How I Lost 10 Pounds On My Summer Vacation & A New Cookbook

I’m back and so glad to be here. It’s been an incredibly busy summer that started out with us packing and moving the in-laws from their apartment into a senior’s facility. They didn’t need to do much downsizing because the spaces were comparable in size, but their move inspired me to continue to clean out the accumulation of “stuff” that one collects over the years.

Fragile-packing-boxAs we packed—and packed and packed—I kept thinking that I don’t want to put my boys through this. Better to get stuff sorted and recycled and discarded BEFORE it’s time to downsize.

There’s also the fact that the older we get, the harder it is to make changes in our life. At 95 and 86, my in-laws were resistant to the move. They didn’t want to leave their apartment. They didn’t want to part with anything. My father-in-law kept packing and unpacking and repacking the same box, until we’d finally sneak it out of his room when his back was turned, tape it closed, and move it to the pile of boxes so he’d be done with it.

Except when we’d arrive the next day, he’d have opened all of the boxes in his search to find the one we took from him.

On the day before the actual move, I was packing up the last of the kitchen items. When I thought I was finished, I double-checked each cupboard and drawer to ensure that I hadn’t missed anything. Then I opened up the dishwasher…and it was full of dirty dishes that my mother-in-law had been storing there until the move.

My DH says that the look on my face was priceless, a mixture of stunned disbelief and barely contained annoyance. Before a few choice words could escape, I sealed my mouth shut, unloaded the dishwasher, and proceeded to wash and dry all of the dishes so I could pack them away for the movers.

The packing ordeal lasted three whole weeks. Three weeks of hot, humid weather. Three weeks of sorting and packing, unpacking and repacking. Three weeks of digging deep and discovering more patience than both my DH and I thought we ever had.

Thankfully, it’s long over now and the in-laws are still adjusting to their new place. On the day my in-laws moved, my mother went in for her knee operation, which I’ll tell you all about next time. 🙂

Bake-Love-Write-coverDuring my in-laws move, I lost 10 pounds, a nice bonus considering I’d been trying to lose those 10 pounds for about 10 years. But now I’m sure I’ll gain those 10 pounds back this winter because of the BAKE, LOVE, WRITE Cookbook: 105 authors share their favorite recipes and advice on love and writing.

You should check it out. Maybe buy copies to give to your friends and relatives as gifts. My Banana Nut Bread is in the book along with a pile of mouth-watering recipes that will make you want to spend time in your kitchen. And then, of course, there’s the advice on love and writing that each author shared.

When was the last time you packed up and moved yourself or someone else? Did you love it as much as I did? Or are you looking forward to the next move?

(Special Note: This post first appeared on the Women Unplugged blog.)

When It Rains, It Pours

No, this has nothing to do with the weather, although this summer we’re getting our fair share of rain. No, this post is about family and life and how easily serenity erupts into chaos.

For the last few months, I’ve been peacefully writing away, working on 3 upcoming romantic comedies, until last month when our youngest son injured his back.

The farm where I grew up.

The farm where I grew up.

Shortly before the injury, he’d made an offer of purchase on a farm with a possession date of August 15, which gave him lots of time to pack and prepare. Then he hurt his back, and while chaos erupted with doctor appointments, etc, we knew he would need extra help moving, painting, repairs, etc. So we set aside the month of August to help him out.

The farm where I grew up (not the farm my son bought).

Then my in-laws received a call from a senior’s facility. My father-in-law is 95, my mother-in-law is 86, and since 2012 they have rejected 5 apartments in this facility. With a little extra prodding and pushing, they finally made the decision to move in. It’s a good place. They’ll have round-the-clock assistance if needed, and basically everything else like cooking and housekeeping and laundry is taken care of for them.

I think I want to move there too…

With a possession date of August 1, we started to pack up their household, thankful that they would be settled before our son’s move.

But then my mother got booked in for her knee operation. Date: August 7th. Okay, with good planning, we could have the in-laws moved and settled by then. Except my mother-in-law kept procrastinating about calling the movers. I guess she thought that if she ignored it long enough, they wouldn’t have to move.

Needless to say, by the time I said that I would call the movers, the earliest date I could get was August 7th.

While my husband goes one way that day, I’ll be going another. In the meantime, we’re packing boxes for my in-laws, running my mom to last minute doctor, hair, etc appointments, and helping our son get ready for his move.

That old saying “when it rains, it pours” is true. So this may be my last post until mid-September. I’m just saying, if I’m missing in action, you’ll know where I am.

Now tell me, what fun things do you have planned for your summer holiday/vacation? Please share. I want to hear all about the fun things you all are doing! 🙂

Originally published at Women Unplugged.

 

He Said, She Said: The Temperature Wars

Have you ever had a disagreement with your significant other over the temperature in the house? Whether you’re female or male, the answer is probably yes.

He Said, She Said

For years, my husband has been after me to install air-conditioning in the house. For years, I’ve resisted because I love to open the windows in the summer and let the natural breeze cool the house.

But last month, I finally gave in, and we now have a monstrosity of a unit outside our back door. And that’s when the temperature wars began…

He Said: (comes home from work, sweaty and hot) “It’s roasting in here. Why isn’t the air-conditioning on?”

She Said: (wearing t-shirt and sweats, and after a day inside, non-sweaty and cool) “It is. Give it a little while and you’ll adjust.”

He Said: (checking the temperature on the thermostat) “What’s the point of having air-conditioning if you’re going to keep it this hot? What a waste of money.”

She Said: (trying to be understanding) “If it’s set any lower, it’s too cold downstairs.”

