Sunday, August 31, 2008

Like a busy little bee

Yesterday morning, I wasn't able to get on the scale until I had drunk several cups of coffee, eaten breakfast and was dressed. So, I decided to weigh in this morning instead. Depending on which number you go with, I have lost between 2-1/2 and 4 lbs this past week. No matter how you look at it, I'm ahead of target. Of course, my target is an average of 8 lbs every 4 weeks, so I'm not re-adjusting the end goal unless I consistently stay ahead of target for several weeks.

A quick recap of yesterday's food diary - as you know, Friday's dinner was a bit on the high-fat side, so I tried to compensate (according to the French principles) by eating a bit lighter yesterday:


Greek yogurt & honey
Honeydew melon
1 slice sprouted wheat toast


Tomato, cucumber & tuna lemony-salad


Cold corn soup
Roast chicken
Brussels sprouts
Ginger carrots
3 tea cookies

Today's menu is:


1/2 croissant
1 scrambled egg with a little cream cheese
Sliced tomato (locally grown - very good)

My original lunch plans were:

Sliced cucumber with a little hummus and a few olives
Turkey burger w/ tomato (no bun)
Small slice baguette with feta cheese
Fruit (not sure what - I have some grapes and peaches)

However, I found some leftover low-sodium ham that needed to be used up (while the turkey burgers are frozen and aren't going to go bad). So, I ended up having:

Blanched green beans
Small slice baguette and feta

I wasn't hungry enough for an entree or fruit - probably due to all the tasting that occurs while one is cooking (see below).


Cold zucchini soup (see below)
Roast pork loin
Roasted cauliflower (see below)

Today, I am spending some time cooking things for this coming week.

First thing I did this morning was put the carcass from my roast chicken into a stock pot to make some chicken stock. This is still simmering as I write this. It smells heavenly. As soon as it is done, I will strain it, put it into the fridge and then skim any fat off of it.

Also, right now in the oven, I have cauliflower roasting. When it and the chicken broth is done, I am going to use half of it to make roast cauliflower soup, which unlike the other soups I have been making, is served warm.

The other thing I am going to use the chicken broth for is to make a cold zucchini-basil soup.

The final thing on today's menu for cooking is to make some more of the lemony-potato salad that I made last week, which is a few yellow potatoes boiled and then tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, green onion and Italian flat-leaf parsley.

So far, I haven't burned Renee's kitchen down (crossing fingers here). And, the food has turned out really good. I just wish that Marlo were here to witness it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Another day of feeling desperately homesick

Just thought I'd warn you with the title that this is not likely to be a cheerful post. I really just want to go home. If it wouldn't prevent me from graduating from law school in December, something I actually hate more than Tulsa, Oklahoma, I'd pack up right now and get on a plane. As it is, though, I'm sticking it out.

Today's food diary is:


Vanilla flavored Greek yogurt. It was grainy and didn't taste very good. I prefer plain Greek yogurt to which I add a drizzle of honey on top.

Lunch (this was almost entirely comprised of little bits of leftovers):

Leftover shredded carrot salad (shredded carrots, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper)
Leftover homemade sausage half
Leftover ham, pasta & peas from dinner the night before (a few mouthfuls of each)
3 Asparagus spears


Pea, prosciutto & pasta salad - about 1/2 cup
Spinach & bacon quiche
Blanched green beans
1/4 cup ice cream with 2 tea cookies crumbled in

I got everything except the dessert from the deli that is attached to the Stonehorse Cafe here in Tulsa - one of the only good things about this city. Really great, restaurant quality food at not crazy prices. No bargain, mind you, but much better than eating out. For example, everything I got for dinner was a little over $7. More expensive than home cooking, but I am the only person eating and it seems crazy to make an entire quiche just to have it go bad in the fridge.

Anyway, for some reason their blanched green beans are always much better than the ones I make at home. It didn't make sense to me since blanching veggies isn't exactly rocket science. I talked to the nice girl at the deli, Emily, who told me to salt the water "like the ocean," salty, but not offensively so. Boil the green beans for 6-8 minutes and then shock them in ice water when done. That's the step I've been missing. So, now I'm ready to try it again. The green beans end up cooked, but still firm, not crispy yet still green. Nummy and very good for you.

