Au Revoir and a New Recipe!

I have cleaned, picked up, watered and planted, chopped fruit, baked, and generally done everything I can think of to get ready, including practicing opening a can of diet coke with one hand!  I went to the store tonight to get some pre-chopped fruit.  That stuff just doesn’t look good, so I bought some fruit, and came home and chopped it up myself.  I also had a bunch of bananas sitting out to get nice and ripe, and I mashed those and put them in ice cube trays.  Tomorrow I am going to cook some more chicken and some veggies to have on hand.  I think I have enough food to last me four weeks without ever cooking!!

This morning I tried out a new recipe idea that I’ve had on my “list” for a while.  Banana Nut Apricot Oatmeal Bars.  Yummy.  Like the recipe says, very lightly sweetened, so perfect for a breakfast bar, but also nice to dress up for a healthy dessert.  And, if you wanted to change it up a bit, you could leave out the dried apricots and walnuts and add in  some chocolate chips for Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars!  A large bar (pictured) has 250 calories, and a smaller bar comes in at 175 calories.

The sport that comes naturally to Sophie and Mr. Monk–synchronized sleeping!

A nap in the sun is such a lovely thing to a little hairless dachshund.

Noah doing what he does best–warning me that yet another suspicious car is coming up the road–

The house up the road is for sale, so he has a lot to worry about some days.

I followed my plan and went to the gym for a last long swim.  I must say it felt very luxurious to give myself that much time at the gym.  I swam for 45 minutes, got in the sauna for about 5 minutes, and then took a shower and washed my hair so I wouldn’t have to do it when I got home.  And then I went to the movie–Crazy Stupid Love.  How was it, a couple people asked me.  It was crazy stupid, but ultimately a pretty good love story.

I finally got my surgery time–not until 12:30pm tomorrow!  Which is nice in one way, but it also means NO FOOD and more importantly NO COFFEE tomorrow morning.  Waaah.  I got some good teas when I was in Victoria, so I will treat myself to some of those tomorrow.

Depending on how I feel, I might not comment on blogs for a few days.  But rest assured I will be reading along.  Keep up the good blogging!

 

Countdown

Forty-eight hours from now I will hopefully be laying on my couch with a few stitches in my hand.  I’m having my carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand (as well as trigger thumb release) first.  If that goes well, the plan is to do the surgery on the other hand in about six weeks.

Today I’ve been doing everything that needs to be done around here.  EVERYTHING has been washed, dried, and put away.  Sheets are ready to change the bed tomorrow.  Even the dogs have been washed and dried!  I’ve been organizing my projects and putting them away one by one.

I bought paper plates, bowls and cups.  Plastic silverware.  I cooked up a big pot of custard oats and froze it in four individual serving dishes.  Trader Joe’s sells frozen oatmeal, so I thought I’d try it myself.  Tonight I roasted a chicken for dinner, and cut the rest of it up and put it in individual servings in the freezer.

I THINK I’m ready.

A New Olympic Sport!

Synchronized chewing!  It took a while for them to get in synch, but just look at that concentration!

Sophie says, “No, go THIS way.  You’re doing it all wrong!”

Mr. Monk says, “The queen won’t cooperate.  I know how this is supposed to be done, if she would just listen to me.”

An almost perfect score–9.5!!!

Noah was like the big awkward kid on the team.  He just couldn’t quite get his act together.  Instead, he took advantage of the queen’s concentration and used her bed as a chewing platform.

Rug Update:

Experiments:

In the middle of dusting and vacuuming and other uninspiring chores today, I decided to put together a couple of little experimental squares, so I could run them through the wash a few times while I was doing all the laundry.

The first one is just a mock-up of the Double Wedding Ring quilt I’m working on.  I was quite pleased at how well the zigzag stitch kept everything in place.

And this is just some strips sewn on top of each other, leaving the raw edge free.  It did ravel quite a bit.  I like the look of it though.  Has a few possibilities.

