Apple Stuff

Today was fun. Full of good feelings. Totally made up for yesterday’s disappointment and discouragement.

I set off in the morning for Lowe’s in Sacramento (we have a Lowe’s locally but they don’t have as much as the store in the Big City.) Lowes is my home away from home now. I feel very comfortable in Lowes, and in fact, I can find a lot of stuff in there that their own employees can’t find :) They should hire me.

Anyway, I had decided to change the tile for my shower (remember, I was being extra thrifty the day I shopped for bathroom tiles.) So I got those tiles and then headed up the hill to Apple Hill. I’ve been champing at the bit to go to Apple Hill. Its just a fun place to visit, its beautiful up there this time of year, and hello? Apple Pie!…

Got my fix of beautiful fall color!

Got my fix of beautiful fall color!

I had the idea to buy my favorite apple pies to give to some of the people who have really helped me a lot during this renovation. Also, I wanted to try an apple donut. Several of you talk about them, and I’ve never gotten one, if you can believe it. They look so plain… So that was my first stop. And you guys are right. SO yummy. It wasn’t really apple-y enough for me. I think I need to teach them how much apple you can actually add to a baked recipe.

Next stop was my favorite produce stand. They have apples plus.


What? Do you think that’s a lot of produce for one girl? It was such a bargain, I couldn’t resist! Those boxes  (tomatoes, little sweet potatoes, and Pink Lady apples) were only $1.99 each.

And then it was on to find my pies! I picked up the map of Apple Hill, and I noticed that the farm I wanted to get this pie from was not listed. Uh oh. So I drove a different way, and I stopped at one small farm to see what they had, and to ask if they knew if this other farm was still in business. Well, they didn’t know about the other farm, but THEY had the kind of pie I was looking for–Apple Blackberry Sourcream Pie. I tasted a sample, and that was it–just as good as the original. Got my pies and set off for home.

It was so fun to give a pie to Debbie, my “babysitter,” and to J. the contractor, and then to MLG, who very kindly came over at the end of a hard workday to help set the sink. I have another pie to give to Noah’s trainer, who volunteered to keep Noah an extra week (she actually said I was doing her a favor–he has a girlfriend there that he was keeping company.) SO FUN. You can tell that I still love good food, and sharing that good food with others is something I really enjoy.

BTW, the name of that pie might sound familiar, because I figured out how to make a lower calorie healthified version of it–my Apple Blackberry Sourcream Pie in a Bowl. Check it out. Its a really tasty treat.

And lastly, I have PJ to thank for this recipe. She changed up a recipe she had found on the internet, and I used her version and changed it up just a little bit. I had never made or eaten a baked apple in my life, if you can believe it. I made it before I went to Apple Hill, and honestly its as good as the apple pie I had today. Its Crockpot Baked Apples!


And that’s the way its going around here today. It looks like I might have a couple of real sinks by the end of tomorrow! I won’t know what to do with myself!

Good Food, Bad Food

Last week, I had both of these delicious bread-based dishes as meals. Depending on your  food point-of-view, either one might be labeled good food or bad food.

The first, my own very-low-calorie version of French toast, is made using a variety of processed foods, with only one completely natural “whole” food. It is so low in calories (150 calories) that I could have it every day of the week, if I so chose. If your goal is to eat very low calorie food which is also delicious and satisfying, this might be considered a good food. If your goal is to eat only whole unprocessed foods, or foods with the highest nutritional value for the calories consumed, this might be considered a bad food.

Here are the specific products I use to make this French toast:



And here is the finished product:


Yumm. I consider this a good food.

The second is a version of the classic toasted cheese sandwich. I don’t know who originally told me about this particular combo, but it used to be a staple in my summer meal rotation (before weight loss.) Then I avoided it for years, and probably the last time I had this sandwich was two years ago. But with a bumper crop of late summer tomatoes, I started thinking about this sandwich, and decided I wanted to make it again. It only has four ingredients: mozzarella cheese, garden fresh tomatoes, butter, and King’s Hawaiian bread. Three out of the four could be considered “natural” foods. People who want to eat delicious food and don’t care about calorie counting would consider this a good food. People who like to eat less processed food would also consider this a good food. People who are calorie counting might consider this a bad food. (Being conservative–cutting the bread thinner than usual, weighing out the cheese, and using only 2 tsp of butter–this sandwich still comes in at over 600 calories.)


