Saturday, July 13, 2013

A cute sign project, step by step

During my recent vacation, I was hanging out at my sister's place in New Jersey for a few days and the weather had turned overcast and stormy -- meaning we were pretty much stuck inside. So, we decided to work on an art project together.

Mimi had bought a wooden sign last summer in Vermont and had hung it over a doorway in her kitchen. The sign reads "Bromley," the name of the mountain community where we have spent several great family vacations, not to mention of her 3-year-old long-haired dachshund.

Here is a photo of the sign at the beginning (sitting on a beige rug):

Upon first seeing it, I had remarked that it might be fun to paint it in a colorful, fun way.  Since Mimi had already mentioned that she was thinking about painting her kitchen to liven up the boring beige walls, we decided to go to a local hardware store to pick up some paint samples.  In addition to picking out strips of possible colors, we also bought several sample bottles of the paint colors and some small brushes, to use for putting paint swatches on the wall as well as to create the sign. We also bought white and black paint to use for background/ accents/mixing. 

I had an idea in my head, but needed some inspiration for particulars, so I did an image search online and found a series of cute wall art "words" by the pop artist Romero Britto. These served both as a guideline for the general design as well as providing ideas for decorative details.

I started by drawing out the letter separations and curved sectioning in pencil, so each letter would be outlined and also contain two basic background colors. Like so:

The sign was then painted with white as a primer, and allowed to dry. Luckily, the pencil marks showed through the white so we could use these as a guide when painting the letters the various colors, which we had chosen based on their potential as the new kitchen wall color.

We used several colors as is, and created a couple of other colors by mixing shades with white and/or black, to create 14 basic "sections":

Then, the challenging part began! It took a few hours to decorate all the sections (including a couple of "oops" -- where we had to repaint a section and start over). 

When the sign was dry enough, I painted the black outline and curved lines demarcating the letters, which made the sign "pop" and also created a 3-D effect. That took another hour or so of painstaking work! 

Here is the final version, and I must say I'm pretty pleased with the results. (Mimi was thrilled!)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Six goals for 2013

Now that the holidays are officially behind me (the Christmas tree finally went out the front door yesterday), it's time to concentrate on the year ahead. And, even though we are already 11 days into the new year of 2013, I thought I'd share my list of goals for this year.

Notice I didn't say "resolutions" -- a word that is just so daunting in its absoluteness. My sister actually gave me the idea to, instead, identify a set of "goals" for myself. 

So, on Dec. 31, 2012, I wrote up a document titled "Six Goals for 2013," and taped this document to my closet door where I can see it every day. 

This document begins: "I aim to work on getting myself to a better place:" and then lists the six areas, with detailed action steps.

They are, in particular order:

Physically. I want to lose about 10-15 pounds and increase my strength and stamina. I've started on this goal by going back on my tried-and-true method of counting my food "points" via the Weight Watchers plan. I've also acquired more at-home workout equipment -- and have been using it!

Financially. My goal is to increase my roster of long-term, well-paying freelance gigs.

Emotionally. I will consciously work on those areas of my personality that could use improvement (my patience level, for instance) and also on my communication skills when it comes to expressing my needs, feelings, and boundaries (which can always be improved upon!).

Sprititually. I want to re-connect with my "higher power." 

Socially. I aim to re-energize my existing friendships, open myself to new friendships, and become a better friend to all.  I have already reached out to old friends and signed up for activities that will introduce me to new people.

Romantically. Because my current relationship is in its ending stages, I am going to open myself up again. Although I won't make it a focus of my efforts, I will be open to whatever might come along in the course of my journey toward my five other goals!

Here's to 2013 -- may it be a great year for all of us.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

An overdose of salt plagues the American diet

We all should know by now that Americans eat way too much salt, especially from all the processed foods we consume daily. But a new CDC study, released on Tuesday, spells out just how much salt we really are consuming. And the numbers are enough to make you shun your salt shaker for good!

That's because a whopping 90 percent of us are consuming more than the recommended amount.

According to the CDC, the average daily intake of sodium is about 3,300 mg per day, almost 50 percent more than the U.S. Dietary Guidelines of  2,300 mg (about one teaspoon) -- and more than double the recommended limit of 1,500 mg for about 60 percent of us who suffer from things like diabetes and high blood pressure.

The study also listed the top 10 "offenders" in contributing to our sodium overdose. More than 40 percent of the salt in our diet comes from these 10 types of foods, in order: breads and rolls; cold cuts and cured meats such as deli or packaged ham or turkey; pizza; fresh and processed poultry; soups; sandwiches such as cheeseburgers; cheese; pasta dishes; meat mixed dishes such as meat loaf with tomato sauce; and snacks such as chips, pretzels, and popcorn.

Surprised to see bread atop the list instead of salty snacks? Well, the CDC explains that many types of bread can contain 200 or more mg of sodium. (For instance, two products in my pantry are Thomas plain English muffins, at 220 mg per muffin, and Walmart's Marketside multigrain loaf, 220 mg per slice.) Doesn't seem like much, until you consider that many people have several servings in their daily diet -- so it can add up fast.

