Wednesday, April 8, 2015

2015 Goals: March Update

Keeping accountable, what did this Rock Girl accomplish in March 2015?


    • Be healthy enough to be entirely free of daily medicine. COMPLETED!  CHECK!  DONE!  ADIOS MEDS
    •  Travel to New Orleans, LA  COMPLETED!  Went to NOLA March 24-27th with my sweet Mom!
    •  Continuing my education
        • Spring course: Payroll Accounting ENROLLED!  Starting March 30, 2015
        • Summer course: Comprehensive Spreadsheets ENROLLED! 
        • Fall course:  Intro to Office Software ENROLLED!
    • Continue to exercise daily.
      •  Walk 5-6 days a week, averaging 3-5 miles.  ongoing
      • Go to gym 2 days a week for strength exercising.  ongoing
      • Use FitBit to monitor my steps, reaching daily goals of 10 flights of stairs and 10,000 steps a day. ongoing
      • Journal my blood sugar twice a week, food intake, exercise log. ongoing
      • Post my progress on a  weekly basis on my results from my gastric sleeve surgery, after 3 months on a monthly post. Weekly seems very self centered so I will be posting updated on a monthly basis going forward.
    • Run two 5K races by October 2015.

    • Make two new meals a week, post my results on a weekly basis. ongoing
    • Reaching my 2015 goals at work.
      • Attending "Art Is...You" retreat in Minneapolis, MN in September.
      • Creating a horoscope series of paintings.
      • Creating new Creepy, but Cute drawings.
      • Create a series of Day of the Dead canvas art.
      • Sell 10 paintings this year. 
      • Attend an art walk.
      • Participate in art online classes, post weekly of any projects created and works in process.
        • Willowings: Life Book 2015   Ongoing!
        • Art5Academy: Documented Life Project  Honestly, nothing has really spoken to me to create.  Still not giving up!
        •  Christy Tomlinson: SheArt and Art Society
          • monthly art project: The Art Society   Behind, I purchased all my materials...just trying to find the time!
      • Paris, France
      • Portland, WA 
      • Austin, TX
      • Post the following:
        • Monthly goals update  Kinda....
        • Weekly post new recipes  Sorta, good intentions, I will do better!
        • Weekly post health update/sleeve progress  CHECK!
        • Weekly post new art CHECK!
        • Increase follower on blog and Facebook
    As a commitment to myself, I will be posting a monthly update on my blog to see my  progress throughout the year.  

    Sunday, March 29, 2015

    Feeling a Little Loopy-Zendoodling

    Feeling a Little Loopy by Bobbi Jo Hickman
    I was focused on creating a ZenTangle journal page.  

    re sImage result for totally tangled zentangle and beyondIf you are not familiar with ZenTangle Art or Zen Doodling, there is a wonderful book to help introduce the process called Totally Tangled by Sandy Steen Bartholomew.

    I love that with just a few supplies, 3x3 paper or ATCs, Sharpie pens, I can create while on the go.  I find the practice to be relaxing and meditative.  There are so many ways to create designs, the repetitive nature of the process helps instill the focus I require which helps me perfect my pattern making skills, as well as, boost my confidence and comfort levels using new patterns.   Allowing me to experiment with new patterns it has been so helpful to me as it has allowed me the confidence to introduce new pattern designs to my media art. 

    Sunday, February 8, 2015

    What a Cocky Cardinal

    My journal page is impressed by the hard cold midwest winter.  Seems the only bird flying about is Illinois' state bird, the cardinal.

    He was created in my journal using acrylic paints, watercolor, and a black sharpie.

    The design of the bird was inspired by one of my favorite artist, Charlley Harpers.  The art brilliantly captures my love for animals and simple line design. You can see more of Charley's work at Charley's website.



    Saturday, January 24, 2015

    Art is a Work in Progress!

    Hi Rock Girl Peeps!

    I am sorry but this week has been busy for me, so I do not have any completed pages to show you today. 
    However, I do have a lot of Art in the middle of the process.  I thought it would be good to see my art in a different creative stage instead of just the completed piece!


    Here are three of my skullie girls that I am working on.  They are all created using acrylic and Golden fluid paints.  Each are on stretched canvases 8X10.

