Wednesday, May 25, 2011

mid-week weigh in/check in

Well, I hopped on the scale this morning and I'm 9lbs down from where I started. So way to go me!

I've reduced my daily intake (to compensate for my woeful lack of cycling - due to rain and very occasional laziness and frequent time constraints) and have been watching my snacking. If I overeat, I fill my belly with ice cold water later when it claims to be hungry.

In short, I've been good about eating :)

What I have not been good about it posting. I have a lot of excuses for you... but you deserve better than that. I'm trying not to judge myself against other bloggers that give you something to chomp on nearly daily. But I've gotten such wonderful positive feedback from so many people that I feel encouraged to write again. "Again", meaning all those years I didn't write, or if I did it was whiney or personal or ranting and I didn't think about my audience, my purpose. You know, all those things an English major is trained to consider....

I have to remind myself that winter was a time of darkness, inner reflection, huddled against the warmth of hearth and home. Boring, basically. There's time to write. Time to plan. Time to share.

Spring? Not so much.

Summer? I hate the heat and Able-Bodied Boy has tons of travel. So I'll be home with dear sweet (when she's not attacking our friends... oh rescue woes) Bella , tending crops, processing foods, and writing more about all that. Plus chickens. Don't forget the chickens!

In the meantime, I'm eyeballing my Clean Hippie page for a new project (and feel free to comment there with list suggestions!)...

What do you want me to try next? Homemade deodorant? Replacing paper towels with cloth? Labeling current chemical cleaners with their future replacement (mixes of baking soda, vinegar, etc)? Or re-designing this damn blogger page :)?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Thursday, May 19, 2011

the state of the body mind

Since this blog was originally created as some sort of accountability to my 30-lb goal, you would think I might actually post about that now and then. I think it's pretty correlative... my commitment to this goal and my public honesty about it (guilty conscience much?). Which I guess says a lot about where I stand.

Jill over at Lost and Not Found has beat me to the punch on this one, posting about her failings and being all honest about it.... and seeing as it's 2am right now, I'm feeling pretty honest.

Some days, I feel vaguely on track. I have my standard breakfast, work snacks & lunch, and dinner. Maybe a mini candy bar or two while at work. Maybe a late-evening goat cheese and cracker break (no more than 2oz cheese and one serving of triscuits). Ok, so that's not so bad, right? But then we get to those non-standard days, when I have a work luncheon or I'm not going home for dinner and didn't pack a pre-planned meal or we're out and about or it's just a weekend and I'm off my routine. That's when the fast food stops (ugh, you would think with my concern about food sources that I would at least avoid all that crap that is called food) and the boredom/emotional eating and the I'm-too-busy-to-grocery-shop-and-keep-healthy-choices-in-the-house comes in. And then I'm not doing quite so well.

And I know a few things that will help, and I'm going to start trying them. Because I don't want to whine (or at least, I am done whining for the moment), I want to fix.

First, I gotta start trying to beat myself up when I do something wrong. Rewards are better then scolds. One of my favorite guilty pleasures in the world is a good book, and I haven't bought one for myself in far too long. Hell, even gotten one from the library. So... books are my new rewards. I even have a B&N giftcard burning a hole in my wallet! And I have access to a Kindle, so that's a cheap(er) way of reading new books. Of course, a reward has to mean measurable progress of some sort. Which leads to...

Second, I need more concrete feedback. And the only way I'm going to get that is from the scale. So as soon as I can muster some courage, I'm hopping on. Better or for worse.

Third, I know I know how to make good choices. Sometimes it's about drinking 8oz of cold water to soothe a tummy that claims to be hungry. Sometimes it's about taking 2 minutes of hunger (even tho I feel like a rattlesnake about to strike the nearest food source) to check 1) that I'm really hungry and 2) what good choice I can make.

Yesterday, to counteract my overeating on Tuesday, I made an effort to make my meal choices a bit lighter and instead drank a ton of cold water. I still caved on a cheese/crackers evening snack, but considering the rest of the day only had about 1100 calories, I feel ok about that. Not great, but ok. But that was a typical on-routine day. Tuesday was a work luncheon and having guests over for my oh-so-yummy dinner (porkapalooza, which is as awesome and unhealthy as it sounds).

I guess my goals for the week are to ensure I have healthy choices on hand (ie, grocery run tonight or at lunch, no matter what), to begin my 2-minutes of hunger practice (even on my standard healthy choices, just to get in the habit), and to get the courage to jump on the scale. And oh won't that be a fun post, cuz I really feel gross lately.

