last weigh-in + fitness update

me -- the 2nd place winner
ten pounds in ten weeks ... that's what i lost! well, almost ten pounds; to be exact it was 9.8 pounds. i didn't win the fitness challenge, but i came in second place. i'm really pleased with what i've accomplished :: it's not just about the weight-loss, but more about the lifestyle overhaul, seeing the changes in my body, and feeling different about myself.

the whole process really has set the tone for long-term changes in how i eat and live. i'm stronger, my endurance is up (i can go up the sand dune more easily now), and i've even taken up jogging. yup -- jogging! if you've known me for awhile you know that i absolutely HATE moving faster than a slow stroll. but i ain't gonna lose any weight or fat going as slow as a turtle.

thanks to my work-out buddy, P, who made me jog short distances during our workout at the dune a few weeks back, i've begun my love/hate relationship with running. after i shed a few pounds and my legs got stronger i found that jogging wasn't as horrible as it used to be. don't get me wrong, i don't actually like to run, but i feel compelled to keep running. (a sidenote here :: i say "running" but i'm just jogging slowly at this point.) i'm really proud that i can now run a mile without stopping. (if you're a runner, don't scoff! even in my junior high school days -- when i was 35 pounds lighter and 20 years younger -- i couldn't run that far continuously.) my longest run has been 2.5 miles with some walking thrown in. my goal is to participate in a 5k sometime this year and i really think i can do it.

the fitness challenge may be over but the group is going to continue meeting weekly for weigh-ins and support. i'm going to attend, although i'm not sure about putting in another $20 to see who loses the most in another 10 weeks. it's not about the money for me, but about keeping up the motivation and healthy choices. it definitely helps me to know that i'm accountable and other people know about my progress (or lack thereof if i'm slacking).

hopefully, by the end of 2008 i will reach my target weight, finish a 5k, and look + feel amazing!

welcome M+E!

our friends S+M just welcomed two new daughters into their lives! we are so happy that twins M+E arrived safe and sound. and it looks like big sister L is pretty happy about their arrival too. congrats!


amazing watts towers

watts towers mosaic

as our last "activity" for spring break, the kids and i headed to watts towers. the towers are pretty amazing; but surprisingly, they weren't as tall and huge as i thought they would be. it's really all in the details.

there's more to it than just the towers. originally, simon rodia built his complex, which he called nuestro pueblo, adjacent to his home (that burnt down in 1955). what's left is an enclosed triangular area (essentially his backyard) with the towers and a gazebo inside. according to the tour guide, this enclosed triangular shape is based on a ship and the towers are the masts. there's even a "steering wheel" and a miniature ship (called the marco polo) inside.

another interesting fact :: rodia was a disenchanted roman catholic who started his own religion. many who study rodia now believe the gazebo is actually a chapel and the bird baths and fountains are baptismal pools. there are tons of crosses and hearts placed throughout the complex.

i recommend spending the $7 for the half-hour tour. the kids and i joined an elementary school group on their tour so it may be different than the adult tour. i'm definitely bringing rupert here (without maya) so we can really take in the amount of work that went into the building of the towers.

[here's a another write-up about the towers with pictures. you can see a few more of my pictures here.]


can't wait til june!

we're starting to save up for this.

a day in the life ... without rupert

santa barbara mosaic

sometimes i hate my husband. like when he leaves me with the kids and goes traipsing across the country for a few days. how dare he?!

actually, rupert went to a conference in nyc for a few days. originally, i was planning to join him so we could "get away" and i could see my best friend and hang out at all of my old haunts. unfortunately, my mother is out of town so there was nobody to dump leave the kids with. besides, ian has spring break this week so at least one of his parents should be around, right?

since rupert was off having a grand old time in the city, ian and i decided to go somewhere too. on monday we drove up to santa barbara for the day. our plan :: go to the mission, eat some mexican food recommended by his uncle, and go to the sea center on the wharf.

