Sunday, February 7, 2016

Shake It Off

I was struggling to come up with a title for this post. I was going to go with "Country to Contemporary" but our house wasn't really full-fledge country decor. It was more typical 1990's: honey colored oak cabinets, trim, doors… and brass fixtures. Hunter green and burgundy were all the rage.

Then I thought back to how I felt the first time I walked in the home we had purchased after I had seen it one time on a day I saw 12 other houses and Pete only saw the pictures I sent him. Perhaps it was the stress of moving 500 miles from family and friends, literally changing everything in our lives, missing my kids as I was away from them for weeks at a time, but that moment I walked in to our new home I broke down. I was completely overwhelmed. I wanted to change everything and I didn't know where to start. It was not what we had planned and I was having a serious case of buyers remorse.

I walked out and spent the next day and a half at my apartment. I just couldn't bring myself to go back to the house. I finally came to my senses and realized I was waisting precious time. I went to Lowe's, picked out colors and painting supplies and got to work. Every night after work, I cleaned, painted, and researched on Pinterest.

HONEY OAK is not my thing. I read several posts on how to paint trim white and options for refinishing the cabinets myself. I settled on Java Gel Stain but seriously considered chalk/milk paint. I couldn't be happier that we went with the stain vs. paint. We painted the trim around the windows and some bathroom cabinets and I just think the stain looks so much better.

I tried to capture some before and after pics in the same angle.

I am still looking for 2 stools to slide under the island but haven't seen anything I loved.

Refinishing the cabinets really wasn't hard at all. A bit time-consuming but if I can do it, anyone can. We also reused the existing hardware. We cleaned it and then spray painted it a brushed metallic. It has been about 6 months and no sign of wear and tear. Since we were redoing every room, it is hard to say exactly how much we spent on the kitchen but I am guessing around $350 and that includes the new light fixture, paint, stain, clear coat and all supplies.

I haven't hung any pictures or really done any decorating. We are trying to make the best of the furniture we have but I learned it doesn't easily translate from one house to another.

I can't help but wonder what the boy who lived in this room would think now that it is glowingly pink.

My goal with the closet was to make it feel more like a playroom than a closet. I was hoping Ella would be more likely to keep her toys in her closet or even her room if it felt more inviting. I painted the shelves black and the wall a darker pink. We stained all the doors the the dark like the kitchen cabinets and the trim is all white.

I can't say the original color combo is from the 90's but it sure seems popular in this area.

I pretty much copied this bathroom right from a Pinterest post I found.

Once I get Alex's pictures hung and pull our master bedroom together I will do another post. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I no longer have buyers remorse. We have learned so much about DIY, about ourselves and I am definitely more confident with interior design than I was a year ago.

A huge thank you to the internet, the DIY bloggers and Pinterest!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Still Living SUGAR FREE

So it's been a month (32 days but who is counting?) since I made a spur of the moment decision to embark on a 3 day "sugar detox". At the time I committed to 3 days and really didn't know what I would do beyond that.

I am delighted to report that I am now 32 days clean. I say clean because I had to look at this as any other addiction. If I thought of it as a typical diet, I have no doubt I would have fallen off the wagon by now. But an addiction is serious. An recovering alcoholic avoids alcohol for life and doesn't celebrate special occasions or reward themselves with a little drink. That is how I have had to embrace this change and honestly, it hasn't been nearly as hard as I had feared.

First I want to thank all of you who have inspired me to take this step, encouraged me to keep it up and helped me by sharing web-sites, reading materials and tips/tricks. I am fumbling my way through this lifestyle change and learning new things everyday with your help so a huge thank you!

We were just home over Halloween and lots of folks had questions on what I am doing so I thought with this update I would share.

There are lots of resources out there for detoxes, cleanses, good carbs, bad carbs and clean eating just to name a few of the buzz words. I am not really doing any official plan. I read several and am just making this up as I go. I am sure it isn't perfect but I am trying to figure out what foods help fuel my body while not totally sacrificing my soul.

I have basically cut simple carbohydrates out of my diet. I avoid processed sugar is another way to put it. That means no:

  • sugary treats (you know cakes, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, donuts, poptarts...)
  • no bread
  • no pasta
  • no rice (well almost, twice in the last 32 days I have had less than 1/2 cup of rice with a meal)
  • no white potatoes
  • no corn
  • limited dairy (still experimenting with this one)
  • practically no sauces of any kind as most have some form of sugar
  • no alcohol (oh, I did have 1 bloody mary on my visit home during a girls' night out)
Then I read that the body pretty much treats anything sweet as though it was sugar and that led me to cut out:
  •  artificial sweeteners (no diet coke, no sweetened yogurts, no sugar-free labeled items that still taste sweet)
And I realize there are natural sweeteners like honey and agave nectar, but I haven't eaten any of those this month either as I am a bit paranoid to include them at this point.

