Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Quote Day

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I love it when the last day of the year falls on a Friday. It feels like we get the weekend off before we really have to begin working on those resolutions.

Heh. Kidding!

Does a resolution "stick" better if you call it a goal? I hope so, because I'm setting a few goals for the coming days, months and year that I hope will be achievable.

First, though, everyone pop over to Elora's place and wish her a happy birthday! She was the inspiration for my bookmark today. The design of it is very "happy birthday"-ish, and the quote – especially the first part – describes my friend perfectly. She effortlessly finds the best in everyone around her. Elora, I hope your special day is the best one yet, and may the coming year bring you many blessings.

Okay, back to the goals.

Our tax dollars have paid for this project, and I'm going to begin my year by taking advantage of the research that's been put into it. All of us in the U.S. learned about the four food groups and/or the food pyramid when we were schoolchildren, but I daresay we've only used that information to pass a test in health class. Applying this knowledge should lead to slow, steady weight loss that I can maintain. I've done weight loss before. I'm not so good at maintaining.

So the first daily goal is to eat from the pyramid, using the personalized plan available here.

The second is to get at least 60 minutes of intentional activity, which means a walk – either outdoors or on the new elliptical (it should be here in five more days!) – or strength training or yoga or the rowing machine (if I ever get it fixed) or something that isn't housework, yard work or gardening. It will be much more challenging to accomplish this goal in April than it is now in January, as the outdoor chores take up a lot of time and energy. My hope is that by starting now, when I have no other tasks pulling me away from it, the daily hour of exercise will become sacred.

Theoretically, if I eat the number of calories prescribed at mypyramid.gov and do an hour of physical activity every day, weight loss – the ultimate goal – will happen. But is weight loss really the ultimate goal? Well, yes and no.

I will turn 60 in May (the 25th, don't you forget it!). I've run three half-marathons and a 10-mile race, but never a marathon. So the ultimate goal for 2011 is to run a full marathon before the end of the year. In order to do that, I need to lose some – okay, a lot of – weight. I think if I keep the marathon goal out there, the weight loss will happen. It's a given that I can't run 26.2 miles at my current level of, ahem, fitness.

So there are two ultimate goals, and they work hand-in-hand.

What about the interim? It feels like I should set monthly or quarterly goals, but that's never worked for me. I set what I think are reasonable weight-loss goals for a month, I don't make it and I give up. Instead, I think I'll set monthly mileage goals, to be updated on the first day of each month.

Therefore, my goal for January is to walk/run 120 miles. That's a reasonable number, considering the disaster December's been. I can't control the weather, but with the addition of the elliptical to my arsenal I should be able to control the mileage. My preference will always be to work out outdoors, but sometimes it's just not possible.

The other fitness goal for January is to strength train twice a week – just two days of lifting tiny dumbbells or doing squats or lunges or a couple sets of girly-girl push-ups. I'm hoping that by making this goal on the light side, I will gradually learn to like it. Or at least tolerate it.

And lest you think I'm all about food and fitness and calories, oh my, I have one other non-health-related goal for the coming year. Unless you count art as health. Yes, it's time to resurrect Project 365. I probably won't upload the photos every day, but I plan to take a photo with the good camera every day. I use the BlackBerry camera to post a photo to FaceBook every day I walk, and I've just about abandoned the Rebel. So it's time to get creative again. No theme or plan for the project this year, just a picture a day from my world.

Maybe this year I'll make it all the way to next New Year's Eve.

Thank you for sticking with me this year. I hope 2011 is your best year ever. I hope it's my best year ever, as well.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sock it to me, part two

Thank for your comments about my husband's sock. I've already started the heel on the second one. Worsted-weight socks go quickly!

The yarn is an ancient one that's been in my yarn closet for a very long time. It's by Neveda and is a blend of 70% wool, 20% acrylic and 10% alpaca, with 90 yards per 50 grams. With a 12" size 6 (US) circular needle, I cast on 48 stitches and worked 8 rounds of 1x1 ribbing. I switched to a size 7 needle and knit 49 rounds (about 7 inches). Then I switched to a size 4 for the heel and foot. The larger needle for the leg portion means that part goes a little more quickly. The smaller needle for the heel and foot makes the fabric sturdier where it's needed.

I should finish the second sock today and then it's on to the rest of my list.

Some knitters don't care to knit with the short 12" circulars, but my hands are small and my fingers are short and they fit me very comfortably. I'd much rather use a circular than double-pointed needles although, of course, you have to switch to double-points when you get down to the toe. You can also use two longer circulars to work in the round. A Google search should turn up lots of sites with instructions.

