I’m Going as Superwoman for Halloween

If I were dressing up for Halloween I would go as Superwoman.  Before you even think, “That Damn Dana is so full of herself,” here is my reason.  Halloween is all about sugar, candy corn, mini snickers, resses peanut butter cups, skittles, junior mints, rolos, heath bars, hershey’s chocolates, milky ways, nerds, butterfingers, M & M’s I have gained two pounds just writing these things.

See, sugar is my Kryptonite.  Superman was powerless around the stuff and just like him sugar can bring me to my knees.  When I am away from all things sugar I am fierce.  I have will power and can leap tall bakery counters with a single bound.  But just one bite of a brownie and my resolve is weakened.

Today is the last day of my weight loss challenge.  What was I thinking?  Ending on Halloween – my day of greatest challenge. Tomorrow I will get on the scale and report how much weight I have lost since May.  I will be sending personalized e-mails to all my supporters to let them know how much money to send the food bank.

But tomorrow is not the end of my healthy eating.  With all that candy around I am going to have to double down.  The challenge has been great at doing for me what I needed it to do — break the grip that sugar and white flour had on my life.  I still have about 35 pounds I want to lose so I have to continue doing exactly what I have been doing, just without any money on the line to keep me motivated.

Even though my accountability will change from those who have pledged to just myself I am going to have to resolve to not be weakened by my personal Kryptonite, sugar.  To me, Superman is powerful because he knows his weakness and does everything to stay away from it.  I think for many women sugar is their downfall, so we all need to become Superwomen and do our best to steer clear of what we already know cripples us.

Like that mild manner reporter, Clark Kent, I am going to keep blogging.  I know that this forum has given me strength to be faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive or maybe just a strange visitor from another planet, as long as I am a skinnier visitor.

CRIME ALERT- The Swiss Chard Murders

While one third of America was ravaged by the monster storm with the innocent name of Sandy the middle of North Carolina was spared.  On opposite ends of my state flooding and hurricane a force winds destroyed part of the outer banks to the east and a huge blizzard is overtaking the western end.

The tri-state area around New York, and all the mid-Atlantic states are without power and flooding is just subsiding as the storm whips up winds and rains as far west at Chicago.  While all this devastation and human suffering abounds some criminal picks this time to lay waste to my garden.

Not all the garden, this four footed assassin chose to take out the practically perfect, unsuspecting, innocent Swiss chard.  Said chard was murdered in its own home.  Tender green leaves ripped from their proud magenta stalks, left shredded and ravaged by this unnamed butcher.

Collateral damage was a large family of romaine lettuce trampled during the invasion.  Many gave their lives to try and protect the young greens known as “Swiss” to their friends.  The Swiss Chard had a bright future ahead, now cut down in its prime.

No one will ever know the chard and white bean stew that it was destined for.  The White Beans were asked to comment but were too dried out from crying to comment.  A bunch of leeks have sent their condolences and now await their own chard-less future on a tart made bland without the tangy greens.

Swiss Chard’s neighbors Chinese Cabbage and Cauliflower are worried for their own safety in their war torn neighborhood.   Only peppery Arugula stands fearless to protect its turf in this green versus beast bat down.

As our hearts go out to those who are suffering in Sandy’s real devastation please keep a look out for this opportunistic murder who chose now to destroy our sweet Swiss chard whose full potential will never be realized.

Inside of an Apple Pie


It is cold out and grey out today.  This kind of weather gets me in the holiday mood and what better fall Holiday is there than Thanksgiving?


Lot’s of Thanksgiving food is just too fattening to eat prior to the actual holiday, so I made the inside of a pie just to get the smells and the essence of the holiday.  For me, I don’t really care much for piecrust anyway.  So you might just call this baked apples.  Throw in some raisins or pecans if you want to jazz it up.


This recipe is adjustable by the number of apples you use.  Three large apples made an almost full soufflé dish.


Apples – peeled and sliced thinly.  I used granny smith

2 packets of Splenda for each large apple

½ t. cinnamon per large apple

A couple of dashes of lemon juice per apple


Preheat oven to 350º.  Put all the ingredients in a baking dish sprayed with Pam, mixed together.  Cover with foil.  Bake for 45 minutes.


Good hot or cold.  Wonderful on oatmeal or Greek Yoghurt, day or night, Just smell!

Putting It Out There in The Universe

I am a fairly practical person.  Although I have a faith, I also like the tangible and scientific parts of life.  I don’t believe in living life by luck.  I do think some people get lucky, but most of the time things happen to us for a reason.  That reason is not always of our own making, but more times than not we need to be masters of our own universe.

Yesterday I complained of my scale moving up a pound, today it went down by two.  It was not luck or an uneven floor.  I put it out there in my blog that it had gone up.  That caused me to be extra vigilant in my food choices yesterday and thus the pay off.

Writing about my struggles, or putting it out in the universe, has helped me not hide from them.  Once a problem is uncovered I have nothing left to do but face it head on or just be some whining bore.  I would prefer to laugh at my problems than have them control me.

Now I am not so naïve to think that gaining a pound one day is really a problem, but ignoring the trend could be.  All I am trying to suggest is that no matter what issue you carry around, doing it alone makes it far more heavy than sharing it.

I am going to continue writing, and most of the time I hope what I write is more entertaining than serious, but I want to encourage you to put things out in the universe too and see what happens when you share your burdens.  Perhaps you will find the strength you need to fix them, or you will be able to change your perspective on them.  Just don’t be controlled, be your own master.

Body Sabotage

The count down to the end of this weight loss challenge has really begun.  I have five more days to earn as much as possible for the Food Bank and the pledges are still coming in.  I am a long way from $1,000 per pound so the only way to get to $50,000 is to lose as much as possible without doing anything insane like the previously discussed limb removal.

The last two weeks have been very successful, thus giving me hope to bring in the big bucks.  That was before I got on the scale this morning.  I know that no matter what I eat, even when I eat the exact same foods and amounts of food everyday it does not mean that I will decrease.  What I really get furious about is how I can go up despite my best efforts.

Does not my scale know that I am working to feed hungry children?  Why does my body decide it needs to retain something, I hope its water, right at this vital point?  For true confessions, I did eat two corn chips yesterday.  I looked the calorie count up on those and it was 15 calories at the most.  That alone should not cause a weight gain of 1.2 pounds.  Or should it?  Has my body become so virginal that the slightest violation of its purity and it goes into full on whore.

Perhaps I am not praying enough for weight loss.  Not that I would waste my prayers on that, there are many more important things that need some divine intervention.  And my praying is not that inspirational, but perhaps yours is.

I ask that you pray in any way you do whether it is to a god or your dog, that the world becomes a better place, that those who are sick can feel some relief, those who are lonely can find a friend and those who watch TV can get a phone call right as all the political ads are running.

Paraphrasing the words of Evita, “Don’t pray for me, North Carolina.”  But instead, watch me, watch me like a hawk.  Don’t let a chip, or a cookie or a bite of coconut cake near my lips.  Keep me busy, too busy for even water weight to build up in me.  It’s just five more days, five more days to change the world, at least for one small hungry child.

Evelyn Henderson’s Brussels Sprout Farm

When I was younger I hated Brussels sprouts.  The only way I was ever served them was boiled with butter or sometimes with sour cream and a dash of nutmeg.  Of course growing up in the 60’s the Brussels sprouts we ate come from a small frozen square box as most of our vegetables did.  I know I thought all vegetables grew in those frozen squares.

