Friday, February 22, 2013

My Winter of Discontent

I've been trying to decide if this winter has felt so hard because last winter was so mild, or if my actual dislike of winter has finally peaked.  This will the the third weekend that we will have two days of storming, though it's looking now like we are going to 'only' have snow then sleet then rain.  Still doesn't make for anything pleasant and certainly means I won't be able to run outside.  As much as I prefer not to run on my treadmill, I am very glad I have one that I can go out the back door to and not have to drive to.

Someone suggested to be that perhaps I should look into light therapy but I know it wouldn't make a difference.  Every single day I sit in an office where one entire wall is a window and I look out on a beautiful marina and the sun pours in.  Here's a shot I took yesterday, which doesn't show a whole lot of my view because I was trying to show how hard the wind was blowing by the fact that the flags are straight out. Yes, the windchill was wicked!

So while I may not be outside in it, I'm definitely getting sunshine in my eyeballs.    I honestly do think I just cannot abide winter any more and it's looking like I will definitely be doing what I've threatened for years:  once I retire, go south from January to April.  Even if I have to rent something I just don't want to be here anymore during this season.  It honestly makes me crazy that my daffodils are under about a foot of snow right now.  Even if they were trying to show that spring is on the way, they can't. Only 15 more years of work then I can leave!

Anyway, I really hate it when bloggers just disappear so I've written this to say that I'm not going to blog for a while.  I'm not even going to try to figure out when I'll write again.  You know my blog is sort of like the diary I used to have as a kid (the kind with a flap lock and a little key) - I'd go on a tear and write for months and then, I'd just put it down.  So that's what I'm doing for now, putting the blog down.

Some of it is due to the fact that I don't want to be a tired, whiny blogger and that's what I'm feeling like right now.  The other part is that I have some personal things I'm working on and I'd rather concentrate on those things than try to figure out what to write in my diary.

If you really want to get in touch, I'm available via email, which you can find if you poke around here. Until then, à bientôt.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Ten

1.  This was a very thought provoking post for me.  Enough so that I am thinking hard about doing at least 3 of those things.  The entertainment one I'd like to do, but I'm not sure Mr. Helen would agree to all streaming all the time, mostly because he loves sports.  But still if I could do 3 out of 4, WOW.

2.  I'm pretty much a hermit these days.  My full time job can be very solitary and this winter I can't seem to find the energy to want to do much more than put on my pajamas and wait for bedtime once I'm home.  Same on the weekends.  Lately, once I'm home I don't go back out my door until Monday morning to go to work.


4, I did go out Sunday morning to have brunch with my friend Em.  Hadn't seen her since her wedding so it was nice to have a leisurely meal and catch up.  Bonus: she brought me a present!  I love this woman's blog so I was absolutely thrilled to receive this - and it's signed to me too.  I've already book marked a couple of recipes to try.

5.  If you color your hair at home, here is a new way to get your hair color that you may not know about.  You take a simple survey, upload a photo and they custom mix a color for you just like a salon would.  Best thing may be that it's delivered right to your door. Click on the box on the bottom to get a special offer for 50% off your first order.  I've ordered my first color - I'll let you know what I think once I've tried it.

6.  Physical therapy on my back is going ok, but just ok.  Once my scheduled sessions are finished I'm not going back.  I guess I expected more than I'm getting, not to mention the financial output.

7.  Watching the Biggest Loser and Jillian tells a contestant that they need to stop looking at what may be going right or wrong at any given moment and starting thinking about and working towards what they want their personal finale to be.  I like that idea a lot because I know I can get all caught up in what is right in front of me and then let that derail what I'm ultimately working towards.



9.  I am really jonesing for spring/summer to get here already.  It's more than just wanting warmer weather.  I'm ready for my soul to feel lighter, for life to feel better.

10.  I realized the other day that this year is my 11th anniversary of running.  I've had good runs and bad, good races and bad, run in all kinds of weather (including Hurricane Ike), and weathered all kinds of injuries.  I don't really consider myself a racer anymore and I feel like the day is coming when I no longer will consider myself a runner.  But for now, it's still my favorite exercise so I'm still putting one foot in front of the other and plugging along.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

UR Not That Fat

Mr. Helen is working tonight so no formal Valentine's celebration for us.  We actually don't make it a point to "celebrate" but we do usually exchange cards - and there have been some years when I've gotten flowers and/or chocolates but not always.  I guess I'm in the camp that it's nice if it happens, but not necessary, because I'd rather celebrate our personal love days:  first date, anniversary, etc.