For the first 3 days, I cut out dairy and fruit all together. Since then I have added in 1-2 servings of fruit a day. I typically go for apples and berries. I also switched back to coffee. Tea with lemon was ok for the 3 day detox, but I am a coffee drinker and I am now able to enjoy a cup with a splash of 1/2 and 1/2 and no sweeteners.

So what does that leave me with:
  • lean meats and fish
  • eggs
  • almost any veggie
  • beans and hummus
  • nuts and natural, no added stuff nut spreads
  • 1-2 servings of fruit
  • I mostly drink water with lemon, a cup of unsweetened coffee a day and occasionally tomato juice if I am really craving something different to drink
The question I get most often is, "Do you feel different?"

This isn't a simple answer:
  • Things taste different. I had an apple that was so sweet I couldn't finish it.
  • I have lost just about 12 lbs so that part feels great and keeps me motivated
  • Pete says my face looks younger (when staring down the barrel of a big milestone who doesn't like to hear that?)
  • But I really don't have more energy or notice any better sleep or anything else
I had really hoped I would have had more weight loss than 12-ish pounds. Don't get me wrong, I am super happy to shed every single pound, but the first 7 came off in the first 8-9 days so I had really high expectations. Then it slowed and even bounced up and down a bit.

I did notice the seatbelt on the airplane had more room and this morning I squeezed in to jeans that had been collecting dust. Not comfortable enough to wear out but buttoned none the less.

I know I should avoid the scale but I really like that it keeps me honest. My next step is to take more steps. This past 32 days I focused on getting my eating habits right. Now I need to get back to the gym. My company has a state of the art (or really nice) facility here on campus free to its employees so I have no excuse not to take advantage of its services.

I also might start tracking what I eat with some sort of food diary. I really don't want to as I am never good about keeping up with them. I am tired of counting calories and so long as the scale is going down do I really have to?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sugar Detox Time

This realization/decision is a loooooooong time coming. I told myself I would wait to do a post until I had some results to share, but when I am excited about something I can't keep it to myself.

Obviously I am like so many people who struggle with food and have the extra pounds to show I am losing the fight. For many years I tried different ways of eating. I read several books on healthy eating and various diet plans, tried Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, subscribed to some fitness magazines and had a love/hate/commitment issues relationship with a could of gyms, my elliptical trainer, and walking. With each child I went up and down and up again until I had just had enough and settled for maintaining an unhealthy weight.

Lately I have been seeing more and more about sugar and artificial sweeteners. Started with a few Facebook friends posting about sugar addiction and doing a detox. Then I stumbled on a couple of articles and started tuning in to what I was consuming.

I am proclaiming myself to be addicted to sugar. My fix comes in all shapes and forms, not just desserts. I think that is why I was in denial for so long. Low fat didn't work. Eating in moderation was almost impossible. Granted I didn't truly study Atkins and never tried it because I just can't see cutting out fruit, beans and some veggies from a diet yet all you can eat bacon is ok.

As it started to sink in that I need to eliminate sugar from my diet, I didn't think it would be possible to go cold turkey. I turned to Pinterest to find out what a sugar detox is and if it was for me. I was delighted to find a 3 day detox.

I can do anything for 3 days, right?

The gist of this detox is no sugar, so no: bread, dairy, fruit or artificial sweeteners.

You eat proteins: meat (preferably lean), eggs, all the veggies you want (except potatoes and corn), and nuts

First challenge I faced: coffee. I love, did I mention how much I love, a good cup of coffee with half n half and sweet n low. Green tea was allowed as well as lemon so I was able to get that down. Not the same but it is 3 days.

I was pretty sure the sugar withdrawal symptoms would include a headache so I didn't want to top that with caffeine withdrawal as well. I tried coffee black but couldn't get through more that a few sips.

I had 3 eggs for breakfast 
Almonds for a snack
Lunch was a can of tuna with 1/2 an avocado, hummus, baby carrots, red peppers

2nd challenge was dinner. I had a work dinner at one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Additionally I was starting to get a cold so rather than wine I ordered hot water with lemon. The table ordered a caprese tower as an appetizer so I had a little tomato. I ordered scallops from the appetizer menu and a side of brussle sprouts.

