MARYELLEN301's SparkPeople Blog MARYELLEN301's Blog on SparkPeople, home of free diet plans and a healthy living community My Copper boy is gone and I'm so sad. Copper would have been 5 years old tomorrow. He was a BIG orange, talkative male Tabby cat, with a big long striped tail, and the love of my life. I adopted him from a no kill shelter on May 25, 2012. He was just hours from being put down when he was taken in by the shelter. He came to me with no name, but a date of birth. How odd is that? Anyway, I tried a total of 27 names for male orange cats and he answered to none of them, so he became "Copper" <BR> <img src="http://photos-ak.sparkpeopl... Thu, 26 Sep 2013 19:22:49 EST Time for an update on the house situation Well, last time I wrote about the house selling/buying situation was at the very beginning of the adventure. So much has happened since then it almost gives you whiplash thinking about it! When last I posted, a couple was going to come see the house before it was ready for prime time. I broke my neck getting it as close to ready as possible before I left for Chicago. (The B-day Bash was really fun. Lots of old friends) Well, they never showed up. I was disappointed but relieved at the same ti... Sat, 21 Sep 2013 21:18:05 EST moving update WOW, things are moving fast! I've rented a storage unit close by. Movers are coming today to take some of the larger items out of the house to make my 1362 sq. ft. appear larger. I've got suitcases filled with clothes and shoes to open up the closets. I"m borrowing room in my neighbors trash cans. My car is already packed with stuff to put into the storage unit. My kitchen counters are at a bare minimum. Toaster oven and Ninja for smoothies and a fruit bow. Nice table fountain for ambiance. V... Wed, 19 Jun 2013 06:31:08 EST New House! I'm very excited! I have made the decision to move to a 55+ community about 20 miles from where I currently live. I absolutely LOVE the floor plan. It's very open and much larger than my current 1368 sq. ft. of space. The big drawback though is that I will suddenly, once again, have a mortgage for about the next 5 years. And that will cut into my travel budget. But lets face it, I've been traveling like a fool these past several years, so even if I cut back I will probably still be taking mor... Sun, 16 Jun 2013 07:45:33 EST Antarctica with pictures, Vol 4 Well it's a good thing I told my Credit Card Company I was going to Antarctica, even though I figured there was no shopping down there, but I wrong! The UK has a research station there called Port Lockroy. It's quite small so they broke the group into 2 and while one half took a tour the other half got to mingle with the penguins. We did penguins first and unless I get a picture from someone on the tour, this is the closest documented record of me with a penguin. It doesn't compare to many ot... Tue, 26 Mar 2013 23:41:17 EST Antarctica with pictures Vol 3 OK, so our first landing was magical, with the beautiful quiet snowfall. The weather for the next 5 days proved to be almost miraculous! We had bright sunshine the rest of the entire trip. Other ships landing in various spot,s were prevented from landing by rough seas and high winds. No matter where we went, we had bright sun, calm seas and almost windless conditions. The Expedition Team was floored! Each night they would go over the projected activities for the next day and preface it with... Thu, 21 Mar 2013 22:30:44 EST Antarctica w/pictures Vol. 2 Continued from yesterday: <BR> <BR> Ok, so we get back to the cabin and see the seat belts. This comes as no surprise as it is one of the reasons I've decided to do this trip NOW as opposed to a few years from now. The Drake Passage is notorious for fickleness. It is where the colder waters of the Atlantic converge with the warmer water temperatures of the Pacific. There is no telling how that convergence will react. You can have either the "Drake Shake" or the "Drake Lake". In reading the r... Tue, 19 Mar 2013 20:21:29 EST Pre trip to Antarctica, with pictures I've been home almost 3 weeks now so I figure it's about time I posted some pictures and blogged about the Antarctica trip. First of all, it was a magical trip. I'd not do it again, like I would Africa, but I'd also not trade the experience for anything. I went with Grand Circle Travel. I've traveled with them before and I like the quality of the trips they offer. The price isn't the lowest but not the most expensive either. I think the people that travel with them and the quality of their