Friday, November 30, 2018

2018 S.E.W. Retreat

I HAVE spent an entire week at the S.E.W. Retreat. It is operated by the Sisters of Humility...and Sister Margaret was the Director of the center. She had to cook all our healthy meals... In this photo we are showing off our sewing tatoos,  we also  did a ton of REAL sewing...and healthy eating...AND YOGA.  Angela is doing the lizard pose.  I am not quite there.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Mississippi Valley Quilt Show

Another really fun day this fall was my visit to the Mississippi Valley Quilt Guild Show. They do this show every-other-year -- and the talent of these women is amazing.
I was delighted to see the parking lot was packed!
It's at the county fairgrounds in Davenport, Iowa.
They'd posted signs all over the area, and there was almost a line out the door!
I'm sure none of their attendees were disappointed.  They hang a really beautiful show.
During my first walk around the show, I noticed this area...hummm...
OF COURSE, I was drawn like a magnet!!
These women were SELLING THEIR STASH!!
BRILLIANT..!!  They had fabric,and quilt tops, and magazines, books, tools, more can't imagine WHAT A GREAT STASH SALE THIS WAS..!!
And, of course, they had dozens of beautiful quilts hanging.
The MOST INTERESTING thing I saw that day..!!
Here's a better picture....
There is a local man who paints Featherweights!! Hey -- speaking of Featherweights. Did I tell you that I BOUGHT ANOTHER ONE...gheesh...I didn't even mean to.

 It was kind of an accident...

More about that later...

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Restaurants, Kids and Conversations

One of the best things about having Lilly and Warren every Saturday is that it's an excuse for me to EAT OUT at restaurants.

John doesn't enjoy going out that much...and it's pretty boring to cook for just the two of us...

The kids have learned some excellent restaurant manners...they've played countless games of Bananagrams...and it's a good time to practice the art of actual conversation.

When Lilly was four years old, she told the waitress at Family Square that their kids' menu needed to have pictures -- because little kids can't read...we all saw the wisdom in that...
At our favorite place -- Steak and Shake!!
Recently, I took the kids to our big grocery store chain, HyVee for their 4-6pm  half-price appetizers.  As we were placing our order, Lilly said, "I'd like to save a whale"  The waitress looked at her blankly and said, "excuse me?"

Lilly repeated... "I'd like to save a whale."

Our waitress had no idea what she was talking about.  Lilly said, "save a whale -- you know -- put a piece of licorice instead of a straw in the kids drink."

When the waitress continued with her blank stare...Lilly said, "It's YOUR promotion."

Apparently,HyVee did a great job of marketing to the children -- but not such a good job of training their employees.


One night -- we were meeting Uncle Ross for supper.  We were waiting at the counter, playing Banagrams.  It was dark outside, and Warren, looking out a window, got caught up in his reflection.  I said, "I wish I had the letters to spell "narcissistic".

Lilly said, "no kidding".

I said, "do you know what narcissistic means?"

She said -- "it means self-absorbed".

Surprised -- I said -- "good work, hon. But that's a big word for a 9 year did you learn it?"

She said -- "well, putting it in context -- Warren WAS admiring his reflection in the window..."

Monday, November 26, 2018

Current Hotel with MDF

If everything is going as planned -- I'm doing yoga this morning.  We are full-on into winter this week.  And I hope I packed enough warm clothes for those brisk morning nature walks!!

These pictures are from last month...

Fall is a beautiful time around here.  But we do get some rain...

On this day, I was gonna have lunch with some of My Drinking Friends (MDF)...
They hadn't been to the Rooftop restaurant of the new Current Hotel
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Cousin Linda joined us (she doesn't drink much, but we let her come anyway)
The view is spectacular.
But the wind was ferocious.
We just stayed outside long enough to take a picture.
Then we went inside to eat. THOSE ARE HOMEMADE POTATO CHIPS...
We got a kick out of the napkins
But the entire hotel is full of midwest Art...The whole place has a great point of view.
The restrooms have a sense of humor.
HA HA HA...!!
The lighting is spectacular.
At the Current hotel (now a signatiure Marriott property) -- there is art everywhere you look
On our way out of town, we saw that the gigantic American Queen was docked for the afternoon. This summer, my friend Sue  took it all the way from Minneapolis down to New Orleans!!
Thanks, Davenport, Iowa -- for another beautiful, interesting day. YOU ROCK..!!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

2018 SEW Retreat

It's a few days AFTER Thanksgiving. I hope you had a great time...and, mostly, I'm thinking we're all glad that it's

As you read this post -- I am AT THE S.E.W RETREAT...and, with any luck, I'm enjoying some healthy meals cooked BY SOMEBODY OTHER THAN ME...and maybe I'm even learning something about Yoga.

I wrote this post (below) two years ago...and it is a good reminder for me. About why I'm doing this. Every year....Hummm...


November 2016

 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!!


And, yes, Rhonda is also attending the Iowa S.E.W. Retreat...she has a big pile of projects to sew -- and we are excited about adding this creative element to our week of RESET...

Friday, November 23, 2018

SEW Retreat...Lessons...

As you are reading this, I am picking Mary Mulari up at the Moline airport. She'll spend one night in the Mary Mulari suite at my house -- then, tomorrow -- we'll meet two of our friends at the first ever Iowa S.E.W Retreat....

Of some point -- I'll give you a full report...


This is what I wrote in 2016...after returning from my first 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...

And, two years later -- I'm still doing it...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Although some things never change -- Thanksgiving is not one of those things. A family is alive...which means it is always growing -- or shrinking. People come, people go (depending on the people, either one of those things could be the good news or the bad news).

Every family has their happy times. Birthday parties, graduations, good test scores, promotions, beautiful weddings, new babies.

Then there are the not-so-happy occasions. Kids move away. Couples get divorced and the dining room furniture is hauled off to the Goodwill. People die, they get sick, lose their jobs, or maybe their house burns down...

Every one of those things -- good or bad -- has one thing in common.


If you were having the perfect probably would NOT be reading this blog today...So, I am going to assume that something about this day isn't going right.

You are not alone...Trust me...

If your day sucked -- if you feel lonely -- or somebody hurt your feelings -- or disappointed you...or you are dealing with a loss....well -- it's a very long line you're standing in...

Thanksgiving has become a holiday full of pressure. Norman Rockwell painted a fictional picture that no family could live up to.  The people you THINK are having a better day than you are probably bored out of their minds, feeling jealous or resentful of their annoying siblings, pissed off at their ungrateful children, and have spent the entire day biting their tongues...

Chances are good they are telling you the heavily-edited Norman Rockwell-version of their day....because it's easier to pretend everything was perfect....

The good news is -- IT'S JUST ONE DAY!!

If today REALLY sucked -- my advice is to write it all down. Just for yourself. It is so interesting to read these journal entries AFTER the fact. It's how I learn. Every single time. If you write it down honestly -- then go back and read it next year, maybe you can PREVENT having another meltdown, crappy Thanksgiving.

But that almost always means you must embrace...that's right...let's say it together....



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

What is the S.E.W. RETREAT??

To review -- I have always been fat. Hell -- I even wrote a book about it...remember??


Hey -- we all have our problems.  And, long ago, I realized being fat was NOT the end of the world...and I've always been determined to make the most of my life, no matter what size I am.

But, obviously, when I weighed over 300 pounds, every day was a struggle. I had no energy, and just going up and down my stairs was a trip I dreaded.

Thanks to my friend Rhonda -- two years ago -- I went to a Fitness Camp in Florida. And it changed my life...

Here are a few "before" pictures...
After that week at Fat Camp (everybody hates it when I call it that)...I slowly lost 80 pounds over the course of a year.

I was a different person when Rhonda and I went back to WeightCrafters in Florida last November...
I blogged about it...I bragged about it...and I kinda thought I had this thing under control.

But, if you've always been fat, there is no such thing as control!!  Years of dieting has ruined my metabolism...and if I even look at a Ritz cracker, I gain 5 pounds.  (okay, there may have been some peanut butter involved).

The thing is, I can't afford to go to Florida every year...And I'm not interested in another week of grueling 6 hour daily workouts... But I do need to put myself into "food jail".  It was so magical to NOT think about food for a whole week.  I didn't have to buy it, or prepare it, or clean up after a meal....I didn't worry even a little bit...I savored every bite they gave me...but, when a meal was done, it was done.  There were no tempting snacks anywhere in that Florida condo...

But -- maybe I don't have to go all the way to Florida to put myself into food jail??  Hummm...

WHY CAN'T WE SET ONE UP RIGHT HERE IN IOWA??   Hummm...Rhonda could drive here from Chicago...I have a few other friends who are interested...We could do our own S.E.W. RETREAT..!!  (Sewing.Eating.WorkingOut)

I have the perfect location -- remember the TMBC Sewing Retreat last summer?  For less than $80 a day, we get a comfortable, private sleeping room...and three nutritious meals...(we'll request a healthy menu, with NO HOMEMADE CINNAMON ROLLS this time)

It would be magnificent to be able to actually SEW for uninterrupted days. We could set up our sewing machines and work on projects....

For the working out element, the grounds have beautiful nature walks -- even an official labyrinth!! 


Maybe we could hire a yoga instructor!!

THIS IS GONNA BE SO MUCH FUN..(literally -- SEW much fun!!).
Maybe the fascinating sewing projects will keep me from remembering that I'm not eating any junk food...
Can you guess who's going to be at the first Iowa S.E.W. Retreat??

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Prepare for Thanksgiving

If you are NOT looking forward to Thanksgiving...YOU ARE NOT ALONE. But -- hey -- the very BEST thing about Thanksgiving is that it is JUST ONE DAY. That's all it is. One Day. And you can survive anything for just one day...

So, if your Thanksgivin is shaping up to be a bad one...get in front of it. It's like a moving train...and the only way to save yourself is to GET OFF THE TRACKS. Make some plans. THINK ABOUT IT TODAY. What can you do to get through this ONE DAY???

There are lots of choices. Really -- read a book, walk on the treadmill -- SEW A T-SHIRT DRESS.

Or, the hell with it. Forget about doing anything worthwhile. IT'S JUST ONE DAY. You can go full-on pity party!!

Maybe, just for this one day -- you can eat whatever you want. Enjoy a whole pan of fudge. But plan that forbidden food you'll have it on hand Thursday when you really need it.

Here's a delicious meal: Giant bag of Doritos. Nuke these three things until hot and bubbly: half a brick of cream cheese, with equal parts salsa and shredded cheddar cheese.


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 the SciFy channel is running Harry Potter movies all day.

If you have On Demand -- BINGE WATCH an entire series. I watched the first six seasons of Nurse Jackie in about a week, and I highly  recommend 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.

Catch up on "This is Us" on NBC. But you must watch it from the first episode...Great writing, complex characters...

Hey -- if you have Amazon Prime -- or Netflix -- the CHOICES ARE ENDLESS.

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

Monday, November 19, 2018

Sharpless Auctions

If I hop on I-80 and head west for less than an hour -- I will arrive at Sharpless Auction House.  I consider this cheap entertainment...and SUCH A WONDERFUL treasure hunt.  You never know what you might find.

My cousin Kim and I headed out...we were going to meet my friend Bert there.  They have food, too -- and the BIGGEST pork tenderloin sandwich in the State of Iowa!!  Along with homemade pies, and lot of Amish baked goods...oh, yeah -- this is gonna be fun...
They have a giant sign on I-80.
There are three huge warehouse buildings...and EVERY SINGLE WEEK...they have a huge consignment auction.
There is so much stuff -- cars, trailers, household furniture, linens, toys, cannot imagine.
They have SIX AUCTIONEERS working at the same time!!
On this night, I found my mother's sewing machine (which I did NOT buy)
On any given week, they sell about six sewing machines.  (usually for less than $10)
Many dressers...some will go for as little as $5...
Although, the Ouija board sold for $40.  (I didn't understand why)
I didn't stick around for the train pinata.
The fun part is going through all the boxes before the auctioneer gets to them.
I don't even know what I'm taking a picture of!
So much random stuff.  You just can't imagine...
There were at least 300 chairs of all kinds.
You have to get a bidding number in order to play the game...
On this night, they had about 200 pots of mums.