Sunday, March 31, 2019

Goodbye March

March came in like a lamb (I was in Florida) and is going out like a lion. My husband and I went on our first hike of 2019 yesterday.

We went to Vroman’s Nose in the Catskill Mountains. This is an easy, family friendly hike so it was a good one to do on a cloudy day. Apparently it can get very crowded on nice days. Vroman’s Nose overlooks the Schoharie Valley. The side of the hill that faces the valley was created thousands of years ago by glaciers that scraped across the land. It was muddy and slick but nothing our hiking boots couldn’t handle. We did an out and back with a lunch break at the top.

Afterward, we stopped at Schoharie Valley Farms and got some treats.

This week I worked out three times: Zumba, the hike, and a 3-mile run. I don’t count my walks as workouts, but that’s me. Most days I walk on my break at work or walk Summer around the block, each of which takes around 15 minutes. However, that is not long enough or exerting enough for me to call a workout.

Here are my year to date running stats: 50 miles and 2 races. I posted my annual running goals here so to sum things up: Ruh Roh! I need to pick up the pace if I want to meet these goals. I do have some plans up my sleeve for April so stay tuned.
Trail up to Vroman’s Nose 
Schoharie Valley - this was once a lake 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Fat Chance

I’ve always been interested in nutrition. I read FAT Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease by Robert Lustig, M.D. Dr. Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist who has worked in childhood obesity clinics for years. Not surprisingly, most of the parents were overweight as well. This is not a diet book, rather it’s an analysis of the obesity crisis and what can be done to turn it around.

When I was growing up in the 1970’s, most people were thin. My high school class had one fat girl and one fat boy. Remember the movie “Stand By Me”? Jerry O’Connell played the fat kid and he was at most 15 pounds overweight, which is the average kid nowadays.

Here is a chart of recent overweight and obesity statistics for adults. 70% of  adults are overweight and obese.
Did people just turn into gluttonous sloths over the past 40 years? According to the author, yes, but not willingly. Dr. Lustig says the obesity pandemic (it’s spread beyond epidemic to worldwide), is due to altered biochemistry, which is a result of our altered environment.

The first Coca-cola glass contour bottles in the 1950’s were 6.5 ounces. Coca-cola was made with real sugar which was expensive because it grew in Cuba and Hawaii. Now, soda is made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which is grown in the U.S. inexpensively. For a buck, you can buy a 32 ounce Big Gulp soda. A McDonald’s adult meal in the 1970’s was the size of today’s Kid’s Meal. Restaurant meals are bigger because that’s what consumers want - to feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth. HCFS or some form of sugar is in virtually every processed food now.

On the physiological side, our bodies cannot process that influx of sugar in all its forms. It stimulates a release of insulin; the more you eat the more insulin resistant you become. The human body cannot burn this as energy, so it gets stored in the fat cells. High insulin blocks the leptin signal - that’s the signal in the brain that tells you you’re full. So you feel hungry even when you’ve eaten. Then there’s ghrelin, a peptide that makes your stomach grumble when you’re hungry. Fructose does not decrease ghrelin so you still feel hungry after eating tons of carbs. Last of all is cortisol, the stress hormone. This was awesome when early man had to run away from a sabre-toothed tiger. Unfortunately, we can’t run and hide from our miserable bosses! So we compensate by overeating.

Here are Dr. Lustig’s solutions:
Get the insulin down - eat fiber, reduce sugar, and exercise
Get the ghrelin down - eat protein, stop binging at night, and get more sleep
Get the leptin signal to recognize satiety - eat fiber, stop eating when you’re 80% full
Get the cortisol down - exercise, exercise, exercise!

My takeaway: the outside world isn’t changing so we have to. Here is a link to one of my favorite bloggers Sean Anderson who has successfully maintained a 300 pound weight loss and works daily on overcoming a sugar addiction.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

KonMari Method

I had the chance to reread The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up when I was on vacation. It was one of the books in the condo. I’m not a big accumulator of stuff. My husband and I follow the something in / something out method. When we acquire a new item, one or more things must go out.

