Lighter Fare

Just a quickie, to pass along a couple of new “recipes” that I’ve really enjoyed the past few days.  I put recipes in quotes because they were more assemblages than full recipes.  One was for my own version of chicken salad, which I realized today was “Chicken Waldorf Salad!”  So simple to make and so refreshing (and filling.)  Sorry, no pictures.  I’m not quite back in the groove since my return home.

The second was a VERY SIMPLE Asian Chicken Salad .  The very simple came in because I simply didn’t have too many ingredients to add to it.  I was really surprised at how very tasty this was.  I practically licked my plate.  And again, filling.

True to my exercise plan, I went to the gym Sunday and today (no, I didn’t get in the pool, Shelley.  I’m a wimp.)  I did have a great workout, both on the bike and on the weight machines.  It feels great to be able to use my hands on the machines and free weights again.  And yesterday I took the three mile loop with Noah.

Tonight is one of those rare peaceful nights.  I mean, I feel really really peaceful.  I picked up a new little quilt project and knew exactly what I wanted to stitch on it.  Monk was in his favorite chair, Noah was down for the count stretched out full length on the floor, and of course Sophie was very happy to be nestled right next to me on the couch.  I listened to the last session of Dallas Willard and John Ortberg.  My friends like to joke that I am in love with Dallas Willard.  Yes, I know how to pick ‘safe’ men.  70 year old married men.  Anyway, seriously, there is no one more challenging AND encouraging to me in my walk with Jesus.  This was a question and answer session on the topics of pain and suffering.  But the conversation ranged far and wide around those topics.  I had a little trouble with the videos, but no problem with the podcast.

Hope you all are having an enjoyable and peaceful after-Thanksgiving week.

A dog who knows the meaning of peace.

about that travel…

Oops.  Time got away from me, and I ran out of time to post my Thanksgiving travel plans.  Added to that, my ‘plan’ to blog while away was foiled by my own fumbling thumbs.*

So I flew up to Oregon to spend Thanksgiving with my BFF.  Sweet–the flight is only 1 to 1 1/2 hours!  Of course also involved was some driving to the airport, and then having to spend the night before in a hotel because I was worried about commuter traffic.  Sigh.  There is no way around it.  Travel is expensive.

Me and BFF setting out for our one and only walk.

Still, we had a wonderful time, filled with laughter, quilt shop visits, sewing, cooking (well, my friend cooked, I watched,) and lots of movie watching.  Only one walk took place.  It was pretty rainy, and we were pretty busy doing other fun stuff.  I’ve got a couple of new recipes to share with you!

First up–I had cut this Light Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe out of a magazine  and wanted to try it.  Pretty darn good, although I think I like traditional pumpkin pie better.  That was the only thing I cooked for Thanksgiving!  Heads up on the recipe:  For some reason they don’t have you blend the cottage cheese in the blender.  I added this step to make a smoother (and thicker) filling.

My friend had this recipe sent to her from her daughter-in-law, after telling her that all the recipes in a recent magazine were for side dishes that were over 500 calories per serving.  This green bean recipe was absolutely outstanding  (how much do I love that these recipes are already online!)  And only 56 calories per serving.  Tasted like much more.

Last up was cranberry relish.  I had never had this before.  No cooking necessary.  It was especially outstanding when eaten in combo with the waldorf salad.  I can also envision mixing it with cottage cheese.    Or baked into the baked oatmeal?  Even mixed into a chopped green salad with some turkey.  Oh, the uses are endless when you find a new delicious food!

So on the long drive home (from the airport) I wrote out a renewed schedule that includes plenty of time for reading, quilting, exercise, and cleaning.  The four major activity groups, right?  Have I forgotten anything? Oh yes.  Cooking.  For me that does take a bit of time.  Have to add that one into the schedule.  My new, and hopefully realistic, exercise plan is to walk 1 hour in the morning Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and to visit the gym for one hour Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.

I also thought about a renewed eating/losing weight plan.  I’ll let you know more about that later in the week.  For now I’ll leave you with a picture of this morning’s breakfast–something long time readers will know is unusual for me.

My version of an omelet. 1 egg, 2 egg whites, spinach, onion, and mushrooms. Pretty tasty and I just analyzed it–only 125 calories with 16 grams of protein!

*  The fumbling thumbs reference is referring to my new Kindle Fire.  I had grand visions of using it to blog while away from home.  First of all, evidently WordPress does not have an ‘app’ for the Kindle Fire yet.  So all I could have blogged was a post title.  I even thought about writing the whole post in the title slot.  But second of all?  I need practice finger typing on this thing!  I got so tired of trying to send emails and commenting on blogs, only to have all my hard work disappear because I brushed the wrong button, that I gave up after a while.  I had a lot of fun playing video games on it though!

