Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Changing Things Up

I hate to sound egotistical, but this past week has pretty much been all about me.  For the past two months L and I have been counting calories and carefully planning our meals.  Well, me more than him - how is it fair that men can eat more calories (like a LOT more), exercise the same, and still lose more weight than we ladies can?  Fair or not, I have to be extra vigilant about what I eat or choose not to eat just to make the scale move in a downward direction.  But it's paying off - 15 pounds, my friends!  It's actually been more like 20 pounds, but 15 since I started this little regimen of ours.  A few clothes are too loose, most are comfortable (at last) and a few things are fitting again after a long while of being too small/tight.  I've not bought many new things as I think I'll be down a size after another 5 pounds or so.  I'd rather wait for that.  But I can now wear a size medium instead of large.  What's next?  A small?  Why not, I say - the sky's the limit, and I still have 25 more pounds to reach my goal. 

This week marked the start of me taking on extra tasks at work while a coworker is taking her mandatory 60 days off.  The particular things I had to learn are detailed and complicated, and I was sweating bullets all week trying to make sure it all went well.  So far, so good.  I only had a couple of days training with her over the phone and video conferencing to learn.  It's hard to think of everything that could happen - every possible scenario - in that short amount of time.  And actually, the first time I had to execute this particular task, I goofed it all up.  But it was a good thing - really - because it forced me to think my way out of it, and things started to make sense, instead of being something I was doing just from memory.  But I went to bed really early that night, completely worn out.

And gosh - that's pretty much it.  How boring - losing weight, and learning new tricks at work.  Oh wait - my eye infection finally HEALED!!  It was an entire month I had that thing.  I practically kissed my contacts when we were finally able to become one again.  And makeup.  I'd forgotten how nice I could actually look, and it was a pleasant treat to view myself with makeup again.  So there's that.

Our Mia finally lost her front tooth this past week.  Just like her mama - a total victory when that tooth finally broke loose.  It was hanging by a thread for almost a week, but no one had the chutzpah to just yank it out.  So she worked on it and wiggled it and wiggled it.  And this is what happened:

Wish I could have been there, but I hear the tooth fairy wrote her a very glittery thank you note accompanied by an equally glittery dollar.

Not to be outdone, sister Hayden has been practicing her party tricks:

 She definitely doesn't take after me.  Sadly.  Numbers and me were never friends...  She just got enrolled for preschool in the fall, and she should take it by storm.  This girl is no shrinking violet.

And that about wraps up the week.  Except for one thing.  I totally whacked my hair off.  Again.  I was afraid I wouldn't like it, but as luck would have it, I really really do.  Katie likes my long hair better.  Maybe lots of people will.  But I needed a change.  I'm having kind of a big milestone birthday this year.  We won't mention which one just yet, but it's definitely a milestone.  I've just lost 20 pounds, and will lose even more before I'm done.  My face has thinned down.  Everything has miraculously shrunk down.  Dare I say it, I'm starting to look a little sassy.  And I needed a change to reflect that, and to celebrate a little bit.  So I celebrated by changing my hair.  Switching up my look.  I tried all day to take a selfie that did the new do justice, and I wasn't successful.  This is the hairstyle I was going for:

So if you can just ignore the gorgeous 18 year old and picture the same thing on me, this is it:

It's layered with lots of movement, and it's super SUPER easy.  Dries and styles in just a few minutes.  Bike riding?  Just pull off that bike helmet and ruffle it up and it looks just fine.  For now, I'm very happy.  Best news is that I got invited to be one of the hair models in a class at my salon next month.  It'll be some new technique, and that's what will make it look a whole lot more interesting than it does right now.   And at no charge - WOOT!  So stay tuned.  My look is ever changing, along with life in general.  I'm just getting in shape so I can stay nimble.

