Tis the Season to be Social

What is it about summer that makes people suddenly want to gather together in large groups and be merry?

Here are some photos from my various diet-busting (but fun!) weekend outings this month:

The 3rd Annual John Stone Fitness Cheat Meal, Saturday, June 9, 2007 at Sam Seltzer’s Steakhouse in Altamonte Springs, FL.

Group JSF photo

My karaoke buddy Sarah’s Karaoke and Sushi birthday dinner at Kimono’s at the Disney Dolphin and Swan resort on June 15.

The whole Gran Cru karaoke crew at Kimono's!
I am so ROCKING the Summer of '69 here.

My co-worker Ed’s 80’s Karaoke Party, Saturday, June 23.

Me and the n-Space crew
Chris is tearing it up in Guitar Hero with co-worker Alex

Before your wedding, is it normal…

…to keep having dreams that you are already married but somehow can’t remember anything at all about the ceremony or reception?

Honestly, I don’t FEEL stressed about the wedding when I’m awake, but every few days I have a dream that it’s the day after the wedding already or that I’m in the middle of the reception. It’s just weird because the ceremony itself is always skipped. I have this sense of relief that everything is finally over coupled with a feeling of disappointment that I somehow blacked out during all the good parts, hah!

Stuff to do for the next week and a half:

– My sister arrives tomorrow night to help with some of the last wedding details, including helping me hem my $99 David’s Bridal gown and putting together all of the party favor boxes.

– Finish writing vows and email them to the officiant

– Send wedding day schedule to DJ, photographer, and videographer

– Try not to hyperventilate or :eekb: when thinking about how much I paid last Saturday at the florist for a few pounds of artistically-arranged flowers.

– Call up Taiwanese and American bakeries and order 6 regular sized cakes from each. (Big fat wedding cakes are overrated. I’d rather let my guests pick what they want from a selection like this: Decadent Desserts at Publix and fruity Taiwanese cakes.)

– Finish Badgley Mischka dress, just in case.

– Sew strapless, flared Butterick (B4389) dress for rehearsal dinner. I have it already cut out in a slightly stretchy gunmetal blue-grey satin with a textured white chiffon overlay printed with stylized blue-grey leaves.

– Keep up with my meals and workouts. I’m putting the TT hardcore fat loss program on hold and going on autopilot with a combination of Yourself Fitness, P90X, Forza, and interval cardio workouts for the next two weeks. I have been forced to admit that I have too much stuff to do and need the convenience of being able to fall out of bed into my trusty Asics and just start doing my daily workout clad in my PJs without going through the usual pre-gym rigamarole of finding a semi-cute outfit, convincing my hair not to stand straight up, eating something light at least 30 minutes before my TT session so I won’t have a lame workout, and driving out to the gym.

I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of friends and family next week, but whew…a small part of me (which apparently likes to take over my REM sleep) really does wish this was all behind me already.

That Key West honeymoon can’t arrive soon enough for me.


Photo Area Upgrade

In case any of you notice some images not showing up around here, don’t be alarmed. I’m just upgrading my Gallery to v. 2.2! Hopefully things will be working properly by Wednesday afternoon.


Oh, and TT Hard Core Fat Loss is kicking my ass. If you picked up the TT for Fat Loss package recently and got the HCFL manual as a bonus, give it a shot when you are bored with your regular routine.

TT HCFL W1D4: Busy is Good

I like being busy and having my days fully scheduled. When every minute of my waking hours is accounted for, I don’t have time to overthink my workouts or nutrition. I just do my planned workout, eat my planned meals, and move onto the next task at work. It’s when my days are completely unstructured that things go awry.

If I should ever have to take a break from my career (and when I reach that state of nirvana known as retirement), I will still follow a set schedule (plugged into my ever-present Treo calendar) and keep myself busy learning new things, hitting the gym at a regular hour each day, gardening, taking freelance art commissions, writing and volunteering.

Those things that give so many people trouble in life–finances, staying in shape, eating right–all fall into place naturally if you take the time to assess your current status, write down your goals, put the automatic systems in place to achieve those goals, and then keep yourself busy enough each day to prevent yourself from self-sabotaging your own efforts.


1) Vogue 2838 Badgley Mischka gown in white crepe-back satin and chiffon about 75% complete. I need to sew in the chiffon godet inserts in the skirt, add the neck tie with beading, take in the waist slightly, and hem the dress. This will either be my primary wedding dress or an alternate selection in case my sister and I mess up the $99 David’s Bridal off-the-rack gown that needs to be hemmed and tailored for my long torso.

