Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Pajamas

You never know when a random act might become a "Christmas Tradition"...

Last year, I made Snowman pajamas for Lilly and Warren.  And this year -- I have already signed them up for the "Polar Express Pajama Party" at the Putnam Museum.  SO OF COURSE I MUST MAKE THEM NEW CHRISTMAS PAJAMAS...

From Last year...

I look at these pictures of Lillian and Warren, and I wonder what they will remember? Maybe it will be their Christmas pajamas.  Every year, I buy/make/Frankensew pajamas. 

Lilly has always loved Frosty the Snowman.  (this one is battery operated, and when you push the button, he sings, and dances -- ending with a butt twerking move...)
Her pjs ARE Frosty all over...Warren had a little snowman on's Frankie's first Christmas...
Lilly actually WILL sit for a picture if she's holding Frankie...AND she'll try that fake smile...
A better picture of Warren's snowman...
Lilly with a dog...Warren with his B' her bed, with the special Christmas coverlet...
They're just pretending to sleep, of course...
I wonder if, 16 years from now, either one of them will remember their Frosty pajamas...
Another tradition is my plastic snowman tablecloth...and my huge collection of plastic Snowman dishes.  We start to use them the week after Thanksgiving.
Mostly, I'm posting this picture because it has Lilly's Gingerbread House. My cousin Kim had a party at her house...and this became our centerpiece for the whole season! Lilly was so proud...
***************** For the record -- Lilly is still wearing her Frosty Snowman pajamas. They are her favorite thing, and she wears them every time she spends the night. After I took these pictures, I don't think Warren ever wore his again...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fat Camp. Why Now??

THANKS again for all the emails of encouragement!! It seems like nobody was surprised I went away for a Fitness Retreat. (Conn, my trainer, hates it when I call it Fat Camp). It seems that most of my friends and ALL OF MY FAMILY were secretly hoping I would do exactly that!!

So, Rita -- Why Now??

Weight has always been my issue.

The thing is -- I don't care who you are or what you do -- you're dealing with some issue in your life. That's just the way it works. Everybody deals with pain and/or problems. Some people are born into terrible families, or maybe they have a physical disability. Other people struggle in school, or can't find the right job or the right mate. Maybe your issue is an addiction to gambling or Marlboro' see what I mean.

In my life, I've dealt with the weight the best way I knew how. Mostly, I decided to accept my imperfect, very large body and just be the best person I could be...and do whatever I could do...and not make it a big deal. (yes, that's a pun...they're all bad). That's why I wrote the book, Life Is Not A Dress Size.

I LOVED WRITING THIS BOOK...and I stand by every word of it.
My entire philosophy is that your life should be about MUCH MORE THAN THAT NUMBER ON THE SCALE. Holy Cow!! Women are soo hard on themselves. We think if we aren't perfect, we are somehow "less than"...and I refuse to be judged by what size dress I'm wearing.

Like everybody else who has an issue with weight, I've yo-yo-ed up and down over the years. In 2009-11, I went from 325 pounds down to 230. ALMOST 100 pounds!! Wow. What an accomplishment, eh? And I enjoyed my new energy, and being able to buy clothes off the rack was quite a treat. Blue Jeans became a part of my wardrobe again!! IT WAS AWESOME.

But, then, I slowly gained the weight back. About 20 pounds a year... And there I was again. At 300 pounds. DAMMIT...

The people in my life are loving and polite. Nobody ever says anything to me about my weight. I just make bigger clothes...and I still get out there and have a very full life.

But, who are we kidding?

It's a chore for me to climb a flight of stairs...I'm snoring at night -- AGAIN -- and I'm sitting in my Lazy-boy about 12 hours a day now. (yes, sitting IS THE NEW SMOKING)...once again, I need a seat belt extender on an airplane...

Then, this happened. My friend Rhonda Pierce told me she was going to a fitness retreat in Florida. I could share a condo with her...hummm...

Maybe THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED TO DO -- to honestly assess the bad habits I've fallen into.

Maybe this was exactly what I need to push the reset button in my life...I only had one day to decide...

 I SIGNED UP and put myself into I would be able to keep up (kinda)...

I was terrified. What if I can't do the exercise? I've never been in a gym in my life. Am I too old? Will I be able to do anything? Am I too fat? IS IT TOO LATE?? Can I give up BBQ Chips and Snickers??

HEY -- There's only one way to find out!!


