For the Love of Sleeves

This is an open letter to all you fashion designers, clothing manufacturers, retail fashion buyers and fashion editors.  You know who you are, the ones who decide what is going to be “in” each season.


Since fashion is decided months in advance I am begging you please to make women’s clothing with some sleeves for next spring and summer.


I know that I am not the only woman who does not like her arm fat to flap in the air. Even women who I consider to be very skinny sometimes have beautifully toned upper arms on one side and some chicken gobbler flab on the other side.


If you are having trouble picturing this hold your arm up in the air as if you are making a Popeye fist, upper arm perpendicular to your body, elbow bent at a right angle with your fist above your head level.  While looking in the mirror, make a fist and look at your beautiful muscles on the top of your arm.  Now shake that arm back and forth, did the bottom wobble at all?


I don’t mean to insinuate that your arms are anything but gorgeous.  But mine are not.  No matter how much I work out and diet only one side really improves.  Not the end of the world.  The answer is sleeves.  They cover a multitude of issues, if I could find summer clothes with them.


My proof that I am not the only one looking for clothes with some semblance of sleeves is that all the summer clothes available in store now are sleeveless.  Granted it is the end of the season, but even with prices slashed to 25% of their original cost most of the items are sleeveless and no one is buying them.


I asked a sales clerk in the dress department at Belk if she had any dresses with sleeves and I swear to God this is what she said, “Honey, if you wanted to sleeves you had to be here in March.  All those dresses sell out fast.”


The pashmina has been the answer to so many women trying to find ways to cover those naked arms, but sometimes you don’t want to have an extra thing wrapped around you.  So fashion deciders, vote yes for sleeves.  Those dresses sell.

It’s Not My Hair

The absolute worst thing anyone can say to a person who is trying to lose weight is, “Your hair looks great today.”


I have horrible hair, so you would think I should be happy if anyone thinks my hair looks great.  Which I have to say is almost never.  I have mousey brown, thin, lifeless hair.  I am also a hairstyle moron.  Meaning that I can hardly hold a round brush and a hairdryer at the same time without needing to revert to scissors to free myself from my appliances.


I grew up in the Marsha Brady era of straight hair, parted in the middle.  I was thankful as a young teen that my lackluster, no style, no body hair just happened to be in Peggy-Lipton-Style back then.  Alas, those hippie days only lasted long enough for me to get into the 80’s and be small hair styled in the big hair times.


But I digress.  Today when someone I don’t see often runs into me and they say, “Wow, your hair looks great.”  I want to say, “It’s not my hair.  It’s the fact that my face is thinner thus making my hair look better on my head.  But the hair it’s self, still not so great.”


Next time you see someone and think, did they change their lipstick color, don’t say that.  Instead say, “You look great.”  The person will either say, thank you or tell you what is different about themselves.  If it is the lipstick, you can silently pat yourself on the back for being so observant.


There is nothing worse than not getting credit for hard work.  I have been dieting like crazy.  I would hate for someone to look at me and say, “You must have gotten a good night’s sleep last night.”  That could be grounds for strangulation.  I don’t want credit for lying in bed, but I do want credit for upping my intensitiy on the elliptical.


So if you really want to give someone a compliment and want them to love you for it, make it open ended and over the top.  Now you can’t do that with me now, because I will just think you got the idea from my blog.  So go ahead and compliment my hair and my wink back to you will let you know we are both in on the joke.

No Way To Lose Weight

My great friend Lynn has had a terrible week.  First she got food poisoning so bad that she had to go the emergency room where they kept her for six hours.  Then last night her cat had a heart attack right in front of her and is now in kitty heaven.

Lynn is a world-class animal lover so she has taken this loss harder than the average pet owner and still being weak from the food poisoning has not helped.

To try and help her take her mind off her beloved cat I picked Lynn up and whisked her off to the place that makes her happier than anyplace on earth, Starbucks.  While there enjoying her Venti Green tea latte, with two pumps and no foam (I know her order by heart, but don’t really know what it means) we got to discussing how much weight you lose when you are sick.  Although Lynn has nary an ounce to spare, food poisoning can really do a number on your number on the scale.

This conversation brought back to mind the worst time I ever was sick.  Back in the 80’s when I was selling mail opening and extracting machines, yes, reread that last thing, I sold machines that opened envelopes and took the contents out.  So, back then I used to travel four states selling and then installing these big machines.

They were called OPEX machines and the kind of companies that bought them were ones who were getting lots of mail everyday full of money.  Places you pay your bills to…   think banks, utilities and mail order houses.  My territory, being in the south, also had the majority of televangelists as clients too; Jerry Falwell, Jim and Tammy Faye Baker and Pat Robertson.

One week when I was about 25 years old I was spending four days at Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) campus installing twelve new OPEX machines.  CBN needed so many machines because the 700 Club TV show received hundreds of thousands of envelopes a week all with money in them.

I will never forget the sweet woman Gail, who ran the donations department.  She was a calm Christian woman who was one of my nicest clients.

Installing new equipment meant that I had to train her whole department of three shifts of workers how to run the machines.  Running a mail-opening machine is about the easiest job on earth, but teaching people to do it day, evening and midnight shifts was not.  My first day there went fine, but by the second day I was not feeling well, and I mean really rough.

Gail came out on the shop floor and could see by the gray color I had taken on that I was not well.  I told her I thought I needed to go back to the hotel and she said she had a better place to take me first.

CBN was Christian Broadcasting Network University (Now known as Regent University), so I thought Gail was taking me to a nurse or the infirmary.  Practically delirious with a fever she guided me down long hallways until she opened a door of a giant room that was bright and full of people.  At first I thought I had died and this was heaven because there was beautiful music playing and the light was blinding.

Before I knew where I was Gail had led me down an aisle and up to a stage.  When then music stopped I heard her voice, strangely amplified, ask someone to heal me that I was sick.  I felt people touching me and just then I threw up all over the floor.

As horrible as it was to throw up I felt suddenly better for just a moment and in that brief second I realized I was not at an infirmary, but I was on a television set.  Gail had brought me to be “healed” and I had thrown up on live TV.  I saw the cameras and the audience and turned and ran, somehow finding my way out.

I have little memory of driving myself back to my Hampton Inn where I stayed holed up in my room for two days sick, as could be.  I eventually improved enough to drive myself back home to Washington D.C.   My service tech finished the install at CBN without me.

A month later I had to return to CBN and see Gail.  She was said I looked much better.  I asked her if I was the first to throw up on the TV show and she said yes, as far as she knew.  I told her the only good part was that I had lost 9 pounds that week from being sick.  We both agreed that it was the worst possible way to lose weight.

Balsamic Vinegar Peaches

I bought some beautiful to look at, yet somewhat hard peaches at the Farmers Market.  I left them on the counter to ripen and they did not quite get to that juicy peach stage I wanted.  So to help them along I peeled them and sliced them and cooked them a few minutes.  I love how this recipe turned out.  Almost like having a peach pie, but easier and oh-so-much healthier.

5 peaches peeled and sliced

2 T. Balsamic vinegar

5 packets of Splenda

Breakfast cereal for garish – I used protein plus special K since that is all I ever have.

Put the peaches, vinegar and Splenda in a saucepan and heat on medium heat for five minutes, stirring every so often.

Good served warm or cold.

I put a few peaches in a ramekin and sprinkled a little cereal on top for crunch.

Dana’s Bra Strap Shortening Station

This morning while at a meeting with a group of female friends we invariably got off subject and turned the discussion to bras.  I know that you men will be thrilled to learn that women are sitting around talking about bras, but get your minds out of the gutter.  We were not sitting around in only our bras talking.


