The Post-Tday Report

So how did everyone do?  I did so much better than I thought I would!  I just took a little of this and that.  It really helped that I had already planned my ‘leftovers’ of my favorite foods.  I didn’t feel like I had to eat as much as I could because there wasn’t going to be another chance.

BTW, can I just say that I CANNOT BELIEVE that I have been blogging about the same stuff for this long!  I was looking for an old recipe and found some of my video blogs from three years ago (which, BTW, I’m very sorry that I rambled on for so long in them.)  Anyway, in some way it was comforting to see that I had not changed that much.  And in another way, it was very distressing to see that I had not changed that much…

Back to the topic at hand.  I had a wonderful time with my family. I was very thankful for that. I am thankful for a lot of things this year. I was going to write a post about being thankful on Thanksgiving, but the time slipped away from me.  One of the things I am thankful for is the beautiful fall weather we have had.  It has been just cold enough, and there has been just enough rain.  The color on the trees has not been as dramatic as in past years, but on the other hand, it has been a long slow change, and every day there is something new to see.  I really try to pay attention as I drive around.

I am also very thankful that I am still able to move and exercise. I am enjoying my renewed love of exercise. I went to the physical therapist, and he gave me some beginning exercises. He even made the statement that he thought we could get me back to jogging!  WHAT??  That was not even on my radar screen. What a kick that would be!

I am very traditionally NOT a black Friday shopper.  But I slummed around online, and saw that Lowe’s had a good deal on a stove. Have I told you that my oven has not had a thermostat for quite a while? It was amazing that I was able to bake anything by just guessing that the temp might be around 350 or so.

So I headed down the hill. First thing I saw was one of those infrared heaters that I’ve been stalking for a while. It was on their black Friday sale too, and  was quite a bit cheaper than any I’d seen, so that went into my cart. I went over to check out the stoves. They had the sale stove in stock, but not on the floor. I was really planning to go to the local appliance store to see if they would match the price of Lowe’s.  I had been told that their service was so much better than Lowe’s.  So off I went to the appliance store.  I told the guy what I was looking for, and sure enough, he matched their price on what he said was a superior product. Its just your basic stove, but its new to me! Very exciting!

So do you know how small my kitchen really is?  A stove is 30″X25″. The opening to my kitchen is 26″. The poor delivery guy. I said, I’m pretty strong. Could we lift it over the refrigerator? LOL. I think that offer was what made him get creative. He took the handle off the fridge and got it in there.

So here are a couple of post-holiday recipes for you.

I was watching The Food Network during my bicycle session at the gym, and I saw a pumpkin bread pudding.  That really ignited my imagination, and I started dreaming about how I could create a ‘healthy pumpkin bread pudding.‘ I think I was very successful on my first attempt! Basically using the ingredients for pumpkin custard and my healthified french toast (that I make with whole grain English muffins) I came up with this recipe.  It is good enough that I have eaten all four servings.  I’ve had it for dessert, a snack, and breakfast. Now that’s what you call an all-purpose food! At 140 calories, its a darn good deal.

Then the recipe I was searching for was my “Thanksgiving salad.” Originally I added some avocado, but I did not have that tonight. Basically you could add anything you want to this salad.  Bare bones, it is like a deconstructed turkey sandwich:  lettuce, laughing cow light cheese, cranberry sauce, and turkey.

This salad came in at under 200 calories, with 2 ounces of turkey breast and 1/4 cup of the cranberry sauce I made. I love this flavor combo.

So the cranberry sauce! I had planned to just buy some at the store.  But the stores were all out the day after Thanksgiving. So I found a lone package of cranberries in the produce department and then set about finding a recipe I wanted to try. Cranberries are darn tart on their own. I know that’s why most of the recipes have so much sugar in them. I didn’t want to try to make the orange juice recipe, because the author herself says it is tart. Plus, I didn’t want that much orange flavor in my cranberry sauce. I looked and looked for a lower sugar recipe. And then I thought APPLES! Apples are naturally sweet. So I googled apple cranberry sauce, and found this recipe. Of course I had to change it just a little bit because I didn’t have all of the ingredients ( just sub’d fresh orange juice for the apple juice.) And to be honest, it was STILL quite tart. And then my brilliant BF said, why don’t you just add a little Splenda to it? Bingo! For me this was perfection. At 35 calories for 1/4 cup, quite the bargain! It is very fun to see the cranberries turn into sauce–kinda magical.

