Saturday, December 31, 2016

today's food diary

I'm back to logging my food intake.  In order to make myself more accountable, I figured I'd post a screen shot of my food diary for today. I was on target with my protein, so I'm happy about that. Sodium is really high, but that's because of the stew I made.  It had kielbasa, which is salty. I also had pork rinds, also high in sodium.  It doesn't look like much, but I drank lots of water in between, which kept me from being hungry. Head hunger is another story, though. I had a good measure of that today and I hate it. I think that's really the hardest part of maintaining my weight.  Tomorrow should be easier.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas recap

A belated Merry Christmas to everyone!  I'm a bit late. Not because I was super busy or anything. Just lazy.

Friday I finished up my Christmas shopping. The stores, especially Walmart, weren't as busy as I thought they'd be. I went to Ocean State Job Lot to grab coloring pencils for my niece, a giant dog bed for the kitties, and something else I don't even remember. Walmart was a few half gallons of milk, as I wanted to make sure I had milk to make an iced mocha latte on the weekend, and a new electric razor for Bob. I also went to Cabela's to get Bob some fleece-lined jeans, beef sticks, bacon jerky, which almost didn't make it into his stocking, and some beef nuggets. It was almost exclusively men in that store. I don't know if they were shopping for themselves, or other male family members and friends. I came home and did all the wrapping, then started doing some cleaning.

Saturday Bob was off from work. We really didn't do anything other than some cleaning. We went to the grocery store later in the day to grab a few things. Surprisingly it wasn't a mad house like I thought it would be. Before bed we lit a fire and sat down to open our Christmas stockings.  Bob got me a pair of fleece pajama pants with cats all over them, a silver necklace and a mother cat and a kitten on it, and a gift card to Bed Bath and Beyond. I gave the kitties their bed. As you can see, there's still room for only one cat, as each cat thinks they own it!

Sunday Bob had to work, so I just kind of hung out during the morning. I played around on the computer, caught up on a few blogs I read, and sipped my homemade iced mocha latte. I did some more cleaning, then went over my sister's house for dinner. We had turkey. I changed things up a bit, though. Instead of making a plate of food, I went straight to my favorite leftovers:  turkey, mayo and cranberry sauce on a dinner roll. I had a little stuffing on the side. That was my dinner. It was a perfect portion and I got to skip right to my favorite thing. I had some cookies for dessert. They were Almond Joy cookies.  They were made with a bag of coconut, a can of sweetened condensed milk, almonds, and a bag of chocolate chips. So yummy! I then made up a plate for Bob and met him at home.  Then we opened our gifts. One thing I bought him was a wood splitting ax, and I got some really weird looks from the men in Home Depot when I bought it. One guy even moved out of the way when I walked by! And when I was leaving the store, a man asked if I was going home to film the next Friday the 13th movie. Seriously? No one has seen someone buy an ax before??

I had Monday off from work, so I spent the day cleaning and cooking in preparation for dinner with the in-laws. My sister and the kids came over, too. We had ham, carrots, corn, mashed potatoes, and kielbasa with sauerkraut. Again, I skipped right to my favorite leftovers:  ham, pineapple, cherry and mayo on a dinner roll. I had some mashed potatoes on the side.

One of my favorite "leftovers" sandwiches.

And that's it. It's back to work, back to the daily grind and then onto the new year.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

a woman with a plan

It's official:  plastic surgery is two months from today! (And my pre-op appointment is January 4!)

As I've mentioned before, I'm really struggling with getting my diet on track and finding the motivation to stick with my exercise routine. I'm still working with the trainer, but I'm struggling on the days I don't see him. My diet...I don't even want to go there. But I did a lot of thinking the last few days and I made a plan of attack.

I'm going back on the bariatric meal replacement shakes. I'm thinking two a day and then one real meal. Don't worry--I'll have all the nutrition I need.  These shakes are designed to be high quality meal replacements. I feel this will take a lot of focus off food, which is what I need right now. I won't have to prep it, think about it, plan it much, or obsess over it. It should also help me flush the cravings from my system. I think one of the pitfalls for WLS patients is that we tend to replace bread and pasta with crackers or other crunchy carbs. That's what makes us crave other things we shouldn't be eating, like cookies, candy, etc.

I'm going to drink more water. I haven't been doing well with that lately and I need to improve. Perhaps I'd feel better if I was drinking more water. I'm sure I wouldn't be snacking as much!

I'm going to cook more. I'll be posting later in the week about that, but the plan is to cook more; I haven't been doing much of that lately and I need to get back to it.

And, finally, I'm going to give it my all with my workouts. I have to stop whining and babying myself. I usually use the excuse of work making me mentally drained, or my back is hurting from sitting at my desk all day so I'm going to take it easy. I mean, yeah, I don't want to make my back worse, but I do need to do the work still. I'll just lighten the weights that day.

