Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmastime is here

Wow ... it just does not seem possible that Christmas is mere days away. Time is truly flying by. This year has been a toned-down version of Christmas at our house. We put the tree up and did a scaled-down version of decorating, but no outside lights. We didn't put the Christmas village out, and I haven't even taken out any of my Christmas dishes or cups and glasses. I haven't done the baking that I usually do; we have purchased whatever treats we wanted this year.

Unfortunately, this has been a season of very high stress for me. Things have been uber stressful at my workplace recently, and many changes are taking place there, with people leaving and potential job reassignments on the horizon.  I am not handling it well at all. The job itself has gone from one that I used to love, to one that is a huge source of stress. It is just not enjoyable and I worry about spending the final years of my working life in that environment and the physical toll of all that stress.
I know I have another 8-10 years or so before I can realistically look at retirement. I just don't think I can do this for that long. Something surely has to give.

I definitely need a little "peace on earth" in my little corner of the world. I wish I were writing an upbeat, jolly holiday post ... but, this is my reality. We're going to do Christmas with Steve's family this afternoon, and that will be a nice and fun diversion. Tomorrow, it's back to work for a few days before a little break for Christmas and New Year's.

At any rate, I do wish you - my dear reader, whoever you may be and wherever you may be, A Very Merry and Blessed Christmas and A Very Happy and Healthy New Year.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What I've been reading lately

With reading, as in so many other things, I go through phases. Sometimes I am a frenetic reader, with one book going on my Kindle app on my (big fat) phone and one book being read at work and maybe even another one at home. I don't particularly like to read more than one book at a time, so I hate it when I go through those weird "reading frenzies" and, thankfully, they are usually short-lived and rare, and it is always an odd occurrence that causes them. Say, I start a book and leave it at work, then want to read at home, so I start one there. Or, I download something on Kindle and it is so fascinating that I can't help but start reading immediately - even though I'm already involved in another book ... you get where I'm going here, right? Definitely first world bibliophile problems.

Then, occasionally, there are times when I just am out of the mood to read. I find myself watching more movies and TV and listening to more music. But again, those times are rare, and do not last very long. The lure of a good book is too strong and I cannot resist for long.

In an earlier life, I volunteered as a reader for our local library. They operate a radio station for the blind and visually impaired which is staffed by volunteer readers.  Different hours throughout the day are devoted to the daily newspaper, current magazines, classics, bestsellers, various genres of music, interviews with authors, and a plethora of other topical and interesting information. I enjoyed volunteering there immensely and have often thought that when I retire I would really enjoy doing more of that. Reading gives me so much joy, I just can't imagine living in a world without it.

So I've been reading some really good books lately. Awhile back I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and loved it. Loved it. Now, I've heard so many people say that they just hated the ending to that book, but I just have to disagree. Without spoiling it for anyone who has not yet read it, I will just say that I think that the end was fitting. They deserved what they got. And that's all I'm going to say.  Oh! Except that I went to see the movie last weekend with a couple girls from the office, and it was great. Seriously, the casting was brilliant. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike were perfect. And Tyler Perry rocked.

Another really outstanding book I recently read is Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline. I like books based on historical data, and this one fits the bill. It's a poignant, moving story that I found hard to put down, and I highly recommend it.

But my favorite of all my most recent reads has to be The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Another historical novel based on fact, this book is a coming of age story of two female children - black and white - who grow up together in Charleston, SC during the 1800s, and who desperately wanted and needed to be more than what the confines of society and the time frame in history were ready to allow them to be.  This book has heart and soul. I laughed and cried, and was sad to see it end.

Other books I've recently read include:
  • Dark Places by Gillian Fynn
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
  • Open Season by C.J. Box
  • Night Without End by Alistair MacLean
  • There Was An Old Woman by Hallie Ephron
I know there are more, but these are the ones that come to mind as I'm typing this post. I have a few current favorite genres going right now -- true stories of survival, and historical fiction that is based on fact. I still am enjoying various series -- Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum's books, the "Miss Julia" books by Ann B. Ross, and of course, my most beloved "Father Tim" books by Jan Karon, and if you have not read them, I say run, not walk, RUN to the nearest bookstore to purchase (or your computer/phone to download) and start the lovely foray into the world that is Mitford.

More later --

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My favorite time of year

The heat has finally left us, and I can at last say it is autumn here in Memphis.  I am on the lookout every day for pretty fall colors, but haven't seen too much as of yet.  I have, however, decorated the inside of my house, as well as my front door, so I am enjoying some of the colors of fall.  I also keep a Yankee Candle burning, either "Farmer's Market" or "Thankful" - my two current scents. so it smells like autumn in my house, as well.

I made my first pot of soup yesterday - beef vegetable - the first of many to come, I'm sure, along with some cornbread muffins.  A chill in the air is all the encouragement I need to start looking at soup and casserole recipes and thinking about new ideas I want to try.  I've also gone into baking mode: last weekend it was banana bread (two loaves, one to eat and one for the freezer) and this weekend it was chocolate chip cookies made with both semi-sweet and white chocolate chips and pecans.  I really need to curtail my baking, or we'll end up gaining weight over the winter!  I'm just in this "nesting" phase!

At any rate, it is my favorite time, hands down.  I love the crisp, clean feeling in the air and the brilliant colors that nature displays for our viewing pleasure.  I love wearing sweaters and sweatshirts and hoodies and jeans and flannel shirts.  I love fires in the fireplace.  I love drinking hot apple cider and bonfires and taking walks though leaves that crackle as you step on them. I don't even mind it getting dark earlier, at least if I'm at home and can curl up with a good book beside the fireplace, with a cup of something warm.

