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Archive for the ‘Farmer’s Market’ Category

Debuting the new Bellina About Town with Sofi!

Another fun-filled, action-packed weekend, which I really enjoyed.

I am so glad that I started doing the household cleaning and chores a little each day so that I could have the entire weekend to have fun and enjoy myself. I’m going to do my best to continue this practice in the fall, although once school starts and I’m back to working full time, it’s going to be a challenge.

Friday I finally broke out of a funky mood that I’d been in for a couple of days. The morning started with a trip to the vet that changed everything – now Sofi is able to go on walks, to the dog park, and to get groomed. She can go anywhere – training classes (which I need to sign us up for soon), doggie boutiques, Pet Food Express, friends’ houses, etc. It’s been a long time in coming and I’m so happy that we’ll be able to do more things out and about. She’s still learning how to go for a walk because I’m determined that she learns loose-leash walking, which is more difficult to train at first, but so worth the extra effort. After all the puppy fun during the day, I spent the an hour going to Friday night Zumba, which was a blast! I’m definitely going back, weekly. .

Saturday we celebrated my niece’s 4th birthday with a family lunch and it was nice to see how grown up my nieces are getting. It’s always nice to spend some time with my family, and as a few of you point out, I’m so lucky to have them all so close. No matter how great your friends are, and I have some fantastic friends, there’s nothing like the love and support you can get from family. At least in my experience.

Saturday evening I took Sofi on another walk, but this time I decided that it was a good idea for the whole gang to come along. And by “whole gang” I mean: Minnie, LC’s 2-year old dog whom Sofi idolizes and adores; my nieces, who are eight and four; and my sister. They say that sometimes you have to learn from experience, and this was no different:

I think Sofi’s love of Minnie gets her way too excited and distracted from the task at hand, namely, walking with a leash. So, until she masters that, I think we’ll be going solo. Which is actually just fine, because walking the dog is such a great way to bond, and I relish my Sofi time.

The rest of the time on Saturday was a combination of a bit of freelance work, light cooking and meal planning, and a much-needed at home facial courtesy of Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Mud Masque.

Sunday my mom and I made a trip to the farmers market, which was long overdue. I haven’t been in months because of my wacky eating plans, and I can’t tell you how great it was to peruse the aisles of summer fruits and veggies and be able to buy anything I wanted. I ended up buying some peaches, dino kale, beautiful variegated summer squash, and some delicious blackberries.

After the farmers market, Mom and I headed to the international market near our house to pick up some Baharat seasoning blend that we needed for this delicious recipe Eating Well Magazine tweeted about this morning. Turkish lamb and eggplant kabobs? Delicious. The recipe actually calls for you to make your own Baharat spice mix, but since we have the luxury of having quite a few Middle Eastern markets just minutes from our house, we figured we’d save ourselves some time and money and get the pre-made spice blend. My mom plans to make it for dinner on Tuesday for her and my dad and I’m going to make it this coming weekend for LC. I’ll definitely report back and let you know how good it was. On a side note, have you guys seen Eating Well magazine? It is phenomenal, and I knew noting about it until Scale Warfare gave me a subscription for Christmas last year. I love it!!

After all the food shopping, it was time to eat lunch, play with Sofi, and get some more freelance work done. Then LC and I went to Restorative Yoga, which was a brand-new and very relaxing experience. After the class, I was calm but hungry, so I put together a fairly quick meal that featured my farmers market summer squash, which were divine:


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Summer squash, TJ’s turkey meatballs, and TJ’s harvest grains medley.  Just hearty enough to fill me up while keeping things light.

All in all a really wonderful weekend that I hope to replay at least 4 more times before the summer ends.  🙂

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHappy Tuesday, Everyone!

It feels great that I can proudly display this badge on my blog once again.  At one point over the weekend I was getting a bit down on myself because I’d “only” lost 20 pounds after all of my blood, sweat, (money!) and tears on Medifast.  But then I realized that 20 pounds is a lot, and while going on Medifast was expensive and restrictive, it did give me the jumpstart I needed to  continue towards my pre-op surgery goal.

Now that I’ve gotten that initial chunk off, I can follow a more realistic eating plan.  I’m calling it SBD, but really it’s just healthy eating.  It’s the same lower carb plan that my surgeon and nutritionist recommended.  They gave a 1200 calorie/day guideline, but through trial and error last fall I realized that my “sweet spot” is between 1300-1400 calories, which is still way below the guideline for someone at my weight.  And it seems to be working.  I know that my weight loss is going to be at a slower pace than it was on Medifast, but the tradeoff is that I’ll be able to enjoy what I’m eating and work it into a social and active lifestyle.

