Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Feast 2013

It’s new year’s eve, the last day of 2013.  Usually this is a time for one to reflect on the year past, and think about what to do differently in the new year ahead.

But not for me.  Not today.

I’ve already done all that reflecting.  I have marveled at 2013, at how much change I’ve endured, at how far I’ve come, how much I’ve progressed, how much my thinking has changed.  The things I’ve accomplished, the friends I’ve gained, the friends I’ve lost.  I’ve looked back at this year’s journal entries and laughed and furrowed my brow and even got a little teary-eyed.  I’ve even patted myself on the back a little and thought to myself that I’m a pretty good writer.

But today, I’ve had enough of that.  And tomorrow, there will be plenty of time to look forward to the year ahead.

Today:  I FEAST.

Typical new year’s eve fare in my house includes lots of slutty food.  Today is no different.  And no, it’s not really an effort to say goodbye to the dairy and carbs I will miss starting tomorrow; no, it’s nothing like that.  It may appear that way on the surface, but I promise, this year’s feast is all about cooking for my cookbook.

This year’s menu includes brie and crackers (because I picked up my favorite wedge at Wegman's last week); pizza dip; bread dip; BBQ weenies; and lemony cream butter cake.  Think it's enough?  I mean there’s only two of us, three if you count my daughter who will likely scrunch up her nose and say “I don’t wike it” to most of the offerings; we don’t really need anymore than that.  So we will have plenty around to nosh on tonight if anyone feels like popping in and joining us.

(Side note:  My daughter loves brie.  She couldn't get enough of it at Thanksgiving.  Mama so proud!)

But I’m excited.  I’m excited to wrap up this round of cookbook cooking and spend January going through the photos and working on the layout of the new book.  Yippee‼

I’m also excited, as you know, to start Paleo tomorrow.  Also, it's pretty much decided - my dog is going Paleo with me.  That should make for some interesting blog posts.  I'm going to do some before and after pictures of her too.  I found a website called Philly Cow Share where you can not only buy an eighth of a local cow for yourself that has been grass-fed and loved its whole life - but you can buy a box of organ meat.  Organ meat is supposedly the most nutritious raw meat you could feed a canine.  It's $80 for a 26lb box.  Is that a deal?  Damned if I know.  But I think it's worth trying, especially when I'll be stretching her diet further with fruits and vegetables.  I think I can make 26lbs of organ meat last for the month, and if we notice an improvement by the end of January... well maybe we will all just love our dog again instead of wrinkling our noses up at her because she stinks and yelling at her to stop scratching every 5 minutes.  Poor thing.  (She really does stink though.  She had a bath last Sunday before Christmas and by Tuesday she was stinky again.)

You know how the other day I was thinking I couldn’t put my finger on what all I was excited about?  I think I found another thing.  I think I’m totally stoked that all my recipe planning and grocery shopping lists are already laid out for me.  That’s actually something I love doing every week, but it’s kind of nice that I won’t have to do it for the next four weeks!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Some Final Pre-Paleo Thoughts

You guys, I am SO excited about going Paleo.  I don't think I've ever been so excited about a change in my diet.  I wasn't this excited when I joined Weight Watchers.  I wasn't this excited when I spent months depriving myself of different things.  I wasn't even this excited when I started clean eating.

Why am I so excited?  I'm not really sure.  I can't put my finger on it yet.  Maybe it's because there's a part of me that feels like the Paleo way of life just makes sense - and therefore, it will actually work.  Do you want to lose weight and be healthy and all that good stuff?  Well eat the good stuff.  It's the same thing that's been drilled into our heads for ages now.  And all the bad stuff out there about corn and grain and carbs... I'm starting to believe it, at least for me.

When I started clean eating in September, I cut pasta out of my diet.  Boy did I miss it.  I didn't crave it, really; I just missed it.  I love a big plate of warm saucy pasta.  Since September, I can count three times, maybe four tops, that I've had pasta.  And each time afterwards - my stomach makes weird noises and I feel sick.  And not just for a little bit - like into the next day.  Pasta also gave me heartburn on two occasions.  Now that never happened to me before, ever; only when I cut it out of my diet.  You know what else happened?  I started breaking out, and bad.  My skin is a hot mess right now.  My eating habits were plenty good right on through November, but I hit December and on came the sugar, the cookies, the cooking for my cookbook... and my skin blew up, and my stomach was not handling it well.

So many physical reasons so far to be excited about going Paleo.

As my mind was racing about PALEOPALEOPALEOPALEO last week, I started thinking.  If the Paleo diet cures many of what ails us humans.... couldn't it also cure what ails our dogs?  My dog has had a severe, severe issue with skin allergies for the last 8 years or so - pretty much as soon as we moved to Philly.  We took her to the vet for her constant itching and scratching and licking, and he diagnosed her with a food allergy.  He recommended we start her on a hypoallergenic (*cough cough* expensive *cough*) food immediately.  Within a couple weeks, her allergies seemed to have cleared up.  But soon she developed a tolerance to that food, and we had to switch her to something else.  Then she developed a tolerance to that food, and we had to switch her again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  After several years and many thousands of dollars, we switched vets for another opinion.  He confirmed that it was allergies (duh), and wanted to do allergy testing, steroid shots, antibiotics... the whole nine yards.  After another thousand dollars or so, they were able to tell us that she is allergic to "something", but they don't know what.  (Thanks, I'd like my money back now.)  By this time we had cycled her through every hypoallergenic, healthy skin & coat, skin calming, grain-free, corn-free, wheat-free, gluten-free food you could find on the market and it would appear that she was allergic to every damn one of them.  This vet took a different approach though; he didn't think it was food.  He thinks it's environmental.  So we started taking her to get steroid shots every three months.  They used to last for at least 2 months.  The last time we took her?  The effect barely lasted a week.

WHAT IN THE HELL IS MY DOG ALLERGIC TO?!

Fuck if I know.  But it dawned on me - what if a Paleo type diet would help her?  At this point, what the heck do we have to lose?  So I started doing some research on what "people" food dogs can and can't eat.  I stumbled across the "raw" diet for dogs.  It all sounds quite expensive, but if she can eat what I'm eating, essentially... maybe it will help.  I mean, it can't hurt.  If you think about it - why can't we give dogs "human food" anyway?  Maybe dogs didn't evolve to eat grain-laden kibble just as much as humans didn't evolve to eat corn and grain.  Dogs are much closer to their hunter-gatherer roots than we are as humans, from an evolutionary perspective.  Dogs weren't hunting around for kibble back in the day.  They were eating what they could.  That probably included plants and their fruits, as much as it included raw meat.

So.  I've already kind of started feeding Moko a raw diet.  Yesterday she had some apple, carrots, celery, cantaloupe, and raw pumpkin, with a drizzle of coconut oil on top.  Today she had some raw chicken.  Bonus to my dog eating a raw diet?  All the beef and chicken trimmings - can go right into her bowl.  Normally I'd toss that stuff, but she can eat it.  And it won't stink up my trash can or destroy my garbage disposal.

I need to find a butcher though and see if I can find some cheap cuts of meat, or some organ meat.  That would round out her raw diet well.

So anyway.  It sounds like me and my dog are going Paleo for January.  I am so, so excited to see what improvements await us.  And I really, really hope this works for my dog.  We have really honestly tried everything, and I don't know what else we can do for her.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Look Back

Well, it's almost the end of December, and I'm pretty sure I won't have met my goal to lost 10 more pounds by the end of the year.  See what had happened was...... well, first I got really sick and didn't go to the gym for a whole week.  And whenever that happens, a downward spiral is sure to follow.  I have still been eating smart, for the most part, but, I've also been trying to eat some of the things I think I'll miss next month when I go Paleo, and I also decided to make some of the recipes for my new cookbook so that I can photograph them.  But aside from that, my eating has been fine.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised at all if I weighed myself and my weight didn't change by more than a pound or two in either direction.  I'm really not too worried about my weight.

