Blue Skies Smiling at Me, Nothing But Blue Skies Do I See

Blue Skies, Smiling at Me, Nothing But Blue Skies, Do I see. Well, not really. Do you know that song?

It’s been three months since my last post. That was unintentional.  Back in April I was moving along with lots of goals, challenges, intentions, motives, duties, requirements, etc.. … then, BAM! I was suddenly overwhelmed. No one noticed.  I didn’t even notice at first.

Life happens. Sometimes smoothly and uneventful, and sometimes like a boulder racing down a mountainside stopping only after it has run over you and slammed onto a street or some other obstacle below.  I woke up one day feeling like a boulder had crushed my soul.  I was doing too much. I am pretty good and managing multiple things; have always done it without much issue, either by choice or necessity. But suddenly, I was overwhelmed by my own life and circumstances.

The first thing to fall apart was my eating habits.  After 2+ years of being healthy, I found food to be a visiting friend again. :(. Yep, gained some poundage. 😦  I woke up in the morning only looking forward to crawling back into bed that night. I did the things I had to do to with little excitement.  Some disappointments rolled into my world.  I thought I was getting depressed, but decided I was overloaded and tired; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

One of the biggest things I took away from this time is that ….. everyone else is overloaded and tired too. Everyone else is managing a boatload of issues as well. OK, not everyone, but I bet you needn’t look far to find someone in your world who is suffering from loss, death of a loved one, illness, children issues, aging parents, financial issues, relationship/friendship issues, etc. Lots going on in the world. Not to mention things that are happening politically, economically, and socially in the world.

I had to slow down for a few weeks. Be alone. I primarily got up in the morning, worked at my job, and slept. Thank God for friends… but there really is some truth to the saying, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.”

Anyway, in the midst of those low slow days I would go outside at lunch time and sit on my back patio and just look at the blue sky, the beautiful trees, different kinds of birds, and jumbo bumblebees hanging around the Rose of Sharon. I notices that after lunch I must felt better. Being outside in the sunshine, thinking about nothing,  just sitting and breathing refreshed my heart and soul.

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….. I even got a chance to photograph visiting bunnies too.

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During this time, I realized I needed to do something that was out of the ordinary for my world. Fortunately, I discovered a ‘thing’ that has brought a happy distraction to my life. As a younger woman, I used to wonder why some older women I knew spent so much time in their yards and gardens.  Why???

I know now.

I discovered that digging in the dirt a bit each day and planting things was a ‘happy’ thing for me.  So, I planted.  I bought a manual tiller and started tilling areas of my lawn and planted Microclover in the lawn.  I planted 2 Moon Flowers plants a friend gave me.

 

I planted a container flower arrangement for the first time in my life.  I loved how it turned out. Pretty good for a newbie.20190727_154325274_ios.jpg

Right before this time, I planted 25 or so Japanese Maple tree seedlings that I pulled from my yard this Spring. Tending to these babies was, and is, a wonderful daily distraction for a few moments each day. Here is a picture of the babies.  I’ll do another post on this later.  (See April 7, 2019 post)

Japanese Maple seedlings
Japanese Maple seedlings. The two trees on the bottom are the parents of these little ones.:)

All that to say, I’m feeling much better and  back on track, finally.  I am eating healthily again (…going to do another post on this process later… doing some changes to better maintain hopefully). I’m sleeping more soundly, and I am dealing better with life issues overall.

Thank God for life!🌺

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How do you regroup when you become overwhelmed?

Do you have a garden to ‘play’ in?

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Love you guys! 😘

Peace and Love to you.

 

Japanese Maple Mama

I can’t believe it. I started growing a bunch of Japanese Maple seedlings that I pulled from my yard a few months ago. [See April 7, 2019 post].  I had high hopes for them but hadn’t a clue what I was doing.

Well, they started in 16-ounce cups, I lost about 3 of them but more than 25 survived to the next level, which was them being moved to 1-gallon nursery pots. There is now way I would have ever imagined loving this process so much.  These little trees have become so much fun to take care of.  Watching them grow and change daily is amazing. I cannot keep 25 trees so I plan to adopt them out when they are ready. If this is a success, who knows…. I might be in the Japanese Maple tree selling business. :).

