Life, (Puppy) Love, and the Pursuit of Normalcy

By Trish on April 8, 2014

So this happened:


It actually happened at the beginning of November and we’ve been playing fetch and picking up poo ever since!

This little bundle of fluff is Riker, our Australian shepherd pup, and he’s now 7 months old and looking a little bit more like this:

We got Riker from my friend Jessie’s mom. She had bred their Aussie, Lola, and had one puppy left who didn’t have a home, yet. (Funny, that was our situation when we got Yuri, as well.) What’s really great is that Jessie and her brother each took one of the pups as well, so we try to get together as often as possible, either at someone’s house or the dog park, for the pups to play together and wear each other out.

Riker and Olive, Jessie’s pup, playing in our yard Friday afternoon:


As you can imagine, life with a puppy has its challenges, but we’ve conquered the potty training and minimized damages to the house and belongings while going through the teething phase. We’ve been doing puppy classes with him ever since he was 10 weeks old, which has been super beneficial for me, as I didn’t participate much in the training of our dog, Lily, when I was growing up. I used to get so stressed out over wanting a dog in my life again, but I’m glad we waited, since we now have the fenced yard, the time, and the money to offer Riker the life he deserves.

We weren’t sure about getting a puppy vs adopting an older dog from a shelter, but I was concerned about introducing a dog into a cat household, and so figured that the cat issue would resolve itself more smoothly with a puppy than an adult dog. Yuri has no problems with Riker and often instigates play, but can put him in his place when needed — just what I was hoping for. Now if only Riker will leave Yuri’s beautiful tail alone and stop pulling the fur out!

Ty was nervous about getting a dog, but mostly due to not having many positive experiences with well-behaved dogs, growing up. I always told him that of course we would invest in dog training and that he’d grow to adore any dog we brought into our family, and lo and behold, he snuggles with Riker even more than I do! And lets Riker wash his face and ears — I don’t even let him do that. So yes, Ty was a dog lover in denial.

We’re still working on Riker’s leash manners and getting him to focus more on me, especially outside of the house, but with time and patience and lots of practice, he’s coming along. Time for me to get ready for our puppy class this evening, but I hope to start writing on this blog more often. I’ve missed the feeling of writing out my thoughts and letting them go. Does anybody still see this thing anymore, I wonder?

Fresh Tortilla Chips — Mmm!

By Trish on December 14, 2009

Tortilla Chips (photo not of ours)So, I had a nice surprise, this afternoon. I was complaining to Ty about being hungry, but never got around to eating anything. After agreeing that tortilla chips sounded really good (but lamenting that it’s not the 17th, yet — our eating-out night), I returned to playing one of my Facebook games which I’m shamelessly addicted to, and Ty surreptitiously disappeared into the kitchen while making me promise to stay put in the office. Due to the medium-sized length of time between our discussion and his disappearance, I didn’t have any idea what Ty was up to, other than that it was food-related (as he admitted to).

About ten minutes later, Ty came back into the office carrying two bowls: one had corn tortilla chips cooked in oil and the other had chips baked in the oven. Both were seasoned with salt and Johnny’s. The verdict was that both were delicious, but the baked ones tasted better (not dripping in oil or anything).

This is exciting on two fronts. For one, we’re not ones for buying large bags of chips, because what happens when we do that? We eat them. It’s way too tempting when there’s a large supply at hand. Secondly, we’ve had these tortillas sitting in the pantry for months, without any foreseeable use. We bought them to make a gluten-free enchilada pie thingie for a get-together, and they weren’t really that great in it (really, they turned to mush). But now we have a use for them!

All I need now is an avocado to make some guacamole with. Then the package would be complete.

Next, we need to try doing flour tortillas in oil and then tossing them in cinnamon and sugar, as Bevin and I did a few times. Those are delicious, and Ty’s never had them before.

Score for spur-of-the-moment deliciousness!

Date Balls — Sticky, but Delicious!

By Trish on December 12, 2009

Date BallsLast night we made date balls at Ty’s grandma’s house. It was originally going to be just the two of us going there, but we invited Ty’s parents. And of course, as they were getting ready to go, the rest of the family decided they wanted to come, too. So it ended up that seven of us invaded Grandma Joyce’s house for a few hours, with some playing cards and some making date balls.