Travel and Food

Have I said this already?  I’ve been thinking a lot about why it is that travel seems to be the last stronghold when it comes to controlling myself around food.  Now, most of the time, I don’t actually do that bad.  I usually take my breakfast and my lunch with me, and then usually allow myself one treat and eat dinner out.  My dinner choice is not always the best, but its certainly not the worst either.  But the thing is, I obsess about what food I am going to eat before I ever leave the house.  I think about every special restaurant that is in the vicinity.  I think about all the special candies/baked items/treats that could be had.  All my old favorites.  ALL of them.  I do google searches to see what’s in the area, and then I do mapquests to get directions to some of them.  WHAT is the deal?

This is what I think it is.  As I got heavier and heavier, shopping and any other fun activity associated with travel became more and more difficult.  Finally, the only fun thing left to do when traveling was to eat good food.  To seek out the best and to move from meal to treat to meal.  What a vicious cycle.  You are too heavy to enjoy moving, so you eat more so its even more difficult to move so you eat more so you won’t think about how hard it is to move (and BTW, debby, remember that it wasn’t even so pleasant to SIT at your heaviest.)

That’s what I’ve been thinking about.  It was a very  long-term deeply ingrained habit in my life.  So I guess that’s why its been so hard to break.

The “Japanese Maple Forest” continues to surprise me with new colors almost every day.

This is the grandaddy of the Japanese maples–not a dwarf, just a commoner.  But one of my very most favorites.  The first one I bought after I moved up here because it was cheaper than the fancy dwarfs.  Now its roots have grown into the ground and it is firmly enmeshed in the soil here.  This was what I saw when I walked out the door this morning.

Close-up of the leaves:

And one of his many offspring.  I watch for the little maple saplings and pot them up.  I’ve given quite a few away, and currently have 4 young’uns in different stages of development.

Another of the lace-leaf variety.  This one is doing extremely well this year.  It took a big hit last year when I somehow overlooked it in the watering rotation in August, the hottest month of the year.  Shows the resilience of trees.

And that’s all I’ve got for this Friday evening.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  I am looking forward to a quiet weekend after a busier than usual week.

More Protein?

Here’s a thought process I’ve been going through over the past week or so.

First, I started thinking about eggs.  I wanted to eat more eggs.  Any of you who know me know that this is extremely unusual behavior.  I don’t really like eggs.  I like the shape of eggs.  I like that you can bake delicious things with eggs.  But I don’t like the flavor of eggs.  When I was a kid my mom used to get us to eat eggs once in a while by making eggie reggies.  Scrambled eggs with fried potatoes in them.

Then my brother heard this young man speak at his church.  He is a fitness enthusiast, so of course I had to check out his website.  Pretty nice, and I even listened to some of their podcasts.  I looked at their food plan, and then I looked again.  Man, those people like eggs.  When I looked again, I just realized it was a high protein diet.

THEN, Helen started her paleo challenge.  And other people have been talking about it on the blogs.  And then Kelly (I think) recommended this book to Helen.  So I was checking it out, and basically their theory is to balance your complex carbohydrate intake with protein intake.

All this to say:


Well, not really.  I had a few more thoughts swirling around.  Basically, that I could stand to add a little more protein to my daily diet.  And see whether or not it will decrease my snacking at times I am not really hungry.  We shall see.

In the meantime, I made the best batch of stew that I have had in years.  As you can see, this is plain and simple stew.  That’s how my mom made it growing up, and that’s how I still like it.  I have definitely slimmed down the recipe.  This bowl ended up being 300 calories.  I think the reason it was so tasty was that the beef was grass-fed, from some local growers.

Almost every day I walk outside a different Japanese maple has turned colors.  Here is another one, a little more orange than the first one I showed you (also in this picture.)

And here is a little one that has struggled for the past five years.  It is lime green in the summer.  But its leaves usually died in the summer heat before fall arrived.  I think this is the first year I have seen it turn.  Isn’t it a pretty lemony yellow color?   Now I remember, the name of it is Lemon Lime–maybe referring to its two distinctly different colors.

Well, once again I am too tired to write anything interesting, or even coherent, so I will leave you all and head for the bed AGAIN.


Just a Bit of This and That…and Some Color!

Happy Saturday all!  Hope you are having a fun and relaxing weekend.  We are having a VERY quiet day around here so far.  The troops are behaving themselves.  As soon as I get this written, I plan to take Noah out for a walk (just letting lunch digest!)

The other day I parked in my normal spot at the gym and when I came out I noticed that I was parked under the most glorious tree.  As it was a parking lot I couldn’t get a good picture of the entire tree, so I settled on taking some close-ups of the beautiful leaves.



