FASHION FRIDAY: Things I don’t have but would like to have

Wardrobe gaps: Spring 2016

Wardrobe gaps: Spring 2016 by pynnski featuring ballerina shoes

  1. Black boyfriend cardigan, preferably with 3/4 length sleeves. I just cannot find what I’m looking for – may be forced to make it.
  2. Black open-front cardigan
  3. Something lumberjack-ish. I have been toying with weaving a big blanket scarf for myself. We’ll see. If I could find a cute top I would get that too. I love the plaid, just haven’t really found something that I love.
  4. Giants t-shirt. I have an A’s shirt but somehow have not managed to acquire a Giants shirt. Not for lack of trying. I’m also considering knitting an orange and black striped sweater because apparently I am insane.
  5. Turquoise flats. Still haven’t got myself some, if you can believe it. I want to check Kohl’s to see what they might have. DSW didn’t have any.
I don’t do a lot of clothes shopping these days. One of the things that I think is important to consider when you’re investing time and money into something is: do you love it? If you only like it, or it’s just okay, then you probably shouldn’t buy it. So I shall continue my two year quest for the perfect black cardigan that doesn’t rip in the washer (I’m looking at you, Target and Gap cardigans).
And anyway, I totally don’t NEED anything new… it’s just nice to have. ;)

Post Whole30: Reintroduction

So, I muddled through reintroduction of the foods I didn’t eat and came up with the following conclusions:

Dairy is currently not my friend (insert bereft/sad emoticon of your choice here). But it seems to be improving as I try different things out every few days. I suppose the great CHEESE DAY 2016 was maybe not the best way to reintroduce it to my life? Haha. But seriously, I do think I solved the “where is this heartburn coming from” mystery. It was coming from ice cream. :( :( :( Luckily I’m not a big ice cream eater. And… you don’t really need cheese every day, as it turns out. :( :( :(

I don’t feel the greatest when I eat wheat products. I already don’t eat that much bread in my day-to-day life, but cutting back on the incessant noodle situation has been beneficial. I find that I don’t really miss noodles, but I will say that I made chicken and mushroom soup gravy over Jason noodles last week and it was as delicious as ever. I don’t feel like there is a gluten issue or anything, just that I was probably eating too many noodles and tortillas previously. So, I cut back to once or twice a week. Actually I haven’t had flour tortillas in the house since January, which is a situation I just realized and am having feelings about. I did have some corn tortillas last week – I made some very excellent shredded pork that made great tacos with avocado, pico, and red cabbage.

Didn’t have a problem with rice, but immediately ran out of rice, so that was kind of sad. I think this week I need to skip Sprouts for groceries and run over to WinCo for some basic stocking up. I need to try making some quinoa soon too, just to check that out. I also don’t eat much beans/legumes so I need to try some more of that soon, maybe make a soup; I have some lentils in the cupboard. I found some low sodium whole food chicken broth at Sprouts that doesn’t have so many weird preservatives in it that I want to try doing that with.

I actually like black coffee now (!!!) so I try to stick with that for the most part. I’m currently trying out various less-chemical-laden coffee creamers, but have yet to find one I really like. The So Delicious Coconut Milk one and Califia Farms Almond Creamer are okay, but not spectacular. I should probably start trying out different coffees that I could really love black and just totally forgo frou frou coffee except for the occasional Starbucks.

Anyway, so really what happened is that I ate a bunch of sugar (a whole tray of Peeps!! they were delicious) and had a couple Taco Bell burritos and basically felt terrible so I’m back on the healthy eating bandwagon. Low carb does seem to work pretty well for me, so I’m still experimenting with recipes (I made a killer beef ragu and chile colorado last week) and now have added HIIT training to my day again. It’s nice to finally feel strong enough again to get back into the weights and flailing around, you know? I’m currently working through Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution again, which I enjoyed the first time, and subbing Beachbody’s Cize for the cardio days. I’m on Week 3/4 in BR and routine 2 in Cize. So far so good!

It’s encouraging to have such a great start to my year, and I’m finally in a better headspace to keep it up to get where I need to go.

