Saturday, December 1, 2012

Episode 67: The SNAP Challenge

In an article I read yesterday on Flipboard (which means I can't find the link now that I want to write about. I must remember to use my media more wisely), Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, agreed to take on the challenge of a fellow Twitter user.  This Twitter user, who goes by the handle TwitWit, challenged Booker to what is being called the SNAP challenge. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, what we commonly refer to as Food Stamps.  This challenge asks that people live on what the government mandates is the minimum allowance for food.  In California, the maximum amount you can receive is $167 a month per person on average.  If you do the math for a 31 day month, that is $5.38 a day or approximately $1.80 per meal.

I know... that was a lot of math for me too...

So, AM and I were sitting down, talking about what life would be like if we had to live on this, and we decided to take the challenge.  What would it be like to live on an average of $1.80 per meal, and could you do it?  

What this means is that there is no eating out, no little extras. If we want something that we don't make ourselves, we have to fit that into the budget, but it also means that a lot of what we eat should be or will be made from scratch.  My bread machine is nice, and makes a good 1 pound loaf of bread for a bit under $2, but what does that mean?  How long will that bread last?  Can I live a full, nutritious successful life, making sure that I eat healthfully and still keep within that budget? 

I think we're going to start with just a week and see how it goes from there.  Many people who are doing the challenge (and quite a few are blogging about it), talk about how the lack of food is affecting their concentration, the constant hunger they feel is affecting how they interact with people and their job performance.  I'm curious to see how it will affect me.

The point of this project for me is to gain perspective on what that type of lifestyle is like.  I come from a middle class background.  I have a decent job, but I work with many students who come from low income houses.  Some are on the Free Lunch program. Sometimes, kids come to my class complaining of hunger and if I had a piece of fruit or something, I will offer it up to them and I know that many of them appreciate it.  I know I will never understand what some of them go through.  By doing this challenge, I hope to maybe gain some insight.  I will never say that I want to walk a mile in their shoes.  I will never know what their lives are like, what they experience or what they go through, but to gain some insight may be helpful.

AM and I were talking about this challenge. He pointed out that for the cost of the coffee that I get from Starbucks or the little coffee shop where we go to write, a person on Food Stamps is supposed to be eating two whole meals.  One venti white chocolate mocha = 2 meals.  I was floored when he pointed this out to me.  This idea that I could spend $4-5 on a cup of coffee, full of milk and caffeine and sugars that I don't really need really struck me as a difficult one to swallow, and made me look at myself closer.  Is it selfish of me to want to drink that $4 coffee (which I honestly don't really need) when someone else in the world goes hungry for one more day?  

I'm not going to completely give up the coffee forever, but this is the month where we really begin to think about charity, helping and giving to those in need as well as showing our family our appreciation.  If for at least a week, I can try to learn to understand this experience and it gives me a greater knowledge and compassion, I will be a better person for it.  If I get a chance, I will blog about it here.  I invite others to join me, or follow me or just learn more about it.  

Love and low fat foods!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

2012 Thankful Post

This year I am thankful for so many things, so many wonderful people and so many great things happening to me this year that I don't even really know where to start.

First, I am thankful for AM, as always, my rock and my roll, who makes me happy every day and lets me take care of him as much as he takes care of me.

I am thankful for my family, who have been there for me.  I know I don't see you enough lately, but you are always on my mind and in my heart..

I am thankful for the wonderful change that has taken place in my life that has allowed me to get a hold on who I am.

I am thankful for my job and that Prop 30 passes this year so that I can keep it.  I love what I do, even if I get frustrated sometimes. I love talking about literature, watching children learn who they really are and I love that moment when you're in a classroom conversation when a child knows that they can say anything and be listened to and respected.  I love all of my students.

I am thankful for my friends, new and old.  For the lunch crowd at Stagg and the writers of Wrimo.  It is good to know that there are kindred out there.

I am thankful for these and everybody around me.  I am thankful that I can make minipies to share with my family.  Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!

Love and Lollipops and lots of cranberry sauce,


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Episode 66: Putting Color Into Life

Today we went to the Farmer's Market behind the Weberstown Mall.  We got up, even before breakfast, put on clothes, braved the cold, crisp morning (at 8:45) and went out to see what sort of fresh produce they had for us today.  What you see in the picture is what we bought.  Fresh veggies, raspberry jams and some pomegranates.  They are all glorious (and barely fit in our tiny tiny apartment fridge).  The plan is to make some really awesome veggie soup, since we're on a type of Weight Watchers.
So many colors!
 In fact, I'm sort of cheating.  I have no money and very little resources to rejoin Weight Watchers at this time, but I have all of my old book and all of my old program stuff, so we're using these as resources, with some help from some web sources, to create our own version of Weight Watchers.  I haven't given up on the whole milk or the whole fat yogurt, as they seem to be better for my digestion than the low fat stuff (I don't get nearly as may ucky tummies), but we are adding many more veggies and things to our diet.  I feel healthier.  According to my Wii, I have lost about 5 pounds in the last two weeks.

Just looking at that picture makes me happy!  The colors, the vibrancy, and I've noticed that since we have been eating better, cleaning our apartment more often and working out a bit more, my whole life seems to be coated in this new vibrant color.  A year or more ago, I was feeling kind of in the doldrums.  I lived in a beautiful place, I had everything I ever wanted, but it wasn't satisfying. I was unhappy.  I was overweight. I was lazy and in pain and everything seemed like crap.  I was taking medication for bipolar disorder and it wasn't helping much.  And the food I was eating was awful!  Looking back at my Weight Watcher's books from a year ago, I was eating fast food daily.  One day was Wendys. One day was Subway. One day was Taco Bell.  Fried foods, foods full of fat, foods full of fillers. These were the things that I was putting into my body, and my body fought back with depression, acne and weight gain.

Now I eat what you see on the table.  Fresh fruits, fresh veggies. I make my own breads sometimes.
 I take a vitamin daily, and I cook my own food. I have even, on occasion, made my own butter (which is absolutely delicious!)  I know exactly what goes in my food. If I write down a recipe, or a list of ingredients, I can pronounce every single one of them.  I still eat meat, though we do have our Wegitarian Wednesdays, and Pizza Fridays (our one little concession to the "how do you pronounce that?" foods).  We will eat out, but we go places where we can eat healthfully.  We found this great little sushi place (at Sherwood Mall, no less) that makes great rolls and you can watch them make them, so we know exactly what goes into them.  All of these things have greatly improved the quality of my life.

