Bel-Blue closeup

Leave and back to work

Well, after two weeks vacation, yesterday I returned to work.

I must say, this has been some of the best leave ever. And no, I did not travel, did not go anywhere, and spent most of my time at home reorganizing closets, cleaning, sewing and watching way too much Food Network shows and Pawn Stars marathons. I also gained a new respect for Rachael Rae, since I realized that she's cooking much healthier food than Melissa d'Arabian, who loves her butter and sugar as much as Paula Deen, only she teaches you to cook it for very little money.

I can hear my arteries clogging.

Scary.

At any rate, I felt extremely productive. I had not realized just how stressed I had been for the past half year until a week into my leave. Then I went back to costuming and I managed to finish a couple of U.F.O.*, consisting in a blue linen doublet for me and a pair of linen wrist bands for geoffreyapclywd.

* According to the fabulous operafantomet: U.F.O. = "Un-Finished Object"

Additionally, I made a 16th Century black coat for myself which only needs to be hemmed, and cut mockup for an Italian capoto for ballistabob, which I hope to finish before KASF pending shipment of the grey wool that he ordered from bblackandsons.com.

The best part? The black coat was made out of leftover wool lying about in my sewing room. This begs the question, how did I manage to end up with a complete 4 yards of "remnant" wool after finishing the previous project that was no small garment? And why on earth had I purchased 6-7 yards of black wool? The world may never know, but I have a brand new coat and that's what counts.

And yes, pics are coming up as soon as I hem the stuff.

But at least I feel that I got my groove back (for now anyway), and that's no small feat.

I am happy.

Belfebe out.
Winter-Snowy Pine

Christmas Fun!!!

Christmas Eve was a blast. As usual, the boys, Miss E, ballistabob and myself, had our Christmas Eve dinner, and opened presents afterwards. I am thankful for another year in which we can all be all together, healthy and more or less unscathed by the events of 2011. I cannot ask for much more than that.

Miss E, was thrilled to find herself with a plethora of hats, as you can see in picture # 2. The boys were happy to be home, and I was a happy Mama with my two kids around, not to mention having a loving husband who thinks I'm the bees knees.

Dinner was an experiment this year, and it came out very well. We decided to try a "clean" menu, and see if we could make something tasty that screamed "holidays" without breaking the calorie bank. We found a recipe online for orange turkey from the Biggest Loser site that was surprisingly good (it included yummy roasted pears too!). We added some roasted root vegetables and a salad, and it was one of the tastiest meals ever.

Of course, the upside-down pinneaple cake was our downfall, but it was Christmas and we were entitled to our guilty pleasure. Besides, the guys don't care what I feed them as long as there is upside-down pinneaple cake. So there. We ate a clean meal and then we pigged out in cake. Merry Christmas!

Christmas morning saw us driving to Pennsylvania to visit my sweetie's family. We drove at the butt-crack of dawn and arrived there at around 9:30. We had all sorts of fun visiting his folks, opening presents and having lunch. At 2:30 p.m., we drove back home in order to have diner with the boys and follow our Christmas tradition of Chinese food. (Because nothing says Merry Christmas like General Tso's chicken.)

That was another adventure. For the third year in a row, I had wanted to make a reservation at the Peking Gourmet Inn, and this year I was successful on account of making the reservation 4 weeks in advance. Yet, despite of having reservations for 6:30 p.m., it was impossible to get in. There was such a huge crowd that the 6:00 p.m. bunch was just getting seated at 7:30.

At that point, we just gave up and called for delivery Chinese from our cell phone on our way home. We got our nice, hot food, 20 minutes after parking in front of the house. And much fun was had by all.

So we hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas (or Hannukah, Festivus, Kwanzaa, Mithrasmas, Saturnalia or whatever it is that you celebrate), and we'll be posting again by New Year if not before.

And now, the Christmas pictorial!


El Brato, the Dark Child, Yours Truly, and my Sweetie.


Miss E loves her hats.


Dear Santa: I want one million dollars!!!
El Kabong

The Joys of Lifting

Well, pooh. I just got an outline of my travel schedule for 2012 and there is no way I can do the figure show for April 14. Or for May for that matter. However, I will not despair. I will prepare for the one in August.

This, of course, will throw a wrench in my Pennsic plans, but like I said before, you can't have it all. I may do an abridged Pennsic, or no Pennsic at all. It's early in the game and the show I want to do hasn't posted the final date yet. It's only "August 2012." We shall see.