HEALTH, WELLNESS, AND THE WHOLE30

Last year, when I had a number of health issues, including the development of tendonitis in my shoulder, which has been SUCH a joy (/sarcasm) I really fell off the health wagon, due to feeling terrible, which in turn made me feel MORE terrible, and by the end of the year, I had had enough. I tried a few different exercise programs but just didn’t have the physical energy – OR, more importantly, the mental energy – to get myself back on track.

But where to start? I couldn’t really get back into logging every piece of food that I put in my mouth a la MyFitnessPal. Don’t get me wrong – MFP works and I recommend it. But I didn’t have the energy to remember to do it, and I didn’t want to do it. So, roadblock number one, right? Anybody who has ever lost weight can tell you that you have to be in the right headspace to do it. You can’t make anybody lose weight, as much as you might want to. Even yourself.

And then in January, after starting up the Beachbody workout Cize (fun dance routines! I really like this workout system) I was reading some post on a design blog I follow, and they were talking about how they were doing a sugar detox and had linked the book they were using. That diet seemed pretty bullshit – instead of sugars they replaced it with some sort of fake “natural” sugar… I forget what. Not stevia or coconut sugar, but something else. The post author wrote about the Whole30 and stated that they didn’t like the attitude of the book or something, which actually got me curious so I clicked over to the website… and loved what I was reading over there.

The entire program is available on the website and you don’t have to buy a book, though the creators do have two books, It Starts With Food, and the The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom. (I requested my copies from the library and just picked up the latter!) However, they are not necessary to be successful on the program.

The program boils down to this: remove the known-to-be-inflammatory foods from your diet for 30 days to heal your body from all the processed stuff you’ve been feeding it, and then afterwards slowly reintroduce the eliminated food groups to find out what your body’s reaction is to them in order to remove them from your diet if they are harming you.

It is also a very good teaching tool to learn about what goes into foods during the processing process (hah) and how to read labels. I was pretty surprised to see how much sugar is added into everything, from mustard to, sometimes, canned vegetables and even meat.

Basically the rules boil down to the following foods that are allowed/not allowed.

NOT ALLOWED (at all, no exceptions):

  • Grains (including bread, pasta, flour, corn, quinoa, etc.)
  • Legumes (beans, chickpeas, soy products, peanuts, etc.)
  • Dairy (of any sort)
  • Sugar (any and all kind of sugar that you add to things, including honey, stevia, artificial sweeteners, etc.)
  • Alcohol
  • Additives
  • Pancakes and other things you make with allowable ingredients, as the point of the Whole30 is to wean you off bad food habits, and subbing a banana-egg pancake for wheat pancakes is against the spirit of the challenge.

ALLOWED:

  • Meat (preferably grass-fed and not cured unless it doesn’t contain sugar)
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables (unlike a regular Paleo diet, white potatoes are allowed – this is what sold me)
  • Nuts
  • Healthy fats

Seems limited, right? But… as it turns out, it’s totally not. Here’s some of things I’ve made/eaten in the last month.

  • Pad Thai with spaghetti squash noodles (this was my favorite new recipe and made it twice!)
  • Roast Pork Loin with apples, celery, potatoes, carrots (this was my first time roasting a pork loin in the oven – I usually use a crock pot. Great recipe that I will use again)
  • Bolognese sauce over oven fried potatoes (I make this in my regular life! love it!)
  • Meat & potatoes (I make this in real life – it’s just ground beef fried up with potatoes, I just left out the tablespoon of flour)
  • Taco hash (ground turkey or beef with potatoes, a can of Rotel, jalapeno, mushrooms, taco seasoning)
  • Jalapeño burgers (super delish!)
  • Baked chicken breasts
  • Crockpot chicken thighs
  • Grilled chicken thighs
  • Lemon Garlic Cauliflower
  • Various salads
  • Various homemade salad dressings
  • Vegan Pesto (even without parmesan in it, it’s fine)
  • Salsa
  • Homemade mayo (SO DELICIOUS) – I used the “dump method” mentioned in the comments
  • Homemade ketchup (meh – probably the biggest fail, recipe-wise. It was too sweet for my taste – I just like Heinz, you know?)
  • Garlic Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe’s (Only sausage I found that is Whole30 compliant – no weird additives or sugar)
  • Coleslaw
  • Chicken salad
  • Egg Salad
  • Fried Eggs
  • Deviled Eggs (I love eggs)
  • Apple Cider
  • Clementines
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Cashews/Almonds
  • Homemade Almond milk
  • Black coffee
  • Hashbrowns (need to work on my technique)
  • Oven baked garlic fries
  • Sweet potatoes

