Saturday, April 21, 2018

WHAT "Tiger Blood"???

I'm on Day 19 of Whole30, and supposedly, Days 17-ish to 20-ish are when you feel "energetic, ready to tackle the world, and have Tiger Blood."

Well. 

Not so much. 

I mean, I'm feeling like I'm going backward. I know part of my problem is portion control, as well as knowing that I have a problem with sweets. But I'm not feeling the light, feeling the better sleep, and feeling that ZIP that we're supposed to feel. 

But then there's the asterisk.... *your results may be different*... So I think I may have to do another round, lighten up on the portions (particularly of meat and fat, and have fruit only occasionally) and see if I can drop more pounds. I also think that taking another round will push the sweet tooth farther in the background. 


The meal planning has been good for me. And lucky for me, I'm not easily bored, so I'm kind of in a "the usual" for breakfast, and I'm not tired of eggs. Yet. 

I bought 4 large portobella mushroom caps, and roasted them. So dinner the other night was a mushroom cap with cauliflower rice + spinach, some cherry tomatoes and bacon. 

There's a question, maybe, on whether it's portobella or portabello... Either way: big, meaty mushrooms. 

Roasting was the easiest thing: just rinse them off, rub the top with a little olive oil, and place on a roasting pan, gill side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then flip them over and roast for another 5 minutes. 

They'll keep for about a week, and I'm kind of moving through ways to jazz them up and eat them. 

Breakfast today was 2 eggs, mushroom, and my usual salsa and avocado. 

I left the yolks a little more runny - more a matter of timing than anything. Sometimes, I misjudge and it's not as cream and "yolk-y" as I'd like. 

The thing is the texture. The texture of the yolk contrasts with the salsa. And then there's the creaminess of the avocado. All with the undercurrent of the meaty mushroom base and it's got protein, appropriate fat, the veg and the hot/cold buzz to the tastebuds. 

I'd encourage you to give it a try. 

Dinner tonight was courtesy of Hubby, as I had a class to teach. Pork loin, sweet potato hash and broccoli. I added a mayo dip to it (there's got to be what's called "plated fat" in the meal), and then I had a banana. I hadn't had fruit all day, so I figured that would be ok. 

Tomorrow, I'm likely to revisit that breakfast, have a salad for lunch and then something will present itself for dinner. It's been another weekend where it's all gone woooooooooosh and I'm not sure that I'm ready for it to be Sunday tomorrow!

Zonta Club...

So I'm a member of our local Zonta Club. It's an organization concerned with advancing the status of women. We do service projects around the town, and today we were cleaning up the gardens at the Joliet Hospice. I got to prune a tree... and then we plucked the "reeds" out of the spent lilies so that they can re-flower this spring. 

We spent two hours doing the work. Bending over. I ended up teaching my "crew member" (dwindled from 4 of us to 2 of us as the others got assigned to other spots) how to properly bend, because she was complaining about her back. 

The person coordinating the clean-up was very grateful, it was just cool enough and just cloudy enough to make it bearable, and yes, that's my jacket hanging off the tree. It's not the tree I pruned, but after wrestling with the one I had to trim, I was warm!

And now I'm sore!! I've been having trouble with my hip, and even though I was practicing proper technique, I've got a sore rear end!

But the gardens are gorgeous.

After we were done, I meandered down to the creek that borders the one edge of the hospice's property. 

You can see how tranquil it would be for a stroll or just to look out the windows. It's a beautiful property. 

Meeting with friends...

The other day, I met with a friend of mine. She's recently retired and it had been a while - since the Women's March in January - that we'd been able to spend time with each other. 

We had a great time, but before that, I was running early, so I drove through our local park. It's being rehabbed, and wowza - the roads are lovely, and the signage is all fixed up. 

So as I was traveling through the park, I stopped dead when I saw this little guy... Well, I'm not sure whether it's a guy or a gal. But the man who's parked outside the frame says that "it" comes out about lunchtime every day, and he shares his lunch with it. 

