2:10 PM

It's getting there

I should be out shovelling (it snowed some more!!) but since I did 2 hours of that yesterday I'm finding myself coming up with other things to do today. One of those things was to hang some mini mirrors in my bedroom and kind of finish that room up.

Here are the befores:

And the afters:

Of course not from the same angle...I'm not that organized!

You can't really tell in the before photos but the carpet was a gray-blue; at least where it wasn't stained or where there was a giant bleach spot. I'm not thrilled with the pale cream-beige-gray I chose because now I think it looks a bit dingy but it's still better than the previous stuff. The baseboards before were simple casing and not really baseboard. And last weekend I figured out how to finally replace the lightswitch and outlets to the decora style that was started in the rest of the house. And of course I missed it in both sets of pictures but there is a new light fixture up now and new hardware on the closet doors along with new trim around them. The nice wooden blinds behind the curtains were repurposed from my cousin's house. And the curtains were made for my previous house and have been put up in a few different rooms a few times since then. I finally gave in and bought a new bed this summer when I woke up aching every morning and it's quite high which makes it feel kind of luxurious even without room service.

There are lots of things remaining to do in the house but it's nice to take a look back at the initial photos and realize that I'm getting somewhere.

Now if I could just find someone to replace the kitchen counters, fix the fallout drawers and replace the ugly tub and surround!

3:46 PM

This is not my idea of personal growth

So for the last 2 weeks I have been chasing the wagon...meaning I have been back to the gym 3 times a week. And I've been watching what I eat; well mostly. However, I am still increasing in size. WTF?!?

I have weight in places I have never had before such as a muffin top and a belly going on. Initially I attributed this to stress weight gain since work has taken everything I've got for about the last 6-8 months. But now, although there is still some drama, the pressure is mostly off. Any time the jelly belly and muffin top want to go away so I can fit back into my clothes would be great.

I know in the past my routine of walk/run and weights worked so I'm hoping that it's just a bit early to see results and my body just needs a reset. I'm really not sure what to make of the ongoing increase that I feel in my clothes; I actually bought a size larger jeans today just so I'd have some that aren't cutting into me. Deciding to do that was extremely tough...I'd like to think that I'm headed back for some other jeans in my closet but at the same time, feeling like I have nothing to wear isn't working so well.

So....3 more weeks before I head home. And I'd like to be packing less of me and more of my "mid-range" clothes. Here's hoping that what's worked before will work again!

2.5 miles in 39 mins

Next week is 3 and 1's

9:28 PM

Yes I bought Coldfx at Costco

And it doesn't seem to be helping...I am sick again! I was sick earlier in October too and I'm tired of it. This seems to be a similar bug that involves a splitting headache, body aches, stuffiness and fever and chills. Lovely. This time I toughed out 2 days at work since we had roadshow presentations and then dropped on Thursday. Today is Sunday and I felt even worse this morning including *new!* nausea. Of course I went out on Friday night and ran errands most of the day Saturday mistakenly assuming that I'd done my share of sick days. (On the up side I am down to 1 bank account so less monthly charges!)

This is interrupting my intention to get back on the fitness wagon once work became mainly sane again. Which is worrisome since I don't seem to be slowing down on putting on a few more curves. And yes, the elliptical is still in the living room...with a nice layer of dog hair.

So aside from the coldfx and lots of naps, I'm not getting anywhere too fast.

Tonight I've packed a spinach salad with chicken breast for lunch tomorrow - sounds healthy, right? A step in the right direction I hope. Once the bug is gone I think I have to check out the rec centre again...and try to get back to the routine that used to work for me.

6:33 PM

Finding something warm and cozy

Did I mention I started dating again? If you're not single then I don't think you can possibly know what hell that is...

  • First there's your own insecurities to deal with - in my case it's the weight gain I can't seem to shake and the fact that if I hear one more time about how independent I seem (this is never a compliment) I might just go independent on their @ss...

  • Then there's the initial meeting and the fact that very rarely do people seem to resemble their photos. In my case something weird happens between the lens and myself but at least my photos are current, in focus and not me in a group of other people.

  • Once you actually find the person you are meeting the fun really begins...and in my case the Seinfelding

* odd choice of clothes including very metrosexual boots on a very not metrosexual guy

* british teeth

* extra 30 lbs all held as a beer gut

* sweats

  • After that it gets more interesting because I have found that because I'm a chatter and I can keep a conversation running for a very long coffee this means that eventually any weirdness they possess is bound to come out.
Some nights...in fact more and more nights, this kind of thing is starting to look like the better option. It's homemade, with lots of non-masculine toppings like tomatoes, red onion, red pepper, spinach, garlic and rosemary in the crust.

If only I hadn't forgotten to pick up some wine to go with....hmm...maybe a boyfriend would come in handy....

8:05 PM

Harder than it looks

So that on-sale elliptical? it needs to have come with a power assist setting.

I am now up to 10 mins. In an evening. Not consecutively. On the lowest tension setting.

To give myself some credit, I could barely manage a minute the first time I got on it. Then 2 was over the top. I'm now at 3 consecutive minutes. Woo hoo!

Ok so there is a ways to go. And no way I am going to be a slimmer me by the time I go to Winefest in Kelowna this weekend. But maybe, just maybe in a few more weeks I'll start to get the scale (and clothing sizes) moving back in the direction I'd prefer.

Ps - that "berry" nice guy? has gone MIA....according to him he had a whole lot of work stress and needed some time to figure things out. So after a few weeks of trying to figure out where he was at with figuring things out I've decided to start dating again. Which puts more emphasis on using the elliptical...it's enough to be nervous about yourself without being stressed about there being more of yourself than you'd like.

Ultimate goal = 20 consecutive minutes of elliptical without imminent death due to lack of oxygen or pain from quads

Personal life goal = a "berry" nice guy with stick-to-it-ness that I don't Seinfeld out

8:47 PM

Ta da!

6:32 PM

Or None of the Above

So the new fitness plan......is coming together....sort of....

Welcome to the Canadian Tire doorcrasher elliptical special. Coming soon to a living room near me once I get all of the pieces together!

