Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 35 - A Normal Week

It was a normal week. At last! Campus was back in full swing, which meant swimming was back, and everything just felt normal.

Despite the normalcy, I was struggling with my diet. By mid-week I just wanted to take a break so ended up eating cheese and cracker with Guinness for supper on Wednesday and decided to take a couple of days off. It was a 1200 calorie week so I had more leeway than a 600/900 week but that still wasn’t enough. I had a pain au raisin on Thursday morning, which was a gift from my vice chancellor who knows I love them, but just eating part of one pastry on an empty stomach gave me a killer gut ache. Lunch was buff bowls with Dodie at Noodles (no cheat there) but I wasn’t sure if I should eat or not, deciding to eat, which was the right choice. All the spinach must have counteracted the sugar. I sealed the day with a KFC bowl after swimming (it was exactly what I wanted and delish!) and that was enough. I was back to eating clean on Friday. I still wasn’t into it but I only had another week to go and was still hoping to break 60 pounds so got back on track.

Lori, Andrea and I had plans on Saturday for shopping and lunch. I had hoped to sleep in a bit but was up at 5:30 so immediately got busy. I had bought lots of clothes at Goodwill’s 99 cent sale on Friday so started laundry and got the kitchen picked up. Before Carolyn and I talked ~8:00, I had 2 loads of laundry done, dishes washed and had eaten breakfast. Not bad. I had a Friends of the Library meeting at 9:30 then went home to get more done before Lori picked me up at noon. We went to Our Corner Cottage, where I bought yet more stocking stuffers, then went to Hoot & Sadie’s, where we waited for Andrea, who didn’t show. She’d driven by and not seen us (were we in the back room maybe?) so went right to the restaurant. We had a nice lunch (I got the healthiest thing on the menu, which was ribs with a salad instead of fries) and then Drae came in to help me figure out a knitting problem. Once she left, I got inspired and pulled all the weeds from the driveway cracks. There were a LOT. They were so tall I’d been mowing them. Sheesh! I left them to shrivel overnight and went inside just in time for dinner. What a nice day! It had the perfect mix of productivity and social stuff.

I was back in laundry mode on Sunday and talked to my sister and Connie between knitting and chores. I did a bunch of food prep for the week, completely cleaning out the refrigerator in the process. The shelves were a sticky mess so all came out and got washed in the sink. I already had a big bag of veg scraps for Lori’s chickens then added to it after the frig clean so I called Lori after dinner (steak and broccoli with a small serving of illicit tabbouleh) to see if I could drop the bag off since I didn’t want to put it back in my clean frig. After a quick stop there (the mosquitos were brutal so no hanging outside) I was home for the night. I almost filled my trash can with the driveway crap but pulled more beggar’s tick to fill it up then headed inside. I finished the problem mittens Andrea had helped me with and started neatizing for the cleaning lady, who comes Tuesday. It was the last night to sleep with the windows open so I took a shower and went to bed, happy with my progress.

I’m going into another travel week so was happy with the prep I’d done for the week. Once I finish cleaning lady prep, the house will be as good as it gets and I’ll be ready for Labor Day weekend in the Black Hills. You doing anything fun for the holiday? Have a good week.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Week 34 - Sharing with Friends

After my weekend of catching up from being away, I was looking forward to a normal week but a couple of things were different that thwarted my normal.

I had 3 sessions with the consultants on the space database first thing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’m an 8:15 kind of person on a good day and now I had to be across campus and ready to rock and roll by 8:00. To compound that, I was filling in for another cat feeder so had to feed 3 feeders, park in my lot (the downside to assigned parking is you can’t park in another lot if you have business elsewhere on campus) and walk to the far side of campus. All that had me leaving the house at a time I was usually still knitting in pajamas. That was HARD but I got it done. I was there most of the day Tuesday and mornings Wednesday and Thursday. We actually got out earlier than expected those two days, which was nice. Having a normal morning on Friday and nothing on my calendar felt like a treat.

