In Search of the Holy Grail (of Frozen Yogurts)

When I first discovered my beloved Yogelina’s and fell in love with the frozen tart deliciousness, I did a little research online.  It seemed that Pinkberry was the granddaddy of this new trend of healthy tart frozen yogurt shops that were popping up everywhere.  Ever since then I have searched high and low for a Pinkberry within range of my travels so I could check them out.  A few months ago, I discovered that they were opening a shop in a town about an hour away.  A trip was planned.  Mapquest was consulted.  My friend and I drove up and something about the decor looked a little askew.  There were ladders and stacks of chairs… they weren’t opening for another three days!!!

So today I had a doctor’s appointment–for that stupid bump on my finger–and again we planned a trip that would include Pinkberry.  We decided to eat lunch somewhere where we could get a salad so we would be able to have the yogurt too.  Went to Baja Fresh.  They have a salad that I just love that is not on the menu.  If any of you go there, this is a great salad to order.  Its called a ‘side by side.’  Romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, avocado slices, salsa, a little cheese, a little guacamole, and it is all arranged separately on the plate so you can use as much or as little of each ingredient as you like.  I always get the non fat green salsa-like dressing (sorry don’t know the name.)  Anyway, this is a delicious salad, and a really healthy choice.  You don’t even have to eat the chips…

Anyway, we got to town a little early, and I saw a new grocery story everybody at work has been raving about.  Called Henry’s Farmers Market, they are supposed to rival Trader Joe’s.  They were relatively small, like Trader Joe’s, but quite a bit different.  Their produce section was HUGE, and quite beautiful.  We didn’t spend too much time there since we were traveling and it was too warm to keep produce in the car.  We did each score a large honeydew melon for $1.50.  We spent most of our time exploring the ‘bins.’  Oh that was fun.  The prices seemed really really reasonable compared to buying things in the boxes.  I got steel cut oats, walnuts, dried cranberries, some gorgeous crimson-golden raisins, and just a bit of trail mix.

Then dropped my friend off where she could shop for a bit while I went over to the doctor’s.  My blood pressure was 102/64.  I am pretty proud of that number.  The first time I went to the doctor, about 5 1/2 years ago, just a couple of months before I started the weight loss journey, my blood pressure was something like 146/90.  Just on the verge of needing medical intervention.  That number alone is worth all the work I have put into this.

So the doctor laughed a bit at my sketchy medical history.  She thought the bump on my finger was weird too, and ordered xrays.  Then I talked to her about my arthritis.  Its bugging the daylights out of me that my ankle is now hurting.  And guess what she said.  GUESS!  She said, well, its just a part of aging. Can you believe it?  She didn’t even try to soften it up.  But she said I could still keep trying to run.  That’s good.

Okay.  On to the point of this post.  Oh.  Wait.  She also talked me into scheduling a colonoscopy, a mammogram, and bloodwork.  I asked my friend if I could have frozen yogurt after the colonoscopy.  How old am I?  Ten?

FINALLY.  We got to Pinkberry.  ALL OF THEIR FLAVORS ARE TART!  Finally.  That alone makes them better than any other frozen yogurt place I have been to.  They were really friendly, giving us a complete ‘tour’ of their yogurts, free samples of the flavors, and an explanation of their toppings (all the fruit is prepared fresh daily.)  They are not self-serve, and their servings are a reasonable size.  We each got a small (a small is 150 calories.)  Oh my.  The deliciousness.  The creaminess.  The richness.  The purity and the tartness.  Absolute perfection.  My friend and I agreed it was the best frozen yogurt we have had.  It was so good we went back and ordered another small bowl  that we split and shared…

The Way Not to Eat

Just so ya know.   When I post a day of eating like that last post, I really did eat exactly that stuff that day.  But every day does not go exactly like that.  Today started out good, with a big bowl of ‘Custard oats.’  Yumm.  I grabbed an apple and a couple of lo bars to take with me and headed out to church, planning to work out at the gym afterward.

There were a couple of special missionary guys there today, and so they had a luncheon after.  I wanted to stay and hear more, so I did.  I had one excellent cookie while I was helping to set up, and then I looked over at the table of food.  All I could see were sandwiches and chips.  And a giant array of desserts.

Well, it turned out there were a couple of salads hidden in there, so that was excellent.  I took just a few chips to enjoy.  And I picked out one dessert.  Then the premier baker in our church, a lady I love, showed me the desserts she had made.  So I took one of each ‘to take home.’

