Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back From the Abyss

What is the worst thing you can do to your blog?  Create a crazy background with brightly colored text?  Upload 347 unflattering pictures of yourself doing mundane things like cleaning out the litter box (wait, some people may actually find that interesting).  Pretend you're perfect and don't have to do things like mundane-kitty-cleaning chores? 

No, the worst I could probably do has been done:  I haven't blogged in months.  And I don't even have a real good reason for it.  My work schedule got a little hectic and let's face it - some of my best blog work has been done during work down-time.  So that's a little bit of an excuse.  And my grandmother passed away about a month ago, so I've had a lot of "down" time in that way as well.  But in spite of all that, I should have been able to show up. 

But there's not self loathing going on here today.  Or tomorrow.  I'm just going to show back up! 

Tomorrow.  (Or maybe just later today.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's Been a Long Cold Lonely...

Winter Week.

Yes, I did neglect posting anything for four days.  I actually started this post (in my mind) on Saturday, but oh how time flies when you're singing the blues. 

Last week was filled with stress; mostly stress of another person, but stress anyway.  The stress caused major breakdowns in communication, lack of respect shown to one another, and plenty of hurt feelings. 

But last week wasn't all bad:  we were surprised Easter morning by our first two calves of the season.  I've since named them Lolo and Double Stuff.  In contrast to last year's calving season, these two came into the world without a problem and without any help from us.  (Go ahead, ask me and sometime I'll tell you the story about the first time this city girl helped pull a calf) 

Then came Friday evening.  Things started out well.  Double Stuff has to be fed a bottle a couple of times a day to supplement his mother's milk, so I headed out after work to check on the ladies (that's the cows) and see if anyone else was making plans on adding to the little herd.  Seeing no calf parts hanging out, I headed inside to mix up a bottle for the little guy.  When I came back out and called for the little calvie (that's what Merv calls him) I looked up to see a slimy newborn calf on the ground next to his mama.  I happily fed Double Stuff while checking out the new guy and called my mom to tell her about my day.  Then I went for a walk to check on our other animals, including these two:

{Caliope & Firefox, around 8 weeks old, July 2009}

Firefox had not been well and had been hit with some medication the day before.  (Caliope is another story because I think she's gone the way of most girl barn cats and gotten herself preggers).  So I went to find him, calling "here kitty, kitty" but hopeful because as I'd held him the night before he'd been purring more, and breathing easily, and seemed to be getting back to his old self.  Sadly, I did find him, but he was no longer alive.  Still on the phone with my mom, I chose to focus on the happiness of a new calf, even though I was talking to the woman in the world most likely to understand my emotions. 

Eventually, I hung up, insisting that I needed to go start dinner.  Instead I needed to call Merv, tell him the bad news and try not to be upset about not getting the cat to the vet sooner.  After the phone call I found myself alone with my grief and wondering why I was so attached.  I was just a stupid barn cat, right?  But Firefox was so much more.  Last summer, Merv and I both lost our dogs to illness or accident.  These two kittens came on the scene not long after and filled that empty space I found every time I went outside.  Firefox especially was very loyal despite being a tom cat.  It was a long winter of finding days when it was tolerably warm enough to sit outside or in the workshop and hold these wannabe lap cats.  I never tired of giving them fresh food every morning, putting that food away at night to keep the pests from it;  of finding the old "dogloo" and filling it with straw and tucking it into the warmest corner of the barn for them to sleep in;  of running their water dish under the hot tap to melt away the chunk of ice and make room for fresh water.  It was all the reward I needed to see them playing in the spring sunshine, grown and cuddly.  And so happy that warm weather meant the return of me sitting outside watching the sun go down with two cats fighting for space on my lap. 

{Firefox, March 2010}

In the midst of memory there is grief, and it is more than grief that weighs on my heart.  I have a unusually strong compassion when it comes to suffering animals.  Sure, we all get a little misty when we hear Sara McLaughlin singing while flashes of too-thin animals appear on screen, but I weep.  At night, when those commercials come on and I'm alone in bed, I have to change the channel because the images haunt me.  When I see an animal on the side of the road my heart breaks, and it's all because I find myself "inside the head" of the animal.  I think about who they belonged to.  I think about what they were doing, how they were feeling.  And more often than not, I wonder if they were scared, hurting and alone when they died.  Now I was feeling that as I thought about my orange and white cat with an old soul.  I thought about the serene look on his face whenever I held him close and couldn't stand to think of the look on his face when I found him.  It was a long night.  And a long weekend.  And it's been a long week. 

But now I can write about it and I'm able hold back the tears.  I don't know if our pets will greet us in Heaven (and I'm not here to debate it) but I like to imagine that God knew a little girl in heaven, maybe a brown eyed red head like me, who just wanted a kitty to cuddle with.  I think God found the best one we could spare down here. 

{Firefox, March 2010}
Rest in peace, my purr-y furry friend, rest in peace.

P.S.  In case you wonder what a funeral, a holiday, a week of stress topped off by grief does for my weight loss:  I had a gain of 1.2 at Saturday's weigh in.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What'cha Doin With All Those Eggs? ::Thrifty Thursday::

Do you, like probably half the households in America, have a truck load of pastel or brightly colored eggs at your house?  Read on, Easter survivors, read on.  It's time for another round of Thrifty Thursday.  The day of the week when I take all of the advice I've gleaned during the week and filter the best of it to you. 

WHAT I FOUND:  If you eye those hard boiled eggs every morning thinking they'd make a nice breakfast, this article from All Headline News can tell you why it's a great idea.  WHAT I GET OUT OF IT:  Other than a way to use up some of those leftover eggs, a new motivation to make time in my morning routine for a breakfast that includes eggs.  In fact, I think I'd like ot try having at least one egg or egg product in my breakfast everyday for a week to see how it effects my hunger and weight loss. 

