Art Journaling

art journal1All is quiet on the Western front…we’ve been in California mostly since Thanksgiving.  Filling our days with projects, computer work and, in my case, art.  I know, me and art in the same sentence.  My Farmgirl Sisterhood magazine got me headed over to the Art to the Fifth website that included an awesome take on an Art journal called The Documented Life Project.

The Documented Life Project is not much different than a blog, the difference if you journal on paper with cool stuff.   Some paints and paper, pens and brushes.  DLP is run by four fabulous artists who provide a free challenge each week and then their take on the prompt and challenge through videos, written instruction and pictures, lots and lots of pictures.  There also is a FB group where so many of those participating share their Art Journal and their support. It’s a great community to be a part of.  I’m hoping in my travels this year, I might get to meet a few of them.

I can’t remember when I’ve had so much fun doing something alone, but not.  Of course, it helps that we are at my in-laws.  My mother-in-law, Margi, has a craft room that rivals many store locations, anything I might want to use is probably in there, I just have to find it.  Last night I was looking for some stamps she had shown me, I looked in every drawer, every shelf, only to find them on the desk.  Figures, it was the last place I looked.

art journal cover art journal1.1

So far, I’ve done two sets of page and the front/back cover of the journal.  I am not an artist.  I think I’ve mentioned that before. I want to be, but I’m not, I am a crafter.  One thing I have figured out though, is if I like it, it’s good enough.  I’m being brave and sharing my work.  Take a look at the pictures, maybe this is your calling too.  It’s personal, it’s fun, it’s an opportunity to create.  The adventure continues and I’m loving it.

Whole30 is Here to Stay

finished-whole30Day 38, we finally got back home to where our scale is.  First time on in 38 days, I knew my clothes fit better, my skinny jeans with lycra in them didn’t have quite as far to stretch around my belly and hips and my sleeves were getting longer, something I’ve never experienced before.  I felt a bit like the dinosaur with “little, bitty arms”.  The revelation was 9 pounds down.

Rich followed me on the scales, his reveal was 20.1 pounds. ( I hate my husband sometimes.)  So combined, almost 30 pounds in 38 days.  There is something to celebrate.  But there was more, we didn’t do this as a weight loss thing, although that definitely had some appeal, neither of us are at a healthy weight.  Our goal was to see what we could do to feel better…ask yourself, how do you feel when you get out of bed in the morning?  Are you stiff? sore? Do your joints ache?  Yeah, us too – that was the part we didn’t like.

A year ago I went on blood pressure meds, they helped enough to get rid of the headaches, but not really enough to put my blood pressure in a healthy, accepted range. Something had to change.

We had a little setback, a couple of days before we got home again, we ran out of vitamin C, something we take pretty faithfully in the winter months.  I stopped at the local drugstore and picked up the C and some Fish Oil.  I had read in the It Starts With Food book that fish oil was a good addition.  We started taking it and three days later, Rich could barely move.  He couldn’t walk very far, he had severe joint pain.  We talked about what we had changed and realized it was only the different vitamins.  Back at the hotel that afternoon we looked at those bottles.  The first ingredient is the Fish Oil was Soy, the Vitamin C had all kinds of binders in it.  Both bottles went in the garbage and I went and bought new.  Within two days, he was back to feeling good.  Who knew you had to read the ingredients on supplements as well, I won’t make that mistake again.

We have added back one little treat, but that is all…we are back at the coffee shop just a couple of days a week for Vanilla Lattes…this time made with Almond Milk, still no dairy in our world.  The vanilla flavoring with its’ sugar is our one vice.

I’m beginning the Whole 30 fresh again, the scale has been put away – no peeking for 30 days, and I’m focused on two things I’ve not been focused on before ( now that I have the food part down).  This next 30 are going to include portion control and the mid-day meal.  I couldn’t do it all before, this is the next challenge.

To re-cap – 38 days = 30 pounds; no joint pain, lower blood pressure – all while eating good, clean healthy foods.  Why not?  You only get one body, why not treat it right!

