Hockey looks like the best exercise!

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Posting from the Carolina Hurricanes game where I got to accept a big ass $50,000 check for the Food Bank.  They made a three year commitment to give us $50,000 each year.

Watching hockey is not enough exercise but they would not let me on the ice to play.

Sorry about the short post, but I’m gonna enjoy the rest of the game.

Thanks hurricanes.

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Hero Worship

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Today was one of my favorite days.  Not the whole day, since we had a second snow day, but the evening.  It was the Food Bank’s Hunt Morgridge Award and night of Appreciation.  Every year the Food Bank thanks our top donors and volunteers and honors one individual who has exemplary service over many years to the organization.

 

I got to be the master of ceremonies, a job I love to do and this year it meant even more to me because the Hunt Morgridge winner was Haywood Holderness, a person I hold dear in my heart.  See Haywood was my pastor for ten years until he retired and it was Haywood who first got me involved in the Food Bank.

I was not part of the committee who picked the award winner, but when I heard they had chosen Haywood it was one of those moments that made my heart happy.  Haywood not only was the board chair for three years, created the Breaking Bread capital campaign that raised $6 million dollars, opened both the Durham and Greenville branches, but he spread the feeling that we can and should do something to help people in need of the most basic thing in life, food.

 

It was thrilling to see so many wonderful people come out to the new Durham Branch to honor Haywood.  We had a standing room only crowd and as I looked out over the sea of faces listening to the stories we told about how Haywood would ask people to donate to help those in need I saw many nodding heads and smiling faces of those people he helped “see the light” that people could get much joy from giving generously.  Haywood is the one who taught me that and I try to work everyday to spread the message that hoarding brings heartache and giving euphoria.

 

Tomorrow I get another fun opportunity to accept a big check on the ice at half time of the Hurricanes game.  So if you are going to the hockey game Friday night look for me in the middle of the ice, no skates, just a big smile and a word of thanks for the generosity of the Kids and Community Foundation of the Carolina Hurricanes for the $150,000 they are giving us.

 

These kinds of events make my job as the chair of the Food Bank board exciting, but nothing like the feeling I get when a child who we feed writes a note on a paper plate thanking us for the “real pear.”  I know Haywood would agree that is what all the work is really all about.


Grown Up Snow Day

 

 

The best days ever are the ones were you are given a pass from all responsibilities and the bonus is being told the day before so you can sleep in. That was the gift given to us last night that the impending storm meant calling off school well before bed so I did not set my alarm and wake up only to find out that I could have slept in.

 

It has been a few years since we have had any real snow here in Durham.  I know this because this is the first time that Shay Shay has seen snow.  It was the nice fluffy kind, not covered by a layer of ice so she was able to run and bound in it, with the flakes sticking to her face.  When she realized she had to do her business in it I was happy not to have the tough coating layer so that the pee did not run downhill and possibly run into her other paws.

 

Carter got to sleep in too, which makes a teenager very happy.  All my real work was canceled and my favorite activity of the week, Mah Jongg was moved to my friend Christy’s house where mothers with kids were able to come and let their kids go sledding while we traded bams, crack and dots, shared a yummy lunch and whiled away our day of play.

 

I love a guilt free day off.  Hey it’s not my fault that it snowed and so sorry you had to cancel some important meetings, but what are we to do?  Although it was not much snow we just don’t have the equipment here in the south to handle even the thinnest layer of ice, which is what happens when the snow gets packed down and melts just a little bit.

 

Hooray for permission to play all day.  It is only really fin when everyone else is off too.  I don’t think I need everyday to be a free day, but I was ready for this one.  Luckily it was not so much snow that we are going to be stuck inside for days on end, so I will be ready for school to start back up tomorrow with maybe a delay so the icy roads can thaw a little.  Two days in a row will start to feel decadent and I am just too Presbyterian for that much lazing around.

 

All this sleeping in and full day of Mah Jongg has kept me from my treadmill desk.  Now it may be a snow day but I have no excuse not to get my steps in so I must walk away for the rest of the evening in the warmth of my cozy office.  Just because there is snow I don’t get a pass on getting my steps.  At least I did sleep in.


Only Idiots Can’t Use Spanx Correctly

 

 

 

You know it is a slow news cycle when not one network, but three are reporting on SPANX.  If you are a man who has been living in a cave you might not know what SPANX are so let me be the first to tell you they are modern day “shape wear.”   Shape wear is the updated name for a girdle, which is an updated from the corset.

 

It seems like for as long as there have been women there have been people inventing things to make women into a shape that is considered superior to the one she has naturally.  Face it, if women were left to their own devices I doubt the long line bra ever would have been invented.

 

I digress, so the big “news” in Spanx is that the ultra stretchy and compressing spandex can cause harm to internal organs.  Well big news, so can an ace bandage if wrapped too tightly.  The story should not be that some dumb floozy squeezed her spleen too tight, it should be that Spanx is now required to have user instructions to protect the idiots of the world, like McDonalds had to put warning labels on coffee cups telling people it was hot.

 

Apparently some delusional women are wearing spanx that are multiple sizes too small or worse yet, wearing multiple spanx at the same time.  Really ladies.  No stretchy material is going to be able to hide all that you are and all that you have.  It may get a little smoothed out and hooray for Spanx I am all for that, but you can’t squeeze all your fat out of you.  You can push it in one place, but it is just going to have to roll back out someplace else.  Have you heard of back fat?

 

So please let’s not blame Spanx for causing your bodily injury if you are using the products incorrectly.  Hello New Directors, the story is women are not buying the right size shape wear.  No one can see the label if you are wearing clothes over your “Under garments” so please buy the right size.  I will never judge you be you a XL or XXXL.  But I will ridicule the hell out of you if you are taking up valuable emergency room space because you bruised an organ so you could look smaller.

 

Spanx is quite frankly a big improvement over the previously available shape wear so let’s not take the company down over a few non-compliant users.  This is in no way an advertisement for Spanx, but if you are a woman you wears them and loves them I am hoping to save the reputation of a wrongly maligned product!


Programmed to Eat

 

 

When we first got our dog Shay Shay as a nine-week old puppy we were told to give her a treat after every successful visit outdoors to potty.  This training obviously worked because she never once had an accident inside.  I am sure that at sometime we should have stopped giving her the tiny square of freeze dried liver she loves the most every time she comes in from the outside, but here we are more than two years later still treating her after every visit to the great big potty that is the outdoors.

 

I think sometimes she asks to go out just to be able to come back in and have a treat.

She is a fairly thin dog who does not eat a huge amount of dog food, so I guess keeping up the treating is not too terrible for her.

 

I got to thinking about the expectation for getting food and wondering if she is actually hungry or just in the habit of getting a nibble no matter what.  I am a human who is equally programmed to eat.  I can’t tell you the last time I missed a meal — Breakfast, lunch and dinner, everyday, no mater what.

 

I know that my parents did the right thing by feeding me regularly as a baby and young child.  Do I think that has programmed me to expect food at those three meals at the very least? Meals are not the only times I eat.  I wonder if I had not been so programmed to expect food at such regular times that I might have learned to eat only when I was hungry?

 

If left to my own devices I might actually eat more often than the three meals and one snack that is part of my regular routine.  What if I were given a favorite food every time I performed some mundane task like clean out the dishwasher.  I might never do anything else.

 

Not eating can be just as much of a problem as eating too much — both are unhealthy.  I am much too old to be deprogrammed from three meals a day now.  Perhaps five little snacks would be better for me, or just two good meals.  I will never know.

