December 31, 2009

2009 pictures

Jen is doing a 2009 top ten year in review.  What a great way to end the year and the decade!

Ever Easter, my family gets together for a big holiday meal much like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Jay shot this picture while the kids were out hunting eggs. This is in my Papaw and Mamaw's front yard and Papaw's back is to my parents house. Funny, I lived there for 25+ years and it wasn't until this picture that I noticed how beautiful the area is.

I spent many hours this summer, working in the flower bed at my house.  The previous owner had planted English Ivy, and my time was mostly spend digging it out, trying to prevent it from taking over the entire flower bed.  When given the proper attention, the bed was gorgeous.

2009 was the year I learned I could do it.  Doesn't matter what "it" is.  I have the strenght and courage inside to make it happen.

First came the SMARM 5K - my first ever race.  I did the couch to 5K plan and met my goal by running the 5K without stopping.

Then a month or so later, Jay, my parents, and I went to an indoor water park where I conquered the Surf Rider.  I was in line for about an hour and I was the only girl I saw do it.  Even the lifeguards clapped and were impressed with me.

My next challenge was a zipline.  There is something about hooking yourself up to a wire and stepping out on faith that your harness will hold.  I had blogged about getting to do it, and I didn't want to have to come back and tell yall that I chickened out.  So I stepped out...and had a blast!

Then there was the half marathon.   So this isn't the most flattering picture of me.  So my rear end looks huge.  I ran a half marathon - and I made it just under the goal I had set for myself.

Jay and I had quite a few adventures together too.  He joined me on the zipline, but he wasn't a scardy cat like me.  He and his cousin went fishing, and I tagged along.  I don't fish, but I had no problem entertaining myself while they wadded out into the water.

Then, of course, came the unplanned adventure.  Getting the Jeep stuck in the mud and my boss pulling us out.

And our first anniversary trip to Cali - hitting the Sequoia National Park, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Half Moon Bay. 

Our final adventure for the year will spill over into 2010 and beyond...come January 5th we'll be home owners! 

Hope you had a wonderful 2009 and a blessed 2010!!  Cya next year

December 30, 2009

Weigh-in Wednesday - Rethinking...

Rethink Your Shrink!

Its time for a new challenge over at the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans designed to help us not only shrink in the coming new year/decade - but to help the changes we make actually stick!

I'm wiping the slate clean. After a month of not really tracking my food, my weight settled in at around 128-130. Down comes my 10# button because the girl who never worked out and ate fast food every day is gone. If I earn a button this challenge/year/decade, I'll put it up when appropriate.

Starting weight: 130 - yikes

takes off shoes


spots self 1 pound because weigh in was after breakfast

Starting weight: 128

Goal weight: 120

You always hear that the last 5 are tough to lose. Only it wasn't tough for me going from 130 to 125. So that tells me that those weren't my last 5 to lose. My hope is that I can get to 120, see what it looks like for me then decide what my true maintenance weight is.

I was chatting with a friend about weight and weight loss and knowing when to stop. Its a hard conversation to have because most people are afraid to offend. The friend that have been right by my side for most of the journey (both in exercise and in food tracking) is incredibly blunt (but she also knows when to lie - its a great trait for a friend to have).

She and I were talking about finding our goals. Hers was to get back down to a weight she remembers looking good at. Since I didn't start weighing until I got out of college (and I was around 130) I don't have that bench mark.

She had suggested getting down to 120 and then re-evaluating my goals. "Sure you don't need to lose any more weight - even for vanity sake - but why not? You'll never be this close to having the perfect body again in your life."

While most other friends (including my darling husband) would have told me I was perfect just the way I am, she cut right to the chase. At first I was offended (I'm an easily offended person, we often wonder how we're friends). The more I thought about it I realized that was one of the nicest compliments anyone has ever given me.

Sure I'm fine the way I am. I'm perfectly healthy. My husband loves the way I look.

But why not try. Just to see what I'm capable of?

My only fear is that I'll lose down to 120 and that won't be good enough either. I'll never be skinny enough. My friend promised me that she won't hesistate to let me know if I get too small. Since I've seen her do it to other friends, I have no doubt that she's up for the job.

This time next year, I want a closet full of comfortable 4s. For all of the 8s to be boxed up and in the attic with the other "if i have a baby in the next couple of years" stash, and the 6s to be there waiting to be wore when Aunt Flow comes to visit.

I want to run a sub 30 minute 5k.

I want to shave 15 minutes off my half marathon time - finishing in around 2:30.

I want to ride around Cades Cove without dismounting my bike.

What does the new year have in store for you?

December 29, 2009

Christmas Eve

We slept in till around 11 – then started to work on our Christmas projects. Mine was a pineapple upside down cake for a Christmas gathering. His, of course, was last minute shopping followed by changing the oil in two of our vehicles.

(Yes, we are one of those ridiculous couples who have 3 vehicles for 2 people. He loves his precious Jeep and I’m currently devising a plan to get rid of it get him to trade his 2 mediocre vehicles for 1 super cool vehicle.)

The cake was of such disastrous proportions, I’m saving it for another blog. Jay hasn’t emailed me the pictures yet – but you’ll get the full scoop once he does.

The oil changes didn’t pass without incident either. First my oil cap got stuck in his wrench and he had to spend 5-10 minutes getting it out. Then he came in the house and got on the computer without washing his hands. Consequently, he got oil on the computer and on the mattress pad. (The laptop was on the bed and I was washing the sheets at the time.)

Yipee! Another load of laundry for me.

Which may or may not be still in the dryer 5 days later.

I was ready before Jay, so he asked me to get his clothes together. Because he is in charge of his own laundry (I know – I’ve already been informed what an evil, lazy wife I am), sometimes finding an outfit means digging into the back of the closet. Sometimes it means digging through the pile of dirty clothes on the guest bedroom floor and finding something not too horribly wrinkled.

