Gratitude Photo Shoot

For the last couple of days I’ve wanted to spend as much time as possible taking photographs of all the things in my life that I encounter on that day and compile them into a gallery for a blog entry.

If I did it today, these are the things that made me happy and they would have appeared in my photos:

  • Kittens, kittens and more kittens
  • Coffee
  • My house is so full of food!
  • My teenagers
  • That Dunkin had a $1 coffee because of the Eagles playing
  • Streaming services, today I started a documentary on Netflix
  • Cozy blankets
  • My cat Fog
  • My make up
  • Cantaloupe
  • I tried a chocolate chip cookie dough Chobani Flip
  • Socks. I do love compelling socks
  • My budget book
  • My journal
  • My pink lamp

Random Sunday update

I have so many potential posts running around in my head, I am opting to combine them all in a long post.

Coffee review: Bread and Basket French Roast

So I made a new brand of coffee this morning, Bread and Basket French Roast from ShopRite. It was the same price as the Folger’s Black Silk I bought at Target. Wonderful aroma and while it looked like it brewed extra strong and my cream didn’t really lighten it, it tasted just right.

Weight and stress relief

I have started counting calories again, using Fooducate this time and not My Fitness Pal. My Fitness Pal has more information such nutritional tracking and macros and connects more seamlessly with iHealth. Fooducate focuses on the quality of calories you eat, and since my stress foods are processed and refined carbohydrates I find that the best step in my process right now.

I had lost a solid two pounds this week but last night’s binge of Doritos and horseradish dip, sour patch kids and two alcoholic beverages reacquainted me with half a pound AND gave me nightmares.

Kittens

I haven’t even had a change to truly introduce the Norse Pride Kittens I am pet sitting for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. They don’t have a permanent foster placement yet so we may keep them as they are friendly, jolly and fluffy two-pound kittens. See them on YouTube here: Norse Pride.

Hermes of the Greek Pride is doing well but scratched his nose. Stopping to see Zeus and Apollo today. They are at Chaar in Forks Township. Chaar’s web site

And finally my look of the day:

**Since I wrote this post, it has been brought to my attention I called the Shoprite brand Bread and Basket instead of Bowl and Basket. Oops! Can’t blame me for that— I managed to get my waist into the leg hole of my panties today.

Inner Goddess

I know a lot of people that work hard and that aren’t afraid to hustle and get the job done.

My step mom is one of the hardest working women I know— and she has two businesses that she thinks about all of the time.

My mother-in-law ran garment factories, and while she probably would never consider herself a shrewd businesswoman she was. She kept her factories going and fixed other factories’ mistakes when the garment manufacturing industry declined here in the United States.

Now I want to launch a public relations business (We are Thrive Public Relations) with my partner Darnell but I’m also looking for positions to pay the bills as we get our initial clients together.

My neighbor Sarah has a friend who opened her own independent skin care salon. Merri has a unique vision of a skin care oasis— a place of rest and restoration inside and out.

For all of us women, especially women of a certain age accustomed to giving so much of ourselves, we need that kind of rejuvenation.

Merri has asked me to help her with her marketing and, since we are both women in a troubled economy starting businesses, we will exchange services instead of cash.

So tomorrow I will get my first ever facial at Lucha Bella. (Lucha Bella web site)

And I wonder if Merri would appreciate these words of wisdom from my mother-in-law… when asked the secret to her successful leadership she responded:

Sometimes I wear two different socks. Sometimes I eat a jelly doughnut.

Esther Parry

Owning up and ripping Sheetz a new one

First off, before I even start this entry let me give my poor customer service representative Justin a shout out for his professionalism, patience and calm.

Second, before I get too far let me admit that I have now reached my heaviest ever weight, about ten pounds heavier than my natural set point with no muscle tone left. Push-ups, planks and heel-touch crunches used to be my jam– I could do 20 push-ups, a sixty-second plank and 100 heel touches without feeling tired or compromised.

