Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Quote Day

Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.

~ Johann von Goeth

I'm sure I've said this before, but … DUH!

But then that's how most quotes affect me. I read something pithy and wise said by someone [usually] famous and go, "Wow! I coulda had a V-8!" Or the equivalent thereof.

Today's quote works for sooo many situations, including:
  • Food choices
  • To snack or not to snack?
  • Time spent working out
  • Workout activities
  • Hell, whether to work out at all!
And, of course, today's quote also works when the day ahead looks like a mountain which must be climbed, or else.

This much I know: Everyone responds better to a soft word and a kind heart. I not only need to apply this, I need to be willing to apply it.

I'll get around to working out consistently when life settles down. Which should be, oh, sometime before 2009.

I hope.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

To blog or not to blog

Late in a week during which this post was linked to from both DietGirl and Elastic Waist – heady company, indeed – I find myself with very little time to write anything for newcomers to read.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I spent much of the past couple of weeks with his mother [who was finally released from the hospital yesterday], and I will be taking yet another blog break beginning Sunday, one I'm very much looking forward to, as it will mean spending time with my younger and newest granddaughter.

How do you bloggers with jobs, families, workout routines and other interests manage to keep up the blogging pace? I'm fortunate to not work outside my home, my children are grown, I have two easy-to-manage dogs and a husband who knows how to [mostly] take care of himself. Oh, and I like to knit. When I have time.

Knitting was, at one time, an all-consuming passion. I'm sure my children were, at times, thisclose to committing me. My interest in fiber arts has slowed down considerably; three or four [or more!] hours of knitting daily has shrunk to maybe an hour in the evening, while watching the news and Jeopardy. [Oh, my, don't I sound old?]

And workouts? You haven't read much about running or weight-training or rowing lately, have you? I ordered and received the new cable for the rowing machine more than a month ago, but have I installed it yet? Nope. If I had the camera handy, I'd post a photo of the envelope containing the cable, still sitting on the rowing machine waiting for repair.

The dumbbells made it all the way to Florida and back, on the floor of the back seat of my car, where they still are. Actually they're probably under the seat by now. Have I looked for them? What do you think?

The Garmin – a much-coveted running tool and one I'm thrilled to finally own – has accompanied me on exactly one run since its delivery. ONE! Granted the weather has been pretty sucky, but still. There've been at least a couple of nice, run-outside-worthy days in the past month here in the Middle of Nowhere, but I've been otherwise occupied.

I'm looking forward, someday, to life settling down again. In the meantime, I think I may need to take a time management course.

When I can find the time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I love butter

I know it's rather heretical to talk about butter on a weight-loss blog, but hear me out. I'm one of the [probably] few 'dieters' who still eats real, honest-to-goodness butter. I've flirted with margarine over the years, and even took a turn around the dance floor with Smart Balance Buttery Spread.

But I always come back to butter, for at least a couple of what I think are very good reasons.

First, it's a natural food product. No chemicals, no preservatives, just cow's milk churned into buttery goodness. My butter package lists two ingredients: Pasteurized cream and salt.

Second, there's very little waste. The butter on my grocer's shelf is wrapped in paper, four sticks to a cardboard box. I grew up eating margarine, which was presented in little plastic tubs with lids. I swear my mother saved every one of those containers; they would tumble out of the cupboard every time you opened the door. One company even made their bowls from a fairly heavy plastic. We ate cereal and ice cream from those bowls, which are probably still sitting in the landfill in my childhood home town.

Third, of course, butter tastes great!

And finally, like parmesan cheese, it doesn't take much to satisfy. With butter, a little bit truly does go a long way.
A pat on an English muffin, two on a baked potato, a little melted butter on a bowl of popcorn – just enough to give you that yummy mouthfeel. Molly McButter just can't compete.

Besides, if you use too much it'll stain the front of your shirt. Ask me how I know. Heh.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

After all, tomorrow is another day

Woke up with a slightly elevated temperature, which was back down to semi-normal by noon, when the power went out.

