Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Adventures in Fostering: Percy

It's sad that we've actually had two foster dogs over the past several months, and I never got around to writing about them. I'll come back to recap the most recent, as we actually had him for almost two months. But today is all about Percy. Get a load of this little guy:

The Holland House: Percy the Foster Dog

We got an email last week from Wags, Hope, and Healing, asking if we would be interested in helping to socialize a feral pup. Some people had purchased property, and found a litter of 5 dogs on it with no mother in sight. One of the pups was deceased, and the remaining four were filthy dirty and in need of a few good meals. Our schedule is crazy busy right now, but we said we could commit to two weeks. Luckily, there is an adoption event planned on August 8th, so the timing worked out perfectly.

We've had a variety of foster dogs, but none that had ever been feral. These pups had likely never seen a human before they were found, and were rightfully frightened of people. It's said that the first 12 weeks of a puppies life can make or break them, so thankfully there was a window of opportunity to show them how fun people (and homes) can be. He is estimated to be around 10 weeks old.

The Holland House: Percy the Foster Dog

Hank picked the name Percy because it's short for perseverance. It's also a little bit "country" which is exactly what Percy is- a country mutt! Having been with him for a few days, the name is a perfect fit. He is definitely warming up to us, and loves to snuggle (especially at night). More than anything though, he LOVES his foster siblings. He follows them everywhere, and is so cute when he tries to instigate play. Brees has been really good and patient with him, and will engage in play and snuggling. Maddie is a little more hit or miss. Her contribution has mainly been teaching him who is boss.

The Holland House: Percy and Brees

I have no doubt that he will continue to come out of his shell over the next couple of weeks, and I know it will be hard to say goodbye when the time comes. But we love getting to help like this, and we'll make the most out of our puppy time.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Texas Wine Country

A couple of weekends ago we drove out 290 west towards Hye, TX for some wine tasting. Hank and I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate my mom's birthday, and no one knows wine quite like my parents. Texas wine often leaves much to be desired, but we have a few favorites, and stumbled upon a new one on this most recent trip.

Our day started at Grape Creek Vineyards. It's one of the larger operations, and they have a beautiful property. There is a huge patio, live music on the weekends, and a menu with substantial food to help get you through a day of drinking. We lucked out with really nice weather, and enjoyed sitting outside eating lunch before our tasting. The wine was ok- not really memorable. But this was a great stop to kick off our afternoon.

On the patio at Grape Creek.

Next stop was a smaller operation called Hilmy Cellars. A friend has recently been to visit and raved about their Rosé. My mom and I both loved the fact that it was a working farm, complete with pea fowl, goats, and a giant Great Pyrenees who kept all the other animals safe. The property was really pretty, and I couldn't have been more excited to see Simon the dog sleeping on the cold concrete when we got there. He is up all night guarding the animals, and gets to sleep wherever he wants during the day. When he's not sleeping, he's begging for ear scratches from anyone who will indulge  him.

The Holland House: Hilmy Cellars
Hilmy Cellars

The Holland House: Hilmy Cellars

Our tasting experience was a lot of fun. The guy who was pouring really likes what he does, and the people he works for. He even gave us a little tour. The Rosé was delicious, as well as most of their white wines. The reds were a little rough- but it's hard to make a good red with Texas grapes. We did join their wine club The Flock, and I'm looking forward to getting a shipment this fall. They also have a tasting event on July 17th at Oasis Brewing, (conveniently located minutes from our house) and we'll make an appearance there. I do highly recommend making a stop there. It's the perfect place to cool off with a glass of white, and maybe eat a few snacks on their patio. Just be sure to give Simon some attention.

Me and my beautiful mother.

Next stop was Kuhlman Cellars. We hadn't necessarily planned on going there, but decided to give it a try when we drove by it. Little did we know that you really need to make reservations ahead of time, as they do a food/wine pairing. Luckily they were able to squeeze us in, and I'm so glad they did. This ended up being our favorite stop, and by far the best wines of the day. The winemaker is a French woman who has also spent time in California. Both the whites and reds were really sophisticated, making use of Texas and California grapes. We also joined their wine club, and will make a return visit soon to try out their new pairing menu. If you head this way, definitely make a stop at Kuhlman (and make a reservation ahead of time!)