I am not sure if it was the taste, the texture or the smell of those tiny mini cabbages that I hated the most, but there was nothing appealing about them.  When my mother would give them to us she would say we had to eat at least two.  Thank goodness two was all she picked, because that was the exact amount my paper napkin could hold.  I would pop a whole Brussels in my mouth and then immediately bring my napkin to my mouth and pop the little ball into my paper covered hand, as I appeared to be wiping my mouth.  There was no way the napkin could hold three and not have them spill from my lap before I was able to deposit the napkin in the trash under the auspices of helpfully clearing the table.

The summer I stayed in my college town I had three friends, Marilyn, Randy and Bill who also had mistakenly thought Carlisle would be a great place to summer.   We spent most hot evenings together after we had finished our boring day jobs.  Being poor college students in a sweltering town we would spend most nights at Marilyn’s apartment in the one room with air conditioning.

After eating our communal meal we would watch TV.  Don’t ask me what shows we watched because it was not the programming we were interested in.  In the pre-QVC, infomercial days we watched for the one minute ads from places such as the Franklin Mint or Columbia Record House that had ads with 800 numbers to call to order what ever was being advertised.

Calling poor unassuming telemarketers was our evenings’ entertainment.  The four of us were somewhat theatrical so we would assume different characters to make a call and entertain the rest.  My favorite character was Evelyn Henderson, of Henderson’s Brussels Sprout Farm.  Think of me with Vickie Lawrence’s southern voice as Mama, just talking much faster.  I would dial up the 800 number of the Franklin Mint and could go on for at least 20 minutes about my love for the “Miniature Chinese Vases” they were selling.

I would begin each call the same, “Hi, this is Evelyn Henderson of Henderson’s Brussels Sprout Farm.  Please tell me you still have those darlin’ Chinese vases…”

Sometimes my friend Bill would play the role of my husband and pretend to call me from the other room.  He would say things like, “Evelyn, you aren’t trying to buy anything from the TV are you?”   That would be my out as to why I could not purchase right that minute and would have to call back, keeping those poor telemarketers ever hopeful for a big sale to me.

After a while in the pre-caller id era, the operators began to recognize my voice and would call me by name before I could announce, “This is Evelyn Henderson.”  That was when I began to learn more about Brussels sprouts so I could more convincingly carry on conversations with my new telemarketing friends.  Sometimes I would get carried away talking about chocolate covered sprouts, but really I was already so far gone discussing commemorative coins and collectable spoons that no one seemed to want to call Evelyn Henderson out as the fraud she was.

Today I actually like Brussels sprouts, at least roasted and I guess I owe that to Evelyn Henderson and those long hot nights in Carlisle and all the operators at the Franklin Mint.

Love Jeans, Hate Jeans Shopping

I don’t care who you are or how thin you are; I think most of us find shopping for jeans a real pain in the ass.  Well, maybe those guys who really only wear their jeans as an accessory to their boxer shorts don’t have trouble.  They just go in a store and hold the pants up and if they look like they fit their whole body in one leg they buy them.

Fortunately most of don’t purchase jeans on an approximation, but it does require dedication, time and more energy than I like to spend shopping.  I remember the olden days when I bought my jeans at the Wilton Department store.  They all were Levi’s and I don’t care what Levi’s advertises now about 505’s or 501’s or all these other 5’s.  We only had one kind.  It had a zipper, no buttons and there was one kind of blue, dark and rough and had not been washed yet.  All you had to do was figure out both your waist size and inseam and buy the pair that had that printed on the leather tag on the back of the waist band.  Of course there were two other brands, Lee and Wrangler, neither of which were sold at the Wilton Department store and thus deemed inferior.

Granted I would have to estimate the shrinkage amount since those Levi’s were made of virgin denim.  Once purchased, you were not going to wear them for a few days because they required multiple washings to remove the extra dye and not make them look so new.  The worst thing you could wear would be a brand new pair of unwashed blue jeans and a new white pair of tretorn sneaker together.  You would look like someone from Russia who did not know that you never wore “new” things off your property until they were broken in. or scuffed up.

Granted considerable work went into new jeans back in the 70’s, but most of the work was done at home.  Then Calvin Klein and Jordache had to get in the game opening up the jeans world to everybody in the rag trade.  That was the beginning of people wanting jeans to actually fit their body.  Granted the number of styles was limited.  When high waisted jeans, (Now called mom jeans) came in, almost all of them were high waisted.  During bell-bottoms heyday the smallest leg you could get was still a fairly wide boot cut.

Today the choices are overwhelming, from skinny to boot cut, curvy to straight leg, dark wash to distressed, ankle to floor length, zipper to button, plain pockets to flap pockets and on and on.  All these choices and then you still have to figure out your size, but it is not as easy as your waist and inseam.  The worst part now is that you have to really make sure they look good.  No longer are jeans that utilitarian pant.

So after my “hitcher’ up” episode at the State fair I finally went to find new jeans.  What a god awful waste of my life because they may fit today, but as long as I keep losing weight they too will get to be too big, or I will get to be too small and I am going to have to go do this all over again.  My only promise is I won’t wait until these become “pants on the floor” like the boxer short guys.

Ten Foods

When I was just out of college my parents moved to Washington DC.  They lived in a one bedroom corporate apartment for the first few months while they renovated a house.  The apartment was in Crystal city, which my father loving called the “Houston” of Washington due to its apparent lack of zoning.  They had a tiny balcony that pointed toward Potomac, but they could not see the river, just the airplanes landing over it into what was then National Airport.

One Sunday I went to see them and I knew they needed to get out and meet some friends because I found them sitting on the balcony, watching the planes land, silently scribbling notes on paper, dressed in clothes that I am sure they did not wear out in public.  This was the conversation I walked in on.

Mom:  “If I pick beef do I get a whole cow including steaks and ground beef?

Dad:  “No, you either get hamburger or steak.  You have to pick each cut individually.”

Scribble, scribble, scribble…

Dad: “Does milk count as one of the ten, or did we decide drinks are free?”

Mom:  “Drinks have to be free because I need both milk and wine.”

More writing and crossing out, as I silently stand by…

Mom:  “Can we choose complete dishes like spaghetti and meat sauce?

Dad:  “I can’t remember what we decided about that?  I think if you chose creamed spinach that is OK, as long as you never get to separate the ingredients into spinach, cream, butter, etc.”

Mom:  “Ed, you are making this too hard.”

After witnessing this conversation and having no idea what they were doing I announced my arrival to which I was shushed.

Dad: “Ok, here are my 10; steak, chicken, cheese, bread, eggs”

Mom:  “Oh no, I forgot eggs.  I need to redo my whole list.”

Dad:  (with shock in his voice) “How could you have forgotten eggs?”

Mom:  “I was still on the ‘A’ vegetables, avocado, asparagus and artichokes.”

I tried again.

Dana:  “What are you doing?

Mom:  “We are trying to figure out if we could only eat 10 foods for the rest of our lives, what would they be?”

Dana:  (With more than a little bit of disbelief) “How long have you been doing this?”

Dad:  “All weekend.  It is really hard.”

I don’t know if they ever finished that exercise because I think they all of a sudden realized they had lives to live, but it was an interesting question.

