Saturday, February 21, 2015

It Was Just An Oil Change

I haven't been spending much time on the computer when I'm not at work, so blogging has suffered (obviously).  My apologies.  Truly.

Yesterday, Jay and I had a rare day off together and had errands that needed to get done.  First on the list was an oil change for Newt, so off to the dealership we went.  We dropped her at the service center and went to wander the lot.  Before we even got to the lot, right there, smack-dab in the middle of the showroom floor was the most beautiful Soul I'd ever seen.  We wandered over to look at it, and ooh'd and aah'd for a bit before we headed outside to look at the other cars.

When we came back in, I had to see the Soul again, only this time, we made the mistake of opening the doors and looking at the interior.  She was beautiful. Like, beautiful-beautiful.  A helpful salesman came over and we told him we were just looking, that our Soul was in for an oil change.

But something about the new one wouldn't let me go.  Jay and I decided that if we could do a straight across trade for the new one, we'd do it.  I don't know why.  She just spoke to me.

We talked to the salesman again and he was willing to run the numbers and see what he could do.  Next thing you know, we're moving our stuff out of Newt and into the new car. 

Since Ripley and Newt were both named based on their colors, I saw no need to change the trend.  Salome is Caribbean blue, and that just screams Jimmy Buffet to a ParrotHead like myself.  I wasn't going to name her "Jimmy Buffet", so I needed a name from one of his songs and Salome came to mind.  If you don't know "When Salome Plays the Drums", I've got a little earbug for you.

Some of the trim work that Jay did on Ripley and Newt is already done, so he's hard at work designing a wrap for her back gate that keeps inline with the Jimmy Buffett/Caribbean theme.

We absolutely do NOT plan on trading Salome in any time soon, so we agreed that we will never go to the dealership together again.  One or the other of us will go do her oil changes, but not both.  We tend to be impulsive when we both go to the dealership, after all, that's how we ended up with Newt (and now Salome).

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Back to the Damn Numbers

Last week, I was ending my year with no numbers.  I loved the lack of stress associated with not dwelling on numbers.  However, there were a couple of numbers my doctor was worried about.  Namely, my liver function and my hemoglobin A1c.  I did my six-week re-draw of my liver function and it's all good.  We have no idea why it was so out-of-whack, but it was at that one moment in time.  Now, it's well within the normal ranges (at the moment in time that it was drawn). 

My hemoglobin A1c is high normal, but I'm an obese, middle-aged, half-Mexican female, which greatly increases my risk of diabetes.  Blah.  The one surefire way to lower my A1c is to lose weight.  Hence the fucking numbers game again.

Jay and I started the FAST Metabolism Diet last week.  I was super excited to do it - the recipes all sounded yummy and there was the promise of a lot of loss very quickly as our metabolism got sorted out again.  It started out pretty well.  We both had low-grade headaches for days as our body adjusted to no sugar, no caffeine, no anything good.  We gutted through.

The brown rice recipe at the end of day two made me sick.  The smell of it nauseated me and it was all I could do to get some of it down.  When I make brown rice, I make it with water, rice, some salt and that's it.  Her recipe called for garlic, onion, celery, veggie stock, carrots, and oh yeah, some brown rice.  Her proportions on the recipe were wrong, so we ended up with brown rice soup. (1/2 c brown rice to 4 c veggie broth?  Even my non-chef ass knew that was cattywompus.)  The chicken and broccoli that was supposed to go with the "brown rice" was excellent, but I didn't get my serving of grain down that day because I literally could not stomach it.

Phase 2, which is Wed/Thurs and primarily lean proteins, no fruits/grains, was hard for me to get through.  We had received an amazing fruit basket for Christmas and we had piles of fruit just begging to be eaten.  Thursday was a day we had to go into town and our "eat every three hours" wasn't going to work unless we stopped to eat or brown bagged a lot of stuff.  We "cheated" and went to Qdoba - we left off all the "bad stuff" and had the food on our approved list.  Mostly.  We did not opt for a naked burrito, so we broke the rules by having a tortilla (gluten is verboten on this diet) and brown rice (also verboten during this phase of the diet).  By Thursday, we both still had headaches and had a fuck it all attitude.  Amazingly, after we ate food that our bodies were used to, our headaches went away.