Diving into his closet, I found a pair of Kenneth Cole flat front black pants – with the tags still on. We’re still not sure where they came from. Most of Jay’s dress pants are pleated front hand-me-downs from a friend of Jay’s parents (read: old man pants). I’m not sure how this hidden gem got buried, but when I took them to Jay I told him that he needs to wear them. A lot!

We met my parents at their church for Christmas Eve communion service, then headed back to their house for dinner. Our Christmas Eve tradition is t-bone steaks and browned potatoes, to follow later in the evening with coffee and dessert.

After dinner, we opened presents. As usual, we received a big pile of loot from my parents. I got a Tommy Hilfiger sweater, a fleece jacket for running, a pair of zip away hiking shorts/pants, a trendy belt, and a whole pile of other stuff I can’t remember right now.

Together Jay and I got 2 seasons of Psych on DVD and Christmas decorations. Jay’s favorite gift was his Home Depot gifts card, but he got some pretty cool other stuff too – a book he’d asked for, two seasons of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (that’s what happens when you forget to get your wife an anniversary gift and she has to sell what she bought you to her mom for your Christmas gift), a fishing net, a camo shirt, and a couple of other things I can’t remember.

My parents liked their gifts – one of which was my Best.Gift.Ever. blog printed and framed. As expected, my dad cried when I read it to them.

Christmas Eve is always just as fun for me as Christmas, and this day was no different.

I decided to break up the Christmas Eve/day posts because I rambled so much there is so many details to share.

December 28, 2009

Book Review: Saving Cicadas by Nicole Seitz

The novel Savings Cicadas by Nicole Seitz is the story of a single mom and the journey prompted by her third pregnancy. The story is narrated by Janie, the 2nd child, and by Grandma Mona. When Priscilla – the mom in the story, finds out she is pregnant for the 3rd time, she gathers up her family – which includes Grandma Mona, Poppy, Janie, and Rainey – her 17 year old daughter with Down’s syndrome – and hits the road.

It’s a story of forgiveness, survival, and family.

Only I’m not sure if I liked the book.

Seitz is a great writer; the story pulled me in and had me hooked from the beginning. But as their journey continues, family secrets are brought to light. Dark, unspoken truths that have haunted the family for years.

At the end of the book, Seitz acknowledges that her book isn’t doctrinally sound, and that those wishing to know the truth should seek the Bible’s guidance on the issue. My vagueness is an effort not to spoil the ending for you, I’m not just sure how I feel about an author who in essence says I know what I wrote isn’t correct, but I wrote it for the sake of the story.

In her defense I can see why she did it, but a day removed from finishing the book and I’m still not quite certain it was worth it. The book is powerful, no doubt. It has a clear message that it effectively delivers. I’m just not sure if its ever okay – even in the format of fiction – to deviate with what the Bible says.

December 23, 2009

Weigh-in Wednesday - Christmas Eve's Eve

Merry Christmas!!!

Tomorrow starts the 2 - day Christmas extravaganza! I'll be making my first ever pineapple upside down cake tomorrow, using a recipe I got off the internet. Hopefully it won't be completely disasterous. My sister is making an apple pie. Which she makes every holiday. And is amazing. So if my cake sucks we'll still have dessert. (I like these low pressure environments.)

The first of the official Christmas festivities start at 5 tomorrow night with candle light communion at church, followed by a steak dinner at my parents house. On china. I'm one of those weird people who enjoy using china so much I don't care that it can't be put in the dishwasher.

We've decided to open presents with my parents tomorrow night because Friday will be so backed full of activities. I get the most presents from my mom and dad. The only year that wasn't the case was the year that Jay and I first started dating. Apparently he thought gifts would win me over. (And by gifts I mean a Coach purse was only one of many.)

Now that I'm "won over" we each have a $50 to spend on one another.

Christmas morning will be just the two of us. Good thing we don't have a lot to open because we then have to pack up and drive 45 minutes to my grandparents house for breakfast. Then its on the road again, heading to my sister's house (which is 2 hours away).

I'm looking forward to doing Christmas night at her house. Normally the evening of the 25th is such a letdown because all the excitement is over. We'll probably get there around 4 or so, and then we'll do dinner. After dinner will be present time, then time to play with the niece and nephew.

Okay so I've stalled enough.

Today's weight: 129.

Spotting myself a pound because of Aunt Flow coming for Christmas, that still puts me 3 pounds away from my goal weight. I've let myself put on 3 pounds in the past month??  I'd better slam on the breaks or I'll have to give this back:

I'm Down with the Sisterhood!

I'm not going to get radical this week, its not the time. I've got birthday lunch for my boss at the restaurant of his choosing today at lunch, then its the Christmas smorgasbord for two days. But I can make smarter choices. Like for breakfast and dinner tonight, and breakfast and lunch tomorrow.

Hopefully today's weigh in was the wakeup call I needed to get myself back on track.

For accountability sake, weight in, then head to the Sisterhood and link up!

December 22, 2009

Random notes

*Jay and I attended his friend's church on Sunday and both really liked it.  They have a young pastor, fresh out of seminary who brought a good message.

*I've lost my religion, said naughty words, been hoping Santa isn't watching, gotten frustrated with the bank on their loan process.  We sent them a print screen of our online banking for the past month, that's not enough information.  We sent them a print screen of our online banking going back until September, that's too much information.  We've made deposits over $100 into our savings accounts, they want documented proof where we got the money.  They want to know what the $390 deposits that have happened 3 times in the last month are and are too stupid to read "(insert my employer name) Payroll DD" under the transaction.

Last night I left a voicemail for dude.  I was going to rip him a new one try to understand this insanity.  It went to his voicemail.  This morning when Jay got frustrated with him Jay said "I think you need to talk to my wife."  lol!  I'm a tad more agressive than my dear, sweet husband.