11:45 AM

Sloth makes waist

After recently seeing myself in some photos it became clear that my lack of exercise and activity is catching up. I thought some clothes were getting a bit more snug but being someone who has 3 sizes of things in my closet, the truth is easy to hide from yourself and it happens to the best of us.

I've never carried weight around my waist; usually it's on the butt, hips and thigh area but suddenly I seem to have quite the muffin top. I'm a fan of muffins but have decided that this one needs to go!

As a start I'm signed up for Nia classes at work on Mondays. I had never heard of it before and have some trepidation about it but what the heck. What is it?

"A Nia class will provide you with the stretch and stress relief found in yoga, the muscle toning for hips & arms from martial art punches and kicks, and the flexibility and freedom of dance."

But I don't think that's going to be enough. In the past I've found that the weight seems to appear pretty suddenly but it takes a long time and a lot of work to take off. At my leanest I was doing 5km intervals on the treadmill and 30-45 mins of weights 4 times per week. So, I've been looking at some options:

  1. The free treadmill/elliptical at work. The key is free. The downside is usually by the end of my day the last thing I feel like is trekking to another floor in the building, changing in our scary pinky-grey bathrooms and getting on a treadmill. There are no weight machines either which I've found I need to incorporate to "reshape" things. And of course there is no access on weekends. Cost is FREE!

  2. A membership in my area. The challenge there is usually that I need to get home, out the dog and eat dinner before I go...it's tough to go once I've touched down at home. And the facility I've used in the past has gotten busier. Cost is about $445 - $575 per year depending on facility.

  3. A membership at a rec centre in the big city on my way home. An extra stop but could stop right after work when I'm not quite starving for dinner. A little longer wait for the dog but eliminates getting home and then going out again. I don't know what the facility is like so need to check it out - nicely when I'd stop is when I'd be looking at going so I should get an idea of how busy it is. One challenge is that I probably wouldn't drive in to use it on weekends - at least not in the winter. Cost is $443 per year minus $200 I'd get reimbursed through work so definitely a more reasonable option.

  4. Purchasing a treadmill or elliptical for home. Doesn't take into consideration the weights thing so I might need to purchase some of those too. The positive is that it would be right here in the house. I do have some workout DVDs here in the house that I am able to ignore so in the house may not mean much. Cost seems to run about $1200+ for a decent machine.

I think I'll check out the place in the city one evening this week. In the meantime I will start the Nia class and try to haul my butt upstairs to the free machines a couple times. And try to watch my muffin intake and stress eating tendencies!

10:16 AM

Berry nice

I forayed back into the world of dating a little while ago. I mean I actually went out on a date. Usually I chat and chat and chat and eventually discover a deal-breaker so that I don't want to go out with them.

This time the potential date wasn't going along with that plan. He kept asking me to meet and was persistent.

It was actually kind of irritating. So one night I said "Fine, let's go for coffee then!". Of course by the time I said this nothing was open but Tim's which is not my idea of a great date location. And I was fully prepared to go have coffee, some chitchat, confirm that I didn't want to see him again and start drafting the thanks but no thanks email in my head on the way home.

Which was great until just seeing him walk across the parking lot caused a "zing" that I haven't felt in a long time. (aside from the young'un who has since relocated himself back to SK)

Then we chatted for 3 hrs in Tim's. And the man was shifting around on his seat so much at the end I couldn't help but giggle a bit. Tim's seats aren't meant for 3 hr coffee dates.

And for the first time in a long time on the way home I was thinking "well crap, what if he doesn't like me back?"

But so far it seems he does and although there have been some quirks that sometimes cause some confusion - sarcastic and dry humor is hard to read; he seems like a nice guy. So when he laughs that I haven't cut the grass in almost two weeks and asks what I've been doing and suggests I get off my butt - which gets me kinda cranky and irritated, he then follows it up by showing up with 2 buckets of saskatoons. I've been talking about going to get saskatoons for weeks.

Last weekend my range hood fan, new bathroom light and upstairs bedroom lights all got installed - without asking. And when upon pulling out the stove all kinds of grodiness was revealed, he wiped down the sides of the cupboards and the floor without a dig on my cleaning at all.

So it seems I need to figure out how to handle a nice guy...with a dry sarcastic streak.

Maybe I'll start plying him with saskatoon pie.

4:19 PM

Leftover fiesta salad

Some days I have an uncanny ability to make something out of nothing. And today that extended to the kitchen. I think the ability to re-make leftovers comes from those days when the budget was tighter...student days when brocoli with a processed cheese slice was pretty darned good dinner.

It's been really warm here and my desire to cook has gone the way of my mojo. I pulled this salad together from a hodge podge in the fridge and it turned out really well:

1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 can corn drained
1/3 red onion chopped
1 red pepper chopped (1/2 if it's a large pepper)
cilantro chopped - I love cilantro so used about 1/4 of the bunch
2 tbsp jarred jalapeno pepper finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp of canola oil
2 tbsp lime juice

Toss it all together and crumble feta on top if you like. The measurements are not exact since I'm not generally very exact when cooking so go to your taste.

It's a pretty salad and I think it would work well as a take along to a potluck or bbq. For me, it just tastes good and didn't require heating up my kitchen!

11:05 AM

Women and heat

What is it with women and heat? There are all kinds of expressions and concepts that revolve around women and heat, "slaving over a hot stove", "she's a hot babe" or what a "hottie", there's the concept of "being in heat" and then of course later in life we get to enjoy "hot flashes". And the witch in the Wizard of Oz cries out "I'm melting!!!" as she expires.

One of my favorite women is quoted as saying "Women are like tea bags. They don't know how strong they are until they get into hot water." (It's Eleanor Roosevelt in case you wondered.)

Or until the weather is hot for days and the need to haul up the 70lb or so air conditioner from the basement overcomes their disbelief that they can carry it from the laundry/storage room, up 14 stairs, across the dining room and get it in the window.

Last year this resulted in an air conditioner casualty - the air conditioner came from a closet upstairs but sadly jumped out the front window. So far today, this smaller cousin air conditioner seems happily perched on the shelf constructed to dissuade jumping.