Whole30 – One day left

foodTwenty-nine days in, we have just one day left in our Whole30 program.  Not once have we cheated, either one of us!  I’m really kind of proud of that.  My husband’s addiction to Monster Java Mean Beans is kicked, my craving for carbs has scaled way back.  I really think this is a way that we could continue to eat.

Over the last 29 days, I have dreamed of food more often than ever before, I think in my whole life.  One night, I ate three sandwiches in my dream.  I don’t even remember what was on the sandwich, I just remember slathering it with mayonnaise and two pieces of white bread.  I haven’t eaten plain white bread in years, but that night, that’s what I was eating.  It seemed so real.

Last week, my dream had me having a vodka/sprite…I was half way through it before I remembered I wasn’t supposed to have any alcohol and I went and poured it out.  It is weird to dream like that.  In real life, no sandwiches and no alcohol were consumed.

One of my favorite parts has been the recipes that I have found and fixed.  Pinterest is a God-Send for Whole30.  So many recipes, most need tweaked just a little, but they have been delicious.  I have yet to have a bad meal that I’ve fixed myself.  Some of the restaurant meals have been a challenge, but that’s the choices we’ve made.  Some of the restaurants just don’t get it.

So let’s talk great food…last night it was Herb and Citrus Roasted Chicken from The Comfort of Cooking – so good…I left out the sugar, used mandarin oranges and added sliced zucchini and yellow squash to the dish.  It was great, used the leftover chicken in the eggs this morning.

Last week it was Dairy free Seafood Chowder from Meatified, again, so good.  I added roasted salt pork, fresh clams and shrimp…put everything but the seafood and the coconut milk in the crockpot while we ran off to yoga.  I cooked the clams separately and added the other ingredients to the pot while I finished the clams.  Even my father-in-law, who loves clam chowder loved it.   For more meatiness, add canned clams as well.

My fallback meal is pork tacos.  Pulled pork is super easy, just add a pork roast to a crock pot, a can of green chiles, one of no-salt-added diced tomatoes and sprinkle heavily with cumin.  Done.  To make Whole30 compliant tacos, we dropped the taco shells and used cabbage leaves instead, dropped the cheese and crema.  A little Pico de gallo, green onions, and fresh tomatoes, Delicious!

We still don’t know what or how we are adding back foods, I think it will be subtle, I think it will be meal dependent.  I think it will be based on a restaurant we are in.  The next few days should be interesting…still on the fence about Whole30?  The food is easy, follow my Pinterest page for ideas.

Day 15 Whole 30

Whole30_NOThe last two weeks have been interesting.  They haven’t been hard, we have just had to explain our food choices a number of times.  Like when you meet friends for a beer and order water and coffee instead.  Or when Thanksgiving dinner arrives on the table and you stick to salad and turkey and the hot vegetables, instead of the mashed potatoes and the delicious rolls you helped bake.

Ordering at a restaurant is interesting, I generally start with “if it tastes great, leave it off” – that gets a laugh and then they listen to what you actually want to eat.  I had a chef come out to see what I was really looking for in my butter choice for my lobster.

But then after you’ve ordered, most want to know why.  So we explain that we are on a limited food plan right now, and here is why.  The aches and pains we normally see are gone, getting up in the morning is easier, we are dropping pounds, my skin is perfect, our digestive systems are working like a champ, my blood pressure is getting back to the normal range, in general, we feel good.

There have been moments when I want something simpler.  I want to just make a sandwich or eat a bowl of cereal.  It’s not that I want those foods, necessarily, I just want meal prep to be easy.  But I also know that we are eating clean.  There are no chemicals in foods that need to be chopped.

In the morning I prep breakfast and lunch together.  A fruit bowl first with fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, banana, pineapple, grapes and melons.  Then the mushrooms, onions, spinach that will end up in the eggs.  It’s easy to chop extra for the salad that we will have for lunch and just get that out of the way.  And if you haven’t found Larabars yet…check in to those.  Not all flavors are made without sugar, but those that are, are delicious.

In the afternoon, I Pinterest “Whole30” and my meat choice, you have to actually read the recipes to get those that truly fit, but I have found some good ones.  The Chipotle Chicken Soup and the Savory Sweet Potatoes are two of my favorite.  Minor adjustments made to each to keep the Whole30, but worth it.

