No More Stuff

No More Stuff


When I was young, like in the single digits young I really liked stuff.  I liked collecting stuff, buying stuff, and being given stuff.  My accumulating period lasted a long time, probably until I was about 40.  Then suddenly I looked around and I had more stuff than I needed.  My house was full, my garage was full, and my attic was definitely overly full.  I went from wanting to get stuff to never wanting any more stuff ever again.  I reached my tipping point.


Now I am anti-stuff.  I don’t want people to bring me anything or give me any gifts, except needlepoint gift certificates because that is about making treasured Christmas ornaments, which are certainly not stuff.  When I finished decorating the tree today Carter came up and announced it was “beautiful.”  I asked her if she minded all the Christmas being out now and she said no, since she did not have to do any of the work.


With all the Fa-la-la-la-la surrounding us she wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas.  “No stuff,” I declared.  “I don’t like stuff.”  “Well, Mom, what about all these Christmas Decorations?”  I tried to make the distinction but she countered me with the “It has matter so it’s stuff” argument.  A science minded child has me there.


So now I must be more precise in my language.  There are very few things in the universe I want and if I really wanted them I will buy them.  If I don’t know they exist then I will never want them. But most everything I don’t want and I don’t want the burden of having it.  I am overrun with the stuff I thought I wanted but found out I did not really need until after I owned it.


My problem is now that I am anti-more I have become bad at finding gifts for those who really want, need or deserve something.  Nothing fits better than cash, but it does seem lazy and impersonal.  It is fine to give to people who really need money, but going to a friend’s house for dinner and giving them a twenty-dollar bill might be considered tacky.  But why?  Is showing up with a twenty-dollar candle really better?


I hate to fall prey to the gift card cop-out, but the more I think about it the more right it sounds.  For those people who might take offense to the cash option a well thought out gift card to a place I know they already love and frequent may be the answer.  Whole Foods, Starbucks and I-tunes here I come.   That way if they don’t want more stuff either they can just get something consumable and for one brief moment they can think kindly about me rather than curse me years later for adding to all their stuff.

It’s Not Black Friday at Our House



The only good news about not being at the farm for Thanksgiving is that I was able to spend today getting Christmas thrown up at my house today.  It actually is a great thing since the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a week shorter this year.


I’m a Christmas nut.  All the public rooms of our house get decorated.  Every year I add something major to the decorating.  I spent the whole year making needlepoint Christmas ornaments.  My goal was to make a dozen.  I slightly exceeded my own self-imposed target by just a little.  When the last of them get back from the fabricator I will have made 32, only a 266% increase.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you I am not an over achiever.  Let’s not talk about what I did not get done this year because I was needle pointing.


Since I have a fourteen foot Christmas tree with ornaments in the multi thousands I decided that my needlepoint needed it’s own tree.  The problem is that I really do not have a place for another tree.  So I decided to run garland around the entrance to the living room and hang the needlepoint there.  I like it, but I certainly have a lot more space to fill since I did garland on both sides of the entrance.  I guess that I need to keep up my stitching pace if I am going to be satisfied with that décor next Christmas.


Russ felt well enough today to help take the boxes and the tree out of the attic.  I have created a child who says she hates Christmas because she dislikes helping get all the decorations out of its off-season storage.  Not that she has to do any of the decorating work with the exception of helping put the tree together.  Yes, we have an artificial tree.   It became mandatory when our real fourteen-foot tree fell over one year and crushed many of my beloved ornaments.


I stayed holed up in my sweats hanging stockings and creating Christmas villages under glass.  The tree is up with all its 30,000 lights and the red cranberry garland.  Tomorrow I will decorate the tree and the house will be done.  It was no black Friday for me.  It is red and green Friday at our house!

Be Thankful For Your Health



As far as I am concerned Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving has nothing on us.  Last week my mother called me and told me she was canceling Thanksgiving.  Those were her exact words, “I’m canceling Thanksgiving.”  I asked her if she had the power to do that, cancel Thanksgiving as an actual event, and she said that she was canceling having people to her house for Thanksgiving.


See my Dad had been sick for the two previous weeks and since he is the cook in the house my mother feared that he might still be sick on Thanksgiving and then what would happen.  Turns out my poor father had C.Diff a very strong bacterial bug that wrecks your digestive system.


The day my mother changed our long standing trip to the farm for turkey day and the day after farm frolicking with friends I was up to my eye balls with meetings.  I could not handle the thought of cooking Thanksgiving for three of us so I called out club and made reservations.  That night my mother called back and said she thought she could come to our house for Thanksgiving.   I added another place at our reservation.


Telling Russ and Carter we were going to eat Thanksgiving out was met with huge despair.  “What, no leftovers,” they said practically in unison.  “Fine,” I replied,  “I will also cook some “leftovers.”


The next day my mother e-mailed and said my father was feeling better and might be able to also come for Thanksgiving.  Another call to the club to add one more.  I did not consider broaching the subject of my bringing the whole Thanksgiving meal to the farm and just going ahead and uncanceling our regular tradition.  Two days later another e-mail – Dad’s still not good, he won’t be coming.


So yesterday I brined a turkey breast, made stewed tomatoes and this morning I made stuffing and a pecan pie.  Most of these things I am trying to avoid.  As I was finishing up my leftover cooking the phone rang.  It was my mother calling.  “I can’t come to Thanksgiving.  I have the same thing your father has.”  Now I have reservations for five and a whole extra Thanksgiving cooked in the kitchen and two regular eaters and me who really should only have a little turkey and tomatoes.


I was just heading upstairs to change into go out to “dinner” clothes for a 1:00 reservation and the doorbell rings.  Who comes to your house unannounced on Thanksgiving?  It was my Dad who had come for Thanksgiving.  Not only was he much better, but also my mother never told him we were going to have lunch at the club and he was not dressed in his “go to his daughter’s club” attire.  You can tell how communication goes in my family.


We all were thankful for his recovery and being there and said clothes made no difference on Thanksgiving.  While we were at lunch I saw my friend Amanda who had just finished getting her house painted and had a totally empty kitchen.  They came to the club for Thanksgiving but she forgot that her husband Scott and teenage son Evan might need to eat tonight.  Since I had spent the whole day cooking Thanksgiving to eat as leftovers I invited them over for dinner.  So after lunch I made some fresh cranberry relish, a pork tenderloin and some Brussels sprouts and Russ announces that his three week long headache has not reached a debilitating level and he took to the bed for relief.


Our friends came and Carter and I shared our dinner with them, which was a real bright spot in this Thanksgiving.  I hope that my mother recovers quickly and that Russ can shake this headache.  Right now I am thankful we are not in the emergency room and I am praying that tomorrow is a better day.


I hope that you and yours enjoyed a day full of family, food and laughter and the fighting and grudges were kept to a minimum.  We all have so much to be thankful for and I will not take lightly when someone says they are thankful for their health.



The Tighter The Better



Sometime this week while I was getting dressed the TV was on and I saw a segment on some morning show talking about what women should wear to Thanksgiving dinner.  It was not really a fashion segment as much as it was a comfort segment.


The TV hosts was promoting the wearing of clothes that give and stretch so that the woman could eat as much as possible and not feel like a sausage in too tight a casing.  Jeans, belts, tights and of course Spanx were declared Turkey day no-no’s.  Leggings, empire waist dresses and flowy maxi dresses made the what-to-wear list.