At one point I had visible abdominal muscles, then I had abdominal muscles like stone beneath a layer of fat. That is now done. I struggle to walk up hill. I have no muscle tone. Where I once used 25-pound dumbbells for my bicep curls, I now huff and puff with ten.

This past year has been cruel.

This is the owning up portion of today’s blog. Yesterday, I woke up exhausted and hot but still motivated myself to do an ab workout. But then, I didn’t quite meet my step goal. And ate half a Papa John’s pizza and an order of their jalapeno popper bread bites. I meant to share them with the teenager but they were way too spicy. And I ate them all, even though they were kinda gross.

Jalapeño popper bread bites

I blame Dominos for the pizza binge as they sent me a push notification that they had two new pizzas–chicken taco and cheeseburger–but both turned out to sound boring and the $5.99 promotion seemed unavailable so rather than order my free two topping I spent $26 at Papa Johns.

The Zesty Italian or Tangy Italian, or whatever pie it was, was delicious in that trashy kind of way (though I hate Papa John’s tomato sauce I am reminded now). And the meal has led to a type of intestinal distress I don’t normally experience. I also gained 3 pounds.

The teenager tells me the pizza was good, but Dominos is better in her adolescent opinion.

Speaking of adolescent behavior, the teenager went back-to-school shopping with the paternal grandparents. She wanted a milkshake from Sheetz for lunch and her grandparents vetoed that and took her to a diner she does not like. I will withhold the name here as it is a fairly popular spot.

So she came home a little upset over the meal situation as she had just had “the worst quesadilla of my life.” She pined for that milkshake as it is 90+ degrees outside and she has marching band tonight.

“Mom,” she said. “If you buy me a milkshake at Sheetz, I won’t eat anything else today.”

I told her to throw in some extra chores and we could talk. She agreed. I downloaded the Sheetz app as these days, I don’t go anywhere without looking for coupons. I went to create my Sheetz account. Now, my husband has the Sheetz card. I have the Sheetz key ring.

The Sheetz card has a security code that the key ring does not.

You need the security card. The app forces me to call customer service.

Customer service tells me I have to find my security code, have my husband call them and say it’s okay, or use the general random Sheetz card.

To which I say, “If I use a random card, I won’t get the points. Isn’t that the point of the loyalty app?”

I launch into a fiery tirade. Because our Sheetz card/account is in my husband’s name, I cannot log into the Sheetz app. I find it odd that a loyalty app would have such strict security. I merely want to look for coupons and then go buy my daughter a milkshake.

Well, poor talented and patient Justin the Customer Service rep tells me, some people have credit card information in the app.

Yes, I say, but this one does not, because this account has never downloaded the app. So it does not have anything in it. I added that I can tell him my husband’s birthday and his social security number and probably the password he used if we ever tried to set up an online account. But he still needs my husband’s permission.

So I tell him that I refinanced my car over the phone the other day, and that I stayed on the line while the previous loan holder talked to my new financer. That I gave them my permission to share my account information with my new bank.

If I can do that over the phone, I should be able to buy a damn milkshake for my kid.

As a compromise, he called my husband at work and asked if he was allowed to give me access to our Sheetz loyalty account. My husband, of course, said yes.

He told the teenager via text that the customer service people didn’t verify his identity. They asked for no proof that he was indeed my husband.

Now let me add that if I were vindictive, because after all my husband and I have been separated for 14 months, why would I go to the trouble to steal his Sheetz loyalty number which is 16 digits, hack into his account, and run up his credit card with Sheetz purchases? Perhaps I would go squander his non-existent stockpile of reward points.

The app apprised me that we had 523 loyalty reward points and Sheetz requires 500 for a free regular milkshake.

I bought myself a pretzel with nacho cheese sauce and while the cheese sauce had a barely perceptible layer of spice to it, it had no flavor whatsoever.

The teenager enjoyed her milkshake.

Their mobile order system is very convenient.

Failure

I want to talk for a minute about failure.

Sometimes I think we, as Americans in the 21st Century, stress too much and obsess too much about failure.