The topic was the importance of the right bra and how it makes you look thinner and therefore younger.  For those of us for whom support was an issue we quickly narrowed the conversation from bras in general to bra straps.


For those of you who either don’t wear a bra or are so young and nubile that your breasts are where you would like them here is a glimpse into the future.


Everyone who has ever seen “What not to wear” or “Oprah” has heard about the importance of the right fitting bra.  No news there.  So when you go to Nordstrom’s and shell out $70 for that perfect bra, fitted by an expert who exclaims that this four hook-underwire-molded cup model is just right you buy it and three or four of the same style in different colors.


All is good in the world.  That is until that bra gets a little tired of hauling your girls up where they have not been in decades.  The answer is to tighten those tired ‘ole straps a little more.  This works until you reach the point that the little tightening do-hickey will not shorted anymore because your strap is at its shortest place.


The worst part about this happening is that by now you love this bra.  It is has molded itself into your actual shape and other than it not lifting as the lift and separate company Playtex told us a bra should do, you would like to keep it.


After much female coffee-klatch discussion on this problem the solution came to me.  A drive thru-bra-strap shortening station.  You could just pull up in your car and a gruff Eastern European woman with a hand held sewing machine could just take those straps up an inch and you will be back at attention.


No more is your belt acting as a bra.  People will notice you have an actual waist and you will not have to hell out multiple $70’s to get new bras whose straps have not given way.


So as soon as I invent the hand-held-bra-strap-sewing machine and hired a bunch of Ukrainians you will see Dana’s Bra Strap Shortening Stations popping up beside 7-11’s around the country.

My Wish – Fruit Cutting Super Power


Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows that fruit is one of the good things to eat.  Not only is it yummy and usually sweet, but most fruit is juicy.   Ok not bananas, but melons, peaches and pineapple are all wet chin inducing.  And all that juiciness is somehow satisfying.


Weight Watchers finally woke up last year and changed their diet program to allow people to eat as much fruit as they wanted.  In their old plan an apple was worth the same number of points as a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich, crazy huh?  Everybody ate ice cream sandwiches and wondered why they were not losing very much weight.


If I had known about this change Weight Watchers was going to make I would have shorted Skinny Cow’s stock because not only was fruit a “free” food, but the Skinny Cows were now three points instead of two.  A change they had to make to account for all this fruit everyone was going to be eating.


Not so fast.  Buying, cleaning, peeling, cutting fruit is a huge pain in my proverbial A*&.  Not to mention the cost.  Although I am not going to Weight Watchers, I am so well versed in the program from years of sitting through meetings, that I still look at all food and count the point values in my head.


Long before Weight Watchers made fruit free I was choosing blueberries over a graham cracker slathered with cool whip because I knew that eating fruit helped me loose more weight.


But if I were a super hero and could have one super power, other than the ability to eat what ever I liked and be skinny, I would chose the ability to point at fruit and turn it into fruit salad.


No more cutting the ends off pineapples, then the skin, then coring and chopping it into bite sized pieces.  Not another melon would need to be washed on the outside then dried thanks to Lysteria hysteria, then cut in half and had the seeds scooped out then the flesh scored into chunks and removed from the rind.  I love eating it, just hate prepping it.


But as far as I know no one is granting me a super power.  So if you ever get invited to my house for dinner and you want to ensure you will be invited back.  Leave the bottle of wine at home.  Bring me a fruit salad instead.

Cucumber Water – Are You Kidding Me?

I hate drinking my calories.  It is one of the reasons I don’t drink alcohol, that and I still have not found those underpants I lost in Miami in 1984, the last time I drank too much.


To my mind and stomach drinks do not register as food, even thick drinks like smoothies.  Well, maybe a milk shake might register, but I can’t figure that out now.


So I stick to non/low calories drinks, but not soda.  I drink tea and now to really give me variation I make regular tea and  ginger tea, which is just regular tea with a ginger root steeped in the water too.  I also drink water, both regular tap water and San Pellegrino.  That’s four big drinks.


This summer I discovered a new love, a taste so good that is practically feels like food, cucumber water.  Yes, water that has s few big slices of cucumber floating in it.  Actually I don’t even have the cucumber in my individual glass.  I just fill up a pitcher with cold water and drop about five half inch slices of peeled cucumber in and put it in the fridge.


In no time at all the water has taken on a crisp taste that hardly resembles water at all.  The best part…ZERO calories.  How can something so good have zero calories and I know exactly what’s in it.  In fact I grew what’s in it.


Drinking the cucumber water comes close to sipping a cool soup it’s that satisfying.  Have I lost my mind?  If you know me you know that this is a little out of character.  I must be so calorie deprived that I have started hallucinating.  There is no way that water and cucumber could bring me to such a state of nirvana.  I don’t really even like cucumbers alone that much.


Perhaps I have stumbled on the next drug craze.  The government is going to have to outlaw cucumbers because teenagers are going to sit around in groups drinking this and feeling some out of body experiences.


I guess I should have kept this secret to myself and just started bottling it.  If I marketed it as the next great tasting diet inducing high I could easily charge $10 a bottle.


So make it yourself.  Try it.  If you hate it you are only out a quarter of a cucumber, but if you love it, send me $9.  You get to keep $1 for buying your own cucumber.

The Garden is Over Flowing with Peppers- Stuffed Peppers


When I was a child my mother made four meals; hamburgers, spaghetti, baked chicken and stuffed peppers.  Three of the four involved ground meat.  I have to say the stuffed peppers were the best.


So now with my garden in full-on pepper production I thought I would revisit a taste of the 60’s.


4 large sweet peppers – or in my small pepper case, 8

1 lb of ground meat- I used whole food ground turkey thigh which has no skin ground into it

1 large yellow onion

1 cup of cherry tomatoes halved

2 eggs -beaten

½ c. Chili sauce (or ketchup)

3 T. Dijon mustard

1 t. salt

1 t. black pepper


Preheat oven to 350º.

Cut the peppers in half, lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and pull the stem off.


Mix all the other items together. Fill each half of pepper with meat mixture and place in a baking dish.
Bake for 45-mins to an hour depending on the size of your peppers.  Do I need to say small peppers take less time?


If you like things spicier add a few chili flakes to the meat mixture.  Serve with chili sauce.  (It’s near the ketchup at the grocery store.)

It Is Great to NOT Get Recognized

One of my major pet peeves is when someone introduces me to a person I have met many times before and the person acts like they have never seen me.  You know how that conversation goes.

“Mary, have you met Dana?”

Mary (name has been changed) looks at me dead in the face and says, “No.  Nice to meet you.”

What are you kidding me?  We have met like 13 times before.  I know you have three children, the last one who was a surprise, your husband hates his job and you walk the Duke trail Tuesdays and Thursdays.

My smiling response is “Nice to SEE you.”  I am southern.  I have met you before and if I responded “Nice to meet you,” it would imply I think it is the first time we have ever met.

Even if it really is the first time to meet someone I always say “Nice to see you” just in case I don’t remember meeting them.  There is no way we can remember every person we ever meet, but after three or four introductions you are running out of excuses.  If you are really bad with names just say, “I know we’ve met, but I am terrible with names.”

But now I have created a situation where people have the best excuse to not remember me.  I have lost enough weight that this last week three different people did not know who I was.

I am not famous so there is no reason for people to know me, but I am talking about real friends and colleagues who when I walked right up to them they looked at me like they had no idea who I was.  It was not until I spoke in my distinctively low, loud voice that tipped them off that they knew me.

