Monday, January 30, 2012

Knitting is Like Dieting

(I know the title sounds like a stretch, but bear with me here...)

I may have mentioned a time or three that I started knitting.  Well, I am getting close to being finished with the scarf (mainly because I'm running out of yarn), but I wondered if there was a standard size for knitted scarves, so I went to my trusty Google for the answer.  Huh.  Did you know there is not only a recommended length (scarf = height of wearer) but also a width?  That probably would have been a good thing to check before I started knitting my scarf...but oh well, I'm more of a "start now, ask questions later" type of person.  Kind of how I began my diet - I knew that I wanted to lose weight, so I started a diet, and over time, read up on how different people succeeded and adapted my own plan along the way.

Back to my scarf - I'm pretty pleased with how it's turning out.  While I did drop a stitch twice, I caught it right away and thus avoided making a slanty, lopsided scarf.  It doesn't roll inward - pretty sure that has something to do with the basic "knit, knit, knit" pattern that I did.  I'm looking forward to making another one, this time with chunkier yarn and bigger needles.  I might even try to throw in some purl stitches!  Oooh,

So here's the thing:  I watched a YouTube video that showed how to knit a cap, and while it's way beyond my current abilities, the person demonstrating was so clear in her instructions that I can envision myself actually doing this someday.  Confidence level - high.

A little later, I went to a knitting website. I started reading the forums on knitting and got completely lost - there are abbreviations that I don't understand, and people were talking about patterns and all sorts of things that might as well be a foreign language to me.  I could feel myself shutting down, thinking "I'll never attempt anything other than a scarf" - and my confidence level went down to zero.

How is it possible to go from such a high to such a low in a matter of minutes?  Then I remembered how, when I was in the middle of my diet, I'd be feeling on top of my game - I was eating great, drinking tons of water, feeling not only good about myself, but just good in general - healthy, energetic, ready to conquer the world - and then I'd get a reality check in the form of a weigh-in that didn't show a loss, or in the dressing room, where clothes STILL didn't look great on me.  Amazing how fast my entire demeanor would change - I'd go from "heck yes, I'm DOING this!!!" to "I'll never get this, I'll never lose weight, I'll never ever ever change" - yet the only thing that had actually changed in that moment was my mindset.

It takes time to learn how to knit.  I don't possess great manual dexterity skills (just ask anyone who's watched me iron, chop vegetables, or sew), and I need a lot of practice to get the stitches right.  It got easier for me because I picked up the needles and yarn just about every evening and worked at it.  Starting a diet is similar - things feel awkward at first.  I'd set out with good intentions to eat right, but old habits, and sometimes just plain hunger, kicked in, and I'd find myself eating something that wasn't on my plan.  However, my diet eventually got to be second nature for me.  And even though something will throw me (knitting - casting on; dieting - stress eating), and shake my confidence (knitting - foreign language of patterns; dieting - when oh when will my blobby stomach EVER get smaller), deep down I know that I will continue to improve if I just keep working at it.  And that, my friends, is how knitting is like dieting!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Mishmash

We had a really bad storm blow in early Wednesday morning.  Jeff and I were at a (very) early breakfast meeting for the running club, and while we could see that the rain, wind, thunder and lightening was bad, we didn't realize just HOW bad it was until we drove we turned into our neighborhood, trees were down, branches were all over, fences were down...we wondered if a tornado had touched down!  We had one big branch fall, which was a miracle considering all the trees we have.  And we could see that part of our fence was down.  Quite lucky as other areas had some pretty major damage.  That afternoon, once it stopped raining, I went out to take a picture of the fence.  Paco (of course) went through, right into my neighbor's backyard.  But then he didn't come back.  I walked closer and discovered that there was a lot more damage - multiple fences were down all the way to the church that is close to our subdivision...and yes, my dog decided to get a little religion.  The church is on the access road to the highway/freeway/bypass/whatever they call it in Texas, so needless to say, he wasn't allowed outside again until that evening, after Jeff and I got the fence propped back up.
 There he goes...
He came back and was making his escape again.  Luckily Paco is pretty good at coming when called (and gets rewarded with treats which MAY have something to do with that, lol), but still.  Too much freedom for that dog!

