Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#1858 WW Wednesday - what was it about?

There is a reason why I like to think about last Saturday's Weight Watcher meeting on Wednesday. I'm halfway through the week and thinking back on the meeting topic, thinking about what I heard, reading over notes I wrote down, reflecting on my weight loss or gain helps keep me in the game.

Then there are times like today that I can't for the life of me remember what we talked about in the meeting AT ALL. I remember that Bob was our leader last. He's a very nice man who is soft spoken yet passionate about WW. He's an older fella who taught me about the dog food diet to which he proudly subscribes. The dog food diet is where you eat the same thing for your meals every day, you know, like your dog does. Clearly you don't eat dog food, but there's not much variety with this plan. On the other hand, you know exactly what the points are in your food and you always stay within your range. Bob says he always has the same breakfast and lunch, then varies his evening meals. It works well for him.

The dog food diet was NOT our topic though.

What I mostly remember about last week's meeting was that I walked there. It's about two miles from my house to the center. I put my ear buds in, turned on the Hamilton Mix Tape, and strolled on over. It was a nice morning and I felt good. No pain when I got there, either. I sat down next to a woman I don't usually sit by. I asked her to watch my stuff while I went to blow my nose. When I sat back down, she said, "You could be a poster child for knee surgery. There is absolutely no hitch in your giddy up!" (Translation: no limping.) I smiled and told her that I was glad to hear her say that and my physical therapist would be glad too.

The other thing I remember about the meeting was getting a five pound star sticker. I love the stickers. I wish I got them more frequently, but that's up to me. There were several people that earned five pound stickers on Saturday and Bob asked each one of us what we were doing to drop those five pounds. I said, "You gotta keep on keepin' on. We've already paid the money, so we might as well get our money's worth and follow the plan." Lots of nodding of heads in agreement with my statement. Write down what you eat, watch your portions, get in a little physical activity, keep a positive outlook. Sometimes the scale is down, sometimes it's up, but it's always all about you and the effort you made, or didn't make.

Here is something that I remember Bob saying: the number on the scale does not define who you are. Your weight does not define whether you are a good, kind person. It doesn't determine how intelligent, witty and sassy you are. The only person who knows the number is you and whoever you choose to tell. There is more to a person than the number on the scale. Bob is all about giving pep talks that make you feel good about yourself. I like that about him.

I have to tell you that on Monday and Tuesday when I traveled and worked in Tucson, I didn't follow the plan. It's tough to do when you're traveling, but lots of people do it. I feel like I mostly kept myself in order today. Tomorrow is another day to take care of myself and make good choices.

I think I'll start taking care of myself by getting ready for bed!

Monday, April 24, 2017

#1857 working in Tucson

Today I am at work in Tucson, AZ. It's just a quick trip. I flew in this morning and will leave tomorrow afternoon. The reason I am here is because I am attending a user training for some new software we are going to be using. I am the  SME (Subject Matter Expert) for Utah on this software, so I dang well better know how to use it so I can help the other users in my region.

I have been to Tucson once before for work, but that was lots of years ago. People picked me up and drove me around. Today I have a little rental car. I haven't driven around the town, just from the airport to the office and to the hotel. I remember staying at this same hotel, though. My room is nice once I'm inside, but I don't like that it has an outside entrance. I wish I was in the main building. I have a courtyard view room, which is lovely (lots of orange trees out there!) but I don't want to leave me room now that it's dark. I had some room service brought up including a couple of beers, so now I'm just hanging out, watching basketball, enjoying my Corona Light and reading.

No, I am not very social. I think that if some of the other SMEs went out, they would talk about work and I'm not really about that. :) Plus I had some personal stuff to take care of tonight, too, so that took precedence anyway.

Hope you had a good Monday!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

#1856 Saturday with Sandy: out and about with pictures

Today I had many things on my to do list. There were two things that were musts and the rest were nice to do items.

I set my alarm for early wake-up because I was planning to go to spin class at 7AM. The thing is that the Jazz game last night (that I watched on TV), finished after 11:00 and haven't been sleeping great (that cough!) so I took a sleeping aid which totally knocked me out in a good way. When my alarm went off, I couldn't drag myself out of bed, so I changed my plan. I decided to walk to WW and have T pick me up since I had an appointment later that I wouldn't get to in time if I walked home.

It was a beautiful morning.

And I felt good about the walk.

No, I am not setting any speed records with an average pace/mile of just under 21 minutes, it is very nice to be able to walk and not have any pain. Cutting down my time a little will come, but that's not as important to me as actually getting out and doing it.

WW was my first must-do of the day. It was a good meeting. I was down a couple of lbs and got a 5 pound star! I've lost just over 30 lbs since I started. It has been slow going, but hopefully those pounds are off for good.

T came to pick me up and we went over to Starbucks. The drive-thru line was very long, so we went inside to order. There was quite a wait in there, too. I guess everyone wanted a bit of caffeine this morning. Fortunately, we had our toys so we were entertained.

We also chatted. It was a pleasant to spend ten minutes or so with my son. I don't see him very much because at 19, he prefers to hang out with his friends. I'm always good for a white chocolate mocha frappacino, though.

My second must-do of the day was an appointment was with my long-time hair stylist, Lanna. It had been a couple of months and I needed a cut.

Not too different but it feels good.

Now that my must-do appointments were complete, I was ready to choose some fun things to do. Lovely Paul had told me about a bakery in the Sugarhouse neighborhood and I decided that today was the day to find the bakery and test it's goods. The bakery, Tulie, has a couple of locations and I chose the one on 15th and 15th. A couple of things: first, it is insanely easy to get around SLC because of the grid system. Second, Sugarhouse is a lovely area. The homes are mostly beautiful and the streets have lots of trees and it is very different from where I live out in the 'burbs. I parked my car up on 16th South and walked down a block to the bakery.

It was around 12:30 when I got there, so they were out of some things, like chocolate croissants and ham & cheese croissants. Maybe next time. I got a salted caramel bar.

I can assure you this was probably about 1,000 points on the WW scale. The bottom layer was a shortbread cookie, topped with rich, creamy, buttery caramel and topped with dark chocolate ganache sprinkled with sea salt. Was it worth it? YES. Yes it was.

My next stop was Red Butte Garden. I did my first bloom recording of the season today in the Children's Garden. I ran into a fellow volunteer bloom recorder, a lady called Lori, and we walked around together for half an hour or so looking for blooms and comparing techniques. I am glad there is at least one other bloom recorder in the Children's Garden because I know I missed a lot last year, but Lori assured me that she felt the same way. It's just her second season also. As I walked around the garden I saw a few other people recording blooms in other areas. I don't think I ever saw any other recorders last year.

Another thing that made me feel good was that I recognized and remembered some of the plants and shrubs and trees and I was a lot more confident about deciding whether they were blooming or not. Sometimes it's hard to tell with a tree. There's not always a flower to look at. But if you touch it lightly and pollen blows off, it's in bloom. That works for fir trees especially.

After recording the blooms, I had to walk around the garden because why wouldn't I? It's Earth Day and I love the garden. My very most favorite spot is the waterfall. I take a pic of it every time I'm there.

The waterfall was really flowing today and the ponds looked pretty full. The spring run-off is happening!

I wish you could scratch and sniff the photo of this viburnum. This flowering bush has the most beautiful smell, maybe even better than a lilac which is something I never thought I would say. It has almost a spicy vanilla scent to me. The viburnums are blooming all over the garden. I smelled them all.

After the garden walk, I decided it was time to come home. MT was here watching TV. T was in his room with a couple of friends getting ready to go to a concert. He is seeing Snoop Dogg, Flatbush Zombies, Wiz Kalifa and Cypress Hill at USANA Amphitheater. He was so excited. We got food from Atlantis Burger for everyone and off they went.

MT is still downstairs watching TV. I have been upstairs reading with the Giants/Rockies game on in the background. Soon I will turn on one of my favorite shows, Ghost Adventures, during which Lizzie and I will tweet with other fans of the show. It's fun.

It's been a fantastic day. I got in a lot of steps.

I didn't follow the WW plan today, but I didn't overeat either and I was pretty active. I feel good about the day. The only thing I regret is that I haven't drank as much water as I need to drink.

Hope your day was great, too!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

#1855 99 days

I had my last physical therapy session today. Lovely Paul has declared that my knee is as bendy as he can make it. He has determined that he has given me the tools to continue working on my hip strength. Hip strength you say? Yes, it seems like the muscles from the bum guide the knee, so most of the time was spent working on hip strengthening and flexibility. I can really feel it in my balance on the left leg.

For my final bend this morning, Lovely Paul pushed me to 127 degrees. 125 was the goal so it was cool to get a couple extra degrees. I'm not gonna lie to you...I'm still sore this evening from that extra push.

As I was getting my parting gift (a t-shirt and a water bottle!) I learned that Lovely Paul was leaving the clinic next week to move back to Boise. I am so glad I got done with my PT before he left! I wouldn't have been too excited to have a different doc working with me after all this time unless it was Lance, but he seemed busy all the time.

Are you wondering if I told him I call him Lovely Paul? I did. He laughed. He is lovely. He has a wonderful personality, he is a terrific physical therapist and he talks really lovingly about his wife. He is super easy to talk to, even when he is torturing you just a little bit.

I know you're curious. Check out his work profile here.

My surgery was January 12. Today was my final day of physical therapy, April 20. That's 99 days from surgery to the end of rehab. It's been an adventure!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#1854 travel Tuesday: envy

I'm feeling extra jealous today because not one but two of my friends from work are going on vacation this week! In fact, they both leave on Thursday, but they are going opposite directions.

Kelsie and her family are heading to Kauai for 10 days. I haven't been to Kauai, but I have heard that it is beautiful, very natural. A couple of my travel agent friends spent some time there courtesy of the Kauai Travel Bureau where they were given extensive tours of the island and got a lot of knowledge about the place. I think it's known as the Garden Island.

I was looking at some photos of Kauai. It does look stunning.

I'm sure that Kelsie and her family will have an amazing time. She has two little boys that are already pretty well traveled for little fellas. Kelsie says she is loading iPads with movies and packing snacks for the long flight. It is a long flight, but it will be worth it for a little time in paradise.

Another friend, Justin, and his wife are heading to Puerto Rico for a long weekend. Kate works for Jet Blue and gets deals on flights. (How many times have I thought about working part-time for an airline to get those kinds of benefits? Many times. I haven't ruled it out, either.) Jet Blue flies to San Juan, PR, so Justin and Kate decided to go there. Kate has a friend who goes to Puerto Rico fairly often and told them they should go.

They are going to Rincon. I just looked at some photos of the beach there and yes, it looks great.

Rincon is a surfing town. I wonder if Justin will give it a try? Or maybe Kate will!

Beach vacations are great! Last year MT and I went on a cruise and we didn't get a lot of beach time. The most time we had on the beach was in Jamaica: we sat at a bar on the beach and drank Red Stripes.

I wish both of my friends happy vacation. Wish I was going with you!


I finished this book! Check out the 2017 Reading Page for a review (of sorts). 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

#1853 three things: taxes, allergies and physical therapy

I've got three things to talk about tonight.

1. Taxes. We have our taxes done by a CPA named Russ. He has been doing our taxes for several years now, since the properties got complicated beyond my scope, I feel good about having Russ prepare and advise. We knew that 2016 would be interesting tax-wise because MT did not have a W-2 job, so the only entity withholding taxes from his earnings would be us and we weren't really sure what that would look like. We thought that holding out 30% for taxes was probably a good number, but then money was tight and we didn't hold out anything. We have a plan to pay for the taxes, so that's good. The thing is that Russ called us on Saturday with what we owe the IRS and the State, and holy crap it's a big number. I might have hyper-ventilated just a little. And I didn't feel like we made all that much money. Ugh. The amount that self-employed people have to pay is crazy. Russ told us that whatever MT made, he should hold out 50%. It's just another thing to factor into bids and stuff. I'll be straight with you...this life is stressful for me. On the other hand, MT is having the most job satisfaction that I've seen him have in 15 years or so. I'll be all right.

2. Allergies. It is spring and I am happy and slightly miserable. This season's allergies are taking the form of a dry, scratchy throat and red, itchy eyes. The dry throat causes me to have an annoying hacking cough. Sometimes my eyes itch so much that wearing my contacts is uncomfortable. I usually take out my contacts soon after I get home, but it's all I can do not to rub rub rub my eyes. Spring is so beautiful with the flowers and the green lawns and trees getting their leaves, but oh my goodness, it is hard on my sinuses.

3. Physical therapy. I reached my goal bend of 125 degrees last Thursday. I have two more sessions scheduled with Lovely Paul so we can make sure that 125 is here to stay. He said that he would give me some instructions for exercises to do to keep working on the knee to make it and the muscles connected to it nice and strong. Those exercises are no joke. There are a lot of exercises that strengthen the hip and glutes because there are so many muscles and ligaments and such that connect to the knee. I do get quite a good leg workout at physical therapy. Lovely Paul is also pleased because I have started going back to spinning class at the gym. Okay, I've only been to two classes. I went last Wednesday, the 12th, because it was my three month anniversary of the surgery and I wanted to see if I could pedal that bike for an hour. I can do it. The first five to ten minutes were a little difficult. It didn't hurt but it felt kind of weird. Then I got used to it and rode well for the next 30 minutes or so. About 45 minutes in, the knee got tired. It sounds funny to say that, but truly I was pedaling along with the group and suddenly my knee told me to ease up. I took off the little tension I had on the bike and just continued to spin slowly and steadily. When I got off the bike, I didn't have any pain, but my left leg was definitely more fatigued than the right knee. Pretty much the same thing happened in class on Saturday, but I pushed myself a little harder through the majority of the class and eased up with about 15 minutes left. No swelling, no pain, no limping. It felt good to get back out and break a sweat on a bike, even if it was inside. I don't feel like I'm quite ready to get back to Zumba though!

Friday, April 14, 2017

#1852 foodie Friday: meatloaf muffins

I just realized that the name of this post doesn't sound very good, but the little meatloaf or big meatball tastes really good, so bear with me. Maybe you can think of a nicer name.

I had about a pound of ground beef and believe it or not, I didn't want to make tacos again. I had made these individual meatloaf things before and decided to try it again. Here's what I put in a bowl:

A handful of bread crumbs
A good slosh of milk
An egg
A palmful of finely chopped onion
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of red pepper flakes
A couple of pinches of cumin
Some salt and pepper

Mix all those ingredients together, then put in the ground beef, and stir it up until the meat incorporates all of the ingredients.

Cut up six small cubes of cheese. I used cheddar jack because that's what I had. A sliced up stick of string cheese would be good, too.

Spray a muffin tin (I used a six-muffin tin) with non-stick cooking spray. You don't want the meatball/loaf to stick!

Take a clump of the meat mixture into your hand and put a cube of cheese in it. Mold the meat around the cheese. You might find you need a little more meat to cover the cheese. Form a ball with the meat. It's probably going to be between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball. It should fit into the muffin tin very nicely. As I mentioned, I had a six-muffin tin, so the balls were a slightly large. They looked like big meatballs.

I chose to put a dollop of BBQ sauce on each ball. I put the muffin tin on a foil-lined cookie sheet and popped it in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. After the cooking time was finished, I let them sit in the muffin tin for a few minutes to rest.

Because I had sprayed the tin generously, there was no sticking. The cheese inside the meatball was all melty and yummy. There was a little kick to the flavor because of the spices I used. As far as I know, there are no rules to the spices. Use whatever you like. I bet Italian seasoning would be great with some mozzarella cheese. You could do a little marinara instead of BBQ sauce and you'd have an equally delicious but different flavor than what I had.

The balls were not dry - I would even dare to say they were moist.  The trick to moist meatballs is the milk in the bread crumbs. When I haven't added milk, I find the meatballs or meatloaf seems very dry.

MT really liked this dinner. It is simple and good and you probably have everything you need to make it in your kitchen right now. This is truly a 30 minute meal. I like making it in the muffin tin because the portion is easy and perfect. The meatballs taste good the next day, too. About a minute or so in the microwave and you've got a tasty snack or lunch..

Happy Friday!