Fat Shopping Was Easier

 

 

Yesterday I had to stop by the Mall to drop off our Nespresso recycling at the Sur La Table store. In the inefficient European way that is my only option to recycle the coffee pods we use. Since I rarely go to the Mall because I hate shopping while lots of people are also shopping I took advantage of the Tuesday morning lack of crowds to try and find some new smaller clothes.

 

To most women I know they see loosing weight as an opportunity to buy new clothes. To me I see it as a pain. I used to have to buy clothes in the “women’s Department” which is code for fat people’s clothes. It was not so bad because I knew exactly who sold those clothes and the “Big” departments were not that big. I also knew what size I wore and how the clothes would fit. The other bonus in the larger sizes is they tended to be age appropriate for me.

 

Now I wear regular size people’s clothes. I find this definition interesting since according to fashion retail experts more people are a size 14 or greater yet most of the clothes in stores are under size 14. There are so many things that made this shopping trip bad.

 

I don’t really know what size I am so I had to gather multiple sizes of the same item to try on. And it is not so simple as just 10, 12, or 14. In the pants department of one store there were seven different kinds of fit, all with names that mean nothing to me, like “Heritage” or “Signature”. Are “heritage” for people who have ancestors who have been wearing pants for many generations? Come on, I was looking for the name that meant, “Smaller waist than hips and a sagging middle aged belly to hide.” You might think “Curvy was the right name, but no, my butt is not big enough for curvy.

 

One problem about shopping when the crowds are low is that the stores don’t bother having anyone work then or they have the clerks who are only capable of folding sweaters and not actually helping customers.

 

I went into Banana Republic and picked up one dress, one blazer and one blouse and headed back to the dressing rooms without ever encountering an employee. The only problem is that I needed someone with a key to let me into the locked dressing room.

 

Eventually Jason came along and he insisted on knowing my first name and let me into a dressing room. I tried the dress on -too small in one part too big in another. Blazer – not a flattering fabric. Blouse – like the dress, too big in the shoulders, small in the bust. I decided this was not a store worth exploring further. As I walked the length of the store to get out Jason screamed across the room, “Dana, what was wrong with those clothes?”

 

“Too Young for me,” I said as I breezed out to Anne Taylor next door. As I walked in the door a light pink shirtwaist dress caught my eye. Not that I want a light pink dress that looked so much like one of my boarding school uniforms, but I wanted to see what size I might be in that dress and then explore the possibility of it coming in another color. I took two dresses to a room and tried them on –too big and too much material at the skirt. I repeated this exercise in five more stores. Not once did I ever have a clerk who offered to find me the right size or something that was a cut that fit my body.

 

All that shopping and I did not buy one thing when there are basic things I need. One problem with loosing weight is that I have become much more picky about the way things fit and you would think it would be easier to find things that fit, but it isn’t. I know the answer is the tailor, but I would love to find one pair of pants right off the rack without having to find a “pant’s translator.”


Kindness as A Stress Reliever

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Yesterday I saw on the news a story about how we can catch other people’s stress. I know that stress plays a big role in my success at weight loss and good health in general. The worst thing I ever had a doctor tell me years ago is that I needed to reduce the amount of stress in my life. That just added to stress. Reducing stress is not easy to do. It is not like reducing the amount of sugar in your diet. Now the news told me that other people’s stress adds to mine so when a doctor says reduce my stress I also have to reduce the stress of all the people around me. Ha! How is that going to happen?

 

Here is the part that really makes me crazy… I have a fairly easy life. Come on, I have a wonderful husband, only one child, who granted is 15, but is growing up, I have a good education, meaningful work, but thanks to my hard working husband we are not dependent on my earning a living, healthy parents and wonderful friends. How much real stress do I really have compared to the majority of the world? Even given all that there are things that happen that cause me anxiety and now I am learning that my anxiety affects others as their stress effects me. No kidding.

 

So in the whirlwind of stress yesterday something happened that was so surprising and wonderful that it countered any tension I was feeling. Out of the blue, Peter, the CEO of the Food Bank forwarded me a card that was sent to the Food Bank with the news that a $1,000 donation was made in my honor and because of the enjoyment of my blog.

 

The donation came from Heather and Craig Mallard who live in Delaware. Now before you think I have a greater blog reach than I do, Heather is a friend of mine. She used to live in Raleigh and I first met her when she and I served on the board of the Food Bank in my early days on the board. It was very sad for me as I was coming into my role as board chair two years ago, that Heather, who was chair of the Finance committee, was taking a new job and moving away.

 

Heather did not let me know she was making this kind and generous donation. She just quietly sent it off to the Food Bank to help feed people in a state she does not even live in. That loving gesture did more for me than she will ever know while at the same time will provide $10,000 worth of food for people who face real and hard stress everyday.

 

The lesson I am taking away from this is that although I may not be able to avoid stress I can at least counteract it in others by providing an act of kindness. I wish I could make all my good deeds $1,000 acts, but I can’t. I hope that I will just remember to thank people appropriately, acknowledge good works, praise and pay tribute and brighten someone’s day.

 

Now I seriously know that I will also continue to add stress to people’s days, but let me learn to do it in a constructive way that will build people up. So thanks to Heather and Craig. You are my hero’s and, Heather I miss working with you, but hope our paths will continue to cross.


Always a Food Lover

 

 

Recently a new reader to this blog sent me a message saying that she wanted to lose weight, but since she loved food so much she did not see a way that she could. This is more or less my response to her.

 

Hey friend! I hear your pain. I am a life long food lover. I started cooking as soon as I could reach the stove, which was about age five while my parents slept late on Saturday mornings. At that point in 1966 I was not cooking because I had any culinary interest,  I was just hungry.  Eventually food became a bigger part of my life, and I let it have more power over me than I had over it.

 

More people I know are food lovers than “Food, what’s that? I forgot to eat today” people. In fact I can count on one hand, a hand that lost three fingers in a horrible Cuisineart accident the number of friends I have that really don’t care or think about food.   They are the food outliers and they as you can imagine are naturally thin.

 

Then I know plenty of people whose lives are not ruled by food, although they like to eat, some are heavy and some are thin and a few are just right. That leaves the group I am in. The people who think, plan, talk, read, smell, everything about food – some are heavy and some are thin, some are just right.

 

Here is what I have come to learn in my most recent two-year journey to control my own life and food:

I love food

I think about it everyday

I cook, grocery shop, read about it

I write about it, photograph it

I make food for others

I eat it.

I try and eat smaller portions

I treat some foods as treats and so I limit sugars and white flour foods to special occasions

 

I recognize that I will always be a food person. I also understand that being a person who loves all things about food does not have to mean that I am fat. So the excuse that you are a “Food Person” is just that, an excuse. You can love food and not give all the power to the food. It actually holds no power. The power is in your own brain. Once you decide to take control of food then you will lose weight.

 

Good Luck. It’s not easy.

