Don’t Let Me Buy More Black Pants

 

 

Today I did a task that has been on my list for months.  I tried on all my hanging clothes in three closets.  Don’t think I have so many clothes because I have three closets.  We just live in an old fashioned house with small closets.

 

Not that long ago I moved all the clothes that were really too big out and was left with the clothes I knew fit right then and the clothes I wanted to fit into in the future.  Well I figured the future was getting close enough so I wanted to try everything on and sort the clothes.  The categories were: clothes I loved and could fit into right now and were season appropriate, ones that were out of season or about to be out of season but fit, clothes that would fit when I lose five to ten pounds that I love, clothes that are just too big and even though I love them I should not wear them, and the what was I thinking buying that I never want to wear it not matter how thin I get.

 

I looked like one of the clothes guys on seventh avenue rolling racks of clothes down the street as I tried on and shuffled things between rooms.  I think it was most horrifying for Carter who came up to my floor as I was rolling the rack down the hall in only my bra and granny panties.  Surely I have scared her for life.

 

After all the sorting I put the love it and can wear it now clothes in my primary closet in an organized, short sleeve blouses, long sleeve blouses, sweaters, pants, dresses, suits in rainbow order.  These were clothes that I have bought over a number of years, as I have been this size a couple of times.  What was very evident is that I never need to buy black pants this size ever again.  Black pants out numbered any other group of clothing by at least four to one.  White blouses were a distant second.  Based on those two things you would think I was a waitress or a young Mormon man.

 

Tomorrow I get to tackle the folded clothes in various dresser drawers.  Then it’s time to take on the shoes.  I know I have pairs that are twice as old as my teenager and they need to go.  Shoes are easy since now I don’t wear anything that is not comfortable so I bet I can get down to about six pairs. Let’s hope they are not all brown since I only have black pants.


Calling All Pure Barre Neophytes

 

 

Three times now I have gone to take a Pure Barre Class.  I think I am getting a little better at it, but I am such a novice I am not quite sure.  What I do know is that I am getting a big time workout because I am dripping in sweat halfway through the class.  I am unable to do every exercise or position the whole time, but I am trying.

 

Many of my local friends have expressed an interest in trying Pure Barre with me but are afraid to be the new person or the oldest person in the class.  Lynn and Charlotte have come to our rescue.  This Sunday at 4:30 there is a special Friends of Dana “Breaking Down the Barre” intro class at the Durham Studio.

 

This should be a helpful way to learn exactly what the hell “tucking” is and what all the other PB terminology is and how to do it.  If you have any curiosity about they Pure Barre mystique this will be the best opportunity to figure it out in the company of other understanding middle-aged friends.

 

Let me know if you want to come and join me.  The class will cost $15 or you can get a package of four classes for $40 or any other number of class packages.  The important thing is to come and have fun.  I need the company of good friends when I exercise.

 

Lynn says that after class there will be wine as a special treat just for us.   SO let me know if you can make it.  Bring your friends.  Laughing will be required, but not at how you do at the workout.


Arizona On The Wrong Side of History

 

 

A bunch of state politicians in Arizona came up with this bill, SB1062 that allows business owner to refuse service to anyone they want based on the owner’s religious beliefs.  The people supporting the bill say that it is not an anti-gay bill, but a religious freedom bill.  Come on people.  Religious freedom means you have the right to worship who and what you want, it does not mean that as a business you can pick and chose who to serve.

 

Nothing about your religion says you have to have a business, but if you do then you should serve all customers equally.  If this bill passes then not only will prejudice people find an excuse not to serve gay people but also all minorities could be in jeopardy based on the way this bill is written.  Any shortsighted, bigoted business owner could say their religion does not believe in African Americans, or Native Americans or Hispanics.

 

Business owners are down right crazy not to want to serve gay people.  Don’t they know they have more discretionary income than the average bigoted white guy?  If the gay community likes your business that usually means you are on the way up.  If you want to buy a house in an up and coming neighborhood when there is a lot of potential to make big bucks find out where the gay men are moving.  They are good for improving the neighborhood for sure.  Lesbians are loyal customers.  Once you have a devoted Lesbian following you will have steady income because if they like you they will be back and bring friends.

 

Gay rights are the civil right of our time.  Arizona is not only behind the times but taking more than a few huge steps backwards in history by even getting this bill this far.  Governor Jan Brewer is taking too long to veto this bill.  She says she will do what is right for Arizona, but the damage is done.  Those of us who have gay people themselves should not step foot in that state and give them any of our hard earned dollars.  Religious freedom is one thing, but lack of revenue is what worries most business owners.


Smash Day

 

 

Losing weight when you have extra pounds is a good thing, right?  But where it comes off and in what order is something most people just have control over.  I seem to melt like a candle losing from the top down with a little bit of losing from the bottom up with my feet getting thinner long before my thighs.

 

One area on the top that seems to go fast are my boobs, which is not a bad thing because if they did not get smaller as the rest of me did I would probably fall over.  The real problem is that the fat disappears but the skin sticks around.  Now my boobs are like blueberry pancakes with one blueberry each.

 

Thank goodness for modern day shape wear that can hoist, hold, mold and cup my malleable breasts into a more pleasing shape and no one is the wiser that I could tie them in a knot and throw them over my shoulder like a continental soldier.  That is until today.

 

Today was my annual smash day or mammogram day to use the correct terminology.  If you are a man or a woman under forty you don’t have intimate knowledge of the contraption they use to smash down a woman’s breasts to the flattest possible shape to take pictures of them.  In the mammogram community my kind of soft tissue, stretched out and pliable breasts are a bonus for the smash tech.  She can lay them on out and lower the clear plastic smasher cover on me without any trouble.  The pictures she snaps are perfect first take.  In the mammo tech world I am the client that gets them back on schedule.

 

So hooray that today my flabbiness made someone happy.  I appreciate the tech’s comments that I was the patient of the day.  I know why and she did not even have to spell it out.  Thanks for not mentioning my soft breast tissue like bra fitters do when they are trying to come up with the right bra to act as scaffolding for my chest yet is still comfortable.

 

364 days a year my boobs are usually undesirable, but one day, the day dedicated to their health they are just right.  No matter what kind of breasts you have get them smashed once a year.  Don’t listen to those men who think you don’t need a mammogram every year.  Get one anyway.  Whatever shape you are in you need to take care of them.


Giving Yourself Credit

 

 

I like credit.  Not the kind that involves money but the kind you get when you do something good.  That could explain why I am addicted to my fitbit.  I like getting credit for every step I walk.  I wear the thing to bed not so it can track how well I’m sleeping, but so it can count the 32 steps I take when I get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

 

I hate when I get an e-mail from my fitbit that tells me the battery is low in the middle of the day because it worries me to death that it is going to stop working before I have a chance to recharge and I will take a bunch of steps and get no credit for them.  I don’t know why it matters.  Only a couple of friends are part of my fitbit community and they don’t give two shakes if I get 140,000 steps in a week or 40,000.  Whatever this addiction is it is working for me.  Counting, credit, accountability I’m addicted to them all as long as they are created, and counted by me!

