Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving in Ohio

This year we went up to Athens, Ohio to spend Thanksgiving with Tom's family. We usually went up to Cleveland but his brother recently moved to Athens. Tom had been in Athens years ago but this was a new place for me. The ride up was great. Very uneventful. I had bought the audio book The Lost Symbol but am such a dope, I bought the abridged version. I was so mad because I really wanted to hear the whole thing. But in the end it was still good and we enjoyed it. (Above: In the picture from left to right: Jake, Steve, Amy, Dave Jim, Amy, Tom, Me and in the front Jeanne and Hayley)

Wednesday we arrived and kicked back at the hotel for a while until we went over to Jim's house for dinner. It was nice to finally meet Jim's wife , Amy and see the rest of the family. I also got to see my new nieces and nephews. I never had nor will I have blood nieces or nephews because my sister is like me and we never wanted kids. It's strange that we both didn't want kids but in the end, it was a great decision on our part. But now I have some by marriage and it's kind of cool. (From left to right: Hayley, Jake, Amy, Dave and Steve) After dinner and catching up, we called it a night because we were super tired from the drive.

On Thursday, we had some free time before dinner so we went and toured the town. I would say it's a small town but coming from Sylva, I really can't say that. Our town is about half the size of Athens or smaller. Basically the University rules the town. But the University is pretty cool and the downtown area is quite cute. We drove all over and checked out some cute neighborhoods and shops. We didn't stop because everything was closed. Across the river from the University we saw this cool building on a hill so we drove up there. I took a picture and mentioned to Tom that it looked like an asylum. When we drove around Tom noticed the bars on the windows and we were sure it was. After we drove up the hill we saw a cemetery and it turned out that it was the cemetery for the Psychiatric Hospital. And when we drove further up the hill there was this totally creepy building that would have made a great location for a horror film. And you know how much I love horror films so I would know. But overall, the whole area was creepy and I got some weird vibes so I told Tom let's get out of here. Later on that night Hayley told Tom that building is one of the most haunted buildings in that area. After hearing that, I wish I would have been able to go into the building and see if I would see or feel any spirits. Cool.

Tom has wanted a GPS system for a while and I think we need to buy one because when it was time to go to Jim's house for dinner, we got lost. Of course, I got blamed because Tom says I am the navigator. But I have told Tom time and time again that I am a sucky ass navigator and shouldn't be trusted when it comes to directions but he doesn't listen. So we end up lost. Somehow we ended up not making a turn we should have and ended up driving up a hill for awhile. We finally realized that we hadn't passed any of the houses the day before so we might be lost. Luckily we turned around and willy-nilly made the decision to take a left at one street and that was the right street.

Dinner was delish. There was so much food but it was all good. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, pie, cake, jello, and green bean casserole. I have to say that besides the piece of birthday cake I had (it was David and Steve's birthday on Sunday), I was good and only ate one plate of food. I could have eaten more but didn't. There is nothing like a Thanksgiving meal. The rest of the night was spent catching up, drinking, hanging out and me and Amy worked on a puzzle for a while. I forgot how much I love to do puzzles. I never do them but once you start, it's hard to walk away. By the end of the night, we were beat and had to get up early to drive back home the next morning. (right: Steve and his girlfriend Heather)

The next morning we awoke to flurries and cold!!! A storm was coming in and when we left Athens, it wasn't snowing hard but the snow was sticking in the mountains. Luckily, Tom was driving the first leg because I don't drive in snow or flurries. The weather was pretty dreadful as we got left Ohio and entered West Virginia. All of West Virginia was gloomy and snowy. Luckily when we rolled into Virginia, the weather broke and the sun came out. Tennessee was beautiful as well and by the time we got into Asheville, the weather was a lot warmer and the sun was still shining. When we got home the weather was gorgeous!!

It's always nice to get home after a trip whether it's a few days or a few weeks. Of course the cats were in a twitter. We left them alone and they hate that because that means no wet food just the dry stuff. Shawn went nuts and started yelling to beat Jesus until we fed her wet food. There was no hi mom or hi dad, just FEED ME like Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. Scout was hiding under the bed and ignored us for a few hours until she decided we had been punished enough and finally came out to say hello. Our cats are freaks.

