May 24, 2022

Transformation Tuesday #72

Happy Transformation Tuesday! I'd forgotten that I still had some transformations to share from last week, so this morning I was trying to figure out something I could transform today in order to have something to post. I was so glad when I remembered the extras! I didn't sleep much at all last night and I'm super tired today. I did clean the boys' bathroom, which was disgusting, but I wasn't about to share "before" pictures of that! Hahaha.

Thankfully, I have some readers' transformations to share... enjoy!

I organized this kitchen drawer at the end of April, right before your post about Spring cleaning and organizing. I took everything out, cleaned the drawer, measured and went to a few stores to find the right size drawer inserts.

When I got back from the stores it took about five minutes to put everything in its place. Every time I open the drawer I am startled at how organized it is!

Amy (Austin, Texas) 

Amy, I know the feeling! After I wrote that post and several people suggested I get rid of extra things--like extra sets of measuring cups, for example. After about 10 minutes, I couldn't believe how much better the drawer looked. Like you said, it's a nice surprise to open the drawer and see it look neat and organized!  -Katie

I wish I had a craft room but I use part of our dining room. Having to home school from the dining room table from January 2021 to March 2021 resulted in my craft area becoming a dumping ground. So when my son went back to school for three weeks before Easter I started tidying up because not being able to craft made me sad.

I made a huge purchase from IKEA of Kallax units so I finally had proper storage. Only when I started did I realise how dangerous my storage had been, like a game of Jenga. Feels so much calmer and I can find things. As a result I made seven advent calendars for friends and family consisting of 24 different felt Christmas decorations--the photo is just a few of them (patterns from Bugs and Fishes by Lupin as well as the Make Arcade).

- Kirstin, Lytham St Annes, England

Kirstin, you must be thrilled to have everything so neat and tidy! I think everybody has some sort of dumping ground for stuff (a drawer, closet, table, etc.). In my house, we probably have several places, haha. The advent calendars--I am stunned! Seven calendars with 24 felt decorations each? Your friends and family are lucky to get something so special. I'm glad you're able to craft again :)  -Katie

I've been waiting and waiting to send in something for Transformation Tuesdays. I've hated my main bathroom from the moment we moved into our house, over seven years ago. It was very "1990s chic".  But there were so many other pressing projects around the house that our bathroom kept getting pushed further down the list.

In November, my husband *tried* to take a shower and the shower valve broke off in his hand. It broke off from the pipe in the wall behind the tile. The only way to fix it was to rip out the tile and part of the wall. Since we hated our bathroom, we figured it would be a good time to remodel. Nothing in our house was built correctly, so we ripped the bathroom back to studs and started from scratch.

My husband used to work for a contractor so we did all of the labor ourselves. We did hire an electrician, plumber and drywall finisher. The plumber is coming this week to hook up the tub, vanity and toilet. The electrician is coming to hook up the in-floor heat system. We still have to tile the shower. But, I couldn't wait anymore to share just this one view of my "new" bathroom. 

The first is a picture of our previous vanity.  I wanted something different this time, so I found an antique oak buffet.  My husband converted it into our new vanity. It turned out just the way it looked in my head.  I love it. I will send more pictures, once the tub is hooked up (it's a 1935 claw foot), and once our shower is complete. 


Jenn, it's absolutely stunning! It doesn't even look like the same space. I never, ever would have thought to convert a buffet into a vanity; it looks so unique and pretty. I think your claw foot tub will be the perfect compliment to the new vanity. I'm excited to see it!  -Katie

Last weekend we cleaned and organized our utility closet (where we store the linens) and I forgot to take any pictures! But this small transformation is an outgrowth of that project: pillowcase refurbishing.

Over the years sheet sets have worn or ripped beyond repair, but the pillowcases have remained in basically good shape. But they too have eventually gotten frayed, especially around the opening edges and the corners. Rather than throw them away or repurpose the fabric, I simply re-serged the bottom side, sewing up and strengthening that seam. On the frayed edges, I simply did a very small hem that I turned over twice. This gives me a half dozen or so extra pillow cases, which come in handy!


Deb, I don't know why it never occurred to me to do that with pillowcases, but it's so smart! You're right, you can never have too many pillowcases. I always love how the fabric feels when pillowcases get worn with time, so it's a bummer when they get holes. I'm for sure going to salvage my pillowcases when they need it. They look great!  -Katie

Thank you so much for sharing your transformations! When people send transformation emails, a lot of them say that they were waiting for a good transformation to share. Remember, you don't need to wait for a huge transformation before sharing! The little things count, too, and can make just as big of a difference. Just something to keep in mind :) 

Please keep the transformations coming--just send a before picture and an after picture to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com, and make sure to include your name and a description of your transformation. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

May 23, 2022

Did You Know? Facts

I have a busy day today and I know I'm not going to want to write when I get home from Eli's baseball game tonight, so I'm just going to quickly post some of the "random facts" from my calendar that I found interesting this week...

