Coffee with Friends

July 2010 005This post was inspired by Back Home Blue.  Those of you who click over will see first-hand that the JLC really does have some of the most delightful women in the world!  She’s droll, sweet, confident and sometimes sassy, and she’s also a podunk native with the cutest Yorkie-boy terrier.  I hope you’ll love her – and Knox (the dog) – as much as I do.

The premise – as I understand it – is I’ll post as though we were hanging out, chatting over coffee, tea or whatever, just a couple of friends catching up on life.  I might even let you use one of my favorite mugs – blue, in honor of sweet Sarah of BHB!

If we were having coffee (tea, a glass of wine, whatevs), I’d tell you…

  • Evidently, I don’t look in a mirror much during the day, because I’m really not sure what color my hair is, but I like it.  In fact, I think it kinda’ matches the furgirls, from back in the day before Sissy started fading out to not quite white.
  • Sometimes, you don’t know how precious family and traditions are until you have to skip one.  While we missed going to the farm because I had a migraine, it was nice to have a good chat with my aunt this evening and know that we were missed too.
  • I have a rather disgusting fondness for Reeses Pieces eggs.  They’re roughly twice the size of regular Reeses Pieces, so that means more peanut butter yumminess.
  • Maybe I’d serve Tazo Zen, a lemongrass and spearmint green tea.  I have some every single day, plain.
  • I’d ask you to click and give a free book to a child, because reading is as natural to me as breathing and it breaks my heart that not all children have access to books.
  • And after a while, I’d get restless and ask if you’d like to go for a walk… or maybe shopping.  Does hair color change what colors I can wear around my face?  I mean, I know it makes my eyes pop…

What would you share?

Hair-brained

UntitledSo, I had a regularly scheduled hair appointment last night.  I think I’ve been using the current stylist about a year, maybe more.  I trust her, we have a friendly rapport and I told her I was too blonde and something had to give.

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Neither of these photos are accurate.  The top left selfie was at 10  pm last night, after my appointment.   The right photo was taken outside in cloudy conditions, and is too orange.  There is a copper glow, but not THAT much!

We arrived at this hue after a lengthy discussion.  That’s one of the things I like about my standing, Friday evening sessions.  She’s a night owl engaged to a musician, and I am not in a hurry to get to anything, so there’s time to strategize before the work starts.   I had gotten too blonde for my liking (see here), but I also didn’t want to just glaze it on back to my natural blah brown.  Interestingly, on my laptop, the photo on the right is representative of the auburn highlights my natural color gets when I spend a lot of time in the sun in the summer.

Neither photo includes any make-up.  Maybe Easter family time will yield some good photos.

Have you ever made a wild swing in your hair color?  Any advice for the new redder me?

There’s a word for that

I’m all about making up words – SNOL, furgirls, PANK… but evidently, there’s already a word for “kinda’ vegetarian when it suits me.”

Flexitarian – According to About.com,  “Flexitarian” is a term recently coined to describe those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat. Many people who call themselves “flexitarian” or “semi-vegetarian” have given up red meat for health reasons while others, for environmental reasons, only eat free-range or organic animals and animal products.

Now… this girl isn’t giving up squat, but I was a pescatarian (didn’t eat land animal flesh) for a while many years ago, until I sincerely dreamed about a nice, rare filet mignon night after night and finally realized that I just couldn’t do it.  And I have followed a pescatarian when convenient diet ever since… right up until Marjie shattered my world with the announcement that shrimp is high in cholesterol.

Pescatarians on the hunt – not by choice… as long as you don’t count the prescription rabbit kibble era.

You have to understand…  I am the product of farmers.  My mother’s people, on both sides, farm and have farmed since the beginning of time, as near as I can tell.  My father’s grandfather was a gentleman farmer back when it wasn’t cool and trendy to play in compost on your days off, and while I lack that gene for spending hours on the tractor or nurturing little seeds into edible goodness, I got a double-dose of the pass me some fresh produce, straight from the chicken coop eggs, and by all means, I’m okay with looking my protein sources in the eyes.  (My apologies to those who aren’t…  Good for you.  My once-removed cousin with the chicken houses DID assure that I am incapable of enjoying chicken without worrying about growth hormones and free range, etc.)

Of course, I credit my farmer-relations with my ability to enjoy tofu too.  My uncle by choice (or by marriage… but as he put it years ago, marrying my mother’s sister made us kin, but we’d choose to claim each other even without that legal union) was farming soybeans long before I’d found Tofutti in my grocer’s freezer.

