Parking Rummy

This morning I went to the store and I noticed I had to park very far from the store even though most of the close in spots were empty.  The empty spots were those designated for different groups of people who may need to be closer to the store.  You know what they are, Handicapped, of course.  Having a child who has been on crutches multiple times I am appreciative of those spots.  I don’t like those people who have a handicapped placard for their elderly grandmother and pull it out when she is not even in the car just so they can get the choice spot, but what can we do.


Another group was designated for people with small children.  Those spaces are right next to the cart coral so that you don’t have to leave a baby in a car alone a long time to return the grocery cart.  That makes a lot of sense and I am all for that.  Even though the sign was clear as day I saw a twenties something guy park in the spot and get out of his car alone.  I was dying to ask him if he was leaving a child in the car.


A new group of spots poped up recently for expectant moms.  They are slightly closer to the store and I wondered if they were needed so they could get to the bathroom faster.  The parking spaces are the same size as the regular spots so I did not think they allowed for wider door opening to enable these women to get out of the car with their enormous belly’s.  It seems like they should even designate those spaces for third trimester pregnant women.


Then there are the compact car spots.  I assume they are there because the civil engineers who laid out the parking lot did not measure correctly and the spots are too small for a big car.  The problem with those spaces is people with big cars have no respect for them and use them just the same making the small spots next to them even smaller.


I got to thinking that perhaps they could make some extra large spots, far from the store for over weight people.  They would be able to open their doors widely enough to get in and out, but would have the added advantage of getting some exercise because they had to walk further to and from the store.  I can see it now.  Thin people who have really nice cars might park in those fat people spots because they do not want people in the cars next to them to ding their doors.


Since all the spots except for handicapped are self-policing I can hear the excuse the thin people parking in the extra large spot will use, “I’m so fat right now.  I need to drop five pounds.”  I liked it better in the olden days when parking spaces were big to accommodate cars like the two door Cadillac Eldorado with giant doors that required four feet of empty space beside them just to swing open.  Those cars could hold an overdue pregnant woman with six small children sitting untethered in the back seat.


I predict we have not seen the end of special parking designations.  I am sure that some special interest group will lobby a store to give them prime spots and those of us regular people, with regular cars are going to be SOL to get any parking spots what-so-ever.

Are You Prepared?

Being prepared for the worst situation is something insurance company ads like to scare us about.  The local news spends inordinate amounts of time talking about bad weather that may or may not be coming.  It drives people to toilet paper hoarding behavior quite unnecessarily.  Being prepared is so important that an entire sex of scouts claims it as their motto.  Since I am neither a boy, nor scout I wonder if that group actually does stuff or just spends time getting ready to do something.  Wouldn’t a better motto be, “Be Prepared and Actually Get Something Done”?


Today at lunch a group was talking about people who think the end is coming so they are preparing by buying food that will survive in the packages for twenty-four years – guaranteed.  I can guarantee that if the worst does happen and you open that food and it is no good you will have a hard time getting your money back from the guys who made it.  If some kind of holocaust happens I am not interested in sticking around until I run out of some stinkin’ survival food.  I’m prepared to just go in the deluge and not worry about repopulating the planet.  I’m clean out of repopulating supplies any way.


This afternoon I arrived home to a powerless house.  Since I usually get in my house through the automatic garage door opener I had to go old school and find a key to open a regular door.  I was prepared for that emergency.  It was still light enough to see inside without lights, but I realized that soon enough the darkness was coming.  I went to my abundant lantern, flashlight, battery and candle storage area and gathered enough illuminating power to run a small village.  I took stock in my head of the food in the refrigerator, which could be heated, on my gas stove top.  I did not want to open the fridge and let out any cold. All these things were good.  I was prepared.


Then I thought about what I was not prepared for.  We have a gas-powered generator in the garage.  I don’t think I know if we have any gas for it and I do know that I don’t know how to run it.  This would seem like something I should learn since in the 19 years we have lived in our house Russ has only ever been home for 2% of any power outages.  I thought about writing my blog, but realized that I had not charged either my computer or my ipad and writing on my phone is really too slow.  We have two fireplaces, but I think most of our wood is very old and soaking wet outside.  I was clearly not prepared.  Then the power came back on.


Here is my takeaway.  Life is a balancing act between spending time preparing for the worst or living like everything is going to be all right.  I like having a cabinet stocked with toilet paper so there is no need to run out to the store at the mere mention of a snowflake or two.  I like buying two boxes of cereal at a time so I don’t discover that I only have two spoonfuls when pouring my morning bowl.  I like belonging to AAA so someone else can lie on the ground and change my flat tire.  That is being prepared to me.  What I don’t like is stock piling weapons and food in case terrorist invade Durham NC.  I think I am as prepared as I care to be.

How Do You Know You Have Changed Your Eating Habits?

Most of us are the size we are because of what we eat, when we eat, how much we eat and what triggers us to eat.  If you are thin you probably have a fairly good handle on not letting things change some relatively good eating habits.  If you are somewhat over weight you probably have a few eating patterns which could be improved.


Changing your eating routine for the long run is not an easy job.  In fact, it is a job and one you probably hate as much as you hate cleaning out a grease trap.  The problem is you always need to eat something and once you have created a memory of a yummy food it is hard to wipe it from your brain.  If you are a late night eater you need to find new ways to distract yourself.  If stress drives you to seek the chocolate fairy you are under the power of an intoxicating mistress.


Somehow the desire to have healthy eating habits and be thinner is not great enough and that is why the majority of people who lose weight on diets end up gaining it back.  You have to create new ways of living so that food is not a medicine, friend, comforter, consolation, reward or distracter.


Experts say it takes months and months to change desires and even then you have to constantly work at it.  Today I recognized that I might be on the road to creating new habits.  I discovered that a drain in my down stairs bath had gotten clogged and since it is the pipe that leads from the dishwasher as it ran overnight all the dirty water flowed on the bathroom floor and rug.


After scooping water out of the sink and trying the plunger I searched the house for Liquid Plumber and finding none I went off to my regular store.  I picked up two bottles of drain cleaner and approached the checkout, which was thankfully free of other customers.  The clerk told me the total was $15.07 and I handed over a twenty as I bagged my two items.  Realizing that I had seven pennies in my wallet I asked the clerk if I could give her the seven cents since I really did not want four one dollar bills and 97 cent change.  She looked at me and said, “No.”


I assumed she was kidding because she would much rather make all that change than just give me a five dollar bill, so I asked her, “Are you kidding me?”


“No, I already keyed $20 in the register.”


“You are really going to not take my seven cents and going to make me take all that change?”




This is normally the point in life when I go crazy.  I am a really good customer of this particular store.  I am not holding any other customers up by asking this clerk to take my change.  This is the kind of situation that used to drive me to eat a brownie, but not today.  That clerk should have recognized a woman who was carb deprived and accepted my pennies without an argument.  Eventually she did, but both she and her manager will never make that mistake again.


I went home poured the liquid plumber in the sink and still have a clogged drain, but none of these things have driven me to fall back into old stress relieving eating patterns.  Have I permanently changed?  No way.  But just recognizing a situation that used to derail me is a big step in the right direction.

Winter Diet Dry Skin

One of the annoying side affects of dieting is that as you reduce the amount of oil you are eating you may be keeping fat from developing under your skin, but you are also robbing your skin of moisture.  Winter dry heat and lack of humidity in the air also contribute to your skin being dryer.  What is the use of being thinner if you look older and wrinkled because your skin is too dry?


Keeping your body well hydrated from both the inside and outside is the only way to fight flaky skin.  Here is yet another reason you need to drink a lot of water.  You don’t need to go back to drowning your salad in olive oil, just make sure you have 8-10 glasses of water.  Adding fruits and vegetables are great ways to get more water in your system and they fill you up on things that are diet friendly.


If you can add a humidifier to your heating system you will not only help your skin but all the wood in your house too.  All things made up of cells need moisture.  Wearing gloves when you go out in the cold helps you keep whatever moisture you have in your hands rather than letting the dry air suck it our of your digits.


