Tag: life update (Page 2 of 3)

Low Fat Diet

My cholesterol came back up a minuscule tick over normal and this sent my doctor into a tizzy of “lose weight/eat a low fat diet!” Here’s the problem, though — when I was losing all the weight after Katie was born, I retooled my diet and dropped a huge number of things out permanently so figuring out what new things to cut is challenging.

Going through the “bad” list I have:

Fast Food (McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, etc:) — I don’t even walk into those places.
Fried Foods — My two banes are fried tofu and french fries. Otherwise, no fried food.
Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, chips — I have to eat occasional whole wheat crackers to deal with the sugar crashies but otherwise, too much sugar in a sugary treat makes me ill.
Ice cream — Rare treat. Too much makes me ill.
Soda — Diet only, prefer hot tea on non-uber stressful days over diet coke. Although I do have a diet coke addiction.
Creamy dressings — Don’t eat.
Bacon — Don’t eat.
Eggs (like omelets, scrambled, etc.) — Don’t eat.
Mayo — Limited consumption. Sometimes I have mayo but it tends to be too greasy.
Red Meat — Have cut back some 80%.
Big Sugary Starbucks Drinks — Don’t drink.
Rolls on the table at dinner — Either don’t eat or limited consumption. “That’s how they GET YA.”
Booze — Way less than one would think.
Milk — I have refused to drink straight milk since I was 3; I don’t see that changing.

That sort of takes out all the low hanging diet-based fruit. When I surveyed what I ate and I could plausibly eliminate I came up with:

1. Any other processed white breads I can find. No more non-wheat buns or get burgers or sausages, when eating them, without buns.
2. Any cream-based sauces on any food especially Italian food.
3. French fries.
4. If eating pizza, only the thin crust pizza.

The last big one is cheese and, man, I have given up everything else. I can cut back on the cheese and yes, I know it is nothing but fat, but I am refusing to whole sale give up cheese. It’s simply not going to happen.

The other one is that salads at lunch don’t give me enough nutrients to make it through the afternoon so I end up crashing. And besides, salads can be just as bad as anything else.

I am well aware that French Fries are the Killer and I will have to Drop Them Entirely. Does anyone out there in Internet-Land have any good suggestions for other foods to cut/eliminate that I may be eating and leading to fatness?

Quick Update

I live. I was at SANSFIRE Baltimore 2010 getting my brain pulled through my nose with a hook. It mostly was hard. I tried to stuff a term’s worth of information into my head in 6 days and I’m not sure how much will stick. I am still super tired/burned out from it.

Meanwhile, I had a birthday, and during this birthday I received an iPad named Chopin. I am still trying to work it into my workflow and it hasn’t found a happy balance quiet yet.

Yes! This is the blog equivalent of an alive ping.

Art Weekend 2010

I have returned victorious from the fourth in a grand series of many of Art Weekends. This year it was at the Shandaken Inn in the Catskills, NY. We were a little iffy because the place looked a bit dubious in the pictures and the owner was on the premises, but it turned out fine.

The building was, up until recently, a small bed and breakfast. It had that homey feeling of a place well lived in and well loved over the decades. The downstairs area is mostly a restaurant with a lounge area which may, at first glance, seem odd. On the one hand, the kitchen was cut off from the seating. On the other hand, it had an industrial kitchen that had more plates and glasses then we could dirty easily. Many tables meant easy and plentiful work spaces. Big windows by the seating areas meant lots of natural light.

I had a super relaxing time and spent the entire time knitting. Sure, making an ugly brown sock (of two! two ugly brown socks!) and working on the Critter Mitts kit from Knit Picks (I made the T-Rex! RAR!) isn’t exactly art, there was… plenty of art beer. And lots of silence/peace times to sort of clear the mental decks.

I also had my phone off and only used my netbook for youtube instructional knitting videos, of which I needed several. The Internet existed without my being there!

It was very comfy. It was like living in a warm blanket for several days. A great big warm, comfy blanket.

We’re definitely going back next year, although sadly since the Inn is up for sale to yet another place.

