Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween 2006 - The Scariest Thing Was My Chili

I usually am a pretty good cook. I specialize in spaghetti, chili, beef strogonoff, tuna casserole, macaroni and cheese, crockpot chicken and noodles, the usual cheap, calorie-ridden American eating fare. I usually make these foods rather tasty. I've been cooking them from boxes and cans since I was ten or eleven years old. But somehow, in my efforts to make chili tonight for Halloween, the dish really bombed big-time. It was nasty. Dark, bland and greasy. Yuck!!!

I think baked chicken that was my standard low-cal diet staple is starting to look better and better now that I have that greasy, nasty chili sitting in my stomach like lead.

Happy Halloween everyone! Don't tell Emmy she's too old for trick or treating. She's still happily dressing up.

We didn't have many trick or treaters this year as usual. Maybe because it was so cold? I was disappointed by the turnout, but the kids were cute as always and I had a fun time passing out candy. I tried to give them generous candy portions so I won't worsen my expanding-waistline problem!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fitness Efforts - Need to Regroup

Okay, a few weeks ago I was on here bragging about losing 8 lbs. on a well-known and expensive weight loss program that I don't want to repeat the name of because I am no longer as happy with them. I followed the program religiously from 9-27 until last week - so I was on it 4 weeks but I after the initial weight loss, which was during their "prep phase" - after when I was on their extremely low calorie restricted diet and very limited selections of food - I slowly started regaining several pounds of the weight I'd initially lost.

They wanted me to take bitter orange - a form appetite suppressant that I wasn't sure was safe to take, especially after researching it. So I refused to take it - and they said that voided my "weight loss guarantee." Plus I have some perimenopause/hormonal issues that makes dieting and losing weight even more of a challenge with weight fluctation etc. I'm going to return to a more sane, doable eating plan.

I've been depressed this week, stressed from work etc and admit that this week I've really fallen off the wagon BIG TIME. I'm talking bingeing - getting into the Halloween candy and drowning my worries in ravenous hormonal cravings for chocolate. I think my week-long pity party probably resulted in the gaining of several pounds. I'm going to find out today what I weigh - ah face the scales again. Grrrr.

The lesson learned is: there's no magic way to lose weight. It's slow. It takes constant viligence and throwing a lot of money at the problem won't make it any easier. You have to drink lots of water. Eat low lean proteins. Lot of veggies. A little fruit. No sugar, chocolate or other emtpy calories. Lots of regular exercise.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. Maybe I'll return to the Weight Watchers program, which seems to work best for me, especially the Core Program - it's basically a natural foods low carb/healthy eating list of foods that I can eat, similar to South Beach. I'm going to go shopping for the ingredients later this afternoon.

Plus I have been starting to exercise again - I was depressed yesterday so I skipped Hot Yoga on Saturday morning and spent the day with my Honey instead. But I intend to do yoga this week.

Also, my friend Mary turned me onto Zumba, a form of aerobics with Salsa and other dance moves mixed in. We had a LOT of fun there, didn't we Mary? The only downside was that I started craving Mexican food and Marguritas afterwards. But I had burned 500 calories doing the workout, so I made myself go home and drink water with lemon instead. Not as satisfying, but less calories. I could always have salsa on my veggies . . . . yeah, that's the ticket.

If you want to see how Zumba looks here's another link that demonstrates it: Zumba live.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Crazy Together - A Matched Set

I know that many of you read and enjoy, as I do, the blog CRAZY AUNT PURL. Who could NOT love Laurie and her zany sense of humor? The thing I love best about her is that she's a loveably flawed human being, like all of us, who isn't afraid to share her most vulnerable quirks to the world. Amazingly enough, what she says often reasonates so deeply with her readers. You're laughing insanely one minute, spitting your coffee on the screen, and the next minute, your heart is touched so profoundly and you ache for her. She's a lovely mix of beauty, smarts, vulnerability and Southern-grown and LA planted craziness - and she writes so compellingly that whether you're laughing or crying for her, you're WITH her all the way. She's amassed a large group of really witty and smart commenters too. So whenever I read Purl I have to read all the comments too, because they're a blast.

