Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Last night I test-drove making mini-quiches from scratch. I've made them before, but it was when I weighed a lot more and everything was a huge energy-suck because I had to haul almost 100 more pounds around in everything I did. This time it was to test how long they take to make, how much they will cost us from a catering stand-point and if it's worth it versus buying them pre-made from Costco.

We have a client that is allergic to pork and I suspect that the company that makes the mini-quiches uses lard in the crust. Plus, I like the idea that we make things from scratch. I made about 20 mini-quiches and put about a dozen in the freezer and will bake them this morning for lunch or a snack to see how the freeze, reheat process went. To make the 20 mini-quiches it took me about 20 minutes including making the Pate Brisee from scratch. (I used my kitchen aid.)


Pate Brisee for 1 9 inch pie crust

2 eggs
2/3 c. heavy cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

1/2 c. grated Gruyere Cheese
Finely chopped green, red, and yellow peppers
Finely diced onions
Finely chopped fresh chives

Roll out the Pate Brisee and use Scalloped Bread Tube (Pampered Chef) to cut out mini-crusts. Using the shaping tool dipped in flour, press the crust into the mini-muffin pan wells. (Getting them centered is good - however, it turns out I'm somewhat challenged with that.)

Whisk eggs, cream and salt and pepper in bowl. (It's easiest if you do this into a bowl with a pouring spout.)

Put some cheese, peppers, and onions in each well, pour custard over the veggies being careful not to overfill (again, something I'm surprisingly bad at). Sprinkle chopped chives over top of each quiche.

Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes. Cool in pan for about 20 minutes.

To Freeze - place in single layer on sheet pan until frozen. I only froze a dozen, but I think you would want to store them in layers in a Tupperware with parchment or waxed paper in-between the layers.

To reheat - bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More about Projects

Knitting has turned out to be such a joy for me. I find I can't sit still any longer and have to be working on something. I usually find myself knitting in those cases. I wish I could just cook all the time but until Alex builds up more clientele I have to find other things to do. I just finished a pair of slippers for Maegan and am working on a pair for her to take back to Janice. I'm still half way through my stripey socks, but probably won't finish them until after Christmas at this point.

I started my new job yesterday - so far it's somewhat anti-climatic but I know once things start happening I will be crazy busy. I should have my accounts sometime this afternoon so I can get started with my work. I'm really looking forward to it but it will cut back on my knitting and scrabble time.

I was invited to a scrabble clue in Boulder, I think I will try to go but will probably get my heinie whipped. It will be good for me. I've learned so much playing with better players online so am looking forward to gaining from a group of people that play all the time. Plus, the opportunity to meet some new people will be great.

I think I will stamp the rest of my Christmas cards tonight. I really want to get them done - and probably won't have time if I put it off any longer. The other project I need to finish this week is sewing the rest of Lucille's PJ's. They are so cute - I have Pink plaid with Monkey's and Green with Frogs for her. They both go with her purple and white slippers, or "Lippers" in Lucille-speak.

Snow is moving in - good time to cozy up and eat comfort food and work on projects. Shepherd's Pie for dinner tonight with Strawberries and Ice Cream for dessert.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Snow Day

It snowed most of the night and there is quite a bit of snow outside this morning. I spent the morning watching the movie "Love, Actually" which is one of my favorite Christmas movies. So sweet and makes me choke up every time. I turned on the "Seasonal Favorites" music channel on cable so now I"m really in the mood for Christmas. Think I will get out my Debbie Mumm Snow Angels dishes for us to start using tonight.

I'm trying to get laundry done, the house cleaned and my current client project finished along with making something interesting for dinner. I bought a bottle of wine yesterday just because and since I can almost never finish a bottle of wine anymore, I think I will use some of the leftovers to make some tomato sauce and we will have lasagna for dinner. I have everything I need except Ricotta - which I have everything I need to make it so think I will go for it. I'm in the mood to putter in the kitchen. Which of course allows me to procrastinate on my other projects.

I just started the ricotta - it only took 5 minutes so not much impact on my project time. Ok - no more. I just need to get down to it. I will post an update later today. I will work on my client project for two hours, then I will get started on the tomato sauce and get the lasagna put together for later. I'm in pantry clean-out mode so this dish will do nicely. I have two boxes of noodles, 8 cans of tomatoes, about 15 pounds of onions and lots of dried herbs to use up in the sauce along with the wine. (Which I will save a glass to have with the lasagna later - it's my current $10 favorite, Insatiable Cabernet Sauvignon.)

