Food Again

Howdy folks!  I’ve got a whole post about all my wonderful food adventures, and hardly any pictures!  You’ll just have to use your imaginations.

Yesterday I started the day off with Lori’s wonderful protein pancakes.  Well, for me, its just one big pancake.  I have it the same way every time.  Bake in about 3-4 walnut halves, chopped.  And top with two ‘banana cubes’  thawed of course.  These are the mashed extra ripe bananas that I freeze in ice cube trays.  They are more than sweet enough to top these pancakes.

I had some chores to do, and knew I would be gone during lunch time, so I made a plan.  One of my ‘chores’ was going to the gym, so decided I would pick up one of Vicky’s creations for lunch.  Edemame tofu salad–just edemame, corn, tofu, sesame oil and sesame seeds.  A very delicious and filling combination.

On to Walmart, where they finally had some of these back in stock.

I LOVE these boxes!  They were in the hardware department, but were labeled ‘Stanley–Barbara’s Way.’  I think designed by a woman FOR women.  I love how the thread spools fit almost exactly in each little compartment.  Each compartment comes out of the box. I love that the spools are sideways so you can see exactly what you’ve got, and best of all, you can pick these up and carry them around, put them upside down even, and the spools cannot move.  And yes, as a matter of fact, I DO need all that thread.

Next stop Starbuck’s.  I wasn’t actually in a very good mood this day, so I actually gave myself permission to get a treat from their case.  But after reviewing all the options, I decided I would rather stick with my planned nutty nibby cookies (from Vicky.) I do love it when I make good choices.  Progress is slow, but its there.

Which reminds me, I wanted to be sure to mention Lynn’s post about her weight loss (and gain) history.  Her history is similar to so many of us who have lost a lot of weight.  Numerous attempts.  But the most fascinating thing to me was the chart that she included.  It was such a graphic illustration of how the weight comes on, and how it comes off.  The weight usually accumulates over a number of years (14 in Lynn’s case, and I think over 20 in my case),   and then we lose the weight in a couple of years, which seems like forever.  But when you see it on the chart, you see that that is a very short period of time compared to the time we took gaining and maintaining our top weight.  I just think we should keep that in mind when we are bemoaning the fact that it takes a lot of time to learn to maintain a weight loss.  Here’s my comment from her post:

You know what impressed me the most? That weight chart. It took you 14 years to gain from 140 up to 300. And then only two years to lose that weight. Doesn’t it make sense that it would take (us) the same amount of time to learn to live with (maintain) the smaller body? But we’re usually so impatient with ourselves.

Back to the food.  I love my microwave popcorn popper. I discovered that I could put the quarter cup of popcorn in there along with a teaspoon of butter and some salt, and it comes out exactly the way I like it.

I’ve had a couple of failed batches of homemade yogurt.  So the last stop after Starbuck’s was to run into Safeway and get a little container of their plain Lucerne yogurt to use as a starter.  I swear by this stuff.  The yogurt comes out absolutely perfect with it every time!

When I came home I decided to make some walnut butter.  I had an excess of walnuts in the house.  I made one batch of plain walnut butter and another batch of chocolate walnut butter.  Most excellent!  (Just add in a couple of Tbsp of cocoa powder, a little agave nectar, and some salt.  I think I also added a little olive oil.)

For dinner that night I made a Veggie stir-fry (onion, mushroom, carrots, zucchini, spinach)  and topped it with some spaghetti sauce that I had left over.  This combination of vegetables is so very delicious to me.  I use a vegetable peeler to make long peels of the carrots and zucchini.  Cook the onion for at least 5 minutes first, then add the mushrooms, carrot and zucchini peels, and lastly add the fresh chopped spinach.  LOVE.

THEN I made some rice pudding for dessert.  I got that new Trader Joe’s cookbook (which BTW, I love.  Pretty pictures, simple delicious recipes, and all the nutritionals are included ,) and the first thing I saw was their recipe for rice pudding.  So simple.  I did  really think about whether or not I was going to use the packaged pudding mix, since I just don’t eat packaged foods much any more.  This was so delicious and so simple.  I used one of those microwave bowls of brown rice from Costco (2 servings of rice), instant sugar free vanilla pudding, 2 cups milk, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Oh, and I added some raisins.  SOOOO yummy.  I will probably take it to work tomorrow to share.