At any rate, this does not discourage me one tiny bit. The more I prepare, the better the chances for me to place. And at the very least, I'm having a lot of fun with it. So there.

And with that, I would like to share some FAQ that people ask all the time. Mainly because I find it entertaining and I have nothing better to do at my lunch time.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Why bodybuilding/figure training?
A: Why not? It is a lot of fun, it keeps me fit, and it makes me feel good. I feel that if you're going to get into health and fitness, you should look for those activities that you enjoy. I happen to enjoy this one

Q: Is bodybuilding the only thing you do?
A: No. I consider myself a bodybuilder with a rapier and biking problem.

Q: But, won't you "bulk up" and you look like a man?
A: Have you seen me? Do I look like a guy? Contrary to popular belief, lifting leans you out, not the other way around. If you don't believe me, here's my picture. I'm the one on the right.
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Q: But what about those musclebound women that look like male bodybuilders?
A: Building muscle is very hard for women. In order to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bikini, you would most likely need to take anabolic steroids. That is not only frowned upon in the industry these days (besides being illegal), but many organizations make you take anti-doping tests to make sure you're not "juicing up."

Q: But if you stop exercising, all that muscle will turn into fat, won't it?
A: Nope. Muscle is muscle and fat is fat. Muscle cannot turn into what is not. However, if you stop exercising and continue eating like you were doing when you were feeding the muscle, you will certainly gain weight. It is simple math. Caloric intake vs. caloric burn. If you stop exercising, you need to reduce your caloric intake. Even better, don't stop exercising.

Q: I have been exercising a lot, but I am not seeing any more leaning out. What's up with that?
A: Have you looked at your nutrition? Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. You can exercise all day, but if you're not paying attention to what you're eating, and you're still filling up with junk-food, you are going to plateau big time.

Q: Heh. When I was exercising, I used to lift more than you. What do you think about that?
A: Excellent! Get off your butt now and hit the weights again. You'll thank me for that.

And that's all for now. I will post more FAQ's in another entry. Or if you have any questions, drop me a note. It would be fun to have a series of "Ask the Belfebe" entries.
Linda Hamilton-T2

Fitness!!!

I haven't posted about fitness in a while. For some reason, my most inspired moments for blogging are first thing in the morning, as I am getting ready for the gym, or as I drive to work after my workout. Then, I get to the office, get caught up in work, and forget about all.

Today, however, I plan to take advantage of a nice and quiet lunch time, and go for it.

So what has our heroine been up to? For one thing, I have continued my journey on preparing for a figure competition in Spring 2012. Tentatively, I have picked April 14, when a number of shows are scheduled in the area, and I'd like to give it a shot.

This may be challenging since my travel schedule for 2012 is more jam-packed than 2011, and as unpredictable as usual. I know what the number of trips is (more or less), and even what the potential dates may be. However, no exact schedule has been set yet.

Why is this important? Because training for a show involves a lot of work and any interruption will set me back. By the time my competition arrives, I will have been preparing for almost a year and a half.

I know. Some people will do it in just 12 weeks, but the better prepared you are, the better chance you have to place. In my case, as fit as I was, I needed to build a frame first and then take it from there. I will need at least 22 weeks of very structured working out and targeted nutrition, and I need the last 4 weeks to be clear of travel.

It is kind of daunting. But if I don't set up a date, I will never do it. And if I make it public, then I will have more pressure on myself to do it.

This is going to be interesting. 2009 was a relaxed, almost boring year. 2010 was absolute insanity. 2011 was not relaxed in any way, but it was a lot more manageable than 2010. And 2012 promises to make 2010 look like a day at the spa. But hey, life is about excitement and I am ready for it. Bring it on!

Should I not be able to do April 14, then I would be contemplating either May 2 or 17. And if that doesn't work out, then it would have to be August 4.

I know. The latter would throw a damper on my Pennsic plans, but I can't have it all.

I have discovered that I can do many things, but I can't do them all at the same time.

In the meantime, I work my butt off. And if fate throws a wrench in my plans and end up not being able to compete in 2012, I know that I've already won and here are the reasons:

I feel like a million bucks.

I look like a million bucks.

I am in the best shape of my life and that, my friends, is the best prize of all.

Bring it on...

~Belfebe out.
Carmen Miranda/Groucho Marx

DWTS - The Finale!!!

