Month: October 2010

Favorite Songs

My friend Camille has recently done a series of posts on her favorite songs.  To make it easier she classified them as “song that makes me laugh”, “song that makes me cry” etc. Perhaps I should have followed her example, but I thought I could whittle down my nearly 9,000 ipod songs to a top 20. Boy was I wrong!  It was hard! To start off I cut out all religious, classical and Broadway music (that will be for another post!).  Next I created a top 50 list- even this was harder than I thought it would be. Finally I narrowed it to a top 15.  When push came to shove many songs I LOVE didn’t make the cut.

As will be no surprise to anyone, a majority of the songs are slower and melodic, and many of them are on the melancholy side.  This is strange because I am a very happy person.  I just love romantic sad songs!   I like a number of these songs so much that I have learned how to sing them in my weekly voice lessons. Over half are songs I have loved since high school and every single one of them are tracts I could listen to again and again (and have done so!).  I will be curious for both your thoughts on the list and the songs I should have included.  What are your favorites? By the way, I didn’t put A Song for You, King of Anything or Gravity on this list because I just posted them, but they are some of my favorites.

Listed in no particular order

1. Over the Rainbow- this one is my favorite song.  I love it.  I sang it in May and have at least 12 versions in my ipod.  I have yet to hear a version I do not love.  My favorites are probably a great version by Eva Cassidy and a classic by the Hawaiian singer IZ; however, nobody can top the great Judy Garland.

2. Nightingale- Norah Jones blows me away.  I love all of her albums and could have put a number of her songs on the list. I chose this one because I think it is a beautiful lullaby.

3. Dream- Priscilla Ahn’s first album A Good Day was amazing!  If you haven’t heard it go out and buy it.  I could have picked any song from this album.  I love it!  Dream is another lullaby that is lovely.

4. Everything- Michael Buble. Everybody knows I love me some Michael Buble. He is still the only artist I have seen live twice.  He is a great performer and singer- not to mention terrific songwriter.  I think he has surprised a lot of people by branching out of the Great American Songbook and writing his own stuff.  I was torn between Haven’t Met You Yet, Home and this one, Everything, but I figured put an upbeat song in there!

5. I’m Yours- Jason Mraz. This song reminds me of Hawaii and summertime.  What could be wrong with that?

6. Foolish Games-Jewel. I was obsessed with Jewel in high school.  I think I may have listened to Pieces of You and Spirit albums hundreds of times! Foolish Games is a sad song but one of the first ones I learned in voice lessons.

7. Dreams- Cranberries.  I also loved the Cranberries in high school- still do.  This is such a great song- the only song that ever made yodeling cool!

8.  Awake- Josh Groban.  Josh Groban will always have a special place for me because of the amazing experience Camille and I had at his concert- we got moved from the highest seats to right by the stage where I touched his fingers!  So cool!

9. And So it Goes- Billy Joel.  This was a tough call between the Longest Time (love that romantic song) and this sad song.  The fact that I sang it as one of my first voice lesson songs put it over the edge.

10. Both Sides Now- Joni Mitchell.  She set the bar for all female singers/song writers after her.   This is another song I performed in a recital for my voice lessons.

11. Man on the Moon- REM.  The first album I remember buying was Automatic for the People by REM.  I have loved it ever since, which makes nearly 20 years of enjoying this song.

12. Travelin Soldier- Dixie Chicks.  So I don’t like their politics but I love this song.  It is pure poetry.  You’re probably tired of hearing this but it is another one I have sung in voice lessons.

13. Life is a Highway- I have loved all of Rascal Flatts’ albums.  They know how to write catchy hits and this one is their best.  No wonder it was the final encore at their concert!  (I was tempted to pick God Bless the Open Road but I figure an upbeat song is good!)

14. Unwritten- Natasha Bedingfield.   This is probably the only ‘dance’ song I have ever loved.  Despite being over-played and the theme song to the Hills I still love it!

15. Let It Be- The Beatles.  Many Beatles devotees would probably pick something more edgy from the psychedelic phase or more obscure but I’ve always thought this song was beautiful.   This is a version sung by American Idol alum Brooke White.

16.  This Side- Nickel Creek- Ok.  So I did 16 but I just couldn’t leave Nickel Creek off the list.  They are amazing! I must sound like a broken record but I love all of their albums.  They are peaceful, calming and full of gorgeous harmonies.  If you aren’t a fan check them out!  This Side is probably their most popular song and I think you will see why!

