Showing posts from 2019

December Challenge has ended!

I'm really pleased! I met my December challenge and even blew past my wussy goal of 5 times or more a week. I went to the gym every day except for December 25th (they were closed) and December 26th (the weather was finally so nice that I opted to go for a walk instead). I even have check in proof! I even made appreciable gains in my workouts! December 1st workout sheet: December 31st workout sheet: I changed from doing a machine that simulated the situp movement with some weights to just the situp bench. Clearly I still have some work to do on my arms and shoulders, but that's not a big surprise. I'll just keep on keeping on! I took a picture on the first and today - not going to share those, but I did see a little positive change in my arm definition and my midsection. I also need to work on lowering my shoulder and changing my posture - I'm starting to lean forward. I'll keep taking pictures on the last days of the month to make sure there'

January Challenge Rules

Went to the gym as usual, and did a lot of stretching and my PT exercises. The high ended up being 73 today, so I didn't want to spend a lot of time indoors. Tomorrow is my last day to complete my 30 day gym challenge! This January, I'll be doing the No (Obvious) Sugar Added challenge. I threw in 'obvious' because I didn't want to fuss about added sugar when I go out to eat - I'll just pick items that I expect would not have sugar, like meats and vegetables. I won't order a cake while I'm out! But I'm not interested in bothering the waiter in case the salad dressing may have sugar in it. Technically, raw fruit has no added sugar. However, most fruit in January also has no added taste. I'm unsure if I'll be eating much fruit - I rarely eat that food group, though I should. Sounds like a different challenge for a different day. I downloaded MyFitnessPal again, with the thought that I MUST eat at least 1200 calories a day. If I don't,

Board games and near the end of the gym challenge

Today was another success! Went to the gym after my two cups of coffee, warmed up the rest of the Picadillo for lunch, and finished a few chores. This evening, I was invited to a board game night with a few friends. We played Spinjas and Stuffed Fables. The gym was my last arm/chest routine day until the 31st, where I'll do the full body routine and see where I gained. I'm certain I didn't lose weight - way too many cookies and candies around to snack on, but hopefully I'm stronger. I certainly feel stronger and better, and that is enough to keep going. I'm looking forward to getting a better diet in January by not having sugar for the month, and continuing to go the the gym - just not daily. Stuffed Fables is a really cute game! We played Story 1 where a girl's blanket is stolen from a little girl's bed, and the Stuffed animals characters, Theadora, Stitch, Flops and Lumpy have to travel through the underworld to rescue the blanket and get back to bed b

Vacation days definitely decrease desire for the gym

I might have left the bar a little later than I excepted last night, and slept in more than usual today. I certainly have no desire to go to the gym. I still made it, but it wasn't nearly as easy as when I go straight from work. Coffee was delayed a bit, then I didn't eat lunch until 1pm. But, I got myself up and going, and went to the gym for a very successful legs and core routine. I even added another set of 10 situps to bring my total for the exercise at 40 situps. I was really pleased to find the first set easy and the second set only slightly hard at the end. I did have to put effort in the last half of both the third and fourth sets. After the gym, I made one of my favorite Instant Pot recipes , and doubled the spices and amount of jalapeno peppers. Hopefully it isn't overpowering! Afterward, I'll read some more of Mistakes Were Made, a book I got for Christmas (thanks, Todd!) Tomorrow will be arms day, then on the 30th I'll just do cardio and stretches,

Back to the gym!

Even though the temperature was two degrees warmer today than yesterday, I didn't want to end the challenge just going for slightly strenuous walks. Went to the gym and did my arm and chest routine, and followed it up with some stretching. This morning, I tried a new recipe that my brother told me about over a year ago. It was delicious, but subtle. I ended up adding more spices to it, and really enjoyed the meal. I went downtown to Haymaker for their Pop Up Holiday and had a few drinks there. It was decorated and even had themed cocktails. I had the Gingerbread Flip - the first time I'd drank egg. Not sure it's something I'd really want to repeat. It was really tempting to get the SanTaRex mug (on the right) , but at $18 before tax, I decided it wasn't THAT special. After the Gingerbread Flip, I decided to stick to a more normal drink and opted for a Manhattan. On my way home, I enjoyed driving near a few houses that always put up great Christmas li

