Sunday, July 9, 2017

7/9/17: Here We Go Again

Rule number 1:  Don't spend all day baking cookies.  That path paves the way to destruction.

It's an odd day that we do more than bake off a sheet pan of cookies at a time, but when that odd day happened, it completely derailed me.  I thought I got back on track, but I didn't.  Therefore, I am starting over, again.  Even though I am starting over, again, I promise you that I am not giving up.  And never giving up is a promise I can keep.

Yesterday I went on a beautiful five mile hike.  It gave me a lot of time to think about what is important to me and what I want out of life.  One of the things that is important to me is to spend more time in beautiful places!  My health is important to me.  It's important to me to be strong. Being close to people I love and that love me is important to me. Being connected to my community is important to me. Of course, my darling husband, Jackie Deane, is important to me. My children and grandchildren are incredibly important to me. My deepest desire is to live my life in such a way that taking care of all of these things that are important to me is my lifestyle, not things that I do when I find the time. 

Here are some pictures of my hike:


Beaver pond through the trees

Butterflies! I took a picture of one, then another flew in, then another, and another!

The Zealand falls.
The top of the falls, the hike's destination.

New Hampshire is a beautiful place.  There is no doubt about that.  But I am too far from my family, I would like to find a place closer to our children and grand children.  In the meantime, if you have the means, you should come out for a visit and go for a hike (or two or three).  If you have never been to New Hampshire, you don't know what you're missing!

By the way, I got up early and lifted weight for about 40 minutes this morning.  I am weak, much weaker than I was 6 months ago, but I will get strong again.  It's never too late to get strong.

Have a beautiful day today!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

7/4/17: Don't Give Up On Me!!

I know I haven't posted anything in a few days.  We had a busy run up to the Fourth of July Holiday and I haven't had time to post.  I don't really have much time right now to chat, but I wanted to take a second to say hi.

I also have to confess to falling off the wagon on Sunday.  I spent about 4 hours, between check-ins and other interruptions, baking and rolling cookies.  I did ok for a while, but after a couple of hours of baking several different types of cookies and having them laid out all over the kitchen, particularly after a really long weekend, my resolve melted and ate several cookies.  The good news is that I got back on program by Sunday evening, and I was 100% on program yesterday and so far today.  I didn't let my slide on Sunday afternoon lead me into the addiction abyss.

There is more to talk about, but I need to go water the flowers and herbs.  And do the books.  And change light bulbs.  And bake cookies for afternoon tea.  And...and...and.  You get the idea.

I'll have more time later today or tomorrow to chat a little more.

Have a great day!!!!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

7/1/2017: It's a New Half Year!

Well that's over!  Our first six months of innkeeping is in the bag.  The learning curve was steep, but we never stopped climbing and here we are, more or less feeling like we know what we are doing.  It's getting easier, as we get accustomed to the ebbs and flows of the days and weeks.  We'll be busy this summer and busier than busy this fall, but we are confident that we have what it takes to work our way through this busy season.

There are two major things we have to do, now that we have gotten this far and decided that yes, indeed, we want to own our own inn.  First, we have to figure out how and when we will wrap up our gig at this inn; second, we have to find our inn, the one that excites us.

Regarding the first point, we have a one year contract with Dick to run the Bernerhof.  He has asked us to stay another six months because so far, he has not had anyone show any interest in buying the inn.  Neither Carla nor I feel like we have anything personally or professionally to gain by working here another six months beyond December 31.  To put it bluntly, we feel like we will be done.  The flip side is that I wouldn't mind working another ski season.  Now that we know what we are doing, I know if we work another ski season I will get a lot of opportunities to ski during the week.  I want to learn how to cross country ski, too.  I'm planning on starting my square dancing lessons in September, so I will have that activity to keep me busy through the winter, too.  I don't want to work another six months here, but I can see the bright side, too.  I don't want to be away from Jack for an extra six months.  As the job gets more manageable, I miss him more and more.  Carla doesn't want to waste any more time than we have to.  She's ready to find the place where we're going to settle down and start establishing her home base.  All of this doesn't mean we won't stay an extra six months, but it does mean we are going to have to put together a deal with Dick that makes sense for us financially to stay.  Carla, Jack and I have a basic frame work that we've discussed, but I haven't put it in writing yet and we have not discussed it with Dick yet.  I feel a little stressed by this whole thing, so the sooner we can get it done, the better.  I'll start working on the proposal in earnest this week.