So if you could only eat ten foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?  Now please don’t ask me the rules to this game.  That is a negotiation that requires Mother Teresa, Gandhi and George Mitchell to work out.

Did Colonial Children Complain About What Was For Dinner?

The answer to the eternal question ”What’s for dinner?” has so many more answers today than it did when I was a kid.  Just the categories of food has more in number than I had as actual choices; Thai, Italian, Sushi, Mexican, Burgers, Chinese, Pizza, Indian, both Southern and Northern which are not to be confused with Persian, Southern, Barbeque, German, Steakhouse, American, New American (I’m sure that “new” just means more expensive that non-new), Seafood, Vegetarian, French, Japanese, Scandinavian, African…

Even with all these categories to choose from, whether we cook it at home or, throw the other choice in the pot I did not have as a kid, go out for dinner, it seems that someone is unhappy.  How can that be?  My family has almost unlimited options between my cooking and Durham’s culinary offerings.

When I was a kid, my menu was limited by the few raw ingredients my mother was likely to purchase.  See I did a lot of the cooking, but since I could not drive, I did none of the shopping.  We never ate out for dinner, so take that option off the table.  That left us with ground beef or chicken and as far as categories it was American, since new American was still just a spark in some future chef’s eye, Italian and maybe Southern, since my parents were southerners.  The complaining about “what’s for dinner?” existed then.

All this whining despite the giant choice got me thinking about kids even further back than my 1960-70’s era.  What about kids in colonial time whose menu was limited to what they could grow or raise and how long it could keep in an underground root cellar.  Did children in the dead of winter complain of another yam stew or were they thankful just to have food at all?

If you don’t have many choices does it make it better or worse?  Has the explosion of worldwide culinary offerings spoiled us so much that we don’t enjoy what we have when we have it?

When I was in college, I spent one summer living in my college town renovating my off-campus house and working many different jobs.  One of those jobs was working in the catering office of the food service department.  We served all kinds of different groups who used the campus for various meetings and conferences.

Our food service was run by the college and not a big corporate contractor and thus was really good.  Depending on what a group was willing to pay we could make a meal as nice as surf & turf or as down home as shepherds’ pie.  I will never forget my favorite group who had a conference, The Farmer’s Wives of America.  Eleven hundred women filled the dining hall as we served them our least expensive, but heaviest plated meal of opened faced hot roast beef sandwiches, mashed potatoes and gravy and cooked to death green beans with ham hocks.

When the servers went to clear the tables they were shocked to find that the women had scraped and stacked their plates at the end of each table and all were terribly complimentary of what a wonderful lunch it was.  I remember being summoned out into the dining room over the PA system by the organizer of the meeting to be introduced to all 1,100 Farmer’s Wives so they could thank me for their lunch.  Their gratitude for not our best meal was overwhelming.  I wonder if it was just that they were just pleased to have a meal they did not have to cook, let alone grow or raise.  They did not even get to have a choice in what they ate, but they appreciated it just the same.

I don’t have an answer to this complaining about “what’s for dinner?” just wondering if it is an age-old problem, or perhaps just New American.

God’s Gift

Everyone I know is busy. I was talking to my friend who has two girls out of college and both employed and one in college, and I was complaining that she had not been at Mah Jongg.  She looked at me with a you-are-never-going-to-believe-this look in her eye and said, “I know, I am busier than ever.  I want to play Mah Jongg, but I have so much going on.”

What is happening in the world that we all keep getting busier and busier, but yet the world is not really improving that much?  I am no better, just today I had one phone interview, four meetings in various places around town, a blog, three letters of recommendations, one report and 42 e-mails to write, so far and a dog who lies next to me, head on my lap top wishing I were throwing her the ball.  All of this and no one is paying me a cent to do any of it.  Shouldn’t I throw the ball first because my dog gives me the best payback for my investment?

The only one I see in my world who is not busy is my dog, but she is the happiest being I know.  I think that when she leans on the key board and inadvertently pushes the caps lock she is sending me a message to stop typing and give her a snuggle.  She is yet to type out an actual request, perhaps for lamb and rice rather than chicken, but I would not be surprised if she had one she wanted to convey.

I am working on actually being productive and not just busy without the productive stuff being things like laundry or a clean house.  But I not only want to be productive, but I want to have fun and bring joy to my world.  In other words, I want to be more like my dog who is always happy to greet another being whether two of four legged, rejoices in an embrace and brings a smile to all who meet her.

My dog is not busy, yet she is productive if in no other way to make everyone in our house spend time outside and show affection everyday.  It’s an old thought, but dog spelled backwards does spell god.  I think of our dog as god’s gift to us and a reminder to slow down and play a little everyday.

Canned Food Longevity

I was looking in my pantry and noticed a can of soup from a brand I think went defunct a couple of years ago.  I think it is time for that can to go.  I was just glad my mother who was visiting this weekend did not see it.  See, keeping canned food is practically a blood sport in my family.

My mother was raised in a time when people thought that once food was “tinized” it would last forever.  Whether you were interested in ever eating it or not you still kept it.  I am not such a believer.  In trying to convince my mother that despite her very full pantry she really did not have much that was edible she challenged me to prove it.

I told her I could do one better than prove it, but that I could do it with my eyes closed.  She took that challenge and I went to the pantry and she watched as I closed my eyes and opened the door.  Without peeking I reached my hand in and pulled out a can.  It was the first one I touched, not one in the back behind some two-year-old crackers.  When I opened my eyes I knew I had hit pay dirt.

My father was witnessing this game and seemed to take cover as I squealed in delight at the can of Pepperidge Farm Gazpacho.  First, the idea of gazpacho in a can is revolting, but I was not there to comment on the original quality of the product, just it’s age.

The can I held was so old that it did not have a bar code on it, but an old-fashioned price sticker.  Granted there are still stores, like small bodegas, that do not have scanners so they put price stickers on items, but those items still have barcodes from the manufacturer.  Just the mere absence of the barcode was proof that the can was at probably made before 1980, but the particular price sticker was an even greater clue to the exact age because it said the words “Stop & Shop” along with the .79¢ price.

My parents lived in Wilton, CT. at the time a Stop and Shop was open in Ridgefield, the next town over.  I can remember my mother shopping there until the store closed on or around 1978.  That was proof enough for my father who declared me the winner in this game.

Being the spoiled winner that I was I went on to point out that not only was this can decades old, but that my parents had moved it five times when they moved from Wilton to London, London back to Wilton, Wilton to Massachusetts Heights in Washington DC, Mass Heights to Georgetown, and Georgetown to Pawleys Island, SC.  I consider that can better traveled than 99 % of all Americans.

My mother gave in and threw the can out.  We were all too afraid to open it and recycle it, so please forgive us.  So for today’s challenge, go to your pantry, find something that has been there at least since the last republican administration and either eat it or properly dispose of it.

Having a full pantry of things we are not going to eat is wasteful.  If you find anything that is still good and you don’t want to eat it, donate it.  There are lots of people who might need it, as long as you are sure it won’t kill anyone.

Listening is the Hard — Hearing is Even Harder

Recently I had a friend ask me if I could talk to her husband about losing weight.   “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” was my response.  “Do you want me to talk to him or does he want me to talk to him?”

My friend, who loves and adores her husband, is interested in his losing weight.  She confessed that he does not see the same man in the mirror that she does.  Jump back friend.  I would never bring up the subject of losing weight to anyone else.  I am happy to answer someone’s questions, but not initiate the conversation.

