February 25, 2009

Saying goodbye

Last night I did not partake in any sort of Mardis Gras. In fact, my last night before a sugar fast was rather measured and subdued. Having a rare moment of foresight, I decided to hit the grocery story to stock up on fruits that will tie me over when the need for sugar arises. There were also a few other things we needed from the store, so I had to wander through a few aisles before the fruit section.

While I was perusing for cereal and granola bars, I noticed a special on glazed almonds. "Yum!" I thought, "those look absolutely delicious." When I realized that "glazed" means "sugar-coated," my heart sank. I briefly engaged an inner debate as to whether a little bit of sugar on the outside of the almonds would negate the loads of healthfulness on the inside. Then, I gathered up all my will power and moved on...without the almonds.

The next obstacle was the baked goods section, where cake and brownie mixes called to me, along with jars of frosting and bags of chocolate chips. I looked the other way. The special selection of mint chocolate brownies and specialty hot chocolate mixes also beckoned, but I resisted. While I was at it, I also resisted buying a small wheel of gouda cheese, simply because I wanted extra practice at saying, "No."

The fruit aisle was a treat because I could finally let my guard down and say "yes." Bananas? Yes! Tangelos? Yes! Apples? Yes, even two varieties! Grapes? Double yes!

In a bizarre way (VERY bizarre way), my trip to the store last night was like a going away party, a chance to bid farewell to the foods I plan to avoid. It provided me the opportunity to see the scope of my decision, and in seeing it I did not flinch. Even the chocolate bars at the checkout invited me for one last hurrah. But I ignored them. I ate a tangelo when I got home, and it was delicious.

So, goodbye sugar. Hello, new sugar-free life.

Tangelos, I think we will quickly become very, very good friends.

February 22, 2009

A Thought for the Afternoon

One doesn't cultivate an insightful and articulate mind by simply articulating every insight that comes to mind. 

February 18, 2009

A New First for the Fearless Fowler

This year, for the first time ever, I will give up something I cherish for Lent.

Before I get to the "Why?," let's deal with the "What?" When I first contemplated making a Lenten sacrifice, I started a mental inventory of things I really enjoy and probably should enjoy a little less. One item on my mental list caught my attention when I realized how often I enjoy it and the horror I felt at the thought of fasting from it. The last part was the kicker, and it sealed the deal for me. 

I am giving up sweets for Lent. 

And as a Lent novice, I am going at this full force. My list of things to avoid includes baked goods, candy, sugary drinks, artificial sweeteners, and desserts of any kind. Basically, unless it's fruit, I am going to steer clear.  Yes, that includes chocolate. And for those of you not up on your Lenten rituals, the period for fasting is 40 days starting February 25. 

Like nearly everyone else I have told about this decision, you might be asking your computer, "Why, Megan? You're not Catholic, so why put yourself through the pain?" The answer has two parts. 

First, while I am not Catholic and don't think I will earn bonus points with God because of this, I do see the value in a 40-day fast, especially in anticipation of Easter. It forces one to focus on what really matters as opposed to the distractions that clamor for attention nearly every second of our lives.

Second, like I mentioned before, I chose to give up sweets because I really, really, really, really like them. Worse, I often trick myself into thinking that I NEED a sugary confection (or two or three) hold me over until the next meal. On top of that are the times I grab a handful of candy or slice of cake because I am frustrated, sad, or angry. As things currently stand, I think sweets play too much of a role in my life, and I want to go without for a season to re-prioritize. That also explains why I am giving up things with artificial sweetener. It's not the calories I care about; it's the idea of sweets as a crutch that I need to address.

Will this endeavor kill me? No. Will it turn me into a fire-breathing monster? Perhaps (the men of my office reserve the right to force some sugar into me if I get too unpleasant). Will it be good for me? Aye.   

I will keep you posted on how it goes. As for the Lenten tradition of partaking in the sacrificed substance on Sundays, I haven't decided if I will do this yet. I will see how my weekdays go. But I am ready to start this thing and see what happens!

