimulates cancer cell growth (as told to me by a dr at the cancer center here in Seattle-that’s another story), saps the collagen from our faces, and dramatically reduces the bone density SHOULD be considered food poison.

As a side note, I really like ABC Homeopathy. Even my husband, once a non-believer in natural medicine, goes to this site when I’m not around or he can’t get in touch with our homeopath.

When the onset hits, post headache and pre-puking, take a white pill. If the symptoms abate, then take one every 2-4 hours. If they don’t you can take it more often. Avoid taking it too much, since it can actually make you sick. (I’m making the leap you readers are smart enough to consult the Internet or a homeopath for more details. I’m giving advice from 30 years of using this stuff, all the while at the direction of my homeopathic swami)….

Back to what you do.
Fizzy water, no sugar, is good, in small amounts. Also, dehydration sets in very quickly. Chamomile tea with a bit of lemon is good. Lemon=highest amount of vitamin C. Honey generally has a mellowing affect. If lemon rips your system apart (as in, gives you diarrhea), don’t use it. But keep the tea and honey part. A cracker or two is going to sound nauseating, but eat it with the tea or the fizzy water. It’s 10:49 now, and I’m going back and forth (still) between the tea, the cracker and the fizzy water. About a tablespoon of each to keep hydrated. (note-the headache will come back if the body doesn’t get enough water).

What’s happening…I’m no dr., but I should be on that rehab show, Just for Idiots. Ok, I’ve not seen that yet, but it should be on TV, for people like me. Then I could get paid for being stupid enough to go through this time and again.

My swami tells me I wouldn’t be so sensitive to caffeine if I drank, smoked, or generally ate bad food. But I don’t. The rest of my diet is oddly ‘clean’, as in, organic, no preservatives, I make most of my own food. My singular are those black, little quarter size dollops of chocolate that resemble a chipmunk dropping, nuts and all.

What’s in front of me. This morning, two pregnancy tests showed negative. WAHUUUUU!!!! Of course, the first thing I want to do is celebrate with my treat of choice. But I’ve gone through so much pain and misery, hugged the toilet bowl more than I hug my daughter, I’m repeating to myself “never again, never again.” As I’m feel better by the moment, the true test will be if I can display any sense of willpower (and common sense) and not go through this again, w/out the threat of additional progeny as motivation.

A bit-o-inspiration

An hour ago, my personal tank of inspiration had run dry. No more creativity. Few cohesive thoughts. The break allowed me to think about inspiration. The first notion being selfish, as in ‘why can’t I get a bit more right now’, followed shortly by, “and why do others seem to have more than their fair-share and I’m deprived.”

After P-dog farted on my leg (she’s my writing partner, and doubles as the resident couch potato), I gained a jolt of perspective. Inspiration are the gifts of light that come at strange times, after a lot of hard work, thought, concentration and desire. (see photo. note laptop, and my p-doggy (this was pre-gas-btw)

Frank Tibolt said it best: “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”

Over the last eight years, countless people have said to me–“I’ve always wanted to be an author, but…” I listen to incredible ideas; more than a few that are leagues better than my own ideas. I nod my head in complete understanding, wait for the inevitable question about ‘how’, then pull from John Grisham, who says “just write”.

At that point, I hear the same comments and excuses for not writing as I, myself made for 20 years. Right up until the time Rog finally told me to “forget the dream, make it a reality.”

Bless that boy for his bluntless. We were hiking on the side of a 9K Colorado mountain, and he’s like a billy goat going up that thing. The last comment I wanted to hear was something motivational. But he was  friend at that moment, and called it right. Within the hour of coming down off the mountain, I pulled out the laptop, told his mother-in-law I needed 20 minutes and wrote the outine for my first book. Can’t recall if I told the story, but within 20 days, I had an agent, and 40 days after that, a book deal.

