Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We're moving! (The blog, that is...)

After Google announced yesterday that it was going to run over all it's users by collecting all their data, with no opt outs, I made the decision to quit using Blogger/Blogspot and Google+ (not that I ever actually used Google+, but I had an account). To that end, I'm transitioning this blog, and the Ten Eighteen blog to Wordpress here and Wordpress here. I hope you'll follow me over, and excuse some "under construction" learning curves as they pop up.

I hope to move some of the more popular posts over to the new blog, which will show up as new posts, I guess... but it'll give you a chance to check them out again.

Thanks for coming by! See you at the new View.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I have a dilemma...

It's not really "my" dilemma, because it doesn't actually require much action on my part. It's probably more in the category of "things that make you go hmmm". (Who was that? Arsenio Hall? What happened to him, anyway?)

Here's the thing. I enjoy cooking shows and blogs. I read The Pioneer Woman's blog, and thoroughly enjoy it. I have watched some of her Food Network shows. Same for Iron Chef and Chopped and Next Iron Chef and Cupcake Wars. I'm not a big fan of Paula Deen, but I have occasionally watched The Barefoot Contessa. Watching these shows isn't my problem. It's the way they all cook.
Home from the farmers market... wowzers, look at those colors!

Now I know it's all delicious. Duh. Butter. Cream. More butter. Cups of sugar. What's not to like? But knowing all the information I do about health and food and saturated fat, I can't do it. I can't take one of their recipes and make it as it's written. Even if I really, really want to, I just can't. It's the same thing that happened after I discovered the ridiculous calories that the hard shell of chocolate added to my dipped Dairy Queen cone. I go to Dairy Queen, I've had a great week of nutrition and exercise, and I start to order... and I can't do it. Ask my kids - they think I'm nuts. Ignorance was, truly, bliss.

I have a little bit of an issue with Paula Deen's keeping her diabetes to herself while hawking her mo' butter recipes, but hey, no one makes people cook that way. It just seems like an odd thing, I guess. 
Oh my, lobster! And yes, we did have butter with that beauty!

The good news is, after many years of cooking lighter and healthier, I can convert almost any recipe to a more healthy version. Sure, I use butter. Just less of it, and use healthier canola or olive oil, or fruit puree. I know sometimes you need half and half, so I use the fat free version. Light sour cream. Light cream cheese. 1% milk. Lowfat buttermilk. 2% cheese. Lean proteins. When I make veggies I put a little good Irish butter in at the very end, which adds tons of flavor with very little extra calories and fat.
Delicious and low fat buttermilk pancakes. A little butter and sugar in the recipe, so you don't need it on the top!

I make regular food. I use a ton of a homemade 50-50 olive oil/canola oil mix. I eat eggs. I use whipping cream when necessary. I'm not a fanatic. But when it comes to making something for my family, I just can't get past the nutritional knowledge I have accumulated over the years. I'd probably be happier without the internal pressure... Probably have a higher bad cholesterol number, too. 
Oh, my... seared tuna steaks. Too delicious for words!

I really admire these chefs/cooks' talent, and thoroughly enjoy watching them, reading The Food Network Magazine, and cheering them on in the competitions. I just can't emulate them in good conscience.
This is my husband's. It is definitely not mine, especially that huge sucker. Sorry... I just can't do oysters!

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Years Do-over

We left for our vacation in the Keys on Dec 31, verrrry early in the morning, and were gone until the night of the 9th, so my intention all along was to "start" my new year things when we got back. Well, it's now the 20th, and I've had a horrible cold and now (again) a sinus infection, and not shockingly none of those things have happened. My house is a wreck, my book isn't edited (almost, but not completely), my exercise program is... nonexistent. My eating is messed up because I can't smell or taste anything. My painting is still sitting unfinished on the easel - since August.
Emmy is hibernating

So I'm calling a do-over. A mulligan. While I may not have a party with champagne and streamers and those annoying things you blow that make too much noise, I am turning the Gregorian calendar on its ear (at least in my house) and starting this new year again on February 1. What the heck... Companies are allowed to determine their fiscal year, the government's fiscal year starts on the random date of October 1, and I have basically lost January. So instead of trying to find it, I'm going to relegate it to "last year".
Thyme is having a sleep over with friends

10 days from now I will be done with my round of antibiotics. I will be starting my 60k in 60 days writing extravaganza (which is really 90k in 60 days for me, unofficially). I will be starting my 325k in 365 days writing experiment. I will be back from my mom's 70th birthday, and ready to start using my rowing machine and treadmill again. My brain will be (theoretically) back to normal functionality, and I will be starting the countdown to our May 3 departure to Uganda.
George (in Uganda) is worn out by it all

What is time, anyway? Einstein said "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Well, in January, ain't nothing happening. And a whole lot of it.
Even our resident owl is just wiped out...

