Miracles and Other Stuff

Diane wrote a very good post about that ‘Magic Moment,’ referring to the moment that actually started her on her successful weight loss journey.  Other people call it an ‘aha moment.’  I thought  back to when I started this whole weight loss thing.  It never seemed like it was one moment.  It was more of a process.  I think of it as a miracle.  I emailed APJ (accountability partner Jill) and asked her if she thought this was going to be our magic moment.

I grabbed Noah and headed out the door for a nice long walk.  I have so many brilliant bloggy thoughts on my walks.  I should take a tape recorder with me.  What?  They don’t make tape recorders anymore???  Anyway, by the time I get around to writing something, my thoughts have disintegrated a little bit.  And then I go back and read some of my old blog entries, trying to find a reference to something or other, and I see that I was thinking/writing/doing the same old thing TWO YEARS AGO.  And I get all embarrassed and decide never to write another blog.

Well, in essence, what I was thinking about was the decision/effort/goal to re-lose the 19 pounds.  Wondering if this time it was going to ‘take.’  Thinking about all the factors that go into that.  And, thinking about the ‘unknown’ factors about our bodies.  And there are some things that are unknown about our bodies.  You just might as well accept that as fact.  Yesterday at work I sat in on a family conference, similar to many of these family conferences I have sat in on over the years.  They are always heartbreaking.  In fact, the first one I ever sat in, I thought to myself, now I know what it means to have a broken heart.  And I am not even the parent.  Parent People, you better be darn thankful for your perfectly formed children .  Oops, got a little off track there.  The point I wanted to make was this:   in these conferences they will go through the various body systems of the baby, talk about the things that aren’t working, what we have done to try to fix them, and the doctor will say over and over in reference to various problems we don’t know. And that is at a university teaching hospital with some of the most brilliant doctors in the world working together as a team.  Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I’m not saying all that as an excuse to fail.  In fact, I’m still feeling very positive about the whole thing.  Hee hee.  Got four whole days under my belt.  What am I doing differently?  I think mostly I’m trying to stretch out the time between meals until I actually feel hungry.  Still eating great food, but not eating for the pure joy of eating.  Thinking twice before I reach for a little snack of this or that.  Except the baby carrots.  I am allowing myself to crunch on those.  Still chewing my food quite a bit.

I took a lot of pictures on our walk today.  Some big and some little miracles.  Some just ‘other stuff.’  First thing I noticed was the beautiful blue sky.  Wonderful to see after almost two weeks of nonstop clouds and rain.

Next thing I heard was some VERY happy froggies.  I looked over, and there was a pond where there used to be just a hollowed out area.  This is never a pond.  How do those frogs find it??  Its  a miracle, I tell you!

Here’s the little stream by our mail boxes.

This is NOT a miracle.  Does anybody know what poison oak looks like?  Is this it?  It grows on the path to ‘my’ little waterfall.  I’m not allergic to poison oak, but I don’t want to test it either.

This is the first time I’ve ventured down to the waterfall since all of our rain.  It was quite wonderful.  I was on the watchout for hobos, bears, and those vicious banana slugs.

Isn’t it pretty?

Walked down a steep hill so I could get a different shot:

Wanted to get a more complete picture of the waterfall and stream, but the darn trees were in the way.

Then I thought about what nature photographers must go through to get just the right shot, and I took a chance.  Put one foot on one of these mossy rocks, the other foot on the other rock, and held onto that little tree trunk (and Noah,)

and got a much better shot!

Oh, this is my favorite shot of the day.  I noticed these little succulent type of plants growing out of this rock wall on the way home.  Isn’t that a little miracle, that plants can grow out of a rock wall?  Love the textures and colors in this picture.

Here’s a picture of the rock wall:

Oh, I saw this on my way home and it cracked me up.  Could be its been there forever, and I haven’t noticed.  Years ago I had a girl at work make me some rabbit signs pointing the way to my house (the ears point the way.)  (Did you all know that I raised angora rabbits for a while?)  Anyway, whether the sign says NO HUNTING RABBITS, or NO HUNTING  SCHNABELS, I agree with its sentiments LOL.