*I got a Zhu Zhu pet for my niece, they have them hidden at the Site-to-Store counter at Wal-mart.  There was a 1 hampster per person limit, so I got the white one.  That'll just leave her without the yellow one to open on Christmas Day.

*At 5 years old, my sister is worried about her figuring out the big Christmas secret.  (At 2 1/2 she told her babysitter that the Easter bunny wasn't real and her mom bought all her Easter basket candy at Wal-mart.

*My new favorite song is "Did you know..." by Todd Agnew.  I probably need to listen to it again this morning to get myself back in the Christmas spirit after the bank run in.  Here is a video of Agnew talking about the song writing process.

December 21, 2009

Fall Into Reading Wrap up!!

Its accountabililty time over at Callapidder Days.  How well did I fall into reading?

My list was originally as follows:

1) Green by Ted Dekker
2) Last Orders by Graham Swift
3) Playing with the Enemy by Gary W. Moore
4) Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass
5) Skinny Dip by Carl Haasen
6) All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shrieve
7) Plum Luck (a Stephanie Plum novel) by Janet Evanovich
8) Mere Christianity by CS Lewis
9) Someone to Watch Over Me by Judith McNaught
10) House by Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker

Did you finish reading all the books on your fall reading list? If not, why not?

Not sure if it was the busy Christmas plans, the potential move, or just a laziness, but I still have about 5 books on my list.  I've got to get busy if I want to get my 52 books in for the year!!

Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?

I changed up my goals a little due to vacation.  Most of the books on my list were more serious, so I replaced a few with more light hearted books.  Also, for the sake of saving luggage space, I packed several two in one books.
What was your favorite book that you read this fall? Least favorite? Why?

I sailed right through Green, but struggled with Last Orders.  I liked the format of Last Orders, but had trouble getting into it.  It was a chore to finish

Did you discover a new author or genre this Fall? Did you love them? Not love them?

I wasn't very adventurous, and stuck with my typical authors/genres, although I'm looking forward to reading the non-fiction The Karma of Jesus that I won in a Fall into Reading giveaway.

Did you learn something new because of Fall Into Reading 2009 – something about reading, about yourself, or about a topic you read about?

As badly as I want to enjoy reading modern literature, I'm a chick-lit fan all the way!

What was your favorite thing about the challenge?

The extra push to finish my list.  Accountability is a wonderful thing!!

December 18, 2009

Festive Friday - Best. Gift. Ever

What's the best Christmas gift you've ever given? Received?

I have to say over the years I've given a lot of boring practical gifts. As a list making family, we typically all shop from the list, making few exceptions.

I remember as a kid getting gifts from Santa - and knowing that there was no way our parents could have afforded anything that super cool (a Barbie dream house, a boom box).

I've received several really awesome practical gifts - like the TV I got my freshman year of college for my dorm room. Or the freezer that Jay's parents got us last year (along with a vacuum sealer) so I can stock pile meats when they are on sale.

I have to say, however, that the best gift ever given/received around me wasn't given by me. It wasn't even given to me.

Picture it - East Tennessee. 1950s (I think). A young peasant girl My great grandmother decides to divorce my alcoholic great grandfather. Being a woman who loves jewelry, she doesn't her diamond engagement ring go to waste.

She takes it to a jeweler and has it reset into a beautiful diamond necklace, then throws the now empty gold ring setting into a jewelry box at home.

Now I really have no clue if she ever took it out. Cried for her failed marriage. Cried when her daughter would take the grandchildren to visit him, only to have to turn around and come home because of his drunken state. Cried later, when he died of liver failure.

Or if it just sat in that box.

Until a week or so after she died - 60 years later.

Its hard to put in words how beloved my Great grandmother was. She wasn't your typical woman of her era, yet she was sweet and kind. At her funeral, people recalled how she would send thinking of you cards, that always seemed to reach the recipient at the just the right time.

I was blessed to know her better than all the other great grandchildren because I was a sick kid. Sick so much I almost failed 1st grade due to missed classes. Because my mom and grandmother both worked, watching me was left to my great grandmother.

She'd put an old lady rain bonnet on me and let me walk to the mail box.

She'd fix me orange jello and cottage cheese as an afternoon snack.

As much as I loved her, my mom loved her more.

When we were cleaning out her house after her passing, my mom came across the empty shell of a ring and asked to keep it.

She passed away in April, and that ring sat in my mom's jewelry box until about November of that year. When my dad snuck into my mom's things.

Fast forward to Christmas morning, my mom has opened all of her gifts save one in a shirt box. My dad is in his chair with the video camera. As per her normal routine, my mom shakes, pinches, shakes again and tries to guess what it is.

Tearing off the paper reveals your standard Christmas present box. In the box is an only uniform shirt of my dads. My mom lifts it up, then looks around in the box for something else. This can't be her gift.

When she finds nothing else in the box she checks the pockets of the shirt, she finds a ring box.

As she opens it, she looks up at my dad with tears in her eyes.

"Is this..."

He nods.

"Turn that thing off."

As soon as my dad puts down the video camera, my mom bursts into tears.  My dad had taken the empty shell and made it whole again.
And that is the story of the Best. Gift. Ever.

December 17, 2009

Because I'm lame with titles...Thrifty Thursday

I thought I'd take a moment to brag on myself...well because its my blog and I can!

Jay and I try very hard to be frugal, sometimes to the point of being miserly.  I hope over all that's not the case, and I think the big year we've had proves it.  We got the thrill of paying off our 5.5 acres of land in less than a year as well as a super-cool awesome trip to California.

Not exactly the "self imposed poverty" that a friend of mine accuses me of.

I suppose, in her defense, we are very weird. 

We don't have cable.  Which honestly this time of year sucks.  All the normal TV is off until January and all the Christmas specials are lame.  So I've been going to sleep around 9 each night - and loving every minute of that extra sleep.

