I wish I could hibernate every winter.  Just curl up into a little ball in my bed sometime around late November and wake up at the end of March and the start of spring. True, my annual income would take a hit, but I wouldn't be spending much either, so I could hopefully make ends meet by working the other 7 and a half months out of the year.

Every winter I go into a slump.  I don't know what to write about, because nothing is happening.  If I wrote about what I was really thinking 95% of the time, it would be about how I'm cold and how I'm sick of winter.  Who wants to read that?  A "big outing" for us in the winter is going to the grocery store, because we have to actually take off our (slightly) warmer, comfy clothes to put on something more respectable. 

I already wear long underwear tops and bottom under all of my clothes whenever I'm home, I usually have the hood up on the sweatshirt I'm wearing, and we've even decided to suck it up and turn out heat up a bit this year - something that was very hard for two frugal people to do.  Why would we want to spend money on heat????  Oh, that's right - because I'm going to cry if we don't warm up these bones of mine.  My favorite winter hobby - which DH absolutely hates - is curling up in bed under all of my blankets with a book and reading the hours away, passing the time second by second until the snow melts and the sun finally comes out again.   I dream about the beach, blue skies and blue water, the sun, and warmth.  I smell spring breezes in my dream that are so real I wake up momentarily exhilarated until I realize that it was all a dream.  A tease of a dream. 

If I can't hibernate then I should at least fly south for the winter.  Where it's warmer and I can function like a real human being.  Where winter coats are irrelevant and entire cities shut down for one inch of snow (because I think that's how it should be.)  Every winter - and increasingly more and more as each new winter arrives - I talk about moving somewhere warmer.  Some day I might actually be desperate enough to do it.  If only I could come into a large sum of money that would allow me to keep my heat at 80 starting October 1st, I could manage it here in the cold, cold north.  But until then, I guess I need to invest in long underwear and stock up on good books and warm blankets to get me through.  It's only January, after all.  At least two more months of this crap!  *shudder*

My First Two Sewing Projects

I decided that the best way to learn to sew was just to jump in head first and start with a project.  Since I didn't have any material other than an old t-shirt, I decided to start by making Murphy a tiny, Murph-sized pillow.

First I cut and pinned the tiny pillow. Then I sewed it, flipped it inside out, stuffed it with more t-shirt, and sewed it closed.  There must be a secret for going around corners, but I don't know it yet.  When I hit a corner I just bring my needle up, rotate the fabric and keep going but there are always loose pieces of thread whenever I do this.  However, since this is a pillow and I'm going to turn it inside out, I decided not worry about it too much.

Here is Murphy using the pillow that I made for him.

Recognizing how completely and utterly ridiculous this whole idea even was, I was shocked to find that Murph kind of liked the pillow.

With that success behind me I was motivated for another project.  This time: a squeaky toy holder.  Now that's not ridiculous at all.

The pouch and the squeaky toy

You might wonder why Murphy's squeaky toys needed a holder (or a pouch, if you will).  You would be right to wonder, since there is no good answer.  But I can tell you that after making a pouch for Murphy's squeaky hot dog, it was like bringing a new toy back to life.  Murph almost never played with the hot dog, but now that it was in a sack, he loved it and was super possessive. 

Action shot!

Again success.

Actually, I kid.  Both of these projects, as simple as they seem, were actually quite crappy, but it was a good way to get started and have something to practice on.  I figure that no matter what I try, the first dozen or so things that I make are going to be horrible, so I might as well just take on horrible, stupid projects, right?

Birthday Pie!

On Sunday we decided to go out and by ourselves a small birthday cake.  We're trying to eat healthy but come on - you only turn 30 once!

We decided to buy an almond torte from Giant Eagle, since they don't have anything in them that I can't eat and DH finds them relatively tasty.  Imagine our disappointment when we got to the Giant Eagle and they didn't have any almond tortes.  So sad.

So I decided to make a pudding pie instead.  It was a weekend so I could have dairy without offending anyone and I had been thinking about pudding every since DH made me try yogurt recently.

I present to you, the birthday pudding pie.

It may not look like much, but it was sooo tasty.  Happy Birthday to us!