Tomorrow morning is the one-week weigh in and like I said yesterday, I am feeling very optomistic. I felt like slacking off on drinking water today, but picked it up when I remembered that tomorrow is the day I get on the scale. So, I'm slugging down as much as I can stand - I'm still probably running "a quart low," as my dad would say.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tonight's Check In

I've had a long day working and am feeling very homesick. I miss my own house, my own space, my friends and my cat. I want to go home. However, I have two weeks left here in Oklahoma so I just have to keep moving forward. I really do love working for the judge and I do think that experience makes this all worthwhile. I'm just ready for it to be over. 3 months is a long time to be away from home.

Anyway, today's food log is:


Fiber One cereal with milk and a cut-up peach


Chilled corn soup with baby shrimp
Asparagus spears with balsamic vinagrette
Roast chicken breast
1 small slice of baguette and some brie


Shredded carrots with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Low salt ham
3 tea cookies

I'm doing really well and am looking forward to my weigh in on Saturday. I feel like I'll be right on track. I do need to increase my activity level a lot and continue to drink lots of water. However, for right now in the situation I am in, I am pleased.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shopping 'round the world made easy.

Last year when I was in Amsterdam, my friend Frank took me all around and made my stay fantastic. As a thank you, before I left, I got him a season of Seinfeld on DVD. Of course, I needed to make sure that the DVDs were European-compatible, and I didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for shipping. So, I got the CD from Amazon's UK website.

This week, one of my French sisters, Pascale, sent me her first-ever email (I am so proud to be the premiere recipient) and told me that they were going to have a party in October to celebrate my French parents, Jacqueline & Pierre's 50th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, I cannot go to the party, but I wanted to send a gift. Pascale said I could send something to her house and she'd wrap it and take it to the party with her. So, I went shopping at Amazon's French website and bought a great Emile Henry teapot (theiere, en francais), with free shipping due to the price of the item.

Considering that last year the postal service did away with surface mail shipping, buying from Amazon's European sites (they also have one for Germany) is a great bargain. In fact, if you cannot navigate the language for the foreign sites, the UK site still ships to continental Europe for great rates.

Something good about law school (at last!)

When one becomes a law student, one instantly becomes a "market" for various producers - study aids, textbooks, computers, etc. Of course, one also gets caught up in the war between Westlaw and LexisNexis.

Personally, I prefer LexisNexis for lots of reasons. One of those reasons is that LexisNexis isn't stingy with handing out points for using their program, and the points are redeemable for great stuff. (Personally, last I looked I could get a mug from Westlaw with my points so long as I'm okay with the mug being imprinted with the Westlaw logo. I'm not so my points sit unused while I take my business to LexisNexis.)

By the end of last school year, I had over 10,000 LexisNexis points. So, a couple of days ago, I went shopping in the "redeem points" section of their website. I'm not certain, but I am pretty sure they are hooked up with Amazon so one can buy just about anything. First, I looked at blenders, but my sister Jamie told me that she has one I can have. Then I looked at bread machines, but Jamie informed me that she got hers for $5 from the Goodwill and that people were always dumping off bread machines after realizing that they just gathered dust.

I ended up buying a red Le Creuset dutch oven, which retails for over $200. Personally, I don't think I'd ever plunk down $200 for a pot, but I have wanted one of these for nearly two decades. So, I decided to go ahead and use my points to get myself one. After the hell that is law school, I think I deserve it. Plus, the pot is a great fiery-hell red. Appropriate, I think.

Plowing away seems to be the order of the day.

I'm down here in Tulsa, working two jobs for the summer. The first is a full-time job as an intern at the Tulsa Country District Court, and the second is a part-time job in a local law office.

Frankly, I'm tired. I'm continuing my plan I embarked on on Saturday past, in order to get down to a healthy weight by my 40th birthday, and to get to my pre-pregnancy weight by the time I go to France next Spring.