That’s only the tip of the available iceberg, too. I just didn’t have time to try all the things I wanted to. For the most part, I ate great over the last 30 days. Plenty of flavor, new recipes, etc. etc. Good stuff.

Benefits I saw from this program (Non-scale victories or NSVs):

  • Inflammation is way, way down. This is the main thing I was hoping for by axing sugar, bread, and cheese from my diet. My tendonitis has gotten somewhat better over the last six months but I was still dealing with daily, chronic pain. Swelling in my shoulder, upper back area, and under arm never really went away with physical therapy, but by eliminating the NO foods I have seen a vast, vast improvement in my mobility and pain management. In fact, between January 18 and February 16, I only had one real bad day, and maybe a couple days where I was aware of some pain but not anything to really be bothered about. One bad day! I’m thrilled.
  • I no longer need my 3 pm snack because I’m eating properly the rest of the time.
  • Kicked my daily, sometimes 2x daily, coffee habit (though, I really do miss sweet sweet creamer. I will have to evaluate how much I want to bring that back into my life since it may be a trigger food).
  • Learned a LOT about what is in food and how sugar is sneaked into so many products! There are a lot of things I won’t be eating on the regular anymore.
  • Sleeping so much better. Prior to this, I was waking up around 2-3 times a night, getting only 2-3 hours of sleep per stretch. Now I am going to bed earlier and sleeping more, I am regularly getting 5-6 hours at a stretch and only waking up around 1 time (early in the morning not long before my alarm goes off). It would be nice to improve this but so far so good! It also helps that my shoulder hurts so much less because I think that was part of the problem as well.
  • Somewhat more energetic – I actually feel more up to doing a Jillian Michaels workout, which are my favorite, but I haven’t had much energy to do them in the last few months, plus I couldn’t do the planking exercises because of my shoulder. I may start one of the workouts up in the next few weeks; I’m thinking Body Revolution which I really liked and it starts out pretty easy.
  • Lost a dress size! I had to buy a bunch of new pants in December because literally all my work pants bit the dust at the same time, and now all those pants are baggy in the butt and thighs, especially the skinny jeans! I’m still going to wear them though, until such time as they start falling off. I kind of want to get down into another size (the elusive 14) before I spend anymore money on pants.
  • My skin looks GREAT; I had zero blemishes this whole past month. ZERO.
  • Bloating and stomach pains much lessened.

Some not-so-great stuff:

  • The first week of this was hard. Not food-wise, I had prepped really well, stocked up on healthy groceries, and had a lot of meals in mind. But physically, Oh Em Gee – I quit coffee the first week because I couldn’t stomach black coffee (at the time, it’s totally fine now!) so quitting sugar AND coffee gave me like a three day withdrawal headache. Plus, my body was flushing out all the bad stuff. If you get my meaning. So all that was super fun. Oy vey.
  • Massive sugar cravings hit about day 12 through day 14. This was awful, all I could think about was cookies, and I don’t even eat cookies that often! I only got through this by drinking some organic pressed apple cider from Trader Joe’s.
  • Stomach issues that I have had have not completely gone away. There is room for improvement here. I think I need to eat more fiber, which can be hard because I am just not a salad/greens person – and smoothies aren’t allowed on the program as it’s better to eat greens regularly rather than grind them up. I have to find a good solution to this, or other veggies to add to my diet that aren’t salad. I can do salad a few times a week but every day makes me sad, and the last thing I want is to be a sad salad eater. Assuming I don’t have any dairy allergies I plan on trying to get back in the smoothie game once it gets warmer.
  • It’s SO expensive to eat this way. I need to figure out a better way to budget for this. Probably just meal plan better. I wasn’t even doing organic or grass-fed much either (though come on, free range chicken is so much more delicious than caged!)