Day 26 No Advent Calendar, and due to awesome weather, no gym

Today was an exceptionally nice day in Raleigh. The high was 64 degrees and it was sunny with a very light breeze. Decided to skip the gym after having lunch with a friend of mine who was visiting from Colorado. I took a rather medium intensity greenway trail for 2 miles instead of heading to the gym, and think that was the right choice. It was nice to be outside doing something other than strength machines for the last 24 days. I'll head back to the gym tomorrow. It was great visiting one of my friends for lunch. Wonderful hearing what she's been doing over on that side of the country and I got to tell her about my ridiculous adventures since we'd seen each other last. We talked about our current jobs, winter sports (snowshoeing), summer sports (running), end of life care, and finances. I reconsidered my January challenge and don't believe I'll be doing a Dry challenge. I don't have a problem with alcohol, and was reacting to the requirement of drinking a g

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas! I had a nice time catching up with a few friends via text, and later went to another friend's house for board games and card games. Tomorrow, I'll be visiting with a friend who is in town from Colorado and catching up with what's going on in her life. I got some books and a dice game, a scarf and some spices, and gift card. I'm looking forward to digging into The Food Lab with J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. It discusses the science of cooking, and that's something I'm very interested in! I might have to redo my challenges. I might still do Dry January. I might follow some recipes in the Food Lab book. One of my friends suggested I take a picture every day to post. It does seem odd to not have a picture for this one, because Advent is over, and all the wine and cheese have been consumed. Last night, I attended Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church for their 7pm service. They have a 4pm family friendly service, but I decided to go for the more calmer op

Christmas Eve!

Today was a bit of a rush! Got up at 7:30, showered, started laundry, went to Atlantic Garden Center to pick up a Christmas present for a couple of friends of mine, dropped it off, got gasoline, and then headed to the gym. Did a bit of grocery shopping, finished up the laundry, and in about an hour, I'm going to a church for their Christmas Eve service. Just in case I'm tired afterward, I decided to do my very last wine and cheese for Advent! It's Prosecco! Smells not too dry, but not very sweet. It tastes semi sweet, very bubbly, with a nice pear taste. Wow, it is very tasty! I would buy a bottle of this, quite happily! The description is "Delicate aromas of brioche, hazelnuts and apple lead to a crisp, refreshing palate. Lovely on its own or served with nibbles or light dishes." White cheddar. I'm surprised they didn't pair it with a milder cheese. This tastes sharp and kind of dry. There isn't a lot of complexity and it doesn't add t

Another full day until relaxation!

Went to work, and had a full day of production support, windows updates on a dev server, deployments to lower level servers, only one meeting, then I went to the gym and did the arm and chest routine, went to Barnes and Noble for an hour, then met up with another friend for beer afterward Cabernet Sauvignon! It smells complex and full bodied, and lightly of cherry. It certainly tastes like cherry, and is quite nice. It doesn't taste that complex, just a nice and drinkable Cab. Pretty darn mellow. The description states "Soft and mellow with dark fruity aromas. Intense fruit flavors of blackcurrant, plum and a hint of spice combine to create a fresh, perfectly balanced wine." I'm not sure where I got the cherry taste, then. Do blackcurrants taste like cherries? It is a very nice wine, and I would certainly buy a bottle of this for less than 15 dollars. Edam ! More Havarti++! I tried to find Edam at the grocery store recently, and the clerk pointed me to the Go

Day 22, close to the end!

Another excellent day. Went to the gym for my leg and core routine, then went out to a new taco place for lunch. It doesn't beat my other favorite Mexican restaurants, so while it wasn't bad, I have no desire to return. I then stopped in the brand new, very busy, and extremely large Wegman's for some cheese and meat and crackers to share as I was meeting a friend of mine and their sibling for a friendly discussion about politics, impeachment, math vs art, contemporary Christian music, a few excellent YouTube videos, and more conversation. But, now it's wine and cheese time. The Shiraz is back! It... is an average red wine. It's only slightly more complex than a red blend. Other than that, there isn't much to say about it. It doesn't have much of an aroma. Or taste. Luckily we have a lovely cheese to pair with it. Aldi paired the Tomato and Olive Gouda with it, probably to give it some character. The cheese was delicious again, and tasted of pizza