So look out February! Good thing you have that extra day this year, cause I'm gonna need it!
Always good advice...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Back to the keyboard

My biggest New Year's resolution... ok, not resolution. That implies imminent failure. My biggest new habit for 2012 is consistent writing. Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile know that I did - and won! - NaNoWriMo in November, and that the book ended up being pretty good. And, more importantly I had a blast. So rather than letting that be a fond memory until the panic for NaNo 2012 starts around October 15, I decided to keep writing.
Solomon's Throne and my trusty MacBook Pro

What am I writing? you ask. Well, blogs, right now. I have actually been editing the NaNo book, Solomon's Throne, this month, and will continue to do so until I have a good 3rd draft printed out. But starting Feb 1 I am embarking on two separate (yet concurrent) writing commitments:

60 days, 60,000 words - February and March
365 days of writing with a group of WriMos

I'm not sure what my word goal will be for the 365 days thing - I have to decide by the end of the week, and I want to make it challenging but not impossible. (For instance, I know that I won't write the 21 days of the Uganda trip in May, nor the few days before or after it, so I'm not going to leave myself a month-deep hole.) I'm thinking maybe 325,000... but I'll let you know before the 1st so you can help hold me accountable. Fortunately, any kind of writing counts for the latter quest, including these blog posts. So they might just get longer, as I scramble desperately for word count! (Fair warning!)
Thinking. See the smoke?

The British woman who is coordinating it has pledged to do (I kid you not) TWO MILLION words in a year. Yep, that's right, 2,000,000. Words. In a year. She's doing it to raise money for charity, which is awesome. To save you the math, that's 5480 words a day. A day. On my best day in NaNo I wrote about 6400. I had a couple of days over 4000. Most were in the 3000s. And I wrote 88,651 in 23 days, and was exhausted (mentally) every day.
I may need a dose of this, too!

I will also be going to a writers group once or twice a month starting the 26th. We're not sure yet if it will be a critique group or just a "kindred spirit" group, but either way I think it will be good have some other writers to hang out with. I've never been in a critique group, so if we decide that's what we want I'll need a dose of courage!
Inspiration for a story???

So now, for the 60 in 60 challenge, I have to come up with an idea. I was pondering a sequel to my NaNo book... But a lot of advice online seems to be not to write a sequel unless the first book is sold, in case the first book is never sold. Which means I need a totally new idea. It's the 16th. Do I have a totally new idea? Nope. My backup idea for NaNo was a YA (young adult) treasure hunt set in Beaufort, NC, but that idea really doesn't have a lot of appeal for me right now. I need to find another weird history fact, which is what I did that led to the Solomon's Throne idea. Pray for me!
Maybe a children's book about Riley the lobster... Nah.

PS. This post, not including the postscript, was 553 words... See how much help I need??

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Is it just me?

I realized today that I do some of the craziest things. To name a few:

*  I buy adorable patterned cupcake/muffin liners, but I don't use them. Why? Because I hate to "waste" them. I don't really think this through, but when I'm making muffins, and I see those nice cute liners, that's what I think. "Oh, I shouldn't waste those cute liners on muffins!"
See, no liner. I had liners when I made these. But I didn't use them...

*  I buy lovely candles, but I don't light them. Why? Same reason as the muffin liners - I don't want to use them up because they're so pretty.

* I buy meat when it's on sale and I carefully wrap it up to prevent freezer burn and put it in the freezer. And then I forget about it, or think I shouldn't use it "yet", and buy more meat.
The other half of this tenderloin is in the freezer. The other half of last year's tenderloin is also in the freezer...

Do you see a pattern here? A trend? Yep, me too. I'm crazy. Obviously, there are more cupcake liners and candles at the store. More than I could use in a lifetime. And it's not like they're expensive versions of these mundane items. They're the original mundane item. Maybe cute, maybe nice smelling... but just your average every day pick it up at Target cupcake liner or candle.

Don't get me started on the time about six years ago I did that cook-for-a-month weekend. I did cook for a month, wrapped it all up, labeled it, froze it, made a chart to check off things as we used them. But then I didn't use anything. I just kept cooking as usual. OK, we did eat the muffins and pancakes. But that was it. Why? Well, I might need it. When? Someday.

