Sunday, March 31, 2013

When last we met ...

I was debating whether to walk two miles, to make 20 for this week, or five miles, to make 100 for this month.

One option not on the table yesterday was to walk zero miles today, and let the mileage chips fall where they may.

Well, let me just say that option's not only on the table, it's the final answer.

When I was mulling this over yesterday I was all you-go-girl and you-can-do-it and hell-YES-I want a hundred miles in March.

Today, after the cooking and the cleaning and the eating and the cleaning up and the rain and the wind (I hadn't even considered it might be windy but it IS!), well, a 95-mile March looks pretty darned good.

Instead of adding more miles to the log, I think I'll add a nap to the schedule.

'Night. And I hope your Easter was just lovely.

March 31 - Stuff

I'd rather take a photo of this wall o'stuff (books, mostly) than take a photo
of my stuffed belly after Easter dinner. Oh, do I ever need to clean some STUFF!

Happy Easter!

My favorite Easter card:

'Tis a rainy morning here, pouring right now. Good thing I have a dinner to fix, right? Can't be debating about whether to walk or cook when Mother Nature intervenes. Perhaps later. The mileage is still to be determined.

Have a lovely day.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


So tomorrow is Easter and we're having dinner here and I'm cooking it. And cleaning both before and after the cooking, since I walked this afternoon and wiped myself OUT.

I was just checking my monthly and yearly mileage and discovered that if I walk five miles – JUST five, not impossible at all – I'll have logged a hundred for March.

I was planning to do two tomorrow, in the afternoon, after the dishwasher was loaded and company had gone home.

I'm sure I'll be tired after cooking and cleaning and entertaining. But the OCD part of me would LOVE to hit 100 miles.

Such a dilemma ...

I hope you have a happy Easter. Results will be posted tomorrow evening.

March 30 - Relax

My view from the couch. True confession: Photo was taken yesterday because, hello!
Easter is tomorrow and we're hosting dinner and there will be no relaxing today. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

March 29 - Goodnight

Excuse me? Why are you waking me up with the click
of that camera shutter? I was sleeping soooo soundly.

Lenten FAIL

The two things I said I'd attempt to do for Lent have both fallen by the wayside. The note-a-day exercise generated exactly two notes, neither of which was handwritten or mailed. (One was an e-mail and one was a text message. Viva la geek!)

The major house purge hasn't happened at all. I might work on the garage today. It would be a shame not to at least make an effort on the decluttering project at all, and it's supposed to be sunny with a high near 60 today – perfect garage-cleaning weather.

Perfect walking weather, too, so that's part of the plan du jour, as well. I am SO, SO grateful for perfect walking weather. Just sayin'.

I walked with my friend yesterday and was a teeny bit underdressed. The wind always attacks us for the first three-quarters of a mile, after which the road is more protected. My only outer garment was a hooded windbreaker. With long sleeves that worked pretty well as handwarmers.

News flash: I SURVIVED. Happily, as a matter of fact, and I'm eager to go again today. Despite two days off this week, I think I can still get a 20-mile week in. We're supposed to have rain on Easter, but the weather people have been wrong before.

And I've walked in the rain before.

When my husband and I talked about divesting ourselves of stuff as a Lenten project, we thought it would be a good idea to trick ourselves by pretending we're moving. That's a surefire way to clear out unnecessary junk, right? I'm beginning to think it will only work if we really move. We have a place picked out, and we talk about it all the time. It will be a while before we can make it happen.

But we will make it happen.

Right now I'm a smidge more comfortable staying put than I am moving. Once the balance tips in the other direction (maybe in early fall when the novelty of mowing three acres of grass has worn off), I think I'll work a little harder at it.

If you could live anywhere other than in your current home, where would you be? Are you working toward that goal?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 28 - In the mirror

The steeple of the church where I park when I walk on Indian Creek Road.
Seemed appropriate for almost-Easter weekend. And look at that blue sky!

Remember what I wrote ...

on Tuesday?

Look, look! Blue sky! 

And sunshine!

I predict a good day. Film at eleven.

Today's the day

I'll be back on track this afternoon, with a date for an outdoor walk. It should be somewhat warmish (low 40s) by 2 p.m., so we're outta here!

I walked around Tiny Kroger yesterday (alas, no other intentional activity), and was kind of astonished at how busy it was. Also? I was kind of glad to be out of the house. That short trip did as much good for my mind as it did for my pantry.

And the vegetable drawer, which now overfloweth! I still have some eating issues with firm foods, but woman cannot live on soup alone. I bought cauliflower to roast and broccoli to steam and a bright red pepper to add to something. I should have bought sweet potatoes; I didn't know the ones I had on hand were well past their prime. I also bought fresh organic spinach for my smoothies and a bunch of fresh cilantro just because. I can afford to throw away 65¢ worth of cilantro if I don't use it, as long as buying it means Tiny Kroger will keep stocking it.

