Thursday, July 28, 2011

Getting there ...

Ten months ago I wouldn't be caught dead posting a picture like this. I absolutely hated having my picture taken. In fact, there's a huge gap in photos of me over the past 10 years -- just call me Phantom Mom. It was much easier being the one behind the camera instead of in front of it. This picture on the left was probably taken around 2009 or maybe early 2010. When I was photographed, I'd cringe. On a positive note, being overweight and avoiding being photographed did spur my interest in photography. I suppose there's a silver lining to just about everything. Sometimes you just have to squint to see it.

I started a low-carb eating plan on October 1, 2010 and have lost 68 pounds since then. I'm also exercising regularly and enjoying it, which is kind of freaky. I never enjoyed exercising as an adult. I loved being outside and doing things like hiking, kayaking, and bike riding, but I didn't like exercising for fitness. I do now. Yesterday I was in Target looking at ankle weights and exercise mats. Yeah, me -- bizarre. A few people have said I've inspired them to lose weight, exercise, or get healthier. That's really cool. I never see myself as an inspiration to anyone, so it's wild to hear someone say that.

I have 6 more pounds to be at my goal weight. Several people have said it doesn't look like I have 6 more pounds to lose, but I still want to reach it to give myself a little leeway. The numbers on the scale haven't been moving as fast lately, but that's common with the last 5-10 pounds. Hopefully, I will get there sometime in the near future. For the first time in over 12 years, I'm starting to feel more like myself. Unlike a year ago, I don't have the urge to snatch cameras out of anyone's hands or threaten to kill them if they post my picture on Facebook. That's a good feeling. Even more, it's awesome to have someone tell me I've inspired them to either lose weight, start exercising, or just take their health more seriously. That's the best of all.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Little Golden Book of Hymns

About a week ago I blogged about not liking cover changes in books that are re-released by the publisher. Click here to read the post. Last night I decided to type a list of all the Little Golden Books in my collection. It turns out I have 106 of them, but that doesn't include some I know we have packed away in Christmas boxes. As I was writing the titles down, I discovered I had two copies of The Little Golden Book of Hymns, although both are very different.

The original 1947 version, shown on the left, was the one I found at the Salvation Army yesterday. The version on the right is from 1985 and I'm pretty sure I found it at the same place awhile back. As you can see, the covers are extremely different and I was curious how much the inside had been changed. Obviously, the illustrations give each book their own feel because they were done by different people. Corinne Malvern illustrated the 1947 edition and her name is shown on the front cover on the lower right. Frances Score Mitchell did the 1985 version, but there is no reference to her on the cover. The illustrations in the original are brilliant. There's no comparison to the newer version. On the title page of the 1947 version it says, "Collected by Elsa Jane Werner" and on the 1985 version it says, "Compiled by Elsa Jane Werner and E.D. Ebsun."

So, not only did they get a new illustrator, but they added a new person to compile a new list of hymns. I was very surprised to see how much the inside changed as well. There are 25 hymns in the 1947 version. In the 1985 version, only 7 of those original hymns made the re-release. They added 6 new ones that weren't in the original, making a total of 13 hymns in the newer book. What a shame. Perhaps they were trying to cut down on pages. The original version has 42 pages and the newer one has 24. Sadly, they cut out some really great, old hymns for the newer version. I'm sure there's a lot more to this than I know about -- perhaps since technology has changed so much that they weren't able to reproduce the first edition of the book because of some issue with the original artwork. Or perhaps they felt some hymns were more modern and went better with the updated illustrations. It's so hard to tell. I haven't been able to find any updated versions that are more recent. However, it makes me wonder what they would leave out or add if they ever did one. It's kind of sad, if you ask me.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Catch of the Day ...

This is my newest catch from our local Salvation Army. The Hymns book is a first edition from 1947. I looked it up on Amazon and found first editions running anywhere from $5 to $99. I paid a dime for this copy -- amazing! Prior to visiting the Salvation Army, we decided to check out a new Goodwill that opened up. I was surprised to find them asking $1.99 and up for books. There was no way I'd pay that when I can find them for a dime from the Salvation Army, not unless it's something I really, really want. Hardcovers and adult books are a quarter, but the smaller picture books are only a dime. And when I find treasures like first editions from the 1940s -- well -- you just can't beat that.

I did find a microwavable omelet pan at the Goodwill for 29-cents. I'm planning on using it for a low-carb bread recipe I make quite often. I saw the same exact pan at the Salvation Army for a whopping 75-cents, so I lucked out on that. Neil found a book on Halloween magic tricks and has been practicing them non-stop since we got home. Best 10-cents I spent all day! I also found a softcover copy of Runaway Bunny for a dime. We didn't have that one, so I couldn't resist. So, while everyone else was scrounging for deals over at our closing Borders store, I bought FIFTEEN books at the Salvation Army for $1.50! Not too shabby, if you ask me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Orange Creamsicle

It's been hot here lately, which always makes me crave ice cream and other cold treats. There are low-carb ice creams, but lately I've been making this shake and it tastes just like a Creamsicle. The one pictured here is about 33 calories, believe it or not. And that's only because I added the whipped cream so it would look pretty for the picture. On average, the ones I make are only 18 calories. Yeah ... eighteen calories! How can that be?


