A Bit of This ‘n That

Last night I spied the Apricot Scrub on my sink, and decided that today would be a day that I could do whatever I wanted to do. Apparently I wanted to blog, because I have written on each of my blogs this morning! A new recipe, and some newly finished quilts, and just a few new thoughts for this blog. Eventually I’ll get to that Apricot Scrub.

Yesterday was a crazy day. I had an electrician come and put in a new little wall heater. Yahoo! I have to be careful to not over-use it, because its not the most efficient way to heat the house. But on a cold morning, its a nice luxury. And, the guys came to take down some of the big trees on my property. Its quite amazing how they do this. One guy way up in the tree, lopping off one branch at a time. and then cutting it off portion by portion. The biggest pine tree was only about 12 feet from my house, and was leaning at a 60 degree angle over the house! Anyway, as you can imagine, it was quite a scene with all the dogs in the morning. I had made an appointment to board Noah for the two days of ‘tree-ing’ and so I left to take him down, as well as go to PT, the gym, and run a few errands. I got home just in time to see them working on that big pine. I guess this is why I decided I needed a day off today. The guys finished up their tree work last night, so its an extra quiet morning. I will pick up Noah from his trip to camp later this afternoon.

New recipe:  I got the original idea for this recipe here. I changed it up quite a bit (surprise!) and have enjoyed these Cranberry Lemon Protein Bars as both breakfast and a dessert treat, so thought I would share with you.

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Pretty good stats on this bar: 15 grams of protein in 185 calories. A nice sized bar too.

Here is the extent of my Christmas decorating so far:

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I brought in my big Christmas quilt, and covered the dog’s sofa with it. They seem to appreciate my effort.

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This camellia always blooms in December. It usually goes unnoticed by me. I need to move it to a better location. It always reminds me of the quote “Memory is the ability to gather roses in winter.”

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That’s all for now. I’m off to use that Apricot Scrub–its for my face, not the sink!

A Different Kind of Day

Today was a different kind of day.  I started my day same as normal.  And then I just didn’t feel like doing anything.  So I gave myself permission to do just that.  Maybe it was this poster I saw this morning.

I dunno.  Maybe I overdid yesterday.  Whatever it was, I stayed in my pajamas all day and was pretty content doing nothing.

Sophie got a little bored.

 

 

 

 

Noah was a good boy.

 

 

Sophie thought the picture needed some improvement.

Some of the recent eats:

I told you guys about this idea for fruit dip/spread a while ago.  This was the first time I made it.  Fixed dinner for my spiritual formation group last night–healthy taco salad (yumm) and strawberries with this dip.  It met with unanimous approval.    People were scraping their plates to get the last of it!   I had some leftover, so topped a white peach with a couple of tablespoons.  Divine!  Recipe for Creamy Fruit Dip.

Tried out that new recipe I mentioned the other day.  This was absolutely divine.  Maybe its been too long since I had the real thing.  But honestly, it tasted like coconut custard pie to me.  I made it this morning, and saved it for dessert tonight.  The rest is safely in the freezer.  Thanks again to the culinary genius of Georgie.  The thing about something like this is that yes, it tastes luxurious like dessert.  But the ingredients are healthy and are fueling your body while you indulge.  Its a win-win situation.

Dinner tonight was scrumptious.  I’m still trying to choose stuff that I don’t have to spend too much time chopping (what was I thinking of, buying a butternut squash,) and I’m still using paper plates (washing dishes is NOT fun) but I’m back to cooking obviously.  Leftover roasted beets, roasted green beans, and a piece of perfectly cooked salmon–yay me.  Too many times I get distracted and overcook it.

Been watching a marathon of Biggest Loser episodes today.  I feel a little guilty admitting to watching it, because I essentially disagree with most of what they do there.  But I pick up a few tidbits.  And today was particularly cathartic.   There was a father/daughter team on there that was particularly close, and I cried really hard a couple of times with their interactions.  And then that same father lost his brother DURING his time at the ranch and he was grieving, and I cried hard again during that episode.  I don’t cry much at all about losing my dad, so I guess I think its good that this happens once in a while.

And now I’m tired from doing nothing all day, so I think I’ll take a shower and head to bed. You all have a great weekend!

Sunday Musings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caption, Shelley?

