Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Friend Makin'... Tuesday?

Happy Tuesday!  And welcome to everyone who has found their way here from Fitblogger, where I am the featured blogger of the day.  Thanks for visiting, and I hope you'll introduce yourself so I can say hello.

I had a wonderful weekend with my family, followed by a smashing holiday Monday with friends.  And that leaves me a little bit...

So all week, you'll find my usual daily series one day behind.  (Except Friday, because I'm skipping Theme-Free Thursday.)

I'm kicking off this week with...

please take a moment to answer this week's question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen.  The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it's time for this week's topic!

FMMT: ABC's of Me

Here's how it works...you'll choose topics about yourself, your likes, dislikes, etc.  according to each letter in the alphabet, and share a little with us. Oh shhh...you know you love it. ;)

A is for aqua.  I will shortly be painting my bedroom walls aqua.  It will be so nice to get our bedroom decor together... we've been putting it off for a couple of years.  For me, a well-decorated and organized room leads to a well-decorated and organized brain.

B is for backyard.  I don't have one and I have been desperately wanting one.  For tending to a garden full of beets & blossoms.  For sipping tea and reading (or writing!) a book. For catching a waft of jasmine on the breeze.  Can I come and visit yours?

C is for citrus fruit.  I love to cook with it.  I love to eat it.  And my kitchen is decorated with it.

D is for drama club.  My high school drama club was the first group to which I felt like I truly belonged.  I still treasure each one of the friends I met there.  I imagine that those around us found us tremendously geeky.  But the beautiful thing about us is that we didn't really care what everybody else thought - we loved each other, and we weren't afraid to be unapologetically ourselves.

E is for even numbers.  I prefer to leave the television volume on an even number.  I don't know why this is, but I feel very strongly about it.

F is for freestyle.  I've been swimming for exercise for years now, but I've finally mastered freestyle/crawl recently, thanks to my awesome snorkel.

G is for Greek yogurt.  It's one of my favorite foods.... and I put it in everything lately.  If you're a regular reader, you probably knew that already, though.

H is for Hollywood, where I live.  I love it here. I love our local Farmer's Market.  I love easy access to movies and culture.  I love that the subway runs through it!

I is for inches.  I am surprised how many I've lost since January. Just yesterday, I was laying on the grass in a friend's backyard, and realized I was feeling the bones at the top of my ribcage.  For the first time I can remember.

J is for jewelry, which is one of the only things I collect. I love hand-made and vintage pieces especially.  But really, I enjoy anything that is kind of unique or unusual.  I'm not into fancy gems or stones (outside of my sapphire engagement ring and sapphire-diamond wedding ring) but I love me some bakelite or some vintage Czech beads. 

K is for kitchen.  We spend so much time in there these days, creating our own recipes or testing out others'.  The food we've been eating makes me feel satisfied and healthy.

L is for listening.  I love to listen... to friends' stories, to all kinds of music, to podcasts, to my kittens' purring.  Ironically, I'm nearly deaf in one ear.

M is for movies.  Since the lights went down in the theater where I saw my first one (Cinderella) to the one I saw on Sunday (Pirates) I've had a lasting love affair with cinema.  I watch all kinds of them - and obsessively.  I worked in the industry, and I have aspirations to have my own screenplays hit the big screen someday.

N is for nieces and nephews. I have ten. It is all kinds of awesome to be an aunt, though I wish they weren't all so far away in NorCal, Indiana and Michigan. (At least nobody's in Milan anymore!)

O is for obliques.  Richard Simmons has told me that I am particularly good at oblique crunches.  My obliques just keep getting stronger and stronger!

P is for Powers Waterworks, the name of my production company, should I ever own one.  I got the name from something my father used to say when he picked up the phone: "Powers Waterworks! Which drip would you like?"

Q is for quest.  I still need to post the most recent stage in Cake Pop Quest 2011.  And you need that recipe, because these babies are only 58 calories per pop!!

R is for retro.  I don't know quite how I stumbled into my personal aesthetic, but I just love things that look... how to say?... out-of-date.  I don't mean "Shaw Report" out-of-date.  I mean really out of date.  You kids enjoy your 80s neon stilettos.  I'll be over here in my circle skirt and ballet flats.

S is for Sondheim, my very favorite musical theater legend.  I harbor a secret desire to be a lyricist, though I fear I wouldn't have half of Sondheim's cleverness.  Someday perhaps I'll try it.

