I've written before about my weight loss.  Here's a visual aid:

Left:  Italy, June 2009
Right: Nashville, December 2010

I didn't really start concentrating on losing weight until last March.  In a little over a year, I've lost 65-70 pounds (it's fluctuating right now; the ice cream I ate for dinner doesn't help).

I started exercising this month.  I joined a gym and everything.

... I KNOW.

I'm having a hard time not being a Fat Girl.  Like, I can look in a mirror and not recognize my own reflection.  Obviously my body looks different, but my face!  My face does not look familiar to me.

Sometimes I open my picture folder and stare at the photos, searching for the image I have of myself.  Sometimes I find it, and sometimes I don't.  It's so WEIRD, acknowledging this shift between perception and reality.  And there's a little bit of mourning, too, because I didn't realize that I was changing this much, and I didn't have a chance to adjust because it seemed to come out of nowhere.

I feel like ... I feel like I'm in witness protection, almost.  Like the past 7-8 years--the years I got fat and stayed that way--have been erased and I'm starting with nothing.  I honestly don't know how to move forward.

So.  This was depressing.  Here, have a cat.


Home Improvement

One of the best things about OWNING as opposed to RENTING is that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, to whatever I want.  I cannot tell you what satisfaction it gives me to vaccuum at 1:30 in the morning, or to visit the paint counter with actual intent to buy.

With that said, I have some more things to show off.

It came with all its drawers and hardware; I forgot to take a picture before I'd started improvements.
I bought this dresser from a Craigslist seller for $25. When my mom and I went to pick it up, she told me not to buy it. It wasn't in the best condition, I admit, but I had a plan.

My $25 Craigslist dresser has become my totally unique dining room buffet. Some primer and a couple of coats of paint went a long way to making it more attractive. The insets are scrapbook pages cut to a template and glued to the drawers, and the formerly yellow brass handles are spray-painted with Oil-Rubbed Bronze (my go-to metallic).


I had to sand that spray paint off. It was offensive.
This lamp, with a shade (I used it on the other lamp), set me back a cool 15 bucks at a thrift store. You can see it has some of the same ugly green as my other lamp, but what you can't see is that, underneath that orange spray paint (that's my doing, by the way, because I started painting before I remembered to take a picture) is some kind of floral fantasy that was somebody else's bad idea.

When the orange spray paint didn't work out, I had to set this project aside for a while because I couldn't find the right color. I knew I wanted something in the orangey family, though.

This is craft paint. CRAFT PAINT. I bought it for, like, $1.99 at Hobby Lobby. The metal parts are Oil-Rubbed Bronze (yes, again), and I picked up the shade at the same Brunswick thrift store for three whole dollars.

Oh, and this is another re-wiring job, and I totally did not electrocute myself.

Here they are in my dining room.

Actually, the ONLY furniture currently in my dining room.

My backyard is fenced, but the yard kind of slopes downward, so I have a pretty good view into my neighbors' kitchen, and they can see into mine.  This just will not do.  

I bought some glazing spray paint, but I didn't want to just spray the door all willy-nilly; I thought that would be boring, and I didn't really want to worry about even coverage, because I knew that would probably be beyond my ability.  So I taped a random, abstract-ish design onto the door, then went to town with that glaze.

It stunk pretty badly, and I had to lock the cats in my bedroom.  Fortunately, it was a nice day in February when I did this, so it dried quickly and the house got an airing to boot.

There is still some visibility, so sunlight can get through, and the stripes make just enough of a pattern to be interesting, but not distracting.  I am so proud of myself for having had this idea.



And it is CLASSY.

 This is the only room in the house that has been painted.  My mom did most of the painting, as I was having some shoulder issues at the time.  I did pick the paint color, though.
The walls are lined with bookshelves, and each of them has a theme:

1.  Books I have not read yet
2.  Books for school (an entire bookshelf!  I am disgusted!)
3.  Antique books/Anne books/Little House Books/Betsy-Tacy books
4.  General fiction
5.  Young adult
6.  Non-fiction
7.  Classics/empty shelves

I was so disappointed about those empty shelves, until I remembered that I'd taken about 120 books to the used book store.  Yeah, the credit I got there lasted all of three months.  I'd also taken three large bags of books to the Goodwill bookstore, where I will probably forget I once owned them and buy them back eventually.

Walter doesn't like being left out of anything.
I knew exactly what I was looking for when it came to library seating, and it was difficult finding a chaise.  Everything I'd seen in furniture stores was huge and clunky.  I wanted a Victorian-style fainting couch, so I could practice being a damsel in distress if I wanted to.  Fortunately, this beauty showed up on Craigslist.  I had to drive all the way to Mississippi to get it, but it was totally worth it.

More improvements to come--I may or may not have bought out Lowes' entire paint department.


I'm Magic

Like many new homeowners, I spend most of my paycheck on the mortgage and other house-related bills, which means that the furnishings around here are pretty sparse on account of I'm so po' I can't even afford the other half of that word.

Thrift stores have been a godsend, and I've haunted every single one in the local area, to the point that I recognize the workers and they recognize me.  I am not even embarrassed about this.

One thing that's really helped me as I've shopped in these stores is my ability to envision improvements.  So when I see something on the shelf at Goodwill, it might be really ugly, or broken, or old-fashioned, but I try to figure out how to make it into something I can use and display in my home.

Case in point:
I bought this old lamp for $5.99 after only one look at it.  It was super-ugly, and it was caked in dust, and it had an old-timey plug on it, the kind that doesn't have one metal thingy that's bigger than the other (try not to be intimidated by my technical language).

So I brought it home and looked at it for a while and tried to figure out what, exactly, I was going to do with it.  Well, the first thing I did with it was take it all apart, because that is my MO, even if sometimes it ends with me having to take my car to a mechanic so he can put the inside of the driver's side door back on.  Hypothetically speaking.

Moving on.  I took the lamp apart and took all the pieces outside, where I spray-painted the metal parts and the glass part and the patio.  I used Oil-rubbed Bronze on the metal and Blue Ocean Breeze on the glass.  Then I thought, "Lemme see if I like how it looks if I sand a little of the blue off, so it looks all shabby and whatnot."  It turns out that I don't like that look at all.  AT. ALL.  So I had to sand the glass part and remove all the paint, and then repaint it.  Way to go, genius.

I bought a lamp kit at Home Depot and actually read the directions wired the whole lamp without electrocuting myself--though I did wear rubber-soled shoes, just to be safe.  It totally works, AND I am still alive to boot!  Miracles!

Attention hog!

The shade came from another lamp that I bought at a different thrift store.  It was pretty yellowed with age, though, so I had to rehab it.  And by "rehab it," I definitely mean "bleach the daylights out of it."  That shade sat in my bathtub for a week, and the tub itself ran yellow with years of accumulated yuck.  The trim around the bottom was originally gold; now it's silver.  I don't play when I bleach stuff.

My success with this lamp has turned me into a spray-painting fool!  I spray-paint everything.  EVERYTHING!!  In fact, some weekend I'm not going to have anything to spray-paint, and my neighbors are going to think I've died; that's how much I do it.

Little by little, I'm putting things in order.  Thrift shop finds are all OVER this house, and I plan to post more of my DIY home improvements eventually.

When the spray-paint dries.


What I Have Learned

If you adjust your tire pressure while wearing three inch heels, your thighs will hurt for days.


Dress Stress

A friend of mine is getting married in July, and I get to be the maid of honor.  I wanted to be the officiant, but apparently Presbyterian churches in Canada don't really like people who've been ordained on the internet to preside over weddings, or something.  Fun-killers.

My friend (D) said she doesn't really care what I wear.  As a matter of fact, D doesn't really care about this wedding; her fiance is the one who's all gung-ho about it, and insisting on the big church wedding with all the fixin's, which is the opposite of what usually happens.  Anyway, the fiance's daughters were freaked out that D hadn't picked her colors yet ("Blush and bashful," I told her.  "BLUUUUUUSH.  and BAAAAAASHFUL."), so D made a quick decision which was that we should each wear a black dress, and she doesn't want to be involved further than that.

You'd think that finding a black dress that one could wear in an afternoon wedding would be fairly simple.  You would be wrong.

I hate shopping, and right now, I'm not really sure what size I am, and I keep heading over the the plus-sized racks, even though I don't need to anymore.  I was talking to D about this yesterday, about how I still see myself as the Fat Girl, and so I have a hard time finding something I like enough to try on; then, when I try something one, I'm super-critical about the fit and how it looks on me.  D got kind of frustrated with me last Saturday, when I said (for the eighth time), that I didn't like where a sash was hitting on me because it made my waist look too bulky.

BDD, I have it.

Since we traipsed all over Metropolis Saturday and still didn't find a dress, I came home to do some internet shopping.  First I bought this shirt. IT WAS NECESSARY.

Then I bought this dress.  It's probably made in a sweatshop, but I was so tired I couldn't muster up more than a kernel of outrage.  And you know how brides always say, "Oh, but you can wear it again!?"  I don't.  But I could see myself wearing this one on more than one occasion. 

Provided, of course, that it fits.


Hey, look at that

So I took a few months off; you may have noticed.  I was busy, yes, but I also made a deliberate choice to have one less item on the to-do list for a little while. 

But now ... well.  Consider this the first day of the rest of my blog.

I will start with the highly important news that, at long last, I have applied to grad school.  One of the many new additions to my to-do list (knocking my writing to the lowest priority) was studying for the GRE.

It loomed like a monster.  Not having taken a math class--or indeed, having done any math that did not include figuring the sale price of clothing--was bound to result in my first ever failing grade on a standardized test.  And not just any standardized test, mind you, but a standardized test that cost $160.

So I studied.  Then I studied some more.  I studied.  Then I studied some more. 

It began to come back to me: trinomials and the FOIL method, the factoring equations, applying geometry theorems to polygons, or whatever.  P.S. I do not like math.

The day of the test was sunny and warm, exactly the opposite of what is expected in mid-February.  The temperature was in the high 60s, a week after several snow days (oh, Tennessee, never change!).

I used every single second on all parts of the exam, because I was going to pass it, and I was going to continue my lifelong pattern of being an awesome test-taker, or die trying.

I'm still alive, so you know what that means.

750 verbal, 570 quantitative (math).

I don't know what my essay scores are yet, but I'm not really worried about it.  In one essay, I referenced Galileo, Howard Carter, and ... somebody else, maybe a group, I don't remember.  But it was completely random and right out of my world history curriculum, and I remember laughing to myself about how totally unconnected each of my examples was, but look at me, building bridges.  In the second essay, I used skills I teach in my speech classes to tear apart an argument in a brutally satisfying masterpiece of critical reasoning. I feel pretty confident.

Sure, my math score could have been better, but look: I had to relearn, like, six years of mid-to-higher level math in a matter of weeks.  I think I did all right.  Plus, my school only requires a 480, so I'm ahead, really, if you think about it.

I am a little disappointed in my verbal score, though.  I could have gotten an 800 if I'd studied. 
*kicks ground*


I ... I ... oh dear

I tried very, very hard, but I couldn't get out of directing the spring musical.  Poop.

Yeah. THAT'S gonna be in the musical.*

That'll show 'em.

*No lie, I have watched this like 20 times.  My face, you guys.  My FACE.

Made by Lena