Be Still

This seems like an appropriate sentiment on Christmas night.  I hope you all had a wonderful day.  And I hope that you will take some time to think about the ‘reason for the season.’  Today on our morning walk, I was thinking about my faith.  I have a hard time sharing my faith–it is a grand mystery!  But my ultimate thought was that life does not make sense to me without faith, without God.

So today was the most unusual Christmas I can remember.  Most Christmases are somewhat marred anyway by having to work the eve or the day, and if I have the whole thing off, then I am usually off and away visiting family.  I REALLY like being home for Christmas.  There is something so wonderful about being in familiar surroundings during a special time.  That’s the problem with our global families, isn’t it?

I started the day with another perfect banana nut protein pancake.  Lots of quiet time and reading.  Then headed out for a walk with all three doggies because it looked like a storm was blowing in, and I didn’t think we’d get an opportunity to walk later in the day.   Monk was a trooper, and we went about 2 1/2 miles.

Came home to a delicious lunch of a slice of ham, a pear, and a bowl of yogurt topped with that trifecta of perfection–walnuts, chocolate chips, and muesli.

Then I hit the ground running!  Started packing, and started going down the long list of chores that needed to be done before I leave.   When everything was just about done, I left to go to the gym for a ‘last chance workout.’   I have been working on getting back on track, and going to the gym was part of that.   I weighed myself, and my post-holiday weight is 172–4 pounds above my goal weight.  I will be interested to see if I gain or lose on this trip.

I also stopped at some friends who have taken this same trip to Africa to watch their home movies of Africa.  That gave me a better feel for what the trip is going to be like.  I asked about the food.  It sounds pretty Americanized, but the portions are small (good!)  Not much dairy though!!  You know how I love my dairy.  I really am not worried much about the food.  Well, I do have some Luna and JayBars, and some trail mix packed.  I’m not too worried.

Back home again, and I fixed myself a scrumptious Christmas dinner.  This is exactly what I wanted.  As you all know, I am fully capable of fixing myself whatever food I want.  But again, wanting to get back on track, eat healthy and fresh, and DELICIOUS.  This is so important to me.  When I was eating all the cookies and extras, I thought about all my favorite healthy foods that I was missing.  Just these two days of eating really well has reassured me that I am not going to revert to my old unhealthy food habits.  The good exercise is like the icing on the cake  (oops, probably not the best illustration…)

Oh.  Anyway, here is the dinner I had:

Apple slices with that chunky cranberry spread.

Christmas salad! Isn't that pretty? Baby greens with turkey, avocado, goat cheese, cranberry sauce, and roasted pepitos. No need for dressing with all that good stuff!

The doggies all got Christmas presents–I ordered these elk antler ‘bones’ for them. Oh, they are crazy about them.  Only thing is I have to supervise their chewing, because, well, let’s just say they haven’t learned that lesson about how good little doggies always share with the other doggies.

So there it is.  I will make this an au revoir message as well!  Be back in a couple of weeks with a whole new set of topics to discuss!  In the meantime, be good little boys and girls, and keep away from that sugar/salt/fat combo as much as possible.  It’s lethal, I tell ya!

Oh, I wanted to share one more thing!  Very fitting to end the Christmas season with the Hallelujah Chorus!

Four Days and Counting

Or, three days and counting.  Depending on what you’re counting down.  Hope all of you are taking some quiet moments in your days to relax and contemplate the meaning of this season of the year.  Me, I’ve found a few moments here and there, but not as many as I’d like.  Which is amazing, considering how much I’ve pared down the excess Christmas stuff.  I think something else is on my mind, even though I’m pretending its not.

But some of us have no problem taking it easy.  Here’s the king of taking it easy, doing what he does best:

Well, Monk’s not the only one taking it easy.  I was trying out my new cozy travel pillow!

Noah was taking it easy too.

I saw this image and thought there was a striking resemblance:

Sophie has a hard time taking it easy.  Even on the bed, she seems to spend a lot of time worrying.  And keeping track of everything going on outside AND inside the house.

I’m hoping to take a little travel quilt project with me.  Here’s the pretty stack of fabrics I am going to use–wool and cotton!

“My” little girl in Tanzania (Compassion) sends me the prettiest little pictures, and the minute I saw them I knew they would be great quilting motifs.

