Friday, January 31, 2014

Photography Made Me Insecure

In photography, knowing how to pose people is kind of an important thing... but I really hate studying it!! It makes me insecure.

A while back I watched an online workshop and the guy talked about using your editing to make people look thinner or straighten their crooked nose or make their face symmetrical.

Make their face symmetrical!? I had never thought about facial symmetry before. Apparently "the world's most beautiful people" have symmetrical faces and the rest of us don't.

A few weeks ago I watched another workshop on posing people and again there was talk about finding people's best features and helping them to hide/disguise their "flaws". I get that you don't want to pose people in a way that makes them look bigger than they are. And if someone has an insecurity and you try to make that a focal point of a photo the person is going to be awkward about it.

But goodness... thinking about all of this is making me insecure!

I don't want to show up at a photo shoot and look someone over to see what their "flaws" might be. (It's been suggested!) But I find myself looking in the mirror lately wondering what isn't quite symmetrical about my own face or what side is my best side.

And then the other day I needed a photo and had to get out the tripod and do a selfie and that's when it happened. I'm 34 and for the first time I could name my "flaws". I was horrified that I hadn't noticed these things before... like how my one eye bugs out a little bit more than the other. Or how my smile is a little bit crooked. And how my one eyebrow is a little more raised than the other.

I freaked out for a minute.

And then I said screw all those people who might call these my flaws! Who are they to say that I'm not perfect the way that I am or that I need fixed or that certain things about me need to have attention drawn away from them!? That bugged out eye, raised eyebrow and crooked smile are the things that set me apart. They are the things that make me unique. I don't want these things "fixed" in photoshop. says that a flaw is "a feature that mars the perfection of something; defect; fault."

It's time to stop calling things "flawed" or "imperfect" because they don't reach an unrealistic and unattainable standard of beauty that photoshopping has set. It's time to stop comparing ourselves to people who have had plastic surgery and botoxed the crap out of their faces.

Imperfections ARE our perfection.

It's time to stop saying there is only one kind of beautiful and start recognizing the beauty in the individuality of each person.

Embrace imperfection.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Rollers

Snow Roller: a rare meteorological phenomenon in which large snowballs are formed naturally as chunks of snow are blown along the ground by wind, picking up material along the way, in much the same way that the large snowballs used in snowmen are made.

Three conditions need to be present for these snow rollers to happen...
 *The ground must be covered by a layer of ice to which snow will not stick.
 *The layer of ice must be covered by wet, loose snow with a temperature near the melting point of ice.
 *The wind must be strong enough to move the snow rollers, but not strong enough to blow them apart.
(Info from wikipedia.)

We have snow rollers all over the place but today is the first time I have actually been able to see them. I guess you have to drive out of "the city" to where there are some open spaces and we did that today. We had to drive out to Mike's parents to get something and we saw plenty of snow rollers on the way. There is a field full of them by my in-law's house so we got out to explore.

We were completely frozen within five minutes of being outside but it was a fun little adventure and I'm glad we took the time to freeze and check out these rare snow rollers. I'm 34 and I have never seen them before. Who knows if we'll ever see them again!









Winter is an absolutely beautiful time of year that is full of surprises. It's things like this that remind me of how creative my God is.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Mind Game

Yesterday I shared how I completed the Whole30 and I have a plan to stick pretty close to it.

Easier said than done friends!

My mind was assaulting me all day yesterday. I went to Panera and on my rewards card I have $1 off a pastry. My mind told me just one cookie. I deserve it after all! I mean... I haven't had any sugar for 30 days!

I passed.

I went into a store and was faced with isles of Valentine's Day candy. Do you know how much I like those stupid hearts? Again, my mind was after me... just one small thing. Just have a look. Something little. It won't matter. You deserve it!

I walked out of the store without candy.

I went to another store... In this one I swear I could SMELL the candy. It smelled good. By this point I was getting a bit worn down with the "good angel/bad angel" going on in my mind. I was so tempted to have a look around. Find one small thing that I could justify feeding myself.

I made it out of the store without any candy.

Whew! It was hard work you guys! At the end of the day I did have ten little sixlets because my kids were willing to share and sixlets are my favorite. But that's all. I could have had more. I wanted more.

Here's the thing...

