Friday, August 29, 2008

Show and Tell Friday / Farewell

Show and Tell

It's surprising how much memory is built around
things unnoticed at the time. ~ Barbara Kingsolver

Today is Show and Tell Friday, hosted by Kelli at There is No Place Like Home. She's a talented crafter and fabulous cook, and her blog always brings me joy when I visit. Check her out when you have a moment.

My Show and Tell Friday is for the birds! I've posted before about how much I enjoy bird watching and bird listening (is there such a term??) I also bring birds into my home.

Well, not real birds... at least, not while I have two cats!

I want to share with you a few things sitting on top of a cabinet in my dining room:

Everything here has special meaning to me. The metal apple planter was a gift from my best friend Jeanne. The little birds tucked into the ivy came from a plant given to me by coworkers when my Mom passed away ten years ago. The wooden cardinal came from a brief time I lived in Ohio, and had those beautiful birds outside my window every day. Even the cat, hidden in the ivy and watching the birds closely, was a gift from a former coworker at the Humane Society of Utah.

Let me show you a few of my favorite pieces...

This goose is designed by Jim Shore. Isn’t the detail exquisite? I discovered Shore's work long before I became a quilter, then had to laugh when I started into the craft. No wonder I was drawn to his work, since he incorporates quilt designs in many of his pieces! I have a large collection of his Santas and holiday angels, which I'll share in a future Show and Tell.

This little guy is pretty special. I love quail, for one thing. I don’t see them much in our yard here in southern CA (although I can hear them) but back home in Utah, they came every day. We had a covey we called Dan Quail and all the little quails! But this little carving is doubly special because of the letter Q. Many years ago, my dear friend Scott nicknamed me (now don’t laugh!) Queen Dottie, but in our email exchanges, I usually just go by Q. So this little quail has a double meaning.

This charming little birdhouse and nest was a gift from my middle stepdaughter Lizzie. Marjolein Bastin, who creates so many cute things for Hallmark, designed it. When you lift the lid of the bird house, the inscription inside reads: Like sweet moments in nature, Friendship fills life with special delights

Amen to that!

Finally, I had to show a cute wall hanging from my youngest stepdaughter. The kids all know how much I love birds, and Megan felt this little metal angel was perfect for me - and she's right: my heart IS for the birds!

* * * * *

This will be my last post for a few weeks. We fly to Alaska on Sunday and won't be back until mid-September. Yes, my fondest wish is to see lots of birds, especially puffins! Be safe and have fun this Labor Day holiday.

Until next time...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell
where his influence stops. ~ Henry Brooks Adams

I had another tutoring session tonight with Mark (the last before a two week break for Alaska!) and all I can say is, "thanks!"

Thank you to all the teachers who had the patience to instruct me throughout the years. Trying to return the favor now by helping my adult student learn to be a better reader is a real challenge. I am so grateful to those who did their best to get all this information into my young brain. My old brain is finding it tough to bring all that deeply buried data into the light of day!

One aspect of this tutoring process that I'm really enjoying is the chance to put my personal spin on how I conduct our time together. For instance: if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know by now that I love quotes. So I open every tutoring session with a quote. Here's the one I used tonight:

I started this a few weeks ago, showing Mark an uplifting quote, then asking him what he thought it meant. Now that I've explained what paraphrasing is all about, I ask him to paraphrase the quote for me. Then we discuss whether the quote is literal or figurative. I'm finding quotes to be a great teaching tool, and I'm hoping some of their messages are getting through to my twenty-year-old incarcerated student.

As Mark has grown to trust me, I've learned that he is prison with a felony conviction for armed robbery. He'll be released in December, right before Christmas. The other night, he mentioned in the context of a passage we were studying that his first trip to juvenile hall happened when he was eleven years old. Eleven! I find it all so hard to imagine. I truly hope that he's ready to turn his life around and put all that behind him. I hope he's strong enough to do so.

Mark is working hard to learn to write essays, a skill he'll need to pass his GED. Right now, I've got him working on an essay comparing and contrasting the poetry of Langston Hughes with the lyrics of Tupac Shakur - Mark's favorite rap artist. Even stodgy old me has to admit that there are quite a number of similarities. I'm glad I thought to give him this assignment: he's finding it fun to do, and I like watching his face light up when he thinks of another topic sentence.

