Thursday, May 29, 2008

The other day I found this blog by Gala Darling. She is into fashion, etc., and is totally fabulous. I love all that stuff, but haven't put any energy into it lately for various reasons. She inspires me to really go for it! Every Thursday she writes about the things she really loves and encourages others to do the same. I am in such a fabulous mood today, I love just about everything and decided that I would write about it too.

Things I absolutely love:
  • Fresh flowers - How can you not love beautiful flowers? They brighten everyone's day and make me smile whenever I look at them. I try to buy a bouquet for my desk each week. Today I spent a little more and bought orange tulips that have yellow lining each petal. They were closed this morning, but are beginning to open up as I write. I wished my camera was working so that I could show you how gorgeous they are. Maybe next time though.
  • My red ballet slipper-like shoes - They add a punch of color to my normal work wear.
  • Starbucks' green iced tea - I get up early each day so I can walk to the Starbucks before work and get my morning iced tea. I make tea at work and home, but this little routine starts my day off right.
  • Finding ways to reduce/reuse/recycle - I am always looking for new ways to "green" my workplace and I spent this morning taping stacks of printer paper together to use in one of those really old report printers. Little changes make a difference!
  • The Idiot-Proof Diet - Today was day eight and I have already lost eight pounds! I love the woman who wrote it because they are humorous, but honest, and have actually lost the weight themselves. They are not waifs telling other people how to be like them. They have done all the hard work.
I am going to stop now because I will seem way too happy for it to be natural.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Piggy to Twiggy

The other day mom and I were talking about how we both we needed to lose weight and that we should buddy up for the process. The discussion turned into an idea about starting a group where we would choose one idea to focus on each week, such as eating a fruit or veggie at each meal. Then we could all post how we did for the week and support each other, etc. So far at least ten people we know are interested, both in Illinois and California.

So last night I started a separate blog for my weight loss information plus our group stuff. My first day was today and I posted my embarrassing measurements. It needed to be done though, not only to encourage myself but also anyone else who is going to go along with it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Giving Can Be Tough

I know I said that I would not write about the 29 Day Giving Challenge on this blog since I am writing about it on their page, but there was something I thought would be good to share and that was that the challenge is harder than you would expect it to be. I tend to give books and magazines away once I have read them, I purge my closet constantly, plus I bake for people all the time. But even if you include that and the extra effort I am trying to put into it, the opportunities to give seem to be passing me by. Maybe I am just closed off and the universe isn't throwing my way? I am not giving up though! I still have twenty days to go and I will be calling the giving gods to me!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

This Calls for Drastic Measures

I woke up this morning and was excited to wear my new "My Dog Is a Rescue" t-shirt I recently bought from PETA. Maybe I just don't have the most exciting life, but I love little things like that. Rommel was getting all the laundry ready and I only had one pair of clean jeans, so I grabbed them. Guess what? They didn't fit! Well, technically they did, but I would be embrassed to wear them in public. I refuse to buy a larger size, I refuse!

I have always been "bigger" and I will be the first to say that I have gained a lot of weight over the last couple of years. I am an emotional eater and between my husband's health and my panic disorder, food has been an extremely big part of my life lately. If I am feeling depressed or worried, I go for carbs. But that's not the only problem with the way I eat and I know that.

As for exercise, I walk everywhere I need to go for daily things. I walk to work, the grocery store, Starbucks, even the pet store. We only drive on the weekends when we go to the farmers market, etc. I have been doing quite a bit of gardening too. But I need to do more than that.

Another huge part of the equation is stress. I am just one of those people who doesn't really have anything to be stressed about, but manages to be crazy stressed out all the time. That is a large reason why I am having panic attacks again and dealing with health issues such as TMJ (teeth clenching), migraines, and back pain. Stress causes you to put on weight and not be able to lose it.

But my clothes are not the only reason I need to lose weight. I have some health issues and my self esteem is pretty low when it comes to my body. It didn't help that my mother-in-law asked me if I was pregnant the other day, although it gave me quite a bit of material for jokes about my weight.

So I am going to come up with a plan this weekend with my husband's help and the doctor's input. No pills, etc., just eating right, exercising, and relaxation techniques. Hopefully this blog will help me stick to it when I am feeling tired or unmotivated.

So here is the part where I tell you my current weight. I honestly feel like I could cry putting it up here, but I need to do it. As of this morning I weigh 218 pounds.

Now it's time to get my butt in gear and lower that number!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Poor Little Fishes

I'll admit that I am more than a little depressed today because my fish are sick. Originally my 30 gallon tank became infected with ich when I brought home a few gourami and plants from the pet store. Six out of twelve fish died before I was able to get it under control with medicine, temperature, and water changes. Now my 10 gallon tank is infected. I have no idea how I could have transferred the parasite from one tank to the other, but I must have somehow unless it is just stress that caused it. I only have four fish in the 10 gallon tank, three mollies and one huge goldfish. The goldfish is called Battle Tank and the poor thing is so ill. He just floats around near the top of the tank. I know he has a lot in him because he is eating and zips around when the other fish pick at him, but I still feel horrible. There's just not much you can do to make them more comfortable besides change the water and add medicine. Other than that all you can do is wait to see if it gets better.