For 30 days it was easy because Whole30 set my food parameters. I KNEW what I was supposed to do for those 30 days. I knew what was allowed and what wasn't. It was easy to follow the plan laid out for me. But now there is no plan except for the one I make up. No one else is going to set my food parameters for me. That's my job now. Whole30 gave me the motivation and information I needed to get started. And it lasted long enough to show me I COULD do it.

But this is where it gets tough... I'm now only accountable to myself.

My mind kept telling me how much I DESERVED a treat. The truth is that I don't deserve a treat... I deserve to be healthy! To feel good in my body. I have worked hard for this and now I deserve to keep going with it.

I'm off to make my breakfast eggs and then I'm going to put on my skinny jeans just to remind me how much progress I have made. Here's to another day of food success!

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Whole30 - Day 31

I made it!
30 days on the Whole30 plan.
No grains. No dairy. No sugar.
Just meat, veggies, fruit, eggs and nuts.

Was it hard?
No. Not really. It took a little more thought but it actually wasn't hard at all.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm going to stick close to the Whole30 eating plan. Not quite as strict but definitely close to it.

Today is day 31. I'm sitting at Panera Bread and just enjoyed a four cheese souffle for breakfast. I really needed something other than plain eggs. That does get old after a while. And cheese makes everything better. But that's my only planned splurge for the day. I'll eat Whole30 for lunch and dinner.

So... what did I learn in the past 30 days?

I like eating well. I feel better when I do. I found myself sleeping better. I didn't crave sugar and breads like I ALWAYS do. If I eat a good breakfast it sets me up to be successful for the rest of the day. A good breakfast keeps me full till lunch... which means no snacking. And a good lunch will keep me full until dinner. Three meals is enough when I do them right.

I also noticed that my moods during PMS were much more stable. (If you don't remember... I have the world's worst PMS and I have been working on sorting that out for the past year.) Oh... and during PMS I didn't crave chocolate... at all! That in itself is a miracle. I felt like I didn't even know myself anymore!

What else? My body responds well to eating healthy. I'm uhhh... much more regular. No more constipation... which is often a problem for me. I know... you guys REALLY want to know this stuff but I'm going to talk about it because maybe this is the one thing that will make someone else consider giving the Whole30 plan a try to see if it can help them.

I also lost ten pounds!!! In thirty days! And it was EASY to lose it! I didn't even exercise. Not once. In fact, I probably sat around more than normal. I spent days on the couch doing nothing but watching movies and working on crochet orders and editing pictures. All I did was change up my eating (drastically) and I lost ten pounds! No special drinks or pills or expensive weight loss plans. Just eating real food and nothing else. It felt good yesterday to be able to put on my skinny jeans that I haven't worn in a year. They just fit better with my winter boots.

That alone has convinced me to keep going. I have more weight to lose. I'll likely have to work a bit harder at the next ten but I know it's possible.

Some other (not so important) changes...
*I went from never using salt and pepper on my food to almost always using it. After a while the eggs needed some more flavor and I couldn't use ketchup or cheese... so salt and pepper had to do. Speaking of eggs... I have become a master at cooking them just how I like them. 30 days straight of eggs will do that for ya.
*When mustard is the only Whole30 compliant condiment in your fridge you will learn to like it. I now like mustard.
*I love nuts! Almonds and pistachios being favorites.
*Peppers and onions!! I used to never eat peppers and onions. The past few years I started adding them when a recipe called for peppers or onions but I didn't really like them. Now my favorite side is a whole lot of peppers and onions and mushrooms cooked up together. And I'll even eat peppers raw. Good food!
*When on a good eating plan emotional eating doesn't work. A chunk of chicken or a salad just doesn't do it. I did not emotional eat for the past 30 days. (Another miracle!)

So what's my plan from here?
My plan is to not sabotage the progress made. I know that if I eat cookies and ice cream today that I will want it again tomorrow. So I won't allow that splurge. I found that I can have control over food. I will plan my splurges and limit them greatly. I won't eat the sweets if I didn't plan it. (That means no emotional eating. Planning means things like "I'll go to Pennie's Bakeshop on Friday morning and have a cinnamon role with my friends. And then I won't do it again for at least a week.)

I want to continue not snacking and eating three healthy meals a day.

