Wednesday, April 30, 2008

AI- Top 5 Elimination

Paula looks good, and sounds marginally lucid tonight. Ryan tries to gloss over her gaffe from last night with limited success (my guess- she watched the dress rehearsal and took notes, though I like the idea of Time Travel Paula much better).

I didn't write anything down about the group sing, and I can't remember which Diamond Chestnut(s) they trotted out, but I'll say again that this group has, collectively, the worst dancers in AI history.

The first one called out is never in the bottom tier, so I knew that Jason was safe. I love the kid, but he shouldn't try to think too much. Like Ebby Calvin LaLoosh, he needs to learn his cliches.

I actually wondered, for a moment, if David A was in danger (he really was that bad last night). I should have known better.

And then I was pretty certain that David Cook was in trouble, since they wouldn't ruin the suspense by leaving the bottom 2 for last. But it is Syesha and Brooke, with Brooke already fighting the water works.

If Ryan explained why Natasha Beddingfield was on the show, I missed it. Making David A blush was kind of creepy (I keep forgetting that he's 17, not 12).

Gina! Ace!! argh- my eyes... Constantine! And though they've studiously avoided mentioning him all season, they're going to have to say Taylor's name next week when they show his overpriced postage stamp.

I hate the call-in questions, but it was sweet that Simon remembered the name of his first crush. Then he ruined it by asking her if she was still cute.

Neil Diamond's voice is pleasantly gravelly, and his new song is nice (sort of Johnny Cash-ish), but Neil Diamond's old forehead is as smooth as a baby's bottom.

And finally, we see Brooke's onstage breakdown, and it's every bit as awful as I feared it would be. Brooke has been fragmenting for weeks now. It's better for her to go home and regroup. I like her voice and I hope she gets to make an album. I'll buy it.

The Davids in the Top 2 is a foregone conclusion. Since I doubt The Powers That Be want an all-male Top 3, Jason had better step it up next week.

Healthy Recipe- Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie

It's not all meat and main dishes around here- we make room for sweet things too, and this easy smoothie can be a part of your meal, a treat or a dessert. It whips up quickly with a blender, and makes a generous glass full of strawberry goodness.

Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie

6 medium strawberries (fresh or frozen)

1- 4 oz tub Dannon Lite and Fit Sugar and Carb Control Yogurt- any flavor

1/4 cup Breyer's Smart Carb Vanilla Ice Cream

Ice Cubes

Stem (if necessary) and slice 5 of the strawberries and put in a blender. Add the yogurt and ice cream. Blend on high until mixed. Add ice cubes one at a time and blend until the smoothie is thick (like a milk shake). Pour into a glass and top with the remaining strawberry.

Serves: 1

Calories: 135

Carbs: 10.5 gr*

(*there is some controversy over whether all of the Sugar Alcohol Carbohydrates can be subtracted, so I added the ice cream carbs. If you discount them, the total carb count for the smoothie is 9gr).

Note: You can add a packet of Equal if you want the smoothie to be a little sweeter.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

AI- Top 5 Performance

Well, Neil Diamond Night wasn't quite as bad as The Second Week of The Beatles, but it wasn't far from it.

Jason's performance of Forever in Blue Jeans was more energetic and animated than usual, but that doesn't take much since he's generally so laid back as to be comatose. I'm not objective when it comes to Jason's singing- I find him to be very entertaining, so I tend to be forgiving. I enjoyed his performance, though not at Somewhere Over the Rainbow Levels.

David Cook's smartassery might have been scripted, and therefore not his fault, but it annoyed me anyway, though not as much as the new hairdo. His I'm Alive may have been good, but the sound quality was so bad, I couldn't tell (and he's the anti-Jason- I'm apt to dislike even his good performances).

Brooke's pants appear to be made from polished cotton, a fabric I haven't seen since the late 50's. Her I'm A Believer was lackluster at best, though she pulled it out at the end. I prefer Donkey's version from Shrek.

David Archuleta, dressed for Jailhouse Rock, was just plain bad on Sweet Caroline. I would say that it was his worst performance of the competition, but the evening isn't over yet.

