Book Review: Tour de Force

First off, let me say that this book has nothing to do with fitness, health, exercise, or weight loss – it’s a Christian Romance. Secondly, let me say that I am not a fan of romance novels – I find them to be predictable and boring. So why did I choose to review a Christian romance? Because I am trying to get more in touch with my own faith, and surround myself with things that will uplift me instead of brining me down (evening news, I’m looking at you), and I needed a new novel to read as I had just finished one (I can’t even remember what it was) when Tina of BlogTourSpot emailed me to say Zondervan publishing would send me an advanced reader copy of  Tour de Force to review on my blog.

Isn't this cover gorgeous?!

Isn't this cover gorgeous?!


What intrigued me about this book was the first sentence in A Note From The Author on page 9. Elizabeth White (the author) writes, “As I wrote Tour de Force, I wanted to explore the fact that Christian artists in any field – music, dance, literature, art – often face tough decisions about how and where art infuses Christian lifestyle.” Ah, a romance with a bigger purpose! This is something I could get into.

The book did not disappoint. The characters are real – they are not picture perfect versions of an ideal. They falter, they show the uglier side of themselves, they express the darkness that hides in all of us. I found myself rooting for all of the characters, wanting the best for all of them, not just the main two love interests.

I’m not going to try and paraphrase the book for you; I want you to read it for yourself so you won’t have any expectations, good or bad. But I think this is a good book that addresses some real issues that Christians today face – how much do we share with our non-believing friends, how much should we tolerate/accept from non Christians, how do we live out our faith in every day situations? Honestly, I still have a whole lot of growing to do in my faith, but things like this help me to see what it’s like to be a Christian in action.

I didn’t learn until after I finished the book that it is connected to another book by Elizabeth White. The book Off the Record tells the story of Gilly’s older sister Laurel. I’m going to get this book and read it too, hopefully sometime soon.

So anyway, as for my little opinion on this book: it is definitely worth the read. It is interesting and fun and insightful – how I wish I could write something like this! I don’t think you will be disappointed.

For those of you who are interested, here is some more information about the book and the author:

Tour de Force on Amazon:

Elizabeth White’s Website:

Elizabeth White’s Facebook Profile:

List of all participating bloggers:

The Tour de Force Flickr Group:


I hope you will get this book and read it – if you do, let me know how you liked it!  :)

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The Other Woman Stresses Me Out

Call it the ebb and flow of life, but just when my husband and I seem to be more in love with each other than we ever have been or could ever hope to be, the issue of the other woman comes up and causes an argument. My husband has been involved with this woman since before we were married (and no, it’s not my MIL), so it shouldn’t come as any surprise to me when she causes a stir, and yet I am always shocked at his attitude towards her. In his eyes, she is beautiful: long and sleek, but well rounded in all the right areas. She’s also red and very sparkly. And 21 ft long. Her name is Cobra and she is a bass boat.


(What? You didn’t really think I’d put up with him having an affair with an actual woman do you?)

Oh, the boat issue. I think I have mentioned before how passionate Shawn is about his hobbies – almost evangelical when it comes to the subject of bass fishing or hunting. I don’t mind that he loves his hobbies – I do however, mind how much money he spends on his hobbies. It’s a very sore subject and it’s the fight we have over and over and over again. Well very recently the Cobra was sick and had to go to the boat doctor to get fixed. Originally I was told the cost would be around $200. HA! When he went to pick up the boat yesterday the grand total was $800. EIGHT HUNDRED FRICKING DOLLARS. Now this wouldn’t be a problem if we had tons of money lying around just waiting to be spent and we didn’t have other bills that we needed to pay. But it’s a funny thing…whenever there is something that SHE needs, money is no problem. It can be scraped together rather quickly, but for things like, oh I don’t know, paying off the stupid student loans well “we just don’t have it right now”. So you can see why this causes us some tension.

