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Monday, February 28, 2011

How to Fix a Hole in Your (Cashmere) Sweater

I love cashmere sweaters. They're perfect for spring and fall, even in winter when you want to be cozy, but you don't want a lot of layers.

I have slowly collected several colors of cashmere sweaters over the years. I have a problem with them, though. Because my house has very little storage room for off-season clothes, the moths sometimes find them and have a snack.

So, in order to keep my sweaters looking nice (not to mention saving the money I spent on them) I've had to learn how to repair those tiny holes in my favorite sweaters.

Here's what you'll need:
Scissors, thread to match the sweater, needle

  1. Turn your sweater inside out. 
  2. Find the hole and thread your needle, tying a knot at the end of your thread.
  3. Start at one end of the hole and go around the perimeter of the hole with your needle. 
  4. Cinch the thread tight enough to bring the hole closed most of the way. 
  5. Taking tiny stitches, sew the edges of the hole closed. You won't want to make big stitches because they're more likely to show on the outside of your sweater.
  6. Once the hole is completely sewn, tie off the thread by looping your needle back through the stitches you've already made. 
  7. Voila! You're done. 
The sweater, when turned right side out, will show what looks like a small blemish (can you see it in the photo?), but no one will notice. See?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just Keep Going: Mantra for a Mom Who Does Triathlons

I love yoga. And bouldering. And sleep. So, as the reality of competing in triathlons this season looms closer, the reality of time limits and my desire to be a well-rounded woman take a up a big space in my head. Those two polar opposites strap on boxing gloves and go head to head in the boxing ring of my brain.

If I weren't a mom of four spunky girls who need all of me. If I didn't work an awesome job — which I love. If I didn't have a house that keeps insisting new projects be done on it. If I didn't have the drive to get creative with paint and pencil. If I didn't own a brand new sewing machine begging for me to make new stuff. If I didn't relish making healthy meals from scratch. If I didn't adore talking to my friends and family on the phone or internet or at fun gatherings. I'd be free to do whatever I wanted with my triathlon training. But, I do have all those things. And I feel blessed to have so much.

So, here's what I do to get ready for triathlons. I schedule out everything ahead of time. I write down when I'll go swimming, running, and biking. I use a great coach who sends me workouts (we start next month) nearly every day. I don't agonize over a missed workout. I don't try to make up the workout I missed every time. I just keep going. I log it all into the tracking system my trainer uses and I keep going. Did I already say, I keep going? That's what I do. I keep going. That's how triathlons are, too. Push for the finish and don't worry about the missteps, slow-ups, falls, sore muscles, and mind-numbing exhaustion along the way.

Go. Fight. Win...or just finish what you started.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Relax, They're Only Words

Last month, I announced a job change. That post has been my biggest source of traffic to my blog to date. Here's why: Many people from my former employer's company have read it and talked about it. I guess my word choice to describe the size of the company vexed some people.

To clarify, the company I worked for had/has problems that are inherent with a large company. I mentioned that in my original post. Any large company has problems. This shouldn't come as an astonishing revelation. Everyone who works at a large corporation knows about the problems within the company and are often afraid to talk about the fact that they exist.  If you read anything on how to make your place of employment better, you will surely come across at least one mention of open discussion on how to improve. Getting caught up in someone's word choice is counter productive. If a company is to progress, listening and learning from their employees is a great place to start.

Here's the truth: I enjoyed my job immensely. I really loved writing, creating, networking, and everything else I did while employed by the unnamed large company. I worked for a terrific boss, with stellar people in my department, and with an engaged audience. There were many at the company who supported my success. I just chose to move on.  That's it.

Since my word to describe the largeness of the company didn't suit so many, here are some others that might work better:


These words are only words and they're not meant to injure. They're meant to illustrate. Relax.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Nutritional Heretic

When I tell people I don't eat sugar, I get a mixture of reactions. Some people are astounded that I have that kind of self control. (Anyone could do it, if they really wanted to do it.)  Some people are incredulous, saying that I really am eating sugar if I'm eating fruit. Some people just downright think I'm crazy, like I'm a nutritional heretic or some sort of puritanical food snob.

Deep down, I think, most people I talk to about my decision understand why I want to avoid processed sugar. Sugar is addictive, it wreaks havoc on your body's metabolism, immune system, and appetite. Those who can't control themselves around a plate of brownies, frothy root beer float, bowl of icecream, bag of chocolate covered almonds, or a display of pretty little cream-filled donuts/cupcakes know the feeling. Those things, while indulgent and sinfully delicious will never fill you up, at least not completely. Sure you could eat them until you feel full (done that), but you always feel bad after you eat them. Right?

