A Healthier Me

Earlier this month I started a 2-week cleanse inspired by MyHealthBeet. I had done a 4-day cleanse with her program before that didn’t impact me too much results-wise. I quickly went back to my old food routine. This time, I needed a re-set from stress-related habits that crept in, such as snacking a lot (and mindlessly) at night, grabbing prepackaged meals instead of frequenting the produce isle, and indulging in holiday sweets and treats too generously.


Since I had worn dresses for the duration of Spring and Summer, realizing that my winter pants no longer fit (even the roomy ones) was a bit of a wakeup call. So when Svetlana had a pre-Thanksgiving special on her Shred program, I jumped in, though the PDFs sat in my folder until after New Year’s eve.


I cleared out the pantry of non-Shred foods over the holidays, and the week of January 4 shopped for the recipes I knew I would like. On impulse I got oranges too, but found out that these are too high in sugar for this low-sugar, no-carb Shred program.


I alternated between egg white omelets and smoothies for breakfast, neither of which took long to make.


Banana Blueberry pancakes kept the Sunday morning pastry craving in check.


The lunch salads were fun too, though as a Chinese medicine “warm eater” this was discontinued after the cleanse for warmer options. Still, I stuck to the program for the two weeks.


On a super-cold day I resorted to a stamppot recipe since carrots were on the approved foods list (but left out the potato), and enjoyed the hearty winter meal.


The evening meals were easy to prepare as well, and I learned more about protein as I tried to find meat alternatives.


A Pinterest post said that one can grow lettuce from home in just water, so I am experimenting with Romaine Lettuce to see where that goes.


I accepted a brunch at a Vegan eater’s house, and during a collage workshop I did partake in a slice of cake in spite of the cleanse. It was about conscious eating, not deprivation. True cleanses are easier to maintain in a vacuum, but I am about setting up a better lifestyle for myself, not going from one extreme to another.


I also went off-plan with the craving suggestions, having walnuts in the evening for their crunch rather than the softer food suggestions pinned to my cabinet. The walnuts were part of a salad recipe, so I wasn’t going entirely off script, and a handful was more effective than a cookie or chocolate bar (or 2, or 3) before.


On a whim I stepped on the scale at the beginning of the program and was a bit shocked that my last check-in a year ago was 10 pounds lighter. The good news is that thanks to cutting out breads, wine and chocolate and sticking to the portion-controlled, non-dairy, clean food program I actually lost 10 pounds in the 2 weeks.


I am maintaining the smoothie mornings and have not yet purchased bread or chocolate to keep in the house. That doesn’t preclude me from stopping at the cafe for a mocha and pastry fix, or enjoying appetizers with my friends at a bar, but being aware of the habits at home will help me maintain the weight and might help me shed a bit more.


Meanwhile, I feel better about having upped the ratio of vitamins in my life and lowered the bread-dependency. I may eventually experiment with the recipes that didn’t strike my fancy, but for now I know myself well enough to stick to the foods I enjoy and not let foods I feel iffy about go bad.


Spring and summer will see me having more smoothies in lieu of meals. I’ve got some recommended movies on my watch list that I am sure will reinforce the semi-Vegan program a bit more, and I’ve found that it is perfectly maintainable.


When I see those ‘what I eat in a day’ features of top models I am always skeptical at their tiny portions, but I’ve found that when using natural foods smoothies are quite filling, and focusing on protein rather than carbs also keeps cravings away.


For me it really isn’t about the scale but about fitting back into my favorite clothes. If they don’t fit by the end of summer, when I am most active throughout the day, then it is time to let go of the wardrobe and invest in fashion I feel good in, regardless of label size.


I enjoy my life as it is right now, inclusive of outings with friends that involve food and wine. Hip Circle Studio workouts keep me active and healthy, and as long as I feel good about looking in the mirror, my clothes should reflect that.


