Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adventures in Home Improvement

The banister of which I spoke of yesterday is being a little witch.  Well, actually it's not the banister's fault, it's the weather.  It's too cold for anything to dry in less than 12 hours so by the time I got back out to check on it, I found the surface was much more rough than I remembered the night before when hypothermia was setting in.  So I grabbed a 220 grit piece o' sandpaper and got to work.  I flipped it the way I should've done it when I painted it the first time but I was getting hungry for lunch so I decided I'd wait to paint after lunch.

When I went out to the garage, I flipped on the main light and it blew.  Seriously?  I grumble over in my grubby Crocs that make me look like I have club feet hence the reason I never wear them for anything other than home projects.  I make sure the garage door is closed but the light is on because I don't need to end up on the internet attempting to change a light bulb.  With my luck I'd fall directly onto the semi-dry banister, get the wind knocked out of me and have a white paint stripe down me like Pepe le Pew's cat friend while Earl the Loner comes in for a tight shot on camera phone.  I grab this step ladder thingy that always makes me angry because it never wants to set up right for me.  The Mr whips it open like nothing.  Me?  I'm like Snoopy fighting with the beach chair at Thanksgiving dinner for those bastard neighbor kids that invited themselves over for dinner.  I realize it's going to be too short anyway.  I grab the bigger ladder, a light bulb and try to center myself without disturbing the banister.  I climb up the ladder, reach toward the bulb...click.  The garage light shuts off leaving me in complete darkness.  You can imagine my glee.  I think I made up a few new curse words.  I climb down and open the door into the house and trudge back up the ladder.  I'm not comfortable going up another rung with no one else home so I somehow get the bulb screwed in and out by my fingertips.  I was finally able to put the next coat on after all of that.

This project is going to prove that we are essentially comic strips for the universe to snicker at.  I have deluded myself into thinking my dad's DIY genes have kicked in where there is no proof of that to be found.  So this may morph into a weight loss/DIY/DIY disaster blog over the next few weeks.  I'm doing a lot of research and trying to not be scared to jump into things instead of always paying someone do stuff for us or buying something new and pitching something that could be salvaged.  I'm down with giving it a go, are you down following my adventures into the unknown?

Do you fancy yourself a DIYer?  If so, what's your best tip for a noob?
(It should be noted I accidentally typed boob the first time)

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Sanding off the Veneer

If you've been following the blog, you know we're in the middle of a lot of projects around the homestead right now.  The Mr took the banister off of the wall because it needed to be painted.  We set it out in the garage and I got to sanding.  I welcomed the break from all of the paint fumes to go into sucking in fine polyurethane particles.

I don't know the the whole vibration of the sander or the alone time with the white noise of it got me all zen or what but I actually got a little sad.  This is our first house.  You know, the place we were going to stay for 5 years and then move on?  Well, it's been almost 16 years and living beneath our means has allowed us to live a good life especially since its just the two of us.  I thought of all that banister had seen.  I thought of the 21 and 23 year old us doing their final walk through and grabbing the newly painted banister as we headed upstairs to inspect the rest of the house; excited that it would be done 2 weeks prior to our wedding.  I thought of holding onto it my first night in our new home in exhaustion from a wonderful wedding day after having eaten groom's cake and counting our money until 2am when we had a flight to catch to Hawaii in 6 hours.  I thought of the people it had hosted from friends to family both here and gone to repairmen to a little black and white short-haired pooch that was the light of our lives who might've walked under it quite a bit as she'd peer through the open back stairs but was never tall enough to reach it.  I thought of what a bitch it was the paint behind when we were too stupid to remove it the last time we painted.  I thought of all of these things as I tearfully sanded away the times that were now etched into this piece of wood...times that were now in a pile of dust on my garage floor.  I kind of felt like I should save the dust to hold on to those things.  But I was proud of what was revealed.  A beautiful, fresh piece of wood.

As I began sanding off the veneer of the banister that had seen it's better days, I also couldn't help but think of how it related to this whole weight loss thing.  You have this strong, sturdy foundation that gets taken for granted and one day you look at it a go "hmm, that's seen its better days."  You either choose to let it get worse and degrade, get a whole new body and throw away the old one by whatever means necessary or you do what you should've done all along...sand away the veneer to reveal the beautiful clean slate waiting for all of us.

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.  I guess a 5 pound loss will do that to a person.

I hope you're all ready to do a little "sanding"...what's your plan to kick things into gear this week?

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

And we're off....Weigh In

I don't know what the hell happened.  I don't know if I accidentally chanted to some voodoo priestess in my sleep or what but I lost the pound I gained last week...and 4 more!!  5 friggin' pounds!!!  On an Aunt Flo week!!  After eating Volcano cookies last weekend!  I know what that means for my body next week, either a stand still or 1 but I'll celebrate this fo' sho!  I'm 2 lbs away from reclaiming my 200 lbs lost avatar and let me tell you, I'm desperate for it because that one really hurt.

Back to more painting today!  I'm super pumped but also wanting it done.  The Mr has been beyond a trooper painting the ceiling and cutting in a little last night.  I'm baking him some breakfast to give him the fuel he'll need to get jazzed about going to Home Depot in an hour.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Found out what I was missing

When we were losing weight over 10 years ago, we had access to a gym and we went pretty frequently.  As weight came back on, that stopped and we began accumulating our own stuff to make a home gym so we wouldn't have to endure the stares.  We have free weights, a treadmill, a water rower, aerobics steps, weight bench, Total Trainer (aka universal gym) and a bazillion exercise DVD's.  That is how we've lost the weight we've lost so far "this time."  (The most ever)

In looking for other things to throw in our routine, I wondered if adding the gym when the Mr teleworks would be a good idea.  He was home today so we decided to go check it out.  Thankfully there was one old dude who was finishing up and the rest of the time we had it to ourselves.  I was kind of appalled at the condition of the equipment.  It was very obvious some things have been there for the duration as they were taped up and rusting at some points.  I did the leg press (my favorite) and was just so disgusted by the condition of it, I got 3 wipes and wiped that sucker down and took 10 years off the look of that thing.  As I was going around from machine to machine, I found out what I was missing...nothing.  Our stuff isn't abused by people, it's in good visible shape and we can do everything we could do there, here.  I'm so thankful that we don't have to rely on that place anymore.  Maybe I'm a germ-a-phobe to a certain degree and I like not having to share my sweaty stuff with anyone other than the Mr.  I'm glad we went, I don't have to glorify it in my head anymore and be thankful we're blessed with such an awesome place to improve our fitness and health.

