Thursday, March 31, 2016

First Quarterly Check-in, March 31, 2016

Hi Readers - thanks for checking in to see what I've been up to in the first quarter of my post-blogging year!  It took a while to realize I no longer have to remember to photograph everything I do and eat, then I got pretty busy.

Here I am - still pain-free and I have stayed between 133 and 135 pounds.  I think I'll stop posting unflattering photos of me trying to suck in my belly - here's how I actually look most of the time.

The first thing I tackled in the new year was sleep.  I was tired of tossing and turning in the middle of the night, then sleeping later in the morning than I want to.  Here's what I did:
  • Bought more melatonin.  It helps adjust sleep patterns and was recommended by the naturopath I consulted to help me through chemo and radiation some years ago.
  • Bought and hung room-darkening drapes.  We just had blinds with a cornice selected by Stan's prior girlfriend - now we're redecorating the bedroom  : )
  • Thanks to son-in-law Ben, I now listen to the sound of ocean waves crashing on the beach all night.  It's a free app called White Noise Free and the waves are my favorite.  It's not very loud, but just seems to mask traffic noises and Stan's breathing.
  • And - are you sitting down? - I completely stopped drinking wine or any other alcohol.  Yup, did it.  I think this made the most difference.
Now I sleep well most of the time, and I've even been aware of dreaming, though I didn't used to remember any dreams at all.  It's a real pleasure to go to bed knowing I can expect a good night's sleep.

So, giving up wine was a pretty big thing.  Now I see it's true that when you don't drink alcohol, you crave sugar more.  (My non-drinking, candy-eating friend, Mary, always told me that, and I was skeptical.)  At cocktail hour I started treating myself to one of those bottled Starbucks frappuccinos, and guess what I now look forward to every day!  Yup, still having one almost every day.  However, one of those has fewer calories than three glasses of wine, so maybe it's not too bad.  It doesn't seem to affect my sleep as alcohol does.

My granddaughter, Mira, introduced me to The Best British Baking Show - if you haven't seen this, it's terrific!  (I found it available on Netflix.)  The contestants are lovely nice people and incredibly talented.  Both Stan and I loved it, and of course, it made me want to bake!  I used real, glutinous flour and lots of butter and sugar, and I think it will be okay to have a cake once in a while.

Yellow cake with chocolate frosting for our 5th anniversary (January 1st - last day of wine!)

Lemon loaf cake

Strawberry swirl for Valentines' Day

I also baked some bread:

Wheat germ bread with molasses - Mira liked this a lot

Whole grain bread from Whole Grain Bread in 5 Minutes A Day

Other than the cakes, I've kept to my eating plan fairly well.  Lots of protein and veggies!

Breakfast scramble
I've really embraced veggies for breakfast!
When it's my turn to cook dinner:

Stuffed Peppers
With my newfound energy and free time I've worked on some home improvement.  First I helped Stan clean ten years or so worth of mud out of the fish pond.  It was a good opportunity since last fall most of the fish were mysteriously gone one day.  We don't know whether it was a large bird or raccoon or something else, but it was a sad day for us.  We are very happy that Stan managed to catch the three remaining ones and they survived their week "at camp" in the wading pool while we dug a lot of mud and weeds out of the pond.  They appear to be enjoying their new home, although while it's still cold they mostly hide out and sleep under the rocks.

I also started painting our bedroom - and realized it is really big!  I've finished the sitting area with two coats of white on the ceiling and two coats of a sort of zen-looking warm gray on the walls.  Stan requested salmon-colored walls in the bedroom, and we agreed on an accent wall or two.  He'll help me paint the main part of the bedroom and it'll be exciting to see how the color turns out!  I'll post an "after" photo in a future quarterly check-in when it's all done.

(Can I take a moment here to explain, and brag a little?  Several years ago Stan was asked to go to Cambridge University - yes, the one in Cambridge, England - to be part of a panel for a PhD candidate.  While there, he stayed in a lovely old building and took many photos of his beautiful  room with salmon walls.  Our room at home doesn't have the same gracious lines and white moldings, but we'll see what we can do.)

I got to take a break and spend an afternoon with Mira - always fun!  She played her violin and let me try it out.  I went to her concert a few weeks later, and then we had a birthday party for my co-grandparents, Charla and Merv, and Mira played for us.  It's exciting to see her progress!

And finally, I discovered  What a great website!!  I am mostly interested in the quilting, but they have classes and supplies for other needlework crafts, cooking and baking, art, photography, jewelry and more.  I found a beautiful kit for a quilt with fabrics by my favorite fabric designer, Kaffe Fassett.  It was on sale for half-price, and I know I could never buy all the fabric individually for that little.  Then I signed up for some classes, and so far, they are excellent.  They're online videos with an opportunity to ask questions and have an online discussion with the instructor and other students.  It's fun to see the others' completed projects!

So, that's it for this quarterly check-in - you know where I'll be for the next several months!