Weekend in the Fall Garden

Fall is definitely in the air. It improves my mood, just to see leaves falling, and cooler night temperatures. We are still having lots of days with highs of 80, and we still aren’t having enough rain. That leaves me with watering to do that I don’t think I should be doing in the fall.

Anyway, there’s nothing like getting a few plants as a motivation to get you out into the garden to do some work. Friday I picked up some more ground covers, and a package arrived in the mail from Lori!! Lily of the Valley, and some cleome seeds. That was more than enough motivation to spend some time in the yard Saturday morning!

This part of the rock work is not completed, but I wanted to get some ground cover in there and growing before it gets any colder. I am using Elfin Thyme. It seems to grow really well, and is pretty hardy.

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See, there it is:

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This plant, that has tiny blue flowers that blow in the breeze, has done really well, and it is a favorite with the bees. I usually like showier flowers, but this one is a keeper.

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The lantana is still putting on a good show. As long as I get this in the right place, it blooms non-stop.

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I had two pots of geraniums that had to be moved when we did some of the front garden work. I just put them outside the fence in front of the house, and they have done really well there. And, the deer haven’t bothered them! I think this is something I will repeat next spring.

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On the other side of the garden, this winter camellia is blooming early.

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And the petunias are getting a bit bedraggled, but their color is more brilliant than usual.

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The Japanese flowering maple (Abutilon) is huge, and finally putting out a lot of blooms. You can see that the pine needles are falling everywhere…

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Close up:

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Couldn’t resist including this beautiful rose. I wish it was in my garden, but it was just growing in the corner of the local car mechanic’s.

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All is well and slowing down in the Fall Garden. Noah enjoys his perch, where he can keep a close watch on the neighbors in either direction.

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Tomorrow is Noah’s birthday. He is six years old. If you want to see some pictures of the world’s cutest fluffiest white puppy, click here. Noah was quite a handful to raise (he probably would say the same about me,) and his whole history has been chronicled here and there on the blog.

 

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The Best

My new dental hygienist has convinced me that I NEED a better tooth brush. She specifically recommended the Sonicare toothbrush. So of course Sonicare has about a million options. One of the things she talked about was the UV Sanitizer as an additional way to decrease bacteria. The Sonicare with the UV Sanitizer is about $200. That ain’t happening. I have narrowed my choices to the Sonicare Series 2 because it gets rid of SIX TIMES the plaque, and its only $49. The other option is not a Sonicare. Its called an iBrush (clever name, apparently no relation to Apple products.) It has the huge number of rotations per minute just like the Sonicare, AND it has the UV Sanitizer, and it is priced at $69. For somebody who spends a lot of time trying to choose between the toothbrush that is $1 and the ones that are 2/$3, this is a big investment, and I want to get THE BEST! Anybody out there have any opinions or experience with these products?

Next, and interestingly enough, it just might be part of the reason I need the super-deluxe toothbrush, I need to know which is THE BEST brand of candy corn. I never buy candy corn, because I am afraid I will get bad candy corn, and I will still eat it and be disappointed. Weird, huh? Anyway, which is the best tasting, freshest candy corn out there? I might need to get some before the season ends.

A Foodie Report

A few weeks ago, I was enticed by Lori’s report of a crockpot enchilada recipe. I finally made those enchiladas, but I didn’t use the crockpot. Or the recipe. I just winged it. Quite yummy, but not exactly low calorie. About 200 calories per enchilada, but so far I’m eating them two at a time… I like them best with some fresh tomatoes and romaine lettuce.

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I was writing some recipe blogs for The Quilt Show, and got some good pictures for that. Here’s my take on strawberry pancakes. Perfectly legit “diet” breakfast. Only about 250 calories for these yummy protein pancakes topped with fresh strawberries, and a few mashed strawberries mixed with SF syrup.

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Here’s another take on the frozen yogurt granola bars. This time with granola, fresh peaches, frozen cherries, and a few walnuts and chocolate chips for good measure.

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The great pumpkin season has started! I made my first batch of Pumpkin Custard a couple of nights ago. At 100 calories per serving, its good for dessert, a snack, or even breakfast. And the house smells DELICIOUS  while its baking. Oh, and I also tried Diane’s recipe for baked apple slices. Totally indulgent. And you get the good house smell as well.

Tonight I made pizza. I always make it the same way. I use the Trader Joe’s whole wheat dough, measure out the toppings, and keep a running count of the calories, and then divide by the number of slices I cut. It usually comes out to about 200 calories per slice. And as I said on Helen’s blog, I had a mini-food tantrum (c. Helen) and ate two slices of pizza for dinner, skipped the salad. There were lots of veggies on that pizza 🙂 (this one had mushrooms, onions, red bell peppers, fresh tomato slices, and basil, with fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of asiago cheese.)

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Sophie loves food too, and has to work at keeping that svelte figure. Recently she changed from eating pink flowers to snacking in the herb garden in an attempt to increase her daily greens.

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Its very fun to be creative with food! Have a great weekend–get in the kitchen and try something new!

Continuing the Conversation

After I finished the last Chit Chat post, I thought of a couple of other things I wanted to discuss. And those same topics were mentioned in some of the comments, so here goes.

