146.6 I don't feel well.

Why do we say, "I don't feel well" or "She is not well"? I know, I know: "well" is the adverbial form of "good," and "feel" is a verb. Strict grammatical rules require us to modify the verb 'feel' with an adverb, 'well,' rather than an adjective such as 'good.'

However, these grammatical rules are flawed. I am not commenting on my capacity to feel. That is, unfortunately, quite unhindered. No, I am commenting on my health. My natural expression of poor health would be, "I don't feel good," and Mom, that is how I am going to say it from now on. Sorry, but Webster's dictionary agrees with me.

I have the first headache I have had in six months or so. I ate breakfast and drank lots of water and am sipping coffee in an attempt to rid myself of the headache.

Scott took this picture of me walking Oreo last week when it was sunny. Right now it is pouring rain. Last week, I felt quite good.

I gained .6 pounds yesterday. Yes, it is time to stop gaining. The weekend is over, so that is the plan. We went to a double birthday party yesterday. Our friend and his son have birthdays a few days apart. There was a bounce house for the kids. Scott and I both tried it, and it was really fun! In addition to bouncing for a few minutes, I walked both dogs half a mile in the park. Here is everything I ate yesterday:

Small green apple with peanut butter and bittersweet chocolate chips
Three donuts at church fellowship -- two were custard filled
Grilled hamburger on a bun with mayo and lettuce, handful of corn chips with cheese sauce and salsa, two grilled asparagus spears, about two cups of cut up strawberries, piece of birthday cake

P.S. The coffee is working! I feel better! No, this does not mean my capacity to feel has increased. I still feel just as well as I always have. No, now I am approaching feeling good, rather than feeling bad. Do not even get me started on feeling badly. Who feels badly? Only uncoordinated people.

146 Mark Gungor Review Day 2

I feel sorry for those who could not attend day 2 of Mark Gungor's "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage!" Still being funny, he explained we bicker because our motivations differ in life. He explained how we alienate our spouses by deriding them for the very things that make them tick.

Every time I take the Myers-Briggs personality test, I come out something different. Most lately, I am INFJ. Reading up on INFJ, this rings true. I bring this up because I intuited right off which motivational categories my husband and I fit into yesterday, without us having to purchase keys for $10 and take the tests Mark Gungor was selling.

Mark Gungor admits his system is a little like "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,"by John Gray. But Gungor's system has four "planets:" Control, Fun, Perfect and Peace.

Upon review, Mark Gungor's "Flag Page" life motivation system more closely resembles the classical system of four humors: Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic and Melancholic.

Any system will work to help us understand and appreciate diversity of motivation, though. My husband and I benefited from the seminar. It brought us closer and I recommend the seminar.
The most useful thing Mark Gungor does is give actual advice we can use to help us get along better with our spouse. He gives it with jokes so that the men can receive the advice without getting defensive. He also has tailored his "Flag page" system into a game that parents can have their kids play so they can know which "planet" their kids are from. I thought this was a nice touch and probably useful for parents.

Take your spouse and go see Mark Gungor. Just be aware that he does try to sell you books, DVDs and T shirts. We successfully resisted these sales pitches, and we did get a lot out of the time we spent at a "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" seminar. Here is my review of Day 1.

I gained 1.8 pounds yesterday, but I was trying to. I was under my goal weight, and my new size 8 clothes were all too loose on me. I weigh 146 now, and that is just right. I walked up and down the lobby for 15 minutes during the break at the seminar. I also did 10 minutes straight on the Lifestyler stair step exercise machine. That is the longest I have been able to go, and I only had to stop because I got too hot!

We went out to dinner last night, on you Nancy. Thank you! Here is what I ate yesterday, trying to gain and succeeding:

Small green apple with peanut butter and bittersweet chocolate chips
Chocolate muffin and half a mini bag of peanut M&Ms bought in the lobby during seminar break
Chili dip for lunch
Buffet dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse:
BBQ pork rib, BBQ beef rib, BBQ sausage, bunch of au gratin potatoes, bunch of herbed squash and green beans, dinner roll with meatballs and tomato sauce over it, 2 corn bread muffins with honey and a small piece of custard filled white cake
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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 mobi format at Amazon, in Nook format at Barnes and Noble, and in any other format you could possibly need through Smashwords.

144.2 Mark Gungor Review

Last night we went to the first half of Mark Gungor's "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" seminar. Mark is really funny and knows a lot about how men and women are different. He gives insights and advice through jokes! Jokes are a great way to present this type of sensitive advice because our defenses don't go up when we listen to a comedian, the way they go up when some serious "counselor" is telling us how to improve our lives.

In this first half of his seminar, Mark Gungor touched on the most important aspects of how men and women need to get along in a marriage: stressful situations, everyday life, and even sex. Like I said, he did it in a way that had us laughing and grinning at each other, not at all uncomfortable. I think everyone who is committed to having a better marriage could benefit from his seminar, book or DVD -- from engaged couples to couples who have been married 60 years or more.

It was great! Thank you so much for sending us. We think we have a pretty good marriage, but this should definitely make it even better. We will be leaving in half an hour to go to the second half of the seminar today, and I will post a review of that tomorrow.

Later: Here it is, Day Two Mark Gungor Review

I walked 25 minutes at the school yesterday and then we walked the dogs half a mile in the park. I gained .8 pounds, but that is OK. I was trying to gain and I am still .8 pounds under my goal weight of 145 to 149.9. Here is everything I had a blast eating yesterday:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Small green apple with peanut butter and bittersweet chocolate chips
Chili dip and corn chips
Bean and cheese burrito with 4 tablespoons salsa
Small green apple with peanut butter and bittersweet chocolate chips
Apple Cider drink and 1/4 a Butterfinger candy bar
Jack in the Box bacon egg and cheese biscuit 

--------------------------------------------------------------


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 mobi format at Amazon, in Nook format at Barnes and Noble, and in any other format you could possibly need through Smashwords.

