Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Biggest Loser Update

I've got to say, this show always know how to throw you a curve ball!

First of all, I was interested to see how Courtney and Jen would do when they lost that pop challenge and had to spend a week off the ranch.

Jen was so sure they wouldn't need a trainer, and that they just needed to put into use all the things they'd been taught to do in their time on the ranch.

The price of having their trainer for one day WAS a bit steep--200 dollars, and they only had a thousand to work with. However, as my hubby pointed out, they could have given up a few luxuries and at least had their trainer for a couple of days.

At weigh-in time, we saw that their lack of a trainer probably bit them in the behind. Courtney lost 2 pounds, Jen none at all...which ended up sending her home.

Olivia found the Golden Egg in the Easter egg hunt challenge...but instead of it being immunity or something as terrific, it was the lone vote in the weigh-in. Did you think Rulon of the black team would be the one to go home? I sure did...and honestly, after we saw that he wasn't giving 100 per cent in the diet area, I thought maybe he deserved to go.

But no, Rulon gets a reprieve, and Jen goes home. As we saw in her follow-up, she's doing fantastic.

I'm just glad Courtney didn't go home. I firmly believe she needs to be there as long as possible, and I'm wishing her all the best.

By the way, I'm getting used to Brett and Cara, and now it feels like they really belong on the show.

Oh, and I just have one question. WHEN WILL THEY GET THEIR MAKE-OVERS!!!???

How about you? Do you have a favorite contestant...a least favorite? Let me know in my comments section!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Farewell, Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor~February 27, 1932-March 23, 2011

*All photos found on tumblr
*Photo collage source here

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today is As Young As You Feel Day!

I don't know how young Christie Brinkley feels, but at 57, she looks fantastic!

"We need to stay viable, we need to look vibrant, and we need to stay visible. Because if you feel good about yourself, veryone around you will feel good too. Confidence is contagious. You have to get to the point where you can look in a mirror and say, 'Wow! I look fabulous!'"--Charla Krupp

Today, according to, is As Young as You Feel Day: "Now more than ever you are as young as you feel. So stop acting your chronological age and get out there and start feeling peppy!"

I admit it...the older I get, the more I resist the idea of looking and acting old. I mean, I know I have to be realistic...I'm definitely not young anymore, and I couldn't look like a teen-ager if I wanted to. However, I do want to be the very best (mumbling my age under my breath)-year-old woman I can be!

Inner Beauty

Of course, I believe inner beauty is the most important thing of all. A woman in her twenties may be absolutely gorgeous while being ugly on the inside...but by the time she gets to be my age, believe me, that ugliness is showing up on her face.

But I think it's important for a woman to at least try to look attractive. I have to laugh when I remember something my dad used to jokingly say: "Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone!"

"How Not to Look Old"

A few years ago, I blogged about Charla Krupp's book, How Not to Look Old. Now, Charla's pretty opinionated about some of the wardrobe items she thinks we need to get rid of in our quest for a more youthful appearance, and I can't say I agree with her on every point...but here's the list:

Holiday sweaters with bells and appliqu├ęs (reindeers, teddy bears, bumblebees, pumpkins).
Granny necklaces that tell how many grandchildren you have.
Souvenir T-shirts.
T-shirts with meant-to-be funny sayings.
Acid-washed jeans.
Ripped jeans.
Shoulder pads.
Flannel shirts.
Muumuus. (**Does this really need to be stated?)
Photo handbags (the older you get, the more sophisticated your accessories should be).
Flesh-colored hose.
Penny loafers.
Oversize blazers.
Mommy robes.
Thin gold chain necklaces.
Elastic-waist pants.
Granny undies.
Baggy sweats.
Bearlike, full-length fur coats.
Short shorts.
Cargo pants.
Stockings with reinforced toes.
Three-piece suits with vests.

Now, I don't agree with her on everything, but it's certainly worth thinking about. Sometimes it can be as simple as changing your hair color, covering your gray, or getting rid of your 80's poodle-perm. We tend to get stuck in a rut, and sometimes we have to take a good hard look at ourselves and see what could be improved. If we look better, we're going to feel better--and you're as young as you feel!