We figured it out, and could rent a Redbox movie every night for a month and still make it out cheaper than cable.  Since the sparing TV choices is an exception, not the norm, we're just fine with Redboxing it for Christmas.

I also don't spend that much at the grocery store.  I stockpile ground turkey when its on sale for $1 lb and do the same with chicken breasts at $1.99 lb.  (I tried the chicken parts thing, and its just not worth it to me.)  I only buy coke when its on sale (I never pay more than $2.50 a twelve pack), never buy chips or cookies, and menu plan so that I use from my stockpile (and replentish the stockpile when things are at their rock bottom sale price).

Our goal is to have the new home paid off in 5-6 years.  Its totally doable assuming our incomes stay the same and we keep our standard of living where it is.  He is 1/3 owner of some commercial property, and if we can get that sold, then we'd probably be able to pay the house off sooner.

The thing about our standard of living is that neither of us feel like we're missing out on anything.  Sure I'd like to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe of clothing, but that's just impractical.  We've set price limits on Christmas ($15 for my sister and $15 for her husband - they are doing the same) not because that's all we can afford, but because none of us need anything. 

Jay and I were talking the other day and I told him the one area that I'd like to branch out in and spend more money (when we've got the house paid off and we're off rice & beans) is our meat selections.  I got some beef cubes on manager's special last year and they were delicious in with stir fry and rice.

Can you keep a secret??

I spent $37 at the grocery store this week!!

I normally spend about $100 or less on groceries for the month, so this was a big splurge (although I've only spent $30 the rest of the month, so I don't think I'll go over budget.)

There were a couple of packages of beef shank something or other on sale for $1.50 each (slightly less than a pound per package) so I figured I would grab those suckers up!  Chicken breasts were on sale, as were the tenders, so I grabbed about 6 lbs of those. 

I was excited that the tenders were on sale for the same price as the whole breasts because i usually end up cutting up the chicken and putting it on the George Foreman grill for recipes calling for cooked chicken any way.  The tenders saved me a step!

I found two 1/2 gallons of milk on manager's special - taking it down to the same price per ounce of a whole gallon.  Since Jay doesn't use milk, a half gallon is the perfect size.  I put one in the fridge for use this week (its sell by date was today) and one in the freezer for later.  I'm sure between cereal and protein shakes I won't have a problem using it up.

Speaking of cereal, I had noticed a $2 off any all bran cereal coupon in my binder that expires at the end of the month.  I figured I check it out, and if the cereal wasn't too pricy I'd go ahead and get a box.  Most of the flavors were in the $3 range. 

Then I noticed an item close out sticker.  The All Bran Yogurt bites cereal was on sale for $2.58.  Which mean $0.58 after coupon!!  Not the most yummy sounding flavor, but for the price I couldn't pass it up.

I also had a coupon for frozen fruit, so I splurged and got some frozen peaches (to be used on oatmeal in the future).  I finished my splurgefest by getting wheat thins and garden veggie cream cheese just because I was craving it.

I grabbed the salad stuff for this weekend's Christmas party and I was headed to checkout.  Mentally it was hard spending almost $40 on one week of groceries, but I keep telling myself that was Money Saving Mom's budget so it couldn't be too frivilous.  (Of course all the while ignoring the voice in the back of my head reminding me that she's a family of 5, and I'm just feeding one and a half people - Jay only eats dinner).

So that's my shopping trip for the week.  Probably the most boring post I've written in a while, but I was quite proud of myself and wanted to share my exictement!!

What's your money saving tip that you swear by?  Is it in your grocery budget?  Clothing budget?  Frugal McFrugalson is always looking for new ideas!

December 16, 2009

Shrinkaversary - Finale!

Shrink-a-Versary Challenge with the Sisterhood!

I did it!

I went a Wednesday morning without weighing!! 

After further review eating enough to build muscle also requires gaining fat.  And I just don't think I can be okay with that.

Today's weight is up some, but that's after breakfast and a couple cups of coffee.

Jay has officially asked that I not let my upper body get any more muscular.  If I wasn't too shy, I'd share with you my "before" pictures and we'd all have a good laugh at him.  I'm no where near looking manly.  He's just afraid I'll be able to kick his butt.

I got back into running yesterday, and will run again today at lunch, and am joining a running group tomorrow night for a neighborhood Christmas light-viewing run.  So I'm officially back on the wagon.  Well at least the cardio wagon.

Not gonna brag on all my food choices, but I'm fairly certain that the more I run the more my body will crave good foods. 

So my issues for the week?  I bought a new bra this past week.  It was quite depressing.   It was the smallest size available (in band and cup).  While my darling hub-sand insists that he thinks they are perfect - I can't help but feel...well like a fat ass with tiny boobs.

Which brings me to his other attempt to make me feel good about myself.  I was whining explaining that I was fat and needed to get back into exercise and watching what I ate.  He was like "but you have the perfect body - perfect boobs, perfect stomach, perfect arms, perfect calves."

Dude - don't think I didn't noticed that you left out the thunder thighs.

Thanks a lot.

While I have agreed to his request to not lose any more weight, I'm just not happy with my body.  So we'll just have to see how long I'm okay with honoring his request.  Let's take a vote - should I start to cut calories now, or wait till after the first of the year?

Moving right along to the globetrotter challenge...

I've logged in 104 miles.  Some of those are true miles (probably about half), some are pilates and weights classes converted using Thea's chart

Edited to add: I ran 3 miles at lunch today.  Not sure if today counts and if that officially puts me up to 107 or not.  And its probably not fair that I did that after I read some mileage posts.  I mean what's to keep me from running 10 miles just to catch up with the winner today?  Um...other than my lazy rear and a lack of time that is.

How'd you do this challenge?

December 15, 2009

What a difference a blog makes...

