The Zoo!

After we returned from Haiti, my brother and I had a day and a half in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to relax and spend a little time together. Ever since we were kids, we have both really really loved animals. His loves were a little more exotic than mine–snakes and tropical fish. For a few years we even owned a pet shop together! We still love to visit pet shops and zoos when we have a chance. It just so happened, that on the day we were there, it was a perfect spring day with a light breeze blowing, so we went to the Ft. Worth Zoo! My brother says it is one of the best small zoos in America. I totally agree that it is one of the best. My legs and feet would disagree that it is one of the smallest.

They had two baby elephants born at the zoo! So fun to see them. They ran around and seemed to be enjoying the weather as much as everybody else.


This little guy was copying his mom, and giving himself a dust bath.


This was a huge enclosure full of cockatiels and parakeets, and you could buy ridiculously expensive sticks of bird seed to feed them. It was fun!


Is this just the cutest? I don’t know why one baby swan gets to ride on the mother’s back, while the others follow in the water.


This lion was beautiful, but he sure was vocalizing a lot. I wonder what he wanted?


A komodo dragon!


And one of the hugest silverback gorillas I’ve ever seen.


I was really impressed with the enclosures for most of the animals, and the beautiful condition of the animals. It was a really great day.

The next morning, before I dropped my brother at the airport and headed to Shelley’s, we drove down the “historic main street” of Grapevine, TX. We lived there about 35 years ago, before the DFW airport was built! It really was just a dusty little town back then. We didn’t recognize much on the main street. Oh, and I had googled “pet shops” in Hurst, and three shops were listed: Petco, one other major corporate store, and The Grooming Boutique–MY OLD GROOMING SHOP!! We went by there too, but of course, it was a different owner than I had sold to 30-some years ago. What a kick.

We used “the lady” (google maps app for my iPhone) to direct us around the area. We only went off course a couple of times, and it seemed like the lady would then direct us to take backroads to wherever we needed to go. I felt a little like I was being profiled and had been deemed a hick that preferred backroads to major freeways (well, that’s true, but its none of her business!)

Next up (and the last of my travel adventures for awhile,) HAITI REVISITED!

The Escalator


Readers of Shelley’s blog already know that I ended this trip with a VISIT TO SHELLEY! We had so much fun. We fit together like peas and carrots (Forrest Gump ref.) I don’t think we look alike, but one time Shelley posted a picture of herself at 12 years old, and I was shocked at how much she looked like the 12 year old me.

Anyway, we ended our trip driving together back to the DFW Airport. I was ever so grateful that she was able to drive back with me. Its just a 3 hour drive, but you know how it is when you are unfamiliar with the roads–it seems like twice that time.

We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, dropped off the rental car, and took the shuttle to the terminal. We had our choice of elevator or escalator, and Shelley asked “which one?” I said escalator–it was closer, and by now I’d been in one million airports and done this routine two million times. I had my giant 45 pound suitcase, my carry on suitcase, and my purse, all balanced precisely. As I got on the escalator, Shelley was saying something about “You know, I have kind of an Elf thing about escalators…” (insert: okay, I just googled Elf/escalator–that is hilarious!) and right then I lost my balance and dropped the big suitcase, which fell backwards onto the escalator steps! Which meant that it just kept clanging down one step at a time as the escalator continued to go up. With each clang, the distance between me and my big suitcase got further apart. I kept stepping down to try to get closer to it (while still balancing my carry on and my purse) and yelling at Shelley “don’t you dare photograph this,” but the escalator just KEPT ON GOING UP. Finally I knew my only hope was to abandon my carry on (which, the EVERY THREE MINUTE TSA ANNOUNCEMENTS warn you to NEVER do) and somehow hop over the HUGE suitcase to get below it and grab it. Shelley rescued my little carry on, and was laughing so hard she couldn’t have gotten a good picture if she had tried. I swear, it was like a Lucy and Ethel episode.

Come back soon for “Adventures with Shelley!”

Home Again!

This trip was a long one and was multi-layered! Its going to take several posts to tell you all about it. I thought I’d write about it like that Seinfeld episode–going backwards in time. Fun for me, anyway!

I arrived home to signs of spring! This has been a crazy weather year, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen blooms this early in my yard.


So I got home at 10:30 at night, knowing that my living room would be finished, and knowing the details of what would be done, but envisioning it is not the same thing as seeing it in person. I can’t say enough good things about J. the contractor. He took a sow’s ear of a house and turned it into a silk purse. 



and after

and after

Noah has been at the trainer’s since Feb. 5! I went to visit him on those few days I was home after the Modesto trip, but the house was so torn up, I thought it would be easier for him (who am I kidding, it was easier for me….) to leave him there. He LOVES his time there. And they like him too. While he’s there he participates in the group classes on the weekends. When did I become the world’s laziest dog trainer???

