Sunday, July 31, 2011

Oh, Henry!

Hubby and I have added to our family!

Meet Henry.

Henry at 5 weeks

Henry is a yellow Labrador.  I call him "platinum blonde."  Hubs isn't a fan of that description.  Apparently that's not "manly enough."  He is (nearly) 10-weeks old.  And truly the apple of my eye.  He is such a treat.  He's smart, spunky, sweet, loving, loyal, cuddly, curious, fuzzy, handsome, and generally a WILD MAN.  I swear his eyes can look right into our souls.


His favorite toys are his teddy bear (which he uses as a pillow), squeaky ball, and mallard duck.  Though he does also have quite the affinity for Ellie, the elephant, Grammy ELC bought him.  He likes watching Breaking Bad with us.  (Please don't judge our parenting skills.  We're certain he doesn't understand what's really going on in this ba-na-nas show.)  And is slowly learning how to walk on a leash.  Plus, he can already "sit" on command.  WOWZER.  He's clearly the most genius dog EVER.



We've had very, and by "very" I mean VERY, little sleep, but we wouldn't trade one second with this little boy.  We adore him.

Now, visualize me pulling out my "virtual wallet" and showing you oodles of pictures of this Puppy Prince.  I'm a proud Mamasita.




Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Yeehaw for Y'all!

Oh, how I’ve been lookin’ forward to telling y’all about DixieBelle Gifts!

I first became acquainted with this company about two years ago, when Lovely Lauren gave me the cutest clay flowerpot—reddish and distressed—with our last name hand-painted on it. It was one of the most unique presents I’d received in a long, long time!

Once TLC saw mine, she had to have one, too. Duh. She ordered her “name” flowerpot in Sunny Yellow—also distressed. And picked it up—to save shipping costs. (If you live in the Dallas area, you can arrange to do this—the website explains this option.)

This past Easter, one of our four daughters-in-law noticed my flowerpot sitting on the counter of our outdoor kitchen-arbor area. I guess she’d somehow missed it before then. She was impressed and I knew, at that very moment, I must purchase all four girls one of their very own.

I started with hers and got her a yellow one—like TLC’s. I knew one of the girls loved the color black (not distressed)—so that was what she received. The third got the Brick Red—like mine—and the fourth received the Sage Green (also distressed). All four daughters-in-law live in Houston—so I paid shipping for each pot. Believe me when I say, it was well worth the money. All arrived at their destinations in positively perfect perfectness.

BTW: You can also have your house number painted on the pot! How magnificent is that for your front porch, front yard, or front garden? AND--the website gives you tips on where and how the colors of the pots might work best! Awesome.

Jenny, the owner of DixieBelle Gifts, keeps you informed about your order with email updates. Each of the daughters emailed me when her flowerpot arrived, but Jenny had kept me posted once she’d shipped them.

Jenny has an interesting story about her company and unique products—and there are lots more items to look at on her darling website. She’s quite the “artist”—you’ll see her talent as soon as you click on the link below! Her website is very easy to navigate and full of great ideas. Her blog is charming and tres entertaining! She shares some of her favorite products from other websites. How sweet is that?

TLC and I are grateful Lauren introduced us to such a special and fantastic gift/company! We’ll be ordering more, soon! What memorable, useful and charming birthday, Christmas, Mom’s Day (why not even Dad’s Day?), teachers’, Valentine’s Day and anniversary gifts these make. They’re not just for gardeners—they’re for anyone who wants to “spiff” up their front porches, backyards, and pool areas. Heck, why not display one inside your home with some ivy—on your fireplace? Or how about your tub? Tres cute!

Visit Jenny’s website: http://www.dixiebellegifts.com/! It’s FABULOUS!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rustic Shmushtic

TLC and Hubby have a new puppy! They picked him up last Tuesday and the little family is trying to adjust to this new experience. The three of them have not had a lot of sleep. (My Hubby and I made the trek to their home yesterday to see our new grandpuppy—he’s ADORABLE.) I’ve agreed to be the Official “Poster” Girl for at least the next week.

I have some revelations/thoughts on vacations, and, specifically, our trip to Estes Park, Colorado, in June.

Hubby and I have been extremely lucky in our life together when it comes to vacations. Although we’ve never been to Europe, Australia or Africa (places we’ve yearned to go), we have been all over America, several beautiful spots in Mexico and to British Columbia. Hubby has also been to Whistler and a couple of other places in Canada and on fishing trips to Alaska. We have dreams of going to Alaska, together, sometime down our road.

