Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

It’s All About That Cake


The first time Dave and I went to Costco, we saw it. The holy grail of cakes. It was huge, even by Costco standards – a Devil’s Tower of dark chocolate shavings over creamy chocolate frosting, covering what we assumed and fervently hoped was rich chocolate cake layered with additional chocolate frosting. It was called the All American Chocolate Cake. And by golly, it was our patriotic duty to buy it.

Except…it was, as I referenced earlier, gigantic. We bent over it for a better look, mesmerized, our breath fogging the plastic dome. Wondering. Dreaming. Drooling. It was just so BIG. Glorious, yes, but who was going to eat all that cake?

Granted, we don’t normally ask that question in our house. We know who is going to eat all that cake. But just because a person CAN do something doesn’t mean they SHOULD do something. I would not normally apply this rule to cake, but in this case, even I had to make an exception.

After about 5 minutes, Dave lifted the cake. “Holy hell,” he muttered. He set it down and it was my turn. Holy hell is right. It felt like it weighed about 10 pounds. We needed a family event to justify that bad boy, patriotic duty or no.

Reluctantly, we walked away. We went and grabbed our 50 pack of toilet paper (because, as you know, we are full of shit), a 20 pack of paper towels, a 100 pound bag of potato chips, an electric fireplace, a sofa, a 10 pack of 5’ x 7’ rugs, a 20 gallon jug of olives, a 500 piece set of pots and pans, a couple of lawn chairs, and a kayak. Then we circled back to the cake.

“I don’t think we can do it,” said Dave.

“Really? I think we can.”

“Can’t.”

“Can.”

“Nobody in our house needs to eat this much cake.”

“FINE!”

About once a month, we return to Costco and re-evaluate the All American Chocolate Cake. We lift it, gaze at it’s chocolatey beauty, and say things like: “Maybe we should just buy it.” “No, that thing is huge. It will take us a week to eat it.” “Yeah, maybe you’re right.” “Wow, it really is heavy. Here, feel how heavy this is.” “Wow – yes it weighs a ton.” “You’re drooling.” “Oops – sorry.” “So, are we walking away?” “Yes.” “For sure?” “Yes – for sure.”

Over the next year, we waited patiently for an All American Chocolate Cake worthy family event. Not Easter. Not Memorial Weekend. Not the 4th. Not Labor Day. Not Thanksgiving. Not Christmas. Not when Cousin Eddy had the plate removed from his head. Not when the raptors had babies in Grandpa Hammond’s sock drawer. Not the Festival of Shirtless Jackman.

Enter November 13th, 2015. My long-lost sister would be home from Arizona, and this was the night we were planning our main get together before sending her off again. We would have 12 people there, and one of those people was my brother, who has the cake capacity of 2 sumo wrestlers. It was the perfect storm.

I was pretty excited walking into Costco and grabbing that 10 pounds of chocolatey heaven and setting it in my cart. I floated to the check out and gleefully rubbed my hands together before setting it on the belt. Finally, it was mine.

The checkout guy acted like he had never seen the All American Chocolate Cake before. “Wow, this is a big cake! It looks delicious! Did you ever have it before? It’s so BIG! Who is going to eat all that cake? Do you need any help? I love cake! Wow, I wish I could taste it. It looks so good! Are you sure you don’t need any help getting your things to the car?” Suddenly I wanted to stab that cotton-headed ninny-muggins in the hand with a fork and hiss at him to get away from My Precious, dammit.

By some miracle, the cake made it all the way to my house and then all the way to my mom’s the next day, without the top “accidentally” popping off and “Gee, as long as it’s open maybe I should test it to be sure it’s not poisoned” happening.

But then, at my mom’s – disaster struck. My brother-in-law Pete was not coming. My brother-in-law Greg was not coming. And my brother had to work and so he was not coming. I was short 3 brothers and 2 sumo wrestlers in the cake eating department. No problem, I told myself. We’re professionals. We can handle this cake.

Then my mom put out snacks. And dinner was really really good. And everyone was getting just a tiny bit full. Still no problem. When the going gets tough, the Conard’s eat cake.