WHAT I FOUND:  Support for snacking!  (And while the article doesn't center on eggs as much as the previous find, they play a supporting role.) WHAT I GET OUT OF IT:  Just some excellent snack ideas.  I am definitely a "type of food" snacker.  I crave salty (soup), sweet (half grapefruit sprinkled with brown sugar and broiled) or creamy (Jello-O Mousse Temptations) so the list of ideas they provide is categorized nicely.  As a plus, they provide one more way to get rid of those eggs - hard boiled egg for an 80 calorie snack!

WHAT I FOUND:  A dieter's guide to dessert.  Because let's face it, snacks are not really the course I have trouble with, it's what comes after the dinner that my or may not include eggs.  WHAT I GET OUT OF IT:  All of the tips are helpful, though possibly difficult to implement in my life. The one that hit my the hardest though was tip #4: Know dessert when you see it. 

Alright, looks like I've focused too much on food here, how about some fitness?

WHAT I FOUNDFor Better Muscle Tone: Go Lighter?  Or Load Up?  WHAT I GET OUT OF IT:  Turns out I need to be dialing up the weight on my Body Pump barbell. 

No "Find of the Week" this time because now that I've mentioned one Les Mills class, I feel the need to talk about another.  Tonight will be my first Body Attack class with the latest release.  Okay, maybe this is proof that I'm getting addicted to this exercise thing since I'm so excited for new tracks - but there are worse vices a girl could have, right?  Here's a breakdown of what I can expect to be put through tonight:
We’ll kick off with the huge hit Evacuate The Dancefloor and then Don’t Upset The Rhythm as you’ll Pony your way through Track 2.
Are You Gonna Go My Way? Track 4 brings an inspiring Rock feel that will push you to your first cardio peak, blocking high balls on the volleyball court. Do you like Track 5? I know I Like It! This song will motivate you through all those Push Ups and the Superman stability training.
Game on in Track 7! Get ready for some true American football training with the Dodge Hops and the Heisman, to fend off your opponents. The sports-inspired training is all about improving your speed, agility and fitness. Are you in?
Next, feel the Freedom in the Interval Track. Keep your posture strong and give it all you’ve got in the Knee & Kick Combo. The options are there if you need them.
You are the champion in Track 9. Keep on fighting till the end! We’ve got some intense work targeting your legs, butt and core before we Cooldown to Hold My Hand.**
Doesn't that sound like fun?  (Now if it does, and you actually live closeby, come with me!  It's free this week) 

**From Totally Les Mills (

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Hear a Sound

Oh yeah, I love thunderstorms.

Do you remember, in the movie The Lion King, when Scar responds to Mufasa's name by saying "oooo... Mufasa" and shudders? That's the way I react to thunder. (…except my reaction is not sarcasm born out of destructive jealousy.)

So we have a nice collection of thunderstorms coming through the area today but I’m not sure it will amount to more than a few of those low sweet rumblings. I will have to be happy with what we’ve gotten though, despite the fact that I’m the kind of girl who gets disappointed when the weathermen tell me the storm is breaking up or will pass me by. Maybe I’ve missed my calling and should be a storm chaser.

The weekend was a busy one but Friday’s efforts paid off. I did make it to the Weight Watchers center to find out I was down 1.8 pounds last week. That brings my average up to over a pound a week and I love it. I’m settling in for the distance and mentally preparing myself to let the weight come off at a reasonable weight. I still haven’t decided, however, whether or not I will continue to go to meetings or go for it online.

Anyone out there have feedback? Have you been in Weight Watchers? If so, do you prefer meetings or online? How about other weight loss methods, do you prefer to go it alone or have group support and accountability?

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Frenzied Friday! (And a Follow me one, Too!)

Hello friends.

I'm not normally the girl to toot her own horn about my fitness or nutrition accomplishments, but today I have to:  I made it to a 5:30 am class.  Yay me!  Not to mention I had to get up at 4:30 to do it.  Why so early?  Because we are taking a little one night trip out of town tonight and I had to pack and get ready!  In addition, I need to be leaving now to get on the road.  So just a quick update.  Going to weigh in today before leaving town since I"ll be gone in the morning.  (Can you say commitment?)

Oh and hey - it's a Follow Me Friday at the Trendy Treehouse

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Slimspiration, Motivation & a Spokesperson ::Thrifty Thursday::

WHAT I FOUND: Some slimspiration from six women who each flipped a simple dietary switch that set off a chain reaction of positive effects, from getting glowing skin to losing 130 pounds.  WHAT I GET OUT OF IT: The connection between whole grains and clearer skin (at least for one reader).  It's enough motivation for this shiny faced bread lover!

WHAT I FOUND: A way to train with celebrity trainer Nicole Stuart for pennies a day.  WHAT I GET OUT OF IT: A body like Kate Hudson's.  Okay, not really.  But I do think it looks like a great tool for on the go fitness.

WHAT I FOUND:  A roadmap and navigation system for avoiding the potholes and finding the fresh choices at the Sub Shop. WHAT I GET OUT OF IT:  A calm assurance that adding cheese to my sandwich isn't taboo (it's also not a reason to switch from Roast Beef to Meatball Marinara) plus a few menu items that are always a good idea.

Weight Watchers has a new spokesperson, and she looks great.  Head over to and check out Jennifer Hudson's success.