Noah practicing his sit-stay in the "new" living room.

Noah practicing his sit-stay in the “new” living room.

The next morning I walked around the yard–good grief, things were blooming!!






As always, on return home, I went to the store, and the things I naturally want to stock up on are vegetables and dairy. I guess those are the two things that are hardest to get in while I am traveling. And, I went to the gym for my regular Sunday morning pre-church workout–it felt so good to get back to my regular exercise! Plus, it was my last chance to participate in Lori’s Heart Healthy Weekend!

Next episode: “The Escalator.”

Out of Town

Yes, that’s right. I am going out of town again. I am leaving this week on a trip to Haiti, which I am combining with a pleasure trip to visit a friend.

But what I want to write about was “how I ate” on my most recent trip to a quilt event. Yes, again. I am writing about how I eat when I travel. This time I tried a few new things, and so thought my experiences were worth talking about.

The event was the Ricky Tims Super Quilt Seminar. This is a very good, very organized event. The hours run long, but they put plenty of breaks between sessions–time to move around and yes, eat. For those of you who aren’t quilters, this is a “no sew” event. It is all demonstration and information, and you don’t have to bring your machine or supplies with you. I really liked that, since I usually end up making something I don’t like in most of the workshops I attend! Plus, easy peasy!


Ricky does a concert and inspirational talk on one of the evenings. He plays a grand piano, but I couldn’t get a good shot of that. This is one of his Indian flutes.


Alex Anderson and Pam Holland also presented informative and inspirational talks.


Back to our food discussion! That last trip I took out of town I ate a little too much sugar and wheat, and I didn’t like how I felt. So I left determined to not eat (much) sugar or wheat on this trip.

Here’s a few of the things I did. I took my own yogurt and granola with me. I took some of my low calorie baked goods with me for breakfasts. I took some of my favorite Quest protein bars. And I grabbed my bag of Skinny Pop popcorn for snacks in the evening.


I knew there was a Costco just down the road from the hotel I was staying in. So after I made sure there was a little fridge in the room, I headed over to Costco for a bag of my favorite salad mix–the Kale Superfoods salad. This salad still seems like a treat to me. While I was there, I got a box of their cherries. I was set! I had food for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and would only eat out for dinner.

My favorite department at Costco!

My favorite department at Costco!

In the morning, I checked out the breakfast buffet, and got a few eggs to try (yuck–discarded.) I ate my own muffin and had some coffee. But look! I had a container for my salad!


Here’s how to pack your yogurt and granola for lunch, if you forgot your little container with the ice in the lid… (file under: where there’s a will, there’s a way.)


Every afternoon they had a 45 minute break about 3pm. Ahhh, just the right time for my coffee break! (and mandatory Quest bar.)


Now, in the interest of full disclosure on “how I eat when I travel,” let me fill in the blanks. The first night I had dinner with some old friends. I made a good choice for my dinner, and for whatever reason, they did not serve bread with dinner!! Weird. But good for me, because if it was there, I would have eaten it.

The second night the hotel had given me a free entree coupon for my favorite restaurant–Texas Roadhouse. And oh yes, I certainly did eat their bread. And the third night I went with some new friends to a local hamburger joint! That was really delicious. We split an order of garlic fries three ways, and the burger was really normal sized. I really enjoyed that meal.

Oh, and one day I had time to drive around the town a bit, and happened upon a See’s Candy store. Ruh roh. But I have a new plan. If I do go in, I only buy 2 pieces. So much better than going in and buying half a pound and then trying to NOT eat it all at once!

The event ended at 5:30 on Saturday night, and I thought that I would stop for dinner on the way home. But I decided that I really wanted to get home and could wait until then to eat. Only thing was, I needed to go to the bathroom. Okay, perhaps I could have found a bathroom somewhere besides in the Coldstone Creamery… That was probably my poorest decision all weekend. But I enjoyed my small serving, and even left a bit of it uneaten. And that was dinner.

So even though I did not stick completely with my plan of no sugar/no wheat, my food amounts and choices were quite reasonable, and I did not gain an ounce. I kept in mind some very good advice from my friend, Cammy:

Adaptability – It’s good to have a plan, but sometimes life interferes and the plan gets fuzzy. In the past I had an ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset and generally caved into the chaos. I still do that sometimes, but more often than not, I’ve learned to adjust and adapt and do the best I can in a given situation.

