Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Peaches & Cream Pie - Yes REALLY!!!

Peaches & Cream Pie (March/April 2017 - Westerville Magazine)

  • ¾ c flour
  • 1 egg (½ egg beater cup)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ c milk
  • 1 small box vanilla pudding (not instant)
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted (I use unsalted real butter)
  • 1 can (20 oz) sliced peaches (I couldn’t find 20 oz cans, so I used 1 ½ of “regular” sized cans - you can just judge by how they cover the top)
  • 8 oz cream cheese (I used small container of soft)
  • ½ c sugar
  • Cinnamon and sugar to taste for topping

Mix together flour, egg, baking powder, milk, pudding, and butter.  
Pour into a 9-in pie plate.  (You could also use a cake pan or quiche pan)

Drain peaches, saving juice/liquid.  
Lay pieces of peach on the top of batter as much as desired.  

Combine about 3 Tbsp worth of the peach juice with cream cheese and sugar and mix until creamy.  (I recommend trying a little at a time - you don’t want it too runny)
Spoon this mixture over the peaches leaving ½ in of space around the rim of the pie plate (otherwise it might run over).  

Sprinkle top with cinnamon and sugar as desired (either before or after baking).

Bake at 350 for 35 min.  

Pie will be jiggly when you take it out, but it solidifies as it cools.  

*Possible changes - chocolate pudding and dark cherries, flavored cream cheese
Many variations possible. (Next, I'm going to try this choco-cherry delight!)

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Odyssey Continues - A New Year Is Upon Us

Hello Friends,

In looking back over my blog entries, I see that I have not posted about my weight-loss progress since October.  Not a lot has happened since then, but some things have changed.

When last we talked, I was down 49 pounds at 211.  Well, that didn't last long.  It lasted all of 1 day.  Then I quickly shot back up to 215.... where I have lived for a long time.  In fact, that is what I weighed in at today!  I've bounced around in a range of 215-220, with one quick jump to 223 which scared the crap out of me!

Earlier in the fall, when I saw my Doc, I had talked to her about the fact that I had stopped losing, and she asked about the points that Weight Watchers had me on.  I told her, and she asked if that was the same as I had been on from the start. Yes, it was.  She said that to her that doesn't make sense because if I weigh 45 pounds less, don't I need fewer calories to maintain my weight now than I did when I was at 260?  Well, yes, it would seem so. So why would WW have me on the same calorie intake?  I posed that question to my WW group leader, and she insisted that WW says I need to stay on the same point total.  She also told me that I was welcome to try eating less, but she warned me that starving myself wasn't going to be helpful.

After that conversation, I decided to make some changes to see if it would help.

  1. I stopped eating anything at all after dinner.
  2. I increased my water intake.
  3. I reduced the percentage of points I was devoting to snacking and increased my protein.
  4. I increased my daily walking as long as the weather was nice.
None of those changes really made a significant difference. 

When I went to see my family Doc for my 6 month check up in December, as I was planning my visit, I had a revelation.  The fact that I had stopped losing seemed to happen around the same time as my June visit when she had decreased my Metformin dosage from 2000 mg/day to 1000.  Of course, I was thrilled to reduce the meds, but I started to wonder if there was a chance that it had been helping me lose.  I asked her, and she said it is possible.  She then gave me permission to play with my dosage and see if it could help.  She also suggested that I see an endocrinologist in the practice.

My meeting with the endocrinologist was last Friday.  I was very impressed with him.  He was very thorough.  He asked for more blood and urine tests so he can look at some elements of my thyroid situation, as well as my diabetes.  He also asked me to get a thyroid ultrasound which I have not had for about 9 years.  We talked a little about changing my thyroid meds to a brand that has more fine-tuned dosages and is more stable, but he put that on hold for now until he sees the ultrasound results.  In the meantime, he is having me start a diabetes drug called Invokana.  I am to continue my Metformin at 2000 mg/day, but I am adding this new one.  It is supposed to help me eliminate more sugar in my urine.  I am going to try it for 4 weeks and then go back to see him again.  So far, I've only taken it for 2 days and nothing bad has happened, so I guess my body is tolerating it.

