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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

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I spend most of my commute to and from work oogling at the colors on the trees. There are a couple of sassafrass trees near the office that are a glorious apple red tempting me to soak in them, if one could soak in trees. Peak fall color is here now and quickly passing. I don’t get to wander around my yard much these days but I stole 10 minutes the other day and wandered around to see what I was missing. With what seems to be an early freeze this year (first one last night—but not a killing freeze at least) winter may be rolling in sooner than I wanted…not that I’ve been able to savor it as much this year.

Alas, the color is pretty spectacular even if it is on the subtle side.

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Getting back into shape postpartum has been eye opening. The last time I did any hard workouts was last December before I knew I was pregnant. Since all the months prior hadn’t resulted in a positive pregnancy test I had decided to bust my butt and start working out hardcore with some YouTube videos to try to lose about 10 lbs. I was feeling it, doing good and enjoying it. And then I got pregnant. Out went the hard workouts and in came the walking and general hiking. I missed rollerblading and even the 1-2 mile jogs I would take. I didn’t lift weights much and after a certain point I stopped doing core exercises. Bending down and touching my toes without needing to bend my knees to do so became my only measuring point of fitness towards the end. I took pride in the fact that I was 40 weeks pregnant and could still touch my toes—nevermind the fact I’d gained 50 lbs and was huge.

So, here I am 10 weeks postpartum and nearing 40 lbs lost of that 50 lbs. I’ve been close to this current weight twice in my life, the highest weight point for me prior to being pregnant: senior year of college and just before hiking the AT. Both times, however, I was still able to maintain muscle mass, and even though I was fluffy I was still in single digit clothing sizes. The muscle mass kept things a little tighter even though I was overweight.

Now, I know we’re not supposed to get all wrapped up in the number on the jeans because they always vary from designer to designer, but who am I kidding? I think just about every woman does at some point in their life. A few weeks ago we had a women’s team-building lunch at work and before I headed home I stopped by Target for some baby-free shopping. I was still wearing maternity jeans and didn’t have much in the way of winter wear for my post baby body. I’m a simple clothing girl, I like jeans and t-shirts, maybe a button down or two during the winter. I thought I’d stop in and get a few pieces of clothing to tide me over until I could get into my actual winter wardrobe later in the season. I was also optimistic, grabbing only a size up from what I was pre-pregnancy. I did this because only a few weeks ago I’d managed to get on my pre-pregnancy jeans and button them with a massive muffin top, leading me to think that I only had about 10 lbs to go before I could get in them, leading me further to think that I was thinner than I was.

When I got into the dressing room I was in for a rude awakening. That size jeans didn’t fit. Defeated I went back out and pulled off the shelf the next two sizes. Normally I wouldn’t have even attempted to go bigger, going bigger meant bad, bad things. But, my maternity jeans were getting loose and frankly I was just tired of wearing them. In the end the size two sizes bigger than the original pair I tried on ended up being what I chose. I was pissed off but at least comfortable and happy to be wearing jeans that zipped for once in many months.

What I was left with was knowing I had a lot further to go to getting back in shape. I’d lost a lot of muscle mass and my abdominal wall was still wrecked. I realized this over the weekend when I went for a jog. Not only was I just jiggly from fat but I could feel my muscles loose and hurting. I didn’t straight jog that mile—I delusionally thought I could do it before I left…I think my lung capacity was up for it—but my abs told me otherwise. So, I chose to run to *that* mailbox, walk to *that* crack in the road, etcetera, etcetera on down the road.

It felt good. My thighs were tight and cramping when I finished. I remembered that I could rollerblade now, one of my favorite cardio activities aside from hiking. I’ll have to dig those out soon.

For the last several weeks I’ve been doing the PiYo workouts and I can definitely tell they are helping me strength and stretching wise, but it is nice on the running just to get some straight out cardio every now and then. The DVDs are great for the evenings and one of my priorities right now is that 30 minutes at least three or four evenings a week in which I can work out. When Forest goes to daycare in December I will eventually use my lunch break for some workouts during the week which will free up some evenings for me to spend time with Forest and to work on other creative things.

