Friday, November 11, 2011

Running on empty

So some idiot (me) forgot to set the alarm clock last night and woke up late. Not as late as I’ve slept in at times. I can sleep 12 hours if I have nowhere to go. I jumped out of bed, threw on my clothes, grabbed my lunch, and ran to the car. No time to make a shake this morning, but I did grab a sugar-free, fat-free latte. Only later did I realize that if I had time to grab the latte, I had time to make a shake. Duh!

Of course that shoved my day off kilter. To compensate, I had lunch promptly at noon. I finally opened the Trader Joe’s tapas cheese sampler of three Spanish cheeses I can’t pronounce, accompanied by low-fat salami. Quite tasty. The cheese is very bold, and I like a full-flavored cheese. But I only managed 2 triangles of cheese and 2 salami slices before everything got stuck. No need to tell you what happened next.

While my food consumption hasn’t been ideal today, I’m glad that nothing inappropriate to losing weight has passed my lips. I’ll just hold off snack time with lots of coffee.

This weekend has me setting up the coffee for my writers group and putting it all away, including hauling big containers into the garage. That’s always good for burning off calories.

Saturday is also my wedding anniversary, and I’ll be spending that at my husband’s bedside in the nursing home. I had hoped to sneak in some champagne, but lately he’s been having some stomach issues, so I don’t want to risk it. Twenty-three years ago we had a kick-ass honeymoon in San Francisco, and we’ll remember that.

See you next week.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My kitchen is looking like a café

I now have more syrup than Starbucks. It’s true. I found a new source for Torani sugar-free syrup and went a little crazy. These syrups are great for many things, including making my morning protein shake a little more tolerable, and for flavoring my Tassimo lattes and cappuccinos.

Cost Plus World Market usually carries a pretty decent selection, and sometimes they’re on sale for less than $6 a bottle. Over the past few months I’ve purchased chocolate, French vanilla, pumpkin spice, caramel, raspberry, hazelnut, cinnamon-brown sugar, peppermint, and English toffee. And each one has a pump installed, just like the coffeehouses. Recently I added peach and lime, but haven’t used them in shakes or lattes yet.

I use the chocolate syrup a lot because, well, it’s chocolate. I bought a 3-pack at Amazon and it’s almost gone.

Torani’s site showed me that the bottles are available at Smart & Final, and there’s one just down the street. I stopped in after work and was amazed to find the sugar-free syrup available in just about every flavor Torani offers. Not only that, but if you buy 6 bottles, they’re only $3.99 each. I picked up more chocolate and raspberry, plus coffee, almond, mango, and black cherry.

I put the coffee flavor to work in my morning shake. Four pumps (1 ounce), plus about a tablespoon of instant espresso in my 50g protein vanilla shake gave it a nice latte flavor. I have some rum extract used for baking, and I think a few drops of that might give the shake a Kahlua flavor. I have a mango-peach flavored protein powder that will be augmented by my mango and peach syrups in coming days.

I make my own sugar-free pumpkin lattes that you can’t get at Starbucks. An ounce of syrup, a double latte, a dollop of whipped cream, and a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice.

I make a similar one with chocolate instead, and I sprinkle grated baker’s chocolate on top. Another great topping is one from Trader Joe’s that has sugar crystals, coffee beans, and chocolate in a container that grinds it over your drink.

My daughter pours a little half-and-half and a little syrup into a glass and tops it with sparking water to make Italian-style sodas like they serve at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  

I will be quite the mad scientist in the kitchen as I perfect my morning shake recipes. And you can bet that I’ll write about them.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sometimes you just have to get dirty

My bathroom sink was stopped up for a couple of days. What I really needed to do was remove the trap and clean it out, but that seemed too hard. I have all the tools, but I’d have to clean out the cabinet, find a bucket, unhook the trap, and clean. I wanted to fix it without getting dirty.

So first I tried the plunger. All I got was air shooting through the overflow holes and the water just taunting me with its stillness.

Next up, I snapped off a long piece from a plastic clothes hanger. The stiff plastic slid down the drain, but when it hit the bend in the sink trap, it stopped.

Another stoppage remedy I’ve heard of is pouring baking soda down the drain, then pouring in vinegar. The chemical reaction is supposed to loosen up clogs and dissolve them down the drain. So into the kitchen for our industrial size baking soda. I poured about a cup down the drain, which was now full of baking soda. I suspect it’s not supposed to have that much. Then I went for the vinegar, and saw that I have all kinds of fancy vinegars—balsamic, rice, wine—that no way was I going to pour down the sink. I discovered a bottle of cleaning vinegar I got a Target some time ago. I had expected the cleaning vinegar to be extra strength, but in fact it’s weaker than the stuff for cooking. I poured the whole bottle down the drain and got a spectacular foam show, but the sink was as stuck as ever—actually worse, because it had all that baking soda in it.