T is for television.  I'm not a couch potato, but I do watch a fair bit because I also aspire to write television.  My favorite current shows are Modern Family, 30 Rock, Community, Parks & Recreation, How I Met Your Mother, Mad Men, and Glee.  My favorite of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

U is for urban-dwelling.  I've known I should be a city girl since I saw my very first skyline.  I was probably seven and it was probably Detroit.

V is for Venice, one of my favorite cities on Earth.  Particularly Murano Island, where the community of glass-blowers create the prettiest objects d'art.  I am nuts about blown glass.  I am still mourning the loss of one of our bags after our honeymoon, which held the Murano vase - our big souvenir of the trip.

W is for writing.  I try to do a couple of hours every day.  It is simultaneous the easiest and hardest thing I ever do.  And I love it.

X is for exes. I don't do well with exes of any sort.  Ex-boyfriends.  Ex-bosses.  Ex-friends.  I am unspeakably awkward once a relationship is through.  I don't mean to be, but alas, this is a shortcoming of mine.

Y is for yellow.  I love so many colors, but yellow is probably my very favorite.  It was the main color theme for our wedding.  You'll see some pictures of it soon.

Z is for zen.  The tenets of Buddhism really speak to me, so I do what I can to gather zen in my life.

All right! I'll be back tomorrow for a Weigh-In Wednesday with an alternative to a fast-food summer "treat" without the chemicals and crap calories.  Hope you're all recovering from wonderful holiday weekends - and that you're taking care of you!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Umbrella Fashion Friday... plus swimwear!

I bet you thought by "umbrella fashion," you thought I meant my stylish umbrella.  Nope!  (Well, it is stylish but it's not the topic today.)  That would be my umbrella skirt, which has not come close to fitting since... well, it was tight when I bought it six years ago.

On my stoop.
Blouse by eShakti
Cardigan by Lane Bryant
Skirt by Lane Bryant
Leggings by Old Navy
Same shoes as last week.

Seated view. My hips look different to me. Is that weird?

Close-up of the fabric. I can't believe LB release something this retro/cute.

We're heading into Memorial Day weekend, and I'm hopeful that you won't need to use any umbrellas when you attend your barbecues, car-b-qs and pool parties.  That's right, pools are about to open across the country! And to that tune, I've gathered my favorite summertime pool outfits and accessories for your review.

Lane Bryant and Kiyonna both came out with such cute retro-style swimsuits this year that I decided to throw modern caution to the wind and pair together the most retro of retro pool togs.

Swimsuit by Lane Bryant
Sarong and hat available at Overstock.com
Earrings available at Broken Cherry Boutique
Necklace by Etsy seller Jewelry1016
Sandals by Clarks
Sunglasses by Torrid
Beach tote by Jessie Steele

Suit by Kiyonna
Sarong available at Overstock.com
Chevron tote by Cole Haan
Necklace by etsy artist VeryPrettyThing
Hair flower by Etsy artist EllesBlossomBoutique
Sunglasses by Urban Outfitters
Espadrille Wedges by Fitzwell

On another note, when searching for hair flowers on Etsy, I came upon an all-too-common theme for baby hair accessories:


Don't do this to them.

All right!  I'm off to enjoy my weekend with family and friends - - my baby niece Charlotte is coming to visit and there's sure to be pictures to share next week (sans head-eating peony.)  Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday.  Don't forget the sunblock... and take care of you!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On shame, and self-worth

One of my very favorite podcasts is KCRW's Good Food, a weekly show that runs the gamut - from what's seasonal at the farmer's market, to area restaurant reviews, to interesting features about the culture, science, and politics of food.  I was catching up on some older episodes yesterday when I came upon Slate writer Christy Harrison's account of her Hive topic.

Hive is a Slate discussion forum in which readers are invited to offer solutions to wide-ranging problems.  Harrison's topic was Childhood Obesity.  When host Evan Kleiman asked about extreme proposals, this is what Harrison reported:

"We saw quite a few responses that talked about how kids needed to be shamed into being healthier and feel stigmatized for being overweight if we were ever going to have hope to make them lose weight we needed to make them feel bad about themselves."

 I'm going to venture a guess that those responses were from people who have never struggled with disordered eating, depression, or obesity.