Syesha seems to have turned a corner. I don't love her, but at least she stopped Whitneying everything. On the other hand, beginning a song while sitting on the Steps of Seriousness is never a good idea.

Paula critiques performances that have not yet happened. Why were we not informed that Time Travel was one of her skills?

Jason's September Morn was okay, though he was a bit ahead of the music. While he did surprisingly well with some of the other odd themes, Neil Diamond (like Andrew Lloyd Webber) is not his niche.

They fixed the murky sound on David Cook's second song, and he did okay but he still had the stupid hair.

Brooke chose I Am, I Said, which Dave Barry rightfully named as one of the worst rock songs of all time. However, even the chair agreed that it was better than her first song.

David Archuleta pulled a Kristy Lee Cook with Coming To America, but it was a terrible, terrible performance. I actually cringed.

Syesha's take on Thank The Lord For The Night Time, was interesting, but it didn't work.

Best of the night? Well, none of them qualified for Best of Anything, but I enjoyed Jason's Forever in Blue Jeans the most.

Worst? Brooke's I'm a Believer had me wishing for Davy Jones, but luckily for her, David Archuleta had a truly horrible night- both of his songs were just plain awful.

Unluckily for her, I don't think wee Davie is going anywhere.

And the Super Secret 100K Grand Prize Winner!!!!

I had a super-secret drawing from the names of all those who entered all 3 100K Celebration Contests, and Kate/Massachusetts won!

Kate your prizes are: about 1.5 ozs brown organic cotton sliver, 1 undyed silk cap, 3 batts (maybe 2 ozs) SD wool/silk noil/mohair, a skein of Knit Picks Spinnaker (pima cotton, bulky weight), a hank of Knit Picks Bare Natural Laceweight yarn (88o yds), a skein of hand-dyed fingering weight Merino Sock Yarn (not superwash) that should knit up in a spiral design, a copy of I Heart Felt, a copy of Yarns to Dye For, and a copy of Funeral Food (the first Tory Bauer/Delphi mystery).

I do believe that Kate has entered every one of the blog drawings so far, and I'm thrilled that she's the Super Secret 100K Grand Prize Winner!!!

send me your snail mail address, and how you'd like the books signed, and I'll get your prize package in the mail tomorrow, Kate.

kathleentaylor1952 at gmail dot com

100K Book Drawing Winners!!!

Steffi gets the uncut vintage paper doll books

lizzyhelen gets the 4 Tory Bauer Mysteries

jennifer gets I Heart Felt

Cara gets Yarns to Dye For


e-mail me your snail mail address and I'll get the packages in the mail tomorrow. I'm not sending any of these things priority, so it'll take a few days to arrive. Everyone but steffi, let me know how you'd like your books signed (just my signature, inscribed to you, or inscribed to anyone you'd like).

Thanks everyone for entering!!

100K Yarn Drawing Winners!!!!

Kathy gets the 2-50 gr balls of Fortissima Sock yarn

teish gets the 2 skeins of handspun merino

kaarkaar gets the 3 hanks of novelty handspun yarns

leah (darkest blaze) gets the hand-dyed worsted weight yarn


e-mail me your snail mail address, and I'll get these packages sent out tomorrow. I'm not using priority for any of them, so it'll take a few days for them to arrive.

kathleentaylor1952 at gmail dot com

100K Spinning Drawing Winners!!!

Splindarella gets the dyed Mohair Locks

Vampy gets the Gray Romney pencil roving

Anne gets the Chocolate Romney with the copper Glitz pencil roving

Chibicat gets the organic cotton sliver


e-mail me with your snail mail address and I'll get these packets in the mail tomorrow (I'm not sending this stuff priority, so it'll take a few days to arrive)

(kathleentaylor1952 at gmail dot com)

100K Drawings Now Closed

I'm not taking any more entries in the 100K drawings. I'll be back soon with a list of the winners.

Thanks everyone for entering, and all the wonderful comments!

Monday, April 28, 2008

100K Celebration Drawings!

Just in case you don't see all of the posts below- today the blog went over 100K hits, and to celebrate, I'm having 3 separate drawings- Books, Yarn, and Spinning. Enter by commenting in the proper post. You can enter in all 3 drawings, but you can only win 1 prize. Winners will be announced sometime April 29.