Then I went to the gym. Had an EXCELLENT workout.  Followed the same pattern as the day before–30 minutes on the weights, down to the treadmill.  Had been hoping to run this time, but my ankle was really bothering me.  So I just cranked it up to as fast as I could walk, and put it on a little incline.  Oh, and I figured out how to use the headphones and watch tv–FUN!  I got some extra inspiration because there was a horse race with the lead/favored horse being a 10 year old female!  I had been thinking I was going to quit or slow it down, and that really got me going.  So I did 20 minutes there and then went out to the pool for 20 minutes of lap swimming.  It was a little chilly today, so I went in the spa afterward.  Lovely.  So during my workout, I was thinking about….drumroll…FOOD.  What else?  Thinking about those desserts.  Thinking about ‘my food’ that I like so much.  How was I going to fit it all in?  By the time I got to the car, I decided to taste the desserts, and just as I thought, they were not ‘worthy.’  They were not what I really wanted.  So I mashed them up and ate the lo bar and the apple on my way home.

But once I got home, I was kind of at loose ends.  Noah was restless, so I really couldn’t do anything.  It was too early for dinner.  And I wasn’t really hungry.  So I just kept snacking.  Aaaack.   Finally decided to take Noah for a walk.  Which was good for him, and it stopped the snackage.

So on my walk I thought about….drumroll….FOOD.  What else?  Now I was really full.  What was I going to do for dinner?  I felt like I needed to get some vegetables in.  But I didn’t really want to cook.  Its Sunday night.  I usually like to have a ‘treat’ on Sunday night (never mind that I just had 233938948 treats during the snackage.)  Then I came up with a pretty good idea.  I could make some zucchini custard oats out of the leftovers from this morning’s breakfast!   That would get the veggies in, and it would be nourishing, but kind of like a dessert treat.

So I shredded some zucchini, put it in the microwave for a minute, grated some lemon  zest into the custard oats, and stirred in the zucchini.  And that’s what’s waiting for me after I finish writing this blog.

After I fixed that, I took the two house monsters and Noah for a walk.  Since its been cooler these past two days I have started doing this.  Unfortunately, I think Mr. Monk really is as old as they told me, and he tires out pretty quickly.  He very gladly accepted my offer of carrying him home.    Yikes, I got in some extra weight lifting there.  The little guy weighs at least 20 pounds.

So actually, this post is just an excuse to post some doggie pictures.  Saturday I took Noah to dog training.  I was so proud of him.  The trainer said she thought he might be ready to do a recall off leash.  I was sure he would just do his own thing–visit the other dogs or take off running.  But he came to me!!  I was so excited.

I was really tired, so I spent most of the rest of the day on the couch, watching episodes of ‘The Dog Whisperer.’ I am finally starting to ‘get’ some of his concepts.  Here is the view from the couch:

Mr. Monk got the ‘place of honor’ right next to me:

Noah is such a handsome boy, isn’t he?

I think Sophie wants to be friends with Noah…

Sophie and I practiced ‘rules, boundaries, and limitations’ a la Cesar.  Sophie ALWAYS wants to be on top of me.  And usually I am most happy to comply.  But if I don’t want her touching me, it is quite a war of the wills.  Her expression in these pictures cracks me up.  She REALLY wants to be touching/on top of my leg.

And lastly, a classic picture of a classy guy:

The Way to Eat

**This entry was actually written on Thursday, but it made that post entirely too long, so I decided to split it into two.

So, in case you or I did not think I was influenced by what I see, here is what I had to eat today.

Saw Lori’s protein waffles on her blog last night, and decided that was what I would have for breakfast.  I was out of  cottage cheese, so substituted yogurt.  they didn’t look nearly as pretty as Lori’s, but they tasted great.  I have not been happy with the blueberry sauce when I have tried to make it, but decided to try one last time, and had the idea of adding in a little apple juice.  That made it just right!

Yesterday I had a hankering for honeydew melon, so stopped at the farmer’s market to get one.  It was gigantic, and cost $8, but oh man, most worthy!   So sweet.   That’s what I had for my mid-morning snack.

At lunchtime, I spied the strawberries that I had purchased at the FM, so took those out.  I decided to go ‘a la Lori’ again, and just had the strawberries with some yogurt and topped with the crumbs from the above bars.  That’s a pretty small lunch for me, but I knew I wanted a mid-afternoon snack to try the bars.