Last night, the final three couples executed two dances each, including the much awaited free style.

And here's how they did:

  • Rob K and Cheryl Burke: Yes, Rob, I dub thee Seabiscuit. He and Cheryl are now on the top of the leaderboard, and if the others don't watch out, they could take the mirrorball trophy right from under their noses. Their waltz was very pretty, and although not perfect, it was incredibly enjoyable. Their freestyle was very nice, and very retro. It was also probably the most challenging dance they've had done all season. They were having fun with it and it paid off. I must admit that Rob has been growing on me - like fungus. (Marcellus says that there is a cream for that, BTW.) At any rate, I think that he has been earning his fan club not because he's a Kardashian, but despite being one. And, who doesn't like an underdog? He's still not my favorite to win, but he may yet surprise us.

  • Ricky and Derek: They did a very complex cha-cha. Somehow, I felt that it lacked something, and I can't point my finger at what it is. It sort of lacked some sizzle, and a cha-cha is supposed to be smoking. But it was good enough for nines. I agreed with the judges on that one. Their free style was also full of tricks, and technically complicated, but it's like they were off just a little bit. Again, enough for nines, but not for tens. I liked their attitude though. But it's like their heart was not 100% there, and the winner is usually the one who wants it the most.

  • JR and Karina: I loved them. Okay, their cha-cha was a bit off, but on the other hand it smoked the ballroom. The judges gave them an 8-7-9, which was all over the place. However, when it came to the free style, they redeemed themselves and then some. If you ask me for one word to describe it, it would be scary. Really. They gave it their all, and it paid off. They may not be at the top of the leaderboard, but I am sure that they will make it up in votes. If you ask me who won the free style, that would be them. Hands down. Now, if they don't choke up tonight, there's a good chance they'll win. But watch out for Seabiscuit. He's out there, stealing your mirrorball!


    Photo credit: ABC

    So who do you think won the free style? Vote now, and waste some productivity on a pre-Thanksgiving survey!

    Poll #1797178 DWTS Final Death Pool

    Which Freestyle did you enjoy the best?

    Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke
    1(25.0%)
    Ricky Lake and Derek Hough
    0(0.0%)
    JR Martinez and Karina Smirnoff
    3(75.0%)
  • El Kabong

    Wrist Warmers!!!

    I work in a nifty building built at the turn of the 20th Century. It is a gorgeous building that could have been kept better than it has, but beautiful nonetheless. This also means that the heating and cooling systems are rather old, and not always that efficient.

    For those of us who work in the non-sunny section, summer can be rather pleasant, except for the fact that the A/C basically has two modes: stuffy, or freezing cold. The guys in the sunny section, on the other hand, need to close all drapery or they will fry despite their air conditioned offices. Such is the nature of old buildings.

    In the winter, those of us who are in the non-sunny sections will need to crank up the heater since it will be freezing cold, while the guys in the sunny sections will be warm and toasty with or without the furnace.

    This whole information is relevant since my hands are always cold at the office, whether is summer or winter, and typing is sometimes a pain in the ass. Ergo, I have been looking for a pair of fingerless gloves since forever, with very little luck.

    True, I had found at one point a pair of cute mittens that featured a removable top. This would have been mighty convenient, were not for the fact that the thumb was completely covered. Try typing while using a thumb encased in knitted goodness, and see how fun that is. Not.

    I made all types of searches, and I finally found a selection in Amazon.com. They call them wrist-warmers. Who would have thunk? However, I did not find any that I really liked at the price I wanted, or that would not involve a lot more in shipping fees since apparel is usually sold through a third party. Hmmm...

    Well, now that I knew that I could search by "wrist warmer," "arm warmer," and "fingerless gloves," I did a search outside Amazon and found ... Etsy.

    This is not to say that I didn't know what Etsy was. However, I never really ventured into the land of Etsy and did not even have an account. Yet, before my very eyes, there was a selection of cute fingerless gloves, handmade, and in all styles staring at me on the face. At reasonable prices even.

    To make a long story short, I ended up ordering that nifty little number that you see below. They are cute, and finally, my hands will be warm at the office. Hooray! And let's hear it for small business and artisans. I like the idea of purchasing a pair of hand made warmers, as opposed to those made in China.

    I can't wait for my mittens to arrive.