I do believe this is the end of this long and rambly post. I hope all of you had a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving celebration! Oh! I will leave you with a candid shot of Noah pretending that he is not on the sofa.

There’s No Place Like Home

Its not just Dorothy who thinks that!  Even before I got to the airport on my way out of town, I was thinking about how much I love my peaceful evenings at home with the doggies.  We have gotten into quite a lovely routine these days.  Usually about 5 pm the natives get restless (interpretation:  Sophie starts reminding me it is dinnertime.)  So I take all of them for a nice walk, then come home and usually read Lori’s blog (cause you shouldn’t exercise and eat immediately afterward?) and then feed them, and then feed me.  Okay, that part is not peaceful.  But here’s the good part.  After we all have eaten and ‘gone poddy,’ we come back in and get in our places.  Noah stretches out on the floor and just zones out.  I get in my  chair with my current project, and Monk and Sophie watch anxiously for the signal to get in my lap.  They settle in, and THAT’S IT.  We’re set for the night!  When its time for bed, Noah goes outside, and I carry the two little ones to their crates and they never make a peep (compared to other times they are in their crates and feel they must constantly remind me that they NEED TO GET OUT.)  I love this time, and to me it has equal value to any extravagant trip I could take. I just need to remind myself of that occasionally.

Its pretty peaceful most mornings too!

Sophie, in the bed under the desk, as close as she can possibly get to me without being in my lap:

Mr. Monk in ‘his’ chair:

And the new and improved Noah, the sleeping version!

One last bit from the trip:  Its all about the color!!

When I say I got “new threads,”  I mean it literally!!

And just “a little bit” of fabric…

I started this collection of more muted, small print fabrics in response to my love for the beautiful detailed Japanese quilts.  There were 65 quilts from Japan at the Paducah show!

Ooh, and I almost forgot that I had gotten this!!  This is fiber for spinning my own yarn–a gift from my spinning/knitting friend that I met in Nashville!  Aren’t these colors glorious?

When I got home, everything had really leafed and budded out and looked so green and pretty.  Spring came pretty late this year.

This Japanese maple has the prettiest pink leaves when it comes out in the spring.

I really like this one–lime green moon-shaped leaves.  A little different than most Japanese maples that you see.

My lilac put on quite a show this year, now that it has gotten so tall that it can get some sun!

Its an English lilac.  I love the heaviness of the buds, and the delicate color and smell.

Finally.  Back to my own food.  I had some good food on this trip.  Overindulged a bit.  Looking back, nothing stood out as absolutely outstanding.  And by the end of the trip, both me and my Australian room mate were seeking vegetables!!

Before I got home, I thought about what I wanted to do to get the vacation weight off (its mostly already gone, so I guess it was just water or travel weight,) and I decided I would really make an effort to eat more vegetables and protein, and limit grains to one serving a day.  I went to the grocery store and stocked up on vegetables, as well as getting supplies to make my yogurt (which I strained to make “greek style.”  It is a lovely batch of yogurt.)  I’ve stuck very well to that plan this week.  It sure wasn’t hard to eat more vegetables. It was a privelege!

Last night I had a new idea for dessert.  This was so fantastic!  I only like the ‘tart’ frozen yogurt at the froyo shops.  This was 3 of my frozen banana cubes, and 3 Tbsp of my yogurt  swirled together in the mini food processor.  Absolutely perfect.  No sweetener needed at all.  Topped with just a few chopped pecans and some mini chocolate chips.

And finally, the BIG REVEAL!!  This is the muffin recipe that Sharon and I worked on together.  Sharon wanted to make chia muffins that were low fat, high fiber, and high protein.  So we googled a recipe, and then started futzing around, adding stuff to increase the protein content without adding too much fat or carbs.  The muffins we made were very good, kind of like a cornbread texture(?) and were very filling.  I knew I wanted to come home and fool around a bit more, adding a little fat for flavor, and just a bit of sweetener.  Sharon and I have shared a few ideas by mail, and then I asked Vicky if she thought 1/4 cup of coconut oil was okay for 12 muffins.  I meant, for the taste and texture.  Vicky did a little math in her head and said, no, 1 tsp of oil is not too much for you to have in one day.  Okay…  