It was in Phase 2 that we started altering the recipes to fit us better.  One night we had green chili rubbed steak with asparagus.  Loved it.  The next night, we had cajun chicken with asparagus.  Both had "approved" ingredients and both were foods our body could handle.

Phase 3 is the least restrictive of the diet and we have done okay with that.  We can eat all the fruit, veggies, grains, protein we want.  Since we eat 35 meals per week on this plan, we had a cheat night last night at the hockey game and went all out.  We had nachos and fresh donuts and a soda each.  Jay had a chili dog (I stole a bite of it - to die for).  We figured one out of thirty-five wasn't too bad.

I woke up feeling like a million bucks this morning. Jay did not.  He had acid reflux really bad in the middle of the night and his gut was not happy at all.  His gut flora has already adapted to the new diet, while mine has been slower to adapt.

I cannot express to you how much I hate, hate, hate living my life in three-hour increments.  The biggest complaint in all of the reviews I read of this diet was the cost involved.  I absolutely agree.  We've spent a lot of money on foods that we normally don't eat, so it's like restocking the pantry all over again.  The recipes provided sound amazing, but the spice combinations are just too much.  My stomach can't handle them.

I was absolutely ready to throw this diet out the window, but then we did our measurements today.  We took initial measurements at: neck, R arm, waist, hips, R thigh, and R calf.  Today, we repeated them and we've both lost some combined inches.  We've lost just enough to do this torture again for one more week.

We are going to adapt the recipes to our tastes and keep some gluten- and dairy-containing foods in our diet because we don't want to alter our gut flora as drastically as this diet would do.  Just one or two meals out of our thirty-five, we'll feed our happy bacteria food instead of going on probios.

If I were to rate this diet, right now it would be a three-star diet.  We have seen some improvement, but the financial and emotional cost is barely worth it.

The worst part is I'm back to the fucking numbers and the stress associated with them.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Year of No Numbers

At the beginning of 2014, I decided that I wasn't going to pay any attention to numbers, especially numbers concerned with my weight/health.  For the past few years, my life has revolved around calories, reps, and pounds and I was over it.  I decided that I wasn't going to do a damn thing other than live my life - as long as I was healthy enough to do what I wanted to do - I wasn't going to give numbers a second thought.  I even gave away my BodyBugg, so I wasn't tied to calories burned/steps taken/etc.

I walked a 5K because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to.  Nebalee walked with me, but the thought of "no numbers" about made her crazy.  I didn't care about my time, as long as I finished.

I spent a few weeks doing Les Mills' Body Pump with a friend of mine.  Again, because I wanted to.  It made me feel good to complete the workout.  Then summer came and I got Skeeter.  My exercise became working with her.  Ten minutes here and there.

Stacking hay - talk about functional fitness - you can't get that kind of workout in a gym. 

I ate and drank what I wanted, when I wanted.  You know what I found?  I can no longer tolerate greasy burgers.  5 Guys used to be my favorite burger joint on the planet.  I can't even get one down now without feeling sick.  I go for days without a Coke, and those of you who know me, know I refuse to give up my Coke.  It's pretty amazing when you feel like nothing is off-limits, how easy it is to "choose wisely".

It's been a surprisingly peaceful year, not worrying about how many calories I'm stuffing in my face or stressing out about how much weight I've lost (or not).  As the year ends, I'm down about four pounds over the beginning of the year (I know this because the doctor still weighs me).

Mentally, I'm much more relaxed.

Physically, I'm kind of a mess.  My liver enzymes are out of whack, my LDL is elevated, and I'm tired of being a cream puff.  There has to be some sort of middle ground.