I am sorry I do not have a TV show to counter the shows opinion.  At least I have this blog.  Thanksgiving has the potential to be the most gluttonous day of an already eat-big American mentality.  Sure it is a day steeped in food tradition.  Yes, I do begin to crave Thanksgiving staples of stuffing and pecan pie a month before the holiday, but we don’t need to eat so much that our regular clothes might prevent us from enjoying our meal.


I say wear the tight clothes, the belt, the shape wear.  Be reminded by something that you don’t need to go back to the buffet a second or third time.  One visit with one plate of all the foods you love should suffice.  One dessert, or maybe two bites of two different pies is plenty.  Once you have had a taste, over doing it will not make it taste better.


If you wear a muumuu, perhaps without any underpants then nothing is going to trigger the its-time-to-stop-eating uncomfortable feeling until you have distended your stomach to dangerous levels.


I say wear the tight clothes to Thanksgiving.  A big belt you can’t loosen is a good idea.  Spanx, perhaps even the full body shaper is a definite yes on the day devoted to eating.  Being a little confined could easily cut your calorie consumption in half.  Yes it could be painful at the table, but better that tightness for a few hours and prevent all your regular clothes being too tight the whole month of December from the weight you gained at one Thanksgiving meal.


I’m actually considering not just wearing tight clothes but also some hobbling device, which would prevent me from being able to get up and walk back to the serving table.  I figure with enough painful contraptions as I can make I might create some physiological dislike for Turkey day food.

A Life Without Left Hand Turns



Carter is fast approaching her fifteenth birthday.  For her that means she gets to take her learners permit test and begin practice driving.  For me it means I get to spend the next year nervously in the passenger seat.  Carter is a good driver, lord she should be she has been driving at the farm since she was six or seven when she was the size of a small adult and could reach the peddles.  But driving on your own property, in fact in vast open spaces, without other crazy drivers coming at you is easy.


As I was driving my regular route to Carter’s school this afternoon to pick her and her friend Paloma up to go to the movies I thought about the traffic I was encountering.  There is one terrible intersection where I have to make a left hand turn and every other car at the intersection has the right away over me and the traffic is never ending.  Making a left hand turn without the aid of a traffic light is a real test in my patience.


I counted how many left hand turns I had to make on the quick nine-minute trip to school — In total there were six.  Now the way I go is not the only possibility, but it certainly is the fastest if you can skillfully make all those left hand turns between speeding cars whizzing past you.  Thinking about a new driver, even a good one, having to negotiate those left turns began to make me nervous.


Come the first few weeks of driving I think we will go the less perilous longer routes until Carter can gain the confidence needed.  But as soon as I’m comfortable I want her to practice as many left hand traffic filled turns as she can while I am still in the passenger seat for guidance.


Sure a parent can try and smooth things out for their teenager by always finding the all right hand turn ways to go, but at some point life is going to throw you a left hand turn.  Better to learn how to handle yourself in difficult situations and practice over and over again so it just does not become such a big deal.  This is all easy for me to say now when I still have ten days before the actual driving starts.  I wonder what other life lesson situations I can throw Carter into while she is still living at home?

Putting It Out There and Getting It Back



For a couple of weeks I was not as fully committed to healthy eating as I needed to be.  It started with our trip to the Caribbean for a wedding where I just ate whatever I wanted.  The following two weeks from that were none too good either and before I knew it I had gained a few pounds.


Last week, knowing I had to get back in the saddle big time I blogged that I was sick of my salad life.  Many of you good readers came to my rescue with recipes and advice.  One regular reader even volunteered that soup was her key and said she would bring me some when she made her next batch.


Just the kind words of encouragement seemed to kick start me back into place.  I found a happy place with my salad lunch and started having soup for dinner.  This all did the trick and I have lost all the naughty weight I gained on my hiatus.


Today I got a surprise visit from Debbie, my neighbor and soup volunteer with not one but two containers of different soups and the recipes.  Now lots of people talk a great game, especially in the blog world, but few actually follow up and bring you the goods.  I am incredibly touched by her generosity.  She said she read the blog every night so I know she will see my thanks here.


I believe in putting out into the world what you want to happen.  It does not always occur right away or in the format you had expected but sharing your burdens, as long as you are not whinny, helps somehow.  When I wrote I was sick of salad, which was code for I’ve fallen off the wagon, somehow magically the next day I was not only back on the wagon, but I was back to losing weight at a rate I had not seen in months.


So what do you want?  Scream it out to the world, but be ready to listen.  There are only so many different problems that we all face and most certainly you have a friend who has overcome the issue you are dealing with.  Why cope with something alone?  Ask for help, advice, prayers or just a kind ear.


Don’t be sucked into some crazy social media idea that you need to only project some perfect imagine.  Asking for help is the start on a path to improvement.  I know I don’t say it enough to all you wonderful people who comment on the blog, but you keep me going everyday.  Thanks for all your kind words, your great advice, even your snarky comments.  I put it all out there in the world and I am appreciative of what I hear back.

Best Time is Around the Table



Last night was Carter’s first high school formal.  Of course I would be the worst mother on earth if I actually revealed any of the details, not that I actually know any. But what was reported to me is that the dinner beforehand was the most fun part.  I think that was because a group of Carter’s friends all went to dinner together and discovered the fun of spending time around a big round table talking and enjoying a meal together.


The parents had all gathered to drop the kids off at the same time to get pictures of the exchanging of flowers.  The kids went into dinner some of the parents came back to our house to have chili and salad.  Many did not know each other and it was a nice way for them to meet.  At the appointed time a few parents went back to pick the kids up to drive them to the dance.


The after dinner mood was jovial and relaxed, a good sign for a group of ninth graders.  While we waited for the cars to pull up the kids asked me to take a few more photos.  I think that if the formal had just continued in parking lot everyone would have thought it was a successful night.


When I asked the young man who rode in my car how dinner was he said great, but he did not get dessert and was wondering if there would be dessert at the dance.  I am sure there is never enough food for a fourteen-year-old boy.


To me sitting around a dining room table is the best place to really get to know people.  It is more than a meal.  It is better than a buffet where people can sit randomly.  I feel like conversation at the table flows more easily and everyone is at the same eye level.


People don’t have dinner parties the way they used to which is a sad thing to me.  It is really not as much about the food, but about the company.  Russ and I often say we need to have more dinner parties and we get into a little rush of throwing them and then life gets in the way and we let off the dinner party peddle.


Now I think I need to throw a couple dinner parties for Carter and her friends.  Dances are fun, but I think that young adults sitting around the table together is the best way to grow up.  I hope that you and yours will enjoy some quality time around a few tables in the next week.

This Old Broad



When I first met my husband he had recently bought his first house, an eighty-year-old four square.  Russ came from a family of devoted This Old House (TOH) watchers and he turned me on to watching the famous PBS fixer upper show as we worked together on his old house.  In our twenty-two years together we have seen every episode, most multiple times.


I think Bob Vila was the original host, and then came Steve Thomas and now it is Kevin O’Conner, although the hosts have changed the subject matter experts have not.  Norm the carpenter, Tom the builder, Richard the plumber and Roger the landscaper are the guys who really explain how to fix things and consequently I have acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of home keeping and repair.


