The Party Is Finally Over + Week 3 Progress Of My 12 Week Challenge

Am not quite sure when my friends and I started commemorating our birthdays over an extended period of time versus just “on the day,” but it sure is fun to exult in multiple observances via lunches, dinners, and the convivial gaiety which ensues at whatever activity we engage.  This year was particularly enjoyable due to the thoughtfulness of those I love who planned relaxing, delightful, and truly special gatherings.  What matters to me is sharing time with those I care about in environments that are conducive for great conversation.  I’d say, “mission accomplished” this year and “thank you”  to all who participated.

While lovely gifts are often bestowed upon me, this year I was moved by the variety.  I received some beautiful garments, as well as, special items which showed a lot of thought about what I love and care about from traditional to technical tools.

First, I was stunned to receive this photo from my sister-in-law, who matted and framed it herself.  The photo is of a teapot my mother gave to her years ago, the cup and saucer were her grandmother’s, the book is a Jane Austen novel (one of my favorites), and Italian biscotti (a perfect tea cookie).  The quote fits me to a T. too. “You can never get a tea cup large enough, or book long enough to suit me.”   C.S. Lewis.

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12 week challenge

A few of my thoughtful birthday gifts....

A few of my thoughtful birthday gifts….

update…you’d think with all this celebrating, I’d be off track, but thanks to good planning, I still lost a pound (yay yay yay).

Week 3 – The key to my success this week was organization and advanced planning.  I enjoyed a little bit of something special at every meal.  Consuming small portions and lots of veggies helped me lose that additional pound.  And more than that, I feel great, no more afternoon energy drains from eating foods that spike my blood sugar.  The restaurants I went to this week offered perfectly good choices — they included Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach (Saturday’s special is my favorite chicken thighs with spicy peppers), Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern inside The St. Regis Hotel, Dana Point, and Cafe Mimosa in San Clemente.  All wonderful restaurants.

Meeting Ina Garten + Week 2 Progress Of My 12 Week Challenge

This is my birthday week, so I decided to indulge in a few things that are a bit frivolous and fun.  Yesterday, my sister and I got up early, headed to the William Sonoma Gourmet Cuisine Store in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, Ca, and waited in line for over four hours to have celebrity cookbook author and Food Network Star, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), sign her new cookbook for us.

My best friends and cousin were meeting us for my birthday lunch after the signing.  We had done something like this a couple years ago when another cookbook author and Food Network celebrity, Giada DiLaurentis, was signing books at the same William Sonoma Store.  It is just silly fun to be sitting on the marble floors, reading, drinking tea (which I brought from home),  and making new friends with others participating in this vigil…most of us laughing at the ridiculousness of spending so much time on this, while thoroughly enjoying the ambiance, lightness in the air, laughter, and a few little tidbits the William Sonoma staff tray passed to us of a crumble baked from Ina’s book.  My sister said it was really good, (I was a good girl and didn’t partake of the pastry–challenge in tact 🙂 )

While I anticipated a decent turnout for this book signing, I was stunned at just how many people ended up in line…over 1,000 to be sure.  Below photos depict just a small portion of the lines (as they had them streaming in multiple directions as not to block other retailer doors.)

Ina Garten book signing at William Sonoma, South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa California ... lines and lines and more lines...she was so gracious and her team quite helpful and skilled

Ina Garten book signing at William Sonoma, South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa California … lines and lines and more lines…she was so gracious and her team quite helpful and skilled

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Week Two Challenge Update:

So, that was Thursday…today is Sunday…the family is coming over soon to celebrate four November birthdays…my two brothers, nephew, and mine.  I didn’t have to do any cooking.  Just set the tables. We will serve buffet style.

It’s been a challenging week to be on a fitness and weight management challenge….sooo many lunches and dinners out celebrating, but I am happy to say that I have maintained…no gain in weight and I’ve eaten within my allowed ranges at nearly all meals.  The only thing I’ve gone a bit over on is wine consumption, as I don’t usually have wine more than once a week…this week I’m on my fourth day in a row of celebrating with a glass or two…but that’s o.k., it’s my birthday week.

My favorite thing to do is having the family over.  What fun.  I am already thinking of how to portion out the great food that is coming in a couple hours from my brother’s and sister, nieces and daughter…I plan to consume just a little bit of everything and I should get through unscathed 🙂 Challenge goals in tact.

How To Peel A Hard-Boiled Egg + Progress On My 12 Week Challenge

One week down, 11 to go on my 12 week challenge to get my blood sugar under control.  It was a good week.  My goal is to feel good, be healthy, and lose a few pounds while still eating incredibly good and interesting foods. There are a few foods that save me from overeating.  The egg is one of them.  I just love eggs.  It might just be my favorite, single, satisfying ingredient.  Five days a week, egg whites, scrambled or as an omelet, are my “go to” breakfast.  Egg salad is a favorite filling of mine for a tea time finger food, and, if for some strange reason, I’ve missed a dinner time meal, scrambled eggs are a fulfilling meal for me.  The use of eggs fits well into a balanced diet.

Eggs are good for you.  According to various studies, eggs help your eyes due to their cartenoid content (lutein), they also can lower the incidence of cataracts, breast cancer,  and stroke.  They contain lots of protein, naturally occurring Vitamin D, nine essential Amino Acids, mostly “good fat”, and promote hair and nail health due to their high sulphur content.  Wow, after reading this, I might eat more eggs.