Regarding the second point, for the longest time we didn't have a firm idea of where we wanted to look for an inn.  I kind of liked the idea of New England, we've been toying with the idea of the mountains of western Maryland, we've considered the Smokey Mountains, Colorado, and Washington state.  Slowly but surely, as we think through this, we are narrowing our focus.  I am letting New England fall out from my list.  For some reason, I wanted to live up here and I am glad that we're here.  I really like this town, I like the mountains, the people are awesome and snow season was actually a lot of fun.  But I don't need to live here for the rest of my life.  I'm still flirting a little bit with Western Maryland, but I think that is mostly because I have good memories of vacationing at Deep Creek Lake many, many years ago.  After all, it was at Deep Creek Lake that I discovered I was pregnant with Carla.  How could I not have good memories of that?  I'm still slightly intrigued with Western Washington, but I don't feel a strong pull to be there.  The area of the country that is pulling at me the strongest is Colorado, or maybe southern Utah.  The biggest drawback of Colorado is that real estate is excessively expensive, so finding something reasonably priced and viable may be difficult.  Also, forest fires are a concern.  I don't think we should not worry about that.  That said, Colorado keeps on tugging at me.  I discussed this with Carla and Jack yesterday, and they are both more than OK with starting the search there.  Carla spent three years in Colorado and misses it. As for Jack and me, one of the very important reasons that Colorado has appeal, is that it puts us very close to most of our kids and grandchildren, and it puts us a lot closer to our California kids.  Quite frankly, New England feels a little isolating.  It's far from all of our family.  Washington state appeals to me mostly because I would like to live close to my dad, but living close to him means being far from everyone else. As I spend time here at the Bernerhof, far away from family, I am developing a healthier respect for the importance of being able to spend time with those that we love.  This work is demanding and time consuming.  Time off will be precious.  I don't want to have to travel an entire day by air to see my grandchildren.  I don't want them to only be able to afford to come see us once every few years.  Owning and running an inn is something I want do to for the rest of my life, but I don't want to do it at the expense of not spending time with the rest of my family.  Colorado makes sense.  It's beautiful, people living in and visiting Colorado are outdoor oriented people, and it's a vacation destination.  Yesterday, we made the decision to start focusing our search on Colorado and southern Utah.  Wish us luck.

I did well yesterday with all four points of my plan.  I walked for over an hour, I was 100% on program with food, I got over 8 hours of sleep, and I drank plenty of water.  The scale is stuck.  Ah well.

Have a wonderful day!!!!!!!