Mickie mentioned portion size. Yes, portion size. That is a big issue for me. It is why I tend to eat very low fat foods. So I can have a bigger portion size. Four walnut halves is not that much fun. But a big old handful of walnuts? Yumm. Its also a lot of calories, and it doesn’t keep me satiated for very long. So 90% of the time I stick with the four walnut halves. I still have a lot of measuring cups that I use to measure out food. Its not any more work to wash measuring cups than serving spoons. And it keeps me accountable. I still put my salad in a tablespoon measure before I put it on my salad.

Anyway, I think portion size is something that can really be an important factor in whether or not your weight loss attempts are successful.

Kittie made a good comment about the decisions that she developed as she was losing weight, and then ended by saying that those are still the decisions that she uses now, saying “nothing has really changed.” I had been thinking the opposite about myself–how the foods I eat have changed over time. How I used to eat certain foods all the time while I was successfully losing weight, and now I just avoid those foods. There are lots of them, but the two main ones I was thinking about were Luna Bars and Cool Whip Lite. I had Cool Whip Lite with EVERYTHING. And Luna Bars became a “healthy” substitute for the brownies that I made and consumed very frequently. So the Cool Whip Lite. Well, its just not a healthy choice, right? I mean I don’t think it even has any real food ingredients in it. It sure was tasty, though 🙂 And the Luna Bars, I started thinking about them because I was looking for a substitute for my Quest Bars, and I bought a couple of them. They don’t really have a good nutritional profile either. Only 8 grams of protein for 180 calories, and too much sugar. Not a whole lot different than a candy bar.

So since I started losing weight, I have made various changes to my diet. I embraced the low fat high fiber diet that was encouraged by Weight Watchers. Then I moved away from “diet” foods, and more towards a whole food diet, especially when I started working with Vickie, my personal trainer. In the last couple of years, in an attempt to lose some weight, I have added back a few processed sugar free foods, like SF pancake syrup, and SF chocolate pudding, and some protein powders, and of course, my Quest Bars.

And that is my final topic: Quest Bars. PJ mentioned that they were like crack to her. I have thought about this. Because I REALLY liked Quest Bars. Were they crack for me? Did I need to eliminate them? I pretty much had them every day, and I looked forward to it. But I never wanted a second one, like I do with cookies or candy. One was always satisfying, and it really did keep me full for a long while (because of the 20 grams of protein.) So I used them as a mini-meal substitute. Did you notice I was talking in the past tense?

I ordered my Quest bars directly from the company, because it was the best deal, and I felt like I got the freshest bars that way. A couple of months ago the order came and after I had had a couple of different bars, I thought, either my taste has changed, or the Quest bars have changed. I sent a note to the company, asking if they had changed their recipe. Sure enough, I got a nice reply, stating the changes they had made, and the reasons for those changes. Well, I wrote back, telling her why they weren’t as tasty to me. And she wrote back, saying they were still working out their new formula, and offered to replace the entire order for free! Amazing customer service. The new bars she sent were better, but still not like the old ones to me. I think it might be because they changed to truvia (not sure about this) and I don’t particularly care for truvia. Either which way, I decided to write to tell her about my thoughts, and that I would not be ordering any more bars for a while. And she offered to refund my money, which I did not take, because I was still eating the bars. THEN, just last week, I got a note saying that she was sending me a couple of bars of their newest flavor, Pumpkin Pie, free of charge. Honestly, that is the best customer service I have received in a long time.

But sadly, it leaves me without my Quest bars. I will probably be trying out some homemade protein bar recipes. Or maybe I’ll substitute some real food 🙂

Garden Report

It rained! It rained!! After months of no rain, we finally had a nice day and a half of rain. It was so nice to take a walk last night and not have a dust cloud following me and Noah like Pigpen in the Peanuts comics. I checked the weather this morning, and no rain predicted for the next fifteen days. Sigh…

Yahoo! I have a compost bin!! I never wanted to bother with the whole compost thing, but MLG takes my garbage away for me every two weeks, and because I eat so much fresh fruit and veggies, it was always VERY heavy, and usually soggy. Yuck. So I finally decided to bite the bullet and get a bin. I ordered one from Lowe’s and the very next week, my neighbor offered me a brand new one for free! So, I am very happily gathering all my fruit and veggie peels, and all my many coffee grounds, and taking them out to my bin. I’m looking at all those leaves falling in a whole new light too!

A few weeks ago we finished the brick patchwork path. Its kind of hard to get a good picture of it. But it is very nice to have, and in fact, Noah is really enjoying it. Seems its a nice perch to keep track of the neighborhood in both directions.

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These are some of the last flower pictures I took. The salvia just stays in bloom all summer long. Its kind of messy, but I like the way it looks next to all the petunias.

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A close-up. The bees really love it.

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This is just a little rose, but such a nice shape to it.

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And that’s about it for the garden report. Me and MLG are in “getting ready for winter” mode. We’re gonna work on the wood pile, and seal the bricks, and boring stuff like that. Today I’m having rain gutters put on my house. Quite optimistic of me, don’t you think?