It’s All About Love

When I think of these tragedies that besiege us, I am reminded of Matthew 28, where we are commanded to make disciples of all, teaching what Jesus commanded. He commanded we love one another. I don’t know much about other religious mantras however, since My God is a God of love, I find it hard to believe in any “God” that directs his believers to kill. Even the Christian holy wars (for those of you gearing up to blast me) were not directed by God Almighty, but man. The new covenant with us, a sinful people, was that we have been washed clean by the Blood of The Lamb and therefore we shall no longer die but live on in Heaven along with the saints who have gone before us.

So, why does God make these heinous things happen? He DOESN’T. See, there’s this thing called free will. We have the ability to choose to follow God Almighty, the God of Love or “the other team” as Jim calls it. The other team may be Satan, or may be some other diety that is not a loving diety.

I’m not well-versed in other religions so I single no one out specifically. And, I am aware that as with Christianity, there are many “flavors”. Most Christian flavors believe in that all-loving God of Grace.

So, here I am rambling on about God (oh, Mary….AGAIN?) and praying that those affected by violence….those mourning a loss….those fearing society is doomed and with it so are we….I ramble on in a way of processing the continual  (pardon my French) shit-ifying of this world we were given to take care of….we should be preserving the environment, caring for all creatures, and loving/helping one another. Yet we are doing none of the above.

I’m going back to praying for peace. I am praying that animals, children,  and those who cannot care for themselves are cared for. I am also praying that the future holds some sort of hope. That’s just the way I am.

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Colorado Rocky Mountain High

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No, not what you think.

This was an amazing trip. If for no other reason that I met four people I have “known” online, but had never met before (Shawna, I am saying this before we meet, but that’s happening in the morning.) And it was amazing. Ah-maze-ing.

But then I got to do a 5k (almost) and drive to the summit of Pike’s Peak (almost)….Lisa understands.

I saw some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen. I was awed to tears several times.  I loved the breathtaking views of the majesty of God’s creation and I want to come back here with Jim because it is a really cool place.

Now I have to do the maniacal race back to Denver International Airport tomorrow so I can make it home to my love.

Whirlwind. Awe-inspiring. This trip was all that and more.

Picture is Pike’s Peak and Mike, Lisa’s car.

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A Tale of Two Tesla Friends

I started to write this last night but fell asleep.

I had the opportunity to meet some people yesterday that I have know for a while have never met in person.

Cindy and I had lunch and then she had a great idea to go see Red Rocks. Of course it was amazing. The ride out to Red Rocks was beautiful and the conversation was fun.

After I got back from Red Rocks. I got in my car and drove to Colorado Springs for dinner and to meet Lisa and Jeremy. This meeting was a year…well, actually fifteen years in the making. And, Lisa is the reason I’m here in Colorado to begin with.

My goal is to have pictures and stories from the Lung Force walk in Denver tomorrow so… stay tuned!

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Wow What A Day

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So, this is my little way of journaling my trip to Denver for the Lungforce Walk and Broncos 5k with my friend Lisa.

Here’s the quick catch up. I’ve known Lisa for years. But by “known” I mean mostly as Peli…..short for her Tesla message board user name. We, as Facebook friends,  have gone back and forth about running a 5k together. Last year, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung cancer. She is an amazing voice for lung cancer awareness and one of the strongest people I know. And this year….here I am in Denver…mere weeks after she has been found NED (No Evidence of Disease). Here I am.

So, I’m totally exhausted but wired. I’ve been up for around 15 hours…wait, maybe 16…and I am in bed watching Food Network. Yeah, my life is exciting.

****Can I also say that as excited as I am for this weekend, I miss Jim sumthin fierce.

And…..picture is the crazy big TV in my room.

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Pounds after pound cake

So, after a wonderful post about pound cake, I’m going to post about my “fitbit” and all. Yeah, talk about a turn around.

I’ve been using my Jawbone activity tracker for about a month when either the app died on me, or the jawbone did…and so I was activity tracker-less…just when I hit a 2nd highest Saturday yet. Of course….I tracked 13K steps on my phone and that thing ain’t too accurate so, I’m sure the Jawbone had more. But it refused to update my Up app. Not helpful at all.

Fitbtit Flex was on sale on W00t! so, I got one. In red. and I’m charging. I’m trying to follow the instructions but I’m just not sure I’m doing this right. Oh well, we’ll see, right?

I think that my activity tracker kinda taunts me tho.