In fact, if they keep stocking it, I might begin referring to them as Medium Kroger.

Somewhere in the meat department I realized Easter is this Sunday. (All the treats I made have been received, so in my mind Easter is done and dusted.) All those people in the grocery were stocking up for Easter. I added a pork tenderloin to my cart in case we decide to have a nicer-than-normal Sunday dinner.

I'm hopeful that today's walk will get me out of my doldrums and over this slump. I'm not doing myself any favors by being so sluggish after that good weigh-in Monday. I'm doing fine with the calories, not so fine with the macronutrient percentages. Carbs are still my major food group, but at least they are mostly vegetable and fruit carbs and not the starchy, sugary kind.

I'm also hopeful that yesterday marked the end of really cold temperatures. Forty is not really cold, just kind of cold. I'm ready for kind of cold. DID YOU HEAR THAT, MOTHER NATURE?

March 27 - Pair

This is the second of a pair of photos I took of pairs of glasses.
As almost always happens, I like the second (or third or tenth) shot better.
(Here's the first shot.)

March 26 - Something you did

Multitasked! Worked out and watched a recorded episode of Real Time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Alrighty then

Channeling Ace Ventura, here, with an 'alrighty then' to begin the day. Because what else is there to say when you wake up, open the door to let the dog out and see the front porch covered with snow. Again. Or still. Although I think it melted yesterday afternoon. I was probably on the couch playing solitaire on my phone when that happened.

I kept my date with the elliptical yesterday, entertained by a Real Time with Bill Maher episode from a couple weeks ago. The best line was at the end, and worth waiting for. He reeled off a line-up of speakers at this year's CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) – Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Wayne LaPierre, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin – followed by the kicker: "A virtual who's who of what the fuck."

I laughed out loud. Or LOLd.

I also had a short-and-sweet date with the dumbbells. Yay, me!

How else can I bore you? I did laundry yesterday. My laundry room is in my detached garage, so I had to go OUTSIDE where it was COLD and WINDY. THREE TIMES!

I still haven't made it to the market. We're making things up in Ye Olde Middle of Nowhere Kitchen, using what's on hand and hoping for the best. And it hasn't been bad, actually. We're not starving, anyway, but I'm out of onions and it's very hard for me to cook without onions.

I wish I had an epic walk to write about, or some deep, insightful thoughts to share about body image or goal-setting or staying focused. I feel like I'm phoning it in – uninspired, unenthused, unexcited. Perhaps driving home in Sunday's snow was enough excitement for the week. Every day can't be a thrill a minute. Right? Right.

Alrighty then. Enough said.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The sun will come out …

day after tomorrow.

Somehow that's not quite as smooth a lyric as the Annie version.

In the meantime it's snowing. Again. I didn't work out yesterday. In fact I didn't get out of my pajamas yesterday. I had no place to be and no reason to get dressed, so I, um, didn't. Probably not good for my mental health. Nothing says "slug" like spending the day in your pajamas.

And so today I will GET MOVING. An elliptical workout is on the agenda, as well as an upper-body weight-training session. Nothing heavy or dramatic. Laundry is on the agenda, too. I live such an exciting life.

I start work at the garden center a week from tomorrow, two mornings a week. I love opening up. The routine is to make sure the opening cash matches the closing from the previous day and then water the plants, which takes about three hours. You get to look at every single plant and tree and shrub and seedling. You see what's new, interesting and unusual. It's too early for vegetable plants, and I don't have much more room for flowers, but I'm sure something will be coming home with me.

Before I get my garden planted – and it might be May before that happens – I need to get new electrical fence tape. The neighborhood deer have moved right in to my yard. Hershey chased eight of them off the lawn yesterday morning, and I shooed half a dozen into the woods this morning.

And that's about it from the Middle of Nowhere. When nothing happens on Monday, there's not much to write about on Tuesday. So why did I write at all, you may ask? NaBloPoMo. And, obviously, the downfall of NaBloPoMo is that sometimes you have to read the most boring drivel. If you made it this far, I thank you.

And I wish you a freaking EXCITING day!

Monday, March 25, 2013

If it's Monday, it must be winter again

Or something like that.

I'm not sure why the National Weather Service calls it a "Winter Storm Warning" when it's spring, but they do. The daffodils are bent under a couple inches of snow, with more to come. The warning ends at 2 p.m. tomorrow. Our road has been plowed, though, and my tires are good, so I might try to get to the grocery today.