Finally, I want to wish my son Scott a very happy birthday.  His birthday is June 3rd, and I wish like anything I could have been there to celebrate with him.  He invited me to come, but the flight prices were not in my favor.  He is turning 30 - the same age I was when I had him.  It seems incredible, but there you go.  Life just keeps happening.  Children get to be the same age you were just yesterday.  And you get to be an age that you thought was reserved for your mother.  Or your grandmother.  And you realize it's not so bad after all. Beauty comes in all ages and sizes, after all.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Someone's In The Kitchen

It was a lovely, relaxing Sunday.  One where I was able to try out a new recipe I'd been dying to try.  A couple of years ago L and I were celebrating our anniversary with a weekend in Pasadena.  We ate brunch at a darling cottage-turned-restaurant that served the most amazing Eggs Benedict I've ever had.  Instead of an English muffin, the base was a crab cake.  I smacked my lips over it, went home, and kind of forgot about them.  Until the other day when I saw a very similar recipe on the Williams Sonoma blog.  That beautiful weekend with all of it's anniversary memories came spilling back into my mind, and I couldn't wait to try that recipe for myself.

It seemed simple enough: crabmeat, onions, Tabasco, mayonnaise, Panko bread crumbs.  Saute some spinach in butter.  Poach eggs.   And really, it wasn't difficult at all.  The crab cakes were stirred up, formed into patties, coated in Panko crumbs and refrigerated for an hour or so. 

That left the spinach, poaching the eggs, and actually pan frying the crab cakes.  There's also Hollandaise sauce (food of the gods, I'm convinced), but I cheated a bit there, because Trader Joe's had a little container of ready made.  Couldn't be any easier than that!  And so, as the dinner hour approached, I first sauteed the spinach in butter until it wilted, then while I kept it warm, I simultaneously pan fried crab cakes, slipped eggs into the poaching water, flipped the crab cakes over to sear the other side, and slipped the poached eggs out of the poaching water and into a bowl of hot water to keep warm.  I'd never poached eggs before, and mine definitely weren't as pretty as the picture of the recipe, but they were easy enough.  Very interesting process, poaching eggs.  And practice makes perfect, right?

While I did all of that, L made us a little antipasto plate: sliced pinot grigio summer sausage, tomato slices, slices of fresh mozzarella.  So fresh and good!

To arrange, there was a base of two crab cakes, topped with some sauteed spinach, warm and buttery.  Topping that were two poached eggs, with a spoonful of warm Hollandaise sauce poured over all.  A simple summer dinner.  Calorie rich?  Oh my, yes.  But we made lunch and dinner one meal by eating at 4:00 or so.  That way we were able to combine our alotted calories from two meals into one.  I say diets need not be grim and boring.  Every once in a while, it's good to make yourself something rich and delicious.  You just have to plan ahead, and while I certainly can't do it every day, special occasions are allowed.  And for today, for a special little supper, it was perfect.  If you'd like to make it yourself, the recipe can be found here

So far I've lost a little over 11 pounds, and I'm still going.  I'm down a whole size in clothes!  I'm starting to like what I see in the mirror.  I'm encouraged, and happy about how much stronger I feel.

To add even more happiness, I discovered a nifty little sweet treat the other day and actually made it yesterday.  When you crave something sweet and dessert-y, like apple pie, make a smaller version of it.  Instead of a slice, it's just a bite.  And after dieting for awhile, a bite is oftentimes all you need.  I took an apple, peeled it, and cut it into 8 slices.  I bought a can of Buttermilk biscuits - you know, like the Pillsbury kind in a can.  (Or, if you're really a purist, I guess you could make your own!  I'm too lazy...)  Roll each biscuit out a little bit so it's a bit flatter and large enough for the apple slice.  (You can also roll the apple up in a Pillbury crescent roll if you want)  Place the apple slice in the middle of the dough, sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar, and a dot of butter.  Pinch the edges together and place it on a baking sheet.  At this point, you could brush  some melted butter or a beaten egg over it and sprinkle it with more sugar to make it pretty.  I didn't, and it was just fine, but it really would be prettier if you did.  Anyway, then you bake them for 15 minutes or so (refer to the instructions on whatever kind of dough you're using).  When they're baked, you have a little "bite" of apple pie.  Only instead of 300-400 calories, it's just 185.  And so, so good and completely satisfying to that old sweet tooth.  You could use all kinds of different fruit - I'm thinking berries would be wonderful!  Or peaches...

