Saturday, December 27, 2014

Made out like a bandit, I did

Had a lovely lunch with my two sisters-in-law, where we (traditionally) exchange gifts - by this time we are all giving each other the same things (meaning there are three sets of the identical objects being traded) because we know the others like them, so that's kind of hilarious. It's the lunch that's important - no, I'm wrong - it's the *company* at the lunch that's important.

Had a lovely Christmas Day dinner at my one sis-in-law's home, with her son's family and the other sis-in-law and *her* grown kids. Lots of good food (lasagne! Another delectable family tradition), lame jokes, banter, and watching the ten year old and the two year old zoom around.

And I was *buried* in gifts from my son & his family! They just kept showing up on my doorstep, day after day! And what gifts!!! The Firefly board game! (swoon)  The Pandemic board game! (squeeeee!) The Tolkien Professor, Corey Olsen's "Exploring JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit" (I debated how to treat the font in that title. If I remember I'll look it up in my handy grammar and punctuation book and let you know how I did)!

[And now I'm wondering: Is italicizing and underlining *grammar*? Or punctuation? Is there a third rail in English usage? Something else to look up. Post a comment if you know. I check comments daily because I've got the comment filtering setting On.] [No one ever comments, but I live in hope.]

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Short catch-up post

My energy level has improved considerably since that last post. Since then I've gotten cookies baked, presents store-bought or handmade wrapped and in some cases mailed, a lovely luncheon enjoyed, and lots of reading done. I finished Bill Bryson's One Summer: America 1927, and enjoyed it a lot (despite one friend's scathing critique of Bryson's research quality), and Alan Cumming's autobiographical book Not My Father's Son (this last was a cheat on my TBR pile; I sat down the minute I got it home and read it all in one sitting - now I go back to the TBR pile in proper order).  I'm working on Asia's Cauldron: the South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific by Robert D. Kaplan. For bed-time reading right now I'm working on Christie's An Overdose of Death.

I started Yet Another pair of socks, to alternate with the sock I've *almost* got done. I got tired of that one, and this pair excites me because 1) I'm again making it up as I go along - no pattern - and 2) I'm using two colors! Whee! Wide dark green and natural white stripes in a knit 2, purl 2 rib (except for the sole, which will be smooooth stockinette). It's also the first time I've used the CoBaSiyarn (cotton, bamboo, and silk) so I'm interesting to find out how long-lasting it is in a sock.

And so goes my tha-rilling life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Low-karma week

Having a hard time doing any of the many things I have on my To Do list this week. Don't know if the grey, clammy weather has anything to do with it, but that's not going to get better; looks like we have maybe 5 straight days of grey cold rainy crap coming up, segueing partway through into grey cold snowy crap. Oh joy.

Oh well, my library book pile is up to 9 volumes now. I could always hide in bed for days at a time.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

This week's Project

This was what my dining room windows looked like yesterday morning:

This is what the dining room looked like last night:

And this is what it looks like now:

I made some shelves! I'll remove the clamps tonight (I glued a board to the foot of each side plank for stability). They're not finished or painted, because I'm not sure where they will ultimately end up. The main two things were: get rid of those god-awful sheer curtains at the windows, and get a shelving unit up to put the little houseplant babies on. And open the wall up to be lighter. It faces east, over the neighbor's driveway to the side of his house, and it's entirely canopied by huge oak trees from his yard, so it tends to be dark in the dining room. 

I made up the shelves as I went along. As always with anything I build, it's pretty half-assed. But if it works, I'm happy. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Ridiculously chuffed

Since last May, I've been trying to change my diet and activity habits to reduce some bad-trending numbers in my health assessment. Cholesterol and blood sugars, mostly. Yesterday I had a fasting blood draw to check the cholesterol levels. Today I got the results: My good cholesterol (HDL) dropped 2 points, 51 to 49 (both within 1 point of the "50 or higher" desired level). My total cholesterol dropped 41 points. My Triglycerides dropped 46 points. My bad cholesterol (LDL) dropped 29 points. The cholesterol/HDL ratio dropped from 5.3 to 4.6. The Total, Triglycerides, Bad, and ratio are all still higher than desirable. But if I lower them as much in the next 6 months as I have in the past 6 months, they'll all be down in the Normal range.