What good advice have you found this week?  Share your links with me below!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Derailed by Peeps (and other Easter goodies)

Saturday started out so well.  You will recall from the previous post that I made it to Weight Watchers.  I even ate a healthy breakfast and made it to the gym.  And then I went home to do some baking for Sunday.  I may or may not have made three different things.  Those may or may not have included Rice Krispy treats.  And after forming the treats I may or may not have had to clean my fingers (by eating the sticky gooey-ness off my hands).  So the weakness of the weekend begins as I lose all count of how may Bites, Licks and Tastes I have as I finish those treats and make and frost a birthday cake before heading out to a wine tasting. 

I could also sum up that entire paragraph by saying, "I'll be eating a lot of salad this week."  Because I refuse to spend any energy focused on negative self talk about whether or not I behaved myself this wekend.  I'll just assume all of my 35 weekly allowance points are gone and move on.  And move more.  Hello gym, here I come 5 days this week.

Now to reward you for making it this far in my post I present you with the pictures I promised.  As I mentioned over the weekend, I wasn't making just your run-of-the-mill crispy rice bars, I was making Easter goodies!  The idea is simple (and probably as many ways of doing it as there are people who have tried it).  Here's what I did
  • Fill the cups of regular muffin pay 3/4 of the way with your regular mix of cereal, butter and marshmellows
  • Press and form the mixture into a bowl (or nest)
  • Add "grass" (I used some candy grass I found in the easter goodies aisle, but coconut works well also)
  • Add "eggs" (Again, you have options, I used peanut M&Ms)

Ahh, they already look so tasty and festive!

For an added element of fun, take another Easter staple candy (Marshmellow Peeps) and put him on top of the nest:
To quote the funny man of the day:  "Hurry and eat them before the eggs hatch.  I don't want another Peep outta ya!" -Merv

These are so cute when they're done and would be so easy to wrap up as individual treats for sending home.  I didn't plan on having leftovers, so none of mine are currently seeking new homes. 

I did however have leftover ingredients so I turned them into a tasty little indoor egg hunt :)

And now that we're all in the mood for Easter Goodies, I would like to present to you some viritual Easter baskets!  Hershey has partnered with the Children’s Miracle Network and is celebrating their legacy of making a difference.  This Easter season, Hershey’s will donate up to a total of $5,000 to the Children’s Miracle Network together with bloggers. Here are the rules for HERSHEY’S BETTER BASKET BLOG HOP:
  • Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
  • Create a blog post giving a virtual Easter Basket to another blogger – you can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.
  • Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.
  • Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them a Basket.
  • Leave your link at comment section. You can also find the official rules of this #betterbasket blog hop, and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s there.
  • Hershey’s is donating $10 per each blog participating to the Better Basket Blog Hop to Children’s Miracle Network (up to total of $5,000 by blog posts written by April 4th, 2010).
  • Please note that only one blog post by each blog url will count towards the donation.

Now that we hae that out of the way, let's get to the fun part!  Angie, Rachel, Netters, Brittany (and anyone else who wants to help themselves!) here's a virtual basket for you:

If you're up to it, go and share and blog about it!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Curse Lives

Yes I did (make it to Weight Watchers this morning to weigh in).  I admit, it was difficult to drag my sore as glutues out of bed early enough to weigh in before 7 am.  While I could easily blame my Body Pump class last night, I think I'll blame March Madness.  Normally, I don't even get caught up in it, and I didn't think I would this year once my beloved Hawkeyes didn't make the big dance.  (And really, who expected them to?) 

Then came the Panthers of UNI.  You may recognize this face?  Yes, the most recent cover of Sports Illustrated featured the only Iowa team to make it to the Sweet 16 of the Men's tournament.  The team I had to cheer on, despite the fact that I had to cheer against my converence.  I guess that should assuage some of the dissappointment I felt when UNI lost, but all I flet was the reassurance that the SI curse lives on.

P.S. I lost 0.8 pounds.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ready or Not; Here Comes the Weekend

What a fun day I'm having on this, my first attempt at Follow Me Friday.  I happen to be blog hopping around from the event hosted at Trendy Treehouse.

The Trendy Treehouse
(Oo look, clicky linky button)
I've already come across a super idea for this weekend!  I found it at Piggy Bank Dating which is possibly my favorite new blog of the day.  Dating on a budget?  Always a good idea.
Now I bet you're wondering how else I'm going to fill my weekend.  Well, tomorrow morning I'll be going back for "Week Two" of Weight Watchers.  Yes, I finally went back to a true meeting.  I chose a different day and time because I thought it would make it fresh again for me.  I also can't bring myself to skip a Body Attack class to make my old meeting time.  When I showed up they had to re-enroll me (even though I have kept my monthly pass the entire time) so I figured I must be starting over.  So I will be waking up bright and early tomorrow to make a 7am weigh-in and meeting. 
Next up I'll be working at my day job (the bank) from 9 to noon.  Saturdays aren't really that bad since the traffic is generally slow, allowing me time to check in on the SITS girls and read through this week's ads in the newspaper.  The latter is one part vitrual shopping and one part planning on my part.  I'm sure I'll get a little work done as well, but as I "shop" and plan I'll be thinking of Sunday's activities.  Hold on!  I'll get there.
After work I'll be going shopping for Easter Egg dye kits and food/party supplies.  Those two items will come in handy later.  Before the fun can begin though, a little housework is in order.  I'm the kind of girl who likes to structure her week in a way that minor skirmishes with dirt happen all week but the epic battles are all done on Saturday.  (You can take that however you want, but it keeps my house clean). 
Depending on the time, I may go from scrubbing the shower to using it as I get ready for a little Wine & Cheese show that I'll be attending with Merv.  It's a four hour event, but I'm not sure it would be a good idea to stay and sample the entire time, so perhaps we will find something truly special and bring it home to share.
As we dye easter eggs!  That was the cute idea I picked up from the Piggy Bank Dating blog I mentioned above.  I may hold that one until next week, because really I need to spend time making these cute little things.  Don't worry, photos will come next week :)  And when I make those deliciously cute little treats (which I will top with Peeps).  Then I'll be saving them for dessert on Sunday...
... a day that promises to be another full and fun one.  I'll be trying Rachel's Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole from Me Myself & Pie.  Of course I will have started that the night before, but the serving/eating will be the best part, I'm sure.  Following that will be Palm Sunday Church, which I likely won't be singing in the choir for as my cold is still lingering.  After church we'll be sitting down to Easter Dinner, exactly one week early.  The kids will be spending Easter with their mom and her family though, so we'll be diving into Leg of Lamb and as yet to be determined side dishes this weekend. 
I'm also hoping to have an Egg hunt, but since the kids are all above the age of 12, we'll see what that turns into. 
P.S. Do you like lamb? Because I guarantee we'll have too much of it.
Feel free to invite yourself to dinner.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hello Cupcake Giveaway

