Tuesday, December 28, 2010

35640 x 8000! No, wait...

...that would be the display resolution of the HIPerSpace.  We're talking a different kind of resolution here.
not this one (source)
 Even though we've not quite reached the new year yet, Blogland is already starting to be all atwitter on the topic of New Year's Resolutions.  Off the top of my head, Dianne Sylvan, Holly the Everythingtarian and Al Kavadlo have all weighed in recently, and I'm sure there are some others I've missed, as well as plenty more in the coming couple of weeks.  Everyone's got something to say about this one.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"My touring...what??"

Hey guys!  Just a quick note on something that is so random it'll make you all squint up your eyes and go "whuh?" as soon as you read it.  So apparently one of the search keywords used to reach this site in the past week was as follows:

"my touring wagon is badassery"

That's right.  All aboard, beeyatches!  We're going off the rails on the Crazy(SexyFit) Train to METALVILLE!!!


PS: If the person who used this phrase to get here is reading this, you're the awesomest.  Please don't explain yourself.  I just love the mental image as is.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We wish you a merry Christmas!

From all the Tobs and our friends to everyone out there in Blogland...

Jessie, moi, Babysis, Maggie and Laura

another Laura!
the traditional Christmas pickle

gorgeous Babysis wearing the hat I made!

Maggie, Eamon Motel Kamzoil, Laura and Babysis
...we wish you all a very merry Christmas (or Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali or whatever your personal favorite is), and pray that the coming year brings you nothing but good food, good wine, good friends, good conversation, and too many laughs to count.

 To start you out on the "laughs" bit, here's an outtake from a profile photo shoot Babysis was doing for me.  I feel it's high time to let you all know that I am, in fact, part velociraptor.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Money Monday 20/12

Happy belated Monday, everyone!  And also Blessed Solstice and omg did everyone see the total lunar eclipse last night?
source here
I was up at 3 trotting around my house with the cat stuffed inside my coat for company and warmth (she was fine; she eventually went to sleep) to watch it.  Unfortunately it was too cloudy to see much but it was still pretty cool - we're not going to get this particular type of eclipse again for 19 years, and I think that one will be on the day before the solstice instead of directly corresponding.  So this was a pretty special event, and I'm glad I got to be conscious during it, even if the actual viewing part was difficult.

This week's questions (original post here):

  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on presents again!  I am SO excited for Christmas!.
  2. Today I feel optimistic towards money.  I think I've done a good job of managing it in the past year, and I'm excited for all the ways I can make that even better in the upcoming one.
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was helping T with his big huge semester-ending school project, and the finished product is pretty awesome, meaning there's a lot less stress on his end, which always makes me happy.
  4. I will consider this week a success if I wrap everyone's present before Christmas morning!
  5. My favorite holiday movie is well, I was going to say "A Christmas Story" before I read Miss Pretty Pennies' reasons why she loves "It's A Wonderful Life," which brought back all the lovely mushy sentimentalism that goes with watching that one (even though I do hate the fact that he never gets to travel).  So I'm gonna say it's a toss-up between those two, with "The Star Wars Holiday Special" rounding out the list for a complete marathon.  If you've never seen that last one, DO.  Even if only to make a drinking game (nog, glogg or wassail) based on it.  It's just that spectacular.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


So yesterday was delightfully sunny and gorgeous, and didn't seem so cold (even though it was right around freezing) simply because it was so beautiful outside.  Today, however, is a different story.
There was a mixture of snow and freezing rain falling all night, still depressingly spattering down on occasion.  We didn't even get the thick coating of ice on everything that NC does so well - at least that would have some aesthetic appeal to it! - but just damp, drippy sleet all over everything, and a sky that's a blank, gray, too-low ceiling.  Ick.

So what else could I do but make myself an omelette!
There's feta and smelly mystery cheese (which melted beautifully) inside it, and the broccoli is steamed in the micronuke and then sauteed in a butter-and-white-wine-vinegar mixture.  And coffee, natch.  It's decaf, though!

Crossfit update!

Monday: Bootcamping it up with Bea leading the class, as Colin's off gallivanting around in NY for the holidays.
  • Warm-up: 5 minutes of jumping rope.  
  • 15 minutes of 8 sit-ups and 8 back extensions (both with an abmat) on the minute, every minute, but I switched to 10 of each after...4 rounds? 5? Somewhere around that.  
  • 10-9-8...3-2-1 reps of air squats and push-ups.  
  • No crawling... :(

  • Warm-up: double-unders for several minutes.  Welt marks ALL over my legs.  ow.
  • Practiced ring dips for the strength portion of the workout - 75 reps total, scaled however we needed them.  I did about 10 unaided and the rest with a box or a giant rubber band.  
  • The WOD: 2 minutes of each movement for max reps, with 1 minute of rest in-between each station.  The movements, in the order I did them: box jumps (20inch box), single-under jump ropes (199 reps), American kettlebell swings (25lb), deadlift (115lbs, 22 reps).  I'll fill in how many reps I did for the jumps and KBs when I remember what they were...
this is a split jerk.  source here
  • Strength: Clean and Jerks (using the split jerk), 12 reps total.  I made it up to 78 lbs, a personal best! :D
  • WOD (as it were): 12 minutes long, 3 power cleans on the minute.  I started with 65lbs but moved up to 75 and then 85 within a few rounds, and finished it out with that weight.