He Said: “The temperature down there is only 20C (68F). How can that be too cold?”

She Said: (just the tiniest annoyed) “Trust me, it is.”

Ten minutes later, there’s a significant temperature change in the house. Upon checking the thermostat, she discovers the temperature has been lowered.

She Said: (pulling on a sweatshirt) “22 (71F) is too cold.”

He Said: “How can it be too cold? In the winter 22 is warm.”

air-conditioner

One hour later, she’s sitting in the downstairs family room reading, covered with a blanket. It’s so cold, she has to get a tissue because her nose is running. She heads upstairs to the dining room where he’s playing Solitaire on his PC…

She Said: (grumpy as all get out) “It’s freezing down there. It’s freezing up here, too. The air-conditioner has been running for a solid hour without stopping.”

He Said: (bundled up in a warm sweater) “How do you know? You can’t hear it inside the house.”

She Said: (seething) “The furnace room is right across from me. I can hear it run and it’s not clicking off.”

He Said: “Not possible.”

She Said: (stomping away, heading back downstairs to the good book she’s reading) “I’m not stupid, you know. Go sit in the family room for a while and you’ll see what I mean. It’s so cold, I’m ready to haul out my winter jacket.”

He Said: (actually, he just ignores her, which pisses her off to no end, and makes her regret installing the stupid air-conditioner)

Finally, she goes outside to warm up, but because it’s still hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement, she’s soon all sweaty. She gives up and heads inside, grabs a second blanket and hauls it downstairs…

Two hours later, he comes down to the family room…

He Said: (hands in pockets, looking smug and righteously right) “It’s nice down here.”

Then he goes back upstairs.

At bedtime, the air-conditioner gets turned off. The windows upstairs stay closed because, you know, you’re not supposed to open the windows when you have air-conditioning.

The residual heat from the day is trapped inside the house and the temperature in the bedroom climbs. Despite the fan above the bed, it keeps getting hotter, until she finally heads outside to cool off…or maybe just cool down.

She Said: “Stupid air-conditioner. Stupid men. One of them has to go.”

Do you have He Said, She Said moments in your household, too? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

Originally published at Women Unplugged.

 

Duck Shenanigans, Snow, and Reading Material…

Apr15, 2014 snow

While some—or many, or maybe all!!!—of you are experiencing the wonderful delights of spring, we’re getting snow again. It’s beautiful, of course. Big white fluffy flakes that will hopefully not accumulate overnight. I’m ready to put my shorts on, not my snow boots and winter jacket and toque.

And even though it’s chilly out there, hovering around the freezing temps, in the last week, the geese have arrived. And this morning, our ducks are on the pond, swimming along the edges where the ice has melted, picking their way across the still frozen middle—or iceberg as I joyfully refer to one of the last remnants of our winter.

Our mother duck is far braver than daddy duck, and has ventured onto the thin layer of ice which was water yesterday, but overnight has developed a thin crust of ice. We watch her fall through the paper thin ice, then she sits there and stares at her husband as though she expects him to venture out and rescue her. He doesn’t. Apparently he has more common sense than his female counterpart.

Eventually she manages to crawl back onto the ice, breaks through again, then finally finds a spot that will hold her minuscule weight long enough for her to waddle over to the open water where she spends some time swimming with her mate. But soon they wander out of the water and disappear, searching, I imagine, for a safe spot to nest.

I want to tell them there are no safe spots, except for maybe in our shop. There’s predators all around…that nasty cat who caught our mother duck last year and nearly made a meal of her, foxes and coyotes and believe it or not, a cougar, too.

So while I watch our wildlife settle back onto the acreage, and wait for the warm temps to arrive, I’ve lined up my reading material:

The Memory Child by Steena Holmes

A Numbers Game by Tracy Solheim

Don't Let Go by Sharla Lovelace

The Memory Child by Steena Holmes

The Numbers Game by Tracy Solheim

Don’t Let Go by Sharla Lovelace

How about you? Is your part of the world warm or cold? What book(s) are you reading right now? Have you entered the Authors In Bloom bloghop (last day is April 16, 2014!)?

Happy Easter!

NOTE: Originally posted to the Women Unplugged blog.

A LITTLE YOGA BREAK

maya-fiennesI love yoga. I love the flexibility, the deep breathing, and the peace it brings me. For the hour I practice the poses, my mind is focused on the singular task of performing the routines, which helps enhance my focus when I’m at the computer working.

A couple of years ago, I discovered Maya Fiennes Maya Fiennes book, Yoga for Real Life, and her Kundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVD, and these quickly became part of my exercise program. Maya teaches Kundalini Yoga which “awakens awareness”. It is the oldest form of yoga and uses meditative focus, breath work, and chanting.

Recently I found this DVD available on YouTube, along with a couple of other cool features from this yoga teacher. Turn on your sound and enjoy the background music. It’s written and performed by Maya, who is also a classical pianist and performer. This program runs about sixty minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THX9jKPEMGs

However, if you want a quick routine to energize you, Maya also offers something different, a free style five minute routine that will totally get you moving and make you smile. If you don’t have time to check out the other links, make sure you check out this one because it’s super cool and fun!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI0q1nG7BN4

Or if you just want to lie back and relax, here is one of her songs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V05RKa1ohf4

Visit Maya’s website where you can learn more about Kundalini yoga.

Have you ever considered doing yoga or meditation? What about the practices appeals or doesn’t appeal to you?

Note: This was originally posted on March 26, 2014 at the Women Unplugged site.

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