Mom

Are Your Cute Flats Causing Your Knee Pain? 2018

Are your cute flats causing your knee pain?  Flat shoes don’t cause problems.  High heels cause problems. Right?  Not so fast.

We’ve known for years that high heels can be the cause of pain by putting additional stress on your knees and the muscles surrounding them.  They can also be the culprits of unexplained hip pain and put your back out of alignment.  But did you know the same can be true for flats?!

If you have poorly defined arches, or flat feet, your ankles likely pronate a little or a lot.  Pronating means  your foot and ankle roll inward, and without a supportive shoe it can cause your ankle and knee to be thrown out of alignment which can result in pain and soreness in your ankle and knees.  This can and does lead to hip and lower back pain – not to mention Advil and Tylenol.  How do I know this? Experience my friends.

 

Over time pronation can result in inflammation of the anterior and posterior tibial tendons in your ankles and feet and can cause damage to the bones, ligaments and tendons in your feet.  According to podiatrist Phillip Vasyli in this article published in Shape Magazine ,”Excess pronation is a condition that affects 75 percent of the population and has been related to many conditions, such as heel pain (otherwise known as plantar fasciitis), knee pain, and even lower-back pain”.

The problem with flats is that they usually have very little if any support.  Think flip flops, ballet flats, even sandals and loafers.  Most have a thin sole, which don’t provide any shock absorption.  Even if there is some type of liner inside the shoe, it doesn’t have adequate arch support.  They’re so easy to put on and comfortable around your feet, you think they must be good for you, but without any structure to stabilize your footbed problems can arise.

A good shoe that supports your foot will have a decent sole thickness, meaning you won’t feel the ground you’re walking on.  They will also have some type of formed footbed including arch support to keep your foot and ankle from pronating, and possibly a slight depression where your heel hits, to cup your heel, and keep your foot aligned.

If you already have foot, ankle, knee, hip or lower back pain, ditch the flip flops and make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor.  Earlier is better.  Don’t wait until you can’t bend your knee to see someone.  The doctor will examine your feet and ankles.  They’ll analyze the way you walk.  Some even video tape your gait and can show you how your feet and ankles move when you walk.   They should do a full exam and possibly take x-rays.  If they recommend orthotics as a solution to your pain problems, there are usually options you can purchase though their office, but check the prices and shop around.  It’s often cheaper to get ankle and knee braces, or orthotics, outside of the office, on amazon or at a good shoe store.

If you love wearing flats like I do, you have a couple of options.  You can bite the bullet and go shopping for a pair of cute flats that have support built into them already.  Below are some links to a few places to help you start your search for supportive flats.  You may have to do some footwork (pun intended) to find a “cute” pair that have the support you need.  They aren’t all as fashion forward as we’d like, but you can easily find a pair at one of these sites to wear with casual outfits that will ease your pain.

Clark Shoes

ABEO Footwear

Barking Shoes

Dansko Shoes

Naot Shoes

Vionic Shoes

The Walking Company

Another option is to buy the shoes you like and separately purchase an orthotic insert to put into them.  Sneakers and athletic shoes are fairly easy to fit with inserts. My orthopedist recommended a brand called Super Feet Insoles which you can buy at most good shoe stores or online.  They come in several colors indicating several different support structures.  They are priced between $44.95 and $59.95.

I’ve found it difficult to put a full size insert into some shoes.  But recently I found a great option for a pair of flats I already owned.  My local New Balance store offers a  “Fashion Orthotic Insert” and you can buy it in store.  For some reason it isn’t on their website yet, but if you ask at a store the product number is NB100.  I researched it and it is actually made by a company called Aetrex Worldwide Inc.  You can buy it here on Amazon. (It just won’t say New Balance.)  One pair of these inserts will run you about $45.  They are light, fit easily into my flats, and have adhesive dots on the bottoms to make them stay in place.  So far they are working out well for me.

We already do a lot of things proactively to take care of our health.  We eat right, exercise, and take vitamins.  We also need to take proactive measures when it comes to our feet.  If we keep them in good shape they’ll be able to take us wherever we want to go for many years to come.

Be well:)  And please share if you find a shoe insert that has helped you relieve your knee pain.  I’d love to hear about it!