I plan on keeping up with this blog some more.  I want to write and keep track.  I want to post about how I organize my life, how I make it can make it better, and how I have learned to enjoy a life lived in less space and fewer calories but much more enriched.  I'll post some of my recipes that we have found particularly yummy, some ideas for keeping life organized, and my adventures of jumping off the high dive of life and just, well... Weighting in the Deep End!

Keeping happy and healthy!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Episode 65: Perceived Energy vs. Actual Energy

I just spent three days on a whirlwind tour of the East Coast.  What I could see of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York it is a beautiful place full of wonderful people, wonderful conversation and wonderful food.  And the great thing was the food wasn't the focus. I didn't come here to eat, I came her to see people and see things.  I found all to my satisfaction.

But Oh My Invisible Purple Unicorn!!!  I am SOOOOOOOOO sore.  My entire body is literally aching and sore right now and I have the beginnings of an awful headache. (Which will shortly be cut off by some of the best medication for headaches! Advil!!!--hey... I wouldn't mind an endorsement!)  However, it brings to mind an interesting point that AM pointed out on our travels.


When we're at home, I resist moving. It is nearly impossible to cajole me into an hour long walk, or even to walk to the grocery store.  Getting on the Wii takes promises of chocolate and doing the Tai Chi video takes promises of some good red wine.  I get snarky and complain that I don't want to, and you can't make me!

I have noticed that, while I'm not actual losing weight lately, I am losing my pain.  I used to have to sit on a walk around campus. My back would cramp up, followed by my calves tightening and I would absolutely need a rest. That is beginning to go away though and this year, I started the school year with a nearly non-stop walk around school because I needed to.

Friday, AM and I touristed our way around New York.  I walked for countless hours around the Museum of Natural History.  I strolled through (and got slightly lost) in Central Park, and we wandered around Times Square and then walked up to Broadway and then walked to Penn Station.  Yesterday, I went to a wedding reception and danced for hours!!  Today I plan on walking around Philadelphia to learn about the birth of our great nation!

If I was at home, I would have never moved this much! I would never have done this much!  I feel amazing (if not incredibly, painfully tired!) because of the high that this vacation gave me.  I love it!  Which brings me to my topic.

At home, I think that I won't have the energy to move around. I get home, I want to sit in front of the television or sit in front of the computer.  I will get up and maybe move to make dinner, but I won't work out, I won't go for walks because I am "too tired" to do anything.  I do not want to move.  I feel that my energy levels are absolutely drained as soon as I get home from work. This was my Perceived Energy.

But they're not! That is just what I think!  This idea that I have a finite amount of energy and that I cannot move is crap!  Proven by this weekend, there is so much that I am capable of!  I can walk for hours. I can get out and get up and do things! I have the energy in spite of my weight. In fact, with this new found knowledge, I have the power to make myself better.  This is my Actual Energy.

And I realized I have more Actual Energy than I have Perceived Energy.  I can do a lot of things in my life if I start looking at my Perceived Energy and considering my Actual Energy levels and try to make them match up more often.  It may make me feel more exhausted, but eventually, my Perceived Energy will increase because I will learn that I can do that much more.  And as my Perceived Energy goes up and I begin to lose weight, my Actual Energy will probably increase as well.  So, I've decided once a year (at least) I will come out to the East Coast and test my energy level and find out how much Actual Energy I have gained and adjust my life accordingly.

This should be a fun experiment! So, gentle reader, this is a consideration for you.  What is your Actual Energy (the amount of energy you can expend on things that you want to do) and what is your Perceived Energy (what you only think you can do).  You may find yourself surprised!

Until next time,

Love and Lollipops,


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Episode 64: Satisficer or Maximizer?

AM and I were recently discussing the difference between being a satisficer and a maximizer.  Let me step into teacher mode, for a few seconds, a give you a few definitions:

Sat-is-fice-r (n). One who, in the search for a product or a service, will look for specific criteria and purchase said products or service once a specific criteria has been met. Shirley, a satisficer, found a camera that she liked that had most of the features she wanted, so she bought it.

Max-im-ize-r (n.) One who, in search for a product or service, may find a product that will meet a specific criteria but continue to look until they find the "best" product for them. Jean, a maximizer, refuses to buy a new suit until he looks in every shop and reads the fashion magazines to look for the best cut color for his body shape.

I think that, in the grand scheme of things, I tend to be a satisficer. I see something that I want, something that maybe I have been thinking about buying for a long while, and if looks decent enough, I will buy it.  I don't have to visit the consumer magazines, I don't have to look at the websites. I know that that article of whatever is exactly want to buy.

I'm also a sucker for good advertising.  Show me a good trick or gimmick, something that may make me go "ooohhh" or think that that product is good for me in the long run, and I am more likely to buy that item.  I love a good sales pitch, especially when it ends with "and for a limited time, we'll knock of x amount of money from the original cost".  I love to buy things.

Now, AM and I had been considering replacing my old and ratty cookware.  Old Teflon stuff from IKEA that I had bought ages ago. One pan had gotten so bad that it had a hill in the middle. If you wanted to fry something, you had to get used to using the sides of the pan because the grease or oil or whatever you were cooking in would just run down to the sides.  Most of the pans had deep scratches on them and some of the Teflon was scratching off.  (Some say that Teflon is bad for you, as it will flake off and has harmful chemicals, some say that it is harmless.  I am erring on the side of safety and not going with Non-stick).

Now, we did do some research. We haunted the housewares departments of Sears and Dillards and J.C. Penney's, looking at the Calphalon, the All-Clad, even Paula Deen's and Emeril's sponsored brands.  We coveted that shiny metal cookware.  We went home; we looked at websites; we even checked out a few consumer reports.

And then we went to the State Fair.  And there, for more money that we could probably afford, was our cookware.  Now, like a new bride who is just getting to know her mate, I am incredibly protective of my new cookware.  It was a lot of money, but was it worth it. The demonstration chef promised a world with no more cooking with oils, no more butters, no more frying.  He cooked us up crisp delicious vegetables.  We "oohed and ahhed" at the taste of the succulent chicken cooked without even water, deliciously seared in its own juices.  We had to have this cookware!

