Fruit and Other Assorted Topics

Seems to me that fruit has been bandied about the blog world a little more than usual lately.  Helen doesn’t really like it, Shelley has the market on WATERMELON, and Lori can get blueberries cheaper than either Shelley or myself!!  Then there was that bit about blueberries being a negative calorie food, which all us foodies had a good laugh over. Of course there are those who think fruit is to be limited/avoided, etc. Then, occasionally, I hear someone comment that they could eat 12 servings of fruit in a day!!  Are you kidding me?

I LIKE fruit.  Duh.  Its sweet.  But I am rarely tempted to overdo on fruit, and it just seems normal for me to have 2 servings a day.  I don’t think about it or count them out, but that’s usually what it turns out to be.  Once in a while a day will go by and I will realize I only had one serving.

The thing about fruit is that, by itself, it just does not hold me that long.  It is so pleasant to eat, very enjoyable at the time, but it does not appreciably satisfy my hunger.  I usually have fruit with some kind of protein, most commonly with cottage cheese or yogurt.

All that said, this is the time of year for the most wonderful fruit.  I try to limit the amount of fruit I have in the house at one time so I do not feel pressured to eat it ‘just because its there.’  Right now I happen to have a LOT of really great fruit in the house.  So I decided to try something this morning.  I made a fruit salad.  Four types of fruit, cut and put in a bowl.  Four servings, approximately 400 calories.  I wrote that down on my food journal this morning.

Here’s how I had the first serving, over a half cup of Wal Mart cottage cheese.  This is the world’s best cottage cheese!

At first I thought, yep, it didn’t hold me, but then I realized it had been 3 hours since I ate, so I had a second breakfast–very low calorie English muffin French toast.  With Smucker’s sugar free syrup.  That is the only sugar free syrup I like.  I really try to soak the muffin in the egg mixture so I get a decent amount of protein in there.

Had the second bowl of fruit for my afternoon snack, with a 3M Chia muffin (10 grams protein), and I had the last bowl for dessert tonight.  All in all, a very satisfying experiment.  But I don’t really need to eat that much fruit.  And  overall, I think I like eating one kind of fruit at a time.

But we should all eat fruit, don’t you think?  One of God’s great gifts to us.  Full of all those good nutrients (you’re gonna have to look elsewhere for what exactly those nutrients are…)

So earlier this week I was involved in what could only be called a QUILT OBSESSION.  Quite a while ago, I put together these various assortments of simple squares using my boxes of pre-cut strips and squares. And then I switched gears and started working on the housetop quilts.  But I was determined not to let those orphan squares go to waste.  So I pretty much worked non-stop on this quilt for a few days.  I had the idea of zig-zagging the squares to a background instead of sewing them together, since they were odd sizes that wouldn’t exactly fit together.

You can see my ‘zig-zag technique’ in this photo.

I did realize that all that sitting and sewing was making me quite stiff.  So I did get in some walks every day.  And I did actually make it to the gym three days this week!  But the biggest source of exercise for me this week was FUNCTIONAL exercise.  Yeah, where you actually USE all those muscles you’ve worked so hard for.  I FINALLY returned to the garden, and bought some plants, and actually planted them.  Planting them involved moving around a lot of big heavy pots full of soil, bags of soil, and all that.  Its so nice to have flowers in the garden again.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  Noah seems to be leaving them alone.  He does still like the plastic pots that they come in.

THEN, more functional exercise.  I did a lot of housework, and I cleaned off the back porch and the deck and took a load of stuff to the dump!   You know, keeping busy like that keeps your mind off of “what’s next to eat?”

So, speaking of what’s next to eat, I found a really interesting product at Trader Joe’s the other day.  Literally has three ingredients:  honey, chocolate liquor, and oil of peppermint.  Quite decadent.  And interesting, as I don’t think the chocolate is sweetened.  About 50 calories each.  I find that one mint usually satisfies my sweet tooth.  I also like the Russell Stover sugar free mints.