I've always said that the number on the scale is not as important to me as how I feel, and I still feel that way.  I still look at myself in the mirror and am happier with what I see now than what I saw 8 months ago.  I feel a lot better about myself still.  And hell, my husband still finds me sexy as ever, and that's honestly one of the only things that really matters to me.  :)

I've been thinking a lot about two things recently - one, how far I've come, and how much I've achieved this year; and two, my Paleo January coming up.  So I'm going to put my thoughts down about both tonight.

1.  When I first started on this "year of resolutions" endeavor, I wasn't entirely convinced that I'd actually form new habits from it.  But when I compare who I was 12 months ago, to who I am today, I honestly can't believe the progress and changes I've made.  I think almost every month had something to do with putting me on the path to going Paleo next month.  Let's take a look back at 2013 and my eating habit highlights:

  • THEN:  In January, I was a wreck.  My diet was a wreck.  My job had me in a pretty bad spot so I was unhappy and most likely compensating with food.  The very first step I took was probably the most baby step I could have taken - I cut out juice and soda.  I drank water all month.  NOW:  It's been months since I bought soda, but even longer since I've been drinking it on a regular basis.  A few months after January I think I started going back to it, but I stopped again.  And, since Aaron and I started clean eating in September, we haven't had a pack of soda in the fridge since.  All we drink now is water, milk, and orange juice in our house.  I can count on one hand the amount of times I've had soda to drink since September.  I think I can safely say that soda is no longer a part of my diet.
  • THEN:  In February, I realized that when I cut soda out, I was still craving sugar, so I compensated with candy.  And I compensated to the extreme.  I was eating A LOT of candy.  NOW:  Candy is not a regular part of my diet.  Once in a while I might grab a candy bar or something as a treat - which if anything, is how it should be - but it is not a daily part of my diet anymore.
  • THEN:  In September, I started eating clean.  It didn't suck nearly as much as I was afraid it would.  It was also my most successful month on Weight Watchers.  I was not 100% clean, but I did the best I could with what I had.  NOW:  I'm thinking of taking it a step further and going Paleo for an entire month.  And not just, "do the best I can"-Paleo; like, "100%"-Paleo.  If you had told me in January that by the end of the year I'd be going Paleo, I would have laughed in your face.  Me?  Live without candy, sugar, soda, grains, and dairy?  I'd have cracked up in your face.  Now I'm actually excited about it.


2.  SO!  PALEO!  I was inspired by my cousin-in-law (is that a thing?) Dawnita when I visited her in November.  She is responsible for planting the seed and my subsequent research and recipe-hunting has gotten me very excited about taking this on.  I'm excited about the prospect of resetting my taste buds and living without things I rely on too much right now.  I'm excited about incorporating new and different vegetables into my diet and learning to like them.  I'm excited about the idea that I might actually lose weight from all of these changes.  I'm excited about spending quite possibly the worst month in a Pennsylvania year in my kitchen, cooking and prepping and cooking and prepping.  I'm excited about only having to exercise three times a week.  I'm just excited about all of it.  With all that said though - I didn't get excited until I was completely, fully prepared for Paleo January.  What did I do to prepare, you ask?

  • I started with the idea of "If I can find 15 dinner recipes that sound good, I will just make them twice each and have dinners covered for the month".  I started with my most difficult meal to make "Paleo" and worked back from there.  I figured I would be eating a lot of leftovers for lunch, so I had many lunches covered.  I found some quick and easy breakfast recipes and I felt well on my way.
  • I ordered all the recipes so that I wasn't eating three stews and soups in a row, and was using similar ingredients so that my grocery shopping lists weren't too wild and extravagant.
  • I bought a binder, sheet protectors, and a 31-tab set of page dividers.  Then I created a Word document with a page for every day in January.  Each page details what I am eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; what exercise routine I'll be doing; and what prep work I need to do for the next day's recipes.  Within each page divider in the binder is: a diary entry sheet taken from a Paleo quickstart guide I read (this just details what I eat, how I feel, etc); the daily page that tells me what I'm eating and doing; and every recipe I will be using that day.
  • With all the recipes ordered properly, I started making grocery shopping lists for every week in January.  I made a separate list for items that were more specialty - like almond flour, tapioca starch, etc.  And I made another separate list for items that I could buy ahead of time that wouldn't spoil by January.  I've been buying chicken stock like crazy, it's been on sale so I have been stocking up.  Little by little I've been stocking my fridge, freezer, and pantry with things I'll need next month, to help spread out the cost of things I don't usually buy on a weekly basis.


I know you're probably thinking that I'm a crazy woman, right?  Well, I know.  But, I'm doing the best I can to make sure I don't go off the rails.  Being Paleo means being (added) sugar-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and legume-free.  While at first it sounds pretty limiting, when you do your research, you will find that it's not; but you won't get there unless you really get organized and plan it all out.  I REALLY don't want to go off track in January.  I REALLY want to succeed.  I REALLY want to do pre- and post-January pictures and measurements and all that stuff.  And ultimately, I REALLY want to incorporate this way of eating into my daily life as much as possible.  You know, maybe I don't end up being Paleo 100% of the time; but being Paleo 90% of the time is a vast improvement over what I've been in the past.

I don't know how much I'm going to continue the "year of resolutions" into 2014.  My focus as of late has been eating healthy and being healthy and supporting organic initiatives.  I've watched a ton of documentaries on Netflix that have set me on this path (Food Inc, Farmageddon, Food Matters, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, etc) and I just believe in it.  It just makes sense that if you put the most natural version of something into your body, you will get nothing but good out.  I don't know that I could find a single person that could argue to me that processed foods are better than whole foods.  Nobody can argue that with me.  So I really just want to continue down this path in 2014.  I may not have monthly resolutions, but maybe I will.  Who knows, maybe at some point, I'll do a Whole30.  :)

On the whole, this has been a good year for me.  I'm a healthier person (mentally and physically) than I was at the beginning of this year.  This year has had its share of hurts and disappointments and slaps in the face, but look who I am and where I am now.  I am healthy.  I am happy.  My family is my everything.  I wouldn't trade where I am right now with anyone or anything in the world.  I'm excited about where I've been, and I'm excited about where I'm going, and I feel nothing but confidence going into next year.

Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pre-December Update

Previously I had determined that my December goal would be a sort of continuation of my November goal, which is to lost 10 pounds before the end of the year.

It's proving harder than I originally thought.  BUT.  I have 9 pounds to go.  Nine pounds in 35 days.... Maybe I can do it.  And if I don't - hey, at least I tried.

I'm discovering that weight comes off really slowly for me.  Honestly, I think part of what slows it down for me is that I work out so often.  I am building a lot of muscle.  My arms and shoulders are more toned than they've ever been, and I am noticing more and more definition in my legs.  I know I am losing weight because of that roll on my back that's shrinking (this is where I always notice my weight going up and down - if I'm especially bloated, this roll will be affected, and I'll start feeling 'fat').  But the last place I see any change, of course, is my mid-section.  I've always said that the number on the scale does not matter as long as I'm noticing changes in my body, and I still submit to that; however, I really would like to see that number go down a little more.

Like, 9 more pounds so I can achieve my last goal of the year.

I can't believe a year has gone by.  In January I had this grand idea to do a New Year's Resolution every month of this year, with the idea that I can do anything for 30 days.  And I've pretty much succeeded.  Except for October, but that wasn't the hugest failure anyway.  This might be the ONLY resolution I've ever stuck to for an entire year.