 

What I do know is that my dog is very happy getting a liver treat when she comes back inside the house.  I am not about to be the one who is going to stop her routine as long as she continues to be a good dog and always do her business outside.

 

As for myself since I am going to continue sitting down to eat at the same times everyday I am going to do my best to think about every bite and decide if I am done before my plate is clean.  Just another ingrained habit — damn those starving children in China.


Preemptive Worrying

 

Sometimes my child is nothing like me, like when she says she has spent too much time with people and needs a good long time alone.  As an off the scale extrovert I have a hard time fathoming what that feeling is like.  Clearly it is something she got from her father.

 

Other times my child is so much like me that I feel like I am having an out of body experience watching my younger self all over again.  This afternoon was one of those times.  After a jam packed weekend of go-go-go where I had hardly seen Carter for more than ten minutes we had some time coming home from horseback riding.  Knowing that I was going to have a salad for dinner that would not suit her I told her we would stop at the Fresh Market and she could go in and get anything she wanted for dinner.  I handed her a $20 bill and withheld my normal lecture on trying to find a healthy choice.

 

While I was waiting in the car she texted me to ask if we had any asparagus at home.  At first I thought that someone else’s texts were coming into my phone.  I said, “No, go ahead and get as much asparagus as you want.”  A few moments later she jumped in the car with her bag of groceries.

 

“What did you get?” I asked, thinking it would be a sandwich or something equally readymade.

 

“I got some chicken sausage, asparagus and chips.”  Shock and surprise.  An actual meal, made up of a healthy protein, green veg and a starch.  I was not about to complain about the chips, baby steps when it comes to letting a teenager pick out her own food.

 

“Yeah, I found the chips first and really wanted those so I ruled out sushi or sandwiches or wraps.  I looked around the store and saw the sausage and I thought I could cook those.”

 

Even better I thought.  Not only did she buy real food she is planning on cooking it herself.

 

“The only bad thing is I was standing in the beer section looking at the different choices that I might cook the sausages in and all of a sudden I remembered I am fifteen and am not allowed to buy beer.  An old guy was looking at me while I was standing there probably thinking the same thing.”

 

I had a big laugh.  Carter has been watching me cook her whole life and has learned that the right alcohol makes food taste better when you cook with it.

 

“I just realized something horrible,” Carter said.  “I am going to have to go half way through college without beer or wine to cook with.”

 

Oh the things you worry about when you are Dana Lange’s child.


Happy Birthday Mom

 

 

When I was little one of my favorite things to do was to go through my mother’s scrapbooks from her childhood.  She had tiny black and white photos of her family and friends at her house in Knoxville, Tennessee and at their lodge in the great Smokey Mountains.  I loved to look at the clothes they wore and the hairstyles they had back in the forties and fifties, so different from the style or non-style of the late sixties and seventies.

 

There were also many newspaper clippings of my mother from a picture of her at five years old receiving a “Call from Santa” to her engagement photo at the young age of twenty-one.  My favorite pages were the pictures of my mother and her dates taken at dances with the dance cards, and invitations attached to the pages.  One memorable invitation was a soda glass my mother had drawn with fluffy cotton coming out of the top to represent the bubbles and a real straw.  I used to tell her she was the best artist I had ever seen based on her scrapbook entries and she just shied away from that, not having started painting at that time.

 

I was always secretly glad that she did not end up marrying Woody Wood, who in an eighth grade cotillion photo was a good four or five inches shorter than my not very tall mother.  When I would point this out to her she would always say that he went on to be a successful dentist so I should think more highly of him.  I was just considering how short I might have ended up if he had been my father.

 

My mother was also a “College Girl” at Riches, the local department store.  That meant that she modeled clothes and appeared in advertisements.  I thought it was an incredibly glamorous thing to do and so grown up.  We had nothing like that in our small town of Wilton, Connecticut, not that I ever could have been a model.

 

Those images of my mother as a little girl all the way through college are burned into my brain and even though I was not alive during those times I still can see my mother’s beautiful face from then.  It is easy because she has hardly aged at all.  The only big change is her naturally straight hair now compared to her tight home permanent back then, now is so much better.

 

Today is her birthday and some decades later she still very much resembles that young girl climbing on the rocks of the river that ran by her parents lodge.  When I think of my mother I see her face in the pictures I have of her and the pictures she creates in her art.  Sometimes in her thirties she started painting and all that talent that was evident in her scrapbooks came pouring out.  She still paints almost everyday when she is home near her art barn.  I love that now I have not only pictures of her, but also pictures by her.  Happy Birthday Mom, thanks for all the scrapbooks that helped me know you better.


Potential Squirrel Obesity

 

 

Fat people are not the only beings that are addicted to food.  Yesterday while walking my sweet labradoodle Shay Shay I witnessed proof that animals too will risk life and limb for food.  No, my dog did not run out into the street to get a meaty bone.  But a squirrel who had found a well aged acorn stood her ground to enjoy eating it a mere two feet from me with a squirrel stalking dog pulling at her leash trying to play with her.

 

Now this squirrel was not oblivious to our existence.  She stared at the two of us much larger and well-fed beings down while she systematically peeled away the tough covering of the nut to enjoy the tender meat.  Shay jumped up and down on her hind legs trying to gain a few feet so she could grab the furry creature while it just sat there, one eye on Shay one on her food.  Once she had consumed her meal she scurried up the trunk of the pin oak tree she was standing besides.

 

My dog was none to happy that I did not give her enough rope to grab that lazy ass squirrel while she had a chance, I was more amazed that the wild animal would risk certain death over one small nut.  She was not a skinny squirrel so I am sure this meal was not her life saving or starve to death moment.  Perhaps her eye contact with sweet Shay made her think that she was not really in harms way, but she would be wrong since Shay would certainly want to squeeze her tightly until she found and ripped out her squeaker.

 

Is being addicted to food what has kept this squirrel alive or has she been tempting fate?  We all have heard of the fight or flight reflex but maybe the more important one is the eat or flight?  I think this animal standing right next to a tree that she could use as a safe harbor could have taken the nut in her mouth up and out of our way very easily.  Or just dropped the food and take cover and come back and recover her prize later.  Have squirrels grown too familiar with both man and beast and feel no fear for their lives or has dining become an event they are not willing to give up?

 

I am sure that I have done this squirrel a great disservice by holding my dog back on her leash.  She certainly is on the way to rodent obesity. I decided that if I were to only eat in a place that I was in constant danger I might feel less addicted to food.  Next time you see me with a cookie in my hand feel free to attack me.  I don’t ever want to risk my life for food, especially if it is fattening.


Thai Lettuce Cups

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It may be cold out and lettuce cups seem like a summery thing, but boy are they good.  This is the perfect food for flavor and hardly any calories.

 

Make the meat mixture

 

8 oz. mushrooms- finely chopped in the Cuisineart

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs

5 cloves of garlic

1 inch of ginger root grated finely

2 T. fish sauce

2 T. Mirin

1 t. soy sauce

½ t. red pepper flakes

I small can of water chestnuts mined

 

In a fry pan sprayed with Pam cook the mushrooms on a medium heat for five mins.  Take out of the pan and set aside in bowl.  Put the garlic cloves in the cuisineart and chop finely, add the chicken thighs and pulse until minced.  Add the garlic and chicken to the fry pan and begin cooking on medium heat, add the ginger root.  After the chicken is almost cooked through, about five minutes add the fish sauce, mirin, soy and red pepper flakes.  Cook another two minutes add the water chestnuts to heat up.