1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (18 calories)

1/2 cup water

1 packet orange-mango Lipton On-The-Go

1 packet sweetener (I use Truvia)

crushed ice (I use a tumbler full)

Put it all in a blender and blend until smooth. That's it! If you prefer, you can use regular milk instead of almond milk. I only drink almond milk now because it has no carbs. And to make it creamier, you can use a full cup of milk. I use a half just to cut down on the calories. The orange-mango is awesome, but you could use any of the other flavor mixes. These are great on hot days and even better because they're low-carb and low-calorie. I suppose you could even make it zero calories if you used only water. I've done that and it's a simple orange slush-like drink.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I don't like cover changes ...

I found this book at the Salvation Army the other day. Whenever I go there, the first thing I do is scour the kid's books for Little Golden Books. Every now and then I find a classic or a really old one to add to my collection. The image here isn't of the actual book I bought. I got this picture online, but mine is basically the same. My copy has more of a yellowish-brown background, rather than the blue shade on this one. And mine doesn't have those numbers on the upper-right corner -- mine lists 39-cents as the price. Considering I paid a dime for my copy, I think I could a pretty good deal.

The Friendly Book was written in 1954 by Margaret Wise Brown and originally published by the Western Publishing Company. My copy is a fourth edition by Little Golden Books, published in 1974. It was illustrated by Garth Williams, who also illustrated such classics as Charlotte's Web, Stewart Little, and the Little House books.

What is interesting is that it's due to be re-released in January 2012 as a LGB Classic. If you look at the listing on Amazon here, you'll notice some changes on the cover. These were brought to my attention by someone who gave this book a 1-star review because of the changes. The person mentioned the toy car was missing on the new cover and that the lines were spikier and the characters looked more cartoonish. It's true. Not only did they remove the toy car, but they added the two mice on the bottom left. There's also some sort of bug on the bottom right that's not on the cover of the copy I have. Garth Williams died in 1996. I don't know if this was another rendition of his original work, or if another illustrator has changed it for Little Golden Books Classics.

The person that gave it 1-star also said it makes you wonder how much of the inside illustrations have been changed. I guess I'll have to look for it in January when it comes out because now I'm really curious. To be honest, I don't like it when they change covers like this. I know they do it for most books to make them look more appealing and modern, but it just doesn't seem right. A good example is Ramona the Pest. They've changed that cover so many times, but none of them fit the book like the original because the story was set so long ago. Click here to see the version I read as a kid. To ME, this is what this book should look like, which is funny because this was the 6th edition and printed in 1975. I think the original came out in 1968 and I have no idea what the original looked like. But you know me -- I'm going to search until I find out.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Little Schoolhouse

I found this book at the Salvation Army today. It was written by Crosby Newell, illustrated by Kathellen Elgin, and published in 1958 by Wonder Books, a division of Grosset & Dunlap. What caught my eye first was that it was so old. It also has the illustrating style of the old Dick & Jane books, so that got my attention as well. The fact that it cost me ten cents was simply too good to pass up.

I didn't even read it until I got home. I like old books like this, so the story wasn't as important to me as the book itself. Apparently, it's taken from an old television show of the same name that was on in the 1950s. The story is is mostly about the children in the school, what they do each day, having good manners, being polite, storytime in the classroom, even special visitors that come to school to talk about their jobs -- policemen, postlmen, the milkman, etc.

In other words, the book is extremely outdated, which is the reason it's so awesome. It is in really good shape, although it has a musky scent to it. Even so, the little space for children to write their name on the front cover is still blank. There's only a little wear on the cover, as you can see, but the rest of the book is in perfect condition. You certainly can't beat that for a DIME, especially when the book cost 39-cents brand new in 1958!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A New Friend for Dilly

Some of you might be wondering what's up with my little, pickle-loving rat, Dilly. The second book, A New Friend for Dilly was due to be released on July 1st, but we had some set-backs and had to change illustrators. Ginger Nielson is now illustrating Dilly and is in the process of working on the second book. I've heard she's really enjoying it and from what I've seen so far, her illustrations are going to be awesome. I was sorry to see Dilly's original illustrator Lisa Oakman go, but I'm sure Ginger will do a fantastic job with our lovable, little rat. Above is a picture of the new cover by Ginger. I'll be making a new book trailer as well. So, even though we've had some delays, Dilly will be making his come back eventually -- and with a friend!

Ginger Nielson has also taken over illustrating my Critter Series and has finished the third book, Pony Strings & Critter Things. I'm not sure on a release date yet, but I believe it will be out before Dilly. I'll let you know when I have more information. Ginger has been a real lifesaver for me. I appreciate her hard work, her willingness to take on these projects at the last moment, and her wonderful creativity in bringing my books and characters to life. Thank you so very much, Ginger!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Butt Pillow

I guess you might not be as excited about a pillow for your butt as I am, but I'm happy this arrived today. Ever since I've lost weight, I've been having a lot of pain in my tailbone, or coccyx. Everyone joked that I had lost all my padding back there. It was funny at first, but the pain has been getting pretty nasty. It's really bad if I lean back on something hard, like the bathtub or sit on a bench. When I try to do sit-ups on the floor, sometimes it feels like the bone is going to snap in half. Not fun -- nope, not fun at

I did some research online for coccyx cushions. Talk about making things even more confusing. No matter which pillow I looked at, there were people posting how it was the best one they'd ever tried and others saying it was the worst one. Since these pillows range anywhere from $20 to $60, I didn't know which one to get. So, I decided to go with the good, ol' stand-by -- AS SEEN ON TV! It was only $20 and one of the cheapest I could find. I figured I'd start there. I didn't want to spend $50 on a pillow for my butt and have it not make a difference. So, here I am, sitting on my AS SEEN ON TV butt pillow. So far ... so good. Let's hope it helps.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday in the Park

We spent the day in Glacier National Park today. We went to the picnic area of Fish Creek and paddled out to our favorite little beach area. The water is really high right now, so there wasn't as much beach as usual, but it was still really nice. Talk about a perfect day -- not too hot, not too cold, and not too windy. There was hardly anyone around, other than the hum of a boat going by every now and then. Rick and the boys did some fishing. Rick actually caught one, but it slipped out of his hands right as he was going to hold it up for a picture. Boy, was he mad! The boys had a blast skipping rocks, floating on logs, playing with their water shooters, and so forth. Didn't see much wildlife other than some birds, a weird looking green bug (on the flower below), a chipmunk, and of course, Rick's fleeting fish. Beautiful, beautiful day! Here are a few pictures I took, although we never left our little beach and stayed just in this one area.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Carla's Cloud Catastrophe

It was just two hours before her birthday party. Carla was on her way home with her delicious coconut cake when suddenly disaster struck. The clouds fell from the sky! White, puffy clouds were everywhere -- on people's heads, scattered on the ground, plugging up chimneys, clogging the bookdrop at the library, in the playground, even on the animals at the pond! Fortunately, Carla's father works for the Department of Transportation and is called to a meeting to see what can be done about the cumulus crisis. The adults seem to have some pretty good ideas, but will they work or will they just create more problems? Perhaps Carla's imagination can save the town -- and her party, too!

Carla's Cloud Catastrophe is a delightful picture book written by Beth Bence Reinke. What I loved was how it allows kids (and big kids like me!) to think of other solutions to get rid of the clouds. With beautiful illustrations by Ginger Nielson, the story comes to life with vibrant colors and images. It's nearly impossible not to think of yummy things like ice cream, popcorn, marshmallows, mashed potatoes, and whipped cream. No wonder I was hungry after reading this book! Carla's Cloud Catastrophe can be purchased directly at 4RV Publishing, LLC or through any local bookseller. It would make a lovely addition to any classroom, library, or children's book collection. Check out the adorable book trailer ...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

I hope you all have a happy and safe 4th of July! This is Neil, taken last year on the 4th at the Bigfork parade. We're going there again tomorrow, so maybe I'll find something interesting to take pictures of. Then we're coming back home and relaxing -- cooking tri-tip on the grill and just enjoying the awesome weather. Be safe, everyone!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Precious ...

Isn't this baby fawn just the cutest thing? I took this picture yesterday while standing on my deck. I had been watching a couple of white-tailed deer in the yard. The fawn was curious and walked closer to the house. It was interesting to hear the mother communicating for it to come back. She made sort of a grunting noise. The fawn wasn't paying attention and finally the doe came down and stood between me and her baby. Then she corralled the baby back up the hill. They're just so adorable at this age. Here are some cool facts about fawns ...

  • A baby deer is called a fawn.

  • They're born with spots, but lose them by their first summer.

  • By winter, a fawn weighs 44 to 77 pounds.

  • Fawns make a high-pitched squeal sound called bleating.

  • Male fawns tend to be bigger and heavier than females.

  • For the first month, fawns lie still and hide while the mother eats.

  • Fawns are weaned after 8 to 10 weeks.

  • Males leave their mother after one year.

  • Females leave their mother after two years.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Good Evening Grosbeak!

I took this photograph yesterday with Rick's camera. It's old, but has an awesome zoom lens, which was great because this bird was way up on a tree in the backyard. This is a male Evening Grosbeak. These birds have been hanging around our property and are pretty much regulars every spring and summer. The females and chicks aren't nearly as colorful as the males, but that's usually the case with birds.

Evening Grosbeaks make a sharp, piercing sound. If you'd like to hear what they sound like, click here. It's funny because they seem like really social birds. When one lands in the feeder, he or she chirps to call the others. And if there's a whole bunch of them in the feeder, they talk to each other as they eat. A few weeks ago I saw a big, fat, fluffy one that was being fed by a male that looked just like the one in this picture. It always cracks me up how big and doofy the chicks look. I've been seeing more chicks, but they seem to be eating on their own now.

Speaking of the feeder, it's outside on the lawn turned upside down. I got distracted writing last night and hadn't brought it in when a black bear jumped on the deck and knocked it off. She ripped the screws out of the holder and everything, so now I can't hang it up. I need to go get it. We didn't want to do it in the dark last night with bearzilla creeping around.