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Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Year in Review and 2013--What to Expect Now That the World Hasn't Ended

This year has flown by.  It has been filled with many plans that didn't come to fruition--mostly because it seems that time escaped me quickly and quietly.  Plans to have a veggie garden, plans to plant a lovely flower garden, plans to run all year and run a few races this summer; plans to clean up my house and just enjoy life.  

None of that happened.  Why?  I have no idea.  It could be as simple as poor planning on my part--which is probably most of it.  Not juggling finances well enough to do what I wanted to do, not juggling my time efficiently to get in those runs and feel better about myself in the process.

And then October came, and my heart was broken.  All the wind (small as it was) in my sails left abruptly.  Experiencing the loss of my Dad 8 years ago was devastating, but it's something else completely when you lose a sister, and one who had so many years left to live; one who was so alive when she was here.  It makes no sense.  I think to myself, I'm going to be 48, just like Patti, in a few years.  Would I be ready to leave this life?  I feel like I've just begun to know myself, do things that make me happy, and explore so many ways that can make me a better, happier soul while I'm still on this planet.  I'm not anywhere near ready to go.  I am not on the same life plan as Patti was, and I still have a lot to learn. So while I leave this year a bit battered, with a  permanent crack in my heart, I leave it a bit wiser and more aware of my life and what I want it to be.  I leave this year knowing that my sister is on the other side cheering me on, sending me lots of love and support.  She's realized I'm not the strong, tough one, and that her leaving knocked me to my knees.  

But I will get up.  I will enjoy life again, and cherish every last moment I had with my sister--the good ones, and the bad ones.  All those times Patti was such a brat when we were kids, and that last conversation we had that ended with telling each other we loved each other.  She will be with me when I'm out in the sun, running by myself.  She'll be with me when I'm in my yard, planting flowers and thinking of how beautiful nature can be.  And she will be with me someday when Bud and I finally do take those vows.  She'll be with me every time I laugh out loud and all those times I'm sitting quietly, enjoying the peace.

So I start off 2013 with a clean slate.  I have plans to run a half marathon with my sister Michelle in May--her first, and my first in over a year.  Both of us are starting from zero.  It's exciting to think of all the work it will take to get us both in running shape.  But it will be a worthy goal!  And I just bought a juicer--yes, I want to drink lots of healthy juices.  And Bud and I will spend time together riding our bikes and enjoying being together.  And I'll continue to be an Auntie to Patti's kids, and help them when they need me.  I will live a fuller life with Patti in my mind always. She will be there to kick my butt if I whine too much.  

And reading--where would I be without my beloved books?  This year I'm going to take the time to read what I have on my shelves while reading new books.  I'm not going for quantity, but quality.  Enjoying what books I have, and sharing those books with all the groups I talk to during the year.  

So here's to 2013.  I have no idea what the year will bring, and I do not want to even try and guess.  I will wait for it to unfold.  

Everyone have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Bud and I will be taking a bit of a break after Christmas.  Until then, it's work everyday, frantic food prep, and lots of coffee.  And probably a bit of a wee nip on Christmas Eve :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Deepak Chopra is My New Friend

I have a wonderful friend and co-worker who I've known since I was a young teen.  I used to babysit her three boys when I was just barely old enough to do it!  Years later, we find ourselves working together at the bookstore and I can only say Deb is as wonderful now as she was then--but now I can appreciate her all the more because I'm an adult (and not babysitting for $1.00/hour).

Deb is always exploring, reading, attending programs and classes on spirituality, yoga, and finding out what sparks our sense of happiness and creativity.  She's very open minded, and that has led me to some wonderful opportunities that I wouldn't have had without her telling me this stuff while we shelve romance and sci-fi books early in the morning.  

Deb introduced me to Deepak Chopra's 21 Day Abundance Meditation Challenge back in early November.  I have tried meditation before, but always find a reason not to do it.  This was free, and about abundance of every kind--so I said "why not try it?" and immediately began listening to each day for the next 21 days.  It was amazing.  I made it a priority first thing in the morning to get up, start the meditation on my computer, and lay down on the couch and listen and be quiet for 15 minutes.  I consciously tried to keep Deepak's simple phrases for each day in my mind as I went about my work and life.  I realized after a week or so that not only was I somehow staying relatively calm during the day, but I was finding all sorts of wonderful instances of abundance all around me.  No, I didn't have a sudden windfall of money, but little things happened that made me become aware of all the things we all do everyday that spread that light of positive energy around.  And my brain was on fire when I was sleeping--very vivid dreams--every night, without fail.  I felt like I was sleeping deeper and better.

I threw caution to the winds, and ordered Deepak's 3 21 Day Meditation Challenges.  The Abundance challenge was the last one, there are two before it--on love and on body/mind/health.  I have been in a bit of a funk since I finished the Abundance meditation, and  was so happy to pick up my box of goodies today at Fedex.  

So, if you're interested, you can get these through Deepak's website  There's a lot of other cd's, meditation, and music on the website--plus other goodies you can order.  I'm fired up to start the abundance meditation again tomorrow morning.  

As I work through the other 21 day  meditations, I'll keep you posted on what happens and how they are helping me stay calm, stay positive, and stay aware.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cooking, I Accept The Challenge! You Weenie

I love to cook.  But, I've never cooked a turkey (always go to someone else's house for Turkey Day), have failed miserably at cooking Chinese at home, and holy crap!  I do not have a tart pan--or even a bundt pan in my kitchen.  

