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Archive for September, 2012

Getting into Shape

People always think, to get into shape, to exercise, to lose weight, that they have to spend money for special foods, special clothing, special classes, special exercises, whatever. For those on a limited income or no time to invest in all the exercise industry madness, it makes them feel hopeless when they have excess weight.

Guess what? It’s a bunch of bunk. You can lose weight if you really *want* to by just counting calories, watching what you eat, making smart balanced choices, and increasing your own physical activity in every day life.

I currently work as a Government Analyst for the State of CA in Sacramento. I’ve only worked for the State for 3 & 1/2 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry in a variety of positions after my divorce, as I did before I had children. I stayed home with my kids for 20 years, mainly because *I* wanted to raise them as opposed to have someone else do it. I was lucky to be able to do so which was also good for the various health issues my children had. My reason however for stating this is to say that prior to working for the government I worked in private industry. During the 5 years prior to getting my current job, I was laid off 3 different times – the last time during which Roy was also laid off, we ended up with no health insurance, an upside down mortgage in the SF Bay area, and massive health issues.

It’s not been a fun few years in this awful socio-economic and political climate to climb out of a financial and emotional hole, particularly when the money isn’t there to buy what people like to think of as “health food”.

*ANYTHING* can be healthy if eaten in the correct quantities. For me, when my life went to hell, I ate like crazy and packed on pounds, as I tend to be a “stress eater” or a “comfort eater”. However, I decided I’d had absolutely enough of it when I ended up weighing more than I did when hugely pregnant with my almost-10-lb-at-birth oldest son.

I don’t however right now have the available cash for gym memberships or “health foods” or that sort of thing. I was then aimed at a marvelous calorie and exercise tracking free online program by my awesome 23 year old baby girl, Kara (who I wish I weighed as much as but I’ll get there).

Anyway, even on my limited depressed income, by making smart choices and limiting my intake and tracking what I eat, I’ve lost 50 lbs and will finish my goal due to the positive support and feedback.

I had originally hoped to lose this much by the middle of April 2013 when we have a Hawaiian cruise scheduled for our 5th anniversary. I’d started May 1, 2012 and thought a year would be a good goal.

I lost my first 20 in exactly 1 month though and was instantly excited. Maybe I could lose it by Valentine’s Day 2013!!! I lost 15 more by the end of 2 months then and totally re-set my goals.

Now I’m not stupid. I know it’s harder and slower as time goes but I figured after losing 35, I could lose 50 maybe by my wedding anniversary, which is Nov 23. So I set it for then and aimed for my college weight (20 more to lose) by the cruise. I just hit 50, almost 2 months early!

I’m not sure what my new goals are yet but I’m proud of myself. I plan my meals. I eat right. I exercise by walking, using everyday items for increasing strength (exercise bands are good but soup cans work too), playing with the dog, climbing stairs, exercising every night at home, etc.

Don’t fall into the exercise, health, and fitness industry hype. The average person doesn’t have to. I’m proof of it.

… posted via WordPress for BlackBerry …

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People make me laugh.  Most of them, I like.  Some of them are just so ridiculous that I don’t even know how to explain it, other than I don’t think that emotionally they ever got past being pre-teens/early teenagers, because they act like they’re in the 7th grade.

Take this week for example.  I’ve had a bear of a schedule at work, which is fine.  I can deal with it and carry on, but it means changing my schedule for going to work and coming home.  For short term projects, it’s fine, but I’ll admit that it’s hard on the body.

I’ve been getting up at 4:00 AM.  That in and of itself isn’t that big a deal as I usually get up at 4:15 AM, but it’s so that I can catch an earlier-than-normal commuter bus.  I travel from the Sierra foothills (outside of Placerville to be exact) to Sacramento to work during the week.  My schedule is 7:00 AM to 4:30 PM with every other Monday off.  Essentially, I work a “9/80” work plan, where I work 80 hours in 9 working days.  That means I get every other Monday off in a normal world.  I take a commuter bus so that I don’t have to mess with traffic.  It’s also easy and comfortable (it’s the big coaches and not the old school bus type).  The drivers are great.  Most of the riders are like me, going into work and just dealing with the odd hours.  The bus I normally take leaves at 5:30 AM and gets me to work by 6:45 AM usually, so that I can get my coffee, etc, before I start for the day at 7:00 AM.  It works great.

I’ve had a huge project that is coming to an end right now, and so for the last couple of weeks, I’ve had to work a lot of overtime.  As I said, however, for short term, it’s ok.  This means though that I must get up 15 minutes earlier and drive to a further bus station to catch a slightly earlier bus that leaves at 5:20 AM so that I can get to work by 6:30 AM.  Ok, so no big deal, I can handle that.