When Jay and I got married, I found myself fighting to get him to go to church with me on Sundays.  For whatever reason, he just wasn't comfortable at my church.  (He references the membership roll of 3,000+ people.)

As a compromise, we decided to attend the small country church that my grandparents attend.

The problem?  Its full of old people. (My aunt, who's 55, was chosen to play Mary in the Christmas drama a few years ago because of her young age.)   But I went, because Jay would attend without a fight. 

For a while, that was good enough.  Then I wrote this post.  Don't get me wrong, the church is full of really sweet people.  And I'm sure part of it is that I'm just getting out of it what I put in it.  But I can't help but feel like everyone there is just going through the motions.  They've served their time.  Now they're content to sit back and go through the Sunday/Wednesday rituatals. 

After reading the confessions post Jay was surprised.  He didn't realize how unhappy I was in the church, and offered to find a different one.  Which in turn surprised me. 

I've asked him to call a buddy of his who use to attend a church near our house.  If he still goes there, I think Jay and I are going to try them out next Sunday.

And once we move, there is a church we pass on the way in that I'd like to try.  It looks to be big enough to have classes for all age groups (our current Sunday school class - if we went - would be with my Aunt), but not big so big that it feels cold or inpersonal.

I certainly covet your prayers through this transitional time!

PS - the lesson to be learned here?  don't make your husband read your blog to learn how you feel!  just come out with it over dinner one night!!

December 14, 2009

True Confessions Monday

Its confession time over at the Sisterhood!!

And I have quite a bit to get off my chest.

*I had high hopes of winning the globetrotter challenge free and clear.  With my half training I was putting in 20+ miles a week running, and was convinced that once the race was over I'd cut back to 3 and 4 mile runs, but 5 times a week.  That just hasn't happened.

In fact, the bulk of my mileage has come thanks to Thea's step conversion chart. 

*I haven't ran in almost two weeks.  Its starting to make me cranky and sad like I use to be, only I'm having trouble motivating myself.

*I'm pigging out whenever I want on whatever I want.  Including a steak dinner Friday night and IHOP for breakfast Saturday morning.

*I get freaked out at work thinking about all the things I have to do at home.  But by the time I get home I'm too stressed to do anything so I wrap myself in a Boyd's Bear cocoon blanket and watch TV the rest of the night.

*I'm pretending that I'm not moving after the first of the year.  Thinking about moving means stressing about packing.  And storeage issues (its an old house with small closets). 

*My hands are incredibly dry and I'm not lotioning them as I ought.  Okay so that's not a big deal, but since I'm laying it all out there.

*I'm proud (you know the sinful kind) of being finished with my Christmas shopping so early in the year.

*I'm hoping to get my Christmas cards out today, and am ashamed that they have taken me so long.

*Thanks to April and Christie O, I've signed myself up for a race in an effort to get myself motivated on the running front.  The race is on January 16th, and I'm aiming for a personal best.  That gives me right at a month to train for it.

* I took a salad to the Christmas party Saturday night - and it was a big hit!  Who knew something beyond iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing would be so popular.  I did italian dressing, romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and green peppers.  My mom even complimented the presentation!

December 11, 2009

Festive Friday

As we prepare for the most stressful joyous holiday of the year, I think its fun to peer into the lives of others.  See how they decorate.  Celebrate.  What traditions do others cling to?

I thought I'd share my decorations with you this year.  I'm not a big decorator - no lights outside or huge displays in my house.  But its enough to keep things festive.

It might sound crazy, but my inner neat freak got squashed a few weeks ago.  I had the wrapping paper, bows, scizzors, and tape just laying out for several days.  And I loved every minute of it! 

We don't have a fireplace (yet) to hang our stockings on - this was the best we could come up with.

My formal dining room gets used once a year - when I have the whole family over the weekend before Christmas.  Why do I have napkin rings out but no napkins?  Because I keep meaning to make them out of the same material the chairs are covered with.  Only my hub-sand hasn't finished my sewing table.  And I haven't gotten my sewing machine from my parents house yet.

I love Christmas cards - so the star card thingy is one of my favorite decorations.  This is the table Jay and I eat at most of the time.  When we're not eating on the couch watching TV.

My tree has issues.  Some of them inflicted by me.  Some just due to age.  I'm thinking the day after Christmas I need to buy a strand (or three) of white lights to compensate for the pre-lit shortcomings.

And finally our nativity.  Last year I wrapped baby Jesus up and gave him to Jay for Christmas.  I think our new tradition is going to be leaving him in a box under the tree until Christmas Eve.  

And if you're a Christmas music fan, check out Amazon's free music downloads.  (Thanks Jen for the heads up!)  If you've missed a day (or 10) you can go back and download music from previous days for free as well.

Merry Christmas!!

December 10, 2009

California Day 6

Whilst planning my trip to California, I sought the help of two friends I’ve known for years. They were Cali girls, although not from the San Francisco area.

And although I feel like I know these ladies as well as I know my Tennessee friends, I’d never met them before.

I cyber met these ladies on the ABC Lost message board many years ago. Okay so it couldn’t have been that many since the show has only been on 5 seasons, but you get my point.

When I asked for their advice on which attractions to hit and which to skip – they suggested something that I hadn’t considered – meeting them half way between our B&B and their homes and hanging out for the day.

I loved the idea, but I did have to run it by Jay. Would he really want to spend the day hanging out with two strangers? “Now Saz is the the one that…and Hello…”

Okay so maybe I talk about them enough that they weren’t strangers to him. He was more than willing to meet up with them – and for once in my life I was willing to give up control! I told the ladies that since they were the locals they could decide what our itinerary was for the day.

After another festive breakfast with our B&B friends, we headed to Half Moon Bay. The scheduled meeting point was a historic (and reportedly haunted) restaurant. As we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed to women bundled up sitting on a truck bed looking out at the ocean.

