Sunday, April 30, 2006

It's party time

Thanks to Leslie who pointed out the SnapShirts site to me. Using the ever-hip, Web 2.0 "folksonomy" tag cloud concept, it'll analyze any website you give it and produce a word cloud with the size of the words corresponding to how often they're used. Here's mine:

I thought this was so cool, and today (in a moment of online shopping weakness) decided to buy a T-shirt with this image on it. For some reason "TJ" doesn't show up in the cloud at all. So sad.

After my mega-nap yesterday, I couldn't get to sleep last night so I watched one of my TiVo'd Oprah episodes. This one featured Stacey London from TLC's "What Not to Wear" talking about how to dress to minimize your booty (or maximize it, if you're one of those people who has a very flat one.) Very floofy and entertaining but I did pick up a few tips (some of which I already knew but will share with you):

1. Don't buy pants with huge embellished, noticeable back pockets if you're trying to minimize your booty. The opposite is true if you have no curves there to speak of - buy jeans with big, 3 dimensional, fancy pockets to create the illusion of a butt. (I can't even imagine what it must be like to have that problem!)

2. No pleats, or tapered pants. EVER.

3. If you're short-waisted (short distance between your chest and waist) wear a lower rise to elongate that area so it doesn't look like you're wearing Mom jeans or nerd pants that are hiked all the way up.

4. The rest of us are in trouble if Tia Carrere (gorgeous woman from Wayne's World movies) thinks she needs advice on how to "hide" figure flaws. Seriously Oprah, pick someone who really needs help!! The stylist was pointing out things and saying "Now this doesn't look good on Tia because..." and I honestly couldn't tell the difference. Everything she tried on looked great, IMO...

Thanks to my male readers for bearing with me through the fashion lesson. I had a serious addiction to "What Not to Wear" and had to stop watching it after I got sick of it. It made me feel like throwing out everything in my closet and starting over. But it's a great show to pick up tips, especially if the person being featured has the same figure issues as you do. Or you can watch and be satisfied that at least you don't dress as badly as most of those folks.

Since it's 2pm I suppose I should change out of my pajamas and attempt to find (at the 3rd store) that natural weed killer spray called Burnout. I read some pretty scary stuff about RoundUp which TJ has been spraying all over our front yard. Apparently Fred Meyer and the garden supply near our house only stock the toxic stuff. Any ideas where to buy "natural" garden products??

Saturday, April 29, 2006

You turn around before the lightning strikes

TJ has decided to join the world of blogging. Check it out! (But don't believe him when he says I "vanquished" his single-guy life! I'm not that evil.)

I've been in one of those "take to my bed" sort of moods on and off for the past few months, but it's intensified since we returned from vacation. I'm sure this is in no small part to the extra 20 lbs I'm carrying around (in reality 40 more than I need total). It also doesn't help that a lot of my clothes don't fit and I'm just not that excited about the stuff that does. Part of the problem is having these clothes in plain sight, and accidentally picking them out in the morning when I'm trying to get dressed for work.

I've read some cheesy magazine and Web articles that say there's a link between getting organized and losing weight. I definitely know that since I gained all this goo, it seems like everything is disorganized: house, work, life in general.

So I'm slowly trying to regain control. (When really, all I'd rather do is curl up in my bed with the nice fluffy down comforter and take a nap.) I've probably slept an average of 10-12 hours per day for the last several weeks, and I know that's not good for me (it's a bad work avoidance trick I picked up in college). I suppose it's better than stress eating or picking up some really bad drinking or smoking habit, but when I get to that point I know it's time for me to really make some changes.

Today I went through my spring/summer clothes and hung up the ones that I can wear, and put away the winter clothes. Sadly, I have a huge bag of stuff that don't quite fit. With some work, they'll fit in a few months when the really hot weather gets here. I guess when that time comes I can go "shopping" in my closet instead of buying a whole lot of new things. So now mostly everything in my closet is something I can wear, which just makes me a feel a little bit better.

