Tag Archives: weight watchers

1-Alarm Chili for the People

Granny’s Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

This was one hell of a dish.

It’s been a while since I cooked anything from scratch (and the last time I did it I found a recipe that turned out to be rather bland) and I never ever use my Crock Pot as often as I want to, so when the email came around as a sign-up sheet for the Superbowl party, I jumped on the chili option. I was having a cold day, I guess, and it sounded so good, that I actually panicked that someone else would pick it before I could. I replied all as soon as possible to claim the dish, which was very soon because I am on the computer all the livelong day, and at the last minute, out of a misplaced sense of courtesy and tolerance, I asked if it needed to be vegetarian. No response. Over the next day or so, people replied to claim the chips and dip, or the dessert, or drinks, or whatever, but no word from the vegetarians. I sent one last call out Friday afternoon threatening meat, and wouldn’t you know that one person–Michael–is a vegetarian.

Dammit! I should have kept my mouth shut. For no particular reason beside the desire to create drama, I started bellyaching about having to find a recipe, about how I shouldn’t have said anything, about effort, about all kinds of crazy nonsense, although only to Husband and to BFF, both of whom had the good sense to not take it seriously. I lollygagged around Saturday morning, still without a recipe, and it wasn’t until the last possible minute that I looked online for a vegetarian recipe. I rejected the first one I found because I don’t think I liked the idea of adding vegetable broth or fake meat or ketchup or something. (There are some dreadful recipes online. It’s shocking to me how poor the palate is of most people. Half the stuff I come across uses canned, condensed ingredients and relies entirely on salt for flavor, and I’m not a skilled enough cook to separate the wheat from the chaff within a recipe–although I am much better than I used to be about identifying bad recipes before I shop for them.) I went with the second one, which appeared at the RecipeZaar Web site. It not only had five stars, it had seventy-four votes, so a lot of vegetarians were speaking up on its behalf. I was encouraged. The ingredients were all regular items (no fake meat or bouillon cubes), and it called for a fresh jalapeno, chili powder, and cumin (one of my favorite spices), and there were lots of comments.

Reading the comments on recipes is a very good way to judge them. Usually the people who comment are cooks who know what they are doing, and invariably they’ll talk about substitutions they make. This is recipe analysis, and only the better recipes can be analyzed, so you know you are getting something good. I was very pleased. I was still making a half-hearted fuss about it being vegetarian and therefore somehow this extra hassle, but even I knew at that point that it was just for show.

The trip to the grocery store was actually delightful. Filly was napping, so it was just Fella and I and they had a boy-sized grocery cart he could push. When there are two kids, we have to take the regular sized cart and they both have to ride in the basket (because they both have to do the same thing), but Fella pushed that cart like a pro. All the old people who shop at our grocery store (because I live in Old Person Central) thought it was adorable. The produce guy who is always so nice to us and cuts slices of fruit for us to try gave him a balloon. We purchased our cans and our cooperation cookies (which I am eating far more than my share of right now), and I was all ready to cook later that night. Well, ready to prep. The cooking time was six hours, and the party was at three, and I knew there was no way I’d be able to get my act together in the morning to have it done anywhere near nine. Even though some comments said that four hours or even two were enough, we had a breakfast plan. It was just too risky. Besides, I enjoyed the chance to be organized!

I pretty much followed the recipe exactly. I couldn’t find condensed black bean soup, so I used a can of regular black bean soup. I didn’t use any fresh jalapeno peppers, but I had a jar of those briny jalapeno slices so I threw about ten little pieces in. I always use more cumin than is called for, and I didn’t measure the chili powder exactly, but it worked OK–my batch wasn’t very spicy, but it was spicy enough. I added tons more fresh cilantro than a tablespoon. I went with the 29 oz can of crushed tomatoes option. I sauteed the garlic with the rest of the vegetables, and I know I used way more than two cloves. I chopped and sauteed what needed to be chopped and sauteed, and I drained and rinsed what needed to be drained and rinsed, and I measured out all the herbs and spices the night before. The next morning, I microwaved the stuff a minute or two just to take the chill off, and I dumped everything into the Crock Pot and stirred. It was the easiest thing I have ever done in the kitchen. I should have sliced the green onions and shredded the cheese the night before, too, but for some reason I didn’t think of it. Oh well. That didn’t need to be done before I started cooking, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Driving with a full, hot Crock Pot is always an adventure, but we didn’t have far to go. There was a place on the kitchen counter just waiting for it. I set out the cheese and onions with a tub of sour cream, and BFF brought a big bag of corn chips, and it was set. Unable to keep my mouth shut, I had to launch into my vegetarian spiel all over again, and BFF and I and a guy named Todd spent a good part of fifteen minutes joking about the vegetarian and trying to guess who it was. When Michael the Vegetarian finally revealed himself, he was so happy that I made a dish he could eat. I felt a little bad for the fauxfussing that I’d done. Besides, no one seemed to miss the meat. All five quarts were gone by the end of the game, and then the hostess cleaned my Crock Pot for me. I’m a little disappointed, because people who commented on the recipe said that it tastes even better the next day, but I am pleased that I was able to make something untried that turned out so well. And the food at this party gave it some serious competition. I don’t think I’ve seen so many tasty dishes in a private home before–there was hummus, guacamole, little hot dogs wrapped in bacon, chicken wings in some honey/cayenne/secret ingredient barbecue sauce, spicy cheese dip, sausages, and birthday cake shaped like a football. I didn’t even get to the burgers!

The numbers on this chili are very good, too. The nutrition data on the website says that the batch makes eight servings, but I’m sure it fed twenty people. The only fat in it came from the black bean soup and the olive oil I sauteed the vegetables in (I am ignoring the cheese or sour cream), and it’s tons of fiber. In Weight Watchers terms, I bet this comes out to one or two points a serving. I’m never quite sure what counts as Core, but the only thing that would take it out of that category would be the baked beans or the tomatoes, I think. It’s very healthy. There’s some recipe for one-point Weight Watcher chili that uses turkey, but I think this tasted better. I really can’t wait to make it again.

Thanks, Granny!