The second was potentially a good thing – it was one of the 3 weeks of the year with no swimming (usually at the semester change.) This meant I could go right home every single night. Lovely. I had knitting as usual on Monday and enjoyed Tuesday evening but was feeling guilty by Wednesday. The weather was very fall like and I decided I had to take advantage of it so headed to my veg beds to plant some fall greens – Swiss chard, lettuce and spinach. When I was done with that, I started weeding in an effort to pull all the beggar’s tick (the weed with the pretty flower but obnoxious seeds that the cats bring in in their fur) before it flowers. I got a ton pulled in the back yard (hopefully all of it) before my stomach sent me inside for supper. That one night redeemed me so I could enjoy the rest of my evenings of going straight home. 

Monday was a banner day. Not only did I not have to be up at the crack of dawn but when I did get up I saw an email from Amazon that they were having a one day sale on Kindle HD6 for $69. Now I have an iPad but I bought it used years ago when a friend upgraded and it's so old that I can no longer download most apps, which has cramped my style on Amazon and Hulu streaming. It still does Netflix but those days are probably numbered. I didn't take much thought to decide I should get the Kindle. I got the base model at $69 and then found a cute, orange case on ebay for $6, which beat the lowest priced one on Amazon for $29. So for $75, I was up and running on all my streaming platforms. I had it in hand on Wednesday and it came pre-linked to my Amazon account. Yay!

Monday night was the big yarn share at knitting. I had given out a few single skeins two weeks earlier but didn’t have the missing bag of yarn at that time so waited for the big handout. I had a tote full of skeins, all sorted by colorway, to share. Everyone seemed pretty happy to get the yarn and I was happy to get rid of it. I’d kept nearly 50 lots from the Craig’s List haul and still had scads to share with friends. Isn’t life grand?

Monday was also the official start of our WIP contest. We'd done this last year when the library flooded and we were meeting in the Vets' Club. How it works is we have a start date and anything on the needles that day counts. For each item you finish, you bring in a prize for the prize bag and you get an entry. At the end of the contest, we pick names and you get to chose a prize from the bag for each item you finished. We all get to finish old projects, get rid of knitting things we don't want and leave with new knitting things. Win, win, win! I had organized my WIPs in anticipation of the contest and by the end of the week, I had already finished 3. Yay!

Speaking of sharing, Lori had asked me if I wanted any cucumbers from her garden and since I had opened my last jar of homemade sweet relish recently, I said yes. It’s impossible to find commercial sweet relish without high fructose corn syrup and I like relish on the rare hotdog I eat so I’ve been making my own for years. Lori was going to be in town Saturday and dropped some cukes mid-afternoon so I got chopping. Making relish is a long, drawn out affair because I chop everything by hand (I like consistent chunks), then soak it for 2 hours before you can even think of cooking it down. I made a batch and a half and finished cooking it after 10:00 Saturday night. It only made 5 jars, 2 of which I shared with Andrea and Lorri (2 R’s so not the same one) when they stopped by Sunday. Andrea brought me a little leek pie when she dropped off chicken litter for my compost pile and Lorri shared some tomatoes and onions from her garden. It is good to have friends! Lori would get her jar at knitting on Monday.

Besides the relish, I had a pleasant weekend doing chores and knitting. I was ready for the work week with a frig full of food and completely recovered from my travels. The fall like weather was holding and I was thoroughly enjoying that. The heat will probably be back but in the meantime the AC was off and I was happy. Fall will be here soon enough and the students were already flocking back to campus. I do love the seasons and working in academia reinforces that. Enjoy everyone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Week 33 - Home from Denver

I woke up way earlier than Amanda and Rene so after waiting awhile, I got dressed and walked to Starbuck’s for a coffee. I enjoyed that while knitting/streaming until they woke up. We packed in minutes, checked out and headed to the Denver Botanic Garden, eating granola bars in the car and calling it breakfast. The gardens were beautiful and the weather was perfect. We strolled around, enjoying it all until our stomachs complained so we had an early lunch in the café overlooking the water lily pool. More perfection. After a stop in the gift shop, we headed to the airport. We returned the car and then had an hour to kill so I taught Amanda to knit while we sat at the gate. She took to it immediately and the time flew, as it often does while knitting. It was another uneventful flight and I walked into my house just before 8:00 pm.