My entire family loves cake – it’s not just me. My mom and my sister Celeste are probably the only two who really have any sort of “cake limit” and will usually only eat a skinny slice (this would be considered a “normal slice” to the majority of the human race) and the rest of us belly up to the cake bar for a big corner piece, preferably with a giant frosting flower, or if it’s a round cake – a 2” slice with an ice cream chaser.

I cut into the cake, and removed what I thought was a very generous piece, only to see the cake literally meld itself back together. Okay, it didn’t really do that, but wow – it barely made a difference. So I kept hacking away – everyone getting a slice of cake the size of Texas including my mom and sister, plus a scoop of ice cream. We still had 2/3’s of the cake left.

The cake was delicious, and we all ate to bursting. But here’s the kicker. When it came time to divvy up the leftovers, nobody wanted to take any cake home. Not even me. Every bite of that cake was going to add 10 immovable pounds to our hips and Lord only knew what it would do to our thighs. I mean, it was a Costco cake – it did everything big and our genetically thunderous thighs did not need any help in that department.

Dave and I brought it home, our poor, sad, unwanted All American Chocolate Cake. We did our best to give it an honorary burial-by-eating, but in the end, we weren’t up to the challenge. It lived the rest of it’s life on the counter, slowly drying to death until we finally buried it in the trash.

It was a good cake. A chocolatey cake. It was heavenly and delicious and I failed it. Apparently even I have a cake limit. It was a crushing blow to my cake confidence and a sad end to our All American Chocolate Cake dream. A sad end indeed.

It took me a week of grieving before I was able to step foot in Costco again. I walked thru the bakery section and couldn’t bear to see the new All American Chocolate Cakes just waiting for a family to love them. I turned away and my eyes fell upon…

A Costco Pumpkin Pie. And it was huge.

Pietistically yours,
Sue

PS – Can you name all of the movies I referenced in my post? It wasn’t intentional at first but I seem to love movie references as much as I love puns.

PPS.  The pie was just as delicious as the cake.

PPSS.  Mmmmmmmm….pie….cake…pie….cake…pie…cake….

Come In Orson


holdontoyourbutts

It is now the end of my NaNoWriMo experiment. I did not write a novel. I did not write 50000 words. I did not pass Go. I did not collect $200. But I did write almost every day, and I tried to get at least 500 words in when I wrote. I came close enough to this goal to be happy, and to call this experiment a “win”.

As a bonus, I learned a lot about myself and about how I write.   I can tell you are all just dying to know, so in the words of the great Samuel Mo-Fo Jackson: “Hold on to your butts.”

I LIKE TO WRITE.

That seems less monumental now that I see it in print. I mean, “Duh”, right?  But I was getting to the point of dreading my time at the keyboard.  I wanted every line to be perfect and I wanted everyone to believe my writing was perfect and I wanted to fit my square-ass peg in a round-ass hole.  Over thinking and editing every line lead to slow and painful writing, and when I couldn’t keep up with what I thought my imagined pace should be, I wrote less and had less joy doing it.

NaNoWriMo, however, is all about writing without editing.  Just letting the words fly out onto the paper, all willy-nilly and higgley-piggley.  I about had a coronary the first few days.  But then I got into it.  It became fun.  Nothing made sense at first, but I didn’t care.  I was writing, and as I wrote, I found golden nuggets along the way.

My main golden nugget?  Writing is a whole lot more fun when I’m not being such an anal asshole to myself.

MY WRITING STYLE IS MESSY.

I write the same way I clean my house. I make a fantastic mess and then somehow, in between looking at old photos and reading long forgotten sales flyers, I organize it into place again. I also leave cupboard doors open while I am cooking. I don’t know if this is related, but it drives certain people in my life crazy. So if leaving cupboard doors open is a pet peeve of yours, feel free to rant about it in the comments. It won’t change anything, but I know it will make you feel better.

I am much happier and more productive when I make a big writing mess, and then go thru it all later and puzzle it into a single, flowing, beautiful, angelic document of pure bliss and perfection. It is absolutely just as time consuming as my old way of writing one sentence and then editing it to death, but I get to write a lot more and I am editing less. I believe speed and overall better writing will take place over time and if it doesn’t – who cares?  But it will. And you know why? Because of…

PRACTICE

Why am I so old before I am finally understanding the concept of practice and not perfection?