I know from personal experience that the only person who can make you want to lose weight is the person who is putting the food in your mouth.  Losing weight is a brain exercise first; only when your brain is interested in doing it will it happen.

On the other side of things, if someone is telling you something you don’t want to hear stop and consider how hard it was for them to do it.

Many years ago when Russ and I were working in London and had terrible sleep schedules due to too many transatlantic flights we had a next-door neighbor who had a garage without a door, on the bedroom side of our house.  These neighbors who were used to us not being home much had gotten a puppy and they kept him tied up in the garage at night.

When we were home we were kept awake by this poor lonely puppy howling and barking in the echo chamber that was my neighbors’ garage.  At first I thought that it would be a short-lived problem and eventually the puppy would learn to sleep alone, but that did not happen.

One night as I lay there I thought surely these people know their dog barks all night, but no.  When I finally could not take it anymore I got out of bed, put my trench coat on over my nightgown and in the pouring rain went over to my neighbor’s house.

When they came to the door I apologized for the late visit, although it was only 9:00 at night it was 3:00 in the morning to me, which was very late.  I said I was sure they did not know that their puppy’s barking echoed so loudly into our bedroom and asked if they could bring the dog inside.  I will never forget the wife’s response, “Our dog does not bark.”  Now this couple was elderly, but I had never seen them with any hearing aids that could be removed at night to ignore a barking dog.

I was shocked that my practically apologetic request had been met with an accusation of my being a liar.  In my jet lagged and not most polished state I responded, “Lady, why in the world would I come over here at this hour in my nightgown in the pouring rain and make up a story about your dog?  How would I even know you had a dog?  Your dog barks and by leaving in your open garage it amplifies his crying.”

Her husband apologized and brought the dog inside and never left him to sleep in the garage again.  The wife has never spoken to me since despite my saying hello to her every time I see her.

What was in this for me if her dog did not really bark?  Why would I risk bad neighborly relations if it were not true?  If someone tells you something you don’t really like, stop and consider what it is it for them to tell you.  Drop your defenses and try and listen to the truth.

I am not advocating that anyone runs out and tells your loved ones they need to lose weight or control their dog, but if someone gives you a signal, perhaps a lot more subtly than I told my neighbor, that you have a problem, think about it.  They risk something in telling you, but if you can really hear it, maybe your brain can take one step closer to trying to solve it.

The Solution for America

There are many issues facing America I am told over and over again by the unending droning of political ads that are ruining TV watching.  Two major issues that have gotten no airplay in North Carolina are the high cost of infant daycare and the difficulty that overweight people have in trying to lose weight.

I am shocked that the binders of women have not come out and made the daycare issue more of a topic given that they stand to get some high-ranking jobs if anyone looking for some tokens is elected.  Also, it is surprising that someone running for political office who is interested in everyone having healthcare has not tried to have all Americans slim down if for no other reason than obesity is a huge drain on medical resources.

Tonight while trying to enjoy dinner in a public place, I was seated next to a table with two brand new Grandparents, their daughter, son-in-law and their long awaited grandchild who could not have been more than three weeks old.  That isn’t-my grandchild-precious new Grandmother was completely oblivious to the rest of the diners as she proudly held up a screaming baby for a good thirty minutes without the thought that perhaps she could leave the room and try and comfort her.   No, that Grandmother was sure that the rest of us were all enjoying the sounds of a baby who clearly was too young to know how to go to sleep while we tried to enjoy our diner.

As the baby screamed louder and louder I was less and less interested in my meal.  That was when it dawned on me how we can solve two giant issues causing ruin in our country with one solution.  Infant daycare weight loss centers, a truly bipartisan solution to a universal problem.

People pay big money to lose weight and I guarantee that there is no better way to keep people from eating than to put them in a room full of screaming babies.  Let’s put those babies to good use as appetite killers and help those fat people get skinny by making them be baby sitters.

If you hear about this in the next debate you can bet that some high-ranking advisor to a candidate has been reading my blog because this is surely a win-win for America.

Redneck Respect

This morning on the news I caught the whiff of a segment on the growing number of reality TV shows about “Rednecks” such as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Hill Billy Hand fishing.   First I must confess that I have never actually seen any of these shows except for the moments shown on the news or on late night talk shows.  There is a lot of interest in “Rednecks” these days but I am worried that Yankees and the uber educated are actually confused between Rednecks and PWT’s.

See I have great respect for actual Rednecks because the term is derived from people who work outside bent down, face to the soil growing food for us, thus getting a red neck from over sun exposure.  Most of these reality TV shows are not about those hard working people.

The entertaining and often uneducated people who make great subjects for TV are PWT’s, which stands for “Poor White Trash.”  Now there can be Rednecks who are at the same time also PWT’s, but not all PWT’s are Rednecks.  Here is an example of the difference; a Redneck might be missing an important tooth or two because they did not have the money to go to the dentist, a PWT might be missing an important tooth because his cousin punched him after he found out he was sleeping with his wife and his mouth hit the bar as he fell over.  I am sure this is a distinction that is lost on many who just see people without teeth, but I feel the need to defend hard working farmers.

I write this today because I harvested my sweet potato crop.  I am using the word crop very liberally since I don’t think five plants make much of a harvest, especially in my case.  This is the first time I have tried to grow sweet potatoes and I feel quite unsuccessful at it.

In the end my plants were lush and beautiful after having deer come and denude all the plants not just once, but twice, which probably did not help my potato production.  After pulling the vines up and digging around I found just about 18 sweet potatoes ranging in size from four pounds down to a few ounces.  A couple looked like they could even be sold in a store, but most were gnarly and pock marked and as ugly as I imagine Russ Limbaugh’s rear side to be.  I have no idea how they taste yet and won’t for a while because I have to “cure” them by leaving them in a box in a warm spot for a week or two.

Next time you enjoy some sweet potato fries, take a moment and silently give thanks to the farmer who grew them.  They may be missing some teeth but I would like to know what they know about bringing food out of the ground.  It is harder than you think.

The Mother Tax

With all the political ads, debates and talking heads going blah, blah, blah about the economy the complicated world of taxes is in the air.  If you have young children I have an easy way for you to teach them about taxes with something that is already happening in your house.  It is called the “Mother Tax.”

Now the Mother Tax is not some penalty on mothers because they have to find childcare while working or that they fall behind in their fields while taking time off work to raise children.  The Mother Tax was a phrase I coined to explain to my daughter Carter about the bite of her mac and cheese I was entitled to by virtue of being her mother while at the same time explaining the complicated concept of taxes.

Come on, I know you have done it.  You buy your kid a gooey chocolate chip cookie at the bakery and don’t want a whole one for yourself so you take a bit out of your child’s.  I can hear whining now from all those kids who selfishly don’t want to share even a bite with their mothers.  My child was no different.  Thus the Mother Tax was born.

In legal terms here is what it is:  “A mother is entitled to a bite of her child’s food, the more yummy the food, the bigger the bite.  There is no negotiating on this tax.  It must be paid whether you like it or not.”

No matter how much Carter would complain about giving up a french fry, she quickly understood the concept of taxes.  You don’t like them, but they must be paid.  After a while she learned that when she was handed an ice cream cone she would just hold it up to me first and ask me if I wanted the Mother Tax.  The offering of the tax first often was met with a tax amnesty, helping teach Carter at an early age that generosity can sometime pay off.