CONCLUSIONS:

I would do a Whole30 again in a heartbeat (and plan to in the summer after my birthday, maybe). The benefits FAR outweighed any negatives, which were totally negligible and I had to think pretty hard to come up with any. I plan on eating this way for the foreseeable future though I wouldn’t call myself a Paleo adherent… Maybe just “Paleo Adjacent.” I never went hungry either. I would also like to thank my mom for her help and support with this – she offered up her Vitamix to make almond milk, supplied me with spices I needed, and cooked Whole30 compliant meals for the three Sunday dinners I was at their house.

The next ten days are dedicated to reintroduction so I can find out what, if anything, I may have a bad reaction to. I’m hoping that cheese/dairy isn’t part of it as I would love to, you know, eat cheese and yogurt again (on a limited basis). Weirdly enough though, I haven’t really missed cheese and yogurt (the cheese thing is so weird because hello, I am Mexican, cheese is basically it’s own food group. And I didn’t even think about burritos once! WTF.)

About eighteen months or so ago I was looking at the label of my big jar of taco seasoning and didn’t know what some of the ingredients were. Shouldn’t a spice mix just be familiar spices? I found a recipe online and have been mixing my own taco seasoning ever since. This really started making me aware of ingredients in products and helped me be ready to take on eating clean for 30 days. I think if anyone was really interested in doing a Whole30 that they really need to do their research on the site and decide if it’s right for them, because it can be very hard physically and mentally to give up all your treats for a month, as well as read every single label you come across.  But keep in mind: if you stick with it, you may not even think about or miss your treats. I didn’t, except for the great mid-point cookie freakout.

Plus, you know, I lost 12 pounds in 30 days. I wouldn’t recommend doing a Whole30 simply to lose weight (that first week was brutal, honestly) but my body composition is a lot better and I can tell I lost inches in my waist and thighs, and my cheekbones/dimples are showing again on my face.

Which is great! And I feel great too, which was the whole point of this. Not only did I succeed in finishing the Whole30, but I proved to myself that I don’t need all that junk in my life. The Whole30 guys were right: it’s life changing.

I Watched: BLACKFISH

I’m in the early stages of a free month of Netflix. A couple of weeks ago my cousin and I were talking about SeaWorld for some reason and she mentioned the documentary Blackfish. I had heard of it, but hadn’t seen it. I have, however, been to SeaWorld. The summer of 2004 I had a season pass to the San Antonio park. I went three times.

I had seen the Shamu show and it made me nervous the same way that ice skating and ballroom dancing make me nervous: I always wait for something bad to happen, like, somebody falls or gets dropped. In the case of the killer whale show I expected somebody to get chomped or flattened. I’ve always thought that orcas were too big for captivity and it always made me sad to see them in the small pools (possibly seeing Free Willy as a kid has something to do with this opinion because dolphins, whale sharks, and other ocean animals do not bother me at all to see them in captivity). Or maybe just having a general sense of physics – orcas are big and seemingly intelligent, the SeaWorld pools are small.

Anyway, so I was curious about watching Blackfish.

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The documentary discusses killer whale performance and captivity and is centered around the death of a SeaWorld trainer in 2010 by a whale who had previously displayed violent tendencies, and had been involved, however directly, in two previous deaths, one in Canada and one also at SeaWorld Orlando in 1999. Former SeaWorld trainers were interviewed discussing various aspects of behind-the-scenes life at SeaWorld and various other incidents of killer whale violence.

The film does a good job of getting their point across and I definitely would recommend watching it. However, it is clear propaganda –  an anti-SeaWorld point of view from what I believe are essentially animal activists. The filmmakers have a clear agenda for wanting to shut down SeaWorld and similar parks. At no time did they ever address the conservation efforts that SeaWorld has accomplished, nor did they interview any current employees of the company. I also would have liked to see the point made that the reason for keeping some animals in captivity is to educate and to promote conservation efforts in natural habitats.