There is nothing I like better in the cold weather than a really long hot shower, but that is the wrong way to go.  Dialing back the water temperature and taking a quick shower is better for our delicate dried out skin.  As soon as you finish from your shower, don’t zap every bit of moisture from your body with a towel.  Act more like your dog and shake off the excess and then slather yourself with lotion while you are still damp.  Your pores will more easily suck of the emollient right after the shower.


With all the flu bugs around we need to be vigilant about washing our hands, but then you need to use lotion after all that washing too.  Dry and cracked cuticles are a super highway for bugs to get into your system, so not just washing the germs off, but also sealing the cracks will help keep you healthy.


You can’t do much about sun damage you may have done to your skin over years of non-sunscreen use or the naturally reducing collagen due to aging, but deep hydrating winter skin can fight off the appearance of wrinkles and just make you happier.

Spring Break Reality Check

It may still be January and perhaps the coldest weekend we have seen here in North Carolina in a few years, but I am here to remind you that spring break is just around the corner.  Spring break is my favorite vacation of the year.  March is clearly when I am sick of my regular life and in need of a little pick me up.


This year I just hope that Carter and I will both be well by spring break.  My two-week bronchitis and her two-week double flu infections are really wearing on us.  Carter is suffering much more than I am having missed so much school having basically slept day and night for a fortnight.


In my guilt of being so unproductive stuck in my house for the last two weeks doing basically nothing I forced myself to weed through some of the too big clothes and remove them from my closet.  In the unearthing process I came across the bathing suit drawer.  Spring break is coming.  Do I have a suitable bathing suit that holds everything up and in the right places?


I am lucky that this year for Carter’s break I am taking her to London, which will certainly not involve a bathing suit.  But a month later Russ is taking me on a company trip to a warm and sandy place.  Two and a half months until I have to wear a suit and in front of people I know.


This January sick period has been wonderful to drop the pounds.  Coughing must be great exercise, at least for my core.  But the lack of real weight bearing workouts is not helping to tone up the flabby bits and pieces.  I have not tried a suit on yet.  I think I will hold off on doing that until I am better and need some diet inspiration because I am no longer losing weight due to illness.


Don’t let spring break sneak up on you unprepared.  Find your bathing suit soon and try it on.  If you need any inspiration hang your swimwear on your bathroom mirror.  Being spring break body ready takes longer to obtain than we think it will.  I hope I will have mine by 2014.

Good Ice

Yesterday we had a sleeting, rainy, and icy afternoon, which basically shut Durham down.  Schools got let out early, people left work in the middle of the day and parties were canceled.  Even the mall closed at five in the afternoon.  Panic set in from those people who did not have dinner purchased before noon because even pizza deliveries were suspended.


I was prepared because I had bought pork chops to make for a neighbor who had lost a loved one and deserved to have dinner delivered.  After making the pork with balsamic glazed pears and onions, roast green beans and risottoed farrow I put it all in a bag along with a loaf of zucchini bread from the freezer and set out to skate my way down the street to deliver it.


As grains of frozen ice resembling grape nuts more than snow came down around me as I slid down the hill from my house to my neighbors I had flashbacks of childhood winters in Connecticut.  So many winter days would my sisters and I have to shuffle our way up our icy driveway and down our busy road to the school bus stop.  This granulated precipitation was the kind we hated.  Certainly not because it made the roads more treacherous or because it was the hardest to shovel.  We hated it because it ruined the glass like frozen surface of our ice skating pond.


When you grew up in the pre-global warming winter wonderland of Connecticut you had to embrace winter full on.  We were very lucky to have a big ice skating pond at our house that my father kept in good condition since he had no grass to cut during the winter months.  Keeping up an outdoor rink involved shoveling, or in my father’s case, snow blowing the surface the second that snow fell on the ice.  The best ice was black ice, which meant that it had frozen quickly and for a long time without any snow or melting and refreezing.


Our pond was private, as opposed to the big town lakes where many people came to skate.  The good thing about having a private pond was the fewer people skating on your ice, the nicer the surface was.  Too many skaters put dings and marks in the ice from their toe picks on the front of their figure skates.


My father also created a system of resurfacing the ice by putting a gutter from the stream that fed the pond onto the top of the ice’s surface overnight so that new water was recoating the top.  In the morning he would take the gutter off and the ice would freeze hard while we were at school.


This winter wonderland of a pond made us very popular on the school bus.  Kids would saddle up to me on the way home and hint at wanting an invitation to come skating on our newly surfaced ice.  Having just the right number of kids to play whip was the ideal afternoon activity.  We just had to make sure that the boys we invited would not get too rough and put a small child on the end of the line skating around in a giant circle until the last could not hold on any longer and would go hurdling off the end at twenty miles per hour.


I am no longer a fearless skater.  Fear of falling and lack of practice has zapped me of what was my daily winter pastime.  I am happy not to live in such cold weather now and just enjoy the memories of our great pond and the time spent gliding along its perfect surface.

Janie Carter Day

Today is my Mother’s 75th birthday.  That is a lot of birthdays.  Three quarters of a century.  She’s doing great.  She is an exceptional artist who paints most days and continues to win juried show after juried show.  When she is not painting she would like to be playing bridge.   Playing bridge and having lunch with her friends, that is a perfect day for her.


For her birthday today she was supposed to playing bridge, but then the snow and bad weather happened.  Not only was bridge on her birthday canceled but also so was lunch with friends.


So for my blog today I am asking anyone reading this to do me a favor.  Please send my mother, Janie Carter a happy birthday e-mail.  Her address is


If you want to look at her website and see some of her artwork go to  My mom is not one who is big on cake, but having people enjoy her paintings is something that would make her happy, almost as happy as playing bridge — Maybe not as happy as winning at bridge, but happy none-the-less.


If you have enjoyed reading my blog at all do me this favor.  I am the way I am in part to the mother I have.  Because of the weather and the sickness that still engulfs our house I can’t go play bridge with my mother and make her birthday all better, so you, wonderful reader are my best back-up plan.


I hope you are staying warm and safe on this cold January 25th.  Enjoy a glass of wine in honor of my mother.  She would like that too.

Your Number is Not Important

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about clothes shopping.  She confessed that she never tries anything on at stores and just buys things and then brings them back if she does not like them.  Whoaaaa!!  I was astonished by this.


“How do you know you are buying the right size?”  I asked.


“I only buy the same single digit size. I refuse to have any other number in my closet.”  She said.


“But not all size X fit the same way.  Wouldn’t it be easier to try them on and get the right size while you are at the store?”


“No, because there is only one right size for me and that is all I am buying.”


I have to say I have seen her in both things that are much too big and much too small so this strict adherence to a number is not a perfect system.  (And no I will not tell you who this is.)  I guess it is one way not to let yourself ever gain too much weight, but it does mean you may have to wear some unflattering outfits.


Unless you wear your clothes inside out all the time absolutely no one knows what size you are wearing.  That is unless you have a really old pair of Levi’s with both the waist and the inseam printed on the leather tag on the back.  How well your clothes fit is what people see, not the fact that you are an eight or a twelve.  Clothes that are too small make you look bigger anyway.


The number on your scale is also not a good indicator of how healthy you are either.  You can weigh more, but be rock hard solid muscle and be in great shape, or you can have a lower number on the scale and be a mass of quivering flab.  It’s not the number that is important, but how you function, look and feel.  That involves actually looking at yourself.  You may decide that despite what your number is you are perfectly happy the way you are.


I just want to encourage you to actually use the mirror as your judge and not the tag when you buy clothes.  The mirror is much more similar to how others see you and not the number on the tag.

68 Pounds Equals One Size

On June 6, a month into this weight loss blog I wrote a post called “The problem with underpants” chronicling how much weight a person could gain and still wear the same size underpants.  The problem, I wrote, is that my underpants were not getting tight so I did not have a constant pinching feeling reminding me that I was getting fatter.


