Thoughts on Seeds and Other Stuff

Earlier this year, I tried planting seeds in those little peat pots to give them a head start, because we can’t be sure that frost is over until at least May 1. That experiment was mostly a dismal failure. The sunflower seeds were the most disappointing. I’m pretty sure they would have done better had I planted them directly in the ground. Out of 8 pots, only three weak seedlings survived to be planted in the ground, and of those three, only one remains. The hollyhock seeds (that were a couple of years old,) fared better. I got six seedlings, and planted them in two locations. Three are doing well–I’m guessing they are getting more sun than the others. Penstemons were a bust, as well as the cilantro. The ones that are doing the best are the “money plants.” I bought them because the picture on the seed packet was charming, and it said they were a staple of cottage gardens. Eight out of eight lived, and I planted them in various locations, and ALL of them are doing well. So yesterday I looked them up on the internet to read more about them. “Many people consider money plants a weed.” Oh…. that’s why they are doing so well, and in so many different locations. In reading further, they just self sow their seeds freely. So they will be like the fairy impatiens. I like them, I just don’t want a garden full of them. And I feel a little guilty “weeding” them out, since they are really nice plants. But I have learned to be ruthless with them🙂 Conclusion: I will probably try seeds in the future. I will just plant them directly in the ground at the proper time.

Speaking of self-seeding–my little free petunia garden continues to do well!


The hydrangeas are really doing well this year. I think its a combination of being well established and having a cooler, wetter spring.



The bloom of the newest abutilon. There seems to be a lot of hybrids of this plant in the nursery these days. Not all are frost hardy. This is a short variety–supposed to get only 3 feet tall.


This little vine is such a pretty plant–also not frost hardy. I’ve bought one every year for the past few years. I think I’ve got it in the right spot this year.


Even though they want more sun, the daisies are starting to bloom. I really like the way these double ones look.



Changing the subject rapidly….and I know, sounding like a broken record…but this is one of my favorite recipes. Its so simple, especially if you have the meat pre-cooked, and buy vegetables that are already pre-chopped for you. Recipe for My Fried Rice is here. This batch has chicken, bean sprouts, broccoli slaw, mushrooms, onions, peas, a little bacon, and a scrambled egg. Only 250 calories for that big soup bowl. Dinner!


Another favorite–protein pancakes. This is the very best way to have them–put some walnuts in the batter, and I use about 1/3 very ripe mashed banana mixed with a little SF syrup for topping. I use Lori’s recipe. Only I noticed that I have substituted 1/3 cup of egg beaters for the whole egg. Either which way, YUMM. 300 calories with my additions.



Cleaning: When I’m not in the mood to clean, I’ve found that if I set the timer for 10 minutes, that is actually all the time it takes for most chores. I can unload and re-load the dishwasher in 10 minutes. I got a new vacuum cleaner recently. Just your basic Hoover. But it sucks really good compared to my old vacuum. So today, when I had vacuumed the bedroom and the mudroom rug, I didn’t want to vacuum the studio rugs. 10 minutes, I told myself. At the very end, I smelled something burning. I was so irritated. That’s what I get for buying a cheaper machine. So I go to see if there’s too much hair wound around the roller. There was what appeared to be a WHOLE SPOOLFUL of thread wound around it! So it took 10 minutes to vacuum, and 15 minutes to figure out what was wrong and fix it. In my defense, the spool that the thread came from was in the drawer where it belongs. Its not even thread that I’ve used in the past year! I guess the new vacuum really does have super suction!


I am off to the gym, for a longish swim session. I am happy to report that all the leg pain I’ve been dealing with is MUCH better, I’m pretty sure because I kept on exercising every day. Have a great weekend! Enjoy the (literal) fruits of summer, and have some fun exercising.

Chit Chat

I don’t have enough about one topic to write a whole post, but if I title it “chit chat,” I can talk a little bit about a bunch of things, right?

So the first thing that’s on my mind is the subtitle of my blog “thoughts on living a whole and  healthy life.” I don’t write too much about living a healthy life any more. But unlike what many suspicious bloggers write, its not because I’ve fallen off the wagon or anything. I’ve just been writing about healthy living and diet and food and maintenance and exercise for seven freaking years. Most of the time I feel like there’s nothing new to talk about.

