Random musings from a Wife, Mom, Homeschooler, Student, and Friend

Before I got pregnant with my first child, I went on my first “real” diet, the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet. I also took some sort of weight loss pill being sold at the time called Unidawn. I lost 20lbs which helped me get pregnant, even when fertility pills, injections, and treatments had failed. I didn’t gain that 20lbs back for over ten years.

On November 16, 2011, life threw me a curve ball. Hemiplegic Migraine.

Life as I knew it ended that morning in November. Little things I took for granted (or worse resented, like pushing a grocery shopping cart) became impossible without causing an attack. I’ve never been one for lots of activity, but even simple things like picking up something off the floor could trigger a migraine. If my old migraines were monsters, these were their sick, sadistic cousins that came with unimaginable pain AND stroke-like symptoms that WouldNot…Go…Away. For weeks. For years.

With the exception of a few good stretches, I have had a daily migraine for almost four years.

I’ve had migraines almost all my life. But, I could remember each one, and I could count on one hand the number of those headaches. They were horrible, each and every one seared into my memory, but they were thankfully short-lived. (I don’t count the silent migraines where my vision would distort or I would see spots or zigzags because I could usually head off the migraine if I got some Advil and a Coke.) When I was around 11, I had an episode after a major headache that left me unable to move for a few days. I’m pretty sure that was my first hemiplegic episode.

So here I am, at the same weight I was before I went on the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet the first time. Food has provided me with comfort and even pain relief at times–for some reason eating helps my migraine pain–and my body shows it. You can see the result of eating for pain relief in every extra pound I carry. And I’m tired of that. I’m tired of being fat. I’m tired of being sick. At the very least, if I can’t fix these migraines, I can fix the fat.

I checked out the book, The Carbohydrate Addict’s Lifespan Program, from our local library. After reading through most of it, I ordered my own copy from Amazon–it is that good. As far as diets go, it is an old one, but I cannot believe more people aren’t doing it. If you are a carboholic, and the authors have a handy quiz to determine if you are, this is THE diet for you. The first day was horrible. The second day was better. By the third day, I felt like I could do this forever. I ate chocolate chip cookies. I ate more green food in a week that I had in a month. I made bread out of eggs. (Egg bread! Amazing! If you follow the link and make the recipe, please note that I reduced the sweetener to 1/3 packet of Stevia and added some seasoned salt.)

So, yesterday was my first week’s official weigh-in, and I had lost 7.4lbs!

This diet requires you to weigh every day, so this morning when I saw that I was up a pound and a half, I was ready to quit. Denying myself carbs AND GAINING?!? (Cue screaming.) WHAT WAS GOING ON?!?

Three little letters. (No, not PMS.)


It’s in everything. It was laced throughout the reward meal I ate the night before. It was even in my ultra-pasturized milk for my low-carb cuppa joe. It was why I was starting to get shaky after my low-carb meals. Freaking MSG. It is not enough to reach for low-carb stuff–you gotta read those labels!

After weighing, and pouting, and threating to quit, and sending a frazzled text to The Hubs, I reached for another book by the same authors–and the one I recommend even more highly–The 7-Day Low-Carb Rescue and Recovery Plan. Right there in that book, I read the why behind my weight gain. It was written over 10 years ago, but the message was for me, for today, for right that very minute when I wanted to quit. I threw out the ultra-pasturized milk that contained carrageen (MSG), and replaced it with one that is MSG free. I started fresh today, and I will let tomorrow take care of itself–so long as I read all the labels first!

I already avoid certain things to help with my migraines–loud noises, foods with nitrates, etc. I also faithfully take my medication and use my migraine gadget (Cefaly) daily. It follows that I can read labels, eat low-carb for just 2 meals a day, and lose weight. I won’t lie–I’m hoping that a significant weight loss will help my head. But even if it doesn’t, it will help me.

Imagine a tall, cold glass of chocolate milk garnished with whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings. Decadent.

Now imagine living in that cold glass of chocolate milk. Not so nice. Our living room, dining room, entryway, stairs, and halls were painted–floor, trim, AND ceiling–in shades of chocolate. In the words of my then 5-year-old boy who tasted the black-bean brownies I had just made: “This not dewishis.”

The day we closed on the house, I was at Sherwin Williams buying paint. The walls are now Creme, and the trim is Snowbound. Much better! Here is a before picture that makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth:


Here is my sweet boy helping me to paint the ceiling. See the beam? Who paints a beam that color?!?




All my kids, and even a friend who came over for a “playdate” and got roped into helping, made this transformation possible.




The beam and trim primed:



And completed!



And here is the living room as it is now:


Home Sweet Home

We’ve moved every summer for the last three years. Make that four because…WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! Wow, it feels good to write that! I’ve been “looking” in the area since we moved here two years ago, and The Hubs and I wavered on building a house vs. buying an older home. We went to many open houses and models, but each house had issues. The new builds had zero yard, the old homes had been remuddled over the years. (Very pricey older homes in the downtown core typically had outrageously specific (read butt-ugly) updates.)