DID YOU MISS ME? I enjoyed my little break from writing, but I also missed my routine of getting up to a silent, dark house and having a couple hours to myself. My granddaughter is an early riser and LOVES having a grandma to play with first thing in the morning.

TJ's in Cary, NC
We packed a lot of activity into basically a Saturday. Nothing got canceled due to rain, as we'd feared, and we even made a trip to Trader Joe's, which was definitely one highlight among many. I would seriously buy all my groceries at a Trader Joe's if there were one within a reasonable driving distance from the Middle of Nowhere. Alas, I don't think West Virginians are their target demographic.

The drive home took two hours longer than it should have because of the snow. I had to change my route from I-77 north to a less-traveled, more mountainous state road in Virginia because of a rockslide which had closed the interstate. I pulled over once to gather my wits and take a picture from the side of the road as I prepared to descend a very long hill.

Fortunately the snowy part didn't last long and by the time I got into West Virginia it wasn't so bad. I have to climb quite a steep hill to get to my driveway, but it wasn't snow-covered at 5 p.m. It probably was at 5 a.m.!

And finally, if it's Monday it must be weigh-in day. I really overdid it yesterday. Let's just say I'm a stress eater, and that drive was Stress with a capital S. If I did any damage, it will show up next week. ALTHOUGH ... I was well under the calorie budget for the week. But I thought about skipping the date with the scale this morning. How many Mondays have I woken up feeling like I'd made some progress, only to be disappointed?

I'm glad I didn't. I lost two pounds this week, for a total of nine pounds since December 26 – an average of .69 pounds per week, if you want to get all geeky about it.

And I do.

March 25 - In your drawer

This might be my favorite drawer in the house, filled with a variety of
Weck canning jars (which I use for leftovers and storage, not for canning).

March 24 - Up

At the Virginia Welcome Center, leaving North Carolina. Before it started snowing.

March 23 - What you do for fun

I, um, knit. This looks really messy but it's the beginning of three little bunnies.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Edited to add …

Jen mentioned using a foam roller, and I also got that advice from another running friend. Foam rollers clearly are the massage weapon of choice. I poked around my house looking for something suitable until I could find one to buy (I want to try out how hard/soft it is), when I found this:

A rather innovative rolling pin, don't you think?
The long side (the one I use) is 4.25 inches wide.
And you know what? I don't think I'm going to even look for one. I can apply this to specific areas where it really hurts and it seems to be helping. I think the rest will do me good, too.

It pays to have a well-stocked kitchen gadget drawer. Just sayin'.

March 22 - About me

If you dig hard enough and read long enough, you can find out
everything you ever wanted to know about me, here or on my old blog.

A necessary break

I'm headed out of town today, to deliver some of those Easter crafty goodies to my younger granddaughter. Not sure if I'll be walking over the weekend and also not in charge of food. This could stall my progress even more.


I have developed what I think is IT Band Syndrome, and resting might end up being a good thing. I've been stretching and massaging, but I've still been walking and by the end of almost any distance I'm nearly at the limping stage. (The site of my pain is not at the knee, which is typical, but at the upper end of the iliotibial band. So I could be wrong about my diagnosis, but I don't think so.)

We woke up to snow and absolutely f-f-frigid temperatures yesterday. The meeting I had prepared for was canceled. Kind of ironic to postpone a meeting due to weather on the first day of spring, but there you go. I didn't leave the house at all and, in fact, took a long, long nap. I wasn't exactly sick, but I also didn't feel well. This has been a short activity week, with total mileage standing at 14. Not my lowest mileage for a week since the first of the year, but almost.

I feel like one of those people who starts the year off with a bang and three months later is phoning it in. The timing for this trip combined with an overuse injury makes me feel oh-so-typical. With the potential for four consecutive days of not walking, I'll be ready for a fresh start next Monday.

(There is a chance that my daughter-in-law and I will walk Saturday and Sunday mornings, but I haven't talked with her about it yet. If so, this post will be null and void. Heh.)

I've been thinking arthritis was settling in my right hip (and it may be). But when the pain progressed down the outside of my leg to my knee, and when stairs and getting in and out of the car became more problematic, I decided to consult with Dr. Google.

So nice to know it's probably not an AGE thing, but an ATHLETE thing!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 21 - Working

Our coffeemaker works 24/7 sometimes. That's 7:19 PM, not AM.

Super-easy, super-cute Easter cookies

I know, I know, I'm dieting. Well just because I'm not eating cookies doesn't mean I can't make them, right? I'm hosting a bring-your-own-lunch meeting at my house today, and as the hostess I think it's just plain nice to offer something to drink and something sweet. To that end, we'll have plenty of hot and iced tea, coffee, water and, well, cookies.

