Tartine Bread

I am so excited about one of the purchases I made at Powell’s the other day!

Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson is a beautiful book about the simple craft of baking bread. Chad is the baker behind the Tartine Bakery in San Francisco and it is not difficult to see that when it comes to this craft, Chad is truly an artist. From the back of the front cover:

The bread at San Francisco’s legendary Tartine Bakery sells out within an hour almost every day. At 5 pm, these rugged, magnificent loaves are drawn from the oven. The first cut yields steam and room-filling aroma, exposing an open and tender interior underneath the burnished, substantial crust. This distinctive bread was developed by renowned baker Chad Robertson over a decade of working with the finest artisan bakers in the United States and France, followed by another decade of baking solo in a small wood-fired oven on the coast of Northern California. The following for this singular bread far exceeds the bakery’s limited daily production.

And Chad’s own words about his inspirations:

My strongest inspiration came not from real bread but from images — images of a time and place when bread was the foundation of a meal and at the center of daily life. There is a painting of boaters gathered at a riverside table. At the head, a large crusty loaf held close to the heart is cut into wedges to commence the meal. . . . This was elemental bread that sustained generations. To find this bread, I would have to learn to make it. Thus began my search for a certain loaf with an old soul.

The photos in this book are inspiring and beautifully simple.




All of the recipes in this book use a sourdough starter as the leavening agent and from the very beginning of the book Chad impresses upon the reader that bread-making is not a task that can be rushed. It’s a message I understand well — years of crafting have shown me that making things by hand is a time-consuming process. It was a bit frustrating, though, for this inspired would-be bread baker who couldn’t wait to get home and start throwing the flour around.

Instead, I contented myself with beginning my sourdough starter, which I am now checking, cultivating and caring for every day. We’re at least a week away from having a delicious hand-crafted loaf — I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Ups and Downs

small steps

So, in my last post I was feeling so encouraged about staying on-plan because I was having such a good Friday. I weighed-in with a 3.8 lbs loss and I was having a busy, productive day that left little time for sitting around and stuffing my face :-). It looked like I was successfully overcoming my bad post-weigh-in splurge habit.

Well, that was Friday. Saturday was a different story.

Things started out fine enough. I got up, weighed myself (I’m a daily weigh-er) and was surprised and delighted with the results. I was down another 1.5 pounds! It seemed like I could hit the 230’s before school starts (in a week and a half)!

As the day went on things got even better. My paycheck hit my account early and I discovered that my Chinook Book coupons (a local coupon app that costs a little bit of money, but is totally worth it) expire this weekend, so I used it as an excuse to do a little shopping.

It was a deliciously rainy afternoon so Alice, Leo and I soaked in the Portland goodness. We went to Powell’s and a couple of local cooking shops and got completely inspired about food. I figured that since we’re swearing off restaurants for the month of September, we could afford to spend a little on cookware and supplies that would make the experience easier and more fun. Here’s what we got:

After the shopping, we decided to have one last restaurant meal (at Deschutes, completing the Portland perfection). We sat at the table, read through our books and got completely inspired.


Every time I go to Deschutes I have trouble figuring out what to eat. I’ve had more than a few disappointing meals there, and I’m not sure why we keep going there, except that we love the ambiance and it pairs so nicely with a trip to Powell’s. So, as I looked over the menu nothing looked very good, except for the super-fattening macaroni and cheese. I debated, knowing it had the potential to ruin my awesome streak, but I really did not want to pay so much money only to be disappointed by my meal. The fact that it was our last restaurant meal for awhile gave me even more of an excuse to just go for it.

So, I had a couple of beers and half of the macaroni and cheese entree. I really have no idea of the calorie count for that meal, but I estimated using information from other restaurants and I found that it all fit within my calories for the day. We went home, Alice made apple crisp (yes, I ate a little) and I had another beer (this was hours later) — so I was definitely over, but I didn’t think it was too bad.

Well, this morning I got up for my daily weigh-in and found myself back up at 244! That’s .4 over my Friday weigh-in and 2.2 pounds over yesterday’s weight! Man, was I bummed!

So, the whole experience has me thinking about this habit of weighing myself daily. I think it is a practice I will continue, but I need to think about how to prevent my attitude from fluctuating with every fluctuation of the scale. I started using an app called Happy Scale that averages out the fluctuations to estimate your current weight and predict future weight loss. I think it is a good start to helping me keep my attitude in check.