Over the weekend I sorted through maternity clothes that were out of season and put them away. I also went through all of my pants and winter clothes and folded them, putting them on the top shelves in my closet, making room for my ‘big’ clothes. My sister-in-law, Stephanie, has undergone a transformation over the last two years. She’s taken charge of her health and dropped considerable weight but also improving her health at the same time. I thought of her as I left Target, not wanting to buy more than one pair of pants in that size. I wondered if she had any of her ‘big’ clothes left over and gave her a call. I was in luck, she still had them and sent them down with my mom when my mom came to watch Forest last week. I went through the the bags she sent, keeping the sizes I could wear now and those I would be slimming down into over the coming months. Now these are in my closet instead of my regular wardrobe. Yes, the sizes bother me but having clothes that fit me and make me feel good is also important.

Hopefully I can continue to make progress and get back into good cardio and strength fitness once again. I’m ready for some long hikes come spring and I need to get as strong as I can so I can carry the little dude (who is getting huge by the day!) on the trails.

Back in December my cousin Elizabeth received a VoxBox from Influenster. I’d never heard of it before but after seeing her video posted I was defintiely curious. She sent me an invitation to sign up and join, which I did. Basically Influenster is a product review service and if you are selected to receive one of their boxes, you review what you receive and keep the goodies for free. The idea is to share it on some form or multiple forms of social media as well. I was a little bit iffy on doing it at first, for one because I’m not really into doing product reviews on my blog and turning this place into some giant ad space. I write what I want to write when I want to write it.

Anyway, I signed up, did some of the basic survey stuff on there with some input on products that I’d used before and kind of ignored my account. I figured there was no way I would ever be selected for a box because I did so little with the site and my blog is not a product placement type blog. Well, back in February I got an email saying I was up for the J’adore VoxBox and so when I received it I kind of kept it on the back burner because it was a mix of frou-frou items that I’m not really into. Like false eyelashes. So, just to participate I did a quick video for YouTube and linked it to my Influenster account and did all of the proper final surveys for receiving the box and again ignored my Influenster account. You can see my review video here. Lots of rambling and heavy breathing, still in the first trimester there.

I figured there was no way I would ever get another box, let alone one so quickly, when I received an email two weeks ago asking for me to fill out a short survey to see if I fit into their cohort for getting another box. Then I got an email to say I would be receiving the Go VoxBox, which sounded definitely a bit more up my alley. It arrived over the weekend after I’d forgotten that it was supposed to come.

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Chris opened it up for me since I was busy doing something else and when I went to see what all was in there I was definitely surprised at how much of the products were more in line with items I might actually use.

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Chris takes a lot of baths so the lavender bath soak he was definitely all for. I’m not nearly as much of a bath person, but I would definitely use the bath salts if I decided to opt for a bath. The blueberry almonds sounded intriguing and I meant to take them to work yesterday but forgot. I did try the chocolate protein drink using the cup that was provided and was not grossed out, in fact it was actually pretty tasty. I really like the to-go shake cup as well. Would I actually buy one? Probably not, but since I have this one I’ll probably use it on occassion, if not just to put in a smoothie that I made in the blender versus one from a packet. The tampons, yes I’ll use eventually after Teddy arrives. I think I’m going to hold onto the orthotics for when I buy some new running shoes after Teddy is born. The only time I really use orthotics has been in my hiking boots, but I’m hesitant to try a new orthotic than what I am used to in my hiking boots. I’m willing to try these out in another manner that doesn’t usually result in my getting blisters, like in hiking boots! The pedirock is intriguing. I typically like my callouses and I might have been a bit regretful after the first pedicure post AT thru-hike…I think the woman who did my pedicure wondered how on earth I had such thick callouses, but callouses mean less blisters. Hopefully the pedirock isn’t too difficult to use like some pumice stones can be.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this with y’all especially since it was definitely geared more towards my lifestyle. I don’t know if I’ll blog about future boxes if I get others, but this one sounded relevant enough to the blog for me to write about it. I just checked my Influenster and I can invite 20 people so if you are interested leave a comment and I’ll send you an invite via email.