I felt bad that Paco was home alone during the storm, because the day before, when thunderstorms rolled in, he was shaking and sticking to me like glue - here he is, under my desk, sitting on my feet and leaning on my legs:
No liek thunder.  Make it stop pleeze.


Since Jeff has not been traveling as much lately, I'm actually cooking dinner more often...I know, it's shocking to me, too!  Anyway, I've finally gotten on the roasted veggies trend - Helen usually cooks up a pan on Sunday and eats them throughout the week.  I don't know how she makes it last, as Jeff and I managed to eat the entire thing in one meal!  My favorite has been carrots - these are so simple to make and yet taste like you really worked hard!
Take some sea salt, pepper, seasoning mix, and oil...
Toss it around peeled and sliced carrots...
Roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes - easy and delicious!


My Sit and Knit diet continues.  Look at how far I've come with my scarf!
Much like when I started my diet, I'm trying to not look at the massive amount of yarn I have yet to knit and instead, enjoying the process and the rewards as I go - with diet, it's "ooh, look at the new size!" and with this scarf, it's "ooh, look at the new color!"

I am determined to NOT have it become this:


Finally, I saw this ad in a magazine and thought of Fran:
OPI's nail polish names are always so fun - this collection includes Kiss Me on My Tulips, Gouda Gouda Two Shoes, Thanks a WindMillion, Wooden Shoe Like to Know, and Dutch 'Ya Just Love OPI?  Why yes, I do!  I'll be thinking of Fran next time I get a pedicure because I'm definitely going Dutch with my next color!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - Helen is a Meanie Edition!

To explain the title of this post, here's some excerpts of emails that went between me and Helen on Monday afternoon:
Me:  I have been doing so good with my workouts since last Wednesday and now?  Supposed to be 80% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow and Wednesday, which shoots to hell both running (ok, walking) and swimming!  Hard to believe it now, as it's sunny and clear.  Boo on stupid weather. 
Helen:  If I was you and swam this morning and saw that my walk tomorrow was going to be cancelled due to weather, I would go out and walk tonight.  To me, it's important to get the movement in and if you have to double up one day that's OK!
Me:  You are crazy.  Exercise TWICE in one day?  What kinda crack are you smoking?!?  You know, that option never occurred to me.  Seriously.  Why would it?  Isn't it enough that I exercised ONCE???  LOL.  I am actually cracking up at your suggestion, only because it sounds so absurd that I never, ever would have thought it up myself!
Of course, after that, you know I had to get out and walk/run that night.  Jeff was agreeable, so after dinner we set out - luckily I'd made big salads so we weren't exercising on a full stomach.  By the way, I've given Helen a new name:  Dolvelen.  Because she's taking on the taskmaster status of Biggest Loser trainer Dolvett. And actually?  I appreciate it.

Getting back to my promise from last week, here's a picture that I am happy to show you:
Much better!

I am getting my exercise mojo back - and I like it!  And, dare I say it - I've even had a glimmer of hope with running!  I've been doing 10:1 intervals (walking for 10 minutes, running for one minute) and on Sunday?  The ankle didn't hurt very much.  I just might be able to do this.
A windswept "thumbs up" to that run/walk!

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Diet!

Over the weekend I discovered a whole new diet.  And, if you follow it, not only will you lose weight, but you'll end up with fabulous items to keep you warm and toasty!  Which you will need once the weight comes off, because once you lose that body fat, you end up being cold all the time.  Win-win, right?

So, what's the miracle diet?  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Sit and Knit diet.  Items needed include:
  • knitting needles
  • yarn
  • comfortable chair
  • TV with remote
Optional item:  computer with internet access so you can view YouTube demos on how to do various stitches.

Notice I did not include any food.  That's because when you are knitting, both hands are busy and you can't be eating!