One friend looked over my head and when I called her by name she said, “OMG, I was looking for Dana behind you.”

To me I have not changed that much, but I must look enough different to people who have not seen me all summer.  So for a while I will be excited when people don’t recognize me.  But if you ever get introduced to me just say, “Nice to SEE you.”  Even if you don’t mean it.

Better Than a Snack in the Snack Bar

Today while playing Mah Jongg a friend of mine reminded of an interaction she had with her then six year-old son.  Her son and my daughter Carter have been in school together their whole lives and now at thirteen would be horrified about this story.


My friend was taking her son to our club to go swimming.  While in the car on the way there they had this conversation:


Mother:  “Maybe some of your friends will be up at the pool.”


Son:  “Maybe”


Mother:  “Maybe some of your swim team mates will be up at the pool.”


Son: “Maybe”


Mother: “Maybe when we get there you can get a snack at the snack bar.”


Son: “Maybe.”




Son: “Maybe Carter Lange will be up at the pool and she is better than a snack at the snack bar.”


When my friend could get to a phone she called me and told me this word for word and we both roared because first of all our kids were six years old and second, nothing on earth is better than a snack in the snack bar to any kid.  Except maybe to her son on that day.


It got me thinking about how much American’s snack.  Everyday after school it’s the same question…Can I have a snack?  The answer is almost always yes.  But why?  Do other cultures all snack after school?


I watch these commercials for weight loss plans that send you the food you are supposed to eat.  They say things like, “We send you three meals plus two snacks a day.”  Eat, eat, eat, all through the day.


I have to say that I have cut snacking out of my routine during this challenge and not only do I not eat as much at meals and I don’t think about food as much.  I am just eating breakfast lunch and dinner and don’t eat anything after 8:00 unless I am at a party where they have not given me dinner until 8:00.


You can bet I don’t miss a meal, but I never have.  I certainly have not changed personalities and become one of those people who just eats to live, but I also am not sitting around waiting for a snack because I know I am going to get a whole meal soon, not a snack.  My friend’s son got part of the equation right.  A meal is better than a snack in the snack bar anytime.

No Dill Gravalax


My mother started calling me Dana-feed-the-5000 long before I knew there was a biblical reference for that name.  I have the affliction of making too much food whenever I cook.  My reasoning was not just for larger portions, but also for efficiency.  I still contend that leftovers are better than the first eating so let’s make enough to have leftovers.


For a while this summer there was just Russ and myself at home.  My frugal nature caused me to still buy a side of salmon for the two of us.  Even with leftovers a whole side of salmon is too much for two people.  After grilling a portion I decided to cure the other half.  This is an easy process, but it takes a couple of days.  The result is salmon that will keep much longer to stretch out the enjoyment and not cause me to have to throw salmon away.


Gravlax is a Scandinavian salt cured salmon.  Lox is now the generic term for smoked salmon.  I could have made a smoked salmon but it is way more work.  Traditionally Gravlax uses lots of dill.  I have a dislike of dill that is a carryover from my mother’s love of dill in potato salad.  You decide if you want to include it if you want.


Piece of skinless salmon fillet

2 T. kosher salt

2 T. brown Sugar

1 T. whole peppercorns

1 T. fennel seeds

Fresh dill is optional


Grind the peppercorns and fennel up.  I use a mortar and pestle, but you can use a spice grinder or the bottom of a heavy frying pan.  You want to crush them to a large grind.  Add the salt and the sugar and mix the spices together.


Lay out a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter.  Sprinkle half the spice mixture on the plastic wrap as close to the size of the salmon as you can.  If you like dill, lay fresh chopped dill on top of the spices here. Lay the salmon on top of the spices.  Sprinkle the remaining spices on top of the salmon  (And dill if you want) and then fold the plastic wrap up around it.


Place it in a plastic container that has a lid.  Place in the refrigerator.  Every 12 hours open the container and flip the plastic wrapped salmon over.  Lots of liquid will accumulate in the container.  After two day unwrap the salmon and discard the liquid and wrap.  Wash any spice mixture still on the salmon off.  The more you rinse the salmon the less salty it will be.


Slice it very thinly on the bias to serve it.  I like it with scrambled eggs and tomatoes.

Grilled Japanese Eggplant Vietnamese Style

Russ and I went to a fabulous Vietnamese restaurant in Palo Alto called Tamarine.  I had this wonderful eggplant, which I have done my best to recreate and lighten up.  It could not be easier and I think I came somewhat close to my memory of it.  Even if I got it totally wrong, it is still yummy.

8 Japanese eggplants  (They are the long skinny ones.  You can use purple or white)

1 T. limejuice

1 T. Fish Sauce

2 t. Siracha (Chili garlic sauce)

2 T. canola oil

1 scallion – white and green parts cut into ½ inch pieces

Cut the stem end off the eggplant and place on a medium high grill.  Cook on one side for five minutes and then flip them over and cook the other side for 3 minutes.

Remove from hear and piece the skins with a fork.  Set on platter.

Mix the limejuice, fish sauce and Siracha together in a small bowl.

Put the canola oil in a small saucepan and heat up on medium high heat.  When it is very hot put the scallions in the oil and stir them around, cooking for 2 minutes.

Slit the eggplant down the center and spoon the fish sauce mixture and the green onions with a little of the  oil over them.  Serve hot or cold.  I think they are better after they have sat and had the flavors married together for a while.

The Scale is Your Friend – No Matter What It Says

When I was a kid we had the kind of bathroom scale most people had.   It had a dial of numbers and a little black line in the window.  When you stood on it the number circle would spin to the right and then sometimes swing back to the left a little until it settled on the final tally.  Sometimes you could switch your stance and make the dial back down a pound or two.


The other feature of this scale was the adjustment dial.  It was a little finger wheel you could roll to make sure that the black line was right on zero before you stood on the scale.  Although I know this was to help make sure it was accurate, it also caused some doubt in my mind as to the validity of its measuring capability.  My thinking went, if I have to tell the scale where zero is, then how can I be certain it is telling me exactly what I weigh.  A built in excuse.


There was one thing about our family’s childhood scale which I am certain was unique to ours.  Written in red nail polish, right on the dial above the numbers was the number 115 in one inch digits.  This was the number my mother was always looking for.


I have a very skinny mother and I think that the 115 written right on the scale was an excellent reminder of what her goal was.  I think that now, but as a younger person I could not imagine how she could not remember what the goal was without having it flash red at her everyday.


This morning at 2:00 AM my thirteen year-old daughter called me from Vancouver.  She was two legs down on a four-leg trip home from Taiwan and I had not talked with her for the last three weeks while she was away at Chinese school living with a family I do not know.  Normally I am not happy to be awoken from my sleep at any hour, but last night I was thrilled.


After talking for 20 minutes she had to get on her next flight leaving me home wide awake, so excited thinking about seeing her today.  Since I was up I did my normal morning routine.  I got on the scale as I do everyday.  My scale today is so much more reliable than the one of my childhood.  Giving my weight down to the tenth of a pound with no ability for me to adjust it either by finger wheel or shifting stance.


As I stood on the scale I was horrified that I was up a pound and a half.  But was I?  What exactly was yesterday’s number?  It was not written in red nail polish on the scale for comparison purposes.


I decided I should force myself to go back to sleep since I had twelve hours to kill until we got to go to the airport.  Sleep worked to pass the time and shed the pounds my body was using to keep me alive through the night.  When I awoke at a more reasonable time this morning I went back to the scale.  The same number as the morning before.  Not down, as I would like it to be, but not up.