This is going to end.  I was puttering in the kitchen tonight.  Made food that not only was a disappointment to the taste buds, but to my stomach, too.  Uggh.  And I realized that 2013 will be the year of THE NO FEAR COOKING PROJECT.  

What is THE NO FEAR COOKING PROJECT, you may ask?  Hell, I don't know.  I'll find out when you do.  I believe it means there may be a turkey in my oven sometime next year.  I will figure out how to make beef with black bean sauce in my kitchen, by God!  I will make a lovely tart and/or something else that involves using a 9 inch springform pan!  

I will  not be afraid.  I will cook with gusto!  I will slop stuff all around the walls, ceiling, and floor!  I may even wear the one apron I have tucked away in a drawer!  

Poor Bud.  That's all I have to say.  I'd better stock up on pepto.  

But--one thing I have made in the past week that I must share is such a delish little salad that Bud inhaled it on two separate occasions and has requested more.  It's pretty darn simple, and I could eat it most every day:

Take a mixture of baby arugula greens and dump them in bowls ( or one big one--I make two individual salads for Bud and I).

Peel and slice a pear; add to greens.

Add some walnuts or pecans--whichever you like--or leave them out and add sunflower seed kernels.

Crumble up some good bleu cheese and put on greens.

Scatter some pomegranate seeds on the salad and give your salad a couple of grinds of fresh pepper.

I found a dressing I like that compliments this salad nicely:  Briannas Homestyle Blush Wine Vinaigrette

You can get this pretty much anywhere.  

Now--you can eat this without a dressing, or with one.  I would suggest a light, citrus type dressing with a bit of sweet--but not much.  

This has temporarily replaced my favorite cold weather salad of apples, dried cranberries,  bleu cheese, walnuts, bacon, and a maple/orange dressing.  But just for now.  

So!  What are you afraid to cook?  Why?  Wanna join me on my No Fear Cooking Project?  You can.  Unless you're not afraid to cook anything.  Then that's just no fun.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bring on the Alcohol, People!

Oh, the season is upon us.  

I have a few words to say.

Let's be kind to all those people who serve us at the restaurants, make that espresso drink "just so" for you, smile when you scowl cause your feet hurt.

Let's be mindful of those people who work in retail--most of us know what we're doing.  Many of us have years and years of experience and knowledge.  Trust us when we make a suggestion.  Don't pick our minds, then turn around and say "I'll get it somewhere else."  Not cool.  Don't get angry at us when you don't know what to get that special someone, and everything we suggest is not right.  You know that person, we don't.  We're flying blind and taking cues from what you've told us.  All those questions we're asking?  They're helping us narrow the field of possibilities.  They are not designed to annoy you, but to help us find the right gift for you so you leave happy.

  I had a woman say to me yesterday "It must be nice to make a little extra money at this time of year."

To which I replied:

"This is my full time job.  It pays my mortgage."   This is my career.  I've worked hard at it, and just cause I'm behind a register doesn't mean I'm doing this for kicks.  I have a college degree. I've traveled. I'm not a youngster.  I know stuff--not everything, but I know a lot about the place I work and what we sell.  

Everyone wants to get that perfect gift for their loved ones.  But really:  arguing, being sour and angry just put a bad cloud on that gift.  It sticks to it.  Don't do that.  If it's meant to be, it will happen.  You will find that perfect gift--or it will find you.  But it will run far away if you go looking for it with a less than sunny attitude.  

We are all human.  A smile goes a long way.  A thank you goes a long way.  A have a great day goes a long way.  

Oh--and when a salesperson is in a conversation with another customer, please don't interrupt.  It's bad form.  We will help you as soon as we've taken care of this customer.  Everyone deserves all of our undivided attention when we're helping them.  Please be patient.  Your interruption says to both the salesperson and the customer "I am more important than you.  Please focus on me."  Nope.  Not gonna do that.  Please wait your turn.

Ok.  I have expressed my feelings.  I will now pour a lovely glass of red wine, take a hot bath, and relax.  At home.  In the quiet.  With a good book.  

Happy shopping everyone!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Meatloaf the Man Will Eat

I love my Bud.  Love him so much I've not made meatloaf for years because he told me once he doesn't like it.

Then he told me last month that yes, he would in fact eat meatloaf--just not all the time.  Well.  Who makes meatloaf all the time?  There's a time and a place for meatloaf, and every week is not it.  I made a mental note to attempt meatloaf sometime this winter.

Yesterday I was sorting through my sister's recipes, and found a handwritten recipe for cheesy mini-meatloaves.  The recipe looked incredibly easy, and made 8 little meatloaves.  Perfect for two people to divvy up and take for lunch the next day, or put in the freezer for later.  But--somehow Patti left out a binder.  Nada.  Nothing.  I am no cooking guru, but even I realized without some kind of bread crumb situation these meatloaves were going to be sub-par.

So I got on Google, and attempted to find this recipe.  And I found it.  Except it called for oats as a binder.  No wonder Patti left it out.  I read the comments, and what do you know--someone substituted Italian bread crumbs instead.  Bless them.

So I made 'em.  And received an unsolicited "These are really good" comment from Bud.  And he took some to work for lunch today.  And they were ridiculously easy to make.  I did add some garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce to the mix and omitted the onions, 'cause Bud doesn't do onions unless they're deep fried and coated.  Here's the link to the recipe:

Mini Cheesy Meatloaves.  Make them.  They take no time at all, and can be served with potatoes, salad, veggies, or even noodles.  I made extra sauce for Bud and I will say I preferred my meatloaf with less sauce--cause it is sweet.  More mustard for me!  And they're little, so you can put them on a bun the next day for a very easy lunch.  And they're cute.  Yes, cute meatloaves.

