Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grow

I have a few extremely teensy sprouts coming up in my herb planter! They've been under the grow bulb in our living room, and there's a chance of frost tonight and cool weather today and tomorrow, but Saturday and Sunday should be in the 80's (!!!) so they're going outside for the weekend! I should have some pictures by Sunday. I'm so excited!!

I still haven't been able to replace my mysteriously empty seed packet of Genovese Basil, so hopefully I'll stop by HG tomorrow so I can get those suckers planted in time to benefit from this weekend's super weather.

Now that I'm in Bell Choir through the end of the season, you should all come see me and my mom play at TLC on May 3. We are doing both the 8:15 and 11:00 services, communion music plus one piece with the piano that is really exciting and peppy! Should be a good time. Except for the part where we have to be there at 7:30, but you don't have to be there nearly that early to see us, so no excuses.

I'm feeling so motivated today that I cleaned my whole desk at work in addition to getting a bunch of work done already. I wish I could be at home today and apply all this energy to cleaning and packing! Or better yet, actually in my new house so I could apply it to de-wallpapering and painting.

I think I might get some non-pressure-treated scrap wood and make my herb garden a raised garden. Thoughts?

I also got another great idea from our visit to Ikea: They had for sale a live fern in a deep clear glass, filled with layers of stone and sand and gravel and peat and dirt. The fern was still under the rim of the vase, so the whole thing created a really neat layered visual that would make a great decoration, but since it was all inside the glass it was still very clean looking, with the shades of brown and textures of all the layers and the burst of green on top. I was scoping out similar big glass vases at Michael's the other day, so this summer I'm going to make my own. I'm thinking centerpiece for the dining room table, to match the green paint and bring in some earthy tones. Think terrarium without the lid.

Yay for the nice weather to come this weekend! I can't wait. Maybe I can get a little tan going on my dreadfully white toes so they look better in these cute sandals. If the diet keeps going as well as it is so far, I might even need to be tan all over come Summer! Here's hoping.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Already a busy weekend

Last week, I saw birds on our feeder for the first time! Bright and beautiful Goldfinches:

Then this morning, there were more! Actually probably the same pair:


Last night, before stopping by Highland Gardens to get the makings of an herb garden, we drove past the house to see if anything new was growing. The Bradford Pear tree is now in full bloom, proving that it is, in fact, a Bradford Pear like my mom guessed!


Then we got the herb supplies. Instead of a pre-packaged kit for sprouting seeds, we figured out it was about the same price to buy our own 36 little seedling pellets, planters, tray, and greenhouse lid. Plus three kinds of Basil seeds, Chives, Dill, Coriander/Cilantro, and Parsley, total was about $25! I decided to only plant the Genovese and Sweet basil, and leave the Lemon basil for planting in June because the packet said it didn't transplant well or grow well inside...but then I couldn't plant the Genovese basil because the seed packet was empty! So I'll plant those once I have a chance to go back and get a good pack.

Hopefully in a week or two I'll have little sprouts to photograph!

Once we move, I'll dig a garden out back ASAP and plant all the yumminess in the sunniest spot in our yard, and they'll help spice up lots of CSA veggies all summer long! It will feel great to be a locavore.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Herb garden

Lemon Cornmeal Cake is a dessert you'll definitely want to try over at my recipe blog!

I also found time to sign on to goodreads for once, and reviewed Brisingr. If this book is still popular with young readers when my kids are old enough, I really hope they read and appreciate Tolkein and Lewis and a few other young adult fantasy writers first so that when they read Paolini's books they can appreciate how not-that-great they are and move on to re-reading Harry Potter. If you look at Brisingr's page on Goodreads.com, take a look at some of the negative reviews - they're pretty great.

Super nice weather forecast for this weekend, so I think I'm going to spend some time on Saturday with a trip to Lowe's for a seed sprouting kit and a bunch of herb seeds. Then I'll be all ready to go when we move into our new house at the end of May, with lots of little seedlings to plant so we have lots of herbs to complement all the veggies we'll be getting from our CSA subscription! I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

Week One of my new measured diet is going very well. I felt a little sad at the skimpy 8 oz of Chiang Mer (made with Tilapia this time) that didn't halfway fill my bowl on Wednesday evening, but as soon as I walked away and sat down to start eating, I was fine...plus, I've already enjoyed the leftovers once, and because I ate so much less on Wednesday I still get to enjoy it twice more!