Did you ever wonder what happens to the decluttered stuff? See the article below from the Wall Street Journal. Now the thrift shops are turning away donations. In Great Britain the number one donated book is The DaVinci Code; the thrift shops won’t accept any more copies.

Maybe this will start a trend of people just buying less in the first place.

Kondo at the Condo - sorry, I couldn’t resist
Summer could deconstruct those old stuffed toys 
Our contribution to the donation bin

Monday, March 25, 2019

Birthday and Last week’s workouts

Last week work was crazy; it’s a busy time for us. It’s important to stay calm but sometimes the job can be frustrating! The other day I was thinking about the scene in the movie “Office Space” when Peter and his two friends destroy the printer. I just watched it again on YouTube - so funny. Oh my, when they have to hold back Michael Bolton from attacking it with his bare hands. Just watch it now; I’ll wait.

Sunday’s local newspaper had a front page article about a new business called Relief Room.  For a fee they provide a baseball bat, protective gear and stuff to smash. Relief Room as in stress relief.  Of course they referenced “Office Space”. Apparently, it’s not just me that feels that way!

My older son’s birthday was on Friday. We celebrated by going out for Indian food which I haven’t had in ages. It’s always special when one of my children has a birthday - I’m so proud of all of them!

Last week’s workouts: On Tuesday I swam 50 laps, on Thursday I did Zumba with Tammy, on Saturday I did Zumba with Tammy again, and on Sunday I ran 4 miles. A four - workout week on the books.

I wouldn’t normally do two classes with the same teacher in one week, but Tammy is my favorite Zumba teacher. On Thursday she told us she is giving up teaching that class at the end of April. ๐Ÿ˜ญFortunately, she will still teach on Saturday, however that class is taught in rotation, meaning she is there every third week. I am going to get as much Tammy in as possible.

I felt so good after that Saturday class, I was thinking why would anyone NOT exercise? Here’s this thing that exists, costs very little (all you need to walk or run is a pair of sneakers) and the reward is 100 times the effort.

If I inspire anybody, then my work for this day is done.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Spring Preview

Happy Spring! According to the calendar anyway. The weather is doing its usual - one day nice then two days crummy. I am so ready to put the winter sweaters away. I actually decided to stop wearing the real wintry ones. Oh, and I am officially done with the boots!

Yes, I have been thinking about my spring wardrobe. I enjoy looking at fashion blogs and the fashion bloggers have been featuring spring items for a while. I have about 6 or 7 fashion blogs that I follow regularly. Two of them are doing Spring Previews. That means they are styling a new outfit every day in March except Sunday (26 days). These two bloggers must be internet friends because they remind you to check out the other one’s blog.

Each day there is a top and bottom or a dress, plus sweater / jacket, shoes, handbag, earrings / necklace / hat / sunnies (that is what fashionistas call their sunglasses). On Monday one blogger had links to 10 items. Let’s say the average is 5 items per day x 26 days. That comes to 130 items. If you check out both ladies’ sites, that is about 260 items! You never see the same thing twice. Holy Floral Maxi Dress Batman!

You know what? They’re nice to look at but . . . they encourage overconsumption and overspending. I’m sure you realize that when you click the links to the stores, the blogger makes money. Plus there are pop up ads galore. Occasionally, I will get ideas from these blogs but I don’t want to end up with a closet full of stuff that is someone else’s style. True style is not about having tons of stuff nor is it about wearing a brand new outfit every day.

Here is my spring preview so far. I ordered a black eyelet top and a running skort* from LLBean. (These are not meant to be worn together!) Both items are top rated, on half price sale, and I chose free shipping because I can wait a few days. Both items arrived yesterday and they are perfect. Had I needed to return them, there is an LLBean store nearby.
*Men, that is not a typo for skirt!๐Ÿƒ‍♀️

Right now I cannot think of another thing I need.

Bye friends!

I don’t want to be like Phoebe - tons of clothes but nothing to wear

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

It’s All Connected

Recently, my sister from Connecticut suggested we watch the TV show “Manifest”. I did watch the first season on Hulu and part of the second so far; it’s pretty good. It’s about a passenger plane that disappears and mysteriously returns five years later. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the little boy on the show at one point says “It’s all connected”.

