Thursday, February 24, 2011

No quote this week …

At least not from me.

I walked early this morning (finishing up in a pouring rain), showered and started packing for a short trip to the beach. I drove all afternoon (mostly in a pouring rain) to get halfway there, and will be a passenger for the remainder of the trip tomorrow.

I'm going to unplug, as much as it's possible, for a couple of days. I'll have my phone, to stay in touch with my husband, but I'm going to try to back away from the laptop. We'll see how that goes. If our hotel has wi-fi, all bets are off. Heh.

Since I'm not going to be around in the morning for a Friday Quote Day, I thought I'd ask for your favorite quote. Who inspires you? What motivates you? Do you have a favorite thought that gets you through the tough times, or helps you appreciate the life you love? I'd love to come back to an e-mail inbox full of great thoughts and words.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm turning into my mother

The miracle of growing up in my childhood home was that my mother could put a good meal on the table every night - as well as pack our school lunches and serve us a good breakfast - with the food she had on hand. I remember comparing our, er, her food cupboard to Kroger's. She never bought one of anything, and therefore never had to run to the grocery at the last minute for a missing ingredient.

Finally, after many years of living in the Middle of Nowhere, I have turned into my mother. I do make trips to both Sam's Club (once every four to six weeks) and Tiny Kroger (every 10 days or so) for essentials, but I can put a good, healthy meal on our table every night by "shopping" the pantry, freezer and/or fridge.

I couldn't do this when I lived in Ohio. Meijer and Target were within walking distance; if I needed something, I didn't think twice about running out to fill in any culinary gaps.

But out here in the country? With gas well over $3 a gallon, and heading for $4? I've learned to shop for the future, but more than that, I've learned to grow and preserve a lot of the food we eat.

It's very satisfying to put a meal together, whether simple or complicated, without first making a list and driving to the grocery.

I'm thinking about this now because it's time to plan the garden, of course. What do I use the most? (Onions, celery, tomatoes, beans.) What from last year's harvest have I run out of already? (Garlic, edamame, peas, corn.) I'm so excited that spring is on the way, and so grateful I live in a place where I can have a big garden.

And I'm so grateful to my mother for her good example. Too bad it took me so long to figure it out!

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Peas, please!

Despite the grey, cool weather we're not enjoying this week, I'm getting ready for spring. I cleaned the shelves I used last year for all my seedlings to grow on and brought them in the house, near the south-facing sliding glass door where they'll get filtered sunlight most of the day.

Well, if the sun ever comes out again, anyway.

I also planted peas.

According to the WVU Extension Office calendar, I could have put them in the ground last week, but I was too busy then. Yesterday felt just right. I slipped on my garden clogs and gloves, grabbed a hoe, a rake and the seeds (left over from last year), and went to work.

It felt good. I finished planting a short row, replaced the straw over the two rows of garlic and felt like a farmer again. Heh.

I have lots of seeds left from last year, and from everything I've read they should be viable for several years. I haven't even decided what I need to order to fill in the gaps. I probably have enough squash in the freezer that I won't have to grow any this year, but I probably will, just because they're so easy and beautiful. I'll definitely grow some Jack O'Lanterns for the grandchildren to carve.

And speaking of grandchildren, my oldest grandson asked for a pair of fingerless gloves, which I finished last night. They're ready to mail, and I know he won't wear them much until next winter, but I like to fulfill their requests for handknits. Who knows how much longer he'll want to wear anything I make for him? He saw a movie character wearing a pair and thought they looked cool, so maybe he'll get some use out of them.

Nothing in the knitting queue right now. I saw a very cool scarf I thought I might make for my oldest granddaughter, but I need to check with her first. I'm not much of a scarf knitter, but this one certainly has a dramatic flair, and it might be just the right amount of style and panache to suit her. She's her own person, doesn't follow the crowd and thinks little of trendy fashion, though. One never knows with teen-aged girls.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I shoulda been a plumber

My husband told me a joke yesterday.

The neurosurgeon was shocked when he got his plumber's bill for a simple sink repair. "That's more than I make for an hour in the operating room!" he cried. The plumber replied, "That's more than I made when I was a neurosurgeon, too."

For the past few days I've been handwashing the dishes, thinking the garbage disposal was in need of repair or replacement. I found the problem – and solved it – thanks to the internets. I love Google.

Since I thought it was the disposal, I started there, first hitting the reset switch (all disposals have them and I've had to reset mine in the past), then using an allen wrench to clear any potential jam.