I've gotten myself into such a rut that I find I don't desire meals at all. All I want to do is continuously snack or drink my homemade mocha lattes. Sure, my lattes have a lot of protein and are fairly low in sugar, and I only have one a day, but I should be drinking water instead.

I'm hoping that by doing all the things I listed above I will lose the last 15 pounds I want to lose before surgery. It's not necessary, but I really want to get under 200 pounds. I'm 214 right now, so 199 is the goal.

I can do this!!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

kitty issues: a house in chaos


Well, maybe not total chaos, but certainly not the status quo.

Ever since we moved to the new house in July 2014, someone has been spraying various rooms in the house.  We discovered it's Thelma and Max. We don't believe it's anyone else, but it could be; we have a lot of cats and it's hard to catch them in the act.  It's extremely frustrating and embarrassing.  Just when we think we've found all the spots and cleaned them, we discover another one we missed and it's usually when we have company.

As you may remember, we added Marty to our household in late October. He came to us as a foster kitty and we adopted him in mid-November. Things were fine for the first three weeks or so, and then someone starting peeing on the couch. Since I have multiple cats, I couldn't figure out who it was. I suspected Leia or Louise, as they seem to both be pretty much living on the couch since Marty came.  We had to put on our detective hats to figure it out. We tried bringing Leia upstairs to our bedroom at night and leaving Louise downstairs to roam free. Each time we did that we usually didn't find any wet spots in the couch in the morning; however, we sometimes found one, which meant it could be someone else. After trying this several times without conclusive results, we decided to buy a wireless security video camera. Yup, we bought a security camera to catch he or she in the act.  Desperate times call for desperate measures. (Have to say, it's strangely addictive to watch the cats on camera. Verdict?  They're a lazy bunch of animals who do nothing during the day except sleep.  To be fair, though, the camera is in the family room only, so I'm not seeing the full picture.)

Leia, before the arrival of Marty.
We caught the culprit the first night:  it's Leia. We figured it was, but didn't really want to believe it. She was in a multi-cat foster home prior to coming here and was fine with all the other cats here when she arrived, so it seems so strange that all of a sudden she's constantly on her guard, growls and hisses as soon as she sees Marty, and is now living in the family room exclusively. I just don't get how one cat, Marty, could turn the tide so completely. My thought is that he reacts to her diva-ness, which makes her react negatively. And he seems to have more energy that she does, which could be another issue. He might be looking to play, but she sees it as aggression and reacts accordingly.

So, how have I been dealing with this? Mainly bitching, moaning and being frustrated. Then... First, I started using Rescue Remedy.  It's a water additive that supposed to help calm cats. People usually have varying degrees of success.  It didn't work that well for my cats, although I did see a slight reduction in aggression between a few of them. Didn't help with spraying and peeing, though. Then, I bought Feliway plugins. They're like Glade plugins, but they emit feline synthetic pheromones, which are supposed to help relieve the cat's stress, which in turn reduces or eliminate spraying, marking, and tension. I'm using the Comfort Zone and Multi-cat formulas both in the same room. I bought the spray, too, which you spray in areas where the cat has marked.  I've noticed a dramatic decrease in spraying from Thelma and Max, which is quite nice, but no change on the peeing. Next I tried NatureCalm 24/7 collars on Marty, Louise and Leia. I tried to put one on Thelma, but that did not go well at all. It didn't go well with Louise, either, but we wrapped her tightly in a towel and eventually got it on her. I don't see any real different with any of the cats, but I'll leave them on for awhile longer. No change in the peeing. As a matter of fact, I caught Leia on camera again this morning.

That brings me to my last straw, which is to try medication on Leia. I talked it over with the vet and she feels I've done as much as I can do on my own and with the help of OTC remedies and gadgets. I called today and they're going to consult with the doctor on Monday to figure out which meds to try first. Apparently there are several. Some work almost immediately but can make the cat pretty dopey and lethargic. Others take 4 to 6 weeks to start to see improvement, but shouldn't affect her overall personality.

I'll report back once we figure out what to try and give it a chance to work. I really hope it does.  Not only do I hate having to constantly clean the sofa (so glad I bought an upholstery cleaner!!), but I hate that this friendly, outgoing kitty who once roamed the whole house has become one that confines herself to one room and one piece of furniture. She'll come down on the floor to eat, drink and poop in the litter box, but she basically lives on the couch the rest of the time. And I can't fault her for the peeing on the couch, as I know she's just protecting what she deems to be safe territory.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

how to deal with a small kitchen

When we bought our house two years ago, I wasn't really thinking about how I was going to deal with moving from kitchen that was about 15' x 24' to one that's about 8' x 12'. I just assumed I'd figure it out somehow and it wouldn't be all that different. Um, yeah.