Several years ago my husband’s cousins gave us two copies of the book Jesus Calling. It’s a book of inspirational passages for every day of the year. When you get to December 31st you start over. They gave us two copies (one for me and one for my husband) even though we could easily share. I gave one book to my daughter who kept it in her room. The other book moved around various spots in the house and ended up on our coffee table.

Fast forward a couple of years. My sister (same one) was visiting from Connecticut and while sitting on the sofa says “Oh my goodness! This is the book I have been looking for but I didn’t know the name of it”. Huh?

It turns out that the night before, a woman who was supporting my sister in her spiritual growth had suggested a book. But the woman had a strong accent and my sister could not understand her. My sister thought she was saying “Deesus Calling”. She made the woman repeat it several times until my sister was too embarrassed to keep asking.

My sister asked me if she could have the book and I said “Of course! I have two copies”. I truly believe that the cousin gave us two copies because one was meant for my sister. I truly believe the woman told my sister about the book the night before just so she would find it.

Now I keep my copy in my tote bag that I take to work each day. When I feel stressed or frustrated, I’ll read the passage for the day and it usually helps. I really do think it’s all connected - spiritual, emotional, health, wellness, relationships, family, work, finances.

Part of today’s passage
It’s all connected.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Erin Go Bragh, Expo and Last week’s workouts

The weekend flew by in a hot second! On Saturday my husband and I went to the Adirondack Sports and Fitness Summer Expo. I signed up for two races and saved $5 on each one. Plus I signed my daughter up for one of them and saved $5 more. I also got a purple t-shirt (free) from a group that I hiked with last year. I made a mistake when I was signing up for the hikeathon last year and checked “no shirt” instead of “yes shirt”. I don’t like accumulating too much but I do use the t-shirts when I work out. The Expo definitely gets you thinking about fun things to do outdoors this summer. It was a typical late winter day - warm and sunny when we went in and windy and snow flurries when we came out.

Mostly it was about St. Patrick’s Day and I’m not even Irish. We met family out for dinner on Saturday night. We kinda sorta forgot about St. Patty’s Day, and the place we picked was having a special weekend. It turned out Ok because they had a tent set up for overflow and we sat there. The tent was warmer and quieter than the main restaurant. It was nice catching up with family.

On Sunday another cousin had us over for a St. Patrick’s dinner. I baked a lemon bundt cake and colored the inside green. I used this recipe from and it was yummy.

Last week’s workouts: On Monday I ran 3 miles, on Wednesday I did Zumba with Michelle, and on Sunday I ran 4 miles. I was hoping to have another four - workout week like the week before but it didn’t happen. I might seem like I’m always motivated, but make no mistake about it, sometimes it takes effort to get out that door.

Here’s what’s going on in my world:

Summer and her monkey friend enjoying a late winter view. She destroyed the monkey the next day 
Green lemon bundt cake with green sprinkles too

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Grocery Haul and Chimichangas

This was a busy week- at work and at home! One errand was restocking the pantry after vacation. Our grocery bill is our second highest expense after our house. It takes Herculean efforts to save at the grocery store. I feel like the price after working the sales, flyers, member card and coupons gets you to what you should be paying in the first place! My husband and I made an extra effort last Sunday and I wanted to share the results.

Also, our garage was overrun with cans and bottles that had to go back.  My husband and I returned 192 cans and bottles; another chore that was way overdue.  Hey, that is 192 cans and bottles that stayed out of the landfill!
When we got home, we realized not one, but two items were missing from the order.  Of course, they were on the receipt. This happened in Florida too. Is it just me? I remembered that midway through our checkout, the cashier flew off as if there was an emergency.  I thought she was helping the next cashier, but she didn’t come back, and a new girl took her place. My husband recalled that cashier #1 had two items in her hands when she disappeared. Needless to say, I went back to the store with my receipt and got the items.
Oh, and I found a penny in the parking lot. ๐Ÿ™‚
Here are the results:
Total grocery cost before savings $231.64
Savings from store sales / member card $52.48
Coupon savings $12.67
Credit from bottle returns $9.60
Total paid $147.29

