October 20th, 2011

DIY Laptop Sleeve – Daily Photo

I recently bought a small laptop for nighttime work in front of the TV and for traveling, as my main PC now is a desktop PC and not portable. But my old laptop was huge and so are all the bags I carried it in. So I need a new laptop case, but didn’t want to pay big bucks to buy one, after buying two new PCs in the last month.

So I brainstormed, searched the Web and came up with a tentative design, which I haven’t made yet. But my plan is to insert a padded laptop sleeve inside this laptop “purse” I plan to make. This photo is the one I made of calico, lined with calico and padded with 2 layers of polyester quilt batting. It’s simple, but functional. Perhaps I’ll post a tutorial later on of how I made it…

DIY Laptop Sleeve

DIY Laptop Sleeve

Kathi MacNaughton's virtual signature

October 19th, 2011

Boise Fall Foliage – Daily Photo

Just in the last week, the trees are really starting to change here in Boise, with beautiful fall foliage. I’m seeing lots of yellow, certainly, but also some dark crimson and some scarlet, with a few yellowy-orange ones thrown in. On our way to the river for a walk, I captured this red tree right at the entrance to the Boise Greenbelt.

Boise fall foliage

Boise fall foliage near the Boise Greenbelt

October 18th, 2011

A Walk on the Boise River – Daily Photo

One our our greatest pleasures is our evening walks along the Boise River, which is only a 10-minute walk from our house. The walk takes about 50 minutes and this beach is our frequent stopping spot to give the dogs a chance to get a drink and allow our lab to take a quick swim. Also a good place to see ducks and geese.

We call this stone beach “Martini Beach” because just above it is a backyard of a home where they’ve set up a bench and stump end table and the people who live there are often sitting out there drinking martinis. They’ve got the life!

And that’s my best friend in this picture!

A walk on the Boise River

A walk on the Boise River with my best friend

October 18th, 2011

On Living a Healthy Life

“The groundwork of all happiness is health.” -James Leigh Hunt

Not living a healthy life!

Fat Kathi on my wedding day June 2009

I am a nurse, by background, though I don’t really still work as a nurse (though I do still do health writing).  But once a nurse, always a nurse, goes the saying… And so, partly because of that, I have always been focused on living a healthy life. As I’ve said elsewhere, I plan on living a long life. But what’s the point of living long if you’re not healthy?

So, for many years, I’ve focused on eating nutritionally-balanced meals, being active and avoiding harmful substances. I won’t claim I’ve always been 100% successful, though. In fact, between 2003 and 2010, I allowed my activity to slowly decline and my weight to slowly rise. I was building a business, had a new home… and then moved 3 more times (across the country) and just experienced so much change in my life, I think I forgot to take care of myself properly.

By the end of 2009, I was 50 pounds overweight and starting to feel old for the first time in my life. Those feelings had to go! I hated how I looked and I knew I had to make a change. By that time, our financial situation was a bit better and so we joined our local YMCA.

I started working out like crazy, really focusing on eating much more healthy and I was able to lose 30 pounds in about 6 months. Not enough, but a great start. And I started to feel young again and just so much more energized… and healthy!

Getting Fit

Thinner Kathi

Me, 30 pounds thinner after Zumba

Since we moved west, I was less active than we were back east, where we country danced a few times a week and also took both karate (I’m a black belt!) and yoga classes. But one thing we did more of out here was walk. During the year we lived in Missoula, Montana (our dream home), we walked for at least an hour (often longer) almost every single day. When we moved to a small town in northern Idaho, we kept walking, though not as far or as often, because there just wasn’t much room to walk in this rural area.

Hardly any dancing in either location, though. As I discussed here, country dancing isn’t really that big in the locations we’ve lived in out west, oddly enough. We did take a few fitness classes in Missoula, but they didn’t stick.

But once we moved to Boise in 2007, we had lots more opportunities to bicycle, walk, ski and even do some light hiking, all within minutes of our home. So we kept doing that, but it wasn’t enough to keep the weight off or to feel really fit.

When we joined the Y, I took classes at least 3 to 4 times a week, mostly Zumba, but also some kickboxing. We also took yoga twice a week and afterwards would do 30 minutes on the elliptical and then some weight training. And on Saturdays, when hubby was working, I’d follow up Zumba class with about 2 hours mixed cardio and weight training. I was burning a lot of calories during the course of a week and it started to show. I also started to really notice my fitness and endurance improving.

Eating Healthier

healthy eating

Veggies are one way to eat healthier!