 

Prep all the veggies:

 

Iceberg lettuce – cut head in half

Carrot Slivers

Marinated Cucumbers – English cucumbers thinly sliced with splenda, rice wine vinegar and fish sauce

Cilantro

Bean Sprouts

Cocktail peanuts

Optional Asian sweet and spicy sauce – I used a Shitake Soy ginger sauce

 

 

Carefully pull the lettuce leaves apart into cups.  Spoon two heaping spoonfuls of meat mixture into the cup; add some carrots, cucumbers, and bean sprouts.  Sprinkle a few peanuts and cilantro leaves on top and a spoonful of sauce.

 

It’s hard to eat neatly so have lots of napkins to clean the drippy parts off your chin.  You can thank me later.


Grocery Store Shrinks

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If you are an American you probably already know that there are hundreds of thousands of grocery store psychologists.  These are not people who have a couch set up in a grocery store asking you how you feel about your childhood.  No, these are the people who systematically plan out how to advertise, display and partner foods so that you unknowingly are drawn to buying things you never intended too.  Food manufactures also employ these same types of people to design packaging that scream, “You have got to buy me.”

 

This is not a purely American phenomenon.  I have been to grocery stores in lots of countries and they all are employing the same tricks.  Things like the highest profit margin items at eye level and red and yellow packaging.

 

Since January is national “the whole country is on a diet month,” until the Super Bowl, the second highest eating day after Thanksgiving, stores are running lots of promotions on diet foods.  Special K must make half of their annual sales in the month of January.  Come February people are sick of sugar-free dry flakes and go back to sugar pops.

 

Nothing in a major grocery store is left up to chance.  Those Psychologist are getting paid big bucks to design every aisle, end cap and store flyer to maximize store sales.  Today, while I was at the Harris Teeter I saw one of my favorite store gimmick pairings I have ever seen.  In the soda aisle under the diet Coke display hung a shelf basket full of Hershey bars.

 

Now I don’t drink soda, but I don’t usually think of a cola and a chocolate bar being the best taste combination, not like chocolate and peanut butter or Hersheys, marshmallows and graham crackers, classics!  I know exactly what the thinking was behind this; it’s diet month, everyone is going to buy diet soda, but it’s week three and their resolve is getting weak, it’s the perfect time to sabotage their diet with a chocolate bar.  Of course the person buying it can justify buying the candy since they are having a diet soda.  Damn those grocery store shrinks.  How are normal, non-advanced degreed humans supposed to withstand such wicked tricks?

 

The stores have come up with the answer to this, Internet grocery shopping.  My Harris Teeter has a service where you can order your groceries on-line, a store clerk shops the store with your list and bags them and you just pull up to the front of the store and they put the groceries in your car.  The store charges some fee for this, like say $5 and you can avoid all their tricks to get you to buy stuff you never needed.  The store makes money on the fee so it works out the same for them.  I’m waiting to see what those store Psychologists are going to do to entice us when we don’t even walk in the store.  Perhaps the person bringing the bags out is going to have donuts and cookies hanging in baskets around their neck.


A Life Rear View Mirror

 

 

As I was driving home today on the highway I witnessed a driver a few cars in front of me cross over two lanes without signaling or any regard for the other cars behind him in those lanes.  It looked to me as if he never even lifted his eyes to the rearview mirror, which as far as I know is standard equipment for every car on earth.  Lucky for all the cars behind this idiot, the ones he cut off reacted appropriately and avoided causing a big accident.  Not that the original offender knew or possibly would have known had their been a crash.

 

The rear view mirror is a tool I wish I had in all parts of my life.  Not just to ensure I am being a polite and safe, but for every situation where I go blindly off the way I want to go without much awareness for those who are following behind me.

 

It would be great to have a tool to check to see if the route we want to take is clear before we go that way.  Then to be able to look behind us and see that all is well and we did no harm would be a bonus.  I also would love to be able to look behind me to see what is barreling towards me that I might want to avoid.  A life rear view mirror would be so helpful.

 

I have been known to say something inappropriate and hurtful without realizing it and leave collateral damage in my wake.  A rear view mirror won’t prevent me from making those gaffs, but if I were able to look back and see what I had done right as it was happening I might be able to at least apologize for it.

At the least a life rear view mirror would keep me from going blissfully forward like the guy on the highway today with no idea the wrongs I have committed.  We tend to learn best from our mistakes as long as we knew we had made a mistake.  I am not advocating constantly looking behind but a more informed going forward.

 

To the guy who could not be bothered to look in his mirror, or even signal his intentions, I hope you learn your lesson before you hurt someone else.  Chances are the way you drive you won’t hurt yourself just others around you.


Someone Else Needs to Plan the Menu

 

 

If there is one thing I am always tired thinking about it’s, “What’s for dinner?”  For a person like myself who loves to cook, but is being particularly vigilant about what I will eat until I get down to my goal weight the answer is fairly simple.  I would just have a salad, but I am not alone in this world.  I have a not-picky-eater husband who likes spicy food and a picky daughter who does not and neither of them would be happy if I told them they were having a salad for dinner.

 

Dinner has become a meal that people thinks need to be something special, all the time.  How has this happened?  Breakfast is easy, there are a couple of choices and almost all of them are considered acceptable in my house.  Lunch, everyone is on their own.  I am never quite sure what my family is eating for lunch and I appreciate that they don’t torment me with descriptions of yummy meals I won’t let myself have.

 

But come dinnertime everyone wants different things at different times and different from things they might have had in the last thirty days.  I take back that last part about Russ, he is happy to eat leftovers, but I am wary of making too much of anyone thing that it might go uneaten.

 

I know I have created my own problem because I am a good cook.  I have raised the level of expectation to be a four star meal every night.  I would not even mind cooking at the James Beard level every night if only someone else would come up with the menu, buy the ingredients and guarantee that everyone would eat it without complaint.

 

I could just start cooking like most of America and make a simple meal of some bland meat, a starch and an overcooked green vegetable, throw it on the table and announce that is all there is so take it or leave it.  The issue is that it would get left and then the snacking meals would take over.

 

I never want to hear, “What do we have to eat?” again.  I wish I could do away with all extra food in the house so that the meal that is served is the best you are going to get so it would be appreciated.  If I have this much trouble with my forty plus years of cooking dinner I can only imagine the problems most people have.  It certainly is a first world problem since so many don’t have any choice about what they eat and I don’t just mean prisoners.


Football, the Last Bastion for Big Butts

 

 

Russ completed the installation of the last part of my walking desk Christmas present, a flat screen TV on the wall of my office to watch while getting my steps.  He argued for the largest one that would fit in the space and I talked him down to a smaller size.  Now as I walk and work I am confronted by images of people that are more than life size.

 

Today as the last four teams battle it out for the spots in the Super Bowl I am watching football.  I am not a crazy fan until it comes to these final games and then I watch with the intensity of a twelve-year-old boy.

 

With the HD LED giant screen a few feet from me at all times I am struck with the size of these offensive linemen.  Never before have I had such a close up shot of these athletes’ big back sides and ample love handles.  I know that these well-trained athletes are covered in pads and protective gear, except on their butts that are taking up a full 55 inches on my office wall.

 

It is nice to see that there is one place left in America where an ample backside is not just appreciated, but prized.  It’s not just butts but there are some ample stomachs barely restrained by their polyester uniforms out there on the field.  Now the running backs, and the QB’s hardly have an extra ounce of fat on them, but I am sure that they appreciate more than anyone those massive teammates there to protect them.

 

So hooray for the supersized, you make the game fun to watch.  I’m glad that there is one place left for those who are more than just large, but skilled and scary.  Football would not be the game it is if it were played by supermodels.