So here’s a healthy living check-up: I still eat mostly whole foods. Lots of great fruit this summer. Its been a disappointing summer for fresh vegetables, but I still find enough to enjoy, and I fill in with salads for the rest. I try to avoid sugar, although it has been making a more frequent appearance in the past month or so. Wheat? I’ve been eating it a bit more, and it does consistently result in some gastrointestinal disturbance. So that is pretty motivating to keep wheat off my plate for the most part. That re-gained 25 pounds that I worked so hard to re-lose a couple of years ago? Yep, I gained it all back. That leaves me holding steady and contemplating the next step. There’s no point in what was pretty severe food restriction if its not going to result in a lower MAINTENANCE weight. Some days I log my food, and other days I wing it. The days I “wing it” you can usually find a scrap of paper or two where I am jotting down what I ate to make sure I stay within the limits I’ve set. So I guess I log my food every day🙂 I totally keep up my daily exercise, and really enjoy that. I go to the gym and do the bike for 20 minutes and pool-jog for 20 minutes. I stopped doing my weights exercises, just because of time restraints, and I realized that I was feeling a bit weak in my upper body. So it was back upstairs to the weights room at the gym, and I am enjoying that very much. Since its cooled down a bit, I am taking more walks with Noah and I do keep up with my PT exercises at home, and I added in a few core exercises to that routine too.

Recently I made a little change to my daily routine that I am quite pleased about. I usually have a small first breakfast (150-225 calories.) And then I was stopping mid-morning for a tea break, usually with a Quest bar. I decided to see if I could eliminate that snack. The first day I thought I might only be able to do it a couple of days a week. But now its become a habit, and I like it because it eliminates a few calories, but also because of the extra time in my morning.

Okay, back to that mention of severe food restriction. That is something I’ve thought about A LOT. I was going to write something about “You have to Decide for Yourself.” There are so many ways to eat. So very many good ways to eat. And one of the ways to cut down on the AMOUNT of food you eat is to just eliminate whole food groups. Look, there’s nothing wrong with this. Many cultures seem to live just fine with SEVERELY restricted food groups. But we don’t live in those countries. We live in America, the land of the free, where every conceivable food from every single food group is available every single day everywhere you go. So you have to decide what works for you. Don’t assume that just because eliminating food groups results in weight loss or claims of better health works for someone else that it will work for you. YOU HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. And sometimes you have to try new things. How will you know that a certain way of eating will or won’t work for you unless you’re willing to try?

Changing subjects: the seven freaking years of writing? That all came back to me as I took on a daunting assignment the past couple of days. I write an occasional blog as “the healthy quilter” for The Quilt Show daily blog. But that “occasional” stretched out into a months long absence, and the longer it went on, the more I felt guilty, and the more I DIDN’T write. So I came up with the idea to take an entire day, and write a year’s worth of blogs (12) in one day. Oh, and the blogs are mainly recipe recommendations. So I spent about 12 hours searching my archives, looking over recipes, trying out recipes, finding photos of food, and then writing all about how tasty and delicious that food was! Fun????

Well, the fun part was that I did find some good old recipes of my own, and a couple of new ones that I am going to try out. This morning I had my Almond Joy Oatmeal (extra yummy,) and yesterday I had a brand new try–Crispy Oatmeal. It was super yummy, and I think might become my new winter BFF. This was all for one of the blogs that I titled “Oatmeal Three Ways.” The third way was Overnight Oats, which is also good, but its cold. And I’m pretending that its getting to be fall around here. Tonight I’m going to have one of the salads that I recommended. Got all the ingredients, and ready to go!

Here’s another thing I’ve been thinking about. Controlling your food environment is a very good thing. If its not in the house, you really will find something that will satisfy you that (hopefully) is a better, healthier choice. If it IS in the house, it is going to get eaten (I’m looking at you, Costco-big-bag-o-snacks.)

Well, that’s more than enough chit chat for one morning! I’m off to try to get back into my quilting groove!

Revisiting Homemade Yogurt

Recently blog buddy Jill sent me a link to an interesting article about an Indian woman who  brought some yogurt starter with her when she moved to the United States. And she has used that same starter to make her yogurt for the last forty years! That kind of inspired me to make yogurt again. In the past, I always thought the yogurt got weaker, so periodically I would buy a new yogurt from the grocery store to start my yogurt. I’m going to see how long I can keep this batch going!


I wrote out instructions on how I make my yogurt here. Its very simple, with little to no clean-up necessary. I like my homemade yogurt because it is not that tangy. But if you want it tangier, just leave it out overnight. I did this with the last batch, and it is quite tangy!

Here’s a picture of my straining set-up. If you like your yogurt thicker, just strain it through coffee filters for about 20 minutes. See that glass of yellow liquid? I save the liquid I strain out of the yogurt (the whey) to make my smoothies with. It adds a certain delicious ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the smoothie.

DSCN3163My favorite ways to eat the yogurt are currently:

  • with a topping of Shelley’s most excellent granola
  • in a smoothie, mixed with frozen strawberries, the whey, and some spinach
  • topped with Bob’s Redmill Muesli and a few mini chocolate chips (for dessert.)

