Thanksgiving, Ducks, and Whoops

I don't like turkey. I don't like any white meat in general, and turkey has so much of it, its annoying. I also find it tough and bland, and .. the list of its offences is really too long to indulge in. So, instead, like a good Russian, I make a stuffed duck on any qualifying holiday. Qualifying means it puts me in the mood to spend $17 on a bird. Spending $17 dollars on a fatty chicken like bird seemed appalling until a recent trip to Bristol Farms, where ducks come in at 9.99 per pound, so, $40-$50 a duck pre-tax. Jesse and I laaaaaughed and laughed our way out of the door, duck-less. I was on a duck research mission that evening, and found out that Whole Foods were $4.99/lb and Ralphs and Vons at 2.88 and 2.69 respectively. I got some nice fat 6 lb ones at Ralphs, and was pretty pleased. I still wonder - the ducks at Bristol Farms weren't frozen. What happens to these $40 ducks at the end of the night? I mean, do they toss them? Can I come in at 8:59 and make an offer? Are they available shortly thereafter at or around their dumpster? Just wondering...

Russian Holiday Duck:

a duck
4-5 apples.
a package of prunes
thyme, optional

I wash the duck and trim as much fat as I can. Rub the inside of it with salt and pepper, and stuff with cored and sliced apples. I don't peel my apples, since they tent to turn into much when peeled. Prunes are mixed in with apples and going into the duck as well.
I prick the duck all over with a sharp fork, or skewers, if the forks are too gentle and child-proof, to help fat escape.
Stitched close with my best surgeon work, toss the excess apples around it, and toss in the oven at 375'F for 2.5-3 hours.

Ducks are super fatty, and as the fat drains out, it helps if the duck is elevated on a rack. I don't own such a rack, so Jesse kindly rolled some foil into thick bars, and the duck rested on 3-4 of these. This way, it's not swimming in a fat-lake when you take it out.

I must warn for $17, you are not getting very much meat. But what you do get is exquisite.

We had dinner with Jesse's family, complete with an enormous 26lb turkey. It was pretty magical, and I even found some turkey leg meat I didn't object to entirely. Afterwards, we headed to my Aunt Diane's for tea and pie, where my father and step mother were visiting from Northern California. The children had dug a giant hole on the beach to play in, and aunt Diane showed us some 90 year old toys passed down in the family.

Friday morning, despite my incoherent objections, Jesse stuck to our plan and threw me in the truck, shopped for camp groceries along the way, and we arrived at Spangler (Southern California high desert) to camp and ride.

Jesse got me a WR250 a few months ago, and I'm still breaking it in. I just discovered this trip, that it's true - if you take whoops at a high enough speed they don't rattle your wrists, shoulders, and neck, and instead, you almost glide over them.

It had rained at night, we listened to the rain and wind in our tent, keeping warm in a sleeping bag with 8 blankets "just in case". There was no dust the next morning. A little windy, but you can't pick your weather, and having lived in Chicago, I'm excited to be out and camping at the end of November. Riding was beautiful and dust free.

We met some friends from ThumperTalk, a message board where I met most everyone I know. There was a band playing - for $600 they got a trailer and will follow you anywhere. There was a sea of toyhaulers and trailers. Jesse and I camp the old fashioned way, but we aren't proud, and are happy to hide out in a trailer when needed, watch Star Wars, even, and have Dave's biscuits and gravy Thanksgiving Trailer Dinner Special. (Thanks Denise and Dave!!) Not to mention the bathroom. Sometimes, and especially in 40'F, it's just nice not to have your butt hanging out in the wind.

I am thankful. Super thankful for all the happy things and people and blessings in my life.

*pictures to come


Want badly: Camping chair

Not just any chair. Alite Monarch Butterfly Chair.

Ever since Jesse and I both sat in my Crazy Creek on the beach on day, an inside pole snapped and it's only as good as a cushion now. I've been meaning to stalk upon another sale-d Crazy Creek.

Then, I saw this chair in REI, fell in love, and there's no going back. Sorry, Crazy C, We had good times, and I liked sitting low and close to campfires.. rolling you up and stuffing into my Camelbak on bike trips. And the beach.

Actually, I didn't even know what it was, and wasn't very interested while Jesse attacked the baggy, took out poles and asembled what looked like a really shady contraption. I was more interested in filling out my JetBoil collection, which happens to share the isle with chairs. When he assembled it, I wanted to sit in it, for sheer play - fall back, call it dumb, leave.

