26 August 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

I hit a little bump in the road last week - gaining 2.6 pounds. It's my biggest gain since I started Weight Watchers back in March and although I was totally aware that I was slipping up during the week, I couldn't quite get myself back on track. When the scale told me that I gained, that was the impetus needed to shape up. I was hoping to reach my goal of 40 pounds lost by Labor Day weekend, but unless I lose 5 pounds this week, it ain't happening. That's okay - I'll get there.

I was doing the WW Flex Plan for the first several months, but in early August, I switched over to the Core Plan to see if I could give my weight loss a jump start. It worked. I lost 5+ pounds lost that first week on Core; almost 2 pounds the second week. (Let's not remember the Week 3 slip-up, please.) Core is a bit more challenging to me - I have to really think about what I'm eating and plan ahead. But when I do that, I find that I'm not nearly as hungry throughout the day. Yes, the pasta/rice/potatoes are limited -- but considering I can have them once a day, I'm not missing them too much. (I still haven't acquired a taste for whole wheat pasta, but that's a topic for another day.) I find that Core forces me to eat a more balanced diet - ensuring I get in my dairy and fruit/veggie servings more easily than Flex. Those 100 calorie packs are just a little too tempting on Flex, but on Core I don't want the 'spend' any of my weekly point allowance on them when I'm just as satisfied with fruit, popcorn, or (my new favorite) pudding.

Last week was a bit challenging because I ate out a lot -- probably the most I've ate out in a single week since I started WW. I made smart choices at times, but other times the menu was so limited I just fell back and ordered the usual. My gain wasn't unexpected, but I had hoped it wouldn't be as bad as it was.

That said, I have had fun trying new recipes since I've been on the Core Plan. Two of my favorites (provided the links work) are Spicy Black Bean soup and Pan-Seared Chicken with Garlic Sauce. I modify the soup slightly -- as I don't like corn in soups, I substitute an extra can of black beans instead. The chicken is wonderful -- but as the recipe calls for 12 cloves of garlic, you better like garlic. I served the chicken with brown rice -- the rice soaks up the extra sauce on your plate and gives it an delicious flavor. The other WW recipe that's become a staple in this house is the Moroccan Chicken with Chick Peas (or as it's now known amongst my friends - Mo Rocca Chicken). This dish calls for white rice, but as I prefer brown rice, that's what I use.

I'm still focused on my goal to lose more weight. I'm pleased at (and proud of) how far I've come since March, but realize I have a ways to go yet. I think I'm FINALLY down to what I was (or less) on my wedding day. If I had my wedding dress here, instead of at my Mom's in Ohio, I'd try it on to see if it fits. I feel a thousand-fold better - I have much more energy and stamina. I don't remember where Mark and I were a few weeks ago, but I flew up a flight of stairs effortlessy - before I would be winded before I got to the top of the stairs.

While I'm not wearing a bikini this summer as my husband hoped, I'm optimistic that next year it may be possible. (Not really sure I want to wear one as I've always have thunder thighs, but we'll consider it.) I'm enjoying discovering new foods and find that I'm not missing a lot of things that I used to eat. Although yesterday I did splurge on a Goo Goo Cluster. K-mart had them on sale for $1/box, so I bought one and tried one. It was good, but I put the rest of them in the freezer. If I'm tempted in the future, I'll have to wait for it to thaw out.

20 August 2008

Rant du Jour

lucite bracelet
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Over the past week, I’ve received three invitations from friends/neighbors/co-workers to various jewelry parties – Lia Sophia, Silpada, you name it. I’ve wavered between finding it amusing to being slightly annoyed with these invites.

In the case of my co-worker who probably doesn't know what I do outside of my day job, I’m more forgiving. With my friends and neighbors, it’s been quite hard to sit there with a smile on my face and politely decline when I’m fighting back a response along the lines of “Uh, hello? You know I *make* jewelry. Whatever gave you the slightest idea that I’d want to purchase some overpriced, mass-produced crap?

Granted, there’s a time and a place for this sort of jewelry – just not in my jewelry box.

I’ll admit I can’t make everything – either because I’m not skilled in the technique or I have no interest in working with certain materials, so I am still in the market to purchase jewelry from others. But I don’t want to have the same jewelry everyone else has – which is why these jewelry parties turn me off so. I want to buy handmade. I want jewelry that is different from what everyone else wears. I like to support these artists at the local craft fairs or the not-so-local artists who sell their wares on etsy. (I may sound a bit like an etsy shill, but I’m in awe of the work of some of the sellers there – jewelry or otherwise.)