Peeling hard-boiled eggs sometimes drives me crazy.  I am not the most patient person in the world, so, when I am doing a big batch for some event, and can’t  whip through peeling due to tearing the whites, it frustrates me.  I have read many tips on how to peel hard-boiled eggs, of which I have tried several.  Most show good promise, then fail to fulfill on that promise.  In clearing out old food magazines, I came across this tip in the March 2008 Bon Appetit Magazine.   I’ve tried it twice and it really worked well.

How to peel a hard boiled egg

How to peel a hard boiled egg

“After draining hard-boiled eggs, return them to the saucepan, put the lid on, and shake the pan to crack the shells gently.  Dunk the eggs in ice water for two minutes so they shrink away from the shell.  Then peel away.”

It doesn’t take much to make me happy…learning how to make peeling one of my favorite foods more easily did just that for me this week, made me smile.  Oh, and I lost one pound this week.  It’s a slooow process but it’s progress.  Got my portions under better control this week and still had awesome foods.

Stayed within my “balanced diet boundaries” and still had creative, tasty foods.  For me,  choosing whole, seasonally fresh foods and not eating too much of the more caloric items usually works.  Depriving myself completely doesn’t work.

I can actually feel a difference in my energy level this week.  Plan to add one more exercise routine going forward.  Will keep you posted.  Am off to make a cup of organic jasmine tea to go with my egg salad, with veggies  for lunch.

See you next week.

Adapt or Else…My 12 Week Challenge

One day, someone may inform you that you need to change how you eat or your health will deteriorate.  It’s happened to me.  Over the last five years I have battled being borderline diabetic, had episodes where I am diabetic,  then got it under control so I’m not diabetic anymore, to getting told this week that I am diabetic again.  Bummer 🙁

At first I reel with the news and, pretty much, think the joys of eating as I know it have just ended.  I go through the woe is me phase and whine about how healthy of an eater I am, so, “why is this happening to me?”  I eat tons of vegetables and exercise regularly.  I take the stairs and park my car further than necessary in parking lots so I can walk more, I garden weekly;  yet, I continue to struggle with high blood sugar.  I don’t want to go on medicines, as, for me,  it has been absolutely possible to control these episodes through diet.  Losing a few pounds seems to fix my problem, but I never go quite far enough…I lose five pounds, get my numbers looking pretty good, then go on vacation, put the five pounds back on and…oops, back to the danger range with my insulin resistance.

So…this is it, no more messing around, I need to lose 10 pounds in 12 weeks (before my next doctor’s visit).  Am thinking that, maybe, if I share this goal with you readers, I’ll be more apt to keep on track…so here goes.  I am taking you on  my 12 week challenge to lose 10 pounds while still enjoying exciting, interesting, flavorful, creative, and scrumptious food every single day at every single meal.  

A few years ago, I went through hours of classes about how to create a diet that works at keeping me healthy.   I am armed with the necessary tools to accomplish my goal.  It’s about balance…having proteins, fats, & carbs in every bite keeps me on a level plain with my blood sugars.  Months of not paying attention to my portion sizes is where I get off track and stray into the danger zone.  So this week, I am all about focusing on portion size, while keeping satisfied.

I love, love, love food, so will work to find the best bites for me.  I will not give up on flavor or interesting foods.  Today, this should be easier than ever to manage as the small plate, small bite movement using whole foods that are packed and punched with flavor exists all around me.  I really couldn’t be eating at a better time in history having to manage this issue.  I will share my finds and results with you over the next few months and hope you enjoy taking this journey with me.

Today we splurged on seafood.  Truly quality, fresh products from our favorite fish market, Santa Monica Seafood in Costa Mesa.  We enjoyed smoked salmon and crab salads for lunch. Then purchased gorgeous fresh diver scallops, Mexican white shrimp (not farmed), and fish ceviche to make dinner for the family (it was on Halloween night.)  The scallops and shrimps were seared and cooked to perfection by my husband and served over a nice angel hair pasta (I found my one cup cooked portion size of pasta fully satisfying with this dish).   This along with a little gem lettuce, Point Reyes bleu cheese, crispy bacon and sweet cherry tomato salad made for the perfect dinner to go with a 2005 Fogdog Pinot Noir (one glass for me was plenty)…then off to trick or treating with the kids…day one of my challenge went great.

I can’t resist sharing the things I did NOT eat one crumb of today that were in front of my face…everyone else enjoyed them immensely…and I am o.k. with that as sweets aren’t my thing anyway.  I opted for wine instead of cookies, it’s all about choice 🙂

Skeleton cookies...made by a jazzercise classmate who decorates the most beautiful, interesting and clever petite sweets.

Skeleton cookies…made by a jazzercise classmate who decorates the most beautiful, interesting and clever petite sweets.


What is soooooo wonderful for me, is that my daily tea fits well into my consuming.  Some teas taste just like dessert.  I will share some with you over the next few weeks.  Today I opted for a quality, fragrant, Namring 1st Flush Darjeeling

Pecan sandies made my my good friend, A.

Pecan sandies made my my good friend, A.

for my afternoon pot of tea.  I hadn’t had Darjeeling tea in a while and was reminded how delicate, fragrant, and satisfying this high mountain grown champagne of teas can be from Harney & Sons.

Look forward to updating you on my progress next week.  It’s taken me three days to finish this post and so far, it’s going good.  You’re already inspiring me and didn’t even know it 🙂