The Mother Tax has been in existence since the beginning of time, but without a name it was often fought by children.  I have a vivid memory of being out to dinner with my family at the Silver Mine Tavern in Connecticut when I was twelve years old.  Going out to dinner, especially somewhere as nice as Silver Mine was a rare occasion.  Even rarer was my being allowed to order dessert.  I studied the dessert menu and decided on the exotic coconut covered ice cream ball in caramel sauce, my sisters got cake, my father pie; my skinny mother seated directly across from me declined dessert.

The waiter brought our choices.  I was disappointed to see that my pick was one ball the size of a walnut.  My mother eyed the toasted coconut morsel and asked for a bite.  I wailed that it was too small to share.  Even my father suggested that my mother just order one for herself since it was barley a communion sized dessert.  She said she just wanted one small taste.  My protests continued.  My mother had enough and in her rights as the Mother Tax assessor she stood up, spoon in hand and scooped up the whole ball of ice cream and popped the whole thing in her mouth.  I learned then and there that you just don’t fool with the tax collector.  Pay, pay early, pay happily for if you don’t the penalty will be great.

Mourning the Loss of Home Economics

I am what I would call the sandwich generation in the world of middle school home economics.  Old enough that I was required to take cooking and sewing in junior high school, as it was called back then, but young enough that I also had to take wood and metal shop since women’s lib was just taking hold.

Just as Billy Jean King was kicking Bobby Riggs butt all over the tennis court (Google it if you are too young to know what that means), my school system changed its requirements for seventh grade boys and girls to take all the disciplines of Home-Ec together.

I don’t know exactly how long that lasted since no one takes any Home-Ec anymore, but it was Camelot for a time with both sexes having to learn how to care for themselves and their future homes.  One quarter of the year a class of 12 boys and 12 girls would take cooking where we learned the most basic skills of following a recipe and how to properly measure and pre-heat.  I vividly remember making a refrigerator biscuit pizza that I was appalled at, but I guess it was something we could make, eat and clean up from in 40 minutes.

The next quarter we moved on to sewing where the befuddled sewing instructor had to change the curriculum from learning how to make aprons to something more unisex.  T-shirts was her choice, which was a huge failure because teaching kids who have no idea how to use a sewing machine to first sew stretchy material was a bear of a task.  I never saw one kid ever wear the shirt they made in class, but it gave everyone great knowledge of how to thread the machine since we never had the tension right to sew knits.

The third quarter brought some relief to the boys as we moved into metal shop.  We made some kind of colonial looking candleholders, which involved cutting sheet metal, bending, and soldering.   The boys were greatly disappointed that the xy chromosomes gave them no real advantage in metal shop.  It was much more like sewing than they had anticipated, having to follow a pattern and prescribed steps.

The last quarter was the wood shop where we made either a cutting board or a cookbook stand.  I still remember Mike Martin complaining that we were only making things for girls and asking why we could not make something useful like a bat.

Somewhere along the year we learned how to balance a checkbook and make a budget for a home.  What a great year of useful learning.  I bring all this up not to wax nostalgic, but I fear that we have whole generations who only know how to microwave food and throw out perfectly good clothes because they had a button fall off.  I am less worried that we don’t have enough wood cutting boards since they are harbingers of salmonella bacteria, but learning to budget a household income would still be useful.

Without Home-Ec some people never learn how to cook for themselves and live lives of frozen meals and take-out food.  Not that knowing how to cook kept me from getting fat, but I certainly could not lose weight if I did not know how to cook.

Perhaps we have a subset of kids who are homeschooled and are getting lots of Home-Ec, but what about the rest of our children?  I think that I should start a campaign for a new adolescent reality show called “Can you manage a household?”  Kids who don’t know what to do with dried beans and uncooked rice would get voted off first.

If you have kids, teach them how to cook something from scratch this week and if you are a kid ask your parents if you could go to the grocery store with them and learn how much it costs to feed your family.  The one thing I don’t suggest is making your own t-shirts, but an apron is useful for both boys and girls.

Enlisting Your Help, Please

As if I have not asked you for enough, I am going to ask for your help once again.  The best part about it is I am not going to ask you for any money, but you may help me get to my money goal.

I have 16 days left of my weight loss challenge.  I am going to pass the pound goal I set for myself by a couple of pounds.  “Yeah!” for me and my furniture that has to hold me up.

Right now I have 218 supporting units—now I’m not calling any of you a ‘Unit”, but sometimes a unit is one single person and some times it is a couple and maybe even it could be a whole family.  So I’ve got what in the south would be called “a mess of” people who have pledged to give the Food Bank money when I am done this challenge.  218 units is some kind of incredible and I am thankful to each and every one of you.

After I started this challenge I came up with a secondary goal just to make myself a little crazier than I already was from giving up sugar.  That challenge was to try and raise $50,000, which in Food Bank language would be $500,000 worth of food.  Right now I am on track to raise something like $35,000.  Now that is incredible and I am not really sad, but I really like to reach my goals and I don’t want to fall into some donut laden, cookie filled, cake impacted trough because I failed.

So here is the part where you come in.  I think that Ellen DeGeneres is a pretty generous person it is practically her name.  Maybe if she heard how close the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC was to getting $50,000 for this challenge she might announce it on her show to get people to pledge in the final hour to the “Less Dana, More Good” campaign.

If you get a minute, drop Ellen a line and ask her to shout out the blog and let’s see if we can get that last $15,000.  I think you can click on the following link and fill in a form.


She is looking for all kind of things that I don’t fit into, like bad paid for photos, or someone that needs a car, or bad Halloween costumes.  None of those things apply here.  But I think if she can hear from a few of you who have already made the commitment to help feed your hungry neighbors she might help us out.

It can’t hurt to ask and I have certainly asked you all for so much, let’s try and get some people who aren’t sick of me to help.

Pay Attention to the Signs

Today while waiting around at the horse show for our daughters’ next events fellow barn Mom and friend Laura told me a story about the time her husband drove an RV.  See those of us who don’t own RV’s or rent them for the fair, tend to covet them by the third day.  After spending three days sitting in lawn chairs outside horse stalls sucking on hair and horse poop flying through the air we start to fanaticize about having a big-ass, tricked-out, climate-controlled, comfy RV to park ourselves in while we wait.

Not that we want to own an RV, just have one to sit in.  After hearing Laura’s story its not that we want to drive an RV either.  Her husband had to go pick up his invalid mother in Philly and rather than having a professional ambulance bring her to North Carolina he rented a giant RV and drove up to get her.  According to Laura it could have had it’s own zip code and perhaps a famous band had once used it for touring it was so badass.

On the way up I-95 Laura’s husband noticed that people passing by were waving at him and flashing their lights.  He just assumed they were admiring the deluxe apartment of the road he was piloting.  It was not until a state trooper pulled him over and told him he had run over a bale of hay, which had lodged itself to the undercarriage of his vehicle and caught on fire.

To say he had missed the signals other drivers were giving him might be putting it mildly.  But I should have realized that Laura’s story was just foreshadowing my missing a big sign today myself.

While walking the 400 yards from our stalls to the main arena for the fifth time today I felt a cooling breeze on my backside, but I just kept walking.  A few hundred yards later a nice woman driving a golf cart passed me and said “hitcher’ up” as she glided by.  Since we were at a horse affair I assumed she was talking about some horse thing.  Another moment and another cool breeze.  I put my hand behind me and realized that my jeans and my underpants had fallen to sub plumber levels.