So downsides…we talk about poop a lot.  Although, I think we talked about poop a lot before, just in a negative way.  Now we practically high five leaving the bathroom.  If you are an adult male, this probably means more to you than most of my readers, I know it means a lot to my husband.

Downside number two….I’m ready to be skinny, I mean, geez, I have walked 23.86 miles, gone to two yoga classes and eaten appropriately for 14 days.  I should be skinny by now, right? Nevermind that I’ve eaten inappropriately for in excess of 11,000 days, fourteen ought to fix it.  This is why they don’t let you step on the scales during the whole 30.  Makes sense.

Whole30…the beginning

Baja, one of my doing-the-w30-IGfavorite places, Rich and I ran down for a few days.  The trip didn’t go as planned, but that’s ok, as long as we are together it is an adventure and that is good enough for me.  I find my favorite place to be is where he is.

On the way down, we read a book together, or rather, I read it, he listened.  Most places I paraphrased.  It Starts With Food is the book we shared, it is all about eating  If you know us, you know we love good food.  Rich has done a great job of choosing good food, me, not so much.  I don’t hesitate when someone offers me a cookie, or two.

So as we travelled, we made lists of what we could and couldn’t eat if we were following the Whole30 program.  Baja is a challenge, everything has queso, or tortillas, or both.  We love eating in Baja.  We stop at Adriana’s for shrimp tacos and shrimp quesadillas.  We go to George’s for chiliquilles, we find our favorite sandwich shop on the back streets of Ensenada for a Para Mi torta.  Don’t even get me started on the bakery just down from the Santa Isabel hotel, I can fill whole bags with treat after carb-loaded treat.

Toward the end of our trip, we decided it was time to start.  It was a Wednesday, the 19th.  As good a day as any to begin our Whole30 program.  We are doing this together, so it should be easier to stay on track.

First meal was breakfast, we dropped over to an upscale restaurant we have eaten at before.  They delivered cookies the minute we sat down.  We stared at them, but never touched.  Next option was a pork rind soup or cheese quesadilla.  We opted for the soup, it was filled with vegetables and protein, ok, maybe fat, but…most importantly, not dairy, not carbs.  We added an omelette and ignored the tortillas on the table, no hashbrowns, no beans.  We did good.

By the time we rolled around to lunch, we were back in the states.  We stopped at Chipotle and got salads, mine with chicken, his with steak.  Not very satisfying, but we were still on plan.  Then came dinner.  I knew exactly where I wanted to go.  Fish 101 in Encinitas.  We have always had good, fresh food there.  I had Opa, he had Yellow-tail, we both added a salad and the fried Brussel sprouts.  Oh my gosh, so good.  High five for us, we made it through Day One!

Day Two arrived and we found a local place and had another omelette, a fruit plate we shared, some sliced tomatoes.  By the time we got on the road, my head hurt.  This was the hangover they talk about.  I made him stop at Inn-n-Out for an ice tea, I figured all those years of Diet Coke were catching up to me, I had caffeine withdrawals.

We hit another local restaurant for lunch, I had a massive plate of roast beef and a salad.  My head still hurt, but the food was plentiful and tasty, so that was a plus.  We had plenty of roast beef for dinner too, I just needed to figure out how to fix it.  I took a nap when we got back and woke feeling better.  No more headache at least.  Rich had gone to the grocery store, so I could fix dinner.

That’s when I lost it.  They give you a Timeline on the Whole30 program that says about when you will want to kill your mate.  I got there early.  At the grocery store, he had not only gotten veggies for dinner, onions and mushrooms and the like.  He had gotten celery and carrots.  I was pissed.  Celery and Carrots are diet food.  We are NOT on a frickin’ diet!  I hadn’t realized that I had such a hangup about celery and carrots, this would be one of those emotional relationships we have with food that needs to be broken. I stomped around the house, ignored him and just generally stayed PO’d until I had eaten, then I told him what he did wrong.  Maybe I even worded it rather strongly, because he totally got the picture.