But don’t look for me to begin haughtily announcing I’m a flexitarian;  I still have enough trouble explaining that Episcopalian isn’t a medical condition.   No, I think that as much as I love silly words, I’ll stick with just dodging red meat most of the time, because I was also raised to feel it’s rude not to eat what’s put in front of me, or to ask non-life threatening questions about my food.  (I’m allergic to scallops, so there is a time and a place for said inquiries, and I can issue a “NO – LEAVE IT!” with such authority that even a food-driven basset draws back.)

I shared the mango-edamame salsa recipe a few posts back, but now, I’m in search of a … four-bean? salad?  Garbanzo, red, black and green, with some red onion, cilantro and …  I ate it all, so I have only my fond food memories to help me.  It seemed pretty similar to the traditional three-bean salad, but … better.  If anyone can help a gal trying to flex more and meat less, it would be awesome!

And in other almost healthy food news, did you know that gluten-free (homemade) chocolate chip cookies are basically ALWAYS chewy, not crispy?  My friend used Alton Brown’s Chewy Gluten Free recipe, and since dogs can’t have chocolate anyway, there’s no need to substitute around the corn starch for Sissy.  They aren’t close to low cholesterol, but as long as I don’t eat shrimp with them, I’m going to say it’s fine.

Don’t hate me, but with no other changes to my routine (well, add in extra stress, but evidently, only Sissy’s eye problems and my mother’s death are stressful enough to stop the eating), I’ve dropped nearly three pounds in two weeks.  I’m pretty sure I’d heard somewhere before that high fat diets aren’t healthy…  hem.

Saturday Scramble

Oh, the things we’ll do to avoid doing the taxes…

And yes, I realize I’ve put them off about as long as I dare.  Just as soon as I finish this post, I’ll go update the software, walk the dogs and then buckle down.  The taxes are just a symbol of how life is going right now.  If it isn’t on fire or otherwise an emergency, it isn’t getting my attention.

 The girls are peering up under the bridge across the little creek, and that’s a good image for how it goes in the woods of late.  I ran hurdles in high school track, and that’s how I’m managing things right now.  Eyes forward, leap while the brain is calculating when the next leap has to happen…

I do have a few things to report though, and for another photo of the girls in the water and an update on them, click here.

Firstly, coconut milk “creamer” doesn’t cut it.  I can do plain cream and an artificial sweetener or flavored syrup, but the vegan “creams” don’t come close.  I’d rather just do 2% milk and sweetener, to give you some idea?  I am drinking less coffee and more green tea though, so I figure my reduced consumption of “fake creamer” that way is perhaps win enough.

Relay Foods is my new friend.   There’s a pick-up location nearly every weekday that is close enough to on my way home that going to the grocery store is a thing of the past.  See above; I need time-savers and stress reducers, and I find the Knight’s turn down every aisle at strolling speed version of grocery shopping just about the most stressful thing EVER.

Do you Relay?  If so, please share your favorite finds.  Locally, they partner with Whole Foods, so I have a good idea of what’s available, but they also partner with local small businesses – like the tea source I didn’t have a clue about that I walk past regularly when I’m downtown.

1948054_10152302295495792_1403944811_nNext…  I’m pondering a return to nearly natural hair coloring.  I thought I wanted to go blonde instead of grey, but the most recent photos of me are too brassy, and I have a great colorist, use filtered water and quality hair products to wash…

Granted, I know I look awful in black and the lighting is horrible in this photo, but you get the idea.   Am I tilting at windmills?  Should I just use one of those cover the grey temporary colors that’s closer to my natural, medium-to-dark brown?

(And that cutie was Kids in the Kitchen vice chair.  She really is so petite that I am a few inches taller!  I’m looking forward to watching her develop as a JLC leader.  She’s smart, direct and a very hard worker… and always has that big smile on her face.)

Okay.  This isn’t taking care of the taxes or the dog walk.  How goes it in your part of the world?

 

 

Beauty, balance, creamer and crow…

… I can’t drink my coffee black.  REALLY long-time readers might remember that up until that Christmas Eve a few years ago when I told the Knight I wanted a Keurig just because he needed SOMETHING for that insane holiday habit of his (last-minute shopping), I didn’t like/drink much coffee at all.

v00660I still am a tea-drinker.  I love tea, and am trying to work green tea back into the rotation.  If you have a favorite green tea blend, please share.  Sadly, my tea cupboard is lacking in the greens these days.  However, for my morning commute, I brew a 16 oz. travel mug of coffee and slosh some non-dairy, flavored creamer in it.

For those following along… that’s not lower-your-cholesterol-diet-friendly stuff.  In fact, I got rather turned off reading about the lard that basically is non-dairy creamer.  Ick.  Does anyone splash soy or almond milk in her coffee or tea instead of the good ol’ moo juice or the … over-processed but yummy gunk?