Early on in this blog journey I wrote one titled “The problem with underpants” about how your underpants don’t get too tight early enough in the weight gaining process.  Apparently 49 pounds is how much you have to lose to actually lose your underpants.  I blame my two sizes too big jeans, which were only one size too big last week.  If I had tight enough pants on they could have kept my underpants up.

So now I vow to not wear any pants, under or otherwise that are too big.  I am paying attention to the signs before I scare anyone to death.

Spot Reduction is a Myth

The other day a woman I hardly know asked me if I had lost weight.  I thanked her and said yes.  She then said something unexpected, “Yeah, the boobs are the first thing to go.”  Although she was right, I did not think I knew her well enough for that to be her public observation to me.

Why is it that we lose weight first in places we just assume keep and last in the hardest areas?  Now I am not interested in being any Jessica Rabbit, but I would prefer to have my hips go before my boobs.  No luck there.  I seem to lose weight from the head down, like I am a candle melting.

I have over heard people at the gym ask their trainers if they could concentrate on one problem area over another and all the pros respond in the same way, “There is no way to reduce one area more than another.”

Now you certainly can build up muscles in one place, but if you have fat to rid yourself of it has to come off in its own way.  Of course fat runs all through our bodies so I am sure it is better for me if it is coming out of my liver before my thighs.  Since my liver is under my boobs maybe it is, but I wish that my boobs did not resemble two pancakes with one blueberry each.

I have a friend who has always been in good shape and even her petite self had her then four year old daughter ask her, “Mommy, when am I going to get long boobies like you?”  So I guess if you have anything up top at all it is destine to fall.

You know, the myth that you could lose weight in all the right places should be debunked by the fact that you can’t gain weight in all the right places.  A friend who laments her double A bra status has never changed cup size even when she has gained a few pounds.  Now the band number may increase which is mostly due to everyone’s least favorite, back fat, but the actual cleavage creating cup does not until you gain such significant amount of weight which really defeats the look you were going for.

So we all might as well accept the body shape we have because regardless of your actual weight, your biggest place is going to still be your biggest place.  I’m just looking forward to my biggest place being a little bit smaller.

Should I Be Insulted?

This morning I had to run into the dollar to store to get the last minute giant plastic containers I need to transport 700 pounds of food to the State Fair horse show.  Why in the world would anyone need to bring food to the state fair you ask?  Well the horse complex is far enough away from the actual ride goin’, animal pettin’, fried food eatin’, carnival game playin’, turkey shootin’, red neck watchin’ part of the fair for all the riding girls and their families to schlep over there just to eat.

If you have never been to a state fair horse show it is a hurry up and wait beauty pageant for horses, a nerve racking-fear-filled-terror-time for parents and a better than a trip to Disney World time for riders.  The terror comes when you watch your child along with 50 other riders all in the same arena at the same time try and practice jumps with horse flying through the air in different directions and no real rules of the road.

Now I have gotten way off tangent here, so back to the trip to the Dollar Store.  As I was searching for blue ice packs for coolers, which apparently are considered seasonal and not available now, I ran into a man I go to church with.  I said hello to him and called him by name.  He looked at me and called me the name of another woman we also go to church with.  I corrected him and he said, “Oh sorry, you look different.  Have you lost weight?”  I said, “Yes” and told him to have a nice day as he left the store.

Now that encounter does not sound so bad until I tell you that the woman whom he mistook me for is at least 20 years older than I am, has grey hair, but is much thinner than I am.  I am unsure if I am flattered that he considered me that thin or insulted that he thinks I look that old.  She is an attractive woman, just not me.

So is it better to be old and thin or young and fat?  And should I be insulted to be confused with someone who is old and thin?

Coriander & Tangerine Roast Carrots


It’s a crazy day, workout, haircut, Food Bank meeting in Raleigh, back to Durham with my friend Hayward making the drive with me, pick up at school, back to Raleigh for another Food Bank meeting and then a reception for my group of Non-profit Harvard attendees.  That does not leave much time to write so I’m giving you this easy recipe I made two nights ago, perfect for the cold weather.


2 Pounds of Carrots – peeled, and cut into strips

1/3 cup of tangerine juice

1 t. ground coriander – toasted

Handful of cilantro


Preheat oven to 400º.  Spray baking dish with Pam and place carrots in, no more than 2 carrot layer high.  Mix the juice and the ground coriander together and pour over the carrots.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in oven for 30 minutes or until starting to get soft.


Chop cilantro and sprinkle on top.  Good served cold or hot.

Catering Flashback

When I was in college I started a catering business that I kept running for ten years after college.  My late college roommate Lauren Roberts, who went on to Coke as the first woman VP of advertising, brilliantly named my business “á La Carter,” the play on the word cater since my last name was Carter.  Catering was my side business to my main gig of hawking mail opening and extracting machines.

My friends used to ask me why I did not quit my real job and just do catering since they clearly thought it was a more glamorous job and they liked the leftovers.  I had two reasons.  The money in the mail opening business was too easy to give up and catering was physically exhausting.

Today, twenty years after I gave up catering, my body had flashbacks of my catering days.  My daughter Carter is riding in the State Fair Horse Show this weekend and somehow I was given the task of providing all the meals for the riders and their families for the three-day events.

It is a crazy week so I only had this afternoon to prepare three main dishes for 30 plus people for lunch and dinner each day.  The real kicker is that the meals have to be fully cooked so that I can reheat them in a brigade of Crock-pots in a horse stall turned food service area.

I chopped 15 pounds of onions, five heads of garlic, 5 pounds of carrots, 10 peppers from my garden and 20 pounds of chicken.  I browned ground meat, opened endless cans of beans, and stirred giant pots boiling away on the stove.  After 6 hours I had enough Ham and Black Bean soup, Chicken Chili and Spaghetti Casserole to keep the giant brigade of horse crazy girls, their bored brothers and exhausted parents fed all weekend.

Beside the pain my in back the most familiar catering feeling was one of lack of hunger from cooking such large amounts of food.  I had forgotten how cooking so much in such a short period of time completely made me lose my appetite.  My thought now is that if my back could hold out I should go back to catering just until I reach an ideal weight.

If you are crazy enough to visit the North Carolina State Fair this weekend and tire of looking at the ride operators who are missing their important teeth or eating deep fried butter, stop on by the Jim Graham building and watch the horse show.  They have chairs where you can sit a spell and if you find me I might have a nice bowl of soup for you.

It’s Cold Out Mushroom Soup


I know it’s cold outside because our sweet labradoodle Shay-Shay just wants to snuggle up next to me.  All this snuggling makes me crave soup.  If you have never created a homemade soup it is one of the easiest things ever.  This one took me literally less than 15 minutes and is the perfect supper with a snuggling puppy next to you.


1 Large yellow onion – chopped

3 cloves of garlic – minced

12 oz. of mushrooms- sliced

A handful of fresh thyme- tied together with a string- or ½ t. dried thyme

1 T. Flour

1 can fat free condensed milk

Salt and Pepper

Pinch of Nutmeg


Spray Pam in a soup pot and put on high heat.  Put onions and garlic in the pan and cook stirring often for 4 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.  The mushrooms will let off a bunch of liquid.  Sprinkle the flour in the pot and stir cooking it for a minute.  Add the thyme, salt and pepper and condensed milk.  Continue cooking for another 3 minutes.  Sprinkle nutmeg and adjust for salt and pepper.