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

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

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

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

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

A New Day

Yessiree!  It was a new day at the gym for debby!  My first class.  And it was a doozy! That TRX stuff is not fooling around.  They use those ropes and pulleys to do some serious body-weight weight lifting.  Some pilates type stuff, a few yoga stretches at the end.  I REALLY liked it.  And for those of you who keep track of how much I [don't] sweat, yep, I was sweating.  I felt like my face must be bright red.  Fortunately, I looked pretty normal in the mirror.  It was a beginning TRX class, and there were only two other older women and the instructor in the room when I got there.  The instructor was an older woman who looked like a really normal person–yay!  I could see when we started working out that she had some serious muscles.  We were joined by one young man.  So it was a nice small class–a nice size for a good learning experience.  The instructor looked vaguely familiar, but I just thought I’d probably seen her around the gym.  At the end I asked if she knew my neighbor (who had recommended the class) and she said–YOU’RE THE ONE WITH THE DOG!  I was a little surprised,  and I looked down at the dog hair on my black workout pants (yes, even though I used the sticky roller just before I left the house, I still arrived at the gym with a little Noah on me.)  Then she said, “I know you from dog training.”  Of course! that’s why she looked familiar.  Isn’t it funny how when you see someone in a different setting you can’t quite place them?

Anyway, I plan to make this a weekly event, and after I get a little better, I will take some of the other TRX classes.  The thing about working out with someone else is that you are challenged (either by the group dynamic, or by your own competitive impulse) to do a little more, to go a little further.

Jumping in the pool after this workout was a real treat.  I only swam for about 25 minutes.  Could have gone longer, but I really needed to get on with the day.

Getting on with the day involved:  taking the car to the mechanic’s.  When I went out to go to the gym this morning, the car was COMPLETELY dead.  I thought for sure I was going to miss the class, and I was so disappointed.  Then I thought of calling my neighbor.  He works, but I thought it was worth a shot.  I tell you, these neighbors have their picture in the dictionary next to the definition of ‘neighbor.’  He came over on his three wheeler, and brought a new battery to give me a jump, because his truck was in the shop, and the three wheeler didn’t have enough juice to jump my SUV.  (His wife is my long-time ‘babysitter.’)

So, as I feared, it was not the battery.  It was the alternator.  And, OF COURSE.  It is in a difficult place to get to or work on, so the repair will cost extra.  But hey.  I have my new retirement budget, and as long as nothing goes wrong next month, this will still be within budget.

Of course that extended time at the mechanic’s was not in my MEAL PLAN.  Ack.  I was hungry.  Held out until I got home, and tried not to inhale the bowl of cherries, yogurt, and granola I threw together.  I am loving this new granola–I have really gotten to be a processed food snob, and I could alway taste the processing stuff in the store-bought granola.  Thanks again Shelley.

I got some fresh basil at the gym (Vicky was selling it.)  Plan to make some tomato/fresh mozarella/basil topped with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I’ll add something or other to that for dinner.  That’s one good thing about eating so late.  No need for a mid-afternoon snack.

170 calories of YUMM!

We had a wee bit of a cool-down here, so I took advantage of that to get a little gardening done earlier this morning.  One of my Japanese maples desperately needed to be re-potted.  No, July is not usually the month that they recommend for doing that type of thing.  I’ve had good luck in the past though, and re-potting is preferable to going all summer with your roots drying out because you are in too small of a a pot.  I also had a really pretty little hydrangea, and a few asters I had bought.

The little hydrangea--isn't it lovely? I got it at Trader Joe's!

My most favorite groundcover--Corsican Mint. The most lovely smell. Every year I try to grow a pot of it.

Oh!  I had forgotten how lovely it is to garden.  Moving that soil around in my hands (I buy the big bags of Miracle Gro soil when they are on sale at Costco each spring,) and fixing the little plants in place, watering them to give them a good start.  Its such a hopeful process.  Before I was even done, Noah reminded me why I haven’t gardened for a couple of years.  He just picked up that little hydrangea that I had just repotted, and was starting to move it someplace else!!!  I guess he has a pretty soft mouth, because the poor little thing wasn’t damaged.  I found an old tomato guard that fit perfectly over it, at least until it has a chance to put down a few roots.  And then, before I could turn around, there he was with a blue aster in his mouth!  Sophie (who loves all things pink) was eyeing the pink aster!!!  I found a little wire fence to put around the asters.  I am not into building barriers while I am gardening, so that will be the end of my gardening efforts for a while.  I think Noah will get used to new things appearing, and eventually I will be able to garden again.

All worn out from his morning of "landscaping."

So that’s the events for the day.  Only got a little quilt planning done this morning before I had to leave.  Sometimes the planning is more fun than the doing, though.  Gonna work on it a little more, and then tackle the two clean-up projects I assigned this morning.

P.S.  Just went out to check on the plants, and almost all of the asters were be-headed!!  LOOK at who got caught in the act–

The Amazing Flax Seed. And Other Good Stuff.

That amazing flax seed

I can’t stop eating Spackle 2.0.  Its like eating Better-than-Cookie-Dough for breakfast every morning.  In fact, I should re-name it that.  Doesn’t it sound more appetizing?  Its fun to eat, but the real reason I like it is that it keeps me full and not thinking about food for up to six hours.  Very few 300 calorie foods have that effect on me.  Lori noticed the same thing with her one-minute muffin.  (I’ve got to try that again if I can ever stop eating the spackle long enough.)