I love stumbling upon new blogs/products/recipes/shoes…  oooh, shiny!  (Shocker… wild crows don’t collect shiny objects.  Who knew?!)  If it sparkles, I’m distracted and want it.  So, while my brain is fried from another busy week at work, book-ended by firehouse elections and some League meetings at night, I’ll toss a few more nuggets from bloggers who are capable of stringing together coherent thoughts in a rather grand fashion.

I found Cranky Fitness through Fit Bottomed Girls.   I’ve mentioned FBG before; they have a very realistic, supportive approach to finding one’s one healthy lifestyle groove.  Cranky Fitness’s link happens to be to her give-away, because that’s how FBG introduced me to her AND because I know y’all are readers and many of you like some non-fiction reading too.

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Young adult me, supported by my grandmother circa 1990

As a bonus, Cranky introduced me to The Great Fitness Experiment’s post on the cure for not being good enough.   I was blessed to grow up with plenty of folks assuring me I was awesome and the world was my oyster, and I’m not sure I’ve lacked self-confidence more than a few isolated moments here and there, but that doesn’t mean I’ve never looked in the mirror and thought or said mean things I would never even THINK about a friend, just to give one example.

Again, those of you who read here regularly know I don’t believe in coincidence, so it’s not by chance that while I’m sitting here with my feet propped up, wishing I wasn’t so drained on a lovely spring evening, I tripped over these two blogs, these two posts.

Here’s something a lot of you don’t know about me.

I’m a fraud.  One of my theme songs might be “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” and definitely, Miranda’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” suits me.  (If you didn’t click over…  Go and fix your make-up/girl it’s just a break-up/run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady…)

Life is hard, but for me, it’s harder when I wallow.  For me, balance comes faster when I pull up my bootstraps, hide my crazy, and smile.

So… yeah.  Life is hectic.  But I landed on my feet and can honestly say I’m now in that really special place where the adage “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” applies.   I broke one of my golden rules and brought work home this week.  I forfeited a snow day because our shop is running VERY short, and I knew my co-workers were going to brave the weather, so the least I could do is go the extra mile with them.

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The JLC Holiday Parade 2011

Likewise, being an unintentional two-term president of the small but fierce JLC hasn’t been a picnic at times either, but the rewards have exceeded the personal cost.  I’ve missed some sleep.  I probably have risked frost bite with those parking lot meetings after the meetings.  I’ve had to trust the Knight to take care of Sissy’s eye drops FAR more often than I’d prefer, but see her post; she’s her sassy, fine self, and she and her Dadaw both survived a triple-purpose trip to the vet today.

BUT…

Here’s one thing I’ve learned over that two-year journey that is coming to an end; appearing unflappable isn’t always a good thing.  I had a crying jag after a 2000 mile round-trip sprint to deal with my mother’s final arrangements – and snow in the deep South?! really?! – and informed the Knight that just because I wasn’t a puddle of mess, it didn’t mean I didn’t need support.  Other women are watching me cope and juggle and do it all, and I was honestly chagrined for all the wrong reasons when one of the women I’ve worked with in the League at the highest level for YEARS now was shocked to hear a dirty word escape my lips, under my breath, just last month.

Sorry Nana; I wasn’t embarrassed BECAUSE she heard it, but rather, because I thought she knew me better than that.  Come on, folks.  I do try to be a class act, but I work in the fire service “service industry” and was basically raised by an old Marine/former fire chief/mechanic.  Do you REALLY think I say (or think?!) “darn!”?!?!?

Anyhooooo, the point of this ramble is that I’m going to continue to fake it ’til I make it when life is hard, because it works for me.  I’m happiest when I’m problem-solving and making the world a better place, but that works for me because I have the Knight and some of the best friends ever, with whom I can be snarky and critical.  It’s how I vent.

Well… that and logging Sissy miles, and miles.  Even on a bad walk where Sissy has pulled like a freight train and Gretchen Greer has bounced all over like a paddle ball, I get home feeling restored and ready for the next round.   My faith is renewed when I’m in nature.  There’s just something about being in the woods – or on the beach – that puts it all in perspective for me.  (Go endorphins!)

Scatter-shot

This is just a quick, drive-by post.

Do you have broken windows?  (Click over… they’re more akin to pet peeves than shattered glass.)  For me, it’s missing a wog – walk-run – with the dogs due to circumstances beyond my control, having a cluttered front porch, hand/fingerprints on doors and walls, not finishing my to-do list at work…

I have an FO (finished object for non-knitters), but no photos.  Stand by.