**Let me just take a moment to say that his spending has never caused us to go without anything. He has a savings account that he regularly puts money into (and takes out when SHE needs it), and if things really got tough he would sell everything he had in a heartbeat. He is a very good provider, and if he didn’t have his hobbies he would be a stress-filled raving lunatic, so the boat money would probably be spent on therapy for him (or me).**

ANYWAY…I was pissed about the boat (again) and I really didn’t want to get into another argument about it (again), so instead I feverishly did some dishes and then grabbed my headphones and headed for the elliptical. I thought that a half hour of sweating might help get rid of the tension. I was wrong. It actually took 45 minutes on the elliptical and another 1 ½ hours of tuning everyone out while I worked around the house with my headphones on. Thanks to Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, U2, Duffy, and others, my mood was lifted and I was no longer angry by the end of the evening.

My original intent of this post was to wow you with my self control and to brag that I was on the elliptical for 45 minutes, but if you read back over this post, you might notice something is missing. I didn’t notice at first either, but was elated when I figured it out. Do you know what it is?


huh? Do ya?






I didn’t even think about it last night when it was happening. My first thought was that I needed to get on that elliptical before I said something mean and nasty. Food never even entered into the equation. Sweet Mother of Gouda, maybe all these healthy living blogs I’ve been reading are finally starting to sink in!

So that’s my Small Personal Victory for the day. What’s yours?

The good time that almost wasn’t

So…the reunion was a huge blast and I am so glad I went! Was I the thinnest girl in the room? No. Was I the happiest? You betcha. There were plenty of women there who were thin and attractive and didn’t speak to anyone outside of their clique, and there were women who had gained a bunch of weight in the last 20 years and spoke to anyone who would make eye contact – which group would you rather hang with? I thought so, me too.

One thing I did learn is that there is a reason I don’t drink much anymore – it’s been 3 days and I still don’t feel like I have completely recovered. I really didn’t even drink that much, but the reunion was held at a bar that had an open courtyard and it was so HOT and HUMID! My hair was super cute when we got there, but an hour later it was curly and sticking to my forehead and neck. Have I ever mentioned that I am a sweater? I sweat profusely – just around my face mostly, so of course my makeup was melted off, but I didn’t really care. I think I drank more than I would have if we had been sitting inside, but we left before I did anything embarrassing…even though I seem to recall babbling incoherently to a guy that I wish I would have dated back in high school…oh crud. I can only hope he was too smashed too remember!

The only downside was…wait…insert tangent warning here…

My beloved Taco Stop was CLOSED!!! Not closed for good, just closed for vacation. Who the heck closes a business for two weeks in the middle of summer???? A family that owns and works the business together, that’s who! I was crushed and heartbroken, but I probably saved myself about 1000 calories by not being able to eat there. I will have Taco Stop some day, dangit, I WILL!!!

Anyway, the only other downside about the reunion was that there were so many people I wanted to say hello to that I really didn’t get a chance to sit down and visit with any one. I’m sure that if we had stayed for the whole shebang, there would have been more opportunities. It was a good experience though and I’m glad I caved to the peer pressure to go. There is already talk of a 25th reunion and I will definitely be attending the whole enchilada when that one rolls around!

Okay, enough about the reunion. We will return to our regularly scheduled ranting and raving about losing weight and working out tomorrow, or whenever.


Who says you can’t go home?

Hey gang!

So…remember how I said I’m 99.9% sure I’m not going to my  20 year high school reunion? Yeah well, that .01% won out. I’m going! And I’m really excited about it. Did I mention that I just decided yesterday that I was going? Nothing like waiting till the last minute! :)

I posted something about not going on FaceBook and my friend Sonja said “well I’m not going if you’re not going” and I said “wha??? I’m not going because you said you weren’t going! Were you planning on going?” and she says, “Well we’re just going to the social on Friday night.” And I said, “Okay, well if you’re going to that then I’ll go to that” and she said, “Okay” and I said “cool!” So I called Shawn and bribed him and then I bribed the babysitter and booked a ridiculously expensive hotel room and at 3 pm today we will be on our way!! I think there are a lot of people who decided to go at the last minute because now all of a sudden all these people that I thought weren’t going, now are going – and these were the people I wanted to see. Yippee!