I will not go gently into age-induced frumpiness!!!

Check out my book blog, Cindy's Book Club, where I'm currently reviewing Mel Starr's A Trail of Ink!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

From the Archives: The "I'd Rather" Ladder

My dream car

(Note: I originally posted this on June 12, 2009, but it's still a fun idea--if you have a blog, play along--or even put it in your Facebook notes!)

Got this from my friend Jeremy on Facebook the other day, and thought it would be fun to do here. I can't resist these goofy quizzes!

THE EVER GROWING SURVEY! INSTRUCTIONS Given the choices, which would you rather do? Answer honestly and quickly. After you answer the current three choices given, think of and add FIVE choices of three to the survey. Then tag the person back who sent this to you and tag one new person as well. Let's see how much we can make this survey grow! To take and grow The "I'd Rather..." Ladder challenge, copy and paste this note as a new note and replace with your own choices and answers)

1. Conan O'Brien or Jay Leno or Neither

2. People's Court or Judge Judy or Neither

3. Skinny Dipping w/ Friends or All Out Water Fight or Neither
Uh, neither!

4. Fall Nights or Spring Mornings or Neither
Spring mornings

5. Board Games or Truth or Dare or Neither
Board games

6. French Fries or Tater Tots or Hashbrowns
Actually, I'd rather have a baked or sweet potato!

7. Watching movies at home or Clubbing with friends or Playing pool at the local dive
Watching a Movie

8. Suit or Jeans and a tee or nothing at all
Those are the only options???

9. Blondes or Brunettes or Red heads
On who? When my hubby had hair, it was blond, so I guess I'll go with that :)

10. Ford or Chevy or Dodge
No preference here. My dream car is the Chrysler 300.

11. Camping or Hotel or Neither
Hotel...DEFINITELY. Got to have my modern conveniences!

12. Coffee or Tea or Neither
Actually, both. Gotta have my morning coffee, but love to indulge in a lovely cup of tea.

13. Farm Town or YoVille or Neither

14. CNN or FOX NEWS or Neither
Fox News

15. Kris Allen or Danny Gokey or Neither
Go Go GOKEY!!!!

16. Jean Claude Van Damme or Steven Segal or Neither

17. PC or Mac or Neither
I've never used a Mac but would love to...everyone says they're wonderful

18. Be Up Too Early or Be Up Too Late or Neither
Up too late--although that rarely happens

19. Christmas or 4th of July or Neither
I love both--can't decide!

20. Tan Lines or No Tan Lines or Doesn't Matter
How about no tan at all?

21. Qdoba or Chipotle or Neither
Chipotle's OK, but you can't beat TexMex like Chuy's

22. Sixteen Candles or Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club
Sixteen Candles

23. Vanilla or Chocolate or Neither
Chocolate...without a doubt!

24. Flip flops or sneakers or Neither
Flip flops

25. Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat or Neither
Oatmeal...especially the maple and brown sugar variety

26. Comedy or Action or Drama
How about romantic comedy? That's my favorite

27. Sunday Comic Strips or Comic Books or Neither

28. Superman or BatMan or Wonder Woman
Batman, especially if played by Christian Bale!

29. BBQ Ribs or Grilled Chicken or Grilled Steak
Grilled Steak

30. Single Life or Married Life or I Wish I Had a Life
Definitely married

31. Live in the Artic Circle or Siberia or Minnesota
Please, none of the above!

32. Rootbeer or Banana or Cherry Popsicle

33. Step in Dog Poop or Chewing Gum or A Dead Squirrel While Barefoot
Uh, none of the above!

34. The Smell of Flowers or Coffee or Bread Baking in the Oven
A toss-up betweent the coffee and the bread...both tantalizing fragrances!

35.Be Blind or Be Deaf or Missing an Arm
Goodness! Please, none of the above.

