Talking Back

Sorry for the absence.  One thing you can say about me is that I’m consistently inconsistent…  Last week was one of those weeks that I really try to avoid.  Over-filled with too many activities.  It wasn’t really my fault, and it wasn’t really anybody else’s fault.  Just a convergence of events that could not be changed or delayed.  In short, I met with three realtors, and then chose one to list my dad’s house.  Vicky was out of town for a week, so my little job was a little bigger.  The pastor from Haiti (where we have our child sponsorship program) was in town, and we met with him (in person for the first time!) to work on some of the details of the program.  I had scheduled a lunch out with a friend that I hadn’t seen for several months.  And, I was scheduled to sing at the Ladie’s Tea on Saturday!  Egad!   But you know what?  I made it through, and I had some real food victories along the way.

But first, I wanted to share some of the great comments I received on the last entry.  Sometimes I think blogging is so weird.  I blab on and on forever, and then some of you are so kind as to make pertinent comments, and on my best days, I will reply to those.  But when life gets so hectic, the comments just sit there, and that is the end of the conversations.   “blah blah blah blah blah” I go. and you reply,  “oh, well have you thought of blah blah?”  splat.  the end.  Don’t you think that’s weird?

ANYWAY, some of those comments were really really helpful to me over the past few days.  So thank you!  Sharon said simply “Do the next right thing.”  Okay, I can do that.  Lori talked about “the line that you cross between being accepting and complacent. I think with complacency comes weight gain. Accepting doesn’t mean you stop trying, but just accepting that where you are right this minute is okay. Sure, it may not be quite where you want to be, but it is not a reflection on the person you are.”  Yes, of course.  I hadn’t quite thought of it that way.  PJ  suggested “keep it simple. quality. really satifying visually and texturally” in regards to my food choices. Yes.  That was something I could really relate to.  DebraSY just said “RRAAaaar!  Dig in with your heels and fight back!” That was something that I really appreciated hearing, especially from Debra.  And Karen left a note about being in a similar muddle, which made me click over to her blog, where she had written an excellent post about practicing both acceptance and improvement.  Now that is an excellent thought!  A little unrelated, but it made me very happy, was Caron’s note that she recommends my homemade yogurt instructions to people who are interested. I appreciate so much all of the comments people leave, so I feel a little rude for only listing these.  Just know that I love all of them!

I had quite a few challenging food “situations” in the past few days, and I’ve been so very happy in how I’ve handled them.  The best one was the ladie’s tea.  I was totally stressing out over NOT wanting to eat the food there, but worrying that I would feel pressured to eat it, more by myself than others.  I knew if I sat down at one of the fancy tables I would eat.  So I went in the kitchen area where they were just starting to prepare all the plates of fancy little foods, and I asked if they needed help.  For once they said yes.  I was so happy helping out, arranging the food, and not at all tempted to eat it.  And then they left me to arrange the dessert tiers all by myself!  I put out about 250 little dessert tidbits on those plates, and I did not even lick my fingers.  Cause I knew if I licked my fingers I would take a few home for later LOL.  If you’re interested, here is a link to the song that I sang.  Its a beautiful song by JJ Heller “What Love Really Means.”  And then I went straight from the tea to our meeting with Pastor Gilbert!  It all went really well, but when I left that meeting, I knew that all the stressful things from the week were over and done with.  I came home, put on my shorts, and sat in my chair with the two little dogs on my lap for hours!  Lovely.


One Good Day

Honestly, for the past few days, I’ve been thinking that I was doomed.  Doomed to gain all my weight back, I mean.  Just what I feared from the very start–that it would all disappear, and I would go back to the way (weight) I was before, just like in the movie “Awakenings.”  And I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about it.

Make no mistake about it.  I have been in a gaining trend.  And this past weekend when I was out of town, I was very unhappy with my image in the mirror.  I know.  All that stuff I’ve said about accepting my body image…  I’ve had some stressful stuff to deal with the past two weeks, and there were a couple of times I COULDN’T STOP EATING.  Believe it or not,  the stress was more about other people and things that were out of my control, instead of the anxiety that used to make me overeat.  Even when I wasn’t stressed, I was just eating a little too much.

So I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know I had one good day today.  I wrote down my four meals and one snack and stuck right to them.  (Ha–I should probably eat my last snack and go immediately to bed so the spell won’t be broken!)  I chose low calorie, nutrient dense foods so I wouldn’t get too hungry between meals.  And I even thought a little bit about ‘its okay to be hungry.’  And tonight when I was working on a new experimental low calorie recipe for dinner just because that’s what I wanted to eat, I thought, well, this isn’t the behavior of a person who has given up.  So we’ll see.