Feels Like Fall Today

Today is our first really cold and dreary day of fall here in Durham.  According to the Weather Bug on my phone it is 47 degrees, but “feels like 43”.  I don’t know who invented the “Feels Like” rating.  The “feels like” number always makes it worse, you know when it is 98 degrees out the “feels like” number is 104 and when it is 35 degrees the “feels like” is 29.  I hate the “feels like,” it is like having your most pessimistic old relative around telling you “think it’s bad now, it is actually more miserable than you thought.”

I digress.  To top off this cold a rainy day Carter has no school today because it is fall break.  Her friend and “sister” Ellis is staying with us while her parents are away burying her grandfather.  So dreariness abounds.

For lunch we all had soup, albeit three different soups, but the day just seemed to call for that.  I currently have a pot roast in the oven for the girls and Russ to have for dinner and for Ellis’ parents when they finally get back to Durham late tonight.  I will have to brave the cold and go out and cut lettuce from the garden and have a cold day unsatisfying salad for dinner.

What is it about cold weather than makes us crave comfort food?  Of course there are plenty of healthy comfort foods like stewed tomatoes or chicken soup, but come on, the best ones are much closer to Mac and cheese than boiled cabbage.

Humans are not bears.  We do not need to bulk up for a long winters nap.  But maybe the ancient cycle of food availability comes into play here.  Before our stable food supply the winter months could be a lean time in the larder.  Perhaps the cold weather triggers some need in our bodies to take advantage of the fall harvest bounty.

Carter and Ellis definitely have the cold weather food craving, coming to me begging to bake a chocolate cake.  I settled on them making a chocolate cake in a mug, which would ensure a no leftovers to tempt me.  I, on the other hand, had some cantaloupe, which was just not as satisfying at “Feels Like 43” as it was when it felt like 104.

I promise to start to experiment with some skinny comfort foods and share them with you.  I hate for the sweater weather to necessitate the hiding the weight gain sweater wearing.

Buffalo Chicken Salad


Russ woke up this morning and told me he was craving Buffalo chicken wings.  That was an almost cruel thing for him to say because then he got me craving them too.  It turned out not to be such a mean thing because I made this yummy Buffalo Chicken Thighs with Frank’s ZERO calorie Buffalo hot sauce.  I figured I could have a little blue cheese then and I was one happy camper and so was Russ.  Marital strife adverted.


6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into strips

¼ cup Frank’s Buffalo Hot Sauce

Large red onion

1/3 cup of crumbled Blue Cheese

Lots of lettuce


Heat a nonstick fry pan on high on the stove and add the chicken strips with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for five minutes, until the chicken is brown on one side.  Flip all the chicken over and cook another 3 minutes on the other side with the lid on.  Remove the chicken from the pan with tongs or a slotted spoon and put in a bowl with the hot sauce and mix it all up together.  I like to cover it and let the hot sauce soak in the chicken.


Using the same fry pan without wiping it out, fry up the onions.  Even thought the chicken was skinless there was still fat in the thighs, which rendered out in the pan.  Not so much to kill you, but enough to make the onions really tasty.

Put a pile of lettuce on a plate and arrange the onions, chicken and sprinkle of blue cheese on top.  I like to drizzle a little balsamic vinegar on top for a little more tang, but you don’t really need it.


The satisfaction of the wings with none of the guilt.

Less Automation Would Do Us Good

Today I was out in my driveway shoveling the newly delivered gravel to spread it evenly and a neighbor walked by and asked if there was a more automated way I could do that.  My response was, “It is my exercise for the day.”  Which we both agreed was a good workout.

His comment got me thinking about how we have automated so much in our lives that it is no wonder people are over weight.  We no longer do so many of the things we used to that burned up calories.  Here is a very short list:

When was the last time you got up to turn on or off the TV, change the channel or raise the volume?  Think of the number of squats a remote control removed from your daily activity.

If you have a lawn do you cut it yourself?  If so, do you ride on a lawnmower to do it?  If you walk give yourself a hand, but is your mower self-propelled?  I can bet not one person reading this cuts their own lawn under their own steam.

Such little things as hanging the laundry out to dry was exercise.  Holding soaking towels above eyelevel and clipping them to a line with a clothespin has got to equal lifting three-pound weights.

I saw a beautiful British ex-model turned TV chef on the cooking channel this morning making French bread.  She demonstrated making it by manually kneading the dough for ten minutes straight.  She said you could use a machine, but that it was a better workout by hand.  I would say so.  No wonder she had beautiful arms and was also able to actually eat the bread without guilt when it was finished.

When was the last time you had to get up from a chair to answer the phone?  Most of us have a phone in our pocket all the time.  For those people who still have a land line many just the voice mail take the message and then later when they are near the phone they might listen to it.  More squats are needed to make up for that automation.

Even power steering on cars cuts out expending some energy.  We have a car now that will parallel park it self, although I refuse to try it.  Really turning my power steering wheel is just not that hard.

Everything from leaf blowers to that machine that automatically squirts a 360-degree spray of foam cleaner in your shower that just runs the dirt and scum down the drain has caused us to expend fewer calories just to survive.

Now I am not looking for a washboard and tub to clean my clothes, but I do think a little more gravel shoveling and getting up and down out of my chair to answer the phone would do me good.

The Real News Story

This week on Good Morning America I saw a segment on people who have lost 100 pounds or more. I think they are doing stories all week on people like that, but I only saw today’s.  The woman they featured had lost more like 150 pounds, but she had done it over five years, which was realistic.  She had not gone to a weight loss center so she was not pushing anyone’s product so that alone was totally refreshing.


It is inspiring to see people who have worked hard and changed their lives, but that is a story that is told over and over again on TV.  I would love to see a story on people who were able to lose those fifteen pounds they have been carrying around for the last seventeen years.


As someone who has lost and gained extraordinary amounts of weight it is not the first hundred that is hard, it is the last ten.  The weight that has been with you the longest are those pounds that say, ”I really like you and I want to stay with you.”


Of course it is easier if you are young because you have not lived enough years for those last ten pounds to become semi-permanent.  It is like they are petrified onto your thighs.  The last bit of fat has been adopted by your bones and thinks it is absolutely necessary for your survival.


I write this as a complete novice in the area of getting the last ten off.  I know that I have never even gotten to the last twenty and I am fine with that.  But I think the news should do a story on someone who, after years of trying, was able to get to his or her ideal body weight.  That would be an inspiring news story.


Of course the follow-up mini-series would be how they were able to maintain that ideal body weight.  That is a true miracle.  It is one thing to work out like a serious dancing with the stars contender and eat only the healthiest food to get those final few pounds off, but it is another thing to live your normal life and maintain it.


So I am looking for inspiration from any of you who have struggled and won the final ten to fifteen pound fight especially if you are a middle-aged woman.  I am a year from that fight, but I think I am going to have to start preparing my mind to what is ahead for me and I do love to plan.


I think that the real unsung heroes are the people who are able to deal with a weight gain before it guts the clothes available in their closets.  It may not make a big splash on the morning news, but I think it is an issue that the majority of people would like those tough investigative journalists to take on.

Still Time to Grow



Today my friend Stephanie came over for lunch so we could work on a project together.  I’ve been a little busy and have not been to the grocery and at noon it dawned on me that I needed to find something for lunch.  I often have bits and pieces of leftover meals, which are not enough to serve two.