I do think this year has changed me.  For example, in January, I'm planning on doing a combination Paleo / Whole 30 for the month.  If you had told me on January 1st 2013 that on January 1st 2014 I would be going Paleo, I would have laughed in your face.  "What?  No sugar?  No dairy?  Are you crazy??"  But all of the goals and experiments I've done this year have led me to this place, and now, I feel ready to take this extra step towards better eating and better health.  I have learned a lot this year - about what foods are best for me, about what foods are terrible for me, about living a lifestyle that is both healthy and satisfying and even rewarding.  I know that I am a better eater, and therefore I am healthier; and even my daughter is a better eater now.  My kid likes broccoli.  My kid likes broccoli.  How many kids do you know like broccoli that's not covered in fake cheese sauce?  And guess what!  I like sweet potatoes and green beans!  My taste buds are even changing.  But anyway, this year has been a true journey for me.  I have transformation pictures to prove it.  And I'm excited about the changes I've made and the changes I'm going to make.

More on my Paleo / Whole 30 January in the coming weeks.  Right now I'm in the throes of recipe-finding and meal planning.  Planning a month with no dairy, grain, or sugar is pretty daunting, but I have the help (and inspiration) of the very lovely Dawnita Parkinson, of Pinterest, and of the awesome internet.  Let me tell you right now, if you're even thinking about changing your eating habits and your lifestyle by going Paleo or Whole 30, it would behoove you to start planning as soon as possible.  If you're used to a processed-foods kind of lifestyle, switching to Paleo or Whole 30 would be so overwhelming for you that you'd quit before you even got started.  Me - I'm already halfway there.  And it's still daunting to me.  So get to planning and really commit to it, if you're gonna do it.

That's it for today.  I'll be posting more in the coming weeks as I wrap up my Year of Resolutions and start planning for January.  Happy Birthday to my beautiful daughter, Maraea Rayne - she turns 4 in about 4 hours and 20 minutes (4:23pm).  Someboday make her stop growing please?  And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone else out there that stumbles across my blog!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ghost Hunting in Indiana

In early October I took my first solo road trip to Oxford, Indiana, to visit my dear friend Courtnee.  We both share a love for graveyards and cemeteries, and during that weekend we actually visited two together.

The first one, we were visiting pure for the hauntedness factor.  She had heard many stories about certain graves and how they are haunted by children and sometimes you can hear them laugh or cry or something similarly spooky.  We thought we'd check it out one night as the sun was setting.  This cemetery was set up on this huge hill in the middle of an intersection.  Or really, the roads just kind of went around the cemetery, I guess.  While we were there, we had several weird experiences.

The one that stands out most clearly in my mind is this one:  I was taking some pictures with my camera when I felt strands of hair entwined in my right hand.  I thought it was my own hair blowing into my face, but when I brought my camera away from my face, the hair that was entwined in my hand was too blonde to be mine.  And, I hadn't felt any of my hair pull out of my head.  So that gave me the shivers.  If it wasn't mine, where did it come from?  Up on this hill way above road level, with nobody else around?  Gives me goosebumps even now as I'm typing this.  But then, a few minutes later, Courtnee had the same exact thing happen to her.  Her hair is even darker than mine.  It definitely wasn't HER hair.  I probably could have brushed the hair on my own hand off as just a weird random experience in a cemetery, but it happened to her too.  We wondered how the heck strands of blonde hair would have managed to float their way up that hill on the wind, only to find themselves entwined right smack in our hands.  Courtnee suggested that maybe somebody had brushed their hair.... but... where?  And who?  We couldn't even see a house from where we were perched, and I highly doubt, with the way the breeze was blowing, that hair was just floating around up there waiting to find it's way to our hands.  So - my verdict?  Having been there and experienced it?  Ghosts.

Another weird thing that happened... We were taking pictures with our cameras, when we remembered that if we had the flash on, we'd be more likely to catch orbs.  So while I was shooting with my digital, I thought I had remembered reading somewhere that if they were TRUE orbs, and not just dust specks, you'd be able to capture them on film better.  I can't remember the reason why, but something about film cameras, and how they don't capture dust specks, they capture orbs.  So I went to my camera bag to get out my film camera (yes, I still have one, and I love it, I will never give it up).  It was already on.  And, it was on in a mode that I don't ever use on my film camera (TV).  So at first I was like hmm, did this thing get knocked around in my camera bag?  Then I started trying to remember the last time I had used it.  I had last used it 6 weeks prior for Cara & Val's engagement shoot.  The battery indicator on the screen said I had a full battery life.  I assumed it couldn't have been on that whole time and still have a full battery, and that I must have somehow knocked it around in my bag and it got set to TV mode inadvertently.  So I switched it into flash mode, and as soon as I went to take my first picture - my camera died.  Batteries: dead.  I couldn't even believe it, because like 5 seconds before I pressed the shutter button, Courtnee said exactly this: "Watch you try and take a picture and your camera dies."  Apparently the ghosts didn't like my film camera!  Or, I guess my camera HAD been on for 6 weeks straight and had a full battery life as indicated, until I pressed my shutter button?  I suppose we'll never know, but it freaked me the fuck out (especially after the hair thing).

The longer we stayed up there, the colder it felt.  We were shivering, even though it had been a warm day.  And I had started feeling slightly headachy and nauseous as well.  I didn't feel better physically till after we were on the highway out of town.

So, with all that said... Below you will find some of my favorite shots from Indiana and that spooky graveyard - unaltered, un-photoshopped, pure raw footage.  Orbs or dust?  Maybe dust, but you decide.  I know one thing's for sure - I've got a stockpile of batteries for the next cemetery outing I go on.




A truck left its dust









So, the only arguments I have that these ARE orbs and are NOT dust specks, are: A) if it's dust, how come there's not more of it?  How come I don't see dust specks in EVERY picture I took?  (The pictures above have the most clear orbs, I have many more pictures with orbs, and just as many without, even with my flash on.)  You saw the picture with the truck's dust trail.  See all that dust he kicked up?  How come there wasn't a ton of that flying around up there on that hill?  Indeed, maybe some of the orbs are dust specks - and some aren't.  Who knows?  And, B) at first I was thinking that the orbs were only showing up in my pictures when I was standing with my back to the sun.  So I thought well, maybe they are dust specks, and the pictures I take when I am facing the sun have so much light that the dust specks are sort of drowned out.  But if you look at the second to last picture, there's a big old orb on the left hand side, the side of the picture that would be closest to, and have the most, sunlight entering my camera.  It really makes you think, doesn't it?

Sleep tight kiddos.  <3

A Year of Goals.... Almost Over

So, remember way back in September how I said that for October, my goal would be to continue my clean eating crusade?

Yeeeahhhh.... I kinda, probably didn't beat my September clean eating percentage.

I totally fell off the wagon in October.  Things were hectic.  I stopped tracking what I ate, I cheated a little bit, maybe a lot, I didn't exercise every day.  Looking back I don't even know what the heck I did in October that had me so busy.  I went to Indiana for 4 days and that was the start of my downward spiral.  I don't drink coffee, so I drank Pepsi to help keep me awake on the road.  And I ate chocolate.  But it just gave my tongue that taste of sugar and that was all I really needed to head down that path.

Within a couple weeks, I was back on track though, and back down to my "lost 10lbs" weight.

And then, I went to Hawaii.

Before I went to Hawaii, I decided that my goal for my last two months of this year would be to lose 10 more pounds by the end of the year.  I had more than 10 weeks left in the year when I decided that.  I figured a pound a week; should be no problem, right?

Then Hawaii happened.  And my moment of truth is tomorrow.  I'm just hoping I didn't gain a lot at this point.  In all honesty, I did not even cheat all that much in Hawaii.  I stuck to my clean eating as much as I could, and when I didn't, I just ate a smaller portion.  Two times, we went out to dinner and I splurged, but that's it, really.  And there were a couple cheat meals in Seattle.  So, 4 cheat meals in 11 days is really not all that bad.  But we will see tomorrow when I weigh in at my WW meeting.  ERMAHGERD.

So this month is November, and Part I of my goal to lose 10 more pounds by year's end.