I would post a picture of meatloaf, but let's face it:  it may be tasty as all get out, but it doesn't look too appetizing in photos.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One Month Later...

Well.  I continue to take a much needed break from the blog world.  I am still reading blogs, but every time I think of writing a post, I realize I don't have anything to say.  So...

I am doing okay.  I am working on meditating (Deepak Chopra's 21 day Meditation Challenge), trying to get back into my weekly routine, and contemplating the upcoming year.  I find I'm tired a lot, and since the holidays are rapidly (!) approaching, hoping I get it all done before they hit.  

Still grieving, still having moments of laughing when I think about Patti, and moments where it's too painful and I cry.  Hard to believe my sister is gone.  Still thinking I'll get a phone call to have Chinese together; plan food for the family Christmas, and still thinking she's not far away. Someone asked about my family (someone who didn't know me) and Bud said "There are 7 brothers and sisters" and it shook me to hear that out loud.  I'm used to saying "there are 8 of us." In my mind, there will always be 8 of us.  I am moving through my grief one day at a time; thinking about my beliefs--cobbled together as they are--this loss has confirmed for me deep down that I really do hold those beliefs to be true for me.  And that has given me a lot of comfort.  

Thinking of the coming year, I am contemplating running a half marathon again  in May.  I miss being able to run, and my recent pathetic attempt at the Turkey Trot a few weeks ago shows I have a long way to go to be ready for May.  But it's a worthy goal, and the health benefits far outweigh the temporary pain of gasping for air, side cramps, and tired feet.  

I will be back, folks.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I will be posting when I can, when I have something brilliant to say.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Taking A Break

I am going to be taking a break from blogging for awhile.  I recently lost my sister very  suddenly, and I have no words for how my family feels about this giant hole in our lives.  Patti was a wonderful "big" sister who was always laughing and joking.   She had such a vibrant life force that she lit up every room she walked into; she loved with a big heart and took care of everyone around her.  We will miss her terribly.

Patti Wolfe 1964-2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Good Things Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

I have to say, I'm having a hard time coming up with good stuff today!  The brain is short circuiting, and there's not enough coffee in the world to jump start the brain cells.  

1.  Pomegranates.  They're just now coming into the grocery store.  I love them!  Worth the prep time to eat those lovely little jewels of goodness.

2.  Two Fat Ladies.  I just recently watched the first two seasons of these lovely women.  Ah, I remember watching them years ago and decided they were worth a revisit.  Funny, irreverent, and great way to enjoy a chilly afternoon at home.

3.  Cranberries.  Now is the time to buy bags of them and freeze 'em.  Cranberry applesauce, cranberry muffins, cranberry everything!  Just the right amount of tart.  I know last week I gushed about dried cranberries, but the real deal, fresh ones are the bomb, too!

4.  The Rook by Daniel O'Malley.  Out now in paperback.  On my to be read list for months--finally bought one!  Sci-fi that's a bit different.  

5.  New undies and socks. Yep.  I said it.  New underwear and socks.  Am I right, ladies?  Makes me happy.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Overwhelmed With Too Much Brain Activity

I had an eye-opening experience a week or so ago when I went to a local "new age" shop in my town for a "soul reading".  It was well worth the money, and had a huge impact on me and how I feel about myself and what I should be doing with my life.  

Now to implement the plan.  Only problem is, the plan is a jumbled mess in my head, and I feel like I have no time to do anything but think about the jumbled mess in my head!  I'd like to take a 3 month sabbatical from my life if that would be ok with everyone.  I'd like to take a walking journey around Europe, find some spiritually charged places, and learn to mellow out and create some space in my head where I can hear my thoughts.  That's not too much to ask, is it?

But I can't.  Work, life, and everything else is taking up my time.  I feel breathless with anxiety over all this!  In trying to become a bit more coherent in my head, I've decided to try and read a few books on calming down and finding myself--examining myself.  I don't like to think too much about my "real" feelings, so they just sit in the back, giving me a gut ache and making me eat when I don't need to--a bit of emotional eating, perhaps?  

My friend C-Joy recommended an author:  Brene Brown, and her book The The Gifts of Imperfection

 It's about embracing who you are, and getting rid of those feelings about who you think you should be.  I've given a copy to my sister, and we plan on reading it and talking about it over chinese food at some later date.  Ms. Brown also has another book that's just out, called Daring Greatly.  She's been at the TED conference as a speaker, and I believe you can YouTube her speeches.  I will be checking them out soon.  

So I am starting somewhere.  I am exploring who I want to be, and stopping the merry-go-round and the I'm-just-fine-go-round.  I'll be talking about this a lot in the next few weeks, so beware!  My birthday is next month, and I feel that it's a great opportunity to stop, check in, and work on myself.  Quite frankly, I'm pooped from the anxiety, whether I understand that it's a regular occurrence or not.  My guts are manifesting that icky feeling.  I guess I'm looking for my happy place.  It's somewhere, I just don't know where--or how it should manifest itself in my life.

Hold onto your hats!  I'm going on a journey of exploration of all things touchy feely for me.  This includes meditation, great music to chill out to, and learning how to follow my intuition--heck--I'd like to find my intuition.  A year of feeling caught up in chaos has taken it's toll on me--now it's time to find some clarity.  I'm going to unplug that phone, shut off the computer, and do some writing.  It may all be nonsense, but I'm a nonsensical kind of gal, and I think out of all that, some gem will pop out.  2013 is the Year of Sue!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Good Things Tuesday October 9, 2012

Once again up early to get in that gym workout--almost forgot my fun Tuesday post.  I thought about this on my drive home across town; perhaps I should have been concentrating on what I was doing behind the wheel, hmmmm?

