3 comments 02 August 2009

Recently we decided to take the plunge (second time around) and buy a house. We have a townhouse now, and it has served us well, but it's time to move on (maybe). We do need a wee bit more space on one level. We found a house but we lost it - oh well. There were a few needling things about it, so it was not meant to be. Of course, we still talk about it fondly. I digress. We decided to sell our home and now we live in a model home. Our Realtor came in and re-arranged our furniture, had us pack up our clutter, brought in some of their own accents, and now we live in a model home. In the morning we make sure our pajamas are neatly tucked away, our bed gets made (this used to never happen unless guests were coming over), close the lid to our toilets, put all dishes in the dishwasher, close every door to every closet, tuck all the toys away (poor Elliot has trouble finding anything), pull up the blinds, open the widows, etc., etc., etc. Essentially, pretend like you don't live here. I am starting to wish we didn't, yet it does look so good that sometimes we think about buying it.

2 comments 01 June 2009

Did you have one as a child? I did. Maybe you have one now. I would get so excited when I would see the rapid-winged little guys outside fluttering away while sucking down some sugar H20. As I was browsing on Flickr, I came across this great photo of a hummingbird and a feeder. It brought back such fond memories (I think ours was just like this one!), so I decided I must have a feeder for myself to enjoy (Dale & Elliot can enjoy it too, of course!). So I 'did a Yahoo' (my attempt at supporting the company that helps to support my family) and could not believe how many hummingbird feeders there are out there for sale! Who knew there was such a market for these things?! Needless to say, I got overwhelmed by the choices and decided I would look into it another time.

4 comments 11 May 2009

Years ago when we were living in San Mateo I threw a surprise party for my husband's birthday (then boyfriend). I had been pretty last minute about the food and had planned to make a taco-spread - tortillas, guac, sour cream, beans, and chicken...luckily some friends were there to help me out! One friend quickly realized that I had no idea what to do with the chicken so she jumped in started throwing stuff in a pot and at the end was this delicious shredded chicken in a tomato sauce. I have never forgotten this chicken, it was amazing! It was reminiscent of this chicken they used to have at our college taqueria. I was never really able to replicate it, so I stopped trying and it has just lived in my fond-food memory bank ever since.

Recently when I was getting my hair cut (when I do all of my magazine reading) I stumbled upon this recipe in Cooking Light, Chicken Thighs with Olives and Tomato Sauce. Now this particular recipe does not dish up a fiesta, it's more of a Mediterranean dish, but it is saucy-shredded-goodness nonetheless. I used 1 1/2 lbs of chicken thighs and 1 1/2 lbs of breasts to reduce the fat (& 4 lbs seemed a bit much). I used some chicken broth instead of wine as I didn't have any white on hand. And go easy on the red pepper flakes if you have a little one around. We served it over rice and I even threw some in a high-fiber tortilla along with some spinach for a tasty lunch. This will be in our family recipe book for years to come, in fact we made it again yesterday!

6 comments 09 May 2009

For years I would watch people at my office go for walks on their breaks and it always sort of bothered me. Who are these people that have time to take a break and then show-off by taking a leisurely walk around the office complex. I hardly have time to go pee! So my first realization is that I am just jealous and resentful a) that they have a job that is so 'easy' they have time to take a break OR b) they have mastered work-life balance ... either way, I don't like these people! Until, that is, I realized I needed to become one of them.

As I was out roller blading in the glorious sunshine this morning I was thinking a lot about how else to burn some calories and take in extra oxygen each week. 1-2 days is not satisfactory to me. Since I am the drop-off and pick-up for Elliot each day, I cannot take an extended 'lunch' to go to the gym, etc. and still get in my 8-9 hours a day. I am not a morning person, so waking up early is not working out for me. I love to have dinner with my husband in the evenings, which leaves the 9 o'clock hour and that is not working for me either as I would rather be showering and getting ready for bed!

And so, during my skating session, I realized I should become one of 'those people'. I'll bring my 'gym shoes' to work and each day if I can escape for 15 minutes, I will. A friend at work already started trying to do this, so I will follow suit. And although it won't challenge my body much, it will still provide me that extra oxygen and stress relief that I also so badly need.

0 comments 05 May 2009

I'd like to think I stayed the same and possibly even lost some more, but the fact is I forgot to weigh-in today. I was meeting-hopping today for hour long intervals and when I had a free 1/2 hour I ran to Safeway to buy me some Garden Burgers, High-Fiber Tortillas & Mother's Day cards. When I jumped into my next meeting I thought to myself, 'Today is Tuesday, I didn't weigh-in!' I then proceeded to go to 4 more meetings, rush back to my office to grab my things and race over to pick-up Elliot. Here's to a healthy (and hopefully less hectic) week!