In the coming days: expect posts about my ghost hunting in a spooky graveyard in Indiana, and my favorite shots from Hawaii.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Clean Eating Update II

Last Thursday when I weighed in at Weight Watchers, I had lost over 2 pounds from the previous week.

Today when I weighed in, I lost 1.6 additional pounds from last week.

I'm kinda starting to think there's something to this eating clean thing.  I'm not even eating clean 100% of the time, and look at the difference it's making.  For the most part of the week, I eat pretty clean.  On the weekends it's tougher, but I do my best.  If I can't eat totally clean, I just try to make a better choice.  This month there have been days here and there where I've cheated blatantly - and even with that, look how much weight I've lost.

In 2 weeks I've lost more weight than I did in the previous 6 weeks combined.

So I received my I LOST 10LBS ribbon today.  That made me so happy.

I am nearing the end of the month and have been thinking about what I want my goal to be next month.  I think I want to try and better my clean eating percentage from this month.  What I've been doing is writing down what I eat at every meal / snack, and count whether it's clean or not.  I think right now I'm at 84%.  I'm thinking maybe next month I make my goal to eat 90% clean.  Why not?

I'm not sure what my goals for November and December will be yet.  But I'll think of something.  Only a few months left in the year!

It's crazy to me to think that I started the year off with one resolution - to make one resolution per month and stick to it, hoping to build healthier habits.  One resolution per month has not been hard to keep.  It's a LOT easier than keeping a resolution or two for a whole year.  And the bonus?  I've felt successful at achieving my goals every month.  Instead of feeling like a failure because I couldn't stick to something for a whole year.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Favorite Lovebirds

Meet Cara and Val.

They got engaged!!!

And I love them both dearly.

I love them because they are kind, sweet, genuine, and fun.  I love them because they adore my daughter, and my daughter adores them.

(In fact, as I was posting the pictures below, Maraea came over and saw them and said "AUNT CARE-WA AND AUNT VAL!  Wookit dem, don't dey wook so cute?!")

This is one of those couples that just deserves each other; they deserve to be together and they deserve all the happiness this world has to offer.

I was so excited and honored to do their engagement pictures.  You can see the joy on their faces.  I love so many of these pictures, because their happiness is so apparent, it radiates off the image like a sunburst.

I love you guys and CAN NOT WAIT for your wedding.  xoxoxoxo









Congratulations Cara & Val!  <3

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

YO. CHECK ME OUT.

Last week I posted a picture of myself on Instagram that showed my back sweat (I know, sexy, right?) and the caption was "You got to sweat like a pig and work like a horse to look like a fox".  I came across that picture again last night and I remembered I had taken a similar picture a while ago and I wondered what the difference might be.

Are you curious too?  Good, cuz here it is.


Yo.  Look at me!!!  I can't stop looking at this picture.  The difference is so apparent!!!

The picture on the left was me 8 weeks ago.  That was taken 5 weeks after I had started Weight Watchers and working out every single day.  Eight weeks of work - I knew I was gaining muscle and losing SOME weight, but I didn't know how drastic the difference was in how I looked till I put these two pictures side by side.

This came just in time too, because the other day I was really stressed at work - there's another thing I discovered, I am hands-down a stress-eater: my blood pressure rises and I want to throw my diet out the window and blow it on cheeseburgers and milkshakes and Skittles - and actually lost my appetite at lunch and didn't finish my salad because I just had WAY too much to do and was entirely overwhelmed.  I was feeling really down and annoyed and irritated and I was about to start cheating on my diet and screw it all - and then I saw this side by side picture - and it was all I needed to stay inspired to keep at it.  Look at the difference I am making in myself.

In another 6 weeks when I go to Hawaii, I WILL LOOK EVEN BETTER.

I am so proud of myself.  This picture makes me so, so happy.  Like, I want to print it and frame it.  I'm ecstatic.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Clean Eating Update

As I write this, I am sitting at my desk on my lunch break nomzing on a very delicious salad of organic mixed greens, red peppers, and mini heirloom tomatoes, dressed in a tangy yet sweet homemade clean vinaigrette dressing.

Are you proud of me? 

It actually tastes pretty good.  I tried some homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressings last week that were way too vinegary for me.  They made my cheeks tickle.  But this one is pretty good.

So it's mid-way through my clean eating month, and I figured it was time for an update.

First and foremost, the numbers:  Out of the 60 meals/snacks total I have eaten since 9/3, 48 of them have been completely clean.  That's 80%.  It actually surprised me, because I was expecting it to be worse.  It can be tough to be totally clean when you go out or when you're super busy on the weekends, but the last two weeks in September I'm relatively event- and stress-free, so I am thinking that number will climb.  To be fair - if I went out and ordered a salad, but didn't know if the dressing was "clean", I counted it as not clean.  So even though some of my meals were considered "not clean", they were still mostly healthy to some degree.  There were a few meals where I went all out - those were definitely not clean.

And guess what I noticed.  I didn't feel so hot later that night or the next day.  Today, actually, I feel like crap.  My stomach is not happy with me.  My guess is it's the weekend's crap-eating catching up to me.  I am going to set it back on track this week!

So there's that.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Clean Eating Meal Plan - Week 2

First things first: I lost 2 lbs from last week - even though I went on vacation over the weekend and ate delicious slutty food at the beach.  GO ME!  This means I have lost a net total of 7 lbs.  Slowly but surely I'm getting there.  As long as the scale is going down and my arms and shoulders continue to look awesome, I'm happy.

So I am about halfway through week 1 of clean eating.  It hasn't actually been too hard.  But, I'm not being a hard-core, crazy person about it.  Like, I'm not drinking raw milk.  Sorry man.  No can do.  So here are my rules:
  1. Eat organic proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  2. Allowable dairy is organic low-fat, no-sugar-added milk and cheeses, and organic pasture butter (in moderation)
  3. Anything "processed" I consume must be comprised of clean ingredients -- For example, soy sauce is clean, yet it's processed.  Hot sauce is clean, yet it's processed.  Vinegar and oils are clean, yet they are processed.  Things like that.
  4. Eliminate "white" everything -- sugar, rice, flour, pasta, etc.
  5. Steer clear of the center aisles of the grocery store (= processed foods!).  If it has a label, the ingredients better be clean.  If I can't pronounce an ingredient, or it does not sound like something that came directly from the farm, it's not going in my cart!
I have effectively eliminated our usual store-bought marinades from our diet.  Instead I found a few "clean" marinade recipes made from olive oil, citrus juice, and fresh herbs and such.

You know, in all my research I kind of found "clean eating" hard to conceptualize.  So I will share with you what I've eaten this week so far, to help you along your way.  I found a lot of good recommendations for products online, so I'll share them with you here.

THIS WEEK:
Breakfasts:  Smoothies and Ezekiel toast; or poached eggs and Ezekiel toast
Lunches:  Salads; or clean tortilla chips and guacamole
Dinners:  Marinated grilled chicken and steamed broccoli or corn on the cob or baked potatoes
Snacks:  Fruit (apples, strawberries, grapes), or whole-grain granola

If you are anything like me, you probably read that and were like "Blech".  Well, I consider myself a food snob, and I've surprisingly been pretty happy with my food choices this week.  My favorite "clean" purchase of the week:  Ezekiel bread.  Particularly, this one:


Ezekiel bread can be found in the freezer section.  Toasted, it's really not that bad at all.  I haven't tried it as a sandwich bread yet.  It seems pretty dense and dry for a sandwich bread (and mayo is not clean WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA), but toasted with some butter, it is actually very good.  I was scared of it at first, because it's frozen.  But I was being cray.  I ate 2 slices of this toasted with a little bit of butter and 2 poached eggs this morning for breakfast and I was full for 6 hours.  I kid you not.

