StepOut - Donate

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We All Scream...

I don't even have words for this one... I found myself alongside this thing while driving through my old hometown on Saturday.
Possibly the most effective stop sign I have ever seen.

The eyes have it. And whatever it is they have, I do not want!

Feel free to discuss...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Back on Track...Again!

I knew I had a busy weekend chock-full of celebrations and temptations coming up for Father's Day weekend. Aside from Father's Day, Sunday is also my mother's birthday, and I had been invited to a graduation party at a swanky steakhouse. Since I just re-dedicated myself to following the Weight Watcher's plan and have been doing so well on it, I decided that I was not going to make excuses and allow this weekend to derail me. I was going to plan ahead, track my meals and snacks and be in control! Yeah! No one can stop me but me!

Stop...back to reality... Nothing ever really goes exactly as planned, right? My plan was to spend Saturday afternoon with my Mother celebrating her birthday. Since she's also on a diet (lifestyle, I know), we were going to simply meet at her house and have a healthy lunch there. I was also going to go through the WW materials and make a list of point-friendly steakhouse foods, so I'd have an idea of what I could order at the party without going overboard. I wasn't too worried about the food at my father's house on Sunday, since he typically cooks pretty healthy meals and the key for me would be to avoid foraging through his pantry.

Here's what actually happened...Mom and I were both running late (this must be a genetic trait), and I had to stop at my step-sister's house to drop off some stuff for her community band's fundraising garage sale, I got to my mother's much later than anticipated and was faced with a freshly baked peach pie and a cherry pie (my absolute favorite) in the making. She asked me to help assemble the cherry pie while she did some other stuff, and I managed not to sneak any tastes. So far, so good.

We prepared ourselves some healthy sandwiches, and out of the blue, the phone started ringing and my stepfather came inside to say he just got a call and his sister suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Shock and chaos ensued. I did not know my step-aunt well, as my mother got remarried after I was grown and out of the house, and I only met her a few times, so while still shocked and upset, I was able to support Mom and step-dad while the phone kept ringing and they tried to contact my step-siblings to tell them the news. They were both very much in shock, understandably. I wasn't sure if I should still go the graduation party that night, and wanted to be there for Mom if she needed the support. My mom and step-father were originally also attending, as the graduate is my youngest step-brother's girlfriend. I talked to my mother and asked her if she would prefer that I stay home with them, but she said she wanted me to go and sent me with the gifts and cards.

Since I got lost on foot between parking in downtown Sacramento and getting to the restaurant, I very likely got in maybe 1 activity point. I wandered around downtown in my ill-fitting (but very cute!) chic silver retro-looking high-heeled sandals for at least 20 minutes before I found the restaurant. I was getting close to panicking when I found a city map on a corner across from the capital building. (Good thing that's the area I was in or I would have really been in trouble.) It confirmed that I had wandered in the complete opposite direction from where I should have. I already knew this, since I didn't park that far from the restaurant, and should have only had to walk about 2 blocks. Too bad I didn't take the Garmin from my car and use it while walking.

I am glad that I went because my step-brother was there and in shock and able to talk to me a bit about stuff without ruining the celebration for his girlfriend. He wasn't sure he should have gone to the party either, but then he and his girlfriend also reminded themselves that it's what his aunt would have wanted (they were telling me that she was quite a spitfire and was pretty no-nonsense). With all that had happened that afternoon, I didn't end up prepared for the meal as planned, as I didn't have a chance to look up the points for common steakhouse items. I did try to be moderate with sauces and dressings (though I do think I could live off of Bearnaise now) and didn't finish my dessert.

After the party, which was fun and lively, I drove the hour to my father's house. I didn't have a chance to track my points that day, since I've become dependent on my computer for tracking and it was so late. I didn't end up tracking on Sunday either, since I was spending time with my family and honestly just not thinking about it. I did cave to a craving yesterday though, and stopped at McDonald's on the way home. Instead of the usual extra value meal that I would normally have ordered, I got a cheeseburger Happy Meal. Bonus - toy!

This morning, I tracked everything from the weekend, and managed to somehow still have weekly points left (a whopping 16). Considering the Chocolate Mousse I had for dessert at Morton's, which per the online points finder is 25PPV (and absolutely worth every single point), I am kind of amazed that I have a any weekly points left at all. Granted, I did not get all of my healthy oils or fruits/veggies in yesterday, but I still think I did pretty well with the hectic and emotional weekend.

