Happy Days

It was my birthday weekend! Yes, that’s right, weekend, not week. Two days is more than enough celebrating at this time of year. My real birthday was on Sunday, and since I started a new tradition 3 years ago of SWIMMING on my birthday, I planned to do that on Saturday. So off to the gym I went Saturday afternoon. I spent 45 minutes (10 miles) on the stationary bike (the amount of time I spend on the bike is directly related to how interested I am in the TV show I’m watching:/ ) So when I finally got out to the pool, it was smooth as glass! Yes, I had the whole pool to myself for my birthday. The water is actually nice and warm, but if there is any breeze, your head and shoulders are quite chilly. Still, I spent 20 minutes running back and forth. I decided to not swim, because I didn’t want to get my hair wet. I was going to Starbuck’s afterwards for my free frappuccino!

Sunday I had all planned out. I have started attending a church in Folsom every other Sunday–they are the church that encourages artists and they have displayed my quilts in their gallery twice now. I really enjoy this church–it feeds my soul, and fills me with thoughts of God for the week ahead. So I headed out to Folsom bright and early, so I could stop at the bakery on the way and get myself a sticky bun and a good cup of coffee for the drive. Yummmmmmm.

I had decided ahead of time that I wanted to get myself a nice pair of pajamas for my birthday. I usually have good luck finding pajamas and nightgowns at the thrift store, but I haven’t had some nice cozy pj’s for a while. So after the church service, I checked out Ross and Marshall’s, but ended up at Steinmart and got the perfect pair–pink of course, with a gray and pink rose print. And the tag claimed they were “cloud soft.” Perfect!

I saw that they had a Nordstrom Rack there, and decided to check that out. I had quite the little adventure there. I pulled forward into a parking space next to a man in a van that was full of stuff. The man did not look very friendly… and before I got out of my car, another younger man came running out of the store, hopped in the passenger seat and slouched down, while the driver tried to pull forward but hit a parking bump so he had to back out of the spot. This all seemed highly suspicious, so I tried to memorize part of the license plate, and the next thing I saw was the mall security car with its flashing lights on, doing what seemed to me to be a slow speed chase. And then the funniest thing happened–you know how sometimes its hard to find the mall exit? Yeah, that van had to turn around and find a different way to get out of the mall. Well, I don’t really know how that ended, but I went in the store to give them the partial license plate, and there was already another man there showing them something on his cell phone, so I decided they didn’t need anything from me. End of story🙂

I looked around the Rack for just a minute–too crowded and messy. But I did find a pair of diamond earrings to replace the ones I had lost. LOL. Cubic zirconias. They are plenty sparkly for me.

I had lunch at my favorite Chipotle Grill (same thing every time–the carnitas salad,) and the first girl asked how my day was going, and I blurted out, “oh perfect. Its my birthday and this is my favorite place to eat.” So I went on down the line and the other servers said happy birthday, and I paid with my card and went to the table. And then I looked at my ticket, and they hadn’t charged me for my meal! What a nice surprise.

I ended the day with my free Pinkberry froyo–gotta love those cards where they just load the free birthday treat onto it. And I was on my way home, where I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in my big chair, taking turns holding each little girl on my lap.

In case y’all are  wondering, this is a special birthday–I turned 62 this year. SOCIAL SECURITY, baby!! It doesn’t start until February, but I have been looking forward to this since I retired five years ago!

From the Garden

While checking out the garden before another predicted rainstorm, I found three incredible rose blooms. I decided to cut them down and bring them in to enjoy for a bit.

Look how well they match my bathroom! I love that color of pink🙂

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And even 4 days later I was still enjoying their beauty.

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And one more note about the garden. I was so looking forward to a good year of fall color from the Japanese maples. Unfortunately, the warmer fall that we had (that gave me wonderful roses the last week of November) was not so good for the maples. They just didn’t get that cold shock that they need to turn colors. So I am enjoying bits and pieces of fall color, but so far, none spectacular enough to share on the blog.

Late to the Party

I know I’m the last person in America to discover the joys of potstickers! Before, they just seemed like a pain in the butt to prepare–trying to heat pasta in a pan with some oil, and they always STUCK TO THE POT. And then I discovered the toaster oven. I put them on a piece of foil sprayed with Pam and Bam! They cook up with just a bit of crispiness and not only do they NOT stick, they tend to slide around on their little aluminum foil sheet pan. Weird, but it works so well.

