About Me

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Concord, California, United States
I am a sometimes-writer, everyday mama, creative failure and experimental cook. I am interested in living a beautiful life, spending time with my family and making things that I can feel proud of. When I'm by myself I'm usually outside. Don't bother calling because chances are that I didn't bring my cell phone because I couldn't find it. If you see me walking, it's because I lost my keys and if you see me with only one child... I'm probably in big trouble.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

He Walks Softly But He Carries A Big Gun

You know that  a dog is small when it appears that Sidney Holler could stomp him out.

He might be small, but he's all ears!  

I love this little guy.  Let me tell you, it's going to be hard to give him back.  His only flaw is that he's not willing to take any of Pandora's crap.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dog Sitting

This is Dancer.  He's a tall, skinny, one year old chihauhua that Groovy-James' foster mom rescued.  I am helping her out by pup-sitting while her family is on vacation in Montana.  We picked him up this morning and he's just as sweet as candy.  I think that if he were my dog I would name him Harrison Ford. Somehow it seems to suit him, if this is an indicator to his personality.  Groovy-James was excited to meet him but Sidney sort of looked at me sideways and was like, "really? Again!"  

My only concern about Dancer is that he'll sneak out of my yard somehow.  We have everything pretty blocked off, but he's so small.  He's around the same height as Groovy-James but is easily five pounds lighter.  His head alone has to be two pounds lighter.  hahah...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Weight Update- Week 11

Okay, I am feeling much, much, much better about things today.

I know that my last weight post was a little bit dramatic, but I'm  having a lot of ups and downs on this journey and it's been pretty hard on me emotionally.  Somedays I feel hopeless and on the day of my last post I was feeling emotional, hormonal and having one of those pre-menstral cravings to eat everything in sight.  Fighting this urge was very difficult.  Deciding to snack is the same as giving-in to me, which is very scary because I'm overwhelmingly all or nothing in respect to my diet.  Which, of course, means that I'm either eating everything or practically nothing.  I have never been much of a snacker or the sort of person who wants to eat five small meals a day.  So, on days when I am hormonal and hungry... it messes with my head a bit.

This week I really worked on being healthier.  I felt myself going to war with food and was filled with guilt every time I ate something.  Quickly, I understood that this was unhealthy and not sustainable.  I wanted to change the behavior, but it's been my pattern to shut-down my diet whenever I am faced with control issues (in reference to food) and just not think about it anymore.  When I don't think about it I feel okay, but I also gain a shit-ton of weight because I am just allowing myself to eat whatever and whenever and end up smothering a lot of boredom and bad feelings in foods.  I definitely am guilty of using food as a coping mechanism for a lot of things.  Food brings me joy in many ways.  I love buying it.  I really love preparing it.  I love tasting it.  I love the way it feelings in my belly.  Truthfully, I just find joy in food.  But, I don't like the feeling of losing control of eating or eating too often in an effort to feel more joy.  I also don't like the feeling of withholding food and feeling guilty for eating every time I put something in my mouth.   It's my opinion that overeating will kill you faster than restricting calories too aggressively... but both are unhealthy and I really do want to be healthy.  I'm fighting for it.   Really, I just want to be healthy and normal.  So, that's what I struggled with this week... but I am feeling much better.

This week I didn't lose any weight.  I weigh exactly the same as I did last Thursday, which is great.  I lost 13 lbs in 2 weeks and 31 lbs in 11 weeks.  I am okay with hanging out here for a week or two, focusing on portion control, keeping my calories in a good place and my nutrition up.  I am working on neither surrendering to food to feel better about ANYTHING or letting food and eating make me feel badly.  I am just making nutritious meals, eating small portions, getting exercise and not racing towards weight loss.  I plan my meals well in advance and I'm going to continue to do so.  Tonight I am even going to eat a potato, which is something that I haven't done since April.  Okay, okay, so I have total carbohydrate phobia and I'll admit that I am going to TRY to eat a potato, but I might not be able to bring myself to do it.

I have ten more pounds to lose before I am technically in my weight range and I am still going towards that goal, but not at such a fast speed.  If it takes me ten more weeks to lose this weight, I am fine with that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cloud Blood

I have been listening to a lot of old Ani lately and I can't believe that I forgot how much I loved these songs!  I actually think that I love them more, a decade later, than I did when the albums came out.

This is a favorite of mine. I have had it on repeat (while scrubbing my floors).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weight Struggle at 10.5 weeks

After my difficult week, I have been working hard to reevaluate my eating habits and straighten my head out a bit.  I see myself going in a dangerous direction, almost uncontrollably and my feelings about this are conflicted.