 

 


One Third, Two Thirds, Odd Numbers and the Triangle

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Today I spent two hours in the West Queen Studio of my friend Morgan Moylan taking a flower arranging class. Morgan has spent twenty years studying all things floral. Her husband Mike really made Morgan’s passion come alive when he built her a room for her to not just do her own flower arranging in, but one that was large enough for her to teach classes.

 

I remember when Mike and Morgan put the addition on their house that included a number of garage bays that were beautifully paneled in old wood.   Mike found a old hardware store in some place like upstate New York and got a truck to go and collect all the store fittings so he could build out Morgan’s studio with walls of old drawers and glass fronted cabinets and shelves.

 

Gathered in this glorious space today were friends who had bought a seat in the class at the Durham Academy Auction. The levels of expertise of the students varied at the start, but with a small tutorial from Morgan you would never have known who was a novice and who was not when we all had created a moss covered pocketbook arrangement.

 

Morgan explained the basic rules; flowers should be one-third the height of the container or two-thirds, either way the arrangement is broken into thirds, all showy flowers should be in odd numbers and try and make a triangle in the lines your eye sees. Now I am sure I got some of this information incorrect, but I still liked my finished product nonetheless.

 

The flower arranging rules are a lot like the eating rules. One third of your plate should be protein and the other two thirds should be vegetables. The healthy eating guide is a triangle and for me the odd number thing is only one odd number – 1. That is never eat more than one of anything, because the first one tastes the best and anything after that is unnecessary.

 

It is amazing how almost everything I do somehow reminds me of food. The good thing about the flower arranging class is that it has no calories at all, as long as you skip the wine.

 

I highly recommend a visit to Hillsboro to take a class from Morgan. I guarantee you will go away with something beautiful your family will think you bought on the way home. Here is Morgan’s website to learn more about her and her classes –

http://www.westqueenstudio.com/


For the Love of Socks

 

 

It’s been the longest and the coldest winter. For months I have been wearing warm socks because I have no circulation in my extremities. You would think that now that we have a beautiful 80-degree sunny day I would be thrilled to run barefoot or at least just have sandals on.

 

I started the day in my Dansko Mary Jane sneakers and no socks. As the day went on I kept taking my shoes off to shake out any little speck of dirt that was annoying my barefoot as if I was the Princess and the Pea. Barely an eyelash of dust would fall out, yet when I put my shoe back on it felt so much better.

 

When I was a kid we went barefoot all summer. The bottom of my feet would be black by nighttime from running in the driveway. I remember this because my mother used to use the cleanliness of the bottom of our feet as proof we had taken a bath. When we did not want to take a whole bath my sisters and I would run a few inches of water in the tub and run around until our feet were clean and the tub was black. Once in our nightgowns when we went to say goodnight to my mother and had the feet check we appeared clean. Of course we were only cheating our selves, as is always the case.

 

Now that I am older not only do I prefer to be clean I apparently am totally annoyed by dirt. I wear disposable rubber gloves when I dig in the garden because I hate to have to scrape my beautiful black earth out from under my nails. And I guess that six months of socks has spoiled my feet.

 

As I walked on my treadmill today without socks on I kept shifting my toes and then my heels because the smallest thing was annoying my walking. I realized that all the cold months my socks had been keeping my feet cocooned, clean and safe and able to walk farther and faster. I guess with the spring here it is time to toughen up my feet and learn to ignore small irritants.

 

But the small things that annoy us can turn into the biggest things. A splinter, a paper cut or a thoughtless comment in passing. Today I realize what a big role socks have played in my walking life. It reminds me to pay attention to all the little things, like thanking my family or acknowledging a kindness, because I know too well that what is little to one might be big to someone else.


If You Tell The Truth You Will Lose Weight

 

 

“Honesty is the best policy,” is a saying that can be improved. I would rewrite it as “Honesty is your friend.” The problem with it saying it is the best policy implies that something other than honesty might be a good choice, not just the worst choice. The opposite of “Honesty is your friend,” is that being dishonest is either not your friend or your enemy, either way it is bad for you.

 

As a person who has gone up and down the scale multiple times there is one big lesson I have learned, forgotten, relearned, ignored and relearned again; that is that I must be honest with myself everyday. People who lose and gain weight know why it happens. It should not be a surprise.

 

When I went to Weight Watchers years ago and stood in line week after week to stand on the scale in front of some nice underpaid Weight Watcher worker I always knew if I was going to have a good week or a bad week. I was not alone there. I never once heard anyone say, “You’re kidding, I really gained two pounds?”

 

I was successful at Weight Watchers. It was easy. They gave me the rules and I learned that if I followed them, measured correctly, wrote down exactly what I was eating I would win the game. Eventually I got to the point that I knew way more than any Weight Watcher Leader, but I still went to meetings so I could be weighed in by someone else. I thought that I needed that accountability to be successful.

 

Then I started lying to myself, I can eat a cookie and maintain, then two cookies, then four. Then I gained weight, then I stopped going to meetings to get weighed in because I knew I was failing. So I kept failing and gaining and failing again.

 

Luckily I woke up one day and had an honest conversation with myself that I was the only one who could help me lose weight. If I just did the right things that I already knew, and held myself accountable then I would win. I did not need to have someone else weigh me, because that kept me one step away from my own accountability.

 

Not that I did not weigh myself everyday when I went to Weight Watchers, but somehow in the warped mind of a food addict I thought that if I was having a bad week and I did not get weighed in by that other person then that weight did not really count. I was giving my accountability away.

 

That poor person who did the weighing in had nothing to do with the food I put in my own mouth or the lack of exercise I might have done that week, but just having someone else in the equation somehow offered me a scapegoat. The bottom line is there is no fall guy in life. We are all responsible for our own SH%T, whatever it is.

 

Living honestly adds simplicity and life is hard enough. Dishonesty is truly your enemy.


Review of Losses

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My first job out of college was as a Sales Engineer selling Mail Opening and Extracting Machines. Don’t let the title impress you. I had a five state territory and as a twenty-two year old kid I was solely responsible for rooting out every possible receiver of more than 500 envelopes a day that needed to be opened, get to know them and then sell them at least one machine to do the work. Think of all the companies you paid your bills to back in the 80’s that had millions of dollars coming by checks that needed to be opened and extracted in order to be processed.

 

I know it sounds incredibly glamorous, and it was especially at 4:00 in the morning when I would be staking out the major post office sorting station and following trucks that would go and pick their mail up at the post office rather than waiting for it to be delivered back to their business to find new customers.

 

The mail opening business only had about three or four major players and I knew everyone of my competitors in my territory. I not only had to find new customers who did not have any machines and sell them, but I had to make sure my current customers were happy and up-to-date as well as try and steal away my competitors’ clients. It was more like the TV show Scandal than I’d like to admit.

 

The worst part about my job and the most memorable these 30 years later is when at quarterly sales meetings we had to review our losses in front of the worldwide sales team. Think of a hospital Morbid and Mortality (M&M) conference where a Doctor who has made a mistake had to stand up in a room in front of all their colleagues and discuss in detail what they did wrong. That is what review of losses was like for me, the youngest and usually the only woman in the room, only no one had died. The only saving grace was if I had already shared the loss with my boss and asked for his help all along the way. If the loss was news to my boss as well as everyone else in the room it was hell to pay. I only made that mistake once.