A recipe I wrote in fourth grade (I think) — sugar was my life!
I got to the point where I'd eat sugary stuff until I felt bloated and sick. (Like the time I polished off a whole dish of brownies. Myself.) Then, I'd feel guilty. Then, I'd want to go to the gym and work it all off. Which never really helped, because I'd always manage to wander over to the scale and feel even worse that the scale's numbers were going the wrong direction. Or, all that sugar had given me a headache, which made me not want to work out in the first place. If I actually got to the gym, my workout would be both sluggish and pointless.

So, sue me. Call me a food snob. Look down on me while you savor your sweets. Mock me if you must. I have to do this for my own sanity, health, and waistline. I can't go back to how I felt when sugar was a part of my life. I was a beast on the stuff...and I'm beastly enough without the help of sugar's weird control over me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fountain of Youth — Swimming

I fell in love with swimming from the moment I learned. I can still remember standing on the diving board at the community pool with my dad treading water in the deep end, waiting for me to jump to him. The color of the water was the same color as the sky during a full moon. Deep blue. That was a bit scary, but I recall wishing I was able to swim without my dad having to catch me.

My family moved to Maine the summer when I was seven. We didn't have a community pool. We had the river, nearby ponds and lakes, and, of course, the ocean. My love for swimming grew by leaps and bounds from that point forward. We swam as frequently as we possibly could in the summer. Sometimes my siblings and I would stay at the river from mid-morning until dinner time (when we were famished and sun toasted.) We'd swim down river and then swim back up, against the current. We had a zip line and rope that overhung the river and we'd play on them for hours.

never grew tired of swimming. Ever. 

Since my summers in Maine, going to college, getting married and having kids, I've taught myself how to swim laps and even started attending masters swim classes. I've enjoyed competing in triathlons and strongly considered trying out swim race this coming summer. I love it so much, I get giddy just thinking of jumping in the water. I'm like a kid all over again.

I recently found this video of a 90-year-old woman named Betty Kendall, she still competes in swim races. And wins! She's young and swimming has helped her stay that way.

I want to be swimming into my old age. I don't care that my body will be saggy and wrinkly. I love swimming that much — I won't care what my body looks like in a swimsuit.

Is there something  you love to do that you'll still be doing when you're old and wrinkly — something that will keep you young?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sugar-Free Cheesecake

Most gatherings involve food. This can be tricky when you don't eat sugar of the processed variety. Your options get pared down to next to nothing when dessert is part of the menu. But, you don't have to be relegated to fruit and fruit smoothies for the rest of your sugar-free days. There are some alternatives you can make when the need arises. Arm yourself with ideas for what to cook when it's your birthday or when you get asked to bring a dessert, so you don't end up with an empty fork and a whole lot of trying-to-find-something-to-talk-about-while-everyone-else-is-eating situations.

Note: Although this doesn't contain white sugar, it sweet. As with anything sweet, limit yourself to one piece per day. I usually only make this dessert about twice a year. Once on my birthday (in the summer) and once for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Sugar-Free Cheesecake
Reading The 7 Principles of Fat Burning by Eric Berg DC was the precursor to my decision to get off refined sugars and refined flour. I noticed my body having an easier time shedding pounds and I would recommend the book to anyone who has tried just about everything to lose those last 5-10 pounds of stubborn post-baby weight. The original version of this recipe appeared in the book. I've adapted it only slightly.


1 1/3 cups ground nut-meal (I put about 2 cups of almonds, cashews or pecans in a blender and make my own. If you have time, soak them for a few hours first.)

1/3 cup melted coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (I like Adam's best, but Costco has a healthy natural peanut butter, too.)

Mix crust ingredients together well and spread in a pie dish (glass is best). 

2 packages of 1/2 fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 whole eggs

Combine all filling ingredients together until well blended. Pour filling into crust and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until slightly golden brown on top.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sugar Addiction — Why I Went Off Sugar

Crazy cola ad. Look closely. Mind control.
Tonight, I did a quick presentation at Ignite Salt Lake, entitled "Who's Your Sugar, Fatty?" See, I've been off sugar (and I'm talking about refined sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup and any other processed sugars) for almost two years and plan on staying off for the rest of my life. Why? Let me tell you.

My daughter sorting her loot.
1. Sugar is a drug. You can get addicted to it. In fact, most Americans are addicted to sugar. This addiction starts at a young age, too. Parents feel they need to "reward" their children with candy and goodies. I'm no different with my kids. Halloween is one of the biggest binge-fests of the year (although, most holidays have enough sweets accessible to send anyone into a diabetic coma). I have memories of sorting out the candy, counting it all like a pirate who has just returned from a plunder. It's fun! Candy is bright, colorful and tasty. Plus, you get this rush when you eat it.

2. Disease. There are too many people with diabetes in the world who could have avoided getting the disease. My family is included in that group of people. My paternal grandmother and her sisters all had adult-onset diabetes. I don't want to get it or even get close to getting it. So, I avoid sugar and exercise regularly. Germs actually feed off of sugar. That's why many people get sick around holidays — when people are eating more sweets.

