Christmas is almost here.  11 more days.

It's been nearly a month since I last posted and the time has flown for us!

We've vacationed in VA and had an amazing Thanksgiving and visit with our son, Taylor, Sarah and grand-daughters.  I also managed to (slip on a wood staircase, fall on my back and crack a rib.  Leave it to me.

I came down sick with a cold the day after we arrived in VA, which seems to now have morphed into something that has made off with my voice and left me with a cough that is not doing my rib any good at all.

Catching up...the lights on our house festively lit for Christmastime.

This is the view of the Bay the night of my company Christmas dinner.  San Diego is such a beautiful city.

Our tree with the multicolor lights lit.

Beautiful artwork cards and a stocking that our grand-daughters made us. 

Sweet Isabel.  She turned 5 months on December 5th.


♥ Emma and Kailee ♥ 

♥ Isabel ♥

Sweet sisters

Last but not least, our grand-pup, Havana! 

Time to start our shopping...



Sometimes a revelation hits me like a freight train. 

Sometimes it whispers in my ear after decades of doing things backwards. 

In my endeavors to lose weight and get healthy, I've read every book, attempted a lot of "diets"  (I hate that word) and failed each and every time.


I finally figured this out.  It's simple and makes so much sense. I have to follow 3 simple rules every day for the rest of my life.  If I do that, my weight will reduce, my health will improve and I'll feel better! 

Here are the 3 rules for me:

  • Eat a balanced amount of healthy whole foods every day. Aim to do this as much as you can (80% of the time) and stay away from processed foods, fast food, diet food, low-fat, low-calorie, light, and any other artificially manipulated or chemically altered food.  Yes, eat the good stuff (butter, full fat sour cream, milk, cream in your coffee, etc.), BUT eat them in small balanced amounts. It's all good food! Calories do count, so count them but relax and savor your delicious meals.

  • Get outside and be physically active every single day. Break a sweat!  Walk, hike, run, bike, jump rope, hula hoop, play hopscotch, skip, lift weights, swing kettlebells, or roller-skate. Play tennis, soccer, golf, hockey or softball. Dance, cheer, take the stairs, walk your dog. Do something. Every day. (Aim for 5 days a week--life gets busy)

  • Forget what you weigh.  Get rid of the bathroom scale.  It is evil and will make you crazy.  You do not need to know what you weigh.  EVER.  Your doctor will track your weight when you go for an annual physical. You do not need to step on a scale at any other time for any other reason.  Not once a month. Not once a week and certainly, NOT EVER, once a day.
That's it.

I've been following these rules for the past two and a half months and here's what's happened.

I'm wearing smaller clothes* and have more energy, I'm handling my stress better and enjoying every day of my freedom from the scale and disappointment that comes from not reaching some magic number by a certain date or event--and believing I have failed.  And giving up. 

*I had a dr appointment two weeks ago and verified a 23 pound weight loss 

The difference is that I'm doing this to feel GREAT, be HEALTHY and reap the BENEFITS for the long haul (as in forever).  I am not deprived.  I can eat a dessert, drink a glass of wine, and participate in celebrations and social occasions without freaking out about breaking some dietary rule.

I know I have said it is simple and it is, but of course there are details I didn't include in my rules (because I know them), but I will break them down in future posts.

I plan to write more posts on this subject, so check back in here for reports on my progress and discussion.



We decided to celebrate our birthdays together and we had an amazing night of wine, food and song.

We started our evening out with a drive up the coast and had the most delicious dinner at Vigilucci's Cucina Italia. 

We arrived early and found two seats at the bar and sipped a glass of Vigilucci Merlot until our reservation time.

Our dinner began with bread and a plate of dipping oil/balsamic vinegar.

I ordered Ricotta Ravioli with Vodka Cream Sauce and it was so good.  Light but so much great flavor.  Bruce ordered the Chicken Alfredo and it wasn't super heavy, but light and with equally great flavor!
After dinner, we walked down to the intimate venue of the New Arts Village Theater and listened to a concert by Jack Tempchin.  It was such a great evening of music and stories and Jack's wine Peaceful Easy Feeling was available by the glass to enjoy with his music.  I opted for a cup of hot coffee with cream, to savor after dinner.
A perfect night of new and old songs, good food and good wine.



