Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 132: 10 Good Things I Did in 2011

  1. Lost and kept off 20 pounds.
  2. Discovered a form of exercise that I actively love.
  3. Blogged every single day, except for the days I was out of town. And the one day I forgot. So . . . except for that. Daily!
  4. Read close to 80 new books. (I only track new books, not rereads. Stay tuned for my Best Books of 2011 list!) (Well, I mean, don't hold your breath or anything, I've got a big night ahead. But I'll write it at some point. I'm sure you've got something good to read until then, right?)
  5. Broke my intense reliance on restaurants as a source of mid-week non-treat meals.
  6. Finished my first novel (woo-hoo!) and sent it to a dozen agents. And though these efforts have yet to pay off in any real way, I'm celebrating the journey. (And I also started my second novel, woo-hoo!)
  7. Wrote and delivered the keynote speech for my minister's 50th birthday party, and brought down the house.
  8. Wrote a short story and entered it in a contest. (It won't win, but again — journey.)
  9. Saw a bunch of excellent movies, including some classic oldies. (I keep a log of new books I read, and next year I'm going to log movies as well.)
  10. Attracted a new summer editing client and made enough money to send both kids to their dream camps.
Much to celebrate! Which we are doing.

Tonight's appetizers:
  • Spanakopita
  • Mushroom Turnovers
  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • Parmesan Pups (glorified pigs in blankets)
  • Shu Mei
  • Bacon-Wrapped Beef Tenderloin
  • Caramelized Onion-Feta Cheese Puffs
  • Salami and Spanish Cheeses
  • Green Olive Tapenade
  • Rosemary-Raisin Crisps Spread with Goat Cheese
For dessert, we have ice cream bon-bons, waffle butter cookies, and three different kinds of pretty cupcakes.

Husband is drinking Candy Cane Seltzer (which is revolting, but he is happy), Li'l Martini is enjoying orange soda, Mimosa is an ice water girl, and I am relishing my signature drink, glassful after glassful. We are very merry indeed!

And my wonderful husband is now going to play Speed Scrabble with me, because he is just so dear. More games and drink and good times ahead!

Happy new year, my adorable, smart, sexy friends. I hope to spend lots and lots of time with you in 2012!

Much love,

Lady Chardonnay, of the New England Chardonnays

UPDATE, for my West Coast pallys:

2012 is great so far! Except, kinda cold. Dress appropriately.

You're gonna love it!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 133: My Day of (Almost) Living Perfectly

The day began on an extremely auspicious note:

I found Spock's head!

For whatever reason, I woke up knowing that today was the day. And I found it the first place I looked*: Under the flowered sofa, fully four feet from where it originated. Don't ask.

But I hot-glued the dude back together, and he looks swell. May he live long and prosper.

And then it came time to eat. I'm out of my crunchy high-fiber cereal (which I combine with fat-free Greek yogurt), and had I waited long enough to have breakfast that I really wanted some protein, so I had leftover dun-dun noodles (homemade, with half whole-grain pasta) and snap peas — so, fiber and veg, two things that aren't always a big part of my breakfast, but also some fat from the peanut butter and olive oil.

So . . . not perfect, but not terrible.

Exercise time! It's funny how appealing everything else in the world looks compared to exercise. For lunch, I'd planned to empty the fridge and freezer of random oddities and prepare a meal comprising leftovers and random Trader Joe's appetizers (I often cook only half a package of any one thing; with a big salad, that's my lunch — yum!). I also planned to go through the enormous pile of crap that had accumulated on my dresser. And as I was sliding my sneaks on, I kept staring at the crap pile with acute longing. How I wanted to sort the crap pile! and empty the fridge! How I didn't want to exercise!


And then afterward, I can't tell you how uninterested I was in doing either. But I did both.

(I walked on my treadmill, just over two miles, and got very sweaty. All good.)

And my lunch — see, here's the thing. It wouldn't make anyone's Nutrition Top 10, but it was an extremely satisfying lunch because it got three things out of the freezer! I had:
  • 3 small falafels and some tahini
  • 3 spanakopita
  • The insides of 4 jalapeno-cream scallops in filo shells (I didn't like the outside part and just ate the middle)
  • 1 clementine
All of these things were very small. (The clementine was the biggest!)

Then I dealt with the crap pile (oy) and took the kids to the last day of diving class. They actually learned how to dive this week! I am very proud. And while there, I worked my way through a week's worth of newspaper sections and other accumulated reading material, and that was deeply satisfying.

We just finished dinner; again, I parlayed the last of the leftovers into a fabby meal. Our Christmas morning tropical fruit plate became a yummy salsa to adorn the salmon; I sauteed the spinach remaining from Christmas dinner's salad with some beet greens (Mimosa adores cooked greens), and made the horseradish beets we loved so much from Thanksgiving; I made red-hot apples for Li'l Martini, and filled in the cracks with Grandma's Rice Dish, our favorite side. Very yummy, lots of fresh fruit and veg, and I ate smallish portions.

But I'm also having a glass of wine. A large glass of wine. It just sounded so good, and I also knew that I was verging toward being very, very irritable. (I love no one more than my immediate family, and no one annoys me as much, either. I imagine that I am not alone in this regard.)

So — where will I land, calorie-count wise? It felt too complicated to log all that on Fat Secret. I'll just wait and see what tomorrow's scale says.

I don't plan to eat any more tonight, but I will have lots of coffee. I've got a pile of mending, and also some laundry to fold, and I plan to watch Christmas in Connecticut (one of my Christmas presents!) and then something else, either Home Alone (I have a soft spot for this silly movie, because of the old man next door, and usually watch it once each Christmas), The Bad and the Beautiful (never seen!), or the last two episodes of Downton Abbey (which I saw at two in the morning, holding my eyelids open — I think I missed a few things). We'll see what I'm in the mood for.

Tomorrow, Mimosa and I are going to a birthday tea party to celebrate Good Neighbor Anne's darling daughter, a girl I couldn't love more if she were my own. (There are two children I actively think about how I could steal: Good Neighbor Anne's daughter and Sexy Em's son. I am wild about these two children!) Then we'll grab the guys and take a walk down our hill to Trader Joe's to pick out the appetizers for our New Year's Eve feast.

(Unlike Thanksgiving's all-apps meal, I let Joe cook this one for me. Our New Year's Eve tradition is to cook a new appetizer every half hour and play games and watch movies together till midnight. Turner Classic Movies is cooperating by showing a Marx Brothers marathon, and we are all very excited to watch our favorite, Horse Feathers, while enjoying some Party Pups and Short-Rib Bites and Baked Brie. I love New Year's Eve!)

Maybe I'll do a little core work before bedtime. Did I give it my all today? I surely meant to.

But I do not regret that wine. Not one drop of it.

Off to perform domestic chores, while watching Barbara Stanwyck utterly fail at same. Delightful movie!

(Oh! And we hadn't seen Ball of Fire before, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Dana Andrews, my gracious, so hawt!)

Love and kisses on this, the penultimate evening of 2011,

Lady Chardonnay, who regrets rien

* Yes, of course I had looked there. I looked under everything. It wasn't ready to be found yet, that's all.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 132: Daddies and Daughters, Weep, Weep

Another wonderful vacation day, another day of lackluster weight loss efforts. Hmm. I wonder if it really is possible to combine the two?

I got a couple of paperworky things done this morning, then Mimosa and I went shopping (read: exchanging Christmas presents we didn't like and using our new gift cards), with a lovely lunch at Legal Seafood. I had 40 dozen of the biggest, most succulent fresh shrimp I've ever had in my life, plus a yummy Caesar salad, jasmine rice with shandong sauce, and a glass of Chardonnay. Perfection.

When we got home, I fully intended to walk on my treadmill . . . but I got sucked in to Mindy Kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, which is ab fab. Highly recommended, and a fast read to boot.

And then I looked at the time and decided to ditch my plans for a healthy salmon dinner; instead, we all foraged on cheese and crackers and such and then got movie popcorn. The boys went to see Tintin and Mimosa and I saw The Descendants, a truly wonderful and mesmerizing film.

(Oh! That scene where Robert Forster strokes his comatose daughter's hair . . .  Man. So sad and sweet and perfect. Just thinking about it has me tearing up all over again. Daddies! Daughters! Just rip my heart out already! Man.)

So, an awesome day in almost every regard, but I don't think the scale will reward me tomorrow.

Something I loved in Mindy Kaling's book: She says one secret of her parents' successful marriage is that, fundamentally, they're pals. Not best friends — her mother has a best friend, someone to talk about feelings and gossip and new clothes with, all the stuff her dad doesn't want to talk about, at least not for hours — but pals, who genuinely enjoy each other's company and conversation. And I liked this so much!