For me I know that I don’t lose weight evenly.  I can go a week of good eating and exercise and not lose a pound, but then the next week lose 4 on the same regimen.  Oh the joys of hormones.


What I do know is that weighing myself everyday is important for me.  You would think I could have learned that earlier from my mother.  The scale is the only true way to know how I am doing.  Clothes stretch upon wearing and shrink upon washing, husbands who love you are not good recognizers of your actual weight, great friends are good liars, only your scale will tell you the truth.

Last of Summer Squash Curried Soup


Yesterday and today I pulled out much of my spring/summer garden.  This always makes me sad because some plants look like they still might produce.  These plants are like children to me throwing out fruit like grandchildren.  I hate to give up on a still good-looking tomato plant even though I know any tomatoes it might give up will be small, may never ripen and will just be inferior to their preceding siblings.


The real reason to pull out the summer garden is to make room for the fall garden, which I planted today.  So all you squash haters may like the fall palette of vegetables better.


I have sweet potatoes that have been growing for some time.  The plants have be denuded of leaves twice by my deer foes, but they seem to grow back and hopefully the potatoes underground are not as bothered by the deer as I am.  I planted arugula by seed and everything else by transplant, which includes:  butter crunch, romaine and red leaf lettuces, Chinese and red cabbages, Kale and cauliflower.  I mistakenly bought two flats of cauliflower when I wanted one of broccoli and one of cauliflower.  I hope to get the broccoli later this week.


This will be the last summer squash recipe until next year.  Farwell to my best bumper crop, I grew over a quarter ton of squash which sounds so much more impressive than 500 pounds.


1 big yellow onion- diced

2 medium yellow squash- diced

2 cups of chicken stock

2 t. curry powder

1t. Cumin

½ t. smoked paprika

1 cup of light coconut milk


Salt and pepper



Spray Pam in a big stockpot and add the onions.  Cook on medium high for about five minutes, stirring every so often.  Add the squash and continue cooking for one minute.  Add the spices and cook another minute.  Add the chicken stock and bring to boil and reduce to simmer.  Cook until the squash is tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the coconut milk and then puree with a stick blender.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Friends and Family

My Dad is one of the great marketers in America.  Life as his child was always like ”Let’s Make a Deal.”  He used to make my sisters and me work in his beloved yard raking leaves or picking up apples in the orchard.  He would keep us entertained by telling us stories about his work at Avon Products.


One of my favorite schemes he dreamed up at Avon was called “Operation Smile.”  The deal was that Avon would sell a customer a new lipstick for 5¢ if she would trade-in an old lipstick.  I know my Dad had to have gotten the idea from the pile of bad lipstick colors my mother kept on her dresser but refused to throw away.  The operations guys at Avon asked my Dad what in the world they were supposed to do with all the old lipsticks.  I promise the response was, “S#*T, I don’t care what you do with the lipsticks.”


Operation Smile was the most successful campaign in Avon’s history.  Millions of new customers were gained and so were their old lipsticks.  I know this for a fact because the operations guys sent many of them to our house in Connecticut and dumped them right on my father’s beloved yard.


Another example of my Dad’s brilliant marketing mind was his invention of MCI’s Friends and Family.  It was first big social marketing.  If you are not at least 45 years old you might not remember this, so here is how it worked.

I grew up in the olden days of long distance.  I can remember my North Carolina Grand Parents calling our house on Sunday afternoon, the cheapest calling time and when I answered the phone the first thing I heard was not “Hello.”  My Grand Father would say, “Quick, run, go get your father.  I’m calling long distance.”  It never helped that my Dad was always way out in yard cutting the grass of cutting a tree down.


Since long distance was still a big ticket item in the late 80’s he came up with the idea that if your were a MCI customer you could create a “calling circle” of ten people.  If any of those ten people were also MCI customers you would get something like 20% off the long distance calls you made to them.  This of course had customers convincing their loved ones to switch long distance carriers to be MCI customers to save the 20% and thus social marketing was born.


I remember when my Dad came up with this plan.  He called it “Friends and Family” as a code name, always worried about the AT&T spy lurking around him.  He said that the normal vernacular was “Family and Friends” so by switching the order no one would think any thing about it.  The code name stuck and became the product name.  It changed the parlance in America.  Everyone says friends and family now, not family and friends.


So in the marketing spirit that was bred into me I have a deal for you.  I am trying to raise $1,000 for every pound I lose.  Right now I am at $584.75.  If you would consider raising your pledge by at least $2 per pound or passing my blog to anyone else that would pledge at least $2 per pound I will give you your choice of either a loaf of home-grown-Dana-made Zucchini bread or a quart of Dana-made gazpacho.  I am sorry to say only local deliveries are available, but I really appreciate all you far-flung friends and family.


You can go to the pledge page and make another pledge and write me note upping your current pledge, send me an e-mail at, writing me a Facebook comment, Blog comment, or be really old fashioned and call me.  If you pass on the information to your Friends and Family make sure they let me know you are the connection so you can get your free goodies.


If I have not said it enough, let me say it again.  Thanks to all of you great Friends and Family who have supported me in this weight loss challenge and are thus feeding hungry people.  You are the best.

Behind the Scenes at “Less Dana”

Laughing is my favorite thing to do.  Amazingly I would rather laugh than eat and it is really hard to laugh and eat at the same time.  My college dog Beau, (Yes, I mean a real dog and not my beau in college who was a dog) Beau was a really smart mutt I got from the pound.  He was eternally grateful for being rescued and never forgot the feeling that he might not get another meal.


Beau used go and sit beside the person at the dinner table who was laughing the most in hopes of getting food that would fall out of their mouth while they were laughing…True Story.  I am not admitting here to having food fall out of my mouth while laughing, but in college it could have happened one or two times.


I guess I really should admit that making people laugh is my favorite thing to do.  If I could start over again I would try and be a stand up comic.  By the time I realized that I had too big a mortgage so I just tell stories at dinner parties instead.


Writing a blog is a frustrating form of comedy for me because I really like a live audience.  There is one form of feedback I get from this blog that brings me endless pleasure and now that I have completed 100 posts I thought I would share some of the funny stats with you.


Everyday I see how many times people have viewed the blog and exactly which posts they are reading.  I can tell when a new person has stumbled upon it because something like 30-40 different posts are read that day and not just the new one that I posted.  I take that as a good sign that they are laughing because they keep reading.


I also can see which countries people are in when they are reading the blog.  I have actual friends in America, Canada and the UK so those places are a given for readers, but here is a partial list of some of the other countries logging in: Australia, India, Italy, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Pakistan, New Zealand, Cyprus, Turkey, France, South Africa, Latvia, Indonesia, Estonia, Bahrain, Israel, Egypt, and 22 others so far.


One might ask how in the world any of these random people find my little known blog?  Oh, the beauty of the Internet and the wonders of search terms.  I get a list each day of what search terms people have entered into Google or Yahoo that led them to my blog which they amazingly then clicked on.  Of course there are many variations on the words “Less” and “Dana” and “More” and “Good” – those searches were looking for me. My favorite of that variation was “Less Good, More Dana.”


But I am certain that all the people who typed into Google any of the following: “Underwear sizes 5 6 7”, “Ok to wear a padded bra TSA”, “If I wear a size 16 pants then what size underwear”, or “Panties less in street” were not looking to read my blog “The problem with underpants” or “Advice for dieting travelers” (both funny ones you might have missed.)


Then there are days when I see the search term “What you want independence from” and one of the countries listed that day was Bahrain or Pakistan.  I am feeling like the State Department might come after me for causing some international incident because my humor does not translate well.  In the case of these searches I am almost certain that those people who have been misdirected to my blog actually read it because I get the stats that show that someone in Bahrain viewed 9 or 10 different pages that day.