100K Book Drawing! Prizes!!!

To enter the 100K Book Drawing, leave a comment, or just your name, for this post. You may enter all 3 drawings, but you can only win 1 prize. Winners will be announced sometime Tuesday April 29.

Book Drawing Prize #1: A copy of I Heart Felt, signed as the winner desires.

Book Drawing Prize #2: A copy of Yarns to Dye For, signed as the winner desires.

Book Drawing Prize #3: 4 of my mysteries- Funeral Food, The Hotel South Dakota, Mourning Shift, and Cold Front (I don't have extra copies of Sex and Salmonella, or Foreign Body). These are the Tory Bauer mysteries, set in a small town in South Dakota. There is no fiber content in these stories, but lots of sex and bad words, so if those things bother you, say so in your entry so you don't win this prize. These are new, never opened paperbacks. They can be signed as the winner desires.

Book Drawing Prize #4: 2 vintage, uncut paper doll books. These are Lowe books, published in the late 60's or early 70's, and cost 10 cents originally. Susan, #1812, and Cindy #1814. These books are in good condition (the upper corners were cut off- I suppose they were remaindered), and the Cindy book has tape on the cover. Each has a cute little girl doll printed on the cover, and 4 pages of clothes, with some dresses on the back cover. These books have not been featured as Thursday Tab sets yet.
The 100K Book Drawing is now open!

The 100K Yarn Drawing! Prizes!!!

To enter the 100K yarn Drawing, leave a comment, or just your name, for this post. You may enter all 3 drawings, but you can only win 1 prize. Winners will be announced Tuesday April 29, sometime after 8:00am, CDT.

Yarn Prize #1: 158 yds, 6.1 ozs total, handspun Merino Bulky 2-ply yarn. The Purple skein has 93 yds, the Pink/White skein has 65 yds. This is extremely soft and squooshy yarn, and it should be enough for a hat.

Yarn Prize #2: About 2 ozs of handspun Novelty Yarns, 130 yds of Purple Romney/Silk Noil/Angora boucle bound with a metallic thread. This yarn won a 2nd Place in the Novelty Yarn category at the North Country Fiber Fair (ribbon included), 20 yds of Mohair Lamb Boucle yarn (spun from the same locks in the Spinning Drawing), and 36 yds of green Merino Lamb novelty yarn bound with metallic thread. The small skeins aren't enough for more than an accent stripe in a larger project, but there should be enough of the Romney/Silk/Angora for a simple scarf.

Yarn Prize #3: 2 50 gr balls Fortissima Socka Colori self-patterning sock yarn, in the old Mexiko Colorway. I bought an entire bag of this yarn several years ago, and it is now discontinued. It's one of my favorite self-patterning designs.

Yarn Prize #4: 100gr hand-dyed worsted weight wool. This yarn has been dyed in a graduated color band colorway of peaches and browns. The color will gradually change throughout the skein.

The 100K Yarn Drawing is now open!

The 100K Spinning Drawing! Prizes!!!!

To enter in the 100K Spinning Drawing, leave a comment, or just your name, for this post. You may enter all 3 drawings, but you can only win 1 prize. Winners will be announced tomorrow, April 29.

Spinning Prize #1: 4.8 ozs Brown Organic Cotton Sliver. If you want to try cotton spinning, this is the stuff to use. It spins easily, and the yarn is lovely. You need to boil the skeins to bring out the final color, and to set the twist.

Spinning Prize #2: Just over 4 ozs of hand-dyed Mohair Lamb locks. These locks are incredibly soft and shiny. They've been dyed green, pink, purple, and blue, and I threw in some undyed locks as well. They are VM- free. You can tail-spin these for a novelty yarn, you can flick them open and spin them that way, or you can blend them with other fibers. These locks were used in the small skein in the Yarn Drawing.

Spinning Prize #3: An 8 oz bump of medium Gray Romney pencil roving. This is lovely Romney and it spins like a dream.

Spinning Prize #4: An 8 oz bump of Chocolate Brown Romney pencil roving that has been blended with just a bit of copper glitz for sparkle. It is also lovely and it spins like a dream.
The Spinning Drawing is Officially Open!

Happy 100K! Contests! Prizes!!!