I have read several books and am lost in Trenton, NJ at the moment.  So far, I’ve been unable to make myself sick of Stephanie Plum and her zany friends and relations.  I think it’s because I can relate.  I remember the first time I told my father I was going to be a writer.  His dark mocha eyes twinkled and he said, “It’ll have to be fiction, even if it’s biographical; no one would believe it was true.”

41MA5cxy7xL._SL190_SY246_CR0,0,190,246_I wear a size larger in Sanita clogs than Danskos.  Oh… and when I say clogs, I always mean closed-backs.  These are shinier and sparklier in person.  My idea of a great pair of shoes – or boots – is when the Knight and my (male) co-workers say something obnoxious about my footwear.  Maybe that’s why I like our “guest” technician; he seems to genuinely appreciate my slightly flashy choice in shoes.

51OM+b6ku+L._SL246_SX190_CR0,0,190,246_And speaking of boots…  I might have snagged another pair of Ariat boots.  These are kiddo sized, and they fit perfectly.  Ariat boots really are built for all-day wear.  I’ve tried to explain to one of my co-workers that my “wooden clogs” and my “stiff boots” support my feet well and aren’t just a fashion statement.

Yeah, they’re PANK and calf-hair leopard, and they’re ridiculously comfortable, right out of the box.  Now, if the snow would GO AWAY so I could wear them more…

And I still owe you a CAbi post too.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Oh – and you absolutely have to try this recipe.  A friend brought it Sunday night, and even though I thought I hated mango, I shoveled it in, maybe even with both fists.  Eating well doesn’t mean suffering… until I think about the good ol’ days when I ate shrimp two times a day sometimes.

What’s new with you?

 

Lean, Not Mean

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The gene pool, 1970s version

That’s my new dietary motto.  I learned last week that my cholesterol is high.  Not drastically so, but (hem, hem) nearly double what it was last time I had a physical (more coughing… over 2 years ago).  Given that both parents likely died of heart attacks (father, definitely; mother, presumed), I need to take this seriously.

Ironically, an Arbonne friend invited me to join her on a detox that will start tomorrow.  I opted out, in part because I’m not good at extremes, I know my limits, and my brother inlaw sells Avocare and it seemed silly to pony up for a program when another company’s products are waiting for me to pay attention to them.   Just the same, I know I need to start paying close attention to what goes into my body.

Trying looking up “cholesterol-lowering foods” or something similar.  You won’t find any concise answers.  Of course, even if you did, you might want to visit Marjie’s post about a healthy heart diet by trusted sources.  The fact is, even the experts don’t agree.  I’m a huge advocate for personal management of one’s own healthcare anyway, but this is ridiculous.

Oh, my doctor-friend and I had a good laugh…  I hate chicken and neither of us cook fish in our homes because of the lingering odor.  I’m already on a high-protein, high-fiber diet, because of pre-existing health issues, so eliminating … fat? cholesterol? more stuff makes this quite the circle-jerk.

I was all set to simply say farewell to butter (except in my baking) and consider cheese a delicacy, and I already live on seafood, white pork, and the rare (pun intended) beef indulgence.  I thought I had a plan… until Marjie gently broke the news that shrimp is ridiculously high in cholesterol.  Now, see above… the experts can’t agree on that either, but I’ve decided that shrimp can no longer be my go-to “meat.”

I don’t know what’s ahead… other than due diligence and finding some healthier options.  Anyone do a plant-protein milk replacement in her coffee?  On her cereal?  I only eat cereal on the weekends, and to humor the pundits, we had oatmeal this morning.

What about tofu?  I don’t mind it in curries or some soups.  I certainly can’t dislike it much more than I do rubbery, dry chicken, but save the ground turkey advice.  Been there, done that and … no one got anything positive out of the experience, much less a tee shirt.

I did a no-animal-flesh version of vegan a few years ago and didn’t mind at all… until I began dreaming about the perfectly grilled, rare filet of beef.  I don’t eat pork too much either.  I love smoked bacon and good Carolina barbecue, but living on a pig farm that had a barn fire… well… let’s just say there’s a reason I kinda’ backed into not eating meat for a good while.

Eggs?  I won’t miss them much at all.  As with butter, I want them for baking, but I can wipe them off my personal consumption list with relative ease.  Sure, an egg sammie is awesome now and then, but I’ll be just fine with an egg substitute “mug” with some veggies tossed in.  Frankly, eggs without cheese have little meaning for me.

Photo courtesy of The Bit Block

Photo courtesy of The Bit Block

The post title?  I get mean (insert a female dog synonym) when I don’t get enough protein in my diet.  I thought doing high fiber AND high protein was a juggling act.  This is like the Wii Fit juggling game where you’re balancing on a ball while juggling…