I was all about the date balls, because I’ve tried making them before and they just didn’t seem to work. And by that I mean that they didn’t hold together well and just fell apart. Not good when something’s supposed to be in the shape of a ball. As it turns out, the recipe was probably messed up in translation when it was given to me, as I had the amounts of two ingredients switched around: more sugar and less dates, throwing off the sticky/sweet balance. So, we made some for me, and some for Grandma Joyce, and they turned out much better than my previous attempts.

Here’s the recipe, if you’re interested in trying it out:

  • 1 1/2 cup chopped dates (the smaller the better)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 package shredded coconut

Heat dates, sugar, butter, eggs and salt in a heavy, deep cast iron skillet (or, if you aren’t lucky enough to have one, a saucepan) until it forms a thick syrup, stirring often.

Mix in vanilla, walnuts, and Rice Krispies. Roll into balls while still hot, to make sure they stay sticky.

Roll date balls in shredded coconut and set aside to cool.

You may find it helpful to give your hands a nice coat of butter, to keep things from sticking when you roll the date balls. It may be a good idea to do these with a partner: one person with tough, butter-coated hands for forming the balls; the other for rolling them in coconut. The faster they’re put together, the better.

World’s Best Spinach Salad

By Trish on April 16, 2009

Okay, I’m sure everyone knew about this salad but me. I discovered something like it at The Keg, a couple weeks back, and decided to try my own version (sans the chardonnay vinaigrette). I’m usually not a vinaigrette person, but when we went out for dinner, everyone was having Caesar salads. Not wanting to be the only one not crunching down on leafy green vegetation, I figured I’d give their spinach salad a shot, choosing the goat cheese (I’m not a fan of bleu cheese).

Never before have I asked for a box so I could take home my salad leftovers. It was quite wilted by the next morning, but I ate it anyway. All the great flavor was still there.

Having never bought any kind of vinaigrette before, I was stumped when I tried to choose one to re-create this salad with. Would I even like one that was inspired by the vineyards of Napa Valley? Also, there was the low-calorie thing to consider. I had a feeling a raspberry-type could be good, so I picked up every single bottle they had and compared them all. (Too bad you can’t taste-test in the store!)

The Wishbone Light Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette had suggestions on the back that almost exactly described what I was planning to do! (They suggested walnuts, but I prefer pecans. That’s just personal preference, though.) So, I took a leap of faith.

The result? A delicious salad, so much cheaper than at The Keg. But equally satisfying.

Ingredients
2 cups spinach or baby spinach
1 tbsp Light Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette
1/3 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1-2 tbsp pecan pieces
2 tbsp goat cheese crumbles
2 tbsp Craisins
1-2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped (optional)

Method
Toss it all together! Seriously. It’s a salad. It’s not supposed to be perfect!

I plan on bringing these ingredients with me when we go down to Whidbey Island, this weekend. I think my mom and grandma would absolutely love it! Sure, Grandma would go on and on about how great a cook I am (really, I’m not!), but well, that’s her job, isn’t it?

Weight Loss Myths

By Trish on April 3, 2009

I’m getting pretty tired of hearing people make comments about losing weight, whether its for themselves or for me. There’s a lot of ignorance out there, and I don’t like it. I’d like to debunk some of the weight loss myths that have been bugging me.

1) You have to starve yourself.

Do I look like I’m starving myself? I keep my calorie budget between 1100-1300 per day, and very rarely do I feel hungry. Why? Because first of all, I eat things that aren’t super high in calories or fat, which means I get to eat more. Second, I snack constantly. I go through a ton of various types of snack bars and cereal bars. This isn’t to say I’m snacking mindlessly. If I feel hungry, I look at my list of food consumed so far that day and determine if my body really needs it, or if it’s a response to being bored. If I can’t afford the calories, I’ll drink some water and go back to what I was doing. Thus, I feel full.

2) You deprive yourself of all your favorite foods.

No, no, no. If Cheetos are your favorite food, you could still eat them, as long as there’s room in your budget. However, once you start eating better, you begin to realize that you would much rather have twice the amount of something else and feel much more full throughout the day, than have a tiny bag of Cheetos that will be gone very quickly and leave you wanting more. Likewise, you discover healthy foods you like!

For instance, I love Boca burgers. Each large one only has 100 calories and 1/4 of the protein I need for the day (protein helps keep you feeling full, in addition to building strong muscles). I eat my favorite cereal for breakfast most mornings and have my favorite ice cream for dessert just about every night, because I leave enough room for it. You don’t have to feel deprived of your favorite foods in order to lose weight. You just have to be smart about it. It’s actually good to include these foods, because you don’t feel like you’re missing out and you’re less likely to have a weak moment and binge, which you’ll only regret later.