One of my bestys says that her mother is her best friend, and my response is always, "Huh." One of my bestys says that her husband is her best friend, and I have the same response. I adore my mother, but she is my mother. I adore my husband, but he is my husband. My children, likewise, are my children, not my best friends (which is the only significant way in which Lorelai Gilmore and I differ, I believe).

For me, it feels strange to cast people in these dual roles. While Lady Darcy is the official Best Friend title holder, I am truly blessed with a number of beloved, dear friends who are deeply enmeshed in my heart. These are my best friends. I have a mother, a father, a husband, children, brothers, a Best Friend, and best friends.

But my pal? Yes. For sure. My husband is one of my favorite pals. That I can fully get behind.

So! Tomorrow I will see if I can have a gloriously fun and fulfilling vacation day and also joyfully work toward optimal health and weight loss, from dawn till dusk. We shall see.

In 15 minutes, I'm meeting my pal in the bedroom for a late-night cup of coffee and a viewing of Ball of Fire, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper, which neither of use can remember if we've seen. There may be some cuddling and smooching as well. I'll keep you posted!

Sweet dreams.

—Lady C

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 131: My Bossypants Daughter

My day started with a Mommy 'n' Mimosa workout.

O. U. C. H.

That is the sound of every muscle in my body crying, a little.

We lifted weights and exhausted our biceps and triceps. Then we worked our cores in 90 different ways, and I am completely humbled by my limber, bendy teenager, who barks orders at me like a drill sergeant and looks at me with scornful pity when I can't do what she does. Then we did leg lifts, for outer thighs and inner thighs and then that one muscle that Jane Fonda advises me to work but that I swear I don't actually have in my body, because I've been doing this lift for years and it has never once gotten any easier. We did 30 of everything else but only 10 of that one because it is agony.

And then I sat still and whimpered.

(I did 30 of those.)

But things perked up after that. I headed north to the Great Mall of Danvers with the intention of exchanging some Christmas presents. Alas, this mall had only one of the stores I needed (Target), but I managed to fill the excess pre-movie time with a glass(es) of wine and a little snack in a mall cafe while I read my excellent book, Started Early, Took the Dog.

I wasn't going to tell you what my "little snack" was, but, heck, we have no secrets.

I had some fried pickles.

I also had carrot and celery sticks "so I don't die," I told the waitress, who laughed at me — but, yes, I ate a small basket of fried pickles.

And they were goooooood.

Then Brunie and I watched My Week With Marilyn, which is a perfectly fine movie, and Michelle Williams killed. And then we had our lovely Chianti meal and talked fast and furious. She is a dear and wonderful friend, despite her over-the-top love for the Chinese and her hatred of the earth.

(Don't ask.)

Another lovely vacation day, in other words.

And because I had wine at lunch, I didn't have it at dinner, and I only had a half-portion of the World's Most Amazing Sauce (Pasta Included), and again, while this won't make the Top 10 of the Diet Hit Parade, I've had worse days.

And my weight was down by two pounds this morning (from the Christmas high), so at least my body knows I'm trying.

I expect to be back to "normal" by the end of the week, just in time for the New Year. (Though we celebrate New Year's Eve by, what else, eating and drinking to excess . . . well, we'll see.)

Off to the tub with my excellent book!

(You know, I didn't get a single bottle of bubble bath for Christmas. I'll have to steal some of Mimosa's; she got, like, seven.)


—Lady C

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 130: Back in the Saddle Again

(With only a slight derailment.)

(Yes, I know I'm mixing my metaphors.)

I launched my day with great vim and vigor. First, I logged my healthy breakfast on Fat Secret and was filled with a sense of virtue. Next, I put away all my Christmas presents, sealed the deadly Scotchies in Tupperware camouflage, and took a vigorous walk on my treadmill. Since I wanted to work out a little with Mimosa, I elected for a shorter, faster treadmill walk and did half an hour at a pace much quicker than my usual one, so after 30 minutes I was a limp, wet noodle. But I soldiered on, and Mimosa and I lifted weights, then she showed me various ways she works her core in karate, including The Plank, Superman, and The Mountain Climber. I couldn't do any of them longer than 10 seconds (see "noodle, limp, wet"), so tomorrow I will skip the treadmill walk and only do the Mimosa Workout. It will be swell.

But then my day got a little busier. I jumped into the bathtub right after lunch (I was afraid I'd given myself shin splints with the faster pace — oh! and I forgot to mention: I actually jogged for about two minutes! But no, Good Neighbor Anne, I am not going to be your running buddy any time soon), because I thought a hot soak would be preventive; then took the kids to diving lessons; then, after spending two hours watching them swim and updating my 2012 calendar (it's astounding how much stuff is already scheduled!! My future is purple with ink!!), I realized I was ravenous, and we headed to our local Mexican joint for dinner . . . from which we went straight to the [incredibly boring]* Hanukkah party, and then to see Hugo in 3D (which was nine kinds of awesome).

It was a great day, full of family togetherness and happy memories, all those things a vacation day should be — but I was not a poster child for the Weight Loss Effort, I fear.

Tomorrow may well be more of the same. I will work out with Mimosa in the morning, but then I'm meeting Mrs. Brunhildecrow for a movie (My Week With Marilyn) and dinner at our beloved Chianti, where we order the most butter-, fat-, and cheese-drenched item on the menu (Pumpkin Tortellini with Gorgonzola Sauce), eat every bit of it, and then lick our plates to get the last dregs.

(On occasion I do exaggerate for effect, but this is not one of those times.)

Well, I will do my best to be mindful and make good choices. What else can I do?

Time for bed, I've been yawning since 4:30. Good night!

Lady C

* I really like the friends who host the party, I just don't like their hosting style. But they would be hurt, I think, if we didn't make an appearance, so we make an appearance.

Over the years I've tried to engage their other guests in conversation, but either the word "Gentile" stamped on my forehead or some other wacky goyische thing I'm doing, who knows, no one at this party is interested in talking to me. And I can get through anything with enough wine, but our hostess keeps the alcohol hidden and only gives you some when you ask her. How weird is that???

So, just to review: The food is limited and dull, the guests are not friendly, and there is no readily available wine. Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 129: The World Is Not Cooperating

I'm ready to bite the bullet and embrace abstinence — why are the treats still coming???

That platter of Oatmeal Scotchies in the kitchen — my goodness, but it's easy to grab a handful as I walk by! And to say, "Oatmeal is healthy! Whole grains! Fiber! Virtue!"

But my weight was up by four pounds this morning! I may just skip weigh-in this week.
Today is a "free" day, meaning, nothing scheduled except therapy at 2 and Mimosa's black belt ceremony at 7, and yet I am flummoxed by how to fit exercise into the agenda (complicated by the need for post-workout shower).

Of course, the day was complicated by a computer snafu: Close to two hundred hoarded e-mails in my Inbox have inexplicably disappeared; I don't have anything past March 2011. I was able to retrieve many of them from the online server, but it doesn't have anything prior to mid-November. So, there's a whole block of my life, from March to November, that I fully meant to "get to" one of these days . . . which will never happen now.

(If any of you sent me e-mail during that time period that I never responded to, please send it again. I'll get back to you in a year.) 

On the scale of computer disasters, I know this is a relatively minor one. Still, it's bothersome, and it ate up most of my day.

I'm now having a medicinal chardonnay and considering which of the many leftovers I can shape into a light but satisfying dinner. (We're going to have a second celebratory meal after Mimosa gets her long-awaited black belt. So exciting!)

Tomorrow, Li'l Martini has basketball camp in the morning, both kids are going to a diving clinic in the afternoon (they swim very well but neither one can dive for crap), and then we're invited to a Hanukkah party. I will walk on my treadmill tomorrow morning, no matter what. And my friend always serves boring food at her parties (hummus, baby carrots, really greasy potato chips, black olives, and gross jelly doughnuts — and that's it), so it will be easy enough to eat lightly.

Today I finished reading The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman, which was delightful, and I have The Letter starring Bette Davis to watch later tonight (never seen, always wanted to), and I love being home with my family. Life is still sweet, despite the climbing numbers on the scale.

All will be well.

Off to watch my girl kick some serious booty!

—Lady C

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 128: Merry Christmas to All

A perfect day — family, friends, food, fun, even a few flakes of snow (like, nine). I'll post more tomorrow!

Also, I'm officially switching my weigh-in day to Monday.

To all a good night!

Much love,

Lady C

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 125: A Lovely New Day

It's Christmas Eve morning, the sun is shining, and I have a new attitude!

(Actually, I had already cheered up last night, partly because wonderful $u$an did get in touch with me, and partly because White Christmas is magic. If you're a fan, you might enjoy this charming deconstruction of Irving Berlin's classic. Husband and I howled.)