I am just going to be honest.

My reality is that even though I have lost 30 lbs, I could truly use to lose 30 more.  Technically, I'm only 10 lbs overweight, but my frame is small and I could benefit from losing an extra 20 lbs to feel entirely comfortable. I don't even want to be skinny.  I just want to be normal.  I want to be the sort of person who can just blend in and who people don't look at and automatically judge.  Because of this, it is difficult for me to see food as anything other than an enemy, something that makes me fat.  I REALLY do not want to be fat.  I sincerely wish that I was okay with being fat, but I'm not.  I am okay with OTHER people being fat, but I am sadly trapped in the distorted web of poor self esteem and inflated value in terms of my weight.  I have fought this battle for years, giving in and just eating myself into a plump reflection of the person I want to be, all while liking my hair and enjoying my crafts and being proud of the good friend I am and doting on my children and being loving to my husband.

My terrible reality is this: no matter how much I value the different parts of my person... the things that make me special... the way I work hard to be a good person/mother/friend/wife... I hate myself when I am fat.  HATE.  I look in the mirror and all I can think about is how ugly and disgusting I am.  I am ashamed to see people.  I don't want to go anywhere.  I don't want to have to meet or see people that my husband knows because I am so scared that they'll feel sorry for him for having to come home to such a disgusting fat ass every day.  I wish that I could unzip my body and crawl out of it.  I wish that I were just some other person who didn't have this problem and could just like herself and feel good about herself.  But I don't and I can't.

I try to talk to people about it and even though they say that they understand, I know that they don't.  I know that other people don't feel such desperation and such self-loathing in respect to their weight.

So, this week... since my emotional weight loss last week, I have been trying to slow my weight loss down, and for the above reasons, this is very emotional for me.  And when I am emotional I want to eat.  But I am trying to be healthy.  The last thing that I want to do is surrender and give in and give up.  I am trying to eat more, while still staying between 1200 and 1500 calories.  Last week I was eating between 500 an 800 calories per day, which I know isn't healthy.  But even those calories were making me feel awful and I had to resist the urge to make myself throw up every night.   Last night, I had to fight myself to snack on steamed summer squash instead of corn chips and cheese dip (which is what I really wanted).  I am totally that person who eats when I feel sad and then hates myself for doing it and feels worse and then wants to eat more.

Today, I am, instead of sitting down and smothering these sad feelings in pizza, I am writing this blog.  I am really trying to do healing things instead of turning to food.

I know that I am very unhealthy in my thoughts, but after 35 years of being totally fucked in the head over french fries, I am honestly doing the best I can.  I don't know that there's any hope for me.  I can only hope not to pass this terrible self esteem onto my children.

4th of July BBQ

We haven't had any parties or done much socially since we moved to California.  Truth be told, I think our family has just been exhausted.  I mean, in the past year we've lived in three different homes in three different states and our move to California happened quickly, was stressful and because of school, we didn't have time to catch our breath and settle in.  I can barely believe that we moved here almost six month ago.

But in the past six months two of Jay's good friends have gotten jobs with him at Twitter and have moved to California with their families.  So, instead of making new friends, I am pretty certain that my husband is just hellbent on moving all of his old friends here.

We have decided to host a 4th of July bbq.  There's little more that I love than planning a party- specifically the food for a party. There will be a couple of people here who are vegan, so I am excited about the challenge of offering lots of great vegan options as well as a schmorgesborg for the carnivores.

Here's what we're making!

vegan nachos with vegan cheese (that my friend Amber taught me to make) and all the fix in's.
veggies and humus and dip
marinated portabella mushroom burgers
veggie burgers
hot dogs
vegan pasta salad
baked bean casserole (covered in bacon and hot sauce)
fruit skewers
a porcupine watermelon
and maybe some cupcakes and cookies!
And then I think that I'm going to do these little limecello sorbet cups, both red and white sangria and beer!

There are fireworks that happen around a mile from our house and we think that we might be able to see them from the backyard!  I really hope so.

You know, I seriously love holidays.  I am just made so happy by celebrations and parties.  They really light a fire in me!

Farmer Lila

Lila is my little partner in crime.  It seems that my green-ening thumb has rubbed off on her and this morning she woke up, put on her robe and said, "mama, I'm going to go out and check the garden."  she came inside with two zucchini's and one ripe tomato.  She went into the kitchen, got two bowls and cut the tomato in half and served it up for us with some ranch.  

