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Archive for June, 2012

Holy back-from-vacation

So let’s take an informal poll-

Is it better to:

1) Never go on vacation
2) Never come back from vacation

After this rocky return to reality, I’m seriously thinking #2!!

However, perhaps that’s also the downside to completely unwinding and unplugging on vacation!

And, in case you were wondering, the dust bunnies, piles of work and laundry and stacks of bills didn’t go anywhere. They remained right where I left the, and didn’t magically disappear. Damn.

So, I feel like I owe you an explanation of my 6.6

I just posted and then ran to finish packing and catch the big boat to Bermuda.

For me, my 6.6 A1c was a goal that was more than a year in the making. Many health professionals (mine included!) believe that an A1c of 6.5 is the best target for diabetes and pregnancy. So, for me, a 6.6 was a result of stalking blood sugars, counting every bite that goes into my mouth and skipping dessert and booze more often than partaking. It also meant regular exercise, constant stress and blood pressure management, and focusing on my health and healthy eating.

In other words, IT WAS A BIG FREAKING DEAL. An accomplishment, a goal achieved and a measure of diabetes control that rewarded my focus on my health and priorities.

So, that’s why a little number has such a big impact on my life! And, it means that we are that much closer to being able to start a family (just a little detail of blood pressure to address now!!).

Now, please remember that I’m not a health professional and that you should work with your own health care providers to develop your own targets to reach your own goals. For me, the goal is 6.5 and after 14 consecutive, monthly tests that were 7.3, 7.0, 7.1 that. 6.6 felt damn good.

And, as if life wasn’t good enough (minus that whole back to reality thing), I also managed to lose a few pounds on vacation. Here are a few of the things that I did differently this time:

1) eat the same breakfast that I eat at home, with the addition of tropical fruit
2) eat a light lunch ( half a sandwich and big salad for me)
3) take the long way and occasionally the stairs (I didn’t actually ‘workout’, but I ended up walking several miles a day by just sneaking it in and exploring the boat or the beach)
4) booze lightly (a change for me, but a lot of sun and a light lunch helped maximize the effects of just one cocktail…)
5) make one meal your ‘indulgence meal’- for me, this was dinner. I ordered whatever I was in the mood for, but made sure to include a veggie an only ate what I was hungry for… I also avoided the bread basket- saving the calories for dessert

This worked for me, but might not for you! My focus lately has been on healthy swaps, that don’t make me feel like I’m deprived. Figure out some small tricks that work for you, when you head out on vacation. Decide on your boundaries and enlist friends and family to help. My goals was healthy breakfast and lunch, minimal cocktails and adding in extra walking wherever I could! I still maximized my vacation and relaxing, but came back feeling great and not afraid to step on the scale!

So, tell me, what are your tricks for staying healthy on vacation? Or, do you throw it all out the window and start over when you get back?

What about healthy goals- how do you celebrate a big achievement?

I took my first video of the 70s night on the cruise… It’s not great, but a fun treat for you! Enjoy!

Why I love traveling with my Father…

This is a little late for Father’s Day, but excusable since I was cruising in the middle of the Atlantic on Sunday..

Hmm… Some might call it cruising (we were on a ship with booze, shows and sun), but others might have considered it being tossed into the 7th level of hell with every toss of the ship.

It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing…

But, let me focus on the reasons for the post…

Why I love traveling with my Dad:

1) He believes there is an appropriate drink for every meal… Bloody Mary’s for breakfast, beer with lunch, happy hour immediately after lunch and wine with dinner…

2) the only time he looks at his watch is to make sure that we haven’t missed the start of the Captain’s champagne cocktail party

3) whatever the destination, he knows a random factoid of history or urban development and peppers every adventure with more info about the location- just enough to remind you that you still have a brain..

4) starting any sentence with “Dad, do you think we should…”, pretty much guarantees a response of “Sure, sounds good.”

5) old ladies love him. Like for real. And, real old. Too funny.

6) he’s all about the freebies- from sharing cabs to attending ship events for free champagne to reading every booklet and coupon possible for the best deals and steals.

7) after getting up and going to get coffee in PJs, his only suggestion for the day’s activities is to change into swimsuits, find a spot in the sun and read a good book!

8) he’s friendly and nice to everyone- which means we get the best service on the boat (and an old lady following).