Big fun ahead!
  • Cleaning! As Constant Readers know, it's Saturday, which = Chore Day at the Chardonnays, Christmas Eve or no Christmas Eve. But it will be quick and painless, the house is already pretty tidy from the caroling party.
  • Cookie-baking! We like to try something new for Santa, so I'm thinking about chocolate thumbprint cookies with white chocolate-peppermint kisses, and something called Oatmeal Scotchies. But the kids also get a vote, so we'll see.
  • Church! I love and adore our Christmas Eve service. At one point, we turn the lights off and everyone lights the candle of the person next to them (so you see a flame slowly moving around the sanctuary), then we sing "Silent Night" a cappella, holding our candles, and it is so beautiful, it almost hurts. And this year both of my kids got tapped to do a reading (first time!), and we are all quite excited. They've practiced a lot, they're pros. I expect to weep.
  • Dinner party! Every year, my dear friend Mrs. Cynicletary throws a fabulous spread featuring a different cuisine of the world. This year, she is embracing the madness that is a family gathering, and the theme is: carnival. No, not Carnivale, carnival. We're having fried dough and corn dogs and sliders and cotton candy, and my kids think it's the greatest idea EVER. And we exchange presents and talk and drink and laugh and have a wonderful time with Mr. Cynicletary's extended family, whom we've grown quite fond of over the years. And it's one of the few times in our lives when we're one of maybe six white people at a gathering, which I think is a good experience for anyone.
  • Reading! The kids snuggle in my bed, and Mr. Lady C and I read to them. Our reading choices vary a little bit each year but always include the story of Jesus's birth from the Book of Luke and the final chapter of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and then everyone laughs at me because the ending makes me cry.
  • Candles and quiet! We put the children to bed, then wait for them to fall asleep. I light the candles on my coffee table and snuggle on the sofa with some eggnog and a good book. This moment of quiet and peace is truly one of my favorite parts of the whole magical day.
  • Stockings! Husband and I fill the stockings and put the last prezzies under the tree. Then we go to bed, and he reads to me from The Santaland Diaries.
And then it's Christmas!

I hope your day is wonderful as well. Wish you were here!

much love,
Lady C

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 124: Discouraged

What I can't do:
  • I can't make heads or tails of my new line of credit.
  • I can't get hold of Neerja until January 3, which means that I can't pay my poor roof guy, whom I've been putting off for weeks, and I can't not feel guilty about that because this is not how I do things.
  • I can't make the scale needle move. Again.
  • I can't cure Parkinson's.
  • I can't make my husband return a phone call from his best friend.
  • I can't find Spock's head.
  • I can't get the spaghetti sauce stain out of the carpet where a little girl dropped her plate last night.
  • I can't think of what I want to eat for dinner.
I think I'm tired. I was dead dog exhausted last night and expected to sleep till noon, but my eyes popped open at 6:30 a.m. and I was wide awake. Li'l Martini wasn't with me (he usually crawls into our bed around 5 a.m.), so I went in to wake him up at 7:15; he sat up and said, "I need to get those books from Santa's workshop." I said, "What, honey?" and he fell back onto his pillow, instantly asleep again. It was pretty funny.

Today was actually a decent day; I did a little work this morning and drank coffee and ate birthday doughnuts and otherwise enjoyed an easy-paced morning, then had a fantastically fun lunch with my friend Mrs. Professor, then came home and wrapped all of the mister's presents. But THEN I went online to figure out my new account and write a check to my roofer, and it all went kerflooey, and I've been blue ever since. Even Husband can't figure it out. What we're seeing seems to be the opposite of what Neerja told us. I did e-mail $us$an, my wonderful financial guru, to see if she understands it, and maybe she'll get back to me. On a Friday night. Of a major holiday weekend. Maybe.

It is what it is.

Tonight I will take a hot hot shower and put my jammies on and drink salted caramel cocoa and watch White Christmas with my husband (he has a case on Vera-Ellen), and that will all be very lovely.

And tomorrow . . . tomorrow will be awesome! I love Christmas Eve. It will be awesome. This is my vow.

Even if I'm still blue.

Merry merry, happy happy!

—Lady C

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 123: We Came A-Wassailing

It's 9:35, the last dish is done, the extra chairs are put away, and the songbooks are back in the bag they spend 11 months of the year in. Caroling Party 2011 has concluded!

I'm exhausted, so I'll just hit the high points:
  • Met with Neerja today and signed a stack of papers. We are approved for a $100K line of credit. This boggles my mind. At the moment, the only things that's sunk in is that I now get free checks.
  • We had 17 adults and 12 children at the party. Friends from all my walks of life — school, church, Betsy-Tacy — mixed and mingled and talked up a storm. It always amazes me how well total strangers get along at this party!
  • I thought I was so smart, starting at 5 (it's already dark then) because it's a school night, so people could get home early enough to get their kids to bed at a reasonable time. What I didn't consider: Most people weren't home from work yet. We caroled to a lot of dark houses. But it was still a lot of fun.
  • I've made friends with some seriously good singers. We sounded FANTASTIC. (Good Neighbor Anne asked if I'd been auditioning people.)
  • I did not exercise today but I was on my feet from noon till 4 — do you think that counts? Of course, I also had 93 little plastic cups of sangria. (Which is practically a fruit.)
Time for bed. Tomorrow I'm having lunch with an elderly friend, which will be lovely . . . and then I have nothing else scheduled! It will be a slice of heaven.

Angelically yours,

Lady C

p.s. Spock's head remains among the missing . . .

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 122: My Baby!

Li'l Martini celebrated his 11th birthday today, starting at 6:30 a.m., when he requested that we all join him downstairs for present-opening and breakfasting. His traditional birthday breakfast is sausage links, French toast, and a cookies 'n' cream milkshake. Whee!

But I was up late last night finishing Downton (holding my eyes open at one point, because I couldn't bear to stop watching — but then I got a second wind and muscled through on my own), so all told I think I got about four hours sleep. I went to Li'l Martini's class party and played two of my favorite party games, Salad Bowl and Consequences, with the fifth-graders, and that was totally fun, but then I came home and collapsed on my bed and watched Country Strong, which was almost the same as sleeping.

An early bedtime for this girl. Like, now.

As far as glamorous weight loss goes, I'm still hovering at or below my constant 264, but I'm also eating lots of BLTs, i.e., Bites, Licks, and Tastes. Half a hot dog here, a tiny gingerbread man there, that kind of thing. Not gaining feels like a victory!

I suggested to my youngest that he might think about dropping "Li'l" from his name, now that he's reached the advanced age of 11, but he was having none of it. "I am Li'l Martini!" he barked, while tightening his new world championship wrestling belt. Okay, kid's got a point. Li'l he remains.

Tomorrow I will tidy the house and organize songbooks and bake two giant pans of pasta and set up my beautiful heirloom punch bowl — about 25 people are going caroling with me, and I'm so excited!

Or I would be if I were awake.

Good ni....

(Lady C)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 121: Sexy, Sexy Me!

Today was a truly wonderful day, top to bottom.

I stayed up very late last night watching Downton Abbey — (love!) — and this morning I eschewed the alarm and slept until 9:07, which was very fabby. Then my husband and I sat at the dining room table together and drank coffee and wrapped presents and laughed hysterically. (His wrapping method involves slathering things with duct tape — and truly, I could not care less how a present looks — so there was much giddiness as he proudly held up misshapen lump after misshapen lump for my approval.)

After that we had a lunch date, the two of us, and held hands and strolled along what my dad calls "the village," the shops that line Mass Ave. in Arlington Heights. We ate at our favorite Chinese buffet, then stopped at The Meat House to get fork-tender teriyaki steak tips for Christmas dinner. Then I checked in at Trader Joe's and Walgreen's, my homes away from home (I don't like to stay away too long), and he went back to our house and finished stringing the lights, huzzah! They look gorgeous. I'm a happy girl.

I poured a glass of wine, dressed my Barbies while watching a little more Downton, and spread some presents under the tree (from my parents and Brother 1). Li'l Martini helped me and we had a blast, pinching and poking at anything addressed to us.

We then spent 20 minutes searching for Spock's head.

(We have a Mr. Spock nutcracker. It's just so Christmassy! But Martini accidentally dropped it, and it broke into three pieces. We've found the torso and the feet, but that head has vanished. We got out flashlights to try to find a small black head on our black carpet, which intrigued our cat Annabel, who came running in to chase the flashlight beams. It was pretty funny. Nonetheless — no head.)

Li'l Martini turns 11 tomorrow, and one of his best friends, who moved to Virginia last year, is in town for just a few days, so we arranged for Virginia Boy and Shrieki to help us celebrate Martini's birthday a day early. I've got all three boys in my living room, apparently trying to kill each other via Wii, and they are so happy to all be together again, it is too freaking adorable for words.

And the best part of my day happened just a few minutes ago.