Herbs for my seedlings:
Basil (two or three varieties!)
Rosemary
Thyme
Parsley
Dill
Cilantro
Chives
Fennel

4 to 6 weeks seems to be the recommended time for seedlings to grow before planting, so if I do it tomorrow it will correspond perfectly with our first weekend in our new home!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New food plan

Yesterday I got an idea, and I felt so good about it that I had the drive to implement it last night, and I now have stashed in the fridge in the break room 2 meals plus 1 snack for each day this week.

My idea is to start using the nice little digital kitchen scale I registered for before our wedding. It's been sitting on our sideboard, rarely used, for over 18 months now. Last night I gave it a good workout, and it did a great job.

I've tried counting calories, and from that experience I know that I'd never stick with the Weight Watchers points thing either, if I ever felt tempted to try it. It was just way too much hassle to figure out what everything I ate contained, and from there to decide how much of it I could/should eat.

Then on a few occasions, mainly after New Years and right before summer, I've told myself that I can eat all the foods I love, but just eat less of them. Well, this doesn't work for me either, because it's just too vague: I need a hard, bright line to use, but one that's easy to see and stick with.

Yesterday I decided that bright line would be the weight of my meals. Last night, I first took a trip to Giant for some lean protein snacks and a pack of the Ziplock 8 oz plastic containers. At home, I measured and weighed to create containers of breakfast and lunch for Tuesday-Friday this week, and now they're all at work with me, lined up in the fridge and ready to grab. Each meal is 8 oz of food, all of it food I love. I also have supplies for various high-protein, low-fat afternoon snacks weighing in at 4 oz each, and here I'm trying some new things, such as 1% cottage cheese to which I will add a scoop of fat-free salsa, and 1-oz packs of part-skim string cheese.

Breakfast is a 1/2 cup scoop of oatmeal, a scant handful of walnuts, a scoop of the blueberry sauce left over from a cake I made this weekend (it's just blueberries, brown sugar, and lemon juice), and then I top that off with skim milk until I hit 8 oz. The sugar in the blueberry sauce is all the sweetner I need, and it's so delicious that I plan to make more of the sauce, sans cake, just to use on my oatmeal.

Lunch this week is leftover pork curry over rice for two days, and for the other two days an egg salad sandwich piled high with broccosprouts, my new favorite sandwich topper in the known universe. The lunch containers only weigh in at 6 oz, so I'll probably add a string cheese each day for a total of 7 oz.

Snacks are all pre-packaged, so I can decide what I want each afternoon and still know exactly how much I'm eating. Cottage cheese with salsa or plain, some fat-free Greek yogurt (I got one peach and one vanilla to try), and tonight I plan to make some fat free dip out of 3 oz fat free plain Greek yogurt plus 1 oz of fat free sour cream, add some garlic and pepper, and dip in the baby cucumbers I bought to make something like a fat free, high protein tzatziki.

For dinners I plan to cook as usual, whatever food we want to make, no restrictions (altho we are going to start eating leaner meat and more fish!), but then instead of loading up my plate or bowl with as much food as it can hold and thus ending up with no leftovers, I'll use the handy scale again to make sure I don't take more than 8 oz. Then if I am really hungry for seconds, or if I want dessert, I can have up to another 4 oz.

In addition to all that, which I'm going to follow 100%, I have two other tricks I'm going to try: I'm going to take time to eat my meal or snack, trying to stretch it over a half hour if possible; and I'm going to try to not drink during meals, and wait for another half hour after I'm done eating before I have anything to drink. That last part is going to be hard for me, because I've been used to drinking as I eat for my entire life, but I've been looking up information about it, and it seems to be better to drink before a meal and not during. I might not stick with that part, but we'll see; maybe I'll get used to it pretty easily.

I feel so differently about this plan than about any other diet-like plans I've had before. I literally never stick with anything for more than a day or two, but I think it's been because it was too much hassle, too hard to follow, or too vague. I don't feel nervous or hesitant or annoyed or hassled at all by this plan - I just feel really relieved that I don't have to think about what I'm eating for the rest of the week, I don't have to fool around trying to figure out what to eat in the mornings or what to take for lunches, and I don't have to worry about feeling guilty when I don't have time to pack my lunch and I end up eating in the cafeteria.