OK, this is a little facetious, but in all seriousness, having something that keeps my hands busy (and they have to be's bad enough that there is dog and cat fur being drawn into my scarf - I wouldn't want food crumbs, too) and my mind occupied, between having to pay attention to what I was knitting AND to what I was watching on TV (Downton Abbey - first season is on Netflix and I thoroughly enjoyed it) is a winner in my book.  Now, I will admit that all that sitting got to be a bit much, but this is also why it's the perfect all-around diet, because after a while, you actually WANT to get up and exercise!  Win-win-win!

After hours of sitting and knitting, what do I have to show for it?  Here ya go:
Um yeah.  It doesn't look like much, but see all that loose yarn?  This piece was much wider and longer, but I decided that it was too wide for a scarf, so I unraveled it and started over.  

So what do you think - is the Sit and Knit diet the hottest new thing?  Do you think The Biggest Loser or Richard Simmons would endorse it?  LOL, probably not.  But hey - I had an empty house this weekend, and it not only kept me busy, but I stayed on track with my healthy eating, which was exactly what I needed!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Mishmash

Blogger finally has made it so that I can reply individually to comments - woohoo!  Previously, I've emailed commenters with replies, but that doesn't always work since some of you don't link your email to your comment...but that won't be an issue now.  So if you've asked a question in your comment, check back later for my response.  Thanks for getting on board with this, Blogger!


Granola-making central - I finally bought some pretty jars instead of leaving the bags of oatmeal, etc., on my counter.

In the "My Mind, I Miss It" news, I want to tell you about my complete failure at making granola lately.  I've been making this stuff for just about a year now on a regular basis...I don't even need to look at the recipe anymore, I make it that often.  So imagine my surprise last week when I burned the batch I was making.  What happened?  I normally bake it for a total of 30 minutes, stirring after every 10 minutes.  At the 20 minute mark, it was dark brown.  Thought I would be able to live with it, but was just too burned for my taste.  I went to the store and replenished my ingredients, and made another batch.  This time?  Incinerated it.  What was happening?!?  Not only was I frustrated at wrecking two batches of granola, I was getting mad at the waste of money - it's not super expensive, but it IS if you make it inedible!  After I calmed down, I got out the recipe to double-check it and try again.  First thing I read:  preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Which I was doing...oh wait.  I had it at 400.  Well.  That would explain it.

In related news, roasted carrots, which are amazing, go in a 400 degree oven.

And if this is what I'm like now, I pity my future caretakers.


This summer, we will have Jeff's car paid off - the plan was to then replace my 10-year-old Explorer, which is definitely showing its age, with a new car...preferably a Mini Cooper.  I can't help it - I think they are just so cute, and after years of driving a big vehicle (this Explorer is our third one, so you can see that I've been in a big car for a long time), I'm ready for a sporty car.  However, the Minis are a tad more expensive than the Fords that we've been driving.  So we decided to hold off for another year and put what we have been spending on the monthly car payment toward a down payment on the Mini.  Fiscally responsible, right?

Well.  We started chatting about all the things we could do with that money - new carpet, a couple of small trips (canoe for Jeff, back east for me), getting to Maui in January '13 so Jeff can run the Maui half marathon...long story short (and really, the story of our lives) - we manage to spend extra money 10 times over!  But we came up with a solution:
A lottery ticket, once a week, for the next year.  SURELY we'll win enough for everything and the car, right?!?  (btw, this one?  not a winner.)


These aren't the greatest pictures because I was trying to hurry before Paco realized what I was doing (and then scare the squirrel away, which he did about three seconds later), but this squirrel was rapidly shoving leaves into his mouth, and then ran up the tree with them.  Building a nest up high?  I never realized that they did this!
Squirrels - endless source of entertainment for both me and Paco!


I mentioned last week that we inadvertently redecorated our family room.  The story behind that is that for Christmas, our kids gave us money toward buying a new flat-screen TV - we still had an old boxy one, and they thought we should join the 21st century.  We found one that wasn't too expensive (since we still had to make up the balance) and bought it.  Put it on our old TV stand (which actually was Sam's from when he was in high school) and saw that it was too wide.  So after our visit with Debby last month, we went Ikea to look for a bigger TV stand...and got inspired to redo the room, especially when we realized that the stuff we were looking at wasn't that expensive (it's Ikea, after all), and with all the hours I'd worked at my seasonal job, we had the money for it.  We sketched out a couple of floorplan ideas, bought two chairs and brought them home, measured the room to be sure the wall system we were looking at would fit, drove to a different Ikea (Round Rock) to get the couch and a small table, painted the room, then went to the Frisco Ikea last weekend to get the wall system.  (As an FYI, there are three Ikea's in the state of Texas and we've now been to all of them.)

