Pansy Parade and Pudding Report

After months (I am not exaggerating) of Noah mowing down every single pansy bloom, and me almost killing the pansies with my “treatments”–pepper, “Boundary” repellant for dogs, and Bitter Apple spray,– I decided to try feeding Noah some baby carrots every night in his supper. The little dogs get them every night. But Noah started urping them, and I had stopped giving them to him. I don’t know if its a coincidence, or its really a cure, but since I started feeding him the carrots again, he has stopped eating the pansies, and now all his “pruning” has rewarded me with the best crop of pansies I’ve ever had! Each little plant is like a bush full of flowers. Is there a better way to spend $3 than on a six-pack of pansies?

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And the pudding report. Remember I mentioned that chocolate sweet potato pudding? Well, first I tried it substituting pumpkin for sweet potatoes. Because it turned out I didn’t have any sweet potatoes. I could still taste the pumpkin, so I didn’t like that too much. I did like that it was nice and thick. So a couple days later I got sweet potatoes at the store and tried again. I added a little more cocoa powder. It was good, but for me it was not worthy. The calories come out to between 170 and 200 per serving the way I figured it. You could divide it into smaller servings if you wanted. The thing about it is, that whole recipe is very healthy, so if you liked it, it would really be a good one to keep in the rotation. For me, I’d rather eat two walnut-stuffed dates.

Aerial Views(?) and Magic Bullet Question

Well, after Lori requested an aerial view of my garden, I went out and did my best by standing on the top rung of the ladder! I don’t know if these pictures show any more than the ground view photos, but here they are.

This picture shows the shade garden and the sun garden. You can see where the stone “courtyard” ends kind of abruptly, and you can see a stack of stones next to the sun garden. We are going to extend the stones, but keep them farther apart, kind of like a path? Also, you might notice the ever present hose in this picture. I have two hoses, and I am the opposite of obsessive compulsive about them. I’m not about to wind them up after each use when I am just going to have to drag them out to water again. Oh, and you can see the new house color and the old house color in this pic! J. the contractor just paints the outside of each room as he finishes the inside.

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Moving just a little to the right you can see the new planter bed next to the sun garden. And you can also see the dogwood tree surrounded by stones. Those two clumps that look like bushes are just oaks that have been cut down. They keep trying to grow back. The stump grinder is coming with the tree guy in July. I can’t wait!

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One more view. Kinda got all three gardens in this shot.

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In this next shot, I was in the same place, but turned to the left so you can see the front area of the garden. We are going to move that atlas cedar somewhere, and probably take down a couple of the little oaks, and then that will be the next place we’ll build a planter bed.

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And here I moved to the front, outside of the fence (that is a deer fence. Not pretty, but quite practical : ) ) I really like the way MLG terraced this area. It was all his idea. I just provided the bricks. If you look close, you can see the other hose laying out there. That front planter looks a little bare, but there is a lot going on under the surface : )

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And a gratuitous Miss Bess shot. She is not that photogenic, so when I saw her looking particularly pensive, I grabbed my camera to try to get a good shot. If you’re trying to figure out what is going on in the background like I was, its just stuff–had to move everything out of my bedroom and closet in preparation for the work that’s going to be done there next week!

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And for those of you with Magic Bullet experience, I have a question. I had a Magic Bullet for a couple of years, and used it frequently. It worked great, and it didn’t really wear out, but I wanted a new one, so got one on sale after Christmas. It had an extra blade, and even more cups to use. But one day I had a bunch of ice in there, and basically what happened was that the top and the base both spun around, but were not engaged, so they actually wore some of their gears off. (The gears look like they are made out of rubber or plastic.) So I was still able to use two of the blades. But now the same thing has happened to all three of them, so the machine is completely useless. My question is: have you had anything like this happen, and if so, has Magic Bullet been responsive when you called about a problem? I will call them tomorrow, but its not worth it to me to argue with them about who was at fault. The Magic Bullet is really really convenient for making my protein shakes and smoothies, so I want to replace it one way or the other.

Garden Doings

Lori’s weekly “What’s Blooming” posts always inspire me to go back out into the garden to see what IS blooming in my yard. I keep saying there’s not much going on, but brother, when you go out looking, its surprising what you’ll find!

