So Now What?

Today was just an ordinary day.  Just like any other day.  Only except…something…something seems a little different.  Oh yeah!  No more getting up at 4am!  No more hour and a half commute!  No more coming home at 9pm, so tired and depressed I can hardly stand myself.  Hey–NO MORE BREAKROOM!!!

Yesterday was really a very ordinary day of work.  Unexpected babies being born and needing transport.  Fun over, get back to work and do what you know to do.  Potluck was nice, with too many desserts and not enough protein.  I was really crashing by about 5 pm.  I came home and actually ate dinner, which is something I NEVER do after work.

Today I made some appointments, did a little housework, and took all three dogs for a walk.  Because it was freaking cold here.  Came home and worked on my rug.  And after a while I thought I should be doing something fun and exciting in retirement, so I took off for the thrift store!  I only got 3 dishes–total cost:  70 cents!  Now that’s the kind of ‘retail therapy’ I can afford!

You all said you wanted to see the progress on my hooked rug, so here’s a few pictures of what’s going on there.

The sheep’s wool in between the swirls is called antigodlin technique, which just means you hook the loops any which way instead of trying to make them line up.

 

The leaves and fruit and most of the branches filled in.  I am liking the way this is looking.

For lunch I tried a new recipe from the Precision Nutrition website.  Its called a Peaches and Cream Omelette.  Its an egg and egg white omelette made with a little cinnamon and splenda in it.  Filling is some cottage cheese and peaches (I used mangos.)  And it is topped with a little yogurt.  I know, it seems a little ‘out there.’  But after watching all these food network shows, I am more open than ever to unusual food combos.  For me (basically not an egg-lover) it was too eggy tasting.  I much prefer my clafouti, which is almost the same combination of ingredients, only the cottage cheese is baked in, and the clafouti has just a bit of grain (1/6 cup oatmeal) in it. Still, some of you might like to try it.

Tomorrow I go to have an EMG and NCS done on my hands.  I use the initials because the real names sound too much like some kind of medieval torture.  You can bet this test will be followed by a stop at Pinkberry.

Food Network Mania Continues!

I ran out of Next Food Network Star shows to watch, so now I’m watching Chopped.  Gets you in the mood to fool around with food in the kitchen.  Which, BTW, I really think there’s a place for me on the Food Network.  Who else do you know that spends as much time as I do in a kitchen with an open floor area 32 inches by 72 inches!  Yep, I measured it tonight.  Because at one point today, all three dogs were in the kitchen with me, and we were coexisting peacefully!

So on the menu today, I had a Breakfast Fruit Wrap this morning.  Yay for keeping wraps in the freezer.  This was very satisfying, and it held me through to lunch.

For lunch, I had a taco salad with the leftovers from last night.  No cheese, and it was just as delicious.  I also only used one corn tortilla that I cut into strips to put on top of the salad.

Somewhere in there I was making a batch of my homemade yogurt (which I had to strain again,) doing a GIANT load of dishes from the previous day’s experiments, AND I decided to experiment with the frozen yogurt again!

For dinner, I finally got the big package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts out.  I cut them into serving size pieces, and cooked half of them just plain, with salt and pepper, to put into the freezer for a rainy day.  I love having this chicken pre-cooked for salads, or just when its too hot to cook, or I’m too lazy to cook.  The rest I marinated in some lemon juice, garlic, and a little olive oil.  Basically followed that recipe in the comments.  I also cooked up a bunch of brocolli to extend the leftover rice and veggies that I was going to use.  This was very tasty–here’s the final result:

So for a very small investment of time in the kitchen, I have 2 more servings of the lemon rice and chicken, and 4 cooked lemon chicken breast pieces in the freezer, as well as the 4 regular pan seared chicken breast pieces in the freezer.   And hey, lesson learned.  All the dishes I used today are already washed.  Which, BTW, I guess you figured out that in a kitchen that size, I don’t have a dishwasher.

So after controlling myself admirably today with my food choices, as well as taking the long walk with Noah this morning (4 1/2 miles) and a short stroll with all three doggies this evening, I was ready to try my latest froyo experiment.  This one was my most successful so far.  The only criticism I have is that the strawberry taste is way too strong.  It seems I’ve done this before.  I get carried away because I have a lot of strawberries, and because they are lower in calories.  Still, it was quite delicious.