143.6 More Walking Discoveries

 I lost .8 pounds yesterday, just trying to maintain my weight. I am eating more than I did while losing those 90 pounds, so I must be exercising more. My metabolism is probably faster because I do exercise more now.

Here are some more pictures of the lovely flowers and walls and things I discover when I walk around my neighborhood here in Spokane, WA. The top two pictures I took in the park. These purple lawn flowers were the first bloomers this spring. They are just about withering, now. 
 I just love how these little white flowers volunteer to grow between the tree roots, in the park. I know the gardener will come along any day now and kill them so he has his pristine little brown circle around the tree. I prefer it with these little plants growing in the nooks and crannies.

The brick wall looks like it is 100 plus years old and built by the original pioneer who settled this plot of land. I like how they painted the house a shade of yellow that matches some of the wall, and how the much newer bricks in the chimney do their best to match the bricks in the wall. The home owner seems to appreciate the brick wall as much as I do.
I walked briskly for 25 minutes during a lull in my substitute teaching duties yesterday. When I got home, Scott and I walked the dogs half a mile in the park. Here is everything I ate yesterday and lost .8 pounds while just trying to maintain my weight:

Double slice of Costco combo pizza for breakfast
Handful of raw baby carrots, 2 tablespoons Parmesan spinach dip
Small banana
Small green apple
Double slice of Costco combo pizza for dinner
Small bowl of strawberries, drizzled in Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup

144.4 Apple Pinwheel

I gained a pound yesterday, but I was trying to. I am still under my goal weight of 145 to 149.9.

We walked the dogs two miles in the park. Here is what I ate:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk

Celeste supreme pizza for one

Three pieces of Costco combo pizza

Two apples with chunky peanut butter and Hershey's bitter sweet chocolate chips


I have more to say, but I will have to add it later as I got a late call to substitute teach today.

Added later:
Peanut butter has 180 calories per 2 tablespoon serving, so go light on it. It is healthy though in the sense that it is loaded with 7 grams of protein for those two tablespoons. This has become my favorite snack! I go through 10 apples every 4 days or so. Fuji apples are the best, in my opinion. My Wal-mart has big Fuji apples and sells them for 85 cents a pound.

143.4 Walking Is Discovering

Our neighbor has this loose stone wall facing our side of the alley out back. I don't think he means for it to be picturesque -- he has old doors piled atop it to make a sort of work surface. As I walked down the alley for the first time since last summer yesterday, I happened to see these wild blue bells growing among the stones.

I see so many lovely sites when I go out walking! We live in Spokane, Washington, USA, but in spring we can pretend we live in Ireland. Everything is green, green, green and most people's gardens have this rustic sort of charm they didn't even cultivate. It just grows out of the Pacific Northwest pioneer Oregon Trail roots of the place. To make matters even better, it has been simply lovely outside the past three days.

In addition to these hyacinths that I saw growing wild all over, I shot photos of some other wild blue flowers in the grass of the park, an old crumbling brick wall, and some wild white mossy plants growing amid the roots of some trees. I will share those other photos over the next few days, so stay tuned.

Yesterday I walked both dogs a mile in the park while Scott slept for his swing shift. After he took the car to work, I walked a mile round trip to the Conoco convenience store and bought a Hostess apple fruit pie. I got some color these past few days, walking out in the sunshine.

I lost .4 pounds yesterday, without even trying. Here is everything I  indulged in yesterday, trying to gain a pound and get back up to 145, and amazingly lost .4 pounds:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Small apple and 2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
Celeste supreme pizza for one with a handful of raw baby carrots
2 strips of fried bacon
3 eggs scrambled in bacon grease with onion and red bell pepper
Hostess apple fruit pie
Small bowl of strawberries drizzled with Hershey's Special Dark chocolate  syrup

143.8 I sunbathe while walking.



I like to make some vitamin D just as much as your average Washingtonian. I am very bored lying in the sun, though. I figure when the sun is low in the sky I catch just as many rays while walking my dog -- and if I am moving, the rays are more evenly distributed. Walking has the added benefit of cardiovascular exercise. You can see in this picture that the sun is hitting my legs, face and arms just fine while I am upright.

It has felt more like summer than spring for the past few days, 80 - 90 degrees with blue skies. It is supposed to get back to our normal rainy spring weather in the cloudy 50s and 60s starting today. Unlike where I am from in always sunny Southern California, sunshine is special here in Spokane, something to be embraced. Everyone drops everything and runs out into the sunshine when it comes.

I lost 2.2 pounds yesterday. Most of it was probably water retention weight from my salty dinner Sunday night. I walked my dog two miles round trip to the post office. I substitute taught and was on my feet for a good 3 hours at work. Here is what I ate:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Small banana
Handful of raw baby carrots with 2 tablespoons Parmesan spinach dip
Small apple with 2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
Cup of Healthy Choice chicken and rice soup


146 Northwest Christian Thrift Store Dress

Yesterday many of you complimented me on this dress. Thank you! I got it at the Northwest Christian Thrift Store - 6607 North Maple Street Spokane, WA 99208 (509) 326-1522.  It is a huge store that benefits their schools. In addition to really nice clothes for men, women and children of all sizes, they have furniture, books, knick knacks, kitchen items, toys, electronics and pretty much everything for the home.



I don't know for sure how old this dress is, but it reminds me of dresses my mom and Jackie O wore in the 1960s. I really should have worn little white gloves with it, but I haven't had any of those since 1969. I had intended to wear my hair up in a puffy curly bun the first time I wore this dress, but the weather turned hot with no warning. I had worn a sweater to church as it was only 57 out when I left the house in the morning. It was 90 by the time we finished lunch and I thought, "Yay! A chance to wear this cool dress!"