9) you can pretty much bet that if he thinks you’re a little red, that sonuva witch sunburn is going to sting when you get in the shower.. And you’ll match the tomatoes on the buffet the next day

10) you can wear whatever you want, do whatever you want and say whatever you want- cause chances are that he’s snoozing in a lounge chair somewhere pretending to read a book and getting a wicked sunburn!

Thanks for all the fun memories, Dad! First, Australia, then South Africa and now Bermuda! You are one of the best traveling companions- here’s to more continents and many more years of your impeccable guidance (and fashion advice- flip flops for every occasion!!).


A few pics from the trip so far:









Sometimes it’s all about a number…

A number that has caused sweat, tears, anxiety and then pride.

A number that demonstrates dedication, control and perseverance.

A number that opens up a whole new world of opportunities.

A number that says ‘You go girl, and kick some diabetes ass’.

My A1c hasn’t been under 7.0 in a decade.

Today I flew past the 7.0 mark and landed firmly at 6.6.

For the first time, in a long time, I’m going to put my feet up and celebrate the strength that’s gotten me to this point.

And then I’m going to throw a few things in a bag and take a little cruise to Bermuda. When I’m done basking in the sun (and a diabetes victory), I’ll be back with shopping reports, food pictures and a sunny, relaxed attitude!

The past few months have been quite a journey- thanks for coming along for the ride and providing support along the way!

Who knows what’s gonna happen now? ;)

A few pix of the support staff :P





(plus my in-laws, but blogging from the iPad and can’t seem to find a picture of them to post!!)

Stitch guide- Annie Lane’s Red Porch

So, everyone has kindly been building up my stitch self-confidence (or just blowing smoke up my arse…), either way, I thought I would share a step-by-step guide to one of my current, favorite projects.

This is my first attempt at a formal ‘stitch guide’, so your feedback is welcomed and appreciated.  It makes sense to me, so it may very well be clear as mud to you!

This canvas is currently available from: The Wellesley Needlepoint Collection

Designer: Annie Lane for TWNC

Title: Red Porch, 18 mesh

Mer’s Guide to Successfully Stitching Annie Lane’s Red Porch


Shopping List for ‘Red Porch’ Part 1




# to BUY



Brick Wall Gloriana Rosewood (#012)



Modified Lazy Mer (Roman)
Silk Lame Braid SL97



Chair/Window Gloriana Silver Fox (#002)



Modified Sound Waves/Double Brick
Cement Pavers Impressions #1061



Adobe Paver Scotch Stitch
Ugg Boots Petite Very Velvet V644



Interlocking Gobelin
Petite Very Velvet V645



Interlocking Gobelin
Burmilana #3923



Turkey Tufting
Screen Prisms #P-24



Tent stitch
Flowers Gloriana Delphinium (#085)



French knots
Gloriana Purple Night Sky (#025)



French knots
Leaves Gloriana Granny Smith Green (#053)



Spanish Moss (#048)



Windowbox Any from stash Any from stash



1) Let’s start with that red wall, best to get the biggest section done first so there is less of chance that this will remain unfinished in your stitching room for the next decade.

Using 4 f-ing ply of Gloriana in Rosewood (why do they insist on 12 ply just to torture us?!) work horizontally doing the Lazy Mer stitch.

Note: The Lazy Mer is an adaption of the Lazy Roman/Double Brick (consult a stitch book for a formal diagram).  Start your first stitch on the edge of the black outline of the patio floor and go over 5 holes.  Repeat 4 times.  After the fourth stitch, drop down 3 holes and repeat with another 4 stitches.  This really starts to look like a modified double brick, but remember to work on odd numbers of holes, so that when you do the sparkly long stitch, it’s in the middle…

For those that need a little picture to help them…

Here’s my lovely ‘cheat sheet’:




3) When you have carefully (consumed several glasses of wine) and compensated the shit out of the Lazy Mer stitch, around the chair, the window box, the patio, etc then grab your Silk Lame (#SL97) and fill in all the required end stitches to complete the Lazy Mer.

Don’t understand?  Whatever you do, don’t google Lazy Roman… trust me.  You won’t find a needlepoint stitch guide.  Email me or refer to the Stitches To Go book and look-up Lazy Roman.  You’ve already got the base set, now just add that missing bottom stitch and your wall is all finished!

