Monday, March 28, 2011


The Diet.

Not so good.

Remember when I lost 2 pounds? Well, I've found them! They must have been hiding behind me the whole time, but they're back on my hips, right where they belong. And they brought a friend with them. Yea.

So last week was a really tough diet week. We had the time of our lives at the rodeo, where Jason Aldean gave a private concert for Big John and me (and the two screaming adolescent girls behind my right ear) - or so it seemed. We got caught up in the atmosphere and drank some calories (I NEVER drink - now I remember why.) We ate some really awful funnel cake. (I know, I know.) Then we ate some equally awful pizza. We got back home and back into life in the fast lane immediately. I had tutorials after school, a meeting that I had to cook for, tons of leftovers I just finished eating yesterday, and then it was Friday. I was tired, grumpy, and sick of it all. I seem to remember apple turnovers, cinnamon rolls, and tacos being eaten sometime in the last 3 days - but no one's admitting anything.

I started over today. I did well on eating. I lifted weights before work. I came home and ran (most of) 2 miles. I almost died. Then I started eating a Lean Cuisine I found in the freezer. Ugh. It was going ok until I found the gristle. That does me in EVERY time. That must be why you lose weight eating those frozen meals. You only eat until you find the yucky part, then you can't eat again for  a week.

I know this isn't fascinating stuff, but I have to keep myself honest. I am going to brush my teeth and dream of the 3 vintage peasant blouses I ordered from etsy last night. I was bored, and they will look very cute when I'm skinny, tanned, and my hair grows out. And I'll have no where to wear them. Sigh.

Send me your diet tips. I need inspiration.

Monday, March 21, 2011


WOW! What an amazingly fun day Big John and I had yesterday! It's incredible to think that we could pack all that fun into just 24 hours, but we managed.

Big John and I were invited to the Houston Rodeo by a really good friend from school. And by "school," I mean grade school. We go WAY BACK! June has done pretty well for a Palacios girl, and she is always so sweet to invite us to join her at many events in Houston. Big John's schedule often interferes, but we made it to this occasion. And we had a fabulous time!

(the above photo was taken with the new camera - on point and shoot mode, so nothing really gained yet)

June invited us to pick any show we'd like to see. After checking all schedules - mine, Big John's, the Rodeo's - we settled on Jason Aldean on the last night of the rodeo. We're both big fans of his. In fact, you might be listening to a Jason Aldean song right now - turn your speakers up! We decided we'd make a little getaway out of it, and I took off from work today. June hooked us up with a hotel room and we were all set!

Reservations were made for us at a pretty swanky hotel, right smack in the middle of the Houston Museum District - Hotel ZaZa. It's rumored that Keith Urban stayed at the ZaZa after his gig at the rodeo just a couple of weeks ago! We didn't have any celebrity sitings during our stay. In channeling one of Pioneer Woman's ( themes, I snapped photos of the hotel room.

Notice the claw feet on the bed - wow! There was a HUGE flat screen TV mounted on the mirrors above the table. You can almost see the reflection of the $4 bag of peanut M&Ms that called my name all night long. They tried, but they didn't break me!

I think Big John's camo overnight bag adds a touch of country charm to the otherwise ultra chic urban decor. And yes, that is a naked lady in the picture above the bed. Big John spotted it the second he walked in the door. Go figure. I just ignored her the whole night. I think she was there to remind me I'm on a diet.

Once plans were underway, June also invited us up for brunch before the rodeo. I must admit, I don't do brunch all that often, so we gladly accepted. Reservations were made for Benjy's - a hot spot in the Rice Village area.

I was so excited to see two other old friends (not OLD old - from grade school old) Wanda and Michael, as well as June's beau, Scott. What a treat! Here's a picture of us girls.

Boy did we liven that place up! We had such a great time reminiscing about P-town and the good ol' days! It really was great to grow up here.

We ordered - I got a salad, which I'm sure wasn't as diet-y as I'd hoped.

Big John went the omelet route, since he's never allowed to eat eggs at home. He made sure to tell everyone that! Apparently, Big John wasn't dieting at all.

Once we'd had our fill at Benjy's we all headed back to our hotel, dropped off the vehicles, and caught the metro rail to the Rodeo. This was my first time riding the train in Houston. (I did almost turn into an oncoming train downtown once, but that's a different story.) This was a lot like the airport trains in Atlanta. I don't get out much, so that's my only point of reference. It's NOT like the trains that go through La Ward. Whole different animal! It was pretty quick and a much cheaper way to travel than by cab or paid parking.