I started this blog on August 31, 2007 (not 2008, as has been gently pointed out...), with no idea if I was going to be able to come up with anything to say, or if anyone out there would be interested in my blather. Well, this morning, not quite 8 months later, the blog got it's 100,000 th hit. Now, I account for several a day, because I check in to see if there are comments, and I use the links on the right side of the page to read other people's blogs, but still, I haven't read my own posts 100k times. I'm amazed, proud, and so pleased that you all keep coming back.

To celebrate, and to thank you all for stopping by, I'm going to have 3 separate drawings for prizes! You may enter all of the contests if you like, though you can only win 1 prize. The contests will be listed separately, enter by posting a comment (or just your name) in the specific contest posts. Though you may certainly comment on this post, doing so won't enter you in any contests. The contests will be open from the moment I post them, until tomorrow morning (April 29), whenever I get up to the computer, which will probably be around 8:00am CDT.

The Book Drawing will have 4 prizes: a copy of I Heart Felt, a copy of Yarns to Dye For, copies of 4 of my mysteries (the only ones I have extra copies for), and 2 uncut vintage paper doll books from the early 70's.

The Yarn Drawing will have 4 prizes: 6.1 ozs (158 yds) bulky handspun Merino yarn, 2 ozs of handspun novelty yarns, including a skein that won 2nd prize at the North Country Fiber Fair, 2 balls (100gr) of Fortissima Socka yarn, the Mexiko self-patterning stuff that has been discontinued, and 3 ozs (about 200 yds) worsted weight wool dyed in a graduated color band.

The Spinning Drawing will have 4 prizes: 4.8 ozs brown organic cotton sliver, just over 4 ozs hand-dyed mohair lamb locks, 8 ozs medium gray Romney roving, 8 ozs chocolate brown Romney roving that has been blended with just a bit of copper glitz.

Let the entering begin!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Drop Spindle Fever

I don't drop spin very often, but every once in awhile, a spindle will jump out and beg to come home with me. A couple of days ago, I clicked on a Ravelry Ad link to Butterflygirl Designs on Etsy, and was instantly smitten, not only with her yummy fiber, but with her fantastic spindles. She has amazing polyclay spindles, shell spindles, carved resin spindles, stone spindles, and millefiori glass spindles. I left her etsy store without buying anything that day. And then I looked again yesterday morning. And last night. And again this morning.

Though I'm a total amateur, I did lampwork for awhile and the laceweight millefiori glass spindles spoke to me in a way that I could not resist. I bought this spindle-1.5" glass whorl, 10" shaft, .6 ozs, with a sterling hook. It's a top whorl and should spin like a tornado. And most amazing of all? It was just $17! And of course a new spindle needs new fiber- Butterflygirl's batts are gorgeous, and it took me a bit to decide on Riot- 3 oz blend of bamboo/sari silk/firestar. I intend to spin a 2-ply laceweight yarn for a scarf (3 ozs might be enough for a small shawl, but my yarn is never as light or fine as I'd like, so a scarf it will probably be). The fiber was $18. (these pics are from Butterflygirl Design's Etsy shop- the actual items should be here by the end of the week, and I'll take new pics then).

There is more Riot listed, and there are many other gorgeous fiber bundles and batts available, and equally gorgeous millefiori, and other style, spindles in Butterflygirl Designs's Etsy store. Go here:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What month is this?

When this is on the outside of my living room window, there damn well better be a Christmas tree on the inside.

Healthy Recipe- Parmesan Chicken, Zucchini and Salad

Here's a whole meal (again, note the good china) and guess which part has the most calories and carbs? The parmesan coated chicken? Nope. The sauteed zucchini? Nope.

That's right- it's the salad. But it's a good salad, and this is a very satisfying meal, low enough in calories and carbs that you can even have a light dessert (one of those great no-sugar fudgecicles, for example).

The total calories/carbs for this meal: 490 calories, 21 gr carb

Parmesan Chicken

1lb skinless, boneless chicken breast strips

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (the stuff you buy in the can, not fresh)


1 tbsp Olive Oil

Combine the Parmesan cheese and desired spices (I use Johnny's Salt, Trader Joe's Pasta Blend, and Garlic Salt) in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Heat the oil in a skillet. Wash the chicken strips and then coat with the cheese/spice mixture. Cook in the skillet- 5-7 minutes per side (or until the strips are done).