I had better get working, I think Alex and Lucille are getting up from their nap. I'm losing my productive window pretty quickly.


I'm completely exhausted but am still sitting here writing. I just am not ready to shut my brain off yet.

My interview went very well yesterday. I had a final interview with the HR director this morning and she indicated that I should be getting an offer early next week. I'm so excited! I am thrilled at the prospect of this job. It has everything I am looking for in terms of responsibilities, the salary and the opportunity to work from home with some occasional travel. I really like the management team.

Now if it just doesn't interfere with my projects and scrabble playing. I'm sure I can figure it out.

It's snowing like crazy today which of course means I'm freezing my hind-end off. Not that I couldn't use some hind-end reduction, just wish I didn't have to be cold to get it. At least I didn't have to do any yard work today. I was too exhausted to think about it, but at least I didn't feel guilty about it.

Ok - I'm really off to bed now. I can 't believe I stayed up this late - especially when I know that Alex won't be home in the morning and I will be on grandma duty with Lucille.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I just watched the movie UP for the first time. What a lovely movie! It was the sweetest movie I have seen in a long time. I don't know if it was the anxiety I have around this job interview that made me so emotional over it, or if it was just really that touching but I teared up several times.

I'm flying out to Chicago in the morning (VERY EARLY) for a 10:30 am Central Time interview. I'm very excited and nervous about it - I really really really want this job. Partly because I need a job, but mostly because this job is the job I would create for myself. The responsibilities, the location, the money are all pluses.

I have my new interview outfit washed and ironed and ready to go. I got my hair cut (new cut - liking it it a lot - I will try to get a picture posted) and my eyebrows waxed. I'm going to practice my makeup later since I haven't worn make-up in over three months, I'm not sure I remember how.

Just got the itinerary. Six am flight - means leaving for the airport no later than 4:15 and preferably by 4:00. I guess I can sleep on the way home.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lazy Veteran's Day

This morning Alex and I checked out a newer restaurant in town, Lennie's - basically a more down-to-earth and relaxed version of Lucile's. Great food, a bit cheaper, and a really homey atmosphere. I highly recommend it. Plus, a huge point in their favor, being Veteran's day, they donated 15% of all ticket sales to three different programs in Boulder County that serve Vets.

While we were eating, Ann called to see if we wanted to join her and Haley at the Veteran's day parade. We headed up town and watched the parade with the girls. It was great - the turnout was terrific and the parade was pretty good! I was really happy to see it.
I wish I had had my camera though.

The rest of the day has been spent on working on a project for a client and making puffs for Amanda's anniversary party. According to my pastry chef daughter, my piping technique has really improved. I'm pretty happy with that praise as she is an exacting judge of all things baked. For Amanda's party, we will be filling some with smoked salmon mousse, some with chicken curry salad, and some with a vegetarian option yet to be defined.

I also made some cookies to ship off to Ft. Knox to my favorite Vet (Jeremy of course) in honor of today. I didn't grow up being terribly patriotic, howeve
r having a family member that is a vet has made me much more aware of the military and the honor we owe them. I'm happy I was able to go to the parade and scream loudly "101st! Air Assault" whenever I saw a Screaming Eagle patch with Alex and Lucille.

Picture is the start of my striped socks (after I re-knit what I had to rip out). I'm loving this yarn as it stripes itself while knitting. I think I will see if I can get some black and white yarn so I can make Bethany Wicked Witch of the West socks for next Halloween.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Long Absences and Projects

It always takes me forever to come up with a topic to write about and it has finally dawned on me that I don't need to put up pithy, well-thought out posts in the classic five paragraph essay style I learned in school. This is my blog for my thoughts and day-to-day living - so here goes. A new evolution for my blog. Maybe I'll get really crazy and misspell a few words. Although that creates havoc with my OCD.

As anyone who would probably read this blog knows, I'm unemployed so I have lots of time right now to work on projects, although I don't seem to be getting a lot done. Currently, working on getting invitations done for my dear friend Amanda's 25th anniversary party. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out, although Amanda is such a creative person and fabulous at the execution that I don't feel like they are quite measuring up. I hope she likes them....