All of that resulted in a still-slow drain. A little more sleuthing suggested I probably had a clog in the line leading from the disposal to the septic system. That was easily fixed by applying a plunger to the sink drain.

Like I said up top: I shoulda been a plumber.

And I shoulda worked on this problem Saturday instead of Sunday, since we had friends over for a Chinese feast Saturday night, and I was handwashing dishes long after the sun set.

Instead of fixing the plumbing Saturday morning, though, I took a walk. Yeah, me! Unless things completely fall apart, I'm definitely going to meet the walking goal for February. I'll hit 80+ miles today; with a week to go at five miles/day, I'll exceed the 110-mile goal for the month. I'll be out of town next weekend, but I'll be at the beach, and the forecast looks pretty good for long walks along the ocean.

I'm still maintaining my weight, and eating quite well. And I'm still okay with this. I thought I surely would have gained many pounds eating 1700-1800 (and sometimes more, see Chinese feast above) calories per day, after so many years of keeping it below 1500 and, usually, at or below 1200. As I understand it from Jeff and Russ, this is the normal course when you increase calories after a long period of deprivation. I just need to trust the process.

In my occasional spot-checks, I've been up or down a pound or two, but no more, for the past couple of months. The fact that I can eat this well and maintain my weight is simply amazing. At some point my body will trust that I've given up starving it and I should begin losing. It's a fact that I wasn't losing at 1200 calories/day. I just need to be patient and trust the process.

I'm not quite ready to take a look at "what if I never lose weight."

Spring is coming, I know it is. The tulip and daffodil bulbs I planted last fall are poking through the dirt, as is the garlic! Frankly, I'm more excited about the garlic than I am the flowers. I bought a horseradish root to plant, as well as a bag of seed-starting mixure and some seeds (mostly herbs). Before you can Reap or Eat, you have to Knit Sow. Heh.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Quote Day

We may encounter many defeats
but we must not be defeated.
Maya Angelou

That's what KOKO is all about, right?

Sometimes I do feel defeated, mostly when I'm tired, and I'm really tired right now, even though it's 7 a.m. and I should be bouncing off the walls.

I'm defeated by that darned little program on the BlackBerry that I'm supposed to be using to track my daily food intake.


I'm defeated by that piece of paper in my office with the strength-training moves on it.

But I'm not defeated. I have been through all of this in the past and come out swinging, and I will again. So why am I so tired? Too much driving, too much thinking, too many people. But I'd do it all again tomorrow if the opportunity arose.

I spent the day yesterday in our state capitol with 100 other Democratic women and more than a few legislators (who are, at their cores, politicians). (A couple of iconic photos here.) West Virginia is holding a special election to install a new governor this fall. The primary is in May, and several candidates were at our event.

When you think of West Virginia, what first comes to mind? Before I moved here, I thought of Appalachian hillbillies living in rundown shacks, coal miners with blackened faces, poverty.

After living here for 14 years, I know that West Virginia is all of that, but much, much more – beautiful mountains; clear, clean streams and rivers; natural beauty; common-sense wisdom; friendly, helpful neighbors; generous spirits; longheld, deep beliefs. And more.

What it isn't, at least any more, is King Coal. Coal is on its way out as a way to "keep the lights on," but politicians who represent us are hellbent on placating the mine owners at the expense of our natural resources. Follow the money.

I can fight that mindset (and did, yesterday, in an uncharacteristic display of courage) or I can believe that it's all bigger than I am, and that my opinion doesn't count.

At the end of the day – and, apparently, at the beginning – I'm still swinging!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Compulsive? Who, me?

Well I knocked out 10 miles yesterday in two five-mile chunks, one in the morning and the other mid-afternoon.

The morning walk included enough jogging that I averaged 3.5 mph. The afternoon? Not so much. But I still came in under 100 minutes, which is my dragging-ass, I'm-so-tired-I-need-a-nap-not-a-walk time.

The walks were bookends to a trip to town in which I stopped at my library and signed up for a NetLibrary account. If you're interested in audiobooks, check to see if your state's library system is hooked in to this resource, or if there might be another way for you to borrow them. I'll be canceling my account soon, and taking full advantage of NetLibrary!

I never thought I would enjoy listening to books as much as I have. I can barely make it through half a dozen print pages in a book or magazine before I'm nodding off. (If that's a sign of old age, don't tell me about it, 'kay?) And because I'm listening while I'm walking, the time seems to fly by and I can't wait to go walking again.