Serves 4, 180 calories, 0 gr carb

Sauteed Zucchini

4 small zucchini (approx 20 ozs)

1 tbsp Olive Oil


1 tbsp stir fry sauce (I use a local brand, but any will do)

Cut the zucchini in 1/4" slices, heat the Olive Oil in a skillet. Sautee the zucchini, adding spices as desired (I use the same mix as with the chicken). Cook for approx 5 minutes (do not overcook the zucchini). Add 1 tbsp stir fry sauce.

Serves 4, 62 calories, just over 5 gr carb

Salad- for Each Serving

Romaine Mix greens

1/2 hard boiled egg, crumbled

1 tbsp crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 small tomato cut into small pieces

2 radishes sliced

4 black olives sliced

1/4 cucumber, peeled and sliced

5 large croutons

1 tbsp Lite Dressing (I like Ranch)

Toss everything but the croutons and dressing. Top with the remaining ingredients

248 calories, 16 gr carb

Friday, April 25, 2008

Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

Not as many brown song titles, I guess...

The synapses fired a bit, and I remembered where some of the mystery roving in my stash came from- a few years ago, I offered a trade of my knitting books for wool. I am pretty sure that's where the Louet Corriedale, and a lovely bag of Targhee roving came from. And this lovely wool- which came with a letter explaining the wool's origin.

This box is the fleece of Ebony- a Blue Faced Leicester/Border Leicester/Romney/Coopworth cross. The box (which had been opened but not explored since '05) had about 19ozs of beautiful lighter charcoal roving- prepared perfectly, and it spins like a dream. These 2 hanks total 5.1 ozs, and 286 yds of my usual fingering/sport 2-ply. The letter is signed Franna, and I think that must be Franna Pitt, who was on the Yahoogroups list with me. I don't have her e-mail address any more, so Franna, if you're out there- thank you again. Ebony will become part of my handspun sweater.

I'm also uploading a shot of the 3 browns I'll be using as base colors in the sweater. The darkest is a prize winning Romney lamb from Iron Creek Ranch, the medium is the Romney I spun last week, and the lightest is Ebony. They go together very nicely, and it'll be lovely for the browns to gradually lighten in the background on the sweater. (Ebony's yarn looks gray in the pic, but it really is brown, and you can tell when you put it next to the silver Romney- no comparison pic at the moment. I'll get on that).

And though my wool room is stuffed full (to the point that I am still discovering roving I forgot I had), I did buy some roving on eBay- these 2 bags are from Jehovah Jireh farm (seller id: jehovajirehfarm). Each is 8 ozs, the solid is Cinnamon Stick (40% Alpaca, 20% Corriedale, 40% Tunis), and the striped is Autumn Splendor (30% Alpaca, 30% Corriedale, 40% Tunis). I think I might try to spin some of the Autumn Splendor as self- striping by dividing the colors in the roving in equal amounts, and then plying with the Cinnamon Stick. I envision a Trekking Sock Yarn effect- sort of regular tweedy color changes. I'm going to spin at least another couple of skeins of Ebony before I try the new rovings.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday Tab- Whitman #1987 Casual Co., '72

I love love love this set- it's everything that was wonderful and terrible about early '70's fashion. #1987 Casual Co., with the long-leggity models and high-waistedy pants, was published by Whitman in 1972. And what does it say that we can buy every single pair of those shoes today (except maybe the white boots with the pink laces)?

Click on images to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs, print from any graphics program, dolls on card stock, clothes on plain paper.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

AI- Top 6 Elimination

Well, if you were thinking about putting money down on my psychic abilities, you might want to hold off for a bit.

But before we get to how wrong I was, there was Ryan smooching Simon (and Simon massively overreacting), a group sing that sounded pretty good, a fairly cool commercial with comic book illustrations, and a reminder that we could still be listening to Danny Noriega every week.

And then both Davids are safe, as if there was any doubt that they're this year's Top 2.