Late afternoon:  Starbuck’s iced coffee and the energy bar.  It had 3 chocolate chips in it!

For dinner, I had noticed Pubsgal’s fish from the night before, and it put me in the mood for a simple fish filet.  Pan-fried (with Pam) over medium high heat with just garlic salt, and then the juice of a whole lemon  squeezed over the fish when it is done cooking.  Paired it with this excellent salad.  This is the first time I have bought goat cheese, and I loved these little individual rounds.  One round is 70 calories, and I only used 1/2 of one.   This was so tasty.  Usually I only have a ‘big salad’ as a meal.  Oh, and I had a home grown tomato on the side.

Pear,walnut, goat cheese, and spinach salad.

Plan to finish out the night with that perfect trifecta of desserts:  a little greek yogurt with a bit of muesli, walnuts and chocolate chips on top.   Come to think of it, I could just crumble half of one of those bars on it, and I would have about the same thing!

Trifecta reminds me of triathlon.  A big congratulations goes to my friend Pubsgal, who just finished her third triathlon!!!   She does a great race report.  Go on over there and congratulate her on such an amazing accomplishment.

And if you just need a bit of cheering up, or inspiration of some sort, check out this video.  Has everybody heard of this guy except me?

Anatomy of a Recipe Experiment

I saw this recipe for energy bars a while ago and had it bookmarked.  The only ingredient I didn’t have was tahini.

Tahini is a ground sesame seed paste, similar to peanut butter. It is a creamy, oily, and smooth nut butter rich in calcium.
I got tahini sauce when I was at Trader Joe’s so I would have it on hand.  Today the mood struck to ‘cook’ so I printed the recipe out and after our walk, got to work.  Here’s the original recipe:

Healthy Energy Bars
(Inspired by a recipe in Runner’s World Magazine last year, this is a great stand-in for those high quality all-natural energy bars that cost so much at the health food store, easy to make and delicious too!)

1 cup dry oatmeal
1/2 cup dry unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup raisins or dried currants
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 T ground flaxseed
3/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup good quality natural honey (best if cold processed, unpasturized and unfiltered!)*

Opened the tahini sauce and it smelled funny.  Checked the ingredients–GARLIC.  That wouldn’t do in this energy bar recipe.  Substitution #1:  coconut oil instead of the tahini. But since coconut oil is higher in calories (and I presume higher in fat?) I substituted 1/2 cup of coconut oil instead of the 3/4 cup of tahini.

I mixed all the dry ingredients together, and pretty much followed the original recipe, except I only had about 2 Tbsp of coconut flakes, and I added a couple of Tbsp of flax SEEDS because I like them.  And I added 2 slices of dried pears cut into little chunks.  Oh.  And about 2 tsp cinnamon.  Because everything is better with cinnamon .

Melted the coconut oil in the microwave, added the honey, and added them to the dried ingredients.  Took a taste.  Bleagh!!!  TOO SWEET!!  Substitution  #2 (or 3 or 4 if you’re counting)  I added in another entire cup of dry oatmeal.  Tiny taste.  Aaack!  Too sweet!!  One of my goals in experimental baking is to indulge my sweet tooth while re-training my taste buds  to be satisfied with only slightly sweetened treats.  Checked out the cupboard to see what else I could add.  I ended up adding another 2 cups of oat bran!  I added a little at a time to make sure the mixture didn’t get too dry.

By this time there was 4X the original amount of oats in the recipe, so I added 2 more Tbsp of flax seeds, and another 1/4 cup of walnuts.

I knew from the start that I was going to add chocolate chips to the bars.  I had the idea of pressing them into the top of the bars so that I would get an even amount of chips in each bar.  What?  I’m not obsessive about my chocolate.  I just want it the way I want it.  So I put the mix in a 9X13 pan.  That would make the bars too thick.  So I got another 9X9 pan out and put 1/3 of the mix in there.  I decided how they would eventually be cut, and I carefully placed 3 chocolate chips on the top of each bar.  Then I tried to press the mixture down.  First with my hand, and then with a flat metal chopping tool.  Darn chocolate chips wouldn’t behave at all.  They kept getting moved around.  So I took the mix back out of both pans and just mixed the chips in.

Dumped 2/3 of the mix  back in the big pan  and the other 1/3 in the small pan, pressed the mix down with that flat metal tool, and put in the fridge to firm up.