Tonight we discussed synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, and homophones. Oy - my brain hurt by the time I left! But to help him work on increasing his vocabulary, I took in a little gift for him tonight:

He seemed genuinely touched by such a small thing, and I wondered if anyone had ever given him the gift of a book? I hope these help him come to believe in himself a bit more. He's such a bright young man who has made some monumentally stupid mistakes in his short life.

So, as the kids are heading back to school, I once again say thanks to all teachers. I can't imagine the many hours you put in, preparing lessons and staying late. I know you don't get paid anywhere near what your profession is worth. But I'm so grateful for all you do, for all my teachers did for me. I am a passionate reader and a decent writer, and I have a life-long love of learning. I'm hoping that I can pass along even a small piece of this to Mark.

Until next time...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Making a List, Checking it Twice...

When preparing to travel,
lay out all your clothes and all your money.
Then take half the clothes and twice the money.
~ Susan Heller

I mentioned a few posts back that I had planned to make a leaf block, using up the fabrics in my stash. I wanted to do something scrappy in Autumn colors, which I gravitate toward and so have lots of extra fabric pieces. Each block will be unique, but I'm using only my reds, browns, greens, etc. so the over-all look will say FALL. The lovely green fabric of the appliquéd stem will also make up the sashing around each block. As you can probably see, the stem is still pinned in place. This may be as far as I get on this piece before we leave for Alaska this weekend.



We're in major countdown mode this week, which means making lists, starting to lay out items that we want to take along, etc. We'll be gone for two weeks, so there's a lot to take with us. We're flying into Anchorage, renting a car, and spending the full two weeks on the Kenai Peninsula. We'll take a marine wildlife day cruise on Prince William Sound, another day cruise through the Kenai Fjords National Park... we'll spend four days in Homer, visiting both museums and tide pools. Hubby will fish for halibut while I fish for quilt fabric! If we're not too late in the season, we'll see whales in Cook Inlet while we fish for salmon, outside the town of Kenai. We'll end our trip back at Anchorage.

I've always teased my husband about his analytical mind, but I have to admit that I'm very grateful right now for his way of thinking. He's an engineer and has a calm, orderly way of thinking through what needs to be done. I would likely get to Anchorage and realize I'd forgotten to pack the camera charger or all my underwear, or something! But we make a good team: he'll remember the maps, which will get us around; I'll remember the music for the car, which will make the journey pleasant.

And speaking of pleasant... see the house in the photo below, overlooking Katchemak Bay?

That's where we'll be staying for those four nights in Homer. Ahhhh... you can probably see why this trip is all I can think about these days!

Until next time...

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Surprise in the Mail!

How beautiful a day can be
When kindness touches it! ~ George Elliston

Look at the cute note cards I received in the mail this week from my sister-in-law Sue, who lives in Wisconsin. She says she thought of me as soon as she saw the quilt designs. Aren't they darling? They're embossed so you can feel the quilted pattern of each design. Thank you, Sue!

The cards above are the traditional double-wedding ring pattern (click on any photo for a closer view.) Both sets of cards have pretty matching envelopes.

This pack is based on quilted hexagons...
They look a little like a honeycomb, don't you think? Obviously the designer thought so, too because there is the cutest little embossed bee right in the center...

I have to admit to being partial to the hexagon cards, simply because of the fall colors. Plus it's a design I particularly like. Sue doesn’t know how timely her gift is: look at one of the projects I'm currently working on...

These are little hexagon flowers I've been creating for months now, made with cheery Mary Engelbreit fabrics. My photo doesn't do it justice: the colors are vibrant and bright. This project will travel with me to Alaska, since it's very portable and can be worked on in the car, in the cabin, or on a kayak.

Ok, maybe not a kayak - but you get my point!

* * * * *

Speaking of Alaska... this is our last weekend before our trip. We leave a week from this Sunday! Boy, that's hard to believe: where has this year gone? I made all the arrangements back in February and March, when August seemed so far away.

I'm actually considering trying kayaking while we're in Homer. Have any of you done it? I'm rather nervous at the idea because, you see - ahem - I don't swim. But I think it would be a great way to see wildlife and to have some beautiful, quiet time in nature. We're considering using an outfitter who would send a guide, and he/she could be in my kayak to keep me from drowning upright.