36. HERO'S or LOST or Neither
Lost, of COURSE!

37. Double Mint or Spearment or Juicy Fruit
Juicy Fruit...although my favorite these days is Orbit Bubblemint

38. MilkyWay or Snickers or Three Musketeers
Three Musketeers has always been my favorite

39. Jim Carrey or Robin Williams or Neither
Jim Carrey...if he's not being TOO over the top

40. Double Bubble or Super Bubble or The OLD Hubba Bubba (80's)
Super Bubble...although, see 37

OK, here's my five extra:

41. Shower or bath or neither?
Depends...usually prefer showers in the summer or when I really need to be woken up; baths for luxurious soaking.

42. Coke or Pepsi or neither?
Used to be a Coke girl all the way, but I don't drink any kind of pop now that I know I'm Type 2 diabetic. I do miss the occasional ice cold can of real Coke!

43. Crunchy or creamy peanut butter or neither?

44. Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers or neither?
Sorry Wisconsinites, I have to go with the Bears!

45. White bread or wheat, or neither?
Wheat or multi-grain...the healthier the better!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

...these are a few of my favorite Irish-related things...

Note: Yes, this is a repeat from the archives, but it sums up a lot of how I feel about all things Irish!

"Ireland is a land of poets, story-weavers and dreamers -- all of which I can relate to. The tiny island has gifted us with writers like Jonathan Swift, W.B. Yeats and Maeve Binchy; musicians like U2, Van Morrison and the Chieftains; actors like Daniel Day-Lewis, Pierce Brosnan and Richard Harris; and a host of noted Americans of Irish descent, from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan. Thanks to my husband, I have a Swedish surname, but the green in my eyes reflects the green in my soul. I'm proud of whatever Irish flows in my blood."--Cindy Swanson (my quote that was included in a 2004 St. Patrick's Day feature in the Rockford Register Star)

Maeve Binchy...B.J. Hoff...Frank Delaney's "Ireland"

It took me years to realize that a lot of people use St. Paddy's Day as an excuse to party and get drunk. The day still has happy connotations for me of being a kid in school and making sure I was wearing my green so I wouldn't get pinched. Just in case you forgot to wear green, though, you could also pin on a green construction-paper shamrock!

Now, I use it as an excuse to reflect on my Irish heritage, dream about visiting Ireland someday, and think about some of my favorite Irish-related things.

Scroll down for my review of a wonderful book about Ireland...

Maeve Binchy
Favorite Irish author: Maeve Binchy
I believe I've read all of Binchy's books to date, and there's not one I haven't enjoyed. Her breezy, humorous and casual style gives the reader the feeling that you're chatting with a good friend, but don't be fooled--her storytelling ability is impeccable. Among my favorites: Circle of Friends, Tara Road, and Light a Penny Candle.

Favorite author who writes about the Irish: B.J. Hoff
It's no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I'm a major B. J. Hoff fan. Her Emerald Ballad series hooked me, and I've continued to be impressed by her absorbing tales which often feature Irish immigrants. When asked why, B. J. replied, "Well, who’s more interesting than the Irish, after all? There’s no danger of ever running out of stories about them!

"Seriously, I love writing about the people who built our nation—our ancestors—and there’s really no way to do that without writing about immigrants. And since the Irish immigrants played such a hugely important role in settling America—and since my own family tree is exceedingly 'green—' I chose years ago to focus on Irish characters."

Check out B.J.'s All Things Irish page on her website for some interesting facts.

Book that started my fascination with the Irish:

The Red Knights from Hy Brasil, by Christine Savery. I blogged about finding this beloved childhood book recently. I fell in love with mysterious and charismatic Shane O'Coghlin, one of the book's main characters, and in fact the book began my lifelong love affair with all things Irish.

My review of Ireland, by Frank Delaney

I've been saying most of my life that I love Ireland, but the truth is, I've had only a rudimentary knowledge of that nation's history. Now, after having read Frank Delaney's Ireland, A Novel, I can say that I learned a great deal about Ireland's history while enjoying an absorbing fictional tale at the same time.

The story begins when a traveling Storyteller--perhaps the last of a long Irish tradition of "seanchais"-- comes to the home of 9-year-old Ronan O'Mara in 1951. As he weaves his tales of ancient Ireland, Ronan feels convinced that he and the Storyteller are somehow connected. When the Storyteller is evicted by Ronan's cold and distant mother, Ronan devotes the next several years of his life to trying to find him.

