Holiday eBook Sale Featuring Dog Aliens 1!

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Dog Aliens 1 Raffle's Name, my story about how my dog is really a space alien, is featured in Indie Book Festival's Holiday eBook Sale! Woo Hoo! There is a paperback version of my book, too, but the eBook version is on sale for 99 cents until Monday, December 31, 2012. Get it while it's hot! :)

Happy New Year!

Waffle Stompers for Walking on Ice

Merry Christmas! Today I found out that if I wear my waffle stomper boots, I am pretty darn sure footed when crossing the icy streets around here in Spokane, WA. Waffle stompers are what in junior high we used to call hiking boots, or any boots with large tread that resembles waffle irons.

"Give an ant a chance" was the motto we used to have, regarding the tread that boots ought to have. These are my current waffle stompers. I got them at Walmart for about $35, in the boys' section. They are waterproof steel toe Herman Survivors.

I'm a desert girl. Before we moved here to Spokane in 2010, my experience walking on ice and snow was confined to the twenty or so times I had been snow skiing at Mammoth Mountain, Lake Tahoe, Big Bear, Aspen, and one dreamy time in Switzerland. The boots we city slickers brought to the slopes for "apres ski" wear were usually attractive but impractical furry or suede boots with slippery souls that were not at all safe for walking on ice.

The last pair of "snow boots" that I bought were London Fog Eve style boots. They leak water onto my socks, their tread is treacherously slippery on ice, and they were twice as expensive as my awesome waffle stompers from Walmart. I wore my fancy London Fog 'apres ski' boots as house slippers for a few days, but they aren't even warm enough for that.

I have elastic-on cleats for walking on ice, but today on the ice in my waffle stompers, I felt more sure-footed than even when I wear my cleats. I am very pleasantly surprised. To be fair, the ice today is frozen treaded snow that has some texture to it, not slick black ice. I will still put my cleats on when we have slick ice from freshly fallen rain.

The Round Mayan Calendar Has an End?

theilr / Foter / CC BY-SA
The movie 2012 and a bunch of other hype say the world will end this coming Friday, December 21, 2012. When I first heard this nonsense, I remembered the round clay tablet my mother brought home in the early 1970s, from a visit to South America. I thought to myself, "The round Mayan calendar has an end?"

Think about it. Part of the definition of a circle is that it does not have an end.

You have heard of a circular argument, yes? Circular logic? Going round and round the mulberry bush? Coming full circle? The wheel of time? Going round and round and round in the circle game? The endless circle?

While researching the Mayan calendar a few years ago for an article, I discovered that it was constructed of several round clay tablets that interact together like gears in a mechanical clock. This photo shows that, a bit. How cool is that? This Friday, December 21, 2012 may be the end of one of the cycles of the Mayan calendar, but friends, a round calendar cannot come to an end. The definitions in geometry won't allow it.
I weigh 156.4 today, .4 up since my post on Monday. I need to go easier on the Christmas treats. I did walk my mile both yesterday and Monday. 

156 Pink Elephants on Parade!

Scott videoed this pink elephant in one of the yards on his way home this morning. It has wheels for eyes and is made out of metal. Some (Spokanite? Spokanean?) mounted this metal sculpture on a pedestal and gave it a prominent position near the front door.

If they were paying homage to Disney's children's movie, "Dumbo," then I can understand and appreciate the effort. That was one of my favorite movies, as a child. I love that he thinks he needs his magic feather in order to fly, at first. I love all the songs, but especially "I done seen about everything when I see an elephant fly." Because I loved the movie so much, I also loved the Dumbo ride at Disneyland. We lived in the Los Angeles area, so we went every year.

Today I weigh 156, which is .6 up from yesterday, but still 1 pound less than Monday. We got some "pub mix" at Costco, which is similar to Chex mix. It is very salty. Yes, yes. I do need to lose these extra 6 pounds. And I know I will regret it if I put off losing the 6 extra pounds until after Christmas. That is what I sorely want to do, though. Yes, I need to cut way down on the snacks and treats. I walked a mile in the snow yesterday, for exercise, with Oreo. Here is what I ate: 

Special K, organic soy milk, blueberries
Waffle with raspberry syrup
El Monterey beef and bean burrito with salsa
Christmas cookies
Godiva chocolates
Steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with a three-once flavored cheese from a gift package from Mom and Dad Kelley 
About three servings of pub mix
More cookies

From Airplane: Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, or Mars?

Gazing at the clouds under us while I flew from Spokane to Phoenix last week was so fun! I put my other photos in a video that appears lower down in this post. We were over one of the following states: Idaho, Utah, Nevada, or Arizona.

Sometimes, the landscape looked to me like Mars, minus the clouds and any lakes that happened to appear. It was just dirt, no plants in sight. Of course there were roads, but if you have read Ray Bradbury's Maritan Chronicles, then you expect the Mars landscape to have roads.

The most interesting geological aspects from the air were sculptures the wind had made out of the dirt out here in the desert wilderness. I loved looking at the canyons and the ripples in the sand. Also, some areas were the color of iron, copper, or brass. I can totally see how aircraft help the mining industry.

Another thing that hits me when I fly is just how empty most of the land is, out here in the Western regions of the United States. We have settled nowhere near all the inhabitable land. There is still plenty of room to expand civilization.

Spectacular Leap

OK, I don't know much about horses or dressage at all, but I was blown away by this horse I saw my sister ride last Saturday. Not only is Spectacular Leap a beautiful horse, but he does what the rider tells him to without fussing, and he carries himself well, if that doesn't sound too stupid.

See how the top of the photo is in focus and clear, yet the horse's feet are blurry? That was how it looked with my naked eye, too. It's like the horse has a Cadillac suspension system. There is a video, if you scroll down the page. Watch it and see this movement. The horse is trotting! When I was a kid, my mom and my sister dragged me along when they went trail riding, and I always hated it when my horse trotted. It was like riding a bike with wooden wheels on a cobblestone road. Yuck! But this horse makes it look almost comfortable. I marveled at that.

Owner Carole Francis-Swayze says Spectacular Leap is descended from a famous race horse named Spectacular Bid. She offered to show me the pedigree, but I took her word for it. She says her horse is a thoroughbred, but that his build harkens back to the Arabian origins of the breed. He is a 16-year-old gelding. I said her horse reminds me of my dog, Raffle, who is so eager to please us that he does everything we say and many things we don't say but that we want him to do. She agrees and says horse people call that having a good mind.

That's my sister riding Spectacular Leap, both in this photo and in the video. She says horseback riding is very strenuous exercise because a rider has a moving being underneath and has to anticipate its every move. After discussion, she thought maybe surfing in the ocean on a surf board might be as strenuous.

How do we teach children about clean healthy eating?

Here is my friend Janet Michelson's guest post about her illustrated book Chew Chew the Food Chain Train, which teaches nutrition to children. The eBook will be a free download at Amazon on Fr and Sat the 7th and 8th of December, 2012.
I am a licensed, registered occupational therapist with a special interest in clean eating and nutrition. Working in long term care, I saw the effects of processed food and inadequate nutrition. Patients had long lists of chronic diseases and even longer lists of medications, which all had side effects. It became clear that they were not getting better with all these medications. Watching the patients eat food laden with pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, preservatives, genetic modification, and processed with more chemicals, sugars, and fats seemed to make matters worse. The lack of healthy fruits and vegetables was discouraging. 

How could I help in this tragic situation? I contacted a state senator, and we are working to change the laws regarding nutrition in long term care, but this was not enough. People need to eat clean, healthy food throughout their lifetimes in order to avoid chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which occur with increased frequency in young people and even in children. Some parents are unaware of the level of contamination in food and the long term consequences of an unhealthy diet. 