Today we're going to be doing the Filthy Fifty.  Check it out here and wish me luck!

Lurkers: how do you lift your spirits when it's gross outside?


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Money Monday 13/12

...even though it's no longer Monday!  Whatevs, yo.

It's cold and crisp and brilliantly sunny today!  No more snow since that last dusting, but the woods are just screaming to be tromped around in, so that's where I'm headed soon.  First though, the update:

This week's questions (original post here):
  1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on presents presents presents!!! :D
  2. Today I feel pretty cool towards money.  I've been staying right on track with all my spending for a couple months now, even considering that I'm waiting on several checks that I should have gotten by now (namely, the repayment of that last worthless paycheck and an insurance check).  And once all that finally comes in, it'll be like a small windfall...that'll go directly into savings, of course.
  3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was...well, it's not free (and barely inexpensive, considering how much I go), but Crossfit makes me happy.  Really, really happy.  Better-than-chocolate level of happiness.  It's definitely a good investment.
  4. I will consider this week a success if I make good goals and stick to them!  I'm referring to my 2Sexy goals, to be decided at the meeting tonight.
  5. My favorite holiday treat is maple sugar candy!  We almost always get some in our stockings (yes, the seesters and I still get stockings.  yes, we're all legal adults) and I try to make it last as long as possible - just breaking a tiny corner off at a time and letting it melt on my tongue.  But then when I get down to a smallish lump, I just nom the whole thing in one go.  It is marvelous.

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Questions, questions...

    So I've been thinking a lot lately about food. 

    image source
    Yes, I know.  You've heard it all before.  But the fact is, it's a big, tough issue for me, and a constantly ongoing one, too.  Lately it seems like every new day shows a different facet of my complicated relationship with food.  Will today be straight-up Spartan Athlete Nelly, where food is fuel and all eating and exercise is simplified to "calories in, calories out"?  Or will it be Anti-Orthorexia Nelly, where the mindset is "obsessing over health and food too much is just unhealthy.  and everything in moderation!  so I'm just going to have this chocolate now, mmkay?"  Or even Just Plain Burnt Out Nelly, whose mantra is "f*ck it all, i'm going to have two pots of coffee and a half-cup of cookie dough for breakfast, french fries for lunch and top it off with deep-fried tofu soaked in mystery sauce for dinner!"

    (this last one is especially not fun and invariably leads to bloating and general feelings of ickiness.  and I even know it while it's happening, which means I don't really enjoy it, so it can't even be classified as hedonism.)

    I think a lot of the problem is that I haven't yet found a truly healthy eating plan that I can work with as well as I can with Crossfit, for exercise.  Crossfit has been an absolute miracle for me, mainly because I stuck with it long enough to grow to absolutely adore it.  It's been almost two years since I started and I haven't missed a single session (6-week for the bootcamp or by months for the regular class) in all that time.  It's just perfect - the activity, the camaraderie, the entire mindset is just so appealing to me.
    Eating is an entirely different story.  A lot of the draw of Crossfit is that you do it together with a whole bunch of other similarly-minded people who, if they're not in there with you sweating away shoulder to shoulder, will cheer you on until you finish.  Eating, however, is (at least for me) almost always a solitary act.  No one to tempt me with the bad foods, but no one to help keep me from temptation, either.

    image source
     And that's another thought - the bit about "bad foods," I mean.  After a terrifying (and still difficult) bout with anorexia (not myself but someone I love), I've always tried my hardest not to label foods as "good" or "bad;" not to see healthy, "clean" eating as a morally good but vaguely unpleasant act that had to be done to atone for my past sugary transgressions, and neither to reward myself for good behavior with edibles, especially if the  "good behavior" was partially avoiding those very same foods.  But now I'm coming to the conclusion that yes, there are good and bad foods.  There's still a lot of grey area, but there are absolutely some things that I should eat a whole lot of, and others that I should eat very, very infrequently, if ever at all, as they are basically poison to my body.  Period.

    But...I love chocolate!  And I love milk and cheese and cream and butter!  And pie, and Wasa bread, and yoghurt, and pretty much any kind of cookie that doesn't contain peanut butter, and Nutella, and beer, and on and on, ad nauseum (really!).  And I really really really love coffee (with cream)!  So the question becomes, do I take enough pleasure from all these things to balance out the benefits to my health (which I think is already pretty damn decent, and certainly above average) that I would gain if I gave them all up?

    image source
    Big questions.