But I need to back up. I discovered these potstickers through Biz’s recipe recommendation for won ton soup. I love that soup. And then I got the giant economy bag of the mini potstickers at Costco, and I thought I might like to eat them without the soup. After all, they are only 100 calories for eight of them!! And THEN, I found the recipe for dipping sauce on the bag, and I adjusted it for my own purposes. And I had the makings for a quick and easy and very low calorie dinner, just like that.

Here’s what I had for dinner the day after Thanksgiving. The shrimp are good dipped in the sauce too!

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The Feast and the Days After

Thanksgiving was quite tasty this year. My niece’s husband did one of those deep fried turkeys, and I swear, that was the best turkey I’ve ever had! I had seconds on turkey and mashed potatoes, and all the other stuff I just had mini-servings of, or skipped altogether.

It was a shame, but most of the folks present didn’t like nuts, so I left half of the pumpkin cake for my sister and mom to take home, and I took the other half home myself. I guess I didn’t need that little cake after all🙂

Anyway, I did have one piece of the layer cake that night, and then I cut it into serving sizes, and put it safely in the freezer. And that was it. The next morning I got up and went right back to counting my calories on LoseIt. I didn’t really want to keep overeating. I guess I’m finally getting over that whole thing.

I ate carefully that day, and saved enough calories so I could have my mini-cake for dessert that night. I had my “leftover” turkey breast that I had cooked for myself, and so I had my salad with romaine lettuce, cranberry sauce, turkey, and laughing cow lite cheese–I love that combo! And I cut up that turkey breast and put it in a couple of containers in the freezer so I can have it whenever I want between now and Christmas.

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Today I had an old favorite of mine. The original of this was at a wonderful restaurant that served gigantic mashed potatoes in all kinds of original combinations. One of my favorites was the italian potato, which of course was loaded with butter, sour cream, mozzarella cheese, italian spices, olives, and a bit of parmesan.

One day I realized I could have this same combination of flavors if I would just pare it down a little. I start with a small yukon gold potato, about 4 ounces, and I spray it with Pam and sprinkle garlic salt on it, then wrap it in foil and bake it for a long time. That makes it soft and extra flavorful. Then I spray some fake butter on top, put about 1/3 cup of cottage cheese, sprinkle some italian spices, and about a Tablespoon or so of chopped olives. So yummy! And probably one-tenth of the calories of that giant baked potato🙂

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Here’s how I had it for dinner–with a big helping of those baby green beans, baked in the oven with Pam and salt.

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All the Pumpkin Things!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope you enjoy the day. Think about all the many things we have to be thankful for, living in this wonderful country. A plethora of pumpkin is just one of the things we can be thankful for🙂

Yesterday I made my low calorie Apple Cranberry Sauce. It was delicious with my cottage cheese! And then I made a batch of Pumpkin Custard. That will keep my Thanksgiving cravings satisfied without overdoing the calorie load.

I am going to my niece’s this year for Thanksgiving, and this year I volunteered to make Helen’s wonderful Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake. This is the third year I’ve made it. I think that makes it a Thanksgiving tradition for me. I made the cakes this morning, and I will make the nuts and the frosting later today.

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What is that tiny little cake, you ask? Why yes, I did cook a miniature cake for myself to have the next day🙂

The cake recipe doesn’t use a whole can of pumpkin, so I dumped the leftover pumpkin into my leftover coffee–it will make me a fun low calorie “pumpkin pie frappucino” later today🙂

I am off to the doctor for my third and last gel shot. Hoping that the third shot is the “magic” that will make these shots work for a while. When I get home I will cook the turkey breast that I bought so I will have “leftover” turkey in the days to come.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

In The Garden

Before I start on the garden news, I want to say thank you to those of you who left such encouraging comments on my last post about my knee. It really means a lot to me. I also reached out to a fellow nurse who had knee replacement surgery earlier this year, and in the conversation–where she was very enthusiastic about her experience with surgery–we realized that we had the same doctor! I already knew that I liked my doctor a great deal, but hearing that he was also good at the actual surgery was fantastic news.

I’ve now had two of the three gel shots, and they don’t seem to be doing a thing. But maybe the third shot will be the magic charm.