Today I was going to meet a friend for lunch.  I seem to be on a nicely controlled eating spree lately, and was trying to think where we could eat that wouldn’t be too ‘pricey’ (calorie-wise.)  And I came up with eating at the gym!  Vicky always has some good food available.  My friend agreed.  That was great.  I knew exactly what I was getting.  350 calories instead of ‘hoping’ something was 500.   It was nice enough that we could sit outside at the nice tables they have set up.  This could become a very good healthy habit.

Tonight I had a special dinner.  Have been wanting to try local grass fed beef for forever.  Finally decided to pick up a steak (prompted by Lori’s blog about beef!)  Oh my goodness, this was most enjoyable.  And the fresh asparagus wasn’t bad, either!

That’s a salad plate, BTW.

And in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, I’ll show you the only reason I even remember this holiday…

A See’s Spud!!  Made only at this time of year.  I used to buy these by the score…  I’m actually not going to eat this one tonight–too full.  Half of a spud is 170 most worthy calories.

Here’s the scene today in the little by-the-sewing machine-doggie bed.

I think Sophie is mildly disturbed that Monk discovered her secret.

And here’s how I finished off that little ‘fans’ quilt.

And now its back to work.  26 shifts left.

 

What’s Been Going On

Earth’s crammed with heaven

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who see, takes off his shoes;

The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This morning I read this quote.  Its a favorite of mine.  I grabbed my camera on the way out the door with Noah.  Looking for wonders and springtime.

Look at all the greens in this picture.


Love mossy stumps.

I never saw these bushes with the hanging pods before today.  Today they were everywhere!

A stump with a miniature ‘forest’ on top of it.

Closer:

And closest!  Doesn’t this remind you of Dr. Seuss?

I’m hungry.  Yep, fourth Monday of fasting.  Its fascinating really.  So much extra time in the day.  And I find I am extra creative with my quilting on these days.

There is so much swirling around in my head, and ideas for  more concise, meaningful  blogs.  But its easier to just write down the thoughts as they come.  Which usually isn’t so organized.  Here’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about.

I have read so much about weight loss and maintenance in the past year or so.  Some of it has led me far afield.  Some of it was encouraging, and some of it was VERY discouraging.  Some of it ‘made’ me gain weight.  Some of it gave me insights into why I might have started overeating as a child.  Probably all of it was useful in some ways.

But here’s the thing.  Yes.  We all KNOW weight loss and especially maintenance is hard.  If you want to maintain the loss, you will have to work at it.  You probably won’t get a break (great post by Diane.)  There will be times you want to stress eat, and times you might re-gain some of the weight (no need to look further than this blog LOL.)

If you want to accomplish something great that is very hard to do, like for example, being a concert pianist, ALWAYS listening to how hard it is might not be the best thing to do.  Its good to be informed.  Its good to know the truth, and to have all the information that is available.  But then, you just have to set your mind to it, look at the positive aspects, and forge your way.

This thing is going to look different for each of us.  The people who insist that their way is the ONLY way are driving me nuts.  Grains have been around for THOUSANDS of years, for goodness sakes.  Some very thin people eat white rice every single day.  The French, doggone it, manage to eat butter on everything evidently.

So I guess I’m saying, I’m gonna stick mostly with reading  books and blogs that will encourage me right now.  I’m not going to take a break.  I’m going to look at what has worked in the past, eliminate what I know does not work, and keep on eating healthy food.  I am going to be open to new information, and willing to try new (healthy) foods.  I am not going to stop enjoying food.  Ever.

Oh, and I am going to continue to exercise in such a way that it is something I can do long term.  For me that means walking at least once a day, and many times two times a day.  Probably at least an hour a day.  Thirty minutes at the gym seems to do it for me.  I can get in a very good workout in thirty minutes. I’m hoping to get back in the pool this summer.  I don’t think I will ever be a cold weather swimmer.  I might try some new things because they say that is helpful for your body.  I have been adding in some different exercises at the gym, and I can tell that new muscles are being challenged.