Yes, all of that and more...I love autumn.  And I hope you do too.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Back at last!

So I went back to work this week, on Wednesday the 15th, which actually fell on the nine-month anniversary of my surgery.  I worked four hours Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and I have to say, I was very happy to see the weekend arrive and, even better, a LONG weekend.  Even with a reduced schedule of four hours a day, my job involves a LOT of sitting, and I never realized how hard it is on the back!  My new office chair is a total bust, but the kneeling chair is great.  Hopefully, I can get a different type of office chair in place of the bad one, but I know that will take time...

In other news, my baby got a bath and haircut yesterday and came back looking quite dapper.  This cold weather we've been having makes Chance very frisky and prancey (is that a word?), and his blue kerchief seemed to go with his feisty little spirit. 

I'll share one more fun thing.  For Christmas, my father-in-law gave me an Amazon gift card.  I love Amazon, because you can find absolutely anything you want, and have it delivered to your door.  So what I found was an adorable sterling silver bow ring.  I have a thing for bows.  It's sort of kooky, and it's mostly under control, but every now and then, I just have to have something with a bow.  I just can't help it; it's sort of a sickness.  So anyway, I used my gift card and got this.

Isn't is ADORABLE?  It will be even more adorable when I get a manicure. 

Now that I've fed the Bow Beast, it should be okay for awhile.  Maybe.

More later --

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday check in

So, it's been a really good week.  Healthwise, I've done at least one or two things every day that made a positive impact on our health.  We've been eating better -- for example, I haven't used a frying pan all week; instead, I have used my oven and roasted or baked all my meals.  I've added a lot of  good veggies to our diet (broccoli, peas, carrots, green beans, etc.), and I try to keep a large container of salad made in the fridge that we can have at all times.  Also, we have been taking the salmon oil supplements every day.  So, even though we're not eating perfectly, I feel like all these little changes are helping us to be a bit healthier.  As I always say, Progress, Not Perfection

My big news is that the final piece of ergonomic office equipment has been delivered to my workplace, and I will be headed back to work this week.  I am nervous and excited at the same time.  It is just shy of nine months since my back surgery.  Nine months.  Wow.  I could never have guessed in my wildest dreams that my back surgery would ever lead me down the path I've been...and if I knew then what I know now, I probably would have chosen not to do the surgery.  But, having said that...I am so much better than I was, and I believe that ultimately, this surgery will be a rousing success.  It's just that the road getting there will have been very, VERY rocky.  And nobody chooses rocky, if they don't have to...

But, what's done is done, and I'm ready to move forward.  A little nervous, yes, but ready!

More later --

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Health: a small word that packs a big punch

So, I am focusing on my word for 2014.  This first week I've worked on meal preparation because, frankly, that is where things can go horribly off-track, and the chickens all come home to roost at my door.  I love to cook; I love to bake.  My dearest loves to eat, especially sweets, and I'm one of those old-fashioned Southern girls who believe that you show your love through the food you serve.  So.  It's a bit of a conundrum.  A sticky widget, if you will.  I know this is all me and my head stuff that needs rewiring.  I know I need to equate steamed veggies with a longer, healthier life with love for my mate.  It all makes logical sense, but I just gotta tell you ... a plate of steamed broccoli just doesn't give me the warm fuzzies that a bowl of, say, mashed potatoes with gravy does.  But I digress.

Last night I served grilled tilapia with green beans and brown rice.  And (dipping head here) garlic toast.  Progress, not perfection, right?  Steve made the comment during dinner that he really liked eating healthier, which just made me happy.  I know making these small changes is good for us, but hearing that little word of affirmation made it even better.

In addition to meal changes, I have started both of us on salmon oil capsules.  The main immediate goal for both Steve and me is reduction in inflammation, but fish oil provides so many other great health benefits:  heart & cardio function, joint health, brain function, and more.  I found a very high quality cold pressed salmon oil supplement with all eight of the Omega-3s that we need, and I feel really good about that.

Steve is using the treadmill, and I am doing my PT exercises faithfully, and doing some walking outside, but not enough.  I need to do more.  So, once again, progress, but definitely not perfection.  We have lots of room for improvement, but that's okay.  As long as we're in pursuit of the goal of health, I'm happy.

Wishing you good health too, my dear readers!

More later --

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

 Does this basket make my butt look big?   No, seriously...

I am not really one to make resolutions, simply because I don't want to set myself up for failure.  How's that for positive thinking?   I just think that starting too many things at one time sort of predetermines a less than successful result.  At least, it does for me.  I have to keep it simple, stupid.  Big time. 

So, rather than set out a list of things I want to accomplish during this year, Steve and I have a word that we have chosen to make our focus this year and from now on:  HEALTH

We are going to try to keep health as a focus, and just do better.  I know we won't miraculously become perfect eaters, working out obsessively and becoming Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels.  We don't even care about doing that.  We just want to go into our senior years healthierIt's a big deal.  We've only got each other to take care of each other!

So, this is our time to do better.  To start making small steps to improve our health.  I went grocery shopping yesterday and bought a couple different kinds of flash frozen grilled fish, so that's on the menu this coming week.  I've also got a whole chicken in the freezer, and I'll take it out to thaw and we'll have a whole roasted chicken too.  Yummy and (yep) healthy.  I also bought a lot of green veggies, so we're good on that account too. 

So my wish for you is a very Happy and HEALTHY New Year.  And, may all your resolutions be keepers. 

More later --