 

It is inevitable that in life we all are going to make some mistakes, but most of the time you do not have to dissect that error and lay yourself open for critique. I can relive in my head each time I had lost a big sale to one of my inferior competitors. It was not just the commission I was sorry about losing, it was the fact that I had to admit in front of God, (and the people that owned the company thought God worked there) and these witnesses that I had made mistakes, not called on a Vice President in a timely manor, or visited the operations center in time to know that they were getting a big new account and doubling the amount of mail that needed to be opened. In the end it was my fault and I had to own it and more importantly learn from it.

 

In the last few days I have had a couple of hard conversations with people who needed to do an M & M on the way they were handling a situation. The details of the story are not important, but a bigger problem was created because someone ignored having a hard conversation or thought someone else was going to do the dirty work. In the end that one hard conversation turned into many harder conversations. The loss was amplified because the details were ignored.

 

Ignoring bad news has never been a plan that works. The bad is still there and might be growing when you have your back turned. To paraphrase a song from Carley Simon, “If you think this blog is about you” it is. We all have bad, hard difficult things we have to deal with. Dealing with them head on is by far the easiest solution. Own it, learn from it and move on, never to make the same mistake twice.


A Taste of Life

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Tonight was the opening cocktail reception for the five-day TASTE extravaganza put on by my magazine. Since I have cut down working at Durham Magazine to writing one column an issue it was a fun night to get to see some of my pals. The party was held at TOPO distillery and featured cocktails made with their homegrown spirits and food from local cookbook authors with their books.

 

Considering my life on the wagon I had to ask the TOPO person if I could have the Spicy Cucumber in a virgin version. They were perfectly happy to leave the vodka out of my cucumber, lime, jalapeno and seltzer drink, which I greatly enjoyed.

 

My dear sweet editor Andrea told me that she was on the hunt for my missing underpants that I lost in 1984 and have sworn not to drink again until I find them. I told her that my daughter also wanted to find those underpants so she could see me drink just once. Andrea then realized that I was probably the same person drinking as I am not drinking…ding, ding, ding. That is why not drinking is not that hard for me.

 

The hard part about cocktail receptions is cocktail party food. Most things in the finger version come on a cracker or some other bread-like version. That leaves nothing but a half a deviled egg for me. I did find two cook book authors who had samples I could try. One was Andrea Weigl who wrote Pickles and Preserves and had a pickled yellow squash sample. It was yummy and timely since I just planted five yellow squash plants. The other author I liked was Fred Thompson whose book Southern Sides I purchased after tasting his black-eyed pea salad.

 

But parties are not just about food and drink. The real fun was spending time with people I love, but don’t get to spend enough time with. Tonight I had a surprise of getting to visit with my friend Treat, who is perfectly named. I have not seen her since her wedding to Regina, which I was very sorry I was unable to go to since she had to marry in Maryland and not North Carolina.

 

I may not be able to fully enjoy all the parts of a cocktail reception but I fully enjoyed myself at this one. It is never about what I can’t have, but what I can.


Happy Earth Day

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Every couple of days my computer puts a little reminder about some public holiday that is automatically on my calendar. I am sure that this is some setting I have ascribed to and now don’t know how to turn off. I like reminders, but I usually don’t need to be told Christmas is coming tomorrow or it is tax day. I think there have been plenty of other hints to alert me.

 

To top it off I get not one or two of these little reminder boxes, but at least four and they all come at the same time. For as smart as computers can be sometimes they are incredibly stupid, or at least the user is an idiot. Enough said.

 

Yesterday the four box reminders popped up and told me “Earth Day tomorrow.” Huh, a reminder I actually did not already know. Suddenly I was transported back to my childhood. I was about to turn nine when the first earth happened in 1970. Back then we called taking care of the environment Ecology. John Lindsay was Mayor of New York City and he took this whole thing very seriously even going out to pick up trash in the street of NY himself. It was a big job because back then NYC was full of trash and rats.

 

It seems like we have gotten control over trash in the streets, but we are not completely in control of taking care of the earth. We have just gotten better at hiding our trash. I try and recycle, but admit that I sometimes throw away a bottle when I am out in public rather than bringing it home and putting it in my recycling. I sometimes forget my reusable bags at home and when I get to the grocery store I realize they are all still sitting on my table in the garage.

 

So in honor of earth day I went out and bought arugula seeds and squash, tomato, cucumber and pepper plants to put in my vegetable garden. Not only is it the best way to use the earth, but also I will cut down on my carbon footprint by walking the few feet to my garden when I want food. I also will not need to recycle the plastic clam shells the store arugula comes in and no bags will be needed when I gather vegetables out of the garden rather than at the store.

 

If each of us planted just a few vegetables in our own pots or gardens it would cut down on the fuel used to move commercial vegetables from the farms they are grown in to the store and then to our houses. Lettuce and herbs are incredibly easy to grow and taste so much better when picked right before eating.

 

In case your computer did not send you reminders that it is Earth Day don’t feel bad, you are just better at calendar management than I am. But let me be your reminder to do something nice for our Mother Earth. You might also enjoy the fruits of your good deeds.


Puritan Curse

 

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There is one thing I think most everyone I know can agree on; there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. If I were to actually write down all that I need to do I am sure the list would be five or six pages long. Thank goodness I don’t have time to do that.

 

At this point I have a few priorities of things that I always do everyday. Of course walking 20,000 is probably the thing that takes the longest and could be cut down in an emergency, but since I am able to accomplish other things while I walk I somehow get it done most days. Like most people the things that would be on my list are dull and boring and that is why they stay on the list. Or they are things that never end, like laundry or cooking.

 

Today, being Easter Monday, it is like a holiday, at least in my mind. Carter did not have school and my father-in-law was visiting until his departure this morning. So my calendar was blank of outside the house stuff. But that is hardly a holiday. I had a story to write for Durham Magazine and chores to do.

 

It occurred to me as I was prioritizing my day that perhaps I was looking at everything backwards. Rather than trying to get as many things done that I did not want to do maybe I should do the fun things first and then fill in with the work?

 

So I worked on the puzzle my father–in-law started over the weekend for a good hour. Then I watched last night’s Mad Men while I walked. All the while I ignored my pressing chores in favor of fun. Eventually I guess I felt like I wanted to do some work and got right down to writing, did a few loads of laundry, answered some e-mails from last week, and paid a few bills.

 

Somehow I still feel a little guilty as I pass by the puzzle and see that the yellow and orange sections are done. I’m sure I probably got about the same amount done by playing first and working second, but somehow it feels wrong. I wonder if I kept my calendar totally free of outside obligations if I could get through the bigger list of looming projects and thus alleviate future guilt if I played first and worked second?

 

I don’t know why I dream of this because I can’t imagine it ever happening. I am not quite sure if playing first is worth the guilty feeling. I guess that puritan work ethic is too ingrained. Damn.