It was magical. It's a balancing deal, since the chair has 2 legs. Adding two human legs makes the four needed to maintain balance. But it's super effortless. I would know, I sat in it for a good 15 minutes in the middle of REI chair/camping cookware isle. You just kick your legs on front of you, and lean back.

I can picture it everywhere. Best of all! It stuffs little into a sack. The poles are aluminium and come undone. I want 4 of them for my living room, and 2 to keep in the truck. May be one for the office.

I looked online to find it cheaper than the $59.99 REI tag, no dice. Oh, but I want it bad..


Finally. Sewing Mid Century Modern Chair Cushions

I finally got around to sewing new, r e a l, cushion covers for my mid century modern chairs. I've had the fabric for months, a bright purple upholstery flower design we picked up at a San Francisco fabric outlet, and 'sewing cushions' has been on the List shamefully long.

I enlisted to Jesse to draw a layout of the pieces I would need. Since I measured and came up with about 4 yards of fabric (3 and a half, plus half for error margin) I had to plan this a lot better that the 9 yards of brown fabric I had to hack away at.

I thought about doing piping on the sides – the original ugly orange had thick piping. Stitching it in would require a zipper foot, which I don’t have. I generally have a hard time finding parts for a 1922 machine. Might be it’s ONLY drawback.

I brought home some samples of cord I could hand stitch from the outside into the seam, but I am not convinced that the amount of work involved is proportional to the aesthetic benefit.

The following is probably only useful, nay, fascintaing if you’re interested in making chair cushions. If you are making mid century Danish lounge chair cushions, and have little to no sewing skills, its downright invaluable. I think, cause I looked all over the net for a tutorial and never found one. Otherwise, you can follow the picture trail to the finished product.

It’s a basic pattern of two squares for cushion (top and bottom), a long strip to comprise 3 sides, and shorter strip for the zipper top. With the seam allowances, the top “zipper strip” is made of two strips, each 3.5” as opposed to the one 5” thick “long side strip” that runs most of the way around. The cushions on the original chair were 4 x 23.5 x 24, so I went with that.

To make the top zippered side, I sewed the two fabric strips together, either because you’re supposed to do it that way, or because there would be no way I could keep them in place while I sewed the zipper on. So, I stitched them with the large stitch setting an inch from the edge, folded out the edges, and pressed.

From the wrong side, I laid the 36” zipper on top, centered. I found out too late that it’s the type of zipper that opens from either side. At first, I was disgruntled, but then I grew to like it. I don’t have a zipper foot, so being able to open it and move the ‘tongue’ down was really convenient when anchoring the ends of the zipper to fabric. The conventional one way zippers in longer lengths looked flimsy, with the small metal teeth that eat batting, thread, and get all stuck.. (In a related story, I heart JoAnn’s Fabrics 40% off coupons!)

I anchored the base of the zipper on one end, and trying to keep is centered (basting would be really good, if one had patience for that sort of thing) I stiched all the way down, about a ¼ inch in, anchored the other end the same way, and stitched back up along the other side, trying to keep same distance.

I was really tempted to rip out the stitches holding the zipper shut, but didn’t. I find if I stop and play, it extends the time exponentially.

Now, with the zipper strip down, it is to be attached to the long strip, which is to be sewn onto the square base. I wanted the zipper edge to look professional, so I closely inspected some porch furniture cushions on my aunt’s porch the afternoon prior.

The long strip is 68 inches long. You can make it up of shorter segments, but I was going for a seamless look. That, and I can’t be trusted to piece things together, that’s how things get out of control. The less pieces I have to work with, the better.

The zipper base is “hidden” in a pocket of a sort, and this pocket is attached to the zipper, perpendicularly, to stabilize it, not just along edges where it attaches to the cushion base. In order for this perpendicular stitch line not to show and spoil my seamless look, I sewed the zipper strip and the long strip right sides together at the bottom, and then folded the long strip back onto itself.