Nobody's perfect, after all.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Race for the Cure

I have decided to participate in the 15th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure this coming May, to do my part in the fight against breast cancer. I participated as part of a team last year, and decided to do it again this year. I started my own team, and am still hoping to get an additional 12 members signed up so we officially qualify as one. Please think about joining us! The event is on May 7th (Mother's Day weekend - fitting isn't it?) at Cal Expo in Sacramento, CA.

There are 5 ways to participate, including running the 5k, walking the 5k (my choice), running or walking the 1 mile fun run and sleeping in. Yep, you read that right. If you know you won't be able to make it out to Sacramento for the event, but still want to be a part of this worthy cause, you can register as part of my team (or as an individual, but I'd love you to be on my team!) and raise funds without having to be present on race day.

Please visit my personal campaign page and consider making a donation or joining my team. Thank you so much for your support!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Curioser and Curiouser

I attended my cousin's wedding a few weeks ago in Fredericksburg, VA. It was a beautiful and touching Jewish ceremony (the rabbi was a really good speaker) and a lovely reception, and my cousin and his bride seem very happy. I wish them continued happiness together and hope to see them more often!

(The toasts went on for a while, and were all very sweet, but I did catch the bride eyeing the champagne.)

As a personal touch, the bride chose to give everyone two bags of M&M's as their favor. The two bags were tied together with a ribbon and a note telling the story of how when the bride's grandfather would take her to the movies, they'd both get a bag of M&M's. The bride (Jess) would finish all of her candy during the previews, and her grandfather would notice and share his candy with her. So, the first bag of M&M's was for us, and we were all to share the second bag. I thought that was a neat idea for wedding favors, and one I hadn't seen before.

So, diet be damned! I cracked open my candy and chowed down the whole first bag on my plane flight home. I ate the second bag at home a few days later. I would have shared it with my cat, but chocolate doesn't mix well with the kitties, so I had to act as proxy. As I was eating the candy slowly, I ran across this oddity:

(Yes, I did eat it. No, it did not taste like banana.)

How did this make it past quality control? Do they have quality control? I don't know why I felt the need to take photos, but my camera was right there, so why not?

Saturday, March 05, 2011


I am disappointed in myself. I didn't finish a single scarf for the Special Olympic Scarf Project. The last state in need (VA, which I just returned from) has a receipt deadline of Monday, March 7. I was hoping to be able to finish at least one scarf today and send it to Alaska, whose deadline is the 9th, but they have received twice the number of requested scarves already. So much for that idea.

THANKS A LOT, TENDINITIS! I really do blame it for this, since it hit right when I received my yarn, and got worse when I started the scarf. I had attempted to crochet with the splint on, but it was really a challenge (and painful without it). Since I got the cortisone shot last week, the pain has subsided (it took a few days, and I was out of town at a family wedding); however, now that I feel pain-free enough to work on it, time has run out.

Now I am left with a half-finished granny square scarf, and a few skeins of brightly colored yarns. Luckily, there is also a Scarf Project for the 2012 Special Olympics. I have a good deal of advance knowledge for next year's project, so I expect more out of myself in the future. Hopefully they will use one of this year's colors, if not both, for next year's scarves! They haven't announced the colors yet, so there's still hope. I'll find out sometime this April.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Scarf Project Update

If you read a few posts back, you'll remember that I was itching to start working on whipping up some scarves for the Special Olympics. I finally received my yarn (the ever elusive blue #886 from Red Heart), and settled on a granny square scarf to start with. Then I was reminded of why I love self-striping yarns:
(Way too many loose ends!!
If this was a book or a movie, I'd hate it!)

Shortly after starting to work on the scarf, my left wrist starting feeling stiff and sore, which I figured was probably from typing in a poor position at work, so I was trying to rest it, and didn't do much in the way of crocheting for a little while. I'll admit that I did make attempts, but probably shouldn't have (and won't be letting my doctor in on that tidbit, even though it only hurt me in the long run). My wrist got worse, with pain at the base of my thumb, and loss of functionality. I broke down and went to the doctor, who confirmed that I have Tendinitis de Quervain. (See here for my feeling on the subject.)

In lieu of the cortisone shot, I opted for large doses of Ibuprofen and a splint to immobilize the wrist/tendon area. If it's still not better by mid-week, I'll go back in and face the shot. (I think this is what's going to happen, because it's almost been a week, and it doesn't seem to be better.) In the meantime, I have not made much progress on the scarf, and don't know if I'll even finish it. I'm annoyed by that, since I was really psyched about the project.