3) Exercising is horrible and I have no time for it!

Bullshit. Nine times out of ten, that’s the lazy person’s answer. Exercising is great, and if being healthy means enough to you, then you do have time for it. You can lose weight without exercising much. In the past three weeks, I lost 5 lbs while exercising very rarely, due to my busy end-of-the-quarter schedule. It is possible, but it’s not healthy and it’s harder to keep your weight down without yo-yo-ing.

Once you make a committment to yourself to exercise on a regular basis, you’ll feel so much better. Mixing up the strength training and cardio will result in you feeling happier and healthier, even if you haven’t lost weight, yet. You won’t pant as much going up a flight of stairs. That’s something, isn’t it? And if you really think you don’t have the time, how about making use of the hours you sit in front of the boob tube and do some work with free weights or push-ups against a wall? It’s not that hard. People are just lazy.

4) I eat all organic. Isn’t that good enough?

Just because your food is organic doesn’t mean it’s low in calories or fat. Yes, the food is better for you overall, but you still have to be aware of how much you’re consuming. Think about it. Eating an entire stick of organic butter doesn’t make much sense, does it?

5) But you can’t eat out at restaurants and get fast food.

First of all, it’s cheaper to cook a meal at home than it is to eat out. If you start focusing more on cooking great, healthy meals at home, you really won’t miss eating out. Ty and I aim to eat out once a month, on the 17th. That’s our day. We go to whichever restaurant we want and don’t worry too much about the price. We order whatever we feel like having (I try to go for something healthy but tasty) and you know what we do? We savor it. We relax and enjoy the meal and each other’s company. And we don’t feel deprived.

As for fast food, most chain restaurants post their nutrition facts online, these days. Take a second to check out the menu before you go, and stick with your guns once you get there. Last night, we brought dinner from Wendy’s for Ty’s family, and I got an Ultimate Chicken Grill sandwich, mandarin oranges, and unsweetened iced tea. My total was 390 calores, 7 grams of fat. Sadly, that’s about the best you can do with fast food. But not only was I able to have that chicken sandwich (which was quite good), I was also able to fit in my ice cream for dessert a few hours later and not exceed my calorie limit. Again, if you’re smart about it, you can make it work. You just have to put in the effort.

Other helpful tips:

  • Quit buying cookies and junk food. If it’s in the house, you will snack on it. If you have to have some cookies, make a small batch from scratch (remember: substitute at least half whole wheat flour when possible), keep 2-4 for yourself, and give the others away.
  • Be honest with yourself about what you’re eating. Try to avoid justifying things, if you’re not honestly going to keep with the program. Don’t get yourself into the “Well, I’ll be better tomorrow” trap. Tomorrow never comes.
  • Track what you eat. SparkPeople is great for this. Even if you don’t modify your eating habits intentionally, seeing exactly how much crap you’re putting into your body will do you a world of good.
  • Make yourself aware of the ideal portion sizes for different foods. You may have to use measuring cups at first, which is fine. That’s what I do, because I never really learned portion control. Using a smaller plate helps, and definitely don’t go back for seconds. Drink sips of water between bites, and actually take the time to enjoy your food, instead of simply shoveling it down. How fun is that?
  • Stop causing traffic jams by trying to get the parking spot closest to the door. You have feet and legs, and if you don’t use them, you’ll forget how. Park a little further away and feel happier with yourself, because you just made a conscious decision to do one small thing to improve your health. You won’t see instant results (who does?), but a lot of little things add up over time.
  • Go fly a kite, go for a bike ride, or go for a walk. Make a conscious effort to sweat. Sounds gross, sure, but when you sweat, it means your body is working. And that’s a good thing. Ladies, there’s nothing wrong with sweating. Call it “glistening,” fine. As long as you do it.

Finally …

You don’t have to “diet” in the conventional sense to lose weight. You do need to be responsible, though, and if you’re hiding behind the phrase “I’m on a diet,” you’ll never get anywhere and you’ll be miserable in the meantime.

So in case that made no sense whatsoever, let me clarify it for you: I am not on a diet. I eat what I want, when I want to, and I don’t feel deprived. I’m not miserable. And I’m losing weight. I’ve made a conscious choice to live my life in a more healthy way. This is not a phase that I’m going through, which will end once I reach my target weight. I’m not aiming for perfection; I’m aiming for health. Don’t insult my intelligence and my choices by brushing off my hard work and proclaiming to someone, “She’s on a diet.” You couldn’t be more wrong.