Here's what makes me smile this week:

1.  Pesto. So versatile, and made with my favorite herb: basil.  Making pesto chicken tonight for my sweetie:  pour pesto over chicken boobs, put in oven, and bake til done.  Easy.  Delicious.  No brainer. Roast some potatoes, add a veggie.  Oh--and a bottle of wine.  Perfect dinner for two.

2.  Gloomy days.  What can I say?  They make me feel cozy and comfy while I'm inside looking out.  And they make the Fall leaf color POP!

3.  Dried cranberries.  I went to Walmart and bought a giganto bag of them.  I will eat them in oatmeal, salads, and by the handful.  Sweet and tart.

4.  Pier-One candles.  Thank you for making Ember candles.  They smell like Fall without being sickly sweet.  

5.  The smell of freshly brewed coffee.  Ah....a childhood memory that always fills me with happiness.  One of the best smells on the planet!

6.  Kale.  I love you.  You taste good in soup and my tummy thanks you.

7.  My hair stylist, Sara.  She's awesome!  She knows my hair, is one with my hair, and controls my hair.  She is my hair guru.  

What's rocking your world this week?  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Some Things Have Occurred To Me...

I am entering my third week of regular work outs at the gym, and I am finding that I feel happy after accomplishing this task.  That happiness lasts about 4 hours, until I find myself getting tired at work before lunch--since I make myself get up early (4:30 AM) twice a week to get to the gym before my work day.  I know I won't go after work, and it's good to feel like I've done something that day right off the bat.  Takes the pressure off!

However, I have to work on the eating part now.  I can tell the weight training is helping already, since I don't feel nearly as stiff and un-bendy that I have been feeling all summer.  But, as Bud likes to tell me, I should be losing weight, not staying the same.  That's cause I'm one of those people who eats more when I work out--and I don't need to.  That darn noggin' makes me think I can keep on eating, and I can't.  That's phase two.  

I had a moment of clarity yesterday afternoon that came out of nowhere and blew my mind.  I am ready to start running again.  No great huge strides, no intense training, but I want to run!  I think I've passed through my bit of freaked out brain fart running issues, and I am in a good space head-wise to start again.  Phew.  Plus my jeans are tight and it's annoying the hell out of me.  REALLY annoying the hell out of me.  And I need to update my work wardrobe, and I can't do that until those jeans don't feel so tight.  

I've also discovered if I plan my week around my workouts, I don't feel so out of control.  One day at a time.  Not gonna get stressed.  It helps that there's a Halloween Challenge at the gym that keeps track of your cardio and weight training workouts and your goal is to accumulate 3000 points for October.  So far, I'm up to 700.  This is motivation to hit the gym for sure! I like to see these numbers.  I'm a numbers gal.  Even though I suck at math.  

And...I've been looking at half marathons in the spring.  There are two mere moments from my house--one in April, and one near the end of May.  I have plenty of time to think about them, but it would be fun to see if I could train all winter.  My treadmill time at the gym is only for 30 minutes, unless I can time it right and get there when no one is working out.  It's niggling at my brain, so who knows?  One day at a time, one week at a time, one workout at a time.  My mantra is'll get there...calm...calm.  

Have you had any "wow" moments lately?  I don't have them very often, but when they do hit, they feel like a smack upside the head.  A gentle smack.  And maybe angels singing, clouds parting, and sunbeams all around.  Just for a few seconds.  Enough for me to get a clue.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Full Weekend Ahead!

One thing about working in retail for 18+ years you quickly realize is that you cherish your weekends off, since they don't come very often.  There are benefits to having days off during the week:  easy to get appointments, eat out w/out a huge crowd, and time to myself.  But, having 2 days off in a row, and having off Saturday and Sunday are a welcome relief.  I find myself usually staying home and puttering, or visiting friends or family that I usually don't get to see very often because of my work schedule.

So I've got this weekend off, and I have a full plate.  Two books to read, a yard to attend to:  leaves are beginning to fall in droves.  Plants are definitely dead and need to be cut down.  Put away outdoor furniture.  

There's a few haunted houses around town that I'd love to go to--do you think I could get Bud to take me?  He has to hold my hand, since I am blind as a bat in these things and walk into the walls.  I am not scared, merely annoyed that my "night blindness" kicks in ruthlessly.  I can't see anything to be scared about!  We haven't been to any for years, so I think it's time.  
This is the house next door.

I have laundry, baking, and cooking to do this weekend so I've got lunches for next week.  It's gotten much much cooler here in the past few days, so finally I can make some dishes in the oven!  So long, summer!  Bring out the flannel sheets!

I've got a get together on Sunday, and I have to bring something to nosh on; I think this recipe for an apple cake is right on the money (plus it gives me an excuse to buy a bundt pan):  Iowa Girl Eats Apple Cake Recipe.  I can't wait to eat a slice of this!  Plus, since I cannot take just one thing, I'll probably make a hot dip to take.  Sweet and Savory are great twins to know and love. I am best friends with them.

I have decided that the only way Christmas will be any fun at all for me is if I ask for a new crockpot from Bud.  One with a programmable time and options galore.  I think it's time for me to let go of the crock pot I purchased in 1985.  It has done a remarkable job over the years, but fills me with fear that it will burn my house down.  And the only options on it are "high" and "low".  Turn it on when I go to work in the morning, and the food is overdone by the time Bud comes over hours and hours later.  I need something with a bit more wiggle room!