Here We Go Steelers!!!

Unless you live in a box (or, I suppose, outside of the Pittsburgh region) you already know that the Steeler's won the AFC championship on Sunday night and will be competing in yet another Super Bowl!!!  Woo hoo!!

I had some pictures from Sunday night, but for some reason my computer is refusing to recognize my camera card.  Oh well, they weren't really that exciting.  Let's instead, look at some pictures from the night that the Steeler's won the Super Bowl back in 2006.

My lucky airbrush tatoo

We made the genius (and I really do mean genius) decision to attend a party in the South Side.  Ordinarily I avoid the South Side like the plague - congested streets with no parking and drunk college students everywhere.  But for the Super Bowl, that was exactly what I was looking for.

Carson Street at half time - the calm before the storm

You can't really see them in the picture above (all of these pictures are going to be fairly crappy because they were taken with my 1 or 2 megapixel camera) but I was posing in front of a bunch of police officers that were on horseback, preparing to contain the rowdiness.

Unfortunately, I had the flu, and so was sick I barely remember anything.  But I do remember that they won!  And that everyone was screaming.  And then everyone that was at the party put on their coats, ran out of the house, and down the three blocks onto Carson Street, where people were literally pouring out of the bars and apartments in droves.  It was amazing.

I'm trying to convey with these pictures the general sense of absolute chaos that was going around,but it's hard to capture that sort of energy on memory card.  I have a horrible, one-megapixel video that I took where you can really hear the cheering and chanting and yelling that was going on, but it's so screeching and horrible you might go deaf and I don't want a lawsuit on my hands.

I look pretty good for almost dying of the flu, don't I?

People were everywhere.  All waving towels, all cheering, running in crazy circles.

No, we do NOT know that guy in the picture above.  But that was part of the fun of it! People just wanted to be part of history and that guy will forever be part of our history.

Now the question is, where should we go this year?  We don't know anyone who lives in the South Side anymore, and I'm pretty sure in order to get a table at a bar we'd have to get there at like 1 p.m.  I'm not sure we're willing to make that kind of commitment.  I'm also not sure that I want to deal with the hassle of parking in the South Side and trying to get out of the city afterwards.  In 2006 I was in grad school, so not getting enough sleep was the story of my life, and I live in the city, so I didn't have to try to get out it.   Now DH and I are "old" (I'm almost 30!), we live in the suburbs, and we hate the thought of the hassle of dealing with the South Side on Super Bowl Sunday.

But we're also young at heart, and we remember the amazing time we had being there.  And I realize that it's hard to turn your back to an opportunity to relive a moment like that again.  It could be a decision that I regret or cherish for the rest of my life.

Short Title: Sewing

Long Title: My Sewing Machine and the Most Learning I've Done in a Really Long Time

I got a sewing machine for Christmas.  I asked for one actually, after being frustrated by having to get rid of items of clothing because they were too big or because a hem was loose, and also after being inspired by some really cool sewing blogs such as New Dress a Day.

I haven't had an opportunity to really try the sewing machine until this weekend, but I finally got it out.  I decided to start by reading the manual but quickly realized that's a bad idea.  I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.  So I pulled the machine out and tried to refer to the actual machine while reading the manual.  I'm pretty sure at one point I was so deep in concentration that my brow was furrowed and I was all hunched over.  It was intense.  DH kept making fun of me.

My first bobbin

"This is seriously the most learning that I've done in a long, long time," I declared.  Probably since I took a Spanish class at CMU a few years ago.

But I wasn't kidding. Sewing machines are intensely complicated, and from what I can tell, unnecessarily so.  Let me review.

In order to "thread the machine" you have to take the thread from the top of the machine, wind it around a little metal piece, down a slot in the front of the machine, under a loop, up a another slot back towards the top, around a metal loop and then back down again.  Now you're finally at the needle.  But first you have to hook the thread around this little piece of metal and then only do you get to put the thread through the needle using yet another contraption.  Ridiculous, I tell you.  I'd like someone to explain to my why exactly the thread needs to go up, down and around so many different times and places.  It seems to me like going straight from the spool to the needle would work just as good.  This, I tell you, is why young people today don't have any interest in sewing.  Too damn complicated.