Much to Russ’ happiness the success of This Old House spawned a new series Ask This Old House so we get a whole hour of home improvement education every weekend.


I realized as I was watching the crew of old house experts that I was wishing their was a This Old Broad show where trusted experts in skin care, hair, sleep and all things pertaining to the aging female existed.  Just like on TOH the TOB crew could take a once classic woman who have gotten a little rough around the edges and spend an entire television season improving her.


Viewers could learn how to tone sagging arms or bring back the rose to now dry cheeks.  The best techniques in improving old teeth or dull hair could be tried.  More than a one-day makeover the show could follow the Old Broad over weeks and weeks and see what is possible when exercising continually or changing your diet.


Like the different types of architecture addressed on TOH, TOB could feature women with different issues, like someone who discovers they are diabetic, or has celiac disease.  If there are any TV producers liking this idea I am willing to be the very first guinea pig for this series.  I’ve always been a broad, but I’m willing to fight off becoming an old broad.

Eaters Glasses


We’ve all heard the saying, “My eyes are bigger than my stomach,” to describe when someone puts more food on their plate than they can eat.  Thanksgiving is the poster holiday for this syndrome.  A person who says this is actually fairly in touch with their stomach because at least they recognized that their stomach was full before their plate was empty.


I am not one of those people.  If food is on my plate I almost certainly will eat it no matter how full my stomach is.  No wonder I have to work on my weight everyday.  I have never been one of those women who puts a teaspoonful of food on my plate and can eat tiny bird like bites making it last through the whole meal and still leave something on my plate.  Volume is more my plate’s theme.


I don’t know what all the psychology is behind this but I like a full plate.  I have gone to using the smallest plates I can find.  Carter has a really nice play tea set from when she was a baby and I think I should pull that out to eat off daily.


A few years ago I developed the aging eye problem of being unable to read normal text and had to start wearing “readers”.  Gradually, I have gotten stronger and stronger pairs and have to have one with me at all time to do almost anything.  The best part about readers is that if I wear them when I’m eating my food looks bigger.


Maybe I can invent some “eaters glasses” that virtually quadruple the look of the food on my plate so my mind thinks I am getting a lot to eat.  I could wear them when I go through a buffet line so I actually only put a little food on the plate.  I am sure I am not the only person whose “stomach is bigger than their eyes.”  Certainly the waistlines I see walking around the mall tell me that.


These “eaters glasses” could help solve the American obesity problem.  Restaurants that pride themselves on giving giant portions like The Cheesecake Factory could hand them out to all their diners and then just serve regular portions.  Everyone would think they are getting enough food to sustain themselves for a week when in reality it could just be one meal’s worth.


Since I am a volume eater I have cut out eating many beloved foods like pasta or rice because I am not good at eating a little of it.  I fill my plate up with salad or broccoli just so my eyes are going to know I had a lot, which makes my stomach happy.  But if I had the “eaters glasses” I might be able to eat a greater variety of food in much much smaller portions and still keep my mind and stomach happy.


So if you see me at a meal with what looks like coke bottle glasses on I probably have not gone practically blind, but I am just testing out my new invention.  If this does not work I think I may try some invention, which limits how widely I can open my mouth thus limiting how big a bite I can take.

The Skinny Turkey Syndrome

The other day I heard a news bulletin that the turkey producer Butterball put out saying that there was a serious shortage of big fresh turkeys this year. When Butterball says big they are talking about the ever popular 20 pound plus birds that are capable of feeding all the family around the dining room table and the ones at the kids table too.

This shortage was apparently not due to poor planning on the turkey producers part, but on some strange dieting affliction the turkeys took on, perhaps in the hopes of saving their lives. That’s right, anorexia has come to the poultry house. Turkeys whose only job it was to eat and get fat found something else to do.

Maybe one enterprising bird developed Zumba for T-birds and had the whole rafter of turkeys (that’s what a group of domesticated turkeys are called) dancing the pounds away. I think that good farmers do play music in their poultry houses just to keep birds happy because we all know that happy birds taste better. Perhaps there was a little to much hip hop wafting through the rafters and got the birds to dancing rather than eating.

I doubt that turkeys had figured out that the fat birds all disappeared when they got to a certain size so if they just stayed skinny they could save themselves to live another day. Whatever the reason, turkeys have learned to diet.

The good news from Butterball was that they had plenty of giant frozen birds available. Perhaps this “news” story was all a ploy to get rid of frozen turkey inventory. Butterball was giving the turkey buying public enough notice that they could have time to buy a frozen bird and thaw it in time for Thanksgiving. For me it is not the timing issue, but do I have enough room in my freezer or refrigerator just to hold said giant bird. I need more notice to find a way to get rid of all the food already in the freezer.

Whatever the reason for the big turkey shortage I would like to get to the bottom of how turkey’s have turned into successful dieters so I could incorporate their weightloss plan for myself. I am always looking for ways to change up my program and get those last pounds off. I guess I just need to go in search of those newly svelte birds. It seems like People, oh I mean, Poultry Magazine could do a cover story on this. Nothing sells magazines like a great before and after picture.

If you were planning on getting a big fresh turkey at the last minute let this be your warning, you might have to settle for two skinny birds. Let’s pray that breast reductions are not what’s next in turkey fashion.

The Kitchen is Too Clean to Cook

I’m not one of those wives who hates to cook. I love to create mostly because I like to eat. I am also a clean as I cook type. I can’t stand to share a kitchen with someone who uses every pot and stacks the dirty ones in the sink to wash after all the cooking is done. I especially like to clean the counters as I go.

I am lucky enough to have a wonderful housekeeper, Blanca who cleans my kitchen once a week like I am going to preform surgery in it. She moves every item on all the counters and washes everything three times including the floor. Blanca has been coming to my house on Tuesdays for as long as I can remember.

Since her cleaning visits are like clock work and I do love a clean kitchen you would think I would do all my serious cooking on Sunday and Monday. If I was smart enough to do that we could just eat leftovers for a couple of days right after Blanca cleaned, thus preserving the kitchen’s pristine condition. But sadly, I am not that smart. I rarely plan meals very far in advance even though I always cook too much when I do cook.

It never fails that I run out of my staple item, pan sautéed boneless skinless chicken thighs the very moment Blanca has finished cleaning the kitchen. There is hardly a messier item that I cook regularly than chicken thighs, with whatever fat is still left on them spattering all over the stove, the floor and somehow getting airborne and depositing on all surfaces of the kitchen. Now before you email me about spatter guards and the like, they don’t help, I’ve tried.

So now the kitchen is too clean to cook in. That could go multiple ways. I could chose not to eat at all. Not much chance. I could get take out. Not too good for us. We could go out to eat, not much time with homework and the like. We could scrounge up whatever leftover are in my fridge. A good possibility , but everyone may have to eat different food. The real danger in not cooking is that I might be tempted to eat something more fattening than I should . If I preplan and prepare in advance when I am not already hungry I make better choices.

So to solve the I-want-to-preserve-the-really-clean-kitchen-as-long-as-possible dilemma I need to plan days in advance and cook on the weekends. Do you think it is too late to turn into someone who eats to live?

I’m Sick of Salad

I forgot I write a blog today. I forgot I am still many pounds away from my goal. I remembered that I had to walk 10,000 steps and I still have four hundred to go, but I have to write my blog so I am sitting. When lunch time came around I could not face another salad. At dinner the same revolt happened in the salad column.

Sometimes you just need a break. But a break in healthy eating is a very slippery slope. I have been here before. Doing great one day and despite two years of good habits they can disappear in the blink of an eye.

I need a new gimmick. I am bored with the status quo and have no where better to go so if I am not careful I could go to the dark side. I need anyone who has a good idea or words of encouragement or a kick in the pants to give it to me now.

Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be thin. Tomorrow I go and see my trainer, a good way to start the day, but it is not the morning I need help with. I need a new salad. I need to not learn not to love food. Ok that is never going to happen. I know I need something and that I am not giving up. I’m getting up now and getting my steps in. I promise tomorrow I will remember I write a blog and do a little better than I’ve done today.

Being Right is Not Always Nice

This morning a service man came to my house to do some work. As happens to all visitors at my house Shay Shay was right there at the front door to greet him. As she did her poorly-trained dog routine of jumping up on him to say Hi the tech said, “no problem, I love dogs.”

That was no excuse for Shay, but the tech pet her and she calmed down enough. As he was petting her very soft coat he asked what kind of dog she was. I told him she was a labradoodle and he got very excited. “I thought so. Can I take a picture of her to show my fiancé?”

I agreed and he went to to tell me that he and his newly intended had just had a big fight the night before about all doodle dogs. She contended that any doodle was half standard poodle and thus all doodle dogs were big. Shay Shay a lean twenty pounder just comes up to you knee proving that something other than a standard poodle was in her genetic makeup

The tech was so excited to be right. “I’m going home for lunch with her right now and show her this picture.” I asked him how long they had been engaged and he told me two weeks. “It’s nice to be right, but be careful about how you say it,” I cautioned him.

After he left I got thinking about how when I was younger I reveled in being right. When I say younger I mean like last year and before. It has taken me a long time in life to learn that there are often many correct answers to the same question. Learning to see the gray areas and appreciate nuances is a skill I had to learn.

I think that being the oldest child of two oldest children makes me someone who was used to being more right than wrong. It was easy as a child to be right when competing with much younger siblings. Admitting I am not right comes easier to me now, but was a long time coming.

Sometimes it is great to be wrong, especially if you think the stock market might go down, but still hold on to your investments. Being proved wrong there is a happy thing. Or if you think a young person is stretching a long way to apply to a certain school and they get in. Hooray for being wrong.

But those examples do not involve one person being right and one person being wrong. Gloating over being right is an unattractive trait, especially if it is someone you love. Learning grace and humility are life long lessons. I wish this service tech well in his life with his new wife, if they get that far. Winning an argument over a dog may not be worth it, but then again if he learns the “it’s nice to be right, but it’s better to be nice” lesson on a dog story it might be the cheapest way to learn that lesson.

Procrastination Payoff



I’m not usually a procrastinator.  For things with a deadline I like to get them done early.  The only problem is that not all tasks have a deadline and for those things I sometimes can turn a blind eye.


I am not a consummate list maker, but as I have gotten older I like to have a list just so I won’t forget to do the mundane things like send people a check a I owe them. When I was younger I could relive everyday of my life in my mind and never needed a list to prompt me on what I needed to do next.  In high school I could tell you that the previous week on Monday I had to read pages 145 to 219 of Anna Karenina as homework that night.  Having a good memory was something I really took for granted.  But a good memory really saved me when it came to looking for something important that was somewhere in my house.


Since my memory is not what it used to be I realized that I needed to be more systematic in my filing.  So at last this weekend I actually got to clean up my office.  I hardly use my office anymore since I got a laptop computer some years back and I tend to travel the house working.  I also used to do a lot of paper arts and scrapbooking that required a nice flat surface.  Since I hardly ever print a photo these days I stopped playing with my paper crafts.


My office became the mail storage area for our house.  Tax receipts, bank statements and “important” papers wound up in piles on my giant desk.  Filing was just something I was never good at and with no need to use my desk it just became my giant file.


Today I worked through the piles, trying to only handle each piece of paper once, something I still have not mastered.  As I got the desktop cleaned off I tackled the baskets and cute boxes that had things stuffed in them for safekeeping.  Most of things in those baskets were thrown away, so much for even remembering why I was saving a receipt from a trip to Italy six years ago anyway.


Towards the end of the afternoon I picked up a basket that had been in my office as long as we lived here.  It contained the charging base for my very first cell phone with a frayed electrical cord, a glue gun and a dozen lose glue sticks (I wonder if they go bad?) a hardcover novel I started and was so bored with I never got past the second chapter, and a big pile of Christmas Cards and other greeting cards from 1996.


I loved looking at the photo of my friends Janet and Frank with their baby Sofia who is now applying to college.  I found cards from people who only wrote their first names and I had to rack my brain to figure out who they are.  It was time to part with these things.


Then I opened a little bear shaped birthday card and was stopped in my tracks.  There was the familiar tiny handwriting of my Grandmother Mima.  She always wrote the sweetest letters that made me feel like the most loved person on earth.  If it had somehow not made it’s way into this small basket that got squirreled away in my office it certainly would have been thrown away soon after I had received it.  Finding it today brought back memories of years of wonderful letters my Mima used to write me.  She passed away in 1999 and I miss getting her words of encouragement and love.


In 1996 I certainly was not thinking that I needed to save every card my grandmother sent because I always anticipated there would be more to come.  I was wrong.  But I was so happy that my laziness fourteen years ago brought back the love of my grandmother today.  For once my procrastination paid off.

 Toronto’s Mayoral Mistake

Everybody on earth has heard about Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford who was taped smoking crack.  Now I am in no way condoning anyone, elected official, college educated or not, well employed or not, Canadian or not, doing drugs of any kind.  That being said Rob Ford, who is a rather large man according to his pictures on TV missed a major opportunity to get out of this whole debacle.


How you might ask?  He was allegedly was taped smoking the drugs, he admitted doing it and he added that he has also bought drugs in the recent past.  His best-missed defense was he should have said that he was doing the drugs as a diet aid.  Sure, illegal drugs are still against the law, but if only Robb Ford had gone on TV and said, “Yes I did the drugs as a way to help me lose weight.  I am powerless against food and I was at my wits end to find something to help me stay away from food.”


Yes, it would have been a lie, but many people would have given him a pass because his obvious need to lose weight would have been a believable story.  If only he had said that he might have gone on to actually lose some weight to help rehabilitate his reputation.


It’s too late now.  He has been stripped of all power and is still fat.  He certainly might get fatter as he seeks solace in beer and donuts, two things Canadians do well, just not together.


How a good PR person missed giving Rob Ford this simple advice is criminal.  People are fairly forgiving and so many can empathize with the need to lose weight and even are supportive of someone actually seeking a solution even if it is an idiotic one.  Too late.


Maybe not.  If Ford goes on to lose weight now he can regain some respect by saying, “Doing the drugs and getting caught drove me to reexamine my life and get healthy.  The crack might have saved my life by spurring me on to lose weight.”  As I see it dieting is his only salvation.