We have a lot to do this weekend, to get things ready around here so we can be gone for two weeks. We went through all the reservations last night, and our itinerary day-by-day so we could be sure everything is in place. I made a to-do list (which is very short, thank goodness) and Hubby made a packing reminder list, so we don't forget anything. Nine days and counting!

Have a great weekend!

Until next time...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Future's So Bright...

If I could wish for my life to be perfect,
it would be tempting but I would have to decline,
for life would no longer teach me anything.
~ Allyson Jones

I gained 1/2 pound last night at weigh in, and I'm ok with that. I know I'm losing: my clothes feel so much looser. One lesson I learned from successfully losing weight once is that the scale is not always the best indicator of how I'm truly doing. It's simply feedback. As the leader of my private weight loss group always says, "The scale is evil and fickle!" Amen to that!

But we had an interesting discussion last night that's been running through my head today. This question was posed to each of us:

If you had to choose an object that represented your future,
what would it be?

It’s an interesting question, don't you think?

The very first thing that came to my mind, without even thinking, was the sun. Why? The sun represents my future because I believe my future is very bright.

I thought after the meeting that the others might have found my answer to be a bit egotistical. It isn’t at all. I don’t think I'm going to cure cancer, or win the lottery, or become the next superstar from American Idol.

But my future feels very bright to me because I'm finally - finally! - beginning to feel at peace with myself.

If you had asked me this question 18 months ago, I would have had a very different response. That was a hard time for me... I had gained back the weight I worked so hard to lose (I was fat!), I was turning 50 (I was old!), and I was finding that my life-long dream of being in business for myself really wasn’t going to work for me (I was a loser!) I felt that I’d let myself down in so many ways. My future felt very dark and unfulfilling.

I guess that’s where the image of the sun comes in. It’s shining once again, and illuminating the path ahead. It's taken me 18 months but I now know that I have many gifts that I can share without being thin, or young, or in business for myself. There is a great sense of peace that comes from knowing you’re not going to be the world’s greatest anything – you’re just going to be who you are, and that’s enough!

Because I’m the curious type, let me pose the same question to you (Leslie, if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll post your wonderful answer from last night!):

If you had to choose an object that represented your future,
what would it be – and why?

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

HYC / Light a Candle

There are two ways of spreading light:
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
~ Edith Wharton

Tonight is weigh-in, and I'm not sure what results I'll see. It's been an up-and-down week as far as food is concerned. Most of it's been good: I've journaled, but not as carefully as in weeks past. So we'll see what happens tonight. Either way, the week is over as of this evening, and I can put it behind me and have a fresh start in the morning.

* * * * *

Do you like candles?

I'm kinda crazy about 'em. Maybe obsessive might be a better term! I find the flickering flame to be so soothing to my spirit. A lovely scent doesn't hurt, either.

Hubby and I spent time last summer in upper Wisconsin, at the lakeside cottage of his twin brother and his wife. They are very early risers, usually getting up before the sun did. Hubby and I, not so much (besides, we were on California time!) When we did finally crawl out of bed, we'd find a glowing candle burning on the kitchen counter each morning. I thought it was such a nice way to begin the day. So I started the same tradition in my home.

As I type this, an Autumn Gold Yankee Candle is glowing here on the computer desk. I wish blogs came with scratch-and-sniff, so you could smell it! It brings a feeling of Fall to the air.

I light this one when I'm sewing. It smells like fresh cut grass. And it's made with soy wax, which I understand is a better way to go than traditional wax. I don't know about that: I just know that it smells wonderful!

This one is in our bedroom. True Bliss - isn't that great name? Again, I wish you could smell the tangerine/vanilla combination. It's a little slice of heaven!

Now, lest you be thinking otherwise, I do NOT own stock in Yankee Candle Company! I just happen to like theirs best. But really, when you're looking for something to calm you down or perhaps to lift your mood, any candle will do. I think it's the act of lighting it, of taking a moment to do something special for yourself that makes it work. The lovely scent is just an added bonus.

What simple things do you do to feed your spirit and soothe your soul? I hope you'll share a thought or two. We can all use ideas on simple ways to care for ourselves.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Little Quilts

Our lives are like quilts - bits and pieces,
joy and sorrow, stitched with love. ~ Unknown

Jeanne is my oldest and dearest friend. We met when we were 15 years old, and have been BFF's ever since. So when I took up quilting, the first project I actually finished was a gift for her. I wanted to do a little mini-quilt for a couple of reasons: I wanted to actually finish a project (I have lots of UFOs - unfinished objects!) But I also needed to mail it to her in Japan, so little was good.