==> Total cost of materials (purchased before start of challenge, of course) was $40.
==> Estimated time spent on project so far: 8 hours

2) Wore Threadless “Nesting Dolls” tee that I altered (tapered sides to fit waist properly) today.

==> Est. time: 5 minutes

1) BB Complex (3 rounds @ 35 lbs)

Bodyweight Circuit (3 rounds)
2A) Jumping Jacks (60)
2B) Spiderman Pushup (8 per side)
2C) Siff Squat (25)
2D) Waiter’s Bow (15)
2E) Burpees (10)

Major Geek

So I took the Geek Test again today after noticing Cathy’s link to it in her blog. I remember hitting this thing up a few years ago and feeling unaccountably annoyed because some of my co-workers at n-Space scored higher than I did. (Damn programmers!)

Anyhow, at the grand old age of 32….

major geek

39.05325% on the Geek Scale, yeah!


TT HCFL W1D3: The Get Out Of Bed Earlier Plan

I’ve been away long enough, I think!

I’m still working on two different titles at the office that are really starting to ramp up in their development cycles, and the wedding is a mere 3.5 weeks away, so you could say that my time is at a premium these days.

I started strong with the TT Hard Core Fat Loss program this Monday (I’m “resetting” my logging of this cycle to W1 since my schedule was so screwed up last week), but was denied my usual morning workout times the past two mornings by:

1) an early visit by the air conditioner technician to check out the mysterious leak that has been creating a soggy wet spot in the hallway carpet for the past week (the pan inside the unit has rusted and the whole thing may need to be replaced–a $2400-$4200 repair, depending on whether we replace the fan outside, too)

2) wedding planning-induced insomnia and a very early be-at-your-desk-a-major-publisher-is-visiting-us work day today.

I will hit the Day 2 workout (barbell complexes plus a 4-exercise bodyweight cardio sequence) for the first time tonight after work. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be a regular quitting time tonight. I’ll be spending most of my lunch break attempting to stretch out my glutes and hamstrings and alleviate some of the heinous DOMS from Monday’s three sets of 60 deadlifts.

I’m keeping my intake at an average of 1500-1600 clean calories for now, keeping up with my water and green tea quota, and just focusing on not munching at night when I get home. My meal plan is more or less SGX/TT/PN in style with starchy carbs either eaten early in the morning or centered around workouts only, but I allow myself to have fruit as a carb later in the day if I’m just not feeling a straight protein/veggie/healthy fat craving. This seems to be working fine for fat loss without making me miserable and weak, so I plan to just cruise along like this through the wedding.

I’ve also written down my core values (in life and finances) and the top 7 or so life goals for the next 3 years as suggested by David Bach in Smart Women/Couples Finish Rich and outlined the steps I’ll need to take to achieve them in excruciating but very satisfying (if you are mildly OCD like me) detail in my Palm OS Shadowplan program.

The first major step was to revise and streamline my daily schedule to make room for some self-directed continuing education (learning PHP, mastering certain graphics programs, drawing time, etc.). In the process, I finally admitted to myself that an earlier wake up and bed time are in order because I simply cannot predict how much time or energy I will have at the end of the day to accomplish these things. I’ve already observed the damaging influence of the Evening Couch Monster, the Three Emotionally-Needy Felines, and Random Social Events on my intentions to exercise in the PM hours; they have the same negative effect on my drive to do ANYTHING productive after work.

I’m even going to keep up with the early mornings on the weekends in order to knock out the required stuff (workouts, grocery shopping, gardening, bills, bulk cooking, laundry) before 12:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday each week. About 80% of the time this will get my major weekly duties and two meals out of the way before Chris has even been awake for more than an hour.


Monday’s Workout
1A) DB Flat Press (3×6 @ 40 lbs)
1B) DB Row (3×6 @ 40 lbs)
2A) DB Triple Press (3×6 @ 25 lbs)
2B) BB Row (3×10 @ 55 lbs)
3) Deadlift (3×20 @ 65 lbs)

Interval Workout A – Burpees (3 sets)

One Year DIY Clothing Experiment

I am taking a break from posting about the wedding, my workouts, and food logs because I am so buried in it in everyday life now that I just need to talk about other stuff for a while. I will say that we finally met with the notary who will be our officiant, received about 75% of our party favor stuff from Oriental Trading, placed orders for the rest (pretty red bulk order chopsticks from Asianideas.com), and still need to figure out how to do flowers for under $150.

