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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Last Five Pounds..





I just read an article about losing that pesky last 5 pounds.  They included all kinds of great tips on how to finally cross the finish line.  I did what I always do when faced with these articles, got depressed.  And then it hit me!  I have been doing this all wrong, I have been trying to lose the first 5 pounds.  How crazy!!

I am convinced I must change my strategy to "start" with the last 5 pounds.

Because I am a professional dieter...I know we are supposed to lose weight in increments.  We shouldn't think about the whole number, but set manageable goals.

So isn't this a brilliant goal?  Starting with the last 5 pounds, which seems to be such a burden and the hardest.

I know, right?

I am totally on to something, and I can form a kind of a solidarity with all my successful dieter friends.  I no longer have to simply chat about diets with my heavier friends.  I can commiserate with my thin friends about the burden of trying to lose the last 5 pounds.  The influence of being a part of the successful loser groups as opposed to the struggling loser groups is mentally
fulfilling.  I usually start a diet thinking I won't win.  This way I begin as a winner...I am only 5 pounds away from my goal!!  I love it!!

 



Evidently you can lose weight in pounds or kg's
how much is a kg?


It's 2 weeks until my birthday and as a gift to me I am going to lose those last 5 pesky, pounds.



Yeah Me!!!



 Then I will lose the last 10 pounds.....





 Then the last 15 pounds!!

I can't find one for the last 20, or 30, or 40.....I will just wing it from there.



Monday, August 18, 2014

Snickerdoodles could be the new currency!!

It is as simple as this, Snickerdoodles are medicinal, and they could be the new currency.

No need to argue, it's true.  I have science on my side....incredible soft, moist, Cinnamon encrusted Snickerdoodles are good for the soul.

I am very concerned about the lack of peace in the world today so I am going to do something I never do, share my sure fire, always successful recipe for Snickerdoodles.  I may get the Nobel Prize for Peace because of these cookies.  I will put a box or 2 in John Kerry's briefcase for future negotiations.

Need a cookie for a bake sale?  Angry neighbor?  Depressed child?  Last minute dessert that will bring friends to their knees?  Only one word...

Snickerdoodles





Go ahead say the name without smiling, impossible.  And if you can say the name without smiling I rescind permission for you making this cookie.  This cookie is a powerful weapon, a clever tool....I can only say it in hushed tones..... the vaunted Snickerdoodle.

My son would give up every secret he has for a snickerdoodle....I am not particularly interested in his secrets, but maybe you are trying to crack the code of someone near and dear, and you do need secrets revealed.  One word.....

Snickerdoodles

This recipe can be doubled, tripled or quadrupled...Just follow Aunt Donna's instructions and you will have a great cookie.  The ingredients to other Snickerdoodles may be similar, but technique is the key...so gather round, listen up and enjoy!

Aunt Donna's Snickerdoodles
2 3/4 Cups of Flour
2 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 Cup of Butter  (room temperature)
1 1/2 Cups of Sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)

2 Tablespoons of Sugar
2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon

I use the kitchen aid to cream the sugar, butter and eggs
then add cream of tartar and baking soda
and slowly add the flour
I use a cookie scoop for uniformity.  Take the dough from your scoop, roll it into a ball with your hands and then roll it in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  They will spread so only put 12 on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 8 minutes...if they aren't done enough for you cook one more minute, however, they must come out of the oven looking a bit under cooked.  If you cook them too long they will be hard and you will not be happy.  Snickerdoodles are best when they are soft.  Trust me.


The smell of Snickerdoodles cooking is incredible.....I promise.

Go forward grasshopper.....you have one of the great treasures of the world...a fabulous Snickerdoodle recipe just in time for fall!

Friday, August 15, 2014

"You is kind, You is Smart, You is important"

Things I am good at this week........piling up papers, procrastinating, walking past unfinished projects, sitting on the couch watching TV, basically accomplishing nothing.

Things I am not good at this week.....having patience while my husband finds the right rim for my daughters jeep, creating a solution to an enormous Planning Commission problem that was complicated by a personal problem with a colleague, waiting for the dishwasher to be repaired, getting bids out, doing my knee exercises and the website for my business went down.

I have created chaos for myself.

I hate it, it is frustrating and when I get frustrated chaos wins.

But the story has a happy ending.  As I was lying in bed this morning thinking of all the things I hadn't done well this week (who needs Hallmark when you have my brain like mine?)  I started to pray.....I started to pray to be better, to do better....when I heard this..