Another delicious product I found this week:  Kind peanut butter granola.  I love this stuff!  Man, I used to turn my nose up at this stuff.  But I really like it.  A handful an hour before my workout and my hunger is kept at bay till dinnertime.


As for the smoothies, I use vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, and a little bit of OJ to loosen it up.  Next week I'll be adding spinach to my smoothies.  In the past I've been worried about my sugar content, but this time around, I'm making only half the smoothie I used to make, and I AM tracking sugar consumption on My Fitness Pal to keep an eye on it.  However, since fruits are a natural source of sugar (fructose), I am NOT counting those sugar grams towards my daily consumption.  The point is to eliminate added sugar (refined sugar) from your diet.  You don't want to steer clear of fruits and veggies because of sugar content; but you do want to keep your fruit consumption in check anyway.  Try not to eat more than your recommended daily allowance of 3-4 servings a day, in which a serving is considered 1 medium whole piece of fruit or 1/2 cup chopped or frozen fruit.

I would like to share my "clean" marinade with you that I found.  The original recipe is called Orange Tarragon Chicken, but I think you can very easily change up the citrus and herb combination and have an easy, tasty, go-to marinade for chicken in no time.

Orange Tarragon Chicken
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
Marinade chicken in all ingredients for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours, covered, in refrigerator.  Grill until cooked through.  Makes 2 servings.  NOTE:  You could easily sub the citrus and herb combinations with: lemon and basil; lime and cilantro; orange and basil; lemon and parsley; etc.

Ok, so what's on my menu for the next week?  This is the first time in my life I have ever planned seven days worth of ALL meals.  I usually only plan for dinner, and only for M-F, because on the weekends we are usually running around and who knows where we'll be at dinnertime.  But this is week 2 of clean eating so here's my go of it:

Saturday
B:  Eggs & toast
L:  Smoothie
D:  Quesadillas (made with clean tortillas, low-fat cheese, and vegetables)

Sunday
B:  Eggs & toast
L:  Smoothie
D:  It's my sister's birthday dinner, so we will have to see where we end up, but I'm figuring I'm fairly safe with a salad.

Monday
B:  Smoothie & toast
L:  Salad
D:  Herbed chicken & cous cous

Tuesday
B:  Eggs & toast
L:  Pico de gallo & tortilla chips
D:  Pollo asado & brown spanish rice

Wednesday
B:  Smoothie & toast
L:  Leftover Tuesday dinner
D:  Pork chops & corn on the cob

Thursday
B:  Eggs & toast
L:  Salad
D:  Veggie burgers

Friday
B:  Smoothie & toast
L:  Sesame chicken
D:  It's my brother's rehearsal dinner, and we are going to a Mexican restaurant YAY but I am going to try to be very good!

So, for a week, that's not too bad.  Even if I don't eat the cleanest on Sunday and Friday nights, I will still have eaten clean for 90% of the week.

I have a feeling that the thing that will make the most difference in my health is eliminating the "whites" from my diet.  Before my wedding, I eliminated "whites" and soda from my diet and got pretty lean.  But that was over 9 years ago and my body was much different then.

So anyway, there's where I am.  I've been giving some thought to what my October resolution should be.  I'm running out of ideas.  Originally I wrote down "new books?" on my list but I've been reading like a book a week for months now so that's not really a good goal.  Maybe you have some ideas for me.  If so, please share!  I can do anything for a month.  :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Clean It Up

I can't believe over a whole month has passed since I've blogged.  I suppose I've been really enjoying my summer.  :)

I swore off Facebook for the summer and have barely missed it.  It's been nice, being Facebook-free. 

My August resolution was to kick off my next cookbook - The Scott Family Table - and I have successfully done that, thanks to the help of my sister acting as photographer.  I have decided that for this cookbook, I don't want as many "process" pictures.  I really just want finished-product pictures, and candids.  I wasn't hardly in my last cookbook; I want to be there more this time.  I've got another few "cooking weekends" lined up in the coming months, which I'm pretty excited about.

With that said, August has been a hectic month.  Happy hours, barbecues, and all kinds of fun stuff.  Not much relaxing.

Weight Watchers is going well.  I'm wrapping up this session in the next two weeks.  I've lost a grand total of 7 pounds so far.  I don't really find this discouraging, because with all the working out I've been doing, I've really been gaining a lot of muscle.  My arms and shoulders are more toned than they've ever been; but my problem area remains, as always, between my belly button and my knees.

When the next session of WW starts, I'm going to change my workout routines.  I'm adding in some jogging on the weekends (I tried it last weekend and my knees came out unscathed).  I'm adding more reps to my weight lifting.  I'm adding some cardio on days where I normally don't do cardio.  And I'm switching up my ab exercises.  I'm also going to add in a rest day - probably Sunday - because I think I'm allowed to have one.  I will still try to be active to some degree, but maybe not in a I GOTTA GO WORK OUT kind of way.

September is right around the corner.  What is my resolution?  It might be impossible for me to achieve.  But I'm willing to give it a try.  I've been inspired by this gorgeous gal I follow on Instagram (follow her - @notsteph).  She's got 3 kids, eats clean, and looks amazing.  She's also very tiny, and while I will never be tiny, I figure perhaps I can employ some of her methods and find some more success of my own.  I recently asked her what her biggest tip was for managing the midsection, be it diet or exercise.  Her response:

"Belly fat is all diet.  When I eat too many "cheat meals" my arms, legs & butt still look fit but my belly is the first to show what I've really been eating.  You can do all the core workouts in teh world, but if your diet is bad then you won't see the results you want."

There it is in black and white.  The truth I've been trying to deny for so long.  (And she's not the first person I've heard it from, I think just now, finally, I'm in the frame of mind where it's clicking.  You have to be mentally ready for this sort of thing.)  You know, I just want to be able to eat what I want and just exercise and lose weight.  Well this just isn't possible.  That was the first thing Weight Watchers taught me.  Also, I learned something very valuable this month. 

Back at the beginning of August I had felt that I had worked so hard to get to where I was at, that I deserved a cheat day.  Not a cheat meal, a cheat day.  True Fatty style.  So I planned this whole elaborate day around food - eggs Benedict for breakfast; a Wawa hoagie for lunch; a chocolate milkshake; candy; a cheesesteak and french fries for dinner; soda; the whole nine yards.  (Just reading that list right now makes my stomach turn.)  And you know, I really almost felt kind of shameful on my cheat day.  Like here I was, this self-proclaimed Fatty, planning out all the ridiculous foods I was going to eat that day.  Here I was, sitting at home by my blow-up pool, salivating over going to Wawa for lunch and getting a hoagie.  Is there anything more True Fatty than that?  I mean really.  There were so many points in the process where I could have called it quits - instead, I went inside, got my keys, got in my car, drove to Wawa, ordered the hoagie, paid for it, came home, and could only devour half of it.  I didn't even really enjoy it.  If I'm going to "cheat", I better love every fucking bite.  (Now - my cheesesteak, for dinner - I loved every fucking bite of that, so much so that I wish I'd skipped the hoagie so I could have eaten the whole cheesesteak.)

So what did that teach me?  It taught me two main things:
  1. That a cheat day is waaaaaaay over-necessary.
  2. That a cheat meal is probably more do-able, enjoyable, and likely to keep me on track.
Aside from those two things though, I think it might have also taught me something else.  You know that saying, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels"?  Well I never bought into it - until now.  When I stepped on that scale 5 days after my cheat day, I felt full of shame, regret, and I was irritated with myself.  I didn't WANT to step on that scale and find out that the number had gone up (which it did).  That made me feel worse than missing all my favorite foods.  It made me feel like a True Fatty.  So I think I learned that really - nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.  I'm not skinny, by any stretch of the imagination, and I probably never will truly be "skinny" (I am too curvy and too muscular).  But I honestly think that losing weight and exercising feels so much better than eating like shit.  I feel better about myself; I feel proud.  When I step on that scale and the number goes down, the joy I get from that far outweighs the joy I get from a Wawa hoagie.