We’ve also been lucky regarding rentals of homes/condos. Rented a beautiful (and very reasonable) condo in Maui fourteen years ago. From the Internet. Rented a fantastic beach home near Seaside, Florida, eight years ago. Also found on the Internet. In Estes Park, our “Internet” luck ran out.

We learned that when it comes to renting a vacation home/condo/apartment/cabin, you can never ask too many questions. It’s kind of like raising teenagers.

When you’re raising teens, you have to think of every possible situation in which they could become involved. Because, if you don’t ask all the right questions—over scenarios that might require specific and clear instructions—and they screw up—this is what they’re going to say to you—EVERY SINGLE TIME:

“But you didn’t tell me not to do that!” For “do that” you can substitute: “go there!” “hang out with that person/group!” “stay there!” “not go there!” Etc., etc., etc. It becomes endless. And your fault. Just when you think—by the time they’re seniors in high school—you’ve thought of everything (and forbidden it all), they come up with new and exciting problems you couldn’t possibly have foreseen—not in one million years—with which to challenge your parenting skills.

Not asking enough—and the right—questions is exactly what happened with our “creekside, rustic rock cottage” in Estes Park. Actually, it was twenty miles from Estes Park. Around a winding mountain road. Hence, twenty miles took at least 35 minutes—one way.

Here’s what we failed to ask:

  1. How big is the bed? Hubby and I have had a king-sized bed for 32 of our 33 years together. Of course we have slept on lots o’ queens (also twins and doubles, sleeping bags, couches, chairs and floors). For overall comfort, we prefer at least a queen. This bed was a double. On their website, it said: “One bedroom. One futon on the screened-in porch.” I know. Not smart of us.
  2. How close is the next cottage? The (clearly photo-shopped) picture on their website made it look like the cottage was completely and totally alone—next to a beautiful stream. This was not even remotely close to reality. You could almost touch the other cabins, on either side, stretching your arms out at the front door. Even short arms.
  3. Exactly what kind of shower/bathroom is it? Because I am pretty sure I’ve never, in my fifty-ish years of travelling, stayed at a hotel, cabin, cottage, home, motel, bed-and-breakfast, or lodge that had as small a bathroom as this creekside, rustic rock cottage. Honestly? I had to laugh. What else could I do? We were basically stuck. It was apparent how difficult, i.e. impossible, it would be for me to shave my legs in a shower that was literally a two-foot by two-foot plastic pan with a curtain around it. I wore jeans for five days. No capris. No worries.
Hubby wanted to leave the moment we arrived and go find another place to stay. We had pre-paid for this delightful cabin. Being the tighter one, overall, I refused to even consider that option. I told him we’d both made some mistakes in booking this cottage, but we could do this. It would be memorable. It'd be a great learning experience. We’d have fun “roughing” it. Mind you, this Man O’ Mine is a Camperperson. Fisherman. Golfer. Boater. Outdoors-y Kind O’ Guy. I am the wimp. I'm the one who prefers rocking chairs, in cool (or warm) cozy rooms, with a great book, or TIVO/DVR, and access to a fridge—for Diet Dews. I’m pretty sure he was afraid, once we got back home, I’d never let him live it down. I had to promise/cross-my-heart I’d never throw him under the bus and tell his friends about our “camping” vacay.

We adore the Durango area of Colorado. Ouray. Colorado Springs. Denver. Breckenridge. We had never been to Estes Park. So seeing it for the first time was beyond wonderful! More amazing than we ever dreamed or expected. We fell in total love. From Rocky Mountain National Park to The Stanley Hotel, we were completely enthralled and amazed at the marvelousness of it all.

On our Stanley Hotel Tour, I actually agreed to get in a tiny, and I do mean tiny, closet, for about ten minutes, waiting for the Ghost of Lord Dunraven to pinch me or touch my hair. I’m not claustrophobic. I am fearful of many, many things. But not small places. Darnitall—I waited in vain. It was a slight blow to my constantly teetering self-esteem that he wasn’t interested. I’d LOVE to go back and stay in Room 217—the room where Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining. The hotel is historic. Charming. Stately. FUN. Serious FUN.

image of the Stanley Hotel via a postcard (and editing by TLC)

We plan to return to this magical area of Colorado! (And with our list of places to stay that might be more compatible with our specific needs--i.e. a shower bigger than a postage stamp.)