I follow Kelly's Korner and I am linking up this week.

I have an eclectic taste in books, but I have been drawn to mysteries, whether fiction or true crime since I can remember. Here is the backstory to my love of crime novels.

I've been reading mysteries, crime novels and thrillers since I was a freshman in high school.  The first book I remember being taken captive by, when I was in the 9th grade was 'The Godfather', by Mario Puzo.

  The next book was 'Helter Skelter', a true crime novel by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry.

Helter Skelter
 I was both creeped out and drawn in by the  very scary and true story of Manson.  It was my first exposure to such a heinous crime spree and sick mind. Ironically, it was what drew me to Criminal Justice and attaining my degree in Criminal Justice and Pre-Law.

Shortly after that, I discovered the 'Deadly Sins' series by Lawrence Sanders. 

Finally, after years of reading stories by Steven King and Dean Koontz, I found a series by an author that I follow to this day.  Jonathan Kellerman's 'Alex Delaware' series. I love mystery novel and I am a mystery writer, too.  I'm not published (yet), but I am a writer all the same. 

When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware, #1)

I admit that I am behind a few years in reading his novels (not prioritizing my reading over the priorities in everything else in my life) but Kellerman's Alex Delaware is a series I've been reading for over a decade and look forward to each new novel published.  Note to self...read them NOW.  So they are on my winter reading list. 

Yep, you may not think that I have an eclectic taste in books, but I do.  Same with music (but that is another blog post entirely).  Right now,  I am reading "The Swing" by Tracy Reifkind, an author I follow as closely as I do Jonathan Kellerman, but with Tracy, for the best fitness and health tips and I read  and follow her blog.

I enjoyed reading "A Lotus Grows in the Mud" by Goldie Hawn and would like to read more books she has authored.

Front Cover

I love the list of books that Kelly listed too and I can't wait to check them out. I will also be checking out the lists of all of the rest of the bloggers who linked to Kelly's blog post too!



It's that time of year again.

NaNoWriMo!  I'm working on a new piece of fiction for this year.  I've set aside my work in progress from July and begun a fresh new storyline.

November always seems like such a busy month for me.  Why the heck is that? I have a to-do list with birthdays, writing and we have travel planned for some of this month too...I'm planning on getting some writing done while we are gone.  Maybe a change of landscape and city will inspire some gritty writing for me?

That's what I am banking on!

I also plan to stay up on my exercise while we are away!  I'm mapping out some walking routes to take on during our trip!  I'm pledging to keep active while I enjoy some indulgent vacation treats!

So here we go for November!



We had a happy, busy Saturday. This morning, we met our son, daughter-in-law and grandson, Ethan, at Bates Nut Farm to pick out pumpkins.  We hadn't been to Bates since our youngest 4 children were kids....14 years ago.  It had changed, become more commercialized and it was packed!  But it was still so much fun!

Ethan still had fun traipsing around the pumpkins, fascinated with the John Deere tractor pulling cars of hay and riders around the farm.  There were lots of other families and many brought their dogs to enjoy the beautiful, sunny day!
Ethan and Daddy

♥♥ A beautiful family  ♥♥

We picked out two pretty pumpkins to put on our front porch.  We also lucked out with three beautiful floral plants to add to our porch and the two clay pots in front of our driveway, making our home look ready for Fall!
Our front porch



Last night, our first rain storm of the season moved through the county, slicking roads and snarling traffic, making my drive home longer and more dangerous than usual.  But, I took a deep breath and turned up the volume on my radio and remained patient while cruising at 30 mph. Most of the other drivers were behaving too! 

I love rainy days and nights and all the great things this season brings.  Fires in the fireplace, red wine, warm sweaters and scarves, boots and gloves, visits to the mountains to traipse in the snow, hot drinks in over-sized ceramic mugs and the crisp, clean way the air smells after a good rain!