Remember when I said I was the high bidder on some colored pencils on ebay?  Yep!  I won that auction.  I was pretty surprised.  I didn’t get them for free, but I did save about $40 off of the cheapest retail price I could find.  120 colors, and they come in a beautiful wooden box.  I am very happy with them!

Yesterday morning I opened the door to let the doggies out and this greeted me.  This is my oldest dwarf Japanese maple.  Its been with me as long as I’ve lived here–25 years!

Today I got in the mood to experiment.  This was wonderfully tasty.  Let’s see, shall we call it Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole with a Lemon Yogurt Sauce?    250 calories for that bowl.

And while cleaning out the bottom of my book bag, I found a card that I got on my trip to Washington.  I thought I had left it on the plane, and was very upset, because I just loved the message!  I get cards like this and then frame them so I can look at them for a while.  This one kind of goes along with the discussion I was having with Jill the other day.  I am really trying to take a stand against comparing myself with others.  I don’t want to live like them, and it is just very tiring to be anxious about not living up to a standard that I don’t even want to live up to!

This poster that I ‘pinned’ the other day goes along with that same message to myself.

And just so ya know.  I still have up and down days with my food.  Like Thursday, the day I got my stitches out.  I had to wait over an hour to see the doctor (again) and I got anxious and wandered into the cafeteria.  It was almost funny.  I carefully examined the nutritional stats on all the baggies of candy and nuts that they had, and chose the one with the lowest calories per serving, and figured out that if worse came to worse, and I ate the whole bag, it would only be 600 calories.  So I didn’t eat the whole bag, but that day was definitely a day of overeating.  And then I’ll have a day like yesterday, where I plan each meal, eat exactly what I planned, and go to bed, satisfied, but not stuffed.

Chilly and Chili

The weather has turned consistently cold around here.  Most days are bright and sunny, with highs in the 50’s and lows in the 30’s.  Cold enough that I keep the woodstove going pretty much all day long.  I tell myself that its good exercise carrying that wood in ONE PIECE AT A TIME…  stupid hands.  Not really.  I am very happy with how well they are working after having this surgery.  The very best, and most unexpected part, is how well I am sleeping.  I truly did not realize that all that discomfort I was having with my arms at night was due to the carpal tunnel.

Back to the topic at hand.  With the advent of the chilly weather, I have been hankering to try making some chili.  I didn’t have all the ingredients for some of the recipes I had bookmarked, so I did a survey of various chili recipes, wrote down all the possible ingredients I could include, and then made up my own recipe.  I was very pleased with the results.  The interesting thing I noticed was that I reverted to my old way of cooking.  No, not my OLD way of cooking–that would have been deep fried chili.  But the old way I learned to cook healthy, which is very low fat.  So in the end, when I analyzed the recipe, it came out to less than 150 calories per cup.  Crazy, huh?  I had it over half of a baked potato, with 3 little fresh mozzarella balls (60 calories) crumbled on top  (no cheddar cheese in the house.)  Again, very satisfactory.  And it ended up making 7 servings, so I have 5 servings safe in the freezer for when the chili urge hits again.  Oh, and you know what else I did?  I was thinking about trying out this recipe for Slumgullion, and I realized that the first ingredients were the same (lean ground beef, onion, garlic, peppers, chicken stock, and  tomatoes) so I separated part of it out before I added the chili powder and the cumin, and I saved to to make the slumgullion the next day.  That was a favorite comfort food of mine from my childhood.  It was immensely satisfying!  Got one more serving of that too!

In other news, I set a goal to go to the gym on this past Wednesday, as that would be a week after the surgery, instead of the ridiculous six weeks that I let pass after the first surgery.  You know how you don’t go for a bit and you get that gym shyness.  Anyway, I went, and I did the exercise bike for 20 minutes, and then went and worked out my legs on the machines for 25 minutes.  I was so happy to have done that.

Today I got my stitches out.  The doctor said no swimming for three weeks, and then told me some horror stories to make sure I behaved myself.  In the meantime, I have to decide if I am really going to swim in the winter, and if I want to invest $75 in a swim jacket.  They’re supposed to keep you from getting so cold in the pool, almost like a wet suit.

You know what?  I just ran out of energy and have been staring at the computer screen for an indeterminate period of time.  So I think I’ll bid you adieu and head off to bed.  Habanada!

When Last I Left You…

When last I left you, on Friday afternoon, I was doing well physically, but not so great in the mental/emotional department.  Well, I fixed that.  Yeah. I went to a Grief Seminar at my church.  It was very well done and all.  Just difficult for me.  In so many ways.  I was going to leave, go home and turn off the phone, and crawl into bed for the rest of the day.  Instead, I nabbed an extra sweet roll on the way out the door, went to Walmart for some necessities, and stopped for frozen yogurt on the way home.  And when I got home I ate some more.  I think I ate some of those rosemary raisin bean balls. Nutritious AND calorie-laden.