By The Way: While we were there, it was 40 degrees at night—seventy-five degrees during the day. It hasn’t been that cool in Texas in six months. We fear it may never be that cool, again. It’s quite hell-ish here. Scary hell-ish. Little relief in sight. It's not even August. Hmmm. That rustic cottage is looking better. Not.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dolled-Up!

TLC and I were talking about the things that make us FEEL “fancy.” Things we do to get prepared for FUN, good times with friends, parties, weddings, family get-togethers, Date Nights with Hubbies, shopping trips, Girls’ Days Away, etc. We decided to limit ourselves to seven items—since this is the 7th month of the year. That was tough.

TLC’s Requirements for Feeling Doll-ed Up:

  1. Shiseido Eyelash Curler. The Best. Hands down. {From ELC: This could have been on my list, also. TLC inherited, from me, the straightest, most useless eyelashes on Earth. We discovered this curler about 8 years ago and cannot live without it.}
  2. Glitter Eyeshadow. Lay it on thick—the thicker, the better. No real preference or brand—I’ve tried many and pretty much like them all.
  3. Conair Hot Rollers. I heart big hair. Those flat irons just do not work for moi. I need VOLUME!
  4. Bvlgari “Notte” Cologne/Perfume. It has notes of chocolate and vodka. What’s not to love?
  5. Boots No. 7 Lipgloss. High shine without the sticky-icky-ness.
  6. Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub. I HAVE to wash my face before bed. No matter what. Especially after a fabulous and fun night out—the sole reason behind getting extra dolled-up, after all. (Remember, most nights I’m lounging at home, in front of the flat-screen, in my yoga pants, and catching up on our new favourite show—Breaking Bad.) And I love exfoliating! This scrub is positively refreshing. Also smells YUMMO.
  7. Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover. ELC introduced me to this product. I’m hooked. It makes removing my extra-glittery eyeshadow a breeze! {From ELC: I read about this in one of my many “girly/woman” mags—but after TLC watched me use it one night at her casa, she had to tell me to shake it up first—I didn’t read the instructions! Definitely makes a difference.}
Disclaimer from ELC: Before I begin my list, I’d like to share that, at 57, I’m pretty much worn out when it comes to “doll-ing up.” I’ve been putting on makeup, almost every day of my life, for 44 years. Enough already! Yet, as TLC has previously shared, I would never even consider going to Wally World without a touch of powder, blush, and lipstick. And earrings. Won’t happen. Not just because I’m always fearful of peeps with cameras—luckily haven’t seen myself yet on The People of Walmart—but also because I don’t feel right unless I’ve made some effort not to scare those with whom I come in contact.

I do enjoy doll-ing up a bit more when having lunch with friends or dinner and a movie with Hubby!


ELC’s Requirements for Feeling Dolled-Up:

  1. Revlon PhotoReady Makeup. My new favorite foundation. I’m currently using Vanilla. I always want to be perfection for the Paparazzi! LOL. This is kind of dry-ish—powdery. But I love the coverage—and, believe me, I need all the coverage I can get.
  2. Estee Lauder Pink Kiss Blush. Just right—summer and winter. We (Us?) “mature” women have to be careful not to have that red rouge “circle” on our cheeks that many little blue-haired ladies end up having. Bless their hearts. I’m not quite there—yet.
  3. Estee Lauder Metallic EyeShadow. Very navy-ish/midnight blue/ish. Discreet, subtle glitter—not too scandalous for women who read “More.”
  4. Maybelline Mineral POWER Illuminator. TLC put me onto this. It says to “sweep” it all over your face. I don’t do that. If I was under the age of 40, I might. I don’t need people walking away after talking to me and saying: “Good Grief. What is she thinking—that she’s J-Lo?” So when I’m completely through with applying all makeup, I take a q-tip and dip it in the little container (it comes in two or three shades), then “sweep” it under my brows. Some glitter falls onto my eyelashes. I love when that happens! Gives me some sparkle that 98% of the people I’m with don’t/won’t notice. But I know.
  5. Estee Lauder Knowing Cologne/Perfume. I’ve been using this for over 25 years. When TLC was in Intermediate School, one of the moms told me her son said he could always tell when I’d visited because he could smell me in the halls! Hmmm. I do realize that might not be a compliment. When I discern/sniff intriguing colognes on others, I’ll try them out. They simply don’t work the same for me. I’m sure there’re some peeps that are either tired of me wearing this cologne or who think I put too much on. (Yes, Hubby. I hear you.) I do apologize. Apparently, as we age, our sense of smell slowly deteriorates. Like many other things on our bodies. Sheesh. I heart my Knowing--what can I say?
  6. Estee Lauder Café Rose Lipliner. Another Estee product I’ve used for over 25 years. Yep—never said I was adventurous. Every now and then a Makeup Counter Rep will scare the bejeebies out of me and say Estee’s about to discontinue Café Rose. It’s not funny. They shouldn’t do that. This is my everyday and dolled-up lipstick and I can’t bear to think of living without it.
  7. Dove Soap Bar. Seriously. Twenty-five years ago, my awesome dermatologist in Fort Worth suggested I use Dove in the winter/coldish/dryish months. I use it all year. It’s so reasonably priced—so easy to find—so soft on your skin. Even after a late-night out, I look forward to taking all my makeup off with Dove. You can buy it in a couple of different “flavors”—like cucumber. Marvelous!
We’d love to hear about products you couldn’t live without or that make you feel “dolled-up!”

