The Instagram Diet


My most devoted dieting happened in the four months before my wedding.  There is nothing like a wedding dress and a photographer to give you willpower and nothing like having a few kids to take it all away.   Before my children were born I did stay on a pretty strict diet of  healthy foods for the sake of a healthy baby, but that all changed when they were old enough to request a grilled cheese sandwich, and young enough to eat just four bites from the middle, leaving the absolute best grilled cheese crusts on their plate.  Need I say more?

I turned to the help of the professionals at Weight Watchers for some assistance in finding a smaller waistline but I’m pretty quick to forgive myself a late night brownie and a glass of red wine.  It’s definitely not in the best interest of weight loss to do that, and for those of you serious about shedding pounds, indiscretion is not recommended. In addition to Weight Watchers, I’ve also tried Jenny Craig, Atkins, the grapefruit diet, the liquid diet, and every combination of fat carb and fiber you can think of.   I haven’t however, tried the Instagram Diet.

I googled Instagram Diet and as is turns out this was not an original term. It was however, an idea that occurred to me while on vacation last summer.   And while I’m a not a fan of food pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the rest of the social media sites, I have to admit that there may be something to it when it comes to our diets.

So here’s my version of the Instagram Diet.  Do NOT eat anything that isn’t worthy of a post on Instagram.  Simple right?   I am hoping it will make me put down the food and pick up the camera, take a minute to appreciate the work that goes into food prep, and maybe use a fork and a pretty plate instead of my fingers and a coffee filter as a tray.

I have no idea how this will work out but I’m going to try it starting tomorrow. For those of you weight watchers fans, I will do my best to do the food calculations but for the most part, this is about making my picture foods “pretty enough to eat”  and I’m making a commitment to a seven day trial.  We’ll see how this goes.

If you are interested in watching what happens feel free to follow me on instagram and twitter, at helensgoodideas.   So, here’s hoping that this is in fact a good idea…  the proof will be in the pudding, or more accurately – in the picture.




Have a Good Snow Day!

This is Doris.

Brenda   b. 2/3/14   d.  2/5/14  


There is nothing like a snow day.   It’s inconvenient and stressful  when you must shovel, go to work, or seek help with the kids, but how can you fail to see the beauty in a snow day?   What a lovely fluffy white gift from above!   I get happy just thinking about the chill from outside that makes me turn up the thermostat and dress a little warmer.   Wet socks and mittens drying on  the heater vent  gives me a craving for tea and good movies, baking and card games.    Call it snowstorm mojo – Snowjo.  


Another snow day  tradition I embrace is the pre-storm grocery trip.  The parking lot is packed, milk and bread fly off the shelves like they have wings and you get to feeling like kids at the end of the movie High School Musical when they sing “We’re All in This Together.”   Of course, none of us would starve if we were snowed in for a day or two but it’s the camaraderie and tradition that trump all else, people giving you permission to go off your diet and throw in that box of chocolate covered donuts that you would otherwise never.


Snow days  make exercise fun too.  It’s paramount that those of us lucky enough to experience snowman building pass the skill down to our children.   Making a snowball and rolling it through wet snow to get it just the right size, then packing and forming it to just the right shape.   Lifting it up and setting down just so requires skill and luck, and failing at least once.  But when the large snow ball breaks up falls in pieces on the ground, there is no deterrent for success.  You just start again.   But the best part of the snowman is when you add the eyes and the nose, the hat and the scarf, and you see a personality there, even if it’s gone by dark from a warming trend.  For the short term, you have a friend. 


On my very short list of reasons to accept life in the suburbs, snow days are number one.  Unlike cities where you can get most anyplace using a subway system, we rely on cars and  school  busses which require safe and passable roads, and plowed parking lots.   So there’s the  bonus.  When the snow makes our roads impassable and requires plowing, we pass the time shoveling out our cars along side of neighbors, offering hot coffee and talking about what we all can talk  about in the suburbs — the weather.


Here’s a couple of links to get you motivated for this weekends predicted 10″ snowfall.  If you are lucky enough to have a snow day soon, make the most of it. 

 Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookies   and   How to Build the Best Snowman in the Neighborhood  .   