I've had an egg-shaped cookie cutter in my collection for years, but have never used it. Seeing as how it's spring and Easter is coming up and I'm on an Easter crafty kick anyway, I rinsed it off and put it to work.

Any sugar cookie recipe will work. I roll my chilled dough between sheets of parchment paper with a marble rolling pin. You don't want the dough to get too warm or it will break apart when you lift the shapes onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.

First bake your cookies and let them cool thoroughly. Then whip up a confectioner's glaze. I added a teaspoon of vanilla to two cups of sifted powdered sugar and then whisked in evaporated milk (you could use cream), a little at a time, until the mixture was the consistency of thick paint.

Divide the glaze into as many bowls as you want colors. A little bit goes a long way. I made yellow, pink, blue and purple, but I had enough glaze that I could have done more colors. Then dump some coordinating colored sugar or sprinkles into shallow bowls.

Working with one cookie at a time, dip a pastry brush into the glaze and coat the top of a cookie, all the way to the edge. Then dip and roll the edge of the cookie into the colored sugar/sprinkles. Carefully lay the cookie on a rack or waxed paper to dry.

What if your cookies have angles – stars or Christmas trees, for instance? Let the glaze dry thoroughly, then paint a border of light corn syrup around the cookie. Sprinkle the decorative element over the cookie with a spoon and tap off the excess. Let dry before serving.

Cookies will be ready to display and eat in a couple of hours. I arranged mine on a tray covered with shredded purple copy paper, since I was fresh out of Easter grass. My husband tested one and pronounced them delicious.

I pronounce them … cute!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 20 - Clean

My husband gets all the credit for the shiny, clean table top. It's his job to dust.

Ain't it grand the wind stopped blowin'?

Since last summer's derecho, any time the wind picks up around here we get a little, um, nervous. Yesterday afternoon the wind blew steadily from the west at 25 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph. The wind continued to blow as I was driving to my volunteer gig at the prison last night. I saw a couple of uprooted trees as well as many, many branches and fallen limbs littering the roadway.

And when I got to the prison to sign in, I learned that the lieutenant warden had closed the compound.

Alderson FPC is more campus-like than prison-like. There are four large residential buildings and a recreation facility in one area, the education building is down a hill, the administration building is at the far end of the property and the dining hall is next to it. The visitor's center, where my activity takes place on Tuesday evenings, is a pretty good hike from the residential halls. In other words, the inmates do a lot of walking to get from place to place. And there are a lot of trees on the compound. No sense in risking any injuries.

I was sorry to miss the meeting, but understand perfectly why they were on lockdown. I just wish there were some way to notify volunteers before making a 25-mile trip, only to have to turn around and go home. Sigh. That might be more than the federal government can handle.

A toy donkey seems appropriate, yes?
I have a lot to handle today, since tomorrow my house will be filled with Democratic women for lunch and bunny assembly. I still have a couple pairs of ears to knit and I'm going to raid my stash for suitable yarn to make more toys. I printed a variety of free toy patterns for future use yesterday. (Ravelry is a wonderful resource, if you haven't joined and you love to knit and/or crochet, you really should sign up.) I should probably clean, too, right?

And walk. There's always time for a walk. Yesterday's was indoors on the elliptical, but today's will be outside, early this afternoon, with two friends. We only have time for four miles, though.

We're all pretty busy lately.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 19 - A sign

of spring!

I'm a geek and I know it

One of the things I love about working out and working on fitness and health in the 21st century is the abundance of technological help available. It's especially good for someone like me, who lives far from the madding crowd. Or the stinky gym locker room. Whatever.

LoseIt!'s summary for last week. Some days are better than
others, and I do have a tough time eating more than this.
I get weekly wrap-ups from LoseIt! and dailymile and it's encouraging to see those seven-day totals all in one nice, neat little graphic. It's discouraging to step on the scale and see an unexpected result, but after 12 weeks of recording every calorie in and out, I guess it's time to stop expecting anything like a normal response from my body.

As I study the LoseIt! graphic, I wonder if I'm doing it wrong. I don't think I am. The final column should be as close to zero as possible, right? I realize I'm far below that on most days, but on the days I come close I really feel as though I've eaten too much. At my age, I don't need the same number of calories a 40- or 30-year-old needs. I'm assuming LoseIt! factors age into its recommendations.