I haven't been involved in online knitting groups in a while, so I really don't know if someone has come up with yet another way to knit socks. When I was involved, there were several methods: double-points, short circulars, two circulars and the Magic Loop. There was even a pattern floating around for knitting a sock within a sock, to eliminate the problem of second-sock syndrome (that's when you finish the first and can't bear to do another one just like it). I figure it's all knitting, and I love to knit, so what the heck. But I do think it's wise to cast on for the second sock (glove, slipper, mitten) immediately.

I walked outside yesterday for FIVE miles. I haven't done five since December 11, and my legs and calves were feeling it last night. I hope to repeat that walk today. We're having a bit of mist/freezing rain right now, but that's supposed to be gone by 9 a.m. We'll see if the weatherman is right.

Are you planning anything special for New Year's Eve? I'm from Ohio and it was our family's tradition to eat ribs and sauerkraut for luck in the new year. Now that I'm a southerner (well, southern West Virginia, anyway), I've discovered Hoppin' John, and this year I grew my own black-eyed peas to make it. I happen to love Hoppin' John, while my husband only tolerates it because I make him eat it. This link will take you to an interesting op-ed about black-eyed peas published in today's New York Times.

Another New Year's food tradition is that a serving of carrot "coins" will bring prosperity. Since the economy still sucks I think I'll put some of those on our plates as well. Other than that, we'll be watching football and more football. And I'll be knitting and knitting. And knitting. Heh.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oops!

No rain forecast for today after all, and while it's gloomy right now, the forecast is calling for sunny skies this afternoon. Guess where I'll be?


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Sock it to me

That's what NC State did to WVU in last night's bowl game. So sad.

And here's what I finished during the game. My husband has resisted wool socks (who knows why) for years, but this year decided they were the only thing that would keep his feet warm. This thick boot sock is the first half of the first pair.

And, lest second-sock syndrome set in, I've already completed the ribbing on sock #2.

Have a good Wednesday. It's supposed to be a bit warmer and might rain today here. I guess that makes shiny days like yesterday even more special.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas to me!

My husband is smart enough to not give me a piece of exercise equipment as a gift. This year he tucked an envelope from the bank in my card and said I could buy something for myself.

He then further demonstrated that he does, indeed, listen to me - occasionally - by suggesting a mini-laptop OR an elliptical machine.

Both of you longtime readers are aware that our treadmill doesn't like me. It spontaneously quits after about 20 minutes, emitting a burning smell at the same time. It doesn't do this for my husband, who weighs less than I do. (At one time I thought that would be the worst thing in the world to admit. Clearly I've evolved. Heh.)

The recent inclement weather tipped the scales, so to speak, in favor of getting the elliptical, so we got out yesterday to look for one.

The only place around here to purchase reasonably good quality fitness equipment is Sears. Lemme tell you, Sears ain't what it used to be.

We bought the treadmill there, which was delivered and assembled for a nominal fee. They now contract delivery and installation, and the "nominal" fee was more than $100 bucks!

I will learn by doing, which is, after all, the best way to learn.

And, of course, they didn't have any in stock. Mine will be available for pick-up January 5. There will be more bad weather keeping me indoors this winter, I'm sure of that, so waiting a few more days isn't a big deal. It'll give me time to choose the perfect location for it.

I'm happy with my choice. Unlike a treadmill, an elliptical has no motor, so your body is doing the work. AND the model I chose has a little fan that points toward your face, and an iPod plug-in.

Sweet!

Also? The Fat2Fit guys say ellipticals burn more calories in the same time as other major pieces of fitness equipment. Sold!


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Monday, December 27, 2010

'Tis a bit windy

The lid from the recycling trash can we keep on the porch is nestled in a two-foot snowdrift, and my favorite harvesting basket is gone with the wind.

I paid scant attention to the weather advisories I kept getting over the weekend. I'm signed up for Weather Channel alerts, and I bet they've sent at least half a dozen daily since last Thursday. It's kind of like the little boy who cried wolf.

Well, the wolf showed up early this morning, waking me at 2:30-ish with its whistling and howling. I *thought* I heard the snow shovel skittering down the driveway, but it must have been my half-bushel basket.

It's an excellent day to stay indoors. We'll play Scrabble, I'll knit and cook, my husband is rereading _Truman_ and, eventually, winter will be over.

One day at a time.


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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mmm, mmm good!

The snow is blowing sideways (not in huge amounts, thank goodness) and it's a great day for soup. Four kinds of beans (including cranberry beans from this year's garden), a meaty ham bone, onions, carrots, herbs ... Hope you're having something warm and delicious for dinner tonight!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry, merry AND a Friday Quote

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Wow, a double-dose of wonderfulness, right?

