Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Secret to Weight Loss!

Back in 2008, I lost a lot of weight. About 27 pounds to be exact. It was awesome.

As you may know, I have bad knees. In the middle of 2009, my knees started acting up. With that, plus falling on my knees and injuring them in January, I was pretty much done with my Tae Bo workouts.

When I lost the weight, I got off the horrid diet, but still worked out, maintaining the weight loss. It was great. I could eat what I wanted and not gain, because I was working out. With the inactivity, I should have watched my eating too. Nope. I still ate the same way. Back came those pounds in about a year.

Luckily for me, a friend was selling a treadmill. We purchased it from her, and I've been walking on it steadily for months. The problem is, the treadmill was stopping me from gaining any more weight, thank goodness, but I was not losing any. Why? Because I was still eating the way I always do; I was maintaining.

I needed to lose the weight I had gained back from not working out for months and months.

The secret to weight loss is NOT a secret! You've been hearing it all along.

Successful weight loss is not any of these:

Starve yourself until you are unhappy.
Deny yourself things you like
Eat ONLY meat/cheese/this power drink/*insert fad diet here*

Weight loss is pretty much this:

Burn more calories than you consume. The end.

Find out how many calories you need, for your sex, age and weight. You can Google many different calculators that will tell you what you need to eat to maintain as well as lose weight.

My company joined forces with a health management company. They have an interactive website to help you manage your weight, your stress, your smoking, your blood pressure, etc. etc. There are videos to watch, trackers to maintain, coaches who call you once a week, menus to create, etc.

I created a nutritional program. Based on my height, age and weight, it told me how many calories to consume a day to maintain. Then it created a meal plan for slow weight loss based on a lower amount of calories; for me it's 1800 a day.

I know what you're thinking: Calorie-counting, are you kidding me?? Who has time for that?

Breathe, breathe. It's not that scary. My problem tends to be lack of originality with my menu-planning. Fortunately, the website planned a month's worth of meals: Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. That's really a lot of eating. It also lists the calories of each meal planned, which is great! I followed the menus, sometimes substituting some things I don't like, but always keeping track of my daily caloric intake. After a while, you get to know what things you can and can't eat based on the calories, etc.

I usually did not follow their dinner menus; the two I tried were bland. I have been making my regular dinners and checking out the calories. I keep a calorie notebook at my desk at work where I quickly jot down the calories I am eating, and I bring the notebook home with me too. I pack my snacks and lunch now for work (Hello, money savings!), and know how many calories are in the things I eat (if I don't know, I Google calorie counters and bingo! I can find it.)

Special reminder: SERVING SIZE MATTERS! Read that label. You can't eat six of those thingies when the serving size is two!

Add to the lower caloric intake my 4-times-a-week treadmill workouts and I am on my way! Last week, I wore pants I have not worn since December of last year.

At the end of month # 1 (Tuesday morning to be precise,) I have lost over 11 pounds.

I'll update at the end of month 2.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

She and I...She and Me..We, ok?

Hello There,

Miss Manners again. I've been seeing a lot of "me" vs. "I" errors on ze old Book of Face, and thought I would share.

Read these sentences and tell me which one is correct.

1) This picture is of my daughter and I at the zoo.

2) This picture is of my daughter and me at the zoo.

Which one is right? That would be # 2. Why? Without getting into first person singular subject pronouns vs. object pronouns, yada yada, let me explain a quick rule I use. Remove the "daughter" part of the sentence. Would you say "This picture is of I at the zoo?" No, you'd say "This picture is of me at the zoo."

3) She and I* went to the store for shotgun shells.

4) She and me* went to the store for shotgun shells.

Which is right? # 3. Again, remove the other person. Would you say "I went to the store" or "Me went to the store?"

One more time!

5) Mom told Brenda and I to clean up our room.

6) Mom told Brenda and me to clean up our room.

Remove Brenda (Sorry, sis! I'll clean it!) and see which one is correct.

Easy Peasy!

*edited by order of the Jedi Council.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Dumela, Mma. Dumela, Rra.

I started reading Alexander McCall Smith's series when I happened to see book # 1 for sale for $1 at the library's book store.

I hadn't heard a thing about it, except that it was set in Botswana and involved a female detective.

Precious Ramotswe is a strong African woman of "traditional build" who was raised by a wonderful father who taught her to be observant, kind, fair, honest, and mostly, how to love Botswana. When he passes, he leaves her with much cattle, which she sells to buy a house and form the first female-owned detective agency in Botswana.

The writing is gentle and slow, but in a good way. There's such respect and formality in their conversations, but Mma. Ramotswe notices that this, too, is being lost to the youth of the day. The author Mr. Smith lived in Botswana and writes it in a gentle fashion. Do you know what I mean? Have you read "Cry the Beloved Country" by Alan Paton? Do you know about gentle writing? It makes me happy and sad. Oh, I know I could never go to Botswana and capture this feeling. Fiction is not reality, but it makes me wish it were so, hence the sadness too.