ta-ta for now!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Yummy For Y'all

Husband and I drove to Rockport via Interstate 35 last weekend to meet ELC and Dad for a couple o’ days o’ fun and fishin’. As we got closer to West (the town), Texas, Hubby decided he had a hankerin' for the famous Czech Stop Kolaches. While I had previously heard of their fabulousness, I, myself, had never sampled one. (I would surely remember.) Of course my first opportunity to try one would be when I'm right smack-dab in the middle of the DANG Dukan Diet. And could only enjoy their fountain Diet Coke. Wa-freaking-hoo.

picture of my Diet Coke
I’m not bitter.

My dear husband had the NERVE to get not one, but TWO blueberry and cream cheese kolaches. AND one sausage and cheese kolache. I glared at him while he devoured every last morsel.

Fine. I confess:  I did cheat and have the teensiest bite of a blueberry kolache. It was light. Fluffy. Creamy. Tart. Tangy. Sweet. DIVINE. I then promptly, yet innocently, suggested we come back this way in the Fall under the guise of attending a Baylor football game. Hubby is an alum. Yah, right. You and I both know the real reason:  I want my OWN kolache. (I think, however, he bought it!) I'll be free from the shackles of these first two phases of the Dukan by then. In fact, I may need to put ON some pounds at that point. I could be too thin, right? I've already decided I’ll get one with cherry and cream cheese. I did notice, though, they have a pumpkin kolache, and I've been thinking today that might be nice in November. Fall is my most favourite (fancy spelling) time of the year – well, right after Christmas! Wow. Such a tough decision. And I only have four months to make it. Yikes.

I'm literally starting a countdown on my phone so I'll know EXACTLY how many days until I can swoon over those babies again.

BTW:  After sampling that incredible bite of HEAVEN, I immediately texted ELC and demanded to know why she had deprived me of these kolaches during my childhood/adolescence. She (albeit reluctantly) told me our dear Autumn used to bring back lots o' kolaches to friends after a visit to her hometown. Hmmm. Really, ELC? I don’t seem to recall those kolaches. What did you do with them? Eat them in the car on the way to our house? Depriving your innocent, sweet, precious little angel daughter AND deserving husband of The Unmitigated Joy of Kolaches? Seriously? Well, shame. Shame, I say. Shame on you. I’m totally disappointed and not sure I’ll forgive you anytime soon.

As I type this, I’m reminded of just how much I wish I'd taken a significantly larger bite of that kolache. Dadgummit.

Visit West, Texas! Have their AMAZING kolaches! Don't have regrets. Like moi!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Scream, You Scream...

We all scream for ICE CREAM!

Did y’all know July is National Ice Cream Month?  AND, more specifically, that this Sunday, the 17th, is National Ice Cream Day (per President Reagan in 1984)?  How have I, one of the most devoted ice cream fans in the UNIVERSE, missed this in the past?  And why, oh why, do I discover this now – the year I’m on a treacherous diet that prohibits ice cream during the first two phases?  You can bet your bottom dollar that come August 1st, when I have my first “Celebration Meal” (Such a cute/happy/wonderful name, Dr. Dukan!) ice cream WILL be consumed.  Possibly as my “appetizer” before the smorgasbord I down at the Cheesecake Factory.