2015 is all about finding the middle ground.

The fact is I do need to lose weight and I do need to engage in exercise (other than just playing with the horses), but is there a way to do it without turning into a calorie-counting bitch?  Without all of the guilt that goes along with knowing I shouldn't eat this and I should do that?

My doctor recommended The Fast Metabolism Diet.  I trust my doctor implicitly; I used to be her medical assistant, so we've built a stronger-than-usual patient/doctor relationship. She believes in the diet and uses it herself for weight maintenance, so I felt good about her recommendation.

I took the time to read the book, and what I read has me excited to give it a go.  It's all about "re-setting" your metabolism.  It explains why calories in/calories out doesn't work for everyone.  I've lost and gained weight a lot since my thirties and my metabolism doesn't have a clue what to do, so it stores everything as fat.  So much of what is in the book makes sense that I wonder why I never figured it out for myself.

Jay and I are going to start the "diet" tomorrow.  I hate to call it a diet considering there is so much food involved, and it's all good, "real" food.  I'll have to re-join the numbers game for a bit (no calorie counting, though!), just the measuring tape once a week to see progress and maybe an occasional scale, but I'm not going to focus on the numbers.  I've had a year of no numbers training under my belt, I think I can ignore them as needed.

Here's an example of what our first week of the "diet" will look like:

Morning snack: watermelon slices with lime and chili powder
Breakfast: steel-cut oatmeal with berries
Lunch: chicken, apple, and spinach salad
Afternoon snack: veggies and dip
Dinner: pork tenderloin with broccoli and pineapple

Morning snack: fruit (probably pomegranate - yum)
Breakfast: steel-cut oatmeal with berries
Lunch: turkey, bean, and kale soup
Afternoon snack: veggies and dip (or more fruit)
Dinner: Chicken and broccoli bowl

Morning snack: jicama with lime and chili powder
Breakfast: Spanish egg white scramble
Lunch: steak and spinach salad
Afternoon snack: deli meat wrap
Dinner: baked cinnamon-mustard chicken and lemon garlic spinach

Morning snack: jicama with lime and chili powder
Breakfast: turkey bacon with celery (sounds weird, I know, but I'm willing to try it)
Lunch: steak and asparagus wrap
Afternoon snack: deli meat wrap
Dinner: southwestern beef and cabbage soup

Morning snack: berry smoothie
Breakfast: berry nutty oatmeal
Lunch: 3 egg salad
Afternoon snack: raw nuts
Dinner: avocado chili

Morning snack: berry smoothie
Breakfast: B&B toast
Lunch: avocado/turkey lettuce wrap
Afternoon snack: raw nuts
Dinner: sesame chicken stir-fry

Morning snack: berries
Breakfast: B&B toast
Lunch: lentil stew
Afternoon snack: raw nuts
Dinner: Rosemary pork roast with sweet potato

Apparently, we have to eat within 30 minutes of waking, which is why our morning snack and breakfast are flipped.  We get up, feed the horses, get ready for work and leave all in a 30 minute time-frame, so there's no way we'd make breakfast.  Snack first, breakfast at work.  The other major key (besides not eating anything processed) is to eat every three to four hours as long as you're awake to keep your metabolism cranking along.

There are things that we "can't" eat, but it's only for 28 days.  You can do pretty much anything for 28 days, right?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's Almost Time For Baking Weekend!

Just a few more days and my girls (minus Staci, who is living the life on her boat with her family) will be joining me for baking weekend!  We are a cookie baking factory over the weekend and I can't wait.

However, there is one thing I can guarantee I won't be baking this year and it's these puppies (or should I say cubs?).

(Reposted from 12/11/11)

My girls came!
Robs, Sue, Staci, Me :)
I love my girls.

They did lots of this...
This is Robs' double batch in a single batch bowl -
I was super impressed she managed.
And this...