Scott and I took this picture with a timer outside Lincoln Heights Community Church yesterday. It was an unseasonable 90 degrees out! We enjoyed church service here at LHCC in the morning, went home for lunch and changed because it was so hot, and attended a baptism at a nearby church. We went home to change into walking clothes, walked our dogs, and then went to a dinner party. What a great day! I'll show you the shorts I wore tomorrow.

We walked the dogs two miles yesterday. Here is what I ate that gained me a pound anyway:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Celeste supreme pizza for one
Three helpings of a delicious Italian lentil, bean, rice, cheese crock pot dish our hostess made along with
Five pieces of bread and a salad with homemade Italian dressing
Small banana sliced up and drizzled with Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup

144.8 Me at Niagara Falls and Now

Look! You can see my collar bones now that I am size 8! I was happy in this top picture because we were at Niagara Falls and it was beautiful. Look how much happier I am in the bottom picture. The accomplishment of losing 90 pounds outweighed the travel time and expense it took to drive 2,345 miles from Spokane to Niagara Falls last summer when I weighed 220 and wore a size 18.

That is actually Bride's Veil Falls, in the top picture. There are two distinct areas of water falls at Niagara. From where I am standing in the photo, Bride's Veil Falls is behind me and the main area of Niagara Falls is in front of me, unseen in the photo. The left side of that bridge is in Canada and the right side of the bridge is in the US.

At Niagara Falls, I was on my diet and had lost 20 pounds. Now, I have lost all 90 pounds and am keeping the weight off. Now is much more pleasant!

I gained two pounds yesterday. It is probably water weight from the salty dinner I had. It is OK even if it is not water weight. I am still under my goal weight of 145 to 149.9. We walked the dogs two miles. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Two pieces of toast with two tablespoons chunky peanut butter and two teaspoons jam
One beef and bean burrito with two tablespoons salsa
3/4 Qdoba Naked BBQ pork burrito
1/4 Qdoba Grilled chicken quesadilla with a bite of sour cream and a bite of guacamole
2 small bowls of strawberries drizzled with a tablespoon of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup

142.8 Thin again, and strangers treat me differently.

Strangers treat me differently, now that I am thin again. I don't know if it is because my confidence is back or genuinely the return of my attractiveness, In stores and out on the street, people -- men, women and children alike -- meet my eyes and smile. More often than when I was overweight, strangers comment about the weather and make chit chat in lines and waiting rooms.

I have not noticed family, friends or coworkers treating skinny me any differently. Well, you do compliment and congratulate me on my thin appearance. I do like that. But for the most part, I am still me and you know that and act accordingly. It is fun to see the shock register on the faces of those who have not seen me in a long time.

Yesterday, I lost 1.6 pounds. I was not at all trying to lose weight. I was just keeping the weight off. This is by far not the first time I have lost weight on keep trim eating. It's nice! It means I can indulge a little today. I will save most of this indulgence room for tomorrow as it is Sunday and they always have treats out after church service during the coffee fellowship hour. 

I daresay this picture could be an ad for Levi's 505 jeans! Heh! I look so honored to be able to wear them. I love this gymnast-style white top, too.

I didn't go on a formal walk yesterday, but I shopped at TJ Maxx and Winco Foods. Here is what I ate and lost 1.6 pounds:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
2 pieces of toasted Kirkland whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons Skippy superchunk peanut butter and 2 teaspoons Smucker's strawberry preserves
1 Beef and bean burrito, 2 tablespoons salsa
1 small apple, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 tablespoon semi sweet chocolate chips
Small bowl of kettle corn
Small bowl of strawberries drizzled with a tablespoon of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup

144.4 Yo Yo Dieting and a Headstand

Yesterday, I lost 1.4 pounds that I gained the day before. Yes, I am yo yo dieting, but only with a pound or two. I am sure a pound or two is an insignificant amount of weight gain or loss, regarding the health benefits of staying thin. My biggest health concern now is how long it is going to take for all this excess size 20 skin to shrink and fit my new size 8 body. My RN mom says if I were 60 years old, it probably wouldn't, but at 48 it eventually will.

In fact, research presented at Ohio University in June of 2011 indicates that yo yo dieting rats lived almost as long as rats on permanent low fat diets. The yo yo dieting rats lived 25% longer than rats on permanent high fat diets. These rats were yo yo dieting in four week cycles. Four weeks on a low fat diet and then four weeks on a high fat diet.

The other day I got the urge to do a headstand once again. I used to do these daily, when I was a kid and on into my early 20s. I have always had exceptional balance, and a headstand is all about balance. It is also dangerous and just about impossible while weighing too much, though! This is my first headstand since at least 1994, if not earlier. I stayed up for a minute. This was really just for fun, although I guess you could make it into a workout by seeing how long you could stay up. It works just about every muscle in my body.

Yesterday we went shooting, walked the dogs half a mile near the range, and then picked up brass for two hours. Picking up brass means slow walking, squatting, bending, reaching and hunching. Here is what I ate and lost 1.4 pounds, along with this physical activity:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Baked chicken, Brussels sprouts, onion and carrots
Ritz crackers n cheese dip snack pack
Handful of raw baby carrots
Small slice of Costco combo pizza
Baked chicken, Brussels sprouts, onion and carrots
One Reeses Peanut Butter Cup
Small bowl of strawberries

145.8 Rainbow Pictures

This is the brightest rainbow I have ever seen! I took this picture April 18, 2012 at about 6:45 pm in Spokane Valley, WA. The rainbow was visible for just a minute while it was pouring rain. The next thing I knew, the sun was out. The sky was blue and the rain abruptly stopped -- and the rainbow disappeared. It was actually a double rainbow when I first saw it, but by the time I got my camera out I only caught one bright single rainbow.