I hate that every time we drive up north it snows. Next year, we are doing Thanksgiving here at our house. I have already invited my sister. I am so excited if she comes because it has been years since we have done a Thanksgiving together. Although we did do a Thanksgiving for Christmas last year in Costa Rica but it isn't the same. The only drag is that I will have to make Tofurkey for her. I can't imagine that is any good but what can I do? She doesn't eat meat. Tofurkey is just so wrong!! But since I won't have to eat the damn Tofurkey, I am cool with that.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Memories

I have written about how my family never celebrated Thanksgiving when we were small. The reason was that my parents are from Costa Rica and Thanksgiving is not celebrated there. So when they emigrated here it was just something that was not a tradition. I don't remember ever feeling like we were missing out because we celebrated it on own way.

What I do remember is that every Thanksgiving (and I am not sure when this started) we would get dressed up and our parents would take us to downtown Los Angeles and we would have dinner at Clifton's cafeteria in Downtown Los Angeles.

It was always so exciting. We didn't eat out much in those days so anytime we did go out was always a treat. Clifton's was so fantastic especially when you are little. Even as a little girl, I loved food so this was a great place for me. I remember it was a huge place and it had 2 stories. You would get seated and then you would grab a tray and walk down the aisles and look at all the yummy food. There was rows and rows of all types of food. Meats, veggies, side dishes and desserts. It was like a Food Wonderland. I remember everything you picked, you paid for separately. So Jackie and I would roam the aisles taking our time before we decided what to snatch up and put on the tray. I also remember the numerous varieties of pies and cakes. OMG for a little kid it was like heaven!! The other thing I remember was the jello. They had jello with fruit in it and with whipped topping. Now that might sound weird but remember we didn't really eat "American" food when we were little so all this was new to use. Jackie said she remembers the jello was 5 cents a plate. That tells you how long ago that was.

We would load up our trays and then we would go back to our table. The server would bring us drinks and then we would eat! For being Thanksgiving, there were always people there. That's all I remember. I do remember how nice it was and how good those times were. My sister says Clifton's is still in downtown L.A. and the decor is the same. If I ever go visit her, I am going to drag her there to relive our glory days!!

I am not sure when we stopped going to Clifton's for Thanksgiving. And as I said, at a certain point when we got older and learned about Thanksgiving and its significance we started celebrating it like everyone else and never stopped.

Nowadays we visit Tom's family in Ohio and/or I cook. And sometimes we have Thanksgiving for Christmas or another time during the year. We love Thanksgiving dinner. And I must say that I make a mean turkey. My stuffing is to DIE FOR! I have no recipe for it. I just willy nilly toss stuff in and it's always delish. There is just something very comforting about a good ol' American Turkey dinner. There is nothing like it.

This year, we will be in Athens. No, not Greece but Ohio having Turkey Day dinner at my brother-in-law's house. It should be fun. But I have my very own turkey in our freezer ready to be cooked during the Christmas holidays!! YUMMO!!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"There's a monster outside my room, can I have a glass of water?"

A few weeks ago it was brought to my attention that I have a bad habit of leaving the kitchen cabinet doors open. Then a few days later, I was reprimanded again for leaving the kitchen cabinet doors open. I really felt that I shouldn't have been reprimanded. I mean, sure sometimes I forget to close them but it's usually because I am in the middle of something like putting away dishes, cooking, cleaning etc.

Tom said I reminded him of that little girl in the M. Night Shyamalan movie Signs. You know the one with Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. In the movie the little girl keeps asking for glasses of water and then keeps leaving them all over the house for no apparent reason except that she might be a little forgetful like myself. But at the end of the movie, there was a reason why she was doing that unknowingly. Water was the only thing that could kill off the evil aliens who had come down to destroy humankind.

Anyway, I still think Tom was being a little harsh until Saturday when I walked into the kitchen and proceeded to bump my head on the pantry cabinet door that I had left open. OW! Then I happened to take a good look and was appalled to see that Tom was indeed right. I had left almost every cabinet door open and I even left the dishwasher open. I had to take a picture as proof. In my defense, I was putting away clean dishes and putting in dirty dishes. I was also putting away some canned goods that were on the kitchen table where they didn't belong. I was also storing some dried chiles that a friend gave us in my spice cabinet. Then the phone rang and I had to run and get it. It was some annoying sales call. Then I saw that the Recruit was playing on TV and Colin Farrell popped on the screen so I had to watch a little of it.

Then I remembered that I was having a Twitter chat with a friend and jumped on the computer to continue the conversation. After that, I remembered that I had to do laundry so I went to retrieve it in the bedroom. I got a little distracted.

But after I bonked my head on the cabinet, I vowed that I would close all the cabinet doors before I leave the kitchen. But then I started to think that maybe there is a reason for this. As Mel Gibson says in the movie "Is it possible that there are no coincidences?"

So what if I shape up and start closing the cabinet doors and then out of the blue aliens land here in Sylva, NC. What if they then enter my house, go into the kitchen and I cannot defend myself against them because all the cabinet doors are closed? Maybe they are supposed to be open. Maybe it isn't that I am a total airhead but somehow I know deep down inside we will be attacked by aliens? Then what? I won't be able to save the world and then we are all screwed, right? Blame Tom.

Okay I will go put on my tin-foil hat now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's a Good Thing

Nutrisystem is providing me the Nutrisystem food free of charge for my weight loss journey. The compensation received will never influence the content of my posts. No other form compensation has been offered or given.

This week I been been lazier than sin and not exercising as much as I should. I have been really unmotivated to get my lazy ass up and exercise. I have also been really busy with my review blog. But I know, I know, no excuses.

But it is a testament to the Nutrisystem program because I still lost weight. I am not down a full pound this week and I am not sure why. I thought I was doing really well and did follow the program but maybe it is the lack of exercise. I don't know. Then it could be my crappy $10 and 10 year old scale or the Evil Wii Fit Plus is screwing with me. I don't know but every week that goes by and I don't gain weight is a week I celebrate.

I think it really comes down to the calorie counting and eating less. I have started to realize that we eat a lot more than we really need too. I notice when I eat out now, I can't finish my whole meal nor do I want to. Whereas before I would shove every last piece into my greedy fat mouth. Now, at least, I think twice about eating the whole meal.

I think it goes to show that we get conditioned to eat more because of the portion sizes we get used to. When I watch news programs on the fattening of America, I have to hang my head in shame and say yes I am guilty of being a piggy girl. There are no excuses either. I mean, in my case, I love food. I love cooking and eating. If I could eat a chocolate cake with ice cream on top every day, I would. But I am learning that I can eat what I want if I eat less of it.

Honestly, I think if I followed the program to the letter, I would have lost more weight by now. But I also think that I would have felt like I was missing something especially since there were events in my life the last few months that required me to go off the program. I do believe by allowing myself to eat out and sometimes eat what I cook has helped me stay on the program and continue the weight loss. I don't think I have felt like I am being deprived of anything during this process.

Somehow at this point, I am feeling pretty confident that the weight I am losing will stay off. I can't promise that but the slow weight loss and integration of "real" food along with the Nutrisystem food makes me feel that once I am off the program I can continue losing or maintaining the weight.

I have to tell you that I got new Nutrisystem foods to try this month!!!!! I haven't tried all of them but I got some good stuff. The other day and I am digging through my box of food for breakfast and pulled out a cinnamon roll. Yep folks a teeny tiny cinnamon roll but it was a cinnamon roll, nonetheless. And while it wasn't a Cinnabon cinnamon roll, this baby was pretty darn tasty. I also got blueberry and chocolate muffins. Delish! I also got new lunches and dinners.

The variety of food makes it so much easier to stay on the plan because it gives you the feeling that you are not missing out on anything. I am thrilled I got the new stuff to try. I can't wait to try the other new foods.

So that was my week. Not the results I wanted but I can't let the slow weight loss get me down. As long as I keep losing, as Martha would say, it's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mostly Wordless Wednesday - The End Redux

This is the end
Beautiful friend

This is the end
My only friend, the end

~ The Doors

Get used to me posting gratuitous pictures of Jim Morrison when I have to announce endings! Yes, this is another The End post.

