The Best Laid Plans…

Can I just whine a little?  I don’t whine on here too much, do I?  Besides, its the safest place to whine.  I don’t have to see your eyes glaze over, or see you looking around to see if there’s someone more interesting to talk to.  If you don’t want to listen, just click away, and I am none the wiser.

I have two days to get ready for my hand surgery.  Okay.  I know.  I’ve had over a month to get ready.  But that’s beside the point.  Today and Monday I planned to cook (which I don’t need to do much of, because I took an inventory of stuff in my freezer and I have two weeks worth of dinners in there, plus a bunch of cooked chicken and turkey.  Go me!) and I was going to clean the house, wash and change my sheets, and I wanted to wash all three dogs.  That’s not too much to do in two days, right?

So this morning, pretty early, I hear my neighbor driving his quad over.  Ruh roh.  That means he’s going to split all that pine that’s been sitting there all summer.*  So I put Noah in his crate, and decide to wash the dishes to keep Noah company (and to keep him from  barking.)  Dishes done, but the wood splitter is still running.  So I decide to organize the cupboards.  Have I mentioned I have a TOTALLY USELESS CAT?   connection please, debby.  Yes.  Well, me and a certain mouse (because I have a TOTALLY USELESS CAT**) have been co-existing semi-peacefully.  I set traps for him occasionally, but he evidently has super-powers and just enjoys the snack I have left for him without setting off the trap.  A couple of mornings I have gotten up extra early and surprised him.  We both stare at one another while he scampers past the traps to his ‘safe place.’  Back to the cupboards.  Without going into detail, as you can imagine, with my little room-mate, it turned into more of a SUPER MAJOR CUPBOARD CLEANING than just a regular cupboard organizing job.

Okay.  The cupboard cleaning ended just about the same time as the wood splitting ended.  You guessed it.  Chore number two NOT on the planned weekend list.  Now I’ve stacked about a cord of wood.  And do any of you know what a COMPLETE MESS splitting pine makes?  There are piles and piles of bark and other junk out there.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with it all.

So its 3:30, my knee and my back hurt, and there is still some house cleaning to be done, and I really want the dogs washed.  And then there’s this other ‘little’ chore hanging over my head.  I bought a bunch of tulips and daffodils, a few pansies, and some potting soil.  I really need to get them in the ground before Tuesday morning too.

Well, I just checked weather.com, and the next two days are supposed to be sunny.  I don’t think I’ll get any big chores done tomorrow, because I am going to the ‘froyo’ church and going to do a little shopping, as well as check out the new Whole Foods that is up that way.

I think what I need to do is split up the doggy baths.  If I do one a day, its not such a big deal.  Sophie, you’re first!

Ahhh.  I feel better already.  I’ll just do what I can, and that will have to be good enough.  I’m a little sad about my quilting mojo being interrupted again.  I just finished up this quilt last night.  I still need to put the binding on.

This is that quilt that has the modern take on the traditional Double Wedding Ring pattern as the base.  Then I decided to mess it up, and add stuff on top.  So I named it “After the Wedding.”  Each of the organza circles has words in it relating to the best and the worst of marriage.

 

 

Well, I feel much better now.  Hope I didn’t impose on you all too much.  Tonight I am going to try making some ‘apple cider frozen yogurt.’  I got the idea when I was up at Apple Hill the other day.  They were serving apple cider milk shakes.  So I checked out a couple of recipes online (for ice cream) and modified them.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!

*Just want to say I am not complaining at all about my neighbor choosing to split the wood today.  He works full time, and is doing me a huge favor to split the wood (I give him  half of the wood for himself, and he splits the rest for me.)  He doesn’t know I am having hand surgery in a couple of days.

 

**For you cat lovers out there, my totally useless cat is not abused.  In fact, she is supremely happy with THE WAY THINGS ARE.  She gets a whole can of cat food every day, and a little pat on the head, and her own litter box, EVEN THOUGH THE WHOLE GREAT OUTDOORS IS FIVE STEPS AWAY.  She is a semi-feral cat that I adopted years ago.  I didn’t know there was such a thing as a semi-feral lazy cat.

Happy Birthday, Big Boy!

Seems like only  yesterday that Noah the Big White Dog (he has aspirations of beating Clifford in the book stores) was a sweet little ball of fluff.

Early on, he showed keen interest in landscaping.  I should have realized then…

An early hunt for eligible sticks.

An aspiring blog writer, this is his first discovery of the fascination of the computer.

