Things I Like


Couch to 5K

Well, I’ve decided to dabble back into running again.  I was thinking about how much running I used to do before I hurt my back and then I just struggled with it too much for it to be enjoyable. Not that running itself was ever really all that enjoyable, but I loved how I felt after.


So, cueing on the purchase of my new shoes last weekend, I am going to start the couch to 5K and see what happens this time.

Week 1 started today and boy, it sure feels like the beginning again! I was talking to John about how I used to run for an hour straight back in  the day and that seems almost unreal. Of course, I chose to start on a Thursday, which makes my week whonky, but whatever.  I will plan on Tues, Thurs and either Sat/Sun for the runs.

This is the first week:

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. Then 5 minute cool down (30 minutes total).

We’ll see how it goes. It may not last. I have to listen to my leg on that, but it seems that periodically I get the urge to try  again. It also feels good to change something up until the outdoor biking season comes (come on biking!!).   

What I’m Reading

Book update! I have a goal of 30 books this year. These are the ones I’ve completed so far.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George


The premise of this book is unique. Jean Perdu is a bookseller who owns a floating bookstore in Paris. It is called the Literary Apothecary and he ‘treats’ his customers with prescriptions of books based on their troubles.  He has spent 20 years doing this, hiding from his own grief over a lost lost and finding an unread letter by her when she left him. This letter sends him on sort of a reawakening of his feelings by sailing his book barge down the Seine and meeting many different people on the way to answer the letter.  There are a lot of great quoteable moments in the book. I loved how the book started, but I did start to skim a little about 3/4 of the way through because it started to seem repetitive, but the book was satisfying in the end. It was really about the complex relationships between people and learning to let yourself feel emotions.


The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng


The basis of this book is about gardening, so of course you know I was all over that.  The story takes place in 1949 Malaya. The main character, Yun Ling, is a retired judge who was held in a Japanese prisoner camp  as a young girl along with her sister. She was the only survivor from the camp and wanted to build a garden in her sister’s honor. She became the apprentice of a Japanese master gardener, Arimoto. Fast forward to 1949 after her judge career prosecuting Japanese war criminals and she has returned to the master’s gardens after learning she is ill. Then she writes her memories down and we learn what happened in the camp and how she survived and what secrets it held. This was definitely a good book. Yun Lin is full of anger and a lot of the book is her coming to terms with this.  This was a good book. Hard to read at times, but the writing was really beautiful. I loved the imagery the author created.


The Club Dumas – Arturo Perez-Revert


When I started reading this book, I didn’t realize that it was the basis for the movie The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp, which we had seen. The interesting thing is that the movie focused on the smaller story in the book. The book was much more interesting than the movie.  If you love old books and book history, this has all of that. Lucas Corso is sort of a mercenary who deals in antique books and authenticating them. He is drawn into finding and matching copies of an ancient book and its possible connection with an unknown manuscript by Alexandre Dumas, while at the same time scenes play out that mirror The Three Musketeers with a lot of intrigue and all that. It’s quite the mystery with a lot of red herrings in there and the ending is somewhat different than the movie, and I’ll just leave that there.



Circling the Sun by Paula McClain


I was waiting and waiting for this book to become available at the library. It’s the second book by McClain, the first being The Paris Wife, which I enjoyed very much. This time she writes about the early life of Beryl Markham. Beryl was a woman way ahead of her time. She was English born, but raised by her father in Africa and spent most of her life there. She became the first woman to hold a training license for race horses and the first woman pilot to cross the Atlantic. The book covers the time from her early childhood through the 1930s or so. It was a very engaging book, although I think the problem lies in that Beryl herself wrote her own autobiography called West with the Night, which is highly praised as fantastic writing (and on my wait list). So, this book is a fictionalized telling of the same story, but with more focus on the relationship she had with Denis Hatton.  In my mind, Beryl didn’t seem the sort to be mooning over a man. She was much more forward and independent. Her life was marked with a lot of scandal because she did what she wanted. I admire a really strong woman who will buck convention. This was a good read, especially if you don’t know anything about Beryl Markham.


**Disclaimer, Amazon links are my affiliate links.

New kicks and the superbowl!

We got some long overdue shopping done this weekend. We stopped for lunch on Saturday at Iron Roost. This place is all about the waffle. They use waffles as bread for sweet and savory.  I was in the mood for something kind of Mardi Gras and when I saw the bananas foster waffles on the menu, that was my choice! We started with local roasted coffee:


My lunch:


This was delicious! Pretty decadent, too. I really didn’t eat much for the rest of the day. It was suprisingly filling. Or maybe it was in combination with the 2 giant cups of coffee :D

We hit up the outlet malls after that. I desperately needed some new walking shoes. I am going to show my shame here and you can see the bottom of my shoes. I have needed a new pair for probably a year.


I only use those on the treadmill and have other shoes for walking downtown in, but I needed fresh ones of those as well.  Easy Spirit had a BOGO sale, so I got 2 pairs.  It’s very, very hard for me to part from my money on new stuff. Old things that need work? Sold! New stuff for myself? I hem and haw. Anyway, I got a pair for walking/jogging and then an every day  pair.


I love Easy Spirit. The toebox is nice and wide and the shoe widths come in wide as well, which I need for most shoes.

On to the best part of the weekend!

We hosted the Superbowl party. True fan, right here!


We had a mix of Mardi Gras items and we wore beads, since it was a combo party :D


Buffalo chicken dip, red beans and rice, fruit, crackers and bread pudding:


Praline cookies:


Definitely not a 1500 calorie day LOL!

The game was great! Nobody thought the Broncos were going to win. Honestly, I wasn’t sure they could do it, but I thought if the defense could get to Cam Newton, it would rattle him and they would have a chance.  I did a lot of yelling, I must say. In fact, my throat is a bit scratchy :D

Now we are champions!!


Now maybe Peyton will ride off into and orange and blue sunset! Storybook ending, just like John Elway.



A day’s eats

I thought I would get back to being more accountable on the blog with food and exercise, not every day, but more than I have been. So here is today. My general goal is around 1500 calories per day give or take. 

Breakfast was oatbran cooked with a mashed banana, egg whites and topped with 1 tbsp of Nutella. 


With my coffee, 480 calories.  A lot of times, I have almond milk in my coffee, but decided to go back to milk instead. This meant having less of the topping on the oatbran to keep the calories the same. I usually have about a cup of milk divided between my 3 cups of coffee.

Interestingly enough, this breakfast lasted me until lunch. Was it the milk?? Curious.

Speaking of lunch, that was 2% Fage with apple/cranbery topping:


310 calories

I am really busy at work now. This new account I am on is busy. We have to work on the payment for it so I get compensated enough. They sort of threw a number in the air to the client with room to wiggle, and we’re going to have to wiggle :D The days go by really fast, now.

Afternoon snack – latte with a little honey drizzle and some dried pineapple (measured half serving)



180 calories.

Dinner was pretty standard. 5 oz potato with a wedge of laughing cow cheese and topped with BBQ chicken. Plus broccoli for  a change ;)



About 415 calories.

I took all the pictures on my phone. I really notice a different between the phone and my Rebel. I used to think my phone took great pictures, which it does, but the camera is such a step up. Lori, remember to use your camera for these pictures…

Exercise for today was a 25 minute walk and some strength training:

  • Squats – 3 sets of 10
  • Dumbbell rows – 3 sets of 10
  • Stiff-legged deadlift – 3 sets of 10
  • Dumbbell shoulder press – 3 sets of 10
  • Reverse fly – 3 sets of 10
  • Dumbbell chest press – 3 sets of 10
  • Crunches – 3 sets of 15

That leaves me about 100 calories to have a snack with tonight at the coffee shop. Likely a decaf drink and a few bites of something John gets. We have a library/coffee date tonight. :D

Root canal and dutch treats!

Monday was D-day on the root canal. Having had 2 crowns and a painful experience with one of them, I guess it was understandable that I had anxiety about  a full-blown root canal. 

I double checked with the dentist to make sure I needed one because after my tooth broke, it felt a lot better. He looked at the x-rays and pointed out the dark shadow in the root area, which was a sign of problems, and thought it was best to do the root canal, but it was up to me. I figured it would be best. I have to say my dentist was great! He does 2-3 root canals a day, so it’s old hat to him and his assistant. They got my  gums numb before the injections and left me alone. So, I had to take a picture, right?