Here’s the view that I see when I look out my window. You can see the shade garden in the foreground, and then the newer sun garden behind it, and then you can barely see the newest raised bed behind that. MLG was over bright and early this morning to finish that job!

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And here it is. Its actually kind of hard to get a good view of this bed. I love all the angles he put into it (which made it a lot more work.) And I love the 2X6’s that he topped it with, so I can sit on it! You can see there’s one little black oak in the middle of it. For now we’re going to leave that in (its hard for either of us to cut down a tree.) But in July the tree guy is coming back, and he’s a little more ruthless with the trees. Oh, and you can see the “doggie room” back there. One of those things I should paint. We’ll see…

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And look what visited us! I always have one or two little frogs each spring, but I’ve never had such a pretty one!

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Here’s the Henry Lauder Walking Stick. I mostly took a pic of the pretty flower in front of it. I can’t remember what they are called. I just thought they were petunias, but they are a perennial–lucky for me!

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I took a picture from below looking up at the Japanese Lantern bush. Its a little unsightly this year, but its a profuse bloomer. Must investigate how to prune this one.

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And that most special plant, the star jasmine that was rescued from the dump pile last year! I thought it was dead, so threw it over the side of the hill, and MLG told me it was trying to grow! Its one of the plants I’ve had as long as I lived here, so its a little sentimental.

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Here’s the bed by the front fence. It gets plenty of sun, so I planted a row of green beans today, and a row of dwarf sunflowers in the back. The pansies look so pretty in between Noah mowing them down…

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And at the end of the row, I had just enough room for one zucchini plant. Oh, and there’s one tomato that I planted a bit ago. I also planted some giant sunflower seeds and some basil seeds.

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Here’s some cheater plants. I bought them in full bloom from the nursery–a group of delphiniums, and a pot of foxgloves. I am going to plant them in the new bed with the pink rosebush my friends gave me. Won’t that be pretty next year?

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And if you can believe it, while I was out taking these pics, what should flutter by, but this huge butterfly!! I tried my best to get a good close-up, but between his fluttering wings, Noah’s interference, and my inexperience, this was the best I got.

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I love this little herb planter. It just has mostly lemon thyme, with a Greek oregano and a chocolate mint mixed in for good measure. Those vines growing up the fence are really weeds, but they bloom and look like morning glories, so I let them go. And that red thing behind the fence? That would be my car : )

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Haha, under the “What month is it???” category, I have a couple of pots of chrysanthemums blooming!

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And these are, I think, a type of delphinium. Such a beautiful brilliant blue, but the plant itself is very rangy. Maybe next year they will be a stronger plant. I am learning to be a little more patient in the garden (as evidenced by all the “next year” comments.)

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And one last look at the new bed. I am going to stain the top railing (yes, I actually stained the sides already!) and then we will fill it with dirt and get to planting! That rangy bush in the front (flowering almond) is right next to the bed, and we are MLG is going to move it to a better location.

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Wow, I guess there is a bit of action going on in the garden. I am enjoying learning more about planting, and what goes where, and perennials and seeds and whatnot. Its a hobby I loved when I was a kid and its so fun to be able to dig in the ground again.

 

Recipe Review: Other People’s Recipes!

Here are some recent recipes I’ve tried that are truly excellent in the taste department, and not half-bad in the nutrition department either!

First up: a crockpot chicken salsa recipe. I’ve tried various versions of this recipe, but for some reason this one hit me just right! I think it had to do with the fact that the ratio of beans to chicken was not too high. I’m not a big fan of the bean, altho I have come to enjoy the flavor it can add to food (I don’t like the texture.) Anyway, the big (for me) change I made to this recipe was to substitute 8 oz (8 wedges) of Laughing Cow Lite for the 8 ounces of cream cheese. That is a savings of 520 calories for the recipe, (about 43 calories per serving.) I didn’t have limes, so they just got left out. The recipe also did not have “amount of servings” listed, so I figured that with 2 pounds of chicken and a can of beans, 12 servings seemed reasonable. Which figured out to only 150 calories per serving! (as always, I recommend you figure out your own calorie count.) Dividing the finished recipe into 12 servings was just right. And, it froze well–tasted just as good after thawing! I had this recipe in a wrap (I use La Tortilla 100 calorie wraps,) over a baked potato, and almost most awesome of all, I converted it into taco soup. I just took 2 or 3 servings, added whatever veggies I wanted, and 2 Tbsp of taco seasoning (yes, I use the pre-made stuff.) It was just delicious! This one’s a keeper. Anytime I can eat 12 servings of anything in a relatively short time period, you know its good.