Doggie pics of the day.  Noah got a bath on Saturday.  Fluffy doggie for at least one day…

The usual suspects.  In the usual chair.

I love this picture of Noah, even if it is fuzzy and there is a shadow on his face.
Hope everyone has a wonderful week.  Back to work tomorrow (27 shifts left!!)

Happy Birthday, My Imaginary Friend!

My BIF, Jill, turned 40 today!  I had to use *my* imagination to remember that year.  I think it was a good one!  (For those of you who don’t know Jill, she was the blogger who pushed me gently into starting my own blog, saying All the cool kids are doing it!)

Noah says, “May you find the stick of your dreams!

Mr. Monk recommends a LOOOONNNNG snooze on a very soft sofa.

And Sophie says, “Always think most highly of yourself.  Don’t take any crap from the minions.  And eventually they will recognize you for the Queen that you are.”

 

Have a great day, Jill!  And have a…NO that is not a margarita!…have a fruit smoothie to celebrate!   (and maybe a cupcake…)

 

Creativity in the House

Liz asked what I had been working on, so I thought I’d show you some of the latest creativity happening in the house.  You guys have seen this quilt in various stages of construction.  I really started this one just as a learning experiment, but I became quite fond of working on all the hand stitching.  I call it my ‘faux Marianne Burr quilt’ because that is where the original idea came from.  I am looking forward to visiting and learning from Marianne this summer!

Close-ups of the various blocks.

 

 

 

Another ‘non-project’ I work on at various times:  Cutting out two inch squares.  I have quite a collection going.  Some of them I sew together in various colorways.  Others I hand-sew (English paper piecing) around little hexagonal forms, and then sew the hexagons together.  These are usually seen in the grandmother’s flower garden quilts (I used some of them in the ‘pay it forward quilts’) but right now I am just using them to sew together into color drifts.  Not sure of the final project for these.  But aren’t they pretty?  Freddy and Gwen, two of my favorite quilters, call this the “parts department.”

 

Yesterday I worked on cleaning out my sewing cupboards, and re-organizing projects in various stages of being finished (or unfinished, depending on your point of view.) I found these little abstract fans that I had put together quite a while ago.  They were from a series of small quilts that I did using up small scraps from one original quilt. So tonight I arranged them on a background and sewed them down (raw edge applique, using zig-zag stitch.)  I have some strips cut to make a couple of borders, and then I will finish and quilt it.

In the evening when I really want to relax, I like to have a hand quilting project going.  Mr. Monk likes it when I have a hand-quilting project going too….

I love the colors in this quilt. Reminds me of summertime.  Hydrangeas and brick pathways in a garden.  It is a bed-sized quilt.

Mr. Monk seemed to be particularly photogenic today.  Pictures from this morning:

 

 

And Noah, on his mesh ‘chaise lounge’ out in the front ‘courtyard.’  Quite messy out there.  I’m waiting for Noah to stop landscaping.  It might be a long wait.

Shhh.  Don’t tell The Queen that she was not included in this post.  It could make life quite miserable around here for the rest of us.

You’ll Never Guess

No you won’t!  You will never be able to guess what this admitted foodie has been doing for the past three Mondays.  Three!  Every Monday for the past three weeks!

I HAVE BEEN FASTING.

I can hardly believe it myself.  Ever since I started this weight loss journey, I would read something in one of my spiritual books (or the Bible) about fasting.  And I would think,  I would like to do that. But to be honest, and this is a little embarrassing, I could not stand the thought of going twenty-four hours without my favorite foods.  So a few weeks ago, I was reading in a book by one of my favorite authors, Mark Buchanan, and he wrote the best chapter I have ever read on fasting.  And I thought I AM GOING TO DO IT.  This Monday.

Now, some of you regulars will remember that I did have to fast before the colonoscopy last fall.  So I knew I could do it.  But that fast had like a visit to the principal’s office attached to it.  I would get in big trouble if I didn’t do it.  But just doing it for myself, or for God even…That was another matter.