I tried out the BMR calculator at using my height, current weight, goal weight and four different ages, and the suggested calorie target is lower for each decade.
62 years old, which is what I'll be on May 25. And don't you forget it! Heh.
The suggestion at the sedentary level is in the ballpark with LoseIt!'s recommendation. I would put myself in the Moderately Active level. I exercise six or seven days a week, but I wouldn't call it hard.
32-year-old female.
If I were 32, I could add another couple hundred calories per day and still lose weight, according to the calculator. I can guarantee I wasn't eating this much when I was 32. Thirty years ago we followed the guidelines in popular women's magazines that told us to eat 1200 calories a week, and offered menu plans with exciting lunches like "green salad topped with two ounces of tuna drained of oil." Okay, I'm making the lunch part up, but you get the idea.

At 42 (above, left) I would need to cut about a hundred calories a day, and at 52 (above, right) another hundred. (You can click on those tiny charts and they'll get bigger. I think.)

The chart I love getting every week is from dailymile:

And the lifetime wrap-up on the website is even better.

Just think if you'd started keeping these stats when you were running track in high school, and could look back and see how far around the world you've come when you hit your 60s. Ah, but no regrets for me. I'm just happy to be able to put one foot in front of the other on a daily basis. I'm not quite ready to sit down yet.

I'm not geeky enough to create my own spreadsheets in Excel, mostly because I think Excel is evil. I've been known to use spreadsheets in the past, however. The kind where you use graph paper and a pencil to record your progress. Because that's all we had, back in the day. You young whippersnappers probably don't know what graph paper is. Now take your ball and get off my lawn!

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18 - Shoes

The latest addition to my shoe wardrobe, which at present consists entirely
of tennis shoes and clogs. Blame Zappo's for these cute new flats.

Some things change

My weight, apparently, is not one of them. At least not this week. Hope springeth eternal, and I shall keep on keepin' on because, really? What choice do I have? Besides, I tried the jeans on again and I actually could wear them out of the house. Not comfortably, but at least I could zip them without a major effort.

In order to incorporate the Irish feast into yesterday's caloric parameters, I had to hearken back to my youth and eat like a kid again.

On special Sundays when I was little, our family would have a light breakfast, go to church, drive about an hour to my grandparents' house and have a large mid-afternoon meal. We usually saved dessert for "later," after Daddy and Grandpa had napped and Mom and Grandma had cleaned the kitchen. We got home after dark and went straight to bed, without supper but certainly not hungry. And we didn't think we needed to eat again just because we'd skipped a meal.

So I punched all the numbers into LoseIt! and our mid-afternoon meal, with dessert (which we ate later), came out to 861 calories. Coupled with a modest breakfast and a three-mile walk I ended up WELL under budget, and not hungry at all.

I predict a loss for next week, even factoring in that I'll be gone over the weekend and not making my own meals. Like I said in the first paragraph, hope springeth eternal. Heh.

The Easter projects are nearly done. I had some leftover egg-shaped pieces of scrapbook paper from the banners, and decided to use them on the inside of the cards. A cute way to present a little money treat, don't you think?

Thanks for all your encouragement, it means so much to me. I'm finding myself thinking all weight loss, all the time, and it gets to be a heavy load after a while. I'd love for it to be more about health and fitness and less about pounds lost, but that takes a little more mental fortitude than I can muster right now. You guys are great cheerleaders when this quarterback is looking for a receiver to throw to and has to scramble for the line instead.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17 - Green

Chives, growing indoors for now but soon to go back outside! Yay, spring!

Mother Nature is conspiring against me

Well, she IS!

The forecast is for rain and rain and rain, today and tomorrow and maybe even Tuesday. Not only will the rivers rise, wreaking havoc on the garden center … again … but this kind of steady rain rarely offers a window of opportunity to get outside to walk.

Days like this are exactly why I have an elliptical.

I'll have to check today's movies to see what might keep me going for more than an hour. (Speaking of movies, I saw the very entertaining Oz the Great and Powerful yesterday at the theatre and my husband and I watched The Help [again] on television last night. I'm definitely in a movie mood.)

Enough of that. Happy St. Patrick's Day! My family is German, Irish and Welsh, and my husband's is Scottish, so we've got plenty of blarney to go around here. I'm making a traditional Irish feast today, carbs be damned. I've never made Irish soda bread before; I'm using Jenna's recipe for my first attempt. And we're even having dessert.

But, wait! This isn't a food-porn blog, it's a … knitting blog! Heh.

I've been working on a square – that's right, just a square – which will be sewn and stuffed to make a bunny. I can't remember when I began knitting it, but it's been more than a week. FOR A SQUARE! And then last night I finished it off and started and finished a second one, all while watching The Help. Not sure where that knitting mojo came from, but I'm glad it did. My Democratic women's group meets this Thursday, and I'm hoping we complete an armload of bunnies to donate to the sheriff's department, who will then take them on domestic violence calls for any children involved. In order to complete them, however, we need squares.

