I Bought Another Diet Book

I bought another diet book. (Disclaimer: this is not a book review.) As I virtually thumbed through this book on my Kindle, the question that kept running through my mind was “why?” Why did I buy another diet book? What was I looking for? I’ve been dieting and/or maintaining for almost 10 years now. Did I really think I would find something new?

Was I looking for the magic bullet, just like the rest of America? If I just do this or that, I can eat whatever I want and still be thin and fabulous.

But what I really think I was looking for is reassurance. Reassurance that my thinking is not wrong. That I am doing the best I can. That it is okay to eat what I eat. Its okay that I am not as thin as the “American ideal” (haha–that’s a funny one, isn’t it? In our all-powerful country, a huge percentage of us are obese, but our “ideal” is borderline underweight.)

This book provided that reassurance.

There are so many voices out there on the inter webs yelling at us that their way is the only way. That their way is the best. If only you would eliminate this or that food, you would be cured of all your aches and pains and you would be thin and rich (okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration.) I admit it–sometimes I get lost in the melee. I start to doubt myself. I wonder if what I have learned over the years is true. This book provided a voice of reason, backed by the author’s solid scientific background and years of experience in the weight loss and weight loss maintenance field.

Maybe another time I’ll review this book, but for now I’ll just tell you that I recommend it. Its chock full of good and true helpful information for the person who wants to lose weight and maintain that weight loss.


A Different Kind of Before and After

I had to scan a lot of photos for an upcoming project (I’m actually just happy that I finally know how to scan.) And I found an old picture from when I first moved into this cabin.


Here is the cabin now.


And a bonus recipe idea–one of my sewing ladies served this at lunch last week. The combination was DELICIOUS! Okay, so the original had arugula, watermelon, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. My version has romaine, watermelon, laughing cow lite, and low fat balsamic vinaigrette. You choose–both ways were delicious!


I had it for dinner with one of my ham and cheese muffins. A delightful meal!


Recipe Review: Zucchini Marinara Bake

Its that time of year again–everybody who has a little space is growing a few zucchini and tomato plants, right? Or you might be like I usually am, and hope that your friends and neighbors will share the bounty with you. Anyway, if you like those two vegetables, this is a wonderful no-fail recipe (in my humble opinion : ) ) I was a little surprised at how the baking dish was filled to the brim, but decided to trust my own recipe, and sure enough, it did not boil over. I just love the flavor combo in this recipe, and I love that you can have a great big serving for 200 calories, and I love that you still get a little treat of cheese and pasta every few bites!


(Zucchini Marinara Bake, pictured before baking)

A serving of this with a side of chicken or fish makes a fantastic dinner.


NOT in the Garden

Across the road (its still my property) there is a place where MLG and I dump all the weeds and rocks that we don’t need in the garden. Oh, and J. the contractor also dumped a ton of dirt and rock over there when he was putting in the foundation for the studio. Its actually made a nice little turn-out over there on that side of the road. And last week, as I went over there with yet another bucket of weeds, I spotted something different.


These are the things that always amaze me. I pamper my garden plants with water and fertilizer and tilling the soil. I watch them carefully, and agonize if they get knocked over or eaten on by bugs (or squashed by big-dog-feet.)


And here, with nothing but our junk soil, rocks, and weeds, a lone sunflower grows tall and strong.


God will always be a better gardener than me.





Cambria Report

Well, I’m just a little behind–reporting on a trip that I returned from almost 2 weeks ago… but I had a few photos that I thought you might enjoy seeing.

I go to Cambria every year or so for my rug hooking “fix.” There is not enough time in the day for all the hobbies I would like to indulge. Rug hooking is something that has always fascinated me, and I’m so glad that I decided to learn how to do it. In addition, Cambria is a lovely place to visit, and it is actually priced very reasonably for 5 nights in luxury accommodations, all meals, and instruction with a nationally recognized rug hooker. I sound like an informercial, don’t I? Believe me, no one’s paying me to say this!

Here is a shot of the front of the lodge. This is where our classes are held, and where we eat all our meals.


There are beautiful gardens surrounding the lodge, but I didn’t take any pictures of them this year. Here’s a link to a previous blog with pics of the gardens. Cambria is under a severe drought warning, and I didn’t think the gardens looked quite as lush as in previous years.

I did see this one little volunteer that I thought was just charming:


Here is the rug I am working on. It is (obviously) a geometric rug. I wanted to do something that was less stressful this year, since I have a lot of quilting obligations (and home improvements) that I have been working on. This project was just right for that!


On our way home, we stopped to see the elephant seals. All the young males were quite active! The sign said they were play-fighting to help strengthen their neck muscles for the real thing!




Mostly, though, the elephant seals were doing what they do best.


For what seemed miles and miles, they lolled on the beach.