Three hours later the sun popped out for a second, long enough for me to post this, and then the heavens parted. Celestial choirs didn't sing, but the rains came, heavily. I look for the power to go back out again any minute.

As today's title suggests, I'm channeling that scrappy little Scarlet O'Hara.

Manana, y'all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday mishmash

Remember last week when we were talking about habits and excellence and housework and meal plans? [Thanks for your comments – nice to know I wasn't the only one who grew up having meat loaf on Wednesday and fried chicken every Sunday.] My Google home page has a sense of humor; this was yesterday's Quote of the Day:

Another year of Oscars has come and gone; this is the first year in a long time I've actually seen any of the nominated films. Of course I wanted the ones I'd seen to win; alas, the only cheering from the Middle of Nowhere was for Diablo Cody, who took the award for best screenwriting [Juno].

It's not a whole heck of a lot of fun watching the Academy Awards with Mr. Shrinking Knitter. I'd much prefer to be my daughter's sous chef, helping her prepare party food for two days prior to the big night and then keeping the platters full during the telecast while she and her girlfriends dish about the designer dresses. She didn't keep the tradition going when she changed states a few years ago; I forgot to even ask if she decided to have a party this year. [Did you?]

Shrinking Knitter thinks the whole 'who are you wearing' and 'doesn't she look divine' patter is "silly." He "doesn't get it." But since he'd seen the same nominated films I had, he was at least mildly interested, and we now want to see Michael Clayton [currently on Pay-Per-View, how handy is that?] and No Country for Old Men.

Oh, and my favorite dress was definitely Cameron Diaz's. With Helen Mirren a close second. And I hope Ellen Page keeps making movies for the rest of my life.

Since this blog is the Shrinking Knitter, how about some knitting content? The three Big Bad Baby Blankets for the triplets are finished – washed, dried, all the ends have been woven in and clipped off.

I only wish I'd made them a teensy bit larger. They're 28 inches square, which is the size the pattern said to make them, but they look just about big enough to cover a car seat on a chilly morning; nothing more. For future reference, if you're going to make a baby blanket it ought to be at least three feet square. In my not-so-humble opinion.

In addition to a Tiny Kroger, we also have a Tiny Hospital here in the Middle of Nowhere, which is where Mr. Shrinking Knitter's mother has spent the past week. [Tiny Hospital has 30 patient beds, maybe, and if you're a child or pregnant you have to go somewhere else.] ] Yesterday she was transferred to Larger Hospital [but still relatively small] in a nearby town, one with a pulmonary specialist who, we hope, will be able to knock this respiratory infection or bronchitis or whatever she has for a loop. Hospitals really are no place for sick people; she's been declining rather than improving all week.

Since Larger Hospital is about an hour away [as is everything here in the Middle of Nowhere], I probably won't be writing much for the next couple [we hope] of days. I'm taking advantage of this early-morning window of opportunity to fill up your Google Reader and I hope my stats won't fall too far if I miss a day or two.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Quote Day

"We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act,
but a habit."
~ Aristotle

And so is, ummm, non-excellence? That would be failure, wouldn't it? Heh.

When you think about it – and why would you think about it, anyway? – our daily lives are just one habit after another followed by another. The morning ablutions, the grab-and-go breakfast, the route you take to work, when you eat snacks/lunch/dinner, evening activities, getting the coffeemaker ready for the morning and, finally, doing whatever you do to soothe yourself to sleep each night. Me? I read.

Without those habits, life would be pretty chaotic. Habits help keeps us organized and on an even keel; they also help us get things done.

Since I don't work outside my home, my workout happens in the morning, and that's one habit I don't want to have to change. I like getting it over with and then getting on with the rest of my oh-so-boring day: laundry, anyone? How about cleaning floors? Or bathrooms?

Once the weather warms up a bit, I'll get back into the strength-training habit. Right now the garage is f-f-freezing and I'm just not interested in torturing myself. I think my fingers might freeze to the dumbbells. Seriously!