I was intrigued by how the rainbow seemed to encircle the trees to the right, and so I made the edits and wrote the caption in the top photo. Aside from resizing, cropping and adding the captions, I did not Photoshop these photos at all. The rainbow was that bright.


We walked all over Costco yesterday and then walked the dogs half a mile. Here is what I ate:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Five slices and three heels of Costco combo pizza
Four small bowls of lightly buttered popcorn

I enjoyed every bite, but today I am taking it easy and getting back down to 145. This focus is part of my permanent lifestyle change from a size 20 woman to a size 8 woman.

We ate the popcorn at a friend's house while we watched a documentary video called "The Privileged Planet." What blew me away in the video was when they explained that the sun and the moon have to be precisely proportioned and distanced so that the moon can perfectly eclipse the sun.

144.4 I Don't Stock Up on Fattening Foods

I am still .6 pounds under my goal weight of 145 - 149.9. I gained .6 pounds yesterday, because I was 1.2 pounds under weight and my clothes were starting to fall off! After buying a whole new wardrobe every month for 10 months, I am so ready to be a size 8 the rest of my life! So, I do what I need to do to weigh 145 - 149.9. Right now, that means gaining a little weight.

In August of 2011, a passerby took this photo of Scott and I at the Mall of America, at left. We took the photo on the right with a camera timer and a tripod, a week before Easter of 2012. On the left I weigh about 220 and am a size 18. On the right I weigh 145 and am a size 8. I love how Scott dresses to match what I am wearing!

I took the bus home from work yesterday, but walked about a mile all together. Here is what I ate and gained .6 pounds on purpose:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
2 pieces of toasted Earthgrains 100% Whole Wheat bread
2 tablespoons Skippy Superchunk peanut butter
2 teaspoons Smucker's strawberry preserves
Small banana dipped in 1 tablespoon Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup
Hamburger on a bun with American cheese and BBQ sauce, steamed broccoli
Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk

There are much more "fun" things I could have eaten to gain .6 pounds. I am not saying I won't eat those fun things, but part of my lifestyle change from fat person to thin person is: I no longer stock up on fattening foods. I don't keep them in the house. If I don't have ice cream, cookies, or potato chips on hand, then I generally don't even think about eating them. 

Fattening foods like mashed potatoes and gravy are called "comfort foods." They remind us of how our mothers love us, I guess. Once I decided to lose 90 pounds and was committed to the weight loss, the biggest hurdle was knowing what is fattening and what is healthy. I'm serious. Everyone knows that ice cream is fattening, but most people don't know that potatoes and pasta are fattening. I no longer buy them.

When I was losing weight, I stayed away from anything with flour in it, including whole wheat bread. Most especially this included not only cookies, but crackers. Five Ritz crackers have the same amount of calories as a small banana!

Fruit is my snack and dessert of choice now, and vegetables are my only side dishes. I garnish my fruit with a tablespoon of chocolate syrup or peanut butter. That works well for me. It satisfies my sweet tooth. I don't feel the need to drown my vegetables in butter or cheese. They taste great plain.

143.8 Walked 5 Miles, Lost .6 Pounds


Somehow, when I heard one of the teachers had a bat stool, this is not how I imagined it. This is a shop teacher's stool, of course. And wow, shop class is very different today from when I was in school. They have sophisticated laser guided cutting instruments. It is all very high tech. I took this picture weeks ago with my phone and only just now rediscovered it.

The picture underneath was one of the beautiful views on my 5 mile walk home in the rain yesterday. I didn't get tired, but I did get soaked. I was not even thinking it might rain, when I said my only concern was boredom. I am prepared with bus fare today, just in case.

I lost .6 pounds yesterday, with my 5 mile walk. Here is what I ate:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Small banana dipped in a tablespoon of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup

Raw carrot sticks
2 tablespoons Parmesan spinach dip

Another small banana
One bean burrito
4 tablespoons salsa
Small apple
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Small bowl of cheddar popcorn

144.4 Before and After Losing 90 Pounds

Scott took the top picture at Dunkin Donuts in July of 2011. I took the bottom picture with a timer a few days ago, at my goal weight of under 150. In the top picture I weighed about 220. I had already lost 20 pounds and I thought I was done, until I saw this picture. Ugh! How different fat makes our faces! But that is not the only difference between before and after losing 90 pounds.

Before: My ankles hurt all the time. I couldn't get through a trip to Walmart or Costco without having to find a place to sit down.

After: I am going to walk 5 miles home from work today, and my biggest concern is boredom!
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Before: I had to buy whatever the store had that fit my size 20 body. Most size 20 clothes are ugly.

After: I have to keep telling myself not to buy all the size 8 clothes in the store, just because they all fit me.
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Before: I got a headache almost every day. Mom said it was probably high blood pressure.

After: I have had exactly one headache in the last 6 months.
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I read a Facebook post that showed pictures of the same woman supposedly at size 8, size 12 and size 16. The post said we women try too hard to lose weight and that most men prefer the way we look at size 12. Size 12 was my original goal, as you can tell by the name of my blog.

You know what, though? It's not about the weight men like me at. It's about the weight I feel best at. Staying at a size 8 keeps my ankles from hurting and keeps the headaches away. Size 8 is recommended on all the body mass index charts. Before I lost 90 pounds, size 12 sounded good. After losing 90 pounds and feeling so much better, there is no way I am going back to size 12!