So, with the idea of "well, we're investing in our health and in our future" we ordered it.  Of course, we looked up reviews online as soon as we got home and read that it wasn't the greatest stuff, but at this point, I was committed.  I was waiting for my stainless steel, seven layer bridegroom of cookware to come to my doorstep and sweep me off of my feet and into better health.

It arrived 10 days later, all shiny and new.  I immediately went to the fridge, grabbed a few ears of corn and tried to recreate one of the dishes I had seen our masterchef/salesman create at the Fair.  I succeeded in burning the pan.  A good deal of elbow grease and some stainless steel cleaner, AM got the burn marks out. It was then that I decided to read the directions...

Now that we've had it for a few weeks, I am learning to cook again. I am learning to cook with less water, less oils. I am learning the true flavors of food.  Chicken without any seasonings is amazing!  Tonight I made pork roast (which I cut into slices) roasted on the stovetop with onions and garlic.  I used the drippings to make a delicious gravy without any butter that would have been worthy of biscuits and gravy, had we had any biscuits.

Now, I want to learn to really cook!  I want to take cooking classes, and learn how to make foods that make the mouth water.  AM bought a few "low sugar" cookbooks, to help us on our way and I've marked the recipes for salmon, steak diane with cremini mushrooms, fluffy omelets with avocado.  It all looks really great!

In the end, my satisficer instinct wasn't much off with this purchase.  So far, even though I bought it on a whim, I seem to have had a bit of the maximizer instict with me too.  This cookware is supposed to last me the rest of my life.  With the quality of it, and learning how to cook right,  I have no doubts that I will test that claim.

Here's to our health!

Love and Lollipops,


P.S. If you don't burn the heck out of it, it cleans up incredibly easily too!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Episode 63: Return from the Dead

Sorry I haven't been writing.  Real Life has taken over and my head is about to explode.  I've been so busy! Between spending time with AM, quilting classes, watching my nephews and discovering a new me, I am learning that life is not easy, but I am living it.

I've been doing this program called "The Artist's Way".  It has been sucking my time away from me, but it is something I needed to do because it is helping me find my "creative spirituality".   It helps me look at why I am blocked as a creative.  It helps me look at what is keeping me from writing.

A confession:  I haven't really worked on my novel in about... oh... well... 8 months really.  Even this blog, my connection to the outside world, has really sort of gone by the wayside.  I need to get back to it.  I need to start focusing again on weight loss, on exercise, on writing, on growth. I need to start working with my novel again.  I need to grow up. 

I want to be a better person.  I guess it's sort of a "who doesn't?" sort of thing.  Most of us can find some sort of flaw in ourselves.  Going through this Artist's Way program, which is sort of AA for the creative soul, I am looking at my past self.  I am looking at what I want for my future and I'm looking at my dreams, my wants, my needs.  What do I absolutely need in my life to make myself happy in my future?  Is it sugar? Is it electronic gadgets, or my Arc or my fountain pens?

I look at my life and I look at all of the things that I own.  Do these things make me a better person, or are they controlling me and making me unhappy?  Sure, I want a new computer.  Sure I want a new iPad or a new car.  I don't need these things.  I need most of the people in my life.  I need my wonderful boyfriend, my talented Awesome Musician.  I need my family.

In order to ensure that I am around for a good long time to enjoy my wonderful boyfriend, and my family, I need to take care of myself.  This blog is my journey.  I return to it to document my struggle, to reawaken myself to my possibilities and to share my story.

Love and lollipops,


(I used the word "need" 12 times in this post.  Maybe that's telling me what I should be focusing on? heheheh)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Episode 62: Low Carb

AM has been talking to me a lot about this new book that he is reading called Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes.  In this book it talks about good foods and bad foods, and apparently most of the foods that are "bad" for you are full of carbs, full of sugar.  I haven't read the whole book, but I probably will, and it got me thinking about my favorite foods.  I adore chocolate, and ice cream and caramel sauce.  I adore bread and pasta, and cupcakes and little tiny apple pies.  Apparently, I need to learn to give these up. Ugh.

My doctor, on the other hand, tells me that I should only eat meat once a month.  "Once a month!" I bellow.  "That will never happen!"  I eat eggs for breakfast every morning. I eat bacon, and I love steak.  The blood bank keeps telling me that I am slightly anemic and I often get turned down because of a low iron count.

So, if I take both Taubes's advice and my doctor's advice, all I can really eat is vegetables.  Lots and lots of vegetables.  Not to make fun of vegetables or anything, but.. um.. no.  I am not going to eat nothing but vegetables.  If I wanted to be thought of as really strange, I could one of those "take my energy from the sun" sort of people who refuse to do anything but drink water.  But I'm not that strange.

I will continue to eat carbs, though I will limit them.  I will continue to eat meat, though maybe I could buy some more white meat and perhaps some leaner cuts of beef.  I will continue to eat my 2 eggs a day and my yogurt with honey in the morning.  I will eat what I like, but I will not over indulge. If I am full, I will stop eating. I will eat what I like, but I will be moderate, temperate and happy.  I don't like the idea of denying myself, but I can limit myself and I can learn to enjoy the foods that I eat.

I hope you all find the finer things in your life to enjoy.

Love and lollipops,


Monday, May 28, 2012

Episode 61: Experimentation

Yesterday I posted about how I'm cooking from scratch and how I'm learning to cook with fresh ingredients and whole foods.  Here is an example of what I made!  

A while ago, for Christmas, AM got me a great little book called Cutie Pies.  My cousin, John, decided to make an apple pie this week, and it sounded so good (and I am too far away from Arizona to go and try his), I decided to make my own.

Rather than go with the traditional apple pie and crust, since I don't even think I am capable of latticing a crust as well as John, I chose to make a Sour Cream Apple Pie.  The recipe can be found here Sour Cream Apple Pie Deluxe, with a few minor tweaks.  Rather than use sour cream, which I don't actually have any of, I used plain full fat yogurt.  This added a bit of a tang that was really taken care of by the sugar in the mix. A pretty good addition, I think.  Instead of using white sugar in the topping, I used brown sugar, which is my favorite sugar. 

The pie crust I got from the Cutie Pies book and used a 6 inch pie shape to cut the pie crusts, which I pushed into buttered muffin tins.  Added the filling and the topping, and put in a 375 degree oven.  I checked on the pies every 5 minutes or so, and it took about 25 minutes for the crust to get golden brown and the topping to set just right.

AM says they're wonderful, and went back for seconds (which he split with me), and we have 9 little pies left over in the fridge for a future dessert craving.  

Yay for little pies!

May you find your own world to experiment with this week. Let me know what you've done to free some creativity!

Love and Lollipops,


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Episode 60: Nature

I was up at 6am going to the grocery store to buy milk.  As I walked back to my apartment in the cool morning air, my bag laden with milk, butter, brown sugar, bread and apples, I stopped for a moment and looked around me.  The air was crisp and there was dew hanging from a spider's web on a nearby rose bush.   The grass was lush and green and sparkling.  The sky was blue, as it is often here in California, and everything seemed to be at peace.  Even the birds seemed happier.  And I've noticed... I've been having more and more of these moments.  I will stop and think and wonder at the beauty of nature, the brilliance of everything around me, and I will be happy.

Lately, AM and I have been eating healthier.  Less processed foods, less junk.  We watch the sugars on foods that we buy like yogurt, and we don't buy diet foods (except Lo-Carb Monsters... because caffeine is essential).  More often than not, we will make things at home, using natural and fresher ingredients, and I am finally finally learning to cook in a way that is healthy.  I'm not losing weight, but I am not gaining weight either and my body feels a lot healthier and trimmer.  We use whole milk, full fat yogurts, real butter, real eggs, lean cuts of meat and vegetables. Every meal must have some sort of vegetables or fruit... or at least we try to make that happen.

Yesterday's lunch was tortillas with tomato basil hummus and feta cheese.  Very yummy.  This morning we are going German with some German puffed pancakes and apple slices.  I haven't made German pancakes in ages, and they used to be my sister and my favorite food when we were kids.  I'm using the half recipe here German Pancakes, and slicing up some apples and mixing them with brown sugar and baking them down a little bit until they are tender.  Should be great! I'll let you know how they turn out.

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday morning and stay happy and healthy!

Love and lollipops,


Friday, May 4, 2012

Episode 59: Cloud Bank

There are clouds over Stockton today.  As the criminologist would say, they are heavy, black... but maybe not so pendulous.  But I can see the edges of the clouds, and I can see the blue sky just beyond that rim of moisture.  The edges of the clouds are white, and if I look up with an anchoring point, like a telephone pole or a tree, I can see this cloud bank that hangs heavily over my life beginning to shift and move away.

That is how I feel lately, like I am under a huge black cloud that threatens rain. A storm cloud seems to be hanging over me constantly.  I feel like this cloud bank has been there for years.  Rain has been coming on and off in my life, and it feels like the bleakest hour, and I have been just waiting around for the sky to open up and rain to fall on my head.  I kept myself protected, I kept myself safe, and got used to this little black storm for years.  I even felt that it was what I needed, what I deserved and eventually came to the conclusion that it was what I wanted, what was right for me.

But now, I am seeing the edge of my own little black cloud bank.  I can see the sunlight, just beyond that white line.  I don't know what waits for me beyond, in the sunlight, but I can see real true happiness coming for me in the promise of no more rain.  Not saying that there won't be the occasional storm, because everybody needs a little rain from time to time to clean out the system, but I think that my life is going to get a lot sunnier soon.

To get ready for this new, sunshine filled life I am beginning to blossom, or as one of my long distance friends says, I am beginning to make my way out of my chrysalis.  I am signing up for classes, going out of my way to meet people and sometimes talk to them.  I smile more at people, and find that if you smile at someone and give them a cheery "Good day!", they will often smile back and respond in kind.  I really really like people, and I don't feel as scared anymore.

I live in one of the most crime filled places in the United States.  We recently had, in my city, our twenty first and twenty second homicides, one where a man was gunned down in the streets.  We have a horrible reputation, and cities that surround us often try to avoid us.  But I don't see that violence, I don't see that crime. I look in people's faces and often see potential for some sort of good in the world, some sort of happiness.  I hope I never have to lose that outlook.  Our news programs and media often highlight the violence, the terror, the fear and the hate that goes on around us, because fear is a real emotion that we all can experience.  By bringing these awful horrible things to the front of everybody's mind, they create fear and the masses don't realize that they are being emotionally manipulated to stay inside, lock up their children, keep them indoors watching more media, more fear, more hate.  It is very rare to see the sunlight in the news anymore, in the world anymore because all we see is the dark storm clouds overhead, and don't look for the edge where everything is going to be better, if we just look up and see that the storm clouds are moving away from us.

Smile at someone today, and say "Good Day" to them. See if they don't smile back.  It makes a world of difference to someone, sometimes.

Love and lollipops,


Monday, April 16, 2012

Episode 58: Dishes

This will shock my family.  This may shock the few friends I have that know me pretty well.  It actually sort of shocks me. Here goes...

I actually like doing dishes.

No, I won't come over and do yours.

Ok, so here is why.  There comes a certain satisfaction from just drowning your arms and hands in a deep sink full of dishes.  Ever since I moved in to this apartment, I have lacked a dish washer.  I no longer could just rinse the dishes and stick them in the machine that would sanitize them and make them scalding hot.  I have to get in there, pick off the dirt and debris of the past day's worth of eating (or so... I don't like doing them all the time). I use the many tools of the job: the sponge, which if Mythbusters is to be believed (and they are) is germ laden and disgusting; the bottle brush to get those hard to reach places which my hands are too big to get and the green fuzzy plastic scrubby thing that is safe for my Teflon pots and pans.  With these tools, I wash away all of the left over sauces and fat drippings that come from a rich diet of not entirely healthy foods.  If a particular bit of something won't let go, just give it a bit of time in a warm bath with plenty of good smelling soap and it will lose its stubbornness and eventually soften and let go.  Sure, my hands may be a bit pruny as I continue to wash, but that will take only a bit of time to mend. And at the end of doing dishes, once everything is dried and put away, there comes a bit of satisfaction that the job is done for the night, that there is order in the world, even in just one small part of the world, and that you know where everything is, in that kitchen.  It is a good feeling.