Which resulted in these...
They were baking machines.
(Yes, SGG, there was alcohol involved)

I did zero cookie baking.  Zero.  I kinda felt bad about it, but I was focused on a project I've been contemplating for two years now.  I don't even know where I first saw these Snow Globe Coca-Cola Cupcakes, but ever since I saw them, I've been wondering if I could pull something like that off.

I mean, look at them...
Photo cred: Bakerella
In fact, I was pretty sure I couldn't pull them off, but I've been getting braver in the kitchen.  Last year, we had success with the bococcini.

So I gathered up my courage and hit the stores looking for what I would need: Coke in the "ornament" plastic bottles, rolled fondant, an edible pen, and a red sugar sheet. I followed the directions that I found on Bakerella.

I used the bears on the wrappers as inspiration.

Beel even got in on the act...
See the bandaid on the back of his hand?
Yeah, I wasn't sure that I should allow him to use a knife.
I'm happy to report that he still has all of his fingers.
I even tried the Cola Cake recipe that Bakerella linked to.  It was one jacked up recipe.  I've never baked cupcakes from scratch, but I'm a direction following fool.  I read the recipe a couple of times, and then obsessively referred to it while I was making the cake stuff.
Butter, veggie oil, cocoa, and Coke.
It's not quite as gross as it sounds.

I brought that crazy concoction to a boil and added it to the dry ingredients, which included a cup and a half of marshmallows...
It didn't taste too bad,
for a diabetic coma in a bowl.

I then baked up a batch of the cupcakes.  They were awful.  They fell, which was a bummer.  But they didn't taste so wonderful either.  Plan B - store-bought Devil's Food cake mix.  Win!!

While I was waiting for Nebalee to come up to the lodge with my Plan B, I worked on the fondant.  Oh God, what a disaster that was.  The store must have put out last year's fondant, because it was a brick.  I had to break it open and scoop out the inside just to have any to work with.

I lost easily half of the fondant I bought - the outside was unuseable.
Staci and Little Miss 'Mantha helped make the fondant bears.

Staci was a bear making fiend!  I made two.  She whipped out the rest.  Wait...Nebalee made the little cub.  Aren't they cute?
I used the red sugar sheet to cut out their scarves,
instead of the fondant recommended by Bakerella.
Auto Bot and Kyzzer helped me prep the snow globes...
We sprayed the inside of the bottles with sugar water
and then the kids sprinkled them with sugary thingies.

Mom and Nebalee put snow on the cupcakes after I frosted them...

And then I got to assemble...
Oh. My. God.
I can't tell you how thrilled I am with them!
They're not quite as polished as the ones at Bakerella, but then, neither am I.  I'm so not a professional baker - I'm pretty sure that once-a-year baking doesn't count - but I am beside-myself-excited about these cupcakes!
I'll post about the rest of Baking Weekend when I come down from my cupcake success high.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Abandoned Kitty (Abby)

On Monday, when I returned from lunch, there was a commotion on campus, so I had to go check it out.  My boss' wife was there with the tiniest little kitten snuggled into her jacket.  It seems that she and their son had been out grocery shopping and saw a box with "free kitten" written on it.  The box was in a grocery cart parked in the middle of one of the aisles with no one around. A little black and white kitten face kept poking up out of the box.

My boss' wife is an animal magnet - if there is an animal in need, it always manages to find her.  She and her son claimed the kitten, picked up some canned food and brought it to work.  She had a new owner in mind, and it wasn't me, but when I saw the kitten, I knew we had to have it.  We've been looking all over for a kitten that wasn't going to cost us an arm and a leg.

Since the weather got cold a couple of weeks ago, the mice have been getting bolder and bolder to the point where they would just stop and look at you like, "I dare you!".  We had mouse traps out, but hadn't bagged as many as we had hoped.  I hate to hear them in the walls, but there they were, scrabbling in the wall between the bathroom and mudroom.  It was past time to get a cat.

I texted Jay and told him we now had our kitten.  I'm not sure she even weighs a pound yet and she fits curled up in both of my hands.  She also had worms (yuck), which we realized when she started dragging her butt on the carpet like a dog.