I know a lot of people recommend avoiding the scale throughout the week and just weighing in on your usual weigh-in day. I can see the value in that, but for me, I appreciate knowing where I stand daily. After all, if I hadn’t weighed myself this morning I wouldn’t know that I really need to pour on the weight-loss effort in the next few days.

When I recommitted to this project, my plan was to never “give back” a pound lost and when I saw yesterday’s number, I was excited by the idea of just going down from there. I guess I need to recognize that daily fluctuations happen and never “giving back” a pound lost is a somewhat unreasonable expectation.

So, I’m not letting yesterday’s indulgence and today’s result derail my weight-loss plan. Though I am more convinced than ever that giving up restaurant eating is key!

Weigh-In #1

This week’s weight: 243.2

Pounds lost: 3.8 lbs.

This was my first weigh-in since turning over this new leaf and I’m pretty pleased with the results, especially since it really only counts 4 days of being “on plan.”

It seems like my dieting habit of-late is that I stay on plan for a few days, log one Friday weigh-in and then lose momentum after an end-of-the-week splurge. I’m feeling good and confident that my no-restaurant pledge and this blog will keep me on target this time, though. I’ve also had a really busy, low-calorie Friday so far, so things look good! I’m pretty sure the numbers will go down tomorrow!

My Life with Exercise

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with exercise for a long time. My body would probably be happier if I kept a better balance, but unfortunately the scale has tipped more towards the hate side. Below is a brief autobiography of my life with exercise.

Age 5 Little freckle-faced Meredith is given an AYSO soccer flyer encouraging new kindergarteners to sign up. Handing the pink xeroxed copy to her mother, Meredith asks, “Do I have to?”

Age 11 Middle school PE. Agonizing coming-in-last runs around the school campus in the heat. Lonely last-one-picked stand-alone moments on the field. (How did any of us survive middle school?!)

photo Tara Faul
photo Tara Faul

Age 13 Latch-key-kid Meredith finds a Jackie Sorensen aerobics VHS tape. This went very nicely with the Olivia Newton-John Physical album in her bedroom. Even better, she could dance along all by herself before anyone else got home.

Age 15 Though the PE class agony continued with chicken-out moments on the high dive, Meredith took to walking the mile and a half to school to enjoy fresh air in the morning and the companionship of a good friend.

olivia newton-john

College No exercise. Binge drinking instead.

Age 21 Brief membership at Bally’s Fitness (a gym in Southern California.) Resulted in a few weeks of step-aerobics classes and a damaged credit report.

Age 22 Growing up in Southern California, for a couple of weeks Meredith decided to become one of those people who runs on the beach. This plan was diverted by a very active social life (which also happens to take place at the beach.)

Age 24-30 Having babies and looking after toddlers. Exercise enough.

mom exercise

Age 33 A friend suggests participating in a Danskin Triathlon. Meredith discovers she loves swimming, biking and running (in that order.) Signed up and completed a couple of years in a row.


Age 35 While training for Danskin, Meredith decides that running on a treadmill is her thing. The numbers keep her going and she sets the speed so she is motivated to meet personal goals. Keeps it up running 3-4 times/week either at the gym or on Mom’s treadmill for a long while. Living in a very hilly neighborhood had nothing to do with this choice.

Age 40 Meredith moves to Portland and discovers that there is a track in her very safe neighborhood. Develops a habit of heading to the track at night after the last child is tucked into bed. The track reminds her of the flat treadmill and the stats on her phone remind her of the numbers on the machine. She keeps this up for a year, completing the Couch to 5K program and participating in several 5K races along the way.


Age 41 Meredith boldly signs up for a half-marathon. She completes the race after months of training and promptly decides to never do it again. She’ll stick with her 5K’s, thankyouverymuch.

Age 43 Meredith has taken a break from exercise and is suddenly realizing that (whether she likes it or not) the next logical chapter in this biography would be a headlong, dedicated plunge into the world of fitness.

Meredith’s Pizza Dough

My 16-year-old daughter has become quite passionate about nutrition. She has been eating a vegetarian diet for most of the summer and has decided to go completely plant-based when school starts. Well, school starts tomorrow, so she’s requested a last hurrah pizza dinner for tonight.