30 degrees here today...and no lake or pool...but at least a chance now of not feeling like I am starting hot flashes a little early.

1:19 PM

My sleep in is broken!

When I was a teenager it drove my mother crazy that I could sleep until 2 in the afternoon (or later). And once I was in my 20s that was how I recovered from late nights when I got the chance. I could sleep through pretty much everything too - including the lawn mower being run under my window.

In fact, I can't remember a time when I couldn't sleep in.

Until now.

I don't know if it's because when I'm being smart I recognize that I need 8 hrs a night and do my best to get it so that I'm not perpetually sleep deprived. And that means I don't need to sleep in until noon on the weekends? Because I can't.

And I want to...I love sleep! But the harder I try, the more my body revolts. Sometimes I can convince myself to fall back asleep for an hour but then my back starts to ache. And if I try to push it beyond that I get a headache.

It's really not fair.

But I'm fighting back. I've discovered the afternoon nap. Which is almost as great as sleeping in.

6:55 PM

Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

What to make on a gray Sunday when you don't feel like going to the store? And you have a head of cauliflower in the fridge but not a whole heck of a lot more?


Cozy Cauliflower Chicken Casserole

2 chicken breasts
1 can of soup at hand cream of mushroom soup
1 head of cauliflower
onion flakes
garlic powder
seasoning salt
cheese slices

Thinly slice or grate the cauliflower and place in a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with garlic powder, onion flakes and seasoning salt. Lay cheese slices over top to cover.
Cube the chicken and saute until fully cooked. Add the soup and stir up any chicken bits stuck to the pan. Pour over the cauliflower in the casserole dish.
Bake at 350 for about 35-45 mins (I did it in a convection toaster oven so not sure of oven time) until bubbly and cauliflower feels tender when poked with a fork.

I enjoyed this with a slice of bread and butter but you could even put it over rice if you'd like.

Now back to my books and bad tv...have to love those rainy, gray days off!

8:56 PM

I am my mother's daughter

I just cleaned my house because a Bathfitter estimator was coming to do an estimate.

10:56 AM

The sum of its parts??

OK so in the past I've talked about loving vehicles. If I had oodles of disposable cash I would probably have a selection of them and a personal mechanic.

But I want to clarify to the universe that this does not mean that I love the parts. Or buying the parts. Or replacing parts. Or paying those bills!

Yesterday was my friday off (a huge perk!) and I had scheduled the car in to first switch out the winter tires at a tire place where I previously paid an exorbitant amount for winter tires and then go for a tuneup at the dealership. I knew what the tuneup would cost and had figured that the tire stop was a short and relatively painless (read: cheap) stop that was necessary because we hadn't had snow for a week and didn't have any in the forecast. (I'm not bitter about the snow in June at all).

Lo and behold, one of the tire guys comes into the shop holding a tire and asked "Didn't you notice this??" while gesturing to a spot on the tire missing a sizeable chunk of rubber. Now I like my car and all but I don't snuggle up to its summer tires over the winter. I carry them in the house in the tire bags and stow them under the stairs and leave them alone until summer.

I then asked what I knew the tire guy would think was a dumb question, "Can't we leave it on for now and I'll get around to replacing it in a few weeks?". Apparently one pothole could have blown the tire and then where would I be blah, blah...may as well just replace them now. And "them" is because you always replace at least 2 tires at a time to keep your car balanced and keep them wearing evenly. I had one other tire that had worn more so presto chango! 2 new tires....for over $400.

That kind of purchase is a bit like a water heater or furnace in your house. It's necessary but hardly exciting or something to boast about and enjoy. You never hear anyone say "You should see the water heater I just put in my house!". Tire guy might boast about his tires but the ones I put on my car aren't anything special even in his eyes. Or maybe they are.

So between the tires and the tuneup, some people would say I could have had a cheap old convertible. Ok, maybe not quite. But I could have definitely spent that money in way more fun ways...like on new counters (ok those aren't fun), or on a new tub (only "fun" when full of bubbles maybe) or a treadmill (also not fun but possibly stress releasing?)...ok, maybe not fun stuff but stuff I could appreciate more than tires.

Guess I'll have to make a point to admire them every day.

10:04 AM

Check out those pipes!

I have a problem. A car problem. I have a thing for them. If I won the lottery I'd be in danger of dropping my winnings on an assortment of vehicles. I have owned a mix of vehicles but some of my favorites were my '86 Camaro, my '90 Miata (both red) and my '96 Ranger. I actually sold a perfectly respectable new 2001 Sentra after owning it about 6 months to buy the Ranger because it was just too dull.

In the last few weeks, I have seen a few new ones to add to my list.

Last week I saw this one:

That's the 2009 Dodge Challenger. Even the gay guy walking down the sidewalk stopped to look at it. It might also have had something to do with the beautiful sound it made.

Then a few weeks back I saw this one:

That's the 2010 Camaro. I saw it in silver but liked this pic of it in yellow even more.

What's interesting about both of these cars is that their body styling hearkens back to the 60s and 70s muscle cars.

And even in this era of environmentalism and high gas prices there is still a demand for them. I like a lot of older or shall we say "vintage" things so it's no surprise to me that I like them but apparently I'm not alone since they're part of the mass market.

One of my girlfriends says that my love of cars and trucks means "you're such a guy!". Actually it just means that I'm the granddaughter of a mechanic who passed on his love of cars and I extended it to include trucks. And it's tough not to appreciate trucks when you live in Alberta.

And for my feminine side, I could use a cabana boy with the ability to detail a car properly and then I could be ogling two kinds of pipes. But I'm not sure I'd let him drive my car...

9:27 PM

Price check aisle ?

While I was visiting in Winnipeg, we stopped at Safeway so I could run in and grab a coffee at the Starbucks. However, being myself I easily got distracted and decided we needed some veggies and then debated what to get for far too long. When I finally headed back to the car my sister was giggling; apparently I missed my older nephew's comments:

"How come she's taking so long? Did she find a boyfriend in there or something?"

Obviously I was shopping for the wrong things while in there!