It was a wonderful trip and we had been discussing where to go next before we even got home. In that discussion, Amanda and I realized that we were both going to The Black Hills for Labor Day weekend. Since I was leery of driving my car so far through such unpopulated, no cell reception territory, Amanda offered to car pool. Eureka! I will be taking half a vacation day to meet her after lunch at her house and we’ll drive up together. She’s excited to have an adult to talk to (her 5 year old will be in the back seat) and to share gas expense. I’m excited to not have to drive, which means I can knit the whole time. And since Connie will have to drive to Hot Springs to pick me up, we decided to stay there Friday night so we can explore the southern hills on Saturday before heading to Spearfish. It all works out nicely. Life is good!

Since all I’d worn in Colorado was play clothes and I had just enough undies to make it through the work week, I opted not to do laundry when I got home Monday night. I was feeling great post-trip and was super productive at work and even ran errands over lunches, getting an oil change on Tuesday and scoring some new clothes at my thrifts on Wednesday. Wednesday I ran more errands on the way home then did a long overdue mow and so it was clear sailing to the weekend when I could do my laundry and catch up on everything that was behind from being away. The weather had even continued to be nice so I didn’t have to turn on the AC until Thursday night. And it wouldn’t be on for long because it was going to cool down again on the weekend. Yay!

I barely left the house on the weekend, staying inside and actually enjoying catching up on things. While I love to travel, no matter how fun the trip is, it’s always good to get home. And I was more than ready to start my next rotation, which I did on Saturday instead of waiting until Monday. I had gained some weight, both water and fat, in Denver so had that to lose and was just wanting to be eating clean again. I felt better immediately and looked forward to losing more weight. What a great week! Starting on vacation with friends and ending on a healthy note were the bookends of my week. : )

Week 32 - Fun in Denver

The week started with fiscal year end and finished with Denver. It feels like that could be the whole post but I’d guess you want details so here goes.

Fiscal year end was in full swing but I’d done so much prep work in the previous ten days that my to do list was not too bad by Monday. I was there for whatever Mary needed but it wasn’t too stressful. I was even able to take lunches so went out Monday and tracked down all the new Lay’s flavors so we could have a taste test at knitting. The flavors were all over the board and different people liked different ones. Erica and I like Rueben (but I’d still prefer a plain Lay’s) and Jan couldn’t put down the Biscuits and Gravy. The Truffle Fries were disappointing and the Gyros were just disgusting. I brought the leftovers to work and it was about the same. After sitting in the office for more than a week, the Gyros got thrown out.

On Tuesday night, Lori brought me the errant bag of sock yarn that she’d picked up in Omaha so we had fun sorting all that. She took a couple of bags of yarn and I’d already taken what I wanted but I still had a tote full of yarn to share. All good, right?

I did a single load of laundry when I got home on Thursday, threw the resulting clean clothes in a book bag and I was ready for Denver when I left for work on Friday, which flew by. I was pretty excited, despite finding out that Frontier charges for carry ons! $40 each way for each person! Total rip off. Anyway, I called Amanda and asked if she had a suitcase that Rene and I could combine our stuff into because that only cost $20 each way to check. She had one so we quickly repacked at her house and headed to Omaha.

The flight was uneventful (can’t ask for more these days) and we got our car and drove to the hotel, which was right downtown and just a block and a half from the 1th Street pedestrian mall. It was pretty late but we were starving so the bellhop at the hotel sent us to the 5280 Burger Bar. We didn’t eat until almost 11:00 but it was so dry and cool that we sat outside. I got the Southern Bell with housemade pimento cheese and pecan smoked bacon with fries and a Guinness. Yum! If the rest of the trip went as well, we were in for a fun time. 

After a too short night of sleep, which had me sharing a bed with Rene but that worked out fine, we were up and ready for the day. Our waitress the night before was British so we’d been talking about full English breakfasts so while they showered, I googled and found a pub that wasn’t too far away that served the real deal breakfast and had good reviews. We set out walking and found the pub in full swing, full of drunken soccer fans because it was the first day of the soccer season and they’d opened in the wee hours. We sat at the last table and enjoyed an excellent breakfast. Rene is a soccer fan so she was in her element, even drinking a shot another fan bought for her. The girl at the next table was screaming at the TV so loudly that I could feel it in my sinuses. Not exaggerating here. After a bit, Amanda and I went to sit outside to get some peace and quiet. Rene came out eventually and we headed to a yarn shop I’d looked up online. It was quite a walk but oh so pleasant. I should mention here that I’d forgotten to take my meds so my knee was none too happy at this point. We had to wait for the shop to open and then it was quirky so I made a pity purchase of some alpaca and off we went.