I'll have three passengers with me today on my out-of-town trip; I'm just slightly disappointed that I won't get to listen to another four hours of Cutting for Stone while I'm driving. The company will be good, though, as will the events of the day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

If you live in Charlottesville …

and I know a couple of you do, you might want to check out this event Saturday.

Wish I lived closer, I'd offer to pick you up!

I met Tate and Faith during the holidays and hope they are very successful with their new business. I've been keeping up with Faith through her blog, and am inspired by her youthful energy and her beautiful photography.

They're fun people and they're on a mission. I hope you'll join them.

About those goals

You may have already guessed I'm woefully behind on the weight-training goal. I was going to do a 10-minute workout once a week. Well, here we are in the third week and the only weight-training I've done is some heavy lifting of furniture – definitely not what I had in mind.

I told a friend I need an attitude adjustment about weight training. I know all the benefits, and I've even experienced some of them, in a previous life (the one where I was working out in a gym for two hours every day). Maybe I associate weight-training with the insanity of that time period in my life. It will take time, but I know I'll get over it. Someday.

To hit my 110 mile goal for February, I need to walk 4.3 miles every day for the rest of the month. I won't be able to work out tomorrow at all (will be out of town all day). I've been doing a five-miler every day I can get outside (it's amazing how easy it was to bump it up a mile per day – I don't think I did an outdoor five-miler even once in January), so as long as the weather holds I should be okay.

Just in case, though, I think I'm going to take two five-mile walks, either today or one day this weekend.

Just typing that makes me tired.

However, yesterday I had to walk early in the day  (5.02 in 88 minutes!)in order to get to the hairdresser on time (and yes, I'm going to let it grow a bit; my hairdresser promised to talk me out of cutting it for at least three months). Later in the afternoon, when the temperature was a balmy 55, I wanted to go again. Let's hope I can capture that feeling today.

This kind of weather makes you think spring really is on the horizon. The garden calendar says to plant peas outdoors today. Not sure I'm brave enough to do that. Winter hasn't yet gasped its last gasp, I'm quite sure of that!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not much time today …

Now that I have a laptop and highER speed internet (it's not truly high speed, but much better than dial-up), I'm spending more time web-surfing, not less, as I'd thought I might. It's just that there's so much more to look at!

I have a couple things on the agenda for today, including a long-delayed haircut right in the middle of the day. I'd rather walk earlier than later, so I'm heading out in a bit to get that done. It's chilly – I can still see frost on the grass – but not windy, as it was yesterday.

I took a picture of the wind yesterday and then a couple hours later saw the power of it when the clothesline blew down.

I'm kind of liking the way my hair looks two weeks after its original appointment to get chopped. Am thinking about maybe letting it grow longer again. We'll see. There's a point in the growing-out process where I know I'm just going to whack it all off again.

Mid-month goal check: 48 total miles (a little short of the goal), but slightly more than 60 minutes/day. I'll take it! Still no weight training. What is it about weight training that I'm so resistant to? Rhetorical question, no reply necessary. Sigh.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ever since the party …

my life has been pleasantly busy. It's kind of like the busy-ness of prepping for my mother-in-law's event, having my husband's son and family here, all the planning/list-making/shopping/cooking hasn't stopped, but the attendent stress has vanished. I'm doing something almost all the time, but there's no deadline.

Love it.

We had a great weekend here in the Middle of Nowhere. We got a call Saturday morning from friends who were traveling nearby, asking if we'd like to meet them for coffee mid-afternoon. Of course we would! And the number-one priority before we left was to get a workout in. I hopped on the elliptical while my husband did his errands, and then he worked out on the treadmill while I went to get milk at Elora's. By the time we did all that and took showers, it was time to hit the road.

The visit was lovely and much too short. Afterward, since my husband and I were more than halfway there, we went on to Sam's Club (I keep a running list of Things To Get At Sam's Club), and then to dinner. No cooking for me, happy early Valentine's day! Heh.

I took advantage of the slow cooker yesterday to roast a chicken for dinner, did laundry (and hung it out to dry – does anything smell as lovely as sun-dried linens?) and took a five-mile walk. In the sunshine. With my husband. He hasn't walked with me for months. He walked outdoors all summer while I was busy in the garden. When I started my walking plan again in October, he decided to go cut brush by our pond. I kind of missed listening to the latest audiobook (Cutting for Stone), but not too much. It was fun being outdoors in nice weather together.

