Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Week 18 - Even More Plants

I was actually looking forward to a normal week with work, swimming and a weekend at home. Randy and Josh moved out on Monday and a new cubie mate arrived – Bethany, another accountant. I trained 2 afternoons and was busy so the week was flying by. Andrea called Wednesday night to remind me that I needed to feed her chickens while she was away for a long weekend. After some back and forth calls, we made plans to meet at lunch on Thursday so she could give me a key.

 Thursday was a stressful day with meetings and training stacked one after the other. I started the day popping over to East Campus for the Hort Club sale, where I bought round 2 of flowers for the year. Just before I was due to go into my first meeting of the day, I got something I’d been waiting for so slammed through 50 emails for my old boss in HR to send then ran off to the meeting, which luckily got out early. I then picked up Dodie and drove to the thrift store where we’d be meeting Andrea for the key exchange and shopping. Then it was back for an afternoon of training. I was spent by the time I was done.  Just one more day until the weekend.

Before I’d gotten Andrea’s reminder about feeding her chickens, I’d made plans to meet Darla for breakfast at Cook’s in Lincoln at 7:00 a.m. Friday morning. That meant I had to be feeding chickens at 6:00 and on the road by 6:15. I was actually ahead of schedule so food shopped before meeting Darla for a lovely breakfast. Darla’s the only person I’d meet so early and she’s totally worth it. I had a nice lunch with Layton at the Chinese buffet and swam after work. Finally it was the weekend. Unfortunately I had a Friends of the Library meeting at 9:30 Saturday so spent Friday night doing six months of treasurer’s reports since I hadn’t done one since September. Sheesh.

I was missing a bank statement, having been given the Foundation’s instead of Friends’ for one month, so called the bank first thing and ran down there to pick up the statement after feeding the chickens. I got 5 gorgeous, fresh eggs and ran home to finish my reports and be back at the library by 9:30. Once I got home from the library, I stayed home. It was a raw, rainy day and it was nice to be cozy inside. I started my chores and had them mostly done by the end of the day. I had Saturday snack supper and went to bed early.

I woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday so decided to get dressed and head out. I fed the chickens, picked up a newspaper and was home and back in my pajamas eating an omelet with one of Drae’s eggs by 6:30. I was gone and back so fast that it felt like it never happened so it finally had my morning in jammies until noon. After grabbing lunch, I cleaned out my car and picked up Lorri for yet another plant run, this time to From the Ground Up. It’s my fave greenhouse and we go every year. It’s not particularly cheap but it’s locally owned and all of the plants are in pristine condition. Two flats later and I was back home drinking tea because it was another raw day, although not raining as steadily. Then the cooking began. I made a big pot of beef barley soup for lunches and made sautéed pork and leeks over quinoa with goat cheese on top for suppers. Then I put salsa pork in the crockpot for my boss, whose husband trashed his leg in a biking accident and is completely disabled for 10 weeks so can’t cook. I was ready for the week. All good.

Week 17 - Back to Normal

We had arranged for late checkout so after breakfast headed to Arlington, which we could see from our hotel but it was 2 metro stops away. Having walked so much the previous 2 days, we opted to take the tram around the cemetery. The perfect weather was over, making it too hot to walk anyway. We didn’t time our first stop well and missed the tram so waited 20 minutes in the blazing sun at JFK’s memorial for the next one. Between that delay and one for a funeral, we only had time for one more stop but it was worth going. We got to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and enjoyed the views before heading back for a lunch of leftovers, checkout and a shuttle to the airport. It was another uneventful flight with Anne and I knitting and Rene napping across the aisle. Our flight even got in 39 minutes early so I was home and unpacked by 7:00. It was cold and rainy and since I’d left my windows open, my house was cold. I turned on the heat and headed to knitting while it warmed up. It had been a fabulous trip and I wanted to tell my friends all about it. I took a shower and went to bed when I got home, ready for the rest of my work week.