     I'm also pretty seriously considering ending my decade-plus stint of veg*nism (the star is there for everything from vegetarianism to straight veganism to my current pescetarianism).  At this point I think it's healthier for my body to start eating real meat again, and my ethics have evolved to the point where my mind agrees with that fact.  The only step left is the last one, to actually start consuming the stuff again.  I think I'm going to wait til Christmas dinner, when Maggie's promised to roast a nice happy farm-raised chicken for me.

    Ok, I think this is a good place to leave all these ramblings.  What do you all think?  Let me know!


    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Money Monday 6/12

    Happy December, everyone!

    It snowed this weekend!  I was at work when it started and it made the whole mind-numbingly boring and exhausting day worth it.  The one employee who was with me at the time and I took turns going outside just to stare up at the sky and grin like idiots.  Nothing really stuck too much in Cary (where I work), but 30 miles north in Durham/Bahama (where I actually reside) can make a lot of difference.  Here's my front yard the next morning, when it was just starting to melt:
    oh em gee snow!
    I know all the Yankees reading this are just going to scoff at how little it is, but it made me insanely happy :D

    This week's questions (original post here):
    1. The most I've spent this last week was on car insurance.  I paid my premium in full a couple of days ago, and it was...more than I'm used to dropping at one time.  A LOT more.  But now I've fully covered for 6 months, so that's a weight off. 
    2. Today I feel oddly excited about money.  Or, more specifically, about the fact that I am planning to (temporarily!!!) throw my budget out the window and have a lot of fun buying gifts for everyone.  I've saved up a really nice chunk by being smart all year, and this is one of the reasons I did that.  Spent most of the down time at work today making lists of what I'm going to get everyone.  So much fun!!! :D
    3. Money can't buy happiness.  One free thing I did this past week was to grin like an idiot while dancing in the falling snow!
    4. I will consider this week a success if I stop eating so much damn chocolate at work.  I can't even blame it on my uterus right now.
    5. My favorite holiday drink is oh man, I couldn't pick just one.  Hot chocolate (real hot chocolate, with bitter cocoa powder and whole milk and honey), with or without peppermint schnapps or raspberry vodka, hot cider (spiced as all get out), fake hot cider (apple cider vinegar, honey  and spices in hot water), teas and tisanes of all varieties...I'm also planning on trying to make glogg this year, in honor of my Viking ancestors!  We'll see how that one goes.

    Right now, though, I'm sipping on one that's probably too weird for most of y'all, but I love it.  Heat up a couple cups of whole milk (I nuked this batch but it's probably better to use a saucepan) till it's very hot, then add one tablespoon of dried dandelion root per cup of milk.  Let it sit for a while (15 minutes?), whisking every now and then until the roots swell and sink to the bottom of the cup.  Heat it up again if necessary, then strain it and add honey to taste (the dandelion makes it a little bitter so this is usually necessary, even if you normally don't sweeten your drinks - I'm looking at you, paleo-ers!  it's just a tad anyways).  Sip slowly and revel.


    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    PAIN. And tea.

    So after a good week of not really working out at all (and spending a lot of time curled up in cars, which is murder on flexibility), I have returned to the fold like a little lost lamb.  And by fold I mean Crossfit and by lamb I mean someone who seriously needs to step it up, because I'm hurting like a bitchmonster now.

    • Colin-style warm-up, which means lots of crawling and grunting and general apish behavior.  I'm kidding about the grunting but not the other stuff.  He just crazy.
    • 150 medicine ball cleans for time.  Which is basically the equivalent of 300 weighted squats.  AND every time we broke momentum doing the cleans, we had to do 5 box jumps (or steps), 5 push-ups and 10 jumpropes.  I did about 50 on the first batch, then broke and was getting between 12 and 20 every other time.
    thorlos ftw

    • Pull-up practice!  I'm pretty solid when using the two weakest bands (red and purple, I think?) together, but kinda give out with anything less helpful than that.  I'm getting better though.  Think I can do it unaided by the new year?
    • WOD: AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) for 15 minutes of 7 deadlifts and 7 box jumps.  I used a 17-inch box because my quads were still pretty frozen from Monday, but tried to up it with a 105lb barbell, about 60% of my max.  Got 9 rounds out of it, which wasn't too shabby.  Also massive shin and knee bruises >>

    Wednesday: I looked at the CF website and saw that the WOD for that day involved about 180 double-under jumpropes with some sprinting.  Now, I'm really not great at those at the best of times, and with two leg-heavy workout from the last two days I just didn't want 180 new welts on my legs from missing the damn rope every time.  So I went to the bootcamp.
    • Warm-up with Colin, hopping around and doing high-knee and butt-kicker jogs
    • Sprints outside.  FSCKING COLD.  We did 6 100-m sprints, with the first two being untimed, everyone starting at once and the last four being timed with people starting in reverse order of finishing.
    • Tabata wallballs.  I made it through the first two rounds (10 reps and 9 reps, respectively, with a 10-lb ball) and then got cramps and couldn't finish.  That kind of sucked.