He and I also discussed the WW points, and he seemed to agree with my Doc, that my calorie intake may be too high now.  He also made the point that increasing my activity might be better than decreasing my intake as long as I am making healthy eating choices.  Now that the weather is better, I'm going to increase my walking, and even when the weather isn't great, I can walk at school.
Fingers crossed that this works!

So, that's where things stand.  I will keep you posted!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thoughts and Actions 18 Days Out

Warning:  This is going to be about politics, so if you are not in the mood, close this window now and find something more pleasant to do.

Here we are on Nov. 26, 18 days from the election and 17 days from the onset of Post Traumatic Election Day Disorder.  As I discussed in my previous entry, I experienced some guilt after my candidate lost the election.  I was disappointed in myself that I had not done anything more than vote for her.  No yard sign, no phone calls, nothing.  I am now working to find things that I can do to help right the wrong that has been inflicted on my country.  Here is what I’ve done so far:

1. I have revived my old Facebook page and am posting information on it, as well as using it to try to learn things.  It’s not perfect, but it does link me to information that I might not otherwise have seen.  

2. One thing I found on Facebook (or maybe got from Hubs?)  was a link to a Petition on Change.org.  The petition is asking the Electors in the Electoral College to refuse to vote for Trump on Dec. 19.  Hubs and I have both signed it, and Hubs sent some money to support this particular effort.   As of now, over 4.6 million people have signed it.  You can find a link to the petition here.   I also sent info about it to a bunch of friends through email and I linked to it on Facebook (but I didn’t have too many friends there yet at that point).  
After the petition signing, I received an email from the man who started the petition indicating that there is a follow-up where they are asking for volunteers to commit to some other actions.  They listed 7 items in a checklist for volunteers to select:
  • Write a letter to the editor - I didn’t select this one, although I have since thought that I might write an open letter to either Gov. Kasich or one of my senators.  That is still in the thinking stages.
  • Participate in a protest on Dec. 19 - I will not be doing this.  
  • Make direct phone calls - without knowing whom I would be calling or what I would be asked to say, I didn’t commit to this.  If I had more information, I might do this.
  • Share content online daily - I checked this one, and I have been posting relevant articles to my Facebook page (more about this in a bit).
  • Print out and distribute printed materials at public events and locations - as with the phone calls, I felt I needed more info about this before I could commit to it.
  • Make a donation to support petition efforts - This has already been done in our household.
  • Talk about the petition with 1 new person every day - I checked this one even though I don’t necessarily see one new person every day.  However, I will mention it as the opportunity arises.  
As of this posting, I have not received any response to having checked off some items - perhaps mine didn’t go through, or perhaps the people running the petition campaign are overwhelmed with responses?

3. From Moveon.org I learned about the Postcard Avalanche.  This campaign is asking everyone to send postcards of their state to Trump telling him to NOT appoint Stephen Bannon.  Hubs did 6 cards and I did six cards.  They were mailed today.  

I still feel as if I am in that initial reaction stage of “first thing I think about when I wake up and last thing I think about when I go to bed.”  On Thurs, Hubs and I were talking about something else, and I was totally lost in the other subject, and then he randomly mentioned the name Trump, and it felt like I had been poked with a hot stick.  It was not pleasant to be jolted back into reality.   I am still shocked and dismayed that so many of my fellow countrymen would actually support a man like Trump.  Not only is this disappointing, it is confusing.  I want to understand the real reasons people would make that choice.  I am generally optimistic enough to believe that there are enough good people in this country who can turn this around, and I truly want to believe in the checks and balances that our government has in place.  I am very frustrated by all the comments I am hearing in the media about how we all just need to get over it and accept it and move on, or how we need to come together for the good of the country.  The huge potential for the ruin of our great country is looming large, and I don’t appreciate being told to “get over it”.  What has happened here in the last 18 months is complex, and there aren’t simple answers to it.  

I am trying to stay informed, and also trying to focus on the things in my world that I can control. I am also resolved not to let the bad decisions that others have made ruin the good life that I have.  

So, that’s where I am.  If any of my regular readers would like to discuss any of this, let me know.  

Thanks for reading.  I’ll talk to you again soon, I’m sure!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

THIS IS US - My New Favorite TV Show

THIS IS US is a new NBC show that started in September.  Currently, it is broadcast on Tuesday evenings at 9:00 pm on my local NBC station.  

