Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Terry John Woods...and a Sale

This week is off to a busy start.  It's funny how that happens after a holiday weekend when you've kicked back and done nothing, and then all of a sudden you check your email to find that everything is happening all at once!  It's a good kind of busy though, one filled with excitement and anticipation for projects to come and fun assignments!

It's been hot, hot, hot here the past few days, so I'm staying inside and pretending my AC is really a cool bay breeze.  Last week was much more pleasant, and I even spent some time out in my hammock catching up on reading.  You see, I got a wonderful surprise in the mail last week...Terry John Woods' new book...Summer House!  Amazon said it wouldn't ship until June the 1st, so I was thrilled when the mailman dropped it off last Friday!

I couldn't wait to sit down and properly devour it since you might recall how much I loved Terry's last book which I wrote about in this post.   I had loved his first book so much that I was almost a little nervous that this one might not live up to my expectations.  The moment I opened it and began reading the words so lovingly written by Dale West and began gazing at the amazing photos taken by Kindra Clineff, all of my fears were put to rest.


The book, which is peppered with wonderful vintage family photos from summers gone by, takes you back to a time when the scent of honeysuckle filled your soul as you rode down deserted roads with "no hands" and skinned knees.

The words and pictures intertwine to create an image of the perfect carefree summer, and a decorating style that lets summer live year round in our hearts and in our homes.

The more I read, the more I thought...I wonder if Terry and I were separated at birth...maybe we are long lost twins?!  Ok, ok, I know we were born on different days, in different places, to different people, and in different years...but the similarities are quite striking!

I mean he loves old watering cans and so do I!

And see that vintage Wayrite kitchen scale in the photo above...yup I have one of those too!

A love for old white wicker and petunias...yes, we share that same love.

Now this may just convince you that we truly are long lost twins, see those shell covered pillow shams in the photos...well guess who else has those same shams?!  Ok, are you freaking out a little about this...should I call someone from Ancestry.com to clear this up?!

And while Terry and Dale are sippin' on some San Pellegrino, there is always some chillin' in my fridge!

Blue and white platters with starfish anyone?  Why yes, I think I will!

Even if you aren't Terry's long lost sister/twin like I clearly am *wink, wink*...I think you will still love this amazing book.  Once again, I'm left speechless at how this book, Summer House, will have you plotting ways to sell everything you own and move to your very own summer house in Maine!  If you haven't ordered your copy already...then RUN, don't walk over to Amazon and get yours today!

Thank you Terry, Dale and Kindra for another wonderful book that will be a fixture in my decorating "must have" library!  And I would also like to give Kindra Clineff a special shout out and thank you for spending time talking to me on the phone recently about creating my website!  Your advice and help were much appreciated!

Now, on to some important info if you are within driving distance of southern Maryland and are looking for something to do this weekend.  My friends Susan and Julie are working on another wonderful sale to be held at Susan's waterside cottage, and you won't want to miss it!  Below is a flyer with all of the info...it's sure to be another winner, just like her last sale!

Celebrations and a Winner

Yesterday we celebrated not only Memorial Day, but also Mr. Tide's birthday!

His favorite cake is chocolate with chocolate frosting, all served with a heaping helping of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

When he was younger, he always thought that the reason people got the day off, or kids didn't have to go to school was because of his birthday, not because it was Memorial Day.  Wouldn't that be nice, to have your birthday be a special holiday for everyone?!

He had a nice day, filled with pampering and presents, and organic homemade chocolate cake with fudgy frosting.  It was a nice end to a very busy, work filled weekend where we planted 11 rose bushes and did lots of other yard work.

And speaking of roses...the winner of my latest giveaway is lucky #5...the wonderful Sherri from Sherri's Jubilee!  Congratulations Sherri, I know you will find just the right place to plant your new rose!  Just send me an email with your mailing address, and a wonderful Hartwood Rose, plus the other goodies, will be on their way to you right away!

Monday, May 30, 2011

All Gave Some

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

As we gather together to dine on burgers and hot dogs today, and raise our glasses to welcome in summer, let us all remember that it is because of those who gave their all that we have that privilege.

May those who continue to serve and protect do so with our support, love, and respect.  Though our politics may differ, may we never forget those who fought and died and who gave us the right to freely believe in what we hold dear!  Thank you!

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Cup Runneth Over

Sometimes when I think I should just quit blogging and move on to other things, I do a post and you all remind me of all the reasons why I'm still here.