It occurred to me yesterday, after I published my post, that I could have been hilariously funny. Not just ha-ha funny, but side-stitch inducing! How, you may ask? Well, remember I said I was two pounds lighter this year than last? That means by the time I'm 85, I'll be at my goal weight!

Awesome, don't you think?

So, today's bookmark is a vertical, just to shake things up. Hope you like it, I had fun with the collection of digital scrapbook files taking up space on my hard drive.

Before I leave you to your holiday madness, I have a tiny confession. I wasn't sure if my friend Elora would be reading the blog or not, so I couldn't talk about my real knitting project for the month of December. You saw the Red Riding Hood poncho but I was teasing you about mittens. Now that it's been delivered, you get to see what I've been working on.

Knit in KnitPicks Palette.
The pattern is in the Fall 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting. Waaaaay back when it was still warm outside, I sent a picture of it to a few people who I thought might like it, and Elora was the only one who said she would love to wear it. I was itching to knit it, but thought it best to stick to the original colors (or close to them) for the first one. Now that I've made one, I might (that's a mighty big 'might') make one for myself in grey/black/cream with pops of red and purple.

Then again, I might not.

Anyhoo, Elora loved it, and called me later to say how much she loved the inside as well. I couldn't agree more. The magic of Fair Isle is that the private side is just as fascinating as the public one.

I should have taken a picture of that!

Have a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I'm being a kitchen slave today and tomorrow, but it's a role I … get ready … relish!

Heh.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tempus is fugiting

I don't feel a lot of holiday pressure this year, thanks mostly, I guess, to the need to mail most of my presents. When you have to ship packages, the pressure – such as it is – happens earlier in December and mostly involves the dread of lost shipments. Fortunately everything has been delivered and only a few mitten-shaped cookies broke in transit.

The decision to not make a lot of handknit gifts this year eliminated most of my usual tension-filled evenings. I don't often sit-and-knit during the day, because I like to watch television when I knit, and there's only so much HGTV I can stand. (I do like Color Splash, but it comes on about the time I'm usually starting dinner.) Evening television viewing around here is mostly MSNBC, which I like in much smaller doses than He Who Controls The Remote.

Sigh.

Thank goodness for college football bowl games! (Live sporting events are my programming of choice, my own personal reality TV.) While I have trouble staying awake until the final minute, I can get a lot of knitting done between kickoff and halftime.

See what I mean? It's a cuff! The first one in the first pair of three Pop-up Paws mittens on my to-do list.

The yarn is a blend of wool, cotton, acrylic and nylon, certainly not as warm as pure wool would be, but I like the texture and the little halo of red fibers, and it's machine-washable. Since this pair is going to my daughter-in-law – the mother of four children, all younger than three – I think machine-washable trumps pure wool. (And yes, I know about superwash wool, but it stretches out after a few launderings, so I prefer using it for blankets and throws and pillows, oh my.)

Moving on. I'm two whole pounds lighter this year than I was a year ago. I'm okay with that, because I didn't have a very good relationship with food in 2010. The coming year promises already to be one in which I'm not fighting myself about food. I got a good start this year, took a short and very educational detour a couple months ago and feel like I'm on track. Losing all the weight I need to lose probably won't happen in 2011. But the months are going to roll by anyway, just as they have this year, and I have a much better attitude about the possibilities before me.

The Big Carrot dangling in front of me is running a marathon next fall. I know for sure I couldn't complete one at my current weight. And I know for sure I want to complete one in 2011, the year I turn 60. As long as my desire to run a marathon remains Priority One, I should be okay.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's a Christmas miracle!

Today is weigh-in day, and – drumroll, please – I stayed the same again!

You have no idea how miraculous this is, actually. A weekend of restaurant eating, followed by a cookie-making/dinner party Monday night and homemade persimmon pudding (Oh. My. God! How delicious!) last night – sorry for the food porn, but this week of eating followed by a maintenance weigh-in illustrates so perfectly what the Fat2Fit guys talk about on their podcasts: Eating the number of calories you need – even if it looks like an outrageously high number – doesn't lead to weight gain.

I'm astonished.

I'm glad I had a couple months of closely tracking my food intake, because I now have a pretty good idea of what that number is without being obsessive about it. I think I'll try to journal a couple days a week for a while, just to keep myself honest.

In the meantime, I'm not restricting but not overindulging. I'm sampling, tasting and even (in the case of the persimmon pudding) digging in with abandon.

I'm enjoying – something I haven't done with holiday food in a very long time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pop-up Paws Update

I decided, after all, that I wouldn't have time to make a pair of Pop-up Paws for my daughter-in-law. Instead, I wore mine and made sure she saw them, to get an idea of whether she would appreciate a pair or not.