Easter’s Over Deviled Eggs

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On Friday I had to stop in at Chapel Hill Needlepoint to turn in two ornaments I had finished and pick up supplies for my next project. My stitching friends around the table had been having a multi-day conversation about deviled eggs, which I was quickly sucked into. Two major questions brewed; what was the best way to boil eggs to facilitate easy and clean peeling and what did I use in my stuffing?

 

As I have reported often in the past my mother is not much on cooking, but there are two things she makes famously, Tomato Aspic and Deviled eggs. She is of the simplicity in stuffing school, mustard, mayonnaise, and a touch of cider vinegar, garnished with a sprinkling of paprika for the touch of the devil. Simple as they are they are always yummy and no matter how many there are there are never enough. I tend to stick with that simple way my mother taught me, although I sometimes add a dash of hot sauce as my devil ingredient and never sprinkle paprika.

 

My favorite book on all things “Stuffed Eggs” as they call them is Being Dead Is No Excuse- The Official Southern Ladies guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral.” The hysterical little book is half a cookbook and half a comedy comparing the difference between Episcopal and Methodist Funerals in the Mississippi Delta. Stuffed Eggs and Pimento Cheese have their own chapter in this book. The authors don’t say which makes a better stuffed egg, be it the savory type or the sweet, made so by the addition of sweet pickle relish. Even these two opinionated southerners know it’s best not to get in the middle of that fight. So it’s all a matter of what you like best to stuff in your eggs. I will go out on a limb and say the simpler the better. There is only so much room in half of an egg white.

 

Now to the big question of making easy to peel eggs. The older the egg before you boil it the easier it is to peel. I’m talking like at least a few weeks old. It does not matter if you start the eggs in a pot of cold water or put them into a boiling pot, it’s the age of the eggs that makes the inner membrane pull away from the shell. That being said how many of us plan weeks ahead when we are making deviled eggs? The best answer is found at the grocery store now—boiled and peeled eggs – all the work is done for you for just a dollar or two more than raw eggs. They taste exactly like you boiled them yourself with none of the work.

 

So if you have a bunch of dyed eggs sitting around your house and were thinking of making deviled eggs, don’t, throw them away and buy the ones that already peeled. I know it may sound wasteful, but the peeling time you will save is worth it. What you stuff in them is up to you, but I bet you will do it just like your mother.


Paris Revisited Jicama and Green Apple Slaw

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When we were in Paris last month we visited a tiny Bistro called Chez Adrienne twice. It was the only place we loved so much to revisit. It was a tiny four-table place with a chef and one server. The menu was four or five starters and mains written on a chalkboard. On my second visit I had a Jicama and Apple salad as my starter. As is often the case in really good food it was very simple and memorable at the same time.

 

I have been dreaming of recreating it in a slightly more healthy way since it had mayonnaise in it. The mayo is important so I kept it in this version, but cut down considerably on the amount. After one bite I was immediately transported back.

 

1 softball sized Jicama- peeled

2 granny smith apples

Juice of one lime

½ cup light Mayo

3 packets of Splenda

Salt and Pepper

 

It is quick and easy to make this if you have a shredding attachment for a food processor. Grate the peeled Jicama and then grate the granny smith apple with the skin on. Place it all in a bowl and mix in the other ingredients. It is too dry add a little more limejuice before adding more mayo.


Appliance Gremlins

 

 

Carter spent the night at a friend’s last night and Russ got up early to run into the office for a bit before his father’s post lunch arrival so I was taking a few extra moments to sleep in this morning. I should have skipped the sleeping in.

 

When I did get up I noticed the dishwasher was running. I needed to wash the sheets in the guest room and take a shower so I tried to time all the hot water consuming activities to line up together. When I heard the dishwasher click into drying mode I jumped in the shower. After dressing I stripped the guest bed and took the sheets to the laundry. On my way back through the kitchen I heard an odd sound coming from the dishwasher and was altered by the flashing lights that something was awry.

 

A big “F70” was flashing to the beat of “Warning, Will Robinson” from Lost in Space. Not now I thought. I pushed the off button on the machine, but the loud sound did not stop. I searched in the “manuals” drawer and found only the Meile warranty book that at least had the service phone and web site. I dialed New Jersey and after following all 6 appropriate prompts met with the message that the service was closed for the Holiday. Really? It was 9:00 on Good Friday and I was faced with the thought of no dishwasher over the long weekend and my father-in-law visiting.

 

Just then the phone rang and said in-law announced he was in Durham, but had taken a wrong turn. He was only four hours early so a wrong turn was good news to me since the sheets were just in the washer. I gave him instructions to correct the wrong turn and knew that I had twenty minutes.

 

I called Russ and left him a message at work. Get home! I turned to my computer to look at the Meile website to find a repairman and guess what, the closed office also included the department that helps you find a local repairman. Do not buy a Meile if you expect it to work on a holiday.

 

I goggled Meile repair in NC and called three places. Two said they don’t work on Meile and the third being an obvious Meile repair place was closed for the holiday. Out of desperation I goggled Meile F70 and came upon a Mr. Fixit post about solving the issue himself. I studied and went to my dishwasher, which was a different model from the one in the post. Since I did not have a front kick panel to remove I decided to do the one thing I know to do when something is broken. I shook my dishwasher.

 

The bad sound stopped. I turned the machine on the F-70 had disappeared even though I had already tried turning the machine on and off before. I restarted the machine and lo and behold a Good Friday miracle. Since I learned from Mr. Fixit that F-70 meant the float was activated because water had gone into the bottom of the washer I guess I just got the float to go back down and whatever water was in there had already drained away. I certainly did not fix the cause of the problem but let’s hope I at least bought myself a weekend of dishwashing.


Body Geography

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Between meetings about teenage stress, and communications strategies I got my haircut and my nails done. Seemed like the right thing to do since Easter was coming. I am young enough that I don’t have a weekly standing appointment to get my hair pumped up like women a generation or two older than I am do a day or two before church, but I still would like to look somewhat presentable on Easter Sunday.

 

When I say I got my nails done I think I should clarify that by saying I had my old tired hands rubbed and my pitiful short nails polished in a color so as not to draw any attention to them. When all that lotioning was done I looked at the back of my hands and they appeared to resemble one of those plastic 3-D maps we used to have in school of the Rocky Mountains and the Colorado River. By hands have lost most of their fat and the blue veins stand proud of the hands as they traverse the knuckle mountain range.

 

What I will never understand is how my body decides which fat to get rid of first when it is in need of fuel and which fat it thinks I need to hold on to in case of a marathon running emergency. You would think that at some point my body might say, “Hey there is plenty of belly fat to spare, let’s let some of it go,” and send it a pink slip in the weight loss paycheck. But no, skinny hands and feet seem to be the priority. It is kind of like the remote branches of my body get the cuts first before the home office.

 

Thinner hands are nothing but age snapshots. There is a reason that women used to wear gloves. Although thinner hands look old it does not really affect my clothing, as does the weight loss in my feet. These days I am finding myself walking around on the inside of my shoes. It is not really a problem for my Mary Jane sneakers since the strap will hold them onto my feet, but for things like pumps I am having trouble not walking out of them.