Some further reading:

From MySA.com: Ex-SeaWorld trainers dispute ‘Blackfish,’ say phase out whale show
From SouthernFried Science: Blackfish: the Science Behind the Movie
From CNN: ‘Blackfish’ film ignores SeaWorld’s benefits to conservation, research
SeaWorld’s Rebuttal: Truth About Blackfish

There is a lot of information out there – and it’s a subject worth learning more about. I think Blackfish is a good place to start, but you can’t take everything at face value. I am, currently, mostly undecided on this subject, but leaning towards “not a fan of killer whales in captivity” if only, because it seems so sad for such big, intelligent creatures to be kept confined.

(I am totally pro those whale sharks at the Georgia State Aquarium though so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Those guys would have been eaten out of Taiwan’s then-quota of allowable whale sharks caught for food. They may be in captivity but at least they are not lunch.)

SCHWAAN, finally

Back in April/May of 2013, I randomly got a bee in my bonnet to KNIT A SWEATER™ and I’m not really sure where it came from (probably Pinterest) but I decided I wanted to knit SCHWAAN, the cover sweater from Norah Gaughan Vol. 8. And so I started, with the wrong type of yarn and nowhere near gauge.

The first go didn’t work too hot but I was able to determine what did and didn’t work, and that I really did not want to handknit a whole sweater that involved purling in any way (there’s a reason that my other sweaters I’ve made have been in the round!) so I decided to uncover the Ultimate Sweater Machine from underneath the pile of mail and do a swatch.

I had a bunch of Knitpicks Comfy (a worsted weight cotton/acrylic blend) that I’d started a sweater with oh, last year or the year before, but it had gone to the wayside due to knitting ennui on my part and too many purls. I’m a Continental knitter and I’ve never really figured out a way to purl that isn’t completely annoying/slow, which is why I generally like to knit top-down/in-the-round*. I’m sure that’s not uncommon. Anyway, so once I determined that A) the sweater needed to be bigger and B) I really hate knitting boring stockinette in flat pieces (cursed purls) I decided to bite the bullet and go the knitting machine route for the solid stockinette sections.

In the case of SCHWAAN (yes I feel it’s necessary to capitalize every letter) I was interested in handknitting the edges and the front lace panel. The actual construction of the sweater was interesting to me as well – it seemed like it was put together slightly different than regular sweaters (set in sleeve or raglan – seemed a bit of a hybrid though mostly raglan).

That left me with the mass amounts of stockinette to knit once I’d done the edges and I had the sweater parts completed in about three evenings. Seaming took another evening and then I had a sweater about a week after I started the process (including the day or two that I spent handknitting and then deciding I didn’t want to handknit the whole thing.)

So, SCHWAAN:

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It has its problems – namely the armholes need to be a little bit bigger, as do the arms (I read later that several Ravelers had noted that the arms seemed tight) and it needs to be longer, though the latter is a personal preference due to fit – I have a long torso. However, it’s totally wearable! (#win)

I followed the pattern exactly for the largest size since my gauge was mega off. This only took just 8 skeins of Comfy – more like 7.5.

I ordered two more colors of Comfy and plan to make two more SCHWAANS – one a pale pale almost white turquoise, the other a rosey red. I ordered ten skeins of each which I think will be sufficient for the added inches, plus it will be slightly smaller since I’m somewhat smaller. The back only took 2.5 skeins so I wouldn’t think I’d need more than a half skein per front/back to achieve an extra 2 inches of length (maybe three – we’ll see). The white one will probably be completed as written but I’m toying with doing clean edges; i.e. a folded hem. The red one will have a 2×2 rib but no lace on the edge.

I also worked out a better way to bind off directly from the knitting machine – it’s a little time consuming but much nicer looking than the way I initially learned how. So I’m looking forward to incorporating that into the new SCHWAANS, including all of the tricks I learned while seaming SCHWAAN #1 together. Not sure which color I want to do next, or if at this juncture two years after the fact, if I want to still make two. Maybe the red wants to be something else. The white is definitely destined to be a longer sweater.