Do you have a home gym?  If not, what would your ultimate home gym be like with the space you have?

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

20 Questions...because I need a mental hiatus

I love these things.  I know many don't but you can skip it ya big party pooper!  Plus I needed something mindless to post since I'm juggling many things right now in the noggin.  Blame Mary, she's the one who gave me the idea!

1) What is one of your favorite ways to spend a Saturday?

I like being out and about even if we don't have any particular plan for the day.  I get twitchy if we're sitting at home on the weekend doing nothing probably because I work from home and need to be out of the house.  When I was at maximum density, I never left the house and was quite content to waste a perfectly good day getting sucked in to HGTV shows or a TV marathon.  Sooo glad that's not who I am anymore!

2) List your top three favorite TV shows.

Person of Interest, Dexter and American Horror Story (though that may change since season 2 is an all new cast.  BOO!)

3) Would you rather be in pictures or take them?

A good balance of both.  If there's one thing we learned from my FIL's death it's that it would've been nice to have him in more pictures.  We're not going to make that mistake.  I have a 3 year time span where there are no pics of us because we didn't want our pictures taken.

4) Why do you blog?

Why not?  Seriously, I have no big drawn out answer for this.  Support is a good thing and you guys are like my "co-workers!"  (The good ones, not the a-holes we'd gossip about in the bathroom)  I also want to give hope to those people who have a whole person, or two, to lose to get to a healthy weight range that this can be done and it can be done without surgery.  I've already had to privilege of having people tell me they cancelled consultations because they didn't think it was possible until they read our story.  That alone is enough reason to continue blogging.

5) Share five websites that you visit regularly…

Facebook (though I honestly don't use it like some people do.  Clogging news feeds with random thoughts gets you "hidden")
Yahoo/Gmail  (since it's mail, I'm counting them as one because I can.  HA!)
Pottery Barn  (seriously, I must know when new stuff arrives there.  It's a sickness really)
Various food blogs for dinner ideas (yet I still seem to make the same things.  Weirdo)

6) If you could have lunch with one person from your Twitter list who would it be?

Well my Twitter list isn't very long but I guess to not offend followers, I'd choose someone I'm following.  Probably Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) because I'd want to see that big ol' Lodge!

7) List a few of your favorite snacks.

Sugar Free Chocolate Pudding (which I really miss this week)
1 oz of super sharp cheddar
Honeycrisp or Pink Lady Apples
Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches  (pretty sure I'm going through withdraw)

8 ) Do you have a pet? If so, what kind?

Sadly no.  She passed a few years ago and our lifestyle on the weekends and with the length of travel when we vacation doesn't make another nugget practical for our lifestyle.  We visit shelters and pet shops to get our "fur fix."

9) Which three material possessions would you struggle to live without?

Laptop, TV (I know but I need background noise as I work), camera

10) What’s your favorite drink?

Iced tea

11) Do you enjoy cooking?

LOVE it.  I hate that I have a kitchen so small its like cooking in a bathroom size wise so I don't get inspired to go in and stay in but I try to make the best of what we've got.  I want to take cooking classes at some point this year to see if I can get a different point of view on how to look at food.

12) Do you have children?

Nope.  Next.

13) What are your favorite hobbies?

Photography, writing, traveling, cooking/experimental baking.

14) Would you consider yourself to be shy or outgoing?

A hearty mix o' both.  Depends on the situation and the type of people I'm around I suppose.  Funny how that can change with your weight.

15) If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you change?

Obviously I'd be at goal by now.  The process is long and frustrating after 3+ years in.  But if I couldn't choose that as my answer, I guess I'd say let my walls down a bit.  I was unfortunately taught at an early age that people important to you will let you down in major ways that it became my expectation.

16) Who is your favorite actor/actress?

Jeremy Sisto.  I swear I'm still waiting for them to drop the axe on Suburgatory any time so I treat each episode like it could be the last and I'll miss him doing comedy because it makes him that much hotter but honestly, his dark roles are the best.  Vissago, Billy Chenowith, Earl...all whack jobs brought to life by that hot toddy.  As far as actresses, no one floats my boat.

17) What’s the coolest thing you’ve done this week?

Bought granite countertops.  We don't have them yet but we're poorer in the bank account.

18) Do you live near your family or far from them?

Near them.  My grandma lives about a mile away when she's not being a snowbird.  (Though with this crappy winter, they should've stayed here.  HELLO, I'd like to snowshoe please!)

19) List three of your talents.

I'm told writing *shrug*, cooking/baking, photography is evolving (thank God) but people have told me it's a talent so I'll go with that.

20) What is your greatest attribute?

I'm no longer afraid to do things that people would automatically say "I don't think so" to.  It amazes me how many people freak out when I tell them we've done a hot air balloon ride.  It was so not a big thing once we did it but I suppose if it puts me in some daredevil club, I'm good with that.  I have many other things I can't wait to do but I'm much more willing to say yes to life experiences just to have a cool story to tell.