Anyway, if you're just learning how to thread your sewing machine I would suggest skipping the users manual completely - if you're not family with a sewing machine it will make absolutely no sense.  Instead, I recommend going straight to YouTube and searching for "How to thread a YOUR MODEL HERE sewing machine" and you're sure to get a half dozen step by step videos.  After wasting about 3 hours trying to figure it out from the manual, YouTube had me up and running in less than 20 minutes.

 But now that the machine is threaded, what's next?  I tried just playing around with it, but I was clearly doing something wrong, since I kept getting these little loopy things on the back on the old t-shirt I was playing around with.  Still not sure how to fix that, and YouTube hasn't been much help.  But I have 4 spools of thread and not a lot else to do, so I'm sure I'll be showcasing my first project in no time!

The View From Here

It's currently 18 degrees outside.  That's pretty frigid if you ask me.  Frigid enough that when Murphy comes in from outside, he's usually limping on at least one of his four paws, since the pads on his feet freeze.

And yet it's also sunny out.  Blue skies and bright sun streaming in through the window.

It's deceptively nice, enough so that Murphy keeps asking to go outside even though it's oh-so-cold.  Around his third or fourth time outside this morning we found this:

 Can you see him up there???

Yep.  He's laying in the snow.

Lounging in the sun as if it's the middle of June.  Apparently if you're laying down, your feet don't freeze as easily.

Actually that's not true.  When he came in three minutes later he was definitely only walking on three paws.


The Worst Commute Home - Ever

Last week I mentioned how on Tuesday, January 11 (1/11/11, anyone???) it took me three hours to get home.

I've had my fair share of horrible commutes in the past.  I live a solid 15 miles from my workplace, and unlike my husband - who travels 12 or so miles away from the city and further into the countryside - I drive straight towards the city.  Not only straight towards the city but I essentially have to go through downtown Pittsburgh and then onto Pittsburgh "other downtown," Oakland, which has it's own share of traffic nightmares.

So on 1/11/11, I left work at my normal time - 4:45 p.m. - after watching it snow for much of the afternoon.  The roads didn't look great, but at least from the view from my office, traffic was moving.  I cleaned off my car and headed out, traveling down Forbes Avenue.  In less than a minute I was stopped, and I should have known right then and there that it was going to be a bad night - Fifth Avenue was so backed up that it had backed up onto Forbes Avenue. 

It took me about 30 minutes to get onto Fifth, and all I could see was an ocean of red brake lights.  Nothing was really moving.  It would creep along at once seemed to be about one inch per minute.  I hit Facebook and Twitter and wrote some posts lamenting the horrible traffic.  The story seemed to be the same for everyone - traffic just plain sucked. 

After I exhausted those two distractions I tried to resume listening to my book on tape - Memoirs of a Geisha, which I should say is an incredible, captivating novel that has had me intrigued for my commutes the past week or so.  But I was too angry to listen.  I just wanted to move.

By this time it was about 5:30 - 45 minutes on the road - and I talked to DH for awhile, trying to figure out a game plan.  He went on google maps to assess the traffic backups on the roads I was trying to get to and it didn't look good.  Instead of red, which is the color they usually use for really bad traffic, it was black.  Black means NO MOVEMENT.  This was bad.. very, very bad.

I contemplated heading back to work, but I absolutely hated that idea.  I had already spent this much time making this much progress and just turning around and heading back only to sit in my office seemed like losing in a really big way.  I continued inching along Fifth until I was nearing the Boulevard of the Allies.  It was about 6:05 at this point and I had already been on the road for one hour and twenty minutes.  I wanted to cry. And I had to pee.

This was the point of no return.  If I got onto the Boulevard, there was no turning back.  There's really no where to pull off, no where to stop for the bathroom, no where to go but forward.  Once you're between their cattle drive concrete barriers, you're committed. 

It was around this time that I started to think about ways that I could go to the bathroom in my car, without making too much of a scene, or too much of a mess.  Two minutes later I snapped back to reality and realized that if I was thinking about ways to go to the bathroom in my car, then I clearly could not continue.  I was nearly passed my last chance to get back onto Forbes Avenue, so I took the turn, merged onto Forbes and pulled up in front of the Arby's.