Incidentally, my sister, who took the above picture, asked me, somewhat critically, “Did you MEAN for your sweater to be this length?” A sisterly way of saying it is too short, haha! But she’s right, it’s too short. Doesn’t mean I won’t still wear it though.

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*This does not explain Vaila (or Flowing Lines! Newly knit in 2015!), which is a lace pattern on a sea of purl. Loved knitting that sweater, though I did turn the arms inside out and knit them in the round instead of purl, hah.

Fitness Friday 2015 #1

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Oh you guys, I fell off the health bandwagon the last few months. I was going strong for a solid year but then, bam! Went on vacation, had that plane thing happen, got a flu shot (I don’t think my body liked it much), hurt my shoulder, and basically anything that looked delicious went down the hatch. It’s funny how life can get in the way and kick you in the pants.

I’m back in business though – I generally feel terrible and I’m wondering if back when I was fatter I felt like this all the time but I was used to it so didn’t notice it so much. Ugh. So I’ve been getting back up to speed this week with eating healthy and next week I’m going to ease in to exercising – I’ve been sick so I haven’t had the energy to do much more than go on walks. Aside from the usual reservoir walk with my dad I want to add at least 3-4 more days of 30-45 minutes exercise/weight training. I also signed up for the weight-loss competition at the office which started yesterday with our first weigh-in. (Ouch.)

Other things I’ve done to get back on the health train include:

  1. Buying an actual food scale (I killed my yarn one using it for food. It needs a new fancy battery so once I get that I’ll clean it and put it back in the studio.)
  2. Buying an actual scale – I’d been using my Wii Fit balance board for this, heh.
  3. Bought some vitamins, just Vitamin C and Oemga 3/Fish Oil ones. I really like the NatureMade brand gummies (I’m such a child). I’ve never been able to manage taking vitamins consistently before but the combination of them being tasty gummies and keeping them in my laundry room by the back door causes me to actually eat them on my way out the door in the morning.
  4. Bought supplies to package up smoothies for the freezer.
  5. Making plans to do some hardcore crockpotting and stock up the freezer with healthy homemade items. Need to clean out the freezer first though. :/

I plan on starting the Jillian Michaels Killer Buns and Thighs next week (heh) and I’m going to order her new BodyShred system which is apparently using the 3-2-1 system (3 minutes strength, 2 minutes cardio, 1 minute abs/core that 30-Day Shred and Ripped in 30 use). I like the Body Revolution workouts as well – I did those last year and dropped two dress sizes once I’d completed all the disks.

I’m also moving into eating mostly whole foods – meats and plants with little to no processed items, which includes bread (I love bread). I’ve had a hard time saying goodbye to tortillas but they use processed white flour (and whole wheat tortillas from the store are gross) and I’m trying to eliminate that from my diet for the most part. I don’t drink milk but I do love cheese and yogurt so those products are here to stay. I may lose my mind and attempt to make my own yogurt one of these days.

I’m undecided about canned food. I am on a budget and canned food can be convenient and inexpensive however the salt content is prohibitive. I did find a brand of tomatoes that has no salt added so I’m headed to Winco this weekend to grab some of those. And I love Rotel. So I’m torn on this subject. I know there are a lot of opinions about canned food in relation to GMOs and all that – while I do think that organic is good I don’t necessarily think they’re the best and I think the anti-GMO people have probably drunk the kool-aid so to speak. But I’m not really interested in arguing about that kind of stuff with people – I think everyone should do their own research and decide what is best for themselves and their family. And let’s get real – you will pry that can of Campbell’s Mushroom Soup out of my cold dead hands.

I guess the hardest thing about all this is not the eating or the exercising, it’s the planning. I don’t really have an aptitude to plan much in advance, so I have to be better about that. I’m really good about planning for travel that’s happening months down the line, or what I might be having for dinner tonight, but what am I having for dinner two nights from now? I have no idea.

Anyway, I’m hoping to use this space to talk about this in a more candid manner than I have previously, and maybe post meal plans that have been helpful. Honestly if I can get two posts out in a month that will be a miracle! Hah.

