Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to you and yours!!!

2014 was an amazing year for me and mine. Whether your 2014 was wonderful, dreadful, or somewhere in between – the good news is you have a fresh start! Someone else has a fresh start too –

Meet Barkley –

barks

After losing our beloved lab this past October, we weren’t sure any little furry fella would be able to fill the hole in our hearts. We’d visited a couple of shelters and applied through some rescues, but none of those dogs panned out. And the reason for that was that this little precious baby was waiting for us at a nearby shelter. I’m glad we waited for the perfect fit and now we are able to cruise into 2015 with a little extra love flowing through our house.

Here’s something else exciting going on today:

First Book clubI greatly enjoy reading Sheila over at Book Journey (click the ^ to check her out). She’s hosting some great challenges this year. The First Book of the Year link up is my speed so I’m participating to share what I’m reading and see everyone else’s:
Librarian Eats

I love Jojo Moyes. I’ve read some of her others, and thought I’d take a step back to an earlier work. I’m glad I did. The Peacock Emporium is very good. What are you reading as we flip into 2015?

And finally, in keeping with my fitness theme, I encourage you to seek out some great New Year fitness experiences. Just here around me, I’ve found free 1st day hikes at our State Parks, free Zumba classes, and a group run with a local running group.This sounds like a great way to kick off 2015!!

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Faceoff: Jawbone UP24 vs. Weight Watchers

This isn’t really fair because it’s really an apples to oranges comparison. It’s not apples to apples because I’m not comparing Weight Watchers Active Link to Jawbone UP24. I’m comparing Jawbone food tracking component to Weight Watchers app.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I’m a die-hard Weight Watchers Lifetime member. I did this experiment for curiosity sake. I logged in my food intake for one weekend day into both the WW app and the UP24 app. It was a pain in the tuck-us to do both.

What I love about Jawbone UP24 is the nutritional analysis. Here’s the display on the day that I tracked:

IMG_1870I absolutely am smitten with this. I love the focus of the daily tracking on green, yellow, red light foods. Green light foods = go. Eat these. Yellow light foods = proceed with caution. These are the ‘Don’t over due it’ items listed above. For me today, that was hard pretzels, baked potato, rolls. The red light foods = pass on these items. Which obviously, I tanked on today!! I am not a fan of any off limits foods, so I think this approach is realistic. The ongoing monitoring of the nutritional content helps to guide food choices through out the day.

There were some things that I just didn’t love. I found the input screen a bit difficult to navigate at first. It’s best to add a whole meal at a time and make sure there is a bit of time between entries. This is because the display is a clickable timeline of meals. When entries are too close together, they overlap. When I went back to edit an entry, it was too close to another entry, and I was never able to select the one I wanted.  Also, I found that the listing of recognized UPC codes for easy scanning entry is limited. None of the items I scanned today were recognized. And the final item that I didn’t love, was that even of the listed items, some of the nutritional content wasn’t available. I ate a cookie – no biggie, it’s Christmas!! The cookie was listed by brand name. Even though I ate a homemade one, I selected it thinking it would make tracking nutritional content more available. The UP24 app just logged “you ate something good” and omitted calorie, fat, etc. This would seriously hinder calorie counting efforts if that was my purpose.

So to be fair, what do I love about WW app? Well, that’s pretty easy. Perhaps since I’ve been using it for nearly 5 years, it’s super easy to navigate. There’s a huge bank of UPC codes so nearly everything I scan is recognized, except Publix items. This doesn’t bother me, but another lady in my meeting room really loves Publix and she finds this irritating. You might too if you are a loyal Publix shopper. I enjoy the earning of Activity Points to eat 🙂 Finally, I love my WW app because it’s worked so well for me.

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After experiencing the UP24, I would like to see more nutritional content feedback. Someone I know, and I’m not naming names, used to eat 9 Hershey kisses for breakfast. As long as they didn’t go over on points, there wasn’t any huge alert that this was a bad idea. Clearly it is a horrible idea. WW does offer Good Health guidelines which are to be checked off to keep you nutritionally on track but this lacks the specific nutritional analysis of UP24.

I also enjoy the ability to enter recipes into the WW site to determine point values of new items. This is easily done in the website instead of the app, but it’s stored and can be logged forever more in the app or on the site.

UP24 does an outstanding job at fitness tracking. WW does an outstanding job at food tracking. Combining the two gives me the best of both worlds. Great news is now they are compatible and Jawbone can feed activity points directly into the WW app!

