Hi! Did you miss me?

Years ago, I read an article that blog writers should never start a post with an apology for not writing in a while. I can’t remember exactly what the reasoning was in the article, but I thought it was good advice and I resolved never to do so. My primary reasoning, since I can’t remember the article’s reasoning, is because this is my space, dang it, and if I don’t want to be here, then I don’t have to be here. And I don’t have to apologize for that. And secondly, starting posts with apologies is really boring to read.

So, you’re not getting an apology. But I do want to write about my absence a little bit becuase I have been thinking about what was behind it and figured I might as well share that. There are two primary reasons, I think, behind my lack of posting here.

One is that I stopped writing almost entirely once I started using a tablet to read the Internet instead of my laptop. My laptop has gotten old and very slow and it doesn’t do me much good on a day-to-day basis. I tend to read a lot of different things on the internet and I can read all of those things more quickly and with less weight just by reading on my small, handheld tablet. My tablet has been one of my favorite purchases in the last several years. So much of what I do can be done using the tablet instead of a full processing personal computer — with one glaring lack. I stopped writing.

I don’t tend to write using my tablet. Primarily because it’s a pain in the butt to use the integrated keyboard for long lengths of text. I didn’t even text much with people I know online using it becuase I got so frustrated with how slowly I’d have to type compared to how fast I can type  on a keyboard, and I’d get more typos and autocorrect errors and it was SUPER FRUSTRATING. So I stopped. Mostly. I kept typing to one or two key people because they kept texting to me, but otherwise, I mostly went silent.

And the not writing didn’t bother me too much because of the second reason, which was that I was feeling more and more vulnerable about how my life was not feeling very private. I started to back away from any social media and places where my personal life was available to people outside of my own home. (Not that I was much online anywhere, but anyway…) The reasons behind this are partially because I was getting overwhelmed at work and with stress and a lot of things that were only happening inside of my own head. But the solution that I found was to curl up into myself and not share.

And I think that was healthy, to an extent. The amount of information that we willingly share on the Internet is massive, and there is a point, for everybody, where you should hit the point of “I’m not going to share that.” (For some people, that point is WAY FURTHER past where it should be…) I think it’s normal and important to sometimes stand back and evaluate what information you’re sharing with which groups of people and think about if it’s appropriate and think about what’s happening that could or shouldn’t be shared and to be cognizant of the difference.

Of course, in my evaluation of what was happening in my life, most of what I came up with was the fact that I was working. A lot. And that it wasn’t something I could/should share and if I did, it wouldn’t be terribly interesting. So I didn’t.

And on top of that, I didn’t think people would care or notice if I stopped typing, so why not? If I didn’t want to write and people wouldn’t care if I didn’t, then why did I go through the trouble? And that may or may not be true — since I’m not sure that anyone other than the people in my immediate family actually even know this website exists, and as far as I know, only the women of that audience have ever cared to read it. If that’s my whole audience, then shouldn’t I just be able to communicate with those people in other mediums?

Except I haven’t.

I mostly just sunk into working too much, doing little else, and getting more and more mired in the muck in my head.

So, finally, I’m working on changing that.

Justin bought me a keyboard for my tablet. He’d asked me several other times if I’d want one and I kept telling him that I  didn’t think the expense would be worth it. But we’re working on setting up a new computer as a media server (for all the CD’s he spent months coping digital copies of) and we were going to need a keyboard to use for that computer. And he found a keyboard that would easily switch between three different devices and asked if I’d be interested in that.

So now I have a keyboard for my tablet! Which means I can enjoy all the ease and speed of my tablet AND still be able to type!

On top of that, Justin and I had a heartfelt conversation about how I needed to stop working so much. I’d been working 50+ hour weeks since October and I was not holding up under the strain. I’d started thinking about finding another job, just to be able to walk away from all the problems I’d been dealing with in this one. The outcome from that discussion was that there were two options: Work could have me for 40 hours or they could have me for 0 hours. I would actively start concentrating at leaving ON TIME and not working overtime. And either things would pile up because I wasn’t working enough or I’d find a way to make it work in the 40 hours in my week. And if they piled up and the company decided I needed to work more hours, then I would leave. Or if I couldn’t find a way to be happy with the amount of backlog that was happening because I wasn’t working overtime, then I would leave. Either way, it was going to be 40 or nothing.

It’s been about a month, and I’ve been at 45 hours or less that whole time. And it’s been VERY HARD. But so far, no one in my department blames me for cutting back. And no one has said anything about my job performance needing to improve. And while I sometimes have to tell myself that it will be FINE. Just leave it. Go home. Do it tomorrow… I’m getting better.

And cutting back on my hours and my stress means that I’ve opened up my brain space to deal with other things that have been stuck up in there, lurking, waiting, rotting. And I’m working through them.