Back to my dilemna an hour ago, it’s hard work (persperation begets inspiration). Can a jazz musician be inspired if he/she isn’t playing? No. Neither can a writer be inspired if not in the act of writing. A peruvian proverb essentially says that “little by little one walks far.” In real terms, my producer friend in LA recently tried to rid me of some impatience-despondence about the movie development cycle. He said that some days, forward progress is measured only inches.

“But after a few days, those inches become a foot,” he said. “A few months later, those feet equal a mile. And soon enough, that equates to a full movie.”

When I get bummed out, tired, or drop a bit on the mojo-scale, these trite, pithy and worn phrases pop to mind. Tonight, I got up, gave my daughter a hug, listened to some good music, and had an incredible scene come to mind. 30 min later, the scene was written, I sent it off to the producer, felt so satisfied I just had to share with my peeps.

Great baby finds for showers & gifts

Something’s in the air, and it involves big bellies. Six women are preparing to give birth in the next few months. With the recession slamming the doors on already threatening boutique baby shops, where does a girl (and some husbands/friends/spouses) turn, but to the Internet.

I’m going to save someone the time and energy of looking and give you some great sources for unique, high-quality and affordable baby stuff. And if you’re a man reading this, remember that you win GREAT POINTS for getting your female co-worker, cousin, sister, friend, something cool. You are guaranteed to be named in a will if you actually look/find/buy it yourself, without relying upon a female conspirator.

First things first. The best, highest-quality and least expensive source for printed anything. I’ve used Tinyprints for my own birth announcements, two wedding shower and a baby shower. If you want to surprise someone, use this source (shout out to Darcy for showing me the way on this one). Pick the item, the color, upload the photos, proof and wallah! You are done and looking like a superstar.

Next, go for the gifts at Too Cute Baby Gifts. I particularly like the Personalized section, because it has items as low as $19.99 and then upper end stuff of course. Think this is over-the-top? Think again. 20 bucks is about the same as a dinner at a regular restaurant (or less), and it will last years. The impression and thought goes a long way. I spent another $10 and got the lamb set for the wife of my voice teacher. At $27, it’s a great gift, and free shipping. If you don’t have a clue, go for the giftbaskets. You can’t go wrong.

If you are a fashionista, and want to make a statement (as in, get all the other ladies and a few men saying ‘aahhhh’), check out I love the variety of organic bibs, burping, nursing clothes etc., and the cool baby bags, although that’s normally an oxymoron. But I’ve had good luck, as in, the mom-to-be has never returned one.

I’ve a few more, but I need to reserve a few for the next two weeks before I do my shopping. I’d hate to have every single friend check out what I’m going to get.

Smile today

This is for the sad looking man at the grocery store today
The person who needs a fast-paced ‘happy song’, an inspirational, motivational upper
Anyone who thinks life is horrible, depressing and only getting worse.

I have this song on 2 devices, two computers, and as a backup, on a memory card in my car. At times, I’m three of the above. the music and lyrics are great-not in love with the video, so close your eyes if you need to.

Smile by bendj

Sunday, running shoes and family

Sunday’s are great for two reasons. The first is because in theory, I get to exercise, and the second, I get to go to church. One is for health the other for my happy factor. Allow me to explain.

Like every other day, I’m typically awoken by one of my two cats, laying on either side of me, reminding me it is possible to have a sunspot while on Earth, my dog, who needs to be let out, or one of my daughter’s who is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the six-am-range.

Today was no different. By 7 I had donned on the running shoes for my exercise of choice, the treadmill. Yet, Porsche wants pancakes, Sophia is trying to squeeze her head through the metal rungs by our stairs. You get the picture. Time passes, breakfast, cleaning, etc., and I’m not on the treadmill. I’m literally walking towards the rubber mat of death, when Rog comes around the corner, wearing new running shoes and says “hey! want to go running outside?”