Phew!  That was tough.  I’m already picking apart my list.  How is it I didn’t have room for Trouble by Ray LaMontagne, Every Little Thing by the Police, anything by Cold Play,  Ingrid Michelson, Sara Bareilles, Carol King, Regina Spektor, Crosby Stills and Nash, and More.  How did I not have room for any of the standards like LOVE, World on a String, Real McCoy, You Make Me Feel So Young etc?…I guess I will just have to make another list!  I hope you guys enjoy the music.


Things I Miss

Lately I’m beginning to wonder if I should hire one of those personal shoppers to make all of my food purchases.  With the exception of fast food restaurants (which I am still not eating at- 8 months and going strong), there is probably no place as full of perilous diet choices as the grocery store.  This is particularly true during the holiday seasons. For instance, right now the Halloween candy and treats are oh so tempting!  So far I’ve managed to dodge most of the bad food land mines, but I occasionally fall sway.   Having to write everything down for my trainer is certainly a good motivation to stay on track!

Unfortunately there are still bad foods that I like and that taste good to me.  As much as I want to crave a salad over a side of mashed potatoes with gravy, I don’t know if I ever will.  I don’t see myself  ever wishing I could have a peice of chicken with brown rice over a pizza with my favorite toppings.  Maybe it will happen but I doubt it.   In the meantime I am trying to keep my eye on the prize.  I’d say I’ve been doing pretty well.  Since I joined my gym in August I have not had a single week of less than 3 workouts- most of the time 4 or 5.  This includes weight training and cardio each day.  I have also been counting my calories on weekdays and keeping my intake between 1300-1500.   My current weight is 277 (36 lbs down) and I’m down one jean size. I’d love to say I had more energy, but I’m still working on that.  Right now my workouts are still wiping me out, and I’ve learned to accept being sore and tired all the time.

Anyway, I don’t mean to complain to all of you beloved blog readers but it just feels good to get these feelings out there.  Sometimes it seems like I’m living in a different world than everyone else.  I drive around and see nothing but food establishments and then I can never make the recipes I want.  Now you might say ‘go ahead indulge every now and then’ and I do occasionally.  However, the problem is if I indulge and make let’s say a lasagna, I have lasagna hanging around for a week.  This makes for an entire week of indulging.  The same could be said for almost any other recipe.  I have to be very careful what I make because most likely I will be eating it for multiple days.

I’ve already mentioned how I miss my beloved cheese but there are some other things I never eat anymore:

1. Grandma Sycamore’s white bread- this is delicious white fluffy bread that I can not dare have around.  I can seriously eat 4 or 5 pieces of toast with butter no problem.

2. Butter- I grew up on butter not margarine.  Try as I might the  ‘good’ margarine just isn’t the same as butter.

3. Snacks/Chips- There are healthy snacks that I eat but I do miss the unhealthy ones.  I like regular chips better than baked.  No matter what I can never seem to get excited about vegetable snacking.  I don’t think I have ever finished a bag of baby carrots I’ve bought.  Don’t know why.

4. Burgers/Red Meat- I know you can still eat red meat but in small doses.  It has so much fat when it is prepared correctly, with any flavor.  Plus, if you are eating a burger then you have to worry about the carbs/calories in the bun.

5. Thai food/Indian food- I have a few recipes that work with yogurt but most of both cuisines call for coconut milk which is horrible for you.  The other day I found a recipe for a thai chicken soup that looked good- It had 51 grams of fat for one serving!  Don’t think I will be making that anytime soon.

6. Pie- Especially around this time of year I love all kinds of pie (rhubarb is the only kind I don’t like).  Thanksgiving will be an exception.

7. Comfort food- there are diet versions of these foods but does that really comfort?I love stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes etc.

8.  Easy food- I work out so hard that most of the time I want a real meal for dinner, not just a salad.  Most healthy meals take a lot of prep.  Gone are the days when I could throw in a pizza or a quesadilla and be done with it.

9. Juice- Except for the occasional diet drink all I have now is water or milk.   I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss other liquids.

10. Carbs- I look longingly at the pasta aisle.  Pretty much all Italian food is difficult for me to eat.  I will occasionally eat whole wheat pasta but it isn’t as good.  Plus, I’m not eating cheese and that cuts out Italian food.