You leave comments or email me about something I have written, and I know that on some level we have connected...if only for a moment.

It's those connections that make us human, which help us to grow, and what makes each of us special and able to bring something unique to this world, thereby making it a better place.

There is so much beauty in the world, found in people, places, and even things.

Yet sometimes that beauty is diminished, lost behind the pain and ugliness that exists in our world.

The good in the world is never buried very deep though, and sometimes all we have to do is to open our eyes, and our hearts, in order to bring it back to the surface.

Prejudice is the veil that some of us wear in order to color our own perceptions of what is beautiful.  And I've always thought that it's much easier to judge others than to look deep inside ourselves to find out what is truly making us dislike what we see around us and in others.

My hope is, and always has been, that my children, and their children, will one day live in a world where people learn to judge someone for who they truly are.  And the only way we can do that is to get to know the other person.   To reach out a hand to your fellow man, even if they aren't the same size as you, practice the same religion you do, love the same gender you do, or live in the same type of house you do.

I also hope that if I have ever just lost everything I own, including those I love, to a tornado, an earthquake, a flood, a hurricane, or any other natural disaster, that no one will judge me based on how I look.  I hope that my first thought when I see people suffering is not what they look like, but what I can do to help them in their time of need.  Because if someone can focus on a person's appearance above all else, and not on how they can help them, then I think that says way more about the person doing the judging then it ever could about those being judged.  

In the blog world we like to share what is pretty and perfect, but like some of you who have been so sweet to email me have said...sometimes it's nice to go a little deeper, and that's what I tried to do in my last 2 posts.

Now it's time to move on, but before this topic is laid to rest, I have to thank each of you for sharing a little bit of yourselves with me each and every day.  Through you I learn so much, and in the end that makes me a better person...someone whose cup runneth over, and someone who sees the world as a place where the glass is half full and not half empty. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dear Anonymous

The response I have gotten from my last post has been amazing, even despite the issues that Blogger has been having with allowing myself and others to be able to comment.  Thank you to those of you who emailed me when your comments wouldn't post!

I don't have pictures in this post for a reason.  Instead, it will be filled with just cold hard facts and a few of my beliefs based on the reading I've done on this topic over the past 5 years.  I was saddened and touched by some of the comments I received, because so many of you have either experienced the hardships of trying to lose weight, or some of you understand, because of the loss of a loved one, how unimportant weight truly is.

But the comment I loved the most was from someone Anonymous.  Someone who truly is trying to change her way of thinking...or maybe it's a he, and not a she. Here is the comment for those of you who want to read it.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Something's Been Weighing on Me":

So glad you found out how to help yourself. I hope that you are on the path to healing.

It probably comes from living in looks-oriented LA, but I have to say I have caught myself thinking unkind thoughts when I see the pictures of the folks in Kansas and Missouri. I've caught myself wondering why everyone is so fat and has so many kids. From the pictures I've seen, even the kids are fat. One lady is pregnant and already has a 15 month old, 3 and 5 year olds, you just don't see that here.

How can these folks expect the earth to keep going when we have over-populated the way we have?

I am working on trying to change my mindset that there is something "wrong" with these folks, but I have to wonder why the kids are all heavy too. 

You might think that I would be upset by their comment that was questioning why he/she is seeing so many obese people specifically in Kansas and Missouri (the children question is one I can't explain), but I can address the obesity issue to some degree.  When you can't lose weight, and you know that you are doing everything in your power to eat right, make the right choices and exercise, you tend to do a LOT of reading on this topic...and I have to tell you that what I learned is frankly a little shocking and a lot scary.

It would be great to think that only a few states in the US are suffering from an obesity issue...but that is misguided to say the least.  The reason I say that it would be great if the epidemic was confined to a small geographic area is because then we could truly figure out what the issues were...climate?...intake?...exercise habits?...etc.  But the truth is we are a nation...not an individual or even a state of people becoming obese.

Let's take a look at some facts...the following info is from the CDC who has tracked obesity trends since 1985, and the trends are alarming.

U.S. Obesity Trends

Trends by State 1985–2009

Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is calculated from a person's weight and height and provides a reasonable indicator of body fatness and weight categories that may lead to health problems. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 2009, only Colorado and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.

So based on this sort of data, which you see much more of by following this LINK, you can see that no state has been untouched by the growing problem of obesity.  So if it's occurring in every single state and affecting every single age group then that means something is going on.