Blogging in the Bathroom…

Please talk free. The door is locked–just you and me. Can I take you to the dining room? It’s got a glass table; you can watch yourself while I’m typing.

(And all this time I thought that song was about cocaine, not about public displays of personal esteem.)

If I told you I was also drinking wine in the bathroom, would it totally gross you out? Because it shouldn’t. I’m on vacation, in a condo rental, and I brought the computer so I could actually do some word processing work, and I was lured away from it by discovering an unsecured wireless connection in the complex. How did I discover it? Well, I was being gross when I brought the computer into the bathroom so I could play the Mah Jong tile matching game while doing my business (I had the condo to myself at the time, and it seemed as good a way to let loose as anything). The signal only comes in through the bathroom, and it is intermittent (depending on my posture) but it’s cybersurfing I am! I was accessing it from the driveway for a little while, but that got old, plus it put me in the position of having to talk about why I was hanging out in the driveway with a laptop (instead of a cigarette). Voices carry, and it would have killed me if the owner of the network discovered that I had hacked into it, and thus applied a password. It’s not like I’m downloading files or anything. What I ought to be doing is the work I brought with me, which can be done from a suede recliner in a cozy living room. Instead, I sneaked in here to check my blog stats (another duh-rama between Freedomain Radio and Liberating Minds has sent some traffic my way). And that’s where things really get interesting. Like anti-matter interesting. Check it out:

The Downsizing of Karen

Someone has been searching Google for “karenm77.” Look up at the address bar–I’m karenm77. But so is someone else in the southern hemisphere. It would freak me the fuck out if I were the freaking the fuck out type. Luckily, I am the pleased as punch type, and I am pleased as punch to have a doppelganger! My brother used to call up people in different cities who have his exact same name just to talk to them on the phone for a while. (He also once mailed a letter in a walnut with a stamp on it and had it successfully delivered, but that’s a different story.) So somewhere, standing on her head and admiring the Southern Cross, is a person with my Internet name who is also following Weight Watchers and reviewing books. That’s kind of trippy. Definitely worth a post. I looked around on the various places that come up with a search on that name thinking I might be able to find an email address but only found her blogs, and I don’t want to leave some random comment on a post about a completely different topic. If she had blogged about me, that would be one thing, but I’m not going to insert myself into her personal pages without justification. That said, will someone please please please click through to her site at the link I posted? If she’s as much of a stats whore as I am, she’ll notice that some clicks have come through from my blog and maybe she’ll click to my blog and leave a comment here! And then the entire universe might collapse, but it’s a risk I am willing to take.

Of course, someone also did a search on “iconoclast or malcontent,” so maybe that person was looking for me all along. One never knows, does one? Unless that person leaves a comment, of course. So do it. DO IT. NOW 5..4..3..2..1..DO IT!

Did you do it?



So anyway, I’ve had quite a few people click through to my review of the Edgar Sawtelle story. It must be on a bunch of school reading lists. It’s old enough now, I suppose, to be studied in classes. It’s a particularly convoluted review and it doesn’t say half of what I meant to say half as well as I wanted it to, but I hope in its own small way it’s been useful.

Because I all really want to be is useful in a small way. And famous. They aren’t mutually exclusive, you know. And having a doppelganger makes it twice as likely to happen.

Loss Regained, Except the Opposite of That, or Not

Well, the primary and secondary effects of the Week of the Robot Cake are behind me, and I am pretty much right back where I started from. All my weight gains, or loss in progress, have been lost, or recovered, except that I have really started to get bored with the whole points tracking thing. This is why I ended up quitting Weight Watchers in the first place (the second time it was because of the long line, the folding metal chairs, and my entourage). I am very good at maintaining a weight when I need to, but counting points all the time is tedious. I just lost patience with it a lot sooner than I thought I was going to.

And here’s the kicker: I am still interested in losing weight! And it still seems to be working!

If I were going to Weight Watchers meetings and if I brought this up, they would no doubt tell me to try the core plan. I’d always meant to try the core plan, but the effort of making core food seemed more overwhelming than the effort of tracking points. Plus, you still have to track points if you eat things like bread or rice, and I do love my rice. However inaccurate, it’s easier for me to mentally count up to 22 points a day each day than it is to try to remember 35 points per week. Besides, you still have to engage in portion control. You are probably eating a fantastically healthy diet on Core, but fantastic health has never been my overt goal. So sad, but so true. I’ve decided–without explicit confirmation or advice from a doctor–to try to sneak my way into longevity with good cholesterol and low blood pressure.

So this is me dropping the whole flex points thing, I think. I still have my kickass spreadsheet, and it disappoints me to not use it, so I’ll probably keep it handy; I am tracking my weight in it at least. I could morph it into some sort of graph generating opportunity, which I’d have to figure out, but which might be kinda fun–I do like watching the line graph for the stats for this blog. (Which, as an aside, is back on the uptick. I credit Mad Men for that. The sexy lesbian nuns just don’t have the same draw anymore.)

I was thinking about this yesterday. I have officially lost ten pounds now for a few weeks in a row, and it is pretty nice. You can see it in my face, and although no one is really noticing it, I do wear clothes better and I have more to choose from in my closet. I could stay at this weight for a very long time without a lot of effort. Granted, my BMI is still in the “fat cow” range, but I can rationalize my way out of BMI by invoking the names of some athletes and bodybuilders who are also in the fat cow range even though they are obviously fit people. So it’s all good! Yesterday I was deciding out loud, and then to my friend, that I think I am going to stop worrying about dieting and just be ten pounds lighter, and then later try to lose some more weight. I do want to lose more weight for cosmetic reasons, mostly because of how much better pictures of me look when I am thin. What’s the hurry, right? Does it really matter in the end if it takes until next summer for me to lose another twenty pounds? Swimsuit season is effectively over, I won’t be going anywhere fancy on New Year’s Eve, and I don’t own any of those fancy velour “track suits” that you have to wear blinged-out flip-flops with. It won’t matter in winter fashions if I am skinnier or not.