I used 3 containers of Chobani strawberry yogurt, 2 cups of chopped strawberries, 1 cup of whey (leftover from straining my homemade yogurt) and 1/4 cup of sugar.  This actually made too much to put in my ice cream freezer, so I put 1/5 of the recipe into ice cube trays.  I figure it’ll come in handy for smoothies.  I figured the whole recipe was 780 calories, and I figured it would make 8 nice size servings.  But with having to put some of it in the ice cube trays, I got a little confused about the actual calories per scoop.   I just looked again, and those two scoops are probably less than 150 calories (toppings not included.)

Well, I’m off to bed.  Must rest up for the big day tomorrow!

Next Food Network Star!!!

Haha!  Not me.  But I was playing like I was this weekend.  For some reason Hulu now works on my computer, so I can watchTV shows if I want to.  Last time I was in a hotel room, I found the food channel, and started watching Next Food Network Star.  So I watched a marathon of the last season yesterday.  When I was finally hungry for dinner, it was pretty late, but still I thought I wanted to cook something savory and nutritious.  So I checked out the cupboard, freezer, and refrigerator–just like they  do on the Next Food Network Star!  I took out one zucchini, a red bell pepper, 4 mushrooms, and the carton of egg whites from the refrigerator.  I got the pre-cooked brown rice package, the crumbled bacon, and the pre-cooked carmelized onions out of the freezer.  I thought I’d do a photo essay of my cooking process.

I always put the pan on to heat up at medium high while I chop the first veggies.  Chopped the zucchini and 1/3 of the red pepper into bite sized pieces, spray the pan with Pam, dump the veggies in, and season with a little pepper and salt.

While they were cooking a bit, I chopped the mushrooms, and at the same time, cooked the rice packet in the microwave for three minutes.  I also thawed the onions in the microwave.

Dumped the mushrooms in and drizzled 1 tsp olive oil over all.

When the veggies were about as cooked as I wanted them to be, I added about 3 Tbsp of the bacon crumbles and the carmelized onions, just to warm them up.

Then I dumped in 1/2 cup of the egg white stuff, and cooked until done.

Lastly, I added the rice packet (which was two servings,) and drizzled on a bit of soy sauce.  Stirred it all up, and

plated it up.  This made three generous servings at 230 calories each.  It was delicious, and just the right amount of food for a later dinner.

I plan to cook a few more veggies to add to the leftovers.  And just maybe, I’ll try to make some lemon chicken to go with it.  I read a recipe in the comments over at Jill’s and I’ve been wanting to try it for a while.

I watched a little more food network star this afternoon, so when I was deciding on what to fix for dinner, I thought I would try to make a pretty presentation.  Oh yumm! as we food network stars like to say when we try our own food.  I had walked by the corn tortillas in the store today and they smelled so good.  Hmmm , only 70 calories.  And why do they only charge $1.58 for 30 of them???  I couldn’t pass them up.  Anyway, I was very conservative on my food today, so I had enough calories for a double decker.

This was ground sirloin cooked in taco seasoning for a while.  I just heated the tortillas over medium high heat with a little Pam spray.  Layered the tortillas with romaine lettuce, taco meat, and salsa, and topped with some chopped avocado and a little grated cheese.  Approximately 400 calories for the plate.  400 very worthy calories.

And now, a little more froyo talk.  The other day I took some of that naturally sweetened frozen yogurt out of the freezer and put it in the food processor with some blackberries and a little cinnamon and splenda.  This was very tasty.  Still had that texture from the dates that I don’t like as much.

Then, I had this great idea that I would just dump some of the chobani greek yogurt with fruit on bottom straight into the frozen yogurt maker.  I can report definitively to you that this does NOT work.  Maybe its too thick to start with?  Anyway, about half of it stuck to the sides of the freezer bowl, and the other half was just extra cold.  Oh well.  Maybe I’ll actually try to follow a recipe for my next trick LOL.

By  the way, you guys, thank you so much for some of the amazing comments, suggestions, encouragements, and daydreaming along with me on that last post.  I didn’t expect anything like that, so it was a double extra special surprise.  And speaking of double extra special, can you believe it?  I am down to the last day of work!!!  Tuesday will be my last day.  It is going to  be a big potluck.  I am going to enjoy it.  I’m going to try to pretend I’m French, or hey!  maybe one of those food network star judges (is anybody else afraid of Bobby Flay?) and maybe just maybe, I’ll be able to just take 3 bites of each dessert.  I’ve been staying pretty much on the straight and narrow on my days off, so I’m not too worried about this one day.  There will be a retirement party (three of us are retiring the same day, so its a combo party) but its not until July 14, so no problem there.  By then I will have lost ten pounds.  You know.  Being on a fixed income and all.