How do we teach children and parents to make good choices when they are surrounded by and bombarded with bad choices? Chew Chew the Food Chain Train is ready to help. She is a train made entirely of fruits and vegetables, and she makes learning fun! Come along to see how children are given choices of foods to eat and encouraged to choose the healthy foods from the train car buffet that comes right to the table! 

Future adventures will have Chew Chew and children enjoying a farmer’s market where they learn about truck farming, Community Based Agriculture, and Non-GMO farming; planting an organic garden; making natural compost; learning about plate recommendations and school lunches; cooking whole food; finding out about special diets such as gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free; and going to the grocery store to learn about processed foods. 

The first of this fun and educational series of books is now available on at Amazon as eBooks and in print. Costs are kept to a minimum to offer the books at affordable prices in order to be available to as many children as possible. This is a mission, perhaps a calling, to help children live a healthy lifestyle. Each book includes the children engaging in physical activity as they interact with Chew Chew and learn to make better food choices.

153 Easy Turkey Pie

I am dangerous now that I know how easy it is to make pie crust, or pastry! I am three pounds overweight after Thanksgiving, and working now to lose that before I attend a party next weekend. This turkey pie is partly to blame, along with the pumpkin pie, apple pie, stuffing, potatoes, cream of chicken soup instead of gravy, and yams I ate at Thanksgiving, not to mention the rice, corn, and salty enchilada sauce I ate with the leftover turkey the rest of last week.

It's time for me to stop, and yes Mom, I froze the rest of the turkey. But I made up this recipe for turkey pie, and it came out really good! I just had to brag on how good it was, and how easy it was to make. I used:

1 cup leftover Thanksgiving turkey, de-boned and shredded
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 12 once can green beans
1 12 once can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup refrigerated turkey fat, butter, Crisco, lard, or other solid fat
3 tablespoons iced water
dash of salt

Turn the oven on to 350 so it heats up while you assemble the pie.

Mix the salt and flour in a mixing bowl with a fork.
Add the fat.
Stab the fat into the flour over and over with the end of a wire wisk and then stir it around and then stab it some more until all the flour is moistened with fat and it all is little crumbs in the bowl.
Sprinkle the iced water over the flour and fat
Stir the water into the flour and fat with a fork until it all rolls up into a ball. Add a little more water if it doesn't all stick together within a few minutes.
Roll the ball between your hands for a few seconds to get it to all stick together, and then press it into the un-greased pie pan.

Line the uncooked crust with the mashed potatoes so that the soup does not make the crust too moist.

Layer the turkey over the mashed potatoes, and the green beans over the turkey, and then use a rubber spatula to spread the undiluted can of cream of chicken soup over the top of the meat and vegetables.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Dog Aliens 1 Raffle's Name On Kindle

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful that my first novel is now available here for Kindle

Animated Cover for Dog Aliens 1 Raffle's Name

Update: Dog Aliens 1 is now available wherever you buy books online. It has a new cover, but here I am holding my very first paperback novel. :)

Turkey in Fridge Intimidates Me

Scott's employer gave everyone a turkey for Thanksgiving! Instead of being grateful and delighted, I'm intimidated. This will be my 18th Thanksgiving as a married woman, and only my 2nd time cooking a turkey. The first time was our first Thanksgiving. It didn't go very well.

Three things went wrong, our first thanksgiving as man and wife. I will tell the worst thing last.

First, I hadn't realized that a turkey needs several days to thaw. Here it was, Thanksgiving morning, and my turkey was still frozen. Well, I used the old trick of running hot water over it in the sink, and it thawed out in less than an hour. One problem rolls off my back.

Second, cooking a turkey dinner is a big job! I made four pies, as well, and I plan to do so again this year. Again, it will be just the two of us, so I don't have the added pressure of performing for company, but still. I started preparing meals when I was 10, but usually that means heating a frozen or canned dinner. Most of us modern women don't normally cook turkeys. I'm grateful to my sister-in-law for telling me about turkey loaf after that first Thanksgiving. That is so much easier! But, this year we were given a turkey, and money is tight, so I'm going to cook it.

Third, right after I served the first turkey I ever cooked, my husband broke bad news to me: the next morning he would be going out to sea. He was in the US Navy, so that was always a possibility, but what lousy timing. I was going to be eating all these leftovers by myself. We cried so hard then that we couldn't even eat what was on our plates. Thank you, Mom, for recommending I just freeze it all for when he got home.

So, there you have it. The turkey in my fridge intimidates me, and now you know why. I got Scott to help me choose a stuffing recipe from The Joy of Cooking. We're going to make apple and onion dressing, minus the raisins. I'm making two pumpkin pies and one apple pie. Only the turkey and stuffing will be from scratch. I bought canned pumpkin and canned apple pie filling. I make my own crust, but I press it rather than rolling it. It's pretty easy. I use instant mash potatoes. I know how to make gravy, and I am going to try, but I have cream of chicken soup on hand, just in case the gravy doesn't work out. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Go Go Boots and Oreo the Black and White Dog

I have to admit: I was going to be the star of this photo. I thought I looked so cute in this retro 1960s outfit, complete with shrimp boots that resemble the go go boots I used to wear to elementary school. But I have been upstaged by my black and white dog, Oreo!

How cute is this picture of Oreo! It characterizes him perfectly, capturing the smug look his eyes get when he thinks we aren't looking.

Like our other dog, Raffle, Oreo is a mutt we rescued from the pound. Near as we can tell, he is part Springer Spaniel and part Border Collie. His strongest trait is the hunting instinct.
I lost 1.8 pounds yesterday, and am once again within my goal weight of 145 to 149.9 pounds. I substitute taught yesterday, which means I was on my feet most of the day. Additionally, I walked Oreo half a mile in the park. Here is what I ate yesterday: Special K and organic soy milk, raw baby carrots with two tablespoons Parmesan spinach dip, 1 Trident Alaskan Salmon Burger off the bun with Robert Rothschild's Habanero sauce, mixed Chinese vegetables stir-fried in the oil from the salmon burger.

149.6 Spokane Fall Leaves, Raffle, and Oreo Picture

I love the beautiful fall leaves! This is me out in them with Raffle and Oreo, about two weeks ago. It was sunnier and warmer then. Now, I wear my snow coat whenever I go out; it's that chilly and windy out. The sky isn't blue anymore, either. It's once again cloudy every day. Believe it or not, I actually prefer the clouds. I had the sun in my eyes for 45 years down in California.

I just adore this huge maple tree that I pass under every time we go on our walk in the park. No one lives here right now, and so none of the leaves have been raked. They are two feet deep in places! This is the spot where I first realized it was too autumn here in Spokane as early as August, when the leaves started crunching under our feet.

Most of the trees here in Spokane are evergreen pines, but we do have a smattering of Maples and other picturesque deciduous trees that people have planted in their yards and in parks. Even the pines get a bit brown in early fall, though, because we don't get rain all summer. There are pine needles all over the ground, mixed in with the fallen Maple leaves. It is quite pretty on the green grass.
My weight got up as high as 152 yesterday, because of all the Halloween candy I ate on October 31 and November 1. I also awoke with a migraine Nov 2, and I blame all that sugar. I have learned my lesson: I can indulge for one day, but I get a migraine if I stretch it to two days, as well as terrible weight gain. I lost 2.4 pounds yesterday, though. I was in bed all day with a migraine, so I didn't get any exercise. Here is what I ate:

Half a packet of plain instant oatmeal, handful of raw baby carrots, four slices of wheat toast with 4 tablespoons chunky peanut butter, 1/4 can Healthy Choice chicken noodle soup

Pancakes, Flapjacks, Griddlecakes, Hotcakes, ?