There were some that I thought would surely die.  They were soooo tiny. I placed them in groups of 3 within the 1-gallon pot. However, a couple weeks later, they were thriving and growing, so I moved them to their own pot. It’s amazing to me. I wouldn’t consider myself as having a ‘green thumb’.  Matter of fact, I had a little talk with all the things growing in my yard when I moved into this house informing them that they will need to become as self-sufficient as possible because I could be of little help to them. They must have heard me because they are doing A-OK for the moment.

I have given these little trees a LOT of attention though, not that they needed it, but I was just interested and curious.

OK, don’t laugh but I decided to name them all so I could tell them apart.  Seriously, they start to look alike after a while.. lol.

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Don’t laugh but here ya go.

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I named them!!!!  lol.

I mostly gave them names that mean ‘strong, victorious, leader, shelter, glorious, beautiful, etc.  They need to live up to their name.  Some of the names were suggestions from friends…. Marla (lol), Ruby, Leif, Maple. 🙂

Aren’t they beautiful??  I think I’ll start an Instagram Page for them. I’ll let you know so you can follow their journey towards adoption.

Peace and love to you!

Jan

 

Hey! Get Back Up… Yes, Again!

I named this blog Vessels and Vittles because I originally planned to write about our ‘vessel’, a word used in the Bible meaning the container that carries the soul; the body, and ‘vittles’, an old slang word which is actually from the word ’victuals’,meaning supplies of food. I figured these two words together would encompass all things related to the human experience in some way… Bodies (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically ) and Food.

In the beginning, many of my posts were about food, dieting, healthy eating, etc. as I was in the midst of a major weight loss period.

Over time, I decided to write more about life experiences…. Because ‘life’ happens, hard times are just a part of life. Everyone seems to be going through hard times… personally, as a family, nation, and in the world.

I recently had an experience that seemed to sum up the troubles of life. I was sitting at my desk working and in the quiet of the morning I heard a sudden, loud, thump. So loud that I wasn’t sure which direction it came from. I got up, looked out the windows all around the house but didn’t see or hear anything else. I went back to working.

A few minutes later, I got a text from a neighbor. It said, “You may have a nasty surprise at your front door.” He went on to say while walking his dog he saw a bird fly full speed into my front door, which is a glass storm door. He said it was moving but it didn’t look good for the little creature.

I actually hesitated before getting up to open the door. Birds are not my favorite beast, though I do love watching them from afar. I eventually opened the door, slowly. And there on the ground sat this little feathered guy (or gal).

I was surprised to see it on its feet; it didn’t move at all, not even as I made a racket to see if it would fly away. I closed the door and went back to work, but not before jokingly texting my neighbor to see if he could send his dog, Quincy, to come get the bird when it finally keeled over. 😂. He texted back, “Sorry, Quincy’s fees are too high. No matter what you can afford, he charges more.” 😂😂

Anyway, an hour or so later, I decided to check out the birdie to see if it had croaked yet. To my surprise, all I saw was this….

I looked around wondering if it has crawled off behind the bushes or something… but no, it was gone!

I was talking to a friend about all of this and she said, “What a word picture. Do you feel like that with the abrupt shocks of life? But like you, that little guy will rest in the light and the love of the Creator [God] and be renewed, revitalized and move on…”

She was so correct!

I was thinking the same thing…. except in my mind, I heard it more like this…, “Sometimes life will kick the S#%@ [Stew] out of you…(I prefer STEW😉), …and you might have to ‘slow your roll’ for a minute and regroup, but you can’t wallow in the mess of life for long, get up, shake out your wings the best you can, and fly off to face the next challenge, because there will be one.

There is a Gospel song called, ‘His Eye Is On The Sparrow’, based on the parable of the Sparrows in the Holy Bible where Jesus says in summary that no sparrow can fall to the ground without our Father God in Heaven knowing it. We are created in his image. If he sees and knows of a wee sparrow, how much more are we to Him? Something to ponder, huh?

Life will slam you sometimes. I am in the midst of some challenging days right now but every morning, and throughout the day I try to remember that there is a God in Heaven to sees, knows, and hears all things concerning me….and concerning you too. He is there for me, having an answer before my problem ever comes to be. For that, I am eternally grateful. That is how I make it through this sometimes sad, painful, lonely, hard, but wonderful life. 🌺

Until the next time.  Love and Peace to you all.  😘

❤️

Spring Is For Renewing

Typically, Fall is my favorite season, but this year Spring Time is winning my heart. This year has felt pretty tough in a lot of ways; strained friendships, sicknesses, unexpected changes…just challenging times. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. A quick glance of my social media accounts proves this. Seems everyone is going through something.