8:50 PM

From the front lines

Or more like the back of the class...

I'm still going but have missed some classes. I'm less sore than I was during the first 2 weeks. And I now have a puffer so that my lungs aren't on fire nearly as much as they were when we started doing some cardio outside. I think my strength is improving.

But and it's a big butt....my booty is not downsizing. My pants are still more snug than I'd like. I am eating better than I was but still struggle with sweets cravings and munchie cravings.

So this week I'm trying to go 4 times a week. If that doesn't start kicking some butt then I don't know what will.

In other news, my grandmother was evacuated from her home last week (and is still out). She lives in Santa Barbara which is a beautiful place that has been under siege from fire. Apparently she has lost her garage and a motorhome parked in the driveway but the house is intact. Since I've never lived in an area affected by fire, I was surprised to hear that the water lines to the house and plumbing has melted and needs replacement!

I was watching the news carefully last week and have to say I am happy not to be a firefighter. Don't get me wrong, I am impressed with the people who do that job every day. They held fires back from individual homes as though they were their own families' homes. And I suspect that they do way more work than I do at my little boot camp to be able to do their jobs.

10:50 AM

Missed Marketing Opportunity

I watched Nights in Rodanthe last night.

First of all, movies should come with a Kleenex rating. Nevermind the restricted and parental warnings. No single woman in her 30s renting a movie gives a rat's arse about those. But a kleenex rating? Now that would be helpful. We would still rent those movies but we would be prepared.

And because of this rating, movie rental stores could and should also sell kleenex at the till. Instead of asking about snacks (or maybe in addition to) the clerk would ask, "are you sure you have enough kleenex? and maybe you should take some extra chocolate too?"

I have The Reader and Bride Wars yet to watch this weekend...not sure if I'm stocked up enough on kleenex but we'll see.

PS - I also learned something valuable at boot camp this week. Resistance bands hurt like mad when they snap back at you but most importantly, they don't leave a mark for more than a few hours. And you should really make sure you don't just have them under the toe of your sneakers but are truly standing on the wiley buggers.

8:03 PM

Omitting the email address to protect the not so innocent...

Another day, another gem....this time I'm wondering if by emailing this person I would then be inundated by requests for cash or assistance or penis enlargement offers?

Hello Dear, How are you? your lovely profile got me intrigue and i could not hesitate sharing of ideographs and getting to share and know each other, i do not usually check up my account here please contact me at drxxx@yahoo.com for further communications. Thanks as i hope to read from you soonest.TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR SELF. Cheers and Remain Blessed.

10:26 PM

Why I'm still single again....in case I tried to forget

Honestly I have had conversations/IMs/emails online that have gone quite well. Some have been interesting and even intelligent. But usually about the time I'm thinking that it's going well things shift...to the dark side of super ego or strangeness or they become "forward" (that's the way the guy below described it but I think he's understating it just a little bit).

"I have a feeling you might have a closet wild side. But I guess I kind of do. I mean I don't do anything too freaky I'm more about intense love making. I can give someone energy and it's a gift that takes two people that care to share it and explore it. I hate condoms and I hate flings. So even if we just date short term I can let you sample the intensity and vice versa. I'm not desperate and that's why I'm single still. I dont settle for just anyone. But I get impatient."

Actually maybe that is just mildly "forward" because I've also received emails which contained pictures of a saran-wrapped penis and a 45 yr old businessman in a diaper....
Of course when someone asks why you're still single you can't just up and tell them those things...it might just give them the wrong idea or the impression you're just picky....

9:06 PM

So that's how the Easter Bunny works!

I spoke with my nephews the other night. The youngest asked if the Easter Bunny had come to my house. When I told him no there was quite a pause at the other end of the line. Then he suggested that maybe the Easter Bunny had gotten lost coming this direction. I agreed that maybe that was the case. Then he said "maybe it's because you don't have a kid". Not a bad theory....it could also explain Santa's absence.

So of course not being content to leave that out there I said "well, should I get a boy or a girl then?". I should know that I won't get the answers I expect when I ask a seemingly logical next question with the boys; especially the younger one. My nephew then explained, "You should get a boy because then he could be your boyfriend and marry you and then you could have a baby."

And of course it follows that then the Easter Bunny would come. Seems like a long process for some chocolate...

8:47 PM

A little too Tammy Faye?

Has anyone else seen the stiletto mascara commercial and wondered if they were serious? It actually freaked me out a bit the first time I saw it...like spider legs growing out of that chick's face!
I tend to be influenced by marketing...I did actually buy Hiphop Abs after all....but I think it's safe to say that even my blondish lashes are afraid to purchase this product.

7:41 PM

Bran...not just for Grandmas any more!

I am still dragging myself to boot camp. Today it was tough to go but after 5 days off I knew that if I didn't go I might fall right off the wagon. I do feel great afterwards...ah the benefit of endorphins! Too bad they aren't addictive enough to make it easy to go in the first place.

Last week at class I had my measurements taken. Ladies, this is not something for the feint of heart. Some parts of me have moved into the 40s...and it wasn't just my body's water percentage. And when asked for my age I couldn't remember at first. Oh dear.

My dad also visited for Easter and as often happens when I have friends or family around, I easily succumbed to temptation and ate wonderful tasting things that will not be helping those measurements. Today feeling sluggish and snug in a skirt that I didn't remember being snug in the past I realized that I hadn't really eaten veggies since Thursday (unless we count hot spinach dip). In the past this would not have been a big deal. And I like veggies. But the 30s are not what the 20s were and apparently I am heading towards needing my fiber.

By 80 I might just be eating straight bran while doing water aerobics at this rate. Does anyone have a recipe for bran brownies??

9:25 PM

Trying to catch the wagon

Tonight was my second night of boot camp.

I woke up last night in the middle of the night because I hurt in all kinds of places. I'm not sure how or why but I dragged my sad, sore you know what back again tonight. At the moment just clearing my throat sends pain through my abs...or my ab area where one day I hope there will be abs.