When I was packing up to move I didn't realize exactly how much kitchen stuff I had. Even after donating a lot to the Stratford Cat Project semi-annual tag sale (several times) I still had probably 15 boxes or so marked "kitchen." (Someone would argue that I had more than that, since she helped me organize my boxes the day after I moved, but we'll go with 15.  😜) To be fair, though, a couple of those boxes had computer equipment and desk items, since my computer desk area was in the kitchen at my old house. When I got to the new house and started unpacking my boxes, I very quickly realized that storing all this stuff, even the essentials, was going to be A Problem. I did the best I could at the time, which was to put all the truly essential stuff, like the utensils and pans, in the kitchen drawers and cabinets, and all the other stuff in the closet next to the kitchen, as well as the two built-in hutches in the dining room (true lifesavers in this house!).

As time went by, I decided that I really needed to get serious about creative storage and also that I needed to shed some kitchen stuff again. It forced me to think about what I really need to function. I think most people, myself included, get carried away when we watch cooking shows or read cookbooks and magazines.  We have delusions of grandeur:  we're going to cook the most complicated and elegant recipe in the book, one that requires special equipment or ingredients, and it's going to be fabulous and our family and friends will be amazed. We also think that owning that one special piece of equipment is suddenly going to transform us into Julia Child and it's going to inspire us to cook like that every night. That's how we acquire all this shit--and that's really what it is if you only use it once. I can say that after 20+ years of cooking, that piece of equipment I had to have to make that special recipe x number of years ago didn't inspire me to do anything other than make that recipe once, decide it was too much of a pain in the ass to do again, and then toss said equipment into a cabinet, never to be heard from again. So, if you recognize yourself here, put down the immersion blender/sandwich maker/pizza machine/poached egg maker and back away. Don't waste the money unless you really know you're going to use this item regularly, or at least several times a year.

So, here's what I did to solve some storage problems in my kitchen.  These things were cheap and easy fixes.

On the left is my solution to having very little drawer and counter space:  cheap drawer handles and pot rack hooks. Everything is within easy reach and it frees up other much-needed drawer space. On the right is my magnetic knife strip.  This picture is a little older and I now have different knives, but as you can see, it's a great space-saver and looks pretty neat, too.   Oh, and then there's the lid rack. I like this, but I find it's a bit of a balancing act to get the lids to stay in place.

This is my pot rack. $20.00 at Ikea. Since my kitchen is so small, hanging it from the window trim was really my only option. It's quite handy, though, as the stove is right next to it. Figures, I took the picture without including all my pots. I guess one was in the sink that day. The counter below is my main prep area.

This is my shelf over the fridge, which holds some cookbooks, a steamer pan, seasonings and an old scale I found at a flea market. As you can see here, the fridge is recessed into the wall. The kitchen is tiny, so this is the only option if we want to have space to,  you know, cook and function. Plus, the age of the house likely made this necessary. It's actually in a closet and the closet door behind the fridge opens into the family room for easy access.

More drawer handles and pot rack hooks.

Oh, and here's a few pictures of my kitchen from when we went to look at the house. The appliances and stove hood have been changed out, but this is basically it.

The microwave is on the counter next to the window. The oven mitts are hanging from the drawer handles I attached to the right side of the top cabinet.

The pot rack is over this window and the knife strip is to the right of the fridge.

Cooking in the new kitchen has been a bit of a challenge, but mostly at holidays or other gatherings where I need to cook a lot of food. If I need extra counter space for prep, I just pull out my giant cutting board and put it on top of the stove grates. I actually find it to be much more efficient than the old kitchen. I don't have to go back and forth from end to end looking through a bunch of cabinets for the things I need. And when I'm at the stove, I just take a few steps to the left and I'm at the fridge, or turn around and I'm at the sink.  And since there's less storage space, it's forced me to down-size just a little bit. The only annoyance, sometimes, is that it gets crowded with more than one person in it. But it gives me an excuse to kick everyone out of the kitchen at holidays, which I enjoy. 😈

Monday, December 12, 2016

last night's dinner: steak and potatoes

Last night's dinner was steak and roasted rosemary potatoes. 

I had a couple steaks in the freezer that needed cooking (I forgot they were in there) and I have some new spice blends to try, so I decided to make them last night. Last time I went to the spice store they were running a coupon where you get two spice blends for free when you spend $10.00. That was easy, because I had to buy cocoa for my homemade iced mocha lattes (I'm addicted!!). But right before I left for the store, they emailed another coupon for two more free spice blends with a $10.00 purchase. AND THEN!  I got to the store and they were giving away another spice blend with a $30.00 purchase. And I didn't have to spend a total of $50.00 to get all the free items. I only had to spend the $30.00. So that was quite the awesome deal. I got 5 free jars of spice blends to try out.