I hope that my hands and feet can settle into a good plateau and the mountain ranges of my thighs and stomach can begin to contribute their fat stores to the universe. I am not expecting to become some salt flat dessert, but I look forward to wearing down the rolling hills.


In Preparation for Easter

 

 

Despite the freezing weather Easter is almost upon us. I know I should be in deep prayerful thought during this holy week and I am, just probably not about what I should be praying for. Currently my prayers are about what meals I am going to need to prepare and what food will I need to have on hand for the four-day weekend.

 

Normally Easter is a breeze. My parents come for church and then the five of us go to the club for the Easter buffet. What could be easier? No one has to cook and everyone has plenty of yummy choices that make the holiday seem special. There are even some not too fattening choices for me, so in the end people are happy, and then everyone goes home. No leftover ham or leg of lamb to try and coax my non-leftover eating child to consume later.

 

This year we have the special treat of my father-in-law coming for the four-day holiday. He is a very easy guest and not a picky eater, but his visit is going to change the dynamics of our families eating.   First we are going to have to actually eat together and second we are going to have to try and eat the same thing at the same time.

 

Our family has fallen into the routine of eating different things at different times. I know that it is not good, but between school and work schedules not everyone is around or can wait in order to eat at the same time. Top it off with the situation of my trying not to eat too much in the evening and Carter wanting a different meal tonight than she had last night or the night before and we have a real kettle of fish. Russ is the easiest person to feed because he will eat any old leftover and is perfectly happy to make himself a plate of whatever he can find.

 

Since I was a caterer in a past life I have no trouble making food, but what I like to make and what I like to eat are not really what my father-in-law would choose. He is of the plain food era. It is just hard for me to come up with menus that are going to please more than two of the four of us.

 

I don’t know about your family, but for us when we have guests, cooking and eating are a major part of what we have to do together. Even discussing what and where we will eat are paramount conversations. It causes me a little fear because I have my family at a fairly self sufficient point so I don’t have to be around a lot of foods I love, but are trying to avoid. Even though my father-in-law does not eat much I still feel the need to provide nice meals for him and ensure that his granddaughter will be at the table too.

 

So this is my prayer, “Please God, let’s have everyone get along at Easter. Please help me provide the right things, so there are no fights, hurt feelings or complaints. Please let everyone be thankful for all that they have and remember those who have less.”


Mango Mint Slushy

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The mint has started to come up in my garden and the only way to keep it from taking over is to find ways to use it.

 

I bought a boatload of mangos the other day because they are my favorite cheep fruit right now. I decided to make a mango drink. I did not want to make a smoothie with any dairy just because I did not want the added calories. So I made a slushy—it would be a great base for a libationous drink too, so if you feel inclined add some tequila, rum or vodka.

 

Flesh of one mango

8 big mint leaves

2 T. limejuice

1 cup of soda water and 1 cup of crushed ice

Depending on how sweet your mango is you might want to add a few drops of honey

 

Put all the ingredients in a blender- drink. You think you can follow that recipe?


Birthday Surprise

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Today is my friend Jeanne Behr’s birthday. Since it is a day of some significance her husband David wanted to surprise her and I was invited to help. Jeanne has liked my mother’s artwork for a long time so David asked me to set up a visit for the three of us to my mother’s art barn.

 

At two this afternoon David and Jeanne drove up to my house and I came out with my needlepoint in tow and got in their car. By this point Jeanne had figured out what the surprise was. It was a treat for me because I got to spend the afternoon being chauffeured to the farm, spend a big portion of her birthday with Jeanne and needlepoint the whole way up and back since David drove.

 

My mother was also happy that she had a customer at her art barn. Since Hom-a-gen Farm is not exactly in the cultural center of the universe only those people in the know come and shop for art there. Jeanne has been a student of my mother’s art website so she already had a good idea of what she liked. Thank goodness paintings of women topped her list since there are many of those.

 

It did not take long for Jeanne to settle on “Sunburn” since it looked a lot like her. David it turns out has a good eye for art. Leaning against the wall behind another painting he picked out “tour de France” which just happens to be the most expensive painting in the place since it has won a bunch of prestigious art shows. Lucky for David Jeanne wanted the painting with a woman in it.

 

After the transaction had taken place we went back to the big house to have a birthday glass of wine before we made the trek back to Durham. Everyone was happy. My mother had a check and Jeanne had a painting, David got full credit for planning a fulfilling birthday and I got to go along for the ride and spend time with my friend on her big day.

 

If anyone else wants to celebrate with art let me know. I get big points with my mother whenever I bring customers to the art barn. When my mother sells painting my father is happy too. Visit her website at http://www.janecarterart.com
So happy birthday Jeanne. I can’t wait to see “Sunburn” in your office. I hope you will always smile and remember your fun day whenever you look at it.


Refrigerator Invisibility Cloak

 

 

If I had kept a tally of every question my child has ever asked me, “What is for lunch?” would surely be at the top of the leader board. When she was so small that I had to make her lunch I would expect that question. Now she is old enough to make her own lunch and I still get the same question.

 

I am not sure, but I wonder if there is some Harry Potter like Invisibility cloak in my refrigerator. Why is it that only a mother is able to open the door and look in and indentify all the foods staring me in the face. I am wondering if this is something that exists in other homes.

 

I know that the answers I am giving about the lunch choices are often met with great disappointment. The original question should not be “What is for lunch?” but “Have you bought any new and exciting foods that you are hiding on me?” The answer would always be the same, “No.”

 

The question she really wants to ask is, “Mom, have you been taken over by aliens and bought some junk food?” That possibility is greater than my not being asked, “What is for lunch?” in the first place.

 

So far in my life I have never thrown away a refrigerator full of perfectly good food and gone out and bought all new food so why does anyone in my house need to ask me what is available. Perhaps someone thinks that suddenly some kind of restaurant has popped up in our kitchen with an ever-changing menu of specials — Don’t hold your breath.

 

My mother never liked cooking and hated grocery shopping even more. That is probably why I am a good cook. I had to learn to forage and create with the least. Perhaps it’s not too late to try that strategy here in my house. I could make the answer to the “What’s for lunch?” question really easy –“ Whatever you can find in the garden.”


When He Is Risen Is Time To Plant

 

 

Mother Nature is cruel. Just when we think we are going to poke our eyes out if we have another freezing cold day she brings us spring. Ok, so that part does not sound so mean, that is until you go outside to enjoy the newly warmed earth and are confronted with the drapery of spring pollen.

 

Hello, spring in North Carolina is here and we know it from the thick coating of fine yellow dust everywhere. Right now it is coming mostly from Trees and Pine (which I thought were trees) according to the weather channel’s pollen cast.

The clouds of pollen rolling down the golf course across the street from my house look more like giant tumbleweeds than the minute irritants that have banded together to make us all suffer.