And the career as “Stick Boy the Magnificent” began!

I don’t know why I complained so much.  Noah was a cheap date.  Playing with his favorite ‘toy’ (an empty gallon plastic milk jug.)

 

And when no big sticks were available?  He used his imagination.

He has friends in high places (the Queen grants an audience.)

He’d like to be a couch potato.

But has settled into being a floor potato.

He’s just a darned handsome guy.

With a mom who wants to share way too many photos.

And now, he’s made his move into the world of fashion photography!!!

 

(I know its hard to believe, but that is not me in the magazine ad.  Okay, its not Noah either.  But where on earth did they ever find a Big White Dog that looked exactly like Noah?)

Raising Noah has been a grand adventure.  My dad always said he thought I ended up with Noah for a purpose, to learn something.  At the time, I just said something like ‘harumph.’  But I do believe I have learned more about dogs, and maybe a little about myself, from Noah, than I have in all my years of raising and owning dogs.  That said, I hope he lives a LONG TIME.  Because I don’t think I can do that again LOL!

Happy Birthday, Big Boy!  Momma loves you.

 

Reading List

I seem to be settling into this retirement thing pretty well.  One of the things I wanted to accomplish was to read a bit more.  When I was working I still read, but I had a hard time settling down for any length of time with a book.  Now it seems that I give myself permission to sit just a bit longer to finish a chapter or two.

I just finished reading two books that were very different, but for me their messages dovetailed right together.  The first was a fascinating read by K.P. Yohannan, Revolution in World Missions.  I have to admit I had this book sitting on my bookshelf for quite a while.  I didn’t want to read it.  Didn’t want to know why/how we were doing it wrong or what I could do to make it better (world missions.)  Why did I order this book, anyway?  Oh, yeah.  Because it was free and Francis Chan recommended it

I have to admit, once I started reading it, I could not put it down.  Well written, fascinating, and yes, convicting.  We have so much here in the West, and just don’t even recognize the fact.  Most of the time we compare ourselves or our belongings to our friends and neighbors (or sometimes to movie stars…) If we saw how two-thirds of the world lives, and we remembered to compare ourselves to that, we would live a lot more thankfully, I am convinced.  And maybe we would learn to be a little more generous with those who live with a LOT less than us.  I swear this works.  When I start grousing about my humble abode, and thinking about how it will never be like “X’s” house, or heaven forbid, I compare it to magazines (thank goodness I’m mostly over that…) and then I look up from my chair, look around my house (which I can pretty much see the whole house from my chair) and then I compare it to Lawrence and Lydia’s ‘house’ (they are the couple that served me lunch in the slums of Kawangware,) I feel like the richest person in the world.  And I am so grateful.   Anyway, this book was a fascinating read, and I thoroughly recommend it.  K.P. Yohannan’s organization, Gospel for Asia, offers some of the same resources that World Vision does, but for quite a bit less money.  They claim that all donations go directly to the field.  You can give a gift of chickens, or a sewing machine, or a bicycle (just some of the things that interested me) or of course you can sponsor a child for $28. per month.  You can even sponsor a national missionary (meaning they are from Asia) for  $30/month.  Whew, is that enough links for you?  I didn’t mean to make this a commercial for Gospel for Asia.  I just am very impressed with the work that they are doing.  And the book on its own is a fascinating read.

At the same time I picked up a book that I had ordered by one of my favorite speakers, Jan Johnson.  Jan thinks a lot the way I do, so of course I love the way she speaks and writes.  This book was Abundant Simplicity.  As long time readers know, this is one of my goals in life.  So this book was more of a confirmation that I am thinking the right way, making the right choices (most of the time.)  When my life is more about living simply (as compared to “Real Simple Magazine” which is just a way of spending a LOT of money to look like you’re living simply,) you are free to give more generously to those less fortunate than you.  I like this.  Jan is an intelligent writer who has a personal way of writing that keeps your interest.  She is a GREAT speaker, and if you ever go on women’s retreats, and get the opportunity to hear her speak, you will be challenged, motivated, and encouraged on your walk with Christ, while laughing and crying at the same time!