Here’s another little tasty treat--Coconut and honey no-bake energy bites. And that is exactly what it is: LITTLE, TASTY, and a TREAT. Being a volume eater, I usually don’t go for LITTLE. But these are very satisfying (I can eat just one.) Be sure to do the calorie count yourself, but I came up with 80-100 calories each. The only change I made was to add some chopped walnuts. Oh, and I made some walnut butter to use in it (instead of peanut butter.) And I added a little salt : ) And I made half a recipe. Because 50 little energy bites is too much for a single girl. Another recipe that freezes just fine!

The latest recipe I’ve bookmarked to try is this Sweet Potato Chocolate pudding recipe. I do enjoy chocolate pudding, and I have too many sweet potatoes in the drawer right now, so I think I’ll try this one sooner than later. Its an intriguing idea, don’t you think?

Been Busy!

Keeping busy around here. Lots of fun stuff. Lots of food to talk about, but I’ll have to save that for another time. here’s a photo-essay of all that’s been happening.

I’m always looking at dogs on Petfinder. Sometimes I check to see what’s at our little local shelter. I couldn’t believe it when I saw this cute little pug-chihuahua cross. I have met several of these types of dogs and they always had great personalities. I went down the next day to check her out, and she was just as cute in person. So I asked my mom how she would like to have a dog again. And she wanted to try! Its been the best thing in the world for her.

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Yep, its happening again! J the contractor called, and he is going to come back and re-do my bedroom and closet while I am away at rug hooking camp the first week of June! That means, that in addition to continuing to try to empty out my bedroom and closet, I need to spend some time choosing carpet and paint colors. Aaargh. I thought I had all my choices made, but then I made the mistake of stopping by the carpet display at Lowe’s, and saw a completely different color that I liked.

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I was going to go with a rich brown with reddish undertones for the rug, and pale pale pink for the walls. But the new carpet color I saw was a kind of coral (it was called “melon.”) So I would need a different wall color to go with that.

The blue paint chips are there just because I saw a kitchen in a magazine that had a deep bright blue accent which I really liked. That’s for when and if we do the whole kitchen thing…

 

I have been quilting and sewing like crazy. I made this large quilt top, which I really like. I’ve made several actually. Now to get them quilted…

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Today MLG came over to start the new garden project. I LOVE the way it looks. He is cutting those boards and fitting them together just so. He showed me how the skill saw(?) has a little dealie-bobber that lets you set the angle you want the cut made! Ooh, that made me want one of those. Its not finished yet, but you can get the general outline.

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While he was working on that, I kept busy weeding some of the beds, and moving a large stack of wood from the back  to the front. When I finished with all of that, I rewarded myself with a trip to the nursery. I got quite a few plants, but here are a couple of the most interesting ones.

I couldn’t figure out what this little plant was. It almost looked like a perfect little bonsai tree. Guess what it is? BASIL! With tiny little leaves. Cute, huh?

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And I love the color of this plant. It was called a chameleon plant. And it said it was an “aggressive” ground cover. Well, I don’t think anything can be very aggressive in our rocky soil, so I plan to put it in the ground (not in one of the beds.)

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And lastly, when MLG was exhausted from working in the heat all day, he remembered that I had asked if he could figure out a way to make a ramp for Mr. Monk. And so he fashioned one out of a piece of leftover wood I found laying around. I put a rug over it, and that provided just enough traction that he feels secure walking up it!

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Gratuitous Sophie shot: “Waiting for Popcorn.” I’m not sure why she was waiting for the popcorn on the chair where I couldn’t reach her. Who can know the mind of Sophie? (except Shelley : ) )

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I’ve made several trips to the Bay Area–one to deliver the little doggie, and another to take a load of stuff to my sister. I know I will be really busy for the next couple of weeks before rug camp, so blogging will probably be pretty sporadic.

Okay, Here’s Some Garden Pics

Well, I don’t know if I should rant more or less often : ) Thank you all so much for the kind comments. I wasn’t actually the receiver of any of the negative blogs or comments. I just get too riled up about that stuff sometimes.