Last night I tried the Quebec Beef Spice, which is a mix of salt, black pepper, coriander, garlic, white pepper, and sugar.  I really liked this one. I usually don't like anything on steak other than Borsari seasoned salt, but this blend was good. I could actually taste it. There have been a few that I just couldn't taste, even though I used a heavy hand when applying it to the steaks.

I also made roasted rosemary potatoes. I had potatoes to use up and I have a rosemary plant I bought this year and haven't touched yet.  I found the recipe in one of the cookbooks I borrowed from the library. It was super simple. Just cut up two pounds of potatoes, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss them in the oven at 400 degrees. After 20 minutes you check them and stir them around a bit, then put them in for another 20 minutes or so. That's when you sprinkle on the chopped fresh rosemary. Then pop them back in the over for another 20 minutes or until they're crisp and brown on the outside and tender on the inside. The timing varies based on how big you cut your potatoes. These tasted really good and were cooked perfectly. The fresh rosemary (vs. dried) really made a difference. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

lazy weekend kitty pics

Just thought I'd share a few lazy kitty pics while I'm trying to work up the motivation to clean my couch. It's needs a good once-over with the upholstery cleaner (I'll post on that later) and I just don't feel like doing it. So, my excuse is that I must post these pictures now.

Max is reaching for the sun.

Bailey and Oscar enjoying the picture window.

Bailey and Oscar. Brotherly love. I think it's a black-and-white thing.

Marty and Tiffany, the diva.

Max decided to roll over. But that's about it. That's really all that can be expected on a Saturday from a cat warmed by the late morning sun. Not even that catnip toy could make him move another inch.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Thanksgiving leftovers: homemade turkey croquettes and sandwiches

Here's what I made with the leftover turkey and stuffing from Thanksgiving:  turkey croquettes and mini turkey sandwiches.

The croquettes were so simple. All I did was put 3 1/2 cups of leftover stuffing, one egg and 1 cup of leftover turkey in the food processor and then pulsed it until it was almost a paste. Then I shaped it into patties, rolled them in Italian flavored breadcrumbs and browned them in a skillet with some oil.  (I tried making the traditional croquette shape, but it just didn't fry up very well. And I was worried the egg didn't get heated enough.)  I reheated the leftover gravy, poured it on top and served with leftover carrots and corn.

I didn't include a picture of it on a plate with gravy. It just didn't look very appetizing at all.

My post-Thanksgiving favorite are mini turkey sandwiches.  It's just a dinner roll--potato in this case--lots of Hellmann's mayo, a couple pieces of turkey breast, a slice of jellied cranberry sauce (because no one in the two families will eat homemade, of course), and some salt and pepper. I used to eat three of these at a time before my weight loss surgery. Nowadays, this one sandwich fills me. Actually, I usually can't eat the last bite.

Looks big, but I put it on a small salad plate.

Even after the croquettes, a few lunches, and several turkey sandwiches, though, I still have a lot of stuffing and turkey left. I decided to freeze it all. Maybe I'll make hot open turkey sandwiches or bake chicken breasts with the stuffing.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

i won the Streetcat Bob books!

I recently entered a contest on Facebook to win all three Streetcat Bob books. Guess what? I won! The books tell the true story of a stray cat named Bob, who was living on the streets in London, and a man who was down on his luck. They cross paths and become the best of friends. I haven't read them yet; however, I plan to when I have my excess skin removal surgery in February. I'll have plenty of time for reading since I'll be inactive and out of work for a bit. They've made a movie, too. I want to go see the movie, but I'll likely wait and rent it when my cousin comes to visit after my surgery. She's read all three books and loved them, and she wants to see the movie, too.

Monday, November 28, 2016

homemade tabouleh

I recently checked out a few cookbooks from the library, one of which is Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (Leia is making sure it doesn't fall off the table).  As the name suggests, it gives you all the basics for just about any food you can think of, along with multiple recipe variations.

While flipping through it I found a recipe for tabbouleh that looked pretty easy. I tried tabbouleh once a long time ago and liked it. I've been wanting to shake up my diet lately, so I decided to try making it. It's a mixture of bulgar wheat, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, scallions, parsley, mint and tomatoes.

My team members at work gave me a Whole Foods gift card for my birthday, so I decided to buy the ingredients to make the tabbouleh. I even bought a citrus squeezer, which I've used several times already. (In case you don't know what that is, it's a handheld gadget used to squeeze the juice from citrus fruits like lemons and limes. It extracts the juice while leaving the seeds behind.) Can't believe I ever extracted fresh lemon juice without it!