Moody Study, Really?

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In the world of medical research do you think that doctors are trolling the Internet looking for candidates for their studies?  If someone wrote on Facebook that they laughed so hard they almost peed in their pants, is that person then targeted for an incontinence study?  If someone tweeted they had a hard on for the pizza they ate last night will some researcher send them an invite for a sex study?

 

Today I received a personal invitation from the Women’s Mood Disorders Team for a study on the beneficial effects of hormones on mood and health.  The invitation was more like a greeting card and although it was from two doctors there was no mention of how they got my name, address or knew that I was actually perimenopausal.

 

If you are a regular reader of this blog you might be able to piece together enough information about me to infer that I could use some beneficial hormones, but you would have a hard time knowing if I had or had not already gone through menopause.  Since I just wrote my blog about anger yesterday they could not have read that and mailed my invitation to get here today.

 

I am intrigued with the general idea of the study but terrifically put off by the name of the group doing the study, “The UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders.”  Yes, women have moods, and some are in disarray, but I wonder if there is a corresponding “Men’s Mood Disorders” group?   I can think of quite a few moody men who could probably benefit from some beneficial hormones to help them out too.

 

I wonder how much my diet might affect my mood?  Is it possible I am nicer when I am not going through any sugar spikes or could I get generally cranky because I have not eaten any chocolate in months?  I probably am a good test subject since I have almost two years of daily documentation on my mood in this blog.

 

There was one post a few months ago when I got really angry about something, what I can’t remember now, but one reader who does not actually know me well read me the riot act for expressing my bad mood.  If ever I write something that pisses you off so much that you feel the need to write me a few dozen times and tell me, please just stop reading what I am writing.  I am not trying to put you in a mood.

 

I find the appearance of this invitation confirmation that women are moody and therefore let me off the hook for ever being in a bad mood.  If you are female and have not been in a bad mood then I want to know what you are on and I actually don’t want to know you.  How dull it must be to just be flat all the time and how in the world do you ever keep your family on their toes if they always think you are going to be happy?  Moody has some side benefits, but please don’t call it a disorder if you want people to join your study.


Anger, the Most Useless Emotion

 

 

Someone who does not know me well recently called me a “nice person.”   I was a little taken aback.  I looked at her as if she had two heads and considered that she was being sarcastic then I thought a little more.  Well, to her I guess I was nice.

 

As a younger person my childhood family might not have characterized me as “nice.”  I think that some of them might have described my younger self as angry, but never nice.  The more I thought about it the more I realized that I am much “nicer” and less “angry” than I used to be.

 

As I was growing up somewhere in adolescence I learned to use humor in all situations, when I was mad, or being nice, but it took a long time not to appear angry.  I have no idea when I finally gave up anger as my go to emotion, but I certainly think my health improved since I did.  Don’t get me wrong, I can get mad, really mad, but I am less likely to take that anger out on anyone now so perhaps others don’t notice it as much.

 

For me anger is a big waste of time and can cause derailment in living a healthy life.  I was talking to a friend about someone who had publically said how much she disliked me.  He mentioned that I was awfully nice to this person.  I replied that I was not angry with anyone who did not like me; it really did not affect me, just them.

 

Letting go of things I can’t change or that hurt or make me mad has enabled me to just be more balanced in everyway.  I still can have a sleepless night over something that is going wrong, but I am much more likely to get over it or see a problem as less important more quickly now.

 

I’m sure that through my life I must have “eaten my anger” because no one gets to be as fat as I was without eating for a reason other than hunger.  Of course eating is something pleasurable so it soothed over one problem just to create another.  Now I try and deal with one problem at face value and not let it multiply and turn into many problems.

 

Anger is one emotion I have realized has very little redeeming quality in the life I live now.  I don’t have to fight with anyone to stay alive unlike cavemen.  I do try and look at the funny in situations that used to make me angry.  I have no idea if cavemen used humor but it certainly is a more evolved emotion, at least in me.  I am in no way completely anger free, but I must be fooling enough of the people that someone mistook me for nice.  I am waiting for the day that some thinks of me a quiet.  I probably will actually be dead when that happens.


More Cook Than Gymnast

 

 

You really have to be coordinated to take care of your own sore muscles.  This is something I am not, meaning coordinated. Exercise is a major part of my day and I am not one of those women who live to workout.  I exercise for one reason, to lose weight.  I am not particularly interested in having a really tight and hot body.  The time for that is so long past.  I just want to get to a regular size that I can maintain and still get to eat every once in a while.  I do not experience any out of body nirvana from exercise, other things perhaps, but this is a PG rated blog.

 

Since I have been on the big push to reach my skinny clothes closet contents I have upped my exercise considerably.  Yes it works as long as I combine it with strict portion control and really smart healthy eating, blah, blah, blah – no secrets, no tricks, no short cuts, boring.

 

My trainer, who I see twice a week for half an hour, you can hardly call that much work out, has upped the weights I lift and the reps I do when I am with her in an effort to help tone, I guess.  Since I am doing the crazy amount of cardio at home I am happy to do something different at the gym.  The only problem is that heavy lifting is making my muscles ache.

 

I know that aching equals working, but I really hate pain.  Tiff, my trainer told me to get a foam roller so I can roll the pain away at home.  This sounds like a great idea, except that the muscles in my upper thighs that hurt the most are hard to roll when you are a klutz like me.

 

I have to perch myself on a big foam tube, and when I say foam it is not something spongy and soft, but a cylinder of hard torture.  Once I am lying with one leg on the roller and all my other parts sprawled out to keep me balanced like a seal on a ball, I am supposed to be able to roll my whole large body back and forth with the only contact being the already aching leg muscles on the hard roller.

 

Needless to say I am not good at this. Twice I have fallen right on my face because I rolled too far and could not stop my forward motion combined with gravity.  I told Tiff this was not working out for me and I needed more help since my leg muscles were about at the point that I could not lower myself onto the toilet without holding on to something.

 

Apparently the answer was a roller I was much more familiar and adept with, my rolling pin.  Now I take my little used kitchen tool since I certainly am not making any piecrust and push it hard on my sore leg and roll back and forth from where I am told the pained muscles attach to my bones.  Why in the world did no one tell me about this before?  It is so much easier to roll my own muscles in a seated position and not be expected to balance myself at the same time.

 

I’m sure the foam roller is considered the best option since it take the weight of my whole body and pushes it against my taxed muscle, but since I am not trying to make any Cirque du Soleil team I am just going to use the rolling pin.


I’m Obviously No Cinderella

 

 

Fashion is not my thing.  I have never really been interested in following trends or wearing the latest and greatest clothes.  I have always liked fairly classic and timeless stuff and thanks to a number of friends who sell or have sold clothes in their homes for Doncaster, Carlisle, Etc. and Worth I have tended to buy good enough quality of those more timeless pieces.

 

Since shopping for clothes is more of a chore than a treat for me I tend to hold on to what I have.  This has proven to be a good strategy as I have lost weight.  I currently have full-on wardrobes in between six and eight sizes.  The bad news is that if I gain weight I have something to wear, but since I am on a downward slope the good news is that I have something to wear that is smaller and practically new to me.

 

Yesterday I went to my closest of skinniest clothes, otherwise known as the closet of dreams.  It has been about five years since I could wear most of the items housed in this crypt of reminders, “you were fairly thin once.”  I went to this closet because I have a black-tie affair to go to next week and when I put on my current closet’s choices they were all too big.

