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. :-)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Soilent Brown is Dirt, Man

Today I'm going to talk about soil and my strange fascination with a book I recently purchased.

First, the book.  Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, by Steve Solomon.  It's awesome.  I have spent far too many evenings reading it in bed. Yes, I read gardening books in bed. Also cookbooks. I like food porn, what can I say.

So, anyway, Steve-o's book starts off with how to amend your soil.  I was originally planning on adding lots of compost to our new backyard and calling it good, because that's what organic gardeners do, right? Steve laid out good reasons not to solely rely on compost, mostly having to do with low nutritional levels in animal manure out here (I will be adding horse manure to my yard, FREE courtesy of a good friend and her two horses), and also that most soil west of the Cascades is geologically similar and therefore lacking in certain nutrients. So he tells you to save your $$ and just make up some organic fertilizer to add in with the compost.

Now, before I go into that, I will say that I grew up in Tulare, California - an extremely fertile valley where all manner of agricultural food crops are grown.  I grew up with a yard that provided us with everything from strawberries to pomegranates to peaches....many, many fruits and vegetables that would just GROW without us needing to do a whole lot of work beyond digging a hole for the seeds and setting the irrigation timers (Central California in the 80s and 90s = water rationing). A blogger I unreasonably adore, FinnyKnits, says that she now tests her soil before the start of planting season and amends with what it needs. And I totally get it. It helps to be scientific about things if you want good results, eh? Except Finny lives in ... Calfornia.  And now that I'm at least one Zone cooler than when I lived in California or Maryland, I find things I like aren't as easy to grow due to temperature differences. I've had to adjust from late tomatoes to early tomatoes, swap out peaches for blueberries, and protect fruit trees from the cold snaps up here in Seattle. Wah, wah, wah. (Wa-Wa??)

So... I am taking a leap of unscientific faith in this Steve-o and denying my engineer instincts for a year.  I'm making his damn fertilizer.

I headed off to the ever-funtastical Sky Nursery last Friday and bought the following:

- 1 x 25 lb bag of cottonseed meal: $30
- 1 x 20 lb bag of kelp meal: $50
- 1 x 50 lb bag of rock phosphate: $25(I keep wanting to sing "Rock Lobster" by the B-52s...)
- 1 x 40 lb bag of "soil sweet" lime: $9

I spent a total of $114 (plus 9.5% tax) for 130 lb of fertilizer goods.  The last three items will keep around for a long time, as they are minor components in the fertilizer mix. 

Steve's mix is as follows: 4 parts seed meal to 1/2 part phosphate, 1/2 part kelp meal, and 1/2 part lime. I ended up  making enough to fill a 5 gallon bucket.

I haven't spread any of it yet.  Steve reminds readers that spring is cool and iffy in the PNW, and that there is not much benefit to planting early.  An anecdote I remember up here is "Plant stuff on Mother's Day".


In other garden news: I got my junipers bushwhacked.  Observe:


...After. Glorious space.
Oh Sweet Jesus I am so happy this is taken care of. The bushwhackers are returning this Friday afternoon to grind out the stumps.  Incidentally, these ugly junipers were on both sides of our duplex, so I have double the room to replant. I think our tenants are really happy, though - now they get the full use of their front walkway (previous to removal, their junipers - even with copious trimming - were spilling over and forcing them over to one side).

See that strip of green grass behind the bushes? Daniel, me, and our friend Delphine all had the same idea: clumping bamboo as a screen! Or even Nandina shrubs (which look like bamboo without the bad side effects like, oh, cracking concrete and running out of control).

I've got a lot of fun shoveling ahead of me!