The class is basically circuit training with hand weights but the exercises are never the same two nights in a row. I admit it, as the exercises went on I started to approach each new one thinking "what fresh hell is this?" By halfway through the first evening's class I started thinking mean thoughts about the instructor who has lost a very considerable amount of weight but still has a spare tire and how he should be perhaps joining us for what he was dishing out...yes, in far less polite terms.

But I have survived two nights and am hoping to make it through a third. Pray for me.

8:10 PM


I lost someone important this week.

She was a lady who was a role model for me in many ways. She was one half of the couple whom my parents had indicated would raise me and my sister if anything happened to them - an indication on paper of their trust, admiration and respect. They passed along those feelings to us in other ways; her house was the only place I was allowed to ride my bike to without question, she was the one to call if my mom didn't have a recipe or sewing answer and for medical advice. Her daughter was my best friend growing up and her home was the place that felt closest to my own.

We camped together as families, celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and dropping in for Christmas Eve at their house was one of my favorite traditions which I later tried to emulate at my own home. She made the best scrambled eggs when we camped and the only eggnog I have ever liked.

She was a career woman with ambition and the ability to pass on her knowledge - I have always admired the combination and never mastered it. She was pulled together and a calm head in a crisis. She had the most recipes for zucchini of anyone I know and the biggest garden I have ever seen. She never failed to make time for a coffee and a chat when I dropped by and sitting at her kitchen table was as comfortable as your best pair of jeans.

And yet for reasons I don't know or understand she felt she couldn't stay with us.

Sometimes people get lost. The voices of people who love them seem like they are far in the distance and they lose perspective. The good things are faded and the dark seems darker. Sometimes they aren't able to find their way back.

And we are left a little lost ourselves.

8:04 PM

What have I done?

OMG I signed up for a boot camp!

My"booty" has been getting a little more filled out than I'd like. And although I have had the best of intentions in getting back on the fitness wagon, it hasn't happened. So thinking desperate times call for desperate measures I looked at some boot camps offered locally and somehow was convinced to sign up for this one.

I am not a 5:30 a.m. person. I get up at about 6:15 a.m. and am not human until 9ish and that's with coffee (and yes I start work at 8). So I didn't sign up for the morning sessions - besides they're in the city and what time would I have to leave to do that?? Instead I'll go after work and then go home to curl up and die...after I spend an hour prepping my 5 or 6 meals for the next day...

6:39 PM

Don't try this at home

For anyone considering painting cabinets; I recommend finding out if someone in your area will spray the doors. I know if I ever undertake a kitchen again I will look into it. This time I checked out new cabinets first but decided they were too pricey. The house still has enough projects in it that budget is a big consideration.

Anyways, after the bubbling fiasco with the boxes I decided to prime the doors. I hate priming. And I hate foam brushes (that's what I decided to use on the non-flat parts).

But first I washed the doors. (Because I can take the heat for not doing that with the boxes.) I also removed the handles and taped all of the hinges because I'm not a dainty painter.

Then I primed...about halfway through I wondered about the whole project. And wondered if the uppers looked ok with the doors off...

But halfway through the first coat of "Soho" paint I was feeling better.

Which is a good thing since I'm betting on another 2 coats and these are only the uppers!

Who's coming over for the next round? I've ordered pizza....feel free to pick up slurpees!

8:43 PM

Giving up the dream

I drove to Didsbury today. And about 10 km outside of home I was in pea soup fog. Mother Nature is really not subtle.

The house is across from a gorgeous restored old home which makes it even more obvious that it is in quite a state of disrepair. There is another red brick character house within a couple of blocks but it's price is 100k more - which probably says something about the interior of the house with the star.

So I came home. And made homemade mushroom soup. And am baking brownies...made with pumpkin and whole wheat flour; but still brownies.

And am letting the dream of the house go.

While waiting for another one.

10:29 PM

Ok Lion...you've made your entrance

I went to Home Depot around 6 o'clock tonight for some painting supplies (more on that later) and we had been melting most of the day. I could see brown grass, the sidewalk and most of the road other than some bits of ice at the edges.

Amazing what can change here in a few hours. I looked out the window here and it's snowing and apparently has been for a while.

Mother Nature has been playing the lion or lamb? game here since March began. Calgary weather is a bit like this all year round. Just when you think it's spring or a second summer compliments of a chinook, she wallops you upside the head with her purse and you get snow...possible in every month of the year here!

I used to think that long, cold winters were hard to take. Once I was here, I wondered how I had survived them even. But there is something to be said for predictability. In Winnipeg you know that winter is winter and summer is summer and all of the seasons are well defined. From November to March you'd better plug in your car and have snow tires or at least good all seasons. There is no walking out in crop capris with a spring in your step thinking it's spring and getting inches of snow and -18 under 12 hours later. And let me tell you that there is something cruel and harsh about thinking that winter is over and finding out that it's not...over and over again.

Some of you know I have moved a lot. And changed jobs quite a lot. So I can't say that I don't like change. Actually, I can say that I don't like it but that I have learned it's a means to something better...almost always. And the sooner you embrace that and get on with it - kind of like ripping off a band-aid - the quicker the painful part is done. Except for weather changes in Calgary. A lot of times the something better doesn't stay...which is just unfair!

....Back to the painting...today's warmer, sunny weather made me feel better about winter coming to an end. For me, that inevitably means that my spirits lift and I get more productive and back to renos and plans and all of that good stuff. Which meant that today I found myself hauling up paint from the basement and deciding the kitchen cabinets needed a refresh. I went to the depot for some paintbrushes and looked at other inspirations such as countertops and hood fans.

I came back home and dove right in...just like every other project. I took all of the cabinet doors off and decided to start with only the uppers - I did learn a bit from past jumping into everything at once experiences. I poured "Soho" into the paint tray and began painting the cabinet boxes noticing as I moved on that the paint was kind of acting weird but figured maybe it was the mini foam roller. And so I optimistically continued...loving the new color and congratulating myself for starting a project and getting out of the doldrums. I went over some of the weird looking spots from the beginning and the second coat looked more normal.

And then I thought...what if the cabinets weren't previously painted with latex. (Even though I had done a nail polish remover test that seemed to indicate that they were)

And the weird look is latex reacting over oil.