I spent the week trying to catch up – getting an oil change, grocery shopping to restock, swimming and work. Friday was Spring Affair and after missing the last 2 years, I had finally scored a plant informant volunteer spot on Friday night. I left work at 3:30 to hit the pre-sale for volunteers then went to HyVee for dinner with Lorri, which has been our tradition. We were back to start our shifts at 6:00 but got assigned to a skunk section – temperennials, which are perennials in more southern climes but not in Nebraska. So not only did I know nothing about them but spent the entire night telling people the plants wouldn’t survive our winters rather than sharing my plant knowledge. I had so looked forward to it but it was pretty much a bust. Then when I was 10 minutes from the end of my shift, the coordinator asked me to walk the entire sun section and note which plants were sold out. Now when I have 3 pages of 2 single spaced columns of botanical names, it’s not an easy task. It picked up a bit when Lorri came over to help but it was still holding me up from going home. I was exhausted.

My goal for Saturday was to stay in my PJ’s relaxing until noon. Well, that didn’t work. My neighbor was at my back door at 9:00 on Saturday asking if I’d be interested in hiring someone she knew from her volunteer work at the local halfway house. He was looking to mow lawns and so I told her I’d consider it and asked how to contact him. Not 10 minutes later, Denny was at my front door and I still wasn’t dressed. I asked him to wait on the deck and went in to get dressed and wash up. Grrrrrr… I talked to him and agreed to give him a try. He’d be coming back at 1:00 to mow so since I was dressed, I got busy with chores and eventually grabbed lunch. I showed him the ropes and puttered in the yard while he mowed then worked on my garden beds for another 2 hours while he did some clean up in the backyard. It was a long day and not relaxing but it was done and he’d be coming back on Fridays to mow for only $10 (my yard is small so takes less than half an hour to mow – lest you think I’m gypping him.)

It ended up being a good thing I’d been outside on Saturday because it was raining on Sunday. I spent the day inside doing more laundry, prepping tons of produce (it was day 1 of a new rotation) and getting caught up in the house. I also had plenty of time for knitting and catching up on television so got the recharge time I desperately needed. Good thing because I’d be facing a busy week at work and five full days. Yikes!

Week 16 - District of Columbia

The beginning of the week was a blur. I was busy at work with allocations, a professional development seminar on Gallup Strengths and doing my portal training session. It was a four day week for me so busy  was good. I was excited to head to DC on Friday with Anne and Rene.

I ran home Thursday to do a quick load of laundry, prep the cats and throw some clothes in a suitcase. I could get used to these quick trips that don’t require much prep. We were also leaving late enough that I didn’t have to rush on Friday morning – added bonus. I had made sammies and cookies for us to eat on the plane and the flight attendant showered us with snacks when I shared a cookie with her so we had plenty of walking around treats for DC.

I was impressed while we were still in the air, seeing the monuments from the plane window. We had free shuttle service to the hotel then took the metro to King Street in Alexandria in search of a yarn shop, of course, and dinner. Fiber Space was a lovely yarn shop and I bought 2 pretty skeins of sock yarn. Aren’t you proud that I only bought 2? I was. We walked the full length of King Street and had a delicious dinner at an Irish pub. It was a nice start and was only going to get better.

My intent was to get up early and see if we could get tickets to the Holocaust Memorial but Anne beat me to it, scoring us tickets for 11:00. Rene didn’t want to go so after a hearty (free) breakfast at the hotel, we took the metro to the mall and split up. Rene headed to Air & Space and with an hour to kill, Anne and I watched the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade then headed to the holocaust museum. It was sobering for sure and I’m glad we went but I was ready for something lighter. We hadn’t intended to go to the actual festival but two girls on the metro had sung its praises so we headed there. We should have given it more thought but didn’t, paying $10 each to get in only to be faced with a mob scene. After snaking our way between throngs of people, passing booths with 40-50 people in line for food we couldn’t even see, we made a beeline to the closest exit and got out of dodge. Big relief! We were starving so asked a local where to eat and enjoyed a late lunch of yummy food in a brew pub.