Yesterday’s party was so fun.  My friend is very creative, and she had all the supplies there for us to make a collage.  I was quite pleased with how mine came out.   It started out with a picture of a little porch overhang that I would really love to have, instead of the constant waterfall of rain that comes down right outside my front door.  (Sophie would also love to have this overhang!)  Anyway, as I made it, and then thought about it afterward, the collage became about my retirement, what I might do.  Things I dream about…

Regarding my coming trip to Africa (eeeeeeeekkk!!!)  people keep asking me if I am excited.  And I have felt a little weird when I would say I was not.  Then my pastor’s wife said she had a word for me.  ANTICIPATE.  At the time I thought it was a little strange.  But now I realize it is the perfect word.  Excited is more of a ‘fun’ word in my mind.  Anticipate seems to be a bigger word to me.  I am anticipating that the whole direction of my life might possibly be changed by this trip.  It seems similar to the time 25 years ago when I felt led (again, by God) to become a registered nurse.  That sure changed the direction of my life.  And the timing of this does seem providential.  I planned on taking this trip over a year ago.  And I didn’t plan on taking retirement until a few months ago.  So I am anticipating…

Countdown to Africa

Well, I’ve loaded a bunch of pictures into this post that have nothing to do with going to Africa.  But it seems that that is what is foremost on my mind.  Whether I want it to be or not.  One week from today at this time I will be in Birmingham, Alabama.  That’s where the group will meet for orientation.  Then we will all leave together for Kenya.  Its starting to seem more real.  Because the people in my church are LOVING talking about this trip!  I was a little excited earlier today.  Now I’m just tired.  After church I decided to do a little of the shopping for the trip.   Exciting stuff like DEET mosquito spray.  I have gotten 3 different travel pillows now.  I only need two (one for my lower back and one for my neck–I’m determined to be comfortable on this trip LOL.)

Ooh, I scored so bigtime at the thrift store!  Got four shirts  that were marked $3.50 , but when I got up to the counter they were having a ‘special.’  Only $1 each.  The weather is supposed to be 70-90 there, so I needed a few lightweight shirts.  And, I got a practically brand new beautiful black knit dress.  All designer stuff!  And it all fits now.  I was also thinking I wished I had a few more of those sleeveless t-shirts that I liked so much from WalMart this past summer.  And wouldn’t you know it, WalMart had a sale rack–got a couple of them for $2 each.

Christmas decorating was so simple this year.  Instead of dragging 7 tubs of decorations from the storage shed to the house, I just rummaged through a few of the tubs out in the shed and carried in a few of my favorite decorations.  No tree this year due to you-know-who.  Although you-know-who has been pretty darn good about the decorations I did bring in.  He was very curious, but then left them alone.

In spite of the *(*%%$&*%&*() rain, I have kept up with my exercise.  Plenty of walks, and half an hour at the gym about every other day.  There was one day in there where I stacked a cord of very heavy wet oak.  Ouch.

Noah in the back seat on the way home from our walk:


Sophie and Monk are not fans of the rain:

Tonight I had a cup of peppermint coffee from Trader Joes (coffee with peppermint leaves, vanilla beans, and a dash of peppercorns–yummy):

And tried out a new recipe from the Nutrition Action Healthletter:

Simple recipe, but so delicious:  one pound of green beans steamed (you know I boiled them,) one onion sliced thin and browned in 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/4 cup sliced almonds.  So decadent.  Why would anyone want to make that old mushroom soup green bean recipe?  BTW, that is a salad plate.  But I did have a double serving of beans along side a regular serving of ham.

And now for a little truthful food talk.  AAAAARRGH!  I am eating too much food.  Too many extras.  Too many sweets.  Two more days of work, two more parties.  THE END.  I am hoping to eat really clean on the three days before I leave.  I am pretty sure food is not the main feature of this trip.

I have been a little worried that, as Cammy put it, “I’ll get off the health(ier) bus and lose my lifetime boarding pass.” That’s one reason I have been so faithful with the exercise.  Not so I can ‘eat more.’  No, just to remind myself of who I am now.  So I weighed myself at the gym, and I am just 2.5 pounds over my current goal weight.   Okay.  Moving on.  Hopefully.

Oh.  That fruitcake I made the other day?  I delivered it to my mom yesterday, so I got to taste it.  A-MA-ZING.  Not ‘diet’ food in any way, shape or form.  I might put the recipe up over there on the other blog just so I have a record of it for myself.  Pretty sure I can keep Mom happy with one of these big boys each year.  And like I told someone, most people who say they don’t like fruitcake are like a person who has only eaten Whitman’s chocolates and declares “I don’t like chocolates.”