Well, y’all, that’s about all I got for now.  I imagine my exercise is going to be pretty limited, at least for a little while, thus the concentration on having healthy food choices easily available.

Since I worked hard and got everything done today, I am going to reward myself with one last swim, and the movies tomorrow!

Sunday Musings

The Food Index:  Here’s what I was thinking about on the way to church this morning.  Oh, I wish I had enough time to stop and get a good cup of coffee to take with me to Sunday School.  Oh well, just as well.  Then I would be tempted to get one of those luscious looking scones they have there.  They’re probably only 500 calories.  That’s only 200 more than what you had for breakfast this morning.  But what I really think about food like that, or how I categorize it, I should say, is something more like the heat index–you know–the temperature for today is going to be 100 degrees, but with the heat index it will feel like 110 degrees (hey, I lived in Texas for seven years.  I know a little something about the heat index!)  Anyway, how I think about the scone, or almost any food, is not just the actual calories in them, but HOW MANY CALORIES WILL I CONSUME BECAUSE I ATE THEM.  The food index would  take into account the nutritional value of the food, how long it would keep you satiated, and how it might set into motion the ‘need’ for more of the same (fat/sugar/salt combo.)  So the calories of that scone might be 500, but its food index would bring its calories up to about 1200 .  Then its pretty easy for me to decline the scone.

Eat your fruits and veggies!  Here’s some delicious and creative ways to get fruits and veggies into your daily diet.

The breakfast clafouti–this thing is good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or snack.  I think the nutritionals on it are pretty terrific–for 300 calories you get 4.3 g fat, 38 g carbs, 5.5 g fiber, and 27 g protein.  There’s no sugar in it either.  This version has a chopped up apple in it.

Lunch today–butternut squash fries!  You have to wonder about my food index theory.  I had spackle 2.0 for breakfast, and an apple with peanut butter after church, and then these fries.  Its almost 5pm and I’m just starting to get hungry.

Oh, and I am drinking this.  But its only about 50 calories.  A watermelon fizz.  About one cup of frozen watermelon chunks and a cup or so of seltzer water.  Refreshing!

Dog days of summer?  Is that why I’m not exercising?  Its hot here now, and SO DUSTY.  I was going to take a picture of the trees to prove it to you.  They are all gray from the road dust.  A friend from Texas was fascinated–said it looked like a ghost forest.  Anyway, me and Noah take a 30-40 minute walk most evenings.  I haven’t gone to the gym once this week–just can ‘t make myself drive down there.

Everybody likes new stuff.  Even the dogs.  After the last blog entry, I noticed that the dogs’ bones were getting a little bit worn.  So yesterday I stopped at Walmart and got a couple more of their favorite nylabones.  Oh my goodness.  You would have thought I brought in a fresh deer carcass.  There was a LOT of chewing going on last night!

What is Sophie thinking?  Hey, this topic could fill an entire blog all by itself.  Of course, Shelley would have to be the co-author of that blog, because she is the official Queen’s Interpreter.  When I took this picture, that is exactly what I thought–what the heck is Sophie thinking?  The next day I realized EXACTLY what she was thinking.  She wanted to be on “her chair,” but she needed to keep an eagle eye on “her new bed,” to make sure it was not desecrated by Noah.  Oh, I wish you could have seen the look on her face when he was tossing her bed around like a ragdoll.  As the commercial says, “Priceless!”

Caption, Shelley?

And we all know what she was thinking here.  Oh, you’re taking a picture?  Here, I can improve that for you.