I also consider this a good food.

The French toast is a good food I can eat frequently (although I don’t have it that often.) The toasted cheese sandwich is a good food that I can have once or twice a year. And that is enough.

I am still working on repairing my relationship with food–trying to not label food “good”or “bad” just based on its calorie count. I can choose to eat either meal, with the knowledge and understanding of the nutritional value of each, and how it will affect my day, knowing that my choices will have a direct effect on whether or not I will maintain my weight, or gain or lose weight.

A Blog From The Road!

Hey hey hey!! I just discovered that WordPress will now let me access them from my Kindle Fire. This trip has been a long time without “talking” to you all. And I have so much to share, so many thoughts, that I was thinking I’d have to write several posts when I finally get home. This will be fun to be able to blog from the road. Now, if I can only figure out how to get my pics from my camera to my kindle… Those of you on Facebook might have noticed that the only photos I posted were “shared” from my BF’s page.

Its been such a great trip, full of fun and friends and learning. And creating. And food, and even exercise. I’ve been a bad blogger and haven’t even taken my camera out of the car. I have taken a few shots with my phone, and last night I went out on the bike to try to get some pics of the beautiful scenery around here.

“Regular” people always ask “What did you do/where did you go?” Its hard to explain how much fun my BF and I can have sitting in a house working on our separate creative endeavors, sometimes in companionable silence, and sometimes chatting nonstop, and always laughing. I’ve gotten a ton of interesting “compositions” (small art quilt pieces) started. I’ve decided its the nature of travel and/or not being in my home environment that makes it difficult to complete any of them. I have a lot of work to do when I get home!

Oh! And speaking of home, J. the contractor has been working extra hard to try to get a lot done while I was gone. I hear that I no longer have a kitchen or a bathroom. To quote myself, Eek! : ) Still, I will be very happy to be home in a few days to see the Queen, Miss Bess, the Big Guy, and to have a little more lap time with Mr. Monk.


The Summer of Ceviche


DSCN1650I think this will be my favorite dinner this summer!

  1. No stove cooking.
  2. Minimal prep time.
  3. Low cal light dish that tastes luxurious.
  4. Recipe makes 3 servings–three dinners ready to go!

Here’s all the ingredients you need to gather. Thaw the pre-cooked salad shrimp and microwave the corn ahead of time. Then just chop and combine.


I don’t need to belabor the point. I think I’ve talked about this recipe enough on this blog. But its worth repeating–DELICIOUS!! I love it so much I just eat a bowl of it by itself. That does it for me. But if you wanted to, you could make yourself some tortilla chips to go with.


Recipe Review: Zucchini Marinara Bake

Its that time of year again–everybody who has a little space is growing a few zucchini and tomato plants, right? Or you might be like I usually am, and hope that your friends and neighbors will share the bounty with you. Anyway, if you like those two vegetables, this is a wonderful no-fail recipe (in my humble opinion : ) ) I was a little surprised at how the baking dish was filled to the brim, but decided to trust my own recipe, and sure enough, it did not boil over. I just love the flavor combo in this recipe, and I love that you can have a great big serving for 200 calories, and I love that you still get a little treat of cheese and pasta every few bites!


(Zucchini Marinara Bake, pictured before baking)

A serving of this with a side of chicken or fish makes a fantastic dinner.


The Bedroom Report

Hi all! I came back from my trip to Cambria and rug hooking camp to a brand new bedroom! Well, almost brand new. J. the contractor called as I was driving home to let me know it wasn’t quite finished. Me and the little dogs had a good time camping on my mattress on the living room floor Friday night! By Saturday at 4pm J. and the carpet guy had cleared out, and I had a brand new shiny squeaky clean bedroom. I almost hate to move anything back in there.