Ohhhh, lookie what time of year it is!

I got a gander of the stick dance that the trainer described:

And then Mom said that was enough of that.

These daffodils STANDING has to be considered a miracle.  This is the same pot I showed in this post.  They got hit by even more snow and rain after that picture was taken.

Gonna sign off.  And make myself a bowl of the apple blackberry sour cream pie in a bowl. Habanada!

And the Winner Is…

I almost forgot to choose the winner of the ‘Rethinking Thin’ book.

Noah takes his responsibilities very seriously.

Feigning indifference to the chore ahead:

Only one winner can be chosen:

Who will it be???

A winner is chosen!

And the winner is:

Deb!!!  Send me your address and I’ll get the book in the mail tomorrow.

Can you guys believe Noah did this for me?  Especially when I am always saying NO!  No paper!!! We even did it a second time to get a second place winner, just in case.  Each time he delicately pulled one paper out of the bowl.  I did crumple them nicely so they were especially attractive to him.  And yes, I practically have to use the jaws of life to extract paper from his mouth.  We’re working on that one still.

Subject to Change Without Notice

Very quick post tonight!  I have spent a good part of the day planning my trip to Whidbey Island this summer.  A lot of details are taken care of.  Like the dates and the people.  But I am a little frustrated with the other reservations.  I’ll get it done in the next couple of days I am sure.  I had the flight and car rental completely done, and at the last minute Hotwire said, that flight is not available.  But then they said it looks like you’ve booked a flight already, and my bank account has something weird going on, like a hold on the funds or something…aaargh.  Like I said, in the next couple of days I’ll get it done.  So aside from that frustration, I am VERY EXCITED about this trip.  It is going to be just wonderful.  More about that later.

Today I had some most excellent food.  Ha.  Big surprise.  I’m trying to choose food that is satisfying and will also hold me for a long time.  So for breakfast I had that Fabulous Quinoa Breakfast.  And can I just say–it was FAB-U-LOUS!!!  You’d think I was getting royalties for coercing you guys trying my recipes.

Did a bunch of chores after breakfast and headed out for a walk with Noah.  Wanted to do the three mile loop and try race-walking the whole way.  Its hard to race-walk up and down hills.  But we really trucked it.  Still took a whole hour.  Unbelievably, I was not thinking about what I wanted to eat for lunch the whole time.  I still didn’t have an idea when I got home, except I didn’t want to spend a lot of time fixing it.  I checked a couple of blogs and came across MIz’s smoothie recipe (that I had bookmarked.)  I followed the general outline of the recipe, and tried not to think too much about how many calories were in it.  All great foods.  Anyway, it was FAB-U-LOUS too!  I had a fresh mango that I used in it, and a couple of frozen banana cubes, spinach for the greens.  I had a toasted magic roll with it.   That kept me full until dinner time.  Now that’s a good smoothie.

Okay, here’s the part that’s subject to change without notice.  I want to get back down to the 100 pounds lost (that would be a goal of 155 for me.)  Remember, I had adjusted my goal up to 168 back in the fall?  And then I gained 6 pounds over Christmas/Africa?  Yeah.  174.  Don’t think I’ve printed those exact numbers on this blog.  But something happened.  Well, a couple of things happened.  Helen asked how people lost their weight.  Which made me think back on what had worked for me.  And then good buddy Jill (I don’t know why I talk like that.  Sounds like a trucker or something.  I would never say that in person.)  ANYWAY, Jill wrote a blog about how she is ready to ‘get it done.’ And we are going to be accountability partners!  So fun!

I really don’t agree with setting dates for weight loss.  But I’m gonna do it anyway.  The day we started was Saturday the 26th.  And it just so happens that I am leaving for Washington on July 26.  Exactly 4 months.  That gives me four months to lose 19 pounds.  I know it can be done, but not without a LOT of diligence.  We shall see.