Which leads me to the main part of this post.  Fruit!  Now that I’m on Phase 2/following a healthy eating plan, I’m enjoying all the fruit (and veggies, of course) that are available this time of year.  Yesterday my sister stopped off at a great permanent farmers market on her way home from work, and picked me up a few items.  My fruit bowl is overflowing with the bounty of summer:

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I love it!  Last night I had some grilled eggplant and zucchini which were the best part of my meal, by far.  Yum!  It just reminds me that I need to start hitting up the local farmers markets that are within bike riding distance from my house.  I have three farmers markets that are a 20-minute bike ride away, so my goal for the next two weeks is going to be to hit them all up to compare/contrast their offerings.  I’ll be sure to do a little write-up for you, especially if I try something new.

In the mean time, I’ll leave you with a beautiful shot of my breakfast: 1/2 cup of part skim ricotta, 3/4 cup of strawberries, 1 white peach. It tasted even better than it looks.  Now I’m ready to tackle the day.

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What did you have for breakfast?

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Since I’ve decided to follow Medifast strictly (no more string cheese, Greek yogurt, or almonds as snacks), I figured that I owed it to myself to make my Lean & Green meals really delicious.  And as this idea struck me yesterday, I found myself near Whole Foods.

Now I know that Whole Foods is expensive, but I figured that since was going to buy, well, whole foods – only meat, fish, and veggies – that it wouldn’t be too bad.  I told myself that it was specialty items and packaged foods that were the most expensive there, but that some veggies and protein couldn’t possibly be that much.

Oh how wrong I am sometimes.

Here’s exactly what I bought:

  • 1 bunch of dino kale
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe
  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 1 container of sugar plum tomatoes
  • 6 east coast sea scallops
  • 6 oz salmon
  • 2 small lamb chops
  • 1/3 lb imported prosciutto
  • Rachel Ray magazine

And the total for this very reasonable list?  Go ahead, guess…. I’ll wait.

.

.

.

.

$75.34!!!!!!

What?  The scallops alone were $22; the salmon $10; the prosciutto $9; the tomatoes $5.  Wow!!!!

I had the lamb chops and asparagus last night, and both were delicious, but not $75 worth of delicious.

So the lesson I’ve taken away from all of this is that I will never, EVER, shop at Whole Food$ again.  Ever.

Instead, I’m going to frequent the farmers markets that are prevalent on the weekends here.  And if I want to treat myself to really good meat, I’m going to go to the local Italian grocery store that’s known for having quality food, and although expensive, it’s not OUTRAGEOUS.

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By the way, I’ve been doing very well with just having the 5 Medifast meal replacements and the 1 Lean & Green meal with no snacking in between.  And the scale is rewarding me in a big way.  That’s all I’m going to say for now, so if you want to see the details, make sure to check back in on Wednesday for my weigh-in post.

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This morning I got on the scale, as I’ve been doing every morning, and it was up, AGAIN. Not way up, but up enough that I got frustrated, upset, angry, and disappointed. In life. With my weight. In myself. Because I know better. And I deserve more.

Here’s the deal. The other day I went to a cooking class with a group of friends and had a great time. But I also had wine and food that wasn’t part of the Lean & Green plan. And I gave myself a pass because it “doesn’t happen very often” and “I don’t want to be a hermit” and “I’m going to do Zumba the next day and burn over 1000 calories, so I’ll make up for it.” I even blogged something along those lines.

But obviously my body went into “shock” and it didn’t matter how much I worked out this week. I’m up on the scale, so that one night of fun and frivolity set me back a week. Ugh. And then I know what’s going to happen, I’m going to get so frustrated and upset that I’m going to go WAY off the plan, and then it will send me into some sort of tailspin.

Not this time. Not to me. Not when I’m this close.

So this morning when I was upset, LC reminded me that I really needed to make the choice to stick with Medifast completely, without deviation, for this short amount of time. And she’s right. I mean, c’mon, I’m not going to be on this plan forever: it’s a means to an end. So as such, I should treat it that way and stick to it totally. No exceptions. No tastes. No excuses. I can do it. This is the perfect time of year, since I’m not that big into St. Patty’s Day or Easter. (And there’s always next year). My friends will understand that I need to meet them for a walk or for coffee rather than for wine and a meal. They support my weight loss. They know my immediate goal is to qualify for the lap band surgery. End of story.

So after the pep talk, I realized that instead of wallowing in it, I needed to DO something. Bella Does Life, after all. LC and I hit the farmers market and then Trader Joe’s. And then I did what any good Italian girl who likes to eat does – I cooked! And I cooked. And I COOKED. I made my Lean & Green meals for the entire week, plus some. Since I’m going to be taking them for lunch to work, I wanted to get them all ready ahead of time so I could just grab and go. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to deal with food on an empty stomach later in the week.