**Later in the day.  The first pan I took out and cut into bars was kind of crumbly.  But I managed to get them wrapped individually for freezing.  The second pan, which I left in the fridge just a bit longer, held together much better and was easy to cut and wrap individually.

***Much later in the day.  Taste test.  I had one bar as a mid-afternoon snack with my newest love:  Starbuck’s Via Iced Coffee.  Oh how yummy, and so easy.  Only thing is, which I think I mentioned before, it has a little sugar in it, which makes it a 50 calorie addition to my snack.  Tres worthy, IMO.  Okay, back to the energy bar review.  I think I got carried away with the oatmeal and the oat bran.  I enjoyed the bar very much, but it was quite ‘whole grainy’ and crumbly.  I think it would be a bit much for most people.  Would be really good crumbled on top of most anything.  Here’s a pic:

And here’s my final recipe.  I am going to work on this again sometime, and see if I can’t perfect the ingredients.

2 cups dry oatmeal, 2 cups oat bran
2 Tbsp dry unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup raisins , 2 dried pear slices, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
4 Tbsp ground flaxseed, 2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup good quality natural honey (best if cold processed, unpasturized and unfiltered!)*


Hurts So Good

First of all, let me say thank you for all the nice comments.  I could do a whole post around some of them.  Blogging sure is fun when you have the time to do it.

So I’ve noticed a pattern with these out of town trips.  Usually I am trying to make them as fast as  I can (so I don’t have to leave the dogs too long) and I am also trying to give the maximum amount of time to both my dad and my mom.  How it often works out is like this:  I have a day or two of work, and then I get up and leave the next morning.  I could stop at the gym, and I usually consider it, but then I decide I should ‘give’ that time to my mom or dad.  And when I get to the hotel I am tired and don’t want to work out.  And the next morning I am in a hurry to get to the other parent’s to give them the max time.

If you are following this, it means 3 days with a LOT of time in the car driving, and no workouts at all.  Which makes me feel REALLY old and REALLY stiff.  I’m not kidding.  I get out of the car and I swear it is an exact imitation of my 83-year-old dad walking.  But I don’t correlate it at first with all the car driving/lack of working out.   I just start thinking I am really getting out of shape,  and aging quickly.  And sometimes–I’m sure none of you has ever experienced this–that faulty thinking just sort of implodes on you and its harder and harder to get out for the walk or to go to the gym.

I don’t have to keep repeating that pattern, and I am going to take steps to change it.  There are several things I can do.  I can stop at the gym for a workout on my way out of town.  I can also stop at the gym on my way back into town (the gym is on the way to almost any place I am traveling from my home.)  I can take some fun  equipment with me.  I bought some cord things for just that purpose.  And of course, I have a litany of bodyweight exercises that I can do without any equipment.  I can make sure I make a reservation at a hotel with a gym.  And I can just get out and go for a walk before I head over to the parent’s.  I just have to make it a priority like I have done with bringing good food with me.  AND I AM GOING TO DO THIS.  I AM GOING TO REPEAT IT ENOUGH TIMES THAT IT BECOMES A HABIT.   AMEN.

Anyways.  Back to the topic at hand–hurts so good.  So even though it is deathly hot here, I took Noah for a quick walk this morning.  Then I had to go out for an appointment, but I made sure to take my gym bag with me.  And I FORCED myself to go to the gym before I went home.  Once I got there, everything was okay.  The weights felt a little heavier than usual.  But I was able to pick up where I left off.  I worked out on the weights for half an hour, then headed downstairs for something new.

Worked up all my nerve, and asked for a tutorial on the treadmills.  Which I really didn’t need, since I have used them at hotels.  But I am so intimidated to try something new.  Over a year at the gym, and this is the first time I have even APPROACHED the treadmills.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t wearing ‘the right equipment’ for running, but that was okay.  I walked at a fast clip for about a mile.  Then headed out to the swimming pool for some wonderful laps–about 20 minutes worth.   And now I hurt, but its a different hurt than that ‘feeling old and stiff’ hurt.  This hurt makes me walk faster, hold my head higher, and pull my stomach in.  This hurt makes me feel good about myself.