So my weekend will be filled with apples, leaves, and books.  Oh--and I have to buy some fall candles.  I went into a frenzy of searching last night all around my house and basement for a pumpkin candle to light for dinner.  I was horrified to find nothing.  Zippo. That will be rectified today after work when I immediately go shopping and purchase a few to last the next few months, before I transition to my piney scented candles for Christmas.  Just isn't October without candles burning at night!

This is a bit excessive, but you get the point!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Good Things Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I had such a full day today I almost forgot my good things post!  Here's what puts a smile on my face and an off-tune song in my heart:

1.  Iced Tea.  Love it.  Drink it all year round.  

2.  Black Beans.  I could eat them every day.  

3.  Driving through a leaf storm in the middle of the day.  

4.  Getting a good night's sleep and feeling awake in the morning.

5.  October.  My favorite month.  Love the weather, the falling leaves, the cool nights, and the ghost shows on tv all month.  

6.  Talking books with fellow book loving employees.  It is so much fun, and a way to recharge my book lovin' batteries.  I don't need to explain why I love books and reading, cause they get it.  

7.  Going to the gym in the morning between the early birds and the late morning crowd.  No one is there and I can work out without rushing or waiting for machines.  It is peaceful.

8.  Italian sausage.  I have rediscovered my love for the hot stuff.  Soups, here we come!  

What makes you happy this week?  C'mon, there's always something--big or small that picks us up!

Monday, October 1, 2012

I Am Ignoring The Weather And Pretending It's Fall

My God, will this summer never end?!  I am ready for it to be gone.  Seriously. Now.  While the nights have been dipping into the 40's, the days are still in the upper 70's.  This is completely ruining my plans to make comfort food suitable for Fall.  Eating lasagna, soups, and casseroles just cannot be done when it's still grilling weather.  

I have given up on checking the weather forecast, since we have had the same exact weather every day for 2 weeks.  I feel like I've been transplanted to another state and no longer live in Iowa.  

Fingers crossed the temps dip later this week.  I have plans to make some "stoups" I found on this blog: Kalyn's Kitchen.  Sausage, kale, and bean stew?  Yum.  Red beans and rice?  Oh yes.  And neither are things Bud will eat, so my plans to package and freeze portions for lunch will come to fruition.  If only I can cook in my kitchen without breaking out in a sweat from having the stove and oven on.  And let's not forget, I'm still wanting to make more muffins!  It's just so much easier to make these things when it's gloomy, cool, and damp outside.  It makes the nesting feeling that much more "nestier".  

I haven't talked about my garden much at all.  That's because it tanked this summer, and not much happened.  Now I'm in the process of cutting things back and so looking forward to leaves all over the yard (not!).  Time to take down the patio furniture, put away the yard ornaments, and hang up those Halloween skeletons!  

Are you looking forward to Fall?  What's your favorite Fall dish to make?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Good Things Tuesday- September 25th

Another sun-shiny Tuesday here in Iowa.  Another day to remind myself of all the good things, big and small, which put a smile on my face and keep me moving forward:

1.  Blankets.  Not quite ready for flannel sheets, but another blanket on the bed is perfect this time of year.  Lets me keep the window open at night without freezing.

2.  Apples.  Crunchy Granny Smiths are my favorite.  Tart, slightly sweet, and they make excellent additions to muffins--or lunch at work.

3.  Two-for-One vitamin sales at CVS.  

4.  Salted Caramel anything.  

5.  Wall calendars.  I love 'em.  All the new 2013 calendars are in stock at my bookstore, and I am having a hard time picking out which one I want for home.  Love to hang it up and makes notes I can see every time I'm in the kitchen.  And I get a little bit of changeable art every month.

6.  Sitting in a friend's backyard and sipping box wine on a lovely Fall day.  No plans, no rush.  Just chat.  Dreaming out loud.

7.  Templeton Rye Whiskey on ice, sitting on the back patio, smelling the warm vanilla notes and relaxing. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Two Week Workout Recap--I Have Survived

I've discovered a few things in the past two weeks since I've rejoined the Y:

**I have lost my running mojo.  Don't want to, don't feel like it, and when I do, it sucks.

**I like weights.

**The mirrors at the Y are cruel and clearly rigged to be funhouse mirrors.

I've been faithfully working out for two weeks.  This is a record for me, and a goal that has been laughable for pretty much my entire adult life.  Yes, I would run every week, but doing strength training with it?  Not so much.  So now the running is set aside, and I'm concentrating on getting in my thrice-weekly strength training sessions thanks to ActivTrax.  Besides the fact that it thinks I am a complete and total wimp that is incapable of picking up a can of soup, it's a great tool for working out.  And now after two weeks it's adding different machines and finally realizing I can lift more than it calculates.  It also requires that I do cardio and ab work.  I've done the elliptical and also biked.  I tried to run a bit, and that ended quickly.  

I seem to be in the down cycle for running.  I'll run for a year, then get burned out and stop for a year.  Apparently this is my stop year.  I'm okay with that, too.  Concentrating on getting in the workout groove has been my focus and I already feel better knowing I'm exercising those fat cells into oblivion! I hit the gym 4 days this week and I'm happy happy happy.  

I am very happy I rejoined the YMCA.  Once I am in the habit of working out regularly, I'm going to try some of the classes.  For now, strength training and cardio is keeping my plate full.  