Here’s my menu for the week:

Monday: Italian Salmon Salad
Tuesday: Chicken “Club” Salad
Wednesday: Italian Tuna Salad
Thursday: Mediterranean Lentil Salad
Friday: Asian-Inspired Chicken Salad

I feel so organized now that I made all those meals and they’re all ready to go for the week. I know it’s going to help keep me on track. You guys know how much I love a stocked fridge, right, well just imagine how happy it makes me to see all this good-for-me food just waiting for me. I’d definitely say this is a NSV:

And for dinner tonight I made Langostino tails (frozen, from Trader Joe’s) with Zucchini “pasta.” The langostino were expensive, but it’s Oscar night, and they’re so low cal, I couldn’t resist.

Today reminded me that no matter how upsetting something is, there’s always a way around it or out of it. I showed myself that I really want this badly enough not to allow myself to fail. So I won’t.

I love this rinoculous that I picked up at the farmers market today. It’s a great reminder of my goals and how much I believe that I can accomplish them.

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What a great weekend! Especially today, so I thought it was time for another edition of Sunday Smiles, where I take photos of all the things that made me smile today.

Friday

It started off with me taking Friday off so I could see CTLB who was out from Boston visiting SF. We only spent about 2 hours together, but it was so good to see her in person and catch up a bit. I’m hoping that the next time we see each other there will be a lot less of me for her to see!

I raced home from San Fran in order to set up the Lulu’s 1st birthday party.  Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook might’ve already seen these photos, but for those who aren’t here are some highlights…

I didn’t expect to find puppy party supplies at the store I went to, but there they were, and of course I couldn’t resist.

I also made sure we had sweet treats for the puppies and the girls, too. The chocolate cupcakes are for the girls and the cookie cupcakes were for Lulu and Minnie.

And here are a few shots of the birthday girl herself, Miss Lulu.

This one is going to serve as a “before” photo someday soon.

And finally, you know it’s a good party when one of the pooches is pooped out!

Saturday was a nice day.  LC and I went to Zumba, I did a bit of household stuff, and generally relaxed, but nothing really noteworthy happened, other than making The Best dinner.

Oh, I also got some new shoes which I absolutely love!!!

Yes, they are furry, too.  They look just like Vans, but they’re from Payless Shoe Source.  I got another pair in solid canvas black.  So comfy and so sassy.

Sunday
LC and I decided that we’re going to make going to the farmers market a regular part of our Sunday morning routine, so we started off there. The girls came along, too, and had lots of fun looking at all of the arts & crafts, flowers, and produce. I bought my new favorite – dino kale, as well as some savoy cabbage.

I’m always looking for a great plant for my dining table, and today I picked up a pretty, purpley-pinkish ranunculus.

Next up, we stopped at PetFoodExpress to get some food and a two-dog leash.  I’ve been telling LC how difficult it is to take both dogs at once.  And most of the time my parents and the kids come along, but some days they can’t/don’t want to, and I always feel badly about leaving Minnie out, so LC decided time to try a leash made for both of them. Here we are about to take off on our maiden walk.

I was definitely keeping my fingers crossed, but I never had anything to worry about:

And here’s a bit of video so you can see it in action:

And of course, since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I spent a bit of time writing cards to my family:

Maybe next year I’ll have a true valentine to give a card to.  If it’s right, it’ll happen.

A perfectly lovely day, not to mention the fact that I’ve resisted quite a few temptations this weekend and stayed 100% on Medifast (and it’s showing on the scale), but I’ll save that for the Wednesday Weigh-In post. All in all, lots of simple moments that put a smile on my face today.

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I really can’t believe that today’s a Monday; it’s been a pretty fantastic day, and it’s not even noon yet. Which is nice, because I had a simply glorious weekend, and it’s always nice when that feeling of happy contentedness can spill over into the workweek.

One reason things are so lighthearted around here is the fact that the weather has been gorgeous!  This weekend it was sunny and in the mid – upper 70s.  (Please don’t kill the girl from Northern CA for living somewhere so beautiful.  I do feel slightly guilty to be basking in this warm weather when so much of the country (and many of my good friends) are dealing with frighteningly cold temps). But I am loving this weather, and have taken full advantage of the fact that I own a convertible –  top down all the way.

Before I tell you about my weekend, let me share a little something with you that absolutely made my day.  This morning I received an email from a parent of one of my seniors, and she wrote:

May I say first and foremost, thank you so very much for EVERYTHING you bring to the table: to your students and to our son. I love that you push him to be more because he is more! May I say you are his favorite! It is always so nice to have a favorite teacher for anyone’s life. So again, thank you.”

How cool is that?  It makes all the long hours of planning lessons, grading papers, and sometimes dealing with less than respectful students worth it.  To know that I touched someone’s life that way.  That I’m THAT teacher for him.  It completely and utterly made my entire day.  And to start off a Monday like that, you know it set a great tone.  🙂

But on to the weekend update.  This weekend was chock full of fun activities.  LC and I had our social calendar BOOKED, and we enjoyed every minute of it.  It’s funny, I now seem like I’m on the same schedule that LC is – when the girls are home, it’s more of a get schoolwork done and clean the house kind of weekend, and when they’re at their dad’s it’s more of a let’s go out and have some fun and be active weekend.  It’s actually sort of nice to be on that routine.  It definitely adds a good balance.