pr... Mon, 18 Mar 2013 20:30:14 EST Africa Review, with pictures (It's about time!!) I've been home from Africa now for about a month. Between adopting a new cat, (Copper. He's such a love! Big orange Tabby. Huge head, long legs and tail and quite a talker!) posting photos on line for everybody to see, catching up on regular as well as email and trying to get my yard in shape, I've not taken the time to blog about what a wonderful time I had. <BR> <BR> Webster did not invent enough words to describe that experience. We had 15 days in the bush, living in tent camps. I can't t... Thu, 28 Jun 2012 17:50:02 EST Prelude to Africa and musings of the past months Well, Monday morning my friend Margaret and I begin our trek to Africa! We have been planning this trip for well over a year now and it seems surreal that it will all begin in such a short time. We will be going on an Overseas Adventure Travel trip to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. Including travel time, we will be gone for 25 days, 15 of which will be spent in tent camps in the African bush! Sounds rather primitive, I know, but let me assure there is a new word for this kind of... Sat, 28 Apr 2012 21:35:28 EST Off to Hawaii! Tomorrow morning I leave for 12 days in Hawaii. We arrive in Honolulu about 3pm totally exhausted after leaving home at 5:15am my time, which is 6 hours different than Hawaii. We board our cruise ship about noon on Saturday and cruise the islands for a week. After docking back in Honolulu we then spend 3 nights and 4 days touring Honolulu.The return flight is going to be torture. We depart Honolulu Tuesday night at 8:55pm and fly to Salt Lake City. From SLC we fly to Minneapolis/St. Paul and ... Thu, 15 Mar 2012 20:50:36 EST Just found out I am an Avocado! Hmmm. I read a SP article and there was a link to check your BMI. I did that and then there was another link to find out more about the BMI figure. They ask you to measure your waist and hips and the ratio provides you with information that you are either Pear or Apple shaped. I was always an Apple, however apparently there is a rather new classification that is neither Apple nor Pear, but Avocado! I guess my waist (which was always pretty much nonexistent) has gotten smaller so that my butt ... Wed, 14 Mar 2012 23:05:38 EST I bit the bullet for a Curves membership I had been taking classes at the town rec center for the past 2 months. I've enjoyed them but having to dedicate 2 mornings a week was getting to be a problem. Then for this month, I had an appointment at the Health Dept. to get my Yellow Fever shot in anticipation of my trip to Africa in May, so I missed one of the classes, and would miss a total of 9 more classes because of my trip to Hawaii, so I didn't sign up for the month of March. I had been to a Health Expo the town put on a few weeks... Thu, 8 Mar 2012 20:19:03 EST If a little is good, is a lot better? Here in the Raleigh NC area we had temperatures in the 70's! Our winter has been very mild, but his day was exceptional! My neighbor and I decided last night that we would walk to the Rec Center for our back to back workout classes. According to the SP mileage tracker tool, it is about .56 miles form my house ot the gym. We set out about half an hour before the first class was scheduled to begin. They have hand weights but the classes are on the large size and sometimes you can' t get the wei... Thu, 23 Feb 2012 21:46:30 EST Lenten Resolve Why do I always wait till Ash Wednesday to make my Lenten resolution? Just kind of creeps up on me I suppose. In the past I have given up meat, (not so hard) sodas, (was really hard, but I have weaned myself from them completely now) and computer solitaire (never even think about it anymore) I've also done positive things like going to a weekday Mass once a week (which I now do regularly) Share a meal with friends once a week (did that last year. I made a foreign vegetarian meal Friday evenin... Wed, 22 Feb 2012 22:52:53 EST Oh, so close to a new trophy! After I get points for this blog, I will be three points form a new trophy! If I'd have gotten the points form reading the SP blog articles the last several days, I woul already have my new trophy! I lost at least 18 points. I think I may have figured out the problem. Despite being what looked like signed in, and being awarded points for everything but those blogs, I was probably logged in. How you can get points from the points page and not be signed in is beyond me, but I made a point of lo... Thu, 9 Feb 2012 23:03:16 EST