I’m a Blue Bell girl – through and through.  Perhaps it’s a Texas thing.  I’ve never toured the Creamery in Brenham but, just today, have added it to my Bucket List.  (Do you think they give you free samples at the end?  I BRAKE FOR FREE ICE CREAM.)  I do adore the occasional DQ Blizzard, and sometimes I get a hankerin’ for a chocolate malt (Malts TRUMP milkshakes.  Duh.).  But nothing beats a big ol’ bowl of Blue Bell ice cream on a hot summer day.

Now, if you could, try and imagine my adoration for ice cream and then multiply it by 100, then add 5.  This, in faux numerical value, is a representation of the love my sweet husband has for ice cream. He is quite the ice cream connoisseur.  For our first Christmas together, I gifted to him one of those old school, old fashioned, wooden ice cream machines – complete with the hand crank.  You should have seen his eyes light up at the thought of all the yummy ice cream flavors he could create.  

Our freezer never has a shortage of ice cream in stock.  As of today we have:

Butter Crunch
Dessert Trio
Moo-llennium Crunch (not pictured as the lid is smushed and therefore not photogenic)
Pistachio Almond

image via moi

I typically pick up the little pints because we like variety.  We’re cool like that.  (Pun intended!)  Some of our other favourite (fancy spelling) flavors are:

Banana Pudding
Buttered Pecan
Cherry Cheesecake
Cookies ‘n Cream
Homemade Vanilla
Mocha Almond Fudge
Pineapples and Homemade Vanilla
Southern Blackberry Cobbler

I will splurge on a GALLON of Peppermint during the holidays.  And I won’t share.  Don’t even ask OR judge me if I eat it straight from the carton with a spoon.  Peppermint ice cream is my most treasured flavor.  (ELC and I debate this frequently.  Her heart belongs to Birthday Cake.  That woman LOVES Birthday Cake.)

For the rest of the month, I give you permission to indulge in a GINORMOUS bowl of ice cream every day.  If you’d like.  It’s good for the soul.

What’s your favourite (fancy spelling) flavor?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Count To Ten--Then A Hundred And Ten

Hubby and I went on a Road Trip about three weeks ago to Estes Park, Colorado. We adore Colorado. Always have. We’re very much “Mountain Peeps,” although our trips to Maui over the past 33 years have fed our spirits and souls with immense joy. If I won the Texas Lottery, I’d hope I could win enough to buy a vacay condo there—and a secluded cabin by a stream in Wyoming. Why the heck not? I can dream.

I have lots of thoughts on vacations involving couples and families. I had dated my husband for a little over a year when we got married. We’d never gone anywhere in a car for more than about five hours. A few years after we married, we made our first skiing trip to Red River, New Mexico, which was a ten-ish-hour drive, accompanied by three teenaged sons. On that lovely excursion (we got into the worst ice storm Amarillo, Texas, had had to that date), I decided it should be a Federal law that engaged people take a ten-hour car trip (one-way) together (and, hey, wouldn't hurt to throw in a family member or two!), before they said, “We do.” A minimum of ten hours. What you learn about your relationship is invaluable. If you can even like each other after a long car-trip/vacation, I think it’s a telling, and good, sign.

Hubby is the kind of man (I know there are many out there exactly like him) that is determined to go the shortest, i.e. fastest, route to any destination. It becomes a job to him. He works at it. You can remind him it’s “vacation.” He apparently isn’t able to hear you. He’s in his Zone. He gets in a mood that is focused, quiet and on the edge of constant irritation with any and all females in his vehicle. Bathroom stops can become… hmmm… contentious. Almost funny, if it wasn’t so NOT funny. Pulling over to read a historical marker or to visit a town’s quaint square or downtown area? Am I serious? Do I not realize how much farther we have to go?

Probably the most difficult car trip we ever made as a family happened when TLC was nine and we drove to South Dakota and Wyoming. From Central Texas. We had it all figured out—thanks to AAA. This was long before GPS systems, Google, Trip Advisor, etc. We had an Atlas, state maps and our AAA books to guide us. Also an optimistic, hopeful (i.e. unrealistic) attitude.

We did fine as we drove through Kansas. I sang “America the Beautiful,” emphasizing “for amber waves of grain,” over and over. And over. Hubby and TLC were surprisingly patient. We enjoyed Nebraska for its unique beauty and charm.

Then it happened in South Dakota. It was inevitable, I suppose. The first… what shall I call it… disagreement? Okay, no. It was an argument. (Maybe my singing did finally send Hubby to this side of insanity.) It occurred when we drove an hour from our beautiful cabin in Custer State Park to Mt. Rushmore. It was dark and cloudy. But we paid our fees to get in and sat down in the outdoor amphitheater to wait for the “show.” After an hour of hoping the clouds would lift, the Park Rangers called it off—offering us all “rain checks.” We had seen someone’s nose. We think it was Lincoln’s.

