Sunday, January 23, 2011


In an effort to put off working on our taxes, I've decided to blather on about my 101 Goals status.  It's been amazing to me how motivating having that list has been.  Granted, it doesn't look like much is getting done but that's because many of my goals are a bit too open ended.  At least here on the blog.  In real life, my goals are a bit more detailed as to what constitutes completion, but for here on the blog, those details are too wordy.  For example, the goal of "learn more about the computer."  Technically, I could go ahead & check that off now.   I have learned more.  But I haven't begun to learn all I want to learn.  And honestly, I don't even know what I don't know so I do know that this goal will be on going for quite a while.  One of the things I'm doing is reading a book called Switching to the Mac which is teaching me all kinds of cool tricks.

But to get back to the motivation...  I find I'm much more motivated to complete a definite task than to work on something on-going.  I do enjoy checking things off the list!  And I'm realizing that instead of having "read Switching to the Mac" as a sub-goal, I should write down each chapter in my goals notebook.  Then, I could check off the chapters as I read them.  I'd be much more motivated to read the book.

On the other hand, I do have all 90+ books that I own & have never read written down and as I read them, I check them off.  It's going to take me a lifetime to read all those books, but I'm determined to get through them.  Unfortunately, the majority of the books are non-fiction, which is not exactly my favorite thing to read.   Give me a good thriller, mystery or romance novel & I'll skip meals and stay up all night to finish the book.  But give me a biography about "some old guy" (as my kids always phrase it) and I'm snoozing before I get to the second paragraph.  It's taking some true effort on my part to read a few of these books, but I'm motivated.  For several reasons.  For one, another of my goals is to learn more about history and since many of the books on my list are historical .....  and of course, there's the 'I get to check it off the list' factor.

There are also a few things on my goals list that I'm pretty surprised I haven't tackled yet.  I could easily get them done in a day and be able to get that satisfaction of checking them off.  But no, I procrastinate.  And why do I procrastinate?  Well, in some cases, it's a money issue, for some it's a weather issue and for some, it's just pure laziness.

And then there's the money issue.  How am I supposed to go to all those restaurants & museums, buy all that jewelry, buy the stuff to "pretty up" my house, hire attorneys to write wills, and get medical insurance all while becoming debt free?  Or does the answer to that question fall under the goal of setting up a budget & sticking to it?  Unfortunately, that goal will probably be the very last one to get checked off.

I am pretty excited about being able to check off updating the car insurance.  Our old company, Progressive, told us that we had to add Zack to the policy before he could start learning to drive.  All of our friends' policies allowed their kids to drive with a learner's permit without being added.  So, we checked around, switched companies and will be saving a ton of money.  Our new policy is almost half what we'd been paying and we have better coverage.  Much better coverage.   Better coverage for less money.  I'm on my way to becoming debt free.  :)

Oh, and on a side note, totally off topic, but the car insurance reminded me.  Zack has a bowling tournament in Los Vegas next summer.  He refuses to fly.  His solution is that since he will have had his drivers license for a month or two by then, he thinks he and his buddy, who just got his license last month, will drive together.  Did I mention that we live on the east coast?  Does Zack really think that his over-protective parents are going to let two 16 year olds, neither of which have had their license for a full year, drive across the country for a bowling tournament?  Apparently he does because he thinks it's a great solution.  I think I need a drink!  And a valium or two.  Sheesh.

As for the cooking goals...  Honestly, I'm not sure how to report those.  The Eat Clean 90% of the Time goal, well....  I do eat clean during the day, but at night, after dinner, and mostly after everyone else goes to bed....   I tend to snack.  And I rarely snack on raw fruits & vegetables.  Technically, I probably am eating clean 90% of the time, since I'm only eating junk for an hour or so each day but what I'd really meant for that goal to say was for me to eat clean for a 24 hour period, 90% of my days.   Guess I need to work on that one a bit more.