There's plenty of information out there about how size is not a valid indicator of health.  Take me, for instance.  Someone who doesn't know me could look at me and assume that I'm due for a heart attack.  But compare my blood pressure with, I dunno, anyone outside of a serious athlete, and mine will probably be healthier.

I don't really want to talk about my physical health, though.  I want to talk about my mental health.  I want to talk about what shame did for me.

Before I became active this year, I was filled with shame.  Every time we'd walk with friends, or we'd be invited on a hike with family, I would be humiliated that I couldn't keep up.  Or humiliated that I was puffing.  So I'd elect not to walk with them.  I'd elect not to walk at all.

Whenever anyone would comment on what I ate - "wow, that looks... filling..."  "you shouldn't be eating that cupcake..." etc.  I felt so much self-loathing.  Anger at myself, and a LOT of anger at whoever was judging me.  After all, much of the time, I ate just fine.  I maintained weight for several years, with a gradual uptick.  Some of the time I didn't eat well.  But I doubt you ever saw me.  Because I was so ashamed of it, I did it when I was alone.  And the more anyone tried to make me feel shameful about it, the more I'd eat - in private -  as a reaction.

Shame, for me, was not a motivator.  It was the anti-motivator.  It made everything that much worse.

It was not until I went to therapy, and worked on everything surrounding my disordered eating and lack of exercise, that I was able to work on that issue, too.  It wasn't until I found the Fat Acceptance community, and realized that I deserved respect no matter what I looked like, that I was ready to respect myself.  It was not until I felt worthy of taking care of myself that I was ready to make the changes in my life that have made me stronger, more nourished, more balanced.

I'm not an Oprah watcher, but I caught her last show yesterday. (I'm a sucker for finales.)  She said something that rang so very true to me:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Adventure Wednesday at U.C. Sunnydale

Yesterday was a rough day. I think I was experiencing the grief that didn't show up Monday, which was the two-year anniversary of my mom's passing.  I could not shake bone-deep blues, even when I pulled myself out of the house to do a little thrift window-shopping.  Fortunately, Tom helped to get me going for class last night.  I was so grateful for all of my friends there. Especially Joanne, who surprised me with fresh flowers from her garden.  (Also Kat, who brought me a terrific photo of the first Oscars at the Biltmore.)  I tell you, Slimmons is the most supportive community a girl could ask for, exercise-based or not.

But today? Today is Adventure Wednesday, and I'm taking you on a journey to U.C. Sunnydale, alma mater of one Buffy Summers.

Well, kind of.  U.C. Sunnydale doesn't really exist, but it was shot on the campus of UCLA, where we recently accompanied David (of Keep It Up, David fame) to see the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra perform the scores for a few silent film shorts.  David had invited us after hearing that Tom was a big Chaplin geek (and me, too - to a less obsessive extent.) We were both thrilled to join him!

We are undoubtedly nerd-fans. Here we are with Charlie at the
Hollywood Wax Museum. Photo care of (and including) one Ms. A.R.H.
And... hey, we used to look different. This was last summer.

I'd never been to the UCLA campus before - it's beautiful.  Both David and I remarked that it reminded us of our own alma mater, University of Michigan.

The buildings are similarly classic-looking. This one is the library.

Here is Royce Hall, where we saw the orchestra perform.

It's home to all kinds of beautiful flowers.

Anybody know what these are? I'd love to plant them someday.

Lovely trees, too.

Not-so-lovely stairs. Mastering the art of the climb really needs to be my next fitness quest.

While we were there, the cheer squad was having their professional pictures taken.

I've heard of bare feet, but this is ridiculous.  Wokka-wokka-wokka!

We met up with David with just enough time to do the standard blogger portraits before the show started.

Tom in his dapper new haircut, wearing his grandfather's tweed jacket which fits for the first time in years.
I, with hair swept by the wind, in my vintage lemon necklace from Dazzles in Palm Springs.

Plus David looking sleek in his jacket.  Good we all had outer layers - it was chilly!

 The performance itself was really terrific.  The orchestra played beautifully, and in perfect time with the movies (A Dog's Life which I had seen before, and Shoulder Arms which I hadn't.)  They were introduced by Leonard Maltin, who is such a wonderful font of film knowledge.  And I think this marks the first time I've ever heard a hand-saw played live with an orchestra...  there's a dance hall section with a morose soprano, and the saw solo was amazing (and sounded very much like a morose soprano!)