Day 1 down 2 lbs.

Day 2 more green tea with lemon, more eggs, almonds. Then challenge 3: work lunch.
I was at a brainstorm with chocolates and treats all around the room. I was strong. I busted out my snack bag of baby carrots and they never tasted so good. Already after 1 day without sugar my tastebuds were changing, or it was mental. I had packed lunch but they ordered tomato soup, a southwest salad loaded with avocado, black beans, and tomatoes so I had some without any dressing and some grilled chicken.

I hit the grocery on the way home because I made this decision without an armed kitchen. Dinner was sautéed spinach, portobello mushroom, and an egg. While I was cooking I munched on red pepper strips and a little hummus.

Day 2 down another 1 1/2 lbs

Day 3, I worked from home as my cold is now fully developed. I have had headaches both days and also some stomach cramping. I read that bloating is also a symptom of sugar withdrawal so I think that is it.

I switched to black tea since it has more caffeine, but I only drank half. Still got a headache. Breakfast was some eggs, spinach and mushrooms. Lunch was some sliced turkey. I decided to make tomato soup so I was tasting that as a snack. Dinner was the soup with some kale chips, taro root chips and a few olives. Oh, I did cave in and had 1/2 a banana today as some of the plans I considered allowed a piece of fruit.

Tomorrow I will learn Day 3's results. 

I also have to figure out where to go from here. I hope to keep this up but will likely add in a little fruit and low fat dairy. It really wasn't too awful. I was craving diet coke and was tempted to have a little hot pretzel with dinner but I got through it, well so far.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives

Wwwhhhhooooo. This has been a long 7-8 month journey. Tomorrow, Pete and the kids officially join me in our new home away from home.

I have such mixed emotions.
   • excited to have us all together
   • nervous about making new friends, new schools, new everything
   • sappy, I am getting teary-eyed at everything. Commercials, songs, even America's Funniest Home Videos. I think I have an issue
   • loney - being here has been extremely isolating
   • tired - ready to be a full time parent again and tired of trying to weigh in from 500 miles away. I am tired of painting and working on our house. And I am really tired of having torn emotions and feeling like I am staring at the endless to do list.

As much as I can't wait to be a family together again, I would be lying if I didn't admit to being nervous too. I have become used to being alone and the quiet. I miss a house full but can also get overwhelmed when they are here. I am sure I will readjust quickly I just hope I can find patients while transitioning.

I have been really impressed with how well Pete and the kids have handled the shuffling this year. When I was their age, I would have been a drama queen to put it nicely and made my parents miserable if they made me leave my friends. Both Alex and Anna have been very mature I couldn't be more proud of them. And Ella has been amazing in our separation. She is such a momma's girl it could have been so much worse.

I can't thank Pete, my parents, my in-laws, and all those who helped us with the kids this past year. None of this would have been possible without your support.

We hope you will get a chance to come up and stay with us. 

I am so excited to surprise Ella tomorrow. Anna asked to have a vanity in her room and since she will be once again sharing a bathroom with her siblings and is now in to makeup and styling her hair, I figured it was a good idea and may avoid several bathroom battles.

I searched all over town and ended up purchasing this one on-line. It arrived this week and today I put it together.

As I ordered it, I knew Ella would want one too. She is more in to clothes and makeup than anyone and thinks she is13 too. I really didn't want to buy another one so I went all over town again. Anna had a mirror from Ikea that I could use. I really just needed a table and stool. I looked all over and today finally found a bedside table at Big Lots and the stool at Hobby Lobby. I did paint the legs of the stool black but that was it. I am sure the stool will be a mess by tomorrow night but I think she will love it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Oh the Places We Shall Go

I have written parts of this post in my head many times over the last 5 months. I would sit and think about what my relocation experience has been like and what I want to share. But then I was afraid to post anything and jinx it. I finally feel like we are starting the next phase of our journey.

In the last few months I had settled in an apartment in Wisconsin and begun my new job. I tried to get home to see my family at least every 2 weeks or they would come see me. I have built up quite a few Sky Miles in these last 5 months and painfully miss direct flights.

Fortunately I have no regrets about the position which is moving me from the only city I have really ever considered home. The job is everything I have been craving these last 15-20 years and since I haven't gotten any negative feedback or vibes, I think I am holding my own. I can't imagine how much this move would suck if I was struggling with my new role.