Hopefully, I'll get some relief from this quickly - from the shot, if not from the Ibuprofen. Maybe then I can power out some scarves for the states with later event dates, like Louisiana and Alaska. Northern CA had their numbers posted wrong previously, and it turns out that they have already met their actual goal. So, much as I'd like to help my most local event, I am glad that they have received what they asked for, and would be happy to help out the other locations.

*Warning - TMI coming up*

Side Note: I'm also annoyed by the fact that I'm on 800mg of Ibuprofen, 3x per day, and yet I still have menstrual cramps! The fact that they're as bad as they are with all that medication makes me wonder how bad they'd be without it! I'm afraid I'd be bedridden!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Dear John Letter

Dear Tendinitis De Quervain,

It feels like we just met, but believe it or not, you've made a huge impression on me in a very short time. You've also taught me a lot. For instance, I now have a much stronger sense of appreciation for my body, and have learned that I really appreciate my independence.

That being said, I am afraid that I've also learned that it would be best for me if this relationship came to a quick end. I know this can't be easy for you, since you've been ignoring all of the recent, and not very subtle, hints I've been trying to give you. Please don't think this is easy for me either. I've put a lot of thought into this decision. In fact, I even consulted a doctor and am now on medication to help me end this. The doctor went so far as to prescribe that I actually place a physical barrier between us. You may have noticed, but it doesn't seem to have deterred you.

I still feel you fighting to stay with me, and I have to tell you that it makes me really uncomfortable. You see, I've been very independent for a very long time, and lately you've become a constant presence. Frankly, you're just in my way. I mean, I can't do anything without you popping up and making my life difficult. Seriously, you're starting to interfere with my grocery shopping, my morning routine, my work, and you even seem to resent my time contributing to charitable causes. It's just not a healthy situation for me.

Is this getting through to you yet? If not, you need to know something else. Now, don't think that I'm just being cruel. I want you know that I'm serious about wanting you out of my life. I have to admit that there's someone else. When you first gripped my wrist in a fit of jealous rage, I found myself turning to someone else. It's someone I've known all of my life, but I never realized how much he meant to me until I started to feel controlled by you. That's when I realized that he's always been there for me, and I just couldn't bear it when you tried to force us apart.

Maybe I should thank you. I mean, if it wasn't for you, I never would have discovered my true feelings. Because of you, I now know without a doubt that Opposable Thumb and I were meant to be together. Honestly, I want to spend the rest of my life with him.

Face it TDQ, you were simply a passing phase, and I'm moving on. Oppie lets me be myself and doesn't try to control me. I feel so happy and free with him, like I never felt with you.

So, I'm going to have to say goodbye. Please respect my wishes and go quietly. This is better for both of us. Please don't contact my doctor or my family or friends to try to get in touch with me. They all support my decision. My doctor even has a plan in place in case you put up a fight. I don't like violence, so I'll warn you now that it involves at least a single shot. I really hope it doesn't come to that, but at this point, I'm really willing to try anything to regain my freedom.

Goodbye Forever,


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Crochet for a Cause

You may have read in my last post that I have decided to whip up some scarves for the Special Olympics as a part of their Scarf Project. I mentioned how I had not been able to find any Red Heart Super Saver Blue (#886) yarn in stock at any of my local stores (I tried 4 different ones). Well, I finally broke down and ordered the yarn online through Joann last week.

Naturally, I couldn't buy one skein of $2.50 yarn and be expected to pay $7 in shipping... So, I bought 2 skeins of the blue (I have high hopes) and managed to add a few other items that I didn't really need. This included two different pink yarns, just in case I really get in the groove and decide to make some items to sell to raise money for my Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure that's coming up in May. (Join my team here, if you want to walk with us, run without us, or stay home and sleep but still raise money for the cause. -More on this campaign in a future post.)

Since I've been itching to begin my scarves, I was really hoping that my yarns would have arrived today. And I think they did...only the post office didn't deliver because I wasn't home. Argh! I was stuck with that little pink slip they stick in your mailbox, saying the item will be available for pickup tomorrow after 10am. Sorry, I have a job! I'm going to go to the website to see if they'll redeliver (and leave it at my door or at the apartment complex offices). Wish me luck!

I also checked the Scarf Project website to see how many scarves have been provided for the Northern CA event, and out of the 1,150 scarves they requested, they have only received 45! Please consider contributing your own creation to this worthy cause. See the project guidelines here.

