Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 13 - Spring Break Week

I was looking forward to this week. Not only was I taking a break from rotating but it was also spring break so we had no swimming. Much as I love the pool, I was happy to be going right home for a change and was hoping to get some yard work done. Unfortunately things didn’t work out as planned.

Monday night was knitting and I hadn’t planned anything for dinner so just opened a can of soup, which was totally unsatisfying for my first non-diet supper in 3 weeks. I then ate some jelly beans at knitting (so not worth the calories) so felt like I shouldn’t have the ice cream I’d planned when I got home. Not a banner day for not rotating.

I made up for that on Tuesday, when the water aerobics gang went out to Ploughshare for dinner. I had a spinach and beet salad with curried butternut squash soup. They were absolutely delicious and hit the spot. The only desserts didn’t sound good but Anne got the chocolate hazelnut cheesecake and offered me a bite. Now I don’t like chocolate in my cheesecake but the chocolate was only in the crust. I ended up eating half of her dessert. Yum.

The week was full of training. I had my 2 regular monthly classes on Tuesday and Thursday and was extending Thursday’s class for a one-on-one session with one person. On Wednesday morning I sat in on Nora’s portal class because I know the day is coming when I’ll have to teach it. Wednesday afternoon, Nora and I were presenting at a retreat for the out station employees from all over the state so we went to HyVee for lunch between the two sessions and then hit the Animal Science meat store on our way to the retreat. After the presentation, which had some technical issues so we ran out of time, we tagged along on a tour of Innovation Campus, which was impressive. We didn’t get done until 5:30 so I got home too late to cook. Good thing I have a chock full freezer. I grabbed a casserole and enjoyed dinner while watching Survivor. What a nice day.

Have you noticed that by this point I haven’t been home right after work once? Well, Thursday was my first hope for going straight home. Dodie and I had thrifted over lunch and I’d found a pair of jeans that should actually fit so that was fun. But it was raining all afternoon and by the time I headed home, it was snowing. Yes, after having beautiful spring weather, it was snowing huge quarter sized flakes for my ride home. So much for getting any gardening done. I had to keep telling myself it’s only March.

We went to Green Gateau on Friday, which was lovely and a break for Layton, who has been so good about eating where I could while rotating. We even had dessert, which meant it was a long lunch but oh well. And talk about a short afternoon! I ran a bunch of errands on the way home (9 stops and a 30 mile drive in less than 2 hours) and was ready for the weekend. Saturday was the Council Bluffs gardening conference a few of us go to every year so I had to set my alarm on a Saturday. Sacrilegious! The conference was fun, as usual, but killed the whole day. I had snack supper (Guinness with cracker and cheese) for dinner and watched The Theory of Everything while knitting. What a lovely day.

Sunday was filled with chores. It was super windy so working outside wasn’t an option (still only March) but I got the house picked up, did all my laundry and ironed some smaller sized clothes from the basement, which should make getting dressed in the morning a bit easier. Then I cooked up a storm so have plenty of food for the coming week, which will be my last before another rotation. In honor of that, I made mini bundt cakes to take to knitting, banana bread for work and total comfort food for dinner – beef, onions and mushrooms in gravy over mashed potatoes with Brussels sprouts. Yum and there’s plenty more to eat this coming week, when I’ll be back in the pool. Hopefully the spring weather will be back so I can sneak in some yard work. Iffy but I can hope. Happy Spring!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 12 - Spring Has Sprung

I started the week by oversleeping. I had screwed up resetting my alarm clock and my coffee pot after losing power on Sunday and the cats failed to wake me up. I woke up an hour late and still managed to get to work on time. Pretty miraculous but not a restful start to the week. To top that off, it was freaky hot out – 89 degrees! It was just tolerable knitting outside at lunch but I didn’t go out for an afternoon break, knowing it’d be too damn hot. Sheesh! Knitting was fun and it was good to be inside but a cold  front came through while we were in the library and the temperature plummeted. Frankly, it was better than mid-summer weather in winter.

Tuesday was a food day and I foolishly thought I could find something to eat that wouldn’t blow my diet. Not so much. I ate as wisely as I could but it was still too much, which wasn’t hard to do on a 600 calorie day. At least I learned an important lesson so next time I’ll bring my own lunch or I’ll schedule them for weeks I’m not rotating. I tried to make up for the extra calories by swimming but no one but me showed up so class was cancelled. Oh well.