I'm also working on several knitting projects. Currently, working on finishing a sweater for Lucille. It's purple and hooded and just needs the pockets to be finished and the lining put in. I love this sweater pattern. It's fast and easy and turns out great. I made one for Haley, Charles and Amber's little girl earlier in red with Lady Bug buttons. It's totally adorable. I also have a hat for Alex almost done and socks that I started over the weekend. I was almost half done with the first one when I realized I had dropped a stitch so far back that the only way to rescue it was to rip it out. So - now I'm about a third done with that sock. Oh well.

I'm also sewing again for the first time in years. I finally figured out that the reason I wasn't sewing was because of the state of my sewing machine. It bunched up and tangled the bobbin thread everytime I tried to make something. I finally got it serviced last spring and it works beautifully. I made Lucille a pair of Purple Jammies with butterflies with matching white slippers with purple soles and cuff (knitted of course). They are SO adorable - I want to make them for every kid in my life.

The last project I have right now is to get my Christmas Cards done in a timely manner. I didn't send them out for years and over the past four years have managed to get further on the path. The first year I got cards out just to my immediate family. Last year I got them out to more extended family and a couple of friends. This year I'm going for broke and aiming for my extended family as well as my complete circle of friends. Maybe being unemployed will help me with that goal.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Library - A not so odd place that I really love

Since I was a little girl I have loved going to the library. Reading in general is a full contact sport for me. I can't sit for more than about a minute without having words to rest my eyes on. I read constantly, at work, at home, in bed, at the doctor's office, you name, I probably read there.

I am sure it's related to the fact that my mother was a librarian at the Chetco Community Library when I was a little girl. I spent a lot of time there before I started school and later when I was getting too old for a babysitter, I would go there after school until my mother was finished with work.

I don't remember how old I was but I remember the moment I learned to read. At some point, the combination's of the letters started aligning themselves into words, opening doors I never imagined.

One of the first books I remember reading is Flicka, Ricka and Dicka. There were several in the series and I read them over and over. Next came Cowboy Sam. After that, nothing would stop me. I read Stone Soup, every Baba Yaga story I could find, The Midnight Kitchen, Where the Wild Things Are among many. I devoured books.

Soon, I discovered that books without pictures and smaller print had the same words as the picture books and the stories were more interesting. At that point, The Happy Hollisters, the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories, The Box Car Children, Mr. Poppers Penguins, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, The Mixed Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and so on.

Eventually, I graduated to Trixie Belden (who I liked better than Nancy Drew, although it didn't stop me from reading the entire Nancy Drew and Hardy boys series), Judy Blume titles, and Where the Red Fern Grows among others.

Somewhere along the line, I also became a voracious re-reader of books. I still pick up books and re-read them for the 2nd, 4th and 17th time. I think part of this is because I read so fast that I miss parts of the stories and re-reading them I pick up the details I missed the first time through, and part of it is that I love a good story and if a book is good, I will re-read it just to enjoy a well-written story again.

My father could never understand why I would re-read everything, but my mother completely understood. She once told me that re-reading a book was like finding a lost friend. She was right. Of all the things I could have inherited from my mother, I think this understanding is one of the things I appreciate the most.

My mother doesn't read anymore as a result of the advancement of Parkinson's disease. I hope she remembers all of the good stories and friends rediscovered she found during her reading years.

Right now I am reading Isabelle Allende's "Portrait in Sepia" (thanks for the loan Nancy). Recently completed the Twilight series and am eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. (I know Judi, but I can't help myself, the story is completly compelling and I love the excrutiating detail - although I don't catch a lot of it until about the 3rd read.)

I just signed into Shelfari for the first time and am populating my books read. Because of the volume, it will take me a while to get it caught up. If you want to review my list, visit and I invite you to participate. I would love to see what you are reading too.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Odd Places I Love to Go

With the recent news that the US Post Office may be closing over 3,200 offices across the country, I'm inspired to write a brief essay about some of the places that I love to go that may be considered somewhat, hmmm, shall we say "unique".

First off, the Post Office. Maybe I'm too easily impressed with this, but it never fails to amaze me that you can write three simple lines of information on an envelope, put a small sticky square in the upper right corner, and stick it in a blue box and have it arrive at it's intended destination about 99.9% of the time, usually in less than a week. The technology, systems, and man power behind getting a piece of mail to it's recipient just boggles my mind. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I love the whole idea.

Think about how the system must have worked at the onset of the United States. Most mail was delivered by friends, merchants, or other itinerants, sometimes taking months to be delivered. No centralized system was available until 1691, and that system was designed mainly to serve New York and Boston and mail coming from over the pond.