What's with the Spark Blog reads not earning points? Question of the day is, why do I not get my points for reading the 2 SP blog entries on certain days. I've noticed this on several occasions. I'm not sure if it only happens on Sundays or other days, but it happened today and has happened many times and darn it I want my 6 points daily, not just occasionally! Maybe because I am less than 400 points from a new trophy, I just want to meet that goal, I'm getting testy about it? Has anybody else noticed that? <em>28</em> Sun, 5 Feb 2012 18:46:58 EST Signed up for a second session of exercises. First off, I want to let you know I don't do New Year's resolutions. So this move is not a fulfillment of anything like that. I have been stuck at about 3-4 pounds over goal weight since probably last August when I went to Iceland & Greenland. That wonderful Icelandic bread got the best of me for sure and I haven't been able to take it off. I reached goal weight probably last late March or early April. I toyed with the idea of actually going below goal by about 10 pounds. Since that time, I j... Fri, 3 Feb 2012 19:41:08 EST Close encounters with Mother Nature Once a week I take Communion to several shut-ins that live out in the country. I usually take the back roads and it's a lovely drive. Winding roads, a gorgeous lake that I traverse over where usually there are several fishing boats. We even have a few Bald Eagles in the area. Today I was driving along and for the fist time ever I saw a flock (perhaps 6 or 7) Turkey Vultures. These are just ugly birds, no two ways about it. In my 12 years living in NC, I've maybe seen 10 of them. Always singul... Wed, 18 Jan 2012 18:33:06 EST Being sociable=390 calories My Sunday started out as usual. I did 25 minutes of back exercises/stretching then at some breakfast, today consisting of Cheerios, banana and milk. Then I went to Mass. I have several friends who gather at Duncan Donuts for "coffee" each Sunday. They often invite me, but I've never gone, usually I have something to do and it just never seems to work out. Well, today, I was again invited and had nothing pressing so I decided to join them. We got there and I perused the menu. Since I already h... Sun, 20 Nov 2011 16:18:18 EST Rockettes in Durham! I just returned home from a matinee performance of the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular in Durham. What a terrific show it was! Those 18 young ladies are the cream of the crop in their precision dancing. The performance was quite high tech as well. I think my favorite spot was in the first act when they had a double-decker NYC Tour bus up on stage and they "took" the bus around the area with all the Christmas decorations. The movie of the city was actually projected on a 50 foot LED... Fri, 18 Nov 2011 19:46:15 EST JJill clerk, I love you! I met two friends today who traveled with me to Ireland. We met at the Apple Store because Linda needed her laptop tweaked. Mimi had some stuff she needed to take back to J Jill. I am a Coldwater Creek gal myself and had never been inside a JJill store. We walked in and were immediately told that they had 15% off of every full price item in the store. I looked around and quite frankly 15% wasn't a high enough discount for my. Then I noticed the back corner had sale stuff and a sign that said ... Tue, 1 Nov 2011 23:41:42 EST Off again, having fun! Well, I got home from a trip to St. Lucia this past Friday and tomorrow I am off again, this time to Helen GA for their Oktoberfest. I don't like scheduling these trips so close together but it was beyond my control. I set up the trip to GA for my Seniors group at Church in the beginning of the year. The trip to St. Lucia, which was scheduled by a group from American Airlines only worked for last week, so there were no options. <BR> <BR> S. Lucia was a great trip . The group from AA is a se... Tue, 25 Oct 2011 18:58:10 EST And the Queen wants....... As you may know, Ive recently returned from a wonderful trip to Ireland (photos posted soon) with a group I've traveled with before. My first trip with them was to Israel in 2008. This was before I had my knee replacement and I was at perhaps my all time high weight for that trip (see pictures of me on the camel and see for yourself!) My second trip with them was to Italy, and it was at the very beginning of my SP journey, so I was down about 20 pounds from my all time high, but still in desp... Sat, 8 Oct 2011 09:44:11 EST My Merry-go-Round. I had a GREAT trip to Ireland, but am now off to VA. I've