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I’ve had four fantastic days off and I feel so rejuvenated!  It’s weekends like I just had that make life good.  And I really needed a wonderful weekend, because there’s been quite a bit of stress in my life lately (some big, some small, but all annoying), and it was nice to just leave that all behind and enjoy myself.

Friday – Semester  Break
I am so thankful that I did what I needed to in order to finish my grading (and record my final grades) before I left school on Thursday.  I was there a lot later than I expected to be, but I actually put together a really cool mini lesson for the first week of our new semester.  I left on Thursday afternoon feeling really organized and “free.”

On Friday I really didn’t do a whole lot of anything.  I was online for a while, I read for a while, I watched some t.v..  Later in the afternoon when my parents brought my nieces home we all went on a long walk and enjoyed the sunny, cool day.  The girls stayed at my house catching up on their favorite Nickelodeon shows until my sister arrived around 5:30.  They  ended up staying for dinner – my sister heated up leftovers for her and the kids and I had one of my Lean Cuisine meals.  It was nice to be able to share an impromptu meal together without having to put in too much effort on either part.  I’m sure we’ll do that more often.

As Friday nights go, this one was pretty tame, but that’s ok.  I just needed to take the day and relax.  Plus, I’m not 20 anymore, so it’s ok not to have major plans on a Friday night.  Eventually I would love to have some dates to go on or other social engagements, but while I’m in “forced hibernation mode” I’m perfectly content to keep things quiet.

Saturday
I had a busy morning planned on Saturday.  We began with a “whole crew” (my sis, nieces, Lulu & Minnie) walk at 9am.  My older niece led the way on her bike, the younger one was on her big wheel, and my sister and I pulled up the rear with our dogs in tow.  It was sort of chaotic (at least for me) and we had a few near misses with dogs’ leashes and big wheels, but it all turned out fine.  I’m sure that once we get the hang of the bigger group it will go more smoothly.  I do think that Lulu and I need to start taking our normal solo walks again, too, because I like our head clearing/bonding time.

Then it was time for me to take both dogs to the groomers, and boy did they need it, especially Minnie.  They came out later that evening looking like (almost) new dogs, and I swear that Minnie is strutting around with a new sense of purpose now that she looks cute again.  🙂  While I was out doing some errands, I brought a big garbage bag full of old clothes, and 2 boxes of books to a local charity, thanks to the Daily Challenge.  I’d had the stuff waiting in my garage for a couple of weeks, but the Daily Challenge made me put the stuff into the car and donate it to one of my favorite charitable organizations, and it really didn’t take any effort at all.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to get that stuff out of my house and on to someone else who it can be of more use to.  If you haven’t gone through your closet or bookshelves recently, I highly recommend I CHALLENGE you to do it; you’ll get rid of some clutter and do a good deed all rolled into one.

The main thing I was excited about on Saturday was that my high school alumnae food & wine group was going to be  going to a Passport Saturday.  Passport days are amazing!  You buy a passport for $40 and it entitles you to one free tasting at any of the participating wineries within the Santa Cruz Mountain Winemakers Association, and there are 51 wineries that participate!  The passport never expires, and they have passport days every quarter – in January, April, July, and November.

Originally there was a good group of alums who were planning on going to the event, but it ended up that just my friend Ms. AD and I went.  And really, it worked out perfectly.  This way she and I could really catch up with each other without having to worry that we were excluding others from our conversation (because there’s nothing I hate more than people who leave others out of the conversation with a lot of inside jokes, talking about people others don’t know, etc.).  Ms. AD and I headed off in my convertible (the weather was unseasonably and gloriously warm at 70 degrees) and hit three very local wineries.  The original plan was to go into the mountains a bit more, but I didn’t want to challenge the windy roads of those mountain wineries.

Our first stop was a winery that I used to be a member of, Flemming Jenkins.  Yes, as in Peggy Flemming.  What started out as a landscaping project at one of their mountain estates turned into a really profitable wine business. Their wines are very good, albeit quite pricey, but it was nice to begin at a winery that I knew I liked.

