Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays!

The cookies are out, the kitchen is still in shambles, but now I must set out to pack for a break from my everyday to travel to the other side of the country to visit my soon-to-be in-laws.

I may be completely entertained by nieces, in-laws and the sites of a world outside of California so I may actually forget about the Internet for a few days. If I don't check back in, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and have a happy new year!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Plea to the Office

Please stop tempting me with the tasty goodness that comes from your kitchens or other well meaning establishments. All of the holiday cheer and sharing is really starting to weight heavy on my waist, butt and thighs. I am incapable of walking by without a nibble, and a return trip is usually hard to resist. (I don't know where I got this need to partake in all foods offered, especially when free).

Yes, I realize that I have happily given to the same cause with a healthy helping of cookies from home, and I found it hard to resist even my own offering. But please! I beg you! Make it stop!

or I'll just throw out my scale when I get home, which could work just as well.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bloglines says I have 94 new posts to read

Just wanted all to know that I hope to be able to catch up on reading all of your blogs very soon. It's been a few weeks of not reading much as I try to re-prioritize things. And my evenings have been a little busy with the baking fun as of late.

Happy Holidays all!

Let the Cookie Extraviganza begin!

This past weekend I started baking. And baking I did!

Snowflake Butter Cookies - predecorationWhen it comes to holiday baking, I don't make one or two varieties, nor do I make single batches. Since my baking is my gift to people, and it is my passion, I take it very seriously. Let's just say that our little townhouse kitchen is in full blown "production mode" and we have been eating take-out almost every meal (except last night when baking stopped so corned beef and cabbage smells could fill the space instead).

I never realize how much prep and shopping goes into this annual endeavor and I think it grows each year. I spent Thursday and Friday evenings making doughs that needed to be refrigerated. Since Thursday, I have been to various grocery stores, craft stores, health food stores and kitchenware stores for ingredients and supplies for this year's holiday baking event and gift giving.

Sunday night I ran out of a key ingredient in the decorating of my one decorated number, and last night I went to 5 stores between work and home, to find that my neighborhood Micheal's had finally stocked the shelf. I so should have just gone to the fancy cake decorating place by my work but I knew I would spend entirely too much time and money there as I would not be able to leave with one little bottle of sparkly goodness. Just see here... how drab would these babies be without that extra wow factor?
Snowflake Butter Cookies
I still have more baking to do, and then the wrapping of the little precious buttery bites will begin. And sometime between then and Christmas day, when we fly off to visit Eric' sister, I will get out to deliver some tasty treats to my family of friends. Hmm... maybe Christmas Cards will wait yet another year. I think I'm running out of time.

Here is what I've completed so far:
Gingerbread Bites
Gingerbread Bites (1"x 1")

Snowflake Butter Cookies
Decorated Butter Cookies

Mexican Wedding Cakes
Pecan Snowballs (aka:Mexican Wedding Cakes or Russian Tea Cakes)

Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Biscotti
Hazelnut & Cherry Biscotti (and one batch without the Cherries because Eric like's them like that, go figure!)

Coconut Macaroons
Coconut Macaroons (these will be half dipped in chocolate..maybe)

Still to come:
Pistachio Spice Cookies
Sand Tarts (Eric's childhood favorite)
Amaretti (for my SIL)
more Pecan Snowballs (because the 100 I made went to the office, although I think I ate a dozen on the drive in)
more Biscotti (office. gone. went poof.)

Special thanks goes out to Amy for helping me laugh while we iced those cookies, and to Liz for going through my many photos to pick the best one's for this post.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Yummy Chicken Goodness

As I watched this year's Biggest Loser Finale last night, I realized that every week while I watch this show I eat my most crappiest meal of the week, and tend to overeat as well. And, quite often my therapy sessions are on the same night as Biggest Loser, so I'm getting home late and justify stopping at Panda Express to get me a fast, yummy, and comforting meal.

Of course this meal is also at least twice the size I would eat if I made dinner at home, and 1/3 of the meal is deep fried, because how can I not get the Orange Chicken! Granted I do get veggies instead of rice or noodles, but that doesn't mean I need to eat all of the spicy sweet fried morsels of chicken even though I know I'm already full and WILL PAY in about an hour when I lay down to go to bed.