Pick 3 questions above and answer them in the comments.  For those grimacing just play along, ya fuddy duddies!  ;)

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Empty guest nest and being domestic

You ever have one of those days you just feel "on?"  I've got a lot to do this week and honestly, painting hasn't been one of them.  The Mr has had some big issues going on at work that have required unplanned overtime and he's the one who preps the room whilst I paint it.  I believe he may have a mental health day coming up and I imagine that's when he'll tape for me and put down that sticky plastic so I don't have to trip over drop cloths all day.  He took the nightstand today for the lady at work so there's nothing in there but a few bins. Oh and that big computer desk we donated?  The charity dude broke it.  Yeah.  They loaded up the desk and then he comes back for the file drawer and small drawer.  I tell him the manual and keys are in the small drawer, he says have a nice day and I see he's going to grab the big file drawer by the drawer pull.

Hello McFly!

I knew that wasn't going to end well so I turned around quickly and I hear THUD and "ohhh."  I went inside the house so when he turned around I wasn't there then I peeked around the corner and saw he was outside the garage and closed the garage door.  Sorry bub, don't you try to come back and get my tax receipt because you broke it!  I was a little ticked because there was nothing wrong with that desk.  Sigh.  Hopefully they were able to fix it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two projects? No problem

We remodeled our kitchen 9 years ago.  It used to be completely builder grade white, which was in when it was built but one day I walked by and couldn't deal with it anymore.  So for "curiosity's" sake we went to the local Home Depot and $8000 or so later, our wee 2 butt kitchen was instantly cozy.  We couldn't justify granite at the time.  It would've pushed us beyond our budget because we don't finance stuff like that.  We got this beautiful dove gray laminate that we both loved.  Fast forward 9 years and the cabinets look amazing, especially with all of the stainless steel appliances we got 3 years ago (how did I ever live without a double oven before!?) but the countertops leave a bit to be desired.  When we decided to get new appliances we checked around to see if anyone needed some all-white appliances and a friend of The Mr's co-worker said they got a new house and couldn't afford anything.  Lucky for them, we were giving them away for free because they were just going to be hauled away anyway by the delivery company a few days later.  We sat the microwave down on the stove and when they picked it up, the brackets on the side scraped our countertops on either side of the stove.  Gee, thanks.  You try to do something nice.  Grrr.

We started noticing over the past year that little nicks were forming by the seam and its not like we use the counter as a cutting board.  Then The Mr asked if that's where I core my apples.  Oh, you mean the when I push down with all of my weight with a metal apple corer on a paper towel?  Pssht, please!  Give me a little more cred...

Yes...yes, I do.  *shame*

Yeah, so I started using a potholder under it and lamented my stupidity.  Then it was time to head back to the ol' Depot and just see how much granite or quartz countertops would be...you know, for curiosity's sake.  We're getting the new countertops next month after we approve the slab.  We decided to go with granite because in talking with the woman about resale value she said even though we are down with quartz, many people aren't savvy enough to know it's the better choice maintenance wise.  We agreed and since resale is something we now have to think about where home projects are concerned, we thought it'd be the smarter choice right now.  Incidentally, she's the lady who put together the design for our kitchen 9 years ago!  We're there all the time and haven't seen her there so we thought it was a sign.  She said "you guys look great, you haven't changed a bit!  I wanted to say "you didn't see us 3 years ago!"  So there's a new thing on the checklist.

Wasn't I supposed to be turning the guest room into a studio?  Yeah...two projects?  No problem.

I have to say though, I'm really proud of us.  The Mr worked some overtime, not by choice and it looked like I was going to have to workout alone but then it was looking like he was wrapping up.  By the time he got home, we said he had to get over to Home Depot to sign the papers and thought it would be a quick thing.  We had to pick out a sink, faucet, new disposal then off to the grocery to buy Home Depot gift cards so we could get a few free tanks of gas and back to HD.  By the time all of that was done, it was 8pm.  We went straight downstairs and did Power 90 original which is just over 30 minutes.  I got a good 700 calorie burn in which isn't bad.  It would've been so tempting to say we'd make up the workout later in the week or double up but we didn't.  We took care of bidness like the exercise badasses we are.  *wink*

Do you have any home improvement projects you want to tackle this year?

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Monday, January 23, 2012

All over the place

Yeah, sorry for the meltdown Saturday morn.  As usual the awesomeness that is all of you came shining through and helped me feel better about the whole thing.  I'm moving forward.  I did take down the 200 lbs lost moniker because I'm real with myself and I want to earn it, not have it be a constant reminder that I hit it and lost it.  To be honest, I jumped the gun shouting it from the rooftops knowing I was about to go on a big culinary vacay, so I did it to myself. I did the same thing with my stupid zipline challenge weigh in sheet that was above the scale.  I actually did that in the middle of a workout last week.  I was thinking about how setting a number related goal by X date is like saying "here's a number I won't reach, now let's torture myself."  Then I thought about how I never remembered to write my loss (or gain) down anyway and I was so far behind all it was going to do was remind me I'm still too fat to zipline in Hawaii.  So I ripped it down in the middle of a punch, threw it away and went back to it.

We had company over and it was a good excuse to try a recipe I pinned called Volcano Cookies so we wouldn't have a bunch of these bad boys sitting around the house.  I bought a muffin top pan and went to work.  I put 2 dark chocolate Dove candies in the middle and watched them puff up in the oven.  I made them the day before so I wouldn't be slaving over a hot stove when they were here.  I baked them for 13 minutes and left the four I was using slightly undercooked so they'd be gooey in the middle.  When it was time to serve, I put it in the microwave for 17 seconds so the cookie wasn't scorching hot but the Dove was still lava like in the center, then scooped some crushed vanilla bean ice cream and fleur de sel caramel sauce and a little hot fudge.

