Au Revoir!

And I’m off!  Haven’t talked much about it lately, but I’m finally going on that long-planned-for trip to Whidbey Island to work with quilt artist Marianne Burr!  I’m pretty excited.  A little nervous and intimidated, but mostly looking forward to what I’ll learn.  I’m also excited to visit that area of the country.  I’m sure I’ll come back with a lot of pictures to share.

Here’s a little travel project I put together (HAVE to have a project for the evening.  Kind of the quilter’s version of a security blanket!)

Gonna ‘fill in the blanks’ with hand-stitching.  Here’s my little travel kit.  I love this line of boxes I found at WalMart in the tool section–they are made specifically for women!

Regarding the previous post, I came to the conclusion that the biggest part of the problem is something I already knew about myself–I  am highly suggestible.  Its probably a good idea for me to tread lightly on a few blogs.  Shelley wrote a great blog this morning about knowing what works for you.  Still, there’s a few of those serious subjects that I’d like to explore in more detail.  That will be on the docks when I come back too!

Here’s an update on the rug progress.  I work on this almost every evening.  It is very soothing to work on.  Pretty colors, but just one stitch to remember!  The sky background is from one piece of wool that starts out lavender and fades to a pretty sky blue at the bottom.

Remember this pic?  This is the usual scene in the morning when I am reading, writing, and praying.  I don’t let them get on my lap, so they have contented themselves with being as close as possible on the ottoman in front of the chair I am sitting in.

The big guy observed this for a few days, and then decided if it was good enough for the peewees it was good enough for him.  He kind of hung off both sides, but he seemed very pleased at himself for fitting in.  Sophie is a wee bit horrified at the situation, and hopes it does not repeat itself.

Handsome boy:

Last night I was looking for my passport (where does one put such an important document???)  and I ran across these old pictures.  Sometimes I get intimidated when people refer to me as a successful maintainer, especially now, when I don’t seem to have what it takes to lose SIX MEASLY POUNDS.  So it was actually encouraging to me to see that yes, I have come a long way, and no, I am not back where I started from.  Its interesting to me how very unhealthy I look in these pictures (completely aside from the weight.)

Included this one for Shelley.  This is the diva that started it all!  I only had Celie for three years, but oh how I loved that little dog.  And she loved me right back.

So then I had to double check and MAKE SURE I had not gained all the weight back.  Took this pic late last night with my webcam (is that what you call the camera inside the computer?)  Note the look of sheer panic on Sophie’s face, and the death grip I have on her.  For some reason the photog whore is afraid of the webcam???

Hasta la vista, baby!  Catch you all in a week or so when I return.  Don’t think I’ll be able to connect to the internet where I’m staying.

Blogging–What is it Good For?

How old are you people?  Who remembers the next line to that song?  

“ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!”  

Well, thankfully, that’s not what I really think about blogging.

But I have been thinking a lot about whether or not blogging is helpful for those of us trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss.  This is such a dicey subject.  I never want to discourage anybody or heaven forbid, insult someone.  But does anyone else think about this?  All that information out there.  So much of it conflicting.  So many are SURE that they have found THE WAY to succeed.  If you are doing ANYTHING OTHER THAN THEIR WAY, you are doomed to fail.  Leave out this food group.  Don’t forget to include that food group.  Get on the scale.  Stay off the scale.  Lift weights.  Only do body weight resistance exercises.  People eating cupcakes and losing weight–DOGGONE IT THAT IS NOT FAIR.  Don’t weigh or measure your food.  Count calories.  Don’t count calories.  Be sure to journal.  Be intuitive.  Don’t be intuitive, just be mindful.  Your body has a set point–a weight it wants to stay at–don’t bother trying to weigh less than that, you’re bound to fail.  The body is extremely complex, and there are factors working against weight loss that we don’t even know about yet.  And so much more.

The thing about most of this stuff is, it is all theoretical.  Almost everybody presents their point of view as FACT.  This kind of drives me nuts.

Then, there is the whole never-ending cyclical nature of the thing.  Here’s what I think.  90% or more of people blogging about losing weight are never going to reach and/or maintain the weight goal that they have set for themselves.  Its difficult to watch people hitting their head against a brick wall day after day.  Sometimes I think I should switch sides–go over to that HAES side of town.  But those people scare me!  They are so angry about how fat people are treated.  I never ever felt that way.