FROYO!!!  I have been quite pleased with my recent frozen yogurt experiments.  This one is banana nut frozen yogurt.  About 2 previously mashed and frozen super ripe bananas, 1 1/2 cups yogurt, a little agave nectar, and some cinnamon.  Superb!  (Jill, could you say that in a French accent for us?)  You might wonder why I’m not posting recipes for my frozen yogurt creations.  I guess its because it seems too simple (take some yogurt, add what you want, and put it in the ice cream maker for 20 minutes.)  Also, I’m not measuring exactly.  This stuff is giving Pinkberry a run for its money.  Most of my creations do not have sugar, and are mostly sweetened by the fruit in it.  So I can feel virtuous while I eat it.   Why yes, I do enjoy feeling virtuous while I am eating.  Refer back to the first paragraph on the Food Index.  I can be very satisfied with a small bowl of this stuff, vs. a visit to the frozen yogurt shop, where I feel compelled to get a large bowl, and add a few too many toppings .

Look what I did!  The cool thing about giving yourself permission and time to work on art is that it builds on itself.  Something on another quilt gave me the idea to add to this one.  I plan to add a couple of other layers of ‘stuff’ on top of this.   Remember, it started out as a Double Wedding Ring quilt?  So the name of this quilt is After the Wedding.

La la la la (trying not to think about my hands!)  My first carpal tunnel hand surgery is this Thursday, September 1.  Aaaagh.  There are a LOT of things that are hard to do with one hand.  I am going to think about what I can do ahead of time the next couple of days that will make it easier.  Like have food ready in the freezer/pre-cut fruit.  Change my sheets the day before. Noah is   scheduled for a bath this week!  I even thought about getting one of those voice recognition things for my computer, because blogging???  Requires two hands!!  Well, it is what it is.  I have plenty of books I haven’t read yet, and I ordered myself several more that I’ve had my eyes on.  There’s only 61 shows on my Hulu que LOL.  I guess I’ll make it through alright.

Whew.  The end of my Sunday Musings.  Its exhausting to think about so much on my day of rest LOL.  Hope you all had a wonderful and restful weekend!

A Day in the Life

A day in the life…of the dogs.

Mr. Monk typically starts his day with a good chew.  He can really work a bone, even with his old, somewhat decrepit teeth.

After a bit he takes a break  Not sure what he was thinking here.

So even though there are FIVE other bones scattered around the floor, Noah has been keeping an eagle eye on Monk’s bone.

 

 

 

 

On this particular morning, Sophie had her way, and was as close as she wants to be–in my lap.

Later that afternoon, after I moved out of ‘their’ chair.  I thought it was funny the way Monk had his rear foot slung casually over Sophie’s back.

Today I brought in a new bed for Sophie and Monk.  Don’t ask me why I got it.  They get to lay on any couch or chair that they want to.  Sophie is taking this situation very seriously.  This is her giving Noah the evil eye.  It is HER bed.  Not meant for monsterdogs.

After setting Noah straight, she seems to really be relaxing in her new bed.  Who knew?

This morning I had an old favorite–protein pancake!  I use Lori’s recipe, bake some chopped walnuts into the pancake, and top with some extra ripe mashed bananas.  Heavenly.  Last week I did a couple of days of NO WHEAT, NO SUGAR.  So I am trying for three days this week.  (The pancakes have oats in them, not wheat.  I’m not as brave as Lori, going completely grain free!)

 

Creativity

Since I claimed in the last post that I didn’t have much to say because I was busy being creative, I thought I’d give you a taste of what its like around here.

Okay, this first picture is representative of why I have a clutter problem.  I get stuff like this and I just can’t quite decide to give it away.  This little guy barely escaped the last thrift store bag and ended up on the sewing table.  He is cute though, isn’t he?  He’s one of those stuffed animals they sell at museums or zoos–when you squeeze him, he makes ‘authentic’ baby eagle noises.  For now he is safe in his temporary home on the sewing table.

Here’s another bird that lives on the sewing table.  This one barely escaped the JAWS OF NOAH.  Her little feather headress is a little worse for the wear, and her tail is almost nonexistent.