The Giving Heart


With the ABC -11 winners, Angela Hampton, Steve Daniels, Monica Barnes, Me, Carolina Welsh and Peter Werbicki

When I was a kid I did not really understand what a philanthropist was. Yes, I heard the word but I associated it with only the uber rich, past robber barons who summered in Newport Rhode Island like the Mellons, Rockefellers and Carnegies. I certainly did not think I had ever met anyone who could be considered such a big word as a Philanthropist.

Fast forward to college and my sorority where as Pi Beta Phi’s we had some sort of Philanthropy requirement. For the life of me I can not remember what good works we actually did, but we must have done something because I am sure the VP of Moral advancement made sure of it.

When I was in my twenties in the Gordon Geko how much money can you make for yourself 80’s I did nothing philanthropic, despite living in Washington DC and having friends whose jobs were about doing good works. Philanthropy was still about rich people or people who worked in non-profit because they were not interested in earning money.

Honestly it was not until I stopped earning money myself and became a mother that I became more interested in helping other people. When I started volunteering places I considered myself just that, a volunteer. I did donate some money, but not what I considered to be in the “philanthropist” category.

Fast forward to today. I went to the National Philanthropy Day Luncheon where the Food Bank’s nominee, WTVD ABC-11 won as Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation. Their President, Caroline Welch talked about how all the employees volunteer and give back to the Food Bank and other community organizations they support. The award was not for the most money raised, but the years of service to our community.

Philanthropy is not just about rich people giving away money, although that is really nice, but it is about anyone who helps someone else in need in anyway they can, no matter how small. Most everyone I know is generous in multitudes of ways so you are all Philanthropists. So on this day set aside to recognize the heros around us, I want to recognize all of you who donate to the Food Bank, or pick up a hammer for Habitat or read with a child at your local school. I think Gordon Geko was dead wrong, greed is not good, generosity is.

No Actual Pumpkins Were Sacrificed

It’s that time of year when all flavors of Thanksgiving get their starring roles in menus around the country. It seems to me that the “flavor of the year” award should go to Pumpkin Pie Spice. Everywhere I turn I see another ad for some kind of Pumpkin Pie flavored drink, coffee creamer or donut.

Now pumpkin pie is reported to be an aphrodisiac, or maybe its the smell of pumpkin pie so it is no wonder that the commercial food world has jumped on that bandwagon. I heard a grown woman cry once at Starbucks when they told her they were out of pumpkin pie spice latte. Really lady, it’s just a coffee.

Actually, it’s not even a coffee, nor does it even have any pumpkin in it. It is just five spices blended together that make that oh-so-addictive and familiar pumpkin pie flavor; they are in order of amount, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.

So if you are ordering a pumpkin pie spice drink and counting it as a vegetable you are one big idiot. If you are a big time pumpkin pie lover here is the real secret, pumpkin on it’s own does not have that much taste. What you really like are the spices that go in it. That being said you can put pumpkin pie spice on lots of other things and get that same yummy flavor and save yourself a ton of calories.

One favorite of mine is to roast carrots in the oven and when they are brown and caramelized I put a tiny amount of butter and a boatload of pumpkin pie spice. Ha,no sugar, no crust, no condensed milk, no pumpkin, but trust me your mouth will think it tastes pretty damn good, maybe even whoopee inducing.

If you have ever had a sweet potato pie and thought it was pumpkin it was because it had the same spice mix — all you are really tasting are the spices and the sugar.

So no crying when the pumpkin pie spice food season ends, just make your own. That combination of flavors is good on many things so don’t be shy about sprinkling it on and acorn or butternut squash or in a cookie recipe, just be forewarned and don’t depend on the rhythm method, if you know what I mean.

The Pants News Network



Today at a ladies who lunch type outing for my friend Hannah’s birthday the conversation took the turn to inevitable search for well fitting pants.  My friends at lunch are all very trim, to use an old fashioned word and I would have thought that finding pants that fit correctly would not have been an issue for any of them.  Apparently issues of fit happen to people of all body types.


Inevitably the conversation turned to the news-making pants story of the hour Lululemon yoga pants and their none to attractive in everyway founder Chip Wilson.  If you don’t watch the “Pants News Network” here’s the background. A woman bought a pair of yoga pants at Lululemon and was unhappy that the legs of the pants pilled between the thighs.  You know what pilling is… when little bits of fabric gather in tiny knot-like pieces and stand proud of the rest of the fabric.  Pilling is something that cheep fabrics do more often than better materials.  When the woman went to return the pants she was told that the pants were not defective but her thighs rubbing together caused the problem.


Whoa, whoa, whoa…break in the “Pants News Network” for my side bar conversation.  Have any of you ever bought a pair of pants that had some disclaimer to a guarantee that read, “guaranteed only if you weigh under 100 pounds are 5 foot six or taller and have not eaten any pancakes in the last six years.”


Back to the “Pants News Network”  — so a reporter was interviewing Chip Wilson about the “Pilling Issue” and he said “We are a technology company”, wait I thought he was a yoga wear company.  Sure workout wear has taken a technological step forward, but a technology company, really?


Chip goes on to explain the pilling problem away by saying, “That some woman’s bodies don’t work.”  The reporter, a woman, in a moment of disbelief, said, “So their bodies don’t work for pants?”


As far as I can tell my body has never worked for anything.  Well, maybe my body would work for food, but for the most part I don’t think my body as a whole makes the decision about working, just my brain.  Perhaps some pants don’t work on my body, but if you are a pants maker you better figure out how to make a product that you can stand behind for any type of body that can put it on.  Oh yeah, we are talking about Lululemon, the same company that had to recall millions of pairs of pants because they were too sheer.  I guess you would not want to stand behind those pants.  Seems like the “technology” failed there.


The faithful fat-thigh-yoga-pants-wearing watchers of the pants channel got all up in Chip Wilson’s grill about the bodies not working comment.  He, in his holier than thou way went back on the “Pants News Network” to not apologize, but say he was sad people got mad about his comments.


Here is the bottom line, buy your clothes from a company that thinks they are a clothing manufacturer and not a technology company.  Don’t try and squeeze yourself into anything.  Thank goodness we don’t have to wear 1970’s Levi’s with the waist size printed on the leather tag on your kidney.  That being said, no one else will have any idea what size you are wearing so buy the size that fit’s right.  If the product ends up being defective take it back and demand satisfaction.  If they won’t stand behind their product call me because there is nothing I like better than a good retail fight, I’ll go back to the store with you.  One caveat, make sure the store does not have any signs posted at the checkout saying there are no returns for people they don’t think are worthy of wearing their products in the first place. I think in Chip Wilson’s mind they have those signs in all his stores.


Is Multi-Tasking the Right Way to Go?

Today was a day of many meetings which meant mostly sitting or driving between sitting. Since I still don’t have a self peddle car even the driving meant more sitting. Because I started tracking my steps and trying to get at least 10,000 a day I have become keenly aware of how many things I like to do sitting down.

First on the list is eating and since eating while walking is not easy to do while having a salad I am going to have to continue sitting for that lest I chip a tooth with my fork. The second big sit-down is writing. In desperation I am writing on my I-Pad now while walking inside my house. This is very slow, but I am in need of both words and steps. I am not planning on doing this everyday.

My third favorite thing is needle pointing. Today I was almost finished with a cute squirrel ornament I was working on, but had run out of background color. I had a short window in my day between meetings so I dropped into my favorite local needlepoint store, Chapel Hill Needlepoint and a few of my regular stitching gang was sitting at the table working. Since they are regular blog followers they wanted to know how many step I had done today. It was pitiful to report that I was only up to 5,400 with a busy day still ahead of me.

I decided it was time to see if I could walk and needlepoint at the same time. I was only working on background which makes for easy work and the lighting is excellent in the store. So stitch, walk, visit, talk, tell stories and answer a question or two from customers who did not know me but thought I must work there otherwise why was I walking around the store so much, I did. My friend Annie captured me on my loop around the table.

Now I know my needlepoint was slower as was my walking, but I had less guilt and more fun. Unfortunately most of my needlepoint projects require a little more attention than I can give them while walking. I already needlepoint while playing Mah Jongg and I’m sure I’ve let a few winning hands go by because of it. So is it better to multi-task and be slightly slower or less adept at something or is it better to concentrate on one thing at a time? I think that since I am walking and writing at the same time right now I can not also add thinking about great philosophical questions to my multi-tasking.


Good Enough to Choke Over

Any regular reader of this blog might already know that I started craving turkey last week. I am happy to report that I did not roast a bird this weekend. When I really thought about what I was craving I determined it was not the meat or the gravy but the cranberry. There are lots of ways to satisfy a cranberry craving, but most of them involve a muffin or cake or some other more-fattening-than-a-turkey-sandwich item.

I thought a little longer and as can happen to someone who is very attuned to deciphering what my mouth and my brain are seeking I remembered a recipe I made up last year that was a raw fruit salad. of course I could not remember exactly what I named it, but I searched “cranberries” on the blog and found Raw Fruit Slaw. That was it! Exactly what my mouth was craving. It is made up of pineapple, fresh cranberries, green apples oranges and the secret ingredient of orange peels. To make it really thanksgiving like I throw in just 2 chopped pecans per cup.

I ran a batch up in the cuisinart and sure enough I had found nirvana. My brain thought “thanksgiving” and my waist said, “where have you been raw fruit slaw?” so for the last three days I have been enjoying a cup of crunchy, sweet, tangy wonderful as my afternoon snack.

Today, just now I was along in my sunroom having my slaw when just as a spoonful was deposited in my mouth I inhaled awkwardly. A tiny bit of fruit went in my lungs and for a moment I thought that I was going to be done in all alone by my own desire. Quickly I coughed up the offending tiny cranberry seed with perhaps a shred of pineapple and I was spared the embarrassment of an obituary that read, “she choked to death on her substitute for a turkey sandwich.”

I got to thinking about how often people who eat alone might choke to death. Other than Mama Cass, you know of the Mamas and the Papas fame, who reportedly choked to death on a sandwich, I don’t hear of many alone choking deaths. Am I the only mother who eats lunch at home alone on days I don’t have a lunch date? I know plenty of people who eat at their desks, do they never choke or are offices so full of people that there is always someone close by to do the Heimlich maneuver?

If eating alone were a greater death threat I think that dieting would be a thing of the past. For me I think I need to slow down and breath between bites and not get so excited that I came up with a healthy alternative to my bad for me craving. Despite the near fatal episode I can hardly wait until tomorrow when I can eat more of my fruit slaw.

Modern Day Panic

Disaster is a strong word. It really should be held for things like the typhoon in the Philippines where some huge amount of people actually lost their lives. When I was a teenager I was often drawn to exaggeration and would declare the shrinking of a favorite sweater a true disaster. In my defense I am sure that at that point in life I had ever actually experienced any true disasters. Not until the ice storm on 1972 where we went without electricity for seven days had I ever even experienced discomfort.

With all that being said something happened at our house today that I will certainly not call a disaster, but it did cause close to panic. Our three month old crap replacement Time Warner modem went out. And add to that discomfort, much more importantly Russ’ computer would not boot up. Now these problems are not things I am terribly helpful with, but am accustomed to having connectivity to the outside world via computer.

Here is the shocking bit of information. Time Warner does not have a service center open anywhere near here and possibly anywhere on Sunday. So unlike the last time the modem gave up I was not able to drive to their store,wait in an hour long line and trade in my definitely broken machine for another used and possibly also just traded in and possibly broken machine. Russ spent a good two hours on the phone with some Rep who is certainly not paid enough to deal with angry customers because she is telling them that the earliest a tech can come to the house is Thursday.

Russ probably could have built a modem in that amount of time. Instead he ended up going to Best Buy and purchasing a new modem. The only problem now is that he has to make it work with all the many devices in our house that depend on it. A job I am definitely no help with.

With all the advancements in the world the person who invents household connectivity that just plugs in the wall and makes your whole house a big wifi hub and the TV’s get every station and your phones all have clear connections without any human programming will be my hero and certainly the richest person in the world. Come on twitter or nest inventors, make this for me and all the people who are over fifty and not interested in electrical engineering.

I know you would win whatever the biggest prize is in the world and you certainly will be the richest. I would even cook you dinner for a year if you,whoever you are, would make the need for a little box with eight little blinking lights and lots of wires running under my desk obsolete just so I could have the Internet.

Right now Russ is on a work call and the new modem is not yet working so the only good part about this is that I am going to take my IPad outside and walk around to get my steps in and look for some neighbor’s unlocked wifi I can steel so I can post this blog. Please Higher Being, I rarely ask for anything, but can you hurry along the person who is able to make this magic machine. I don’t need this kind of stress in our house.

My Hips Are Killing Me



Since I got this FitBit to encourage me to walk more I certainly have added a lot more steps to each day.  My goal has been to do 10,000 steps a day and I am happy to report I made 70,000 steps in my first week.  It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  Walking is time consuming.  Some nights I was walking around and around the dining room table late into the night checking my phone app to see the steps added up.


I tried to cut down on the amount of time the walking took by adding some running to my day. I am not a runner so when I say adding some running I was doing things like running home while out with Shay Shay from three of four houses away.  I am feeling all this walking with a splash of running in my hips.   Previous to this exercise spurt I have been having trouble with my left arch so you would rarely see me anything but the most unattractive supportive shoes.  Even with the best available footwear something is not right because my hips are killing me.


Now one would think that these same hips that have carried this body with more than a hundred and ten pounds on it for years without pain could take a little extra walking.  I certainly must be doing something wrong.


I thought that maybe if I got all my steps in early in the day I might avoid night time hip pain so Russ and I took Shay Shay out to the Eno River Park to hike this morning.  I got 9500 steps out on the trail with a little help being pulled along by our sweet dog who was in heaven.  The early theory was proven wrong.  My hips are still killing me.


I’ve tried stretching — crossing one knee over the other and pushing it away from me — A little relief, not much.  A long hot shower, a little more relief, not enough.  Two Aleve – not good enough yet.


Well, I know that eventually my body will adjust, but I’m tired of hurting.  I did lose two pounds this week, but that seemed small based on my eating and exercise.  At least if I’m going to hurt this much I should lose a little faster.  I’m not throwing in the towel yet, but any tips for hip stretches are welcome.