She's so cute!  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Adventures in Zucchini- Challenge 4

My top five comfort foods:

1.) Cereal and Milk (preferably Golden Grahams)
2.) Pretzels and Milk
3.) Chocolate Milk
4.) Peanut Butter and Jelly (crunchy peanut butter, grape jelly, wheat bread.  mmm) and a nice, cold glass of milk
5.) Macaroni and Cheese (with peas, especially)

Fact: Until right this second I had no idea how much I really do love milk.  You know, milk really agrees with me.  I hear people complain about milk so much and I even have a daughter who suffers with casein allergy.  I can tell you honestly that when I eat milk and cheese I both feel better and lose weight.  Same with Butter.  I mean, if I were slathering a piece of sourdough bread with a big, glob of soft butter and ended up with a bellyache, I can promise you this- the culprit would certainly be the bread and not the butter.

But that's beside the point.

Goodness, for most of my early 20's I ate macaroni and cheese for dinner at least four nights a week.   The kind from the box too.  And I never tired of it.  Come to think of it, if I thought that I could get away with doing this now, I would.  I, however, sadly am no longer 20 years old.  My 30's have not been so kind to me, unfortunately.

That said, I made a nice, big, homemade macaroni and cheese casserole to accompany dinner tonight.  And I thought, why not incorporate a little zucchini in this!

When I make mac and cheese I like to use a few different types of pasta, different shapes and both whole wheat and plain white pasta.  I cooked and then mixed in freshly sautéed and seasoned zucchini and onions.

Then, you mix up your favorite cheese sauce.  Mine is not for the lactose intolerant or the casein sensitive (though, I do plan on letting Bunny have a small portion of this tonight).

So, I'm not entirely sure about measurements here, but I'll estimate.

I usually mix 1/2 stick butter with 1/4 cup flour to make a roux.  Add around 2 cups of milk and let thicken, whisking constantly.  Add 1 package of cream cheese (cubed) and then around 2 cups cheddar cheese.  I might add a bit more milk here and there if it gets too thick.

Then, pour the cheese sauce over top of the macaroni.  Cover with shredded cheddar and bake at 350 for around 45 minutes.

Lila just passed by this and informed me that "dinner looks gorgeous."

My Garden at 10 Weeks

Some days, like today, I take a step back and admire the chaos of my garden beds.  The control freak in me fought to pluck plants that got too big or seedlings that sprouted up from the soil after I thought I'd removed them all.  But my inner control freak lost the argument and I have just been letting it all grow.

And grow it has done!  Well, with the exception of the plants that I am growing in bags of compost.  

For example, here is a picture of the watermelon that I planted in the dirt by my walkway.  It is roughly five times larger than it was the day that I planted it.  I planted all of my watermelon on the same day, but used different methods and different spaces.

And this is one of the watermelon that I planted in a compost bag.  It is pretty much exactly the same size as it was the day that I planted it.  I have tried everything.  I have removed as much of the bag as possible.  I have watered more.  I have watered less.  I have used plant food.  Nothing happens.  
So, when I bought my tomatoes I was under the impression that they were all the same type of tomato.  I guess that I was misinformed.   I have three plants.  They should all be beefsteak tomatoes.  One of them just sprouted a few baby tomatoes, but the other two have been pretty prolific.  The thing is that one of my plants has large green tomatoes.  They are already about the size of my fist and are hard and green.  Yet, my other plant has little, itty, bitty cherry-looking tomatoes that are small but are already turning orange.  At what point do I pick them?

All of my peppers are growing especially large!  I am not certain how big my yellow peppers are supposed to get before they actually turn yellow. I have one that is getting quite large but is still dark green!  

I am really please with my jalapeno!  I have a few plants and I do believe that one of them has several that are ready to be stuffed with cheese and pineapple, wrapped in bacon and turned into poppers!  I give them one more week before I can pick them! 

Bunny's corn is looking good!  It's growing , but I imagine that it will be August of September before it has corn that we are able to eat!
Hey, have you ever seen anything like this before?  This was the only plant that I left in my garden from the previous people who lived here.  It started as a plant with long green leaves (same shape as corn but tougher and larger) and then grew yellow flowers and NOW this!!!!)  It looks like something from outer space.  
I have my first flower on an acorn squash plant!  And it comes with a little, baby acorn squash!  Isn't it cute?
Some of my round zucchini has started to grow in sort of yellowish!  It tastes the same.  I'm wondering if it's possible that there's some cross pollination happening between my round zucchini and my yellow squash.  I have read that this is possible but I don't' know very much about it.