I was tempted to bypass my workout and just snuggle up on the couch with a glass of the aforementioned red wine.  I was feeling stressed, tired and hungry but I knew my workout would make me feel great afterwards, so I did it and I did feel great after. 

I am finishing up my fifth week of new health habits and it is feeling like a natural routine to me now.  I'm glad we are coming into cooler weather too, because it feels much better to me in our garage since it is not 85 degrees out there anymore! 

I am eating really good whole food and keeping away from nearly all processed foods.  I can still stand to make some improvement on drinking more water.  I drink an average 2 liters of water each day, but I'd like to increase that to drink 3 liters a day.

Physical activity 5 days a week.   check. 
Eat healthy, whole foods.            check.
Drink lots of water.                     check, (most of the time).

I'm staying on track and feeling good! I look at each day as a new chance to improve my health and fitness.  

I am looking forward to this weekend. I will get two more workouts in AND enjoy some celebratory glasses of wine at our daughter's wedding! Stay tuned for photos!  



So, I thought I'd share a revelation of sorts for me, with all of you.  I'm ditching my "goals" and my bathroom scale. I can hear the chorus of WHAT??  I'll explain.

When I re-started this (weight-loss, get fit, be healthy) journey, I did so with a new perspective.  A perspective that is different from how I have EVER thought about it before.  I've got to do this everyday forever.  Goals hinder me in that process.

So, instead of setting goals that lead to being obsessed and driven to reach a particular number on the scale or even working solely to get into a certain size of clothing, my sole focus now is to begin each day with a promise to eat healthy, whole food, drink 3 liters of water and get in some kind of physical activity. 

Since this is a lifelong commitment (right?), I realized I have to establish good habits, and not make this simply something I am doing to reach a number or even a size. (Because, then what?)

I used to be OBSESSED with my "goals", which was useful for attaining them (short term) but also, left me repetitively disappointed. There are so many variables that can sabotage one's goals and I was vulnerable to each one.  An injury, water weight, muscle gains....none of which can be avoided but which all affect the measure of success toward an ultimate goal.

Getting on the scale and discovering that after a week of on track eating, working out hard each day there was no change...or a gain.  I would be at the least disappointed and in some instances, overcome with defeat and the urge to quit.  Sometimes, I did quit. 

Ultimately, I want to feed my body nourishing food, drink plenty of water and stay active so that I can continue to enjoy good health (or better health).

This thought process is also why I have abandoned my scale, as I shared in another post. I'll admit that it has taken me a very long time to reach this mindset (and never occurred to me to approach it in this manner before) but it feels good.  Manageable for my lifetime.
I know this method won't appeal to everyone or, maybe anyone, and that's okay. I am sharing my thoughts to present an option for consideration for anyone working on weight loss, becoming more physically fit and improving their health.

Bottom line, do what works for you, but do something.



I've been working out now for 3 weeks and eating healthy for 4 weeks.  I can already feel my clothes are fitting better and in some cases loose, and I actually look forward to my workouts! 

I am measuring my progress by how my clothes fit (dropping clothing sizes) and by my ability to run longer, faster and push myself more each workout.  I can see a big improvement in my fitness level in the three weeks.

I am currently working out 5 days a week.  I am taking a class one night a week for 7 weeks, so I don't work out that day, since I am not home.  Fridays are my "rest" day so that my weekend days (when I have more leisure time) can be dedicated to a workout, bike ride, hike, etc.  I'm very pleased that this schedule is do-able for me.

We went to Julian yesterday (for a softball get-together) and while the guys did some batting practice before we joined them for a BBQ), we girls walked into town, ate some some breakfast and walked around and shopped.  I kept my breakfast healthy with two eggs and fresh fruit! (I ate just a small part of my cute heart shaped biscuit). 

I'm feeling good and I'm ready to take on October with strong determination and focus!  



Thanks to a friend in an online fitness group I belong to, I am using a fun fitness app that makes me look forward to running on the treadmill.  I love a good story and this app has that.

The app is called "Zombies, Run!"  It is a game/and fitness app in one.  I am Runner 5 and I can follow the storyline, listen to my own playlist of songs woven in and burn calories!