We were a little early for the rodeo, so we headed to the shops. Oh darn. Due to my impending lack of salary, I felt compelled to buy something - while I still can. And yes, I see the flaw in that logic. It made perfect sense at the time. We stumbled upon Ann's Turquoise, a shop I've drooled over in the pages of "Cowboys and Indians." She carries gorgeous jewelry, which I couldn't afford, as well as Double D Ranchwear clothing, which I also can't afford. But guess what? Last season's items were ... ... ...

Woo hoo! Nothing says 'spend' like a half-off sale on Double D Ranchwear!

I settled on this jacket. Sooooo cute!

And I'll include this photo for Su.

My first piece of Double D - one of many more to come!! (Made in China? I'm a little disappointed in that.)

And I found this cute little summer top in another nearby shop.

It will look great 11 pounds and a good tan from now!

I also had time to get my favorite pair of Lucchese's shined. They were in desperate need of some love and attention.

I could do this myself at home, but it sure feels nice to be pampered. And they look fabulous!

Once inside, we honestly didn't see too much of the actual rodeo - we were too busy visiting. But we didn't miss a second of the concert. Jason Aldean came out and sang every one of my favorite songs of his. He even threw in a Colt Ford song! That was cool and unexpected.

In the words of the two ear-piercing, screaming girls sitting behind me, "WE LOVE YOU, JASON!"
It was a GREAT show! And a great time with good friends. After all the stresses from work and family estates - it's been a very long year - it was a much needed distraction. I think this little breather will help get me through the next month or so. Thank goodness for good friends and good times!

THANK YOU, JUNE! We had a blast!!

Friday, March 18, 2011


Yesterday, we made a trip to the big city. It was pretty uneventful - we both did fairly well on the diet train, with a slight derailment for Marble Slab. But we got small cups (no waffle bowls) and it was SO worth the calories. The fact that I don't know how many calories we're talking about makes it easier to say that! But when I weighed this morning, I've lost 2 pounds. That's enough to keep me going!!

Today, we made a trip into town. And this time, we filled the pickup with supplies - not all of which were on the list. Hopefully, the most noticable to you, dear readers, is A NEW CAMERA!!!! We actually bought TWO new cameras - one for me and one for Big John. Yeah, I know. That pretty much blows the budget, but I think they will be worth the extra calories, as well!!

(This was taken with the point-and-shoot.)

It all started a while back with Big John mentioning, from time to time, that he wanted to buy a good camera. Not being a photog, I really didn't know what he meant. Our little Sony point-and-shoot digital was pretty cool to me. I know how to use it, and it takes good pictures. I have some problems with blurriness, but that's just me being shaky. I asked him at one point what kind of money we were talking about, and when he replied, I nipped that thought in the bud .... or so I intended. And then Big John decided he was going to work some extra-duty work for the sole purpose of making the money to buy his camera. Now that sounds reasonable, but I was still against the idea. I come around slowly to him spending money sometimes!! Eventually it dawned on me that Big John getting a really good camera could be a great thing for ME! The blog, a book idea I've been mulling over, nature - yeah, I sure could use a good camera. So we went to look/buy today. And the more Big John talked about all the things HE was going to take pictures of, I realized this would be HIS camera. Period. Sure, he assured me, if I needed it for a day and he wasn't planning on using it, he might leave it at home for me. Maybe. If there wasn't the slightest chance he'd need it. And if I took a course on how not to break it. And signed a contract. And gave the scout's pledge. Twice.

So we just bought two of them.

That's how that happened.

Boy, that was dumb.

But that's how we roll.

Now y'all will be bombarded with photos. We've been snapping them ever since we got home. The store had some Sucker Special - the more you bought, the more they discounted it all. I fall for those every time. We ended up with cameras, lenses, cases, filters, tripods, times two. I'm not sure what all that stuff is for, but if Big John was getting it, then I needed it too, by golly.

(We did the same thing with Jeeps.

Only I got mine first. Then he couldn't stand it and got one, too.

Do you see a pattern here? We're not that good for each other.)

Yet we're still together, after 18 years. It's day by day, people.

So brace yourselves, dear readers, for my photo learning experience. I hope to get (much) better over time!

Signing off,

Susie the Photographer!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Okay, first day of Spring "Pause" (one of my 6th grade girls told me that - she said it was too short to be a Spring BREAK! It made me laugh - they're so clever at that age!) Anyway, first day off and I was up early working on some paperwork. I ended up browsing through some blogs - no idea how that happened!!! - and realized I need to share them with you.

The first one I found through one of my followers. I don't know these  people personally, but they're probably from somewhere close by. They are friends of a friend. Check out It's a blog called "Life in the Slow Lane." A couple has taken off for a year-long adventure aboard their 36 foot sailboat! They're keeping a daily blog of their travels - very interesting.