OMG! It's Clay!!!!!! Squeee!!!!! (I talk about American Idol endlessly, so you can't be surprised that my taste veers toward the Aiken, right?)

So that's Leona Lewis. Huh. She's not terrible, but she's not exciting either. She does rock the stilettos, though. But really, show- flames?

And we get to the first shocker of the evening- Brooke is safe, which totally blindsides her. I don't think Syesha saw it coming either, though one good performance doesn't exactly make up for the rest of the meh.

Soon afterward, Jason is safe, which is the exact opposite of my prediction. Carly, on the other hand, is more relaxed than I've ever seen her on stage, and she seems completely unsurprised. Her possible singout is fine, though JCST is such a yelly-shouty song that I can't really enjoy it (once again, I wish for I Don't Know How to Love Him). Syesha, back to her usual form, suffers from the lack of superfantastic dress and hair, and an excess of pitchyness. My conclusion, based on the order of their songs, is that Syesha is headed home (see above, re: my psychic prowess).

Note to Randy Jackson, who has obviously never watched American Idol: It's always been a popularity contest.

And Carly is gone. She seemed to yearn so desperately for validation (after her dismal album experience, who can blame her), that I am surprised at how calm and collected she is during her Bon Voyage Montage. Good Luck, Carly. I wish you well.

Bring me the hand of David Archuleta

Rolling Stone had a photoshop contest... do not drink while viewing...

Blue Moon

I'm back knitting socks again, working on the last half of the sock book, so there isn't much spinning time. But I managed to finish the greeny/blue Corriedale that I dyed a couple of weeks ago. The skein is 3.1 ozs, 204 yds, 2-ply, the same fingering/sport weight as the rest of the yarns (with a couple of thinner spots- I wasn't as consistent with this roving as with some of them). It came out a really lovely dark teal with green highlights, and it looks great with the lighter blue.

Here is a new shot of the Sweater Railing 'O Yarn with all of the colors- there is some white yarn at the far right, but I couldn't get it in the pic. I'm not sure I'll be using white or gray anyway. I have a good range of tones (maybe another yellow?) and only have to spin up another 8ozs or so of the Chocolate Romney because that's my base color. I still have no idea what sort of design I want to use- traditional or non. I just know it'll be a stranded cardigan.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

AI- Top 6 Performance

Andrew Lloyd Weber might just be my favorite Guest Mentor ever. I've never heard such blunt, non-partisan assessments on the show (Simon is blunt, but he's as partisan as they come). ALW didn't sugar coat his opinions and he didn't pretend to like things he didn't like. It must have been contagious, because Paula was more lucid, and much less with the rainbows and auras than usual.

Syesha starts the night out with a terrific performance of One Rock And Roll Too Many. She's wearing a very flattering dress. Except for starting a bit ahead of the music, her rendition was better, and showed more personality, than we've seen from her all season. Brava, Syesha!

Jason did as well as he could with the theme, and Memory, especially since he didn't know it was sung from the viewpoint of a cat. A lady cat.

I'm rooting for Brooke, but she is crumbling before our eyes, and honestly, sending her home would be a favor. I think she's this close to an onstage meltdown, which I do not want to see.

Lord LW tells David A not to close his eyes while singing (though strangely, he didn't mention the constant lip-licking), and wee David tries really hard to prop the peepers open, with moderate success. As always, he sounds wonderful. The boy has an amazing voice, but I still wish he'd waited 3 or 4 years before trying out.

I would rather have heard Carly sing I Don't Know How to Love Him, but she did okay with JCST, though I think Paula was right that Carly started too high for her range.

I didn't believe any of the faux-emotion in David Cook's Music of the Night. That was every bit as calculated as Kristy Lee Cook singing God Bless America a few weeks ago. I suppose he really couldn't Daughtry or Emo Phantom, but singing it straight-up wasn't the right choice either. I think he sounded like a high school talent show contestant.

Best of the night? Syesha, and pretty much only Syesha (I suppose David Archuleta as well, though I wish he'd try understatement, just once)

Worst? Everyone else, including sweet befuddled Jason.

Going home? Boy, it could be any of them. But I'm betting on either Brooke or Jason.

