Archive for February, 2009

New Weight-loss Tool

Feb 26th, 2009 Posted in Health | one comment »

I’ve often said that my iPhone is the “best toy I’ve ever had.”  And, now I’m just giddy over a new tool called “Lose It!”  It’s a whizzy, cool application for the iPhone. It enables you to keep your daily food log, set your weight-loss goals, track your exercise, etc.  It brings all of the things that I loved about Weight Watchers online to the table with a few bonuses: I can take it anywhere, it’s way faster, and it’s FREE!!  One gotcha for some folks would be that it’s not going to teach you to eat “healthy.” It’s all about the calories. You can track fat grams and fiber and such, but it’s not going to give you a gold star for any of that.  Weight Watchers actively encourages you to take the multi-vitamin, drink the water, and to get the calcium and healthy oils into your diet.   For me, that’s not a big deal. I consider myself to be pretty wise on what the good foods are and truly believe they make me feel better. I follow a volumetric approach that works great for me. I think the Lose It! application rocks.

Diet Update

Feb 23rd, 2009 Posted in Health | one comment »

I’ve now lost 17 1/2 pounds since November. Nothing like a little progress to keep you motivated. I’ve got more work to do, but I think I’ll make my goal by late spring/early summer. Fabulous.  

Brian’s been great about encouraging me and noting the difference in my clothes and such. Thanks, honey. Trina said I looked smaller at Bunco. Bless her.  It’s kind of a private battle that I’m doing for my own well-being, but it is so nice to have people occasionally validate that it’s working.

The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls

Feb 18th, 2009 Posted in Book Review | no comment »

Subtly shocking. That’s how I would describe The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls. With few exceptions, this memoir covers a truly whacked childhood in a matter-of-fact, unemotional voice.  I would frequently reread passages and pause to let the craziness settle in my brain.  I would also frequently stop and share what was happening to my 11 year old and my husband. They would shake their heads in amazement and ask “what exactly are you reading again?”

The Glass Castle plots out the life of Jeannette Walls. She’s one of four children dragged along by their parents, Rose Mary and Rex Walls.  The parents are routinely neglectful and abusive, yet the kids would cling to their parents bursts of creativity, intelligence and fun.  Simple necessities like clothes, food and running water were ignored, yet the kids were filled with knowledge of the world and taught to be voracious readers who did outstanding in school. The paradox was stunning. 

I enjoyed reading The Glass Castle.  I won’t soon forget the Walls.  However, I do have a “it could’ve been better if…” to share.  The “tell like it is” style of writing fit well for Jeannette’s early years. A kid would accept a lot for not knowing the possibilities of a better life.  However, I expected that disconnected, unemotional style to shift as I became invested in Jeannette as a near-adult who now understood the horrible mistreatment and that there had always been a way out.  The facts were there. She challenged her parents, she got herself out of there and made a healthy life for herself.  But she didn’t make me care as much as I thought I would.  She didn’t bring it to a climax of rage or sadness or inspiration. Intellectually, I can say, “Wow. Can you believe that those kids found their way to success and happiness against all odds?”  But, it didn’t hit me in the gut, just the brain.  

The Glass Castle is my book club’s February pick. I’m eager to meet with the ladies and get their impressions. I’m sure we’ll all be marveling at our favorite outrageous passages and that it all actually happened.

Running Music

Feb 17th, 2009 Posted in Health | one comment »

Nothing helps kick a workout into gear better than the right song. I’ve listed some of my current favorites below. I update it constantly. Gotta love iTunes. Some songs are there ’cause the beat is awesome. Some are there because the lyrics make me happy or make me laugh. Some are there just because they have lyrics that motivate and I like word play (ie Steady as She Goes).  Honestly though, I could probably just play an entire Pink collection everytime. I just have to pick up my feet when her songs come up. I didn’t include any of her songs you couldn’t play in the car with the kids (though I LOVE some of those :-)).

Girl Power List

  • Pink: So What, Sober, Please Don’t Leave Me, Bad Influence, Ave Mary A., Who Knew, Walk Away
  • Sara Bareilles: Love Song, Fairytale
  • KT Tunstall: Little Favours, Hold On, I Don’t Want You Now
  • Sheryl Crow: A Change Would Do You Good, Real Gone, Everyday is a Winding Road
  • Ting Tings: That’s Not My Name

Guy Singers that Still Rock

  • Raconteurs: Steady as She Goes
  • Spoon: You Got Yr Cherry Bomb, Don’t You Evah, The Underdog
  • Jet: Are You Gonna Be My Girl
  • U2: Vertigo, Desire, Helter Skelter

Team Photo Book

Feb 17th, 2009 Posted in Fun Photos - Sports | no comment »

I’ve been so thrilled with my latest camera, the Canon 50D.  I wanted a camera were that performed better in low-light situations (indoor, Halloween, etc) and that could capture Ben dribbling down a basketball court.  Boy, has it delivered. I’m still experimenting and make a lot of mistakes, but just about any shot is possible now.