The shots didn’t hurt and I felt no pain at all. Once he got into the root and made sure there was no pain, I was given some noise canceling headphones and a choice of music (classical guitar for me) and then I was all set. The root was necrotic inside, so it definitely was a good choice to get it done and soon.  I go back in 2 weeks to start the process with the crown.

I got a package in the mail from Fran with Dutch treats in it after we got back from the dentist! That was nice to receive after the root canal :


These are typical Dutch treats.  Very different from US snacks! One is a licorice mix of sweet and sweet/salty licorice. That was a little different. I’m not a big fan of anise. I am curious to see what my nieces think of these when I see them this weekend. They like pretty much any candy. The other candy was a white peppermint, which I love. I love mint anyway and this hits the spot.  Thanks Fran!

I didn’t do any exercise yesterday, but a day off never hurts. Today I was back on the treadmill and with my soft diet.  I got some of these to drink and they are pretty good:


These are sweetened with stevia. I cannot stand the bitter taste of Splenda, but stevia is less bitter to me.  These were on the sweet side and I like the Cappucino flavor the best.  Normally I eat a protein bar mid morning, so this was good in place of that. I can chew on the one side of my mouth, but I am so tired of one-sided chewing since I broke the darn tooth 2 weeks ago.  First world problems.



Egg sandwich. I got the potato Arnold Sandwich thins. Again, the only variety that doesn’t have Splenda in it. Seriously, why is it in every single darn thing??  I know I’m an outlier at the bitter taste, but goodness me. 

On another happy, happy note – we just booked our flights for our 20th anniversary trip this fall. We are going to Ireland!  We are so excited. We’ve been collecting mileage points and finally got the tickets yesterday.  Now to plan the itinerary. We are flying in to Shannon and staying mostly in the southwest part of the island with a day trip to Dublin. This will be a long awaited vacation, that’s for sure.

I think this gives me kind of a goal to work on feeling great when we go abroad. I want to be in the best shape that I can be in by that point. Keeping the trip in mind will keep me from reaching for that second cookie or handful of nuts. :D


Finished Jenny Lind Trunk!

I finally got the Jenny Lind trunk done! I got this trunk last April and had done another one to sell and then just set it aside for a while because there was just so much stuff going on. Since I have no plans to sell this one, I took my time :D

I am going to say right off the bat this is my favoritest trunk so far!  I love everything about it. The size is perfect, the shape is unique. The style has the history that goes with it. It’s also the oldest trunk I have worked on – from the 1850s.  That’s some serious age.

Back story: I got this trunk from a gentleman who used to restore trunks, but it has gotten too hard for him as he has gotten older, so he was selling off his stock. I asked if he had a Jenny Lind on an off chance, and it turns out he did! He had already started the restoration process on it, but then you can see the trunk sat in the elements or somewhere after most of the canvas had been removed. This was the day I brought it home:


Really, really dirty. The hinges are there, but they weren’t attached to the bottom half of the trunk. That actually made it easier to work on.

jenny lind

Whenever you see a trunk that has been refurbished and it is bare wood, just know that the trunk maker never intended that wood to see the light of day. Trunk boxes were always covered in something, whether that was canvas, leather or metal. It’s just too hard to try to replace a cloth covering without taking the entire trunk apart and putting it back together. It would have been neat to do that, but so difficult and this trunk is actually quite valuable, so I didn’t want to risk destroying it LOL! Plus I kind of like the stained wood. 

I spent a lot of time just cleaning it up. Getting the rest of the canvas off of it, scrubbing and cleaning it.  150+ years of dirt and grime. The metal straps are actually copper – which was a bonus. I have a thing for copper, so that got me excited! I used sandpaper and brasso to shine it up as much as I could.


I hand sanded all the wood down, but still couldn’t quite get the grayish color out. I even tried deck cleaner, which helped, but at 150+ years old, I guess it will never look new. Now the wood was all dry and thirsty. I put some wood conditioner on it and stained it. Originally, my thought was to just polyurethane the trunk, but because of the splotchy color of the wood, I decided to go with a dark stain. The color is Minwax bombay mahogany.  I love that color. It’s deep and rich with a reddish tint to it. Kind of like mahogany :D

I didn’t add much new to this trunk. I could have replaced more of the missing buttons and such, but I couldn’t really match them as the ones on this trunk are copper and the replacements I can get would be brass. I didn’t want that to stick out. I bought most of my parts from Brettuns Village. I bought new leather handles appropriate to the Jenny Lind style and a lid lifter. I finally finished it all Saturday afternoon.