You might think, well California has a lot of outdoor activities...I've actually lived there so I know that you can go to the beach in the morning and then hike the mountains later in the day, yet they aren't the state with the lowest obesity rates.

When I began my journey to get better, it wasn't based on the fact that I wasn't eating well, I was already eating pretty well, but what does that mean in this country?  Growing up, we grew most of our own vegetables, my mother and grandmother canned things and even made their own homemade ketchup.

So should we blame McDonalds and other fast food chains for the obesity epidemic?  The answer is both yes and no.  Yes, in that by putting fast food within easy access of millions of Americans and providing sugary drinks and super sized meals, that type of food and the shear quantity of high caloric low nutrition food was bound to have some negative repercussions for us as a society.  But there are plenty of overweight people who almost never eat fast food, and who think they are eating healthy food.  Now, look, I know there is a segment of the population who overeat, or have bad relationships with food...but haven't those people always existed...so why the dramatic increase in obesity in the last 20 years?  Has suddenly a majority of our country become overeating pigs?...I don't think so.

What has changed is the way our food is grown, manufactured, processed, and served.  It used to be that food was eaten in season, or canned and frozen for use at other times of the year.  As fertilizers and insecticides developed, fruits and vegetables could now be grown almost year round and then shipped all over the country...often ripened while in transit by artificial means.  People loved it, they could now have oranges whenever they wanted, grapes out of season, and everything looked SO good...almost to the point of being perfect.  Blemishes on fruits were a thing of the past, and vegetables where larger than they had ever been.  This made the buyers happy, and increased crop production meant more money in the pockets of the farmers who were utilizing these new methods.  Hybrid plants, soybeans, and lots of other new and cool things began to appear as the norm in grocery stores.

Along the way, the mom and pop grocery stores fell by the wayside.  They could no longer compete with big chain grocers who moved into towns and could offer better looking produce at lower prices.  The trickle down effect was felt by everyone.  Farmers had to join the fertilizer/pesticide bandwagon because the public was demanding these new beautiful foods, and with greater yields and more money for the farmers...what was not to like right?  The FDA told us that certain levels of pesticides in our diet were ok, so don't worry, eat up!  They also loved to tell us how great a diet rich in carbohydrates and frozen foods could be...processed food is good...it's the future.  Remember how TV dinners were all the rage...and Jiffy Pop Popcorn?  We rarely if ever got those in my house growing up...to me, those were bought by the "lucky" kids whose parents really loved them. :-)

In Europe, these practices didn't catch on so much.  For one thing, in many of the European countries there just isn't enough land to support huge farms, so to some degree they maintained the lifestyle of eating foods in season and not over producing.

If you go to France, you will find that most of the restaurants visit several markets almost daily to buy their produce and meats.  They drive to these food markets and buy only enough for a few days.  That means that they buy only the best, and the farmers know that.  Since our restaurants tend to over purchase or buy things in bulk, it makes sense that they want to get rid of what they have invested so that often means that we have much larger portions, yet those meals are hardly ever satisfying...but hey they're cheap right...and you got to bring half of it home...so it's good right?

Because the way we grow our food has changed, so has its nutritional value.  Studies have shown that the fruits and veggies our grandparents and great grandparents ate had twice the nutrient rich density that our new more beautiful produce has today.  So you would have to eat twice as much in order to get the same nutritional benefit.  But the truth is we don't eat twice as many veggies and fruits as our grandparents ate...in fact some studies suggest that the average person used to consume over 100 lbs of fruits and veggies per year and now that figure is more like 11 lbs.  And the statistics are particularly grim for children.  Remember when they considered ketchup as a vegetable in most American schools?!

When foods aren't filling our nutritional needs, that means that for some people they need more to be able to function, or have their bodies function...so portion sizes grew.  And the result was that people came to expect large portions...ridiculously large to be exact.  This is another key difference between us and many other countries.  Have you ever noticed that most other countries don't have these large portions, yet you feel more satisfied with less food when you visit there on vacation?    And somewhere along the line, some Americans have developed this belief that if we bought it...whether it's a dinner out somewhere, or sitting in our fridge, then we HAVE to consume it...we have to get our money's worth right?  Meals in restaurants are no longer about spending time enjoying friends or family, they are about getting the most for your money, even if it's just plain bad for you...as long as it's quick and cheap, it's "good."