However, I have apparently messed with 3 of the riders on this particular different bus just by the fact of my being there as I am not one of the “regulars” on the bus.  I have gotten to the bus and parked each day, getting on with the others lined up.  The bus comes from the “Central Office” where a few people get on also.  There’s someone on the bus that seems to want to know who everyone is and what their business is.  I’ve never cared to tell each and every person I see what precisely my business is, other than in pretty general terms, unless I’m writing it down like this and in control of what I say and do.  I could tell right up front, however, that she didn’t like the fact that someone “new” was on the bus (of course, I’ve been riding these for a couple of years but whatever) and sitting in a seat that didn’t “belong” to me … as it apparently “belongs” to one of her buddies.  There must be seat assignments and boarding passes.  At least I can tell that there is seat ownership assumed here.  I guess I’m not part of the “In Crowd” or the “Popular Kids” or the “Cool Kids” or whatever term you want to use for it.

My first reaction was to ignore it.  Whatever.  My family moved a lot when I was a kid.  My father was a corporate transferee, and we lived in various places around the United States while I was growing up.  It made me very adaptable and able to fit in and/or handle most any kind of person.  So when I saw her “look”:  I knew.

I’m the “new kid” again and the “cool kids” didn’t like it.  I’ve never been one to want to just “fit into the crowd” and “play by the book” and “be in the box”.  I’ve talked about this before.  It’s amazing to me, however, that even BUS RIDERS can get into cliques like the 7th grade.  It made me laugh.

I have found over the years that generally just ignoring it and being friendly and not falling into the “clique” mentality is what works best.  They don’t like it if they think that you aren’t concerned with what they do or who they are.  I can be friendly and talk to anyone from my years of moving around.  Besides, I work for the government in a highly politicized area (unemployment insurance, to be exact) in the hub of the State Capitol.  I know how to handle political games.  I’ve gotten good at it over the years.  It will usually go one of two ways when this sort of thing happens.  It didn’t fail, but this time it went the dumber way of the two – the way that doesn’t happen as much with true “adults”, but I guess this group likes the way it was in school.

I don’t.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy having fun.  I will never truly “grow up”.  However, I’ve gotten past the pettiness of junior high school games.  It amazes me the people that haven’t.  I just don’t like the way it was in school when I was 13.

In any event, I’ve gotten on the bus the past several days and sat down in a seat that works well for me.  I’m a tall woman with long legs (5’10” to be exact) and leg room on a bus, airplane, wherever can be very painful when not enough.  That’s a different topic.  There are only a few seats on this bus that have good leg room, so I like to get on early enough to make sure that the hour ride into Sacramento isn’t uncomfortable, since I generally get on and sleep in the morning until I get to my stop.  Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I don’t get all tied in knots if it doesn’t.  Life goes on.  Who cares?  I can’t get worked into knots over something as simple as that.  Anyway, I’ve been getting into that seat and putting on earphones to listen to music and dozing, which is my routine on the bus in the morning (like it is for the vast majority of people).

There’s been a lady in front of me (lady is a term I use loosely … she acts like an adolescent) that seems to like to take a bath in perfume each morning (another middle school trait).  She is also a busy-body, needing to know everyone’s name and what precisely their business is.  She acts like the bus “room mom” or “teacher’s pet”.  She hasn’t liked it that I don’t get on at 5:20 AM to “chat”.  I’m tired and I have to work right now from 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM or later.  I won’t get home until probably 7:00 PM at the EARLIEST.  I just want to doze.  I don’t get enough time at home to sleep more than about 6½ hours when I’m on this kind of schedule.  I want to DOZE.

That, apparently, was the first thing that messed with her mind.  I’m not playing by her “rules of the bus”, I guess.  I also sat in the seat right behind her.  Apparently that seat is usually used by another woman that likes to chat with her every morning.  (Refer back to “seat ownership” and “seat assignments” and “boarding passes”.)  I was totally unaware of their “bus rules” but have never felt the need to worry about that sort of thing.  Again, apparently, that messed with her mind also.  I changed the “feng shui” of the bus, I suppose.  Whatever.  I know I’m only going to be on it for this week, and then I’ll be back to my normal bus with normal people on it.

However, I guess I was too much of a rock tossed in their little pond.  Today when I got on, a man that gets on at the first stop was sitting in the seat I had used for this week.  Fine.  Whatever.  I can survive and sit elsewhere.  “Room Mom/Perfume Lady” was sitting in front of that seat, as usual, talking with him.  Whatever.  As I walked past the seats, they both looked up and giggled.

7th grade

“Giggly Man” watched me sit down; looked down the bus aisle; and saw their friend getting on the bus behind me who apparently “owns” that seat (I’ll just call her “Seat Owner”).  He then stood up and sat across the aisle from them in “his” seat saying “I just wanted to let you know that story” so she could sit in hers.  All 3 of them giggled and then looked at me.  “Room Mom” giggled again and asked, “Are you new here?”  Now … think of it this way … they are *all* in their 40s or 50s.