Today's food log and observations are:


1 slice brioche & honey (I really like brioche. My French mom, Jacqueline, makes a dietetic version that I just have to get the recipe for.)


Leftover lemon potatoes
Tuna & tomato salad

I then noticed when I went to my second job at 3:00 that I was fighting the compulsion to eat, but I wasn't really hungry. What I am is exhausted. All I have been doing this week is just trying to make it through - plowing away at what needs to be done. I wonder how much being a single mom, full-time student, and part-time employee, has contributed to my weight problem simply because I think I need to eat when my energy slumps? Anyway, I didn't give in to it and drank water instead.

Then, I came home and made dinner which was:

Shrimp & avocado salad
1 small slice baguette w/ leftover pate
1/2 of a homemade sausage
Ginger carrots
and 3 small tea cookies

Overall, I am pleased with my progress and with the great meals I am making don't feel deprived at all. I will say that with planning, they are much more balanced than I normally would eat - especially since I plan out meals many days in advance to use up leftovers, but not eat things consecutively so that I get bored with them. I'm saving money, eating healthier, and eating tastier meals than I do in my normal not-thinking mode of just plowing through the day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Comes on fast, goes away slow.

Anyone who is a perpetual dieter will understand the feeling that one gets two or three days into a new regime, before it has become second nature or a lifestyle. That sentiment is, "What! I've been good for 2 whole days - why am I not a size six already?!?!"

Anyway, while I wish I was progressing faster (who doesn't?), my new lifestyle is actually very pleasant and fulfilling. I am still very low on the activity side of the scale - mostly because I am still down here in Tulsa where the mass transit does not go very many places and it is sweltering and humid. Once I beat this flu, I'll probably start taking walks in a mall after dinner.

Today's food log check in is as follows:


Fresh local peaches (these were quite good)
1 slice whole grain toast with butter


Cucumber with some hummus
Piece of baguette and feta cheese
(I made some tuna-tomato salad, but have diminished hunger from not feeling well)


A few tiny pickled beets
3 stalks asparagus & dressing
Roast chicken thigh
Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup vanilla ice cream with two tea cookies crumbled in

I'll check in again tomorrow, hopefully feeling better, and perhaps with a few witty observations. :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm so sick I could fall on my face. Oh wait - I did!

I continued my plan today. A quick recap of what I ate today.

For breakfast, I had non-fat Greek yogurt with some honey. Greek yogurt is yogurt that has had extra moisture strained out of it so it is deliciously thick and creamy, even the non-fat kind.

For lunch, I had the cold corn soup I made yesterday, some lower-sodium ham, and peas. I was going to eat a peach, but I was full after lunch so I saved it for a late afternoon snack.

Typically, snacking is outside the French mode of sustenance. However, everything I ate up until then was very low fat so the satiety-factor was rather low. I was really eating carefully because we were planning on having a surprise birthday party for Renee this evening at Tei Kei's, a local Asian fusion restaurant. I find that eating out in American restaurants is tricky because the portions are huge and the food often very high-calorie. So, I was eating less this morning and at lunch to compensate in advance.

Unfortunately, Renee did not return in time from her out-of-town weekend trip so we had to call off her party late this afternoon. Plus, up until this moment today I have been saying, "I'm coming down with something." You know what, it's not future-tense anymore. I've come down with something. I feel so yucky, I could cry for my mother. Thus, for dinner I ended up having chicken soup and a roll.

About falling down. I was at the office working at my second job when I heard the front door open. I got up to see who it was and ended up tripping on some cardboard that had been left on the conference room stairs. That, coupled with not feeling well and being a little unbalanced, and I fell down and scraped up my knee and got banged up a little. I'm too old to be falling down. The only thing good about any of it was that no one witnessed the gracefulness (not) of my tumble.

Anyway, I've now taken two Nyquil capsules, one Aleve, and am sitting in bed waiting for them to kick in so I can get a good night's sleep. Hopefully, all will be well in the morning.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dumb Design of the Day

My father, the former Boeing engineer, has a knack for pointing out things with less than optimal designs. Well, Dad, I've got one for you, too.