Friday Night
I had a Trubate to a 3 1/2 star sushi restaurant than neither LC nor I had ever been to, and so we were planning on using it Friday night. Unfortunately, our plans were foiled when we got stuck at home waiting for the Medifast package that never arrived. So, so frustrating. It turns out that the bad weather around most of the country affected the package that I was supposed to receive, and even though UPS.com said that it was on time and should be delivered by “end of day,” it took 30 minutes on hold to find out that in fact it was late and wouldn’t be arriving until Monday. I was pretty upset, because it meant delaying my plans for another day, plus the fact that we ended up staying home and eating leftovers when we could’ve been enjoying a sushi dinner. But, we made the best of it. LC had purchased Chinese food the night before in honor of Chinese New Year, and since the girls eat like birds, there was more than enough left over for us to share. After dinner, we talked for hours as we lounged on the couch, which was nice, because both of us were tired out from our long work weeks. Even the pups were pooped:

Saturday

LC and I had some really fun plans on Saturday, including getting much needed mani/pedi.  I haven’t had a pedicure since I moved to the new place, which was in September, so you know my feet needed some TLC.  I really want to make sure that I have the time and money to get a pedicure at least once a month, because I love when my toes look good, even if they will be in socks and shoes the majority of the next two months.  No one else might see my painted toes, but I’LL know they’re looking good.  I had to choose red, but  this one is more of a springtime red, which went with this weekend’s weather:

Our other main plan was to go to high tea as part of LC’s Christmas gift (we’ve both been so busy that this was our first opportunity).  We tried a place that I’d discovered through Trubate called Satori Tea Company, and I loved it.  They had a wide range of teas available, and we could smell the teas before we chose which one we wanted. I chose Lady Londonberry and LC got a custom blend of cherry and almond.  The tea service was described as rustic country English tea, and was anything but stuffy, which I appreciated.  The tea, sandwiches, and desserts were all scrumptious, and it was nice sitting in the very eclectically decorated room.  It was a nice opportunity to take time out of our busy lives and just relax over a hot cup of tea while we caught up on everything.

Once we got home, each of us decided it was time to catch up on some housework and laundry, so we went to our respective houses until about 7:30 or 8pm, when we had dinner together.  My mom had given us this delicious pasta dish that she’d made, to which I added a salad of spinach, mushrooms, and blue cheese.  Paired with a glass of good red wine and we had ourselves a dinner to remember.  Again, we talked and laughed and just hung out until we both decided it was time to turn in, because we had more fun planned for Sunday.

The weather on Saturday was beautiful, and once we saw this sunset, we knew we were in for more loveliness on Sunday. This sunset capped off our day perfectly – it was a gorgeous way to end a delightful day:

Sunday

Sunday morning the sun was already streaming through the blinds at 7am, so I knew we were in for a warm day.  Even Miss Lulu enjoys the morning sun as she tackles her favorite chew.

A slow morning of coffee & newspaper (and of course more laundry), LC and I headed to the local farmers market.  The one that I go to most often is cool because it’s open year-round.  We found lots of great things, including:

I’ve been wanting flowers to put in my hair for a long time, but whenever I find any, they never work because the clip they’re attached to is always too small to hold all my hair.  These were perfect because they are glued to duck clips, which are strong enough to hold even my mop of curls.

I thought the colors coordinated well with the darker colors I have in my wardrobe.  They just make me happy to see them, and with this great weather, I was totally inspired to wear one to school today (see photo, above).  I figured that the look was either fun and funky or totally dorky, and I was ok with either one, because I felt pretty wearing it in my hair.  And really, that’s all that matters.

Of course, the main reason we went to the farmers market was to pick up some veggies, especially because on Medifast I eat one lean and green meal a day.  So it was time to stock up on the green.  And boy, did I.  I found dino kale, rainbow chard, and good old spinach:

Popeye would be proud, wouldn’t he?

One of the best thing about the farmers market is trying new items.  And for someone like me who has been exposed to all sorts of fruits and veggies her entire life, it’s not often that I come across something new.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a sign advertising watermelon radishes:

The flavor is much more mild (less “hot”) than a regular radish, and their color is just beautiful.  Very springy.

After we got back from the farmers market and ate a bit of lunch, we decided it was too spectacular not to go on a bike ride around the neighborhood.  So that’s exactly what we did.  And boy do my thighs feel it today.  🙂

In all the time LC and I spent together, we never ran out of things to talk about, which is a testament to how close we really are.  Good friends, and especially good friends who are sisters, can spend 2+ days together and still have things to say.

It was a glorious weekend.  One that reminds me of how sweet life can be if you let it.  A perfect mix of relaxation and activity, coupled with a lot of sunshine.  Perfect!!

