I Got A New Butt For Christmas!

No, really!

I rested my hand against it a few days ago. A little shelf where once there was none had appeared. Better than a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer!

I’ve always been an active person: lifting, yoga, running. In spite of all that activity, in recent years, I started having groin and hip pain/ injuries. I’d rest it, let it heal and then it would come right back again.

I have read for years that many physically active people are glute strength deficient UNLESS they are doing glute specific exercises with good glute/mind connection or activation. It is possible to squat for instance and use predominately everything else besides your glutes. I’ve done it! Yoga butt? Only if you use your glutes instead of overcompensating with everything else available. Use ’em or lose ’em. And losing your glute strength is losing a huge piece of your lower body’s functional chain.

Enters Lara…

My hip was so messed up. I could barely do a lunge on that side anymore. Yet I could still run. Go figure. Lara has shown me a great personal trainer is worth every penny. Plus she sets up my barbells and puts them away! We spent our first eight weeks together getting my hip loosened up and ready to cooperate. We used bands and things I had never considered. She has coached me back from the middle aged abyss – given me direction, kept my form honest, challenged me and kept me accountable. She patiently reminds me to hinge at the hips, take my time and use the targeted muscles. Lara is also a kind and good person who loves dogs and animals. She makes fit people and the world better every day.

My enthusiasm for working out is back. AND my hip feels much better. Since those first 8 weeks, we’ve spent around another twelve weeks building my strength. There’s still more to do but I’m doing it. I feel like a kid who has received the glute (kind of like LEGOs) starter set for Christmas! Next is putting the Millennium Falcon (LEGO set) back together by Summer.

MERRY (old stuff is new again) Christmas!

Cracker Barrel.. A down home, kitschy, US American eatery where one can eat almost anything, especially breakfast, down to pancakes with one’s own bottle(s) of syrup – think airline liquor bottles. Its decor features lots of wood, a big fireplace and vintage signs, portraits and kitsch hanging everywhere. We go there. It’s pretty good! And other people must agree since it’s a busy place and there’s almost always a wait.

The waiting area is a quite large, gift shop where people browse and accumulate kitsch for their own home. I see the marketing here – nothing else to do shopping. What do I do? I read their Farmer’s Almanac for free and feel quite comfortable doing it. Did you know that Farmer’s Almanac is not only planting guides and weather predictions but is half filled with interesting articles? I read a really great one about flower frogs. No known origin for the name but you find frogs in water and they have those spots on their backs kind of like the holes in a flower frog like the one in my photo. Flower frogs had their hey day in the 1920’s through the 1940’s, I read. These are so cool!

The one above comes with its own bowl. Mostly the flower frogs I’ve seen are just the center part with the holes meant to sit in the bottom of a vase. You put your WOW! flowers in the holes and place your filler flowers around them. Not only does the flower frog hold your flowers in place but it makes it so you need less flowers to create a very nice display. My arrangement is only one, half price bunch when a vase without a frog would take at least two bunches, sometimes three to make it full and attractive.

I’ve been seeing these frogs as just the center piece with the holes at estate sales for ages but never knew what they were. They come in various sizes to sit in the bottom of various sized vases. They can come combined with a bowl like mine. They also come as statues and nature figurines with incorporated holes. I tried to get a draped, Grecian lady on ebay but she got too expensive. So I let her go. Imagine her though submerged or wading inside a vase with flowers in the holes around her. I’ll keep my eye out for something similar at estate sales – much more reasonably priced. I got my flower frog and bowl combo in the photo at the Peddler’s Mall the very next day after reading the article. I love it! How did these ever go out of style?

‘Tis The Season

‘Tis The Season…

A Thanksgiving, love poem from me to you.

‘Tis the season to begin again –

Open Heart,

Open Mind.

‘Tis the season to nurture a friend –

Open ear,

Open arms.

‘Tis the season to sing each heart’s hymn –

Open air,

Open tuned.

‘Tis the season for LOVE, unquestioned –

Open time,

Open end.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING !

MERRY EVERYTHING AND HAPPY ALWAYS !

Say Hello To My Little Holiday Friend

HAPPY MONDAY!

And it’s not just any Monday….