Like me, Jeanne was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. But for the past 18 months, she's been living in the area of Fukui, where she teaches English as a second language. I knew there wasn't a lot of room in the small apartment she shares with her husband and teenaged son. So a mini-quilt fit the bill perfectly. She recently emailed me the photo above, to show me where it hangs. She tells me it greets her every morning. I'm glad!

Here's the back of her quilt, with the label I created (click on any of the quilt photos below for a closer view of the fabrics):

After I made that little quilt, I turned right around and made a second one for my sister. When I made the first mini, I followed the pattern exactly, using different fabrics for each area. When I did my sister's mini-quilt, I wanted a more unified look. The little heart in the middle is an addition I made, and it was my first attempt at appliqué. The whole quilt is 24 inches square:

Finally... several people have asked about the "grand prize" table runner I gave away for Scale Junkie's Summer Blog Party Contest. Here's a photo of the finished piece. No one can say it isn't bright!

Rebecca over at Ready Maid won the runner. But I'm wondering if any of you have heard from her recently? She hasn't posted anything in quite some time, and I haven't heard if my package arrived. I’m not so concerned about the latter, but I'm praying that everything is ok with her.

So, there you have it: a couple of quilt pieces I've created over the past year. I can certainly see that my quilting has come a long way from those beginning attempts, yet somehow they still hold a special place in my heart. I hope that one day, I can look back at the pieces I'm creating today and say that I've come even farther.

Hey, my weight-loss expression applies to quilting, too -- and actually, to every part of our lives, if you think about it:

Progress, not perfection!

Until next time...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mish Mash Friday Post

There is little chance that meteorologists can solve
the mysteries of weather until they gain an
understanding of the mutual attraction of
rain and weekends. ~ Arnot Sheppard

Ahhh, it's the weekend! I'm very grateful Friday is here. I don't even have a formal job, and I'm still thinking, "TGIF!" Some weeks are just like that, and this was one of them.

* * * * *

Hubby and I were awakened at 1:30 this morning by the strangest sound. We had to lie there and listen for quite some time to recognize it, since it had been so darn long since we'd last heard it...

It was raining!

I realize that this would be no big deal for many of you. But here in my corner of southern California, rain is a rare thing. We've been in a draught for so long that I honestly can’t remember the last time it stormed. It was wonderful to lie in bed this morning, listening to the rain come down. What a soothing sound!

My tomatoes are happy this morning...

So are the pomegranates. Our bush is loaded this year! They won't be ready to harvest until October and November, though. Only a few of them are just starting to turn red.

* * * * *

Part of why I'm so glad it's Friday is that this old brain of mine is tired. It's been asked to think about things it hasn't accessed in 30 years or more!

When was the last time you sat down and diagramed a sentence? I'm talking verbs and nouns and subjects and predicates? Now, if you're a teacher, you're not allowed to answer my question: you probably do it for a living (and God bless you for it!) But for those of us who are not professionals...

I did two tutoring session with Mark this week, and I honestly feel like I'm only one step ahead of him when it comes to this stuff. It's not that I don’t know how to write a proper sentence: most of us who blog are fairly decent writers, and we can spot grammatical errors a mile away. But trying to teach someone these basic ideas we learned decades ago is really taxing. As I keep telling Mark, our brains are like a muscle that just needs to be stretched and strengthened, to get in top shape. Well folks, my brain is sore from working out this week! I'm truly not complaining: I love what I'm doing. I just wish my recall was a bit better!

* * * * *

Do you like blueberries? If so, head over to Pea's Corner. She's giving away blueberries - well, not real berries, but the next best thing! It's a basket full of blueberry-themed goodies such as tea and soap and note cards, etc. Be sure to stop by and tell her hello.

* * * * *

I hope you have plans to do something fun and relaxing this weekend? We've got friends coming for dinner Saturday night, which is always nice. I'm going to be studying sentence structure at some point this weekend. Oh boy! But I'm also starting another quilting project. I'm designing a scrappy quilt, to use up some of my leftover fabrics from other projects...

I've got lots of little three-inch squares already cut, ready to be pieced into what I hope will be a leaf block. Pretty apropos for autumn, don’t you think – which is just around the corner. Stay tuned, and watch it grow!