Monday, November 28, 2016

2016 Christmas Events for Kids!!

I know many of you don't live where I do. But the Quad Cities has not cornered the market on FUN EVENTS for the holidays!!

No matter where you live -- if you are a child's Grandma -- or favorite Aunt -- or special neighbor -- there are MANY WONDERFUL THINGS GOING ON in your hood during the holiday season.
Here's the list I made for Emily...about the events in our area..... It's impressive!!

Grandma Rita’s List:

 2016 Christmas Events for Children:

Places to see Santa:
• NorthPark Mall – Nov. 18 – Dec. 24
• SouthPark Mall – Nov. 18 – Dec. 24
• Festival of Trees North Pole – Nov. 19-27 (Santa’s hours here)
• Lighting on the John Deere Commons – Nov. 19, 4 to 6 p.m.
• Galva Old Fashioned Christmas – Nov. 26
• Christmas in LeClaire – Dec. 2-4
• Village of East Davenport Christmas Walk – Dec. 2-3
• 19th Century Christmas at Butterworth Center/Deere-Wiman – Dec. 4
• Passport to the Holidays, Quad City Botanical Center – Dec. 4

Sunday, November 27, 2016 - 12:00pm to 4:00pm: Christmas at the Village ~ Noon - 4:00 P.M. ~ Dan Nagle Walnut Grove Pioneer Village ~ Begin your holidays early with a historic walk through the beautifully decorated Village; complete with Friends of the Village in period costume. While there, enjoy craft demonstrations and sales, letters to Santa in the General Store, refreshments at the soda fountain, holiday music, and a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Admission is free with a donation of nonperishable goods for the North Scott Food Pantry.

12/1/2016 Figge Museum: Family Workshop 6 pm Annual Holiday Family Workshop Family: $15/member family of four, $20/non-member family of four, $3 extra/person, children 3 and under are free.  Pre-registration required

Be the architect and builder of a dreamy gingerbread house during this cheerful holiday workshop. Marshmallow clouds, gumdrop sidewalks and cinnamon cereal roofs are just a few of the creative ideas you can use to create an imaginative and delicious house!

Families can also create ornaments, gift cards, and print their own wrapping paper during this crafty bonanza. Hot cocoa and cookies will be served. Come early to enjoy a sandwich basket and some holiday music!

To register, contact Heather Aaronson at or 563.345.6630, or register in the Museum Store.

QC Music Guild A Christmas Carol, $16 adult, $11 child, Dec 1,2,3,4 Call 309-762-6610; Thur, Fri, Sat 7:30…Sat Sun at 2:00

Children’s Shopping Bazaar: Saturday, December 3 - United Methodist church, Eldridge, Ia. Lilly (and/or Warren) would take a shopping list…and about $20…

The Gospel According to Scrooge; December 2(7), 3(2) ,4(6), - 2016; Presented at NEW HOPE CHURCH, 2305 7th Ave., Moline, IL (free will offering)

Deere-Wiman House and Butterworth Center, Dec. 4, noon to 5p. 19th Century Christmas No charge for admission.
• Beautiful decorations throughout both homes
• Exclusive appearance by Santa Claus. (bring your camera!)
• Free book for each of Santa’s first 400 visitors
• Performance by the Moline Boys Choir at Butterworth Center
• Face painting for children and caricature artist
• Art show and Children’s make-and-take crafts (sponsored by Left Bank Art League) in the Deere-Wiman Carriage House
• Children's make-and-take crafts

Circa 21: Holly Jolly Christmas -- Until December 29. (309) 786-7733 ext. 2

Circa’s Children’s Theater: Jingle Aargh The Way (show only, $10.50) Fri/Sat..AM show at 9:30.. until December 27 (309) 786-7733 ext. 2 On their website, there is an activity sheet -- with a book to read, and pages to work out puzzles, etc. Looks like fun!

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will stop in Davenport, Iowa on Saturday, December 3 at 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM Western Avenue and West River Drive in Davenport, Iowa.

Join us at 12:30 p.m. for a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Santa will be handing out candy canes and goodie bags to kids. Also, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. The train will arrive at 1:45 p.m. with a holiday concert by popular Canadian musicians Kelly Prescott and Colin James from 2 to 2:30 p.m.

Clinton: On Saturday, December 3, the train will stop at the east end of Main Avenue, near the Sawmill Museum. Arrival is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. and music performances from Kelly Prescott and Colin James are set for 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Nutcracker: December 13, 14: Quad City Ballet. Adler Theater. Tickets $15-40….

Putnam Museum: Polar Express Pajama Party: This event sells out quickly. The kids (and parents) dress in pajamas, there is a flashlight scavenger hunt, a craft, and a cup of hot chocolate, and then the 3-D movie. I purchased three tickets for the Sunday December 18 11:45 movie…


Yes, I know...I'm a lucky, lucky girl...

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving RERUN...

This post is mostly about WHAT I MISSED when I went to Fat Camp. Warren would have been the PERFECT age this year to go see the big balloon parade...but, alas, Grandma was out of town.

I cannot believe it's been TWO YEARS since I took Lilly to see this parade...such wonderful memories...


From November 2014...

Lillian and I LOVE watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning.

As it happens -- there is a wonderful local big balloon parade right here in Davenport, Iowa every year to kick off the Festival of Trees. This year, Lilly is 5 years old, and the weather was cooperating (no rain, 50 degrees) -- so I decided at the last minute that WE SHOULD JUST DO IT...

We arrived in downtown Davenport about an hour before the parade was to begin. There were thousands of people, and soon, we were in gridlock traffic. Ugh. I parked the car and we got out to walk down to the parade route.

All those thousands of people were carrying those nifty lightweight folding canvas know the kind -- with the carrying case they casually fling over their shoulder.

Oh oh.  It suddenly dawns on me that I'm going to have to stand for the next three hours.  


I almost turned around at that point -- but Lilly was so excited.....So, we walked on -- and I hoped there would be a bench somewhere...or at least a tree I could lean on....

Then, on the corner of 3rd and Ripley, right where the parade is going to make a turn -- I notice all these people sitting on chairs and benches in front of a junk store I've never noticed before. We went in, and it is jam packed with my kind of is packed tight with used furniture, some Retro stuff, many kitschy pieces....
I took this picture three hours AFTER the parade...because during the actual parade, it was impossible to cross the street to even TAKE the darn picture...

Lillian and I walked in and I looked around, hoping there was something I WANTED TO BUY -- so I could befriend the owner...(yes, I am an evil genius -- AND I used to own a retail store...!)

As Ritaluck would have it -- I found the PERFECT treasure (another post).  Larry (my new friend, the owner) negotiated a price with me.

Still looking around his exciting store, I said   "how much for one of those benches out front?"

Larry:  $5

Me:  Sold.  (getting my billfold out of my purse)....So, now, Larry -- you must go out there and tell those people to get off my bench...

Of course, laughing now -- he did exactly that. The two men who had settled in on the bench were dismayed to be losing their sturdy seat  (hey -- THEY HAD EVERY CHANCE TO BUY THE DARN THING)...

Larry brought my bench into the store...and I paid him the money. He told me we could set it up on the empty lot side of his store -- where there was a little rise -- and we'd be able to see all the balloons coming down the street...
I actually took this picture AFTER the parade -- when there weren't SO MANY PEOPLE

Lilly and I sat on the bench until the parade started. Once things got rolling, she wanted to be on the curb -- and as it happens -- we had a small tree right in front of us -- so she had a PERFECT watching spot, and she didn't have to push in front of the people who arrived before us...

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lessons from Fat Camp

I got home from Florida at Midnight on Monday -- and three days later, experienced the whirlwind that is THANKSGIVING. So, I've had no time to really consider what I learned.

And, obviously, I haven't gotten back into the rhythm and temptations of my regular it would be premature to make any big declarations...

But here's how I learn things. I WRITE IT.... And I'll be doing at least some of that writing in this blog during the coming months. Altho, I will try not to be obnoxious about it.

BECAUSE I DO NOT THINK THERE IS ANYTHING MORE BORING IN THE WORLD THAN PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TALK ABOUT THEIR DIETS...UGH...(with the possible exception of people who want to talk about cleaning products and processes...double ugh...)

I know this much already.  I am very grateful for the week I spent in Florida.

So -- with the help of a few pictures -- I'm going to share the first three or four things I learned:

1.  No matter how wonderful your life is, getting away for a whole week puts things in perspective.
The view of the ocean/sunset from our balcony.
2. Having somebody else cook and then deliver three meals a day is HEAVEN. I had no idea how much time and energy I spent each day thinking about, then cooking food.
Turkey meatballs over spaghetti squash. DELISH!!
3. I'm doing this because I LOVE MANY PEOPLE...and I am so very fortunate to have many people loving me back. I want to be there for them as long as I can.
My sweet, wonderful sisters sent me flowers. The card said, "We love you -- and YOU CAN DO THIS."
I love you back...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

2016 Thanksgiving

And, hey -- if you're reading this blog because your Thanksgiving sucks and you are feeling lonely and sad -- BUCK UP. You're not alone. Remember -- the very BEST thing about Thanksgiving is that it is JUST ONE DAY. That's all it is.