“That has to be them. No one else would have bundled up that much for a trip to the beach!”

We offered to drive them around for the day, rather than waste gas in their vehicle following us. But they had to have their own vehicle for their dirty little habit. (Might I add it was an odd feeling being the only non-tobacco user in the group. Jay’s habit is just as – if not more so – dirty, it just also happens to be smokeless).

First stop was the tide pools.

Feel free to look around, but don’t touch.

Or should I say, don’t get caught touching.

Is there a rule that we’re not willing to break?

Although, in their defense, they wandered out that direction via the tide pools, not the beach. So they didn’t notice the sign until I yelled “Jay get a picture of them on the other side of the “do not enter” sign!”

On the way out Jay rigged the camera for a group photo. Hello is terrified of heights, so she was afraid as he ran toward us to hop in the picture that he’d run right off the cliff. Thankfully he did not.

The day was warming up, so we headed down to the Sea Horse ranch for a little horseback riding on the beach.

 “That one is biting. I hope I get that one that looks asleep.” Hello was worried about what horse they’d give her.

They gave her the biter.

Unfortunately, cameras aren’t allowed on the ride, but there is a dude on a segway that follows you out for some pictures. We didn’t realize that for $10 extra bucks he’d follow us onto the beach. Those would’ve been some cool pictures.

Mariposa, the name of the biting horse, didn’t do right by Hello. Our guide Juan, kept smacking Mariposa on the rear to get him to go on. Which in turn scared the daylights out of Hello.

I think all of us were a little uneasy when we walked the horses down the cliff to get to the beach. The view was beautiful. Juan even showed us how to make the horses gallop. Jay & I had a great time getting them to run – Juan even got the two of us to twirl our pretend lassos.

Jay and I couldn’t be certain if Hello & Saz enjoyed the ride or not but we loved it. Even to the point of talking about getting horses for our 5.5 acres. Of course neither of us knows how to care for farm animals, but it was a fun idea.

Saz & Hello (and it was very hard to call them by their real names instead of the screen names) argued for 5 minutes on which way the restaurant was. Couldn’t tell you who won that one, but whoever did was right because the restaurant was in the direction went.

We had about 45 minutes to kill before they opened for dinner, so we took a walk on the beach. On the way down the stairs, we all smelled something that was horrid. The Jay stepped on a squish step. Turns out a dead sea lion had washed up to the stairs.


Jay was facinated by the giant seaweed. 

I enjoyed watching the sunset on the beach, since on our coast it rises over the ocean.

After dinner Jay and I called it a night. I hated to end the day with them, but I was exhausted and we still had to pack up for the trip home the next day.

I won’t bore you with a travel home blog. The only thing significant was that Jay, claiming he knew where he was going, took us to the wrong airport. When we pulled it, and I saw a terminal suitable for Sandpiper Air (from the TV show wings) I knew we were in the wrong place.

So that’s our trip to California!

December 09, 2009

Shrinkaversary - Week 6

Good morning my shrinking sistas!

Shrink-a-Versary Challenge with the Sisterhood!

I know I keep saying I'm going to quit weighing myself, but every Wednesday morning I feel compelled to see if I'm ballooning back up.  Most normal people can just tell by looking at themselves.

Not me.

I'm OCD a perfectionist have body dismorphia mental.

I've eaten around 2000 calories a day for the past week - not by intent, but by compulsion.  Like last night I was cooking dinner and every time I opened the fridge to get an ingredient - the sliced cheese called my name. 

I helped myself to three slices.

And didn't reduce the portions of green beans, french fries, or bbq chicken I had already tracked to eat.

While shaving this morning, I looked at my legs and could just tell they were porking up.  Not only had I eaten more than normal (btw - 2,000 calories should be maintenance for me right now - which is my goal), I had taken 4 days off in a row from exercising. 

4 days! 

What a sloth.

So onto the scale this morning with me.

And you know what?  I weighed 128 (goal weight is 125).  In despiration I took off my leather hooker boots and socks and got back on the scale.



2,000 must truly be maintenance for me!

Kick @$$!

Because on normal days, eating 2,000 is difficult for me.  2,000 calories of whole, clean foods is a lot!

Now I just need to be sure I don't start to splurge on...let's say...a piece of chocolate fudge every day just because I know I can.   Then again, I do only have 3 pieces of fudge and 1 chocolate oatmeal cookie left, so I guess that's not too big of a danger.

Before I shoo you away to go hop on your own scale - I leave you with a recipe for a delicious chocolate treat - a protein shake.  (I drink them after heavy lifting and after long runs.)

1 scoop chocolate protein powder
2 packets splenda
1 tbsp half and half (or 1/2 cup milk)
1/2 cup water (omit if using milk)

blend together in blender.

add ice, blend until ice is crushed.

for about 140 calories you have a good sized frostee esque treat!!  And its full of protein to help your muscles build back up after a hard workout.  (Crap - I'm starting to sound like Bob and Jillian when they're plugging products.)

Now get to the scales, the link up over at the Sisterhood.

December 08, 2009

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

(Okay so I'm not a Mama - I've still got a wish list!!)

TodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year?
  • my sewing table refinished (Jay's been working on it since we got married - its how he sanded the tip of his finger off over a year ago.)
  • a stylish new thick belt to cinch lose tops
  • an SPI belt for running
  • long sleeved running tops
  • a new recipe box/book
2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received?

my niece made an ornament for Jay and I (last year I believe)

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle?

I'd love to sew/embroider monogram napkins

4. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child?

A Barbie dream house - that year we knew Santa was real because there was no way our parents could afford a gift like that!

5. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year?

We'll pretend my husband is a kid (that's not much of a stretch) and the top items on his list are fishing related - a fish net (that's catch & release friendly) & a fly fishing book.

