Monday, December 10, 2012

Back on the Horse


I am back in the Primal saddle. It's true. After starving myself on HCG for a month and losing 15+ lb, I looked great. It lasted 6 months, then I gained all the weight back plus a couple of pounds. Last weekend sometime, I became mad at myself for "letting go" and hoovering so much crap into my mouth. Cake, waffles, pancakes, cupcakes... About once a day I was eating some sort of bread and/or dairy product. This resulted in (TMI ALERT) nearly-instantaneous stomachaches and subsequent diarrhea. I know. Weird. Most people who have food issues may not get hit so quickly, but I have some sort of Instant Karma Alert.  Usually within about 20 minutes of me choosing to eat something 'bad', I'll start feeling it & start thinking about looking for a bathroom.

I knew the GE-sponsored Christmas party was coming up at the Museum of Flight this last week, and so I dug in. I started keeping a food diary with the goal of "Today, I will not get a stomachache", which really means: "Today, I will not eat bread or dairy".

The last straw came when I went to put on my Navy ball dress from April for the Christmas party, and ... it wouldn't zip at the top. UGH! I don't mind saying that I cried for a couple of minutes because I was so pissed at myself. But, crying never got anyone anything except red eyes and maybe a free taxi ride, so I got out of the dress and into my gym clothes and went to go lift with my friends.

And I probably had a much better time at the gym than I would have wobbling around in heels at the Museum, trying to avoid hors d'ouevres wrapped in crusty delicious evil bread.

So far, I've lost two pounds, probably mostly deflating from the bread inflammation. Last night, we had takeout Chinese food, so I think the inflammation is back for a bit.

The other day, I also discovered that dairy and/or coffee are stomach-triggers for me. I made a mocha with one shot of espresso, a cup of steamed half-and-half, a tablespoon of Dutch cocoa powder from Penzey's, and a tablespoon of sugar.  A timer could have gone off at 20 minutes - ding! Off to the loo.  I still have one possible ace in the hole, though - Teeccino + coconut milk.  Teeccino also has some fun holiday flavors - some are better than others. I love the Hazelnut and the Vanilla, but the Raspberry Chocolate and Pumpkin Spice flavors taste artificial and cloying to me.

As far as calorie analysis goes - for those who care - I seem to average about 2700-3000 calories a day, roughly 50% fat and the rest split between protein and carbs. Some days protein is higher than carbs, and some days it's the reverse.

I know there will be naysayers who will exclaim that You'll Never Lose Weight Like That.  But I believe that calories from cupcakes behave differently than calories from a ribeye and broccoli (which was my dinner after the gym on Anti-Party-Day), and that has seemed to serve me well.


In Unrelated News:

- I bought a loom. A Schacht Cricket rigid heddle loom, to be exact. I got it from the Fiber Gallery in Seattle, and weirdly I had $20 in store credit there, so I went for it and basically got it for MSRP ($170) minus the $20 store credit. I warped it on Sunday morning, and have been weaving a scarf successfully!

- Daniel and I are leaving soon for our Christmas pilgrimage to the South. He'll be in Texas most of the time, and I in Louisiana. I'll be telecommuting this next week, and then taking two weeks off for glorious vacation in a place where cracklin's are for sale in a hut on the side of the road, and I can wear shorts most of the time (and "cold" is 68 degrees F)!

- My sister and brother-in-law bought a house in Baltimore and are slowly coming up to speed on what home improvement / repair projects require in terms of skill and equipment.  I am trying to counsel them over the phone and help assess what they feel they can do themselves and what they should contract out. As I told my sister, "You are qualified to put people to sleep for heart surgery, and wake them up again. I think you can drill some holes in your drywall and install window blinds."

- Our friend Jessie is going to pick up her new adopted daughter in Thailand today! Congrats to their whole family on the new addition!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I keep getting asked: Mel, what are you cooking for Thanksgiving?

... Okay, so I got asked that like three times, but I thought it would be good reference to write down what my plans were.

I'm cooking for myself, Daniel, our friend Jeanelle, and possibly one to two drop-in's.  Flying to Louisiana is too far for a four-day weekend, and besides, I'm going home in a couple of weeks anyway.

Between the recipe trove that is Serious Eats & my Bon Appetit & Cook's Illustrated iPad subscriptions, I feel ready for anything.

... Oh, and my gym-mates all made fun of me for making a spreadsheet for my grocery list, cross-referenced to what sales various grocery stores in the area were having. BUT ... I got all my shopping done inside of three hours on Saturday morning, so THERE. Engineer OCD wins again.

The first thought was to what dishes I wanted to cook. Daniel enjoys turkey, so that was in.  I decided to roast some turkey parts in lieu of a whole bird, because turkeys just don't appear in small enough amounts, and I don't want to be eating the same turkey defrosted 6 months from now. I just don't like turkey meat enough to justify that.  I did consider buying a heritage breed turkey, but they are usually on the large side, and while I wholeheartedly support eating animals that lived outside as they were intended to eating delicious bugs & whatnot, I didn't want an extra 17 pounds of turkey clogging up the freezer till my next birthday.  So, I compromised with myself and bought a Diestel organic breast (which is almost three pounds and roughly the size of the chickens I buy from the farmer's market) and a couple of legs on Saturday from PCC here in Seattle (PCC is one of our co-ops in Seattle).  I also bought some chicken wings to assist me in making gravy.

I found a raw cranberry / apple relish (read: ground in food processor) recipe via Serious Eats.

For veggie sides, I am doing roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar and pancetta (which is available pre-cubed at Trader Joe's), and roasted sweet potatoes with bourbon & maple syrup (the location of the recipe eludes me at the moment, suffice to say it is not topped with marshmallows).  The Brussels sprouts are easy - cut them in half, cut off the little stem if you so choose, toss in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and any spices (sometimes I add smoked paprika), add your meat if you're doing that, and throw into a 400 degree oven till they're soft & have brown bits all over them.