Flex

Imagine this, but in a kinda deep red, close to fuchsia. That’s it. So…those of you who use them – the battery and tracker is in that little black thing, right? And my directions said to charge it until it flashes at least 3 lights. Um, it flashed 5 lights right away when I plugged it in and yet it didn’t vibrate when I pressed it during the Bluetooth sync. Anyway, I’ll figure it out or be really frustrated.

Oh, the taunting thing. I’m active. 4 days a week. The other three, sometimes I’m active, sometimes not. So…on those three days…it’s like the activity tracker is staring at me laughing and expecting me to … well, be more active. It’s kinda freaky.

Here’s hoping that Fitbit can surpass the lifespan of Jawbone (although I actually liked the Up app, and the Jawbone itself…’cept that the model I had was no longer made.)

I’ve joined the ranks of those incredibly hip excercisers and have stepped (pun intended) into the fitbit stage of my life.

More later. Or maybe not.

Oh yeah…the funny from the other day – indicating that the reason the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years was because Moses was trying to maximize his steps on his Fitbit. Yup. That would be me…NO! LET’S WALK JUST A LITTLE LONGER!! I’M ALMOST AT 20K STEPS!!!

 

 

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Coconut Pound Cake

coconut_pound_cakeOkay folks – here’s the recipe I’ve been working with for the coconut pound cake. It is based off this recipe from King Arthur Flour’s website so it’s definitely not my own base recipe…

½ c cup room temp butter (one stick)

½ cup coconut oil

1 cup coconut sugar

4 large eggs @ room temperature

2 c Flour

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ cup of unsweetened coconut

½ c coconut milk

1 tbsp coconut extract (could also use coconut rum or coconut flavored vodka)

1 tsp vanilla

(if using unsalted butter, up the salt to 1 tsp)

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 9 x 5 loaf pan (I use coconut oil spray when I bake and it gives an extra oomph to the coconut flavor)

Cream the butter and coconut oil until very light

Beat in the sugar gradually, then the eggs one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, coconut, and salt.

In another separate bowl, whisk together milk, extract or alcohol, and vanilla

Alternately add the wet & dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture starting and ending with the flour. Blend well after each addition.

Pour batter into the pan and smooth the top

Sprinkle top with coconut.

Bake the cake for 55-60 minutes until done. If the top of the cake seems to be browning too quickly, you can tent it with aluminum foil for the final 15 minutes.

Remove cake from oven, and loosen edges. Wait 5 minutes than turn it out onto a rack to cool.

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I’m also toying with subbing the canned coconut milk instead of the boxed stuff. We are big coconut fans here…

FYI, you can probably go all vegan with vegan egg substitute or all organic with the ingredients if you wanted to. I try to use as much organic as I can find here. Oh, and just so you know, I usually use King Arthur Organic Flour when I bake anyway. Happens to be my “flour of choice”

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

So, this past weekend, I made the rounds of the farm stands. At my favorite one, Indigo Farms, they had quarts of fresh picked strawberries. At my 2nd favorite,  Holden Brothers, they had rhubarb. So…well….it seemed natural.

I took the recipe from my Doubleday cookbook and gave it the Ole Mary touch.

So, along with an amazing brainstorm for the crust…here goes.

Filling:
1 pt of strawberries, cut in small pieces
2 c. Rhubarb, cut in 1/2″ pieces
2/3 c coconut sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 c fresh lemon zest

Crust:
2 c sifted flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 c cold butter
1/3 c cold vegetable shortening
1/3 c unsweetened coconut
4-6 tbsp ice water (could be more)

Streusel topping:
1/2 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 c flour
1/4 c unsweetened coconut
1/2 c coconut oil

Make the crust first:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, coconut, butter, and shortening. Pulse until mixture looks like cookie crumbs. Stream in ice water while mixing until the dough forms a ball.  Turn out onto a board and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill while you make the filling and Streusel.

Make the filling next:
In a bowl, combine strawberries, rhubarb,  and lemon zest. Add sugar and lemon juice. Let sit while preparing the Streusel.

Make the Streusel last:
In a bowl, combine sugar, coconut, and flour. Using a pastry blender (or forks work too) cut the coconut oil into the sugar, flour, and coconut mixture until it resembles pebbles.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out the crust to approx 1/4-3/8″
thick and press it into a pie plate. Strain the liquid from the strawberry – rhubarb mixture. Put the fruit in the pie shell. If it looks dry, add a bit of the liquid.

