Friday, December 2, 2016

Cat + Tree = Love

Dooku is ready for Christmas.   

Every year, the darned cat eats the tree bristles on the first day the tree is up.  And every year the darned cat throws up bristles two to three times.  And then he seems to learn.  And remembers that he enjoys his spot under the tree.

Cats are hilarious.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Redbird Christmas

My book group chose another Fannie Flagg novel to end out the year, which is typically, for them, a Christmas book.  This is the first time I've chosen to read the Christmas selection and I did so only because of Flagg.  I've learned that I really enjoy her Southern novels.  

My review, posted to Goodreads, of A Redbird Christmas:

My book group chose this Fannie Flagg book for a nice Christmas read. This was my third novel by Flagg and I was once again charmed by the southern warmth of her characters and their stories. My only gripe with this novel is how quickly it ended. There was a Christmas miracle, of sorts, and then everything is tidily wrapped up in two pages. If only life came together so easily. Ha! If you're looking for a heartwarming Christmas novel, this is a lovely story.

Monday, November 28, 2016

FitnessGlo Challenge #2: Week Four

Wow!  I'm almost a month into this Challenge!  That's crazy!  And it's even crazier to think that Christmas is even that much closer.  Eek!

I'm excited that it's Thanksgiving week.  My eating will be horrible but that's fine. You gotta live life sometime.

Monday:  Scott's Multi-Level Cardio Drills + Multi-Level Sports Drills + weights

This morning, after a tough weekend of workouts, I wanted something not quite as intense.  These two workouts are level 2 - so not as jumpy or crazy insane.  I still got a great workout but just didn't kill myself.  Ha!  I must remember that I really don't enjoy the Sports Drills - it's too, too easy.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center - which was crazy busy.  Dang!

Tuesday:  Ilyse's Full-On Cardio Blast + Denise's Interval Sweat

I wanted to work hard today...and Ilyse almost killed me.  Holy cow!  I always forget how intense this Blast is....but dang!  I got through it - forcing myself to breathe when I didn't think it was possible.  I finished off the morning with Denise's cardio - also intense but with good low-intensity breaks (aka squats and lunges).  Talk about a great morning of Glo!

Wednesday:  Michelle's Calorie Burning Cardio Blast + HIIT - Breathless and Energized + Scott's HIIT - Sports Inspired Intervals + Ilyse's Heart-Pumping Groove

So to kick my own butt this morning, I decided to put all these short HIIT workouts together to make one long HIIT workout.  Okay, ouch!  I was exhausted after the first one and huffing and puffing after the second one.... Thankfully, I saved Scott's for last because his is the most doable.  But, dang!  When I want to work hard, this will do it!  After a short work day, I did 30 minutes of cardio, in the form of Ilyse's low-impact Groove.  I love that one!  This will have to tide me over for two days with no real workout.

Thursday: REST

Friday: REST

Saturday: Scott's Sports-Inspired Drills + Bring It On

It was a miracle that I got a workout in today.  Ugh.  I did both of Scott's workouts.  The first was pure cardio drills - and very typical of Scott's style.  The next had cardio and weight drills, which alternated.  I added on a few extra minutes at the end to get in a full hour of work.  Then, a nice stretch.  I was almost immediately sore.  Ouch.

Sunday:  Cathe's Cardio Core Circuit + McLean's Cardio Hip Hop

And I was still sore this morning.  Wow.  I had to force myself to do Cathe's workout...telling myself that I really needed to burn mega calories.  I got through this one, with no short-cuts. Awesome!  Then, McLean's fun dance routine, which I always try to make as high impact as possible.  So, a total of 70 minutes of cardio.  Ab work and a stretch to finish my morning.

Calorie Counts:


Friday, November 25, 2016

A Homemade Life

When I visited my friend, SKP, a few months ago, she pointed out a cookbook/memoir that she thought I'd enjoy.  After showing it to me, I went home and bought it online.  

This is my review of A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, posted on Goodreads:

I decided to read this book after a friend showed me the recipe for the author's wedding cake. Molly Wizenberg apparently loves chocolate as much as I do, therefore this was a book I needed to read. 

Wizenberg's memoir recounts stories throughout her life, which almost always involve, in one or another, her love of food. Her bond with her father was solidified through food; she met her husband because of a food blog. And so every chapter of her book closes with a recipe. 

Most of her recipes are fancy, rather than homestyle, if that makes sense. I'm more of a homestyle girl myself, but almost every recipe sounded delicious. Indeed, one of Wizenberg's strengths is her ability to describe taste and texture. And so I'm tempted to try every recipe in this book....starting with the chocolate cake.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pumpkin Bread

I love Pumpkin Bread.  It was never a staple in our house, because my dad doesn't love it, so it was always a treat when my mom decided to make it.  Her recipe, I'm pretty sure, is Betty Crocker's and contains shortening.  It's delicious.  I love it.  But shortening grosses me out.   

So for years, I've wanted to find a recipe that used butter or oil instead of shortening.  Last week, I compared about three recipes to my mom's Pumpkin Bread and decided to make the one that appeared the most similar, outside of the shortening.  

