Scrub the Chub

In an effort to keep myself honest, I’m going to post my weight loss stats here.

Starting Weight:    190 lbs. (ugh! although I’ve been told I carry it well, everybody thinks I’m at least 20 lbs. lighter than I really am)

Chest:  43″ (braless measure because my bras make this measurement vary)

Waist:  36.5″

Hips:  46.5″

I will weigh myself weekly and post the results, probably in the sidebar.

It All Comes Back Around

Black Belt

After suspending my training almost a year ago, not a day has passed that I haven’t thought of Tae Kwon Do.  I would find myself performing a poomsae or kicks while waiting for water to boil on the stove, I’d stare at the mirror and practice punches and blocks.

It’s undeniable, Tae Kwon Do has become part of me, part of who I am.   Grandmaster was right, once a Black Belt, always a Black Belt.

So what do I do with this knowledge?  Do I practice on my own, fine tuning what I have already learned?

No.

What I did was contact one of my instructors and let her know that I’m ready to come back to training.  I’m not going to be there 3-4 nights a week plus a private lesson and instructorship training.  I’m just going to class two days a week to train, and that’s it.

While I’m a bit embarrased with the weight I gained while on hiatus (I did no training/exercise of any sort.   NONE!), I’m excited to be going back.  Returning to the dojang has given me the motivation to get off my ever expanding ass and get my shit in order.  My diet is no longer slapdash and unstructured, I’m following a Zone-ish plan (very similar to BFL but a bit more relaxed and less gag-inducing protein shakes and rubberized chicken), and I’ve started doing pilates at home in order to get myself ready for P90X.

Big plans for self-improvement is in the works, I just need to pace myself so I don’t burn myself out before I get really started.

It’s interesting.  Since I left Tae Kwon Do I’ve been carrying around this restless feeling, like I forgot something.  Turns out it was that feeling of not-finishing my training that has haunted me.

Coming back to where I think I belong feels good.

Skating is Life

As I sit in the cold metal stands watching my daughter’s skating lesson I realize that she is learning much more than skating out on the ice.  She’s developing tools that will help her succeed as she grows as a person as well.

Becca's Skates

Balance is one of the first things she learns.  Finding her center, figuring out how much she can lean forward and backward without falling over.  Standing her ground amid the flurry of skaters she learns how to stand on her own and not let others intimidate her, yet she is still courteous – letting the skater performing a run-through of her program ample room to execute her pattern and elements.

After balance comes control.  Skate too slow and she doesn’t have the momentum to execute a jump or direction change well.  Too fast and she is suddenly past the limits of her ability and becomes a danger to herself and others.  Control is knowing when to slow down and when to speed up and finding that sweet spot where everything works as it should.

As she masters balance and control she gains confidence.  With this confidence comes the desire to try new things, even if they seem scary or downright impossible.  Confidence is not expecting to do everything perfectly the first time, but it is having the knowledge that with proper instruction and practice her abilities will develop and she will make the most of the talent she possesses.  Having this confidence also means that she will take criticism well and use it to improve her performance.

With repetition and additional exercise she develops flexibility.  She can extend herself to get the most out of her performance and she can stretch until she can attain what was once out of her reach.  She can also adapt to different rinks and ice conditions without it throwing her entirely off her game.

The last and most important thing she learns is perseverance.  Learning how to skate means falling.  Often. Every time she falls, she must get back up again.  Giving up isn’t an option.  Her program needs to be seen through to the end.  She will fall 10, 20, 30 times before finally landing a new jump, but she will learn it.  She will learn how to shake off the bumps and bruises she acquires along the way, knowing that if she sticks it out she will have expanded her body of knowledge and will be proud of the fact that she stuck it out and learned something new instead of giving up and always wondering, “What if?”.

Sometimes she doesn’t want to go to the rink.  Sometimes she would like more free time, but what she is learning on the ice is invaluable and they are skills that will help her be successful not just in skating, but in life.