Besides the filling effect, flax seed meal is touted to have a myriad of health benefits.  Here’s a really good article I found on it.  Be sure to scroll to the end of the article.  There is a fantastic sounding muffin recipe that I am going to try later this week.

But the best part about flax seed meal, aside from its filling benefits and its health benefits, is that it tastes great!  That was really the first thing I noticed about it.  It has a nutty flavor that I really like.  I’ve had it on top of cottage cheese and fruit, used it in an apple dessert, of course my muffin recipe has the whole seeds in it, added it to my scone recipe and really improved the end product, enjoyed it in Miz’s smoothie recipe, and of course there is the spackle.

One thing I have been thinking about (when my thoughts drift to obsession) is that a good thing can be carried too far.  I think it could be possible to eat so much flaxseed that you develop a sensitivity to it, like how so many Americans seemingly have a sensitivity to wheat.  Everything in moderation, people!  But if you haven’t, please give flax seed meal a try.  Its scrumptious!

Lynn

Okay, I haven’t even listened to it (saving it for my lunchtime listening) but just wanted to shout out about Lynn being on the newest Two Fit Chicks podcast, talking about my favorite subject (besides food):  weight maintenance!!  I’m so excited!!  Lynn is one of my all time most favorite bloggers in the whole world.    Lynn’s the reason I discovered blogs in the first place.  And many thanks to Miz and Dietgirl for their hard work on these podcasts.  I look forward to each and every one.

The Queen’s response

Did anyone notice in the last post–the last comment was from my good friend Juice, who pointed out the study that had found that Dachshunds were the most aggressive breed of all?  The Queen heard this and demanded an audience to defend her heritage.

To the uninformed masses:  I feel the need to defend my heritage.  My ancestors were bred to hunt down one of the most fearless and aggressive animals around–the badger.  In fact, Dachshund means ‘badger dog.’  Although our legs are short (so we can get down into their underground tunnels,) you might notice the extra large chest size –that’s not just a vanity feature–my people have HEART.  We are not just aggressive without reason.  (ed. note:  unfortunately, dachshunds seem to have trouble distinguishing small people from varmints.)

My guardian

This morning Noah and I set out on our walk.  As usual, I told myself, you only have to take a short walk.  After we had walked up one hill I was feeling more energetic so we headed on up the next hill, where there is a nice flat surface at the top.  As we headed up, Noah had that extra alert look that he sometimes gets when there is a dog or a deer ahead of us.  Only I noticed it was a quieter look than when there is a dog ahead.  And then, my guardian dog sat down!  Alrighty then, we won’t go up that hill.  I am so proud of how Noah has grown up.  Here he is at Canine Good Citizen Training class.  Red flag or no, he was the star of the class.  The trainer even used him for a demonstration!

I asked someone to take this picture for a couple of reasons–to have a picture of me and Noah together, and because Noah was freshly bathed, and also to have a ‘truthful’ picture of myself at this current weight.  There is a weird shadow on my face that I don’t like, but other than that it is a good truthful picture.  I wish I weighed less, and I am working on it.  But on the other hand, I still feel comfortable wearing a white tank top.  I think working out so hard gives me more confidence and makes me more comfortable with my body the way it is.  For me, that’s a good thing.

Breaking Story!!

Stop the presses!!!  Oh MY Gosh, you guys!  I was just sitting here thinking about what I wanted to blog about tonight, and thinking I should let the dogs in before I start (they were out for the last potty break of the night) and I heard some faint doggie screaming.  Oh please, no, let it be some other dog!  But it wasn’t.  Sometimes Sophie and Mr. Monk sneak under the back gate/fence, and I was scared to death some wild animal had caught one of them.  I grabbed my very weak flashlight and ran outside in my pajamas and wet hair.  They were both outside the gate, but something was very wrong.  Sophie appeared to be caught in the wire.  So I open the gate, trying to guard the opening with my body so Noah wouldn’t escape, shining the flashlight around, with my stupid hair in my eyes and my stupid glasses trying to fall off every time I bent over to try to see what was wrong.  It looked like a couple strands of the wire were poked right through her skin!  OH MY GOSH.  I kept trying to see which way the wires were going and how to get them undone without tearing a giant hole in her skin.  In the meantime, I carefully moved her forward so I could latch the gate and at least didn’t have to worry about Noah.  I kind of knew what I needed to do, but was a little afraid to do it.  This is definitely the kind of thing where having two people living in the house would have been an advantage.