Read a book, take a nap, walk on the treadmill -- SEW A T-SHIRT DRESS.

Or, honestly -- forget doing anything worthwhile.  Eat whatever you want.  IT'S JUST ONE DAY. 

Last year, I told you to eat a pan of fudge.  That was then, and this is now...

This year, as you know -- I'm just getting back from Fat Camp.  So  I have a whole new mindset.

My friend Valerie turned me on to Healthy Choices frozen dinners!!  Yahoo.  They are on sale this week at HyVee -- and for only $2.50, you get a pretty darn tasty meal -- and you don't have to wash up any pots and pans!! 

Way better than you might think!!

Hey -- just fall into your television.  IT'S JUST ONE DAY.

Check out your favorite guilty pleasure channels. HGTV has a marathon of Fixer Upper, and BRAVO is doing a whole day of Housewives.  (you can thank me later).

If you have On Demand -- OH MY GOD, BINGE WATCH an entire series.  Get into Game of Thrones (I haven't done that one yet).  I watched the first six seasons of Nurse Jackie in about a week, and recently, I watched Newsroom with Jeff Daniels and I can't remember when I ever enjoyed a television show more.  There are only three seasons, so it's a good choice.

The New Season just started -- so catch up on "This is Us" on NBC.  But you must watch it from the first episode...Great writing, complex characters...

With On Demand, the possibilities are could watch five seasons of Dance Moms!! 

Thanks for reading my blog today. If you feel like you were nearly pecked to death by a turkey --  remember.  IT'S JUST ONE DAY.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fat Camp...

Today is my travel day. I won't get back to Iowa until really late tonight...and I am TOO POOPED to think any original thoughts, much less write them down in a coherent way...

 I am hoping the fog will clear soon...

Because so many of you sent messages of encouragement -- I am gonna post some random pictures from Fat Camp.  IT HAS BEEN AMAZING...

flowers from my sisters!!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Our Maderia Beach Fitness Camp Condo

Rhonda and I are sharing a two bedroom, two bath condo. We are like an episode of the Odd Couple. She is extraordinarily neat...I'm quite the opposite.
Our kitchen is fully equipped...
The refrigerator is stocked with a case of bottled water...breakfast on the top shelf (yogurt, boiled egg and raisin toast).  Morning snacks, too.  (Granny Smith apple with almonds)
There's a little dining area -- with a comfy sofa and chair...
You can see out to our balcony.
Which has a great view...and lots of birds to watch...
From outside our door -- we can actually see the Gulf of Mexico!!

This is a screen shot of the outside of our building. On Maderia Beach. In Florida. Yes...I LOVE MY LIFE...

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fat Camp, Day #1

I arrived in Tampa, Florida on Monday and got to Maderia Beach -- the location of Weight Crafters Fitness and Weight Loss Camp.
I zentangled my new sneakers...
One shoe looks like this.
I decided they needed more color...
Okay, now I'm happy.
An inspirational message from my sister Deborah.
The elliptical trainers are a challenge...
But I LOVE THE treadmill...I got this...
No...wait... I think I'm screaming here...

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fat Fashions Style Show

Getting ready for Fat Camp -- I've spent the last three weeks consciously changing my bad eating habits....trying to get back into a routine on my treadmill...and MAKING NEW WORKOUT CLOTHES.

 The weekend I was packing up, I decided to do an impromptu Style Show at my Aunt Ada's house.  TMBC came -- and here's what they saw:
I made this shirt two weeks ago, but decided to change the first word...
To something more appropriate!!
The back is much longer than the front.
I added the zebra side insert so this nice knit jacket could work.
You already saw this outfit.
the back is spectacular!
But this gets the prize for the BEST BACK of any fat camp outfit...great crochet, eh?
This is the perfect FRONT Of that shirt.
These three things -- a turq top, graphic tee (Brooklyn Bridge) and a knit dress...are about to be CUT UP...
I'll try to get a better picture at Fat's a great shirt!!
I want a dress to lounge around in...get it?  FRIDA..??  I am thinking 'FREE RITA"...