I’ve been considering hosting an open house/trunk show event and asking a couple of my fellow EtsyNJ team members if they’d be interested in participating – but the reality is that my autumn schedule is already pretty solidly booked. Off in the distance is an idea of hosting a jewelry party of my own after hours at work. Just things that are mulling around in my head, but that would possibly help me and my work get noticed – and in the long run, maybe fend off some of these unwanted invites. In the mean time, I’m looking forward to a day in the studio on Friday. Ideas are bouncing around in my head and I’d like to either get them down on paper or the beadboard.

14 August 2008

Remembering Henry - in stitches

Remembering Henry
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

When my mom was visiting over Memorial Day, we took a trip to one of the cross-stitch shops in the area. I saw this chart which reminded me of Henry sitting with his back to us. Of course, the colors of the dog on the chart were different, but I bought it anyhow, knowing that I could customize it to match my beloved pup.

This past weekend, I felt the urge to pull out needle and thread again, so I grabbed this chart and went in search for Henry appropriate colors. While watching Michael Phelps win gold medal after gold medal, I've been stitching away on this piece. I swapped out the entire thread/fabric choices. It was charted with yellows, but I went with the reddish browns instead to capture Henry's coloring.

Now that I've finished the piece, I need to decide what to do with it - frame it, make it into a mini pillow (it's approximately 4.5 inches tall x 2 inches wide), or put it into the drawer under the bed with all my other finished and unframed projects.

The particulars on this piece are:

Designer: Ever So Little
Fabric: 28 ct Light Mocha Cashel Linen
Threads: Weeks Dye Works Hazelnut and Cognac, DMC 801

13 August 2008

Oh My Begonias!

Garden Flowers 2008
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Just a quick post to say that I am alive and well - but exhausted.

There's this little thing called The Olympics that has been occupying my time -- or rather a certain athlete whose name sounds an awful lot like Michael Phelps. I don't think I've been in bed before midnight since Sunday. It's catching up to me. Since Phelps is not swimming in any finals tonight, I just might crawl into bed at 8 PM and read until I can no longer keep my eyes open.

Some of the begonia bulbs I planted in the spring have started to bloom. This one is right outside my front door, next to my new stoop. I think I'll move it next year -- just so it can have a bit more room to grow. No flowers on the other begonias yet; hoping it's just a matter of time.

The weather here in Jersey has been simply gorgeous the past few days. Temps are in the 70s/80s during the day, low humidity. We turned off the AC and opened the windows. I can't believe this is the middle of August - it feels more like September. But I won't complain -- I'll gladly take this weather over 90+ degrees and 90% humidity.

While I've been watching The Olympics, I've been busy stitching a piece in remembrance of Henry. I'm almost done with it - just need another night or two and then I'll take a photo and post it. I've adapted the colors in the piece to better capture his coloring. I'm excited at how quickly it's stitched up.

Okey doke, gotta walk the dogs one last time before bed - then it's lights out for me.

06 August 2008

To Quench Your Thirst

Lemon Lime Earrings
Originally uploaded by MarciNYC

Yes, after a few weeks, I finally put some of my bead booty bonanza to use. Just listed in my etsy shop are these pretties. They're lightweight, lovely and all around summery. I feel like a glass of ice cold lemonade (or limeade) right about now.

There's a bajillion other resin beads just screaming for me to put them to good use, but this will have to do for now. My mojo is back - for now - and it's time to get those ideas that are in my head into reality.

03 August 2008

Review: Pledged - The Secret Life of Sororities

An above-average read.

Don't let this fool you - this isn't a tale of everywoman's sorority experience. It's the tale of FOUR women Robbins followed over the course of a year. Binge drinking, drug use, cattiness, eating disorders - yes,while those things happen in sororities, they are not isolated to sorority women. Trust me - I saw plenty of that in my (all women) dorm.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a sorority woman. I could relate to some of the events in the book, but much of it was foreign to me. My chapter didn't have a house; however, one year I lived with some of my sisters in an off-campus apartment. I believe we would have faced many of the issues we did regardless of whether or not we were sorority sisters.

One bit that I did find interesting was Robbins' comparison of the traditionally white sororities versus the traditionally black sororities. I've often questioned why many women I meet who were intitiated into NPC groups don't consider themselves a sister after their college years; those who pledge an NPHC group are sisters for life. While the NPC groups do have national philanthropies (for which many of their events are fundraisers), the NPHC groups focus on community service. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned from the NPHC groups.

Twenty-some years after my initiation, I am still active in an alumnae chapter. I have lived across the USA and have belonged to many different alumnae chapters. Wherever I've gone, I've found me an instant family -- and like a biological family, I've had sisters who I didn't particularly care for. However, my current alumnae chapter has provided me with great friends who I can count on in good times and bad. I'm definitely proud to be a sorority woman -- and believe that it's for a lifetime. While my collegiate experience was an overall positive one, it's the alumnae experience that has taught me the value of sisterhood.