Turns out she would – she immediately said how handy they would be when buckling children into car seats. So I'll add them to the to-do list. While I was in Ohio, two other friends said they'd love a pair, as well, and I also promised two pairs of felted clogs. That should reduce the yarn stash a bit!

It's been more than two weeks since I've walked outdoors, but guess what? Today's the day! Temperatures will be above freezing (it's almost there now) all day for the first time in who knows how long? I got a Christmas card from one of my cousins yesterday and she wrote about how inspiring my walking program has been for her. (She's been following my progress on Facebook; you can, too! Just click that FB link on the left side of the page to add me as your friend.) She has to have both knees replaced next month, and is hoping to begin her own walking regimen in the spring. Not only do I feel I've let myself down by not getting out to walk, perhaps I've let her down, too! Hope not.

I ordered some devices to strap onto my shoes to add traction in snow and ice. The snow will probably be gone before they get here, but I've a feeling there will be more before winter's end. Don't know why I didn't think of these earlier in the season. Maybe I was subconsciously looking for a reason to take a break. My subconscious can be pretty persuasive. Heh.

No lunar eclipse for us last night. I woke spontaneously at 2:11 a.m., just in time to watch it, but we were under a solid cloud cover. At 8 p.m. last night the full moon was beautiful, as was the starry, starry night. It didn't last long enough for us to catch a glimpse, though. Did you see it? Tell!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Did you read Part 2?

CAP followed up on the great post I referenced last week. One of the lines that stands out and is so relevant is this:
Each new year I resolved to be less of myself.
To me, that is brilliant! In resolving to be "less of myself," I inevitably became less genuine, less mindful, less … fill in the blank, while at the same time becoming physically bigger, fatter, more!

In this second post, she responds to some comments from the previous one, with depth, thought, detail, heart and soul. 

She is blazing the trail I'd like to be on. I'm still hung up on calories in/calories out, I still think sugar is "bad" and whole grains are "good." I have a long way to go, but I feel like the insanity in my life with regard to food is somehow fading away.

We had to eat out quite a bit this weekend, as we were traveling. My husband and I have completely different food philosophies, and that makes things difficult. He has managed his weight by eating one meal (dinner) a day and having something else (yogurt, usually) before he goes to bed. I, on the other hand, believe in eating three squares and a snack or two. I think science backs me up – keeping your blood sugar levels steady would, I think, be a good thing.

He, however, sees that his weight is normal and mine is, well, let's just say above average, and therefore his plan must be the one to follow.

I insisted that we eat more frequently than just dinner. At each meal, I ate according to my hunger level. I had dessert once, but mostly – and I think this is a result of eating home-grown, home-cooked food for most of this year – I ate simply and nutritiously. I picked an Indian restaurant for dinner Saturday night and savored my meal – Chicken Tika Masala that was superb.

Perhaps recounting all this weekend food stuff proves that my food issues aren't fading away, now that I think about it. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. But I do feel that I'm inching closer to ordered eating, instead of disordered.

One thing I didn't get any of this weekend was intentional activity. Sidewalks were snow-covered, temperatures were frigid and time for myself was limited. I saw a few hardy runners out there getting their miles in, though, and felt the tiniest pang of regret that I'm not that dedicated.

Very tiny. Heh.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Required reading - the navel-gazing part

http://www.google.com/gwt/x?source=reader&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.crazyauntpurl.com%2Farchives%2F2010%2F12%2Fi_shred_therefo_1.php

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Friday Quote Day

A bookmark designed especially for the runners out there.

Click and save, print on cardstock, punch a hole and add some yarn. Enjoy!

I'm so anxious to start really running again. The quote says it all. I almost always feel better after I run – accomplished, strong, confident, kick-ass, strong, capable and did I mention strong?

And if you think you're too old to run, think again. (I've never thought I was too old to do anything. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Forgot to show you ...

our mixed veggies from dinner last night. Carrots, green beans, corn, edamame and peas, all plucked from the freezer *after* they'd been plucked from the garden. I lost the peas for a while, so glad I found them again! Heh.

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Suh-lammed!

Well, not really, but it seems like winter just won't go away. And it hasn't even started yet!

I've gotten multiple advisories and warnings over the past week, each one more dire than the last, letting me know that I'm going to freeze my extremities off and I'd better not drive.

Great time to plan a trip to visit grandchildren, eh?

I was talking with a BlackBerry techie yesterday who happened to be in Halifax. That's in Canada. And it was 40 degrees! They hadn't seen the first snowflake yet!

I do believe in climate change, I do believe in climate change, I do believe in climate change, I do, I do, I do!