Just a few short weeks ago, I stumbled upon a listing for THE house. It was way under budget, still in our town, and I knew it could be the one. I saw it with the kids, nearly puked from excitement, and we made an offer less than a day later. The Hubs hadn’t even seen the house yet!

So what made this house THE house?

We had a list of what a new house needed to have: character…air conditioning…at least 2 living spaces…a lot big enough for a pool…not remuddled…about 2500 sf…potential to customize. We weren’t looking for big bedrooms or extra bathrooms, but the house had to have the ability to add these.

The new house? HAS IT ALL! Character–oh yeah! It’s the cutest American Foursquare with the most tragic paint scheme. (Imagine Painter Smurf given complete freedom to paint the exterior so long as he used blue.) The original doors, including a sweet dutch door in the back of the kitchen, are still there. The entry with its Arts and Crafts stairs and moldings are still there. The interior is also tragically painted. (Imagine Grumpy Smurf forced to paint the interior. Yeah, the walls, ceilings, and trim are painted in shades of poopy brownish-green. The kitchen gives a little relief from the poop–the trim in there is painted in horror-house red.) The galley kitchen is extremely efficient–just needs a face lift. The half-bath is adorable! It has a vintage corner sink with a marble top. So cute! Of course, it is also painted in horror-house red. Ew.

But it is all ours! Poop brown, horrible red, every last surface in need of paint–it is ours! We are moving in today! Can’t wait to show y’all how it shapes up!


Lesson Planning

I don’t know what it is about the last few cold weeks of winter, but they make me want to do lesson planning…for schooling we will do six months from now. I know. I have an illness. Maybe it was because I had to go to Staples for printer ink today. Just the smell of office supplies is intoxicating. A mix of ball-point ink, rubber bands, paper, and electronics. (Yes, electronics have a smell. They smell like static. Yes, static has a smell. It smells like electricity.) After a few deep nose-to-toes breaths of that heady aroma, I caught the bug. A lesson planning bug. (And probably a cold. The clerk who rang up my ink sounded like she had swallowed a cat and had just wiped her nose with her hand. Thank the Lord for hand sanitizer!) I spent the rest of the day surfing curriculum websites and loading (then emptying) my cart on Amazon.

We’ve spent three years away from Sonlight, but we are heading back to them. We never really left them anyway–I filtered all of our reading lists through the lists on Sonlight’s website. The girls and I have had a great time using Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of  Exploration and Paths of Settlement, but we are not going to finish the series. The Boy has enjoyed his year with Notgrass’ Uncle Sam and You, while getting his civics and government requirement taken care of, and I feel that all three are ready to dive into Sonlight again. I’ve missed the breadth and depth of the books that Sonlight uses. Sonlight also doesn’t shy away from the grittier stories in the way other curricula do, and for my older two children, I feel they are ready. The Boy and Beanie are going to use Core F: Eastern Hemisphere Explorer, and Lemony is going to use Core B+C: World History, One Year. I’m already rearranging the shelves to make room for all the lovely books!

The scariest part is that I am starting to plan The Boy’s high school path. Core F, Core 100, Core 200, Core 300, then Core 400. High School.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was this cute ‘lil stump-climbing boy?

The Boy on stump




One of my favorite sappy movies is the 1991 “Father of the Bride.” A one point the Franck and Howard, the wedding coordinators, are talking to Annie about the flavors for her wedding cake. They gush about one in particular that is “so subtle you can’t even taste it.” That’s how I feel about the color of the buffet I just finished. Subtle. Almost the same color. But not quite. I know I didn’t spend all this time painting this buffet the same color it was originally because my sister told me it’s a different color. It’s not the same color. It’s not. Reagan, back me up!


After I finished scraping off my first attempt, I gave the buffet a thinned-down coat of CeCe Caldwell’s Mesa Sunset, recommended by Kathy from The Vintage Dames.

I followed that with a full-strength coat of  CeCe’s Johnston Daffodil mixed with a dollup of Young Kansas Wheat and a few drops of Mesa Sunset:


After wet distressing, just a hint of the Mesa Sunset peeks through. I took the hardware off and painted all the pieces on a piece of foam board, reattached them to the buffet, and hit them with some clear wax.

Then came the fun part–playing with the new metallic waxes!

First, I smeared on the El Dorado Gold wax with my finger. Here’s what it looks like unbuffed over the Johnston Daffodil mixture:


Then I layered on Sierra Silver wax. Here it is unbuffed:


The real magic happens when this wax is buffed! Here it is in all its pearlescent glory!



This is my second major project using CeCe Caldwell’s paints, and I am even more in love with them! The only problem with this buffet now is that it is almost too “pretty.” What’s a girl to do? ;)


A few years ago, I picked up this buffet at a consignment store near Detroit, MI. Looks pretty good, huh?