Now, produce is just one piece of the puzzle.  Meats and grains are a whole other ballgame.  The beef we consume today bears little resemblance to that consumed in this country 100 years ago.  Cows of yesteryear were allowed open pasture land to graze on grass.   And then someone realized that they could make cows a lot fatter a lot faster, and the top grade meats would have that all important USDA Choice label signifying the desirable marbling (which is fat folks), by feeding them corn.  Cows were never meant to eat corn, but it's like candy to them and it fattens them up making them much more valuable as a commodity.  The same is true for poultry, farm raised fish, pork, and most meats.

So why is that bad you ask?  I mean if the cattle rancher can make some extra dough and we get bigger steaks that sounds like a great plan right?  If you are eating things whose entire diet has been manipulated so drastically in the last 50 years...don't you think it might have some effect on you as a society at some point?  If the diet of the cow has been drastically lowered in nutritional content, then it stands to reason that the nutritional content we will garner by eating beef will be lowered in direct proportion.

For some people, these drastic and very radical changes in the way we eat doesn't affect them.  Kind of the same way that some people can go to war and come home relatively unscathed, while others who are put into the exact same situation will suffer from PTSD.  We all have friends that can seemingly eat whatever they want, never exercise, and still stay a size 6.  And we also know people, or are ourselves those people who eat an extremely healthy diet, exercise, and can't lose weight.  So if simply eating less and exercising more was the answer then it wouldn't be that hard, and the rates of obesity wouldn't be skyrocketing.  And even if you are one of those people who this trend in poorer quality food is seemingly unaffected...there is nothing to say that your children might not be so genetically lucky.

Now, I know I'm painting a broad brush, much like the anonymous commenter did.  It's true that kids don't get as much exercise as they once did and many Americans lead a more sedentary lifestyle...but that's not the whole story folks.  We need to look long and hard at what we are putting into our bodies.  This isn't something that you can blithely say..."not in my state," because it's in EVERY state.  And people are wising up and seeking out organic alternatives...but we have a very long way to go before all things will be equal for all people in regard to being able to access healthy alternatives.

I have spent a fortune buying grass fed only beef, eating organic veggies and fruits, and avoiding anything with soy (it mimics estrogen so I can't have it because it makes my thyroid condition and PCOS worse!).  The prices we pay for healthy organic food are astronomical in this country, and the fact is that many low income families, who also happen to be those most likely to be overweight and develop diabetes, can't afford the luxury of eating nutritious organically grown food.

I'm one of the lucky ones, who does have the ability to drive 2 hours to source grass fed only beef, pasture raised poultry and pork, and organic items that aren't available in my area.  But the single mother on food stamps doesn't have those same options.
Organic isn't about wearing crinkly skirts and living in a commune, it's about eating things the way nature intended them to be, not the way society wanted them to look.  Without pesticides fruits and veggies are not quite as pretty as their pumped up competitors.  Pesticides have been proven to be endocrine disrupting chemicals.  They have also been shown to prevent your body from actually absorbing nutrients and getting the most you can from the foods you eat.  Grapes, apples, peaches, strawberries, and many more fruits and other vegetables are sometimes called the dirty dozen, because these tend to be the ones most likely to have the highest concentrations of pesticide residue.  But it's not just on the surface, and you can't just wash your fruits and veggies and rest comfortably in the knowledge that you've eliminated those chemicals from your diet...organic is the only way to help minimize those toxins.  And for someone like me, it's not a fad or a way to be hip by eating organic...for me it's a matter of staying healthy.

It's kind of ironic, for many years people who were thin were the poorest members of most nations.  Food was a sign of wealth, and in some countries being slightly overweight was desirable, because it meant you had the means to acquire food whenever you wanted it.  I truly hope that someone like the Anonymous commenter, who had the guts to say what he/she was really thinking (which I truly do appreciate) will in fact stop the next time he/she has those sorts of negative feelings about someone solely based on their size.  Ignorant, irresponsible people, lazy, bad people come in all shapes and sizes...and if society would stop portraying overweight people as all of those things maybe there would be less prejudice.

And one last thing, mostly because I was curious myself.  According to the most current data (2009) from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), California had more births per capita among women ages 15 - 44 at 527,011 births and a fertility rate of 68.5, while Missouri had 78,920 births and a fertility rate of 66.2.  Kansas had 42,376 births and a fertility rate of 74.7, so slightly higher than California.

