Addictions?

I had some lovely comments to the last post on my garden. Some encouraging words–my lantana and my hibiscus might make it over the winter!–and a warning from Mickie– “WARNING….gardening becomes addictive.” LOL. I read this comment after I arrived home with these in the back of my car:

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I can’t help it! Plants are a great bargain. You get such a lot of pleasure for such a little bit of money. To say nothing of the fact that they are full of GLORIOUS COLOR! (Lori–that is a Hot Papaya cone flower that I found at the nursery!)

I spent the day driving to the Bay Area and visiting with my mom. And that brings me to the topic of another addiction. Sugar. Holy toledo. That stuff, for me, is as bad as some of the more traditional addictive substances, like cocaine. (Not that I have personal knowledge of that!) When I say its as bad for me, what I mean is this: when I do give in and eat sugary stuff, I eat too much. Then I throw some of it away. And then I eat some more. Then I stop. But then I see some at the store and I buy some more. And then I get home and I’m upset that I bought that last bit, so I decided to portion it out and put it in the back of the freezer, and throw away half. And then I eat some of it before breakfast. Ouch. My stomach hurts.

Don’t know how much sense that paragraph makes. And I want to say that that is MY experience with it. My experience does not include lasting consequences or “the afters.” I’m lucky that way. I got right back on track today and ate exactly what I planned. I ate such healthy stuff, and it all tasted so good and so satisfying, I wonder why I ever strayed. I’m very pleased with myself tonight.

So regarding sugar being addictive, and my explanation that this is MY experience with it–I’ve been thinking about this since I watched this video of a UCSF doctor explaining exactly how sugar is a toxin and works just the same way as alcohol does in your body. It all made sense to me. And I thought “if sugar is a toxin, why would anyone ever eat it?” And then it occurred to me that alcohol is also considered a toxin, but many people drink alcohol and do not have a problem limiting their consumption. But we all know that that is not everybody’s experience. Some of them end up going to Weight Watchers Alcoholics Anonymous for the rest of their lives. LOL. Got my illustrations mixed up there. Anyway, that was what I thought about. How some people can eat a bit of sugar every day and not have a problem with it at all. And others have a problem with limiting their consumption once they start. I’m so very thankful that I never liked the taste of wine.

So that’s it. I have an addictive personality(?). I think my gardening addiction is a good thing. I don’t think it will get out of control because I am lazy. And a tightwad (I’m only willing to pay MLG so much to take care of and build more gardens!) With this addiction, I’m willing to tempt fate and see where it leads. What could be bad about having a beautiful garden to enjoy for a season? With the sugar, I’ll be keeping a tight rein on that one. I’m not going to say never. I’m just going to continue to limit the amount I have on a daily basis. And I’m going to give myself grace when I do eat more than is healthy for me.

The new plants awaiting their places in the garden–tomorrow morning’s work!

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Garden Report

Just thought I’d share some shots of changes that are happening in the garden.

I swear, the tomatoes look like they’ve grown a foot since this morning. If they actually grow  tomatoes up there, I am literally going to need a ladder to harvest my tomatoes.I am having to use string to add extra support for the tomatoes, because they have outgrown their cages, and one time they all bent over. I thought I would lose all those branches.

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The bush beans in front of them have a ton of blossoms now, and just a few miniscule beans that I can see.

I enjoy the annuals. So much fast color.

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Today MLG came over for the first time in a couple of weeks. I asked him to raise a couple of the pavers because a puddle was forming there when I watered. He not only did that, he made it so that the water would run OFF of the pavers to the side yard. He always does a little more than I even know what to ask for.

When he asked what I wanted him to do next, I said, well, you could just clean up a bit–pick up the sticks that have fallen (because I don’t like picking up sticks.) Okay, so this is what he does–he clears out another whole area of the yard!

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That part of the yard we had left “au natural” as in like the forest with all kinds of tree litter. I told him it looks so good that now I want to put another planter bed back there! Maybe next year…

I think this is called a Japanese Lantern. I am very happy with how well it is doing. The sign says it blooms all summer, and sure enough, it has been blooming since I got it!

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This hybiscus was called Pink Swirl–huge blossoms. I couldn’t resist it. Unfortunately, hybiscus usually don’t live over the winter here.

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And lantana. I really really love these little flower clusters. I have one photo as my screen saver I like them so much. This is the second one I’ve bought. And I just found out that they don’t last through the winter either. Waaagh.

