I’m Still Here

I’m still here. I haven’t gone anywhere. I haven’t changed how I’m eating healthy or exercising daily (some people are prone to say that if a blogger disappears they have fallen “off the wagon.”)

I’m just busy with a single project and a looming deadline. I have lots of interesting bloggie thoughts floating around in my brain, but evidently not enough brain power left to form them into a cohesive blog post. Hopefully they’ll still be around in a week or two.

The Biennial convention for rug hookers is being held in Long Beach this year. It is a big deal for rug hookers, and I am really excited to go to it. In addition, my one rug hooking friend is coming out from Indiana and going with me. Isn’t it fun to find new friends? I am not a very outgoing person, especially in a workshop situation, but Mary Lynn and I hit it off at Cambria one year, and we’ve developed a nice friendship over the past few years. Its fun to have someone to ‘talk shop’ with. You might not know it, but there’s not a glut of rug hookers in the area LOL.

Anyway, here’s the almost completed rug. I’ve been working on it non-stop for a week, including some 8 hour hook-a-thons (all hooking terms added for your amusement.) I’ll write a little more about it on my quilt blog, if you want to hear more. I’ll try to post a completed picture of it before I leave.


And I’m just gonna do one of them random picture posts so I can talk about this ‘n’ that without thinking too much.

On aging gracefully and acceptance of that fact: sometimes I see my hands and I think “where did they come from?” And then I remember–I have my grandma’s hands. She was kind and loving, and she always had her handwork with her, even when she was in her 90’s.  She is who I aspire to be like .


Garden shot:


Finally! My first echinacea that Sophie did not eat:


Still life:


After the bath:


An excellent low calorie dip idea! Mix greek yogurt, SF marmalade, and mustard or honey mustard. I LOVE it on my Sunday evening rutabaga fries!


The pugs’ bedroom (my kitchen):


My first big tomato!!


I’ll be back in a week or so, hopefully with a brain intact and rug hooking out of my system for a while!

This ‘n’ That

First I want to thank everyone for chiming in with some very good advice in my prior post about arthritis.  Even though I am (was) a nurse, my area was so specialized that I really don’t know a lot about adult medicine.  I feel more informed and am going to go forward from here.  In the meantime, I have been swimming up a storm, and am really loving it.  I am REALLY tired the next day, so I think its a pretty good workout.  Unfortunately, my weight lifting is taking a back seat, but I plan to add that back in soon.

Here is “The Bess Show.”  She gets the award for being the most photogenic dog this week.

Well, you KNOW that you-know-who was not going to be left out entirely.

Bess is very aware of where everything is supposed to be (I don’t know how she manages that in this house.)  If anything is new or out of place, she becomes quite concerned about it. Bordering on obsession, unfortunately.  She is also one of the few tv watching dogs I have had.

Watching The Dog Whisperer:

Watching “Hachi, A Dog’s Tale.”  That’s a pretty good movie, BTW.  Oh, that’s my new computer, which is working wonderfully as a tv/movie screen.  The picture is so clear, and the sound quality is much better than my old computer (very important for us old folks, you know.)

And a rare shot sans tongue.

I have found a few good peaches this past week.  I decided to try the Flax Cakes with peaches instead of blueberries.  And then I had the idea of making them into muffins instead of cakes.  Perfect amount to make six nice muffins.  Yummy, and very filling.

Two of them made a very nice breakfast.

It might seem like Noah is getting ignored on the blog, but don’t worry about him. As well as being lion-sized, he also gets the lion’s share of attention around here.

Almost every night he scratches that carpet up into a ball so he can sleep on the carpet underneath it.  Sigh.

The other morning I went out to check my zucchini plant, and I found this absolutely perfect blossom.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Here is my sad little vegetable patch.  I have actually gotten about 4 or 5 zucchinis and two whole tomatoes.  At the amount of water I have to use, that probably makes it about $5 per vegetable.  I’ll stop complaining about the prices at the Farmer’s Market now.

I bought a four pound bag of walnuts in the shell at the farmer’s market the other day.  $8.  Wanted to compare prices.  Just about half the weight was the actual walnut meat, so that made it $4 per pound, and a lot of hard work on my hands.  Not worthy.