I've also figured out this week that I really just can't eat healthy when I go out to eat (unless it's something inherently healthy like sushi). While we've made some great progress in eating out less, I think I need to work a little harder and *really* cut back to 1x/week for lunch and dinner and be strict about it. I have a horrible habit of thinking "just this one time won't hurt" and before you know it, I've eaten out 5 times in a week. Or it's poor planning - I'm at work, or out running errands and I didn't bring anything healthy to snack on, so I have to go buy something, which usually ends up being crap.

On the plus side of the bitch and whine balance sheet, I did the first 3 workouts of the Couch to 5k running program and even pushed myself to extend the 8 minutes of running to 10. So far I really like it. Next week's workouts are 1.5 min running/2 min walking for 20 min, so it shouldn't be too difficult. The upside to being so out of shape is that it's really easy to make progress. I've been wearing my heart rate monitor so I can really see that I'm working hard.

I bought a few new CDs today. Queensryche recently released Operation Mindcrime II" and while it would be ridiculous to think it could be anywhere near as good as the original, it's actually not as bad as I had feared. I'm up to Track 5 so far and it's decent. I think if I listened to it more, I think I will actively like it (which is saying a lot since I haven't really liked any of their albums since Empire in 1990). I can't believe that I was 13 when I first saw them (opening for Def Leppard in Wheeling West Virginia in 1989!) and I'm going to see them again in Seattle in October (with my *husband* for crying out loud!). I just don't feel that old.

Yesterday we went to the Everett Symphony with TJ's aunt and uncle (hi Aunt Susie!). Though I don't know much about classical music it was really neat to see it live. The theater is pretty small so we had a great view. It inspired me to pick up another Bond CD (that's as close to classical as I'll get.)

I'm never sure how to end my posts. But I need to get back to my closet cleaning project. Cheerio!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fallin' apart at the seams

Well, the SD card experiment was a success. Thanks to the wonders of technology, all I had to do was pop the little card into the slot in Otto's dashboard, and suddenly I had 1GB of 80s heavy metal music at my fingertips. The only problem is that when I ripped the CDs, the title starts with the track number so all the "Track 01" songs are together, and so on. If I get really ambitious I need to figure out how to keep albums together. "Operation:Mindcrime" by Queensryche is really something that should be listened to from beginning to end.

I cooked today:

I cheated a bit since it was gorgeous out today, and I didn't want to spend the whole day in the kitchen learning how to make bread dough. I bought pre-made whole wheat pizza dough at Trader Joe's. I LOVE that store. For $1.19, I saved a bunch of time, but also changed the recipe pretty significantly. The recipe for Bierocks (p.33 in the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2005 cookbook) calls for a sweet dough made out of regular flour. But the whole wheat pizza dough worked nicely - great texture! The taste of the filling is pretty bland though - just some turkey, onion and cabbage with salt and pepper. I added a little bit of parmesan cheese to the top of each one, which definitely helped. I think I'll try them tomorrow with a little tomato sauce. And now I know I can use this dough to make calzones pretty quickly. Woo hoo!

I did the 2nd workout of the Couch to 5K running plan today (see previous post). It was another amazing day - I only ran 10 min out of 30, but it just felt *so* good. I haven't had such a great workout in a long time. Which also explains why I was so wiped out after that.

TJ and I also did some more yardwork (boo!) but at least the front yard looks a little bit better now. It was nice to be outside and I didn't see too many bugs. I managed to convince him not to use Roundup to kill the weeds, and found a natural alternative on the Internet called "Burnout" that uses vinegar and some kind of citrus oil. Now I just have to figure out where to buy it. While I'm no granola girl, I really try to use non-toxic cleaners and household chemicals where I can, mostly so the puppies are safe. (And us, too.)

Well, off to enjoy the last bits of my weekend. I can't believe it's already the end of April!