It was shortly after that I realized that Mother Nature was having a hissy fit of her own.

I wonder what she was trying to remuddle today. Maybe I'll leave her a bowl of chocolate ice cream on the steps...can't hurt.

9:48 PM

Do we always want what we can't have?

Here it is, my dream house
http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=7914692 right down to the front porch and I even love the corny star. Want to bet those are lilacs at the corners?

But there it is in Didsbury. Didsbury isn't that easy a commute in the winter. It's not shorter in the summer but definitely less stressful driving at that time of year. And Didsbury is in a pretty area. And has a drive in hamburger joint....and it's halfway to Red Deer.

It's like a tease. It was initially listed at $189,900. I requested the full listing and saw the nice lot size, the picket fence that would even keep my sucky gigantasaurus dog in, the big kitchen and the hardwood floors. What? You don't really see those things? Ok, so it's a project. Those of you who know me know I'm all about projects...sad, seemingly unredeemable projects even. I might be a sarcastic prairie girl with a tough exterior but somehow I'm an optimist-softie at heart.

Then we got snow last week on Tuesday - enough that the highways were inadvisable and I worked from home and realized that an extra 30 mins on the highways would be brutal on days like that. But then the listing price dropped 30k. And it was like I could see the refinished floors, new kitchen and furniture on the porch. I could smell the fresh country air. I could see the pickup in the driveway. Today we got rain and then snow. As if to say, "ok woman, if the snow wasn't enough to make you drop that pipedream take this!".

Of course the more the price drops and the mortgage rates drop the cheaper it would be to own - before renos. Except for this little problem with my mortgage penalty which gets larger the more rates drop. (Huge lesson learned here about mortgage contracts -do not agree to an Interest Rate Differential penalty.) For those of you in the prairies...large is not 2-3k...it's like 10-12k. In a market that has dropped back to what values were when I purchased this project house that's a problem. Especially since my equity was used in no small part to getting rid of the problem vehicle (yes, I once owned an Aztek and not only was it ugly, it had major engine issues that GM was crappy about) and getting rid of the problem ex who had unfixable issues and no warranty either. Most days I figure getting rid of both were well worth the expenses. (Lessons learned here about depreciable assets - cars and husbands have both been in this category for me and about not letting the man in your life pick your vehicle)

It's not practical. It's not wise. It's not new and modern and unlikely to have great resale. It may not even be remotely possible. But I still love that house.

How do we stop falling in love with what we can't have? Or do we follow our hearts and just get good at picking up the pieces when we have to?

7:49 PM

Under the wagon

Well not only has the wagon lapped me but the last few weeks I've managed to let my sugar and carb cravings get the best of me. Including shamefully eating Starbucks caramel on cake and anything else I could think of.

So tonight I'm making cookies...healthy cookies though with oatmeal and all natural peanut butter and flax and dried apricots. And I've been throwing flax seed in other stuff, had oatmeal for breakfast twice this week and made sweet potato fries in the oven.

The exercise thing....well.....that's not going so well. The dog and I have gone for a few walks but other than previewing HipHop Abs I haven't given it a whirl. And although my gym membership is paid up, I haven't been there in quite a while.

Why does it seem like watching what you eat and exercising is easier sometimes than others?

And by the way, those cookies? Kind of blah....guess maybe they need some caramel sauce...

8:12 PM

I think the wagon is lapping me

Alright so I fell off the fitness wagon a while back...maybe even Octoberish. I was definitely off in November especially after I was the picture of grace at the Olympic Oval and fell on my knee..hard...I don't think it's supposed to turn black in under 90 seconds.

But now I have no excuse. After some physio to loosen up my neck and back post car accident (end of Oct.) and geting a little to fix up for the knee I really should have been back to the gym by now. And the last 2 days are showing me that I am way off track and going to need some serious work to get back to where I was at one point. Which still wasn't where I wanted to be!

Yesterday I decided to take my everloving hound for a walk. And because I feel guilty for not walking him more, I decided we would go big before we went home. We walked further than we ever have and were gone for an hour; I even threw in a few stints of jogging. I got home to discover that I looked like I did when I started exercising - the red v on my face and unattractive splotchiness. I also had hives - wtf?

So today I thought we should go again, but maybe not as far since I was hurting a bit. But then we got out there and I thought "you lazy woman - it's only dogwalking!" and so we repeated the same distance as yesterday. My best guess is it was somewhere between 6 and 7 km. I can't keep up with my dog in all honesty and he's been as lacking in exercise as I have.

Right now I'm realizing that you can get shin splints walking the dog, which means that you are in sad shape. And your HipHop Abs tape will probably kill you. And you shouldn't have ordered Chinese takeout on Saturday and still be eating it or you will be hauling it with you on the next walk and maybe the walking would be easier with less of you to haul.

The wagon analogy is sadly appropriate...I remember trying to catch up and get back on a hay ride once. It's so much harder than just staying on the wagon. In fact there is likely to come a day when you wish the wagon would just run you over on it's next lap...

6:45 PM

And they ask why I'm still single

A peek into the world of online dating:

From: panda beer
Subject: i would like to talk to u

i would like to talk ot you you sound a lot like me i am looking for a down to earth pure of heart woman who likes icecream slurrppees getting up and going i like the mountains banff is just one of my many parradises i work 5 days a week and am honest caring of the people how meen the most to me i like to kick back on hte patio with the bbq going and a cold one i am my own person i like things easy not hared i hope to here from you

From: Positive Note
Subject: Beyond Average Can you handle it ?

You are looking for somone like me. Sorry for being so bold as to say that, but the more you allow yourself to get to know me the more you will realize how honest and correct I am.

From: ed_999
Subject: u never know

hello im ED and i read your profile and think maybe we should try to chat and see if they is something there since we both have the same out look on live and ny pic doesnt do me justice but that is live well ill let u back to what ever u were doing and let u deside for your and hope we can chat bye for now

Subject: Hello

Your words are insperational.