Here is what I ate yesterday and lost a pound on a no-exercise Sunday:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Handful of raw carrot sticks
1 iced sugar cookie, three peanut butter cookies, 5 pineapple chunks and 4 grapes at church coffee hour
A cup of Healthy Choice chicken and rice soup
Hamburger patty, 1 tablespoon of BBQ sauce, steamed broccoli

145.4 Spokane Valley Castle House


Update December 2014: Owner Jeff Jensen offers tours of the Spokane Valley Castle House! In exchange, he wants donations of building materials such as bricks, rebar, steel, concrete, iron, or lumber. Contact the homeowner only to arrange a tour in exchange for these items through the "reply" button on Jeff Jensen's post at Craig's List.

We found the Spokane Valley Castle House by Kismet. We were headed north on Pines road and needed to turn east on Broadway, to go to Walmart. Scott missed the right turn on Broadway and we turned right on the next street and made the first available right to turn around, and I said, "Whoa! Look at that bizarre castle house!"

I was so flabbergasted by the castle house that I took this video right then and there. If you watch it closely you can see the actual house amid all the towers. There were construction noises, so I think they were building on it even as I took this video, on Saturday, April 14, 2012.


The rest of the neighborhood is normal looking and middle class. There are small houses on either side of this decorated lot. I wish I had knocked on the door and talked to the home owner. I worked at California Renaissance Faires in DeVore, Agoura and Novato for six years. If these home owners are faire people or SCA people I would probably have a lot in common with them.

I would like living next to a cool house like this, but lots of people would be mad about its effect on their property values, I'm sure. I really should have talked to the owner of the castle house and to his neighbors, but we were in a hurry to get to Walmart and buy ammo so we could go practice shooting.

On my video's YouTube page, there's a comment by a young lady who says she lived next door to this house when the owner decided to start turning it into a castle. She says she was friends with the owner's daughter, and that the owner made this castle house because his daughter wanted to be a princess.

I found an entry about the Spokane Valley castle in a book where the author had interviewed the home owner: Washington Curiosities, 3rd: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff (Curiosities Series), by Harriet Baskas. It says Jeff Jensen, a welder, owns this lot and said it was OK for people to take pictures of his property but not for them to publish his address. Jensen also told Baskas that he started making his house look like a castle with building a trellis. He said he had so much fun building the trellis for his ivy that he built another decoration, and it just never stopped. Baskas also wrote that he told her the inside of the house looks normal, like any other house. On the right side of the house as you face it from the street, at the end of the video is my favorite part. There is a metal net of sorts above the driveway, with a metal line hanging down. It looks like something in Pirates of the Caribbean or any other pirate movie you can name. At faire I was in Sea Dogs, so I really love anything with a privateer or pirate theme.

This bizarre castle house also reminds me of the Winchester Mystery House because of the way Jeff Jensen is just randomly building more towers, with no plan or layout. I am glad to read that he is not building his castle house because of guilt or nightmares like the Winchester people had.

Isn't it easy to imagine a dungeon in the basement? Hehe! I wonder if kids would be scared of that, or if they would get a kick out of being sent to the dungeon if they were bad? Some of my friends who have little kids think this guy should put on a haunted house or give tours or something, at least for Halloween. Who is going to be brave enough to ask him to come see this page and maybe comment on if he will make a Halloween event of his house or not?

Spokane Valley is just east of Spokane, WA. It is sort of a suburb of Spokane. Spokane itself is on the eastern side of Washington State, almost in Idaho. We are actually closer to Coeur d'alene, Idaho than we are to any other cities in WA. Spokane is 280 miles east of Seattle, WA on I-90. 

If you are in Spokane Valley and you want to find the castle house, go north on University one block past Broadway. Turn right and then make the first available right. The castle house is on the left side of the street after you go about a block.

144.4 Chili Dip on Keep Trim Eating!

I lost .8 pounds yesterday on keep trim eating. I was just keeping the weight off, and I lost! What surprises me even more is I had my favorite dinner last night, what you see in this picture. We call it Chili Dip. I thought it was an indulgent dish and that I would have to diet today to make up for it.

It turns out that Chili Dip is chock full of fiber and protein! Cattle Drive Chili has 5 g fiber and 20 g protein per 1 cup serving. It has 290 calories, 100 of which are from fat, and 890 mg of sodium. It looks like that is OK, because as I said, I lost .8 pounds yesterday and I had this for dinner. I took it easy the rest of the day.

I also pan roasted the red bell pepper by sauteing it in a pat of butter. Yum, was it good! The cheese is Kirkland Mexican Blend pre-grated, from Costco. The chips are also Kirkland, from Costco -- the tall skinny paper bag Kirkland corn chips. I ate 1/3 cup of cheese and an ounce by weight of corn chips. I used the corn chips to eat the Chili Dip.

Here is everything I ate yesterday and lost .8 pounds, along with briskly walking my dog 45 minutes:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
1 strip of bacon and three eggs scrambled in bacon with sauteed onion, mushrooms and red bell pepper
Half a can of Cattle Drive Chili, 1/3 cup cheese, 1 oz corn chips, half a red bell pepper, 5g butter
Half a small banana dipped in a tablespoon of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup
A cup of kettle corn by The Popcorn Factory

145.2 Keeping the Weight Off

I lost 1.2 pounds yesterday and am now back at my goal weight, or close enough.

I have no idea how this picture of my "second breakfast" of strawberries and Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup came out so cool! They were in a very ordinary looking white plastic seal-able container. In fact, just before I shot the photo I considered putting them in a more attractive dish. I am so glad I didn't! They were on a white metal counter. My camera was set on automatic, and yes it flashed.

I walked my dog around the park for half an hour yesterday. The park restrooms are open for summer, and there are twice as many picnic tables in the park. I didn't check the water fountain, but I bet it is on once again, too.