 

I was talking to a friend today who told me about someone who married a much older and much richer man who put a clause in her pre-nup agreement that said if she gained ten pounds he was allowed to divorce her.  Now that kind of accountability would work the total opposite on me.  I don’t like when someone else tells me what to do or sets the parameters for how I am supposed to live.  If I were married to that man I probably would gain the weight on purpose just to see what he would do.  I can’t imagine living under that kind of dictatorship.

 

I am sure that wife did not get credit for keeping to her weight range.  It was demanded so then it’s like a punishment and not a reward.  I wonder what other stipulations were in that pre-nup?  I’m sure that husband demanded his own kind of regular rewards.  That’s not a marriage; I think it’s called something else you pay for.

 

So many times people ask me how I’ve lost weight and then ask me if I could talk to one of their loved ones they wish would lose weight.  That is where I stop them.  No one can talk someone into wanting to lose weight.  Each person has to come to that decision on their own and only then will it be possible to happen.  It can’t be a clause in their life.

 

I take credit for what I have done, but I am thankful for the help my loved ones have given me.  I am mostly thankful that I have been loved at every weight up and down the scale.  I give my loved ones credit for their support.


Mindlessly Ruining a Good Look

 

 

When I was in boarding school I had plenty of friends who smoked cigarettes.  They were allowed to do it at any age as long as they had permission from their parents.  There was one room, the butt room where they were allowed to smoke and it was a disgusting and fowl smelling room that never tempted me to visit.

 

I once asked a friend who was a smoker why she did not smoke outside rather than in the gross butt room.  She said that a lady should never be seen smoking outside and the butt room kept her allusion of being a lady.  I think that Jackie Kennedy, who attended a rival school to mine, followed this rule.  There are no pictures of Jackie smoking even though she was a reported butt addict.

 

Today I was at a the grocery and I saw a very elegant lady, dressed in a St. John Knit suit get out of her new Mercedes coupe.  She was at least ten years older than I was and I thought she looked so nice compared to me in my tennis shoes and khakis.  That was until I looked at her face and saw her jaw bobbing up and down, mouth half opened as she chew a piece of gum.   She mashed away on the gum with no idea that she resembled a cow chewing its cud out in a field alone.  If only she were alone.

 

Just as “ladies” of the last century were schooled in the no smoking in public graces it seems like chewing gum needs to have a similar campaign.  Today’s St. John lady lost all elegant points because of the little wad of gum.  Perhaps it was nicotine gum and she needed it because she is not allowed to smoke inside public places anymore, but it that was the case she needs to learn about the patch.

 

I wish I had been bold enough to videotape her to show you how unattractive the gum chewing was, but then I surely could be sued for deformation of character if this woman ever saw my blog.

 

My mother started smoking when she was young because her mother told her to have a cigarette to help curb her appetite.  I know some people who chew gum to help them not eat.  Listen, the calories are worth not making you look a barnyard animal.  Gum chewing is fine in the privacy of your own home or car; just remember to spit it out before encountering the public.  Just don’t spit it on the ground that is littering.


Harris Beverage Good Guys

 

 

A few months ago my neighbor and friend Jay Harris who owns Harris Beverages the local Budweiser and other craft beer distributor told me about how much fun he had when he went to an national meeting and all the beer guys volunteered at the local food bank.  Knowing I am the chair of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC he asked me if we had volunteer opportunities at our food bank.  “Boy, do we,” came out of my mouth as fast as if I was a child being asked do you want candy and cookies for lunch.

 

See our food bank is in the top ten of the two hundred Feeding America Food Banks across the country in terms of volunteer utilization.  We have seven branches in our thirty-four counties and everyday we have volunteers working in our branches that more than double our paid work force.

 

Jay and I started to talk about what might be a good one-day job for Harris Beverages to do as a team building exercise for the whole company.  Now people can come and sort food, package potatoes or do any number of valuable jobs, but there was one thing I had in mind that was made for a group of strong men with big trucks so I floated the idea to Jay to have Harris help the Durham branch move from it’s old location to it’s new bigger branch.

 

The cost of moving would be thousands of real dollars to us if we had to pay for it.  Paying to move would have taken food away from people who need it.  If it cost us $8,000 that would equal $80,000 worth of food since we can turn every dollar into ten dollars worth of food.  But moving our warehouse was a big job.  Jay did not hesitate and got right on working out all the logistics with our staff.

 

This morning Harris beer trucks, pallet jacks and employees showed up early on a Saturday morning and moved us.  I hope they had fun because I know it was a big job.  That is the kind of corporate giving back that makes Harris a wonderful Durham company.  Thank you Jay for not even blinking an eye when I suggested helping with the move as a volunteer opportunity.  I am proud you are my friend.

 

To all the citizens of Durham and Chapel Hill if you are thinking about buying a beer this week or this month buy a Bud, or a Big Boss, Carolina Brewery, Sweet Water or a New Leaf Tea if you don’t like beer.  No one made Jay Harris volunteer to help the Food Bank.  We don’t give beer away as part of our mission to make sure no one in Central in Eastern NC goes hungry, but Jay wanted to do something to help us and boy did all those Harris Employees ever help.  So thank them by buying a beer.


Does Pain Equal Progress?

 

 

In a follow-up to yesterday’s deflowering at Pure Barre I think that the work out was working.  I woke up in the middle of the night to use the room all peri-menopausal women need to visit when we would rather be sleeping and could hardly get out of bed because my cheeks hurt so much.  No I had not been laughing uncontrollably in my sleep, it was the cheeks of a lower region.  After the initial double twinge at the bottom I noticed that my abs also were screaming out, just slightly softer than my backside.

 

I was able to drag myself to the bathroom where I am lucky enough to have a sink close enough to the thrown that I can hold on to it while lowering when I have taxed lesser used muscles.  Thank goodness the pain was not so bad as to keep me awake the rest of the night.  When I awoke at a good hour I lay still hoping that the rest had been enough to repair the pain I did not myself.  That was wishful thinking.

 

I have spent the day walking and have gotten about halfway back to normal.  I can at least use a public restroom without screaming out uncontrollably.  I am thankful not to have caused Mall security to have to visit me at the Nordstrom’s ladies lounge.

Now my butt and abs have equalized in pain and when I take very deep breaths and expand my lungs my stomach muscles make that ‘What the hell are you doing?” face at me.

 

My thought is that if I have taxed myself to the degree of pain it has got to be good for me, No pain no gain right?  I have not pulled anything.  It is not that kind of pain.  What I have learned over the years of having “Trainers” is that repeating the workout, or the hair of the dog, will help alleviate the hurt.  Under that premise I will return to Pure Barre tomorrow afternoon.

 

I know that adding different types of torture, as my friend Sara calls it, is the best way to keep my body from becoming complacent and adjusting to the level of activity it is getting.  Someday and I hope it is someday soon, I am going to be able to try a new form of torture and not have it compromise my ability to do everyday bodily functions.  Until then it seems like I am in need of these exercises.


Virgin No More

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For years my friend Lynn has been addicted to Pure Barre.  If you have not heard of this exercise obsession you might be living under a rock in North Korea or you are a middle-aged man.  The Barre, said like bar and has nothing to do with drinking, stands for the wooden ballet barre attached to the mirrored wall.  I don’t know why it’s called Pure because plenty of the exercises are done in the middle of the room with no bar to hold onto.