Ah, I mentioned you-tube the other day.  When my computer was down I got very creative with my kindle fire.  I was able to watch you tube videos just fine on there.  And they have some wonderful full-length lectures and such on you tube. I started out looking for sermons by Francis Chan.  If you haven’t heard him speak, he is very compelling.  There’s just a ton of Francis Chan stuff on there. And then I found  an interview with Ann Lamott. I have to admit I have not read any of her books, but I love some of her quotes, and she was really interesting to listen to.  It was very well done, at a Writer’s Forum, and they had interviews with other writers I am interested in such as Eugene Peterson and Phillip Yancey.  Big Think does some interesting looking interviews.  The only one I watched was the interview with Marion Nestle, (New York University Professor of Nutrition) which was fascinating.  Basically she pointed out that people all over the world, in different times and different cultures, have eaten very different diets, and yet they are all healthy.  The main thing is to eat real food, and not too much.  She had such a common sense point of view.  I thoroughly recommend watching that video if you have time.  Its about 14 minutes.

Oh!  I almost forgot the most important news!  Wendy and I got together last week and worked on the website for The Bridge (our Haiti child sponsorship program.)  Well, Wendy had done all the work.  I just forced her to hit ‘publish’ and let it go public.  I think she did a beautiful job, and now you all can see what I am talking about when I talk about The Bridge.

Well, that’s about it for tonight.  Off for some lap time and a little more stitching before bed.

Exercise After a Minor Injury and Other Stuff

Exercise after injury:  I have been very pleased with my progress and thought I would share my thoughts with you.  The ‘minor injuries’ were my hands after the two hand surgeries, and my knee, after I did whatever it was I did while trying to run.

My hand strength was decreased, and my wrists were weak after the surgery had healed and it was okay to go back to weight lifting.  Plus, even though the doctor said it was okay, I sure didn’t want to mess something up inside there!  So I just started out with much lower weights than I had previously been doing, and increased the reps.  When I normally would do 3 sets of 10 reps at 80-100 pounds, I now did 3 sets of 15 reps at 60 pounds.  Some of the exercises that required me to really grip with my hands I just deleted for a while.  Now, with the surgeries 3 months behind me, I am almost back up to my previous weights and am able to do all the machines that I had been doing.

For my knee, I basically did the same thing.  I decreased the distance I was walking, but took more walks during the day.  I backed off on the weights and increased the reps again.  I made sure to do two of the machines I liked the least every time I was at the gym, because they would increase the muscle strength above and below my knees and support them.  They are the ‘hamstring curl’ and the ‘seated leg extension,’ again with the lower weights and increased reps.

New version of an old recipe:  Not sure what to call this–Blueberry Scone Cake?  Whatever, it was quite satisfying, and I will be adding it to the rotation.  The idea came from a couple of different factors.  1–those frozen blueberries staring at me as I opened the freezer each day.  2–I could make scones, but I was feeling lazy.  And 3–I have a lot of different types of ‘flour’ and I would like to find a way to use them that I like.  One of those being the coconut flour, which I have not enjoyed so far.  That was bugging me.  Because I DO like coconut.  For the lazy part, I wanted to try making them in one unit instead of separate scones.

So I started with my basic scone recipe.  I replace the two cups of flour with 1 cup spelt flour, 1/2 cup of chickpea flour, and 1/2 cup coconut flour.  I knew I might have to adjust the liquid for those last two flours.  The rest of the recipe I used exactly as is.  I mixed up the dry ingredients, and then added the wet.  The yogurt I used was NOT thick yogurt, and I added the whole cup of almond milk.  And then I let it set for about 10 minutes to see if the flours soaked up the liquid and became too thick.  The batter looked just about right.  Still thick, but a little stickier than when I make my scones.  I plopped half the batter in the pie pan, spread it around evenly, and then put 2 cups of thawed blueberries on top (if you tried to mix frozen blueberries with such a thick dough, you’d just get a messy blue dough,) and then topped it with spoonfuls of the remaining batter, which I tried to spread evenly over the top.  (I did not top with melted butter and sugar like I do my scones.)  Then I baked it.  And here’s where I need to do a little more investigative work before I publish this as a recipe.  I kinda knew better, but I just set the oven for the same temperature and the same time as the scones.  It was not done.  Five more minutes and it looked done, so i took it out.  30 minutes later as I tried to cut myself a slice, it was not done.  back in the oven at a lower temperature for more time.  I think it should probably be cooked at a lower temperature (350-375) for about 30 minutes or so.  Anyway, it did get done, and it was quite tasty and very satisfying to me.  As all low-fat cooking goes, the texture is different (denser?) than normal baked goods.  But I like that.  Plus I was really pleased that I included a good amount of these other flours and succeeded at baking something that I am not going to throw out!

