Sunday, January 30, 2011

Boys Night Out

One of my unofficial New Year's resolutions was to get out more. I'm kind of a homebody and it's nice to go out every now and then. I've been to a few concerts recently and it just makes me want to see more. With ticket prices and Ticketmaster (aka Ticketmonster)taking the fun out of big name shows we have been exploring smaller shows.
We are lucky to live about 25 miles south of Seattle so there are lots of small clubs to explore. Last night, Joj and I plus two of his buddies, hit the Showbox at the Market and heard a Led Zeppelin tribute band, Led Zepagain. They were great.
Besides seeing a good show it was fun to hang "with the boys". Joj has known Erik and Jim since he was a kid and so there lots of stories from back in the day. Between all the laughing and great music I would say it was a very successful boys (plus me) night out and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fondue, who knew?

Every year after our Christmas party, my sister-in-law sit down and do a "what worked, what didn't" list. I have them for almost all the parties we have done and it is so helpful when planning for the following year. One of the items that we go back and forth on is the cheese plate. Part of us feels we should have it, part of us feel it is a time consuming item that no one really eats. I have to admit I like a little cheese when I'm at a party, so on the fence I sit.

As we discussed the cheese yet again, we had a stroke of genius. Fondue. Who does not love a good gooey fondue and since we have already eliminated the baked brie that congeals 5 minutes after you put it on the table we felt this was a winning option.

The next hurdle was 'what do we put it in'? Hmmm, due to the furniture in my dining room the table has to stay in the middle of the room. In years past we had pushed it up against the wall so that made items requiring plugs (like crock pots) a piece of cake. Table in the middle of the room and long cords (especially when folks have been getting their festive on) is just tragedy waiting to happen. The solution, an old fashion Sterno fondue pot. I had been looking on line and decided I wanted to get the Wilton fondue set. It seemed to be just the right size and as a bonus it was tea light powered, so no Sterno. I would have purchased it but it was $20 buck shipping and frankly I'm just too cheap. I'm glad I resisted because the other day while at Goodwill, I found the exact same set unopened for $5. Score!! So tonight we decided to test it out.

I used a the fondue recipe below and learned a few things:

  • Don't use preshredded cheese. They treat is with some kind of coating to keep it from sticking and it totally throws off the "meltiness" of the cheese

  • Use a beer you would actually drink. Joj brought home some Redhook, yuck, and since the flavor intensifies when it cooks it make the fondue really "beery". For us, a nice blonde beer would probably be a better choice.

  • 3 cloves of garlic is a lot.

Also, as far as the items to dip, you don't need a lot. I cut up a large apple, 4 thick slices of crusty bread, 1 small head of broccoli, 2 chicken tenders, and a few slices if summer sausage for the 4 of us. Half way through we were stuffed. It didn't seem like that much food, but apparently if you eat slowly enough you fill up on a lot less. Now I know the whole cheese and beer thing was isn't exactly "diet friendly" but we really didn't make much of a dent in the cheese either. So what is the point??? Fondue can be a relatively light meal. Who knew?

Cheesy Beer Fondue

2 cups beer (I used a pale ale Henry's)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons ground dry mustard
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (3 cloves was pretty garlicly)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
Combine first 4 ingreds and half of the flour
Toss rest of the flour with the cheese
Once beer mixture is boiling, add cheese and melt (add a couple of drops of lemon juice if cheese is too clumpy)
Then dip all kinds of yummy stuff like bread, apples, veggies, etc.

Friday, January 21, 2011

One of those people...

I have become one of those people.
The kind I have always found annoying.
The kind who get up at ungodly hours to work out.
Not only do I get up at 5:15 to go workout, I have realized that this my ideal workout time.
If I don't go at 5:30, chances are it won't get done.
I guess that early in the morning my brain isn't fully awake and the auto pilot is full swing.
So even though I feel like this

It will all be worth it to look more like this

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Goodies to Go

Once a week, Joj has to make the long trek up to Everett for work. It is a long drive for everyone so to make it a little less awful I try and send along a little something. The group seems to be fond of coffee cakes which could not be easier to make. This week I'm sending up a sweet cream cheese coffee cake. I'm going a little Sandra Lee and basically doctoring up a box mix, but the filling is pretty tasty. I'm just waiting for it to cool and then I'm going to glaze it. The real recipe is here.