The rest of the week was a blur. Work was steady and I finally did get to swim on Thursday night. One night is better than none. I made a beeline home on Friday, excited for the first weekend of spring, which was going to be gorgeous.

I spent most of the weekend outside. On Saturday I worked in the veg garden and cleared out lots of weed trees then dug a new bed along my neighbor’s chain link fence and planted two kinds of peas. I also created a new compost heap against the same fence. All that took most of the afternoon. I was back outside Sunday morning but started out front, clearing the pots from the driveway, refurbing the old herb bed and transplanting a Wahoo tree from out back, where the thicket of them is too close to my veg beds. Then I edged the entire driveway. And cleared the bed under the front windows. I was dead tired when I was done but the front of the house looks great so all worth it. After a shower and a cup of tea, I was ready for some knitting. I did run to Lori’s with a big bag of scraps for her chickens and to get gas. What a productive weekend! I need a few more of those.

This coming week is spring break at UNL so no swimming. I hope to get home early enough a couple of nights to keep up the yard work. It won’t be as warm as this weekend but hopefully I can get an hour in before dinner and dark. I need to get exercise someway because I just finished my second rotation. I was very tempted by snacks late in the week but resisted and it was all worth it. I lost another 18 pounds so am down 29 in my 2 rotations (there are some cruise pounds in there I had to lose twice.) Getting dressed in the morning is becoming a chore but capri season is coming so I’ll have a few more options. It’s all good. Have a nice week.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Week 11 - Too Much Knitting?

The highlight of the week was the weather. It was unseasonably warm and I chose to ignore the worrisome aspects of that and just enjoy it. The nice weather was perfectly timed with Lincoln Public Schools spring break, which mean campus was quiet because many parents stayed home with their kids, Nora included. The phone didn’t ring much and I was able to power through my to do list. Nice.

I started the week with a doctor’s appointment Monday afternoon for my earache. Yup, it was an ear infection and I left with a prescription for antibiotics with a warning from the doctor that it might be hard on my stomach and to eat lots of yogurt to hopefully prevent a yeast infection. At first I didn’t have stomach problems but rather intestinal issues. Only after a few days did I realize that my stomach being so funky after dinner that I couldn’t eat my fruit (a big treat on this diet) and resorted to Tums before bed was because of the antibiotic. I switched to taking it right before bed and that helped some. The earache was gone in a day but I have 9 more days of drugs. Ugh.

I had no lunch plans until Friday with Layton so spent lunch every day knitting in the sun on a bench in Love Gardens, which felt wonderful. I also took some afternoon breaks and got even more knitting done. I was whipping through socks, finishing one in four days, plus got a bit of color on my pasty winter skin for the first time since the cruise. It was the end of the week before I knew it.

And what was on the calendar for the weekend? Even more knitting. Lori’s sister was in town so she invited her cousin, Andrea and me to knit at her house on Saturday. After a Friends meeting Saturday morning and a few errands, I headed to Lori’s with a lemon sponge pie I’d made to celebrate Pi Day. I was on a 1200 calorie day so planned to enjoy a piece because it would be worth the calories. And it was. We had a lovely day knitting on the front porch. I had done so much knitting all week that my right arm hurt so I mostly unraveled a sweater instead of knitting and the break seemed to help my arm. I didn’t leave Lori’s until nearly 7:00 so it was a full day. Full of happy that is.

I slept like crap and was up from 3:15 to 5:00 but then got a couple more hours of sleep, after which I was fully functional. Andrea and I had planned an early Omaha run on Sunday. I was picking her up at 8:30 and we were hitting Trader Joe’s, Aldi and Penzey’s with the idea that we’d be home by noon so I could do my chores. All was going well until we hit a snag at Joann’s plus added 2 more stops so we got home closer to 1:30.

After a quick lunch, I started in on laundry and made a list for the rest so I could power through. I was on the phone when my neighbor was at my back door. I had heard some sirens but hadn’t noticed that my neighbor’s house 4 doors down was on fire. The electricity went off and I spent the next couple of hours outside with neighbors watching the firemen work. Thankfully the family got out but the house was a total loss (some of this video was shot from my driveway.) I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose everything. To top it all off, the family’s father is in Iraq. So sad.