She definitely likes being up and would not stay in her box, despite taping it shut, for the drive home, so she sat on Digger's shoulder.

After I dropped Digger off at his place, she climbed onto my shoulder and slept the whole way home.  It was tough work being abandoned and then claimed.

She wasn't so excited about Allie-bird when I first introduced them, but has now decided that Allie is her dog.  However, she immediately claimed Jay as her human.

She's a bold kitty, not afraid of much, and has immediately taken over the house.  The first couple of nights were really rough.  It's been a long time since we've had a single kitten with a ton of energy.  It made it kind of tough to love her those first few days.

But she's just so darn cute when she's not terrorizing everyone and so loving when she wants to be that she'll get to stay.  It didn't hurt that she killed a mouse her first night home.

We (de)wormed her and gave her her shots yesterday.  The shot(s) was easy, but the wormer pill was not.  Between the two of us, we were able to choke it down her throat without losing any fingers, but it was a close thing. Because we didn't want Allie to end up with worms, we also treated her.

Abby likes to "help" whenever I'm on my cell phone, so I downloaded an app for her to play with.  How cute is this?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Publishing Has Killed My NaNoWriMo Mojo!

Here it is, twenty-two days into NaNoWriMo and I've barely broken 7,500 words.  In the five (or six) years I've been participating, I've never struggled like I am this year and I blame the fact that I finally published my books.  I've resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to "win" NaNo this year, and that's okay as long as I get useable words out of my effort.

No longer can I just "vomit" words onto a page and feel okay about it.  Editing sucks.  Taking all those crappy words I threw up onto the page and trying to make something useful out of them is one of my least favorite chores.  Now that I know this, I'm struggling with putting the "right" words down the first time.  I understand why Tara Janzen says that writing is "excruciating" and "that it's like placing individual pieces of glitter with tweezers".

I find that I have to know where the story is going, whereas in the past I didn't care.  I find myself thinking things like, "will this tie into what is going to happen in chapter so-and-so?".  Or, "is this even believable?".  Things that never once crossed my mind in NaNos past.

And you know what?  I miss the free writing.  I do.  I just want to be able to shut off the "inner editor".  Now, just as soon as I figure that out, I'll let you know.

I'm currently working on two books: LYON'S RAGE and  PICEANCE BASIN PRINCESS.  My thought was that when I hit a wall with one, I'd switch to the other.  It worked beautifully for a couple thousand words.

LYON'S RAGE is a book, still early in Stacy's career as a Protection Specialist.  Her recent past comes back to haunt her when a potential client tries to hire her to kill his spouse. 

PICEANCE BASIN PRINCESS is Skeeter's story, how she came into my life after losing Her Highness.  It's not going to be a sappy, oh-she-saved-my-life story, because I honestly hate those stories.  It's more the reality side of things.  Yes, I loved Queen Estes and yes, I love Princess Skeeter, but it's hard work to keep from comparing the two.  It's more of a "she's different from Estes and I still love her" kind of story.

If I finish the month with a good start on both of these, I'll feel really good. I've taken vacation time over Christmas break, so I plan on continuing to write. I'd like to have RAGE in a publishable state by June 2015, and the other by the end of the summer. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Reason #1,436,983 Why I'm a Lucky Girl

It's just a few hours until the kick-off of NaNoWriMo.

NaNo is one of the first things Jay and I decided to tackle as a couple and I look forward to it every year.

It's a bit odd, I know, but some of my favorite times are laying in the dark bouncing ideas off of each other in the nights leading up to NaNo.  This year, Jay's returning to his original NaNo book and I'm so excited.  His children's book is beautiful and I love the artwork, but his "grown-up" novel hooked me from the very beginning and I've been waiting for him to go back to it.

Last night, since we couldn't turn off our brains, we talked books, characters, and plots.

And it was the perfect way to drift off to sleep.

Yep, I'm a lucky girl.