Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Looking ahead to a good year in 2012. My resolution this year is to USE my vacation time from work. I was so busy this past year I only took a few days of vacation time, and though getting paid for the unused time is nice (hello, yarn store!), time off is nicer still.

Let's face it, I'm not irreplaceable - they can get along without me for a couple of weeks!

I always enjoy reading the newspaper recaps of the year, so I thought I'd share some of mine with you.

As you no doubt noticed, I have done far fewer blog posts than in past years, and less sewing as well. My life at work has been particularly busy. We are gradually switching to electronic medical records. Once the process is complete, life should get easier. For now it is anything but easy!

As we retire old paper records to be shredded, we find that though one piece of paper barely weighs anything, hauling armloads of paper up the stairs is a good workout. You can't believe how much paper I have handled this year! And that's not the hard part. All this change is mentally challenging.

Though I haven't had much sewing time, I can always find a few minutes here and there to knit, and have made quite a few pairs of socks. Only one pair has fallen victim to second sock syndrome, and remains unfinished. The yellow lace socks take a lot of concentration and my knitting time is pretty distracted. I feel good that I can turn a sock heel while participating in a conversation and having a cat on my lap. Knitting lace is another matter.

We are happy to have taken care of some major home improvements this year. Our part of the world has exceeded all records for rainfall since record keeping began, by over a foot of rain more than any other year. The water damage to our roof and porch were what prompted these tasks, and it's very nice to have a dry house during all the rain.

I finally found a raincoat - yay! It is pretty and purple, and makes me look remarkably like a 55 year old woman. I don't feel like a 55 year old woman, but the calendar doesn't lie.

Larry and I so enjoyed the three days we spent in Saugituck, Michigan again this year. We loved walking barefoot in the water along the lake shore for miles and miles. Forgetting to take the camera was kind of a blessing - it was nice not to worry about it getting wet or damaged. Climbing to the top of Mount Baldhead (the largest sand dune in the area) by way of 300 stairs was very cool, and skittering down the other side was a blast! We give thanks that our aging bodies allow us to enjoy these activities which make life such fun for us.

Wishing all the best to you and yours for a happy and healthy 2012.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Keeping it off - what works for me.

Have you ever said to yourself, "My pants are getting tight. They must have shrunk in the wash." Or walked by a mirror in a department store and thought, "That mirror makes me look fat, it must be at an odd angle." Or caught a glimpse of a fat person walking toward you, and it turned out to be your own reflection in a shop window?

Or - and this was perhaps the worst - given your spouse a hug and he said, "We're quite an armful." Realizing how it sounded, he continued, "I said we, that means both of us.

That was what did it. I wanted no part of being "quite an armful". The pants didn't shrink. After being washed once a week for a year, did I really think they were going to shrink now? The department store mirror wasn't lying. It was my own friendly mirror at home that lied. It never caught me by surprise - I knew just how to stand in front of it to look less fat.

So what to do now? I had dieted lots of times, successfully, if a temporary weight loss can be considered successful. I had done Weight Watchers, gleefully reaching my goal weight. I had kept a food journal, also successfully reaching my goal. What happened next was the problem.

"Oh good! I've finished my diet." were the worst words I could have uttered. The old habits came back gradually until I had gained all the weight I had lost, and more. My healthy weight at 5' 7" is 130 pounds. My "armful" weight was 178 pounds. 48 pounds from a couple of years of bad habits. 48 pounds! One stick of butter is a quarter of a pound. Doing the math, it comes to the amount of fat in 192 sticks of butter spread out over my body! I could see three of them dangling from my upper arm, and I don't like to think of the 12 or 15 around each thigh. That unattractive double chin contained several tablespoons of fat.

I knew how to lose weight; I'd done it before. I needed to find a way to keep it off.

I know myself pretty well, having had 55 years to get acquainted. I know I'm not good at groups. I can always think of a reason to stay home. I'm also on a tight budget, and groups nearly always come with a price.