 

XO

Kate

 

5 Fun And Easy Ways To Use Decorative Paper!

5 Fun And Easy Ways To Use Decorative Paper!

I’ve been looking for a piece of decorative paper to add to the black and white gallery wall I’m putting together.  I found this great printed piece at The Paper Source for $4.95 on Friday.  It is a pressed handmade paper, with a cotton-like consistency.  The piece was very large- 20X30 inches.  I really only needed an 8X10 piece and I was thinking, gosh, I hate to waste it.  What else can I use if for?  So, I challenged myself over the weekend to find other ways to put it to good use  and I easily came up with five fun and easy ways.

First, I cut the 8X10 piece that I needed and put it into the white frame you see here at the very left.  I took a wider shot so you can get the idea of where I’m going with this.  I’m using a combination of printed paper, fabric, and watercolor that I’m doing in black and white.  It’s definitely a work in progress.

I had a gift to wrap this weekend, and I thought, why not?  I only needed a small piece.  I wrapped it up, added a gold bow, and viola!  My second use is as a super high quality gift wrap!

When I cut the paper to wrap the gift I ended up cutting off some smaller pieces.  So, I decided for my third project to play around with slicing some additional thin pieces and burying them in some layers of encaustic medium for a 3 dimensional effect.  This piece isn’t finished yet.  I only put it in this frame to get an idea of what the finished product will look like and I definitely think it needs some additional interest.  I put it aside to work on when I have more time.  Art is definitely an iterative process.

The fourth project required me to break out my stamps.  I made a 5X7 decorative placard with some watercolor paper as the background and the decorative paper.  I used a stamp (I already had) and embossed it with gold embossing powder which you can read more about here.  (I am totally addicted!)  I added some metallic gold around the edge of the stamped paper with a Gelly Roll pen, let it dry, and put it in an inexpensive frame (Home Goods $7.99)  I think this would look cute in a dorm room, don’t you?

For my fifth project, I thought I’d try the paper on some greeting cards.  Again this is just water color paper and decorative paper, stamps, ink…and of course…the glasses are embossed;) I like the yellow borders on the first card, and although it doesn’t translate quite as well here, it really pulls out the gold in the decorative paper and makes the card look “happy”.  I was going to make the outer edges of the second card in black, but I liked the way the gray looked -just a little softer.  After trying to make some valentine cards for the guys a few weeks ago, I though this could be a good card to send to a fella’!

 

Here is a bonus project. (I bet we can easily come up with five more ideas!) I used a small piece behind a photograph I had in a modern picture frame.   I like it the way it gives the photo a more defined framed look.  I still love the pattern, but it might be a little busy for my family room.   Oh, no…it might be time to go back to Paper Source to find another piece of decorative paper.  Hmmm….I’d better put that on the calendar for next month…or I might never stop this challenge.

 

This was so much fun!  What projects have you done with decorative paper that you enjoyed?  Please share:)

XO

Kate

 

 

Valentine’s Day 2018

I can’t believe it’s already February!  Valentine’s Day is just around the corner…

I know there are two camps of people when it comes to this holiday, but I honestly love Valentine’s Day.  I always have.  I don’t believe February 14th is just about romantic love.  While it can be about romantic love, for us it’s also about the love we have for our family and our children.  It can also be about celebrating the love you feel for your best friends, and don’t we usually do something special for our child’s teacher on Valentine’s Day? I think it’s so much fun to have a day to celebrate the love we feel for all the special people in our lives.

Our family has always celebrated Valentines Day at dinner with our favorite little valentine’s – who are now definitely not so little anymore.  They are pretty much adults, and this year they are both very far away at college.   So, another first this year – my first valentine’s day in 22 years without any kids at home:(   Yeah.  I know what you’re thinking…stop that.

Our tradition has been to make a “fun” dinner that everyone agrees on and try to shape some part of it into a heart.  Heart shaped pizza became our staple.  Maybe it is at your house too?   And dinner has always, always,  been followed by a decadent chocolate dessert.  Because I also fall into that camp – Valentine’s Day must include chocolate.  This year I already know dessert will be a chocolate mousse pie by yours truly.  I’ll share the recipe and some photos in a future post.