Now she's recently hit the "two year anniversary" of her ex-jerk-husband up and leaving her because of an insane need to "find himself" and be a superficial mystery man who nevertheless "found himself" immediately with another woman. Her heart was broken, but over the past two years, we've seen her grow and survive the heartache.

Well the other day, I think it was her October 26th entry perhaps? She's talked about a new man in her life who she's keeping pretty much on the "down low" because it's a newly developing relationship and she doesn't want to advertise it too much just yet. But she mentioned that she had him over for dinner the other night, and he picked a newspaper lying on her table and she had a disturbing flashback to her ex doing the same thing - except it was DIFFERENT because this man was really WITH her and not using the paper to ignore her and go within himself etc. Sorry, I'm sitting here rehashing the whole column, when you can/should just go there yourself and read both the essay and the comments - all 76 of them or whatever!!! It's amazing the insight Laurie has about this event, as well as the different perspectives that folks bring to it. The way they interpret it.

The readers tend to generally agree that we're all crazy in some way, both women and men, but we're not crazy in the same way. We all have "baggage" to bring from our past relationships into our current one. One commenter pointed out that in a relationship that works, you can both have baggage, but it should ideally be a matching set!!!

All this rehashing is leading me to a brief reflection on my own special relationship with my husband. He's truly a gem - a rare find and definitely a "keeper." Yes, he's crazy and I'm CERTAINLY crazy. We have habits and quirks that annoy the hell out of one another, but we've been successfully together for 21 years and I still love him all the more deeply today than I did when we were stumbling through our own relationship, trying to figure out if we could survive one another's newly-discovered craziness and baggage. I knew I liked him immediately and we just had chemistry - and I found his faults loveable as well as annoying. Through a lot of shared life experiences, including parenthood, growing through our problems and pain, we've come to share a relationship that is deeper than any other I've shared with anyone. Nothing else even comes CLOSE to the zany bond I feel with him. I think a shared life view and most of all SENSE OF HUMOR has held us together through everything.

Here's a brief story - our lovely daughter was in a big chorale event at school and she had a lovely black evening gown that the girls each wore and the dress required matching black dressy shoes which in my working-woman haste, I had totally forgotten to buy. We'd been shopping several times on weekends, but never found exactly the right shoes, and somehow down to the wire, I totally kept putting daughter off and not buying them. Well, this week, on Tuesday - it was performance night. I totally forgot again and had my cell phone abandoned in my car all day because work has been crazy. Well, the girl (who doesn't drive) frantically called her Father at work and said, "Daddy, I HAVE to have a pair of black shoes before 5 p.m. tonight. Can you buy me some black dress shoes in size 7?"

Being the wonderful man he is, he spent his lunch break frantically going to a shoe store and picking out what he thought would "look nice" for her. He got the size right. 7. The shoes fit just fine. But they were . . . . very ugly black clodhopper loafers that looked like something even my 93-year-old grandmother wouldn't wear!!! He said, "Honey, are they okay?" She didn't want to hurt his feelings so she quietly went into my closet and dug around until she found my one and ONLY pair of black party/dress shoes in a size 6 1/2. She squeezed into them and made do. When husband noticed that she didn't have on HIS shoes he'd selected, he asked her why and said, "Ah, Dad, I love you, but you bought a pair of Pilgram shoes. I can't wear those!"

My husband told me this story right before the concert started. I know it probably won't sound that funny to most people, but one of Bob's loveable quirks is his total lack of fashion sense - for men or women!!! He's the type of guy who is a total nerd and wears white socks with black pants. So knowing that he tried so hard, and his own ability to laugh at himself had us giggling all night. We'd just look at each other and whisper, "Pilgram shoes!" and we'd start laughing all over again.