Upgrading my Studio Space

It is pretty telling that with all the documenting I do, I have not taken a single photo of my studio since my last studio view blog post in 2014. As my creations toggled between jewelry making and larger wall collages, I’ve been envisioning an extra table in my space, but wasn’t sure how to make it happen since storage was becoming an issue.


When I met an organizer at a networking event last fall, I blurted out that I wanted to organize my studio after the holiday season, and once I made that proclamation, it took hold. After a meeting on closet organizing, I started sorting through everything.


As I reviewed other people’s spaces in books and thought about my needs, I started poking around for jewelers’ workspaces online, and came across fabulous workbenches.


Not encouraged by the online reviews (arrived damaged, had to drill holes to assemble), I poked around some more and found a local store that carried benches. So I went downtown to check it out.


Jeweler’s Row takes on a whole new meaning for me as jewelry tool and supply stores are discovered.


The in-store sample was exactly what I wanted, and the order was made.


I also ordered a desktop organizer which has Jeweler-specific functions I need to investigate.


After getting it loaded into my trunk (barely) I happily awaited my friend’s muscles to carry it up three flights of stairs.


Initially I held off on assembly to get the closets installed first, but a delay in shelving had me itching to assemble this before the studio was fully re-assembled.


Getting the legs on was easy-peasy, but how to lift up this hefty and bulky piece by myself?

adding legs

I took out the drawers that didn’t change much of the weight (the table top is solid).


After some online browsing I learned to prop it up with a chair, so my trusty yellow chair became my assistant.


A bit of gravity finagling soon got the bench into its intended upright position.


I decided to restring some beads in my collection to get a feel for the workspace.


The drawers have functions I don’t even know about yet.


The catch tray is handy though.


It also has nifty armrests.


Soon task lighting was added, and I transferred some of my tools from the big table.


I am excited to work on my next commission from this new dedicated workstation.


Meanwhile, my shelves are on order for next week’s closet organization. Elfa has a fabulous wrapping station that I modified.


I saw a pegboard wall of beads in a book which this door-installation is perfect for. My beads had been gathering on a tray for years.


I rediscovered many gems as I re-sorted them. I need to pick up more hooks to space them out, but I love the beginning of it.


Stay tuned for the closet reorganization adventure.


I’m days away from getting the new shelves installed.


It feels very empowering to truly invest in my studio space and give my different modes of creation dedicated work areas. While it will still function as a guest room, it was time to adjust the space for its primary purpose.


After all, there is so much inspiration to put into tangible objects!



While last January was a slow beginning full of introspection, this month has started with quite a bit of momentum, and blogging takes away from other activities.


With the impetus of a studio re-organization I am also decluttering my house as a whole, and taking it one room at a time with a deadline of late February. Trying to get it all done this month is too overwhelming.


I am mapping out art shows and looking for indoor pop-up venues for the months that aren’t covered yet (suggestions in Chicagoland are welcome). I listened to the Right Brain Business Plan Webinars and am starting that eCourse this week.


There are blog posts in progress with a cleanse I am completing, works in progress for a new show, and upcoming events a few weeks out. While the content is in my head, networking and social activities are more important to attend than typing away behind a computer.


So the blog may be a bit sporadic until my new routine is settled in. I’ll still try to post on Facebook and Instagram daily, so you’re not entirely disconnected. Thank you for reading and following me.


It got frosty again last weekend.


In spite of the freeze, the skies are gorgeous.


Old snow got shoveled and turned into its own sculpture.


Hibernating included having lovely icescapes on the windows.


It’s neat to see what the combination of heaters and ice create.


My original angel perused the winter wonderland.


Another load of snow came on a quiet afternoon.


Another blanket freshened up the world.


Prompting a midnight shift for this snowplow.


It’s supposed to melt a bit again by the end of the week.


Seasons have an art of their own.

Grown*UP Girls Club

Remember when I introduced The Collage Cafe? This Sunday I got to join the Grown*UP Girls Club for a creative session.


This gathering is Lindy’s brainchild of creating a haven for women to leave all the day-to-day behind and spend some time playing, creating and getting to know other ladies.