If You Ever See Me Knitting

Old loves. We don’t talk about them much do we?   How the one who gazed so  lovingly into our eyes went ahead and ripped our young hearts to shreds, leaving us broken and sad and searching for answers?  How do we recover from this unbearable pain?  How indeed?   I’m afraid there is no pat answer because the variations of breakups, makeups, and moving on is far too diverse. But in time we do recover and most often completely  intact.  Like a skinned knee that bleeds and stings so badly  at first that we can barely walk until the soreness eases, the bleeding ends, and a scab forms.  Then there’s just a slight itch and soon you  look down to find that it completely healed while you were busy doing other things.


When my first love left me for another I was devastated.  Friends and family granted me a  reasonable mourning period during which my days were mostly apathy and sad movies.  Letters to nobody in particular filled my need to immortalize the misery.  Finally sick of supporting  my extended post-mortem grief,  my mother suggested that I stop staring at the phone and  use it to call a friend, but all I wanted was to continue the pity party from which my friends had long since departed.  Eventually mom handed me two knitting needles and  a bunch of yarn and said “here, make me something.”  I considered the project while she stood there, gift in hand, until it became abundantly clear that she wasn’t moving until I accepted her offer.


I tugged the loose end from a skien of yarn and wrapped it around my hand.  With the other hand I picked up the smooth shiny knitting needle and manipulated the yarn, one stitch after another, until I’d assembled a tidy row of thirty small woolen soldiers.  I had to focus on two needles and ten fingers and yarn all at once in order to make the next set of stitches the exact right amount of tight and even.  I knitted  until I saw a shape, a square that turned into a rectangle and then a scarf.  But I wasn’t done.


I remembered how my friend’s grandmother made afghans from similar thick stripes of yarn.  She made them in  combinations for team colors, school colors, baby colors, etc. I could certainly find a color combination that was suitable for mourning.  But my thinking must have changed at the store where I was met with endless colors of and styles of  yarn, plushy and inviting,  a big rainbow that I wanted to hug and take home with me.  I didn’t realize the shift in my thoughts at the time but I walked out with ample supplies in happy colors of blue and yellow,  not exactly mourners hues.  And so began my healing.


I started  knitting compulsively and the full sized blanket took about a week.  As soon as it was finished I gave the handiwork  to my mother who raved about it and encouraged me to make another.   The second one took a little longer, with different colors and shapes joined together for a larger afghan.   Slowly and surely like a skinned knee, my broken heart mended while I was busy doing something else. 


I stopped at the second blanket, the one I still use today, over thirty years later.  I remember thinking  if I ever had that heartache again  I would combat  the sadness by making another.   I suppose I should be happy to report that as of today I still have just  one.



Pick a number, any number.

I tried to start this entry by typing in my real, true age, but I can’t. Either my finger reflexes block my brainwaves or my brainwaves block my finger reflexes but every time I try this I have a synapse misfire. It all stems from the fact that I hate growing older. I really do.

My coping mechanism for aging is denial. I recently read an article about denial, defined more or less as a human defense mechanism against accepting an obvious truth. The article referred mainly to those with a plethora of harmful and uncanny addictions, but it was plainly put, an obvious truth.


When I turned 50 my husband thought it was a good time to pay attention to my birthday. “Do you want a party,” he asked, “or a special present?” “What I want” I replied, “is to not be fifty.” When he said that he couldn’t actually do that, I said, “then I want nothing.”

I find very little good about aging. I’m wiser yes, but more bruised. I’m wealthier too, but more tired. Am I happier? I guess it depends on the day.

I’ve noticed a trend lately from women of a certain age who claim that being older is better because they are judged for their smarts and not for their sex appeal — really ladies? I can’t think of a single time when a little sexual tension didn’t work in my favor, but only if I had the goods to support it. Then again, those of us who have relied solely on sex appeal to for recognition probably aren’t the ones saying “thank goodness that’s over!” Personally I still want a little sex appeal but I have to appeal to a different crowd, the elderly will still flirt with me you know.

My good friend is a professor at a local college. She gets me. She told me that one of her students recently commented approvingly about a sweater she was wearing. This made her feel smart and trendy and welcome for ten to fifteen seconds until her student added, “Can you tell me where you got it because I think my mom would like one.” Shot down again. It’s not that we want to spend our social time with twenty somethings – we just want to know that we could do so without being considered the chaperone.

I had a recent epiphany however in dealing with these advancing numbers. You don’t actually have to celebrate your chronological age. Just pick a number. Next October I am going to celebrate my 32nd birthday. The good news is that I don’t remember if I ever celebrated being 32 so it won’t be a repeat performance. The bad news is that I have to write this all down on my calendar because otherwise I will never ever remember.