Anyhoo, it looks like I'll get a workout in today – shoveling the driveway! We're going to have to get out, come hell or high water wintry mix. If we do leave tomorrow, it will be very early, so we need to get to the bank today.

Yes, we're dinosaurs. We've never had ATM cards. Hey, we just started paying bills online, so maybe there's hope. Heh.

If you live in one of the many wintry mix areas, I hope you stay safe and warm!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not much from me this morning ...

I didn't sleep well last night and think I am either coming down with a cold or have a massive sinus infection. I hate not being able to breathe. Breathing? Good. Not breathing? Painful.

So anyway, how cool is this? Think I'll go do some right now. Or maybe right after breakfast. And laundry. And mopping the salty/snowy footprints off the floors. Again.

Today's weigh-in was not what I wanted to see. Up a couple pounds this week. I'm not worried about it, though. I've been playing with these two pounds since early fall. Like I said yesterday, I need to give the metabolism a break and I feel certain that next year I will be able to report slow-but-steady losses on a regular basis.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finished ...

In the last week I've finished knitting three hats, none of which were for me. I may still have time to whip out a pair of Pop-up Paws for the daughter-in-law we're going to be visiting this weekend.

All of the goodie packages have been mailed, and all of the to-be-shipped gifts are on their way. What a huge load that is to have off my shoulders! The remaining gifts will go with us to be delivered in person.

It feels good to have all of this done. The only thing left on the holiday to-do list is finish making and mailing the Christmas cards. Should be able to knock that out in a couple hours.

Looks like I've finished exercising outdoors for a while, as well. With wind chills down to ZERO and below, it's not even safe to spend any significant time outside. Food is good – I'm tracking what I eat and feeling like I'm maintaining.

I've done so much damage to my metabolism over the last mumble-mumble years of yo-yo dieting and calorie restriction that I think this is a good time to just give it a rest. Maybe a couple weeks of "normal" eating and activity will convince my body that I can be trusted not to overwork and underfeed it.

Nice theory, anyway. Who ever would have thought I'd be a mad scientist in my 50s, experimenting on myself? Heh.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Welcome to the 21st century, Debbi

This past June our wireless phone contract with AT&T expired and we got to switch carriers. AT&T is fine for some folks, but we couldn't get a signal at the end of our driveway. Not that we made many calls from the end of the driveway, but still.

I asked local friends for recommendations and most people around here use U.S. Cellular. So I went to their store, listened to their pitch and when they dangled a BlackBerry in front of my nose, and said I could tether it to my computer for faster-than-dial-up internet service, I signed up.

The salesperson also casually mentioned this little USB plug-in thingy that would offer true 3G service. As long as my phone works here, he said, the USB thing would, as well.

Fast-forward to yesterday: Merry Christmas, Debbi.

I knew this was coming from the moment I left that store in June. Now I'm wondering what took me so long! Baby steps, I suppose.

For the past week or two I've been downloading the Fat2FitRadio podcasts from iTunes, each of which takes about an hour. I also have been using SpeedDownload to snag the first year, which the F2F guys are selling for $15 (well worth it). SpeedDownload lets me know the speed at which things are moving. Before the USB thingy? About 15K. After? 101K! Woo hoo!

The next step into the 21st century will be giving up our landline. I've really had to take baby steps on this one. Were I a single lady, it (and satellite television) would be gone, gone, gone. But my husband is not one for modern technology, and I have to respect that. (And he loves his MSNBC.)

(Case in point: While we were at the mall yesterday he decided he wanted a new music player. He's been using a portable boombox-type stereo when he works out, and now wants something with headphones. He decided the best thing for him would be a portable CD player and a set of bulky headphones. I tried to steer him to an iPod Shuffle – approximately the same price – but he wouldn't hear of it. Merry Christmas to my husband. Heh.)

So here I am, zipping along the internets, pulling up websites which were previously unbearably slow to load, downloading an audiobook (Jonathan Franzen's Freedom) from audible.com for the first time evah, and wondering what I'm going to do with all this extra time I'm going to have since I won't be sitting on my ass in front of a monitor for hours every day.

Aha! More time for sitting on my ass knitting every day… at least until it's time to start sowing and growing the garden again.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Quote Day

You know the drill: Click and save, print on cardstock, punch a hole, add a yarn tassle and stick it in a book!

Merry second Friday in December!

Sacrifice … something our indulgent selves have trouble with sometimes. I would sacrifice anything and everything for my children or my husband, but what am I willing to do for myself?

That's what I'm thinking about today, but I'm not really coming up with much to write about in this season of excess. More. Thinking. Required.