So of course I wish I were 20 pounds thinner and my hair was longer and I had a couple of super great outfits to wear, but ya know what? I DON’T CARE! Really, my goal tonight is to go and see old friends and laugh until my stomach hurts, not to impress anyone with my super expensive clothes or tiny toned body or long luxurious hair. I did go buy a new pair of jeans because it’s something I needed anyway, but I decided that I would make do with what I’ve got (because I just bought 4 new shirts a couple of weeks ago), and I can do my own nails, and as for the hair, well, it will be fine. The only thing I’m really kind of ticked about is that I have this tiny red spot right on the very tip of my nose. It’s not a pimple, just some kind of little red spot right at the very end, and no amount of makeup will cover it up (believe me I tried). And I’m sure that no one else will probably even notice it, but I feel like I’ve got a big red bulls eye on my face with arrows pointing to it that say “LOOK HERE”. Yeah, nice.

OH! And one of the best parts of going back to my hometown is this little dive called Taco Stop. This place is legendary – they have THE BEST Mexican food, and the first thing you do when you enter Hometown is go directly to Taco Stop for a Sancho Deluxe (apparently Deluxe is Spanish for “sour cream”) and a Coke – OH! And they have rabbit pellet ice (you know, the little round-ish balls of ice) and the fizziest Coke around! I am salivating just thinking about it! I can’t wait!!

I’m going to keep the alcohol to a minimum tonight because a) I don’t want to get outta control and b) I’m such a lightweight that it seriously only takes one 8oz drink to get me buzzing – I just don’t drink anymore, so on the occasions when I do – it takes very little to get me “happy”.

I could probably blather on and on about this, but I’ll keep it short today and maybe I’ll get a chance to post more this weekend. Of course that’s what I said last Friday, and I ended up sick all weekend, so maybe I’ll just wait til Monday! :)

Have a great weekend!

I wish by dose wadn’t sduffy.

Ugh! I am sick. I am at work and I am sick.   I know I said I’d post over the weekend, but I spent most of the weekend laying on the couch or on my bed and doing a whole lotta nothing.  I think it’s just a sinus/cold thing, but man, I am wiped out.  I had to come to work today because my boss is gone and one of the higher-ups in the company decided that the Boss and the Boss’ Asst (me) should never be out of the office at the same time, lest the walls come crumbling down around us. So here I am, coughing and hacking and blowing my nose until it glows like Rudolph’s, feeling crummy and wanting nothing more than to fall into a Nyquil-induced coma.  I even tried to take a nap in my office before my lunch hour was over, but 15 minutes into my dozing, the phone rang and it killed the opportunity.  I took some sinus meds this morning but I forgot to bring any with me, so I have to suffer until I get home.  My  nose is simultaneously stuffy AND runny so I’m sitting here typing with a kleenex stuffed up my nostrils…I hope no one walks in my office…but really I wouldn’t care if they did, that’s how great I feel – I don’t even care if I embarrass myself.  Oh and the best part is that I have a TON of work to do!  Our Regional is coming tomorrow for a visit and I have lots of little things that I have to print out/file/mail, etc, so it’s not like I can just kick back in my chair and suffer miserably, no I have to actually work through this. 

Okay, whine time is over…gotta get busy.   :(

I can finally chill


image credit:


Thank you all so much for your comments yesterday. I am feeling much better today, especially since I just talked to the kiddos and they are at gma’s house now. They said they had a good time, but they are ready to come home. Sarah told me that she cried after we left on Wednesday and I told her that was okay because I cried too – I almost started crying again on the phone because it just broke my heart! I’m going to pick them up after work today and we can all come home and RELAX. This has been a loooong week. Heaven help me, I have no idea how I’m going to handle it when they go off to college!! I’m so glad I still have a few years with them at home!

I’ll blog more this weekend – my list of “things I need to remember to blog about” is getting longer and longer!

Happy Friday!