Oh I can hear you now.  “Well debby is just [frustrated/bitter/angry/sad/fill in the blank] because her weight is up and she can’t lose it.”  Possibly.  “Well, gosh debby, no one is holding a gun to your head and making you read this stuff.”  Ah, excellent point.  I even wondered today if all this negative thought was an extension of grief that I am not even aware of.  Could be.

Well, the thing is, when all is said and done, blogging has enlarged my life.  My circle of friends extends all the way across the United States!  Truly, there are many of you I would love to meet in person and would feel very comfortable spending time with you because I already know you so well.  In fact, I have had the opportunity to meet two of my blog friends in person (waves to Shelley and Pubsgal) and that has added another dimension to our relationship.  I have seen a waterfall I never would have seen and it was truly one of the delights of my life in the past few years, thanks to Loretta.  Which, BTW, Loretta is one of my true weight loss
heros. Starting out with  a tremendous amount of weight to lose, she has lost more than most of us already, and still has a ways to go.  And though it is a struggle, she continues on.  Her blogs are honest and inspiring.

Then there is my BIF, good buddy Jill.  Our friendship has extended beyond the world of blogs–SO FUN!

Miz inspired me to take my art seriously with her probing questions (what would you do if you knew you could not fail?)

Shelley recommended a swimsuit for me to order, and then ‘held my hand’ when I was intimidated to wear it in public.

Lori is always giving me ideas for dinner LOL.  Since she lives in NY, I usually check her blog at 4pm, and if I don’t have an idea for dinner, she usually has something healthy and tasty on her plate.  Check out her dinner here, and then look at what I had the same night.

Barbeque chicken salad with avocado and laughing cow, and a fresh peach.

Then there’s the whole personal introspection thing.  I have enjoyed chronicling my life through pictures.  Dare I say I have become a better photographer through challenging myself to provide for the blog?  (Hey, they’re not all art…)  I think I enjoy my dogs more because of the personalities you have assigned to them.  And I do believe I kept my sanity and Noah possibly kept his life by blogging about the trials and tribulations of raising a BIG WHITE DOG.

I probably get carried away sometimes, but I really like trying new recipes, trying to healthify some of my favorite foods to share with all of you here on the blog.  Here’s my latest creation:

Blackberry frozen yogurt!  2 cups fresh blackberries, 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, 1/4 cup agave nectar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp vanilla.  EXCELLENT!  Very refreshing, and if you divide it into 5 large servings, only 120 calories each.

Lastly (at least for tonight,)  I have had a captive audience to share my artistic creations with.  Here is a quilt that I challenged myself to quilt and finish in  two days (the top was already pieced.)  Did I tell you guys about the church that promotes the arts (also known as the froyo church) and that they had a quilt display, and had about seven of my quilts on display for the month of June?  That was so fun.  I think the best part of creating art is sharing it with others.  Anyway, this church is going to have a special evening to celebrate the arts and spirituality, and the woman in charge asked if I had any other quilts that they could use.  I had this top, and that is why I challenged myself to finish it in two days.  It started out as an abstract color block experiment, and then it looked to me like an empty tomb in the middle, so I finished it that way.  I really love it, and I enjoyed quilting it.  Many times I feel tortured when it comes to the quilting part–decisions, you know.

"He is not here"

Close ups:

And just so ya know, I am exercising more than ever, eating really healthy stuff most of the time, even choosing salads when I go out for dinner (SCORE!) but for now I’m  not doing enough to lose weight.  I feel better than I have in ages, mostly due to my back not hurting.

Well,  this post was all over the place.  If I was a professional blogger, I would take the time to develop my ideas more carefully.  But I’m not, so you’ll just have to muddle through with me.  Last note, I did not include all the bloggers that I enjoy and that have encouraged and cheered me through the years.  My apologies, I hope you know how very much I appreciate you.


Recipes Posted

Got those two recipes loaded–check them out!

Shrimp and Avocado Fiesta Soup

Vegetable Stuffed Bread

Both of them have some nice variations to try.