I also wanted feedback about the ab workouts, cuz I am not feeling the progress on that. Nor any ab pain. I crunch (forward and sides), I do the 100s, I do that balance-on-your-butt thing that makes me shake, I do scissors legs and other leg movements that I can really feel throughout my abs. And yet no ab muscle soreness afterwards and flab flab flab. Very frustrating!!

How do you find personal accountability in the world? Am I the only lazy bastard without willpower to do something for the sake of the accomplishment?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl

ps. I hate 2am.

Monday, May 16, 2011

csa anticipation!!!

On Saturday, Able-Bodied Boy and I attended the orientation picnic for our new CSA. What a wonderful place :) They had plants for sale, extra farm purchases available (we will get 10 weeks of 1 dozen ears of organic corn!), the staff milling about to meet everyone, a farm tour/orientation, and general merriment going on. We managed to get it all done before the rain really got going, and left excited for our first pick-up in a few weeks.

The barn, a farmer, and her fussy baby.

The children's garden; there will be sand
on the black tarp and lots of edible plants!
The set-up is great. You go into the big barn, with your bags from home, and look up at the big board. Collect what you're entitled to, leave anything you don't want in the extras bin, and take what you want from what others have discarded. Then you can look at the U-Pick side of the board to find out what/how much you can take from the acre of berries, cherry tomatoes, herbs, etc.

I was really impressed with the operation, considering I had never really seen anything of that scale before, even if it was only on about 4 acres. Truly amazing what they do!

The most-impressive thing I saw was the hoop-house filled with grafted tomato plants. They grew sturdy, disease-resistant tomato plants and weaker heirloom tomatoes. Then, they painstakingly grafted the heirlooms onto the sturdy stock. Which means a better yield of heirloom tomatoes, woot!

We're sharing our full share with another couple and their toddler, not being sure that either of us could handle a full share on our own. With that, we can mix and match what we get each week, and maybe even do food preservation projects together.

Have you ever joined an CSA? What has your experience been?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

laundry hang-ups

One of the first big steps I took in greener/sustainable living was to stop using the clothes dryer.

Back in 2008, as many of you know, I was living in New Zealand for a few months, decompressing. (Or balancing home-sickness with absolute love for the kiwis, whichever you like.) I was living a fairly nomadic existence for the first few weeks, and had to keep my baggage light, so I only had about one week's worth of clothes with me. Which means lots of febreeze and/or a weekly load of wash, with no time to wait for drying.

I found this to be particularly difficult to accomplish because nearly every place I stayed had no clothes dryer. I was staying with other 20-something kiwis, mooching couch/futon/floor space while looking for an opening in a flat. But no one had dryers. And the people that did, didn't use them.

WTH? For most people, this is a necessity! How did they survive??? Well gosh, they hung their clothes to dry. On racks and outdoor clothes lines. Wellington can get very very damp, and the clothes might not dry for several days. But this was just the way it was. You planned for it and moved on with your life. As I spoke with friends and flat-mates about it, they talked about the wear the dryer put on clothes, not to mention the expense of getting one and the energy costs to run it.

Now, I admit that I did not hang my clothes to dry while I was there. As I said, I didn't have a ton of clothes with me (or extra money to buy more, or to buy a rack of my own), and only one set of sheets and pjs. So quick laundry was a must, and I was lucky enough to be in a "modern" apartment with an in-frequently used dryer.

Once I got home, I really wanted to go without. To save the energy, to save wear and tear on my clothes, and to show myself that I don't have to be as reliant on modern, energy consuming technology. Able-Bodied Boy was immediately on board, and here's how we make it work...

Get a rack (or two)
Our first rack sucked, but I finally found what I wanted at Ikea - no assembly required (boo!).  It folds up nicely to be out of the way when it's not being used, but opens up to hang a couple dozen items up top and plenty of room for socks and undies below. We use the not-so-great one for spillover or draping sheets & duvet covers.
The other option is to start an outdoor line for the nice-weather months. We opted not to, do to having enough space to stay indoors year-round (see below), but I/we would have absolutely no problem setting up an outdoor line if life necessitated it.

Find the space
Depending how often you'll do a load, you may need a semi-permanent spot to keep a rotation of drying going on. We are lucky enough to have a spare room where we can leave it set up all the time. Which we don't need to do, but we get lazy and/or out-of-sight-out-of-mind and leave dry laundry hanging until we're ready for the clothes, the room, or the drying space.
To maximize our space, I have started hanging wet clothes back up on their hangers and lining them up in doorways (also gives your house a fun fort-like feel when you have to stoop to get in a room under the wet clothes :)  This probably isn't the best option for fabrics that will stretch out from their own wet weight, but it's another option nevertheless.