Just now, I made and ate me some flapjacks. I was wearing a western shirt and Levi's, so I wanted to call them by their cowboy name. We mostly called them pancakes when I was growing up, but once in a while my dad would get in one of his yokel moods where he tried to speak with a country accent and use terms from the cattle range. The effect was slightly marred by his John Wayne impersonation.

Funny, my mom and her brothers and sisters actually raised cattle on their Minnesota farm growing up, and they say 'pancakes.' My dad's dad worked as a sound engineer in Hollywood, so I guess that explains the difference in their perceptions of how cowboys speak.

My parents had friends who called pancakes hotcakes, and I have also heard them called griddlecakes. Have you heard any other names for this bread that you fry from batter? Crepes are not quite the same thing. They were in vogue for awhile in the 1970s, so I have tried crepes. Pancakes are thicker than crepes, which are paper thin, at least the ones I had here in the States were.

Most people eat their pancakes, flapjacks, hotcakes, or griddlecakes with maple syrup. I can have syrup on waffles, but syrup on pancakes makes my throat close up. I don't know why. I have tried other flavors of syrup, and I like blueberry syrup, but I eat my pancakes, flapjacks, griddlecakes, or hotcakes with jam.

No, I don't eat empty flour-based calories often. I didn't eat flour at all when I was losing weight. Now that I have kept 90 pounds off for 9 months, I eat flour sometimes. I do think of flour as a treat, though, and not as a staple of my diet.

Chocolate is my favorite treat, but money is tight right now. We are eating from our pantry. We ran out of non-Halloween chocolate weeks ago, and we are not opening the Halloween candy we bought on clearance last year until the first trick-or-treater shows up Wednesday evening.

147.8 One Used from $998.96

Where do people get these prices? I mean, I know my book is good, but $998.96? If you want to pay that much, please pay it directly to me! I will autograph a copy for you! Does anyone have the slightest idea what makes used booksellers price books so outrageously? I could almost understand if this was a rare, out of print book. However, this is a newly released book that is very much still available new! I had to take this screen shot to commemorate this mind-bogglingly huge price.

I taught English these past three school days. I was in for one teacher both Friday and Monday, and then for a different English teacher yesterday. Friday and Monday I had sophomores and juniors, so it was pretty straightforward, but yesterday I had freshmen all day. They get younger every year! They were so funny with the little hand clapping games they play. We had ten minutes left at the end of class, so I had them play Pictionary, which was a big hit. It was so fun to hear them yelling out the names of all the Greek and Roman characters from mythology.  Hehe!

I am keeping the weight off! It is not as difficult as I anticipated. For one thing, my stomach has shrunk considerably. I get full on just one helping of whatever I am eating. Potluck lunches at church are when I notice this the most. I can get and eat one plate of food, and then I am done. I can't even eat dessert if I fill my plate with lunch. I really do have to save room in my stomach if I want to eat dessert.

I gained .4 pounds yesterday, and am still well within my goal weight of 145 to 149.9 pounds. For exercise, I taught, so I was on my feet most of the day, and then Scott and I walked the dogs half a mile in the park in the drizzling weather. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Wheat Chex and organic soy milk
Tuna salad sandwich (solid white tuna packed in spring water, Miracle Whip, Mrs Dash, red bell pepper) on wheat toast
El Monterey bean burrito with salsa
9 small homemade cinnamon sugar cookies (add a tablespoon of cinnamon to the flour mixture while making sugar cookies)

148.6 Now that I am strong again, a wire whisk is easier than getting the electric mixer out

Now that I am strong again, a wire whisk is easier than getting the electric mixer out. If you've never let yourself go and gotten fat and weak, then you likely have no idea what I mean. You are probably saying to yourself, "Of course the wire whisk is easier! It's a no-brainer!" You probably haven't ever used an electric mixer unless you were making whipped cream, mousse, or something else that needs to be whipped for longer than a few minutes. But heck, you probably never make those things anyway.

I was just making oatmeal cookies. Why am I making cookies when it's not Christmas? Well, we don't have the money to buy peanut M&Ms. Necessity is the mother of industriousness, don't you know?

Firstly, the oatmeal was stale. I had to spread it out on every cookie sheet we have and bake it for 20 minutes, to get the stale scent out of it.

Secondly, the recipe said to cream the butter and sugars with an electric mixer. Ours broke last Christmas, and we never did replace it. I saw the wire whisk in the drawer and thought, "Well, that will probably work. I arm will probably feel like it is going to fall off, though." Nope! Not only did the whisk work, it was a lot less of a hassle than getting the mixer out! The dogs were disappointed that there weren't two beaters to clean, but they'll live.
I gained .2 pounds yesterday and now weigh 148.6, well within my goal weight of 145 pounds to 149.9 pounds. I walked my usual 1.3 mile route around the park, with the dogs. I ate Special K and organic soy milk, a tuna salad sandwich, raw baby carrot sticks, and burgundy beef soup over rice. I also had a few homemade Almond Roca cheesecake bars, a few cheese and sausage snacks, and some pumpkin spice brownies at Bible study last night. :)

147.6 But I don't like pink!

As a rule, I don't like pink. Maybe this is psychological. Pink is what you dress a baby in to help others know the baby is a girl, so in my mind, "Pink is for babies." By extension, pink says to me, "Girls are weak." I remember discussing this with my sister and other girls when we were still in school. I know I am not the only one who feels this way.

Maybe it is just my coloring, though, rather than any psychological reason, that makes me dislike the color pink. Most shades of pink are pastels. Pastels compliment blonde women really well. My mom is blonde, and she looks great in pastels. Up until recently, she decorated her house in pastels, too, so that her environment complimented her coloring. I'm a brunette. I think jewel tones compliment my coloring, and pastels clash with my coloring.

But look! Here I am in a pink sweater! I think it looks good on me. What makes this the exception? This is a jewel-toned pink (rare ruby), rather than a pastel. It is actually a deeper toned pink to the naked eye. The camera washed it out a little. 

As with speech, tone is important in color. You can put a bunch of different colors together, such as pink and black, so long as they share a tone. When you speak, often your tone conveys more of your meaning than your words do.
I lost 2.4 pounds yesterday, so it must have been water retention weight from the chili dip I ate on Friday and Thursday. I walked my usual 1.3 mile route. Here is what I ate:

Special K and organic soy milk, tuna sandwich (white tuna canned in spring water, Miracle Whip, Mrs Dash, 2 slices of whole wheat bread), raw baby carrots, Nature Valley Sweet n Salty Nut Bar, Foster Farms Breaded Chicken Breast Patty, 1 tablespoon ketchup, steamed broccoli

149.6 Faerie Cookery

Those of you who know me know I love Ireland and everything Irish, including the fae folk, or faeries. Imagine my delight when my call for healthy recipes yielded a treatise on faerie cookery! I hope this guest post by author John Woodward delights you as much as it delights me!
Any Irish man or woman will tell you that there were Faeries in Ireland once, but long ago, they left. The year 1848 is often cited, as it represented the depths of the Potato Famine. The Faeries -- most of them -- actually sailed away in 1850, crossing the Atlantic in a pair of clipper ships, under the protection of two Scottish brothers and sea captains. An enterprising Part-Faerie man named Solomon Murphy had found unsettled lands for them in the quarry hills above Atlanta. They remain there to this day, living under a great Concealment. The Human world believes their home to be a private nature preserve. Their greatest challenge is to raise enough food for themselves without changing the appearance of their woodland home. Aside from a tiny farm patch on the edge, the Georgia Faerie Circle Lands must appear to be uninhabited old growth forest. Furthermore, it is not the Faerie way to harm or drive off the animals that share the Lands, so they must be provided for, too.