2014 Recap

*dusts off blog*

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I went to Florida! And a Dodgers Game in LA. Walked to the garbage mound (er, Seal Point) on the Bay Trail. Went to Gilroy Gardens

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year??

No New Year’s Resolutions – I don’t believe in them. I do have some goals for 2015 though, and that’s hitting various mile markers on my health quest, hopefully at least one of them before Memorial Day Weekend when my cousin gets married. And resurrect this blog from the depths of despair! haha

3. Did anyone close to you give birth??

Baby-palooza up in here this year. Malvina sprung the Boo in June, Felicia had Miss Alice in October and Jenny had Sierra in October (I think possibly the same day actually, or within a day or so of each other!)

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Nope.

5. What countries did you visit?

The United States of America!

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Last year’s wants remain true: “Money, time, more friends, pants.” I do have more friends now, so that’s nice! Maybe figure out that “relationship” thing but there is a genuine dearth of people I’m interested in dating here, so who knows. I might finally get around to doing an online profile but that seems so inorganic.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

August 27th aka the day that I learned how to sit in an airplane IN CASE OF CRASH LANDING. EMERGENCY LANDINGS ARE GREAT. NOT REALLY THEY SUCK.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

– NOT DYING ON AN AIRPLANE
– Getting down to a size 16 in clothes! I’m down two sizes since I started Health Quest.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I gained back some of the weight I lost after vacation so I’m working on getting that back off (turns out you do need to keep exercising and eating right, haha…) I joke about the airplane thing now but I had some problems with it for about six-eight weeks afterwards. Nothing like the possibility of death to turn you into a self-destructive twerp. I’m still the same size though!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

My near death experience gave me a cold so a month later I got a flu shot. In October I did something to my shoulder (too heavy purse) and have been kind of dealing with that ever since. Things are getting better though so that’s good.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Last year: My tablet and my running shoes.
This year: A new tablet and new running shoes, heh. Also a new internet router because that is the heart and soul of my existence (sadly). Oh, also my plane tickets to Florida and Texas, and also booked the last two rooms with bathrooms at Wawona for the wedding.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Bills, nail polish, traveling.

13. What did you get really excited about?

My Florida/Texas trip, going down to see Sarah in LA, various baseball games (besides the Dodgers made it to tailgating at a Bay Series game, and at least one or two other games? I think I went to four this year), my cousin’s hilarious Save The Dates, winning the office pool tournament by accident, seeing my friends’ babies, etc.

14. What song will always remind you of 2014?

John Newman’s Love Me Again
Hozier’s Take Me to Church

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:?

– happier or sadder? Happier I think
– thinner or fatter? About the same!
– richer or poorer? Richer

16. What do you wish you’d done more of??

Traveling, sleeping.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of??

I don’t think I have any #regrets this year, haha. Maybe less procrastinating but that is how I roll y’all.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