Here I am over eight months later and 68 pounds lighter and I can report that I finally had to go down one, uno, a single size in underpants.  Actually my original ones still fit and are quite comfortable without being baggy.  The reason I had to go down in size is that the old ones stuck out of my jeans, which have gone down five sizes.


Does that make sense?  Five jean sizes are equal to one underpants size?  I feel like this is a true scientific experiment since I had a hypothesis that underpants stretched much too much.  I was my own control, using the same kind of underpants and measuring everyday by actually wearing them and I proved that it took a giant weight change before a smaller size fit.


The good news is that I think that I will not lose another 68 pounds so I feel fairly certain that the size panty I wear now will be my final small size.  That means that I can actually invest in fancy pants without the fear of not getting to wear them for long.  If only I liked or even cared about high-end undergarments.  Alas, too much information for some of you readers

Dogs Not Drinks

In the category, “What are politicians thinking?” I am happy to see that we Americans are not alone in this world.  This morning I was listening to BBC radio and an Irish Councilman was being interviewed because his district is considering giving out permits to certain citizens to drive drunk.  That’s right, people can apply to have their legal blood alcohol limit raised.


I was dumbfounded about why a government would do this and even more so when the Councilman explained their reasoning for considering this change in their law.  Apparently there have been a lot of suicides among the lonely single rural Irishmen and a councilor feels like when the drunk driving laws were not so strict these lonely people would spend more time down in their local pub surrounded by friends and fellow drinkers.


The politician went on to say that only people who lived on country roads where there was not much traffic would probably be approved for these “Go on and get drunk” driving permits.  I wonder if they would have to prove that they were suicidal first before they would qualify.  Would killing someone else while they were drunk driving perhaps cause them to be more suicidal?


I understand that suicide is a real problem, and loneliness may be increasing in our ever more isolated society, but encouraging people to drive drunk does not seem to be the answer.  In fact, encouraging depressed people to drink is probably wrong to begin with.


I file this under, “Solving one problem by creating another.”  Granted suicides may be up in Ireland, but it might not just be due to the fact that people are lonelier because they are afraid to go to their local and have a pint for fear of being arrested.  The economy is not so great in that part of the world.  That could be adding to the stress people are feeling.  Should their government raise the drunk driving level for every point the GDP goes down?


I have a different solution for the lonely and potentially suicidal Irish people.  Instead of encouraging drinking which not only causes problems with driving, but with waistlines and general health, promote dog ownership.  Dogs are the best companions, they love you unconditionally and give their masters a good reason to get up in the morning and stick around.  Walking a dog gives you more endorphins than downing a beer and lager never loved you back like your best canine companion.

The Sleeveless Dress Nightmare The First Lady Created

This morning as I was watching the pre-inauguration fashion news the commentators were discussing how fabulous Michelle Obama’s arms were and how she is the first First Lady to wear sleeveless dresses.  The talking heads went on to say how it has changed what women news people wear on TV and how most dresses are sleeveless these days.


Hey, this is not news to me.  I do not have arms that resemble Mrs. Obama’s.  I work out, I lift weights and the topside of my arms looks halfway decent… but then there is the bottom half, the chicken waddle.  If I were to wave my naked arm wildly in the air I could give someone two feet behind me a black eye.  I am sure that no matter how much weight I lose my arms will be the tale of two bodies; the upper, the toned and powerful and the lower, the giant chicken wing.


I am not alone.  For many women of a certain age their underarm from pit to elbow is not their most flattering part.  Most of us benefit greatly from a sleeve of some kind other than a cap.  Please fashion people of the world, don’t design dresses just for the first lady.  She can only wear so many.  If you want to sell a lot of dresses make a few with some sleeves.


The evening dress category is the worst offender in the no sleeve department.  I might as well just wrap a piece of chiffon around me like a towel since that is what eighty percent of the long dresses look like.  Besides wanting the arm camouflage, no sleeves are cold.  Of course you can wear a pashminia or wrap, but then your arms or hands have to work to keep it wrapped around you.  A sleeve or two is so much easier.


So thanks Michelle, for being a good role model and working on childhood obesity, but please, start buying some dresses with some sleeves and stop just wearing cardigans with your sleeveless dresses.  If you will do it I know designers will follow suit.  I will keep working on my arms, but I think my insurance company still finds my naked arms a potential liability.

My Non-Workout at the Justin Bieber Concert



Three Pet Peeves of mine; People who bring very young children to night events, middle aged women who dress like they are thirteen year old fast girls, and performers who make audiences wait ridiculous amounts of time.  Sometimes I just have to blog off topic because something makes me crazy, so forgive me if this one does not help you lose weight.


For Carter’s fourteenth birthday she only wanted one thing, tickets to go see Justin Bieber, no party, no big celebration, just going to the concert with her mom.  If was a real present from me to shell out the aftermarket price and have to go and sit in a room with 30,000 screaming girls, but so worth it because it made my child so happy.


A few things helped the situation.  First Carter’s great friend Ashley and her mom also were going to Greensboro to see the Biebes so they rode with us in the car and we all enjoyed a very early dinner together before going to the coliseum for a 7:00 PM show.  We had an easy drive, found our way no problem and got there early enough that traffic, parking and the purse and ticket check did not take too long.

We ended up having great seats on an aisle in the fourth row and Carter could not have been happier.  Mission accomplished as good mother birthday wishes provider.


I was very hopeful that the Bieber’s people knew his audience so well because it was a 7:00 PM start time that the concert would be over by 9:30 and we could be home in bed by 11:00.  We knew there was one opening act, Carly Rae Jepson of “Call me Maybe” fame, but were surprised when at 7:15 sixteen year old Australian heart throb, and Carter’s favorite singer, Cody Simpson came out and sang about five songs.  That was a huge bonus.  The audience loved him.  Carly Rae followed fairly quickly and was a little bit of a let down, cooling the heighten temperature of the pubescent audience.


She finished around 8:15 and the lights came up.  JB was next.  We waited, the stagehands rearranged the set, and we waited. The college aged girls sitting in front of us were getting antsy.  The many four and five year old girls seated around us were getting antsy. Small children, no matter how much they profess their love for some teenybopper have no place going to a deafeningly loud concert at night.  One poor sweet toe-head girl seated two rows in front of us sat the whole evening with both her hands cupped over her ears because it was much too loud for her.  Her mother was too busy screaming for Justin to notice how much discomfort her child was in.


Justin made all these screaming girls wait over an hour from the ending of the opening acts so it was well past 9:30 before he started.  I know he is trying to be an adult, but his audience is not.  Please don’t make all these people wait.


Carter thought it was a great show, check.  The mother one row up in the next section did too because she jumped up and down so much that her size 18 peg legged cropped jeans with the giant studded pockets kept sliding over her giggling love handles and slipping down to crack level while her chest hugging tank top slid up.  She was oblivious to it as she sang to every song.  It certainly was a lot of exercise for that middle-aged woman.  Perhaps I missed my opportunity to turn this gift to my child into a work-out for me, but I think Carter was perfectly happy to have me be the only one sitting in our section not embarrassing her by dancing to the music.




My Fifteen Minutes of Radio Fame


Yesterday with my gravely chest congested voice I was interviewed by the brilliant Kristin Hiemstra for her radio show “The Art of the Potential” on WCHL.  We did a remote location taping at the Durham Branch of the Food Bank.  When Kristin asked me to be a guest on her show I had no idea we were going to do a whole forty-minute show on my volunteer work with the Food Bank.  I thought I might just be one of many guests.


With no script or outline for me Kristin and I talked about how I first got involved with the Food Bank, my weight loss connection, this blog and the work of the Food Bank in our community.  I should have known that I would have a lot more to say about the subject than a forty-minute show could hold.