Faeries are only three to four-and-a-half feet tall, but they have wings and fly, so a typical Faerie consumes more calories than a Human should. They eat no meat, nor do they use the skins of animals for clothing. (The Faeries never kill, for to do so would break their Covenant with God and abolish their Powers.) When they arrived in Georgia, they knew very little about the native foods. Luckily, their new Lands were not completely uninhabited. There were Cherokee Indians who had hidden from the mass removal known as the Trail of Tears, a a few escaped slaves. They taught the Faeries which foods may be gathered in Georgia.

For over 160 years, the Faeries have practiced their unique agriculture, which supports them as long as they are diligent and careful. Every tree that falls is replaced with a sapling fruit or nut tree. They grow squash and gourds in the sunny clearings, and plant berry bushes on the hillsides. On the hilltops, they graze sheep and goats, for their milk and hair. They clear away other vines, so that the grapes have room to grow. Last, but not least, even the ferns are edible. (It helps that their Power with Animals enables them to tell the goats and deer exactly where to eat. They do most of the weeding.)

The Faeries rarely build fires in the daytime, to avoid Humans seeing smoke over their Lands. Fortunately, they are nocturnal by nature, so they do most of their cooking by night. The caves that dot their Lands are close to the surface, and have little hidden chimneys built in. When they have to build large fires on the surface, they stretch a woolen canvas between the trees to hide the flames. They preserve much of their food for Winter by smoking or drying it.

Here is a typical Faerie Autumn meal, adapted to our cooking methods:

Faerie Squash

One small butternut squash, cleaned and cut into ½-inch cubes
     (reserve the seeds)
One acorn squash, cleaned and cut into ½-inch cubes
     (reserve the seeds)
Peanut cooking oil
½ cup dried apple
½ cup dried peach
½ cup raisons
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
Chopped pecans
Chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a glass or ceramic bowl, combine the squash with a very small amount of oil. (The Faeries have to make oil by pressing nuts, so they hardly have any at all, and are very frugal with what they do have.) Bake covered for thirty minutes. Uncover and add the apple, peach and raisons. Sprinkle with the ginger and cinnamon.  Bake until the squash is tender.

In the meantime, gently brown the pecans, walnuts and squash seeds in a flat pan on top of your stove. When the squash comes out of the oven, garnish it with the nuts and seeds. Drizzle on a small amount of honey.

Notes: The Faeries cut up their food with brass knives, because iron is poisonous to them. The Faeries gather the bark of the wild cinnamon plant and carefully preserve it, because wild cinnamon needs a long hot summer to grow in North Georgia, and is not always available. You can use regular store-bought cinnamon. The Faeries have a few beehives, but they are as careful with their honey supply as they are with oil.
You can dry apples and peaches in a 200 degree oven on a baking sheet.

You can learn more about the lives of the Faeries in Georgia by reading TERRA LUNA (The Return of Fiorgaels), our epic urban contemporary fantasy & paranormal romance.
This is Cherise again. How delighted are you at the idea of faerie cookery! 

You can sample Terra Luna for free by clicking that link and then clicking on the book cover to "look inside" the book. Update Dec 14, 2012: I have now read Terra Luna. It's a really fun story, and I do recommend it.

I have lost .8 pounds since my last post on Saturday. Sorry for not posting more often, but I was busy substitute teaching yesterday. I am also really busy writing Dog Aliens 1 Raffle's Name so that I can get it published soon. I have decided to only post to this blog when I have something to say. I do still keep track of my daily weight and food intake. I know I will have to do this the rest of my life. It is the price of keeping the weight off.

150.2 PA Woodburn Lost 50 Pounds at Age 69

Today I have a guest post for you from my friend PA Woodburn. She is 69 years old, and wanted to share with you how she lost 50 pounds this year!
When I was in my forties, my work sponsored a weight management class. Many State workers volunteered, myself included. The encouragement and competition were excellent. I shed 87 pounds, dropping from a size 18 to a size 4. Plus, I became super fit. The medics returned a year later to test how much fitness we had retained. I kept my good shape and weight for at least five years. I remember going into a store and asking the salesperson in a whisper,”Excuse me for sounding stupid, but what size is smaller than small?”

At 68, I’d retired and put it all back and then some. I felt old. When I went to my care-giving job for a mere four hours I’d come home with an aching back, painful right hip, and heels on fire. I knew this was my last chance. I had to take action, or I would sink into a crippling old age very fast. It would be a lot harder than the last time because of body aches and a much slower metabolic rate. I simply dreaded having to exercise for hours every week to lose a few pounds. I was 240 pounds, and a surgeon told me that if I lost 20 pounds I could delay hip-replacement surgery. My sleep apnea doctor told me if I lost 50 pounds I could probably discard my CPAP machine, which I really hated. Still, I was very resistant to dieting. I knew the effort I’d put in before and simply didn’t wish to repeat it. I’d recently published a novel and was more interested in promoting it than exercising for 2 to 4 hours a day. My success the first time resulted from an obsession with dieting. Been there, done that.

We have a Saint Bernard, Zeno, who can’t be left at home alone because of very severe separation anxiety. He broke a tooth biting through a door knob and then another. After $6,000 of doggy dental bills, I quit care-giving.

One day, I saw President Clinton being interviewed by Dr Gupta on CNN. He looked very slim and healthy. President Clinton explained that he’d gone on a plant-based diet and felt that it had saved his life. They mentioned a book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure by Caldwell B Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. I purchased the book that afternoon feeling like a dork, because I never emulate celebrities of any kind. But, Clinton sure looked good. It was a no-oil vegan diet. Deciding to try it no matter what, I bought a good supply of the recommended food. I wouldn’t exercise until I’d lost some weight, and I wouldn’t restrict calories. I had been a vegetarian for over twenty years, but as vegan a would have to sacrifice milk, eggs, and cheese. Could I survive without ice cream? Packing up my brand new ice cream maker, I ordered The New McDougall Cookbook: 300 Delicious Ultra-Low-Fat Recipes by John A McDougall M.D., and Mary McDougall online.

Our Saint Bernard has very bad front elbows. We decided to do arthroscopic surgery followed by stem cell injections. I mention this because Zeno had to be kept still for six weeks. The veterinarian wanted him kept in a crate. I didn’t want more broken teeth. We piled up all the furniture and fenced him in. I couldn’t move much either because he would get up if I did. We wanted this very expensive and painful procedure to work. I started the diet when he had the surgery. In spite of my lack of motion, I steadily lost weight. Not huge amounts, like they do on TV in “The Biggest Loser,” but every week I’d lost some. Best of all I didn’t have any of the cravings and deprived feelings I usually get when dieting. I’d eat huge amounts of vegetables, fruit and only recommended carbohydrates with some beans and soy for protein. I had a few problems with my Warfarin because people on blood thinner are advised not to eat many vegetables. My blood had to be checked more frequently.

It’s a year later. I haven’t broken the diet once. I’ve lost fifty pounds, and I’m now a size 14 going on size 12. No back, heel, or hip problems for months. I’ve discarded my CPAP machine. My blood pressure has dropped from 112/70 to 92/56. My body mass index has dropped by 8.58. I have a waist. I haven’t exercised consistently, partly due to laziness and partly due to Zeno’s restrictions. He’ll never be able to go for long walks like a normal dog. I need to lose another 50 pounds. There’s still some flab. I’ll stay on this diet forever. I kept all my size 4 clothes, so if I get that thin again I won’t lack a wardrobe. Maybe I won’t hit 4, because I’ll be 70 on my next birthday, but I may have added some good years to my life.

The best thing about this diet is the lack of cravings or hunger. Frozen bananas blended with frozen veggies and fruit are a lot like ice cream. The worst thing is eating out. I usually eat a meal before I head off anywhere I’m going to be confronted with food.