3. Sugar makes me crazy. I literally feel like I can't control myself if I get a taste of it. Maybe you feel that way too? Well, it's not unusual to feel a little wacky when you eat sugar. Both sugar and the taste of sweet activate beta endorphin receptor sites in your brain — the same receptor sites that are activated by heroin, morphine, and cocaine. How else can I explain making and eating a whole pan of brownies by myself and washing everything so my husband wouldn't see it. I was a junkie!

Some people might say that if you eat fruit, you're technically eating sugar. Sure, you can argue that point. My point is that it isn't refined and hasn't been through anything other than the growing process in nature. There's no question that a balance of fruits and veggies (plus a lot of nuts) is great for your health. If you have to substitute sugar, I use agave. I've found that it doesn't make me feel crazy and a little goes a long way.

Watch for my recipe for sugar-free cheesecake in the next few days. Yum!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Trying Something New: My First Obstacle Race

This last Saturday, my younger sister, Michelle, and I headed up to the mountains for the Vigor 5K, an obstacle race through the snow. I didn't know what to expect, so I trained by running, bouldering, weight lifting, and doing yoga.

What I didn't anticipate was how running through five to six inches of snow was going to be like running through deep, dry sand. Struggling through and over snow drifts was a battle. Every time you thought you knew what you were doing on the snow, you would hit a pocket of deeper stuff and your leg would sink down.

The beginning of a race is always filled with adrenaline-charged participants. This time was no different, except there was a huge snow bank to clamber over at the starting line. There were so many people, it was mayhem. Then, less than 100 yards away from the snow bank, another obstacle loomed: a seven-foot high log and chain ladder. There was a bottle neck at that point because only two or three people could climb the obstacle at once. We waited impatiently for those in front of us. Jumping up and down, jogging in place. In hind sight, I would have zipped over that first obstacle faster had I known I'd have to wait for the second one.

After those first two obstacles, the real challenge of running in the snow slowed a lot of people down. I kept trudging along. I wasn't about to walk. The next twelve obstacles involved climbing walls, shimmying through a web of ropes, spinning down a slope on a disc sled, crawling through a tunnel, and challenging more than endurance. This race seemed longer than a 5K, but much more fun than a basic running race. I was hooked.

Crossing the finish line, I saw my friend, Rachel. She placed second in our age group (Women 35-39) and I placed third. Out of 87 women, I was 14th. My sister, Michelle, placed second in her age group and 13th overall for women. Rachel smoked us both and came in 12th. Way to go, Rach!

Muscles that I didn't expect to be sore are sore and that's always a good feeling. I'll definitely do this race again next year. Thanks Global Endurance!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stand Up for Her — and Yourself

Have you ever noticed that sometimes women can’t be happy for another woman’s success? Sometimes when a supposed rival succeeds we might come up with an excuse for why it was easy for her. “Sarah got lucky,” or “Vicki just knows the right people,” we might say.

I’ve observed that sometimes we women have a hard time when another woman we don’t approve of — or think prettier/uglier, smarter/dumber, and more/less successful than we — receives attention, accolades or press. The opposite should be true. However, we’re not all altruistic, are we? We should celebrate our sisters in their successes, rather than tear them down with jealousy and judgment. Jealousy and judgment will only lead to more frustration, bitterness and contempt. Three feelings we’d be better off without.

But, so often, we can’t see past our own insecurities. Maybe we feel the best way to protect our fragile egos is to tear others down. However, if we really dig deep, we will see that supporting and learning from others’ achievements makes us feel good.

In my work as an editor of a womens publication, I've had the opportunity to meet, interview and feature hundreds of women. These women have been mothers, grandmothers, entrepreneurs, artists, trend setters, community activists, story tellers, business leaders, athletes, creators, and nurturers. Their achievements, in some cases, are those an every-day woman could achieve. However, they all have one trait in common: a feminine strength and determination. They have inspired me to live up to my own potential, to be more, not less, of my own true self.

Marianne Williamson, one of my favorite authors, wrote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I believe this to my core. The women in your life have a light to share. Take it in and let it liberate your own light to shine – without fear of judgment or jealousy from others.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

8 Things Losing Taught Me

I'm a loser. I played right wing for a perpetually losing girls' field hockey team in junior high and high school. We were the Eagles, but we might as well have been the Beagles because we dogged it every game. We never won. We tied a few times. My entire field hockey career was filled with one failure after the next.

I don't remember the final scores for those games (except that we had fewer points, if any, than the other team). Losing felt bad then, but it taught me a lot about myself, life, and work.
  1. If you're prepared, you still might bomb. 
  2. Embarrassment isn't forever. 
  3. Laughter goes a long way to make you feel better.
  4. Yelling at your teammates won't improve their skills or your relationship.
  5. If you miss a shot, there's always another try and another and another.
  6. Working hard and sweating a lot makes you feel great about yourself even if you don't win.
  7. Playing outside does wonders for your mood.
  8. True friends still like you even after you lose.

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