Anyway, to be very honest, and this is why I am sharing this with you.  There were two reasons I wanted to fast.  Yes, one was for spiritual reasons.  And I think I accomplished that.  I spent a little more time in prayer.  And I definitely thought a lot about my friends in Africa, for whom this was their every day experience.  And I prayed for them as I thought about them.

But the other reason was for physical and mental reasons.  I wanted to show food that it is NOT ‘the boss of me.’  No, it is not.  And actually, it is almost easier to make no choices about which food to eat or what recipe to try than it was to just not eat.  Today was the hungriest I have been, but it is not that ‘low blood sugar, I’m gonna go nuts’ hungry.  It was just regular gnawing hunger.  And I drank another glass of water and got busy doing something else, and I forgot about it for a while.

These are only 24 hour fasts.  So I have dinner Sunday night, and then I have dinner Monday night.  My brother did this every week for many years.  I asked him if it was for physical or spiritual reasons, and he said mostly physical.  He is very disciplined in the areas of food and fitness.

Anyway, these days have been so good, I thought I’d share the idea with you.  Its amazing how much you can get done, and even how creative you can be when you are not thinking about what the next meal is going to be or if you can fit that snack into your calorie allotment for the day or if you should try that recipe or this recipe.  I am well aware that a lot of my creative energy gets spent on food instead of quilts.  I had plenty of energy, and even went for two walks each day.

Its kind of funny.  Every week I have ended the fast with almost the same meal.  A piece of Vicky’s delicious turkey bread, some kind of vegetable, and a piece of fruit.  Doesn’t get much better or simpler than that.  I think I like the turkey bread because its kind of a treat, but also because there’s no prep or thinking involved.  Here’s what I had for dinner tonight.  Turkey bread, that delicious cauliflower potato bake, and fresh pineapple!

Today was a beautiful day.  Spring is coming, people.  It really is!  We have had SO MUCH RAIN.  The other day I took a walk by the little pond on the road, and I heard a very loud noise.  It was MILLIONS of frogs singing away!  Oh!!!  That reminds me of the little froggie miracle yesterday.  I came home from church, and let all three dogs out.  I noticed a little piece of mud or something on the floor that all three dogs had just trampled over.  To be honest, I thought it was a turd or something.  So I got a piece of paper to pick it up, and I thought, that is a frog-shaped turd! Then I got it closer to my evidently old eyes, and saw, yes, it is a little frozen froggie.  How did he get in the house.  Where did he come from?  Poor little froggie.  Its too cold for little froggies.  (I really like frogs.)  So I was just about to dump him and the paper in the fire (and I was thinking to myself, eeww, what if he was alive.  you will feel terrible burning a frog alive.)  And just then, HE MOVED!!!  And I took him over to the sink and prepared a glass of lukewarm water to warm him up and get the house dust off of him.  And he was very happy, and I took him outside and let him go.  The end.

The view out the front door:

Like I said, I have a lot more time for creating when I am not eating.  I spent a lot of time at the sewing machine.  Noah was in his crate happily chewing on one of those elk antlers, Mr. Monk was asleep in his usual chair, but I noticed Sophie staring at me in her worried kind of way.  I got an old pillow and put it next to where I was sitting at the sewing machine.  That was just what she wanted.

SPRING IS COMING!!

Back to work tomorrow.  Countdown:  29 shifts left!

P.S.  Some of you will get a chuckle out of this.  The only liquid I allowed myself to have during the fast, besides water, was a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, and a cup of coffee in the early afternoon!

Weekend of Foodie Experiments

Harro everbody!  How was your weekend?  Mine was just fine, thank you very much.  I finally got to the grocery store and stocked up on regular supplies, as well as getting some specialty items I had been looking for.  We have a health food store in our little town that carries all kinds of interesting things.  Some are quite reasonable, and others are priced out of this world.