The dark side

I’m in a little bit of a dark place today, guys. Bear with me here while I get this off my chest…

I have been a busy, anxious, worried mess this week. My two oldest kids(12 and 8) are at church camp for the first time – this is the first time they’ve been away without any family. There have been many weekends spent with grandparents or cousins, and the occasional overnight with a friend, but they’ve never been AWAY without family before. The camp they’re at is in the same town that my parents live in, but it’s not like they get to see them every day, so essentially they are on their own.

The night before they left (they left Monday morning) I tossed and turned all night hoping we had packed everything they would need, and just being generally nervous( I played it totally cool around the kids – I didn’t want my nervousness rubbing off on them). I have thought about them constantly and hoped they were having fun and learning a lot. Yesterday they invited all the parents to come and eat pizza with the campers for Family Night, and since I had to take Mallory to my mom’s house (the babysitter is gone for the next two days, so gma is my backup), we all decided to go see the kids. When we got there, they were both a little quiet – I think they were tired and having allergy problems – but they perked up a little after we ate (I think they must have been hungry too). We walked around the camp and saw their cabins, which by the way, looked like a prison camp instead of a summer camp – gray concrete floors, gray walls, heavy black metal bunk beds crammed into a small-ish room, not exactly the kind of place that screams “Jesus loves you!”.  Anyway, after a while Matthew mentioned that his stomach was hurting (this was IMMEDIATELY after we saw one little boy who was probably 9 or 10 years old leaving with his mom – he didn’t want to stay anymore), and I knew what was really going on, but I asked him what he had been eating, etc and he kind of dropped it for a while. Then later he said it was hurting again and I told him to go into the bathroom, then he came back out and started to cry so we went and sat down and I asked him if it was really his stomach or was he just homesick? He said both, so we talked for awhile and he said he wanted to go home…

Now I think I should tell you all that I totally expected this. He’s a homebody and not one to jump right in to an unknown adventure. I tried to prepare him before he left, but I don’t think he really understood. Usually in these instances, once he’s there and he knows what to expect, he’s fine, but if I make the mistake of telling him he doesn’t have to go through with it, he won’t – he’ll come running home in tears. However if I don’t give him the option of bowing out, he’ll usually stick it out and end up really enjoying the experience.

So we talked for awhile and he laid down on his bed and I got him calmed down (he was making himself more upset by trying NOT to cry) and I told him that he really only had one more full day and then Friday morning my dad would come pick up him and his sister (they are done with camp by 11:00 Friday morning, so they are going to hang out at gma and gpa’s until I can come pick them up). I told him to just lie down for awhile and rest and I would come check on him again before we left.

I hate seeing my kids upset like that, so as soon as I left his cabin, I started to cry. It took me a few minutes to pull myself together and – oh did I mention that it’s virtually IMPOSSIBLE to get any privacy at this place? So if you have to cry, you’ll be doing it in front of numerous people. I visited with Sarah for awhile, who is doing really well with everything by the way, and then when it was time to go home, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go back into see Matthew without crying, so Shawn went in and talked to him and told him we were leaving. He told him to just try and stick it out until Friday but if it didn’t get better, to call gma and she would come get him.

I have felt so awful since last night. I feel bad that he wanted to come home, I feel bad that I made him stay (even though I really think it’s best), I feel bad that I didn’t tell him bye when we left (even though I KNOW it would made things worse if I had). I just feel so…so…dark. I’ll be glad when Friday rolls around and I know they are happy and safe at gma’s house.

All of this has been made 10x worse by the fact that I have started my period a week EARLY – I am never early. I am right on the money every month, so something weird is going on – stress and anxiety perhaps? I don’t know but whatever is going on, it’s made it a sucky week for me.

So that’s what’s been going on with me. I have a whole list of other things to blog about, but this has been primarily what I’ve been dealing with all week. I promise my next post will be less from the dark side and more sun shiny cheeriness.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a blog

I’ve been re-reading some of my old posts and it hit me today, just how far I have come. I’ve been writing this blog for almost two years now, and wow – my thinking has shifted more than I realized. I originally started this blog for accountability and for a place to just get stuff out of my head; little did I know it would transform me into a different, better person. The physical change has not been so drastic, but what’s going on inside is dramatically different.

Here’s a brief snap shot of how Jill’07 thought:

• I hate to sweat

• Exercise is torture

• I don’t want to give up my junk food

• I’m such a failure because I can’t lose 5 pounds

• I’m so fat

• I want what I want when I want it (which is right now, btw)

• I’m lonely

• I have no self esteem

• My life generally sucks

Yeah, she was real fun person to be around!! The changes have been gradual and I hadn’t even really realized some of them until I started reading the old posts and thinking about it, but here’s what Jill’09 thinks now:

I love to get a good sweat on

• My favorite time of day is when I can put on the mp3 player and zone out on my elliptical

• I’m snacking on grape tomatoes and cantaloupe and I love it!

• Too much junk food makes me ill.

• If I haven’t lost 5 pounds, it’s because what I’m currently doing isn’t working for me – NOT because I am a failure at anything.

• I’m curvy and I hold a lot of my weight in my lower half – I say that not as a criticism, it’s just a fact and no matter how thin I get, that’s how it’s always going to be. That’s how God made me and I’m fine with that.

• I still want what I want when I want it, but I know that if I keep working hard; eventually “it” will come to me (whatever it may be).

• I have a bunch of blog friends, and I’m making more friends IRL as well. If I’m feeling lonely it’s because I haven’t reached out and made the effort.

• I have waaaayyyy more self esteem and confidence now than I’ve had for the last 12 years, and weight loss has contributed only a small part to that.

• My life is actually pretty okay. God has blessed me way more than I deserve.

I’m glad I did a little reflecting today because it let me know that the small gradual changes can make a huge difference, and I’m also encouraged by the changes I have yet to make. If I keep blogging and reading your blogs and learning more about health and fitness, the changes will keep coming and they’ll be changes for the better I’m sure.

I’d like to keep going and analyze the route of my journey, but alas, I’m running out of time today to delve that deeply. I’ll have to save that for another day. I hope that as you go about your day, you’ll think about all the positive changes you have made and give yourselves a pat on the back. Celebrate yourself and the positive changes!

Happy Weekend ya’ll!

Not responsible for boring you to death – you came here voluntarily, remember?

So it seems my best blog writing comes out of my angst about how hard it is to work out and lose pounds, and since I’m doing both consistantly and steadily I have nothing to write about.  So apparently to be a good writer, I have to be falling flat on my face.  Which makes for some funny blogfodder, but sucks because I don’t want to fall on my face anymore.  Need proof?  Go back to Summer 2008 and read some of  those posts…I’ll wait.




See? What did I tell you? I’m at my best when I’m at my worst!  Ugh..why can’t I make being successful FUN? Why does success feel so…boring? Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure there’s more falling-on-my-face-hilarity in my future, but for now, I’ll have to bore you with the mundane deets like what’s in my garden and what I found in the laundry and …um…maybe I should just stop blogging until I start struggling again… NAH!!  I’d rather bore you with the boring details of my boring life!  You all are a lucky bunch, yes indeedy!! 

Note to self: At some point this weekend, please take one hour and plan a menu for the upcoming week, and then STICK TO THE FRAPPIN* PLAN. Hot dogs and ham sandwiches are getting really old.

So, does anyone like squash (I’m writing my congressman to see if he will introduce a bill to change the name to SQUISH. I like saying “squish”. Say it a few times…fun huh?)  Because I harvested a bung-load of squash from the garden yesterday! I picked about a dozen squash and that’s only the tip of the iceberg compared to what’s going to be picked throughout the summer. If I could send each and every one of you a squash, I would, but I think the postage would get quite expensive at the end of it all. I’m already planning on giving some away to friends and neighbors, but I’m also going to freeze some of it for later. Does anyone have a vacuum sealer? I’m thinking about getting one so I can freeze a lot of the veggies to use for this fall/winter. A couple of my coworkers have one and they say the use it all the time. I think it would be pretty handy to have – what say you in blogland?