So, I don’t know what got me in the mood.  Maybe it was my dingy socks and my filthy shoes?  Anyway, I started looking around the internets for those darn Newton’s Running Shoes, and I found that they sold them on Ebay!  So I sprang for a pair.  Free shipping, and they accept returns, so I’ll only be out about $5 if they don’t fit and I have to send them back.  And I also ordered 10 pairs of my all time favorite socks. These really are THE WORLD’S SOFTEST SOCKS!  I love how they feel, I love how they stay in place, but they aren’t too tight around my ankles.  And they last a pretty long time.

Doggie love.  That Bess is a cutie.  We had a little emergency with her earlier this week.  She had a scar on one eyeball when I got her.  Not that unusual for a pug, I thought.  But somehow it got irritated, and overnight it looked really terrible.  I think the vet gave me NEOSPORIN for the eyeball, along with a little steroid.  She has certainly made herself at home here.

And Mr. Monk, in a particularly energetic pose.

Sophie’s version of a big stretch.  Isn’t she cute?

And the latest completed housetop quilt, with two of my favorite verses on it (Matt. 11:28-29, and Psalm 23.)  I think you might be able to see the writing if you click on the picture and enlarge it.

Oh, I was reviewing my pictures from Paducah today and I ran across this great picture.  This garden art was in what seemed to be an abandoned lot.  Isn’t it great?

Wow, I should really blog a little more often.  Well, you could save this and read just a little every day…

Is Popcorn a Vegetable and Other Silly Questions

I want popcorn tonight.  I wasn’t that hungry for dinner.  So I skipped the vegetable, and just had a bowl of that cottage cheese/pineapple/walnuts that I like so much.  I usually ALWAYS have a vegetable with dinner.   Thus my wishful thinking that popcorn is a vegetable.

About that not being hungry tonight.  We had a very special moving away/retirement party for one of our pastors who is 84 years old!  Man, that kind of thing makes me a little embarrassed to be retired.  Only a little.  Anyway, quite a few little things were really bothering me before I went, and I did say to myself “I’M GONNA EAT ALL THAT FOOD.”  I pretty much knew it was only going to be desserts.  And it was.  And I did.  And since he is a most-loved pastor, everybody had outdone the other in making their most special homemade desserts.  I have not had that much dessert in a long long time.  Yumm.  (I’m sorry.)

I came home and made some of those little tasty healthy cookies (no sugar except the chocolate in them.  Remember, I use half the amount of chocolate in the recipe and it is still quite a lot.)  I had already planned on making them before the dessert debacle happened.  But they will be a good thing to have on hand, should the urge for dessert arise in the next few days.

Oh.  Popcorn.  Does anybody else do this?  I use Cammy’s paper bag method of making microwave popcorn, and then I spray the popcorn with Pam (well, the Costco brand) and salt.  Most yummy, just enough oil to make the salt stick.  And it tastes fresher than any microwave popcorn I used to have.

Handy dandy kitchen devices.

This is a little hand held mandolin.  It is super sharp, and I love the way it shreds carrots and zucchini.    And just about anything else.  It has a little plastic guard to keep it safe when you’re not using it.

I love these cups so much.   They have some kind of liquid in them that freezes and keeps your drinks super cold without diluting them.  My diet cokes (sorry) stay cold AND fizzy.  And I’ve been using them for my iced coffees too.

And my Magic Bullet.  I was kind of mean to my Magic Bullet when I first got it.  I gave it a pretty bad review.  But I’ve come to love it a lot since then.  I use the little cup and the short blade continuously as my coffee grinder!  (no more pre-ground for me, Lori!)  And I have had lots of success making smoothies.  I really like that you can make it in the cup and then drink it out of the same cup.  Cause you know what’s really really bad about cooking all your food from scratch?  DISHES.  Lately, I am SICK of washing dishes.

Well, these guys aren’t kitchen appliances.  But they both like the kitchen.  Cause that’s where their food comes from.  Which, BTW.  The queen and her lady-in-waiting had quite a tussle over ONE PIECE of kibble that fell on the floor.  The queen was almost mortally wounded.  So its nice to see them sharing Mr. Monk’s chair (don’t know what’s up with that…)

I know.  There was only one question.  Sue me.

A Golden Moment

The day started the way most days did.  The filtered light coming into the bedroom seemed to wake her up very early every morning.  Or maybe it was the four pairs of eyes trained on her.  Before she even knew she was awake, the dogs seemed to know it and they noisily encouraged her to start the day.