My mother-in-law was a Great Depression child, and she reused aluminum foil, and plastic baggies (not zip locks, just the cheap old need-a-twist-tie plastic baggies), and jars, and rubber bands. Anything that could be washed, dried and reused, she washed, dried and reused. When we moved her into assisted living in 2005 she had unopened pantyhose from the Sixties... And I could actually relate, because if I didn't move for thirty years, I'd have meat in my freezer that long. I know what she thought about that pantyhose - "I might need it someday!"  (I do draw the line at aluminum foil...)

Maybe a New Years resolution should be to live in the moment, candles, cupcake liners and all. Start using that meat (I have three freezers...seriously). Talk to that neighbor I was waiting to see at the summer picnic. Take the walk I was waiting to take in the spring. Pursue a dream starting today, instead of waiting until someday.

What if someday never comes, and I'm left with three freezers full of meat and a crate of cupcake liners? What kind of legacy is that?

Friday, January 13, 2012

The lost art of sleeping

I used to sleep. Even after I had kids, I slept most of the night through, waking maybe once. My husband once asked me how much sleep I needed a night, and I said "until 8". And I slept, peacefully, until 8:00, every morning. And woe to those who woke me up!

And then... 40 happened. I know from a lot of my post-40 friends that this isn't unique to me. Probably the single biggest aging complaint I've seen is about sleeping. We just can't do it! Sometimes I can't fall asleep because, even though I couldn't keep my eyes open 10 minutes earlier, the minute I turn off the light my mind starts racing. Sometimes I fall asleep in minutes, but wake up in the middle of the night with my mind racing. Here lately, I am sleeping just fine, thank you very much, when I get a hot flash. Or ten. (And it's not just women... My husband wakes up at 3:45 and can't go back to sleep for an hour or two most nights.)

I don't know about you, but I get darned cranky when I have a few nights in a row with broken sleep. I really need 8 1/2  to 9 hours a night, every night, to have energy and a clear mind (well, take that with a grain of salt...). When I'm up 2 or 3 - or, like last night, 7 or 8 - times a night and get no real deep sleep, I'm less than a joy to be around. And then I become like a senior citizen, moping around telling everyone about my bad night's sleep, my insomnia, my *stupid* hot flashes. I'm sure that's scintillating conversation for my 15 year old son...

Remember when you were young and could sleep, anywhere?

Over the years I've tried everything. Ambien will definitely knock you out, but I only get about 5-6 hours sleep with it, and then I go back to the broken pattern, and I don't like that groggy feeling, so my experiment with that didn't last long. Benadryl or Nyquil will work when you're desperate, but who wants to take medicine you don't actually need, just to sleep? (OK, me, sometimes... but not as a general rule!) Melatonin works when I can't GO to sleep, but doesn't do much for the waking in the middle of the night. The only thing I've found that works like a charm, and only for 1 night, is jet lag. Seriously. If you stay awake for 47 hours, you get one amazing night of sleep!

This is my son with jet lag... Oh to be young!

What about you? Have you found anything that works, or are all of us over-40s walking around like zombies? Does it get better? I know my 98 year old grandmother sleeps like the proverbial log... Do we have to wait for our 80s for that to happen?!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Closing in on 47...

I'll be 47 in a few months, and while I don't mind the number, there are certainly things about this lovely "middle age" that I could live without. (Guys, this isn't for you, although you might want to get your wife.)

* Unpredictability. Gone are the days of wondering if too many days since the last "recent unpleasantness" means pregnancy. Also gone are the days of having some clue, either by a calendar or PMS, when the next "recent unpleasantness" will appear. 21 days? Check. 37 days? Check. PMS-like symptoms not connected to anything whatsoever? Check check check.

* The heat of the night. I was standing at the deli counter at Harris Teeter yesterday, waiting on my roast beef, when the lady next to me mumbled something. The meat slicing seemed pretty slow, so I thought she was complaining about it, and said, "Excuse me?" She said, "Oh my gosh, these hot flashes are killing me!" Her entire face was pouring sweat and turning red. "They put me on hormones but they aren't working yet!" She wiped her brow with a handkerchief. Poor thing! I don't have this problem yet, but some nights I go from freezing cold to HOT in the blink of an eye. It doesn't last long, but it wakes me up,  and I have to take all the covers off, and then, when it passes, I have to pull them all back on. It's really annoying. Just sayin'.