 

This would normally be most women’s dream come true.  For me it is more like a pain in the you-know-what since I hate to buy something new under a deadline and I certainly don’t have much time in my calendar to shop.  Once I started flipping through the rack I decided to try on the smallest items just to see where I fit in the Dana’s endless wardrobe continuum.  Much to my surprise I was able to get in all but the very smallest size, and of those there were not many.  I promptly moved a few season appropriate items to my regular closet.  I tried to weed out some of the too big items to go to a third location that I hope I never have to visit again, but I still have a lot more trying on to do.

 

The bad news was I did not find a dress I want to wear next week.  I found a good blouse, but no bottom.  I found a bottom that I could take in, but no top that went with that.  Now I am thinking about shopping, ugh.  You would think that shopping for a newly skinnier person would be a joy, except for the sales people, the money I don’t want to spend on a dress I hope to shrink out of, the driving hither and yon.  The only good part for me is possibly the steps I would get walking from my car to a store and throughout a store shuffling aimlessly, gathering choices and going into a poorly lit dressing room where I don’t want to take my shocks off because the carpet is so nasty, but looking at myself in a black tie outfit with my short black socks on is so unattractive that I become discouraged.

 

Why can’t I have a fairy godmother who with the twist of her wand-laden hand could drape me in the perfect outfit fit for a ball, complete with perfectly fitting beautiful shoes?  I would not even care that I would have to get home before midnight, or bear the embarrassment of being seen in my normal tater wear, we all know that I will be home by ten no matter what.  I also guess I need to remind Russ about this event so he can get his twenty-two year old wedding tux out of the closet. I guess you can say I was his fairy godmother since I convinced him to buy his tux for our wedding knowing he would get so much use out of it.  I wish women had that same option.


One Last Simple Pleasure Gone

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As a person who has been working on losing weight most of my life I decided long ago not to drink my calories.  I really like to eat and that usually means solid food.  So I stopped drinking alcohol at 23, and yes if I found my lost underpants I might take it back up, but that’s another blog.  I never drank sodas because as a child the only time I ever was given cola was when I had a tummy bug so I forever associated soda with vomiting.

 

Since juice is nothing but sugar that has been banned from my glass leaving me with two basics drinks I down in gallons daily, iced tea and water.  I do drink a decaf espresso as a treat on some afternoons, but other than that I have a fairly limited drink menu.

 

Since my 20 ounce glass is almost always by my side with a cold drink I am very attached to my refrigerator icemaker that dispenses crushed ice.  I really like a lot of ice and not big giant cubes that can fall forward on your face while drinking and splash tea all over the bodice of my shirt, but the tiny small pieces that let the liquid filter through them as you tilt the glass up.

 

My friend Jan and I both really like the small-aerated ice pieces that sonic drive-ins have.  She has deeply researched those types of icemakers only to discover they are only available commercially with no plans on making a home model.  Good thing since I don’t have a place to install one anyway and therefore remain dependant on my refrigerator.

 

With all this build up about my love of ice, really when you are as calorie started as I am, zero calorie ice is a big thing, I am now going to complain about my icemaker.  Two weeks ago the four-year-old machine just stopped making ice.  Russ tried all the factory recommended tests that you have to have an IEEE for (that’s a master’s in electrical engineering) with no luck.

I called the factory authorized repair service and was told I had to wait more than a week for someone to get to Durham, as if it were a small town in the middle of Montana.  Today the repair arrived and although I had already told them that we needed a new icemaker and to bring one with them they did not bring the right one.

 

After testing to confirm what my overly qualified husband repair man had determined was the case and calling the factory to consult one hour and many dollars later I was told that a new unit had to be ordered and I was going to have to go without machine made ice for another week.  I am also going to have to wait at home for the repairman to show up one minute before the three-hour arrival time window ends.  How horrible.

 

Ice is one of my last pleasures in life.  Yes, I buy ice at the store and I could put an ice tray in the freezer, but I am addicted to the filtered water, crushed clear ice that comes from my machine.  If we had a sonic in Durham I would go there and buy ice, but alas I am not going to drive to Mebane for my fix.


Palette Expansion

 

 

Do you ever go to a clothing store and buy something and when you get it home and put it in your closet you discover you already have five items that are its twin?  You don’t even have to go look at your closet to say yes, especially if you are a middle-aged woman.  Naturally we are drawn to the same things over and over again.  In your defense as far as clothing goes you probably already know which colors and cuts look best on you, but there is something about looking at a store full of clothes that draws your eye to what you already have.

 

The same thing happens when we go to the grocery store.  A giant building full of thousands of different products and you probably buy mostly the same things over and over again.  Now you don’t have the “that soup looks good on me,” defense, but you may say, “I already tasted that and know I like it.”  There is one unattractive word for this buying the same thing over and over again phenomenon, “RUT.”

 

I am not a clothes expert and I do own more black pairs of pants than I can wear in a season, so I don’t know how to solve the clothing problem.   Of course you can buy something out of your element and it can hang, tags still on, in your closet never worn.   So the clothing rut is a more expensive problem.

 

But as far as food goes I do have a few suggestions to spice up your eating.  Actually spice is my suggestion.  Next time you go to the grocery stand in the dry spice aisle and blindly pick a new bottle of something.  Now if you are not that adventurous pick wide-eyed, but chose something you have never used before, like turmeric or smoked paprika.  Once you are at home with your new ingredient just do a Google search for recipes that use that spice and make one.

 

There is a great website called Smitten Kitchen by a blogger who takes great cookbook recipes and creates them in a step by step way with good photos, so if you are a truly unadventurous cook you can follow the steps easily.  If you really can’t find a recipe that uses your chosen ingredient message me and I will help you.

 

The whole point of this exercise is to expand your and your family’s taste buds with very little investment.  What you end up making does not have to be so foreign if you are just using a new spice with some familiar ingredients like a chicken or carrots.  The point is just to push yourself one step beyond where you normally go.

 

I seem to have every spice in the grocery store already so I can’t do the blind picking, but I do have a number of very exotic spices I bought on vacations and have never used so I will practice what I am preaching and am going to open one up and create a new recipe with it.

 

The good thing about trying this palette expansion with a spice is that it probably has few if any calories.  That makes January the perfect time to experiment.  So post back to me what you end up buying and trying.  I’m here to help so get out of your rut.


Roast Green Beans, Pearl Onions and Cherry Tomatoes in a Balsamic Glaze

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I walked on my treadmill and needle pointed today after Church and could not think of anything to write about so I went to the freezer to see what needed to be used up so I could create a recipe for the blog.  I found a lovely bag of frozen pearl onions from Trader Joes, a bag of fresh green beans was in the veggie drawer and a pint of cherry tomatoes on the counter.  Here it goes

 

1 lb of pearl onions- I used frozen so I thawed them in the microwave

1-½ lbs. of green beans with the stem end cut off

1-pint cherry tomatoes

1 T. honey

3 T. Balsamic Vinegar- I used a really good one that is thicker than most

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  On a half sheet pan covered with foil and sprayed with Pam put the green beans in a single layer and put in the oven to roast for about 20 mins. or until browned.

 

On a second sheet pan covered with foil put the thawed pearl onion in a single layer and place in the same oven and cook until they are brown, about 20 mins.

 

When both are cooked put the cherry tomatoes in a skillet and put on a medium high heat on stove, add the honey and vinegar and cook until the cherry tomatoes just start to burst.  Add the green beans and onions and salt and pepper to taste.


The Walking Desk Report

 

 

Two weeks ago Russ put together my new walking desk.  I have gathered a crazy amount of data based on my fitbit, my walking desk and my scale and I think that the results are worth reporting.  I will start with the bottom line so if you are actually interested you can read on.  In the two weeks since I got the desk I have lost 4.8 pounds.