promised my friend that I will drive up to stay with her for 3 days while she gets her strength back after her fall and broken wrist. I can't believe they sent her home, but they did with some home health care, but that ended Friday evening and her "go to" friend up there has gone to FL for her daughter's wedding, so she is basically on her own and a bit unsteady and more than a bit scared that she'll fall once again. Maybe this is wha... Sun, 2 Oct 2011 08:50:06 EST Off to Ireland! Tomorrow at this time I should be jetting across the Atlantic on my way to Dublin for a 12 day trip to the Emerald Isle. I've been there once before in 2001 but didn't have the best of times. We were a group form the airlines and one of the group had arranged the whole trip. She had a crush on the Travel Agent she was working with to put it together and she was under the impression that he would be coming along as our guide. Turns out our "guide" was a grumpy old bus driver who was retiring a... Sun, 18 Sep 2011 21:51:19 EST Distressing news Well, it's not like I didn't know it was going to happen one of these days, and I had been dreading it, but the call came today. I have a dear, dear 93 year old friend who lives in Virginia, who is now facing the reality of the fact that she can no longer live on her own, without assistance. Last January she fell and ended up with 23 stitches in her eyebrow, broken glasses and a bruised face that went from her hairline to below her chin. She has staunchly insisted that she is capable of takin... Tue, 30 Aug 2011 23:09:03 EST Iceland & Greenland Well, I just got in from my amazing trip to Iceland and Greenland. I'll write more about it later but wanted to get this posted. Iceland has AMAZING bread!! Wonderful to eat, but I dread getting on the scale tomorrow morning! I ate so many wonderful things! The soups were great, and if you like herring and salmon for breakfast you would be in nirvana! The saving grace (at least I hope it will turn out to be) is that we hiked and walked an incredible amount of time, so I am hoping that will of... Wed, 10 Aug 2011 16:45:36 EST Starting vacation at .5 pounds OVER goal :( I have been at or below goal weight now since about the first of April. I had 2 trips since then and managed to stay below goal. Now I am getting ready to leave for Iceland & Greenland (some people take extreme steps to escape the heat!!) and find I am .5 pounds OVER. I guess it could have been worse...2 days ago it was 1.5 pounds. I know what caused it. I was at a friend's house (also a Sparker) who decided to celebrate another friends birthday before I left. She made Brisket, Potato Pancake... Thu, 21 Jul 2011 20:23:36 EST I bit the bullet! If you've ever read my blog, you know that I HATE to sweat, so cardio and sweaty stuff just doesn't get done. I know had I done it in my weight loss journey that now that I am at goal, I would be much more toned than I am now. It's that sweaty stuff I can't rise above. I'll do resistance bands and Swiss Ball and hand weights but cardio is not on my radar. That changed, just slightly, but it did change, today! <BR> <BR> I belong to several Meetup Groups ( and their sole purpose is... Sat, 9 Jul 2011 12:30:09 EST Why, oh why, don't I do this more often? I just completed Nicole's 7 minute upper body workout with the resistance bands. I have gotten SO out of the habit of exercise. I know I need to do it, but I just resist. Right now I feel so loose and relaxed I question my sanity that I don't do it more often. I threw my back out cleaning up after last week's tornadoes and I knew enough to keep moving but I didn't want to push my luck by getting too energetic. Tonight I just made myself actually look at my fitness page. I wasn't scheduled... Wed, 27 Apr 2011 22:30:37 EST I am Gloriously Uncoordinated!! OK, here's the deal. I HATE to sweat! I HATE Cardio! Consequently, I avoid doing anything that makes me sweat! I have reached goal weight with the minimum of exercise. I am a 28 Day Boot Camp drop out. I regret that I didn't do as much strength training as SP encourages because I'd be so much more toned, but let's not look back at what can't be changed. <BR> <BR> The latest attempt to get me off my dead rear involves my medical plan. They offer one on one phone coaching to lose weigh... Tue, 5 Apr 2011 12:34:24 EST 20,000 points! I just passed 20,000 points and it is just a few days shy of my one year anniversary! I have surpassed my goal of 169 pounds and at 166.5, I am .5 pounds from becoming "normal" by my BMI! I am wearing