The recipe called for roughly chopped parsley, leaves and small stems only. Have you ever seen a bunch of parsley? It's not easy to get only the small stems, which means either separating the individual stems and stripping them, or chopping off a large portion at the bottom and losing some of the leaves. Same goes for the fresh mint. And have you ever tried chopping parsley and mint?  It's not difficult, but it's messy. Same goes for seeding tomatoes. Again, not difficult, but kind of tedious and messy. The bulgar prep, on the other hand, was simple:  just soak it in some hot water for 30 minutes, drain it and squeeze out the excess water.

Here's the finished product. It tasted pretty good, but for the amount of prep that goes into it and the price of the ingredients, I'd rather just buy it ready-made.

One caveat:  you may want to check your teeth after eating this. Chopped herbs like to stick to, and in between, your teeth.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

happy belated thanksgiving!

I haven't had a chance to post since I've been winding down after the whirlwind that is Thanksgiving. All that preparation--cleaning, shopping, chopping--and it's over in a couple hours. Not even. It's a lot of work, but it's nice to spend time with family.

This year I made a huge turkey, even though I had a small crowd. When I bought the turkey I wasn't yet sure how many people were coming, so I bought a very large one--28 lbs! (I have a big family.) Actually I bought two turkeys, because the price was so good and on my first shopping trip they didn't have anything bigger than 15 pounds. Although I would likely need something bigger, I got one anyway since it was only about $8.00 and I figured I'd keep it in the freezer for Christmas or something. Then on my second trip a few nights later I found a 28-pounder. I didn't set out to get something that big.  It just happened to be the first one I picked up and I went with it.  After we took the turkey out to defrost, we found out that we would have a small crowd. Rather than put it back in the freezer we decided to cook it. At least we'd have a ton of leftovers!

I'm glad we decided to check to make sure the turkey would fit in one of my roasting pans. It fit in my biggest pan, but the rack that comes with that pan is pretty flimsy, so I set off to find a new roasting rack. I could have used my rack, but the turkey would have been sitting directly on the pan due to sagging of the rack. I also thought about using very thick slices of onions, carrots and celery as a makeshift rack (thank you, Google!), but those would eventually disintegrate and leave the turkey in contact with the pan. The idea of a roasting rack is to have airflow under whatever you're roasting and to have the juices drip off away from the meat. Another reason I really wanted a new rack is because I wanted one with handles that would allow me to lift the turkey. A 28 lb. turkey is very heavy, and I just didn't feel confident that I wouldn't drop it on the journey from pan to cutting board. I stopped off at Bed Bath and Beyond earlier this week and found a rack with handles.  It was under $20.00, plus I had a 20% off coupon to boot.

As usual, I scoured the Interwebs for turkey cooking times and temperatures, different ways to cook it, recipes, etc. (I really don't know why I do that. I trust I can cook a turkey and all it does is suck me in and waste time.) But in the end I went with the old standby of salt and pepper to season it, bagged stuffing mix with onions, celery and sausage added, and cooked it at 350 degrees for a little over six hours (13 minutes per pound of turkey).  It came out great. (In honor of my late mother, I ate the neck. She always raved about the neck meat and usually ate it while cooking the gravy.  I always scoffed at it, but it really has delicious meat on it. MIL had a couple bites, too.)  Something I did differently was to add the bag of giblets to the bottom of the pan, along with celery, carrots and onions, plus a healthy dose of water to start the gravy. To finish the gravy I added a can of turkey stock, skimmed out all the solids from the bottom of the pan, and added the cornstarch and water mixture to thicken. I liked the way the gravy came out, but I neglected to add salt and pepper, which I'll have to remember next time. It still tasted good, though.

I also made an apple pie and made the crust from scratch. It came out pretty good. I'm getting better at making crust. I just have to remember to not overwork it, as that is what makes it tough. Something I differently here was to cook the filling first, let it cool down and then fill the crust. That allowed the apples to cook down a bit, which eliminated a soggy bottom crust since the juice was already cooked out. It also helped the pie keep its shape. Rather than having a big dome of crust about 3 inches above the filling, the shape it was in when it went into the oven is the way it came out. See below.

Along with the turkey I had corn, mashed potatoes, carrots, stuffing, cranberry sauce, homemade cinnamon applesauce, and dinner rolls. Dessert was the apple pie, a store-bought pumpkin pie, which wasn't very good, and store-bought cookies.

Oh, I almost Instant Pot came to the rescue. I forgot to start the carrots and since I always make fresh, they would take a while to cook. I decided to throw them in the Instant Pot with about 1.5 cups of water and set it to pressure cook for 4 minutes. Viola! In about 25 minutes I had perfectly cooked fresh carrots. (It takes some time to get up to pressure and then depressurize after cooking. But it was all hands-off time and it freed up the stove top for other things.)