Here is my plea.  When reading this blog think of laughing first.  Please don’t be offended by anything you read here.  It is light hearted except for the information I give you every once in a while about the hungry people who need to be fed not just here in North Carolina, but all around the world.  Even though I always go for the joke, please don’t ever think I am glib about how much your reading my posts eventually will help raise money for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.


So to keep the theme of this blog going here is my diet tip for the day:  Laugh loud and often – you can’t eat while doing it.

Happy 100 to Julia!

Here I am with Julia.  Pictured from left to right Anne  Willan, a famous cooking teacher herself, Julia Child, Riki Senn of the Greenbrier, some woman I can’t remember and ME in Pink.

If Julia Child were still alive today she would be 100 years old.  She made it to 92 years old with great style.  I was lucky enough to take a cooking course from her at the Greenbrier in 2000, which was one of her last classes she taught.

Even though she was 88 years old she was still sharp as a tack, according to the notes in my scrapbook.  She came into the demonstration kitchen where twelve of us sat in rapt attention waiting to hear what fabulous thing she was going to teach us that day.  She sat down at the counter and just started a conversation with us like she was an old friend in our home kitchen.

She said that she was going to teach us “EGGS.”  We were all fairly accomplished cooks and one woman in the room made an audible sigh of disappointment.  That was the last time anyone in the room felt dismay.

With the help of her assistant who just fetched things so Julia could stay seated while cooking, she was 88 for goodness sake; she made 15 egg dishes from soufflés to custards, talking all the while.

I have never learned so much about cooking so quickly.  She answered questions and let us try to flip omelets one handed, which despite most peoples posturing about their cooking skills, they could not do.  She never made anyone feel badly by telling us that if you don’t make mistakes in the kitchen you aren’t learning anything new.

One person asked Julia a question about eggs she did not know the answer to.  It was, “If eggs are sold based on size, Jumbo, extra-large, large, etc. what does the grade, AA, A or B mean?”

Julia quickly said she had no idea.  I raised my hand and she said, “Do you know?”  Julia Child was asking me a question.  I answered in my best not-always-correct-but-never-in-doubt voice that eggs are graded on the quality of the shell thickness and the yolk to white ratio that can be seen when holding eggs to a light.

“Wonderful,” Julia bellowed,  “I learned something new about eggs today.”

I have never been so proud of my vault of often considered useless knowledge.  I felt a little pat on my back as one of the other cooks whispered to me, “Wow, you taught Julia something.”

So today on her birthday I think back on what a thrill it was to meet her, learn from her and teach her too.  I still may not be able to flip an omelet one-handed but I will keep practicing.  I can always say that Julia encouraged me to make mistakes.

Dieter Food Club

When you are doing your best to lose weight there are entire aisles of the grocery store you have no business visiting.  In fact, you hardly ever go down any aisle in the middle of the store and tend to hug the outside walls hunting for exciting fruits and vegetables and maybe a new yogurt or fish.


Despite the many recipes as I create to keep the food boredom at bay and to have something new to post on this blog I still have a few standby foods that I eat often.  For instance, when I am home I eat the same breakfast everyday, High Protein Special K with berries or peaches and skim milk from our local dairy Maple View Farms.   The next most popular meal is Arugula salad with chicken, blue cheese and balsamic vinegar.


I am practically religious in my stocking of these food items in my kitchen.  The Special K is usually not a problem because it goes on sale every 12 weeks like clockwork and I buy 8-10 boxes every time it does.  All the other items are fresh foods which means I am doing a real balancing act to buy enough to have around and not too much that it goes bad before I can eat it.  I can’t exactly eat more just because it will spoil soon.


So this week arugula was on sale at my local grocer, which meant that it has been sold out all week.  I have visited the store everyday with no luck of finding any.  The produce manager and I are practically dating since I am there so much discussing the delivery schedule from Earthbound Farms.  Insider word is that the entire grocery chain is out of arugula and won’t be getting any before the sale is over.


At this point I don’t give a wink about the sale.  I am just in need of my staple item.  I think that dieters should be allowed to register 5 must-have foods with their store with the promise to always have them on hand if the dieter agrees to buy them every week.


The store can have a kind of secret backroom for these items, or a password the dieter would whisper over the deli counter.  Maybe dieters could have a signal like Paul Newman gave Robert Redford in The Sting.  One swipe on the side of your nose with your pointer finger means bring out my secret skim milk, even though you are sold out of it in the milk case.


It seems like the humane thing to offer.  Its not like I can say, “What no chicken, I guess I’ll have pasta instead.”


If you own a grocery store, especially if your name is Harris Teeter, be the first to start the Dieters Food Club and ensure the calorie deprived among us get what little we are shopping for.

My Lightened Up Version Romesco Sauce

My favorite restaurant we went to in the Pacific Northwest was Toro Bravo in Portland.  We had a Tortilla Española with Romesco sauce.  Calling the Tortilla a Spanish potato omelet does not do it justice.  My favorite part was the Romesco Sauce that was served with it, so I have recreated it with a lot less oil, nuts or bread to cut down on calories.  I served it here on grilled salmon.


1 cup of canned fire roasted tomatoes

2 fire roasted red peppers (I used jarred ones)

1 head of garlic

1 slice of sour dough bread

1/3 c. almonds

5 Mexican red chilies (I used dried and rehydrated them in warm water)

2.T. sherry vinegar

1 T. olive oil

½ Smoked paprika

Salt and Pepper


Preheat the oven to 350º

Cut the top off the head of garlic to just reveal the cloves.  Place the garlic in a piece of foil and drizzle the top of it with three drops of oil.  Close the foil up around the garlic and place in the oven for 30 minutes.  Place the piece of sour dough bread in the oven, placing it on the rack to toast for about 8 minutes.  Spread the almonds on a cookie sheet and place in the oven just long enough for them to toast, about 4 minutes.

After the garlic is cooked, squish all the garlic cloves out of the head.  Put all the ingredients in a cuisineart and pulse it on and off until it is well chopped, but stop before it turns into a complete paste.


This sauce is good on chicken, fish as pasta sauce on a frittata or as a dip.

Down Home Green Beans and Stewed Tomatoes

After traveling and eating in restaurants for two weeks straight it is great to make some down home healthy comfort food.  I added a little twist of allspice, which was an idea that came from Russ’ Lebanese driver Sammy.

1 big sweet onion- sliced

1 can stewed tomatoes

1 lb. green beans washed and trimmed

3 garlic cloves minced

½ cup chicken broth

3 dashes of Allspice

Salt and Pepper

In a big pot put the canned tomatoes juice and all and add the onions and garlic and bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the chicken both and green beans.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer with a lid on.  Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  Add allspice, salt and pepper to taste.  This recipe is good hot or cold.

Home Again

After a wonderful two week trip with nothing but fabulous memories there is still nothing better than coming home.  And it is not the home that makes it the best, but coming home to our sweet dog Shay Shay.

As soon as we dropped our suitcases in the garage, Russ and I walked to our neighbor Mary’s house where Shay Shay had spent her own holiday blissfully playing with her other four-legged playmates.  But as soon as she saw us she jumped into Russ’ arms and wiggled and kissed us for a good ten minutes without stop.

While Carter is still in Taiwan, Russ and I get to have Shay all to our selves.   Such devotion and love is better than any trip could ever be.

So back to reality is not so bad.  Back to arugula, roast chicken and home made pickles for dinner.  Back to our own quiet house, with no trolley cars rumbling outside our window.  Back to snuggling with our puppy, home again.