And I have to say, as it gets so much cooler outside, I am pretty damn happy I don't have to go out for any long runs.  Flying the weenie flag, people--and proud of it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Good Things Tuesday Sept 18th

Tuesday.  Here we are again.  This morning it's actually chilly!  I forgot how that felt after the summer of melting heat.  How refreshing to have the shivers :P

Here's what I'm grateful for this Tuesday:

1.  Deer hunting season.  It makes Bud happy, it makes me happy cause I get to read more while he sits in a tree.  Plus I get to enjoy spicy deer sticks later this season.  

2.  Lasagna.  Nothing like taking this steaming, ooey gooey pan of goodness out of the oven and pairing it with garlic bread.  

3.  Plastic freezer containers.  Seriously.  I would not be able to bake and freeze so many things without them.  

4.  Earl Grey Tea.  My favorite.  And I found this recipe for Earl Grey Shortbread cookies!

5.  Going to the gym and getting a serious sweat going.  Feel that fat melt away!  

6.  Salted Caramel Mocha at my bookstore cafe.  A treat I have once a week (with skim milk!)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Getting Back To Exercise

I hit the gym last Tuesday for the first time in months, and I have to say I felt so happy doing it!  Even better--the first person I saw was my former trainer, Wendy.  We talked for quite awhile about the gym, classes, and this great program the Y has called ActiveTrax.  It's a workout program that spits out a workout for you to follow that changes every time.  You just print it out, do the exercises, then record your workout either at the Y or at home on your computer.  Wendy got me set up in the program, and since I was short of time I returned two days later (at 5 AM!) to do my workout.  

Can I say I really really really love being up at 5 AM working out?  I really do.  But it's hard for me to WAKE UP.  Once I can get out of bed I'm usually ok.  And the gym is very quiet, so I can get to the machines without waiting.  And I'm a huge advocate of working out first thing in the morning.  If I wait I won't do it.  The day gets in the way, I'm tired after work, and I just want to go home. And I don't like working out in a crowded gym.   It's a big check off my list every day if I do a workout first.  It will be a challenge once the weather cools off and I want to stay under the covers.  I'm figuring out how to bribe myself to keep getting up early--maybe a new workout top or shorts every week I workout early?  Or a good smelly bath product.

I peeked in on a Zumba class, too.  Not too many people, but enough that I wouldn't stick out.  It looked like fun, and there's a class on Tuesdays (my usual day off) in the morning.  I'm going to give it a try and see how I like it.  

So now I've printed out my second workout, and I'm heading to the gym this morning.  Hoping to run a bit outside afterwards, since it's sunny and cool--a perfect September morning.  

I'm more happy than ever that I went back to the Y.  And I've been recording on my calendar when I work out and making sure I am taking my vitamins every day.  Baby steps, but I'm doing them.  

Food wise, I made 2 dozen pumpkin muffins last Tuesday, portioned them into freezer bags, and have been eating them for breakfast.  They are so darn good!  And they're keeping me away from buying a pumpkin muffin in my bookstore cafe every day I work.  I'm now looking at other muffin recipes (cranberry and apple for sure) to make again this Tuesday.  Soon my freezer will be full of muffins.  I'm being selfish and not sharing them with Bud.  Makes life easier if I have breakfast already planned--keeps me eating breakfast and not overeating later.  And if I can continue to get up at least 2 times a week to workout at 5AM before hitting my job, well--grab'n go breakfast is perfect.  Now to find a good eggy breakfast recipe.  The world will end for me if I eat so much pumpkin that I become pumpkin'd out.  That cannot happen.

I've been thinking about not running this time of year, and I have had a few moments of boo-hoo.  I do miss it, but don't miss the stress of trying to get into shape for a race.  Focusing on next year, and being ready to have some fun.  I've never been in such good shape that running was ever easy for me, so I'm hoping a winter full of 3x weekly strength training will make a difference, stop my feet from hurting, and lighten the load on my body.  Working on making exercise fun and important to my health and well being.  

Do you exercise?  What programs, if any, do you do?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Good Things Tuesday Sept 11, 2011

Deciding to post good things about my life on Tuesdays has somehow shifted my week mentally.  It's certainly a good thing to have one absolute thing to do besides getting up and going to work, right?  Here's what I'm grateful for this week:

1.  Cool nights.  I sleep so good I feel like I'm actually awake during the day.  Love this time of year!

2.  Pumpkin muffins.  I absolutely adore them and can eat them every day this time of year.  Welcome back pumpkin!

3.  All my "yearly" tests came back normal.  Body is healthy.  

4.  Dunkin' Donuts  coffee beans.  Finally bought a bag and brewed some at home. Can it be I've found the coffee that tastes good brewed at home?  What a treat.

5.  Ghost Hunters is back!  New season started last week.  Fall is here for sure and I'm glad to see my spooky shows starting up again.

6.  Deer hunting season starts this weekend.  Bud will be happy.  I will have extra time to read.  

What are your good things this week?  

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Confess: I Am A Total Ding-Dong

Last week I decided I was going to try Kosama.  But after watching an episode of Suze Orman Saturday night, it hit home that I need to think about what I am spending money on, and where it's best to get more bang for my buck.

I rejoined the YMCA this morning.  It's half the price of Kosama; basically around $10.50 a week for me to hit the Y every week, take whatever classes I fancy, use the pool, play racquetball, or use the equipment.  The only problem I foresee is me being lazy and not being motivated enough to hit the gym.  