This time I am saying goodbye to Fall. These pictures prove that Fall is over and Winter is fast approaching. I dislike Winter. I don't hate Winter but dislike it a whole lot. Mainly the cold and whatever snows falls in our area. Luckily we don't get tons but still. I do hate snow. Sure it's pretty when it falls and covers the ground in a white blanket of purity but it's still snow. Boo!

Leaves covering the driveway

Trees losing leaves

Our tree that was bright red two weeks ago.

The leaves blanket the ground. If I wasn't such a lazy dog, I would probably go out and rake them and make a pile and jump in but I am a lazy dog so I won't do it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Of Art, Asheville and Fried Green Tomatoes

On Sunday we hit the Big Town once again. Yes folks, Asheville. We might as well live there at this point. I think we have been there every weekend for a month or more. But this weekend we hit the big town not to shop as we usually do but to actually do some fun stuff.

Tom's friend from WCU, Martin DeWitt, who is the Founding Director and Curator of WCU’s Fine Art Museum was involved in the Bi-Annual Asheville Art Walk. Also some students from the Screen Department at WCU were going to be filming a senior thesis film at the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, so Tom decided it was road trip time.

Since we always like to eat in Asheville when we can, I put a tweet out to my fellow Tweeps and asked for recommendations. I got a few answers and the overwhelming favorite was the the Early Girl Cafe. Thank you Kelby, Jennifer, Angela and for the recommendation. So we headed down with our Mapquest map in hand and started our Asheville adventure.

Kelby had warned me to get to the Early Girl Cafe early and we did. But even then we had to wait around 40-45 minutes to get seated. It didn't matter because the restaurant is located on this little street with quaint buildings and cool architecture. It actually reminded me of Santa Fe. Asheville reminds me of Santa Fe in so many ways. Every time I go I realize that Asheville is a funky monkey town filled with artists, hipsters, trendsters, hippies and the just plain weird. Santa Fe was like that. It was also filled with the artsy folk and it was just a cool place. It's funny because I always feel like Asheville should be in Northern California instead of North Carolina. And every time we go we seem to discover something new and are learning why people really love it there.

While waiting to get seated, we saw a jam vendor right outside the restaurant. He had set up a little table right outside which was wicked smart because you have a hungry captive audience out there. He was handing out samples. I am a certified jam fiend. I love it and if it has seeds in it all the better! So I looked at his samples and decided on the Raspberry Jam since I love it. OMG it was so good. It was some of the best jam I have ever had. Walter from Imladris Farms said they make their own jams and preserves. Of course, I had to buy some. I bought a jar of Raspberry Jam and I cannot wait to eat it. MMM, good. Although I might save it and use it as a special added treat to some of the Christmas cookies I am baking next month as gifts. A little bit of this jam on the thumbprint cookies I make will be delish! Anyway, you may want to check out the Imladris Farms site. They sell and ship their products as well. These would make cool gifts! They also have farm tours and I am saving the business card Walter gave me because I think that would make a cool weekend adventure one day.

Anyhow, once we got in and finally got to eat, we were not disappointed. Tom decided on Shrimp and Grits, a Southern staple. He is starting to like Grits and I like that because I love grits. Grits always remind me of masa (tamale dough). The texture is almost the same except tamale dough is a little finer. And I love eating tamale dough. Yeah, it's weird but it's delish!! I had a little taste of the Shrimp and Grits they were YUMMO! I opted to be "healthy" and had the Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Salad. OMG, what a treat.

Now I have to say that I never ever in my life heard of Fried Green Tomatoes until the movie of the same name came out. Remember I am a city girl but since I do believe, in a previous life, I was a Southern Belle I think that explains my affinity for Fried Green Tomatoes as all other Southern food! I think the first time I ever had a Fried Green tomato was when I was in Charleston for some training and Tom came to visit me while I was there. We took a Plantation Tour and then on our drive back we saw a little diner and stopped there. They had Fried Green Tomatoes on the menu and I tried them. It was love at first bite.

