This ‘n’ That

I got lots to talk about. First, I thought I’d share a few more pictures of the trees changing color in my yard. It was a very short season of color, but I enjoyed every moment of it.


Red Emperor with Lemon Lime in front:


That’s the dogwood to the left. Even if it doesn’t bloom in the spring, it is always beautiful in the fall.


Recipes and foodie ideas. Lately I’ve been trying out some new recipes. I saw an old picture on my computer which looked like I was trying to make some cranberry-pecan scones. I looked through my blogs, and apparently I never posted anything about it. So I did a google search for cranberry pecan scones and came upon this recipe. When I saw it was from Prevention magazine, I thought it might be slightly healthier than other recipes. It wasn’t as low cal as I usually try for, mostly because it had more nuts and cranberries than I would usually add. I LOVED this recipe. I realized at the end that it had absolutely no sugar in it, so I made a small amount of sugar glaze to put on it at the end. Of course I made a few substitutions. I actually didn’t have enough pecans, so I used walnuts. And I didn’t have whole wheat flour, so I ground some oats in my mini food processor and used that instead. I really like the way oats taste in baked goods.

Then a couple of weeks later, I wanted some real banana nut muffins. And I found this recipe.I liked it too! The title said they were healthy. Once again I ground oats to use as the flour. I did use about 1/4 cup of regular wheat flour. Oh, and I didn’t have maple syrup so I substituted honey. But I did make a note to myself that they were too sweet. So I will try again without the honey after I finish all of these.

I’m eating more eggs. I like them scrambled for dinner with some onions, potatoes, spinach, and sometimes a few bacon crumbles.

One day I wanted some salsa. And even though I haven’t made it for ages, I suddenly remembered how easy it was to make. I put two roma tomatoes and one slice of onion in the mini food processor. I added salt and pepper and some cilantro, and then just a bit of balsamic vinegar. YUMM!!!

Sunday I had my sister and her husband over for a pre-Christmas dinner. I get occasional emails from a dietician, Vincci Tsui. She has changed from a “diet” dietician to a HAES dietician, which is interesting. Anyway, one day she mentioned this gingerbread cake. It caught my eye because the recipe was from a famous quilter who used to be a food blogger. So I made the cake. It was moist and delicious. I did not make any substitutes for this recipe. I found a buttercream recipe and iced it with that.

Well, its Christmastime and for me that means baking a few things. I forget how much I enjoy baking. To keep things under control, I limit myself to making one kind of cookie and one candy (which is always my grandma’s cinnamon walnuts.) This year I found a recipe for traditional scottish shortbread, which seemed exactly the same as the one our grandma used to make. You have to work all the butter into the dough with your fingers. Which takes a long time. Anyway, they came out perfect. It was a fun gift for my sister–two of our grandma’s favorite confections. I also made my mom’s favorite fruitcake. I know. Nobody likes fruitcake. But honestly, if you saw the recipe (lots of butter) and smelled the house (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and brandy) you would like it too! Its not so filled with that stupid fruit. I only put some of the cherries, and dates and pecans in it. And then you put a little brandy on it every day for two weeks (or until you have to take it to your mom’s.)

The takeover. I have a small log holder next to my wood stove. But several years ago, the girls claimed it as the best most warmest spot in the house. So I made a pillow to fit in it for them. Bess usually occupies the spot (because Sophie would rather be on my lap) but occasionally Sophie gets first dibs. I couldn’t believe it when Bess very gingerly stepped up onto the throne in an attempt to takeover the spot. There was no fighting or carrying on. Just a gentle takeover.




Well, that’s quite long enough for now. If I don’t post again, I hope you all have a Wonderful Peaceful Merry Christmas.


This ‘n’ That

Well, I’m home for a quick 48 hours between trips. I’ve got a few thoughts to get off my mind, and some fun stuff to report, so here goes:

Update on “The Best.” Thanks for all the fun comments on that blog. I did get the Sonicare toothbrush. It is impressively heavy-duty brushing. It doesn’t make me feel like I just got my teeth cleaned, and I can tell that it does not replace flossing, so I’m trying to carry on with that chore. The jury won’t be in until I get my teeth cleaned next spring, and I find out if it has had a positive effect.

About that candy corn….. My final word on the best candy corn is that stolen candy corn is the very best. By that I mean that getting a small handful from one of those containers that people put out on desks or counters is the best. Stolen candy corn tastes the best, and also it limits your consumption to about half a serving (70 calories.) It doesn’t look right to steal more than half a serving. In addition, there is no candy corn left over in the pantry to bother you. I did try both Zachary’s and Brach’s. I have a feeling that “the best” between these two brands just depends on which brand you are able to get at peak freshness. The only difference I saw in the list of ingredients was that Brach’s contained a small amount of sesame oil(???) and Brach’s also had more sodium, although both of them were fairly low in sodium. Anyway, there you go. I promise not to talk about candy corn on this blog for at least a couple of years 🙂

Oh, but I have to mention one more thing. I decided that because I am 60 years old, I no longer have to eat things I don’t like. And that includes the white tips of the candy corn 🙂


Where I was: I was in Houston at the biggest quilt show in the United States! I went with my BF, Robin, who flew in from Oregon. We had so much fun–I wrote more about it on my quilting blog. We ate out at some fabulous restaurants (sorry, no pics) and I filled in for some meals with my Quest bars. One night Robin went to dinner with her Facebook friends, and I took the night off and had dinner in my room–a pizza bagel, an apple, and diet coke. So much fun, to just give yourself the gift of a little down time to relax.