When I was a teenager, my friends and I were Steve Martin fanatics, to the point of purchasing banjos and taking banjo lessons. Serious groupie behavior. However, to play the banjo with the same skill as Steve Martin involves years of dedicated practice. YEARS. And I wanted perfection, and I wanted it yesterday. I still love Steve Martin, but I no longer own a banjo.  I sold it when I realized that I would never dedicate enough time and energy to being that good.  It was a desire, but it wasn’t a dream I was willing to fight that hard for.

Writing has been a similar experience for me – I believed I was supposed to be perfect right out of the gate. Except I wasn’t.  And my writing was all over the place.  And I kept switching my genre.  And writing became a chore.

But this WAS my dream.  And still is.  I refused to give up.  And still do.  I will be in Kristin Lamb’s 5% of 5% of 5%, even if it takes me until I’m 90.  Even if I suck.  Even if no other living human ever reads another word I write, although that would be terribly depressing.

Because my new attitude is practice.  I can’t get better if I’m not writing.  I can’t find open doors and opportunities if I am not actively learning and participating in the writing world.  And I now know that it will always be “practice” and not “perfection.  And I am so very okay with that.  Finally.

THE BLOG

Photography is a lot of fun, but it’s not my first love.  I have time to be either a really good photographer or a really good writer.  I have to pick one and commit (which also relates to genre).

So I am going to stop muddying the waters of my blog, and will be pulling away from photo challenges and instead focusing on humorous posts as they relate to day-to-day living. I will publish every two weeks. On a Monday. With a full elvish moon.  Carved into stone by Wolverine at high tide during the festival of Shirtless Jackman, while Steve Martin plays Foggy Mountain.

THE NOVEL.

I will write one. But not this year. This year, I will be focusing on practice, establishing permanent writing habits, doing a few workshops, reading books about writing – that sort of thing.  Oh yeah and maybe realize my dream of being the next Sue DeGroot.  Who is great, by the way.  In case you missed that.

Of course I will still be biking and hiking and rolling around in the dirt and picking wood ticks off the dogs and eating butt loads of cake, and then coming back here to tell you about it – humorously of course. But I think…I think it will finally all make sense.  At least to me.  You guys are probably screwed.

Writingly yours,

Sue

PS.  Thanksgiving was awesome and pie filled – it’s the one time of year pie is an acceptable alternative over cake.

PPS.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you all gained as much weight as I did.  Because I’m considerate that way.

PSS.  I would like to thank all of you who have inspired me and encouraged me to keep writing.  Some of you know who you are.  Some of you have no idea.  I was going to name names, but chances are I will forget someone significant and then feelings will be hurt and wars will rage and all of mankind will cease to exist.  So instead, here are the letters of all the initials of all of you.  A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.  And the entire Klingon alphabet, just for good measure.


 

The Whiniest Israelite In All The Land


That would be me.  Well, that would be me if I was Jewish.  And if I lived during the Exodus (despite what my brother may say, I’m not that old).

This realization came to me recently while I was working on a work assignment. A really sucky work assignment.   A really sucky work assignment that was really really hard (really) and I only had one week to do it. It required hours of reading, research, analyzing, and goal setting and then writing a report to go with it.

Crack open that bottle of whine.

“I can’t play Candy Crush because I have to do reeeessseeaarchhh!”  *Throws self on floor*

“On my own tiiimmme!  At hoooommme!”  *Flail arms and legs while rolling on the floor*

“I don’t get thiiiisss!”  *dramatic adolescent foot stomping*

“This is toooo haaaarrd!”  *More arm flailing and foot stomping*

“I want to eat peanuts and read comics like all the other adults!”

“I’m just gonna quit my stupid job so I don’t have to do this.  But I need a paaaay cheeeeeeck!”  *sobs uncontrollably*

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

After I finished the report, I texted a friend saying “It’s done! It’s finally done!” to which she replied, “Are you also done with your pity party?”.  Rat bastard friends.

