Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Walk in the Park

A walk in the park.

Testing house colors: Sagey siding / Ranch Acres trim / Ox Blood accent

Ground Turkey & Spinach Lasagna for dinner

Saturday, February 25, 2006

To Paint a House

The house needs painting.
Around this time of year I begin dreaming of paint colors. Especially when we walk through the neighborhood and I notice several houses that appear recently painted and how fresh and pretty they look.

It will be a while before our next renovation project can begin, so in this dreamy state of mind I google exterior paint colors and find that the paint manufacturers, like Sherman Williams, have made great progress with the house painting tools on their web sites. Better Homes and Gardens has a good one as well. You can pick a house style (modern, cottage, Victorian, etc) and select from a wide palette of colors, drag and drop them on the house siding, trim, accent.

I'm going with the classic Craftsman trio of a green siding, a creamy trim and ox blood accent. I've thought about a cooler color combo, something in blues and grays, to pick up on the river rock hues, but the cool hues just don't color my dreams like the earth ones do.

My house may be a Sears kit house. It's a 1 and 1/2 story Craftsman bungalow measuring 30' wide x 50' long. Since my house was divided up into 4 rental units sometime in the 1950's, I haven't quite figured out what its original floor plan was. I don't think it's changed all that much but there just must have been a fireplace at one time and where was the stairway to the second floor? I'm going to continue my search of the online catalogues to see if I can find it.

A trip to Home Depot this afternoon yeilded us a very nice selection of colors. I got a couple of greens and creams to try out. We'll slop them on the side of the house tomorrow to see how they look. I've already put a call into my guy, Jesus, to see if he's available to take on the job. He's really busy though, and I may have to look elsewhere.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

7 Weeks / 8 Pounds and Blue Skies

1.14 pounds per week.

In order to meet my goal, according to,
I'm about a 10th of a pound off my target weight loss per week. I've been considering my daily calorie intake as either low range - 1200 calories, mid range - 1500 calories, or high range - 1800 calories, and when I'm within those parameters I'm on the loosing end of my Sunday weigh-in. And that's right where I want to be, loosing, not gaining. Yay!

After some good rain this weekend, which produced blue blue skies and snow on the mountains in the distance, we went for a long walk to the other side of Silver Lake for brunch.

There were happy flowers along the way

and a yummy breakfast
burrito of egg and charizo with Mexican potatoes.

We took the long way home stopping at Trader Joe's for some greens and stuff, then a stop at Radio Shack for a battery. 2 1/2 hours on the streets and about 5 miles distance. A stroll in the park. Next week we're thinking about hiking up Mount Hollywood behind the Griffith Park Observatory. Oooooh and a stop at Trails Cafe for pie.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Chinese Lantern Festival

I expected more elaborate lanterns to be on display for the festival, but it seemed they were being sequestered until the end of the festival parade that we didn't wait around for. Maybe next time we'll go a little later and stay for the parade. But today we had lunch at our favorite spot on Olvera Street, the El Paseo Inn .Then wondered through the festival, where we entered a building through a side-door that stood ajar, beckoning us in to try other doors off the 3 story courtyard, leading us through beautiful gutted rooms. Will saw a ladder leading up to the rooftop and promptly tackled that without pause.Back outside we see what's going on at a Chinese calligraphy demonstration. Watch some children with painted faces running with all thier might to fly their little kites. Back at the plaza the dance and music were really wonderful. Very colorful and spirited. Waiting in the wings.For their routine.

Gone in 60 Seconds

After my husband shamelessly gobbled up a whole sheet of cookie dough, he worked it off on the glider. This is him in motion as I walked in the door last night.

The interesting thing is that after talking about his great big slip and fall, whereby I counseled him not to beat himself up about it. I had
a healthy dinner of Pho #17. But later that night I gobbled up 4 ozs of cheese to the tune of 456 calories. Even after we had just talked about giving in to the urges and the consequences. So I acknowledged it, and logged it, and now there is no more cheese in the house.

This weekend we'll do some walking and gliding and make bettor choices. It's a slip, not a ruination of the goal.

Here's a stationary shot of the apparatus on the backyard patio, where we like to hop on and take it for a spin.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

An Unexpected Love Poem

As found on today's Slate's anthology of classic romantic poems, I found this one particularly intriguing.

The great Greek poet Constantine Cavafy finds an unexpected, passionate image for love in "The Bandaged Shoulder." Here it is as translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard:


He said he'd hurt himself against a wall or had fallen down.
But there was probably some other reason

for the wounded, the bandaged shoulder.