Thirty gallons of water! That's insane. Since a gallon of water weighs roughly 8 pounds, that would mean a camel could drink 240 pounds of water in 15 minutes. Since camels weigh about 1,000 pounds, they are drinking nearly 25% of their body weight in water--in 15 minutes. That would be like me drinking 37 pounds of water! (These are rough numbers from a quick Google search.)

I've always thought of cats being incredibly smart, but as soon as they see a laser pointer, it's like they completely forget they are supposed to "act cool" ;)  My cats get bored with the laser pointer pretty quickly, though, so it made me wonder if fish do, too--or if fish are attracted to it like mosquitos are attracted to lights. Joey loves the laser and will never, ever get bored with it!

When I started reading this, I knew it was listing types of something, but I never guessed it would be mushrooms! They sound so unappealing--Weeping Toothcrust? Elbowpatch Crust? Hairy Nuts Disco? If I had time right now, I'd google pictures of all of them, but if they look like the names make them sound, well... gross!

Cat videos! Basically the best part of the entire internet. There are so many times that I wish I had a video of something my cats did--I don't know how people manage to get spontaneous funny and/or cute videos of cats. But they are definitely entertaining! I think cat videos are one of those things that you can't be satisfied with just one; you keep saying, "just one more".

Okay, I've got to head out, so I hope you find these random facts to be an interesting start to the week! :)

May 22, 2022

VEGAN RECIPE REVIEW: Vegetable Biryani

When I chose a vegan recipe to try this week, I came across this dish called biryani on Pinterest. I'd never heard of it, but when I looked at the ingredients, it sounded like something I'd love. The recipe is from Dinner Then Dessert (I'll link to it again at the end of this post) and this is how the site describes the Vegetable Biryani:

"Vegetable Biryani is a bold and flavorful Indian rice dish with bell peppers, peas, carrots and potatoes in a spiced rice dish made with turmeric, garam masala and other warm spices."

I love anything with rice--especially basmati rice--but it was the bell peppers, peas, potatoes, and cauliflower in this dish that called to me. The ingredients list: olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato, peas, carrot, potatoes, bell pepper, celery, cauliflower, cayenne pepper, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, vegetable broth, and basmati rice. Quite a long list! But considering a lot of it was the spices, it wasn't bad. Prepping the vegetables is the time-consuming part.

Oh! And this is hilarious--embarrassing at my expense, but funny enough to share. One of the ingredients was listed, "2 stalks celery thinly sliced". I have no idea where my brain was, but clearly it wasn't in my head at that moment. Instead of slicing the celery crosswise, I sliced it lengthwise. I remember thinking how odd it was that I was supposed to slice the celery like that. Then after I took the picture below, it hit me. Duh! So I just pulled them out and sliced them crosswise.

The best part about this Vegetable Biryani dish? It's all done in one pot--including the rice! I love one-pot meals. Not because using several pots means more cleaning (although that's great too!), but because it's so nice to just let something cook and when it's done, it's done. You don't have to time the different foods to be done cooking at the same time.

For the Vegetable Biryani, first you cook down the onions, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes in water until the water has evaporated. Apparently, my brain was still on the celery because I added that in by accident. (I'm sure it didn't make much difference.)

Then you basically just add everything except for the rice: 

Bring it all to a boil, then add the (rinsed) basmati rice. Then I just had to cover and reduce the heat to low and let it cook until the rice was done (about 20 minutes). The house smelled great while it was cooking!

When I opened the pot, I loved that it was done and I didn't have to do anything else except eat.

Unfortunately, nobody was home to taste this! This recipe made six servings, and I was the only one to eat it. Jerry was away for a guys' trip and my kids were with friends.

I really liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. There was something about it--I think maybe it needed more heat?--that would have made it better. I like all of the components of the dish, so it must have been the ratio of spices that I wasn't totally crazy about. Or maybe it was the celery! Hahaha.

I would make this again; I would just change up the ratio of spices. I would add a LOT more peas and cauliflower, too! It would be a super easy dish to make a few changes--staying with the one-pot meal, you can just change up whatever spices and/or veggies you want and have something totally different.

Wait a second...

It just occurred to me at this moment that I made this when I had COVID. Maybe that's why the flavors didn't knock my socks off? So basically, you can completely forget my opinion of it. I didn't lose my sense of taste and smell entirely, but due to being congested, everything was a little bland while I was sick.