The Million Dollar Question

Have you decided what you’re going to do in your retirement yet?

Yes, if I had a dollar for each time I was asked that question (and the people who asked it repeatedly would have to pay proportionately more each time they asked) I would have a million dollars and I really wouldn’t have to worry about living on a “fixed income.”  Perhaps I’m just a little defensive about being asked?  Here’s some of the answers I’ve thought of.

The silly answer:  

I’m gonna get chickens!!!

The best answer:  

I am listening for God’s direction, and am willing to go where He wants me to go and do what He wants me to do.

The daydreaming answer:

 I’m gonna move to a farm in Oregon!

The boring answer:  

I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, only not go to work two days a week.

The most-likely-to-happen answer:

 I’m going to do some of those things that I’ve had to put aside/give up/put on the back burner for the last 25 years while I worked as a nurse.

So, to expand on some of those answers, I am seriously seeking God’s direction.  But sometimes He doesn’t give exact directions, and you just have to make a decision.  The day I read the words “Jesus decided to…” was a very important day in my indecisive life.

I really really do want to have chickens again.  I just read a book called “Still Life with Chickens.”  It was very fun to read, and had a lot more detail about life with chickens than I expected.  I really like everything about chickens except the mess. And the crowing.  But I know what to do about that now LOL.

Regarding that daydreaming answer:  A couple of interesting things have collided, in this order.  While surfing around Amazon, I noticed a book called Fifty Acres and a Poodle.  All about a woman uprooting her life and moving to the country.  It included a standard poodle, so I had to have it.  While looking at that book, the “Still Life with Chickens” book showed up, so I ordered that one too.  I thought they would both be fun books to read.  Then in my blog about grief, PJ wrote such a good comment, and part of it was encouragement to “take the trip or journey to a place you have always wanted to go or experience to feel the renewal of dreams.”  THEN, my BFF reminded me that I had always wanted to move to Oregon (Even before she moved there.  I’ve loved Oregon since I was a young girl.)  And hey!  Don’t you guys think that moving to a farm and writing about the whole experience would be the best blog fodder ever?  Of course, the down side of this answer would be that I would actually have to move LOLOL.

Most-likely-to-happen?  These will include just some everyday life kind of things, as well as maybe some more fun exotic things.  You know, like maybe gardening a bit more.  Keeping the housework under control.  Exercising more consistently.  Having EVERY SATURDAY OFF LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD.  Celebrating every holiday on the same day that the rest of the world is celebrating.  Traveling without worrying about getting back in time, or fitting it in, or finding someone else to ‘cover’ me.  Oh my, the possibilities are endless under this category.

And did you notice I did not even include the one thing that I am for sure planning to do:  work on my art quilting.  I have said this answer many times to many people, and am usually met with a blank stare and a polite nod.  I don’t think they know what an art quilt is, or they think that is a boring goal, or whatever.  I don’t really have the inclination to try to explain it to them.  So I’ve stopped giving this answer.

A Little Frozen Yogurt Discussion

I had an idea to make a healthy delicious naturally sweetened frozen yogurt.  Today I tried out my idea.  Here’s the result:

I combined 5 medjool dates, 5 frozen banana cubes (about 2 medium,) 1/2 cup of whey, 1 tsp vanilla and 2 cups greek yogurt.  I actually put it through my ice cream freezer.  This was delicious, lightly sweet.  The dates (I think) added a texture that made it less than perfect.  Plus, sweetening food with bananas and dates is not without calories.  Approximately 1/2 cup was approximately 135 calories.  That doesn’t count toppings.

For comparison’s sake, here is that frozen almond milk that I had the other day.  A WHOLE CUP of this stuff is 40 calories (not counting toppings.)

Last night I had it with one Russel Stover sugar free peanut butter cup chopped on top of it.  It is fun to eat.  I will do this again.

Then I checked out a recipe I had seen a long time ago, claiming to be a Pinkberry knock-off.  It has sugar in it, and it comes in at about 100 calories per 1/2 cup.