Benjamin Franklin planned and implemented has operated systems for improving mail processing, reducing delivery times by half. Carrying mail at night, mile-markers on the roads, and more efficient routes for mail carrying were all designed by Franklin in his earlier role as Colonial Postmaster General for the Crown and later as the first appointed Postmaster General for the newly formed United States. His legacy is a system that will deliver an estimated 175 Billion pieces of mail in 2009.

I could go on (but won't). Suffice it to say, I love standing in line at the post office, waiting to buy my postage, and marveling at the ability for the 3rd largest employer in the country (behind only the Dept of Defense and Wal-mart) to get the coupons my grandma clipped for me from Centralia, Washington to Longmont, Colorado in about three days.

I truly miss snail mail as I write this. Every year I resolve to write more actual letters instead of emails or twitters or Facebook posts. Now that I have brought myself to my emotional knees talking about mail, I hope I will be inspired to take pen in hand and write letters to the people I truly care about.

Another place I absolutely love going that I get a lot of grief about when I try to explain to people is the dump. Or, more the more politically correct term, the landfill. There is something about going to
the dump that is exciting to me. I think it stems from my love for the Boxcar Children series. This, along with The Happy Hollisters were the first chapter books I remember reading once I had mastered the Cowboy Sam books.

The idea that yo
u could create a full and functional life living in an abandoned boxcar with castoffs from other people and the money that brother Henry earned doing odd jobs was so romantic to me. The Boxcar Children, first published in 1942, were truly the (likely) unintended leaders of the Green Revolution.

The other part of the going to the dump that I love is the shedding of things I don't need anymore. I get the same thrill donating items to a thrift store. As I unload the discards from my car, I feel the lightening of a burden I didn't know I carried, like a reptile shedding it's skin. When I return home from these trips, I go the area I emptied out and admire the emptiness and light that results from removing the objects that once filled the space.

These are two odd places I love. I think I'm likely part of a minority that feels that way, but the feelings that result from visiting the Post Office and the dump are worth the strange looks I get when I mention how excited I am to go unload my car of envelopes, old clothes, and unwanted items.

Where do you love to go?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Eight Reasons why I Love Being 65 Pounds Thinner

1. Energy. I get up in the morning and feel like doing things. I work in my yard for an hour and still have energy to spend on other projects. I cook dinner for 15 people and manage to get the kitchen cleaned up before bed.

2. Clothes. I am one size away from shopping in the "regular" sizes again. Fat-lady clothes ARE NOT cute. They are either for teen-agers (so not me) or for blue-hairs (definitely not me). Every size I go down I'm able to find better and better clothes.

3. Legs. I can cross them. I haven't crossed my legs in 15 years and now I can't sit with them not crossed. I love being able to bounce Lucille on my crossed leg a la horsie.

4. Lap. I have one. I haven't had a lap in over 15 years either. When I sit on my couch and work on my laptop, it sits on my lap, not on the coffee table with me hunched over it.

5. Seatbelts. When I travel, I don't have to ask for the seatbelt extender. When I get into other people's cars, I don't have suck in my stomach and hope it will stretch all the way over my mid-section. I actually have room to move once the seatbelt is fastened.

6. Sleeves. Or lack thereof. This is the first summer in many that I have been willing to wear sleeveless tops in public. My arms are still fat, but the gain in how I feel overall makes me enjoy having the sun on my arms again.

7. Elevation. The last time I went to Rocky Mountain National Park, I couldn't walk across the parking lot without wheezing. Anytime I was up over about 7,000 feet, I couldn't function. Earlier this week, I was in the park and spent some time walking on paths that were in the woods (no hiking, aka death marching, was involved) and finished with air to spare.

8. Cooking. It seems counter-intuitive to enjoy cooking more after after Gastric By-pass surgery, but I do. I think it's because I enjoy the creative aspects so much more. It feels like an endeavor rather than a chore. I taste the food and move on rather than creating a feast for four with only one person at the table.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fat Pants

Now that I've lost two sizes, I have a conundrum every weight-loss patient has to resolve. What do I do with my fat pants?

Do I save them so I can take the ubiquitous picture of me in one leg my fat pants? Do I send them to a recycling service so that they can bundle them up and send them to another country for resale? (A pair could be cut down to make two pair for some lucky recipient.) Do I hang them on the wall to remind from whence I came?