Ahhh.  Some of my favorite essentials.  My box of little two inch squares, and recently used spools of thread.  Oh THAT’S where that bowl went…

THE STASH!!!   Its in a relatively neat stage right now.  It gets pretty messy when I’m pulling fabrics for various ideas.  I’m pretty good at straightening it up periodically.  This cabinet has a pretty interesting history.  My grandfather used it to train German Roller canaries.  Supposedly you would put the young males in the dark and let them listen to a trained singing male so they would learn how to sing?  I found this blog entry–guess it’s true, and not just a family legend!

The rug is progressing nicely.  I work on it every evening while I watch “TV” on my computer–not sure if Hulu.com is a good thing or a bad thing!

I found a whole range of greens to use for the ‘grass’ around the sheep.

Here’s the double wedding ring idea I mentioned the other day.  I am pretty excited about the possibilities for this.  I mean, I’ve been sewing little squares raw-edge on top of fabric for quite a while now, but I’ve never used them in such an organized fashion.  Its fast and its fun, and the possibilities seem endless.  I decided to make this quilt small, as a prototype.  I want to wash it several times to see how it holds up to regular use.  I’m not particularly worried about it, but I know that’s the first question other people will ask me.

Here’s a close-up of how the squares are zigzagged on, and then the sewing lines are the actual quilting.

More squares and strips.  I’m adding one more row to this quilt, so am madly sewing together little squares again this morning.

I had the seed of an idea for this piece when I was on vacation.  Just the idea of making a mosaic using odd sized pieces of fabric fit together with white between each piece.  Then I decided to make it a cross, and to add some of the motifs from the fabric in the mosaic.  My original plan was to do a lot of the handstitching on it.  You can see where I started that at the base of the cross.

A baby quilt I made for a very good friend.

Close-ups:

 

I’ve also been organizing my quilts for sale. I sold one of my small quilts to my supervisor(!) and another manager asked if I had others for sale, which forced me to organize myself.  Next step–Etsy!

And a bit of creating going on in the kitchen!  Made my own salsa–one giant tomato, slice of onion, one-third of a red bell pepper, some cilantro, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper–whee!  It sure is easier to make in the food processor than when I used to chop it all by hand!

Found some extra thin corn tortillas the other day–80 calories for two.  Yummy cheese quesadilla.

I also made several batches of yogurt–some to share with my neighbor who is keeping me supplied with fresh veggies this summer.  I saved the whey because I am going to try making my own ricotta cheese!  It might not work, as this is whey leftover from yogurt making and not cheese making.  And tomorrow I am going to try making some pesto for the first time.

So that’s how the days go by–very quickly, I might add.  Hoping you are all having a great week.  Try adding in a bit of handwork to your day.  There is something so very soothing about taking one stitch at a time and seeing something grow, and knowing that you are doing something that people have done all across the world and down through the centuries.  As I always like to say to people who say they do not have time–Ghandi found the time to SPIN the cotton and weave it into the cloth to make his own garments, and he changed the course of a nation!  Surely you can carve out a bit of time in your busy day!

Checking In

Whoa.  Its been a week since I’ve posted!  And honestly, I still don’t have much to say.  Or rather, much I WANT to say.  Life is very good.  I am being very creative.  And I can’t believe I have this opportunity to spend this much time creating.  Its so much better than I even imagined.  Maybe that’s why I don’t have much to say.  Because, man, I sure have had plenty to say in the past!  I was looking through my archives to see if I complained about how dusty it was last August.  Didn’t spot any whining, but I found this funny post.  And I found a lot of talk about feeling old and having various aches and pains,  and being tired.

Which brings me to the one interesting thing I might have to say.  I keep saying, and its true, that I haven’t felt this good (physically) in a long time.  I feel very strong when I am walking/hiking.  I enjoy doing the weights when I get to the gym, and once I got back into the swing of swimming, I feel like I could go a lot longer than I do.  I’m not 100% sure, but I think I feel this good because I have pared back my exercising a bit.  I’m no longer trying to run.  If we take a morning walk (I have to admit that I’m not too motivated to take the morning walks between the deer flies and the dust) it is for 30 minutes, and our evening walks are usually 40 minutes.  I cut back on the super heavy weights I was doing, and am doing more reps on some of the exercises.  I limit my time on the weights to 30 minutes, and time in the pool is also 30 minutes.