Today I made a cold corn soup, which actually required cooking prior to being chilled. The design of the Jenn-Air cook top in Renee's kitchen is simply stupid. Some moron of a designer put the knobs in the middle where everything you cook splatters.

Of course, they also appeared to have made it so the knobs are not removable for easy cleaning (I could be wrong on this, but also didn't want to "force" things and accidentally end up breaking Renee's stove if I was wrong - let's just say they aren't easily removable).

Also, while Renee's house is simply beautiful, the amount of space between the cook top and the over-the-stove microwave and vent hood is insufficient. I actually had to take the stock pot off the stove to be able to pour additional ingredients into it from another bowl. In fact, it is so low that in the photo you can see the spatters on the front of the microwave from cooking beneath it.

I will say, though, that despite my griping, cooking in Renee's kitchen is far more enjoyable than my teeny kitchen at home. I just think that for such a lovely home, a few design issues could have been thought out more. Because, unfortunately, the clean-up definitely detracted from the pleasure.

You've got to coddle your eggs *photos updated*

In keeping with the goal I declared yesterday, I am modeling my lifestyle after the principles set forth the the book, "French Women Don't Get Fat." This model really seems to work well for me. After all, last summer while in Europe, I lost 15 lbs. eating lots of cheese in Amsterdam, bread and cheese and tarts in France, and pizza, pasta, and gelato while in Rome. Overall, the key is to (1) walk a lot, (2) eat 3 meals a day in small portion courses, (3) slow down a little and enjoy life.

This morning for breakfast, I had one egg scrambled with a little bit of cream cheese, one slice of bacon, two small slices of brioche with honey, and tea.

Let me just start off by saying that there is no way that brioche is anything close to a "diet" food. However, in keeping with the principles of the French, I choosing my indulgences. Also, in keeping with those principles, I am limiting it to twice a week, and am also balancing out the rest of the day's meals to compensate for the high butter and fat content that gives brioche its tasty goodness.

I whipped the egg with a fork until it was pale yellow and fluffy. Then, I cooked it slowly over low heat. Cooking eggs at higher temperatures are what makes them rubbery. So, your patience will be rewarded if you cook them over a very low flame. Just at the end, I added a few dots of cream cheese. Marlo got me hooked on this and if you have never tried it, you should. It makes your scrambled eggs wonderfully creamy. It is even better with a bit of fresh tarragon. In fact, it is so good that this month's Gourmet magazine published a recipe for this exact combination.

Lastly, about the dish I served my breakfast on. Renee, the person I am staying with in Oklahoma this summer, inherited these plates from her grandparents. The size of the plate inside the rim is less than six inches wide. So, while you are dining on a dinner plate, the actual food-area is the size of a salad plate. Whenever I look at dinner plates to buy for home, I find the more modern ones are nearly 12 inches or more across, with an eating area of at least 8-10 inches. I love Renee's plates because it makes it seem like you are eating an entire large plateful of food, but you are not. Notice how my one fluffy scrambled egg seems like a big portion?

My planned menu for the rest of the day is:

Lunch -
  • Italian yellow potato salad, which is a few yellow potatoes tossed with a little olive oil, lemon, Italian parsley and green onion.
  • Tarragon chicken salad on a small tomato.
  • Honeydew melon.
(Note about lunch: I used small salad plates - compare their size to the utensils. Also, I ate 1/2 of the potatoes and left a few tomato slices as well. Learning to make smaller portions.)

Dinner -
  • Chilled cucumber soup (the one I made last week).
  • A small amount of pate and baguette.
  • Blanched asparagus.
  • Turkey burger (meat only, no bun, no cheese).
  • Grapes.

(Note about dinner: I ate the small bowl of soup, 1/2 of the pate and bread, 1/2 of the turkey burger and asparagus, and all of the grapes.)

The other thing I have done today is I gave my hair a deep conditioning treatment and did a facial masque - all while writing this blog post. Too bad it is Sunday or I'd probably run right out for a manicure and pedicure to top it all off.