This Ultimate Pumpkin Bread won the comparison contest so I got to work baking.  I love whipping up butter and sugar.  I mean, really.  After a few minutes, seeing how fluffy it gets....  It's magic!  Ha!  The only thing I changed in this recipe was to use half Splenda for the sugar.

And it turned out great.  Practically as good as my mom's.  I say 'practically' because hers will always be the best.  But this one is very comparable and everyone loved it, me included.  A keeper, for sure!

Monday, November 21, 2016

FitnessGlo Challenge #2: Week Three

After another bad weekend of eating - and with Thanksgiving around the corner - I've not lost a bit of motivation to keep working hard.  Ha!

Overall, I'm enjoying this Challenge so far.  It's nice to change things up with different workouts.  

Monday: Ilyse's Work Hard, Have a Great Time + Dance Intervals 101 + Sweaty, Sassy, and Strong

I had extra time this morning so I went into this workout hoping to do enough to make up for not walking at lunch.  So, I did 50 minutes of hardcore cardio with Work Hard and Dance Intervals.  Whew!  Those two are definitely tough and contain a bunch of jumping.  Then, I slowed down a bit with Sweaty, Sassy - keeping these 15 minutes low-impact.  It was a nice workout, all in all.  Then, a stretch and sit-ups.

Tuesday: Denise's Super Cardio + Total Body Strengthening

Time for weights today!  I didn't really remember Denise's workouts so it was all a surprise this morning!  Super Cardio is half cardio, half strength. I kept all the cardio low-impact which was lovely this morning.  My body thanked me!  Ha!  Then, Total Body was all strength work - with weights and without.  I was definitely working hard - Denise is no slacker with the weights!

Wednesday:  Amy's Intervals + Scott's Multi-Level Cardio Drills + walk

Okay, I needed to work hard today because my eating was not going to be good.  So, HIIT with Amy - ouch!  And then HIIT with Scott.....  Sigh.  These really got me this morning, especially Amy's workout.  There's just hardly any rest between her circuits.  At lunch, I took a 20 minute walk outside because the weather was beautiful - well, too warm for November but still nice.  

Thursday: Ilyse's Ultimate Dance Extravaganza + Dozois' HIIT - Breathless and Energized + weights

I wanted something different today so I tuned into Ilyse's dance workout, which I haven't done in years.  It was fun and different than her other dance workouts - more dance-y, if that makes any sense.  Then, I ended my morning with Michelle's HIIT - always tough and effective.  At lunch, I did weights at the rec center.   Always glad to get that done!

Friday: Crunch Super Slim Down: Pilates Yoga Blend

Today I wanted relaxing and this old Crunch video was perfect.  Ellen Barrett leads you through some yoga sequences to start and then you do some pilates and core work.  I made sure to do all the core - ow!  It was a very nice way to start a Friday!

Saturday: Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn Remix + Denise's Continuous Strength

Time to really work today.  I did one of my favorites, CIB Remix, and had a lot of fun - outside of the peaks.  Ha!  This one always makes me work hard but it also makes me happy.  After that 55 minutes, I did 10 minutes of Denise's strength workout before my arms were screaming and I stopped.  Ouch!  I did a nice stretch and ab work.

Sunday: Cathe's Intensity + Ilyse's Groovy Dance Party

Much cardio was needed today.  Cathe's workout was really good.  I did it all - the step, the HIIT and the Low HIIT.  What a workout!  After that finished (50 minutes later), I did 20 minutes of Ilyse's dance workout.  This one is a lot of fun and easy to make more intense when you want to work harder.  And today I did!  So, 70 minutes of cardio and then, finally, a stretch and planks.

Calorie Counts:

I did pretty good this week - and the weekend.  Wednesday was really bad but the rest was pretty good, under 1200 calories.  Yay!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Scalloped Potatoes

Last year, at Thanksgiving, when we sat down to eat our big meal, my dad asked where the potatoes were. My mom and I - the cooks - were perplexed.  We had never served potatoes at Thanksgiving.  Mashed potatoes and roast are a Sunday staple in the house where I grew up - therefore potatoes were not special enough for Thanksgiving.  

Fast forward to our latest cruise when I ate way too many potato dishes - potato salad, mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, potato wedges, french fries, hash browns, diced breakfast potatoes.....  And out of all of those, I loved the potatoes au gratin.  Don't get me wrong, they were all delicious, but the potatoes au gratin were so creamy yet firm.....oh, my.  So, so good!  

And so for this Thanksgiving meal, I decided to find something similar for our big feast.  We would not serve mashed potatoes but something different.  After searching my favorite food blogs, and discounting most au gratin recipes as just too fattening, I settled upon Skinnytaste's Skinny Scalloped Potato Gratin.  (Just a side note...  During the holidays, I don't count calories.  So I should have found an au gratin recipe but.....  Well, I settled upon this one and I liked it.)

I didn't measure my potatoes and meant to halve the recipe....but I had a bit more than half of the amount of potatoes.  So I may not have had quite as much liquid as I should have had.  But I followed the recipe, otherwise, and these turned out great.  They're not as creamy as on the cruise ship but they're potatoes.  With butter and cheese.  And you can't really go wrong with that.  

Mr. Higgins approved so I'll make these at Thanksgiving....  And hope my dad is satisfied.