Last night I also tried on the red Chinese qipao dress I bought a few years ago in California and was somewhat surprised to discover that while my backside (barely) fits into the thing, my back and shoulders are now too broad for the bodice. I had altered it a bit after my first BFL challenge in 2004 by taking it in at the side seams to adjust for my long back-waist length, but I remember that it fit my upper body very well back then.

Not so much last night. I had to struggle to pull the dress on over my head, and when it was time to get back out of it…well, it got stuck right around my lower shoulder blades and would NOT come off.


I had to dig out my seam ripper from my sewing basket and tear out the stitches from my alteration just to give myself enough ease to escape from the dress.

I guess I’ve finally succeeded in bulking up my top half.

My lower half should come down enough in the next 4.5 weeks to fit comfortably in the dress, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do much about the extra muscle in my back, chest, and shoulders now.

As much as I hate to spend more money on another unitasker of a dress, I opted to order a new red qipao from Chinasprout that should make my parents happy when it’s time to do the traditional costume change at the reception.

And that is my last official ready-to-wear clothing purchase for the next year.

I recently came across artist Alex Martin’s Brown Dress Project, in which she made and wore the same brown dress for 365 days, and her more recently-begun Recycling Project, which entails wearing only clothing that she RE-makes herself out of the materials and clothes already in her closet.

I am not quite as brave and will make an exception for one category of items that I don’t know how to make myself–decent sport socks–but otherwise, I am going to give her challenge a go to the best of my ability. I am by no means a clotheshorse, but even I have managed to amass more than enough sale clothing, clearance bolts of fabric, 99 cent patterns, and $0.10 zippers (from a Hancock Fabric liquidation sale) to make and re-make at least a year’s worth of new-to-me clothes. My packrat, bulk bargain-shopping ways have also ensured that I have enough spare pairs of last season’s clearance running shoes to keep me shod without risking injury from working out in flat kicks that are past their prime.

I am doing this for several reasons:

  1. I want to save some extra money to pay off my 2002 Toyota Camry early and start putting away money in an emergency fund.
  2. I am tired of looking at the stash of unmade patterns and fabric in my home office closet and really want to turn all of those raw materials into wearable clothing before I start accumulating more.
  3. I need a reason to get off my butt and be creative again in some way. I think that attempting to knock off current fashions and design my own stuff using only the materials at hand for a year should do the trick.
  4. My wardrobe is starting to skew heavily toward nothing but workout clothes, jeans, and amusing t-shirts from Threadless. I need a closet makeover!
  5. I want to prove that “home-sewn” doesn’t necessarily mean “un-hip” and “godawful fugly.”
  6. I hate shopping for clothes at the mall.

So in the name of frugality, creativity, and the DIY spirit of reuse, recycle, or repurpose, I am cutting off all spending on clothing, shoes, fabric and accessories for myself through June 6, 2008 and following these DIY Clothing Experiment rules:

  • I can still wear and use anything already in my wardrobe, but if I want something new, I have to make or re-make it myself using fabric, patterns, old clothes, thread, magazines, books and notions I already own as of today, June 7, 2007, or freely available sources such as library books or online downloads.
  • I am not allowed to cheat by asking for ready-to-wear apparel items for Xmas or my birthday, and I will also refrain from snagging cast off clothing from my local Freecycle groups. The goal is to cut down on the quantity of unwearable (due to unmade state, poor fit, or outdated style) clothing in my house, not add more to it.
  • I will also (sniffle) NOT purchase anything apparel-related–including 99 cent patterns and Halloween costume materials–at fabric and craft stores or even the sad little fabric department at my local Ghetto-Mart.
  • I will complete a minimum of one item every two weeks, even if it is something as simple as taking in the side seams of a t-shirt so it fits properly. Items made as gifts for other people also count.
  • Photos of the materials used and of the final product of each item of clothing will be posted to this blog.
  • A minimum of two self-made or altered items will be worn each week.
  • I must use up all of these two bolts of pink boucle’ suiting fabric I picked up at the Hancock’s inventory clearance for a grand total of $6. In case you were all wondering, yes, a cat bed is definitely on the slate for these bolts.

    Pink Fabric 2

Wish me luck!

Maggie’s Big List of Trialpay Free Software Offers

I first ran across the Trialpay web payment system in February 2007 when Chris, jealous of my AI Roboform To Go password utility, decided to obtain a license for himself. We visited the Roboform site, but before he completed his purchase for the $29.99 Roboform Pro key, I recalled that I had already purchased a second key a while back for just $9.95 that could be used on his computer. We cancelled out of the checkout process and were greeted with a last chance offer by the website: Get a full license for Roboform Pro for free by using the Trialpay link.