I had something so delicious today I have to share the idea with you.  It is a fruit dip, or you could use it to make a fruit parfait.  It was also excellent as a scone topping.  So simple, delicious, and healthy!  Take 3 cups of low-fat cottage cheese (the bigger container) and put in blender with 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp lemon zest, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice.  Blend until very smooth.  Use as desired.

About 12 servings (depending on how you use it) at 75 calories each.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Inc.

Have you noticed that when I come back from just a few days away I am typically more creative with my cooking endeavors?  Maybe its just coincidence, or maybe its me craving some really good, healthy food.  Anyway, here are some of my new (and old) creations.

I planned on buying a large container of Fage 2% yogurt for the week.  But it went up in price to $8/quart and I just couldn’t make myself do that.  So over to the milk I went.  I got a gallon of organic milk for $6, and went home to make my own greek yogurt.  Its a little time consuming, but so very delicious.  And I have plenty of whey left over for smoothies.

You’ve heard me talking about the excellent turkey bread that Vicky makes, right?  Its a homemade wheat bread with ground turkey, veggies, and cheese rolled up inside and baked.   Well the other day at the gym I was asking Vicky when she was going to make turkey bread again.  And it occurred to me that I had most of the ingredients at home to make it.  So that was first on the slate for Monday morning.  I actually had a recipe for Vegetable Stuffed Bread that Vicky had given me a long time ago.  That’s what I ended up making, because I forgot to buy some ground turkey.  The thing that made it possible for me to make the bread was that I realized I had a bag of Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough in my freezer.  I bought the stuff on a whim, and almost let it go bad, but stuck it in the freezer at the last minute.  Let me just say that this dough worked great!  I was really surprised at how easy it was to work with, and it was very delicious tasting too.

I grated and cooked up a ton of veggies and cheese, and followed the recipe.  Rolled it all up and put it in the oven.  TA-DA!   I was so excited when I took this out and it looked so perfect.  And I was even more excited that it tasted so delicious. Next time I might add a little more cheese and a little less vegetables.  This loaf makes about 8 nice sized slices at about 200 calories each.

Closer view:

And inside the slice:

It was very easy to make.  A little time consuming with all the vegetable shredding and chopping.  But in the end I have 7 lunches wrapped and ready for me to take out of the freezer for the days I DON’T feel like cooking (and believe it or not, there are plenty of days like that.)  I will try to post my version of this recipe in the next few days.

Lately I’ve been looking for organizational items at the thrift stores.  I found this old wooden box and thought it might work for my collection of perle cotton thread.  Perfect!

Whether its alive or an inanimate object, SOMEBODY feels the picture is incomplete without her in it.

I’ve been buying glass containers and decorative tin boxes at the thrifts to replace the bags and plastic containers of all the many bulk items I buy.  I reorganized the cupboard AGAIN.

Sunday evening I opened a can of pumpkin to try a new recipe that is not worth mentioning.  I only needed a tablespoon of pumpkin.  So that can of pumpkin has been staring at me every time I open the fridge.  This morning I decided to try the pumpkin custard oats again.  Between the pumpkin and the egg whites, the oatmeal gets quite voluminous.  I topped it with pepitas and some of that homemade granola.  Quite satisfying.

But there was still almost a whole can of pumpkin left.  I knew it would either go to waste, or I could freeze it, or…I could use it.  Looked up that oldie but goodie recipe for Pumpkin Custard .  Yumm yumm yumm.  this is my favorite way to eat pumpkin.  Very satisfying dessert, and I think there’s only about 60 calories per slice.  I’ve got a slice waiting for me as soon as I finish writing this.

While I was thumbing through my cookbook , I saw my old recipe for Shrimp and Avocado Fiesta Soup.  Hmmm.  I see its not in my blog’s recipe index.  I’ll have to post that for you, because its very easy to make and VERY tasty.  Low in calories too.  I was thinking tonight that you could substitute shredded chicken if you didn’t want the shrimp.  Or just put some beans in there if you’re in the vegetarian mood.  I think I’ll try it with lentils next time.