This room has been a hard one to place furniture in - it has a big fireplace, a really high wall, a wall of windows, and is open to the kitchen.  We looked at doing a wall system when we first moved in, but they ran around $2000 - and we still would have needed more furniture to finish the room.  So we sort of piecemealed it over the years - it was never anything that we were particularly thrilled with, but that room just wasn't a priority.  Heck, we didn't even have window coverings!  It's kind of embarrassing, but over time, it was easy to ignore.  But now, we are really pleased with how the room looks - about time, as we've lived in this house for over 11 years!

Here's what we did:
The chairs and loveseat are new; the round table between the chairs was my nightstand, and we've had the other round table for a while, too.  All from Ikea.
The windows are wider than standard, which is why I never spent the money to cover them - even a simple curtain rod was super-expensive.  But Ikea has this nifty wire system for around $13, and these curtains were only $15 for the pair.  I like how it finishes the window.  BTW, my mom (and probably Debby) would be horrified to know that these curtains come really long so you can hem them to your desired length...with iron-on hem tape.  Worked perfectly for me, but I imagine others might cringe at this method.
Love seat by Ikea, pillow by Target.  Hey, we spread the love!  I like this shot because you can see the kitchen table (which we bought when Max moved out in 2008) - this entire area feels much lighter and more airy now.
The TV that started it all, and the wall system - actually, it's the Billy bookcases, with doors.  There is room for all of our DVDs in the TV stand (only filled up one drawer - granted, we don't have a ton, but still, it held more than I thought), and lots of space for books in the lower halves of the bookcases.
The reading corner (because that's the only place with a lamp, lol) - the top lifts off the square table and I have our extra throws inside.  
Love how the large painting looks with the more neutral wall color - it used to be purple.  Jeff thinks we need something hanging in the space above the TV...I've thought about doing some photos on canvas with the pets.  Still not sure what I'm going to do there.  And maybe we should get a large planter/plant to go in front of the outlet on the wall next to the fireplace?  Plus, of course, I need more stuff in the display case.  While I have a lot, it turns out that most of my things are on a smaller scale and "disappeared" when I put them on the shelves.  No rush - finding things will be part of the fun!

Hard to believe that we had no intention of doing anything like this a month ago, but this is pretty much how we roll...random and a bit impulsive.  Oh, in case you've forgotten, here's an outtake from a pretty recent Fashion Friday shot to refresh your memory of the room:
Normally we don't have folding lawn chairs in the family room, but Jeff likes to bring them in when the kids come home...hopefully NOW he won't feel the need to do that.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Workout...Update?

When I am on a roll with my exercise, be it group workouts, running, swimming, or even just going for a bike ride every evening, I'm on autopilot.  I don't have to think about it; I just automatically get up, get dressed and go.  And I like it that way.  Makes for much less mental fatigue, and I prefer that over being at the point where it's not the actual fatigue from exercise that is stopping me, but simply my own mind.

As you might have guessed, I'm not on autopilot this week.  I could cut myself some slack, because we traveled over the weekend, and Monday was a holiday, with Jeff being home, where we he built our new wall system.  I could have gone to the pool...but I didn't.  I could have gone out for a long walk...but I didn't.  I did get a bunch of laundry done and the house put back in order now that Max has gone back to Denton, but let's face it, if doing chores worked as exercise, I never would have been overweight, right?