I'm sorry this post is so very long, but I think it's important for people to become educated on a whole host of topics and this one is near and dear to my heart so thank you for reading....*taps screen to see if you're still awake* :-)

P.S.  After this post it will be back to the pretty pictures and my regular mindless ramblings...I promise!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Something's Been Weighing on Me

Thank you to everyone who as already entered, tweeted, FB'd, or posted about my latest Giveaway!  If you haven't already entered you can click HERE and join the rest of the folks who already have.  And to the gentlemen who offered to send me pictures of his garden....yes please, I'd love to see them!  I couldn't reply to your comment because you don't have your email visible. :-(


The past few days I've been feeling out of sorts.  I'm not sure if it was because every story I've written lately has been difficult to complete, due to one reason or another, or if it was because of my kidney stone episodes, or because I've just been going to bed way later than I normally do, but I've been a little down...which is just not like me.  This post is my way of trying to find out why I've been feeling the way I do...but I warn you it's a very LONG post, so you might want a healthy snack and some water before reading further.

Today, I visited Chania's wonderful blog Razmataz where she posted about her struggle with weight and how society treats people who don't fit a certain mold with disgust and disrespect much of the time.  Her post struck a nerve...one that's been close to the surface for awhile now, but I just didn't know how to put it all in words until today.

I had been thinking about doing a post on this topic, but have stopped myself plenty of times for fear that it was something we just shouldn't talk about.  Oh I've hinted at it...the no picture rule I spoke of with Connie...it's not for her, she's a beautiful and very photogenic woman...no, the rule was for me and thankfully she has always understood why I wanted her to honor my rule.

Growing up, I was never the skinny kid, but I was far from overweight.  I was a college level athlete who played tennis for up to 6 hours a day, ran, and lifted weights, so in a nutshell I was someone who could probably kick your butt.  My greatest joy was to go to the local Navy base on the weekends and hang out near the tennis courts or racquetball courts waiting for some brawny Marine to show up so that I could play a pick up game and wipe him around the court.  I gained a reputation as being someone to contend with, and people would seek me out to see if they could beat me...I loved that, because if I'm nothing else, I am super competitive.

Now, I was never a jerk or someone who flaunted my abilities as an athlete, it was the opposite actually.  I sought to humble those who thought they were invincible and smiled on the inside when I achieved my goal.

Sports were my refuge, the place where I found passion, joy, and a healthy lifestyle.  I was a good student too, but tennis was always my priority.  I once had a college professor tell me after missing class for an away match that I needed to get my priorities straight...I simply looked at her and politely said, "I think I do have them straight."  I was confident, self assured, and I knew that missing a few of her classes to do something I loved would not keep me from the career of my dreams...and it didn't.

But even in college, I knew that something wasn't right with my body.  I would work out with the team for hours at a time and then be back out on the court for fun for several more hours a day, but I was never the skinny, willowy tennis player that some of my friends and teammate were.  I was solid as a horse, and I ate incredibly well, didn't drink except for an occasional drink, and I still wasn't as thin as I should have been based on my intake verses my output.

I simply wrote it off to bad genes and knew that throughout my life I would have to work to keep my weight at a normal level.  Then, after I married and had my daughter, I was suddenly skinny!  I could wear the two piece bathing suit I hadn't felt comfortable wearing since middle school because I thought muscular and strong wasn't sexy.  It was so strange to not exercise like I once had and to be so much thinner...how could this be?!

As my daughter grew, I began exercising more and once again I gained weight, not a lot, but I was never as skinny as I had been right after she was born.  Now for those of you that say muscle weighs more than fat...there is truth to that, but it's not 10 lbs more I can assure you, and it takes a very long time to turn a pound of fat into a pound of muscle!

Finally, right after our son was born, I went to the doctor, and I was diagnosed with PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome.   I had been to doctors before but no one had ever figured out what was really going on with me until then.  The doctor was a little baffled by me since I had 2 children (PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in the world) and because I wasn't really heavy as many PCOS patients typically are.  So they began treating me for the PCOS which included a medicine to help with insulin resistance, a major symptom of PCOS.  For the next 8 years, I was relatively thin, but there as a reason for that.  For those 8 years the medicine made me feel like a first trimester pregnant woman...so smells, tastes, everything made me sick to my stomach.  I actually would have to leave the grocery store if they were steaming shrimp, and I can't begin to tell you how many hotels we left when we opened the door and it just didn't smell "right" to me!  It was a nightmare, and I went off of the medication just about 7 years ago.

If you are still reading this then bravo to you...I probably would have tuned out a long time ago if I were you!

