Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 16 - Plants and Yarn

While the week was fine overall, there were a couple of things that didn’t work out as planned that put a damper on things. But spring is my season so in the end, it was all good.

It started on Monday when I arranged to have the afternoon off because Tim had said he’d be home and available to cut my weed trees. But when I called him to arrange the exact time to meet, he said he couldn’t do it. Damn! He suggested the next evening instead but by the time I got home Monday, he’d called to say that wouldn’t work either and asked about Thursday. With dreary, rainy weather forecast for Thursday through the weekend, that wasn’t going to work so I’d be losing another week. Grrr… That didn’t stop him from calling twice to the point where I was feeling pestered. Sheesh.

That paled in comparison to what was coming though. A member of our knitting group suggested the entire group do the Mid-Iowa Shop Hop on Friday the 24th, which is a 500 mile round trip to hit seven different yarn shops. Now she’d been doing it for several years with her sister but this time offered up her 12 passenger van so we could all go and make a day of it. So we all went about rearranging our schedules and asking for the day off work and the total was up to 7. Thursday morning she sent an email saying she wasn’t going, leaving us completely in the lurch because no one but her had a vehicle that would fit the remaining 6. We’d either have to take 2 cars or find a van to rent so we could go together. Either way meant more money out of pocket plus logistics galore. Pissed as hell is an understatement for how I felt. I researched and found a van to rent in Omaha and emailed the group. One member cancelled, which solved the problem but I felt so crappy that this had all gone down. I was in a foul mood all day Thursday and was determined to not let it affect Friday too. At least the trip was salvaged but I still didn’t feel good about leaving someone behind. Never again.

Enough of the problems! Some good things happened too. I sold 16 skeins of yarn from my stash (always good) and received an envelope of scrap sock yarn along with a skein I'd bought from someone's Ravelry stash. Plus I had a fun weekend despite the rain. Let’s talk about happy things.

Lorri and I were going to the grand opening of our favorite country greenhouse on Saturday and that happened to coincide with a rummage sale at the museum and a barn sale at our favorite country gift shop. I picked her up before 10:00 and we scored fun things at both sales (stocking stuffers baby!) before heading to the greenhouse. The first thing I saw when I got out of the car was an old wooden chair painted bright red. I had no sooner told Lorri that I needed to find an old chair to paint orange for my yard when I turned a corner and there one was! It was only $30 and ready to go so I was a happy camper. Add the flat of fun plants I’d bought and it was all good. And while it was pouring rain when we left Wahoo, it stopped just long enough for us to get the plants and head home. The garden gods were smiling on us.

It continued to rain all weekend so there was no gardening to be done beyond putting my pot of pansies on my new orange chair. Love it! While I’d thought about doing some organizing in the basement, when the heat’s off and it’s damp both inside and out, the basement isn’t a hospitable place. The chill drove me back upstairs so I got out some yarn and had dyeing fun. I did two skeins on Saturday, trying and failing to capture the dark pink of crabapples in bloom but ending up with pretty yarn nonetheless. I tried again on Sunday and failed again on the dark pink but got two more gorgeous skeins. I love dyeing but it’s easier if you don’t go into it with a set idea but instead go with the flow. I can’t seem to predict what colors I’ll get but end up with pretty yarn anyway. : )

Taking advantage of the weather and some cans I pulled out when I reorganized all my food cupboards, on Sunday afternoon I made a big pot of cabbage soup to eat for lunches on my 600/900 calorie week. Yum and it counts as a free veg. Speaking of the diet, I lost 2 more pounds so am down 34 going into my 3rd week. Could I break 40 by the end? Here’s hoping.

So thanks for listening to my whining earlier. Spring and yarn rescued the downer week. Hopefully spring is making you all happy too.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 15 - Shades of Spring

If one of the main things I remember from the week was how hungry I was, I’d say it was a pretty uneventful week. For me anyway. It was a dreary, wet week with no sun at all until Friday. Now I like rain but we didn’t get any appreciable rain until Thursday so it was dreary with no benefit. Oh well. April showers you know.

This was the first week of my third rotation so it should have been a cake walk but for some reason this time, the 600 calorie days were brutal. I was eating pretty much what I ate on the other rotations but was so hungry that I could hear my stomach growling from outside my body. Not fun. But I stuck with it and other than an ounce of cheddar I ate before swimming on Tuesday, I didn’t deviate from the menus. I was motivated to lose the jelly bean weight I’d gained before Easter, which I did by the end of the week plus 3 more pounds. All good. But it was harder this week than it’s ever been so I hope this was an aberration.

I swam Tuesday and Wednesday because I was going to the movies on Thursday with my friend Nancy. Anne and I were talking about her mom’s health in the pool on Wednesday. She has some chronic health problems and had been to Mayo recently for some follow up visits. Well, Anne called me Thursday morning to say her mom had died in her sleep. This was so sad and a huge blow to Anne, who was devoted to her mom. I had to fight tears at my desk but it’s not about me. I wasn’t close to my mother so can’t relate to how Anne’s feeling but told her I’d be there for anything she needs. I potted up some cheery pansies for her, which seems lame but it’s a start.

The move was fun (In Search of General Tso at The Ross along with a short documentary on Sriracha) and then we went to Ploughshare, where I skipped the stout and just had their delicious beet and goat cheese salad. Now I’m sure that blew my 900 calories for the day but I was OK with that. At least I hadn’t had popcorn at the theatre.