Now that I can squeeze into a swimsuit, we’ve decided to move to Southern California as soon as we can sell our house in Washington state. I can’t wait to hit those California beaches. Don’t know if I’ll be bikini material, but we’ll see.

I’m now working on my second novel. I’m hoping it will be published before Christmas.

My first book, Cries in the Dark, is an animal-rights mystery thriller: Alex Buchanan finds that she can telepathically communicate with animals. On her first day in an American Sign Language lab for chimpanzees, her friend is killed. Several other people, including Alex’s boyfriend, are murdered or just disappear. Some lab chimps are sold to a vivisection research facility. Certain that she is being stalked by a serial killer, Alex has to find a way to help the remaining chimps. She must track down and confront the killer before becoming the next victim.
This is Cherise again. Isn't PA Woodburn's story inspirational!

I gained .8 pounds yesterday and am .3 pounds over my goal weight range of 145 to 149.9 pounds. I walked five laps around the park, so almost 2 miles. I ate and ate and ate, though. We finally gave in and turned the heater on last night. I think that will help stem my cravings from here on out. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Special K and organic soy milk
Nature Valley Sweet n Salty Nut Bar
El Monterey bean and cheese burrito with salsa
2 snack packages of Halloween shortbread cookies
8 pieces of Halloween salt-water taffy
Corn Dog with mustard
Ritz crackers n cheese snack package
Chili Dip
Snack package of Halloween shortbread cookies
Nature Valley Sweet n Salty Nut Bar

149.4 Crying Fence Photos and Video

I took these photos and this video of our crying fence yesterday. The fence started crying all on its own! This is 100% "discovered art." I only happened to notice that our fence was crying as we drove by it yesterday on our way to Costco.

"Whoa! Look! Our fence is crying!" I told Scott.
"Heh, yeah, it is."
"Just a sec. I want to take  a picture."
"I want to take a video, too, so look out, I'm recording!"

I only used Photoshop to crop the photos and to place the three photos at left on one image together. My best guess on the origin of the crying effect is that moisture got on a lubricant that the fence-builder put on the screws last summer when he built the fence. I further guess that the lubricant had become blackened by dirt over the past year, so that when it dripped out it left a black trail.

I don't know how long the fence has looked this way. Probably, it has since at least the last time it rained, I imagine, but these guys only just caught my attention yesterday. Maybe for Halloween we'll dress them up and put lights on them. :) We plan on staying home to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters this year.


I lost .8 pounds yesterday, and it must have all been water weight from the Qdoba food I ate the day before, because I hardly took it easy on the food yesterday. I did walk twice, for a total of 7 laps around the park. There and back and three laps is 1.3 miles, so I walked one lap more than 2.6 miles. Plus, we shopped at Costco yesterday. Here is what I ate:

Special K and organic soy milk
From 2011 clearance sale, taken out of freezer:
   4 Snack packs of Halloween shortbread cookies
   2 packs of 10 Whoppers malted milk ball candies
El Monterey bean and cheese burrito with salsa
Costco samples:
    2 taquito halves with jalepeno Greek yogurt (YUM!)
    1/8 Salmon patty with teriyaki sauce (I like habanero sauce better.)
Corn dog with mustard

150.2 Spokane Fall Wild Flowers

These are some wild flowers that sprouted up in our front yard here in Spokane this fall. I love how they are white from the top and purple from the bottom! You can't tell from this picture, but they are small, about the size of a man's thumbnail. They grow in clumps the size of my head. I love how dozens of these little fall flowers sprout up out of one root. I have no idea what their official or even unofficial name is.

I have mentioned before that I have a black thumb and should not be left in charge of any garden. A writer at heart, with my mind planning and imagining and plotting, I am just too absent-minded to remember to water plants. Animals I can deal with, because they tell me when they are hungry or thirsty or in need of a trip outside.

Wild flowers are Godsends for me. I don't have to worry about them at all. They just show up in my yard and dazzle me. We had quite a selection of different wild flowers last season, too, but I expected them then. Fall wild flowers were pretty surprise blessings.

Our neighbor across the street mows just the center of his lawn, leaving the edges free for the wild flowers to crop up. I hope we remember to do the same next year during the growing season.

That brown in the background shows you how naturally dry it is here in Spokane in fall. We water our lawn, but this clump of fall wild flowers is on the drier outskirts of our yard.


I gained .4 pounds yesterday and am now outside my goal weight range of 145 to 149.9 pounds. I will get lots of exercise and take it easy on the calories and sodium today in the hopes of sinking back down below 150 pounds. If I haven't done that by tomorrow, then tomorrow will be a diet day on the Scarsdale Medical Diet.

For exercise yesterday, I walked my usual 1.3 mile route with my dog Oreo. I also substitute taught, which means I was on my feet most of the day, especially since I had freshmen for the first three classes. Here is what I ate:

Special K and organic soy milk
Vending machine package of peanut butter cookies
Half a can of Amy's organic lentil soup and raw baby carrots
Handful of bite-sized chocolate candies
El Monterey bean and cheese burrito with salsa
Snack package of shortbread cookies
Snack package of Whoppers candies

149.8 Spokane Last Warm Day Oct 2, 2012

Yesterday, October 2, was officially the last warm day of 2012 here in Spokane, according to the news on the radio this morning as I drove to my substitute teaching assignment. It was a gorgeous day! I got some photos of Scott hosing off the bags we bought at the surplus sale last week. It was 80 F out, sunny, and cloudless. We did have some smoke in the air from a fire, but it wasn't bad.

The wind came up last night and lowered the temperature 30 degrees below the projected low of 63. It didn't freeze, but came pretty close! It was 38 degrees this morning when I left the house!

Quite a difference in one day. As you can see in the picture, Spokane can look just like Southern California in weather in October. It has about the same lack of humidity, too, when it is not raining, hailing, or snowing. Usually it doesn't do that in Summer, but it did hail last July 4...


I gained 1.2 pounds yesterday. I walked my 1.3 miles, for exercise. Here is what I ate:

Special K and organic soy milk
2 slices of wheat toast with 2 tablespoons peanut butter
El Monterey beef burrito with salsa
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Qdoba steak taco salad, light on the ranch dressing, no cheese, no sour cream
Slice of ham lunch meat and slice of American cheese

148.6 Spokane is dry in fall

It's dry here in Spokane in fall, much like in Southern California, where I'm from. We even have smog right now here in Spokane, from a big brush fire way out in Wenatchee. In an odd way, this comforts me and makes me feel at home. So Cal does have seasons; they are just not the seasons most people are used to: flood, fire, and fog. Fire season is just wrapping up, back home.

Those of you who live in wet climates look at the world in an entirely different way from those of us who live with fire seasons. This shocked me on two distinct occasions.

We moved to Forks, WA in September of 1996 so that I could teach math at Forks Middle School. I lasted at that two months and ended up finishing out the year as a floating substitute teacher at Forks High School. I really don't know how to deal with kids under 14 years old...

Anyway, back to the fire theme. It is really wet in Forks all the time, so people just do not fear fire, at all. One night when we were out driving around, we saw sparks leaping way up in the air. We drove over there to find a huge tower full of wood that was on fire. Alarmed, we got out of the car and ran over to help. We found a bunch of guys standing around, joking, smoking, and completely unconcerned.

We explained that we were from the deserts of California, where such a fire would bring the entire fire station over. These local guys explained this was business as usual for them, and that there was no danger at all that this fire would catch or spread. We were all pumped full of adrenaline from seeing it, and couldn't sleep for quite a while.