Grand total savings of $74.75. I can think of better things to do with $75!
Star dinner of last week - I made these healthy Beef Chimichangas from Eating Well. I omitted the mushrooms but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. The filling was enough for way more than 6 tortillas. I filled 8 tortillas and had leftover filling which I froze.
Happy eating!
Served with red beans and rice 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Units of Time: Work, pink nails and The Bachelor

One of my favorite movies is “About A Boy” with Hugh Grant. In case you haven’t seen it, Hugh Grant plays Will, a self-centered, somewhat immature bachelor who doesn’t work because his father wrote a one hit wonder Christmas song that earns him royalties forever. Things get interesting when Will meets Marcus, a 12 year old with issues of his own. I often think about Will’s “units of time”.


My day yesterday in units of time:
Morning routine / breakfast  - 4 units
Commuting (round trip) - 2 units
Work - 15 units (arghhhh)
Meals - 2 units (see note1)
Nail salon - 2 units
Library- 1 unit
Web-based research - 2 units (see note 2)
“Jeopardy” - 1 unit
“The Bachelor” - 4 units (see note 3)
Reading - 1 unit

Note 1 - My husband made dinner.
Note 2 - My web-based research is not like Will’s web-based research.
Note 3 - I also did a crossword puzzle and played word games on my phone at the same time. Multitasking!

The takeaway from this is that Will is absolutely right! How do I manage to cram that job in? ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is what are we busy about?
- Henry David Thoreau

Pink nails 
Do they ever talk about regular stuff like their favorite movie 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Running of the Green and Last week’s workouts

On Saturday my daughter and I did a 4 mile race Runnin’ of the Green. It was a St. Patrick’s theme run with lots of green to be seen. It was a perfect day to run, with clear blue skies and temperature almost 40 degrees. It was my second race of 2019 so I am on my way to meeting my race goal. My official time was 47:56 (11:59 pace). I came in #264 out of 281 runners. I never feel bad about being at the back of the pack. You know why? Because I did it. And doing it is always better than not doing it!

Sunday I woke up to snow. That’s the northeast in March for you. But we turned the clocks forward and that means more daylight after work! Spring is right around the corner, people.

Last week’s workouts: On Monday I swam 40 laps (Florida outdoors), On Tuesday I ran 3 miles (Florida treadmill), on Thursday I did Zumba with Tammy. On Saturday I ran 4 miles at the race. It’s been a while since I’d last done four workouts in a week.

Thanks for reading!

Crossing the finish line in under 48 minutes 
Race T-shirt

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Reading Lately

Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
Homan and Lynnie fall in love; they live at The School for the Incurable and Feebleminded which means they are institutionalized. Lynnie has developmental disabilities and Homan is deaf and unable to communicate verbally. It’s the 1950’s. They run away, Lynnie has a baby, they leave the baby with Martha, a widowed schoolteacher who never had children. Lynnie is discovered and returned to the institution while Homan makes a getaway. Martha has the baby she always wanted. Years pass; an investigative reporter a la Geraldo Rivera uncovers abuses at the Institution and Lynnie moves to a group home. The story follows Lynnie, Homan and Martha for 3 decades. Will these two be reunited? What about Martha and the child? This was a slow read for me.

Dear Life by Alice Munro
Canadian author Munro was 81 when she wrote this collection of short stories and four memoirs. They take place around Lake Huron in the remote Canadian countryside in the mid-1900’s. Her style is spare; her characters are lonely and sometimes isolated. Each story was like a little puzzle - sometimes I had to reread the beginning to figure out who was who. But the best part was every story had a surprising twist or turn. One of my favorites was “Corrie” about a wealthy woman’s years long affair with a married man. My other favorite was “In Sight of the Lake” about a woman who goes to her doctor to have a prescription refilled and what unfolds when the doctor isn’t there. I also liked “Pride” and “Train”. The last 4 stories are memoirs of the author. Highly recommended.

