Friday, September 26, 2008

Our amazing bodies

Tuesday marked 4 months since I had my surgery. I had an appointment with the PS on Monday and he basically cleared me. Since the surgery I have had regular follow-up visits with him. At first they were every week. Then it was every few weeks or so. Now I don't have to go back for 4 months! That's amazing.

I continue to be astounded by what our bodies are capable of. In the last few years I've experienced some major traumas and invasive procedures, yet my body continually renews and rebuilds itself. When I crashed the motorcycle and broke my arm (3 years ago already!), I thought the doctors and physical therapists who told me that in a few short months I would again lift, carry and write normally were crazy. But they were right! I crashed in October, got the pins out in November, finished physical therapy in December and by the beginning of February, I was about 90% recovered. Wow.

Before my breast reduction, I read the most people had returned to full regular activities within 6 months. They were running, swimming, carrying, etc. I thought that was crazy. But, here I am, 4 months post-op and have been riding my motorcycle since 6 weeks after the surgery, doing step-aerobics classes again and even been running. The scars continue to fade and my new chest has started to feel so normal to me that I forget what it was like before. I have to actually look at pictures pre- and post-op pictures to get a real feel for the difference. Perhaps this is why women who endure hours of painful childbirth go on to have even more children!

The major downside I've found to this amazing body is that it stubbornly resists my attempts to make it drop weight. Perhaps this is part of the traits that have been passed down from generation after generation of people who had to survive in hostile climates before me. Unfortunately (or fortunately actually), I don't have that problem. Food and, consequently, calories, are in abundance all around me. I don't have to wait on the winter living off of my stored fats. Perhaps I was just born in the wrong millenium. Cavemen would have been drooling over pin-ups of my genetic material!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

#91. Pick apples and make a cobbler (and recipe 5 of 6)

I've always loved fresh baked goods. My mom was always great at making them (sometimes to the detrement of our waistlines). So, what's a better way to welcome autumn than to get out and enjoy all that nature has to offer by picking some ripe, juicy apples? That's just what Troy and I decided to do on Saturday morning.

We hitched up the steeds (our motorcycles), checked the maps (actually my GPS), and heading for greener pastures (orchards) just southwest of Indianapolis in Mooresville, IN. The weather was simply perfect and we made sure to pack some bags to haul the fruit of our labors home. After all, not everyone sets out to pick apples on motorcycles. Actually, the orchard was quite busy and we were the ONLY ones to arrive on motorcycles. You should have seen the looks we received! :-)

After consulting with one of the men working there on what varieties of apples would make the best cobbler, we headed toward the Jonathons and Cortlands. I've never actually heard of Cortlands, but they are a VERY good apple which tended to be larger than the Jonathons.

We scanned the rows which were nicely labeled for ease, found what we were looking for and headed towards the trees further from the road as we assumed they would be less picked over. We were right and before we knew it had picked a peck (actually a 1/2 a bushel). It came in quite handy to have Troy around as he's much taller than me and some of the best apples were higher up on the trees.

When we had finished picking the apples and had packed them on the bikes, we decided to check out the little store that they had there. There were lots of already-picked apples for those less adventurous souls who weren't in the mood to check out the trees for themselves as well as pumpkins and baked goods. We decided that our hard work (not really) had earned us a bit of a treat. Troy opted for a water while I tried their apple cider slushy. We split a very cake-like elephant ear. YUM!

Armed with my apple booty, I set to make the apple cobbler. It was amazingly easy. Having never made one, I wasn't sure how difficult it would be, but I had no problems. The most time-consuming part was actually peeling and coring the apples. Luckily I have a great peeler and apple corer/cutter. With the right tools, it's a breeze. In less than an hour, I had a lovely apple cobbler. Since Troy doesn't like fruit (apples apparently taste like grass. Who knew?) and I don't need to eat a whole cobbler, I took it into work and shared. It got rave reviews and even enticed someone who never eats the "kitchen treats" to try a bit. She said it was amazing.

The only problem I have now is that I still have quite a few apples left. So far, I've made 2 cobblers (took the other one down to Troy's family), an apple crisp (to be enjoyed at my church meeting tonight) and given away 8 apples. I still have about 30 apples left, I think. Anyone have any good recipes or ideas?

If you'd like to try to make one of your own, here's the recipe. It's from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook or you can find it online here ( I would double the topping next time. Enjoy!

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
6 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened pitted tart red cherries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
Vanilla ice cream (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. For topping, in a medium bowl stir together flour, the 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, salt, and, if desired, cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.