The other place I was shocked by unconcern over fire was Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was in a car with someone who flicked a lit cigarette butt out the window into a grassy hillside. I gasped out that I had driven by too many hillside fires from people doing that. The person laughed and explained that never happens in Minnesota. Again, I was full of adrenaline for an hour after that, pumped up either to fight the fire or run away from it, I'm not sure which.
I lost 1.3 pounds yesterday. Oreo and I walked up into the hills, as you see in this picture I took up there yesterday with the camera's timer. Soon, that path will be covered in ice and snow. I didn't wear my pedometer, but I think we walked about 1.5 miles, 1/4 of that up a steep hill and 1/4 of it back down. Here is what I ate yesterday:
Special K and organic soy milk
1/4 cup peanut M&Ms
El Monterey beef and bean burrito with salsa
3 eggs scrambled with sauteed onion and red bell pepper, with cold salsa on top
Half a serving of Backpacker's Pantry freeze dried stew with chicken that Scott was trying to see if we want to bring it on our next backpacking trip (I thought it was good. He thought it was OK.)
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I ran out of peanut M&Ms.)

149.9 Lowering Your Sodium

Lowering your sodium is as easy as watching the nutrition facts labels on the foods you eat, and following four easy steps. First, see how many servings are in the container. Second, check how much sodium it has per serving. Third, figure out how much sodium you have already had today. Forth, determine how much of this food you can afford to eat today.

I go into why sodium is so bad for you lower down on this page. Urgently, I want you to see how the nutrition facts label on the can of soup pictured here is dangerously high in sodium, but misleading.

First, there are two servings in the container, which is a can of soup.

Who eats just half a can of soup? I do, now that I realize just how much sodium is in canned soup. I fill myself up with steamed vegetables under the soup, to make up for only eating half the can of soup. I pour the other half in a plastic container and put it in the refrigerator to eat later.

Second, just half a can of this soup has 890 mg of sodium! 

That is a crazily high amount of sodium for just one serving of food. The label says it is only 37% of the recommended daily allowance -- however, if you look at the bottom of the label, this 37% is based on a daily intake of 2,000 calories. I gain fat if I take in 2,000 calories in a day. I maintain my weight at about 1,500 calories per day. This varies by how tall you are and how much exercise you usually get per day.

So, if 890 mg of sodium is 37% of the RDA for a 2,000 calorie daily diet, what % is 890 mg of sodium of my optimum daily diet? I think the easiest way to answer this question is to experiment. For a year now, I have been recording my weight each morning along with my food intake and the amount of exercise I got the day before. That is how I figured out I only need 1,500 calories per day. That is also how I figured out I only need 1,000 mg of sodium per day.

I gain water weight if I eat more than 1,000 mg (a gram) of sodium in a day. I know it is water weight because it comes right off if I lower my sodium the next day to below 1,000 mg, even if I still eat 1,500 calories. More on this lower down the page.

Third, this is only one meal.

What have you already had to eat today that was full of sodium? Bacon? Packaged cereal? Lunch meat? Food that has been pre-cooked and packaged is notorious for being high in sodium. That is most of the hype against "processed food." Hamburger Helper, canned soups, and all those other "easy to prepare" items that you find in the center aisles of grocery stores are loaded with sodium. This label is telling you that for just one cup of soup, barely enough for even one meal, you are getting almost the entire amount of sodium that I can eat in a day without bloating up with water weight.

Forth, this soup tastes good, but I can only have 1/4 of a can a day.

For me, I have to limit my intake of this particular soup to 1/4 of a can per day. That gives me 1/2 of its serving of sodium, and 1/2 x 890 = 445 mg of sodium. 445 mg of sodium is still an awful lot, though. For me, it is close to half the sodium I can eat in a day without gaining weight from retaining water.

Eating too much sodium makes the human body need more water.

This is why lowering your sodium is important. Retaining water makes us weigh more. When we weigh more, our hearts have to work harder to pump our blood. This shows up as increased blood pressure. Here is a post where I go more into how eating too much sodium makes your body need more water. It has to do with a mechanism that biologists call "the sodium potassium pump." There is a video of this on that linked post.

By far, the easiest way to lower your sodium is to cook from scratch.

Raw, unprocessed foods have very little sodium in them. Just buy ingredients and cook them yourself, and you will lower your sodium drastically. If you have been living on processed foods (canned foods, boxes of noodles and dried sauce mix, frozen meals, restaurant food) for a year or more, then you can probably lose 20 or more pounds of water weight in two weeks just by cooking from scratch and not eating any added salt.

Sodium is the new sugar.

If sodium is so bad for us, then why do processed food companies put it in our food? Well, as you can see on the nutrition facts label in the photo on this page, they have cut down on calories, fat, and sugar additives in our food. In the 1970s, sugar was the culprit, as documented in William Dufty's landmark book, Sugar Blues. In the 1990s, fat became the offender. So now, sodium is the only thing processed foods can have in it to make it "taste good."


I gained 1.7 pounds yesterday, and I am just barely within my goal weight of 145 pounds to 149.9 pounds. I walked my usual 1.3 mile route. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Special K and organic soy milk
1/4 cup peanut M&Ms
Frosted cinnamon roll and half an apple fritter at church fellowship hour
El Monterey beef burrito and salsa
1/4 cup peanut M&Ms
El Monterey bean and cheese burrito and salsa
1/4 cup peanut M&Ms
Special K and organic soy milk right before bed (bad idea!)

148.2 Spokane Christian Songwriter Doug McCleary

We are blessed at Valley View Baptist Church of Spokane in that Christian guitarist, singer, and songwriter Doug McCleary has joined us. Doug played and sang two of his original songs at service this morning and last Sunday morning. He says he has written about a dozen original Christian songs. Here is the video I took of him playing today at Valley View Baptist Church of Spokane, WA.

I spoke with Doug briefly after the service, and here is what I found out:

He won't take any money for playing guitar or singing his songs, but he wants the chance to play and sing as often as people will offer it. He will come sing at any Christian function people invite him to: Bible studies, Sunday worship services, weddings, funerals, you name it. He can cover other artists songs, too, but he will only play or sing songs that glorify God. He can be reached at 509-536-0627. He lives in Spokane, and will play in this area and just over the border in Idaho.

Mostly self-taught, Doug cannot read music. He plays by ear, so a few weeks ahead of when you want him to play, make him a tape of the songs you would like him to play.

Doug had a few ukulele lessons when he was 7 and his family was stationed on Oahu, Hawaii. His dad came home with a guitar, and made Doug and his sisters listen as their dad tried to play the thing. Being a kid, Doug told his dad the truth when asked how it sounded, "Well, I think you need to practice a little more, Dad." Heartbroken, his dad handed over the guitar to Doug, who has been playing it ever since. He is 56 now.

I lost 3.4 pounds yesterday, so it must have been mostly water weight from eating too much salt. There is no way I could have lost 3.4 pounds of fat in one day, I don't think. I did need to lose at least 1.7 pounds because at 151.6 I was over my goal weight of 145 to 149.9. I walked my 1.3 miles. Here is what I ate:

Special K and organic soy milk
Hamburger patty with 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce and steamed broccoli
Salmon patty with Robert Rothschild Farm Roasted Pineapple Habanero Sauce and raw baby carrots

151.6 Washing Well Wisdom

My favorite improv ever at California's  Renaissance Pleasure Faire was when I borrowed Wrong Way's black scholar hat and raised my chin at the puritans.

"Look who's educated now!" they said.

"Where is the university who would admit you? In deepest Africa?"

"Is it in Bulgaria?"


"Yes! Yes! Yes!" I said, to all their meant-to-be-insulting guesses. "Yes, it is in deepest Africa. Yes, it is in Bulgaria. Yes, it is in China."