 

So, without any kids at home I’m planning a little further ahead this year.  Since our kiddos will be enjoying their day at school, I’m putting together some Valentine care packages to mail so we can be with them in some small way.   I hope they’ll enjoy their treats from home and share with friends.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed,  I’ve scattered some simple card ideas throughout this post.  If you like one of them I hope you’ll find some time to make your own version – and please share if you do:)  I just used card stock, scrapbooking paper, stamps, a punch and a glue stick and got creative for an hour.  These are my favorites so far.  I had so much fun I’m definitely going to be making a few more!    I think I need to work on a few more “guy” cards, don’t you?

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!  And I hope it includes chocolate;)

XO

Kate

This little guy has been our whole family’s valentine for the last 13 years:)

Italian Lemon Cookies

I grew up just north of Boston, close to incredible Italian bakeries.  If you couldn’t find something where we lived,  you could be in Boston in 30 minutes, go to the North End and find almost anything.  I have to confess, I took it for granted.  I know, I know.  How could I take something like that for granted? I guess I just thought they were everywhere.  If you live in an area of the country where there are authentic Italian bakeries, first don’t take it for granted and second, please have an anginetti cookie for me!

When we moved to a city north of the Atlanta, 17 years ago I couldn’t find a single free standing bakery in a 10 mile radius.   I looked.  When I asked friends where they would go to buy nice pastries or a special dessert the answer was always Publix or Kroger.  The grocery store?   Yeah. Uh… that’s not the answer I was hoping for.  (Thank Goodness there was a Dunkin’ Donuts in the next town.  No DD, no bakeries, as a Bostonian, I can’t even…;)

Fast forward to this weekend. I was going through some old recipe cards my mom had given me over the years, and I had totally forgotten about one from an elderly Italian woman who lived across the street when I was growing up – Mrs. DeBurro.  It was for her lemon cookies.  My mom loved them.  I was so excited I decided to make them right away and figured I’d drop some off for mom.   I had to run to the store for the lemon extract, but other than that I couldn’t believe how simple they were.  They only thing that made it a little difficult were words like “a pinch of salt” and “some confectionary sugar”.  She passed away a long time ago, so, without any way to clarify, I’d just have to see how it went.

I made the cookies according to her recipe (only with a little more flour because she said to add flour so the dough wasn’t too sticky).  I was so excited when they came out of the oven. I broke one open, let it cool for 30 seconds, and popped it into my mouth.  And….not exactly what I expected.  It tasted more like a little warm lemon bread than a cookie. (Important Note:  If you’ve made it this far, you need to read to the end of this post…because as John Lennon said…”Everything will be okay in the end.  If it’s not okay.  Then it’s not the end.”)

At this point I was really craving the Italian lemon cookie I had in my mind.  So, of course,  I went on Pinterest.   I was convinced Mrs. D  must have just left out an ingredient!  If I could figure out what it was I could make them again and add it.

I came across a few recipes that looked similar.   One was made by Proud Italian Cook and used butter instead of oil like Mrs. D.  (Here is a link to the Proud Italian Cook’s recipe.) But that was the big difference.  Maybe I just needed to make a whole new cookie.  I decided to try the Proud Italian Cook’s recipe as I was really looking for an authentic Italian cookie.  So, back to the grocery store I went for more flour, butter and lemon extract.   A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon;)

The second recipe came together pretty quickly as well.  (If you decide to make it, definitely take the time to cool the butter and then put it in your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment for about 6-8 minutes and you will see the butter and sugar start getting really creamy!  I thought a few minutes in nothing was going to happen, but it does.)

While the second lemon cookies were baking I figured I’d at least frost the first cookies as directed with “some confectionary sugar, a little milk and a little lemon extract”.  (I promise, word for word, those were the directions. You’ll see.)  I had to finish them -OCD;)  I dipped the two dozen cookies I had made into the glaze and set them aside to dry.  (I didn’t finish baking all the dough at that point. They easily made two dozen more cookies.) Then, I finished baking the Proud Italian Cook’s cookies and then put her frosting together – very specific measurements – confectionary sugar and limoncello.  Very nice.