 

A little more than two pounds a week is a very good rate for me given the following factors:  I am a fifty two year old woman, in the two months before I got my walking desk I had lost ten pounds.  So this 4.8-pound lost was not new weight I was losing, nor just water weight loss that is normal when you just begin reducing.

 

Thanks to my friend Jan who turned me onto my fitbit I had been trying to get 10,000 steps a day since the end of October.  It was hard.  I just met my goal most days by having to run around the house late at night.  I think that the late night push to get to 10,000 steps did not help my sleeping and I don’t think that walking around the dining room table was the best way to keep up my pace.  But I was losing weight at 10,000 steps, which was a big improvement from before the fitbit.

 

Enter the walking desk.  I started doing all my computer work and walk at the same time.  Some things started happening; the bills were paid ahead of time, e-mails were responded too in a timelier manner, I wrote my blog earlier in the day, I was reaching my 10,000 goal by two in the afternoon.

 

I upped my goal to 12,500 but my daily average was more like 15,000-17,000 steps a day.  I was sleeping better because I was not exercising after 7:00 at night.  I was doing other exercises to stretch out my legs and get some arm workouts in.  My little used office has never been so organized and the laundry even gets folded more quickly because I do it while walking at my desk.

 

I do write my blog while walking and you regular readers will have to weigh in if the quality has gone way down.  I try and proof read things while sitting at my regular desk just to make sure I am making as much sense as I regularly do and you all get what you pay for.  I can’t hand write letters while walking unless I want to appear that I have aged about forty years.  I can talk on the phone while walking and so far no one has noticed any background noise.   I just don’t seem to notice that I am walking while I am working.

 

I have been asked by a few people to post a video of what it looks like so I am doing that here. Dana’s Walking Desk on You tube.  I try and not use this blog to promote products and I get no money from so if you want to know what kind it is, send me a message and I will let you know.

 

I have been eating the same way so I think that I can say the desk is the only difference.  It’s a significant enough improvement to warrant this report.  I am not going to do a controlled study and not use it for two weeks to see what happens.  We all know I am no scientist.


Take My Card

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Carter has been home with a tummy ache for the last two days so I have tried to stay close to home.  I did some cleaning out of my shirt drawers, the downstairs refrigerator and then some old files in my office.  I know it all sounds very random and it was.  There is so much reorganizing, cleaning out and throwing away to be done at my house that it feels overwhelming.  I know that it might be more effective to pick one room or closet and completely clean that before I move on to a new place, but that requires a level of concentration and dedication that I don’t seem to have.

 

While cleaning out my office I came upon a business card for me as “Nude Photographer.”  Read that as you like!  The card was a joke that my great college friend Laura Sherck made for my twenty-first birthday and put in every mailbox in the whole college.   The worst part about it was she put my real phone number on the card.

 

Back in the day if you had a card you were whatever that card said you were!  I can’t remember how many calls I got from her joke, but somehow the many cards she got printed up ended up being highly circulated.  I do recall fielding an inquiry from so old man who called to see if I would take photos of he and his wife.  I stopped him fairly quickly before he got to the question of exactly who would be nude, the photographer or the subjects.

 

I learned from that experience the power of the card.  When I got out of college and had a real job my card read “Sales Engineer.”  I sounded so much more highly qualified to sell mail opening and extracting machines as an engineer.  Little did anyone know that I barley passed calculus.

 

While selling machines I also had a catering business on the side.  It was a highly “unofficial” business, but I had cards.  À la Carter – creative caterers, with just my phone number.  I certainly could not put down an address since I cooked out of my home kitchen.  No one ever seemed to ask.  I had a card that was all they needed to know.

 

Now a days anyone can make themselves cards on their computer so they don’t hold quite the sway they once did.  Now I guess if you have a website you are more official, but just like cards, anyone can make one.  I’m just glad that the web did not exist when I was in college.  Lord knows what kind of joke website Laura Sherck might have created for my birthday.  Luck for me I have changed phone numbers a few dozen times since college but if it was a website it could follow me forever.


The Velveetalike Affair

 

 

Picture a cartoon like corporate office, not unlike Mr. Burn’s office in the Simpsons.  There sits an old corporate raider, bald, who happens to look just like Mr. Burns, hunched over his gigantic desk with a wall of windows looking out on the factory floor where billions of pounds of Velveetalike are being produced.  His office door opens and his sniveling assistant, akin to Smithers, walks in with a big graph showing sales of Velveetalike are plummeting.

 

Mr. Burnslike:  “Smitherslike, what is going on?  Why are people not buying our not-real-cheese man made product?

 

Mr.: Smitherslike:  “Well it’s January and the giant fat population of America has been brain washed into thinking that they have to lose weight this month since they ate too much in November and December.”

 

Mr. Burnslike:  “But in February are they going to go back to consuming our liquid gold calorie laden faux cheese?”

 

Mr. Smitherslike:  “Yes in a big way because the Super Bowl is in February and that is the biggest eating day of the year.  Velveetalike makes up at least 25% of the calories consumed that day.”

 

Mr. Burnslike:  “Yes.”  He says drumming his long thin fingers together in an evil way.  “ Velveetalike is perfect on all foods consumed while people talk through football and watch the commercials.  I like the newest craze of melting it on Krispy Kremelike donuts.”

 

Mr. Smitherslike:  “Yes boss, but your bonus this year is dependent on how much we sell in the first two weeks of the year.”

 

Mr. Burnslike:  “What?  Quick we need a scheme to get people to buy our faux cheese now, since it has a shelf life of 19.34 years it will keep until the Super Bowl.”

 

Mr. Smitherslike:  “All the news and talk shows are talking about is dieting how can we get Velveetalike in the news?”

 

Mr. Burnslike:  Looking out at billions of boxes of cheese, “If we were to tell people that there is a possibility of a Velveetalike shortage come the Super Bowl I’m sure we can get everyone to make a run on the supermarkets now.”

 

Mr. Smitherslike:  “But Boss, we have plenty and there is nothing stopping us from making more.”

 

Mr. Burnslike:   “I know that and you know that.  I only said there might be a POSSIBILITY of running out.”


Dana’s Version of Wagamama’s Hot Pot

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I got a bunch of requests for this recipe after my post yesterday about my trip to the Asian Market to buy the ingredients.  I don’t usually post other people’s recipes since I try and keep pure to ones I create, but I changed theirs some so here is my version.  It makes a great light meal for those of you who are still keeping to your resolutions.

Mine took a while to make since I made my own homemade chicken stock, but after going to all that trouble I feel like a good quality stock in the box would be exactly the same, but a whole lot easier.

3 C. Good Chicken Stock

1 T. Dashi No Moto – that is instant Dashi and the brand at Li Ming is HonDashi

1 T. Mirin, sweet rice wine  (You can use vermouth)

1 T. soy sauce

3 boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite size strips

1 C. Sugar Snap Peas

1 C. fresh oyster mushrooms cut into bite size pieces

3 C. Napa Cabbage cut in 1-inch strips

4 Scallions cut into ½ inch pieces, green and white

2 C. Mung Bean Sprouts

Handful of chopped Cilantro

4 T. Fish Sauce

Cooked Noodles, sobu, ramen or udon – optional

Siracha sauce-optional

Put the chicken stock, dashi, Mirin, and soy sauce in a saucepan and bring to a boil, add the chicken, reduce to simmer and cook for three minutes.