I'm attempting to turn over a new leaf, however.  My friend C-Joy has been faithfully working out the past few months to help with her fibromyalgia, and she's made me step back and realize that if she can work through the fatigue and pain, surely I can do it.  I'm lucky to be fairly healthy, though a tad overweight.  That will be remedied if I just get off my ass and work out!  I have no excuse.  None at all.  Shame on me.

So I'm back at the Y after a month of dithering, exploring options, and being decidedly undecided.  The clincher was thinking about wanting to run on the treadmill in the cold winter months.  I couldn't do that if I didn't have the Y.  After mostly a year of not running much at all, I'm going to work on that this winter--nothing major, just short little runs on the treadmill.  It's all about losing some fat and putting on some muscle and building my legs up again so I'm ready for a few 5Ks this Spring.  But!  More importantly, trying a few new things.  I've got the class schedule in my bag and I'm going to try a few new things--and revisit my nemesis, the cycling class.  

It feels good to make the commitment.  Quite frankly, I've felt a little lost this past month with no "gym" anchor.  My mental game feels much better now.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Why Do Vacations Wear Us Out Instead Of Rest Us Up?

I have thoroughly enjoyed having a week off from work.  Don't get me wrong. It was very much needed!  But I've found that with one day left on my vacation, I am pooped.  Just in time to get back into the routine of things.

I didn't go anywhere, didn't change time zones, didn't do much but eat, drink beer, and eat again.  But it still wore me out.  

My brother and sis-in-law have left to get back to New Mexico, and I am sure they are even more exhausted with a 2 day drive in front of them.  But I hope they had a good time seeing family and friends and experiencing the total whacked out Iowa weather we had while they were here:  hot and incredibly humid one day, then no humidity and lovely temps the next.  Rinse and repeat.  Eyes and noses reaping the benefits of living where there's lots of green plants to kick in those allergies.  I think my brother hit all the places he wanted to go, and all the foods he enjoys while he's here:  pork tenderloin sandwich, Amana beef sticks, cherry strudel, and corn on the cob.  He even liked the chocolate cherry ice cream I made for dessert last weekend.  And it was so beyond great to see both Dan and Connie twice in one year.  That just doesn't happen at all.  

I ate too much too many times.  I think I will not drink any beer or go out to eat for at least a few weeks.  Home cooking (which we did get plenty of multiple times this week), iced tea, and catching up on sleep.  Those are my plans.  My fridge is well stocked with beer when Bud and I are ready to drink it again.  But now it's time to turn to Fall cooking--chili, enchiladas, cranberries, and pumpkin anything.  Oven on and ready to cook!  

One thing I wanted to do this week was have a mini read-a-thon.  That didn't happen.  As a matter of fact, I didn't get to read much at all.  Too busy during the day, family over almost every night until late, then either too tipsy or too tired to read before falling asleep.  I've managed to read 1 book this week.  Uggh!!!!  (She says shaking fists at the sky).  So while I should fold my freshly laundered clothes, I'm going to ignore them and do some reading.  My way of relaxing, getting my head straight, and digesting all that chaos of this past week.

The nap that follows helps, too.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Good Things Tuesday Sept 4th, 2012

Geez, Tuesdays come along quickly all of the sudden.  It's not because I've been terribly busy the last few days.  As a matter of fact, I've been incredibly non-busy and a bit lazy.  I blame it on the cold I have and the fact that it's hot and humid out again.  Lord, will this summer never end?!


1.  Central Air Conditioning.  

2.  A boyfriend who remembers to take pictures at family events when I completely forget to do so for most of the night.

3.  A little boy who was so happy to see me pull into his driveway.  Made his day with a new Lego and got to spend some time driving around CR with him, laughing about "old lady" drivers.  

4.  Maytag Blue Cheese.  Glorious stuff.

5.  Chocolate birthday cake with white frosting from Hy-Vee.  The bomb.

6.  Happy to have found Frida Kahlo.  Another subject to study.

7.  Grateful I've worked at a place long enough to have lots of vacation.  

Here we are, marching towards Fall.  Leaves are starting to turn, pumpkin muffins are in our Cafe at work, and I'm thinking of dishes that require an oven and not a grill.  Yippee!!

How's your Good Things Tuesday?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Vacation Has Begun!

My vacation has started with a visit to the Doctor's office about a sore throat.  Luckily, nothing major, just a very sore throat & swollen glands.  10 days of drugs to kick it out of my system.  Two days so far of feeling like crap, wanting to cry every 10 seconds, lay down, be quiet, and having strange thoughts about the show "Honey Boo Boo".  What can I say?  When I get sick, my mind takes a leap into crazy town.  Did you know more people watched episodes of Honey Boo Boo than the whole RNC?  

Bud tells me I probably can't drink with my meds--but I checked and it doesn't say anything about not drinking alcohol.  If I pass out after one beer, then we'll know I should lay off.  My taste buds are a little off, so drinking beer may not be an issue if it tastes like crap-ola.

Which will suck, cause my family is gathering for a very large cookout/potluck tomorrow.  We haven't all been together since our family Christmas in January, so it's time to let loose.  Tons of food, lots of kids running around, and lots of beer drinking and yapping of the jaws.  With such a large family it's hard for me to get together with all my brothers and sisters.  Now their kids are having kids, so it's even tougher to get together.  Someone is usually missing.  

So besides tomorrow's festival of fun, what do I have planned for my vacation?  

Reading.  Reading.  Reading.  

Spending a few days with one of my favorite people on the planet.  

Running.  Biking.  Reading.  

Making dinner for Bud.  We are in need of some together time pronto!  