It just so happens that Houston is kinda sorta in the same vicinity as Shelley. With some iffy weather and big city scary driving, I owe a HUGE thank you to Shelley for being willing to pick me up in Houston so that we could have a fun day of visiting. I wrote about what we did over on my quilting blog, but here are a few highlights that I didn’t mention over there. Shelley and Julia (her running buddy that came with her to pick me up,) said that I needed to visit Buc-Ee’s. Wow. I don’t know how to describe it. Kind of like a truck stop on Steroids. Gifts, food, gift food, junk food, Texas clothing… anyway, that was fun, and here are Shelley and I with Buc-Ee.


Shelley and I like a lot of the same things: talking, writing, talking about writing, eating, food, hand stitching (that includes knitting) and watching TV shows. It was so fun to visit, and go to some of Shelley’s favorite hang outs and eating joints (yes, I finally got back to the fabulous Blue Baker and had a cinnamon twist,) but most of all fun to sit and stitch and visit and watch some shows, including Dancing with the Stars!

We ate at Harvey Wallbangers. The sign says “EAT…DRINK…DO LAUNDRY.” They really do have a huge laundromat at the back of the restaurant. And they had delicious food!


Shelley’s stitching:


Paco the Wonder Dog enjoys just a bit of frozen yogurt. I can’t imagine where he got that from 🙂


Traveling home was a very long day. Three different planes, three different airports, and two different time zones. I was so happy to get home and see my girls (Noah is still away at “camp,”) and I think they were happy to see me too. Here we are the first night:


The gift of a day off. I only have two days at home before leaving again. The first day I did a few chores, but mostly just sat around. I was super tired. The second day (today) I planned to go to the gym and to the grocery store to get a few staples. But just as I was planning to leave, I looked through the kitchen to see if I still had some decent food for lunch and dinner, and sure enough, I did. I decided I could stay home, and what a delightful decision.  Sometimes you just have to be willing to think about what you really need, and how best to accomplish that. I needed a little more home time. Bess and Sophie agree.


(this perch next to the wood stove is the premier spot in the house in winter. Sophie thinks she can stare Bess out of it.)

Out of Town

Yes, that’s right. I am going out of town again. I am leaving this week on a trip to Haiti, which I am combining with a pleasure trip to visit a friend.

But what I want to write about was “how I ate” on my most recent trip to a quilt event. Yes, again. I am writing about how I eat when I travel. This time I tried a few new things, and so thought my experiences were worth talking about.

The event was the Ricky Tims Super Quilt Seminar. This is a very good, very organized event. The hours run long, but they put plenty of breaks between sessions–time to move around and yes, eat. For those of you who aren’t quilters, this is a “no sew” event. It is all demonstration and information, and you don’t have to bring your machine or supplies with you. I really liked that, since I usually end up making something I don’t like in most of the workshops I attend! Plus, easy peasy!


Ricky does a concert and inspirational talk on one of the evenings. He plays a grand piano, but I couldn’t get a good shot of that. This is one of his Indian flutes.


Alex Anderson and Pam Holland also presented informative and inspirational talks.


Back to our food discussion! That last trip I took out of town I ate a little too much sugar and wheat, and I didn’t like how I felt. So I left determined to not eat (much) sugar or wheat on this trip.

Here’s a few of the things I did. I took my own yogurt and granola with me. I took some of my low calorie baked goods with me for breakfasts. I took some of my favorite Quest protein bars. And I grabbed my bag of Skinny Pop popcorn for snacks in the evening.


I knew there was a Costco just down the road from the hotel I was staying in. So after I made sure there was a little fridge in the room, I headed over to Costco for a bag of my favorite salad mix–the Kale Superfoods salad. This salad still seems like a treat to me. While I was there, I got a box of their cherries. I was set! I had food for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and would only eat out for dinner.

My favorite department at Costco!

My favorite department at Costco!

In the morning, I checked out the breakfast buffet, and got a few eggs to try (yuck–discarded.) I ate my own muffin and had some coffee. But look! I had a container for my salad!


Here’s how to pack your yogurt and granola for lunch, if you forgot your little container with the ice in the lid… (file under: where there’s a will, there’s a way.)


Every afternoon they had a 45 minute break about 3pm. Ahhh, just the right time for my coffee break! (and mandatory Quest bar.)


Now, in the interest of full disclosure on “how I eat when I travel,” let me fill in the blanks. The first night I had dinner with some old friends. I made a good choice for my dinner, and for whatever reason, they did not serve bread with dinner!! Weird. But good for me, because if it was there, I would have eaten it.