Friday, June 30, 2017

6/30/17: Three Out of Four Ain't Bad

Yesterday I discussed 4 areas of self-care that I am going to focus on: sleep, diet, water, and exercise.  I accomplished my daily goal in 3 of the areas.  I was sugar, alcohol, and wheat free for the 11th day in a row; I got 7 hours and 5 minutes of sleep; and I drank a lot more water (I was running to the bathroom all day!).  I did not workout yesterday because it was dinner prep day and I did not have time.  My work day started yesterday at 6:00AM and I was in the kitchen all day until quitting time at about 9:30PM.  I am off today, so I will be able to exercise today.
My weight is stable.  I’d like to start losing weight as I really want to be between 150 and 160 pounds for the rest of my life.  I feel and look great at that weight.  I believe if I can consistently get 7 hours of sleep, drink enough water, stay off the sugar, and don’t overeat everything else I will start losing weight.  How can I not?  This is a physically demanding job.  I am going to maintain this plan for a couple of weeks.  If the weight doesn’t start to come off I will have to be more disciplined, as in counting calories or something like that.  I’d rather not have to add that much structure at this point, as I am already living a very structured life, but if that is what it takes, that is what I will do.
It's a rainy day in New Hampshire.  Instead of playing outside I think I will go exploring.  My plan is to get in the car soon and head out into the countryside to see what I can see.
Carla and I have been the innkeepers at the Bernerhof for 6 months.  We took over at 8PM on December 31st, when the previous innkeeper took off for his next gig right up the hill.  To say it has been a learning experience would be an understatement.  The most important things we have learned are the big-picture things.
First, I like being an innkeeper. I like meeting new people every day from all over the world. You never know who is going to walk in your front door.  98% of our guests are wonderful people.  Every now and then we get an Oscar the Grouch, but we have learned that if we keep on smiling and keep on being kind and gentle, even the grouchiest grouch relents, smiles, and concedes that they are, indeed, enjoying their stay at the Bernerhof.  I like cooking for our guests, maintaining the inn and the gardens, working with our staff and vendors, and in general, running the show.  I find the work interesting and rewarding.  I like getting great reviews, but I still have a moment of panic whenever we get a new review and I haven’t read it yet.  We haven’t received a bad review yet, but you never know when you might have ticked someone off.  Knock on wood, so far, so good.
Second, we’ve learned what we don’t want to do.  We don’t want to have dinner service and we don’t want to have a bar.  While our guests love our dinners and they really enjoy the bar area, it’s just too much for us.  Innkeeping is totally manageable, with the exception of having to tend to the guests in the dining room and bar in the evenings.  The bar, in particular, gives our guests a place to hang out and feel comfortable.  They like to sit around and enjoy a cocktail and each other’s company.  There is something about our little bar and den that makes our guests feel welcome and comfortable.  We will have to be creative in our efforts to achieve that same sense of comfortable and relaxing space without a bar, but I think we can do it.  We both want to wind down in the evenings, not wind up.  Having dinner and bar service in the evenings requires us to keep our energy up all day and into the night.  It’s not healthy.  It’s not manageable.  We have a bar tender/server on weekend nights, when we have dinner service, but that doesn’t relieve us of the duty being on-point.  It’s still our jobs to ensure the guests’ happiness. 
Third, we won’t buy and inn with existing dinner service and then end dinner service.  Guests expect to come back to an inn and get what they had before.  When they don’t get it, they are disappointed and it increases the odds of a negative review.  Reviews are everything to the small inn.  We bend over backwards when we get a guest that has been here before and make certain they leave happy.  Things have changed, mostly for the good, but in their eyes, somewhat for the bad.  We don’t let guests walk behind the bar and get their own drinks, for example.  The previous innkeeper did.  We don’t serve German food.  It’s been over 12 years since German food was served here, but guests still come back wanting German food.  If an inn has dinner service now, we won’t buy it.  We want nothing to do with it and we don’t want to disappoint previous guests.
We need to be able to afford a housekeeper.  When we started, we cleaned rooms if we weren’t very busy and the harsh reality is that when you are in a guest room cleaning, particularly when you are cleaning the tub, you can’t do anything else.  You’re up to your elbows and knees in cleansers and bleach and you’re totally focused on making sure everything looks perfect.  It is really disruptive to answer the phone, meet with a vendor, take care of another guest’s needs, or anything else.  I want our inn to be big enough that it can afford a housekeeper.  I’d rather spend a couple of hours every day figuring out how to keep occupancy high enough to afford a housekeeper than clean rooms.  If we do it right, a housekeeper will be the only employee we need.  The rest of our help (repairs and maintenance that we can’t do on our own, snow removal, heavy landscaping, etc.) will be hired as contractors on an as-needed basis.
We need to learn how to market and advertise effectively.  We have not gone to any of the many seminars or chamber meetings that are available to us.  It’s time that we started doing such things.
I guess that’s it for now.  I’ve got to run.  I’m running out of morning and I want to have a full day of exploring.