To those who are about to cook, I salute you!

CCF Tea

1/2 tsp whole cumin

1/2 tsp whole coriander

1/2 tsp whole fennel

4-6 cups water

Low boil in pan on stovetop for 5-10 minutes.

Strain into an insulated carafe and sip warm throughout the day especially after a meal.

This week marks the beginning of an intense season of cleaning, checking recipes, making lists, grocery shopping, figuring out where all those groceries are going to go, and finally baking/cooking.

Then the eating.

Food! Glorious food!

After that the digestive system does its earnest best to do its job!

SLOWLY.

Ever so SLOWLY.

The CCF Tea recipe above may just be a helpful answer for many of us. It’s an Ayurvedic/ Indian digestive helper. It tames post holiday or any overeating, change of routine food baby by helping reduce bloating, flatulence and inflammation that all that food and sugar may create. I swear by it for myself! YMMV. It’s so easy to prepare and tastes nice too. Try it and see if it helps you too!

By the way, I buy those whole spices in bulk at the Indian grocery. Then refill the glass bottles as needed. I go to Patel’s in Louisville. You get much more for your money this way. And they have very nice tea cookies, cardamom are my favorite!

Comfortable Shoes

The woman arrived –

Comfortable shoes, made up –

Upbeat and vital.

Comfortable shoes can make all the difference. It was once again time for my husband’s industry’s, annual awards banquet. One of the most difficult parts of getting ready and looking forward to a good time for me is what to wear. I have a few dresses I like and rotate for such occasions but:

1) It’s been a year or more since I’ve worn any of them. Does the dress I want to wear still fit? Answer: The dress still fit. Thank you, Baby Jesus!

2) Oh, man. I have to wear those painful , soles hard as rock boots with those skinny heels again – It was Living Hell after one hour’s wear last year. I could buy a new, more comfy pair but I only wear them once per year. Is it worth spending the money?

Jim knows how this goes… he talked reason into me. Buy a new pair of black boots, PLEASE. Realizing the chances of the consignment store having what I want in exactly my size are slim, off to the Shoe Warehouse, I go! They, of course, had exactly what I needed. Next, I went to the consignment store. If they had what I wanted, I would return the first pair. The consignment store in fact had a very similar boot in my size, seemingly unworn for $22.00! In BROWN. I really LOVE those brown boots but I needed black to go with my dress. So now I own 2 pairs of comfy boots!

On top of that, and just as exciting, my daughter offered to do my makeup. She’s good at makeovers but I was hesitant. Did I want to take the chance of not liking my make up right before an event or live dangerously. I gave up on foundation, powder and mascara years ago. My style lately – Just a little eyeliner, blush and lip balm, please. I put my faith in Paige and went with it.

Wow! She did a great job. I was ready to meet the world!

It all started with a comfortable pair of shoes.

HAPPY FRIDAY! And Sisterhood…

“Romanticism – We look back to the way it never was.” Brene Brown

As I was saying the other day, we tell ourselves stories all the time. In the case of the movie, Ladies IN BLACK, it’s harmless and beautiful making me quite hopeful it was this way and that it could be that way again. What a gorgeous movie!

The story revolves around teenage Lisa and the Ladies who work at Goode’s Department Store during the Christmas season of 1959 through the beginning of the New Year. Lisa has been hired as a temporary assistant. The ensemble cast including Rachel Taylor (I knew her from Jessica Jones) and Julia Ormond (so many movies) is amazing. Each lady having significant milestones they are working through while being there and having something significant to offer one another.

Vintage, downtown Sydney, Australia was as big of a character as the people having been convincingly brought back to life through computer graphics. Goode’s too! The hundreds if not thousands of extras were dressed in period, Summertime costume. It was so odd while experiencing Winter and the holiday season in the Northern Hemisphere seeing the Southern Hemisphere celebrate the holiday season in shorts, bathing suits, at campfires and on the beach. Totally normal there.

Nothing super deep here except maybe the parallels of many of our cast being reffos (Australian slang for refugees, post WWII European refugees) coming together with “native” common wealth folk – learning to appreciate one another’s culture – sisterhood, music, wine and even salami.

Ladies IN BLACK is a visually and spiritually uplifting and beautiful film. I watched it in segments from my treadmill – very healthy.

Carrot Cake For Breakfast! Woo hoo!

Carrot cake oatmeal! A lot less calories and sugar than a nice, big slice of baked carrot cake. Although I DO love a good carrot cake.

I saw this recipe show up on the Echo screen. Looked it up and immediately decided they had made this simple idea too complicated by making it on the stove top with shredded carrots. If I’ve learned anything from my Deceptively Delicious baking spree a few months back, it’s to use purées and when you’re too lazy to make purée, use baby food. Baby food keeps a long time and takes up less room than a couple lbs of carrots.

I made old fashioned oats in the microwave as usual. 1 cup water added to 1/2 cup rolled oats, a few shakes of salt. Microwave 1:30 minutes, stir, heat another 30 seconds. I like mine thick. YMMV…

Normally I would normally add 2T applesauce, 1 T brown sugar, 1T raisins, a shake of cinnamon. This is really good!

Today I added 2 T baby food carrots, 1 T brown sugar, cinnamon to taste, 1 T raisins, 1/2 tsp vanilla. Then I topped it with 5 pecan halves chopped and 1 T sour cream. It was delicious! AND I still have enough baby food carrots for another round.

Raisins, sour cream and nuts are very calorie dense. So you just want to use enough for the taste and the texture without going overboard or you might as well eat real carrot cake. For instance, 1 oz of pecans equals 200 calories. 5 halves are 1/4 oz or only 50 calories. 5 halves chopped looks like a lot more than it is and went farther toward taste and texture than I had imagined they would. Same with the sour cream but it was enough to give it richness.

Try it sometime. Enjoy!

You Are Not So Smart…

This is the name of a book I’ve started reading – You Are Not So Smart. I’ve always thought I was pretty smart and fairly logical. Well, it turns out I’m not and most of us aren’t.

I’ve only started reading and right off the bat I failed a simple logic test. Talk about feeling stupid! Seems we are all primed and influenced by things and circumstances (past and present) of which we aren’t aware – A LOT. Oh, and our/my emotions influence us more than I care to admit. We all tell ourselves stories that go along with all we’ve been primed and feel. I thought I had a good start on awareness because of meditation and other practices meant to cultivate awareness. I knew I still had far to go, but wow.

It’s no wonder we look at our neighbor and sometimes our relatives and wonder if they’re from another planet. It’s no wonder we’re calling out BOOMERS and MILLENNIALS and whatever other label we can pull out of pop culture. We all think we are smart and we are right when we really aren’t. I can hear it now… “But, but, but I really am.” LOL

It would be so easy to become nihilistic and say none of it matters because it has always been this way – wars, politics, pollution, generational disconnects and othering. BUT I’m not ready to give up yet. Nobody listens to me but I still keep on writing. I’ll still keep looking inside and try to do better and figure myself out. I think that’s where it starts – individually. Or that could very well be another story I tell myself.

I’ll keep reading and see what else I might glean. In the meantime, I still love you in spite of us all being illogical humans. Do you still love me?

Love Always,

Your Illogical Friend, Denise

Hello, Can You Hear Me?

Bonjour!

Hola!

Ciao!

Hallo!

Stephen King’s two admonitions for writers:

1) Read voraciously.

2) Write every day.

At one time, I mostly wrote. Lately, I’ve been mostly reading. I guess I’m not much at multitasking.

At one time and for many years, I saw my personality reflected in the spirit animal, Wolf. Now I wonder if that was really me after all. I still love wolves and the way of the pack but think maybe that seemed a bit more cool to my ego than the lumbering bear I’ve become or maybe have always been. Not in a growly bear way but a walking rather than running, foraging and building up, getting ready for hibernation way. Now that November is here and the temps have dropped, I might never by choice leave my cave if the food wouldn’t run out. I’ve become creatively sleepy. I’m still moving but at the minimum required to maintain fitness and health. This reflects the turn of the seasonal wheel and Nature’s energetic withdrawal but I must resist.

Hallo!

Bonjour!

Hola!

Wake up!

Stephen King, my Muse and the Spirit of Jack LaLanne are calling….

Anyone else?