I learned not to buy fish from a certain pet store chain, but unfortunately it was at the expense of my older fish.

Update on the fish - I had to separate the mollies from Battle Tank, but now they all seem to be doing a lot better. The signs of ich are disappearing and they are more lively.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

29 Day Giving Challenge

First, I wanted to tell you about this challenge I signed up for yesterday. It's called the 29 Day Giving Challenge. Each day, for 29 days, you need to give something away. It doesn't just half to be physical objects; it can be time listening to a friend who needs to talk or even saying hello to a stranger on the street. There are so many ways to "give" to others. I am really excited about the challenge and have already found several ways to give today. I am hoping that I can change the way I think about somethings and be more mindful of my intentions.

I am writing about the experience on the challenge website, so I will not write about it here, but you can read my posts at

Me in Hyper Drive

Sometimes I get in these crazy moods where I feel like I need to get twenty million things done in one day and actually try to accomplish them all. Yesterday was one of those days.

As soon as I got home from work, the list began to form in my head and I raced to check off each and every item on it.

  • I made cookies for a friend who made a donation to the Wags 'N Whiskers walk for the Glendale Humane Society that I participated in a couple of weeks ago with my dogs. I wanted to thank her and I knew homemade oatmeal cookies would be the perfect way to do that.
  • I made a new batch of laundry detergent. I try not to use any cleaners with chemicals, etc., and it only takes a few ingredients and a few minutes. It cleans just as well, if not better, than the store-bought detergent and I can add any scent I want.
  • I made dinner early so that when I crashed from my manic phase it would already be done.
  • I planted the two potato vines in the backyard. They have these tiny white blooms on them and will look so amazing when they start to cover the chain link fence.
  • I fertilized and watered all the plants.
  • I cleaned Ziggy's cage (canary) and then moved on to the two aquariums in the house.
  • I went through this huge pile of paperwork and junk mail. I shredded what I could and set aside the rest to file later.

At this point in the evening my husband walked in the door and asked if I was ready for dinner. I told him to let me take a quick shower first. I seriously started wind down and after a few minutes under the warm water I was so tired I even forgot to rinse the conditioner out of my hair before getting out of the shower.

After evenings like that I realize that I need to try and only do one task at a time. The list will get done eventually and if something doesn't, then it wasn't a priority.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Leaky Pipes & Bare Walls

When I first moved to California four years ago, there were quite a few things that took me by surprise when it comes to housing and the way people live. I found it really strange that most houses didn't have basements and even fewer have a backyard. Most houses have bars or grates on the windows and they all have steel doors, even in the safer neighborhoods. I know I grew up in the midwest and this is coming from a girl who lived in an unlocked house with a huge backyard and a creepy basement, but I still don't understand a lot of the Californian-way.

But the one thing that is absolutely unbelievable to me is the idea of gardeners and handymen. My mother-in-law pays a gardener to basically do nothing at all. We don't really have a lawn and I take care of the flowers, etc., yet there is still a check under the doormat each month. Whenever a problem arises or she wants something done in the house, she goes to call her handyman even though she has two adult sons. The handyman has painted a few walls, changed the doorknobs, and replaced the bathroom faucets. Sadly, none of it was done very well.

I watched my parents do all the work that had to be done on their house themselves. Everyone I knew had a family member or a friend who was handy and could fix things. You didn't pay someone to do a job when you are completely capable of doing it yourself. $100 to change a doorknob! I don't think so! $200 to paint three small walls in the bathroom! No way!

So when the kitchen sink pipes began to leak, I cringed at the idea of paying someone to replace them. I checked out a few sites on the internet, browsed a plumbing do-it-yourself book, and asked the guys in the plumbing department if I was buying the right materials. A few hours later, it was done and I only spent $30. Plus there is the satisfaction of knowing I did the work and if there is a problem in the future, I could do it again.

To date I have finished a lot of odd jobs around the house. I am extremely proud of the ceiling fan I installed last weekend. ( I will say that I consulted someone in our electrical department because the wiring was crazy old and I was afraid to get shocked.) My mother-in-law is in awe each time I tell her about what I did, even though she usually mentions that we should have called the handyman to do it.

Maybe people just don't want to spend the time to fix the pipes, etc., but if my husband and I did that every single time, we would have working pipes and no money to pay the water bill.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Movies ruin books!