Big day with lovely people

Had a full day today. Got up at 7:30, had my two cups of coffee, showered, went to the gym, came back for lunch, spoke with my aunt on the phone, went to a birthday party for my friend's mother, who turned 94 today, then caught up with another friend after that. I almost didn't get around to tasting the wine and cheese! Tomorrow will be more of the same - gym, coffee, catching up with friends. It'll be lovely! Ah, the chardonnay again! It smells light, and like pear. It tastes light, and like pear. So far, consistent. A bit dry, but it IS a chardonnay The description is "A clean, crisp Chardonnay from Mendoza, Argentina. Zesty aromas of tropical fruit combine with fresh flavors on the palate." Hmmm. I'm pretty tired, so I think I'll just say "sure." Aged cheddar! Nice pick for this wine I bet. The cheddar very dry, but mild and works well with chardonnay. Brings the fruit taste in the wine forward. Great pairing!

Day 20, Merlot, Hot and Spicy Gouda, Legs routine, Christmas movie

I slept very well and didn't wake up until 7:30. I was so excited about that! I tried to continue to read Jacob Lund Fisker's Early Retirement Extreme book, but his voice is so condescending I only manage half a chapter before I want to throw the book. I'm 37% of the way through it. THAT would be a real challenge. Getting through the book and attempting to look at his point of view in a positive light. I got the mail and then to the gym for my legs routine. I'm heading out soon to a friend's house to watch a movie with them and another friend. Apparently we'll be watching a Christmas movie, which seems rather appropriate. Today is Merlot! It smells jammy and of dark berries and cherry and tastes much more tart and with a load of tannins. Surprising! It tastes drier than it smells, as well. The description is "An elegant, rich and fruity Merlot from Chile's Valle Central. Intense fruit flavors of cherry and plum intertwine with sumptuous aromas o

Day 19 and a rough one at the gym!

Nice day today at work. Got there early to deploy code to Production and tweak a few reports. Pretty calm day, which is preferred after the rest of the week being so busy. After work, I went to the gym and instead of doing my normal routine, I participated in a bodyweight exercise class, then did 15 minutes or so of the stair machine. Strangely, this White Zinfandel smells tart and of berry. It tastes sweet, though, and of honey and strawberry. It's a very nice and drinkable wine. The description states "A classic White Zinfandel from California, USA. Lively and refreshing flavors of ripe strawberry and juicy watermelon combine with a delicate sweetness and crisp acidity." Sounds about right. The White Cheddar smells mildly tart, and isn't as soft as the Gouda, except for yesterday's Anomlay Gouda. It had a mild taste, and surprisingly, it brings the watermelon out in the White Zin. A pairing that works properly! Nice job, Aldi.

Day 18 of wine and cheese and gym

Today, I got a full day of work done, then hit the gym for a full arm/chest routine workout. It'll be interesting to see how my first workout compares to the one I'll do on the 31st. I figured out that Blogger includes Labels for the posts, so I can start tagging per challenge or topic. As the month goes on, I'm thinking a Dry January as well as No (Obvious) Sugar Added sounds like two challenges that would work well together. I put in (Obvious) as I'm not interested in scolding myself if I go out to eat and later find out a dressing happened to have a few grams of sugar. I'll avoid things that obviously have sugar, like avoiding Balsamic Vinaigrette and instead always dressing salads with red wine vinegar, which doesn't have sugar. I don't want to be the annoying person when I go out to eat, and I also don't want to stop going out to eat for the month. But while it's December, the wine and cheese continues on... Today's wine is another Red


Work was great - I finished a report and upgraded the report projects for SQL Server 2012 and went to a few meetings and had a fancy lunch with my coworkers for our end of year lunch. Went to the doctor for a physical, and then to the gym and happily, I'm now home. Time to relax and have some wine. I've never heard of Viognier. It smells dry and light, and of a fruit I can't quite place, and something else I can't place. It's a very strange wine - not strange as in bad, but strange as in unfamiliar. It tastes dry and unfamiliar. The description says "Bursting with aromas of fruit salad, apricot and almond, this lovely wine is dry and full bodied." Ah. Well, I'm not crazy about apricot, so it's not unusual I can't pick it out unless it's overpowering. I rarely eat apricot, and generally by mistake. It's a nice wine for a drier wine. How about the cheese? Ah, Edam! The nice, mild, a bit more complex than Havarti cheese. It he

Another busy day!