If that didn't give me diabetes, nothing will.  By the way, I never want to see a chocolate chip cookie again.  It was good but I wanted to barf later on and was still full from it 10 hours after I ate it.  The others are going as payment for moving items.  But I plan on putting that muffin top pan to good use in the future.  It should be fun!

The male half of the friends that came over graciously helped us get the computer desk we tried to give away to the garage.  Man, I just pictured that thing giving way and crushing the poor guy.  I could tell the Mr really wanted to be on the bottom so he could control it and use his brute force to stop it in case it started breaking apart on the stairs but thankfully all was well.  A local charity is coming to pick it up today.  Luckily yesterday was pick up day for people who got freebies from us so the former guest room is now almost completely empty except the nightstand that goes to its new home tomorrow.

Guess what I get to do this week?  Paint.  The Mr hates to paint.  He makes no bones about it.  I say I'm going to burn some extra calories without having to step on that dumb ass treadmill so score for me!  We looked at some desks and antique stores and this one table I was planning to use for photography just didn't look right in person so it's kind of back to the drawing board to some degree.  I found this chair on West Elm's website and totally love it.  I like the cocoon feel of a barrel chair but don't want something that will invite me to sit for too long.  Plus I like how the tufted look gives it that grandma appeal but the lines are modern.  I'm surprised we like this look and I know it's not for everyone but I think we nixed the idea of a twin sleeper.  No one stays here and if they do..."sofa city sweetheart."  *snap*  (I know people know what movie that's from, right?)

So that was our weekend, well that and getting up at the butt crack of dawn to make sure we got to Trader Joe's when it opened yesterday morning so we could get our groceries for the next two weeks before people started coming over.  No skinny cows or sugar free puddings for evening snacks, we got clementines instead. Tons of chicken for chicken and brown rice lunches.  New light bacon to go in with my brussels sprouts.  Can you believe we've let the past 3 packages of bacon go bad!?  Who are we??  They're going to revoke our bacon carrying license!  But we use it so rarely and since this batch came from Trader Joe's that means no preservatives which means I'll need to freeze it and use it as needed so I'm not wasting money.

What did you do this weekend?

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

I give up - Weigh In

Are you effing serious?  I'm UP a pound!?!?!

I'm really beginning to wonder if having to switch my pills yet AGAIN back to what I was originally on but wanted to get off of is what is fighting me this month.  I'm going to wait to see what my options are when I go back to the gynie in 2 months but I seriously don't know what else it could be.  I burned 4500+ calories this week, was spot on with my calories, fiber was decent but not where I usually like it but the water suffered again this week.  I think I only hit my goal one day and I can't believe that it made SO much difference that I can't move my rings this morning.  I am so beyond frustrated.  So down comes my big accomplishment of 200 lbs lost because it's no longer true and I said I'd give myself 3 weeks.  I feel like an utter failure.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

To Fan Page or not to Fan Page

I see tons of people who have Facebook fan pages for their blogs.  I wanted to do one a while ago but then saw where you couldn't ban people who spammed your page or block them but now I hear you can.  I don't know if this is something I should have or not.  I'm kind of indifferent to it but I know that's how this blogging thing can roll sometimes.  You go with social trends or get left behind. I don't know that I would post a ton of pics there so I wonder how interesting it would truly be to people.

I'd like to hear from both sides, the perspective of someone who has a fan page and is it a pain in the butt to run in addition to everything else.  How often do you post and does it end up being more than you can keep up with.

From the "fans" perspective, does keeping up on Facebook make it easier for you than subscribing?  Do you see any advantages to me doing one?

I honestly don't know which way I'm leaning so I wanted to go to the peeps on this one for input.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shoulder update and collectibles

My shoulder has stopped being a 24/7 pain in my ass and gone to barking after workouts which is fine with me.  I will ice it after workouts but I'm back to doing whatever it takes to get some lard sizzlin' under my skin.  (How's that for a visual?)  I've got that Amy Dixon workout scheduled for Thursday and I will use 5 or 8 pounders depending on what my shoulder dictates.  I'll likely stick with 5 this week just to make sure that I don't almost heal up only to screw the shoulder up again.  That's what got me into trouble with it to begin with.

Other than that just continuing on with our tackling of the house.  We took 3 boxes up to Goodwill last night before our workout.  I think that guy hates us.  We go the last 30 minutes before closing and I'm beginning to think he's making voodoo dolls of us.  I went through a few things in my closet and while 2 bins were pretty much not able to be thinned, I was able to thin out one bin and my box.  My box is one I swore I'd never sell.  I started collecting Wizard of Oz ornaments in 1994 and stopped in 2010 when it was made clear they were really in it for the money and starting to recycle scenes.  So 33 ornaments later I had them in a box and they never saw the light of day.  At one point when we first got married, I did have a Wizard of Oz room and it was really cute but after about 4 years I got tired of it and wanted something more adult.  So into boxes they went as I got one or two for gifts every year.  When I came across the box it just reminded me that while I had good intentions and enjoyed them at the time, they weren't going to be something we would retire off of since they're mass produced.  It's kind of sad to let them go, if they sell, but I really want someone else to enjoy them and show them off.  So I've got them in the closet and will wait until we have a sell pile of things together before listing them in about 2 weeks or so.  I have a pic of them and I thought whatever great table I get to put in the studio with the money, I'm going to print out a picture of them and tape it to the bottom to remind me how I got such an awesome piece.  I know, I'm a sentimental dork but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Do you collect anything?

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Welp, it had to happen sometime, the tree came down Friday night.  I know, I know, WTH?  It was January 13th for Pete's sake!  (Whoever he is)  We usually take it down January 2nd but we were out of town and when we got back I felt like I missed out on those 5 days chilling with the tree lit and no holiday pressure.  I just loved having the tree up.  I think it was a combo of not wanting to let go of a great holiday season (which we started celebrating oh, 2 months ago) to there has just been very little snow and I felt gypped.  We got a little spit of snow so I caved.  I think I was ready to have my already small living room back though.  The Mr said this tree was one of the more spectacular ones we've had because we've been collecting ornaments from our travels if they're available.  There are also some sentimental ones too.  Here are the ones I'll miss the most...