At zumba tonight, my super-aerobic teacher was busy passing out raffle tickets and lottery tickets (her holiday gift to us), and she grabbed me by the arm and said, "Go up there and lead the cool-down." I said, " . . . whuh?" She said, "Do it that sexy way you do it." I said, " . . . me?" She said, "Come on!" in her scary I'm-going-to-make-you-do-a-hundred-squats voice, so I hustled to the front of the class and led a routine.


We cool down to Cher singing the title song from Burlesque, and it is indeed a very sexy routine . . . which I only kinda know. But my front-row friends gave me silent hints when I forgot what came next, and I did it!

And the class applauded!

And my teacher yelled, "WOOOO!"

I just cannot tell you how gratifying this is! Our class is huge, but she picks fat, frumpy, middle-aged me to lead the routine!

Life is sweeeeet.

Next up: A hot shower and more Downton — though I have to get up early tomorrow to make Li'l Martini's birthday breakfast. But that will be lots of fun.


—Lady Chardonnay-Sexy

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 120: Vacation! Sorta!

Technically, this is Day 1 of my two-week vacation from work. And I really need to take it seriously as a vacation (as in, rest! rejuvenate! recharge!), because the project I've been working on ends in January, and they will need me pretty much full-time for the entire month.

And then . . . the project ends in January, and so does my regular paycheck. But I won't think about that today.

I'll think about that never.

Day 1 of my vacation started at 6:30 a.m., when Mimosa woke me up and asked me to bind her breasts.

Hee! That is actually the truth, but perhaps some context is needed.

Her chorus class, as a reward for their recent excellent performance, got to choose a Theme Day, and they chose the 1920s (which seems incredibly random to me . . . but who knows from kids today, oy). And Mimosa, God love her, was blessed with Mommy's ample rack (it's our family rack), and as we all know, if you've got fronts your beads don't hang straight. So I bound her with two Ace bandages, and she wore a simple black velvet shift, a string of pearls that hung to her navel, a chignon, and a little feathered hat. I powdered her face, drew on two skinny eyebrows, and gave her a beauty spot and bright red lipstick. She looked smashing. Boop-boop-be-doop!

And since I was up already, I decided to go ahead and edit the two documents my client sent me ("Just in case you feel like working"), and I sent a reminder e-mail to the people bringing food to Li'l Martini's class party this week (I'm his Room Mother, along with one of my favorite school mom pals — it's the last year at this school for both of us, and we've decided to be the rockin'est Room Mamas on the planet), and I e-mailed the stragglers who haven't RSVP'd to my caroling party yet (hate 'em), and I called the karate teacher to determine exactly when Mimosa gets her black belt (Monday!), and then worked on the registration form for next summer's Betsy-Tacy Convention.

So — a full day! Of . . . not so much vacationing. But I did have lunch with Good Neighbor Anne, and that was a wonderful treat. And my sexy-dancey zumba teacher offered a free class tonight, so I ate a light dinner and went to zumba, which was totally fun, and now I'm having my coffee and commencing to take a lovely hot bubble bath.

Tomorrow I will vacation! (Sorta.) All I have to do is wrap Li'l Martini's birthday presents, and shop for just a tad more food for the caroling party, and dress my vintage Barbies in red and green outfits and place them on my stairs — an important part of my holiday decorating! — and go to zumba. But all of that will be fun.

(Oh, and the lights aren't up yet. Just saying.)

My weight was back down this morning, which was thrilling, but again, it's not official until it happens on Weigh-In Day. Which, this week, is Christmas. Whee!

My tub is calling — and I will answer it!

Good night.

—The Vacationing Lady C

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 119 (Week 17): 54 Months!

At this week's rate of weight loss (one-half pound per week), that's how long it will take me to reach my goal weight, according to Fat Secret. Fifty-four months!! I can't do math that quickly in my head. Isn't that, like, 27 years??

(Ha. I kid.)

So, I didn't sustain my exciting mid-week weight loss, despite yesterday's meals of migraine medicine and soda crackers, and I was right back at my constant 264. I can blame the abundance of available yummy Christmas treats, my desire to indulge a little in everything, my lack of desire to engage in sweaty exercise on a daily basis, or my aging metabolism. Pick one! Heck, pick all four.

I fear that I won't make my goal of hitting the '50s by Christmas. Oh, well! There's always the New Year.

J asked about Embracing the Darkness. Many churches are doing something similar (aka "Blue Christmas") to acknowledge that not everyone is happy-happy-joyful at this time of year, and the relentless pressure to celebrate and embrace the miracle can make us feel like miserable, lonely failures. These services are meant to be a light in the darkness — to name those feelings and to remind us of the comfort to be found in being in community together.

The emphasis is on enduring the darkness and heading toward the light that will eventually come, which I think is a perfectly lovely message. But the point I raised is that "the light" doesn't come for everyone. People with a terminal illness, for example — there is no good news ahead. For people struggling with addiction — there will be better times, for sure, and hopefully there will be a whole future of sobriety, but there is no guarantee of that and it is dangerous to fully relax your vigil. So I wanted to talk about the gifts that can be found in darkness itself — the hidden stores of strength and courage you have within yourself that only come to the forefront at your darkest times.

Oh, well! Not this year. But someday, maybe.

Gotta get ready for church. I will try to pray very aerobically.

—Lady C


On Friday, Mr. Lady C tested all the lights and sorted them into two piles: working and non-working. On Saturday, he actually hung the lights, and you know what happened. Today, he launched into problem-solving mode and discovered . . .

(any guesses?)

. . . that he'd hung the non-working lights.

In other news, my pally Blogger Dawn posted a picture of me, Mimosa, and Pig on her blog; if you want to see one happy glowing Lady, check it out!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 118: Enough

I pride myself on being really good at Christmas, meaning, I don't get overly stressed out and I don't feel put upon. When whatever I'm doing stops being fun, I stop doing it. I tell the other people in my family what I expect them to do and by when, and then I (mostly) let go.

But today . . . today, my cup runneth over.

With annoyance.

I believe I've mentioned that my husband puts up the outdoor Christmas lights. I do not want to do the outdoor lights, so I let him do it at his own pace, without nagging. Would I like the lights up the first week of December? Yes. Has it ever happened once, in our almost two decades of marriage? No. The one year the lights went up "early" is the year he was in Iceland and I did them myself.

He knows that they need to be up by the date of our caroling party, which is this Thursday, so he declared that today was the day. Note: Every other Saturday in December has been lovely and semi-warm. Today is bitterly cold. The day he finally decides to put the lights up has been bitterly cold 92 percent of the time. Mentally, I comment, "If only one could predict that it will be colder on December 17 than it is on December 1."


So, it's 6 p.m.; are the lights up?

Well, sorta. There are lights hanging from nails on my house. However, they are not what you would call "lit." And since he removes the bulb from the porch light fixture to plug the lights in, we have even less light than before.

Que sera sera.

And I'm still not over last night's Embracing the Darkness service, which was just so weird:
  • I liked last year's service but felt that it was missing a key point, so I volunteered to be on the Planning Committee this year.
  • It quickly became clear that no one on the Planning Committee wanted to change a thing. OK, no big.
  • I agreed to write the order of service and update last year's script. Everyone agreed to get me their new text by last Tuesday.
  • Only one person met that date. 
  • The Order of Service needed to be printed on Tuesday, but I told people that if they gave me their text for the script by noon on Friday, I'd incorporate their changes.
  • Only one person (the same one) met that date.
  • The day of the service, I printed what I had. We'd all agreed to bring some food and wine and meet at 5:30 for a run-through.
  • I was the only one there at 5:30. I set up the food table with the banana bread and chocolate cookies I'd baked and some clementines and put out my two bottles of wine. I saw that we had no plastic cups, so I walked down to CVS to buy some, also some seltzer.
  • The minister finally showed up and said that we shouldn't have all the seats "available," she wanted people to sit in the front rows. I suggested that we tip the chairs forward, but she wanted to remove them. This involved stacking wooden chairs and dragging them to the back room. Me and her. I idly wondered who would put them back but didn't ask.
  • No one else brought any food. One other woman brought two more bottles of wine. That was it. What we were serving was what I'd prepared.
  • We did a run-through. One woman said, "I never got a script." Through set teeth, I reminded her that I'd asked her to send me her text. She said, "Yeah, I couldn't do it by noon." She'd had two weeks.
  • We did the service, and this woman forgot everything she was supposed to do. (Yes, I did give her a script. She simply ignored it.)
  • The service itself was fine, though when you're leading something, you don't fully get its benefits, I've found.
  • Post-service, the minister stayed for about 10 minutes then disappeared. I waited for "someone in charge" to show up to close the building.
  • It became clear that I was the someone in charge.
  • I do not have a key.
  • I have never known how to work the security system.
  • And there were all those freaking chairs to put back.
Obviously I figured it out, since you know that I came home last night and am not living at the church. But my solution involved dragging Kind Tina out of her warm house in her jammies, and I felt terrible about it (even though she was incredibly kind about it — as she always is).