(Aside: Cynthia suggested reading Born to Run, which I just finished, and Gingersnapper pointed to a blog post with tips on improving speed. Both sources recommend shortening your stride, which I've been doing. Not only am I moving more quickly, I'm less tired. Whether that's a result of the shortened stride or improved conditioning is hard to say, but at the end of a five-miler I feel like I could go farther.)

Seriously, though, yesterday was all about counting down the hours until the Grammys. Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger performed! And did I mention Bob Dylan? (If you don't already know this about me, I'm a huge Dylan fan, always have been. My first 45 rpm record was Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.)

I "watched" with my daughter – she and I were texting back-and-forth during the entire program, which was lots of fun. My granddaughter was astonished that Dylan is just 10 years older than I am. She said he looked at least 30 years older.

My husband watched some of it with me, but events like the Grammys bring out the age difference between us. He's eight years older than I am. I listen to and appreciate new tunes and performers; modern music just isn't his thing. He enjoyed the Dylan set (he sang Maggie's Farm with Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers), but left before Mick rocked the house.

The awards seemed incidental to the performances, many of which looked like Super Bowl halftime shows – lots of lights, pyrotechnics, Usher. Heh. Whenever someone came out to present a Grammy, I was like, 'Oh, yeah, this is an awards show.'

All in all, a great weekend. And the weather looks lovely for this week. Still below freezing at night a couple days, but we should actually see 60 degrees for the first time this year mid-week. Time to start thinking about starting seeds indoors.

I guess I should probably order some, eh?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Quote Day

You don't stop playing because you get old,
you get old because you stop playing.
~ George Bernard Shaw

In the book I'm "reading" (the Audible version of Born to Run), this quote is amended to read:

You don't stop running because you get old,
you get old because you stop running.

Does that mean if I start running again I'll get younger? Well, maybe.

I've been pretty lucky in my pursuit of running in that I've had very few injuries. I've had one painful bout with plantar fasciitis and I've purchased a couple different knee straps to wear when minor twinges show up. Not bad for five years of off-and-on running.

Older runners have done some remarkable things, and despite my husband's misgivings, I hope to be one. And I hope that being one will keep me active and healthy for the rest of my life, no matter how long that may be.

The biggest obstacle to my running is, of course, my weight. It stands to reason that if I weighed less, I could run more comfortably. And it also stands to reason that running could help me lose weight. It hasn't worked that way in the past, but I'm ever hopeful!

Today's quote is another way of saying what I've said many times before, in real life and on this and my old blog:

Keep on keepin' on.

It's the best way to accomplish anything.

P.S. I posted a couple of pumpkin photos on the Project 365 blog. It's the very last pumpkin from the garden, I promise. I love this pumpkin, it has the shape of a traditional Jack O'Lantern, but the skin of a butternut. I hope the seeds will produce more of the same, but there's no guarantee of that. Have a look!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sticking with it, no matter what

So, G.G. said something brilliant and worth repeating yesterday:

It’s not about how hard you can hit,
it’s about how hard you can get hit
(and keep moving forward).

Of course I had to Google to find out where the quote came from. It sounded familiar, I knew I'd heard it before, I recognized the inspirational quality of it. The older I get, the more relevant this thought, these words, are.

So who said it? Whoever wrote the script for Rocky Balboa. And that would be Sly, himself, Sylvester Stallone.

I loved the first Rocky movie, and apparently a lot of critics did, too, as it won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1976. The sequels were entertaining, but just didn't have the same inspirational quality (for me) as the first one did.

Or the last.

I was training for that very first half-marathon when Rocky Balboa was released, and I was the only person I knew who wanted to see it. So I went by myself. I don't know if watching the movie translated into stronger training sessions, but I kept a picture of Rocky on the refrigerator for about six months, from before I started training until the race was done.

I could use a little Rocky now. This is the time of year, both chronologically and mentally, when burrowing into a vat of sugar sounds like an excellent idea. Winter's still gasping its last gasp (let's hope it's the last!): weather advisories still flood the inbox, snow still coats the driveway, temperatures remain at or below freezing.

No matter how hard or how many times the weather or my mood or outside circumstances "hit" me, I've been able to keep moving. Yesterday morning was a particularly stressful one (for reasons I won't go into here), and all I had to look forward to in the afternoon was working out. It was cold – 25 degrees (which, I know, isn't cold if you're in Wisconsin or Canada or Iceland) – and my plan was to use the elliptical. I bought it just for days like yesterday.