The Mr bought me this countdown ornament from Hallmark this year.  He said the little girl on the commercial reminded him of me and my obsessive countdown to Saint Nick's arrival.  We both watched it eagerly at midnight on Christmas Eve/Day to see what would happen.  Would Santa dance?  Would it blow up?  Would it play a jingle?  Nope.  It spelled out Merry Christmas and then flashes Ho Ho Ho.  We made sure to take the battery out of it because it never shuts off.  The Santa reminds me of Father Time from one of the Rankin Bass specials.

This one's a little dark, sorry about that.  But that was the one we got at Graceland this year.  It has the gates of Graceland then the mansion behind it and says Graceland below it.  I'm not too huge a fan of these thin brass ornaments but you should've seen some of the ones we had to choose from.  This was the best they had to offer.

This is an ornament I got when I was about 5 or 6 from my Grandpa and his wife on St. Nicholas Day.  Their family did the tradition of putting your shoes on the porch and you'd get something in them.  I'd never heard of this so when I spent the night with them that night, I tore down the stairs the next morning to find a patchwork ornament for the tree.  When I told him about that in a letter I wrote him before he died a month later he said he couldn't believe I remembered that.

This Nutcracker is from Woodstock, IL.  Aka- Punxsutawney in the movie Groundhog Day.  This place is about an hour north of Chicago and believe me when I tell you it has NOT changed in 20 years and it is like being on the set of the movie!  You should absolutely go there.  We picked this guy up in a store in the town square.

This otter is a memento from our trip to Carmel, CA for our anniversary.  I love otters and was so happy to see some floating around when we went to Point Lobos to hike and enjoy the beautiful NoCal scenery.  I love that it has the date of the year we went too.

This San Francisco ornament has all of the required scenes from the Golden Gate Bridge to the skyline to the Wharf sign, Painted Ladies and of course a trolley.

This one is my favorite from our 2010 trip to Chicago we purchased this ornament at Christkindlmarket.  It's replica of "The Bean" (or Cloud Gate depending on who you ask) with the ice rink in front of it and the city reflected in it.  It always makes me smile when I see it remembering the wonderful time we had and the great people we know there.

Our newest addition...a cupcake.  How appropriate right?  We purchased this at the Bent Fork Bakery in Highwood, IL in the northern burbs of Chicago.  They have not only some of the best cupcakes we've had but I would trample old ladies to get their frosted ginger molasses cookie.  Sooo amazing.  I know it doesn't go with the color scheme at all but I couldn't resist it.

Sleep well until next year Christmas tree.  You know I can't wait to see you again!

When do you usually put up and take down your Christmas decor?

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Monday, January 16, 2012

My Word for the Year

Many people have chosen a specific word to represent their intent for the year.  I don't usually think that much about it but there is something about this year that the Mr and I both feel a renewal to our commitment to get this weight loss kicked into high gear.  So my word for this year is

We're renewing our commitment to doing whatever it takes to forge ahead and lose more weight this year than we have the past 2 years with the slow down.  We know where improvements can be made and we're going to do that.  I also want to renew our promise to do one new thing each month that is different for us.  Whether it's going to a gallery or a festival we've never been to or trying a new activity when weight loss allows us to do so (kayaking without having to look for a heavy duty one), zipline and fingers crossed ride a roller coaster by the end of the season if the bod cooperates.  We're also renewing our commitment only eat things that make us sink back in our chairs in culinary bliss.  I'm not going to eat things I don't love to be polite or because its there.  I'm only eating calories that are worth it.

Do you have a word to represent your intentions for the year?

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weigh In

Down 2 lbs.  Not real happy with that because I shot myself in the foot this week by not drinking my water and my fiber was low (for me) so my whole world was thrown off.  I am going to have really buckle down this week and make sure I drown myself in water and pre-plan a ton of fiber.  The anger really comes in not at those 2 lbs but at the 6 I'm still up from 2 days of poor eating at Christmas.  Do you know how long it takes me to lose 6 lbs these days!?!?

I burned about 1000 calories less because of the shoulder injury so I need to just suck up that 2 lbs is decent for burning less and get to planning next week.  It's gonna be a doozy.  Punishment week.  After I dig myself out of the clutter mountain we're about to create in the bedrooms.  Wish us luck!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Product Review: Amy Dixon's Super Fit Bod!

We have been doing different exercises for a long time. We tend to latch on to particular instructors and stick with a lot of their offerings.  Some of our favorites are Billy Blanks (though I do wish he'd mix it up a bit), Chalene Johnson and Ilaria Montagnani. (To see the specific favorites from the those instructors, click here and they'll be listed out)  We've hit the proverbial wall where workouts are concerned.  While I love my Turbo Fire (and am looking forward to the new Beach Body release later in the year), Tae Bo and PowerStrike, they just aren't challenging us anymore.  Boy I never thought I'd see that day.  So I put Amy Dixon's Super Fit Bod! on my wishlist.

Since no one was buying me workouts, the Mr bought it. Amy Dixon's Super Fit Bod!   (affiliate link)  It had been so long since I added it, I didn't even remember what it was from when I previewed it but for me to add it to my wishlist means I liked what I saw.  When we tried it for the first time, I was a little surprised to see that it required an aerobic step.  I must've added it during my short lived step phase.  I could tell the Mr was a little turned off by that and honestly, I wasn't overly jazzed either even though step workouts do really torch the calories.  But we got them and a set of light weights out.

Boy did this deliver!  I remembered after doing some of the moves why I got it.  Some of the strength moves were challenging the muscles at different angles than we were used to which is what I thought we needed.  I like that she provides a person doing modified versions of the moves on a smaller step to make it easier and another doing super-charged moves to make it harder.  She tends to stay on the harder side herself and that really appealed to the Mr because he's at a point where he is burning much less now and needs harder moves to burn more calories.  I tend to fall between modified and "normal" pace because there are some things I'm not comfortable doing but will allow me to keep the workout challenging because I can work up to the harder moves.

As an instructor she's a good middle of the line personality.  She's positive but not annoying.  She'll say things like "now that you're finished doing the left side, you get to do the right side" to make it seem like evening up is a gift.  I can see how that could either be motivating or annoying depending on your mood.  I didn't mind it.  She has a no nonsense attitude but isn't a task master which I like.  I don't need some trainer yelling in my face.  That doesn't motivate me.

For the cons, I'd say the only con is the amount of lunges in it.  If you have bad knees or are working to build up the strength, you may need to modify a bit.  We had just done over 30 miles of walking in Chicago and nary a sore knee...less than 10 minutes into this workout and our knees were killing both of us.  (Yes, we know how to do a proper lunge...no knees over toes, etc)  So that's the only thing we didn't like about it.

I burned over 950 calories with it and that was a real surprise because I wasn't expecting that.  So this will be a regular one in our rotation and one that will only get better as I lose more weight and can push my body further. Super Fit Bod!...it's a keeper!   (affiliate link)

Have you gotten any new exercise DVD's you really like lately?

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Attempting to heal...keepin' it real

The shoulder was not pleased with me for sleeping on it the previous night so it was hurtin' like a mofo yesterday.  The fact that I injured myself doing the Jillian workout meant there was no way in heck I was doing it for last night's exercise.  So I decided to slip on a weight vest and break out the 3 mile Walk Away the Pounds.  The compression from the vest on my shoulder actually felt good.  So I knew I couldn't do anything where I raised my arms over my head or did rotator cuff type exercises so I modified while she yammered.  The Mr and I forgot how perky and grating her voice was and it made us want to mute it or throw it through a window.  Luckily Mary Anne picked up halfway through to give our ears a break before Leslie joined back in to make you want to finish up asap.  I actually burned 725 calories which was the same as I burned last night but I still wasn't happy with it.  I'm used to 900-1000 calories but I have to do what I have to do to heal the shoulder. I did use little 5 lb weights for some parts just so I could keep a bit of muscle maintained.  The Mr was kind enough to let me sleep on his side of the bed to hopefully not end up on the shoulder.  I just want this healed up so I can move forward.

We bought some Trader Ming's (Joe's) General Tso's sauce last night to add a wee to our new lunch.  I'm doing brown basmati rice and adding some veggies to it and cilantro chicken breast.  It seems to be really doing a dance through the Mr's system but not so much in mine.  Hopefully a little more of it will do some good.  I just feel like this weight is trying to hang on for dear life.  I don't have a good feeling about this week's weigh in between the lesser amount of calories burned due to injury and my uh "system" being off this week.  It was like friggin' clockwork last week.  This week it's like "are we going for some kind of record for the longest time without a true #2?"  Sorry, TMI I know but this is my world right now.  I do need to up my water intake as its suffered a bit too.  I've got less than 6 months until vacation and while I no longer do the whole "I'm going to lose XX pounds by the trip" because that's like jinxing it, I really just want this weight to get a move on.  We both have a good feeling about this year and I'd like to run with it.  (Hear that fat cells?)

This weekend will be more decluttering.  We'll get most of the basement in order and then move on to the guest room.  That is a disaster but a table became available at an antique store that would be perfect for photography and I need to clear a space for it in there.  So I gots motivation, peeps!

Do you alter your workout routine when you're injured or not workout at all?

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The town that dreaded sundown

Me and my big ideas.  My shoulder was still really bothering me and the thought of doing Supreme 90's Tabata Inferno was making me think that would be a mistake if I want it to heal.  So I thought "hey, we back up to a state park, let's hike instead!"  Yeah, that sounds good in theory but by the time The Mr got home it seemed like the beams of sunshine were fading fast.  It was going to be the last nice day of the week before winter shows up and we'll have to wrap up like mummies so we thought we'd just go and not dawdle.

As we pull into the park there is a beautiful brilliant sunset.  Note I said sunset.  Not the sun was starting to set, I'm talking the sun was kissing the treetops goodnight before settling into its bed for the night.  We hit start on the heart rate monitors, start walking and about 5 minutes in I said "we're going to be really screwed in about 15 minutes."  He agreed.  The ground squished beneath our feet as we walked.  This is January, right?  It should be cold hard ground with frozen footprints from previous hikers in the mud making getting your footing difficult not squishing along like we're slogging through a swamp.  We crossed the road onto the "extra" trail where we get some decent heart rate action and this huge bird flies into the treetop as if to claim dibs on us when one of us expires in the darkness.  I envisioned running antler first into a deer and my carcass having to be retrieved in the morning as the Mr curled up in my skin or something for warmth.  We walked a little faster.  As we crossed back over the road and the oranges of the distant sunset faded into a cream, light blue and navy blue sky with no moon, we spotted a creepy little man crossing the trail that intersected ours.  I kept my ears open and kept looking behind me to let him know "we know you're here and we will not be taken out by a serial killer in a park.  Prepare to die little man."  Thankfully he kept on his trail whilst we kept on ours.