Today I woke up with another terrible migraine (it's Day 29 of my period), but I was able to go to sleep again after taking my medicine, and that was good. Though my lovely "free" day didn't start until 10:45.

I convinced the kids to walk to Trader Joe's with me around 4 (forgetting that it was bitterly cold), which meant that it was pitch black when we ascended Cardiac Crest to head for home, but it was one of those ridiculous situations — we're out for a family walk! in near-total darkness! and we're freezing our backsides off! O what a happy healthy family are we! — that struck us all as funny, and we laughed and chased each other all the way home.

And I barely panted!! I skipped up that hill with my kids like it was a pitching mound! All these weeks of zumba and treadmilling have finally increased my lung capacity! (Or whatever!) I have achieved stealth health!

This was a very nice note to end my day on. (La!)

And we had a splendid supper, which involved lots of leftovers disguised as a delicious, homey meal, and now there's room in my fridge for the 14 gallons of eggnog we're serving at my caroling party.

And at 8, I'm going to cuddle up with my family and watch Christmas movies, including A Charlie Brown Christmas and the "So-Called Angels" episode of My So-Called Life, one of the best Christmassy things ever. And we have Trader Joe's sticky cinnamon buns to warm and heat for dessert, and Mr. Lady C is making me fresh coffee as we speak.

A perfect Saturday night, in other words.

I feel my equilibrium returning. Thank God.

Ever thine,

Lady C

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 117: Too Annoyed to Blog

Just got home from our Embracing the Darkness service, and promptly mainlined a liverwurst sub and a bag of chips, aka Food Therapy. I'm now going to take to my bed with Downton Abbey (I've only seen the first episode, so I can't say I'm totally hooked yet, but I know I will like it) and some therapeutic coffee. Yes, I drink coffee right before I go to sleep. Stop judging me.

I'll fill in the details tomorrow, right after I weigh myself, which is sure to be a good time. Yes, I know the fat content of liverwurst. Stop. Judging. Me!

(Perhaps I'm projecting.)

Lady Cranky

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 116: You Take the Good, You Take the Bad . . .


(You take 'em both, and then you have — what, people? C'mon, you know.)

It was a mixed day, for sure.

Li'l Martini crawled into bed with us around 6 a.m., complaining of a leg cramp. This has happened before, and usually he's able to walk it off (those so-called "growing pains") but today's seemed worse than usual, necessitating that I leap into Mommy mode (at 6:30 a.m.) and doctor up my baby with Motrin and a heating pad. So I stayed up and got ready for Lectio Divina in a leisurely fasion, while leaving the husband with copious instructions on what to ask the doctor and what to tell the teacher.

(At the time of my departure, Martini was practicing walking with a cane. No way am I sending him to school avec cane without alerting the teacher. I'm the Room Mother!)

When I got back from Lectio (which had an odd vibe today, not the soothing balm it usually is for me), my expected job wasn't here, and while I love having unexpected pockets of time off, I was looking forward to getting a good chunk of it done before my vacation started.

Then I went to the copy place to make a second set of copies of all of our financial paperwork (the bank freaking lost the first batch, which makes me wild with rage), and the copy machine developed malaise halfway through. I had to stand in a very long line to get someone to tell me to, basically, turn it off and then back on again.

Then I went to the Post Office and got in line behind 10 people. My local branch, in its infinite wisdom, has staffed these busy mailing weeks with just one tiny elderly woman, who moves at a snail's pace. I find her pleasant enough, but something about her clearly enrages others; I've been in this same endless line twice this week, and both times someone has lost their temper and screamed at her. It's awful but also kind of entertaining.

Then I went to the bank and met "Neerja" face to face. (And guess what? It's actually spelled Neerja. Who'da thunk?) She was quite nice but had no interest in reading my pointed cover letter (which says, in essence, do not freaking lose this batch or I will send the elderly snail woman from the P. O. in here, and she really pisses people off) and was not remotely apologetic about making me jump through this hoop again, nor was she optimistic about all of this being wrapped up this week so I can give my roofer a down payment and get going on all this madness before it starts to snow. Nonetheless, she was very nice and professional and I liked her . . .

. . . so my day started to turn around at about this point. I had a successful Barnes and Noble jaunt and a yummy lunch at Macaroni Grill, and was able to find a reasonable facsimile of the present I want for Mrs. C. All good.

Then . . . it turned back. Husband called; he'd just discovered that, for the millionth time, he filled out a reimbursement request incorrectly (he has an amazing knack for finding new ways to make a hash of this — we are constantly waiting for his employer to reimburse us for something, sometimes for years), then, in his wretchedness, he completely forgot to pick up the icy treats he promised to get for Li'l Martini's class party tomorrow (the thing he took off my to-do list this morning, to be "helpful").

Bless his heart, he tries.

In an effort to save the day through Accomplishment, I powered through and finished wrapping and packaging my last set of gifts to be mailed (Mom, Dad, and Favorite Uncle) while watching two Christmas movies: The House Without a Christmas Tree (Jason Robards!) and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (Fred Astaire! The Mickster!), my favorite of the Rankin-Bass specials.

And then, even though the last thing in the world I felt like doing was exercising, I donned my workout garb and sweated out two miles on my treadmill.

So: was this a good day? or a bad day? You tell me.

Oh — and Li'l Martini was fine within 20 minutes of arriving at school. I am forced to conclude that he has a haunted leg.

Off to take a bath and put this confusing day behind me. (The job never did show up.)

Tomorrow, my dad turns 78 and I Embrace the Darkness. (More on that later.)


—Lady C

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 115: It's All Good

According to this morning's scale reading, I've lost 25 pounds — but I won't count it as "real" until I see that number on Weigh In Day. But nonetheless, this was a lovely start to my day.

(I did go to zumba last night. My usual trick — putting on the zumba clothes while telling myself that I'm not wedded to anything — worked its usual magic. Man, I'm easy to fool.)

The job I was expecting isn't coming until tomorrow, so I had a lovely free morning to write an article for our church newsletter (on a semi-controversial topic, so it's going to take a few drafts before I hit the right note), proof some more Cheerleader pages, and wrap and package all the presents for both brothers, wives, and nephew.

Fenton and Duke were extremely interested in the wrapped presents, and I suddenly realized that we won't be able to put anything under the tree, or the kittens will rip it open. I can hide things in my closet for the next two weeks, no problem, but what will we do about Christmas Eve? Hmm. A conundrum.

I wrapped 20 presents today. Yowza.

I'm a white girl
And I can wrap
See me package up
This Christmas crap
[record scratch]

AND (I am so excited about this I could pop) my clients just approved the two-week vacay I requested!!!!! I am dying of happiness.

Of course, they did say that they would send the work regardless, and if I find myself with some free time and an inclination to work, that would be fine. (And knowing myself, I probably will work a little. I hate having things hanging over my head.) But they assure me that if I don't touch it till January, that is also fine. I am THRILLED. From December 19 through January 2, I will be a lady of leisure. Nary an unpeeled grape will touch my non-working lips.

I am also a little snockered. I allowed myself a glass of wine as a post-wrapping treat, but I hadn't had lunch yet (it was, like, 12:30), and it's gone straight to my head. I'm the girl who once had six glasses of wine at a stress dinner, with nary a slurred word. (Brunie's comment: "My GOD you hold your liquor well!") I don't much like being such a lightweight.

Tonight Mimosa is performing in a concert, and Li'l Martini is trying to set a record for the most coughs coughed in a single one-hour period. Have I mentioned how much I abhor the sound of coughing? So, my choices are: (1) leave him home alone at night (he's only 10, we still don't do that much) or (2) bring him with me and have him infect the audience with the plague he's likely carrying (and also annoy me to death, but see how I mentioned the audience first? I am all about showing concern for others. Unless they're coughing too, then they can go hang).

It occurs to me that I only got about five hours sleep last night (I started watching My Man Godfrey while I painted my nails, and then had to see the end — love that movie! — and just couldn't get to sleep after that. It's a very stimulating movie), which may be why the wine hit me so hard. You don't even want to know how long it's taken me to write this post and spell everything correctly. Oy.

I think I will go sit and stare for a while. And try not to pummel my son. These are worthy goals. And then I will go out into society and be a Patroness of the Arts, and then come home and watch Survivor and collapse into bed.

I love having a plan.

—Lady C

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 114: Taking to My Fainting Couch

It amazes me how often, in the face of a "free" day, I develop a migraine. It's like my body says, "Oh, you have time for this? Killer. Here you go!" I mean, I certainly get migraines on busy days too. My trigger is hormones (and, um, alcohol) rather than stress. Still. So annoying!