Oh, and the Packers won the Superbowl!  I really didn’t care who won, but it was nice to see a very deserving team finally win the big one.

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Ah, fall.  Harvest.  The time of year when we have beautiful colors on the trees and the seasonal fruits and veggies reflect that on our plates.  Fall is also the time of year when we start hibernating, turning to comfort-food, and forgetting all those healthy-eating plans we made in the summer.  Or is that just me?

I’ve been feeling really blah about my eating lately.  Yes, I’ve been tracking everything in LoseIt, which has allowed me to see my calorie totals.  No matter what I try, I seem to go over the 1200 calories that the doctor has prescribed for my pre-op meal plan.  1200 calories a day is low for someone of my weight, but it’s what the Kaiser bariatric department advises in order to lose the pre-determined amount of weight before surgery.  And on those rare days that I actually stay near 1200, I’m not especially hungry or unsatisfied, so I know that it can be done without too much sacrifice.  It’s just selecting the right combinations of foods to equal 1200 that’s been a bit of a challenge.

And frankly, I’m getting impatient with my weight loss, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts lately.  I mean 4.4 pounds is fine, but it’s not significant.  Not when I’m trying to get to 30.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: I thought quitting smoking would be the most difficult thing I’d ever do.  I really didn’t think I had it in me.  And yet, as of today, I’ve been smoke free for 83 days (almost 3 months!).  Which is amazing and wonderful and quite an accomplishment, but part of me wonders if I should’ve waited to quit smoking.  Because I know that not having the cigs to rely on is making me feel like eating more often.  Whenever I feel like having a cig, I’ve been eating, which is bad.  And carrots and celery sticks aren’t what I’ve been turning to.  So if anything, quitting smoking has made losing weight that much more difficult.  Which is not to say that I’m going to start smoking again, because I’m not.  Ever.  I’m done with that filthy habit.

What I am saying is that I need a change in my eating habits, and so I’ve decided to try something a bit different.  It’s my own version of Jenny Craig/Nutrisystem.  I’ve given it a lot of thought, and here’s what I’m planning to do:

Weekdays: 1200 calories/day
Breakfast – cereal/granola bar + yogurt or overnight oats + yogurt
Lunch – Trader Joe’s/Safeway pre-made salad + fruit
Dinner – Lean Cuisine, WW, or Healthy Choice frozen dinner + salad/greens/other veggie
(I haven’t included any snacks purposely because that’s one of the things I want to stop myself from overindulging in.  I’ve been mindlessly snacking quite a bit lately, and it needs to stop).

Weekends: up to 1600 calories/day
Cook for myself
Go out to eat with friends/family
Eat over my parents’/friends houses
Enjoy wine/cocktails (up to two per day)

I think this food plan makes so much sense for me and my lifestyle:

  • There will be less food wasted each week.
  • I’m still enjoying lots of fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies.
  • I don’t have to plan and cook meals during the week, which means less impulse buying, and less thinking about food all the time!
  • I’m not denying myself the foods I love, because I can have those (in moderation) on the weekends.
  • I won’t be antisocial because I can go out with friends and make healthy choices.
  • I satisfy my creative cooking needs on the weekend, where I can make more complicated dishes.

I know that eating pre-packaged foods mean that I will be taking in more sodium, but I think that it’s worth it because of the portion control.  I feel like this plan is really setting myself up for success, because it gives me the best of both worlds.  I’m excited to try it and see what my results are.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Lots of fun stuff to discuss today.

I had a  great weekend!
My mom, sister, and I went up to San Francisco to go on our long-awaited birthday celebration for my mom.  (Her birthday was in February, but with the lousy weather this winter and then our busy schedules, this was the first weekend we could do it).  It was a perfect day!  We took BART to avoid the traffic and parking nightmare, and it was a really relaxing way to get up there.  Plus, my sister met us along the route, so we spent half the trip up there catching up and laughing.  A great way to start the day.  The weather in SF was absolutely gorgeous, which was amazing.  We’ve been having unseasonably cold and rainy weather here, and SF is usually even cooler, but on Saturday it was in the high 70s in the City, so it was a stellar day.  We went to the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market and shops and had so much fun.  I’d been to the shops at the Ferry Building before, but never to the farmers’ market, and my sister and mom had never been to either before, so it was a really fun experience.  It was packed, which is to be expected considering that it was Memorial Day Weekend, as well as a beautiful day in SF.  The farmers’ market was HUGE, but also really expensive.  I’m glad we went just to see the offerings, but we really didn’t buy that much.  I picked up a nice syrah from the French Mediterranean and some Rancho Gordo heirloom beans.  LC commented that I bought the beans more for the packaging than for anything else, and she is 100% right on that.  I mean, how could I not:

You guys know me, I love anything with that 50s retro feel, and these beans were absolutely beautiful (as much as beans can be 🙂  They’re a pretty brownish-purple and while color.  The vendor was trying to explain how to cook them, but I finally came clean and told him that I really just wanted to display them in my kitchen, and he laughed at me.  Other than that, though, the prices were too expensive.  For example, the cherries were selling for $7/lb, which is outrageous.  I went to my local grocery store and got some delicious cherries from central CA for $3.99/lb.  Farmers’ markets are great, but you do have to be careful about the prices sometimes.  Next time, I’d skip the farmers’ market and just hit the shops, which are a lot of fun to browse.  Plus, I have some really great, much more reasonable, farmers’ markets right in my own neighborhood, so why make the drive?