My garlic are getting big and strong.  I have to admit that I was hoping the other four garlic that I planted would eventually sprout, but I think it's a safe bet that these are the only two that made it!  I am gratefully that they made it, so I'm not going to complain!  This bed is already overcrowded, so it's probably a blessing in disguise.  
The cucumbers that I planted in compost bags are doing pretty terribly, but the seeds that I thought I plucked out and missed are actually doing remarkably well.  I put small cages around them.  In part to give them something to climb and in part to protect the from the squash that is sprawling across that bed.
There hasn't been much change in my pumpkins this week, but know the road to having pumpkins on vines will be long and winding.  
Here's something interesting.  In this picture you'll see my cardinal climbers in front of the bench.  On top of the bench are my mimosa plants, which are not doing so hot.  I think that I need to water them more.  To the right you'll see my old peppermint patch that has been covered with cardboard, mulch, compost, watermelon and cucumbers.  And then, between the old patch and the cardinal climbers you'll see a bunch of green coming up through the cracks in the concrete.  Guess what that is?  PEPPERMINT!  It's found a way to survive!!!!!!!
I realized that I haven't given any updates on my fruit trees lately!  I will post about them specifically later, but for now, my peaches are starting to plump up and turn, well, peach!  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Adventures in Zucchini- challenge 3

I've been getting really creative with my round zucchini and it was only a matter of time before I hollowed a few out and made them into bowls!

This just came out of the oven!

It would have been vegan had I not found myself compelled to toss a piece of swiss cheese onto the top of each zucchini.

Step One:  Hollow your zucchini!
Step Two: Saute your zucchini guts in a pan with veggies of your choice.  I used onion, yellow squash, red pepper and tomato.  You can use whatever you'd like.
Step Three: Add vegetable broth and let it simmer!
Step Four: Add cooked pasta of your choice.
Step Five: Stuff your zucchini and stick them in the oven at 350 for a half an hour.
And maybe even put a little bit of cheese on there for good measure.

And then pick it off when it's time for Bunny to eat hers!  :)

All in all this was a huge success. Both of the girls loved it and I feel like it was pretty healthy.

I have to say, I've been pretty blessed with kids who love vegetables.  Lila hates meat and Bunny won't eat the bread on anything, but both of them are pretty great when it comes to vegetables.

Heart Dropper

IMG_2489 a video by mamahollerz on Flickr.

Lila wrote this song the other day. For once I was smart enough to punch down all the lyrics and get a video clip of her singing it. She only makes it through a few seconds of the song, but it's enough to present the tune.

I don't know about you, but I think this is a hit.

Here are the lyrics:


Baby you're a heart dropper
Droppin' hearts from the sky
Bay you're a heart dropper
Ooh Ooh Ooh

Blood is squirting on the way down
Your heart is getting smaller
and my heart pounds
Ooh Ooooh Oooh

When the sky is becoming clear
You know that I"m right here
Oooh Oooh Oooh.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Adventures in Zucchini - Challenge 2


I'm trying to use a lot of round zucchini in creative ways.  We are eating it steamed and grilled for dinner every night, but I need ways to incorporate it into our diets in other ways.  No zucchini will go to waste.  Mark my words.  

I served this fried zucchini up with homemade pink sauce.  

Weight Update- Week 10

I've had a difficult week in respect to my weight and my efforts to lose weight.  After my big drop last week I had this bizarre inner struggle.  First, I know that it's not healthy to lose 8 pounds in a week.  And last Thursday I tried to make peace with the fact that the number on the scale must not even be real, it must be some sort of fluke.  But I wasn't able to accept it and I got on the scale every day this week, not so much to be sure that the number went down, but more to be certain that it didn't go back up.  It's difficult to have a good relationship with a scale, and though weighing in once a week is a useful tool, over-weighing can become an obsession of mine.  The number on the scale can really make or break the way I feel about myself, which is very unhealthy and disordered thinking.

This week, in conjunction with over weighing, I also developed a terrible amount of guilt after eating anything at all.  Mostly, I hate myself for overeating.  There were several times this week when we sat down to eat and I felt like I overdid it a bit, particularly when we went out to dinner for father's day.  I really love guacamole and we went to a South American restaurant and the guacamole was to die for.  I didn't eat any of the chips that went with it, but I found myself eating forkful after forkful of guacamole.  And then I hated myself for it later. Lately it seems that instead of looking forward to a meal, dreading it and worrying about the way I will feel after I eat it.  The girls and I are going into San Francisco this evening to a fun event at the new Twitter building and I am already worrying about all the food and drinks that will be present.  Jay does a lot of bragging about how delicious their every-day food is, but today is a special day, so I am sure that it will be more and better.