7th grade

I smiled at them … and didn’t say a word.  I put on my headphones and did my usual routine.  At that point, they started huffing and whispering amongst themselves.

I guess I am supposed to follow their rules of the bus better.  Hmmm.  I have to take the same bus tomorrow so I can get to work early (and leave at 6:00 PM, by the way, so it’s a very long day to have to put up with adolescent games).  I guess I am supposed to look for boarding passes and seat assignments. 

If the 3 Musketeers do it again, maybe I should sit in the seat that “Giggly Man” owns.  More than likely, I’ll just ignore them again.  That generally works the best for adolescent games, because they want to think they’ve inconvenienced you.  I don’t need to be part of the “In Crowd” nor do I need to be accepted *or* hated by them.  At that time of the morning, I just need to sleep.

Cliques and Sheeple are all over the place …

7th grade

I graduated from the 7th grade already.  Some people haven’t.

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I talked about my chicken stock the other day (or turkey etc). For those of you that get my blog by email, you probably got a shortened post because I hit “publish” accidentally before I was done so now you’ll have to actually go to my blog and see the complete post. Hey, I’ve got to keep you all on your toes, you know?

Anywho … here’s what it looked like last time being ladled through a funnel into a quart jar out of the crockpot. I’d already removed most of the meat etc. I always leave in some meat for flavor though.

So … here ya go …

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Making My Own Chicken Stock:

I have a big freezer to store extra food or basics for making meals. It’s a great thing to have when low on time or money. I like to cook … and my favorite cooking is basic down-to-earth/salt-of-the-earth kinds of food, which you can generally store for other meals when you’re broke or short on time. I can *do* more exotic things and sometimes I like to (fancy desserts, meals, etc – essentially anything from homemade macaroni & cheese to Baked Alaska).

My friends however like to come for my homemade tomato sauce (I currently have almost 100 qts I recently made), jams, chile, refried beans, spaghetti sauce, casseroles, and so on & so forth. I think I’m proudest though of my homemade turkey & chicken stocks.

Buying chicken broth (or turkey or beef) can be expensive … as well as full of sodium and other “preservatives” that really aren’t that good for you. Additionally, buying meat at the store can prove very expensive if you want it in bulk.

One of the best ways we’ve gotten around this is by investing in some quart size canning jars (although you don’t have to have those to do this – old pickle jars, jelly jars, plastic containers, etc work just fine). When we find a deal on whole chickens, turkey, or some good beef cut with a good bone in it, we will buy what we can afford at the time and freeze them if I don’t have time right then for later use. Otherwise, I’ll cook whatever it is it as soon as I’m home.

To do this, you simply need either a crockpot, slow cooker, or just a big deep pot to stick on the stove. Put the meat in the pot and cover with water. Some people will season it as it cooks. I do not, only because when I use it later in recipes, the flavors change, depending on what I’m making then. After putting it in a pot of water, cook until the meat is falling off the bone. I will generally simmer it at least 12-18 hours. You just have to watch and add water off-and-on as it boils/steams away.

What’s good about this is … it’s cooked very slowly so you can do other things at the same time. If you have a crockpot, you can do chicken or beef and go out even. (Now most crockpots won’t fit a turkey so if you’re doing that, you’ll need a large pot on the stove, so that means someone needs to supervise it, but “supervising” only means here “making sure the stove doesn’t catch the house on fire”.)

🙂

Anyway, boil till the meat falls off the bone. Let it cool. Peel all meat away and store for use in other recipes, like chicken pot pie or shredded chicken for sandwiches, tacos, and barbeque, etc. You can freeze it or cook it into something immediately. Leave some meat in the stock and then put the broth into the jars (or whatever containers you’re using), being careful not to burn yourself (she says, remembering from *way* too much experience). Leave enough room for expansion when it’s frozen (an inch or two). Let the jars cool and then freeze.

This way, when you need soup stock for a recipe, you don’t have to buy overly processed salty stock. It’s healthier and tastier … & best yet … *cheaper*.

Bouillon cubes and canned broths can’t match it. Period. Try it. I do it yearly with my Thanksgiving turkey carcass too. However … any meats will work.

Happy eating! Happy cooking!

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Roy’s past employment history is widely varied, as he has always been good at doing what needs to be done when it comes to earning money.  That said, this is why we are working on building our own personal business, as it won’t be as dependent on the political and economic ups-and-downs.  We’ve both been laid off jobs, & we’d rather work for our own dream and our own business rather than be a slave (or prisoner) to someone else’s business and dream.  That’s a different topic … or … you can always ask me directly.