Of Babies and Blankets

Way back in August my cousin had her second child, a girl, born with the best birthdate ever (8/9/10)!

Soon after I started a blanket with the intention of giving it to her for the colder months.  Well here it is December already and I’m not quite done.

Because this blanket is HUGE!  The pattern I used, a Catherine Wheel crochet stitch pattern is based on a 10 stitch repeat.  At this point I don’t remember how many stitches were in the starting chain – 80?  100?  150? More?

All I know is that this can not be referred to as a baby blanket.  This is more like a toddler blanket, a small afghan really.  I’ve worked on it nearly exclusively while sitting at the cold ice rink while my daughter has her lessons.  If I had to estimate I would say it’s about 80% done.  Yet I probably need about 10 more hours on this thing until I’m satisfied with the proportions.  It is large enough to keep my entire lower half warm while I work on it.

I’m switching colors every two rows and each row takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on attention level.  Because of the multiple colors it has strong horizontal lines and the blanket is worked from the bottom up, so to speak.  Right now it is wider than it is tall.  I need to keep going until it is at least square for my symmetry-loving brain to deem it acceptable for gifting.

Fiber snobs, sheild your eyes, for I have made this out of soft baby-melting acrylic.  Chances are quite high that this blanket will be peed on, pooped on, spit up on, spilled on, dragged on the ground, etc.  It needs to be durable and washable, and it needed to cost less than a car payment to make.

Romy's Blanket
I’ve kept it under wraps for quite some time, but I’m giving you all a sneak peek.  As soon as it is 100% complete (and gifted) I will post a photograph of it in all it’s glory.  The colors remind me of an ice cream parlor and I love how the pattern has a bit of a 70’s retro feel to it.

Hopefully my cousin will like it.

Apple Picking at Shafer Orchards

Every year in September we travel up to Michigan with friends to pick apples at Shafer Orchards.  We’ve done this as a tradition for quite a few years, sometimes squeezing in a few wine tastings at the local wineries.  This year the weather was chilly and rainy, the perfect weather for apple picking!

BarnThe barn at Shafer Orchards

As usual, the Shafer family is friendly and welcoming, showing us where the best apples are.

ShaferMr. Shafer leading the way

Since I am interested in using the apples mainly for baking, I stick to the variety that works best and is in season, Golden Delicious.

GoldenDelicious

For a reason I can’t quite figure out, my husband is a big fan of Red Delicious apples so a few of those go in the bag as well.  Since the Jonathan and Jonagold apples are also in season, we snag a few of those for snacking.  After filling the bag halfway I swear that I am going to source actual wooden bushels for use next year, I think the bags encourage bruising and they tend to roll around in the trunk more often.

Upon arrival, Mr. Shafer made the “mistake” of showing one member of our party where to find a variety called Molly’s Delicious.  I’m in the mood for a snack so I pick one off the tree, take a bite, and…

…Oh. My. Goodness!  It’s like candy that grows on trees.  Molly’s Delicious is the best tasting apple I have ever had.  It’s crisp and sweet and the skin is delicate.  If you can find a source for them in your area, I encourage you to try them at least once.

RedDelicious3Red Delicious apple trees

After picking a bushel and a half of apples (three bags) we are done and head out.  Before leaving I also pick up two acorn squash and some honey from a little “farm” down the road.

Our group heads down to the home of FloraLia honey and it is my idea of paradise.

There are goats:

GoatsOne of these guys tried to eat my pigtails when I pet him

and llamas:

LlamaThe brown one does not look happy!

and chickens:

ChickensChickens2
and turkeys:

Turkeys

and everything is slightly messy in the most charming of ways.  It’s like discovering a little fairy garden in the middle of the vineyard.

After our traditional dinner of pizza, we head home and I’m rendered speechless by the technicolor sunset.  What a beautiful end to a day that started out cold and rainy!  I snapped some pictures from the passenger seat and I just had to share:

Sunset1

Sunset2

Sunset5
So, what did you do this weekend?