Right around the corner was a pot shop and we just had to check it out. It was called Euflora and you went down a flight of stairs off the main mall to a set of smoked glass doors. When they opened it was like walking onto a movie set. It was a bright store with sleek fixtures and an ultra modern vibe. You had to show a license to get in and there were tables around the center with jars of pot with explanations and statistics on each one. There were free standing towers full of edibles and paraphernalia was in recessed, well lit cubbies in one wall. The t-shirts and souvenirs were at the back. The clientele was a complete mix. There were no stoner types that I could see and the rest ran the gamut from young professionals to a hippie grandma and grandpa with the college age grandkids. Too funny! They all had scanners so scanned what they wanted to buy then went to the register to pay and get their goodies. There were helpful people walking around asking if you needed help with anything. I was floored by how mainstream it all was. And considering how many people were in there on a Saturday morning, I’ve got to say that Colorado has a gold mine on their hands. Nebraska will be the last state to legalize pot and so will miss out on all the tax revenue. Figures.

We took the 16th Street shuttle to the far end and then walked to another yarn shop. It was even quirkier than the last (seeing a trend here?) and I bought a little wallet but no yarn. We still weren’t hungry after our big breakfast so I opted to go back to the hotel for my meds while Amanda and Rene went shopping for water shoes for Amanda for the next day. When they got back, we headed out for a snack. Our hotel was perfectly located to everything fun downtown so we found a Mexican restaurant and enjoyed nachos in the bar. Amanda and Rene were flagging at this point so we went back to the hotel where they took a nap and I knitted while streaming Netflix. No matter how tired I am, I am not a napper. By the time they woke up, we were all starving so googled pizza and ended up at Lucky Pie, just a few shuttle stops away. It was another amazing meal. We just could not go wrong in Denver. I ended with fresh donut holes with espresso crème anglaise. Heaven! We walked back along the mall, enjoying the dry weather and festive crowds. We didn’t stay out too late because the next day was white water rafting so we needed our beauty rest.

We got up early and headed to Estes Park in our rental car, stopping along the way for a hearty breakfast in Boulder since we’d be busy at lunch time. We got on a school bus (hadn’t been on one of them in I don’t know how long) in Estes only to be driven 90 minutes to the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins. At least I got a bunch of knitting done. After suiting up with helmets and life jackets in a state park, they gave us a safety talk and off we went to the river. Our guide was Leo, who sat in the back and Rene and Amanda offered to be the lead paddlers in the front. I was in the middle of the boat next to a little girl who wasn’t paddling. I assured her no one would be going overboard from our raft. Can you see where this is going?

We were on the river for about 2 hours totally and had made it through the biggest rapids (level 3) plus had stopped to jump off of a rock and swim, which I’d declined since I didn’t want to get wet it being a bit chilly. We got back in our boats for the last bit of the trip when Leo asked if we wanted to go through the last rapids straight of spinning. “Spinning!” everyone shouted. When we went spinning into a spot between huge rocks, my side of the boat went under but when we hit the second rock, Rene got pitched back in. I wasn’t so lucky so was tumbling around in the rapids before popping up 20 feet away from the boat. I swam over, took the oar someone stretched out towards me and Leo grabbed my life jacket and pulled me in like I weighed nothing. I was fine through this all (chalk that up to being completely comfortable in water having grown up in The Ocean State) but he started through his check list – Are you OK? Do you need immediate medical attention? Did you swallow any water? (what’s that last one about?) I must have answered them all correctly because he settled me back on the gunwale and headed back down the river. I have to take Rene and Amanda’s word that they were frantic once I went in because by the time I was back in the boat, they were pissing themselves laughing. The only casualty was one of my diamond earrings. I’ll call it a sacrifice to the river gods. Considering all the rocks I could have hit, I consider myself lucky. And it’s a good story, right? Here's a pic of me and my savior.