I might be finished with the baking and making. I still need to decorate the mitten cookies, but when I finished the Snickerdoodles yesterday and took an inventory of all the food gifts I've made, I think I'm done. There are lots more sticky notes popping out of my cookbooks, and printed recipes piled up on the counter, but … well, see the previous paragraph, particularly the phrase "season of excess."

I was able to get outside for a walk yesterday – the temperature was only 25 and I went five miles (looooong, slooooow miles), but I did it. And felt like crap when I got home. I was plumb worn out! Took a nap before dinner and went to bed earlier than usual. Which is saying something, because I go to bed pretty early anyway, as a rule. It will be a much nicer day today, and I'm planning to try it again.

I think it would do me a lot of good to get all the gifts wrapped and shipped, and to turn the guest room back into a guest room, rather than Christmas Central. I'll have a little time to work on that today, and a lot more time over the weekend.

Hope your weekend is as restful or productive as you want or need it to be.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Every picture tells a story

Okay, first things first: I'm nearly healed. It's hard to imagine that a fall like mine can send some folks to the Emergency Department – or worse – and here I am with only a teensy bit of residual soreness in my neck and a scrape on my elbow. I must come from sturdy stock. Really, I wish I could milk this injury a little bit longer. I haven't had to lift anything heavier than the coffeepot all week! Heh. But, alas, there are Things To Be Done and I'm the one to do them.

So some of you don't know what buckeyes are? Mmmmm, I wish I could send you some. You'll have to be satisfied with a virtual batch. They're as easy as pie to make, but they do take a little time. You combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar, roll it into little balls, dip the balls partway into melted chocolate and they look like the useless nut Ohio (the Buckeye State) was named for.

Next, I've been working on a very cool project for my teen-aged granddaughter. I saw a photo of a CD calendar last year and have been saving the idea all year long. She is a huge fan of Ellen DeGeneres, so each page of the calendar has an Ellen quote. I played with Photoshop brushes to do the backgrounds for each page. I love this! If you're a fan of Ellen and would like a .pdf of the project to print and assemble for your very own, let me know. I can upload it the same way I did the Wee Santa Hat. Here's a website that explains how to manipulate a CD case to hold the pages.

Last photo for today: Dinner! So healthy – meat loaf made from grass-fed beef, mixed greens sprinkled with vinegar and baked squash (which looks much better in person than it does in a BlackBerry photo – it's a bright orange, full of beta carotene, I'm sure!). So yummy. After a couple days of crap eating, it felt great to have a healthy meal.

If it warms up enough today, I'm heading out for a walk. "Enough" means the ice has to be melted off the driveway. Tomorrow might be more likely. It's 9° right now (7:15 a.m.), but supposed to hit the 40s tomorrow! Hope you have a great day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Progress report

Or, rather, the "stayed-the-same-and-I'm-grateful" report.

When I slipped on the ice on Monday and subsequently couldn't run, walk or lift anything, I took that as a license to comfort myself (with Aleve, a heating pad and food), stop journaling and generally slide back into my old, familiar ways.

My new healthy lifestyle isn't my go-to position. Yet. Add to that the mountain of cookies and candy I'm making for Christmas and I'm sure I don't have to spell it out for you.

Today is a new day, though, and I feel renewed. Also too busy to worry about it. We're getting flu shots this morning and replacing the hand mixer (a cheap one I've had for years) I broke making the peanut butter part of Buckeyes. (In Ohio we called them Buckeyes. Here in West Virginia they call them peanut-butter balls. I think.) I still have gifts and treats to finish making and the oranges I ordered last month came yesterday, which means … marmalade! I love marmalade, and so does my husband, so I'm looking forward to making many jars.

Never a dull moment around here. Hope you're staying busy. And warm. The temperature is supposed to climb back above freezing tomorrow, and I'm going to take that as a sign that I need to try another outdoor walk. Also, the next time we're in the city we're going to look at a new piece of exercise equipment. The treadmill is 15 years old and on its last legs.

Kind of like me. Heh.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Well, since I can't exercise ...

I'll need to be a little more careful with food. So I woke up early and made ... are you ready? ...

Knitter's Sugar Cookies! Can't wait to decorate them. And then mail them to my grandchildren. 'Cause they're NOT staying in my house.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crap, crap, crap!

Okay, so I hopped on the treadmill this morning and did 1.5 miles at 4.5 mph, which is a pretty good clip for me. And the treadmill only spontaneously stopped once during that period of time. I wasn't interested in fighting with it, I'd done my 1.5-mile run and I got ready to do the remaining three miles outside. Walking.

Two minutes and seven seconds after I hit the "start" button on the Garmin, I was flat on my ass in the middle of the driveway, having slipped on the sheet of ice hidden beneath the snow.