Top with Streusel. I like a lot of Streusel so I made a bit extra.

Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes. Keep an eye on it the last 5 minutes as the coconut could tend to burn.

Oh, and let me know how you like it.

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Update on the whole Working Out thing…

This is long overdue – I used to post updates on my Facebook page but for whatever leafy_greensreason, I’m busy working during working hours. So…here goes.

I’m on week 3 of Nutri-System. I haven’t been as “religious” about it as I should, but I try my best to stick to it 6 days a week. Saturday is tough because we have pizza night every Saturday and due to the fact that I can eat a whole large pizza on my own with no-one’s help (insert an emoji of a person stabbing another for the last piece of pizza here) I figure I’m 5 slices ahead if I just eat two pieces on Saturday night. It does beg the question of why we don’t get “extra points” for being good about not binge eating. And by extra points I do mean a significant subtraction of pounds when stepping on the scale.

I do know that I briefly lost 3 or 4 pounds. Sadly, I found them again. I don’t know if I can ever figure out how to make the scale be my friend aside from never stepping on it. After purchasing a scale last week, I weighed myself 5 times in the first two days and my weight fluctuated around 8 pounds in those 5 times so…I gave up weighing myself since the last time I stepped on it, I was up about 3 lbs from before going to the gym. I don’t know…

And, most importantly…for the past two weeks, I’ve been wearing yoga pants that previously did not fit to work out in. And, two different pairs of jeans this week fit me that didn’t fit about a month ago. That said, it’s hard for me to know for sure if I’m losing inches because the jeans I typically wear fall down regardless of how much I weigh…I don’t know – I guess they stretched out (no, no lycra in these…just plain ole Old Navy Jeans). Yeah, I’m full of conundrums this post.

I did get my measurements taken last Friday, I think. I was down an inch in bust and hips but up 2″ in my waist. Huh? See why this is so frustrating to me?

Anyway, I have been trying to do a little bit of C25K training as I can – mostly weekends because 3 days a week up at 5 AM to go to the gym, the other two work days, I am worn slap out and don’t get up until 7:30-7:45 to work.

I’m all registered for the 5K I’m walking in Denver on June 11. Check my Facebook page – I would love it if y’all donate – it’s a fundraiser for Lungforce – Lung Cancer awareness. My pal Lisa Moran is my inspiration…we’re walking together so if you can join us…DO IT!

And, I am hoping that my FINAL (yes, it’s all I can take) 3 weeks of Nutri-System will bring me to where I want to be in the weight area. Then I’ll go back to eating Real Food (no, I don’t consider Nutri-System real food. Limited scope for those of us who don’t eat meat. REALLY limited scope. Ugh.

I’m feeling a bit slimmer, but I also feel as if I’ve got a ways to go. When I see pictures of me from last year, I know I’m on the right track (hahaha…no pun intended but it’s a good one!) but I still have pictures from 2007 where I was a size 4. So…I have to reconcile the two. And, it’s very difficult. I’m not looking for pity, believe me I know there are many out there who have life much more difficult than I do and I appreciate that whole-heartedly. I am just sayin what’s on my mind with regards to my weight-gain-loss-gain-loss insanity. So…no pity here – I’m cool. I’m just hard on myself.

And I guess I’m not really 100% updating y’all on anything aside from my inability to use a scale properly and my ability to eat a whole pizza. More little known things about Mary. Do we all feel better now?

Hopefully in 3 weeks, I will have a better blog with more informative stuff. Or, maybe I’ll blog about all the wonderful things I’ll be making to keep my weight loss going post-Nutri-System. Maybe. We’ll see.

 

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Ten things you might not figger ’bout me…

image So, I’m writing this on my phone. Don’t expect it to be too fancy. I sometimes think that those of you who know might know this stuff, but you “new blog-friends” might not know. Here are a few little known Mary facts:

1. I like expensive blue jeans. Like…Lucky Brand and such. I don’t like to pay lots of money for them so I shop clearance at http://www.luckybrand.com.

2. If I could afford it, I would wear only Calvin Klein, DKNY, and Lucky Brand. I can’t afford that, even clearance.

3. I never wear makeup but when I do, I spend too much money on it. Again, I shop sales. Benefit and Bare Escentuals are current faves.

4. I am a night owl. No, really. I am. Much happier btwn the hours of 11 am and 2 am. Maybe 12 pm and 3 am. Hate me some 5 am. Unless I am still up after a long night…..