Look out.  Marcy's got two posts in one day.  Wait - it's two in one hour!  What's it all mean?  It means that there's a fabulous giveaway at

The participation calls for sharing one of a few things, mostly having to do with birthdays and birthday parties.  The best thing I could think of to share was the small but faublous surprise party I threw for my Grandma, Marjorie.  She is everything and nothing you expect in a grandma.  She's the best cook (will I ever make homemade chicken and noodles like her?), she always has cookies in the cookie jar and is full of hugs and laughter.  She's also super thin and fiesty and never wears funny hats or housedresses and can complain about the state of things until my cell phone battery goes dead.  She is the proud matriarch of two children, six grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.  Sadly, we don't all get together for holidays anymore, so Grandma rarely gets to see us all together.

Well last August, Grandma's birthday happened to fall on a Saturday, and it happened to be her 80th.  So I sent out some invites, requested RSVPs and planned a small backyard BBQ/birthday party for the above-mentioned family.  The day before B-day I still hadn't heard from anyone, so I assumed the party would consist of my parents, my boyfriend and myself, but we were going to party either way.  The day arrived, and Merv and I, along with my dad, set up the backyard with the new picnic table we had gotten for a gift and had the cake, candles and goodies set up for the surprise.  Mom had Grandma occupied at her favorite place for coffee and conversation, the Rainbow Cafe.

In the process of bringing plates to the backyard, Merv tells me to look outside, because he thinks some family members had pulled up.  Indeed, when I looked outside I saw three car loads of an uncle, cousins and second cousins.  In fact there was only one grandkid + family missing.  I almost cried I was so happy to see them all.  In fact, I think I may have been more surprised than Grandma.  And she was surprised!  It was a beautiful afternoon followed by an impromptu fish-fry, which just happens to be one of Grandma's favorite things.  All in all, I'd say it's the best birthday party I've ever thrown together.  And it couldn't have been done for a more deserving woman.

Wanna Be Made ::Writer's Workshop::

Dear MTV, make me a skinny girl.

Oh that’s right, the show isn’t actually magic, is it? In that case, make me a fitness instructor. My reasons are simple:

• I adore my instructors
• I don’t know an instructor that isn’t a skinny girl.

I’ve been attending cardio classes for 9 weeks and the two instructors I’ve been sweating with are incredible. Diana and Jamie don’t just have amazing bodies, they have amazing attitudes. I’m sure like anyone they have days that require them to put on their best face and leave their problems at the door, but they are really good at it. They make working out enjoyable (or at least passable) while assuring me that the workout is just as hard for them. Okay, honestly it’s probably only a minor struggle, but they have a way of making me believe otherwise. They are encouraging and flawless and human and sweaty all at the same time.

Those are the qualities I could all use in my daily lives. Minus the sweat. They are the traits that I can employ while I work, dose out while I deal with my boyfriend and engage while I enjoy friends and family. The people in my life deserve this side of me. 

So MTV, make me a fitness instructor. Put me through weeks of vigorous training so that I can be a sweaty ball of support for others. If I happen to lose a few pounds and tone up this body, that’s even better. I mean who’s going to believe that I’m a fitness guru if I don’t have the body for it. If you have to throw in a spray tan, that’s okay too. Wait – that might be my other dream: to be made into a professional ballroom dancer.

This entry is part of Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.  This exercise into our creative side is hosted every week by Mama Kat.  Click the button to head over to her blog and play along!
Mama's Losin' It
This week's entry was in response to prompt #3: I Wanna Be MADE! You remember the MTV series where nerdy high school kids are made to be popular and what not? If you could be MADE into anything…what you be made into?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuna Puttanesca ::Recipe Review::

I hate spring colds.

Especially the ones that start in your throat, stuff up your nose and then move on to your ears.  I know that's what I have because just now, I was blowing my nose when my ear made a strange sound.  Not exactly a pop - more of a squeak.  Yes, my ear squeaked.  And I've sneezed about 264 times today. 

I won't let that be an excuse today though, I will still bring you a recipe review.  I don't have pictures, but it has nothing to do with my cold.

In other news:  I've finally gotten on board with planning my weekly menu.  It's been fantastic!  Merv even does the grocery shopping some weeks because it's so easy for him.  His only request is that I plan more red meat so we can "shop our freezer" instead of the meat counter.  So on the menu last night was:

Tuna Puttanesca
(that also happens to be the recipe for review, in case you didn't know where I was going)

14 1/2 oz canned diced tomatoes

10 oz water-packed tuna fish, drained, solid, white
1/2 cup(s) fat-free Italian salad dressing
8 large olive(s), black, pitted and chopped
1 Tbsp basil, fresh, chopped
1 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
4 cup(s) cooked fettucine, kept hot

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except pasta.Bring to boil; simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over hot fettuccine. Yields about 1 cup sauce and 1 cup pasta per serving.