I'm really glad my husband and I are a matched set. I love the luggage - especially the scuff marks. And the Pilgram shoes!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Unfinished August in October

This is the lovely autumn view of the tree outside my front window. Yes, it's October, my favorite month of the year!!! But ever since we started getting ready to move, last July, my knitting projects have pretty much been in limbo. Until this weekend, when we cleared out and closed our second . . . . drumroll . . . storage locker, I couldn't even FIND most of my knitting needles, projects and paraphenalia. However, Chelle's a much happier girl now that we're getting some things put away and in place. So, since it's been 3 months of dishevel, I feel like I'm beginning to go "back in time" 3 months and pick up on projects I started way back then.

In August, I was going to participate in Jeanie's Unfinished Object Month, but I only finished one project before having to put all knitting away in the name of household moving behaviors. Now that's this place is finally starting to feel like home (and it's a much more open floor plan), I no longer have all the nooks and crannies to store stuff into, so I must streamline my clutter. Including knitting. Yes, I know knitting is not clutter in the true sense (perish the thought!) but let's face it, a Crayon Box jacket done in pastel shades that I started 3 years ago and I'll never, ever, ever EVER finish not to mention actually WEAR has finally gotta give up the ghost. So I'm donating all that yarn to Grammy's charity yarn knitting stash. She will make much better use of it than I will.

I also finished another object, one of which I really like a lot. Both fingerless gloves of that Knitty pattern I can't remember the name of. What is it? Oh shesh, it's the one everybody in my knitting group is making that is in the summer issue of Knitty. I finshed them last weekend, just in time for the nippy morning drives to the office.

And then here's the purse I also started in August but finished and felted today. The colors may not show through well, but it's a cranberry shoulder bag with streaks of green. I love cranberry and green together!!

I'm going to buy probably a jade decorative button or clasp to put on the flap as a closure. The purse is knit double-stranded throughout. Pattern is in Ee Wiechmann's PURSEALITY PLUS: 20 FELTED BAGS on page 46 and 47 (I think I mine is much prettier than the one in the book). I also plan on sewing a cloth lining inside to make it even more usable. Yarn used was: was Cascade color 2401 and Lumpy Bumpy "Autumn" shade by Farmhouse Yarns. The thing that is unusual (and particularly nifty) about this bag is that the shoulder straps are THICK, not those thin little icord handles that are on many felted bags, and also, they are knitted into the bag from the beginning. You start with the handle side of the purse and make it like a big buttonhole technique. So the handles are knit intergrally into the purse and not added on later as an afterthought. Once I get this bag more "finished" from a lining/button perspective, I will display the bag in it's full finished glory later.

Also, look for more upcoming objects to be finished throughout the Fall. Since the weather is getting colder, I'm having a STRONG hankering to start a new sweater, and I'm going to. Next time, I'll show you the 3 sweaters I'm considering making. 2 are old favorites that I already have yarn for. A third and fourth are brand new temptations that I DON'T yet have yarn for!!!! Ah oh!!! More yarn pillaging ahead?

But in the coming month or two, I also hope to finish a few lingering projects that have been sitting around for a while. I will show you those too as they reappear from the old yarn closet and take on renewed life in the midst of falling red and gold leaves around here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rediscovering Yoga - I Love It!

I was so busy last weekend and throughout most of this week that I didn't have time to rave on here about the Hot Yoga class I took last Saturday. It was a busy errand day and I barely made it there. I seriously considered skipping the class I'd signed up for altogether.

However, I decided to bite the bullet and take the class. Boy am I ever glad I did.

When I was a young teenage girl, I started watching a PBS show called, "Lilias, Yoga and You." It featured this beautiful tall thin brunette young woman who was in amazingly good shape. She did Yoga, which I'd never heard of before, but tried to emulate her poses from my living room floor as I watched, spellbound, and wondered if I really was doing The Dog or The Lion in correct posture. I even went out and bought her book with my hard-earned babysitting money! But it was hard holding those pages down while trying to copy the contorted poses to the best of my ability. Even then, I wasn't very flexible or agile. I admired not only the physical exercise involved, but even more, the serenity that Lilias demonstrated. I, too, wanted to be that calm (I've always been high-strung).