I gave up that night in favor of buying a sink snake. On the way home from work the next day, I stopped in Target and realized that Target shoppers never have complicated stopped-up sinks, because Target carries as many sink snakes as it does cold-blooded ones—none. I did find a liquid drain cleaner that came with a puny toothed strip to jam down the drain to catch the clog. I’ve used these before and they work great. This one, though, went as far as the bend in the trap and stopped. I poured in the glop and waited the half-hour for it to work. It released a few bubbles, but the water level remained the same.

By now it was almost 9 p.m. and I wanted to get to Lowes before it closed at 9:30. We drove to Lowes to discover that it now closed at 9 and was locked up tight. That sent us to the 24-hour Walmart where we bought both a toothed strip—this one longer, harder, and straighter—and a quasi-snake with a brush on the end.

In the end, neither tool worked, and I had to clean out the cabinet, dissemble the sink trap and clear it out. I found tweezers, hair clips, elastic bands, and some nasty unidentified junk in there. They were stuck so firmly that even a plumbers snake probably wouldn’t have dislodged it.  I ended up wasting time and money for a problem that could have been cleared up the day before. As a bonus, I now have a clean cabinet and a new mesh guard to keep the tweezers and hair clips out of the drain.

So next time I’m encounter a problem, I’m going to think of how I can solve it right then, maybe getting a little dirty, but without driving all over and shopping past my bedtime.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sometimes weight happens

I’m not sure why, but my weight went up slightly. It’s just 1.8 pounds, but it’s annoying. My eating has been about the same and my exercise has been about the same.

The key word is “about.” I don’t keep strict records of what I eat and what exercise I get. I eat about the same thing every day: a 50g protein shake for breakfast, cottage cheese/bacon/sunflower seeds for lunch, Greek yogurt for afternoon snack, cheese sticks for early evening snack and a variable dinner. Sometimes I have a real meal, other times just soup. Last night I had low-fat goat cheese smeared on flatbread crackers with artichoke/red pepper tapenade dribbled on top (Trader Joe's, I love you). And I often top off dinner with pistachios. But I’m sure I’ve added a little more here and there, enough to add up to 1.8 pounds.

I’ve relied on weekend shopping/walking to take up the slack, but the last couple of weekends I’ve eaten things I shouldn’t. At the mall, anything that comes from Sweet Factory or Godiva shouldn’t go into my mouth.

Sometimes you just stray off the path. Lose a bit of focus. It’s not the end of the world. My goal is to eat like a normal person, except maybe spaced throughout the day since my surgically enhanced stomach is so small. A lot of people without eating/food/weight issues will naturally compensate for overeating by eating less later. That doesn’t mean to do what I did when I went to diet doctors or commercial weight-loss programs, where I paid for failure. I’d often use the weigh-in day as a free pass to binging, then starve myself for the rest of the week to show a loss. The binging periods got longer and the starving periods got shorter and harder until everything went to hell.

These days my body seems to crave protein-packed dishes, for which I’m grateful. Sweets don’t seem to be such a priority, especially when I can whip up a sugar-free chocolate latte on my coffee machine at home and satisfy my sweet tooth.

My lap-band isn’t going to lose the weight for me. I have to work it, and sometimes I need to work a little harder.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Where’d all this cold come from?

I live in Southern California. I grew up in the desert. The farthest east I’ve lived is Las Vegas. All this geography information is to let you know I have thin blood. It gets down into the 40s and I’m ready to break out the arctic wear. We finally got autumnal weather out here and I haven’t been warm since.

I guess it’s a matter of physics. Drop 85 or so pounds of insulating fat and the core is going to shiver. I’ve resorted to wearing sweatpants to bed and sleeping under three blankets. Luckily the cats cuddle next to me for added warmth. I’m wearing the same sweatpants I wore at my heaviest. The difference is that they used to fit tight and now they fit like MC Hammer parachute pants. The other night I even added a sweatshirt to the ensemble.

We do run the central heating at night, and I slept cozily last night, but woke up cold. Turns out the daughter sprayed too much air freshener early this morning, so she turned off the heater and opened all the windows to air out the place. It was freakin’ 49 degrees out! It was REALLY hard to get out of bed this morning. I snuggled next to our larger cat, Kevin, and listened to him purr while I sucked away his warmth. Once I dragged myself from my warm bed, I threw my clothes in the dryer to heat them up. Getting dressed wasn’t so bad then. I donned my newly purchased gloves and my too-big L.A. Lakers jacket and headed into the cold morning. I had a commuter mug with strong coffee in one hand and my chilled protein shake in the other. Thank God for car heaters.

As you can see, I’m a weather wimp. A creature of modern conveniences. My dad used to tell stories of growing up in Upstate New York during the Depression. No central heating, and if you left a glass of water next to your bed, it would be frozen in the morning. I guess that’s one reason that after he went out on his own, he moved as far away from the frost as possible and landed near Death Valley, where he met the woman who would become his wife and my mom.

I’ve done a lot of complaining about being cold, but given the choice between extra sweatpants and 85 pounds of fat, I’ll take the sweatpants any day.
See you tomorrow.