But it wasn't windy, and I always feel better when I can walk outdoors. I bundled up and headed out for yet another five-miler. The time it took brought me up to the 60 minutes/day average (one of my goals for the month), and the effort was just what my mental state needed in order to survive the next blow.

Because there's always a next blow.

Food has been pretty good lately, and last night was exceptional. I've been hungry for quiche, so I made one with low-fat cheese, skim milk, lean ham, mushrooms and chopped beet greens. Alongside was the very last butternut from the garden. Hard to believe it lasted this long!

I served it "naked" – no brown sugar, no butter, no nuts, not even salt and pepper. Yum.

As for winter, I guess technically we have a few more weeks of it. Before my dad died last fall, my husband and I had planned to spend a couple months visiting him in Florida this year. Now that he's gone, neither of us feels like making the effort. (It's not that we're not worth it, it's just that we both think it would be hard to be there without him.) I'm spending a long weekend at the beach later this month, a gift from my son and his family. Late February might be the perfect time to go to the beach – I won't be required to wear a swimsuit, and I'll get lots of time outdoors.

Anyway, I'm rambling. I'd be on overtime by now if I were talking to a shrink! If you made it this far, send me a bill. Heh.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Coupla things, and more than a coupla links

Good morning! Go here to see what I saw not five minutes ago. Already the sun has diluted the drama! Elora, who has both a better view and a better lens than I, will probably post her version here later today. If she didn't get the shot, it's because she was in the milking shed and didn't see it! I know she would do a much better job than I did. But at least I got my daily photo posted. And I'm only on my second cup of coffee. Heh.

While I'm pointing you to interesting places, go here to see how one family is doing on a diet of a different kind than the one we usually talk about here. (Truly, I'd like to get out of "diet" mentality as far as food goes, and I'm well on my way. I love knowing that nothing is off limits.) The aforementioned Elora and her husband are on the Dollar Diet, by choice, most of the time, not even spending the $10 per week for milk and produce that the News & Observer blogger spends. (See aforementioned milking shed.)

I spent more money last month at the grocery than I have since, probably, July. I don't keep track, but I know once the garden started producing lots o' food, I didn't need to go food shopping. Even now, I could easily go on a Dollar Diet and not go hungry. The freezer is well-stocked with frozen greens, beans and squash, and the pantry looks beautiful with its many jars of tomatoes, jellies and pickles. But I'm enjoying bananas and clementines from the store, and I still need to buy other produce, especially onions, potatoes, carrots and celery.

After all the party preparation, I'm very tired of cooking, suddenly. We've eaten sandwiches and/or soup and sandwiches two nights in a row. Last year I had a menu plan with a general meal category for each night of the week – breakfast for dinner on Sunday, vegetarian on Wednesday, etc. Might be time to resurrect that idea. My enthusiasm and creativity for preparing the evening meal have vanished. I need a little push.

I didn't need a push on the elliptical yesterday. Seventy minutes! I'm digging into that deficit, and should be back on track with my goals by the weekend. I have about three hours remaining on the book I'm listening to, and I'm learning a lot about running, especially about running shoes. Some of what I'm learning follows my own experience.

For my first long race, the Country Music Half-Marathon in 2007, I bought a pair of "running" shoes at Dick's Sporting Goods. They were comfortable and, because I only trained in that pair for a month prior to the race, they were more than sturdy enough to carry me through 13.1 miles. (That race was my fastest at that distance; I've done three more long races much more slowly, in much more expensive shoes.)

Since then all my running shoes have been purchased from specialty running stores, either brick-and-mortar or online. They're much pricier than that pair from Dick's (which I'm still wearing to knock around in, by the way). Apparently studies have been done which show that the more your running footwear costs, the more likely you are to experience typical running injuries. Running shoemakers recommend replacing shoes every 300 to 500 miles – a good way to sell shoes – but doing so doesn't necessarily improve running performance.

I'm certainly not doing this topic justice. I highly recommend the book for a more in-depth explanation of how running shoes contribute to running injuries. This isn't to say that I'm going to become a barefoot running convert, but I might go back to that old pair of shoes again. They are completely devoid of cushioning and support, meaning my feet will have to do a little more work.

Or, in my case, a lot!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chocolate & Vicodin

What a great combo, eh?