Every morning, I try to read a chapter from the bible. You will notice I just called my friends “rat bastards” in the previous sentence, so I feel compelled to explain the bible reading for some reason. I obviously don’t fit the traditional “holy” definition, but thankfully, God has infinite patience (along with His wisdom, mercy, love and forgiveness) and hasn’t kicked me off the island yet. We talk a lot. I get a lot of eye rolls from Him, too.

So now I’m reading Exodus. The first part of Exodus is cool. It starts with the story of Moses – rescued as an infant from the waters of the Nile, growing up in the big house, being really stupid and killing an Egyptian, running away to the desert, getting married, finding a new life and then getting called back by God to rescue his people.

But once they get into the wilderness, and God starts handing down the law, things start to get dicey from a “making sense to Sue” standpoint.  Following the law is sort of like trying to read all of the “begats” (genealogies)- I’m reading the words but they don’t mean a whole lot.

Currently, I’m reading the instructions for building the mobile temple and I feel like I need a degree in rocket science to understand it.

Example:

7 “You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair, to be a tent over the tabernacle. You shall make eleven curtains. 8 The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; and the eleven curtains shall all have the same measurements. 9 And you shall couple five curtains by themselves and six curtains by themselves, and you shall double over the sixth curtain at the forefront of the tent. 10 You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain of the second set. 11 And you shall make fifty bronze clasps, put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one. 12 The remnant that remains of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remains, shall hang over the back of the tabernacle. 13 And a cubit on one side and a cubit on the other side, of what remains of the length of the curtains of the tent, shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on this side and on that side, to cover it. 14 “You shall also make a covering of ram skins dyed red for the tent, and a covering of badger skins above that. – Exodus 26:7-14

Greek, right? Or Hebrew? And can we just address the elephant in the room: Badger skins??  And this is just for the curtains!  Or something!  I’m not really sure!

"Figures The erection of the Tabernacle and the Sacred vessels" by illustrators of the 1728 Figures de la Bible, Gerard Hoet (1648–1733) and others, published by P. de Hondt in The Hague in 1728 - http://www.wcg.org/images/b2/_0303160501_038.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Figures The erection of the Tabernacle and the Sacred vessels” by illustrators of the 1728 Figures de la Bible, Gerard Hoet (1648–1733) and others, published by P. de Hondt in The Hague in 1728 – http://www.wcg.org/images/b2/_0303160501_038.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The entire time I’m reading it, I realized if I was an Israelite trying to decipher this, I was going to be wandering in the desert for a really, really, really, long time, because I would so be on the “Let’s build a golden calf – it sounds so much easier” band wagon.

What I wouldn’t have realized though, is that even though the rules were hard, they had a purpose.  God was trying to build a nation and to establish a way of life for a group of people who had just been slaves for hundreds of years.  They had little knowledge of government structure or how to keep a million people from starving or killing each other or how to even order their day.  Following his instruction stretched their minds, changing how they thought.  As it was, he had to provide manna and quail, water from rocks, and constant hand holding to get them to the foot of Mount Sinai (insert golden calf here).

So I felt a little better about the whole report thing. I mean, it was just a report. I didn’t have to build a temple or a whole freaking nation. Yay me!  Yay everyone else too, because the very idea of a “Sue Nation” is really rather frightening (except for the part where everyone gets to eat cake).  And just like the Israelites, researching and writing the report changed how I thought, brought in new ideas, and made me see my job from another perspective.

I also realized what a whiner I was over such trivial things like work reports when our world is faced with terrorism, war, racism, poverty, and illness.  Seriously – I should have been jumping up and down with joy over having to write that report. My rat bastard friend was right – I was having a raging pity party. And that made me wonder – how often do I complain about piddly crap like that? How ungrateful am I? How often am I whining about the glass half empty, when I could be rejoicing over the glass half full?  Or more importantly, the “cup runnething over” (Psalm 23)?

I plan to make that a daily reminder for myself: Pop a curly straw in that baby and rejoice in the glass half full. The very same RB friend who called me out on my pity party also had this remark for me – the “I get an idea and say “Okay, let’s do it”” and then she remarked “Now I didn’t say it was always a GOOD idea…” and we laughed over it because she knows me so very well. But this time I am on the money. This is a GREAT idea. For me anyway.

Half-full

Love to you all.

May you have a blessed and grateful holiday season.

Sue

PS. Happy Thanksgiving!

PPS. Pie

PPSS. Mmmmmmm….pie.

Just for today...tomorrow it's back to cake!!

Just for today…tomorrow it’s back to cake!!

A Thanksgiving Story. Or Not.


Today is Thanksgiving.  I was torn about what I should write about.  I thought it should be something monumental, given the day.  But everybody and their brother is talking about what they are thankful for.  And it’s not that I’m NOT thankful.  I truly am.  But I couldn’t decide – do I post about the smarmy things I am thankful for like my family and friends?  Or do I go the funny thankful route, and talk about things like shirtless pictures of Hugh Jackman (actually pretty thankful for this) and the invention of Poo-Pourri?

poo-pourri

It’s a real product. Seriously.

Instead, I have decided to share a Thanksgiving story with you.  And it’s a bit of a stretch to call it specifically a “Thanksgiving” story.  It’s really more of a “fall-ish” story, but I am pretty sure it happened close to Thanksgiving so I should get some points for that.  And it’s a dog story.  Who doesn’t love a dog story?  Well, maybe if you’re a cat.  Cats might not love a dog story.  Not because cats hate dogs, but because cats are pretty much like honey badgers, in that they just don’t care.  I have a honey badger cat sitting right here, on my lap, trying to crawl on my keyboard and write his autobiography with his butt.

Honey badger

Anyway…

This story involves our old neighbors, Dave, me and the best dog ever, Rocky.  This is him.

Rocky

Awesome Dog

While he didn’t fly through the air with his cape and Sweet Polly Purebred or rescue Timmy from the well or unmask any villains with his tribe of meddlin’ kids, you can still see he is awesome.  Damn awesome.

The neighbors loved him too.  They let him poop in their yard (seriously, they didn’t care) and would call him over for scritches and pats and snuggles.  Because Rocky was so awesome, we didn’t need a fence, because he never left the yard (except to poop at the neighbors).  No fence could contain him anyway.  When we first got Rocky from the Humane Society, we lived at our old house that had a yard with a 7 foot privacy fence.  Chuck Norris Ninja Dog found a way to get over it.  We never saw him do it, and we never figured out how he did it.  But the evidence was plain – we put him out the back, and he came in the front.

This story takes place in November in Wisconsin, so it’s dark by 5pm.  And I don’t mean “dusk”.  I mean dark.  Like, Lose Your Black Cat In The Yard dark.  It’s the time of year where you wake up in the dark, drive to work in the dark, and come home in the dark.  If you work in a windowless cubicle with nothing but fluorescent light to bathe you, it’s quite possible that you may not see the sun for 6 months.  You think I am exaggerating?  November, December, January, February, March, April and sometimes May.  So really that’s 7 months.  And yes, I know what the calendar says – but the calendar was made by old, dead, Europeans who didn’t live in Wisconsin.  I say, any month it might snow, is winter.  And yes, it does snow in Wisconsin in May.  By rights, I should also include October, but for some reason, October is usually hotter than September.  You know how all the leaves change to those pretty yellow, orange and red colors?  It’s because the sun is setting them on fire.  We live on the edge here in Wisconsin.

Okay.  Carrying on.  It’s fall – close to Thanksgiving.  We let Rocky out to go poop in the neighbors yard.  He loved the cooler weather, so if he was gone 20 minutes or so, we didn’t panic.  He liked to patrol around the house or lay on the cement step in the garage or just read a magazine while taking a good long poop.  Who knows.  We just knew he was around somewhere.  He was funny in that he didn’t bark.  Not to come in, not when he played, not at strangers.  I think in the 12 years he blessed our lives, I heard him bark maybe 5 times.  We just got used to watching the patio door and when we saw his white wooly form in the dark, we would open the door and let him in.  This night, Dave happened to see him first.

I was in the living room, and heard the patio door slide open and shut, followed by Dave yelling, “Hey, hey, hey!”  We lived in a new subdivision, so I figured Rocky found a mud hole or something so I ran in to help with damage control.  No mud, but Dave says, “He’s got something in his mouth”.   The “something” was long and brown, sort of like a short walking stick.  I could see him fruitlessly trying to hide under the table but he was an 80 pound hairy beast with a gargantuan stick in his mouth that kept getting caught in the chair legs.  “He has a stick,” I observed.  Dave gave me a “Why, thank you, Captain Obvious” look, and said, “I don’t think it’s a stick.”