The books deal with her personal life with friends, past events that caused her pain and her cases. She handles these cases with the respect and love she feels for all humanity. She's clever! Don't let her "traditional build" and sex fool you, men! She always gets her man, or woman if that's the case.

When I heard HBO had decided to do a series based on the books, I was excited!

When I heard they cast fantastically talented singer Jill Scott, I was even more excited.


I rented the entire series from Netflix, while hoping and praying that there would be a season two.

See, it's a family show. There are no vampires, no sex, no blood and gore, no gangsters, no hookers, no bad cops, no hatred, no gamblers or addicts. It's a family show. Therefore, I knew, I just knew, it would not get renewed.

It didn't.

The show's season 1 encompasses books 1, 2 & 3 (as far as I can tell. I am still reading the series) and is just as sweet as the books. The directors, producers, actors and crew should be proud of what they did.

Friday, October 22, 2010

School Concert

Jacob had another school concert. *I* need a better video camera. The big one we have records to small cassettes and does not connect to our computer. Yes, I checked. Yes, I went on the manufacturer's web site.

This concert shows off the talents of the Jazz band, drum line, men's chorus, women's chorus, Encore (elite) chorus, dancers, Jazz dancers, flag corp., guitarists, etc. etc. It's a great way for the kids to showcase their talents.

The night was marred, yet again, by rowdy students who do not know how to act. They believe they are either at a pep rally, club or monster truck rally. And it's not just the kids. People were talking, getting up in the middle of performances, YELLING names when their favorite performer came on stage. So uncouth.

Band members all around the audience, playing, while others dance on stage.

(I don't understand why Blogger lets some pictures get clicked to be made bigger and some not. I am uploading them at the same time. Grr. This one below, you can see larger.)

The men's choir. Jacob is on the left side, right above the piano player.

Jacob was in the men's choir presentation as well as the Encore chorus. The performers were set up in all all areas and corners of the auditorium, which was fun. Unfortunately, where I sat, I could not see Jacob at all when Encore performed. He's WAY to the right, so all you can see of him is a floating microphone that he's holding, and at one point, his hand pointing. :)

Enjoy "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Dear Lynne Truss,

Will you be my best friend forever? It'll be very easy; you already live in my brain. Please, oh please?


Kaaren M. in Florida


I read this book this week, and it is truly as if she lives in my brain. I've said it over and over and yes, over again; grammar matters. I laughed with, nodded at, commiserated with and truly enjoyed this book. There are people out there like me! People who love grammar and hate to see it mangled in e-mails, text messages and web postings.

Let's eat, grandma.
Let's eat grandma.

Grammar saves lives, my friends.

The panda eats shoots and leaves.
The panda eats, shoots and leaves.

Wear your bullet-proof vests at the zoo.

You're amazing!
Your amazing!
Why, thank you.
My amazing what, exactly?

If you're looking for a fun book about punctuation (no, it is not an oxymoron), this is the book for you. With history on how modern punctuation came to be, plus funny asides from the author's own experiences, "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" will leave you pumping your red-correction-pen-holding fist in the air. Take a stand! Choose good grammar!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Congratulations Big Sis & Freddy

Congratulations to my big sister Brenda and brother-in-law Freddy on their wedding; 10-10-10.

The 5 sisters.

Photos and cake by yours truly.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Islands of Adventure, Again, but with Friends

Once upon a time, I was a member of a forum all about Buffy and Angel. I'm talking, what, 10 years ago? Maybe more. It was a fun group of like-minded people talking all things Buffy and Angel.

I started conversing with a group of people, and we ended up exchanging e-mail addresses. For some reason that I cannot remember now because I am old & decrepit, we called ourselves the Mafia Chicks. Never mind that there were 7 girls and one guy. I think we were trying to put a virtual hit out on someone annoying on the forum, I don't know. There are 2 in California, 1 in New Jersey, 1 in Maryland, 1 (now) in Connecticut, 1 in Florida (me) and the two over there; Australia and Denmark. We ranged in age from 13 to 29.

I met Jersey Gal (Jules) and Maryland Gal (Jamai) in DC once, before Isabel was born. I met Jules again when she came down with her family to the theme parks last year.
Then Michael came to visit Florida in 2007 and we finally met.

So far, I'd met 3 of the 7 other Buffy Mafia Chicks. Now, I can bring that number up to 4.

California Kelly and her guy Tim are spending the entire week in Florida doing the theme parks. I took off Thursday, kept the kids home from school (Shhhhhhhhhhh!) and we all headed to the park to finally meet one of the 2 West Coast Mafia Chicks. Kelly was just like I knew she would be; fun and happy. Tim was a sweetheart and he and David totally got along. It was such a fun day. Isabel kept poking Kelly in the boob (sorry Kelly). OK, that's because her shirt had beads all over and one set was placed right there. Isabel wasn't being fresh, she was just all "Ooooh, sparkly!" :D

I took TONS of pictures of the ONE day. Over 150. Yikes! I loaded like 67 on Facebook. Here are the highlights of the long day.