When I was a child, my mother had a weekly menu that she followed. I don't remember the days of the week, but I remember that once a week we had fried chicken, meat loaf, some kind of awful stew thing, sloppy joes, etc. I'd kind of like to get into that kind of habit. Maybe a two-week rotation. With Mr. Shrinking Knitter home 24/7, I'm cooking dinner every night and it's been kind of challenging to come up with something new! delicious! nutritious! every night. I need to make a note of the things we really like and come up with a plan.

Do any of you have a set meal plan for each day of the week, or was that a '50s thing?

Thursday, February 21, 2008


It's gotten all the way up to 30°, after an overnight low in the mid-teens. My fingers are freezing as I type.

I finally got an e-mail back from the CMM people; their fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. I thought that meant I couldn't transfer my registration to another person, which it does, but it also means I can't transfer it to another Elite racing event. I don't think I have anything going on in early September, but heck, it's only February. I guess I'll wait a little while before I plunk down the cashmoneybucks for the Philadelphia race. I intend to go, but I want to be a little closer to the magic day before I commit.

The trouble with a fall race is that training in the summer is brutal. Or at least it was last year. But since I'm going to be much thinner and fitter when I train for Philly, I'm sure it'll be a piece o' cake. Heh. Cake. Yummm.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter's mother has been in the hospital since Sunday night and she seems to be getting worse instead of better. I'm kind of afraid to go visit. I've managed to not be sick at all this winter [can you hear me knocking on wood?]. As soon as you get off the hospital elevator all you hear is people hacking and coughing all up and down the hallway.

She has bronchitis, which isn't supposed to be contagious. Even so I stand as far away from her as I can when I'm in her room. I'm sure she thinks I'm being rude. I'd rather be rude than sick.

Thanks for all your feedback about switching races. It really does make the most sense at this time. Since the triplets' dad is a runner [he's the one who inspired me to get back into it], I'm sure there will be lots of races for all of us in the coming years.

Well, if my knees hold out, that is.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

You may have noticed …

a decided lack of weight-loss/running content here in the Middle of Nowhere lately. I think I've mentioned that I'm only going to report weight changes the first of each month. Or as close to the first as I can. I wasn't here the first of February, won't be here the first of March and might not be here the first of April. I love Mr. Shrinking Knitter's retirement!

As for running content, the last really good run I had was in Florida, and that happened almost three weeks ago. Needless to say [but I'm saying it anyway] my training for CMM isn't going so well. Mr. SK and I decided that since the triplets could come any time from mid-April to late May, and we don't want to be away from home when the announcement comes, the best thing would be to cancel the spring race and sign up for a fall one.

Philadelphia, here I come! I haven't actually plunked down the cashmoneybucks yet, but I do feel somewhat relieved to have made a decision.

I'm hoping I can switch my Nashville registration to Philadelphia, thus eliminating the need for the plunking down of more cashmoneybucks. I've e-mailed to see if that's possible, but I haven't heard back yet.

The Middle of Nowhere isn't the best place to train for either a spring or a fall race – too cold/snowy/icy in the winter, leading up to an April event, and too blasted hot in the summer, preparing for an autumn race. Oh. Well.

The other cool thing about not doing a spring race is it gives me more time to really work on weight loss, something that tends not to happen during training. You'd think that if you were running an average of four miles a day, week after week for four months, you might lose a pound or 10. That hasn't happened for me. But not training has resulted in a modest weight loss so far this year, and I'll take it.

So that's what's up with that.

I ate an evening snack last night, for the first time in quite a while. It won't become a habit, I can assure you, but it was fun to act like a "normal" person and have a bowl of popcorn while watching election returns.

Isn't that what the rest of you normal people do? Heh.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Despite how I sounded yesterday, I don't envy the mother-to-be having to live on a couch for the next 10 to 12 weeks. I feel like I should apologize for my remarks; if I sounded insensitive, I truly didn't mean it.

No run or walk or anything physical yesterday. [Well, I did unload the dishwasher and managed two loads of laundry.] I was pretty wiped out, and ended up napping – yes, napping! – and then kind of moving around like a zombie because I'm not accustomed to napping.

I hope today will be a return to some kind of normal. Also? I hope it snows, because I'm still kind of wiped out and I don't want to go get my hair cut. It was supposed to precipitate overnight, but it hasn't started yet. It's much colder, though, so any kind of workout will have to be on the treadmill.

My brand-new Garmin will think I don't like him/her/it.

I'm still working on the backlog of unread blogs I missed over the weekend. One of these days I'll be all caught up again. Probably just in time to take another trip. [There are two on the schedule for March.]

Who knew Mr. Shrinking Knitter's retirement would keep us so busy?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy President's Day!

How completely unoriginal is that title? Heh.

Our little getaway was terrific. We visited Mr. Shrinking Knitter's son and daughter-in-law, who are expecting triplets this spring. Late this spring, we hope. The later the better. Mama-to-be looks so good and so healthy. She has a great attitude about having to, basically, live on a couch for the next three months. [She's on bedrest for the duration.] We really enjoyed spending time with them.

What's your idea of heaven? Well, I decided having triplets might be mine. You have to eat between 3500 and 4000 calories daily, and you're not permitted to exercise. What could be better than that? Heh.


I'm really tired this morning. These road trips are finally taking their toll, mostly in my very sore lower back. A good walk will help, and it's fairly warm here in the Middle of Nowhere today, so I might even try it outdoors. I should be able to walk between the rain showers. Tomorrow it gets cold and is supposed to snow and winter returns. You need to make hay while the sun shines.

Or something like that.

B&N didn't have the book I wanted in stock, which is just as well, because I'm not nearly as excited about reading it as I was when I first learned about it.

I'm so fickle.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Quote Day

This cracks me up. In much the same way that Crash Davis cracks me up when he asks Annie Savoy, "How come in former lifetimes, everybody is somebody famous?" [Has it really been 20 years since that movie was released?]

I collect quotes in a file on my computer, but they're all quotes from quote lists or quote sites. I have several books of quotations, but I rarely peruse them looking for Friday Quote Day fodder. It's easier to just cut and paste from my computer collection.

And reading or hearing a good line and then writing it down? Never happens. My daughter has been doing it for years and has an impressive notebook full of handwritten wisdom.

She didn't learn that from me.

I've a feeling the six-word memoir book might provide some inspiring quotes. I'll be in a big city over the weekend – blog break alert! – with a little time for shopping opportunities. I hope B&N has it in stock. For once I don't want to wait for delivery from just to save a little money.

Back on Monday. Y'all behave yourselves over the weekend.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thin? Rich? I'm working on health.

What an interesting concept.

This post's title is my six-word memoir for today. Subject to change, of course. Who knows what it will be tomorrow? I'm going to look for this book this weekend; Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I will be out of town yet again, and I'm sure there will be time for at least one bookstore stop.

Since it's Valentine's Day, and most of us here are trying to reduce our waist sizes rather than expand them, I offer a virtual sweet snack to all of you, with my thanks for helping me keep on keepin' on throughout the past couple of years. You're the sweetest!

There's plenty of room in the comments for you to add your own six-word memoir. 'Cause I'm nosy like that. Heh.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This is sooo not Cambell's soup

Looking for a warm, filling and healthy soup for a cold winter's night? Try this, which was inspired by a recipe in the February, 2008, issue of Real Simple magazine. Mmm, mmm, good!

Chickpea and Sausage Stew

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
5 links chicken-asiago sausage [or any flavorful sausage], sliced
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
8 oz. dried chickpeas, cooked and drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large bag fresh baby spinach leaves

In a large skillet, sauté the onion, garlic, celery, carrots and sausage in the olive oil until vegetables are soft and sausage is browned. Remove from heat.