I made a beeline home on Friday, despite having a list of possible places to stop. The sun was out and I just wanted to be home to start the weekend. Typical. I started my weekend by dyeing some alternate yarn for the socks I was working on and had them hanging in the shower to dry by bedtime. Nice start.

Andrea was at my door early Saturday, delivering scalloped cement borders for my new berry bed. I then called Tim to come over about building my new compost bins, which he said he could do. After running Friends of the Library errands, it was already lunch time. Unfortunately it was too wet to do much outside but done but I did putter a bit outside, getting a few non-digging things taken care of before it was time to head to Lori’s. Her sister was in town for the weekend so we were knitting, which is always good. Despite bringing Girl Scout cookies, I didn’t indulge, sticking to just tea. My head is so in this diet! Anyway, it was fun, as always, and I didn’t get home until after 7:00.

Sunday was a day at home. It was still pretty soggy out but I opted to stay in and catch up on things instead of gardening because my house was a mess. My cleaning lady is due Tuesday so my house hasn’t been cleaned in almost 4 weeks and it shows but I also had regular chores and wanted to do some cooking since I have more options on my 1200 calorie week. I got everything on my list done, which always feels great and it put me in a good place to start the week. I also finished a sock that was an experiment so it involved ripping out most of both socks, changing my contrast yarn (Friday’s dye job) and experimenting with stitches but I couldn’t be happier with the finished product. What do you think? I see a jonquil, hence the pic, but Lori’s sister saw candy corn. I’m going with the spring theme. And on that note, have a good week and enjoy whatever weather spring has brought your way.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 14 - My Garden Year?

One of the things I love about gardening is that every year is a new beginning. A new chance to try new things, get it right, whatever. My favorite part of gardening is the planning and boy can I plan but when it comes to execution, I mostly fall short. The blazing hot and humid Nebraska summers mean I have a small window in spring to get the heavy work done before it’s just too hot to be outside. Add my usual annual trek to Europe in May and the window is even smaller. Well, between the early spring weather this year and the fact that I won’t be going to Europe next month, I’m thinking this might actually be the year that I get things in order. So far so good.

The weather this week was weird – try high 80’s on Wednesday! It was so hot that we had thunder storms on Wednesday night. Since I have knitting on Monday and swim Tuesday and Thursday, Wednesday is my night to get outside but not this week. I made up for it over the weekend though. I spent hours outside both Saturday and Sunday and by the time I stopped on Sunday, I had raked the entire yard and cleaned out every bed (there’s a bit left back on the alley – low priority), all the roses were pruned and I’d moved one of my raised veg beds, sifted and added compost to it and planted my early crops. Between that and the work I did out front last weekend, things look great. Andrea even noticed when she stopped by on Saturday. Yay! And it’s only the first week of April. I am SO hopeful.

I had been kicking around the idea of taking a week off this month to work outside but came up with a new plan this week that Nora approved. I came to realize that working outside every single day was not going to work for my knee so I looked at taking Wednesdays off for the rest of the month, Wednesdays being midway between the weekend so my body has had a few days to recuperate. While that looks great on paper, the weather wouldn’t be cooperating this coming week and who knows for the rest of the month. There’s also the reality of it being too chilly to work outside most mornings, which would leave me using vacation time for sitting on my butt. So the plan is I’m going to play it fast and loose with my vacation time, deciding based on weather, my schedule and my motivation when I’ll take an afternoon off and I’ll just leave at noon. I think it’s going to work perfectly – I’ll be up and out every day and still get a few nice afternoons out in the garden while maximizing vacation hours. Perfect. Maybe I’ll take a week in the fall.

There were weird bits besides the weather this week. Tuesday was cleaning lady day so I’d done all the last minute neatizing Monday after knitting and Tuesday morning. I was excited to get home after swimming, when the instructor didn’t show so we just did our own thing in the deep end, to a clean house. Well, I opened the door and could see that the floor was still dirty. I facebooked my cleaning lady, who had been posting all kinds of pics of her new grandbaby who, come to find out, is in Arizona. She forgot to tell me she was not coming. And she’s just skipping so won’t be back for another 2 weeks. Sheesh!

I was also having trouble sleeping, waking up an hour early several days in a row. When I woke up early again on Thursday, I texted Darla to see if she was up and we met for breakfast at Lulu’s Lunchery – a new restaurant on the north side of Lincoln. We had yummy lemon pancakes and caught up, leaving with a plan to eat out every week that I’m not rotating. The bonus was leaving the restaurant early enough that I had time for Jiffy Lube before work. Way to put good use to not sleeping, right? It put me in great mood for the rest of the day.

Rotating. I could not wait to start eating healthy again. I purposely took 2 weeks off so I wouldn’t be rotating over Easter but Helen was working so there was no family get together and I ended up eating a butt load of crap for a solid 2 weeks. Not good. I ended my break with Burger King for lunch on Easter. Time to get healthy again and drop more weight!

To end on a positive note, March was all about socks. Now you may be thinking it’s always about socks for me but this month I actually knitted 3 pair of socks for the first time ever. All three are Christmas gifts so it’s only March and I’ve already got half of my Christmas socks done. I also picked up the most gorgeous pair of socks I’ve ever knitting from Yarn Charm, where they’ve been hanging for months, and mailed them off to Ginny for her birthday. She loved them. So, all socks and all good. Isn’t life great?

On that note, I hope you all had a nice Passover, Easter or whatever you celebrate. Happy spring!

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.