Have a great weekend!

Until next time...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Lighter Heart

Flaming enthusiasm,
backed up by horse sense and persistence,
is the quality that most frequently makes for success.
~Dale Carnegie

My heart and I are celebrating this morning.

I dropped 3.5 pounds at last night's weigh in! That brings my five-week total to 12 pounds, which means I earned some bling (see my side bar.) All that journaling I've been doing is paying off big time. Yay me (heck no, I'm not proud of myself!)

Yesterday when I was rearranging things in one of our closets, I ran across two five-pound dumbbells. When I lifted them to move them to a different spot, I was amazed at how heavy they were. Last night, when I got home from my meeting, I picked up those dumbbells again and handed them to my hubby. I said, "This is how much less weight my legs will have to haul around on our hikes in Alaska. This is how much lighter my heart will be."

He was impressed.

For those of us who have 50, 100, 200 pounds to lose, it can feel overwhelming to think about how far we have to go. And the more you have to lose, the less significant the beginning losses can feel. So do yourself a favor next time you're at the grocery store. Pick up something that weighs the same amount you've lost: a five-pound bag of sugar; a ten-pound sack of potatoes; a 28-pound container of cat litter, etc. Pick up two of everything, if you've worked hard to lose that much! The idea is to realize how much less of a burden your body has to carry. Then put down your load and celebrate the lighter feeling. Your knees, your feet, and your heart will thank you!

Another trick I've learned is to not look too far ahead on this journey. After you celebrate how far you've come, it's easy to get discouraged when you then think how far you still have to go. So don’t do it! Set your sites on your next milestone. I've lost 12 pounds so for me, that milestone is 15 pounds. For right now, I'm not thinking any farther than that. I hope I can encourage you to do the same.

I'm going to celebrate my success this morning by going to Starbucks for a non-fat latte with one Splenda. I need some time to think about how I'm going to teach verbs to my student tonight. He's a wiz at nouns and adjectives and pronouns, but I need to find a way to teach him that verbs are all about action. Maybe I'll have him look at this sentence to pick out the verbs:

Pattie has lost 12 pounds, and she's one very happy camper!

Until next time...

Monday, August 11, 2008

HYC / Less Neurotic?

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Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds
if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.
~ Doug Larson

My weigh-in won’t happen until Tuesday night, but I’m feeling good about the past two weeks. I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve been pretty darn fine! I’ve tracked my food for 12 out the past 14 days, and I know that will help at the scale. More importantly, I can feel a difference in my body. Progress, not perfection!

The latest issue of Bon Appétit magazine has a fascinating article called "The Food Writer’s Diet." Melissa Clark, food writer and cookbook author, eats for a living (can you imagine such a thing??) Yet she maintains a svelte figure – and evidently, is not the only one of her colleagues with this distinction.

Clark claims the key to being a thin professional eater is eating only the foods she truly loves, but less of them – and none of the foods she doesn’t like or want. She eats a little of the yummy stuff, then supplements with fruits and veggies to help keep her full. She also won’t eat foods that are bland and unappetizing.

I can’t honestly say the same about my diet. I can think of many times I’ve continued to eat something that wasn’t very exciting, not even particularly tasty -- but it was there. So I continued eating it. Does that sound at all familiar?

The article offers a few other tips worth noting, some of which we already know. Never skip a meal; have a healthy snack like an apple before dinner; practice portion control and conscious eating; always leave food on your plate; exercise often and with intensity.

But the thing that keeps running through my head is the closing paragraphs:

… the most important way that food writers control their eating is, ironically, by not being too controlling… I really think the happier and less neurotic you are about what you’re eating, the less likely you’ll become big as a house.

Think about the basic idea behind that hugely popular book, The Secret. The Law of Attraction says that we draw to ourselves the same energy we expend into the world. So if we’re miserable and constantly thinking about how deprived we feel when we’re dieting, doesn’t it stand to reason that this is exactly the kind of negative energy we’ll keep attracting back to ourselves?

Or to put it in a less new-agey kind of way: if you hate what you’re eating and hate your life because you can’t have any of the good stuff – why in the world do you expect to successful at losing weight? How long can you keep it up?

Not for long. I know. Been there and done that. Willpower doesn’t work for very long; deprivation doesn’t work at all. Tell me I can’t have a slice of cake and that’s exactly what I focus on – having a slice of cake (or two or three because I felt so deprived, poor me!)