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees
The year is mid-1800s England; 8 year old Aurelia Vennaway discovers a newborn baby abandoned in the snow on their property. Lord and Lady Vennaway are mortified but reluctantly allow the child to stay. Aurelia names her Amy Snow and she is her companion and pet. Now Amy is 17 and Aurelia dead from a weak heart. With a series of letters, Aurelia, from beyond the grave, sends Amy on a treasure hunt. There is a secret that must be discovered. The trail takes Amy from Hatville to Twickenham to London to Bath and finally to York. Along the way, Amy finds friendships, suitors (yes, more than one), and fortune. This book is long, but easy to read. Good for Jane Austen fans.

The Lido by Libby Page
Kate is a 20-something journalist at a local newspaper in south London. She is assigned to cover a story about the Brixton lido, which is to be sold to a developer and cemented over. A lido is what the British call an outdoor swimming pool. Now I know why cruise ships call it the Lido deck. To put a human face to the story, Kate interviews 86-year old Rosemary, who has been swimming at the lido her whole life. An unlikely friendship develops between the two women as they join forces to save the lido. I especially liked how Rosemary got Kate swimming everyday, and how Kate blossoms  and grows to love the lido. I read this in two days; it was adorable.

The Lido

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Back To The Cubicle

I’m back to work after 12 days away - 10 vacation plus the weekend prior. It was quite busy while I was gone. Fortunately my staff (the girls, women, team or whatever they are called!) did awesome.

Yesterday was my 11 year anniversary working for this government agency. I spent about 4.5 years at my last unit and I have 6.5 at my current position. (I was promoted.) I never worked in a cubicle in any of my past jobs. Subtracting days off and holidays, I calculate that I’ve spent 18,562 hours in a cubicle. But who’s counting?

Apparently the government thinks we work better in big open spaces where we can all see and hear each other. This puts a positive spin on meetings - at least I get out of the cubicle.

Fortunately, we cubicle dwellers have come up with a few diversions to help us get through our days.

Happy working!
Decorated cubicles give the illusion of fun
Sugar fixes help

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Vacation Savings

We are heading to the airport in a couple of hours. The weather here in Florida is a lot cooler today with expected high of 68. Of course that would be nice for New York, but cool for a beach day. Our vacation was 10 days and 9 nights. When we travel south in the winter our goal is escaping the snow and freezing temperatures and relaxing. My husband and I can accomplish that and still stay within our budget. Here is how we saved money on our vacation.

1. We went to the library before we left to get books to read on vacation. I read two library books plus a book that was in the condo. I have one more to start on the plane.
2. We used credit card reward points to pay for the flight down. All we paid out of pocket was $5.60 apiece for the 9/11 surcharge. We flew on Southwest.
3. We are not tied to school vacations or holidays so we can travel off peak. Our return flights were $96 a person on JetBlue.
4. We took one suitcase for both of us. This saved us $30 JetBlue baggage fee. Since we had a washer / dryer in the unit we were able to bring fewer clothes.
5. We used Home Away Vacation Rentals instead of a hotel. I compared what we paid to the nearby Hampton Inn and Suites rate (which would include sales and hotel tax). I estimate we saved $1,500 and we had a really cute condo.
6. We ate out 4 dinners and 2 lunches out of 30 total meals. I find that eating out less often makes our restaurant meals feel special.. On our last night we enjoyed a nice seafood dinner overlooking the water.
7. We walked to the beach instead of paying $10 per day parking fee. According to my phone it was just about 1 mile each way. The walk is pleasant and, hey, walking never hurts!
8. We used a condo-provided Fun Pass for free lounge chairs and umbrella at the beach. That was a nice perk.

We had a good vacation and soon we will be back to reality!
The restaurant had these neon-lit pools of catfish.
Beach in the morning. The best things in life are free.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Reunion and Last Week’s Workouts

My husband has three siblings that live in Florida and on Saturday night we met up with two of them and their spouses. We had a delicious salmon dinner at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s house. It’s crazy that a whole year has gone by since we were last together. I am grateful that we had the chance to reconnect. One sister-in-law looks great; she was doing the Keto diet and lost 20 pounds.