One question Kristin asked me led to talk about a phrase I first coined when I was a consultant working with ex-monopoly telephone companies that applies to everything in life, “If it’s not a law of nature it can be changed.”  Working with bureaucracy I often heard things from people like, “It is a rule that customers wait three days for a new phone.” Or “Even if we were wrong it is our policy to never refund a call to a customer.”


Those kinds of words make me crazy.  See those “rules” and “policies” are not gravity, which is a “law of nature.”  I can’t change gravity, but lord knows I would like to in relation to a pair of my body parts, but rules and policies can be changed.  When people say things like, “that is the way we have always done it,” or “It’s just the way it is,” I think it is a huge cop out.


What do you want to change?  It can be things in the world, your community, your house or yourself.  If it’s not a law of nature go for it.


If you want to listen to the whole show it will air tomorrow, Sunday January 20, at 2:00 PM on WCHL 97.9 FM or 1360 AM.  Or you can go to this link and listen to it.

Sick Benefits

OK I have whined all week about my child having the flu and my having a full-on respiratory take over which has turned into a post nasal drip cold and cough.  Enough already.  We certainly are not the only sick people on earth.  But I think what ever is going on here might be something other people just might want.


What?  Why would I ever think you would want my illness?  Well, how’s your New Year diet going?  Having a little trouble now in week three keeping off the Cheezits?  My particular type of sickness is the answer.  I have lost nine pounds since the first of the year and none of that was water weight, since I sucked all the water out of me months ago.


It’s not like I’m not eating.  I am opposed to starvation.  Even though I don’t feel like it I am putting food in me, not much, but still enough to not throw my metabolism into some kind-of Bangladesh-style famine.  Still every morning I get on the scale and another pound is down.  This is the karma I pray for.  I’ve been good and now I feel like the stuff that comes out of the non-cute end of my dog, so some higher being is rewarding me for this suffering, Thank you Baby Jesus.


My friend Hannah reminded me of the greatest quote from The Devil Wears Prada, “I’m just one stomach flu away from my goal weight.”  Well I’m at least seven flu’s away from mine, but I’m not going to look this gift horse in the mouth.  I do have the feeling that this weight loss can’t go on like this so I would just prefer to get well.


For those of you desperate enough to get your diet back on track I am thinking of leaving some used drinking glasses on my front porch.  Feel free to come by and borrow one, but just excuse me if I don’t come to the door.  I really don’t look my best and of course I’m already in my Lanz nightgown under the blanket and the sun is still high in the sky.


I have not revised my goal to lose eleven pounds by March 1 get because I want to see what happens when I get better.  I’d hate to be all cocky like this is real fat gone and up my goal number and then find out that as soon as I am better five pounds magically reappears.  I’ll keep you posted, like I have anything else to do stuck in bed.

Your Weight Has Changed Clothes Rental Service

The only downside of losing weight is that I need new clothes faster than I want to either think about them, shop for them or pay for them.  I am much too cheep, you know frugal, to not wear things until they are practically see-through-thread-bare, and not because I am the other kind of cheep, but because I want to get my money’s worth from them.


If you are losing weight and you don’t wear clothes that fit it is harder for people to see how you are doing.  So having the right sized pants is an encouragement to keep going.  It also works the other way.  If you are gaining weight you need new clothes and nothing looks worse than trying to force your too big backside into a pair of jeans meant for your formally thinner self.


These two opposite ends of the same I-don’t-have-anything-that-fits end of the clothing spectrum could be solved with the creation on one new business.   Your weight has changed clothing rental service – might be called TemporClothes.  Here is how it works.


No matter is you are on the way down the scale, or on the way up, or are up and are thinking about going down, wherever you are the size you are now is temporary, or so you hope.  You just need a few nice things to carry you over until you get to the size you want to be.


TemporClothes would rent you nice clothes that fit perfectly and the first month is the cheapest.  Each month after that it would get more expensive which would encourage you to get to the next size down faster.  As you lose weight you bring the clothes back and if you trade down in size you get to go back to the cheapest price.  Once you reach your goal weight you stop renting clothes and begin to invest in a permanent wardrobe.


If you have gained weight and don’t fit in your current wardrobe you could rent one size up and you are encouraged to lose so you can get back to your own clothes and not be paying rent.  The worst thing you can do if you gain weight is just go ahead and buy bigger clothes because then you do not have the incentive to lose because you don’t have anything to wear, but you really should not wear things that are embarrassingly tight.


I have at least eight sizes of clothes so I probably could go ahead and start this business out of my own closet, but I can’t promise how up-to-date in fashion they all are.  That is why I am throwing this idea out to the world so someone who is really interested in clothes would start it and rent me a few things that are current and the right size for me.  I hate to invest good money for things I may wear a couple of months.

Our Dog as Nurse



Getting sick stinks.  There is only one possible benefit and that is loss of appetite and actual pounds.  I have lost four and a half pounds since I got sick on Sunday.  I am wondering what is going to happen when I feel fully better.  I am still eating so I hope that this is some real fat disappearing and not just water flowing out of my system.  In the good medical advice to stay fully hydrated I am drinking as much as I can.  It does not seem to help my chest congestion, but I will keep at it.


My daughter is much sicker than I am.  She has the full-blown flu as was confirmed by the violation of a long swab stuck way up her nose by the doctor this morning.  Hopefully the Tamiflu she was prescribed will help shorten the duration of this already grueling illness.


I know there are lots of homemade remedies for flu and colds from chicken soup to menthol chest rubs.  In our house the best medicine is our snuggling labradoodle Shay-Shay.  Shay is a loyal companion to anyone hold up in bed and feels it is her duty to lie as close to each patient as possible.


Perhaps the cold and rainy weather is adding to Shay’s desire to be near to us, but it certainly is comforting to have her company when we feel this poorly.  It seems like a visiting dog program could be added to the visiting nurse world.  Shay doesn’t seem to be vulnerable to our illnesses so she is the perfect one to watch over us when we are sick.


I had a wonderful and loyal dog Beau who I got when I was in college.  While Beau was still a puppy we went home to my parents house so I could have my wisdom teeth taken out.  That was the most horrific procedure I have ever endured.  My second night home I woke up in the middle of the night in terrible pain.  I stumbled into the kitchen to get one of my pain pills and passed out before I could take it.  As I went down I knocked a glass off the counter and it broke under my unconscious body.


Beau saved the day by going to my parent’s room and waking my father.  He was furious that my dog was coming to him to be taken out in the middle of the night, but he certainly did not want my dog to pee in his room.  When Beau led him downstairs my father found me bleeding on the floor passed out.


Today I am thankful for a devoted and dedicated dog who makes us feel a little bit better and never lets us feel alone.

Six Foot Three, 125 Pounds?

I have a skinny mother.  She was not a thin child, but she has been in good shape since she was a teenager.  It is not natural, but hard work that has kept her this way.  As a not very tall person she knows that she can’t carry much weight, there is just no place to hide it.  All my life she has had a number on her scale that reminds her of her constant goal.


Years ago when we both lived in Washington my mother was off her weight goal by about six pounds and was not having any luck losing it on her own.  After watching countless ads on TV for various weight-loss centers my mother decided that she was going to enroll in one to lose her six pounds.  She called a Jenny Craig center that was just a few blocks from her house.


Here is how the conversation went:


Mom:  I need to come in because I need to lose some weight.


Jenny Person:  OK, how tall are you?


Mom:  I am six foot three.


Jenny Person:  And how much do you weigh?


Mom:  I weigh exactly 125.


Jenny Person (In an exasperated voice) You are six-three and weigh 125?


Mom:  Yes, and I want to lose six pounds.


Jenny Person:  You are six three and 125?


Mom:  (In an exasperated voice) Yes.


Jenny Person:  I am very sorry you are at least thirty-five pounds underweight.


Mom:  Oh no, I always weigh about 118-119 and now I am 125 and I can’t get back down.


Jenny Person:  Ma’m, we can’t help you, have you considered going to an eating disorders clinic?


Mom:  No, Why?


Jenny Person:  At six foot three you should weigh at least 155.