In conclusion, this was probably spicy and delicious. You can find the full recipe on Dinner Then Dessert.  ;)

May 21, 2022

Crafting Organization

I had totally prepared to write my vegan recipe review today (I even cooked it earlier in the week so I wasn't scrambling at the last minute) but I got WAY too involved in a project today.

Yes, that's right. ME--getting too involved in a project? Never!  ;)

It all started a couple of days ago when I made that little cushion for the console/seat piece of furniture that I have in my bedroom. I love the piece and had intentions of painting it, but then carpal tunnel happened, and you know the rest.

Unfortunately, the cats weren't really interested in it. I know, another big surprise, right? They sure did love trying to grab the thread from my sewing machine while I was making it, but that was about the extent of it.

I have been desperate to get rid of these old hideous cat beds (they're like miniature cat trees--and we have two of them). They've clearly been well-loved by the cats, but they really need to go in the trash. I had a hard time even finding a picture of one because I try to keep them out of pictures; but here is what they look like:

See what I mean? I took one of them apart in the garage recently with the intention of covering it with something new, but the whole thing was cheaply put together with cheap materials and I figured I'd just make something else.

Which leads to yesterday...

We have two cat beds that all of the cats love. The quality is nice and they don't look nearly as bad as the cat tree things.

They're nothing special, but the cats really like them. So, I decided to make a couple more of them. (I didn't make the first pair; but they looked simple enough to make something similar.) I still have a TON of leftover gray canvas fabric from when I was going to attempt to reupholster a couch (good GRIEF, what was I thinking?!) so I used that to make the new beds.

Not perfect, but I really like how they turned out! I was excited for the cats to check them out. And wouldn't you know it, they gave them a quick once-over and then totally ignored them. The beds took me two days to make! From now on, my cats get just Amazon boxes. Win-win.

Actually, Duck did sleep on one for a little while--I think he felt sorry for me.

Anyway, working on the cat beds was more time-consuming than it should have been because I have half of my crafting stuff in the garage and half in the house. I don't have a dedicated craft room (they would be a total luxury!) or even a dedicated craft "spot" really. I just use my dining room table, living room floor, garage floor, or table in the garage. But I still have the problem of going back and forth for my supplies.

And that brings me to my big project today. I decided I was going to organize all of my craft stuff.

To be fair, I have gotten rid of a LOT of crafting things over the past couple of years (in December, I even got rid of all of my yarn because of what happened with Duck eating four feet of it). Maybe it was less, but I think I remember the vet saying four feet. Beside the point.

Now, most of my craft stuff (not including my woodworking stuff in the garage) consists of my sewing machine, my serger, quite a bit of fabric, lots of thread, and all the little things that go with sewing--buttons, pins, scissors, etc. When you put it all together, it's a lot of stuff!

It may not look like it here, but once you take everything out of the boxes and containers, it's like an explosion of sewing notions. That chest on the left contains fabric (as does the garbage bag); the gray and white box has a ton of notions; the cream-colored case is my sewing machine; the wooden case contains even more notions plus lots of thread; and that floral case in the corner contains my serger (the case is WAY too big for the serger--it was a hand-me-down case). 

I would love to somehow get everything into one place to make it easier when I want to sew something. The biggest problem is the sewing machine and serger. I don't have a dedicated table for either of them and the cases are pretty big. I looked up some woodworking plans to build a sewing table, but they take up so much room. I just don't have space for a table.

So, I guess right now I just want to find a solution to get all of my sewing notions and fabric into one organized, portable place. I can sort and fold the fabric (again) and keep it in the chest. But for the rest... if any of you have suggestions, feel free! I really like to sew, but a lot of times I won't even bother because it's too much of a pain to get everything out (and then put it all away when I'm done).

Okay, I feel like my bipolar disorder really showed through on this post! Hahahaha. Normally, I'd try to fix it so I don't sound like I was snorting cocaine all day, but I still have a lot to put away just so I can get into my bed tonight. I'll have to work on this some more tomorrow!

May 20, 2022

Friday Night Photos

Happy Friday! Out of nowhere this morning, I was hit with horrible anxiety. I have no idea what triggered it, but I suspect it may be because I'm going to coach cross country again this year. I coached from 2014(?) to 2019, and then there were a couple of parents that I just couldn't deal with. So, I didn't coach from 2020-2021. Yesterday, however, I decided to coach again this year. Starting all over, with a new group of kids, is going to be moderately terrifying, haha. It will be Renee and I coaching together again.

I have a few random pictures from this past week...

This is kind of a dumb project that I've been meaning to do for a long time and just haven't done it. I have a Pottery Barn console/bench that I got on Marketplace ages ago and I've never painted it (my carpal tunnel acts up really badly when I paint). But it's not under the windows in my bedroom, so I cleared all the random stuff off of it and I used and old blanket and some fabric to make a cushion for the top. That way the cats can sit on there and I can hopefully get rid of a couple of their cat beds hanging around the house. So far, I'd say I pretty much wasted my time ;)

Well, except when I spread out all these pieces of faux fur on it. Then Duck was all over it:

The faux fur (with suede on the other side) came from a coat that I no longer wanted. The fur is so soft that I couldn't bear to get rid of it so I took all the seams apart and now I'm going to use it to recover a couple of the cat beds.

Speaking of sewing things, I decided I wanted to try to make thumbholes in my hoodies. I wear hoodies about 98% of the time, and I really wish I had thumbholes. So, I tried a practice round with the buttonhole presser foot and it was nearly impossible to get the thick fabric underneath the foot, lined up where it needed to be, and then be moveable enough for the foot to do its magic. It turned out to be a sloppy mess. (I've done buttonholes before! But doing it in the ribbing of a sweatshirt cuff is hard.)

So, I ripped out that thread and then used some embroidery thread to do it by hand. I really like how it turned out! It's super comfy, took no time at all, and I think it looks intentional. Obviously the mess on the left was from the sewing machine; on the right was from a good old needle and thread.

How funny is that?! I can still remember exactly what it looked like and felt like. My dad used to melt it down and make fishing sinkers out of it (and I'm pretty sure he still does). I asked my older brother, Brian, if he ever used to play with lead too, and he said he used to melt it down and pour it into molds, hahaha. I'm surprised we've all turned out pretty normal! ;)

This is such an unflattering picture, but when my COVID had knocked me on my ass, Jerry took this picture of Duck lying on top of me while I was sleeping on the couch.

Jerry laughs at me because when I showed him this, I said it was the greatest day of my life, hahaha. I am SO BAD AT replying to emails, comment, text messages, phone calls, etc. I always feel terrible that it takes me forever to reply, especially to emails, and I honestly can't remember the last time I cleared my inbox! (I always respond to personal emails, and I don't like to write something generic; so if you email me and it takes me a while to get back to you, I apologize. It's not you--it's just that I have a terrible habit I need to break! To keep my inbox at zero, I'm going to do my best to reply to emails the same day.

Jerry has a lingering COVID cough. His symptoms are gone and he feels totally fine--even with the cough--but he gets this tickle in his throat several times a day. He tries so hard not to start a dry coughing fit so people don't think he's actively sick. I always picture this bird as Jerry trying not to cough!

And that's all I have today--have a great weekend! xo

May 19, 2022

When Your Husband Goes to Rehab (a guest post)

I have a very special (very vulnerable) guest post to share today by none other than my sister, Jeanie! About a month ago, I wrote about how proud I was that a loved one (I was being vague on purpose for anonymity) had made the choice to go to rehab for alcoholism. With his blessing, I am able to share his name and Jeanie's side of the story. (Shawn would like to as well, but he would prefer an interview-style, so I will do that at another time.)

So, in that post, I shared that someone I cared about had chosen to enter rehab for alcoholism. I'd known about his drinking for a while, but as most loved ones of alcoholics know, telling someone to get help doesn't work. They have to want it for themselves. And I was thrilled when Shawn made this decision!

He VERY BRAVELY shared this with my family; it was not an easy thing to admit. It feels shameful, which is why I believe a lot of people don't seek help. I was so proud of him for doing that, and the rest of my family was just as supportive.

This guest post is written by my sister (Shawn's wife of almost 22 years) and her experience as Shawn went through rehab. Before getting into it, I want to stress that this is HER account. Shawn's issues with alcohol are his own; they may be similar to others, but everybody deals with them in their own way. Jeanie's thoughts may be completely different than another partners' wives who are in the same situation. I just want to stress this because she is not writing this to be "preachy" or tell it like it is. This is just her experience.

(That said, while I don't usually delete negative comments, if there are degrading or hurtful comments regarding my sister or family, I will not publish them. She--and others in this situation--should receive support.)

Okay, I'll get on with it... please enjoy this very heartfelt, vulnerable post by my sister...

On April 4, 2022, Katie wrote a blog post about a “loved one” who decided to enter treatment for alcoholism. That loved one was my husband, Shawn (Katie’s brother-in-law). I have decided to share my part of the story because I am not alone and I hope my experience will in turn help someone else. I write this entirely with Shawn's blessing.

I will not go into the personal details of exactly what led up to Shawn entering treatment, but I can summarize that Shawn felt alcohol was negatively affecting his life and that he felt he no longer had control of his drinking.