0 comments 29 April 2009

Movin' down - yay! I lost 1 lb this week! There is no way I will lose 14 more in 5 weeks, but I will finish this period out and make a new goal. My success was definitely due to exercise. I went roller-blading twice this weekend and it always proves to be quite the calorie burner. I know that if I can just get a few days of exercise in each week this weight-loss thing would be much easier. I will try for two days again this week and see how it goes. Have a healthy week!

2 comments 26 April 2009

A long while ago I made a commitment to myself to have more (or some) hobbies. I even made a declaration on my blog. How am I doing? I don't often take these moments to assess, but lately it has become more crucial to acknowledge the little successes in my life. Though I haven't gone on any photography excursions like I would have liked, I have snapped a few that I have been proud of and even got around to hanging one on our wall. I have yet to find the perfect coffee photo for our kitchen wall, but I continue to snap away and am confident I will be satisfied with one of them someday.

My cookbook collection has suffered. I managed to jump-start with some favorites I found on a great site, but the joy in collecting is discovering them at a garage sale, estate sale or used bookstore...and there has not been time in my life for those excursions...somehow I feel like my dream of becoming a master at garage sales will have to wait for retirement.

Another declaration I made long ago was to make one new recipe a week. Some weeks cooking at all is a luxury, but other weeks I have managed two great recipes (both on Sundays - a workin' Mom strategy that I will go into another time).

We have been having a lot of fun in the kitchen these days and here are some of my favorites that are full of flavor and pretty fast too!:

Spicy Curry Beef not really that spicy & Elliot likes it! I don't seem to have a picture of it anywhere, but it really is a favorite in our house.

Asian Concoction - even Brussel haters will enjoy this! Using low sodium ingredients is crucial otherwise it's too salty, tastes great over jasmine rice.

Good Excuse for a Margarita Meal:
Holy Mole Flank Steak (we threw it on the BBQ), Spicy Red Rice, & Garlicky Pinto Beans.

Not Your Mama's Italian Sandwich: make a quick tomato sauce (we recently tried the Quick Tomato Sauce from Cooks Illustrated and it was awesome!), marinate & grill some chicken (just used some lemon juice, olive oil & rosemary), toast your favorite roll with a slice of provolone, top with arugula and chow!

2 comments 24 April 2009

Our friends recently let us pluck some lemons from their tree so I have been making lemony goodness ever since. I started with a great lemon chicken marinade, moved on to Lemon Bars (yes, a little on the nose I know) and rounded things off with Lemon Cupcakes. So far I have had the best luck with the Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcake recipe, so I decided to modify* their recipe instead of taking my chances on an unproven lemon recipe. The results were lemony goodness that I had to share:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature {quick tip: if you are in a hurry, just put your cold eggs in a bowl of warm/hot tap water and by the time you are ready to use them they'll be room temp}
  • 3/4 cup milk*
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice*
  • 1 tbl lemon zest (use even more if you like it really lemony)*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

  4. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

  5. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

I also wanted the frosting to be something very lemony, so I borrowed this lovely lemony butter cream recipe. I used closer to a tablespoon of lemon zest, but if you don't want to pack quite so much of a punch try a bit less. Also, because the lemon juice is so acidic it took quite a bit more sugar to get the texture I wanted...next time I will do 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup milk so I don't have to use quite so much sugar.

2 comments 15 April 2009

I think Easter has just surpassed Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday (with my ultimate fav now being 4th of July, of course!). I have always loved Thanksgiving because it truly captured what is important in life - food & family (emphasis on the stuffing & pumpkin pie)! Easter was also a close second for the same reason, but now it has taken the lead by a stiff margin (I think that is sports slang). I love not feeling pressure to pick the perfect presents (pressure that is self inflicted). I love a reason to bake something special {this year Aunt Augusta's Sugar Cookies}. I love making baskets full of goodies that put giant smiles on kiddie's faces. I love spending time with family and friends (without the distraction of mounds of wrapping paper). I love spring - the air, the flowers, the green rolling hills. This year we celebrated Easter 4-times! Typically this would stress and tire me out - but not this year - I loved it! We had the best time and that is why I am going to torture you with the following photos:

with friends!

at home!

...with Dale's side of the family!

...with my side of the family!

I hope you found some special way to enjoy this holiday. I must pass along something funny that was said at one of my celebrations full of Catholics I might add - "Thank you Jesus for turning my water into a Margarita!"


