Sunday, January 10, 2016

Seven Things Sunday

I've already posted today, I know, because I wanted to share the Alaïa exhibition photos and my news about my upcoming trip to Rome before I headed out on an oh-so-early morning run with my sister. But, as I said in that first post, I've also been wanting to dispatch a cluster of items under a Five Things Friday heading, and I couldn't quite synch my timing.I had this ready to go on Friday, and then decided I might add a few more items, change the day of the week, and go for sibilance as well as alliteration -- Seven Things Saturday

So.

1. I posted my 2015 reading list over here, in case any of you are looking for new titles to add to your own list for 2016.

2. When my sisters and I took that road trip to Whidbey Island back in November, an important stop on their itinerary was Trader Joe's, which we don't have above the border. I tried to mimic the excitement, but honestly, I'm not so much about processed foods and, of course, the raw stuff couldn't come back home with us. Nor, if we'd been more realistic, could we eat that many snacks in two days, especially given that we went out for dinner Friday night, lunch Saturday, and left Sunday morning. . . . But, in my efforts to share the enthusiasm, I did pick up a pack of Meyers Lemon Thins to bring home. I expected they would be like the Anna's cookies we have here which come in a chocolate, a ginger, and a lemon very thin wafer, and which I can treat myself to with reasonable impunity as their calorie count is relatively low, considering satisfying taste and texture.

Well, the Meyers Lemon Thins are similar, but even better. If you would like an occasional treat with your afternoon tea or a light sweet after dinner,  9 of these buttery, lightly sugar-coated, intensely lemon-y crispy-crunchy-yet-melty delights can be yours for a mere 130 calories.  Highly recommended. Wish I'd brought back more than one box. . .

3. And since I'm mentioning calories, I'll tell you that I decided to pay attention to Duchesse's recommendation of My Fitness Pal and I downloaded the app early December. I've been a few pounds up from the goal I attained a couple of years ago through Weight Watchers, and I kept saying I'd do something about it, but never managed to get myself to WW for a weigh-in and a re-commitment. At first, I thought I'd be better off waiting until after Christmas, but then the trip to Rome loomed and I suspected there would be something else after that, as, meanwhile, the pounds accumulated.

There are some immediately obvious limitations to My Fitness Pal, particularly when compared to the Weight Watchers program. MFP works strictly on calories, whereas WW points have been carefully calibrated, based on the most recent science nutrition, to allow for the differing effects of fat, fibre, sugar, and so on, and I'm not sure I would have lost the 15 pounds I did without their guidance. Fullness and appetite management are issues well worth drawing on WW's expertise and support for. But having that knowledge already, I'm a good candidate for taking advantage of MFP's free app which prompts me to enter all the foods I eat while it tracks my steps (through my iPhone, although it can also synch to a variety of other systems).  I need to be very judicious about the database they offer, because much of it is crowd-sourced and there can be a wide variety -- I'm not motivated to cheat, wanting to shed these few pounds quickly, but some days. . . .

Anyway, for what it's worth, I second Duchesse's recommendation and I think the app can be a good tool in creating awareness around food intake and exercise output. Have you used it? Would you?

4. I've often written about my fascination with portraits, most notably in a series of posts that culminated in my sharing part of a watercolour my good friend painted of me a few years ago. That friend, Alison (also a wonderful teacher who has given me confidence to play with pencil, paint, and paper) posted this week about a portrait she painted from the photo of a nephew who died tragically two years ago. Alison is an eloquent writer (so far, she's had a book of poetry published, and many individual poems published in a variety of journals, as well as a memoir that won a well-known Canadian prize for creative non-fiction) and the combination of her painting, her thoughts on the process of portrait-making, particularly in the face of loss, and Alison's meditative, insightful words make this a post I think you'd like to read -- very moving.

5. Another article I came across recently that I think you might enjoy is this one from the UK Sunday Times by concert pianist James Rhodes. Rhodes is an inspiring ambassador for creativity in our lives, and in this article he extols the value of the piano as a pathway to releasing that creativity. Not all of us, of course, have room or budget or inclination to house a piano, but Rhodes' article is still worth reading. Let me know what you think. (This earlier article of Rhodes' is also inspiring.)

6. In the last month or so on Netflix: the movie The Clouds of Sils Maria with the always marvellous Juliette Binoche and the surprisingly good (well, the rest of you might have known this, but I was surprised) Kristen Stewart; lighter, but worth watching for Blythe Danner's portrayal of a 70-something widow) in I'll See You in my Dreams; the binge-able series Jessica Jones and River. Oh, and Luther's back, although that you'll have to search out and pay for, I suspect. We found it on iTunes... And don't miss Carol!! We watched it on the big screen last night, in a theatre that screens lots of foreign and "art" films, and with an audience that was small but so attentive and appreciative and moved. It's beautiful enough to be worth plunking down cash to see it at the cinema, on a big screen. Bravura performances from the two principal actors, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, but Kyle Chandler is also convincing -- so human -- as Carol's husband, and Sarah Paulson is solid as Carol's friend Abby.

7. And finally, let me include a belated (don't worry; I did send her wishes on the day as well) Happy Birthday to a beautiful daughter living far from home. At least, far from me. I think she is beginning to feel at Home in Rome, and I hope she had a beautiful day there. Should you wish to send her Birthday greetings, she blogs occasionally (not often enough for her Mama, but my little granddaughter keeps her busy) over here. If you've read my last post, you'll know I'll be able to give her belated birthday greetings in person very soon.

For now, though, before my trip to Rome I'm going on a little road trip with Pater. He has to be in a certain small American city for some meetings, and I'm going along because I can, now that I'm retired. I haven't been to this particular city for over a decade, and I've always liked it very much, so I'm looking forward to walking its streets, going for a run or two, browsing a fabulous bookstore there, and drinking a glass or two of the region's good wines. Of course I'm bringing iPhone and MacBook along, so I'll let you know what I'm up to. Meanwhile, I hope you find at least one or two things among the Seven to entertain you this Sunday. Comments always welcome, as you must know by now.


45 comments:

  1. I was an early adopter of My Fitness Pal - you may know that I kept a food diary on and off (mostly on) for 10 years and I sometimes return to it. BTW, I don't do it to count calories - which is SO not me - but because I love to chart things and I struggle with sugar consumption so, for me, it's a way to stay on top of that. It's a good program but, as with all such programs, there are statistical inaccuracies. I suggest you use it as a guide because the info is largely only as good as the peeps entering it - and they're not the most detail-oriented bunch (as cross-referencing may show). Mind you, it's a lot better now than it was when I first started using it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've put your finger on it -- I can search for Egg and get an astonishing range. Bibimbap, and it's even bigger! Still, since I'm motivated to lose, I make sure that any error is on the side that favours weight loss, and the program's free and quite convenient, easy to use. It works as a guide to reinforce the guide I developed at WW, who had grown a bit complacent and lazy. . .

      Delete
  2. Are you off to Portland? I guess we'll find out soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good guessing, Nancy! I'm guessing it was the bookstore clue that gave it away. ;-)

      Delete
  3. Hi Mater, thank you for the reading tips, I've made a note of a few of them. We loved River! We will now be watching Unforgotten, on BBC Canada, also with Nicola Walker (one of my favourite British actresses). I've tried Luther and although I do like Idris Elba (what's NOT to like?) and I love British detective shows, it was a little too much for me (squeamish).

    I have tried My Fitness Pal, I should really get back on it - although I have upped my activity levels, I'm afraid I haven't paid the same attention to my food consumption. I could do with cutting down on sugar.

    Look forward to hearing about your road trip, sounds like fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm making a note of Unforgotten. Do you get BBC Canada as part of a cable package on your TV? I don't think we have that (honestly, I've just surrendered the TV to the man in my house who loves a remote -- we only have the one TV, so I stick with my lovely big computer monitor and iTunes or Netflix)
      I love the way MFP makes the equation between food and exercise so clear. It's a huge motivator to logging some steps early enough in the day or to go out for an extra walk after dinner. . .

      Delete
    2. We have Bell satellite tv - it's good for PVRing. I've put I'll See You In My Dreams on our Netflix wishlist - I like Blythe Danner, looking forward to watching it sometime. (Is it just me, or is your Netflix wishlist way longer than the amount of time you have available for watching tv/movies?)

      Delete
  4. Some years ago we visited friends in California and encountered Trader Joe's - we could not resist it and went back far more than we needed. At the time there was nothing like that in the UK but times are a-changin'. And thanks for writing about weight loss. It can seem a bit like saying Voldemort to even mention it these days as if you are somehow betraying the sisterhood to want to lose a gut or two. When I hear someone saying, "I do not believe in denying myself" I always want to ask them (rudely) just why not? I am far from huge but the last few years have added a dimension that has never been there before. And it must go. Good luck in Rome and enjoy the crisp, clear air and delicious Soave.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true about mentioning the weight loss, Annie, and I don't like to emphasize it too much, especially since I'm small by many standards. But no amount of new clothes buying looks as good on me as chucking the few pounds that are keeping my wardrobe favourites from fitting their best. And anytime I've focused on losing weight healthily, I feel much better for it -- exercise, better food choices, smaller portions that keep me sleeping better at night. Etc., Well, sounds as if you know the same....(and there's still always room for that Soave!)

      Delete
  5. Happy birthday to your daughter, happy travels to you and Pater. Thanks for the Netflix recommendations, nothing like a good long digital narrative;).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of those narratives are so very good! I will always hold a special place for the written word, but storytelling is getting no short shrift from the digital, for sure!