The math involved:
The zipper strip is 37”. Zipper itself is 36”, so half inch allowance on ends.
The long strip is 68”. Minus 23.5 of the bottom center width, leaves 44.5 to be divided into the sides.
44.5 divided by 2 is 22.25. So, coming up from the bottom center, I have 22 ¼ “ fabric strip.
The zipper strip is 37”. Subtract 23.5 of cushion top width is 13.5. Divided by two is 6.25”. So, from the top of the cushion, I have 6.25” of zipper strip.
I had decided that I will have 4” of zipper showing (to be able to open the cushion cover wider). I actually wanted more, but I liked the look of less zipper.
My cushion length is 24”. So, to have 4” of zipper showing, I need the rest of the long strip for that side at 20”.
I had 22.25, so I would fold 2.25” inches under. (A portion of this 2.25 is anchored to the zipper strip on the inside.
A picture shows it better. I ironed the fold, because I don’t baste.

The same is done on the other side of the cushion. They are completely symmetrical, so all the math is the same on the other side. 4” of zipper showing, 2.25” folded under, 20” remaining for the side. Bottom of zipper strip and long strip are anchored together with a perpendicular stitch line, that ends up hidden by the fold.

Now, all that’s left is stitching the side to the cushion.

I started at top center, making sure the center of the zipper strip is aligned with the center of the cushion. I had ½” allowance on the cushion, so once I stitched there, I would have to make the corner. Amazingly, it lined up with my mark on the zipper strip corner. I clipped the corner of the fabric to make turning it 90’ easier. I keep the square flat, and turn the strip 90 degrees.

Turning the corner, I stitched through the 4” of the remaining showing zipper side, and then stitched the fold that covers the remaining zipper and zipper base onto the cushion front (four layers of fabric for 2.25”). 24” inches later, I turned another corner, stitched the bottom, and came up to the other side. I stopped on this side just short of the fold. I wanted to make sure the fabric didn’t stretch as I sewed, and I wouldn’t have excess side strip (or, slightly worse, not enough side strip). I stitched from the beginning, top center cushion, going the other way along the zipper strip.

Once I turned the corner, and was a couple inches into the side, I stopped, and made sure that when folded, I had exact amount of ‘side strip’ as I did cushion side. I pinned it in place, since I don’t baste. Again, basting would probably help tremendously, and you can just stitch merrily your entire way around the cushion. I have a psychological thing about undoing stitches, of any kind though, so I am left to measure obsessively, pin, and hold my fingers crossed. (And sometimes undoing the finished product…)

Voila. It’s a cushion bucket of a sort:

Keeping in mind my pattern orientation, and for sake of uniformity, I simply sew on the other square cushion side, just as the first one, turning corners, notching the corners if need be. I started at top center, and I make sure when I get to my seam allowance, it lines up with the”corner” mark on the side strip.

Amazingly, everything lined up right. I guess that’s what happens when you only leave yourself a ½” seam allowance as opposed to “3-4 inches margin of error area” approach I like.

I probably should have ripped out the ‘basting’ stitch holding the zipper together, BEFORE I stitched the cushion shut from every side, because it’s a little hard to do from the inside, since the zipper tongue is sandwiched between zipper teeth and fabric stitched shut. I guess once the zipper is sewn in, there’s little value to keeping it closed while you sew.

I took out the stitches, and it looks beautiful. Had a used the flimsy zipper, it would be completely hidden, but it was a trade off – I like the bigger plasticky zipper teeth.

Less likely to eat batting and foam, I think. I love how much better, stiffer, and more stable the upholstery fabric makes the cushion as opposed to my temporary cotton fix.

Finished dimension: 24 x 23.5 x 4.

The chair back cushions are same, but only 15” tall. I got a 30” zipper, instead of 36”, because I won’t have it go as far down the sides. May be only an inch of zipper showing. It was midnight when cushion #1 reared its finished head. Tonight is cushions #2, 3, 4 time.


Chair 1 complete!


Seen Out and About

At a weird “estate sale”,.. (ones where stuff looks old and ratty and in someone's driveway, yet priced at thousands).. this spectacular $1900 couch.

Had it been $30, I’d have dragged it home, where Jesse would have to build a loft to support any more “pieces” . Luckily, it was $1870 over our budget.
It is my personal opinion, that if you sell $2000 couches, you should put them in a setting other than your ratty driveway, but the guy seemed pretty excited about his couch. It was "an investment piece", and "would probably sell for $9,000 in an intique shop down the street. You never know, it IS Orange County, I guess. I just don't know how many people cruise around yard sales with $1900 in pocket.

Still, I am guessing stripped to dark walnut and upholstered in something less .. blue and flowery, it would be awesome.
- Ceramic parrots? Swinging on my porch? Bright colors and everything? Yes, please! I had talked the guy down to 5$ a parrot, but he wanted me to buy all, and I really thought that 4th was hideous.
It would be cool to paint them ivory, and have black stars/flowers/swirls painted all over. But Jesse seemed to think they would then lose their “parrotness”. Parrots fail.
It’s probably for the best, our 2nd floor deck isn’t nearly big enough to accommodate 4 big hanging parrots, without knocking into them incessantly. Jesse suggested taking the 4th one and using it as target, like those clay pigeons, but I don't have the heart to blow up something brightly painted, even if it is hideous.
- I did find some awesome Paul Frank shoelaces, and ALMOST got a pair of flippers. Then Jesse informed me I can get flippers in a myriad of colours that aren’t orange and blue, so I skipped away with visions of glittery purple pink flippers. Watch out, SoCal beaches.
- A book on survival. I’m pretty sure I can survive just fine anywhere, but I’ve seen Jesse pick through his “white only” chicken meat at Flame Broiler. I’m fairly certain eating tree bark is not a concept he’s on board with, so he needs all the help he can get.
- An old book on the psychology of male/female conversation..having. I intend to read it, and analyze everything Jesse says thoroughly for a couple weeks, until he either has a breakdown, or the fun runs out.
- A first edition of Tom Sawyer. It’s beautiful, old, and has few coloured pictures. I have been meaning to pick up a copy at Barnes and Noble, as soon as Jesse has finished Huckberry Finn. I’m convinced it’s imperative he reads all happy childhood classics to make up the giant black void he must be suffering (he hides it really well).
Other things worthy of note:
Clay fish. After the parrot fiasco, I was certain I need to get them, paint them ivory and black, write “here, fishy fishy” and hang on a bathroom wall.

They sold before I went back to them, but above is my nostalgic concept drawing.. Drat.

Various chairs.

This ceramic life size statue/lamp.

I mean, if you were going to go completely over the top, why not do it with crystal ball grapes, lights, and a lady wearing all types of bright foldy ceramic clothing? $449.

- Black leather gloves. $2 They are super thin. I'm thinking, cat skin? I shall cut off the fingers, and wear them with sundresses that my tattooed forearm otherwise prevents wearing at work. I've rectified it in the past on super hot days by Ace bandages and a cut off tube sock (striped yellow and green, even) and I am thinking this might be an upgrade. Hopefully, He Who Signs the Paychecks will agree, or I'll have to find other uses. They'll likely still have to do with sundresses and excersizing individuality. Ha.

Total weekend shopping cost – about ~$7, plus gas. AND, I wore my weight vest everywhere, so I imagine I burned 80,000 calories hopping in and out of the truck. WIN!


Small Victories – Up yours, html..

I set out to widen my blogger template, after I crammed all the pictures into the Gorman Camping post, they looked nothing like the ‘preview’ claimed they would. Everything was super squished.

I spent, no joke, a day doing this, and when I was done I felt slightly dumber than I started out. My very first step was to scroll down, find the section called */main – and increase it from 430 pixels to 500. (Remember this, it will come up again at the climax of this story)

I did this, and the whole posting gig moved down under the side bar. Not cool. I didn’t save changes, and went on to look up web tutorials, message boards on html, and everything else, and spent all types of time increasing something called the outer and the inner "wrapper", successfully, but not being able to “stretch” the text into the now bigger box. Never mind that part of the text box was a different color. I pick my battles.

Something called “padding”, decreased, helped a little, the text now stretched into the widened, ‘discoloured’ part of the text box. But, even though the “wrappers” were all widened up to par, the margin between the sidebar and the posts widened, and I couldn’t get it narrowed. I messed with every single “margin” parameter on there, (clicking preview after each time) and it did nothing but drive me to drinking.

I posted a question on a message board where people came in with fancy words like “stylesheet”.. or abbreviations like “CSS” or “CCS”. Hard saying.

I picked it up again this morning. Having hit every other “wrapper” parameter, and googling things like,

“display:block means what?”

and writing my own “code”

< text align: MORE LEFT DAMMIT >

Recalling late night DeVry university commercials with regret, I kept scrolling down. */main – the very first thing I changed pre-tutorials. I gather, it governs the actual ‘text’ bit. Still at 430px. Change to 500. Wider text happiness ensued.

2 days. 2. Days. Screw you, html, says I.


Weekend Camping - Gorman

We were SUPPOSED to go in a cruise, four girls, but somehow everything unraveled and we couldn’t go. So, instead Heather and I planned a girls camping trip at Gorman, California – Hungry Valley.