I also tried something else this year:  I made the mashed potatoes around 11 am and then put them in the slow cooker on the low setting. When it was dinner time, around 2:30 pm, I just stirred them up and served them. They thinned out a bit, but it wasn't terrible. Just not quite as thick is when they were first made. I also put the finished gravy into my small slow cooker on Keep Warm. For some reason I had a timing issue this year, which I don't usually have. It seemed like things finished up quickly, when usually I'm scrambling around trying to pull it all together. Maybe I was too prepared?  I don't know.

And here's the turkey coma in effect. Well, not really. Only one cat got any turkey at all and that was because he looked about ready to jump onto the table during dinner. I figured giving him a little turkey would stop him from embarrassing us in front of everyone. I normally locked them all up in the upstairs bedrooms, but this time I thought I'd try and trust them. They did well, I have to say.

Now that the big day is over, I have to figure out what to do with all those leftovers. I have a lot of mashed potatoes, so I'm thinking either a shepherd's pie or cheesy potato pancakes. Maybe I can combine them with the turkey to make croquettes. And the stuffing. Well, I'm not sure what to do with that. And there's SO much of it!! If I decide to get creative I'll be sure to post it here.

Now it's on to getting ready for Christmas....

Monday, November 21, 2016

a new, fast (gruelling!) workout

This is how I felt after my workout today.

I've been struggling mightily lately, both in terms of working out and eating right. I think what started it was my trainer being on medical leave for six weeks, followed by lots of back pain due to many long distance car trips in a short amount of time, and more time than usual at my desk at work. I started out pretty good while he was gone.  The first three weeks went well. The second three weeks, not so well. I at least worked out two of those three weeks. The last week I was on vacation and figured with all the walking I did it would even out. Um, not so much.

My first week back at the studio was over two weeks ago, and it was rough. He took it easy on me, but it still wasn't too pretty. Luckily I had worked out on my own the day before, so I didn't have any soreness from my workout with him the next day. The second week went much better, and I worked out on my own in between. Last week and this week, though, I'm on my own again, as he's out of town. I worked out as well as I could last week; however, my back was an absolute mess from travelling more than 10 hours in the car the previous weekend so I took it easy.  I mostly did a lot of walking on the treadmill, followed by several sets of squats, lunges, and push-ups.   My back is starting to feel better this week, so I decided to do a harder workout.

Awhile back I asked for a condensed workout I could do when pressed for time. My trainer sent one to me last week. It's seven different exercises that are done for one minute each and then repeated. It's supposed to take 28-31 minutes, including a short warm-up.  When I looked at it I thought, "Hmm that's not so bad." Since I got a late start in the gym after work today, I decided to try it.

Here's my express workout routine:
  • Warm-up 5 min. combination run in place, jumping jacks, mountain climbers
Rest 1 minute

All exercises are one minute in duration and I have to do as many as I can in that one minute. Rest 30 seconds between each exercise.
  • Kettle bell swing, 25 lbs.
  • Sumo squats, 25 lbs.
  • Push-ups
  • Reverse lunges, 15 lbs.
  • Dumbbell press, 10 lbs.
  • Mountain climbers
  • Body squats

Rest 1-2 minutes and then repeat the whole set.

One minute in duration doesn't sound like much, right? Wrong!  This was my first time doing it and it was tougher than I thought it would be. I made it through both sets, and I couldn't make a full minute, or even 30 seconds, on the mountain climbers and push-ups.  I think I had a hard time with those because this routine is very arm-heavy.  The dumbbell presses were tough, too, after about 30 seconds, but I made the full minute on those. The squats, sumo squats, and kettle bell swings were fine, although I reduced the weight to 20 lbs on the sumo squats and kettle bell swings because my back is still bothering me a bit. The reverse lunges really tired me out, but they always do, so that's nothing new.  I'm going to try this again tomorrow.

In order to help me get through the next three months until my surgery, I asked my trainer to give me short-term goals so it doesn't feel like such a grueling stretch of time. I've figured out that I'm not good with long-term goals and deadlines, whether it's at home or at work. I need short deadlines and smaller goals; if it's not in front of face and breathing down my neck I basically just screw around until the last possible minute and then cram. Obviously, that's not going to work with weight loss and core strengthening, which will prepare me for surgery. The way I handle my job is to break projects up into smaller goals with closer deadlines, which helps me cross the big finish line. I realized that I need to do that with my workouts and eating, too. So, my first goal for myself is to get back to working out five days a week and to stop all the snacking at work, and the deadline is the end of next week.  I'm going to start this week--actually I already did--by working out at least three days and not visiting my team's cubicle area at work to grab snacks (they always have snacks over there).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Marty, our newest family member

I'm happy to announce that this handsome guy is ours!  We adopted Marty this weekend, which was made possible by two special people. (Thank you so much!!)