GOOD LINKS

In yesterday’s comments, Vickie quoted Barbara Berkley of Refuse to Regain, and it is such a brilliant quote I really hope you will all go read it.  It states exactly some of the side benefits to losing and maintaining a weight loss that are actually better than a smaller size.  These are things I have noticed and appreciated but have forgotten to point out on this blog.  My complexion is so much better than it used to be.   I stopped wearing make-up a long time ago because it really bothered my eyes.  And now I think my skin looks so much better than it used to.  It used to be kind of ruddy and blotchy.  I have also noticed that I seldom get sick any more.

PJ posted some words of wisdom from her doctor about losing weight slowly.  I am begging you girls who are so impatient to lose your weight to go and read these words.  I’m telling you, they are THE TRUTH.  You can lose it as fast as you want, but there is still a ton of work that must be done that has nothing to do with getting the weight off.

Not Going Back

That’s what I wrote in an email to a friend.   Along with the rest of the statement:  “I wonder if I’m just jerking myself around, working on the emotional side.  Am I just using it as an excuse to eat?  Am I just tired of the whole thing?  I’m not going back, though.”

Its been an interesting couple of weeks.  Work–when I’ve been there–has been stressful.  But there’s been very little junk food in the  breakroom.  And I managed to control myself nicely at most of that food.

Saturday I went to a party at my neighbor’s house.  I NEVER go to parties.  But it was my neighbor who ‘babysits’ my animals, so I thought I could be sociable for once.  It was an engagement party for her daughter, and you were supposed to bring your favorite side dish or appetizer, along with the recipe, so they could compile a cook book for the new couple.  A cute idea really.  I kind of agonized over what to bring.  Wanted to bring one of my healthy recipes, but sometimes ‘regular’ people don’t like ‘healthy’ food, know what I mean?   I finally settled on my shrimp ceviche, which I think is delicious no matter which side of the table you’re on.

So basically, this was  like a potluck, and I was actually looking forward to trying out some of the food.  After all, people were supposed to bring ‘their favorites.’  The thought I left with was that I have become accustomed to very fresh, wholesome ingredients in food.  I just don’t find the other stuff so attractive any more.

Then  I left for a couple of days in the bay area–one day with mom and one day with dad.  Have I mentioned recently what a huge fan of divorce I am?  Never mind.

I packed a refrigerator bag  with  a few basics and a few treats.  I’m so glad I’m in the habit of doing this.  It just isn’t a big deal any more.  And even if I don’t know EXACTLY what the days/meals will hold, I am prepared to fill in the blanks.  For example, I called my mom on the way down to ask if she wanted to go out for brunch, or a late lunch, or dinner.  She wanted dinner, so I had an apple and some walnuts while I continued driving, and then when I got there I took a few bites of the red lentil/rice dish that I had with me.

So all in all, for being gone almost 48 hours, there was only one restaurant visit, and two frozen yogurt stops.  And today I did my usual after-trip routine.  Ate super fresh–dairy, fresh fruit, lots of veggies, and made two batches of yogurt –one strained for greek style, and the other one plain.

I'm 'babysitting' my neighbor's garden! SCORE!!

Tonight's dinner: sauteed fresh squash, that red lentil rice dish, and a tomato I grew myself!!

Sounds like I’m doing fine, huh?  Miz asked a bit ago if bloggers were role models? And Lori continued the conversation here. My first thought was no, I am not a role model.  I didn’t like that word.  Inspiration, encourager, motivator, teacher–those are all okay.  But tonight on my VERY SHORT walk with Noah (it was still over 100 degrees at  8pm) I thought about what those words mean.  And then I realized  that if the role is very narrowly defined as a woman who started to lose weight after she turned 50 and has managed to maintain a 100 pound loss for over four years, then I suppose I am modeling that.  Okay.  I’m a role model.

So what I want to tell you as a role model is that sometimes, after all this time, its still hard.  I still want to eat too much food.  Pubsgal and I have a running joke about being members of ‘nuts-a-holics.’   That seems to be my latest obsession.  Walnuts to be specific.  But I have also ventured into the dangerous territory of ‘trail mix.’  And not just any trail mix.  That dangerous mixture of salt, fat, and sugar.  Because there are just enough m&m’s in there to make  you want to eat one more handful.  If I can’t control myself with this stuff it will go the way of chocolate chip cookies (not allowed in the house.)