Attack of the Pear Tomatoes!

When planning my vegetable garden for this year I took quite a few things into account:  the spacing, companion planting, old standbys and new varieties I wanted to try.  Tomatoes are a fun place to put this into practice because they can often be full of surprises.  Last year I caged and staked my Brandywine and Early Girls and had Arkansas Traveler, Mr. Stripey, and Super Sweet 100 on the trellis.  The trellis worked so well I decided to go that route for all my tomatoes this year.

Unfortunately for me I seemed to have amnesia regarding how big and sprawling certain plants can get.  Add that to just not knowing how a certain variety grows because I haven’t grown it before and you have my current situation with my Yellow Pear Tomatoes.  On one five foot wide trellis I have Brandywine and Roma Italia, both of which are doing fairly well (save the blossom end rot on some of my Romas – do they need more calcium than other varieties?).  The other trellis of the same size I have Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, Super Sweet 100 and Yellow Pear tomatoes.

The Yellow Pear Tomatoes have decided they are taking over.  Due to excessive rain early in the season, I couldn’t get out often early in the growing season to prune.  In the past, I haven’t pruned much and never ran into problems.  This year the Yellow Pear tomatoes have grown up (like they should) and over my other tomatoes to the point where the other plants look like they are wearing a blanket made up of the single pear tomato plant.  Is this a usual growth habit of these small fruit tomatoes or do I have some sort of super plant on my hands.  In fact, the other day I was harvesting and this is what I got in ONE harvest:

Pear Tomatoes

The crazy thing is, just two days prior I had harvested about the same amount from the same plant.  It truly is a ridiculous amount for a family of four.  So I acted as the generous neighbor and knocked on the door next door and offered them up.  I felt it was only fair considering her husband and youngest son helped me fill the beds in the spring.  They’ve also been beneficiaries of my cucumbers as well.

Speaking of ridiculous, this was my complete harvest from last week:

Weekly Harvest 8.13.2010

A lot got given away (some cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and the smaller squash), and a few others were frozen and I still have to find time to shred the baseball bat sized zucchini.

Those orange things on the table?  Why yes, they are pumpkins harvested in August, why do you ask?  Twelve pumpkins from one vine.  TWELVE!  One followed by a two.  I need to research how to prepare these for the pies they are destined to become.  Did you see how many tomatoes I have there?  Some are going to be crushed and frozen, others eaten straight up.

I think I need a nametag that says “Lazy Gardener” because I’m not canning anything at all this year.  There is, sadly, a lack of time.  More tragic is the lack of motivation.

One thing that this abundance has taught me is to be judicious in what I plant and how many.  The past two years have been planting to see if it grew.  Next year, I’m only planting what we are sure to eat.  I will probably try planting watermelon again after two solid years of failure.  My mini-cantaloupe spit out one melon (no more on the horizon), and the watermelon spit out one that I need to pick and see if it’s even edible.  I planted Sugar Baby and the melon I have is mini, even for that variety.  The one more successful melon has been the enigmatically named Green Melon.  Not sure if it is named for the color of its rind or flesh (or both).  I have a decent sized melon on the vine and the plant seems to be thriving, spreading nicely on the trellis.  The watermelon looked like it could barely keep it’s own leaves alive let alone a melon or two.  And I may pass on the broccoli and cauliflower next year.  The cauliflower did nothing and the ratio of edibility to plant size of the broccoli isn’t small enough to make it worth my while.

For growing a fully organic garden, I couldn’t have been happier.  I’m lazy enough to not care when I lose a plant or three and tend to choose varieties that don’t need coddling.  The fun starts in November or so when there is snow on the ground and I start planning for next year.

What a Pickle!

I was in the garden trying to establish boundaries for my vine plants – unsuccessfully I might add, there is a pumpkin in my zucchini patch, up and OVER the garden path – I spied this huge guy lurking in with my pickles and cucumbers.

What A Pickle!

How did I not see him before today?  And does anyone else have a craving for a deli pickle about now?