Gonna sign out for now, and relax for a few before going to bed.  I’ll check back in in a few days!

Reporting In

Feeling a little bloglaziness around here.  Sorry bout that.  Don’t have the excuse that I am running around like a crazy woman doing that Christmas thang.  Nope.  Just trying to enjoy the season.  I do have a little busier social schedule than normal.  Quilter’s Christmas party was yesterday.  I made a wonderful salad (forgot my camera.)  Here’s the recipe anyway.

Christmas Salad

Dressing:  2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp mustard, 1 Tbsp agave syrup , 1 Tbsp cranberry sauce

Salad:  Baby greens.  Toss baby greens in dressing, and then top with:  1 Fuji apple chopped, 1 red pear chopped, walnuts, dried cranberries, roasted pepitos.  Avocado would have been good too, but I didn’t have that.

That was the healthiest thing at the potluck lunch.  Actually it was the only healthy thing.  Whatever.  I was actually shocked at the first bite of a couple things–the fat content was…well, it was shocking.  How do people eat like that and not gain weight?  Or maybe they don’t eat like that at home and just bring it to potlucks?

Today I went to the movies.  I had the baby popcorn and a baby package of m&m’s.  Tomorrow I am having lunch out with a good friend.  And Friday is a ‘finger foods’ party.  That one will be easy to negotiate.  I will eat a bunch of vegetables for dinner before I go.

Oh, this is boring.  Let’s change the subject.  The Nutrition Action Healthletter had a feature on bone health ” The Latest on Food and Fractures.”  Yikes.  One more thing to worry about.  Evidently their research is leaning towards too many grains being a cause of bone fractures.  The thing that was most interesting to me is that they recommend at least 11 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.  Yikes.  If we all ate that many fruilts and vegetables, we wouldn’t have any room left for grains!

So between that article and all the buzz about the new W.W. regimen, I stopped at the store and stocked up (again) on fruits and veggies.  I’m going to try to eat a few more veggies.  And it wouldn’t hurt me to eat my fruit sans accompaniment (like cottage cheese, yogurt, nuts,  peanut butter, laughing cow.)  None of those things are bad at all.  They just up the calorie count for the day.

Oh.  Here’s something a little more interesting. I’M LEAVING FOR AFRICA IN TEN DAYS!!!! La la la la (fingers in ears) trying not to think about it. La la la la la!

Actually I’m thinking about it a little bit every day.  It seems like I should be doing more.  And that’s what makes me  nervous. I have a reminder list in my purse.  I have a drawer that I throw stuff in so I will take that stuff.  Ooh.  I got a new ‘travel pillow’ at Costco.  I am very excited about that.  The flights are so long.  And I am a good airplane sleeper.  But dang, those seats are uncomfortable.  I would actually like to have two pillows–one for my neck and one for my lower back.

Thanks to Pubsgal’s excellent advice, I have decided to go techno-free to Africa.  I had visions of taking something and blogging all along the way.  But you guys will just have to wait ’til I get back.  And then I’ll probably never stop talking about it.  I’ll have to start another blog ‘debby goes to africa.’  Anyway, I am just taking a simple paper journal and my trusty camera.

Confession:  I got the flight itinerary, and there is a 12 hour layover in London.  They have arranged for us to take a tour of London while we are there!  And I am more excited about that than about Africa.  That seemed weird to me.  I decided that that is because it is more familiar to me.  I have thought a lot about London/England/Ireland/etc.  Because of all the fiber arts I do, I feel a little more connected to England I think.

Oh.  I made a fruitcake today.  I had to go and buy regular flour and sugar for it.  Oh, and brandy.  I don’t know if I’ve ever bought regular alcohol before!  My mom likes fruitcake a lot.  And she is very difficult to buy for.  I have gotten the ‘holy monastery’ fruitcakes for her the last couple of years.  They are VERY tiny.  And they cost over $30.  Anyway, it smelled heavenly in here all day.  I wish I could taste it.  And this fruitcake is probably three times the size of the ones I bought!  I only put whole candied cherries in it, because they are pretty.  Other things I added:  dried pears, dried apricots, some giant raisins, walnuts and pecans.  You put half a cup of brandy in the cake, and then you are supposed to put 2 Tbsp of brandy on it every day for two weeks.  Ya gotta love the internet.  I looked up fruitcake recipes.  This was practically the first one I found, and it said it was her 90 year old grandma’s recipe, and I thought well, that’s good enough for me.

Gonna end for now.  Sorry about the lack of linkage–its not working on WordPress tonight.