Those of you who know me, know that I was.... am.... a huge fan of Downton Abbey.  That was a show that I looked forward to and savored every minute of.  This is Us is like that for me.  I look forward to watching it every week, and I savor every minute it is on.  Then when an episode is over, it is over too soon - I want more.  

The premise of the show is based on the Pearson family:  Dad, Jack (played by Milo Ventimiglia), Mom, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and their 3 "triplets" sort of.  Rebecca got pregnant during Super Bowl XIV (January 1980).  9 months later, she gave birth to 2 healthy fraternal twins named Kevin and Kate (as adults, played by Justin Hartley and Chrissy Metz), but the 3rd baby was still-born.  As Jack looked in the hospital nursery window, he struck up a conversation with a fireman standing next to him.  It turns out the fireman had just brought in a baby that was left at the fire station.  This was a black boy who was in a crib next to Kevin and Kate.  As Jack and Rebecca dealt with their grief over losing their 3rd triplet, they decided to adopt the abandoned baby.  Originally they named their third baby Kyle, but they changed his name to Randall when he was still an infant.  As an adult, Randall is played by Sterling K. Brown.   

Actors of the Pearson family - Dad Jack, Mom Rebecca, Randall, Kevin and Kate

 One of the most amazing elements of the structure of the show is the way it flips back and forth through time.  Much of it is set now, but every episode has flashbacks to the early years of the family showing connections between what happened to everyone in the past and how that has shaped them into who they are now.  We first meet Jack and Rebecca when she is still pregnant.  They have just moved into a new home which has not yet been decorated, so there is nothing visual that dates them... for awhile.  It isn't until we see the inside of the hospital, where people are smoking, that we realize the time is not current.  The "now" part of the show starts on the 36th birthday of the triplets.  Each one is dealing with something emotional and dramatic.

Through the episodes, we watch the kids as they are growing up.  How they interact with each other and others outside the family helps us see how their personalities formed and relationships developed.  The family is loving and very close, but they are not without problems.  Tension mounts between Kevin and Randall as they compete for the attention of their parents. and Kate struggles with her own self-image as she learns to navigate the world as a chubby child.

For me, the most intriguing thing is the layers of complexity that are interwoven in the script.  Each episode peels back a few more layers, helping us get to know everyone more deeply.  As we get to know them more, the affection for them builds.  The situations they deal with feel very real, and the individuals feel very real.  The two realities that I connect the most with come from Kate and Randall.

Kate is dealing with her weight which has been a problem for her almost her entire life. She went from being a chubby child to being an extremely overweight woman.  She finds herself at a place in her life where her weight problems overshadow everything else.  It affects her ability to have a romantic relationship and even to hold down a job. After having tried traditional weight-loss techniques, Kate announces at the end of this week's episode that she is going to have gastric bypass surgery.   The actress Chrissy Metz has revealed that weight loss is actually in her contract with the show.  (Article about Chrissy's own battle.)

Randall is dealing with having been adopted.  He always knew he was adopted because the racial difference was obvious, and as a child, he kept a notebook with hash marks for other black people that he saw.  Even though he was clearly loved by his adoptive mother and father, he always felt there was something missing.  When we meet him on his 36th birthday, he has just located and met his biological father William Hill who then becomes part of his life and actually moves into Randall's home.  

William (played by Ron Cephas Jones) is a former drug addict who gave up his baby after the love of his life died in childbirth.  By the time Randall finds him, he is dying of stage 4 stomach cancer.  While the viewers have known this for awhile, this week's episode revealed to Randall that his adoptive mother Rebecca had actually known William for most of Randall's life and had even sent William updates on Randall's growth.  Learning that his mother had kept this from him was devastating to him.  Here is a photo of the first meeting of William and Rebecca when Randall was still a baby. 

Kevin's issues as an adult are interesting albeit not as personal to me.  He is a successful Hollywood actor who quits a TV show that has made him a star because it feels phony to him.  He was "The Manny", and the producers seemed hell-bent on showing him shirtless to delight viewers.  On his 36th birthday. he quits the show and flies to New York to pursue a stage career which he believes will be more meaningful.  He is quickly cast in a play opposite a woman named Olivia who (of course) becomes a love interest of his.  She has her own complex issues which have left her with a very surly attitude. We are just starting to learn more about her.   

Basic plot summaries of the episodes can be found here on Wikipedia.

You can also watch previous episodes on the main NBC link here.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the show if you are already a fan.  What are your favorite parts?  What can you relate to?

Thanks for visiting!  Have a Wonderfully Happy THANKSGIVING!


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

And Now What?

It's been a week.  Now what?

My initial feeling of guilt and my reaction of wanting to do "something" resulted in my charging up an old Facebook account that had been dormant for some 7 years or so.  I actually asked a few people to "friend" me.  I was thinking that by being on Facebook I could see the social movement that is fueling the protests and the movements for change.  I signed the Change.org petition.  That's something, right?

Facebook isn't looking so attractive to me anymore.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that Facebook is fueling the hatred and not doing much to fuel calm.  I need calm.  I want to know what's going on, and I want to get more involved in something positive for change, eventually, but right now I want calm.  I want my happy life back.

One of the things I told Hubs last week was that I'm not going to let other people who made bad decisions ruin the good life I have.  Right now, THAT is more important to me than anything else.

There are 59 million people in this country that scare the crap out of me right now.  I'm not sure what to do with that fear.  I'm not sure how to stay positive.

I am trying to stay busy.  I'm trying to lose myself in the busy work of school and home and shut out the fear I have.  It works for awhile each day.  I am trying to distract myself by doing things I enjoy like watching my new favorite show on TV (This Is Us).  That works for awhile.  I'm trying to walk out in the beauty of the fall season around me.  That works for awhile.  I keep trying to tell myself that there are more sane people than crazy people in this country, and the sane ones are going to prevail.  That works for awhile.  I have to keep believing that good things will happen.  If I don't believe that, then my happy life isn't happy anymore.  I am an optimistic person by nature.  I always have been.

So that's "now what".  Optimism in the face of fear.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Post Election Stress Disorder - My Take-Aways After A Week of Intense Emotions

Today’s blog entry is going to be painful to write, but I am hoping that sharing my feelings and thoughts will be cathartic for me and perhaps my readers will glean something from it as well.  If you don’t want to immerse yourself in the horrors of the last week, stop reading now.  Spoiler alert: I will talk about who won and lost the election and whom I voted for.  If you don’t want to know any of those things, stop reading now. If you are brave enough to walk with me here, put on your emotional armor and proceed… perhaps a glass of wine will help? (Notice I said a glass not a bottle. Just sayin’)

My first inclination is to refer to my week as a roller coaster ride, but I can’t decide if that is really accurate.  Using the symbol of a roller coaster implies there are highs and lows.  I’m not sure I can find very many real “highs” in the last few days.  However, I guess on a roller coaster, even the high points on the track fill the rider with fears of what’s to come as the car prepares to go down the really big hill.  I will stick with the roller coaster analogy as long as we understand that the ride is terrifying from start to finish even as we move up the hill before going down the other side.

I am going to assume that all of my intelligent readers are aware by now that we just had a major political election, where the US elected a man named Donald Trump as the next President.  If you know that, you also know that a woman named Hillary Clinton did not win the election to be President.  
*Spoiler Alert*  I voted for Hillary Clinton.  

My dread began on Tuesday evening as the numbers on the TV screen were not adding up to what I wanted them to add up to.  I think it was around 9 pm that the realization started to happen…. There really WAS a chance he would win.  I hung on to hope until 2 am when I went to bed as all the Hillary supporters who were gathered at the Javits Center were dismissed to go home.  Nothing would be announced tonight, the man told us.  And then I woke up at 6 am………  and then I saw the news and I REALLY woke up.  

One of my friends later said, “It’s like someone died.”  For me, that’s not quite it.  It is more a feeling of impending doom clouded in fear and disbelief.  I can equate it to the feeling I experienced after 9/11.  And … this was 11/9….  Wow (Ok, that is too creepy!)  Anyway, I don’t want to trivialize what happened on 9/11 by equating my feelings about the 2 events, but let me explain.  One of the things I remember thinking after 9/11 was “How long is it going to be before this isn’t the first thing we think about when we wake up in the morning and the last thing we think about when we go to bed at night?”  I don’t know how long that was for me after 9/11.  Weeks, certainly.  Months, maybe.  Years, no.  4 years?  Absolutely not.  So in that way this is different.  I try to keep reminding myself that it was JUST an election and no one has died.  Yet.  Still, am I going to feel like this for the next 4 years?  How long will it be before the first of many tragedies happen that are a direct result of who is now president?

I have now voted in every election since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.  In the fall of 1980, I actually hung a John Anderson sign in my dorm room window at BGSU.  (Gosh, I wonder where that sign ended up?) I can remember crying when the election went to Reagan, and fearing that we were all doomed to the nuclear holocaust that Reagan was going to bring down on us.  Even that fear didn’t have the impact of the fear I have now.  Maybe it’s because I was just 21 and didn’t really know that much about history and politics and the world back then.  Maybe it’s because as bad as Reagan was, he wasn’t THIS bad.

Every election year since then I have proudly displayed campaign signs for my candidate.  I had Obama signs in my yard - twice.  I had Gore signs in my yard before that.  I had Clinton/Gore signs before that.  Dukakis?  Probably.  I think.  Maybe I didn’t have a yard then? (Do we see a pattern here?)  Anyway, this time, I didn’t put any Hillary signs in my yard.  Isn’t that interesting?  Why didn’t I?  Was it because I was only half-heartedly supporting her?  No.  Was it because I voted for her as a vote “against him” rather than “for her”?  No.  It was because I was afraid.  It was because I didn’t trust Trump supporters not to do something harmful to my house or my car.  Driving through my neighborhood, I saw very few yard signs this year - for either candidate.  That says a lot about how heated this campaign season was.  Perhaps both sides were afraid.  How sad is that?

Now I feel a sense of guilt as well.  If only I had planted a sign in my yard and stood up for my convictions.  If only I had worked at a call-center for Hillary.  If only I would have walked a route of literature drops.  If only I would have sent a letter to the editor.  If only I would have done SOMETHING more.  Maybe it would have made a difference.  Given the numbers in Ohio, that is probably not likely, but I still feel the guilt.  Feeling that guilt makes me want to do something now.  I just haven’t figured out quite what that is.  I’m starting with Blog Entries, I guess.

I have more to say, but it is going to have to wait until another day.

Thanks for wading through this... I'll see you again soonly!


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fall in Ohio

Today, Hubs and I walked at a local park that we like to call "Our Park" because it is so close to home.  It is actually part of the Franklin County park system - Inniswood MetroPark.  This park has a large group of very dedicated volunteers who lovingly tend every little bud and leaf.  In October, they decorate for Halloween, and we happened to arrive this morning just as the decorating was being finished.  I hope you enjoy my photos of our stroll through an Ohio October.  I don't think we are at the peak of color here yet - at least not everywhere.

Thanks for joining us on this lovely walk!

I'll see you again soonly!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Odyssey Continues - Mid-Fall Report

Hello Friends,

Since it has been awhile, I decided it was time to give an Odyssey update. I have made some changes recently, and I also did some analysis today.

Let’s start with news for October:
  • On October 1, I saw the first new number on the scale in 4 months.  I started my day with 212 # on the scale.  The previous Nakey Morning Low was 214 # on May 29.  That is over 4 months with no numbers showing up on the scale.  EEK!
  • Today, I saw 211 # for the first time in this journey.  That puts me at a new low of -49 total loss since September 2015.  WHEE!

Here are some stats for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing:
  • From Sept 1 to March 20, I lost 40#.  
    • Sept = 10, Oct = 10, Nov/Dec = 10, Jan/Feb/Mar = 10
  • From March 20 to May 29, I lost 6#
  • June/July/Aug/Sept, I lost nothing - bounced around in the same 5 pound range.
  • Oct loss is 3#, so far.

The patterns shown here are very interesting to me.  The trend - that it takes longer and longer to lose - presents interesting challenges.  I
wasn’t really surprised that I didn’t lose over the summer because I was really off plan during vacations.  For the month of June when I had two vacations where I was eating in restaurants almost every day, I had a net gain of about 3-4 pounds, then I spent most of July losing that.  I really expected to gain more and to take longer losing it, so overall, I was pleased with the summer.  Once I went back to school, the routine helped a lot, and it was easy to be back on plan.  However, I expected to start losing again.  The fact that I didn’t scared me a bit, so it was a huge relief to finally start seeing new numbers.  

The frustration with my slow loss the last 2 months has led me to some soul searching.   As I was starting this journey, a big part of it for me was about understanding that this is not a diet, it is a lifestyle change.  Over the months of using the WW plan, I’ve learned how to make healthier choices for myself.  This is about food intake, certainly, but it is also about activity level, sleep, stress - in other words, the WHOLE me.  The fact that I’ve lost 49 pounds, is a huge accomplishment that I am proud of.  I am now about where I was in college - 35 years ago.  I have totally overhauled my wardrobe and am now in mostly all new clothes.  YAY!  My proud docs have reduced all of my meds.  YAY!  And Hey!  I can cross my legs again!  YAY!  I can now actually take pride in my appearance instead of always trying to hide myself.  Maybe I need to relax and enjoy what I’ve accomplished and not stress-out over the slow progress?  What if this is my body’s new normal, and it is happy here!  I think I can live with that!

Certainly, I want to keep going.  My big goal is to get below 200.  At this rate, it may take another year to get there.  I have no reason to believe I will regain what I have lost.  My new lifestyle is now part of how I define who I am.  

So, that’s the news for now.  I will keep you posted as things change…. Or not, as the case may be.

Thanks for your continued support!  My cheerleaders have been a huge help along the way!

Come back again soonly!

:) Amy

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Weird Dream

It is a joke in my house that I have a lot of weird dreams. Hubs calls them “AmyDreams” and notes that they often deal with things that frustrate or scare me. Last night I had the strangest dream I’ve had in a long time, and I really can't connect it to any personal frustrations or fears.

The setting was the bedroom of the house I lived in when I was growing up in Lima from age 7 to 16.  In this dream however, I was my adult self. As I awoke one sunny morning, I noticed a huge praying mantis on the inside of the window to the side of my bed. By “huge” I mean a body of maybe 2’ long. I reached out and touched it, and it waved a leg at me. This mantis was new to me, but I wasn't afraid of it. I was more curious than anything else.

As I watched this insect, it started walking slowly clockwise away from me. It moved across the drapes that hung beside the window to the wall and eventually it walked across my tall hutch where it stopped for a break.

With one eye on the large visitor, I started getting dressed. I also talked to it. I said, “I don't know if you have a name, so I’m going to call you George even though I don't even know if you are male or female.” Again, it waved a leg at me as if it could understand me.

Continuing its counter-clockwise movement, it crossed another set of drapes and the front window and headed toward the closet which I had left open. As I watched, it went to the shelf above the hanger rack and got in between some items about in the center. George then looked like he was settling in for a nap, so I left the room.

When I came back later, I looked into the closet, and in the place of the mantis was a small man sitting on the shelf. He was dressed in a little beige suit the same color as the mantis had been.  As I stood looking at him, he said, “My name is Christopher.”  About this time my husband entered the room and joined me to look at the miniature man.

Christopher told us that he appreciated our hospitality. He explained that he has been traveling the country staying with various relatives until they grow tired of him, and then he moves on. He said he didn't have long to live, and he was trying to see everyone one last time.

We left the room and then Hubs said to me that since Christopher was homeless, maybe we could let him live in our downtown apartment. (What?) I told him I didn't think that was a good idea. The next time we went into the room, we looked for Christopher on the shelf, but he was gone.  We looked all around the room and found no trace of our new little friend.

The End!

How totally weird is that?! At least it was entertaining and not upsetting! Maybe my muse was just getting me to write something creative in my blog to entertain my readers?  I hope you were entertained!

Thanks for visiting! Stay tuned for more, coming soon!

:) Amy

Thursday, September 8, 2016

It's Finished!!!

I can't even contain my excitement!  The Art Glass Doors were put up today.

TA DA.....

..... and that's all I've got to say!  I'm going to go sit and look at my magnificent art!