Trialpay allows shareware buyers and online service users to obtain legitimate licenses or subscriptions for a growing number of products for free by signing up for trials or making qualifying purchases at such merchant affiliate sites as Discover Card, Petco, Gamefly, Vistaprint, and Stamps.com. Trialpay’s merchant partners essentially pay the shareware developers for their software on behalf of the customer in exchange for sending the customer’s business their way.

The customer gets a full license for software that they want for free or very little if they sign up for a trial offer, or in addition to a purchase they might make anyway at an online merchant (e.g. pet supplies at Petco.com).

The shareware developers wind up getting paid a bit less than their asking price on their sites for their software, but this is still a lot better than losing a sale completely.

The affiliated merchant partners and vendors obtain sales or new customer leads that might not otherwise have turned up.

Trialpay, I assume, gets a cut of everything.

Pretty nifty all around.

I am just bummed out that Chris couldn’t take advantage of the free Roboform offer back in February since the only offer he was interested in at the time (Trialpay’s stable of merchants was rather small back then) was the Discover Card sign up.

Pity he had JUST signed up for the Discover Platinum Gas card earlier that morning.


Anyhow, to keep other people from suffering from the same pangs of regret, I have compiled a wee list of the Trialpay software offers currently available, including some great premium shareware utilities like ZoneAlarm, Roboform (sobs…), WinRAR, Corel Photo Album 6, and ACDSee 9. The primary weakness of the system is that the Trialpay website does not currently have a comprehensive list of participating shareware and online services providers compiled for easy browsing, so software bargain-hunters are forced to play “spot the hidden Trialpay button/link” when the visit the web sites of their favorite applications. Some sites have the Trialpay button prominently displayed, but others try to downplay or even outright hide the Trialpay option until it is clear that the visitor is NOT going to bite the bullet and pay the regular retail price for the software.

If you know of any other Trialpay offers, please let me know, and I’ll add it to the list!

ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite Pro ($49.95)

AI Roboform ($29.99)

Winzip 11.1 Standard ($29.99)

GetRight Download Manager ($29.95 value)

Sunbelt CounterSpy ($19.95 value)

Sunbelt Kerio Personal Firewall ($19.95 value)

WinRAR 3.62 ($29 value)

ACDSee 9 Photo Manager ($39.99)

Corel Photo Album 6 Deluxe ($49.00)

Corel Snapfire Plus ($39.99)

Broderbund Software Titles ($14.99+)
PrinterMaster Advanced Drawing
PrinterMaster Homework Helpers
SendPhotos 5.0
Family Lawyer 2006
Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Print Shop 22
PrintMaster Gold 17
ClickArt Fonts Version 4
MediaShop TunePlus for iPod
WillWriter Deluxe 2005

Photobucket.com 1-Year Subscription ($25.00)

PDA Cookbook Plus (for Palm OS, Windows Mobile) ($24.99)

TweakNow Powerpack 2006 Pro ($34.95)

Auction Sentry Std/Deluxe (eBay sniping tool) ($14.95/$24.95 value)

CSE HTML Validator Standard v8.01 ($69 value)

iPodCopy http://www.wideanglesoftware.com/products.html ($19.99)

SafeChat Parental Controls for Messaging http://www.zihtec.com/en/products.html ($34.95)

KittyXplorer ($24.95), Ana’s Archiver ($19.95), or PuzzleJoy ($9.95)

Quivic Quicktime Video Converter ($14.99)

ColorCache Color Picker/Color Scheme Generator ($34.99)

AmiPic ShareMaster Web/Usenet Mass Downloader/Image Viewer/Search Tool ($49.95)

NovaPDF Standard PDF Document Creator ($29.95)

Zortam MP3 Media Studio Pro 7 ($21.95)

Lightning Download Accelerator ($19.95)

Crazy Eggs Puzzle Game ($19.90)

Magic Workstation Collectible Card Game Deck Manager – http://www.magicworkstation.com/ ($26.90)

AstroMenace 3-D Scrolling Shooter Game ($19.95)

!Easy Screensaver Station ($49.95)

Bitzipper File Compression Utility ($24.95)

ToneThis Pro Image, Ring Tone, and Video Maker for Mobile Phones

GraphicConverter X (Mac/Apple) ($30.00)