Isabel and me in Toon Town.

This guy was so great. He took the time to ask Isabel about her missing teeth and how much money she scored from the tooth fairy, all while Isabel hopped up and down in complete excitement and awe.

My favorite picture. The colors! Click on it! This is where we ate lunch.

OF COURSE, we headed straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where we finally got to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which was FANTASTIC!!!! One of the best developed and planned-out rides I have been on! MUST SEE, people!

Tim and Kelly enjoying butterbeers and pumpkin juice.

We want some too!!

We made it into Zonko's Joke Shop.

and also into Honeydukes, which wasn't as packed this time.

We also waited the long line (at least 40 minutes) to get in to Ollivander's wand shop. They choose a child in the group of 30 let in to be the main child who gets to be chosen by the wand. Well, they choose a boy who spoke no English and refused to repeat what the shop keeper said. What a disappointment, but wait! As we're escorted out of the shop to another section, the shop keeper asks Isabel her name and age. He hands her a wand.....

lights blaze, wind whips her hair...and her wand has chosen her!

She was SO excited!! (Thanks ,mister! We ended up buying her the darned wand because he said it had chosen her and it was hers. Who am *I* to be the evil witch-monster from Hades to say no??? Thanks, mister.)

She truly believes this wand is magic but that she can't use it because she's not 11 yet, and 11 is when they're allowed to use Magic in Hogwarts. ;)

(I want to go to there.)

We were there from about 9:20-6:30 or so. My feet were killing me, but it was so much fun meeting Kelly and Tim and showing them around Islands of Adventure and Hogsmeade.

Busy Week

The postings are sparse, I know. We've just had a really busy week. I worked Monday through Wednesday at the office, finishing the days by making fondant and cakes at home. Thursday, we spent the day at Islands of Adventure with friends from California, and now I'm continuing the crazy week by baking and assembling more cakes. See my cake blog for more info.

I'll post pictures soon.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Universal, Harry, Here We Come!

We went to Universal Studios today! I wanted it to be a surprise for both kids, but try telling a 16 year old to get up at 7:30 a.m. without giving him a reason why. *sigh* At least our 6 year old was thrilled when she finally figured it out.

The park was surprisingly empty. October and no summer or winter breaks = a perfect time to head to any theme park. It was great. We spied Dora and Isabel was over the moon. No wait. We just walked right up to her.

Jacob and his new Tron shirt, which he loves and for which got stopped for several times by people wanting to tell him how awesome his shirt was.

Tired peeps.

We spent some time at the Universal Studios side, but what the boys really wanted to do was go over to Islands of Adventure, so we walked on over.

Isabel rides a tiger at the market place at the entrance.

Here we are, with Hogwarts in the background. Squeee!

Love her reaction to this 'toon. After hitting a few rides, we headed towards the main reason for going: The new Harry Potter attractions at Islands of Adventure.

Behold, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The wait for the ride inside, "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey," was over an hour long. As we're going this Thursday with some friends visiting from California, we thought then would be a better time to attempt this ride.

Awesome sign!

As we're walking, we head towards some school banners, but then are told to please step back, a concert was about to start. We had front row for some Hogwarts Choir singing.

Of course, my batteries on my point-and-shoot ran out. Luckily I had replacements, but I missed the end of the song.

Isabel was the first to get her pictures made with two Gryffindors and one Slytherin. Plus the frog.

Off everyone went to Honeydukes, while I stood in line for Butterbeer!! It was like cream soda with a frothy sugar-buttery topping. I got one of each frozen and regular to try. We all agreed we liked the regular one over the frozen.

Mmmm, Butterbeer!

This is where all the people were. We didn't get a chance to look around much, but were not too disappointed. We'll see it again in a few days in more detail.

While David took Isabel to the Dr. Seuss area, Jacob and I headed over to "Dragon Challenge." This is not new. This is the two-colored roller coaster attraction "Dueling Dragons" revamped with a Harry Potter theme.

As we walked the empty queues (we made it to the ride in less than 10 minutes and then waited maybe 10 more to get on), we enjoyed all the HP paraphernalia.


The Ford Anglia kept revving its engine and honking. Cute.

The Triwizard Cup.

After the ride, we headed towards Olivander's, but the line was too long so we went in to Dervish and Banges.

There we saw The Monster Book of Monsters and the Owl Post. I didn't take many pictures because David had my bag. I couldn't take it on the roller coaster, and he was in another section taking Isabel on rides.

Heading out, we had one tired, but happy Princess.