One of my favorite parts of the evening was the opening short film, an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon by Walt Disney, which featured the premiere of a brand new score written for the occasion by Alexander Rannie.  The score was brilliant, and unlike the Chaplin scores, the Oswald score featured a very involved percussion accompaniment, with delightful (and delightfully complex) musical sound effects.  It was like watching a foley artist working live.  (Don't know about foley artists?  Here's a little video about one of Disney's foley artists.)

You can watch the Oswald cartoon, "Trolley Troubles," but it doesn't have the brilliant new score. I hope Disney will re-release it.

After our evening of silent film, we parted ways with David and headed to a nearby Persian/Iranian restaurant called Javan, which we'd found on Yelp.  Tom and I both enjoy Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern food, but we'd never tried specifically Iranian food before.  As always, we were up for an adventure!

When we sat down, they brought us a basket of nearly paper-thin lavash bread.

It came with  butter, and the strangest bread accompaniment I've ever seen: raw onion.
But it was the sweetest, lightest onion I've ever eaten. Amazing with the lavash, and so surprising.

Since I am a fan of Indian Lassi, I ordered a yogurt drink. I didn't realize it would
be salty and savory - so every time I drank, I had to remind myself that it was
not going to be sweet. Reminded me of the Crystal Pepsi experience!

We shared a small side of mixed veggie pickles...

...and a side salad...

...with feta on the side.  I only ate a little.

Tom ordered a roasted eggplant stew, which was tasty.

I had a chicken stew in this amazing pomegranate-walnut sauce. I expected it to be like Honey-Walnut Shrimp, but the walnuts were ground into the the sauce, which made for a really nice texture and flavor.

Plus basmati rice.

Here's another example of how the portion sizes of restaurants are jacked up.  I ate a half lavash with butter and onion, a cup of the pickles and a cup of the salad, plus 2 ounces of chicken, 1 cup of rice, and 1/4 cup of the sauce... which was a really filling.  And yet, here is what was left over:

The leftovers were about the same size of my healthy and filling portion.
You can see the yogurt drink was not my thing, but hey, it's an adventure!
Again, a trip to the restaurant shows me that I can eat healthfully when I'm out - provided I make the right choices and eat the right portions.

And speaking of right portions... here is part six of my week of food loggin'.  It's good to be back, because as you can see, I can adjust by the end of the night if I haven't gotten enough calories, or enough of a particular food group.  (In this case, fat/protein, thus the peanut butter dessert and the random dinner egg white.)

Tuesday, May 24 - 1409 calories
Breakfast - 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1/2 cup rhubarb parfait, 1/2 cup honey oat cereal, 1 boiled egg
Lunch - 1 pear, Tom's "fried" rice (Pam, 2/3 cup rice, 1/2 an eggplant, 1/2 an onion, 1/2 cup mushrooms, 1 clove garlic, 1 tb ginger, 1/2 tb light soy sauce, 1 egg)
Dinner - chicken wrap sandwich (low-cal tortilla, 1 tsp Vegenaise, 1 oz brie, 2 oz chicken, 2 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup spinach), 1.5 cups roasted cauliflower, 1 oz goat cheese, 1 cup strawberries, 1 egg white, dessert (1 tb natural peanut butter, 1 tsp powdered sugar mixed together, with 12 chocolate chips)
Beverages -12 oz skim milk, 44 oz water

All right.  I'm off to do some writing, and I hope you all have a lovely and productive day, too. Take care of you!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weigh-in Tuesday, plus Bebop-a-Reebop Rhubarb Sauce (& parfait)

Happy Tuesday to you.  Nothing spectacular on the scale this morning, just a .2 pound loss.  Hey, downward is downward, and considering my gradual veer from the path last week, a small loss is not unexpected. I do have some other non-scale victories, though.  A pair of boot-cut jeans that were far too tight in January (and which I chopped up to make boyfriend-style cropped cuffs) is officially falling off me.  Time for the next jeans size down - and this one is the last pair of too-small pants I'd saved over the years.

I was excited for this morning's post-weigh-in breakfast.  This weekend I found rhubarb at the farmer's market, so I made sauce to go with my yogurt this week.

I'm no stranger to rhubarb in yogurt.  While in Italy on our honeymoon, I came upon an Italian brand of yogurt that made a rhubarb variety that, once I tasted, I bought every morning in Venice.  (Except for the last morning, when I tried moving some yogurt cartons to see if a rhubarb carton was hiding in the back. I quickly learned that this is not acceptable behavior in Venice.)  I could not find it in Florence or Rome, nor could my brother find it during his three years living in Milan.  Couldn't find it online, either - I only found a recipe for frozen rhubarb yogurt pops, which I made last year.  They were good but not as good as that damn Venetian yogurt.