    Dinner!  Salmon, collard greens from a very Southern friend and avocado all mushed together into a big delicious hash, and also grape tomatoes sauteed in EVOO until they popped.  Not shown: some tinned fishy stuff.  Not sardines, something bigger.  It was delicious, whatever it was.

    This tea is incredible.  Anyone else tried it?  It's mainly peppermint...but also kind of sweet and has almost a chocolatey undertone to it.  Makes me think of hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (which is aMAZing, if anyone wants to try it) but without all that sugar and booze and stuff that is bad for me but so delicious.

    Today's breakfast: I wasn't too hungry, but had some almonds and warm no-sugar apple sauce with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg just to have something in my stomach to balance those pills.  That's right, I took drugs.  Without them I would not be walking right now, I swear.  I don't really like relying on stuff that treats the symptoms and not the cause, but now I have to get dressed like a normal person and go do errands and chores, so I can't be stumbling around zombie-like scaring people.  So, bring on the meds!  :D

    Lurkers: What is your favorite tea or other comforting hot drink?


    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    Back from the holidays!

    ...and what a trip it was!  We only had a few days to see all the family and friends that we possibly could, so it was a tight schedule.

    Wednesday: we (parents, Babysis, T and myself) went to see my mom's dad at his care facility.  I always remember Thanksgivings on that side of the family the most, because we always made just a huge thing about it - big centerpiece on the table with fruit and nuts, everyone gathered around reading some poem or another (we're all English dorks), coffee and dessert (and slowly demolishing the centerpiece) fueling conversation for hours after the dinner was done.  We tried to approximate that as much as possible in this new, small space - we made a little impromptu centerpiece, and my mom had a dinner catered from a local restaurant and set the table with all our old china and silver and fancy linens.  We read this one certain RLS poem together and I cannot for the life of me remember what it is but as soon as I do I'll edit it in.  The whole deal was...a little bittersweet, but the love was still there.

    Thursday: This:

    My dad's (that's him at the right) side of the family is huge and loud and damn but we love our celebratory events.  We had 14 people at the table at some point or another (if you count all the little cousins who were up and down and all around), and we're even missing a few!  Maggie, next year you WILL be there!

    Cousin Andrew with his girl Chelsea (aren't they cute with their matching hipster glasses?) and Babysis

    My aunt Becky with her husband David and their little monster Thomas

    Cousin Sarah.  She looks like this most of the time.

    Jack attack FTW

    We are a musical family.  My dad's played and performed guitar for decades, his brother used to perform piano, all his siblings have done vocal performances (bands, chorales, musicals, etc) at some point, one of my cousins is a music therapist and even the grandparents have sung in the church choir for as long as I can remember.  So at some point at every family gathering, the evening evolves into a jam session that includes everyone...even my cousin Jack, who is pictured here as a one-man band (his phrase and entirely his idea)!  Those are cymbals tied to his knees and a kid-sized guitar.  No shouldered-harmonica contraption yet but give him time to perfect the act.

    Babysis, Little Cousin Hankry, Grandma Tob

    So the evening was filled with music and singing and food and drink

    and adorable children (the Tobs are kind of known for their ability to pop out good-looking babies, even if they get kind of weird-looking with age.  that's SELF-deprecating humor, any Tobs reading this!  don't hurt me!) .
    ...unless they are strapped down
    Children are hard to capture on film

     and crazyawesome cousins doin' what they do!  And it was awesome and family-filled and just fun

    oh and did i mention PIE.
    apple crumble AND pumpkin pecan crumble.  with fresh whipped cream.


    Lurkers: I'm playing around with blogger's new picture-adding tools.  Did I overdo it?  Also, what's your favorite kind of pie?

    Friday, November 19, 2010


    Hey you guys.

    So today at Crossfit we were working at establishing a 3-rep max for deadlifts.

    As far as I can remember (because I was silly and didn't write it down), last time I did deadlifts I was somewhere around 120ish for the max, without trying terribly hard, but I hadn't done them in forever.  So today I teamed up with this one woman (don't know her name, but she's awesome - smaller than me but crazy strong!) to work together on the same bar.  We started at 75lbs, which was pretty easy, and moved up fairly fast through 95, 115 and 125, then she maxed out at 135 (which was definitely more than her bodyweight, so w00t!) and I kept going.

