Monday, March 27, 2006

Kitchen Design - Renovation Tales

Home Renovation is a bit of a nightmare. I highly recommend a ton of research before you even get started. I am doing a massive renovation to my little 800 square foot duplex - a 378 square foot addition with a brand new kitchen. It is going to be great, but right now it's nuts.

I met with one kitchen designer/cabinet person a few weeks ago - his design was $19,000 - and that was just cabinets, no countertops or anything. That was way more than I wanted to spend.

So, I met with three different kitchen designers this weekend. One was a total bitch - she really didn't seem to think my project was worth her time and effort. I wouldn't recommend her. The other two were both great. One was Coyle & Associates of Springfield, while the other was a designer at Home Depot. I liked them both. Very professional, yet understanding that I am budget minded. They were open to creative ideas -- offering their advice, but also listening to my needs.

Lou, from Coyle and Assoc., recommended Shiloh cabinets in a Medium Maple with a Mocha Glaze. They are all wood construction -- very nice cabinets. A bit different than I originally planned. He recommended the blue Corian countertop called "Cobalt." He thinks the white sink that I already have won't look good with the light cabinets from Shiloh. I do like the combination, but it is totally different from my ideas. It does lock me into blue as a color for the kitchen

At Home Depot, I was able to get great cabinets from Kraftmaid in a color close to what I originally envisioned. They are available in Traditions Birch in Taupe Glaze. So, white with a brown glaze. However, they are not all wood -- mostly engineered wood, so not as nice construction wise.

I got a quote right away with drawings from the Home Depot designer -- about $8000, plus countertops. Already a way better price than the ones from the first kitchen person I met with. Countertops will be about $3000.

I haven't heard from Coyle -- I expect they will be a bit more, but I don't know how much more.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Weight Loss - I hate this!

Okay. Just got pictures back from my cousin's wedding. Wow - I look heavy. Not my legs strangely. But, my face, my arms and my belly look huge in these pictures. In one photo, it looks like I have a roll of fat across my lower back. It looks disgusting. I have to do something more drastic.

My weight loss has plateaued again. It seems to be lose 2 pounds one week, none the next week. I am not even at the weight I was a year ago. It seems I have been gaining about 10 pounds a year for the past two years.

In high school, I actually weighed over 40 pounds less than I do now. Yet, I did not think I was thin back then. I would practically kill someone to weigh that little now. I gained about 15 pounds in college, another 10 in graduate school. Then, I gained about 10 at my first job. And when I joined the government I gained the final 15 pounds. This means in the past twelve years, I gained 50 pounds. If I continue on that path, I will weigh more than 300 pounds by the time I turn 50.

And the thing is I am trying. I eat healthier than I have ever before. I am paying more attention to what I put in my mouth. I am also exercising more.

I think the problem lies in that I don't push myself hard enough in my workouts, nor do I stop myself from eating when I should. I think I am going to have to work a bit harder to make this happen. I can't just stall out here. I also am going to quit eating after 9 p.m. at night. If I don't get dinner before that, then I don't eat that night. It won't kill me. Also, no more cheating on weekly basis. I have to cut some things out of diet -- no more "in moderation." I actually will have to make some sacrifice if I want this to happen.

I have another family wedding in June. It would be nice if I could fit into my regular clothes by then. I have now been in what I consider my "fat" clothes for two years.

If I push myself, I should be able to lose another 28 pounds by that wedding. I will have more photos taken at that time, so I should be able to compare. That might help.

I will have to keep working at it. I can do this. If I can quit smoking, I can do anything.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Promotion and Changes at the Office

Finally, she has left the building. Friday was officially Nutso's last day and personally I couldn't have been happier. She has gone to work for another agency.

So, I did a little jig and went out for happy hour/St. Patty's Day with my girlfriend's on Friday night.

And this morning, my supervisor announced I am now a GS-13!! And I am officially the lead for my team. Of course, right now, my team consists of just me, but that is not the point.

So, life is good for the moment at the office!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Book Meme

Here's a meme I pinched from Ms Mac.

* The titles in bold are books I've read.
* The red ones are those I have no intention of ever reading ever in my lifetime.
* The ones with a bold ? I've never even heard of.
* The blue ones are those I have on my list but are as yet unread by me.
* The orange ones I might read some day.

1. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
2. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger - excellent
3. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams - not that great
4. The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald - didn't care for it.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee.
6. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
7. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman ?
8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling I liked it!
9. Life of Pi - Yann Martel ?
10. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell - good
11. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
12. The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien enjoyed it.
13. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - Mark Haddon Agreee with Ms. Mac - a bit too many clever people recommend it.
14. Lord of the Flies - William Golding Read it in school, good
15. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen I think, anyway. It's been awhile.
16. 1984 - George Orwell - good
17. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling Good but not the best HP!
18. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
19. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden The movie was amazing, but I am not sure about the book.
20. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - good
21. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
22. Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut - good
23. Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
24. Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
25. Neuromancer - William Gibson ?
26. Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson ?
27. The Secret History - Donna Tartt ?
28. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
29. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte Great
30. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley good
31. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis Good
32. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides - just finished. excellent
33. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ?
34. The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien Good.
35. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte Good
36. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman ?
37. FantasyAtonement - Ian McEwan ?
38. The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon?
39. The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
40. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood Good
41. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
42. Dune - Frank Herbert

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Diet and Exercise Resolution Update

Okay...I was starting to get really frustrated, but I am making progress.

I lost four pounds in January by stepping up the exercise. I thought this is not going to be too bad. Then, I lost another two pounds. No problem. Then, the next two weeks, I hit a plateau. Not sure why. Supposedly if you eat less and work out more, you will lose weight. I was tracking every single calorie that goes into my mouth. I've doubled my exercise. I am eating more vegetables than I ever have before. What was the deal? I am not sure.

However, this week, I weighed myself and discovered I am down a total of 11 pounds since the New Year -- not too shabby. I have examined my habits and here's some things that have helped.

I quit drinking real soda -- it's either C2 or Coke Zero -- no other soft drink. I also cut out most fat from my diet -- not all, but quite a bit. I made an excel spreadsheet tracking my calorie intact. I noticed that every weekend I was spiking. So, this past weekend, I tried to be more conscious of it. I am trying to eat less than 1890 calories a day with less than 500 of them fat calories. I also try to go without meat at least once a week - an all veggie day.

I have started mixing up the exercise a bit. I go to the Rec Center to work out at least once over the weekend, when I'm here. I also am becoming fanatical about doing 4 30-minute workouts a week minimum. I joined the SELF challenge, just to give myself another boost -- it's tracking system is good for the food and workout log. It calculates the calories lost for every workout, which helps. However, I thought it would allow some tracking of weight loss or inches lost and it really doesn't provide for that.

I am so excited that this is working. I was starting to wonder if I was destined to be fat for the rest of my life. I've never been skinny. Since high school, I've gained over 40 pounds. I am trying to get back to a more realistic weight for me. Of course, what I think is realistic and what I am "supposed" to weigh are a bit different. According to all the information I can find, a healthy weight for me is between 139 and 170 pounds. However, I don't think I've weighed 139 pounds since I was 14 years old. I've just never been very thin.

But, I am on my weigh. If I can get to around 150, I would be thrilled. I'll keep you posted...