size 10 jeans (Why doesn't SP let me make that into a HUGE font?!!) and I am feeling very good about myself. Today after Mass a woman I never noticed before told me that she noticed I was losing weight and told me how great I looked! This from a perfect stranger! My only regret is that I di... Sun, 27 Mar 2011 21:44:47 EST Blew it today I was invited to go for lunch today to a restaurant what was closing after 10 years. (They lost their was still going strong) This was their last day. It was quite a popular restaurant to which I'd never gone. They had their menu posted online and before I accepted, as usual, I decided to see if there was anything I could eat without going too far south on the calories. It appeared that they had at least 2 entrees I would enjoy, so I accepted the invitation. Well, I got there ... Sun, 27 Feb 2011 22:07:28 EST Role Model? Who me? Once a month for the past 4 months, I meet 2 other ladies with whom I am on a committee to plan trips for our Seniors group at Church. It works out best for all of us to meet for breakfast to go over the trips and plans. The first 2 months, I ordered cottage cheese and peaches with Whole Wheat toast. Last month they had no fruit, so I got an Egg White Veggie omelet and WW toast. This month we were at a different restaurant and their menu was rather limited. My friends ordered their meals... Tue, 15 Feb 2011 22:14:45 EST GOAL WEIGHT!! GOAL WEIGHT!! WooHoo! Today I met goal weight!! <BR> <BR> <img src=""> <BR> <BR> In anticipation of the event I've had the camera in the bathroom for a few days now, and I got a pedicure! (Pretty vain, huh?!! I wanted to look my best "all over" for the occasion!) I got the scale and camera ready and hopped on. I was still half a pound from goal and was once again disappointed that today wasn't gong to be the day. I hopped off the scale and to... Fri, 4 Feb 2011 09:25:38 EST Retired! Well, last Thursday was my retirement day from American Airlines. 11 years ago I was hired for the Reservations Department and was in the first graduating class of 2000. Before classes began they gave us about 200 airport codes to memorize. After getting those down before classes even started we all thought the hardest part was behind us. Boy were we wrong!! Let me tell you, anyone who deals with reservations for any airline has HUGE amounts of training under their belts. After 11 year... Wed, 2 Feb 2011 23:11:50 EST Retirement day/Goal met? Well, it's just after midnight, so officially it is my retirement day! My goal was to reach ny goal weight by the day I retired. Well, the date moved up and I lowered the total loss goal. I am so very close to meeting the goal of 169 pounds. I will weigh myself first thing tomorrow and see if by some cosmic line up of the stars I will have actually attained my goal on the very day I set out to achieve it. This morning I was 170...just a pound off. We'll see what the scales say tomorrow! Thu, 27 Jan 2011 00:05:54 EST Feelin' SKINNY and lovin' SP! What a magnificent day! Today, I am 2 pounds from my goal weight and 5 pounds from being able to say that I have gone from Obese, through Overweight on into the "Normal" zone! That's quite a feeling! I had several errands to run today, and at each spot, someone commented on how great I was looking. It was a good hair day, my earrings matched my top and I was in size 14 skinny jeans and they were too big for me! Half way through the day, I stopped at Coldwater Creek to get another pair of... Thu, 20 Jan 2011 14:50:57 EST Closet expansion As I am shrinking my closet is expanding!! When I built my house 11 years ago, I actually paid extra to have them add a garden tub with 6 jets. I pictures myself luxuriating in mounds of bubbles, relaxing like in the movies! Lit candles, a glass of wine, a good book. Well, let me tell you, that was so far from reality it's not funny! First of all, I could hardly get out of the darn thing! I would be wet and slippery and there was no good place to install a grab bar. I couldn't kneel ... Fri, 7 Jan 2011 21:46:13 EST Hooray for me! Just crossed 15,000 points. Would have happened much sooner if I'd get off my butt and exercise more! I'm now on Day 3 of the 28 day challenge. Mon, 3 Jan 2011 19:29:47 EST New Year, new goal Back on April 1, 2010, my goal was to drop down 50 pounds and get to 159 pounds. I have been plugging along fairly steadily, despite several trips, but as I get closer to that 50 pound loss, I realize that perhaps a goal of 159 was realistic for a 40-year-old, but for me, at 62, perhaps that