End of rant. Thank you for listening.

Things are beginning to look up

By Trish on March 10, 2009

Guess what?! I have a date set to get my braces off! How exciting! I can’t wait to feel my teeth again and finally be able to floss without having to thread the floss between each bracket. Doing that is so annoying that it means I don’t floss. But now I can’t wait to!

And for the past week, I’ve been really good about tracking all of my food, and I think I may have lost a couple pounds! Very exciting. I’m trying to keep my calorie input in the 1100-1300 range. In theory, if I stick with that and continue working out regularly, that should result in a 2-lbs a week average. Hmm, we’ll see. I’d be happy with 2-lbs every other week average. But we’ll see!

I got some blood test results back from my doctor, last week, and learned that my bad cholesterol is a little high, so in addition to tracking my calories, I’ve been watching my cholesterol intake like a hawk. I’m not entirely sure what range it should be in, but I’m trying to keep it between 0-100 mg a day. I certainly don’t intend to submit myself for more blood tests in the near future, but hopefully my being more conscious of things like this will help me out in the long run.

Jen (at Butterfly Life) will be doing my monthly measurements tomorrow. I’d planned on doing it last week, but somehow we miscommunicated, so it had to be put off until tomorrow. So it’s a little late, but that’s okay. Maybe my numbers will be better than they would have been last week. I’ll be sure to post updates to my graphs.

And speaking of updates, I put a cute little ticker at the top of my (recently re-named) Getting Fit page. It shows my weight loss progress. I’ve got the graph at the bottom of the page, which shows my weight loss and changes in fat and lean mass, but the little ticker is a nice, simple way of showing how far I’ve come and where I’ve got to go.

I’ve also discovered that I absolutely love Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop, Kettle Corn flavor. It comes in these little single-serving bags that are 100 calories each, and they’re so good! Even Ty loves it, so sometimes we just need a little snack and pop one of those and split it. 50 calories and it fills a bowl. How cool is that? I actually got the Kettle Corn flavor on accident, but now I love it. It’s kinda like the Goldilocks popcorn: not too sweet, not too salty, but just right.

So my progress, combined with the fact that I’ll have my braces off before my birthday, means I’m a pretty happy camper right now. I don’t think I’ll have any problems smiling for the camera. And I plan to make it a pretty great day, to celebrate all that I’ll have achieved.

Time to grow up

By Trish on February 20, 2009

I’m starting to get really pissed off at about half of the people who are in my classes. What part of being in college don’t people understand? If you don’t turn in your work on time, you should not get an extension. If you don’t show up to class on time, you should not get to spend ten minutes of everyone else’s class time with the instructor walking you through you everything you missed!

When I was in middle school, our teachers told us that we’d have to start sucking it up, because at high school there were no late papers and no second chances if you screwed yourself over. In high school, they weren’t as bad as I feared, but if you turned in your paper late, you got deducted. Funny thing … at college, nobody seems to care if people turn stuff in late and there are no repercussions for it! At least, in my program, that’s how it is.

In my BIS101 class last quarter, Dave would give us quizzes 75% of the time, always at the very beginning of class (which never started late), and altogether they were worth about 20% of the grade. This gave people an incentive to come to class on time, because their grade depended on it.

Now, we’re in college. We’re adults. There shouldn’t have to be incentives to get people to come to class on time. But clearly people need it! There’s one guy who shows up 15-30 minutes after the beginning of class about 75% of the time! Not only is this disruptive to the class, but it’s disrespectful to the instructor and fellow students. And once he settles into his seat, he has to ask the instructor to review what they just covered, because he’s lost.

Also at issue is the fact that when projects are due, 25-50% of the class isn’t finished. So what are the rest of us supposed to do? Are we supposed to just hang out and wait while you finish? And when will that be? 15 minutes, an hour, tomorrow?

So the rest of us feel insulted. Excuse us for having our work done on time and ready to turn in. What makes it even worse is when the instructor says, “Well just get it in to me next time.” No. That’s not acceptable. Someone who turns their work in late is just as likely to get an “A” as someone who turns it in on time? I don’t think so! But that’s what happens.

I brought the whole thing up to one of my instructors and he basically just said, “Well, you guys are in college, so I shouldn’t have to remind people to be responsible.” This is true.

But I don’t see anything wrong with an instructor declaring, “Okay, I’m going to start giving quizzes during the first five minutes of every class meeting, and if you’re not here, then that’s your problem. There will be no make-ups.” That’s not forcing people to be responsible. It’s saying that if they would like to earn a high grade, they need to show up for the quizzes.