Anyway, when the electricity came back on I worked like a banshee to make up for the lost time. I got my chores done but not the cooking I’d planned, which meant I’d be going into my 600/900 calorie week with nothing prepared for dinners. I guess I’ll be grilling some meat and eating veg from the freezer. At least I have a house. Seeing my neighbor’s house go up in flames makes me feel so grateful for everything I have and spring. I love spring and its on the way. It’s all good.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Week 10 - Spring is Coming!

So there isn’t much to say about the week days. There was prepping for Nora to be out next week, doing monthly reports and slamming on stuff when I got home after swimming. I started another rotation so there wasn’t much cooking to do but I had time for the many little things on the list, which are now crossed off. The weekend arrived in a flash.

The weather had finally changed and we were getting some long overdue warmth. Of course it couldn’t be seasonal but rather either side of 60 for the highs. I chose to ignore the worrisome aspects of that and enjoy the weather. I did laundry and hung it on the line (always one of my favorite things and it’s technically a chore) and did a bunch of cooking to make up for my lack thereof on my 600/900 calorie week. I made a big pot of pea soup to take to a friend who had her knee replaced, a big pot of red sauce since my freezer was out and pasta is a dinner option in my 1200 calorie week and a small batch of chicken soup with the carcass from the rotisserie chicken I’d eaten all week. It felt good to be cooking again.

Sunday was my rescheduled birthday tea, which was postponed due to a snow storm. What a difference a month makes! We were able to sit outside for about an hour on Lori’s porch before the wind drove us inside. Michelle had brought Jones Brothers cupcakes, which we cut into halves or fourths so we could try more kinds with our tea. While it wasn’t in my 900 calorie plan, it was totally worth the calories and I enjoyed every bite. With the time change making it light so late, we didn’t leave until almost 7:00. It was a wonderful day of knitting in the sun with friends. Does it get any better? The only downer was by the time I went to bed on Sunday I had an earache. At last my cold had settled somewhere and it wasn’t good but at least I’d finally be going to the doctor after 3.5 weeks of this. Because there are 2 things that can’t be ignored in my world – earaches and toothaches. At least it wasn’t the latter. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Week 9 - Back on Track

This week was about trying to get back to normal. My cold was much better, although still hanging on with light congestion and coughing, so I was able to swim again. That went a long way towards feeling better.

So, as you know, my normal means busy. Monday was knitting after work, Tuesday and Wednesday were swimming and then Darla and I went thrifting on Thursday, which we haven’t done in ages but now Darla is working on East Campus 2 days/week so we might get back into a thrifting routine. By Friday I was exhausted but with a rotation coming on Monday, I had to stop at the grocery store after work. I also hit the bread store, scoring some ultra-thin bread that will mean I can have a sandwich on my 600 calorie days. Yay! I also stopped at the big Goodwill in search of yarn but ended up buying 13 new tops at their 99 cent sale, some in a smaller size since I’m hoping to be another 15 pounds down by the end of this next rotation. All good and I was home for the weekend.

I had never finished my chores from the previous weekend so my house was a bit of a wreck with clean dishes in the drainer and dishwasher, which mean dirty dishes all over the counters, and clean laundry wrinkled in a basket and folded on the couch. So I started Saturday morning getting everything put away and back in order, which felt great. I also went through all the stacks of paper, including a pile of mail that started before my cruise. The 10:30 close of the post office got me out of the house and I ran other errands in town, which is the epitome of my normal Saturday and felt oddly wonderful. After some Wahoo wieners for lunch, I headed to Andrea’s shop to pick her up for a fun Saturday of play.

Cheryl had surprised me with Lincoln Symphony Orchestra tickets for Saturday night that she couldn’t use so I’d called my culture buddy and she was in. Since the Lincoln spinners group, which Andrea belongs to but not I, meets at Yarn Charm Saturday afternoon, we were starting out there then having dinner at Ploughshare before heading to the concert. Despite being on a yarn diet, I bought some fun new sock yarn while the spinners were doing their thing. I made it 2 months but had hoped to go longer. Oh well. Here’s my age old rationalization – I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I just buy too much yarn. Over the years the last sentence has changed but yarn is definitely my purchase of choice these days and I’m OK with that. It's gorgeous, right? Totally my colors. Love it!

Anyway, we stopped at Super Saver before heading to Ploughshare, where we had a wonderful dinner. I enjoyed a pint of one of their ales with brats and cream, which is sort of like beef stroganoff but with sliced brats and with homemade noodles. Yum. Then they had a lemon curd cheesecake on special. There was no way I was skipping that and it was worth every calorie. I only wish Ploughshare were open for lunch because Layton would love it. The symphony was wonderful and I am seriously considering buying tickets to next month’s concert. We didn’t get home until nearly 11:00 but the long day was totally worth it. Plus I still had Sunday with no plans, which is always a joy.