More solving problems and going to meetings at work. I went to lunch with two friends to catch up with what's going on in their lives. After work, I went home, changed clothes and went to Stein Mart to pick up a package, and then to the gym. At the gym, I was just tired. Apparently two weeks of daily strength exercises eventually catches up, but I was successful going through my arm and chest routine, and I'll continue the challenge. After all, I'm now more than half way through it! Speaking of being more than half way through something, it's time for wine and cheese! It's a Carignan! I have no idea what that is. Let's find out! It smells jammy and of leather. Holy tannins, Batman! However, once you are used to it, it's not bad. It tastes of leather and is a bit smoky. I'm having a tough time figuring out what fruit it has - plum? Raspberry? Maybe it's blackberry. Ok, time to stop guessing and actually read the bottle. "Rich and fruity wi

Sauvignon Blanc and White Cheddar

Another successful day at the gym, and a weird lunch. I ate Loma Linda Italian Bolognese with Pasta , and it was ... food ... that I don't intend to eat ever again. I guess if nuclear winter happens and that was the last thing in the shelter pantry I would eat it. But onto better food, I hope: Ah, the Sauvignon Blanc again! It smells light and sweet, like honey and melon. The taste, however is much tarter. It tastes of pear and apple and honey. Since I've already had the Sauvignon Blanc before, I decided to aerate it to see how that changes the characteristics. It has a more mellow smell. Still sweet and of honey, but not as pronounced. The taste, though is much mellower and has a milder honey taste. The white cheddar smells a lot like the aged cheddar. It's firm and mild and nice, but nothing amazing nor complex. Even paired with the wine, it does nothing. It's an inoffensive pair. Nothing detracts, but they don't add another element to the cheese or wi

Day 14: a repeat of red day??

Today, I got up early and was at the gym by 8am. It was leg and core day, so I worked on machine exercises for legs, then two sets of ten sit ups on sit up bench, and finally my PT exercises for my knees and hips. Finally got myself up to a weight where I was exhausted when I left the gym. I came home and did a few chores to get the place back to tidy and clean, and then met a friend for coffee.  Today's wine is... Red blend again? Okay, no problem. I seem to remember it being non offensive before, but not much else. It smells like.... well, like a boring mixture of softer red wines. It tastes of cherry and is relatively soft. Once again, it isn't terribly complex and is just a nice drinkable wine. Ah, I guess we're having Red Day #2. Red Leicester cheese. It might have sat a bit too long somewhere - this piece of cheese was much harder than its repeat from Day 9. Even in the picture, the cheese looks different and has some either freezer burn or maybe some mo

Relaxing Friday

After my terribly busy week, I've really relaxed today. Caught up on Seth Meyers's show, read the news, went to the gym, watched Matt D'Avella's new video, listened to some music and watched an episode of The Reassembler with James May. I hope they do another season at some point, but it seems that we'll just get two seasons - only seven episodes in total. I'd watch that fellow put things back together again any day. Last night, I enjoyed dinner and an unusual Christmas service. It was for those who are experiencing loss or otherwise aren't up to the usual clamor and joy the usual Christmas service provides. It was appropriately somber and quiet. I went because one of my friends was playing and singing a song during the service. She did so marvelously well! Ok, onto today's wine and cheese task. Today we have a lovely Pinot Grigio! It smells crisp and bright, but there aren't any standout fruits or spices in the aroma. Maybe a bit of apple. Th

Everything's down!!!