See, this is why I hate to get out of my routine.  It's so hard to get back into it!  And the thing is?  I actually like it when I'm in the middle of my workout, whatever it is (ok, not so much with the burpees, but I don't have to do those anymore).  It's just the beginning that is such a mental challenge to me.  But this ends now.  Next Wednesday, I want to post a picture of my neglected training journal with workouts actually filled in.  Because I like to exercise.  I do, I really do!  I just haven't been acting like it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

An Incomplete Pictorial Recap of the Weekend

Incomplete because many hours were spent driving up and down the great state of Texas, and frankly, showing you the Subway in Waco, the rest stop near Waxahachie, or the gas station in Hillsboro isn't all that interesting.  And you probably know what Ikea looks like.  But because it's late on Sunday night, we just got home a little while ago, I'm deeply regretting the decision to order and consume some fried jalapeƱos (oof, the nausea) and I'm not only tired but topic-less, this is the best I can do...your regularly-scheduled weight-loss and fitness blogging will resume on Wednesday, I promise.

This was a quick trip to Denton, to deliver our (not very) old couch to Max, to help install the new car stereo we gave him for Christmas to replace the old one that had been stolen when his car window was smashed about two years ago, and to run by Ikea to get the new wall system for our family room redo.  Max had gotten a ride home the day before, and arrived at his apartment complex to see his car looking like this:
Seriously?!?  Nothing was taken, because nothing (but some trash) was in it...I swear, he can't catch a break with this car.  Which is a '95 Corolla.  That he paid $500 for.  Counting the last window, and this one, we've nearly put back that into the car in new flippin' windows!!!
Some of the glass on the ground.  By the time we arrived, he had the car at the shop, getting the window replaced.  So no radio installation.  Now, the car was left there unattended for a month while he was home for Christmas break, but STILL.  You do not want to know the words I had for the @#$% who did this.
In happier news, Max and Jeff brought the new couch into his apartment.
And Jeff promptly tested it out.  Yep, still comfortable.
Max showing that Sam doesn't hold the patent on making goofy faces for the camera.
This picture is really for my mother (Hi Mom!) to show her the latest piece of art that I had framed - the one on the right (as well as the one in the middle) are watercolors that my Grandmother painted.  We all got to choose some of her work after she died, and I spent the last few months finally getting everything matted and framed.  Art for Christmas, woohoo!
Who needs four computer monitors?  A computer science major, that's who...

After we finished up at Max's place, we headed over to Sam's, where he was busy building a quieter computer:
Showing me his anti-static wrist thingie (apparently a necessity when working with electronics).
I think he's reading the instruction manual!
Yep.  Still the king of goofy faces.
These are two of my Grandmother's pictures that I had framed and matted for Sam - I'm really impressed at how nicely everything came out.  It's hard to pick mat colors; feels like such a permanent decision!  Luckily I had help at the framing place.

We went to Ikea Sunday morning, where we got what we needed and checked out in record time.  I was amazed.  We loaded up the car, had lunch all together at Smashburger (where I made the aforementioned regrettable decision to order the fried japaleƱos - so dumb!  since having my gallbladder removed in 2009, I can't eat anything fried except for french fries...everything else makes me nauseated like crazy.  last time I had fried crap was over two years ago - you'd think I'd learn, but no.  argh, I frustrate myself!), and drove home.  Jeff started assembling the wall system, with a supervisor:
"You following directionz?"
"Already bored.  What dog doing?"
"Watching bright light on camera.  Also waiting for cookie."

OK, thanks for bearing with me on such a random post.  Have a good day, and remember, stay away from deep-fried foods - they're the devil. :(

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Mishmash

My cats are weird.  Henry and Kip do not get along.  Well, it's Kip who gets all agitated.  Henry could care less.  The other morning, I was lying in bed (I was not being lazy - it really was early)(Jeff had gotten up at 4am to leave for an out-of-town job)(no one would willingly get up at 4am, right?) and I heard Kip yowling and hissing at Henry.  When he wouldn't stop, I finally got up to separate them...and guess what?  Kip was on one side of our dining room window, and poor Henry was on the other side - yes, HE was outside.  Kip just doesn't like him, and that was not in my plans when we adopted both of them at the same time, from the same cage at the animal shelter.  Companion kittens/cats, that's what I was going for.  More like Cain and Abel is what I got.  Anyway, they make for fun photography subjects - here's the latest:

Henry in his favorite spot - Paco's chair:
Time for a little grooming...
But not if you are going to watch me, lady!  Sheesh - can't a cat get a little privacy?!?