The last 7, almost 8 years of my life have been spent dealing with one thing after another.  My mom's stroke, her death from cancer, my dad's death, working 2 jobs, selling one house and remodeling another, raising kids, having a husband who travels...you might say I've had just a wee bit of stress during those years.  But when life gets tough for me I turn to what I've always turned to in order to make it through...working out!

I joined a small gym and even hired a private trainer.  I would work out for several hours 3 or 4 times a week, and I was gaining weight and was tired all of the time!  Finally, my wonderful husband, who has never cared what I looked like or how much I weighed, said, "something is wrong with you...no one can work out the way you do, eat as healthily as you do, and gain weight!"  It was him who found me a doctor who finally looked at the whole picture.  In addition to my PCOS, she determined that I also was hypothyroid and that my adrenal gland had given up the ghost.

So what does that mean, I wanted to know from her.  Well she looked right at me and said..."it means that if you don't slow down and eliminate all the stress from your life, then you won't be here to see your kids grow up!"  What?!  What did she just say, I thought to myself.  I saw her on a Friday afternoon, and on Monday I phoned my boss at my marketing job and said I won't be coming in...as in ever again.

Besides scaring me to death, or maybe out of death, she also said something that completely shocked me and rocked my world.  She told me to quit exercising!  Again I thought...what?!  How can exercise be bad, we read all the time about how great it is, all of the health benefits...she must be crazy, I thought.  She explained that when our bodies are already stressed, we are producing huge amounts of cortisol.  When we exercise, we pump out even more cortisol, especially when we go above our metabolic threshold...so I was making myself worse by exercising, and the added cortisol was what was making me GAIN weight!  I actually didn't believe her at first and continued to exercise, until the next doctor told me the same thing, and then when the 3rd doctor said the same thing I finally got it...yeah I'm stubborn and stupid like that!  But it went against everything I had ever known and everything we are taught!

In the past 3 years, I have embarked on an arduous journey.  I've spent thousands of dollars having my blood levels tested every month, then every 3 months to try and get my body and my life back.  Today I only eat organic food, absolutely no transfats, grass fed only beef, limit my sugar intake, and I'm now allowed to walk short distances, do yoga and to meditate.  I even have a meditation program hooked up to my computer that has a way to monitor my pulse and galvanic skin response to make sure I stay in the zone and don't stress my body.  I'll admit that I'm not as faithful as I should be about doing yoga or using the program, but that's something I'm working on.

I also limit the amount of stress in my life as much as anyone can who is trying to work, has a family, and is just living life.  But the one thing that I haven't resolved is my weight.  I've been told to be patient, that in time it will sort itself out...but I'm not a patient person people so it's been very hard for me!

So why tell you all of this...I'll probably be asking myself that same question too once I hit the publish button...but I think it's because I feel it's time.  

When I left Connie's house the other day and went to Wegmans grocery store, I was wandering the aisles when I met a wonderful French woman.  We struck up a conversation, something I seem to do frequently, and we began to talk about how in France you can sit at a cafe all day people watching and sipping the same cup of coffee and no one would ever ask you to leave, or to order something else...you can stay as long as you like.  This concept is so foreign here in the states, where waiters breathe down your neck if you take too long, and anxious patrons give you the eye if you don't hurry up so that they can fill your seat.

We talked for probably 20 minutes and she then looked right at me and said that her weight was a real problem for her.  She explained that before she turned 40 she had been a flight attendant and weight had never been an issue for her, but that following a hysterectomy and with changing hormones she had gained weight which she just couldn't seem to lose no matter what she did or how well she ate.  She seemed almost apologetic, yet she was a beautiful woman, her only crime was carrying a few extra pounds.  A crime which carries a hefty sentence (no pun intended) in this country...and sadly the punishment is spreading to other parts of the world.

America likes to pride itself on the fact that we can put a feed trough restaurant like the Olive Garden in every city and town, yet it shuns those whose bodies can't handle that sort of rubbish.  We have to go to specialty grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Wegmans (I drive 2 hours each way to get to those stores) to find healthy alternatives to the glossy perfect looking apples, and blemish free peaches.  Independent local farmers can't afford to grow the crops that will supply the next generation with healthy alternatives to flavored water and lunchables! 

We are a country obsessed with looks.  And the repercussions for those who don't fit the mold are devastating.  I never thought twice about having my picture taken, or what I would wear, or whether I wanted to meet someone...but I do now.  And we have people losing weight with Jenny Craig and then telling us that in order to do what you want and to feel confident, you have to be a size 6....As for the rest of you, well just stay at home, because frankly we don't want to see you, though much of our society is dedicated to making you bigger, less healthy, and less active.  Do we really need drink holders on our shopping carts people?!

The point of my post is that living a healthy lifestyle is a must.  Studies have shown that the way you and I eat will affect our grandchildren and great grandchildren!  

Another point of this post, and one I need to heed myself, is that how I look really shouldn't determine who I am or what I am capable of.  The other day my husband told me that he would be going to Germany for training in July, and would I like to go along?  My first reaction was YES, I've always wanted to go to Germany, but that thought was quickly replaced.  You see I have a dear gaming friend who lives in Hamburg, and all I could think was...oh I can't meet Markus when I look like this! How many times have you or me, or anyone else out there turned down an opportunity, or avoided something because you needed to lose 15 lbs, or 50 lbs?!  I need to free myself of the notion that if you see me and think I'm not skinny, and don't like me because of it, that there is something wrong with ME.   The truth is that if you judge me to be less capable, or pretty, or whatever based on my weight then that's your problem, because goodness knows I'm the same person I was when I wore the size 6 clothes that hang in my closet...which are all probably dry rotted by now.  

And lastly, but far and away the most important message I hope to impart is that I hope when you see someone who is overweight, you don't immediately assume that they eat fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or that their car's GPS is programmed to hit the drive thru at Dunkin Donuts.  That was the point of Chania's post too, and I thank her for giving me permission to finally put it all out there on the table. 

I once asked my doctor why the weight was taking so long to come off and her reply was...well it will be the last component of your recovery.  I thought it was ironic that the first symptom to show up would be the last one to leave.  But I think I'm a better person today...heavier and slightly less confident then I once was...because I now live in the knowledge that my husband and children love me unconditionally and I've also developed a greater sense of compassion, empathy, and no longer judge people by how they look (not that I did much of that anyway), and that, my friends, is worth it's weight in gold!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Beg Your Pardon...and a Giveaway

I never promised you a rose garden...oh wait, I kind of did, so here goes!  Oh, and be sure to scroll ALL the way down to the bottom of the post to register for my latest Giveaway!

If you read my last post, then you know that I spent last Friday with my blog pal Connie from Hartwood Roses.

It was a perfect day to visit her beautiful home and gardens since it was a little on the overcast side and not too hot.  When it's sunny, it makes it much harder to photograph flowers during mid day, so we were both hoping for clouds on Friday, and we got our wish!

Visiting Connie's yard and gardens is a little like walking in to a fairy tale.  As you wander the rose gardens, you can't help but feel like a princess from a story book and it makes you want to break out in song and don a frilly frock.


Because everywhere you turn there is color, fragrance, and beauty, the kind that illustrators have tried to capture for years.

And perfumiers and candle makers long to recreate the wonderful unique scent of a rose so that we can enjoy it year round.

As we wandered around, Connie gave me lots of info about roses, she's a wealth of knowledge when it comes to heirloom and old fashioned roses...you might even say that besides her family and pets, it's her passion!

Until I met Connie, I was a bit of a rose dummy, preferring Knock Out brand shrub roses that seemed to grow on their own.  I thought that growing "real" roses would require me to purchase a wide brimmed hat, gloves, and spend hours on my hands and knees out in a rose garden treating things like black spot and Japanese beetles.

Now don't get me wrong, I love my Knock Out roses and they make great border "shrubs" as Connie likes to say, but they never gave me the rose smell and look that I envision when I think of roses.

I've long been a fan of old fashioned flowers and cottage gardens, the kind our grandparents and great grandparents planted without giving much thought to it really.  Those were the roses I longed for, and I kept thinking to myself, that those hardy farm folk didn't have time to sit outside tending roses all day, so there must be a rose that would give me the look and the fragrance I was after without becoming a full time job. 

Thankfully, becoming friends with Connie has shown me that I can grow roses successfully and she's turned me in to a rose lover too, and I can't thank her enough for that!

When I met Connie I was immediately taken with the fact that she fearlessly began a rose business in spite of a down trodden economy because she simply loved finding and preserving the same roses I recalled from my childhood.

On Friday, Connie showed a little more of that fearlessness as she mocked Mrs. Mockingbird and peeked inside a rose bush to get a shot of her babies in their nest.  Mrs. Mockingbird, who you can just make out sitting on the cement fence post, was NOT amused, and you can see pictures of the babies in this post on Connies blog.