3)Now about that chair… Let’s go back to that Gloriana 12-ply @#$) in Silver Fox.  Use what little patience you have left to thread your needle with 6-ply of those slippery things.  We’re going to start with a ‘Sound Waves-like’ stitch on the top of the chair and the ‘rounded’ areas.  I prefer to call this stitch the Mer’s Rocking Sound Wave Adaption.  The premise is over 1 (hole), over 1, over 3, over 5, over 5, over 3, over 1, over 1.  When you get to the compensation, make the stitches longer, rather than shorter.  Here is a guide for your stitches:


Once you have the top and the ’rounded’ areas completed, you’ll work the rest of the chair in the double brick stitch.  It’s my preference to overcompensate the stitches- in Mer’s World, that means to make them longer, rather than shorter.  I think with the small space that you have, it just looks better and less ‘choppy’.  Note the compensation at the top and bottom curve of the chair, the compensation follows the flow of the stitch, but is elongated.  Play around with it and do what is pleasing to your eyes, this is what worked best for me (after about 6 different tries!).


What do you think?  Does it make you excited to complete this project?  Will the stitch modifications help you complete another project that you have in progress?  Did it challenge you to try something new on your current canvas?

If the feedback is good, then I’m happy to keep going with this canvas and maybe even contemplate stitching another project on the blog…  I know just the one- from Needle Nicely!  Gotta show the love to both of my favorite shops!!

So, should I quit my day job and become a stitch guider?  Or, keep working to pay the bills and offer a little glimpse of my creative adaptations on the side?!

Happy stitching, friends!

The dog ate my clothes. Really.

So you’ve heard about dogs eating homework, food from the table, vegetables from the garden… but, really?!?! really?!? my stack of clothes set out to pack for vacation? Argh.  Sharing my life/house/life savings with dogs is usually, a genuinely enjoyable experience.

They make me laugh, provide constant love and affection… and destruction. I might possibly have ordered a few things online this week, even though the husband put me on a strict budget (if it’s a great deal, then it’s still adhering to the budget, right?!?).

Upon arrival to the house, I efficiently ran the items upstairs and stacked them neatly on the chest at the end of the bed- my usual ‘packing place’.  Ok, so I was also trying to make it look like I’d had them forever and there wasn’t a thing new about them (except for the tags hanging down and the plastic bags they were ‘stored’ in).

Since the damn dog managed to chew the boob-area and buttons out of most of the tops (it’s not THAT kind of trip- if it was, I wouldn’t be taking my father ;-) ), I’ll kindly keep this G-rated and only show the most moderate damage (on the shirt that I am now wearing as PJs with another tank top underneath…).





















So, in addition to needlepoint class, laundry, packing, gardening, yardwork, housework, grocery shopping, etc. I’ll also be scrambling to replace the 4 articles of clothing that were destroyed in a puppy play party on Friday night. In other news, these shoes are not made for walking (2 miles to Starbucks/Trader Joe’s/Cannon’s LAX game):





















It sounded like a great idea at the time- some fresh air, a stroll along the river, a foodie destination… Well, Lord have mercy on my fat, swollen, puffy, red tired feet.  This new medicine makes them puffier than normal and now I have this lovely red rash making it’s way closer and closer to my knees.

So, I’m thinking that a 2 mile walk, in inappropriate shoes, on a super hot day was probably not the best life choice.  Needless to say, I’m paying for it today. But, at the end of all that walking, were hot, sweaty guys in purple.  That helped my spirits immensely (as well as a few ice cold Bud Lights).




















And, as if that wasn’t a good enough weekend- Bella and I went to Copley on Saturday for some shopping and not only scored front row seats to some seriously awesome people-watching (hello, Boston Pride Fest 2012), but got some free manicures.

Bella always teases me about the amount of glitter that I use in our craft projects… after yesterday, she admitted that I had a LONG way to go to keep up with some of the people that we saw (Mr. teeny-weeny-purple-sequin-shorts-covered-in-glitter-oil I’m looking at you (and drooling)).

We also scored free manicures and gift bags from Sephora for their nail event.  Bella walked away with 5 different polish colors, and I walked away with a need to run straight to my nearest CVS and buy-out their Essie Summer Color line.  So, I did.  Hello, To Buy or Not To Buy:






And, here are Bella’s summer color choices:





















With that update, far more than you probably wanted to know, I’m off to hop in the shower, grab an iced latte and head to my stitch class this morning!

I’ll be back midweek with a stitch update and a stitch guide for you.  I’ve gotten lots of compliments in my stitching class, so I thought I would share my secrets to success (with a fair amount of snark mixed in).

Have a great Sunday!

XO, Mer



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