i think the kids had a good time; ian was a real trooper letting me deal with maya before seeing to his needs and wants. and it was definitely worth it when he said it was the best day so far this year. to be honest, though, throughout the day all i could think was, "how do single parents do it?!" i barely had a chance to enjoy anything; i was so pre-occupied with chasing maya around, making sure ian was getting attention, and driving us from point a to point b. i was physically and mentally exhausted by the time we drove up the driveway that night. at least when rupert's around the parent-to-child ratio is 1:1 and we seem to deal better. but when it's just me i get discombobulated and i can't think straight. so, i guess i actually need rupert around even though i complain about him all the time.


the la zoo was a zoo

la zoo mosaic

since both rupert and ian had the day off yesterday we headed to the la zoo. we knew it was going to be crowded when we saw the traffic sign on the 5 warning us "la zoo exit jammed." turns out the exit wasn't jammed but the parking lot was ... so was the line to buy tickets. it was the longest i've seen it. i guess everyone and their mother had the day off.

we chose to become members of the zoo (again) just to bypass the line. well worth the $75. as long as we go a couple of more times in the next year it'll pay for itself. i'm sure with the way maya was demanding "animals!" she and i will be back again soon.

now, there are some problems with the zoo on a hot, crowded day :: many of the animals are either hiding inside or are completely lethargic at the back of their enclosure; you are either getting run over by a stroller or are running someone else over with your stroller; you get sweaty but not as sweaty (and stinky) as some other people; your kids start to bug you; and it appears most other parents are completely annoyed with their children as well.

honestly, the only good thing about going to the zoo yesterday (besides the family time) was that i saw giovanni ribisi and jason lee at the new gorilla reserve (which was very nice, actually). it appears they coincidentally ran in to each other there. rupert, sadly, missed seeing them even though he was standing right next to them during their "hey, it's good to see you" conversation. i was really tempted to say something to jason lee since maya and i are big fans of buddy/syndrome (who he voices) from the incredibles but if you're an la-native you know not to bug stars while they're enjoying private time (especially when they're with their family). he looked pretty awesome with aviator glasses and his my name is earl mustache. giovanni, on the other hand, needed some reprimanding since he was smoking a cigarette before he was completely out of the zoo. for shame!

what i made for dinner :: salmon chowder

salmon chowder

i found this recipe in the bristol farms cooking magazine that was lying around my mom's house. the picture of the chowder looked appetizing and the ingredient list was short (a big plus in my book).

but, once again, i found the dish to be bland. rupert and i tried to figure out what went wrong. perhaps it was the substitutions i made (frozen salmon filets instead of fresh, olive oil for sauteeing instead of butter, half-and-half instead of heavy cream)?

it has potential; i could see it being good and creamy, but that requires the fat i omitted. big surprise, huh?

and, can i just tell you? freshly toasted sourdough bread is soooooo good after not having it for a looooooong time.


what i made for dinner :: orecchiette carbonara with leeks

carbonara with leeks
i love pasta carbonara but it's like cholesterol (not to mention, fat) on a plate. i eat it once in a blue moon; and i've never made it myself. however, i just could not resist the orecchiette carbonara with leeks recipe in the april 2008 issue of bon appetit. something about the picture appealed to me :: maybe it was the cute orecchiette pasta, the green of the leeks, the crisp of the bacon ... who knows?

but to make it "healthier" i made a couple of modifications, which must have been successful because everyone ate it, even ian (he's my barometer of how appealing my food is).
  • instead of the orrecchiette i used whole durum wheat chiocciole pasta for two reasons :: 1) i couldn't find the orrecchiette at tj's and what i did find at whole foods cost $6.99 for less than 9 ounces. someone please remind me to stop shopping at whole foods; 2) i'm trying to choose whole wheat over regular pasta.
  • i made more pasta (16 ounces) than the recipe calls for (10 ounces) but kept the amount of carbonara sauce the same. my thinking is that there's less sauce on each piece of pasta so you're not getting as much fat.

i'm sure the original version of the recipe is delightful. it's unfortunate i won't get to taste it! and even the modified version i only ate a cup of. sigh.