    PS. Yes, I do know how to knit. In fact, I used to be an avid knitter many moons ago. However, there days I barely have time to do laundry, let alone to knit. Paying for something that´s already knitted is a helluva lot more convenient. The end. :-)
    DWTS

    DWTS - The Semifinals

    Well, boys and girls, DWTS semifinals was last night, and it was full of surprises. Three dances each,and no messing. Everyone brought their "A" game, although poor JR was injured and it showed. Now, let's get on with the show:

  • Rob and Cheryl: I must say that Rob K has been surprising me over and over, and has even *gasp* grown on me. Unlike his sister, who sleep-walked her time at DWTS, Rob really has put the effort and it shows. Their first dance was a samba, and I loved how they made a grand entrance with a float full of parrots, balloons, streamers, etc. He really has embraced the cheese factor of DWTS. They got a 10 from Carrie Ann, which I thought was too much, but it was definitely a 9 level dance. On the other hand, their Argentine tango was surprisingly precise, and I liked it a lot. And their cha-cha, was probably the best of the night, up there with Ricki and Derek's. I am not sure that I see them winning it all, but Rob could be the dark horse that steals away the mirror-ball if the other couples decide to sleep in their laurels. We shall see.

  • JR and Karina: JR had an injured ankle and it showed. Their paso was good, but rather forgettable. Their Argentine tango was incredibly challenging, and I think that they were underscored on that one. But their usual brilliance and energy was a bit dimmed by his injury. And their cha-cha was probably the weakest of the night, although the judges would eat crow before placing them in fourth place. I do hope that he gives that ankle a rest and that they bring it next week. They are still my favorite to win, and I can't wait to see their freestyle.

  • Hope and Maks: They were much better than they have been since the beginning of the show. Maks cracked me up with his quips, looking a lot more relaxed than he's ever been. And Hope has finally learned to embrace his Maksiness. Their paso was not passable; their Argentine tango was awkward, although it was incredibly challenging and they managed all the lifts. Hope is an athlete and it shows, but her musicality is not there. Having said that, their cha-cha was pretty good, and I daresay that it was even better than JR and Karina's. But they ended up in fourth place all the same. I think that they're going home and they know it. But it was a valiant effort, and at least they did learn to work well together. Good for them!

  • Ricki and Derek: They were on last night. I liked their samba very much, and their Argentine tango was awesome. Ricki looked great in that yellow dress, in a Big Birdie sort of way. And their cha-cha did deserve to end up first. Watch out for them.

    And that's all for today. We shall see what happens tonight. (Did I mention that I am thrilled that Dance Center is back? I love those guys!)

    I leave you now with your DWTS Death Pool of the week, so you can kill some productivity on a Monday morning.

    Belfebe out.


    Photo Credit: ABC
    Poll #1795231 DWTS Weekly Death Pool

    Which couple gave the best dance of the night?

    Rob and Cheryl
    0(0.0%)
    JR and Karina
    0(0.0%)
    Hope and Maks
    0(0.0%)
    Ricki and Derek
    4(100.0%)
  • DWTS

    DWTS -- We didn't see it coming...

    Well, the couple leaving us this week is David Arquette and Kym Johnson.

    And I can tell you, I didn't see it coming, although I did say yesterday that predicting who the departing couple would be was a tough call.

    At any rate, although late for a recap, here are my thoughts on the current state of affairs in the Race for the Mirrorball:

  • Ricky Lake and Derek Hough: They really stepped it up a notch this week, and the choreography was classic Derek. Ricky did not look like a pumpkin, but portrayed Little Red Riding Hood to Derek's Big Bad Wolf. I am not sure that the whole thing was Halloween-Monster themed, but it was awesome. Derek is indeed the king of the Paso Doble. And he can make anyone look good. Heck, if he danced with a broom, he'd make it look like Ginger Rogers. Good job.

  • RJ Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: Karina looked spectacular in her Halloween costume. I could not take my eyes off her and her white whispy outfit. Best portrayal of a ghost - Halloween style - ever. The dance was not as good as their usual standard, but hey, dancing a tango to "Ghostbusters" is is a tall order. They got screwed with that choice of music, but they were more than safe. Can't wait to see their dance next week. And they're still my favorites to win.

  • Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus: They danced a jive to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Her dancing was't that good, but then I'd like to see the pros dance anything to that song. Like JR and Karina, they got royally screwed. However, Tristan is a genius at choreography, and they were having so much fun with this that I liked it despite the lackluster performance on Nancy's part. I think this is why they survived the cut. People like to watch folks who are having fun and putting the effort on. I don't know how long she's going to last, but if you're wondering who's voting for Nancy Grace, you're looking at it.

  • Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: They continue with their Magical Mysery Tour. Really, they need to be put out of their mysery. I can't even remember what they danced to. It wasn't bad, but it was completely forgettable. And they can't hide the fact that they can't stand each other. I think that the only reason they were not eliminated or in the bottom two this week is because they got the bonus points by winning the team challenge as part of Derek's Team Tango. Maks, I love you. But you and Hope need to go home.

  • David Arquette and Kym Johnson: They danced to "Abracadabra" and they had a blast. I think that no one has had more fun with this thing than David Arquette. (I also think that he'd make a great Shaggy, don't you agree?) I didn't see their elimination coming. I also wonder if they would have been eliminated if they hadn't been in the losing team dance. This season has not been easy to predict. They rocked the dance floor all the same, and they made a great couple.

  • Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: They tangoed to the "Addams Family" theme. And they did a good job. Then again, they did get a better choice of music than JR and Karina. But it was nicely done all the same. Unless people get tired to this whole Kardashian thing, he's probably going to be in the semi-finals.

  • Group Dances: Team Paso (Ricky and Derek, Hope and Maks and Rob and Cheryl), owned Team Tango (JR and Karina, David and Kym, and Nancy Grace and Tristan.) And two of the couples in the losing team ended up in the bottom two. Oh, well. There is always next week.

    So, who do you think is going next? Will people vote Nancy Grace and Tristan off? Will they send Hope and Maks and their mysery away? Will people get tired of the Kardashian Klan shenanigans and ship Rob K back home? Or will there be *gasp* a surprise elimination of one of the two top favorites?

    Don't miss the next episode of Dancing with the Stars!

    And in the meantime, you can kill productivity on a Wednesday by voting on the bonus survey after the picture!

    See you next week!

    ~ Belfebe out.


    Awesome David and Kym. My favorite pic.
    Photo credit: ABC

    Poll #1792031 DWTS Bonus Survey

    Who do you think is leaving next?

    Ricky Lake and Derek Hough
    0(0.0%)
    RJ Martinez and Karina Smirnoff
    1(25.0%)
    Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus
    1(25.0%)
    Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
    2(50.0%)
    Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke
    0(0.0%)
  • Bad Idea Bears

    DWTS - Work eating my brains.

    Sorry guys, no recap today. I am horribly swamped at work. So, sorry, no Death Pool either.

    Suffice to say that last night was absolutely awesome, what with being Halloween Night. And that now I am totally torn on who is going home. Nancy Grace is at the bottom of the leaderboard, but it will all come down to fan base at this point.

    So what do you think about last night?

    I'll post tomorrow if I can.

    ~Belfebe out.
    Lucy Liu - Kill Bill

    Letter to my Congressman

    Dear Mr. Webb,

    I am writing to you in regards to the issue of campaign political texts. In recent days I have received two of those, the first one containing disparaging remarks about voting for Democrats in general, while the second trashed a particular democratic candidate.

    My concern stems from the fact that:

    a) I have not authorized anyone to text me or subscribed to any group that would be doing that. This is totally unsolicited.

    b) Nobody is taking responsibility for those texts. In any other campaign media there is supposed to be a note indicating who is approving that message. In this one, there is no one and there is no way to know who is sending it. The only ID in the text is a Maryland number 1-410-000-001.

    c) Texts can cost money to the recipient. I have texted back telling them to stop spamming me. Evidently this hasn't worked.

    d) I have no idea how they got hold of my cell phone number. In the case of email, there is always an "unsubscribe" option. In texts there is not.

    e) I know that I am not the only one who has received these kinds of texts. Some friends have, while others have not. I don't know who is selling them data, but I consider this an invasion of privacy.

    I am writing to you because I believe that this is an issue whose legality has be addressed somewhere.

    Legislation requiring people to ask for permission to text, identify themselves, and provide recipients with an "unsubscribe" option would probably fix this problem. If there is no initiative for that yet, perhaps this is the time to do it.

    Thank you very much for your time, and I thank you for the attention that you may provide to this concern.

    Regards,

    MLM
    PS. If it were the Democrats doing this, I would still be complaining. Probably more, as I favor the Democrats and it would be horribly embarrassing if they were engaging in such kind of behavior.