And I'm finding, life is like that on a larger scale.  Doing dishes is an interesting metaphor for life.  You take time to work at the problem spots, or just set them aside if they are too large to get to and eventually, it will all work out.  You may have to do a little bit of work, spend a little bit of time, and you may have to find the right tools,  but your world can come to some sort of order if you decide that is what you want to do.  Your body or mind may get wrung out, may become a bit pruny, but just sit in a hot bath for a while, forget about that problem even for a couple of minutes, and you'll be able to face and beat it when the time is right. And in the end, you will find that order will be restored and you can look back on your life and those rough times when you were up to your elbows in troubles, and see that those troubles have been put away in the right places, life has sorted itself out, and you can feel that you have accomplished something.

For my friends and families with automatic dishwashers, may I suggest that tonight, or sometime soon, you let go of technology, fill your sink up with soapy water, and emerge yourself into just doing dishes and letting your mind go.  And while your hands are busy, and you are enjoying the peaceful meditation of a gentle, relaxing task you may find your mind wandering and a solution comes out of some that celebrates those quiet moments that come when you are just doing dishes.

Happy sudsing!

Love and Lollipops,


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Episode 57: Point-less

A confession: Since AM has been here, I haven't really been counting points.  I haven't been eating awfully,and we are keeping each other on task for exercise and walking and being healthy.  I haven't been following the Weight Watcher's way, and I haven't been going to meetings, or even really weighing in.

But... I feel healthier.  I am happy.  I admit, my weight has always been a bit of a hassle for me, a bit of a sore spot, and it's not like I don't care about it, but I am happier and I think healthier even if I'm not really paying attention to points.  I eat my vegetables with (nearly) every meal. Instead of candy bars and carbs in my desk, I keep a small container of nuts and dried fruit next to my projector at school and munch a bit while my students are working.  Instead of ice cream every night (I was incredibly addicted to Drumsticks for a while), I grab a mandarin orange out of the basket on our table.

Don't get me wrong, I do still eat ice cream and brownies. I still make mini pies for dinner (bacon, mushroom and cheddar are my favorites), but I'm not constantly craving it anymore.  I'm not constantly in need of something sweet.  I do enjoy it from time to time, but my cravings are starting to go away.

I am watching my carb intake, and my sugar intake (although the White Chocolate Mocha I just had at Starbucks probably would kill any Atkins subscriber immediately), but I'm not starving myself, I'm not feeling deprived.  I feel healthier than I have in a really long time.  I do sort of envy the people who start and continue a program like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or even Atkins.  These are things I just don't have the mental toughness and will power to follow through on.  So, I will just keep on keeping on, making healthier choices without really depriving myself and I will just learn to be happier.  I"m learning that happiness, in the long run, means more to me than food.

I am finding other things to be happy about:  my Nook, my wonderful boyfriend, a shared meal at the dinner table, a good conversation.  I will always be thankful that AM has brought these things into my life. (Ok... ok... enough sappy romance.)

I will continue with my weight loss journey.  I will lose weight, but I will not obsess over it.  I will eat healthier foods (and share them with you, oh obscure reader).  I will strive to lead a healthier, happier, more active lifestyle.  For now, I leave with one parting thought:

It is not how much you weigh that will be weighed in the balance at the end of your life. Friends and family will not judge you on how large your casket is, but how large your heart was.  Be kind, gentle reader, to those around you.  It is the greatest measure of a person.

With love and lollipops,


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Episode Easter: Peep S'Mores!

Ok, so I had originally planned on having this recipe up with pictures and a video, but it just didn't work out, so here is my recipe for Peep Smores.  (I figured them at about 4 points each).  Here is what you need for one..

One sheet of graham cracker split in two pieces (roughly two square pieces)
3 squares (one fourth) of a regular Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar
One Peep

1. Place one half of the graham cracker on a microwavable plate.
2. Place the chocolate on top of the graham cracker.
3. Place the Peep on the chocolate.
4. Microwave for 15 seconds. (This is the fun part.. watch it as it microwaves.  AM watched, and giggled like a mad person!
5. Remove plate from microwave and put the other half of the graham cracker on top!
6. Enjoy!

Have a great Easter everybody!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Episode 56: Rebirth


I know, I haven't been around much lately. When you're living a life of this much bliss, you can't be bothered to do much blogging, I suppose.  Well, mostly bliss anyway.  Things are good... for the most part.

Except my weight.

I seem to have reached some sort of plateau.  I'm not really losing weight, but I'm not gaining too much weight either. I rubber band around mffmmm and mffmm, gaining or losing about 2 or 3 pounds every time I weigh in.

This needs to stop.

So, Easter is coming up.  I don't celebrate it, as I have a tiny little hitch in my whole stance of belief and religion.  That being said, Easter is an interesting time.  It is a time when the Christian world celebrates the rebirth of their god with stolen pagan rituals.  But it's that word, that term rebirth that gets me thinking. 

Once a year, most of the world (about a third, really.. 2.2 billion, according to Wikipedia) reflect on rebirth once a year.  Their God is reborn after three days.  I think I'll take a cue from them, and consider my own bit of rebirth.

I need to get back on track.  I need to be counting points, spending time exercising.  Recently, AM and I went to Japantown in San Francisco and did about 5 hours (conservative estimate) of walking.  We actually stayed for 6 and a half hours, but I'm giving us an hour an a half for the times we sat down to eat, write, talk, enjoy each other's company.  We had a really great time just hanging out and engulfing ourselves in the two malls that surround the Japanese Peace Plaza.  (If you're my friend on Facebook, I will post some pictures).  We hung out at MaiDo, we strolled around, we had lunch at Mifuna (I could be wrong on the name), and altogether it was wonderful!  And we walked so much!!

And when we got home... we felt it!  I don't exercise much, and my body screamed in the only way that it could that I need to do walking more often.  Maybe not 5 hours in one day, but a half an hour - maybe an hour a day - may not be the worst thing for my system.  So, part of my rebirth will be walking, even if it is just walking daily down to the market to pick up a little bit of groceries for dinner.