So, back to my original question.  What's my September resolution?  To eat as clean as possible.  I am going to try my darndest.  I've been slipping in many departments lately - soda, candy, chocolate - because the scale keeps going down, so I keep thinking that I'm doing fine so it's okay to inject myself with fake sugar, of course, duh.  But I think now, 9 months into my year of resolutions, I am ready to attempt it.  I think I talked about it earlier this year but figured it was too extreme - well now I think I am really ready.

I've done a fair amount of research this morning.  I have lists in my phone.  I am looking at my favorite recipes and figuring out how to make them "clean".  And it's back to nature's bounty I go - on September 2nd.  I know I know, but look, I'm going on vacation with my fam-a-wee this weekend, it's our only vacation this summer, and I'm not gonna go crazy or anything, but, just, ugh, gimme one last weekend.  I still have to step on the scale NEXT Thursday so that's keeping me in check.  I mean have you been to an East Coast beach?  Eating clean is practically out of the question.

I've got some recipes I'm interested in trying.  I'm so happy to see that potatoes are on the clean eating list :) :) :) seeing as though they cost points on the WW plan.  But, whatever.  I'm going to try and do both.  But now I plead for your help - please please please - if you've got recipes, or a favorite site you like to go to to get recipes for clean eating, please share them here.  I need everything: breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, etc.  Treats would be nice too.  But not necessary.  Anything you've got for breakfast that's grab-and-go or wrap-and-go that I can eat on the way is super helpful.  For the past few months I've been eating a homemade egg-and-cheese sandwich that holds me over till lunch (1 egg + 1 egg white, 1 slice 2% milk cheese, on whole-grain "1/3 daily value fiber!" English muffin) and I'm getting kind of bored of it.  Ok, really bored of it.  Okokok, so bored that I ate Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs a few too many times in the last couple of weeks.

My recipe restrictions: I don't like many veggies (lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach - that's about it), I don't eat any fish (I know, sacre bleu), and I'm not a huuuuge fan of yogurt, though I can deal with it in smoothies and stuff.  Anything I can make that "hides" veggies = bonus.

So anyway, there you have it. 

Along with all that, I'll also be back to my crazy spreadsheets for September to track my progress.  I'm making them now.  I swear.

Wish me luck.  xo

Sunday, July 21, 2013

FIREWORKS

If you have been holding your breath waiting for my fireworks post, you can let it go now.  Because here it is!

I'm so excited to share these with you.

Now believe me - I know that these are not professionally admirable or anything of the like, but I am SO excited that my camera can do this without me having to sit and think about it too much.  I'd like to get myself to a fireworks show and get a proper setup going - tripod, remote shutter, etc - and really get some awesome captures.  But for the first go-round with my new digital camera, holding as still as I possibly can... this ain't so bad.

First, fun with sparklers:







Now, the fireworks:









And, I think my favorite one of the night:


A big thanks to my good friend Danielle for hosting the 4th of July this year and having us over.  She makes a killer burger and an even deadlier Mudslide.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July's Goals

Well I'm halfway through July right now, and I'm also about halfway through the Weight Watchers program I signed up for.

Every day I've been working out, doing something active.  The only day I missed was this past Saturday, it was raining and I had a bridal shower to go to and I was running all over the place and didn't get my workout in.  Sad face.  But hey, 15/16 days in July ain't bad.

I've been keeping a spreadsheet, a calendar, and a food diary tracking my progress.  Obsessive much?  Maybe.  But I think it's working.  My actual weight isn't changing too drastically - I AM losing - but I can notice a difference when I look at myself in the mirror.

Below is a screenshot of one of the spreadsheets I'm using.  It tracks my total calorie, carb, fat, protein, sugar, and fiber consumption each day.  In the carb, fat, and sugar columns, you'll notice the cells are red if I finished over my daily goal for the day.  In the protein and fiber columns, the cells are green if I finished over my daily goal for the day.  I made those green because - is it really bad to have too much protein or too much fiber?  I'd submit that it is not.  So I went over, but it's not red/bad.

When you exercise, you can earn more to consume, so that's why some of the cells aren't red if they are over my daily goal.

Using tools like this help me stay on track.  And honestly, sometimes I really won't want to go to the gym, but I know that if I don't then I can't have a little bit more dinner to eat.  And I also know that then I would have a big red zero on my spreadsheet in the exercise column, which I don't like.  Or a big fat NO on my exercise calendar.  So I always end up dragging myself to the gym, and I'm always glad I did. 


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Independence Day

So, I came on here all excited to share my 4th of July fireworks pictures with you.  My new camera has a setting specific for bulb mode (which allows you to control how long the shutter is open) instead of having to finagle a bunch of settings and make it happen, and on the 4th of July I put it to the test with sparklers and fireworks.  The pictures turned out so cool.

But I really have some things weighing on my mind and need to get them off my chest.

For almost 24 hours now, my brow has been in a permanent furrow.  Last night the jury in the George Zimmerman case found him not guilty.  I support this decision 100%.  And what's got me all furrowed is that apparently my opinion is in the minority.  And apparently this makes me a racist.  Because somehow, this was a case about racism.

None of that could be further from the truth.  Me - prejudiced - yes.  I'll concede that I'm prejudiced.  We all are, and you're lying if you say you're not.  You're not looking deep enough into yourself.  But I have never applied blanket judgments to any race or creed or orientation or denomination or anything.  When this case first came into the news over a year ago, I believed what the media wanted me to believe.  That a white guy gunned down an innocent black kid.  A kid.  As a mother, the loss of a child's life will never be lost on me.  And to lose a child in such a violent way - suffice it to say I could not imagine.  I could not imagine the internal breaking that my body would have to endure.  I just couldn't.

But the trial was a public trial.  It was broadcasted on TV and via live stream on the internet.  When Aaron and I were in Baltimore a few weeks ago, it was the first week of the trial.  Our routine in Baltimore had been to get up early and go out for breakfast and walk around and do a bunch of stuff and go back to the hotel room in the early afternoon, exhausted by the heat, and flip on the TV and relax.  The first day we landed on a channel covering the Zimmerman trial.  I hadn't even known that the trial was starting, and I love watching trials and things like Dateline and 48 Hours so I was immediately absorbed.  It was the first week of the trial.

By the third day of me watching the trial - which, may I remind you, was the beginning, so it was the prosecution putting on its case - Aaron and I were saying to each other, gee, you know, it actually DOES sound like self-defense.  Neither of us had believed self-defense at first.  At all.  But when the prosecution puts people on the stand that supports the defense - and not just one person, but witness after witness called by the prosecution gave statements that supported the defense - well it just had to make one wonder.

Back at work the following week, I listened to the trial live stream.  Every second I was at my desk, I had the headphones on, listening intently.  I didn't get much work done.  I was continually appalled at how bad the prosecution's case was.  I actually felt embarrassed for them.

The only thing I can concede that George Zimmerman was guilty of was getting out of his car.  Yes, maybe he should have stayed in his car.  If you believe it the way he tells it, he was getting an address for the dispatcher he was talking to, so they could send a patrol car to the area to handle the situation.  He was heading back to his car when he was confronted by Trayvon Martin.  This is when everything changes.

This is when, the fact that he got out of his car doesn't matter.  He had every right to get out of his car.  Just as Trayvon had every right to be on that bike path, Zimmerman had every right to get out of his car.  Nothing illegal about either.  Public property.  A 911 dispatcher doesn't have any authority over anyone.  Yes, he said "We don't need you to follow him, sir", and Zimmerman's response:  "OK".  So he turns around to go back to his car.

This is where it turns from "Zimmerman was pursuing an innocent kid", to the act that Zimmerman was prosecuted for.