"You is kind, You is smart, You is important"

Thank you Aibileen, thank you Kathryn Stockett for marking my soul with that line, and thank you God for putting it in my head this morning.

We all have stretches of chaos. I had a lot to do that wasn't fun or particularly easy, it is easy to get sucked in by it all.  

And then Robin Williams died.

I spent time this week watching him on old Mork and Mindy shows and bits from Johnny Carson.  I remember how he made me laugh when I needed to laugh, and how incredible I thought his mind was......how I never knew which way we were going because I knew he didn't either!  And it was fun.....just plain ole fun.  I listened to people who had loved working with him, and to people who decided they knew why he died.  None of that mattered, because their experience wasn't mine.  I never met him, I never even saw him perform in person....but for me he was Mork, and he was Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting, he was the Genie in Aladdin, he was Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vietnam.....and he was a true favorite.

As I processed this loss I realized I get to grieve and I didn't have to be related to him Or even personally know him to feel a real loss.

He made us all laugh and we will miss that a lot.

So the swirling chaos I found myself in was partly finding solutions for a problem, dealing with people, doing things I don't like to do and being sad.

I am so grateful those words came to me this morning.....

"You is kind, You is smart, You is important"

I hope you all remember that too,  it can be said about all of us.





Sunday, August 3, 2014

Lonesome dove at the OK4U Corral and pictures from Monument Valley



Donna is still out of the blog-house today.
Emboldened by not having been caught at what he’s doing, Mark (the photographer friend) guest-writes once again from Las Vegas.

"So many things in life can be understood when compared with what you see in nature. This morning for example, I was headed up the lane from the bunkhouse barnyard. As I approached the gate, I saw a female Mojave mourning dove balanced on the top of the fence, rocking back and forth from her left foot to her right, and looking flustered, but she didn’t fly away as I would have expected. And on the ground a few feet further was her mate, limping along with his two wings half-folded at mismatched angles like he had just hit a windshield with his noggin. He turned from me and made a pathetic effort of hobbling away like Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein. ‘Walk this way . . .’

Being the outdoorsy guy I am, I had already recognized the fake wounded bird tactic employed to draw predators away from their young. So I quickly looked along a line from his tail back towards the place he had just left. In a minute, I saw junior, trying to look invisible in the rocks. He was old enough to fly off from the nest, but not yet ready to make it on his own.

Kind of like a teenager, right? Long on impulse and short on judgment, and trying to act chill like the grownups. And there was mom, fretting and worrying and all upset, hovering around her baby who was trying to leave the nest and head off for college while mom was not ready to cope with the syndrome. And dad of course, gamely trying to take on the big bad human – not quite sure how – but faking it the best way he could. Hey. When you’re a dove, you just come to the game with whatever ya got.

I checked back at the end of the day. Junior was now chillin’ in the tree (“Coo-oool . . . see? I can do this!”). Mom and dad were gone; probably went out for supper. The nest was empty.

Here are some images from a spring trip to Monument Valley in the Navajo nation. I was there with a couple close friends for a few days of camping and photography. If there ever was an iconic symbol of the American west, this has to be the most recognizable. Uncounted movies of the John Wayne and Henry Fonda era of Western filmmaking have included images of this place, seen by countless millions of people around the world.
This sunrise event was one of those surreal experiences that couldn't have been planned. I was camped just off the valley road that is used by every tourist and every resident Navajo who goes into the back country. I mean just about 10 feet off the roadway where the asphalt ends. I woke up in the morning before the sun rose and from my bedroll I saw color in the sky. Not having to dress (I slept in yesterday's clothes), I simply rolled over, grabbed my trusty camera and tripod, rose and walked less than fifty paces to the edge of an overlook. I put the rig together and focused, checked a test shot to set a light level, and in that moment, the sun broke the horizon. For the next 5 minutes, I steadily made a dozen more exposures and then stood with a friend while we witnessed this glorious event, feeling reverence for the God who created it.
Above - I'm always impressed when I stand in the footsteps of the unknown persons who create gorgeous images like this, hundreds - maybe a thousand - years before me. Is he there in spirit checking to see if his design endures while I make the image with my 21st century magic lantern?
 A free spirit if there ever was one; a Navajo pony pauses on a hill.
Above - Sunset on the mittens at Monument valley. Below - an image that captures the isolation and delicate balance of nature. Like so many things in life, erosion is proceeding ever so subtly right before our eyes. And one day - without warning - an unexpected disastrous event will lay this spire on its side in a few brief seconds. The dust will settle, disturbed plants will recover and eventually a rain storm will soften the harsh rock edges until at last the sandstone blocks once again become a soft dune in the desert.