My basketball shots this year have been 100 times better than ever before.  In past seasons, I would give up after a few games and just take video. Now, I have a collection of nice action shots. I even had enough to put together a photo book as a thank you to the coaches.  Check it out at

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

Feb 12th, 2009 Posted in Book Review | no comment »

Maya Angelou is an inspiration in many ways to me. She has accomplished so much in her life and the way she writes about it is insightful and engrossing. It makes me want to take a step back and observe my life  and my life’s lessons more.  I had already read The Heart of a Woman and A Song Flung up to Heaven before just now finishing her most acclaimed I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I’ve loved each autobiography and am actually glad to have read them out of order, first knowing Angelou as an accomplished woman doing great things. Now, after reading of her early years, I have a new appreciation for her strength and determination.  With all of that said, the lessons for a suburban white girl are not so much that this is a great lady. It’s more to have an in-your-face reality of what it has and can still be like for a black woman in America.  As we enter this new era, led by Barack Obama, I hope that racial prejudices continue to subside.  But we need to recognize the history and the mistakes if we are to move beyond it. One passage in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings really stuck with me. It was as Angelou was battling to be the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco at the age of 15, “The miserable little encounter had nothing to do with me, the me of me, any more than it had to do with that silly clerk. The incident was a recurring dream, concocted years before by stupid whites and it eternally came back to haunt us all. The secretary and I were like Hamlet and Laertes in the final scene, where, because of the harm done by one ancestor to another, we were bound to duel to the death. Also. Because the play must end somewhere.  I went further than forgiving the clerk, I accepted her as a fellow victim of the same puppeteer.”

The Book Club

Feb 5th, 2009 Posted in Book Review | one comment »

Last night I officially joined a book club. There is going to be 12 ladies in the group (most of whom I know already) and our first assignment is The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls. It looks to be a very well-reviewed read.  This should be good time. I’ve already met my first goal for joining the club: read books that I wouldn’t have chosen and/or found on my own.   I hadn’t even heard of the first book or the author.

I’m thinking we need to name the group.  Some ideas: Page Turners, Book Mamas, Read and Sips, On the Same Page, Pagin’ Moms, Mom’s Page, Hip Chics Read Books, Reading Divas of Sherwood, Paper Dolls, Circle of Sisters, Lit Ladies (I think that’s my favorite!), etc. 

I’m guessing this will be a fun social night and stimulate my brain a little more than Bunco 🙂

Angie's Spicy Pork Burritos

Feb 3rd, 2009 Posted in Good Eats - Recipe | no comment »

The kids sports and activities have kicked into high gear the last several weeks, so it’s back to the crock pot.  This one is easy, yummy and can be served in shifts as kids and husbands return from practices and such.  I use the Costco pork “buns” that come in a 3 pack and are individually wrapped. I keep them in the freezer and  you don’t even need to thaw them before putting in the crock pot.

1 2lb boneless pork loin 

1 can S&W pinquito beans w/ spices

1 chopped jalapeno (fresh or jarred)

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground cayenne

1 tsp ground red chili pepper

Tortillas (I’m really liking the new Mission Life Balance medium-sized tortillas)

Topping suggestions: Shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado and Tapatio

Put pork loin, beans with juices, jalapenos and spices in slow cooker.  Cook for 8 hours on low. Remove pork, shred it (should just fall apart) and mix back into slow cooker.

Warm tortillas one at a time in non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Keep warm in foil if not serving immediately.

Using slotted spoon, put pork mixture onto tortillas, add desired toppings, close burrito and eat!

Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Feb 3rd, 2009 Posted in Movie Review | no comment »

Prince Caspian has been at the top of our Netflix list for months, and we finally got to watch it Saturday night. It was a thumbs up from the whole family. Prince Caspian is a long one, 2 1/2 hours, but it’s full of action, adventure and some seriously epic battle sequences.  I think the movie is generally well-acted, as was the first movie, though I’m still not a big fan of the actress that plays Lucy.  I’m guessing that’s just my cynical nature not getting the doe-eyed, innocent role she plays 🙂  I think the battle scenes are intense but “OK” for kids. I think it shows the reality of battle. People do die, but the movie leaves out the graphic details that would haunt dreams.  Sam (age 6) loved it and Joe (age 9) passed the sleep test. I know a movie is too much if he pops out of bed a bunch that night. He didn’t for this one. Rent it and enjoy a good family movie night.

Dormant Spray & Bulb Fertilizing

Feb 2nd, 2009 Posted in Yard Happenings | no comment »

Hey gardeners! Just a quick reminder that you are almost out of time to get that dormant spray on your trees and shrubs.  I went out and took care of my fruit trees, ornamental cherries, deciduous shrubs and Japanese Maples today with a oil lime sulfur spray that I mix from concentrate in a spray bottle. It doesn’t take much time, but it helps keep away the fungus and bugs come spring.  This is a MUCH more effective and MUCH less toxic way of taking care of business than anything you can do once growing season starts. 

Oh, and I noticed that my spring bulbs are starting to pop up and reach for the sun. It’s a good idea to sprinkle a little bulb fertilizer now to help them along.  It can make a big difference in daffodils and tulips.