I did need a few tools, starting with a food journal. Not a 98 cent steno notebook where it's too easy to rip out a page when I've had a piggy day. I use a bound journal, and my first one (this time around) was a lovely dark green suede book with lined pages. I couldn't waste that beautiful book even if I did eat six cookies in one day.

I write down every meal, every snack, every sip of anything that isn't water. These days it is easier than ever to keep an accurate food journal. Every packaged food you buy comes with the nutrition information right on the bag, box, can, jar, or bottle.

I started out interested only in calories. You read those labels often enough, and you start noticing other things: sugar, sodium, carbs, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and US RDA.

When you see the lovely display in the produce section of your favorite food store it all looks and smells so good. Beautiful mounds of oranges, apples, bananas, grapefruit, pineapples, grapes, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and more. These are really food! They don't come in packages with labels saying one orange has 89 calories, 2.2 grams of protein, 100 mg of vitamin C, 69 mg of calcium (really? in an orange? who knew?) and 330 mg of potassium. That information is all available online, but I use my very favorite cookbook of all time, LAUREL'S KITCHEN by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey.

My copy was a gift from Larry (you know, the "armful" guy) for our very first Christmas as a married couple, in 1980. It is a vegetarian cookbook, and though we are not vegetarians, I use it all the time, mainly for the nutrition tables in the back of the book.

It tells me that a peach (if God made something better than a peach, he kept it for Himself!) is 38 calories. A peach! Juicy and delicious and only 38 calories. It contains 1300 iu of vitamin A, 200 mg of potassium, and even has 9 mg of calcium. You can really get caught up in those nutrition tables.

Of course we all know that part of God's grace is variety, and not every peach is 38 calories, any more than every sweet potato is 160 calories. To get an accurate count you need a food scale that measures in both grams and ounces. I bought mine online for about $20.

When we have sweet potatoes, spinach, and cottage cheese for dinner, I love to share with my family that these colorful and tasty vegetables we are eating are powerful foods, not to mention a very easy dinner to prepare.

I'll share more another time. This is how I lost 48 pounds, and have been able to keep it off for a few years. The bad news? It didn't happen overnight. The good news? It works! The reason I'm sharing? It's 3:00 in the morning and I woke up hungry. I could hear a corn muffin calling from the kitchen. I diligently wrote it down, bringing to mind the question - which day do you write middle of the night eating in? If it's after midnight I go with the next day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Blessings!

Wishing all the best to you and yours as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!
I give thanks for my wonderful family. Here is a photo I took last Sunday when my brother, Peter, and I were visiting our mom. Peter and I have seen more of one another in the last year than in all the previous 30 years put together.
God's handiwork often inspires photography! I love when I see that Suzanne, all the way on the other side of the world, is inspired to photograph the sky the same day I am!
So far I've made 29 bibs for the patients who need them at the nursing home where my mom lives. This one is my favorite!

Wishing all the blessings of this wonderful (and busy!) season to you and yours. I'll be knitting socks and finishing up a few sewing projects.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Warm fuzzies

Aren't these the funniest mittens? The procedure is called "thrumming" and you just knit some roving (unspun wool) into your mittens at intervals, leaving it poofy on the inside for added warmth. I wore them for the first time today, and my hands were cozy warm. They are far from perfect, but I like them just the way they are. Warm!
When we walked Mom to the dining room on Sunday evening, they were temporarily out of bibs. The tired old striped terry bibs with worn edges were all in the wash, which gave me a splendid idea. I happen to have a bit of fabric on hand, so I decided to make 45 bibs for the patients in the memory unit.
When WalMart was closing their fabric department a year and a half ago, they were selling it all for 75 percent off. I had no idea what I would do with horse fabric; I may have been thinking of another I Spy quilt. It makes a nice bib!
This is printed quilt hexagons, looking for all the world like someone painstakingly pieced them. I'll have more to show you soon. I have some excellent rooster fabric I'm going to use next.
We inherited three Christmas cactuses from a friend who died, and we already had the one I show every year. This is the first to bloom - such beauty!
Wishing you the best, as always.