I think this picture shows the colors most clearly. As usual, I agonized over the colors–having to choose both carpet and paint this time. After visiting 4 or 5 carpet stores, and getting millions of samples sent to me, J. suggested that I go to a store in Sacramento that had some really good deals on remnants, since my room wasn’t’ that large. So I didn’t get anything at the first store, but I found this remnant that seemed “just the right color” at the second store I stopped at. Its a pale aqua. In addition, the price was right–it was about one quarter of what I had been planning to spend on carpet!! Then it was on to the paint color. I wanted a light coral, maybe erring a bit on the side of pink. I must have had 25 pink and coral color cards. You would think one of them would be perfect. Finally, I had a discussion with the paint lady about the formula for one of the colors. We went back and forth, and she custom mixed a sample for me. It was too intense, so after some phone conversations, where she actually mixed the paint while I was on the phone(!) she came up with something she thought I’d like. At that point, I had run out of time before I had to leave on my trip, so I said, “Just mix me 2 gallons of that, and I’ll pick it up tomorrow.” She was worried about doing that, but I told her if it was wrong, I’d paint over it, and I’d never tell her. Fortunately it was “just right.” I love it. The paint lady labeled it “Debby’s Perfect Coral.”


Here’s some before pictures that I snapped AFTER I had cleared out most of the stuff in the bedrooms. A big change, no?

That patch over the top of my bed is where J. had to frame in a window when he put the mudroom in.


And in this picture you can see the closet wall. When I bought the house, they put up that wall to give me a bigger closet. It was sheet rocked, but never painted. The closet “door” is one of those bi-fold doors. I never liked it.


The closet still needs to be finished. J. is going to install real closet innards, instead of the dressers and funky wire shelves that I had put up myself. The closet was also shortened, in anticipation of the next step–turning my little bathroom into a laundry room! J. borrowed almost 3 feet from the closet to make room for the washer and dryer. Now my closet is 7′X5′. Its still plenty big for my clothes. MIght be a little small for all the other stuff I store in there. But hopefully, with all the remodeling, all those things will find new homes.

So here’s the bedroom after I moved a few pieces of furniture back into the room. Now I need a new bed, or at least something to disguise the box springs. That little rug is the latest hooked rug I finished.


And in this photo, the hooked rug is one that my rug hooking friend brought to me all the way from Illinois! She found it at a farm sale for only $2. That is a big part of its charm. Plus, could it go any better with the color scheme here? Notice the “real” closet door there. I am in love with doors these days!


In Cambria, there was a high of 63-70 every day. I arrived home to a high of 103, and its been hot every day. Here’s the scene around here most of the time (and I’m sure you spied me in the mirror above wearing my “I don’t’ care what I look like, these are the coolest clothes I’ve got” ensemble.)

Sophie and Monk

Sophie and Monk




Bess and Sophie

Bess and Sophie

I had a great time on my trip. I’ll blog about that in a separate post. Otherwise this post would be impossibly long.

Pansy Parade and Pudding Report

After months (I am not exaggerating) of Noah mowing down every single pansy bloom, and me almost killing the pansies with my “treatments”–pepper, “Boundary” repellant for dogs, and Bitter Apple spray,– I decided to try feeding Noah some baby carrots every night in his supper. The little dogs get them every night. But Noah started urping them, and I had stopped giving them to him. I don’t know if its a coincidence, or its really a cure, but since I started feeding him the carrots again, he has stopped eating the pansies, and now all his “pruning” has rewarded me with the best crop of pansies I’ve ever had! Each little plant is like a bush full of flowers. Is there a better way to spend $3 than on a six-pack of pansies?












And the pudding report. Remember I mentioned that chocolate sweet potato pudding? Well, first I tried it substituting pumpkin for sweet potatoes. Because it turned out I didn’t have any sweet potatoes. I could still taste the pumpkin, so I didn’t like that too much. I did like that it was nice and thick. So a couple days later I got sweet potatoes at the store and tried again. I added a little more cocoa powder. It was good, but for me it was not worthy. The calories come out to between 170 and 200 per serving the way I figured it. You could divide it into smaller servings if you wanted. The thing about it is, that whole recipe is very healthy, so if you liked it, it would really be a good one to keep in the rotation. For me, I’d rather eat two walnut-stuffed dates.