The Big Valley

What do Barbara Stanwyck, Frye boots and artichokes have in common?  Well probably nothing to you, but today I had flashbacks of my ten year old self as Russ and I left San Francisco and traveled down the Pacific Coast Highway to Monterey for dinner.

You see when I was ten my parents took their first big trip without the kids to San Francisco with their good friends John and Mary Anne.  It was traumatic for my sisters and me because my grandparents came to take care of us.  Granettes, my grandmother, was a notorious drinker and baby-sitting was not really her thing.

Proof of this was that one day when we were under her care my middle sister Margaret, who was seven years old, got off her school bus just as I was walking home from mine.  I took one horrified look at her dressed in a pair of Danskin tights and a shirt and asked her where her skirt was?

She calmly replied that she did not have one on, that was what Granettes had dressed her in.  This was long before the days of leggings or skinny jeans, when the crotch of tights came up only as high as the middle of your thighs, which made it a little difficult to walk and her big white cotton underpants stuck out the top of her tights for all the world to see.

My sisters and I awaited the return of our parents whiling away the hours watching Linda Evans as Audra Barkley dressed in her gauchos riding her horse on the dry brown hills of the Big Valley on TV.

When my parents finally did arrive home it was like Christmas all over again.  They had brought purple paper parasols from Chinatown, and long necklaces of hippie beads, which were way ahead of their time in 1970 Wilton, Connecticut, for us kids.

For my mother they bought a case of giant artichokes that we cooked every night for dinner for days and days and still wanted more when they were all gone.  I know that became the beginning of our family’s love affair for the green globes.

But the wildest items brought back from this very foreign land of California were the three items my father bought for himself.  The first was a pair of Frye Boots, the same kind they make today, brown with a big heel, a squared off toe and a strap that ran across the front anchored by a large metal ring on the side of the ankle.  Those boots were very cool and my sisters and I would stand our tiny feet inside them and shuffle around the playroom.

The second item was equally as cool and a little out there for my non-hippie, big bald southern father; a suede leather rust colored jacket with long fringe all around it.  We knew it was hip because Mike Brady wore a similar on the Brady Bunch.

The last item was the most disturbing and something that made such an impression of wrong on me that I vowed to always think not just twice, but three times before I buy apparel or the like on vacation.  Just because something looks good in it’s native land does not mean it will look good in yours.  The thing my bald father bought was a hairpiece.

Now when I say hairpiece, I don’t mean just a little toupee.  This was more like an auburn Little Lord Fauntleroy wig that was 1970’s long.  It looked a lot like my hair with bangs.  I think when my Dad put it on my sister Janet who was still a baby burst into tears and screamed until he took it off.  The good news was it made my Dad so hot to have so much hair where none had been for the previous 15 years that he never wore it again.

So today Russ and I stopped in Half Moon Bay and I walked past a store selling Frye Boots in exactly the same style as my father had.  We continued driving down the coast passing fields upon fields of beautiful artichokes growing right next to the road.  I ordered one for dinner and it was so tender and sweet since it did not have to travel more than a mile from its birthplace.  I know my mother will be furious that I did not bring an extra suit case to carry home some artichokes especially since I saw signs to buy them, 12 for a dollar.

After our artichoke and seafood dinner on the wharf of Monterey Bay we drove north to San Jose on the inland route of brown rolling hills with big valley’s of fruit trees and vegetable fields between the mountains.  There were horses grazing on the sides of the hills and in the twilight of the evening I was almost sure that I saw Jarrod and Heath riding home to see their mother, Victoria just like on TV when I was ten.


The Blessing of Small Joys

One of the hardest things about loving food is that when it is time to dial it back you can feel deprived and then depressed and then you throw in the towel and eat the chocolate.  No, I have not thrown in the towel nor eaten the chocolate, but yesterday I had a little epiphany.  Something small, non-food related made me as happy as chocolate.


If you have never had any food addiction just stop reading now, because this really will sound ridiculous to you, but for anyone for whom food holds some power in your life continue on.


Yesterday Russ and I took a very long walk through a somewhat grungy part of San Francisco. We were on the quest to find the perfect incognito I-pad case for Russ.  Russ is not very materialistic.  We rarely do any shopping for him.  If he mentions he likes something I always try and write it down because he certainly won’t buy it for himself and if you ask him what he would like for a gift occasion he says something like, just cook me some bacon.


So on this cold and windy August afternoon when Russ mentions there is a store, in the Mission district that might have something he wants I jump all over it.  After all he had sat patiently on the men’s sofa of the needlepoint shop for what had to feel like a millennium while I looked at thousands of canvases.


After finding success at the I-pad accessories store, we headed back towards the hotel and passed what could only be described as a boutique liquor store.  Russ loves really peaty, single malt scotch and the Alcohol Control Board of North Carolina is not made up of the best connoisseurs of such.  We stopped in and got a great education on who was making the dirtiest scotch.  Russ was happy.


Back out in the wind with a good distance still to go we walked back to the hotel.  I felt very grimy and my feet were sore.  I got undressed, turned the shower on very hot and got in.  As the warm water rushed over me washing away all the city, my feet started to feel like when I was a kid again.  It was right then that I realized that this shower, at that moment, was better than food.


Now I know there are a lot of things better than food.  Like when your teenager hugs you and thanks you for something so minor or the way your puppy jumps up on it’s hind legs to greet you when you come home, but I don’t always accept those blessings as all that I need to feel satisfied.  So the lesson of the day is to keep my eyes wide open for the little things that make me happy, especially if they make my feet feel good.

San FranBLOGcisco

Today we arrived in San Francisco so Russ could work and I could be in San Francisco.  And why not, it is one of the best cities in the world.  As we flew in one of my favorite stories came to mind so since it has just the slightest connection to dieting I thought I would share it with you.

Back in the mid 80’s my Dad got a job at the soon to become Sprint telephone company.  It was the merger of two existing phone companies, one based in San Francisco the other head quartered in Kansas City.

Part of my Dad’s job was to assess where the new headquarters would be and who were the smartest people in the various Sales and Marketing teams from both companies.  Not everyone was going to get to keep his or her jobs, a fact that seemed obvious to my Dad.

When getting to choose where to live in the “accessing stage” my Dad chose San Francisco, wouldn’t you?  He arrived in his normal big personality way and called a meeting of all his direct reports for three o’clock that very day.

It was a request he did not feel was unreasonable since it was the first time for everyone to get a chance to make a good impression on the guy who was going to determine his or her fate.  At about ten in the morning a very friendly man, let’s call him Kevin, who was like a senior director or higher came into my Dad’s new office and introduced himself.

After the normal how-do-you-dos, Kevin told my Dad that he was really sorry he was going to have to miss his three o’clock meeting because he had a “make-up aerobics class.”

My father had spent fourteen years working at Avon so his first question was, “Is that a class where you put on make-up quickly or is that an Aerobics class you are going to in place of one you missed?”

“It is a workout that if I don’t go to the three o’clock class I lose the $10 I pre-paid for it,” Kevin casually responded.

My Dad had never met anyone who told their boss they would leave work in the middle of the day for anything, especially not Aerobics.  That was Kevin’s last day at that telephone company.

Eventually the two merged companies headquartered in Kansas City where the mid-western work ethic was strong.  Very few San Franciscans made the journey East.  I think they worried that aerobics had not made it there.