Dave grabbed the hind end and I grabbed the front end and we push/pulled him out in the open with his prize. And here is when we noticed his stick had a hoof at the end of it.   Where in the hell did he get a stick with a hoof?  For some reason, the hoof was throwing me for a loop.  “Holy shit, it’s a deer leg,” said Dave.  Ah.  Lightbulb moment.  That explained the hoof.

By now, the kids were in the kitchen.  Lindsay was laughing and exclaiming about how gross and disgusting it was and Matt thought it was cool, and proceeded to run back and forth in the kitchen and then sliding on his socks.  While the hyperactivity and excited jabbering of the kids escalated, I noticed Rocky trying to disappear into the floor, while hanging on for deer…I mean, dear…life to his “stick”.

Rocky

Rocky with a chewy stick.

Before he got any ideas about carrying it into my living-room, I grabbed the leg and told him to drop it, which he did.  (Because remember, he’s awesome like that).  I held it up gingerly, careful to keep it well away from me, and his eyes followed it back and forth, his tail waving gently on the floor and his tongue out.  Dave grunted and said, “I think I know where he got it.  When I came home, I saw the neighbor in his garage dressing his deer.”  Oh great, I thought.  Pooping is one thing.  Stealing a guy’s deer leg is another.

I walked over to the neighbors.  Sure enough, his garage door was open and his deer was lying on a canvas tarp on the garage floor.  Mr. Neighbor was nowhere to be seen, however.  I was a little fearful at first that maybe Chuck Norris Ninja Dog took out the neighbor in his deer leg quest, but that really would have been out of character.  Rocky was awesome, not evil.  So I gently tapped on their door with the hoof.  Mr. Neighbor answered the door with a fork in hand – I smiled and giggled and held out the deer leg, hoof first.  “Um, Rocky just brought this home….”  Mr. Neighbor burst out laughing.  “Oh boy!  Wait till I tell the guys this!  I just took a break to eat some dinner!  Never thought to shut the garage door!  That Rocky!  What an awesome dog!”

“Well, I don’t know what else he may have gotten into when he was over.  He might have eaten or taken something else,” I explained.  Mr. Neighbor did not care.  Mr. Neighbor laughed and waved me away with his fork.  “No problem!  That Rocky!  Hahahahahahaaaaaa!”  He took his deer leg back though.  Relieved, I went back to our house.

The next day was a Sunday.  We let Rocky out for his morning constitutional without incident, and then Dave and I and the kids left for church.  We came home a couple of hours later, to be greeted by an unholy stench the likes of which our nostrils had never before smelled, and prayed would never smell again, along with a football sized pile of…something….on the rug right in front of the door as we came in.  This would be the “he may have eaten or taken something else” portion of Rocky’s big deer leg adventure.

“I hope you don’t want this rug,” Dave said as he rolled it up like a giant barf burrito.  “The whole thing is going in the garbage.”  I didn’t argue.  No way was I touching that, and was indeed thanking my lucky stars that I was not the man of the house and therefore did not qualify for the “Exceedingly Gross Chores” portion of the marriage.  Yes, I know that is stereotypical and sexist, but it works for us.  I handle Standard Gross Chores, like snot noses, cat barf, and toilet bowl cleaning, and he handles all the rest, plus spiders.

While we had no more vomiting of rancid meat from the depths of hell, we did have to deal with Awesome Dog’s awesome gas, for at least a week.  This was a gas so awesome it had the power to melt your face clean off.  The Chuck Norris of gas.  We ran from the room and hid in our closets when we saw Rocky coming.  We were like the kids in Jurassic Park, hiding from the Velociraptors.  As surely as those velociraptors wanted to have Timmy for lunch, we knew Rocky’s gas was hunting us down.

Eventually, his digestive system returned to normal – meaning he still had gas but at least our faces were safe, if not our noses.  And he returned to being the most awesome dog on earth.