With a rather abrupt gesture,
as he reached for a shelf to bring down
some photographs he wanted to look at,
the bandage came undone and a little blood ran.

I did it up again, taking my time
over the binding; he wasn't in pain
and I liked looking at the blood.
It was a thing of my love, that blood.

When he left, I found, in front of his chair,
a bloody rag, part of the dressing,
a rag to be thrown straight into the garbage;
and I put it to my lips
and kept it there a long while—
the blood of love against my lips.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Love of Mine

So, thank you, love of mine
For being so tender and kind
Now all our dreams will come true
Because you love me and I love you

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Mushroom, Barley & Swiss Chard Soup

Out of the L. A. Times Food Section, I found another winning soup recipe. Modified of course for my taste and time frame. I didn't make the from-scratch-mushroom-stock, I used Organics brand vegetable broth, enhanced with a variety of additional herbs.

Ingredients for 4 to 6 servings:

3 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced celery

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 cup pearl barley

6 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, trimmed & sliced

1 tablespoon salt

1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed and coarsely chopped

2 turnips, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a tall 8 quart stockpot over medium-high heat. Add carrots and celery and saute until tender but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
Stir in the barley and stock. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium nonstick skillet until hot. Add the mushrooms and saute until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add the salt, Swiss chard, turnips and sauteed mushrooms to the stockpot. Bring soup to a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes.

Per serving:

139 calories

5 grams fat

0 grams cholesterol

534 mg. sodium

21 grams carbohydrates

3 grams protein

Spent time in and out of the kitchen for most of the day dicing and coarsely chopping vegetables for said soup, doing laundry, listening to music, talking to Mom, sitting outside in the sun, watering the garden, folding clothes, prepping for tax filing. All with a deliciously warm breeze blowing in.

I picked up a great cd "Women of Latin America" full of Spanish guitar and the lyrical sounds of this type of music. It's produced by Putumayo World Music and it has been my soundtrack for today. As the day winds down and the cats begin wondering back inside all dirty from rolling in the dirt (Bink), or wet from running through the sprinkler (Pumpkin), I notice the days are getting longer and the garden needs some tending. The birds are in the big tree outside the library window, tossing their discarded berries to the ground. Jiggy's the last one in, I hear my husband saying his name at the back door screen. Jiggy. Jiggy. When he strolls in he'll flop and roll on the kitchen floor.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Fearless After 40

That's the heading on MORE magazine's February 2006 issue. I sent in one of those introductory offer cards with a 2-years-for-the-price-of-1 option. It is, after all, celebrating my age group. From the Table of contents:
  • On the Cover
  • MORE Now
  • MORE Style
  • Work & Money
  • People & Places
  • Body & Mind
  • Attitude
Except for the blazing BOTOX ads, I found a lot interesting in it's pages. A piece called "Making Peace with Food" hit home. By Lily Collett and Laura Fraser, it's about Lilly Collett and Laura Fraser's struggles with weight and finally finding solutions, though radically different from each other's, to their own eating issues.

(I've actually read Laura Fraser's book
"An Italian Affair", described as both travelogue and memoir, and I loved it. I recognized her face from the article in MORE so I pulled the book from my shelf to confirm it was her.)Laura's story: "I Eat for Pleasure". Struggling with her weight throughout her childhood and into adulthood, Laura has "done it by completely abandoning all diets, scales and calculations about calories or carbohydrates in favor of internal control". She says "Sure I'd be 15 pound thinner if I forbade myself red wine and chocolate, but life is too short." Her eating habits are "the result of a long studied process of learning to feed myself in a way that nurtures my body and soul."

She used a book meant for parents to teach their kids how to eat - How to Get Your Kid to Eat...but Not Too Much - Create a healthy food environment and schedule regular meals, and within that framework make decisions.

"I no longer binge on handfuls of granola, hunks of cheese and Hostess Fruit Pies, there's no urgency to finish something now before I go on a diet - I'll have another opportunity for a piece of dark-chocolate tomorrow".

"It turns out that my sense of what I should eat has led me to a diet that is mainly composed of fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality proteins, whole grains and olive oil - simple and delicious."

Lily's Story" "I eat by the rules". Also struggling with her weight throughout her childhood and into adulthood. At school kids "laughed at my funny clothes and my funny accent. Food was the nest I made, the place I hid."

"Like so many American women, adept at periodic self-deprivation as well, I lost the initiative ability to simply nourish this human body, giving it just enough - no more, no less." After the weight came off she'd "get a new boyfriend...and go back to eating whenever I was hungry, or bored, or anxious, or angry, or shy, or lonely, or at loose ends, or couldn't find the cap to the soy sauce."

"I don't trust my spontaneity and intuition. Even when I don't feel hungry, and even when I feel ravenous, I eat everything in those three weighed and measured meals....As I weigh and measure my food, I learn to weigh and measure my life...Because I no longer worry that I'll eat too much, I'm no longer afraid to savor what I do eat."

I see both of these women's stories in me, because I love to cook and know what I need to do, I can trust my instincts and nourish my body and soul with the meals I'm now preparing. I also know that I need structure in my life, so I use as a tool to help keep me on track, and I bought a kitchen scale to make sure I'm eating and recording my food accurately.

My tendency is to eat when I can't find the cap to the soy sauce. I recognize that. Now my therapy comes in the preparation, not from mindlessly eating that 5 slices of full-fat cheese. I will be most content if I'm healthy and normal and can indulge in chocolate and cheese in moderation.

Now it's time I go out and put in 15 minutes on the Glider, take a shower, and get ready to go on a date with my husband. I'm only up to 547 calories today, and I'm about to go burn off about 130 of those, so there's room for some luxury at dinner tonight. Yay!

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Half Pound Lost

Looking forward. To the weekend ahead, to time with my husband, to the joys of my animals, going out on Saturday night, having coffee and cooking in the kitchen. What a bunch of joys to come. Little joys to be sure. I feel that as long as I have joy in my life then I’m doing it right.

I’m not always happy; I’ve certainly known my share of trouble, heartache, loss, anger, frustration, disappointment, loneliness. But I know enough about myself now to know that I have choices. And if there is something in my life that's bringing me down, I’ll take action to change it. It may not always be in my control to make it happen as soon as I may want it to, but I’ll get there, and what I do to get me there is sometimes enough, because then I know there’s something better up ahead.

I’ve successfully achieved a certain amount of comfort in my life with the right balance of adventure. And I don’t take these comforts or adventures lightly. It has taken effort and sacrifice and hard work to get there sometimes. And sometimes they appear effortlessly by just letting things happen and trusting my instincts. It’s life after all. Good, bad, beautiful, ugly. The highs, the lows and all the good stuff in between.
I’m not sure what led me to this stream of thought tonight. Maybe it’s because of the changes I’ve made and that I’ve really been able to stay on track with this whole eating better and exercise routine. And I am NOT dieting. That word is a set up for failure, and this is not that. I am struggling, as I knew I would. It’s not easy. But I’ll continue in this direction, the right direction, and see what the scales tell me this week. It’s been nearly five weeks now and as of last Sunday I’ve lost 5 pounds, which is ok, and healthy, I know. But man, another 3 pound loss, or even 2 pound loss week would really be great.

We’ll see what happens Sunday when I hit the scale. And if it’s another ½ pound it’s a ½ pound lost.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Toast, to The Ambassador

Thursday night Will and I hob nobbed at the H.M.S. Bounty and adjoining Gaylord lobby to raise a glass in honor of the glory days of the great Ambassador Hotel. I've worked across the street from the Ambassador for eight years and have watched its demolition from my 12th floor vantage point.

The red carpet was out and the press along side it. We arrived shortly after 7:00 pm, grabbed a couple of complimentary drinks, made our way to the Blogger's table and ate appetizer of stuffed mushrooms, coconut shrimp, and lobster cocktail on endive.

At the bar, not too put out by the whole to-do, sat the Bounty's old timers drinking and watching Jeopardy.

We met the dear Carlyn Frank Benjamin who was featured in the L.A. Times article about her life growing up at the Ambassador. She lived with her family on the second floor of the Rincon bungalow from when the hotel opened in 1921 through 1938. Her Father was the hotel manager and Grandfather the hotel company's V. P.

I also met another woman, Shirley Huntley, who's husband was the house photographer from the mid-60's through the 70's. There with her son, Bob Huntley, they had a display of photos from the day with the likes of
Joey Bishop.

It was very nice to meet Mike Schneider from Franklin Avenue (I've been contributing photos of the demolition to his Ambassador site) along with many other bloggers. It's always so interesting to meet the folks who's blogs you read. Like finally meeting the person behind the voice on the phone.

At the end of the night, I checked in with Ramon, perched proudly at the end of the bar he used to tend, and congratulated him on a successful evening. He takes good care of his customers and he opened his place up to us tonight.