Thursday, April 27, 2017

Warren's Wooden Soldiers

If things are going right in my world -- Thursday is WARREN DAY at my house. He sleeps here on Wednesday, and every Thursday we spend the day playing and exploring the world together.
Warren Day has always been a favorite part of Frankie's life.
After Fat Camp, I started walking on my treadmill again...
Of course, at four years old, Warren has to be WITHIN MY EYESIGHT at all times.
So, I have a very special box of wooden toy soldiers that he plays with on the steps.
As I'm walking, Warren is marching his little army of hand-carved soldiers...
There are dozens of soldiers, painted three or four different colors. The box holds bagpipe players, horses, cannons, little is a huge, complete collection that somebody painstakingly made.
Warren doesn't have the game of war in him, tho. His whole deal is TRAINS...and he lines everything up, as though it was a train. Any kind of toy gets lined up...little plastic people, legos, blocks, cars, animals...
Years ago, I bought this huge collection of hand-carved wooden toys at an auction for $15. Warren wasn't even born yet -- but I thought it was sad that somebody did ALL THAT WORK -- and it was about to be sold for next to nothing.

Oh, yeah.  Treasure, eh?  In more ways than one...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Our Birthday Month

March is the Farro Women Birthday Month. Lilly is March 9th, Emily is March 22, and mine is March 29. So we keep busy making chocolate cake with peanut butter icing!!
Lilly is getting pretty good at making her own birthday cake. Obviously, Warren is a big help...
She set the table in preparation for her BIRTHDAY STEAK..!!
The card played music -- and it was ALL ABOUT our upcoming trip to NYC.
The kids helped me hang out some sheets...then, ran back and forth, and made a tent...
Lilly was having her Spider-man themed birthday party at the Princeton community center. The day before the party, she said, "Mom tried to hire a girl who does face painting, but she was busy."

She seemed so disappointed, before I knew it, these words were coming out of my mouth, "I could paint faces, hon. Let's go to Michael's to buy some paint."

I mean -- how hard can it be to paint children's faces? The paint we bought had an idea sheet, with the example for Spider man that looked pretty simple...we bought some extra red paint...

(an internet picture of what the example looked like)

How hard can it be to paint some red Spider man masks? Simple, right?

Except that when the kids came to sit down at my Face Painting table, they took one look at the example sheet -- and they thought they could pick ANY DESIGN FOR ME TO PAINT ON THEIR FACE...

WHA?? I don't think so, little peeps...

My first customer was my great-nephew, 6 year old Oliver. He was looking at the design sheet, when I told him he had to be Spiderman. Although he was disappointed, he went along with my plan...

Then, the next customer was a little girl from Lilly's class.  She picked out a puppy face...and when I was about to insist on Spiderman -- I realized the puppy face was WAY EASIER TO DO...a few spots, and a circle around her eye...

WHAT WAS I THINKING??  To hell with Spiderman!!

I loved the puppy face...and the girls all liked the Butterfly designs.
But, using the face paint, it was very time consuming to make a fine I decided to resort to the "washable"markers.
I mean, the black outlining makes the whole difference. And washable means it will wash right off - right??
As it turns out -- washable means "at some point, if you use the right soap, and rub hard enough"...

For my own birthday, imagine my surprise when I got a GIANT BOX OF FLOWERS delivered...!!
Tulips and irises!! Always my favorites. THANKS, MARION!! It was a shock.
Our Birthday month was TOTALLY PERFECT. Lilly was delighted with the face painting at her party. Although -- even SHE didn't pick Spiderman!! (she had black butterfly lines on her face for 3 days). Poor Oliver was my only red Spiderman mask.

We ate our fill of chocolate cake with peanut butter icing...Lilly enjoyed her annual Porterhouse steak...WE WENT TO NEW YORK CITY...and my flowers lasted for almost two weeks.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Little Mermaid

Our local high school always does a spring musical, and this year, I was delighted to see they were presenting, "The Little Mermaid". Of course, the best part is getting Lilly and Warren  ramped up for the performance. We went to the library to rent the movie so Warren would get the gist of the story. (Lilly loved this movie when she was 4 years old, and she remembers every word of every song.)

They rented the costumes from a company in St. Louis -- and they were spectacular! Although, we were told in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS NO PHOTOGRAPHY -- take my word for it -- the Mermaid outfits were beautiful, and the cast was terrific.

Now a junior in high school, our very own Keegan Harry, from Princeton, was Prince Eric -- and his voice is incredible. We all believe that young man is headed to Broadway.

The best thing about a high school performance is the reasonable ticket prices. It only cost $22 for the three of us to get into the play. And, for a measly $5 extra (per kid) they each got a blue plastic trident (like a sword, with three prongs) that lit up!! During two of the songs, the youngsters were encouraged to dance in the aisle with their blinking tridents.

Everything I said is absolutely true.  So -- where is the hook in this perfect bowl of shrimp? I mean, nobody does kid stuff better than Disney -- right??