Since... well, let's say since January... I haven't been big on meal planning and counting points.  Those things get in the way when you have a Nubi (good frozen yogurt) just down the street from you.  Those things get in the way when you are suddenly rediscovering that the city that you live in has wonderful cuisines that you have never tried before (like the Greek cuisine I had never noticed in Stockton before.. and the Vietnamese.. and the tiny Italian places).  Those things get in the way when you start focusing on work and grading and really teaching lessons that make your students thing.  Counting points and calories hasn't been much on my priority list. 

But they need to be.  I don't want to live forever, but I don't want to die early either.  If I stay at my current weight and my current eating pattern (high sodium, fat and sugar content) I will develop some serious illnesses. I am already on the path to diabetes and I already have to take a slough of medications for high blood pressure.  My asthma has begun to kick up again and my back has thrown in its screaming pain along with all of the else that is going on.  If I want to be healthier and happier, I have to stick to a diet rich in foods that are healthy for me. (I hate the word diet.  It implies something temporary to me in a way that is like "With this 8 week diet, you'll lose 50 pounds!" which never really works out because these diet plans are ridiculous starvation acts that deprive your body of healthy nutrients and carbohydrates that your brain and other organs need to function! Diet for me means "the way I eat every day.") Counting points and making sure that I check off all of the items on that healthy eating list are important for me. AM and I have littered our apartment with whiteboards and reminder notebooks. It is time I used them.

The last part of my rebirth is my blog.  I need to start blogging again.  I meant it to be a record of my journey, perhaps a way for me to express myself that will give other people hope, ideas and the occasional recipe or healthy hint that they can take away from it.  I honestly don't really expect very many people to read it, but I enjoy writing it and sharing my life with my family and friends, who I have been spending a lot more time with lately.  I need to get back onto a nearly daily updating routine. Maybe a "just before bedtime" bit of writing, just to check in. Maybe a quick 15 minute "this is my motivation for today' writing in the mornings. All I know is that I need to get back to it.  This is (mostly) for me.

I have been lax, and inherent in that laziness has been the weight that I have gained and the lack of exercise and good eating.  I am a responsible adult.  I have the tools I need to succeed. Now I need to use them.

Hoping that you find your own rebirth this weekend,
Love and Lollipops,


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Episode 55: Renouncing my citizenship

I, ToryLynn, hereby renounce my citizenship to the Fast Food Nation.

AM and I have been mostly avoiding the fast food since he moved out here, and because both of us were not feeling very well, we decided that we would skip making dinner at home (which we have been very good about) and have fast food.  So, we looked through the adverts for something to eat and found that Carl's Jr. had a 2 for $5 deal on Western Bacon Cheeseburgers.  These are awesome hunks of meat topped with bacon, barbecue sauce and an onion ring.  We ordered some criss-cut fries to go with it, and went home.

Now lately, I have been eating a mostly healthier diet: Tortillas with a bit of butter and cheese, Vietnamese soup with vegetables, baked chicken with mashed potatoes.  I hadn't though, however, that I had gotten so far from my former grease laden diet and I thought I would be fine.  I was soooo wrong.

Almost immediately after eating the fast food, wave after wave of nausea flowed over me. My skin felt like I had bathed in bacon grease, and the meat wad that was my dinner weighed heavily in my stomach.  I was not fine.  And then I thought back on what I had been eating lately.  No McDonald's, no Burger King, no Wendy's.  These were all things that had been a staple in my diet and I remembered calling EH very often on my way home and asking what I should pick up on the way home for dinner.  I don't do that anymore. If I call on the way home from work, it is now so that I can tell AM that he needs to get dressed and I'm picking him up to go grocery shopping, or go to the mall for a walk, or we will go out for Non-fat yogurt with some toasted coconut. (Ok.. ok.. so the chocolate syrup is probably not the best thing to add to it, but it's SOO yummy!)  Fast food with all of its grease and carbs and meat wads just isn't something I eat much of anymore.

So, because of this, I am renouncing my citizenship to the Fast Food Nation. No longer will I hold thrall to the  sticky greasy fries and filler packed meat of a hamburger with no vegetables except the rehydrated onions and  pickles.  I will no longer be enthralled by potatoes that have been chopped and drowned in oils and salted to near unrecognizableness.  If I can help it, I will no longer stop off for foods that I know will clog my arteries and raise my blood pressure, and if I do, I will try to make healthier choices and find foods that may actually have vegetables in them and which aren't drowned in oils and salt.

That isn't saying that I am completely giving up on some foods.  KFC, for instance, is always a favorite of mine, but on the healthiness of fast food, isn't all that bad when paired with something like corn on the cob or even mashed potatoes.  I will occasionally enjoy a slushy or even a milkshake.  But I will make better choices.

In other, rather health related news, my blood tests all came back good. No cholesterol problems, no thyroid problems, my blood sugar is within normal limits.  I am healthy, though I am large.  More exercise (Today is my 1000th day of using Wii Fit, though I have large period of non-use, I started using it 1000 days ago and have been at least doing a body test daily for the last week and half or so), less fatty foods and lots of happy  thoughts will keep me living long and healthily.  Won't you all join me?

With love and lollipops,


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Episode 54: Starbucks Sunday

It is a beautiful day today.  The sun is shining, leaving golden streaks of light across the floors, there is soft music playing over the loud speakers and the woosh and swirl of coffee drinks being made fill the air as well as the chatter of my fellow diners.  My keyboard clicks pleasantly, and the cares of my week sort of melt away.  It is Starbucks Sunday, and I sit in my neighborhood Starbucks, typing up a new blog post and enjoying the companionship of AM.

It's funny sitting here, drinking my Grande Skinny Cafe Mocha (which we figured at 4 points) and eating my Noah's Everything Bagel Thin with Garlic Cream Cheese and Lox (7 points), for a satisfying, healthyish breakfast.  AM really fell into my Sunday morning routine pretty quickly, and nearly every other day of the week, is trying to feed me healthy foods like vegetables (gasp!) and fruits (swoon!) and even... even.. some Pho soup, which he makes pretty well! 