February 8, 2009

Steeler Cookies and Why Lindon is Smiling So Much

So here are some photos of the black and gold smiley-face cookies I made in anticipation of the Steelers' Super Bowl win. They were not as tasty at Eat N Park cookies, due in large part to the chocolate icing I had to use. In the future I will make the background gold with a chocolate smile.  

I put on the chocolate frosting, and Lindon put on the smiles. He got a little creative with some of the cookies. 

And speaking of smiles, Lindon has been doing a lot of that lately, and it is largely due to this:

In case you can't figure out what that is, it's a Jeep - parts of one, anyway. In the last few weeks Lindon has had time to work on his 1979 Jeep CJ-7. It sat in our neighbor's garage for almost a year while Lindon was busy with school and other projects. But now Lindon has begun to tinker with it, and that brings a huge smile to his face. Yesterday he and a few friends took off the body, which you can see in the background. Don't worry - we didn't leave the Jeep body sitting next to the road, nor did we leave the motor and frame sitting in the driveway. Both are hidden away. One day the motor will be placed on a new frame, and the nice fiberglass body will grace the frame. One day. For now it's Lindon's pet project and the reason he smiles so much. 

February 2, 2009

Steeler Nation!

I am a native Floridian, but I went to high school and college in rural Pennsylvania. As you might expect, I wasn't particularly thrilled about moving from Miami, Florida to Butler, Pennsylvania. While it was fun to have four seasons, it was hard to move from a beautiful, sunny city to a cold, grey town. I missed Miami often.

Since there was really no chance of me moving back to Miami while I was in high school, I tried to protest living in the north by trying hard not to fit in. I made friends and enjoyed them immensely, but I tried as hard as possible to reject every aspect of Northern culture in general and Butler culture in particular.

One aspect of Butler culture I particularly rejected was cheering for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I thought that liking the Steelers was tantamount to liking Butler. So I tried to fiercely ignore them for years.

And then I moved to Alabama, and Big Ben came to Pittsburgh. Suddenly the Steelers became a connection to our friends and family miles away, and there was something worth the cheering. That's how I became a Steeler fan.

Now I live in Missouri, and every year it seems like I become a bigger and bigger fan. Lindon actually had to ban me from watching a few games this season because I was getting too emotional. However I was all there on Sunday when the Steelers won their SIXTH Super Bowl! While there were certainly a few moments when I thought they might lose it, the Steel Curtain came through. It was a great moment for Steeler fans everywhere.

Now I can say that I am proud to be part of the Steeler Nation. It's amazing to me that die-hard Steeler fans live all over the country. There are people with no real ties to Pittsburgh who have grown up loving the Steelers, and now they have passed it on to their children.

Way to go, Steelers! Here's one girl who's proud to call you her favorite team...next to the Miami Dolphins.

Vacation pics!

I am finally posting photos from vacation!

We began our adventure in Nashville where Lindon's brother gave us an inservice on how to use our new camera. We also got to see our growing-like-a-weed nephew Coyle.

On Saturday we arrived in Montgomery and had dinner with our former small group. These friends were definitely like family to us, and being back with them made us feel like we'd never left. We used to joke that we were all empty nesters - all their chicks had flown the coop, and we hadn't started filling our nest yet.

On Monday we made our unplanned visit to Hal, Jessica, and baby John Harris. It was such a joy to see them again and celebrate this new chapter in their lives, especially when we were with great friends like Jere Scott and Dorothy Bradshaw. And John Harris is cute as a button.

I spent a good part of Tuesday photographing things in Marcie's house because she is an amazing decorator, and it gave me a chance to fiddle with all the settings on my camera. Here is one of my favorite photos from the dozens I took that morning.

Tuesday afternoon we arrived at the beach, and it was chilly! I don't know if I have ever been near the ocean when it was in the 40's, but it's cold. Thankfully it warmed up on Thursday and Friday so we could spend some time near the water. But notice there were no swimsuits anywhere.

I know this photo is kind of cheesy, but it was so much fun to be near the water again.