2. For filling, in a large saucepan combine the cherries, the 1 cup sugar, and the cornstarch. Cook over medium heat until cherries juice out, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Keep filling hot.

3. In a small bowl stir together egg and milk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just to moisten. Transfer hot filling to a 2-quart square baking dish. Using a spoon, immediately drop topping into six mounds on top of filling.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is golden brown. If desired, serve warm with ice cream.

5. Makes 6 servings

6. Apple or Pear Cobbler: Prepare as above, except, for filling, cook and stir 6 cups sliced, cored, and peeled cooking apples or pears, 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice until boiling, stirring occasionally once fruit begins to juice out; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes or until fruit is almost tender, stirring occasionally. Combine 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch; add to filling. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

#24. Drink no soda for 6 months

I successfully made it 6 months without drinking soda. It actually wasn't bad. I don't drink a lot anyway (maybe 1 at lunch 2 times a week and then 1 on the weekend with a meal), so it wasn't a struggle. What was difficult was ordering at restaurants (basically fast food). There aren't a whole lot of drink choices if you don't want something chocked full of sugar. I tried to stick to iced tea if they had it.

The worst part about the challenge was at my birthday party. There was a ton of soda to drink and I couldn't have any of it. That's what they made wine for though, right?

Music is medicine for my soul

On Saturday evening I had the pleasure of attending a concert at the Vogue with two of my favorite men who are in my life - Troy and Patrick. Obviously my readers know who Troy is. Patrick is a great friend that lives down the street from me. We used to hang out all the time and have deep philosophical discussions while drinking beers. He's introduced me to a lot of great music and has really influenced my musical tastes.

The headliner for the concert was Dar Williams, whose music I was introduced to by Patrick. (Of course when I told him that and reminded him that he had one of her CDs, he said, "I do?" Later in the concert she played "Mercy of the Fallen" ( and he said, "I need to get that song." I said, "You have it." Once again, "I do?"). I've always enjoyed her music, but somehow by seeing her live in concert (and sitting mere feet from her), I have even more of an appreciation for her as a songwriter, artist and woman. She's funny, seemingly natural on stage and can spin a great yarn.

As I sat there between my two favorite guys, I just marveled at how lucky I was. They are amazing friends and have both helped me to grow in ways I never imagined. It also occurred to me that for me, music is medicine. I try to keep my MP3 player (filled with music played by chicks with guitars, mostly) with me all the time. I can't imagine a motorcycle ride without those girls along. No matter what my mood or state of mind, I can find something to suit it and the music washes over me and helps to sooth my aching soul. There is a hole in my being that can only be adequately filled by thoughtful lyrics and a lilting melody.

So, thank you, Troy and Patrick, for joining me for an evening of healing. And thank you, Dar, for providing the cure.

Friday, September 19, 2008 many things to blog. So little time.

I've recently been MIA from my blogging duties, but I haven't let the time pass me by without marking some things off of my list. In order to whet your appetite, here's a list of items that I will hopefully be blogging about and posting pictures of in the next few days: (In no particular order)

2008 Indiana State Fair

The Aerostich Very Boring Rally II

Spa day with my mom

My birthday and casino night birthday party

Completion of 6 months without soda

The Inaugural running of the Indianapolis MotoGP

In addition, this weekend Troy and I are gonna take a motorcycle ride to an orchard where we will pick apples and then I will go home and make an apple cobbler. Yet another item to cross off!

So, stay tuned and I hope to not disappoint.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good News / Bad News

Good News: I went in and asked my boss for a raise. And I got it! After doing a bit of research, I realized that compared to other actuaries of my skill/experience, I was underpaid. That, combined with my mortgage going up $160 a month due to taxes, was motivation enough to go in and ask for what I deserve. After my boss did a bit of research around the company, he agreed. So, yeah for more money!

Bad News: That, of course, increases the amount that I need in order to fulfill the 9 months worth of savings item on my list.

That's ok. I can save a bit more now that the paycheck is a bit fatter. :-)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Someone asked me that question this morning and I couldn't come up with a response. I couldn't think of ANYTHING...Seriously! That seems bad, right?

Maybe I just need some good ideas. You when adults ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. Those adults are just looking for ideas, I'm sure.

So, where do you see YOURSELF in 10 years?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sorry for the absence.....for now, a quicky ;-)

Sorry that I've been MIA for a while. I've much to post about and seemingly no time to do it.

For now, I share a quote I found on a motorcycle sight:

"Every time I start a ride, I feel glad to be alive.Every time I end a ride, I feel glad to be alive."

Oh how true.



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