While that is cooking divide up the mushrooms, cabbage and scallions and noodles if you want them, into four large bowls.

After the chicken is cooked add the sugar snap peas and cook for just one more minute. Ladle the hot broth, chicken and peas over the other vegetables and sprinkle with bean sprouts, one Tablespoon of Fish Sauce per bowl to taste and a little cilantro on top.  I like to add siracha sauce for a little heat.  Enjoy!


A Gringo at the Asian Market

 

 

Officially it is the coldest day on record for this date in Durham.  It is probably a record-breaking day in most of America.  Lucky for me it is not snowy or icy, just freezing.  Cold days like this are a two-soup day for me.

 

I started my day being fitted for a new crown on my back molar so the idea of chewing was a little daunting since I could hardly speak normally with half a numbed up face.  After the joy of drilling and impression creating biting I decided to stop at the Asian Superstore to get a few items to make a Japanese hotpot soup for dinner.  Carter had given me a Wagamama’s cook book for dinner and the last time I was this cold was last March in London with Carter eating at Wagamama’s – it all made sense in my mind.

 

Bundled in my 30 year old full-length mink coat, big scarf and gloves with only half a moveable face from Novocain I ventured alone into the Asian Market.  The place was practically empty since the rest of the world was heeding the don’t-freeze-your-face-off-warnings and stayed home.

 

Most of the stuff I needed to buy I could figure out by sight, oyster mushrooms, Napa cabbage, snow peas, scallions, cilantro.  In the vegetable section I was a pro.  I went next to find fish sauce, Miran, a sweet rice wine and dashi no moto, to make a broth with.  The Asian market is divided into nationality sections.  All the Japanese in one place, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, but they are not marked in English.

 

Every aisle has soy sauce, hundreds of kinds; thank goodness I was not buying that.  Many aisles had noodles, good luck finding the ramen I was buying for Carter.  I eventually found the sushi vinegar and figured I was in the Japanese section.

I found fish sauce, and Miran, but Dashi which was my whole reason for going to the Asian market was nowhere to be found.  I searched for someone who worked at the store, but they must have stayed home, no one to ask.

 

Eventually another human came by, a nice Mexican woman who looked as lost as I did.  She saw the fish sauce in my cart and pointed at it as if to ask where I got that.  I pointed to it on the bottom shelf.  I took a chance and showed her the word Dashi on my list.  She looked me in the eye and then just over my shoulder and pointed it out right behind me.  I could have been in that store all day and missed the tiny jar since it was called HonDashi, sounds like a car to me.photo

 

Now my stock is simmering on the stove.  I hope this tiny jar of instant dashi is good since my mouth knows what a Wagamama’s real hot pot is supposed to taste like.  Even if it is different it will at least be warm and I think that is what counts on a day like this.


Just When You Think It Is A Good Day

 

 

Today started out good.  Carter went back to school, my trainer reported that I was winning the January steps contest in the first three days of a month long challenge, I got my haircut, wrote my article for the magazine, had a finance meeting and a good salad for lunch.  Russ called at three to check in and I told him I was having a good, productive day without any drama… I spoke too soon.

 

Just after I hung up I got a call from one of my favorite people on earth who lives here.  After she asked me how New Years was and I whined on about missing Christmas she dropped the bomb on me, “We’re Moving to Dallas.”

 

Suddenly I was back in fifth grade when my best friend announced on the last day of school that her family was moving, same pit in my stomach, what-about-me-selfishness feeling.

 

Now this move to Texas is a great one for their family work wise so of course I am happy for them, but these are friends that are on the top of our list to spend time with since we like the whole family, they have similar sense of humor as we do and are not just fun, but smart fun.  We met them at a dude ranch where we were the least dude like people at the place and immediately bonded over the bad food.

 

My friend said, “Look, you can come to Dallas on your way anywhere.”

 

“Yeah, “I mopped, “like on my way to London I can go through Dallas.”

 

“Yes,” she encouraged me.

 

“Yeah and on my way to Greensboro, I can go through Dallas.”

 

I know how these things work.  I can go through Dallas, but it will be hard, especially when I have another good friend in Houston who I don’t visit enough.  Sure I have always been the Big D and Dallas considers itself the Big D so it seems like I should spend more there, but I also should spend more time in New York visiting friends, and Boston and, and and.

 

I texted Russ to let him know and his one word response was “F#$k.”  He does not say that much about that many.  Now I have to have a pity party for myself and one without chocolate, even though this is a friend who I love more than chocolate.


Funny What We Remember

 

My uncle Wilson, Grandad, Granettes and My father, at Pawleys Island 1972

My uncle Wilson, Grandad, Granettes and My father, at Pawleys Island 1972

 

Today while I was walking at treadmill desk folding laundry I had a flashback to a letter I received from my Grandmother when I was in boarding school.  It was not a letter about much; in fact it was about so little that I have remembered all these years later.  Granettes, as I called her wrote, “Today I vacced the curtains and ran around the dining room table fifty times for exercise.”  Oh God! I have turned into my grandmother about twenty years early.

 

One of my favorite sayings is, “One day I put my arm in my coat and out came my mother’s hand.”  I think that Jean Harris, the ex-headmistress of Madeira and Scarsdale Dr. killer wrote that in one of her books, but don’t quote me on that.  We just never know when traits of people we are related to are going to surface and usually they appear long before we recognize where they come from.

 

I think that my boarding school fifteen-year old self thought about my Grandmother vacuuming the curtains as the most mundane and boring thing and worse yet it was committed to paper in her letter to me.  Now don’t get me wrong, at boarding school I was thrilled to receive any mail at all, the proof being that I still remember that letter, but it was the late 1970’s and I certainly felt like women had progressed beyond house work.

 

Certainly my Grandmother had.  She taught reading to people who were deemed unteachable well before learning differences were a recognized diagnosis, but she never wrote me about doing that.  Granettes also took in people who were otherwise shut out by society, but she did not write me about that, or perhaps she did and I don’t remember.

 

So here I walk, writing, folding laundry and answering e-mail in a similar way to my Grandmother running around the dining room table to get exercise.  “I put my leg in my pants and out came my grandmother’s foot,” in an homage to Jean Harris.

 

I know that my fifteen year old cannot recognize my traits in herself yet, but they are there. Carter will have this blog to look back at and reference. I wonder how old you have to get before you can see these things?


Repurposing Leftover Torture

I am cheep.  I come by this naturally from an unnamed relative’s side of the family.  Although this relative hates to throw food out even when it has gone on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide side, that being either penicillin or poison, I am more concerned with food safety.

 

In order to satisfy both my penurious and life saving sides I took some leftovers and repurposed them.  I made a bolognaise sauce from our leftover short ribs that Russ and Carter claimed was way fab.  Then I made homemade vanilla ice cream with flourless chocolate cake chunks folded it.

 

Both of these items enabled me to change what Carter thinks of as leftovers, and therefore is disinterested in them into totally new food.  The best part is that they are foods that can or should be frozen so I have significantly extended their shelf life.

 

The bad part for me is that I can’t share in their deliciousness.  Usually repurposing involves making something more fattening in its change up.  I have rarely been able to lengthen the life of an ingredient and make it salad ready at the same time.  Casseroles, sauces, wicked desserts are better remake candidates.

 

Soup is the only really good repurpose healthy food.  It is wonderful to take a dwindling carcass and some great veggies and make a hearty soup.  Sadly I did not have any of those today.  I did make myself a really nice egg white omelet with some of my friend Sara’s roast broccoli she brought to my house.  I had the egg whites leftover from making the vanilla ice cream and I am certainly the only person in our house that will eat leftover broccoli.  The omelet was the perfect answer because I hate creating new leftover ingredients when repurposing other leftovers.