Why Hiking Has Got to Be the Best Form of Exercise

Upon the strong recommendation of my traveled-all-50-states by car friend Jan, Russ and I went out to the Columbia River Gorge this morning.  Everyone needs a friend who has purposefully driven to each state to see every major attraction, like the St. Louis Arch or the Corn Palace and most minor ones like the Largest Ball of String or the Corn Palace because then no matter where you travel you have someone who can give you an unbiased and education opinion on what to see and what to skip.


Jan was right, as usual; the Gorge or whatever the locals call it is beautiful.  One of the highlights is that it being a gorge and all it has very high mountains right beside the river with a number of fabulous waterfalls feeding the already giant river.


Sometime ago when some president was looking for shovel ready work, the government created these fabulous trails that lead up and down the mountains right to the various waterfalls.  Many shovels were needed to move a bunch of boulders around to make switch back paths just wide enough for two hikers to pass each other going in opposite directions and not have one of them lose footing and slide thousands of feet down the steep banks of the mountains.


Russ and I drove out to the Multnomah Falls Lodge this morning and had breakfast practically in the mist of the second tallest year round running waterfall.  After breakfast we hiked the quarter mile up to the bridge that was perched at the halfway point of the falls.  It was not much of a hike to me since the path was paved.  The trail continued what appeared to be straight up and I suggested we return to the car and go to the next trail head that had three different waterfalls on it.


Now, I know you think that I just did not want to climb straight up, and that certainly was part of my reasoning, but actually I just did not like the other multi-hundreds of people who were planning on making the climb.  I really like my wilderness as a lonely exercise.


So off we headed to Horsetail, Upper Horsetail (referred to as pony tail) and Oneonta Falls.  We had a fairly rudimentary trail map that showed some distances between major sights, but no information on elevation changes or levels of difficulty.  Russ is a great hiker and I am, well middle-aged.  He is good about checking with me if I want to continue or go back.


The first waterfall was right at the parking area so no exercise to see that one.  The second was an incredibly steep ½ mile climb, but one that very few other hikers were taking so we did not have to hear any annoying chatter.  Russ was sure I was going to say let’s turn around now, but I didn’t.  The trail ahead was not as steep so I just kept going.  The views were gorgeous, must be where the word came from and the temperature was perfect.


By the time we got to the third falls we had gone exactly half the distance of the almost three mile trail.  No reason to turn back there, just keep going forward to complete the loop.  Which we did.


The reason I consider hiking the practically perfect exercise is that once you are in the middle of it you have to keep going or decide to take up residence in the woods or die.  You are usually going up or down, rarely flat for very long and your core is improving as you are balancing from one rock to the next.


But the best part about it is you get to enjoy the spectacular forest and mountains somehow preserved by fore thinking people.  Calling it exercise is an insult to hiking.  It is much closer to praying.

Food Pods, a Late Husband and Bird Poop

First full day in Portland and Russ had to work for a few hours so I took the free streetcar around the city to get my bearings and see if there was anything interesting for me to visit.  I really don’t like to shop because I basically have too much stuff already so I mostly look at the people an make up stories in my head about where they are from, if they like their spouse and what they had for breakfast.  Please tell me you do that too.


Before I left in the morning I asked Russ what his plan was for our visit to Portland.  He said we came here because of the food scene.  I must have made a face at him that must have said, “What are you kidding me?”  Then I realized he had been working on this trip for 5 months, long before I hatched the weight loss plan.


It is a good thing that I am fully committed to this program before I came to Portland because this place is all about food.  Well, food and tattoos.  I feel like there might be some kind of tax on people who don’t have tattoos here since they are so prevalent.  When I am making up stories about people I see riding on the streetcar if they don’t have a tattoo and they are under 40 I think they must be from Kansas City or Hartford and they had pancakes for breakfast.


Portland is the center of the street food/food truck/food cart universe.  This was something Russ wanted to experience so I researched where we might meet to get lunch when he was finished working.  First, in Portland they have lots of places where many food stands are clustered together in a permanent flock of calorie-laden temptations.  They call these grouping Food Pods.


There is one Food Pod I witnessed at 10th and Alder streets that had at least 40 vendors.  As I passed by I looked at the menus, of Thai, Mexican, Salvadoran, pizza, burgers and the most tempting, the grilled cheese bus serving a grilled cheesus (rhymes with Jesus).


We planned to meet at the Food Pod by the University of Portland.  It was an 18-vendor pod, which I thought was going to be plenty of choices.  I got there right at the pre-planned time, which was an hour before Russ, which I should have known.  So I had plenty of time to study every menu and look at all the food pictures.  18 trucks and there was not one thing I could find that would not throw me under the proverbial diet bus.  That was until I saw a doctor walk by me with an open brown box full of salad.


I was too busy imagining where he was from and what is surely blond wife looked like to ask him where he got that salad.  I studied the trucks with no luck in finding anyone holding a brown box.  I waited and waited for Russ, feeling myself being drawn to the Bahn Mi sandwiches.  As I was about to succumb to that Vietnamese delight I have been craving, a bird pooped on me.  It had to be a wake up sign from god.  That poop led me to the closest stand, The Portland Soup Company, to find a napkin.  This was the only stand that was turned sideways so the menu was hidden from view.  Ta-Da, the salad came from the soup company.  It was not just any salad either.  It was an arugula, apple, caramelized onion and Brie salad.   All the things I love the most, salvation.


If Russ had been on time or the bird had not pooped on me I certainly would not have found that salad.  So even while I am daydreaming up stories God is looking out for me.  I just have to pay attention to the signals.

Pok Pok Portland Coconut Milk Corn


Russ and I got to Portland today and went to a restaurant that Russ had seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives called Pok Pok.  It was a cross between Thai and Vietnamese and was as good as promised.


One thing we got which I got the recipe for is so simple, but just delicious, is the corn with coconut milk.  It satisfies the sweet, sour and salty tastebuds.


Corn- shucked

Light coconut milk

Lime wedges


Heat your grill up to medium high and spray the grates with Pam.  Grill the corn, turning it a quarter turn every five minutes.  When it is done, brush each ear with light coconut milk and sprinkle salt on it.  Serve with a wedge of lime.

The No Tattoo Diet

Having spent the last week in the Pacific Northwest I have been able to study all the latest trends in what younger people call body art.  Some of the people I have observed are part of a subculture that used to be called grunge; those for whom hair washing was optional and multiple piercings were just the beginning.  Tattoos were certainly an entry drug into the grunge segment.


Today tattooism has blossomed out of just grunge and spread like some sort of leprosy to every type of person, except those in utero. No longer are tattoos a sign that one was in the navy or perhaps got too drunk one night with some people they no longer consider friends.  Although I do think that some first tattoos might have come about that way and once a person had been deflowered they continued the trend trying to fix their first mistake by adding to it.


Beauty certainly is in the eye of the beholder because I have been some sad for the young women I have seen with faces that could grace the covers of vogue with painted arms so full of body art that looks more like flocked wall paper of a London curry shop.


The first thing that comes to mind is, “Don’t you get tired of wearing the same shirt everyday?” because of the density of the tattoos covering so much skin.


Besides, my middle-aged mindset believes these youthful whims will someday be regretted.  I worry about how the once young and tight skin will change and morph those beloved imagines into something more grotesque and deformed even if grotesque is what they were shooting for in the first place.


The major observation I had came when I looked at the arms of a tiny Asian woman on one of the many ferries we were riding.  She had a grey tank top on and one of her arms was covered from collarbone to wrist with a giant colorful tattoo and the other arm was a pale virginal white.  The colored arm looked to be twice the size of the blank canvas side.


While her back was turned I studied her arm anatomy to measure if perhaps she was a single arm body builder or did some other work that caused one arm to grow larger than the other, but no.  In actuality both arms were the same size, just the tattooed one appeared much and I mean dramatically larger.


