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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Things to do for 2014 - July

I really need to catch up:

1. Complete the first two levels of Rosetta Stone - German

2. Read 25 books - Last year, I read 16 books, four short of my 20 book goal. This year I've upped it to 25 as I don't feel I read nearly as much as I should.

Finished reading:
- The Yard by Alex Grecian
- It by Stephen King. Can I tell you, I wasn't scared while reading the book, but now I'm still a little scared... especially when it comes to bathrooms.
-The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
- Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin - While I enjoy Carlin's stand up routines, the book didn't really translate too well, despite my attempts to read it with his voice in my head. I think I'll stick to his stand up instead.
- The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie
- The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
- The Mist by Stephen King.
Brotherhood of Fear: A Willi Kraus Novel by Paul Grossman - I enjoyed this installment. I finished it during the week we were away and I'm sad that I now have to wait for the next book in the series. *sad face*
- Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Graeme-Smith
- Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

To be read at some point this year:
- The Black Country by Alex Grecian
- The Devil's Workshop by Alex Grecian - due out in May

I'm getting there, but I need to step up my reading.

3. Spend less time on the computer in my non-working hours

4. Maintain the blog with regular posts - I've come up with a tentative schedule for postings, but it is still a work in progress.

5. Go through the Digital SLR for Dummies book and improve my photography skills. - I've made it through chapter 1,which is the intro chapter... so really it's kinda like I haven't started looking at the book :/

I really need to get on this one.

6. Continue to photograph Gimli and Merida.

7. Lose 20 lbs. - Last year, I struggled with this and am struggling with it again as the year begins. I was doing well, then I stopped exercising and all the progress I did was lost.

January 31 2014
- down 4 lbs to 144
- lost an inch
- I've been working out my arms and they look a bit better. Not chiseled or anything, but you can see the muscle start to take shape.

February 28 2014
- 144 lbs
- lost another inch/ inch and a half
- I'm starting to see changes - ie I was able to wear a pair of pants through a full dinner and dessert and didn't feel like the button was going to pop off.  This is good news.

March 31 2014
- Am the same as I was at the end of February.
- To say I'm disappointed is an understatement, though my tailbone isn't helping. My arms look great though, so there's that. For April, I'm going to ease back into my stomach exercises and I'm sure once we start running, it will be a big help.

May 31 2014
- Same as before. There's a slight decrease as I was able to wear a pair of pants that I haven't worn in a while.  I still have a way to go.

July 2014
- Same weight as before. I am seeing decreases in my waist and hips, though. I can finally see some progress, not as much as I'd like, but I'll take it!
- This past weekend I wore a pair of pants through an entire meal and it didn't make me uncomfortable. I'm counting this as a win!
- My arms and now shoulders are a bit wider than they used to be. This means tops that I can now wear because I've shrunk my muffin top, I cannot wear because the arms are too tight.

8. Finish painting our house - The office and master bedroom have been painted. This leaves just one room - the spare room. We did get a quote for this room, but had we decided to paint it, there would have been no room to move the bed and bookshelves what with the furniture from the master and office strewn about the upstairs level.

We will get to this one, probably later in the year.

9. Frame and put up our pictures.

Update:
 Pictures are up in the main bathroom and the office.

Working on downstairs next.

10. Go to The Arboretum at least once a month - weather permitting.

11. Discover local restaurants/bistros etc in my city or in the surrounding areas.

12. Take more pictures of Mike and me.

13.  Enjoy our backyard.

14. Surprise someone.

15. Put in more flowers/shrubs etc in the yard - We picked up some flowers yesterday and planted them today. We also transplanted our irises, which have never bloomed by the way, from the planters and into the ground. Maybe they will bloom now?  We filled in the planter boxes with the flowers we picked up.

Update: the irises are all dead. The spot where we planted them gets too wet and so it kills the flowers. I don't know what to do with that spot other than remove the mulch and put down some sod.

The flowers we bought are growing like crazy! We purchased a "viney" plant and it's spreading quite nicely, to the point where I had to separate a small bit of it. I placed that little one by the fence and I'm hoping it takes and starts to cover the fence.

16. Move off of "Medium" on the drums in Rock Band and to "Hard".

17. Complete the Minas Tirith 3D puzzle

18. Take up running. I'm nowhere close to the point of doing a 5k of straight running, but it's something I want to do. The ultimate goal is to do one of the RunDisney events at the parks.

Well, we are planning on going to the 5k and 10k races in January. We've booked our rooms already - (Yay DVC members!) and our running training will start once the weather improves. I've got it in my mind to start in April, but we'll see. We're also going to do smaller runs closer to home to focus on a timed race.

I will admit, this is not something I'd ever thought I'd be doing! I've been a self-confessed "non-runner" all my life.

Update: We now go running three times a week and I'm up to run/walking 3k. I hope I'll be up to 5k proper by the end of August and then I'll start training for the 10k!