Product review:  The Magic Bullet.  As you all know, Magic Bullet did not give me anything free.  This is just my opinion.  I am a little disappointed in my Magic Bullet.  It does not pulverize ice cubes or frozen fruit nearly as well or as quickly as it likes to claim.  It does a terrible job of ‘chopping’ fresh fruit.  In fact, I ran back out to my back porch and rescued my Cuisinart mini-food processor that was on its way to the thrift store.  I do like the convenience of the Magic Jack, being able to make a smoothie and then drink it in the same cup.  I will probably get more use out of it during the warmer weather.  Maybe my skills at using it will improve.  What I do LOVE about it is that it works great as a coffee grinder!  I had long ago stopped grinding my own beans.  I love how it grinds the beans evenly and then I can just keep those in the same cup for the next couple of days.  All in all, I’m happy I got it.  But I’m VERY HAPPY that I did not give my mini food processor away!

Magic Jack.  Does anyone else have one of these little doohickies?  I’ve heard about it for years.  Lately its been bugging the daylights out of me, how much I am paying for various phone services, and the service is not even as good as it was in the olden days.  So I finally decided to try it–its supposed to have a money back guarantee.  $39.95 is all it costs you for a whole year of local and long distance unlimited calling.  You plug it into your computer and make your calls through there.  You still use your regular phones.  So far I think its great.  Your computer has to be on to receive calls, but I leave my computer on all the time.  The calls are crystal clear, and there is not the time delay that I seemed to be having with my long distance server.  I did have to change my phone number.  I chose to pay $3.00 to choose a number that I liked.   But you are supposed to be able to keep your old number–probably that works in larger towns.

Well, its another bright and sunny day here, with a high of 68 degrees predicted.  I am going to make myself get in the pool today!  Saturday I will be doing Lori’s Heart Healthy challenge–I am going to do 30 minutes on the bike at the gym and 30 minutes in the weight room–just a little more than I usually do now.  Plus I might end with 30 minutes in the pool–not guaranteeing that one!  I will also get in two 30 minute walks with the doggies–one Monk-speed (slow) and one fast, with just Noah.

Lighter Fare

Just a quickie, to pass along a couple of new “recipes” that I’ve really enjoyed the past few days.  I put recipes in quotes because they were more assemblages than full recipes.  One was for my own version of chicken salad, which I realized today was “Chicken Waldorf Salad!”  So simple to make and so refreshing (and filling.)  Sorry, no pictures.  I’m not quite back in the groove since my return home.

The second was a VERY SIMPLE Asian Chicken Salad .  The very simple came in because I simply didn’t have too many ingredients to add to it.  I was really surprised at how very tasty this was.  I practically licked my plate.  And again, filling.

True to my exercise plan, I went to the gym Sunday and today (no, I didn’t get in the pool, Shelley.  I’m a wimp.)  I did have a great workout, both on the bike and on the weight machines.  It feels great to be able to use my hands on the machines and free weights again.  And yesterday I took the three mile loop with Noah.

Tonight is one of those rare peaceful nights.  I mean, I feel really really peaceful.  I picked up a new little quilt project and knew exactly what I wanted to stitch on it.  Monk was in his favorite chair, Noah was down for the count stretched out full length on the floor, and of course Sophie was very happy to be nestled right next to me on the couch.  I listened to the last session of Dallas Willard and John Ortberg.  My friends like to joke that I am in love with Dallas Willard.  Yes, I know how to pick ‘safe’ men.  70 year old married men.  Anyway, seriously, there is no one more challenging AND encouraging to me in my walk with Jesus.  This was a question and answer session on the topics of pain and suffering.  But the conversation ranged far and wide around those topics.  I had a little trouble with the videos, but no problem with the podcast.

Hope you all are having an enjoyable and peaceful after-Thanksgiving week.

A dog who knows the meaning of peace.

Chilly and Chili

The weather has turned consistently cold around here.  Most days are bright and sunny, with highs in the 50’s and lows in the 30’s.  Cold enough that I keep the woodstove going pretty much all day long.  I tell myself that its good exercise carrying that wood in ONE PIECE AT A TIME…  stupid hands.  Not really.  I am very happy with how well they are working after having this surgery.  The very best, and most unexpected part, is how well I am sleeping.  I truly did not realize that all that discomfort I was having with my arms at night was due to the carpal tunnel.