Wouldn't living in a rose bush be the most wonderful thing in the world?  Well that's kind of how Connie lives, with all of the gorgeous roses she is surrounded by much of the year.

As we walked around, Connie told me that what she does to remember the roses she is photographing is to take a picture of the flower followed by a photo of the plant marker beneath each rose.

This is a great idea, but by the time I started that method, I had already snapped a lot of photos, and then when I was looking through the photos I took to decide which ones to use, I couldn't remember if I snapped the picture of the flower first, or the name first!  So you'll have to visit Connie's website where she sells roses to identify the names of the flowers I've featured.

Along with speaking at various rose functions and running her heirloom rose business, Connie has been busy this spring planning the wedding of one of her daughters which will take place right on the property!

This is a view from the pavilion where her daughter and future son in law will tie the knot.  While I was there visiting, Connie's husband was busy getting things ready for the big day.  So far, they've mulched, weeded, laid sod, and reconfigured the entire pavilion where the bride and groom will say their vows as the lucky guests watch on from the lush green lawn.

And what flowers will they be using for the wedding...well roses from the property of course, plus some other flowers!

And with hundreds of varieties of roses to chose from, there are more than enough roses to go around.

Can't you just imagine how beautiful the pictures will be with a setting as pretty as this?

This beautiful blush pink rose would be so pretty in a brides bouquet don't you think?!

And here is an example of the signs Connie uses to identify each and every rose in her garden...that's a lot of signs folks!

Even the roses that aren't yet in bloom are beautiful, like this one along the back fence line.

On the back portion of the property is where Connie's biggest rose garden is, and oh my, what a garden it is!

There are roses of every color, size, and variety...something for everyone.

And it's simply a magical place to be.

Connie apologized for the weeds which have taken hold of this part of her garden...but I simply looked at her and laughed.  She has HUGE amounts of gardens to tend to and goes a million miles an hour with everything from raising money for cancer research for canines, to planning a wedding...so I told her that she should cut herself a little slack.

If she could only see my flower beds right now, which are dwarfed in size by hers, she wouldn't have been apologizing at all!

This little shovel is evidence that both Connie and her husband have a never ending job tending to this historic property.

Weeds or no weeds, this garden is a magical place full of the most beautiful colors...I could sit here all day and drink it in.

Everywhere you turn there is color, and each rose is more beautiful than the next, making it hard to pick a favorite.

And who would want to choose anyway...when like Connie, you can have them all!

There are delicate peachy pink roses...

And vibrant pinky red colored roses full of petals.

And there are climbing roses which soar skywards.

These ruffle'y magenta colored roses were so colorful, they were one of my favorites!

This is a view of Connie's yard looking back towards her house from the large rose garden.  You can see the pavilion where her daughter will be married in just 2 weeks.

If I had to pick just one rose as a favorite from last Friday it would have to be this one.  It had petals which looked like a beautiful summer sunset to me, and I loved how full it opened as if to say, lean over and smell me!

It truly was a magical day to be surrounded by such beauty, and I want to thank Connie for inviting me to come and take pictures of all of her hard work!  I even came home with four new roses of my own!

So now, after being ever so patient, I'd like to announce this rose inspired giveaway!  Awhile ago, my friend Doug Vogel gave me a wonderful CD that shows you how to take roses and create several arrangements with them, so that is the first part of my Giveaway.

Doug also gave me this great book created by his friend Dottie Harrigan.  Inside the book you'll find lots of charming flower quotes!  So that's part 2 of my Giveaway.

And the 3rd part is that I'll be giving away one of Connie's beautiful rose plants!

The Giveaway is open to EVERYONE...so, in order to be entered for a chance to win here's what you need to do.

#1.  Visit Connie's Hartwood Roses website by clicking HERE and then come back and leave me a comment telling me which rose you would like to win!  (if you live in a state that won't allow the shipment of roses, or if you live outside the US, I will substitute something else rose themed instead.)

#2.  For a second chance to win, simply become a follower of Low Tide High Style, and if you are one already, simply leave me a SEPARATE comment letting me know that you have become a follower or already are one.

#3.  For a 3rd chance to win, you can tweet, Facebook, or blog about the giveaway.  Just be sure to come back and leave a 3rd comment letting me know that you did one of those things to spread the word!

The Giveaway will be open until Midnight PST, May 29th, 2011.  The winner will be announced on Monday the 30th.  Good Luck!