The deadline to receive scarves for the your scarves in for the Northern CA event is 3/1/2011. There are different deadlines for the games in different locations, as well as a different number of scarves requested for each event. If I have leftover yarn after the Northern CA deadline (a surety), then I will just keep making more scarves and send them to another state's event. Everybody wins!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Project

I have decided to whip up some scarves for the Special Olympics. I actually found out about their Scarf Project last year, but never got around to doing anything with it. I found the site again this year via an ad on Facebook that appeared on my sidebar (how do they know me so well?). So, this is it. Fate, right?

I will be contributing to the Northern California program. The events are floor hockey, cross-country skiing and Alpine skiing. Totally scarf-worthy! The scarves are actually gifted to the athletes, coaches, families, volunteers and supporters as a symbol of unity. The deadline for shipping scarves to the Northern CA program is 2/25, so I'd better get a move on!

There are 2 official colors - blue and turquoise. Wait, that's not quite right. The official yarns are Red Heart #886 Blue and #512 Turqua. Believe it or not, I cannot find the blue color to save my life! I've been to 4 different stores, and none of them have it. I'm going to have to buy it online, which means I'll buy other things too, simply to justify spending the $ on shipping. (I know myself.)

Anyway, the Special Olympics would like to receive 1,150 scarves, but has only received 45 so far. So, please join me in my crafty little efforts to help them reach their goals! For more information, check out their Official Site. You can also make scarves for events in other locations, if you would prefer. They all have different deadlines and are requesting a different number of scarves. All scarves must incorporate both official colors, though.

As soon as I get my hands on that 2nd color, I'll see how many scarves I can produce...

What's Cooking

In conjunction with my new resolve to stick to my diet (which I was on for 2 successful weeks before Christmas, and then conveniently forgot existed until after the new year), I've been on a cooking kick. Laura is partly to blame for this, too, since she posted the recipe for this split pea soup on her blog. She found it on Epicurious. Instead of the linguica or andouille sausage that the recipe calls for, I used Italian sausage (I tend to like it better than other types). It also calls for kale, which I'm 99.99% positive that I have never purchased nor cooked with before. It also always reminds me of that episode of Cheers where Woody does the commercial for Veggie Boy (they start talking about the kale 1 minute and 7 seconds into the clip).

Despite the color in the photo, I'm pretty sure this isn't radioactive.

The soup was surprisingly delicious! I was worried that it might be bland because there are so few ingredients. It's not. I think cooking the peas with the sausages infuses the broth with a lot of their flavor. I think I'm going to have to make this soup one of my staples, since it gives me an excuse to pull out my immersion mixer and the pureed peas did not trigger my IBS like the canned split pea soups that I enjoy(ed). It also cooks up really quickly.

Later in the week I decided that it was high time I put my crockpot to use again. I found this recipe for French Chicken Stew that I thought I needed to try. So I did. I prepped all of the ingredients the night before, threw them in the pot, then stuck it all in the fridge. Before leaving for work, I placed the crock into the base and turned that sucker on. I almost forgot to plug it in, but averted disaster by realizing that the cord in the outlet behind it belonged to a different appliance. Remember that I was doing this before I had any coffee...

After a long day at work, during which I kept noticing that my hands STILL smelled like the onions I had chopped the night before, I finally made it home and was greeted at the door by the succulent aroma wafting from my kitchen. And my cat. (Clarification - she greeted me, not her odor, which is anything but succulent).

This greeted me when I came home. Hi chicken!

After a long day at work, during which I kept noticing that my hands STILL smelled like the onions I had chopped the night before, I finally made it home and was greeted at the door by the succulent aroma wafting from my kitchen. And my cat. (Clarification - she greeted me, not her odor). All I had to do with stir in the jar of pasta sauce and enjoy. This was really good, and different from the stews that I usually throw together in my crock pot.

I'll make this again, but I will use a different pasta sauce to stir in at the end. I think that the one I used overpowered the herbs that are used during the slow cooking process. I also couldn't used bone-in thighs and simply removed the skins at home. The bone-in thighs also keep the chicken together (mostly) when portioning this out into servings (important for me when I'm actually tracking my Weight Wacthers points - this came out to a Points Plus value of 5, based on 6 servings, since my 2lbs of chicken was only 6 thighs). The meat falls right off of the bone though, so it's easy to remove it before eating.

It photographs well, too, doesn't it? This is after adding the tomato sauce.