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

6/29/17: Don't Panic! I'm Still Sugar Free!

I'm trying to put up a blog post every day because writing about my challenges with food keeps my thoughts linear and keeps me focused on my goal. Blogging gives my rational mind a stronger voice than my sugar addiction.  It is a bad sign when I don't get a blog post up.  It means that I don't have even a few minutes to pause and jot down a few thoughts; which means that my days have been crazy and I haven't been getting enough sleep.  I didn't put up a post yesterday morning because I got less than 7 hours of sleep for 5 nights in a row and I was squeezing every moment of sleep into yesterday morning that I possibly could.  The good news is that in spite of not having enough sleep, I have stayed on program.  I am still sugar, wheat, and alcohol free!!

The bad news is that I have not lost any weight since I started weighing myself at the beginning of the week.  I suspect the reason I am not losing weight is because I have not been getting enough sleep.  It's all interrelated. I feel good, though.  I feel so much better than I felt two weeks ago.  I'm not bloated and puffy; I'm not beating myself up all the time for eating crap; I'm happier; my tummy is flatter.  These are all good things!

Last night I had the afternoon off so I ran a few errands and then came home and went to bed.  My bedtime call to Jackie was at 6:30 and I was lights out and eyes shut by 7:00.  I was a little groggy when I woke up this morning at 5:00, but I had over 9 hours of sleep and I am now beginning to wake up.  Tonight and Saturday nights are my late nights in the kitchen, but I have Friday off, so I should be able to get 8 hours of sleep tonight and tomorrow night.  It'll be a short night of sleep for me on Saturday night, but if I can get three nights in a row of 8 hours of sleep, that should make a huge difference.

I am focusing on four areas of self-care.  I am keeping it as simple as possible:

Diet: Be sugar, wheat and alcohol free.  Don't overeat high calorie foods like nuts.
Sleep:  Goal:  8 hours of sleep every night.  Reality:  Happy with at least 7 hours of sleep.
Exercise:  Lift weights 2 to 3 times a week.  Walk 2 to 3 times a week.  Hike (or other outdoor fun) once a week.
Water:  Drink plenty of water.

Here is the status update on all four of these areas:

My food intake has seemed impossible to control and it centers around sugar. Taste a muffin, "To see if it's good," and eat two, maybe three.  Over-bake a tray of cookies and eat the ones that are too dark to serve.  Get cravings late in the afternoon and grab handfuls of chocolate chips.  Feel sorry for myself at the end of a hard day and bring a few beers to my room to relax and unwind.  This is just a small sample of the ways I have allowed my addiction to control me over the last six months.  When I am consuming sugar, the voice that urges me to eat more sugar is louder than any other voice in my head.  As of this morning, I've been sugar free for 10 days and I feel much more in-control of my food.  The sugar voice is small and not much of a bother.  I have no desire to eat crap.  When sugar is in front of me I can ignore it without feeling deprived or sorry for myself.  I'm proud of myself for getting on top of this addiction, yet again.  I am grateful for everyone's support in helping me do this.  I'm not over-eating and I'm eating three decent meals a day with proteins, veggies and fruits.  I feel good about this.