Best dog EVER

Best dog EVER

Someday, I will tell you the full Rocky story, but until then, do you have a funny dog story to tell?  A favorite pet?  A dog or cat more awesome than Chuck Norris?

Happy Thanksgiving!
Sue

 

PS – Your Welcome:

hugh-jackman-shirtless

I’m Back!


It’s been a while since I posted.  The last couple of months have been fraught with distractions, like eating Thanksgiving pies, Christmas cookies, Marge’s homemade angel food, Dave’s birthday lasagna, cheese cake, Christmas ham, Lucy’s yummy chocolate truffle cookies, and assorted dips, cheeses and crackers.  Not to mention half of the tin of homemade cookies my mom gives us every year that I assured her I would leave entirely to Dave (I cannot be trusted to promises made when it comes to baked goods).

Christmas Cookies

Mmmmmm….cookies!

I have also been distracted by a game on my iPad, introduced to me by my nephew.  My adult nephew, who is 30 years old and expecting his first baby and whose care-free video game playing days will soon be coming to a crashing sleep-deprived halt.  Excuse my cruel chuckle as I experience the empty nest days of doing whatever the heck I want whenever the heck I want to, as long as it doesn’t break any laws, interfere with my job, breach national security, or send us spinning into bankruptcy.

The game in question is The Simpsons Tapped Out.  First, let me say that I don’t even watch The Simpsons.  I think, in the entire 500 years it’s been on the air, I may have watched 3 episodes.  I have paid enough attention to pop culture to know who Homer, Marge, Maggie, Bart and Lisa are, but that’s really about it.  I would never have looked for this game on my own, because I wouldn’t have cared enough to even think it might exist.The Simpsons Tapped Out

So, when David showed me the game on his iPhone, I thought it was in complete innocence, one gamer to another.  No.  He was seductively trying to suck me into the vortex so he could add another friend to his game and fulfill a quest.  I watched in fascination as he clicked on people and buildings, collecting cash and making Bart go to church and Ned Flanders take power walks.  My eyes dilated and my finger reached tentatively out towards his phone.  Then he said the magic words…”It’s free, Aunt Sue”.

This is not a game for those afflicted with OCD.  I became obsessed with rebuilding Springfield and fulfilling quests.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner were soon filled with the sounds of my finger spastically tapping on glass.  I started bringing my Ipad to work to sneak extra game play during the day, where I hunched over my iPad, tapping furiously while casting furtive glances over my shoulder.  I needed to buy more land and build more buildings!  I needed more cash!  More Halloween Treats!  More Christmas coins!  More friends!  I visited Tapped Out forums to find strangers to add to my ‘friend’ list and forced my friend’s 12 year old son to “add me”.  I almost went as far as buying fake donuts with real cash, just to be able to build the mad scientist volcanic lair.  Oh yeah.  I was hard core.

The Simpsons Tapped Out Volcano Lair

This baby cost 200 donuts.

Somewhere between Christmas and New Years, we ran out of the Christmas cookies that I was using to feed my gaming frenzy, and I realized I needed to get my life back.  The dogs were picking thru garbage and hanging out on the street corner, harassing the neighborhood collie (Hey you.  Yeah, you!  Look at you behind your fence, pansy boy!  Oh yeah?  I dare ya!  I triple-human dare ya!). The cat was cooking ‘nip in the basement and selling it to unsuspecting kittens.  The boys were mixing lights with darks in the laundry room while surviving on Hot Pockets and Tina’s frozen burritos.  I had 10,679 unread emails just from Kohl’s alone (Save 30%!  Free shipping!  Get Kohl’s Cash!), and was so far behind on Facebook that I didn’t recognize any of my friends.

Catnip

“Pssst. Little kitten! I have some candy for you!”

So I quit.  Cold turkey.  I don’t recommend this to the faint of heart.  First came the shakes.  Then then the delirium.  I cried.  I giggled maniacally.  I sobbed in hysterics.  I beat on my Ipad, shouting “WHY?  WHY?” And then I crashed.  It was the worst ten minutes of my life.