After that brief soujourn into Yoga, I put away my Yoga mat but have remained fascinated with it (from afar) ever since. I've been hearing about this Hot Yoga craze, so I decided to try it with the class last week. It was a one-time only class that said, "Stretching postures and breathing exercises are taught in a safe environment of a heated room so that deep penetration can relieve one's body resistence without risking injury. By gently stretching muscles and joints as well as massaging the various organs, yoga ensures the optimum blood supply to various parts of the body, helping to flush out toxins. By the end of class, each person will have worked every muscle tendon, joint, ligament and glance, while moving fresh oxegeneated blood to 100% of the body. Bring Yoga mat, water and towels to class." The class was 90 minutes long.

Guess what? When I came into a dimly litted room that was very warm (about 100 degrees) and it had scented air (lavendar) with a very calm, soothing and relaxing Eastern music, I instantly loved the atmosphere. They started by instructing us on correct breathing, then the teachers led us into a gentle but sweat-drenching series of poses that flowed gently, from one to the other. When you were in the wrong posture, there were helpers there who came up to you and silently and gently guided your body into the correct posture. By the time I did 90 minutes of the most soothing, calming and spiritual workout I've ever done, I was so relaxed and serene I felted like I didn't even HAVE a body. Lilias type serenity, here I come! (By the way, I see from the Internet, that Lilias is now 64 years old, but looks wonderful and still teaches Yoga). Although Lilias' long dark braid has been replaced by a short, perky hairstyle, and she's obviously aged over the past 30+ years, she still looks fantastic.

I thought I couldn't possibly do ANY exercise for 90 minutes, but I did. The instructors showed us how alter the poses for beginners, which made everything doable without injury. We ended with a peaceful meditation. I want to do it all again!!!

Luckily there's a new yoga shop just opened up near my house. I'm going in there Saturday and signing up. I've found my perfect workout. Days later, I could pleasantly FEEL all those muscles and tendons I'd stretched. I wasn't sore, but just aware that I'd had a great workout. I'm going back for more.

I left that Yoga session more relaxed than after the full body massage my family gave me for my birthday last year. This gentle workout was WAY more relaxing and serenity-inducing than even that.

By the way, the room was scented with lavendar oil and the peaceful music they played during the session is called "Oriental Sunrise" by Riley Lee.

New Chi - Worthy of High Hair Praise

This is silly, I know, but after a week, I finally realized that my new hairdo is harder to style without a little help from the hot iron my stylist uses. So I now own my very pink Chi hair iron. Here it is:

With the help of my new fancy styling iron, I am able to style my own hair (sort of). It still takes more practice, but I'm getting there!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Guess Where I'm Going in January


Read Entry below to find out!!!

Somewhere In Time - Knitting Retreat - I'm SO THERE

Remember the delicious time travel movie called Somewhere In Time? It's one of my all-time very favorite movies (and I love movies, but this is one of my top 3). Well, there's a hotel near here called The Elms that Bob and I have visited, stayed at, and loved. I went there and talked about it several weeks ago on this blog. The reason I bring it up is because the Elms really reminds me strongly of the hotel shown in Somewhere in Time. It has that same "other century" and maybe even ghostly feel to it. Woooooooooooooooo!!!! The combination of other time/romance/mystery and a slower pace that is simply delicious to my soul.

Here's a photo I took of the porch of the Elms when we were there last time:

Why, you might ask, do I bring it up now? Because the Studio yarn shop, one of the best in the Midwest, is hosting a winter retreat at where else? The Elms!!!! Yes!!! Not only that, folks, but they are having wonderful workshops such as "Cable Purse" "Gloves" "Lace Scarf" and "Free Form" -- guess which one I'm taking? If you guessed Freeform,you would be right on target. The owner, Allie, is teaching that class and I've take a shortened version of this class once before and it turned me onto the whole possibility of Freeform and it's charms. I can't WAIT to have two days of Freeform instruction. Not to mention being with my friends at the Elms.

Let me tell you, the owners and staff of The Studio cannot be beat on their pure CLASS. When I went to Stitches Midwest 3 years ago, they treated their customers (including my Mom and I) like gold. They held a luncheon for us, they gave prizes and goody bags. They are simply amazing. And their yarn is great too. So you can't imagine how thrilled I am at the prospect of attending this retreat. I am on CLOUD 9. And I so NEED this retreat, it's the weekend of January 26th, 2007. I am so THERE.