She got out of bed.  As usual, she did not say, as her mentor Dallas Willard encouraged, “God is here.”  It seemed like such a good idea, but so far that good idea had not been turned into a habit.  Other things seemed more pressing.  The dogs needed to get out, coffee needed to be made, and you know, those other morning essentials…

With those things out of the way, she took her breakfast and morning coffee and headed over to the computer.  It was Wednesday, a good day for reading blogs.

She read her favorite blogs, made comments both thoughtful and not, until the  sun was shining so brightly through the big front window that she could no longer see the computer screen.  Reluctantly, she swiveled  the desk chair that used to be her dad’s.  Just a quarter turn, and she was facing her latest rug on its frame, the rug illustrating Psalm 96.  How convenient, she thought. And now the sun was no longer in her eyes.  It was just a wonderful warm bath of light and goodness, filling the room and lighting up her rug.  The dachshund was, as always, positioned as close as possible to her.  She nestled on the sofa cushions, and she too was enjoying the warmth of the early morning sun.  She looks relaxed for once, she thought.  The two pugs snored quietly, and where was the big guy?  He was SACKED OUT, laying stretched out on the floor on the other side of her.  How did this happen?  Oh yes.  It was an answer to prayer.  It was a cry from the deepest part of her heart–after the neighbor had complained about his barking–Lord, I need six months of silence!  She was a little embarrassed that her most heartfelt prayer was one about a barking dog.

She turned again to her rug and began making one small even stitch after another.  It was a golden moment.  Yes indeed.  God is here.

My Brother is Losing Weight

My brother has been losing weight lately.  Irritating.

Not really.  Its not the typical case of ‘men can lose weight so easily.’  He has really worked on losing weight this time. I say this time, because he has undertaken to lose weight (and succeeded) in the past as well.  He has had some extremely stressful life events in the past two years and had gained about 28 pounds.

My brother is not like me.  He was what I would consider a naturally thin person the first half of his life.  As he got older, he gained a bit, but only to be a ‘naturally’ normal weight person.  He has lifted weights seriously since he was a teenager.  In his twenties I used to ask him if he didn’t think cardio was important, and he would reply “I’m never doing that.”  Now, in addition to his weight lifting routine, he runs religiously on the treadmill at the gym.  And, the last way he is not like me–he is not food obsessed.  He has always been a very picky eater.  So sometimes his food choices are limited. He likes the occasional sweet, but it is not the be all and end all of his day.  And, although he has made a few healthy changes in the past few years, he still eats some processed food (i.e.  frozen pizzas. yuck.)

So when he announced to me the other day that he was down another two pounds, I quizzed him about what he was doing.

He doesn’t count calories.  He doesn’t do any food group eliminations (i.e. paleo or primarian.)  He doesn’t worry about the addictive qualities of the fat/sugar/salt combo.  I know.  Irritating. He doesn’t even have a support group that he goes to.

What he does do is this:  He eats a low calorie diet VERY CONSISTENTLY.  He is fairly regimented in what he eats mostly because he is a picky eater, and secondly because he works and he has to have meals that are easy to fix and to pack.

Every single morning he has a protein shake (protein powder mixed in milk, not the fancy concoctions that I sometimes come up with.)  Then he has a piece of string cheese mid-morning. (I checked these out–6 grams of protein for 80 calories.  Not bad)  For lunch he has a natural peanut butter sandwich on stone ground wheat bread (not diet bread,) some tomatoes or baby carrots, a glass of milk, and a dannon or yoplait low-cal yogurt.  Every day.  He has those same two meals.  Wow.  For his afternoon snack he will have one piece of fruit.  And then for dinner, he usually has a regular dinner, which usually includes some sort of wheat product (bread or pasta) and many times includes some type of processed food.  NO snack after dinner.  Even though he doesn’t count calories, I do.  I counted roughly 1500 calories a day.  And then on Sunday he has a ‘free day’ where he can eat whatever he wants.

The thing is, in analyzing this, it will work for him.  Because for him, this is a way of life that he can continue.  I can’t do it.  I know I can’t/won’t eat the same thing day after day.  And when I try giving myself a free day, that does not work either.  I tend to go overboard.