I was pissed to be at Arby's.  But at least I could go to the bathroom.  And at least I could eat.  I ordered a meal and sat down.  It was tasty but I was really too unhappy to be there to enjoy it.  It was also freezing in there. 

Dear Arby's of Oakland - Please turn your heat up.  Your patrons are freezing and it makes the food go cold really quickly.  Cold fast food is nasty.  Thanks.

Anyway, I ate as slow as I possibly could, and then lamented my situation on Facebook.  A half dozen people tried to cheer me up by saying, "Arby's fries sound amazing!"  I quickly shot them down. "I should have been home an hour ago and yet I'm less than a mile from my workplace eating cold Arby's.  It is NOT amazing." 

Around 7 p.m. I couldn't sit in Arby's any longer.  It was time to face the traffic again.  In the end, I was glad that I decided to make my pit stop.  I seriously would have peed the car at some point if I tried to keep going, and I'm not sure that I would have gotten home any quicker.   I left at 7 and traffic still was not great, but I did make it home in 45 minutes, which is my normal commute time on a good day.  I walked in my door shortly after 7:45 p.m.  I had left work at 4:45.  Needless to say, I was pissed.  And exhausted. 

It's times like these when I really start considering looking for employment closer to my home. But the problem with working in higher ed is that there are only so many colleges, and the colleges are in the city.  I'm stuck working in the city.  Probably forever.  I need to learn to better utilize my PTO (vacation days.)  I save a lot of them up so that I can use them "when I need them," and I really should have used one that afternoon to take a half day and leave at noon.  I could have beaten the traffic and been curled up on my couch at home while everyone else was sitting in that horrible traffic.   I always somehow talk myself out of it - "It won't be so bad," or "I'll make it."  But it is always bad, and even if I eventually make it, making it after 3 hours of driving is NOT ok. 

Prior to this experience, two hours and 15 minutes was my longest commute ever.  I beat that by 45 minutes. If I ever beat this new record, then it's definitely time to find a new profession.  I'm thinking farming, or perhaps doggie day care.  What do you think?

He's 30!!!!

Happy, happy birthday to my wonderful husband of nearly 3 years now!  We've known each other since the fall of 2000, so DH can safely say that I've known him for 1/3 of his entire existence.  That's pretty amazing if you ask me.

Now all of a sudden, I am in the wonderful position of the being the "younger woman," still in my 20's while married to an older man in his 30's.

Here's a quick glance at some of our fun memories (post digital cameras). 

2004 - Visiting the Home Depot in New York City

2005 - On a Just Ducky Tour of Pittsburgh

2006 - Halloween as a Mario Brother; Our first fall in the first home we ever bought together

2007 - Embarking on a cross-country motorcycle trip with his brothers; We got engaged AND moved to the second house that we purchased together

2008 - Our wedding

2009 - Living life and loving it

2010 - Trip to Mexico!

2011 - DH turns 30 and who knows what this year will bring!

One thing is for sure - there will be many more amazing memories, this year and dozens to come. 

Happy Birthday, DH! I love you!

Here we go Steelers!

I am THRILLED that the Steeler's beat the Ravens on Saturday AND that the Jet's beat New England.  That means that next weeks game will once again be in Pittsburgh!!!

On Saturday night we went to Quaker Steak in Cranberry to watch the game.  We were disappointed to find that all of the seating in the bar area was full because there were a bunch of tables that were marked as "reserved" (but empty.)  So we had to sit in the general seating area where there were only small TV's, but we were able to make the most of it, and I was just happy that we didn't have to stand the entire time.  (DH would probably be fine with standing in a bar for 5 straight hours but I definitely am not.)

If you watched the game, you probably know that it wasn't looking good early on, but the Steeler's made quite a comeback in the 2nd half and it was very exciting.  There's nothing like being in a place where everyone is rooting for the Steeler's, wearing jerseys and cheering them on - the energy is amazing. I love it!

I didn't take many (or any, really) pictures from this weekend but DH did take this one of my sister and I posing in front of a sparkly heart that was located on the mirror behind our heads.  If you knew me and my sister in our teenage years, you know that we've come a long way to get to this picture.