The deciding factor for me is the 5 years I’ve already invested in WW. Like many who have had success with a particular method, I’m hesitant to try something new in fear of backsliding. I’m pleased with the fitness and sleep tracking of UP24. They make it worth every cent. If I weren’t a WW member and I was looking to trim down, I’d definitely try out the food journal component of Jawbone UP24 as an added step to modifying my lifestyle.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I had to get the fridge cleaned out so I could fit this week’s CSA veggies in there. Luckily, it all came together deliciously!IMG_1864

4 crowns of broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
2 leeks, diced
1 5oz can evaporated milk
6ish oz Velveeta
1 brick cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Better than Bouillon Chicken base
4 – 5 cups water
Dash of pepper

Throw in a crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours. Enjoy!

Though my UP24 reports some concern over my sodium consumption. Perhaps this didn’t help!! But more on the UP24 nutritional info in another post. Out of curiosity, I logged my food diary into both my Jawbone UP24 and the Weight Watchers app to see what would come of the information. I’ll share that in the next couple of days.

I dropped the hint

and he picked it up!! I’ve mentioned in passing on here and IRL that my hobbies of reading & eating really don’t make for a tiny waist line. I enjoy running. Though with my long commute and the short days of winter, finding the time to run is difficult. But Mr. Hero gifted me with a much desired Jawbone UP24.IMG_1856

I’ve been stalking fitness trackers for months, waffling on which would be best and what my most needed features would be. Following a bunch of research, I decided that the UP24 was my best bet. I liked that it tracks activity, not just steps. It’s compatible with my WW ~ because you know I’m a dedicated WW girl. And it also tracks sleep quality. I didn’t realize that I’d get such detailed reports:

UP24

See there where little man woke me up? Glad my kids are a bit older – the orange of wake times in there would have been a heck of a lot more a couple of years ago. I’d love to hook Mr. Hero up to one of his own. He sleeps horribly.

I also didn’t realize that it had such detailed food journal, mood tracking, and coaching. Needless to say, I’m thrilled. I can’t contain myself. So while my blog will continue to focus on books & food, when I actually have time to share, it will now contain a sprinkling of my fitness efforts too. Because life has to be about balance, right?

Cherry Tucker is my kind of girl..

Portrait of a Dead GuyPortrait of a Dead Guy. by Larissa Reinhart. Henery Press 2012. ISBN-13: 978–938383-02-1

I obtained this copy at the GaCOMO Conference. One of my favorite parts of the conference is the author reception. Of course, I love the whole conference and always return full of fresh & fantastic ideas. But I come home with a bag full of books too 🙂

This year the first author I met was Larissa. She was delightful. We chatted a bit about being from the Midwest and relocating to the South. I think she embraced it a bit more readily than I did ~ Not that I haven’t grown to LOVE it!! But I did have a bit of culture shock. I believe Larissa’s journey was Midwest to Japan to the South. I guess moving to Japan will use up all of your culture shock. Anyway, after working my way around the room, I was drawn back to her table. I’m a sucker for a light, candy read as a palate cleanser between more meaty stuff. This Cherry Tucker chick seemed to fit the bill. Spunky female solves crime with a handsome sidekick or two… that’s my recipe for a fun quick read. Seems to be Larissa’s as well. So I bought the book & lined it up next to some of my other favorite authors – yes, some of which I haven’t read their books either.

Then the other day, I was in search of a good candy read. I’d worked through the warped Chop, Chop and then a couple of business focused books, and I needed something funny, light, and above all else entertaining. You know, your basic page turner. I was hesitant to grab Portrait of a Dead Guy because what if I didn’t like it? Could I write an honest review? Well, no need to fret… It is a keeper!

Portrait of a Dead Guy introduces us to Cherry Tucker. Cherry is an artist in the small town of Halo, Georgia. Cherry’s family isn’t quite from the wrong side of the tracks, but let’s just say she has some disadvantages in small town living. As you can imagine, art doesn’t provide the most secure financial footing in a small town. Out of desperation, Cherry accepts a creepy assignment to immortalize a town misfit from a good family. From there on out, things actually find a way to go downhill.

Unlike other female mystery series, Cherry isn’t the town busy-body but she does have something to prove. Her lack of experience leaves her learning through trial and error. Like other great mysteries, there is a healthy dose of romantic tension. Cherry finds herself shuffling between Todd, her sorta ex-husband, and Luke, a past crush back in town and better than ever.

I love that I didn’t figure out the mystery prior to the big reveal. The twists and turns hit me unexpectedly, but not unbelievably. The story is well crafted and within the overall context. I never felt purposefully mislead for effect – but I did utter an ‘ah-ha!’