I found this little gem in the stack of Weight Watchers recipes I have accumulated over the years I've been a member. It was inexpensive, easy and delicious. To be honest, I used canned chopped olives and minced garlic from a jar to save time.  Hey I told you I have a cold.  I need my sleep! and I need to watch Dancing With the Stars.  The aroma while this was cooking was amazing.  It even out-did the smell of paint fumes coming from the basement.  And when I scopped a bite of it into my mouth, the flavors came through vividly (even with a stuffed up nose).  The salty taste of this combination was great, but not overwhelming.  Of course, salt it my weakness, so maybe a mortal normal person would want to leave the added salt out when trying it for the first time.  Truly the recipe was a keeper.
Okay, enough of this poorly written disjointed post, I think it's time for more cold medicine.  Anyone know if it's a good idea to do a 55 minute cardio class with a head cold?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

::Thrifty Thursday:: Pub-Grub & Penny Pinching

Ah, the thrill of getting back on a routine.  It seems as though the fates conspire against me though, since my normal "after lunch break" when I normally blog was filled up with bank related work.  Nonetheless, I have persevered and I can now proudly present this week's installment of Thrifty Thursday.

THE FIND: I'm a sucker for a good motivational tale from the weight loss ranks, but this one has more that its fair share of feel-goodiness.  WHAT I GET OUT OF IT: I renewed sense of joy and determination about weight loss and fitness.  Despite circumstances that could become her excuses, Kimberly shows more resolve and purpose than I do most days.

THE FIND: Well, now that we have new motivation, let's focus on the midsection, eh?  Here's a workout fit for the fittest of Hollywood. WHAT I GET OUT OF IT: Some great moves, but having a diet that strict is a one-way ticket to binge-ville for me.  I enjoy some of the eating tips, but know I can't follow them all.

THE FIND: As I just mentioned, I can't be strict with myserlf when it comes to diet.  In the same way I can't restrict myself so much that I can't enjoy a drink from time to time or head out for a night with friends.  So I was happy when I found this Pub Grub Guide. WHAT I GET OUT OF IT: An article I should print, laminate, and carry with me whenever Merv and I head out with his brothers. 

THE FIND: When I wake up the morning after those nights out, I generally feel like I should make up for it with a healthier day ahead.  How about a salad that satisifes?  WHAT I GET OUT OF IT: The realziation that salads don't have to have lettuce.  Who knew? And how good does that California Chicken Salad look?

THE FIND of the WEEK: Anyone who tries to eat healthy, raise kids, try new recipes or a combination of those knows:  A healthy kitchen can sometimes equal a large grocery bill.  At any rate, it can be a challenge.  What if I looked at my pennies the way I look at my points (or calories for you non-Weight Watchers)?  Alice Wood thought of that: it's called Wealth Watchers. WHAT I GET OUT OF IT: A challenge to track every penny I spend.  I know it's not a new concept, but somehow the fact that it's similar to a program I've already had success with makes it more approachable for me.  I've got to start saving somewhere for all that fashion I plan on snatching up when I reach my forever weight!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

If I write too much, I might pull a muscle

Last night at my BodyAttack class, our leader winced a little while she was stretching and warming up.  She had just come back from a 10 day vacation and advised us all to "not going 2 weeks without working out."  I think blogging is a lot like exercise that way.  I haven't written in over a week and I'm afraid if I jump right in on a Writer's Workshop Assignment I might hurt myself.  I thought about doing a Wordless Wednesday but didn't have any inspiration (or photos ready to go) for that either.  So today I found a new Wednesday activity and I've decided to play a game hosted by The Seattle Smith's

'I wish' .... I could win the lottery REAL soon, and I would hope to build the perfect home in the country.

Merv and I have recently been looking at houses.  Not exactly in that "urgent-show us everything you have-we have to buy right now" way of looking at houses, but more in that "there's a tax incentive to get it done before the end of April" way.  And no Mom, it doesn't mean there's a ring on my finger either.  It just means he likes to take me along when he's looking at a home because it's quite possible I could also live in it someday.  In the short time we've been looking though, we've realized just how hard it is to find exactly what we're looking for.  I'm sure everyone goes through this, so I know I'm not unique.  I also know that when we find the right one, we'll probably know even when it's not perfect. 

But that's not today's game, is it?  Today's game is about wishing.  So I would build a house that:

Has exactly enough bedrooms. Of the houses we've seen, there are two I like the best.  One is a tiny little house with a reasonably small price but with even tinier bedrooms.  And there are only two of them.  The other has five, plus a bunch of open commen spaces for a family room, game room, etc.  I think we need at least three, but no more than four.  Hey, I can be flexible.

Has a master suite with eastern facing windows on the main floor (and large enough to comfortably fit king sized bedroom furniture.)  I used to think I didn't care that much about the bedroom.  In a way, it's only my third most important part of a house.  Size is probably just something I mention because we're pretending money is no object but placement in the house really is important.  One level living is something I'm told will become more important to me with age.  My knees are already starting to see the wisdom.

Has a laundry room situated very near that master suite.  Of the places I've lived, one of my favorites had a little stacked washer and dryer right outside my bedroom door.  It was so handy!  I'm sure I would upgrade from closet to entire laundry room though.  I'd probably even have my own television in there for entertainment while I folded.