I'm not sure how I feel about feeding the wildlife. But it looks like the creature was foraging in the garbage anyway. 

It was great to see my friend. We got to vent to each other about the "stuff" we needed to release, and we made tentative plans to meet up to shop - she's got a kid getting married, and needs to work with a Mother of the Groom dress. 

I don't do that often. I know it sounds cliche, but my schedule is pretty tightly regimented, and if something's thrown off, then the whole thing goes kabloooey. 

I find, though, that I need to get together with friends. I need to sometimes not be in charge of stuff. I'm finding that I need those relationships to keep me on an even keel. 

All work and no play makes me cranky. 

Random Picture...

When I got home from the garden jaunt, I had to prep for the class I was teaching - it was a "Ditch & Switch" class for Young Living Essential Oils and I was working on handouts and the stuff you prep for being able to present. 

Anyway, this is what greeted me when I came home. She actually sat there, didn't move, didn't woof, didn't whine. 

Sat there. While I walked in, dropped my stuff off, went to pet the elkhounds, went to the bathroom, and THEN...

When I sat down in front of my computer, she decided to waddle herself off the couch to say hello. 

She continues to amaze me with her personality. She's aloof, but cuddly. She wants to be petted, and yet she'll walk away. 

Can't quite figure her out some days. Some days, she's a "mama's dog" and some days, I don't exist. 

Which is fine with me. We all have our days. Even our dog days. 







Sunday, April 15, 2018

Hangry Pains...

Up till a few days ago, I thought I was sailing along pretty well with Whole30. I did have a "not quite prepared" start, but I'd gotten some really good meal prep done, did the shopping, and had all my fruits and veg ready to go. I'm not sick of eggs (yet), and I'm learning the joys of home-made mayo and "Dump Ranch." (Though my recipe turned out a bit too salty.)

Then came Days 12 and 13.... Yikes! Bored, angry, hungry, "hangry," frustrated. Felt bloated and "fat" even though I've stuck to every rule and done everything, including more yoga and making myself move more (I have a job where I sit far, far too much). 

On the "timeline," it indicates that days 10 through 12 can be the "roughest" days on the plan. Well, I went a few days over and had my tantrums (in my mind) this past few days. Today was much better, thanks, and I feel like I'm doing ok. 

This morning, I made "cauliflower rice hash" -- cauliflower rice, shredded carrot, a couple cloves of fresh garlic and a handful of spring onions. It turned out well, and also of course, my Penzey's spices... This will do me for a couple of days - because I used some for breakfast with an egg and compliant chicken/apple sausage and some Wholly Guacamole.  

Wholly Guacamole has become my BFF. I love avocados, and Hubby has gotten good at picking them out at the proper stages so we don't have "Instant Avocado Death."

But Wholly Guacamole is my answer to the fact that sometimes, the avocados are whoppers, and I have yet to figure out how to keep a half fresh for more than a nanosecond. 

Breakfast is at the left here. It was delicious. 

So - "Instant Avocado Death" goes something like this... Just bought avocados, put them in fridge. They're hard as a rock. They're hard as a rock. They're hard as a rock... Two days pass, you desperately need an avocado for something. 

It's dead. 

You know how that goes. And they're not cheap. It's frustrating because that "soft spot" actually means that you have to use the blasted thing within 24 hours... Or else. There's nothing deader than a dead avocado.

You can search for "dump ranch" - it has its own life... It's good, but mine is definitely salad dressing and not dip. I don't know what I did wrong. But it's also salty - so I think the 1 tsp. of salt can be halved. I used a big bunch of cilantro, so my dressing is more "green goddess" than ranch, but I can live with it. 

I was getting a little bored with V & O...And I bought a compliant dressing. And just about had a heart attack - $6.99 for a bottle, and it's about 9 oz!! Yikes... 

Anyway, I'm on day 14, so things are going ok, and I can really see myself doing this for a longer time. At least 99% - I'm not sure how breakfast will fit in long-term. That's been my biggest struggle. 

Knitting...