I honestly wish that I could just quit food altogether so that I wouldn't have to have all of these negative feelings about it.  I wish that it wasn't something that I had such a hard time controlling and had such a direct effect on the way I feel about myself.  It's so horrible that food is a thing that's purpose is to nourish me and to keep me alive and healthy, and yet every time I take a bite of something I feel like I'm poisoning myself.

I feel really emotionally drained from my stupid diet.

But I lost 5 more pounds this week, which bring my total to 31 pounds in 10 weeks.

I also added a multi-vitamin for women because my online food journal gives me a breakdown of the nutrients I eat and I have been consistently coming up short on several vitamins.

Sorry this is such a depressing post.  I realize that I should be celebrating because I lost 5 lbs, after all.  I am extremely happy to lose the weight, believe me.  I just wish that I felt better about myself and I wish that my relationship with food and my weight were easier and healthier.

I wish I was a person who liked myself just as much when I'm fat as I do when I'm not.  That is the kind of person I want to be, but it's not who I am right now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Zucchini Challenge #1

When given an abundance of zucchini, get creative!

I used one giant zucchini this afternoon to make my girls a crustless quiche for lunch!

They loved it!

I used purple onion, zucchini and broccoli!  As a bonus, Lila discovered SNAILS eating my F#$kI$! corn plants, so I can sprinkle the egg shells around to send my warning.


Zucchini Confession

I have to admit that I am getting sick of grilled and steamed summer squash every night with dinner, but they are growing faster than we can eat them.  I read that round zucchini are supposed to be around the size of pool balls, but I swear to god that some of mine are the size of pool balls in the morning and grow to be small watermelons by sun down!  My zucchini might be magical, the jury is still out.

My point:  recipes are welcome.  

Put them in the comments or email me: annapholler@gmail.com


I don't know that I had ever been to a drive-in before last night.  If I had, it was probably in the late 70's.  Chances are that they've changed since then.

It's no surprise that the awesome town we live in (that has pretty much everything, also ) has a big drive-in movie theater.  I pass it every time I go to Lowe's, which is about as often as I brush my teeth these days.  I've always been curious about it.

A few days ago I decided to check it out online and was super-excited to see that on Tuesday night I could take my kids there and pay a grand total of $7 for a movie.  Adults are $5 and kids are $1.  The thing about me is that for $7 I will buy pretty much anything.  I will buy pants in a size 2.  I will buy a gift certificate for body builders protein powder.  I will buy a maternity belt if it is made from the sort of material that I could just poke holes in to adjust.  I will buy a book about travel inside the walls of the Vatican.  I will buy Groovy-James snow boots and an Eskimo coat.  My point, even when I have no use for it, I can not resist a good deal!

Truth be told, I had no idea what the drive in would be like.  All I knew what that they were playing Madagascar 3 at 8:55 pm and that when I mentioned it to my kids they flew over the moon with joy.

So, we got there are around 8:40, just before sundown.  There was a quick moving line of cars at the gate and I didn't even need to get out of my car to pay.  When paying I told the woman that I'd never been there before and she explained where to go for Madagascar and when radio station to put on in my car to hear the movie.  She said that I should turn the engine off and that if the car dies they have complimentary jumps.  Thankfully, my car didn't die.

When we got to our spot we noticed a playground near a concession building.   The girls and I decided to walk over and check things out.  Though we brought snacks, there is just nothing better than movie theater popcorn.  I was blown away by the amazing prices.  I got the kids a huge drink and gigantic popcorn in a collectors bucket for $10.  So, my total spent is $17.  As a point of reference, when I took the kids to see Beauty and the Beast it was about $80 (and maybe more) with snacks.

A little trivia:  did you know that the #1 place that people in the suburbs pick up bed bugs is at the movie theater?

I'll just let you think about that for a second.

So, we turned on the radio in our car without putting the engine on, tuned in and as the sun sank the movie began.  Our sound was excellent and I loved the fact that I could turn it up or down.  The girls  brought pillows and blankets and loved the trill of sitting on the hood of the car with their popcorn and watching a movie.  When it got a little bit later they curled up in the car.  We didn't get home until nearly 11, which is an insanely late night for us, but it was well worth it.

All in all, we had a great time and I can't wait to do it again!