 

Walking outside, even if just for the three minutes my dog needs to pee I feel as if I have been in a dust shower. My eyes itch and the back of my throat gets dry and it feels as if my esophagus’ sides have been pinched together and stuck like a half blown up wet balloon. What I wish for is one of those air curtains like serious scientific labs have where they blow everything off you in a cleansing way before you enter a room.

 

Normally in this neck of the woods we have had more than a few really nice 80 degree days sprinkled in January and February before the pollen starts, but not this year. So the insult is that we have hardly had a good time outdoors before being driven back in to escape the allergens and the impending heat.

 

I need to work in my garden, but am yet to pull one weed or turn one shovel full of dirt. A farmer recently told me that I should never plant my summer vegetables until after Easter. Considering that Easter has about a six week spread in its potential date I wondered what Jesus had to do with my ability to grow green beans. I could answer that question myself in that it is a total miracle that I can put a seed in the ground and wait two months and then eat what comes up, but that is a greater theological question than I am prepared to deal with today.

 

I decided to ask my Uncle Wilson, a retired Minister what Easter had to do with planting my garden and he explained how the Easter date is determined. Easter is the first Sunday after a full moon after the spring equinox. Uncle Wilson said that the planting time is tied to the Moon and not to Jesus. That makes a lot more sense to me.

 

Now the problem is that I am going to have to plant in the high pollen season. Yuck and double yuck. So right now I am praying for a wet end to this week to knock the pollen down, bring on a yellow dust free Easter and warmed soil fit for planting. If you went ahead and planted already because the warm weather enticed you should think about covering up your tender plants Wednesday night. It may go back down to freezing. Easter hasn’t happened yet and I always trust a farmer.


Driving Happiness

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If I am having one of those days when I can’t make any humans happy I can easily turn to my sweet dog Shay Shay and make her happy. Now she is not one of those smiley dogs who are always happy to see you. In fact she is really quite reserved. But even in her Lange introverted way I know one thing I can do that will make her jump for joy…take her for a ride in the car.

 

Given a choice Shay would rather go get in any one of our cars and drive any place. She would prefer to sit on the lap of the driver which I will not admit to letting her do, but just being in a car in any seat makes her happy.

 

I am thrilled that winter is coming to an end, but for Shay the impending hot weather means fewer car rides and certainly only ones where Russ or I may just be dropping Carter off somewhere and coming right home. Perhaps she can still go through the drive thru dry cleaners with Russ where she always gets not just one, but two milk bones. It is so funny how much she loves those dog biscuits in the car. We have bought the exact same brand and she turns her nose up at them at home.

 

Shay seems to have a good internal clock and comes and sits by the garage door around the time for me to go pick Carter up at school. She does not always get to go, but that never stops her from sitting by the door and looking at me with a pitiful please take me look.

 

I can remember a time when I was little and all I wanted to do was ride in the car too. One of my earliest memories was when I was about three years old. My dad had a black Corvair and I was playing in the car while it was parked in our driveway in Dayton, Ohio. I put a penny in the lighter and started the car on fire. I don’t remember getting out of the car so I’m not sure if the fire started right away, but what I do recall is being sent to my room and my punishment for starting the fire was that I was told not to look out my bedroom window at the fire engines. I was mostly upset about losing my penny.

 

I know the car survived because I also remember being five years old in New Canaan and having to push the car down the slight slope of our little street so my Dad could pop the clutch and get the car started. Pushing the car was not so much what I remember, but my Dad yelling at me to jump in the moving car once he turned the engine over was very memorable. I guess I was too short to reach the pedals and that is why I had to do the pushing.

 

Now that Carter is learning to drive she too loves to go in the car as long as she is driving. I can hardly wait until she gets her real license so she can do all the errands and drive Shay Shay around. Although I will not miss trips to the dry cleaners I wonder what I am going to do to make the beings in my house happy?


You Have No Equal

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I was making my roast cauliflower, caper and yellow raisin salad today. As I reached in my fridge for my giant bottle of Capers I saw a phrase on the bottle that I have consistently ignored, “Non-Pareilles” that I have read on many different brands of capers. Having just returned from Paris where my limited knowledge of the French language had been restored it finally dawned on me that “Non-Pareilles” was not some type of flower blossom or variety of caper, but the phrase, “Not parallel” or translated into better English, “has no equal.”

 

I don’t know how these capers got this high class branding but it made me interested in learning more about capers. What I found out was that the smaller the caper the better the flavor, supposedly. Since we are caper aficionados in my house we might beg to differ since we really like caper berries that are giant forms of capers with stems. But then I got to thinking that I have only ever eaten small, medium and berry sized capers and enjoyed them all.

 

I don’t have any medium sized capers in the house so I could not find a jar that said they were “Non-Pareilles” or not, but I am assuming those medium sized ones were just plain ‘ole capers- equal in everyway.

 

Why I am going down this rabbit hole is it started to make me mad that the small things were considered to “have no equal” when clearly every jar of the small caper that was labeled as “non-pareilles” was equal to another. Why was small better? Sometimes being larger is considered better, as in jumbo shrimp. Those little tiny salad shrimp have virtually no flavor in comparison.

 

I fully understand when sometimes something that is smaller tastes better because it may not be as tough, but just because something is small does not make it better. I want to stand up for all the big things on earth and say they have no equal also. Really, everything and everyone is unique and deserves to be considered special and not just in French. So you medium sized capers I declare you to be special too and I would do it in Spanish if I could, especially since that is where I have eaten you.

No matter your size, nothing is equal to you be you a flower blossom or a person!


BMI Depression

 

 

Just when I think I am getting close to a good goal weight I went and did the stupid thing of checking my Body Mass Index. Normally I would not do such a masochistic thing, but I got some spam e-mail that did not get trapped in my “don’t bother me junk mailbox” and I clicked on it.

 

According to the skinny police I still need to lose 12% of my whole body to be at the very top of the healthy weight BMI. That is a lot more weight than I was thinking about losing. But here is the really depressing part, the range is something like 45 pounds. WHAT? The SP (that’s skinny police) say that the healthy BMI range for my exact age, height and gender is a 45 pound range – that is an almost 30% difference between the top and bottom.

 

I cannot imagine what planet I would have to live on to weigh 35% less than I do now. So in the best head in the sand way I am willing to split the difference and try and lose 6% more weight, not 12% and heaven forbid, not 35%. If I were to get that skinny I would be nothing but a skin bag of wrinkles.

 

There comes a point when an older woman just looks like hell because she is too thin. Sounds like a great rationalization, but honestly, I know a little fat on my face is a good thing. Sure my thighs, stomach and the undersides of my arms could handle a 35% reduction, but unfortunately I can’t spot reduce. I would get a too thin face and still have fat on my thighs.

 

My suggestion is don’t click on any BMI calculator. Use your clothes and your own mirror to figure out what the right weight for you is. If a range is so big it just is not right and a 45 range is too much.


Sitting Is The New Smoking

 

 

The other day someone who knew I had a standing desk told me that “sitting was the new smoking.” I was not sure that it had quite gotten to that point and then I really started to think about it.