I dunno...

After attending The Little Mermaid -- I left there thinking Lilly and I had to have a serious talk.  Because the message was really kinda awful....

Here's the story (in a seashell):

Ariel is a mermaid, with a beautiful singing voice, a loving father and five sisters. In the first scene of the play, she fails to show up at a huge performance where she is the featured singer.

She is not content with her Mermaid life -- she wants to be a human.

After seeing the Prince from a distance, she falls in love with him (because he was SO HANDSOME, of course).

Ariel makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula. In exchange for her voice, she gets three days with legs. IF the handsome prince kisses her at the end of the three days, Ariel will remain a human.

Knowing this will be difficult (with no voice), Ursula tells her to use her beauty -- and her body language...

(do you see my issue?)

There ensues a lot of back-and-forth...Eric falls in love with the beautiful, mute Ariel; the evil Ursula is killed; Ariel's voice is restored and her father gives in to her desire to become a human. Ariel and Eric marry and sail off on a ship to live happily ever after.

SO -- to sum it up: The heroine of this story is NOT HAPPY with her body. She refuses to listen to her father, and even fails to show up at a performance where she is the star. She falls in love with a man just because he is handsome. Despite the fact that they never have even one worthwhile conversation -- he is smitten by her beauty and "body language"...and, at the end of the story, she gets everything she wants.

And, of course, the evil sea witch -- Ursula -- is FAT!!

So, I guess I'm gonna go on record as THE ONLY GRANDMA IN AMERICA who has a problem with The Little Mermaid.

Really. And then we wonder why our little girls have body image problems??

Monday, April 24, 2017

Aurora Featherweight

So -- here's the little ad Mary put in the local "Shopper" newspaper:


Rita Farro LOVES HER SINGER FEATHERWEIGHT. (She attended a three-day workshop, put on by the famous Singer people -- and now she thinks she's an expert!!)

Bring your Singer Featherweight sewing machine to the First Annual Aurora Featherweight Workshop and she will share everything she learned. Including:

  • How to remove the old dry, lube from your Featherweight motor.
  • You will add NEW, FRESH lube to your motor.
  • How to adjust the belt, if your machine is sluggish.
  • When and where to properly oil your Featherweight.
  • Troubleshoot the most common problems.

You'll also receive a photocopy of an original booklet, with complete instructions about the care and maintenance of your Featherweight. The booklet also describes those six standard attachments that came with your machine.

You will be stunned by the beauty of the narrow hemmer -- and if we have time, you'll learn how to use your ruffler!! Nobody ever improved on this original design.



How did this happen? Well, Mary has a Featherweight, and it's about time for it to be oiled and lubed again...
And Mary's friend Nancy -- who DOESN'T ACTUALLY OWN A FEATHERWEIGHT -- put a lot of pressure on us to do a "workshop" in Aurora.  And her friend Linda DID recently buy -- hey -- WHY NOT??
We also showed Mary's finished "t-shirt quilt" -- using the ragged edge flannel technique...
We set up in a lovely big room at Mary's church...we used Mary's Featherweight as our "demo model"
Then, the women went to their own machines to do the actual cleaning, lube, etc.
At some point, it dawned on me that I was actually in WAY OVER MY HEAD...
I didn't get a good group picture -- but THEY DID GREAT!!
At the end of our half-day workshop, everybody plugged in their Featherweight, (I CROSSED MY FINGERS) -- AND THEY RAN PERFECTLY. Wow. I was thrilled. Thanks to Carmon and April Henry -- the REAL DEAL -- I knew just enough to help my students clean, oil and lube their Featherweight sewing machines.

 If you need any help with your Featherweight, go here...great tutorials, excellent advice, and they sell lots of parts, bobbins, etc: The Singer Featherweight Shop

MMWI:  249.6.  My body is very happy right now -- so it's enjoying this little plateau.  This week, the bad habit I'm gonna work on is NO SNACKING after 8:00 PM.    

Saturday, April 22, 2017

My Aurora Visit

The week after I got home from New York City, I made a quick trip up to Aurora, Minnesota to visit with Mary.
This is what greets you at the Hibbing, Minnesota airport.
A LOT of taxidermy...
A wall with 17 famous people (only one woman -- do you see her?)
My favorite!! The moose head is sticking out of a painted mural. 
I love a building and/or institution with a sense of humor.
We had a delicious pasty for lunch...
And breakfast with Mary's Aurora version of the TMBC...
A rare photo of Mary driving.
We did some GREAT shopping at the hospital thrift store, and an antique mall. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE TREASURE..!!
But, there was an ACTUAL REASON for me to be in Aurora...and you will NEVER GUESS what we were doing!!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fat Camp Update

When I posted my two Frankensewing pictures the other day, I didn't realize they would strike everybody as my "before" and "after" photos from Fat Camp.
Many of you have written to ask what was my key to my weight-loss success.

Hey...if I knew the answer to that question, I'D BE RICH!!