I ran the first "Mission" and then I downloaded the 5k program app (a couch to 5k training program) which has the same storyline as the game and have begun using this app and will complete it before going on my second "Mission".

I've been enjoying my workouts and using all of my gadgets to help me track my progress. I am able to see improvement in my workouts already as I make my way through week 2 and that is encouraging!  You train at your own pace and run as much as you can or walk when you have to.  So beginners or experienced runners can use this app.  You can also use it outside or on a treadmill (like me).

Who would have thought I'd be having so much fun with my workouts?  Certainly not me. 

If you are looking for a fun app to get you moving...check it out! 



I know it's not January 1st, but I'd finally had enough of being inactive and out of shape and got back into workout mode.

Actually, it is more than that.  Last week (Tuesday to be exact), I started paying better attention to what I was eating and how much I was eating and made some changes so that I was eating more healthful and cut my portions.  I also began drinking more water (48-64 ounces a day).

Saturday was my first day back (in forever) to complete a cardio workout.  I have a new gizmo to help me track my training--a heart rate monitor (HRM).  Mine is a Polar FT40 and I love it.  So anywhoo...I hooked it up and set it to record my training.  I sweated out 30 minutes alternating walking and running in my 87 degree garage, thankfully, with a fan blowing and bottle of cold water and my "must have" music to help me.  I listened to Matchbox Twenty (North) on shuffle and lip synced to my favorite songs (when I was not gasping for air--haha).

On Sunday, after I got home from church, I (made myself work out) repeated my cardio workout...improving my distance and calorie burn...then rewarded myself by relaxing in the pool for an hour or so.  The water in our pool was 94 and it was awesome.  The sky was blue and clear of thunderheads and it was so much less humid than it has been. 

This morning, I crawled (or so it felt) out of bed at 4:55 and somehow was able to get my work out clothes on, my shoes tied, hair pulled up and attach my HRM on AND complete my cardio workout without any mishaps. 

I am one week into eating healthier and three days into working out.  I'll be adding some strength training (ST) workouts 3x a week to the mix and may be attending a once a week class at our church for strengthening and stretching (which I need just as much).   

I am packing my healthy lunches again.  Here is my lunch for today.  Green salad with 1/2 chicken breast seasoned with lemon pepper, baby carrots and hummus.  I also have some Triscuit Brown Rice crackers to go with it. 

Have a healthful, happy week! 



September is here!  Some great things are happening.

Last night we attended a service at our church's newest campus opening -- in East County.  We attended a "sneak peek" service (they are working out all of the logistic bugs for three weeks prior to the first service on September 15).  It was awesome! 

Yesterday was also our Pastor's first Sunday back after his summer sabbatical and his message was so powerful! I can't wait until next Sunday! 

In a couple of weeks, I will begin attending a Citizen's Academy that is hosted by our Sheriff's Department and District Attorney's office.  I'm thrilled to be accepted into the program and am excited about the topics that will be covered.  Right up my alley--my degree is in Criminal Justice--and this will be a boost to my resume/career and for my writing.

September is also the month of my girls' weekend in La Quinta...always a good time of laying by the pool, reading magazines, girl talk, and lots of laughter. 

September is still a "summer weather" month for us and I'll be making a batch of Gazpacho today, for some healthy, cold deliciousness to eat this week. 

September is going to be a great month of change!



Hot, humid August has come to a close...tonight's beautiful sunset...08/31/2013
Twenty-four Jars of Jalapeno Jelly...cooked, canned, cooled...ready


Rear window view of a fire west of our home--our firefighters are heroes!

Summer self portrait

I'm looking forward to Fall.  How about you?                                



I think I've just had an "aha" moment.  I read this article and suddenly had an epiphany.
Facebook is a background noise that distracts me from living.

I've given the idea of quitting Facebook some serious consideration in the past --in fact, I did quit (for less than a week) a year or so ago--but I've been wrestling a lot more with the idea lately. In fact, I've been wrestling so much, that it feels like a UFC fight inside my head.