And now I’m back to my barmy old self, ready to motivate the hell out of you  to work out, eat right and pray your socks off in 2013.  Are you ready?  Let’s ride!!lets-ride_o_134792

Black Friday


Black Friday

Well, at least they are running…

Oh yes, I just shamelessly used the words “Black Friday” in my title, knowing it might give my blog a few more hits.  But for those of us trying to maintain a healthy weight, the day after Thanksgiving can indeed feel like Black Friday, should one be so stupid as to step on the scale.  Therefore, instead of being out shopping with the Crazies, I am at home, drinking coffee and writing an exercise entry in my blog.

coffee

Oh yes. This is exactly what I look like drinking coffee. Uh huh.

If you are like me, you know the holiday season can wreak havoc on the best laid plans of healthy eating and exercise.  In the long, dark days of winter, it’s very easy to choose sleep over an early wake up call to the gym, or to just go home after a late day at work, and watch the Big Bang Theory while eating your dinner instead of bundling up for a walk or run in the dark.  So, now is the time I encourage you to add some spice to your normal routine.  Boredom is the number one killer of exercise programs!

Bears

“You can’t make me go to the gym! You can’t make me, you can’t make me, you can’t make me!”

The first thing I did this year was to join the Y.  I haven’t belonged to a gym in over 3 years, choosing instead to utilize the gym we have at work with my co-worker workout buddies.  Very cheap (free) and it’s always more motivating to know someone else is depending on you to be there.  But lately, we find more and more excuses not to go.  It seems like such a chore – depressing even – and if one person backs out, it sucks the motivation from the rest of us.

Joining the Y has brought some spice back into my workout plans.  I can join a spin class, hit the pool, jiggle my love handles in Zumba, or run on the indoor track (so thankful I won’t have to think about running across ice patches this year).  It was just enough to bump my brain out of hibernation mode.  If you already belong to a gym, but are bored and find yourself not going, try creating an at home program.   Or find ways to exercise outside – like snowshoeing or cross country skiing if you have snow, or biking, running and/or walking if you don’t (be sure to read some articles on cold weather exercise.  There is a good one here:  ACTIVE.COM).  Or join a new gym – maybe one that offers some things you don’t have at your current gym.

Zumba

Totally.

The next thing I did was purchase an Ipad, which led me to justify said purchase by figuring out how to use it for reasons other than playing Spider Solitaire or Siege Hero.  I started looking for good workout apps, and found a few worth mentioning:  Daily Workouts, IPersonalTrainer, and Workout Trainer.  I’m not going to review them today, but brought them up because it was in my search for workout apps that I ran across a video called Plank Workout for Flat Abs and Toned Arms, led by a cute, perky girl who made doing a plank look oh-so-easy, even while adding in weights and arm movements.

blogilates

Even perky while planking!

Further investigation brought me to more videos and then her website –Blogilates.com.  Oh my goodness – so much more perkiness (really, I am 48 years old – not much of me is too perky anymore) and sweating.  Seems an odd combination, but this girl has some killer moves.  Her name is Cassey Ho, and despite her everlasting good mood, or maybe because of it, I absolutely love her workouts.  They challenge my strength, they teach new moves to this old dog, and they make me sweat like a pig.  (Hmm…maybe that last bit wasn’t very appealing…).

Plus, she makes new videos all the time!  And she has a clothing line!  And she has a monthly workout calendar.  And she has recipes.  And meal plans.  And inspirational stories.  And icing on the cake –  she is FREE (although you do have to subscribe to her newsletter for access to some things, like the workout calendar).

Her videos are about 10-15 minutes long, so perfect for those days you need something quick.  Or you can do two or three in a row, or you can do what I did.  I went thru a few of her videos, pulled out the exercises I wanted to try, and created an hour long workout routine that we did in the gym at work.  Holy sweat balls of fire.

And my last bit of advice – sign up for an event that will make you start training.  It doesn’t have to be grandiose (but it can be, if you want) – maybe as simple as just wanting to get personal best, or try something new.  Need some inspiration?  There are a lot of charity events and Team In Trainingorganizations (like My Team Triumph or the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Team in Training) you can work with to add some meaning to your training.  I have found I train better knowing I am running for someone who can’t run for themselves.  It adds a spiritual level to my workouts, and reminds me to be grateful and humble.

And that my friends, is that.  For now…

Sue