The Wait is Over

I’ve reached an important milestone today! My mostly vegan* plant-strong diet, coupled with my 4-6 mile exercise walks a few times a week, and my calorie counting on FitDay.com has led to a new low interim goal weight for me.

I’m now a “mere” 8 pounds from my goal weight, and 10 pounds from my stretch goal weight.

It’s been a good challenge, these last three months, watching my calories** – even through the holidays – and now the results are showing. It’s exciting stuff!

Stepping on the scale this morning brought a renewed motivation to get to goal!

What’s cool is FitDay allows me to track my current weight and progress towards the goal online, along with tracking daily calorie consumption and calories burned from exercise. I also created custom nutrition goals*** for myself too. It’s not the only site that offers these tools for free, I just happen to like it.

If you’re also in the process of your journey to lose weight and feel great – please share it here. 🙂

And… more updates as the good news continues!

 

  • * I still eat egg whites.
  • ** My daily calorie intake has been 1500 or less.
  • *** Adult women need to consume 46 grams of protein a day to not be in protein deficit. It’s an important custom nutrition goal I take seriously as a vegan.
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A Review of Etgar Keret’s The Nimrod Flipout

I’m always on the hunt for great short story collections, and in the last few months I’ve purchased several. As I finish them, I’ll review them here in case you are also looking for examples of finely crafted stories.

Etgar Keret is an Israeli writer who has had several short story collections published, and translated from the original Hebrew into many languages. Thank goodness for that.

I procured 3 of Keret’s compliations including The Nimrod Flipout, The Girl on the Fridge, and Suddenly A Knock on the Door.

I relate strongly to Keret’s work. His stories are written succintly, and with great humor and a sense of the surreal in the everyday.

The first story in The Nimrod Flipout is called Fatso, about a man who meets the most beautiful woman and dates her. Eventually he finds out she has a secret … that when she falls asleep, she becomes a large, fat hairy guy at night. Fatso likes to watch soccer on TV and go out drinking. In Keret’s world, there are no boundaries for “what can happen” and in this story, the boyfriend continues to love the beautiful woman during the day, and befriends Fatso at night, coming to enjoy his company and root for his favorite soccer team.

In another story, Bottle, a man comes into a bar and meets a college student and a musician there, and the man puts the musician inside a bottle, as a trick. This story is only three paragraphs long, and was originally published online at KGB Bar and Lit Journal, so if you want to read Bottle and 2 other Keret stories, you can click here:

http://kgbbar.com/lit/fiction/three_stories_bottle_pipe_asthma_attack

And while most of Keret’s work is funny, some of it digs at the difficulties Israeli’s face in their culture. In the title story, The Nimrod Flipout, several friends are “flipping out” and dealing with bouts of mental illness as they remember their friend who committed suicide. You get the idea that these men are dealing with the aftermath of having served in the Israeli military together. Each of guys deals with the situation in his own way, but they all go a little crazy, one at a time.

I would strongly recommend The Nimrod Flipout and Keret’s work. Although I haven’t read the other two collections yet, I will. Nimrod was written in 2006, but the stories are self-contained and I think they will stay fresh and unique in their perspective because of it.

Big Joe Turner, Slim and Slam, and Jump Boogie

While I was in the car recently, I flipped through my dials … and all of a sudden the wonderful sound of a bluesy jazzy piano filled my car. A man was singing:

I’ve got a pocket full of pencils, can’t even write a doggone line;

I’ve got a pocket full of pencils, can’t even write a doggone line;

I’ve got a mouthful of gold; and I don’t have a lousy dime.

The man singing was Big Joe Turner, and the song was A Pocket Full of Pencils, a track on Texas Style.  I highly recommend the album.

Joe Turner - Texas Style

Joe Turner – Texas Style

What I loved about the Joe Turner song, and Turner’s style, is that it’s both Blues AND Jazz. I’m not an expert on this era, but I know enough about it to know it was an interim period when Blues and Jazz intermingled more freely.

Check this out… Big Joe Turner singing Shake, Rattle and Roll, from 1954.

What’s especially interesting to me, as a huge BB King fan, is that now… years later, listening to Joe Turner for the first time, I can clearly see BB King’s lineage as a musician. It comes directly from Turner, who had hits Ain’t Nobody’s Business, which BB King made a central staple in his own repetoire throughout his career.