I've begun to imagine what my life could look like without Facebook and I like that vision.  I am overstimulated by mostly useless information, that I admit makes "real life" feels rushed and diluted.  It is like I see life in washed out colors instead of vivid technicolor. That's sad.  I am guilty of wasting too much time checking in, posting an occasional status and reading others statuses, videos, articles, songs.
I have a list of things (a mile long) that I can/should/want to be doing instead of Facebook. Here are the first 15 that came to mind:

go to church/read my bible
work out
meal plan and cook
begin the afghan I have the yarn and pattern for
spend time outside (riding my bike, taking a walk, hiking)
meet friends for coffee, drinks, lunch, dinner, breakfast
work on my writing
call family and friends
write letters
make jalapeno jelly
home projects (that are an entire list of their own)
artistic/creative endeavors

I wholeheartedly agree with the points made by the author in her article (above).  I confess that logging onto Facebook often manages to irritate me more than anything else.   I get enough irritation at work and just working through the challenges in life in general without additional "self-inflicted-stupid-Facebook irritation" --why has it taken so long for me to figure that out? 

That being said, I am grateful for Facebook for the continuity I have with my family and friends who live out of state--most importantly, with my children and grand-babies that I see and talk to on Facebook everyday and I don't want to lose that.

So it's time for me to adjust the balance and fine tune my priorities.



I didn't plant a garden this year. We moved in December and since then, we've barely gotten a (partial) lawn in, shade on our patio and our pool up with lots more to do--so no garden this year. 

I still plan on making my jalapeno jelly in August, but I will have to buy my jalapenos this year. 

I have perfected my recipe to include three degrees of heat. 
Mild (lots of good flavor and tiny touch of heat)

Medium (enough heat for the masses)

Medium+ (Good heat that the guys really like!)

Habeneros are my secret addition to my original recipe.  You can read about my jelly making adventures here, here and here.

I'm looking forward to making several batches this year--maybe more with heat!  I know the guys will be happy about that! 

July has zipped by and I have still not written close to what I expected to for my Camp NaNoWriMo....anyone else out there participating?



I haven't been NaNoWriMo-ing as much as I'd planned to, but I did sit down and spend some one on one time at my desk with my laptop yesterday and feel somewhat less guilty.

I have a very good reason to not be absorbed in writing, though....I am happy to announce the birth of our newest precious grand-daughter, Isabel.  She was born July 5, 2013,  weighed 8 pounds, 13 ounces and was just shy of 21 inches long.  Healthy and beautiful, I am in love already!

I can't wait to make the trip east to go meet her and spend time with sweet big sisters Emma and Kailee and mama and daddy!

Proud Mama, Daddy with Isabel


Daddy is in love with his baby girl

                     ♥  Three sweet sisters ♥



Here's the deal.

I'm signed up for Camp Nanowrimo for the month of July...meaning I will be writing, writing, writing for 31 days. 

My goal is to write more than I wrote in November for Nanowrimo.  For the record, that was just over 14,000 words.  My goal was 50,000, so I did not come close to my goal. I started strong, but then all the sorting, packing and planning for our December move just got in the way.  Moving is like that...time consuming.

So July appears uneventful...no moving on our summer horizon (can I get a halleluiah?).  That means I should get a lot of writing done...right?

Everyone nod yes.  Thank you. 



Okay, here is a sneak peak of my 99% completed writing space. A space of my own where I can  write, create and brainstorm.  Our newly hung drapes have transformed this room into the cozy place I envisioned when we moved in.

The drapes and light fixture are hanging and I am so happy with the choices for both! 

I am still searching for the "perfect" writer's chair,  For now, I placed one of our dining room chairs with a throw pillow in it to use until I find the one meant for me.

I can't wait to find some beautiful art for the walls and a few decorative pieces for the tops of my bookshelves.


I'm pretty thrilled with the  way it is turning out and I so appreciate my hubby's hard work today getting my drapes hung. Thanks, babe!!!

(I'll post some more pics of the entire window and hanging drapes when sun is not creating such an annoying glare). 

I've had a relaxing and productive weekend.  Those are the best kind!