So the shrimp reminded me:  a little seafood talk.  That last bag of shrimp I bought (I always buy the pre-cooked frozen shrimp) seems like it is a little overcooked.  Not really enjoyable.  In fact, I picked out half the shrimp in this bowl.  And Sunday night (this is almost laughable) after having that perfect piece of salmon at the seafood restaurant, I decided to try a piece of frozen salmon from the bag I had bought at Walmart.  Ummm.  No.  No way.  There is no comparison.  Just to say, that if you are someone who thinks they do not like seafood, and you have never had really great FRESH seafood, give it one more try.  Pay attention when you are cooking it so you don’t overcook it.  I am convinced, once again, that you get what you pay for.  As little as I eat meat these days, I will buy myself a single piece of fresh fish once in a while.  Of course, the further inland you live, the harder it is to get fresh fish, I suppose.  We have one market in town that brings in really good fish, so I will go there.

So today I was all set to go to the gym for my TRX class.  I go out to the car, and it is like nightmare deja-vu all over again.  Same day, same class I want to go to, same DEAD CAR.  After paying over $600 for a new alternator, I was not a happy camper.  The worst part was that I would miss my class.  In the end, AAA came out and gave me a jump, the mechanics paid for a rental car for me so they can diagnose the problem, and I went to the gym and just did my own workout.  Since I’ve gone back, I’ve stuck with the lower weights and higher reps.  I set up a circuit of machines and free weights that I want to do, and rotate through them three times.  It gives me a really good workout, and also is a little more cardio.  I am being super protective of my back, and also, I think its just a good idea to change things up once in a while.   Followed that up with a nice 30 minute swim.  I’m really getting back into the swimming groove.  Its very meditative to me.  I only do sidestroke bakc and forth.  I might add some more vigorous moves in, but for now its a very good follow-up to my weights workout.

Well, its getting pretty late.  Gonna jump in the shower, wash my hair, and sit on the couch and watch something or other on the computer!

Orchids Plus

Sometimes I just don’t know what to write any more.  Sometimes I have so many thoughts I don’t know where to start.  So I don’t.  Other times I don’t have anything nice to say, so I try not to say anything.  There’s a little bit of all of that going on right now, so I’ll just do another picture post of the weekend.

It turned out to be a great weekend.  Everything went a little better than planned.  Highly unusual.  My car didn’t take nearly as long as they had predicted to fix/change the alternator.  So I went to the gym for a strength workout and some pool time.  Great way to start the trip!

The traffic was perfect, and there was a Half Price Book Store right across from the hotel I was staying at.  Sweet.  Had fun browsing, and got a few books.  How can you resist when they are cheaper than magazines??

I chose to go to Chevy’s Fresh Mex for dinner.  They have a salad I like.  And who are we kidding?  I really chose Chevy’s because I wanted to have some chips and salsa.  Anyway, it is so interesting now that restaurants have the calorie count on their menus.  The fajitas were about the same calorie count as the salad I had intended to get, so I ordered the fajitas.  Thing is, nowadays I just want more veggies.  MUST REMEMBER.  I also don’t like that much bread, so I took some of the filling out of the tortillas and just ate it plain.   The chips and salsa were excellent… ; )

On Saturday my mom wanted to go to Half Moon Bay for her belated birthday.  After checking out the local thrift store (my mom is a big thrifter–that’s where I got it from–) we headed down to Pescadero, because she thought there was another thrift store there.  Turns out the whole little town was having a “Barn Sale.”  Kind of like a big garage sale/flea market.  Anyway, it was a lot of fun looking around and finding a few treasures.  Pescadero is also the home of the WORLD’S BEST BREAD BAKERY.  I’m not kidding.  All day long they are baking bread and bringing fresh loaves out.  They specialize in sourdough bread, and have a big variety of ‘add-ins.’  Like roasted garlic artichoke.  And parmesan herb ciabatta.  Why do those varieties come to mind?  Well, they just might be the two loaves that this ‘non-bread-eating’ girl brought home with her.  They sell some of their loaves partially baked, so you can bring them home and finish baking them–just like fresh baked.  They are all safely ensconced in the freezer for now. I did have two excellent slices before putting them away.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day, and being near the coast, flowers just grow like mad around there.

 


 

 

 

We went to Sam’s Chowder House (thanks for the recommendation, Pubsgal!) for dinner/lunch (it was 3pm, what do you call that?)  And if you can believe it, I ordered a beet salad, and added a 3 ounce piece of grilled salmon to it.  The salad was delicious (hey, Jill, it had pistachios in it–my very first pistachios!) and the salmon was absolute perfection.  I ate some other stuff too.  Never mind about that.

Our final stop was at the orchid nursery.  I wish I could have gotten a picture that showed the enormity and beauty of this place.  Row upon row of orchids, one more beautiful than the next.  Here are just a few of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a shot of the sandals I got at the thrift store in Half Moon Bay.  Very comfy, and I like the style too.  BTW, those pants I am wearing are my absolute favorite white pants.  I really like wearing white pants in the summertime.  But they don’t always look that good.  These pants are 100% cotton, but are a little heavier weight, and because of the texture of the cloth, they hide a multitude of imperfections.  They are from Drawstrings of Malibu.  I just ordered another pair from them.

All in all, I think I would say I was 80% pleased with my food choices this weekend.  I came away knowing that I WANT to eat right, eat healthy, eat less.  I WANT to, not I have to.  I WANT to go to the gym.  I want to swim long distances.  I want to work on my core strength/balance. That is a good feeling, to confirm that I want to continue the healthy lifestyle.  Even after all this time, I am still a work in progress.

Lotsa Pictures. and Not Much More.

I had some interesting blog thoughts this morning, but they are gone.  I’m just going to share some of today’s pictures and call it a day.

The other day when I was working in the garden, I did some serious pruning.  I took a whole branch off of one of my japanese maples.  It was painful to remove that much of the tree, but in the long run it will make it a more balanced tree.  I brought the branch in to enjoy it for a few more days.

I went outside to take a picture of the leaves on this Japanese maple.  It is called ‘Full Moon.’  Its a beautiful tree.  I love the unusual shape of the leaves.

“Aster’s Last Stand.”

Actually all six of the little asters look like they are going to make it.  They seem to have lost their fascination for Sophie and Noah.

Inside, Monk waited, hopeful that I would share the chair with him.

This is where I sit most mornings, and journal, read, and pray.  Isn’t this a pretty journal?  I love the bow that my friend put on it.

I do not share my chair in the morning.  Sophie and Monk seem to finally have resigned themselves to this fact.  This morning they  were especially cute as they slept together on the ottoman (right in front of THE CHAIR.)

Close up of Mr. Monk for his Number One Fan (Pubsgal’s Thing 2)

Here are some of the projects I’ve been working on.  This is part of the very large quilt I  have been working on consistently.  Its very bright.  I love the colors, but they don’t seem so restful to me.  Maybe more restful for a teenage girl?

You can see the quilting better in this square.  I used a variegated thread that had blue in it.

Here is a partial picture of the whole quilt top.

Here is a little quilt that I uncovered when I cleaned off the back of my quilting table.  I had absolutely no remembrance of making this.

These are just some squares I put together the other day.  You might recall I have a LOT of pre-cut strips and squares that I play with sometimes.  I actually don’t like these as-is.  I am staring at them on the design wall, trying to think what I want to do to change them up a bit.

 

Noah has been particularly quiet the past few days, giving me plenty of opportunity for photos.

Doesn’t he have the most beautiful eyes?

 

SOMEONE thought I was taking pictures of the wrong dog…

Have a great weekend.  I am heading out of town for a few days.  There may be a bit of stress involved.  I have a few things in mind  (besides eating) to calm myself.  Just being more aware is helpful, I think.

A New Day

Yessiree!  It was a new day at the gym for debby!  My first class.  And it was a doozy! That TRX stuff is not fooling around.  They use those ropes and pulleys to do some serious body-weight weight lifting.  Some pilates type stuff, a few yoga stretches at the end.  I REALLY liked it.  And for those of you who keep track of how much I [don't] sweat, yep, I was sweating.  I felt like my face must be bright red.  Fortunately, I looked pretty normal in the mirror.  It was a beginning TRX class, and there were only two other older women and the instructor in the room when I got there.  The instructor was an older woman who looked like a really normal person–yay!  I could see when we started working out that she had some serious muscles.  We were joined by one young man.  So it was a nice small class–a nice size for a good learning experience.  The instructor looked vaguely familiar, but I just thought I’d probably seen her around the gym.  At the end I asked if she knew my neighbor (who had recommended the class) and she said–YOU’RE THE ONE WITH THE DOG!  I was a little surprised,  and I looked down at the dog hair on my black workout pants (yes, even though I used the sticky roller just before I left the house, I still arrived at the gym with a little Noah on me.)  Then she said, “I know you from dog training.”  Of course! that’s why she looked familiar.  Isn’t it funny how when you see someone in a different setting you can’t quite place them?