Here is everything I ate yesterday and lost 1.2 pounds along with walking 30 minutes:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Small bowl of strawberries with a tablespoon of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup
One strip of bacon
Three eggs fried in bacon grease with sauteed onion, mushroom and red bell pepper
Baked chicken, onion, carrots, Brussels sprouts and broccoli
Small bowl of cheddar cheese popcorn from The Popcorn Factory

The Book My Diet Is Based On

My diet, including my strategies for keeping the weight off, is based on Dr Tarnower's book, The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet.

In all honesty, if that 1.2 pounds had been fat, then eating all this would not have lost it. I lost 1.2 pounds of water weight (bloating) yesterday. I had gained it because I ate too much sodium the day before, in canned chili and in a fast food meal from Qdoba. Over the course of the year I have been watching what I eat, I have learned that almost everything I don't cook from scratch has too much sodium in it. If I go nuts on the sodium one day, all I have to do is cook from scratch without salt the next day and voila! I lose whatever I gained the day before. All that is part of my strategy for keeping the weight off.

Today, I am keeping the weight off and maintaining my weight loss. Check out this page if you want to use my blog to lose weight. I lost 90 pounds in ten months, and I went from a size 20 to a size 8. If you know someone else who needs to lose weight, then please email them a link to this blog. It might save their life. I know losing those extra 90 pounds saved my life.

146.4 Mexican Food Day

I indulged in lots of salty Mexican food yesterday and gained 1.4 pounds, probably mostly in water weight.I'm kicking myself now for not taking pictures of it all before we ate it!

I made chili dip for corn chips with this Cattle Drive Gold Chili, pan seared red bell pepper and Mexican Blend shredded cheese.

We got dinner at Qdoba. I got a steak taco salad on one of those crispy tortilla salad shells. Scott got Mexican gumbo soup.

We walked the dogs down our street yesterday, past our neighbor who goes to Valley View Baptist Church Spokane with us. The dogs didn't bark at her, but rather whined to go into her yard with her, where she was weeding!

I will take it easy on the sodium today, in hopes that is all I need to do to drop this 1.4 pounds. Here is everything I ate yesterday:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Serving of Great Value cinnamon roll instant oatmeal
Cup of chili, 1/3 cup shredded cheese, half a red bell pepper, small bowl of corn chips
Steak taco salad from Qdoba

145 Love Walking in Washington State

I lost .4 pounds yesterday on keep trim eating. With this spring weather, yesterday's walk around the neighborhood was pure pleasure. See the old brown barn behind me, to the left? How cool is that?

Spokane is rustically picturesque even in the alleys between the houses. Walking here feels like time travel to the pioneer days. You can tell that most people put up their own fences, out of wood or decorative bricks or stone. Many of the driveways have been re-graveled over and over for 100 years. Some people live in cabins that are 100 years old, too, home made and less than 700 square feet.

You can be in the middle of town and walk 20 minutes and be out on a farm. Large patches of land right in town are unspoiled wilderness. A large deep river with a waterfall runs right through town. It snows in winter, but in spring everything is green green green. This is so different from the deserts around Los Angeles, where I am from.

We walked 45 minutes yesterday. Here is what I ate and still lost .4 pounds on keep trim eating:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Small banana
Two mini Hershey's Special Dark candy bars in Easter wrappers, and two milk chocolate ones
Three eggs scrambled in bacon grease with onion, mushrooms and red bell pepper
Hamburger on a bun with a tablespoon of BBQ sauce and 1/3 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
Steamed broccoli
Strip of bacon I forgot to eat with lunch!

145.4 Fit to Feel Better

I lost 1.8 pounds yesterday and am fully recovered from my planned cheat on my diet for Easter. I walked for about an hour total and did 10 minutes on our Lifestyler stair step exercise machine. Here is all I ate yesterday:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Half a pound of hamburger fried into patties
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce on the hamburger
Steamed broccoli
Handful of raw carrot sticks

I ate all this except the carrot sticks an hour before my afternoon walk. I meant to eat a salmon patty with the carrot sticks for dinner, but I was still full from all that hamburger at lunch. I just drank cinnamon tea all evening and only ate those carrot sticks.

OK, so now I am a skinny size 8. (My husband says so, even if I look average to you.)

Skinny isn't really healthy all on its own, though, is it? Fit is really "where it's at." Times in my life when I have been getting regular exercise have been the most comfortable times in my life. My muscles didn't ache. I didn't feel like I needed a massage, heating pad, or hot bath all the time. Oh sure, my muscles were sore if I exercised hard, but it was a good kind of sore, not the constant ache I get when my muscles are crying out for me not to let them atrophy.

I am almost 50 years old. I have no delusions about looking like a teenager ever again. I feel much better when I walk every day, though. At this point in my life, fitness is about feeling better. This lifestyle change is all for me and my health. It's not about what I look like to others. This is the most motivational reason, and that is why this time I have been successful at losing weight. I wish it had been about me and my health when I was young and for my whole life. All I have is the future, though. No sense dwelling on the past.

***Edited later to add these links to other days when I lost a lot of weight on my diet:

147.2 "New" Easter Dress

I indulged in Easter chocolate, cupcakes, donuts, and apple pie. I am not sorry! No regrets! Those were part of a planned cheat on my diet, and I loved every bit of them. The two pounds I gained will come off by Friday.

This is how Scott and I dressed for Resurrection Day service at Valley View Baptist Church Spokane yesterday. Now that I have a nice figure again, I wear my (costume) jewelry again. Look Mom, I finally found a dress that this dragonfly pin looks right at home on!

I bought this "new" Easter dress about a month ago at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. It cost me about $4. I love it! I decided to try and sell my old size 18 silk Easter dress at our first garage sale this summer. These darker colors look better on me than those pastels did.