Now what to do? It was almost 4:00 so we decided to head to the National Botanic Garden’s conservatory next to the capital. We grabbed a bus that was headed right there, passing by the Supreme Court, Library of Congress and the Capital on the way. We did a quick walk through before the glass houses closed and then relaxed on benches out front. Anne and I were knitting, of course. After half an hour or so, Anne mentioned that there was a ranger tour starting at 6:00 at the Lincoln Memorial so we grabbed a cab and headed right over, arriving right on time. It was a small group of 8-10 including us and we had a wonderful ranger who took us from memorial to memorial – Lincoln to Korean War to Vietnam. He was a font of information and when we were done at Vietnam (my favorite), he asked if anyone wanted to do an extra – World War II. We were in so walked there as the sun was setting. It was a wonderful tour and we got so much more out of it having an expert to explain everything and answer questions. If you ever got to DC, check out the ranger lead tours for sure.

Rene realized half way through the tour that she’d left her jacket on the bench at the botanic garden so despite it being hours ago, we detoured that way on the way to the hotel. What do you know – the jacket was still there and someone had even draped it over the back of the bench. I know there are some gnarly parts of DC but the area around the mall is pristine with secret service patrolling so I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised. But we were none the less. The cab dropped us back at the hotel and we bought pints of ice cream in the hotel lobby for dinner. We’d walked 19,700 steps that day, which equated to 7.5 miles. We were beat and slept like rocks.

Our plan for Sunday  was the American History Museum, which was the one we all wanted to see. We went there right after breakfast and spent all morning there, grabbing lunch in the cafeteria when we were done. The museums are all free but the food costs a fortune. $17 for a hotdog, collards and dessert. Oh well. Our next mission was the ranger tour of the rest of the monuments – MLK, FDR and Jefferson but that wasn’t until 4:00 so we walked toward The White House and then grabbed a cab to Dupont Circle for another yarn shop – Looped. Just 2 more skeins of sock yarn and another for mittens. Not bad for vacation yarn shopping. We grabbed another cab and got to Martin Luther King right on time. There was only 1 other man besides us so we had the ranger practically to ourselves. Did I mention the weather was absolute perfection for the 2nd day in a row? We finished the tour after 6:00 and grabbed yet another cab back to the hotel, having him drop us at the mall by our hotel. We had hoped to grab a burger to go at Shake Shack but it and everything else in the mall was closed so we got take out from Chevy’s across the street. Our plan was to be back at the hotel by 8:00 to watch Sunday night PBS – Call the Midwife and Grantchester. We were so disappointed to find Austin City Limits so steamed something on Shelter (a Jennifer Connelly movie about a homeless addict in NYC) on Netflix. It was a full and satisfying day. 17,000+ steps so we were ready for bed. We’d be leaving the next day but had made the most of our time, don’t you think?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Week 15 - On the Upswing

It was another interesting week at work. Between the asbestos abatement going on as part of the remodel down the hall and the repercussions from last week’s drama, it was something new every day. And I didn’t go into the week in top form, having only gotten about 4 hours of sleep. But since I’d packed for power pump before bed on Sunday I still went when the stove timer woke me up at 5:15. And of course it was the week the instructor decided to change things up and use exercise balls, which are not my forte. While I didn’t take anyone out with a flying ball like the last time I used them, I did struggle at every turn and at one point was just lying on the floor laughing hysterically. That should have been a clue to how the week would go.

And to continue my ever graceful week, I was walking down the hallway Tuesday afternoon, tripped on the hose the asbestos guys had taped across the floor and despite a comical, I’m sure, pinwheeling of arms for what seemed like ages, fell on my ass in the middle of the hallway. The “almost saved myself but no quite” pinwheeling mean that I was only a foot above the floor when I fell so I knew I was OK. My only concern was my shoulder, which I’d jammed when I instinctively put my arm out to catch myself, but after an extra meloxicam at home, I was fine. Just a bit stiff on Wednesday.