Back to the topic at hand.  With the advent of the chilly weather, I have been hankering to try making some chili.  I didn’t have all the ingredients for some of the recipes I had bookmarked, so I did a survey of various chili recipes, wrote down all the possible ingredients I could include, and then made up my own recipe.  I was very pleased with the results.  The interesting thing I noticed was that I reverted to my old way of cooking.  No, not my OLD way of cooking–that would have been deep fried chili.  But the old way I learned to cook healthy, which is very low fat.  So in the end, when I analyzed the recipe, it came out to less than 150 calories per cup.  Crazy, huh?  I had it over half of a baked potato, with 3 little fresh mozzarella balls (60 calories) crumbled on top  (no cheddar cheese in the house.)  Again, very satisfactory.  And it ended up making 7 servings, so I have 5 servings safe in the freezer for when the chili urge hits again.  Oh, and you know what else I did?  I was thinking about trying out this recipe for Slumgullion, and I realized that the first ingredients were the same (lean ground beef, onion, garlic, peppers, chicken stock, and  tomatoes) so I separated part of it out before I added the chili powder and the cumin, and I saved to to make the slumgullion the next day.  That was a favorite comfort food of mine from my childhood.  It was immensely satisfying!  Got one more serving of that too!

In other news, I set a goal to go to the gym on this past Wednesday, as that would be a week after the surgery, instead of the ridiculous six weeks that I let pass after the first surgery.  You know how you don’t go for a bit and you get that gym shyness.  Anyway, I went, and I did the exercise bike for 20 minutes, and then went and worked out my legs on the machines for 25 minutes.  I was so happy to have done that.

Today I got my stitches out.  The doctor said no swimming for three weeks, and then told me some horror stories to make sure I behaved myself.  In the meantime, I have to decide if I am really going to swim in the winter, and if I want to invest $75 in a swim jacket.  They’re supposed to keep you from getting so cold in the pool, almost like a wet suit.

You know what?  I just ran out of energy and have been staring at the computer screen for an indeterminate period of time.  So I think I’ll bid you adieu and head off to bed.  Habanada!

It’s Friday!

Its Friday.  Wow.  That’s about all I’ve got to say around here.  My hand is fine.  In fact, if I had a third hand, I’d really have this whole recovery thing down pat.  Haven’t quite got a handle on the ‘feeling sorry for myself’ bit.

Anyway, after feeling morose for the better part of two days, I thought maybe I’d try to count my blessings?

1.  A storm  came in last night, and THE FLIES are gone!

2.  I can still walk.  And I am.  I’ve taken a walk every day this week, except the actual day of surgery.  Woo hoo for me.  Noah is especially thrilled, because he is getting pretty tired of the grumpy me.

3.  I am within 50 points of my bronze award on the Presidential Champions Challenge!  I’ve earned almost 40,000 points since April 27.  I guess I’ll keep going and try to get to the silver, and maybe even the gold.  Its a fun way to keep track of my exercise.

4.  For now I am the high bidder on a set of colored pencils on ebay.  We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

5.  I found a bunch of new free Dog Whisperer episodes to watch on the computer via National Geographic.

6.  ‘They’ are still paying me to stay home!  Amazing.

7.  Noah is still white, Sophie still loves me, and Mr. Monk is ever faithful.

I know there are a lot more serious things to be thankful for.  I just thought I’d share the silly things that make me smile in between being grouchy.


C’est Fini!

I’ve been roaming the internet for a while now, and it occurred to me it would be polite to tell you all I made it through surgery just fine.  Its almost like deja vu from the first surgery, so I won’t bore you with the details.  Except to say this one was only my wrist, and not my wrist and my thumb, like on my left hand, so I think it hurts even less.  I’m typing with both hands!  As soon as I’m done here, I’m going to go sew on the little quilt project I prepared for my post op course.  I might try out a new recipe I saw in a magazine I bought for my post-op treat, Whole Living.  Anyone heard of this magazine?  Pretty good articles.  A few were too new-agy for me, but overall some interesting info and a pretty layout.  Their vegetable Thanksgiving recipes were really wonderful looking–I’m thinking of trying the one that combines ravioli with green beans and almonds, since I have all those ingredients in the refrigerator.  The green beans reminds me–I got that 3 pound bag of already prep’d baby green beans at Costco, and holy moly, those were worth it.  I’ve had them roasted a couple of times now.  From bag to pan in 2 seconds flat.

I’m hoping to keep up with my exercise mojo this time.  The weather is definitely turning cooler, great walking weather.  If I can get my shoes on, I plan to go out later this afternoon.  And of course, I’ve got all that good food pre-prepared, so will be eating well.  Oh, that reminds me of another recipe in that magazine that I want to try–roasted brussel sprouts, grapes, and walnuts.  Doesn’t that sound scrumptious?  Might try that tonight if I can wield a knife safely!