Rommel had to work late last night, so I decided that I was going to veg most of the evening. I placed the cages I bought around my new tomato plants, watered all the flowers, and made sure all of the animals were taken care of for the night. Then I took a quick shower, grabbed a bowl of pasta, and sat down to watch PS I Love You. I was really looking forward to watching it all week, but I kept wondering if I would like it since I had absolutely loved the book.

I was so upset with the changes they made that I fumed about it all evening, which is totally ridiculous. Forget that they moved it from Ireland to America or that they seriously altered one of Holly's love interests, it was the changes to her family that upset me the most. In the movie Holly's father left when she was fourteen and her sister is a wacky character that you don't really care that much for, but in the book her family is wonderful. Her parents are together, she has supportive brothers and sisters, and they all keep in close contact. It wasn't that her family wasn't nice in the movie, but they weren't as lovable; you didn't necessarily want to be part of that family.

It's funny how much a book can mean to you and that even as a reader you feel protective of it.

I suppose from now on I should only read the books after the movie or not at all.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever

Before I even began building my raised beds for the backyard, I decided I wanted to grow some strawberries. I read that one of the best ways to grow them was in a hanging basket because the bugs will not be as bad and they will not rot from lying in the soil. Luckily the garden department at the hardware store where I work had two small strawberry plants. They had been there for quite a while and not in the best shape, but I figured I would try one anyway. I hung it up on the front porch where it would get plenty of sunlight and cared for it everyday by picking out any dead leaves, etc.

After a month a few small white flowers appeared. I was so excited and I'll even admit that I did a little dance because I hadn't killed my plant. A couple weeks later there were tiny green berries and not long after that I had strawberries! I picked four ripe berries last week and have picked others here and there. I will admit that there are not many strawberries because it is a small plant, but it is so nice to be able to walk by it and if there is a really nice looking one, I can pick it and eat it right on the spot. The only pest control I use so far are lady bugs and organic worm castings as fertilizer, so there are no chemicals on it. I still rinse it off, but I could eat it right then and there if I wanted to.

Here is a picture of my strawberries. This plant will send out shoots that I can place in other hanging baskets for new plants and soon I will have all the strawberries I can eat!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

New Endeavors

Let me just get it off my chest - I LOVE the Barnes & Noble that is a few blocks from my house. I love getting my favorite iced tea, sitting down with my book, and relaxing. I love watching people go about their lives when I look up from my book. I love finding new books to add to my list when I browse the shelves. And it was just so convenient. I never had to move my car from the street parking I fought so hard to get. I could just walk over after work and read for a hour or two before Rommel came home from work.

Sadly, my B&N has moved to a new outdoor shopping center. I could drive there, but the traffic is crazy since the place opened. Honestly, I could even walk, but it's not really worth it. The new store is so sterile and unfriendly, plus it is in the middle of a hundred seriously expensive stores. It's just not the same.

When I heard they were moving a month ago, I knew that I needed to find another way to spend my time after work. I could search around for another little coffee shop, etc., but I figured this was the chance to find something new. So I decided to start gardening more.

I have always enjoyed fixing up our front yard, which my mother-in-law pretty much ignored before I came along. At first I just cleaned it up, but over time I have put more and more energy into it. There is no crazy landscaping or anything like that, but I added containers full of lavender and placed mulch over the patches of dirt. I am learning things as I go and always finding ways to improve the front yard, but right now it is mostly just maintenance, so I am moving on to our backyard.

The backyard is a rather sad place that only our two dogs seem to enjoy. It receives full sun all day and nothing but weeds will grow in the desert-like soil. In the middle of summer, even the weeds die and just leave a wasteland. It took three years before I even wanted to try and work on it. My husband wanted a nice area to enjoy the evenings, so we amended all the soil, planted grass, and placed a few large planters with flowering bushes along the fence. Needless to say, the grass never sprouted, the bushes died, and we never enjoyed an evening out there.

I wanted to be prepared to start gardening when we came back from vacation, so I started a couple of weeks before we left for Oceanside with my family. I built three wooden boxes for raised garden beds. I wanted one for flowers that I could cut whenever I wanted, one for vegetables since I am interested in sustainable living, and one for my tortoise, who needs to start spending more time outside. I painted them with Linseed Oil, which will keep them from rotting too soon and won't leach chemicals into my veggies or Daisy, the tortoise. I also attached a weed barrier to the bottoms of all three and chicken wire to Daisy's. Rommel helped me move them into the back and fill them will good soil and compost.

Now I am back from vacation and ready to throw myself into this project. I have already finished a few little things, which I will write about in a later post, but I have a huge list of things I want to do, such as a composting center.

I am probably getting ahead of myself, which I usually do when I get really excited about something, but I am trying to take smaller steps so I don't run into any major obstacles and give up. That's part of the reason I am back on my blog after not posting for months. I wanted to keep a record of what I have done.