Zimmerman was on his way back to his car when confronted from behind by Trayvon.  Trayvon attacks him.  Wrestles him to the ground on his back.  Straddles his midsection.  Beats Zimmerman about the face for 40 seconds straight (do you know how LONG that is?), slams his head into the pavement, while Zimmerman screamed for help and nobody came.

That all happened, people.  There are facts and there is evidence to prove it.  An assault happened.

Zimmerman's back was wet and covered in grass.  Trayvon Martin's knees were wet and had grass stains.  There is a 911 call that documents Zimmerman's cries for help.

Zimmerman pulls a gun and shoots Trayvon.  Trayvon dies.

This is a tragedy.  No matter how you cut it.  A child dies.

But I have to ask.

What if it were me?  What if I were Zimmerman?  What if a 17 year old kid attacked me like that?  Wrestled me to the ground and beat my face, broke my nose, slammed my skull into the pavement?  If I was trained in gun handling well enough and could get to it, I'd have pulled my gun on him and shot him too.  What am I supposed to do, stick around and wait for it to get worse?

Am I supposed to worry about what people are going to say because I'm white and he's black?  Am I supposed to NOT defend myself because of the possibility of being called a racist?

No.  I will choose to defend myself.

And if I went to trial and got off, would people pull the race card and say this was a case about racism?  It's not racist that a man with black skin attacked me.  It's a fact.  A man with black skin attacked me.  I can't change that fact.  It's not racist that a jury exonerated me for shooting someone in self-defense.  I saved my life.  I was in fear for MY LIFE.  It was self-defense.

How is it any different for George Zimmerman?  Is it because he's a guy?  Do people feel that he should have been able to free himself because he was older and possibly stronger than Trayvon?  Yeah?  Then you're sexist.

People will say that because I'm a white woman, I would never see a jail cell or go to trial.  But if that's their stance, then it's a hypothetical one.  And therefore their claims of racism are hypothetical.  Nobody can claim to know for certain what would happen if races were reversed, if roles were reversed, etc.  You're in hypothetical territory, and your racism is now hypothetical.  "Well if it were the other way around -- " oh, so you can predict the future huh?  You can predict exactly what would happen if it were me that was attacked?  Wait I forgot, I'm a racist.  Of course I would be exonerated.  (Note sarcasm.)

But while we're all on a hypothetical tear here, let's discuss the hypotheticals more pertinent to the case.  Maybe Trayvon should have just ran home.  Maybe, if Trayvon really felt like he was being followed and was scared like he told his friend on his cell phone moments before the confrontation that ended his life, maybe he should have hung up with her and called 911 to report a man following him.  Instead of putting his phone down and confronting his supposed pursuer, who was walking away from him.  Maybe if Trayvon had looked like he was going from point A to point B - store to home - like he was going somewhere in the rain instead of milling about, instead of "lurking" around a neighborhood that had been the target of a recent crime wave, maybe neighborhood watch patrol wouldn't have thought he looked suspicious.

Maybe Zimmerman should have stayed in his car.

Maybe Trayvon should have made a beeline for his house.

If either of them had been smarter, none of this would have happened.  But sadly neither of them saw what was coming.  So what happened was, this "innocent" kid assaulted a man.  Zimmerman did not chase this kid down and gun him down.  The prosecution couldn't even contend that that's what happened, like the media wants us to believe.  When this case first came out, nobody even knew where the bullet entry wound was, so the media was free to make these claims and mislead the American public.  Forensic testing proved that the bullet entered at an angle consistent with Trayvon being on top of Zimmerman.  Because Zimmerman was being assaulted, and feared for his life, so he pulled out his gun.

The jury got the case.  The jury weighed all the evidence against their instructions on the law.  And they found correctly in self-defense.  Their decision should be respected.

I would urge people to avoid forming their own opinion on this case until they've read the court transcripts.  If all you know is what the media has been reporting from day one - that a white guy killed a black kid - which isn't even 100% right because Zimmerman isn't even WHITE - then you are too ignorant to form an opinion on this, to call for Zimmerman's head on a platter, to say there was no justice for Trayvon.  Justice was served here.  Know your facts.

I'm so disgusted, disappointed, and angered at the fallout from this verdict.  I have to say I didn't really expect it.  First of all, I definitely did NOT expect him to be found not guilty - even though I believed he was.  I'm glad he was exonerated, given the facts in the case, it's what he deserved.  Second of all, apparently I am finding out who my true friends are via this verdict.  This verdict has ignited passions in many people, but I respect those who have a different opinion than me - as long as it's well-informed.  Personally, I don't know how anyone could have listened to the trial as I did and come away thinking Trayvon Martin was an "innocent kid".  If you did - fine - that's you're well-formed, well-educated opinion.  But if you only know the 5-second mini version that the media wants you to know, then keep your misinformed opinions to yourself.  I've already lost one friend who couldn't tolerate my opinion.  Which is extremely sad.  Extremely sad, given that I would never consider casting a friend aside based on any opinion they might have about anything.

That really hurts.

On a different note, I have never been happier to not have a Facebook.  Twitter has been ridiculous - ridiculous enough I'm considering abstaining from that too.  Social media in general is becoming more and more toxic to me.  It's suppressing.  The misinformation out there is sickening.  And the misinformed opinions are even worse.  It's depressing.  Suppressing and depressing.

To my original subject - happy independence day, George Zimmerman.  I hope you and your family find peace.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Down With FB

I DID IT.

I've done it before and all, but, I did it again.

I deactivated my Facebook account.

I think it will be nice to spend a whole summer completely immune to the pull of Facebook.

I've been thinking a lot about how we live in a technological age and how nothing is ever really personal anymore.  We share all our moments, good and bad, with the people we supposedly care about the most, on social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram and Twitter.  Nothing is really private anymore.

(I know, the irony - here I am waxing poetic on my albeit public blog.)

My point is, I feel like the more social networking sites I'm a part of, the more people have access to me.  Like, there are one-way channels flowing into me and flowing away from me.  I have control over all the channels that flow away from me - I control who I'm in contact with and who I'm not, what I want to see and what I don't - but I have no control over all the channels that flow into me.  And I know, yada yada yada privacy settings yada, but that doesn't really mean anything when you have to worry about hurting feelings left and right over who's on what list and who's not.  It's just too much to manage, and I just don't care enough anymore.  So, I'm done.  For at least the summer.  Facebook-Free Summer 2013.

I guess I had just started feeling a little claustrophobic.  I have a much smaller circle on both Twitter and Instagram, and I feel like there's no drama there, so for now that's what I'm sticking to.

Oh, and this!  My blog.  Where I document my journey through this thing called life.  So exciting to nobody really but me.

Pretty soon I'm going to start my second cookbook, The Scott Family Table.  I'm planning a little bit of a different approach this time - more finished-product pictures, less step-by-step pictures, a couple layouts throughout the book of only my most favorite candid shots of me and Aaron and Maraea cooking together.  I'm really excited to start!

Once I do that I'll have more pictures & recipes to post.  I have plenty from my last cookbook but I don't want to keep delving into that old pile.  I want new and exciting, better photography with a better camera, etc.

Happy summer everyone!

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Summer In A Picture (Or Two)

Wanna see my life this summer?

Here you go:



Weight Watchers and Working Out.

I drew up a calendar for July to track how many points I consume each day and whether or not I've done my workout.  Thanks to The Best Trainer Ever (Mike) I have a week's full of workouts I have to do.  Every day I will be working out about an hour a day.  My calendar has a spot to record my beginning weight and another spot for my ending weight.

I guess July is going to be Weight Watchers and Working Out July.