Any time anyone talks about diet, exercise, nutrition - that starts me thinking. For one thing, we bought two half gallon containers of ice cream our first night on vacation because they were BOGO (Buy One get One Free). I ate my half gallon in 5 nights, even though the nutrition info said 12 servings. I definitely want to cut down on sugar. I looked it up and according to the American Heart Association the maximum for women is 25 grams a day. 

Last night we ate at Mission BBQ. I had the 5 bone rack of ribs (I got 6๐Ÿ˜) with green beans and bacon, cornbread and Diet Pepsi. It was delish! I had a chocolate pop tart for dessert.

However it is Monday and that means it’s time to rein it in.

Last week’s workouts: On Wednesday I ran 3 miles and did some weights, on Friday I ran 3 miles and on Saturday I swam 50 laps. Both runs were on the treadmill at our condo fitness center because Florida = Hot. Swim was outdoors. Weather continues to be perfect!

Thank you for reading!

Eating right on vacation
Florida strawberries are better in Florida 
Lap pool at the condo

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Day in the Life: Florida

My husband and I are halfway through our Florida vacation. On this vacation more so than past vacations I have been observant about our own and others’ actions to get a feel for the Florida retirement lifestyle. After all, we are 3 years and 9 months away from retirement, in case I haven’t mentioned that before.๐Ÿ˜‰

Here is a summary of Thursday, which was a typical day. I woke up with the nice feeling of not having to be anywhere. The first thing I did was make a big pot of coffee. We are not breakfast eater outers so we made our eggs and checked cellphones / laptop. At home we get two newspapers so we are used to our morning information feed.

Mid morning we headed over to the beach. We walked there; it’s about a mile according to my phone. It’s a pleasant walk back past the marina, across the drawbridge over the intracoastal, then across the street. About 90% of the beach goers are older than us and there are very few children because it’s not a school vacation week. We both are avid readers and I brought a crossword puzzle as well.

We went back to our condo for lunch and to escape the sun during the hottest part of the day. We are not lunch eater outers. Do you see a pattern here? Why get dressed, get in the car and drive somewhere just to sit and wait to be served? Most days we have PB&J sandwiches and fruit or leftovers from dinner.

We spent the afternoon at the pool and hot tub. People here are friendly and it is easy to strike up conversations in the hot tub. We have met people who are vacationing for a few weeks and some who are renting for months. In this condo there are also people who work; so while the lifestyle at this condo is “resort” it isn’t a retirement community. The long term residents have their friends, have family visit, and have activities planned (I heard “canasta” mentioned twice).

In the elevator heading to the pool we saw an announcement that Thursday was Bingo night. The flyer said register by three days ago but the sign was not there three days ago. I haven’t played bingo in years and I really wanted to play. We inquired at the front desk and found out we could sign up and pay at the door. Payment was by check or money order only - what? No cash or credit card? I didn’t bring my checkbook so we would have to get a $10 money order ($5 per person).

My husband and I are dinner out eaters, although even on vacation we alternate restaurant nights with eating in. I know people who love to eat out and can do that 3 meals a day 7 days a week, but that’s not me. That is over my budget for money and calories!

On Thursday night we were in the mood for burgers. I had noticed there was a Smashburger in the supermarket plaza and I wanted to try it. Plus we could get the money order while we were there. Smashburger was good and money order was purchased.

Bingo time! We went to the card room early to sign up and give them the money order. The card room was transformed into Bingo Party Central! Balloons, popcorn, beverages (water and soda) but people came prepared with their own drinks. Some had glasses of wine but there were bottles too. That’s when I realized Bingo night is party night. They brought out trays of meats and cheese and fruit. And there were Jell-O shots! At least sixty people ages 50 to 70 were playing bingo and doing Jell-O shots and having a blast.

It actually reminded me of college; is retirement like college but without the schoolwork?

Thank you for reading!
Walkway to beach
Beautiful day at the beach