Mom:  Oh, I’m not six foot three, but five foot three.


Jenny Person:  (Now very exasperated) Oh, we still can’t help you.


I often wonder if my mother had told them her right height at first if they would had let her come in to give them her money or if this counselor was not interested in helping a person who did not know their actual height.


My mother had the right idea.  Get help with a small problem so that it would not become a big problem.  Recently, I have had a number of friends who I consider to be in good shape ask me about how they can improve their eating.  Just because someone is on the small side does it mean they are eating what is healthy.  Eventually it all does catch up with us.


No matter how much or how little you might want to lose to get in your best shape, don’t be discouraged if the first person you ask for help turns you down.  It is harder to do it alone.  Keep looking, and keep trying.



Water, Water, Everywhere?

The other day I was talking with my friend Cliff, who has lost a significant amount of weight about what he has learned during his journey down the scale.  He told me that after reading many books on dieting the one thing he learned that made the greatest difference was about hunger and thirst.  He told me that the brain sensor for hunger is right next to the brain sensor for thirst and that most of the time our brains are not quite sure which sensor is firing so we confuse being thirsty with hunger.


Now anyone who has read anything on weight loss knows there is not a diet plan out there that does not tell you to drink at least 8 cups of water a day.  It was not just because they want you to fill up on water, but that your body needs that water to function.


The hunger/thirst sensor confusion is the real reason you need to drink water.  If your brain is getting some kind of signal that says put something in me, the first choice should always be water.  If it turns out you were just getting low on liquids and not food the water will turn the sensor off after about 15 minutes.  It is about the same amount of time it takes your body to register that you are full from eating.  It is not the amount you eat, but rather the amount of time it took you to eat.


If you keep yourself well hydrated you will at least keep your thirst signal from going off.  If you never get thirsty you can’t mistake the thirst signal as real hunger.  Make it easy to drink water, by having a big glass by your self at all times.  I happen to like really cold water with lots of crushed ice.  I know other people who like lemon or cucumber in their water.  My friend Hannah’s mom Jean likes hot water.  Makes no difference, just get water in you.


I also drink a lot of iced tea, which I am told does not fully count towards my water count, but does keep my thirst sensor off.  In order to meet my water requirements I only drink iced tea until 3:00 in the afternoon and then I switch to water.  Half a day of tea and half a day of water keeps me full up.


Next time you think you are hungry, drink first, wait fifteen minutes then decide.  You might actually be hungry, especially if you had not eaten in five or six hours, but if it was only two hours since your last meal, you are probably just thirsty.

Tight and Not The Good Kind

The sick is coming.  I knew when I woke up and my chest was tight that I did not have long.  Normally tight is something I can only aspire to and when it comes to my chest it is height I would rather have, but I digress.


Breathing is getting harder and I am hardly moving.  It is just a matter of time.  The real tale-tale sign that sickness is trying to take over my body is that I have no hunger what so ever.  I never know what that saying is, starve a cold, feed a fever or vice-a-versa, but I wish I could harness the lack of desire to eat and trot it out when I actually did not feel like a whole other me was sitting on my chest.


I am normally good at staving off full-blown illness.  I can have a down day and then wake up the next morning and feel fine so I am hoping that is how this is going to go.  But I wouldn’t mind the lack of hunger part to stay a while.  Usually for me weight I lose because I was sick is not sustaining which makes no sense to me at all.


Why if you don’t eat much for a few days when you are well and drop a pound or two you can keep it off, but when you are sick and can’t eat you still lose those same few pounds, but as soon as you are better they come right back?  There is just no good in being sick.


I do have a theory that heavier people are able to recover from sickness faster than very thin people who have no reserves to carry them through that no eating time.  Maybe that is how I am able to only be sick for a day.  There is just too much body for a virus to have to travel trough so it gets tired and gives up.  Maybe fat is a bad conduit for germs?  They get sluggish trying to trudge through that goop, unlike lean muscle, which could be just like a germ super highway through a fit body.


Since I am clearly no scientist, I will have to continue to study my own path and see what other hair-brained theories I can come up with.  Maybe my reduction of airflow will make me lightheaded so I can start hallucinating.  That could make for some really wonderful writing.


For now, I am going to have my own concoction of ginger-lime tea and try and do battle with my tightness.

Number 250



Happy bicentennial and a half to Less Dana.  This is my 250 blog posting in exactly 250 days.  It is hard to believe that I have not missed a day of writing something, not always something brilliant, funny, profound, touching, life changing, inspiring, delicious or interesting, but something everyday.  Granted there were some days during the summer when I was on a three hour delay that my posts were appearing past midnight East coast time, but in 250 days, I have made 250 posts.


Recently a friend asked if I would write something on the blog about her business.  She started the request with, “I don’t know if you have your blog planned out for the next few weeks…” I got a big laugh out of that.  I don’t have my blog planned out for the next day, let alone weeks in advance.  Sometimes something funny will happen and I will make a note of it as a potential blog idea, but for the most part I have no idea what I am going to write about when I sit down at my computer.


So many people ask me about the mechanics of the blog so I will confess it all here, now.  Usually around 3:00 in the afternoon I remember that I even write a blog and panic for a moment that I have nothing to write about.  I get my computer out consider the following things:

  1. Did anything make me mad today?  I can usually spin that into a story that I can tie to weight loss in some way.
  2. Did anything really funny happen today?  Funny writes itself and is my first choice for every blog.
  3. Did something happen that reminded me of something from my childhood?
  4. Did I cook something good and remember to take a picture of it?
  5. Did anything profound happen? Jackpot, not often.
  6. Was there something in the news that I wanted to comment on?

If none of those things gives me a start then I just start writing.  I try and not spend more than twenty minutes in front of the computer, although Russ says it sometimes takes up to an hour.  Those posts are usually the ones that involve the things from my childhood because I have to carefully edit them so as not to anger every member of my family or one of my few lasting childhood friends.


I try and keep all the posts to abut 500 words since that is all I can get out in twenty minutes and all any one of you could pay attention to day-in and day-out.  I spell check and still make many mistakes and without any editing by anyone else I post the mess I have written, mistakes and all.  Every once in a while I reread a post and think that some school I attended might want their diploma back.


About twice a day I check the stats on the blog. On an average day about a hundred different people read something on the blog and many people read a bunch of posts at one visit.   I like to see the crazy things people Google that gets them to my blog.  More people are searching for information about “thin people living longer” than almost anything else.  I often wonder if they are looking for information to the contrary to help assuage their guilt. I have had readers from 87 different countries.  Lots of those people are interested in freedom.  Those looking for freedom are probably not worried about losing weight, but about getting enough to eat.  I often hope they understand sarcasm and are not offended about some of the things I write.  I hate to cause more hatred of Americans, but I am not going to change my point of view just to be diplomatic.  Diplomacy is not something I will ever be accused of having.


On this bicentennial and a half-blog posting I can report that I have lost sixty and a half pounds.  After all that is the whole reason I am doing this.  Accountability and putting myself out there keeps me mindful even if I don’t always remember that I have a blog to write.  And now I will close with the bloggers prayer.  Please God, let something funny or profound happen to me in the next 23 hours.  I have to do this again tomorrow.



It’s All in the Jeans

When I was a kid there were two new articles of clothing that every kid I knew hated; the first was new white sneakers and the second were new pairs of jeans.  I can remember begging my mother to buy my new “school” tennis shoes a month before school started so that I could have time to get them appropriately dirty and “Not new looking.”  This concept that white, white, white sneakers were passé was something neither of my parents understood.  But new jeans were a problem for everyone.


Jeans were invented in the 1800’s for miners and railroad workers and people who needed clothes that could take a beating and not rip apart.  They stayed that way for about a hundred years.  A new pair of jeans in the sixties and early seventies was more like a weapon than an item of clothing.  They were stiff, and dark and were more like cardboard than cloth.


It took many washings and wearings to get them to perfection that is if you picked the right size to begin with.  Knowing your right jean size was a real crapshoot since they were fabricated out of unwashed denim, which would shrink between 5-10%.  Learning to judge what 7.5% shrinkage might be was a real art.


For maximum shrinkage you would use hot water and then put the jeans in the dryer until the machine practically was on fire.  The only problem is that usually you would shrink them a direction you were not looking for, like if the waist were too big you would shrink the length so you would end up with floods.  Once shrunken, you could only stretch them back out so far, and making them longer almost never worked.  Really talented new jean owners would start washing their jeans in cold water and gently drying them before trying them on to see if they had achieved the desired amount of shrinkage.  Subsequent washings would get warmer and warmer until nirvana was reached.


The other issue with new jeans was the actual amount of indigo dye still in that sturdy fabric.  You had to wash the jeans alone for the first few cycles or suffer blue underwear and socks.  That dye was powerful.  It may not have all stayed in the jeans, but once it migrated to my father’s underpants it was there to stay.


I am thankful that jeans makers finally figured out to prewash the fabric before making the jeans so that all that shrinking and dye removal was done already.  Not only does it help us to pick the correct size out, but also we can wear our new jeans out in public the day we buy them without the fear of ridicule.


It is harder to shrink your jeans, which while I am still losing weight I would like to be able to do.  I find that I need a new pair about every 12 pounds.  If I had jeans of the sixties I would barely get a pair presentable and soft enough for wearing before I would need to start on a new pair.  I don’t have time to develop a relationship with a favorite pair since jeans are coming and going on my but these days.  I am looking forward to that long-term commitment to a final pair of jeans soon.





Death to the Automatic Bread Basket

Today I met my friend Andrea for lunch at a local spot that is attached to a bakery.  I know that bread is their primary business, but I want to suggest something that many may find heresy — the death of the automatic breadbasket.


Many people have grown accustomed to getting “free bread” when they go to a restaurant that is a step or two up from fast food.  But we all know that nothing is free, especially for the restaurant serving it.  I, for one should not eat bread, so with the blessing of my dining companion, when our server brought our salads and the bread basket we sent it away before it could hit the table.  It was certainly a savings in calories to both of us. 


I got to thinking about how much bread was wasted by those who have the resolve not to eat every choice offering as well as how many unwanted calories were consumed by weak willed bread lovers.  I also considered how much of the cost of the salad I ordered did my unwanted bread represent?  I wish it were my choice whether to order bread and not automatically part of my lunch, especially a salad.


As a supporter of Food Banks the idea that bread comes to a table and then regardless if anyone even touched it must be thrown away after I leave, for sanitation purposes, makes me crazy.  If you have a restaurant, consider asking customers if they would like bread and don’t just give it to everyone robotically.  Giving people bread to eat before their meal certainly must cut in on the amount of food a customer orders that they are paying for.  I would think you are a lot more likely to sell an appetizer and heaven bless, maybe even a dessert, if people have not eaten an unlimited supply of bread.


Not being faced with warm, fresh bread and rich creamy butter helps me enjoy my meals out, lean that I can make them.  I know that many people can afford the luxury of eating bread, so by all means have it, but let’s be asked first.  Even better, don’t put the cost of the bread into my meal and if someone wants it let him or her pay for it.  Giving it for “free” cheapens its value.  The person who baked all that yummy bread should feel proud and having baskets left uneaten and then discarded would make me mad if I was that baker.

What Do You Wish You Knew Before…?

Today I went to Carter’s school for an information session about moving up to 9th grade.  How can that be?  Carter has been at her school for ten years now, which feels like both forever and no time at all.   After getting a tour of the campus by a “student ambassador” we had a panel of students answer questions about what the transition is like from middle school to high school and what they wished they had known before they got there.


I love that question, “What do you wish you had known before…?”  You fill in the blank.  There are so many things that happen in life that we all worry about, but knowing someone who has gone before you who can answer your questions can be such a comfort.


That is the whole premise behind Weight Watcher meetings.  Long before there were points, Weight Watchers worked on the notion that someone who had followed the diet and lost weight will teach you how to do it.  Having that leader who could clue you in was a major reason to keep coming.


Here are a few of the things about losing weight I wish I had known before:


  1. Everyday public people are much nicer to thin people than fat people.  This was actually a big pain in the ass the first time I lost weight and discovered that perfect strangers were much too chatty to me as a thin person than me as a fat person.  Being fat is something that, contrary to the amount of space you are taking up, makes you almost invisible.  You can get in and out of the Harris Teeter much faster if you don’t have to pretend to be interested in what the deli guy, bagger and fishmonger are all talking to you about.
  2. If you lose a good amount of weight some of it will be from your hair because your hair does getter thinner while your body does too.  The good news to know is that once you have maintained your weight for a while your hair will grow back.
  3. You need to buy new clothes, especially bras and jeans, often.  It may sound fun, but trying to find the right sizes as your body is changing is more tedious than fun.
  4. Losing weight does not solve all your other problems.  I never thought it would, but I have had more than a handful of people say something along the line of, “If only I could lose five pounds my life would be better.”  Guess what, your life will be the same; you just weigh five pounds less.
  5. Try and find a way of eating that you can live on everyday because if you aren’t going down, you might be going up.  Maintaining at a steady weight is a huge amount of work.
  6. Don’t trust the “calories burned” numbers on exercise machines or the calories listed on menus.  All calorie listings are estimates.


Don’t be afraid to try something new, be it jumping out of a plane, not something I can help you with, or learning Italian, can’t help you there either.  But find someone who has gone before you and just ask them what they wished they knew before that started.  You are more likely to set yourself out on a good path with that help.

Become Powerful

I really don’t love to work out.  I think that I am in the majority here.  If it were more fun it would not be called “working” out, but would be “playing” out.  Even though I don’t love it I do it because I know I need it.  In order to make sure I do it I have to pay someone to count for me and make sure I change up my exercises and tell me jokes and keep my mind off the pain.  For me that person is Tom Stafford at Empower Personalized Fitness.


I have known Tom and worked out with him off and on for about eight years.  I have followed him as he moved locations and changed training regimes and businesses.  Recently Tom told me some news that ruined my week, his wife’s job is transferring their family to Orlando — Too far for me to travel to work out.


This could be a big excuse to stop working out this summer when Tom moves, but I know that is the wrong answer.  I need to start figuring out who the right trainer is for me who can handle me and I won’t scare to death and I think I need to do it before Tom leaves so he can give them tips on working with me.


Turns out that Empower just did a big time expansion and is starting a bunch of group fitness classes.  I am not one for group fitness as a whole because most instructors don’t appreciate my running commentary during the class.  But I do see group fitness as a way to test out a bunch of different trainers to see if our temperaments fit together.  See finding a good trainer is very similar to picking the right dog.


Thursday night is the big Empower Casino Night Launch Party with real casino games and a chance to win free training.  Well, I am all about a game and also about free so you can bet I am going to this launch party to see what I can scoop up.  If you want to come with me I would love to have your company and maybe your chips too.  Everybody’s invited.  I hear there will be food and drink, but I need to stay away from that so I can concentrate on winning.


The party starts at 7:00 Thursday at 3211 Shannon Rd. to RSVP email  Tell them Dana sent you, or let me know you want to come with me.

I Don’t Want to Know

My favorite feature of my car is the satellite radio because I can listen to the Broadway channel all the time.  Well, not all the time, just when I am alone in the car, which really is most of the time.  There is no bad news, no teen-aged angst songs or nothing that makes me feel old.    In fact, it makes me feel young when I hear a song from the short lived “They’re playing our song,” from 1980 which I saw with my friend’s Paul, Jaleh and Mike during our Christmas break from college.


I love musicals, even though I myself am the most unmusical person on earth.  But who knows that as I am tooling down the highway singing “I’m Jean Val Jean” at the top of my lungs.