It was a COLD valley this weekend. We stocked up on some fabulous hats at the local grocery shop. Do you ever wonder WHO BUYS clothes at places like CVS, or Gas Stations?
- Chicks who leave their house to camp in 40’F high weather with no hats. 5.99 ain’t a bad deal to save our ears from falling off. We spotted a neighbor camper getting 3 rolled up blankets at the same shop, so at least we were more prepared than that guy.

Jesse has spoiled me insanely, and took over all the loading/unloading. His truck tailgate is about 4 feet in the air, depending on how you park it, as opposed to my one bike trailer being 6” off the ground, regardless of its parking situation. The point of all this is that I AM SORE. Like, my palms, are sore. And that's considering he did ALL the prep/pack work for me. All I had to do was wake up and start driving.

He has taken over keeping track of where I put stuff. Phone? Camera? I spent half my time frantically looking for my truck key. Flashlight? Forks? I generally just walk around, setting stuff down, and he enables my behavior my constantly making a note of where stuff is, or by picking it up and moving to a reasonable spot. It only hit me during this camping trip, it is SO tiring to run around and constantly look for various objects.

Nonetheless, it was pretty awesome. We pulled up, Heather jumped on the bike, let off the clutch too abruptly, the bike promptly threw her down and landed on her. She was a good sport, got up, and asked how to have that NOT happen again. And then it didn’t. We got her putting around campground, not even stalling, and shifting into 2nd. I was super pleased, especially since she informed me when we got there that she doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift and it was a “nightmare trying to learn”

Then we went introduced ourselves to the campers next to us, and asked them to watch our bikes while we went visit town for ice, hats, gloves, and the antique shop. It was risky, but the bikes were there when we got back, although they admitted considering Craigslisting them. I probably would not recommend doing this on regular basis, if at all. Seems like a stellar way to lose a motorcycle or two.

The antique mall had an ENTIRE SET of shelves of clown figurines. Clowns are generally creepy, and a room full of them is frightening. (But this one was cute.)

It was a really sketchy, small, turn off the main highway to the one street town (Frazier Park?), with small alley-like street shooting off to the sides, all dead- ending within a block or two. There was a yard sale sign, and oddly, all yards in the town looked like a perpetual yard sale. I saw a table in the alley. Or was it a front street? It was next to a rusty boat, a more rusty RV, and a pile of wood. It had stuff on top of it. It had beautiful, although cracked claw-holding ball feet. I imagined Jesse losing his mind, if I brought it home..

Was it trash? I hope so, cause there it was, strapped in the bed of my truck. I walked about the open garage and by windows, but no one seemed interested in coming out. I took a couple branches of firewood, but then stopped, it was too neatly stacked to be assumed garbage. Which made me wonder if I have a freshly stolen table in my truck.

In a related story, I learned Heather and I can never rob banks as a team. Between my tying down the table with straps and prancing around the truck bed, the obnoxious loud idling diesel, and Heather playing on her Iphone in front seat, we screamed amateurs. Never mind the Uturns, and more loud idling, (with table already secured and visible in the back) as I was wondering if we ought take the firewood. We decided not, and regretted it later that night.

Team Log - 1; Team Chick Campers - 0:

We set up a fire using unreasonable amounts of spare gasoline I carry with me, and spent a lot of time trying to split a log. And mourning the alley-possibly-trash-wood we didn't get.

Eventually, we relocated to the big group of campers. They heard our inadequate wood splitting (Heather and I took turns to wear it down), and came rescued the log, and we brought our remaining wood, smore supplies, and our rum drinks to their fire. They were a nice group with the Infamous Motorcycle Club from Long Beach, funny, and with some awesome warm chicken and corn on the grill. (I didn’t have to step away from the fire and make dinner – WIN!)

Climbing into the truck was a little rough. I have camped before on the ground, without a mat even, so my upgrade of a blow up mattress in truck bed is just unbelievably badass and awesome to me. Heather, on the other hand was comparing it to her bed. Not so badass or awesome. I had asked the neighbors if they were chaining up their bikes, and it turned out they camped with “so many guns, its stupid”.

I chained my bikes, just in case.. but unloaded the gun Jesse sent me with. I figured the 6-12 armed gentlemen around us probably had enough ammo to take care of anything that rattled the bikes, so there would be no use for my panicky shooting in the air. The tent roof got to live another camping trip, hole-less.