And exercise is still a struggle sometimes.  Thank goodness Noah came along.  Forced twice daily exercise for me.  Mostly now its just a time thing.  I actually exercise quite a bit on a weekly basis, but many days I have a little fight with myself over going to the gym.   I mean, if I walk Noah for an hour in the morning, and 20 minutes at night, and then I go to the gym for 30 minutes of weights and 20 minutes of swimming, plus changing clothes and the drive time, we’re talking about three and a half hours out of the day for exercising.  That’s just not realistic in my books.  I have other stuff I want to accomplish in my life.

But I’m not going back.  I have learned to love and appreciate the taste of fresh food.  I have learned that life with little sugar and wheat is a good thing for me.  I love the texture of whole grains.  I like feeling strong and fit and firm even if people can’t see it.  I walk fast and confidently.  I’m still overweight according to ‘the charts,’ and I probably always will be.

But if you need a role model for a woman who started to lose weight after she turned 50 and has managed to maintain a 100 pound loss for over four years, here I am.

As always, I have entirely too much to say.  Here’s a couple of pictures for your enjoyment.

Who knows what goes on in Sophie’s mind.

But we all know what goes on in Mr. Monk’s mind:   Life is good. Give me a bone and a soft chair and I’m content.

Crumbling

That’s what my body is doing.  C’mon. It sounds better than decaying, doesn’t it?  I have a bump on my finger.  I don’t know what it is.  And I finally made an appointment with the doctor so hopefully she can look at it and tell me, “Oh, that’s just one of those things that crop up with old age.”   Only she’ll disguise ‘old age’ with some other more politically correct term.  But that’s what she’ll mean.  Just like the neurologist who diagnosed my back, and when I pressed him about how/when/what happened, he said something vague like ‘oh, well, um, could be, you know, ummm….age.’

And now that I have everyone’s rapt attention with that riveting first paragraph…on to the main subject:  sports injuries vs. arthritis.  Hey, ain’t this blog a thrill a minute?  If you don’t like this post, just scroll back through the last couple and you can read all about how tired I am or how much I enjoy it when all of my dogs are sleeping.  Anyway, back to the important topic: ME.

So, ever since I wrote this blog about ‘I’m Runnning’ (read like Forrest Gump) I have noticed a little pattern.  I amp up the running.  That decreases the time I spend in the gym.  Followed by ankle/knee/hip aching.  I pretty much stop running, but continue to walk very hard/fast.  I increase my time in the gym.  One morning I get up and I notice my hip/knee/ankle doesn’t ache, so I start running again.  That makes me happy, and I increase the frequency and distance of my running.  Followed by….you get the picture.

And honestly, I don’t think there’s anyone in the whole world who can tell me EXACTLY which exercise is the cause.  I’m pretty sure it is not a sports injury, because of the obvious–joint aching–I’m pretty sure I have mild arthritis.  And obviously, running is traditionally hard on your joints.  But I noticed today that the raised leg lunges I was doing were making my ankle hurt.  And maybe the reclining leg presses are hard on my hips and knees.

I don’t think I need to change much of what I am doing.  I am not one to press on through pain.  I think just paying attention to my body, and moderation will be the key.  I know stopping is NOT the answer.  (I have one friend whose arthritis doctor tells her NOT to exercise.  I think he should be shot   sued for malpractice.)  I can’t stop the march of time.  But I can take the best care of this crumbling body that I know how to.*

That’s what I did today.  Took Noah for a 2 mile WALK  in a new neighborhood  this morning.  It was just beautiful and very invigorating.  This afternoon I went to the gym, did a really great workout, tried a new exercise (face pulls, which I came home to discover I had done incorrectly.) and then got in the pool for 20 minutes of lap swimming.  Followed by a very nice session at Starbuck’s with an iced coffee and a couple of Vicky’s healthy bars, along with some inspirational reading.

Here is the Noah shot of the night.  It is so nice to sit and read and write with him laying quietly by my side.

Here’s a little something I cooked up called “Open the refrigerator door and cook what’s inside.”   Quite tasty, IMO.

Onion, brown mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, corn, dried cranberries, and shrimp.

And here’s a bloom from the garden.  Some kind of hydrangea.  I’ve waited at least three years for this plant to bloom.  It was worth the wait!

*  My brother the weight lifter swears by taking multi-mega minerals.  Anybody got an opinion on taking these?  I couldn’t find them at the pharmacy, so I decided to give glucosamine another try.  I didn’t think it really helped me back when I was so overweight.  But I know for a fact that glucosamine worked wonders for an older Bouvier (dog) that I had.