The best part about whipping up this little gem is that it is leaving the house and all that will come back will be an empty plate. I love to bake, but unfortunately it results in baked goods. I've joined D'lyn's 25 in 21. A little accountability group to loose those extra pounds before schools out. It fits with the decluttering of the body resolution so I figured what the hey.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Action not words

On Friday, I had been asked to give a plug for the PTA's Golden Acorn Award. The assembly was celebrating Dr King, so talking about service and giving back it was a no brainer. When I agreed to do the schpeal, I thought the assembly was also a "Student of the Month" recognition which mean there would be a ton of parents there. When I found out it wasn't I was bummed, but it did explain why there were so few parents there. Nevertheless, I gave my speech. It went really well, even if it didn't reach as many parents as I had hoped. Oh well.
When I went to check the mail today I found a little envelope with my name on it. There is just something about receiving something in the mail that isn't a bill, or an ad or some other randomly created, impersonal piece of mail. That little thrill is like a present unto itself. The note was from a friend of mine who had been at the assembly. She said how much she enjoyed my "pitch" and how she had found it inspiring. Wow. This was coming from a woman who constantly amazes me with her commitment to caring and compassion. She is a real go getter in all the right things. While the note was kind, the fact that she made the effort to actually write it and then drive to my house to put it in the mailbox was really touching.
We all think "Oh I should..." "Maybe I will..." and most times those are just words we say. It is when action is taken that makes all the difference.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I hear you knocking...

This weekend I went down to San Fransisco for my cousin's wedding. The wedding was sweet and it was nice to see a side of the family I haven't seen very often.

While we were there my mom really wanted to drive by her grandmothers house. My mom has always talked about this house, so I was curious to see it as well. When we found the house my mom knocked on the door and asked if she could take a picture of the house. She told the owner how this had been her Nana's house and she had so many fond memories of it. Not only did the current owner, Mary, let my mom take a picture she invited her (and us) to come in and look around. While this was super nice and completely unexpected, I kept thinking, if someone knocked on my door would I let them in??

If you are familiar with FlyLady she is all about living in CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) and I have to say that is me. Our house's main living spaces are pretty open and the lower level is especially "lived in". As I type I'm surrounded by piles of laundry waiting to be put away and other random clutter that seems to multiply at a frighten rate. I try to keep up, but I am only one and my crusade to recruit help is slow going. Battling the clutter is one of my goals this year and I feel good about some of the gains I have made in the other parts of the house. I tell myself one room at time, one room at at time. Slow and steady wins the race, right??

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I LOVE the water.
I truly believe this is the real me.

However, if I want to look like this

I need to do more of this

I taught swimming for 10 years. I swam competitively for 7, but I HATE swimming laps. So boring. I guess if I'm going to make swimming part of my regime, I should look into one of these.

Today Holly and I met at the pool at 5:30 am only to find the pool opened at 5:45. It took everything we had to stay awake. When we finally got in the pool we discovered they keep it at 86 degrees so swimming laps felt like we were swimming in this.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Make it Work

I mentioned before that one of my goals was to rid my life of clutter. The place I'd most like to see this happen is my body. Ugh. Always a battle. A while back, I posted that my friend Holly inspired me to sign up for my first 5K. I did it and survived. We then signed up for a triathlon. I survived that too. However, this year I've decided I want to do more than just survive.

For the past year and half I've been dragging myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a few times a week to "workout". That has looked very different at times, but usually it meant a 3 mile walk with some friends. Our neighborhood is hilly so we would huff and puff, but mostly get caught up on all the latest goings ons ~ quality girlfriend time. While it fed the soul, the body needed more.

I decided that if I'm going to go through the effort of getting up that early, I needed to see some results, real results. That meant putting the "work" in working out. Go figure??
One of my favorite Seinfeld quotes is from his dad talking about his heath regime ~ "I eat a plum everyday, that is my regime". Unfortunately, it takes more than that. So I've come up with a regime that will hopefully keep me from getting bored and help strengthen my body.

Sunday~ Step class
Monday ~ rest
Tuesday ~ elliptical/treadmill
Wednesday ~ swim
Thursday ~ elliptical/treadmill
Friday ~ rest
Saturday ~ run

Of course, I couldn't do it without my girlfriends. A support system is crucial to keep you honest and hold you to task when you would rather veg on the couch. I know moving more is on every one's mind this time of year, but if I can do it, ANYONE can do it. The first time I ran I made it two blocks and thought I was going to die. Now I can run three miles and no medics need to be called. That feels pretty good.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Finding the Balance...

When I started this blog I had the tagline "Finding the balance while fitting the clutter".
As I think about my New Year's resolutions I'm finding "clutter" seems to be a constant theme.
So for 2011 I've decided to declutter the following:
my mind, my body and of course my home
I've spent the past two days starting to clean out the closest that are used to "hide" stuff when we "clean". I'm so over the stuff. I've already got bags for Goodwill and even my Christmas stuff is going to be pared down as I pack it away. If I don't love it, its gone.
As for the old body, well, that is as always a work in progress. The plan is to step up the workouts. I'm doing another Tri this summer and my goal is to finish in enough time to do the kid tri with Sammie (she doesn't know this yet) I'm also going to be more mindful of what we eat ~ that means more veggies (Ben and Sam are thrilled with this one).
Last up, the mind. Basically, I'm going to try and be more "half full" and not awfullize.
I know those seem kind of vague, but that is my starting point. I have more specific ways I want to achieve these and I will share those in later posts. Hopefully, as I work on these aspects the balance I seek will come.
Wishing you all the best for 2011