Sunday was also March 1st, which means I started new socks. The challenge was to use our oldest yarn and I had my pattern and yarn all planned so casted on first thing. I then spent the day alternating between chores and knitting, getting lots of both done. Then the evening had the finales of The British Baking Show (love it!) and Downton Abbey. PBS interrupted the baking show constantly with pledge breaks so I took advantage of them to prep veggies and fruit for my rotation. Thankfully, they didn’t do the same with Downton Abbey. I can’t believe we have to wait until January 2016 for season 6. Oh well.

So all in all, it was a good week. I’d gotten caught up, was prepped and ready for another rotation and my cold was almost gone. I did get some sad news on Friday about a knitting friend having cancer but I’m sending positive vibes and am hopeful for her. It makes me realize that you have to enjoy every day because you never know what will happen. On that thought, have a wonderful week. Spring really is on the way, regardless of what frozen hell we’re in now. A flock of robins was eating crabapples on my tree, which is proof enough for me.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week 8 - Sick and Tired

There isn’t much to say about this week. I was sick enough to call in on what would have been my first day back to work after my cruise and although I was back at work on Tuesday, I was barely holding on. I was completely medicated – Claritin D, Mucinex and Flonase – and was still a mess. I made it through work every day only to go home and struggle to stay awake for even a couple of hours. I got absolutely nothing done except for going to work, unless you count the single load of laundry I did because I needed clean undies. And since swimming wasn’t an option, I got a haircut on Thursday. That’s it. So, not my most productive week.

I was on the mend by the weekend. I did some food shopping before heading home to Wahoo. Other than doing a bank deposit for Friends of the Library on Saturday, I had no obligations nor plans. I was feeling completely disconnected from the world so stopped at Andrea’s shop after I did the deposit for a good, long chat and then had some catch up phone calls over the weekend. I briefly considered driving to Fremont or Omaha on Sunday but opted instead to stay in and do some cooking and baking – brownies, cabbage casserole, a loaf of whole wheat bread and apple crisp. I did venture out to drop a big bag of scraps for Lori’s chickens, recycle and stop at the market for ice cream for my apple crisp. It was a nice day to end a somewhat lost week.

With my cold in its final stages, I have grand plans for a normal week full of friends, swimming and productivity.

Week 7 - Cruising the Caribbean

The first two days were ship days. Since we’d already explored, we headed right up to the Serenity Spa for a day of relaxing in the shade. I knitted and Connie read. After awhile, we look some laps around the ship on the Promenade deck and hung out on some loungers with a cute couple from Tennessee who were on their honeymoon – Jaime and Josh. Dinner was back in the main dining room. Tuesday was pretty much more of the same except we ended with going to the comedy club with Connie’s niece and her fiancé. By this point I was ready to get off the ship and we’d booked some excursions for the 3 port days so had some fun stuff in store.

Wednesday was Jamaica and we’d booked an all inclusive beach day at a local resort called Secrets. It was only 5 minutes from the port and was absolutely lovely. After hearing the thrilling news that they had wifi, Connie and I found the perfect chairs under both a palm cabana and palm trees, thereby ensuring us shade all day. A lovely British couple sat next to us so it was fun chatting with them. Servers brought us drinks (free) so I had 3 – 2 Miami Vices (half pina colada and half strawberry daiquiri) and 1 mojita. Delicious! We had fish tacos in the restaurant but the best part of the day was getting online. I HATED not being connected so happily sent emails, updated facebook and checked in on Ravelry. Nirvana! I was determined to swim so dutifully walked over to the roped off area and swam. The only problem was the steep, rocky part you had to get over to get out. It was right were the waves broke and I just could not get my feet under me before the waves would knock me down. Connie, who hadn’t gotten in, tried to help me only to be pulled in too. Now that’s a good friend! We both floundered around for awhile before being rescued by two burley men who hauled us out. I can only hope no one had a camera because two middle aged woman laughing hysterically in a food of roiling water would have been a treat I’m sure. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Wednesday was Grand Cayman. We’d booked a private excursion with the travel agent so most of the 50 people she’d booked were heading for Captain Bob’s boat for a Stingray City/snorkeling adventure. The stingrays were amazing! The boat takes you about 30 minutes from shore to a big sandbar where there water is not even waste high and the stingrays congregate there. Centuries ago, fisherman used to clean their catches there so the stingrays went for the food and are still going there. Now it’s tourists feeding them and they’re completely familiar with humans and swim right up to you, brushing along your legs as they go by. Captain Bob picked one up and you could touch it, kiss it and get a stingray massage. Definitely something new and exciting! From there the boat went to 2 snorkeling spots at reefs – one with just coral and the other with lots of gorgeous fish. I love snorkeling – seeing so clearly and being in a world of your own. Totally enjoyable. We got a restaurant recommendation from Captain Bob and enjoyed a delicious fish lunch when we were done. I finally got to taste Wahoo, which I’d known was a fish but had never seen on a menu. Yum. Connie shopped a bit while I sat on a bench. By the time we got back to the ship, I had the chills. Now I’d been out in the sun all day but with sunblock on and didn’t appear to have a burn so it could have been too much sun or the little cough I’d had for a couple of days (lots of people on the ship had a dry cough) was turning into something. No way to be sure but after failing to muster any appetite for dinner, I opted to go back to the room and had the light turned off by 8:20. I clearly needed some extra sleep.