 

I don’t know many people who just sit around anymore. I know companies that almost never have meetings sitting down because they find they last too long. If you hold a meeting and everyone has to stand the whole time it takes is cut way down because those people who like to talk just to hear themselves are too tired from standing.

 

I asked my friend Stephanie what she wanted to do to celebrate her birthday and she said take a walk and get a cup of coffee. I presume we won’t sit while enjoying the coffee since we probably could walk and drink at the same time.

 

I wonder if sitting is going to be something people only do in secret because it is so socially unacceptable to be so lazy just to be sitting? If so, do you think they will do away with seats on buses and subways because everyone will prefer to stand?

 

Imagine in twenty years watching reruns of the TV show, The Office will people look at it and think, “Oh my god, people used to sit at work” the way we look at Mad Men and think, “Oh my god, people used to smoke and drink at work.”

 

Will sitting be something people just do for pleasure? Will you go on vacation and just sit or like smoking will most everyone give it up except for the very old who are so addicted to it and why bother giving up such an unhealthy habit as sitting since they are going to die soon anyway.

 

If sitting really is the new smoking I would not invest in any company making chairs. Do you think I could short chair stocks? I might invest in adult bibs though because standing and eating, let alone walking and eating is a lot messier than sitting.

 

As much as I stand and walk now I really hope that sitting does not go away completely because it is still one of my favorite things to do. I may be really out of fashion saying that out loud.


Sweet and Sour Beef – More German than Chinese

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This weekend my friend Suzanne asked me how my eggs and cabbage recipe really tasted because it was the worst looking food photo she had ever seen. I agreed that the picture was bad, but that the flavor was good. The picture did look exactly like the dish, not that appetizing.

 

I’m writing this recipe before I take the picture and I hope that it is a good picture because I just tasted this dish and it is yummy. Sometimes when I make up a new dish that has a long cooking time I am just winging it and hope for the best. This is one of those times, but I am glad that I wrote it down before I forgot what I put in it because it is a keeper.

 

3 pounds of stew beef or short ribs

3 yellow onions

6 cloves of garlic

A knob of ginger about the size of an egg -peeled

1 c. Sherry

¼ c. soy sauce

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

¼ c. sugar

1 c. beef broth

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1T. Coriander

¼ t. cinnamon

1 bottle of chili sauce

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Using a Dutch oven, heat the pan on the stove on high heat. Spray with Pam. Salt and pepper the raw beef and brown in batches so you don’t crowd the meat in the pan. When all sides of the meat are browned, remove from the pot and set aside until all the meat is browned.

 

Put the onions, garlic and ginger in the food processor and pulse until it is chopped. Add to the Dutch oven and turn the heat down to medium and cook for five minutes. Add the sherry, soy, vinegar, sugar, broth, and spices and bring to a boil.

 

Add the meat back to the pan and pour the chili sauce into the pan. Cover with lid and place in the oven.

 

Cook for two to three hours depending on the size and toughness of your meat. It should be fork tender. Remove the pot from the oven and take the meat out of the pan and put it in a container covered to keep it warm.

 

Put the Dutch oven with the liquid on the stove and with the top off simmering it for 30 minutes to reduce the sauce by at least half. Spoon the sauce over the meat to serve.


Fear of Flight Attendants

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Today we had brunch with Carter’s Godmother Suzanne and her husband Steve and sons Jack and Oliver. Since we are the oldest of friends and our kids have grown up together it always makes for a great morning. Carter feels most at home with them because they are a tall family. I am like a Chihuahua around them, they can hear me but I have to jump up to be seen. Even Oliver who is in sixth grade is passing me in height.

 

Jack is a major runner so he was very interested in my walking life. I told him that this morning on CBS Sunday morning they were talking about the Kenyan marathon winner who trains by running 100 miles a week. Jack said that he runs about 40 miles a week in track season and 70 in cross-country. I felt a great amount of satisfaction in my walking almost 70 miles a week. Just a little further and perhaps I could be a winning marathon…walker?

 

Sadly after brunch we had to leave to go to the airport. I won’t say which airline we were flying, but it was not Southwest, United, Jet Blue or Delta. The security line was practically non-existent so we got to the gate with enough time to sit down. Thankfully we wiggled our way between the hundreds of other waiting passengers and found seats right beside the gate agent and her co-worker Leroy.

 

For the half an hour we waited I got a loud earful of all the times Leroy had thrown passengers off planes, threatened to ban them from ever flying again or purposely left carry-on bags of passengers he did not like the jet way. It was like a Saturday Night Live routine of the worst customer service stories you would never want your customers to hear.

 

If I had been this guys boss and heard him recounting his horrible behavior to a co-worker whether there were passengers listening or not I would have done everything possible to fire him. Leroy is not the first flight attendant of this particular carrier that I have heard boast about treating perceived trouble making passengers badly. Why is it that some flight attendants feel they need to broadcast their poor customer service skills?

 

I never hear a check out person at the Harris Teeter talk about pain in the ass customers and I sure see plenty of them. I can’t think of a time that I heard an employee in a public facing job brag about being rude, except at the airport.

 

Thankfully Leroy was not our flight attendant, he was just there to bitch with the gate agent. I still made sure that I was not my normal Chihuahua self, drawing attention as I boarded the plane. I did not want Leroy to throw my plane checked carry-on bag off the jet way.


Walking The High Line

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We are in NYC with our friends the Hollands from Toronto. We first met them when we were on spring break in St. Croix about eight years ago. They were there with their youngest daughter Abby who is six months older than Carter. As I tend to do when we are on vacation I told Carter to go over and meet Abby so that she had someone to play with. She balked, but eventually did it.

Turned out that not only did Abby and Carter have fun on vacation, but we got to know her parents Matt and Nancy and adore them. Matt eventually became an advisor to Russ’ business and we have gotten to go on some fun trips with them for work.

Matt and Nancy are great walkers so they were up for a walking adventure today. We started by trekking downtown to the east village to have brunch at Prune. Russ and I have been big fans of Gabrielle Hamilton’s tiny restaurant ever since we first read about her in chowhound and visited years ago. Then she wrote a book called Blood, Bones & Butter — Not only can she cook, but she is a great story teller too.

We luckily only had to wait a little for a table for six and we enjoyed a decadent brunch. I had the smoked fish plate from the iconic appetizing store Russ and Daughters that happens to be across the street. It was enough smoked fish for our whole table to enjoy.

After brunch Carter who is getting a cold, left us and the remainder of the group meandered through Little Italy, China Town and the West Village to get to the High Line. The High Line is the public Park built on the west side elevated freight train line. It is an extraordinary repurposing of something that could be a detriment to a neighborhood, but now is a beautiful asset.

It was a far nicer walk above the noise of the street with beautiful gardens and interesting design. Nothing is better than good friends, good food and a good walk. That’s the high life.


I Want Pay-By-The-Bite

Eating when traveling can be a mind field. For someone like me who eats exactly the same thing for breakfast everyday and relatively the same thing for lunch in some form of a salad, when I am out of my own kitchen I get nervous. To top it all off I really like to get what I pay for. Yes, some might say I am cheep. Add to the equation the fact that I like to eat three meals everyday and don’t bother snacking.