    So I did pretty well at 145.  And then 150.  And then 155.  I was only aiming for anything over bodyweight, so I felt pretty happy with this.  And then Rich (who was the trainer that day) came around and looked at me sideways and then at my bar and then back to me, and he put a whole bunch of weights on.  Like, ALL of the ones I had lying there.  So I went ahead and tried that one.

    ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY POUNDS for a 1-rep max.

    Right now, I weigh between 145 and 150.  Way back two years ago when I started all this glorious insanity that is Crossfit, I weighed approximately 180 with no muscle tone whatsoever.

    So I just lifted my old sad fat self.  And it felt GOOD.


    (I also got a 3-rep max of 165 and a total time of 6:20 for today's WOD with rowing, but the other news was cooler.)

    Lurkers: show yourselves!  Tell me about a time when you were just in awe of your own incredibleness.


    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Three things that are weird

    1. My dinner tonight was CRAZY.

    Tonight, it was "Throw all kinds of random shit in a pan and see how it turns out."  No...really.  Sauteed celery in EVOO, mixed with a can of sardines and some chopped up roasted red peppers, with two eggs scrambled in, topped with muffaletta (sundried-tomato-and-olive relish stuff) and 1/4 avocado.  Skim milk to drink.  It was AMAZING.  Practically a religious experience.  You don't even KNOW.

    2. Noises affect me in really. weird. ways.  
    image via mentalfloss.com
    I remember as a kid going through these bouts - maybe 10-30 minutes? - where every sound I heard became what I described then as "the same sound, but the loudest and meanest one possible."  I think they were sometimes brought on by loud noises, but I honestly can't remember.  You know how, in horror movies, when they're trying to up the tension and they focus on the clock or the dripping faucet or something similarly innocent and the sound just builds and builds upon itself, echoing and beating and vibrating louder and louder?  Yeah.  I'd go to my room and turn out all the lights and hide under the covers, but sometimes even the blood beating in my ears and rustling just a little bit against the blanket with each beat would be too loud.  Even now, if there's a noise that's very loud, or sudden, or of a certain pitch, I'll jump or flinch or (if it's VERY loud and close) I'll start to collapse a little - my knees will give out and my vision will get starry and blurred, and I'll have to catch myself.  It's very strange and not at all fun.

    Tonight at Crossfit, part of the WOD was pushing these metal "sleds," shown below  We were supposed to get down as low as possible and shove them across the parking lot, making this horrible, mind-wrenching screech of metal on asphalt the entire time.  It's bad enough hearing it from inside the building when other people are doing it, but actually pushing the thing and having that sound up close, vibrating through each of your bones is, quite literally, torture.
    image via crossfitwilmington.com
    Oddly enough, while doing the image search for the sled, I came across this one here:

    image via crossfithanover.com
    That's how I felt.  Like someone was reaching into my body through my ears with both hands, rending and ripping at my brain and spine and throat and ears and tearing the shreds out through them.  It's faded now but for a long while I felt like there was blood pouring out of my ears - literally, could feel it dripping out..  I finished the WOD but just barely, and had to go hide behind the cars and cover my ears and shake for a while before I was ok.  Usually I try and tough it out through workout parts that are uncomfortable or painful because of something weird about me, but NOT this one.  Never doing those sleds again, except with some seriously heavy-duty ear protection.  Period.

    WOD: 21-15-9 reps for time of:
    • med ball cleans (20lb ball)
    • pull-ups (blue/violet bands for the first round, blue/black for the second two)
    • push that invention of pure evil back and forth across the parking lot once (not 21 times!)
    And then we did Tabata squats, and I got a score of 15 (squats in 20 seconds, as the lowest number in 8 rounds).

    3. My cat likes AVOCADO.

    She just crazy.


    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    My stupid joints

    It seems like the entire right side of my body has decided to rebel against me. Ok, so not the ENTIRE side. Just a couple of key contributors: notably, my ankle and shoulder. The ankle is kinda-sorta-maybe my fault for not babying it enough the first time I sprained it badly (like, 5 years ago) and then repeating the mistake every subsequent time.

    But the shoulder is just out to get me, I swear. It just randomly slips out of joint - a couple weeks ago I was sitting on the floor, leaned on both hands to get up and it went. Yesterday we were doing ring rows as part of the WOD and it gave out, making me fall and yell. It always goes right back in, and only hurts for a minute (and is sometimes sore afterwards), so I always feel ridiculous for calling attention to myself. Still finished the WOD, though, just with a few
    modifications noted below:
    • Warm-up: Colin found some lumber and decided we were going to mess around with it. Yay for impromptuity! He laid out a 10ft board on the floor and had us walk along it, like a balance beam in gymnastics (or, as Susanna and I figured out a little later, like "the floor is lava!"). Walking, walking while keeping eye contact with him, walking and kneeling down, walking backwards, and pivoting. I should have been a gymnast :D Also, some squats, push-ups and practice with Sumo Deadlift High Pulls (with a 55lb KB)
    • WOD: 6 rounds for time of 10 SDHPs, 20 ring rows and 200m run/row. I ran the first and last times and rowed the rest; when my shoulder went on the 5th round I finished up with 20lb KB snatches with the left arm for the SDHPs and one-armed ring rows (which are kinda fun!)
    It took a while. I think my time was at least 20 minutes. Meh.