      Delete
  6. I have tried MFP too and think it is fine. Any problems are with my tendency not to bother to fill in the info! I have lost about ten pounds over the last six months or so, ten pounds which I have been wanting to lose for several years. It seems to be down to excluding gluten from my diet which I didn't do for weight loss reasons! Anyway, very pleased and some small consolation for giving up bread, which I love!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true, the problem I have with MFP is that I'm too lazy (and, honestly, it's a cumbersome process) to enter info for recipes or meals or ingredients, so I rely on the crowd-sourced database.
      Ten pounds is a substantial loss, and I know how much better that can feel. And presumably you've had a double win from it as you must be feeling better without the gluten (otherwise, you'd never have stuck to the plan, loving bread as you do)

      Delete
  7. Thank you as always for the interesting and thought provoking inspirations and links. I hope your hints indicate you are coming to Portland - my home. Portland truly is a delight to visit, full of interesting independent businesses, wonderful food and wine and beautiful scenery, including the spectacular Columbia River Gorge. Go course where you live us equally incredible! Let me know if you would like any recommendations. Best to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a kind offer -- thank you! So far, I'm relearning the city and balancing its wonderful retail offerings (some very cool shops, so many wonderful artisans) with the reality of our Canadian dollar's buying power. . . No resistance at Powell's, though, apparently. . .

      Delete
  8. Trader Joe's Cranberry Dunkers. Nothing finer. A box found its way over the pond - several boxes on several occasions did not last long enough in my custody to need their passports - and now it's used to store some of the Christmas decorations. Every year it comes out and we sigh...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So if I happen on a Trader Joe's, I should try the Cranberry Dunkers and then I can add them to the Lemon Thins and when they're all done, we can sigh, in their shared absence, together . . .

      Delete
  9. Happy travels...a road trip with pater sounds like fun!
    Why we do not have Trader Joes in Canada still surprises me...I love their fresh food and flowers.
    I am a fan of WW and am following their points program on my own. I am trying to save money and have all my original information and books so I know what to do. My Fitness Pal is a great resource and you sounds very dedicated...and you run so it should not be too daunting a task.
    There is am amazing bookstore in Portland...Powells, I am sure that you already know this gem and will visit it.
    I would love to see Portland from your eyes...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I'm fine without a Trader Joe's here, although perhaps they could do organic, local, at decent prices for the fresh stuff. I'm so much better off when I stay away from the processed and they're pretty tempting...
      I do know Powell's and have already done some damage there. . . ;-)

      Delete
  10. We just finished up Jessica Jones and enjoyed it very much. Yours is the third recommendation in as many days for The River, so that may be the next one we take up. Have you watched Peaky Blinders?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The River is addictive -- have fun! (just one more episode. . . )
      No to PB, but I just made a note of it after seeing Garance's recommendation. You?

      Delete
  11. As for apps and things, I must confess thai I am a very old-fashioned person. I still haven't even taken the step from mobile phone to smartphone and I cannot see myself feeding any personal data into the internet if I can avoid it (and pen on paper serves the same purpose). My way of controlling my weight is a method called 2:5 - two days of fasting (well, 500 to 700 calories) per weeks. Works well with me.
    I read the article about the piano (an accordeon would serve the same purpose, I imagine) and although I can see its points, it also made me a bit angry. It sounds far too easy. We all know that one hour a day for yourself is almost impossible for working mothers, and even if we manage that, there are still hairdressers' appointments, yoga classes and some knitting that have to be squeezed into these precious moments...
    I apologize if I sound grumpy, I'm just submerged in work.
    I wish you a good trip. Wherever you are going, I am looking forward to what you have to tell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard of people having great success with 2:5. It wouldn't work for my lifestyle, at least not with my level of motivation, but the simplicity appeals.
      I'm surprised that Rhodes' article made you angry, but I see the challenges you speak of. Still, it seems to me that creativity is such an antidote to this (and yoga and knitting, perhaps, are examples of activities that make room for creativity). Sorry about the work overwhelming. Take care.

      Delete
  12. Like you, I had WW under me when I d/loaded MFP. However, may I point out MFP does provide a breakdown of carbs, fat and protein for everything you log on your Food page, so you can either plan ahead, or see how you're doing at the end of each day. You can emulate WW's relatively low carb program (or not :0 )

    re the calorie counts, I have found them to be as accurate as I need.

    And, unlike WW, it is free.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I do see that MFP provides the breakdown, but again, all the stats seem to be crowd-sourced and there are wild discrepancies. As long as the app is used with common sense, discretion, and a motivation to be honest, though, it's really effective, and I love the price! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

      Delete
  13. I had the same question..... Portland bound?

    I tried MFP for a while but found the emphasis on food makes me think about food all the time. I'm getting better results with a Fitbit and Virgin Pulse trackers.. making sure I get enough steps per day and cutting back on sugar helps control my weight. I'm an emotional eater.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You guessed it! Portland it is!
      Interesting about the food emphasis ramping up a sense of deprivation. I can see this -- sometimes during my first weight loss, I caught myself thinking about what I could eat when I got to my goal weight, which is rather missing the point. You're smart to focus on exercise, especially if you find that cutting back on sugar addresses most of the weight issues. For me, perhaps because I run a fair bit, I can start to count on the exercise doing more than it actually is... at some point, the intake needs to be addressed... I like the exercise-tracking of MFP with my iPhone, such a simple motivator...

      Delete
  14. A lot of homework to do!
    Trader Joe's,MFP,Alison,portraits,article...all new to me!
    Rhodes......his reflections are so right,how important to encourage children to express their creativity,more important to be with them and play,sing,draw,cook,read......we need more voices like his to recall real values.
    This is your approach,too
    Mine....a lot of us here!
    I am not gifted at all in performing music or art,but love it and was playing and singing a lot for my son (maybe did a lot of damage singing out of tune :-))
    The thin white duke is gone..... so sad....and what a farewell
    Dottoressa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear, oh dear, I've sent you off with too much work, and you are such a good student ;-)
      I think it's so important to give children music from early on, and not just music that's produced and polished, but simple music from the human voice, out of tune and all -- keepin' it real! ;-)
      And yes, what a loss, but what gifts he left the world!

      Delete
  15. I miss Trader Joe's!

    I just canceled my WW account because their new platform is terrible, and their new points system had the potential to cause way too much emotional distress over food than it is worth for me. I'm now on MFP, which has its imperfections, but seems much more reasonable and sensible than the new plan, imho.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting to hear about the new WW, which validates my choice to try MFP. Even with its imperfections, it's keeping me motivated and those pounds are leaving. . . and for free!

      Delete
  16. hope you are having a great time in that certain American city that I know and love--sounds delicious, having several days to really relax into it...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alison. Despite the pretty constant rain and cold, I'm enjoying the city...

      Delete
  17. Thanks for the Netflix recommendations. I was in the mood for something new. And have a lovely trip or trips, both short and long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you like the recommendations -- pretty escapist stuff, but well done, imo.

      Delete
  18. What fun to be able to go along with Pater on his business trip. Lots of time to poke around on your own and still have dinner with him. Sounds lovely. When Stu and I travel in Canada we do something similar because he golfs and I no longer do. Had to jettsion that particular activity; my innate perfectionism and my poor hand eye co-ordination meant it was more frustrating than fun. So he golfs, and I get to drop him off and poke around whatever city or town we're in for four hours. I've found little tea rooms and quirky craft shops that would bore him silly and which I find enchanting. Win, win, for both of us. With respect to Fitness Pal. I use the free program on my desk top, and used something like it a few years ago. WRT Fitness Pal I only use it sporadically, but I like that you input food and activity and at the bottom it will say something like: "if you continue like you did today for five weeks you will weigh.... whatever." Gulp. Good as a wake-up call.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've got it -- I used to be able to do ore of this, and I missed it. I love having the time to wander at my own pace and then we catch up for meals.
      I wonder if I'll keep using MFP to keep me honest, or whether I'm more likely to use it sporadically, as you do, once I've got my weight back where I want it. And yes, that "You'll weigh x if you keep this up!" can be encouraging or sobering...

      Delete
  19. Have a wonderful time in Portland Frances. I m looking forward to hearing about it!
    Rosie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, you're perfectly named for this city, aren't you?! I must say, if I did nothing else but wander the shelves in Powell's, it would be worth the visit. That store is absolutely magnificent! Lucky you to have it in your back yard.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the reply Frances ... although I must admit I didn't understand it!! :) Sorry!! Guess you must be thinking of a different Rosie. No worries though. Just thought I'd mention it.

      Delete
    3. Whoops! I am thinking of the Rose/Rosie? who lives in Portland (and this is the City of Roses). Sorry -- I probably shouldn't have tried responding to comments while still recovering from being sick!

      Delete
  20. Underwhelmed by "Carol" as were my friends - and glad you loved it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We did love it, but I've heard the occasional dissenting opinion. Any particular quibble or just underwhelmed by the whole?

      Delete
  21. I loved The Clouds of Sils Maria when the mister and I saw it in a little indie cinema here.

    I've always wanted to go to Portland. Looks like you had fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well apart from the food poisoning, obviously.

      That comment was meant to embody a touch of irony - your face in the photo of you in front of Bumble is priceless - but it sort of backfired, sorry.

      Delete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...