* Slogging through the day. Some of this is winter, I realize. I have struggled through every winter since I moved to NC. And days like today, with gloomy cold rain are the worst. But in general, my energy level is way below what it used to be. Not that I was ever a dynamo... I've always been laid back. But some days it's like trying to walk through chest-deep molasses, and I haven't found a lot - yet - to help. Except the 3 days I was on a Prednisone taper's full dose and felt GREAT. But I don't think staying on Prednisone is the answer...

* The weight goes where?? Until I was post-45, if I gained weight, it went in predictable locations. Backside, hips, belly. I stayed about the same weight for a long time, but that winter-5 would sneak up on me from time to time. Now it goes to really weird places like the back of midsection. What?? It's a backwards muffin top! Not attractive.

* My feet don't work. I have had plantar fasciitis since May. I have gone to the doctor 3 times, have $450 custom orthotic inserts, wear unexciting shoes, don't walk too much... In general, all the things I'm supposed to do. My right foot is mostly ok unless I do a lot of walking or Zumba or something, but my right foot got about 60-70% better and quit. So most mornings I hobble around, any exercise hurts it, and I feel much more limited, not to mention have a very hard time getting any exercise. I started PT today (my tendons are "ridiculously tight" in my feet, according to the therapist...wonderful...). I'm hopeful. But it makes me annoyed, nonetheless.

On the other hand, there are a lot of great things in my life, and they very much eclipse all this. It's just... distracting. When I want to be working on my book edit, or painting, or taking a walk on the occasional lovely winter day, sometimes I just can't. I'm tired, my feet hurt, and my brain is a little... fuzzy.

So one of my main goals in 2012 is to get all this figured out. I know that a minimum of 20 min a day of exercise can help my energy level, so the foot issue has to come first. I'm going to work my way through some alternative medicines to see if I can help the irregularity and night flashes. I'm doing my post-holiday and vacation get-back-to-normal-eating program and using Sensa to help me account for my slower metabolism. We'll see how it goes - I'll let you know!

How about you? How's the over-40 era treating you?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I'll go where He sends me...

The view from my mom's condo on the Indian River where I grew up.

As my bio states, I'm a Florida girl. 5th generation, in fact, so I can really, honestly, say that. And currently I'm in Florida, in the Keys, one of my top 5 places on earth (and probably the top place if I was to move somewhere rather than visit). If it were up to me, I'd just stay and have my stuff sent down. If it were up to my husband, he'd probably say the same thing. And I believe we will live here, within 5 years. But why, you might ask, don't you just move now, if it's what we really want to do and we could feasibly do it?

Well... Because I go where He sends me. He sent me to Uganda, and I went. This year I'd planned to go twice, as I've done every year since starting Ten Eighteen, but He said May, not February and August, so we're going - only - in May.

And moving back to Florida... well, it's just not time. I feel the promise. I feel like I will come home one day, to the water and the sun and the warm and the boats and the small town. (I didn't grow up here, but I grew up in a small town on the coast, and those are all wonderfully similar.)

So for now, I'll go where He sends me. Tomorrow, He's sending me back to North Carolina. North Carolina has been very good to me, so I'll try not to complain. But I can't promise I won't dream of crystal clear water and warm sunshine and ocean breezes...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My view today...

My view today is not actually from the sunroom. I'm sitting in the living room of the house we rented in Marathon, Florida (in the Keys!), looking out over the Gulf of Mexico. The cold front that's freezing the rest of you came down here last evening, and we're going to have a day of 25-30mph winds and chill. Which is 61 degrees. Brrrrr, huh? The only real downside is that the wind direction is hitting us square on. That's not too much downside, in my opinion.
The view from the living room...

We've had quite an adventure since arriving. The weather until last night has been great, and we've done a lot of kayaking (everyone else) and paddle boarding (me). Ryan and I went down to Bahia Honda State Park and walked on the calm, gorgeous Atlantic facing beaches and enjoyed the clear water and sunshine. (And ice cream after!) We had fresh caught lobster and fresh picked corn last night. 

We went snorkeling and our boat picked up an almost-dead snorkeler unconscious in the water, drifting away with the current, from another boat. We all thought he'd died - he had CPR for probably 45 min. But I found out yesterday that they got him to the hospital here, got him on life support, and took him by Life Flight to Miami, where he is in stable condition. That is a pure-T miracle, without a doubt.

This Florida girl is happy to be in Florida again. I'll even take a cool, windy day - which won't, by the way, keep me from having grouper and a Key West Ale for lunch. 

Happy new year, y'all... don't freeze!