    Leftover Shrimp Provencal with a little wild rice; applesauce with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg; Fage Total; salad; milk. Nom.

    Stay tuned for the Shrimp Provencal recipe later! It's an old family one and is DELISH.


    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Money Monday 15/11

    ...and this time it's actually being posted on the correct day, omgz!

    Just last week, almost everything was still green down here. Then we had a little bit of a cold snap (that term is relative, so people in Northern states, we got down to your springtime temps) and this happened:

    ...and I suddenly realise how much I want a REAL camera. Sigh.

    Anyways, here are this week's questions, original post here:
    1. The most I spent this last week was on groceries, $37.67 for milk, yoghurt, sardiney things and veg. And some sushi but just a little box.
    2. Today I feel kinda meh towards money. I've been really big lately on paying ALL of my own way, even living with the 'rents as I am. I just got the car insurance switched over to my name, been shopping around for health insurance (if I can get it...fingers crossed that the GOP doesn't repeal that bill before I do), trying to buy most to all of my own food (besides Chinese and salmonburgers, which amam gets at Sam's Club), already paying my own gas and other necessities. But the more I pay for myself, the more I realise that I'm REALLY gonna have to get another job, probably in addition to the one I've got, if I want to really be on my own. Either that or hang on and hope for a hell of a raise/Christmas bonus.
    3. Money can't buy happiness. One free thing I did last week was to go for a nice long walk through my woods, a la Sarah Running-To-Slow-Things-Down's gorgeous picture post here, except I did mine sans lens.
    4. I will consider this week a success if I make it to Crossfit at least 4 times and run/walk at least twice. Last week I was all plague-y and weak and hacking up my lungs too much to work out. So let's change that now.
    5. I am afraid of losing people suddenly. It's happened a couple times in my life and now I get really paranoid whenever I stop hearing from someone close to me without warning.


    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Gratuitous cat pictures!

    So this morning, I woke up with a short and fat but still incredibly handsome man sitting on top of me.

    [Greyson finally slowed down long enough for me to get a picture!]

    Scattered throughout the rest of the house in various states of sloth and disarray were two more fine-looking young lads of the hirsute persuasion...

    Blue. Look at his eyes!

    Sarge, doin' his own thang

    ...and this lovely little lady here!

    Maya usually looks like she's scowling but she's really a sweetie

    Right now I'm house- and cat-sitting for my friend Red Jen, who's travelling this weekend on family business. It's only 20 minutes from my work instead of the normal 45, which is nice, and even though I miss my own fuzzy baby, these guys have been distracting me pretty well :)

    Greyson is the "OMG GIVE ME PETTINZ" type and is all over me every time I walk in the door, but point a camera in his direction and he suddenly has very important business with the dust motes. Blue will sit still but will NOT look directly at me so I can capture his pretty eyes. Not even for a second. Maya is the queen of the house and she knows it. And Sarge is the scaredy-cat who still won't let me pet him when he's awake, but for some reason loves to pose. Here he is again:

    Hope you guys enjoyed that! Jen, your babies miss you and we all hope your trip is going as smoothly as possible!


    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Hungering for hunger

    So about a month ago, or a little more, I was at my weekly weight-loss support group meeting (2Sexy, for the interested). The topic that night was how to deal with emotional eating. At the time, I'd been doing pretty strict paleo/primal eating for a good while, keeping up with Crossfit 4-5 times a week, and picking up running again. I felt fantastic, and all the personal details of my life (job, stuff with T and my fam, etc) were going pretty swimmingly as well. So when the discussion came around the circle to me, I blithely said that I didn't have any issues with emotional eating anymore.

    Now, I'm just a little bit of a superstitious person in general (case in point: the GM swept up a penny when we were closing the shop last night and I wouldn't pick it up because it was tails-up), but for some reason I didn't even stop to think that I might be jinxing myself (or, for the scientific-minded, just speaking way too soon, at the best). However you think of it, the fact remains that directly after I made that remark (literally; it was only a couple days before shit started happening), the various factors in my life combined to make me remember exactly what emotional eating was. I sprained my ankle pretty badly and couldn't exercise for a while, which got me in a funk; drama started happening with my job and wages, which got me really on edge; and things got not-so-great with T, which I'm totally not going to detail here. And in response to all that, I ate.