I hope you all enjoyed your day as much as I did.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Throwing down the gauntlet

In December, I turn 40, which will happen a few weeks after I graduate from law school. No, I'm not planning on having a birthday party with black balloons or anything depressing like that (my birthday is very close to Christmas and I'm a twin - it sucks enough on its own).

I have decided that this is the year that I am going to stop living my life like it is going to start when X,Y,Z.
  • When I graduate from law school, then I'll enjoy my life.
  • When Marlo goes to college, then I'll enjoy my life.
  • When Marlo graduates from college, then I'll enjoy my life.
  • When I get my law practice off the ground, then I'll enjoy my life.
  • When I have enough saved for retirement, then I'll enjoy my life.
  • When I have enough to buy a cottage in France, then I'll enjoy my life.
And on and on and on - you get the drift.

One of the items I am finally going to succeed with is my weight. As my friends know, I had lost 85 lbs. from my all-time highest weight before I regained around 30 lbs. during law school, of which I have now re-lost 12. Don't worry if you feel confused, I can barely keep track of it myself. The amount of weight I have gained and lost over the past 20 years is getting so complicated that my limited math skills can barely keep up.

Anyway, I have mapped out a 2 lbs. a week weight loss (relatively aggressive, I know) from now until the Saturday before my birthday. If I keep on track, by the time I am 40, I will be the lowest weight I have been since I was 27.

I also mapped it out, continuing at 2 lbs. a week, until my planned trip to France after the bar exam. If I keep on track with that, by the time I go to France, I'll be down to the weight I was when I got pregnant.

As part of my structure to keep on track for the next 17 weeks, I am going to blog about my progress - what I'm eating, what activities I am doing, how I am faring emotionally - and my weekly weight loss (in pounds lost). As noted above, I have lost over 12 lbs. this summer so far, but will be tracking my weight loss from today's date starting at zero. Remember, the goal is an average of 2 lbs. a week over the course of each month.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yummy Non-cooking Cooking

A long time ago (not in a galaxy far far away), I used to be a decent cook. I even worked as a nanny-housekeeper when I was 19 and had to cook many of the family meals. My meals tasted good and I was able to execute a recipe without problems.

However, ever since I burned down my condo kitchen, I haven't been able to shake the curse. Every now and again, I'll get into a streak of cooking new recipes - some good, but a lot of failures. So, every time I have a success, I'm as proud as a 5 year old boy strutting around in new cowboy boots.

Today, I "cooked" two new cold soups for summer. One was a cucumber-avocado soup, which was blended seeded cucumbers, scallions, avocado and yogurt. Nice and cool and refreshing. The second was blended cooked beets, cumin, minced shallots and yogurt. It was alarmingly pink.

I am staying with my former boss, Renee, for the summer. She tried them both and pronounced them good, especially the cucumber one.

Healthy, nummy, and her kitchen still stands intact. All in all it is a good day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Someday Anthropologists are Going to Find this Invaluable.

From ROBERT L. JAMIESON JR. at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer comes a hilarious, but not off-the-mark, study of Northwesterners:


YOUR TYPICAL Seattleite?

I thought I had it pegged: polite, progressive, passive aggressive.

Environmentally conscious. Well-read. Lover of pets.

Self-consciously smug.

If affluent, not ostentatious.

A menace at the wheel.

But I'd forgotten all about "50-Degrees-Shirts-Off Guy."

Read rest of story here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Product Review: Ben & Jerry's Peach Cobbler Ice Cream

Yes, my first post in a long, long while and its about ice cream. Well, I'm spending my summer in Tulsa working for a judge and we've had a string of over-100 degree days. It's ridiculously hot - but not funny. So, ice cream is important (at least in this context).

Today, I tried a new Ben & Jerry's flavor called Willie Nelson's Country Peach Cobbler, which is peach ice cream with cinnamon-sugar shortbread pieces.

It is insanely good. I highly recommend it.

Just for the fun of it, here's the link to the ice cream flavor's entry in Wikiality, "the truthiness encyclopedia" a la Stephen Colbert, listing ingredients such as "shredded tax forms and hash."