The only way to tolerate missing my family was to focus on each day at a time and the specific task at hand. When I was in Wisconsin, that was 100% devotion to my job, learning the ins and outs, building relationships and I kept myself busy on those insanely cold nights working while binging on Bravo and E! quality TV. I was doing pretty good with a workout routine until I attempted hiking and had an old soccer injury come back to bite me. I am just now finding my grove.

We put our house on the market and in just under a week we had a contract on it. Fortunately the new owners were able to let us extend our stay so the kids could finish the school year in our home and I had time to find a new one. I think I went through close to 30 homes. I liked several, put in an offer on one, lost out on one, and ended up purchasing a different one.

I thought house shopping was going to be fun, but I discovered I hated it almost as much as I hated shopping for a new car. Being under a time constraint was tough. I ended up purchasing a house Pete didn't get to see in person (and still hasn't) and I only got to see once (rather quickly on a day I went through 12 so they all blurred together). I closed on it and had a few nights last week where I was able to start painting. Unfortunately as I got a closer look, I suffered a bit of buyer's remorse. Every surface, E-V-E-R-Y SURFACE of the home needs painting. When I looked in the fridge and kitchen cabinets, they were - well gross. Crumbs, dog hair, dead bugs… My heart sank. This is the 3rd home we have purchased and the first time if it was dirty, I was too excited to notice. The 2nd one we purchased from people we knew and they were kind enough to hire a cleaner so it was in good shape when we took occupancy. An added plus was that I loved her taste and didn't need to paint anything immediately and was able to make small updates over the 11 years we owned the home. I was spoiled and had no idea.

But this one, sooooo disappointing. We will be painting every room, walls and ceilings. We need to finish the basement so we have a comfortable space for our out of town visitors to stay. Their dog did a number on all the woodwork so we are going to refinish/replace floors and paint the doors and trim. I am not a fan of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets and fixtures so thanks to Pinterest, I am going to take a stab at painting them. And I need to clean every room, drawer, shelf prior to starting. Lots of projects to tackle and I spend very little time in the state SO I started thinking what have I just gotten myself in to now?

Pete and some white paint on the ceiling made me feel better about my decision. While it is a huge project to take on, we have time and will eventually make it our own. It is a solid house and someday I will love the area (I am sure) as much (or maybe close) as I love our current neighborhood.

Life moves on, so rather than drown in my anxiety, I drove home to supervise the movers who are quite impressive to watch. Seeing every item (and some that we will likely pitch as we unpack) get wrapped, boxed and loaded is surreal. And we are so incredibly grateful we do not have to tackle this task ourselves. It allows us the time to scrub the house for the new owners. I hope they don't experience the same disappointment I did.

This summer the kids want to hang with their friends so our family has been generous enough to take us in. A few more weeks of separation. I will head back to WI, Chicago, Columbia, etc… for business travel, Pete and Ella will stay with his side of the family and Alex and Anna with my side.

I haven't let myself think about what we are leaving behind. Through all of this I hadn't shed a tear. I came close, but I had to look ahead and move forward. Yesterday a really sweet Facebook post hit me that we are saying good-bye to some wonderful people. And yes we will come back to visit but Ella won't be able to just run down the street to play with her buds and we have packed our inflatable babysitter (the bounce house) where the kids were entertained and we grownups could sit and catch up.

I am certain my movers thought I was nuts as finally the tears fell.

The kids are handling this all far better than I would have at their age. Hopefully we all keep our sanity over the next 6-ish weeks and that they adjust to their new schools with ease. That is probably the next biggest hurdle in our lives - that I know of...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Good Morning Sunshine

I have to thank LinkedIn for posting my 4 year Anniversary of TryFection in my news feed. Several people liked it and I even got a few congratulatory notes from my peers. Since I am a sucker for a guilt trip and I haven't written a post in a few years, I figured now is as good a time as any.

Why the silence?

I love having an outlet to express myself and that is exactly what TryFection is. It brings me so much joy to share the things I love with whoever pops in to listen. 2012 was definitely one of my most challenging years in every aspect of my life and having TryFection as a release was critical to my sanity:

  • My heart broke over a job with a company I felt let me down but I also have to take responsibility that I failed to make it work
  • I started a new job days later that provided all the challenges I longed for with the freedom to make the work my own, however the time commitment needed to succeed did not enable a work-life balance let alone time for blogging as the year progressed
  • Pete and I faced the toughest challenge as parents we had yet to endure when the relationship with a school we adored fell apart and we realized how toxic the environment was to our children
  • My dad battled stage 4 cancer
2013 and 2014 were a breath of fresh air:
  • My dad was proclaimed cancer-free and hopefully I am not jinxing any future scans by cherishing that
  • My kids thrived in their new schools, each found a group of wonderful friends, and you could actually see the growth of confidence in their faces and even their posture
  • I achieved professional successes I had never experienced and my confidence grew leaps and bounds as well. I owe so much to my team.