A long time ago, aforementioned friend lost a lot of weight. Like a life-altering amount of weight. She’d dieted off and on for a long, long time until one day (if I am remembering the story correctly and sufficiently stripping the filter of my own experience and agenda from it) someone suggested to her (in a weight-loss counseling role) if she’d ever tried just eating a regular-sized meal with no snacks in between. That was it. Of course, she did other things to go along with eating regular-sized meals without snacking (like exercise), but she has been thin ever since, even athletically trim. What I have noticed in myself this past month or two is that my appetite has definitely adjusted to less food. If I sit down and eat more than ten points worth of lunch or dinner or snack, I feel a little sick to my stomach. Without measuring or counting anything, I ate pretty well. I had a hearty half-sandwich and a bowl of soup for lunch (with a few French fries sneaked off the kids’ plates, but they were tasty and crisp and so totally worth it) and a frozen yogurt dessert. I put some candy on it. Some very good candy, however, and not a lot. I love me some Sno-Caps and some red sour gummy things. For dinner I had a chicken taco, from a marinaded batch of chicken breasts from Windmill Farms (an apparent product of the great Henry’s-Boney’s Schism, which warrants its own Shakespeare play), a corn tortilla, a quarter to a half of avocado (it was sort of mashed up), and some smallish amount of shredded cheese that was less than an ounce. I had a glass of wine. It got me through the evening, and when I ran out later to get milk from the grocery store I was barely tempted to snack.

Long story short–I’m adopting a policy of informal portion control and daily weigh-ins. I know how easy it is to go radically off track, as long-ago gleaned wisdom and recent episodes have shown me. So long as I hover around a target weight, which for me right now is ten pounds less than I was, then I’ll be happy, until I diet for another month and lose some more and hover there. A month of points tracking is pretty easy on the psyche; four weeks is not very long. I also have this idea that is not derived from science or learning in any way that it’s lots of weight loss at once that the body resists. If I gradually shrink and acclimate, it won’t be such a dramatic request to ask the body to shed a few more pounds later, right? It’s like climbing Mount Everest. If you just step out of an airplane onto the peak at 29,000 feet above sea level, you would die from a lack of oxygen. But if you work your way up the mountain slowly, you adapt to the thinning air and have a 75 percent chance of returning alive! Except my diet is the opposite of that. Or maybe nothing like it at all. (You decide!)

And now I’m in this Zen state about weight and diet modifications and reducing stress from my life, and I step on the scale, and I am down again. At this exact moment, I have lost 12.4 pounds since starting, less the weight of a can of Diet Coke. So before I wax all rhapsodical about how freeing your mind enables the rest to follow, I will completely undermine the mood by boasting that I haven’t even taken a crap yet. That’s gotta be like another pound, right?

BEGIN TANGENT: It is shocking to me how little sand from the sandbox it actually takes to mess up an entire patio. I think I need a shop vac. If it picks up sawdust it’s gotta work on dry sand, right? END TANGENT

So, yeah, diets. I’ll keep you posted. And I’ll enjoy making a self-generating graph in Excel, especially at the expense of folding laundry or doing work for money.

NEEDLESS UPDATE My crap did not weigh a pound. It weighed, if you are wondering, less. END NEEDLESS UPDATE

Oh Dear. A Setback Is upon Us.

3.6 pounds is worse than I thought it would be. It’s my first setback since starting Weight Watchers and it is a doozy. Fortunately, I have a long list of things to blame other than myself, most of which revolve around Robot Cake:

Thursday Last
Robot Cake is due Saturday, so I have to bake it on Thursday. Unfortunately, Thursday night is podcast night, and this time I was in the kitchen–in earshot. One wears one’s iPod when one can, but one is paranoid about blasting sound into one’s ears, one keeps the volume low enough to hear ambient sounds, too. And then one ends up drinking to compensate. Licking the mixer blades and scraping the bowl isn’t that big of a deal, because one entire cupcake is only two points and there’s no way you’d get a cupcake’s worth of leavings (even if you did make three cakes’ worth).

A trip to the beach! The morning was fine and I had a hardboiled egg and granola bar (5 points) and didn’t snack the whole time we were there. But once we got home I had some serious frosting to do–and I was hungry. The first run of frosting was depressing. What’s my answer to depressing frosting? Invite a friend over for gossip and a drink! And ravioli/garlic bread dinners from Filippi’s Pizza Grotto while you prepare another batch of icing. Of course, later, when you’ve redone the frosting and decorated the cake and it looks adorable, you get to celebrate. With frosting!

Well, it’s party day! I didn’t eat breakfast because we were trying to rush everyone out the door to go see Wall*E, and then we came home and prepped for the party. This is the point in the week when the diet really went awry:

1. Taco shop lunch
2. Homemade guacamole
3. Fresh green salsa
4. Two kinds of tortilla chips
5. Alcohol
6. Cake
7. Ice Cream
8. M&Ms
9. Clean-Up (which involved eating scraps and remainders)

Dinner, at least, wasn’t required.

The trip to the children’s museum (Think! Play! Create!) was without adverse events, but it was followed immediately by big ole deli sandwiches. I only ate half of mine (I gave the other half to Fella) but it included cheese, avocado, and bacon. We went out to eat later. Sushi was good, and certainly a Rainbow Roll is quite responsible, but we had to try a few different items before we found something Little Filly would eat (steamed vegetables and gyoza), so there were left over things for me to snack on.

Fella may not have a great appetite, but he’s got a good palate. He polished off inari, tamago, a special California Roll, a few bites of that seaweed salad, a gyoza dumpling, and some ginger. I am so proud of him!

I’d pretty much given up on the diet. I couldn’t even tell you what I ate that day, but it included whatever cake was left and some chips. One point in my favor is that I made a great salad for dinner: spinach, chicken, tomatoes, strawberries, raisins, walnuts, feta cheese, and Goddess Dressing (on the side). I was going to have fresh tomatoes from the garden, but Fella had picked the four ripe tomatoes I’d been eyeing and cooked and ate them in his playhouse with his new little pots and pans set. We had the leftover, kinda wrinkly grape tomatoes that were left over instead.