In a large saucepan, heat chicken stock and tomato paste. Add cilantro to stock along with chickpeas. Add vegetable and sausage mixture from skillet and simmer all ingredients until flavors are blended. I simmered this soup for about two hours, but it could have been ready in half an hour.

Just before serving, add spinach leaves to soup and stir until spinach is wilted.

Serves 4-6.

Serve with crusty warm bread; offer herb-infused olive oil for dipping.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

If a tree falls …

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I noticed the wind whipping up Saturday night, and it continued to blow hard all day Sunday. We went to church, then out to dinner, then came home and holed up the rest of the day.

Imagine our surprise when we ventured out yesterday and found this down our road on the piece of property where our pond is:

That tree is at least 30 feet tall, and has been there 30 years. It is one of several – maybe eight or nine – standing majestically along the edge of the road. That only one of them toppled is quite a mystery.

This is about as exciting as things get here in the Middle of Nowhere.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Still digging …

Not much going on around the Middle of Nowhere. Still working on reducing the office clutter. Perhaps I should work on reducing hobbies, as well. Stuff for hobbies takes up lots o' space. How many years do I have left, really, to make polymer clay buttons? And I keep adding new hobbies – at least with photography it's all digital and the only space I'm taking up is on my hard drive.

I ran not at all this weekend, but here's the interesting thing: I've actually lost a couple more pounds. [There I go again, jinxing myself.] It's very weird to see a new number on the scale almost every day. It was up today, but we ate out yesterday and, like M@rla, restaurant food and I don't get along.

So here's what I've been doing, foodwise, since we got back from sunny Florida. I came home with fresh citrus, and have been eating either half a grapefruit or a whole orange in the morning. Sometimes I add a string cheese, but not always. I follow that with whatever exercise I'm going to do that day and then I have some Greek-style yogurt with a handful of trail mix afterward. [I ate the last of the yogurt today … sob!] This keeps me satisfied until dinner.

Did you read that? A small bowl of yogurt and trail mix satisfies me all day! Unbelievable.

Dinners have been reasonable amounts of whatever healthful thing I feel like fixing: black bean soup, pasta primavera, broiled chicken, etc., and I don't eat anything else after dinner.

I'm going to keep up this regimen the rest of the month, as much as I possibly can. [There will be another blog break this weekend so Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I can visit the triplets' parents-to-be.] Hopefully I'll continue to see losses in the next couple weeks and will have good news the first of March.

If I didn't jinx myself. Heh.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Progress photos

It simply amazes me how busy I am now that this trip is over. Anyway, I finally got around to taking February's progress picture and then making the January-to-February comparison photo. Ta da!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know … le même vieux, mêmes vieux [I'm typing that with a French accent.]

Mr. Shrinking Knitter says my face looks thinner, but I think he's just trying to be nice to me. Now that he's home all the time, and can actually see the effort I put into this old weight-loss project, he realizes exactly how frustrating it is for me. When he was working out of town, he said he knew how hard it was, but he didn't really. So his saying nice things is good. Whether he means it, for real, for real, or not.

Due to the absolutely lovely weather we had yesterday, the Garmin got its inaugural run. We did 3.5 miles at an 11:54 pace. Total time: 41:45. I'm delighted with this new toy, especially the little map that shows up when I download the data to my computer. How cool is that? But even a fun new toy couldn't get me to run any faster than I did. Lots o' walking breaks. It was fun to be outside, though. Might get to do it again today, if I run between the raindrops.

Just in time for Valentine's Day, here's an online candy heart generator that will let you write an entire sentence, spread out over three hearts. Be sure to scroll down to see the candy they're selling, as well. What a hoot!

Hope your weekend is full of fun. Back on Monday.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Quote Day

"What does not kill me
makes me stronger."

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We've probably all heard or seen [or said] this quote – or a variation thereof – at some point in our lives. Jimmy Buffett used a variation of it effectively in "Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On."