At this point my husband came in the kitchen, and just stood there, staring at all the cookies I had made, with a look that pretty much said, have you gone completely crazy?  So, I told him the short version.  First ones – not what I expected.  Second ones – I think better.  I told him he was welcome to try them and let me know what he thought.

So, he tried the first ones, and he said, “what’s wrong with them?”  Huh?  “What do you mean?  Don’t they taste like lemon bread?”   “No.  They taste like cookies…just softer. ”   So, I picked one up and bit into it  (I am definitely going to gain weight blogging. LOL!)   At that point, several hours out of the oven, completely cooled,  with a nice glaze soaked in…he was right!  They were really good!  No way!   In fact, they reminded me of the cookies from the bakery!  Way to go Mrs. DeBurro!  I’m so sorry I ever doubted you!

So, now I have two lemon cookie recipes! And I will definitely visit The Proud Italian Cook again – just followed her on Pinterest;)  Below is the recipe Mrs. DeBurro used for so many years.   Just don’t add too much extra flour… frost them well… and let them cool for a few hours before you try them.

Buon Appetito!

 

Mrs. DeBurro's Italian Lemon Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 dozen
Ingredients
  • FOR COOKIES...
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 Tablespoons Oil
  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • a pinch of salt (I used ¼ teaspoon salt)
  • 4 Cups of flour
  • FOR FROSTING...(See my notes below)
  • Confectionary Sugar
  • Milk
  • Dash of lemon extract
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs, oil and sugar together. Add the milk, vanilla and lemon extract.
  2. In another large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt until well combined.
  3. Gradually add the flour to the egg mixture until the dough is firm, but not sticky
  4. Roll small pieces of dough into walnut sized balls and place on a greased cookie sheet (I used parchment paper)
  5. Bake at 375 for approximately 10 minutes. Until bottoms are light brown.
  6. For frosting - mix some confectionary sugar and some milk with a dash of lemon extract. Brush cookies with glaze. It will have a smooth glaze over the whole cookie (I used 2 cups of confectionary sugar, 4 TBSP of milk and ½ teaspoon of lemon extract - beat ingredients together with a whisk until smooth and then dip the cookies and put on a cookie rack to dry.) You can dip twice or just make the glaze thicker if you like more frosting.
  7. NOTE: Cover cookies loosely as they will stay wet if you cover completely with Saran Wrap. They tastes even better day 2!!

 

Time for Change…

 

A quote was dogging me for months last spring.  I know you’ve heard it,  “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. – Socrates”  Over and over it appeared.  I felt like it was everywhere.

At the time I’d been volunteering for years with parents and teachers, trying to improve our large urban school district.  Unfortunately, anyone involved with public education today knows that means spending a lot of time in a “negative space”,  often speaking at school board meetings, and to politicians, who look at their computers while you’re talking, and pay more attention to parliamentary procedure than to the students and parents they represent.  It can be aggravating and disheartening – but students are important to me.  So I kept working.   And the quote kept appearing.  By October of last year it really had my attention.  I  committed it to memory.

I started to wonder if it was some kind of sign.  Maybe it was encouraging me to build something new in education? But what?  We had tried so many things in the past six years.   It was always one step forward, two steps back.  Ugh!  I call it the dance of educational frustration.

Then, a few chance meetings.  The first last summer with an artist on a trip to New England, and another, the following month, with a freelance writer while discussing an article. The positivity and excitement I felt during those discussions were so refreshing!  I started to wonder if it really might be time for me to make a change.  Maybe I needed to stop working in education?  But I had put in so much time and effort.  Part of me didn’t want to stop while another part was eager to work with such optimistic people in an encouraging space.

I can only imagine what I was feeling at this point was something akin to what it feels like to be in an abusive relationship.  I wasn’t happy.  I was tired of banging my head against a wall,  and yet I didn’t know how to quit.  I wanted it to work out.  In my case to make a positive difference in public schools in Georgia.  In my mind I think I knew it was time for change, and yet I kept showing up, hoping things would improve, knowing full well they wouldn’t.  I’m sure I’m not the first person to have felt that way.