[edited 03.23.08 :: this does not reheat well. best to eat it all up the night you make it.]


the end of an era

last rie class mosaic

last tuesday was our last rie class. i am really bummed, and i think maya would be too if she understood that we aren't going anymore. we have been with the same group of kids for two years, in the same environment, with the same teacher.

this is my second round of rie classes (ian attended too) and i couldn't recommend it more. it's not a "traditional" kind of class with lots of music and "engaging" activities. it's about the kids figuring out things for themselves in a safe and nurturing environment. the parents learn and share rie parenting techniques and sit back to observe the children.

there used to be a rie-based infant center (daycare) in redondo beach but, unfortunately, it's no longer in business. i wish there were more rie classes/schools for older kids. i would love to keep learning about rie and how to apply the philosophy as the kids get older. (it's my understanding that some rie parents move on to the waldorf school when their kids get older.)

i'm also disappointed that class has ended because i've grown really fond of the other parents. i hope we stay in touch and get together often.

now i've gotta find something else for maya to do on tuesday mornings ...


what i made for dinner :: soba with marinated beef and tomatoes

soba with marinated beef + tomatoes
another cooking light recipe (from november 1999) :: soba with marinated beef and tomatoes. this could potentially be a decent dinner (although ian didn't like it ... surprise, surprise!). a huge plus is that it's pretty quick to make; i marinated the beef and portobellos before leaving for ian's french class and whipped up the sauce and boiled the noodles in about 20 minutes after getting home.

some changes/recommendations ::
  • turns out flank steak is expensive. instead of a full pound of meat, i used half a pound and substituted sliced portobello mushroom (one medium-sized cap, around a quarter of a pound) for the rest. more veggies are a good thing, right? cheaper meal is a good thing, right?
  • i made too much soba and it was too mushy. i recommend making two bunches of soba (which i think is around 7 oz uncooked) and preparing it so it finishes cooking after the sauce is done (or is nearing completion). i made three bunches of soba and it sat for a few minutes until the sauce finished cooking, at which point the noodles got much too soft.
  • the sauce was on the bland side (maybe because i made too much soba?) so i would try to liven the flavor up with either some ginger, sesame oil (instead of the vegetable oil), chile, and/or more garlic.
  • i didn't have any oyster sauce so i used japanese tonkatsu sauce instead (and omitted the sugar since tonkatsu sauce is sweet).


new "feature" on the ol' blog :: what i made for dinner

as part of my fitness challenge i've been trying very hard to eat healthier meals. which means i've been trying to make more food at home from scratch. it's been fun poring over old issues of food + wine, gourmet, and bon appetit to expand my culinary repertoire. but my new favorite is cooking light. not because they have fancy recipes that look way too de-lish, but because they actually list nutritional information on their relatively easy (and quick) to make dishes. luckily, the library has a subscription so i check out a couple of issues once a week, find what i want to try, and then get the recipes online.

moroccan chicken thighs

here's the recipe i tried out today :: moroccan chicken thighs. as an accompaniment i made a simple israeli couscous (also my first time) with shallots and parsley. i rather enjoyed it, although now i think i might have a bit of heartburn (which is extremely rare for me).

i had a feeling the kids wouldn't like the sweetness of the apricots with the savory sauce so i halved the amount of dried apricots and chopped them on the small side. (i used the turkish kind and they were indeed a bit on the sweet side; if you can find them, use the california dried apricots like the recipe recommends.)

the coriander got omitted only because i didn't have any on hand. possibly because of that the dish didn't have a strong "ethnic"-y flavor, which was probably fine for the kids. i now have a jar of ground coriander so i'm looking forward to trying it with this added dimension. i also found that the cinammon flavor was stronger than i would've liked, and i wonder if the coriander would balance the flavors out.