I quizzed him to see if there was anything I could learn from him.  I took away a couple of things.  CONSISTENCY.  Day after day, he kept up his low calorie eating regimen.  Even when he had weeks where he did not lose any weight, he did NOT GIVE UP (ah, does that sound familiar?)  He started dieting in late January or February, and he has lost 17 pounds so far.  Do the math–that’s not even a pound a week.  Two, CUT DOWN ON THE SNACKS.  In fact, my brother says this is the main difference in the way he is eating now compared to how he usually eats.   He has two snacks, but they are 80 calorie snacks, not 200 calorie snacks.  And three, I bought a mega pack of string cheese at Walmart.  Very convenient and tasty form of protein, and fun to eat too!  For comparison’s sake, one string cheese has 6 grams of protein for 80 calories.  My Hillshire Farm’s Deli Ham has 10 grams of protein for 60 calories.  Very tasty, but not as fun as string cheese.  What?  No one thinks the ‘fun factor’ in food is important?

Well, I thought it would be interesting to hear about a ‘success story’ from a different kind of loser.  I love my brother, and it sure is fun to have someone to discuss exercise with (he’s not that much fun to talk ‘food’ with, since he says yuck to most of what I talk about.)  Here’s a picture of us back in 2006.  That would have been about a year after I started my weight loss journey!

Exercise…in a Whole and Healthy Life

So.  Exercise.  How’s it going?  What does it mean to exercise for health within a balanced life?  I won’t bore you with what the ‘experts’ say.  I’ll just bore you with what I’m doing LOL.

One of the big things I have always thought about is how much time do I want to spend exercising?  What is the lowest common denominator?–that is, what is the most benefit that can be derived from exercise in the least amount of time?  In my quest for a whole and healthy life, there are a lot of things I want to fit into the day.  Most days I do not accomplish all of those things.  So to spend an extraordinary amount of time exercising just doesn’t cut it for me.  But…  there’s that ‘healthy’ word that I stuck in there.

So I take at least a 30 minute walk 6 days a week. Most days I do two 20 minute walks.  One moderate paced, and lately one very fast challenging pace.  Then, my goal is to work out at the gym 3 days per week for 30 minutes.  Lately I have only gotten 20 minutes in, but that is essentially a complete workout–balanced amount of upper body and lower body exercises.  Have to admit that core is hit or miss.

Now, part of the 20 minute walking thing is that my knee and various other joints hurt.  A lot, most days.  So its hard to want to walk for more than 20 minutes when it hurts.  But I did know (intellectually, not psychologically) that it didn’t hurt worse to walk for a longer period of time.  So after Shelley talking about her Saturday morning 5 mile runs, I declared that I would take my old 5 mile walk to the Indian Grinding Rocks State Park.  Oh dear.  By Friday morning I wanted to back out.  But with Helen and Shelley goading cheering me on in the comments, I got up bright and early and set out shortly after 7 am on Saturday morning (because it was predicted to be a high of 97 degrees on Saturday!)

And we made it (Noah and I, that is!)  And I didn’t feel worse after the walk, I felt better.  In fact, today I felt even better.  Mentally more than anything else.  So I am going to add the long walks back in to the rotation.  I am usually at a loss as to what to do with Saturdays (after working for so long every Saturday) so this seems like a good way to start the day.

So with all these aches and pains in the joints (there is a surprising LACK of information on osteoarthritis out there on the interwebs) it seems like adding in swimming would be a very good thing to do.  I always get a little shy about getting back in the pool, but with this hot weather I’m pretty sure I’ll get over that shortly!

So that’s where my exercise routine is these days.  I have exercised a lot more in the past, and of course I have exercised a lot LESS in the distant past.  Right or wrong, for me right now, this is the lowest common denominator for exercise in my life.

 

Travel and Food

So my week at rug camp was wonderful.  I’ve written about it before, so won’t bore you withe the details, because it is essentially the same every year.  It is held at Cambria Pines Lodge, a place I thoroughly recommend to anyone who might be in the area.  Beautiful gardens surrounding the lodge, and close to the ocean and the charming town of Cambria.