I broke my fall with my right elbow. Thank goodness I didn't break my elbow. As it is, it's quite tender and very badly bruised. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), I didn't walk any further.

I will not be compulsive about this.

I will not be compulsive about this.
I will not be compulsive about this.
I will not be compulsive about this.
I will not be compulsive about this.

My husband and I did some errands in town after I settled down a little bit. I came home, had a light lunch, worked on a graphic design project and as soon as this is published I'm going to do some things in the house that need to be done. Oh, and I'm going to knit, too. Because landing on your elbow doesn't mean you can't knit. Thank goodness!

And now for the real Monday morning post

I'm afraid my December goals may have to be downsized. I'm not saying they will for sure, as I may – depending on the weather – be able to make up my lost mileage later in the month. But so far it's not looking good.


Well, actually, it is looking good outside. Very pretty, see what I mean? But very difficult to walk in, impossible to run in and geez Louise is it ever COLD!

I'm going to try doing some running on the treadmill today. It still stops suddenly after 20 minutes or so, meaning I can do one mile and part of a second. I'm not quite up to a 10-minute mile yet, although that's not as hard to do on the treadmill as it is outside.

What I need to do is quit worrying about it. As the young folks say, "It is what it is." As long as I do something every day, other than sit on my ass, I should be okay.

We're under a Winter Weather Advisory until tomorrow evening. I don't think we'll get much more snow, but it's supposed to stay windy and cold. The wind drove me back yesterday; I'd planned to do five miles but had to turn around at the 1.5-mile mark. I just couldn't fight it any more.

Last week's total was 27-plus. Total running was 4.5. I'm still on track for the 135 total miles if I can manage 4.5 miles/day. I guess I'm actually still on track for 35 running miles, too, if I can do 1.5/day on the treadmill. Calculators are wonderful things. One and a half indoor miles plus three outdoor miles will allow me to just make it. Of course, there's no wiggle room, and we'll be traveling the weekend before Christmas.

Okay, back to "it is what it is." Heh.

The cookie-baking has begun. I'm giving most of them away but have run out of storage containers already. Will remedy that today, if I can get out of the driveway and down the hill. What I don't put in the freezer I leave on the counter for my husband to nibble on. Yesterday's spritz? Gone!

(By the way, whoever came up with the idea of dipping half a cookie in white chocolate and adding sprinkles was a genius! So easy. And so pretty, don't you think?)

Two pretty amazing things are happening as I'm baking:
  • If I nibble, either the dough or a baked cookie, I write it down.
  • I'm not nibbling nearly as much as I have in previous years.
Awesome.

I'm also not baking the quantity I have in previous years, so maybe since I know it's all going to be distributed, I want to have as much as possible to give away. So generous of me! Heh.

I'd offer to send some to you, but since this is a weight-loss blog, I'm thinking you probably don't need them any more than I do! The fun is in the baking and decorating, not the eating. Right?

Testing, testing

I had a knitting pattern on my old blog that dozens of people were able to click-and-save with no problem. I uploaded it as a .jpg, just as I did with the bookmark, and I can even view it on the tiny BlackBerry screen. One person is having problems, so I'm testing Google Docs to see if it works.

Blogger doesn't let you upload .pdf files, so this is a workaround. By hosting the file on Docs, you can point people to the file and they can download from there. Does this work for you?

Wee Santa Hat

Shoot me a comment if it does or doesn't. Thanks!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Quote Day

So where's the quote? I just know both of you out there reading are thinking I've really lost it. It's Friday,  and there's supposed to be a quote at the top of the page.

I put it at the end today, and will do so for all of December, because I think this month's presentation looks good at the bottom of the post. Call me crazy. Oh. You already have.

I need to answer Jane, who wanted to know what sorghum is. Here's the Wikipedia article about it. The first time I saw it growing at the Amish settlement, I thought it was corn. It looks like corn when it's young, but the tassles have little beads on them. I asked my dad if he knew what it might be and he immediately said they were growing sorghum, to make syrup.

When Dad was a boy, it was part of the community entertainment to gather and press the cane, releasing a sweet liquid which was then boiled into a molasses-type syrup. It's a multi-day process for the Amish, who sell both the syrup and the stalks which are left behind, which can be used for animal fodder or for decorative purposes.

As I said earlier, a spoonful in a glass of warm milk with a little vanilla added is a delicious, soothing treat at the end of the day, and a nutritious way to add some calories if you're having trouble eating enough (which I never thought would be a problem!).