So in its absence, I made Bebop-a-Reebop Rhubarb Sauce.

Typically, I like the tart flavor of rhubarb on its own. Just slicing into it, releasing that tangy bouquet - brings me back to my childhood, chomping on a puckery-tart stalk raw from the garden, my mom and dad weeding nearby.  But when the rhubarb is sour, like the batch I got at the market, you have to use a lot of sugar to balance.  Instead, I used strawberries to sweeten, and a small amount of agave to round it out.

The fewer ingredients, the better! Just 2 cups each of strawberries & rhubarb, and 2 tb agave.
(I did add a touch of corn starch when it became clear it was going to be too watery.)

Chop the rhubarb (peel if it's stringy) and strawberries. 
Bring the agave and 1/3 cup water to a simmer and add rhubarb/strawberries.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes, and add a touch of corn starch (I used 1 tsp) if it isn't thickening.

I enjoy my 1/2 cup by alternating rhubarb & yogurt like a parfait, and topping it with a 1/2 cup of my favorite cereal (Honey Oat, from Trader Joe's.)

By the way, if the name of my recipe is confusing, you should know that my family was the kind of Midwestern family that listened to A Prairie Home Companion on Saturday evening car trips.  I can't think of rhubarb without thinking of Bebop-a-Reebop Rhubarb Pie.

(And, yes, be prepared for me to sing the ketchup theme song when I get around to finessing my homemade ketchup recipe.)

Here's part 5 of my week of food loggin' -
Monday, May 23 - 1331 calories
Breakfast - 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup raspberries, 1/2 cup honey-oat cereal, 1 boiled egg
Lunch - 2 cups steamed broccoli, 1 baked potato, 1 tsp Earth Balance, 2 tb fat free sour cream, 3 oz scallops seared in Pam
Dinner - 1 cup green beans with broth/onions/thyme, 1.5 cups of chicken/basmati/pomegranate-walnut sauce, 2 apricots, 12 cherries
Beverages - 32 oz water, 32 oz unsweetened mojito iced tea, 8 oz milk

OK. That's it for today.  Check back with me tomorrow for Adventure Wednesday - I've got some interesting things to share.  And keep taking care of you!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tea-Makin' Monday. Or Mojito-Makin' Monday. Or... both?

It's the beginning of a new week, and I'm already up-and-at-'em to finish my writing deadline and get my surgery scheduled.  (Why is it that scheduling surgery is so much like pulling teeth?  Actually, pulling teeth is less of a convoluted process.)

The weekend was a lovely one - we spent some time writing, some time with friends, and some time adventuring.  Plus I completed the third phase of my Cake Pops Quest with surprising results, and I'll post them for you later this week.

I was waiting for this week's Friend Makin' Monday questions, but they seem to be sleeping in with the rest of the fitness blogging community (many of whom were at the FitBloggin conference this weekend.)  So I decided to move forward and turn today into Tea Makin' Monday instead.

My latest passion has been a particular brand of green tea, but I found out recently that the vitamin K in green tea can negatively affect people on blood thinner, so today I wanted to try making iced tea with a black variety.  While at the Hollywood Farmer's Market (on Ivar, not at the Grove) I had a burst of inspiration by a few fresh ingredients I was admiring.  So this morning, I made mojitos.

Not really.  I made Mojito Iced Tea.  It's full of flavor, and about 4 calories per 8 ounces, depending on how much lime juice you add.

The three magic ingredients: Mint Tea, Mexican or Key Limes, and Mint.
If you can't find wee limes, any lime will do.
Also, what is up with calling it "plantation" mint?

First I brewed a full kettle of tea. Mine holds 12 cups, so I used
3 teabags in two bowls (with the water divided at a 1:2 ratio)

I threw some extra mint in while it brewed.  The tea left after 3 minutes, the mint stayed until cool.
Then I strained it into a pitcher and chilled it. (Alternatively, you could pour over ice right away.)

Once it was chilled, I poured a glass over slices of one key lime, the juice of a second key lime,
and a fresh sprig of mint. It is so refreshing that I think my pitcher will be gone before tomorrow!