In the last six months, perhaps even the last year, I’ve hedged a lot of bets on new things. Some are simple things, like buying a car. Others are more complex, like accepting a new job and later a promotion into a position where I have no experience, only passion and my wits.

I enjoy new experiences, not everyone does. I love learning. I love challenges. I love some competition.

But with that comes failure. And sometimes we spend so much time on the failure that we don’t see how much progress we made before we failed.

It’s not even 9 a.m. on the last day of a long weekend. Probably my first relaxing long weekend since I started my new job in April. My time off prior to this was filled with parental duties or medical appointments.

Of course, I’ve slept in until 7 a.m. every day so the alarm tomorrow is going to be brutal. I have some very important projects on my desk and some meetings this week that also give me some concern.

The living room is completely dismantled, unpainted, and the furniture will arrive by the end of the week.

The teenager has a holiday concert on the same night I agreed to attend a party with my CEO. (In my defense, I thought she had her interior design class, which she does so she’s double-booked, too.)

Etc.

But this post is about failure.

If you look a few posts back, you’ll see that a good friend inspired me to buy The Whole 30. I read most of it, even did some grocery shopping, but never implemented it. It did force me to think more about what I was eating. I started tracking my macronutrients again and reducing my carbohydrates. Not in a low carb way. In a balanced way.

I am debating canceling my Planet Fitness membership. It’s been seven months and since school started, my teen and I have only gone 2-4 times a month. We both need it, but we’re not going. And I have free weights and the tools I need to get started again here at home. I joined the gym to motivate her and have more options since I’d maxed out at home.

So right now the gym is a failure, but at the same time fitness is very much on my mind and I wish I had it in me to resume my disciplined body building. (I did two or three home workouts this week. My goal is to break my bad habits before considering “New Year’s resolutions.”)

And finally, for the first time since I started making homemade bone broth a decade or so ago, I failed at that. For two days, I’ve had chicken bones from my freezer and the Thanksgiving turkey carcass in my crock pot. Somehow, overnight, ALL the liquid boiled off. ALL of it.

My “waste not, want not” attitude kicked in and mourned this tragedy. Then I remembered: I don’t like poultry broth. My daughter used to love chicken soup. But she doesn’t so much anymore. And I don’t really have room in the freezer. So maybe we didn’t need homemade soup right now.

Failure isn’t always bad. Sometimes it keeps you from expending energy in the wrong direction.

Not so Whole30

It’s hard to believe that in two more weeks I will be celebrating my six-month anniversary in my new job in the development office at ProJeCt of Easton.

Three months in, my husband and I separated. Four months in my boss gave notice. Almost five months in, I received a promotion. Last week, I asked my agency to hire an old acquaintance as a temporary event planner. Our signature fundraiser is six weeks away!

This summer I have written four grants, worked on two collaborative grants, and wrote a letter of interest for a grant. I have three more grants due in the next three weeks.

But in the midst of everything, I’ve had some amazing work adventures but I’ve noticed my natural energy and trips to the gym and being replaced by doughnuts and coffee.

It’s also Marching Band Season with my teenager in her third year in low brass. She’s struggling with a hectic schedule, her fitness waning and her old ear infections coming back. She has a raging one now according to the doctor at Patient First.

She has an appointment with her ENT practice on Thursday. I think she needs tubes. She had them about eight years ago. She needs them again.

My daughter and I both love carbohydrates. I have been weight training now for almost six years consistently and the only thing that keeps me from looking like a totally ripped badass is my weakness for sugar.

I consider myself a lazy bodybuilding princess. I don’t have the hard core discipline to work out daily, but I like to lift. I like results. I like to be strong. But I also like to be lazy.

So food plays into that too.

When my daughter was little, I heavily restricted her dairy hoping it would help clear her head of fluid.

Maybe I need to do that again.

My friend Bill Prystauk (of Crash Palace Productions, author of Bloodletting and Punishment) recommended the Whole30 for my daughter.

I can’t stop thinking about it so I bought the book.

But can we do it?

More to come…