Amanda’s boyfriend sent a classic text during our ride back to Estes – “I’m glad you had fun and that Marilyn didn’t die.” In celebration of my escape from death, we decided we deserved a fabulous meal so headed to the Stanley Hotel (of The Shining fame) for dinner. We checked first to make sure there was no dress code because although we’d changed back into street clothes once we got off the bus, we were just in shorts and t-shirts. We weren’t underdressed at all in the bar and had an amazing meal, complete with appetizers, dinner, dessert (Amanda eats that first) and, of course, Guinness for Amanda and me. It was so much fun. We explored a bit afterwards but most of the hotel is off limits except for guests. With full bellies, we drove back to Denver, happy with our rafting and dining adventures. It was a great last night. Stay tuned for our last day’s fun.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Week 31 - Shrinking and Yarn

It was the first week of the busiest two weeks of my work year – fiscal year end closing meetings. As usual, it coincided with the fair so I was plenty busy. Then add the social obligations I foolishly made and it was jam packed. But it all worked out fine plus there were a couple of bright spots.

Last summer, Carolyn said that sometimes it took time for your body to catch up when you were losing weight. Clearly that has happened to me. My weight loss has been steady but the last rotation was hard and I didn’t lose as much weight as I usually do. I had hoped to break 60 pounds by the end of the rotation but was stuck at 57. Still, my body seemed to be shrinking. All of a sudden, even my smaller pants were too big and so I went to the spare room in search of a pair of size 22 jeans I’d bought and set aside. Lo and behold, they fit! I pulled a pair of size 20 capris out and they were snug but were wearable. Eureka! Did I mention that I started at a size 28? I am very happy my new, thinner self.

Did I mention how full my week was? I had knitting on Monday, 4H fair check ins on Tuesday night, after which I mowed since I hadn’t on the weekend, and then I worked until almost 10:00 running reports from home. Since I’d had no down time all day, I struggled to fall asleep and was up in the wee hours, hungry but determined not to snack. After work Wednesday was a movie that I desperately tried to get out of but since I’d promised not to cancel when I’d rescheduled from last week, I had to go. It was Mr. Holmes, which I wanted to see but it was a slow start so I was fighting sleep. It did eventually hook me but was a hard movie to watch (Sherlock a doddering old man? No thank you!) and then dinner afterwards was a rushed buff bowl at Noodles because Nancy had somewhere to be. At least that left me time to go check out my ribbons at the fair. I’d won best of lot with some socks and mostly blues on everything else. Nice.

I was up in the wee hours again and was so wide awake that I ran some reports Mary had requested at 2:00 a.m. I scored some brownie points on that move but was exhausted the next day. The day was full then after swimming we went out to Mellow Mushroom with Jessica’s mom, who wanted to meet us all. It was lots of fun and only one more day to go. Friday flew by and I happily went home for the weekend with big plans to be productive. I was tired and not as productive as I’d planned on Saturday but I did manage to finish everything I’d left half done from the previous weekend. I guess that’s something.

While I was procrastinating chores on Saturday, I went on to Craig’s List, something I rarely do, and found a woman in Omaha with some yarn to sell. I was willing to check it out when I was planning to do an Omaha run on Saturday but when that didn’t work out, I asked if she had any sock yarn to see if it was worth making a special trip. When she said she had a tote full, I made plans to go after knitting at Lori’s on Sunday afternoon. I loaded up the car with Goodwill donations (cross that off) and food for the chickens and headed to Lori’s. We had fun knitting in the AC and then I headed to Omaha.

OMG! When Vicki opened the door, there was a 20 gallon tote brimming over with good quality sock yarn and trash bags of yarn all over her living room. I went through all of the bags, which had been her dad’s, and came up with 2 trash bags to add to the tote. Long story short, I got it all for $80. She asked me for $40 but that just wasn’t enough. Unfortunately she helped me take the bags out to the car and picked up the wrong one, which I didn’t realize until I got home. Even so, I had 2 huge lots of yarn to go through and spent my Sunday evening happily sorting yarn. And Lori was willing to pick the other bag after work one night so I wouldn’t have to drive to Omaha again. Here’s a pic of about 1/3 of the total score. Great way to end a stressful week, am I right? I’ve got plenty to share and more than I could ever need. Hopefully the yarn high will take me through the next week, which is the 2nd half of the closing meetings and Nora’s on vacation so it’s all me. Wish me luck.