Now, Influenster, how about a gardening one? Some seeds, gardening gloves, a shovel? Maybe some gardener’s lotion or soap? I’ll totally review that one!

Our tent @ Ash Gap on Mt. Roan

+It never fails that this time of year I get wistful for the Appalachian Trail. I didn’t really follow any hikes last year, but I’ve got a couple I’m keeping an eye on this year.
+Renee Tougas and her family of five just recently started the trail. I’m particularly interested in seeing how their hike goes as a family. It also looks like they may have started just late enough to not deal with a lot of snow.
+Then there’s Wired who is working on finishing the Triple Crown by September by hiking the AT.
+Chris’ mom has an aquaintance hiking the trail as well. I’m a little concerned about them as they seem to be going very slow. There’s no problem with going slow at first as long as the miles are upped eventually. Sometimes slow mileage can be a mental barrier too, especially when everyone starts passing you and then you get caught in the ‘Am I going to make it to Katahdin by October?’ problem.

+On the PCT side of things I know of two couples we hiked with/around on the AT who are heading out and then another blogger I’ve never met but have been following her hiking adventures in Georgia for awhile now. Oh, and wait, one more, a girl I followed as she hiked the FT this winter. Lots of PCT hikers, then!
+Acorn is hitting up the PCT after she hiked the AT last year and the FT this winter.
+Sideways D and Moonshine are one of the two couples we know from the AT.
+Dormouse and Dirt Stew are the other couple we know from the AT.
+Joan/Rambling Hemlock who I’ve mentioned before, is hiking with her friend.

+Lots of hikers…I’m doing good if I can walk a mile without having to pee these days. Thanks baby Teddy for that!

+Chris and I ventured to Angelina National Forest yesterday for a short walk. I wouldn’t call it a hike, it was more a leisurely stroll through the woods on the Sawmill Trail along Boykin Creek. The dogwoods were in full bloom and most of the azaleas (R. canescens) were blooming like crazy. Chris took his camera and got a lot of wonderful shots along the stream. I left my camera at home so that I could just enjoy being outside. Of course I kind of wished I had even a point and shoot after seeing everything in bloom. I also got to see many American fringe trees in bloom, something I haven’t actually seen before. They are really pretty and I wish we had more room for trees around here now.

+While Chris took pictures I spread out on the ground to relax and rest. I love laying right down on the forest floor and looking up at the canopy. At one point I was under a brilliantly green beech tree. I wish people wouldn’t carve into beech trees, most of the ones along the path had names etched into them.

+Our purpose for heading to east Texas was to attend the Mast Arboretum plant sale. A year ago Chris and I attended the Urban Harvest fruit tree sale in Houston. This plant sale was not nearly as crazy as that plant sale, but prior to the 9am opening everyone can wander around the alphabetically organized plants to scope out where everything is. Then everyone lines up with their wagons along the driveway into the property and waits for the countdown. It was pretty much mayhem! One lady tried to cut across my arm that was attached to my wagon which caused my wagon to tip over and me to frustratingly have to waste 5 precious seconds for me to get to an uncommon Crataegus species we wanted. We were kind of surprised at which plants went really fast and which ones didn’t—And then everyone grabbing all of these common plants you can get at a big box store or even a local nursery. Ooh, here’s the video I think Chris was telling me about…the video doesn’t take place where the sale this year took place, but you can see the starting line type rush: SFA plant sale

+Today we’re just waiting on all of this rain that’s supposed to arrive. I’m going to bake, catch up on writing some blogs, and then work on editing my book quite a bit this afternoon.

Oh, our weather people down here. I really don’t know what they are thinking. Last Friday it was going to be Snow! Ice! Craziness!!! And then what did it do? Not a whole heck of a lot. It did rain and some bridges might have had some ice, but for the most part it was giant over reaction.