So what do you think? Is there something to the idea of being less neurotic and obsessive about what we put in our mouths, and choosing to eat a little of the foods that make us happiest? Would this make a difference on our journey toward good health? I'm curious what you think.

Until next time…

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Day at the Beach

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon
is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing
was not boring - it was peace.
~ Milan Kundera

We spent a couple of hours this afternoon at the beach. It was our first visit to a spot that allows dogs so of course, we took our "grand-dog" Jenna.

We don’t have grandchildren yet. But we do have three pets that once belonged to the kids, all of whom felt the animals would be better off staying with us when they moved out. So we started referring to them as our "grand" animals: Jenna, an almost 100-pound lab mix, and Boo Boo and her daughter Buster, two black and white 'cow' cats. Those three live with us, but we have other grand-animals who live with their owners, our daughters. Hubby and I are affectingly known as Grandpa and Grandma.

Yeah, I know: it's a little odd. But we love all of our four-legged family members. I do sometimes wonder how confusing this might be when the actual grandchildren come along!

We had a great time at the beach. The weather was beautiful; the skies were blue as can be. Our middle daughter brought her dog Lady, and her friends had their dogs, too. At one point, there were five happy dogs playing in the sand, chasing a tennis ball through the waves, and making friends all up and down the beach with the other dogs (and their humans) who had come for some fun in the sun.

We don’t get to the ocean very often, and every time we go, I wonder why we don’t do it more often. We're only about 15 minutes away. But something else always seems to be more important. Isn’t that how it goes: it's hard to take time away, just to relax and enjoy friends and family, to take advantage of the incredible weather and the beautiful setting.

The dogs certainly had the right idea. They played long and hard today! Jenna's snoring soundly on the couch as I type this, exhausted from her day in the sun. And the cats?

They're wondering why they weren’t invited to go to the beach. But they would have hated it there today: too many dogs!

Until next time...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Scale

If you bite it, you write it!
If you nibble it, you scribble it!
~ Weight Watchers mantra

Have you seen the latest news? A new study finds that dieters can double their weight loss by writing down everything they eat.

A pain the rear? Amen! But effective? You betcha!

Time magazine, and several other news outlets, are reporting the striking new results of a paper published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Time states:

Scientists at several clinical-research centers in the U.S. found that dieters who kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who didn't.
I'm certainly not surprised, since I'm living proof of the theory. When I write down the foods I consume, I lose weight. When I don't keep my journal, I tend to gain weight.

Why? Again, the Time article says it best:

While most people think they know what they eat, they really have only a general idea and tend to have selective memory, especially when it comes to the foods that aren't so good for us. With a detailed food diary, you can see where those extra calories are coming from.
Tracking what I'm consuming every day keeps me conscious and aware of how much I'm eating AND of what kinds of foods I'm choosing. I track not only food and Points (yes, I follow Weight Watchers) but also how many fruits and veggies I eat each day, how much dairy I get in, and how many glasses of water I down.

I also try and take it one step beyond by noting the exercise I do and then, at the end of the day, to note three things I'm grateful for. I have to admit that I don't always take time to do the latter, but I also don't always get in all my fruits, nor do I get out and walk as often as I'd like. Sue me - I'm not perfect! And that's ok. If I write down what I eat and stay within my daily calorie limit, I'll likely lose weight.

Here's the latest version of my food diary, created as an Excel spreadsheet then cut in half. Click on the photo if you want to see the gory details:

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I get so incredibly bored with keeping track of my eating. So I need to mix up the format every once in a while. I used to put fun stickers all over the sheets of a small spiral notebook. Seeing the food entries surrounded by stickers saying, "You Rock!" or "Great Job!" would always make me smile. Now I don't need that so much (hey, I get my cheerleading from all of you -- and boy, am I grateful!)

Just like with everything having to do with good health in general and weight loss in particular, no one way is right for everyone. But I believe that this latest study is pretty compelling. So if you've been on the fence about tracking your food intake, just to see what you truly do consume in a day, let these latest findings give you that nudge over the edge. Remember, even doing it for a couple of days will likely prove very enlightening, as long as you're honest with yourself and write down every morsel (yes, those three M&M's do count!)

None of us have to be perfect at this process. We just have to keep moving forward. It's all about progress, not perfection!