The food that they serve at Cambria Pines is quite good, and I noticed that they never serve fried food. Their vegetables are always fresh, and they usually have a salad bar available. But, you know. Still, free food. And plenty of it. My “strategy” this year was to go and enjoy. I didn’t bring anything with me except my Quest Bars. I enjoyed all the food, especially the desserts : )

So here’s the interesting thing (to me, anyway.) I came home convinced that I had gained 10 pounds. I always wait a week to weigh after any travel, to get an accurate weight, and I had gained 4 pounds. Eek. But today, I am back to the weight I was before I left on the trip. I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t eat less than I usually do. I didn’t exercise more than I usually do. I just stuck to my normal (approx. 1300 calorie) diet, planned my meals every night, and got to the gym about 3X/week, walking and doing PT exercises in between.

So the question is… did I actually gain any weight on that trip?

In the Garden

What’s going on in the garden today? Some hard work, that’s what’s been going on! MLG was here bright and early this morning, and I had an extra hard job in mind for him. In addition, he brought with him a truckload of soil to fill the rest of the new bed. Yay, guess who went to the nursery this afternoon? : )

But first, let me tell you what we worked on. Besides the Japanese Maples that I still have in the big pots, I have an Atlas Cedar. I’ve had it for probably as long as I’ve lived here. Its kind of a sentimental plant, because when I was a kid, some very good friends of my parents had one growing in their courtyard, and I always thought it was so neat, kinda like a BIG bonsai. Anyway, last year we put the Cedar into a very tall pot. As soon as we got it in there, I knew I didn’t like it, but it had been so hard for MLG that I just left it. Well this year I noticed one time that it was flooded–kind of unusual for me, but its very dangerous for the trees. They don’t do well in that condition. When I went away last week, my neighbor watered my plants, and sure enough, I came back and it was flooded again. So I tipped it over to get some of the water out, but this time the whole pot fell over! And there was no way I could get it back up by myself. I knew we had to transplant it. After MLG got here, we talked over several options, and decided to switch pots with a little lace leaf Japanese Maple that also wasn’t doing too well. MLG got both of them out of the pots, which was a HUGE feat, and then I went to work re-potting them. I put a good layer of rocks in the bottom of both of them to help with drainage, and then I removed the ground cover from the tops of both of them. Turns out the grass I had with the little J.M. might have been choking it and taking all the nutrients away from it, and maybe the same with the Cedar. We moved the Japanese Maple from its location in the shade garden, and now there is a nice line of 4 of the maples along the path to the doggie room.



The cedar looks so much better in the new pot. As soon as the tree guy comes and takes down a few more trees, we will move it about 10 or 15 feet to its (hopefully) permanent location.



I told MLG that one of these days he was going to come over and I was going to say, “oh, just a little light clean-up will do.” But I think he likes working hard. He cleaned up this corner of the yard for me, and made a little platform for this maple to keep it level, and also to use up some leftover bricks and pavers (he’s trying his hardest to neaten me up.)


This morning while we worked, I noticed the birds were extra active and happy. I guess its a combo of cooler weather and bird feeders that are filled once again… so this afternoon when I went out to take pictures, what a treat it was that a whole bunch of birds chose that moment to come down and take a communal bath! It was so fun to hear them splashing in the water.




Some new blooms–this was a bee balm that I bought this year. I’m trying to buy more perennials to fill the garden. I love this bloom, and I hope the plant will get as big as they say it will.


And the hydrangea that we transplanted last year finally got a bloom on it! So exciting. This was a pitiful little plant when we put it in the ground.


This shows the front bed that you’ve already seen, but to the side you can see my little row of green beans starting to sprout, and that row of little plants in the back are dwarf sunflower! Its so fun to plant seeds and actually see them come up.


Cherry tomatoes are starting to sprout already.


And the squash had its first blossoms open this morning!


And that’s the view from the garden today. No more big plans for this year. We’re going to work on just straightening up a few areas. And I’m going to work on trying to keep everything watered on schedule!


The Bedroom Report

Hi all! I came back from my trip to Cambria and rug hooking camp to a brand new bedroom! Well, almost brand new. J. the contractor called as I was driving home to let me know it wasn’t quite finished. Me and the little dogs had a good time camping on my mattress on the living room floor Friday night! By Saturday at 4pm J. and the carpet guy had cleared out, and I had a brand new shiny squeaky clean bedroom. I almost hate to move anything back in there.