In the morning, I had a dream about laughing dogs. Turns out, there were coyotes, and Heather slipped out of the sleeping bag (letting in cold, the wench!) and out of the tent, to go take pictures.

I was horrified. I have since been notified that the vicious things in Lion King are hyenas, and not coyotes, so there went my strongest argument against them, but still, the thing looked like it eats people’s faces clean off. A fox, apparently, had also frolicked around camp during the night, and peed by some tents. No doubt, marking them for the next nighttime patrol and “distribute rabies” site. Had I heard something pee around MY tent, the tent roof would have fared much worse. In addition to all this, the coyote was seen around the area I had been the night before, (illegally, as it turns out) picking firewood. Probably eyeballing my face for his dinner.

I went for a ride with the boys. Heather opted out, choosing to putt around camp again, but not before she tried the neighbors’ crf150, and accidentally wheelied it. Oh, to have a picture.. To her credit, she hung on till the front wheel came down.

We took Backbone Trail, and all 3 bikes crashed promptly in the sandy uphill. I crashed the closest to the top, though, so I felt pretty good about it. A couple of guys had only ridden street, and weren’t super comfortable on dirt bikes. For ONCE, I wasn’t the last one in the group, and even among guys! I felt all types of accomplished. Ha. Backbone Trail is sadly completely torn up.

I'm bummed we didn't get any pictures of Heather riding, so we'll have to do it again. It was also her very fist time camping, and she survived and may even do it again. Another city dweller converted. Muahahaha.

To follow: a series of pretty pictures of Southern California Landscape.


Losing Weight - Equipment

I try to do a night of ellipticalling with my friend. It is usually ruined by the following beers calorie-wise, but at least the heart rate goes up for a while. The elliptical is evil. I can treadmil walk/jog/jalk for a while but 2 minutes on elliptical make me want to cry. This must mean it's good for me, so I like the idea of having it done.

I am a member of 24 Hour Fitness, but it is more of a financial benefit to them than a physical one to me. Its easy once you get there. But getting there.. They used to have fantastic Ab/Leg/Body Classes, the first two 30 mins and Body a full hour. They used to be packed. They have discontinued them, and instead there's some silly 15 minute ab stint. I am unimpressed. Anyway, I like ellipticalling with a friend better - makes the time seem shorter if we babble away about purses, work, and people who irritate us.

I also 'dumpstered' some things I thought would promote activity.

Thighmaster. $1 Garage sale in Pacifica. I wasn’t even sure what it was, but now I keep it under the desk at work. I *think* it’s working. I do reps when I’m bored instead of walking down to the vending machine.

Boxing gloves. Garage sale in Costa Mesa. Right after the Rogers-Emelianenko MMA fight, I decided I want to box and wrestle. Really, I just want to occasionally punch things. I went out and got myself an Affliction TShirt at Nordstrom Rack, to feel extra tough, and I am on the lookout for a boxing bag on Craigslist. Just today I found these in someone’s garage.

$8 and I can punch Jesse and the couch. Jesse says it’s nice to get punched with gloves as opposed to my pointy knuckled fists, so it works out. They also had little pads one might wear on their hands to deflect and absorb hits. Whatever that’s called. I may go back for those.

I’m already good at wrestling. I’m wiry and hyper like that. And my complete disregard for ‘manly bits’ makes Jesse nervous enough so I usually win (he's the only person I've had the chance to wrestle, but I'm thinking about raiding school yards and taking on 8 year old bullies as I get better). I also aspire to go introduce myself to 24 Hours' kickboxing class. I doubt it's as gratifying as punching something, but may be I can pick up some moves so I look less like a swimming gerbil when I do it.

The very first acquisition was my Weight Vest. It is awesome. The day I decided I wanted to get serious about working out, a guy at work was talking about his weight vest. I looked it up online, and, of course, it was JUST the thing I needed. Implementing it into your workouts does good things for your strength, endurance, work out intensity, etc.

It just so happens a lady online was selling one. Not just a "weight vest" but a women specific V-Max weight vest. It was the 30lb version, and, of course, I thought I needed the 45-50 lbs version, but would settle, because she was selling it relatively cheap. She wanted $100, she took $50, and it retails for ~$200, nifty sweat liner included. I was excited! I started out with 12lbs. I am now up to 15. It'll be a while before I add another bar in there (comes with removable 2.5 lb weight bars). So, I probably settled well. I wear it ellipticalling, and for fast walks. The idea is to work up to just under 20% of your healthy body weight. It is probably burning calories on my behalf, as I type this, slumped against my living room wall, that's how awesome that thing is.