It feels good to be entering food again.  I'm nearly caught up with the backlog, and as of this morning, I'm entering my calories right after eating, which helps me stay mindful.  I'm still a little high in calories for my personal plan, but now that I'm caught up, I should be able to adjust.  Here are parts 2, 3 and 4 in my food logging week:

Friday, May 20 - 1210 calories
Breakfast: 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup strawberries, 1 egg, 2 slices light whole wheat, 1 Kraft fat free single
Lunch: 2 cups steamed broccoli with lemon, 1 baked potato, 2 tsp Earth Balance, 2 tb fat free sour cream, chicken wrap sandwich (low-cal tortilla, 1 tsp Vegenaise, 1 oz brie, 2 oz chicken, 2 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup spinach)
Dinner: 1.5 cup roasted cauliflower, 1 Kraft fat free single, 1 sausage wrap (low-cal tortilla, 1 veggie sausage, 1 tsp dijon, 2 tb dill pickle), 1 orange, 12 cherries
Beverages: 64 oz water

Saturday, May 21 - 1544 calories
Breakfast: 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt, 6 oz fresh pineapple, egg wrap (low-cal tortilla, 1 scrambled egg, 2 tb fresh pico de gallo, 1 fat free Kraft single)
Lunch: 1.5 cups beet & blood orange salad, chicken wrap sandwich (low-cal tortilla, 1 tsp Vegenaise, 1 oz brie, 2 oz chicken, 2 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup spinach)
Afternoon snack: 1.5 cups homemade veggie gumbo, 2 lemon cake pops
Dinner at a party: 2 oz Hawaiian chicken, 2 potato chips (yes, 2), 1/4 cup black bean salad, 1 lemon cake pop
Beverages: 64 oz water, 8 oz mixed punch

Sunday, May 22 - 1634 calories
Breakfast: 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt, 6 oz fresh pineapple, chicken wrap sandwich (low-cal tortilla, 1 tsp Vegenaise, 1 oz brie, 2 oz chicken, 2 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup spinach)
Morning snack: 1 cup strawberries
Lunch:  2 oz sourdough bread, 1 cup homemade bruschetta topping (tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, balsamic), 1 cup roasted zucchini with 1 oz goat cheese
Afternoon snack: 1 pear
Dinner out: 1/4 cup pomegranate-walnut sauce, 2 oz chicken, 1 cup basmati rice, 2 tb mixed veggie pickle, 1 cup mixed greens with balsamic, 1 oz feta cheese, 1/2 of a lavash pita, 1 tsp butter
Beverages: 8 oz skim milk, 44 oz water, 1/4 cup savory yogurt drink

All right!  Tomorrow I'll be back with my regularly scheduled Weigh-In Tuesday, plus a breakfast recipe that I'm excited to share.  Til then, take care of you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fashion Friday... plus summery inspiration

My outfit for this week's Fashion Friday is connected to Adventure Wednesday.   When we celebrated my -50 in 1950, we took it all the way... even from head to toe.

Dress by Torrid (it's getting too big, this is probably its last outing.)
Sweater by Lane Bryant
Necklace is antique
Bracelet by my sister
I'd rather not admit who made my shoes.
(But some of you can probably guess.)

Alas, you can't see Tom's vintage-style camp shirt very well in this photo.

It's beginning to be beautiful and summery in Los Angeles, so I found myself looking at summery things to wear.  I don't have much of a budget for new clothes at the moment (and while in transition like this, I certainly don't need to buy anything more until what I have is completely untailorable.)  So in the meanwhile, it's fun to put together imaginary outfits.  I thought I'd share some of them with you.

The summer line at EShakti.com really hit my sartorial spot.  What I love about the company is that they have a very large range of sizes (not to mention an option to order custom sizes tailored to your measurements.)  So the dresses that are at the crux of these outfits will probably fit you, no matter who you are.

Dress by EShakti
Hat by Kate Spade
Recycled Magazine Earrings by Anthropologie
Recycled Skateboard Bracelets by Etsy Artist "Dektout"
Shoes by BC Footwear

Dress by EShakti
Jewelry by Anthropologie
Shoes by Nine West

Dress by EShakti
Necklace by Etsy artist "lilywcouture"
Earrings by Etsy artist "mxmjewelry"
Shoes by Kate Spade

Detail of the skirt embroidery

And, part 1 of my 7-part food-loggin' series:
Thursday May 19 
Breakfast: 1/4 cup fat free greek yogurt, 3 pixie tangerines, 1 boiled egg, 2 slices whole wheat toast, 1 tsp Earth Balance
Lunch: 1 cup homemade panzanella, 2 cups homemade veggie gumbo
Dinner: Chicken wrap (low-cal tortilla, 2 oz chicken, 3 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup raw spinach, 1 tsp veganaise, 1 oz brie), 1.5 cups strawberry-cucumber salad

OK!  That it for this week - I'll be back with you on Monday.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and take care of you!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On veering from the path. Plus a recipe for an unexpectedly tasty strawberry salad you HAVE to try.

It's been a week of celebration, but all parties inevitably meet their cups-scattered-on-the-counter end.  So today, I'm going to talk a little bit about the track. And how I've recently... slightly... gradually... veered from it.

For me, the track isn't that narrow.  Or that hard to traverse.  If you're a regular reader, you probably even know what it looks like:
  • I plan what I'm eating.  
  • I stay mindful about what I'm eating.  
  • I don't keep things in the house that will trigger disordered eating.
  • I exercise regularly.
 Except that over the last week or so, it's looked kind of like this:
  • I plan what I'm eating for two days while our guests are here, and then eat what's left over in the fridge.
  • I stay mindful about procrastinate and forget to log what I'm eating.  
  • I don't keep things in the house that will trigger disordered eating, but when guests bring trigger foods, I allow myself to pull that trigger.
  • I exercise kind of regularly.
My intake hasn't been terrible.  I haven't eaten more than I've burned, so there's been no gain - I did just get down to 50 pounds lost.  But when I look at how far I've come, I know that being passive about my health just isn't enough for me anymore.  I feel my best when I'm mindful and even-keel about the energy I take in and the energy I put out.

I think I know, in part, what set me on this slight veer from my path.  I have surgery coming up, and the very thought of it made me feel emotional.  So many questions.  First of all, will it even work?  And how will my body handle the blood thinner switch-a-roo that they'll have to do before I can go under the knife?  I've never had surgery before, so how will I react?  How will I handle slowing down my weight loss progress because I have to sit and convalesce? 

I'm proud of the fact that my answer to these questions wasn't to eat to distract myself.  Instead, I acknowledged that there's going to be a bit of a slow-down in my progress for the short run, while I recover.  But this isn't a race.  There's not even a finish line, because it's a lifetime project.  So I wasn't going to try to lose as much weight as possible before the surgery, in an effort to make up for lost time.  I wasn't going to nudge myself over the edge into disordered undereating or overexercise, the same way that I wasn't going to slip back into disordered overeating or couch potatoism.  What was that Mr. Rogers song my parents always used to sing?*  "Be patient.  Be patient.  All good things take time."  But here's the thing: when you give yourself permission to be patient, it's not a free ticket off the path.

Nevertheless, while I've been a little freer with the calories, I'm not going to punish myself for it.  I'm just going to recommit to the path that works the best for me.  I'll be doing that by working on each of those bullet points above.

Something else that will help is to bring more fruit back into my diet.  My goal for each day is to have 3 servings of fruit - and I let that slide over the past week or so.  I've been lucky to get 2 servings on a good day.  And it's interesting to see how that affects my cravings.  It made it all the harder to resist the cookies, cheesecake and ice cream pints that were in our house.  We never buy them for ourselves so I rarely deal with the temptation. But I feel like I might have been able to say no to them if I'd been eating my regular fruit.

So... there's no better time for a salad recipe starring that beautiful berry of the straw.

Strawberry-Cucumber Salad

We came upon the concept for this dish at the Hollywood Farmer's Market last weekend, where the nutritionist on staff was offering samples of this unexpectedly brilliant combination.

Chop the cucumber and strawberries (1:1 ratio) into similar-sized pieces.
Then macerate the strawberries in 1 tsp sugar and 2 tb balsamic.

Just before serving, combine macerated berries with the cucumber and 2 tb chopped basil.
A squeeze of lemon juice is very good with this as well.

One last thing to help me back onto my path: I'm also going to go back to something that has worked for me in the past: sharing my daily intake at the end of my blog posts, every day for the next week.

By tomorrow morning, I'll have retroactively logged all of the food I didn't log yet, and at the bottom of tomorrow's Fashion Friday post, I'll include what I ate today.  Onward and upward - I'll take care of me.  And you take care of you.

*Not the one you're thinking of, dear family.  Though I will admit that I totally teared up when Dad sang "I'm Proud of You" for my 50 pound loss this week.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Adventure Wednesday in 1950s Downtown

We go adventuring every Wednesday in order to treat ourselves for self-care well done, to help us refill our creativity wells, to feel a part of our city, and to explore what it has to offer.  But this week, in celebration of my fist 50 pounds lost, Tom surprised me by whisking me off downtown for an overnight adventure.  So we indulged in everything that beautiful 1950 has to offer.

Or, well, it felt like the 1950s, because we snagged an unusually reasonable room at the Biltmore Hotel, a Los Angeles landmark.

We're collectors of vintage Los Angeles postcards, and we have one just like this.

Here is the hotel, today.

You might know it as an early host of the Academy Awards ceremonies.  Or you might know it as the place you first encountered Slimer in Ghostbusters.

Or perhaps as the place where Betty Draper floated down the staircase in Season 2 of Mad Men.

If you come back later this week, you might catch me floating down this same staircase on Fashion Friday.


We chose to celebrate my negative 50 lbs in 1950s here, and not only because we love the retro aesthetic. It gave us the chance to do some adventuring with food and exercise, plus it helped us focus on writing together, as a creative retreat.  We're coming close to a particular writing deadline of ours, so we the took the time to be collaborate while cooped up in luxury (and away from distracting cats and friends and chores and TVs.)

We started out with lunch and tea in the Rendezvous Gallery.

It came with a vintage tea set, complete with tea cozy.

My tea was called "Green Passion," and it was delicious.

Especially with a touch of floral honey. Yes, I admit it. I took these home. They were too cute to abandon!

I lunched on - what else? - a Los Angeles vintage classic, the cobb salad.

It doesn't have to be an unhealthy choice, as long as you leave the majority of the bacon,
half the avocado and bleu cheese, and 99.9% of the dressing, which was in a pitcher the size of my fist.

Following lunch, we explored the hotel a little bit.  After all, we had it all to ourselves.  Except, of course, all of the Red Bull employees.

And the cast & crew of True Blood.

No, we didn't see the actors. Even though we found a call sheet that someone had dropped on the ground, so we knew what time they'd be arriving.  I'm not paparazzi.  (And I don't watch the show.)

We were especially excited to check out (and make use of) the lovely Biltmore Athletic Club, which is free for all guests.  I've visited in the past, and the swimming pool is hands-down my favorite indoor pool in Los Angeles.   I spent over an hour doing snorkle-laps and absorbing the atmosphere.

Don't you just want to jump into your screen?

We even did some excellent brainstorm work while enjoying the perfectly hot-bathtub-like whirlpool.

I loved the lounge chairs. I felt like I was on the deck in "The Lady Eve."

They had a tremendous number of treadmill and elliptical machines, all with personal TVs.
There were also weight machines and free weights. A great gym for a hotel!

We managed to finish a nice chunk of our script, and even caught a movie before bed (Josh Radnor's writer/directorial debut, HappyThankYouMorePlease - which I definitely liked, but didn't love.)

In the morning, we took a few blocks' stroll to breakfast at Clifton's Cafeteria - the oldest surviving Los Angeles restaurant.

Man, I hardly recognize my silhouette anymore!

Once part of a chain of Southern California cafeterias (each with a different elaborate theme), the downtown Clifton's is the last that remains of the bunch. 

It's jam-packed with woodland kitsch.

Legend has it that the crude robotic raccoons and the (kind of) immersive theming
inspired Walt Disney in the creation of Disneyland.

Even the food offerings are retro-kitschy. 

Though very plentiful, and very affordable.

Our breakfast, which included an egg white/veggie omelet with potatoes,
pancakes and grilled potatoes, two servings of whole wheat toast,
strawberries and a bottle of water, came to a grand total of $14.

Worth a trip, whether you're a history buff, a fan of things strange and corny, or just a little light in the wallet these days.

All in all, our celebratory trip downtown was both relaxing and productive, which was exactly what we needed to be.  Now we're tucked back into our Hollywood condo, trying hard not to be distracted by the kittens or the laundry while we finish up our script.  Wish us luck!

I'll be back tomorrow with a bit of honesty and a request for you all. Until then, I hope you'll find some adventure of your own... and take care of you while doing it!