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Goodbye, Shortest Day of the Year

Saturday night at around 9 p.m. the sun was the farthest south in the Northern Hemisphere, otherwise known as the Winter Solstice.  This day also marks the first day of winter in the astronomical definition and winter lasts until the vernal equinox March 20.  The Winter Solstice marks the lengthening of days, and as such, is celebrated as a time of rebirth in many cultures.  You can see why the early Christians hijacked the day to celebrate Jesus’s birth, but I’m not here to start any controversies.  I’m here to celebrate the days getting longer. 

Living in the Southern part of the US means our days are not as drastically long or short as our Northern neighbors, but I really miss my early morning walks this time of year.  And though our house has a lot of windows and gets a lot of light, there isn’t really enough sunshine during the day, so I use a Verilux Happy Light on my desk, and though it is quite bright to start out the day, I find using it really is a mood booster.

Happy Light

Winter or summer, I try to get at least one hour of real sunlight a day.  That’s actually harder to do in the summer when temps are over 110 degrees, so those blocks are usually spent in the pool or walks as early in the morning as I can get.

In keeping with days getting longer, I’m also looking forward to the New Year.  Don’t get me wrong, I have had a wonderful holiday season spending time with friends and family, but right now everything is about Christmas and it’s wearing thin on me. 

We had a beautiful walk along the Arizona canal with DF Denisse and took some time to wander through the grounds and lobby at the Arizona Biltmore.  The property and surroundings are stunning, but the grounds were under construction, so not quite as fancy was I was hoping.  They have a wall of fame in the lobby with pictures of famous visitors over the years.  Notably this time of year, Irving Berlin composed White Christmas while lounging at the pool.  Hmm, no wonder there was no hope for a white Christmas.

Arizona Biltmore

What I’m Reading

I know this doesn’t count as reading, but we binge watched an old cult series I read about and loved it.  I mention it here because it took away from some of my reading time and I didn’t get as much done as usual.  I’m also not walking as much so I’m not finished with my audio book.  The show was Firefly from 2002.  It takes place in the future, but has half of its elements from the wild West.  It’s very imaginative, funny, and unfortunately, was short-lived.  Apparently the cult fan base was disappointed too and a full-length movie was made which we now have on order.

What I did finish was Three Men in a Boat and I loved it.  There were so many funny exchanges, but I especially loved everything having to do with the narrators terrier and his part of the adventure.  Recommend!

I am reading The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris who wrote Chocolat.  I’m sure NOTHING can ever compare to the love I felt for that book (and was able to feel for the movie, too!), but it gets good reviews and I’m enjoying it so far.

I am listening to The Bookwoman’s Last Fling and loving the references to Centennial Racetrack in Littleon, Colorado.  I grew up down the street from the track and spent my summers babysitting for a jockey’s family.  The racetrack closed in the 1980s and is now housing along the Platte River.  It’s a good book and makes me feel nostalgic all at the same time.

What I’m Eating

As I alluded to before, I am on an elimination diet and am very restricted on what I can eat and when I can eat.  I love spicy food and eat lots of Mexican and I hated giving that up.  Never fear, Trader Joe’s to the rescue once again.  I bought some gluten-free tortillas and made some chicken fajitas which turned out delish.  The tortillas really held up their end of the meal and I was pleased.  Here’s a pic of the ingredients.  Here’s what I did:

Chicken Fajitas

Marinade chicken a couple hours in

  • Juice of a lime
  • Olive or avocado oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Ground cumin
  • Chile Lime seasoning

Saute chicken in an olive-oil spayed pan and when almost done add thinly sliced vegetables (I used zucchini and bell peppers)

Prepare white rice (I used the frozen TJ’s jasmine rice which takes three minutes in the microwave and turns out perfect

Heat tortilla according to package instructions and fill with warm ingredients.  Top with chopped tomato and grated cheddar

What I’m Doing

I committed to doing some new workout routines this week and I actually came through for myself.  Since I’m back at work, I now have to work out early in the morning and curtail it by working hours (instead the hours a day I was spending before) so this is a good time for a change.  I did a Jenny Ford YouTube step video one morning using the group exercise room at our gym which is empty at that early hour.  I finished up with an ab routine, biceps curls and triceps dips.  That workout came in at just over one hour.  Friday I took Amanda’s Kickology 70-minute class.  John and I took about an hour walk in the late afternoon that day as well.  I took two barre classes, a strength training class and did a couple of short treadmill runs and one additional weight day during the week.  I really don’t count my walks as my cardio exercise because I’m not getting my heart rate up, but I think it’s better than sitting on the couch. 

My other excitement this week was that we met with a designer at the Container Store and I’m getting a little master closet refresh in January.  Nothing fancy, just getting rid of a couple of old dressers that are inefficient better utilizing the space I have.

May you feel the peace of the season and enjoy your week.