Some Eats, and Some Garden Treats

As far as the garden goes, part of me feels like we are on the never-ending death march towards fall. I am hopeful that I can keep all the Japanese maples watered well enough so that I get some fall color this year. I’m pruning back most of the flowers in the hopes that I’ll get some fresh blooms. I’m contemplating putting in a drip system. Almost every day I spend some time watering, and soaking the trees. I put the hose on very low by a tree, and run back in the house and set the timer for 20 or 30 minutes. I’m thinking about whether I want to add more stone paths or more beds. There’s a little more room out there! MLG says we are due for a La Nina this fall. I don’t particularly like rain, but I would welcome some water to fill up my well (I don’t really know how that works, but I think it will help.) In the meantime, the weather is heading back up to over 100 degrees by the weekend.

I’ve been enjoying little mini-bouquets. Petunias actually last a long time as cut flowers!


And here’s that white daylily. Surrounded by the forest of fairy impatiens. I’ve learned a bit about self-seeding plants this year. I only had 2 fairy impatiens last year, in two different locations. I was so excited to have so many little seedlings in the spring, that I let most of them grow. That was too much! They have done well, and are very pretty. But there are places where the plants below them are not getting any sun at all. I have started ruthlessly weeding some of them out.


Here’s a new recipe I developed, Blueberry Protein Coffee Cake. I really like it, and its a good source of protein for a breakfast cake. The recipe inspiration was Georgie’s Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake. I love it filled with blueberries, and decided I didn’t need the cinnamon streusel at all.


And I know you won’t believe it, but I never buy raw shrimp. I just buy the ones that are already cooked. Lately those have been rather pricey, so when I saw these raw shrimps on sale, I bought them. Oh, yum yum. I just put five shrimpies in a sandwich bag with some mashed garlic and a teaspoon of olive oil. I cooked them on a little cast iron pan, which I think helps with getting that nice crust on them.

Here I served them over some veggies and some of those edamame noodles.  BTW, those edamame noodles are so good, but very dry. I still need to find some way to serve them that does not involve a bucket of olive oil. Any ideas?


My favorite meal this summer is taco salad. Ever since Cammy shared Pancho’s Tropical salad dressing recipe (which I adjusted for my own needs) I can’t get enough of it. I think I really like the taste of cumin. And of course, it is a bit sweet. I bought some turkey burger patties at Costco that I didn’t particularly like. They worked perfect for turning into the taco meat. (I just use the packaged taco seasoning.) As you know, there are a ton of things that you can add to taco salad, but most of the time I opt for these simple ingredients. (if I have cilantro in the fridge, I like to add that too.) I chop them up, put them in the big bowl, and dress them with that salad dressing, and then dump the taco meat on top. Here is a link to my version of the tropicale dressing. 


And that’s just about all the news that’s fit to print around here. I spend a lot of time every day in the studio, working on my art. Click on over to The Other Blog, if you want to see what’s new.

Sweet Stuff


You’ve heard me talk about the Nutrition Action Healthletter before. Every month they have some very tasty looking recipes included, and last month the recipes were for desserts. Well, you know I kept that issue. This week the opportunity to try out a couple of the recipes came around. I am having a couple of ladies over (on two separate days!) and the recipe for Apple Almond Custard Cake sounded just right for dessert after a salad lunch. The recipe called for four apples, sliced thin (Lori, I was really wishing I had your spiralizer this morning,) and also included almond meal (and remember, I have that cashew meal in my cupboard.)


The second recipe on the same page was calling to me. And I remembered that I had bought some 80% chocolate in “the bins” at a Sprouts grocery. I was disappointed when I tasted it–too bitter for me, but I thought that using it to make these Chocolate, Fruit, and Nut clusters might be just the thing to sweeten it up a bit.


These are really tasty, and one is a nice sized dessert treat for 140 calories. Oh, and here’s a tip on substitutions–I made half the recipe with 4 1/2 ounces of chocolate, and then deduced that for half the recipe you can use 1 cup of nuts of your choice, and 1 1/2 cups of dried unsweetened fruit of your choice. I used walnuts, raisins, and apricots.

Well, how about that. Since these are not my recipes, I found a link to a PDF page from the magazine with both recipes included for you!

A Different Kind of Before and After

I had to scan a lot of photos for an upcoming project (I’m actually just happy that I finally know how to scan.) And I found an old picture from when I first moved into this cabin.


Here is the cabin now.


And a bonus recipe idea–one of my sewing ladies served this at lunch last week. The combination was DELICIOUS! Okay, so the original had arugula, watermelon, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. My version has romaine, watermelon, laughing cow lite, and low fat balsamic vinaigrette. You choose–both ways were delicious!


I had it for dinner with one of my ham and cheese muffins. A delightful meal!


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?












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.