 

Lynn would ask me every once in a while if I wanted to go to class with her.  Since I was emotionally scared by my Russian ballet teacher Martha Kruger when I was ten I tend to stay away from those wooden dowels attached to mirrors.  Fear of being whapped on the back of the knees by a swift yardstick is a strong bad memory not to be repeated.

 

After years of being a student of Pure Barre Lynn and our friend Charlotte bought not just the existing Chapel Hill studio, but built a new one in Durham.  The craze was spreading and it was time for me to see what all these friends claiming their lifted derrieres was due to this class was all about.

 

Since I was a Pure Barre virgin and I was not interested in going to a class of well trained, well toned, very young people I asked Lynn to go with me.   Lynn is two of those three things so I knew she would look out for me.

 

The first thing I really liked about the class was the clothing rules, pants at least Capri length and shirts that covered your middle are required, check and check.  I refuse to put anyone through a class with me that shows my bare stomach.  The third clothing item is socks, but sticky socks are recommended.  Lucky for me Lynn hooked me up with a pair of the branded sticky socks that are supposed to help you stay in place.

 

As we entered the carpeted room where Rita out instructor was, Lynn staked out the perfect spot and gathered the equipment I would need, hand weights, a small red rubber ball like a grade school four square ball, but just the size of a cantaloupe, and looped stretchy bands.

 

The class began and clearly I was the only new student.  Rita helped me but there was only so much help I could get when planking.  Most of the exercises were familiar to a point until we got to tucking.  Tucking involved something akin to tilting my pelvis in and pulling my butt under me as much as possible.  I certainly do not have a grasp on exactly how to do it so don’t bank on my description.  I do think that twerking had to evolve out of tucking, but I am not exactly sure what twerking is either.

 

As others around me could hold one leg in the air, while lying on their back, tuck and lift to a pulsating beat I was just trying not to drown in the sweat pool I was creating around myself.  Perhaps I needed doubly sticky socks for some exercises that involved holding myself in place by one foot on the ground while lifting all my other parts.

 

When it was all over Rita said I did a good job for a first time student.  What was really nice of her not to say was I did really well for an uncoordinated, non-dancer, non-gymnast, and non-athlete middle-aged woman with no rhythm.  Other students gathered around me as I lay immobilized on the mat after class and told me it takes a little while to master the moves and then it gets harder.

 

When they said harder I hope they were talking about their backsides and not the class.  It was hard enough.  Like all things exercise I know that it takes a few tries before it should be judged.  I am measuring how low my butt is now and after I do this Pure Barre thing a while I will report if my backside is lifted.  Since I rarely look back there it has not been a big area of concern for me, but that seems awfully selfish to those people who have to walk behind me.


Not Killed By My Pants

 

 

A couple of weeks ago my trainer looked at me in my stretchy workout/yoga pants and told me I need to buy some smaller ones.  Really?  Stretchy black tight pants that have not worn out are just fine with me especially if they are not skin tight.  I am never going to wear a pair of those things out when I only wear them to work out and don’t live in them like real athletes do.  I also have no need for total body hugging since it is not like I am running so fast and am worried about drag.  The only drag I like is the kind that my Washington friends do when they borrow my old formal wear.

 

I had noticed that I had a little more room in the thighs of my yoga pants, an area that is almost always the tightest spot on me, but I was kind of enjoying non-thigh-clinging pants.  The idea of having to go try on athletic wear, even in a smaller size is not my idea of fun.  In the world of tight bodies I am still a non-performer.  The women who work out for a living and work at workout wear stores just for the discounts look at me as a failure athlete.

 

If I had a giant paper cutout of what I used to look like a hundred and forty five pounds ago they might treat me differently, but since I am still not a hard body and probably never will be, I am dismissed as a person who is buying yoga pants because they are stretchy and forgiving and not because I might actually do yoga, or lift weights or walk 20,000 steps a day, which by the way is over nine miles of my pitiful strides.

 

I continued to wear my baggy pants.  That was until yesterday when I was walking at my treadmill desk at a brisk 3.2 miles per hour that is almost running for me and my pants fell down.  I am happy to report I was coordinated enough not to have been dragged under the belt of the treadmill and strangled by my pants.

 

So my trainer was right.  I needed to stop wearing those too big pants.  I went to my trusty closet of dreams where the too small clothes live and found a lovely pair of barley used workout pants that seemed to fit the size I am now just fine.  The thigh area is a little tighter, the butt is definitely not as lose, but hey I did not have to go to one of those stores that makes me feel badly about myself.

 

I wish that the same people who conceived the Dove beauty campaign that celebrates all types of women would move into the workout wear segment.  If all women were praised for working out the body they have and not made to feel like they are unworthy if they don’t already have a perfect body then the sales of workout clothes would soar.  I doubt I will get to be a smaller size in yoga pants than the pair I am wearing now so I am going to have to baby the few ones I have.  I am happy with myself and don’t need to go in a store and have an hourly worker make me feel otherwise.


Compliments Go a Long Way

Today I got my second of two crowns in the New Year. Not my favorite thing to do, but better than the alternative. I have a really nice young Dentist, Andrew who came into his father’s practice a couple of years ago. I lay silently and still in the chair following all the instructions Andrew gave me as he checked and adjusted the tiny new molar. When we were almost done he said to me, “You are a really good patient.”

I thought it was a funny compliment. I just did as I was told and why wouldn’t I? I figure if I do something wrong it would make his job harder and that might cause me pain. Rather than asking what makes a good patient I just took the compliment and reveled in being good at something even if it was as small as being still and compliant.

Accepting compliments is an art I feel is under appreciated. So often when I tell a grown woman she looks good that day the comeback is hardly ever just, “Thank you.” More often than not the laudation is met with some discounting. “Oh no. The bags under my eyes are horrible,” or “I have not even had a shower today.” Those statements are not meaning to fish for more compliments, but they sometimes end up making me intensify the original statement. What I should say is, “Wow, if you look this good dirty imagine how great you would look if you put some effort in it.”

By not responding to my Dentist’s comment I was able to just enjoy being told I was good at something which does not happen as often as we need once we get to adulthood. Perhaps he did not mean to even say it out loud, but I’m glad he did. It made my day a little better and smoothed over any feeling I had about having to get the crown in the first place.

I have no idea if Andrew tells all his patients they are good, but his tone sounded very sincere. It seems like it would be the best client retention program ever if when you left the dentist you felt a little better about yourself and not just that your teeth looked better.

I think this practice could be adopted by all kinds of service providers. When my plumbers come to my house they could tell me that I have the cleanest toilets. When I go for my annual annual (you women know what I am talking about) the Doctor could tell me I’m really good at putting my feet in those stirrups.

It’s just a better practice than telling people they aren’t good at things. Like when I walk through a department store and a lady at the cosmetic counter asks a question like, “What are you using on your face? I have something much better.” Yes, you may have something better, but do you think I want to talk to you now that you have insulted me?

So give someone a sincere compliment tomorrow. I hope they can accept it and enjoy it. Not only will you brighten their day, but they will probably think a little more kindly of you. That’s a win win.


Happy President’s Day

 

 

Today is the holiday known as Presidents’ Day as well as Washington’s Birthday or Washington and Lincoln’s Birthday.  It also happens to be my friends from college Suzanne and Rena’s birthday too!  Seems like a good enough reason to celebrate.