Anyway, I made these this morning, and oh, my.  They were maybe TOO good, if you know what I mean.  I made some of them with blueberries, others with raspberries, and a few with dried cherries.  They are all safely ensconced in the freezer.  The stats run from 145-210 calories, depending on whether or not you add the coconut oil, and whether or not you use fresh or dried fruit.  They have a good percentage of chia seeds and flaxseed meal, and all of them have 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per muffin.  My only complaint about them is that there is a lot of ingredients and they took a bit of time to make.  I didn’t notice that when Sharon and I were working together on them!  But after a little less than an hour, I had 15 muffins to put in the freezer.  I’ll get that recipe written up soon and add a link to it!

The end.  Even though there is no place like home, I am leaving in a few hours for a women’s retreat.  It is a speaker I love very much, and it is at Lake Tahoe–I couldn’t resist the opportunity.  I’ll be back home in 48 hours!!

Where Do I Start?

To borrow the language from some of my favorite cooking shows, this vacation had a lot of different components to it, which added to the complexity and the “flavor” of the experience!

Who flies across the country to spend three days with a person they’ve never met?  Only a blogger, I think!  Of course, I ‘knew’ Sharon from reading her blog for the past two years, and I felt that we would get along well, and I was right!  Sharon was such a gracious hostess.  She has written all about our time together, so I will not elaborate here, except to say THANK YOU once again to Sharon for her time and generosity.  Sharon and I developed a really fabulous muffin recipe that I will share in a separate blog.

Here’s a picturama of our hike in the Smokey Mountains!

Everything is so green in Tennessee–I love it!  Kind of a young green, if you know what I mean.

We saw this deer in the middle of the stream, which seemed so unusual.  Later, when she moved, we could see that she looked pregnant?  Hormones, maybe?

These little log bridges were a bit scary!

I have a bit of an obsession with stumps.  Isn’t this beautiful, though?

And we made it to the waterfall!!

I loved that you could get right up next to the waterfall!

And photographic proof that we were there!  You know, I think these national parks underestimate their mileage by quite a bit.  It sure seemed a lot longer than 5 miles round trip to me!  But worth every single step.

Next, Sharon and I drove to Nashville to spend the day with Cammy.  What fun!  (and why is everyone TALLER and THINNER in person than I thought they were?)  Hey, nobody says to me “You’re taller and thinner than I thought you were LOL.”  I guess nobody imagined that I was 4′ 8″ and 110 pounds?  Anyway, we had another great day, and Cammy wrote all about it here, so I won’t try to improve on her report.

We went to the Opryland Hotel, which was a mammoth place, and included INDOOR waterfalls!

And gorgeous flower plantings.

It would have been just plain weird if Cammy and I had met and frozen yogurt was NOT included.  This was CiCi’s, and it was really delicious.  And much more decorated than most of the froyo places I’ve been!

I had a day to recuperate from all the festivities, and then an old friend from my spinning and knitting days drove up to meet me in Nashville.  The last time we saw each other was in 2003, when we had the great experience of co-teaching (actually I was assisting her) at a national spinner’s conference.  It was like no time had passed at all, and we had so much fun talking dogs and knitting and life.  We went to a gorgeous yarn shop, and I spent too much money, and then we went to a big mall and sat in the courtyard and knitted and talked some more.  What a great day.

And then the quilt show tour began.

If you can stand it, come back for more tomorrow!  I know I included a ton of photos, but I came home with 400 pictures on my camera, so consider yourselves lucky LOL.

Just a Bit of This and That…and Some Color!

Happy Saturday all!  Hope you are having a fun and relaxing weekend.  We are having a VERY quiet day around here so far.  The troops are behaving themselves.  As soon as I get this written, I plan to take Noah out for a walk (just letting lunch digest!)

The other day I parked in my normal spot at the gym and when I came out I noticed that I was parked under the most glorious tree.  As it was a parking lot I couldn’t get a good picture of the entire tree, so I settled on taking some close-ups of the beautiful leaves.

 

 

Remember when I said I was the high bidder on some colored pencils on ebay?  Yep!  I won that auction.  I was pretty surprised.  I didn’t get them for free, but I did save about $40 off of the cheapest retail price I could find.  120 colors, and they come in a beautiful wooden box.  I am very happy with them!

