Just a bit of this and that

I stepped out the door this morning to check on the garden and was shocked to see this:

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Yes, one whole morning glory flower on that whole vine. As the days got shorter, I guess the vine did not get as much sun as it wanted, so its been weeks since I have seen a single flower on it.

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Is it any wonder they are named morning GLORY? The flowers absolutely look as if there is a light source shining out from their center.

Hey, look what I did! My first furniture painting experiment. It went pretty well, if I do say so myself! I’ve only thought about painting this chair for about five years. What can I say? I have a hard time making decisions :)

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The other day I was flipping back through my own blog, looking for something or other, and I realized that yes, quite a bit of progress has been made on the house. Here are pictures from this morning–the siding is up, and a lot of the painting is done. The roof is bare–they had to strip off THREE layers of old shingles! And already, by the end of today, J. the contractor had a good portion of the roof re-shingled!

The front of the house:

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And the back:

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And a gratuitious cute doggie shot:

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And that’s all the news that’s fit to print tonight. Hope you all have a good and relaxing weekend!

The Queen and her Beaux

Sophie wanted me to change the title to “The Queen and her Minions.”

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“No, I’m not cuddling with him. Sometimes you just have to consort with the commoners to lull them into complacency.”

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(Noah:) “Hmmmph. I think she just can’t resist my IMMENSE good looks.”

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“Oh Lord. What a monarch won’t put up with to keep peace in the kingdom.”

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…

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.

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!!

Step Away from the Crabby Old Lady!

Good morning, people!  Its your lucky day.  I don’t post for a week, and now you get to listen to me complain.  That’s okay if you don’t want to read.  Click away to some happy little elf’s blog (Lemony Snickets movie reference.  I LOVE that movie, BTW.)

So this is the deal.  My work (do you call it ex-work when you’re retired?) offers a ‘healthy living plan,’ and if you fill out the form online and maybe do what they tell you to, they give you $100.  Good deal, huh?  Well, apparently I am going to have to be tortured for my $100.

Last week I filled out the form accurately.  They knew how much I exercised, what types of food I ate, and my height and weight.  And I was treated to their assessment that I was overweight and had an unhealthy BMI.  (insert me screaming here.)  And the BMI recommended that I weigh 98-132 pounds.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.  I treated them to a tongue lashing, telling them that they did not have enough information to make that assessment.  They did not ask about ANY weight loss history.  They did not know that I was currently maintaining an 80 pound weight loss after having lost 100 pounds.  and that to recommend such a thing could likely cause a person to REGAIN weight if they were to try to reach such a low weight.  Their information was outdated and poorly informed.  Of course, this is all on computer, and I am sure my response went into some great internet void, never to be seen by human eyes that give a crap.

So today I get an email from them to start my ‘healthy living adventure.’  Okay.  The $100 carrot is still dangling in front of my nose.  So I go through the check list.  Yawn.  Really?  I should keep a food journal?  THANK YOU for that bit of advice.  Oh?  I can ‘eat more and weigh less?  Whoopee.  That sounds great!   But I keep playing along.  Let’s check the menu for day one.  Wow, at first glance it looks a little skimpy.  Only 3 meals and one 100 cal snack.  But wait!  There’s more.  The lunch menu sounds vaguely familiar–shrimp over avocado salsa (my shrimp ceviche.)  Oh, but they have you eat it with TWO slices of french bread.  And they have you eat dinner over TWO cups of couscous.  Breakfast was an egg white SANDWICH.  Evidently these people haven’t read “Wheat Belly.”

Ah well.  I know they are well meaning.  Stay tuned to see if I win my $100.  I think I’ll spend it all on TOO MUCH FOOD.

I’m just tired of this stuff right now.  I’m tired of counting calories in my brain (I swear, there are  neuropathways devoted specifically to this chore.  I can’t NOT count calories.)  I’m tired of food and body image being a constant buzz in the back of my mind.  Its irritating.  Its even unimportant.  “Life is a vapor.”

In other news.  Oh, I don’t have any other news.  How about some pretty pictures?

I’ve been quilting like crazy.  I LOVE the saying on this quilt.  I think you can click on the picture so you can see a bigger picture.  I’m not crazy about the composition of the quilt.  But that’s exactly what that verse is about.  So it seems perfect to me.  I’m still blogging about my quilting on my other blog.  I probably will blog later today over there, because I have a plan to go to the gym this morning  for a change.

The scene after I am done with my morning reading.  I noticed afterwards my kindle on one arm of the chair, and ‘real’ books on the other.  I still like real books, and I like writing in a paper journal.   The dogs are always happy when I am done sitting there.  Its too crowded when I try to sit in their chair.