And then today? It was supposed to sleet over night and snow today. Snow! Ice! More Craziness! Schools and businesses were closed once again. Chris and I got up this morning to well, not much. It had rained, but there wasn’t even really any ice. The radar suggested ice in our location but there was nothing. Finally at around 9:30 this morning the sleet fell hard followed by snow flurries. I think the whole episode lasted 45 minutes or an hour. It was cool while it lasted, but now we’re already in the melting phase of Houston’s Giant Winter Freak Out.

While it has been a colder than average year for us, with longer periods of cold weather and deeper freezes, this snow and ice thing is new. All you northern folks can laugh at my videos, I give you permission. This stuff doesn’t happen often here, though.

By the way, it was in the 70s on Sunday and will return to the 70s by the weekend. No one knows what to do…wear flip flops and shorts or sand the roads.

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For months and months we had a single bat holed up in one of our bat boxes. Then sometime in December a few friends joined in. Chris noted at one point that there may have been seven or so in there at one point. The numbers are fluctuating at the moment, down to a couple, up a few. I guess the bats are coming in when they migrate through.

This makes us hopeful for a good population of bats using the house this summer. Just the other day a juvenile woodpecker—we weren’t able to identify it yet—attempted to make the bat house its home too. Or maybe the wood looked inviting for a snack?

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Today Chris had me come into his man-cave, currently the home of our seed starting set up, to check out a praying mantis that had made it inside.

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I told Chris he should set it free but apparently the mantis was feasting on the fruit fries that were hatching from the moist soil. Sounds like a good set up for now!

There’s not a whole lot going on here at the moment. We basically finished renovating the laundry room last weekend and if all goes well this weekend weather-wise, we’ll put a big dent on finishing up the penny porch.

More soon, folks. In the meantime I wrote on Sprout Dispatch on Monday and you can check that post out.

fog

It’s been a drizzly and rainy day here today. Grey, cloudy, dreary. At least the temperature was respectable, in the 60s. This after two nights of deep freezes, something we’re not used to getting often.

The rain is appreciated. It was nearing an inch at lunch and nearing two this evening when we got home. The depression in the front yard had ponded and the creeks we cross were swollen with muddy waters. ‘Our’ pond was rushing over the spillway and had inched up along the perimeter in some areas, though hadn’t come up much in our yard at all. It is within an inch or two of the new dock, which is nice to see so we can compare it for the future.

I walked out on our balcony, taking a break from hanging laundry up, and saw lots of debris moving downstream rapidly. From my vantage point it appeared to be a fishes, as you’d see salmon or trout bucking the current in a stream. Only it wasn’t fish, just dark, shadowy debris.

It’s a night for being cozy.

I debated if I was going to do a review of the year or not like I see other bloggers doing, but then I went back through my archives from January of last year and though ‘Awww, I remember that!’ and decided I was going to give a whirl. First, a short run-down of my ‘word’ from last year and then a post or three from each month that I enjoyed while reviewing my archives.

Action was my word for 2013 and beyond March I think I dropped it. In fact, I was thinking my word was prolific but apparently that was my word for 2012. Sooo…I think I’m going to take 2014 off with chosing a word. Out of all the items on my list for Action the first one had the most work. I’m guessing I’m 10-15K words away from the end of my Florida Trail book. When I last left off writing a week ago, we’d just arrived at the motel in Blountstown having just crossed the Apalachicola River and the eastern/central time zone, gaining an extra hour in the day. I think that was about a week and a half out from the end of the trail. Maybe less.

No words came up for this year, so I’m just focusing with finishing the bleeping book and peddling it to publishers.

Now, for a recap of the year:

January
We finished the compost bin!

February
I finished the Icelandic turtleneck, which I still have not worn because of the flabby belly I have. If I’d followed up with the last Action item in my list I might have felt comfortable wearing it this year.
There was a lot of backyard nature going on.

March
We walked along the beach in Galveston and did a little front seat birding too.

April
We got bees!, enjoyed summer tanagers in the yard, had a mini-flood and a pine tree problem, and I did a little exploration in Lufkin.

May
Watched bats at Old Tunnel State Park, and explored the Upland Island Wilderness of Angelina National Forest.

June
There was a beaver in our backyard!

July
The garden was in a bloom frenzy and we took a trip to Arkansas with family.

