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.


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 :)