19. Put in a smaller garden in the backyard.

20. Organize the spare bedroom so it actually looks like a bedroom and not a place to shove "stuff".

21. Scan in our baby pictures.

22. Start putting together our Disney album.

23. Start cooking more Trinidad type food.

24. Work on the corgis' recall.

25. Travel to a new place. - We went to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Falmouth, Jamaica this year.
Read about the Cozumel Regatta here.

26. Go through my MasterChef and Gordon Ramsay cookbooks and make the recipes. - I've done a couple recipes from the MasterChef book. These posts are coming also.

27. More to come...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cozumel Regatta

Have you ever watched those America's Cup races on television? They are split up by country and consist of each team racing a large boat or catamaran across a track. These boats have no engine and rely on the winds, the sails and good old elbow grease to take advantage of the conditions to accelerate and maintain speed, and change direction.

The boats look something like this:


or


One of our stops on our May cruise was Cozumel, Mexico. In preparation for our cruise, we searched through the various shore excursions available and we hummed and hawed over the Regatta. On the one hand, it was something neither of us had done, but the big factor for us was the accessibility aspect of it. Mike can transfer from his wheelchair and walk, but he's only ever had to do that on solid ground. Throw a big blue ocean into the mix and all bets are off!

We searched Youtube and looked for reviews and we decided to throw caution to the wind and book the excursion! What's the worst that could happen right?

On Cozumel day, we met with our Disney guide, who took the group down to the pier. We met up with our local guides who took our tickets and led us to the small steps down to the tender boat.

Mike handled the steps well, but then we had to place the wheelchair and Mike himself onto the tender boat. I boarded the boat first and accepted the wheelchair, which I firmly locked into place. It would do no good if the chair went for a swim off the coast of Mexico! Then, it was Mike's turn. He waited for a lull in the tide and slowly made his way onto the boat.

We took our seats and our little tender boat headed around the Disney Fantasy and out to sea. We had to travel to another Carnival boat, who was tendered a ways off. The passengers from that boat would join us on our Regatta.



After we picked up our fellow cruisers, we made our way to the America's Cup boats, currently moored on the open water. There were two boats for us to use and they used the non-existent rivalry between Canada and the US. :) We were assigned to the Canadian boat - True North IV.

These boats were actual boats used in past America's Cup races back in the 80s. Comparing the pictures, from more recent races to these, it's amazing how much has changed!


Normally, I worry a little bit. At the same time, I'm a realist and a thinker, so while I'm worrying, I'm thinking of ways to get out of the situation. I didn't realize the Regatta boats would be moored on the water. So, as we're approaching the boat, I'm seeing the waves and feeling the movement and I start thinking of how to safely get Mike across.

Our tender boat pulled up to the US boat first, so we were able to see the other passengers board their boat. This didn't make me feel any better, in fact, I felt a little more nervous.

We approached our boat and the rest of our tour boarded first. I went to double check the brakes on the wheelchair - it had to stay on the tender boat - and in the time it took me to to check it and turn around, Mike made it safely over to the boat!

After some introductions, we were ready to begin. We'd been given our assignments while on the tender boat. Mike and I were to be cheerleaders. There was no way I trusted myself to handle the ropes or anything of that nature! We found a spot to lean and hold onto the ropes, just on the side of the boat, and away we went!

I'm no sailor and I have no idea of the terms we used during the race... but at some points, we were moving! And, the boats would be level one minute and then as we had to turn, the boat tilted to the point where the tip to the stern was in the water.  If I had the guts, I could have reached over and touched the water!  Then, the boat would tilt again and if Mike and I didn't brace our feet on the mooring in the center, we'd have fallen across and into the water.


Speaking of water, in some places, it wasn't the nice light blue water.  Oh no, this was deep blue, almost black water. We were in open water!

After the race finished and we waited for our tender boat, there was a large splash off to the side of the boat. I didn't see what it was, but our captain remarked, "Wow, something big just came up there!"

This was my face because I wanted to see what it was and didn't.



So, who won? Canada did, of course!


This was an excursion of a lifetime. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and we highly recommend it!

Unfortunately, no Flat Corgis on this trip, it was too unsafe for them. It would have been cool though!

Here's the YouTube video for the company:


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fire and Ice

Gimli is fire and Merida is ice.

I know it's a weird way to describe ones dogs, but hear me out.

When we first met Gimli, his breeder remarked that all of her corgis love the snow. Gimli's first Winter he enjoyed himself romping in the snow, but after a while, he'd want to come in.  Mostly around the time the tufts of snow latched onto his fluffy hair and made walking unbearable.


Merida, on the other hand, is part polar bear. She adores the snow and would stay out in it all day if she wouldn't freeze to death. I'm always amazed that for a corgi of her size and lack of hair, she is a little snow bear. This past Winter, when we had the polar vortex, I had to ply her into the house with cookies and a few times I had to pick her up and bring her in.


It's Summer now and Gimli's in his element. He'll gladly sit outside in the shade or even in the full sun and soak up the warmth. You'd think all that hair would make it unbearable for him, but I guess he doesn't mind.


Merida despises the warmth. If we're outside, she waits patiently at the door to go inside. She wants nothing to do with outside unless it's to use the bathroom, sniff around, run a couple laps, and then run back inside to escape the "heat".


These corgis are such funny little creatures.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Froggie

I don't like creepy crawly things.

Insects, spiders, lizards, geckos, chameleons, salamanders, snakes, frogs, toads, gila monsters, scorpions etc, I don't like them.

Alligators are ok - see me and Ginger, though I'm not going to go swim with them anytime soon.

I fully support the right for them to exist and to contribute to this planet, but for the love of God, go do it elsewhere or if you're going to traipse through my backyard, do it when I can't see you.

Our backyard backs up against a farmer's field, so there are any number of critters that wander around the neighborhood. I'm fine with this... except when it comes to the frogs.

We've finally gotten our yard to the point where the weeds are manageable, the grass is coming back and our shrubs and flowers are growing.  Except, there's a small area between the fence and the other side of the house that looks like a small piece of wilderness. Very little sun gets into this area, so no grass will grow. The sod that was put down when we moved into this house has since died, leaving the bare ground for the weeds to take up residence. And take up residence they have!

Yesterday, after I mowed the lawn, I decided I'd go into my small piece of wilderness to pull some of the 4 ft tall weeds. All was going well until I heard a rustle in the grass to my left. I looked over to see a fair sized spotted frog hop over to the fence and disappear into the neighbor's yard.

Friends, I don't know how my legs worked at that time, but they got me out of there!

I scurried into the house and lamented to Mike, who promptly laughed at me.  Gee, thanks.

Suffice it to say, I'm now trying to find some sort of suitable ground cover for that little piece of wilderness. That way, I can plant it, choke out the weeds and not have to go over there ever again.

The only frog I like is this one:


Sunday Smiler - Little Derp


Because I missed the Saturday Smiler yesterday, here's one for today.. with a little derpyness thrown in.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Chip and I


Notes:

- This is 1985.
- This is Chip. How do you tell the difference? Chip has front teeth in the center, while Dale has front teeth on the sides of his mouth. Chip has a black nose and Dale has a red nose. Chip has a smooth head and Dale has a ruffled bit of hair on his head.
- What is going on with my hair? Lord have mercy, it needs a good combing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Where is the purple thing?

Last year, we purchased this purple Kong treat dispenser. It's a hollow tube that is stuffed with treats or peanut butter or a combination of both and it's supposed to keep your dog occupied.

It looks just like this and I believe it's the Medium size.


I must say, it works quite well. We only need to show it to Gimli and he knows what's coming.




There is one problem with it though... Gimli lost it.

A number of months ago, I gave it to Gimli with some carrots in it, while I gave Merida a different treat dispenser.  The last I saw of it, he was laying on his side pawing at it in the spare bedroom. When I went to add more treats, I couldn't find it.

We've turned the house upside down, but we cannot find it.

Gimli's not talking, so we're at a loss.  I'm sure the next owner of our house will find it one day and wonder what the hell this old, crusty, hair covered thing is.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Running - June '14

I've been run/walking for about a month.

I've been following the couch to 5k app and I'm able to run/walk about 2.5 km, which is roughly 1.5 miles. This past weekend, I ran 2 intervals of 3 minutes straight. Not much yet, but considering that last month I couldn't do it, I'm pleased with the results.

If I keep this up, then I'll be up to 5k by this time next month.

Then, I'll switch to the 10k training plan, which will take me to the next level to be ready for our two runs.

What have I learned in this time:

1. Buy proper running shoes.

I bit the bullet and purchased a pair of Asics Ice running shoes... in pink (!!!) and in a size 9. We went to an actual running store and spoke to the salesperson who looked at my feet and my gait and was able to suggest some brands. I tried on 3 different pairs before I settled on the current one. My issue is that I have flat feet and I need the cushioning under and around my feet. The salesperson also suggested I go up a size to give my toes enough room to lie as my feet come up after each stride.

It feels different and a little freeing to not have to worry about foot pain when trying to increase your stamina.

2. Run in the morning.

We've found that running in the morning makes the day go a bit smoother. You aren't forcing yourself to go after work when you're tired or had a bad day.

It also makes it easy to run when it's cooler, as opposed to when the sun is beating down on you.

3. Feet position.

I'm calling it this because I don't have any other term for it. I found when I ran that I'd bring up my knees/feet too high and I was wasting energy and tiring far too quickly.

I've since reduced the height of my knees/feet and I can see and feel the difference. I'm still tired, but I'm tired closer to the end of the run as opposed to during the first third.

That's all I have so far and your mileage may vary on these. I'll post another update once I've hit another milestone.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Flat Corgi Friday - Stamps


When we take the Flat Corgis with us on vacation, we try to put stickers or stamps on the back as a reminder of where we've been.

Since these two are brand new, we have to settle for posing with stamps.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!






We only have one bandanna with the maple leaf on it, so Merida had to share it today.