And then there's the goal to try 101 new recipes.  What exactly constitutes a recipe?  Does switching ingredients, leaving something out or adding something extra count as a new recipe?  If so, I'm a lot closer to my goal than I thought.  But I'd intended "recipe" to mean an actual recipe.  I have about ten gazillion cookbooks.  The goal was to try out 101 recipes from them.  In that case, I'm failing miserably. But hey, I still have 30 months to try 90 recipes.  Three a month.  Shouldn't be That hard to do.

I've thought about doing that Julia & Julia thing and picking a cookbook & working my way through it.  It wouldn't be a Julia Child's cookbook though.  French food doesn't really do it for me.  Italian might work though.  Or that new Southern Living cookbook I spent about 3 hours reading the last time we were at the bookstore.  Now, that one looked doable!  Except there was an awful lot of meat recipes and Sarah & I are doing the vegetarian thing these days.  I could do it with one of the vegetarian cookbooks I already own, but then I might be forced to eat tofu.  Or maybe I could use one of the baking cookbooks I have.  Those are mostly breads & deserts.  Neither the meat eaters nor the vegetarians in the family would be offended by those recipes.  Of course, it probably would not help me reach my other goal of loosing weight.

See, I'm struggling because my goals all conflict with each other.  Spend money & become debt free.  Cook myself silly while becoming skinny.  Read a gazillion books while I train for & run a marathon.  There's just way too much conflict.  But then, one thing having 101 goals was supposed to do was to teach me to have balance in my life.  I never discussed that part of the project here because it seemed that my goals were spread out.  But in the original instructions, you were supposed to make sure your goals were varied.  They weren't all supposed to be about money or weight issues or knitting or what ever your passion happens to be.  The idea was to spread your goals out into different fields so that you did have balance, or at least you'd would by the time your 1001 days are up.  So, maybe all these conflicting goals is a good thing.  Working on all of them will teach me to balance spending with saving, cooking with eating, eating with eating healthily....

All that balance sounds like a lot of work.  And if I'm going to have to work so hard, I may as well go work on our taxes.  Ick.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Told you so!

I love getting to say that.  Told you so!  Told you so!

So, what did I tell?  For about ten days Mr. Weatherman has been predicting a huge, massive "winter precipitation event."  Before the storm had even formed on the west coast, Mr. Weatherman was predicting it would form, sweep across the lower US and then up the east coast to Virginia.   For the first week, about all Mr. Weatherman would say was that it was coming, it would arrive on Monday or Tuesday and it would be massive.  Oh great!  Not.   Apparently, I've turned into one of those old crotchety people who hates snow.

By this past Friday or Saturday, Mr. Weatherman was saying it would start late Monday evening and snow all day on Tuesday.  It was too early to talk about accumulation.  By Saturday evening, he was saying that there was going to be an awful lot of ice mixed in so the accumulation wouldn't be that much.  But it was still a huge, massive storm.  The news started showing footage of all the ice and wrecks in the more southern states.

By yesterday, the prediction had changed to the storm starting off as snow but quickly changing to all sleet and ending with freezing rain.  Accumulation predictions were anywhere from two to five inches.  Two to five inches of sleet and ice.  Oh boy.  I like ice even better than snow.

I went into storm preparation mode.  My theory is, if I'm prepared for the worst, the best will happen.  And that always seems to be the case.  I mean think about it - your car only breaks down when you run to the corner store to pick up milk in your pjs and bedroom slippers.  If you are dressed decently, have a coat and maybe a pair of gloves, you're pretty much guaranteed a smoothly running car.   Additionally, you'll never need to make an emergency phone call as long as your cell phone is charged, but let that sucker's battery die and you'll blow a tire, while you're pulled over changing it, another car will slam into you and both vehicles will burst into flames.

So, I follow the Girl Scout motto - be prepared.  The standard joke around this part of the world is that at the first mention of snow, everyone flocks to the grocery store to stock up on bread, milk & toilet paper.  I generally have plenty of that on hand.  Well, maybe not milk, but I'm always stocked with bread & TP. What I run to the store for is pot roast, something to cook on the grill and "comfort food" in the form of chips & dips and deserts.  