7 Exercise Tips

As long as I'm pontificating, here are some exercise tips- that is if you're interested in advice from someone whose first, last, and middle names are Sedentary (you can look it up). Changing what, and how, we ate, made a huge difference in our lives and bodies. But I am firmly convinced that weight loss notwithstanding, I would not have gone from a size 24 to a size 12 in 7 months without exercise. I wasn't kidding about being sedentary- I read, I write, I knit, I spin, and I do all of those things sitting down, happily. Nothing I enjoyed (except swimming) involved moving the legs or raising the heart rate. So learning to exercise (and loving it) was a whole new experience for me.

#1. Move around. Sounds self explanatory, doesn't it? Haul your body somewhere- up the stairs and down the stairs a couple of times, park in the North Forty at the Mall, walk around the block. Just move yourself. It doesn't have to be far, though a mile is a nice distance for a stroll.

#2. Stretch. If you're not used to moving around, you're going to have achy muscles. Stretching helps enormously. And it feels good.

#3. Sweat. Any sort of motion is good for you and none of it, even a leisurely stroll, is wasted effort, but if you want some cardiovascular improvement (not to mention calorie burn), you're going to have to push yourself hard enough to work up a sweat.

#4. Increase slowly. It's really easy to do too much, especially when you first start your exercise routine and fall madly in love with the whole idea of getting fit. You walk 15 minutes on the treadmill and it feels good so the next day you do 30, the day after 45, and then you can't move for a week. Increase your workouts slowly (say by 5 minutes a week), and if it hurts (I'm not talking about the normal aches you get from pushing unused muscles), stop.

#5. Vary the routine. Walk one day, play basketball another day, do weight workouts a couple of times a week. That keeps the boredom factor down, and tones a different set of muscles every day.

#6. Hold your stomach in. All the time. It strengthens your abdominal muscles and improves your posture. Pretty soon, it'll become a habit and you'll do it without thinking.

#7. Rest. This was the hardest one for me- I went a little Cat-Lady Crazy with the exercise for awhile, working out twice a day, 7 days a week. But when Curves closed, I decided to institute a more realistic routine, one I can keep to for the rest of my life- once a day (walk, light jog, soon I'll be swimming daily) 30-45 minutes of some activity that raises the heartrate and makes me sweat, 6 days a week. I have learned to appreciate a day off here and there.

Monday, April 21, 2008

5 Eating Tips

7 months, and 60lbs into this adventure, I thought I'd share a few of the things I've discovered about eating healthier (note that this is not a diet, and these are not diet tips- no diets in my house, just smarter food management).

#1. 3 Meals A Day- No skipping breakfast. No skipping lunch because you're going to a party tonight. No skipping supper because you're working late. Eat 3 meals a day- every single day. If possible, eat at the same times every day, that helps keep the sugar highs and lows to a minimum.

#2. Moderate Portions- you don't have to measure and write everything down unless you want to (and if you do, you'll be amazed at the amount you eat. Trust me), but pay attention to package serving sizes- they're always smaller than you think. An ounce of nuts doesn't look like much, but truly, it is enough. If you're eating in a restaurant, don't feel like you must clean up your plate. Most restaurant servings are more than enough for two people.

#3. No second helpings. Period. Ever. Of anything.

#4. Eat Snacks- yep, snack, midway between breakfast and lunch, midway between lunch and supper, and a couple of hours after supper. For me, that's 10:00am, 3:00pm, and 8:00pm. Eating small meals throughout the day makes it much easier to eat less at any given meal, and it keeps your blood sugar levels even, and you'll feel so much better (well, I do, anyway). Any of the 100 calorie pre-packaged snacks will do for any, or all of the snacks. I have probably tried all of them, and many are very good, but I don't bother with them very often these days, unless I'm on the road. I've settled into a routine with my snacking: an apple in the morning (about 100 calories, 20gr carb), 1 oz of mixed nuts in the afternoon (170 calories, 4gr carb), and 28 gr chocolate chips in the evening (140 calories, 17 gr carb- it's amazing how long they last when you eat them one at a time). In fact, chocolate is a great snack because there are fewer calories and carbs in chocolate than any other candy, and, well, it's chocolate. Try to stick to the darker chocolates- there are lots of different varieties out there. I am particularly fond of Lindt Chocolate Mint.