I just went onto their site to get a photo, and their current slogan is:

Overweight? Lose it fast! How?
Put on a V-Max™ and walk 20 to 30 minutes a day.


BSN Atro Phex Supplements. They are marketed as a mood/energy/weight management system. I call them my crack pills, and really like them.

I won’t ever work up to the cracked out max dosage of 3 pills 3 times a day, but if I take one around 3 o’clock at work, I am still motivated to do active things after work. Froggy, but not jumpy, if that makes any sense. I don’t take them all the time, just on the days I feel especially slow, nappy, and unmotivated. If I take one as late as 4, I can still go to sleep peacefully by 11. Win.

I am 5'6" and a slender build. A couple months ago EVERYTHING, including my sweat pants, stopped fitting, I weighed in at 147. Cutting out a lot of carbs, and occasional ellipticalling/gymming took me to the current 137, and I'm shooting to be between 125 - 135 lbs. I could be there a lot faster if I was less lazy and more strict with the diet.. But I'm not. Ha. :D

It's also probably really vain and shallow but I am waiting to drop another 5 lbs before I do another take on Nora, the Duct Tape Scarecrow #2


Weight Loss - Food

Excercising - I don’t like it. Not one bit. But, ever since Jesse, I got what my girlfriend called a “boyfriend layer”. A boyfriend layer is about 20 pounds of crumpets distributed over my butt, thighs, waist, and arms. It’s odd how little of it goes to you boobs. Go figure. Once everything, including the sweatpants no longer fit, I had to make slight changes to ..everything.

So, the evening crumpets had to go. I have a fruit tart at home right now, but I budget calories for it. I can also have crumpets if there’s gym time on the horizon. I am, however, lazy, and would rather be at home sewing than at a gym. (24 Hour Fitness, you’re welcome for my monthly $20 donation) . Sugar got cut out long time ago, and I find I don’t miss it in the tea. Sometimes, for a strong tea, I put a pinch of Stevia in. I would like to learn to cook with Stevia, but it has a distinct taste and does not have the same heat stability/properties as sugar. I'll put it on the List. I’m a huge fan of sugar free syrup on French toast.

Very simply put, I have to eat less. It used to be that it didn't matter, but after I turned 24-ish, it started mattering. In my natural, undisturbed state, I can easily pack an extra 9000 calories a day just with creme brulee alone. I like full fat everything. I grew up drinking raw eggs and eating lard fried in lard. Cardiac arrest takes a LOT of people in Russia at a fairly young age. Sigh.

I try to replace my portion of pasta dishes with whole wheat pasta. Yes, it requires boiling two pots of water, but as long as all four burners are in working order, it doesn't put me out much. This might be slightly psychotic, but I pick out excess white bread out of rolls, and even some bagels. This only works if you like crusts as much as I do. I've also been known to chew a couple of Doritos and spit them out, but it's nothing I'd admit to in public. Cause that's crazy people talk. And, anyway, people shouldn't leave Doritos on public food tables at work while I'm trying to be good. They should leave carrots and broccoli bits, the dirty critters.

I replaced lunches at work. Good bye In N Out, hello Lean Pockets, or Lean Cuisines, or left overs from a dinner. Jesse has a gallbladder stone issue, where he has to limit the intake of fat per meal, so this helps with my cooking - It might be a Russian thing, but if left ot my own devices, I'd like to fry everything in butter, and douse my lettuce with straight sunflower oil and salt instead of dressing. Having to cook in small bits of olive oil and PAM (yuck) and much less frying of anything has probably been a step in a healthy direction.

I am not a fan of any diets, because they are, by definition, restrictive, and I don't think I could keep one up forever. Or for a week. I subscribe to the very general (Calories In) - (Calories Out) = (My Butt Size) equation theory, where a creme brulee = 5 miles on elliptical. Needless to say, I just don't eat very many creme brullees.

I have also read and appreciates the premises of the Grapefruit diet, and what I got from that is that I eat more graprefuits. This also seems to be working. I try to stock me a bag for the week at work. It hasn't been proven that grapefruit causes more fat burn, so I don't want to dive head first into a strict regimen I'll never be able to keep up (although, if you can, I've heard good things about it). But, it's almost certain that eating a grapefruit burns more fat than eating a bag of vending machine M&M's, what with having to find a pointy spoon and everything.