6. What is your favorite holiday food?

Mashed potatoes - they are a holiday must.  My great-grandmother (of antique ornament fame) always made the best red velvet cake.  Since she passed away no one in the family can get it quite right (even following her recipe).

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays?

Nothing.  Unless you count the service coupons I made and rubber cemented to business card stock.

8. What is your favorite holiday movie?

A Very Brady Christmas.

9. Favorite holiday song?

The "Mary Did You Know/It Wasn't His Child" duet mix.

10. Favorite holiday pastime?
Wrapping presents!!!!

December 07, 2009

California Day 5

Waking up to classical music our first morning in the bed and breakfast, I knew that I could easily get spoiled by it. I tried to sell Jay on the idea of falling asleep to it every night (instead of those irritating wonderful talk radio shows he listens to on his computer) but I’m not sure it worked.

We really weren’t sure what to expect at breakfast that morning. Our last B&B experience included an innkeeper who loved to talk politics. And just loved to talk period.

This go round, Candy (the B&B owner) was occupied in the kitchen preparing meals for a full house. Arbor Guest House has 5 rooms, and all were occupied for our entire stay. We were served coffee and juice (the poor girl had to keep refilling ours – Jay would down it as soon as it arrived at the table), as well as a fruit cup and a scone. This was all while we waited on the hot breakfast to arrive.

Before we sat down, the other couples started chatting with us. “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” Everyone was very friendly. The couple from Washington DC was on their honeymoon and confessed to having met on the internet. Jay and I told them that we had met on MySpace – and then the Texas couple admitted that they too met online.

Jay and I both found it interesting that 3 of the 5 couples there had met through the same medium. Mostly because we had gotten our fair share of weird looks when someone asked “where’d you meet this new guy/girl?”

The winery tour that Candy had suggested was at a castle. For the price of the tasting, you also got a tour of the castle. Built in the 1990s, the owner took great pains to make sure it was as authentic as possible from the area – even flying in Italian artisans to teach the locals how to hand make the roof tiles.

After the tour we loaded up on souvenirs and headed out. Before we reached our car, two couples from our tour group stopped us and offered to get a picture of the two of us. We then proceeded to chat with them for around an hour about random crap.

For lunch, we headed to the castle’s sister winery, which also included a deli. Apparently crazy castle builder man started out with nothing and started his empire selling sandwiches out of the back of his van (that he also lived in).

After another tasting, we grabbed a sandwich and headed back to the B&B for our couples massage. Neither Jay nor I had ever had one, and I was very much looking forward to it. I didn’t tell Jay until the last minute because I was afraid he’d back out on me. I loved it, but since none of my muscles weren’t sore from exercise (I didn’t get a single workout in this trip) I thought about how great it would have felt if they were!

All of the B&B guests reconvened around 5 for hors d'oeuvres and wine. Just like at breakfast, we found plenty to talk about. Jay wanted to watch the Ohio University (his alma mater – not to be confused with Ohio State) game on ESPN, so we decided to order pizza and eat in the room.

Only he got the game times confused. It had started at 8 PM Eastern time, which meant by the time we got back it was already half time. After kicking himself a few times, we dove into the pizza and finished out the evening just relaxing.

December 04, 2009

Book Review: Green by Ted Dekker

I was eager to get my hands on a copy of Ted Dekker’s Green. I had devoured the first three books in the trilogy series and had the highest of hopes for this latest installment.

Considered “Book 0” in the series, I was a little confused at how this could be considered both the first and the last book. The book continues Thomas Hunter’s journey against the evil Horde, while we follow alongside the president day evil, trying to catch up with Thomas in the future.

As with the other 3 books, I loved the imagery Dekker paints for his reader. The literal translation of sin (via the Horde’s skin ailment) is a great reminder of just how horrible sin is. Like the Horde, we claim that we’re fine, yet our actions of trying to conceal our sin say differently.

I mostly liked this book, my only problem is with the ending. I can’t say too much without giving it away, but it just didn’t happen liked I wanted. That’s probably more a defect of my own rather than the book’s. For a fantasy novel, I wanted less of a realistic ending.

And you’ll have to email me if you’ve read it for an explanation – because realistic wouldn’t be the first word I’d use to describe the ending.

Confused yet?

Just go read the book so we can chat about it already!!

Festive Friday: Mamaw Bertie's Tea Cakes

After reposting the story of my Christmas cookie fiasco last year, I had a couple of requests for my cookie recipe. In the giving spirit of the Christmas season, I thought I’d oblige.

I figured out later why the cookies failed so miserably. About a month later, I signed up to bring biscuits to Sunday school. While baking them I noticed that they weren’t rising. They were fine (and edible) but they were just flat. Apparently I had been careless with my flour choices and hadn’t purchased self rising flower.

I’ve made a note on the recipe so you don’t repeat my mistake.

Mamaw Bertie's Tea Cakes
(Bertie was my Papaw's mom)

1 ½ cup sugar

½ cup lard

1 ½ tsp vanilla

½ cup butter

2 eggs

4 cups flour (self rising)

½ cup butter milk

Cream together sugar, butter and lard. Add eggs. Mix in vanilla and stir loosely. Add flour and butter milk. Chill overnight, then bake at 350 until your oven catches on fire done.

For the thumbprint version of the cookie, I just dabbed a spoonful of jam on top. Do so at your own risk.

December 03, 2009

California Day 4

Sorry to be dragging this vacation out.  Who knew I'd be so busy with other blog posts that I would still be blogging about my vacation almost a month later!!  I mostly want to blog it so I get my memories down before I forget them (some memories huh? :P).  But Jay got some awesome pictures on this trip that I also want to share with you.

Day 4 found us waking up in San Francisco - some earlier than others.

I was up around 4 or 5, worried about my half marathon training (or lack thereof).  I'd planned to at least do my long run on the trip (the race was only 2 weeks away) but it just wasn't working out.  I emailed Christie O.  with my concerns.  She reassured me that I would be ready for the race (then was surprised to find out how early I was up on vacation).