Instead of having a small idea like trying to make myself eat yogurt for lunch every day, which leaves me unsatisfied and craving more food, this time I have an entire plan and all the tools to do it - a variety of food and snacks, reuseable containers in the right sizes, a kitchen scale, and regular, normal food that I like to eat.

I weighed myself last night, and now I'm going to follow the plan for at least 2 full weeks before I weigh myself again. I hope that after 2 weeks of never pigging out, I will have lost a few pounds, and that will be more than enough reward to encourage me to keep doing this indefinitely. Already just the feeling of not having to think about what I'm eating during the day, not feeling guilty, and knowing that I'll be efficiently using all my leftovers and saving money by packing all my food, makes me feel so great that I have no desire to stray at all.

Goals:
- Lose weight
- Waste less food
- Save money
- Eat more protein
- Eat less fat
- Eat more fruits & veggies

Here's hoping I've finally come up with a plan that will work for me!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Back

I totally forgot to do anything on facebook yesterday, which I guess means my giving it up for lent really served its purpose. And I didn't twitter all day either, except to say "I'm back!"

Easter was fun, with probably my favorite parts being singing the Halleluja Chorus (always makes me cry a little, in a good way), and getting to play in the bell choir. When I get subbed in at the last minute before a concert, I get all the reward of a couple of challenging rehearsals and then a performance, with none of the bad feelings associated with going to practice every single week. When I was in bell choir for real, it meant two nights a week at church, and it was just too much for me.

Saturday since it was raining, I was going to make us work on the basement and getting everything organized and packed down there, but was easily swayed by Paul when he suggested going to Ikea instead. We had so much fun! We didn't spend any money, we found a couch we both really love that we think will be perfect for our new living room, we got tons of other ideas, and the icing on the cake: Paul remembered a bunch of leftover hardware from our kitchen cabinets, which he brought along to return, so not only did we not buy anything but we walked out with a nice chunk of store credit! If we buy the couch we want, it equates to about a 13% discount on the couch!

When we got home Saturday, I got bitten by the domestic bug and proceeded to bake a cake I've been wanting to try (Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze and Crushed Blueberry Sauce - Paul loved it even more than I did), and also hardboiled and colored the 10 eggs we had left in our fridge. Of course, then I basically forgot about the eggs, and have yet to eat one. I might just make egg salad out of them, otherwise I'm afraid I'll never use them.

I also need to post pictures of my getting-close-to-finished first-ever sweater. Last night I finished the second sleeve and attached both sleeves to the body in-the-round, so now I'm ready to do the raglan shaping decrease rounds, then the neckline, then sew up the few small seems and fix a couple of holes and it's done! Now I just need to find a toddler to wear it. Anyone have a toddler who would fit into a sweater with a 26" chest size?

Next up: Kelly's baby sweater, interspersed with as many wool soakers as I can finish.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

More proof that I love Margaritas and Camp Nawakwa

I still don't remember it, but Tom R and, I assume, Marilyn D have managed to dig up the "contract" Marilyn told me existed. I didn't believe her, and I still don't remember it, but that is definitely my signature, so it must be true...I whited out my last name for purposes of internet posting. Tom posted this on facebook earlier this week, but since it's still Lent I had to have Paul e-mail me a copy so I could see it:


Meredith will live in a hole in Swamp for FCI [signed] Meredith [dated] 11/10/2008 Paul: Maintenence [sic] Shed

I registered for Family Camp I earlier this week, which I'm guessing is what prompted them find this up and post it. I just hope they don't charge me full price for sleeping in a hole in the swamp...maybe they'll let me crawl in with Paul in the maintenance shed if it does rain.

Of course, I suppose a hole in a swamp would be filled with water anyway, so maybe the rain won't even matter.

I can't believe they kept track of a napkin for this long. I'm impressed.

Monday, April 06, 2009

6 more days

until Lent is over and I can go back to facebook and twitter. I haven't missed them nearly as much as I thought I would. I have missed facebook, and have heard of a few juicy tidbits from people that I wish I could rush online and check out for myself, but it will all still be there next week. Twitter I think I'll cut back on and mostly just use to update my facebook status.