"What university could be in all those places?" they sneered at me (the puritans were the villains at Faire).

"It is the university of the washing well! It is in every country and every town throughout the world, and it is educating women!" I told them proudly.

The puritan men proceeded to quiz against my worldly knowledge (of which my 16th century peasant character had little), but the puritan women actors had all been washerwomen before they auditioned to be puritans.

"Those aren't questions; those are quizes," they said in my defense. "A real question would be 'What gets blood stains out of your Sunday best dress?'" (Cold water.)

I loved this improv for two reasons:

1) We emphasized women's "washing well wisdom." Up until 200 years ago or so, women simply were not sent to formal places of education. We were not stupid, we simply were uneducated. It always bothered me when I was young and adults implied I was dimwitted because I didn't remember when Eisenhower was President. As a teacher, I try to always remember the difference between knowledge and intelligence. My students might be ignorant of facts, but they are not stupid.

2)  Gerald Zepeda prepared the puritans and Julie St Germaine prepared the washerwomen excellently for encounters such as this. No one said, "No." Instead, we all said, "Yes, and..." That is the number one rule of improvisational acting, and it is so much fun when everyone follows it! Thank you, Gerald and Julie, for some of the best years of my life.
I blew my diet big time yesterday and gained 2 pounds. I substitute taught English and was on my feet all day. I also walked Oreo 1.3 miles after I got home. Here is what I ate:

Special K and organic soy milk
Iced coffee with more organic soy milk
2 helpings of instant oatmeal
Chili Dip
1/2 cup peanut M&Ms
1 slice of Costco combo pizza
Scoop of mint chip ice cream

149.6 Love Halloween Costumes as Much as I Do?

Does anyone love Halloween as much as I do? It isn't the scary part I love, it's the costumes! This photo is just one of many I have made to show off all the costume ideas I have written up over the years. Some movies and TV shows just beg you to turn their characters into costumes. Some like the Priest movie of 2011 make really easy costumes. Others, like V, give you simple and subtle costume ideas that are actually challenging to bring to life.

My favorite Halloween costume ever was when I used hair paint to paint my face blue and worked a whole shift as a cashier at Sears dressed as a celt in woad. My next favorite was the year we made nylon jeans with fake plastic seams and polyester T shirts with velcro vents and went as under cover space aliens. We didn't even know about the TV show V when we did this, but if you have watched this show, then you have a good idea of the concept.

I have made a costumes Pinterest board where not only do I pin up my costume ideas, but now my friends are pinning up their costume ideas, too! These are costume ideas for all ages, from babies to grannies. Some of these require sewing, but many you can throw together from things you have around the house. One of my favorites of other people's ideas posted on my costumes Pinterest board is a candy corn costume for a baby. It is so cute!


I lost .8 pounds yesterday. It was probably water weight from the salty pizza I ate Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn't really take it that easy yesterday. I walked my 1.3 miles, and I substitute taught, which means I was on my feet most of the day yesterday and half the day Tuesday. I will be today, too. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Special K and organic soy milk
2 servings of brown sugar cinnamon instant Oatmeal
Ritz cheese and crackers snack
Chili Dip
1/4 cup peanut M&Ms

150.4 Substitute Teaching English Today and Tomorrow

I substituted in social studies half day yesterday, and I am substitute teaching today and tomorrow for the same teacher, in English. Yesterday's kids took a quiz. I don't know yet what today's lesson plan looks like. I will find out when I get to the school at 7:15.

As much as I love staying home and writing or editing, I do get bored and lonely doing that all the time. It is really nice to get out once in awhile and interact with people for a change. One of the reasons I prefer substitute teaching is I can pick and choose which days I stay home and which days I go out.

This is what I am wearing today. Yep, it is already really fall here in Spokane, with the long sleeves.

I gained .6 pounds yesterday, and it is time to cut back and get within my goal weight of 145 to 149.9 pounds. I walked my 1.3 miles yesterday. Here is what I ate:

Special K and organic soy milk
2 slices of Costco combo pizza
1/4 cup peanut M&Ms
Steamed broccoli and 1/2 can Amy's organic lentil soup
1/4 cup peanut M&Ms twice


Guide to Thousands of Unlisted Job Openings in the US!

Do you know anyone who is over 40 and has a college degree, but no job? I wrote this book for them. Tell them about it, or better yet, buy them a copy. Turnover is high in these jobs, so there are almost always openings. With this guide, a substitute can do the job so well they actually like it. I do.

I hope you will at least "look inside" the high school substitute teacher's guide I wrote. The free book sample you get by "looking inside" tells you not only how to get a job as a substitute teacher, but also my qualifications to write the book: my education and detailed substitute teaching work history (since 1989).

This book is available in paperback, in Kindle format at Amazon, in Nook format at Barnes and Noble, and in any other format you could possibly need through Smashwords.

149.8 Surplus Sale

Scott and I got a 19-inch flat-screen monitor yesterday for $40 at the surplus sale our local community college holds every 3 months. He found out about the sale through his work as a security guard. We got there at 6:30 in the morning to get in line. We were numbers 15 and 16 out of 100, so we got a pretty good pick of the things. Number 1 said he had been there since 3. The sale started at 9.

Apparently, most state-run entities sell off the stuff they don't want, at really cheap prices. It reminded me of years ago when we paid my former employer $1 for the metal desk I am still using.

We also bought ten duffel bags in various sizes, for $1 each, and 25 brand-new cassette tapes for $ .75. They had large folding tables for $10, office chairs for $3, book cases for $20, large cabinet cupboards for $25... If we had extra cash right now I would seriously consider buying them out next time and then selling it all for twice as much at a garage sale (which is probably illegal, so not really).

They had a bunch of computers for sale, too, but without hard drives. They had pulled the hard drives to protect state financial info or something, so you would have to buy a hard drive and an operating system and all the software, in addition to paying $40 - $150 for the computers they were selling. They sold every last Apple computer they had for sale, even so. They only sold half of their other computers. Hardly any laptops sold.

I forgot to weigh in yesterday. I am up .6 pounds since Monday morning. Monday we washed the car by hand. I hadn't done that in at least 10 years. Yesterday I shopped at Costco, in addition to shopping this surplus sale. I walked my usual 1.3 miles with the dog both days. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Special K and organic soy milk
Hot chocolate while waiting in the line before dawn
Ritz cheese and crackers snack
El Monterey beef burrito and salsa
3 slices of Costco combo pizza
1/4 cup peanut M&Ms

148.8 Derek Prior Trainer and Author

My friend Derek Prior is a personal trainer who is also the author of Foundations for a Better Physique: The Six Key Exercises & Nutrition for a Balanced Physique, Nutritional Journal: Fitness Instruction for Strength & Health's Guide to Diet Success, The SHADER series and the Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf. He says he is getting too old to be really ripped anymore, but I think he is being too modest! Here is his advice on binge eating, re-posted with permission from his Thursday 8 February 2007 post on his blog: DEREK PRIOR Personal Training:
 Some of my clients train extremely effectively, working hard and diligently. They follow personalized nutritional plans and train consistently. However, every now and again they go "off the rails". Often this is the result of binge eating and the resulting negative spiral.

Generally, a binge once in a while has little or no effect on training goals. It may even help occasionally. The problem is the related negative cognitive spiral that often accompanies binging and the duration of the binge cycle.

Ideally, if a client binges, even if the binge is prolonged, my advice is to forget about it, continue to train, and return to the usual nutritional plan, which generally involves eating six to seven meals a day at roughly three hourly intervals. Under no circumstances should they skip meals or try to juggle calories to balance out a binge episode.

The problem with the negative cognition is that it is usually a response to certain eating rules: some foods are identified as bad, and if I eat those foods I may consider myself "fat", "lazy", "useless", "a failure". What follows next is a "what the hell" attitude and further bouts of binging.