The other thing I've meant to do is give you a link to the flip-top mitten pattern, which are called Pop-up Paws. The only place I could find in a quick search sells the pattern along with yarn as a kit, for $24. You might check with your local yarn shop before you invest in a kit. If you're anything like me, you have enough yarn to make enough pairs of mittens for your entire neighborhood.

I began Round 2, Day 1 of the December plan yesterday. I finished five miles in 76 minutes, and estimate that I walked half and ran half. I may have run slightly more than half, but I'm going to be conservative with my estimate. It felt good to be running again; maybe I needed that rest day.

And now, because it's the gift-giving season, here's your quote. All the quotes this month will be in the form of printable bookmarks. Simply click on the image, save it to your hard drive, print it on cardstock, punch a hole where the black circle is and loop some yarn through to make a little tassle.

You do have some yarn, right?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

On the 62nd day, she rested

If you're a Facebook friend, you already know that I didn't run or walk outdoors yesterday any longer than it took to get from the car to a store. Three stores and a mall were involved, as well as three hours of purposeful shopping (after I left the dentist's office). I don't count yesterday as a bust, but I also am not counting it toward my December mileage goal.

Sure wish I'd thought to grab the Garmin on the way out the door! Heh.

I can already see that not having a daily mileage goal, as I did in October and November, has managed to trip me up. I know the average number of miles/day I must complete to meet the monthly goal, but I didn't set a daily goal. And now that average number is a little higher. Two-tenths of a mile, to be exact. Compulsive? Who, me?

On the other hand, I wasn't ambling from aisle to aisle. I was striding. And forgetting things. So there was a lot of backtracking. It was blowing snow, 27 degrees (with a wind chill of 15) and I was tired when I got home, and so I decided to take a day off.

I'm not sure how realistic December's goals are, given the weather. We'll just have to see. One day at a time, as they say.

Jane, who is a new reader here, has tagged me with four questions. I haven't been blog-tagged in years! Here goes:

1. Who has had the most influence in your life? In what way has the person (or people) influenced you?
It's difficult to choose, but I think my mother's mother, the only grandmother I ever knew, probably shaped my life more positively than anyone else. She was my best example of true unconditional love, and she certainly taught me what it takes to be a good grandmother.

2. What is your favorite quality about yourself? Similarly, what characteristic would you like to change, lose or modify?
I like to think I'm generous and willing to help when someone is in need. I'd like to be a better listener and to stop interrupting when I think I have something better to say.

3. When was the last time you cried?
I cry a lot lately, every day as a matter of fact, including yesterday. (And, as I completed this paragraph, now.) My father died September 10. Not a day goes by that I don't remember something sweet or silly that moves me to tears. I sure miss him.

4. What was your very best vacation ever and why?
Does a wedding trip count as a vacation? I haven't been on many vacations in my life, so the best one would have to be in August of 2006 when my now-husband and I flew to Las Vegas to be married. We had so much fun. We still do.
If you'd like to ponder these questions on your blog, please consider yourself tagged!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New month, new goal

First, though, Leslie wanted before-and-after photos of the clogs. Here you go!
On the left, the knitting is done but they look like clown shoes, and measure 15” from heel to toe. On the right, after three trips through the washer, they measure 11” and should fit my sister perfectly. I hope!
I spoke with my fitness-oriented son-in-law yesterday. He called to tell me his plantar fascia tear has healed and he's out of the walking boot. He's been sidelined for a couple months and has been very anxious to get active again.

He helped me work out a reasonable (I hope) goal for December. I told him I wasn't as interested in increasing distance as I was in increasing intensity. (By the way, mileage for November was 132 and a fraction.) So the new challenge is to do a total of 135 miles, which is an average of 4.5 miles per day, but make 35 of those miles running. This seems both practical and possible if the weather isn't totally crappy this month. I can always do the running miles on the treadmill if I have to. I have no problem walking on icy or snowy roads, but running – because of the hills and uneven terrain – wouldn't be safe.

Thanks for the input on wearing mittens in North Carolina. I love mine, and think a busy mom would find them very useful, since the flip-top mitten part folds back to leave your fingers free to do whatever. I can never remember the name of the pattern, but I'll look at it again tonight and try to find a link to post tomorrow. It's not a free pattern, but it's worth every penny.

I have to run, I have a dentist's appointment this morning and will do some errands while I'm out. The real run/walk will happen later this afternoon.

You might be wondering how the Great Calorie Increase Experiment worked this week. Quite nicely, actually. I lost two pounds! Again! I'm astonished, and very motivated to keep it up. Denise's suggestion to drink some calories is something I've been doing. I love mixing a little vanilla and a spoonful of sorghum in a glass of warm milk in the evening. (Got that idea from my Amish neighbors.)

Okay, off to get my teeth cleaned!