Here’s a picture of me and my roommate with our rugs in the background.  (they have a rug show mid-week at camp.)

Bits and pieces of what I worked on at camp.

The whole rug design is shown in this post.  And lastly, a picture of what I have named THE BEST NEW TOY OF THE YEAR.  This is a tool that cuts strips of wool from fabric in precise sizes especially for rug hookers.  It is a really well-made tool and is very fun to use.  VERY FUN.

Back to the food.  The good thing about this camp being the same is that I pretty much knew the menu for the week.  For a place serving over 100 people a buffet meal three times a day, they have pretty good food choices the majority of the time.  But three big meals a day is still too much.  Plus, they are pretty heavy on the bread/wheat options.

So what I did this year was to call ahead and ask for a refrigerator and a microwave in my room.  No microwave (which I didn’t need,) but the fridge sure was appreciated.  I packed a simple refrigerator bag ($5 at Costco) with some ice, and apples, small cans of crushed pineapple, my favorite cottage cheese (Walmart,) baby carrots, Hillshire Farms sliced ham (convenient packaging!), some of my Quest protein bars, and some walnuts.  Oh, and some diet Cokes…

Three of the four days I ate lunch in my room.  It was a nice relaxing break, and I had a lunch that I actually enjoyed more than the lunch they provided.  Plus it was higher protein and fewer calories. I really didn’t need all that stuff, but it gave me a nice variety to choose from.  A couple of mornings I was up REALLY early, and so I had an apple or a protein bar for a ‘pre-breakfast.’

I pretty much relaxed and allowed myself to have whatever they were serving for breakfast and dinner.

So, as always, re-entry (coming home) and stocking up on food is something I really enjoy. Sometimes I am surprised at how easy it is to convert back to my usual healthy food choices.  I love getting bunches of fresh vegetables and fruit, and checking out the meat department for what is in stock.  And then I love to get some milk and a carton of cheap yogurt to start a batch of my homemade yogurt!

Another thing I do is try to make something special that is still healthier than the food I indulged in on the trip.  So yesterday I made a batch of my blueberry scones.  Hadn’t made them for a while and I was out of practice.  Let me just tell you that there is a fine line between adding just enough liquid and adding a bit too much!  But the end result was absolutely delicious.  Better than any baked goods I had on the trip!

I was really in the mood for some fish, so I ended up getting both Dover sole AND salmon.  Both were absolutely delicious.  I am always surprised that our little land-locked market occasionally has some really fresh fish available.  I cook all fish the same way.  Pre-heat the pan over medium high heat with a spray of pam and seasoning, add the fish, spray the top of fish with pam,  cook about 3 minutes on one side, flip, and another 3 minutes on the other side.  You might have to lower the heat to medium, and might have to adjust the cooking time depending on the thickness of your fish. I finish by squeezing fresh lemon over the fish while it is still hot in the pan.

Today I was cooking some brussel sprouts for lunch when I realized that I was not going to have time to eat them before I had to leave for an appointment.  So I put them in a plastic container, left them on the seat of the car while I went to my appointment, and ate them with a plastic fork after I got done–still warm from sitting in the sun!  Its just not that hard to bring your own food along if you think about it a bit.

And while on the subject of THAT APPOINTMENT…it was EXTREMELY stressful for me.  Opening a trust account at the bank that is in the grocery store.  I had to go there two days in a row to get all the paperwork that they required, with an additional trip to my lawyer’s in between.  Both days I was so stressed that I was looking longingly at the candy bars in the teller lines right next to the ‘bank.’  Fortunately I had some of my Eclipse gum in my purse.  That stuff is so strong it usually knocks any thought of other food out of my mind until I can get my thinking under control!

Well, those are just some of my thoughts tonight on living a whole and healthy life. I hope some of them might be helpful for you!  And now, off to bed.  Another important part of living a whole and healthy life.

Prequel to Vacation

So I want to tell you all about my week at rug hooking camp.  But first I have to tell you about a rather monumental event that happened before I even left.