Sorry for the second post du jour two days in a row. (I'm just trying to increase my blog hits, heh. Not really!)

My friend Jennette has written her second book and it's nearly ready for release. I pre-ordered it in November, and can't wait to read it, even though I don't suffer from constant, unrelenting headaches.

I bought her first book because we had something in common: We were both trying to lose weight. She was much more successful than I've been, but I don't hold that against her. I ordered her second book because I like the way she writes and because I want her to be successful. Not that my one little book order is going to tip the scale, but every purchase helps.

Anyhoo, she wrote on her blog today about the process of creating the book trailer for Chocolate & Vicodin. I will confess right here and right now that I've never watched a book trailer before. It never occurred to me to watch a video in order to convince myself I should read a book.

Jennette invited her readers to embed her trailer into their blogs, so I am. That's the beauty of high-speed internet – YouTube is a whole new world of time-sucking entertainment. I think the trailer is clever and creative and a good way to sell you on the idea of buying and reading her book.

Winding down

It's sooooo quiet around here.

My husband's grandsons, two-year-old triplet boys, filled the house with life and energy and laughter over the weekend. Their six-month-old sister giggled and smiled and is without a doubt the sunniest baby I've ever known.

Yesterday was a day of laundry and putting things back where they belong, so I was pretty busy. And I noticed the quiet, something I don't usually pay much attention to.

I'll admit there were times over the weekend when I looked forward to silence. Three toddlers can take a toll on an old lady if she's not used to it. But they were so much fun and now that they're gone, well, maybe it's just part of the general letdown after you've completed a big project.

Got out for another five-miler yesterday. It was a really nice day here. Today, however, the wind is whipping and the temperature has dropped a lot. I think I'll be good to myself and use the elliptical.

I need to pay closer attention to what I'm eating, too. I haven't logged any food since the 3rd of this month, and then I quit after breakfast. When I don't log, I don't eat very well. Food journaling, as both of you know, has been shown to be a predictor of weight-loss success. While I'm still not successfully losing weight, I'm also not gaining. I'd like to continue maintaining the status quo at the current calorie level (1700/day), and keeping a food diary really helps.

Lest you think I'm upset that I'm not losing, let me reassure you: I am thrilled to eat normal amounts of good, healthful food and maintain my current weight. Everything I've learned from Jeff and Russ has convinced me that I've done some damage to my metabolism, and that once I stop starving myself (by eating too few calories) I will slowly begin to lose. And if I don't, I don't. At least I'm not hungry all the time.

But I'm hungry right now! Time for breakfast. Sunday morning I made a huge pot of oatmeal with cinnamon, apples and dried cranberries and divided it into single servings. It should last all week. Here's hoping a healthful breakfast will get my eating back on track. The leftover cupcakes are going into the garbage. They were fun while they lasted, but you know what? If I want a cupcake in the future, I can make more.

Note to Elora: I have no idea what Chinese characters you saw on the blog. I took a look and didn't see anything. Doubt if it's anything to be alarmed about, and I hope it won't keep you away.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just out of curiosity ...

I totaled this month's activity minutes. Sixty per day would be, obviously, 420. I'm 38 minutes short, not bad considering that I ended up not walking or using the elliptical on Thursday or Saturday.

I'm not exactly where I need to be, but I'm within spittin' distance. Feels pretty good.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

The party's over …

No sad music from me, though! I was happy to plan it, happy to execute the plan and am now more than happy to get back to my other life. That party had a mind of its own.

My mother-in-law was very appreciative. Her niece, who is 72, asked if I would throw her a 90th birthday party. I reminded her that in 18 years I would be 78 – probably not up to the amount of effort it took to pull this off. But I did offer to take her to lunch. Heh.

As promised, here's the cupcake cake. The batter was baked in a small mixing bowl and then I carved the lower portion to make the whole thing look like a cupcake. I pressed the back of a knife into that portion of the frosting to make it look pleated.

And here's the table, which really was lovely, if I do say so myself.

All the out-of-towners left yesterday. I took a nice, long (five miles) walk and didn't do much else. Today will be a big push to put the house back together. (We moved and rearranged a lot in order to give our two-year-old triplet grandsons plenty of play space.) And there's a lot of laundry to catch up on. And another walk to take. I've missed two days so far this month, but it's early and I'm going to do my very best to make it up and meet my possibly overambitious mileage and time goals for February.

My husband and I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl together. I also enjoyed texting with my son-in-law in Tennessee (who used to live in Wisconsin), and following on Twitter before he and the Peas took the stage for the halftime show.