This week of travel, organizing, purging, and moving stuff feels like it's about to kill me, but I keep telling myself it'll all be over soon and the end will justify the means.

Same thing with weight loss, isn't it? Except it's never over.

I know there are many lurkers out there who read this drivel. Have any of you lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off effortlessly for any length of time?

If you've had to expend a great deal of effort, has it been worth it? I can only guess that the answer to that one is "yes," or you wouldn't still be working at it.

I haven't had much of an appetite this week for some reason, resulting in not much of a struggle to stay away from food. I wonder two things:
  • How long will it last?
  • Is something wrong with my stomach?
Isn't it interesting which one is first. Hmmm.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Moving Day, Part Deux

I've spent some of this dreary day moving the computer equipment yet again. Thus, no early-morning post. Not posting first thing today is a prelude to switching to evening posting. I think.

My computer system includes a tower, a large CRT monitor, a keyboard, two printers, a scanner and a variety of other smaller peripherals plugged into a couple of surge protector strips. And a hub, since the tower doesn't have nearly enough USB ports.

The office is 25x30 feet, the east wall of which is almost all countertop mounted on a variety of base cabinets. The computer and its attendant accessories used to be on the right side of the counter, and I felt like they kind of assaulted anyone who opened the door at the top of the stairs. Everything is now on the left side of the counter, certainly not out of sight but at least not the first thing you see when you enter the room.

I still need to get a printer cart. The two printers take up a lot of valuable real estate on the countertop, and I think having them out of the way would be good.

What remains to be done, in the way of organizing stuff around here, is culling crap from filing cabinets and figuring out where the rest of the supplies in my old office can live in the new office. That'll take some time.

And, finally, once we have an empty room in the house again, we'll be able to create a nice, cozy little den. I'm looking forward to that.

I'm also looking forward to a longer run tomorrow. I ran out of gas on the treadmill this morning only a little over two miles into the run. Temperatures should be warmer tomorrow and I might get to run outside with my new friend.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Good to be back

Sort of.

As we traveled north, what I missed seeing was color. Florida is one colorful place, from the moment you cross the border and receive your free sample of orange juice, to the blue-blue sky, to the blood-red sunsets, to the riot of tropical colors in the architecture.

West Virginia? Not so much.

Really, it is good to be home again. The dogs were beside themselves when we fetched them from the kennel. I hate leaving them, and I'm sure they hate living in a crate – albeit a large one, and with plenty of outdoor time – for a week. Having them home again makes leaving the sunny south worth it.

My weight stayed the same, despite conch fritters, shrimp scampi and my dad's good cooking. The food prize of the week was finding Greek-style yogurt at a Publix near our hotel, which I ate for breakfast every day I was there.

The other food prize was going to a grove to buy oranges – honeybells are in season, and I got some red oranges, as well. The grove store had a large selection of sugar-free products, so I picked up some marmalade to try. I hope it's better than Smucker's. Heh.

Did I run? Yes, I did. It was great to run a long, wide loop instead of the usual out-and-back routes I take here in the Middle of Nowhere. I did 4.6 wonderfully flat miles Wednesday and Thursday and 8.25 Saturday.

Saturday started out good until I caught the toe of my shoe on a curb and went sprawling on the sidewalk. I have several battle scars to show for it – right forearm, left knee and the palm of my left hand, where I broke the fall. Didn't break any bones, though, and the blood/pain was minimal, so I kept going.

I lifted my dumbbells from their storage place in the garage to the floor of the car and that was it. But I got a lot of those 16-pound – now 17-pound – curls because my son, his wife and their daughter were able to join the reunion for the weekend. Her great-grandpa was thrilled to meet her, and my son went to a lot of effort to make it happen.

My dad's doing well. Thank you for all your good wishes for his health. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I tried not to wear him out, but he was so eager to take us places and so willing to do the driving that we couldn't say no.

I probably won't get through all your blog posts from the last week. Hope it was as terrific for you as it was for me.