 

When I was a kid we had both Washington’s Birthday off and Lincolns even though they both fell in February.  Then along came the Martin Luther King birthday day — off in January and Washington and Lincoln got lumped together because the government was just giving away too many holidays!

 

Who knows when the next politician or great social leader is going to appear and be worthy of a holiday?  Seems like with all the media we have on people it is going to be tough for anyone else to be clean enough to warrant getting a day of their own.

 

I am not in the mood to reward any politicians except for one who might be able to bring back the art of negotiation and compromise.  That seems like a tall order given the polarization of the parties.

 

It seems to me that President’s Day is a lower ranking Holiday than most and I wonder if that is because since it is now named for all the President’s we are averaging how worthy they all were.  I have not heard of anyone lobbying for a national holiday for Pierce, Tyler or Harding.  According to a ranking done by great American Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. there are only three Presidents who rank in the “Great” rating, Lincoln, Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  There are seven in the “Failure” ranks, Pierce, Grant, Hoover, Nixon, Andrew Johnson, Buchanan and Harding.  These rankings were not Schlesinger’s opinion alone, but a poll taken of a large group of famous University Historians and scholars like Doris Kearns Goodwin.

 

Have we diluted the importance of the original day by honoring all the Presidents no matter how effective they were?  My suggestion is we lump President’s Day together with Martin Luther King’s birthday and have one holiday called Great Leader’s Day.  Anytime someone comes up that we are thinking we should honor we could throw him or her into that day.   No discussion needed, just jump on in.

 

This would free up a lot of congressional time not arguing and voting on new holidays so they could spend time actually solving real problems.  Not that I actually think congress is capable of solving real problems.  I just want to take away all the excuses for wasting time on things like ‘Flag Burning,” deciding if we need “Emergency Chiropractors,” or a “Jay Walking Database” – real bills –look it up.

 

So today is Great Leaders and Great Friends birthday to me.  One day is no different than the next to a middle aged woman without full time employment I just like a reason to celebrate without argument.


Broccoli Cheese Soup

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I went to the movies with my friend Lynn this afternoon rather than write my blog, or cook dinner.  When I got home late I decided I could throw together a soup to satisfy both needs.

 

1 softball-sized onion chopped

2 carrots- peeled and chopped

A bunch of fresh thyme tied together in a bundle or 1 T. dried Thyme

2 cups chicken stock

3 big stalks of broccoli

1 can of fat free evaporated milk

1 cup of shredded cheese- I used three kinds, cheddar, parm and jarlsburg

Salt and Pepper

 

In a big stockpot sprayed with Pam cook the onion on medium heat to soften for about five minutes.  Add the carrots and thyme and cook another three minutes stirring every so often.

 

Bring a separate saucepan with two inches of water in it to a boil.  Cut the trunks from the broccoli and using a vegetable peeler peel away all the tough outside parts of the broccoli and then chop the trunks up and put in the boiling sauce pan and cook about five minutes until they are tender.

 

Roughly chop the remaining tops of the broccoli and set aside.

 

Add the chicken stock to the main big stockpot with the onions and carrots and bring to a simmer.

 

After the broccoli stalks are cooked use a slotted spoon and remove them from the boiling water and add them to the main stockpot with the onions mixture.

 

Add the rest of the broccoli tops to the boiling water in the saucepan and cook that for two minutes or until it is tender.  Drain that broccoli and add it to the main stockpot.  If you used a bundle of thyme remove it from the pot now scraping as many little leaves off into the soup as you can. Add the can of evaporated milk and bring the whole mixture to a boil and reduce to simmer for two minutes.  Take the pot off the heat and using a stick blender blend the soup slightly, leaving the vegetables a little big.

 

Put the pot back on medium heat add the cheese and stir the soup just so the cheese melts, about a minute.  Salt and Pepper and serve.


Dancing Fun

IMG_0068Last night a group I am part of had a Valentines dinner dance.  After the snow days of the last three nights it was great to get out of the house, dress in non-thermal clothes, catch up with friends, eat a dinner that someone else made and dance.

This Valentines dance is not Russ’ idea of the perfect way to celebrate, but it certainly got him off the hook to come up with a better plan.  I guess that his agreeing to go should have been seen as his gift to me.  Not that Russ is anti-social, but dancing is not his first choice activity.

After a nice cocktail hour and a dinner at long elegant tables set in the ballroom that reminded Russ of a Harry Potter Hogwarts set up, the band came out.  The lead singer, Gwen had been my friend Stephanie’s nanny when her kids were little so of course I wanted to support her and do some dancing.  It was the polite thing to do.

I had already walked almost 20,000 steps before I got to the party so I also thought dancing might be a way to get to a higher step milestone and reach 30,000 steps in one day, a level I have never reached.  As the three singers dressed in red sequin tops and tight red slacks with very high heels belted out one classic after another Russ willing stayed on the dance floor with me.

Friend Holley said to Laura the ever-present photographer, “Get a picture, the Lange’s have never spent so much time on the dance floor.”  For the almost two hour first set we danced to every song, well I danced to every song.  Russ was allowed to be a spectator with the other husbands when the majority of women took the stage as back-up singers to my favorite tune, “Proud Mary.”

After doing all that rolling on the river I finally gave Russ his valentine’s gift of getting to go home.  It was eleven at night on a Friday and he had hardly slept more than four hours the night before.  As soon as we left the no-wifi ballroom I pulled out my phone to see how many steps I had added during the dance-a-thon.  I was shocked that in two hours of dancing I had only gotten 6,000 more steps.  What a disappointment.  My day ended with just over 26,000 steps.  Yes, it was a record for me, but not a milestone in the world of fitbit, no congratulatory e-mail, no virtual badge, nothing.

Although I did not reach the mountain top I did have a very fun night with my sweetheart.  He did sacrifice and dance and dance and dance with me.  Dancing for exercise is probably better than just walking so I am looking it that way.  I just wish my dumb fitbit had a way to give me credit for arm movement and hip shaking.


Valentines Advice For All

 

 

Valentines Day needs to go back to being a day for grade school kids to trade small snoopy cards with corny, but true sayings like, “Love is a warm puppy.”  For most of us the pressure is too great to have one day where we must declare our love for our sweetie in the grandest form, or even worse for those without a one special someone it makes you feel even more alone.

 

No “holiday,” especially a Hallmark one, should make people feel badly, yet those in love have every right to celebrate.  But really if you have someone in your life who makes the sun shine brighter, the wind feel less cold and a peach taste sweeter you don’t need a declarative day to celebrate how blessed you are.

 

For anyone for whom this day makes you want to stay under the covers I have a few bits of advice:

 

  1. Loving yourself is most important.  If you don’t like you it makes it hard to recognize when others love you.
  2. Friends of the same gender are as important as a sweet heart.
  3. Don’t concentrate your efforts on one person who does not appear to know you are alive. 
  4. Real people are not like celebrities and don’t walk around as airbrushed as movies stars, so stop looking for someone who might show up on Entertainment Tonight.
  5. If you are looking at someone who is not looking at you, turn around and look at who might be looking at you.
  6. More importantly, listen to what others are saying and stop listening with your eyes.  The right person for you might not make a swimsuit issue.
  7. Life is long and when you do find someone you want to love him or her forever.  Looks will fade, but funny lasts forever.
  8. Everyone needs someone who will hold his or her hand in public at every age.  If you find that you have found gold.
  9. A dog will always love you.