     Red is for Roses....again just began working on this page.  I think I am going to redo the blue dripping paint in a more bright blue and online the roses in journaling.   Not sure, so if you have any ideas, please share!


    I love creating Whimsy Girls, I was taught how to create both the Skullie and Whimsy Girls by Megan King Saurez.  She does some great instructional classes, well worth the money.  Plus, she often has BOGO on here classes!  Here is the link if you are interested:

    I think that am going to use this piece to create my Beacon Girl for LifeBooks 2015!

    Question for you create your art one at a time or do you have multiple projects going all at once?


    Friday, January 23, 2015

    Peach Spinach Vanilla Protein Smoothie

    Peach-Spinach Vanilla Protein Smoothie
    I am really enjoying the process of creating smoothies!  I was not a smoothie person before my surgery, but going through a two week "fasting" process I discovered a new found appreciation for them!

    1 cup spinach leaves
    1 cup frozen peaches
    1/2 cup slice banana
    1/2 cup light vanilla soy
    1/2 cup fat free vanilla  Greek yogurt
    3-4 ice cups
    1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

    Place all the ingredients in a blender.  Blend at high speed until smooth!


    I just found this link about healthy food choices and they had a  chart for creating the best smoothies!

    Below is the link for more healthy food choices!

    Hope you enjoy this refreshing smoothie!  It is a great way to start your day or for a special treat!

    Thursday, January 22, 2015

    Week #4 Health Update FItBit

    Week #4 Health Update

     I am trying hard to focus on my food choices and reaching my daily activity goals.

    Here is my FitBit Progress for last week:

    I have to say I love my FitBit!  It has changed my life as far as exercise.  I am not a gymrat nor do I enjoy sweating.  So wearing this has become a true motivator for me.  I just walk, walk, walk and climb stairs.  When I  first started, I just did 2,500 steps daily and 3 flight of stairs.  Each week I  increased my daily goal, example, the following week I did 3,500 steps and 5 flights of stairs.


    My little FitBit helps keep myself accountable for it all!  I hate ending my day with only a flight of stairs left to met my 10 flight daily goal or only have 500 more steps to get to 10,000.

    Big Bonus, it tracks my weekly progress so I can show my doctor and nutritionist my activity levels.  (Again, with the accountabilty).  

    As part of my 2015 goals, I want to make more of an effort to track my daily activity.  

    For the week of January 16 to January 21 the total is....

    TOTAL STEPS=84,141

    TOTAL STAIRS= 98 flights

    TOTAL MILES=35.61



    TOTAL MILES=6.79

    TOTAL TIME AT GYM=193.45, 3 hours 22 mins

    If you are not tracking activity, I strongly suggest to start!  It truly has changed my life, remember I have lost over 40 lbs last year simply because I increased my daily activity, just by walking.

    Remember that is takes only one step to start your journey!





    Tuesday, January 20, 2015

    Art Feeds Your Soul Watercolor and Lettering Journal inspired by Joanne Sharpe

    Happy Art Wednesday!
    Working on Week #3 in LifeBook 2015, and this week's lesson was with the very talented Joanne Sharpe!
    She is known in the art world for her creative letter designs.  Her lesson was on how to create whimsical lettering to our art journals.

    The art journal page was completed using watercolors, black and white pens, and a ruler. I love creating floral motifs especially when they are whimsical!  ( LOVE the word WHIMSICAL!!!!)

    I loved the process of creating this colorful piece, I think it really hit home and brought back a lot of fond memories of elementary school penmanship/cursive classes.  I was always told I had good penmanship for a "leftie"!    Do you remember using that special penmanship paper with the lines?  I do, I loved it!  I think I loved cursive because it was so unique for one person to another, an individual's style was shown through their signature.

    Joanne Sharpe suggests to keep a "marble" notebook to test pens, markers, watercolor designs, and fonts.  Using the notebook will be ease the pressure of making mistakes and enjoy the creative freedom to find your whimsical lettering style! I personalized my new lettering art journal and will be carrying it with me to start my exploration of lettering, fonts, and general trial and errors for my art journal.  I plan on filling the journal with quotes and inspirations and hope that it will be become a useful resource for my future creative endeavors.