My concerns about what I share publicly are still relevant and there are a lot of things happening right now that I’m not going to write about. But I think I’m going to try to at least write SOMETHING. After all, I have this shiny new keyboard that needs to get used.

I should be sleeping, but instead I’m writing

  • It’s been crazy around here. I should be heading to bed, but everybody else is posting today, so I figured I’d join in.
  • Last week I worked 52 1/2 hours
    • I was told on Thursday that I’d have a big thing done by the following Friday
      • And then on Monday, I was told I’d have it done by Wednesday
    • It got done well enough, but it’s a mess and I have a lot of work yet to do
  • This week and next week, I’m covering the morning meeting for my coworker who is out on vacation
    • I have to be at work at 6:30 tomorrow
      • And Wednesday
        • And next Monday,
        • Tuesday
        • & Wednesday
          • Remember how I was so excited to not be awake at 5:00 AM anymore?
            • Yeah
              • This stinks.
  • I haven’t got my morning work out in since Friday before last.
    • I didn’t exercise at all last week, to be honest
      • I also didn’t eat well last week
        • My weigh-in this morning was not encouraging.
    • I did exercise this afternoon after I got home
  • Justin’s allergies are trying to kill him
    • Mine aren’t so bad … yet
      • Our grocery store sells 90 packs of generic allergy meds that we can both take for about $15
        • They also sell 15 packs for about $12.
          • They’ve been out of the 90 packs every time we’ve checked for the last 2 weeks
            • We have 3 pills left
      • Costco also sells allergy meds for cheap, but it’s an hour away
  • We saw Zootopia over the weekend
    • It was adorable
  • We are watching season 2 of Daredevil
    • It is almost as violent as season one… 🙁
      • The plot line is not as interesting as season one
        • I wish I had Karen’s hair
          • Also, her waistline because dang that girl is slender
  • Justin is still doing well in school
    • We have about 2 weeks before he has to focus on getting ready for finals and all his big end-of-the-semester projects
      • I’m going to have to make dinner more often when that happens…
        • I see a lot of pasta and frozen dinners in our future.
  • It’s our 8-year wedding anniversary tomorrow!
    • We have no plans
      • Besides going to the chiropractor
        • Because we are old and boring
      • I think dinner is probably going to be pasta
        • Because it’s quick, easy, and goes well with the broccoli going bad in the crisper
  • And now I have to go to bed so I can get up again in 6 1/2 hours.

Keeping busy

We had a nice weekend around here. Saturday was kind of busy. We had chiropractor adjustments up in Bluffton. From there, we went down to mid-town Savannah and I donated platelets at the Red Cross donation center.

It had been six months since my previous platelets donation! I don’t know how so much time passed! I know that for a streak there I wasn’t feeling well. And then the holidays hit and things got busy. And then I wasn’t feeling well again. And then they changed my schedule at work and I couldn’t schedule donations on Friday afternoons anymore. But a whole half a year?!

After donating, and getting some food, we went back home and I took a power nap for an hour or two because in the evening I went out to a friend’s birthday party. She was having her third or fourth annual 49th birthday and it’s always a lot of fun. She invites a handful of women and we sit around eating and drinking and playing games for prizes that she’s bought for her guests. This year I brought home a yoga mat and a lovely piece of wall art. I’m not sure yet where to hang it.

Sunday was relaxing after all the excitement of the day before. And that was needed because I was up very late on Saturday and this week has been busy and stressful. I’ve had a lot going on at work, trying to get caught up on a mess that’s gotten out of control and requires an insane amount of detailed research to clear up. And Justin had a test today, has a paper due on Friday, has another test next Wednesday, plus another paper due that same day. Plus his other class is starting and that’s going to add more work and reading. And it’ll extend his days so I’ll have to be responsible for making sure we eat dinner on those days.

On top of that, we’ve started training for the 5K race we have coming up in April. So we’re running up the street outside our apartment complex and back. It’s a nice place to run, with wide grassy strips, and we see a lot of people who are also out running or walking.

There’s this one guy I’ve seen several times who walks with his three dogs. I’m not sure what kind of dogs they are, but they’re biggish, like Labradors, but skinny with smooth coats. One of these days I might ask him what they are. Anyway, he walks them off leash and they are the most well behaved dogs I’ve seen. They stay right beside him all the time. And when someone approaches him from the other direction on the sidewalk, he’ll step off the sidewalk and tell his dogs all to sit. And they plunk their bottoms down and look up at him, not at the people who are walking past. And then once the sidewalk is clear again, he’ll give a command and they’ll all get back in heal with him walking.

I saw a Yorkshire Terrier try to pick a fight with his dogs and they all just sort of looked at it and kept on walking. I was worried the Yorkie would try to bite me, it was so badly behaved. But not these three big, muscular dogs who are just the best behaved things on the street. I’m very impressed.

Anyway, nothing terribly interesting from me today. But I’m trying to remember to write more often. So this is the babbling that happens.

Minestrone Soup

Oops! Time got away from me again. I even had things to write about because I could have written about what we did for my birthday (8-mile hike on Hilton Head Island) or Valentine’s day (fancy dinner at a Chinese buffet).

But I didn’t. And now I don’t really want to write about those things. So instead I’ll share this recipe with you.

I read a bunch of blogs, some of which are food blogs, looking for interesting ideas. Because it’s still wintry out, I’ve been in the mood for soup, and this one was easy to make, easy on calories, and good on nutrition. Most of it was stuff we already had in the pantry. And it’s been absolutely delicious. I think I’m on day 3 of having it for lunches and it’s been great.

I got the recipe from Center Cut Cook: Easy Minestrone Soup. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, adding some stuff, using less of others. I think that’s one of the great things about soups — they’re usually pretty flexible.

So, read the link above to see what the original recipe says. And see all the pretty pictures.

This is what I did. I don’t have any pictures.

In a soup pot, I warmed up 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Into that, I put the following:

  • 1/3 vidalia sweet onion, chopped fine (about 3 oz)
  • 3 or 4 stalks of celery, sliced thin (about 3 oz)
  • 2 big cloves of garlic, sliced thin

And let them warm up on medium heat until the onion was translucent.

Then I added the following to the pot:

  • 1 small can (61g / 0.88 cup) no salt added tomato paste
  • 1 medium can (2 cups) no salt added diced tomatoes (Or stewed… They might be stewed. Use whatever tomatoes you like.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

And let it warm up on medium heat until the tomatoes were bubbling.

During that time, I realized my pot was too small for the rest of everything else going in. So I got out my bigger pasta pot and added to that pot, on medium heat:

  • 4 cups unsalted chicken cooking stock (one container of the lowest-sodium broth I could find)

When the tomato mix was warmed up, I VERY CAREFULLY poured it into the pot with the chicken broth. And then I turned that up to high to let it boil. Once it was boiling, it went down to medium again and I added the following:

  • 3 or 4 pealed and sliced carrots (about 4 oz)
  • 1 can no salt added green beans (drained)
  • 1 can reduced sodium dark red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 4 oz Rigati pasta (the last of an open box of those straight hollow noodles)

And let that warm up on the stove until the pasta was done al dente. Since I planned on the soup taking me several days to get through, I didn’t want the noodles to get too well done. I expect they’ll get more and more soft as the soup get older.

I probably could use more actual FLUID in this soup. As is, it’s got a lot more substance than it does soup. And I don’t think it’d effect the flavor much to add a little more water or chicken broth. But I really don’t mind much that all my beans and vegetables are all sitting above the level of the broth. Just be warned that if you do follow this the way I did it, you will end up with more of a super chunky stew than a soup. It really barely counts as soup.

And you probably noticed that I used a lot of no salt or low sodium options and didn’t add “salt and pepper to taste.” One of my biggest frustrations with store-bought soups is the sodium content. They are all SWIMMING in salt! This one is not. And since I’ve been low-sodium, as much as possible, for a couple years, I really appreciate that this has very little salt.

I’m not really sure how many servings I’ll get out of this, but when I put it into a container, it was just above 8 cups. So I figured 1 cup was a decent serving size (most soups are about that size, I think). When I put it into MyFitnessPal.com to figure out the calories, it looked like this:


Nutrition Facts
Servings 8

Amount Per Serving (% Daily Value *)

Calories 172

Total Fat 2 g (3 %)
Saturated Fat 0 g (1 %)
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat (0 g)
Cholesterol 0 mg (0 %)
Sodium 162 mg (7 %)
Potassium 460 mg (13 %)
Total Carbohydrate 30 g (10 %)
Dietary Fiber 7 g (26 %)
Sugars 6 g
Protein 8 g (16 %)

Vitamin A 68 %
Vitamin C 13 %
Calcium 8 %
Iron 13 %

* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.


And that looks pretty awesome to me! And it’s delicious, which is really the kicker. I look forward to having this soup, with a little round of Babybel cheese for my lunch. It’s warm and savory and it makes me happy. 🙂

And since I didn’t really know what else to do with the rest of the bags of celery (I don’t end up eating it raw, to the dismay of the several moldy stalks I’ve thrown away in the past, plus this batch was already getting a little droopy) and carrots (raw carrots have started to make my lips itch), I took the time while the soup was cooking to chop them all and put them in baggies which are now in the freezer. They’ll be perfect for the next time I need chopped vegetables later.

Let me know if any of you end up giving this a try! And send me your favorite soup recipes so I can give them a try before the weather gets too warm for soup. 🙂

What if we thought about weight like debt?