We were going to walk the dogs more than three miles round trip to Lowe's yesterday, but we both got sleepy. We took an Easter nap instead. That is allowed only on holidays. Here is everything I ate yesterday:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Mini Hershey Mr Goodbar
Maple bar
A dozen homemade mini chocolate cupcakes with lemon-raspberry icing
Leftover baked chicken, Brussels sprouts and broccoli
6 oz ham steak with steamed Brussels sprouts and carrots
Hostess Apple Fruit Pie

146 Pizza Fail

I'm at a bit of a loss. Today's post was supposed to be all about how to make homemade pizza crust and how cheap and easy it is. Well, my first attempt was disappointing. My pizza crust didn't rise at all.

I will be experimenting to see if I need to:

- use more yeast (used 2 1/2 teaspoons)?
- buy new yeast (I bought this in 1999)?
- bake on a thinner pan?
- bake on a pan with holes in it?

I did let the yeast dissolve in hot water 5 minutes before adding the dry ingredients, and I did let the dough rest 5 minutes after mixing it. We bought this yeast in 1999 as part of our Y2k preparations. Does yeast die after a few years? There is no expiration date on this quart-sized, industrial strength compressed yeast packet we had kept un-opened until yesterday.

Doesn't the pizza look good, though? It tasted OK, but we were expecting great.

I walked all over Wal-mart and Costco yesterday, and we walked the dogs down the street and back, about half a mile. I gained a pound on pizza and Easter candy. I will probably gain another pound today on donuts at church and more Easter candy. I will be back to 145 by Friday. Here is all that I ate yesterday:

Small bowl of Special K and organic soy milk
Half an apple and a tablespoon of chunky peanut butter
Full dinner plate of homemade pizza with sausage and sauteed onion and mushrooms
Leftover baked chicken, Brussels sprouts and broccoli
7 mini Hershey Special Dark chocolate bars with 10 large strawberries
Sliced small banana dipped in Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup

144.8 Sweater Dad Gave Me

My dad picked this sweater out and gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago. It is a size 14, and I was a size 18. The trick of wearing loose clothing to look skinnier worked on him. He thought I had lost weight when I hadn't. Dad's Alzheimer's was not recognized yet, at the time. This sweater is a bit too big, and it has seen better days, but I will try to keep it forever.

Besides, this sweater matches this mug that Mom bought me at Heavenly Valley, the last time we skiied together.

I am thrilled but shocked that I lost .2 pounds yesterday. on keep trim eating. I was at the bottom of my 145 - 149.9 goal weight range yesterday, so now I am under goal. I am just keeping the weight off. I was sure I had  indulged too much and would gain .6 pounds or so, which I would have to lose today. Here is what I ate:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Half an apple with 1 tablespoon Jif Chunky Peanut Butter
1 Cup Cattle Drive Chili with Beans
Half a cup Mexican Blend Grated Cheese over the chili
Small bowl of Kirkland corn chips, to eat the chili dip with
1 Hostess Fruit Pie - Apple
Baked chicken, Brussels sprouts and broccoli

We walked the dogs half an hour in the drizzle and 44F cold yesterday before we took the car in to get diagnosed. It needs new shock absorbers.


145 Peanut Butter Can Be Healthy


I have to admit, this idea to make peanut butter apples was not mine originally. I got it from my sister's best friend's mom, in 1974. This mom is in fantastic shape -- trim and healthy. She is from England and speaks with an accent.

Her ways were foreign to us. We were kids. We thought she was weird. My sister came home one day and told me, "For lunch, they ate peanut butter on apples!" We giggled over how weird that was. Today, I appreciate this mom's wisdom!

Half of this feast in the picture was my "second breakfast" just now, with the rest of my coffee. I got the apple yesterday at our new Trader Joe's Market, here in Spokane. I tried to shop for fruit at thursdaymarket.org. That was just silly of me. It's only April. They won't have fresh fruit until they open outside May 17th.

See my lifestyle change! Six months ago, I had no idea about nor interest in any farmer's market. Even a month ago I made peanut butter cookies instead of peanut butter apples or peanut butter toast. Today, I know a serving of peanut butter is just 2 tablespoons, and I stick to that.

Dr Tarnower's Keep Trim rules say not to eat peanut butter. I know I am breaking the rules. So far, so good, though. I am keeping the weight off. This way of eating is not just for a little while, for me. It is for the rest of my life. I feel the need to work in the foods that I love so that I don't feel deprived. I love peanut butter!

I gained a fifth of a pound yesterday. That is OK. I was a fifth of a pound under goal weight yesterday, and now I am back at my goal weight of 145. Small ups and downs from day to day are a realistic part of keeping the weight off. We walked the dogs two miles in the rain, shivering in the 44 degree weather without gloves on so we could use the cord microphones on our radios. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
McDonald's Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit with side of hash browns
2 slices of toasted Sara Lee Healthy Multi Grain bread with
2 tablespoons peanut butter and 2 teaspoons of Smucker's Special Recipe strawberry preserves
Two-bite sample of spiral sliced ham at Trader Joe's
6 oz Fried ham and 6 steamed Brussels sprouts
1 Small sliced banana dipped in 1 tablespoon Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Syrup

144.8 Mouth Hunger vs Stomach Hunger

I am working on discerning the difference between mouth hunger and stomach hunger. In his book that I reviewed recently, "Weight Loss for Wimps: Lose Your Belly Fat, Look Younger and Get Healthy, Sexy and Thin," Kevin C. Myers called this to my attention. Most of my cravings for food are just mouth watering longing for the pleasure of the food. I only really need to eat when my stomach is genuinely growling because it is empty.

Part of my lifestyle change from fat person back to skinny person is I need to retrain myself to realize stomach hunger is a good sign.

Stomach hunger means I didn't overeat at my last meal. I spent most of my life avoiding stomach hunger by eating before I was hungry. I now realize that eating when not hungry is the very definition of overeating. Myers interviewed a bunch of skinny people, and they all wait for stomach hunger before they eat. He says fat people almost invariably eat by the clock, to avoid stomach hunger. I've been so guilty of that.