But Having been married for almost 20 years I can tell you that a lady changes a man regardless of his independence before they have met. Its like having not influenced the course of time by simply being there to photograph a crucial momoent in time.

If you are turely looking for a man who is not influenced by a lady, then please do not respond. If you believe that you can change the path of planets and comets that please just smile.

8:09 PM

Resolution procrastination plans busted

My copy of HipHop Abs showed up in the mail on Friday. It has been staring at me all day today...or maybe I just feel like that because there are 3 dogs in the house so someone is always trying to get something! No, I didn't lose my mind and get Boo a posse; I'm dogsitting (and it could be enough to convince me that 1 dog is enough.)

Now if I could just convince myself to open the DVD player and pop in Shaun T...

6:06 PM

Take that, resolution!

This past weekend I cleared the papers off of my desk in my home office. I also cleared the growing piles of magazines off of the coffee table. It was a sucky job but phew does it look much better...other than the pieces of the new and "simpler" desk...

In theory, that white desk will go between the bookcases and replace the glass and metal desk which can then be sold or given away. That's assuming that I can get it put together in a fashion that will support a computer on top of it. Don't ask how the file cabinet is put together.

The living room with it's new chair now looks like this:

And the dining room has new curtains and may get a new paint job to kind of match the living room drapes and chair...

Yes, I realize that the dog bed and assortment of toys don't go with the decor. And neither does the ottoman but it's a throwback that my grandfather used and we played on as kids and then my mom covered for my first place. Eventually it will go down to the basement or something. The cream chair's matching loveseat sized sofa is down there already but there is no television in the basement and no man in the house to require that the basement become an entertainment mecca.

I have to say that the house is coming along though. Some of you may not remember the purple dining room, red living room, orange kitchen, bright blue and bright pink bedrooms and khaki master bedroom but I do. A quick recap...

Some days I still find it frustrating that I can see so-so workmanship on the trim or light fixtures that I have yet to replace. Another big change in the last almost 3 years is that I now have a kind of affection for my reno palace. It is what it is but it's mine and it's getting there...and so am I most days.

1:55 PM

Shell game

So this mortgage thing is not so easy. Rates are very low but I have learned a lesson about mortgage contracts. Apparently my penalty is based on the Interest Rate Differential (IRD) rather than 3 mos of interest. This means that as rates drop, my penalty actually increases...and not just a little...it's up about 40% from what it was in September. And as the market here slows and house values drop, I'd likely need to insure my mortgage which means CMHC fees. What all of this means is to move my mortgage, I would be backtracking with the hope of getting ahead in the longer term. This is a concept I'm familiar with having done it in other areas of my life and I think maybe I really am an optimist!

I'm meeting with a broker this week to crunch numbers some more. It looks like it would take me almost the full remaining term of my mortgage to break even. The perks would be lower payments (although I'm looking to increase those to what I pay now to try to make some tracks but with the flexibility to drop them if I needed to), possibly being in a position to be at a lower rate in the future when rates are predicted to be high and flexibility based on portability with an institution that lends outside Alberta as well. And of course a chance to renegotiate the terms and review the penalties more closely.

In the meantime I'm working away at the credit cards. They freak me out a bit but are far less complex than the mortgage. And yes, in case you didn't know, finances scare the bejeebus out of me. Change in general used to as well so I'm hopeful that if I keep jumping into the finance stuff it will become more doable...just like job changes and moves.

I'm making slow tracks on the resolutions but haven't given up. I even ordered Hip Hop Abs this week! And I have gotten back to doing the exercises from my physio. I'm hedging on the gym until it quiets down there a bit.

In other news, one of the rotten back gates attacked (blew against) the other side of the car one morning this week and a chip in the windshield turned into a big crack. One of my friends suggested that maybe this car is destined to be a beater...argh! I have also picked out a new color for the dining room. Yes, this room has already been painted once but that was to cover up Barney purple so I'm not sure that really counts. How does "Reflecting Pool" sound?

Technically it's Chinese New Year this week so I'm not really behind on the resolutions...

9:45 PM

Time to go walkabout?

I'm a homebody...a nester even. I'm happiest when surrounded by a familiar environment and people I know. Unless on the odd occasion I have a few drinks and transform into a social butterfly...but that's another story...or stories.

But for a homebody I've moved a lot of times. And a couple of moves have been long distance. The apartment and house moves I can explain...you get to nest all over again when you move. And the others, well, you might think you get to nest closer or better with the person you love if it's just the two of you on your own in a far off place. Of course if you were me, you'd be wrong but hey, it seemed worth a shot at the time.

For the last 2 years I've been playing with the idea of a holiday. Not just a holiday but a find yourself kind of holiday. An "Eat, Pray, Love" experience condensed into a week at a reasonable budget type price.

This kind of holiday:

5:56 PM

This week in review

Parking spot on closest bay gets "plowed" leaving a large windrow behind...good-bye parking spot. Proceed to dig out a space in the back yard and pry open the rotten wooden gates.

Get 5 cm of snow. Shovel space out again.

Slide into corner of gate with car and catch rim on eye-bolt. Go into house and cry about damage to newly repaired car.

Run load of darks in laundry. Go down to switch to dryer and wonder about the smell of bleach. Remember putting bleach in washer last weekend to sit before running rinse cycle....forgot to run rinse cycle! Casualties include 2 pairs of dress pants, many black socks etc.


ps. On the upside, I went to an auction on Saturday and purchased this lovely showhome chair for under $100.

9:07 PM

Score one for the resolutions...or maybe a half?

This weekend I organized my closet...or should I say closets, since I am taking up both of the "jack and jill" closets in my master bedroom. At one point I did share these closets but I've happily overflowed into both of them. I thought I had cleared out the clothes I wasn't wearing a few times before but apparently there were still quite a few optimistic articles of clothing in there. Either I thought they would look better at some point, or maybe I'd figure out what to put with them or they would bring me back to fun days of yore (ok, so those were the miniskirts talking).

So now there is a half of one side of the closets completely open. Hey, it's a start. And of course there's a theory that when you clear clutter out of your life, you make room for new and better things to come in....