Well, thanks for putting up with a bit of complaining.  The sacrifices are worth it. I am saving my life or at least extending it.  Surely that is worth some long sighs at the market.  Ahhhh….




The Weirdness of Singing

Today I had master class for my voice lessons.  This is a monthly event where we prepare a solo to preform for our fellow students and teachers.  Singing in front of a crowd has always been difficult for me.   Acting and performing the song is easy its just trusting my voice that’s hard.  One of the many weird things about singing is that you don’t hear your voice accurately.  What I mean by that is when I hear myself sing I am having an entirely different experience then the audience.  Something that sounds  over-the-top to me, even shouting, sounds great to them.  Something that seems big to me, may need more emphasis to them.  Its almost as if you have 2 different voices- one the voice I hear, and one the voice everyone else hears.

In my lessons I often have to trust my teacher that my voice sounds good.  In my ear it sounds screeching or off but in her ear it is great.  Today at master class I sang “Good Morning Baltimore” from Hairspray.  For the first 2 verses I did pretty good (in fact my teacher said it was the best belt sound she’d heard in me).  Unfortunately once the chorus came I hit a high note weird and had a hard time fighting my way out of that bad voice moment. It was especially frustrating because I had done it right in practice just hours before.

By the end of the song I was feeling deflated and discouraged, almost wishing I could walk away for the feedback.  Amazingly enough the good job I had done for the first half of the song got very high praise and the weak 2nd half a few minor critiques.  They even said if I hadn’t made it such a big deal in my facial expression they would not have noticed most of the mistakes. My teachers were especially pleased with my performance and said I told the story well, and some of the best  mix/belt I’ve ever sang- even with the mistakes.

This scenario at master class is exactly why I am still taking voice lessons.  When I sing I want to be perfect.  I want to be a skilled singer more than almost anything else in the world.  It satisfies a longing in my heart placed there when I was just a girl.  Naturally wanting to be perfect I notice each flaw in the performance.  Does the audience notice- no, unless I make them notice by my facial expressions? Even more, my actual voice sounds better to the audience then it does in my ear.  Isn’t that strange?

I wonder how many times I criticize myself for something others find beautiful? I’m not sure I want to know the answer.  I have always been pretty open in complementing myself and have a high self esteem; however, with the singing, my voice actually sounds different to my ear.  In a way I have to throw out my ears and listen with other ears- not an easy task.  Once I am hearing myself through their ears then I will hear the beauty of my voice in a new way.  I’ve gotten better at this over the years but still have a long way to go.

I wonder how many other parts of my life I am hearing the wrong voice? I hear the squeaky nervous girl.  Everyone else hear’s the belty/mix girl with a lot of spunk?  Is there beauty within me that I don’t notice but others would applaud? Hmmmm. Makes you wonder?

This is kind of a rambling post.  Hope it makes sense.

By the way….exciting news!  I bought a piano!  It is a Samick SSP10 Digital Piano. It is very well made, looks gorgeous in my room and is drooling in anticipation for its inaugural jam session.  I love singing with my friends, and I hope the piano will make my apartment even more of a gathering place.   It will certainly help with my voice because I can at least plunk out most songs.  It’s awesome!  You should all come and sing/play with me!

My piano!!! Come jam with me!

I am going to continue working on Good Morning Baltimore and eventually I will post my performance online.  It will be awesome.  Tracy Turnblat never sounded so good!

A Note on Plus Size Fashion

While I admit I have fallen off my fashion game in the last year or so (working at home has been detrimental in that regard), I still think I have my own quirky sense of style.  I particularly love chunky jewelry and wrapped shirts/dresses that give me a slim silhouette.  Oddly enough my fashion highlights probably occurred the years I worked at JWA.  As the welcoming face and the only single girl in the office I felt it my duty to look my best.  I also noticed that the cuter my outfit the brighter my spirits (something that did not go unnoticed in that drab job).  I admit that most of the cute jewelry and true fashion items I own I bought during that time period.

Lately I feel like I’m always coming to or from the gym in my sweats or jeans with my hair in a ponytail 90% of the time (you know its bad when your mom visits and says ‘its nice to see you in something other than a ponytail”…)  The other current difficulty is I am in between sizes and don’t want to purchase much in the hopes that I will keep losing.  I did buy 2 pairs of size 24 jeans (1 size down) at Walmart and those feel great!  Walmart carries Just My Size plus sizes and I’ve been very impressed with the quality, not simply the low price, of their clothing- a real surprise.

So, having admitted my recent problems in this area I would like to say something about plus size fashion.  First of all, don’t you think the day where plus size clothing is hidden in the back of the store should be over?  My friend and I joke that plus size is the ‘pornographic section’  of the mall because it is like the old video stores where the adult films were crammed in the back behind a velvet curtain- ‘just pretend like the plus size people aren’t there and maybe they’ll go away’.   Also it would be nice if there were more than one or two options in cut, color, style etc.  Most of the time I bypass department stores all together and head right to the plus size chains such as Lane Bryant (good for career) and Torrid (great for a little bit of trendiness).  If these stores do not have clothes I like at the prices I can spend I often go online to purveyors like Lands End, Old Navy (they only sell their plus size line online) and Catherines (most of their line is very frumpy, but I got a good suit and winter coat there). I’ve had okay luck at discount chains such as Ross, Michael’s, Burlington etc.

This year I had such a hard time finding cute unique clothes that I asked my mother (an amazing seamstress) to make me some light, fun skirts.  She has finished 5 of them and I wear them all the time.   She even made them easily alterable for when I lose more weight.   I love them!Unfortunately not everyone has my mother’s tailoring at their disposal.  With this in mind I have a word to say to the designers of the world.  Listen up because here are my plus size fashion likes and dislikes (all right, its mostly dislikes…)

1. Just because we are plus size does not mean we need tons of fabric- we already have a lot of bulk, we don’t need more.

Bad look 1


Just keep adding fabric and maybe it will swallow her whole!


2.  On the same lines- stop adding ruffles to everything.  As a small decorative touch they are fine but some plus size designers add it to ‘cover the fat’- all it does is make you look like a giant bedspread.


this may be the ugliest shirt I've ever seen. Its like she has a giant ruffle bib.


3. Most of us like our curves- boxy shirts and dresses are unflattering and UGLY.  Some designers seem to get plus size shirts confused with their living room drapery- like they want to put on a play behind the shirt!


Don't you just feel bad for the model?


4. Don’t be afraid to give us trendy prints. Also there are a lot of ugly jungle type prints for plus size.  Not sure why- we can’t all be Beyonce!


Where do I start...



This is a print I like. With a cardigan wouldn't it be cute dress?


5.  On the same breadth do not be afraid to give us unique looks that will make us stand out- we don’t all want to be wallflowers.


I thought this was different and unique. Don't know if it would work for me because of the halter but I LOVE purple.



love, love, love this dress. Its awesome. Love the jewelry too!I would probably have to wear it with a cami but cute!


6.  Remember that sometimes we need accessories or under pieces that work with an outfit.  You have no idea how hard it is to find undershirts (companies like shade and modbod don’t make plus size and their XXL are very small).  Camis, bras, nylons, tights, leggings, exercise clothing, swimsuits,pajamas (so hard to find cute jams for plus size), shoes (especially boots) are all hard to find.   The other day I found athletic socks for plus size and it was the greatest thing ever!  You would be surprised how difficult it was to find a plus size sports bra (I had to order mine online because none of the stores, even the plus size ones, carried them. Ironic hah?).

I am grateful for the retail stores that do cater to plus size girls.  They fill a void and help girls like me from feeling ugly and discouraged. Plus, they allow me  to show off my personality with my fashion.  There is nothing more motivating in the quest to get in shape then feeling beautiful- when I can add a little bit of trend and sass all the better!

Even though I am in between sizes and exercising every day I am going to try and do better with my fashion.  It will help me appreciate and have fun with  my new body!  Plus size girls out there- what are your fashion pet peeves? or non-plus size girls too?

First Check Off the List

As many of you will remember a few weeks ago I had post entitled the Too Fat For List.  This is a list of 17 things that I am either unable to do or don’t enjoy doing because of my weight.  As I am working to get in shape I plan on checking off items on the list and then reporting the experiences on my blog.  I may not be successful in all of them but I want to at least make the attempt.