When Jay finally got out of bed around 7:30, we headed to the nearest cable car stop.  Tickets were $22 a piece!  I tried not to think about it - we watch our money 51 weeks of the year, I should be okay with spending it one week. 

"Hello tourists" the cable car driver greeted us. 

"Its the back pack isn't it, that's what gives us away?"

"Actually, the locals get on at the next stop."

We sat back and enjoyed our ride to no where.

Once the locals got on, the driver really started chatting.  He was asking some of the passengers what they thought about the health care plan - we were thankful he didn't ask us.  It was quite obvious that his political views were opposite ours.

We rode until the end of the line, got off, and got back in line for the return trip.

As we stood in line, a bossy guy (with no connection to the local transit) came and told us to scoot up in the line and that people were just trying to block us, etc.  I don't want to be judgmental and say he was homeless, but he certainly didn't appear so he looked homeless.

I just smiled and nodded, not sure how to react to a person telling me what to do that wasn't officially working for the cable cars.  I was wary of any good deeds.  This was California after all!

The guy behind us in line really didn't take to kindly to being bossed around.  Before I knew what was going on - a few "N" words had been thrown around and Mr. Bossy was threatening to "bitch slap" the yuppy giving him lip.

Mr. Bossy was quite ammused when the Yuppy family had to ditch their newly purchased Starbucks coffees.  Once they were on the cable car, Mr. Bossy went behind them and picked them up off the street - to drink them no doubt.  But when he noticed that Jay and I notice, he mumbles something about having to pick up after the Yuppies. 

The ride back, comparitively, was quiet.  We hopped off the cable car and hoofed it to pier 33 for our Alcatraz tour.

I can't remember the name, but when I was younger I read a fictional book about Alcatraz.  Since then, I've been facinated with it.

As our ferry unloaded onto "the rock", they told us that we had just missed a guided talk about escape attempts.  We bought a site map and headed up towards the prison itself.  On our way, we passed the tour and decided to join it already in progress.

An older gentleman was the guide, and told a story about the only (disputed) escape attempt.  The one that the Clint Eastwood movie was based on.

No bodies were found, just the personal effects and homemade rafts.  The guide suggested that while it was possible that the prisoners really escaped, it wasn't probably.

"Those guys would have been in their late 70s early 80s today.  I can't help but wonder, when I look out at the crowd and see white haired gentleman, if one of those guys would think it was clever to come back and visit their old home."

"Or I suppose" he said taking his hat off to scratch his head, revealing his white hair "it would be even more clever to come back and get a job here, giving talks about escape attempts..."

Once inside, the tour was self guided (notice my kickin headset?)

Some of the cells were open, others set up as they would have been when the prison was open, others just had the permenant fixtures.

I'm glad Jay thought of using the black & white feature on his camera.  These pictures turned out especially good.

We moved on to the rec yard - it was a little surreal thinking that we were walking were there worst of the worst went to "play".  How many fights had broken out over something petty here?  How would it feel for your face to get touched by the wind or the sun, after being locked up in one of those tiny little cells. 

Please don't think I'm a bleeding heart - guilty people deserve to be punished.  Its just all so touristy now, I was trying to picture how it would have been.

This picture is me on the guest side of the visitors glass.  I was surprised that alcatraz prisoners actually were allowed guests.

The tour took up a good part of the morning, then it was time to head back to the hotel and check out.  By the time we did it was around 2 and I was starving.  I had heard my Cali friends (which you'll meet if I ever make it to day 6) rave about In and Out burger, so I told Jay we had to stop there for lunch.

Dude that waited on us looked remarkable like Kenan Thompson in the movie Good Burger.  So much so that all I said was "dude looks like..." and Jay said "yeah I know."  I desperately wanted to get a camera phone picture of him, but I wasn't sure how that would go over if we got caught.  I mean, is looking like Kenan a good thing? 

(PS - the burgers were really all that and a basket of fries!)

From there we hopped a double decker, open topped bus for a tour of the rest of the City.  If we would have had the time, this could have been an all day adventure itself.  As it was, we were due to check in our Napa B&B that evening and were more selected when using our "on and off" privilages.

Our first venture off the bus was in Chinatown.  I wasn't really impressed, but then again we probably didn't allow ourselves enough time to take it all in.

We made a stop in Union Square because I saw the big H&M sign.  I had heard they were a good discount store and I wanted to check it out.

I was sorely disappointed.  In my world $30 for a sweater isn't discount.

We got back on and continued our tour.  As we went through the Haight/Ashbury district, we saw a huge Goodwill store and decided to go in and take a peak around.  This time, we weren't disappointed.  I ended up getting a cute pair of gap skinny jeans and a pair of banana republic dress pants for $5.  Jay carefully selected two old school t-shirts with local logos.

He probably could have stayed there all night, but we had a bus to catch and it was getting dark. We ended up waiting over 20 minutes for the bus to pick us up, and with each passing moment I grew more and more antsy.

No, you may not run across the street to use the bathroom.

But I gotta go!

No, I'm not risking it.

You're not the boss of me.

I said no!

Okay so that's now how the conversation really went down, but pretty close.  I was too scared to let Jay leave my site.  Even more scared at the prospect of missing possibly the last tour bus through the area.

He tried to calm me by telling me that it was just a bunch of pot heads.  And if anything pot makes you more mild and calm, so no one would bother us.  (Excluding of course those offering us a toke.)

When the bus finally arrived, we had it to ourselves.  I was cold, but we sat up top any way because the Golden Gate bridge was next on our journey.

Its very difficult to photograph at night.  On a moving bus.


Then it was back to our car (heat on full blast) with Napa ahead of us.

After an exhausting day, it was very nice to check into the B&B and find this...

Along with a bottle of champagne and classical music waiting for us.