As we left the park, I said: “Well, it’s a good thing we can come back tomorrow night.”

We were heading to Deadwood the next day. Although I knew it would take several hours through the mountains to get there from our cabin, I thought Mt. Rushmore was important enough to try again.

Hubby replied: “No, I don’t think so.”

“Oh, yes. We will,” I firmly stated.

He said we’d discuss it the next morning. As we ate breakfast in a cute little café in downtown Custer, I mentioned going back to Mt. Rushmore that night. And there we went. To Crankyland. He was determined to not even consider it. Too much driving in one day. Huh? We’d just driven two days from Texas and he was worried about a couple more hours of driving that evening? Really. I tried to calmly explain I thought TLC should see it—it was educational—and that we might never be back up in this area. To no avail.

By the time we left for Deadwood, TLC was our “mediator.” Bless her sweet heart. She sat up front with her Dad while I sat in the back, occasionally having her answer his questions to me (I think that’s when her “eye rolling” officially started, too). Hubby and I each winning a small jackpot at a casino in Deadwood, and seeing Kevin Costner, in person, at his Sports’ Bar (unfortunately, that ended up not being the mystical experience I thought it might be if it ever actually happened), helped us get back to Semi-Happyland.

It was definitely one of those times in our life together that I would change my attitude and behavior, if I could. I approached Hubby at the wrong time, in the wrong way. Couples have to learn this skill: when and how and where to bring things up you feel certain are going to be unpleasant issues for the other person. (I do, however, believe there are some “problems” your partner will NEVER want to discuss, right?)

We did go see Mt. Rushmore that night and it was AMAZING. Hubby agreed it was the right thing to do and thanked me for insisting.

Since that experience sixteen years ago, we’ve driven to Florida, Nashville, and Idaho/Montana. (We don't even count "trips" that are eight or less hours from our home anymore as major!) There were, of course, many moments during those vacations when we wondered if we’d both make it back. Married. Or, actually, alive, I guess. As you can tell, we did. Woo Hoo! We’ve taken dozens of trips by plane and returned in good enough shape to tell our tales. We’ve survived vacations—and so much more in 34 years.

Hubby and I will be driving to Rhode Island in the Fall. We've never seen the foliage or the places we're going. We’ll need prayers. Possibly some Divine Intervention. Right now we’re excited. It’s funny how we know it’s going to be challenging and yet we’re already looking forward to the trip. (Wow--that could be a description of childbirth!) The laughter, beauty, and the memories will somehow have to cancel out the drama.

Faretheewell . . .

p.s.: Hubby and I, and TLC and her Hubby just got back a couple of hours ago from a 7-hour (for each of us from our own respective homes) driving trip to Rockport, Texas. TLC will be catching y’all up on that fabulous town in a couple of weeks!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Our Big Non-Fat Greek Yogurt Diet

As of this moment, TLC and I have been on the Dukan Diet for 3 weeks and 3 days.

We agreed in January that we were both ready to do something about the weight we have gained since TLC’s wedding. After months of, well, eating, plus research, consideration and discussion of several options/ideas, Weight Watchers and The Game On Diet were moving to the top of our list when a friend told me about her success with The Dukan Diet.

I emailed TLC immediately and said I was going to order the book from Amazon. She promptly emailed back and reminded me I had asked her to order it in April. Imagine that. I had completely forgotten. Then I remembered seeing Dr. Dukan on one of the morning shows—probably Good Morning America—the week of the Royal Wedding. Kate and her Mum had both been on his diet. (We expect to look like them any day now—stand by—we’ll post pictures soon.)

Since we live too far away to share the book, I purchased my own (next-to-the-last) copy and we took a few days to read it. We discussed it over the phone a couple of times and at great length. I could keep my Diet-Dew-Addiction and enjoy a Coke Zero now and then. Yep—he had me at that! We decided it was worth a try. We’d start together—we’d stick together—we’d encourage each other—we’d be accountable to each other.

image via ELC
her Dukan resting peacefully on her boudoir pillows
(as it silently tortures us with NO CARBS, SUGAR or ANYTHING FUN)

For the past three weeks we’ve NOT had: sugar (only Splenda), any bread—even whole grain, cereals, ice cream, chips of any kind, potatoes of any kind, cookies, cakes, fruit, cheese of any kind, rice, beans, anything fried, wine or any other form of alcohol.