As you know, getting enough sleep is a constant challenge.  For the most part, if a week is "normal," I should be able to get at least 7 hours of sleep, if not 8, 5 days a week.  Last week was abnormal because our chef, Rene, had Friday and Saturday off.  Dick, the owner of the Bernerhof, has been discussing dinner service with me and Carla.  Right now, we offer dinner 3 nights a week because that is what is required to maintain our hotel liquor license.  The hotel liquor license allows us to have on-premises liquor sales to anyone, even non-overnight-guests.  Dick is going to appeal to the liquor commission to allow us to go to 2 nights a week.  If he is unsuccessful in the appeal, we will exchange our license for a B&B license, which does not require food sales.  The big difference in the two licenses is that the B&B license does not allow us to sell alcohol to non-overnight-guests.  This is pretty restrictive and we'd like to avoid that.  The Bernerhof has a long history in the valley and it's nice to be able to allow walk-ins to come in and have a glass of wine or a beer.  We've been discussing the relative merits of the liquor license vs. the amount of extra work it is for Carla and I to have dinner service that third night a week, and have come to the conclusion that we'd be better off going to two, even if we have to shift to a B&B license.  This is not going to happen immediately, but I am hoping by the end of June, we will only be serving dinner two nights a week.

Exercise:  I am on my feet all day, almost every day, whether the day is a 12, 14, or 16 hour day.  Once a week or so, I have a behind the desk day, where I sit for 3 or 4 hours.  I average between 15,000 and 22,000 steps a day, as recorded by my Fitbit.  When my diet sucks and I am not getting enough sleep, my body hurts pretty badly.  This results in the inability to convince myself to exercise. Now that my food in-take is under control and as soon as I get close to 8 hours of sleep a night, my body will start healing itself over-night and my body won't hurt nearly as much.  I know this is true because I remember how good it felt a few weeks ago when I had 4 nights in a row of 7 or more hours of sleep.  Sleep and good food is critical to recovery.  When I get both of those things, it will be easier to convince myself to lift weights and walk. I lifted weights yesterday.  I won't get a chance to exercise today, it is dinner prep day, but tomorrow I have the day off and I will lift weights.  On Saturday I will try to go for a 30 minute walk.  On Sunday I will try to lift weights.  That is as far out as I can plan at the moment.

Water:  This shouldn't be difficult.  I like water, I just haven't been drinking enough of it.  I get distracted and don't think about it.  I'll set a 60 minute timer on my watch and make sure I drink at least a cup of water every hour, starting with right now.

So that's it for now.  This seems like a good plan.

Have a good day out there!!  It's beautiful in New Hampshire, today.  I hope you are having a beautiful day, too.   

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

6/27/16: Still Free!

Hip Hip Hooray, I am still sugar free!  That's the good news.  The bad news is that I am not getting enough sleep.  We are both going to try to take a day and a half off this week, so Carla took off Sunday afternoon and Monday.  Sunday wasn't too bad, I had a pretty low key afternoon and managed to get 7 hours of sleep.  We only had 3 rooms booked Sunday night so Monday breakfast was easy.  Last night we had 7 check-ins, though, and between prepping for breakfast for an almost-full house and waiting for the last check-in, I didn't get to call it a night until almost 10 o'clock.  We both need to do breakfast this morning because we had so many rooms sold last night.  Unfortunately, our regular schedule has me working the late shift this evening and we have a full house again tonight, so it will be tough squeezing in eight hours of sleep tonight, too.  I will get tomorrow afternoon and Friday off, so after tonight I should start catching up on my sleep again.

I weighed myself, finally.  The good news is that I don't weigh any more than I did two months ago.  The bad news is that I don't weigh any less than I did two months ago.  I am relieved that my stop-and-go efforts at least kept any more weight from creeping on, now I need to focus on weight loss.

It's time to make the donuts! See you tomorrow.

Have a great day!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

6/26/17: One Week Sugar Free!

A week ago I put up a sob story of a post about how unhappy I was with myself for not being able to control my sugar addiction.  My friends and family responded with heart warming support, compassion, and, yes, advice.  Your love gave me the resolve I needed to do exactly what I knew I needed to do, kick sugar to the curb.  I am now one week sugar, wheat and alcohol free.

Today, my overwhelming emotions are gratitude and relief as I feel loved, my clothes are just a tad looser, my tummy is flatter, I am sleeping better, and I am happier.

Thank you!

Now, it's time for me to go make breakfast.

Stay awesome!  Have a wonderful day!