Anyway, after I wrote that there was nothing worth photographing in the garden, I went out to see if there was anything snap worthy. I found a few things : )

This is the shade garden (right outside the front door. St. Francis has come back out for the summer.

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The other side of the shade garden. The huechera have made a good show this year. And you can see the last of the white bleeding heart there.

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This shot shows the outline of the new raised bed we MLG will put in. It will be made of cedar, so there will be a nice contrast of stone and wood in the garden. Again, MLG’s idea (for any new readers, MLG stands for the gardener guy who helps with all the heavy stuff. He is so good at doing things that other readers said he needed to be elevated above just ‘gardener. MLG stands for Master Landscaping Guy.)

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Some columbine. They are some of the last plants in pots. I need to find a place for them in the ground.

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My little apple tree! Isn’t it pretty? MLG made a little brick border for it, and then re-arranged my pots on either side of it.

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This is the Campydown Weeping Elm. When they get mature they are really beautiful trees. I hope I get to see that! Those little pink flowers (Sweet Williams?) were ones I planted at the end of the summer. I was so happy to see that they made it through the winter!

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Some blue perennial. Anybody? Name of plant? And what do you do with perennials? They seem to want to fall over. You can see I made them a little bamboo and yarn support system.

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Honestly, this is the kind of thing that delights me in my garden. A little columbine that just self-seeded, and then actually grew enough to bloom!

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So you can see, there really isn’t a lot going on in the garden right now. I seem to have a blue and yellow theme going on this year. Hopefully those little plants will take off soon. We had a flash thunderstorm here the other day (shades of Texas!) and it gave them quite a battering.

 

The Garden…and Other Things I Haven’t Written About

This morning I spent about 3 hours working in the garden. And I thought about taking pictures, but it just seemed like the garden is in that in-between stage when there’s nothing particularly interesting to show. Hopefully, in a few weeks, my work will be rewarded with lots of pretty flowers to share with you.

But while I worked, I thought about all the things I HAVEN’T written about lately. And how, just like the garden, even though I haven’t written about those things, it doesn’t mean the work is not being done.

Just because I haven’t written much about weight loss/maintenance DOESN’T MEAN I AM FAT. GIVE ME A BREAK. Maybe I have already said everything I could possibly think to say about the subject. Maybe I am busy living my life, and going to the computer to repeat my thoughts about what is necessary to lose and maintain weight has been usurped by much more interesting creative impulses.

Every day of my life I work on maintaining my weight loss. Some days it seems absolutely effortless. And some days it seems like a full time job. When I mention to people that I used to weigh a lot more, and we’re discussing keeping the weight off, I almost always say the same thing–“Its hard work.”

Just because I am not writing about food or recipes or low-cal cooking DOESN’T mean I have gone off the rails. FAR FROM IT. I’ve tried some really excellent new recipes lately. They were other people’s recipes, and they were tasty and healthy and low calorie. I didn’t even have to adjust them. They’re all out there on the web. I just didn’t feel the need to share them. And sometimes food tastes better than it looks. That’s the case with my latest try.

Just because I haven’t mentioned the gym lately, doesn’t mean I sit for hours in my Lazy Boy in front of the boob tube. How many times and in how many different ways can I say “I went to the gym. I did my weights workouts. The same exercises at the same weights. I got on the exercise bike, and I rode for the same distance in the same amount of minutes.” And on the other days, “I took Noah for a walk, and I came home and did my PT exercises.” And in case anybody’s wondering–yes, I am in an exercise rut. Its a rut I like very much. Which means that I will keep exercising consistently. Which is one of the most important factors in weight loss maintenance.

Oh, and one more thing. Just because I do not post pictures of myself that often, it does not mean I have gained a ton of weight and am embarrassed by my appearance. I live alone. My arms are short. You do the math.

Maybe, just maybe, if I am ever really healed of the chronic condition of WEIGHT, there will be no more need to write ad nauseam about the daily vagaries of my LIFE WITH FOOD.

I love you guys and I love blogging. I love the comments and “conversations” we have on this blog and some of my other friends’ blogs.

But sometimes the drama and the judgmental attitudes expressed by other bloggers just gets to me. Their opinions are arrogant and mean-spirited, and they are saying those things about people they don’t even really know. If you want to write about your own shortcomings, that’s fine. But don’t drag all the rest of us in with your irresponsible blanket statements.