For those who have a sweetheart I have this advice for you:

  1. Love yourself first; it makes it easier for others to love you.
  2. Friends of the same gender are as important as a sweet heart.
  3. Ignore people who don’t know you are alive.
  4. Don’t worry about your wrinkles; if you ever are on Entertainment Tonight they can airbrush them.
  5. Don’t turn around to see who is looking at you it will just cause trouble.
  6. Listen to your sweetheart and don’t ask them how you look in your swimsuit.
  7. Laugh at your darling’s jokes, even if they are not funny.
  8. Hold hands, everywhere at every age.
  9. Your dog will always love you.

Triple Shoveling Workout

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As a child of Connecticut I learned that the earlier you shovel snow the easier it is.  As a southern resident my neighbors often accost me about my need to shovel while snow is still coming down.

 

“Why don’t you just walk with us in the snow?” a friend asked as she passed by while I was pushing the light fluffy flakes from my walkway last evening.  “It’s still coming down, what’s the use?”

 

I don’t love snow.  I guess I had enough of it as a child to keep me for the rest of my life.  Yes it is beautiful to look at, especially when it just falls, but as it melts and refreezes, or turns a grey dingy color from being mixed with the dirt in the world, or worse yet, yellow from visiting dogs, it does not hold that same magic it does when it is small silent flakes floating to the ground.

 

Last night I shoveled our front walkways.  There was not much need, I did it for the exercise and so I did not have to put on full winter boots every time I needed to take Shay out to make snow yellow.  Then the freezing rain came so this morning I got up early and chopped up the crispy layer on my shoveled path and threw it to the side of the walkway.

 

Now it is snowing again.  Carter announced the path was filling in.  Ah, but it wasn’t hard heavy snow, just another layer of light and fluffy.  I went out and with ease I pushed away the newest layer before it has a chance to melt and refreeze and become tough and heavy snow that refreezes into ice overnight.

 

Shoveling is the kind of workout I like to do.  It is full body, aerobic and free.  I do get a few steps while doing it, nothing like the treadmill, but I have the added bonus of getting core and arm workout.  We had a gravel driveway so there is no way to have fun shoveling that.  It would be a lot more useful if I could clear a path for cars, but I hate to throw the gravel into the lawn and unfortunately that is what I end up doing in the driveway.

 

Perhaps I like shoveling because it reminds me of the carefree days of my youth, not that I ever shoveled willing as a child.  I am sure that my mother had to scream plenty at me to go outside and shovel.  My father had a snow blower since we had a very long driveway and it was the north after all, but it was started with a rope pull, something I was never very good at.  An old fashioned metal shovel was my tool of choice.  Now I have a better plastic model that is much improved over the cold metal types.

 

If you are reading this in North Carolina consider going out and shoveling now.  The longer you wait the worse the job gets.  And if you do it long enough you can enjoy an extra cup of coco without guilt.  If you chose to stay inside, no worries, it is going to be 45 degrees tomorrow and it will all be melted by dinnertime.  This is North Carolina after all.


The Best Medicine

 

 

Day five of being home with Carter and her concussion, no thinking, no reading, no TV, no fun mode.  It is enough to drive us all crazy.  Our friends Lynn, better known as Baby Chick at our house and her daughter Ellis came by for a check-in-cheer up-half-day of-school visit.  It was a great distraction to have them here as the snow started to come down.

 

As we are known to do with our daughters Lynn and I started telling stories.  Lynn told Carter of her many falls from her horse Flika, with no helmet on and no grown-ups checking her for concussion.  If you know Baby Chick it explains a lot.

 

I related the story of my being hit by a truck on Mykonos while I was riding a moped with no helmet on.  I dislocated my hip, broke my leg and broke my arm in that accident, but was lucky enough to not hit my head.

 

In that accident I flew over the hood of the truck, which was my choice rather than veering away from it over the side of a mountain, I went twenty feet in the air, flipped and landed on my butt.  Fat saved my life.  As soon as I realized I could think and was therefore alive I looked down at my hip, which was a good six inches away from where I thought it should be.  My first thought was, “I’ve gained a lot of weight on vacation.”  It was then I realized that my hip was out of it’s joint and I pushed it back into the socket myself.  I was just thankful about the non-weight gain.

 

My friend David took me to the Vet slash Doctor on the island where he was told by the dubious medical professional there that I was a Strong American Woman and would survive this accident.

 

As I told the story Lynn piped in and said, “Oh Yeah, you are a STW.”  I burst out laughing to the point I gasped for air, and said, “STW?  What does the T stand for?”  Lynn then joined me in the three-minute bellyaching as our daughter looked on in themselves when laughing is something that horrifies the average fifteen-year-old girl.

 

Eventually Baby Chick was able to compose herself and explain the ST was for “Strong” she forgot the “American” and threw in the  “W” for “Woman.”  I think it was the best medicine for Carter to see that if she does not rest her brain until her headache goes away she could end up like Baby Chick and me.  Who knows how many head injuries we have had between us.


My Childhood Idol

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Nobody ever loved Shirley Temple more than I did.  When I was a kid a local TV station played one of her movies every Sunday afternoon and I never missed one.  There played the same 20 movies over and over.  As the world around me was rocking out to Janis Joplin I was singing, “On the good ship Lollipop.”  It used to drive my father crazy that I would sob uncontrollably as the sweet mop top little girl would face adversities like being an orphan or losing her beloved grandfather.  “It just a movie,” he would tell me trying to consol me, but annoyed at the same time with my Shirley obsession.

 

Shirley Temple toped the movie box office for three years in a row during the height of the depression when movies were the major form of entertainment with little competition.  I watched her feel happy flicks during the turbulent late sixties and seventies.  Like people during the depression I was blocking out things I did not understand like the war in Vietnam and hippies.

 

I think I used Shirley Temple movies to learn history, like the Boer War in The Little Princess or the civil war in The Littlest Rebel.  It is amazing I ever went to boarding school myself after watching how Shirley was treated in Captain January and The Little Princess.  I also thought that I was an unusual girl since I had both my real parents, neither sang nor danced for a living and the mob was not after us.

 

Life in Shirley Temple movies was either more glamorous or more destitute than my suburban Connecticut upbringing, but I was addicted to those stories and that sweet girl.  I loved when she would look right in the camera and say, “Oh my goodness.”  She was clean cut, sometimes sad, more times joyous and so cute.

 

One of my dear friend’s Tricia and her husband Danny bought Shirley Temple’s Potomac, MD house where she lived during her years in Foreign Service.  I always felt that going to their house was almost like getting to meet her.  They had a room size safe and I imagined what important mementos she must have stored there.

 

Shirley Temple is the child star all child actors need to emulate.  The day she was given her junior size Oscar award, she said “thank you Mr. Whoever gave it to her,” turned to her mother who was always by her side and said, “Mother, can we go home now?”

