Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Some Winkie Backstory

Here's Winkie in Las Vegas:

Winkie is our little pig friend.  I would explain how the pig thing got started, but just trust me to say that it's one of those private joke things between a couple that never quite is understandable to others.  Our thought was to take Winkie on our trips and take his picture at different locations that we visit.  We first came up with this idea last year when we visited Hawaii.   Here is Winkie at a beautiful beach on the Big Island:

They look the same, right?  That's the wonders of modern manufacturing.  Unfortunately this Winkie was left behind!  After we took this picture we gathered our belongings and returned to the car.  The road to this beach was through a rather rough lava field (probably not a road we were supposed to take in the rental car).  It wasn't until we were back to the main road that we realized that we left Winkie behind!!  I'd like to think that he is enjoying the sun and surf and living the life of a beach bum.  Once we got home I felt obligated to replace him (thank goodness for eBay!!) and hence, we now have Winkie II. 

We haven't been too faithful with the picture thing, but we try.  I'm hoping to take him to Europe with me in June.  Hopefully I'll remember to bring him home!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Diet Check In

I had forgotten that sometimes a busy schedule works in my favor as far as weight control goes.  The activity sometimes makes me less aware of being hungry and the busy schedule keeps me distracted from food.  Add to that the nervous energy that travel creates for me and I more than balance out the dietary indiscretions.  So even though I indulged with sorbet, french toast, stuffed shells, cake with whipped cream icing, donuts, a gigantic muffin, wine and sweet potato fries, in the end I managed to maintain and even lose slightly.  If I'm reading my analog scale correctly I am now at 138.  I have two more pounds to go to reach my six month goal and nine more weeks to accomplish it.  I'm feeling good about this weight lose project.

I still have a few challenges in those weeks, though:  two graduations, a wedding and all that goes with it (bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, house guests) and a seven day cruise.  To balance that I have a long hike up Old Rag and several excursions during the cruise along with again, the nervous energy of travel.  Here's hoping I keep my balance!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wanders With Winkie No. 1

Winkie is a pig and I'll put his picture on here as soon as I download my camera along with the back story to our traveling pigs (btw: these are stuffed pigs...not the real kind!)  He travels with us and last year sometime I was thinking of having a blog that followed our travels called "Wanders With Winkie".  That never happened and truly, we don't travel often enough to have a blog devoted to travel, but I thought I would incorporate those adventures here. 

We just had our first travel adventure of the new year:  a long weekend to Las Vegas with a side trip to a local town to visit an uncle and aunt I hadn't seen in 35 years.  I was a fun adventure.  The day we left the east coast was having a terrible rain storm.  The plane we were scheduled to fly on was overweight and we volunteered to be rerouted to help lighten the plan.  Our reward was $500 in travel vouchers EACH.  Our Las Vegas arrival was delayed by just one hour and our seats were actually better than our original ones.  We spent some of our layover time dreaming about where to go with our new windfall.

Our visit with my aunt and uncle was wonderful!  We got to hear many old family stories and share pictures and stories about my family over the past many years.  They fed us and fed us and fed us so much that we thought we would have to be rolled to the car!  They live about an hour west of Vegas and the drive gave us a little view of the more natural side of Nevada without the glitz and glam of Vegas.  We drove past Red Rock Canyon and through lots of desert.  That was the only part of the trip we really needed a rental car for and if we make a similar trip we will probably only rent the car for a day and take taxis for the rest of the trip.

We visited The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, site of the History Channel series, Pawn Stars.  This was a bit disappointing.  The store was much smaller than it appears online, there was a line to get in and none of the stars from the show were there.  There wasn't much merchandise either.  But, I"m glad we went, just to be able to say that I was there.  On the way we passed a row of wedding chapels, many with bridal parties going on.  It was a show in itself!

We did our share of feeding the slot machines and discovered that our favorite machine was themed with The Wizard of Oz.  That happens to be one of my all time favorite movies.  The game was entertaining and understandable and seemed to provide you with wins often enough to keep you coming back.