Has an attached 2 car garage.  Do I really need to explain that one?  But in addition to that garage we would need an outbuilding/shop big enough for 3 motorcycles, 2 cars, and 1 tractor.  It would also need to have enough space to work on all of these items.  Actually, while we're dreaming, let's go ahead and fully equip that shop with all the tools, gadgets and other such items needed to work on those big-boy toys. 

Has an office.  I considered leaving this one out, because I don't really know if Merv would continue to work after we won the lottery.  But if he did, the office would either need to be built into that shop I mentioned (ideal!) or conveniently located near the door to that attached garage.  It would also need lots of storage space and bookshelves for all the literature and equipment that is required when you run your business out of your home. 

Has a large, well lit gourmet kitchen.  This is the most important room of the house to me.  Having extra space allows for the family to cook together, for Merv and I to dance together on Sunday morning when the local station plays polka music and Merv wants to kick up his heels while I make breakfast, and for ample storage space. And I'm going to need storage space because, like the shop, this room will be well stocked with every gadget, gizmo, ingredient and appliance that a spoiled kitchen-queen needs.  Oh - it has to be well lit so everyone can be happy while we spend time in there. 

Has about 2 acres of land lawn...and possibly farming acres around that.  We like seclusion.  We prefer that seclusion in the country, but a large lawn (ok - 1/2 an acre would suffice) in town might work,  I'll take enough space to build that workshop, have a vegetable garden, play football, softball and fly kites.  The farming acres would be for Merv.  He already farms as a hobby, so how much more could he do that if money were not a problem and he was able to quit his full time job.  Oh yeah, then we might need a barn too.  If that's the case, then my dream house needs to come with horses.  :)


Friday, March 5, 2010

Why I Can't Smile & Walk at the Same Time

Actually I can, but yesterday it was questionable and it was all because of Wednesday night.  I had just finished watching the "live" episode of Ghost Hunters (I don't recommend it if you a: thought it would be live or b: are as creeped out by disembodied voices as I am) and headed to bed.  Upon getting there, (around 10:25pm) I realized I had not yet completed my daily appointment with a Crest Whitening strip.  I decided I could catch a rerun of Two and A Half Men while wearing the strip since both take approximately 30 minutes.  The next thing I remember is 3:00 am.  That's right, my 30 minutes strip turned into four and one half hours.  Now if you've used them, you probably remember the bit on the box that says wearing them for more than 30 minutes will do no good because they stop working after that time.  Well I might have to disagree considering the impossible amount of discomfort I experienced upon waking yesterday.  I literally could not stand to open my mouth outside because the air was too cold.  Just ask my mom, I told her I had to hang up on our phone call before I got out of the car to walk to the house.  I even sat down to research remedies and basically found a lot of people telling me that sensitive teeth were the price you paid for white ones.  Well after this experience, I may have to give up coffee and white wine so I never have to wear the dang things again. 

Now you may be wondering why I even bothered to whiten my teeth at this particular time.  Or maybe, if you saw me this week, would wonder why I'm looking tan or how come I got my hair colored on Tuesday.  Well the answer, in one word, is prom.  Yes indeed, I am headed to prom tomorrow.  No, I'm not on a reality show with 20 of my high school classmates.  No, I'm not chaperoning a local school.  I am going to Grafton, IA's annual Adult Prom and yes, it is everything you are currently imagining.  No one has to sneak booze in or spike the punch - it's already spiked and sold as jello shots for a buck.  Yes, there are people from the age of 18 to 88 there, and most of them show up in dresses that could have been straight out of their high school yearbook.  There is even a competition for best retro dressed, and the cheesy photography packages that get printed with the theme andthe year on the overpriced pictures you buy.  This is actually my third year of attending and as always I can't wait. 

What's that?  What does my dress look like you ask?  Well, head over the to see it.  This was the second dress I tried on this year and even though it wasn't a consignment store find (1st adult prom) or an on-clearance LBD (2nd adult prom) I had to have it.  It was fancy enough for my taste, sexy enough for Merv's taste and so incredibly comfortable.  The material is soft and forgiving and since I'm a little more Venus de Milo than Twiggy this dress looks completely different on me, but I absolutely love it.  In fact, I'm playing up the almost greek/roman feel of the material and gown with

these cute, comfortable (& cheap )mini-wedge gladiators.  I'm so happy with myself for choosing a shoe that I can wear all night, shouldn't break anything in and I can wear all season. 

Also complimenting the look will be 
braids in my up-do a la Jessica Alba here.  I'm a little intimidated by this idea, but I'm sure I can pull something off.  I'm actually more intimidated by the fact that I'll be spending the evening with a real-life hair dresser so she'll know exactly how it should be done.  That's ok, she hasn't judged me before (or if she has, she's never done it out loud).

So that's it - what I'll be doing tomorrow night from 4pm until we shut down the Cozy Corner in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  Wish me luck - maybe I'll finally be prom queen afterall.  Pictures are sure to come, so keep watching.  And if you live in the Grafton area, come join me! (details) And if you're a local friend, check with me soon for details about a second chance prom right here in Iowa City.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Love Was Right Before My Eyes ::Writer's Workshop::

He is my dearest friend. I have known him for years. I’m not talking about the kind of years that I’ve clocked with my childhood friends. It’s not the kind of years I shared with my best friend when we were trapped in a brain-sucking device (my swing set in the back yard) where we were trapped, waiting for our James Bond like boyfriends to come and rescue us; or of those years filled with slumber parties that always dissolved into a night of complaining, crying and hugging it out. Those are the years that formed who I was, but he was there for the years that have formed who I am.