    To create my personalized journal, I took a blank comp book covered it with scrapbook paper.  The scrapbook paper covering the book is The Paper Studio Kirby Teesdale pack which can be purchased at Hobby Lobby.

    If you are interested in Joanne Sharpe's book here is the Amazon link for ordering:

    Embrace your whimsical signature! 

    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    VSG Health Update: Week 4

    Good day Peeps!

    On December 22, 2014 I had the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) or more commonly known as Sleeve Surgery.  As part of my own personal accountability, I wanted to post a weekly update on my progress.

    My Journey

    A quick history since I am beginning my blogging journey with you after I have had my surgery.  The journey began really in 2012 when I weighed my heaviest at 256 lbs.  I did not feel good inside or outside and it showed.  I felt defeated and  overall suffered from low self esteem.  At that point, I started my Weight Watchers journey, by the end of 2012 I had lost about 25ish lbs.  In 2013 I lost more weight being me down my lowest for almost a decade at 206 lbs.  By the end of 2013, my diabetes was starting to become a huge concern as my meds were increasing in doses and weight was starting to creep back on.

    It  was March 2014 when I had my annual physical I weighed in at 246 lbs.  I consider this day my wake up call to my immediate need for a healthier lifestyle.  My MD told me that my A1C hemoglobin blood sugar level was 12.0, the normal range is below 4 to 6.  She also told me that I was at the highest level of diabetes medicine and would have to move on to insulin if this last increase did not help adjust me levels lower.  I needed to lose significant amount of weight and of course the dreaded words for any fat person to hear "EXERCISE MORE."-UGH I was scared and frustrated with this news!

    I continued with Weight Watchers, started Seattle Sutton with their 1200 calorie premade meals and increased my exercise. Rarely did I go off my planned food diet. and I purchases a FitBit to start tracking my daily exercise.  My daily goals was 10,000 steps and 10 flights of stairs.  Most days I achieved my goals and on weekends averaged 15,000to 20,000 steps daily.  I  vowed I was not going to let my mind over run my sensibility and the desire to get healthy! I set a goal with my self to get off all my pills and to get to a goal weight of 175 lbs.  When I reached my goal, I would have a nice shopping trip and book a trip to Paris as my reward!

    My six month follow up appointment quickly approached in August 2014, at this time my A1C number dropped down to 10.  I stepped on the scale to only lose 10 lbs!  I immediately started weeping in the doctor's office, I really had a pity party for myself as I was eating healthy and on most days burning more calories than I was taken in and here is my weight....still no "real" movement.

    My MD understood my frustration, she easily can see I was following a new program as I was logging my food and had my FitBit weekly updates.  She  did suggestion the option of gastric bypass surgery as she felt all the years of Yo-Yo dieting has taken a toll on my body and believed that I would be a great candidate for the surgery which would ultimately help me gain control of my diabetes. I am 43 years old on seven different prescriptions and frankly tired of feel BLAH all the time.

    In all honesty, looking back I was in full denial about my stress levels and my overall happiness around this time, I was feeling really defeated weighing in at 246 lbs.  It took me several months fighting with myself to attend the Kane Surgical seminar about the different bypass options and the walk through of the procedures.

    As I sat looking around the room, I felt foolish being there.  I appeared to be one of the "smaller" people and felt out of place immediately.  A gentleman in the elevator cracked a joke that he hoped the elevator could handle all the this weight, which also ignited some real anger within me. The lack of compassion that comment had for other fat people was appalling.   I kept my feelings to myself and reminded myself the  commitment to healthier me was why I was there in the first place. 

    I schedule a consult with Dr. Peter Rantis that day and few weeks later met with him.  I chose the sleeve over the bypass (seemed to drastic) and over the Lap-band (to high maintenance).  It has been a world wind since I went for my consult with Dr. Peter Rantis Jr. at the Suburban Surgical Kane Center.  He agreed that I would a great candidate for the sleeve surgery and so began my countless doctor appointments, pre/post sleeve surgery care and nutrition classes.

    I kept focused and when I had my VSG surgery on December 22nd, I weighed in at 204lbs.