AT THE SAME TIME, I picked up a book at the thrift store, which honestly, in a real book store, I would have passed right over and viewed with suspicion.  But hey, for a dollar?  Anyway, this guy is a New York Times best selling author, and maybe you have already heard of him?  The book was The Year of Living Biblically,  by A.J. Jacobs.  I am only two-thirds of the way through this book, but I can’t help but recommend it.  Jacobs is, by his own account, an agnostic cultural Jew.  He decided to read through the Bible and try to live literally Biblically for an entire year.  Some people might think he is making fun of the Bible.  I don’t see that at all.  He DOES make fun of some Christians, which is alright by me.  There are plenty of Christians that are pretty funny.  And my first thoughts while I read this, was Man.  If only Christians took the Bible this seriously and worked at living by it.  Anyway, like I said, I have not finished yet, and of course you know I am hoping he ends up on ‘my side,’ by the end LOL, but I can’t help but recommend it.  Jacobs is hilarious, intelligent, sincere, and a great writer.  And buying this book at the thrift store for $1 ties right in with what I learned in the first two books I mentioned.

Along those lines (living simply,) I am trying to make better use of my local library.  So when I returned Wheat Belly, I made myself look around.  Wow.  They have a lot of books in there.  Hey, and DVD’s too.  To test how savvy our local library was, I looked up A.J. Jacobs first best-seller, The Know-It-All, to see if they had it.  And can you believe it, there it was, right in our little country library.  I asked the librarian as I checked it out, if you had to come in to renew it.  And she said, oh no, just give us a call.  Because my plan for that book is to save it for my next surgery.  Yes, I am having my right hand carpal tunnel surgery next Tuesday!!  Back to The Know-It-All, in this book Jacobs sets out to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, in order to become the most intelligent person in the world.  I took a peek, and it is a hilarious fun read too.

 

Me and Exercise and a Little Goal

So since spa week, I have been exercising a little more.  I have declared war on the flies (or is it a peacefire, I’m not sure.)  Anyway, I cannot walk through them any more.  The other day I looked down and Noah was blinking his eyes to keep the stinkin’ flies at bay and I thought, he’s not enjoying this any more than I am.  So we take a short 20-30 minute walk just before it gets dark.  And even then there are some crazy kamikaze flies trying to get in my mouth.

So, I have been going to the gym a little more.  I have discovered the joys of the exercise bike (especially while watching the Food Network LOL.)  More swimming, and more time in the weights room.  And  the biggest change is that I am back to exercising in my living room.  Pretty much ever since joining the gym, I haven’t exercised at home.  But there are lots of days I just don’t want to drive to the gym (its a 25 minute drive.)  So the Queen and her Bodyguard have to go outside for a while (the Court Jester is already out there,) and I do mostly bodyweight exercises, as well as using those dumbells that have been living under the woodstove for the last two years!

My knee is definitely on the mend, and last week I was thinking and walking and somehow my age came up.  I will be 57 in a month or so.  That is darn close to 60.  Can you believe it?????  Anyway, so far I have not had any crises about turning a certain age, but I have heard from some of my friends that 60 can be traumatizing.  And I thought, what if I could turn 60 and be just a bit more fit than I am currently?  Cause I am pretty fit right now (knee notwithstanding.)   To be a physically fit 60 YEAR OLD WOMAN would be awesome.  So that is my little goal.

Now that I am back to exercising a bit more, I realize (again) that I like how I feel.  Yes, I am sore and stiff, but it is a good sore and stiff.  If I don’t exercise, I am still sore and stiff, but it is a VERY BAD, crippled old lady sore and stiff.  I’ll take the former, thank you.

A Little Quilting and Some Seriously Good Food

Ahhh.  Back to normal, talking about what I do best–quilting and food.

Here’s dessert from a couple of nights ago–fantabulous.  Apple topped with a wedge of laughing cow lite, walnuts, and those little things are some cinnamon chips.  Yummy.  This made me think of all the crazy fancy caramel apples that are out there ($9.99 at the grocery store the other day!)  You could make your own lower calorie version any number of ways!

I was in a little quilting stall.  Couldn’t quite figure out what direction to go it after my spa week and the big quilt show.  Decided the best thing to do was to finish a project.  This is the little quilt  (probably 14″X16″) based on the drawings by the little 8 year old girl that I sponsor through Compassion.  She is quite the artist and I hope to make more of her drawings into quilts as she grows!