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The Henry Lauder Walking Stick is doing very well in its barrel. Next year it’ll go into one of the beds.

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That’s about it for now. The garden keeps me busy watering it during these hot days. But for now I enjoy that. Its fun to see the little changes that happen almost every day.

Realtime in the Swimming Pool

Saturday afternoon. Realtime in the Swimming Pool, or How I Became a Long Distance Swimmer. Conversation with self:

ITS HOT. I SHOULD GO SWIMMING.

But its hot. I don’t want to get in the car and drive anywhere.

YOU NEED TO GET SUPER GLUE AND BUG SPRAY ANYWAY. SO JUST GO.

(Half an hour later, after looking around the internet, checking out Amazon Prime and signing up for a free month, and ordering a new swimsuit in a smaller size from Swim Outlet, I change clothes and head out the door.)

Another half hour and I am at the gym, changing into my swimsuit.

Woo hoo! Only 4 other people in the pool. I get my own lane. I should do 40 lengths. Don’t worry about the time. You’re not doing anything else, and you’ll be home soon enough.

Five minutes into the swim:

Ack. Maybe 30 lengths is enough.

After swimming 12 lengths, I put on my swim fins:

Oh, I’m feeling good. Maybe I’ll shoot for 48 lengths.

Another 20 minutes and 20 lengths go by (32 lengths total):

Maybe I’ll call it a day at 40 lengths. Then I can get in the spa. No one’s in there now. Just the way I like it. Plus, more and more people are getting in the pool. Irritating.

Ooh, I’m in the groove now. Maybe I’ll shoot for 50 lengths! Or 60 lengths! And THEN I’ll treat myself to some time in the spa!

Now at 45 minutes in the pool and 48 lengths total.

I’m gonna go for it! 60 lengths. I wonder how many lengths are in a mile? I can’t remember anymore. I can hardly wait to get home and check it out. Next time I’ll swim 100 lengths, and then I’ll be ready to do the 2.4 miles again. How many lengths was that?

There are 64 lengths in one mile. 2.4 miles is 160 lengths.

 

At 58 lengths complete:

OH NO. A STUPID KID IS GETTING IN THE SPA.  I’ll keep swimming for just a bit. He can’t last long in there. Its really hot.

At 62 lengths:

Oh, come on. Two more men getting in the spa? I’ll swim just a little bit more. Surely they will be out of the spa if I swim another 10 minutes or so.

At 72 lengths:

Aren’t you guys dying of heat prostration? Haven’t you heard its not good for you to stay in hot water for that long.? I’m only going to swim a couple more minutes.

At 76 lengths, I get out of the pool, gather my belongings, and head into the shower.

Wow. I’m glad I ordered a new swimsuit today. I guess I AM going to swim a lot this summer.

I’ve Been Meaning to Ask

I’ve been meaning to ask–does anybody out there use homemade cleaning solutions? I started making my own laundry detergent a bit ago, and last week I started using homemade fabric softener. I actually like doing laundry, but I hate paying for the detergent and softener. This is so cheap this way. People are skeptical that it actually gets stuff clean, but so far I haven’t noticed any difference.

And this morning I cleaned the whole kitchen (kinda) with my spray bottle of homemade window cleaner. An old lady in the grocery store told me about this one day as I was trying to choose a window cleaner. I looked up the formula online. I like that it doesn’t have much smell. It seemed to do a good job on the countertops, microwave, and refrigerator. Oh, and even the floor!

Recipes and Ideas

Another post full of recipe and food ideas! What can I say? Eating is something I do every day all day. I enjoy it.

Everyone knows about overnight oats, right? A couple weeks ago I had pre-planned my meals (as usual,) and I had written down steel cut oats for breakfast (because, hello, I bought SEVEN POUNDS of the stuff at Costco…) But I realized that it was going to be 110 degrees in the morning, and cooking oatmeal did not appeal. So I remembered the overnight oats. Kinda like breakfast pudding. And I came up with the idea of almond joy overnight oats. This was sooo yummy, and not too costly, calorie-wise. I made the basic overnight oats recipe (oats, chia seeds, almond milk, and yogurt,) and added about 1/2 Tbsp each of shredded unsweetened coconut, sugar free chocolate chips, and sliced almonds, and 1/4 tsp of coconut extract and some splenda to sweeten.