I'm back at work today, but starting light with a couple of hours out over lunch today to see my grandfather get married. That should be really fun. I'm wearing my dark-blue-with-creamy-white-flowers Easter dress at work today as a result, which is really no fun in the rain and I almost forgot how much I hate wearing nylons, but it's OK because I look cute.

David Sedaris was so much fun to see live in Frederick on Saturday, and before that a fun lunch with Kelly P and Luke and Matt P, followed by a very successful shopping trip to the Gettysburg outlets - two perfect summery cotton cardigans and two pairs of pants at the Gap outlet, plus a new pair of sandals that are super cute.

Got up at 6:45 this morning with no problems, so I'm hoping my energy feeding off of preparations for moving in less than 2 months will follow through and start getting me into work at 8 AM regularly, so that I can get home earlier to continue preliminary packing and (more importantly) knitting for all my pregnant friends. I finally started the second sleeve of my first-ever sweater, so I want to get that all finished, and then I have my yarn for Kelly's baby sweater, plus I still want to finish a few baby toys and diaper covers to use up some of the Paton's Classic Wool yarn I have.

Making that big donation to Salvation Army on Saturday morning felt great. I hope some 12-year-old girl really loves the size 4 pink courderoy pants I barely wore, and my favorite-ever jean shorts with the little embroidered sunflowers.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Haven't had time

Sorry I haven't delivered on the video of the inside of our house. I haven't had time to edit it down to an internet-friendly size yet. In the mean time, here are a few pictures of the outside:



Yesterday I got most of the way done with the basement, altho it still looks like a mess. But now that I'm so far in, I'm more enthusiastic to keep going - it makes the moving seem more real.

Paul went to the gym after work, so I had a little longer to keep working. Since I had off all week but we didn't do anything vacation-y, we decided to go out to dinner last night, and to kick the evening off right, Paul brought home three yellow roses for me! He had them sitting on the kitchen table in my favorite vase when I came up from the basement.

He also got me a new faceplate and mouse pad for my iBook, which is getting up there in years for a notebook computer, and has been having keyboard quirks for quite a while now. For instance, the Q key is overly sensitive: both times I've used it in this paragraph, it's typed two. The zero key is the same way. And then last week the mouse button stopped working reliably. What Paul bought won't replace the keyboard, but it will replace everything else visible, and it will give us a chance to pull of the keyboard and clean it, so hopefully it will solve all the problems. The only other thing that might be a problem soon is the optical drive, but that doesn't even matter - I rarely use it, and if I needed to get information off of this computer I can always use the USB ports and our external hard drive, and transfer it to Paul's computer if I needed to burn a disc.

Also yesterday the yarn I ordered came in the mail! It's so soft. I got a rich, dark brown for the body, and a lovely, muted green for the trim. I'm going to make a cardigan, so the green will be at the edges of the sleeves as well as around the bottom and up the front and for the neckline. So exciting! And before too long, I will get to meet Baby Prep and hold her and have a picture of her wearing the sweater I made. That will be so amazing.

Today we're headed to Salvation Army this morning to make a big drop-off of lots of old clothing, a few blankets, and more than ten pairs of my old shoes. That means I can officially buy a pair of cute sandals this afternoon if I see anything good! And I have Paul's express permission, because I've met his one criteria for buying shoes: get rid of a pair that I already have. So actually, by his requirement, I could theoretically buy ten pairs of shoes today...but I won't. Maybe two pairs if there are cute sandals AND cute ballet flats.

After Salvo and smoothies from the Lemoyne Farmer's Market, we head down to Gettysburg to Kelly's in-laws for a breakfast party for the first day of trout season. Since we're not coming home afterwards we won't be trying to catch any trout, but it will still be fun. I can't wait to see her belly!

Then in the afternoon we will head over to the Gettysburg Outlets, where I will look for some khaki pants, cardigans, and those cute sandals to show off my newly-painted toenails. Then before 5:00 my parents will meet us in the parking lot and we'll hop in with them to head down to Frederick, MD for dinner and to see David Sedaris! Should be a really fun day. Hannah and her friend Carl will be there too, but she's driving separately so she can go pick Carl up from the Northernmost Metro station, since he lives in DC.

Tomorrow afternoon: more basement cleaning, and hopefully getting close to finishing my first trial-run sweater. And maybe trying out the salmon with rice salad I was thinking about last week.
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