The CDC notes that reducing our sodium by an average of 1,200 mg per day could save up to $20 billion a year in medical costs.  "People can choose how much salt to add to their food at the table. They can't take it out once it's there," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden told the Associated Press.

So, what proactive steps can be taken? 

First and most important: Limit high-sodium foods!  When shopping, read the nutrition labels
to find the lowest sodium options of your favorite foods. Amounts can vary widely. For instance, canned soups can range from about 200 mg per serving to almost 1,000! Or, three ounces of luncheon meat has between 450 and 1,050 mg.

Other CDC recommendations include:

  • Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce.
  • When eating out, request lower sodium options.
  • Support initiatives that reduce sodium in foods in cafeterias and vending machines.
 Oh, and here's one more: Shun that shaker!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ten things I like about Tom

All dressed up: Tom and I, out on the town.
All good things come to those who wait ...

After years of striking out in the love department, this time -- maybe -- I have found the right one! Of course, I have thought that in the first blush of past relationships (witness my blog post of Aug. 9, 2011), only to have the relationship end after it became apparent that we were not really suited.

But well, this time just feels different somehow. I actually me Tom a couple of years ago, when he attended a party I hosted for a mutual friend of ours, Alicia. But he was dating someone at the time, so that was that. Fast forward to early 2012, when he asked Alicia for my phone number and promptly called me. From our first phone conversastion -- which lasted almost two hours and could have gone on who-knows-how-long -- we were simpatico, in sync, on the same wavelength, etc. etc.
Here, in no particular order, are 10 things I find so great about Tom:
  • He is patient.
  • He is thoughtful and kind.
  • He is sexy and loving.
  • He is communicative.
  • He is ambitious.
  • He is very intelligent.
  • He is a compromiser.
  • He is a planner.
  • He is funny and fun to be with.
  • He really digs ME!
So, there you have it. As I write this, I am thinking of him and the next time I will see him.
Can't wait ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The right plate to lose weight

Pile it on: A white plate and mostly whitish food
is a bad combination for portion control.
On a diet or weight maintenance plan? Here's a simple strategy that I ran across, as reported in Scientific America, to help control your portion sizes: Choose your plate color according to what's in the meal.

A study found that people tend to pile more food on their plates when the food color and the plate color are similar. So, for instance, if you're eating spaghetti in marinara sauce, stay away from a red plate! And if it's in alfredo, choose any dinnerware other than white.

This makes sense, if you think about it. It's much easier not to "see" how much food is actually on the plate when it blends into the background, whereas a starker contrast would act as a better visual signal of portion size.

Of course, many of us don't have a plethora of plates in our pantry -- meaning we can't easily adjust the dinnerware color to the meal content. However, it's good to keep this study in mind when dishing out servings, no matter what color you're dishing them on!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Errr ... never mind

Well, things are over between Kerry and me. Turns out, once the bloom of new love wore off, there were too many things standing in the way of any kind of long-term commitment. He wasn't the guy I thought he was .... sigh. And I realized that I deserve much more.
So, while I'm in a period of sadness and mourning for the failed relationship, I know I will bounce back soon and be ready for the next adventures in my life -- with or without a partner.
For, after all of these years of being single, I've learned how to be happy in this status and have a rewarding and rich social life, with as much activity as I care to engage in.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I still prefer to be in a relationship, for all of the wonderful things that having a partner in life can bring -- but NOT with the wrong person!!
Onward and upward ....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Five things I like best about Kerry

 So, I met this great guy a couple of months ago, at a Memorial Weekend gathering. His name is Kerry, he is a little more than a year older than I, and we hit it off immediately. The first good omen was that he is a longtime friend of my good friend Cori -- always the preferable way to meet someone, if you ask me.

Ironically, we might have met almost a year earlier -- at an engagement party for Cori's daughter that we both attended, but we never ran into each other that night. But so be it: May 30, 2011 was the date of our first fateful meeting.

Anyway, like I said, he is a great guy with many wonderful qualities. We DO have our differences, of course, but we are working those out as the relationship goes along. Which leads me to the first on my list of the five things I like best about Kerry:

1. He shows great respect for me by honoring my wishes and needs and working toward a mutual compromise -- which, yes, sometimes means doing it MY way!

2. He loves to touch and be touched. This adds a wonderful element to our lovemaking, because I think it's sexy as hell!

3. He is extremely kind and thoughtful. This was never so apparent than when he stepped up to provide invaluable assistance during a recent, intense caregiving bout with my parents.

4. He also has a strong streak of devil-may-care, which has led to some fun adventures already (and I'll plead the fifth on providing any details!).

5. He is in this for keeps. I'm still taking things step by step and day by day, but I do sense the possibility of long-term with this guy.

So, stay tuned ... there might very well be a Part 2 to this blog -- five MORE things I like best about Kerry!

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