From there we headed about a mile down the road (actually, up a hill) and came to Testarossa Winery, which is one that I’d never been to but had heard amazing things about.  Testarossa was a 19th century novitiate (training center for Catholic priests) before it was a winery, and the grounds are truly beautiful.

This last photo is from their website, but I’m using it because it shows the dramatic tasting room with it’s gorgeous, old-world ceiling and walls.  When you’re in the room you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time and are in an underground crypt somewhere in Europe, rather than just a mile off the main road of a bustling town.  It was so nice that I know I’ll have a party here at some point in the future – maybe even my rehearsal dinner (a girl can dream). Oh, and the wine, the wine was delicious and very affordable.  I’m going to make sure I always have some of this on hand to share with good friends.

Our last stop was a winery that I had heard such good things about, but which was the least favorite of the afternoon.  Maybe it was because I had enjoyed our time at Testarossa so much that in comparison Cinnabar couldn’t quite make the grade.  Or perhaps it was because no one told us anything about the wine they were pouring.  It was fairly busy in the tasting room, but it seemed as if the people working that day couldn’t be bothered to explain anything to potential customers.  Which is a shame.  And with that, I think I’ve already spent too many words talking about this place.

The rest of my Saturday was spent doing a few errands, but it ended nicely enough with a good dinner that I made for myself.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the doggies look like after their grooming appointment, I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos to share with you:

(My mom bought them matching sweaters for Christmas, and I couldn’t resist having them match in the last photo).

Sunday
The day began as all Sundays do – with the Sunday paper and a nice, hot pot of coffee.  But I was also expecting a visit from Comcast.  Luckily the tech arrived at 8:30am (the window was from 8-2).  I’ve been having nothing but problems with my OnDemand service every since I moved, and I finally wanted to get to the bottom of it.  I’ve had 2 other technicians out here, and placed countless phone calls (I think I average 1 every other week), but it wasn’t until today that the cableguy (who was here an hour and a half) realized the problem was that they gave me an old, obsolete receiver box when I moved in.  Not only that, but I’ve been paying for a more expensive receiver this whole time.  I’m relieved that I finally have the proper equipment, but you’d better believe I’m going to be on the phone on Monday demanding my money back plus compensation for my trouble. It goes to show that it attention to detail and not stopping until the job is done really does pay off. Let’s just hope that Comcast cares about their customer enough to do the right thing.

The rest of Sunday was fairly lazy. Some reading, some time online, some t.v. time, a walk with Lulu, some light housework and laundry.  Nothing especially exciting, but nice just the same.

Sunday evening my friend Ms. AD (whom I spent the day before with wine tasting), was having a Just Dance 2 party, and I couldn’t wait.  What a great idea for a party, right?  It’s like those old-fashioned dance parties in the 50s.  Only this time we all brought our Wii remotes and tried to match moves with the computerized choreographer.  I have Just Dance, so I was used to it, although I will say I like the graphics a lot better on Just Dance 2.  Plus, it so much more fun to “play” with other people, instead of just dancing around my living room by myself.  I did so much better than I thought I would, and I was consistently the top or 2nd highest scoring player.  And it sure didn’t hurt that Ms. AD made some killer sangria and we each brought some “tapas” with us.  It was a fun time, made even more so because Ms. AD made sure we came in our comfy clothes and knew that we could be as silly as we wanted to because there were “no boys allowed.”  Although after about 5 dances/songs, lots of the girls sort of pooped out and we moved from dancing to chatting, which was good too.  I’m definitely going to take Ms. AD’s lead and have one of my own Just Dance 2 parties.

(Speaking of which, this house has such a great layout for entertaining that I want to make sure to have some parties.  I’m going to have Lulu’s 1st bday party in early February, and I also want to have an Oscar party, but beyond February, what are some ideas for themed get-togethers that I can have? I’d love any and all ideas).

Monday
Today is going to be all about enjoying this day off. The weather started out really foggy again, but once it clears (around noon yesterday), I’m going to take Lulu out on another walk.  This time the goal is go explore a new street in our neighborhood and walk for at least an hour.  Other than that, I’m going to be doing laundry, organizing my food for the week, and watching t.v. and doing some workout DVDs.  I feel like staying close to home today, but I am going to go to a group exercise class at the gym – either Zumba (@ 5:50pm)  or aqua aerobics (@6:45pm); I’ll decide which one depending on what the rest of the day shapes up to be.

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It’s been an absolutely amazing weekend, free of stress and filled with fun and friends.  I need to try to have at least 1 weekend a month exactly like this one, because it’s good for the soul.

What did you do this weekend?

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For the month of December, I’ll be participating in Reverb 10. Each day gives a new prompt, which is a chance to reflect on 2010 and manifest what’s next in 2011.

December 28 – Achieve
What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. (Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)

What a great prompt!  I love that it asks me to not only think about a goal (which is easy), but also to experience the “feeling” associated with it, and it wants me to give myself that feeling today, right now.  Love it!

So, it will be no surprise to you that the thing I most want to achieve in 2011 is significant weight loss.  It’s a 3-step process: 1. lose 30 lbs to get on the list for lap band surgery, 2. have the surgery, 3. use the lap band as a tool to achieve weight loss success.

How will I feel?  Relieved, satisfied, accomplished, overwhelmed with happiness, and (to take one from the prompt) blissful.

So how what can I do/think today so that I can feel those feeling right now?  Hmmm, this is a bit more difficult:

  • Relieved, satisfied, and accomplished – I can reorganize my closets and have that sense of a job well done.  The new-found organization will make me feel very relieved, I’ll be satisfied that I got rid of some clutter, and I’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment that I finally completed the task, and I can cross it off my “to do during Winter Break” list.
  • Overwhelmed with Happiness – This is a pretty tall order, especially for an ordinary Tuesday.  I suppose that walking Lulu makes me feel extremely happy because I love seeing the neighborhood through her eyes, I love getting out in the fresh air and taking a long walk, and I enjoy our bonding time.  As I write this Lulu and Minnie are wrestling/playing with each other, and it’s the cutest thing ever to see them so happy.  I also think I’ll feel this way when my sister has moved in tomorrow, but since this is today (and not tomorrow), that can’t count.  😉
  • Blissful – After a long day of managing two puppies, cleaning & organizing my house, and helping to prepare for the impending move, I think a relaxing bubble bath with a big glass of wine sounds quite blissful.  Actually, it sounds exactly like a plan to me!!

What about you?  How can you make sure that today, right now, you feel the way you would when you achieve your biggest goal?

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I had such a great weekend! It was a mix of fun and errands, nice weather and rain, indulging and counting calories.

Saturday

My high school alumnae food & wine club (of which I’m the president) took a day trip to Napa to celebrate our 1st anniversary.  We hired a van service (a nice Mercedes diesel) so that we wouldn’t have to worry about driving and could just enjoy our wine.  The weather was gorgeous – a perfect fall day: just a bit cool, a slight breeze, and the colors of fall all around us.  Here are some of the best photos of the day.  (Click on any of them to make them larger, if you’d like).

Bouchon is a ridiculously popular bakery that had a line a mile long (which we waited in).  The second photo was snapped while we were waiting for the bread.

Of the 3 wines I bought, the Quackenbush Zin was my favorite of the day.

A great day of friends, memories, wine, food, and sisterhood. I’m also proud to say that I counted each and every ounce of wine and morsel of food into LoseIt, and sent my food journal to Scale Warfare this morning, flaws and all.  I’m glad I tracked each calorie, but I’m also glad that I let myself indulge and have a good time.  I need days like that, too, every once in a while.

Sunday

Today I was determined to make that extra hour (the end of daylight savings time) count, and boy, did I.  I still work up at 5am (new time) and did my usual Sunday morning routine of coffee, newspaper, and playtime followed by a quick morning walk with Lulu.  I wanted to make sure to beat the rain, because as much as I love listening to the rain outside, I like to avoid being out in it, if I can.

Having said that, I decided that today was the day to fit as many errands into a hour and a half as I possibly could.  So out I went to Ace Hardware to get some light timers (now that it’s getting darker earlier, I want to make sure there are lights on for Lulu, in case I get home late. They also had the “must-have” dog lights that all the dogs at the dog park are sporting.  I didn’t want Lulu to be without, and I really do think it will be safer when we take our walks in the morning/evening this fall & winter.

Then I headed to the nursery to buy bulbs, because all the fall planting guides are telling me that between Halloween and Thanksgiving is the ideal time to get them in the ground.  The nursery had all sorts of bulbs on sale, but I got a combo of bright purple & yellow tulips, anemones, and freesias.  We’ll see how they turn out, but it will be a fun project to watch.  Because the dirt in front of my house is rock hard, my dad brought two planters over, pre-filled with dirt (he’s so good to me).

They should end up looking like this:

Then I headed to Michael’s to get a fall wreath for my front door.  I’m trying to watch my budget, and I got some good deals!
Everything I found was 70% off: the wreath was $11.99 and the flowers were $5.00.

Then I was off to Target to get the usual household items, although no matter what I go in for, I never leave without spending $70.  Am I the only one?  I also found this great water bottle, which is BPA-free, has a frozen core to keep the water cold, and the essential (for me) straw:

I went to Trader Joe’s to get my weekly salads and other veggies, and I saw another new seasonal coffee.  I mentioned on Twitter last week that I’d tried the Wintry Blend, and I LOVE it.  The addition of cloves, pepper, and other spices makes it perfect for this time of year.  Along those same lines, I thought my newest find, the gingerbread coffee, would be a budget-friendly way to have my version of a gingerbread latte.

After all the errands, I came home and tidied up a bit, did laundry, and planted the bulbs.  And after uploading a bunch of photos on Facebook and writing this blog post, I intend to spend the rest of the evening relaxing:

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I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have gotten into a routine of planning, cooking, and eating healthy low-glycemic meals, or what, but so far this week is even easier than last week.  Everything is flowing nicely, and I feel like I could almost stay on Phase 1 indefinitely.

And then I realize that I do love fruit and carbs too much.   Oh, and wine.  Can’t forget the vino.

So, while I’m looking forward to Phase 2, I have to say that Phase 1 has been pretty good indeed.

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Since the three of us will begin Phase 2 on Saturday, I thought it might be nice to go down to one of our favorite wine spots and have a celebratory glass (or two) of a really nice wine. It would be a great way to reward ourselves for all of our hard work these last two weeks, and a chance to catch up on life.

CCLuv, Beachy…what do you think? Are you up for it?

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I was looking around the SBD online website and found out a couple of things that I’m really happy about:

Beginning in Phase 2, we’re “allowed” to have up to 2 4-oz servings of wine a day! Not that I drink wine every day, but it is nice to know that if I have a hard day at work, I can come home and relax with a glass of wine. It also makes me happy about the upcoming holiday parties that I’ve been invited to.

In case you guys are interested:

Drink Up!
 


(Published 12/25/03) Planning on having a couple of drinks to celebrate the holidays? No problem. According to Dr. Agatston, one or two glasses a day of alcohol (except beer) is okay beginning in Phase 2. Just make sure you drink during or right after a meal, since a stomach full of food will slow the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream – and keep your blood sugar levels steadier. And, of course, you’ll want to avoid sugary mixers like fruit juices and regular tonic (opt for diet tonic instead).

Still, not all alcoholic beverages are created equal, since some contain more natural and added sugars than others. Here’s a look:

Enjoy, in moderation (limit 2 servings daily):

  • Red and white wine (one serving = 3-4 ounces)
  • Champagne (one serving = 3-4 ounces)
  • Vodka (one serving = 1 1/2 ounces)
  • Gin (one serving = 1 1/2 ounces)
  • Rum (one serving = 1 1/2 ounces)
  • Bourbon (one serving = 1 1/2 ounces)

Avoid:

  • Beer
  • Brandy
  • Port wine
  • Liqueurs (including Kahlua, Bailey’s, Amaretto, schnapps, etc.)
  • Sherry
  • Wine coolers (often contain a lot of added sugar)

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