So it all started when I took my good animal-loving friend out to lunch for a belated birthday celebration.  This was less than a week before I was supposed to leave for camp.   Lunch was okay, but not primo, and so I said, ‘wanna go get a small frozen yogurt for dessert?  As well as being similar in the animal loving arena, we are also kindred spirits when it comes to frozen yogurt.  So imagine our mutual dismay when we drove up and the yogurt shop was completely closed down.  Our desolation was deep, let me tell you.  So friend says to me, “wanna go to the animal shelter?”  “SURE!” I agree.  Ruh roh.  You can see where this is leading.

So we go in.  Oh dear.  So many cute kittens.  I resist.  I have one old cat who does not want to be bothered with young energetic kittens.  First doggie room.  My gosh, I am not kidding you, I have never seen this many cute dogs at our little local animal shelter…  We left that room, and I thought I had made it safely through the gauntlet of cute animals needing homes.  “Oh, there’s one more room,” my friend(?) says.  And we go in this room, round the corner, and there are two PUGS sitting there staring at me.  Just the day before I had written a note to my mom mentioning how Mr. Monk was one of my best dogs ever, and how I was worrying that he was starting to show his age.

The pugs weren’t even up for adoption yet because they were waiting to see if their owners came to claim them.  A few days later, they were available, but now it was close to the time I was to leave for rug hooking camp.  I called my friend(?!?) and she said, “Oh, I’ll keep her while you’re gone.”  So I traipsed down to the shelter on Saturday morning, expecting a hoard of people who would want to adopt her.  There was one other couple there, and they decided that they wanted the male pug, which left just me to adopt the female pug!  I know.  As Shelley commented, “you crazy girl!”

So the postlude to vacation is that I picked Bess up from my friend’s on Friday afternoon on the way home from rug camp, came home and made the introductions to the Queen and Mr. Monk, and then Saturday morning picked Noah up, and introduced them.  It is almost eery how smoothly its gone.

I googled “introducing a new dog to the household” and the first reference said “it can be dangerous to bring a new dog into your house.”  I decided to skip that one and go with the Humane Society’s advice.  “Introduce in a neutral environment.”  Too late, we’re home.  “Have two people, each with one dog on a leash.”  Hmmm.  There’s only one of me.  So I decided to put a leash on new dog and Sophie, and took them out to the yard (semi-neutral territory) and then I remembered the Dog Whisperer’s advice to walk the two dogs together to establish a pack.  So we walked around and around the yard.  Then Sophie went back inside, and I did the same thing with new dog and Mr. Monk.  Then we tried all three off leash in the yard, and finally all three in the house off leash.  I watched really close for any ‘doggie domination’ behavior and told them to cut that out.  The other thing I do when I bring a new dog home is to make sure the older dogs get just a little more attention than the new dog.  That seems to keep everybody on an even keel.

Introductions with Noah were similar.  Introduced new dog on the opposite side of the fence at first.  And then Noah on leash and new dog off leash in the yard.  I didn’t figure Noah would be much of a problem.  And he wasn’t.

So the name.  I had a couple of names I kind of liked.  But none seemed exactly right.  Then Shelley mentioned that the Queen now had a footman and a lady in waiting.  so I googled ‘famous ladies in waiting,’ and got to this site.  When I read this description, I decided Bess was the perfect name.  “Bess of Hardwick.  Started her life relatively poor.  She married four times, became a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth I and was the seond most powerful Elizabethan woman, next to Queen Elizabeth.”  That sounds like the exact balance of power we want in this house, right?

So here she is, with me in my new glasses, which do not have the anti-reflective coating on them.  I had so much trouble with the last pair scratching and then getting a permanent film on that coating that I decided to go without.  Thus the reflection.  Oh well.  Back to Bess, she does stick her tongue out a lot.  She has an underbite, so I guess that’s why.  She’s supposed to be only 2 or 3 years old.  She had just recently had a litter too.  Can you imagine somebody NOT coming looking for such a little darling?  She’s very small for a pug.  Much taller, but probably about the same size as Sophie.

Here she is on the corner of the sofa she has claimed as her own.

The Queen doing her best to look noble at the opposite end of the sofa (the one closest to me of course.)

And Mr. Monk keeping an eagle eye on things.

So that’s the big news around here!  I hope this is not a honeymoon period, because its very peaceful.  Maybe a little noisier, with one more snoring dog, but that’s okay by me.