It's also a reaping (gardening) blog, from spring through fall, and spring arrives this week. My seeds have been ordered and I have a neighbor with a load of sawdust-and-manure ready to spread on the garden, if it ever dries up enough to do that. I still need to buy electric fence tape. The very bold deer have been grazing on the lawn like cattle this winter, and the thin wire I've been using didn't keep them out of the crops last year. The garlic has started coming up and I expect to see horseradish soon.

Even though the first day of spring isn't until Wednesday, today – St. Patrick's Day – has always seemed like the first day to me. So, kiss me, I'm Irish, and go plant a potato!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16 - 9 o'clock

Not very often we see morning rainbows in this part of the country.

Back in December …

I wrote these words:

Rational, matter of fact, steady … that's the goal.

I'd like to report that, for the most part, that's how life has been for the past almost-three months. But in reality, I am not rational, I am not matter-of-fact and I am not steady. I'm not meeting that goal. And both of you are my witnesses.

I'm doing what I've always done (and we know where that leads, don't we?) – focusing on food, being grimly determined, experiencing wide mood swings, having high expectations which lead to falling off a cliff.

My recent thoughts about tweaking the macros is – for ME – a bit problematic, in that I'm now analyzing every bite of food that goes into my body. This behavior has never been good for me. It might work for you, and it certainly works for competitive bodybuilders and elite athletes.

But for me? Not so much. I just want to live a normal-for-me life eating healthful meals, cooked from scratch in my own kitchen. I want to take long walks in the country and feel like I've exerted myself at the end of the day.

I know I sound like a little kid – I don't wanna keep track of carbs! – but there it is. I want calories to count, just as they always have. I want to throw those numbers into LoseIt! and be done with it.

The reality may be that I've developed metabolic syndrome and perhaps do, indeed, need to pay more attention to carbs and protein. But. I. Don't. Want. To. (The blood screen panel I had done in November was quite normal in all respects, including cholesterol and glucose, the two which generally indicate metabolic syndrome.)

It looks like five-year-old Debbi has taken over today's blog. Perhaps the old gal will be back tomorrow. For now, it's Saturday. Time to play.

I started playing yesterday, finishing one of the Easter banners and seven cards, one for each grandchild. The banner will look very cool strung across a mantel or a wide doorway, neither of which I have in my house. So you get to see it strung across the kitchen cabinets. Heh. There will be more of this nonsense going on today, as well as a walk between the raindrops and a movie date this afternoon. I think playing will be the order of the day.

These Easter cards couldn't be easier to make. Cut an egg
shape from a folded piece of card stock, decorate with strips
of washi tape and personalize each with a chipboard initial.
Three-dimensional egg shapes glued to book pages. I didn't cut up a book,
though, I copied a page onto fancy paper and cut the pennant shape from it.

Tight close-up: Each egg is made of three identical pieces, folded and
glued to create the dimensional element. Happy Easter!

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 15 - Explore

Beware the Ides of March – and getting sucked into the black hole of Ravelry.

Keeping up with the times

So a friend mentioned yesterday on Facebook that Google Reader was going away.

For those who might not know, Reader is an aggregator that lines up unread posts from your favorite blogs, all in one handy-dandy place. It's simple, efficient and effective.

iGoogle, Google's home page, also is going away. It was equally handy, putting several modules of information all in one place and ready to read as soon as I launched my browser.

I'm trying out feedly, which has made it super-easy to migrate from Reader to their product as long as you log in with your Google account AND as long as you do it before Reader goes away. It's working well, but I wish I could change it so older entries are at the top of the list. That's my only beef so far.

As for iGoogle, the module I used most was … Reader. So I'm learning to do without. I had a stock-checker on there, and a weather widget, and top stories from the NYTimes, all of which are also apped on my phone. And I tend to have the phone with me all. the. time. Especially if you ask my husband. Heh.

Change sucks, but as changes go, this one has been just fine, so far.

Coffee soap. Um, yum!
So let's talk about soap! (How's that for a segue? Hmm, not so great. I agree.) My first crafty project yesterday was the simplest melt-and-pour creation but it looks pretty cool and it smells delicious. I used goat's milk soap base, added a hit of cinnamon and a half cup of used, dried coffee grounds, along with some amaretto-scented essential oil. My husband wants to EAT them! Coffee soap is supposed to remove kitchen odors, plus it just looks cool. I love the idea of homemade soap more than I love the multiple oils-plus-lye-plus-add-in process, so this was the perfect project to get my better day started.

I then got started on the garden center's newsletter and by the time I finished that I was ready to work out. The cold and wind kept me indoors on the elliptical. An hour later I was gathering supplies for a couple of Easter banner decorations, which WILL BE MAILED ON TIME to a couple sets of grandchildren.