What's better than a winter weekend of knitting, friendship, girl talk, and Freeforming? Ain't nothing better than that.

I can't wait. I'm going over to The Studio this morning and signing myself up!! It's an early birthday present to myself. Even though we're still broke, going to this retreat is extremely impt to me. I hope everyone in my knitting group can tag along. I know Laura is planning on going, and my Mom. I don't know who else is signing up yet. Mary, you going? Hope to see everyone there.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fingerless Glove - One Down and On the Second

This pattern is from the Knitty website. You can make a glove in one evening. Easy. Fast and warm. The cable on the wrist doesn't show up much in this dark charcoal color. I wouldn't do the picot bindoff near the fingers next time.

Here is a photo of Emmy and Aunt Eve - these two have such fun together.

And finally, it's Fall. I LOVE October. Here's my Fall table setting (what I love best is that I bought this dish set and glasses as well as matching mugs at the Dollar Tree for $1 each! The bargain hunter in me was well pleased):

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New DO

Well, last time, remember I got the "Uncut" - this time, I had Emily's stylist and she did an actual new style. Here is the old style:

Here's the new (much shorter) do:

Now that's what I call a REAL haircut. I'm still getting used to styling it, but I think I like the change, if for no other reason than it's different. Whenever I'm wanting a change in my external life, I go for the outside manifestations first!!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Village - Hauntingly Like Our Reality

In the wake of the terrible shootings of school girls this week in Pennsylvania, I am newly amazed by the violence and depravity our society seems to be reeling into. We caught the news of this story as it unfolded last Monday. My daughter and I were driving in the car when the news was announced on the radio. It's about the third school shooting story in the past 2 weeks, and they are all horrendous. In West Nickel, Pennsylvania, a man had entered a one-room schoolhouse of an Amish community of school children, made all the boys leave the building and systematically lined the girls up in front of the chalkboard and gunned them down executions style before killing himself. It's mind numbing. After hearing the news, my daughter turned to me and asked, "Mom, why did this happen? Did stuff this bad happen when you were growing up?"

I grew up in the 70s. Yes, there were murders then. One of my cousin's childhood friends was kidnapped from her grandmother's hotel - she simply disappeared and her body was found many years later buried nearby. There were killings. But it was an outrage. We were deeply upset as a society when it happened. And somehow, I just don't recall the constant stream of violence, cruelty, total depravity almost being commonplace like it is today. I am stunned.

And I'm wondering why we, as a society, don't feel more outraged. Have we grown numb to it? I don't know what we can do about it. Maybe it's that feeling of powerlessness that overtakes us individually and collectively. Maybe it's the insanely hectic pace of our lives that sweeps us away in our own concerns and daily rat race. I don't know, but it's really sad - and it somehow feels much different than the time when I grew up. What's different? I don't know. How are we creating such crazies in our society to do such things? I don't know.

So how does this relate to The Village? Well, our friend Patricia came to dinner last night and we watched. This is a movie by M. Night Shalyman, who produced and directed Sixth Sense (one of my all-time favorite movies). While The Village doesn't have the twist ending of Sixth Sense, in fact it's not a plot-driven movie at all. It's a romance, a suspense that has horror elements. It's an oddly haunting, 1800's period piece ironically set WHERE ELSE? Pennsylvania. Don't worry, I won't reveal the plot, but I'll just say that the movie portrays a society of innocence, very similar to the type of community where these real-life serial murders took place. The movie is about a village who have tried to shut themselves off from general society, to shelter themselves from the violence, dangers and lures of modern life. Then it's about the events that unfold as a result of that. I won't tell you more plotwise - just watch it.

The theme though is a resounding, Love drives everything important in life - and we must overcome our fears of bad things, monsters and the unknown. Because love is so strong, it's worth the risk of overcoming our fears and stepping outside the safe and innocent zone into society at large. It's also about, in my opinion, the sweet beauty of innocence and the trade-off that must be made when we venture outside the safe zone.