My my, I have an enormous neck.

Go Steelers!!!

Santa Fe Chicken - Slow Cooker Recipe

The other day I tried a new slow cooker recipe and I was surprised at how tasty and low calorie it was.  I posted about it on Facebook and a lot of people were interested in the recipe, so here it is!

I originally got this recipe from a Weight Watchers recipes website/blog, so I cannot take credit for this.

Below is how I prepared it.

Santa Fe Chicken in the Slow Cooker

1.5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken break
1 can chicken broth
1 can black beans (undrained)
1 can diced tomatoes with chiles (undrained)
1 package of frozen corn, 8 to 10 ounces
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro (but dried is probably fine as well)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use less if you don't want the spice)

In the slow cooker, add the broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, cilantro and all four spices.  Stir it all together. Cut chicken into approximately 4 ounce pieces and lay on top of the stuff in the crock pot.  Lightly salt the chicken.

It should look something like this right before you start cooking it

Cook in the slow cooker on low for 8 to 10 hours (depending on how small your chicken pieces are.  My chicken pieces were pretty small and I cooked them for 10 hours - I definitely didn't need that much time.)

Shortly before you're ready to eat, remove all of the chicken using tongs and place on a cutting board.  Using two forks, shred the chicken.  Add it back to the crock pot and stir.  Cook for another 20 to 30 minutes on low.

While the shredded chicken is heating again, prepare your favorite form of rice product.  We used instant long grain brown rice.

The crock pot mixture makes 6 large servings!
Calories per serving: 225

Serve over 1 cup of rice.
Calories for rice: 150 per 1 cup serving

Total calories for this meal: 375, and trust me, you will be SO FULL.

I also added some extra cayenne pepper and cumin once I served myself since I like my food extra spicy.

Desk #2 - Complete!

This past weekend DH finished putting together the second of the two desks that we purchased, to replace our old, mis-matched desks.  Mine was a stupid plywood-like number that was great for college but sort of crappy now (moving 6 times will do that to a piece of furniture) and DH's desk was so ridiculously enormous that it deserved to have its own zip code.

Now we have matching desks.

Cheesy? Sort of.  But what else could we do?  We each wanted/needed to have our own desk, they needed to be on the small side, and they needed to complement each other since they would be in the same room.  Matching desks just made sense.

The view from the door/hallway

It's a tight little space now, even thought it once felt like a really decent sized bedroom. Now, there is barely enough rug exposed (much of it is covered but our desk chair mats) that I'm not sure if I'll be able to vacuum in there when I clean.

But it's also really functional for us.  We were previously dedicating an entire empty bedroom to just being a "spare bedroom."  Even though we probably have more overnight guests that most people our age, it's still not frequently enough to justify an entire spare bedroom.

And cramming everything into this room means that we can take our good old time with emptying out and painting the back bedroom.  It's a good thing too.  When did we finish the dining and finish painting this room? I'm pretty sure it was back in November.  I told you we were burnt out after that, and we weren't kidding.  It's taken us nearly two full months to get this room to this point, so clearly we needed to come up with a better solution than just moving the furniture into the living room for a few days.

My new blogging space

Originally I was supposed to get the desk with the hutch, but in the end it was obvious that DH had way more "stuff" that he needed space for than I did.  He's our primary banking and bill paying so I agreed that he should get the hutch.  I was worried that I wouldn't have enough storage space in my desk without the hutch but I'm pretty sure that in the end the only thing I'll be short on is filing cabinet space, so I may have to try to convince DH to give me half a drawer in his big four-drawer cabinet.

The other perk of my new desk?

The heat vent is right at my feet.  A definite perk during these horribly cold winter months.  And is it just me, or is this winter already way more horrible than last year? And it's only January?

Yes, definitely way more horrible.

Choosy Mouse's Cousin - Smart Mouse

Remember Choosy Mouse? If not, you can read here for a refresher.  We were pretty sure that we killed Choosy Mouse.  In fact, I'm still sure that we did.  But what we didn't know was that before we went and offed Choosy Mouse, he sent out holiday cards using our return address and his family came a-calling for the holidays.

Enter Choosy Mouse's cousin, Smart Mouse.

Here's the thing about Smart Mouse - he couldn't care less about the tasty cheese and creamy peanut butter that we left out for him.  Or rather, he did care, but he was smart enough to know that he should avoid those traps. 

The "tap tap tap tap tap" that we heard above our heads for HOURS ON END every night was literally driving us crazy.  We weren't getting any sleep, one of us was usually sleeping in the spare bedroom and sometimes we'd both be driven out of the bedroom.  It was ridiculous.

Extra Value Meal

Once we realized that the initial traps we set were not going to work, I slathered some traps in a cheese and peanut combination (what mouse could resist that?) and DH went all the way up into the attic to place a trap in the area where we were always hearing the noises above our head.  Previously we had just been leaving the traps near the attic entrance.

One of the tunnels and the obvious damage to the insulation
Once up there, DH realize why the sounds were so loud in our room - the Smart Mouse (or perhaps the Choosy Mouse before him) had created an elaborate maze of tunnels running through our insulation.  When he ran through these tunnels, he was basically running on the drywall of our ceiling.  Furthermore, there were significant areas where the insulation had been moved or destroyed, probably used to build nests elsewhere in the attic.

So DH put some traps directly into the tunnels that he had created and that night we went to sleep hoping to hear the delightful "SNAP!" of a trap ending Smart Mouse's life.  (I can't believe that I ever felt bad for these mice - listen to me now!)

How could he avoid that trap!!?!?

But there was no snap.  He went back up a few days later and found some new tunnels to try.  Still no snap.

We were getting desperate at this point.  We were so on edge about the whole thing that sometimes Murphy would sigh too loudly from his crate and I would instantly be wide awake because I was sure that it was the mouse up in the attic.  Neither of were getting a full night's sleep at all, and it was so frustrating. One morning at 4:30 a.m. we were both wide awake so we just started having a conversation as if that were the most normal thing in the world.

Time to bring in the big guns.

So we went to Home Depot and purchased new mesh wiring to try to repair the screen over the attic ventilation window and some of the ultrasonic electronic pest repellent devices, since that was basically the only other thing we hadn't tried yet (short of poison, which we weren't really interested in using in our attic.)

DH spent hours in the attic this past weekend (when it was freezing, if you remember) and he replaced the screen in such a way that it looks like a professional did it. He also installed a couple of outlets up there so that we could plug in a light to leave running 24/7 (since mice are nocturnal, right?), and so that we could plug in the ultrasonic devices that would hopefully make our attic a living hell for the Smart Mouse.  What better way to defeat the Smart Mouse than with technology, right?

DH felt fairly certain that the mouse was still in the attic, and that hopefully the ultrasonic noise would drive him crazy and right into a trap.  I - on the hand - believed that the Smart Mouse was NOT in the attic anymore, since I couldn't imagine him hanging out up there all day while DH was rooting around in his insulation nests and tunnels.

This final phase happened on Sunday evening (and I rewarded DH for the hard and awful work that he did by treating him to Domino's pizza but who knows who really enjoyed the treat more) and now it's Friday.  So far, it seems like I was correct - the mouse does not appear to be in the attic anymore.  We have enjoyed multiple great nights of sleep without the sounds of racing and nesting above our heads.  And I'm hopeful that the mesh screen will prevent any future critters from getting in, and that our rodent problems are over and done for good.


Did you miss me?

Wow, has it really been nearly a week since my last post!?!?  Time flies!

Here's what's been going on:
1. DH finished building the second desk so the temporary spare bedroom/office is almost complete!
2. Computers were moved.
3. But the internet wasn't.
4. Then we moved the internet!
5. But then on Tuesday, it snowed. It took me THREE HOURS to get home from work that night.  I was ready to put the house on the market and move back to Oakland.
6. Then last night, we went out for the first of what I am sure will be many birthday meals to celebrate DH's birthday.
7. Did I mention that he's going to be THIRTY!??!

So as you can see, lots has been going on, and tonight I am ready to get caught up on all that blogging that I've missed the past few days. Stay tuned!

He's One Hell of Turkey Dropper!

We spent our New Year's Eve at the home of one of DH's co-workers. They had a small party with enough food to feed an army, which included an entire turkey.  Somewhere along the line DH was "selected" as the one to have the "privilege" of getting to drop the turkey into the boiling hot oil.  I had an inkling - and that inkling was confirmed later - that it is less of an honor and more of a risk, as apparently turkey dropping can go quite poorly if not done well.

But who knew?  DH is an awesome turkey dropper.

The oil is behind you, honey

There you go!
Starting the drop

Slowly now

Soooo serious

This was the part where it was sort of scary


I wish I could have eaten some of the professional dropped turkey, but alas, it was fried in peanut oil and I didn't really want to risk starting off 2011 in the hospital.  I hear it was tasty though!

An unoriginal New Year's resolution

I like to try to avoid the cliches when it comes to New Year's resolutions, but sometimes you've just got to admit that losing weigh and healthy eating is a popular resolution because it's one that most American's need. 

We are no exception.

DH weighed in at his all time highest weight ever a day or so before January 1st, and promptly resolved to do something about it.  I was totally on board as I am always looking for a workout partner and if DH isn't interested in eating healthy food then it's a waste of my time to cook it.

We both took some "before" pictures although I'm not going to post those here. But here's a nice picture of DH on his first workout of 2011.

The main focus of our resolution is actually NOT to lose weight (at least for me it's not.)  DH needs to lose weight, so that will be a definite perk, but our main resolution is to focus on healthy eating.  The past few weeks we were sooo far away from that, although ordering pizza or making french fries and buffalo chicken instead of something more nutritious. 

So on December 31st we went to Giant Eagle ready to make an enormous shopping purchase since we had 20% off Food Perks (by the way, I do NOT recommend doing a massive shopping trip on New Year's Eve day; it took nearly two hours and I was so exhausted I was ready to faint - seriously.)  We stocked up on healthy foods - fresh and frozen vegetables, whole grain breads, and lean meats.  We bought lots of legumes and I even bought some yogurt (which I hate) and almond milk, in an effort to try to get more calcium.  We are counting calories, yes, but as long as we're putting good foods into our bodies and getting exercise, we're not going to worry ourselves to death about going over our daily recommended calorie allowance.

I got a shiny new pair of running shoes for Christmas from DH's dad and stepmom, and I LOVE them.  This is my first pair of actual, real live running shoes. 

Ewww.. is my skin really that scaly and dry?
Before, I always opted for relatively cheap basic street sneakers that I would then use for running.  I had no idea what a difference a pair of real running shoes could make in terms of comfort on my feet, even when I'm just walking.  It took me a solid hour - my first full workout in them - to get used to the feeling, because they definitely feel different (not bad, just really really different.) They're far tight in the heels and roomier in the toys, and are made primarily of mesh so they're really flexible and pliable compared to other shoes.  I could go on and on but just know that I love them.

I also got a set of resistance bands that I intend to use for building some upper body strength, since I currently have none.  I learned some basic resistance band exercises during the CCAC fitness class I took last fall, and I hope to incorporate some of those exercises in my evening routine.

So, that's all I'm going to say about our New Year's resolution for now.  I'm not going to write about it every day.  I'm not going to "weigh in" on any sort of regular basis (although for the record, I'm currently right at 150).  If we missed a workout or have a bad snack I'm not going to harp on it.  We're going to do good things for us, and we're going to do those good things because we want to.

And hopefully, that will be a recipe for success. 

Christmas in Delaware

During our Christmas visit in Delaware, DH's older brother gifted the other two younger brothers with matching t-shirts that all said "Ho."  Put them together and you have HO HO HO.  Pretty funny in and of itself, right?

But that's not enough for the Hartman brain.  Oh no.  

DH had the brilliant idea of spelling out OH OH OH instead.  It looked something like this. 

Two Oh's. 

Still two Oh's. 

This went on for awhile, I won't bore you will all of the pictures.  Actually, now that I look at all of the pictures and consider just how long those two were on the head's on a concrete floor with little more than a mat between their head's, I'm impressed that they didn't pass out immediately upon standing.



You gotta love it.