Tomorrow is Day 3, it will be fine, we are travelling all day again, but at least I have the prospect of being able to go shop and fix something that we can both enjoy.  I am excited about the change in what we are eating.  I think it will be good for us, with how my body and mind are reacting already, it is obvious I needed a change.  Why not join us for the Whole30?

Random Thoughts on Travel in Japan

  • The people are incredibly polite and gracious and welcoming.
  • In order for me to dress like Japanese women, I would have needed to raid my mother’s closet in the late 50’s and early 60’s. I have never been that fashionable in all of my life.  The tailored dresses and heels and sweaters are beautiful, and expected on all.
  • Open toed shoes and bare legs are not the norm.
  • The weight loss industry that is so large in the US would fail in Japan.
  • If you ask someone for something, they will go out of their way to make it happen.  Please be careful what you ask for.
  • There is not a single word of Japanese you need to know in order to travel in Japan. A smile and open attitude will take you everywhere you need to go.
  • Travel is the most expensive part of being there; hotels and highways cost the most.
  • You MUST have cash to travel easily in Japan, credit/debit cards are not often used outside of the cities.
  • Use your resources, if you know someone who lives there, they have access to far more than you ever will as a tourist.
  • Visiting temples in Japan is a lot like visiting castles in Europe, once you have seen a couple, they all start to look alike.
  • Appreciate the ancientness of the country, in the US if something is 100 years old we start looking to replace it, recognize that some buildings are 700 to 1000 years old
  • Respect the roads, they are narrow and twisty outside of the cities and filled with people.
  • The food is odd, there will be flavors that your palate may never have tasted before, that’s ok, appreciate it in the spirit that it is offered, and eat ALL of it.
  • Personal space is mandatory in Japan, give it room.
  • Rock, paper, scissors is a national pastime and resolves all conflicts.
  • Anything can be purchased in a vending machine.
  • Above all, show respect. Loud and obnoxious behavior is not ok, arguing is not ok, being right all the time is not necessary, most Americans need to check that attitude at the door.
  • I want to go back!


Special Insert – Japan Travel Day 8

We interrupt this fabulous trip with a touch of the flu!  This is me sitting in a hotel room, not far from my Western (thank God) style toilet.  It sucks to be that girl, but thankful we didn’t have anything truly planned until the weekend.

I don’t normally dwell on the negatives, but with all the Ebola scare in the news, it made me start to think about how easily an epidemic can spread.  Let’s take my life for example.

On September 27, I was in Bridgeport, Texas (just outside of Dallas) with over 1000 people from 13 surrounding states.  While I didn’t have direct contact with all of them, I did personally handle items that were touched by at least 200 people, probably more.

From there, we went to Offroad Expo in Pomona, California.  62,000 people attended the expo.  Again, I didn’t have direct contact with all of them, but at least another 200 from several surrounding states.

Next stop, Seoul, Korea aboard an Asiana Air flight that held 400+ people.  From there to Osaka, Japan.  Within the next few days, we travelled by train within Osaka, by Shinkansen to Toyko, by train within Toyko.  Very crowded trains. In fact, we passed through the Shinjuku station no less than four times, Shinjuku has two Million travelers a day.  I realize that I am atypical of the general public, but what if there is an airborne disease that starts spreading before there are symptoms.  Can you imagine how many people could be infected?

I’m not a statistician, but if you took those numbers and extrapolated how many people could be affected over a three week period, it is astronomical.  No, I don’t have a life threatening disease, but just imagine if one of those who did was in my shoes right now.  Makes you think.

it’s a great big world


Travelling fulltime as we do makes us more appreciative and aware of how different the world is. Stereotypes are for uninformed, the more we get to know one another and get off the beaten path, the better off we all will be. We love being in the neighborhoods, no matter if we are in the US or in a foreign country, it’s where life happens.