The Holland House: Kuhlman Cellars Wine and Food Pairing

What are your favorite stops for Texas Wineries? There are several regions to go to, and this area is really the only place that we have gone. Would be curious to hear about other "can't miss" locations.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

No Shortcuts

A few months ago, I signed up for a marathon. I think I'm still in shock that I committed to do it. Two years ago, as I watched a friend cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon in record time,  I was inspired. I told Hank "if I'm not pregnant by the end of the year, I'm signing up to run one." Well, the pregnancy never happened. But I kept putting off the marathon idea, along with other things, "just in case". After a lot of soul searching, I decided to stop waiting, and start living my life.  I was tired of holding off on plans while holding on to the hope that by some small miracle I would get pregnant.

The Holland House: Life is to short to wait

One small wrinkle in this new plan- I was in absolutely no shape to run, or even train for, a marathon. I've continually gained weight over the past 3 years, and reached a new low when a recent body mass test revealed that I was borderline obese based on my body fat percentage. I was on a roll with running earlier this year, until a chronic cough sidelined me for almost two months. I kept coming up with excuses to get back at it, until a friend posted a picture of me from 3 years ago. It almost stopped me in my tracks, the physical difference between then and now. I knew that if I didn't find a way to make sustainable changes, I was going to head into my 40's at a weight that wasn't healthy for me. Marathon or not, I owed it to myself to find a way to improve my overall health and fitness.

The Holland House: Ideal Picture

Enter Earn that Body, and the wonderfully inspiring Kim Eagle. I had noticed that a girl from my training group was really looking good. Not that she didn't before, but there was a noticeable difference in her physique, and she looked amazing. Healthy and strong, but not too skinny. She looked the way that I wanted to look again. So I asked her what she had been doing, and she mentioned Kim's programs. It wasn't for the faint of heart, she said. But that's why it's called EARN that Body, and not WANT that Body. I emailed Kim a few times, and decided to try her 30 day ETB-tox program. It seemed worth a shot.

The Holland House: Earn that Body

I was nervous heading into it, not really knowing how restrictive or hard it would be. I've tried countless programs before, only to completely fall off the wagon afterwards. That's totally my MO. But I had a different determination heading into this, and was pleasantly surprised as I went through the program. It was realistic. It made sense. It wasn't so restrictive that I couldn't find a way to make permanent changes. It was as simple as this- Real Food. Real Work. Real Results. There is no special food to buy, no drink powders or pills to take. Just good old regular food! The biggest challenge for me was no alcohol for two weeks. I didn't think I would be able to survive, but I honestly believe this one was a game changer for me. I'm now a "alcohol on the weekend only" person, and my life hasn't changed for the worse because of it.

So I did the work. I feel like I gave at least 95% for the entire 30 days, and my results are plentiful:

1- I've never slept  better in my life. Before, I used to maybe get 5-6 hours or restless sleep, and now I'm getting 7.5-8 if I go to bed early enough.
2- My skin looks amazing. I think that eating more fruits and vegetables, with hardly any processed food, had made a tremendous difference. I also drink a ridiculous amount of water.
3- I feel amazing. I might be tired after a long run, but overall I have great energy and feel....healthy!
4- I lost 6.5 pounds!! My clothes fit more loosely, and I can see the weight loss in my face for sure.

The Holland House: Before

The Holland House: After

I still have about 6-8 pounds to go before I reach a weight that I think is healthy and sustainable. To put it in perspective- I weighed nearly as much as my husband just 30 days ago. I'm not ok with that! But I'm doing it slowly, and doing it the right way. I'm continuing to make great choices each day (see previous post about meal planning), and I feel like I'm set up for success. They say that weight loss is 80% what you eat, and 20% exercise. While I do work out 5 days a week, I think it was the change in diet that lead to such a successful start for me, and that's what is keeping me motivated to continue making better choices.

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