Anyway, on Friday I was in the mood for some real pasta (probably because my brother had mentioned it to me the night before.)  I rarely eat pasta any more, but I still had some Barilla Plus thin spaghetti in the cupboard.  This stuff looks and tastes like regular pasta but has 10g protein and 4g fiber per serving.  Anyway, I tried to make a simple mix of fresh tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and olive oil, along with a little mozarella.  This was okay, but didn’t taste as good as it looks–kinda bland.  Anybody have any ideas about what was missing?  I actually added about a teaspoon of the pizza sauce to 1/2 of it, and that actually perked it up a little.  Now that I’m thinking about it, just some italian seasonings would have been a good addition.

Mozzarella added in:

Mozzarella melted and mixed in:

So I picked up some of that vital wheat gluten and finally had all the ingredients to try Lori’s Magic Rolls.  Oh my goodness.  Those are quite magical.  Enough so that I ate two of them the first night.  Then they went in the freezer. I’m anxious to try one as a hamburger bun.  Its fascinating that they only have about 3g of carbs.  And like Lori said, they definitely have the taste and texture of cream puff pastry, or the other thing I thought of was that they tasted a bit like French Crullers (donuts.)  Only my very most favorite donuts in the world.  I never eat them, except maybe 3 or 4 times a year when I treat my dad to one.  Another interesting fact:  I looked up French Cruller recipes, and they only have 131 calories each.  That’s because they’re mostly air!  But the difference between the Magic Rolls and the French Cruller is that the Magic Rolls don’t have sugar, and they DO have protein.  A much better choice, IMO.

Next experiment.  I had an idea to use the Ginger Cookie recipe as a jumping off place for creating my own version of Vicky’s Fiber Doodles.  So I picked up some chia seeds and some psyllium fiber at the Health Food store and set about manipulating the recipe.  I halved the amount of sugar in the recipe, and used half the amount of flour, substituting chia seeds, psyllium fiber, and flaxseed meal for the other half of the flour.  I am very happy with the results.  Just mildly sweet, crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  The recipe is over on the other blog.

I didn’t even remember, but I took quite a few photos of the doggies this weekend.  I tried to get all of them in one shot, but something about the angle makes Noah look oddly smaller than the little ones.

Then I tried to just take pictures of Noah.  He gives me the funniest looks sometimes.  But as soon as I get the camera out he becomes a moving target.

Then, I tried to take a picture of Mr. Monk on his pillow.  But as soon as the camera comes out, the photog whore jumps in front!

Sometimes, Mr. Monk just tolerates Her Majesty.

My moods have been playing havoc with me.  Down one day, up the next.  I blame it on stress/being tired.  Maybe it is hormones making their last stand!  I’ve gotten in a decent amount of exercise–mostly walks with the dogs, but went to the gym on Thursday morning and this morning.  A few less-than-stellar food choices, including some trail crack mix on the way home from church.  We’ll just call that lunch…

Delicioso!

This combination was simply one of the best things I’ve had to eat in recent memory.  That includes the delicious frozen yogurt I had today!

Baked yam topped with onions, mushrooms, and spinach.

Bake a yam at 400 degrees until it is VERY soft.  Probably 45 minutes to an hour.  While it is cooking, slice some brown mushrooms, some onion, and chop some fresh spinach.  Put about 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in a pan, and add the onions.  Cook for about 5 minutes and add the mushrooms.  Cook for about 5 minutes more and add the spinach and cook until wilted (3 minutes?)  Split the yam and spray with butter spray.  Top with veggie mix and enjoy.

Back to the frozen yogurt I had today.  Blush is one of my most favorite froyo places.  Their yogurt actually tastes like it comes from milk.  Unfortunately for most of you, they are only located in the bay area (check them out Pubsgal!)  I had a small cup to celebrate a wonderful day with my dad.  His health crisis the other day was a flair up of his congestive heart failure.  I went back down to the Bay Area today to take him to his doctor’s appointment.  He was feeling so much better, and the weather was gorgeous, instead of raining like had been predicted.  We had a cup of soup afterward, and I treated him to half of a Krispy Kreme donut.  Oh, he was in seventh heaven!

Thanks for all your nice comments yesterday.  It is very wonderful to have so many BIF’s!!!