What we have had is: a lot of chicken, lean beef, lean pork, eggs, non-fat Greek yogurt (we’ve had TONS of this—well, not literally—but we do eat between four and twelve ounces each day—and we LOVE IT—especially with some Splenda and a teeny bit of vanilla mixed in—YUMMO), non-fat milk and non-fat cottage cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, green beans, asparagus, (we throw in some jalapenos every few days) and oat and wheat bran (but no more than 3 tablespoons per day—of both—not each). We also have two patient husbands who act like they’re growing a tiny bit weary watching us suffer, but, truthfully, I think they’re proud of us. We forgive them every day for eating all of the things we cannot. Sweet little men o’ ours.

Soon we’ll be adding fruit, a couple of slices of whole wheat bread, and two “celebration” meals a week when we head into Phase 3—called the Consolidation Phase. For TLC that should be around August 1st. For moi? September 1st. If I’m lucky. Just in time for our 33rd wedding anniversary. Yippee!!! (I’ll be tres disappointed if I’m not as thin as Meg Ryan.)

Yesterday was an all-protein day and TLC was really… well, hungry. Possibly on the verge of grouchiness. Here, now, is a portion of an email she sent to me while she took a few minutes for lunch:

“Foods I desperately miss—

In no particular order…

Blue Bell Ice Cream. Specifically Banana Pudding and Buttered Pecan. Out of this World. It’s painful to type this.

Peanut Butter. As you know, I can literally eat spoonfuls out of the jar.

Avocados and Corn. It’s Summer. Summer screams guacamole and grilled corn. Darn that Dr. Dukan. (Or maybe it’s DARN both sides of YOUR gene pool, ELC.)

Chips and Salsa. And what goes best with that delightful combination? SANGRIA. Oh, how Jerry Jeff and I love Sangria Wine.

Cheesecake Factory. (Okay—it’s not a food. It’s a place. So what? Got a problem with that, Mom?)  I miss their sourdough bread smothered in butter. I miss their Spicy Chicken Factory Nachos (with extra jalapenos and sour cream). And, most of all, I miss their sinfully decadent Red Velvet Cheesecake.

French Fries and Sweet Potato Fries and Sonic Tater Tots. Basically potatoes in any form.

Cupcakes. Nuff said.

Great. Now I’m starving and depressed.

I think I’ll go eat a few slices of deli turkey. Wa-freakin’-hoo.”

To which I replied:

“I miss Peanut M&Ms. Sister Schubert rolls with Land O Lakes butter. Ginger snaps—when Dad is eating them in front of me every single night of our lives while we watch TV. Sonic Baby Burgers (not what they are technically called—that’s what I call ‘em) and Small Tots. DQ Mini-blizzards (especially the German Chocolate Brownie Double Fudge Cookie Dough Oreo Mint with Snickers Blizzard-of-the-Month—not real—but sounds fabulous, right?). Shredded Wheat and Bran. Crazy. I know. Oranges and strawberries and kiwis and green grapes and cantaloupes. Awww. Cantaloupes. And Peanut M&Ms. Oh, I said those already.Things are getting fuzzy. Do you have a problem with that, Ms. Whiny Diet Girl? Oh, now I’m really sorry, Sugar. Wonder where we could get some Cranky Pills?”

If you see us, please don’t offer us any wine. We can’t have it. But we want it REALLY bad. Okay. Offer it. If you must. Pinot Grigio would be awesome. Mad Dog 20/20 won’t be turned down. J/K. Not really. Yes, of course I am.

Gotta scoot… gotta head to Wally World… out of Greek non-fat yogurt.

Monday, July 4, 2011

American Poets

Almost ten years ago, Hubby and I were out-of-this-world LUCKY to attend our first ever “Pickin’ Party” in Austin, Texas. We were among only about 50 others who were invited to enjoy three Nashville songwriters (Matthew McConaughey was there)—totally unplugged. They sat on stools on a small stage in a small conference room at a great hotel and sang HIT songs they had written or co-written for big Country Singin’ Superstars. George Strait, Willie Nelson, Keith Urban, Randy Travis, Collin Raye, Alison Kraus, Kenny Chesney and Neal McCoy—just to name a few.

Since then, Hubby and I have had the privilege of seeing the following songwriters (once in Nashville—TLC was with us and was completely blown away by the experience):

Aaron Barker, (Love Without End for George Strait and Good Old Days—for Blue Bell Ice Cream! It’s him singing that song in their commercials!);

Richie McDonald, formerly of the group Lonestar (I’m Already There, Mr. Mom, Amazed);

Paul Overstreet, (yep, Chord’s Dad!) (She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy);

Mike Reid (a retired professional football player turned composer) who wrote I Can’t Make You Love Me (with Allan Shamblin—Bonnie Raitt made it HUGE);

Don Schlitz, who wrote The Gambler;

Dan Seals (whose brother was in Seals & Croft—he was in England Dan with John Ford Coley), who wrote Meet Me In Montana, which he sang with Marie Osmond (Dan died in 2009 from complications of cancer—how appreciative I am to have seen him a couple of years before that);

Whitey Shafer, who wrote All My Exes Live In Texas for George Strait; and

Allen Shamblin, who won a CMA award for Song of the Year for co-writing The House That Built Me, sung by Miranda Lambert. Miranda also won a Grammy this year for this song and it won the ACM Song of the Year.

At all eight Pickin’ Parties we’ve attended, we’ve seen Allen Shamblin. He is the most talented, creative, kindest, funniest, delightful man you could ever hope to meet. We’ve seen Aaron Barker at least five times and he, too, is extremely talented, creative, funny, interesting and charming.

All of the songwriters I listed have written many, many, many hit songs that you know—and love. If you Google them for their individual websites, you will be Simply Amazed. (Reckon Richie McDonald would co-write that song with me?)

Two weeks ago Saturday, Hubby and I were fortunate to be at a “Pickin Party Picnic” in Gainesville, Texas, where we were entertained by Allen, Mike Reid and Don Schlitz. There was quite a huge thunderstorm that hit minutes before they were to begin and it looked like it wouldn’t happen. For all two hundred of us there, it did work out and they were, as always, incredible. As they took turns singing their songs, cutting up, making us LOL, they told a little about themselves, their families, the history of the songs. They had all written with each other, too—many times over the years.

I believe these men (and many women songwriters!) are American Poets. Whether their songs are serious, funny, deep, light, sad, happy, full of wisdom or full of silly, they are poets and their songs are poetry.

I didn’t grow up even tolerating Country Music. I grew up loving The Beatles (British Poets—Lennon and McCartney); Frank Sinatra; Doris Day; Big Bands; Jazz; Elvis; and the Rock and Hard Rock Bands of the 60s and 70s. I was exposed to Country Music periodically—mostly on Hee Haw—and wasn’t impressed. I became a dedicated and lifetime fan when I attended college at a small state university in Texas. (I had quickly learned I needed to love it—or find a new school!) It truly became oh-so-easy for me to treasure.

I admire Diane Warren, James Taylor, Carole King and countless other songwriters—past and present—in many different genres. My Pickin’ Country Poets (including Taylor Swift), however, have 98% of my devotion. I was walking yesterday morning to our gate, listening to my iPod, when I heard Pam Tillis singing The River and the Highway. I knew immediately it was the song I wanted to use as an example of American Poetry. Little did I know, when I went to research it, that Don Schlitz—who I just saw in Gainesville—was one of the two writers of this haunting song. Awesome.

Please enjoy this "poetry" (and please consider buying the song for your iPod—you won't regret it):

The River and the Highway
By Gerry House and Don Schlitz

She follows the path of least resistance
She doesn’t care to see the mountain top
She twists and turns with no regard to distance
She never comes to a stop.

And she rolls, she’s a river,
Where she goes, time will tell
Heaven knows, he can’t go with her
And she rolls, all by herself
All by herself

He’s headed for a single destination
He doesn’t care what’s standing in his path
He’s a line between two points of separation
He ends just where it says to on the map

And he rolls, he’s a highway
Where he goes, time will tell
Heaven knows, she can’t go with him
And he rolls, all by himself
All by himself

And every now and then, he offers her a shoulder
And every now and then, she overflows
And every now and then, a bridge crosses over
It’s a moment every lover knows

And she rolls (and he rolls)
She’s a river (he’s a highway)
Where she goes (where he goes)
Time will tell (time will tell)
Heaven knows she can’t go with him (he can’t go with her)
And she rolls all by herself
And he rolls all by himself
Fare thee well

Compelling. Sad. Touching. True. Real. Honest.

Poetry!

Happy 4th of July, America—and American Poets…