Over the course of the week, things transpired at work so that by the end of the week Randy and Josh were moving out of our office and we were posting a job for a new data analyst. So while I hated crying in front of my boss last week, it seemed to be a wake up call of sorts and things are a changin’. While change is not easy, at least it feels like progress in the right direction so I’m calling it good. 

My diet was not going in a good direction. I went to Aldi hungry one night and spent $107, which is pretty amazing for Aldi. Unfortunately I bought some things I just couldn’t resist eating and it went downhill from there. It became a battle of trying to be good but failing and so eating WAY too much. After the totally not filling 290 calorie broth bowl at Panera on Friday, I was chowing down caramel corn and chocolate covered almonds. That was followed by more than a couple jam tarts at the French Week event Cindy and I went to instead of swimming on Friday. The movie was awful (Louise l’Insoumise – a wretched 80’s movie that was 2 hours of a mother abusing one of her daughters) so I ate more jam tarts afterwards then went home to snack my way through my kitchen. I vowed to be better on the weekend but by Saturday afternoon there was no point. I was eating more while failing to be good than if I just gave up and ate like a normal person. So that’s what I did. I’ll do another rotation when I’m back from DC. 

At least I was getting things done elsewhere. On the knitting front, I’ve been rocking the sandals and socks thing so was happy to finish a pair of socks that perfectly matched a new blouse I’d bought. I wore the new combo happily on Thursday. I also fixed the socks I’d made for Shannon that were too big and dropped them at her husband’s office on Friday. With those done, I cast on some monster socks, which always make me happy. I actually got a few other things off my to do list too – taxes finally filed and finished up a few projects from the previous week. Shannon and Cody came to dig perennials on Sunday so I spent the day outside, getting most of the raking done, filling in the holes they’d left with sifted compost and prepping 1 veg bed for early planting. Now for some rain to soften up the soil.

So after a shaky start, life was looking up by the end of the week and I was heading into a short work week with my DC trip at the end. Add the gorgeous spring blooms everywhere on campus and just starting at home plus finally getting outside to start some gardening and I was a happy camper. I hope you’re enjoying your spring too.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Week 14 - A Bumpy Week

This week was all about the weekend. The work week was dragging as I plugged away at the follow up on last week’s big to do list. It was progress but plodding so the days weren’t exactly flying by. I was looking forward to Friday, which was the first of the month so would be chock full with reporting and would end with a brownie sundae mini food day at 3:00 and the Chancellor’s final Perl of Wisdom and State of the University at 4:00. So Friday was going to be a good day. Or not…. 

Without going into gory detail, let’s just say I had a super frustrating morning and ended up in tears in my boss’ office after lunch. Now I hate crying, never mind in front of my boss, so retreated to the conference room to clean before our ice cream event and things got better from there. Everyone seemed to enjoy the ice cream (yes, I ate some so blew some calories – oh well) and then rather than streaming the chancellor’s event, I grabbed Cindy and we walked over to The Lied to see it in person. It was lots of fun and got over just after 5:00. I had planned to swim but was considering skipping when Layton asked for a ride to his car, which would put me right by the pool. So despite being 15 minutes late, I swam and it was a good decision. All exercised and showered, I was ready for my weekend at home. 

Let me just say here, that adding fat to my rotations was a complete success. After a week I’d lost 8 pounds, which was right in line with my usual starving all the time 600/900 weeks. But this time I was NEVER hungry and had enjoyed snacks of pistachios, salads with olive oil dressing and olives or avocados all the time. Nice. 

On another health note, I had been feeling light headed of late so went to the doctor, who ordered blood tests. Everything came back fine so I'm chalking it up to not enough calories or sleep. The kicker is that when I asked them to run a lipid panel, all my cholesterol numbers were worse! Seriously? The last time I had my blood work done (June), my numbers were great, which made sense since I'd been rotating for 4 months at that point. But why are they up again? Not horrible mind you but clearly going in the wrong direction. Sometimes life just isn't fair. : (

Back to my weekend. I was thrilled to have absolutely no plans. I felt like I’d been doing the bare minimum since getting back from Florida and it showed. EVERYWHERE. Amanda coming to dig hostas on Sunday was the only thing on my agenda so I was free to catch up on everything. I started on the desk, which was piled with paper and crap. I actually found an unopened birthday card (that was 2 months old) and a valentine. Nuts. I also found some missing paperwork so it was all good. I went through a huge stack of newspapers, read what I needed to (not much) and added it all to the recycle bin. That felt huge and went a long way towards feeling less behind on things. I also got all my knitting (yarn and projects) photographed and updated online. Yay! 

With the paper all tackled, I had Sunday for chores and cooking. I spent a chunk of time on the phone with friends and when Amanda called to postpone, my only commitment was gone. It was actually hot outside (84 – broke another record) but I went outside and pruned all my roses and cut back the sweet autumn clematis, all of which went into the trash and to the curb. I ended the day making pork roast, curried cauliflower and a big pan of sautéd zucchini so would have food for the week. After my weekend at home, I was fully recovered and feeling back on track. Now for some spring weather at times when I can work outside please. While I wait for that (hopefully not too long), here’s a springy pic of the primroses I put in the ground last fall. Have I mentioned how much I love spring? Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Week 13 - Happy in Spring

It was spring break week at UNL so with no swimming and another hour of daylight, I had high hopes to get outside after work. And with a podiatrist appointment at 9:00 on Monday and no power pump either, I got to sleep in on Monday. Now that’s a nice start to a week, especially when my Mondays are such long days with knitting after work. The weather was spectacular but knitting prevailed.

The weather was nice Tuesday too but I had the rescheduled knitting at Anne’s with Kate after work so enjoyed a lovely night of lasagna, knitting and chatting. Unfortunately the weather turned cold that night so working outside was off the list for the rest of the week. Bummer but I had to keep telling myself it’s only March.

The work week was fine. I had training both Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and both were in alternate rooms I’d never trained in because our training room was down for the count during the Payroll/AP remodel. Both rooms had challenges but I did manage some modified training so felt good about that. I was also the answer woman on Friday, doing a project that made my boss happy and another dig into ancient data files for one of the accountants, who thanked me in front of the boss. Golden, right?

On the diet front, I was preparing for another rotation but this one with added fat. I’d decided to stick with my regular rotation menus but add fat because what can you take away from a 600 calorie day and not keel over? So after a stock up at Aldi on Wednesday, I was ready to start a rotation on Thursday morning. With all the emphasis on fat I was short in the produce department but cobbled together a salad with grilled steak, homemade oil/vinegar salad dressing and a small avocado. Well, I ate the salad, which tasted like heaven with the added dressing, at 12:30 on Thursday and at 6:30 that night was still not hungry. I had to force myself to eat my swordfish and veg dinner only because I didn’t want to wake up starving in the wee hours. So, with the added fat completely stopping my hunger, it was now a matter of seeing if I would still lose weight.

Besides the lack of hunger, Thursday evening was particularly nice. I had just hung up with Andrea to let her know I’d be dropping something at the office on the way home when my radio station had a contest. I figured what the heck so called and won. It’s a $50 gift card to Defy Gravity, which I’ll never use but can donate to the library for a summer reading program prize. Then I stopped at the farm store in Wahoo in hopes of finding some of the Science Diet I’ve been feeding my cats for years that has been discontinued. Not only did I find 2 bags but they were $5 off. Nice to have a couple of months more on their regular food before I have to find something else. Then I got home to find 3 packages, which is always fun. I got some orange sandals I’d ordered (I tried some on in Florida but they didn’t have my size so when I found orange ones on clearance, I had to order them), a box of yarn from ebay (total score) and an herbal supplement for sleep that Carolyn had recommended. Adding that it was too cold to be outside so I could have fun knitting and watching TV with no guilt was the icing on the cake. Yay!

Saturday was the annual gardening conference in Council Bluffs, Iowa that I go to every year with 3 other master gardeners. I had purposely tried to choose different sessions topics/speakers than I normally do and so enjoyed learning some new things. The diet was out the windorw though. I ate the bag lunch that was included and had 2 hours of eating veggies in my last session, which was from one of my favorite speakers – Elaine Fenner. She’s a magician with veggies. It was a long but satisfying day and I had Sunday yet for productivity.

I started Sunday with a weigh in and was thrilled to see that I’d lost 6 pounds in 3 days of my rotation menus + fat. Now a bunch of that was water I’m sure but still. I then went on to slam through all the chores for the week. It was Easter but that’s a non-event for me. I usually try to spend it outside but with a weekend’s worth of chores to get done (and the cleaning lady was coming Tuesday so they had to be done), I didn’t have time. I did enjoy hanging out the laundry and managed to sneak in some yarn dyeing that came out exactly how I wanted (I was aiming for the color of red maples about to burst their buds - so a combo of the gray trunks and bright maroon buds) but the rest of the day was all inside. I spent the evening prepping all the produce in my fridge, ending with all kinds of healthy things to eat all week and 2 big bags of scraps for Lori’s chickens. All in all, it was a good end to a fun week and again, it’s still only March. I’ll get outside to garden in April. I do love spring. Enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 12 - Fun Full Saturday

So I started the week on moral high ground, getting up at o’dark thirty to go to Power Pump despite the time change. The boys both called in sick so it was quiet in the office but I had more data to pull (more from Friday’s request) first thing and again at the end of the day. I didn’t get to leave early so was rushed but it was a pleasant time, as always, knitting with friends.

There was a thunderstorm at 1:30 Tuesday morning that woke me up then my coffee pot went off at 2:30 (the clock display is hosed so resetting for the time change is always a challenge) so I got up to make my thermos so it would be hot for work. Needless to say, I was tired when the alarm went off at 5:50. I dropped my carload of donations at Goodwill over lunch and then went right home to cook noodles and broccoli to go with the stroganoff I’d made Sunday. Yum!

I had some drama on Wednesday night when I got home from swimming. I came home to find Wrennie, my skin and bones ancient kitty, covered with bloody spit and clawing at her mouth with her tongue hanging out. I couldn't see anything when I yanked her jaw open and I had no idea what to do. The act of opening her mouth must have fixed somthing though because she calmed down, slept and cleaned up her 3 icky feet. Then she wanted food. Thursday morning it's like it never happened. I wonder if she was losing a tooth or something? I thought I'd be taking her to the vet and probably putting her down. Big relief!

The rest of the week was same old same old – produce shopping at Fresh Thyme on Wednesday (love their ad overlap day!) and thrift shopping at lunch, without Dodie, on Thursday. I scored some nice yarn, which is always a treat. The week was over before I knew it.

I was double booked for Saturday. Despite having lunch plans with Andrea and Lori for their birthday, I couldn’t say no when Darla wanted to do breakfast. I met her at Cook’s Café for breakfast then we shopped at the nearby plaza – Big Lots, Joann’s and a brand new Tuesday Morning – until just before noon. After a quick stop at the market for ricotta, I headed to Wahoo. I just had time to drop my purchases before heading to Chips, where we had a nice lunch. The icing on the cake was the look of joy on Drae’s face when she opened the Victory Garden of Tomorrow chicken sign I’d bought her.

The weather was also worth mentioning. In the 2 hours we were at Chips, we saw it all – snow, both flurries and big flakes, sleet, hail and blazing sun. Luckily it was all done and just back to gloomy by the time we left but sheesh! Gotta love Nebraska weather.

My cousin Debbie called Saturday night. You could have knocked me over with a feather! She was calling to say she might be coming in May but we had a long catch up since we hadn’t talked in ages. What a nice end to a fun day.

Sunday was typical chores mostly. I did make a pan of lasagna to take to Anne’s on Tuesday night and a pie (strawberry/rhubarb) to take to knitting. It never got warm enough to work outside. The early time change screwed me up again this year. I want to be outside because it’s light late but it’s just not warm enough, despite the early spring this year. Oh well, maybe it will be next weekend. I live in hope.