The second is a website at Really cool! That's where I found the calorie counter that I told you about earlier. She's got tons of great tutorials for blogs and websites and cameras, etc. If not sooner, then once I'm done with school I plan to learn everything she's got on there - like how to embed a website in this blog so that I only have to write the name of the site - not all of the www. part. I think you'll really enjoy that one.

Have fun surfing! Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


It's Day 2 of my self-imposed hell - aka: dieting. It is currently 7:10 pm. I have swallowed whole 1265 of my allotted 1200 calories for the day. I see a problem here, don't you? I'm over my limit, yet again. And I'm really hungry. Or I 'think' I'm really hungry. Either way, it seems like I'm hungry.

Other random diet rants:
  • Big John is eating dark chocolate peanut M&Ms about 10 feet away from me. I'm not speaking to him.
  • I was woken up (awakened?) at 11:30 last night by a stray cat howling in the yard. I got up, looked out the back door, AND ATE A PEANUT BUTTER AND DEWBERRY JELLY SANDWICH.
  • I'm not counting the midnight snack calories. I wasn't really aware of my actions. (But I make darn good dewberry jelly!)
  • I'm fixin' to be off for 5 whole days. I'm pretty sure I'll eat like there's no tomorrow.
  • My classroom is right across the hall from the principal's office. Across from the principal's office is the room where they keep all the candy. In the top drawer of the small filing cabinet to the left of the door is a TON of candy. The good kind - chocolate. You don't need to know how I know this. I just do. I am literally 10 steps away from my candy heaven, five days a week. Someone is setting me up for failure.
  • Tums have 5 calories each. You don't need to know how I know that either. But they taste pretty good in a pinch.
Until next time, Friends!
Off to brush my teeth and dream of bread.

Monday, March 14, 2011


A few months ago, I ran across a girl's blog who was determined to lose some weight. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember one thing: she posted her stats for all the world to see. Age, height, WEIGHT. Wow - the courage that would take. I just kept thinking how brave she was. Or maybe how fed up she was with her weight battle.

And I understand her frustration. I'm there. Right there in the middle of being sick and tired of weighing more than I want to weigh. I've fought my weight since the age of 12. I was always tall - and big. Not huge. Just a big girl. I hated it. My weight was an issue all through school - sports and everything - and college and marriage. Then I found aerobics. Leotards, leg warmers, matching headbands - the works. And I became a fitness instructor and personal trainer. I fell in love with it and with my new 'better' body. And I became divorced. That seemed to help the weight battle, for some reason. For many years, I was on the winning side of the weight loss war.

Then Big John happened. (Poor Big John gets blamed for everything.) And after a little while, I was, as we would say in the Education World, on the non-winning side. In the real world it's called LOSING. I was losing the fight. I slowly but surely became less fit and less concerned about my fitness. Once I hurt my back and had to give up my classes, I quickly became unfit. Just flabby and yuck.

I've tried it all when it comes to weight loss. Diets, HerbaLife (that was DUMB), prescription medication, starvation. Starvation usually lasts a couple of hours. Then I eat. I don't have a whole lot of willpower. I've even tried to just accept my 46 year old body and "love myself for me." That didn't work AT ALL. I just got fatter and hated it even more.

So here's the next step. I'm going to admit to you - in cyberspace - that I weigh 1**. (Okay, I chickened out. Hint: it's a 3 digit number that starts with a 1.) And I want to weigh 1**. (Okay, I can't tell you that either.) I'll tell you this: I want to lose 11 pounds. As soon as possible. By yesterday would have been great. But I'll take June. That would be okay. It's not a medical necessity. I'm not obese or diabetic or have blocked arteries - that I'm aware of. But I've got some REALLY cute clothes in that closet that I would love to finish my teaching career in. I am tired of wearing the same 3 pairs of pants over and over and over. I want to look CUTE, damn it.

And I know my problem. There are two parts: I eat too much and don't exercise enough. Magic cure: eat less and exercise more. How simple is that? Duh. Just do it. I found this website at If you go to the Tools section and choose Calorie Target, you can input your current weight, goal weight, gender, height, and activity level. It calculates the daily calorie intake needed to reach your goal weight by a certain time. I should consume 1200 calories to reach my goal weight by June 14. I chose "sedentary" as my activity level just to be on the safe side. I don't think "unfathomable stress" counts as an activity. It probably just increases my cortisol level which contributes to the layer upon layer of blubber around my midsection. I'm just sayin'. School teaching does NOTHING for my figure.

Today was the first day of the rest of my life! I kept a detailed ACCURATE calorie count. I had consumed 1140 of my 1200 allowed calories by 1:00 pm. It's been a LONG afternoon. I had always 'estimated' my calorie intake - apparently I estimate about as well as my sixth graders. I was falling a little short! But I've persevered - it's already 8:00 pm. I've ended up at 1465 calories - 265 over for the day. But I came home and walked 3 miles - fast. Hopefully that will counteract those extra calories.