I have to admit that my Fried Green Tomato Salad while being a salad was by no means healthy. I mean it had fried tomatoes, bacon and was dressed with the yummiest creamy garlic dressing ever! Luckily, I didn't eat the whole thing but I did gobble up those four Fried Green Tomatoes although I did share half of one with Tom. Luckily, I don't think he shares my love for those tasty fried treats so he had a little bite meaning more for me. The restaurant is pretty small but the sign of a good restaurant is how many people are waiting in line to get in and this baby was full. I see why because I loved the food.

After lunch we walked to the Grove Arcade but the filming had not started yet so we decided to go over to the River Arts District and find Martin's gallery/studio space. It was amazing because there were tons of people all over the River District. This was another place we had never been to in Asheville so it was a new adventure. We did get a little lost trying to find the building but after a few false starts we made it to Martin's gallery. It is located in a huge brick building. There were tons of studios with so much diverse art.

We visited with Martin for a little while and met his wife and friends. I am posting some of his art. It is pretty cool and interesting. It always amazes me how artists create. I always love hearing what motivated or inspired a certain piece. Since I am not an artist, that fascinates me.

After we left the River Arts District, we popped back over to the Grove Arcade and found the office where the kids were supposed to be filming. If you ever go to Asheville you need to at least walk into the Grove Arcade. It is such a beautiful building. I absolutely love it. They have shopping, dining and residential space. If I had tons of money, I would so live there. Anyway, the kids hadn't started filming so we hung out for a bit and then left.

The drive home was uneventful but sad. Just last week when I picked Tom up at the airport, there was some color left on the trees. The week before that was the peak Leaf Season. But on this Sunday, all the leaves are gone and the hills are no longer the color of fire but now are the color of baby poop. Oh the brownness of it all. **sigh** I guess it had to end sometime.

It hit me then that Winter is right around the corner and it will get cold and it will snow. While beautiful when it snows, many of you know I hate driving in snow and hate the cold.

Oh well. . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lucky Day: 13 on Friday the 13th

Nutrisystem is providing me the Nutrisystem food free of charge for my weight loss journey. The compensation received will never influence the content of my posts. No other form compensation has been offered or given.

I should have posted yesterday but I wanted to let you know that I am down 13 pounds this week on Friday the 13th!! Woo-hoo. One more pound this week. I was very good this week as well. And I am happy to report that my appetite has come back. That's actually probably not a good thing but at least I don't have some weird terminal illness since I am hungry again. LOL

This week I decided to go to the Nutrisystem forums and see if I could find some recipe ideas for my food. After poking around a little and reading some very good and interesting recipes, I created one for my Black Bean Soup. I decided to make bean tacos. So I got 2 tortillas and baked them up. I added less water to the soup than it requires so I could have a better consistency. Then I spread the beans on tortillas, added a little low-fat grated cheese, added some avocado slices, jalapenos, shredded lettuce and to top it off some salsa. I made tostadas! Now the tortillas aren't so bad because they don't have that many calories so I did pretty well. They were delicious.

It seems a lot of people on the program found that instead of eating the Nutrisystem food as is, they decide it's fun trying to create new recipes. Of course, I am too lazy to create one so I just go find out what others are doing and let me tell you some people get creative! So now that I found another way to mix it up, I am hoping that the weight loss continues. And who knows, I might just create a new recipe myself. Of course, it would be a willy-nilly one.

Take a look at what the Evil Wii Fit Plus told me yesterday. My Wii Fit Age is 25!! Ha! Suck that Evil Wii. That's fantastic especially since my real age is 45!! Of course, my Mii is still looking like a stuffed tamale so I shouldn't be that happy. But that's pretty darn good!

I don't have much else to report except remember when I hit 15 pounds, which I am hoping will be in 2 weeks, I will post a picture I took when I started the program and one of me know. I really don't want to post a picture but I will be halfway to my goal and I should document that.

So as I leave you I wish you a good Friday the 13th!! Avoid black cats, don't spill salt and please don't walk under ladders!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mostly Wordless Wednesday - Winter is Coming! BOO!

It was chilly enough last night that Tom made a fire. While I love fires, it just reminds me that Winter is coming and that means cold and snow. Sometimes I miss living in Florida. **sigh**