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Archive for March, 2009

Trouble with Twitter

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Trouble with Twitter

I'm not a voracious Twitterer, but try to remember to throw something up there now & again and have it set to post a twit when I upload a new blog post. I'm no where near a Twitter-holic; though I know some people that are.

I have nothing against that - whatever floats your boat, really. Some people enjoy it, some people live by it, and some people wouldn't twit if their lives depended on it. Whatever your twit standing, however, I think you'll get as much of a chuckle out of this video as I did.

Not sure what the hell a Twitter or a tweet is?  Try this:  Why I'm such a Twitter.  Want to follow my own twits or check out my tweetspace?  Follow me @skatoolaki.

Local Charms Help Support Local Community

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Earlier this month, my friend Emily and I traveled down to New Orleans and stumbled upon this charming little jewelry store called Isabella's Fairy Dust (Yelp review) located at 614 Royal Street in the French Quarter.  It was not only the dazzling array of lovely, unique, and simply beautiful "jewelry, masks, stained glass, kaleidoscopes, fairies, and angels" that had us so captivated, but the fact that every piece in the store had been crafted by local artisans.

Though the media gives mostly encouraging reports coming out of New Orleans and it's slowly - but surely - recovering economy, the truth is that the Crescent City and its multitude of talented artists are still struggling.  The shopkeepers of Isabella's told us that stores around the French Quarter - even up and down the daytime "walking mall" of Royal Street with its chic boutiques and gilded antique stores - were closing up one by one.  It is a sad but all too true reality.

That is why it is so very important for locals, visitors, day-trippers, tourists, and/or vacationers to help support this most basic fabric of New Orleans's culture by supporting local artists and the shops that sale their wares.

If you dine in the city, be sure to do so at a locally-owned restaurant such as the Clover Grill (900 Bourbon), China Moon Wok (800 St. Ann), Coop's Place (1109 Decatur), Mona Lisa's (1212 Royal) or Angelli (Decatur at Governor Nicholls).  You can get McDonald's and Subway anywhere and any day.

If you need a grocery-type item, skip Walgreens and take your business to one of the Quarter's quaint, time-worn stores like the Royal Street Grocery & Deli (801 Royal), Central Grocery (923 Decatur),  Matassa's Market (1001 Dauphine) or, a personal favorite, the Verti Marte (1201 Royal).  Though the prices may be a bit higher, the atmosphere of these old and friendly groceries and the quality of local produce more than make up for it; plus you have the satisfaction of knowing your money went to help a community in need rather than a giant, nameless corporation.

If you shop, be sure to visit the artists in Jackson Square as well as the myriad of shops lining the streets of the French Quarter; be on the lookout for locally hand-crafted items.  Every such purchase that you make while visiting New Orleans helps this community to rebuild, and every penny that goes back into the hands of it's multicultural, multi-talented, and colorful citizenry helps New Orleans remain the magical, eccentric place that so many treasure. (See FrenchQuarter.com's Shopping page for where to find shops by item, great articles on the latest shopping trends & shop happenings, and lots more.)

You can also visit the New Orleans/French Quarter page at Wikitravel for listings and descriptions of more locally-owned businesses and eateries that are worth a visit.

Supporting shops like Isabella's Fairy Dust, with its simply breathtaking pieces and friendly, local ownership boasting wares from area artisans, goes to the very heart of bringing New Orleans - and its residents - back to life.  I encourage you to visit this charming little jewelry shop - I simply don't have words to describe the many beautiful baubles and precious pieces we saw there; it's something you must see for yourself - and others like it to help support this striving community and the people who make it so great.

When a Little Less is A Lot to Celebrate

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

I have always been a steady 110-115 lbs kinda-gal, and before all of you begin to hate on me, please understand that I only stand 4'10" tall.  While that may not seem like many pounds for the average person, realize that I have a lot less room in which to hold said weight.  In other words, with height comes more room in which to stretch all those pounds out.

Though I am not skinny, but rather shapely and muscularly-toned, my weight was about average for my height.  Still, as any young female raised in an era that crams super-skinny, glossy perfection down our throats, I always thought I was "fat".  Only now, in later years and having actually been overweight, do I realize the folly of my younger, disillusioned body image.  No longer, I vow, will I ever bemoan anything under 125 lbs.  I've only to look back to all those years I missed enjoying the body I had - one I did not realize I'd miss until I'd added over ten pounds to it.

After my knee surgery in the summer of 2002, I began - for the first time, really, in my adult life - to gain weight.  The initial three months of non-recovery after my surgery consisted of a great deal of lying around and very little, if any, physical activity.  The weight began to accumulate.

Around this time, as the realization of my new immobility and disablity began to sink in, I started to drink more than I ever had (or have since).  I was insanely depressed and drinking took the edge off of the nightmare I seemed to have come out of surgery into - one I could not, and would never fully, awaken from.  Then, also, the weight began to accumulate.

Though I tried to cheer myself by remembering that I'd hated my smaller body by believing it to be fat, thereby never allowing myself to enjoy it, I knew that I was overweight.  I wasn't happy about it, but exercising wasn't really something I could do with any real gusto because of my disability, and I swore long ago I'd never torture myself with yo-yo diets or deny myself foods I enjoyed (I grew up watching my mother bemoan every single calorie and constantly starve herself and planned to never put myself through such agonies when I reached adulthood).  The result was that my 4'10" frame soon found itself attempting to accomodate over 135 lbs; not only overweight for my height but an extra burden on my already-pained legs.

In the past year and a half, I have pretty much quit drinking (I barely have a drink once every two weeks) and have closely monitored my eating - I eat less and smaller portions.  I don't deny myself food - I eat what I want when I want it - but I'm careful not to overeat (something I did unconsciously before because of my tendancy to wolf down food faster than a hot dog-eating champion).  Slowly, the weight began to come off.

At first, I didn't really notice it.  Slowly but surely, however, my clothes started to hang on me; my work pants needed belts and I discovered - with utter delight - that I was able to squeeze back into a size 7 pair of jeans I'd owned in my 19 year-old, California-days (ones that had, the year before, not made it up past my thighs).  The real acceptance that I'd lost the weight came this past Christmas, though, when my sister - who, along with my mother - had been telling me how great I looked, showed me pictures on her camera from the Christmas before (2007).

"I don't think you realize just how much you've lost," she told me.

My shock at looking through the photos confirmed that I hadn't.  For the first time I allowed myself to enjoy the fact that I'd really done it - I had really lost the weight.  I've kept at it, and today at the doctor's office I had my final (and best) confirmation:  the scale read 120 lbs.  I couldn't believe it - I was back down to my ideal weight (sure, I'd love to be 115 lbs again, but this is actually healthier for me and more in line with my body shape).  It feels wonderful and I've noticed less pain in my legs and just an overall sense of feeling healthier (less alcohol is never a bad thing, either).

This isn't to brag or rub it in to those out there still trying to lose those pesky pounds, but rather a "you can do it, too!" message.  Well, sure, I want to share my excitement - that, too - but truly, if my lazy ass can shed 15 lbs, you can, too!

To give you an idea of the difference I saw when I looked in Amber's camera this past Christmas, I offer you two photos - one taken in November 2007 and the other just today (March 2009).  Both are thumbnails, so click to see a larger image:

weightloss_nov07-th weightloss_mar09-th

A smaller, lighter me - what can I say?  Is it wrong to be so thrilled?  I know I rally against negative body image and all that, but I also believe we must love ourselves and work with what we've been given.  I disliked being overweight, but I never let myself dwell on it and - instead - attempted to love the body I had so that I didn't miss out doing so years down the road when I might be even larger.  I wasn't even necessarily trying to lose weight - I just made a conscious decision to drink less and eat more healthily.  The end result was just more than I could've even hoped for.

Thanks for letting me gush...and best of luck with your own weightloss goals.  Remember, if I can do it, you can, too!