A Challenge, A Recipe, and A Bit of News

Harro everbody.   Well, I started a new challenge this morning.  I’m not big on taking on the challenges, but this one was only 10 days and it fit it with something that might possibly improve my life.  And it was a challenge by good blogbuddy Jill.  The main point being it was only 10 days.  You  100 day challenge people GO!  Good for you!  Ra Ra Shish Boom Ba!  (picture me sitting on the sidelines cheering you on.)

So the challenge was simply to get up and do your exercise first thing in the morning.  BEFORE COFFEE. I am a person who likes routine.  And I really like my morning routine.  Get out of bed, put the dogs out, and head to the kitchen to fix my coffee and breakfast.   Over to my chair, either to have a quiet time and read, or check out a couple of blogs and my email.  My morning routine can take quite a while.  And now I have a big white dog who finds my morning routine quite boring.

So we will try this for 10 days and see if walking Noah first will allow me to have some nice peaceful morning time AFTER the walk.  Boy, was it hard this morning.  I don’t like to get dressed when its cold.  Anyway, out we headed for a morning trudge.  And Noah did oblige and let me sit and read for a bit after we got home.  I have to admit, the coffee really tasted good after having to wait for it.

I tried a recipe I had wanted to try for a long time. Its protein bars from the book The Healthy Hedonist. Last time I tried to make this recipe, I made one too many substitutions, and it turned out more like a fruit dip than ‘bars.’  Weird.  Some people said it was substituting whey powder for the soy powder that was listed in the recipe.  Anyway, I FINALLY had all the ingredients gathered, and I made these bars today.  VERY INTERESTING.  And VERY different.  I think some of you might like them (Lori, check out the coffee coating, and Pubsgal, minimal sugar/sweetener, but sadly, no nuts.)  The author says that three of them (150 calories total) keep her satisfied until late morning.  They are a nice consistency to grab and go, will be pretty easy to eat in the car.  And pretty darn nice alongside a good cup of coffee.  I think this one is a keeper.  Here are way too many pictures of these bars, and the recipe is over there on my side bar.  Which,  BTW, I KNOW is very messy, and hard to read, and eventually I will clean that up.

inside view

This morning I finally got around to cleaning out my most used cupboard.  It was just a jumble of bags of nuts and other ‘healthy stuff’ that I buy out of the bins, and my bars and all that stuff.  I should have taken a before picture so you could appreciate this more.  It sure feels good to get things organized.

This is also a very good example of how we can share little snippets of our lives, and still not allow people to see the  whole picture.  This is pretty much the only place in my house that is this organized at present.  But I will say that I am working regularly on organizing, cleaning up clutter, and simplifying (not bringing more clutter in.)

I had a very pretty little salad for lunch, along with two of those little bars.

Pear, goat cheese, and walnuts on a bed of romaine lettuce. Dressing was a mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup.

Today, as always, I am tired and a little discouraged after one day of work.  I was reading an article in a quilt magazine about Kaffe Fassett, one of the most famous fiber artists in the world.  He was a major influence in my knitting ‘career, ‘ and now he is big in the quilting world.  Not so much an influence on my quilting, but I still have a great admiration for his body of work.  And the article said that at one point early in his career he made the decision to NOT have a car, because the artists he knew who had cars had to hold other jobs to be able to afford them, and he wanted to be able to concentrate on his art.  I really love hearing stuff like that from people who have been successful over the long term.

So, I’m not sure why I haven’t been shouting this from my blog on a daily basis, but guess what?  41 WEEKS!!!  That is how long it will be until I retire! Wheeeee!!!

I went to see the retirement specialist at work, and she encouraged me to wait until June 30 to retire.   Because of some weird rules, it is a much better deal financially.  At first, I was, no way.  I have to retire NOW.  But by the time our appointment was over, I had decided that it would be a good way to end my career.  To spend the next 10 months trying to do the very best job I could do every day.  To have a positive influence on the young nurses coming up.  To be a good example.

And in the meantime, I will have plenty of fun activities to look forward to.  Africa is coming up soon.  I am planning a trip to Whidbey Island to learn from that quilt artist I am so crazy about!  And I think I will go to rug camp next year.   The guy who did ‘Fowl Mood’ is teaching, and I love his work as well.  I’m planning to start a small group for women on discipleship–might start another blog to go alongside this.  41 weeks will be gone before I know it!

So that’s the news from here.  Another day of work tomorrow, and then off for the weekend.  Habanada!