Mmm.  My latest breakfast obsession.  I told you I really love that Abundance brand of oatmeal, only its not just oatmeal, its multi-grain.  I love that it is so easy (microwave) and still has texture and tastes delicious. I usually add a few walnuts and raisins or cranberries.  Then after last week’s post about eating more vegetables, I thought about how I could add veggies to breakfast.  So I just shredded some zucchini and put a little in the dish with the oatmeal and water.  It is just right in the 2 minutes it cooks in the microwave.  Adds a nice texture.  And that shredded zucchini keeps very well in the refrigerator.  I’ve been using it all week!

Thanks for listening.  I feel better now.  I’ll feel even better after spending an hour at the gym, lifting weights and riding the bike while watching the food network.  Oh, and then I’ll feel EVEN BETTER after a Starbuck’s coffee with my favorite Quest bar with 20 grams of protein.  I might feel better after my turkey burger that I have planned for lunch.  Or after I take Noah for a quick walk this afternoon.  Maybe I’ll write a blog post tonight from the Cheerful Old Lady!

Poor Me…

Wow, I got hit big time with a case of the ‘poor me’s’ this afternoon.  I wasn’t particularly hungry.  But I was wanting to have something more.  I was thinking about how carefully I track my food, how I don’t really eat that much (about 1400 cal,) and how, IF I lose weight, it CREEPS off of me, and then it stands in the shadows, just WAITING for a chance to POUNCE back onto me.  Okay, I wasn’t really thinking that stuff about the shadows, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?

Its been raining here all day, and at 4:30 it let up a bit, and I thought its now or never.  So the rainboots went on, and me and Noah headed out for a walk.  Its not that fun to walk in rain boots, but  I am ever so grateful to have them.  While we walked I was going over all this stuff, trying to think how I could change my thinking.  Cause like I said, I wasn’t really hungry, and I wasn’t really craving anything in particular.  Just feeling sorry for myself.  So I thought about what I had planned for dinner, and I decided I didn’t really want to eat that.  It would still be good for tomorrow.  And then I thought about what I did want.  And I remembered I still had some of that healthy chili in the freezer!  And that bag of new high fiber pasta from Trader Joe’s that I haven’t tried yet.  So I am allowing myself one extra grain for the day, and will have that for dinner.  In the meantime, I walked quite a bit longer than originally planned, and that also made me feel better about myself and my choices.

Okay, so now dinner is over, eating is done for the night.  I still came in around 1460 calories.  The ‘chili pasta’ was delicious, and was just what I needed(?)  I weighed out the pasta, and the chili was already frozen in single serve portions.  So no overboard on amounts.  Then I had a piece of dried pineapple (after I checked the calories online) and some walnuts for dessert.  And back to basics tomorrow.  This is just the way it is.  Maybe not fair.  Maybe tiring, boring, endless.  But that’s just the way it has to be for POW’s (previously over weight.)  I know from filling out the survey for the NWCR that this is common practice for weight loss maintainers (planning/calculating/tracking food/meals.)

Scenes from the past few days:

As you can see, I am not suffering!  This bowl actually looks better than it tasted.  Although it was pretty tasty.  It is my version of katie’s chocolate oatmeal.  I just increased the unsweetened vanilla almond breeze to 1 cup, and left out the banana.  I think I added in 1/4 cup of eggbeaters to make it custard oats.  Came in around 300 calories for this bowl.

This salad was yummy and easy to assemble.  White tuna on top of chopped romaine with some carrots, some crushed pineapple, and a few spiced cashews on top there.

I am right back in the swing of knitting.  I found this pattern in my stash, and decided to try it.  After sweating bullets over the first couple of rows (lots of counting with a pattern like this,) it all came back to me.

Of course to make a sweater, I have to keep going and make five big pieces.  And then sew them together.  And pray that it actually fits right.  Just reminding myself.

The Queen was in fine form this weekend.  Thought I would share what a day looks like for her.  (Its exhausting, if you ask me.)

Assuming her position of authority in front of Noah.  I truly do not know why she does this,  She doesn’t really seem to enjoy it.

She has to endure a little sniffing.

“Just pick me up and get it over with, will you?”

And then a little ear-flipping…

Until finally she’s had enough!  (actually, I think she was just starting to yawn here, but the expression on Noah’s face is priceless.)

Then I caught a sweet picture of Mr. Monk by the woodstove.

Oh, no.  That will not do at all.  “Here, I can improve that picture for you.”

“Yes, it is exhausting being queen.  But SOMEBODY’S got to keep order around here.”

The queen must always sleep with one eye open.  Especially if there’s a camera in the area…