Noah has a good friend, Mr. Taylor, who writes a blog about his owner’s rug hooking and other activities.  Here’s a link to a particularly hilarious entry.

I Don’t Think It Rained Today

It’s hard to imagine that we had a day without rain, but I think we did.  When I was out for a walk with the dogs this afternoon,  the sun came out for a couple of minutes.  It freaked me out a little.

Little rivulets of water are running downhill everywhere.  It fascinates me.  Big trees have just fallen over.  There was one on our road with the root end just sticking halfway across the road.  So far I don’t see any leaning trees on my property.

Today I went to a different church.  Is it wrong that a Pinkberry in the vicinity was maybe 10% of the reason I went there?

I don’t think I ever mentioned the first time I went to this church.  They put on a conference called Intersections-Faith and the Arts.  It was SO GOOD.  So good for me to hear other Christian artists talk about their journey.  It made me so excited to be retiring soon and be able to spend more consistent time working at my quilting.  I met this woman, who does pysanky eggs.  Here’s a  picture of some of her work.  Aren’t they fabulous?  I have actually tried this once, so I know how very hard it is to do.

Eggs.  That reminds me.  I have been loving this eggnog flavored tea that I got at Christmas time. It’s by Bigelow–be sure to look for it next year.  I heat up a cup of 1/2 water, 1/2 unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, and steep the teabag in it.  Yummy.  Very calming in the evening.

I worked two days in a row this week.  Granted, one of them was a six hour day.  If every work day was only six hours long, I don’t think I would be retiring right now.  I love those days. I love the way I feel at the end of the work day.  I love the way I feel later that evening.  I feel exactly the opposite about the twelve hour days.  Sometimes I worry that I am being foolish retiring early when I hear my work friends talk about retiring at sixty to get the maximum pension.  But mostly I cannot conceive of working for another 3 1/2 years.  Mostly I can’t conceive of working another 23 shifts LOL.

Well, this was a ramble and a half.  My main reason for writing today was to announce that I am going to give away one book a week.  Gently used books.  Books I’ve read, and know I am not going to read again.  I don’t actually like mailing things, so I bought five mailer envelopes.  Five books are already in the envelopes waiting for the winner’s address.  That way they might actually get mailed out in a decent amount of time…

Today’s book is Rethinking Thin.  I did a little review of this book here.  This book does do a good job of reviewing the history of scientific research about weight loss.  And if you remember what I wrote about it before, I have been chewing my food very thoroughly since reading it.  If any of you want this book just leave a comment.  If more than one of you want the book, I will write your names on scraps of paper and put them in a bowl and have Noah choose one of them.  Then I will pry Noah’s mouth open and try to read the name on the scrap of paper.  (Noah loves paper.  This is actually a daily occurrence in the house…) (p.s. why can’t I EVER spell occurrence correctly?)

And snow.

What a crazy mixed up day!  In review, it was a pretty terrific day, but for a while there…

I’ve been planning a special evening for women, a ‘spiritual formation salon,’ for a long time.  Tonight was the night for it.  I was going to fix a simple dinner and we would spend time talking about our journey as Christians.  I was nervous, but I was ready.  So this morning (in the rain) I headed down to get a few groceries for the dinner I planned to fix.  With a stop at the gym on the way.  Oh, it was a good day at the gym.  NO ONE was in the free weights room.  Woo hoo!  I had fun.

Back home I got busy.  I had seen Helen’s baked egg cup that she named Green, Eggs, and Ham. Clever name, and it looked simple, no fail, and very tasty.  Decided it would be just perfect for the main dish.  With a little consult from Helen, I made a large dish in a 9X12 pan.  It came out perfect.  I followed Helen’s recipe, except I used spinach, and added a few bits of red bell pepper, and baked it for 45 minutes instead of 35.  Thanks for the assist, Helen!

I wanted to try her version with the broccoli, so I made a couple of individual servings with the broccoli.  I tasted this one–DELISH!