None of those options really appeal to me. Here are some thoughts that I had:
  1. Send them to my skinny sister, the runner. She and and my brother-in-law are campers. They could use a pair as a summer weight double sleeping bag. One person in each leg.
  2. I could seal off the waist and cuffs, inflate them and sell them to the weather service as weather balloons.
  3. With enough tar, I could patch the roof on my house (which started leaking last night) and it would save me the $1000 deductible that my insurance company is about to charge me. Since I don't have an HOA in my neighborhood I should be able to get away with that solution for years.
  4. Maybe the Naval Signal Corps could use them? I'm sure they are cutting every budget including semaphore flag purchases these days.
  5. They would make a great car cover for a mini-cooper or VW bug. Maybe even a small sedan like a Toyota Corolla. You could use the back-pockets as a hide-a-key.
  6. If one person held onto each leg hem, they could be the finish line at the next Olympics. Hopefully the winner won't be in the center lane. Hitting the zipper tab at those would be killer. It would be a whole new type of sports injury that would need specialized treatment.
  7. Since they are stretch denim, we could attach them to a frame with spring and use them as a trampoline for the neighborhood children.
  8. Since saving money is very hip, Hollywood could use them for the down-rent openings - a denim carpet instead of a red carpet.
  9. I could send them to the Boy Scouts of America. They could use them for Pup tents. If they are cub scouts, they could use the sleeping bags. Since the BSA doesn't approve of same sex relationships, we would cut the legs apart so there are no double sleepers.
  10. Colorado and Wyoming Event planners could use them as a tablecloths for the cowboy theme weddings that are so ubiquitous around here.
  11. If there is a nun novitiate around somewhere with eight singing children to care for, they could be made into jumpers and shorts for the children.
  12. I swear I've haven't owned a pair of Pink Pants since I was five, but if I did have fat pink pants, I could donate them to the Breast Cancer Awareness cause. They could be a Pink Ribbon on a high-rise during Fund Raising Activities.
These are just a few thoughts. If you have others, share them with me. This is a critical issue for all weight-loss surgery patients. Help save us from the usual before and after pictures.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two Months

It's been almost two months since I took the plunge and had gastric bypass surgery. I am still figuring out my new system, but overall think I am past the surgery recovery.

It took me five years to make the decision to have surgery. I think there were two things that made me decide this was the right move.

1. I had cancer. A kind or cancer that was likely caused by my weight. I was paralyzed by the fear of a recurrence.

2. Someone pointed out to me that I no longer had the luxury of time. Between my age, the threat of another cancer and my worsening health, I knew it was time.

It took six months to get the procedure approved. The first request was denied, and then by a stroke of luck, the universe, or whatever, my company was purchased by a much larger company with excellent benefits. The surgeon's office resubmitted the request and in less than 5 days it was approved. I had my surgery two weeks later on February 2nd.

I need to pause here and send out a huge thank you to my friend Donna. She took time off from work to take me to the hospital and to stay with me during the early recovery. She made the process much easier and I can't thank her enough for helping me through those first days.

The hardest physical part of the surgery has been to learn when to quit eating. Several times after over-indulging, I have spent the evening with my head hanging over the toilet. It hasn't happened in a while so I am hopeful that I have learned the limits of my pouch.

The best part has been that as long as I don't overeat, I feel great. I have more energy then I have had in several years. I feel at least 10 years younger, which is a great feeling especially when I remember that I'm a grandmother.

The very hardest part has been breaking up with food. Food has been my friend, my confidante, and my shelter from the things that hurt me for a very long time. I am working daily on relearning my relationship to food. I still love to cook and eat good things, but as a very wise fellow WLS patient reminded me, now when I have dinner for four, there are four people at the table.

On of the best things happened when I got the hospital bill. I had expected it to be around $500 due to my mis-reading of the health insurance policy. When the bill arrived, it was $2,348. My first reaction was stress.

By the time I put the bill down on the table, I had completely changed my attitude. I realized that what I'm gaining from this process was worth any amount of money. I am happy to pay every penny of that bill and the others that have arrived from the surgeon, his assistant, the anesthetist, the EKG specialist, and so on.

I'm still early in my process. I have lost over 10% of my starting weight. I hope to lose the same amount in the next two months. I am down two sizes. I have lost over 12 inches in my measurements.

I have gained a healthy respect for my nemesis, food. I am learning not to hide behind it, but to face the things that frighten me instead. While I work on becoming the body and person I am meant to be, I expect my evolution to be littered with anxiety and joy, fear and confidence, as well as personal and spiritual metamorphosis.

I look forward to this movement of my life's sonata. My opus major.