But in contrast with that ‘feeling better than I’ve ever felt’ are the internal mini-freakouts screaming “I CANNOT BE THIS FAT!”  So there’s the conundrum.  Oh, that was a different conundrum.  which, BTW, I don’t eat those bars much any more.  I prefer these for my chocolate chip cookie fix.

Back to the freakout.  I don’t want to say the f– word twice in the same blog entry.  It brings up that question again, about whether or not vanity is a viable motivation for weight loss, or more importantly, weight loss maintenance.  Judging by the evidence–in blog land, celebrity land, and my own experience,–it seems the answer is no, vanity is not a viable motivation for weight loss.  Good health doesn’t even seem to be able to motivate people.  Maybe pain?  Is that a motivational factor?  Well, truth is, as always, its a very complex issue.

This article was very interesting to me.  If his theory is true–that  ‘obesity needs treatment forever,’ then the supporting information about how difficult it is for patients to stick with a treatment regimen for chronic disease is very sobering information indeed.  But you know what?  Its also encouraging to me.  Because I am continuing with my ‘treatment regimen’ for my ‘chronic disease.’  Still tracking what I eat.  Still choosing whole foods, with lots of fruits and veggies, especially this summer!  Still getting that exercise in mostly on a daily basis.  Right now I’m being very serious and weighing once a week (Saturday’s weigh in:  176.8)  Checking in regularly with my accountability partner.  And of course, usually chatting ad nauseum with you all about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the weight loss/maintenance journey.

If You Think of it, Try it!

If you think of it, TRY IT.  Do not imagine how it will or won’t work – TRY IT.  –marianne burr

 That was Marianne Burr’s final advice to me, after my days of art lessons with her.  It seems simplistic, doesn’t it?  But she knew that that is many times what stops the forward movement of creativity.  So following that advice, I FINALLY sat down to try something that I’ve thought about, literally, for several years.   I had thought about adding beads to some of my quilts.  I had a book.  I had the basic supplies.  But I just was very unsure of how it all would work out.  I was almost afraid of trying.  And guess what?  IT WAS FUN!  And it was way faster than I thought it would be.

This picture shows the “bead rug.”  “Hmmm, this feels familiar, like something I might have at home?” I said to the lady in the bead store.  “Its a velux blanket.”  Oh.  I would have had 20 or 30 bead rugs if I hadn’t thrown that blanket out last year…

 

And a close-up of where I’ve started adding some beads to my little quilt sampler.

After I left the bead store, I popped into the furniture consignment shop across the street.  WHY do I do that?  I don’t have room for more furniture…oh, yeah.  I was looking for a love seat to replace the sofa so I’d have enough room to move it the big desk that I brought home from my dad’s…  Anyway, I saw a birds eye maple wardrobe as I walked in the door.  Birds eye maple is my favorite wood.  I was mildly interested.  I was just about to leave when a young man appeared and asked if he could help me.  “How much are you selling that for?”–waving at the wardrobe.  “I’ll let you have it for $50 as is.”  Well, how could I resist that?  Even if I didn’t have room for it.

Then the nightmare begins.  How to get it home without asking favors of anybody.  And WHERE to put it???  I thought I might put it in my closet and just use it for storage.  Then I looked in my closet.  Nightmare–too much to move and then to get it in there–I’d have to practically move every piece of furniture in the house to get it in there.  So I walked out and looked around the house.  HEY!   I hate that hall tree.  I’ll put it there and it will be like having a hall closet.  And then I can enjoy looking at it.  Plus, the only moving I’ll have to do is to unclutter the hall tree, and move it out, and it’ll be a straight shot (practically) to move the wardrobe in!