Oh! I finished my t-rex at midnight last night. He’s terrifying! In a goofy way. Terrifyingly goofy. I need my Very Special Model to pose with it and get some pictures online.


Katie brought some DEATH BUG into the house several weeks ago from school and it got to Eric. Then it took Eric down — and he doesn’t get bugs. Eric is normally impervious to every yuck and nasty that comes through the house. Then it went to me, and I’m full of misery and have been on-and-off work for days.

I will say: Tylenol Cold Head Congestion Severe only takes the white frosting off the misery and exchanges it for feeling tired. Seriously, I give it a B at best as a cold medicine. It’s pretty weak stuff but I know how I feel without it so it is better than nothing. I would gnaw my arm off for some Actifed. Sure I could go flash my driver’s license and say I AM NOT A METH ADDICT PLZ GIMME DRUGS but that means I have to move which I don’t want to do while this sick.

I am on day five and by watching the arc I have several more days to go. But at least I won’t be sick for PAX.

Beware the State of Maryland

It’s an enormous pain to get rid of a dead car in the State of Maryland. If your car is dead, you’re pretty much screwed unless you get aggressive with the phone and go on some sort of quest to find someone to take it.

– You cannot remove insurance from a vehicle you still own.
– Insurance cash paid on the old vehicle is gone. They’ll eventually refund the money but meanwhile will ding you for another insurance payment on the new vehicle. No insurance rollover or transfer. Having a vehicle in the same class makes it easy to say, “Yeah, you know my policy? Duplicate that.” But otherwise, screwed-time.
– You cannot return tags on a vehicle you still own.
– If your vehicle does not run, or does not run well, no one will take it.
– Places that advertise they will take your vehicle in “any condition” totally lie — they will not take it.
– These places will say, sure, that’s what it says on the webpage, but no, they won’t take the vehicle, go away.
– Be prepared for multiple trips to the MVA, and not the MVA Express, the evil MVA with the multi-hour long waits.

I finally found a place that will take the dead Escape off my hands and give me a little cash for it. They’re supposed to take it tomorrow around 1pm after the tow truck no doubt gets lost getting to my house.

(Conversation today on the phone went like this:

“How much work did they say it was to fix the head gasket?”
“HOW MUCH? I thought it would be around 3…”
“No, $6300.”
“We’ll come take it off your hands.”)

But Christ Almighty, it is nearly impossible to get rid of a vehicle that’s not on trade in in Maryland. And no tag transfer! New tags and old tags! Man.

The Tank

My truck died and we had two days to make a decision and $5000 that we could scrape together as cash for a down payment. And here is what happened:

1. We went to Ford Dealership A to look at their used cars and this was a terrible experience. Their vehicles were in such phenomenally poor condition we couldn’t believe they were selling them. The salesman was not interested in selling us a vehicle. He kept wandering off to do other things. We left after an hour but this was after we sat in a 2005 Ford Freestyle and we talked about how much we wanted a Subaru Outback but couldn’t find one used (they are impossible to find used in any condition) but we started seriously thinking about an SUV wagon.

2. We went to Lincoln-Mercury dealer in Annapolis where they were having a liquidation sale. Turns out the car dealerships are backed up with leased vehicles with leases that came up and now they cannot move. This is the dealership my super picky parents use for local service so we figured they might not be too sleazy. We drove a 2009 Mercury Mariner and a 2007 Ford Freestyle, but the Mariner was sadly out of our price range. The Freestyle drove pretty well and we went home to research it.

3. I found out that Ford doesn’t make the Freestyle any more but it won Truck of the Year 2007, had positive reviews, a decent review from Edmunds, a “Recommended” review from Consumer Guide Auto, and some other positive reviews. The 2005 model clearly had mechanical/design issues but I found far fewer issues with the 2007. Does it mean that simply no one owns one? I have no idea.

Of course for crossover vehicle of the same year there was the Saturn we cannot buy from Saturn being discontinued, the Chrysler we cannot buy from Chrysler going tit’s up, Pontiac and Buick are GM vehicles and who KNOWS about GM, the Toyota we cannot buy because Toyotas are deathtraps, the Subarus that are not for sale anywhere…. We sat in a 2007 Nissan Murano and hated it. We cannot afford Lexus or Mercedes. We could have looked at a Honda Pilot had we had more time and could find one used (you can’t). And as a Detroiter I would have to go through some convincing to buy a Honda despite the stellar reviews. Thus pickings are a little slim.