Back in 2009, I saw a picture of myself at Elliott and Emily's wedding. I weighed 325 pounds and looked terrible. OH MY GOD, I was fat. I never wore that outfit again -- and that photo caused a click in my brain.  Over the next two years, I lost nearly 100 pounds.

But this time around is different. There was no one click in my brain... I just got lucky.

Really. I unexpectedly had the chance to go to Fat Camp -- I was in a position to say yes -- AND I DID!!

Weight has been my lifelong battle. I wrote the book, remember? LIFE IS NOT A DRESS SIZE...and I have always tried to make my life about something more important than how much I weigh. Which is why I have been reluctant to blog about "my weight loss journey".

The irony, of course, is that as much as I say I don't want to be defined by my weight -- I absolutely know I will have a better life -- and a much LONGER life if I can lose weight.

So, if anything I've done might inspire somebody out there to make some changes, I've decided to blog about it...a and then...


One thing I want to say is that there is no one "KEY" to success. What works for me may not work for you. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to go to Fat Camp when I did. It changed my life. But, when I break it down...these three big things are actually three simple little things.

It's about outlook and habit...

1. I STOPPED WORRYING ABOUT FOOD. Before Fat Camp, I spent an inordinate amount of time every single day worrying about shopping, cooking, and planning what I would eat, what John would eat, whether or not we'd be going out for a meal... how to use the leftovers...yada yada.

Having a little Styrofoam box delivered to my room three times a day, at the right time, and in the proper proportions, was LIFE CHANGING. I learned that I didn't have to love everything I is just's not my happiness. A $2.50 Healthy Choice frozen entree is fine with me. If I'm lucky enough to go out to lunch with friends, I take half of it home for supper. If I feel like dessert -- my friends are happy to share it with me, and I am thrilled with just a few bites.

2. I DON'T SKIP MEALS. Ever. One of the biggest mistakes I've made in my life was skipping meals...thinking that if I was NOT eating those calories, I was doing good. But, now I understand that I shut down my metabolism. NOW -- I NEVER SKIP MEALS. I get it...I really get it...

Eating at regular times has become part of my job. I eat breakfast by 8:30. I love breakfast!! It can be cereal, eggs, oatmeal, yogurt or fruit. I eat lunch by 1:00, and supper before 7:00.

3. I QUIT SITTING IN MY CHAIR. Before Fat Camp, I was sitting in my chair 10 or 12 hours a day. SITTING IS THE NEW SMOKING. I joined the YMCA, I go to Swimfit classes 4 or 5 times a week, I get on my treadmill, I take the kids to the park, I clean the basement, I walk around whenever I can...if I'm at the grocery store, in the parking lot, or at a thrift store -- I take the LONG WAY around. And then I do it one more time, just for good measure.


When I arrived at Fat Camp, Conn (my trainer) told me I was not the oldest client he ever had, nor was I the fattest client he ever had...But, at 67 years old, and nearly 300 pounds, I was definitely at the top of his list, "Least Likely To Succeed."

Yet -- here I am. Still doing it...making different choices, every single day, feeling better, and losing weight...bit by little bit. I am THRILLED to be able to take Lilly to New York City, and walk for miles, climb the subway steps and not worry about looking for a bench because I need to sit down. (good thing, because THERE ARE NO BENCHES in the Big Apple.)

Here's the big thing. I AM GRATEFUL. Grateful to be able to make these choices. I don't beat myself up about how I got this fat. It took a long time to gain the weight, and it will take a long time to lose it. That's okay with me. But I don't worry one bit about hitting a certain goal, or losing "X" amount of weight. No matter how much I weigh, I'm going to make the most out of EACH day I'm given...

Because I know LIFE IS NOT A DRESS SIZE...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sewing Weekend, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin!!

TIME TO MAKE YOUR TRAVEL PLANS for Beaver Dam, Wisconsin!!

MARY AND I have been invited to present our ALL NEW MIDWEST YA YA SISTER SHOW at the Nancy's 2017 Sewing Weekend in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. I AM SOO EXCITED!!

 May 4-6, in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

It's the BEST GIRLFRIEND WEEKEND you can imagine!!
It is such a wonderful event!!  I absolutely love going to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin for Nancy's Sewing Weekend. 
They hang a wonderful quilt show.
During Mary's January visit,  TMBC went shopping for some new projects and ideas.
The best part of Sewing Weekend is that they OPEN THE WAREHOUSE!!
The last time we did our presentation in Beaver Dam, Judy and Chris (the Ya Ya Stalkers) came all the way from Portland, Oregon!!
One of our themes is Girlfriend Travel.....
We are looking forward to hanging out with Mike...(the President)
And doing some WAREHOUSE shopping of our own!!
John makes sure everybody gets on the buses -- to be taken all around town to the various locations...
GO FOR IT!! YOU DESERVE IT! Sewing, laughing, learning, visiting with your old friends -- making some new ones. IT JUST DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS, PEOPLE..!!


Nancy's 2017 Sewing Weekend in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.