I have no idea if this tiny woman needed to appear bigger to cause some sort of intimidation in order to survive, but that would really be a stretch.  I have a feeling that appearing larger was not her main reason for getting herself colored in as if she were a child’s drawing.


So my diet tip for the day is remain tattoo free.  Unless you just cover yourself with vertical lines or add large dark swaths on the outside of your hips so while standing naked in a dark room they look thinner.  All other art will appear larger than actual size, especially as you age.

How Slow Can You Go

Today is a big travel day for Russ and me.  Our total travel distance is only 104 miles.  Seems like that should be small travel day unless we were going by covered wagon, which we are not since our horsewoman is not with us.  But even with our rented Toyota Camry, with the unfortunate New Jersey plates the trip is taking ten hours, at the least.


I won’t know for another hour if the trip might actually take 13 hours.  What time warp are we living in you ask?  Welcome to the world of Washington State Ferry travel.


Before I continue this story I want to say that I love my husband.  He has done all the work to plan this wonderful trip.  I have lazily just tagged along.  Trying my best to let go of all my planning genes and just let the journey flow over me.  I am on the left coast and am trying to embrace it.   It is hard.


Now back to the story.  We left our friend’s house at 8:30 this morning and drove the 90 minutes to Point Townsend to catch the ferry to Coupeville on Fidalgo Island.  The bad news came when Russ discovered last night that this was the one ferry out of 22 ferry lines that took reservations after reading all available ferry information for the last few months.


Add the no reservation to the full moon low tide cancellation of the first two ferries of the morning and we were screwed.  We pulled into the ferry line at 9:50 and did not come close to boarding the 11:00 ferry.  Russ was feeling anxious about our travels and my old self would have added to his guilt.  But in my trying to be appreciative, look on the sunny side attitude I was working to affect I told him it will be what it will be.  (Those of you who think you knew me can now pull your jaw off the floor.)


The good news was we were the fourth to the last car on the 11:50 ferry; A sunny short 30-minute ride to the next island.  We arrived at the south end of the island and needed to get to the north end to catch the 3:50 ferry from Anacortes to travel to Orcas Island.  It was only an hour drive from tail to toe to reach Anacortes, arriving at the ferry terminal two and a half hours before the scheduled departure.  All the literature said get to the ferry two hours before hand in the summer.  We were golden.


We approached the traffic controller hut where a lovely laid-back woman gave us a number and told us which lane to get in.  The number was a new thing to us ferry virgins.  Guess what our number was?  It was our standby number, but at least we are standby number three.  So here we sit in our Jersey car, no real food waiting to see if we get on the 3:50 ferry or have to wait until the 7:20 PM which would put us in our bed and breakfast at 10:00 pm, assuming we can find it.


I will report the outcome of this story tomorrow.  But I think I am going back to my old, A-team, planning, knowing all the details self.  It will be way less pressure on Russ.


Note:  For those of you who just want recipes I won’t be cooking for another week.

Please get in contact with your inner hippie and go with the flow.

You Are Either Going Uphill or Down

Today Russ and I are visiting our friends Michelle and Richard at their beautiful home over looking Hood Canal in Seabeck, Washington.  It seems nothing like any canal I have ever seen as I sit on the deck of their tree-house-like-home with a huge expanse of water in front of me surrounded by green covered mountains, wreaths of clouds encircling their tops.  I certainly understand why Washington is called the Evergreen state.

Michelle and Richard are marrying in a month.  So like me, they have been on their most healthy behavior in anticipation of the familiar historical record photographs that certainly will be taken as their friends and family celebrate their nuptials.  This makes visiting them a positive moment in the challenge of the weight-loss challenge while traveling.

Just like the view across the canal, Michelle and Richard’s house is set at the foot of a mountain that is accessed by a quarter mile driveway with a 14 degree decent.  I am taking Michelle’s word on the exact angle. She being a Doctor and scientist by training I would never doubt her on such a precise number as 14.

My personal assessment of the steepness of the drive came when Russ, Richard and I walked up it.   I had to bend at my waist quite a bit so as not to fall backwards as I took each forward, or rather upward step equivalent to two stair-treads.  I am not a steady climber, but one who goes in spurts, stopping to recover and then sprinting ahead.

As I sprint, I put my head down and motor forward as fast as I can until I realize I am a heavy middle-aged woman and I stop.  Only in that pause do I take time to talk to my companions or look around at the ancient trees, branches covered in velvet like moss with a carpet of ferns below them.

During our walk at the summit we visit a beautiful garden in the cool of the Washington summer and during that stroll I realize that I am in need of the bathroom.  Richard offers the entire great outdoors, but without paper; I decline.

So I depart my company and head back toward the steep driveway to their home, alone.  Having only just emerged from the driveway half an hour before I was certain I knew which one it was.  I started down the steep switch back drive alone and a good 80 feet down I stop.  Is this the right driveway?  This does not look familiar?  Are these 85 trees the same ones I passed on the way up?

Suddenly I have a flash back to my earliest childhood memory.  When I was three, my parents and I lived in a tiny house on a giant hill in Dayton, Ohio.  My best friend Johnny Schlemer lived behind us at the bottom of the huge hill.  One very snowy day my mother dressed me in my one-piece snowsuit that zipped from ankle to neck and sent me out of the tiny house to go visit him.

I started trudging through the snow, down the very steep hill.  At about the halfway point I realized that I had to go to the bathroom.  I looked up the hill; it was a long way back.  I looked down the hill, much too far.  So what did I do, but just sit right down in the snow in my giant zip-up snowsuit and pee right there.

After sobbing a while, the warmness of pee in my snowsuit started to cool down, I realized I was all-alone and no one was going to come save me.  I eventually stood up and headed back home each step more difficult in my very wet outfit.

So much of life is about going up or down hill and both can be hard.  But I learned a great lesson at three years old.  If you are not sure which way to go sitting right down and peeing is not the answer.  Go one-way or the other.  Just go.

August 1- Weigh In Report

As promised at the beginning of each month I am divulging how much I have lost since I started my program on May 8.  But before I do that, and since I know some of you might stop reading after you know the number, I want to say thank you first.


As of today 190 people, couples, families or companies have pledged $571.75 per pound to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.  Please give yourself a hand if you are one of those wonderful people.


While you are reading this blog it can be easy to become distracted by all the witty repartee about my dieting adventures, but please don’t forget about those for whom dieting is not an option.  I am lucky enough to be able to afford to pick the food I eat, when I eat it, how much I eat and where it comes from.  I suspect you are too.


Through your generosity to me and my escapades to lose weight you are becoming a life-line to a hungry neighbor.  You also keep me motivated to stay the course, which is a huge feat as I pass by each pain au chocolate, caramel gelato or gooey grilled cheese sandwich.  So thank you from those you are giving food to and from me whom you are keeping the wrong foods from.


I am still sucking wind on trying to get to the $1,000 per pound lost goal.  Of course I am preaching to the choir since you have probably already pledged.  In case you have not, it is never too late to pledge.  If you think you pledged and want to make sure I got it please look at the supporters tab on the blog.  If your name is not there then go on and send me an e-mail of click on the pledge tab and make your intentions known.


I love feedback or comments on the blog, so don’t be shy.  Let me know what you think.  But now I won’t make you wait any longer, how much weight have I lost…32 pounds so far!  July was a good month.  I am hoping that my two weeks of travel in the Pacific Northwest will also make August a good month.   You will have to stay tuned to find out.


Go forth today, knowing that you are my hero.  You are making the world a better place and I love you.