The second night the hotel had given me a free entree coupon for my favorite restaurant–Texas Roadhouse. And oh yes, I certainly did eat their bread. And the third night I went with some new friends to a local hamburger joint! That was really delicious. We split an order of garlic fries three ways, and the burger was really normal sized. I really enjoyed that meal.

Oh, and one day I had time to drive around the town a bit, and happened upon a See’s Candy store. Ruh roh. But I have a new plan. If I do go in, I only buy 2 pieces. So much better than going in and buying half a pound and then trying to NOT eat it all at once!

The event ended at 5:30 on Saturday night, and I thought that I would stop for dinner on the way home. But I decided that I really wanted to get home and could wait until then to eat. Only thing was, I needed to go to the bathroom. Okay, perhaps I could have found a bathroom somewhere besides in the Coldstone Creamery… That was probably my poorest decision all weekend. But I enjoyed my small serving, and even left a bit of it uneaten. And that was dinner.

So even though I did not stick completely with my plan of no sugar/no wheat, my food amounts and choices were quite reasonable, and I did not gain an ounce. I kept in mind some very good advice from my friend, Cammy:

Adaptability – It’s good to have a plan, but sometimes life interferes and the plan gets fuzzy. In the past I had an ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset and generally caved into the chaos. I still do that sometimes, but more often than not, I’ve learned to adjust and adapt and do the best I can in a given situation.

Back home, the little dogs were happy to see me. Speaking of adapting to a given situation, they seem to adjust quite easily to all the changes around here.

The living room awaits new floors,windows, and wall paint.

The living room awaits new floors,windows, and wall paint.

The "dining room" aka furniture storage receptacle.

The “dining room” aka furniture storage receptacle.

As long as they have a soft bed and a heater, they are happy.

Monk and Bess share the bed next to the wood stove.

Monk and Bess share the bed next to the wood stove.

The queen on her dirty laundry throne.

The queen on her dirty laundry throne.

Monk and Sophie share a little bed in the studio (do you see the theme here?)

Monk and Sophie share a little bed in the studio (do you see the theme here?)

And now I must end and pack my bags (and do a million other last minute things! Eek!) I will have lots of adventures to tell you about when I return!


Is Popcorn a Vegetable and Other Silly Questions

I want popcorn tonight.  I wasn’t that hungry for dinner.  So I skipped the vegetable, and just had a bowl of that cottage cheese/pineapple/walnuts that I like so much.  I usually ALWAYS have a vegetable with dinner.   Thus my wishful thinking that popcorn is a vegetable.

About that not being hungry tonight.  We had a very special moving away/retirement party for one of our pastors who is 84 years old!  Man, that kind of thing makes me a little embarrassed to be retired.  Only a little.  Anyway, quite a few little things were really bothering me before I went, and I did say to myself “I’M GONNA EAT ALL THAT FOOD.”  I pretty much knew it was only going to be desserts.  And it was.  And I did.  And since he is a most-loved pastor, everybody had outdone the other in making their most special homemade desserts.  I have not had that much dessert in a long long time.  Yumm.  (I’m sorry.)

I came home and made some of those little tasty healthy cookies (no sugar except the chocolate in them.  Remember, I use half the amount of chocolate in the recipe and it is still quite a lot.)  I had already planned on making them before the dessert debacle happened.  But they will be a good thing to have on hand, should the urge for dessert arise in the next few days.

Oh.  Popcorn.  Does anybody else do this?  I use Cammy’s paper bag method of making microwave popcorn, and then I spray the popcorn with Pam (well, the Costco brand) and salt.  Most yummy, just enough oil to make the salt stick.  And it tastes fresher than any microwave popcorn I used to have.

Handy dandy kitchen devices.

This is a little hand held mandolin.  It is super sharp, and I love the way it shreds carrots and zucchini.    And just about anything else.  It has a little plastic guard to keep it safe when you’re not using it.

I love these cups so much.   They have some kind of liquid in them that freezes and keeps your drinks super cold without diluting them.  My diet cokes (sorry) stay cold AND fizzy.  And I’ve been using them for my iced coffees too.

And my Magic Bullet.  I was kind of mean to my Magic Bullet when I first got it.  I gave it a pretty bad review.  But I’ve come to love it a lot since then.  I use the little cup and the short blade continuously as my coffee grinder!  (no more pre-ground for me, Lori!)  And I have had lots of success making smoothies.  I really like that you can make it in the cup and then drink it out of the same cup.  Cause you know what’s really really bad about cooking all your food from scratch?  DISHES.  Lately, I am SICK of washing dishes.

Well, these guys aren’t kitchen appliances.  But they both like the kitchen.  Cause that’s where their food comes from.  Which, BTW.  The queen and her lady-in-waiting had quite a tussle over ONE PIECE of kibble that fell on the floor.  The queen was almost mortally wounded.  So its nice to see them sharing Mr. Monk’s chair (don’t know what’s up with that…)

I know.  There was only one question.  Sue me.