A little over 10 years ago he walked into my life. I can never recall the exact moment I met him because I look back now and it feels like he’s always been there. I can’t think of a time when just seeing him walk into a room with his confident stride did not instantly make me feel like conquering the world. It seems that his smile was always there to brighten a day. His family and mine found each other and fit together so well that it seems like we have always been friends.

He was there to offer advice when requested, support when needed and friendship and fun at all times. I will always remember one summer evening as my (then) husband and I were visiting his family and he walked with me, encouraging and advising me on ways to improve my marriage. No matter how close we were though, we always knew our boundaries. We always held ourselves back just enough so that we would not feel more than we were allowed.

Then my little family was no more. My marriage ended and our lives went on. In some ways my friend and I grew apart, and I didn’t know of his struggles. I did not put myself in a position to return the support my dear friend had shown me. Then one summer evening we took another walk. He revealed to me the truth of what was going on in his life. His own family was splintering in painful and awful ways. The suggestions and allegations against him were severe. The pain and anguish it caused him were clear. Still I could not believe the claims against him. I could not believe his family was breaking apart. But I could support him as a friend.

I found our old friendship was as comfortable as ever, and I continued to observe the boundaries that had always been there. Even as the reasons for those boundaries were falling away, I continued to hold back. Even as we fell back into the easy step as friends; as two single adults in this crazy world, I looked at him from behind those same boundaries. So one night after coffee as I was stood in the doorway talking to him, (maybe mixing in some light and innocent flirting) I never anticipated anything would change. I didn’t see it coming when he stepped closer to me, leaned over me and placed his lips so gently on mine. I was still pondering what happened when I heard him ask, “Can I kiss you?” I didn’t have the heart to point out that he already had. Nor did I have the time as I felt another kiss as sweet as the first. And I don’t know what surprised me more, feeling his hand on my side, pulling me gently toward him, or the intense pleasure I found at his touch.

The surprise didn’t end with us. Our friends were surprised; many of them have even misunderstood, but the love of my life is simply this: a friend who’s always been there, and always will be in my heart.  And these days the only thing that surprises me is how much my love grows for him every day.

Mama's Losin' It 
This was written in response to prompt #5:Who blind-sided you? Write about a time someone caught you totally off guard.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Comment Therefore I Am ::A Genius Genesis::

Today I'm going to (finally) post my first attempt at I Comment Therefore I Am.  This fun post idea is the brainchild of Unknown Mami.  She is, of course, clever and talented and gives better comment than I, but I figure with a little practice and the constant awareness that whatever I post while commenting may be recycled for more eyes to see I may get better in time.  I suppose I'll also get better at posting this around once a week instead of stock piling for two or three weeks at a time.  Anyway, here we go!

Unknown Mami

Debbie (On the Refrigerator Door) shared a story about a car she bought and drove (despite some shortcomings) before college.  Her troubles inspired me to share one of my own...
I can so relate to the car being on fire! A few years ago I had finished a very ambitious day of bra shopping and was now in the drive up lane at my bank. As I sat there waiting to receive my cash back I noticed what I thought was steam coming from the hood. I pulled into my work parking lot because it was about a block away, popped the hood and found flames! I ran to our security guard station and asked them to call the firemen and did they have a fire extinguisher? Despite the fact that there was one hanging onthe wall behind him, the man proceeded to tell me they didn't know where one was, called the firemen and watched my poor little car go up in flames.

Well, not an entire loss: one of my coworkers did manage to rescue my purse and my shopping bags. :)
Netters at A full Plate ~ A Happy Life had posted her weekly menu and I wanted to comment on the way she had chosen the week's fare.  I also had a little confession to make...

I love this idea! I think I'll have to let others do the picking one of these days. I may change my mind though when I have to make homemade sushi and lasagna every week though.  :)

Hey funny story though. So for as long as I can remember (here in the blog-world at least) I've been thinking that your blog was some other blog I've been following: Eat, Scrap, Love. I have no idea how I got that idea, but I think you follow it as well and maybe I followed a link in your blog and forgot. I don't know but I'd been wondering why you never had your own entries but you faithfully commented on mine. Then I read the most recent entries on that blog and my heart dropped! Then I noticed the name of the author was not Netters and began to wander around, eventually ending up at your ACTUAL blog, which is gorgeous, full of wonderful entries and - to be honest - is making me hungry.

So there you have it; the reason I haven't been here to comment. But now I've found you, girl - so get ready to feel the love!
In honor of Valentine's Day Angie at Little WORTH-while Moments asked her readers to share the story of their first kiss...

My first kiss was at Adventureland Park, just outside of Des Moines, IA (Yes, Angie, I know YOU know where it is, but this is for the benefit of your readers). Our Jr. High band had gone there for some parade/competition and we spent the rest of the day riding rides, etc. It was a rainy and cool day, so the lines to the water rides were extremely short. Me and two of my band friends (girls) were riding one raft on the Raging River and this other raft had three boys on it. Since each raft seats 6 and no one else was waiting, we all got on the same raft and rode together. So the six of us spent the day together and I paired up with a guy named Chris. We played games, I wore his sweatshirt because I was chilly, we shared funnel cake. He was from Davenport and I lived 5 hours away but he was older and he was learning to fly and I just knew he'd come and see me and we'd live happily ever after. So when it was time to get on the bus and head home, he and I shared a pleasant (but no fireworks/butterflies/fire in the belly stuff) first kiss. After that, I think we exchanged exactly one letter and one postcard.

Now that you're read my attempt, head over to Unknown Mami's blog and check out the master at work.  Beware though, your comments may just be featured in a future edition of I Comment Therefore I Am!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thrifty Thursday ::Motivation! Inspiration! & Relation?::

Today I'm trying out a new format for Thrifty Thursday.  Biggest change?  I managed to keep track of a few links this week so I have more than one item on the menu! 