5. My first dog was a greyhound. I grew up around cats. Now I want dogs, horses, chickens, and a couple of goats. Little ones. Oh, and a donkey or mule.

6. My favorite rock star is my husband. He is the best musician I know.

7. I really love living in South Carolina. Ok, I live in NC right now but as soon as we can, we will move back over the state line.

8. I have four guitars. Two Ovations, an Ibanez electric, and a Yamaha 6 string.

9. I love my job.

10. As much as I love my job, I look forward to retiring some day and having a wacky farm with above mentioned animals. And a bunch of cast iron pans. And a kitchen with a gas stove. And a fire pit in the backyard.

Yup. That’s all.

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Hard time finding the words…

I know, I know. Me. Speechless. Well, yeah. It’s not really that I have no words, its that I can’t find the right words. For some peculiar reason…I have not been able to express myself properly where this topic is concerned.

On January 27, one of my longest-standing friends passed away. She was sick for quite a while, and being the hard-core, believing Christian that I am, I know she’s “in a better place” and “made whole” now. I get it.

Before I go on, maybe I should set some ground rules. Please. Don’t feel bad for me. I will find my words again some day…maybe on this topic. If you’re the praying type, say a prayer for her three kids and her wonderful husband. That will really make me happy.

See, I don’t really clearly recall a point in time when Lisa wasn’t my friend. She even corrected me about when we met because I was POSITIVE I had known her as long as I knew Jim (my husband). I really can’t even remember when she said we met because it wasn’t as important as how she has been a friend for over 35 years…and was a month YOUNGER than I. These things hit you hard as you pass the half-century mark.

So many people can recite chapter and verse about their growing up days, and all the different things they did…and yet, while I know that a great deal of memories from Kennedy Junior High and Peabody Veterans Memorial High are dotted with Lisa…and they are probably more than “dotted” (refer to title of this article…words are really failing me here)…I just kinda always considered her a friend. Like that assumed part of your life.

It kind of brings me comfort that no matter where in the world I was…whatever phase I was going through, she kept in contact. Sometimes it was just through Christmas Cards…and probably often just cards to my parents. However, I always knew where she was and God bless her, she always knew where I was. See, that’s the way it was with Lisa (you too, Kim…and of course Jim). Always knew where each other was.

Memories that really stand out to me of her are the ones like when she and her husband Jimi (also a friend of mine) met me downtown in Charleston one Sunday, I think. And we sat around at the Meeting Street Inn, I think. Talking…reminiscing…stuff that you do when you haven’t seen each other for years.

Then there was that first trip after Coop and I got married. We had two days to be “alone” and we started day one by meeting Jim and Lisa at a Pizzaria Uno in….like….Natick, MA for lunch. We talked, we laughed…and we swore we’d see each other the next year.

It seemed too far to go that next year. All the way down to Sandwich. And they couldn’t make our gathering up in Saugus. Now, looking back on it, geez…you don’t say NO to that kinda opportunity. I should have found a way.

Here’s the THANK GOD moment. Last summer, we gathered in Beverly (bless Sue & Laurie for hosting us). It was a long trip. She was very sick…much sicker than we knew at the time. But she made the time. They came to the gathering. It was more than just magical, it was wonderous to see her…and I should have spent more time talking to her. I should have spent ALL my time talking to her. I was so incredibly touched by her showing up. And sadly, that was all. The last time.

I know we can’t beat ourselves up over what we haven’t done…what we didn’t do…I have to say I probably am doing it anyway. And, my general oblivion…well, I never thought I wouldn’t see her again (this is real…it’s true)…I expected to see her this year when we make it up to Massachusetts.

Maybe these are all reasons why I am at a loss for words. And while you’re probably thinking…uh, 700 words isn’t a loss for words…it is. Nothing I’ve said has much quality. Nothing I’ve said sheds light on the type of person Lisa really was. Nothing I’ve said gives credit where credit is due. There is no substance…no fitting tribute. I truly wish I had the right things to say. I truly wish I could shine a light on the amazing soul you were. I truly wish that my words could touch the hearts of those who still grieve your loss and maybe just make the day a little brighter. It’s what you would be able to do. Your kindness, your gentleness, your amazing “stick-to-it-iveness”. You are, and always will be, my friend. You are, and always will be, my friend. I’m not sure you knew how important you were to me.

 

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