As soon as I popped those in the oven, I got busy putting together the ingredients for the bran muffins. This is one of my most labor-intensive recipes, with the most ingredients, but they are so delicious that they are worth it.  This batch has the original recipe’s chopped apples and raisins.

Then I hustled around doing a little bit of last minute paperwork.  I got dressed and was all ready to leave and the phone started ringing.  Long story short, we had to cancel the evening because it was snowing.  My friends on the east coast must really laugh at us Californians.  A wee bit of snow and we close down.  I guess we just aren’t as prepared for the snow out here.  I was REALLY bummed out.   Basically the whole day shot.  So I went for a walk in the snow.

Here’s my new secret weapon I got just the other day at the thrift store.  I was VERY excited about this purchase! I am very tired of taking Noah for walks in the rain and the snow and coming home with sopping wet tennis shoes.  These worked great.  I think they’re actually supposed to be pulled on OVER your shoes, but I didn’t know that when I bought them.  Next time I’ll wear a couple pair of socks inside.  They had very good traction.

This is the typical scene the whole time it is raining or snowing outside.  Sophie and Monk standing right by the front door doing their very best to look miserable so I will let them back inside.

The daffodils have about had it with all the rain and snow.

Only one member of this family is happy that it is snowing.  Basically Noah is happy any old time.

So we headed out.  It was quite outstanding.  About four inches of snow was dumped in about 15 minutes.  Leaving the house,  no one had walked or driven on the road yet.

Noah and I left tracks in the snow.

I had an umbrella, but Noah looked like this after only 10 minutes of walking in the snow.

I love this shot–he had snowflakes sticking to his eyebrows.

So after I got over my disappointment, it actually was a pretty terrific day in review.  Another day of pristine eating.  I will take the egg dish to work tomorrow (I don’t think egg dishes freeze well, do they?) and of course the muffins are in the freezer already for my own enjoyment.  We rescheduled for next week.  I checked the weather and it is supposed to be 65 degrees and sunny.   Do you suppose we all might be able to make it out?

Rain, Rain, rain, rain, snow, Rain

No photographic proof of the rain, but Pubsgal said it all.  And it seems there’s no end in sight.

This was the scene Sunday when I got home from church.  Thought I wasn’t going to be able to make my trek to the Bay Area.  But soon it stopped snowing AND STARTED RAINING.  and all was right with the world.  sigh.  I’m trying to have a good attitude about this neverending rain.

Actually, Monday and Tuesday in the Bay Area were relatively rain-free.  Had nice visits with both Mom and Dad, and the highlight of the trip was (squeee!!!) the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars was on the tv when I got into my hotel room.  Yes, its a little embarrassing that that was the highlight.  But did you all see the Karate Kid dancing?  And Kirstey Alley?  Yeah.  She did okay for a 60 year old fat lady.  Hey I can say that because I’m 56, and you know how they say dogs and owners start to look alike?  Yeah, I feel just like Monk looks:

Not sure what all he ate on the two days I was out of town.  I DO know what I ate.  Too much.  All delish, but too much.  So much that I didn’t want to blog anymore.  Its embarrassing when people tout you as a maintainer and you still have food issues.

But today was an excellent day (except for the rain.)  So I thought I’d share that with you all.  I was going to fast, but then realized I had way too much to do, and that might not be a good idea.  So decided to go with a very limited meal plan.  And I stuck to it.  Started off late with a bowl of spackle 2.0 at ten am.  Four hours later had a lunch of cottage cheese/crushed pineapple/walnuts.  Four hours later I followed my own advice to Helen and had a delicious piece of fish.  I had told Helen that when I was really trying to cut back on the calories I tended to eat fish and shrimp (most protein for the least calories.)  This was a nice piece of red snapper.  I usually fix my fish the same way and it is always excellent.  Spray a pan with Pam and sprinkle in seasonings of choice (garlic salt or Mrs. Dash  are my two regular choices.)  Heat the pan over medium high heat, and then add the fish.  Spray the top of the fish with some more pam and seasonings.  Depending on how thick the fish is, cook for 3-5 minutes on one side, flip and cook 2-4 minutes on the other side.