You should also notice the name of the base player in the center of the Texas Style album cover: Slam Stewart.

Slam was, at one time, part of a duo called Slim and Slam. Slim Galliard, another musician I’ve been turned onto through a drummer friend of mine recently, is an AMAZING talent. Slim is a very funny guy, and in all of his live recordings, the audience laughs as much as they clap with joy.

Galliard songs like Flat Footed Floozy with the Floy Floy are classics in the “Jump Boogie Style.”

Just like Turner. Which is why Slam, Slim’s partner, would be playing his base on the Turner album.

Which is a strange way of me saying… hmm, when I listen to music I start seeing these connections between the musicians. I don’t consider myself knowledgeable about the Jump Boogie era, but I know what I love and I love Swing Jazz, and I love the Blues, so it makes sense that I would also love Jump Boogie.

But PLEASE don’t take my word for it.

Watch this clip, from Hellzapoppin which features Slim Galliard on piano/guitar and Slam Stewart on base, and an amazing set of musicians and dancers. What a gem!

Jazz musicians today don’t achieve the same level of “entertainer” status as they did in the 1940’s.

For instance, watch Slim Galliard play Cement Mixer on piano with his hands UPSIDE DOWN. He’s got amazing piano player hands.

This music is exciting for me to “discover” as I expand my jazz education. Jazz is leading me back into the Blues roots I love, and now finding extraordinary Jump Boogie musical talents like Big Joe Turner, Slim Galliard, and Slam Stewart make it fun to connect all the dots.

Big Joe Turner - Greatest Hits

Big Joe Turner – Greatest Hits

A new year with the same resolutions

Happy 2014 everyone. I hope you had a good holiday season. I did!

I held my first ever vegan Christmas Eve dinner party for friends. I wanted to surprise them with a variety of tasty foods that were vegan, but flavorful and filling. They seemed to enjoy the meal, and that was satisfying.

My favorite dish from Christmas Eve was Quinoa stuffed Mushrooms – a recipe I found online. I modified the recipe by cooking the quinoa in vegetable broth and mixing nutritional yeast into the quinoa stuffing for even more flavor. They were a hit!

The biggest compliment I got was when one of my guests said she felt full, but pleasantly so… not in a heavy lead-in-the-belly way you can feel after some holiday meals.

And while it’s not always easy for me to say no to many foods I know I’d enjoy eating, I’ve been able to maintain my mostly vegan eating regimen throughout the holiday season.

My ‘resolution’ for 2014 is the same as it was in 2013. Continue to stick with eating vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds … and yes, egg whites for protein.

I continue to track what I eat on FitDay.com, to figure out my calorie intake. And yes, I continue to lose weight, although very slowly … especially since it’s been so cold outside which prevents me from doing my 4-6 mile walks (for now.)

My news is not terribly exciting, because I established these habits a few months ago and now I’m maintaining the habits I’ve cultivated. I’m keeping with it, day by day.

One thing that’s interesting though, when I tell people what I’m doing, they usually say “I could never give up (fill in a food.)” Oh, they say, I could never give up cheese! I could never give up coffee! I could never give up hamburgers! And I reply, you don’t have to do what I’m doing… but if you really wanted to give those things up, you could. It’s a matter of deciding what to put in your body. Then they admit, yes, I guess I could, but I don’t want to.

And you know what…? I get it. It’s not easy and you have to be motivated to want to do it in order to stick with it.

I’m still motivated!

I’m cooking for myself much more these days, and it’s helping me stick to my routine. If I go on the road, I’m faced with making compromises and so I do my best to stay “close” to my routine as best I can, and move on.

I also shop differently than I used to… I need to shop more frequently because my food is alive. If I don’t eat the vegetables I purchase within a short period of time, they’ll go bad. Lettuce has a short shelf life, and so do bananas. But I like being reminded of my choices, even if I do have to throw something away now and again.

And so as I begin 2014 I’m feeling good and I continue to embrace the challenge of eating vegan and investing in my health. It makes me extremely happy to know I’m influencing my friends to make better choices for their health too, whether they decide to “go veggie” or not.

As for me, there’s no “new news” to report yet for 2014. I’m doing what I’d been doing, and it’s still working. 🙂