I told the Mr we should consider having a stick on us to ward off deer, squirrels and Sasquatches.  He picks up this stick that is like the size of a shank and I said "what are you going to play fetch with him?"  On we trudged and it was getting dark quickly and the temp was dropping.  He found a more suitable (read: longer) stick so that we could at least attempt to beat dingoes off from 4' away instead of 12".  We were holding hands and he was kind of dragging me along a bit in the mud which I didn't like because I felt like I was holding him back and/or I would fall in the mud.  I wanted to dramatically yell "save yourself and send help in the morning.  I'll try to hold on" but I refrained. The sound of the creek made me realize I had to pee.  I wondered if I could stop and wee in the woods?  Probably shouldn't.  Every second counted.  Besides, I may need to pee on myself for warmth ala Harry and Lloyd on the scooter in Aspen.  We finally came to the intersection of the beginning of the trail which said we had about 1/4 mile left just as we were getting to that panicky darkness.  In the end, it was an interesting brisk hike but I suppose it could've always been worse...

Have you ever gone walking a little too close to sunset and ended up in the dark?

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Do we fall for the marketing?

So I was ordering 2 new workout DVD's yesterday and I like to go to Collage Video to preview them and as I was perusing the new releases, I was noticing a trend...lots of powerful adjectives.

Extreme!  Ripped!  Shred!  Turbo!  Power!

At this point in my adventure, I found myself drawn to these things because right now that is what I need is something above and beyond.  I mean I never thought I'd see the day when Tae Bo would be an easy workout for me!  Then I felt like "NOOOO!  I'm falling for the marketing!"  It was like telling Indy not to look directly at the Ark.  I felt like if I previewed them, my face would melt off like the poor bastard with no willpower.

In the end, I didn't end up buying DVD's with those words in the title but I admit those were the ones that got my attention.  I already feel like those are overused as everyone is trying to out rip and shred each other so it'll be interesting to see what the next buzz words in exercise will be over the next year or two!

In your opinion, what are some of the most over used fitness phrases?

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Monday, January 9, 2012

The first full weekend of the new year

Okay seriously, how is it that Christmas was only 2 weeks ago and New Years last weekend?  It all feels so far away.  I am desperately trying to hang on to it all.  While I'm okay with getting back my living room space, I was dreading taking down the tree.  I love the tree. If we had a bigger house, I swear I'd keep a tree lit all year long.  The Mr knows its true.  Before we could tackle this, we had to tackle some other things but first let's recap a bit.

I am not sure what it is around these parts but the availability of corn tortillas that are bigger than 3" is like, nil.  Given mama makes a mean rendition of Chi Chi's Chicken El Paso and it requires corn tortillas, flour just doesn't cut it.  So we got a tortilla press, some instant masa and busted those babies out.

They tasted right but a wee thick so I couldn't finish them but we'll just roll 'em a little thinner next time.  Once I get my technique perfected, I'll share some creations.  I am looking forward to mastering a small bit of Mexican (Latin? Spanish?  I have no clue what is considered PC these days) cuisine.

After that it was time to tackle the clutter I'd been talking about.  We started in the basement.  Holy balls, man.  We have like 10 bins down there and none really labeled properly so we had to go through them and the bags in them.  You know the ones where you give up, chuck a bunch of crap in a bag and throw it in a bin to go through next time?  Well, this was next time.  I'm a pack rat and there were a lot of things I was holding on to because what if we needed it sometime?  But I decided to tell family and friends local to us that if they wanted stuff, it was free.  I took pics of everything we were considering donating and had an online freecycle for locals.

I got rid of about 10 things so far and told people that round will be available until Wednesday then we take it to Goodwill.  My mom took a lot of it!  She said "let me know before you give stuff away, you always give away GOOD stuff!"  I don't know if I'd say that with this round but I do this with my aunt all the time.  She has a pool so we've given her our outdoor sectional, patio table and chairs, we're giving her daughter the guest room dresser, our old universal gym...all for free because we knew it'd go to a good home.  I highly suggest it if you're looking to declutter!  You can also have a "freecyle party" and if you have a big enough house people can "shop" from each other's stuff!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Post Vacation - Weigh In

I'm down 7 lbs from what I was when I came home from Chicago.  So that's a couple deep dishes and cupcakes.  I'm still up 2 from what I was right before we left and much closer to re-earning the 200 lbs lost moniker.  Hopefully today's way reduced day will help us shed more.

I injured myself last night doing Jillian's Ripped in 30.  Let's hope the shoulder heals up by tomorrow when another strength rolls around or we might have to do cardio and let it rest.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and don't forget to enter the giveaway below if the Ralph Lauren gloves interest you!  Ends Tuesday!

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Seeing yourself through someone else's eyes

While we were in Chicago, we met up with a friend for breakfast.  It had been awhile since we saw him in person but we've always liked him.  He's a great guy that you can't help but gravitate toward.  He's nice, genuine and becoming quite the inspiration.  We've seen him transforming himself over the past year or two by stepping outside of his comfort zone and he's always so upbeat you can't help but feel like being around him.  It was so great to see him in person and by the time it was over, we truly felt like our lives were forever changed.  He told us how awesome we were, how positive we were and how we've made a positive impact on him.  I swear I think I literally looked over my shoulder but at minimum was visibly taken aback by that statement.  I said "really!?  Us!?"  I explained I'm a natural born cynic and that was just a surprise to hear.  What else was a surprise to hear was him complimenting us to our faces.  I mean how often do people tell you something more than "you look great" or "cute outfit" or something like that.  I'm accustomed to getting some wonderful compliments from people that make me smile but there is something about someone telling you how much they appreciate you or what you mean to them that makes you well up inside.  (Kind of like I'm doing now.  Yeesh!)

We were listening to some of his plans for the new year and I can't tell you how excited we are to support him on some amazing things he wants to do this year.  The guy is so positive and I swear when we left, we had this renewed attitude that I would kill to feel everyday.  It was like this feeling that anything was possible.  Then we came home and I hopped on the scale and let that stupid piece of machinery make me feel less than,  then I thought back to our meeting with our friend, wrote yesterday's blog and tried to look at the positives of our trip over the negatives and how things had improved.  It helped some but then I went to his blog that he is looking to get into more and he wrote a lovely post about our time together and I sat there crying like an idiot remembering that the things I do affect others in ways I don't even realize.  We are always so quick to cut ourselves down, think the worse of ourselves or feel like others won't "get" what we're trying to say.  But for every troll or negative person who tries to bring you down, there are wonderful people like you and our friend who say "no, you DO matter and what you're doing is helping me."  I am going into this year trying to remember that and trying to do better.