    Pinches of cookie dough and slices of the kids' pizzas at work, along with "healthy" salads slathered in dressing instead of bringing lunch from home. Doubling up on portions of normally healthy fare like sardines, and going back for seconds (and thirds) on Family Chinese & Movie Night. Coffee every day, all day, and not nearly enough water to make up for it. Just crap in general, and way too much of it. Not because I was hungry, but because I wanted to be full. As a result, I've put on somewhere between five and ten pounds in just that short time, while ostensibly trying to move in the other direction.

    So I picked up this book, "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan, during my latest library run. Here's the book as described on Pollan's site, and here's the Amazon page for it. It's mainly about the industrialization of the "Western diet," and how it's led to so many of the most common illnesses and medical problems in our society (and that part is fascinating in itself). But in the last few sections, Pollan lays out a series of rules for eating (what and how) that, while terribly exhaustive, is also pretty inspiring, and most of them are sensible (obviously not everyone has the room for a freezer big enough to store an entire hog in). And these three I've picked, along with one of my own, are especially what I'll be aspiring to follow in an effort to shake myself out of this poor-health funk and back into something closer to my normal state. Here they are:
    • Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognise as food (also: don't eat anything incapable of rotting).
    • Avoid foods containing ingredients that are A. unfamiliar, B. unpronounceable, C. more than five in number or that include D. high-fructose corn syrup.
    • Do all your eating at a table (a desk does not count).
    And my own:
    • Don't eat unless you are actually hungry (i.e. stomach rumbling).
    This last one (which I used to stick to religiously) seems like it makes all the sense in the world, but it's the one I've ignored most often recently. Things taste better when you're hungry, and if you're not, you will feel like you need more of them to satisfy you. So today, this was my breakfast:

    No coffee. Nothing solid, either - I wasn't hungry, and I respected that fact. Just a big ol' glass of water and the puzzle section. The water helped with any caffeine withdrawal, and now, hours after this picture was taken, I feel hungry enough to actually enjoy what I'm about to eat, which is this:
    Raspberries, almonds, organic milk and oysters (just 3 ingredients on the can :D)

    Wish me luck, you guys!


    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Money Monday 8/11, plus soup and tea recipes!

    ...yes I know I'm late again. To make up for it, here's a picture of the view from my back door. Fall is still slowly sneaking up on us, but it's just warm enough to leave the windows open.

    This week's questions (original post here) (btw Miss Pretty Pennies herself is late this week too, so hah!):
    1. The most I've spent this last week was on an eye check-up and new contacts, $149 total but it's all reimbursable! In other news my prescription went up for the first time ever that I can remember and I am sad :(
    2. Today I feel pretty good towards money. I got a couple of nice-sized checks this week, from work and from a friend who I'm doing housework for, so my accounts are pretty happy right now. And aside from the medical stuff (and one small coffee on Ninth Street one day that I wanted to be all hip and do the Indie crossword while sitting outside of Bean Traders), I've only bought gas and necessary groceries/pharmacy stuff this whole month! I'm not jumping the gun and putting anything in savings just yet, as I like to schedule all my big recurring bills on the 15th, but I think I'll be able to put in more than I'd planned, which is awesome :)
    3. Money can't buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was...this past week was a tough one (due to more late nights at work as well as having the plague), and kind of boring to talk about as a result. But one night at work I was there with two awesome hardworking teenage employees who deserved cookies, so I used my managerial privilege to free food and made us all a batch.
    4. I will consider this week a success if I get well again asap! Time to break out the honey-lemon-garlic tea.*
    5. My go-to recipe is mermaid-with-a-farmer-boyf soup. Vegetable or fish broth base (usually Better than Bouillon); chopped carrots, onions, maybe some potato or celery; big chunks of whitefish of some sort along with clams or oysters if I have them, and loads of seaweed (usually Atlantic wakame or dulse), as well as anything I have on hand and feel like experimenting with (random root vegetables, lox pieces, apples...). It's seriously pretty awesome.
    *Honey-lemon-garlic tea sounds terrible but it is the best stuff in the world for sore throats, persistent coughs and icky plagues in general (and I happen to like the taste!). In college, I relied on this stuff all through flu seasons when I had classical solos to sing and it never let me down. You need:
    • one or two whole lemons (preferably organic, and scrubbed well)
    • several cloves of garlic (I use 3 or 4)
    • between 1/4 and 1/2 c of honey (preferably local and raw, from a farmer's market if you can get to one). don't buy any honey that says it's "USDA organic" because...the USDA doesn't actually have an organic qualification for honey, and anyone who says otherwise is trying to rip you off.
    Juice the lemon(s) into a saucepan as much as you can, then scoop out the pulp and dump it in there too. You can save the peel to grate or zest into the finished product (which is why the scrubbing is important).