Your guest writer, Mark Andrews, is an Emmy-award winning landscape photographer based in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the middle of the Mojave desert. His recent works can be found here. Rebuttals, corrections and hastily formed opinions may be directed to: Mailroom at the OK4U Corral

Scoundrel of the western desert.



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stay out of the Dark(room) and move into the Light(room).

Donna is out of the blog-house today.
Mark (the photographer friend) guest-writes from Las Vegas

This is not a hostile takeover. I was invited. Donna is on vacation and she asked me to blogsit. I had thoughts of re-decorating the place as a prank, but her sons are both quite sturdy and protective of family. Besides – Stevie Nicks presides over ‘Life in the Bleachers.’ I can’t find fault.

If you’ve seen some of Ray Ray’s catering advertising, you may have seen my images. Boy, did I luck out to get to shoot some of Ray and Donna’s famous dishes. After I created the images, I got to try the food. Awesome. Plus, I was able to hang out at the Tagliaferri’s place and listen to wacky stories interlaced with inspirational chat. The food is awesome – the friendship endures.

So, do you ever look at the dashboard controls in the car and wonder why the air conditioner controls are named for men? You know, Max. And Norm.  I wanted to talk to Max once, but he didn’t answer when I pushed his button. Ok – there are other things like that, too. Take for example the slider controls on my photography software. 

I use a computer program called ‘Lightroom’ when I’m ready to produce an image that I created in my camera. Lightroom has some interesting labels for the effects that can be applied. I’ve thought about them this week after agreeing to step into blog duty.

In the big picture of life, we all need to get control of things from time to time. Wouldn’t it be great if you could view and adjust your life in Lightroom? For example, here are a few interesting sliders that I use often . . .
  • Clarity
  • Vibrance
  • Highlights
  • Sharpening
  • Luminance
  • Noise Reduction.
Heck, yes – I want some of all of those things! Who wouldn’t? I know I don’t have to spell it all out for you. You get it already. You need all that good stuff as antidotes for the other stuff of life. Here is some of ‘that other stuff’ . . .
  • Shadows
  • Roughness
  • Saturation
  • Crop (No one likes a load of that)
  • Masking
  • Detail.

When you get too much of those negative things, then you need to use these . . .
  • Balance
  • Spot Removal
  • and maybe a little Red Eye Correction.

And finally, like in life, if things are just totally messed up, you can always . . .
  • Update and
  • Reset.

Just like that. Easy-peasy. Sure, there’s a price but the effort is always worth it in the end.

Gotta show you an image. I visited my sister (also named Donna – coincidentally) and her husband recently. They have this great backyard with plants everywhere and a waterfall tumbling down the side hill into a pond filled with Koi, which I think look like little trout that were painted by a classroom full of kindergarteners.

Since I’m always up early and a type A sort of person, I was outdoors at sunrise with camera in hand, wandering the grounds. I love the peace of solitude in nature. The scene was like this. The pond water was black and looked bottomless. The water was generally still with ripples in a few places as the fish came close to the surface between the lotus pads. Moody and dark, quiet and mysterious. Cool and muted.

The image of the blossom came about as a slow and steady revelation. I hung around the edge and watched as the light from sunrise began to warm up the colors on the tops of the reeds. It was that sort of soft light that illuminates in an indefinite way. When that begins to happen, the colors change, and a person’s outlook is altered at the same time. We can see more clearly.


I’m the kind of guy who looks for the hand of God in nature. I accept natural forces, and the concept of millennia of planet-building and earth erosion, of course, yet tempered by a Creator who set it all in motion. And I regard light as emblematic of spiritual understanding.

This morning by the Koi pond, light came through a gap between the arms of two trees at the crest of the hill and fell on the flower bud. As the sun rose, the bud warmed up and began to open. In less than a half hour, the delicate beauty of the bloom was complete. It floats there above all that is dark and unsure, supported by the open palms of the pads and steadied by the vertical reeds. It became a symbol of peace. That’s when I made the exposure. I hope you like it.

And that idea about light and spiritual understanding? Here’s how I look at it; when times are tough, I find that things always look better in the light of day.
Thanks for listening.

Your guest writer, Mark Andrews, is an Emmy-award winning landscape photographer based in Las Vegas, Nevada in the middle of the Mojave desert. His recent works can be found here. Rebuttals, corrections and hastily formed opinions may be directed here: Mailroom at the OK4U Corral

Scoundrel of the western desert.