Speaking of removing the bones, I did so and tossed them into the trash can. The next day, I come home from work to see my trash can laying on it's side on the kitchen floor, spilling trash onto the tiles. Just past the rim of the can was a chicken bone missing one end, with the marrow exposed. I didn't bite the end of that bone off, kitty, or knock that trash can over, so you've got some explaining to do! Luckily, I had emptied the trash just before I started making the stew, so there wasn't much in it, and not much to clean up. Regardless, I didn't expect my cat to forage through my garbage.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Nerd? Nope. Colossal Dork? Absolutely!

Okay, so I guess the first lesson I learned last night was that one (i.e. me) should not attempt to configure technological devices after 10pm. Thank God for techie-friends! I need to put in a special thank you to Kyle and Kailyn, both of whom stepped up to the plate in record time last night to assist me with my woeful inadequacies!

The second thing I learned was that I'm a dork, as evidenced by the incredibly simple solution that I failed to see, even though it was staring me right in the face. Seriously. As I was attempting to decipher Kyle's advice (he's more technologically advanced than I am), I was so focused on the fact that my existing modem didn't have a second ethernet port that I missed the obvious fact that the new router had 4 extra ports. The detailed instructions that came with the router (completely wordless, only drawings with arrows) did not include an artistic rendering of this situation.

Uh...duh! Hook the ethernet cable from the modem directly into the router, using one of the additional ports, and hook the main cable from the router directly into the computer! How did I miss that? I'm so glad that Kyle and Kailyn responded so fast, or I would have ended up explaining my situation to the tech guys at Staples and I just know they would have made me feel like the biggest fool on the planet. And rightly so...

At least it's figured out now, fully installed and working, too! This is my first blog post written entirely from the cushy comfort of my couch. I've even connected my Literati to the network. Next up, what to do with the connection now that I have it on the Literati. I guess this means I'll have to crack open the user's manual! At least I know it will be written, and not pictorial.

Oh, and before I go, I thought I'd mention the third lesson learned. My cat makes a great armrest between bouts of typing. (That is, when she's not attacking my hands or trying to sit on my neck or keyboard. Yes, she tries to sit across my shoulders and neck when I'm on the couch.)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I'm Not That Nerdy After All

Seriously. I'm as surprised as you are. But it's been proven.

But first, a little background...this Christmas was a veritable technological windfall for me. Just like that Target commercial hinted, I was visited by Electronic Santa Claus. My mother gave me an e-reader, my brother Joe gave me a Garmin Nuvi 255 WT (GPS), my brother Tony gave me a Canon PowerShot S95 digital camera and my father gave me a Toshiba laptop computer. I was not expecting any of these items for Christmas, especially not from either of my brothers.

Needless to say, since I now have the laptop computer and the e-reader, it's about time I got wireless internet access at home. So, with that in mind, I looked up some wireless routers on-line and settled on one that looked like it should work. I even looked up the actual model of my current modem (Siemens Speedstream 4100) to try to figure out what might be compatible with it. I figured I might have an issue when the most recent information I could find was from 2005 (especially considering that I didn't even receive the modem from SBC until 2006). Any information I could find was in techno-geek-speak and made no sense at all to me. So, I checked out the self-help section of my internet provider, AT&T/SBC/Yahoo/Whatever they are calling themselves this week. The modem type I have is not even listed in their options given for upgrading to wireless, yet I got it from them, mind you.

I checked out some more things on line and then went to Staples to pick up a basic, simple and easy to install wireless router. I asked the tech on duty to clarify one of the items listed on the box under system requirements, and he said he didn't know what it meant either and had never seen it or heard of it, and had never run into any installation problems. (The requirement was Broadband Ethernet Internet connection with RJ45 - I still don't know what this means...but I have more of an idea...I know I have broadband ethernet, but what the heck is RJ45? Is that like R2D2 or C3PO?) I verified with tech-boy that I could bring the product back even if opened (he said within 14 days as long as I have the receipt) and then took the plunge.

Fast forward to home. I take the router out of the box and it looks simple enough. Plug into wall socket, plug into ethernet port on modem, insert CD start-up disk and go. I found a spot to place the router, shuffled cords around in order to fit in the elongated wall plug, and then took the ethernet cable to the modem. Wait... there should be another ethernet port here... Oh crap! Is that what the RJ45 is? (I still don't know, really!) That's right, my modem is so old and archaic that it only has two ports total. One for the the phone line, one for the ethernet cable to the main computer.

Looks like I'm headed back to Staples tomorrow. And it had better be easy.