That recipe I was making?  Turned out pretty darn good!  I was inspired by Helen’s cauliflower recipe and the fact that I had a head of cauliflower in the refrigerator.  I didn’t have any of the other ingredients in her recipe though, so I tried something different.  Mexican Cauliflower Pork Casserole.  Quite yummy!  And a big serving, and when I plugged the ingredients into caloriecount, I was very happy with the stats on it.

(Honestly, sometimes I think a lot of my food pictures look like cat food, but you’ll have to take my word for it–they taste good!)

A few other good food ideas from the past week:

Pina Colada Yogurt.  Just a serving of my homemade yogurt with a teaspoon of unsweetened coconut and a little coconut extract, topped with some crushed pineapple and a sprinkle of granola.

I am in love with turkey burgers.  And honestly, I like them just as much without the bun, plus, they’re a whole lot less messy to eat.

Okay, this one veers into processed food a bit, but it sure was a tasty combo.  A serving of strawberries with a spray of reddi whip light on top, paired with a caramel rice cake (50 calories.)  Yumm yumm.

I am fascinated with the little froggies that appear at my front door.  This little guy has perched up on the door knob for the past two days.  How did he get here all by himself, and why does he like it up there?  I worry about him.

And finally, an update on the sheep rug.  I was very pleased when I took it off the frame to take these photos.  It looks better from a distance than I thought.  Still a lot to do, but I am making steady progress now.  Of course, rug camp is in 2 1/2 weeks, so I don’t think I’ll finish it.

Close-ups.  I dyed some of the wool for the grass myself, so I am very happy about how that turned out.  I used some angora sweaters, so that adds a neat texture to it.  (Rugs are traditionally hooked with plain wool.)

So that’s about it for tonight.  I have some busy, packed, slightly stressful days ahead.  I am glad I have some food pre-cooked for ready-to-eat meals.

I Should Write a Blog

Hey, that’s a better title than the  alternative titie, “I flushed my glasses down the toilet.”  I DID.  Can you believe it?  Never mind the details.   So my alternative methods of seeing are my old contacts (tried those yesterday and remembered why I decided to stop wearing contacts.  Its like there’s a constant glare in my left eye.)  Today I am making do with my glasses that developed a film on the anti-glare coating.  So its like wearing glasses that seem like they always need to be cleaned.  But at least I can see.  When did I get like this? I used to be able to see the tiniest things perfectly.

Anyway, I don’t have anything outstanding to say, so thought I’d just chat about this and that.

Went to the ladie’s retreat last weekend.  It was in Tahoe, and honestly, for me, there is probably not a more beautiful place on earth.  I grew up spending a week at Lake Tahoe almost every summer, so there is the nostalgic component to it as well.

No more ladie’s retreats for me though.  TOO MUCH FOOD!!!  In addition to the three gigantic meals they serve you, there seems to be an unwritten rule that a never-ending array of snack items must be available at all times.  Honestly, aren’t these the same women who are complaining about their weight, and trying to lose weight the rest of the year?  Anyway, I am not actually blaming them.  But for me, it is too hard to resist that much tempting food, and I was pretty miserable (as were my cabin-mates) by the end of the weekend.  I loved the speaker, and I loved the worship time.  But I don’t particularly enjoy spending that much time in that close a proximity to that many women LOL.  Again, its me, not them.  To me, my idea of retreat is to spend some time alone with the Lord, and reading/thinking/praying.  So I might go on retreat again, but it will be a different kind of retreat.

Some good food pics from the past few days:

I never tried this before.  I usually eat my yogurt unflavored, with walnuts or granola or muesli, or sometimes on top of chopped fruit.  First, did I tell you about making the strawberry cubes.  I took some strawberries, pulverized them in the food processor and then tried to strain them to get most of the seeds out, and put them in ice cube trays to freeze like I do the mashed bananas.  I thought they would come in handy for toppings and such.  And they have!  So I had thawed out one banana and one strawberry cube, and I mixed them up with 1/2 cup of plain (homemade) yogurt.  Quite yummy.  And it stayed nice and thick too.  Of course I had to put some bananas on top.  Same  idea as that frozen yogurt I showed you the other day.

Southwestern salad.

Topped with my favorite Chevy’s salsa, no need for dressing.

Not sure if this will make sense to you, but I was VERY excited to get this drawn today.  Rug camp is coming up, and once again I am scrambling to get my project ready to go.  I have had this idea for a long time, but I am always afraid to draw, so I put it off  for as long as possible.  My friend said, ‘I bet if you just set two hours aside to sketch and draw, you can get it done.’  And I said, ‘well, yes, if I would set two hours aside for ANYTHING, I could get a lot done.’  Hmmm.  I think I have a problem with being distracted.  Anyway, I took her advice, and it took me less than two hours to get this done.  It is my vision of the Bible passage

“Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
 Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise
 before the Lord, for he is coming!”

The class I am taking at rug camp is on doing a rug in the Klimt style.  That’s why the drawing is so full of little shapes and curliques.  And if anyone is wondering, I am working like mad to try to get the sheep rug finished, but I don’t think I’ll make it.

So, my last thought of the day is this.  Hooray for Dietgirl.  She is a real person.  She had a great successful weight loss that took a long time, she wrote a great book about that experience, and now, years later, she still struggles with her weight/eating/body image.  Just this week alone I have gone from ‘deciding’ that I am going to eat very stringently and get my weight down to 125, to saying, forget about it, that’s not going to happen.  And its not like I said forget about it because I wanted to pig out on junk food.  No way.  I was just enjoying way too much all the great healthy food I have.  Started out the day with my fabulous quinoa, got hungry before lunch so had a really good smoothie made with whey (leftover from my yogurt,) almond milk, a little yogurt, strawberry and banana cubes, and some protein powder.  That was yummy.  So then I wasn’t hungry for lunch until 2:30, and I had strawberries (some of those really great vine-ripened ones) and  cottage cheese and walnuts.  And then I had one of the blueberry chia muffins.  I didn’t need it, but I sure enjoyed it.  So then I wasn’t hungry for dinner until 7pm, and I had a great piece of salmon, an artichoke, and some leftover roasted brussel sprouts.  And I wasn’t really hungry, but I made some froyo with the yogurt and strawberry and banana cubes.  So yes, you can eat really healthy food and NOT lose weight.  That’s how its done.

Ha! Just noticed this feature “reblog” so am trying it here for the first time. Hope you’ll try these muffins. They freeze well. I wrapped each in tin foil so I can just take one out and re-warm in the toaster oven for a just-baked taste!

There’s No Place Like Home

Its not just Dorothy who thinks that!  Even before I got to the airport on my way out of town, I was thinking about how much I love my peaceful evenings at home with the doggies.  We have gotten into quite a lovely routine these days.  Usually about 5 pm the natives get restless (interpretation:  Sophie starts reminding me it is dinnertime.)  So I take all of them for a nice walk, then come home and usually read Lori’s blog (cause you shouldn’t exercise and eat immediately afterward?) and then feed them, and then feed me.  Okay, that part is not peaceful.  But here’s the good part.  After we all have eaten and ‘gone poddy,’ we come back in and get in our places.  Noah stretches out on the floor and just zones out.  I get in my  chair with my current project, and Monk and Sophie watch anxiously for the signal to get in my lap.  They settle in, and THAT’S IT.  We’re set for the night!  When its time for bed, Noah goes outside, and I carry the two little ones to their crates and they never make a peep (compared to other times they are in their crates and feel they must constantly remind me that they NEED TO GET OUT.)  I love this time, and to me it has equal value to any extravagant trip I could take. I just need to remind myself of that occasionally.

Its pretty peaceful most mornings too!

Sophie, in the bed under the desk, as close as she can possibly get to me without being in my lap:

Mr. Monk in ‘his’ chair:

And the new and improved Noah, the sleeping version!

One last bit from the trip:  Its all about the color!!

When I say I got “new threads,”  I mean it literally!!

And just “a little bit” of fabric…

I started this collection of more muted, small print fabrics in response to my love for the beautiful detailed Japanese quilts.  There were 65 quilts from Japan at the Paducah show!

Ooh, and I almost forgot that I had gotten this!!  This is fiber for spinning my own yarn–a gift from my spinning/knitting friend that I met in Nashville!  Aren’t these colors glorious?

When I got home, everything had really leafed and budded out and looked so green and pretty.  Spring came pretty late this year.

This Japanese maple has the prettiest pink leaves when it comes out in the spring.

I really like this one–lime green moon-shaped leaves.  A little different than most Japanese maples that you see.

My lilac put on quite a show this year, now that it has gotten so tall that it can get some sun!

Its an English lilac.  I love the heaviness of the buds, and the delicate color and smell.

Finally.  Back to my own food.  I had some good food on this trip.  Overindulged a bit.  Looking back, nothing stood out as absolutely outstanding.  And by the end of the trip, both me and my Australian room mate were seeking vegetables!!

Before I got home, I thought about what I wanted to do to get the vacation weight off (its mostly already gone, so I guess it was just water or travel weight,) and I decided I would really make an effort to eat more vegetables and protein, and limit grains to one serving a day.  I went to the grocery store and stocked up on vegetables, as well as getting supplies to make my yogurt (which I strained to make “greek style.”  It is a lovely batch of yogurt.)  I’ve stuck very well to that plan this week.  It sure wasn’t hard to eat more vegetables. It was a privelege!

Last night I had a new idea for dessert.  This was so fantastic!  I only like the ‘tart’ frozen yogurt at the froyo shops.  This was 3 of my frozen banana cubes, and 3 Tbsp of my yogurt  swirled together in the mini food processor.  Absolutely perfect.  No sweetener needed at all.  Topped with just a few chopped pecans and some mini chocolate chips.

And finally, the BIG REVEAL!!  This is the muffin recipe that Sharon and I worked on together.  Sharon wanted to make chia muffins that were low fat, high fiber, and high protein.  So we googled a recipe, and then started futzing around, adding stuff to increase the protein content without adding too much fat or carbs.  The muffins we made were very good, kind of like a cornbread texture(?) and were very filling.  I knew I wanted to come home and fool around a bit more, adding a little fat for flavor, and just a bit of sweetener.  Sharon and I have shared a few ideas by mail, and then I asked Vicky if she thought 1/4 cup of coconut oil was okay for 12 muffins.  I meant, for the taste and texture.  Vicky did a little math in her head and said, no, 1 tsp of oil is not too much for you to have in one day.  Okay…  

Anyway, I made these this morning, and oh, my.  They were maybe TOO good, if you know what I mean.  I made some of them with blueberries, others with raspberries, and a few with dried cherries.  They are all safely ensconced in the freezer.  The stats run from 145-210 calories, depending on whether or not you add the coconut oil, and whether or not you use fresh or dried fruit.  They have a good percentage of chia seeds and flaxseed meal, and all of them have 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per muffin.  My only complaint about them is that there is a lot of ingredients and they took a bit of time to make.  I didn’t notice that when Sharon and I were working together on them!  But after a little less than an hour, I had 15 muffins to put in the freezer.  I’ll get that recipe written up soon and add a link to it!

The end.  Even though there is no place like home, I am leaving in a few hours for a women’s retreat.  It is a speaker I love very much, and it is at Lake Tahoe–I couldn’t resist the opportunity.  I’ll be back home in 48 hours!!

It was Fabulous!

It was FABULOUS!!  LOL, you’ve got to say that with a Boston accent and great enthusiasm.  It was the tour director’s favorite phrase.  But she was right.  It was fabulous, and really, she and the bus driver worked SO HARD, and made every part of the tour easy and pleasant.

The tour started and ended in Nashville, but the main attraction was the Quilt Show in Paducah, Kentucky.  I had signed up to be paired up with someone (taking my chances!) since it was a lot more money to have a single room.   The first night I thought I had hit the lucky jackpot!  I had a room all to myself!  But when we got to our hotel in Paducah (where we stayed for five nights) I had a roommate.  Luck was with me again.  I shared a room with a charming woman from Australia!  Aside from not understanding each other half the time (its not just the accent–there are whole words and phrases that we don’t have in common) we got along great, and it was a real learning experience for me.  There were women from Australia, England, New Zealand, and Japan on this tour!  I Know!  Some of you are thinking “TO GO TO A QUILT SHOW?!?”  I’m telling you, this show is a BIG DEAL to us quilters!

Unfortunately, they had signs posted that  photographs were not to be shared on the internet, so I can’t show you pictures of some of the fabulous quilts.  If you’re really interesting, click here to see the Best in Show quilt (all the gold on that quilt is threadwork!)  And here’s a link to one of the other top winners.  To be very honest, although I admire the extreme workmanship in both of these quilts, they are nothing that I aspire to.

So I’ll just give you a quick run-down of the other parts of the trip.

Can you believe this place was a REST STOP?  Kentucky sure knows how to do it up big!  It was a visitor information center too.

Oh, this is the one picture of quilts that I was pretty sure I could share.  This was the concert/show that my old friend Ricky Tims put on.  He was on his way to becoming a concert pianist/stage musician when he got diverted by the quilt world.  So he put his talents to good use, and entertains quilters with his music and story telling.  And this time he was able to use the stage props to show a retrospective of all his quilts.  We were able to have dinner one night and enjoyed talking about–what else?  Dogs and quilts and life.

Fast forward through five days of walking, shopping, looking, eating, and more walking, and this was the beautiful place that they took us for dinner the last night, located at The Land Between the Lakes at a place called Patty’s Settlement.

Isn’t this the neatest way to use pots to show off a flower garden?

So Sunday we headed back to Nashville.  There was supposed to be a tour of Nashville, and lunch at the Opryland Hotel before they dropped us off at the airport.  I did not believe that they would have time to give us a tour.  But sure enough they did!

This is supposed to be an exact replica of The Parthenon in Greece!  It was massive.

Then they had this gigantic cement map of Tennessee, like a football field long!  I found Nashville right away.  But I had to wander around a while to find Knoxville.

We drove through Centennial Park, and came to this “perfect” view of the State Capital.  That’s the bus driver goofing around.  He was a really great asset on the tour.  He was so helpful, and willing to go above and beyond, taking extra little side trips to help various people.

And  a last view of the Opryland Hotel.

I always take a little handwork project with me on trips.  Kind of like a security blanket.  I actually had time to work on this quilt.  It was something I had started quite a while ago, and then put aside.  I was still thinking about my circles, and I decided to try putting some of them on top of this quilt.  I really liked the way it added to the quilt.

So, y’all, that’s the end of my report.  Kind of a boring report.  But I’m so tired, and I have so much to do this week, I’m feeling a little frazzled.  Plus, I am looking forward to chatting about regular life back at home.  See you tomorrow!

Where Do I Start?

To borrow the language from some of my favorite cooking shows, this vacation had a lot of different components to it, which added to the complexity and the “flavor” of the experience!

Who flies across the country to spend three days with a person they’ve never met?  Only a blogger, I think!  Of course, I ‘knew’ Sharon from reading her blog for the past two years, and I felt that we would get along well, and I was right!  Sharon was such a gracious hostess.  She has written all about our time together, so I will not elaborate here, except to say THANK YOU once again to Sharon for her time and generosity.  Sharon and I developed a really fabulous muffin recipe that I will share in a separate blog.

Here’s a picturama of our hike in the Smokey Mountains!

Everything is so green in Tennessee–I love it!  Kind of a young green, if you know what I mean.

We saw this deer in the middle of the stream, which seemed so unusual.  Later, when she moved, we could see that she looked pregnant?  Hormones, maybe?

These little log bridges were a bit scary!

I have a bit of an obsession with stumps.  Isn’t this beautiful, though?

And we made it to the waterfall!!

I loved that you could get right up next to the waterfall!

And photographic proof that we were there!  You know, I think these national parks underestimate their mileage by quite a bit.  It sure seemed a lot longer than 5 miles round trip to me!  But worth every single step.

Next, Sharon and I drove to Nashville to spend the day with Cammy.  What fun!  (and why is everyone TALLER and THINNER in person than I thought they were?)  Hey, nobody says to me “You’re taller and thinner than I thought you were LOL.”  I guess nobody imagined that I was 4′ 8″ and 110 pounds?  Anyway, we had another great day, and Cammy wrote all about it here, so I won’t try to improve on her report.

We went to the Opryland Hotel, which was a mammoth place, and included INDOOR waterfalls!

And gorgeous flower plantings.

It would have been just plain weird if Cammy and I had met and frozen yogurt was NOT included.  This was CiCi’s, and it was really delicious.  And much more decorated than most of the froyo places I’ve been!

I had a day to recuperate from all the festivities, and then an old friend from my spinning and knitting days drove up to meet me in Nashville.  The last time we saw each other was in 2003, when we had the great experience of co-teaching (actually I was assisting her) at a national spinner’s conference.  It was like no time had passed at all, and we had so much fun talking dogs and knitting and life.  We went to a gorgeous yarn shop, and I spent too much money, and then we went to a big mall and sat in the courtyard and knitted and talked some more.  What a great day.

And then the quilt show tour began.

If you can stand it, come back for more tomorrow!  I know I included a ton of photos, but I came home with 400 pictures on my camera, so consider yourselves lucky LOL.