And finally, Pinkberry itself, the mecca of all frozen yogurt, has 100 calories per 1/2 cup.  And it contains nonfat milk, sugar, cultured nonfat milk, and less than 2% of some stuff I can’t pronounce.

So my healthified froyo has more calories than the stuff that has sugar.  Disappointing.

I don’t want to start making and keeping stuff with sugar in the house, so for now, I’ll keep experimenting, and have the occasional frozen yogurt from a shop.  Fortunately I don’t live close to one, so I talk about it more than I eat it.

Wildflower Walk

Hi all!  Don’t have much time to post, but I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for all the wise, wonderful, kind comments you left on my previous post.  My original thought in posting was that it might be helpful to someone.  But I was the one who received help.

So today was as bright and sunny a day as yesterday was “foggy.”  I mentioned to Jill in an email that I might try for the 5 1/2 mile walk.  Miz was the one who pushed me out the door.  All last week I kept walking, but I felt terrible, like decrepit.  Don’t know if that was all the time I spent in  the car, or the long periods I spent sitting and hooking my rug.  Or maybe just getting used to the hill walking again.  Whatever it was, I was a little disconcerted by it.  So to take my old long walk and feel strong and sure of myself was really a great thing.  Granted, I was pretty achy by the end of the walk.

Grabbed my camera and kept my eyes peeled for anything that might be worth shooting.  It seemed to be a wildflower kind of day.  These flowers have a long snaky stem.  Kinda cool looking.

These tiny purple flowers were everywhere.  Had a very intense color in spite of their small size.

This one had an unusual lemon-lime coloring.

Found these beauties on the way home.  I think they’re wild sweet peas.

The park was really beautiful this morning.  There was a bench in the middle of these yellow daisies.  We walked out there and sat for just a minute before starting home.

Noah was a trooper.  Unlike me, he napped for several hours after we got home.

Stealth-cam catches the Queen ACTING LIKE A DOG!

And last but not least, Shelley encouraged me to post a picture of my new Montrail Molokinis with my new orchid nail polish to match  These flip flops are extremely comfortable, and they are sturdy enough that I have worn them on our evening stroll a couple of times.  On my gravely dirt road, that is quite a recommendation.

Grief

I thought I knew a lot about grief.  I thought I was pretty good at it actually.  As nurses  we study grief.  I’ve taken continuing education courses on it.  I’ve supported parents when their baby died.  Sometimes that was a very personal experience, when I took care of their baby every day for months.  And sometimes  it was more professional, when I had just been assigned to their baby for the first time that day.  And goodness knows I have deeply grieved the loss of so many of my beloved dogs over the years.

But this grief is different.  It is not the heart-breaking, gut-wrenching grief that I have experienced in the past.  For goodness sake, I hardly cried at all for a couple of weeks.  Hmmm, I thought to myself,  I got off easy on this one.  WRONG!

This time  I have had days where I felt a little down.  Days where I just wasn’t motivated to do much.  LOTS of days where I didn’t want to talk to people, and where, frankly, I just was a wee bit irritated at them.  And then, of course, there is the guilt and confusion that comes along.  Am I just indulging my naturally lazy tendencies?  Am I just giving in to my usual irritation at people’s shortcomings?  Am I finally as depressed as the rest of the world is?  And worst of all, IS IT MANDATORY THAT  YOU GAIN TWENTY POUNDS WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR FATHER?

My pastor sent me a little book on grief.  It was so helpful.  The best chapter was the one that compared grief to fog.  I know about fog.  I’ve been driving through fog to and from work for over twenty years.  It just made so much sense to me.  How I would be going along fine, have a nice plan for the day–a little work, a little fun–and then I would stand up, and realize nope, that’s not gonna happen today.  Other days its clear sailing, no fog rolling in at all.

Sometimes I think I’m just acting out–not doing so much housework, and not going back to the gym.   I think that’s why I’m so particularly pleased with how I’ve been eating this past week.  I’m not going off the deep end and “acting out” with my food choices.  I AM allowing myself to have a few more treats than normal without the guilt.  mostly.  Yes, I wish I could get with the program and get this extra weight off.  But for now, I will try to be content to maintain or lose tiny bits.  The day will come when I will get the house cleaned, get to the gym, and lose the weight.  For now I’m determined to treat myself with as much kindness as I have always encouraged other people to do when they lost a loved one.