Turkey Countdown



Today Carter and I were shopping and as she was trying on shoes “White Christmas” came on over the store’s Muzak system.  Carter went into full on revolt.  “Why are they playing that already?” she demanded.  “It isn’t even close to Thanksgiving yet.”

But it is.  Less than three weeks to Thanksgiving and it is a late Turkey Holiday this year falling on the twenty-eighth.


I was less disturbed by the Christmas music since I am a major Christmas lover.  I was much more confused by the follow-up song of “Afternoon Delight.”  I wondered what drugs that music programmer was on since I don’t find shopping delightful and it was not even afternoon.


To help calm Carter’s mood over the obvious Christmas push put on by all things retail I asked her what foods she wanted to have for Thanksgiving while we were at lunch.  Discussing future meals while enjoying a current one is a favorite topic in our family.  It is one that drives my mother crazy.


Carter started to list all the fattening southern foods my father is famous for making on Thanksgiving; stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, creamed onions.  Carter then jumped to my pecan pie.  I asked her if she wanted ice cream or whipped cream and she replied the only answer a Carter of any kind might give, “Both of course.”


My mouth was salivating thinking about the normally forbidden foods that show up at Thanksgiving.  It is normally about this week of the year that I start to crave a really good turkey sandwich.  Not that thin cut deli turkey, which my father hates because he says it’s slimy, but a slab of home roasted turkey with a big scoop of homemade cranberry sauce and mayonnaise on old fashioned southern white bread like Mrs. Dingle used to make at the Tip Top Inn on Pawley’s Island back in the seventies.


The worst part about craving turkey is that the real Thanksgiving bird has a hard time living up to the hype my mind has built up.  I would be much better off if I would just go on and cook a turkey now and enjoy a little two weeks before the real deal so that I don’t create such huge expectations.  Turkey, unto itself is a fairly healthy food, but not the accompanying items on the big day.


So now I’ve done it.  Got my mouth in a turkey way with Salmon on the menu for dinner.  Nothing is going to make me happy until I take care of this desire.  I guess I know what tomorrows “afternoon delight” is going to be.


Small Plates are Only Good for Me in the Singular



The small plate movement in the restaurant and catering world sounds like it would be the perfect diet solution for a person like me.  Instead of a giant plate of food being put down in front of me there are multiples of little tiny plates each with their perfect three bites.


In theory fewer bites would be better than more, but the reality is not the case.  Small plate servings tend to be more fattening because there is little filler food, like plain vegetables or simple potatoes, which can be ignored.   If a chef is only giving you three bites they want to make sure that they “Wow” you and in my experience, “Wow” almost always equals more calories.


I have never seen a small plate of just grilled zucchini.  If zucchini were even the subject of a small plate then a rich sauce, perhaps a Romanesco would be included and them an obscene amount of oozing cream laden burrata—that’s the richer and more attractive cousin of mozzarella, a few toasted pistachios, a drizzling of the finest olive oil with one drop of perfect balsamic vinegar and a literal pinch of micro greens.  Oh yeah, and the zucchini would not just be grilled instead it would be rolled in panko and Parmesan. That’s how you get zucchini in the small plate world.


Now that I have concluded that what is on the small plate is above my calorie grade let’s throw in the other issue – “It’s small, I can have more.”  Followed by, “How many have I had?”


When I get a dinner on one plate I am able to access how much I should eat before I begin eating.  “Is that piece of meat 4 or 8 ounces?”  “Are the vegetables swimming in butter?”  Based on my overall calculations I can determine if I need a take home box before I even begin eating.  This is not an option in small plates.  Have you ever seen anyone ask for a doggy bag for one bite?  Ok, besides someone who is related to me and shall remain nameless since Christmas is coming.


It is much harder math if you have to keep adding up one plate after another.  Well, the math is not hard, but I do get tired of doing it.  I guess it becomes a math weakness issue.


I am all for smaller plates in general so my eyes think I am getting a full plate, but I need to get all my food at once and not drawn out over an extended period of time dribbled out a few fantastic bites at a time.  Yeah the idea of savoring something perfect should make me happy, but in reality a few more less than perfect bites giving me higher quantity and filling me up is the way I need to go.  I guess it is just too late to become one of those ladies who just picks at her food.

Stewed Tomatoes, Okra and Onions



Fresh Okra is still available but is not quite as tender as it is in the height of the summer.  To make the most of the slightly tougher okra I like to cook it with canned stewed tomatoes and lots of onions.  Frankly, anything cooked in lots of onions will taste better.


1 big yellow onion chopped

4 cloves of garlic minced

2 15 oz. cans of stewed tomatoes

1 T. grated fresh ginger root

½ t. ground cardamom

¾ of a pound of fresh okra cleaned and cut into thirds

Dash of sugar

Salt and pepper


Spray a pot with Pam and put on a medium high heat on the stove.  Add the onions and cook for a few minutes until they get transparent, stirring to prevent sticking.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the cans of tomatoes, ginger and cardamom and cook for twenty minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.  Add the okra and 1 cup of water and cook covered for another twenty minutes.  Remove the lid and add the sugar and salt and pepper and cook uncovered until the stew gets thick, about five minutes.

The Reason I Never Become a Nurse

Poor Carter missed a day of school last week for surgery and then was sick this morning so she stayed home again.  The reason I say poor Carter is not the fact that she missed two days of school or that she had these things happen to her, it’s that I am her mother.  See, I am a very poor nurse.  I think it runs in my family.


When I was a kid we lived in a giant rambling barn of a house.  My parents slept on the top floor on one end of the house and I slept on the bottom floor on the other end.  If I ever got sick in the night there was no crying out for help because certainly no adult would hear you and no sibling would care.


Here is how an illness would go…  I would wake up and throw up; sometimes I made it to the bathroom.  I would cry, actually wail, no one would come.  So after what felt like a lifetime of being alone in the wilderness I would pull myself up the back barn stairs that had risers that were twelve inches tall, think climbing a ladder and still wailing, drag myself the length of the big living room which felt like Lawrence of Arabia crossing the Sahara.


Crawling on all fours I would open just the bottom half of my parent’s bedroom Dutch door where I would make my way to their bed.  Clinging to my mother’s side, I would lift the down pillow that was covering her head to drown out the snoring coming from my father, “I threw up,” I would whine.  No response.  “I’m sick,” I would say louder.  Nothing.  The smell of sickness on my nightgown should have woken the dead, but nothing.


I eventually retreated to my father’s side of the bed and I would push his shoulder.  “I’m not snoring,” he would say in automatic response to his shoulder being pushed in his sleep.  “No, it’s Dana.  I’m sick.”  A voice finally responds, but I am still not sure which parent it was, “Go sleep in the guest room.”


That was the model of care I grew up with.  That is the model I follow today.  If you are sick, sleep it off.  If you have surgery, go back to school the next day.  If you are sick you still better get your homework done.  If you are sick, please don’t make anyone else sick.  If you aren’t well you are getting the worst possible food.


If you need care I’m not your girl.  There are many things I will tell you I’m good at, many I have never even tried, but taking care of sick people, even my own sweet off spring is not my thing.  So feel sorry for Carter, not because she is sick, but because I’m her mother.

Things I Can and Can’t Do While Walking

Today is day four in the 10,000-step commitment.  It is harder than I thought to make sure that I get all those steps in.  I find myself trying to do more and more things while standing up moving.  Some things are successful like dancing back and forth holding my glass in the icemaker, or reading all my e-mail on my phone while walking around and around my dining room table.  Some things are not successful, like needlepoint or writing my blog while walking.

Yesterday as I sat in church I thought that I could really get a lot of steps in if I were allowed to circle the perimeter of the pews while listening to the sermon, but being Presbyterian that would be highly frowned upon.  Today I had my regular appointment with my trainer so I did a little running on the treadmill before she had me lifting weights and doing lunges.  Yes, I got about 2,000 steps in before my workout but for the most part balancing on a bosu while holding dumbbells and then squatting got me no steps.

I also went back to Yoga class this morning.  It is amazing how little I move in Yoga and how hard it is.  So while I did an insane amount of exercise, especially for me, I still have only reached 7,125 steps by four this afternoon.  Sure I have lots of hours left to get that last bit in but I don’t really want to be running up and down my front walkway at 8:00 tonight like I was last night, especially since I have hardly played any Words with Friends and done not one stitch of needlepoint today.  Just thinking about getting my steps done is causing me anxiety, which I am sure, is not burning off any extra calories.

I wish I did not have so many things that require my use of a computer to do because I have tried to carry my laptop around with one arm while typing with one hand and I am a total failure at that.  First I tend to run into things and second I forget where my train of thought was going and I end up typing pure gibberish.  I tried writing on my phone but I do not text by the thumb method so I am very slow and the change in focus from looking through my reading glasses to just over them at the floor is giving me a big headache.

I have dragged my dog outside for more walks, but her need to stop and sniff and squat is frustrating to me.  Yes, I do a little dance while she is doing her business so technically I am getting some steps, but I know that I look like I have some disorder or just ants in my pants.  It’s not that I don’t want to get out and walk more, but how in the world am I going to get all my regular living done?  I’m leaving the computer now and am going to go run around the block before it gets dark and I get hit by a car.

Sirloin Pork Roast with Apples and Mustard Gravy



In the back to basics move I decided to make a roast for dinner.  I realized while I was cooking that I needed a lot more steps to reach my 10,000 step goal today so I ran around the kitchen never stopping while I chopped, stirred and seasoned.  I don’t recommend this strategy for most because you might lose a finger.


While the roast was resting I took Shay Shay out side to run off a few more steps.  My neighbors the Andersons were driving away from home and stopped to ask how the tracking my steps was going.  I kept dancing around their car as I answered them.  Mary Eileen said she wished she had a blog so she could write what a nut I looked like.  The things I will do to reach my goal.


Russ declared this dinner a big winner so give it a try.


1 four pound Sirloin Pork Roast

1 big onion – chopped

2 apples  – peeled and chopped

1 can of chicken broth

10 big fresh sage leaves minced or 1 T. of ground sage

Salt and pepper

1 ½ T. butter

2 T. flour

3 T. Dijon mustard


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a Dutch oven with Pam and put it on the stove on high heat.  Pat the pork roast dry with paper towels and sprinkle lots of salt and pepper all over it.  Brown the meat in the Dutch oven, turning it on all sides.  This will take about ten minutes.


When you have turned the meat onto the last side to be browned add the sage, and onions.  After the meat is browned on all sides add the apples and the chicken broth and keep the pan on the stove until the liquid just starts to bubble.  Then put a lid on the pan and place it in the oven.


Bake for about 30 minutes until the meat reaches 160 degrees using a meat thermometer.  Take the meat out of the pan and spoon the apples and onions over it, leaving the liquid in the pan to use for gravy. Tent with foil to keep it warm.


To make the gravy melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat, add the flour and stir it into the melted butter cooking it for a minute. Add the pan juices from the roast to the butter and flour roux stirring with a whisk.  Add the mustard and continue cooking until the gravy is the desired thickness, it should only take a few minutes.


I served mine with roast Brussels Spouts and sweet Potato Oven Fries.

And Yet Another Diet Trick



There is a reason so many people write baking blogs and I found out yesterday when I posted the obscenely bad for you Halloween candy peanut butter pie recipe; people love sweets.   I got so many messages about that pie.  When I was out walking today I ran into my friend Cliff who has lost a boat-load of weight in the last two years and he said that he was so tempted by my recipe that he actually contemplated buying four bags of Kit Kats at the grocery today so he could make that pie and put it in the freezer.

Now the point of that recipe was to repurpose Halloween candy so that it was not just hanging around to get nibbled on here and there.  Thankfully Cliff did not fall prey to the Kit Kats.  I promise not to post something like that again, even if it does get me tons of readers.  It goes against the point of this blog as a diet comedy.

Halloween is the beginning of the eating season.  Not that there is ever a non-eating season for me.  I spent last weekend eating what I wanted at Jon and Alli’s wedding and that is not something that worked out for me.

Knowing that this is the dangerous time of year and that I have been less than vigilant in the last month I was searching for what my next “Trick” for dieting was going to be.  It was exactly one year ago on November first that my weight-loss challenge for the Food Bank ended.  Yes I did raise $53,000 and loose 53 pounds, which worked great for the Food Bank, and me but I can’t keep asking people to pay me to lose weight and I would like to go on and lose the last of it.

I know in my heart and my brain what all the basics are to losing weight.  They don’t change and I have memorized them all.  I also know there are no magic pills so I never bother to listen to those infomercials on the latest herb or extract guaranteed to help you drop those unwanted pounds.  But I still like a gadget or two that will keep me focused on the fundamentals.

My friend Jan is an early adaptor and likes to try out the new and shinny so I was ripe to listen to her talk about her Fit Bit this week.  Fit Bit is a tiny device you wear to track steps and activity.  It is one of many of these devices to help us sedentary yet completive types get up and move around more. This was the “Trick” I treated myself to post Halloween.  So now I have a bracelet on tracking my every move.

Moving more and tracking it is good, but logging every bite of food I eat is better.  As wonderful as exercise is, eating right is the only way I really can lose weight.  To my luck Fit Bit can be tied into the Losing It App I already have on my phone, but have not used in a while as my logging system for everything I put in my mouth.  I don’t bite it until I write it.

I will keep you posted as to the progress of these back to basics tricks I am trying.  If you are also a Fit Bit user friend me or invite me or whatever it is called so we can track each other.  I am always better if I have people keeping an eye on me and a little competition never hurts.

Using Up Halloween Chocolate Candy Peanut Butter Pie



I rarely post anything so fattening on this blog, but I was bound and determined to use up this Halloween candy.  I made it into a peanut butter pie with a pretzel crust that I will freeze and give away.


1 ½ Cups of crushed pretzels

¼ cup of brown sugar

4T. of melted butter


Mix together and press into a pie pan.  Bake in 350-degree oven for ten minutes and remove from oven and let cool.


10 mini or fun size chocolate candy bars chopped up- I used snickers, heath bars, twix, Rollo and kit kats.  Sprinkle on the crust.


1 pkg of cream cheese

¼ cup of sour cream

½ cup of peanut butter

1 egg


Beat all these ingredients together and spoon over the candy.  Bake in 325-degree oven for 35 minutes.  Chill and cover the pie with whipped cream when you serve it.


Cut pieces for everyone else and run out of the house before taking one bite your self.