 

Shirley Temple has gone home, but she will always live forever on the big screen and in my heart.  I never was embarrassed that as an adolescent I loved Shirley Temple and her living a superlative life she has never let me down.

 

 


Olympic Watching Cabbage, Onions and Eggs

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In the spirit of the Olympics and wanting to use up a cabbage that was in my veg drawer I made up this three-ingredient dish that is reminiscent of Russian peasant food.  It does not look or sound as appetizing as it tastes, but on a cold dark snowy night it will keep you warm and satisfied.

 

1 small green cabbage shredded

1 medium onion thinly sliced

4 eggs – beaten

Salt and Pepper

 

Spray a large skillet with Pam and place the cabbage and the onions in it on a medium heat.  Cook, turning the vegetables often for about ten minutes, until they are wilted and the cabbage is not giving out any more liquid.  Salt and pepper the vegetables.  Pour the eggs into the pan with the veg and stir until the eggs are lightly cooked, about one minute.  Taste for seasoning, more pepper is better.

 

Serve immediately


Soldier On

 

 

In the life goes on mode I threw an engagement shower today for our wonderful friends Jan and Rex’s daughter Kim and her betrothed Blake.  Since they had moved to Texas almost four years ago we had a hard time finding a date when we could get all these longhorns back East so the North Carolina crowd could meet Blake before the wedding.  Not that Kim needed our blessing, but we were still excited and wanted to fete them.

 

After much work with calendars Jan and I discovered that today at 2:00 was absolutely the only time we would all be able to gather.  So I sent out invitations for a Tea Party Shower, what else could possibly happen on a Sunday afternoon?  I knew it was going to be tight to get the whole thing together since Russ and I were going to be out of town until yesterday afternoon, but making finger sandwiches and scones is something I thought I could do in my sleep.

 

Best laid plans… I never anticipated spending a lifetime in the ER yesterday and having a child with a concussion, terrible headaches and no short-term memory.  Today she is not really improved much and the doctor’s order of “no thinking until her headache goes away” is much harder to do than you can imagine.

 

Despite all that we had a shower today.  The happy couple is darling together.  It was great to actually meet the groom and see how well he and Kim are suited for each other.  I have known Kim for twenty years and it is hard to believe that she is going to be a “Sadie, Sadie, married lady,” as we sing in our best Funny Girl way.

 

The guests arrived just as I was baking the dried cherry heart shaped scones and putting out the chicken salad, pimento cheese, smoked salmon and cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches.  All these things along with the sea salt brownies are forbidden to me, only the lone bowl of red grapes were in my food choice group.

 

Thank goodness people came hungry and ate and ate and even took a few things home.  With the stress of the last two days I easily could have slathered a scone with cream and jam or popped a chicken salad finger in my mouth, but I withheld.  I feel like that is a huge turning point.

 

Now if I can just help Carter recover quickly and not miss too much school I think I can maintain my don’t handle stress with food regime.  Life is long and sometimes we just have to soldier on.


The Chef and the Farmer Trip

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If you are a PBS devotee, a locavore, a reality TV Junkie, someone born east of I-95 in North Carolina, a chef or a farmer you may have heard of the best show on PBS that was made in America.  It’s a first season hit called “A Chef’s Life” that chronicles how Eastern NC girl Vivian Howard escaped the rural life to become a chef in NYC and once married to her front of the house and artist husband Ben Knight, was lured back to her birth place by her parents with the promise of a restaurant of their own.

 

Russ and I heard about the TV show and since we both love food and all things documentary we did our favorite thing and binged watched it in three nights before Christmas.  The show about Vivian and Ben told in each episode through the lens of one local ingredient laid out the tale of the creating a successful restaurant in the unlikely place of Kinston, NC, the demise from a fire, the rebuilding and the flourishing with a few hiccups due to order entry systems and the like, all while having twins and building a new house for themselves.

 

Russ would salivate over the “Pimp my grits” or the perfectly runny tomato sandwich so it was no surprise to me when I opened a Christmas gift that read, “A night in Kinston at the Chef and the Farmer.”  Since Kinston was two hours away and the restaurant is a dinner only kind of place Russ had found the best place to stay in the quaint small town with more empty store fronts than full, a grand Bed and Breakfast called the Bentley.

 

With hard to obtain reservations in hand and all the logistics to have Carter stay with friends the Hannans who were will to get up and drive her to riding at 7:30 this morning and be picked up by a college friend, Russ and I drove off to Kinston yesterday afternoon.  The traffic was not bad and we arrived early enough to meet Linda the fabulous owner of the B&B and settle into a comfy room in the house on the only hill in town.

 

We arrived early to the restaurant knowing we were in the right spot since it was clearly the place with the most cars in the parking lot.  The inside was so familiar since we had practically sat in the dinning room while watching the show on a giant flat screen TV for thirteen hours.  Locals greeted us at the bar as if we were kin this was Kinston after all.  Russ enjoyed a drink and I had club soda in anticipation of thoroughly breaking my regular diet for this meal.

 

I won’t make you wait another minute — dinner was worth the drive.  We started out sharing a sausage, mustard green and house made mozzarella pizza.  Russ, who has red sauce cursing through his veins and can rate every pizza crust from here to Napoli, declared it spectacular.  I agreed and not just because it was the first pizza I had eaten in the New Year.  Russ followed with one of the three “Pimp my grits” choices, the one with shrimp.  To die for.  I had the Oyster, & clam pan roast with shrimp and Carolina Gold rice.  Delectable, especially for two ingredients that aren’t even listed, the fennel and vermouth that made the whole dish sing.  I skipped eating the butter soaked toast in the broth and just sucked up the liquid on a spoon.  For dessert Russ got the apple crisp with rosemary ice cream and salted caramel.  My bite was cruel since I could only afford the one.

 

While having coffee Ben refilled our cups and we had a great conversation about his fantastic art on the walls, the TV show and how important we thought the front of the house is to the success of a good restaurant.  TV does not convey how generous and what a perfect host he is.  Vivian was not on the line last night so we did not get to meet her — An excuse for another visit.

 

After dinner we retired to the Bentley where we slept soundly and woke to a gorgeous breakfast.  Ward, Linda’s husband, who works the corporate life, was conscripted into serving us, this being a Saturday.  The B&B is clearly Linda’s passion that they don’t have to do to put gas in their cars, but both Ward and Linda were so delightful that it was the icing on the cake to talk with them for hours after breakfast.

 

Suddenly we realized it was noon and we wanted to explore the town and have lunch at the Boiler Room, the Oyster Bar that Vivian and Ben started for lunches.  As we pulled into town the phone rang in the car and up on the screen it said, “Rolling Hills Stables.”  As a mother of a horse back rider when the trainer calls you while your child is there your stomach goes to your throat.

 

“Is she OK?” I answered the phone.

 

“She had a fall,” Piper, the trainer tells me.  Then my crying child takes the phone.  She is alive!  Piper gets back on the line and says they are taking her to the ER because she hit her head when she fell off.

 

Russ backed the car out of the parking lot and we were out of Kinston in a shot.  Two hours later we arrived at the hospital where Carter’s two trainers, Piper and Solveig and our great friend Susan were keeping an eye on her as they waited for a CT.  While there our friend Ellie who happens to be a radiologist came in to check and our friend Darren an ER nurse was on duty and kept an eye out.  Thank god for great friends who are good mothers and fathers to other peoples children.