Today I heard a song from “Once” that I had never heard before called, “Be Italian.”  It was a fine song whose major message was “Live life like it’s your last day.”  I got to thinking about that advice and it really started to make me mad because it’s a terrible recommendation.  Maybe it’s Italian, but I’ not sure.


If I were to live everyday like it was my last I would be eating whatever I wanted.  We all know that does not work out well for me.  I think I would be really angry after having between 6-9 different cheeses half of them in some melted format, a loaf of spectacular bread, a caramel fudge sea salt brownie sundae, some pasta (see I’m thinking Italian now) and a few cheddar bay biscuits from Red Lobster and I woke up the next day alive.  It would take me at least a month of strict arugula eating to make up for that “last day on earth” gluttony.


If I thought today was my last day I don’t think I would volunteer to help anyone run their non-profit better or bother to answer anyone’s questions.  I would not do the laundry or take the trash out.  I would just want to sit around with my friends and talk about how much fun we have had and cry and laugh.


Chances are it would not be my last day and then I would wake up mad that I missed the trash pick-up, had no clean underwear or missed an opportunity to make the world a better place.


I think it is counsel to say, “Live like you are going to live for another 100 years.”  If that were the case I would do a better job at improving the world.  My recycling would be spot on, not a toilet paper tube or old magazine would ever make it into the trash.  I would be a nicer person if I thought I was going to have to spend the next 100 years with all you people.  If it were my last day I might actually tell someone what a fool they are.


I am happy to not know when my last day is going to be.  I hope I never do know.  I think my best plan is to just keep doing what is best for me in case I’m sticking around.  No wild and crazy last hurrahs, but I really would love one biscuit sometime close to the end.

User Name and Password Hell

The beginning of January is the super bowl of dieting informatics.  I must have gotten over 100 emails from different weight loss and health related companies about joining them in the last week.  I am wondering if even very thin people are getting these too?


There is hardly any new information about dieting that I don’t already know from my years of intensive study.  (Note here, knowing it and following it are two different things.)  Every once in a while a new study or discovered product comes out and in a moment, a very fleeting moment, I am hopeful that there might be an easier way.


Late one night this past week I was tempted by a heath newsletter to sign up for their free monthly information.  I started to fill out the required information when I got to the user name and password section.  There was a note in ALL CAPS that read, “For your own protection, use a different user name and password for every website and change your password monthly.”


WHAT THE HEdouble hockey sticks!!  I just wanted to get a newsletter.  I was not supplying any financial information or personal stuff, like my weight!  Why in the world did I need a user name?  I was not really a user, but a reader and what was the password for to begin with?


I shook my head and like in cartoons of the sixties, little blue birds flew around the crown of my head and my eyes changed from “x’s” to regular eyeballs.  I came to my senses and realized that these people were not going to have any new news for me and I did not need their stinkin’ newsletter after all.


The advice about using a different user name and changing my passwords got me thinking about all the hours I have spent trying to remember my user name or password for all the thousands of sites that require them.  I can only imagine what would happen if I started changing them every month.


The answer could be that I could keep a log of them all, but not on my computer where a hacker could gain control of every newsletter and website I belong to.  I could have a little black book, but my office is currently more like a black hole so that too could be a disaster.


Life was so much easier when we were all only known as the name we were given at birth or married into.  No passwords were required to live.  In this personalized, must be signed-up for everything world it is time that we had the retinal scanner technology as our user name and password, or voice recognition, or thumbprint id.  Whatever it is it has to not involve me needing to create, remember or change any of my identification information.  I’m not that old and I already have trouble keeping this all straight.  It is just too bad that remembering passwords does not use more calories than forgetting them.  At least then I would have an inc

Cauliflower Soup



For the first time I have grown Cauliflower in my winter garden.  For the longest time I had beautiful plants, but no heads of cauliflower.  Being a novice at winter gardening I just thought I had missed the window of opportunity until one day I saw these beautiful white brain like bulbs sprouting under the big green leaves.  I waited and watched and decided that one was big enough for me to cut.


Since most people who live in my house hate cauliflower I decided to make soup, which I can get them to taste and love before I disclose the main ingredient — As long as they try it before reading the blog.


This can be made vegan by substituting vegetable stock for my chicken stock.  I used raw cashews as a surprise flavor.  You can you roasted if you want, but I was using up what I had.  If you want you could also substitute Parmesan cheese for the cashews.


1 head of cauliflower – broken up

1 large yellow onion – diced

1 small Yukon gold potato – peeled and cut in quarters

5 cups of chicken stock

¼ c. of ground raw cashews- I ran them in the food processor to grind them

Salt and pepper depending on how salty your stock is


Spray a soup pot with Pam and set on medium heat.  Add the onion to the pot and cook until the onion is wilted about 5 minutes.  Add the cauliflower, potato and the stock.  Cover and bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes until the cauliflower is soft.  Take the pot off the heat and using an immersion blender puree the soup.  Add the groundnuts.  Taste and correct for salt and pepper.

January Doldrums

It had to happen and this year I am later than usual, but Christmas has to start to come down at my house.  It’s a big job to dismantle the glitter, the sparkle and shine, the bows and the garland, the wreaths and the lights.  I started with the house decorations, as opposed to the tree since Carter told me not to go up the ladder when no one else was home to call 911 in case I fall as I use the kitchen tongs to reach the ornaments at the fourteen-foot level.


I went to the attic this morning and began bringing down the battalion of plastic crates that make up my Christmas storage brigade.  I had Russ purchase five new tubs to store my new decoration of 2012, a snow village under glass that filled my living room coffee table.  It was the first thing to be packed with five old towels I assigned to the duty of protecting my fragile creations.


Taking Christmas down is depressing.  There are no carols cheerily playing throughout the house like when the decorations go up.  There is no anticipation of parties to come and friends to share in the splash of Christmas decorations.  The house begins to look bare without boxwoods and holly covering the mantle.  All the marks of the walls and scuffs on the floors show and I have that feeling like I need to redecorate and spruce things up, but just don’t have the energy to do it.


I know that the days are getting longer, Big Weather told me so this morning on the news, the sun was rising one minute earlier today.  One minute more of sunlight is not enough to overcome the sadness of January 5th.


It will take me another day to get everything done and Russ and Carter will have to carry all the crates back to the attic.  Russ and I will do our best to stay married as we disassemble the tree and stuff it in the seven grand piano sized bags it lives in during its off-season.


It is easy to see why people gain weight in the winter.  What is there to brighten our spirits when the house is less glittery and the darkness takes over the house at 4:00?  People are holed-up in their homes having been partied out by the holiday season, but this is exactly when we all need to go out and be together to keep our minds off the dullness at home.


So this afternoon I am going to stop all this packing and cleaning and am going to go watch not just the 8th grade girls basketball game, but the boys too!  Why not?  Being with friends and cheering on kids is the best way to stave-off post holiday blues.  Sweeping up crystal snow can wait.

The Yearly Weight-Loss Allotment

So far I really like 2013.  Not that I have done anything really exciting for the whole three days.  I did have lunch with my friend Barbara today, that was fun, but here are the other things I have done in 2013:


Still cleaning out closets and four rooms so we can rearrange where Carter lives and Russ works in our house.  That has been the majority of time.  I was very thankful that the trash and recycling got picked up yesterday and I have already refilled them.


I have done six loads of laundry.


I helped Russ get his office ready for a big meeting he has today and tomorrow.  I baked carrot muffins and make fruit platters.  I shopped for drinks, new dishes and coffee makers.  I organized the lunch they served today, met the caterers and enlisted the wonderful help of Cliff to run get the ice I forgot.


I cleaned the rugs where Shay-shay got sick.


I drove Carter to Dover Saddlery to spend her Christmas gift cards.


I cooked, cleaned, emptied the dishwasher, needle pointed, paid bills, and went to Costco.


Why the hell do I like 2013 so much?  I got on the scale this morning and I was one pound below by low weight of 2012.  Not only was I one pound below my low I was four pounds below my Christmas day weight.  After losing 53 pounds in a little less than six months I had only lost 3 in the months of November and December combined.  I really did not change my eating in those months, save three days that I gave myself to celebrate.  But I just was not losing.  Sad, sad.


But come a new year and I am dropping weight again.  I think that maybe there is some cosmic thing that says you are only allowed to lose so much weight in any given calendar year, and it gets to be a smaller number every year.  I think that my number was 56 pounds and once I lost that much I was capped.


As soon as the year turned it has started coming off again.  Hooray for a new year.  Even if my new number is five pounds less than last year I am fine because I don’t want to lose that much weight this year because I would still actually like to be alive.


I am setting a new public goal of losing eleven pounds by Spring Break, the second week of March.  I do much better if I do something publically and declarative.  So there it is.  My trainer Tom told me I better do a ton of cardio to reach that goal.  Good thing I have at least 68 trips to the attic planned for the next three days.  I am thinking of taking up wood chopping just for the exercise.  I hope that 2013 continues on this positive, or in my case, negative path.

New and Improved?

I hate to be the one that breaks this to you, but all the new stuff you got for Christmas, some of which you have not even used yet, is passé and out of date.  That is according to the horde of catalogs that came in the mail the last two days.  Marketers have learned that in order to sell more stuff they need to entice us with “new & improved,” or even better, “new and exclusive” stuff.


January is officially the month of improvement.  No one makes a New Year resolution to make something just the same or worse, where’s the resolution in that?  Everybody starts January out trying to do something or everything better.  Consequently, January is the best month to come out with the upgraded and refined versions of things.  If you can tie those new things to another way someone can improve them selves then January is the month you hit the jackpot for selling stuff.


For instance, Williams-Sonoma sent me a “Fresh Start 2013” catalog that featured a “New and Exclusive “ Cuisinart electric yogurt maker in it for the bargain price of $129.00.  January is the best time to push these machines because most people think that making their own yogurt is a great idea when they are thinking about losing weight.  That is until they try and make it from fat free milk and discover they hate the taste of the yogurt they make them selves and go back to buying it at the store.  The yogurt maker goes to the appliance dungeon with the juicer, tabletop fryer and chocolate fountain.  (Not all bad appliance decisions were healthy ones.)  If you really want to try and make your own yogurt you only need a saucepan, a thermometer and some other yogurt as a starter.


The King Arthur Flour catalog today had an item that is a best seller at $147.95 which I find amazing; a collapsible bread proofing box which can also be used not only for dough, but wait for it… yogurt too.  I just put my bread dough in a bowl covered with a tea towel and put it in the microwave that is off.  Amazingly that box of a microwave has no trouble remaining a constant temperature and dough rises perfectly.  I just saved myself $147.95.  I guess it being collapsible is a bonus when moving it to the appliance graveyard so it takes up less space.


My favorite tread in the new and improved category is the explosion of salts.  I am not talking bath salts or Morton’s salt, but the “Rare Gourmet Sea Salts” advertised in the Chefs tool catalog.  The most expensive is Murray River, which is described as “delicate flaky texture, which melts quickly and evenly, the perfect finishing salt.”  At over $5.33 cents an ounce I would like it to stick around for a while.  In case you are unfamiliar with how much regular salt costs, an ounce of Morton’s salt is 5 cents.  Murray river is 10,660% more per ounce before shipping and I have to tell you that salt is fairly similar.


Sometimes new and improved just isn’t.  Take High Protein Special K, which has been my breakfast of choice for at least seven years.  Without increasing the amount of protein per serving those pesky people at Kellogg’s changed the taste and it in no way resembles the old cereal and tastes much worse.  Why improve something without actually making it better?


My suggestion is that if you want to improve something in January try your attitude, outlook or temperament, they are all free and never have to be moved to the graveyard.

The Best Free Workout Ever

We have lived in our house for almost nineteen years.  We first bought our little three level house when Russ was in business school and we only had a dog and three cats.  I knew after about four weeks of moving to Durham that I wanted to stay here so I told Russ that I did not care what he did for a living, but let’s find a way to stay settled and not do the corporate moving around thing.

After Russ graduated we decided we really liked not only our house, but also our yard and our neighborhood.  So in the planning-for-the-future-way-we-are we decided we needed a bigger house for the children we were yet to have.  We added two more levels, not up, just out, with two more bedrooms a bath and a playroom onto the house.  It was like adding a piggly wiggly house onto our piggly wiggly house.

Eventually Carter came along and we put her in the bedroom right across the hall from ours.  We waited a while and no other children appeared.  Not for a lack of trying, but then we got to that point where we realized that Carter was a fairly good kid and we knew the odds of matching her quality were not in our favor.  We also knew that we were too old to have three or four children so we could not average out the good kids with the more difficult ones.  So we settled on an only child family.

The new bedroom section of the house, lacking children, had become known as the lair.  It was the place Russ would go when he could not sleep or had to get up at four in the morning to catch a flight.  He also had a really nice office down in the lair, which was more important before he got his big offices downtown.  Eventually all three of the giant lair closets filled up with stuff we thought was too important to go to the attic, but not important enough to actually use, things like the G scale train set that gets put up around the Christmas tree about every third year, or Russ’ old custom made suits with pleated pants that have waists that are four inches too big for him now.  But the lair is in a part of our house most people do not even know exists so that sort of clutter mattered little.

Carter turned fourteen before Christmas and finally asked us if she could move down to the lair so she could have a bathroom en-suite and a separate study room from her sleeping room.  So that is what she got for Christmas.  Russ was losing his lair and I was the one who had to make it all happen.

This is where the free workout happens.  I have spent everyday since Christmas cleaning out closets and rearranging half our house and it is barley one third done and not a stick of furniture has been moved yet.  It started with the coat closet in the lair entry that was full of old toys, work files, boxes, light bulbs and vases, those things naturally go together don’t they? Then I had to clean out a giant cabinet in the garage.  What does the garage have to do with it you wonder?  I had to make a place to be my new gift-wrapping station that had previously been in Russ’ office closet.  Moving the gift-wrapping stuff meant things had to be carried up a level through the kitchen and down a level to the garage.

Once that was settled I was able to clean out the closet in Carter’s new sleeping room by moving Russ’ old suits to the coat closet in the hall and the large collection of old quilts, feather beds and pillows into three giant chests I bought at Target and put in the attic.  That move entailed going up three levels and around half the house.

Carter finally got in the act moving all her clothes from her old bedroom down three levels across the whole house and into her new closet.  I began to tackle the large collections of books in both the lair bedroom and the office and realized that they needed to go to the shelves in the playroom which were currently full of a college tuition’s worth of American Girl Dolls, their horses, sleighs, carriages, beds, dressers, tables, chairs and trunks and trunks of clothes.

Carter was quick to say she did not need those accessible anymore, so more trunks from Target later and a three level change move our attic now has a full American Girl store displayed in one corner.  At last the books could be moved up two levels.

I also moved all of Carter’s childhood books up to the attic along with her horse figures and swim trophies.  While in the attic I found old lamp shades to bring down with me to throw away and half a life time’s worth of Gourmet Magazines which have been identified for movement somewhere out of the house.

I estimate that I am about one third through this reorganization of just three rooms in our house and it has involved carrying over 134 loads of stuff up and or down at least two stairways and about 25% of it carried up the attic ladder-steps.  Over 23,000 steps have been taken carrying at least twenty pounds.  This does not include the steps used on trips to Target and the ballet of maneuvering coffin-sized plastic trunks through the aisles on a busy shopping day.

All this is being done in a house where you cannot look without seeing a full on Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas window amount of decoration that needs to be taken down and put away before Martin Luther King’s birthday.

So if you don’t see me for a while, stop by the house and make sure that I have not been crushed by the stacks of old clothes Carter has determined are ready to move on or the Betsy McCall fashion designing light up desk that needs to be e-bayed.  I am undaunted by this project because it all counts as more exercise than I could get in a week at a boot-camp type spa and when it get’s done I will feel like I’ve got a new house.