I look down at my Styrofoam tray after I have eaten all of the veggies, and the tofu and eggplant I always get. I look at the pile of yummy chicken goodness I always leave to last because I am the type that saves my favorite. I always think that maybe I'll leave some for leftovers and really I shouldn't eat it all because it is the most unhealthy thing on my plate. And then I dive in.

Oh my goodness it's so good. And of course I'm watching TV all the while and not really paying attention to how full I'm getting. And then there are 4-5 pieces left. Enough to be a fine dinner the next night if I stir fry up some veggies. But do I really want to dirty up a storage thingy with these five pieces? Plus they'll get soggy. And the justification continues, and just like that they are gone.

I eat like this as I sit there watching and crying along with these people I'm watching on TV who are changing their lives to be healthier for themselves and their families. The trainers look to the camera and say "You can do it too, and you don't need to wait until January 1st. Start now!". Yea yea yea, just let me finish my yummy chicken and then I'll start.

Over the last year I have been trying to learn when to stop eating, to recognize emotional eating, and to generally just be more aware of what I'm putting into my body. When I first started this process I admit I was a little obsessive about it, even though the primary goal wasn't to loose weight but more to change my eating habits and to take the time for myself. The goal was to change myself before I have kids so that healthy eating and moving was natural and not a big deal. Eric also calls this process 'de-toxing' and 'baby prep'.

Sure, it's easier when the motivation is for someone else, or towards some other goal, but really I'm learning how to love me and to want to do this for me first. But damn, that Orange Chicken is really good.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Honey, You're Getting Drool in Your Cereal!

Eric has a habit of flipping on the TV whenever he is eating. We both know it's not the best habit as you fail to pay attention to what you're eating and tend to overeat, and it is very easy to loose track of time and watch TV much longer then planned.

This morning I came downstairs to him flipping on the tube while he sat down with his Wheatabix and Soy Milk (blech!). He reach for el'Tivo's remote and started going through the pre-recorded selections to accompany his morning meal. He seemed to hover on the Victoria's Secret runway show I had recorded for him (I'm a giver after all). He looked at me guiltily, and I said, "Go ahead, we recorded it for you!"

So he selected it and sat grinning as his Wheatbix slowly disappeared, and I even got up to get him a second bowl so his watching was undisturbed, even though he claimed it was so he wouldn't bother the cat that had decided to bed down on him. I looked at the clock and said I had to head out for work, and he turned off the TV. He claims that somehow, watching it with me there was a little less scummy.

Silly boy! I totally know he turned it back on once I shut the door.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Something happend

On my drives home from work I have been listening to an audio book on depression, The Noonday Demon: an Atlas of Depression, by Andrew Solomon. As you can imagine this isn't the most uplifting thing to pump into your head after a long day at work, but it has been rather liberating. It has taken me a few weeks to listen to the whole book and along the way I have learned a lot about myself.

This book was recommended to me by my therapist to learn about depression as I was asking how to live, love and support someone with depression (Eric has been learning to live and cope with depression his whole life and is finally on a real path of functioning and living). I'm sure my therapist knew that I would also learn about myself through the experience of this book. She gave me the CD's at our last session where all we did was talk about Eric and the difficulties we've had as a couple as he has been learning to let go, experience anger, connect on new levels, discover his passions, commit and grow.

When I saw her a month and a half ago, we knew I was struggling at work and had seen touches of rough patches but things weren't that bad. Then I started seeing a real pattern to my inability to do stuff. Stuff I wanted to do, but couldn't find the motivation to actually do and then I'd be upset with myself for not just getting off my duff to do the simplest things.

Life was getting harder, but there was nothing profoundly wrong, I just wasn't doing much. I was still able to get up and go to work. I showered and was clean but I stopped caring about my appearance beyond not being obviously dirty. I'd get to work and sit. I'd stare. I'd read. I'd think I had worked all day but then when I went to report my progress there wasn't much to report on. Then I'd go home. I'd sit and stare at the TV, or the computer. I wasn't cooking anymore, I didn't care what we had for dinner, and I wasn't doing the dishes (I ALWAYS DO THE DISHES). Laundry piled up. Bills weren't being paid. Mail covered the table. I couldn't focus on the stuff that really mattered. I did the minimum - and somehow part of that minimum was NaBloPoMo, it was something to focus on that didn't feel like real life, it was an escape.