Originally posted on the other fork in the road:

Yosemite Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

Okay, okay, I get it. We’re all fat, we put cheese on everything, or we fry it, or both (mmm, cheese curds). Our food tastes like shit, our bread tastes like sugar, and seriously, what is with those giant portions? We’re uncultured, ignorant, have stampless passports, that is, if we even have a passport (I can actually hear some of you nodding). I used to take personal responsibility for these opinions, embarrassed for being labeled in this way, shouldering the weight of the American Idiot.

And then I started traveling.

I would listen politely as people were eager to share their thoughts on America, before learning they’d only been to Los Angeles or New York, or, “Oh, well, I haven’t been there myself. I’ve just heard.” And since so few Americans travel (that’s the word on the international street, though not all that…

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Special Insert – Japan Travel Day 7

No way we’ve been here a week already, on the one hand, I’m exhausted, on the other, there is so much I still want to see.  Today we went to the Imperial Palace, it is downtown Toyko.  It is also a National Holiday today, just like in the states.  They are celebrating National Sports Day here, fifty years ago the Toyko Olympics began, in 1964.  In the US, we celebrate Columbus Day, what a different type of holiday.  Anyway, downtown, we are there early, we enter the East Imperial Gardens and begin our next walkabout.  A trip up to the Shogun residence that has since been reduced to rubble, we walked through bamboo gardens, around Samurai barracks, the place the 47 Ronan fought, all over the grounds.  Finally we made it to the double bridge for an incredible view.DSC_0018

From there we continued to walk the perimeter of the garden.  Like Big said yesterday, it seemed like ten miles or more.

Our next stop was the Modern Museum of Art.  They had a showing there of work by Hishida Shunso, exquisite painting on silk and paper from the early 1900’s.  This exhibit alone was worth the price of admission, beautiful works.  The rest of the museum was interesting, it was a reminder that art is a personal privilege, we all view it differently.

Big scaling the castle wall

Big scaling the castle wall

Dinner tonight was a true sushi restaurant, the boys ate here the other night, they were the first Americans to ever set foot inside.  Tonight we went back.  The sushi chef speaks English well, he spent twenty years in Thousand Oaks, for the last five years he has been back in Japan.  As we talked, he said he hasn’t had a need to speak English since he came back, he appreciated us coming in so that he could practice again.  Not many English speakers make it out to Ichikawa.  That has been obvious from the looks we’ve gotten.

My daughter reminded me tonight that this is our typical MO, go out in to the neighborhoods to see the sights.  This is how we travel in Mexico always, away from the tourist spots and out to where they don’t speak our language.  We do the same in the states, we travel away from the chains and look for restaurants that are mom and pop stores.  It is a fun way to live and always an adventure!

Special Insert – Japan Travel Day 6

Now that we’ve got the train figured out, getting around is pretty easy.  Of course, Rich prepped for today’s adventures, he has all the stations mapped out and a plan.  We are sightseeing on our own today, there are several spots on the list to see.

First up, Toyko Skytree.  It opened in 2012 as the tallest structure in the world, it was surpassed almost immediately by the Dubai building, but at 634 meters, it is pretty impressive.  Not only that, it is a huge attraction, there are busloads of people here.  We got off at the train station and walked through the neighborhoods about a mile to get to the Skytree.  We opted not to take the ride to the top, that looked like the wait would be hours, but we did a walk around the base, Josh got out his wide angle camera to get a photo of me with the tower behind me.  Not sure how I feel about needing wide angle, but it turned out well.DWC_0876

Next stop was the Senso-ji Temple, a Buddhist temple that was originally founded in the 600’s.  That’s 1400 years ago!!! Being from the US, that is an incredibly long time ago, we are such a young country. The structures are mostly new, having lost most of them during the world wars, but the grounds are old and sacred.  You wouldn’t know itvisiting there though, the mass of humanity that crowds the streets is incredible.  No way to stop and look at anything, the crowd just surges forward at  a slow pace.  We stayed in the center and took in the crowds and shops.  We weren’t looking to shop anyway, so that wasn’t really a problem.DWC_0867

It was good to get out on our own, we got plenty of smiles and laughs, plenty of stares, some people even patted Big’s tummy.  The rickshaw drivers that were lined up near the temple joked with us, but none offered us a ride, one asked if Big wanted to drive!  #lovemylife