SoCal Weekends

I get off work at 6. Meh. By the time time I get home it’s too late to even call my mom in Chicago. And it’s dark. It seems like I only have a couple hours a day for anything, so I love weekends.

In SoCal, weekends are pretty much always perfect. It’s usually warm and sunny in the midday, and cool on mornings and evenings. It rains rarely, and when it does, it reminds me of Chicago, and makes me happy. It also pushes on the dust in the desert and I think about all the good dirtbiking that can be done. We haven’t gone dirtbiking since our bi-annual Moab, Utah trip, so I’m itching to go.

Last weekend we went up to Laguna Beach, see if any dumpstering can be done (a.k.a garage saling), but failed, since we got a really late start. We stopped at a few places, but nothing exciting.

Except may be this dress

But not really

Too small. I don't know how cute it is for an almost 30 year old to run around in a tiny Strawberry Shortcake dress. Probably a lot less cute than it is in my head, and, even then, I'm not picturing a 10.

One chick having a sale told us about the ‘crazy people that showed up at 6:30 for her 7am sale’. I nodded sympathetically, and heard Jesse snickering. In our defence, we’ve never shown up early, but have been known to hit an estate sale at 8am on the dot. But only a couple times. The lady also had an antique chair I entertained wanting..but decided I’ll hold out for something truly spectacular. My step mom has a round one, with mangos and flowers carved in the back. Something like that, to feed my chair fetish. I doubt Jesse will let me drag yet another chair home anyway, so there was also that.

Mask. Cute. $5. Meh.

We went to a work wedding Saturday night. I don't really like weddings - specifically, I don't like the long, drawn out ones where people start to get restless. Anyone see the Friends episode where Chandler kept calling their upcoming wedding a 'party' and almost got univinted? Jesse and I left early to get to watch Rogers-Emelianenko fight, so we never got to cake cutting, but it was lovely. The bride sang, and my *other date* was hot:

We also ventured to San Clemente. There are a couple shops I like to visit. One of them had a beautiful motorcycle. It was $1200, and the owner kept going lower with it. It was red, shiny, and pretty. I really, really wanted it, until Jesse reminded me it was everything wrong. Too new. Too big. Too wide. Too much power. Sigh. I almost pictured us riding around Laguna Beach. Well, me riding, and Jesse on the back. He wasn’t about this idea at all. Men.

The other shop is an Assitance League shop, and they've expanded, they used to be a lot more of a thrift shop, and now they’re leaning towards an antique/collectible shop. So, a lot more china and lamps. We were looking for a cabinet to go below our TV and hold cables, cable boxes, Wii, Dvd’s. I liked a glass door cabinet full of teacups, but it wasn’t for sale. Then Jesse eyeballed this one:

Initially, I only saw the back of it and it looked uneventful. It had heaps stacked on top and we had to pull it out. Then I saw the front. Water lillies? Birds?! Yes, please. It had an un-thrift store price of $140, so I talked the guy into $100 and I have the usual view of Jesse loading something in the back of the truck for my catalogues. Ha.

It’s really well made (Jesse tells me) and oh, so pretty. It holds everything beautifully, and its low profile makes it fit perfectly in the living room. Win.

Up at Dana point, Right above Capo Beach is a little park right on the cliff. There are benches, and for our entertainment, there were 3 people practicing rope walking.

Pretty awesome. I’ll add this to the List. Right now I can’t balance on large fallen tree trunks, but I am pretty hopeful. We hung out in the park, and on the cliffs, wondered how much trouble you’d get in if you mud slid your way down to the Pacific Coast Highway. There are some precariously positioned houses on the hill, one rain away from losing a backyard or a balcony. My aunt Diane lives down in Capo Beach below. It’s amazing that you can hear the waves so far up the hill almost as clear as you can at her house.

I thought briefly about going down to the beach and actually going in the water, but I remembered that it’s inevitably windy at water’s edge, and the water is pretty cold. One of these days, though, I’ll rock my 4mm wetsuit and go pretend surfing. (Where I pretend I know how to surf, get my ass handed to me a few times, swallow some sand, filter some water, entertain some fish, and go home wrecked, but feeling accomplished.)

And, the 'piece' looks fabulous in the living room. Jesse drilled a hole through the back, the wires are to be hidden there, all the boxes fit, DVD's, games. I'm so pleased!