THE FIND: In case a paycheck and possibly a sense of fulfillment aren't the only things you're gaining from work, I found an article with ideas for helping you to lose weight while you're at work.  WHAT I GET OUT OF IT: The suggestion of keeping a resistance band at work to slip in a little workout.  I'd love that to go with my lunchtime walk that will start again when it warms up!

THE FIND:  A long lost brother and sisterWHAT I GET OUT OF IT: Nothing.  They're not even really my relatives (what, you're shocked that I'm not related to Aaron Cook?).  But they do share my own last name and have inspiring stories of weight loss. 

THE FIND: Motivational Tips from the experts.  WHAT I GET OUT OF IT: Tip #5 - Especially the part about getting new shoes!  I just replaced my worn out tennies with a swanky new pair and boy do I feel it during Boday Attack!  Next up?  New bra shopping. 

THE FIND:  I will be travelling this weekend and always struggle with what to eat on the road.  Maybe this research into Taco Bell's "diet food" will help.  WHAT I GET OUT OF IT:  Just a reminder that no fast food restaurant (or any other kind for that matter) will have a magic formula for losing weight.  Sure, these menu options are a healthier choice, but it's all about balance and moderation.  I like to look at nutritional information, online or through other resources, and make informed decisions on what to eat while dining out.  As any Weight Watcher can tell you, nearly any restaurant has some healthier option on the menu.  You juts have to do a little legwork to find it. 

BONUS:  I like this guy's idea of "self" control.  Don't think it will work with my coworkers though.  They'd just eat my treats before I got to them.  Wait - maybe that is a good idea!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Your Blue Heart ::Writer's Workshop::

Here I am
I stand
outside in the cold
I knock
on your heart’s door
I wait
I see you in your grief
You are not alone
Let me come in and share
your cares
Let your stress be my stress
Let your woe be my woe

That my joy may be your joy

Mama's Losin' It
Prompt: “What images inspire you immediately? Open a magazine and create a piece of writing (poem, story, essay) about the first image that captures your imagination.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Foodie Photog & All the Pretty Flowers

I've been slacking in my duties lately and haven't tried a new recipe for awhile.  We had quite the weekend of company and Olympics watching so I stayed with tried and true favorites and crowd pleasers.  The salsa I made got rave reviews though.  I considered using that as my recipe review this week, but let's face it - if you make homemade salsa you've already got a favorite.  Mine's a really easy recipe though!  It also may have been the most Weight Watchers friendly thing I had all weekend. 

Since I have no recipes to review for you all, I thought I would simply review tell you about a couple of blogs I'm loving right now. 

The first shout out is actually kinda self-serving.  Jocelyn is a pastor's wife and proud mother with a life full of cheesecake baking and card making.  In addition to making adorable cards and gorgeous scrapbook pages which she showcases on her blog, she also has a wonderful talent for making fabric flowers and turning them into gorgeous jewelry.  She's just recently opened an Etsy store, The Trendy Owl.  She's giving away a lovely necklace so head over to her blog, check out the store and enter the giveaway.  P.S.  Tell her I sent you :)

Now my second guest is a dear friend.  I've known her for more than 10 years, even though we lost touch during that time.  She's a talented photographer who just happens to make delicious food.  She's also one of the sweetest girls you'd ever meet.  Sadly, I've been following the wrong blog for a few months, somehow thinking it was hers!  Today I finally got the ordeal straightened out and headed over to her real blog, A Full Plate ~ A Happy Life.  To make up for all the comment love she hasn't been getting, I am giving her a the best gift I could think of :)

Tomorrow may bring a Wordless Wednesday or a Writer's Workshop Wednesday.  None of the prompts were speaking to me today, so we'll see if they change their tune.  Otherwise, pictures it will be!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chocolate (Brown) and (Dried) Flowers for Valentine's Day

More than a week later, here it is:  My bedroom's makeover was complete last Saturday and I have enjoyed it so much!  Here's a little before and after for you:

(BEFORE)The Boring Wall
(AFTER)My Own Pretty Art Project

Because we love dancing and have taken ballroom lessons, I chose silhouettes of dancing couples.  They are cut from stiff brown paper and placed over fabric that matches the bedding. 

(BEFORE) The Tired Bed

(AFTER)The Cozy Haven
I "doubled" the window to balance the wall.  I knew I would love it, but Merv wasn't convinced (until it was done!)  And yes, I really do need bigger pillows in those shams... plus MORE OF THEM!

(BEFORE)The Functional (and plain) Corner

(AFTER)Oh! Pretty!

Can you spot the hidden items?
(1)A lazy cat  (2) A teddy bear (3)The glass of water I needed after all that work (4)Airplane (5)iPhone

The last picture is probably my favorite transformation.  I love the way the entire room turned out but this space was a pleasant surprise.  Merv actually chose everything on the small table (aside from the fabric) and found it all on sale!  We got rid of the alarm clock as we never used it because we always set our phones to wake us.  Some day I plan to replace it with an analog wall clock, but I haven't found the one I love yet.  I also hope to replace the old TV (or remove it altogether) but we aren't there yet either.  The entire room came in just under $300.  Maybe it would have been even cheaper if we'd spent more time shopping around, but I loved spending the time together to select & buy the items and then put them in the room.  Great Valentine idea indeed.

Finally, here's a better picture of that lazy cat,(his name is August) and a close up of the bedding design:
This was taken as I collapsed onto the bed following all of the finishing touches.  Someone thought he needed to collapse too, it is hard work supervising afterall.

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