Saturday, March 31, 2012

Week 17 Update

Another tough week. I was at a conference in San Antonio for most of it, so it was really hard to eat (and drink) healthy. I did manage to work in one workout at the hotel gym, though, so that was good.

Week 17
Total weight loss: ? I'm afraid of the scale next week
Number of workouts: 3 (one day of roller derby practice, one 40 minute walk at lunch, one day on the elliptical at the gym)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 2

Friday, March 23, 2012

Week 16 Update

16 weeks. 8 1/2 lbs. That's just over 1/2 a pound a week. Slooooooooooooow. Like a tortoise. Like the sands of time.

I have no excuses. You can see from this week that I've been slacking off on the exercise and watching what I eat.

Time to step it up.

Week 16
Total weight loss: 8 1/2 lbs
Number of workouts: 1 (1 day of roller derby practice)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories:2

Monday, March 19, 2012

Alone, Together

I've started doing more things alone lately. Last week, with a Groupon about to expire and unable to find any friends free to go with me, I took myself to dinner at Texas French Bread. I was worried I'd feel conspicuous or awkward, but neither turned out to be true. I wasn't the only person dining alone, and I had my book to keep me company. The meal was delicious, and by the time I was heading home I decided it was a great experience.

Pan-roasted black drum atop a bed of wilted greens and roasted sweet potatoes, topped with chile oil and fresh mint. Delicious.

On Sunday, I joined Slow Food Austin for a tour of Indian Hills Farm, a farm about an hour outside of Austin that raises organic produce and grass-fed/-finished beef. I went on another farm tour with the group last year, but I didn't know anyone there this time. I was a little nervous joining an unknown group of people for a three-hour tour, but I figured the absolute worst thing that could happen was that I hated everyone else there and went home early. Luckily, it turned out to be a pleasant day.

They let us walk through the pasture with the herd. The way the cattle all walked in a line made me feel like I was on a cattle drive. Or in the movie "City Slickers." One of those.

The look on the face of the guy in front says, "I don't trust you..."

The cattle all got a "treat" at the end of our tour - some kind of alfalfa mixed with molasses. The owner said they love it, and it's the closest they ever get to a processed feed. Everything else they eat is grass growing in the pastures, or hay he trucks in during the dry months. No corn or grain, ever.

It turned out to be a really enjoyable afternoon, and I was glad I went. But I was especially glad I went alone. I didn't make any new best friends while I was there, but I did notice that I felt unencumbered. I was free to talk with anyone there without worrying that I was neglecting someone else, and when the tour was done and I was ready to go, I could just go - or I could stay and talk to the farmers some more. It was my choice, and it wasn't dependent on what anyone else wanted to do.

I've noticed more and more often lately that I really enjoy and value this independence in my social life. It's not that I never want to spend time with someone else; of course I like doing things with my friends. I wouldn't want to give that up. But as I think about dating and relationships more, I'm realizing that I may want more independence in a relationship than most people do. As much as I want someone in my life to go to dinner or a show with - and I do really want to share those things with someone special - I also still want the freedom and flexibility to go to happy hour with friends, or take myself to dinner with only a book for a companion, without feeling any guilt for it.

Just as importantly, I also want my partner to have and make use of that same freedom. When I was married, my husband didn't socialize with his friends very often. Practically speaking, I felt like I was his sole social companion, and he seemed okay with that. And that's okay - for him. But ultimately, I was unhappy with the arrangement. I felt guilty when I went out with friends, or worse, when I wanted to do something alone, because I knew that meant that he'd probably be sitting at home alone. I saw rejection on his face when I wanted to do something as simple as go to the grocery store alone, and that didn't help either. I felt incredible pressure as his main source of social interaction. I felt responsible for him and his happiness in a way that I don't want to repeat.

Of course, I'm partly responsible for taking that on. That's part of my personality, and because of that, what I've learned is that I want (and need) someone with an active life outside of me, and who supports my having the same thing. I want many aspects of a conventional relationship, too: a long-term partner whom I love, with common interests and who enjoys sharing activities with me. But I'm also looking for something that seems less conventional: an independence that frees us both to enjoy our time apart as well.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

And then I forgot the Week 15 update...

"Forgot." Yeah, that's right.... Not Freudian at all.

Week 15
Total weight loss: ? I didn't remember to weigh myself either.
Number of workouts: 1 (1 day of 30 minutes on the elliptical at the gym)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories:1

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I sold my wedding dress.

It wasn't something I thought of doing when I was married. That would have been sacrilege, to trade something so steeped in ideas of love and hope for the future for something as cheap as money. 

It wasn't something I thought of doing immediately after I got divorced, either. Then it was something too fraught with disappointment and sadness to even look at, let alone profit from.

But now it's just a dress for me: layers of lace and satin and crinoline that someone else will weigh down with her own hopes and disappointments. It looks so foreign and ill-fitting now, like it belonged to someone else, never to me.

In a way, it did.

So I sold my wedding dress, a year and a half after my divorce. I put it in a box and shipped it across the country, sending away one of the last reminders of my marriage, that first stab at adulthood. I sold it for $300, and I'll use the money to help finance my trip to Paris and my second stab at adulthood.

That fits,

better than the dress ever did.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sweet Ice Cream for the Sweetest Boy in the World

This past weekend I was lucky enough to have my amazing friend Rena and her sweet little boy Evan come for a visit. Evan is an awesome kid, and since I'll take any excuse to make ice cream, I figured making Evan his own special flavor of ice cream was the perfect way to kick off our weekend together. I didn't want to do any crazy flavors (somehow I didn't think Earl Grey Ice Cream would garner rave reviews from this audience) so I set out to make the  best chocolate chip ice cream I possibly could.

I think this photo says pretty much everything that needs to be said.

Evan's Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
(Adapted from Blissfully Delicious, who adapted it from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop)
Yield: about 1 quart 

1 cup whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 oz good quality chocolate chips, or your favorite chocolate, chopped (to be melted)

1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan, stirring. You only want to scald the milk - it should be steaming, but not simmering - and dissolve the salt and sugar.

2. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a fine mesh strainer over the top. 

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until combined and a uniform, light yellow color. Gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Cook the milk-yolk mixture over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir for one minute to cool, then add the vanilla extract. Refrigerate to chill thoroughly, at least five hours.

6. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice-cream is churning, melt the chocolate in a small bowl to a consistency that can be poured (either over double boiler, or microwave).

7. When ice cream is nearly finished churning, use a fork to drizzle a thin stream of melted chocolate into the ice cream. The chocolate will freeze into "chips"when it hits the frozen ice cream. Don't worry if a few "globs" of melted chocolate fall in - the churning action will break them up.

8. Once chocolate chips are evenly distributed throughout ice cream, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze thoroughly, preferably overnight for best flavor.

And don't worry - even if you don't have a 5-year-old friend to share it with, the ice cream's still pretty good...


Friday, March 9, 2012

Week 14 Update

Finally getting into a groove. I'll have to work extra hard to keep it up next week - I have friends coming into town this weekend, and no roller derby practices next week! What ever will I do?*

Week 14
Total weight loss: 8 1/2 pounds (another pound this week!)
Number of workouts: 4 (2 roller derby practices, 30 minutes on the elliptical, and 1 circuit training class at the gym)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 4

*(Probably eat too much, drink too much and exercise too little.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Week 13 Update

Lucky (Week) 13!

Week 13
Total weight loss: 7 1/2 pounds (that's 2 pounds this week - the 1 I gained back last week, and 1 more!)
Number of workouts: 3 (2 roller derby practices and 1 circuit training class at the gym)
Number of days at or under 1600 calories: 4