I hope others of you will see it and let me know if you see other angles of the story that I may have missed - or if you interpret the theme differently. The thing I liked best is that The Village is the kind of movie that makes you think - it keeps popping into my head over and over again, and that's why I will see it again today. And it's theme helps me cope with my own fears as a parent, knowing that I can't ultimately protect those I love most, yet must pray that they somehow stay safe in spite of the risks.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Oh Yeah, I've Lost 8 Pounds!

Did I mention that after going to certain big-name weight loss center I've lost 8 pounds? Yep, I'm feeling really good so far. I'm eating smaller portions. Very little salt. Lean meats. Vegetables. A couple of fruits a day. There are strict rules.

Like Elysbeth pointed out, though, the reason it's expensive is that you pay in advance for all your weeks of weight loss, stabilization and maintenance. This is added motivation for me to keep coming back and sticking to the program. Since I've paid for a whole year in advance, and have 3X weekly check-ins, it's pretty hard to "cheat". And I'm really motiviated to make this plan work.

I really need the 3 X per week weigh-in/check in with the counselor. It keeps me accountable.

Next comes exercise. I have started walking some on my lunch break but need to do lots more and want some toning exercises as well. I signed up for HOT YOGA at the community center the other day. It starts the second week of October and it's one a week. You work out for 90 minutes - 90 HOT minutes!!! We'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, I'm really happy I'm finally doing something to make me feel more in control of something - my weight if nothing else.


Getting the Mental Lead Out

Since this move, I've been SO disorganized and having trouble finding things I need. So much is stashed away in the storage locker that I can't easily get to. I'm resisting the urge to go out and re-buy things I know I have. Like my curling iron. Like my journal. Like the little cable that lets me download pictures from my digital camera onto this blog. That's one reason I haven't blogged much, because there's lot of stuff I'd like to show you, but no way of transmitting it (yet).

On a pleasant note, Aunt Eve (picture to follow later) has been in town this weekend and she's done a lot to reduce the tension around here and help us appreciate our new home. Frankly, this house has been more of a hassle than a pleasure so far, and I'm not sure how worth it the move has been. I'm not being very positive right now!!! But her sunny, fun personality has helped me see that perhaps I'm just experiencing a huge wave of change and I may need a few more weeks to mentally "settle in." Her career was interior design, so she's given us some ideas for decorating. She's also given me a mental push to just GET RID OF even more stuff to make way for a more roomy existence instead of just collecting and bringing more clutter in here from our storage locker.

My friend Patricia has also encouraged me to do that. She has been reading a Feng Shu book, called, "Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui" and it says that the clutter you keep in your life, especially that stuff from your long ago past, is literally holding past memories and "shit" into your current life. As hard as it is, you sometimes just need to release and let go. I tend to hold onto things - possessions, sentimental objects, things I MIGHT use someday (but probably seldom if ever will). I also hold onto past pain, hurt, resentment -- and when too much of that emotional crap gets built up, it just makes me snappy, bitchy and overreactive about everything. Like a case of terminal PMS, and I think that's what I'm mentally and emotionally in right now. The least little thing is setting me off.

I really need to emotionally cleanse myself and get the YUCK out of my mind and heart. Whatever you focus on in life really does increase and expand, so I need to focus on what I want to see MORE OF in my life.

The blurb for this books says, "Drawing on the success of her first book, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, Karen Kingston has met popular demand by expanding on the indispensable activity of clearing clutter. There is very little of actual Feng Shui here, and certainly nothing you can't get elsewhere, but the clutter problem gets full and complete treatment. Kingston reminds us that clutter is stuck energy that keeps you stuck in undesirable life patterns. Therefore, you can "sort out your life by sorting out your junk." Kingston covers the reasons we keep things as well as the amazing stories of people who have cleared their clutter away. More than just junk, clutter is all those things that have negative symbology and that collect stagnant energy. This latter can also apply to bodily, emotional, and spiritual clutter, all of which Kingston describes with characteristic passion. In an age of accumulation, it's good to see a book that frees up life again.

I am going out today and buying that book!!!!!