is not going to have me looking my best. Zsa Zsa Gabor was quoted on several occasions saying "Dahling, there comes a point in every woman's life when they have to choose between their face or their ass... Sun, 2 Jan 2011 12:12:55 EST Travel, Baking and Christmas plans Wow! Another month between blog posts. I guess it's just the demands of the season. From my last post till now has been kind of a whirl. My friend Edith came in from New Mexico for Thanksgiving. I cooked for the two of us and my 'cross the street neighbor. I was excited to be able to cook for friends. The next day Edith and I left for a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A first for her, but a repeat for me. We had a great time. We shopped, went sight seeing and ate wonderfu... Mon, 20 Dec 2010 19:39:01 EST Messaging after almost a month off Well, it's been a good long time since I've added anything on my blog. I finally broke below the 30 pound mark this morning! That is exciting! I will probably not attempt to reach my initial goal of another 20 pounds. At 62, that probably isn't going to have me looking my best. I don't want to appear gaunt looking. I'll leave that for the super models! I don't know yet, though, where I will call it a "good weight". <BR> <BR> I admit I am still sloughing off in the exercise dept. Afte... Sat, 13 Nov 2010 16:27:34 EST Activity level...HIGH! Had our first really nice fall day today. Our summer was brutally hot and Fall has finally arrived! Thank you, God! I had 16 bags of mulch I needed to spread and lots of tidying up, dead heading and pruning that was way overdue. I went out about 10 am and didn't come in for good till about 4:45. I did stop for lunch, but was essentially working the entire time. I also spread a 50 pound bag of egg rock along the side of the brick pathway. I probably need another bag of rock and about 8 ... Sat, 16 Oct 2010 13:51:57 EST Sloughing off I guess it's about time I owned up to the fact that I have been sloughing off on my exercising lately. Lots of excuses...the heat, the travel, the cats, the lack of time, late nights, early mornings, the phases of the moon. Whatever! Lots of excuses but really no solid reasons. I can see that I need to be accountable for my actions. Sounds like something I preached to my kids several years ago! Listen up! Get with the program, Mary Ellen! Mon, 11 Oct 2010 18:03:50 EST 20 Minutes notice! Well, I called my friend Leonora about 20 minutes before I was due to arrive at her house. She was indeed surprised! And the "mess" all over the bed in the guest room was hardly a mess at all. 3 piles of stuff that were easily moved to a dresser and it was good to go. I actually had 13 thimbles to give her and the new rack held 48. Coupled with all the ones that she had nowhere to put, she has room for 16 more thimbles. Guess I'd better get busy and take a few more vacations! She is su... Wed, 6 Oct 2010 21:16:35 EST Happy Early Birthday Well, I made the decision that despite how busy I am it was high time to take a trip up to Virginia to visit my old friend Leonora. She will be 93 years old a week from Tomorrow. She collects thimbles and I buy them for her whenever I take one of my trips. I think I have about 10 of them for her and it so happened that while on Prince Edward Island, at the Anne of Green Gables store I found a thimble rack that was on clearance. So now not only do I have the thimbles for her, I have the ra... Fri, 1 Oct 2010 23:00:33 EST The Town's in an Uproar! Boy, oh boy, those Turnpike Authority people better watch their backs! Our town is after them!! For the last 15 years or so a plan has been in place for a big section of a major route that will complete a loop around Raleigh and connect all areas of the county to all others. Last week they dropped a bomb on several unsuspecting towns. In addition to the long-held route, they proposed 2 alternate routes that will virtually slice several areas into pieces and involve wiping out homes, sho... Tue, 28 Sep 2010 21:55:55 EST Cook-off I belong to a group of people who love to eat! We are a homogeneous group of all ages, weight ranges, ethnic backgrounds, occupations and marital status. The one thing we all have in common is our love of food! Many of us also love to cook. In addition to eating out several times a month, we have been having friendly "Cook-offs" on a monthly basis. As you might imagine, these get togethers are land mines for me. When we eat out, I have been taking portions of my meals home with me, and... Sun, 26 Sep 2010 21:48:07 EST