The handles:


All lined inside. You can see the lid stay on the right so you can keep the trunk open without the lid falling down or back. Pretty handy!


I am going to get a little dark brown piping to go around the seams of the fabric in the trunk to hide those a little better. The fabric is in place with tiny tacks and spray adhesive.


You never know exactly how these are going to turn out. I really do love this one, though. At first I wasn’t sure about the dark color, but I think it brings out the copper.


If only I could do this for a living.  :D  Now to finish another trunk to make some money LOL!

Hello Friday!

I am so glad to have reached Friday! It’s been a brain tiring week. New accounts are hard to learn and work wipes out my thinking capacity by the end of the day as it is LOL.  This week was looooong.  

I thought I would share a couple of bird photos just to get something up here. :)  Winter time brings out new birds or the birds change colors.




Of course, this is the female and she is always this color. She has been at the feeder every day in the dawn light and in the evening lately.



This was taken from our second floor window with my zoom, so it’s not the best. The goldfinches lose that bright yellow color over the winter. You almost don’t recognize them but for the black and white wing bands.

New for the fall and winter is the junco. I hope you can see him in this picture. Gray body and white tummy:


They are usually ground feeders as well. 

I actually have been pouring over my flower catalogs and have been taking advantage of sales. Who doesn’t love a 50% off sale??  So, I will definitely have stuff ready to plant in the spring!  Helen sent this to my FB page the other day and it pretty much sums it up.


:D :D

I still have all of February to shop Bluestone as well. They do a 50% off sale each week on different plants, so I figure I will find something I like!  A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to get through the winter, right?

Now we are supposed to go out and see a jazz group play tonight. The show starts at 9 pm. Eeek!  I’m usually ready to go home by that time. Wish me luck :D

Work and more squirrels.

It’s been busy around here this week. I got trained on a new account yesterday. The nice thing was, we actually went on site for the training down to Saratoga. I so rarely leave the house for my job. Like once a year tops. There are just 2 of us on the new account. It’s nice that they think of me when they need someone. Once in a while I feel appreciated there LOL!  All the new software got set up and we are ready to go tomorrow. That is like warp speed compared to how things usually go with my company, so hopefully that’s a good sign :D  It will mean more work at the very least, which is great.

I am not sure what to do with the second job that I picked up. I only do that when my regular job is slow, which it has been. The secondary job has been picking up as well. It all comes at once, doesn’t it? We’ll just have to see what happens.

I’ve also got a soap order to make for one of my wholesale customers. She always gets in touch with me out of the blue, probably because I make time for her whenever she does.  She just seems to need it when I start to get busy with other things. Or maybe it just seems that way. So yeah, it got busy round these parts!

More squirrel shenanigans going on. I don’t know if this is the same squirrel, but probably. He was back in the window again today:


I wanted to see how close I could get, so I moved slow and pressed my lens right up against the glass. No zoom, I was this close:


Beady eyes. At this point he started sort of chirping and almost growling. It was funny and that got Pixie all kinds of excited. Then I banged on the glass to scare him away.  He’s kind of cute, but he’s not supposed to be eating this seed!

We finally got the wallpaper off the hallway and stairwell and got the walls all painted! Now just the window trim and baseboard need to get done. It takes a while doing it in dribs and drabs. Guess that is why people hire that stuff out :)

I am getting close to finishing the Jenny Lind trunk, too. I am so pleased with how it is looking! This is the fabric I am going to line it with:


I thought it was fun for what once was a traveling trunk.  All that is left is putting on the handles and doing the lining.

We need to catch up on a couple shows. We still have a Downton Abbey episode and the new X-files to watch! Are you watching either of these?

Broccoli cheddar soup and bring on the Superbowl!!!

Cold weather calls for some warm and creamy soup! I have been wanting to try a broccoli soup for a while. John doesn’t like broccoli, so I knew I would be eating this all by myself, but that’s okay!

Panera style Broccoli Cheddar soup

Based on the recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4  onion minced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1?2 lb broccoli florets chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon of worchestershire sauce
  • 1?4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 6 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper

Saute the onion in the 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan. Add the rest of the butter, let it melt and then stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook for about 2 minutes to remove the flour taste. **Tip: Warm up your broth in the microwave before adding it to the flour/butter mixture. This will keep it from clumping up if it is cold.** Gradually whisk in the broth and bring to a simmer. Then add in the milk, the broccoli, the nutmeg and worchestershire sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes. 

Check for salt and pepper seasoning. You can choose to puree some of the soup if you want. I used a stick blender since I like smooth soups. Keeping the heat low, stir in the cheese until melted. Lower heat will keep the cheese from getting grainy.

Then serve!


This is really good!


I was eating this while watching the Broncos vs Patriots game. Holy crow – what a game that was! The Broncos were underdogs by everyone, include the Vegas odds, but somehow both the offense and defense played their hearts out! John was the calm one and I was ready to pass out :D


I don’t know what the superbowl itself will bring, but hopefully it will be exciting and way better than when they played the Seahawks :P

Someone who could care less about all our excitement around and yelling?


Whew. Now to wait 2 weeks for all the hype. You know we usually have a Mardi Gras party the Sunday before Mardi Gras, and this year that falls on Superbowl Sunday. We might have to have a Mardi Gras themed party!

What I’m eating

So, since I shared the bulletproof coffee experiment the other day, here are the solid foods I’m eating lately :D

I had another tooth mishap, though. On Monday, I had a couple pita chips and I felt something hard in my mouth. The tooth that I need the root canal on broke off in my mouth! It had a large filling in it anyway and I knew the tooth was cracked. I lost about 1/4 of the tooth right to the filling. It doesn’t hurt, thank goodness, but I can’t really have anything done to it until I get the root canal done since I will need a crown anyway. So frustrating.  The earliest they can get me in is February 1st, so as long as it doesn’t hurt, I just have to deal with it. It’s the outside corner, so it does rub a little on my cheek, but if it gets too bad, I can go in and the dentist will file it down for me.  Not to mention, that ups the cost on the root canal because instead of the filling type material we were going to go with, it has to be a full blown crown. Appropriate for the queen I am, but still… 

Needless to say, I getting tired of chewing on one side of my mouth. I can eat soft stuff on the other side, but I hate getting all that food caught in there. I’ll be glad to get this whole thing taken care of.

On to some food! Mostly dinners because my breakfast and lunches are the same pretty much. I did get a hankering for egg salad. We keep a lot of eggs in the house, but I always forget to hardboil them and then lunch comes around and that idea goes out the window. When we went grocery shopping, I actually broke down and bought some of Eggland’s best hardboiled eggs. They come in a bag and are prepeeled. Lazy, but actually pretty convient. Now I have had egg salad for 2 lunches this week.


Those right there are the most expensive pita chips on the planet, people. To the tune of $700. Damn pita chips.

I’ve been trying to change up dinner time to be more exciting or at least just different than the ruts I have been in.

There was salmon Monday:


The side is one of those Steamfresh bags with wild rice, carrots, peas and corn. It has no sauce or anything like that. It’s quite good, really.

The next night I used the rest of that side and added 4 ounces of cooked, chopped chicken breast and a couple tablespoons of triple ginger teriyaki sauce and sauteed it up:


Again, really good. I need to remember that one.

Last night John and I made homemade mac and cheese from Alton Brown’s recipe. This is our go-to pasta meal. It’s easy, really good and gives us a few meals of food.


Tonight I brought back an oldie. Salad greens topped with BBQ chicken and feta cheese. It sounds like a strange combo, but it tastes really good. 


I like slivered almonds on this, but we don’t have any. I was craving something crunchy, so the side of potato chips there. That goes with salad, right?

We do have some chocolate in the house now. 



Sometimes I struggle with these. It’s easy to eat a lot of them. I actually do better with mint chocolate because I don’t tend to overeat that because of the strong flavor. This was John’s choice to get, but I’ll partake in them.

I hope to do some more recipes with the spiralizer. We don’t meal plan really well. It just doesn’t interest me all that much, although I know it certainly would be a good thing to do. It’s a little harder now with John vegetarian and me only sometimes vegetarian. We end up cooking our own main dishes unless it is something we eat together.

It’s nice to notice that we are eating pretty much all our meals at the table, too! That was a change that we made when we moved to Radiance Manor over a year ago and it has stuck about 98% of the time.