And so on this Sunday evening, I'm trying to savor the last little bit of free time.  Next week is going to be stressful, to say the least.  I will be doing my work, and also some new tasks I've had to take on for a coworker while she takes her corporate-mandated 60 day break.  I had to have a crash course Wednesday-Friday to learn everything, and I've been dreaming about it every night.  You know how that is...  I'm terrified I won't remember how to do everything.  As if that weren't enough, there are also other new tasks I'd already agreed to take on, and those are going to start rolling in as well.  The up-side is that I will see an increase in hours, no doubt about it.  I'm sure I'll be ready for my own 60 days off starting in July, but for now, money cures a lot of discomfort, doesn't it?  The rest are cured (at least for me) by spending some time in the kitchen and whipping up good things to eat.  Good things I don't have to feel bad about eating. These little treats were a win/win.

I hope you all have a good week.  For myself, I hope I'll be able to come up for air at some point, and that all of my worrying will be for naught.  We'll see.  Let me know if any of you try making any of these things.  You will want to high five me because they're so, so easy, and so good.

I even found arm fulls of my very favorite flowers at Trader Joe's this weekend: Peonies!  So beautiful, so lush, and they have the sweetest smell.  Love...  Yes, it was a good weekend.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Four Eyes For Now

Can you believe that my eye is STILL a problem?  Last Friday I called the optometrist to tell him it wasn't feeling any better - in fact, it was a little worse.  He had me come in then, instead of waiting for Saturday morning.  He took a look, threw up his hands, and sent me across the street to an ophthalmologist who, luckily, was able to take me on a Friday afternoon.  They put dye into it.  They put numbing drops into it (which felt really good, by the way) and he said "Hmmmm..." a lot.  Apparently, the antibiotic drops I'd been using for the past two days were about the strongest available, and my eyes had, in fact, gotten worse on them.  He prescribed another round of that one, plus two others.  Basically, I was/am using an antibiotic drop of one kind or another around the clock.

It's finally starting to heal.  Today is the first day in a week that I haven't felt like there was sand in my eye.  The first day the right eye hasn't been swollen.  The specialist told me yesterday he'd been afraid last Friday that he was going to have to put me in the hospital for a cornea scraping.  I don't know what that is.  I don't want to know.  Ever.  But he was happy about the improvement.  He did waggle his finger at me and tell me definitely, positively NO CONTACTS and NO MAKEUP.  Sweet.  I think he told me the hospital story so I would mind him.  It worked.

Sadly, I am going down to San Diego (La Jolla) to a medical conference tomorrow.  For 3 days.  Three.Long.Days. without contacts or makeup.  Luckily, it will be just a bunch of cardiologists and nurses who couldn't care less what I look like, or even who I am.  I was really hoping to lose the Coke bottle specs just because I can't see as well with them as I can with contacts, but I'll be good.  It will mostly be me sitting in a large conference room all day with these people, listening to lectures I don't really understand, checking Facebook and email occasionally.  A lunch break.  A dinner with all of my new friends.  Repeat the next two days.  And L to snuggle up with at day's end.

Because L will be sneaking down with me.  He will be able to enjoy the pool and amenities, soak up the lovely San Diego weather, and basically enjoy himself.  All while I'm trapped in a hospital conference room.  But I'm grateful that I don't have to drive myself down there.  My eyesight isn't all that good with glasses - a little too much nearsightedness, combined with astigmatism makes for a combo that's hard to correct, so I don't like driving when I'm not familiar with the area.    And I don't think he minds at all.  He's very self reliant, the weather will be stellar, and he won't have me to hold him back.  San Diego Zoo?  Maybe.  The beach?  Probably.  Pool?  Most definitely.  I'll be jealous, that's for sure.