I’m supposed to weigh in today, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t lost any weight because of the 4th of July picnic and also eating out on Monday night at Lone Star Steakhouse for the anniversary, and I don’t like to weigh in unless I”m sure the numbers have gone down. Weird? Maybe. Effective? Heck yeah.  Also I have only worked out 2 days this week, and if I don’t work out, I don’t lose weight. Period. So instead of going to my weigh in, I’m thinking of going shopping  to look for accessories to go with my new comforter that I absolutely love:

Product Image

Shawn and I went to Target (pronounced Tar-zhay) Monday after dinner and picked out the comforter because I knew it was now or never, so I made myself decide on this one and I think we both really like it. And now I can finally decorate my boring bedroom – we moved into this house 5 or 6 years ago and I am just now getting around to making it look pretty. Procrastinate much? Hey – any suggestions on wall color/curtains, etc? I have some idea of what I want to get, but I love to hear your suggestions.  I’m thinking of a light silver/blue for accessories (lamps, curtains, etc).  Anyone have any thing different? 

Think about it and get back to me, until then have a good Thursday (we’re one day closer to the weekend!). yeehaw!


*Crabby McSlacker over at Cranky Fitness invented the use of coffee drinks as curse words…I think this trend is going to catch on like wild caramel machiatto.

I’m definitely turning into a country girl

Happy 6th of July! Or as I like to call it “My Wedding Anniversary”.

1996 - so young!

 Yep, 13 years ago today I married that cute guy that I met at a Quail Unlimited banquet (think Ducks Unlimited, except instead of ducks, they have quail – yeah, weird, I know). We celebrated by going to Bass Pro Shops where I bought my sweetie a brand new rod and reel, and he is buying me a new comforter set for our bedroom just as soon as I decide which one I want (it won’t be coming from Bass Pro, trust me), which could take a while because I am notoriously indecisive about such things.  Having our anniversary on a Monday kind of sucks because, really who wants to celebrate anything on a Monday? We might go to dinner or something – we don’t have anything big planned, but that’s okay.  I’m just glad the marriage that started with a shotgun wedding has lasted this long! ;)


So, I promised you all some pics of the garden: voila!  This was the garden 3 -4 weeks ago (I can’t remember exactly)…

 June2009 002


 And here’s the garden as of last night:

grow, baby, grow!

grow, baby, grow!


 Big difference, huh?  Unfortunately the green peppers and carrots are having a hard time, but they are starting to show signs of life.  I think some of the squash are about ready to be picked – they’re getting big! 

I think it should be called "squish" - it's more fun to say

I think it should be called "squish" - it's more fun to say

some day soon, mater, you're going to be on my sandwich

some day soon, mater, you're going to be on my sandwich

fancy-shmancy watering system (no more hauling water for me!)

fancy-shmancy watering system (no more hauling water for me!)

There is a rotating sprinkler head on each corner of the garden so it all gets watered evenly. Nice, huh?  


 I forgot to take pictures of my knitting projects; I’ll save that for another day.  I have also discovered another fun new  pastime:  fishing!  Yes, to my husband’s delight, I have finally gotten over my fear of handling a live wriggling fish and am now able to not only catch fish, but actually take them off the hook and throw them back into the pond myself! This is a huge deal, trust me!  Here’s the pond where an assortment of fish live – we have lots of perch, some crappie, a few bass, and a large 21 pounds catfish named Walter swimming around in there.  I caught Walter one time about 5 years ago and have not seem him since. If we throw dog food into the water, he comes up and sucks down the food like a vacuum, but he rarely comes all the way to the top – he’s either shy or a diva, we haven’t decided which one.

June2009 008


 Shawn is pretty good at catching the big bass in our pond. Here’s what I tend to catch:

tiny little guy - he put up a good fight!

tiny little guy - he put up a good fight!

 The lure I used is almost as big as he is! That’s ambition in its purest form I tell ya!


Here are some more random pics for your viewing pleasure:

Shasta corners a frog - she was actually kind of afraid it!

Shasta corners a frog - she was actually kind of afraid it!


is this a hydrangea bush? Whatever it is, it's pretty!

is this a hydrangea bush? Whatever it is, it's pretty!


Have a great Monday gang! :)