Technology is a beautiful thing. Heh.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nothing ...

beats a walk outside to reduce the stress level on Birthday Party Eve.

I'm so glad I don't do this for a living!

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Friday Quote Day

We cannot do everything at once,
but we can do something at once.
~ Calvin Coolidge

Today's quote is brought to you by the word "busy." Man, have I been busy.

The thing about party planning, unless you're a pro, is that you don't do it every day, and therefore you have to think-think-think and make lists-lists-lists and, if you're me, if you think about it and don't put it on a list (or do it right away), you're going to end up with no cream or sugar for the coffee.

I bet that didn't make a bit of sense, did it? Heh.

Yesterday was tough.

Yeah, baking cupcakes all day is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it, right? And since my husband is less-than-handy in the kitchen, it was up to me. These are Snickerdoodle cupcakes with penuche frosting. Martha's recipe called for seven-minute frosting dusted with cinnamon-sugar, but I couldn't have pulled that one off. I hope this is a good combination.

This is half of what we're serving to my mother-in-law's guests. The other cupcakes are carrot cake with cream-cheese frosting. They look just like these, except the frosting is white, so I didn't take another picture.

The carrot cake part is yummy. I baked some of the batter in a small metal mixing bowl and then carved it to look like a cupcake (and ate some of the trimmed-away part). I frosted the lower portion with the penuche and the curved top with cream cheese frosting, and topped it with one candle, because 90 wouldn't fit. I'll get a picture of it tomorrow. It looks a little "homemade-with-love," but I think it'll be fine.

I missed working out yesterday, but there literally was no time. How do those of you with jobs manage?!?!? Although, come to think about it, I used to have a job and I worked out at the gym a couple hours a day. I didn't work in a cupcake factory, though, that must be the difference. Sitting on my ass in front of a computer, which is what I used to do as a graphic designer, is more conducive to doing something physical after work than slaving in a hot kitchen all day.

[An aside: Back in the olden days of graphic design, we actually did a lot of standing. Prior to computer-aided design and desktop publishing, sheets of type had to be trimmed and pasted, lines had to be drawn by hand with ink, overlays had to be created and fitted. All of this was done – standing – at a drawing board, cutting mat and wax machine. Aha! A contributing factor to the obesity epidemic everyone else has overlooked!]

So. Back to the Friday quote. This week has been a steady progression of doing something at once, leading up to the Big Event tomorrow afternoon – my mother-in-law's 90th birthday celebration. Some guests are coming from out of state, including my husband's son and his family, which will add six to our household for the weekend. We can't wait to see the children again. Oh, and their parents, too. Heh.

When everyone has gone home and life settles back down, my workouts will have to ramp up to make up for the lost time from yesterday's no-show. I'm already thinking my February goals were a little over-optimistic. But I might be able to sneak one in today. You know, since the cupcakes are done!

My friend Elora frequently ends her posts with a sunset shot. I recently complained to her that her view is so much better than mine (and it is!). But I couldn't help snagging this shot a couple evenings ago. It reminds me that on Sunday evening, all the hoopla will be over here in the Middle of Nowhere, and will be starting in Dallas. The Packers and Steelers can go at it while we kick back, relax and … eat cupcakes!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I keep meaning to ask …

are any of you watching the new show on NBC called Harry's Law?

I don't watch much 'regular' television. When my husband worked out of town I had a few faves I'd never miss (Biggest Loser, Nip/Tuck), and I love live sports (that's my reality TV), but now that he's retired and taken control of the remote, we watch a lot of MSNBC.

A. Lot.

He's a left-leaning news junkie, and MSNBC meets his needs. It meets mine, too, mostly as non-annoying background noise to accompany my knitting. Heh.

Anyway, back to Harry. My husband was intrigued by the teaser commercials prior to the premier January 16. We decided to give it a try. I was visiting my daughter in Tennessee then, and got to watch it at 9 p.m. Love the Central time zone!

I liked it a lot, he was so-so about it, but gave it another chance. We've watched all three episodes now, and are enjoying the quirky characters and interesting story lines very much. It's not real; you have to have a willing suspension of disbelief. I mean, what law office have you ever been in that also sells ladies' footwear?  

Harry is Harriet (played by Kathy Bates), a former patent lawyer who strikes out on her own. Her mostly silent assistant (who speaks volumes with her facial expressions!) is played by Brittany Snow, who was the lead in the short-lived and much-loved American Dreams.