Leaving started making sense to me, but I didn’t want to let people down.  I spoke to a few close friends about how I was feeling.  All the while that silly quote was bouncing around in my head.  How could I possibly focus on building something new and positive and when I was spending all my time trying to get school board members, who refused to listen?  I think at one point I actually said out loud, “OK. Talk universe. I’m listening.”

In my personal life my mother has been living with Parkinson’s Disease for the last 19 years. It has been a difficult and emotional journey.  Those of you who are helping to take care of parents who are ill while bringing up your own children (the sandwich generation)  know it can be stressful, especially when you don’t have siblings around to help share the burden. (I have to say here my husband and my kids have been amazing and patient and helpful.  I am very blessed.)

I have sadly, and sometimes angrily, watched my mother’s health deteriorate in more recent years.  Due to this, living a positive and creative life has taken on more importance for me.  I know life is short and precious. My mother, who is now  in a wheel chair,  often says I rush around too much. “You’re so busy! Just slow down!”  But, because of my experience with her disease I feel a sense of urgency about life.  I need to do things now, because someday, hopefully a long time from now, I may not be able to.

So during this time of raising my children, volunteering in education and helping take care of my mother I’ve spent any free time  I had working on creative projects.  Being creative has always been the way I recharge my batteries and renew my spirit.  It somehow allows me to think through even complex problems and come up with new solutions.  Maybe it’s just getting away from the actual dilemma and turning my analytical brain off for a bit.   I had always loved the ability to think outside the box and create something new.  And then it hit me… like a lightening bolt.  “The secret to change is to spend all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  I had been building something new every time I had a spare moment.  In those moments I always felt positive and uplifted and I often wished I had more time to spend on it.  Ok, universe I hear you.  But, what was I supposed to DO with this knowledge?  Was this a path I was supposed to take?  And if so, how?

So I started by connecting with other creative women and asking questions and I’ve discovered that women are truly born creators.  For goodness sake we have the ability to bring human life into the world;)   Whether it’s having children, creating a home or pursuing a career -making something new is a part of who we are.  It’s in our DNA.  I think we all have it whether we believe it or not.  And there are countless ways to express it.  The creative moms I’ve met are filled with an energy and positivity that is catching and encouraging.  I never felt that dealing with school systems and governmental bureaucracy.

As I embrace this new path I’ve realized that being creative somehow feels like breathing to me.  I’ve found that some creative endeavors have been easy while others have absolutely taxed me.  I think the feelings we have are a kind of emotional roadmap.  Maybe it’s our soul, or some kind of divine spark,  trying to lead us in the right direction.  I know others feel the same way.  While I’ve moved on from some things I’ve tried,  I’ve become even more passionate about others, and I feel encouraged to dive deeper.  At the center of everything I have felt drawn to over the years has been the  manipulation of color and texture and making something new that didn’t exist before.

Being creative is a passion for me.   Even if I go a few days or a week without putting a brush to paper or wax to a board,  I find myself thinking about an idea, making a sketch, or noting some colors or patterns I’d like to try together.  These days I’m spending a lot more time on it.   I primarily work in encaustic and watercolor right now, although I still like to play with acrylic on canvas from time to time, and I’ve committed to making at least one quilt a year;) I’m sure there are other mediums I haven’t yet discovered that I will try at some future point.  (Ceramics maybe?)  I just know that somehow I’m on the right path.  I no longer feel negative and frustrated.  I look forward to getting up early in the morning, even on the weekends, making coffee and seeing what my day holds!  What I am spending my time on feels right. It makes me happy and I hope I will remain healthy enough to do it for a long time.

So, this year I not only hear Socrates words, I am embracing them.  I will “spend my energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” and see where it takes me.   It’s a totally new venture for me, and I’m equally nervous and excited to explore it.  I’m committed to being creative every day  – whether that means creating a piece of encaustic art, or watercolor, making greeting cards for my mother to sign to keep in touch with friends,  creating a new cookie recipe, building a headboard, or blogging about this creative life.  I’m going to focus positive energy on building it.   I hope this will allow me to connect with more women who are finding themselves on a new path.  Maybe we can encourage each other to build something new.

Below is a photograph of an encaustic piece I’m currently experimenting on with several types of ink.  I’ll let you know how it comes out in a future post;)

I wish you good health and creative thoughts!

XO

Kate

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