Over and out. I’ll probably be checking in pretty frequently, as typing seems to be one of the easiest, and most rewarding post-op things I can do.

Left hand, 8 weeks post-op.

The Spell is Broken (or Back to the Gym!)

Am I the only one who does this?  You stop going to the gym  for a good reason (hand surgery/dad’s death/out of the country, etc.) and then you get all gym shy, and just can’t make yourself go back?   Yes?  I’m the only one?  Well, anyway, TODAY I WENT BACK TO THE GYM!!!  Yahoo.

To be fair to myself, the incision in the palm of my hand is still very irritating, and the thought of putting a weight in that hand or using a bar/machine is just too much for me.  And my leg/knee is bothering me enough that I don’t want to do any more damage to it.  But as I told Shelley, if I can wash dishes with that hand, surely I could put it in the pool for the same amount of time.  So that’s what I did.  Got my suit on before I left the house, and just went straight to the pool.  40 minutes!  About half ‘running’ in the pool, and the other half swimming.  It felt so great.  It was really fun to run without my leg hurting.  I think I’ll go back tomorrow!

And now, back to my favorite topic, FOOD!   Most of these pics are not new ideas, but either involve a shortcut or a twist on a favorite recipe.

I made a batch of the Spaghetti with Bacon sauce.  That is a big recipe–12 servings.  I decided to go ahead and make the whole recipe because the sauce will freeze well, and I can use it during my Spa Week (more on that tomorrow!) and/or during my recovery from my second hand surgery (scheduled for Nov 1.)  The shortcut here is that I used the pre-cooked bacon crumbles that I got from Costco.  I don’t like cooking bacon, so these things really work well for me.  I usually have to put the bag of bacon in the freezer because well, you know–big food from Costco, and there is only one me.

While the sauce simmered, I chopped/sliced/diced the “big four” veggies that I like to have pasta sauce on top of–zucchini, carrots, onions, and mushrooms.

I used half a serving of Barilla Plus pasta with these veggies.  Honestly, I prefer the veggies, but old habits die hard.  I have to keep trying the pasta once in a while.  That Barilla Plus has more protein than regular pasta because they use “legume flour blend.”  They irritate me though, because their labeling is misleading.  They tell you they have 17 grams of protein in 100g.  Wow!  Oh, but wait.  A SERVING is 56 grams.  You’d be eating 380 calories worth of pasta to get the 17 grams of protein.  Might as well eat one of those great “high protein energy bars.” Okay, rant over. This really was very tasty!  There’s a lot of parmesan cheese melted into the sauce at the end.

Last night I got home late after a trip to the big city.  I went to Trader Joe’s and stocked up on some specialty items that I can’t get in our little town.  By the time I got home I was really hungry.  And tired.  These are one of my old favorites–carrots, not even peeled, cut into chunks, sprinkled with Mrs. Dash and salt, and a little butter/lite butter on top, and microwaved for however long it takes for them to get nice and soft.  LOVE LOVE LOVE these.  (I think it took 4 minutes in my current microwave.)

And fortunately I had indulged in one of my favorite TJ’s pre-cooked meals:  Rosemary Chicken.  310 calories for a small chicken breast and a good amount of rice.  I think their secret is cooking the chicken and the rice in chicken broth because it is really so moist and flavorful.

Today, another favorite–butternut squash fries.  I think I like these because you get a bigger volume for your calorie dollar than sweet potato fries.  Anyway, the shortcut here, for me, is partially pre-cooking in the microwave.  Just stick the whole squash in there.  I put it in in the morning for 4 minutes (2 min, turn, another 2 min) so it was cooled off by the time lunch rolled around.  It makes it SO MUCH EASIER to cut up  and peel.  SO MUCH EASIER.  Bake as usual  (for me, 375 degree oven, 15 minutes, turn, another 10 minutes.)  I like to eat them with just a little cocktail sauce.  Is that weird?

This is just yogurt with some homemade granola, using Shelley’s recipe.  No shortcut here, but its fun to vary the nuts and fruit that I add to the recipe.  This one has pepitas and pine nuts, and raisins and dried apricots that I cut into bite sized chunks.  Very satisfying.

No picture, but you all know the trick about making your oatmeal with unsweetened almond milk, right?  Only 40 calories, and it makes it so delicious and creamy.  Just substitute the almond milk for the water specified, and cook as directed.

That’s all for now, folks.  What’s this world coming to–posting two days in a row?