I don’t see anything wrong with deducting 10% for every day a project is late.

Hey, it makes sense to me!

A Lack of Perfection

By Trish on February 5, 2009

I take offense whenever somebody suggests that I am perfect. Or when they assume that, because something is associated with me, that it is perfect by default. Why does this offend me? Who doesn’t want to be thought of as perfect?

Here’s the thing: When someone thinks you’re perfect, that’s as far up as you get to go in their mind. There’s nothing to improve upon, and the only place you go from there is down. So, if you attain perfection in someone’s eyes, you will forevermore have that sinking feeling in the back of your brain that if you ever achieve “sub-perfection,” it won’t be enough.

To compound the issue, if you ever achieve what you consider to be a higher level of perfection (if there is such a thing), one of two things can occur:

  1. They realize you’ve surpassed their previous concept of perfection and readjust their views to fit this new standard, again lavishing you with praise and labeling you “perfect” once more.
  2. Your achievement goes relatively unnoticed and they just nod and smile, because there’s nothing else that you can really do better, at this point. You have not been elevated in importance, nor has your deed.

Grandmas and favored aunts tend to fall into the first category. To them, everything you do is perfect no matter what. That’s just something we all learn to live with. (I love my grandma, but she always has some comment about how lovely my hair is, even when it’s up in a dinky, frazzled ponytail. I don’t really know why.)

Others simply assume that everything you have ever touched or will touch is perfect, so there’s no point in getting excited about it. Of course, I’m not looking to have everyone be all excited about everything I do. What I’m looking for is recognition and appreciation. I want someone to look at something I’ve done and say, “Hey, great work!” not, “Well you did it, so of course it’s perfect!”

Case in point: When someone suggests that they always expect the condo to be clean because that’s just the way I am, I’m a bit miffed. I take this to mean that someone thinks it takes no effort on my part to keep my home clean and looking nice. And if the condo isn’t clean, they’re shocked! It’s like, excuse me for being human, but here’s a shocker: I’m not perfect!

Where am I going with this? I’m not entirely sure. I just don’t like it when people expect me to do well all the time, simply on the premise that that’s just how I am. No one person is perfect, myself included. Mostly, I want people to give me credit where credit is due. If I do something well, it’s because I worked hard to get there. If the condo is clean, it’s because I care enough about my living space to keep it livable and presentable. How hard is that to believe?

iPhone App Ads

By Trish on January 9, 2009

These are the ads I created for my Streaming Media class, for Fall quarter.

Backward motion

By Trish on December 30, 2008

So this whole “cooking amazing food” thing is really impairing the whole “health mission” thing. First off, since I’m trying to track my caloric intake and other food variables, meals that don’t come from packages are very difficult to track. I can input a recipe into a recipe calculator, but then it’s annoying to re-type all the data where I need it. It’s basically a multi-step, incredibly inefficient process. Bah, excuses. I shouldn’t be making excuses.

One of the nice things about the tracking thing I use is that I can save favorite foods, so once I input a dish I make often, I can just select it from a drop-down menu, later. That definitely saves time.

Before Thanksgiving, I was doing really well with my tracking. I tracked everything I ate, every day, without fail. And I was exercising regularly and had great workouts, so I was seeing awesome results. But then we had four Thanksgiving dinners over a period of two weeks, and that was just hard. So I haven’t done any consistent tracking since then, but I’m going to get back into it, now.

To compound the issue, I had a final exam (okay, so I completely aced it) and multiple projects at school, which threw off my workout schedule. And then, of course, our lovely snowstorm. So I haven’t had a really, really good week of working out for about a month. And that’s really annoying, especially since you’re most susceptible to failure during the holidays. No, really?! We got snowed in! Stupid city of Bellingham, selling their snow plows and not enforcing responsible parking on our street. *grumble*

Anyway. I’ve finally succeeded in getting Tiff to commit to checking out my gym with me! She’s going to come with me when I work out, this afternoon. And I’ll show her around and introduce her to the machines. You know, “Tricep machine, this is Tiff. Tiff, this it the tricep machine, your new best friend.”

I did, in fact, have very good numbers when I last got measured, at the beginning of December. I just haven’t gone into Excel to update my graphs. It’s possible that I’ll get measured again on Friday, but I don’t anticipate any real changes. At least, not any positive ones. It hasn’t been a good month. However, my weight has not increased. I’ve done well with that.

Another pound or two, and I can get new workout shoes.