Back home, the little dogs were happy to see me. Speaking of adapting to a given situation, they seem to adjust quite easily to all the changes around here.

The living room awaits new floors,windows, and wall paint.

The living room awaits new floors,windows, and wall paint.

The "dining room" aka furniture storage receptacle.

The “dining room” aka furniture storage receptacle.

As long as they have a soft bed and a heater, they are happy.

Monk and Bess share the bed next to the wood stove.

Monk and Bess share the bed next to the wood stove.

The queen on her dirty laundry throne.

The queen on her dirty laundry throne.

Monk and Sophie share a little bed in the studio (do you see the theme here?)

Monk and Sophie share a little bed in the studio (do you see the theme here?)

And now I must end and pack my bags (and do a million other last minute things! Eek!) I will have lots of adventures to tell you about when I return!

All’s Well That Ends Well

The scene last night:


For hours! We were all very content to sit together like this all evening after I arrived home.

It was a great trip, full of rugs, rugs, and more rugs. And wool everywhere. My wool stash is starting to rival my quilting cotton stash!


Here are my rugs as they were displayed:



Long Beach is HUGE. Too big for this country girl! But the weather was gorgeous, and we did manage to get quite a bit of walking in. That’s the only exercise I did all week.

I ate too many desserts. Back to the straight and narrow today.

Stopped on the way home for my veggies and dairy. Its a tradition now! Costco has this salad mix that I am in love with. It has that broccoli slaw, kale, sliced brussel sprouts, and some other green stuff. Its like a very substantial salad. And I got some of the Fage yogurt so I don’t have to wait to make my own.

I picked Noah up today, and we got in a few short walks, and I did my PT exercises. Its good to be home.


100!  ONE HUNDRED!!! One-zero-zero!!!! Its such a nice number, don’t you think? My favorite detective, Mr. Monk thinks its the perfect number.

This morning I am back to 100 pounds lost! I started at the end of last November, so its taken 10 months to lose 25 pounds. Who would’ve thunk? But I’m glad I stuck with it. The hardest part was it being that slow and me second-guessing myself. I haven’t been terribly hungry, and I do enjoy my food (as you all well know.)

I just reviewed my “Me Diet” post to see how closely I was sticking to that plan. For the most part, my diet has remained the same as I described. I did add in another mini-meal that is mostly vegetable based between my morning protein shake and my afternoon protein bar. Sometimes I have cottage cheese and fruit, or yogurt instead of the shake. And during the summer, I definitely had more fruit than I originally started out eating. Surprisingly, I have not gotten tired of the shakes or the bars. In fact, I have quite a repertoire of protein shakes now, thanks mostly to Cammy and Lori for their suggestions.

Special thanks to friend Shelley, whose decision to chronicle her weight loss journey from day one was the impetus for this last try. Shelley also encouraged me to try just a little longer when I got weary of my limited choices about a month in. THANKS, Shelley!!

And just so you know, there have been plenty of “off plan” days in there. As you know, I’ve traveled quite a bit this year. Its hard to stay on plan 100% when you travel, even when you try hard. And sometimes I didn’t try very hard. Conversely, there have been days where I decided to just stay home, because I knew that going to town would lead to some poor choices and overeating.

And just so you know, I DO want to go out and celebrate with food. I want a cupcake, or pizza, or frozen yogurt. It never goes away. But I will content myself with a “splurge” of popcorn and half a pack of M&M’s (why yes, I do split a pack of M&M’s. Doesn’t everybody?) I leave for Long Beach and the rug convention tomorrow. There will be plenty of off-plan eating then, I am sure.

Oh, and last night I put the very last stitch in the rug! Its been a very good 24 hours.


I’ll see you all in a week. Behave yourselves, eat healthy food that tastes good, and move just a little now and then.

I’m Still Here

I’m still here. I haven’t gone anywhere. I haven’t changed how I’m eating healthy or exercising daily (some people are prone to say that if a blogger disappears they have fallen “off the wagon.”)

I’m just busy with a single project and a looming deadline. I have lots of interesting bloggie thoughts floating around in my brain, but evidently not enough brain power left to form them into a cohesive blog post. Hopefully they’ll still be around in a week or two.

The Biennial convention for rug hookers is being held in Long Beach this year. It is a big deal for rug hookers, and I am really excited to go to it. In addition, my one rug hooking friend is coming out from Indiana and going with me. Isn’t it fun to find new friends? I am not a very outgoing person, especially in a workshop situation, but Mary Lynn and I hit it off at Cambria one year, and we’ve developed a nice friendship over the past few years. Its fun to have someone to ‘talk shop’ with. You might not know it, but there’s not a glut of rug hookers in the area LOL.