It is so true, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and Pete and I were as strong as we had ever been. It took every ounce of my time to grow personally and professionally and TryFection gathered dust.

In barges 2015…

Have you ever wished you could change everything in your life? I certainly never have. I was perfectly content. I loved our neighborhood, my career, our friends, closeness to our families... While nothing is perfect, it was everything I had ever wanted.

But then a professional opportunity knocked on my door. With Pete's support we decided it couldn't be passed up. I left a company filled with friends to start a new direction. I said good-bye to the agency world and entered the corporate side which also required a relocation almost 500 miles away from all our loved ones. We decided it would be easiest on our children if they finished the school year in Kentucky so I have begun our journey alone while Pete is flying solo holding down the fort.

I can honestly say I think it is going pretty well. I have to focus one day at a time and on the future. If I stop to think about what I am missing, I will have a breakdown. I am in a nice apartment and without anyone else to take care of I am putting all my energy into my new position, my health, and learning about our new home. While this has been an isolating experience, it has given me a once in a lifetime opportunity to devote a lot of time to reflect on my life.

I recently took a personality profile sort of test as a team building exercise and discovered I am yellow. I have taken a few of these in the past and while they are all pretty similar, this one was the most accurate by far. It was a little stunning to answer 20-ish questions and get back a full booklet with such deep insights on myself that couldn't be more true. It was almost creepy, actually.

Yellow is basically a free thinking optimist who needs constant stimulation and hates boring things, process and lots of data/facts to sift through. I am off the charts yellow. Here are some things in my report that deep down I have always known but never put it so simply and on paper from some computer-scary:
  • warm, open, realistic and radiates optimism
  • prepared to attempt almost anything
  • enjoys socializing but likes to plan her entertainment for maximum effect
  • seen by most others as friendly, practical, realistic and down-to-earth person
  • may find it almost impossible to say no, even when the demands are unreasonable
  • finds the diversity in the world immensely appealing
  • has a tendency to want to procrastinate
  • good at "reading" people and situations and will seldom be far wrong about the motivation or intent of another person (see, it's in writing)
  • fiercely loyal to her friends
  • prepared to sacrifice her own wants for the needs of others
  • her home is a haven for people to have a good time
  • proficient at alleviating the concerns of others
  • may be prone to embellishing the truth
  • rather self promoting and talkative (ya think?)
  • may be perceived as too trusting
  • may open her mouth and fall in (yes, but I can/have delivered many heart-felt apologies)
  • her solutions may appear rather "off the wall" (which explains so many meetings in my past)
Anyway, I couldn't get over the details. This booklet was 20 pages of who I am and the only thing I could really argue was that it stated I would not be able to keep my commitments because I over-extend myself too much. In reality I will pull an all-nighter and have many times because I would rather die than fail to deliver.

I hope in 2015 I have time to spend on TryFection. I know I am one of many who uproot and re-root but I would love to share my experiences with you. Lord knows I could use the support. I hope to share the places I find, the tools and tips I learn about, and I know I owe recipes to a couple of you. With any luck, I may convince some of you to stop up for a visit and come play with us. As always, I thank each of you for your continued encouragement, friendship, love and support.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Grateful for this Father's Day

This is probably the first Father's Day I haven't taken for granted. Last year, like every other I bought a card, rounded up my kiddo's and headed over to which ever meal my mom had planned to celebrate. Of course I gave my dad a hug and enjoyed watching him chuckle over the card I had selected, enjoyed the 2-ish hours with my family then headed back home to my normal routines.

Last year, as far as I knew my dad was healthy and I would have another 20-something days just like that. A few weeks after this typical Father's Day we learned my dad had cancer. He has spent the last year going to treatments and undergoing a few surgeries. I am elated to say so far so good and am optimistic that later this year he will officially earn the cancer survivor badge.

This year, while I still bought a card and am about to go to the usual gathering, will still give my dad a hug and perhaps on the surface it will appear just like last year, for me it will mean so much more. I can't say why some people get second chances and others do not but for those who have lost their fathers I promise not to take this day for granted.

A very Happy Father's Day to all of the men in my life. You help keep me sane-ish.