Holding Steady, that's become my reality. There have been many 'reasons to celebrate' these days and I have not made the time to exercise. For that reason, I feel lucky to be holding steady. I think I may have to re-try early morning trips to the gym - ugh. With the beautiful weather, plenty of social engagements and weekend chores to contend with my weekend workouts have disappeared. Hmm, maybe I'll start tomorrow. We'll see. Have a healthy week!

0 comments 05 April 2009

0 comments 31 March 2009

No loss is a huge gain this week! I had so many social engagements this week...

Dinner with a dear friend who came to town, exquisite Peruvian food in The City
A Wedding, champagne and chocolate covered strawberries - oh my!
A Surprise Party to celebrate a the accomplishments of another dear friend - Baked Potato Soup with all the fixin's and Ice Cream Sundaes (with Hot Fudge AND Marshmallow Cream!)

These were all real moments worth celebrating! I accomplished my goal of not gaining- yay! I am not going to micro-focus on the fact that I have 9 weeks to go - yikes! I just need to step-up my game! Have a healthy week!

1 comments 24 March 2009

I did an unofficial weigh-in yesterday as I was tied up today and not able to make it "official" today, but it looks like I lost that pesky pound I gained last week. Today I am accepting the reality that with 10 weeks left to go, 15lbs is not looking likely. Of course, I am going to keep going regardless. I didn't make it to the gym this past weekend, but if the weather holds out I am inspired to do some roller blading this weekend and that should burn some major calories! Have a healthy week~

1 comments 17 March 2009

I was in a meeting at work recently where we discussed 'Community Engagement'. The dialogue was already well passed the definition of and had moved to the importance of, the value in, and the risk in not 'doing'. I have been in these discussions often, so my mind wandered. I wandered back to the definition of community. All my life I have interpreted the word to mean a group defined by a common interest or belief in something...a church community, neighborhood, etc. But in this discussion they were talking about people who lived within pre-defined boundaries. I started to wonder how many people in the room were like me. I live in one community and work in another (and I am not a distance commuter). I sleep in one and spend much of my awake time in the other. I send my son to school in the other (really it is daycare, but it makes me feel better to call it school). I shop in both, actually I shop in multiple others. I find myself engrossed in local politics in both places, but more in the other (naturally because I work for the other). I only vote where I sleep, those are the rules. The 'engagement' discussion that I zoned out of excluded me and my family, we were not who they were trying to reach. I realized that outside of a professional capacity I wouldn't be invited to any of their meetings and I must admit that hurt a little.


OK, I must admit I am starting to get discouraged. I gained a whole pound this week! I did not expect to lose, but I hoped to not gain either. Yes, we took a mini-vacation. Yes, I ate more than a typical week. But I really managed my portions and kept my 'splurging' to just 1 1/3 days (4 meals). I packed my high-fiber cereal and oatmeal to ensure we had a healthy to start to each day! I really expected to be much closer to 10 pounds as I approached my half-way mark. I am going to limit my dwelling to today and tonight and tomorrow will be a new day! I will get some exercise in this weekend and see you here again next week, hopefully reporting a loss! Here's to a healthy week!

0 comments 10 March 2009

I was quite sick for '13-weeks' but I am back and am moving in the downward direction, yay! I weighed in 1.4 pounds lighter today. I must admit I expected a greater loss then this since two-weeks have passed (and I couldn't eat for 2 whole days!) but I also haven't exercised in two-weeks either, so I'll take it! We are off for a mini-vacation this weekend so I'll have to find balance, hopefully some exercise will creep in to offset any extra calories consumed. Have a healthy week!

2 comments 24 February 2009

Well, I'm moving in the right direction again! Given the weekend we had .6lbs lost is about all I could expect. Even during celebratory times where we tell ourselves it's OK to indulge, that we deserve to indulge because life is too short to always be 'on a diet', I find I still lose weight. I think I indulge in smaller quantities with realizing it. Maybe it is because it is no longer forbidden and therefore no longer necessary to over do it. In fact, a few months back someone mentioned something that I cannot get out of my head..."You can have pizza again". I think in the back of my mind even when I am 'indulging' I realize that this will not be my last opportunity in life to indulge, so moderation is safe! As far as the small changes I have made, I have gone back up to my 'tall latte' instead of the 'short', but instead of 2 double-shorts a day (one at noon and the other late afternoon) I am limiting to one triple-tall latte in the mid-afternoon. This change reduces my caffeine intake by 1 whole shot, a 25% reduction in my afternoon caffeine intake - bravo!

4 comments 18 February 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

My Mom was born Febuary 18th, 1944. Today she would have been 65 years old. This picture was taken when she was in college. It's been 11 years since she passed away and I still miss her very much!