Anyway, here’s the almost completed rug. I’ve been working on it non-stop for a week, including some 8 hour hook-a-thons (all hooking terms added for your amusement.) I’ll write a little more about it on my quilt blog, if you want to hear more. I’ll try to post a completed picture of it before I leave.


And I’m just gonna do one of them random picture posts so I can talk about this ‘n’ that without thinking too much.

On aging gracefully and acceptance of that fact: sometimes I see my hands and I think “where did they come from?” And then I remember–I have my grandma’s hands. She was kind and loving, and she always had her handwork with her, even when she was in her 90′s.  She is who I aspire to be like .


Garden shot:


Finally! My first echinacea that Sophie did not eat:


Still life:


After the bath:


An excellent low calorie dip idea! Mix greek yogurt, SF marmalade, and mustard or honey mustard. I LOVE it on my Sunday evening rutabaga fries!


The pugs’ bedroom (my kitchen):


My first big tomato!!


I’ll be back in a week or so, hopefully with a brain intact and rug hooking out of my system for a while!

AIM: Road Maintenance


This month’s topic is incorporating travel into a weight maintainer’s life. How DO you do that? I suspect that for many folks its like it is for me–enjoying good food has been a HUGE part of traveling. I have actually written quite a bit about this on my blog–you can click on “vacation” or “travel” if you’d like to read more of my musings.

From the time I was a little kid and we took family vacations, having “treats” was always a big part of travel. And then, to be truthful, as you get heavier and heavier, some of the other pleasures of travel are too difficult to enjoy, so you are limited ever more to just enjoying the food.

So pleasure eating and travel are still very linked in my mind. I sometimes spend a great deal of time thinking about this (see the large number of posts written about vacation and travel!)

Luckily, actually PLANNING food for travel does not take that much time. I’ve come up with a number of strategies over the years, depending on the destination and the mode of travel.

If I am driving, and my destination is a motel, its pretty easy to pack an ice bag with a few favorite foods. I almost always try to get a motel with a refrigerator and a microwave in the room. If its too hot, or its too far to take an ice bag, I get directions via the internet to a grocery store in the town I’m heading to. Come to think of it, visiting new grocery stores has become a kind of replacement for ‘vacation treats.’ Of course, you can still get in trouble in a grocery store! I like to have breakfast food and dinner or lunch “snacks” available in my room.

If I am flying, I really try to plan foods that I can eat during the travel days. Airport food is generally pretty dismal, and also very expensive. Plus, depending on your layover time, and how far you have to run through the airport, there can sometimes be NO time to get anything. Non-melting protein bars, fruit, baby carrots, and my new love, jerky, work great for this. I have packed protein bars, nuts, and even those little containers of half and half for my coffee when I was traveling to Africa and Haiti!

Another thing I do is to research area restaurants. I have some favorites (Baja Fresh) and am always glad when one is nearby. Most restaurants have their menus and nutritional information online, so its pretty easy to do this too.

But here’s the thing. Food, when we travel, is not going to be exactly the same as when we’re at home. I don’t even want it to be. I want to enjoy a few special flavors that I don’t normally even keep in the house. As time has gone on, I have become more confident that I would return to my healthy eating habits when I return home. In fact, by the end of most trips, I can HARDLY WAIT to get home. Vegetables are always the thing I miss the most. No matter how many salads you eat, its still not the same.

So do I gain weight when I travel? Yep, I usually do. Is it that much weight? No.

I do not weigh myself the minute I get home. That is just useless information. Even with car travel, you tend to retain a little water, because your schedule is just not the same as it was. I weigh myself about a week after I return to see how much I actually gained, and continue to eat my healthy diet. Eventually the weight comes off. For example, on my recent trip to Ohio (12 days total) I gained four pounds. Two and a half pounds have come off in the last two weeks. I’m happy with that.

The one thing I didn’t address was being active on a vacation. Truthfully, that has not been my recent experience. I try to get in some exercise, but the trips I have taken recently have not been planned around activity. I think it would be fun to take trips that were activity oriented, like bike trips, or like my BF is starting to do–scuba diving! But right now I am taking the same relaxed attitude about exercise that I do about the food. I am confident that I am going to return to my very active lifestyle when I return home, so I am not going to agonize over not getting in my quotient of exercise when I travel.

To read more about “Road Maintenance,” be sure to check out my friends and maintaining experts:

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!