The last couple of weeks haven't been entirely good for my diet though.  My birthday came and went with two different chocolate cakes (I totally *don't* recommend the Chewy Fudge Bistro Cake from Safeway if you aren't prepared to die in a decadent chocolate heaven and want to eat the entire thing in one evening... which I did with the help of a few of my friends) and Valentine's Day as well as one of my students selling Girl Scout cookies.  Thin Mints are evil little minions of the diet devils!  AM finally hid the box of cookies for me on the top shelf of our kitchen storage in a place that I can't get to unless I use the foot stool. So, they are safe for now.  

So, we are rededicating ourselves to the idea of tracking points again, reading articles on the Weight Watchers website, and doing Wii Fit and walking to melt off the weight.  It is just as easy to buy and eat healthy food as it is to buy and eat junk food. There is a sign at the Weight Watchers that says "If you don't buy it, you can't eat it" and I was looking at that sign and thinking about how that is so true. If I don't buy the healthy foods, I can't eat healthy foods and get myself better.  If I don't buy the junk foods, I won't eat them because they won't be at my house.  I think that's a fairly good idea.  And with time, I will start to look at the vegetable aisle more than the cookie aisle; I will start to scope out the flavored waters instead of the Monsters; I will make a berry cobbler rather than a whole tray of cinnamon rolls.  I will be a healthier, happier person... and I will love myself more for it.

I have been eating a lot healthier than I was before, and amazingly enough, I am seeing the rewards.  My skin is clearer, my moods aren't fluctuating nearly as rapidly, and I can almost say that my bipolar disorder is a thing of the past.  I still get sad, and I still get happy, but everything seems so much more controllable. 

I am happy... and that is the best thing in the world.  Thank you to all of my friends and family for helping me to take care of myself.  Thanks most to AM who is helping me be a better person.  

Love, lollipops and hugs!


P.S. I do plan on posting more often.  Hopefully I can get back to nearly daily updates.  I have a lot to think about and.. Spring Break in 2 weeks! Woot woot!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Episode 53: Super Sunday

I am at a loss for words today.  My life has been great lately, and I have nothing to complain about and I haven't been following the WW lifestyle (though I did do some point counting at the beginning of the week), but I didn't do nearly enough and I am sort of glad that I have gone to a  biweekly weigh in.  I have enough motivation to eat right at home, right now.

Today is the Superbowl, and honestly, I couldn't really care.  The only team I care even vaguely about (since I'm not a huge football fan to begin with) got kicked out with the NFC Championship game.  So, I think I will spend my time grading during the Superbowl.. aah.. an old standby.  You will all let me know about the awesome commercials, right? So I can look them up on YouTube later on this week?

Actually, I  love SuperBowl Sunday just for the ads.  They give me a great lesson plan that my students really get into.. they let me show my students the way things are marketed and let them look at how media influences their lives. It's actually a pretty fun lesson plan, if I do it right.

I have been pretty exhausted lately, fighting off an ear infection which has evolved into a sinus infection of some sort.  I could totally go back to bed for a few more hours, eat some sub sandwiches and just sit back and enjoy life.  With the CAHSEE coming up, as well as two three day weekends, and the greatest holiday of all (also known as my birthday), February is going to be a busy month.  I can't afford to be sick!

Ok, so, I'm kind of rambly today, so I will get to the point of the post, which is this picture!  AM and I went to a great Dim Sum place called Fu Yuan (where Louis' Chinese food used to be for those who know Stockton) and we didn't have any Dim Sum! What the heck!  What we did have was a great recommendation from the waitress!  Just a tip, when you go someplace new, completely ignore the menu. Ask the wait staff what is the best food on the menu and order that. You get to try something new, and they usually have great recommendations, and will ask you about your own culinary tastes as well.  So, what you see in the picture is the shrimp dumpling soup, which was the first thing that she recommended. We got ours with Yau Choy (what our waitress called Chinese tender greens), but there were a few vegetable options for the soup.  The broth was tasty, and didn't need any extra salt, and the dumplings were perfectly soft and filled with delicious shrimp.

The next thing that she recommended was Pot Stickers.  She proudly told us that these were handmade in the restaurant, not frozen like many of the area places make, and when we tasted them.. we could taste the love!  These Pot Stickers were filled with tasty meat mixture, folded in a tender wrapper and offered with a very flavorful sauce. Altogether, they were wonderful!  

I did not get my usual Sweet and Sour Pork, but instead tried for fried wontons.  I originally was going to get the thin crispy fried wontons that come with the sweet and sour dipping sauce, but the waitress recommended cream cheese filled wontons. (I asked for half and half, but they couldn't do that, but they wer still yummy!)  Bad for the diet.. so tasty on the tongue!  (Those are the fried triangles you see in the picture.)  The filling was hot and I burned the roof of my mouth a bit, but they were incredibly tasty. Where I had kind of expected a sort of savory, perhaps a bit garlicy taste, the filling was sweet and almost honey tasting.  Once they cooled off a bit, the filling was complimented by the traditional sweet and sour sauce for a delicious dinner pastry.  It was almost desert like!  Very good food!

We finished our meal with something sweet. My companion had asked if they had any black bean cakes, which he described as sort of rice type patties with sweet black paste in the center.  Our waitress brought us sesame balls, which he said were similar, but sticky and round.  As I had had neither before, I didn't have anything to compare it to, but these little balls were delicious (and not shown in the photo).  They were covered in sesame seeds, which made them not sticky to the touch, but the insides were soft, sweet and sticky in the mouth.  The dollop of what I have to assume was black bean paste added an almost raisinlike flavor to it, but without that edge and tongue feel like you get with raisins. (I dislike raisins because they feel like the coat the tongue a bit and the fact that they are desiccated grapes always bothered me).  Tasty little dumplings, these were, and AM and I split the last one.  They were incredibly delicious. 

It was late afternoon when we went for lunch, but the restaurant was deserted, which was unfortunate, since the meals were delicious.  I wondered if there was more of a rush with the dinner hours later, or a lunch rush for the dim sum earlier.  We went at an odd time.  I would hate to think that this wonderful restaurant, with the very nice waitress, would eventually close because they don't get enough business. I didn't try the sweet and sour pork, but the food was excellent (we actually cleaned our plates at a Chinese food place!) and the service was wonderful (probably because we were the only ones there, but still!) 