 

Carter has a concussion, but no broken bones and is alive.  When the doctor told her she was not allowed to do anything including thinking suddenly homework became important.

 

Russ’ beautiful present ended with six hours at the ER.  Carter is asleep in bed, just until we have to wake her and check on her cognition.  I had not eaten anything since breakfast and I guess this was a higher powers way of getting me to balance out the fabulous dinner I had last night.

 

Kinston, I hardly knew you, but what I did meet I really liked.  We will be back and we will bring friends and maybe even bring Carter so I can keep an eye on her.


We are Always Students

 

 

This morning I had the honor of attending the Student U Morning Brilliance breakfast.  For those of you who don’t know what Student U is it is a college access program that starts with 50 kids in the summer before 6th grade who have potential to go to college, but have many obstacles to getting there.  Student U surrounds, supports, encourages, teaches, introduces, energizes, feeds, cajoles, and just does not let go of these kids until they not only get into and go to college, but now with their first class graduating this year the plan is to continue supporting of these kids through college to ensure successful independence at the end and people who can come back and be the best Durham has to offer.

 

I am always impressed with the kids, staff, teachers, parents and volunteers at Student U who work hard all the time.  When Hilary Clinton wrote it takes a village to raise a child she did not know how Dan Kimberg the Executive Director and his cohorts would expand on that idea to involving a whole big city.

 

The lessons these kids are learning at Student U are the same ones everyone wishes for their kids.  Hard work, curiosity, and accepting help are some of the stepping-stones to having the life you want to have.  We don’t go on this journey alone.

 

These same lessons are ones that we all could take away and use to improve our own lives.  At middle age I think I finally got this message and have learned to apply it in things I want to upgrade in myself.  The good news is that it is never too late to change, advance, grow and better yourself.

 

So what do you want to do?  Who can you ask for help?  How will you give back after you have advanced?  It does not have to be a daunting task like being the first person in your family to go to college, but it could be to get a new job, run a 5K, learn a new hobby, or lose ten pounds.

 

As they say at Student U:

Discover your best self

Achieve greatness

Respect yourself and others

Dream fearlessly

Share your brilliance

Energize your community

 

To learn more about Student U visit http://www.studentudurham.org


Laugh Yourself Thin

 

 

When people ask me what my blog is about I sum it up in two words, Diet Comedy.  Now that is not all together true since this blog includes healthy recipes, stories about my childhood and some not so funny tips to about losing weight, but the thread that I try to run through most posts is that it is humorous.

 

For people who don’t know me and somehow have stumbled upon this blog they don’t always know when I am joking about something.  Some of the comments I get clearly illustrate their lack of understanding when I am being glib or sarcastic, but their serious replies never bothers me.  See, I don’t think that many people think of dieting as being funny and perhaps that contributes to why people hate to do it.

 

I have taken the opposite tact not just when it comes to dieting but in terms of almost every part of life.  Seeing the ridiculous, up surd or funny in things is just more enjoyable.  Now it is not always fun for the people around me.  I have trouble holding in a good remark when I am in serious meetings.  If only I could claim turrets syndrome as my excuse for calling out, but I can’t.

 

Some people have been down right horrified when I write about my underwear falling off as I walked because I had lost enough weight to warrant smaller panties, but were too cheep to go and get them.  The chance to laugh, especially at myself, fills my day with joy.  I no longer use food for happiness and that has sharpened my eye on the other things that bring glee.

 

Laughing is actually a good core workout.  The bigger the belly laugh the smaller the belly.  If I could occupy my whole day surrounded by the funniest people on earth I seriously doubt I would ever miss eating chocolate.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I am very happy about what I do get to eat, but I am not sad about what I don’t get to eat.  Learning to have a balanced relationship with food is something I came late too in life.  I wish that I had realized earlier that the thing that gives me the most satisfaction is not food, but making others laugh and laughing often myself.

 

My dieting tip for the day is next time you want to try and keep yourself away from the girl scout cookies in the freezer, don’t do that serious thing that real diet coaches suggest like go for a run, instead watch a funny movie.  For someone thinking they want cookies running is never their next choice, but I guarantee that laughing is your best distraction.


Now It’s Sugar, No SH#T

 

 

For the last couple of days all I have heard on the radio and TV is how bad sugar is for you.  Is this news?  On All Things Considered on NPR they were talking about the “NEWS” that no grown woman should have more than six teaspoons of sugar a day.

I hardly know any woman who knowingly eats that much raw sugar in a day.  But each teaspoon contains about 4 grams of sugar and if you were to look at any processed food 24 grams of sugar is a very small amount.  So most of us who eat anything processed is probably consuming way more sugar than you think.  Especially if you eat fat free processed foods that use sugar in place of fat to get flavor.

 

Most people who can read already know that sugar is bad for them, but boy does it taste good.  But the news is not that sugar just makes you fat, but that it is a major factor in heart dieses, something you don’t necessarily see when you look in the mirror.  So you may be fairly thin, but if you live on just a tiny bit too much sugar your heart might not be as happy as you think.

 

The easiest thing to do is to eat real food that you can recognize in its most natural form.  Now you can cook it and change it, but start with things you can spell, like chicken, oats, apples, and peppers, just not all together.  If you make it you can get a good idea about how much sugar you are eating.

 

One horrible hideout of sugar is in fat free yoghurts with fruit.  One small serving is more than your whole day’s allotment of sugar.  This is easy to fix.  Buy plain yogurt and add real fruit.  If you add fruit in season that is ripe it will be sweet.

 

I am a sugaraholic.  Given my choice I used to always pick dessert over anything else.  That was not helping me weight wise, and now I understand heart wise and even apparently skin wise.  Sugar does not contribute to a good complexion.  When I started my weight loss challenge sugar was one of the easiest things to cut out.  Yes I know there are huge groups of people that believe in no forbidden foods, but not me.  Once I got over missing sugar I stopped craving it.  If I slip up and eat something sweet now it does take me a few days to break the addiction again so it is so much easier to just stay away from it.

 

If you don’t have a weight problem go on and eat things with fat, and cut out the sugar.  Your body needs a little fat to function, but not sugar to work well.  I think back to my Grandparents who ate lard, Crisco, butter, cream, and even some real sugar, but they ate no processed foods since they hardly existed then.  They were fairly healthy in spite of the drinking and smoking.  I am not advocating you take up smoking, but just look at the labels on your foods and tally up your sugar.  Your heart will thank you for sticking to under 24 grams.


When There Are More Hobbies Than Hours In a Day

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My friend Stephanie has always called my “office” Dana’s playhouse.  It is a cozy room on the ground floor of our house that most people do not know exists.  It originally was the home office for the first owner of our house who was a retired bank president in the fifties.  It has all the makings of a room a once powerful man could run his empire from with a wall of shelves and cabinets, a corner fireplace and a wet bar.

 

When Russ and I first moved into this house I was a full time workingwoman and ran my empire from this same room, although I am yet to use the wet bar in twenty years.  After retiring to become a full time Mom I transitioned the “office” into the room that the all crafts and hobbies command center.