So I yelled STAY at her about 50 times (she kind of sort of knows what it means…)  I was really afraid she would panic and tear a giant hole in herself.  But it worked.  And  I ran around to the porch to get some wire cutters.  Of course all I could find real quick were some pruning shears.  Went back, told her to HOLD STILL 50 times, and CUT THE WIRE three ways so I could bring her into the house to finish the operation.  (I considered delaying the operation so I could take a picture of the wire stuck in her, but decided that that was a little gross.)  After a little twisting and turning, here is the offending piece of wire:

And here is the Queen, recuperating in her location of choice, on top of her blanket on top of the big bed.  Guess who’s gonna get to sleep in the big bed tonight?  As horrendous as I thought it looked at first, she only had a little wound.  Neosporin applied, and I think everything will be better in the morning.  I was very proud of how good she was.  A lot of dogs really panic when something is hurting them.  She stayed pretty darn calm, all things considered.

Well, other than that bit of unnecessary excitement, today has been a terrific day.  Took a long walk with Noah, about 5 to 5 1/2 miles.  We’re ‘in training’ (LOL) for Lori’s Healthy Heart Challenge on Saturday.  I set a goal of walking 6 miles, which is longer than we have walked in a LONG time.  Actually, Noah has never walked that far.  I’m looking forward to it.  Has anybody else noticed that when you are doing more of one type of exercise, you do less of the other?  It seems like I take shorter walks when I am weight lifting more, and when I increase my walks, I don’t get to the gym quite as often.  I’m not really too worried about it, although it keeps me from advancing in my weights as much as I would like to.

Food today was terrific.  Didn’t take too many pictures though.  I started out with a version of that Fabulous Quinoa Breakfast.  Used mostly quinoa, with just a bit of steel cut oats.  And I used a pear instead of an apple, and ginger instead of the allspice.  Quite yummy.  And a nutrient dense breakfast like this will keep me full until lunchtime.  Even with that long walk thrown in.

So I was ready to eat when I got home!  Made a great salad–barbeque chicken salad–thank you, Lori!  I cut up onions and mix them in the BBQ sauce with the chicken.  This was really quite wonderful.

And an Asian pear, and of course, Diet Coke!

Had a late afternoon snack of two lo-bars and a cup of good coffee (Starbucks’ Casi Cielo  is really delicious.)  And then for dinner, I made brocolli beef–thank you, Helen!  I had bookmarked your recipe months ago, and I used it to figure out what seasonings to put into it.  Quite yummy.  Although not that photogenic…

And now, dear friends, I will move away from the computer, and watch a movie while I make a few stitches.

 

Quilt Show!

Finally, a little picture show from the Pacific International Quilt Show that I attended a few weeks ago.  Like I said, I took 200 pictures of the quilts.  Don’t worry, I won’t show them all.  I usually go through the show, and take a full shot of each quilt that I like, and then one or two close-ups to show the details of stitching or piecing or quilting.  Here are a few of the pictorial quilts that I really liked.  (p.s.  you know you can click on the photos a couple of times to see them larger, right?)

The theme of the quilt show was “Escape,” and this was her interpretation of that–how she escapes through working on her art–the background is all that she imagines while she is sketching.  I want to live in her dream!

Details:

This next one I love!  Oh heck, I love all of these quilts.  I am not a giant fan of the sea, but I do love the rocky structures along the shore.  This was not a ‘real’ place, but a place she pictured in her mind.

Detail:

This next quilt was one I saw several years ago, by a well-known quilt artist from Australia, Gloria Loughman.  I love her work, her imagination, her use of color, and the detail she adds with stitching.

Ooh, I LOVE this next quilt!  I don’t think I even saw it until the last day I was there.  I love old barns anyway, but the way this artist captured details of broken windows and old barn siding is really special.

Detail:

More quilt show tomorrow.  Now for the important stuff–more about me LOL.  Here’s a shot of one of my favorite breakfast or snack meals.  Plain old yogurt and plain old muesli.  Yummy, nutritious, and satisfying.  That’s Bob’s Red Mill Muesli, but you can make your own.  My mom likes mine better than Bob’s.  I like Bob’s better because it is chewier.   Just start with oatmeal (or you could use a mixed grain cereal, and add some of your favorite stuff–nuts of all sorts, sunflower seeds, raisins or craisins, dried fruit, etc.  I really like the date bits in it.  I have found these occasionally at grocery stores or specialty shops–bits of dates rolled in ground oats so they don’t stick to anything.

I got an urge to make broccoli beef (had some already cooked steak in the freezer) so I googled ‘broccoli beef, healthy recipe’ and came up with this one. I didn’t have hoisin sauce, so I googled ‘hoisin sauce substitute’ and found this.  Man, you can find  anything out there!   I pretty much followed the recipe as is, only I added carrots.  As much as I like carrots, I can see why broccoli beef is a classic, and broccoli-carrot beef is NOT.   Very tasty, not something I would have every day.

This morning Sophie was in her element.  On my lap, that is.

She is cute, isn't she?

Its nice to be adored by the Queen...