Today was the beginning of checking something off of my list.  In fact, it was the #1 item on the list.  This morning I made my first attempt at climbing the rock wall at my gym.  My trainer met me and surprise the harness fit! I don’t know if it could have in March- it was close now and that’s 35 lbs lighter (that’s right, as of last week down 35 lbs!).   I was nervous the rope would break or that my trainer would be catapulted into the air because I’m so much heavier than her.  I know such thoughts are irrational, but I guess sometimes I am irrational!

Anyway, I got harnessed up and then attacked the ‘easy’ part of the wall.  It was harder than I thought it would be but after three attempts I made it about double my height on the wall.  I didn’t get to the top or even half-way but for a girl that couldn’t do a pull up if my life depended on it I think it was pretty good. My trainer was so amazing and encouraging.  She didn’t even charge me for the hour she spent with me (not to mention helping Sammy and Madeline climb the wall.  They had a lot of fun at the gym, and I was glad they were there to cheer me on!).

I must admit that when I finished, despite having not made it to the top, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.   Here was something which for years I felt was impossible.  It’s not that I felt bad or depressed about it but it was just an accepted reality- an activity I passed over without much thought. I’ve been working so hard and I can already feel my world-changing as a result.  It’s difficult to explain but since I have been heavy from 10 years of age on there are certain messages that I’ve been feeding myself for nearly 20 years.  I think there are few heavy girls that have the self-esteem and confidence I have but even still there are barriers to break down.   It’s like all of the sudden the athletic world I’ve been staring at all these years is starting to enter my world…I can’t think of any other way to explain it.

The most exciting part is that my trainer said we will climb the wall once a month and that I should get higher each time.  I can’t wait for that day when I reach the top!  Even after today it still seems a little impossible but I’m working on believing…

Sammy took some photos with his phone and once he sends them to me I will add them to this post.  If he forgets then I will take photos next time- hopefully at a higher spot!

Check #1 off the list! Wahoo!  (I think I will go ice my arms and legs.  I’m sore!)

A Temple In Indiana

This weekend I enjoyed the semi-annual General Conference of the LDS church. During this bi-yearly event the leaders, including the apostles and prophet, speak on a variety of topics such as faith, charity and strengthening family.  While this instruction was fabulous (I took 17 pages of notes!), the most exciting moment of the weekend was the Saturday announcement by President Monson of 5 new temples- one in Indianapolis, Indiana! As all blog readers know I served my mission in Indiana from 2003-2005.  I loved my mission but it was a huge purifying experience physically, mentally and spiritually.   For once in my life I left nothing on the table.  I worked as hard as I possibly could, and found everyone I needed to find.  It may sound cheesy but I left a part of myself on the streets of Indiana- my blood, sweat, tears and prayers.   Sometimes I wonder if I could do it again?  I really don’t know. It was an amazing experience and completely worth it to bring souls to the gospel but it was very difficult.

With my sacrifice and that of many more, the work has continued to grow in the great Hoosier state; however, I was skeptical a temple would ever be built because of the many temples in surrounding states- 2 in Illinois, 1 in Michigan, 1 in Ohio and 1 in Kentucky. To my delight with the faith of the Saints and the work of the missionaries the need for a temple in Indiana could not be denied.  They have not announced when construction will begin or where the temple will be built but if you are interested you can see updates at  I am so excited!

It’s overwhelming for me to think of the increased missionary work and the blessings that will come to the great people of  Indiana with a temple nearby.  I struggle with the words to describe my emotions.  I am so happy!  I remember one time in Angola walking in the snow, my feet near frostbitten, and thinking “this will be worth it someday.” I’ve had many days when it was “worth it” including each time I felt a connection with the people I served with.  Since I came home my mission has continued to be a daily motivating factor in my life.  Whenever I face something difficult or challenging I know I can do it because I finished my mission.  I know the Lord will help me and that my life is important to His work.  When President Monson made the Indiana temple announcement, Saturday became another “worth it” day!

Here are some photos of the mission…


One of my favorite photos of Sister Meyer, Servito and me.Btw- I wore this sweater set like everyday- thank you Lands End!




Here I am in the memorial in the center of Indianapolis



Me and my most special comp Sister Julia Graves



Got to love Indiana corn!



Sister Servito and I spent weeks tracting in the Angola snow



Me and my wonderful trainer Sister Hamill- she put up with a lot! I was really prideful.



my favorite mission photo because it was Kris Warnock's baptism on the day after Christmas and such a special companionship (Notice the pink sweater again!)