Anyway, I plan to make this a weekly event, and after I get a little better, I will take some of the other TRX classes.  The thing about working out with someone else is that you are challenged (either by the group dynamic, or by your own competitive impulse) to do a little more, to go a little further.

Jumping in the pool after this workout was a real treat.  I only swam for about 25 minutes.  Could have gone longer, but I really needed to get on with the day.

Getting on with the day involved:  taking the car to the mechanic’s.  When I went out to go to the gym this morning, the car was COMPLETELY dead.  I thought for sure I was going to miss the class, and I was so disappointed.  Then I thought of calling my neighbor.  He works, but I thought it was worth a shot.  I tell you, these neighbors have their picture in the dictionary next to the definition of ‘neighbor.’  He came over on his three wheeler, and brought a new battery to give me a jump, because his truck was in the shop, and the three wheeler didn’t have enough juice to jump my SUV.  (His wife is my long-time ‘babysitter.’)

So, as I feared, it was not the battery.  It was the alternator.  And, OF COURSE.  It is in a difficult place to get to or work on, so the repair will cost extra.  But hey.  I have my new retirement budget, and as long as nothing goes wrong next month, this will still be within budget.

Of course that extended time at the mechanic’s was not in my MEAL PLAN.  Ack.  I was hungry.  Held out until I got home, and tried not to inhale the bowl of cherries, yogurt, and granola I threw together.  I am loving this new granola–I have really gotten to be a processed food snob, and I could alway taste the processing stuff in the store-bought granola.  Thanks again Shelley.

I got some fresh basil at the gym (Vicky was selling it.)  Plan to make some tomato/fresh mozarella/basil topped with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I’ll add something or other to that for dinner.  That’s one good thing about eating so late.  No need for a mid-afternoon snack.

170 calories of YUMM!

We had a wee bit of a cool-down here, so I took advantage of that to get a little gardening done earlier this morning.  One of my Japanese maples desperately needed to be re-potted.  No, July is not usually the month that they recommend for doing that type of thing.  I’ve had good luck in the past though, and re-potting is preferable to going all summer with your roots drying out because you are in too small of a a pot.  I also had a really pretty little hydrangea, and a few asters I had bought.

The little hydrangea--isn't it lovely? I got it at Trader Joe's!

My most favorite groundcover--Corsican Mint. The most lovely smell. Every year I try to grow a pot of it.

Oh!  I had forgotten how lovely it is to garden.  Moving that soil around in my hands (I buy the big bags of Miracle Gro soil when they are on sale at Costco each spring,) and fixing the little plants in place, watering them to give them a good start.  Its such a hopeful process.  Before I was even done, Noah reminded me why I haven’t gardened for a couple of years.  He just picked up that little hydrangea that I had just repotted, and was starting to move it someplace else!!!  I guess he has a pretty soft mouth, because the poor little thing wasn’t damaged.  I found an old tomato guard that fit perfectly over it, at least until it has a chance to put down a few roots.  And then, before I could turn around, there he was with a blue aster in his mouth!  Sophie (who loves all things pink) was eyeing the pink aster!!!  I found a little wire fence to put around the asters.  I am not into building barriers while I am gardening, so that will be the end of my gardening efforts for a while.  I think Noah will get used to new things appearing, and eventually I will be able to garden again.

All worn out from his morning of "landscaping."

So that’s the events for the day.  Only got a little quilt planning done this morning before I had to leave.  Sometimes the planning is more fun than the doing, though.  Gonna work on it a little more, and then tackle the two clean-up projects I assigned this morning.

P.S.  Just went out to check on the plants, and almost all of the asters were be-headed!!  LOOK at who got caught in the act–