I would love it if you'd stop by our friend's blog, A Schorr Thing and say hello.  The extra traffic might freak him out at first, HA!, but this is someone who has influenced our lives for the better and I think he's someone to watch in the coming year for reasons that'll become apparent later.

Today I issue you a challenge.  Tell someone how they change your life for the better.  It doesn't have to be some long letter or note but tell someone who may not know how their outlook on life shapes your own life positively.  Let's start off this new year by spreading some kindness and smiles!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Chicago- Then and Now

When I came back from Chicago and hopped on the scale, I was duly horrified.  I guess because I felt like I had made some significant improvements this time as compared to about the same time last year.

Last year:  Ordered hot chocolate every morning for our free beverage then ordered it all over town.
This year:  Ordered hot tea every morning and only ordered hot chocolate 3x at places we knew was worth it.

Last year:  Logged just over 25 miles walking.
This year:  Logged almost 32 miles walking even walking 23 blocks to the same place 2 days in a row.

Last year:  Ordered what I wanted, when I wanted even if I wasn't hungry with no thought about consequences.
This year:  Went batshit with cupcakes but other places I ordered egg whites, ate more veggies (ugh, what they say about asparagus and your wee is so true and I ate it 3x!), ordered smalls and split more.

Last year: Wearing a size 26/28 top and 26 pants.
This year: Wearing a size 18/20 tops and 24 pants.  (Can you tell where I lose my weight?)

Last year:  Gained a temporary 11 lbs.
This year:  Gained a temporary 9 lbs.  (Still pretty ticked at that given how beat up my body was after the walking but buttercream is evil.  Delicious, sweet evil.)

As I felt myself slipping into a massive funk over how far I've got to go to get back to my 200 lbs lost moniker and I had it taken down several times because I felt I no longer "earned" it so it shouldn't be up there.  But I did earn it and if God forbid 3 weeks from now I'm not back there, I'll take it down because by then it'll feel like a lie.  But I know much of this is temporary and freaking out will get me nowhere.  Everyday is a new day and it has felt amazing getting back to a routine where *I* have control over what goes into my food.

As noted with the recap blog, there will be no high cal day this weekend because we had enough to last a month in those 5 days but it doesn't mean it won't still be good.  I make a mean chicken el paso that I can easily fit into our calories and feel like we're cheating when we're not.  It's the Mr's favorite meal so I'll have fun being creative with that and I'm so glad to have fruit and veggies in the house.  You don't realize how much you miss eating healthy until you're not.  I won't miss the bloat or feeling that food coma on the wrong things.

But I am proud for the calories I burned while there even if they didn't make a dent in balancing things out.  11,510 calories burned in the 4 days I tracked.  Thank God for my heart rate monitor so I'm not blindly trying to figure out what I burn.  I felt every calorie burned too and I didn't even mind the blisters, screaming quads and shin splints.  Okay, maybe a little.

But I'm making peace with all of this because I can see the improvements I made in lieu of focusing on the negatives of it all.  I owe that to a special friend of ours but you'll hear about him tomorrow.

Do you focus on what you could've done better on a vacation or what you did right if you see a gain from it?

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How I Spent My New Years Eve

We went to the Windy City!  There is nothing like Chicago for the holidays and this was an absolutely wonderful way to ring in 2012.  We both agreed it was the best New Years Eve of our lives.  I'm dog tired but let me share a few pics with ya...

We did our own self guided and much researched John Hughes tour which included the Curly Sue school.

 The school used in Sixteen Candles and Weird Science exterior shots.

 A visit wouldn't be complete without seeing the McAlister home from Home Alone!

Or seeing Cameron's dad's garage from Ferris Bueller.

Or relaxing on the bench where Cameron had his freak out after getting the Ferrari back.

 Paying our respects to the man who gave us such great movies.

Heading to Millenium Park.

Thankfully the rain kept people away from the Bean/ Cloud gate.

 We walked to the Willis Tower from a restaurant about 23 blocks away.

I HATED standing on the ledge the hangs out from the side of the building.  Took my pic and left!

We went on a fireworks cruise that opened up last minute to ring in the new year.  It was amazing and amazingly cold!  (Sorry it's blurry, we're on a boat, yo)

Bought my purse at Bloomingdales, it only took 2 years to find one I like!

I LOVED seeing snow our last day coating the Christmas greens!

 I'm going to miss seeing the festive decor and beautiful architecture!

I share the same sentiments Chicago Theater!

I wish you all a wonderful 2012 and will have some Chicago oriented posts this week.  Right now I'm just plain pooped and am hitting the hay!  We never celebrate but this year we are SO glad we did!

How did you ring in the new year?

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Better Watch Out Clutter!

I don't know if it's this time of year or what but I am ITCHING to dump my house upside down and get rid of a ton of stuff.  We've got stuff in closets, under beds and in armoires that I haven't seen in years.  Now I don't get rid of childhood bins, those stay in tact but they will be gone through to make sure that the things I thought were worth saving about 5 years ago are still worth being rescued but everything else is fair game.  We already downsized our printer which was huge and beginning to shoot toner everywhere and break down.  Sigh.  So we got an inkjet that was the cost of one toner cartridge for the laser printer.  (Did I also mention I want to pull in the reigns and save more this year?)

I am going to have to look for some organization ideas for small spaces but I thought I would first come to my peeps and see if you have any ideas I haven't thought of.

What are some of your best organization tips?

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