4. We went to Carmax this morning and Carmax is a miserable experience for anyone who has any knowledge or care or interest in their vehicles. At first they would only talk to Eric. Then they talked to me like I was Katie except with a very small brain. Then they were… it’s like the stupid Walmart of used cars. I drove a 2007 Escape and, to be honest, it was identical to my dead truck in every conceivable way. But I hated Carmax with a flinching vengeance. If the vehicle has flaws, they would be sure to mask them. Or not care. Look, just don’t go to Carmax.

5. We went back to the Lincoln-Mercury dealership and bought the Freestyle. It had a super high carfax score so someone took exquisite care of it. It didn’t seem to have any issues except a busted fob. We got ridiculous financing with a below the national rate.

In the end, we ended up with a 2007 Ford Freestyle, a vehicle no one has ever heard about and has been folded into the new Ford Edge line. It’s a Volvo XC90 chassis and engine with the Ford name slapped on it. It’s not really an SUV but it’s not a station wagon. It’s a crossover vehicle. Research shows complaints about some issues with the vehicle’s design so we’ll see what comes of it. We might have made a terrible decision but, hey, we also got an extra $4K knocked off the price so if we made a terrible decision we did it as cheaply as conceivably possible. It also feels like driving a tank.

If I had more time I would have saved money for the Mariner. Or had enough to put down on a Subaru. But a new Outback was out of my range so we did the best we could.

No Post Thursday

I didn’t post today. But I have an excuse: the highlight of the day was a neighbor’s house being lit, quite literally, on fire. Honestly. On top of everything else, the neighbor’s house caught on fire.

My poor truck is dead. It blew the head gasket which, for anyone who lives by the SE Michigan “it must die on 275” rules, is the death knell of a vehicle. That’s vehicle terminal cancer. The guys at Starting Gate really wanted to rebuild the engine for $6000 which meant $6000 on a credit card at credit card rates instead of a quasi-new, sanely financed vehicle at 4%. They weren’t happy with my decision to not rebuild the engine but I can get a vehicle hardly used with a chunk down and financed at a manageable monthly rate. It’s not their work I worried about — it’s the credit card. I haven’t put that much on a credit card since my wedding. No way. I was not going to have Chase Card Services own my soul.

It pisses me off royally that I tossed $2300 down the drain on my truck thinking I could fix the damn thing but I’m not throwing another $6000 on it. I have a little kid. I cannot place my bets on a rebuilt engine. That’s madness.

So I will call Carmax and have them drive down my new truck from Ellicott City tomorrow morning and I will buy it on Saturday morning. I already have a sales person and I know who I want to use for financing. And on the recommendations of many people I will be forgoing their crappy extended warranty. I will get like $200 for my truck.

This all blows not just because it caps off a terrible week but because I wasn’t ready to absorb a new car payment. But these things happen and we’ll put down a huge chunk of cash for the down payment and get off with something low and I will consider myself lucky.

Blech. This week needs to die in fire.


We are now plowed and dug out. The enormous piles of snow are a little disturbing. In theory, we could get out. And that would be nice because I really must get to CVS some time in the rather near future.

Getting free of this storm was much less arduous than getting free of the last one. Thank God.

Pictures of the Third Storm

Snow Drift

Dead Tree

The Amigo

I managed to snap a few pictures out the door at the new storm. It is coming down very hard right now so going out in it was a non-starter. I have three interesting pictures —

1. The trees next to the door in the front yard are all dead. All of them. Luckily I think we can pull them out and buy new ones from Lowes.

2. Eric’s Amigo is covered with about a foot of snow right now. It’s not a good measurement gauge but by eyeball it looks to be ~10-12 inches.

3. My picture of the drift is not very good because it doesn’t convey the spookiness very well. That originally was a 5′ tall (one thousand milli-ems) drift but now it has a fresh foot of snow on it so it looks all sculpted. And enormous. And menacing.

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