When fish is done, but pan is still hot, remove from heat and squirt the juice of one whole lemon over the fish while it is still in the pan.

Had the fish with a pear salad on the side.  Because I didn’t feel like cooking anything else.  Otherwise I would have had butternut squash ‘fries’ with the fish.

And finished the evening with a bowl of my homemade yogurt.  Doesn’t it look yummy?   I keep trying to convince you all to try this.

Here’s how I really had it–cinnamon splenda mixed in, with a little muesli, walnuts, and 8 chocolate chips.  With a cup of tea on the side.  I started drinking tea in the evening when all that good tea came out at Christmas.  I really enjoy it, and it seems to signal the end of the evening (aka the end of eating) to me.  I make sure I only drink decaf tea in the evening.

Its interesting to me that I can fairly easily go back and forth between eating too much and too rich food, and then switch back to eating very carefully and rather stringently the very next day.  Like when I came back from Africa.  I will say that you can’t maintain if you have too many of these over-eating days.  That’s kind of where I am right now.

Memory’s a funny thing.  That’s the advantage of keeping a journal (about almost anything.) I was thinking today that it had been AGES since I exercised.  But actually I worked out at the gym on Sunday morning, and took a nice walk (in the rain) with Noah on Sunday afternoon.  I didn’t exercise on the days out of town, unless you call getting a wheelchair in and out of my car a zillion times, and pushing my dad in said wheelchair all over town exercise.  Which I guess it actually is!  (Dad can still walk, but we both agree that it is much more enjoyable to take these excursions with a wheelchair.)

Speaking of rain (we were speaking of it, weren’t we?) Noah came home from the trainer’s looking like a mudpuppy!  But oh, what fun he had!  There was a horse in the next pen over, so many dogs to visit with, and best of all, because of all the rain, they had had a tree come down the night before!  and you know what that means.  Sticks and plenty of them.  The trainer tried to explain to me Noah’s ‘stick dance.’  Honestly, I don’t mind him getting messy when he has this much fun.  And he is tired out for DAYS afterwards.

Here’s another quilt technique I am trying out.  I saw a picture of an old antique quilt that was just rows and rows of strips surrounding a central square and thought it really looked neat.

The end.  25 shifts to go.


Food Again

Howdy folks!  I’ve got a whole post about all my wonderful food adventures, and hardly any pictures!  You’ll just have to use your imaginations.

Yesterday I started the day off with Lori’s wonderful protein pancakes.  Well, for me, its just one big pancake.  I have it the same way every time.  Bake in about 3-4 walnut halves, chopped.  And top with two ‘banana cubes’  thawed of course.  These are the mashed extra ripe bananas that I freeze in ice cube trays.  They are more than sweet enough to top these pancakes.

I had some chores to do, and knew I would be gone during lunch time, so I made a plan.  One of my ‘chores’ was going to the gym, so decided I would pick up one of Vicky’s creations for lunch.  Edemame tofu salad–just edemame, corn, tofu, sesame oil and sesame seeds.  A very delicious and filling combination.

On to Walmart, where they finally had some of these back in stock.

I LOVE these boxes!  They were in the hardware department, but were labeled ‘Stanley–Barbara’s Way.’  I think designed by a woman FOR women.  I love how the thread spools fit almost exactly in each little compartment.  Each compartment comes out of the box. I love that the spools are sideways so you can see exactly what you’ve got, and best of all, you can pick these up and carry them around, put them upside down even, and the spools cannot move.  And yes, as a matter of fact, I DO need all that thread.

Next stop Starbuck’s.  I wasn’t actually in a very good mood this day, so I actually gave myself permission to get a treat from their case.  But after reviewing all the options, I decided I would rather stick with my planned nutty nibby cookies (from Vicky.) I do love it when I make good choices.  Progress is slow, but its there.