    1.  On Tuesday, January 13th, I was taken the last of my prescriptions!  All my diabetes meds. were removed when I was actually in the hospital.   All my levels were in the 70-90 range and my A1C was in 6.8
    I have been officially removed from my blood pressure and cholesterol prescriptions as well!  This is a HUGE milestone, and frankly the most important for me.  Now the weight loss is the bonus!

    2.  I am part of the One-der club!  I have not been in the 100's for over two decades.  Today, January 15, 2014 I weighed in at 192.3 lbs.  This is a weight lose of 11.7 lbs since my surgery three weeks ago!  A total weight lose of 62 lbs from my heaviest.  I think I am on the right track as I was told to expect to be losing around 10 lbs per month.


    Picture on left is me at my heaviest, right is post VSG three weeks.

    If you have any questions for me about the procedure, please feel free to ask!  I am willing to share my journey with you!

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    Reflection of myself 2015.

    As part of the 2015 Art Project, with Victoria Teasdale in Mexborough, United Kingdom

    The year long project is focused on creating art as a reflection on self improvement, self awareness, and self worth, self healing, and self compassion.   I thought it would be a great project since I am transforming my life with my recent choice of having Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) surgery. I have read many stories of the ups and downs of this process and thought this might be a great way to help me through the tough time that will surely come up!

    Week One kicked off  with a wonderful project exploring how the past has shaped us to be the person you are today. The words on my girl's shirts are words that I believe describe me or would like the world to see me as.

    Her eyes are closed as she reflects on her life.


    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Embrace the Wonderful Mess That You Are! Journal tag

    Participating in the the LifeProject 2015,  week two, playing tag with Roben-Marie Smith

    We were to create a tag using a word that would declare our 2015 intention.  Of course, if you read my previous post, my word for 2015 is "EMBRACE".

    The tag was created using pink polka dots scrap paper.
    I added a few circles that I punched using an old book.
    Painted the circles to create whimsical flowers using white, yellow, and pink acrylic pain.
    USed my sewing machine to 
    I used a Donna Downey stamp.  "Embrace the Wonderful mess that you are!"


    Sunday, January 11, 2015

    Embrace 2015!

    For 2015, I am participating in the LifeBook 2015.  For week one, we were to create a page of our 2015 intentions/declarations.  My word for 2015 is "EMBRACE" and hoping to incorporate my 2015 in future art I create.

    This products used to create "EMBRACE"
    Neocrayons II-Turquoise Blue, Pink, Raspberry Red, and Azurite Blue
    Acrylic paint-White
    Flourish Stamp by The Tim Holtz Collection
    Crafter's Pigment Ink-Black
    Stickles-Black Diamond
    Washi tape

     In the envelop is a list of my personal declarations for  2015.

    I choose "EMBRACE" as my 2015 because I feel like it will be a year of new opportunities, adventures, and most importantly an improved lifestyle for me as each day I become a healthier version of myself.  It will play as a reminder to myself to"EMBRACE" life and enjoy the 2015 journey!  

    So what is your word for 2015?


    Friday, January 9, 2015

    Outback (CopyCat) Walkabout Soup and Healthy Egg Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches

    Happy Friday Peeps! Hope you are as hungry as I am!  I am heading into week#6 of no real food intake since my December 22nd gastric sleeve surgery.  Truly, looking forward the day I can crunch on a salad!  Surgery or not, it is not stopping me from cooking!

    As promised, I will be posting two recipes each week that I make.  One of my goals in 2015 is to take control of my food intake and making a more diligent effort in cooking rather than eating at  restaurants or take out!  Here is my first week of recipes! 

      Outback (Copycat) Walkabout 

    Cream Onion Soup 

    We finally started to have our real Midwest winter here, as we experience our first snowfall of 2015, below zero temperatures, and gusty winds.  Immediately I go into soup making mode (especially since I am in the blended food stage of my post surgery diet!)  This is not a new recipe for the Hickman kitchen, I have been making this recipe for at least the last five years and there is never any soup leftovers to even freeze for future use!  


    2 cups of yellow sweet onions, thinly sliced
    2 tablespoons of butter
    1 (15 ounce can) of chicken broth
    1/4 teaspoon of salt, pepper
    2 chicken bouillon cubes
    1/4 cup Velveeta cheese, cubed and compressed in measuring cup
    1 1/2-1 3/4 cups of white sauce (recipe below)
    cheddar cheese as garnish on top of soup

    3 tablespoons of butter
    3 tablespoons flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 cups of whole milk

    DIRECTIONS for Soup

    In 2-quart saucepan, place butter and sliced onions.  Saute on low to medium heat, stir frequently.  Onions should be soft and clear but not browned.