Marty came to us as a foster kitty. (That was the original intent, anyway.) He was very skittish and needed some time to settle in. Once he did, though, he blossomed into a cuddly love bug.  He loves to be in our laps or cuddled up to our necks. Usually all I have to do is make eye contact with him and gesture with a head nod for him to come up and cuddle. I've been wanting another lap cat for a long time and I finally have one--Leo is a lap cat, but he's not really a cuddler.

Marty has a couple nicknames already:  Marty the marshmallow and Marty the love bug. There's also Mar-Mar, which came from his original foster mom, and Marty-Mar. Over time I'm sure we will come up with some more as we see more of his personality.  All of my other cats have nicknames that evolved over time, some of which I won't print here as they're mostly swear words:

  • Lou:  Louis, Louie, Lucy-fur (his original name was Lucifer--he came with that name)
  • Leo:  Leonard, Lee Lee, mommy's fat little munchkin
  • Oscar:  Oskie
  • Max:  Maxie-poo, Maxi pad (blame Bob for that one!), Poops or Poopers (there's a story to those two names...)
  • Baily:  Baily Boo, Boo Bear, Boober, Boo, Bear
  • Felix:  Feefer, Feef, Feely
  • Thelma:  Thel, Big Girl
  • Louise:  Little Girl
  • Leia:  Baby Girl
  • Tiffany:  Tiff, Tiffster, Sweetie, Little One or Tiny Girl 

We're very happy to have Marty.  Him and all 13 inches (!!) of his tail.  As you can see, he seems to be content with life lately.

Monday, November 7, 2016

another year older, and another year wiser (hopefully)

Yesterday was my 42nd birthday.  I spent the weekend at my dad's house.  He, I and my sister went out to dinner at a seafood restaurant--it was her birthday last month and his is coming up on the 10th.

We started off with an order of fried mushrooms to share. I love fried mushrooms, but don't usually get them since Bob doesn't like them. And leftover fried mushrooms just aren't quite as good the second time around.  I had a lobster for dinner, which I don't think I've ever ordered for myself. I was going to get a fried shrimp dinner, or maybe steak, but then decided on lobster. I never get lobster, because I usually can't bring myself to pay the market price, even though a fried seafood dinner is almost as much. (I've become a very cheap date since weight loss surgery, both in quantity and quality of food.) But I finally decided to give it a go. It was sure messy, but it was delicious!  Yummy lobster dipped in clarified butter, along with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and coleslaw. Unfortunately, I really didn't have room for the potatoes and slaw, but I had a couple bites at least. My sister and dad had dessert. I didn't order one, but I had a couple bites of my sisters molten lava chocolate cake. It was good, and surprisingly not sickeningly sweet.

Bob got me a sterling silver pendant for my necklace and a pair of cozy slipper socks from The Animal Rescue Site. Both cat-themed, of course. :) They have lots of great items for pet lovers on the site.  Here's a picture of the pendant. I couldn't get the phone quite steady, but you can see it well enough.

I didn't do anything when I got home yesterday other than unpack, clean up the house a little and then settle in to look at some cookbooks I borrowed from the library. I lit the wood stove, which attracted quite a few cats, and also played some Candy Crush.  Due to the time change it seemed like bedtime would never come. Usually a good thing, but with being tired from the drive and not sleeping well the night before, I was waiting to go to bed.  Finally around 9:30 pm I called it a night. Yup, very exciting. :)

From left to right:  Tiffany, Marty and Leia.

Friday, November 4, 2016

update on Leia

I titled this post as an update, but realized I'd never posted anything about her to begin with.

Leia had to have a dental done a couple weeks ago, as I had noticed some really bad breath (a telltale sign of dental problems). When all was said and done, she'd had 13 (!) teeth pulled, as well as a cleaning. Her teeth and gums were very poor for such a young cat--she's only 3--so the vet had her tested for Bartonella.  Bartonella, also known as cat scratch fever, is an infectious bacterial disease that can be passed from cats to humans and vice versa.  Apparently it can cause dental problems, and because Leia is so young to have such dental problems, the vet wanted to test to make sure. Good news:  she tested negative.  When I picked her up from the vet after the procedure, the vet tech mentioned that orange cats are known for having bad teeth and gums. I'm not sure if that's a fact, but anything is possible. Which is just wonderful, as I have four orange cats. So far Max hasn't developed any issues; however, Marty, the foster cat, is developing bad breath--he's only one year old! So, he's off to the vet next to get checked out.

Leia went back for her follow-up yesterday and the doc says her mouth looks fantastic.  Although, they noticed she had a lot of wax buildup in her ears. They cleaned them and put some long-acting medication in each ear, so she's all set. She's happy to be home again.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

vacation: colonial williamsburg

Bob and I went on vacation recently to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.  We haven't been there since our honeymoon way back in 1996.  Now that we own a house from that time period--1700s--we figured we'd take a trip down and call it "research."  I've been wanting to see some houses from the time period firsthand so I can get an idea as to what the window treatments should look like, furnishings, etc. I can see it online, but it's so much better in person.

The first day was spent in the historic area.  During the day the streets are closed to cars (the employees and others live in the historic houses), so it's nice to be able to roam freely without worrying about crossing the street.  We saw most of the area that day, and I had no problem making my daily step goal by noon.  We had a very late lunch at Chowning's Tavern, which is a historic tavern.  The food was good, but I felt it was a bit overpriced for what we got. I had the Welsh Rarebit with salty ham (very salty!) and Bob had the warm roast beef wrap. I think the fact that I was able to finish my plate is a testament to the quantity of food received.  (Although, now that I look back at the menu I realize mine was actually an appetizer.)

The next day we went to the Yorktown battlefield and the new Victory Center. Yorktown is the place where the battle was won that lead to the end of the Revolutionary War. The Victory Center is new, in fact it opened the weekend we arrived. We thought it was great:  it's large, contains lots of artifacts, and is easy to navigate.  They also have a small Continental Army encampment out back, which was partially open. We got to see a canon being fired, which is always interesting. And loud! We also drove around the battlefields and walked the trenches, and also took a small walking tour led by someone from the National Park Service. I bought a book:  Washington's Spies. I love the series Turn:  Washington's Spies, and now I want to read the book.  That night we went on a ghost tour in Colonial Williamsburg.  It was more of a storytelling by actors, but it was fun nonetheless. We got to go into one of the houses, which is what I was most excited about.  Also of note:  we saw the rocket that was launched from Wallops Island in Virginia.  The rocket was sent to the International Space Station to supply the crew that's on board. I took a picture, but it's really hard to see so I didn't include it here.  It was cool to see it in-person, though. Especially in the middle of a ghost walk in a historic town, which was led by women in 18th century clothing.

The next day we took it somewhat easy and visited a few antiques stores and Yankee Candle.  I picked up an old cast iron frying pan at an antiques mall, which had been professionally cleaned and re-seasoned.  Bob bought a small match box for the fireplace mantle.  We're not sure how old it is, but it fits in with the house.  I bought a few room fragrances at Yankee Candle, but not much else.  Later on we took another ghost walking tour in the historic area.  This one was strictly outside and it told true stories of recent ghostly encounters within the historic area. It was interesting.

On our last day we went to Jamestown, which also has a new visitor center. It tells the story of the first English settlers, which arrived in Jamestown in 1607.  It was pretty good, but I enjoyed Yorktown more. Plus it was hot and we'd already had three days of walking and sightseeing. That night we grabbed some fast food and bought a few items in the general store, which was walking distance from the hotel.

We had a good time. Lots of walking. LOTS of walking, gorgeous weather, and nice sights. We also picked up a few odds and ends to bring home with us.  I bought some loose chocolate tea, which is simply roasted cacao shells. It's the first tea I've had the truly tastes like chocolate. I also bought the  chocolate mint tea, which was also delicious and had lots of flavor. I got some Virginia peanuts for my coworkers, a few t-shirts, and some others miscellaneous things. We didn't spend much on shopping.

We saw these guys upon entering the historic area. I guess the second one had had enough of me trying to take pictures and decided to trot away.

The Governor's Mansion

The Governor's Mansion garden. I paid much attention to the gardens in Williamsburg, because I'd like to do something in our large side yard that is period-correct. Gardens were modeled after English gardens and were usually laid out in a geometric pattern. Each side and/or corner mirrored the other sides/corners.

Veiw of the Governor's Mansion from the garden.

The maze in the Governor's Mansion garden. I'm glad I didn't go into it, because we can see from here that there's no way out except to go back the way you came.

This was taken at the pond in back of the Governor's Mansion. Very peaceful.

I took these in one of the historic houses, although I can't remember which one at the moment. I've discovered that either shutters or wood blinds were the window treatment of choice, and that four-poster beds with canopies were standard.

This is me in front of the Governor's Mansion. 

An 18th century garden.

I hung out with these guys for awhile at the Yorktown encampment.  

The Peyton Randolph house. Supposedly the most haunted in the area. We went inside and although I didn't witness anything, I did have an uneasy feeling a couple times, especially when I was the last one to leave the room.