I started recognizing parts of my life and my thoughts in the stories told in the book. I began to accept that maybe I was really experiencing depression, something I was scared to death of because I had seen what Eric had gone through and the thought of a mental illness didn't seem to fit. Mental illness means you are crazy, doesn't it? That's what I felt, not what I believed or knew to be true, but it's what I felt. Friends started mentioning maybe I might want to take medication. But I still thought only weak people take medication. I can get through this. But Eric is on medication and look how much better he is. Do I think he is weak? Or is it that if I go on medication that means I have to tell someone what I'm feeling, and have to admit that I need help and that I have a problem.

Listening to the book taught me a lot. It taught me about the emotional, physiological, economical, political and sociological aspects of depression. I gained a greater respect and understanding of what Eric and all people living with this challenge go through. The numbers of who are affected by depression are truly staggering, and so many people don't even know it. Knowing it, really deep down knowing it is actually less scary then I thought.

On Wednesday night, about 30 minutes before I was to leave to go sit in traffic and inch my way to my therapy appointment, I took a regular dose of generic Excedrin and a dose of generic Sudafed. The sinus headache I had was still hanging out and I hadn't eaten much of anything for a few days. My therapist called me to start my session while I was on the road because traffic was worse then I anticipated. I told her all of my discoveries and experiences since I had last talked to her and a few that happened earlier which were still weighing heavily on my heart. As I talked, the headache I was plagued with lessened. I was sure it was the drugs, but after my session ended in her office I was hungry. Hungry for the first time in almost a week.

I had asked Eric to meet me at her office as I was sure it would be an emotional and hard session. But I was happy. I was able to hug him and it felt really good, better then it had felt in a long time.

Sure I still have a slight headache because really I have been sick, and my appetite isn't back 100% but something happened that night when I told my stories. A pressure that no pain drug was alleviating has been lifted.

For the last few days, I have been waking with more energy then I've had for months, and have been more productive and able to focus. I am not full speed ahead by any means, but damn it, feels good to feel again.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ohhh New Food Blog

When logging into blogger today I noticed a new post in the Blogger Buzz (the blogger buzz which is generally used to promote themselves and little tidbits). Harold McGee has a blog and I am most excited about this find.

For those that don't know, Harold McGee is a Yale lit professor turned food science writer. He was fascinated by how stuff in the kitchen worked so he started studying, and researching, and testing ideas, and then wrote it all down.

He has two books which I have perused, but still don't own (they are on my wishlist for those of you who might like to know). I adore food science, simply am mesmerized by it. I always enjoyed chemistry and biology, which is probably why the 2 classes I enjoyed the most in school were Food Science and Butchery. I have a rather science focused head, so when I heard about these books I knew I must read them. I have been looking to continue my food learning because I'm starting to loose the information since I'm not using it as much these days, so I see these books and his site as a form of continued learning and exercise for the brain.

Harold apparently already has a site where he had been adding entries, but he is testing out the Blogger Beta and that is how he got the little Blogger Buzz featurette. More traffic for him, and a little good Beta media for Blogger. I don't usually read the Blogger Buzz Blog, so this was a nifty marketing ploy to get me to check it out. Nice work Blogger/Google Marketing!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Boo Hoo Poor Me Time is OVER - It's cookie time!

Ok so I posted it, but I'm so having issues with the fact that I just posted that. Really, it sounds so down and poopy. I hate being down and poopy. So enough of that bid-ness.

It's time for holiday cookie fun!
The rest of my lunch break I shall focus on what holiday cookies I am going to make, while keeping my baking obsession in check and at a sane level if you will. You should see how over-my-head I've been in past years with the number of varieties and number of people I want to give to... ohhh weeee, but they have been mighty tasty!

The goal this year it to do large batches of simple cookies. Because it's something I grew up doing, I will have to do one more labor intensive cookie which is a decorated butter cookie. It has gotten pretty fancy these last few years, but maybe I'll try a more simple design so I can produce a larger number. I also have my other holiday cookie standards, but I like to switch things up each year.

What kind of cookie or sweet treat do you think of this time of year?

Facing the truth

So I'm at work today, and I'm getting lots of people telling me to go home. I'm able to work, and I'm not coughing all the time like most of this office seems to be doing, I just have the headache and the lack of appetite. Ok, and the glowing screens don't help me much, but I was starting to feel really bad yesterday. Not just bad sick, but bad bad. Like more and more depressed, and falling into more and more of a sedentary way of not doing anything.