Yesterday morning I opened the door to let the doggies out and this greeted me.  This is my oldest dwarf Japanese maple.  Its been with me as long as I’ve lived here–25 years!

Today I got in the mood to experiment.  This was wonderfully tasty.  Let’s see, shall we call it Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole with a Lemon Yogurt Sauce?    250 calories for that bowl.

And while cleaning out the bottom of my book bag, I found a card that I got on my trip to Washington.  I thought I had left it on the plane, and was very upset, because I just loved the message!  I get cards like this and then frame them so I can look at them for a while.  This one kind of goes along with the discussion I was having with Jill the other day.  I am really trying to take a stand against comparing myself with others.  I don’t want to live like them, and it is just very tiring to be anxious about not living up to a standard that I don’t even want to live up to!

This poster that I ‘pinned’ the other day goes along with that same message to myself.

And just so ya know.  I still have up and down days with my food.  Like Thursday, the day I got my stitches out.  I had to wait over an hour to see the doctor (again) and I got anxious and wandered into the cafeteria.  It was almost funny.  I carefully examined the nutritional stats on all the baggies of candy and nuts that they had, and chose the one with the lowest calories per serving, and figured out that if worse came to worse, and I ate the whole bag, it would only be 600 calories.  So I didn’t eat the whole bag, but that day was definitely a day of overeating.  And then I’ll have a day like yesterday, where I plan each meal, eat exactly what I planned, and go to bed, satisfied, but not stuffed.

Home Again, Home Again

Oh its good to be home again.  Except for the unpacking, the washing, the doggie smell to deal with, the dust.  Oh my, the dust.  Yes it is very dusty here in sunny California.  No misty mornings to keep everything looking nice and clean.

Well, you know I want to talk about the food.  I rented a little cottage for the five days I would be on Whidbey Island, so I could cook a bit and fix my own  breakfasts and lunches.  Plus, I love being able to spread out, even if it is only me.  I know I’ve talked about this before, but if you are interested, just google ‘vacation rentals.’   Many times the vacation rental is very closely priced to a hotel room.  I stayed at Cozy Harbor Cottage, and it was just as advertised. (Ha!  I googled cozy harbor cottage, and came up with a little place on the coast of Maine.  That just might be my next destination!)

Here’s the sign they had on the living room wall.  It proved to be an accurate prediction.

But let me backtrack just a wee bit.  I am pretty organized when I travel now, and there are two things I do consistently.  I try to take some of ‘my’ food with me.  And I google maps and directions for everywhere I am going to go.  Since I was flying this time, there was a limit to the food I could take.  But I decided I could take most of the fixin’s for my Spackle 2.0.  That stuff is a nice treat, and it definitely holds me from breakfast to lunch, which I figured might be important while I had my art quilting lessons each day.  So I packed a container of the oat bran/flaxseed meal combo, whipped up some walnut butter (figured it could be unrefrigerated for 24 hours,) and packed some walnuts and chocolate chips.  I also took a few ‘energy bars,’ which I don’t routinely use any more, but they are pretty good for traveling, and maybe a little better than a candy bar.  So using all my mapquests and directions, I found my way from the Seattle Airport to Whidbey Island, and I even took a side trip to a quilt shop (imagine that!)  The only wrong direction I took landed me right at the grocery store that Marianne had recommended, so I stocked up on food before I even got to the cottage!  Fruits and veggies, cottage cheese and yogurt, some honey and granola, and a couple of steaks as a treat for dinners.

I met Marianne for coffee shortly after arriving.  We had been corresponding by email for almost a year, and had only spoken on the phone once, but it was almost like meeting an old friend, similar to how it is when bloggers meet up.  [For those of you who have not been following along, Marianne is a quilt artist whose work I noticed in a magazine, and after corresponding for a while, I asked her if she would be willing to give me some private lessons.  So that is what this trip was all about.]

Okay, don’t worry, I am not going to give you a blow by blow of every second of my trip.  I did want to include the stuff about food to show that it is possible to travel and eat real food.  (BTW, finally saw that Oprah episode with Michael Pollan, where he ends with his famous statement “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”)

I LOVED Whidbey Island.  It reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books, “Anne of Green Gables,”  which was about farm life on an island.

