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.

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?