Ok, you may find cooking on the grill a strange snow storm tradition, but when the power goes out and you can't use your stove....   Plus, our first house had a covered area where we kept our grill and that first year in the house was the "Year of Blizzards."  We had a blizzard every Thursday from late December until mid March.  We also had a pool table, a wood stove, a well stocked bar and no kids.   Everyone flocked to our house and we became party central.  Great times!  And ever since, we've grilled in the snow.

But I'm digressing.

So, yesterday, I returned all my library books that were due over the next few days and checked out the maximum number of DVD's they'd let me have.  I already had plenty of reading material so I didn't need any books.  I went to the grocery store and realized that my relatively new found life as a vegetarian is pretty dang boring when preparing for a snow storm.  Plus, we cook with gas now so I no longer feel the need to stock up on foods that can be eaten cold.  But I did buy way more junk food than necessary.  We'd stocked up on water the day before so I didn't need to do that.   (We don't drink our water - it's AWFUL!! )  Next, I stopped at the gas station and filled up, then headed home to charge the cell phones, computers & hand held games.

When the hubby came home from work, I told him of the preparations I'd made and he made fun of me and said it wasn't going to snow.  It couldn't snow - he had way too much to do.  My response was, "Ah, but honey, that's exactly when it does snow.  Hard."  He went off on a four lettered word rant that I won't repeat.

The entire family settled onto the couch in front of the TV to eat junk food and see what the latest weather report was.   Mr. Weatherman was still reporting 2 - 5 inches of mostly ice and it would begin around midnight.  Ok, fine.  We are ready.  Bring it on.  My left knee is still sore from the other day's long run so the weather will force me to rest it.  A nice storm might actually be what I need.  Plus, we have a house full of junk food.  We are prepared.

And, as I knew it would, the storm fizzled out.  We've got a little light snow falling, but that's it.  And honestly, "light" probably implies more snow than we are getting.  Granted, it's early, but the weather map isn't lit up like it was last night.  I think all my preparations saved us.

See, I told you so!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Running Pumpkin

Yay! My new blindingly bright, glow-in-the-dark Saucony jacket arrived today. I absolutely LOVE this new jacket. I wasn't so sure about it at first though. I mean, look at it...

First of all, it's orange. BRIGHT, fluorescent, glow in the dark, able to see it from space bright orange. The photo does NOT do justice to the true brightness of it. It's actually a little painful to look at. In fact, if you Google Mapped my address, you'd probably be able to see an orange glow coming from my bedroom window. About three seconds after I ordered it, I started regretting it because I just knew I was going to look like a giant glow in the dark pumpkin.

And see that white stripe down the front and the white splotches near my wrists? In real life, they are a rather dark and ugly gray. But hey - they glow in the dark! And camera flashes apparently.

One cool feature that I didn't realize it even had when I ordered it is that it comes with a battery operated LED flashing light on the right arm. You know, the arm closest to the on-coming cars. Another cool thing about it is how thin it is. It's so thin I could ball it up nice & tight and fit it into the change section of my wallet if I so desired.

Of course, I had to try the jacket out as soon as I got it. I was a little worried, the jacket is awfully thin and it was awfully cold today. The actual temperature was 31 but said it felt like 23 degrees. Personally, I'd say it was closer to zero. The wind was blowing something fierce! And we were having snow flurries. But the salesman had assured me that it was going to keep the wind out, so off I went. Wearing only my tights, el-cheapo Target "tech" shirt, the jacket, a fleece headband and my el-cheapo Target brand running gloves.

I sucked it up, stepped outside the door and started walking down the driveway. OMG! I'm gonna freeze my arse off out here. This coat is worthless! Then I realized, it was only my face that was cold. The rest of me was fine. Cool.

I started running and although the LED light is tiny, it's only about a half inch long, it was kinda bugging me bouncing around. As I pumped my arms, I could feel the weight of it bumping my arm. Luckily, long before I hit the first mile marker, I no longer noticed the bumping at all. And I was sort of paying attention to it. I kept thinking that it could get really annoying on long runs, but I really couldn't feel it at all after the first few minutes.

It was also a little weird getting used to elastic cuffs on my wrists. My old jacket didn't have elastic, it was just made out of that stretchy material that stayed tight on my wrists. I did have a few other thoughts about those elastic wrists. I was upset because my old jacket has super long sleeves with a hole in them so that you can pull the sleeve down over your hand & stick your thumb through the whole. With this new jacket, I'm either going to have frozen hands or I'll have to wear gloves. But then I realized, the main reason I don't wear gloves when the weather required me to pull down the old sleeves is because the old jacket's pockets didn't zip. If I started out in gloves then took them off, they'd always fall out of my pocket. The new jacket has zippered pockets so keeping up with the gloves will no longer be a problem. And I like wearing my gloves - they make great tissues!

Another super cool feature - I ran much faster than normal! How cool is that? My first mile was 68 seconds faster than my normal "fast" mile. Cool! Granted, I didn't keep up that fast pace for the full 5+ miles, but.... I just seemed to run better. Didn't feel the need for walk breaks and when I'd notice that I was breathing too hard, I was able to slow down and get my breathing under control much faster than normal. And, I was running so well that when I got to the end of my run and should have started my cool down walk, I completely forgot to walk! I kept running without even thinking about it. I was feeling so good, I'd added an extra mile to the run and I was just cruising along when all of a sudden, I was at my driveway. Crud! I never cooled down! So I ran a little further so that I could walk back. Sure hope my legs don't make me pay for that later!

When I finally did slow to do the cool down walk, I wasn't cold. Well, my face was frozen solid and my butt was cold, but my upper body was fine! When I got home and took the jacket off, I realized that my shirt was sweatier than normal, although I'd never felt sweaty while I had the jacket on. Never felt hot or cold. Cool!

And even better, the cars seemed to give me a wider berth than normal. I'm not sure if they were giving me room simply because they saw me, or because they were so blinded by the brightness of the jacket that they automatically swerved away from the glow. What ever. The jacket worked and kept the cars away from me and that was the main reason for buying the jacket in the first place.

On a totally different note, I just want to state how much I LOVE winter running. I've discovered I don't need a ponytail in the winter. The fleece headband keeps my bangs out of my face and the rest of my hair just does it's own thing. Granted, my hair is pretty wild and crazy when I get home, but..... It sure does feel "fun" blowing in the wind back there and I love watching my shadow. I feel very Bay Watch with my hair flowing out behind me.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Epic Failure

As I mentioned before, one of my 101 goals is to post a photo to this blog every day for a month.  I was pretty worried about that goal.  Besides the fact that I am NOT a photographer, my life is not all that exciting.  What on earth would I take photos of?  Then I realized how much my Christmas decorations mean to me and how many memories they bring to mind.  I decided to photograph them, or to at least photograph something that made me think of Christmas.

That project was working fairly well until my computer died.  Actually and thankfully, my power cord died, not the computer itself.  Phew!  Santa brought me a new power cord and all is well again, except I totally lost my motivation for snapping pictures of Christmas stuff.  As every year, by about 8 p.m. on Christmas night, I was so sick of all the Christmas hoop-la that I just wanted to cram all the red & green back into their storage boxes and put them away until next year.  And as every other year, I ignored the urge to pack it all away until New Year's Day.  However, as I've done every other year, I simply avoided the living room where the tree and majority of Christmas bling resides.  In other words, I avoided looking at or even thinking about any further Christmas memories.  And as the good, traditional girl that I am, on New Year's Day, I got up, sucked down a cup or two of coffee and promptly crammed all the red & green back into the attic.

So, the idea of photographing my Christmas memories was, in the words of my teens, an Epic Failure.  The new plan is to wait until February before I try again.  After all, my goal is to take a picture every day for "a month."  The goal says nothing about 30 or 31 days, just a month.  And since February is short....

In the mean time,

Happy New Year!