Well, yesterday I needed to stop at the nursery and ask a question about a pesky weed. Did you all know there’s something called pre-emergent treatment that you can put on plants to keep the weeds from ever appearing? The regular stuff is very toxic to dogs, so she is checking out some corn gluten stuff for me to try. Of course, while I was there, I had to check out the plants. I got a few more pansies and one more six-pack of elfin thyme to fill in the stone pathway spaces.

This is a “wave” pansy! Great for pots, and the pansies actually hang over the side.

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And this big pretty blue pansy. I think I told you–my plan was to plant so many pansies in the garden that Noah would tire of eating them🙂

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This is the most this camellia has ever bloomed! I guess it is liking our bit of rain, and our longer than usual warm weather.

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And yes! One more rose.

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I took this picture–doesn’t it look out of place blooming with the fall foliage in the background?

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The red abutilon is still blooming away.

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I was standing next to this plant, and noticed a lovely pineapple smell wafting by. This is my pineapple sage–it goes crazy and has these bright red blooms in the fall. I have never used it for cooking. But the smell was so good, I’m thinking of using it on my turkey this year!

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So after I planted my little six-packs, I went over to help MLG who was here splitting more pine for me. Did I tell you about the bark beetles that have invaded our county (because of the drought) and are killing many of our pine trees? My neighbor took down a few pine trees, and had so much wood herself that she didn’t want them. So while MLG was splitting the logs, I threw the pieces into the back of his truck, and then he backed that up to the wood shed, where I started stacking it up. You can see we didn’t finish today. But there is a method to our madness. I have to be able to get to the dry wood. As soon as I make a dent in that, I’ll finish stacking the new wood in the shed.

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We are due for more rain and some colder weather this weekend, and I am ever hopeful that gardening will really be done for this winter!

Bone on Bone

I’ve heard lots of other people use those words to describe their knees. But never had it applied to my knee. Until yesterday. My insurance company finally approved the gel shots, and so yesterday I went in to my knee doctor for the first of three shots. I like this doctor SO MUCH. He is kind and encouraging, and not an alarmist. And for a surgeon, he has always been more interested in trying other less invasive methods rather than “surgery is the only option” like so many surgeons seem to think.

So yesterday he started the conversation by asking “have you been thinking about surgery at all?” To which I replied honestly, “I think about it ALL THE TIME.” I think about how my knee hurts  and how I avoid walking places and how I wish I could walk longer and farther. And then I think about how I don’t want a part of my body REMOVED FOREVER and replaced with a hunk of plastic and metal. And I think about my friend whose knee surgery was botched and how it took five years and almost as many doctors to get someone to listen to her and she had to have the first device removed and then wait 6 weeks WITHOUT A KNEE and then have another surgery to have it replaced. And I think about my sister-in-law’s dad, who died 2 days after his knee replacement surgery. And, of course, I do think about the many people who have had successful surgeries, and report lack of pain, and even the ability to take long hikes.

Anyway, then he told me he had reviewed my August X-rays, and my knee was now bone on bone. After a couple of minutes of that setting in, I said I was almost relieved to hear that, because now I didn’t feel like such a wimp for feeling that my knee hurt so much. And he said kindly, “no, you are not a wimp.”

So we discussed a bit more. And the plan is to go ahead and try these gel shots, but if they don’t work, we will go ahead with planning for the surgery. It is almost a relief to me to have more of a concrete plan in mind. For someone like me, its much better than the ubiquitous “you’ll know when its time.”

I don’t have any travel plans after February, and I kind of think that this eventuality might have been in my mind already. I know I will want to add any exercises I might need beforehand to optimize my outcomes. I’m pretty sure that is all a part of planning for the surgery.

In addition, (and I am reluctant to say this after just one week of success,)  but a little over a week ago, I decided to try restricting one more time. I re-set my calorie limit to 1400 on LoseIt, and what do you know? This time I didn’t internally rebel, it was pretty easy to stick to, and I stayed true to it for one whole week and lost 3 pounds. That is the most I’ve lost in months. Now, always, the big question is, how will you MAINTAIN any loss? I am not optimistic about that. But it is always a part of what I think about when I am in losing mode. With this surgery looming, any weight I can lose will be a big bonus, so that is a huge motivating factor for me right now. As you know, I live alone, and having a good recovery and being independent AS SOON AS POSSIBLE is the most important thing to me.

So that’s the news for now. I am off to the gym for a nice long session in the pool. Yes, we are still having pool weather here in sunny California🙂