Close-ups:

 

 

This next food pictured is so scrumptious–my new favorite fall food.  I used the base of Katie’s recipe for “Pumpkin Bread in a Bowl.”  After trying it, I realized I loved the liquid part, but don’ t really want to eat cereal that much.  I used her recipe as is, except for using 1/4 cup  eggbeaters and 1/2 cup of almond breeze.  I guess that means I didn’t use her recipe as is and should publish my own.  Maybe later.  Anyway, it is kind of a thick liquid, like a dessert soup, and then floated some greek yogurt in the middle and topped with pumpkin granola.  Last night, I eliminated the yogurt and just had the ‘soup’ topped with granola for dessert.  Serious yummmm!

Yesterday morning I did some batch cooking.  Its always fun to try a new recipe.  In my never ending quest to TRY to like bean creations, I had bookmarked this recipe.  It is very different than what I usually would do myself, and I really had to talk myself into making it instead of another chocolate chip type creation.  These are Healthy Cookies with Rosemary, Raisins, and Chickpeas.  And this time I followed the recipe.  Oh, wait.  I had to substitute some stuff cause I didn’t have what it asked for.  Basically, had to make some nut butter before I even started–had a bag of cashews in the cupboard.  Saved 1/4 cup to chop and add to the balls, and made cashew butter for the recipe.  I also didn’t have rice flour, so used oat flour.  And, I decided to try peeling the beans, to see if that made a difference.  Because one of the reasons I don’t like beans is the texture.  Anyway, these were a HUGE SUCCESS.  Really quite wonderful.  I love the texture.  The rosemary is very mild, and the raisins are just the right additive.  I can see using this base recipe to make a lot of other ‘cookies.’  They remind me of shortbread.

 

Here’s the question, though.  They are not calorie free, due to the nut butter, and the generous additives of raisins and nuts.  180 calories per ball.  Sometimes I make/eat something like this and I think, why are you doing this.  A cookie of a similar size would be about the same amount of calories.  And then I think, well, you are never happy with one cookie, and besides when you eat this, you are actually eating something that is nourishing for you.  What do you all think about this?

And One More Thing…

Can I just rant about one more thing?  That new catch phrase that’s being bandied about hither and yon–“The wheat you’re eating is not the same wheat that your parents and grandparents consumed.”  PEOPLE.  SCIENTIST PEOPLE.  DOCTORS EVEN.  Do I really really need to tell you this?  NOTHING you eat is the same product your parents and grandparents ate.  All those perfect fruits and vegetables in the market?  NOT the same.  That pork chop?  Definitely NOT the same. Oh, and those chickens?  I’ve witnessed them stumbling along and falling over in the sun.  NOT the same.

Oh, and while I’m at it?  Can I tell you that the horses we race, the purebred dogs we love, and for sure some of those crazy show cats are NOT the same.

Man is involved in the production of all of them, and he has a sinful (and selfish) nature.  Oh, and before you think its only the producers with the sinful nature, rest assured that we consumers are also endowed with that same sinful nature.  We want what we want when we want it.  And we don’t want to pay too much for it either.

I like my perfect little fruits and vegetables.  I like my perfect salad in a bag.  I like my $1.99/pound boneless skinless chicken breasts.  Hey there’s an idea.  If you could raise chickens without feathers or skin it would be even cheaper for me.

Let’s Talk Grains, Shall We?

Things seem to be heating up in the War on Grains don’t they?  What?  You haven’t noticed?  Primal/Paleo–just eat what our hunter-gatherer ancestors did (what?  they didn’t gather wheat???)  Now we have the latest book making the rounds “Wheat Belly” telling us all the evils of wheat.  I read it.  Of course.  I like to be informed.  Well, let’s be fair.  I skimmed the whole book in one afternoon.  (and can I say how awesome the public library system is?  I did that on-line thing where you order a book and sooner or later your library calls and says it has arrived.  I was so surprised–I forgot which book I had actually ordered.)

Anyway.  You already know I eat minimal wheat.  Its just that its an easy food for me to eliminate.  Now.  It wasn’t always this way.  I learned in Weight Watchers how to eat high fiber, whole grains.  (and totally off-topic, am I the only one irritated about the complete overuse of the useless ‘fiber’ inulin?  How else do you think they get fiber into yogurt and ice cream?)  Back to the topic at hand.  What were we discussing?  Oh yeah.  Grains.  So wheat.  Even though I’ve eliminated it, I don’t exactly think its evil.  Its just attached to some high calorie stuff that I try to avoid, like cookies and cake.  Pasta I like, but I’ve discovered I actually like the sauce better than the pasta.  And bread.  I guess its over there with the cakes and the cookies.  If its good, I can’t leave it alone, and if its not that good, like the high fiber wraps, I can’t be bothered.  I did wonder if I had a slight allergy to wheat, as it seemed to cause, ummm, some intestinal disturbances…