I give an extraordinary amount of respect to Shawn for getting help BEFORE he hit rock bottom. He still had his job, his driver’s license, his wife, his house etc. Shawn showed that you don’t have to wait to lose all of those things or to hit "rock bottom" before getting treatment.

Shawn may decide to share his story with you, but I will summarize how he sought help (and I most certainly hope this gives someone else the courage to seek help as well). Shawn pursued help through his Employee Assistance Representative (EAP rep) at work. The EAP rep, "C", was phenomenal.

After hearing Shawn’s story, "C" helped determine what treatment program would be best for him and he met with both Shawn and me the next day to finalize a plan. We had a choice of three inpatient treatment facilities: one in our city in Illinois, one in Utah, and one in California. We ultimately decided on the one in California for a couple of reasons:

1) We felt strongly that Shawn should receive treatment away from our area. This would allow him to focus 100% on his recovery and there was no chance he would be in treatment with someone he knew from work (which was a concern if he went locally).  

2) Shawn's stepfather lives only 40 minutes from the rehab center and initially, I thought I would be able to attend in-person counseling with Shawn while staying with my father-in-law. (Unfortunately, we later learned that due to COVID restrictions, there was no in-person visitation.)

Regardless, once the decision was made for inpatient treatment (this means that patient stays at the facility and does not go home in the evenings) things moved very quickly. If he went locally, he would have been admitted the very next day. Unfortunately, he had a nine-day wait for a bed to open up at the center in California.  

In that time, we received a letter from the admissions coordinator containing a list of approved items Shawn would need during his stay: for example, you are not allowed aerosol items; all grooming items are not allowed to have alcohol (like mouthwash); which clothes to pack etc.  

We got everything together for his stay and when the day arrived, Shawn and I both flew out to California that morning.  The staff at the center was waiting for him at the airport. I tearfully said goodbye to him at baggage claim and then I literally ate lunch and had a manicure, then and got back on a plane back to Chicago just five hours later. It was very important to me that Shawn felt supported and there was no way I was going to have him fly out there by himself, so even the short trip was worth it.

The original timeline for his treatment was supposed to be 30 days inpatient. Shawn ended up being gone 45 days  (about 28 days inpatient, then switched to partial hospitalization which is still in the same building, but smaller groups for the remainder of the time). 

In this post, my goal has been to share what the experience was like for ME. I would like to share what was helpful TO ME.  Everyone who has battled an addiction or has a loved one who has or is currently battling addiction has a different story. This is just MY STORY. If you are in this situation, please take what you like from what I have to say and leave the rest. Maybe something I say will resonate with others as well.

I am very grateful Shawn chose to share his story with our family and a few close friends before he left. We did not have to lie and make up a story of why he was gone for six weeks. Being truthful allowed BOTH of us to receive support while he was gone. And let me tell you, we have some of the most supportive friends and family EVER! I received a ton of messages from family/friends justing checking in on me. A simple message like “Hey, just checking in. You ok?”  just let me know someone was thinking of me.

Shawn also received letters, emails and packages from friends and family. Here are some of the fun items we sent to add a little comic relief to a serious situation. As a side note, there are a lot of tears at rehab, but there is also a lot of laughter. Both are important. These gifts were not a mockery of the seriousness of addiction. It was to bring a smile to Shawn. 

Katie sent him these socks and Shawn's roommate loved them so much that I sent a pair to him as well.

I wanted Shawn to feel loved and supported while he made one of the most difficult and bravest decisions of his life. I asked friends and family if they wanted to participate in the 30-day Support Shawn challenge and share what they were going to do for 30 days with Shawn. For example, one relative gave up evening beer, one choose to climb the stairs 30x a day, I choose an extra 30 minutes of exercise a day, one chose reading a self-help book for 30 minutes, etc. Shawn loved this!

Before Shawn left, I bought a digital photo frame and downloaded 300 images of family/friends. He said this was his favorite thing and he would look through the pictures every evening.

There was a problem with Shawn accessing his email due to two-step verification and he did not have access to his phone. Katie quickly resolved that by setting up a new email account for him so he could receive/send mail. Shawn had limited access to email and phones during his stay but it allowed us to talk almost daily. There was a 72-hour “blackout” period when he first arrived where he could not use the phone/email, but after that, he was able to spend limited time on the computer and/or phone.

So that was stuff for him.  But I wanted to also address my needs while he was gone as well as increase my knowledge on addiction.

One of the steps to healing starts with an "impact letter"--a letter that a partner or loved one writes that goes through all of the ways they were hurt by their loved one's drinking. I started my impact letter shortly after he left for California.  This allowed me to reflect and revise my letter before I had a chance to read it to him in a zoom session with his counselor. This was a very important part of the healing process for me. I could write a whole post on that alone, but that zoom call will remain a highlight in my life. It ended with forgiveness and hope. 

I changed my own mental health therapist to someone who specializes in addiction/recovery. I am very lucky because my counselor "J" is very animated and just tells it like it is. He is has been amazingly helpful. I was hearing how much Shawn was learning and growing when I talked to him on the phone, and I felt so “behind” in the process.

Shawn knew what his end goal was and he was being taught a roadmap of how to get there.  I knew what my goals were but didn’t have a map. "J" is helping me with that map. During my first session with him, he asked why I was there. I said, “I need to learn to let go of things”; “I need to learn to stay in my lane in the role of spouse”; “I need to not obsess with the what if’s?”. 

"J" immediately told me that my goals were doable because I didn’t come in saying, “How to do I make sure my husband doesn’t relapse?” or something like that. I was there FOR ME. He is helping me learn I was doing just fine and I didn’t need to take on the world at that moment. 

I tried to take care of me. Although I was working my job as an occupational therapist, I walked three times a day for 30 minutes each time. I often listened to podcasts geared toward family/friends who have someone in recovery and there were several “breakthrough” moments listening to others' stories who were similar to mine and how they got through some challenging times.  . 

I got enough sleep and tried not to take on “huge projects” that would overwhelm me.

I made a “spring cleaning” list and worked on a little bit each day to keep me mentally/physically active.

My mom came to town and we did a bunch of shopping and made a ton of “freezer meals” for up north this summer.

Katie has been a huge support to not only me but to Shawn, also. I called her frequently and found her insight incredibly helpful.

I ASKED friends when I needed help. A very simple example is that I went to get my oil changed and they wanted to upsell me an air filter. I had no idea if I was being scammed so I called a friend and he was able to help me decide if I should buy it (I did).  I also had a house problem and a friend came right over and helped me though it.  These are things I didn’t share with Shawn when he was gone because there was NOTHING he could do about it while there so there was no sense worrying him about it.

I did join a facebook group for wives of recovering alcoholics. This page is great and very helpful. I also joined an al-anon group but left it but it just wasn't for me. (It didn't focus on helpful problem-solving or support, which is what I was looking for.)

I was surprised to learn that it is not always helpful to share detailed information with friends who cannot relate to my situation. Their intentions are usually excellent but some of the “feedback” they had for me was not very helpful. 

For example, a friend might ask, “How is Shawn?” and I would say, “Oh, he is doing great and learning so much!". Rather than replying with a positive response, they would respond with, “Well, you know he is in a controlled environment and when he gets out in the real world it will be different”.

Of course this has occurred to me! I fee like it would for anyone. However, I felt like they were saying, "Well, don’t be too happy because the other shoe is going to drop when he gets home". I spent some time processing this with "J" (my counselor) and Shawn gave me some great advice he learned at rehab: Worrying about the what if’s is something I don’t want to do anymore. It creates a ton of anxiety and the situation I am worrying about may never even happen.

I am choosing to be happy right now, right in this moment, and I will take things one day at a time. So, in sharing more detailed information, I will save that for “like-minded friends and family” who have been in my shoes and can truly relate.  

I also watched several videos that the rehab center sent to me (videos about addiction, codependancy, etc). At their request, I ordered and watched “Pleasure Unwoven”, which is a 70-minute video produced by a doctor who was treated for alcoholism. He makes the concept of understanding that addiction is a disease very clear.  I actually watched it 3 times over a week to deepen my understanding. This is available on Amazon for $30 or you can watch it in pieces on YouTube.

These last 45 days have been an amazing process of growth, greater understanding of addiction, and learning that I am able to forgive. I have learned there is no benefit to hanging onto resentment and anger. 

Reuniting with Shawn when I picked him up at the rehab center two days ago was amazing. I am so proud of him and his decision to make positive changes for his life and for us.

May 18, 2022

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 51

Eeek! Just one more week and I'll hit one year since I started this "back to goal weight" journey after having gained back 46 of 130-ish pounds. As of last week, I was down 50 pounds and I was thrilled with that. I was only three pounds from reaching 144, a "normal" BMI.

And then I got COVID. What a celebration. I thought that it was going to be very mild for me; Jerry tested positive several days before I did and his symptoms hit him HARD for a few days. He slept for 48 hours almost non-stop and he had a dry cough that just wouldn't quit. Thankfully, it didn't last long. And I didn't have symptoms at first. (The kids never got sick.) 

However, my symptoms started a few days after his (10 days ago) and they weren't terrible. I had no idea it was COVID; I just had a very sore throat. Other than that, though, I didn't really feel much different. Then came the headache. Not migraine-painful, but a very intense sinus headache.

Shortly after came the congestion. I was blowing my nose constantly. Jerry even set up a paper bag for me to throw my toilet paper after blowing my nose (we save Kleenex for guests, hahaha!). My voice sounded absolutely horrible--it was hard to understand me.

Jerry's paper sack he made for me:

And the exhaustion. I was SO EXHAUSTED I can't even describe it. While I'm no longer positive for COVID and no longer considered contagious, I just hope my fatigue doesn't last a long time. But I'm taking it easy--it's just really hard to do. I hate sitting still this long when my mind wants to do things!

AND!! And. To top off my sore throat, my ice maker broke! I rely on my ice maker every single day. (I chew ice; and no, my iron isn't low, it's just a habit that I feel like I can't live without.) The ice was making my throat feel better and of course it quit on me. At the worst possible time.

Anyway, last week, my weight was at 147.0. Today it wasn't much lower:

I was at 146.4, so I'm down by 0.6. Not the loss I was hoping for (about 1.5 pounds) but still going in the right direction, so I'm good with that.

This means that in order to reach 144 by my one-year anniversary of calorie counting, I would have to lose 2.4 pounds. I haven't lost that much in a long time, so I'm not counting on it. However... I had a much better weigh-in earlier this week (I won't spoil it) so I hope that I can aim for that again.

The hardest part this week has been trying to get dinner together (story of my life). With Jerry's work schedule, Eli's baseball schedule, Noah's college/girlfriend/work schedule, dinner has just been a challenge. I've made a few dinners that have lots of leftovers and we've been eating those. Also, my mom, who has been a lifesaver, has made a few dinners, too.

I feel like maybe this week was just a bad week to work on this challenge altogether. I have no idea how I'm going to feel from now until next Wednesday for my one-year weigh-in, so we'll see how it goes, but I'll be ecstatic if I can hit 144.

My plan is to pretty much do the following:

-Eat about 1600 calories.
-Do some sort of activity--even if it's not super active. I have no idea how much energy I'm going to have, so we'll see.
-Write in my five-year journal.
-Reply to 1+ email per day.
-Do something outside.
-If I have the energy, clean something I've been dreading cleaning.

So, that shouldn't be too hard for the next seven days!

May 17, 2022

Transformation Tuesday #71

Happy Transformation Tuesday! I don't want to write another "Woe is me" post complaining about COVID (but good GRIEF, it is horrible--today is the worst day yet) so I'm going to try to get at least one or two transformations up today. I actually have enough for two weeks, so if yours isn't up today, please check next week and hopefully I'll be back to normal then!

The worst part about being sick as a stay-at-home mom is that you don't get a break. If I ignore all the stuff that I'm usually in charge of doing, everything would be total chaos. So I don't get a chance to sleep all day. (Jerry does what he can, but he works and I have to do things around his schedule.)

But anyways, I don't want this to be a downer because these are some good transformations to share! Here goes...

While it's a cliché transformation, I wanted to share our landscaping update! When we moved into our house last year I was pregnant, so we didn't do anything to the landscaping except weed it. We really wanted to clean things up this year so we added some simple edging and fresh mulch. It looks so much better! 

- Christie, Indiana

Christie, it looks so good! It's such a subtle change but it makes a world of difference in how it looks! That is exactly what I would like to do with my own yard. I love the simplicity of it but that it looks so clean and taken care of at the same time. Great job! -Katie

This is a very small transformation, but hoping it will motivate me now to start some projects that need to be done. I bought paint several months ago to paint my kitchen cabinets. Unfortunately it has been a very difficult year and I have just been in a funk of anxiety and depression with no motivation to tackle a project. I decided on a whim last week to order new handles for all of my cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. I replaced the old white and brass handles with a more updated look. And in the process gave the cabinets a good scrubbing which they desperately needed. It’s not much, but it’s a step in the right direction. And it makes me feel a little bit better about my ugly kitchen ;)

- Debra

Debra, doesn't it make such a huge difference in the entire kitchen just by hanging the handles on your cupboards? I couldn't believe how different my own looked from that alone. Yours looks very updated--so nice! -Katie

My kitchen re-do has been months in the making. I tackled painting the cabinets on my own. What a HUGE project, but soooo worth it. I hated the dark cherry stain. I had new granite and backsplash installed the past week. All that remains is my new window, it appears to be lost from the factory. The new window has much fewer panes. I’m so happy to have this project behind me!