Friday was Cozumel and we’d originally scheduled a 7 hour Mayan ruins tour on the mainland, which included a 45 minute ferry ride followed by a bus ride to get to the ruins. We’d wised up and exchanged our tickets (nice that the Guest Services people gave us no grief even though it was cheaper) for a shorter one on the island so left for that Friday morning. We had a wonderful tour guide and I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 hour tour, which included ruins of a Mayan fertility site and a bus ride around the island that stopped at a beautiful beach on undeveloped side where we had some fresh guacamole and chips and Connie got to buy her conch shell. I was dragging a bit on the 1 mile walk through the jungle to one of the ruins butit was all good. That night was another cruise elegant night so we headed back for showers and dressing. They didn’t have lobster but the pasta I ordered was yummy. The next day was our last day.

I don’t know if it was the direction change or the weather but Friday night was the roughest night we’d had. It wasn’t bad but I did wake up many times during the night noticing the rocking. Saturday was COLD. I had hoped for a relaxing day at the Serenity Spa but being at the top front of the boat, it was way too windy. Jaime, Josh and I found the warmest spot we could find in the sun on Deck 5 but when we lost the sun, it was too cold to stay. We went to the buffet for lunch (I had 3 bites of a hotdog and stopped but did enjoy some chocolate from the Valentine’s Day dessert spread) but then split up. Connie was back in the room because she was feeling crappy so I went to check on her and ended up spending the rest of the day there watching Seinfeld and Friends reruns, which was fine. I was over the cruise and counting the minutes until we could get off the ship. We packed our bags before dinner so we could put them out for the porters to take and enjoyed our last meal with our dinner mates. I was so ready to go!

After breakfast Sunday, we headed to a lounge to wait for our debarkation numbers to be called. It was as organized as the front end and we were on the bus to the airport. I was dismayed by the hundreds of people waiting in line to check bags at Southwest but was assured I’d make my flight, which I did with only minutes to spare. I felt pretty bad at this point and was congested despite being fully medicated with Claritin D and Mucinex. Then the wifi was down on the first flight so I had less to distract me. At least I was on the way home. The 2nd flight was delayed but flew by as I watched TV on my ipad. My left ear absolutely wouldn’t clear though and by the time I landed, I couldn’t hear much at all and my ear was killing me. Only when I got to my car and was sitting with it running, did blowing my nose work. There was pain and a screeching noise in my left ear that left my equilibrium out of whack but after clutching the steering wheel for a few minutes, it’s equalized. I headed towards home at 5:30, which was when I’d hoped to be in my house but still. After a stop at the market for fried chicken and cole slaw for dinner, I happily walked into my house. My cold was full blown by then but I unpacked like a zombie because I was determined to go to work on Monday. The cruise was over and it was time for a return to normal life, which I ridiculously happy about.

So cruising is clearly not my cup of tea. I’m glad I tried it but know that was both my first and last cruise. I guess I wouldn’t rule out something more refined like a Viking River Cruise or transatlantic on a kinder gentler cruise line but Carnival will ABSOLUTELY NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. I’m ready for Scotland in 2016 now. It’s gonna be a long wait.