Which reminds me, I wanted to be sure to mention Lynn’s post about her weight loss (and gain) history.  Her history is similar to so many of us who have lost a lot of weight.  Numerous attempts.  But the most fascinating thing to me was the chart that she included.  It was such a graphic illustration of how the weight comes on, and how it comes off.  The weight usually accumulates over a number of years (14 in Lynn’s case, and I think over 20 in my case),   and then we lose the weight in a couple of years, which seems like forever.  But when you see it on the chart, you see that that is a very short period of time compared to the time we took gaining and maintaining our top weight.  I just think we should keep that in mind when we are bemoaning the fact that it takes a lot of time to learn to maintain a weight loss.  Here’s my comment from her post:

You know what impressed me the most? That weight chart. It took you 14 years to gain from 140 up to 300. And then only two years to lose that weight. Doesn’t it make sense that it would take (us) the same amount of time to learn to live with (maintain) the smaller body? But we’re usually so impatient with ourselves.

Back to the food.  I love my microwave popcorn popper. I discovered that I could put the quarter cup of popcorn in there along with a teaspoon of butter and some salt, and it comes out exactly the way I like it.

I’ve had a couple of failed batches of homemade yogurt.  So the last stop after Starbuck’s was to run into Safeway and get a little container of their plain Lucerne yogurt to use as a starter.  I swear by this stuff.  The yogurt comes out absolutely perfect with it every time!

When I came home I decided to make some walnut butter.  I had an excess of walnuts in the house.  I made one batch of plain walnut butter and another batch of chocolate walnut butter.  Most excellent!  (Just add in a couple of Tbsp of cocoa powder, a little agave nectar, and some salt.  I think I also added a little olive oil.)

For dinner that night I made a Veggie stir-fry (onion, mushroom, carrots, zucchini, spinach)  and topped it with some spaghetti sauce that I had left over.  This combination of vegetables is so very delicious to me.  I use a vegetable peeler to make long peels of the carrots and zucchini.  Cook the onion for at least 5 minutes first, then add the mushrooms, carrot and zucchini peels, and lastly add the fresh chopped spinach.  LOVE.

THEN I made some rice pudding for dessert.  I got that new Trader Joe’s cookbook (which BTW, I love.  Pretty pictures, simple delicious recipes, and all the nutritionals are included ,) and the first thing I saw was their recipe for rice pudding.  So simple.  I did  really think about whether or not I was going to use the packaged pudding mix, since I just don’t eat packaged foods much any more.  This was so delicious and so simple.  I used one of those microwave bowls of brown rice from Costco (2 servings of rice), instant sugar free vanilla pudding, 2 cups milk, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Oh, and I added some raisins.  SOOOO yummy.  I will probably take it to work tomorrow to share.

Today I was going to meet a friend for lunch.  I seem to be on a nicely controlled eating spree lately, and was trying to think where we could eat that wouldn’t be too ‘pricey’ (calorie-wise.)  And I came up with eating at the gym!  Vicky always has some good food available.  My friend agreed.  That was great.  I knew exactly what I was getting.  350 calories instead of ‘hoping’ something was 500.   It was nice enough that we could sit outside at the nice tables they have set up.  This could become a very good healthy habit.

Tonight I had a special dinner.  Have been wanting to try local grass fed beef for forever.  Finally decided to pick up a steak (prompted by Lori’s blog about beef!)  Oh my goodness, this was most enjoyable.  And the fresh asparagus wasn’t bad, either!

That’s a salad plate, BTW.

And in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, I’ll show you the only reason I even remember this holiday…

A See’s Spud!!  Made only at this time of year.  I used to buy these by the score…  I’m actually not going to eat this one tonight–too full.  Half of a spud is 170 most worthy calories.

Here’s the scene today in the little by-the-sewing machine-doggie bed.

I think Sophie is mildly disturbed that Monk discovered her secret.

And here’s how I finished off that little ‘fans’ quilt.

And now its back to work.  26 shifts left.