Sunday I caught up on housework, finished reading My Fair Lazy (which I highly recommend), did a Wii workout, and just lazed around a bit.  I was hoping to make it to the pool, but never got around to it.  Next weekend, for sure.

Today I woke up late, read the newspaper, did a bit of laundry and other household chores, got in another Wii workout,  and then went to my parents’ house for a bbq.  I’m so thankful that I have such a great family that I get along with so well, because they really make me feel so special.

All in all, it was a fantastic 3-day weekend.

Short Week

Because of the Memorial Day weekend, this work-week is going to be really short, which is wonderful.  These past two weeks at work have been really hectic and stressful, so I’m looking forward to having a somewhat lighter week ahead.  I have a few fun nights planned which also helps make the week more bearable: I’m taking my yearbook class out to dinner to celebrate a wonderful publication, I’m meeting a friend for a much-needed coffee catch-up, and then I’m going to see Sex & the City 2 with some girlfriends from work.  I also plan to continue on with the Scale Warfare’s EA Sports Active More Workouts Challenge, as well get back into some of my other workout DVDs.

I’m still avoiding the gym for my workouts for some reason.  I don’t really know why.  I like the gym, but if I have a choice, I much prefer taking my workout outside (walking, biking, or swimming) or doing the Wii or DVDs.  Once summer hits I want to make it a point to get to the gym more often, because I’ll be able to go during off hours when it will be less crowded.  Plus, I do need to use those personal training sessions that I bought.  I have enough to take me throughout the summer, so I might as well put them to good use.

2 More Weeks!

The countdown to summer vacation has officially begun.  That’s one of the great things about teaching – I get to have a long summer vacation, just like students do.  Although I’m not going on any big vacations, I still cannot wait for summer to get here.  I have lots of fun plans, including:

  • Lulu!  My new puppy is set to arrive around June 18 and I am so excited for her to get here.  I’ve got all the goodies I’ll need for her (water and food bowls, food, treats, blanket for her crate, toys, etc).  I also found a vet that is literally 3 blocks from my house, as well as a great groomer that’s only 2 blocks away.  Now all I need is her!
  • Going along with Lulu, I am going to enroll us in puppy training classes as soon as she arrives.  Well, I’ll give us a week to get to know each other first, but then it’s going to be twice a week training for both of us.  I think it will be a great way for us to bond, a good way for me to establish myself as the alpha of the house, and (I hope) a nice way to meet new people.
  • Working out:  I cannot wait to get into Bella Bootcamp mode again.  Last summer I was able to spend hours working out in various ways, and I really liked it.  Swimming, biking, working out at the gym – I enjoyed moving my body and seeing my progression as I did.  Now I get to add two daily walks with Lulu into the mix, which is even better.
  • Fresh fruits and veggies.  I love produce, and I really can’t wait to hit the farmers’ markets in my area on a weekly basis.  It’s going to be fun to keep my meal planning fluid so I can cook things that I find at the markets.  Improvisational cooking will be a fun experiment.
  • Reading – the one item I’m asking for for my birthday (July 2) is a Kindle, and I cannot wait to get it and start reading books this way.  I’m sure you’d expect an English teacher to like the old-school paper books, which I do, but I’ve also realized in recent years that I have a limited amount of bookshelf space left.  I’ll still buy the books  that I really want to cherish, but for fun reads and books that I’m not so sure of, I’ll be able to download them much more inexpensively and bring them with me wherever I go.
  • Netflix marathons – I love getting DVDs of tv shows from Netflix because it’s great being able to watch consecutive episodes without having to wait a week in between shows.  I know I’m going to watch West Wing (I somehow missed it when it was on), but I’d love to hear some suggestions of other shows you think are must-see.

There’s so much more I could write about what I plan to do this summer, but instead of dreaming about what I might do, I think I’m going to wait and see what I actually do and then write about that.

This week’s weight loss goals

I’ve been doing really well on my water and on the EA Sports Active Challenge, but what I’ve been slacking on is journaling my food.  I think that with the blood pressure scare I just needed to give myself a week or so off of it.  Not that I’ve been eating out of control, because I haven’t, but I haven’t been thinking as much about what I am going to eat.  I still plan my meals and eat a well-balanced diet, but I haven’t been counting points for a week or so.  I will get back to the journaling this week, for sure.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am going to go in for weekly blood pressure checks until my doctor returns from vacation.  I just want to make sure to record my blood pressure, to make sure that it’s not high.  I’m still getting those terrible headaches on an almost daily basis, and if they’re not caused by bp, I want to find out what the source is.