I am still debating on rolls, but this recipe might have my back.  I'm not a huge bread person, but everyone else is.

Dressing is from the November Bon Appetit issue.  I bought a loaf of "stuffing bread" from Great Harvest bakery in Ballard.

And I am making a homemade pumpkin pie, using a roll-out crust from Trader Joe's that swept a Serious Eats taste test.  The pie recipe is a little fussy, but it's Cooks Illustrated, and they know what they're talking about.

Also, whipped cream in my whipped-cream-dispenser.

As a funny aside, my coworker recently rolled his chair over to my cubicle and asked what in the world green bean casserole was.  He had seen it on a list of suggested dishes for an office Thanksgiving potluck party, and, being Canadian and apparently never having been subject to this American staple, he was intrigued as to what this dish could possibly be.  As I described how people "traditionally" prepare the dish, his face changed from one of mild interest to one of distaste and vague horror. Canned fried onions? Canned soup? Out of season green beans? Yes, yes, double-yes.  I said I was sure a homemade version would be somewhat better, but as I pretty much dislike all the ingredients in a GBC, I told him I couldn't personally recommend making the effort of cooking one unless he was forced into it.


I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and can gather 'round with people you want to see for an extended afternoon! :)


I love my beauty and fashion blogs (funny, since I normally dress like a frumpy engineer), but this cracked me up: RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream.  2.5 oz for $18.  Or you could get a pint of Tropical Traditions coconut oil for $25.

In lieu of actually talking about anything today, I thought I'd post some links to blogs that I, as a weirdo human, thoroughly enjoy...

Beauty / Fashion Blogs:

- Tom & Lorenzo - like their tagline says, "Fabulous. And opinionated".  Hilarious celebrity fashion critique.

- The Beauty Department - has interesting little makeup tutorials.

- Lucky Right Now - coming straight out of Lucky magazine's website.

Paleo Blogs:

- The Clothes Make The Girl - Melissa Joulwan is someone who I can identify with on the front of personal issues with health, exercise and body imagery. And she is awesome and has published one cookbook with her husband, and they are working on cookbook #2.

- Whole9 - the folks who created the Whole30 just keep pounding out the information!

- Robb Wolf - I find his podcast entitled "The Paleo Solution" is expletive-filled, hilarious, and informative.

- Mark's Daily Apple - Mark Sisson wrote "The Primal Blueprint", and has lots of other good information on Primal living, as well as self-care and good advice on perhaps not going balls-to-the-wall all the time.

Other Blogs:

- Yarn Harlot - a Canadian knitting humor author and designer; if you knit and haven't heard of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, you should check her out!

- Serious Eats - delicious, objective food blog. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt works there now (previously he was at America's Test Kitchen)

- Dinosaur Comics ... Pure Hilarity.

... There. That should keep y'all busy for a while.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Autumnal Update

I seem to not be as committed to blogging as of late.

I have had two work trips recently - one to England in September, and one to Dayton, Ohio last week.  England was beautifully old, and blustery. Driving on the left was only mildly terrifying, and I was thankful my friend was there with me to yell, "CURRRRB!!! CURB CURB CURB!". (I only almost ran into one pedestrian).  The Skoda we rented had amazing fuel mileage; two 2.5 hour trips plus a week of significant driving, and only barely half the fuel tank was used.

Regarding Ohio... it was flat. And cold. But sunny, and the streets were well asphalted. (My friend here says it's because the high temperature swings in the midwest cause lots of potholes, so roads are repaired a lot more frequently out there than in, say, Seattle). I still was amazed at Dayton during Election Day - there was some serious saturation of political ads out there! One colleague noted that, during one commercial break, he counted 6 political ads - and it was really only three distinct ones, as they repeated each ad! I am also amazed that it can take four days to execute and attend a 1.5 day conference. Ah well. I found a nice steakhouse while I was out there.


I took my Evendim sweater with me to Ohio. I made some decent progress, and am into the body increases. I am going to modify the original pattern and convert the raglan decreases into set-in sleeves in the round (courtesy of Elizabeth Zimmerman), and then think about a V-neck versus other options. Or maybe a wide crew / boat-neck style might be nice.

I have come to realize I don't look good in raglans. Most people with broad shoulders (i.e. me) would be best suited to a different shoulder style, even though it is super-easy to knit.


I spun and have started knitting a pair of socks for Daniel. I bought a bump of Blue Moon Fiber Arts' 75% BFL / 25% Tussah silk from Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival in "Spruced" (that is a link to my stash so you can see the colorway). I spun a two ply yarn that ended up roughly fingering weight after plying and finishing via a warm-water bath. I am knitting the Monkeymen cuff-down pattern adaptation of Cookie A's Monkey sock.  Basically, for the men's version you cast on 80 stitches, which adds a pattern repeat, and replace the yarn-overs in the lace pattern with make-1's. Not too bad. The pattern is a little less pronounced in these socks, though - I'll have to knit a little farther before deciding whether I am happy with it, or want to go another direction.


In other news... Daniel is hunting for a civilian job, and getting straightened out with the Navy Reserves. I have faith he'll find something great, it is just weird for me to watch someone with a sizeable savings account not outwardly worry about getting employed immediately; I would be getting very twitchy!  I can only imagine he's enjoying his long vacation, though!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Batts in the Belfry

A couple of weeks ago, I ran off to my parents' house in Louisiana. Well, more of a long, pedantic flight from Seattle to Louisiana, but you get the idea. 

My sister was there for most of the time, and we spent our time painting our parents' master bedroom and the hallway in their house.  My mom would have never allowed the painting to commence if Pia were around, since she was small and very sensitive to odors, but we went forward. I actually started developing headaches from the low/no-VOC paints we used. I suspect this was due to lack of ventilation (the A/C was on) plus the fact that I am now used to not only using a respirator, but also painting in a much shorter span of time, not dragging it on for days on end.

In the evenings, once the air had cooled off a bit, we would head to the lake (for which the city is named) and walk around for a bit, chatting and watching the local wildlife.  Ducklings were in abundance while we were there.

It was a great trip, and I hope one day I can convince my entire family that Seattle is the place to be! Especially when my brother and sister were both suffering through prolonged power outages in Maryland these last few days, coupled with high heat and humidity. Eee!

L-R: Rosanne, me, and our mom

On an unrelated note, I am thinking about opening up a new Etsy shop for selling, or at least destashing, some handspun yarn and fiber.  As a consumer, I think the most fun purchases are spinning batts, or carded masses of fibers.  Even better if they include textural elements such as mohair curls and Angelina (glitz) fibers.  To that end, I made some batts over the weekend on my drum carder.

A lesson I learned was that my carder only seems to effectively handle a batt that weighs in the neighborhood of 25g.  Most batts sold on Etsy hit around the 100g mark, so I had to combine a few batches till I got sets of batts that weighed in at or close to 100g.

Another lesson I learned in the past was to have a scale. One time, I destashed some raw (beautiful) alpaca fleece, and I honestly thought there were 2 lb in the batch. Well, I got an angry email from the lady who purchased it, telling me I had shortchanged her by a pound. I ended up refunding her half her money, but the funny thing was that my asking price was still fair for one pound of fiber, and ridiculous for two pounds.  The reason I sold it was that I discovered I had a severe allergic reaction to processing unwashed alpaca fleece. I suspect it has to do with the lack of lanolin in the alpaca fibers, and when I would start to tear apart locks and card them, the dust would fly into the air, along with whatever plant pollens the alpaca had in their fur. That was not a fun night.

Well, now I have a scale and I also have a pricing scheme based on other sales of batts of artists I have bought from on Etsy - roughly $0.23 - $0.25 per gram of fiber.  The astute among you will notice that, if you are selling a 100g batt, the price will be around $25.

Without further ado, below are some pictures of batts that I carded over the weekend.


 This first batt has plenty of kid mohair curls and some green glitz, as well as kelly green tussah silk (you can see a chunk of it in the lower batt on the right side).  "Summer Garden"?

This second set of batts is actually based on some dark brown Shetland fiber I have had stashed away. I love the interplay of the brown, violets, plums,and the occasional shot of yellow.  "Violet Storm"?

This last one is a pink indulgence.  After the blending with some other batts, it's final form is more of a mess of roses in different colors. This batt is based on some Bluefaced Leicester dyed fiber I had stashed away. "Roses"?

I have enormous fun spontaneously blending batts together in our second bedroom. I even dragged in the iPhone dock Daniel got me for Christmas so I could listen to music.

I'll update when I finally list some of these items for sale on Etsy! Till then, I kind of just want to spin the batts myself! 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Sound of One Hand Ripping

I am facing a dilemma. Not moral or ethical, but yarn-related.

I knit up Evendim, wove in ends, sewed on buttons… only to fail in convincing myself that the sweater looked cute too-small (it didn’t), or that my sister would fit into the sweater (she would, but she wouldn’t appreciate the money I spent on materials or the time it took to knit).

So, I ripped out the collar. I ripped out the yoke. I ripped out the sleeves. I thought that would be enough, and I could salvage the body and pick up stitches at the bust and go back on my merry way.

Then I consulted Ysolda Teague’s “Little Red In The City”, as her measurement and fit-adjustment system resonated with me.

I made a spreadsheet with a cross-referenced diagram, because I am an engineer, if nothing else.

I discovered that I actually fit the size that was two sizes up from the size I had knit. And this is based on shoulder measurements. I could knit a smaller size for the bust and waist, though I’d be met with negative ease and would be picking forever at the sweater to get it to lay right. 

I looked at the cable and lace repeat for the waist. Oh, each 22 stitch repeat is 3.5” wide if gauge is met. I wanted an extra 2” of ease, but that eats over half a repeat and would mess up the overall look.

I relented and started calculating out yarn requirements.  It looks like I’d need an extra skein of yarn, which, as we all know, is dangerous and leads to Weird Stripes Where The Dyelots Converge (potentially).

OR… I could walk away from Evendim (for now), and start looking at a pattern that requires less yarn with a lesson well learned under my belt.

Plus, I usually don’t like to knit the same thing twice; I get bored.

I’m off to hunt on Ravelry…

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Smoothie for Dinner

We were invited to dinner last night in Capital Hill, and while it sounded delicious, I was feeling more like returning home after Oly-lifting. My lifts have been increasing consistently! Yeah! I am going to plot them out in Excel to show the Rolfer.

I got home and, while there were plenty of leftovers, I didn't really feel like anything warm. It's been fantastically warm for Seattle the last few days, and I have been making efforts to get outside and revel in the sunshine. I didn't really feel like turning on the grill, either, and I wasn't super hungry. So I decided to make a green smoothie. 

This wasn't necessarily a low-carb smoothie, but it was pretty darn tasty. 

Green Smoothie 

- 2 cups Swiss chard, chopped, lightly packed
- 2 cups spinach leaves, lightly packed
- 1 inch of ginger, chopped finely
- 1 cup coconut water (I used Zico unsweetened coconut water)
- 1/2 banana
- 2 small kiwis, peeled

Dump ingredients into a Vita-Mix and blend till smooth.

Some notes: 

- The kiwis were getting wrinkly in the fridge, so rather than see them in the compost, into the drink they went. 

-  I love my Vita-Mix. It really makes big leaves process down to a smooth texture. I can't say the same for any other blender. 

- All that volume filled about 2/3 of a pint mug I have sitting around from college. 

Of course you could change this up - don't want coconut water? Use tap water or coconut milk for more fat. Maybe you have some apple sitting around, or lemon juice to brighten things up? Go for it.

Yes, half a raw banana has about 14 g of carbohydrates. Two kiwis have about 18-20 g of carb. One cup of coconut water has about 9g of carbs. Get this - the four cups of greens have about 4-5g of carb, total.  So if you're really low-carb, consider going light on the fruit.

All that being said, I don't know many more ways in which you can drink 4 cups of greens and consider it a treat!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Finally, I've got pictures off my phone. However, for some strange reason when I open them on my desktop, they are oriented correctly, yet the blog chooses to display them incorrectly. Hmph! 

First up: I didn't know this color of azalea existed. I saw this in Oregon last weekend when we went to Taste of the Nation, which is like a fancy food show, except you buy a ticket to stuff your face and end child hunger. Yeah. I wonder what the restaurants do with the extra food no one eats? I hope they give it to a shelter or something - although who knows how much hungry people care about artisan salumi or a quintet of wild mushroom soups (which, oh my god, were so tasty).

We have Tang, Tang, Tang, and Tang. Yes, but do you have Tang?

Rotate your head and look at how cute we are. And how Daniel's not looking at the camera. I've got my "eatin' hair" - up and back, so as not to interfere with stuffing my face.
Here's some evidence of my gardening. This last weekend, I shoved 96 gallons of weeds into my yard waste container. How do I know it was 96 gallons? Because that's the size of my container, mm-hmm. I weeded several beds, dug them out, added horse-poop-compost from my friend Helen, and also a generous amount of organic fertilizer I made from the vegetable-Cascade-book guy.

In the picture below, you see some sad looking Calla lilies. I didn't know that's what they were (beyond having my suspicions about their leaf shape), till I found an old brittle plant tag stuffed behind an overgrown bunch of them.  I should take this time to mention that the amount of non-plant material I found in the yard was pretty stupendous. Taking honorable mentions are: the tip of a Sawz-All blade, a Lego, many feet of black plastic sheeting apparently used somehow as a controller or roots-don't-grow-past-here type of thing (this was pretty much everywhere I was digging), nails, bottle caps, and hundreds of rocks. There were so many rocks it was easier for me to start by shoveling off the rocks out of the beds and sacrificing that little bit of soil, before adding the compost back in and turning the beds over. Oh yeah, and Daniel and his friend found a vintage original Star Wars action figure in the ceiling of the rental unit as they drywalled it in. Score!

So, where was I... oh yes, Calla lilies. So there were several overgrown, overcrowded clumps behind the house. I left one clump, but the others I dug out, chopped up, and redistributed. Hopefully their turgor pressure will return!

Here's the side bed off the front of the house on our side. I planted a passionflower vine on the trellis, in the middle is a lilac bush, and on the right is a Nootka rose (a native, fragrant fuschia rose).

Here's a surprise from the former owners - a plum-colored iris that just started blooming against the back of the house. Gorgeous!

If you can tilt your head 90 degrees (ugh), you can see that the top of the Space Needle has been painted orange for it's 50th anniversary celebration of the World's Fair. Fun fact: the last time my dad was in Seattle, it was for the 1962 World's Fair. He was in college at the time.

Well, I need to figure out what the heck is wrong with these pictures. But first, I want to get back out in the sunshine and garden before the clouds return!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Round-Up

First off... Happy Mother's Day! Alternately, the greeting I gave my childless-by-choice friends: "Happy Choosing Not To Be A Mother...'s Day!"  Whatever your choice is, it's a beautiful, gorgeous day in Seattle.

I took an opportunity this afternoon to get a little sun reading The Herbal Kitchen, by Jerry Traunfeld (of Herbfarm fame), and promptly fell asleep in our new lounge chairs outside on the lawn in dappled shade.

Now, I'm turning to cooking. I've got one of the Original-Latin-Sass-Women, Tita Merello, on the iPod (this song is hilarious: Se Dice de Mi, but it's in Spanish... towards the end, she says, "If they think I'm crooked, they haven't seen me in my nightgown!"). and I've got bacon in the oven, and a load of broccoli on deck to roast next. I'm thinking of what to make with some ground beef (PS...a little late now, but Skagit River Ranch had ribeyes on sale today at the Ballard Farmer's Market - I scored and bought four!), and am mulling over incorporating some veggies into my burger patties.  I'm headed out to the grill, since the weather is so nice.

I was poking around Chowstalker for inspiration, and came across this crazy product: grain-free noodles. They look like they actually might not taste like ass! I can't say the same for those shirataki noodles pushed on me during the HCG diet.  Gag. Just use a vegetable or eat something else, people.

Back to the burgers... I am going to play with this recipe from TGI Paleo for turkey burgers , but of course using my fatty ground beef & maybe a couple of different vegetables. Basically, it sounds like you chop up a bunch of veggies, then stick them in the food processor till they are finely chopped, then mush them into your burgers. I believe TGI Paleo says that you can add up to 1/3 of bulk from veggies without the burgers falling apart... we'll see! If so, this is a great trick for shoving more veggies in.... well, I was going to say into kids, but really, nobody I know eats enough veggies!

Oh, and our new tenants are moving in next door today! My first instincts told me they seemed like nice folks, which is always a good thing. The guy is wearing a hilarious 80's red/white/blue terrycloth headband - how can you not appreciate that?!

And, finally, we've been working hard this weekend. Daniel's been busy installing new drywall in the basement bedroom's ceiling in the rental unit next door, and I filled our 96 gallon yard waste container yesterday with weeds and extra calla lily plants that I split off. I hope the smaller plants I split get turgor pressure back soon! They're sort of flopped over in the back right now... I also met an incredibly sweet older guy at a plant sale he was holding at his house (77th and 10th NW in  Ballard) - he holds one on Mother's Day weekend, and one on Father's Day weekend. The crazy thing is, he's blind, but he is just a font of knowledge about all his plants.  I bought a six pack of kale starts from him, and I also got a mouse plant.  It's a crazy little shade plant that looks similar to a Jack-in-the-Pulpit, but the flower has a long "mouse tail" at the top of what looks like a plum-colored bean.

Pictures soon! I really must get better at that.

PS, I sewed up the piece I was concerned about in my red sweater... just have to sew the buttons on now!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


(Parate = "stand up" in Spanish... at least in Panama)

Thanks to Medical Billing & Coding for the following infographic, and to The Clothes Make The Girl for reminding me to Get Up, Stand Up!

People can yapper on all they want about how "good it is for you", but Maaan I know I feel better when I cruise around during work-a-time hours. Whether or not I am at home.  I think that is part of the reason I drink so many liquids at work - if nothing else, I have to head for the bathroom about once an hour!

I actually suggested "standing meetings" to my manager a few months ago.  I emailed him this WSJ article about stand-up meetings potentially being more efficient (I actually have to give my manager major credit for thoughtful consideration whenever any of us in his group suggest things we'd like to implement at work), but he suspected, in not so many words, that the majority of our group was lazy enough to not want to deal with standing meetings and that he thought standing meetings did not promote thoughtful discussion because everyone was in a rush to 'get out'.

Interestingly, while getting rolfed today I was discussing standing up at work with the rolfer, and I told him how reticent the Ergonomics people at work were in initially lowering my desk to an appropriate sitting height, that I had no desire to engage them for a standing workstation. So he simply said, "Maybe you need to bring in a couple of boxes..."  Simple problem, simple solution.


  Sitting is Killing You
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thirty One

I turn 31 tomorrow!

Gratuitous Submarine Birthday Ball picture.

I just came across an interesting Huffington Post article entitled Turning 30: 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know.

I have to admit I'm pretty happy where I am right now!

I have a great boyfriend! We love each other, and he understands my weirdnesses, which is key, I think. And I clean the toilet without complaint once a week. Hey, it's give-and-take.

My family is awesome.

I have a good job that I reasonably enjoy.  I earn a nice salary and have the opportunity to earn overtime pay if I so wish. I get to travel occasionally and dine out on the corporate card.

I am in the best shape of my life. I wish I was a little smaller in the gut-area, but doing Oly-lifting has me starting to see more definition in my shoulders, thighs, and gut-area.  Plus, you can't beat the folks who work out there - they are awesome!

I can afford to get my face peeled / microdermabraded every few weeks. It has made a huge difference in the texture of my skin, as I had cystic acne for about the last 15 years. I truly believe Paleo eating made it go away, as it can resurface any time I have an extended 'vacation' from Paleo eating.  I can also afford a nice skin care regimen.

I choose to eat high quality, organic / grass-fed / pastured food that nourishes me and keeps most of my food dollars in the local economy.

I can use tools comfortably. I rebuilt a VW Beetle back in high school, and being a mechanical engineering major had me in the metal shop many times over the years.  I worked on a research project called (at the time) Future Truck, where an SUV was retrofitted to become a hybrid vehicle. I learned how to work with carbon fiber there. I also took a welding class my last quarter in college for fun.  These days, most of my mechanical know-how has been put to use doing house remodeling projects.

Oh, and since I rebuilt a VW Beetle... I can drive a stick. I can't wait to own a sports car... and let someone else teach Daniel how to drive a stick. I don't want to be responsible for that. You really need a third party.

I can drive 40 foot buses.  In college, I got a B-class California commercial drivers license. Good times. I've driven the large U-Hauls over the years, and love driving our big Dodge Ram V10 full size pickup around and maneuvering in city streets with that thing.  My favorite is backing it up at the garbage transfer station and tossing things over the cliff into the Garbage Abyss.  It's very satisfying.

I have good friends, good hobbies, and the secure knowledge that when I spend time by myself, I am most certainly not lonely.

I feel secure in my choice to not have children, and rarely do I have to defend that choice to anyone anymore.

I have ridden horses several times.  I wouldn't say I'm GOOD at it, but I've done it.

Things I want to learn?

- How to shoot a gun
- Scuba-diving... but somewhere warm, not up here in Puget Sound
- Make a compost pile out back
- How to smoke meats

Happy birthday to me!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Frequent Flyer

I racked up a lot of frequent flier (flyer?) miles in the last week.

Back on the 13th, I flew out to Dallas to attend two weddings with Daniel. On the same day. Both brides were named Kathy. The first occurred in Austin, which is about a 3.5 hour drive from Dallas, and was (is) Daniel's best friend Kathy. We arrived in Austin at 1 AM after driving back from DFW, and Kathy had asked us to arrive at the location at 7:30 AM. We decided that was impossible and got there about an hour later to help set up.  Her wedding was gigantic by my standards - 150 people in attendance - and her organization was something of which any soldier would be proud. A binder was filled with cross-referenced lists, maps, and images of items, people, locations, and other things needed.  The ceremony was blessedly short and thoughtfully punctuated by the groom's sister reading Dr. Seuss' eternal classic, "Oh, The Places You'll Go!".

We left their reception at 2 PM and headed up for Dallas, getting there around 5:30 PM for Daniel's cousin Kathy's wedding.  This wedding was a lot smaller, and Daniel's mom officiated the ceremony.  I guess I am used to secular and Catholic weddings, because whatever branch of the Christianity umbrella that his mom ministers in likes the word "covenant".  Which is fine, it was just not something I'd heard a lot in other weddings. This ceremony was also fairly short, and then we were into the reception.  We helped pack up after this wedding, and as a result we had a long day and did not return to our hotel until after 11 PM.

The next morning, we were back off to DFW, and Daniel dropped me off. I flew to Lake Charles and visited my parents for a day, which was wonderful, and both my mom and I were sad that I did not have more time to spend there.  My mom is still mourning the loss of Pia, but I think it is getting slightly better as time goes by.

Monday afternoon, I flew from Lake Charles to Florida for a work conference. We were located at Fort Walton Beach, near Eglin AFB. It was two days of sitting in a hotel room with a folded-up Murphy bed, looking at a projector with 10 other engineers and editing a document en masse.  Luckily, the hotel was adjacent to the beach, which I took full advantage of the first morning. I was falling asleep during our initial meeting, and as we took a break I ran out, took my shoes off, and waded around in the sand & seawater for a few minutes. This totally invigorated me and I was in fine shape for the rest of the day. I also met some really nice guys from NASA, the FAA, and Transport Canada (the Canadian FAA).

Sunset on Fort Walton beach.
Early Thursday morning, I was off from Fort Walton beach to Tampa, FL to see my friend Leslie. I met her husband and two kiddos, and we had a wonderful, too-short visit, as I returned to Seattle on Friday afternoon.

Leslie & me at dinner

On the way home Friday, I finished a sock:

Saturday, Daniel and I were off to the Navy's Submarine Birthday Ball.  I was very proud of my dress choice this time. In our official photos, my face looks just like my paternal grandmother. Not a bad thing, just somewhat startling how facial features can skip a generation. Plus the dress did a good job hiding my gut.  I think we looked pretty good considering we rushed to get to the ferry. I didn't have time to get hairspray and forgot my jewelry, Daniel forgot his mini-pins, shoulder thingies (I know there's a technical name, but they're the little blue things on shoulders of button-down shirts that you see on pilots and military personnel), and his belt. Luckily the belt was hiding in his car. He said he was blaming me for the disappearance of the pins, but I think he just didn't remember where he stored them when he took the uniform for cleaning.

We had a really nice time and sat with his work group.  He also had the foresight to secure an on-base hotel room about 200 feet from the venue, which was quite helpful when my knees succumbed to hurting from my heels. 

On the ferry home from the ball Sunday morning, I bound off my Evendim sweater! YAY! The collar was the last part that was taking forever. Now I just have to weave in ends and figure out how to finish the bottom of the split for the collar.

Last night, we had dinner with our good friends J&D, and we grilled prosciutto-wrapped shrimp, salmon, and asparagus, and we made a large salad which I dressed with a vinaigrette made with a delicious apple cider vinegar D had purchased at the farmer's market (and which I am hellbent on splurging on - it is delicious!). We also cracked a bottle of rose, and J ponied up a 6 pack of hard cider. Unfortunately, we had to leave at 8:45 PM as we all had to wake up Monday for work.

In other random news, our tenants in the duplex we live in are moving out. This means we have an available unit for rent, and hopefully we'll find a good candidate soon! Daniel's Craigslist ad generated a lot of interest, and we've had a few walk-up candidates. I would like to paint the unit before the next people move in - we need to cover up the drywall patches from the electrical overhaul, and I think new paint will just brighten up and freshen up the place. "Class up the joint", if you will.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I am Tired.

We woke up at 4 AM today, and I drove Daniel to the airport at 4:30 so he could head for Dallas and get a jump on his vacation. Then I headed up to Everett for work. I slept roughly 6 hours.

I had coffee, and now I realize I think I want sugar, but I know it will screw me over in the end. I feel jittery and my stomach is 'floaty' yet I want to lay down, and I finished lunch (leftover Latin Pork Casserole - mm!) during a teleconference about a half hour ago. My eyes are bloodshot. Six hours is not enough sleep for me, or for most people, frankly.

Since I got to work so early, I am leaving early, and will go take a long nap before Oly-lifting.

Interestingly, my CNS Tap Test app showed that my trendline has a negative slope (i.e. "going down") but not by much. The Tap Test was recommended by the Rolfer and it is an interesting tool, though I sometimes forget to use it. The same company that made the CNS Tap Test also makes an Overtraining Monitor app, but I actually had trouble finding a place where I could feel my pulse yesterday, so I have yet to use it.  Plus you have to enter your weight, and I like to base my weight off my operating empty weight (aka what I weigh first thing in the morning after I pee and before I eat anything...can you tell I work with airplanes.)


Random GOOD NEWS:  I went to Title Nine yesterday and bought a new tankini (in the blue print), an eyesearingly patterned pink dress, and a skirt (in the same "Turkish potpourri" fabric as this dress). The tankini's top is nice because it actually functions like a bra - it has underwires and hooks in the back. (It is a little hard to fenagle on, though). The bottoms actually skim over my gut so it's not so obvious.  I felt pretty comfortable parading around in it outside the dressing room, asking the saleswoman something before changing out of it. Daniel even approved of the print, though I think know suspect he'd prefer me in something more revealing.  And, uh, I went to Ben & Jerry's after Title Nine and had a scoop of Sweet Cream & Cookies ice cream.  But then I ate the rest of my lamb curry for dinner.

I also began swapping out winter for spring clothes (hear that? Began ... Seattle is still cool in the 50's and 60's) and two linen shirts that Daniel had bought for me in Asia somewhere FIT. Like, looked good on me. I couldn't button or slide them over my head when he came home in Fall 2010.  I am wearing one today at work. It is a peachy/salmon color and has black embroidery along the bottom hem; 1/2 sleeve and the neckline is slit like an Indian tunic.  I am wearing it with a deep violet wool cardigan from Banana Republic. I love their thin knit cardigans for layering and adding a punch of color.


Where was I? Oh yes. Tired.



- Lunch: Latin Pork casserole
- Single scoop Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream & Cookies (almost $5! Kinda surprised at the price).
- Dinner: lamb curry


- Breakfast: 2/3-ish slice of quiche at Tully's (kinda gross), most (10 oz?) of 12 oz breve latte with one packet "Sugar in the Raw", a piece of bacon from home that is TOO SALTY WHAT THE HELL IS THAT (I got this bacon at a different stall than usual.. I think I will stick to Skagit River's bacon), a small handful of kumquats
- iced tea, water
- Lunch: Latin Pork Casserole, pear
(looked hard at the crack cocaine "snack bar" area full of HFCS and refined-everything where the microwaves are here at work. I am better than that.)

I think for dinner I am going to get a River City burger after Oly-lifting. That sounds nice.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Latin Pork Casserole

So as I worked from home today, I got REALLY hungry around lunch time... then I thought, "Hey, a burger sounds good!" Because burgers always sound good to me. If they're made right. By right, I mean juicy, seasoned beef - preferably grass-fed - cheese, fresh tomato (or no tomato if it's not a good one), onion, lettuce....pickles and other things can come play, too. No bun, natch.

But then I was getting all excited about this recipe for Latin Lasagna with Beef and Plantains.  Except... I didn't want eggs in it. And I didn't have beef or raisins or half the other things they ask you to gather in the recipe. But I did have two plantains ripening on my counter and making Daniel sad when he realized they weren't bananas. And I am nothing if not resourceful... and Latin. Vamos a cocinar!

Puerco Molido con Platanos y Repollo (y Datiles... y cebolla.... y mas y mas)


- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- several cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
- 2 plantains, peeled and sliced into thick rounds (~3/4")
- 1/2 head of cabbage (this is all I had in the fridge)
- 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 small can of Hatch chiles
- 3 dates, pitted and chopped 
- various spices as you see fit (I used Ancho chiles, smoked paprika, a little barbecue seasoning, salt and some chile powder)
- coconut oil, lard, some sort of fat


- Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
- Heat a pan on the stovetop and add some fat (I used bacon grease for this part). Cook down the onions and garlic a bit. Add your pork or meat of choice and cook till it's browned and mostly done. Set aside.
- Take the same pan, add some more fat (I switched to coconut oil), and add the plantains. Cook until they are browned on all sides.
- Slice up the cabbage into thin ribbons and arrange on the bottom of a Pyrex baking dish. 
- Dump the meat mixture in, followed by the plantains. Add the can of Hatch chiles, the dates, then the can of tomatoes. Add some extra spices if the spirit moves you. I also had half a mildly hot pepper hanging out so I added that in as well.
- Put the whole shebang in the oven and cook it for, eh, 20 minutes more or so. I'm super-hungry right now so as soon as I finish typing this I am going to check on it.

Of course this can take whatever direction you want... need to cook a bunch of kale? Dump it in. Chicken or beef? No problem. No plantains? Well use something else - butternut squash? (Trader Joe's has some awesome pouches of pre-diced squash. Not organic, but convenient). Change up the spices to Italian, or Middle Eastern or African.

... God I'm hungry!!!!


Repollo = cabbage
Datiles  = dates
Cebolla = onion
Puerco molido = ground pork
Platanos = plantains... and also a euphemism for male anatomy in Panama ;-) - in case you find yourself in need of that word, ever..

Weekend Eats

Here's a list of what I ate over the weekend, if you care to peruse!

Thursday evening I invited our friends Jim & Delphine over for some lamb curry I made. They continually complimented me via saying that the house smelled terrific :) and Delphine brought over a pint of chocolate gelato... which they left here with a scoop of gelato still remaining... sigh.


- Breakfast: salami, slices of grass-fed cheddar, organic pear, hazelnuts
- tea, hot & iced
- Lunch: tuna & avocado roll from Whole Foods
- Unsweetened whipped cream (made at home with my whipped cream dispenser) with organic strawberries and the remaining damn gelato
- Dinner: Thai food - pad garlic (pork with vegetables), white rice, red chicken curry

Activity included running errands & cleaning house, doing laundry going up and down the stairs to the basement to retrieve sheets and clothes from the dryer.


- Breakfast: deli ham slices, strawberries
- tea, hot & iced while getting a GEL MANICURE (people this is revolutionary. A couple of days later and still no chips in sight & the manicure is guaranteed at this salon for 14 days).
 - Lunch: Five Guys cheeseburger, no bun, fries
- Dinner:  cheese, a couple of strawberries

Activity included shoveling horse poop, gardening, and putzing around in the morning 


- Breakfast: deli ham slices, strawberries (the quart is almost gone)
- Lunch: steak tacos without tortillas, some black beans, iced tea
- Dinner: Chinese food - General Tso's (fried) chicken, mu shu pork no pancakes

Activity included Pilates class, walking around the farmer's market, and not much beyond that!
And here I am...  out of ham. :)


- Breakfast: grass-fed cheddar, last of the strawberries, homemade breve latte (milk was raw organic grass-fed cream from the farmer's market, Stumptown beans), hazelnuts
- iced tea

I am currently pondering lunch options...  A burger sans-bun sounds good. Burgers always sound good, and I am really sad that The Counter pulled out of their space in Ballard. I've not seen many places in Seattle where you can get a tasty burger atop a salad - in fact, that was The Place and they just closed their doors, all of a sudden, no explanation.  Rain City Burgers has a good grass-fed burger patty, though, so it may be worth a trip there if I don't want to get off my ass and cook.

Down In Front

I shoveled horse shit on Saturday.  Three year old, gloriously well-rotted horse shit. I should have taken pictures. My friend Helen is a gorgeous British woman who is "farm-strong" (meaning lifting hay bales and feed sacks are everyday /  no-big-deal occurrences for her), and takes care of three horses and acreage by herself, in addition to working full time as an engineer. 

My friend Tori and I met down there, and Tori had already gotten to work shoveling compost into empty feed bags destined for her her truck.  The compost itself felt more like "forest-floor covering" - thick, soft, a little spongy, and as it had sat under conifers it had a smattering of lichens, mosses, and tiny pine cones on top of it, as well as some thin twigs here and there.  Helen would take a few bags into her wheelbarrow and set off through the riding arena to our trucks and pile the bags in, then return ready for more.

I wish I had gotten a picture - three women handling three large pickup trucks. It makes me smile just thinking about it. Tori filled her truck bed, and I halfway filled mine, and then we sat for a cup of tea - very British and one of the endearing things about Helen is her generosity with everything she has. 

The day was warming up nicely - meaning I could actually work outside in a t-shirt and pants - and I returned home to Daniel continuing to fiddle with the garage door opener. He helped me empty the truck bed, then I got to work amending the soil out front while he went to Home Depot. 

I should back up and say that Friday afternoon, the bushwhackers showed up to grind the stumps out of the beds in the front yard. The soil was all fluffy and ready for me to get down to business. I worked in about 50 lb of compost into each bed (there are two out front, one on each half of the duplex), and on our side I also worked in a good amount of the organic fertilizer I mentioned in earlier posts. As I worked, I picked out whatever trash or roots / stumps / twigs were left from the stump-grinding. I was easily able to pull out everything but one large root that was near the mailbox. I'll have to return there with a hand-saw, as my dad suggested.  I am thinking of making a soil sifting box (make an open butt-jointed tray with 2x4s and staple chicken wire to one side) for when I make raised beds out back. There's a lot of weird rocks and crap in the soil - I don't mind the occasional rock, but I don't enjoy coming across chunks of concrete trash in my dirt, either.

After amending the soil, I finally (FINALLY) was able to plant up various purchases. My weeping flowering cherry went in, as did the grasses I had purchased at Sky Nursery a couple of weeks back. Behold:

Hurry up and grow, guys!

I am now on the search for grasses or shrubs that look like bamboo but aren't. Nandina could be a good candidate. See that strip of grass going back in the photo? I want to plant something thin there that will serve as a border to separate the apartment's sidewalk from our property. There's also some concrete hidden under the grass in the foreground. Ugh. Another victim for our sledgehammer party in the next few months. 

I feel really good about that plot. Now I need to work on our tenant's empty plot. I want to do something similar - maybe with a Japanese maple over there, and some nice shrubs. I left some room to plant one or two shrubs on our side - I'd like another Daphne odorata (and they are only like $7 at Home Depot), and maybe I'll plop some bulbs and annuals in there for color while I'm at it. Annuals are blessedly cheap and hopefully I can find a large mixed flat! 


And now, for no particular reason: Star Trek actors at the 1976 rollout and dedication ceremony of the Enterprise space shuttle:

Rockin' the polyester.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Accounting for Tastes

Ugh, I gained back most of that hard-won 15 lb weight loss.

Yesterday I was around 161 lb. I'm 5'5" and a solid size 10 in normal clothing. (Actually, I am pretty amazed when I see women who are much larger than me at the same height and might even weigh less.  Muscle is really denser than fat).

When I was down to 150, size 8's were an easy fit. I felt Marvelous, and according to my DEXA scan, I was around a "Crossfit ideal" body fat of 22%-ish.

I just want to be healthy, strong, not jiggly, and feel good in my clothes. And be able to look good in what I want to wear.

I know I'm never going to be "small". My bones and muscles are simply too big for that. I am okay with that. (Interestingly, my sister is the same height as me but weighs about 30 or 40 lb less than me at any given time, even though she is very strong herself, yet what a person off the street would call 'thin'. My shoulders and rib cage are a bit broader. Our lower legs look almost identical).

I love my legs and butt - they are pretty much all muscle and I finally have a nice ass that isn't a "flatliner"! (Thank you, squats!) My boobs aren't too big or too small. When I move my arms, you can tell I have muscle around my shoulders.

My upper arms are solid if I make a fist and you squeeze them, but they're not ripped. They're not flabby chicken-skin, either, though, so I am okay with that and sleeveless shirts don't bother me.

As with all women, there are body parts I am not as happy with...

- My "back-fat". What my sister and I call the fat under your bra-band. It's not horrendous, but I'd rather have it flatter back there. You can squeeze a small handful if you reach behind my ribcage and go for the gusto.

- My face is a huge tell-tale. The rounder it is, the more fat I have on me. The more heart-shaped it is, the thinner I am.

- My belly. Gut. Stomach. Whatever you want to call it, that-right-there is where I hold on to my fat. It sticks out like a shelf, thankfully not like a beer gut or prego-belly, but it pooches out. My mom and I used to joke that if we could redistribute the fat, we'd push our guts out into our (then-flat) butts and boobs.

Honestly, I'd rather have a gut than a wide butt or hips or saddlebags or muffin top.... it could be a lot worse and a lot less flattering when I look in the mirror.

Even at 150 lb, I still had a gut. It was smaller, for sure, but still there. I sort of accepted it as just where the repository of fat on me hung out. 

Here's the deal. I don't hate myself, in fact I am quite proud that I am intelligent and have a good personality, and a good sense of humor about most things in life.  I've got great family and friends and a great boyfriend. I just want there to be a little less of me so that I feel even better about my outsides than I do about myself as a person. :)

I just need a little nudge to get going again. I am going back low-carb Paleo.Maybe blogging my meals will help. I use on and off to track diet, but ... eh. I get bored, the app doesn't work too smoothly, I stop using it and forget.

MEALS EATEN 4/4/2012:

- Breakfast: 6 slices bacon, heavy cream (yea yea out of the container :-) ), apple
- tea, iced & hot (no sugar)
- slices of grass-fed cheddar, pear, more heavy cream  (couple of swigs)
- Lunch: pork chop, kale sauteed with olive mix
- Dinner: pork chop, kale as above, cauliflower roasted with curry powder
- water in there somewhere

MEALS EATEN 4/5/2012

- Breakfast: 3 pieces bacon, cauliflower roasted with curry powder
- tea, iced
- 1 bottle Guayaki Yerba Mate (18g carbohydrate, 76 cal total)

- Lunch (planned): pork chop *they were big!*, rest of kale from above, kumquats
- Dinner (planned): chicken curry / Tom Kha Gai (or whatever that Thai coconut soup is called) - esque thing cooked on the stove... probably over more cauliflower or somehow loaded with veggies

REST DAY TODAY! Yeah! Went and lifted Tues and Wed. God I love that place. :-)