August
There was a lot of backyard birding and my grandmother passed away.

September
Hiked Dinosaur Valley State Park with Patrice, Justin, and my dad, the hummingbirds came through, and I did a bit of exploring at a local state forest.

October
We finished the flower garden! Our biggest project of the year.

November
I went for an adventure at a local park, dug sweet potatoes and put the onions in, and had a massive thru-hike fail.

December
We put a For Rent sign up for owls in the neighborhood, and of course there were projects and more projects.

It wasn’t nearly the most adventurous year, but we did accomplish a lot around the house, things I didn’t blog about.

Here’s to an awesome 2014, y’all!

A house….is full of projects. I mean, they are good projects and I love my house, but sometimes it seems never ending. The lists had been compiling in my head for long enough that today I sat down and wrote out everything we still needed to finish, such as the laundry room which is 90% completed.

I wrote the other day about Chris’ dock building adventure and he got a lot more accomplished today.

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Now we can walk out over the pond!!

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Looking north into the pond, towards the creek.

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And south towards the dam and the entrance to our neighborhood.

It’s so cool! I went out and I told Chris I could envision a lot of napping going on out there. We wondered how long it would be before the ferals figured out they could walk out there and sun themselves. I’m guessing it won’t be too long!

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Here was a small project Chris finished in November. I’d been wanting a picnic table to eat and sit at, and it was placed under the mulberry tree. The table is reminiscent of tables we saw on the AT and FT, hence the carvings.

painting

Yes, I am still working on that corner cabinet. It took for-ev-er but I’m finally painting it. What you see pink is going to be pink and the rest will be white. I’m ready for it to be done and in my studio as I have items lingering around the room that need to be stored on it. Plus, Chris is tired of it being on our porch!

The bags of leaves came from my parents, Chris’ mom, and someone in her neighborhood. We drove home from DFW with about 15 bags of leaves in the back of Chris’ truck, all destinated for the compost bin. I spied another four or five bags in our neighborhood, something of a rarity because folks don’t really bag their leaves on large lots here, but we’ll probably scout out other neighborhoods towards ‘town’ to stock up for spring. We’ll be emptying one side of the bin in March and will need to replenish it with leaves for fall.

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One of the smaller projects on hand was hanging a chandelier from a tree down by the dock. Old, rustic chandeliers are shabby-chic and we have a plant nursery we like to go with several hanging from her trees on the property. Chris expressed interest in getting one and so we’ve been looking out at antique stores. The only problem is those all seem to be quite overpriced and/or not the style we needed. Cue, Ebay. This one was slightly damaged (bent) but otherwise perfect for our needs and Chris got it for really cheap. Now, it’s hanging by the dock!

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We will be able to pull it down to put actual candles on it when we want some ambience down by the dock this summer.

Lots of projects around here, but they are just making the place even more cozy!

Oh yeah…Sprout Dispatch is emerging from hibernation tomorrow! Come and see what we’ve been up to!

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+I pulled out the first daikon radish yesterday. When we planted the seeds Chris kept calling them Diagon radishes, a nod to Harry Potter. And thus, forevermore they will be Diagon radishes whenever we plant them. It was milder than a typical radish, we’ll have to cook it up in a stir-fry this week.

Bookmarked lately…
+What Makes a Champion Tree
+Eternal Flame Falls
+100 Years Since the Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon
+Cauliflower Mac and Cheese…looks yummy!
+AT: Bulls Bridge to 10 Mile Hill
+Foothills Trail: Around Whitewater Falls
+Life In the Slow Lane: Profile of a Gopher Tortoise
+Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Concentrate
+Invasive vs. Aggressive: They are not the same
+Morality and Ecosystems
+Worn Wear: The Stories We Wear
+Ben Benvie’s slideshow of the Wonderland Trail
+What Would Walter White Do?
+Almost Raw, Gluten Free, Vegan Pumpkin Pie…gonna try this one soon.

And lastly two more items: I finished all of Breaking Bad last week…holy cow.

Catching Fire was absolutely awesome!

Any interesting things for you to share?

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