Another goal for this week is to catch up on my blog reading.  I’ve been really bad about it for the last couple of weeks because I haven’t had much spare time, but I’m going to try to make at least an hour a day so that I can offer as much support to all of you as you have been giving to me.  Plus, I always feel so much better after reading through your blogs.

Wow, this post ended up being a lot longer and I expected, but I hope it was worth reading.  Thanks for hanging in there through all 1600+ words, and I hope you have a great week.

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Saturday, April 17 – Today I was up and at ’em early, but then the day seemed to get away from me rather quickly.  Still, I managed to get in quite a bit of activity, which was my goal, considering that when I got on the WiiFit+ it said I was up 2 pounds.  Yesterday’s lunch at Chevy’s was most likely the culprit.  I did the Fit+ for 30 minutes, earning 3 APs.  Then it was time to do some cleaning – I did my kitchen floor on my hands and knees, did some laundry (neverending!), and straightened up the bathroom – earning 4 APs. Saturday’s total – 7 APs!

Sunday, April 18 – Whew, what a day!  It was truly one of the BEST Sundays I’ve spent in a long time.  I walked and shopped for over 4 straight hours, and I swear that when I got home I felt as tired as if I’d walked a 5K.  Who knows, maybe I did.  😉  I counted all the walking as one hour of “slow” walking and earned 4 APs.  When I got home I redecorated and cleaned up for an hour and a half, earning 6 APs.  Sunday’s total – 10 APs! No wonder I was so worn out by the end of the day.

Monday, April 19 – I know I said I was going to go to an aqua aerobics class tonight, because I had bought those suits, but I didn’t.  It ended up being an off day.  Mostly because I was tired after my first day back after spring break.  Plus, I’m a wimp because it was rainy and cold, and I didn’t feel like getting in the pool and then having to run to the car with cold hair, etc. 

Tuesday, April 20 – Tonight was almost another off day, but then I knew it was Biggest Loser night, and if I don’t do some sort of workout first, I always feel guilty sitting there watching the show on the couch.  So, I figured it woudl be good to do 30 minutes of the BL Jumpstart DVD.  I did cardio 1 & 2, abs, and I was a sweaty mess by the time I was done. I earned every one of those 7APs that I got for this workout. 

Wedesday, April 21 – off day.  I didn’t get home today until 6:45, which is about 3 hours later than normal.  We’d had a final deadline in yearbook, and I was mentally and physically exhausted.  Plus, I needed to go grocery shopping, so I decided that that was the priority. 

Thursday, April 22In honor of Earth Day, I decided to take my workout outside and go for a nice, long walk around my neighborhood.  I spent time just enjoying the scenery around me, and noticing all the little things that I never see when I fly by in the car or on my bike.  It was nice to take an hour out of my day and just walk around and enjoy myself.  I’m going to try to do a bit more walking outdoors so that I can prepare for my upcoming See Jane Run 5K on June 5th.  I earned 5APs

Friday, April 23 – I knew I wasn’t going to be home until really late tonight, because I’m meeting up with some alums from my high school after work, so I made sure to get a bit of a workout in this morning before I left for work.  Luckily it was my late day, so I didn’t have to rush.  I did 45 minutes on the Wii Fit+ and earned 4APs.

All in all, I had a good week of getting activity in.  I earned 33 APs, which is a new record for a week when I have work.  I’m really proud of myself for that.  I’d like to have weeks like this every week for the next 8 – until I get out for summer vacation.  I think the key to not getting to burnt out is to give myself the off days during the week, rather than on the weekend.  Since I have a lot more time on the weekends, it makes sense to workout then for sure.  That way, if I have a long day at work during the week,  I can give myself time off and not feel guilty about it. 

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I was determined to make the most of this, my final day of . This week off went by so quickly, but I enjoyed the rest and relaxation that it allowed me to experience.  Now I’m looking forward to summer, which is only 9 weeks away, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Ahhh, what an absolutely perfect Sunday I had today!  It started with brunch with my mom, Ish, and her mom.  We caught up on our lives, shared laughs, and then headed to one of the best farmers’ markets in my local area.  The thing is HUGE – 6 blocks long – and filled with produce, flowers, and crafts from local farmers, florists, artisans, and artists.  It was a beautiful, sunny day (mid to high 70s), and hitting this farmers’ markets with these ladies is one of my favorite ways to spend any Sunday, but was especially nice on this, the last day of my spring break.

These flowers are the gorgeous palette of spring at the Campbell Farmers’ Market. Looking at all the beautiful colors just puts me in a great mood. There were so many different florists to choose from, offering all sorts of flowers.  Everything from old favorites to the very unexpected.