At my house for Christmas Eve with my mom’s side of the family. At my parents’ house in the morning for Christmas Day with just us and then later my aunt and grandma came over for dinner. My mom made the most EPIC meatloaf – it was 100% delicious. She makes a great meatloaf anyway, but for some reason (the Kinders ground chuck maybe? lol) it was just effing delicious.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Orphan Black – Continues to amaze me with the acting on this one
True Detective – Aside from the amazing acting, did you SEE that six minute uncut shot in episode 4?! Best thing I’ve seen on TV in ages
Game of Thrones – After being traumatized by the Red Wedding, how can we go on? But we did and it was great.
The 100 – this post apocalyptic teeny-bopper show on the CW has delivered with each and every episode. I’m so surprised by the great storytelling and forward moving plotlines. Who knew that a show about a failing space station sending their delinquents down to a wasteland Earth could be so good?
Supernatural – always and forever in my heart, Winchester Bros.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Magic Shifts / Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews – still my favorite author(s). Magic Shifts is the latest in the Kate Daniels series (we finally meet Roland!) and Burn for Me is the first in a new series/trilogy.
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – this book got me through the plane incident and was really good to boot!
Wild Man / Law Man / Heaven & Hell / The Will by Kristen Ashley – Kristen Ashley is an acquired taste and her voice is unique. Her books don’t always work for me (i.e., the majority of the Rock Chick series was deeply annoying) but when they work, they really work.
The Razorland Trilogy (Enclave / Outpost / Horde) by Ann Aguirre – this YA postapocalyptic YA series is fantastic – mutants, cave dwellers, war, peace, etc. It’s great. And Horde is the book that really turned me onto the path of ebooks because I wanted it right then.
Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry – part of a concurrent duology (?) about a woman who falls in love with her best friends ex-fiancee (the other book, Hot Island Nights, is about the best friend breaking off the engagement and running away to Australia to find her birth father, also good). I really liked how the characters of Violet and Martin were fleshed out from the first book. It was a sweet, emotional romance.
The Others Series (Written in Red / Murder of Crows) by Ann Bishop – in an alternate world humans live in small cities surrounded by the Others (werewolves, crows, etc.) that shapeshift into human form. The series centers on a girl who has escaped a serious situation finding refuge in the Courtyard (where the community of Others live in a human city). It’s a complex, interesting world – and far far better than Bishop’s famed Black Jewels Trilogy, which did nothing for me, alas.

2014 was the year I moved mostly over to ebooks – something I never thought I’d do! But the ability to download a book whilst sitting upon your ass and not having to drive to Walnut Creek and find parking at the only Barnes & Noble around? Priceless.

21. What was your favorite music from this year??

John Newman’s Love Me Again
Hozier’s Take Me to Church

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Guardians of the Galaxy! And, well, the Lego Movie.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

34 – had a whole weekend of stuff, met Felicia and Tyler for breakfast the day before and then crab cakes and mojitos at Havana with Sarah and Bill.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

To have been in ignorant bliss on how to sit in a crash landing and not to have hurt my shoulder.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Hipster chic. I don’t really wear cardigans anymore, either, weird.

26. What kept you sane?

Coffee, the sweet elixir of life that giveth and ne’er taketh away. No but seriously my daily coffee ritual is simultaneously a grounding and transcendent moment.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014?

Life is short and next time fly Delta.

Socks for Boo

Knitted some baby socks for the first time for Ms. Boo Belle. The little lady is still a bit too little for them, but the important thing is that they fit, or will fit, eventually:

Yarn: Knitpicks Stroll Handpaints in Tiger (discontinued colorway, sadly)
Needles: Ehhh, 2 US probably??

I also made myself some fingerless mitts out of this yarn earlier this year but I haven't taken a picture of them yet. I will have to do that.

Summer 2014

I know, I know… The updates are few and far between these days. But here's a sampling of what I've been up to this summer!

In May: Malvina's baby shower –

Look at all that delicious flavor! Or, it would be that now I see the cheese ball is missing. Huh. Anyway, the food seemed to go over well with the guests. I was worried that there wouldn't be any parking, but it was literally the only day this entire year (that I've noticed) that the visitor parking across the street from my house was totally free. Go figure.

We had a mini high school reunion –

And then the baby was born about six weeks later!

In June:

I (and my dad) repainted my living room. We removed the valances above the curtains (see above pic – aren't they awful??) and it was a lot of work and a big construction disaster for about a week. I learned I can't live without curtains; it creeps me out.

Yes, I didn't take down my Christmas tree. From 2009. ;)

I think this is the first time I've posted the china cabinet on here. I refinished it in the fall of 2012 – that was a big job too. I still should paint the handles. Ah well, eventually. One of my coworkers saw these pictures and said… "You have a lot of stuff." I just laughed.

In July: birthday and box game at the A's.

Met up with Felicia on the 4th (my birthday weekend) for breakfast, and Sarah and Bill for dinner on the 5th. Had a great birthday dinner with the family on the 4th – my mom parents got me a Fitbit! And Abby got me Season 1 of Game of Thrones… it makes so much more sense after watching 4 seasons, haha.

And now it's August. I'm actually knitting a sweater, so I think I might document that later. Unless I get eaten by alligators next week… stay tuned!

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