I had a great Mother's Day.  I heard from every one of the kids, and even one of the spouses, Autumn, sent me a personal text.  It was great.  Katie arranged with L to surprise me with a beautiful lavender orchid.  And L served me breakfast in bed, and made the best dinner for us.  That evening we went over to Mom and Dad's and had dessert with them while we visited away.  It was a treat to see my dad looking so much healthier, with his appetite much improved.  And there's nothing - NOTHING - he loves more that dessert.  He's so thin, no one said a word when he had more.  Made me glad, is what it made me.  His hair is growing back, and his color is better.

Mom seemed happy to have other people to talk to besides Dad.  I think this has been a long, hard haul for her - a different kind of difficult for her, but just as hard on her as on Dad.  I'm hoping to see her freed up a bit over the next few months.  Able to get out and away with her friends.  More out and about with Dad.  Less movies and dinners at home, avoiding germs.  Summer will hopefully be a good time for them.  She hasn't really complained.  She's done her part with patient willingness.  I am honored to be her daughter and learn from her example of grace under pressure.  It's hard to have your world completely rearranged for a year or so, but her complaints were rare and small.  I'm hoping this next year will be a year of feeling better, and maybe bring a little travel that they've been wanting to do.  I know Dad has his heart set on a Panama Canal cruise.

So that's my week in a nutshell.  It's time for more eyedrops and a little bit of shutting them to rest.  (Really - doctor's orders!)  A little wash, a little packing up and preparing for the next few days.  When I see you next, I hope to have fully functioning eyes.  Because I'm getting really tired of dropping $40 every time I have to go to the doctor's to have them checked.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Sunny Patch

I'm settling back into routine.  I'm not sure if that's a plus or not, but it's comfy.  I mentioned in my last post that I got the eye infection.  It seemed to go away for several days, and then the following week it came back in the OTHER eye.  Just shoot me...  It now seems to be gone again, but I'm afraid to wear makeup or put contacts in.  I finally did put some contacts in, because I have some leftovers in a color I didn't really care for, so if I have to throw them away again, no big deal.  I'm getting low on my favorite ones, but I can't get more because I need to have an eye appointment first.  But I have a lot of things coming up - a business meeting next week followed by possible jury duty. (Just shoot me again.)  At least it's a call-in type, so maybe I'll be lucky and not have to actually go in.  I can't afford the time off to just sit there, and I really can't afford to sit on a jury.  If I don't work, I don't get paid.  The end.  Even if I did get paid, I'm not anxious to sit there with the kinds of people who have no good reason not to sit there all day, and who make comments while deliberating a verdict like "But he looks like such a nice man!" (Said of a child molester who was here illegally.  'Nuff said.)

So back to my original quandary: when to schedule an eye appointment so I can replenish my stock of Sea Green contacts from 1-800-Contacts.  They get a little hinky when they can see you haven't seen an eye doc for a couple of years.  But I also need to make sure this freaking infection is gone, too.  The last thing I need is to have it break out again while I'm down in La Jolla at my business meeting.  Ah, serendipity...

Let's see.  The other excitement around here (yes, my life is a regular ball of fire) is that I got my hair chopped about 6 inches.  I like it.  It's okay.  I think I was picturing something a little bit different, but dang if I know what.  To me, it just looks like a 6 inch shorter version of what I already had.  I think I was picturing something a little more choppy, tousled, more... I don't know.  I'll have to find a picture I guess.  I did show my stylist a picture, but I think I was picturing things that weren't in the picture, like choppy and touseled, and she gave me exactly what the picture looked like.  Not her fault at all.  So now, unless I can come up with a physical image that's like what my head is thinking of, the dilemma will turn into whether to go shorter or to grow it out a little longer.  Like I said, my life is a ball of fire.  Here's what I got:

I love the glow of the monitor.  Zeros out all of those pesky wrinkles and lines.  This is pre-bike ride so it's still nice and neat.

Here it is again after a bike ride.  It's a little bit messier, which I kind of like.  Sort of.  But it's still not exactly what I had in mind, so I have some searching to do, I guess.