28 months.


maya @ 28 months :: march 4, 2008
  • bugs really, totally freak her out ... especially if they find their way inside the house. sometimes she'll find an ant in her room and she will burst in wails and tears until i get rid of it.
  • now watches "nemo [lilo] and stitch" -- no matter how many times we say, "li-lo" she keeps saying "nemo."
  • calls her grandma (rupert's mom) by her first name.
  • it's been a rough month of whining and defiance; rupert and i are nearing our wit's end. it's been a totally different parenting experience with maya compared to ian's toddler years.
  • good reminder not to leave crayons within reach of her crib :: she drew purple swirls on her wall one day while i thought she was taking a nap.
  • she's definitely stringing together more words into sentences and questions.
  • likes to sit in the basket of the stroller. people look at me strangely because they think i'm pushing an empty stroller. as i pass them maya peeks her head out and i hear giggles from the passerby.
  • doesn't care to remember her ABCs but remembers after one visit that marukai is where we get strawberry pocky.
  • working our way to higher numbers :: counting to 3.
  • she has been daddy's little girl this month and insists on "daddy do it" if he's around.
  • loves her cereal; she's into tj's honey nut Os right now (we can dupe her with regular multigrain cheerios if we're out of the good stuff).
  • she's extremely particular about what piece of food she eats from a specific place on the plate. it's annoying when she wants a particular honey nut O with milk from one part of the bowl. it's no use trying to tell her that the milk moves around in the bowl and it's all the same!
  • she plays with the little girls at ian's school during drop-off in the morning. but she calls them all by the same name, "maggie" (one of the girls she plays with everyday).


playing catch-up ... again

i've been meaning to blog for awhile now and just haven't had the chance to sit down and compose something. in the meantime i forgot everything i wanted to write. ugh. old age is slowing me down!

our new mantra
rupert "celebrated" his 32nd birthday last monday (he's not particularly thrilled to be well into his 30s). my gift to him was this poster i've been eyeing for awhile (it's made its rounds on the crafty blogosphere). with the added stress of school and work -- and dealing with a crazy maya -- i thought this would be a great mantra for him (and me) to follow. it's an old british world war II propaganda slogan. you can buy it online through u.s. distributors but i got it from england (barter books) for much cheaper. once it's nicely framed we'll put it up in our living room in place of the art canvas i got for our dating anniversary last year.

let's see ... my fitness challenge is going well. i think i left off with the week 4 weigh-in and since then i've continued to lose weight each week (except for this past week when my weight didn't change). in total i think i'm down about 6 or 7 pounds, which is more than i hoped for. i know i keep saying this, but i'm not too concerned with the number on the scale. i'm concentrating on incorporating and sustaining healthy habits that will stick with me for the rest of my life. and i'm well on my way :: i work out for at least half an hour six days a week and i eat smaller portions of healthier foods. just another month left of the fitness challenge but i know i will be sticking to my exercise and eating routine.

they both need a haircut
the camera finally came back ... fixed! we missed it so. we were reveling in the glory of not having anything broken in our house when -- you guessed it -- something else broke. our beloved television wouldn't turn on (it's only two years old!). this is a big deal because we are a huge tv-watching family. at the very least, we need (yes, need) the tv to play the wii and ps2, and maya cannot go a day without watching a movie. the repairman came yesterday and quoted us $800 without even opening the back of the tv! rupert and i think it's the fan (it's been whirring like crazy lately) so rupert cleaned it and it's working ... for now. we're keeping our fingers crossed.

then, a city inspector came by yesterday and cited us for not having mowed our lawn. sure it's overgrown and yellow with dandelion flowers, but we were just enjoying the greenery the recent rains brought us. ;) we suspect one of our elderly neighbors, who always complained to rupert about the state of our yard, "reported" us to the city. so much for the "city of good neighbors" (our city motto).

to top it all off, rupert and i are fighting off colds. what a week!