And then there's Kip, who never met a ladder he didn't climb:
Partway through our family room project - inspector Kip was on the job!
Seriously, I know this is what he's thinking!
Harder to tell, but he's on another ladder - this shot was taken in 2006.  Kippers loves it when we paint the house - it's laddertime, baby!

In the interest of equal time, here's Paco:
His bed isn't enough - now he needs my new throw!
Such a sweet face - how could I deny him anything?


Recently, I won a giveaway from Rachel, who blogs at Losing It!  The prize was winner's choice of a spice blend from Savory Spice Shop - one of her favorite places to find inspiration for cooking.  She is a newlywed, and they gave away spice blends as wedding favors - cute idea, right?!  Anyway, I chose Spiced Vanilla Bean Sugar, which I'm going to try in my granola (instead of using brown sugar).  Rachel also sent some Baker's Brew Coffee Spice along with a recipe for Caramelized Coffee Spiced Chicken - sounds good and pretty easy to make (a big criteria when it comes to me and cooking, lol).
She also threw in a couple of extra goodies - check out the cool test-tube packaging!  These will be fun to try next time we fire up the grill.

Thanks, Rachel!


Finally, I leave you with this video - $hit Women Say to Personal Trainers.  Max found it - I died laughing when I watched it.   Also, I think I owe Brad, my former trainer, an apology...


Have a great weekend - we are off to Ikea (yet again) to hopefully get the wall/TV system for our family room...should be *fun* as it looks like they are having a huge event - ack, crowds!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - Fear Factor Edition

I injured my ankle on January 15, 2011.  Nearly a year later, I've finally been given the green light to go ahead and start walking for exercise, adding some running as I tolerate it.  I'm sure you all understand how excited I am about this - finally, there is true hope and light at the end of this tunnel...who ever would have thought that a stupid ankle injury would sideline me from running for a year?!?

So I've gone for several walks, with a bit of running thrown in.  And each time?  I'm scared.  It hurts, and I am immediately convinced I've done major damage to that ankle.  I guess that is normal, coming off of such a long injury and surgical recovery (or at least I'm going to pretend it's normal, lol).  To ease my mind and convince myself that I'm not doing any damage to the ankle, I'm having to individually evaluate each ache.  Sounds ridiculous (and I feel like a baby, doing this), but I spent so much of last year trying to not make my ankle worse - it's hard to make the transition to "it's okay to hurt a little."  I walked for 30 minutes last week, and threw in a couple of very short bursts of running (think 1 - 2 minutes) just to see how the ankle did.  I had discomfort, but my orthopedist told me that I would...and that eventually it would go away.  So fine.  I was just ecstatic at the thought of running again!

On Saturday, with an unseasonably warm temperature of 70 degrees, Jeff and I set out for a 3 mile walk at the scary statue park.  My goal was to run for a minute every 10 minutes (I guess you would call that intervals, but I was trying to be all casual and just sort of sneak some running in there)(like my ankle wouldn't notice it)(spoiler alert: it did).  I did fine for the first three times of running (and I'm talking a really slow jog, folks), but the fourth time?  Yeah, that hurt quite a bit, so I stopped the running.  Finished the 3 miles, though.  This week I'm only walking - trying to build up a base and get my muscles used to this again.  And I'm back to swimming (as long as the temps don't dip below 40 - that's my "it's too dang cold!" cutoff point).  I have visions of being a cross-training fool soon...and of course, having the body that comes along with all that work.

Pictures from Saturday:
Hello Ricky Bobby, remember me?  I know you wanna go fast, but this was all I could manage...hang with me and we'll go fast(er) soon.
 It was warm enough that the cold coconut water afterward was quite welcome!
Do feet have muscle memory?  It took a bit to get them used to this whole "walking/running" idea.
The newest statue at the park - this one isn't so scary - maybe because he's not pointing a gun like all the others?  He's a WWII airman, sculpted to resemble the first President Bush.
 Kinda looks like him...
 Nope, the helmet doesn't come off!
My walking partner.  Maybe one of these days, my running partner?