We also toured an exhibition of the salvaged remains of The Titanic at the Luxor.  It was very well done and enjoyable.  The exhibit was made to make you feel that you were actually onboard the ship right down to a real iceberg!

The last night I did my "nervous" thing about traveling.  Sometimes I get so worried that we won't get to the airport on time or will miss the plane or whatever.  Our flight left at 6am so I hardly slept worried that I wouldn't wake up in time.  I know it's silly, but I have trouble breaking out of that once I'm in the middle of the worry.  When we got to the airport we had the option to upgrade to first class.  I've never flown first class, but I may now be hooked on this luxury!  You go through a separate security check point, you board first, they feed you, your seats are comfortable and big, you get pillows.  I was able to relax, sleep and arrive refreshed.  It made traveling so much more enjoyable. of winkie, and back story.....stay tuned.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Goodbye to My Dad's Saw

My Dad died when I was 19 - that's 34 years ago.  One of the items that came my way was his table saw.

I've moved this saw around with me for all those years.  The sound of it when it's turned on and the smell of the sawdust still bring me back to years gone by when my Dad was working in his shop.  The base was made with the help of my brother.  The draw was fashioned to hold the sawdust.  The saw holds many memories for me.  But the practical side of me realizes that it is an awful large memento.  And it is so easy for our possessions to begin to own our lives.  About two years ago I decided that I could let this saw go.  I tried several avenues to sell it.  I set it out first at a yard sale with a high price tag ($500) figuring that for that price, I could part with the memory.  In fact I could hear my Dad encouraging it's sale for that kind of money!  I didn't even get an offer.  I set it out again for $100.  Still no inquires.  I called the local auction house to see if they would add it to the next auction, but to do this for one item is really difficult especially since I don't have a vehicle that can fit the saw and would need it picked up.  I was talking to my brother a few months ago about the saw (this is the brother who helped make the table and who has used this saw many times in his life).  He decided that he would like to have the saw.  So in a few weeks he will be taking it to his home.  Somehow that makes me feel better - that it is still staying in the family.  But, truth be told, once my siblings and I pass on, the next generation has no memories attached to this and it will just be one more thing to figure out how to dispose of.  

I"m glad that I had the saw for all those years.  I've learned since then that holding onto a few things helps during the times of grief and each year you feel a little more able to let go of items. I'll always have the picture and the memories.  Those are easy enough to hold onto and cherish for the rest of my days.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The First Big Challenge

Well, I've passed my first challenge since starting my diet.  I had a week of company with special meals and meals out and have managed to keep the scale under 140.  There was only one meal in particular where I felt like I over ate.  We went to a Mexican restaurant and by the time I worked through the chips and my meal, I was overstuffed.  The weekend also included more wine and desserts than usual.  The biggest problem I found was that my tastes seemed to reset themselves toward the sweet, fatty side of things.  Now I have to get back to a more normal diet.  I was able to keep up with my daily walks although some of them were shorter than usual.  But our activities included a lot of walking.  My favorite of the weekend was a visit to the Museum of American Frontier Culture.  There was quite a bit of walking involved there.  It was a nice warm day so we also got to ride in my new car with the top down!  On the way home we stopped for soft serve ice cream at our favorite place.  The flavor of the week was Oreo.

Next challenge:  a long weekend to Las Vegas!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Doggie Wellness Center

If I could own a business it would be a "wellness center for dogs".  Every Labor Day our town opens up the local pool to dogs and their owners.  The dogs are allowed to swim all they want and the owners can get in with them.  My Golden Retriever had the time of his life!  He likes to swim in any water that he can: lakes, the ocean, streams.  But this is the only time he can get into a pool.  I'm not sure if he cares much that it's a pool, but the special thing for me is that I get to be in the water with him.  I can sort of do that in the ocean, but the waves make the experience less than relaxing.  And I could get into the lake but swimming in the lake is yuck!
I wish there was a place where we could do this regularly.  There could be a pool, an agility course for the dogs, maybe a few hiking trails.  We could fashion a dock where the dogs could practice jumping in and retrieving.  Swimming is good exercise especially for older and overweight dogs since it's easy on their joints.