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

HYC / The Call of the Wild

To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most
wonderful countries in the world. ~ John Muir

Today is Healthy Me Check In, but I don't have much to report. I won’t be weighing in this week, since I'll be attending a board meeting tonight rather than my meeting. This makes me a little nervous: that feeling of not having to be accountable, you know? I got a little sidetracked Sunday night, which stretched into yesterday. Nothing major: just struggling to write down my intake - which is dangerous for me. So my mini-goal for today is to write it all down, every single bite.

* * * * *

See that vehicle in the photo above? That's hubby and me driving along the Seward Highway in Alaska (can you see me waving?) Or rather, it will be us, in 26 days!

I can’t believe that our dream trip is almost here. Isn’t it amazing how fast the time goes? When I started making all the reservations up and down the Kenai Peninsula, it seemed that it was so far in the future, and now the time is almost here.

Everything is in place: the hotels in Homer, Seward, Kenai and Anchorage; the day-cruises on Prince William Sound and through the Kenai Fjords National Park. Just yesterday, I did a little research and found a couple of fairly easy hiking trails we can take in Kachemak Bay State Park, which is only accessible from Homer by boat or airplane.

I'm going to have to do the easier trails, since I didn't do what I'd planned to do when I installed that counter-widget on my blog six months ago: I didn't get myself into hiking shape. I spent those months coasting along, thinking, "Ah, I've got plenty of time. I'll start tomorrow." Sound familiar to anyone? :-) But I made up my mind three weeks ago that I'm going into this trip with the right attitude. I can be anxious and fearful because I'm not in great shape, which will overshadow every choice we make along the trip. Or I can go with the attitude that I'm up for adventure and want to have fun, no matter what. Now I'm not stupid: I won't tackle the trails marked 'difficult.' But I refuse to let my soft muscles deter me from seeing the beauty of this area. We'll just have to go a little slower and take lots of catch-my-breath/water stops!

The fishing opportunities have Hubby as excited as a little kid at Christmas. We've booked him for an all-day halibut charter while we're in Homer, and he's bringing his gear so he can throw in a line and maybe bring home a salmon or three or four. Me? I plan to explore the shops in Homer while he's on his charter. He'll be hunting for halibut: I'll be hunting for quilt fabric!

And as long as I can see puffins -- and maybe moose and eagles and bears and whales -- I'll be happy. Sore from hiking, but happy!

Have any of you been to the Kenai? If so, I'd love your suggestions for fun places to visit and great places to eat.

26 days and counting!

Until next time...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pattie Needs...

It is far more impressive when others discover
your good qualities without your help. ~ Miss Manners

I think I hit a nerve with my post about ta-tas on display. Thank you for the insightful, and in some cases hysterical, comments that you made! It seems we all agree: less is more. While a little cleavage showing can be a lovely thing, too much is just uncomfortable for all who are viewing -- except for the guys who see it, I guess. But then I have to wonder about the message that's being sent to those men.

Oh well, I'm not the morality police -- and I don't want to come off that way. I have no control over fashion and what people chose to wear. I'll just have to learn to keep my eyes closed when I'm getting my hair done!

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On a sillier note... I pulled this little piece from Hootin' Anni's post today. Her list peaked my curiosity, so I wanted to try it. Please play along, if you feel like it. The results were kinda funny!

The rules: All you have to do is Google your first name with the word 'needs' behind it, and post the first 10 results. Here's what Google listed, although I had to use the second page to come up with ten:

Pattie needs to go back to law school and finish getting her degree (What if never started one??)

Pattie needs water (Can't argue with that one.)

Pattie needs a job (I have one: domestic goddess.)

Pattie needs a new background (Oh no: they found out about my mob connections!)

Pattie needs our prayers ( Always. No joke.)

Patti needs a man! (Got a good one: thanks so much.)

Pattie needs a copy of our insurance (Did you back into my car again??)

Pattie needs sweatpants (C'mon - it's WAY too hot for sweatpants!)

Pattie needs to be a guest judge on ANTM with Twiggy, her compatriot and friend (Somebody's been reading my diary. How else could they have learned about me and Twiggy, BFF??)

Now, I have to tell you what Pattie really needs...

Ahhhh! Wouldn't that feel nice? I'd be grinning like that kitty too, if someone would rub my back!

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Until next time...