I want to slowly add some things back in and pay attention to how different foods affect my body. What constipates me? What doesn't fill me up? What makes me feel bloated? (I can tell you right now the answer to that is bread.) What gives me headaches? I want to better understand my body's relationship to food.

I am SO GLAD that I did the Whole30! It was a really good experience for me and it has set me on the right road to healthy eating. It has shown me that I CAN do it and I will feel great when I do.

SO... I'm not doing the Whole30 completely anymore but here's to another 30 days of healthy eating!!

Find info on the Whole30 HERE.

What are your thoughts on the Whole 30?
Have you done it?
Are you thinking about doing it?
If you have any questions please ask! I'd love to talk with you more about this!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Winter Wonderland

While I can't say that I love winter as much as I love summer (there's just something about the warm sun on skin!) I do have to admit that I enjoy winter. The cold air can be quite refreshing, the snow is beautiful and fun, I love sweatshirts and days at home, and without winter we wouldn't be able to experience the new birth of spring.

I also have a lot of fond memories from winters growing up. Long days of sled riding with neighbors on Killer Hill... funny thing is that the hill now looks so dinky and I can't figure out why it seemed so killer back in the day. There were also days where we would walk to the park and play hockey for hours! When I was younger I was always outside during winter.

Winter in Pennsylvania is just a part of life and one can either choose to embrace it... or hate it.

I'll embrace it!

This morning I woke up and saw the sun shining in the windows. I peeked out and saw beautiful, sparkly snow! I snapped a picture just before the sun went away for the day. But still...the snow was beautiful so I bundled up and by 8:30 I was out the door with my camera. It was five degrees and a perfect way to start my day!

















Saturday, January 25, 2014

All Out of Whack

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I feel like I've been running around for the past few weeks looking for my sanity!

Things are definitely out of whack!
I miss my routine!
I need routine.

The kids had their long Christmas break from school and it feels like the break just keeps going. It's been nothing but cancellations and two-hour delays since going back to school. I think there MIGHT have been two or three normal days. They delay when it's too cold in the morning out of concern for those that have to walk or stand at bus stops. It makes sense. But man! These two hour delays every morning are killing me. I forget to do things like pack a lunch for Liza. Our mornings now look like this... no alarm, snuggle with the kids, eat breakfast, get ready, watch a movie, THEN go to school.

Next week isn't looking any better. With highs not leaving the single digits for a few days we are guaranteed some delays and most likely a cancel or two. I want to cry every evening when friends start posting on FB about delays.

To make things even more awesomely out of whack we found out last week that we are no longer eligible to collect unemployment. They changed something about the qualifications and because of what Mike made quarterly while working last year we don't qualify. So there goes our income. Gone. Thankfully I've been doing good with hat sales and scarf parties (that's something I made up and I'll write a post about it one of these days) and I have some good stuff going with my photography business this year. Mike gets a few hours working at the church each month and he started delivering pizza two weeks ago.

This all makes me a little bit crazy because neither of us has a set work schedule. It's all random. Mike is now working most evenings and I end up waiting up for him instead of going to sleep. That leaves me completely exhausted because the kids don't sleep in... even though they have an extra two hours every morning!

Life is out of whack!

And it will likely stay that way for a while.

But in it all... I still have peace. That deep peace that things will be ok. That God will take care of me. He already IS taking care of me. He actually prepared us for this years ago by putting us in a place where we would hear of Dave Ramsey and learn his financial strategy. Because of that we have that wonderful emergency fund. (Although I really hate to use it all because I like the security of having it!) It's also a great day when you find out that your mortgage has been paid for the month. BLESSINGS!

I think that if life never got tough and out of whack that we would miss some of the greatest things that God wants to do for us. We haven't been promised an easy life... but God has promised to never leave me. HE is my provider. HE is my Daddy.

So yes... life is way out of whack and I might feel like I am often teetering on the edge of insanity... but in this place I know that I am loved and taken care of.

Simple Moments Stick

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Raising Givers

I love to give.
It's fun.
It brings so much joy... to me and others.
Giving is good.

During the Christmas season lots of people were talking about the traditions they do to help their kids focus on giving over getting. I love hearing how people do that! I hope my children learn the joy of giving. (I hope they enjoy receiving as well... because let's be honest... that's fun too!)