In a desperate bid to take control the individual will often resort to a strict diet and will set themselves dietary rules which are virtually impossible to maintain. Once the rules are broken (and they will be) the negative cognition kicks in and the binging starts again. Another factor here is the hunger caused by the semi-starvation diet which physiologically primes us for the next binge.

There are some self help approaches that may be of benefit for those who do not have a Cognitive Behavior Therapist (preferably one trained in the CBT-Enhanced method for eating disorders).

The first principal is to increase meta-cognitive awareness, which basically means "thinking about thinking". Over time, through discussion with others, reflection, or better, recording what is eaten, when, and what the accompanying mood and thoughts are, we can start to recognize the characteristic automatic negative thoughts.

A useful analogy is that of the DVD player. In various situations we relate to others and our environment on a virtually automatic basis. For each of this situations (and our relationship with food is one of them) it is as if we have inserted a particular DVD. The thoughts are not ourselves - many of us identify with our thoughts and feelings, both of which have a large degree of autonomy. Once we recognize that the "eating disorder" DVD is running we can take steps to eject it (for example: challenging negative thoughts and offering more realistic alternatives; diversion - exercise, socializing, cinema etc- or working on some of the structures that hold this negative thinking pattern in place - low mood, anxiety, low self-esteem, boredom etc.

This kind of work is ongoing and reaps benefits in accordance with the commitment put into the self-help techniques.

Statistically, however, the most effective approach for reducing binge eating is to regulate eating, to eat small meals at roughly three hourly intervals and to avoid skipping meals. Once this approach is combined with your training goals (i.e. high protein, low GI, adequate nutrition) you have a highly effective defense against binging, and if you do binge you have an immediate strategy: just get on with the eating plan you were following with no self-recrimination.

There is no need to commence "driven" exercise regimens or to increase the frequency and duration of your workouts. Just keep on as normal, train hard and effectively, eat at regular intervals, and don't worry about slipping up: just think of the extra stored glycogen you can draw upon for your next training session!
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I gained .2 pounds yesterday, but at 148.8 pounds, I am still well within my goal weight of 145 pounds to 149.9 pounds. For exercise, I walked my dog the usual route of 1.3 miles through the park and did my usual 30 minutes of housework. Here is what I ate:

Special K and organic soy milk
El Monterey beef and bean burrito with salsa
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
2 slices of wheat bread and 2 slices of Kirkland Signature extra lean ham lunch meat
8 ounce Banquet Sweet and Sour Chicken and rice frozen dinner
1 scoop of mint chip ice cream
2 Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut bars

148.6 Lost .4 Pounds Yesterday

I lost .4 pounds yesterday, but I think it was all blood. Sorry to be so gross, but that is the reality of my heavy periods these days. I even humored a craving I had for a ham sandwich before bed, with bread and everything (but no mayo). I was sure that would put me over 150, but nope, 148.6 on the scale this morning, down .4 from 149.0 yesterday. Still, guys, you probably don't wish you bled every month.

Yes, Mom, I am drinking lots of water. I've had a gallon so far today, and it is only 3:30 in the afternoon.

I went on my walk yesterday as usual, and yes, walking does still help my period cramps. I used to pray for my periods to end, but I just found out by asking around that the hot flashes continue even after we finish menopause and no longer menstruate. How is that fair? At least the cramps stop, I guess.

Here is what I ate and lost .4 pounds:

Special K and organic soy milk
Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut Bar
2 El Monterey beef and bean burritos with fresh Roma tomato slices
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Full can of Amy's organic low fat minestrone soup
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Ham sandwich (2 slices of wheat bread and 2 thin slices of ham lunch meat)

149.0 Mmmmm! Home Grown Roma Tomatoes!

Scott's coworker gave him a bag-full of home grown Roma tomatoes the other day. Yum! Roma tomatoes are my favorite type, and home grown are usually fresher than store-bought, so they taste better. These taste great! I put them on top of my chili dip yesterday, and served them as a side dish sliced, next to Scott's Qdoba burrito.

Alas, I have a black thumb, or I would grow my own food. Seriously, I cannot grow anything. We were going to have a garden here and grow vegetables, but Scott was going to do it all. I cannot be relied upon to water plants. I never notice they are dying until it is too late. I can only care for things that remind me they need food and water. I am too wrapped up inside my head to care for plants.

I had a perfect "no gain, no loss" day yesterday, and exactly maintained my weight at 149.0. I walked my mile, actually 1.3 miles, and did my usual 30 minutes of housework. Here is what I ate:

Corn dog and mustard for breakfast (Yeah, that is weird, huh?)
Chili Dip with fresh sliced home grown Roma tomatoes on top
2 Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut Bars
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Qdoba steak taco salad in the crispy tortilla shell, but with just a dash of the salty Ranch dressing, not the five or six dashes they usually put on it
2 more  Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut Bars

149.0 Amazon Monopoly Because Search Works at Amazon

I have had it up to here with all the news stories lately about how Sony, Kobo, Apple, and Barnes and Noble plan to compete with Amazon by slashing prices. Really? You fools just lost a lawsuit over your attempts to make Amazon quit slashing prices, and now you want to get in on that action? And you think it will get you some of Amazon's market share? You can't see the forrest for the trees!

Amazon gets my business because I can find the books I want to buy on Amazon, not because of its tactics in price wars.

Yes, I can find what I am looking for at Amazon! When I enter search terms at Amazon, I find books about those search terms. That does not reliably happen at any other current online book retailer, and that is what is giving Amazon all the market share. I know people who buy their content from Barnes and Noble or the iBookstore because they have Nooks or iPads. Guess what? They go to Amazon first to search for the topics that interest them and note the titles they want to purchase.

When a friend recommends a book to me, I know I can go to Amazon and find that book in less than 5 seconds flat. But wait, there's more. Not only will I find that book, Amazon will recommend other books their customers bought when they bought that book. This is marketing magic, folks.

By contrast, how long does it take me to even find what I am looking for at Sony, Kobo, Apple, and Barnes and Noble's online bookstores? Sometimes, forever. In some cases where I know a book is on sale at their site because I know the author, I cannot even find the book there if I search for it by title and author name. Fail. Epic fail.

No one wants Amazon to be a monopoly. 

That hurts me as a customer just as much as it hurts you as a competitor. It hurts me as an author, too. I do not want Amazon controlling all my sales. I want to sell in multiple online bookstores, not exclusively through Amazon. However, messing around with prices is not going to do diddly until you make it so people can find the books they want to buy!

Please, I am begging in case you can't tell: Sony! Kobo! Apple! Barnes and Noble! Fix the search and book discovering functions in your online bookstores. If you want to have any hope of competing with Amazon, the first thing you need to do is make it so customers can go to your site instead of Amazon to find the books they want to buy.

Hello Reader! You can help. Write to Sony, Kobo, Apple, or Barnes and Noble and ask them to please fix the search function in their online bookstore so that you can find the books you want to buy on their site instead of going to Amazon:

Barnes and Noble
Andy Milevoj, Vice President, Investor Relations
telephone: (212) 633-3489

TODD HUMPHREY, EVP, Business Development
135 Liberty St. Suite 101
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M6K 1A7

Eddy Cue, Senior Vice President, Internet Software and Services
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

Tadashi Saito, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer
1-7-1 Konan,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0075,

I gained .2 pounds yesterday. At 149.0 pounds, I am still within my weight-loss goal of 145 pounds to 149.9 pounds. I walked 2 miles. Here is what I ate:

Special K and organic soy milk
Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut Bar
El Monterey beef and green chili burrito with salsa
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Chili Dip
2 Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut Bars