Here’s a scene along the shore early in the morning.  That dot of a bird was a very large heron, who was there every morning as I went by.

The town of Coupeville was very small, and quite charming.  Here’s a picture of some of the typical flowers in these Washington towns.  I thought Lori might like to see them.

Every day at lunch I took a walk.  Here’s just one of the scenes I saw.

Marianne had a beautiful perennial garden that was home to a LOT of beautiful birds, and also a mother deer with two fawns!  Isn’t this a lovely treatment–the way the tree is pruned makes a perfect frame of the bay beyond.

Another day I walked from Marianne’s house into a forest!

One day, after my lessons were over, I headed up to Deception Pass State Park, up at the top edge of Whidbey Island.  It was quite beautiful and wild.

 

I decided to take  a hike up to Gooseneck Point, which they SAID was only 1.2 miles.  Ha!  Of course, being a “Point” it was straight uphill the whole way to the top.  And when you don’t know where you’re going, did you ever notice it seems a lot farther?  halfway up they nicely provided this bench for us old folks.  Ha!  I didn’t need that.

Why, when you photograph a hill, does it never look as steep as it is in real life?

Here’s a little doodle I did at Marianne’s. The gold is a resist glue so you can paint on silk and the colors will remain separate.

 

 

 

 

And here are a few more views from my last lunchtime walk.

 

And with that, I left Whidbey Island for the next leg of my trip.  These ferries are quite common over there.  It sure is a different way of traveling–just drive your car onto the ferry.  I kept thinking I had to organize my stuff, but no, I could just leave it spread out in the car!

And a little teaser for those of you who might want to look at millions of garden/flower pictures–I went to Buchart Gardens, and I think I only took 300 pictures LOL.

Here is the little doodle after I painted it.  I have started stitching on it.  It will be a nice memento of my time with Marianne.  Marianne is a true artist, and was so generous in sharing her knowledge with me.  My brain is kind of overloaded with inspiration right now.  I’m sure it will all come out eventually.

Back home, I stopped last night for a few staples at Walmart.  I even made my first batch of homemade yogurt last night, and let it set all night–first time I have done that.  It came out great!  This morning, before picking up Noah, I went to the grocery store and got a BUNCH of great looking vegetables.  I’m back in business!

Wildflower Walk

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

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

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

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

This one had an unusual lemon-lime coloring.

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

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

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

Stealth-cam catches the Queen ACTING LIKE A DOG!

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

Flower Show

As promised, here is a garden tour of Cambria Pines Lodge.  There are gardens surrounding the main lodge, and you have to walk through the gardens to get to the lodge from your room.  The gardens are separated into ‘rooms’ and each of them has its own theme.  Every day I took a different route to enjoy all of the gardens.  And I just realized that I still missed at least one of them–the rose garden.  Baaah.

This is one of the main garden areas.  I think the gazebo is there so they can have weddings in this garden.

This is a partial shot of the all white garden.

Almost every garden had a water feature, so you always heard running water as you walked along.  I think this is a shade garden.  I just like all the different textures in this picture.  The boulder has water bubbling out of the top.

I walked in this garden and thought, I think it must be a butterfly garden.  And sure enough, when I left, that is what the gate said!

They had quite a few of these birdhouses covered with flowers and plants.  Very fun to look at.

Just some gorgeous close-ups of the flowers.

Can you believe how long some of these foxgloves are?

 

I really love some of these smaller groupings of flowers.  Does any body know what the large mass of pink flowers are?

 

And one more crazy birdhouse.

Thanks for all the nice encouraging comments on my project blog yesterday.  Sometimes I think its weird that I share stuff like that.  But I kind of like having it for a personal record too.

Changing the subject rapidly, has anyone seen the movie Super 8?  Or Midnight in Paris?  Or how about Everything Must Go?  My vacation is coming to an end, and I have a yen to go to the movies.  Because when I retire, I will be on a strict entertainment budget LOL.

Well today I think my food intake was okay.  If I am adding correctly.  It seems like I ate a little too much.  I went to my favorite Costless Market and only went to the produce department.  I got four bags of groceries for $15.00!   I think vegetarian is the way to go in retirement.  I was reading a Mother Earth News magazine about living on less, and they mentioned that as a way to save money.

I think I’ll end early and work on my project!  Habanada!