I think this picture shows the colors most clearly. As usual, I agonized over the colors–having to choose both carpet and paint this time. After visiting 4 or 5 carpet stores, and getting millions of samples sent to me, J. suggested that I go to a store in Sacramento that had some really good deals on remnants, since my room wasn’t’ that large. So I didn’t get anything at the first store, but I found this remnant that seemed “just the right color” at the second store I stopped at. Its a pale aqua. In addition, the price was right–it was about one quarter of what I had been planning to spend on carpet!! Then it was on to the paint color. I wanted a light coral, maybe erring a bit on the side of pink. I must have had 25 pink and coral color cards. You would think one of them would be perfect. Finally, I had a discussion with the paint lady about the formula for one of the colors. We went back and forth, and she custom mixed a sample for me. It was too intense, so after some phone conversations, where she actually mixed the paint while I was on the phone(!) she came up with something she thought I’d like. At that point, I had run out of time before I had to leave on my trip, so I said, “Just mix me 2 gallons of that, and I’ll pick it up tomorrow.” She was worried about doing that, but I told her if it was wrong, I’d paint over it, and I’d never tell her. Fortunately it was “just right.” I love it. The paint lady labeled it “Debby’s Perfect Coral.”


Here’s some before pictures that I snapped AFTER I had cleared out most of the stuff in the bedrooms. A big change, no?

That patch over the top of my bed is where J. had to frame in a window when he put the mudroom in.


And in this picture you can see the closet wall. When I bought the house, they put up that wall to give me a bigger closet. It was sheet rocked, but never painted. The closet “door” is one of those bi-fold doors. I never liked it.


The closet still needs to be finished. J. is going to install real closet innards, instead of the dressers and funky wire shelves that I had put up myself. The closet was also shortened, in anticipation of the next step–turning my little bathroom into a laundry room! J. borrowed almost 3 feet from the closet to make room for the washer and dryer. Now my closet is 7’X5′. Its still plenty big for my clothes. MIght be a little small for all the other stuff I store in there. But hopefully, with all the remodeling, all those things will find new homes.

So here’s the bedroom after I moved a few pieces of furniture back into the room. Now I need a new bed, or at least something to disguise the box springs. That little rug is the latest hooked rug I finished.


And in this photo, the hooked rug is one that my rug hooking friend brought to me all the way from Illinois! She found it at a farm sale for only $2. That is a big part of its charm. Plus, could it go any better with the color scheme here? Notice the “real” closet door there. I am in love with doors these days!


In Cambria, there was a high of 63-70 every day. I arrived home to a high of 103, and its been hot every day. Here’s the scene around here most of the time (and I’m sure you spied me in the mirror above wearing my “I don’t’ care what I look like, these are the coolest clothes I’ve got” ensemble.)

Sophie and Monk

Sophie and Monk




Bess and Sophie

Bess and Sophie

I had a great time on my trip. I’ll blog about that in a separate post. Otherwise this post would be impossibly long.

AIM: The Organized Approach

My whole life, pretty much, I’ve thought of myself as an unorganized person. It just was not a priority for me. But in thinking over this topic for the past month, I think my thinking was wrong. Yes, I am a procrastinator (most AIM posts are written Sunday evening a few hours before their Monday publication date.) Yes, I am sometimes messy (hey, I’m an artist–that’s how we all are, right : ) )

But I have come to the conclusion that I am somewhat organized. I like making lists. I like having a plan, and I like even more to have a back-up plan.

In all the house additions/renovations I have been doing, I have had to be organized. For the past two weeks, getting ready for my trip AT THE SAME TIME that I am clearing out an incredibly crowded bedroom and closet (bedroom/closet renovation are going to start while I’m out of town,) I have had to be organized.

But wait, I guess I’m supposed to be talking about how organization can help in weight loss maintenance. And that is one area where I am very sure that I am organized, and that it does help.

I try to grocery shop only once a week.

  • I don’t shop hungry.
  • I always have a list.
  • I shop the perimeter of the store to make sure I always have healthy options available in my house.

I like to cook, but I don’t like to cook every day.

  • I “batch-cook” proteins, and then wrap and freeze in individual portions.
  • I bake my low-cal breakfast treats, and then wrap each individually in foil so I can take them out of the freezer and put them directly into the toaster oven.
  • I have salad fixings on hand most weeks for the days I don’t even feel like cooking veggies.

I like to exercise, but I don’t always like to drive to the gym.

  • I organize my days so that if I have to go to town for something else, I add on a trip to the gym.
  • I’ve learned that if I don’t go to the gym first on those trips, it usually gets skipped (shopping wears me out : ) ) So I always go to the gym first.
  • I’ve added quite a few exercises to my PT (knee strengthening exercises) routine so it is a complete workout on the days that I don’t go to town.

Wow, I know it sounds like I have it all together. Some days, it all just goes out the window. Many days it is still a struggle just to maintain my weight loss. Having these organizational habits ingrained in my daily life help make maintenance manageable.

But just so ya know, I am leaving Sunday morning before 8am, and I am writing this post Saturday night at 10pm. The car is packed, and the bedroom and closet are cleared out. Procrastinator, yes. Organized, yes.

Be sure to check out my friends to see whether they think organization is necessary in the maintaining life.

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet