Thursday, September 22, 2011

Two Little Flowers

I know two little rosebuds...

Two little yo-yo's...

Two little popsicles...

...who just keep getting sweeter with age.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crafty Lil' Devil

Au revoir, mood swing! Don't let the door hit ya' where the good Lord split ya'...

I had such a lovely weekend. I don't use that word often--lovely--but it's lovely to use every once in a while when there's good use for it. Don't you think? It's amazing what a few extra hours of good sleep and a fist full of midol can do for the human spirit.

Saturday night was book club night. I've been a part of my book club for over a year now and I so look forward to it every single month. We're not a huge group, with a total of eight ladies, and there are often stragglers who don't always show up. But out of the eight, there is about a solid five of us who regularly show up and stay pretty dedicated to actually reading the entire book chosen. If you recall, this past month's book was The Last Days of Dogtown, which was set in Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Keeping within the style of the book, our hostess Patti, served a deliciously creamy New England clam chowder along with some other warm goodies like bacon wrapped sweet potatoes. Foodgasm doesn't even begin to cover it...

There is no rule that the food served has to coincide with the book. If the hostess doesn't feel like cooking, she's perfectly welcome to order pizza, if that tickles her fancy. But it can provide a fun sense of whimsy when the menu falls into a theme. I suppose it all comes down to the book chosen. Either way, I had a fantastic time not only discussing the book but yuckin' it up with the gals. The weather in Florida is slowly starting to take a turn for the cooler, so it was a nice change to sit outside on the deck in the evening. The food was glowing and the wine was flowing, and a good time was had by all.

I'm especially curious as to what will be on next month's menu considering, in honor of October, the original Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was chosen. Frankfurter's perhaps?

Sunday I had a load of fun. We headed over to David's parents' house, Nella included. Nella is incredibly easy to please. All we have to do is ask her if she wants to go to Grammy and PawPaw's house and she goes absolutely berserk. I'm not sure if it's going to Grammy's house that's so exciting or if it's just the fact that she gets to ride somewhere in the car with us, but either way, she's a slap-happy dog when we ask her. John and Judy, my in-laws, have NFL ticket on their television, which we don't, so we spend a lot of time at their house on Sundays during football season.

I had other plans in mind besides watching football. I'd mentioned to Judy about a month ago that I really wanted to make an autumn wreath for my front door. I could just as easily buy one, especially since there are so many beautiful wreaths available in stores right now, but the last thing I need to do right now is spend $40 on a wreath when I can just as easily make one for a lot cheaper. Judy is a very crafty woman and has loads of this and that at her disposal. A few weeks back she handed me all sorts of artificial foliage, flowers, and ribbon to keep, which was a huge helper. I've had a pretty clear idea of what I envisioned for the wreath, and what she handed me fit perfectly for what I had in mind.

While the lads watched the Steelers pummel Seattle, Judy and I got to work. This is what I had all together to begin with.

I bought a wreath last weekend at the flea market for a mere $5.00 that was covered in some old hideous ribbon and wooden hearts. We cut all of that junk off of it only to discover that without the ribbon, the wreath wasn't staying together very well. I had decided against using ribbon at all on the wreath--no bows allowed--but it came in handy after all. I suggested wrapping it around the wreath to hold its shape, which most definitely helped. Once covered in leaves, if a little ribbon happened to show through, oh well. I'd live. We nixed certain flowers and pieces from the box. I decided against the sunflowers because they remind me too much of summer, not fall. So it was narrowed down to this...
(No matter what I do I cannot get this picture to upload horizontally!)

Some of the strands of leaves had little pumpkins and berries attached to them, which I loved. I wasn't sure how the little squashes would fit in, so we worried about those last. Once we overlapped all the leaves and glued-gunned the wreath to death, it all came together. We only added two of the squashes--the bright green ones--for just a little pop of a different color to mix in with all the orange, red, and yellow. And the result was simply lovely...

I am beyond pleased with how it turned out! This was exactly how I imagined it in my head and was astounded that it actually came out even more beautiful than I imagined it. My mother-in-law is a crafting genius! It's even nicer and more well-put-together than some of the ones I saw in stores, if I do say so myself. It's going to look magnificent hanging on my black front door.

I had so much fun with this project that I want to make a wreath for every season now. I already own a Christmas wreath, but I'm thinking a wreath for spring and one for summer could be in order. For spring, I'm seeing blue and green hydrangeas with touches of crisp white. For summer, maybe sunflowers, daisies, and violets. I love flowers and I adore color, so these could be right up my alley. Viva les crafts!

Do any of you have any crafty ideas up your sleeves?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Good Mourning

I was a bit of a wreck yesterday. And a bit weepy. Maybe the planets weren't aligned properly, causing some inexplicable gravitational pull, sending my emotions afloat. You know, dogs and cats living together--mass hysteria!! Okay, maybe not quite that afloat.

Or maybe I was just a little hormonal.

Or perhaps it was a lethal combination of finishing my current book club book, The Last Days of Dogtown, with some unpleasant news at my Weight Watchers meeting. Whatever it was, I was feeling all sorts of sad and defeated last night.

When I get into a book, and I mean really get into it where it's a true, sublime joy to open and read, I get very attached to fictional characters. Whether it takes me a day to finish a book, or a week, or a month, those characters are what I eat, sleep, and breathe. They are my escape, my freedom from reality. My friends. When I'm consumed with them, there are no bills to stress over, no worrying about weight, no missing my mother and wishing so badly she were still here. I'm somewhere else.

So when the time comes to finish the book, for it to end, I am always sad. I actually feel like I have to mourn the loss of the book and of my friends. Sure, I can always go back and reread it again, but the experience is never quite the same the second time around. Discovering new places and characters for the first time, where they become a part of you, is sort of like a first kiss. You can kiss a person again and again, but that first kiss will always hold a dose of magic that cannot be repeated. I once described my passion for books to my girlfriends, explaining how certain stories and its characters become a part of one's soul, and they laughed at me. Hmph. Yeah, love you guys too. Remind me to never discuss books with you ever again...

The next wave of sadness came at my Weight Watchers meeting. I almost skipped the meeting, but I'm glad I decided not to. My meeting leader, Carol, regretfully announced to us that it was her last night. She wants to spend more time with her family while her teenage daughter is still home. I completely get that and understood, but I'll admit, I was extremely disappointed. I've had Carol as my leader for over a year now and I was really looking forward to reaching goal under her guide. She assured us that we will see her occasionally because she is going to stay on as a sub for the new leader who starts next week. I suppose it's better than nothing. I'll just have to remember to stay open-minded because our new leader could end up being just as good as Carol. Let's hope so, anyway!

Between being weepy over the very sad book and the even sadder meeting, I just wanted to go home and curl up next to David on the couch. Then I remembered, David had open house at his school and was going to be home late. Nella wanted nothing to do with my pitiful mood. She was far too engrossed in tearing her stuffed duck's insides to shreds--I guess she decided he needed to die a slow death--and barking at every single person who walked by outside like a maniac. Sometimes I so wish I had her life...

So I had nothing but Family Guy reruns to help raise my spirits. Shockingly, that didn't even work, and Family Guy always gets me laughing and know, because filthy, politically incorrect toilet humor just does that to me...I was just absolutely down in the dumps, despite having a great weight loss week and everything. Just for the record, I've lost 67 pounds now...

I was so grateful when David finally arrived home. I had tried calling him to find out where he was because usually he doesn't get as trapped at open house as the classroom teachers do since he teaches art, but I was having trouble reaching him. I clearly recall now that he told me he wouldn't be leaving till around 7:30 or even 8:00, but last night in my needy, pathetic mood I was remembering no such thing. I just knew I was feeling down and I desperately wanted his comfort. This is where I got really irrational and started convincing myself he'd gotten in an accident and was lying dead in a ditch somewhere. Yeah, looking at my female calender today, my behavior is starting to make a lot of sense, if you get my meaning...

So of course I felt utterly foolish when he called to tell me he was on his way home. He felt bad that I had been worried, but he was with a parent when I tried calling him, which was why he couldn't answer. Yeah...definitely felt foolish. But it is amazing how fast a ridiculous mood, like the one I was in, can lift. All it took was him walking in the door and simply being present to make me be rational again. And to think, this all started merely with a sad, very moving book!

Today I'm my normal self again. Just happy that it's Friday.

Happy that I have book club tomorrow night.

Happy that David texted me this picture today of a polar bear diving just because he knows I love polar bears.

And happy that despite the horrendous water bill I received this month, we finally have healthy, green grass again.

Like I always say, it's the little things that make life wonderful.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Rootin' Tootin' Mornin'

The Date: September 13, 2011

The Time: Roughly around 7:15am, eastern time.

The Place: My bedroom floor.

The Characters: Myself and one Prunella Mocha Frappuccino a.k.a. Nella a.k.a. My Dog

The Incident: I was taking a moment to fuss and preen at how utterly delectable her canine beauty is when she decided to roll on her side in order to grant me better access to rubbing her belly. Naturally, I obliged. How could I resist such radiance? And then it happened. Nella proceeded to "toot" not once, but three times in a row. With my breath sharply held in, Nella then angled her head towards her derriere to inspect the point of location where the rudeness exited. Confused, she looked to me with an expression that clearly asked, "What in the world was that??"

This is not the first time Nella has been a victim of doggie toots, and every time it occurs, I laugh uncontrollably at her. I can't help it. It usually results in her gentle ego being sorely offended and her running away. My little darling is so very sensitive. Alas, being the insensitive jerk of a mommy that I am, I laughed and laughed and laughed, and Nella escaped to the top of the bed, undoubtedly trying to bury herself in the chocolate brown colored sheets where she can camouflage herself away from the cruel world. I've been at work this morning for over three hours and I'm still laughing about it.

It's the little things in life that amuse me so.

I'm going to have to make it up to her somehow tonight when I get home. Otherwise, I may be getting the silent treatment...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gearing Up...

What a weekend! I feel as though I didn't get a lot accomplished the last couple of days, but at the same time I feel like I did a lot. Early Saturday morning began with a trip to the flea market with David and a couple of our neighbors, Becky and her husband Bubba (gotta' love nicknames in the south) whom we are close friends with. David and Becky share a rich enthusiasm for gruesome Halloween decorating, so they were on the prowl for bloody and gory props. Our neighborhood takes Halloween extremely seriously. We live on a street in the very back and have earned ourselves quite a reputation for putting on good shows.

My feeling on it is slightly different. You see, Halloween is my birthday. I love everything about Halloween--the candy, the costumes, the decorating, and especially the history. It tickles me when I get an opportunity to enlighten some unsuspecting folks that Halloween was actually a religious day and had absolutely nothing to do with the devil. That usually surprises people. I've always enjoyed having a birthday on Halloween. It made for fun birthday parties growing up! As an adult, I enjoy being on the other side, handing out the candy to the cute little kids rather than taking it. I'm also quite content with the "cute" side of the holiday--the witches and cauldrons, the jack-o-lanterns, mummies, black cats, and ghosts. David on the other hand, is all about the "icky" side--the blood, the entrails, sinister scarecrows, creepy clowns. Bleck! Give me old fashioned Frankenstein, I say!

David and Becky are actually already building and crafting together their Halloween props. I'm forbidden to spill the beans on what's being made, but I will say that my garage is currently filled with PVC pipe, wood, and power tools. It is no joke. Whatever happened to just hanging a paper-hinged skeleton on the front door framed with those cottony spiderwebs that you stick the little plastic spiders in?

This is where I get a little bummed out. It's been a very, very long time since I've lived anywhere that accommodates real trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Apartments just don't get that kind of action. Building our house changed all of that for us. The last two Halloween's that we've been in our house, I've seen more trick-or-treaters than I've seen in years. It actually reminds me of my old neighborhood where I grew up, which was filled to the brim with kids in costumes. It's a lot of fun and I do enjoy it, but I will admit, having spent several years NOT doing that, I now feel like I forfeit my birthday for the day. I mentioned this to David recently, that I feel like my birthday now gets a little lost in the shuffle since he gets so creatively consumed with Halloween. He pointed out to me that we can celebrate my birthday any night that I want, whether it be before or after Halloween. He also reminded me that not everyone gets to celebrate their birthday on their actual birthday, depending on what day of the week it falls on. I get that. And I do get that Halloween is something fun for him (like the way Christmas decorating is fun for me) and a way for him to put his artistic skills to use (his pumpkin carvings alone are astounding), and that the day cannot be postponed just so I can have the satisfaction of celebrating my birthday on the day. But still, it would be nice to be able to celebrate it ON my actual birthday if it permitted. Now that we live in this neighborhood though, I just don't see that happening. I feel selfish and pretty bratty even having an issue with it. After all, it's not like I'm twelve years old. But jeez...Oh well. I'm sure October 31st will be a load of fun regardless.

As for some of my plans, even though it's on the early side to be planning, I'm going to try to organize a pumpkin carving party for my neighbors the weekend of Halloween. We're going to supply tables and chairs, the tools, carving patterns (in case anyone needs ideas), and some delicious treats to snack on. Everyone will simply have to bring their own pumpkin. I've never attended a carving party, but I'm beginning to hear about them more and more, and I thought that it could be a fun way to get both the adults and kids working together and being creative. Plus, it's a great excuse for me to be able to whip up some fun Halloween treats. I have so many magazines filled with ideas for the cutest desserts, but who am I going to make them for? I don't have any children of my own and having dozens of baked good around the house isn't the wisest idea for someone following Weight Watchers. This way I'll revel in the joy of making them while getting to pawn them off on everyone else. Hurray! Hopefully this party will work out how I envision it!

Some small, but good, news...I ran a little this weekend. Saturday evening I decided I needed to get some power walking in before I got too tired. My house sits on a big circle, and I usually always stay on that route for my walks. Back when I was attempting to do the Couch25k challenge, the brief running intervals would cover about a third of the circle. Usually by the end of the 1-2 minute runs, my muscles were screaming to stop. Remember, my running skills are non-existent. So I decided to walk about four laps that night. On my final lap I decided to give jogging on pavement a little whirl with no program to accompany me. It wasn't a fast jog, but off I went. And I'll be damned, I was able to jog the entire circle. I was out of breath by the end (I don't think I understand how one is supposed to properly breathe when running) but I finished. I was so proud of myself. Only a few months ago, one third of that jog was a huge challenge, but here I was completing the entire circle. Powerful baby steps...

Yesterday, Sunday, started off with a lot of pep but ended pretty somberly. Football kicked off the start of the NFL season, and David was like a kid in a candy store. We went to watch the game at a place called Chicago Pizza, which we actually haven't done in a couple of years. We used to watch games there pretty regularly when we lived closer, but our house is much further away now. It felt good to be back there, even though the Steelers (David's team) suffered a brutal loss, putting it kindly.

Last night I caved and watched a mesmerizing documentary on 9/11. I usually avoid watching those kind of specials at all costs because they depress me, but last night I felt compelled to. It was two hours long and I was glued to the television just as I had been a decade ago. It was odd, because watching the footage, I was almost hoping there was going to be a different outcome. I was actually thinking, 'get out of the building' towards the firefighters who were going in as of they could hear me and follow my directions. As a result, I couldn't sleep at all last night. That day just gets under my skin in such an uncomfortable way. I can't imagine what it must feel like to have lost someone to such an evil, senseless tragedy. My heart goes out to all of those families. Such a sad day.

Alas, life goes on. Everyday.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Run, Katie, Run!

"I just felt like running..."--Forest Gump

It's September at last! This is my favorite time of the year. Despite living in hot and humid Florida, I think of the months of September through December as "fall". Well, technically this time of year IS fall, but we Floridians all know that fall here is a very different thing than fall in other states. I live in this delightful fantasy world where the leaves all turn yellow, red, and orange, and everywhere you turn there is the comforting aroma of fires crackling and pies baking. A girl can dream, indeed. Sadly I must settle for brown leaves and the aroma of my favorite "Fireside" candle from Bath and Body Works (which actually smells like a roaring fire). The pies, however, I can handle. Apple, pumpkin, it's in the bag, baby.

What I also love about this time of year is that the weather draws me outdoors more than usual. When you live with such heavy humidity most of the year, you tend to revel in being able to be outside and breathe the fresh air into your lungs and not have sweat dripping down your back only four seconds after walking out the door. When it cools down, I want to spend as much time as possible outside, even if just to sit in the grass in my front yard. It also gets my tushy outside and walking! Yes, exercise. My nemesis.

Clearly, when I put my mind to some things, such as weight loss, I go after it like a hunter. I weigh my portions, I journal, I do everything as diligently as possible. As long as I am focused on doing it, I do it right. Exercise on the other hand, is my downfall. I simply don't care for it, plain and simple. I recognize that it's a lazy quality I have and likely is a huge source of my problems with weight. I also recognize that somehow, some way, I'm going to have to find it in me to learn to like it if I want to stay on the path that I'm on and remain there.

When I was a kid, I was very active. My twin sister and I climbed trees, rode our bikes, played kickball, and shot baskets in the driveway just about every single day. I recall loving P.E. class at school, particularly when we did the 50 yard dash runs because that was where I shined. I never had the stamina to run for miles and miles, but in short distances, I was fast. Very, very fast. There was one girl in my class, named Mary, who was just as fast as me, and sometimes faster. Sometimes not as fast. But I was always determined to beat her no matter what. I regret not holding onto that drive when it comes to athleticism. If I had, maybe I could've been a high school track star. Or a college track star. Or just an adult with a better outlook on exercise and a more dedicated workout ethic.

My first time at the rodeo with Weight Watchers, back in 2004, I developed a good routine. I lived in a large, spread out neighborhood in St. Augustine that allowed for long walks in all possible directions. The streets made so many different twists and turns I could walk over two miles in a different direction every day to avoid becoming bored. I would come home from work, immeditately change into my walking garb, and head out the door. This was where I would do all of my meditating, thinking about my goals, my fears, my dreams; my peaceful time. There was no sprinting, no body shredding, just simple, fast walking. I was so dedicated to my simple walk that any friend that came to visit me was forced to go outside and walk with me. If I went to visit my dad in Orlando, I would find time to go walk near his home. The funny part is that I didn't start excercising till about 30 lbs into my weight loss. Getting to that point where I had to begin was the agonizing part.

Today, I am finding myself in the same boat. Last fall, I was doing okay. I was out walking in the evenings joined by my husband and some neighbors. I wouldn't say I was in turbo mode, but I was out there nonetheless. Then came spring, then the misquitos. Then the heat. More heat. Then the stifling, suffocating humidity. Ugh. I was done for. The towel was thrown in before I could even reach for it. It's a terrible excuse, using the heat as a reason to stop excercising, but that's basically what I did. Sure, I could've found all kinds of other ways to work out. The indoors offers loads of options--videos, wii activites, basic aerobics, all kinds. Did I do any of those? No. Why? I'm still trying to figure that out. When it comes to motivation to work out, I just don't have it. A girlfriend of mine says she has the opposite problem. She works out like a champion on a daily basis with swimming, walking, and zumba classes. But she tells me that her dedication to healthy eating is severely lacking and is her downfall. I've told her that if we could somehow fuse our brains together we'd be superhumans!! If only...

One thing I do take as a good sign is that at least I acknowledge that lazy part of myself. I know it's there and I know it needs to be tinkered with. I want to change and be more physically fit. I want to get off my butt and keep moving. It may take me more time to get there than it took me to get to eating healthier, but I have faith that I'll get there.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been walking a few days a week. Even in the heat, I've been forcing myself to do it. And what do ya know, it actually feels pretty good! I'm still not a "runner", although one of my fantasties is that one day I could be. David, my husband, is trying to work on me about that. He can run and run and run. He's competed in numerous races, from 5k's to half-marathons. The longest I have ever run in my life without stopping was ONCE back in 1998 on a treadmill, and it nearly killed me. No, I'm not joking. I would love to be able to run a 5k without stopping. We started to do that Couch 2 5k program last year, but that's what I was doing when I stalled out when the heatwave arrived.

I'm hoping to give it another shot, especially since I'm carrying a lot less weight on my frame than I was in the spring. Last night, we had to stop over at my in-laws house to pick something up, and I hopped on their treadmill while I was there so that I could squeeze in a 30 minute walk. I walked at a brisk pace for the first few minutes and then attempted to turn the speed up slightly. I began to jog. And jog. And jog. Before I knew it, I had jogged for almost the entire half hour. I couldn't believe it. I know it sounds kind of pathetic to anyone who can jog or run a mile like it's nothing, but for someone like me with no stamina and a pretty lousy excercise history, it was nothing short of miraculous. Even today I wish I was outside trying to run a little. It felt absolutely fantastic and empowering.

I've been planning to walk in a 5k on October 1st in St. Augustine with an old friend of mine. It's a breast cancer walk called Pink Up the Pace. ( All the proceeds go to breast cancer awareness education. All around it's a great cause and it should be a very inspriring walk. My friend has already informed me that she does not run, so our plan has been to just walk it. Maybe after getting this little push in my tush I can convince her to try and jog it a little. Who knows...

I don't know if I'll ever become a bonafide runner. I've honestly never tried to be one, so I have no history to fall back on in that department. If anything, I'd just like to be able to jog a couple of miles so that I can join David every once in a while.

But I'm gonna try. Just watch me.