Food: Totally Five Stars. It was yummy, and well prepared.  I loved it!
Service: Three stars.  She didn't bring us the Dim Sum menu until halfway through our meal, but she didn't push food on us and actually recommended that we not order more, since we had ordered enough for a full meal.  
Cleanliness: Four. They had lovely white tablecloths, but they also had plastic sheets on the table. Easier to clean, but not as classy. It was a nice place to eat though.
Final Rating: Four stars.  Food for 2 was about $29, with a tip, and the food was good quality and very tasty.  If we weren't on a culinary adventure, we would definitely be returning there again and again... if only just to try the Dim Sum!  

I hope your culinary adventures are just as fun! If you have a blog that you think I should read, or that I can put in my blog roll, please leave me a message with the address! I'm always looking for interesting things to add to my reader!

Love and lollipops,

Tory (geez, I'm rambly today) Lynn

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Episode 52: Hiatus Over!

This blog was meant to record my weight loss journey, and quickly became just a place for me to talk about my life, my divorce, new love and getting myself back in order.  The last three weeks or so have been crazy in the "not caring about what I eat or taking care of myself at all" end, but food has definitely taken center stage in the last few weeks.  Such delicious, wonderful food.

So, on the 7th, I picked up AM from SFO and really, we have been eating up a storm ever since he landed! Bubba Gump's, Dante's Pizza, Ghirardelli (for breakfast on a Sunday morning.. mmm)... well... let's say they haven't been good for my waistline.  In the last two weeks, I have gained almost 6 pounds.  Ugh... time to get back to writing down everything I eat and start looking at the way that I eat.  I guess you can't live like a teenager forever.

It's not that eating right when I'm with someone is difficult.  I can make healthy meals and share them.  I have kind of taken to ordering great meals, and sharing them with someone now.  The problem is that I am not keeping track of what I am eating, and I am not really ordering the lowest point food on the menu.  I have been eating a lot of high calorie foods that just aren't good for me.

On the other hand, I have also been discovering a new love for some foods I would have never thought to try before.  One night we tried Vietnamese food, specifically a place called "Pho Lucky" which has wonderful noodle soup and some really great sweet and sour pork. I probably didn't need the sweet and sour pork, but every time I go to any place with Asian cuisine, I have to order sweet and sour pork. It is the touchstone I use to judge.  They have really awesome sweet and sour pork. The batter is light and fluffy and the sauce isn't drowning the pork, but rather lightly poured on so that you can try the pork without any sauce as well.  It's awesome!

Pho has been the only cuisine I have really discovered that I haven't tried yet, but we do plan on having different cuisines that are new to me, including Thai, Indian, and Japanese hibachi, and a few others that I can't really think of right now.

So, I am starting a new culinary exploration, but I am also going to try and stick to the diet plan, so if we go out, it will only be once a week.  We will try new foods, old foods and foods we enjoy.  I want to find healthy meals at new places, but also try some of the full fat stuff as well, so this is what I plan.  I am planning on documenting our culinary journeys in this blog, as well as keeping it full of my thoughts on weight loss and life and everything.  When we go out (and it should be limited to maybe once a week instead of once a day), I will take a picture of both of our meals and write a review of how they taste. (AM is ok with me stealing a few bites from his plate for a good cause) and write a blog of the best food places in California.  We plan on going to San Francisco about once a month (definitely for my birthday this year, if anybody wants to hang out), and out to dinner once a week and to Noah's and Starbucks every Sunday morning where we hang out and have bagels, coffee and spend an hour or so writing (until my laptop battery dies).  Altogether, I am having a pretty good existence.  Now.. I need to have a good existence with some healthy food thrown in as well.

I will definitely update this blog at least once a week, if not more often.  For now, know that I am happy, I am safe, I am well nagged, and I am loved.  Life couldn't be better than this. Well, it could if I was about 150 pound lighter and without an ear infection, but those will all pass away into memory and I will be happy, sexy and so blissful they will see me glowing from the Empire State building.

Love and hugs and happy nibbles to all!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Episode 51: Ugh!

Holidays are over!  Officially. I'm back at work, life is... going... and I have nearly finished unpacking what I'm going to unpack for now.  It's nice to finally be in a place of my own, but it's also very hard to be alone in a place of my own.  Fortunately... I have things keeping me from feeling TOO lonely. (Oh, and I started to watch "How I Met Your Mother".  Cute show!

So.. yeah.. the Holidays are over, which means that it is time for me to stop eating like an idiot.  I admit, during the move, I kind of became addicted to fast food, as I couldn't really find much of my dishware.  Now, most of it unpacked (I have about 2 boxes of kitchen stuff left to unpack) and then I'm done with that. All of my cooking gear is out.  Not living with a dishwasher is an interesting thing, but it means that I can do dishes and have them put away in 20 minutes instead of the 2 hour dishwashing cycle.  So... yay!

Holidays being over means that I  also need to start getting back into my routines. I need to start going for walks again, need to start doing yoga again (I got to day 12, and stalled for 2 weeks. I think I'm going to start over) and start just moving around more.  My Wii is for more than just watching Netflix! :)  I have Wii Sports (who doesn't?) and Wii Fit Plus.. and both of those are going in my "let's have fun and not just sit around and do nothing in your new apartment" regime.

Now, I'm not saying that any of these is a resolution.  I don't do that.. I don't make resolutions, especially when it comes to life changing things because resolutions NEVER work!  I have made many many resolutions in the past and I have resolved to make myself better looking, take better care of myself (and those around me) and be a better teacher. Each year, I will do pretty well, until the middle of January and then I fall back on old stupid habits.  Well NOT THIS YEAR!!

I am not resolving to lose weight. I am not resolving to cook better. I am not resolving to work out more. I am just going to do it, and make myself a better lifestyle than the one I had, because the one I had had me dying at an early age of some sort of heart or lung condition.

Oh, while I'm talking about food.. and other great stuff.. Check out what I got for Christmas!  Now, when I want pie, it will take me 10 minutes, and I won't have the *entire* pie sitting there waiting for me to eat it... I can make tiny little mini pies of low point goodness. Yay for healthy little pies!

Anyway.. work beckons. I hope you all have a wonderful everything, and I promise to post here more often.  I don't resolve to.. I just will!

Hugs and love...


Weighing in on: Division in our country

 I know that I started this as a weight loss/health blog, but I think it's just going to become my blog. Just me and my random-ass thoug...