I fiddled around with the food yesterday and made some improvements, but when the carbs go down, the fats go up. I need to focus more on how I can increase protein rather than how I can reduce carbs.

Perhaps I should go boil some eggs.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 14 - Tasty

Nothing but peanuts, which makes it much lower in carbs than commercially
prepared peanut butter. You didn't think I was going to bake a pie, did you?

Mmmm. Pi(e).

It's 3/14, y'all! Happy Pi Day! You math geeks know what I'm talkin' about. The rest of us can go make pate brisee. Heh.

So, it's snowing. Again. Or still. I took yesterday off to do a little retail therapy after my morning meltdown and got caught in a whiteout at the Target in Christiansburg! The sun was back out by the time I headed home, although it was still too cold to walk. This overnight snow should melt by this afternoon and I can get back on track again.

I have a couple of projects to work on – Easter banners for the grandchildren, super-simple odor-removing coffee soap (to which I am going to add some cinnamon, I think) and Groundworks Nursery's newsletter. I was supposed to work in the Groundworks greenhouse this morning, but I'm a little nervous about getting down my hill and then getting up theirs with snow on the ground.

I'm such a wuss about driving.

Thanks for the outpouring of support yesterday. I may work on my macronutrient ratios to see if increasing the protein and reducing the carbs makes a difference. I'm not ready for full-out paleo and I'm definitely not interested in a low-fat (i.e., 20 grams or less) plan, but my protein has been in the 15-to-17 percent range each week, and the carbs are at about 45 percent. I could increase the former and decrease the latter and see what happens.

What I'm definitely not interested in doing is anything that I can't sustain for the rest of my life. I don't want to go back to where I was 20 years ago, working out like a maniac, completely eliminating sugar, nearly eliminating fat, snacking on pretzels, being cold all the time, watching my hair fall out and my skin get dry and itchy. I lost weight, yes, but at a great price.

What I'm doing now – walking regularly and eating a reasonable number of calories, choosing whole foods instead of processed, having an occasional treat – should yield results. I don't want to be my own science experiment.

I just want to wear smaller pants.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 13 - Sound

Love waking up to birdsong, guaranteed to happen when the feeder is full!

Today's message from the Universe

Do you know what it sometimes means, Debbi, when you feel a bit bummed out and aren't sure why? When you catch yourself looking back over your shoulder and wondering? When you feel doubt, sense uncertainty, and experience fear? When you sometimes wonder what's taking so long? 

It means you're normal. 

How does it KNOW?

I do feel a bit bummed out. I am feeling doubt, uncertainty and fear. And I sure as hell wonder what's taking so long.

My lofty beginning-of-the-year desire to be fit and healthy despite the scale result isn't really panning out as I'd hoped it would. I do, indeed, think I'm on my way to fit and healthy. But the number on the scale continues to increase – another 1.5 pounds for today's spot-check, bringing my total loss this year to five pounds. It's almost like the harder I try, the higher the number goes.

And as that number increases, so does my anxiety and fear and doubt and disappointment and sadness and frustration and TOTAL BUMMED-OUTNESS.

So here's my message to the Universe: If this is normal, I'll pass. I'd rather be abnormal, paranormal, subnormal, SUPERnormal. Anything but normal. 'Kay?

Monday, March 11, 2013

The weekly wrap-up ... move along, there's nothing to see here

Ten hours and 40 minutes of logged activity (not counting housework, I never count that).

Thirty-two miles of outdoor walking or working out on the elliptical – mostly walking.

An approximate calorie deficit for the week of 1800, and I didn't go over the limit once, not one day.

A gain of 1.5 pounds.

What the hell?

I understand that a gain at this point may be attributable to water retention in my very sore muscles. And they are, indeed, very sore. Twenty of those 32 miles happened Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If there were a figure of speech like "her eyes were bigger than her stomach" that correlated to walking, you could insert it here.

I am really loving walking outdoors, and the weekend weather was simply perfect. That eight-miler Friday afternoon whetted my appetite for more. My friend and I decided to walk 10K Saturday because it was so gorgeous and why not keep walking? And I talked my husband into another 10K yesterday. I tried urging him on to seven miles but he wasn't buying it.

This tiny creek meandered
beside us for most of our
trek. Truly, a babbling brook!
We walked a new route, one we'd driven previously to make sure it wasn't too strenuous. The road mostly goes beside a tiny creek that then flows into Indian Creek. There were a few gentle hills and a couple friendly dogs, but mostly it was just the two of us in some beautiful country.

Who put this hill here? I surely
didn't remember it coming down!
Sunday's walk was nine minutes longer than Saturday's of the same distance. My husband doesn't walk as fast as my friend does. And we did have to stop and play with puppies a couple of times. And there were hills, which slow me down. But I wasn't going for speed, I was just … going. It was 64 degrees and sunny, with a gentle breeze. Simply perfect.