All in all, I give it a 9 out of 10. The music is good but you can't really dance to it. But you can knit to it just fine! And that's what I need in good television programming.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January wrap-up, February goals

Although I'm verrrrry tempted to forego the goal setting this month, I see the value in it and I'm OCD enough that I don't want to quit doing it so soon. Setting goals doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to achieve them, but it does seem to provide a bit of a push to keep on keepin' on.

And I'm all about keepin' on, as both of you longtime readers know.

One of my long-term goals was to eat from the USDA pyramid. I have done that pretty well. I think I exceeded my calorie goal only one day in January. (The other long-term goal is to run a full marathon this year, and, um, let's just say I'm still not ready for that.)

I had a couple of monthly goals, neither of which I fully achieved.

I thought one of my monthly goals was to do at least 60 minutes of intentional daily activity, but I don't see that in the post where I declared my goals for January. But since I went all month thinking that was one, I'm happy to say I achieved it. Not technically, as there were two days in January where I didn't do a damned thing intentional except sit on my ass. But I logged 33 hours and 40 minutes of exercise last month, which averages more than an hour a day. Yeah, me!

I missed my mileage goal (120 was the target) by many, but I still put in 98.8 – 30 more than December. The outdoor/elliptical split was 62.48/36.32. The elliptical doesn't actually count miles, but it has a little track on it and I can complete a revolution of the track in 9:15-ish. So to estimate elliptical miles, I divided total elliptical minutes by an 18:30 pace and came up with 36 miles of going nowhere.

And I'm sad to say I totally missed the weight-lifting goal. I only said I'd do it twice a week. True confession: I only did it Once. The. Entire. Month. I'm such a whiny baby about strength training. I ripped a 10-minute routine from a fitness magazine and put it in the workout room where I can't miss it. It's one of those routines where you do half a dozen moves that use two sets of muscles at a time. I hesitate to set a goal of doing them even once in February, since I couldn't manage twice-weekly sessions in January. But here goes: Once a week I will knock out a 10-minute strength training workout. That'll be 10 minutes more than the single session I did last month. I'm already feeling the pressure, the pressure!

For February, I think 110 miles is a reasonable distance goal. Better weather (one can hope) should mean more outdoor walking and maybe even a return to outdoor jogging. (I hesitate to call my accelerated perambulation "running.") And it just makes sense to continue the very achievable average of 60 minutes/day intentional activity goal. I don't have a problem with missing a couple days and making it up elsewhere during the month.

The non-fitness goal – resurrecting Project 365 – has gone pretty well. I've posted a photo for each day, but some of them have not been taken with the Rebel. However, I think the BlackBerry camera does a pretty good job. And now that there's a new camera in the family (the onboard on the MacBook) that does some pretty fun stuff, I might be using it once in a while.

I've posted a couple pictures there today that ask an important question: What's happened to our crackers? I invite you to have a look.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A new toy

I've heard you're supposed to have more fruit, so I got a new apple. Heh.
Well, I didn't have time to add up the January numbers yesterday. UPS came earlier than I'd expected, and I found myself taking time away from party preparations to sneak over and play with my new laptop! There was no time for math.

I'd been wanting one of those baby laptops for a long time, just because. I'm a techno-freak, a gadget girl, and a longtime Apple Mac user. Those commercials for the MacBook Air had me lusting for one of the sleek little machines.

Of course, I couldn't afford one, and I really didn't need one, so I just tucked the thought away for, you know, someday.

And then someone wanted to do something nice for me (I don't want to share the details here). After a couple of back-and-forth e-mails and phone calls … UPS showed up with a very light package and here we are, laptopping away.

Since it's a Mac, there's not much to learn – it's very user-friendly and nearly all my computer experience has been on Macs. The one thing I find myself doing is trying to capitalize letters the same way I do on the BlackBerry – by holding the key down a little longer. And I hit the trackpad instead of the space bar. I'm sure I'll get used to it soon enough.

Party prep is moving along. I did the messy stuff yesterday – frosting. The mixing corner of my kitchen was covered with a thin film of powdered sugar. But, since it's done, now I can clean the kitchen! I haven't created a schedule yet, that probably wouldn't be a bad idea. I have a list, but a timeline would really help me get through this week with some sanity intact.

It would be nice to appear somewhat sane when we greet our guests Saturday afternoon – five days from now, but who's counting?