I'm afraid of depression. It scares me to not be in control. I need to move everyday and to think and to talk to people and to be made to do stuff, or I feel like I am going to fall. And fall hard.

I have been dealing with a low-grade depression for a while now, and I am just now starting to come to terms with it. I generally don't feel sad, but productively doing stuff is becoming harder and harder. I have a hard time functioning at work, at home, and in general my life. The last month has been the hardest as I am loosing the feeling of control, and me getting sick is freakin' scaring me as I found myself just sitting there. Sitting and sleeping. I love to drive and I asked Eric to drive me places, I asked him to be with me all the time. I didn't want to be alone. It's starting to freak me out.

So here I am at work today. Trying to keep a sense of routine and normalcy. I am working and that is good because it has been very hard for the last month. I'm not able to eat though, and sadly the team went to lunch today and I couldn't stomach the idea of sitting in a smelly restaurant. I live for company paid meals and being social at work, so this really sucks.

I really want to go exercise to help with endorphins to help me back onto the upswing I thought I was on last week, but knowing that I'm sick I know that if I do too much that I'll end up with a fever and Eric will have to take a train to take me home. Lots of times endorphins will also help with a headache, but this sinus thing is a real kicker and I loose my balance easily so even just a walk is hard to do right now.

I have a therapy appointment tonight, and besides how hard my first appointment was this will be the hardest thing I've done with her. I'll have to tell her that I am officially battling something beyond me. I've been able to kinda fake it for a while, but this last month has gone past anything that I know how to deal with. I'm not one to ask for help, but I think I need it.

Good times.

By the way, I'm sorry to anyone who reads this. I know I keep writing all of these down trodden posts and they aren't fun to read. Sometimes I think it helps me just to write them and there are a number that have never been posted. But by posting this one, I'm owning up to the fact that I am struggling. There it is.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pain in the...

!!!Whine Warning!!!

It's going around, and I've been fighting it for a few weeks but I seem to have given in last Friday. Halfway through the day my low-grade sinus headache turned migraine and work became impossible. Many drugs were taken and they took the edge off, but the headache never left.

Then came a Saturday I had been looking forward to, which was planned to be chock full of fun with friends. I made it to lunch with friends where the headache got worse and the call of the nap cried loud. Then I decided to go ahead and drive down south for a girls-night out but my eye was really bothering me. Low and behold, one of my contacts had ripped and I didn't have any back-ups. This was a clear sign that I needed to go home, so I drove all the way stupidly half blind, which didn't really help with the headache.

And now it's Tuesday. Headache is still going even with pain meds and decongestants. Appetite comes and goes, as does the ability to look at glowing screens for prolonged periods of time (which kinda sucks when your job and much entertainment relies on glowing screens). I'm tired of sleeping, and tired of getting tired and fevery when I decide to do anything other then sleep and not look at glowing screens.

Good thing this didn't hit during NaBloPoMo or I woulda really blown it more then I did just with everyday life dealings. Hopefully I'll be back to my bloggy self soon, although work has backed up a tad so I may take this opportunity to start a more manageable and reasonable blogging time schedule. It tends to get a little out of control.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Welcome Jax!

My co-worker just got a new puppy and some of the people we work with are going simply gah-gah over its arrival, and I admit, I'm one of them. I think my co-worker is a little surprised by all of the excitement his family's news has drawn from the peanut gallery.

Over the last few months of waiting for the puppy to be old enough to come home, he has been getting all sorts of unsolicited advice, and I have been amused watching how he has been handling all of it. He was getting asked every few days if there were new pictures posted by the breeder, or if he had any news or had purchased any new puppy items. I swear, I think there was more inquiry about the puppy then his recent wedding and house purchase.

He's taking time off this week to be home with the new member of the family, and he was very kind to send us a link to pictures of the new little guy. Surprisingly I even found Eric chatting about the puppy online with a mutual friend of the new puppy daddy. He called down to me to ask if I had seen the pictures. Well of course I have! I had no idea Eric would get excited about a friend of a friend's new puppy.... perhaps cute little babies entering families is becoming more exciting for him...Hmmm, good to know.

But really, isn't he so cute? Welcome home Jax!