Given all my quirks, eating in New York City makes me crazy. Yes, it is a great food city. Any kind of cuisine you want and the best of it can be found here, practically everywhere you look. And lots of the foods I try and avoid are surrounding me. Yesterday on my big walk in the space of two blocks I passed a mini cupcake store and regular sized cupcake store and a cupcake ATM. Are you trying to kill me NYC? Thank god I was moving fast.

Last night Russ’ team dinner was at our perennial favorite Union Square Cafe. Since we had a group we had a pre-set family style meal. I had chosen the menu from the list I was given but had no idea the giant portions they would serve. I had a little of the salad, green apple, greens, pecorino with walnuts to die for, skipped the frito misto seafood, had one air pillow of a ricotta gnocchi and a spoonful of the pasta with guanciale, Brussels sprouts and black pepper cream that was deemed by the Italian experts at the tale to be better than any pasta any of us have had anywhere, even Italy.

As if all that was not enough the main course of roasted Amish Chicken, glazed carrots, roasted spring onions and a sinful parmigiana bread pudding arrived. I don’t know what Amish do to chicken, but clearly denying them of electricity pays off. The rest of the table had a warm brownie custard and I had decaf.

I ate only a bite or two of the things I did try but paid for thirty three bites. The waiter kept asking if we wanted to wrap things up. Not an option when staying at a hotel. It was yummy, too yummy, but I would have been happy with just the salad.

This morning I went to breakfast and had a $38 egg white with a dash of regular egg omelette. I did not eat the tomato, potato, salad or toast. If I was allowed to just buy the bites I am eating I would be much happier.

Today in the freezing cold Susan Beatty and I finally were so cold from walking that we sought out a refuge for lunch. We ended up in the grill in Bryant park. At last warmth and the perfect meal for me. A tiny kale salad with one section of grapefruit, three pecans, one fig and some port vinegar reduction. Susan looked at it and said, “that is not much of a lunch.” At least I actually ate all I was given and did not let it go to waste.
It was perfect, except for the price. It is New York after all.


NYC Walking Utterance

In my quest to walk off these final pounds I seem to be taking a spring walking tour of the world’s great cities. Last month it was London and Paris and today it is New York City, otherwise known to me as “the city”. Since I grew up in Connecticut and my Dad worked here for over 20 years New York was always the only city to me. Everyplace else felt like a big town because their buildings were not high enough or their streets were not wide enough.

New York is any easy city to walk in since the grid layout means you can always ensure you are going the right direction. Once you understand the east and west sides and which way is which you are set.

I’m here thanks to Russ having a meeting where wives were invited. True to form once we bought our tickets and made the plan to fly up first thing this morning Russ’ plans changed and he had to go to Grand Rapids Michigan and is flying I tonight. That meant I had a free day today.

I called my best college friend Suzanne and was lucky enough to get her for a good walk and lunch between her bridge lesson and her dinner tonight. So as soon as I dropped my bags at the hotel I began my trek to get my 20,000 steps on the streets of the city.

I walked from 30th and 6th Ave. uptown to 72nd and Central Park West. Since I traveled up Broadway I was surrounded by many tourists. I counted at least thirteen different languages as I eavesdropped on conversations. I must have heard at least that many different accents speaking English as well. My favorite thing I heard was a little irish boy who said, “But Da, where are the gold streets?” In my heart I wondered if he thought the streets were paved in gold.

Once I got to Central Park West I met up with Suzanne and we had a great walk through the park where the crocuses and daffodils were blooming. We meandered back to her house on 87th and first where we had lunch and caught up on our lives. Actually I got to catch up on her’s since the whole world is caught up on mine through the blog.

Sadly I had to leave my friend so I could walk back to the hotel and change for dinner. I zigged zagged downtown the 60 blocks only stopping once to buy a pair of shoes. The conversations I overheard varied by neighborhood. As I was walking down First Ave. through Yorkville I heard a mother tell her grade school son, “four pairs of sneakers was his limit.”

As I passed by Soul Cycle a sweaty young twenty something coming out of a class turned to her friend and said, “I’m coming back to the seven o’clock class tonight.” That is what I call an obsession I thought.

I was crossing Park Ave. by Hunter College and a girl said to a guy, “No, no and for the last time no”. I was dying to know what she was refusing him, but I still had miles to go so I kept moving. As I crossed over Fifth Ave. and was on the west side I heard my favorite utterance of the day, I big burly guy screaming into his phone said, “My general counsel is going to fuck you up”. I love New York.

My fitbit buzzed my 20,000 steps well before I arrived back at the hotel. We at walking down to Union Square for dinner so this is going to be a big step day as of course New York City should be.

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Don’t Plan Too Much

 

 

It never fails that when I have a day that has every moment planned and accounted for that is the day when thanks to someone else’s carelessness a big wrench gets thrown in the schedule. I will not be naming names or calling anyone out, but why do other people’s emergencies have to become my problem? The truth is that someone else’s problem causes me an emergency that only I can fix.

 

This is when I have to take a big breath and just work it out. Of course it is nothing life threatening, unless I am doing the threatening, but that won’t solve the problem. Really the best answer is fix the problem with kindness and ignore how difficult it is going to be to get everything done before the absolute drop dead end point.

Anger at an honest mistake just builds up whatever the chemical is that makes me want to eat something or drive my car through a wall or something else equally bad. So to the person who needs me, I am here to help you and I am not angry with you.

 

But to anyone else don’t ask me for anything today. I am right on the edge.


I Have Walked 10,000 Miles!

 

 

OK, It’s April Fools Day! The truth is not bad either…at 9:48 my fitbit messaged me that I had walked 1,000 miles! If you are a faithful reader you might remember that on Feb 3 I wrote I had walked 500 miles in three months and one day. I thought that was fairly good because before I got my fitbit I estimate I was walking something like three miles a day and that at that rate it would take me about five and a half months to walk 500 miles.

 

Being competitive, especially with myself, I decided to see if I could walk 500 miles in two months instead of three. That was a big jump, but I calculated that if I did 20,000 steps a day I could do it. The power of math! I was right. I made my goal two days early thanks to walking more than nine miles a day on a bunch of days to help make up for two sick days and two flying days.

 

Now to prove that all this walking is a good thing I can report with scientific accuracy that I lost 9.8 pounds in the time I walked the 500 miles. That includes ten days of a trip to London and Paris where I ate like a tourist. Other wise my eating is incredibly stable and similar to a time I was not walking so much.

 

Even though we are all sick of winter, if you are dreading bathing suit season’s arrival, and who doesn’t, I suggest you get up and walk around. Even if you just walk around your house it makes a huge difference.

 

I am keeping my 20,000 a day step goal for now because I really need to spend sometime doing real work so I don’t think I have time to up my goal. But I do think that I am about 5 pounds away from fitting into the skinniest clothes I own. That certainly won’t be skinny but it is a good place to see if I can stay. I know that losing weight is exciting, but maintaining weight loss is dull and that is the ultimate goal.