January 30, 2011

january book review...

So, two of my friends did this (Miss Pottenger and JoyGirl), and since I never do a long list because it is too daunting, I thought this might be something I could handle. Each month I'll review the books I read that month--and maybe a quote if I have one--so you can see what I'm reading. I'm also on Goodreads, where you can see all the books I have read (that I can remember, there are a few I've forgotten!).

The rating is the same as Goodreads--5 stars means "it was amazing," 4 is "really liked it," 3 is "liked it," 2 is "it was okay," and 1 is "didn't like it."

Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin (4 stars)

This one is a cute kids book that had a great storyline. The cows in the barn are cold and they ask the farmer for blankets. The stingy farmer doesn't want to give the cows blankets. If that isn't a fantastic set-up, I don't know what is! I read it in the company of several friends. We all got a great laugh.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (3 stars)

A story about two mothers--Kativa, the one who gave birth to a daughter that her culture wouldn't allow to live, and Somer, the one who adopted her. Set in both America and India, it explores how two cultures collide through the powers of family and blood. I did get a little miffed when Somer visits India and her Indian in-laws fail to teach her how to eat with her hands (and then get upset with her)--and equally miffed at Somer for her failure to ask to be taught. What can I say? If I can learn it, so can any silly character!

Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins (3 stars)

This is the second in a series, the first of which (Hunger Games) I read in December. The series follows a young girl, Katniss, who takes her sister's place in the vile gladiator type game run by the ruling government. In the second installment we find Katniss back at home, ready to settle into post-game life. But the government isn't going to allow that--and now Katniss is finding that the districts are looking to her to help start a revolution. While Collins' kept me engaged, I was able to easily guess where this one was going, and therefore never had that thrill of discovery that I long for when reading.

Mocking Jay (Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins (2 stars)

The third in the series. This one finds Katniss as the revolution's not-so-thrilled poster child. The only reason I kept reading was to find out who Katniss ended up with (there is, of course, a love triangle through the three books, and that was slightly more interesting than the main storyline--Collins did a good job with the romance angle, and that's not easy!). Again, no fantastic surprises, but it was a decent read.

Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam (4 stars)

In these nine linked narratives, Amsterdam crafts a world where the turn of the millennium didn't go smoothly, and one young man is set on a journey that will challenge the ideas of survival and what it means to be human. I really enjoyed this one--Amsterdam's a great writer, and his ideas were fresh and interesting. Due to content, I can't recommend this to many, but I really did enjoy the book.

Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SAT's by Paula Marantz Cohen (2 stars)

Anne Ehrlich, a high school counselor, was persuaded by her family not to marry the love of her life when she was younger. Years later, he's back, and Anne is a different woman. Will she win him back despite his new fiance? A decent story based on Austen's Persuasion. While basing a novel on any Austen masterpiece leads to predictable outcomes, Cohen keeps the tone light. Though I had a hard time relating to the whole craze over the SATs (we never got weird about them--in fact, I never took the SAT, just ACT).

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (5 stars)

The story of two magicians who seek to bring magic back to England in the 1600's--this one is thick, both in size and quality of writing. The two title characters lead an amazing cast full of interesting figures--lords and ladies, fairies, and magicians. Clarke manages to keep me guessing at what will happen next. Her use of footnotes was charming, and I'm tempted to never use a period after Mr again! I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys good writing, magical stories, or just books that keep you engaged.

Favorite Quote: (this one had so many, but I only wrote down two, of which you get one) He understood for the first time that the world is not dumb at all, but merely waiting for someone to speak to it in a language it understands.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (4 stars)

I thought this would be about cross-country racing, but it's not. It's about car racing, and it's told from the viewpoint of a dog. Far from being silly, it's a very touching story about a man who is trying to figure out life. He finds a wife, has a daughter, has a home, and then his world starts to fall apart. The dog, Enzo, tells us all the pains and goings-on, and through his eyes, we see who Denny (the human) is, and how his skill as a race car driver influences his entire life. A very good read that I recommend to anyone who doesn't have animal story issues :P.

Favorite quote: So much of language is unspoken. So much of language is comprised of looks and gestures and sounds that are not words. People are ignorant of the vast complexity of their own communication.

And those were my eight books for January.

day three and four--detox

Things are still going well--despite going out to dinner last night for pizza and salad. I'm sure I went over calories yesterday but it was worth it. And the dog is back today, so walks are in the future. I've been feeling very much the homebody lately, so I haven't gone to the gym. I think I need a little more sunshine in order to convince me to leave the house.

It's getting easier to drink down the detox mix--I still won't call it tasty, but it's growing on me. And it's kinda nice knowing my body is purging itself of all the icky stuff that's been hiding there for a while.

And now the dog thinks she needs dinner, so I'm going to feed her! More tomorrow!

January 29, 2011

day two--detox

The second day was a bit quieter than the first--I'm glad to report that other than a few grumblings in the abdominal regions, the detox hasn't pulled a huge discomfort down upon me. Sure, it's not a pleasant thing to clean out your system, but it isn't as unpleasant as it could be!

I completely forgot that the dog was going to her home for the weekend, so I missed taking her for a walk. And because I was just feeling like a home-body today, I didn't go anywhere.

I still feel like I have more than enough food, and I still only managed one shake and one cup of tea today (but I was feeling a bit more like eating food, so I had three meals...without breaking the bank on calories!).

Only five more days of the detox to go--and at the end of the first week I'll do a weigh-in to see what has been accomplished! Until then, I'm avoiding the scale. It's still evil...

January 28, 2011

day one--detox

The world is full of pollutants--sometimes we can see them in the air, other times, we have no idea they are there. The food we eat is hardly safe considering the amount of chemicals used to grow and produce it. And when we are full of pollutants (also known as toxins) our bodies can't work to their full potential. So it makes sense that the first step for me would be to detox.

Arbonne has a seven day detox cleanse. It's a liquid concentrate that you mix with 32ozs of water, then you drink it down through the day. I tried it about 18 months ago and couldn't keep it down (I have this amazing gag reflex). But they changed the formula and made it taste better, and since it came in my "I Want it All" package, I decided to try it.

So today I started the detox. I'm happy to report that it does taste better (though I won't be giving it any awards for being delicious). I did end up adding one of my fizzy tabs to it to help boost flavor. It took me about 8 hours, but I got it all down with no problems!

And it turns out that you can eat a lot of things when you pay attention. I had pizza and salad (one slice of pizza, it's called moderation!), and apples and pasta and sausage. And I still have a second shake to drink before I head to bed (which is good because I am getting a tad bit hungry).

It was a great first day. Never before have I started on a limited calorie meal plan where I felt less restricted, more full, and had enough energy. I know that the Arbonne Essential products are making a difference on that front.

Now tomorrow I have to walk the dog--both of us will be better for it, and if we go long enough I'll count it as my workout!

Thanks for the comments and encouragement--keep it coming!

January 26, 2011

30 days to fit...


It should be a four-letter word, because it's such an evil little thing to achieve. But this is the year of the impossible, at least, that's my goal, so FIT is on the menu.

And how nice of Arbonne to improve and expand their nutrition line just in time for me to use them to get fit. In fact, they have a 30 Day to Fit kit to aid those wanting to get fit.

So I'm going for it.

Now, I know it's going to take more than 30 days for me to reach all my goals (because I'd like to loose 100 pounds, and that's not even safe to do in 30 days), but 30 days is a start. My dear friend Rebekah suggested I blog about my journey, so here I am. I'll update you on how I'm doing, what I'm doing, and so on.

Here's the basic plan (I'm using the products but I don't have the "official" suggested plan, so I'm making my own):

2 shakes a day (love these, they are so yummy!)
2 cups of detox tea (also yummy, and no caffeine)
1-2 fizzy tabs a day (these have vitamin Bs, a boost of caffeine and some other supplements)
1-2 Fit Chews (I also love these--they hold off hunger for about 2 hours and provide a sweet treat)
1 serving of Fiber Boost

For the first seven days I'll also be doing a 7 day detox to help kick-start the process.

Daily I'm shooting for 1,800 calories, and I hope to make it to the gym every other day (well, I plan on going every day except Sunday, but I won't berate myself if I at least make it every other day!).

That's the plan--help me stick to it by leaving your comments and encouragements! I'll try to update daily on how I'm feeling (with weight updates once a week--can't get on that scale too often!).

And thanks, Arbonne, for making these products even better to help people reach their dreams. I plan on being on stage next year with a thinner, happier me!

January 15, 2011

saturday snapshot...

The cute thing in the green shirt is my friend Will--he and his sister were in The Sound of Music as part of their acting class--so very adorable!

And the precious one in green and white (on the floor) is Kayla.

January 8, 2011

saturday snapshot...

I love it when the lions pose for me--roar!

January 6, 2011

the way we eat...

Want to know a secret? For a year or so when I was younger I swore off beef. I had spent a week on a dairy farm and got rather attached to the calves that were born. But I knew that all the male calves were going to be sold for meat. So I refused to eat beef, not wanting to eat my little friend.

I eventually ate beef again, but that same little girl who refused to eat her friend still pops up from time to time. Like when I would buy eggs. Given the option, I'm much happier buying eggs from cage free chickens than ones that live in cramped quarters. Call me silly, but I think that an egg from a happy chicken is better than one from a depressed chicken.

In December, I picked up a copy of a book by a favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver, about her year of living off her own farm. It's called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and it tells how she, her husband and two daughters raised their own food for a year. They grew a garden, raised chickens and turkeys, made their own cheese even! What they couldn't raise (flour and milk were big ones for them, as they didn't keep cows) they bought from other local farmers.

Now, I don't live on a farm, but I took some big lessons away from this book. Food tastes better in season. I know, that makes sense, but how many of us pay it heed? We are so used to having tomatoes available all year, even if they taste like water and aren't any shade of red. It's crazy. The cost of transporting food, along with the time it takes, means that most of our food isn't really fresh. We are quickly driving hundreds of varieties of produce to extinction. When this country was first settled, there were so many varieties of tomatoes and lettuce and potatoes and squash--but now, with huge farms and the desire to make the perfect plant, we grow only three or four varieties.

Since I don't live on a farm, I can't exactly grow everything I eat. Let's face it, the foxes would kill any chickens I tried to raise, and I don't have a good record with gardens. But that doesn't mean that I can't make changes to how I eat.

So for the new year, I'm resolving to eat local whenever possible and eat in season. I'm going to support the farmer's market--putting more money back into our local economy, into the hands of families that are keeping some of those endangered varieties alive (it's funny, to help keep them from going extinct you have to eat them!). I'm going to support restaurants that use local produce and meat. And I'm going to eat in season as much as possible so I can really appreciate the food I'm eating. I'm going to find meat that is raised locally on cage-free/free range farms.

Is it going to be easy? Not likely. Will I have to pay a little more for my food? Probably. Am I willing to do that to make sure that I'm eating local, eating meat raised in humane and healthy conditions, and that my food isn't causing pollution and waste from being transported halfway around the country or world? Yes, I am.

Want to join me?

January 1, 2011

2010--The Tour

It’s that time—the moment when we take down the old calendar and put up a new one (well, I would, but I have yet to buy a calendar for this year). And with such a time often comes reflection and anticipation. A few of my friends have complied this list and I thought I might do the same…though there are some things I’m leaving off for reasons which will be explained shortly.

10 Things I Set Out To Do in 2010:
I did not set out to DO anything specific in 2010…I gave myself the year off from resolutions and goals and just let myself live.

10 Best Or Most Significant Events of 2010: (these are events that stand out in my mind, not necessarily as significant TO me, but significant events I was present for)

1. Deciding to become an Arbonne consultant/Quitting my job at the mall
2. Finishing my novel, Muddy Gap
3. The CP Moot
4. My birthday get-away
5. Seeing my mall boss go from boss to customer
6. Giving baskets to friends who needed some TLC
7. A midnight talk with Kale at the Moot
8. Chats with Dara at VI
9. Watching the Lunar Eclipse
10. Working on the new Sketch novel with Dara and David

10 Random Specific Moments:

1. Stargazing with CleanPlacers, praying out loud for a bright meteor and having that prayer answered within moments.
2. Kayla hiding her face against my shoulder when the sea serpent came on screen in Dawn Treader, and before it was over she was watching.
3. Will’s excitement at FINALLY getting his blanket.
4. Getting to visit my friend Tawni and her daughter while they were in the hospital—holding Kaylen, a true miracle.
5. Seeing Annie glowing as she did contact juggling at Moot
6. Having Allison at Panera ask me how my novel was going when I hadn’t even been in Panera for several months.
7. Painting a mural of “non-Kosher” animals with Dara, listening to the most random music mix, and laughing.
8. Watching the BBC version of Northanger Abbey with Kendra and Twinkie, and being rather horrified at what was done with the story.
9. Driving to Mirch Masala in freezing and snowy conditions with Twinkie so she and Dara and I could have dinner (at least I think it was 2010…)
10. Getting two roses my first month as an Arbonne consultant.

10 Favorite Albums of 2010: All my favorite albums are years old—and I couldn’t really name them anyway. I realized in 2010 that I’m not driven nearly as much by music as I thought I was, and that I can go days without it. But silence and I, now that’s a relationship to explore.

The 10 Best Places I Visited in 2010: I’m not sure I can come up with 10 as the only real trips I took were to Arizona and Denver…not very exciting on the travel front. But I might be able to come up with 10 restaurant…

1. Mirch Masala
2. El Tosoro
3. the crepes place in Denver on the 16th street mall

Okay, no…can’t do that either :P

10 Good Books I Read in 2010: Here’s one I can do with no trouble…

1. The Study Series (Poison, Magic, Fire) by Maria V Snyder
2. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
3. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
4. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
5. Changes by Jim Butcher
6. Theater of the Stars: A Novel of Physics and Memory by N.M. Kelby
7. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenburg (reread)
8. East by Edith Pattou (reread)
9. Children of God by Mary Doria Russell
10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

10 Miscellaneous Things I Learned in 2010:

1. Fear is something to be taken hold of and dealt with, and when you do, amazing things can happen.
2. The people you think will be around the longest might not be, so you should see them at every chance you can.
3. When you ask God for something big, have your running shoes on. You will need them to keep up!
4. When you make something a priority you will do it, even when you don’t have the time or energy.
5. Investing yourself in another person is always worth it.
6. I don’t deserve all the blessings in my life, but I am so thankful they are here.
7. Sometimes a hug or a smile can make it all better. (I’ve known this for a while, but it kept popping up this year).
8. God has a hysterical sense of humor, and he keeps me around just to entertain him.
9. When my toes are cold, the entire world is harder to deal with.
10. There are writers I will never be, but no other writer can write like I do—so I must write (another thing I know but need constant reminders of.)

11 Goals for 2011:

1. Be local. Eat local whenever possible (food grown in Colorado, in humane conditions, in season), be more aware of what is local, support local farmers.
2. Learn to play my guitar.
3. Lean to make pasta.
4. Become and Area Manager with Arbonne.
5. Get out of the state at least once this year.
6. Read at least one book every month that was recommended by a friend.
7. Crochet a blanket for Jake (it’s his year!).
8. Get out and stay out of my comfort zone.
9. Get and agent (I guess this was my one goal for 2010 and I failed, so it has to happen in 2011!)
10. Practice smiling at strangers.
11. Blog on a regular basis.