Anyways, Wheat Belly.  Dr.  Davis did make some interesting points.  He states that wheat, calorie for calorie, increases your blood sugar and your insulin response higher and faster than table sugar.  I can believe that.  I was always trying to tell my dad that it was carbohydrates that you had to watch, not just sugar.  Dr. Davis makes a lot of other claims about the effect wheat has on various body systems.    I kept thinking the whole time I was skimming, just wheat???  Finally I got to the last chapters where he recommends a specific diet, and he has a LONG list of foods to avoid.  Can anyone say paleo?  Are he and Dr. Berkley roommates???  So even though his book was all about the evils of wheat, especially the current wheat being produced, there are a lot of foods that he wants you to eliminate or severely limit.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

I’ve had some interesting email conversations with a few bloggers about the topic of grains.  Debra SY had some fascinating comments that she shared with me.  Instead of trying to summarize what she said, I think I’ll just print her entire brilliant comment:

 I’ve read that our bodies do not process grains well, they were the last resort of our ancient ancestors — starvation foods — therefore they may trigger a starvation reaction in our bodies.  I have also read they are inflammatory.  On the other side, however, in the Bible bread seems to be metaphor for spiritual evolvment.  Our ancient ancestors may have had to resort to munching down on wheat and barley shafts, just to keep their stomachs full in times of scarcity, but we have evolved beyond those times and have learned to bake bread.  Glorious, tasty bread.  Christ proclaims himself the bread of life, not the meat, not the nut (certainly not!), not the vegetable or fruit.  (Salt, too, fares well in the Bible, metaphorically.)  So, the spiritual me cannot let go of bread entirely.  But giving it up mostly seems okay.  Christ, as metaphorical bread, did not contain TBHQ preservative, his flour was not stripped of all nutrient value through processing, and he certainly wasn’t brought into existence by Keebler elves.  Debra of Debra’s Just Maintaining

And then, probably the most important(?) thing I wanted to share was an article I read in an old National Geographic magazine while I waited for my car to be repaired.  You’ve probably all heard about this study–the one about the “blue zones?”  The blue zones are areas in the world where whole populations live healthier and longer lives.  I think there was a book written about it.  Anyway, google it if you want.  The findings are very interesting (to me.)  The main thing I noticed when I read that article was that one of the things all these people had in common (besides eating a diet very high in vegetables) was that they all ate a lot of grains.  Whole grains.  They did not eat a lot of cookies and cake.

So here’s a theory of mine.  I have no research to back this up.  Hey, that never stopped a lot of scientists from presenting their theories as truth.  Anyway, I think it is the American way of over-doing almost anything.  Can we just have some balance here people?  We find one thing that is “good” and we do it to death.  Whole wheat is good?  How much of it can we produce?  How many different food products can we make (and consume) that have this good thing in it?  Finally, our bodies revolt at the overabundance of a singular food product.  If my theory is right, oats and flaxseed meal will be the next on the chopping block (BTW does anybody else love that crazy show?)

And finally, I will end with a brilliant quote from my good friend Lori, as we “chatted” last night about the claims of losing weight, even losing your “belly” if you would just eliminate wheat in your diet.  And I said, referring to the ‘success stories’ in the book, as I am prone to say these days, come back and talk to me in five years.  Like I said in this post, we live in a world of cake.  Yes, you can be diligent, and you can fight the first 50 years of personal conditioning, and you can fight the whole food society that we live in.  But not too many people will be able to do that for a year, much less five or a lifetime.

It’s like that with any eating plan, whether it is low-carb, low-fat, vegetarian, paleo, primal, whatever.  There is always that honeymoon period where things just are great and super, then reality sets in and your body adjusts.  It all comes down to making the best choices you can for the calories you need in the day without driving yourself crazy.  Lori, of Finding Radiance 

So that’s it.  The key.  Lori, you could write a best-seller.  I think I’ve pretty much figured out how to maintain a weight loss without driving myself crazy.  I’ll keep reading the latest information.  You never know when you might run across something helpful.  And there’s always room for tweaking, like Cammy said this morning.  I actually tried one of Dr. Davis’s recipes this morning–Pumpkin muffins.  I had all the ingredients, and they sounded interesting and tasty.  The jury’s still out on them.  I’ll probably have another one tomorrow and report the results to you.