What a day! We had the end of year company brunch/lunch/activity and everyone got the rest of the day off. One of my coworkers and I were lamenting having to go, because while we think we work with excellent people, we personally aren't fans of company sanctioned fun. It started at 10:30... but serious production issues started at 10:24. So half the IT group needed to stay in order to diagnose, fix, test and redeploy. Happily, I skipped out on the brunch (though I did sneak in to grab a breakfast sandwich) and helped the team by deploying code fixes and switch plugins and configure file settings. It was much better than most activities, and still accomplished the same goal. A team of people banded together in a time of crisis to act swiftly and fix an issue in a timely manner without any disagreements or complaints. We worked so hard, though, it felt like we did work an 8 hour day... just in 4 hours. Since we missed the brunch, the CIO came over to thank us for our help in fixing t

Day 11: Too much to do!

Another full day at work. Went to one of my favorite Mexican places for lunch, came back to patch some servers and send out some data, and after work, I went to the gym. I was in a rush, because I had planned to go to have dinner with one of my friends at 6:30, and I was leaving the office at 5:06. Luckily I switch between arm/chest routine and leg/core routine, and my arm/chest routine is shorter and what was planned for today. I went through the routine with probably shorter rest segments than I should have, but was able to finish it up, change and get to the other side of town on time! She and I hadn't been able to visit for more than a month because we were traveling at different times last month, and I was ill, then she wasn't feeling well, but we finally got to chat about the holidays and places we went and things we want to do soon - I agreed to host a board game night next month, so I'll have that on my agenda. The wine was a malbec. It had a nice strong but pl

Day 10 of Gym and Wine and Cheese!

I had a really productive day today! Wrote a report for an internal client, and sent a ton of data to an external client, deployed code, went to meetings, answered questions, created a DB linked server for the CIO, explained processes and enjoyed talking to friends. After that, I went to the gym, did my leg and core exercises, and came home to eat the rest of my Spanish Chickpeas and Rice. The verdict on the dinner after 2 additional cups of simmered chicken broth? Marginally better. I guess for brown rice, it needs to be cook well before it's incorporated into the skillet with the rest of the ingredients. Good to know for next time - it really is a tasty recipe. I would also double the spices, but that's just me. After dinner, it was time to put up the tree! I enjoyed looking at the ornaments family and friends have given me over the years. It was fun to decorate the place, and put all the things on the tree. Enough of that, though. Time for wine! Ah, a Pinot Gr

Red day

I am exhausted! I went to sleep last night at 10pm, but woke up at 3:15am and couldn't get back to sleep until after 5am. At work, I realized that I had brought my workout clothes but not my workout book telling me what to do at which weight. I also had a 15% off coupon about to expire, from Total Wine. So, at the end of the day, I ordered a few bottles of wine, picked them up from the store, and went home. I really, really wanted to just stop and not change my clothes for the gym, but I kept going. I tossed my laundry in the washer, changed my clothes and headed to the gym. Arm/chest exercises, and was able to increase some of the weights. Exciting! I got home, tossed the clothes in the washer into the dryer, and started dinner. I made Spanish Chickpeas in Rice from BudgetBytes. I didn't have long grain white rice, but did have some brown rice, and I also replaced the vegetable broth with chicken broth, and I didn't have any garlic cloves, so I tossed in some garlic salt.

Leg day, Durham day and Chenin Blanc & tomato and olive Gouda

Today was leg and core day and I also drove out to Durham to visit with one of my friends who owns a yoga studio. We spent a lot of time catching up and discussing exciting ideas in growing her business. We went to a lovely little restaurant called Bull and Bean and ate eggs benedict and drank copious amounts of coffee. But now it's well past noon, which means it's wine time! The Chenin Blanc smells light and crisp with hints of apple. There are significant tannins but the wine is still relatively sweet. I can taste apple and a little bit of pear. It's very light so there isn't anything particularly overpowering. The description on the bottle: "Bursting with flavors of guava, ripe apple and pear. Refreshing and lively, this is a delicious and elegant wine." Unless I misunderstand the adjective elegant when applied to white wine, I don't think that this wine quite gets the elegant title. It certainly isn't bad, and if someone offered me a glass o