Change your schedule
Most people I know do laundry in batches, every week or so. They'll do 2-4 loads at a time and get it all out of the way. By hang-drying, you'll end up spreading that out more. You'll want at least a day for drying, so plan on no more than a load every other day. It'll be hard at first since your clothing rotation has been everything-at-once, but once you get in that rotation, you'll find that you'll have enough darks for a dark load, then your whites will have plenty, then delicates, etc.
For us, we have enough space in that room to keep sorted laundry piles. Every few days, we'll sort our in-bedroom dirty clothes into the laundry room piles. Once a pile is big (or contains some must-have) we'll throw it in the wash and then hang it up. Sometimes we have the time to do a load every few days and keep up with the folding/putting-away; sometimes the laundry gets backed up and I'll do a massive push of all the laundry over just a couple of days, maximizing all hangers and racks and the dryer (yeah yeah yeah, keep reading below about that).
This might be a blessing in disguise. If you really don't like laundry days and would rather spread out the burden, this is perfect for you! One day you'll throw a load in the wash, then hang them up an hour later. A couple of days later, pull those down, rinse, repeat.

Don't sweat the jean and towels
I first thought I could militantly transition to no dryer. NO MORE, I said. But then I put on my first no-dryer pair of jeans after toweling off with a no-dryer towel. Yeah, I'm having none of that crap. For the most part, jeans and towels end up in one load of wash (or two washes in the same day) and those items get dried in the dryer. If we hang-dry the jeans, it's not too bad - they're just a little stiff. But scratchy towels are terrible. So in the dryer they go.
I don't sweat this. 80-90% of our loads are done dryer-free. And can only think of one occasion when there was an item I needed immediately and used the dryer. The only other uses I have for the dryer are drying pillows when I wash them on occasion, and warming up a blanket on really really cold nights.
I'm really happy with this decision. It's the new normal, and I can't imagine going back to the old rotation of washer-dryer.

Have you used an outdoor line or indoor rack before? If so, are you still using it now?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Sunday, May 8, 2011


This is Bella. She is ours...

When she follows me around constantly, step-for-step, it's really hard to take photos other than this...

Little Miss Spoiled Brat, for the first evening, wouldn't lay on anything that wasn't a dog bed, blanket or couch.  And she sulked a lot when we scolded her for being on the couch. 

She didn't see Able-Bodied Boy go into the garden, so we got to hear her first barks as she defended me from the evil garden man. It took her a while to realize it was only Boy :) Note that she doesn't have a leash on. Unless there are horses nearby, she will stick close. However, she runs for the horses... I suspect there's some Aussie in her!

Her beautiful colors.

After months of deliberations and negotiations, research and no results, I finally stumbled upon this ad Monday on Petfinder, for a Chow-Chow/Keeshond mix (which we now suspect might also be German Shepard or Aussie too):

... is a very sweet and friendly 4 yr old dog. Her previous owners praised her as an excellent housepet and companion. (She was surrendered due to a move) She is a laid back and mellow dog and will do best in a quiet home.

She was 2 hours away from home, but only 40min away from where we were already planning to be on Friday. So Monday and Tuesday were a frantic mess of trying to pull together all the info for the adoption application, which we needed approved to even be able to meet her. Of course, Able-Bodied Boy was away on business, so I was bothering him constantly and nagging him to get information to me and to help submit the application all while he was under a lot of pressure from work.

And all the while I'm bouncy and can't sleep and falling in love with the little photo of her. And trying desperately to remind myself that she might not be "the one", that Able-Bodied Boy might not love her as much as I do, that she might have some issues the ad didn't mention that would deter us.

But no. We arrived Friday and she padded over to us as calm as can be. Within 5 min she was already enjoying our attentions. She seemed to be everything that we could have wanted. So we took her home.

Since then, she's been nearly perfect. Very well-adjusted to house life and will only need minimal training on a couple of issues. We love our Bella ;)

Any new loves in your life?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

greening up your girly times

Seriously guys, this is girl talk... best be moving on...




I have found a fabulous, low-cost, minimal environmental-impact way of handling my menstrual cycle.

If you have never heard of the Diva Cup, or Moon Cup in the UK, let me educate you. The Cup is a silicone, reusable cup that you insert much like a tampon. About every 12 hours (more-frequently if you're having a heavy month), remove, empty, rinse/wash, and re-insert. After each cycle, give it a boil. No monthly run to the drugstore, no more flushing tampons down the toilet, no wrapping soiled pads.