So all that activity and a week of good eating and I gain weight. AND I'M NOT THROWING MYSELF OFF A BRIDGE! (One of the many, heh.) Because you know what? I tried on a pair of jeans I haven't worn in two years and, while I wouldn't want to wear them out of the bedroom, I can at least get them on and zipped, with considerable effort. When I tried them on in January, I couldn't even get them up past my hips. So something is working. And I can't stay this weight forever.

Right? RIGHT? RIGHT?????

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March 10 - I want …

spring! Apple blossoms and daffodils and green grass and asparagus and
all kinds of shoots and sprouts and growth. Spring! Bring it on!

The reward at the end of the day

Yesterday was a pretty busy day for me. As I've gotten older, my energy level has diminished significantly, enough that I really, really notice it. I sometimes have to step back and look at the fact that I am, in fact, in my 60s, not my 40s, and one's energy does diminish (usually) with age.

So the fact that I

  • did four loads of laundry (bedding and linens, no clothing)
  • line-dried most of it
  • took care of a couple little nagging chores
  • vacuumed the entire house
  • walked for two hours (6.2 miles – a 10K!) and 
  • prepared a home-cooked meal (chicken with peanut sauce and rice) 

proves that yes, once in a while, I can still get things done.

The reward was going to bed early, one of my favorite things to do. Heh. (That's kind of a joke; I always go to bed early and spend an hour or so reading. I have little interest in television these days.) I had a little trouble actually getting to sleep last night, though. It might have been the aches and pains that are a natural result of walking 14 miles in two days.

Or it might have come from inhaling the scent of sun-kissed sheets every time I moved. Ahhhh.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 9 - Faceless Self Portrait

This is what my hair looks like when I don't comb it. In the morning,
I just pull it up and secure it with a clip. I love how messy it is, and
how it doesn't get in my way. However, I see a haircut in my future.

I am, apparently, map-challenged

To be fair to myself, one of Hinton, West Virginia's claims to fame is that it was settled at the confluence of three rivers. There are, therefore, many bridges to navigate when you're looking at a map. I went one bridge too far when I calculated the distance on Willowwood Road yesterday. It is, indeed, eight miles round-trip, just as I thought.

You know what that means, don't you?


The halfway point, looking
out over the Greenbrier River
from the middle of the bridge. 
On a whim, and because my phone was fully charged, I decided to take and post photos at the beginning and at each mile. If you're not my Facebook friend (search for Debbi Young McNeer) or if you don't follow me on Instagram (search for @shrinkingknitter), you can see my progress here. The first photo is today's photoaday attempt, and not part of the walk, obviously. The next eight are in reverse order.

I had to skip the seventh mile. Despite a fully charged phone, the battery was nearly drained by the time I got to within a couple miles of the finish. In order to have enough juice left to grab a final shot, I decided two pictures of a tunnel weren't really necessary. (The first- (and potentially seventh-) mile tunnel shot is my favorite; most people liked the bamboo, though.)

I guess running a GPS program for nearly three hours – yes, I was that slow – plus uploading a bunch of photos to Instagram will deplete a phone battery. Or at least it did mine. If I have one complaint about my Motorola Electrify it's the rapid battery drain.

ANYWAY. Taking the photos helped pass the time, and it took a LOT of time. Two hours and 49 minutes and 17 seconds of time, and I didn't begin until 3 p.m. The sun was slipping behind the mountain when I got home. Had I been running, I could have completed a half-marathon. (Insert sad face here – I wish I'd been running.)

The most interesting thing that happened is when I passed one small, narrow brown house that's been there a long time, by the looks of it. I've never seen a person or car there; when I trained on this road previously that place was always empty. And there was always music coming from it.

And there still is. Whoever owns it apparently has a radio on all. the. time, perhaps to deter intruders. I'd say about half the dwellings on Willowwood Road are summer homes – cabins or fishing shacks, many built on stilts to avoid the spring floods from the Greenbrier River. If I lived in the shack next door, I surely wouldn't appreciate the constant loud noise coming from my empty neighbor's house.

But I don't, and that's their problem.

My problem was getting in and out of the car. My right hip was so very stiff when I got done. It feels pretty good this morning though, thank goodness, because I have a 2 p.m. date with my walking buddy. I hope to blow the lid off my mileage for this year – never thought I'd be hitting the 200-mile mark this soon!

Friday, March 8, 2013

March 8 - Favorite

Breakfast is my favorite meal, and this is my favorite breakfast:
English muffin topped with avocado and poached eggs.