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Single Lady Lasagne–alas, no picture! I ate it too quickly. This was a recipe I came up with a while ago, and actually used it for one of my columns in The Quilt Life magazine. I wrote the column last winter, and the magazine just came out so I tried the recipe again. Quite delicious. I’ll post the recipe and you can read it there. Its very simple to assemble, and includes slices of zucchini, which makes it a nice big serving. The best part is no pre-cooking the lasagne noodle. Yes, for one serving, you only use one lasagne noodle!

I watch cooking shows ALL THE TIME. At the gym on the bike, and at home in the evening, if I can find something on the computer, its usually a cooking show. I really can’t eat anything those people cook. (example: the Barefoot Contessa, “Just a bit of butter to bring out the flavor” as she puts a whole cube in the pot LOL.)

Anyway, I was watching Giada (anyone else find it irritating that she is so thin and pretty and cooks like that and seems to actually eat the food, but then she’s so nice you can’t really be mad at her?) She was making some Strawberry-Rosemary Scones. Mmmm. What a nice flavor combination. I already have my low-cal scone recipe perfected, and just needed to add the strawberries and rosemary. I used Lori’s recipe for thickening fruit (adding just a bit of corn-starch) and made my own quick strawberry jam. These are fun and tasty. And a nice breakfast or dessert treat at about 150 calories. My recipe is here.

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I sprayed them with a bit of ‘butter’ and sprinkled my cinnamon splenda on top before putting them in the freezer.

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The other day I mentioned getting a little pizza at the farmer’s market, and how I liked Trader Joe’s whole wheat crust better. I finally got to a TJ’s, and I made a pizza over the weekend. I still haven’t mastered the art of making a nice round pizza crust, but it tastes just fine. A little leftover spaghetti sauce, chopped spinach, some fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes went on this one. Cut into 6 big pieces, each one is just 250 calories. And its funny, when you KNOW the calorie count, that is more than enough pizza to satisfy. But when you’re eating out and you *don’t know* the calorie count, you just keep eating and eating. Anyway, that’s what I usually do.

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Froyo. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I have an ice cream freezer (had to have one of those cuisine-art things) but it usually freezes some of the ice cream to the sides of the freezer, which is frustrating, and then when I make a batch and freeze the leftovers, its as hard as ice. This is probably because of the low fat content of what I’m making. Anyway, I tried this. And I do think this is the way to go for a single person. All I need to do is freeze the froyo solution in ice cube trays, and then process the cubes in my mini food processor for instant frozen yogurt at just the right consistency.  This was just a mix of some homemade yogurt with a little of that leftover ‘strawberry jam’ from the scone recipe. It was just right!

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And topped with three walnut halves and some SF mini chocolate chips–165 calories:

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In case you think all of my food experiments come out perfect every time, this morning I ate half of a serving of some chocolate overnight breakfast pudding that I came up with and made last night. It wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t like it. So I only ate half, and had one of my very light banana muffins on the side. Now that’s yumm! Did I tell you I came up with that recipe as a way to use up the leftover egg/milk solution from my french toast?

I Grew a Tomato!

Squee!!! I can’t believe how well my vegetable garden is growing! Look how big the bush bean plants are (that I grew from SEEDS!!) and how tall my little tomato plants are. I might have to get a ladder to pick some of them!

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And lookie what I discovered the other day:

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My very first tomatoes! I feel like a new mom.

Playing around with my new camera:

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A little volunteer–I think its a morning glory from a previous year’s plant! Isn’t the color amazing?

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Wave petunias are very happy. the little plants in the background are my basil plants THAT I GREW FROM SEED! (Yes, I feel the need to yell that I actually grew stuff from seeds!)

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Noah is always on the hunt for lizards. And there seem to be a lot of them this year. Maybe they like the stones?

Oh, did I tell you I got a new camera? I wasn’t happy with the quality of the pictures I was getting with my little camera, so I got one a step up (I hope.) So far I’m not that impressed with the quality of the pictures. But I haven’t read the instruction manual yet…

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Nikon Coolpix L820, plum colored (the color is VERY important.)

The Queen and her Beaux

Sophie wanted me to change the title to “The Queen and her Minions.”

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“No, I’m not cuddling with him. Sometimes you just have to consort with the commoners to lull them into complacency.”

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(Noah:) “Hmmmph. I think she just can’t resist my IMMENSE good looks.”

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“Oh Lord. What a monarch won’t put up with to keep peace in the kingdom.”