I've also managed a couple of walks with the hound. No, that's not exactly getting back to the gym but it's a step in the right direction so to speak. And then there's the exercise ball compliments of my physio...which I haven't fallen off of yet.

Next steps....finish putting together that dam*ed filing cabinet and work up to more walks and setting foot back in the gym.

11:10 AM

Sensationalism and the economy

I notice that the headlines about the economy are getting more and more desperate in trying to convince us all just how horribly the sky is falling. Most of the numbers being published now about job losses and the economic downturn are from November and December. These numbers certainly tell us something about what was happening at that time but they are not predictors of what will happen next. The irony of the media continuing to flog old numbers confirming that the economy took a hit is that these same people have no idea what is coming and that's why we're not seeing anything specific about when things will improve.

They could be improving right now but we won't know until January's numbers are analyzed and published.

Apparently I'm not the only one out there who is feeling optimistic about things contrary to how the media would like me to feel (see this article about surprising consumer confidence numbers in December). I'm not saying that I am not trying to be cautious - per my New Year's resolution I'm working on cleaning up my credit cards, but realistically, I would be trying to do that whatever the economy was doing.

This week one of the articles that made me chuckle a bit was about how the increase in gas prices was going to hurt consumers. This increase was from around 65 cents per litre to 74 cents per litre or a 9 cent per litre increase. Yes, this is a significant increase but it seems like the media has lost sight of the fact that at one point we were paying over $1.35 per litre and we're a long ways from that right now. I do prefer paying less at the pump but I find it funny that at it's highest we weren't hearing a lot about how those gas prices were an indicator of a slumping economy - we were still in an economic party-time apparently. I kind of felt like we were just paying for someone else's party.

It would be nice if the media would lay off telling us that the world is going to come to a crashing end when they don't know what's coming next. There are people out there who are truly suffering from job loss, housing value decreases and stock market crashes and I feel for them.

But I get the impression that months after the economy has improved, the media will be reacting in shock and telling us that it may not last...they're the glass half empty people who always have to tell you the story of the guy who won the lottery and got hit by a bus the next day when you tell them about your own win. I think we all need to remember that they are only able to report was has happened and not what is going to happen - especially since even they admit that this downturn is not following a pattern of any previous downturn.
Have you ever seen little kids playing soccer or hockey? And they're all chasing the puck or ball as a gaggle and when it changes direction they kind of stumble over each other and it takes them a minute to all get turned around and head the other way? Media reporting feels a lot like that to me.

As with most things in life, I think people need to trust their guts. And apparently in December our guts were telling us it was ok to shop...mine told me it was ok to buy new boots on sale this week. And I wasn't the only one out shopping. Those short brown suede boots don't just go with a lot of brown work wear in my closet...they're me showing confidence in our ability to recover....you can show your support with shoes, groceries or whatever makes you happy!

3:47 PM

Ah Resolutions or New Year's Optimism

Well I am finally starting to feel a bit better. Who knows whether it's the ColdFX, Oil of Oregano and Vitamin C combo or just being out of commission for a week and letting the bug run its course that has led to my slow recovery but either way I'll take it!

So now that the fog is clearing, it seems I have some resolution catching up to do. Not that I haven't tried to think of them a bit but it's been impossible to have many solid thoughts with all the crud in my head getting in the way. I'm thinking about working towards being healthy, wealthy and wise in 2009:

  • Get my body in better order aka Get my a** back to the gym or into some kind of exercise regime and stop eating the leftover Christmas baking. I did mention Hiphop Abs in passing previously but I was only half joking...it might be worth a shot! A subsidiary of this resolution is to get my closet in order...looks like it's time to pitch some more things and tidy up again. I also need to figure out a better way to store shoes, purses and jewellery so that I actually might use them to better advantage. Of course if the ladies from the Cityline fashion segment want to stop by and help me pull together some outfits that would be fantastic.

  • Get my financial house in better order - this will involve getting up the guts to speak to one or more mortgage consultants about refinancing with a better rate and shorter amortization which on paper should result in paying down the mortgage quicker as well as decreasing my payments a little. Next up, if I get a raise (which I'm supposed to so I should say "when" not "if") I should increase my RRSP contributions (which are paltry right now) since I can't contribute to a pension plan for another year and a half. And there is always the ongoing battle to pay off the credit cards. I managed not to use them for Christmas purchases so hopefully I am off to a good start. I know that you should pay them off monthly but I haven't ever managed that so that is a big goal for me.

  • Get my home records in better order - there is a new desk and file cabinet waiting to be put together in my office...in truth the file cabinet is part ways together but it wasn't going well so it needs to be continued. I have lots of filing to do but am hopeful that once I get started I will have a system that I can stick to.

There it is! Wish me luck! And of course suggestions as well as encouragement are welcome.

10:23 AM

How many Benylin days can you take?

I have to say that I really hate that Advil Cold commercial where the woman says "If you think a cold can stop me, you don't know me!". After being sick for 4 days now and stopped in my tracks - well other than the tracks I make from the bed to the couch right now I have started paying attention to all of the cold and flu commercials that are on. The Benylin commercial advises us to "Take a Benylin day" and "how about today you just work on feeling better" which seems far more realistic and less pressuring than the Advil Cold people showing me a woman who looked like hell now emerging from a workout and marching on towards work.

I mean, I already feel like crap and pathetic about barely functioning, do I need to be made to feel even worse? And as a note, I've been trying the Advil Cold and I'm not feeling any better so today I'm trying the Benylin...I've also picked up ColdFX, vitamin C lozenges, orange juice, Thai green curry sauce, chicken noodle soup and Thai coconut ginger soup as well as taking my regular vitamin B complex and One a Day vitamins and I've added oil of oregano capsules. Oh and yesterday I soaked in as hot a tub as I could stand in eucalyptus scented epsom salts.

Later today maybe I'll comment on all of the programs that are on about losing weight and getting in shape. I think that they've been created by the same people as the Advil Cold commercial people....

ps - on the other hand, after 3 days of seeing the Hiphop Abs infomercial I might be sold..."how about today we just work on some dance moves and see if you feel better?" seems like a good approach.