One of Mr. Helen's cousins posted this on Facebook the other day - made me laugh right out loud. But honestly, though I think I'm OK 4 My Age, I wouldn't mind getting a box of conversation hearts that say UR Not That Fat. I hope each and every one of you is shown love in some way today because I really do Like U All As Friends!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Another 3-4 inches of snow coming overnight tonight.  Some of our cities are barely back up and running.  My distain for winter has reached epic porportions.  I told Mr. Helen last night that I'm going to start looking for work down south and he can join me once he retires in 5 years. This is how I'm feeling about pretty much everything these days.

Monday, February 11, 2013

"I Survived the Blizzard of '78" and 2013!

Those of you who may have been around in 1978 during the blizzard that hit New England, you'll remember the t-shirts and bumper stickers that were around marking the occasion.  I didn't buy a t-shirt but I sort of wish I had - it would be a collector's item now!  Fact:  The Blizzard of '78 hit New England February 5-8; the Blizzard of 2013 hit New England February 7-8.  Those dates might be a good time to plan a trip to the Caribbean, no?

Thought I'd share a few of the photos I took.  I know for those of you who don't get snow or see it much, it looks pretty.  I'll agree with that.  But to be honest, it SUCKS to shovel it and deal with the aftermath.  We were fortunate to, once again, keep power but there were 37,000 people within a 10 mile radius of us who lost power and still did not have it back by Sunday.  It was 4 degrees here overnight Saturday-Sunday.

With no further ado, scenes from my home.

View out my kitchen window, which is the North East side of the the house. Nemo was a Nor'easter.  This was when it had really picked up and the wind was starting to howl.

We heard noise outside so looked out our front window and the neighborhood kids had decided to sled down our hill in the midst of the storm.

View out the kitchen window the next morning.  Yep. a couple feet of snow.

Mr. Helen went out to run the snowblower and I didn't hear any noise so I stuck my head outside to find to out why.  The snowblower we have is small and is not meant for this kind of snow.  Not to mention that about the first 6" was heavy, wet snow, packed down with a layer of ice. That meant I had to go out and help.  Sigh.  There goes my plans to lay around and read... I get outside and he tells me to go work on the opposite end of the driveway so that he can back his truck up (my car was in the garage).  While I'm doing that, I can hear him continuing to try the snowblower - and cussing because some drive gear broke.  I just kept plugging along and voila!

I did all of this by myself, then he came over and tried to tell me how to continue and where to throw the snow.  Oh no he didn't!!  I just looked at him and he put his shovel down and walked away...

It ended up taking us 8 man hours to do our driveway:  he was outside by himself for an hour before I got out there, then we worked on it for 3 hours together.  He came in for a bite to eat, then went back outside for one more hour to sort of finesse it - THEN he left and went to his father's house to do that driveway, which took him another 3 hours.  Poor Mr. Helen was literally outside messing with snow for 8 hours.

When we came inside, I heated up a leftover cup of coffee and put some of this in it. I didn't even care that it was only 1:30 in the afternoon -  it hit the spot!  

While Mr. Helen was at his father's doing that driveway, I made him this cinnamon roll cake.  I am not going to repost the recipe as I'm sure most of you wouldn't make it in a million years what with all the butter and sugar in it.  Click on that link if you really want the recipe.  I did have a small piece and it was very, very good!

Newspaper headline on Sunday morning

Front of our house - the sky is always so blue after a storm

Northeast side of the house - see the divot on the roof?  Big bogs of ice and snow were falling off the house all day on Sunday

Closeup of the Northeast side of the house

A look up our hill.  Our house is the first one on the left.  We were blessed because our street is considered troublesome and dangerous so they plowed it like crazy.  We were the only street in our neighborhood with a bit of pavement showing.

The street right at the bottom of our hill.  Look at what people who don't have off street parking are dealing with!

Oh my poor patio!

I can't wait for summer!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Simply Smashing!

I make a mean oven baked Swiss Steak, even if I do say so myself.  It's one of the dishes I sort of rotate in the winter because you can make it ahead and when you reheat to eat, it tastes just as good - or even better because the vegetable sauce tastes better as it sits.  I'm sort of picky about what types of meat I will eat left over but this is one of them.

A lot of people serve their Swiss Steak with.... mashed potatoes. Ewwwww.  I generally alternate between rice and noodles, or if I have the time, ingredients and inclination, I'll make some polenta.

I made Swiss Steak this week as one of our meals but because I was so busy also putting together my Super Bowl spread, I didn't have time to think about the side.  When I got home Monday night, I had exactly 1 hour before I had to go back out the door to my Muay Thai class so it needed to be quick.   I ended up putting some rice on - that's quick as it only takes 20 minutes, but personally I wasn't in the mood for rice. Then I spied some baby red potatoes that I needed to use up.  I remembered I'd found a recipe on Noble Pig that I wanted to try and after looking at it, I gave it a whirl.  I made the potatoes up quickly then left for class.

When we got home, I reheated the Swiss Steak and a couple of the baby potatoes in the micowave and may I just say, WINNER!  Mr. Helen went for the rice but as his food was heating he reached over and grabbed a piece of potato off the pan.  Then he did it again, and again.  Finally he got a small plate and as he put it in the microwave said to me, "I swear these are better than salt and vinegar potato chips!"  (and I venture to say, healthier too).  High praise from my potato-chip loving husband.

One of the things I love about this recipe method is that you don't have to have specific amounts of anything, so it's easily adaptable for one or two or twenty.

Salt & Vinegar Smashed Potatoes

Baby red potatoes, scrubbed clean but not peeled
Olive Oil
Rosemary (fresh or dried, whatever you have)
Kosher Salt or Coarse Sea Salt
Apple Cider Vinegar

Put the baby potatoes in a pan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender (10-15 mins.).  Drain off water then put baby potatoes on a flat plan, like a cookie sheet.  Using a fork, slightly smash each potato.

After you get all your potatoes smashed, brush each one with a little olive oil then season them generously with rosemary, salt and pepper, a sprinkle of kosher salt.

Put in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the outsides start to crisp a little and brown slightly.  As soon as you take them out of the oven, brush each potato with the cider vinegar.

So delicious! There's your answer, Shelley: while I don't like mashed potatoes, I do love them slightly smashed and this version is spectacular and easy.  I'll be making these often  - maybe changing up the flavor profile - and look forward to trying them on the grill this summer!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Anatomy of a Burpee and other Anatomy Lessons

My post on Rutabaga "Hash Browns" brought other ideas for its uses in the comments.  Several people mentioned mashed.  I am so not a "mashed" fan.  Not potatoes, not cauliflower, not nuttin' honey.  I think it's a texture thing.  This is serious enough for me that I refuse mash in restaurants and if they can't sub with something I like, I do without.  Also, if I had Thanksgiving at my house, we would not have mashed potatoes.  I know, it's blasphemy isn't it?  Believe me, when I tell people I don't like mashed potatoes they look at me like I've got two heads.


For those of you worried about my Prednisone intake last week, you will be glad to know it did what it was prescribed to do:  help my bronchial issues.  Even though I also got some other unexpected relief, as the dosage decreased, my back issue flared right up.  Oh, it was sad to wake up Thursday and feel the beginnings of it and even sadder to get up Friday with it on full force.  I enjoyed those two whole glorious days of no pain at all.  I started PT on Friday.  You know the saying that it gets worse before it gets better?  Yeah, that would have been me Saturday morning.  Trying very hard not to feel discouraged and just wait this out hoping the PT works.


I was going through my iPhone photos the other day and discovered that Mr. Helen had used it to take some photos of me doing burpee-pushups during the black belt testing.  This was the session where it was 27 degrees and dark outside.  I put them together in a collage so you can see the progression from upright and beginning to head down all the way through to the jump up.  I especially like the third one down when I'm on the ground. Something about that car headlight sort of emphasizes how miserable it was.  And the fourth one where you can see my feet actually off the ground.  Not too bad for action photos with an iPhone in the dark!
I still can't believe I took and passed that test, even though every time I go to Muay Thai I strap on my new black belt.


So it seems my body is liking my new attitude of eating and exercising for health instead of weight loss.  Color me shocked that I lost 4.2 pounds in January.  I can't believe that either, but I'll take it.