Very quirky hanging plants.  I really liked the ones on the far left (click the picture to make it larger so you can really see them).  I almost got them, but then I found these for $5:

Aren’t they spectacular?  They’re called protea, and I’ve never seen anything so unique in my life.  I was so happy to find flowers like these that you definitely can’t find at the local supermarket.  Plus, the price was ridiculously inexpensive, so I just couldn’t pass them up.

I was really attracted to the painting of the woman in the red dress and got into a completely entertaining conversation with the eccentric artist who painted them.  He told me that a few months ago he was painting on cardboard on the streets of Carmel.  One afternoon someone saw him and offered him $10,000 to paint as many as he could on canvas.  From there he said, “my work has been at galleries from here to New York, and I sell the paintings for $1500 apiece.  But I don’t like to be tied to any galleries, so I will sell that one to you, out of the joy it will bring my heart to know that you’ll love it, for $150, but don’t tell anyone”.  He was so funny.  I told him I had to think about it, to which he responded, “well do be expedient in your decision, dear, because I have to start packing up soon.”  LOL.  I didn’t end up getting it, but it was fun to hear his story and talk to him.

I bought lots of beautiful produce, including a mix of baby kale and swiss chard, the sweetest, most flavorful, crisp Asian pears I’ve ever tasted, some Persian cucumbers, and Iranian bolani, which is a naan-like bread with spinach that is only 1 point.  I’m looking forward to trying that tonight.  The sights and sounds of the farmers’ market are always so invigorating to me because all the food brings to mind so many cooking possibilities. There really isn’t anything better than farm fresh produce, locally produced, and waiting for a little inspiration.

(Side note: I was pretty hungry by the time I got home much later this afternoon, so I decided to try the bolani.  I was intrigued that they were so low in calories, fat, and high in fiber.  As directed, I heated them in a skillet over medium heat, with just a bit of Pam.  One whole bolani, pictured, is only 3 points!):

If you think this trip to the farmers’ market was where the afternoon ended, you obviously don’t know my mom.  😉  After we said our goodbyes to Ish and her mom, we headed to not one, not two, but three different stores in search of the perfect vase for her to put her protea in.  (Mine are in beautiful vases from Pottery Barn that I already had). But with these strange beauties as our motivation, we knew the quest had to be met with the iron shoppers’ will that only my mom possesses.

We headed first to Michael’s, but found nothing but a long line of disgruntled women who were upset to be waiting to purchase their goods, rather than being outside enjoying the gorgeous weather.

Undaunted, we went to Cost Plus World Market, where we didn’t find any vases, but where I found some inspiration to redo my living room.  Prior to seeing these, my living room was a mixture of gold and burgundy, which is rich and luxurious in winter, but feels quite heavy at this time of year.  I have a plan to change the artwork on my walls (a post and photos about this next week, after it’s completed), and I’ve been wanting to change the colors to something more that echo the freshness of spring and summer.  When I found these, I knew that I couldn’t leave the store without them:

I absolutely love these pillows. The colors just make me happy. They’re so whimsical and vibrant. They totally fit the mood and personality I want to create within the room.

(I also got some silk flowers to put in my vases, but since I have the protea in them right now, I’ll snap another photo of those once they expire in a few weeks).

We left Cost Plus without finding my mom’s vase, so we headed to Pier 1 next.  I adore this store more than I can say, and if I had endless amounts of money, I could’ve left with so much more. As it was, I found a couple of things that I knew would really help put the living room together well:

I love the stripes in this pillow, and how the colors tie in well with the other two pillows I found at Cost Plus.

I also found a great candle holder that has those same colors:

I wish the photo show how beautiful it looks with the candles illuminating it.

I cannot tell you how invigorated I felt knowing that for a small amount of money I had the things I needed to help transform my living room.  Since it’s the room I spend the majority of my time in, I want to make sure it has an atmosphere that I find soothing.  As I mentioned before, there are still a few more touches that I need to make before the “makeover” is complete, but it’s definitely well on its way.

Oh, and before you think that we forgot about our original purpose, the quest for the perfect vase for my mom’s protea, here’s the vase we found.  It’s blown glass, made in Italy, and it’s gorgeous.  It’s a gold-colored vase with veins of rust running through it.  Our afternoon’s quest was complete!

When I got home I was seriously so tired that I felt like I had walked a 5K.  We were out and about and either standing or walking for over 4 hours straight.  I counted it as an hour of slow walking, which earned 4 APs.  🙂

Today, and this entire weekend, I was really active and social, and it felt so good.  It really reinforced to me that I need to try to be this way more often.  During these long winter months I’ve been hibernating, and it feels great to be out and about and enjoying this gorgeous weather.  Again, it makes me long for summer, but for now I’ll have to make each weekend count.

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