Now, I’ll let you in on something. Rog is from Ouray, Colorado, raised at @7K feet elevation. He runs like a gazelle. He needs to run like a fish needs to learn how to breath under water. Which means he’s really telling me that I he bought a new pair of shoes he wants to test out. You must also understand I like being dry, which means running in the sun (or on the treadmill) whereas Rog actually likes the rain, snow, sleet etc. because he keeps cool (that freaking high metabolism again). Mind you, he looks down at his Puma running shoes that he scored for $50 on sale and we both start laughing. You see, he’s got two full bins of running, basketball, workout/lifting shoes upstairs, all of which look as spotless as the day he brought them home from the store.

By the time we get done debating the merits of taking both girls in the Burley, which is boasting one flat tire, the hills we have around the house and whether or not it’s good to run on cement, another 30 minutes has gone by. At 10 am, it’s time for me to get ready for church, thus eliminating the possibility of a workout. Now I get to attend church, a highlight of my week.

Now, this may come as a surprise, since I’m not sure what I come across like to those in my circle of the universe, but I’m pretty sure it’s not that I’m a church-going gal. But in fact, I do. And I like it.

I go by myself (Rog is somewhere between skeptical and angry on the religion spectrum, thus he stays home with the girls), and a funny thing happens. I hear stories of love, hardship, hope and faith, and whether I tune out with boredom during lows, or cry when touched by a heartwarming story, 60 minutes is all it takes to get re-centered on the important thing in life. Family.

One word. I know it. I’ve always known it. But nothing takes the place of hearing about a 42 yr old father of four dying of a heart attack to make me stop and say, WOW, I’m really glad that wasn’t my husband, followed by a quick run-through of all the great things about Rog. Not to sound sappy, but its easy to fall into a trap of non-appreciation, which begets ingratitude, begetting frustration…you see where this goes. And it turns out that no matter the topic (are there bad topics at church?), I come home quite happy to see Rog and the family.

A few years ago, I got lazy. I stopped going for a few months, slept in (we only had 1 kid at home) and Rog said–“have you stopped going?”

“No,” I replied. “I’m just taking a break.” Thinking he’d be pleased, I asked him why he asked the question in the first place.

His answer shocked me.

“Well, I don’t know how to say this, but you are a lot nicer to me when you go to church.”

How’s that for some thick irony? Since then, I only miss if we are out of town or sick. And when I come home, Rog has had “protected time” with his girls, usually the only moments of such he gets during the week.

Now that Rog and P are off at the fair, I’ll get my workout after all. And it was all ok it didn’t happen on my timeline.  I’m happy, feeling appreciative for a (live), gainfully-employed, supportive spouse.

Just this morning…Marital discord, happiness and Thunk

Do you ever wake up, the sun is shining (somewhere), you feel good and then BAM, it all goes downhill? That was this morning…picked what was left of the tomatoes in the garden, such as it was this year, walked around w/P and little P (P-dog), chased rabbits….then Rog and I get into a scrap. Not a major scrap, but enough that we retreat to our respective corners (he the bathroom, me to the office) for personal timeouts. BTW—this nearly saved our marriage a few times. Blood pressure rises, irrationality sets in, and then one of us (the person who’s being-big at the moment) calls for a personal time out.

In any case, he beat me to the punch, called the personal time out first (leaving me more angry), I took my walk, and was bound to set things right. I find him taking a shower, tell him I’m leaving to run errands, and he starts laughing. The inside joke here is that he knows I a) wanted to leave w/out telling him, in the hopes of making him angry, but b) this was my way of saying I’m sorry, although aa) not asking for an apology nor ab) offering one. He then says:

“Since you’re being big, and I know you know that I know you want an apology from me, but you’re being too small to give me one, I’ll give you one first. Then I’ll be bigger than you twice!”

He laughs with the moral superiority that only a spouse who has just won a scrap can, upon which I laugh (at my smallness) and call him a Thunk. That would be the combo of a Thug (which, if you’ve done business with my hard-headed husband, he is a Thug) and Lunk (because if you’ve seen him playing hockey-you also know he’s a Lunk. In fact, that’s Porsche’s nickname for him). Thug+Lunk=Thunk.

There you have it. Now I can be off on my errands, the world set in fine order, a new word to boot.

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