    Add chicken broth, chicken bouillon cubes, salt and pepper.  Stir until completely heated through.

    Add white sauce and Velveeta cheese which will thicken the soup to its creamy consistency.  Simmer on medium-low heat until cheese is melted and all ingredients are blended, stir constantly. 

    Turn temperature down to warm and let simmer for 30-45 minutes.

    DIRECTIONS for White Sauce

    In a 1-quart saucepan, melt butter and add flour.  Cook on medium heat until the flour turns thick and comes away from the side of the pan.

    Slowly add the milk, a little at a time and stir constantly.  Remember not to rush this part, stir constantly, this will prevent the white sauce from becoming  lumpy!  Add Salt.

    Mixture should be thicken and become like a thick pudding consistency.  Remove from heat and set aside to be added to the soup later.

    **Add On Garnishes**
    Russian Dark Bread
    Cheddar Cheese on top of soup
    Sliced up shallots
    Serve with biscuits
    bacon bits

    Healthy Egg Muffin Sandwiches

     I currently commute to Chicago which is a 1.5 hour trip on the train, so time is precious.  Making premade grab and go meals is part of my life especially at 5:30 in the morning! 

    This recipe is super versatile so feel free to substitute in your favorite meat or veggies.

    Here is one of my favorites freezer friendly meals!

    Egg whites (or cracked eggs)
    Mrs. Dash (original blend)
    Light American Cheese or shredded cheese
    Pick a meat, suggestions: ham slices, turkey bacon, lean chicken slices, turkey sausage patties
    Add any finely chopped up veggies you like.
    Light English Muffins


    Set your oven for 350 degrees.

    Pour egg whites in a bowl, sprinkle in pinch of salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash.  Mix together.  You may want to add some veggies, shredded cheese into your egg batter.  Maybe some spinach? Mushrooms?  Onions? 

    Use a cupcake tray and spray with Pam.  Or if you prefer a wider egg base, you can make the eggs in the microwave by using a  Tupperware container and cooking in microwave for 45-60 seconds.

    Egg Muffin CupsPour egg white mixture in cupcake tins, about 3/4 full, leave a little room because the eggs will fluff up while cooking! I cook my eggs on the oven for about 20 minutes, I always make sure that the eggs are a sponge like fluffiness.  If you prefer, you can also crack an egg and  bake as well!

    While the eggs are cooking, toast each of your muffins in the toaster.  I create an assembly line of toasted muffins, lay the American cheese and 2 slices of ham on each.

    Another option instead of muffins, is substituting with toast, or homemade biscuits!

    Once the eggs are cooked, pop them out of the tin and place on the bottom part of the toasted muffin.  Let cook down and packet on a Ziploc bag to freeze!

    Once you are at work, take muffin out of bag, wrap in a moist paper towel and cook in microwave for 30-45 seconds until heated to your liking!

    Sunday, January 4, 2015

    Welcome 2015!


    Happy New Year to you!  I am happy to welcome 2015!

    Do you believe in setting up resolutions for yourself each year?  Personally, I am not a resolutions kinda girl, but I am all about setting goals and dreams!

    It is deeply important to pause and take a minute to reflect on the previous year.  What where my blessings, lessons, challenges, achievements, from the prior year?  Everything from the good to the bad deserve celebration as it all made me the person I am today!  I remind myself to be proud to be still standing!