0 comments 17 February 2009

OK, I gained .4 lbs this week! I know it isn't much, BUT I was super on top of my game this week. It will remain a mystery. Nevertheless, I enjoyed a glass of wine tonight, reminded myself of the good choices I made this week amidst all of the pressures of pizza & birthday cake and am going to keep on keepin' on!

2 comments 10 February 2009

I lost 3.4lbs this week, yay! This weeks big loss is a result of last weeks strange gain, but I'll take it! And though it seems like big drop for one week, it really is just my body adjusting to the last few weeks of small ups and downs. I really needed this loss to keep me motivated so I can get through this next week. This next week will be full of social engagements and I will really have to plan ahead and watch my portions (my arch nemesis!).

I only made it to the gym twice this week, but they were good high-energy work outs. I even managed a delicious visit to an Indian Buffet and although I went up to the buffet twice, I managed to keep the piles to reasonable sizes which given my weakness for Indian food was extremely hard to do! I had a bit of a celebratory food day today which included a fair number if chips with a bit of salsa, but since it was 'weigh-in day' I have a whole week to make up for it!

Here's to another healthy week! Cheers! (sound of glasses clinking)

4 comments 03 February 2009

I am feeling a bit down, I gained 1.2 lbs! I really don't know what happened. I was very diligent in tracking everything that went into my mouth! It was even one of those weeks where I was able to bring my own lunch every day (no lunch meetings). I was very prudent with my points all week so that I could enjoy a special anniversaryry dinner with my sweet husband (we started dating 15 years ago!). I even stepped up my exercise because my crazy friend had a wild idea that we should *run* a 5 mile race at the end of the month (she really sold me on the idea when she mentioned that a pancake breakfast would be waiting at the finish line). It just doesn't make sense! My Aunt Flow did come to visit, but I just don't recall this presenting as an issue with past weight-loss endeavors. Well, I am not giving up! It is getting a bit more difficult to see how I will reach 20lbs in 17 weeks, but I am not going to stop trying. I know that I am also making positive changes in my life, and that has to count for something!

3 comments 27 January 2009

I lost 2.2 lbs this week!

I have to be honest, however, sticking with my 20lbs in 20 weeks goal it is a
total loss of 1.2 since I gained 1 lb last week. But that in no way takes away from my great accomplishment (that was meant more for me then you). I put careful thought into everything I put into my mouth this week and made sure to write it down afterward because I cannot trust my memory! I even attended happy-hour with co-workers and had only one Margarita (huge accomplishment), some chips (not the whole basket, another huge accomplishment), and just a couple of the appetizers! And although I only made it to the gym once this week, I did have a breakthrough. I managed to increase my pace and hit a 13-minute mile (which I realize is still a fast walk) and not increase my heart rate.

I treated myself to a Tall (not short) Black-Eyed Chai as a sweet reward for my diligence this week.

2 comments 25 January 2009

Meal time is generally fun in our house, with some limits. Today I decided to let loose and look how much fun we had (though you can't seem me, just know that I had yogurt in my hair)!

Note: I am aware that 'Where's your fingers/hands?' is not gramatically correct, however when you start with 'Where's your nose, mouth, etc.' you are just on a roll and 'Where's your fingers' comes out. I had to caption it truthfully!

5 comments 23 January 2009

The Story before The Story:

I was going to write a resolutions post, didn't get around to it. But a key component of that post was going to be about revisi
ting the past. I started down this trail as the year came to a close when I reunited with old family friends (more about that another time or we'll never get to the point of this post). These sorts of visits are difficult for me because I don't like to 'go there'. Inevitably my Mom will become a topic of conversation and it is still a topic I don't talk about very well. Anyway, I faced that fear and had a wonderful visit with dear old friends.

For similar reasons I generally dread going to storage because there are all these large pieces of furniture that I do not foresee ever fitting into our home, yet there they are collecting dust and I can't part with them so I just leave feeling conflicted and bummed. So when I innocently went into storage to find a particular photo of my Mom I wanted for our family room (I am working on a family photo display), I happened upon the past and I embraced it! I went rummaging through dusty boxes and came across all sorts of wonderful treasures that I didn't even remember were in there. Sadly the photo was not in the best quality and will not be able to be a part of our display, but here it is. I will find another one on my next trip!

The Story:

On my visit to storage I happened upon a box that had a stool in it that
my brother and I used to use as children. I forgot I saved this and was so excited by the timing because Elliot is just now starting to use a stool to reach the sink for brushing his teeth or to get up to his highchair. How wonderful that he can use the same stool I used!