I learned, though that not all dogs take easily to water.  There were several dogs who didn't care for the water at all.  Some even seemed scared of it, but their owners wanted them to get in and swim and tried all kinds of persuasion to that end.  Some dogs just wanted to hang out at the kiddie pool.  Of course the retrievers were the kings of the water.  So, I guess my clientele would be limited.  But I can dream anyway.  It still seems like a good idea to me, although I question if there is enough of a market to make it work.  Perhaps a larger city would be needed to make it viable.  But it's nice to consider....

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fabric Stores Near Me

I've been traveling to fabric stores in my area in search of just the right prints for my quilt projects.  I'm going to summarize them here, mostly for me since I still have an audience of zero.  (Not to whine, but I don't even have spam comments)

Patchwork Plus:  This store has a nice collection of quilt fabrics and a knowledgeable staff.  It's organized and easy to navigate.

Ragtime Fabrics:  They carry all kinds of fabrics but you have to sort of search.  Parking can be difficult here.
Added 12/17/12: This has become my very favorite store.  The parking issue is minor compared to the friendliness of the staff.  I feel welcomed and included in this store.  There is such a nice, helpful, friendly atmosphere.  Prices are great.  They carry Baby Lock sewing machines and one will be under the tree for me this year!

Rachel's Quilt Patch:  I love this store.  It's in an old train depot building which gives it real charm.  They carry a nice collection of fabrics and have a very pleasant staff. I found the store inspiring in so many ways.  And they have an adorable store cat.

Valley Fabrics:  This store (sorry no web site)  had the most complete collection of quilting fabrics yet.  I happened to go when they were having a great sale.  They had tons of novelty prints and basics like solid colors, stripes and checks.  They had a nice collection of homespuns and also carried some dressmaking fabrics.  Below the store is a bakery and a woman who has a long arm quilting service.  I went downstairs to talk to her, but didn't find her "home".  But I'm keeping this in mind in case I want to have someone else quilt my pieces.

Cottonwood:  This was another very nice store.  They have a good selection of quilting fabrics along with some wools and a few flannels.  The parking is good and the staff was friendly.

Jo Ann Fabrics:  This is a national chain.  They carry a variety of fabrics and tend to have more yardage of a particular fabric than the smaller stores.  They have good sales and convenient parking.

I'll add to this list as my travels broaden.

Addendum  (added 4/17/12):  In my year of blogging, the post that receives the most hits is my pirate quilt (I think because of the picture which comes up on image searches) and this is the second...although a FAR second.  So, I thought it was time to say where "near me" is.  These stores are all in the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia, just in case anyone is looking for stores near where they live.  Over the year my favorite store has become Cottonwood.  That store draws me in and inspires me.  The staff is very helpful and they have the best loyalty program I have ever been a part of.  Happy quilting!

Touching Base with the Big "D"

Since I started this blog to post about my diet, it seems like time to check in with that part of my life.  I have to admit that I'm enjoying writing about whatever, but I don't want to lose track of my primary goal.  So...

First off, the scale has crept below 140!!  It didn't seem to move forever, but I do think I am now seeing progress.  More importantly, many of the healthy changes seem to be sticking.  On close to all days I eat two servings of fruit and walk the dog.  On most days I eat at least one serving of vegetables and drink two glasses of water and don't eat after dinner.  On some days I eat two servings of vegetables and occasionally I exercise for the extra 15 minutes.  That has been the hardest one to implement. I think that once the weather gets a little nicer I'm going to walk the dog again in the evening.  I know that is not as balanced as incorporating strength or flexibility, but maybe it will jump start me into a bit more activity.

I have several challenges coming up in the next two months.  I have house guests which will mean that I'm cooking more and providing desserts and large breakfasts.  Although I will say that I've made more healthy choices when planning out the menus.  I have two graduations and a wedding coming up and the biggest challenge of all will be a cruise in mid June.  I'm hoping that the sightseeing activity balances the predicted over eating.

So, I'm still a long way from my mid year goal of 135, but I HAVE inched past 140 which was my criteria for not joining Weight Watchers in June.