After searching the fridge I came up with some roasted butternut squash chunks, roasted pear slices, grilled onions, roast tomatoes from my summer garden and a small wedge of blue cheese. I also had containers of chicken salad and pimento cheese, which would be great for Stephanie since she is not on a weight reduction plan, but not so good for me.


Based on what I had on hand I did not really have a meal for me and my guest would surely like something a little healthier than what I found.  The answer to my problem was just outside my door, my fall garden full of lettuce and arugula.


With my kitchen shears and basket in-hand I went out and cut the beautiful tender leaves of butter lettuce, red leaf, romaine and a couple others volunteers as well as my favorite spicy arugula.  A couple of rinses and spins in the salad basket and I had a most delicious base for a fabulous salad.


Growing these lettuces could not be easier.  I literally threw the seeds of arugula in the dirt and sprayed water on them.  I bought a couple of lettuce plants at the local Southern States and for $1.29 I have gotten at least $10 worth of lettuce.  I have not done anything else to help these plants along.  No fertilizing, weeding or watering.


It is not just the cost savings that is wonderful, but the flavor and freshness of the just picked vegetable can’t be rivaled.  To me the convenience of having the food right outside my door is also a huge bonus.  I only pick it if I am going to eat it for that meal.  Not like some food I buy and put in the fridge and forget about it until it has turned into an inedible liquid.


I have a much greater appreciation for farmers who toil over the food we buy in the store.  Lack of rain, too many caterpillars or even cute furry bunnies that think this food is grown just for them are just some of the problems they have to deal with.  There is nothing more fun than bringing a small child to my garden and letting them taste a cherry tomato right off the plant.  They think it is magic.


If you have a sunny spot, even if it is just a pot, try growing some lettuce.  It is fast and easy which is a good description for a vegetable, not your son’s girl friend.  You only need a few weeks of non-frosty nights.  If it gets too cool try it in the spring, no green thumb necessary.

Not Such a Bad Mother

Monday I went to visit my parents and brought a couple of friends to shop for my mother’s art.  Between looking at art and going to lunch we sat on the front porch of my parent’s farmhouse, and as us southerners say, visited a while.  One friend who came up was my friend Hannah who had recently started selling Doncaster, just as my mother did when I was a kid.  As she and my mother discussed the “business” my mother told us all a story I had never heard.


When I was about ten and my sister Margaret was seven and our baby sister Janet was a new born my father came home and told my mother that a great store named Talbots was going to open a branch in the town next to us and that she should get a job there.  My mother always loved clothes and this seemed like a great fit for her.


As my mother told it, she had the first interview to be the store manager and was asked to come back for a second interview.  She had that one and was told that they needed to interview her one more time because it was between her and another woman.


The day of the third interview she dropped Margaret and me off at our club for swim team and tennis and all the things we did every summer day between 7:30 in the morning and 7:30 in the evening.  After my mother got home she got a call from the girl who was going to sit for Janet that she could not make it.  With not enough time to go back to the club and get me to sit, my mother put Janet in a wicker bassinet in the back of our forest green Chevrolet Impala station wagon and went to the interview leaving Janet in the unattended car with the windows open for air of course.


My mother said that the person interviewing her told her that if she got the job she would need to sell our house because as the manager of Talbots, it would become her home.  It was only then that it dawned on her that she had three unattended children, one in the car and that there was no way she could do this job.  She got up and left right then.  The next year my mother started selling Doncaster in our home where at least the unattended children had rooms to go play in.


Things certainly are different now.  Not only do mothers go to jail for leaving babies in cars alone (actually not a bad thing) but even seven and ten year olds do not spend their days unsupervised at clubs or else where.  But perhaps mothers of today have gone too far the other way.  Our children are driven everywhere on earth, parents watch every game and cheer for kids who barely can kick the ball.


My mother was good at taking care of herself.  She was always is great shape.  She took a rest almost every afternoon when she put her feet up and we were not allowed to come up to her room and bother her.  It is a lesson I should have learned long ago, to take care of myself first.


I look back and think that all three of us Carter girls turned out to be capable of lots of different things, from each of us starting our own businesses to being able to travel the world alone and not just places like Paris, but India, Indonesia and Africa.


It will take a generation before we know if we have screwed up our kids by doing too much for them.  I can’t wait to hear the stories my daughter will tell about her childhood and what kind of mother I turned out to be.



Happy Birthday Russ!

Today is my husband’s birthday.  So if you know him and see him somewhere wish him a happy birthday.  Now I can’t promise that he will know you, at least he might not know your name although he is getting fairly good at pretending he knows your face.

Once he came home from the grocery store and was quite excited to tell me that he had seen my friend Jean at the Harris Teeter and told me he said “Hi” to her.  I was so proud of him, not only because he recognized Jean who had just had us to her lake house, but also because he actually spoke to her.  My pride bubble was quickly burst when the phone rang two minutes later and my friend Carol said, “I just saw Russ at the grocery store and he called me Jean.”

Please don’t be offended that I did not invite you to a big birthday party for Russ.  His idea of a great birthday is to have two other guys come over to our house, each with their own reading material.  They go into separate rooms and read for a while and at some point gather in the kitchen to get a drink, tell each other something interesting that they read and go back to their own rooms.

We are not even celebrating that way this year since Russ has a work meeting and dinner tonight.  At least he will have a meal he enjoys without any guilt that I cannot share in the same fattening goodies.  For his home celebration Carter is making him his favorite apple pie and I will have some baked apples in solidarity.

So I would like to raise a virtual glass to my wonderful husband who makes everyday with him a joy.  His constant support and promotion of me is unmatched.  I wish that I were half as good a wife as he is a husband and father. Happy Birthday Russ Lange, you are the best!

Reporting Time

It’s the first of the month so it is time for my true confession time.  Last month I think I made you read all the way to the end of the blog before I told you how much weight I lost that month.  It was such a good month I wanted to build up the suspense.  This month was not quite as good, but still right on track for my predicted total weight loss.  I did hit a big plateau, which I was experienced in.  True to form, as soon as I wrote about it the plateau ended and I finished the month strong.


I won’t keep you reading a moment longer.  My total weight loss since the start of the campaign on May 8th is 45 pounds.  I lost five pounds in September.  I was hoping to do more, but I realized that the program I have created is one I can actually live with.


I have one more month to try and reach the 50-pound and maybe a little more mark.  I think I can do it.  People have started asking me what I plan on eating on November first.  The answer is simple.  Exactly what I have been eating all along.


I certainly will not be at an ideal weight for my age and height on November 1.  It was just an arbitrary date I picked to try and raise money for the Food Bank.  I am still going to have to keep at the exact same program to get to my ultimate goal.  I am going to keep eating the same way and blogging all about it.


I just used you all as the jump-start I needed to create a new way of eating and stick to it long enough to change my habits.  So thank you for being my inspiration.  As I have said before, I am not good at doing this for myself, but doing it for other people seems to help motivate me.


The real trick is to maintain weight loss.  You see, losing weight is exciting, maintaining weight is dull.  As long as I have stories to tell and readers who laugh along the way with me I am going to keep writing about this journey because it makes it much less mundane for me.


So, happy October to you, thanks for enduring the summer with me. I hope I can slide into November with a big strong finish, laughing all the way.