Okay, this is getting too long.  To make a long story short, I figured out I had enough room in my SUV to bring it home myself.  And then  I used my super powers (hey, all that working out at the gym has to be good for something, right?) to get it into the house all by myself!  I was pretty darn pleased about that!  Another example of ‘if you think of it, try it’ working.

Here’s the old hall tree.  I bought it out of a catalog, and of course, it didn’t look nearly as good in person as it did in the catalog.  Of course, its cleared off here, but it was usually covered with a bunch of junk, with leashes and collars hanging off of it.

Here’s the wardrobe.  It almost fits in this space.

The inside is almost better than the outside!  Lots of spaces to put stuff, and I can even use the tie rack on the door to hang the dog leases on!

I’ve been wanting to make a double wedding ring quilt out of a particular collection of fabrics I have.  I think I already wrote about failing one attempt at this.  So today I got out a different pattern and gave it another try.  FAIL AGAIN!  Either the pattern was not well done, or I was not following it correctly.  Either way, it didn’t work at all, and I did not enjoy the process at all.  But while I was working on it (and thinking about how I wasn’t enjoying it, and couldn’t I do this a different way that I might enjoy) a seed of an idea started germinating.  So I got out my box of 2 inch squares and gave it a try.  Voila!  A modern take on the double wedding ring block!  Those squares are just raw edge machine appliqued (read:  zig zagged) onto the backing fabric.  Another example of the ‘if you think of it, try it’ philosophy!

All this took quite a bit of time, and I noticed all three dogs snoozing and grabbed my camera for a photo op.

 

Of COURSE, someone just can’t sleep  when there is a camera in the area.

I cut the squares a little larger, and used the actual collection of fabrics that I had in mind for the double wedding ring.  I really like the way it looks, and I thoroughly enjoy this method of sewing.  And the reason I’ve been so determined to find a way to do this was so that I would have a machine piecing project that might be easy enough to work on while I am recuperating from my carpal tunnel surgery the next few months.

I made myself a little kit–squares all cut and ready to go!

Okay, this next can’t fit into the ‘if you think of it, try it’  mantra.  When I see a recipe that interests me, I will bookmark it.  This one’s been bookmarked a LONG time, and yesterday was finally the day to try it. Raw Double Fudge Brownies.   Oh mama, these are good.  Dangerously good.  VERY healthy ingredients.  But NOT low calorie.  If you analyze the recipe, it is very high in fats, because of the nuts and the avocado. Yep, that’s why its good.  This little baby is probably 1 1/2″ X 2″ and calculates out at 200 calories.  Its just not something I can have every day.  But for me, its still better than having a regular brownie because I can be relatively satisfied with just one.  Usually.  They are in the freezer now…

So that’s about it for now.  I don’t have any words of wisdom on how to lose weight or maintain that weight loss.  The longer this goes on, the less I think I know.  You start out so enthusiastic about your successful weight loss, and you just want to share the wonderfulness with everyone.  You want to encourage  people and tell them they can do it.  But it seems there’s nothing you can do or say to help people.  Its a very complex problem, with a multitude of ways to treat it.  There’s no cure.  That’s one thing I CAN tell you for sure.

Don’t be alarmed.  I’m not giving up.  In fact, I made it to the gym three times last week, for a weights workout and a swim each time.  And I am walking more than ever, in spite of the dust.  I’m currently (still) keeping track of the calorie count of what I eat, and also tracking to make sure I get a well rounded diet with enough protein.  Still minimizing sugar (life is so much easier when I play by this rule.)  I still go ‘off track’ sometimes, like Saturday when I went to the movies and had popcorn and M&M’s.  I don’t have that much trouble going back to my healthy eating ways the next day.  Trying to be aware of the foods that I know give me trouble, but not giving those foods super powers any more.

I guess I’m just saying that I don’t feel like I have much to add to the weight loss/maintenance blog world in the way of advice.  But I guess you guys knew that already LOL.  I know a LOT more about living with dogs, and quilting and cooking and reading….