 

The shelves filled up with hundreds of cookbooks, scrap books, decorative papers, trinkets, beads, wire, string, yarn, stickers, glue, tools, embossing machines, rubber stamps, sets of scissors that could cut deckled edges to wavy lines, dozens of cameras and lens and the millions of photos they produced, fabric, canvas and threads, fibers and ribbons.  Eventually the room filled up so much that the adjoining shower was conscripted for hobby storage.  Then like a character in a Shel Silverstein poem my playhouse was too full to be useful and I just moved out and closed the door.

 

It helped that I had a laptop and some portable needlepoint.  I left my office as a shrine to all my creativity with my old desktop computer holding court on my giant desk/craft table, lonely and neglected.  Now that did not mean that I cut out all my hobbies, but other more meaningful work had a greater share of my time.

 

Then came the treadmill desk with a reason to makeover my playhouse.  Now I spend more waking hours in the shrine to creativity than I ever did when I was paid full time to work for others.  Being in this room, which is like a time capsule to an old life has rekindled my interest in many old hobbies.  The issue is that newfound fire did not come with any more hours in the day, or the disinterest in the newer things that had filled my days.  The worst part is that now I try and do as many hobbies as possible all while walking on my treadmill desk.

 

I went to get a massage today and my therapist was quizzing me about how many hours I was working on my computer.  “Not that many,” I told her, “why do you ask?”  She told me that although my leg muscles were tight from so much walking my real problem area were some part of my pectoral muscles.

 

I thought about the places she was pushing near my shoulders that were hurting from the massage and I told her, “It’s not computer work but my needlepoint.”  I quickly told her I was not giving that up and she showed me several “Needlepoint exercises.”  Now I not only have to find time to fit in all the hobbies, but the exercises that go along with them.

 

I think that if I live another fifty years and don’t take up one new hobby I will still never learn, create or finish all the ideas that are in my head now.  The only saving grace is that I certainly will forget them before I can feel remorse about not completing them.


I Will Walk 500 Miles

 

 

Yesterday while I was walking at my treadmill desk and working on my computer a message popped up from my fitbit.  It flickered in a small box in the upper right hand corner of my screen and before I could read more than “500 miles” it was gone.  My curiosity was perked and I was looking for an excuse to abandon what I was working on so I logged into my fitbit account to see if I could see what that message meant.

 

It was a congratulatory note telling me that I had just gone 500 miles.  I looked at the whole site and determined that I had been wearing my fitbit since November 1.  Wow, 500 miles in three months.  Suddenly a Peter, Paul and Mary song from my childhood came flooding back, 500 miles.  I guess all the reminiscing about the life of Pete Seeger had folk songs on the brain.  I started humming their 500 miles song, but could not get all the words right.

 

I went right to You Tube and there it was along with another 500 miles song by the Proclaimers.  Totally different, yet folksy song about walking 500 miles and in theirs they go 500 more “to be the man that gets back home to you.”

 

Apparently going 500 miles is quite something, at least to folk singers and the fitbit company.  I certainly agree.  I seriously doubt I have ever walked 500 miles in three months before.  If you do the math it is just a little more than five miles a day, but when you look at my actual stats I have really picked up the pace in the last month.

 

Yes, we all know I have a treadmill desk, but I also was in a walking competition with some other people that go to the same trainer I do.  For the month of January all her clients wore pedometers and we turned in our step totals every week.  The one man in the game did a lot of trash talking in the beginning and was sure he was going to be the big winner.  He had never met me.  Needless to say I came in first and he came in fourth.  It was not really a fair game since I think all the other people who were in the contest had real full time jobs, but I still got the most steps.

 

I started November with the 10,000 steps a day goal.  Then after Christmas I upped it to 15,000 steps and now I am averaging 20,000.  It is a lot of time, but hey it’s winter and what else is so important for me to do?  I’m not going to write a song about it since that has clearly been over done, but I am going to try to walk 500 more miles in the next two months rather than three.  I like a little game in my work out routine and since I already beat my trainer’s people I need some new cohorts.  If you have a fitbit and want to be on my “friend” list send me a message.  You don’t have to commit to any number of steps I just like the company.


The Second Biggest Day of Eating

 

 

Yes, the Super Bowl in officially the second biggest day of eating after Thanksgiving, but it certainly has to be the first day of eating bad for you food.  At least on Thanksgiving you have vegetables and turkey, not so much today.

 

I am going to be so glad when this day passes so I can stop getting e-mails from cooking websites about “the world’s best chicken wings” and “super special Chili.”  I don’t normally care a thing about chips, but if I watch one more advertisement for Queso dip I am going to devour a whole bag of Tostitos.

 

Luckily we are going to our friend’s Michelle and Richard’s house and I have been told there will be a salad there.  I was racking my brain about what I did last Super bowl so I went to the blog archives and was reminded that I spent last year in New Orleans with my sisters and my Dad.  That was a whole weekend of eating fest so the Super Bowl part was low key since we ordered room service and watched the game in my sister’s hotel suite.

 

I have spent the day walking at my treadmill desk in preparation for the sitting part of the evening.  My plan is to needlepoint through the whole game.  I am very particular about not getting any crumbs on my projects as I stitch them so that will prevent me from reaching for any finger food.

 

The good news about going to friend’s house for the game is they have been very supportive of my whole weight loss journey so they will not push any food on me.  I hope that for those of you who have been working off your holiday pounds that you don’t do any damage today.

 

The worst thing about big eating occasions is not so much the one event, but it is getting back on the wagon tomorrow.  If you can avoid over doing it tonight it will make eating healthy the next few days that much easier.

 

Good Luck to your team and rather than enjoying every food available watch the advertisements, they are the real stars of the day and they are calorie free.


Roast Gingered Carrots

 

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Today I made dinner for my friend Nancy who had hand surgery.  If you have any trouble with your hands you certainly can’t cook, but you feel well enough to eat.  That merits a delivered meal in my book.  Since it is still the healthy eating season, until the Super Bowl tomorrow when all diets go out the window, I tried to make her something she would not curse me for when she got on the scale.

 

One of the items I made was roast-gingered carrots.  Russ had our friend and neighbor Cliff over for a meeting while I was cooking and he just e-mailed me a request for the recipe since he said he has never had great luck roasting carrots.  Killing many birds with one stone and giving the recipe here.

 

2 pounds of Carrots – sounds like a lot but these are so addictive it might just be enough for 3 people

1 T. butter

1 inch of fresh Ginger root- peeled and frozen is easiest

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  I use a convection oven so you might need to add a few minutes to your cooking time if you do not.

 

Peel the carrots and cut off the ends.  Cut the carrots in half to have a skinny end and a fat end.

 

Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with Pam.  Place the fat end carrots on the foil and spray the carrots with a light dusting of pam.  Place in the oven and cook for ten minutes.  Add the skinny carrots and spray them with Pam and put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

 

The side of the carrot touching the foil should start to get brown and you may want to turn the carrots part of the way through roasting.

 

When the carrots are tender and lightly brown take the pan out of the oven and rub a little butter over then.

 

Take your peel ginger root – I keep mine in the freezer and that makes this next step easier.  Using a micro plane grate the ginger liberally all over the carrots.  Salt and pepper and serve.  They are good cold, hot or room temp.  Actually they are really like candy so give them to your kids too.