Monday, December 15, 2008

All aboard to Bethlehem

Every year in Burnet, Texas, about 50 miles NW of Austin, the First Baptist church opens its Main Street Bethlehem recreation. About an hour's drive, at least 2 hours in line, and you wonder, "This had better be worth it!" It certainly is!

Free or for a donation, you enter into an amazing rock and rustic ancient city complete with a stable cave and manger scene. The live actors entertain showing the way the citizens lived and worked, and always found beautiful ways to incorporate the rumors of the tiny Messiah into their conversations. Roman soldiers, campers, shop keepers, artisans, a tax collector, prisoners, and more, on about an acre of permanent structures. There's a wonderful dinner train that runs between Bethlehem and other surrounding cities, so ignoring the overhead eletrical wires, the few electric lights inside, the modern dress and cameras of the patrons, and the train horn blaring, "All aboard!" you really can believe you might have been there! Be sure to indulge in the baker's sweet bread.

Bethlehem Bread recipe
2 1/2 lbs flour
2 1/4 c milk
2 tsp salt
9 Tb sugar
1/2 c shortening
2 pkg/2 Tb active dry yeast

Combine all ingredients except flour, and pour into a well in the center of flour. Mix well and knead about 10 minutes. Rise until double in size, punch down and rise again. Or, pour all ingredients into bread machine on "dough" cycle as directed by manufacturer.

Roll dough into large rectangles, about 9"x13". Brush top with melted shortening and sprinkle with sugar. Rise until double in size. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until golden. Makes a whole lot. To serve, slice into small rectangles, praise the Messiah, and gobble down. Be sure to pass some through the bars to the prisoner behind you.

If you can make it next year, I highly recommend it! We'll go again. Meet us in the camper's section, and we'll break some bread together.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Merry Christmas from your Pals

Santa came early this year at our neighborhood party. My kids all loved his real beard, and asked for wonderful sorts of things like i-pods, PS DS, and other acronyms I can't afford. Somehow we were all able to find a clean red shirt for the event. Except those who could only find white or burgundy shirts. Close enough, I say! One of the benefits of having a color-blind husband, I guess.
I was hired to do the Santa photos, and at the last minute chickened out and hired a real pro! Which was an excellent decision based on the junk that's been coming out of my camera lately, and the fact that I have a nursing infant. The Santa provided all the props, the photographer had lights and equipment that cost more than my house, and I got the opportunity to observe without any pressure what a print-on-site photo job is really like. I designed all the card templates for the clients to choose from and learned how to use a beautiful portable mini photo lab. And the photographer, as a commercial specialist, didn't quibble over sharing the digital copy with us. By next year, I think I can handle this "grip and grin, print!" type of job. Halfway through the evening, Troy brought me the baby to nurse, and when I brought her back he said he'd rather print photos. So not only did I get to enjoy most of our own party, but he figured out how to get that printer to do things even the photographer hadn't known. So Merry Christmas from our Pals to yours!
For commercial or family photography in the Austin Metro area,

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'm 5% skinnier today

How to use a body-fat caliper: (and in case you're a little too obsessed like I am, order them here or you can pay full price at

Read the instructions, even if you've already been using the thing for 3 years. That little slider-ma-bob-thingy on there, you're supposed to slide that all the way the right before measuring. That way, when the calipers click into position, that black line on there tells you how many millimeters you've pinched. Do NOT use the edge of the jaws themselves where the yellow line is, that is NOT where you're supposed to read the measurement.
So, instead of 12mm=25% body fat, I'm in fact 9mm=20% body fat. As my goal was to get to 20% body fat, I'm done. Easiest fitness goal I've ever reached. All praise to technical error paired with a touch of idiocy. Now I can be skinny and stupid. I feel my modeling contract coming on.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pink Vinyl dumb bells Rant

WHAT?! This is supposed to be from a bodybuilding web site, and they actually have pink vinyl dumb bells on their header graphic?! I guarantee she didn't get abs like those hefting around silly little wastes of time with ridiculous form! Look at the guy, shredded, a big metal manly heavy weight like that, and you wonder why women are so confused about how to get really lean and fit?
Ladies, let me clear up something for you: you are not a man, and there is NO WAY you're going to get big and bulky like a man if you lift heavy. You want to get beautiful definition? Lift heavy. You want to be lean? Lift heavy. While 90% of your success is how much food you put in your mouth (there's no way you can out-exercise a bad diet), to get what you want from your fitness goals, lift HEAVY! Throw the pink vinyl dumb bells in the trash, and for good measure chuck the turquoise vinyl ones in there too. Unless you have toddlers who lift with you like I do, get rid of 'em because that's all they're good for!

If you freak out at anything over 20lbs, then I'm talkin' to YOU! If you know what you should be doing and not doing it because you're too "lazy" or "girlie," shame on you! But if you really want to be smart about your fitness and doing the wrong thing because you don't know any differently, I'm talkin' to YOU! All the "lift light with high reps for fat loss" advice is just not true.
My golden beginner tip of the day: do 2 sets of 12 reps, or 3 sets of 8 reps as HEAVY as you can lift! By the last 2 you should be suffering failure. If you are trying to lift 12, and only get to 10, that's fine: you're lifting heavy enough. If you get to 12 and say, "I can do 15," then you are almost wasting your time. The only thing I can say to that is, "Doing something is better than doing nothing. Slightly."
Don't give me the "I get too big," excuse. Unless you are on steroids, that really just means you are too fat. Brutal honesty time here. Get your body fat under 20%, even just down to 20%, and tell me you're too big because I'm sure I'll never hear from you.
Trust me on this one. Just try it. Up your weights, never do more than 24 reps of an exercise (2x12 or 3x8 or 4x6), and you'll see what I mean. I lift as heavy as I can safely handle, and it's still not nearly as much weight as my husband can throw in the air. Do you see me sporting guns like a man?
Pink vinyl dumb bells...on a bodybuilding site! Excuse me while I go laugh, except I might have to gag first. And come on, you have to give me credit for not making any dumb bell jokes about this. I guess I just ruined it.