 

When I was in college a sorority sister Lisa used to look at the weekly menu posted on our hall bulletin board and follow the food through the week; roast chicken – Sunday, Open faced hot chicken sandwiches – Tuesday, Chicken salad – Wednesday and Chicken noodle soup- Friday.  Certainly the food service had to add more chicken somewhere along the week, but they were hedging their bets incase it did not all get eaten.

 

For me the secret is not in the reworking food, sometime the second dish is way better than the first,  my issue is making sure I take it out of the freezer and serve it.  Since it is rarely in my calorie wheel I have to convince someone else that they want a frozen meal.  Being homemade is not the big selling point here.  I hope the ice cream goes before I hit some monthly craving and remember it’s in there.


Officially My Least Favorite Day

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Today is officially my least favorite day of the year so it’s nice to get it out of the way so every other day this year can be better.  This is the day that I strip my house of all things glittery, shinny and twinkling bright, and put the Christmas ornaments away.  To be truthful I am not done putting it all up yet so tomorrow will be my second least favorite day.

 

See, with 31 hinged-toped crates, nine giant bags, six odd-shaped specialty boxes and seven larger-than-a-piano Christmas tree bags it is a lot to put away.  That does not include the flowerpot soldiers, large lanterns, The Happy Birthday Baby Jesus wire glitter tree and the larger and more tasteful wire tree.  I also have not taken down this year’s addition to the Christmas extravaganza, the needlepoint garlands.  I am not sure I have enough hinged-top crates and this may mean a trip to Costco tomorrow.  If our attic ever caves in and kills us in our sleep the headline should read, “Crushed by her love of Christmas.”

 

The other thing that just happened to occur today that adds to its sadness is the postman returned four Christmas cards I sent as “UTF.”  Sounds like a sexual disease, but it means “Unable to Forward” or, as Elvis would have said it, “Return to Sender.”  One of the cards is my fault, I had two addresses for my friend Tom and his wife Ev and I chose the wrong one, but the others are for friends whose only contact was the Christmas card.

 

These people who are not Facebook friends, or that we even have valid e-mail addresses for are probably lost for good.  I also got two misdirected pieces of mail that were for neighbors.  One was for a neighbor who passed away and the other was for a neighbor who had moved about 16 years ago.  Neither of these envelopes had return addresses and I guess that the postman figured I might know where they should be sent since after living here for 20 years we are the longest residence still around.  Sadly, I have no idea where these cards should go, so the senders will go on thinking their well wishes were received.  Maybe that is better than getting them back “UTF.”

 

Since this is my least favorite day I finally got around to getting Carter and myself our flu shots.  I know it’s late, but I was waiting for the joy of the holidays to be over so I did not ruin a good day.

 

Good-bye holidays, good-bye the glow of the lights of the tree, hello darkness and cold of January.  At least the days are getting a few minutes longer now and I can begin to dream of spring break and summer vacations.  Time to start researching foreign lands and new memories to make.


Did You Weigh Yourself Today?

I have a friend who worked hard to lose weight last year.  She did a great job eating salmon with lemon and spinach at lunch until she got to her goal weight.  Today she confessed that she got on the scale this morning for the first time since October and had gained six pounds.  When she did the calculations it worked out to just about one glass of wine and half a cookie extra each day in those three months to gain six pounds.

 

One glass of wine and half a cookie does not seem like much but if she had just 230 extra calories everyday all year she would gain twenty four pounds in a year.  Now how does that wine and cookie sound?

 

I like to get on the scale every morning.  I know there are people who say they only do it once a week or once a year at their physical exam, but I need a daily reminder so that I don’t have that extra 230 calories for a couple of days in a row.

 

If I was not very good the day before not getting on the scale is not going to make it disappear. Accountability to myself means that I have to face the music, and dealing with it right away rather than three months later is much easier.  If I ate 400 calories more than I should yesterday I can eat 200 fewer for the next two days and at least get back to a zero sum game.  One pound gained is 3,500 calories more than you needed.  That is fairly easy to do.  3,500 less than you need is really hard.

 

That same accountability is what I need for exercise.  That is why keeping count of my steps has been a huge boon for me.  Carter wanted to go horse back riding today.  I said I would take her and get my steps in then.  I also brought Shay Shay for a good walk for her.  Of course it started raining as soon as we got to the barn.  Carter said I could sit in the car, but she did not understand this was the allotted time in my day to get my steps.  Since I am not a runner walking 10,000 steps takes some time.  Time is a luxury.

 

Shay and I circled the farm traipsing through horse you-know-what in the rain.  When we both looked like wet rats covered in poop we went to the car and stripped down. Carter volunteered to give Shay a bath when we got home which seemed like a fair trade. Tomorrow I am going to have to do a through cleaning of the inside of my car.

 

Just like calories in, walking, working out or other exercise is already calculated in my day.  Without working some of the calories off, and I know that my totally efficient body does not work off half as much as the exercise machines predict it is burning, I could easily stop losing and start gaining.  Those tiny amounts add up quickly.

 

If your resolution is to get in better shape, take note of how hard it is to get those pounds off.  The worst thing is to lose them only to find them again, soon and quickly.  Trust me on this, I am an expert and I would love to save you the yoyo heartache.


Don’t Hate January, It’s December’s Fault

 

Welcome to January, the month of guilt, regret and deprivation.  I swear that December is so naughty just to make you hate January.  In December you are practically encouraged to live it up like there will never be another chocolate peppermint stick cheesecake on earth so you better get as much of it as you can in December.  Nothing about December encourages health.  Go hog wild because January is coming and you know what is going to happen in January, lonely, cold, suffering, withdrawal and denial.

 

If you lived December as if it were your last then it is time to pay the price for actually staying alive.  Every magazine, TV commercial, talk show and the like are now telling you to face the music your wrote in December; the you-ate-too-much-drank-too-much-exercised-too-little song that your hips are now singing.  It stinks.

 

It took me fifty-two year of living to learn not to be seduced by December.  Yes, Christmas is still my favorite time of year, but not because of the food, I have learned to love the decorating more because it has no calories, as long as I don’t lick the gingerbread house.

 

I took on the last two months of the year with great gusto to not gain weight during the “eating season.”  Please don’t hate me when I tell you that I woke up this morning and got on the scale and weighed less on the first day in 2014 than I did on any day in 2013, except for the morning I went for my colonoscopy.   Now I am still twenty pounds away from a weight I would really like to get to and stay, and stay and stay, but I am thrilled that I did not ramp up in December just so I could jump into January with the rest of the diet resolution population.  I actually don’t think I have ever had a year where my resolution was not about losing weight and it still is.

 

If you are in the majority and are looking to drop those holiday pounds and any others you found this year or in previous years it is never too late to start.  There are many ways to lose weight and almost all of them work if you just stick to it.  There is one bit of wisdom I learned at Weight Watchers so many years ago that holds true to any diet plan, “Show up, pay attention, ask questions, don’t quit.”

 

I would like to add something that really helps me, “Make it public.”  If you tell people you are trying to lose weight you are more likely to stick with it or get back to it if you veer off than if you keep it a secret.  It is rarely a secret that you need to lose weight, if you really do, everyone can see it.

 

If you want to join me in my twenty-pound push to the goal line send me a message, either privately or publically.  I will keep it quiet if that is what you wish, but even just sharing the burden with one person lightens the load.

 

So Happy New Year!  I hope that December did not add to your troubles and that January is the start to your best year yet.