Mini-Product Round-Up
Annie’s Goddess Dressing is possibly one of the best salad dressings I have ever tasted. I also love her artichoke one.

McCormick Produce Partners Great Guacamole! is a seasoning packet you mix with two avocados and it makes… wait for it… great guacamole. It’s the easiest thing ever. They have spicy and mild. I usually get mild, because the spicy is pretty spicy. Mixing the two packets with four avocados keeps it pretty spicy, too.

I’ve always seen them on a rotating rack in the produce department, but you might find them in the spice aisle, too. Totally worth it.

Yeah, problems along the lines of the rest of the chips and salsa, and trip to deliver the car to the repair shop, which required a trip to a restaurant after. We ended up at Antique Row Cafe, a 1950s diner place, and, well, I had the French Dip. I ate the whole thing (with extra dip and a couple of fries from Fella’s plate) but at least I got the applesauce to supplement Filly’s dinner. Not really a compensation, but not really salt in any wounds, either. It was maybe this day that I did eat some vegetable soup, but it could have been Monday. I don’t remember.

By the time yesterday started, I had given up all pretense. I polished off the second bag of chips so I could throw them away, but I ate a lot of frosting from a spoon. (I was doing work for money! I earned it!) Going to pick the car up required another trip to another restaurant–another Italian restaurant–this time for pizza. And a beer. It was, however, a fantastic pizza. Really. Fresh basil, fresh garlic, sliced tomatoes, two kinds of cheeses, and sausage. I had probably a third of it. And another beer while watching Project Runway, because they play for such high stakes I need to relax.

And here I am, another Thursday, with a new weight, a blank page, and all my goofiness in the past.

Lessons that Have Been Reinforced
1. I can’t tally points in my head. When I don’t write things down, bad things happen. This has been evidenced in prior weeks, but I was riding my lucky streak.
2. Don’t start partying on the first day of a diet. If that day is Thursday or Friday, too bad. Suck it up, or move the weigh date. (I might do that). When you blow all your points in the first few days, you have to be disciplined for the rest of the week. Somehow, it’s a lot easier to be disciplined to save up points for a party later in the week. When I was going to Weight Watcher meetings, it was on Monday nights, so I’d start fresh Tuesdays. I think I might jumpstart next week to reflect that. Besides, if you decide to blow off the rest of the week because you’ve been naughty, you end up losing only two days instead of five.
3. My appetite has changed already. Even as I was eating all this crap, I was feeling quite sick to my stomach later. I had more than one episode where I really felt awful and couldn’t predict where it would end up. It ended up in me feeling awful–nothing more dramatic–but I hated it. Despite all my shenanigans, I am pleased that my body reacts to ickiness with ickiness. This is a fundamental change.
4. Doubling up on a really good salad dressing and blowing the extra points is a lot more satisfying than eating frosting from a spoon.

Of course, I’m going out to a restaurant for lunch today with my friend who I haven’t seen all summer. To a fast food restaurant. A fast food MEXICAN restaurant. But I do love me some Rubio’s Carnitas Street Tacos and three of those puppies is only eight points! That’s not a terrible lunch, and it’s not terrible food. Plus free refills on Diet Coke! I think it’ll all turn out OK.

2.4 Pounds–It’s Like I Sold My Soul

Nothing like a little vanity boost to brighten my day! For all my rending of the clothes and tearing at the hair this week, I pulled off another calorie coup. I have lost… let’s count ’em… ten pounds in four weeks. Seriously. This exceeds expectations–and it’s making me greedy. After a run like this, I’ll be irritated if I fall back to the one-pound-a-week rate.

I’ve been (sort of) beating myself up (I’m exaggerating a little) over the events of last Friday. I was estimating points for the onion rings and the margarita, and it’s possible that I did have extra points for the week I wasn’t counting, so when I ate candy and then dinner too maybe they fit within the Flex Points limits. I haven’t bothered wearing my pedometer (battery died and it’s a fancy little one that I just haven’t taken us all to the drug store for), so maybe I am earning far more movement points back than I realize. Meanwhile, I have reconsidered everything I thought I knew about portion control and I am cutting back even more. I’ve discovered that having a ten-point meal makes me a little sick. So as much as I love rice (4 points a cup), I’m shaving off two points a serving by going to half a cup. If I may be prim, those two points add up to a lot over the course of a day. I like my seven-point chili (yeah, we’re still eating that) enough to have the full amount, but if I cut back on the rice I also get cheese! Yay!

So I put my favorite breakfast to the test. I am indulging because I have rice left over from dinner last night, but I had half a cup of rice with a hard-boiled egg and butter with soy sauce (6 points). As usual, I felt hungry as I finished the meal, but as usual–and as they tell you–I do get less hungry as time passes and within half an hour I feel rather full. It was just as tasty, so it will be interesting to see if I am hungry for lunch sooner.

I can’t see any change in my shape. The differences I’m noting are that your appetite really does get smaller if you let it, and that being hungry really isn’t that bad. You’re just hungry. I’ve been going to bed hungry many nights in a row now, and it’s OK. I don’t have nightmares. I ate a full dinner. I don’t have a headache. And if I wasn’t up so damn late, I wouldn’t notice it at all. I’ve learned this week that I really don’t want candy unless it has chocolate, and that I’d really rather have baked goods than candy. (Is that good or bad? Baked goods seem marginally better for you, but you eat more at once.) Those Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches aren’t too bad, either. And with the exception of the Double Chocolate Sweet Shot at Chili’s, splitting one of those little shotglasses of dessert is only two or three points–and they are GOOD.

But so help me, I will not cut out butter. It is food for the gods!

Skort, Vindicated

So the Project Runway skort outfit didn’t win. I can handle it. I feel a little better about the skort in my closet now, although I’m still not pleased that part of wearing skorts and skirts means that you have to shave your legs more often. What a drag, what a drag. I’m all bristly right now and ended up in jeans today, even though I was online boasting the other night that I’d reclaimed some skirts. Too-blue jeans cuffed at the bottom in a stupid way because I didn’t feel like wearing the sandals that make the hem acceptable, with one of my poor shirts that has a tiny hole in the belly because of my belt that went sharp, without even wearing a new belt. I did not look very fabulous at the grocery store, I’m afraid.