The group meets on the second Sunday of the month and includes annual members, drop-ins, and another tier of membership Lindy can tell you about.


Some considered themselves uncreative and bravely stepped out of their comfort zone, and others had dabbled in various artistic ventures.


After introductions we were given a blank canvas and instructed to write positive things on it, in order to set the intention for the class.


Then we selected paint colors to cover our words with.


After a few layers we started cutting out papers. In addition to the two sheets provided we were allowed to peruse numerous art materials in the studio, and it was lovely seeing what the participants gravitated toward.


Washi tape became a popular embellishment, and how can it not with this amazing variety?


We chatted while we snipped and pasted, making for a lovely afternoon of kindredness.


There were two birthdays so we were treated to Sacher Torte in addition to other nibbles.


We also got to try new teas that were refilled regularly.


Some snacks looked ready for a painting.


It was lovely to step out of my regular medium and get back to my collage roots. Some people experimented with rubber stamps and added dimensional embellishments to their pieces.


Mine may get wire-wrapped in the future, but I am pleased with how much was completed in the session.


I cannot distinguish between the creative and ‘non-creative’ collages, can you? Each of these is worthy of an open studios exhibit!


Want to be part of the fun? Check out The Collage Cafe’s upcoming workshops!


You can also visit my bangles and pendants, and peruse a plethora of lovely gift items that are bound to spark your joy.


The Collage Cafe is located at 912 Sherman Avenue in Evanston IL 60202, near the corner of Main and Sherman.


The more I get to know authentic people, the more “anti-resolutions” the input becomes around new years. I agree with not setting unrealistic goals for yourself, especially those driven by ridiculous image standards, but I also like the concept of using the new year as a re-set.


Halfway through reading Essentialism my life became quite un-essentialist, and it is time to re-prioritize.


I caught up on my holiday correspondence over New Year’s weekend.


Leisure books and books about jewelry provided relaxation and inspiration as I hibernated for a mini-staycation.


I did a cleanse last Spring but old habits soon crept in and as the year got busier I fell into the late night snacking trap. In November Svetlana of MyHealthBeet came out with the 2-week Shred program, but it took me until this week to read the program and also make sure the tempting foods were out of the house.


Rather than diet, I just want to be more mindful of what I eat and to stop the eating-while-multi-tasking pattern. If my clothes are still snug 3 months from now, I will review the 2-5 year old wardrobe instead. My body isn’t 20 anymore, and I am healthy and active, thanks to ample workout opportunities at Hip Circle Studio.


Next week I hope to get some assistance organizing my studio closets so I have better storage than the regular explosion on my futon. In anticipation I am looking at other areas to streamline, but I am trying not to do so much pre-work that the professional I called in cannot get a picture of what I need.


My lightbulbs all decided on a fresh start this month too, so I got some replacements and was baffled by the Reveal vs. Incandescent vs. Daylight options (and googling it gets waayyy to technical). I’ll try daylight in the studio and see what that does.


There is still a lot of year-end closing out to do for the business, and one angel got a make-over after being passed over 2 years in a row.


This year’s newbies are getting their photoshoot this month so I have them ready to upload by November.


Whether I will stick to Etsy or use an alternate store (or both) is subject to the legal review and some research still sitting on my desk.


Lots to check off, right? Good thing I have a WHOLE new year!

Frosty beginnings

The new year is off to a frosty start with the ice queen paying a visit again.


Her crown is a bit different this year, but still gorgeous. I watched Frozen for the first time over Christmas, and then read the orginal Snow Queen fairy tale.


In the real world we are facing crunchy ice-capades with cars as the mounds create ice boulders that make parking an issue. Nonetheless, it still looks festive in some places.


I like this Narnia-esque landscape in spite of the cold. The blanket of snow softens the winter a bit and creates a clean slate (fleetingly).


Here’s to a 2016 full of possibilities and an abundance of inspiration from nature and other sources.