For anyone who has never used one, you probably have a lot of questions... is it messy? will it fit me? what can I do or not do while wearing it? how do I handle using one in a public restroom stall? what about health concerns? Trust me, you are not the only ones who have had these questions. Diva Cup's website has a fabulous FAQ that answers just about every question you might have, so I do recommend reading up to get your specific questions answered.

In the meantime, I'll give you the practical bits of info to help you get started... don't be squeamish, cuz I'll get descriptive.

Is it messy? Number one concern. Ever.
There will be an adjustment period as you get used to the proper insertion technique (ie, you might have some leakage to deal with). So don't throw away those panty liners just yet... you'll want to have them as a back-up for the first few cycles.
When inserting the cup, there is usually very little messiness involve. Of course, always wash your hands after, but it's not bad otherwise.
When removing the cup, I find it's best to do while actually seated (just slide back a bit on the seat) so you can remove and dump without risking drips elsewhere in the bathroom; use a piece of tissue to set it aside for the rinse/wash. Clean yourself, do your business, etc. Then wash your cup and re-insert while wet. Doing all this in a shower is certainly feasible too.
As for changing the cup in a public restroom stall, while camping, etc... on those very few occasions I ever actually have to deal with that, I carry a small pack of toddler wipes with me; they are moist and flushable (please note that Diva does not recommend "pre-moistened wipes" on their website, as they may damage silicone, and some parents complain that "flushable wipes" are not very flushable... so take my advice at your own risk!). I remove and dump, then wipe it off with the wipes. I hold it in one hand while cleaning myself. Then I reinsert and use another wipe or two to clean my hands. Another wipe on the seat (hell, before too) if necessary. Do a courtesy flush mid-way if you're worried all those wipes will clog the toilet!
As their website says, changing more frequently than 12 hours is a personal, flow-related decision. I find that for 95% of my cycles, I am near a private restroom during those two times a day I remove and clean the cup, thus having more flexibility to set the cup down and rinse off in a sink (clean up behind yourself!). That other 5% of the time, prepare with wipes, or bring those few leftover tampons you have to get through.

Is it hard to insert? Will it fit me?
There are two sizes, mainly based on age and whether or not you've birthed children. I've never heard of anyone having terrible difficulty with the size that the company recommends.
As for insertion, it is similar to inserting a tampon, in terms of angling toward the tailbone. You'll want to fold the cup, much like how your tongue looks when you hot-dog it. A pinch along the side will help keep that fold, and then you can use the bottom of the curve to slide up and in. There is a stem which you can use to help push it in a bit further until it is comfortable. I find that the fold does not immediately pop open, so a few minutes later I'll feel a little butterfly as the cup fully opens. If the stem is too long, you can trim it, but keep in mind that it is your primary grip for removal, so you'll want it to be long enough to grab.
If it's not in far enough, you will know... you'll feel the base of the cup (not to mention the pokey stem) when you sit. No worries, just push it in a bit more. And if it's in too far, it'll be hard to get hold of. But from my experience it's really hard to get it in so far that you can't get it out.
It does take getting used to, and there may be some leakage if it doesn't settle in correctly. But it is fairly easy to get the hang of and there is nothing saying you can't practice during other times of the month!

How/how often do you clean it?
During the cycle, rinse or wipe during each removal/insertion. You can use mild soaps, but nothing harsh or abrasive to silicone. Please reference the list in the Diva FAQ's of cleansers they do not recommend. (Note they do NOT recommend using pre-moistened wipes; I believe there is a difference between pre-moistened towelettes and the toddler wipes and feel comfortable using the toddler wipes as infrequently as I do.) They also sell a cleaner of their own.
There are tiny holes along the rim that allow for air flow. These need to be kept clear, so keep a toothpick handy for that if necessary. I normally check thoroughly between cycles, unless I have a particularly heavy cycle or see a problem on a visual check. To check for certain if they are clogged: fill the cup with water, top it with your palm to seal it, flip it over, and gently squeeze. If the water comes out of the holes, they are clear. If not, break out your toothpick.
After each cycle, boil it for 5-10 minutes to completely sterilize it.
You may find some discoloration over time, but the boiling and a gentle scrubbing with an old toothbrush (for this purpose only!) will help remove any residue.

Other than that, there's not much to it. New things are always a little scary, but I've been using the cup for 6-7 years now and have been very very happy with it!

For those that use the cup, do you have any other suggestions/advice? And now that the boys have left the room, are there any other topics or questions you ladies want to pose to the room?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl