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.