Meredith’s Pizza Dough is our family pizza dough recipe that has been around for so long, we nobody knows where it came from (I presumptuously took the liberty of giving it my name). It’s a pretty basic recipe, though, so I’m sure it’s fine to share. This recipe is so easy (especially if you have a food processor or standing mixer) that we have given up finding substitutes (like pre-made crusts or dough from the grocery store.) Those substitutes don’t even compare when it comes to flavor and texture, so from scratch is definitely worth it in this case.

You’ll see the recipe makes 4 individual pizza crusts that weigh-in at a whopping 392 calories each. Rest assured that one pizza crust makes a pretty substantial meal and once you pile it with lots of veggie toppings you’ve got enough pizza to have dinner and lunch the next day.

Meredith’s Pizza Dough

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 22 minutes

Yield: 4

Serving Size: 8-inch pizza crust

Calories per serving: 394

Meredith’s Pizza Dough


  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 packages (4 tsp.) dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil


Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand for five minutes.

Meanwhile, place flour, salt and olive oil in food processor or standing mixer. Blend. Add yeast mixture to the flour mixture in a steady stream. Run food processor for 40 seconds or standing mixer for 1-2 minutes. Add more flour or water if necessary (not usually necessary.) Turn out onto floured board and stretch and roll into shape.

To prepare pan, smear with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal (dough doesn’t usually stick to pan, but cornmeal helps make sure.) Put pizza dough on, add toppings, bake at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes.


What I Ate Wednesday

This week for What I Ate Wednesday, you’ll see the camp food trend continues. I’m glad to be home eating my own food now and I think it’ll be easier to stay on plan. I did end up going over yesterday, but I think I made some pretty good choices, all things considered.


1/2 cup of hash brown potatoes — 207

1 cup oatmeal — 147

Brown sugar (2tsp) — 24

Fruit salad — 73

total: 451


Ham and Cheese Sandwich — 346

Salad with ranch — 110

1/2 Chocolate chip cookie — 40

total: 496


Baked BBQ Chicken Leg (2) — 364

Small salad with ranch — 65

total: 429


Trail mix with almonds — 462

Plum — 45

total: 507

Total calorie goal: 1530

Actual calories: 1883

Exercise calories (via iPhone steps): 63

Net Calories for the day: -290

Faculty Retreat

So, I spent the first day of this fresh start on the Oregon coast at our school’s faculty retreat. It was nice to get away, breathe in the salty air, and get out of my loose summertime routine, but it certainly didn’t make for an easy day of counting calories and tracking my food. 


We ate in your typical summer camp cafeteria. The food was decent, there was salad available, but there was also strawberry shortcake. With whipped cream. I indulged in a little of that but the evening trail mix (sesame sticks!) probably hurt me more than the shortcake did. 

Body Stuff

The retreat began with some team-building challenges and we were told to wear closed-toe shoes. Great. I’ve heard of these kinds of things — courses where teams hurl their comrades over ropes, trust exercises where teams catch trusting colleagues. Um, no thank you. 

There wasn’t anything as major as that, and I happily and comfortably participated in a couple of the challenges. The one that had me drawing a line, though, involved walking and balancing on a series of cables strung between trees and working together to get the entire team to the end of the line. I’ve got terrible balance and I knew I wouldn’t get very far, no matter how much people helped me. Luckily, I wasn’t the only colleague to opt out, so it wasn’t a huge deal. 

I have to wonder, though, how differently I would have felt about the challenges if my weight weren’t an issue? My balance would’ve been better, I would’ve felt lighter on my feet and I would’ve been more flexible in my movement. 

This is the kind of thing that really bothers me about my current size. I’ll be so glad to start making some progress and seeing some changes!

Day One

I’ll post a more detailed post about myself and my story, but for now I’m starting this blog as a place to document and hold myself accountable as I get fit. It’s entirely likely that no one other than myself will read this, but blogging on WordPress is the most familiar and comfortable way for me to put my thoughts down somewhere, so this is where it’s happening. It has the potential to be something pretty awesome.

But, let’s start small and set some goals for posting.

  • Weekly photos — Mondays
  • What I Ate Wednesday (posting Tuesday’s food journal)
  • Workout Week in Review (step count, other workout stuff) — Fridays
  • Other posts as needed — strive for daily (recipes, mental health, gear)

Let’s get started with some photos (no full body shots for now, coming soon.)

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