Another box that I happened up had one of the most amazing finds of all...an entire box of typed-written short stories authored my Grandfather, Paul V. Sheehan (my Mom's Dad). Paul V. (as my Mom liked to call him) passed away when I was around 3 (I believe he was in his 60's). He was a Professor of Journalism at Fresno State from around the mid-1930 to early to mid-1960's. On the side he wrote, and wrote and apparently wrote
some more. My mom spoke of his short-stories, but somehow it got lost in my memory. It must have been a box that my Mom had in her storage shed that I just moved without really looking at because the writing on the box is hers. It feels like the first time I've ever seen these stories. I am going to see if I can find someone/someplace to scan them (page by page at home is not an option) to ensure they are preserved, but I cannot wait to read them in their glorious typewritten paper form! {Isn't the title of the one that was on top a little eerie?}

Some other noteworthy finds...my very first 'ATM' card known as a Versatel card, an authentic cassette tape, a grade school yearbook from when I was in Kindergarten, a box of paperbacks and one near the top was about MLK (strange considering it was days from his birthday as well as the Inauguration of Obama), a school assignment where I drew a pie chart of oil production in Asia (5th grade I think, I guess I was destined to be an excel super-user), an 'original' copy of 'I am a Bunny' one of my favorite books that I have convinced Elliot to love too (in a box with a ton more Richard Scarry books which might have been from when my Mom was a teacher, not sure).
And the final artifact that had me laughing and crying was a recipe that I wrote for my mom for Mother's Day when I was in the 3rd grade (I think):

6 comments 14 January 2009

OK, I am not exactly sure what happened here, but I gained a pound. I felt thinner, my pants felt better, I felt better and then +1 on the scale, yikes! I am not going to let it get me down, likely my body just went into shock and was just not quite ready to let it go yet and out of fear it held on to some of those calories. Except for the weight gain, it was a pretty good week overall. I made it to the gym two-times over the 3-day weekend! I brought my lunch a couple of days last week and even switched to short-lattes or chai's instead of tall ones. I am proud of the little changes I made this week and am sure I will be rewarded next week! {I am really trying hard with the positive self-talk} So what if there are now 21lbs and 19 weeks, I can still do it! Here's to a healthy week ahead!

Also, I was going to add a picture of a "scale" when I Yahoo'd "scale" to nab one from the internet and I discovered all of these pictures of steps, old ones that looked Italian (even before I noticed the Italian wording underneath the picture - ha!). I found an online translator and scale in Italian means a short flight of steps or a small stepladder. How appropriate! Sometimes journeys like this can seem arduous, but in all of my journeys of life so far (and those to come), this one really is a short flight of steps. Ciao!

P.S. Yay for President Obama!

6 comments 13 January 2009

I need a goal. Twenty pounds in twenty weeks, that ought to do it! Seriously though, enough is enough. I love to eat & eat and I have been riding on the coattails of pregnancy and motherhood for too long. You didn't do a very good job of keeping me honest the last time I made a declaration to change (over a year ago now!). But I know this time you'll do better, I'll do better. I was trying to take a picture of Elliot's shadow the other day and mine kept getting in the way! I have re-joined the Weight-Watchers program they have at work and though I don't care too much to sit around and share 'diet-woes' with co-workers, it's nice to be able to quickly weigh-in each week without having to drive someplace else. And having someone else weigh me (because of course I weigh every day at home) is very motivational. We quite have enough people signed up yet, so cross your fingers a few more straggle in, I really need this! Even though today was not the official start, I did 'weigh-in' and have my 'starting' weight, so here I go. And I realize 20lbs sounds like a lot, but is only 1 pound a week which is a very realistic goal. Wish me luck!

3 comments 11 January 2009

I know it is only 'natural' for 'grassroots movements' to hit the mainstream marketing scene. And I realize that it is an overall good thing that they do, but it can be quite annoying. I have been bothered by 'Natural' for quite sometime, but today at the gym when I saw a Pizza Hut commercial it sent me over the edge. Pizza Hut has a new 'Natural' Pepporoni Pizza, yes, 'Natural'. The crust is 'whole grain' and the sauce does not use any high-fructose corn syrup. Again, I know that overall this is a good thing that "unnatural" ingredients are coming to the mainstream consciousness, but it is still annoying. Seriously, I mean, what are they really saying about their existing product line? They are essentially admitting that the rest of their products are 'unnatural'. What is even crazier is that we buy into these labels of 'Natural' and the FDA isn't even really regulating that term. And as much as I am indeed a proponent of 'Natural', I think it is clearing being abused. And really, if I am going to eat at Pizza Hut I would not worry about it being 'Natural', it's Pizza Hut!