So if you're interested, I'm going to try this combo: eat less, exercise more, tell you all about it. I'll keep you posted on progress. And if this is the last you hear on the subject, just know I tried. And failed. And I won't want to talk about it!

Alright, I'm off to brush my teeth so I won't be hungry. I've heard that works. I wonder if toothpaste has any calories????

Goodnight All.
Hungy in Jackson County.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


No, I haven't gone off the deep end -  yet.

But I do seem to have a theme with these last couple of posts.

A new documentary premiered last night. It wasn't "The Life and Times of Musical Phenom, Justin Beiber." It wasn't "How to Marry A Gazillionaire." It was actually worth an hour of your attention. The Discovery Channel aired "Texas Drug Wars" on Saturday evening. It gave a view into the constant battle between Texas Rangers and other elite DPS groups and the Mexican drug cartels. This ain't no reality show, people. This is REAL LIFE. This is what's happening in Texas.

I'm sure they'll re-run this first episode. Look for it - I highly recommend it.

(And no, Big John's not on the show!)


Are you a Texan?
Are you an American?
Are you proud to be both?
Are you concerned that our country is being invaded illegally?

Or have you buried your head in the sand, watching E!News and reading People Magazine - thinking that's what our world is all about?

I'm fired up and I want to take a stand. There, I said it.

If you're still reading this, then I may not have offened you. If you aren't, then we probably don't have that much in common anyway.

Check out this website: It's worth your time. This website is sanctioned by the State of Texas' own Department of Agriculture. It's not a scam. Commissioner Todd Staples, featured on the site, adds this:

"America’s war on terrorism has sent thousands of troops overseas, but the reality is, there is a growing threat here at home. At an increasingly alarming rate, violent Mexican drug cartels are invading Texas farms and ranches, threatening the lives of our fellow citizens and jeopardizing our nation’s food supply."

Open your eyes America. We need help down here.


Big John's long-held suspicions have just been confirmed - the black chick is a rooster. Darn it.

I was out hoeing the garden this morning, and heard a very unfamiliar crow. The sad state of my life is that I can identify my animals by ear, much like a REAL mommy can identify her infant's cry in a crowd of babies - or so I've been told. Cows, horses, cats, dogs, chickens - they all have their own voice.

As soon as I heard that unfamiliar little noise, I looked up. The two chicks left from Cloud's hatch were standing on the patio. They're never very far from one another. And then I heard it again - but this time, the black chick's mouth came open at the same time. It took a couple more crows - with him getting stronger each time - for me to put two and two together. That darn "hen" is crowing! SHE's a HE! We've now got 4 roosters - that's 3 too many.

Anybody want a rooster?

P.S. The garden looks great.
And I've got a blister. I hate hoeing.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Sunday started off chilly, but warmed up enough to become a truly glorious day! It didn't hurt that we'd gotten a pretty good jump on our semi-annual plant buying spree. Here, there, and everywhere you look, there are gorgeous green little gems just begging to be taken home and put into the ground. And we've obliged so much that we're out of garden!

It's all in the ground, from seeds - corn, lettuce, okra, squash - to plants - tomatoes, peppers, basil, squash, zucchini, and cilantro - with some red and white potatoes thrown in, too. The garlic, onions, cabbages, spinach, and herbs are surviving and thriving. Once they're done, they'll make way for more.

I worked my way back up to my Redneck Arial Photo spot - on top of the chicken coop - for a bird's eye view of the newly planted garden. I couldn't help but look around while I was up there - everything looks so amazing this time of year. In every direction, grass is greening up, trees are leafing out, chickens are finding fat little spring bugs and grubs, and cows are tearing up the clover. I love spring!

Even old Ticker found a sweet, sunny spot to enjoy the sunshine and soft breeze. If only it could be this way year 'round ...

But it will be 110 degrees before you know it, so we'll just enjoy every second of this weather while we can. And until harvest begins, I'll dream of pickles, tomato sauce, and jam. Heaven!


Spring is definitely on it's way - the baby bunnies are popping up everywhere. Yesterday, Big John snatched two from the Jaws of Death and Destruction (aka Daisy.)

Neither one had any obvious signs of damage - no blood, no guts, no missing limbs. We cleaned up the pigeon cage/chick cage/bunny cage and made them a cozy nest of hay. These two were much tinier than the two we found a few months ago, so we tried bottle feeding them. By this morning, we were down to one bunny. The survivor has been moved into the house and is getting Pedialite until we can take him to a nearby Bunny Rescue lady. I'm pretty sure he won't make it through the night. But we'll do our best.

You gotta love Big John. He's truly my hero!