Sometimes, during the tough seasons of life, I do things that are pretty random and different … it relieves stress for me to change things up.

I was looking out my window the other day and saw what seemed hundreds of red leaves on the ground. I thought they were fallen leaves from a nearby Japanese Maple tree. Upon closer inspection I realized they were leaves alright, but not fallen leaves. These were newly sprouted “Baby Trees” 😊. Apparently, all the rain we’ve had caused the seeds from the Japanese Maple to sprout in my yard. Blue skies, sunshine, red maple trees and awakening green grass. I really so love being in the south this time of the year. Everything comes alive so early in the year compared to where I’m from.

Well, I am no gardener by any stretch of the imagination. My home had beautifully established landscaping when I purchased it. So grateful for that. However, when I saw these little sprouts I had one of my random ideas.🤔🙃. The two Japanese Maples in my yard are so gorgeous I wondered if I could grow new trees from these little sprouted seeds.

Y’all….😂😂. Yes, I did. I called the local call-in gardening radio show on Saturday morn. As much as I don’t garden I love listening to this Gardening Show each weekend. This guy named Walter Reeves is like the gardening guru in my area. Anyway, I got on the air easily because I called really early, in case ‘friends’ were listening and recognized me. 😂😂. … “Hey, that sounds like …” 😂😂

Walter  Reeves told me what to do, so I did it.

Japanese Maple seedlings
Japanese Maple seedlings. The two trees on the bottom are the parents of these little ones.:)

I now have 25 cups with Baby Japanese Maple Trees in them. Walter said I’d be watching these a loooong time.  😂  I don’t mind, it’s a distraction from all the “must-do”s in life.

Will they grow? Who knows. 🤷🏽‍♀️.

Was this a random adventure? Sure was.

What will I do if all 25 succeed? Don’t know, but I sure will feel successful in my adventure and some of my friends will be getting a new Japanese Maple tree..haha… or I will sell some to reinvest was in my new Japanese Maple Tree business 😂.

Honestly, it felt good just to get outside in the sunshine, dig in the dirt and have hope for better days and new beginnings….even if it came in the form of planting new baby Japanese Maple trees.

Happy Spring, friends!🌸🌺✌🏽💕

Kinda Keto, But Not Really

More than two years ago, when I lost the majority of my weight, my strategy was to simply reduce calories enough to lose weight…and it worked, for the most part. Once I got closer to my goal weight I stalled, big time.  There was only one thing to do, reduce calories again, but, my strategy stopped working.  😩

I increased exercise, which in turn increased my appetite, which made me eat more and gain weight. So frustrating. All the while, I was hearing about the KETO craze, that it was similar to the Atkins Diet, which meant low carb. A friend reached out to me and tried to share info, but I had no interest because I had a plan that mostly worked.

After stalling for a while, I got tired. I started eating a bit more, exercising less, gained 10 lbs and totally quit logging. I was down to about 1000-1200 calories oer day.  WAY TO LOW. I felt fine, got tired easily, but was frustrated by the stall. I did notice 2 things though; I was very soft, and I did not feel strong. Lifting things that should have not felt heavy, were. My conclusion, I’d lost a LOT of muscle mass. No bueno. I needed a new strategy.

My goals were the same; be healthy, eat clean foods, be strong, not let food control me, and I really got tired of “logging” my food. 🙄

Sooooo, I joined a KETO page on Facebook just to sorta stalk it and see what these KETOers were all about. Now, I am not much of a meat eater, however, I remembered while losing weight, the weeks when I ate more chicken or beef, I lost more pounds. Hmmmm….

Long story short, (too late, I know🙃), I tried KETO, kinda. I just wasn’t that strict about it. I up’d proteins and kept up my veggie eating, but reduced carbs to minimal per day, and I increased my fats (that is HARD TO DO after decades of hearing “watch your fat intake” 🤯).  I didn’t measure a thing. End of the week down almost 2 lbs. 🤷🏽‍♀️  What I noticed is, I was not hungry AT ALL. Matter of fact, I felt I had surely gained because I felt so full, or I should say, satiated all the time. I had energy so I exercised more. Go figure, there must be something to it. I’m going to try it again this week in my Kinda Keto way to see if this past week was just a fluke. I’d like to lose another 15 lbs bit I’m not stressing about it. I have more muscle mass and feel good so what more can I ask.

Anyway, thought I’d share some of the protein options I made in my Ninja Air Fryer. Love this thing!

chicken drumsticks
Air Fryer Chicken Drumsicks

Air Fryer Meatballs
Air Fryer Meatballs

Air Fryer Chicken Wings
Air Fryer Chicken Wings

I also cook veggies in the Air Fryer sometimes. Works pretty good too!

 

 

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Air-Fryer Asparagus

Well, that’s all folks! I’ll let you know what happens with my Kinda Keto plan. 🤗👍🏽

Peace!

 

This Rollercoaster Ride Called… Eating Right

The struggle is so very real, people…. but that’s OK…. I’m not alone.

A couple of years ago when I was in the midst of my major weight loss, I started hearing about KETO eating. If you haven’t heard of it yet, never fear, you will when you return to this planet. 😒  I looked into it but I haven’t jumped into it …yet. It seems everyone is trying KETO now,  but it must not be user-friendly because I’m seeing more about Dirty Keto… or what I like to call it, Cheap and Easy Keto.

I’m also noticing an increase in talk about ‘fasting’, specifically, Intermittent Fasting.  I might try this at some point, just because it seems more natural and beneficial to the body.

Seems everyone is trying to figure out how to lose weight and keep it off. Like I said, the struggle is REAL! I’m a witness.  I lost 57 lbs a couple of years ago, but gained about 14 lbs and have been holding steady since.  I’m not to concerned because I realized at 57 lbs that I was lighter but I didn’t feel strong.  I think I lost a lot of muscle tone, and was earing too few calories. I read recently that when you eat low-calorie for a while your body gets used to living on that low amount.  When I increased my calories to around 1500 to 1700 per day I gained about 5 lbs. Then, because I felt weak, I started walking a lot and doing High Impact Interval Training exercises and sure enough gained more….but the curious thing is my clothes felt the same and loser in some cases🤷🏽‍♀️.

I guess it is true that muscle weighs more but takes up less space.  That’s a hard concept to accept when you are addicted to the scales like I am. I’m trying to change my ‘scales’ ways. 😣 However, I do feel so much stronger in my core and overall. So, now I’m just trying to stay on a good eating path.

It’s a rainy, rainy day on this Sunday afternoon.  I was invited to a Southern Buffet restaurant after church…. so tempted to do it but I had already planned to do some meal prep. I went shopping yesterday and bought some goodies…

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  1. Cucumbers, Yellow, Red, and Orange peppers are my go-to foods.  I’ve blogged about them in previous posts.  I just cut them and put them in jars.  They are a great snack for me. I either eat them plain, or sprinkle them with a little rice vinegar.
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Keeping my food in jars seems to extend the life of them. I don’t have to eat them all in 2 days.

2. Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts, I tried it!  Wow!  This is a keeper. I love my Air Fryer but never have I tried veggies in it. So, easy…tossed the Brussel sprouts (Premee cabbages as a young friend calls them, 😒🤣) in a tad bit of oil, Himalayan Salt, and garlic powder and put in my Air Fryer on 375 for about 12 minutes. YUM! They were so delicious. I know they look burnt but they are just roasted.  I bet adding a little brown sugar and some bacon bits would make this instantly ‘gourmet’…I almost did it but remembered my new healthy eating ways.

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3. Asparagus… you either like it or not.  I love it, stinky pee and all.  I actually saw a post somewhere recently that asparagus is a major cancer fighter.  I meed to research this though.  I usually eat it most when it is on sale and it’s been on sale so 3rd week in a row I’ve made it but this time I pur it in the Air Fryer to try. Boy! Good results again…just 6 minutes in and it’s done  👍🏽

4. Chicken Thighs. Nope, I’m not a vegetarian or vegan or anything, I just eat little meat naturally.  I need protein to lose weight I learned, plus it helps keep my hunger in control. Since I was Air Frying, I put these in last; same seasonings.  Also, I found 2 small Filet Mignon steaks in the back of my freezer from an Omaha steak gift pack I received…last of the beef goodies.  Put those in the Air Fryer too.

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This chicken was so juicy and delicious! I just sampled what I cooked because it’s for the upcoming week, of course.  So, now I have no excuse for not eating healthy this week. I’ve got all these goodies plus a bin of apples.

Fortunately, everything I cook has to be eaten only by “me”…not sure anyone else would enjoy my kitchen science experiments…I’m not much of a foodie though; I just don’t want to feel hungry, so… let’s see if I can have a good week of eating healthy food. Hope you do too!  ✌🏽😎

Peace and Love!😘

Jan

“…May the peace of God guard your hearts and mind (thoughts) through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:7❤️

Why’d I Paint These Babies?

Art is everything.  What I mean is, some form of artistry exists in all things. Look around your world: houses, clothes, vehicles, appliances, tools, etc. … all involve creative skill in their creation. Our entire planet and universe is an artistic, mathematical creation as well. I believe God created us in his image therefore some form of creativity is inherently within us. History verifies this by the immense volumes of artistic expression blanketing our world.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve always loved art, but didn’t discover my artistic ability until later in life. As a portrait artist, I love watching life come to a drawing or painting as I add or remove whatever medium I use; that just gets me right in my soul, which is probably why portraits are what I’m best at.  My efforts at flowers, landscapes, etc., are poor to mediocre at best in my opinion.

It has been about 5 years since I’ve started drawing portraits professionally (See my artwork). I’ve been thinking about how I should use this God-given gift; I say this because I still can’t explain how I do what I do.  I’ve been blessed with getting commissioned work early on and love seeing the reactions of people who see the finished product, but I started to feel I wanted my work to serve an additional, more directed purpose.  What though?

Well, I think I found out.

Women cheering new abortion laws?? Huh? I didn’t physically see or hear this because I don’t have cable and might catch the news a couple of times per week when my antenna behaves, but I recently heard on the radio how women were cheering at the passing of a law in a State in our country  allowing for babies to be aborted after the 24-week mark to protect the mother’s health or in cases where the fetus won’t survive. OK.😶😕.

My goal is not to be political here. However, when I heard this, I was a bit stunned because a light shone brighter on the devaluing of life; obviously the life of the child, but also the life and well-being of the mother who might suffer the emotional scars of seeing/experiencing the death of her very alive child if aborted near the due date. Death, murder, abortion of innocent life can’t possibly be as clean and simple as our laws want to make it appear.

Photo by Teresa Howes on Pexels.com

I say all this as bystander of sorts, a guilty-feeling bystander, honestly.  

What have I done about it?  Not much. I’ve neither counseled a woman figuring out the next steps of an unexpected pregnancy, nor comforted a grieving woman who has walked out of a clinic without her baby. Matter of fact, I’ve never been pregnant, haven’t any nieces or nephews, and am rarely ever around children, so I often feel I don’t have the ‘street-cred’ to say or do much regarding this issue, really. Yes, I can pray for all the above, and I do, but I feel still helpless, and I hate that.

As all these things have been rambling about my head and heart in past weeks I’ve slowly had the evolution of how I can make an impact. It might seem small and insignificant to most but in doing so I hope to make a difference in the heavens at least, and in the hearts of all who see my work as a source of healing and hope.

What can I do? I can honor babies, and support their little lives. I’ve decided to focus my portrait work on “babies and children” for the next little while, in addition to other portraits. True, I’m not a mother but somehow these paintings feel like a representation of all the children I never had. In a world where children seem to be a target both ‘ in the womb’ AND ‘out of the womb’, I want to honor children through my portraiture work. I don’t know how this will evolve; as a matter of fact, children, especially babies are the most difficult to paint for me because although they have no/little hair, no teeth, and no wrinkles, the slightest wrong turn and I’m looking at E.T. on my canvas. 😕… trusting that the same God who has guided my art journey thus far will continue as I move forward with this purpose in mind.

So, in a nutshell, why did I paint these babies? Because I want to support and honor the life of these innocent ones. 👼🏻👼🏼👼🏼👼🏽👼🏾👼🏿 You know what, I can attempt that in my art. 💕

I call these two my “starter” babies. Although not the first babies I’ve drawn, they will always be remembered as my first attempts after this new purpose. The artistry might not be on point yet, but I fully expect to get better and better with each one….expressing all that is alive and well in the life of a baby from conception. So, off I go🙏🏼. Pencils and paints in hand, trying to make a difference in our world.

How are you making a difference? 😊

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”     Psalm 139:13-16

 

Love y’all!❤️