This past December my kids surprised me.

The school sent home notes about the Christmas Shop. I could send money in with Liza and Jason so that they could buy Christmas presents for people. The school also gave each kid $2 to spend. (Or maybe it was $3.) We sat down with Liza and Jason and talked about our options. In the end we decided to skip shopping at the Christmas Shop and instead take some money and go shopping for each other and exchange gifts that way. Going to the dollar stores would be fun and there would be more options of (junky) little things to buy. (It was loads of fun with a stop in the middle at the new yogurt place for a treat and so we could swap kids and finish the shopping. Good memories!)

After the decision was made I told Liza and Jason that they could use the money that the school gave them however they wanted when it was their turn to go to the Christmas Shop. I told them they could use it to buy something for themselves.

Off to school they went.
They did their shopping.
And when they came home my heart almost exploded.

Liza had bought a ring for a friend in her class and an "I Love Grandma" coaster for her Grandma.

Jason bought me a frame. :) I immediately put a picture in it and he told me he knew the perfect place for it. He put it on the night stand beside my bed. It's my favorite gift from this Christmas!

They had the opportunity to get something they liked for themselves... but they didn't. They thought of others and bought gifts for them.

How did this happen?
I honestly have no idea.

But I would like to think it is our focus on giving all year long and not just at Christmas. I hope that we always make giving an "all the time" thing and not just a December thing. I hope that I am raising givers!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

M. Family Photos

I love that this family loves winter and wanted winter pictures! We ended up with a day that wasn't super freezing and had a lot of fun! Their kids are about the same age as mine and I see them at church all the time but we never really talked before. What a great family! I should definitely talk to them more. :)


















Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why I Will Not Sell Trademarked Items

I make hats.
I sell the hats I make.
I often get requests for things like Hello Kitty, Minions, Disney, NFL logos, etc. and I always have to respond that I am not able to sell trademarked items.

No one is supposed to be selling them... unless they have purchased a license. To sell Hello Kitty you need to have a license from Hello Kitty. To sell Disney you need to have a license from Disney. Etc.

I do not have a license to sell any of these things and therefore it is illegal and unethical to do so.

Could I get away with it?
Do lots of other people sell them without a license?

But that doesn't make it right.

If I choose to illegally sell these items I could get fined or lose my business. It's not worth it.

So there is the legal side of it all but there is something even deeper that keeps me from going the illegal route and that is my kids.

I am always telling them that we do what's right... all the time... even when it's really hard... even when no one else is doing what's right. They watch me do my business. I can use this as a way to teach them integrity... or I can let my actions show them that we don't ALWAYS do what's right... just sometimes.

I'm choosing the high road and I know that I've lost some business because of it. When I tell people I can't sell those items they go and find them somewhere else. Perhaps that somewhere else has a license and perhaps they don't. I just want to encourage you that if you are purchasing any trademarked characters online to make sure you find licensed sellers. Don't participate in illegal activity and don't let ignorance be your way to a clear conscience.

PS... changing the name but not the look or saying "inspired by" still doesn't make it right. :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Winter Days At the Zoo

We love our zoo and I knew that we needed to make it this winter for the Penguin Parade. They bring a bunch of the penguins out and let them walk around. When we normally have to watch them through a water splashed window... well, to see them up close was really cool! (Just wish it would have lasted a little longer!)

So the Penguin Parade was the reason we went on Sunday. Well, that and it wasn't 0 degrees. It was 34. :)



Even though some of the animals (like the giraffes and rhinos) were not out there was still plenty to do and see and we spent a few hours at the zoo and aquarium.





We have two favorite things from this trip.

First is the little sea lion. We always stop to play with this little guy. He's a lot of fun. If you toss a rock back and forth he will follow it back and forth. Liza likes to try to get him to do tricks too. It's a fun time and even better when no one else is in the way!


The second favorite thing from the trip is this young tiger!


Last year Liza got one of the tigers to chase her around. This is not the same tiger as last year but she got it to chase her! I don't know why but they just start pawing at her and then follow her around. It's fun! You can hear a little girl giggling in the video. She thought it was pretty great and was content to sit in her stroller and watch. :)

We bought a family membership to the zoo... again... and we plan to go back again before winter is over!

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