It’s been a somewhat unremarkable week for us. Nothing of note has happened at work. Justin had an exam on Wednesday and a paper due on Friday, so he spent a lot of time studying. Our evenings were pretty quiet.

But I’m trying to get back to writing more regularly. So I’m going to write about something that’s been helpful for me as I’ve been working on losing weight. I feel like some of this might be stuff I’ve talked about before, but maybe it’s just because it’s been on my mind a lot. Also, this post got a lot longer than I originally thought it would.

I know, I said I don’t really want to talk about my weight-loss much just yet. But when I was starting it up again, I was thinking about my failures and successes in the past and what they had in common and how I approach the whole thing. At the same time, I was reviewing our progress on our debt payments and how long it’s likely to take before we’ll be done with the credit card debt. It’s going quite well, though not as well as we’d been hoping last January. We had a more expensive 2015 than we’d hoped.

I think most of us have been working on that specific problem lately – paying off debts, working on emergency funds, all of those wonderful things. I think a lot of people have a hard time separating emotions from the picture when it comes to money. I don’t seem to have that problem much, it’s mostly just a math puzzle, and a tricky one at that because I’m not very good at math. But when Justin and I talk about it, we have to be able to discuss calmly the opinions we have about certain things, like whether or not purchases are wants vs. needs, if it’s a want that we’ll not be likely to find as cheaply as this particular sale and if that’s worth the extra debt, if going without something is an inconvenience that we’re willing to put up with for a short time in order to avoid more expense, that sort of thing.

Point being, the emotions behind it never seem to go anywhere near thinking about our debt as being a reflection on my worth as a person. It’s not personal. It wasn’t the smartest thing ever, but we’re learning from our mistakes and moving on. The closest it got to being personal was thinking that I’d just been kind of dumb about handing my resources.

My weight, however? For a long time, I considered it to be a personal failing. It was evidence of my sinful behavior. If I’d not been so gluttonous, I’d not eat so much. If I wasn’t so slothful, I’d exercise more. If I had more self-control, etc., etc. So losing weight was fighting against myself and my sinfulness. If I didn’t like the exercise, I was fighting my sloth and it had to be good for me. Restricting my diet was fighting my gluttony and managing self-control. If I slipped, I failed to fight my sin.

Not to say that skinny people are without sin. But I think I figured most of it would have to do with vanity.

I’m not really sure when I started to be able to separate the two, but I know that I have been able to be happy with myself regardless of my weight and not feel like a big fatty failure who sins. I’ve even considered myself to be pretty, even at 250 pounds. I wish I could pinpoint when and why that changed, but I have no idea. I do know that it did change, though.

When I was thinking about financial debt and appropriate use of resources, though, it occurred to me that a lot of the mentality that I’d been using to work on our debt would apply easily to trying to lose weight. What if I was able to separate my emotions from what got me to this point and focus on the same ideas that have worked well with my finances?

Instead of dollars, it’s calories. Instead of losing debt and gaining savings, I’m losing weight and gaining strength.

It takes specific concentration, every day, about how to spend or save the money available in order to be able to achieve specific goals. That same concentration can be applied to making sure that the calories I intake are not more than the calories I’m burning.

The same idea of setting wants aside in order to focus on the needs lets me look at a piece of cake and consider whether I’d rather have a couple minutes of sweet delicious empty calories or the lentil soup and small wedge of cheese for my lunch that will sustain me for longer without the sugar crash, and without the need to exercise for a lot longer in the afternoon. The satisfaction of feeling like I achieved something by passing on the cake is just an extra bonus.

And it’s a balance – I can’t stop paying rent and put all the money into debt payments; I can’t stop eating entirely in order to try to lose weight more quickly. But I can adjust the thermostat to cost less energy and just be a little uncomfortable (until I adjust), and I can eat less food and be a little uncomfortable (until I adjust) in order to lose weight.

Slipping now and then isn’t such a big deal, either. We really wanted to get me a nice pair of hiking boots this past summer, so we spent a lot of money on a great pair of boots. We looked at other budget categories we could pull other money from to pay for that and accepted that it’d just be an extra bit of work we’d have to put in to pay for those.

I really wanted some ice cream a couple days ago and it wasn’t really going to fit in the calories for my day. It wasn’t much out of my plan for the day, but it was a little over. And instead of passing on it and getting grumpy about it, I carefully measured out a serving size and enjoyed it thoroughly. And the next morning I got up and did a hard workout in order to pay for it, and made sure I was a little under my calories for the day.

Because when it comes down to it, my weight problem is primarily due to a poor use of resources. I’ve incurred more than I could afford, and now I have to pay for it. Over time, with perseverance and dedication, I will be able to resolve it. I can pay off thousands of dollars of debt. I can work off a handful of dozen pounds.

And thinking about it this was has helped me a lot. I don’t feel like I’m suffering or punishing myself. I’m just working to pay off another debt, and I’ve done that before.