Journey to the Land of Less is More Mile 3: Just Say NO!

 About seven years ago I lived in a small 2 bedroom house on a busy street named Somerville.  It was a little tan house with dark brown trim.  There was nothing fancy about the place.  It didn’t have a garage, or a second bathroom, or a fireplace, but it had a quaint porch.  It was an extension of my living room.  My dad bought me a wooden rocking chair from the Cracker Barrel.  One morning I went out to sit in my chair, and nearly busted my tailbone.  It had been thieved in the night.  Some low-life had crept upon my porch in the dark and stolen my rocker.  I felt violated.  And my dad bought me another second one.  He said he hopes whoever stole it gets a splinter in their butt when they rock in it. 

I had my sister’s porch swing hanging from the edge with a garland of sunflowers twisted around the chains.  I had a few plants, a decorative flag that hung from a pillar, it was an inviting place.  I sat on that porch every evening, every Saturday, every Sunday, watched the cars drive past, and waved at people I knew.  And some I didn’t.  Friends and family would come and sit with me.  We’d swing or rock and visit.  It holds good memories, even if I did get my rocker stolen.

Also in that house there was a small pantry. Just two doors that opened up with narrow little shelves.  Inside those doors I hung my “pantry emails”.  The emails that touched me.  The ones that really made an impact. The ones I wanted to read.  And read again. 

I began blogging in November of 2008.  I really do not remember why I started blogging, except for needing a place to write my thoughts and stories down.   My very first blog post was a copy of a “pantry email” entitled Great Advice.  I reread it today, and decided to camp awhile on advice number four.

 Say No to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.

In my journey to the Land of Less is More,  I want to unclutter not only my surroundings, but also my time.  After reflecting on how I am spending my time,  I found some places to say No.

To my house I say No!  No to the pointless cleaning that only dirties itself up again. 

To the book I am reading, I say No!  You are mediocre, and not worth my time.  I hope you turn out well.

To the barking dog next door I say No!  Although you are not a project, my mental health is on the line here.  You. Will. Stop. Barking.  Although I cannot state how as it may be used against me in a court of law.

And  to my sister Jolea, my exercise partner, my FIRM buddy, I must say No.  No to the workouts.  No to the jumps and the squats.   I am 2 workouts behind schedule.  I don’t want to do it.  And it is making me fatter.

By this I mean the exercise, not the box of 24 packages of Rolos I’ve eaten since Christmas.


Arm Flab and Pit Bulls

I’ve been exercising lately, it is January after all, and I’m sore.

When you haven’t exercised in like a millenium it’s usually a good idea to start off slow.

I started off slow and I’m still sore.

But you know, in a small way I’m glad I’m sore.  It makes me feel like I actually did something.  Something good for myself.

And perhaps my exercise will help slow down the aging process and keep my arm flab at a minimum.

Teachers must be careful about arm flab.  Let me tell you why. 

I recommend this experiment if you are undecided about whether or not your arm flab is a menace to society.

Imagine yourself in a short sleeve shirt.  Or a tank top if you feel like breaking the dress code.  Something that accentuates your upper arms. 

 You got it? 

Now imagine yourself standing in front of a chalkboard.  A markerboard if you’re in 2011.  There is a room full of young, yet precocious children waiting to soak up the knowledge you are about to bestow upon them.

Are you there?

Okay raise your arm, with chalk or marker poised, and write a sentence on your imaginary board.  Something like “The dog’s balls were round.”

Now pull your mind out of the gutter, this is a lesson on possessive nouns of course.

Go ahead and write it in cursive, it’s a handwriting lesson as well.

Write it big and long, stretch your arm out and write by golly.  Write like you’ve never written before!

Now stop.  Time for an arm flab check.  How’s it doing?  Swinging slightly?  Or did it circle around and nearly slap you in the ear?

A boy in the back of the room just snickered about your possessive noun sentence.  He’s probably got a big brother or two.

You don’t allow snickering in this classroom. 

Get the eraser.  Get it. 

Erase that sentence fast.

Erase it big.

Choose something much more appropriate and repeat.

This now concludes the demonstration. 

So how are you feeling about your arm flab now?

Children are brutally honest and they will point out fat, jiggly arms in a heartbeat.  I only know this from experience.   I no longer wear short sleeves. 

Or write on the board. 

There was a story of a teacher, a rather large teacher who was teaching elementary age students.  The kind who haven’t yet learned the inappropriateness of certain topics.

One day, one of her young boys said in the most horrified voice, “Mrs. B, what IS that?”  while pointing to her flabby upper arm.

“Oh, honey”, the kind, large, gentle teacher replied, “that’s just my ole’ fat arm.”

“Whew”, the boy replied with a sigh of relief.  “I thought it was your titty.”


It’s an issue with kids, don’t ever think it’s not.  It ranks right up there with calling shotgun.  It’s a big deal.

Today I was working with a small group of students.  One of my little angels began talking about her grandma.

This is what she had to say.

“She’s just so flabby.  When she raises her arm,” and the little girl raises her arm to demonstrate, “10 flabs fall out.”

Another student was curious, “What’s a flab?”

The little darling raises her arm again, and proceeds to explain to the child whose family obviously has the thin gene, about  flabby arm fat. 

She waves her hand under the raised arm to indicate the severity and jiggliness of the flabs.

She continues, “They’re  like dogs.  Like pit bulls. ”


And then she bares her teeth, shakes her head, and growls ferociously.