I would generally recommend this for new adults and up. Some of the language is ‘choice’ but never vulgar. There is sexual tension but never graphic descriptions.

Like Cherry, I can do some great thinking over beer & wings. So here’s our companion recipe:

IMG_1770

Chicken Wings 3 Ways: Salt & Vinegar, Garlic Parmesan, and Teriyaki

4# of wings in total. 1# was Teriyaki, 1.5# Salt & Vinegar, 1.5# Garlic Parmesan.

First, preheat to 400 & cover 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spray foil with nonstick spray.

For Salt & Vinegar and Garlic Parmesan:

Combine: 1 t Oregano, 1/2 t cumin, 1 t salt and toss with 3# wings Bake in a single layer for about 50 minutes, flipping half way through.

While they are baking:
Salt & Vinegar: combine 3 T white vinegar & 1/2 t salt in a plastic zippered bag. Toss 1/2 of wings in this to finish and serve.

Garlic Parmesan: combine 2T Olive Oil, 2 T fresh basil, thinly sliced, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese (the almost powdered shelf stable kind seems to work best) in a plastic zippered bag. Toss 1/2 of wings in this to finish and serve.

For Teriyaki:

Combine: 1 T olive oil, 1 t seasoning salt, 1 t onion powder, 1 t garlic powder, and pinch of black pepper and toss with wings. Bake in a single layer for about 45 minutes, flipping half way through.

While they are baking, mix 1/2 c cold water, 3/4 c brown sugar, 1/2 c soy sauce, 1 t garlic powder, 3 T cornstarch in a bowl. Microwave for 1 minute to dissolve brown sugar.

Dip wings in sauce and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. Sauce will brown and become sticky. Pour remaining sauce over wings and serve.

All 3 were fantastic and super easy. My boys were in hog heaven.

On my Christmas list…

I only buy books I love. This is partly because I consider myself thrifty, my kids would say tight, whatever. It’s probably mostly because I’m really a book hoarder and any new addition is going to have to earn shelf real estate. So having said that, you won’t find many new or hot titles on my Christmas Wish-list. Instead you’ll find ones that I’ve checked out repeatedly, or have read excerpts of and they’ve proven themselves worthy. Here’s my list in no particular order:

Manual of Style

This one would definitely fall under the category of ‘something I need.’ I love, love, love editing. Unfortunately, I love it because of the challenge. It’s not something that comes to me naturally. In fact, in the library world full of English majors, I frequently feel as though I stand alone in my business background. Most of the time this is an advantage. Most of the time. Anyway, I’ve checked this book out a million times over. It’s now time that I need to buy it.

 

cake mix doctor

Here’s another one that I’ve checked out over and over and over. For a long time, I carried around the secret shame of being a from scratch cake failure. Frequently my scratch efforts felt as though they were made of lead. But then I read this blog written for home bakers. I believe them when they say that people will most frequently select a cake made from a mix instead of scratch in a blind taste test. I don’t know whether I’d say it was better, but I do believe that in general people prefer what is familiar and cake mixes are probably more the norm than scratch. So I say, embrace the cake mix. Own it. Love it. Make it special.

parenting without borders

I find myself still deep within the parenting trenches. This book offered a lot of encouragement. I loved the unique perspectives of different cultures. I find confidence in my choices when I know why I’ve made them. I generally enjoy reading parenting books but rarely feel the need to own one and return to it. Many books are preaching that the authors’ have it all figured out. If we’d only trust their wisdom, method, technique, our homes will be peaceful, productive, and successful. Which any parent with more than one child will tell you is a total crock. Every kid/family is different and there are no guarantees that what works for one will work for another. This book reaffirms that we are all just doing our best for our own reasons and sometimes it’s ok to stick with our own technique but trying out someone else’s isn’t such a bad idea either.

public library I really hope this one is in my stocking come Christmas morning. We always joke that we should have a television show. It would be a situation comedy with your standard collection of eccentric characters, and that’s just the staff!! Once you open the doors, and let in the public, well you better just hold on to your hat! There are so many bizarre instances that just aren’t taught to you in library school. For example, once a library patron wanted to use her ‘favorite’ computer in the bank. The problem was that out of the 12 or so computers, only 2 or 3 were already in use. Her favorite was one of them. A young man was working typing a report. The library patron approached and explained that she wanted to use that computer. He very politely explained that he was in the middle of something and she should use one of the open ones. She then began an exorcism as clearly the devil was at work in that young man’s body. How does one politely interrupt and redirect an exorcism? Very carefully. I’m certain that I’m not the only librarian with some stories up my sleeve. I can’t wait to read their’s.

Which books are on your wish list this year?