I’ve never had really bad nutritional habits since living out west. In the years I was a single mom raising two young children, I’ll admit we probably went the fast food route way too often. But not since we moved west. We didn’t have the money, nor did I have that much of a desire for fast food.

But when I really started to focus on nutrition in early 2010, I was inspired greatly by discovering The Biggest Loser TV show and starting to read some of their materials, which sparked even wider study. I realized that portion size was probably one of my biggest failings. I enjoy good food and I’m pretty sure I was eating way too much of it!

So my first change was to cut down on my portions. I also added more and more veggies to my diet. For many years, I wasn’t a big veggie person, but over the years, I’ve learned to really like quite a wide variety of vegetables. I made sure I got as close to the recommended 5 to 7 portions a day as I could. I also switched almost completely to whole grain products, including rice, pasta, bread and cereal. I favored sweet potatoes over white ones.

And I steered away from processed & prepared foods as much as possible. I love to cook, so making everything from scratch isn’t that much of a stretch for me.

And I’ve tried to add super foods like quinoa, pomegranate & blueberries and flax seed to my diet wherever I can.


I’ve been in a holding pattern with my weight for about a year now. But I have to admit that I’m not as active as I should be, due to work and making excuses. I’d like to lose at least 20 to 25 more pounds, but I’d be happy even with 10 to 15 at this point. But I am grateful I haven’t gained any of the original 30 pounds back!

I’m still eating well and enjoying eating healthy too.

I’m reading a book, called Younger Next Year for Women and I love its philosophies. Highly recommended for other middle-agers (there’s a men’s version too, which hubby is reading)!

I’ll get there…

October 17th, 2011

Picture of a Big, Old Maple Tree

Four years ago, I moved into an older home, built in the late 70s. It’s not a great house… it’s aging, the rooms are small, the backyard is a bit run down. Definitely NOT the house of my dreams. But it had one great thing going for it… it was the closest house we could afford to the Boise Greenbelt. It’s a mere 10-minute brisk walk or 5-minute bike ride. And once you reach the Greenbelt, you can go for miles along the Boise River, glorying in nature, exercising your body… or whatever else you want to do.

Some of our family members couldn’t understand why we wanted to live here. But we knew what we wanted and we have not regretted our location for one instant in the last 4 years. But besides location, we also have this big old maple tree pictured below. It’s a wonderful tree with a huge wingspan and it makes the house!

Big Old Maple Tree

Our Big Old Maple Tree in the Front Yard

October 16th, 2011

Floating Over Boise – Daily Photo

I love hot air balloons and it is on my 101 list to ride in one someday.  I am extremely lucky that hot air balloons frequently fly right over our house in the early mornings. They take off from the nearby fairgrounds and fly out into the country  or over the foothills away from the city. So that puts their path right over our house most of the time.

This morning, a couple flew over but were a bit further away. And actually the one pictured below disappeared below the horizon right after I snapped the photo! I guess it just have landed. It never reappeared, which was kind of weird.

Hot air balloon over Garden City

Hot air balloon over Garden City

October 15th, 2011

Beautiful Boise Sunset

We get the most gorgeous sunsets here in Boise. Not sure why… perhaps it’s our high desert setting, the general Big Sky of the west, our surrounding foothills… who knows? All I know is that sunsets like the one pictured below are not at all unusual. Since we frequently walk in the late evening, as the day is winding down, we see often see the sunsets on our last leg before  we get home.

This is the one I captured on our walk this afternoon. Gorgeous, huh?

Beautiful Boise Sunset

Beautiful Boise Sunset

October 15th, 2011

More Inspiration… Taking Risks

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

I love that quote and it talks about a philosophy I have tried to live in my life, best I can. I’m not one to avoid change, nor to fear taking a risk. I’ve done it a few times in my life. Sure, going out on a limb can be hard, but it almost always will benefit you in some way.

When I started this blog, I wanted to write about things and people who inspire me. I already wrote about how my younger daughter’s blogging inspired me to start my own blog. And her craftiness frequently inspires me as well.

But today I wanted to talk about my older daughter, because in her own way, she has inspired me on a few levels too.

Inspiring Me to Recognize What Matters…

Sarah Collins, my daughter

Sarah Collins, my daughter

I will be the first to admit that Sarah and I don’t always have the easiest relationship. It could be that we are too much alike in some ways… stubborn, opinionated, super sensitive, wanting to be right, argumentative… who knows? All I can say is that it doesn’t take much to get us bickering at times. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, not in the least.

And not only do I love my daughter, I am proud of her too! I admire so many of her personal qualities… and that’s not just me as a mother talking. Well, not completely anyway.  :)

For a while, I thought maybe Sarah wasn’t much of a risk taker. She didn’t go away to college, she didn’t get her own apartment until I moved away, and she stayed in New Jersey even when both her sister and I moved away. But then this strongly-avowed “Jersey girl” up and moved from New Jersey to Texas too, to join her sister. She did it, I think, partly because she needed a change, but also because she knew her sister needed her, and that is just the kind of sis that Sarah is… a caring, supportive, always got your back kind of one.

And then, Sarah took the biggest risk ever… totally beating anything Jenn & I  may have done in the past or since… she sold or gave away just about everything she owned and moved to Greece to teach English! The picture here is at a party right before she left… I think she looks so beautiful and happy in that photo.

In the end, that venture didn’t work out quite as she had planned, but she saw a beautiful country that she loved, got to experience some ancient history in the home of Greek myth (another love of hers), and made some fast friends. In other words, she grew and she added to the fabric of her life. So, I find her willingness to take that leap very inspiring.

But that is also not the main thrust of how Sarah inspires me. The primary way she has inspired me really came to the fore while she lived with me here in Boise for a year after her Greek adventure and before she returned to Texas. I’ve never been super political, voting mostly only in the presidential election. Nor am I one to keep up very well with world news/politics.  And although I have strong feelings about things like racism and prejudice, I’m not one to do much about them.

Sarah is different, though. She is not shy about standing up for the downtrodden or in voicing her opinion about social injustice. And she’s willing to go public with it too. While she lived with me, she wanted to become active in some of our local demonstrations for gay rights… just because she had strong feelings about the issue. I share her feelings and I agreed to go to the demonstrations with her in downtown Boise.

I wish I could say that since she left, I’d continued in her activist steps, but I haven’t. Nevertheless, Sarah definitely inspires me to be more socially aware and a bit less selfish in only thinking about myself and my family all the time. Sometimes we all need to take a bit broader perspective and to do what we can to make a difference in our society.

So, thanks, Sarah, for inspiring me to have a more well-developed social conscience… even if I am still a work in progress! :)

October 14th, 2011

Daily Photo – Autumn Is Coming… Slowly

Autumn is making a bit of late arrival in Boise this year. All the seasons are skewed. Spring seemed to go on forever, making summer start late, and now summer doesn’t want to let go either.  But the last couple of weeks, we’ve started to have cooler weather, especially at night and so today, I saw my first sign of fall in the changing colors of the foliage. It’s a start…

Autumn is coming to Boise

Autumn is coming to Boise

Kathi MacNaughton's virtual signature

October 14th, 2011

Thrill the World Boise 2011 – I Am SO In!

Thrill the World Boise 2011

Thrill the World Boise 2010

Of course, you’ve heard of the Michael Jackson megahit, Thriller. And you’ve seen the video… and the zombie dance. Well, every October, a group in Boise holds a flashmob type event in the Boise Grove plaza where volunteers perform the dance from Thriller, dressed as zombies. It’s part of the worldwide Thrill the World event.

This year, I’m going to participate!

A friend of mine put out the invitation and my husband and I decided it would be fun. Seems there are quite a few of us Zumba zombies on board. It’ll be on October 29th, and hopefully there will be video I can post here later on of our own performance.

They are holding a number of in-person practices plus you can watch the video and download the choreography online to get ready. Here I come!

Here is a video of last year’s Boise Thrill the World event, just so you can see what I’m getting myself into:


October 13th, 2011

Daily Photo — Green Tea Mug

It’s funny how your tastes change as the years go by. For many years, I hated coffee… didn’t even like the smell of it… and I grew up with 4 coffee-drinking adults, so I had plenty of exposure. Never had any interest. But then one day, I went out on a date after my divorce and my date made fresh ground coffee and served it with milk and sugar. Wow! It was a revelation… I fell in love with coffee and have been drinking it ever since. But it has to be strong and fresh ground will always be my favorite. Oh yes, and milky and sweet.

For even longer, I hated tea. Could not abide the smell of it, the taste of it… blech!

But as I learned more about healthy nutrition and alternative ways to stay healthy, I began to be intrigued by tea.  And both my brother and daughter, Sarah, drank a lot of tea and seemed to love it. I did have chai a few times and liked that… again, it was sweet and creamy. I think it was Sarah who introduced me to green teas of various flavors and I found that the flavors disguised the “tea taste” and I could tolerate it better. I also started trying various types of herbal teas and liked many of them too, especially with lime or lemon juice added, and of course sugar (Truvia).

Green tea has many benefits, with lots of antioxidants, but just recently I read a report in Prevention magazine that said if you drank 3 mugs of green tea a day, it would help with weight loss. Since I have been trying to lose weight for 2 years, that intrigued me and I thought it was worth a try. I haven’t succeeded in drinking 3 mugs every day, but most days I make at least 2.

And I have to say, I’ve actually lost a couple of pounds in the last couple of weeks! So I’m going to keep drinking!

The other day, I found this great tea mug that I just love, so I had to have it. The paperweight it’s sitting next to was given to me probably 20 years ago now by one of my subordinates. It continues to inspire me to this day.

Green tea mug

Tea & Inspiration

October 13th, 2011

A Little Case of Food Addiction

Cereal has been one of my food addictions

Cereal has been one of my food addictions

I come from a family that has suffered through some addiction issues, a pretty strong family history, actually, on a number of fronts. Me, I’m kind of a straight arrow and never really was at risk for anything real harmful. But I have had my own addictions… the computer, certainly (ongoing!), buying purses and fabric, and occasionally mild food addictions.

My biggest evidence of these food addictions seems to be over breakfast. Can’t really explain it. I just seem to get on kicks where I only want to eat one thing… every day… for weeks… or maybe months. I’m not like that with lunch, and certainly not with dinner, but in the morning… give me whatever I am currently craving please! :)

These addictions change from time to time. Here are some examples:

  • Yogurt with fruit, topped with grapenuts
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Raisin bread
  • Honey Bunches of Oats

The list goes on. I’ll stick with a food for a while, and then one day, I just lose my taste for it and I’m on to the next addiction!

My Current Passion

I wrote last week about trying savory oatmeal. As I mentioned in that post, I’ve been eating quite a lot of oatmeal anyway, because of its many health benefits. But since I tried that savory oatmeal with egg, I can’t stop thinking about it. Every morning, that’s all I am in the mood for. I’ve made that recipe 3 times now! Yes, it’s that good, at least to my tastebuds.

I don’t know how long it will be until this craving passes. I’m just thankful my addictions are generally to healthy things! :)

October 12th, 2011

Daily Photo – The Cat with a Thousand Hideouts

My cat, Sunshine, is a cat of varied tastes. For as long as she lived with us, she has never settled in one particular place for long. I am not an experienced cat owner. I’ve only had a cat for two years, because before that, I used to be deathly allergic to them. For some reason, my allergy to cats (though not anything else) went away. So I don’t really know that much about cats, having been a dog owner all my life.

But since Sunshine came into our family (as a rescue kitty), she spent a lot of time outdoors, but due to some trauma is now an indoor cat. Throughout that time, though, whether out or in, she spent a lot of time just lying around… but always in a different spot, from day to day. She seems to love a place to death for a few days… and then it is out and she’s on to the next great spot. She only has so many spots though, so sooner or later, what was out is back in again.

We can’t figure it out, but it seems to work for her. Currently, she spend a lot of time in proximity to me. Her favorite spot of the moment is the very top shelf in my office closet, which is open shelving. She squeezes into a small space, but will stay there for hours. Here’s a picture of her in her hideaway spot:

Sunshine the cat in the closet

Sunshine up high

October 12th, 2011

I Love to Cook!

I love to cook!One of my greatest pleasures in life has always been cooking, but especially the last few years, when I’ve had a partner who is truly willing to try anything… and cheer me on while I’m doing it. Truly, my husband is the best audience for my cooking that any wannabe chef could ever have. :)

My love affair with cooking began in childhood. I lived with a mother who loved to entertain and cook wonderful meals, plus was just a good cook even everyday. My grandmother also lived with us, and from her I learned to be fearless in my cooking adventures.

As a young married woman in the late 70s, I experimented with the fads of the times, from stir fry to fondue. My first husband was a fairly good audience too, except for his dislike of both ham and cheese, two of my favorite foods. But when we got divorced, cooking — except in its most basic form — kind of fell by the wayside. As a single mom with a burgeoning management career, I just didn’t have much time to cook. Add to that my daughters’ increasingly limited palettes, and my desire to experiment went largely out the window.

Read the rest of this entry »

October 11th, 2011

365 Day Photo Challenge – Day 2 – Clouds

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter’s daily photo challenge required her to take a picture of clouds, of which there weren’t any in drought-ridden Texas. But we get some great clouds here in Boise this time of year. With yet another rainstorm blowing off, I captured a pretty nice image of bright blue sky and fluffy cumulus clouds!

Picture of clouds

Clouds over Boise after a storm

Kathi MacNaughton's virtual signature