This picture taken yesterday shows me sitting in front of my computer working, which is how I look much of the time. Right now, in fact! :)
 
I saw this Harvard Lampoon "The Hunger Pains" parody of "The Hunger Games" on the bookshelves at Wal-mart the other day. I have no idea if the book is any good, but I did think the title was a little funny! You can read a sample the book at amazon.com.

I was going to make more peanut butter cookies, but then I realized peanut butter toast is much healthier and actually more satisfying. Why go through all the work to make cookies if they are just going to sabotage all my hard work to lose those 90 pounds? It is still not Christmas for me without cookies, but the rest of the year I can and will live without them.

I was able to perfectly maintain my weight yesterday. I am keeping the weight off! I am even .2 pounds under goal, at 144.8. We walked the dogs two miles round trip to our closer church and back. Here is what I ate:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Small bowl of strawberries and organic soy milk
One beef burrito, 2 tablespoons salsa, steamed broccoli
Small bowl of white cheddar cheese popcorn
Custard dish of strawberries
Cup of Amy's Organic Soups - Lentil over steamed broccoli
Toasted Sara Lee Multi Grain bread with 2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter and a teaspoon of Smucker's strawberry jam
--------------------------------------------------------------


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144.8 Dog Pee Cartoon





I walked without a coat on yesterday! It was only the second time this year that it was warm enough, 65F. It was even sunny! This morning, Spokane has returned us to our usual spring rain.

Oreo was made for cold weather. I think he is the only one in our family who is not glad it is getting warmer. You can see in this picture he is panting, even though it is only 65F. He is also about 10 years old, which may have something to do with it. He is still strong enough that I only have to work out my right arm; he gives my left arm plenty of a work out on our daily walks.

I lost .8 pounds yesterday, with walking 2 miles round trip to the post office. Here is what I ate:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Cup of Amy's Organic Soups - Lentil over steamed broccoli
Homemade patty melt, steamed broccoli

I used about a third of a pound of hamburger for the patty melt. I sauteed the onion in the hamburger grease for about 20 minutes on medium. I didn't have American cheese, so I melted grated Mexican Blend cheese over my patty in the microwave. I didn't use much cheese, only a third of a cup or so. I also didn't have rye bread, so I used what I had: Sara Lee Healthy Multi Grain, toasted.

I have had the idea for this "Dog Pee Cartoon" in my head for years. Yay! I finally got a picture that works for it! For a long time the idea that I had to draw the picture held me up.

145.6 Organized Closet


Yesterday, we organized our closet! I am looking so pleased in the before picture because I have a new summer top on, but really, how awful was that with the cardboard wardrobe boxes! Now, I have plenty of space to hang clothes up and plenty of little cubby holes to stow odds and ends. I even have baskets set up to pre-sort our laundry. This lifestyle change is from slovenly to sorted!

We bought these closet organizers at Lowe's for about $300 in 2005 when we bought the house we used to live in. We disassembled them and moved them 1,000 miles and they have been sitting in our garage for more than a year while we lived in squalor.

Closet organizers are simple to put together. All you really need is a screw driver, but we used a power drill. They come with step by step instructions and there are even videos on how to assemble them, posted on Lowe's website.

I guess Easter vacation means spring cleaning. I am very glad we organized our dressing room! It was getting frustrating, having a whole new wardrobe and no place to put it. I will say this though: my little dresser fits all my size 8 things a lot easier than it used to fit my size 20 things!

We walked the dogs two miles yesterday, down a less busy street to see where we need to turn to get to Valley View Baptist Church Spokane. It was a really nice walk and I am glad we explored it.

I gained .6 pounds yesterday, but that is OK. I will lose that today. Here is what I ate yesterday:

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Small bowl of Special K and strawberries
Toasted protein bread with 1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter and 1 teaspoon strawberry jam
Toasted protein bread with 1/3 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
Beef and cheese burrito with 2 tablespoons salsa
Leftover baked Brussels sprouts, broccoli and onions
2 small bowls cheddar cheese popcorn from The Popcorn Factory
1 small bowl kettle corn

145 Maid Marion Shirt


This is what I wore to Palm Sunday church yesterday. The cross is pewter from the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Novato, 1988. I hadn't worn it since then. Now that I am no longer fat, I wear my jewelry again. The shirt I got Saturday at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, for $1. I call it my Maid Marion shirt. It is exactly my style: pretty and groovy with a hark back to the historical. It's velvet! I would love it more if it were burgundy colored, but that is about the only way I could improve on it.

I gained half a pound yesterday and am back exactly at my goal of 145. Part of keeping the weight off is accepting I will gain weight some days, so I have to always be prepared to lose that weight the next day. We walked the dogs 2 miles: to the post office and back, mailing Easter cards.

I just reviewed another book. This one is on weight loss: "Weight Loss for Wimps: Lose Your Belly Fat, Look Younger and Get Healthy, Sexy and Thin," by Kevin C. Myers.

This is different from most diet books in that it seeks to break down your mental excuses for not losing the weight. It helps you decide to become thin and to stick to that decision. It follows my own personal inner journey pretty closely. I think if I were still back there, undecided, this book would have helped me. If you are (or someone you love is) at that stage where you are just starting to think about getting thin but you have not yet committed to it, this book might help:



Here is everything I ate yesterday (and gained half a pound but it's OK because I was half a pound under goal):

Small bowl of Special K, strawberries and organic soy milk
Small bowl of strawberries and organic soy milk
Maple bar and custard filled maple bar at church
Half a slice of Costco combo pizza
Leftover baked chicken, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and onion
Small bowl of kettle corn from The Popcorn Factory