Rose and a plain ol' Gouda

Another 'yes, I went to the gym!' day. Did legs and core yesterday, so I did arms and chest today. I've done a full week of gym and I really don't see how I would fail my challenge unless I get very sick or injured. I'm able to make sure my social calendar has enough leeway so that I'll still easily get my work out in. But you're here for today's wine and cheese review, I know. Today's wine is a chilled rose wine. (I just can't be bothered to find the alt code to get the correct e.) The cheese just says Gouda. Feels like a let down after eating the other fancy goudas before it! But before I start snacking on the cheese, let's have a look at today's wine. It smells both sweet and tart and light. The aroma is indeed light, and I really have to stick my nose in the glass to get a good amount of the smell to tell what I'm about to taste. However, it smells very pleasant. The taste is MUCH more tart than the smell lead

A Shiraz and a Hot and Spicy Gouda

Got all the things done that I wanted to get done today. I went to the gym - decided today is leg day. My friend mentioned that since I'm going every day, I could switch up leg day and arm day and cut my routine time in half. So, I was in an out of the gym within 20 minutes. It was nice, but also felt like I wasn't doing enough, even though my legs were very tired. After that, I went to the grocery store and capitalized on some sales. Bought $93 of groceries for $66 and have a well stocked fridge and pantry for the rest of the month. I stopped at my favorite sandwich shop, that is closing forever on December 12th, for a Porky Pita, a pulled pork with Eastern NC sauce, coleslaw, and per my request, some habanero pickled onions. Excellent! I'm going to be so sad when they close up next week. But, onto the wine and cheese of the day! The South African Shiraz was... full of tannins and fermented grapes, and not much else. There weren't any outstanding aromas... and

Chardonnay and Herbed Gouda and the fifth day for the gym

Went to the gym and ran my routine like usual. Happily increased a few of the weights for some exercises. Came home and ate some Thai leftovers. But now we're to the big event of the evening! Here's day 5's wine: A chilled Chardonnay! To go with: Herbed Gouda! The wine is a middle of the road Chardonnay. Light, bright, with notes of apple and some peach. More like a semi-sweet, and I don't feel like it is an over oaked wine, thought this one was made in Australia, which usually uses oak barrels in their winemaking process. I like it! The herbed gouda smells absolutely wonderful. I feel really dumb for not being able to pick out the herbs used, as my brain keeps thinking onion, and that's not a usual seasoning for cheese. Perhaps tasting it will allow me to pick out specific herbs? I think I see dill and oregano. It is wonderfully tasty, and I'd happily eat a block of it. Clearly I need some sort of spice/culinary class so I can find out exactly

Day 4, likely the toughest day of them all

Today's schedule was stacked against me. Instead of sleeping until 6am and then heading to work, I woke up at 4am and stared at the ceiling wishing I could fall asleep until 6am. Instead of rushing off to the gym after work, I had a wonderful dinner with a good friend of mine. After dinner, I ran into another friend and talked to her for a bit. It wasn't till 7:36 that I was actually leaving for the gym. I knew today would be the only day that would be like this, and that I'd be upset that I did not do the challenge all 30 days, and fail so early on! So while my brain tried to convince itself that it just wanted to go home and sit on the couch and not exercise, I let it continue to think thoughts while I drove myself to the gym and went through my routine. Success! I went to the gym on my planned hardest day of the challenge! On to the wine and cheese: It's a Spanish Tempranillo. I've never heard of that before. The description says "Rounded and fruity

Day 3 - Gym, Merlot Rose, and Aged Cheddar

Excellent day at the gym. I increased several of the weights on most of the machines I used, then followed up with my PT exercises. I like the idea of having a rest day where I drop to a very light weight and focus on form, and the next day go back to a weight that challenges me. I don't want to exhaust myself by day 5 when this is a 30 day challenge. Not surprisingly, I definitely need to work on my shoulder muscles. I'll just keep doing my best and increasing the weight on weight-not-rest days as I move forward. The wine for day 3 is a Merlot Rose. Another "chill before serving" wine. And the cheese is an Aged Cheddar. The wine is smooth, but that might just be in comparison to day one's Brut and day two's Sauvignon Blanc. This is light, smells more tart than it tastes, and I can taste berry and a bit of apple. It has a nice mouthfeel and is very pleasant to drink. It's sweet, but not cloyingly so. The cheese, an aged cheddar, smells, well, l