Because if I go to my stylist again with just a vague idea, and then don't like it, I think she'll throw me out.  I need to step carefully here.

Other good news?  I've reached a 10 pound weight loss!  WOOT!  It was a hard-won battle, my friends.  My body does not let go of pounds easily these days, but I'm winning the fight, slowly but surely.  My old clothes are feeling a little loosey, and things that were too tight (or impossible) before, are beginning to range from comfortable fit, to reasonable.  It's quite exciting.  Like anyone, I still look at myself and think "You're fat."  But I'm also having more days where I can see the difference.  It's far from perfect, or even really good, but I'm seeing PROGRESS.  I've hit a weight that I haven't been at since 2002, and that's REALLY exciting.  Of course, being a MAN, L has lost more weight than me.  He tries not to openly gloat, but it makes me want to spike his Diet Coke with the full bore formula.  But really - he's been so supportive, and so helpful in not sighing heavily when he can't have an evening TV snack that I can't complain.  

Yesterday we both broke ranks and hightailed it down to Balboa Island for a frozen banana dredged in chopped pecans and crumbled Heath Bar pieces.  You know how you have that day where you just can't take it anymore?  No more diet, no more sensible eating.  Well, yesterday was that day.  But what you begin to realize is that no one got fat eating the occasional sweet.  Or even a weekly treat.  They probably didn't lose weight either, but it's the constant, mindless popping this or that into your mouth (and my "this or that" usually involves cheese or something sweet.  Or bread) that kills you.  The nightly TV snack.  So we've stopped that nonsense.  We've been riding our bikes 8 miles/40-45 minutes 5-6 nights a week.  The other nights we try to do something else a little different, like the stationary bike (which also has an elliptical feature) or just some weights or yoga.  We record everything we eat in our My Fitness Pal app, and (I never would have thought it) it's working!!  Anyway, enough about that.  I just needed to toot my own horn for a minute.  Indulge me.

To catch you all up, Dad is off chemotherapy.  The goal was reached, and he's now taking some kind of "maintenance" drug that is hot off of FDA approval.  His copay is $1700/month.  Wow.  I'm not angry or resentful - drug research and development is horrifically expensive and costs need to be recouped.  But I had to wonder how the average patient would be able to afford that.  It's seven long years before a drug's patent is up.  Until then, it's crazy expensive.  His hair is coming back in little peach-fuzzy tufts, and his color is better.  He's able to stand up straighter now that he's not so exhausted.  Good to see.

My aunt is doing a little better.  She took another tumble which finally FINALLY convinced her that she needs to do something about her muscle strength.  Which means she needs to eat 3 meals a day and do some kind of meaningful exercise - not just walk around her small room.  My sister in law is over there teaching her how to access the internet (I have mixed emotions about my aunt turned loose on the Internet...) and tomorrow I am taking her shoe shopping.  Baby steps.  But steps forward all the same.

The kids and grandkids are all doing well.  And yes, that makes me nervous, checking over my shoulder for the next drama to hit.  It's a shame that happiness also makes you a little nervous, isn't it? But only when I stop and think about it.  Otherwise, I'm like a pig in slop.  Blissfully unaware of the next Bad Thing.  No point thinking too hard about it, because no matter what you prepare yourself for, it will for sure be something you would never have dreamed up.  So I try to enjoy this happy patch, take pride in accomplishments, enjoy being with the Mister every night, live for the next grandchild sighting.  Try to keep my spiritual armor strong and polished, and shiny, as that's always the best defense for events that are unpredictable and way beyond my control.  Some days it feels like a mirror in the sun, other days not so much.  But I notice that my hearing has improved from listening for answers to prayers.  I am not so shy about taking needed action.  I am able to find my voice when one is needed.   I've come to realize that I am never alone.  Never.  All things that don't come easily to me.  But with valued family and friends behind me and beside me, I'm getting better as I go along - learning and growing.  And that's the whole point of being here.

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