- Valerie, Oklahoma

Valerie, holy smokes! What an amazing kitchen transformation. It looks so much brighter and more modern. I absolutely love your backsplash. I painted my own cabinets as well, and I give you so much credit for tackling that--it was one of the most tedious tasks I've ever done! But your handy work paid off big time. Enjoy your new kitchen! -Katie

Thank you so much for sharing your transformations with us! It's so fun to see what you all come up with. Every day, I try to tackle something, even if it's small, but since getting COVID, I have a hard time just walking around the house without stopping to catch my breath. Anyway, please keep the transformations coming! I love having a few in the inbox at all times so I don't have to worry about coming up with something. Just send a before photo and an after photo to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Thanks so much! xo

May 16, 2022

VEGAN RECIPE REVIEW: Garlic Mushrooms Cauliflower Skillet

This is going to be a rather short post because this COVID has knocked me on my ass and it's hard to even keep my head up to type anything. I hope you enjoyed Jerry's post yesterday! I just couldn't bring myself to write, so I asked him to do it for me. That gave me a few hours to rest, since he types sooooo slowly ;)

The more I look at vegan recipes on Pinterest, the more I've craved mushrooms and cauliflower. I love both of those vegetables! However, I'm the only one in my family who likes them and so I don't get them very often. Once in a while, I'll buy a head of cauliflower, cut it into florets, and then roast it and eat it all myself. Same thing with the mushrooms, except I like to sauté the with olive oil and garlic.

For this recipe, however, I decided I was making it and the boys could just heat up a frozen pizza for dinner.

I chose this recipe for Garlic Mushroom Cauliflower Skillet by eatwell101. I'll spoil the ending though and say that it was definitely not as good as I was hoping. (I'll link to it again at the end of the post.) As always, I made it exactly as written (with an exception that was out of my control, which I'll write below).

The recipe is super straight forward. Ingredients: vegan butter, olive oil, onion, cauliflower, mushrooms, vegetable stock, thyme, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Easy peasy! (I added more vegan butter than what's shown; for some reason, I was thinking it was 2 Tbsp. when I took the picture but I actually needed 4 Tbsp.)

I prepped the veggies in the morning. The recipe didn't say to cut the mushrooms or slice them, and looking at the picture they were whole button mushrooms. However, my mushrooms were HUGE, so I did end up cutting them in half. Also, my store was out of fresh herbs (they seem to be out of stock on just about everything these days!) so I had to use dry thyme and parsley.

From here, nothing seemed to go right. I followed the instructions, which really stress to brown the mushrooms thoroughly but they were pretty dark by the time I added the cauliflower.

I was surprised that I wasn't supposed to add the cauliflower sooner. As the cauliflower cooked, the mushrooms continued to get darker and the cauliflower barely cooked at all.

I added the vegetable stock (it only called for two tablespoons) and it evaporated immediately. The mushrooms were starting to burn at this point, so I added about 2-3 more tablespoons of water and covered the pot to sort of steam the cauliflower. Finally, it started to work out. After a couple of minutes, the cauliflower was fork tender and the mushrooms were good. However, the recipe kept talking about the "sauce" and there certainly wasn't a sauce to speak of.

I added the garlic and herbs and cooked for a few more minutes and then it was done. I salted and peppered it, then poured a big bowl for me for my dinner--like I said, I was craving it! (Not exactly pretty, I know!)

It tasted good, but very underwhelming. It could very well be the fact that I wasn't able to use fresh herbs, but I think I could make this much better on my own. I don't like to write negative reviews for other people's things, but this recipe itself was not very helpful. It's hard not to see foods on Pinterest that catch my eye!

Since the family didn't try this, the only opinion to share is my own. And I have to say, I love the mushrooms and cauliflower (and garlic!) together, but for the recipe itself, it's not something I'll be doing again. I'll make something similar my own way. I think the biggest mistake was to add raw cauliflower to *very* browned mushrooms. (The recipe stated several times to make sure to brown the veggies very well).

So, overall, it wasn't a *total* bust if you just go with your instincts instead of following it as written. I have a ton of raw mushrooms and cauliflower in my fridge right now (I got a little carried away) so I'll likely make something similar this week sometime. I'd like to make a curry tonight to hopefully clear out my sinuses haha.

Now, it's back to resting and fighting off this COVID. I desperately want to get up and do stuff, but I get so winded so easily and my head is killing me. My book and movies it is, then!

I have some Transformation Tuesdays for tomorrow, which is awesome! I'd like to save a couple for next week as well, so if you don't see it up tomorrow, it's just because I'm saving it--I didn't forget, I promise! But still, please keep sending them--I'd rather have a surplus than be begging the day before ;)

And please please send you cleaning/organizing tips/pictures. I have only gotten a couple of them, so I'm really hoping for enough to make a post out of it. You can see this post for info: Spring Cleaning/Organizing.

Finally, here is the link for the Garlic Mushrooms Cauliflower Skillet if you feel so included to try it!

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