I was really anxious about this blood test. I have been working hard but I was thinking, please please oh PLEASE, let me lower the bad ones by 5 points! Just 5 points! On my more optimistic days I thought maybe I could make that 10 points.  So today's results have got me OVER THE MOON! OVER THE MOON CARL!!! (I don't watch The Walking Dead so I really don't have the ticket to use that meme but I felt like it, so there.)

What have I done to get here? Changed my diet, mostly. I mean, that's almost entirely it. I have reduced my beef consumption, bacon consumption and cheese consumption by like, 85 - 90%. What meat I do use, is more of an accent or a garnish. I have fish (cod, pollack, frozen; tuna, salmon, canned), chicken, rarely pork. Once in a great while I go crazy and go to Village Inn and have Pigs in Blankets LOL. Woo hoo do I know how to live, or what??? I've increased the proportion of fresh or frozen or canned vegetables and fruits I eat per day. Like, I've doubled that. I've reduced by about half the amount of bread I eat (which really kills me, but since I make my own, eating less of it per day means I have to bake less often, so there's that). I TRY to either ignore dessert cravings or have a pear or apple or some canned fruit - that's really hard as I have a giant sweet tooth.

In fact, I buy almost no processed foods, I make most of my meals from scratch using fresh, frozen or canned straight stuff. I like my cooking better than Corporate America's. And with my adjusted plate I know I'm eating a well balanced diet. My problem is, I eat too much of that wonderfully healthy food. And my main problem is after dinner - after nightfall. When I'm sitting here watching a DVD or Netflix, knitting, or playing's almost irresistible to go out there and graze. And I'm an experienced cook & baker so it doesn't take long to create something Bad in a very short time (cookie dough, anyone?). I've been working on that for some time now, and I have to say I have failed often enough to start considering the drastic measure of installing a chain gate with a sign: No Admittance After 8 p.m.). I have the hardware. It could be up in like, 20 minutes. But the idea is so humiliating that maybe, just maybe, I can threaten myself with it into behaving myself, late-night-snack-wise.

So keeping with the diet methods I've had is the first component of my plan going forward.

The second part is staying out of the damned kitchen after 8 p.m.

The third part is exercise. That, I told my health coach, is the Piece of the Puzzle I haven't been Pounding in Place. (That was earlier today on our monthly phone visit, right after I'd eyeballed these wonderful new numbers. I was a little giddy.) So we arrived at a goal - a realistic and achievable goal - for my exercise from today on: one hour aerobic per week, and 3 times per week strength training. I mean really, that's pretty minimal. I should have no trouble doing that. Yet it's BEEN my goal for like 6 months. I haven't DONE it yet. So now I'm hoping my curiosity will be an additional incentive: My health numbers have improved so much, just changing my diet, how much better will they get if I add in the exercise?

Oh, I haven't yet mentioned my BMI. It's horrible. It's in the LOOKOUT YOU'RE GOING TO DIE OF FAT range. It's identical to what it was in May (this was not a surprise). I'll be very interested to see if staying out of the kitchen after dark and exercising every day will have a beneficial effect on my weight, too. Whaddya wanna bet? Likewise, the blood glucose levels, which didn't get measured in yesterday's test. They were "borderline" last time; I am even more concerned about those than I was about cholesterol, I mean I am flat-out fucking terrified of diabetes.  But I am confident that if I follow this plan of mine, my blood glucose levels will revert to normal, too.

Stay tuned.

I mean to behave.

Monday, December 01, 2014

House plant update.

Ageratum doesn't transplant well. It dies. Ah well, worth a try. The thin-leafed deep raspberry-colored plant is also struggling. I don't know if any of the slips from that plant will make it. But, the Swedish ivy, geraniums, and bi-colored (white and jade green) vine are doing well. The begonias look a little tough, but they're going for it. I can trim out the dead bits once they're established for sure.

I moved some of all of them (except the dead ones) up to the sewing room window. They seem happy. I put a bicolor in the bathroom, but the light there is limited so I may move it.

I'm going to go looking for string-of-pearls and Philodendron, and maybe one other houseplant, in a couple of weeks. This is an oxygen-enhancing effort, as well as a home-enhancing effort. It's been a long time since I had plants. Didn't want them. Now I do. And so it goes.