I'm on Day 5 of Weight Watchers.  I'm actually kind of embarrassed to admit that I'm on it.  But such is life.  I needed to DO something.  This whole heaviest-I've-ever-been shit is not okay with me.  What I really like about the exercise program my trainer designed for me is that if I can't make it to the gym, I can totally do it at home.  And WW hasn't been so bad so far actually.  Yesterday I thought for sure I'd buckle - it was Father's Day cookout at my mom's house, which means spreads of dips and chips and steaks and other slutty stuff - but I was good and ate a big salad and a baked potato.  I actually wasn't all that hungry after the brunch I had.  I guess if I can make it through a cookout at my mom's house, I can make it through anything.

I know I said I was going to stop focusing so heavily on my health, but this can't be excused.  I had a wake-up call at the doctor when he weighed me and it's just not acceptable.  It's just not.

But I am going to have some fun this summer too.  Want to see what the rest of my life will be this summer?



Holy awesomesauce.  :)  I nice new wide angle lens for my nice new Canon.  And a WW cookbook and food scale.  I'm actually excited about all 4 things in this picture.

So there it is folks.  My summer in a nutshell.  Photography and health.

Who wants a photo shoot?  Seriously I need to get some one in front of my lens and fast.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Some Things I Know For Certain

June has been a hectic month, and two more weeks and I can really relax this summer.  After my Baltimore vacation at the end of this month, things will really settle down and I can focus on........so many damn things.

But the main part of the month has passed, and with the past several months have come some things that I know without a doubt.  I'd like to share them with you, here.

1.  I'M A FREAKING GRADUATE, BABY.  Took me over two years but I've got that Bachelor's degree under my belt for sure now.  On Monday June 10th, I graduated Cum Laude from the Software Programming & Application Development program at Peirce College here in Philly.  I'm ecstatically proud of myself.  I'm the only one of my parents' kids to have a Bachelor's degree.  Me and my dad are the only ones in our family with Bachelor's degrees.  And I know why - because it's no easy feat, folks.  College isn't easy.  College wasn't easy for me as an adult and I can't in my wildest dreams imagine that it would have been easier for me as an 18 year old.  For one thing, I thought I knew what I wanted to do at 18 - till I found out what it paid.  Till I found out how much schooling (and debt) I'd need to get to where I wanted to be with that kind of degree.  But at 18 you don't really know what you want to do with your life.  Or, if you do, you have no idea what kind of economic situation you'll be in when you get out of school.  Or, if you do know all that, then God bless ya, you're lucky.  Because at 18 I never would have thought that I'd get a BS in an IT field.  N E V E R.  But guess what - turns out I'm fantastic at what I do and it pays pretty well.  Some people like to say I got lucky -- FALSE.  I worked my ass off.  I've been working my ass off since I was 16 and had two jobs (at one point -- three jobs, I think), saving every penny to buy myself my first car.  True, I may have fallen into the pharmacy field.  But that's not exactly a field that pays well unless you're a pharmacist.  It was my work ethic that took me to excelleRx, up the ranks there, and into the IT department.  I bust my ass.  And I have drive.  Luck has almost nothing at all to do with where I am today.  Don't discount all my hard work by calling me "lucky".  Some people also like to say that I'm a supermom -- FALSE again.  In the past 2 years I have felt like such a bad mom at times that I've sat in the basement listening to my daughter play upstairs while I cried, knowing it would be hours before I could go play with her because there was so much homework in front of me.  I've had such surges of mommy guilt over being in school that I had been seconds away from quitting entirely several times.  The truth is that all I did was fill my "down" time with "homework" time.  You know all that time you spend sitting on the couch in the evenings watching TV or reading a book or going out with friends or doing laundry or hanging out with your spouse or whatever it is you do in your down time?  I just did homework.  That's all.  I'm no supermom; I was a super stressed mom that barely held it together for 2 years.

But that's all over now.

Please don't ask me if I'm going for my Master's degree.  PLEASE.

2.  I have some of the best friends in the world.  My four motherboard friends moved heaven and earth (almost quite literally) to be here for my graduation, and I don't think I could ever express the depths of my gratitude.  My graduation party or ceremony wouldn't have been the same without them, that's for sure.  :)

3.  I am the heaviest I have ever been, and this needs to change, and very soon.  I'm working on it, and that's all I'll say.

4.  While getting to where I am now has nothing to do with luck, I feel lucky.  I have the most beautiful daughter in the world.  I have the best husband ever.  My family and friends freaking rock.  My job keeps me incredibly busy but when I get that paycheck at the end of the month I'm just like "Well ok, for that I can do all that all over again."  I'm creative and I have hobbies and outlets to channel my creativity into.

5.  I can't can't can't can't can't CAN'T CAN'T CAN'T WAIT for this summer to start.  I can't wait to take my daughter to the beach, to read books, to cook, to get some sun, to go to the gym every single day, to take advantage of every single free second I have and fill it with doing something I love.  I promise I will never, ever take those kinds of seconds for granted again.  If school has taught me anything - it's that.

I guess you could argue that it took 2 1/2 years and $36,000 to teach me to live life to its fullest, to not spend a single second on anything that makes you anything less than happy, to take advantage of your time here and do things you love to do.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Blog Post #50 & My Busy Juicy June

It's my 50th blog post!

I feel like I should celebrate.  Like I'm an old lady blogger or something.  But I guess 50 is not really that many blog posts.

So as much as I blasted doctors and prescriptions a couple weeks ago - I went and saw my doc about my knee pain and he prescribed me a very strong NSAID which was basically a miracle drug.  I took one dose and by the next morning I had greater range of movement than I was able to get in the week prior, and I could make it up and down the stairs with almost no pain.  A few days later I went for a 2.5 mile walk with my friend and was fine.  Go figure.

Hm, what else is going on?  Oh, well it's Juicy June.  I prepped all my produce for the week's AM juices and plan on drinking vegetable juices in the evening.  Not every single day - just a few days a week.  Next month I'm going to start choosing goals that aren't so focused on my health.  I'm going to continue to focus on my health, but not as a monthly goal.

Oh!  Guess what.  By this time next week I will officially be a graduate.  My dearly beloved sister wives are coming to town on Saturday and staying till Tuesday.  I wish they could stay all week.  But they are not just mine.  Graduation party at the best restaurant ever - Distrito! - on Sunday.  I'm so excited for this week to be over!

Then at the end of June, Aaron and I will celebrate 15 years together.  Fifteen years.  Sometimes I really can't believe it.  To celebrate we're going to Baltimore for a few days for some gluttony.  Specifically, day drinking on the harbor.  And maybe some horseback riding.

Before I know it, June will be over and it will be on to July.  I hope summer doesn't go too fast.  I have so many things I want to do with Maraea.  I really want to take her to DC so we can take her to the Smithsonian museums and she can see the dinosaurs.  She friggin loves dinosaurs.  And I love DC.  I also want to take her to OCMD for a weekend.  And go hiking.  And all kinds of good stuff.  She is at such a fun age right now.  When she's not sassing me, anyways.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Official DX

Well I saw the doctor today because my right knee has been getting progressively worse.

The official diagnosis?  Severe patellar tendinitis in both knees, and a torn MCL in my right knee.

Two runs!  Two workouts into the Couch to 5k series and I'm sidelined for at least 2 weeks.

Doc ordered a strong anti-inflammatory for me, icing every single night, stretching as much as I can tolerate without getting nauseous, and no exercise for at least 2 weeks.  He said I should not even consider going back to rowing until I can walk up and down the stairs with no pain at all.  Also, I'm not running, jogging, or anything again.  Running is not worth it to me to lose out on all the exercise I could be doing.

Also, I'm embarrassed to even admit this, but they weighed me and I'm almost as heavy as I was when I was 8 months pregnant.  I'm completely crushed by this.  But I have hopes that this will change soon now that I'm off my antidepressant, given that I've already felt and noticed a change in my weight since being off of it.

I really hope it gets better soon though.  I don't know anyone else who works out fairly regularly and GAINS weight instead of, at the very least, maintaining their weight.  I'm seriously starting to lose steam and hope.