All I'm ready to do is have some fun

I remembered how good running made me feel, even though I am really slow, so I started the Couch to 5k Training Program again. Here's to making it past week 3! With my trusty iPod filled with happy music, I should be ready to go. My first run was on Friday morning, and it felt really good. (Of course, that was only 8 minutes of running and 22 min of walking, but you gotta start somewhere.) I am comfortably sore today.

There's a 5k run on Jan 29 that's part of Seafair, so I think that'll be my target. I have about 14 weeks to prepare. (The program itself is only 12, so maybe I could spend those last 2 weeks working on hills, or increasing my speed.)My goal is still to run a 5k in under 30 minutes sometime this year.

This week wasn't so great for weight loss - I stayed the same, which I guess is better than gaining weight. This might be due to the fact that I ate lunch out almost every day the previous week. Oh, and eating at Claim Jumper the night before I usually weigh myself probably wasn't too wise either. And my workout schedule was sort of lax too. My laziness is really hard to overcome but I'm making progress.

I made some banana-oatmeal bread today since I had some overripe bananas. It turned out pretty well. Tomorrow I'm going to try to make bierocks, which are Russian-Mennonite savory pastries with cabbage, turkey and onions in them. Since I've never worked with yeast/dough recipes before, this should be a learning experience.

We took the dogs to the Downtown dog park today. Peanut has had an ear infection on and off for a couple of months, and I think it never really clears up because we take him swimming more often. So I guess there will be no swimming for him for a while. It'll be a good excuse for me to take him out for long walks, too. (Which both of us need!)

I *finally* filled my 1GB SD card with music so I'll see if the little card reader in my Audi works tomorrow. Since the Audi's CD changer only holds 6 CDs this will be a good way to have a larger variety of music. Not that I drive that much... I bought the card last November for this purpose and just got around to filling it up now.

It helps that TJ has been on a rampage to burn all our CDs to MP3 format. While I love Microsoft, their WMA format just doesn't work with a lot of devices (like my iPod and my car) so we had to re-burn everything to MP3, which is a lot more flexible. But unfortunately MP3 format takes up more space so we're pretty close to filling up the entire network storage drive that we bought a few years ago.

This weekend has been pretty mellow - no plans, just trying to get things in order around the house. I did some weeding today - I'm very proud of that. I hate yardwork. I need to research some kind of groundcover that's low-maintenance and crowds out weeds, otherwise our front yard is going to be a losing battle.

Ramble on, friends.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I'll send an SOS to the world

This weekend is just flying by! I feel like I've gotten nothing done, but in reality:

1. I paid my overdue University of Washington extortion fee. (I had to pay 50% of the tuition for dropping that class a day too late!)
2. I am in the middle of doing laundry for the week.
3. We took the dogs to Luther Burbank Park today so they could swim in Lake Washington. (And in the mud, as it turned out!)
4. We gave both dogs a bath. Poor Spike is still indignant about it.
5. We bought some shelves for the garage and actually went through a bunch of the boxes we moved from Tucson 3 years ago but never opened. Now the trash can is full and the recycle can is pretty close to full. (The garage is still a mess but we're making progress.
6. I posted a bunch of stuff for sale on - it's Microsoft's new classified ad service, kinda like Craig's list but I gotta represent for the 'Soft.
7. I also posted some items to our local Freecycle list to give them away. So far no one's come to claim them, but I'm holding out hope. Anyone interested in a 6-foot workbench or some track light fixtures?
8. We have assembled a giant pile of stuff to take to Goodwill tomorrow.
9. I'm getting ready to do the weekly grocery run at Trader Joe's. Funny how when you eat at home, you have to go grocery shopping more often...
10. TJ figured out a new scheme for our money such that we put everything into one account and take out xx amout for "willy nilly" individual spending money. Currently we do the reverse, and have a set amount we donate to our "we" account, and we keep the rest individually.
11. We went to Ikea to check out the shelves our interior decorator recommended to us (yes, I know how pretentious that sounds).

So I guess it doesn't sound like that much of a lazy weekend, does it? I still need to complete a homework assignment for my stats class (I'm really far behind now!) and do some reading for it. Shouldn't be too bad. Hope y'all are having a great weekend!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

And he shall reign forever and ever...

Those of you reading this are no strangers to my gazillion attempts to eat right and workout on a regular schedule in attempt to get down to, and maintain a healthy weight.

After the trip to Hawaii and resulting weight splooge, TJ and I solemnly swore we would stop eating out. Or at least severely curtail that practice. We were really good that first week - we only went out to dinner once, and I think I may have gone out to lunch once. That paid off and I lost 3 lbs. (Amazing how cause and effect works!)

This week hasn't been quite as virtuous though it's been better than the average week. I have managed to stick to (more or less) the Weight Watchers recommended plan for the week. I so love tracking this stuff online and not having to go to the bitch and moan meetings in person. You're in a room full of supposedly supportive strangers all in various stages of weight loss. People share "tips" like "Keep a can of vegetables in your desk drawer for an easy snack". Gross! My all-time favorite was when I was doing WW in college (before the Internet y'all), when some lady talked about how she kept a spoon in her purse for grocery shopping, where she would pick up a carton of ice cream and eat it while she shopped, putting the empty container down to pay for it at the end. I mean, get a grip, people!

Maybe I'm insensitive, but I guess the reason why I've tried to do this so many times is that I just get bored, or lazy, not because of some compulsion to eat a lot. It is a drag to carefully monitor everything you eat, and write it all down (or in my case, enter it on a website). Since I don't want to do this again, and would like to make permanent healthy changes to my diet, I've been trying to actually eat the recommended number of servings of dairy (2-3 per day) and fruits/veggies (5+) and thinking about that is kind of annoying. I'd almost always prefer a giant hunk of bread or cheese rather than an orange or some broccoli. I'm trying to get myself to enjoy eating balanced meals instead of processed garbage. Unfortunately the processed crap is much faster to prepare, since I'm not a fan of salads or raw vegetables. So this really is a lifestyle change more than a diet. (or a "menu" as the skinnyjeans blog gal talks about).

And it's been a bit hard on my social life, too. Most of my socializing at work is over lunch or coffee. Coffee I can still do - chai latte has a whole serving of milk in it and I've got the yummy sugar-free stuff from Oregon Chai! Lunch is more difficult. I usually bring a frozen meal or something I've cooked and chow down at my desk. It does save money and time, though, so I guess all is not lost. And I've just got to get better at coming up with *other* things to do besides eating, when I meet friends. Which would be possible if it *ever* stopped raining around here.

The even better news is that I'm hating the gym just a tiny bit less than usual. I have managed to work out 6 days this week. A few days I've lifted weights and walked on our treadmill at home, and the rest I actually went to the gym.

Part of me is embarassed to see my old trainer Nelson, and my old "Cardio Explosion" instructor James because they always say hi to me and ask me how I'm doing. And I'm always thinking "well, I'm 20 lbs heavier than I was a year ago, and I'm sure they see that" and I get all low-self-esteemish and mumble and try to get out of there as quickly as possible. When in all honesty, I'm sure they don't notice, or don't care. (It also doesn't help that a lot of my cute workout clothes don't fit anymore so I feel like a schmo in my oversize Caltech T-Shirt.)

I could go back to working out with them, but I just have the gut feeling that it wouldn't work. As we got close to our wedding last year, I was seriously hating my workouts with Nelson. They definitely were challenging and pushed me to my limits, but I just wasn't enjoying them. And Nelson didn't really get why I couldn't just eat the same thing every day and follow the prescribed low carb plan to the letter. I'm sure I was a very frustrating client. I knew what to do, and just wasn't doing it. Not because I had any "issues" to overcome, except my own laziness.

I hated that meal plan. It was definitely not something I could sustain, though I definitely try to eat more protein and will still drink the occasional protein meal-replacement shake when I'm not hungry but know I need some kind of nutrition.

But something feels just a tiny bit different this time. I'm not on a deadline, like I was for the wedding. Heck, I'm not even trying to be skinny before my 30th birthday, since that's already passed, and really, who does anything interesting for their 31st? I really, really like my life. I have a supercool, fantastic husband who seems to like me too, and two dogs who wouldn't care if I weighed 300 lbs as long as I took them to the park occasionally. We have a house that we love, and jobs that are interesting and challenging, not to mention flexible enough to accomodate an 8am workout so I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn. So really, with that all in place, what more do I need to help me just work on this last thing that's really been bugging me? I realize I'm really, really lucky to have this kind of life and I'm as set up for success as I ever will be. So now it's time to just sort this problem out once and for all.

Woo hoo! And once it's all done and I've settled on a nice final goal weight that I can comfortably maintain, I am going on the mother of all shopping sprees for cute clothes. I can't wait! (Except that I can, because it's going to take me a while to get there...)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Well, pretty good year

So I guess the 1 year anniversary of my blog was sometime this past week. That's a pretty significant milestone given my short attention span.

I'm sad to report I had to drop that programming class. Just way too much work. I was already behind at my job from our 10 day vacation, and adding a bunch of extra work was clearly not the answer.

The good news is that now my work email is somewhat under control and I'm not feeling too stressed about the huge customer event I'm planning for 5 weeks from now.

I'm feeling rather uninspired today, so that's it for me. Hope the rest of y'all out there are having a Happy Spring.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Spring turned to summer, then winter turned mean

Hey! I think our long and dreary winter is finally over. Sure, there are still overcast crappy days but there are definitely more clear and sunny days, and pockets of clear and sunniness even in those dreary days. We took advantage of one of those pockets yesterday to take the dogs to Marymoor. As always, they loved it. Thanks to our investment in a ChuckIt, we can play fetch with Spike until he gets so tired he forgets to bring the ball back. Not only does it make up for my horrible throwing, it also shields me from having to pick up the nasty, dirty, slobbery ball.

Dre and I got pedicures yesterday at the newly remodeled Paule Attar Salon in Bellevue, then spent a little quality time shopping at Nordstrom. Unfortunately, it was more like horribly depressing shopping because of the recent weight splooge. But I've been eating much more healthy stuff since we got back from vacation, and to celebrate our first 2 weeks of eating at home, we went to Canlis last night. (I suppose celebrating eating healthy by going out to eat is somewhat crazy, but we were looking for an excuse to go to Canlis.)

We ordered the tasting menu at Canlis last night because it sounded interesting, and shared the wine pairing. The sommeliers were crazy generous, because that was way more than enough and we couldn't even finish those. Before each course, the sommelier comes and pours the wine and tells you about it. Very neat. Yesterday's focus was on Washington wines. Nothing super yummy, but they were all pretty good. (To my uneducated wine palate.)

The food was excellent, starting with a beet salad made of red and yellow beets, and feta cheese with a ginger dressing. YUM! Even TJ, who normally hates vegetables, liked it. The next course, an appetizer of Maine lobster with a foie gras sauce, also yummy, but the sauce was way too rich for me. Having made a lot of effort to eat right in the last 2 weeks has really shrunk my appetite. I ate about half of the beef tenderloin and gave the rest to TJ. (Note to self: medium is really not cooked enough for me). By the time we got to dessert, after 11pm and absolutely stuffed, I was only able to pick at the Valhrona chocolate cheesecake with blood orange coulis. The blood orange part was yummy anyway.

Well, I'm off to the grocery store to buy snacks for the Caltech Admitted Students Reception today. I'm expecting about 5 or 6 students and their parents, and about 8 alumni. I like doing this every year. It's a place for newly admitted undergrad students to celebrate getting in, and ask any questions they have about going there from local alumni. Some have already made up their mind to attend, while others are still deciding. I wanted to make a proper English tea for the food, but since I spent much of yesterday out, or working on my first homework assignment for CSS 342, I guess I'll settle for some store-bought stuff from Larry's Market. Cheerio!

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