I only hope I don’t have your granddaughter in my class. 

Just think, this could be you she’s referring to.

Now go perform 3 sets of 20 triceps presses.

And Hurry!

Exercise and me weren’t meant to be

My oven is broken.  It’s been broken since 1973.  Or at least since July, maybe April.  I liked it being broken.  I had a good excuse for not cooking.  Now that the holidays are over and all danger of cooking turkey, roasting ham, and baking pumpkin pie  is no longer looming, I thought I might get it fixed. 


I was also going to start exercising.


I have plenty of options when it comes to exercising.

You might say I have a bit of an obsession with exercise videos.  It’s important that I tell you that, since it’s not obvious by looking at me.  My theory is the more you have collecting dust in VHS boxes, the better chance you have of getting out of the Lazy Boy.

Most of my workout tapes belong to my cousin from whom  I stole them fair and square.  But she isn’t in too big of a hurry to get them back I don’t think.  They are called The Firm, and they truly made me look a quarter of half way amazing when I was 25  years old.  But who doesn’t look a quarter to half way amazing when they’re only 25?

I received 13 more Firm DVD’s from my sister this holiday.

You can find them at the link below, and I wish I was getting paid to say that.

I was going to recommit to exercise and complete one today.  Or at least attempt one.

I was completely and totally determined to start right after the Oven man came to fix my oven.

But the oven man was 2 hours late.

So while waiting on the Oven man, I decided to take down the Christmas tree. 

And I hurt my back taking down the Christmas tree.

Technically, I re-hurt my back from originally hurting it the other day cleaning out my closet.

Physical work and me just don’t jive.

I’ve never hurt my back laying on the couch.  Or napping. 

It’s always when I’m doing something.

 Strange how that works.

Everything you ever wanted to know about a Leek, but were afraid to ask

I’ve been reading this book called “French Women Don’t Get Fat”. I’ve been reading the parts I understand anyway.  It’s a bestseller and I trust that.  The author Mireille Guiliano (pronounce that if you think you’re so smart) claims leeks are magical. 

If you’re anything like me, perhaps this will help.
They’re hidden on the produce shelf. 
They’re a vegetable. 

The skinny French woman has a soup called “Magical Leek Soup”.   You are supposed to drink leek broth for 48 hours.  Straight. 
Leek Broth, doesn’t that sound yummy?
 If you get hungry, you eat the leeks with a little olive oil drizzled, until the 2nd day’s supper, then you have a little fish or meat with some veggies. I’m thinking fried taters and gravy qualifies after 48 hours of leek broth.

And that my friends is why I’m reading this book.

This 48 hour cleansing is the jump start to a great lifestyle change.  Kinda sounds a little like starvation if you ask me, but who am I to question the French?

Yet, there is something about magical leeks that appeal to me. 

I like magic. 
Birthday candle blowing magic, shooting star wishing magic, genie bottle rubbing magic.

I could use a little magic around here. 

For starters, I’d like to:

Magically-have-Ed-McMahan-ring-my-doorbell.  Wait.  Is he dead?

There’s just no limit what these leeks might do for me.

I called the grocery store to make sure they carried them before I ventured out.  They did, they were hidden but they were there.  I was curious to how fresh they were.  I pondered how often people buy these things. 

 I had to watch a video on how to prepare them.

I couldn’t help but wonder where they’ve been all my life.

But truthfully, I didn’t wonder too hard.

I really didn’t think I could handle the Leek Broth.  I know my limitations. Thankfully, the skinny french woman has a recipe on her website for Leek Mozarella with a lovely picture, so I decided why not get a jumpstart on my new year’s resolution and prepare a healthy vegetable.

I’m thinking anything covered in cheese has got to be tasty.
Anything that looks like a pasta dish from Pizza Hut surely is yum-o.

Evidently the leek is from the onion family. You only use the white part of the vegetable.

Which means all this goes in the trash. Doesn’t that seem like such a waste?  I was half-way raised by my Grannie, who was half-way raised during the Depression. She would have never thrown these out. The skinny French woman says they can be saved and made into stock. But okay, we’re talking about me here.  So into the trash they went.

Then you boil the white parts, after you rinse well, because there’s a lot of dirt in there.  That’s because they’re a vegetable, and vegetables grow in dirt.

Kinda looks like a cross between onions and celery, with a severe case of hypothyroidism.

Here’s the recipe, if’n you’re interested.

2 pounds leeks, white parts only
1 cup fresh basil leaves (I didn’t have this of course.  We’re talking about me here.)
8 ounces mozzarella
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon wine or sherry vinegar
Salt (preferably freshly ground—fleur de sel works magic) and freshly ground peppe
Yield: 4 Servings
Preheat the broiler.
Clean the leeks thoroughly, and boil in salted water 6 to 10 minutes, until cooked but still firm, then drain.
Put the leeks in a baking dish, and cover with a layer of basil leaves. Cut the mozzarella into 1/4-inch slices, and place atop the basil layer. Put the dish under the preheated broiler, and watch carefully. In 3 to 5 minutes the cheese should start to melt and brown; at this point, remove the dish.
Mix the oil and vinegar and drizzle over the mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately with a slice of country bread.

So far, I’ve eaten them twice.  They aren’t terrible.  They ain’t taters and gravy either. 

I’m still waiting for the magic.
So far, I’ve gotten better results from birthday candle blowing and shooting star wishing.

But Wait.  Somebody’s at the door.