Well, looks are deceiving, especially in photographs. The actual finish had yellowed with age, and our last move scratched up the top to the point that the finish was ruined:



Still, it is a well-built, solid wood piece that we use constantly as a mini-entertainment center for the kids (including a drawer full of Legos) and a landing zone for The Hubs’ keys and such. So after weeks (probably months) of should I? or shouldn’t I? I decided to paint it navy blue like the chairs in my breakfast room. I decided to try yet another new-to-me paint from Caromal Colours’ Country Living Textured Basecoat line in Blueberry because I had used and liked their REclaim line of paint. I opened the jar and tried to get some paint on my brush. It is the consistency of thick peanut butter, and I could barely spread it on the buffet. I called the company for help, and they told me to slap it on there and then smooth it out with a fluffy roller. What I really should have done was read the can–it says right there in plain English: textured basecoat. Oops. At this point I could still see the beautiful grain of the wood, but I couldn’t feel it anymore. I also couldn’t get the paint to spread evenly:



So what did I do after messing up that side? I painted the top and other side, of course. I did thin the paint, but the results were even worse:



In a panic, I reached for my can of CeCe Caldwell’s paint, and slapped on a coat of Young Kansas Wheat. It glided on, and I think I heard angels singing! The real fun with CeCe’s paints happens when you start distressing your piece. First–wet distressing! With a cloth! No dust! Awesome! Second, see the layers of color coming through? How cool is that? No sandpaper–just the damp cloth!

I loved the top…



…But the first side I painted had all that texture–totally not the look I was going for. As I was wet-distressing, I noticed in several spots that I was going down to the original finish. And better yet, that blue was coming off with water! I got a lot of the paint off with an old sock and warm water, but I needed more immediate results. So, I did what any other unabashedly inept and hopelessly naive person would do: I grabbed my Princess House spatula and started scraping:



As a side note, I love my spatula. We’ve been through a lot together–flipping burgers, stirring pitchers of ice tea, and scraping gunk off the stove, and you know, all that other normal domestic use that spatulas get. I feel a little bad because I think I finally voided my Princess House warranty. I doubt that using my spatula as a paint scraper counts as “normal domestic household use,” but I’m pretty sure that it does count as “damage caused by accident, misuse, or abuse.” Spatula, or Spatty as she likes to be called, may have a few more scratches and nicks, but to me she is just as shiny and beautiful as she always was. Warranty or no warranty, she is mine and I am hers. I did let The Hubs handle her when we started scraping the top. He did okay, but he just doesn’t know Spatty like I do. I took over after a while and gave him the old sock.



Pretty amazing, huh? So if you ever want to know how to remove Caromal Colours’ Textured Basecoat, just grab some water, an old sock, and your favorite spatula. It is possible to remove it with water and moderate pressure, if the conditions are right. I even got most of it out of the grain! The two conditions that probably saved this piece are that the basecoat wasn’t fully dry and that I did not sand the buffet prior to painting it. I just tested a piece that I painted with REclaim several months ago (also without sanding it), and I could not remove any of the paint even when I scrubbed it very hard with a wet cloth.

What’s next for the buffet? Well, I’m over navy. I’m going with a base of CeCe’s Mesa Sunset, a top layer of Johnston Daffodil, and a hint of Metallic Wax in Eldorado Gold. Can’t wait to see what it will look like!

I was browsing through the latest Ballard Designs catalog when I came across this pretty table:


A few weeks ago, I would have been looking at that table, sighing with longing. But not yesterday! With a grin I showed it to The Hubs and pointed to the breakfast room at my table.

Thanks to this…


…my ugly orange veneered table looks beautiful!

I loved this table the minute I saw it, orange tint and all, because I saw its potential to be the table I’ve been searching for. A couple of coats of CeCe Caldwell’s Young Kansas Wheat color transformed it into the table! It’s narrower than most dining tables, which works beautifully in our space, but it can still seat 8 with both leaves in. I distressed it slightly and left all the brush marks visible. All the brush strokes go the same direction, and it gives the table a weathered wood look. I hit it with a couple of coats of polycrylic for wash-and-durability.

A hint of the old finish peeks through for some character:


I found this pair of painted blue chairs at the same antique market where I got the paint–love them with this table!


Loving the mix of chairs and colors. (Here’s the post about the recovered shield-back chairs)



UPDATE: I had a chance to speak with Kathy Cook of The Vintage Dames at her booth in the Antique Marketplace in Lemoyne, PA today. This is where I buy all of the great CeCe Caldwell products that I have and will be using. Kathy is fantastic! She not only loves the CeCe Caldwell products, but she also is passionate about sharing tips and ideas with her customers. She is so fun to talk to!  I can’t wait to show off my next project–a rescued buffet–when it is all finished. For now, I’ll just tease y’all by saying that I will be using CeCe’s new metallic wax!!!


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