As we follow Ronan's life during the next few years--his successes and heartaches and the startling revelations he eventually faces--we are treated to more stories, as one reviewer says, "seamlesssly interwoven" into the novel. The stories reach Ronan in various ways--through radio, television, even letters from the Storyteller himself, never signed or with a return address.

I found myself thoroughly enjoying the stories even as Ronan's own story propelled me forward. Tales of St. Patrick, of Brendan the Navigator, Conor of Ulster, the legendary Finn MacCool,the Battle of the Boyne, all the way up to 1916 when the Easter Rising led by men like James Connolly and Michael Collins set the stage for the eventual formation of the Irish Republic.

If you have a yen for all things Irish, I definitely recommend this book. It's a rich, fanciful, imaginative retelling of Irish stories, as charming and appealing as the Irish themselves.

By the way, I kept thinking all along that this would make a wonderful movie. It would have to be sized down, of course, and all of the stories probably wouldn't be included. But I picture it along the lines of The Big Fish...a series of fanciful tales linked together by an ongoing contemporary story.

Gabriel Byrne

I can really picture Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, with a bit of age make-up, as the Storyteller. (They would have to get a younger actor to play the Storyteller as a young man.) And there would be choice roles for actors to play Ronan, his father, his aunt and his mother, and many characters in the tales. Hey, I have it all planned. Is anybody listening?

Have a happy St. Paddy's Day, everyone!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Life Made Lovely: Lovely Ireland

Wildflowers on Carna Bay
It's no secret to anyone that knows me that one of my fondest dreams is to go to Ireland someday. And what better way to celebrate the beauty of Ireland than March, the month of St. Patrick's Day?
I gathered some images of Ireland for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Spring in Kilkenny

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara

Clifden, County Galway


Ross Castle, Killarney National Park

I'm linking today to Life Made Lovely, hosted by Blessed Little Nest. Click on the icon for more info!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

"I'd Love to, but..."

OK, so sometimes we all have a little trouble saying "no." Maybe we don't have a good excuse handy. Here (tongue-in-cheek, of course) is a list of excuses to keep handy for those times when you just can't think of a good one!

I'd love to, but I'm being deported.

I'd love to, but I'm building a pig from a kit.

I'd love to, but I'm converting my calendar from Julian to Gregorian.

I'd love to, but I'm in the middle of counting the bristles on my

I'd love to, but I'm having all my plants neutered.

I'd love to, but I'm observing National Apathy Week.

I'd love to, but I'm planning to go downtown to try on gloves.

I'd love to, but I'm sandblasting my oven.

I'd love to, but I'm seeing how long I can go without saying yes.

I'd love to, but I'm teaching my ferret to yodel.

I'd love to, but I'm too old for that stuff.

I'd love to, but I'm too young for that stuff.

I'd love to, but I'm touring China with a wok band.

I'd love to, but I'm trying to be less popular.

I'd love to, but I'm uncomfortable when I'm alone or with others.

I'd love to, but I'm waiting to see if I'm already a winner.

I'd love to, but I'm working on my cottage cheese sculpture.

I'd love to, but I've got a Friends of Rutabaga meeting.

I'd love to, but it's my parakeet's bowling night.

I'd love to, but my mother would never let me hear the end of it.

I'd love to, but my subconscious says no.

I'd love to, but my uncle escaped again.

I'd love to, but none of my socks match.

I'd love to, but the last time I went, I never came back.

I'd love to, but the man on television told me to stay tuned.

I'd love to, but you know how we psychos are.

--From Phil Glowatz, the UGA HumorList

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Biggest Loser: Marcie's Best-Laid Plans Go Awry

Listen to my 2-minute podcast by clicking the player, or read the post below!

I've gotta say, The Biggest Loser is at the point where it's really getting good. There are fewer contestants, so you can really focus on and get to know the ones who are left...and the changes in their appearance are stunning!

However, I thought this week's episode was a little on the lame side. I don't mind the contestants zeroing in on the emotional problems that made them gain weight in the first place--in fact, I think that's crucial--but it gets a little heavy-handed when that's what the episode is mostly about.