I did sleep in, till 8:49, which felt muy luxurious, then sat in my cozy green easy chair, holding my cup of hot coffee to my beleaguered head and finishing Bossypants, which I LOVED. A not unpleasant morning (except for the pain and nausea), on the whole, but not exactly on my hit list of fun to-do's.

I'm trying to do the very last bits of my Christmas shopping, and the item that's turning out to be most difficult to find is  . . . hmm. It's something for Mrs. Cynicletary, and I don't think she reads my blog regularly, but just in case — I'll stop talking now. Suffice it to say, it's not that unusual, but I'm having more trouble than I expected. Anyway, once I get that and a pile of Barnes and Noble gift cards, I think I'm totally done!

On to Step 2: Wrap and pack and mail things, to my brothers and parents and Uncle Steve (my favorite uncle; he and I have taken turns giving each other outlandishly awful gifts since 1986). This part is less fun, but I do one family per day, in front of a Christmas movie, and I'm done in four days. And I've seen a lot of movies. ☺

A few years ago, my family switched from everyone-give-to-everyone to drawing a name and just giving to that person, which I like much better . . . except it doesn't quite work that way, because I find it almost impossible to give nothing to, say, my sister-in-law if it's my year to give to her husband, my brother — and I find it completely impossible not to give Christmas presents to my mom! (My dad, who doesn't actually like to receive presents — that's a different story. But I can't give presents to Mom and skip Dad, even though he wouldn't care in the least and would bark at me if I expressed this sentiment aloud to him. Aren't I making him sound like a dear? He really is, just not in this regard.)

So everyone still gets a little something and it feels like just as much wrapping and packaging as it ever was. I am my own worst enemy. I really do like to give presents, though. And when I say "a little something," I mean exactly that. It's my year to give to Brother 2, and my husband's year to give to Sister-in-Law 1, and they are both getting a lovely pile of gifts. Brother 1's "little something" is two shot glasses that I found at my church fair for 50 cents; they read "Pedro and Betty, September 16, 2011," and I find them hilarious. (Right? Or is it just me?) He's also getting a bottle of ale with a great label, called "Wild Thing" (something like that). Sister-in-Law 2's "little something" is two books from the same church fair for a dollar apiece (books I read and loved last year) and a bar of chocolate. So, see? Little things.

But they still have to be wrapped. And boxed up. And mailed. Oh, well. I think I'll watch The House Without a Christmas Tree first . . .

My migraine medication works pretty well, but it makes me sleepy. I'm actually considering skipping zumba, one of the highlights of my week, so I can just go to bed. But I know I'll regret it if I do . . . well, we'll see.

(After I finished Bossypants, I did get out of my chair and went to four stores, then came home and edited two documents, rewrote my co-president's piece for our PTO newsletter, and am now blogging. I'm not just a whiny malingerer, in other words.)

Oh! And my weight was another pound lower this morning! Life is amazing. I blame hormones for my plateau.

To zumba or not to zumba? That is the question. If you've got an opinion, case your vote now!

—Lady C, Migraine Survivor

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 113: What a Difference a Day Makes

Today's scale reading: 263.5

Woohoo! The plateau is once again an incline!

A new day has dawned.

But today is about to end for this girl; I edited all day and then ran a PTO meeting, and somewhere in there baked six dozen molasses cookies and called my bank to yell at them, and I can barely keep my eyes open.

Tomorrow, I think I get a day off (meaning, no scheduled work). This is such an amazing mid-week treat, I am almost beside myself. (Or I would be if less sleepy.) I've already thought up 97 things to do, can't wait to see which ones I pick!

But I'm starting with: No waking up to the sound of an alarm! I shall wake up naturally. Probably at my usual time — hella early — but it will be my choice.


—Lady C

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 112 (Week 16): Plateau Kinda Rhymes with Fatso

Happy Weigh-In Day. Rah.
  • Today's scale reading: 264.5
So, yes, way down from last week, which is awesome, but I'm distracted by the fact that I can't seem to break the 264 barrier — I've been dancing around this number since before Thanksgiving. It's time for a breakthrough!

(Though, did I exercise yesterday or today, despite having the best intentions? No. No I did not. Nor did I log my food. What I did instead: Drank wine. Lots of wine. And ate a Dove Dark Chocolate Peppermint Square. Okay, two. So, there's that.)

(It was a hella busy weekend, though. I got a lot done while not exercising. It seems unfair of my scale not to acknowledge this.)

I think I have to figure out how to make my personal priorities — namely, exercising and working on my novels (marketing the first, writing the second) — carry as much weight as my priorities to other people. I am so conscientious about my commitments . . . except for the ones I make to myself.

Hey, the website where I got this image is hilarious. Clearly, it's been translated from another language. Here's a sample pearl of wisdom it offers on the topic of plateaus:

            It is completely regular for any dieter to achieve the level.
          The secret is by using this because a chance to dual upward
          your time and efforts and obtain truly obvious in your
          technique to have a person to the conclusion collection.
          Beneath you will find recommendations that will help a person
          recommit for your plan as well as re-ignite the actual weight-
          loss procedure whenever you really feel questioned.

Got all that? Awesome.

Okay. Let's run some numbers. It's been 16 weeks, and I've lost 22.5 pounds — 1.4 pounds per week. My BMI was 43.6 and is now 40.2, which is still considered "obese" (lovely!) but certainly much better, si? If I keep losing at my current rate, I'll be at my goal in just over 80 weeks.

So! You have another year's worth of blog posts to look forward to, in other words.

Or maybe decades', since I am never going to get under 264. Sigh.

Off to drown my sorrows in a hot bath. I'm still reading my four books, but Bossypants by Tina Fey is winning out. What a potty mouth that funny-girl has! Who knew?

Blowing y'all a kiss from my plateau,

Lady C

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 111: Porcine Love and Colonial Highjinks!

What a fun day!

For the past few years, my friend Blogger Dawn and I, avec offspring, visit the Family Trees at Concord Museum, where each tree is decorated in the style of a children's book. It's utterly charming, and afterward we have a fine lunch at the Colonial Inn in the heart of Concord center, cradle of American liberty. It should be noted that strong spirits are often featured in this enterprise.

(Or, wait, we're well-acquainted now — do I actually have to note this, or do you take it as a given?)

Anyway. This year I was especially excited because Concord Museum was hosting a special guest: Pig, from If You Give a Pig a Pancake! I love pigs in general, and Pig is one of the most fetching pigs I've ever seen. Pig and Wilbur — I can't think of two cuter. I was determined to see Pig . . . and possibly make out a little. Blogger Dawn's daughter, a fourth-grader, found the idea of kissing Pig as exciting as all giddy-up. We were two redheads with a mission.

Except, and except. We got there at 11:30, and Pig wouldn't be there for two hours, when we'd be well into our cups. Disappointing.

But we are ladies of parts, and we were there to take in a show. Which we did. This year, my good friend and drinking buddy Sister Hart joined us, and we had a very merry time, perusing all the trees and planning which pieces of vintage china we'd like to steal if the museum's alarms suddenly shorted out. (Because, that? Is simply being prepared, people.)

Dawn pointed out the lyrics to the drinking song that we laugh over every year, a lusty ditty titled "Fathom the Bowl." My favorite verse:

My wife she do disturb me when I’m laid at my ease
She does as she likes and she says as she please
My wife, she’s a devil, she’s black as the coal
Give me the punch ladle, I’ll fathom the bowl

I’ll fathom the bowl, I’ll fathom the bowl
Give me the punch ladle, I’ll fathom the bowl

I decided to set it to music and belted out a bluesy version (in my opinion). My compatriots rolled their eyes but the masculine docent standing nearby was charmed. (Remember him, he shows up again later.)

We concluded the visit without incident and were off to lunch, where Brunie joined us. (She's less about the culture, more about the eating.) We had a truly delicious meal (Dawn and I marveled over the Bloody Mary menu), and I stuck to my diet plan of salad and wine — (oh, lots of wine) — but then got distracted by the dessert menu, which promised "Espresso and Mini Doughnuts." Yum! A little taste of sweet and strong coffee, exactly what I wanted. (A desire I also vocalized.)

Except, and except. I didn't read the menu closely enough (after multiple glasses of Chardonnay) or my high school French utterly escaped me (also possible), but I somehow didn't "get" that the espresso in question was in fact espresso pots du creme, or, for those of you who are likewise (a) slightly inebriated, or (b) French-less, a cup of coffee pudding with a giant blob of really solid whipped cream on top.

Our server, who was challenged in all kinds of ways, seemed surprised that I wanted coffee in addition to this repast. "Changed your mind, did you?" she said, looking a tad put out. Yeah . . . I changed my mind . . . when I got a cup of coffee pudding instead of a cup of coffee. Jeepers, silly me.