Hope to stop down and see a friend finish a half marathon Sunday morning.  It's gonna be a warm one.  Glad I'm not doing it.  Next year, who knows?  Missed my races this year.  Let's hope there's no hot hot summer in 2013 so I can run without whining all summer long.  It's hard to run fast when you do that.  

And--I've made a decision on my workout.  I am going to try Kosama which is a group atmosphere, different workouts everyday, and lots of different painful things.  I will commit to two months, then if I don't like it, I will try something else.  Right now Crossfit scares the crap out of me.  I plan on signing up for Kosama next week, then getting started by Mid-September.  They have an orientation on Saturdays, so I have to fit that into work.  I'll keep everyone updated on it.  Kinda excited, but also missing the comfort of the Y.  But I'm a big girl, so I'll adjust.  

Oh--and just lovely.  All the plants I cut down after their summer of death have started to come back again.  This is bad.  I do not want them to think it's okay to grow again!  Fall is just around the corner; go back to sleep!!!

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good Things Tuesday August 28th

I almost forgot my Good Things Tuesday post!  

It's been a very busy week for me.  Lots of cleaning up around the house, finally mowing the yard, and making lists.  Love to make lists, but don't always cross it all off.

Good things for this Tuesday:

1.  Bud fixed my leaky faucet.  So so happy.  And I had the required tools and part to fix it already at my house.

2.  Finished two books that I can pass on to another person this week.  

3.  Took books to used bookstore, took clothes to Goodwill.  Feel a bit lighter for it.  

4.  Two more days at work before I have a week off.  Very very happy about some time to spend at home and relax.

5.  Family potluck this Saturday.  Can't wait to see everyone.  

6.  I found a recipe for crockpot Buffalo Chicken.  Making it for the family potluck.  I imagine it can't taste anything but super deluxe delish.

7.  Got to see my little niece Rose on Saturday.  She is such a cutie.  And she didn't cry but smiled at me when I picked her up.  Awwww.

8.  Rex-Goliath Wine.  $4.99 and awesome.  Thanks to two friends at work who told me about it.  Cheap, and good!

What are you grateful for this week?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Good Things About Tuesday Week 2

Had a conversation with my sister Michelle about gratitude.  She was told she's missing the great small things in her life, and to keep a journal and write every day about the happy things in her life.  Gee, flashbacks of Oprah!  But it's a great idea for everyone.  It's so easy to focus on the stress, the to-do list, the gotta do this and that list we have in our minds day in and day out.  So I'm going to make every Tuesday my Good Things Day.  One day a week is my starting point.  

Here's my Good Things list for this Tuesday:

1.  Buying new dishes today.  Ridiculously happy about this.  

2.  Seeing Bud tonight.  Belated birthday celebration for him.  So happy he's in my life I can't even form coherent words about it.

3.  Books.  They make me so happy.  All the time.

4.  Happy it's another sunny, beautiful day.  

5.  Glad to go for a run today.

6.  Thrilled I slept past 6 AM!  

7.  Happy dance for discovering the deliciousness of baked oatmeal.  I could eat it all day.  

8.  Mums are out.  Love their colors.  Want to buy every one of them.  

Once you start making a list of good things, it's easy to spot them all around you.  So easy, in fact, that your list could soon be a filled journal, or a full blog post.  ''

Join me on this journey!  As someone who can be a super unhappy/whiney/crabby/glass completely empty kind of person, looking at the small happy things in my life gives me a sun-shiney glow that will power me through my day.  And remind me that the best things usually come in small packages.  Except my Bud.  He's my biggest, best present of all time.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Week in a Nutshell

It feels like Fall is creeping into Iowa these past few weeks, and I haven't heard one person complain.  After such a hot hot hot summer (and continuing drought) we all welcome rainy days (still too few) and cool nights.  Miraculously, lawns are turning green again, and my two butterfly bushes have bloomed!  I actually mowed yesterday.  First time in probably 2 months.

But, there are casualties from this summer.  I am heading out now to hack away at my hostas.  Too fried to make a comeback before it's too cold.  It takes a lot to knock out a hosta, so I am treating them kindly, knowing they'll be back again next spring.  But I am really tired of looking at those wilty plants.  

I have such a list for the next two weeks for my house and yard.  It's time to get rid of the curtains in the living room and replace them with something new. Dishes are past their peak, and I've finally found something I like to replace them.  The old dishes have served me well for the past 10 years, but it's time for something fresh and new.  The old dishes will be boxed up and taken to Goodwill.  Along with the curtains.  And whatever I see around the house that I haven't thought about or cared about for at least a year.  I love that rule!  Makes detrashing much easier.  

The detrashing will extend to my basement and garage; quite frankly, I am frightened.  Frightened and dreading both areas.

There are spiders everywhere, and I can't walk two steps without wandering into a spider web.  I don't like to wear gloves cause I have a hard time finding a size for my wee hands, but I may be forced to use a pair to tackle these jobs.  I do not want to touch anything that may move or did move.  I shudder just to think about it.

Of course I have wasted the whole summer not doing anything on my list until this week, when I have a deadline--surprise visitors at the end of next week.  Not a surprise to me, but to many other people.  This means frantically cleaning, washing, and gutting the house.  Planning snacks and menus. Making  ice cream. Organizing the booze in the basement.  Important things.

But I can get a lot of shit done under pressure.  Now if only I could compress a marathon training schedule into 2 weeks, I would be pretty damn happy.  

Oh Fall, I can't wait to meet you again!  And folks, if you hear me cursing and freaking out--don't worry.  At the end of this 2 weeks of "fun" I will be relaxing and enjoying some down time.

Now off to gather my clippers!