    Smash or roughly chop the garlic - easiest way is to get a big flat knife, put the blade on top of the clove, then pound your fist down on it to loosen the skin and break it into chunks at once. Don't cut yourself. Then dump all garlic bits (other than the peel) into the pan.

    Pour in some water, probably around 4 cups for these proportions. Start heating the water and once it's warm enough to dissolve the honey easily, go ahead and dump that in too. Bring it to a simmer and then lower the heat so it's barely moving, then pop a lid on it and let it stew for like 20 minutes. Strain it well (unless you want to chew on the garlic pieces along with your tea...which actually might help more, come to think of it) and sip it hot throughout the day. For an extra kick and if you've got especially nasty sinus problems, I'd also add a dash of cayenne pepper.

    Hope everyone's weeks are going well!


    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Money Monday 1/11, a day late

    This past weekend was exhausting. That's true for almost anyone in the food biz every weekend, but this particular time around it was pretty bad, even by my standards. I worked later than scheduled every day, and ended up staying to close twice, with one of those times being entirely single-handedly. My back hurts and my eyes hurt and I have dishpan hands and my feet and calves are still in utter agony, so much that I actually skipped Crossfit last night to hobble home and eat bowl after bowl of amam's fish stew (with plenty of seaweed chucked in for good measure). And then I watched videos on Youtube and cuddled with the cat and read a book in bed and I did not blog or even think about money because I just didn't want to. Because sometimes that's what you have to do. However, now I am back and in better spirits (meaning the second pot of coffee is on the brew) and I'm totally ready to think and talk about finances. First, this week's questions! Original post here.
    1. The most I've spent this last week was on...well, it technically wasn't me spending it, but the biggest transaction was a bounced check for $375.50. Let me specify that this was a bounced paycheck from my old employer, who just sold the store and decided to close his bank account at the same time as he gave us all our (worthless) last checks from him. Other than that, I was able to transfer $200 to my savings account in spite of that fiasco, which I consider a HUGE accomplishment.
    2. Today I feel unexpectedly okay towards money. I'm still flaming pissed that this man (Bill Holt, who owns (owned?) Red Hot & Blue in Raleigh, NC, in case anyone wants to boycott it/him) thought he could pull this stunt - which, by the way, made my accounts go negative for just long enough (before I caught it and fixed it) to get slapped with a fee. But Mike, my friend and the GM at the store, says it is being taken care of, and I trust Mike. And even with that considerable amount being snatched away from me unexpectedly, I was still able to cover all my bases and even save a good chunk. Which means I'm awesome.
    3. Money can't buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was go to the LIBRARY!!! :D
    4. I will consider this week a success if I don't let craziness at work get me down and stick to a sensible eating/exercise routine.
    5. If I could grow one thing, it would be an everbearing fig tree in my room, right next to my bed. I don't think that needs any explanation.
    As a treat for you guys (and by treat I mean incredibly nerdy and boring thing that I think is pretty cool), I'm gonna show you the system I use to keep track of my money. I use mint.com and my bank's website religiously, but I also like to have something physical that I can have with me at all times. For your viewing pleasure, I present the two black books that run my life:

    They're both Moleskine notebooks - the ledger (on the left) is a hardcover graph-paper one and the planner is a softcover, because I keep the pencil tucked inside it. I like to be a pretty impromptu person in general, but I've come to realise that when it comes to certain grown-up things like scheduling responsibilities and planning finances, I need to be absolutely solid in my routine, right down to the writing implements. Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil for the planner and Pilot G-2 07 pen for the ledger. Period. Although I am thinking about getting a red pen to use in the ledger for negative amounts. Wow, I'm boring.
    Here's the start of November in the ledger. I write out what I'm planning to spend in each of my budget categories, with spaces beside that to fill in what I actually spent and the difference between the two figures at the end of the month. I also write down the starting and ending balances of all my accounts. (By the way, you can see the craziness that ensued from that bouncing check in the last of the October transactions on the left there. I had to cut out the explanations for those because they were all waxing poetic about what Bill could do to himself and what implements he could use.)

    Some transactions from last month. I was still working on the kinks in my recording method, which is why some things are a bit off, but the general gist is this: on the utmost left, there's the date. Then, an explanation of the transaction. The two columns beside that are labeled "from" and "to" at the top of the page - that is, money is being taken from one account and going to another. With every transaction, I update the running total of both the account the money is coming from and the amount I still have left in that budget category. Amounts in parentheses are negatives (which will be just written in red as soon as I get that pen!)

    And that's about it! I'm still working on the whole system (which I've just been keeping since last month) so I'd love any tips or input if you see a way you think I could improve it. And as thanks for making it through this tidal wave of text, here's proof that fall has finally come to NC...kind of. Sweet alyssum in my garden (usually a spring flower) beautifully juxtaposed with autumn leaves. It made me happy :)