We were out of there at 2:35, meaning, we still had time to catch Pig! Off we dashed to the museum . . . but no Pig. "He's here," the desk ladies assured us, "he just needed a break."

(My husband's done the character-costume thing; believe me, I know it's a sauna in there.)

So we were standing around, just waiting — and then Pig stepped out of a side room, looking as cute as an Easter basket full of puppies, and I let out an involuntary squeal.

An involuntary and very audible squeal, to the point where everyone in the museum turned to look at me, and Pig himself (a neat trick, considering that his face is sewn on) seemed to raise his eyebrows. But then he waved shyly at me, and I threw my arms around him, and we are now living happily ever after.

Well, something like that.

After I squealed, the masculine docent, who happened to be nearby, chuckled and said, "Still in fine voice, I see." 

(I was embarrassed. And I didn't make out with Pig, who, from his diminutive size, appeared to be an adolescent. With encephalitis. It just seemed wrong.)

It was a simply perfect day — fine friends, fine food, a celebration of wonderful children's literature, and a tender moment with Pig.

And now I'm enjoying my quiet clean house; Li'l Martini is at a sleepover with his besty, Mimosa went to dinner with her dad, and I'm about to sit down with some hot coffee and the pile of things to read that grows throughout the week, and then walk on my treadmill. (I am feeling no need for dinner after that fine and large mid-day meal — and if I get hungry, I'll eat an apple.)

Pig + Lady C 4-Evah !!

Lady Chardonnay

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 110: Shopaholic Takes New England (Alcohol-Free!)

I stayed up quite late last night finishing my criminal justice job (YAY) but had to get up at the same ol' time because my writers group met this morning, at 8:30. I really like my writers group; we all write very different things, so we're not competing, and we all write stuff that's fun to read. And today I wasn't on the hot seat, which is always more comfortable.

But when I got home, the idea of sitting back down to work simply didn't appeal. Instead, I figured out how I could cross several more things off my Christmas shopping list just in one section of Arlington, and off I went. And I'm very proud of myself, because I had lunch at one of my favorite Mexican places but didn't (1) eat cheesy chorizo dip, or (2) order from the sangria menu.

(Yes. There are so many sangrias to choose from, they have a sangria menu. Probably this is common in California, but not in New England, I assure you!)

Though I can't say I ate lightly; I polished off every bite of my enchiladas with creamed poblano peppers, black beans, rice, small side of guac, basket of chips, and Diet Coke with fresh lime. And it was goooooood.

So I ate a tiny supper, most fruit and veg, and now I'm going to do penance on my treadmill. And then a hot bubble bath, while I alternate between the four excellent library books I'm reading and the new Entertainment Weekly that came today. How I love options!

And I got so much shopping done! I need to buy one more thing for my pally Mrs. Cynicletary, gift cards for her kids, one more thing for my son, one more thing for Good Neighbor Anne's wonderful daughter, and maybe a few little things for my family's stockings — and that's it! And these people are all local, I can shop for them on Christmas Eve if I want to.

(Which I did one year, at Staples. I can't remember why Staples, but that's where I found myself. It worked out fine, as I recall. Staples has good stuff.)

I did do some editing work this afternoon, and made a nice dinner for my family, and wrapped my dad's birthday presents and got them packaged to mail. His birthday is December 16 and Li'l Martini's is December 21, and having a birthday that close to Christmas just isn't sporting, if you ask me. Fortunately, Li'l Martini loves sharing his birth month with Jesus and delights in how the world celebrates right along with him, so it's all good. In contrast, Dad is a major Grinch who wouldn't let us put up Christmas decorations until his birthday had been celebrated. Bah, humbug.

(The outdoor decorations, aka my husband's one Christmas job, still aren't up. Just saying.)

Today I submitted my timesheet for the last two weeks. Keep in mind, I work part-time, and my goal is to hit between 10 and 20 hours a week (so I'll have time for novel-writing, don'tcha know). This week, I billed . . . 59 hours. Crazytown.

But the paycheck will be great!

Off to walk. And sweat. And regret. I could've brought half that lunch home, I don't know what I was thinking.

But my shopping's almost done!

—Lady C

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 109: "I Like How It Feels"

(Me and Enrique Iglesias.)

Tonight was my last sexy-dancey zumba class, at least until March. I can audit this teacher's classes in the meantime, but the two times she teaches are both bad for me. Well, we'll see. I will really miss her class.

"I Like How It Feels" is the song we warm up to in my other zumba class, and I am completely obsessed with it. I had an Amazon credit for a free MP3 download, and now Enrique sings to me 17 times a day. I did our warm-up dance for Mr. Lady C; it involves a very sexy hip roll as we run our fingers from our lips to our loins, and I thought my little precious would stroke out on the spot. 

(He gave my routine a thumbs up . . . once he came to.)

Short post tonight; I've decided to muscle through and finish the Criminal Justice unit, just to get it off my plate. I've already got more work piled up, waiting for me. Well, as I always say, I can use the dough. I'm saying it a little more weakly, though. I'm tired.

Oh, well! One more week of work, and then I'm taking two weeks of vacay, and that will be lovely.

Oh! I finally talked to my zumba crush tonight. She is in fact Russian and quite young; her kids are 3 and 5. She's a darling girl and so very very bendy. Our zumba teacher danced with two people tonight, which I've never seen her do before, and the two people she danced with were me and my zumba crush. Cool, huh?

Do svidaniya!

—Lady C

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 108: Results! (Kinda)

I was stretching in bed last night, trying to elongate my dowager's hump, and I crossed my arms over my head — and then went, "Huh." I double-checked, and, yep, my elbows are definitely skinnier.


This is the second place I've officially noticed weight loss: my fingers and now my elbows.

Just what a girl dreams of.

As for my thighs (which have always touched, even when I was relatively thin), my big fat face, and my stomach flap — as far as I can tell, they're haven't decreased an iota.

But my weight was much better this morning, I'm once again a pound away from where I should be, and that is a good feeling. I'm back on track. Probably I'll notice my skinny heels next, or my slender earlobes. Woo.

I'm breakfasting on Trader Joe's Greek Style Nonfat Mixed Berry Yogurt with Added Fiber, and I gotta say, I love my buddy Joe but his yogurt isn't as good as Chobani's. And the words "with Added Fiber" make me feel all skeevy. I can just hear a Monty Python character or Dudley Moore helpfully adding, "It will make you poo!" I think I like my fiber to happen naturally. And silently.

Crazy day ahead, that's why I'm posting now:
  • Fabio will work on my kitchen some more, whenever he shows up. (At the moment, the contents of three kitchen counters are on the dining room table; it will be nice to have my kitchen back.)
  • Dentist appointment at 9:40.
  • Errands to run — I must get to the post office to mail my Betsy-Tacy ornament, which has been packaged and ready to mail for days! (This will make sense to half of you)
  • Kids arrive home at 11:45; another blessed early release day.
  • Oft-rescheduled lunch date with clients at noon (which may well be rescheduled again, everyone seems to be sick. Except me! Though my shoulder hurts and I'm a hunchback, that should get me out of something)
  • Criminal Justice Unit 1 to finish editing, plus a proposal with a tight deadline.
  • Take Mimosa to and from karate. (She's only a few weeks away from her black belt! We are proud. And a little afraid)
  • Figure out how to feed kids two meals with no kitchen.
Awesome! (Man, I'm tired already.)

Must go brush whole-grain cereal out of my teeth before I see my darling dentist. Her office is all women, and there's such a happy femmy vibe. And the magazines are great.

(It's chilly here. How can I dress to accentuate my newly svelte elbows? A challenge.)

—Lady C

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 107: Not . . . the Day I Expected

What I expected:
  • Fabio would come and fix my kitchen and bathroom ceiling, my wiggly toilet, and my front door that hasn't latched properly since July. (Yes, we're sleeping in an unsecured house. This makes my mother crazy. Fortunately, burglars aren't at the top of my list of fears — which my faithful readers already know. Burglars, shmurglars, but if you let a grasshopper in the house, there will be hell to pay.)
  • I would finish editing Criminal Justice, Unit 1.
  • The bank would return my call, tell me that we're approved for a home equity line of credit, and finally answer the question I've been asking since day one: How do you actually pay a contractor with a line of credit?
What happened instead:
  • Fabio made a decent start on the ceilings, though I'm a tad perturbed by all the little hairy things hanging down. (I'm pretty sure little hairy things is the technical term.) Will he shave those off before he paints over them? I will dislike a hairy ceiling. I don't mean to be picky.
  • My client sent me 30 pages of references to track down and format properly in APA style, which took priority over any other job. Thirty pages. Of references. I actually like doing references, but only for five pages or so. After that . . . you need some kind of narrative, man. Thirty pages of references is nothing but drudgery. And my shoulder, which has been bothering me for days, is now killing me. Time to hit the Motrin bottle!
  • I called the bank. Then I called again. We are dream borrowers; why are they messing with me? (Probably because they know I'm too lazy and intimidated by financial stuff to withdraw my application at this point and start again elsewhere. They can tell.) The woman I spoke with, "Neerja" (that's how she said it — is that a name?), has not received our paperwork yet. The paperwork we mailed nine days ago. She also didn't seem to know that I am a customer at her bank, possessing both a checking and a savings account. We're conditionally approved (which I already knew), and she thinks she'll have an answer for me any day now! And she promises to call me right away! As soon as she knows! Chirp, chirp!
She did answer my question about how to pay a contractor, so that is something. And she thinks I'm not asking for enough money (you know, for the line of credit I don't have yet) — she thinks I should have $100,000. Neerja, you so get me.