    Strongly, I believe, that we all get braver, wiser, stronger, and beautiful if we embrace life and all its lessons. As I reflect on 2014, here are some beautiful LIFE LESSONS I learned in 2014....
    •  CREATE.  Creating has become a life force for me.  I recognized that I am happiest when I am using my hands to design, paint, drawing, doodling or create something. 
    • ENDURE.  I have razor sharp focus.  When I have my mind set on something, usually nothing derails me from my course and I can overcome any life's challenges. 
    • CHANGE.  I can only be responsible for my own personal growth. I can actively support and encourage others in their own journey, but understand that is NOT my journey, it's theirs.
    • EXPLORE.  I am open to experience my life and the adventures it takes me on.  Truly open to embracing my life's journey.  Having an understanding that because of being open to explore and expose my true self, I am growing mental, emotionally, and physically.
    • LETTING GO.   Being someones vision/version of who they think I should be.  Still on the path of accepting that life is not about being perfect 100% of the time.
    • HAPPINESS.  Choosing to be happy.  I have begun to understand that I create my happiness, not others.  Others are in my life to  share my joy and love that is manifested by and through my happiness.
    Some of my LIFE DREAMS came true in 2014....
    •   I started my healthy lifestyle changes in March of 2014. First by embracing eating more healthy, embracing exercise into my busy life, took control of my medical issues.  
      • Lost 46 lbs in 2014
      • Walk 5-6 days a week, averaging 3-5 miles
      • Use FitBit to monitor my steps, reaching daily goals of 10 flights of stairs and 10,000 steps a day.
      • Having gastric sleeve surgery, or vertical sleeve gastrectomy on December 22, 2014. 
      • Being diabetic medicine free!  What a relief!
        • Reaching my goals at work= a great sense of accomlishment.
        • Continuing my education, successfully passing with "A"s in Business Communication and Business Math.
        • Attending my first art retreat in Olive Branch, Mississippi called "Art Is...You DixieOne of the most profound life moments as I was  surrounded by others that share the same love and intense passion to create.  Sal and Ellen put on such a wonderful and memorable retreat that I will  be forever be grateful to them for letting me join their "tribe".  
        • Meeting and taking a class by my art inspiration, the talented Jane Davenport.
        • Attending a local art weekend called "Create".
        • Taking my first road trip alone to Memphis, TN aka Olive Branch.
        • Selling a piece of art I posted on my FaceBook page.
        • Creating t-shirts using one of my paintings called "Rock Girl".
        • Exploring online art classes:
          • Supplies Me, Jane Davenpor
          •  48 Weeks Workshop with Donna Downey 
    I find great satisfaction and gratification in the process of accomplishing my dreams and goals.  It truly excites me to check off  items off my "to-do" list as each item represents another step forward to my personal and professional growth.  The actual process of listing my goals/dreams tend to drive me, as it is a personal commitment to myself, no matter if they are short or long term.

    So what is next for this RockGirl to accomplish in 2015?

      • Continue to exercise daily.
        •  Walk 5-6 days a week, averaging 3-5 miles.
        • Go to gym 2 days a week for strength exercising.
        • Use FitBit to monitor my steps, reaching daily goals of 10 flights of stairs and 10,000 steps a day.
        • Journal my blood sugar twice a week, food intake, exercise log.
        • Post my progress on a  weekly basis on my results from my gastric sleeve surgery, after 3 months on a monthly post.
      • Run two 5K races by October 2015.
      • Be healthy enough to be entirely free of daily medicine.

    Make two new meals a week, post my results on a weekly basis.
      • Reaching my 2015 goals at work.
      • Continuing my education
        • Spring course: Payroll Accounting
        • Summer course: Comprehensive Spreadsheets
        • Fall course:  Intro to Office Software 
      • Attending "Art Is...You" retreat in Minneapolis, MN in September.
      • Creating a horoscope series of paintings.
      • Creating new Creepy, but Cute drawings.
      • Create a series of Day of the Dead canvas art.
      • Sell 10 paintings this year. 
      • Attend an art walk.
      • Participate in art online classes, post weekly of any projects created and works in process.
        • Willowings: Life Book 2015
        • Art5Academy: Documented Life Project
        •  Christy Tomlinson: SheArt and Art Society
          • monthly art project: The Art Society  
      • Paris, France
      • New Orleans, LA
      • Portland, WA 
      • Post the following:
        • Monthly goals update
        • Weekly post new recipes
        • Weekly post health update/sleeve progress
        • Weekly post new art
        • Increase follower on blog and Facebook
    As a commitment to myself, I will be using the RockGirl blog to post my progress throughout the year.  I will be posting numerous updates per month, so you can check in on my progress as well! (Oh boy, I think they call this "being held accountable!")  

    May your New Year Sparkle and Shine!