#5. If it's not breakfast, lunch, supper, or one of the designated snack times- don't eat. Anything. No tasting, no nibbling. If you institute a snacking regimen, it's never too long until the next time you can eat, no matter how hungry you are (or think you are, which is usually the real problem).

Since we live in Diabetesville now, we have to be aware of the carb count of everything, and meals/snacks have to be balanced with each other (and on time), but these 5 tips are a good launching point for a healthier way of eating whether you're learning how to live with a disease, or just wanting to change how you look at food.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Healthy Recipe- Salsa Chicken

I had some chicken that I needed to use, and my friend Ann suggested this recipe, which I modified a bit (mostly because I didn't have a mallet to flatten the chicken). It's yummy, quick, and with a green salad and a piece of garlic bread, it makes a great meal. It can be mild or really spicy, depending on your brand of salsa.

Salsa Chicken

4 bonless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks

1 tbsp olive oil


1 cup salsa (any kind- check the calories and carbs, my brand was 105 calories a cup and 15 gr of carb)

1/4 cup shredded mozarella cheese

1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 6 minutes. Spice to taste (I use a combo of Johnny's Salt, Garlic Salt, and Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy). Reduce heat, add salsa, and simmer until the chicken is done (another 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken chunks). Top with shredded cheese and allow it to melt.

Serves: 4
Calories: 313
Carbs (Fiber subtracted): just under 4 gr

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday Tab- Saalfield #4426 Double Date

Saalfield's Double Date (#4426) is a reprint of their 1957 #2757 Double Date. It has the same dolls, though possibly fewer pages of clothes (which is common with reprints). The reprint is die-cut, printed entirely on card stock-like paper, so the dolls are printed on the same page as the clothes. I never liked punch-out paper dolls because the perforations always looked sloppy and there was a huge tendency for tabs to tear off when taking them out of the page.

This set is like many teen-age sets- the girls look like they're going on 35, and the guys look 14, and they all wear incredibly high-waisted pants. Maybe it's a babysitter double date. And in keeping with tradition- this set is not labeled as a Cheerleader set, therefore it does have a cheerleader outfit (as opposed to many Cheerleader sets with nary a pom pom).

Click on the images to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs. You might want to print this whole set on card stock.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

AI Top 7 Elimination

I've hated the Top 7 Elimination night ever since they forced poor George Huff to place himself in the proper group of three. It was mean then, it was mean in Seasons 4, 5 and 6, and it's still mean, though The Show tried to pull a sneaky on us this time around.

But before that, we had the group sing (which will never be mistaken for a group dance). David Archuleta ditched the leather pants, and Syesha embraced her inner Nadia Turner.

Then we had the division that confused me by placing Syesha, Jason and Carly in one group, and David Cook, Brooke, and Kristy in the other. I played right into The Show's hands by thinking that maybe we really were going to have another shocking boot.

Hey Elliott, with your shiny new choppers, and your odd new song (I prefer the last one that got airplay, the one I always think is a Boy Band from the 90's... sort of like that Celine Dion song that I always think is Kelly Clarkson). It was nice of Ryan to acknowledge the passing of Elliott's mother. She was a sweetie.

The viewer questions were marginally less stupid this time around (playing along: the first records I bought with my own money were: Oliver -can't remember the album title, but it had Jean and Good Morning Starshine on it- The Association's Greatest Hits, and a single of Elusive Butterfly)(yes, I am old).

And then Mariah sang a song (I'm not a Mariah Fan, so the song didn't register with me one way or the other), and then declared, "I love myself some him" (speaking about Randy Jackson- who renders me ungrammatical sometimes too).

And finally, we're down to the business of the show, first by rearranging the kids so that David Cook is back with the Upper Tier, and Syesha with the Lower (though I fully expected Carly to be the bootee). Then David Archuleta pulls a Bo, and Kristy is sent home, and I am surprised to be a little sad- I didn't want her to stick around (it was way past her time, and even further past Syesha's), but surely she was the most improved performer of the group (while Brooke slowly disintegrates). If Kellie Pickler's example means anything, my animosity for Kristy will mellow into amused good will by Season 9 (if there is a Season 9).