In the midst of reference editing, I took a break and ordered a thousand presents on Amazon; slowly, slowly, I'm closing in on the holiday shopping finish line — and that is a good feeling. And even though I hate working so much, my paycheck will actually be bigger than my husband's this week — my husband, the tenured college professor! It doesn't happen often, but I get a little charge when it does.

Oh! Another nice thing that happened: Nurse Kathy stopped by with a plate of cheese, crackers, and cake from her mom's 75th birthday party. And this was great, because I couldn't get into my own kitchen; Fabio had everything sani-wrapped for my protection. So I had a nice little lunch and shared the cake with Mimosa when she got home, which endeared me to my daughter — always a good thing.

So .  . . it hasn't been a bad day, exactly. Just — not what I expected.

I also chose a roof color. We're going with Pewter Gray, which will be classic and elegant, and nicely set off my dove gray house and royal purple door and shutters. And I heard from my new-front-step guys, who I thought wouldn't be able to start till next spring, but apparently can start in two weeks. New front steps (and railings, which we've never had) will be a lovely thing, this winter. It's all coming together.

Gee, hope we get that line of credit! Work your magic, Neerja.

Zumba soon — and I need to sweat. I'm feeling old and arthritic, and I think I'm getting a dowager's hump.

And it's time to see that scale move.

—Achy Breaky Lady C

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 106: Very Small Steps

Another crazy-busy day and again no time to exercise. It doesn't help that I get so sweaty and gross and absolutely need to shower afterward, which doesn't always work out if I've got a lot of daytime activities. Today I had two parent-teacher conferences, plus a meeting with a contractor; my son came home at 11:15 (early release day! how parents loathe it!!!), and we decorated our Christmas tree. I also did a ton of copy-editing and finally made it through the whole criminal justice unit. (Though the writer continues to send me updated versions of sections I've already edited, which drives me mental. But what can I do — if they want to pay me twice, so be it.)

So — a lot of sitting. But I ate tiny meals and lots of fresh vegetables; I had a glass of eggnog during tree-decorating, which is traditional, but then switched to coffee; and several times today I was aware of being a little hungry but didn't eat. (I know that many people are fans of the constant-small-meal diet, but for me it works better to stick to just the three meals if I possibly can.)

This is my last week with two scheduled zumba classes, and I'll be able to go to both of them — and it looks like a treadmill walk will easily fit into my schedule on Wednesday and Friday. So! This week will have lots of exercise. Today — whatever. I did my best.

Small steps. Small steps. December is a month of yummy treats and over-the-top celebrating. It makes sense that it's a challenge. January is a month of resolution and willpower. If I can get through December, January will be a frosty picnic.


(The tree looks very pretty, and my decorated living room and dining room are sparkly and beautiful. I light a pine-scented candle next to my computer, and it makes me feel all happy and glowy and Christmassy. I love this time of year!)

(And I dearly love Hood Golden EggNog. I don't know what's in it, and I don't want to. That stuff is soooooo good, and I only have it once a year. Will it be my undoing? Time will tell.)

My goal is to proof at least five pages of The Cheerleader every night, so I'll do that now before I turn in. (It's work but also a true labor of love, and I am so happy to do it.) And I finally started watching Downton Abbey, which is lovely, and I have two awesome-looking books from the library, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and the one about the woman who's lost her short-term memory and wakes up every day not knowing who she is, and maybe her husband isn't telling her the whole truth — anyway, lots of fun things on my plate, in addition to the work work work. I think I'll finish the CJ unit tomorrow, and I'm very much hoping for a little break before the next unit comes along. But — I can also use the dough, so . . . I'll play the hand I'm dealt.

Last night I ran into an old friend I haven't seen in a while. He and I were close during one of my Weight Watcher phases, so I expected him to notice that I've lost some weight — and then realized that I'm heavier now, even minus my 20 pounds, than I was then. I mean, significantly heavier. So that was a bit of a thud.

But, again, what can I do? Keep on keepin' on. That's it.

My kittens, Fenton and Duke, have never seen a Christmas tree before. They're behaving themselves right now, under the family's watchful eye, but I'll be interested to see what we wake up to tomorrow. My cat Wendell had a fetish for a particular ornament, a little Raggedy Ann sitting on a sled, and no matter where I'd put it on the tree, he managed to extricate it and carry it around in his mouth all day. Wendell is with the angels now, and Raggedy Ann is still on the tree, a little more raggedy and sporting a few proud tooth marks.

Love this time of year!

—Lady C

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 105 (Week 15): "I Know What to Do"

Weight up, no surprise. But today I woke with these words in my head. I know what I need to do, and I will do it.

However, I've completely run out of time and don't have another minute to post — The Good Wife is about to start! Priorities, man.

More tomorrow, I promise!

—Lady C, in a tearing hurry

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 104: Backsliding

A little depressed — I seem to have misplaced my drive. Maybe I'm just distracted by Christmas. Today we quickly did our basic chores (and it always puts me in a foul mood to take a closer look at what filthy pigs my beloveds are), then got out the boxes (and boxes and boxes) of Christmas decorations. My children set up the Nativity scene with great joy, then Mimosa absconded with the box of Christmas books, Li'l Martini headed to his computer, and I never saw them again.

I like decorating, I don't need anyone helping me, but it's disappointing that no one wants to. I remember my brothers and I being excited to do it with Mom. At least, I think that's what I remember — maybe it really was just me.

But in any event, in order to keep myself from slipping into martyrdom, the wine started flowing at a rather early hour . . . and then came leftover mac & six cheeses for lunch . . . and then came White Roman pizza for dinner, my favey fave, and I ate four slices . . . And no, I didn't exercise or anything. I decorated for Christmas, drank wine, and talked to my mom. That was my exertion today.

And tonight, I cuddled on the couch with the kids and drank bad cocoa and they ate Christmas cookies while we read three Christmas books.

I do truly adore Christmas. So now I have to figure out how to make embracing all the wonders of the season compatible with glamorous weight loss.

Tomorrow is Weigh In Day, and I'll have a sure gain. I'm depressed about that too. I'm not sure why I feel so off track.

I really, really hope I make time to take a long walk tomorrow. I think not exercising all week, save for one zumba class, has been the biggest issue. I have to also figure out a way to make myself exercise when I'm feeling buried under work — once I sit down at my computer, it is almost impossible to extricate myself. But I gotta do it.

Time for bed — I'm exhausted. Too tired to take a bath, even, and you know that's saying something!

—Lady C

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 103: The Best Part of My Day Is Still to Come

It felt like a day of trade-offs:
  • I brought some bottles to the school's Bottle & Can Drive and got them out of my house BUT I never washed my hair
  • I made two phone calls I've been putting off BUT I didn't exercise
  • I cooked a fabulous dinner for my family, which made everyone happy, BUT I drank a cocktail (which in general is fine, except today I did nothing to "earn" all those calories)
  • I got lots of online Christmas shopping done BUT bought almost nothing for my dad and my son, two people who also have birthdays in December and are going to need lots of presents!
  • I got a lot of criminal justice editing done BUT I still haven't made it all the way through the unit, which had been my goal for today
BUT. I'm stopping now and declaring myself done (with editing work, anyway) for the weekend. Tomorrow we will do our chores and then take down the boxes of Christmas decorations, which I always love. And tonight . . .

Tonight (meaning now), I will curl up with my darling Mimosa, dearest of daughters, and watch Ringer and Two Broke Girls and Glee and Suburgatory, and we will drink Candy Cane Tea and maybe eat a cookie or two. And after she goes to bed, I will either take a bath or (more likely) watch the very last two episodes of Season 2 of The Good Wife, which is so freaking good I'm dying of it.

So. Today, I was nobody's poster girl for weight loss. In fact, it's been not the best week in that regard. Tomorrow . . . will be better? What else can I say.

Off to cuddle — it's Mommy 'n' Mimosa time! (I will go tell that to her. Try to imagine how my 14 year old will groan.)


—Lady C, suburban Lorelai, devoted Mum