Then I decided to read a bit of that book The Know-It-All.  Is it true that laughter is the best medicine?  Seems like it helped a little bit.  Plus a phone call from my BFF, and a call to my brother, where I shared some of the wickedly funny humor from that book.

I settled in for the night, had a very healthy, light dinner, and went to bed early.  I had plenty of time to sleep because it was Daylight Savings Time.  But I was up by 5:15am which gave me a lot of time before church.  I spent a nice amount of time reading and praying, and then I decided to watch a David Platt sermon on the computer.  I know.  How many sermons does a girl need to hear on a Sunday?  But this one was fascinating.  He did a very long interview with a fascinating young girl.  Her name is Katie Brown (she has a blog!) and at the age of 19, she decided she wanted to go to Africa to help children.  She ended up staying there, and now at 25 she is in the process of adopting 14 children (homeless kids from the slum,) as well as setting up a school, a children’s sponsorship program, and various other ministries.  Wow!  That knocked any last remnant of self-pity right out of my brain.

The day at church was so good.  So many kind people said just the right thing to me.  I got to talk to the young couple that I am working with to set up the child sponsorship program in Haiti.  After seeing Katie Brown’s story, I am pretty psyched about our little project!  They took a picture of us together to show to the people in Haiti, and it was a really good picture of me LOL.

After church I stopped at the market to get some vegetables.  I needed to have some more in the house to get my food choices back on track.  Told myself I couldn’t buy any fruit because I still had plenty at home.  I got cauliflower, asparagus, a red bell pepper, and some green beans.  Head on home, and what do I see standing on the corner in the cold damp weather in our little tiny town?  One of these little Mexican guys standing shivering in a sweatshirt selling STRAWBERRIES.  What month is this?  Guess who has a whole case of strawberries?  Very tasty too…

Today has been a very good day.  I ate, of course, some strawberries and cottage cheese.  I made a batch of that wonderful Cauliflower-Potato Bake–so yummy I had it for lunch and dinner.  And I tried something I had been thinking about for a while.  I made a batch of Spackle 2.0 and divided it into snack-sized portions as a substitute for chocolate chip cookie dough.  VERY satisfying.  For me, much better than the stuff made with beans.

I surfed around the blogs, and came across this guy’s blog.  He is a W.W. leader, and for some reason it was comforting to me to hear that a W.W. leader still has some of the same struggles that I do.  Looking for and eating junk food when traveling was one he mentioned.   More importantly, he talked about the struggle he had during a particularly emotionally painful time, how he had a 10 pound weight gain, how he kept eating healthy food and journaling and everything, but it took a year for him to turn it around and lose that 10 pounds.  I find comfort and hope in that.

Noah’s latest attempt at playing ‘little dog.’  That is an oversized ottoman, about 30″X36″, Sophie and Monk and my feet and a couple of books usually have plenty of room on there all at the same time.

And Yay!  I officially won the Presidential Bronze Medal!  It took 125 hours of various exercise to get to 40,000 points.  And then they offered to sell me various and sundry forms of said medal.  I opted to lift the image off their site and award it to myself on my blog.

I celebrated my win with a vigorous 40 minute hike.  And that’s all the news that’s fit to print around here today.  Thanks for all the great comments on my last entry.

It’s Friday!

Its Friday.  Wow.  That’s about all I’ve got to say around here.  My hand is fine.  In fact, if I had a third hand, I’d really have this whole recovery thing down pat.  Haven’t quite got a handle on the ‘feeling sorry for myself’ bit.

Anyway, after feeling morose for the better part of two days, I thought maybe I’d try to count my blessings?

1.  A storm  came in last night, and THE FLIES are gone!

2.  I can still walk.  And I am.  I’ve taken a walk every day this week, except the actual day of surgery.  Woo hoo for me.  Noah is especially thrilled, because he is getting pretty tired of the grumpy me.

3.  I am within 50 points of my bronze award on the Presidential Champions Challenge!  I’ve earned almost 40,000 points since April 27.  I guess I’ll keep going and try to get to the silver, and maybe even the gold.  Its a fun way to keep track of my exercise.

4.  For now I am the high bidder on a set of colored pencils on ebay.  We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

5.  I found a bunch of new free Dog Whisperer episodes to watch on the computer via National Geographic.

6.  ‘They’ are still paying me to stay home!  Amazing.

7.  Noah is still white, Sophie still loves me, and Mr. Monk is ever faithful.

I know there are a lot more serious things to be thankful for.  I just thought I’d share the silly things that make me smile in between being grouchy.