I blame the sloppy outfit for my sloppy decision making today. I wasted time like it was water all morning and I ate candy for lunch. People have been pissy online today (in general, probably because I am looking for it) and I put myself into two conversations I should have just stayed out of. I let other people’s crabby, rude habits infect me and got called a bitch in the politest way possible–and I probably deserved it. I am over points on my diet because I refused to not eat dinner, and I have in no way prepared for a birthday party on Saturday. I have a house to clean, a cake to decorate, some presents to wrap, and Guilder to blame for it. The podcast I thought was going to have a limited run appears to be stretched to weekly shouting indefinitely. At LEAST the movie theater will be showing WALL*E at a time when it will be convenient. That will be a boon. I also had a nap today, but I am still sleepy. Having leftover chili was quite helpful, too.

I have a bunch of figs from Costco that I have no idea why I bought but I need to make something soon or freeze them. I’d love to gobble them up with prosciutto, but there are no trips to any Italian delis in my future and I hate the Hormel stuff from the grocery store. Maybe I can find some recipe and bake something that can double as treats for the party guests, like some kind of homestyle fig newton. Fig pudding seems too Christmas-y. But effort… think of the effort that will be required. Plus recipes usually call for dried figs. I have no intentions of canning anything and I’m not really very creative. I sense another tirade coming on. On the other hand, one fig has only fifty calories. I could get myself a can of aerosol whipped topping and let loose. It would be a hell of a lot tastier than pigging out on the candy I had, which was tasty but unsatisfying.

Of course, when you are already feeling bad about eating the candy in the first place, you feel no guilt about leaving the greens and yellows behind.

Meanwhile, deadlines loom ahead of me and I need a table of contents to submit for work and I am out of ideas. Who would have thought looking for popular press articles about gender roles would be so difficult? Added to that is the go-ahead for the Japan book, which should go kinda quick if I would just sit down and edit one article a day, but my work ethic–as noted previously–is shot to hell. Shot to hell. I predict some late nights in my future. It’s not so bad. I get a lot done during late nights. Just look how much writing I can get done when no one is awake or at home to bother me!

Here’s to crossing your fingers, hoping I lost weight and did not regain weight this week, eating healthy and flavorful food tomorrow, and laying off the sauce. The sauce is the source of all my trouble this week, you know. That and laundry. Clothes suck.

As they like to say over at MySpace, my mood tonight is whiny.



The sauce! The sauce!

Pantless Monday

Yes, it’s true. This blogger has no pants.

I was going to expound upon why my work ethic sucks, but the W key of the keyboard is mysteriously sticky today and I just don’t feel like going out of my way to add Ws to the conversation. So I will instead wonder wearily if the wardrobe I am wearing is wickedly Wal-Mart, or if it is in fact flattering. I went shopping late last night because I am out of clothes (not in a good I am too skinny for you way–I have a summer clothes problem and a belt has been making holes in the shirts I do have). I am sick of the way Target dresses fit me and all the fancy stores like Ross and Marshall’s that I usually shop at close early Sunday night. So I went to the nicest Wal-Mart I know about and had at it.

This is the dress in question:

The colors are maybe pukey to you, and I can accept that. It’s longer than it looks, which is part of my uncertainty. Despite being a tank top, it covers straps that need to be covered, which is a regular boon. It is also made out of jersey, and isn’t slippery or shiny. True, it’s still mostly polyester, but it’s not that slick polyester that I am officially sick of. I look much better in it from the side than from the front. It wasn’t exactly a steal at $15 (that is an amount of money I wouldn’t mind having back if I hated it), but if I end up liking the dress it’s totally worth it. I did ask the salesladies outside the dressing room how it looked, but they were having way too much fun (it was Sunday night and they’d caught the sillies, which didn’t bother me because it wasn’t interfering with my shopping experience but it did make them overly convivial and generous). I don’t have any dresses in my repertoire right now. I’ll probably keep it. It wouldn’t be the worst excuse to buy fancy high-heeled sandals.

I also did another thing I hate doing (yet do often), which is buy two shirts of different colors in the same style. They look like two other shirts I bought in different colors in the same style from Costco (we’re talking about four different colors now), but that have holes in them at the belly from my belt. Finally, I got a pair of skorts.


When I picked the skorts off of the clearance rack I honestly thought it was a skirt. I hate wearing shorts right now because of the way fat accumulates above my petite little knees, but when I held this garment up to my waist it looked like the hem was long enough. It wasn’t until I put them/it? on that I realized what they were. Remember how you used to wear shorts under your skirt in elementary school so you could climb on the monkey bars? Remember how ridiculous you felt? Remember when they started adding that panel in the front but kept the look of shorts in the back? Remember how ridiculous women looked wearing them? Honest to god I was pissed, especially when the skort looked good on me. It’s a dark brown color and it was $8 and it means I can leave the house in something other than jeans. But I am going to feel like some preppy I don’t know what every time I appear in public wearing it without also holding a tennis racquet or set of golf clubs. Which–mark my words–will be every time.

Every time.

I replaced the offending belt and added a black one. I meandered through shoes but the only ones I liked weren’t in my size. I bought a lot of stuff for the potty training party I am vaguely planning around a Pixar Cars theme, complete with underpants, but mostly Costco cupcakes as a reward at the end of the day. I bought some shoes for Little Filly, whose only pair of shoes right now squeaks with every step, which is starting to annoy restaurant patrons. I also stood and gazed for a long, long time at the Pop Tarts, yet went home with only a Peppermint Patty. As Bridget Jones would say, v.v.g.

Regarding the Diet

It took until this morning for me to show weight loss again. I felt terrible about the binging the other night, partly because I hated having to watch what I ate so closely. But this morning, three days before I officially weigh myself, I was actually lower than my weight last Thursday. I am relieved. So relieved. Despite enjoying I know is a success so far, I’ve been comparing my progress this time to my progress when I was on Weight Watchers seriously. I was just getting a lot more external feedback when I hit this weight. So I went and looked at all my old papers. I was misremembering how heavy I was before–I started then ten pounds heavier than I am starting now. That’s more than one jeans size! Plus at that original starting weight getting to my current weight, I’d been given the keychain for losing 10 percent of my body weight, four five-pound gold stars, and I was going to meetings psyching me up about the refrigerator magnet. There’s no comparison, really.