Careers are something most “sheeple” define themselves by.  “I’m a butcher.  I’m a baker.  I’m a candlestick maker.  I’m a doctor.  I’m a lawyer.  I’m an Indian Chief.”  Well, Roy has been in broadcasting, security, entertainment, hotel work, and window construction … among other things.  You do what you have to do when it comes to making money.  No one else is going to work as hard for you or take care of you as much as you (and hopefully your spouse).

Careers to us however are no fun whatsoever.  We both have personalities that are too diverse for that.  For example, I like to cook, read, and can veggies and fruits.  I enjoy politics.  I like rollercoasters.  I like that I live in the boonies.  I like Broadway shows … but I live in the forest.  I like very spicy food.  I like to sing and dance even though I’m terrible at both (my daughter is great at it).  I like good coffee (it runs in my veins).  I thoroughly enjoy a great practical joke.  I *love* it when Roy makes me feel like a princess.  I love that I can be independent and fend for myself, no matter what is going on.  I thoroughly enjoy a good debate.  I will fight hard for my beliefs and I have a will and backbone of iron.  I love my kitty cats and my dog.  I *LOVE* my children … all 3 of them … even as varied as they are (and at the same time, even while they can drive me NUTS at times).  Those are just a few of the things that define who I am, but none of them on their own define me.  For a “career”, I’ve had various.  Currently, I’m a government analyst for the State of California on Capitol Mall in Sacramento.  None of these totally “define” me, however.  I’d rather not have to get up at 415am each workday.  I’d rather be out working for my passions.

Roy too has had many different jobs/careers, as indicated above.  Those don’t even cover 1/2 of the things he’s done.  What most people would consider his “career” however is radio broadcasting.  Even that isn’t his passion.  He too, like me, has his own passions that have nothing to do with his “career”.  He likes to camp.  He likes to ride motorcycles.  He loves our pets.  He is an audio-phile.  He enjoys a good political debate.  He likes to take cruises. (Actually, we both do … but that’s another topic I’ll talk about sometime or another.)  He loves the peace and quiet of the mountains and he likes to be able to crank up the music on his DJ system loud at times.  He loves blueberries and lobster (being raised in Maine, that’s like a “well, duhhhh” …).  He’s learning to like some spicy food from me after moving to California.  None of these things completely define him.  Quite honestly, “radio broadcaster” doesn’t either.  This was the industry that was his “career” however, but it has changed away from its creative roots to corporate control.  He *doesn’t* like that aspect of things.

That’s the problem with careers.  They put too much control on the individual.  If they change, they want you to march right along with them.  We’re not good at that.  They make Roy and me feel boxed in, and we don’t fit in boxes, like I’ve said before.  We’re both too independent.  Heck, I was ranting the other day via text to Logan (my oldest son) about how I don’t fit into the government employee mentality.  He knows me all too well, particularly when he texted back to me almost immediately after my rant, stating, “I don’t think you fit in, in too many places.”  That’s true of both Roy and me.  (That’s true of my children also, for that matter.)  Nevertheless, as Roy has said many times, a particular Christmas movie that we love to watch every year fits us.  We most definitely fit in the “Land of The Misfit Toys”.  We *are* misfit toys.

Back to the topic at hand however: Roy’s “career” background (again – blech on “careers”) is in broadcasting as an On-Air Radio Personality/DJ.  He loved it and is great at it.  He was a radio broadcaster for over 25 years, having started when he was in high school … but the way the government now controls it and the way the corporate world has stifled individual creativity caused him to exit the industry gracefully (at least for the time being, but he, like me, always reserves the ability to change his mind at any time if it seems to be the right thing to do).  He now runs his own mobile DJ business (along with our other at-home business) and at times may be involved in very special radio projects that aren’t so boxed and structured.

So why the long round-about?  Perhaps the reason so many people don’t experience the highs-and-lows in life that Roy and I have encountered is that they live very small little sheltered lives, too afraid of failure.   They also don’t know how to change course when obstacles are put in their paths.  While we may have endured some major life setbacks, failures, and heartbreak, our feeling is that those that lead “safe” lives  & never experience much of the bad in life and the failures of life by avoiding the lows also never know those awesome and amazing highs that are out there waiting for someone to pursue them.

Many songs herald this.  One of them is what we might call one of our many “theme songs”.

“Well, I won’t back down.  No, I won’t back down.  You could stand me up at the Gates of Hell, but I WON’T BACK DOWN.”  Tom Petty

So using Roy’s broadcasting background, we’ll end with this:

Get out there and broadcast yourself.

Go after it.

Yell out your individuality.

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This has got to be one the best “untold 9-11 stories” yet.  It brought tears to my eyes, thinking about the terror they must have experienced.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18lsxFcDrjo&sns=fb

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