One of the more interesting things about last night's show was the fact that captains were chosen--Marcie for the black team and Justin for the red team--with certain responsibilities.

Each captain had to choose who would cook for the entire team. Marcie chose Olivia for the black team; Justin chose Ken. Both cooks got a taste of what it will be like in the real world when they go back home, and household and other responsibilities force them to carve out time for exercise.

All during the show, Marcie stressed that whatever happened to her team at the weigh-in, she would sacrifice herself to let all the younger women stay on the ranch. And as it happened, the black team did lose the weigh-in--after having a stellar week last week, a few of the women eked out small weight losses, bringing the team total down.

But what Marcie didn't count on was that she would lose the most weight for her team--thereby getting immunity. Anyone could be voted off EXCEPT for Marcie.

She was devastated. But although we didn't get to see how the black team arrived at the decision, it appeared Sarah was fine with being the sacrificial lamb, and she was sent home.

And wow...her home transformation was incredible! I always knew Sarah was a pretty girl, but after losing more weight at home, she was downright gorgeous.

Sarah's main reason for losing weight was so that she can become pregnant. I really hope this happens for her.

Despite the fact that this episode was less than exciting, I still prefer it to the "drama" generated by over-zealous game-playing in past seasons.

What do you think? Were you amazed at Sarah's gorgeousness? I'd love to hear (read) your thoughts and feedback!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

5 Health Reasons Not to Quit Coffee


I love coffee! I consider it one of the creature comforts of life, even though I usually limit myself to two cups in the morning. So when I heard my radio colleague Scot Bertram on News/Talk 144o WROK talk about this article this morning, I knew I had to blog about it.
I'm going to just hit the high points sure and go to the original article for all the details!

1. It protects your heart: Moderate coffee drinkers (1 to 3 cups/day) have lower rates of stroke than noncoffee drinkers, an effect linked to coffee’s antioxidants. Coffee has more antioxidants per serving than blueberries, making it the biggest source of antioxidants in American diets.


2.It diverts diabetes: Those antioxidants (chlorogenic acid and quinides, specifically) play another role: boosting your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar.


3. Your liver loves it: OK, so the research here is limited, but it looks like the more coffee people drink, the lower their incidence of cirrhosis and other liver diseases.

Isn't this the cutest ring??? You can get one here

4. It boosts your brain power: Drinking between 1 and 5 cups a day (admittedly a big range) may help reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Parkinson’s disease, studies suggest. T

5. It helps your headaches: And not just the withdrawal headaches caused by skipping your daily dose of caffeine! Studies show that 200 milligrams of caffeine—about the amount in 16 ounces of brewed coffee—provides relief from headaches, including migraines


Of course, coffee does have its pitfalls, and you can find out about those at the original article as well.

In the meantime, it's good to know that while I'm enjoying my morning cup of joe, I'm doing some good things for my health!

Speaking of coffee....

I have to share the cutest idea I found on Amber's blog, Life...Unscripted. Amber came up with the cutest, craftiest way to use those Starbucks coffee sleeves--make a little coffee recipe book out of them and give it to a coffee-loving friend!

I just had to pass that along!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Life Made Lovely: Lovely Susan Branch

I had never heard of the artist, Susan Branch, until I encountered some of her images online recently and fell in love with them!

Her charming watercolors are so pretty and appealing, I just love them.

Now that I know she's written and illustrated several books, I definitely want to get ahold of them, and I've signed up for her e-mail newsletter.

Susan writes on her website:

"I have loved everything about homemaking for as long as I can remember. Back then, besides cooking, my creative energies went into sewing and gardening for years and years before I started painting.

I didn't paint my first picture until I was 30. Didn't know I could! Came as a surprise when painted the geranium sitting on my kitchen table and it looked like a geranium..."

Enjoy some lovely images from Susan Branch...

You can find Susan on Facebook and Twitter as well.

I'm participating today in Life Made Lovely Monday--Click on the icon for more information!


Note: I do not own these images, and no copyright infringement is intended. Images were taken from tumblr and Google images, with the exception of the last three images which are available free on Susan's website or Facebook page.
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