Random Comments

1. I was tired of writing posts in the skinny little default window, so I changed the setting (once I found it; I had to go looking again) to 30 lines from 10. It’s too big. I hate having the formatting and media options out of reach at the top of the screen. Kids! It’s not worth it! Don’t be tempted by white space! Unless you have a really big computer screen, anyway.

2. Thanks again, skeevy pervs, for keeping my blog stats high! I promise that one day I will actually read a book about lesbian nuns and review it.

3. It’s time for me to prepare my entourage for the Costco trip. We’ll be eating lunch there, I’ve decided, and I’ll be coming home with Diet Coke. I’ve been running out, you see. Not a good habit to get into. DC is so much more expensive when you have to get it on the street.

4-Alarm Chili and Lesbian Nun Sex

I admit it. I am a blog stats whore now, and check many times daily to see who’s been reading my blog. By far the most hits come from the tag search “lesbian nun sex,” which makes me wonder just what kind of skeevy pervs are out there. So does a skeevy perv have a lesbian nun interest and go searching to see what people are writing about? Does a regular perv perform a search on “lesbian” and/or “sex” and nuns show up in the mix? Or does a regular person search on “nun,” and then “lesbian” and “sex” pop up, and curiosity takes care of the rest? And I wonder, too, just how disappointed people are that the post is just about my reaction to a book, World Without End, in which some nuns–one of whom pretty clearly identifies as lesbian–have sex. Do they go look up the book? Are they sad that it’s just about stone masons and intrigue? There is plenty of lesbian nun sex in the second half of the book; I wonder if they make it that far. I wonder if it inspires them to read more about the English middle ages.

Or maybe they just relax later with a beer.

Regarding chili. Even though I still have four more servings of that chicken left, I just hate the idea of eating any of it now. Husband is quite good about eating meat for breakfast, but he packs cold lunches and because of Weight Watchers I’m just not able to plan on 14-point meals every day to consume it myself. It has probably reached the stage where it should just be thrown out. Such a shame. I am really angry that I didn’t freeze some before breading it but I was on a roll. And that’s that. And I am probably making the same mistake today by making chili with two pounds of ground beef that I can’t imagine consuming that much of. It’s probably 8 points a cup (I am going off the average points estimate from the back of the Week 1 booklet) and of course one must have it with rice or cheese. So we’re looking at 11- or 12-point meals here. Still, chili is a very good food, and it’s not going to be dried up in the microwave or rubberized by age. I can imagine that it will seem far more appetizing three days from now.

I decided to make it in the Crock Pot because we have one that I almost never use and it is easy to walk away from. I adapted some recipe that apparently was featured on the Good Morning, America program a few years ago. What’s weird about it is that it calls for turkey in the ingredient list but describes beef in the instruction. My impression is that they adapted a recipe so they could cut calories, which are listed at the bottom, but it’s impossible to do more than guess.

I used beef instead of turkey, and I didn’t have a green pepper. I thought of using celery but there’s none in the house, it turns out (and I’m not sure why). Instead of the cayenne pepper, I chopped up four Anaheim peppers that I picked from my garden (a plant I will never grow again, but why not take advantage this year?). I also had these two terribly stunted poblano chilis that ripened without growing large, that I threw in, too. I’m pretty sure they could affect the flavor in no way. I always add extra garlic and cumin. I decided at the end to put in two small cans (12 ounces total) of tomato paste and I think it was worth it. I had to add extra liquid to compensate, though, so I opened a can of black beans (14.5 ounces) and used the liquid from that. I hadn’t decided on adding beans–the recipe even says they are optional–but I probably will use these from this opened can. I had some chopped olive remnants in the refrigerator that I threw in, too.

It smells wonderful. Our house always collects food smells in the stairwell, and today that is a good thing. I’ve been going up and down the steps all afternoon bringing Husband tools to remove a light and mess with switches and my mouth is watering. The taste test suggests that I put too many peppers in (even though I left the cayenne pepper out of the recipe) and I’m not sure I can feed it to the kids. It’s probably for the best–Filly is not super-skilled at spoonwork and probably would have made a mess anyway.

The thing about the slow cooker, though… whatever idiot in the marketing department said that an advantage to using a slow cooker is that it won’t heat up your house like the stove was lying. This thing radiates heat from at least two feet away. I can’t ever tell the difference between high and low settings and times seem to be approximate. This batch of chili has been bubbling for a good hour now, even though I wasn’t expecting it to be done until 7:00 PM. (Which is a good thing. I actually considered scrapping the plan when it was noon and I was still chopping onions.) I decided to use one of those slow-cooker bag liners, which prevents you from having to clean the Crock Pot later. Despite their express purpose of lining the pot, I was nervous about it melting and wrecking the food, but it’s holding up well. I’ve got two or three more to use, and will, but I can’t get excited about it. The Crock Pot center is removable so pretty easy to clean, and I don’t relish the idea of trying to scoop hot chili out of a plastic bag.

Another thing about the Crock Pot that I don’t particularly love, or at least this recipe, is that I still had to use a pan to brown the beef in the first place. That means another item to wash. It’s already washed, but it’s a big old deep skillet and it takes up a ton of space on the drying rack. I learned from the recipe, however, that some slow cookers have an interior that you can use directly on the stove. I am intrigued by the idea, but not enough to covet it, I don’t think. Maybe one day I’ll be in the small appliance aisle of a lower-end department store and see one and marvel at it.

I wish I had some cornbread. What small amount of white rice I have will have to do. I wonder if I can get away with not cooking a vegetable. Probably not. That’s really too lazy even for me–I’ve got a good seven vegetable mixes in the freezer and it’s a three-minute steam process. But think of the pan! The pan!

Other Things on My Mind
Mad Men, Season 2–Episode 1
I watched, finally, the season premiere again. I still don’t understand what weird relationship–business or personal–is supposed to be portrayed between Young Hot Shot and Sweater Friend, but I am pretty sure that Salvatore is married. I may have caught a glimpse of a ring from across Don’s office while they were debating whether or not to start lunch. I also figured out–yeah, I can be dense–why Joan put the copier in Peggy’s office: Joan is pissed that Peggy is lecturing the secretaries about their job performance. It’s not Peggy’s place to work with the men and be in charge of the women, too. I know that Peggy is maybe protective of Don Draper, out of a lingering sense of territory combined with gratitude or appreciation for giving her the chance to write (and the encouragement to improve), and I don’t think Peggy was really trying to interfere with Joan’s sphere. Joan maybe is getting antsy with her job. She seemed to me to like it fine two years ago, but how long can someone be expected to spin their wheels at the top with nowhere else to go?

I also didn’t notice all the lying that Betty was doing. Not like lying to her husband about chatting with ballet moms instead of talking about the car repair–lying to Francine about how much sex she and Don had at the Savoy and lying to Francine about how she spotted Juanita as a call girl even though Don is the one who pointed it out to her. Why is Betty putting on such dramatic airs to Francine? I never really got that vibe in their friendship last season, but if she is trying to alienate her I think it’s going to work. I suppose it could be remembering how glamorous it was to be a model in Manhattan, and how beautiful she and her friends were–memories triggered by meeting Juanita–and trying to recapture some of that. But for all of Francine’s brashness, she seems to be genuine with Betty. She comes to her instantly after the Helen Bishop Grocery Store Kerfuffle, she gets excited by Betty’s dresses from the Italian designer, she discusses being knocked around a little by her husband, she seeks Betty out for solace and advice when she discovers her husband’s affair. I think I’d like to see Betty and her have some conflict about living in the here and now, or being nice, or what craziness this this, or something. I don’t expect that I’ll get it.

Vellum by Hal Duncan
It’s definitely more of a story, and the second half is much, much better than the first, as far as interesting plot and character development and trackability. I have about ten percent left of the book.

Binge Eating and Aftermath
Ugh. Yesterday I blew 21 flex points, which leaves me very little room for tomfoolery this week. I ate at Rubio’s pretty responsibly, but then my friend and I got to talking and there was traffic and we got home and drank two beers each. And THEN we went out to eat at Island’s Burgers, and I had a margarita. And onion rings. And fries. And the small soup has 430 calories in it. And I felt thoroughly sick, and sort of depressed and now there is all kinds of discipline I am going to have to enact upon myself and I am annoyed. Of course, I skipped breakfast without meaning to, so I lived it up with a quesadilla just so I could enjoy some fresh green salsa I’d been coveting. My cup of chili and cup of rice will come to the exact number of points for the day, so those twelve points can carry over. I may need them. I may not be hungry tonight later anyway.

Eyeglasses Day
See, I had my contacts on, but while I was making the chili or cleaning it up, I got some cumin in my eye, and perhaps some capsaicin from chopping the peppers. I also vaguely had a minor chemical burn on my fingers all day, that made washing dishes with hot water a bitch. It has worn off by now.

1.2 Pounds Less, but the Honeymoon Is Over

Yeah, I knew these crazy days of losing three pounds a week were not going to last, but I was hoping I’d get another outrageously successful week that bumped me into the next decade of numbers before I went to the 1 pound a week loss regimen. Alas, I did not. Still… any week I lose more than a pound is awesome, and any week I lose something is great. I’ve been flipping through all my old Weight Watchers food tracking booklets this morning and they bring back the memories of how exciting it is to get skinny even in small increments. Plus I have two separate websites that I can boast about my successes each week; at one of them I even get warm and enthusiastic encouragement. And the people at the other one haven’t kicked me off yet! (The fact that three yahoos have smited me and given me negative 3 karma is another story altogether. Maybe it was one yahoo smiting me three times. Who can tell? Popularity, like weighing yourself every day, is a fickle mistress.)

What I’d wanted to be a quick trip to the grocery store this morning mostly was. They were resurfacing the parking lot, so we had to park along the side of the building by the delivery bays. That added some time, because there were trucks there that needed to be looked at and discussed. We needed milk and Diet Coke, but then I remembered that I was sort of planning on making chili, which often requires tomato paste, so we went down the canned vegetable aisle. They had specialty chili seasoning packs which I perused, and though I decided against them I thought about grabbing a couple of cans of tomato sauce just in case. While I was browsing, Fella started messing with a display of hanging utensils that I didn’t recognize, but they seemed to be potato mashers or something. A few fell to the floor.

I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, because I’d been trying to hustle us all out the door but I kept getting interrupted (phone calls, photo ops, email checking), so of course all the sweets and snacks were irresistible. I totally wanted

but because my appetite is adapting to the diet, I knew that even one would make me feel a little sick and I’d have to skip lunch for the pleasure, plus my willpower is still next to nothing and I would end up eating more than two. The candy is in the cookie aisle, so I picked up a package of

but those weren’t really what I was craving. I scanned the sour gummy stuff but I knew that wasn’t anything close. I am a very big fan of

but the package was so small it just didn’t seem worth it. Plus, I was now very far away from the chocolate chunk inspiration. At the end of the aisle was the milk we’d come shopping for, and in the refrigerated case I found

and got them.

These little tubs of pudding are one point each, if I am remembering their nutrition information correctly (the packaging did not make it out of the store). Even better, all the browsing and handling of candy has sort of made me feel a little sick, as if I’d actually eaten candy for breakfast. I don’t even want the fucking things now. But there they are, chilling out. Fella will probably ask for them later, so we’ll each get one for dessert. They are expensive little buggers, though! It’s much, much cheaper to buy the package of instant pudding mix and it’s hardly less mess. I wasn’t thinking clearly when I was shopping, obviously. My biggest fear is that the sugar-freeness will taste weird. It can. I don’t have a blanket hatred of artificial sweetener and the sugar-free instant pudding mix always tastes OK. Of course, you make that with real milk. Who knows what kind of chemistry goes into this 60-cent tub of delicious?

When we finally got to the checkout line, it was discovered that one of Fella’s toys was missing. Sure enough, it was in the vegetable aisle beneath that display of utensils he’d knocked around. I felt bad the minute I realized that some grocery store employee had cleaned up the mess I hadn’t even noticed I’d made (in my haste to leave the aisle), yet left the toy in an obvious place for me to spot it. There are huge benefits to shopping at fancy-dancy stores. Yes, there are.

Thanks, Keil’s! Again and again you are nice to us.

Slow News Day

Yeah, kind of a slow day. I balanced my checkbook to the penny the first try! That’s less than of an accomplishment than it used to be, since Excel does all the adding and subtracting. Usually when I go wrong it’s because I forget to include a transfer of funds from one account to another or somehow copy a formula into another cell. Logging on to the Sallie Mae website was the usual headache. I mean, thanks for protecting my financial secret and private information and all, but this security checklist is just too complicated. This is the third time I’ve had to change passwords and they don’t let you use any of your PAST FIVE. The security questions they ask you always screw me up, in good part because this is actually Husband’s account and they are all related to his life experiences. Fine. How hard could it be? Pretty hard, actually, when sometimes he remembers his first car as one make and model and then later counts the car his brother had as his first car, or waffles between which job he held first.

I used to pay Sallie Mae through the bank’s bill pay website, which was great, until they turned our name over to collections because they’d been taking our payments for two accounts (I don’t know why Husband has two loans for the same education, but those were crazy loaning days!) and applying them to one and assuming that we were completely delinquent on one and paying extra principal on the other. It’s not a game I care to play again. I think I’ve got a medical bill overdue right now that’s probably in collections, but I can’t for the life of me remember where the statement is, who it’s for, or how much it is. I know it is a smaller amount than it used to be, because insurance was refusing to pay any of it (Filly’s birthdate had been entered wrong so the company was rejecting her claims from the doctor’s office.) I haven’t seen a bill in a while; maybe it’s a quarterly request. I certainly haven’t gotten a phone call from a collector yet. Maybe it’s all been taken care of! I’ll just wait. Screw my credit score. We aren’t going to be buying a new house any time soon… I’m sure I can bring it back up.

For all the leftover chicken that’s still in our refrigerator, none of it got eaten today. I’m afraid we’re going to lose an entire pound of breaded breasts and I am seriously hard-put to care. I ate the last of the bean soup for dinner (so that didn’t go to waste), and Husband had Carl’s Junior for lunch which eliminated the need for him to eat dinner at all. Fella and Filly didn’t really love the chicken so they got to eat the last of the turkey kielbasa, which they like. That’s two nights in a row that I got out of cooking, and I only had to put out one of those nights. I am definitely getting the better end of this bargain.

I watched an episode and a half of Project Runway: Season 5. The only season I’ve seen was season 3 (I think–with Tattoo Neck and Pregnant Redhead and Michael and Miami Miss) and I loved it! I tuned into season 4, but the Tim Gunn podcast was gone and the Bravo website is too buggy to tolerate and I can’t handle reading the blog. That podcast made the show amazing, and I just don’t know enough about fabric and design and dressing myself appropriately, much less stylishly. Without someone telling me what to look for and analyzing the designs, it’s just another reality show about stress and gossip. Some of my friends at the Northern Attack website are watching it; if they end up discussing it in detail I might keep up. It is a reality show that creates real items, at least. My sister in law–who is an actual seamstress and who actually designs clothes and who has a store idea that I’ll actually plug if she actually gets started–was watching it and I’d talk about it with her, but she doesn’t get cable anymore and has a slow internet connection, which means that she can’t even access the program from the gray markets of cyberspace. So that’s that. I did love that skirt/blouse combo inspired by the tree planter grate, with the scalloped layers. A lot more than the blue/fuscia dress that one, but again… I have no sense of style.

The book Vellum is getting better.

I didn’t fold any of the laundry today. I was going to fold it while watching Pride & Prejudice but I didn’t. I did wash my hair and shave my legs, though. And I took a ten-minute video of Filly running around the dining room, making herself dizzy and throwing her snuggle bear to and fro before sitting down to read a book to it. We went to Grandma’s house for lunch and played with some Grandma toys and then went next door to visit the new baby and then watched Teletubbies on demand. It was the one where they’re all trying to eat Tubby Custard, but when Po works the machine she can’t get it to turn off, and it floods the Teletubby Superdome with Tubby Custard, forcing them all onto elevated surfaces until Po just pulls the plug on the machine and the NuuNuu comes and slurps it all up. That pretty much took us all the way to Time for Tubby Bye-Bye. We all needed a nap after that.

I also watered the tomato plants, which I have mentally disconnected from. There are quite a few green ones half-grown on my vines, but no more yellow flowers. One got pretty big, but it’s not turning red. In fact, there are two scary spots that look like they might be squishy and rotten if I touch them, so I won’t. I’d transplanted the mint into a bigger container and killed one of the plants, but it seems to be bouncing back and it’s an invasive species, so I am sure the thrivinger plant can pick up the slack. I am letting the basil flower because it is in the same container as the tomato plants and I have mentally moved on to next year when I can try it all again, but this time with fewer plants in one container and more fertilizer.

I scheduled a vet appointment for two cats without arranging for childcare. I am honestly not sure that I can get all the small mammals into the building. I asked my friend to come with us but she has to wait for the phone guy (she just moved). She said it was no big deal to reschedule but I would feel bad if she did, yet happy. Because if she comes, we’re going to Los Primos Taco Shop for lunch! I’ll get the rolled tacos and not worry about it, because I weigh myself in the morning and have a whole week to deal with the salt and the fat and the guilt.

No, there won’t be guilt. I am dieting very successfully. Here I am, after all, at the end of the week with six extra flex points that I am not even going to try to eat. I was going to drink them away, but red wine just isn’t going to suit my mood and I’m too thirsty for a beer. Maybe I’ll just try water. I do like water.

I do like rolled tacos. And just because it’s been a slow news day doesn’t mean I can’t say a million things about it.