Moving along on Close to You. Working on the 10th point, out of 18. I can make it bigger if I want to, but I'm going to see what's going on first. I'd like to "biggen" it a bit, but we'll see how the yarn goes. I really love how this yarn is laying out the colors. It's Expression Fiber Arts, colorway Stone Tulips. 

I don't know if the colorway is available anymore, but you can check. Her patterns are interesting and her colorways are lovely - you feel like you could dive in and just roll around in them. 

This one is the "brightest" that I've knitted with and it's got an interesting twist to it. It's like the stitch definition has gone into high-def with this, and I'm pretty sure that blocking will make this shawl much larger than mine done with another sock yarn. 

This is sock weight, but I can't imagine it on feet. I don't know - it just seems that it's calling to be a shawl. Whether it's the twist to the yarn, or its density as I'm stitching it...not sure what but it does seem to fit a wearable on the upper half of the body - it might even make a pretty nifty hat. Definitely a cowl if I thought about it. 

But not socks. I'm just not sure. I've watched Chandi's site, and I get the emails. And frankly, I see everything BUT socks made with her yarn. She's got a gorgeous V-neck short-sleeved sweater on there, but right now? $120 in yarn is out of my budget...even with her discount. 

I'm taking the travel sock to work tomorrow and will work on it at lunch. I would normally, in the middle of April, take a walk. But there's a "wintry mix" forecast for the day, so I'm planning on walking up and down the office hall, and then knitting. It's the best I can do till Mother Nature gets done having a hissy fit.

Maybe Spring...

Last week, I was able to get out for a walk since it hit 70 degrees (before the bottom dropped out and it got ugly again). I hadn't really walked around the neighborhood near the office, but I did and I found a park where I could sit and contemplate - except for the noisy, exuberant soccer players on spring break! 

That being said, I found a retention pond, and aside from all the nasty looking trash that people tossed in (can't call 'em pigs, because that's insulting to porcine creatures...), I found ducks. I was able to stroll around and just enjoy the fresh air. 

The pine trees were bursting with life: both pine cones ready to disgorge their seeds, and birds - in fact a couple of birds were annoyed that I got close. As long as they weren't dive-bombing me, I was happy. I didn't care to get crapped on and then have to go to work in pooped-on clothes! 

In fact, the sunrise was beautiful. I was running late, but I still snapped a picture of it because it was just. Beautiful. 

Lately, even though I feel like I'm chasing my tail, I've found myself looking up. 

Taking time to just look up and see what's in front of me. It's all too easy to not think about it, because you're busy or time's flying or there's the next thing to get on to.

But if you look up, you'll see some stunning things, courtesy of the same Mother Nature who's now having a temper tantrum and throwing snowflakes our way. 

That being said, I'm happy we're not getting what the UP in Michigan is getting or what they're getting in Minneapolis. 

Thanks, but we'll take our flakes and get over ourselves. 

There's a quote:  "No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn." That's worth remembering. 

Also, remember to look up. It's pretty up there.

Random Picture... 

This one isn't actually random. I'm feeling like things are in the balance. I'm not sure what the "balance" is yet. Or whether I'm the one balanced - or not balanced. 

This is a formation from Granite City State Park, from the last trip Kid #2 and I did together. Not that it was the "last" last - just the most recent one. 

We're not going anywhere this year. I'm going to visit Kid #1. That gives Kid #2 time to work on some projects and gives us time to plan our next adventure. 

This is actually a space we walked through to get to the other side. "Why did the chicken cross..." -- well, the path went through this formation and I admit to crossing myself, holding my breath and kind of rushing through this. 

Notwithstanding the fact that it's stood there for God-knows-how-long... I was more than half-way to believing that I'd be the one it would tumble upon.

It didn't. We survived a blistering, humid August day on our way down to Oxford, MS, and we were only disappointed that we couldn't stick around for lunch at the lodge. 

Supposed to be the best fried chicken in the entire state of Illinois. Who knew?














Monday, April 09, 2018

Wait...Was That the Weekend???

...so I blinked and the weekend went woooooooooooooooshhhh and now it's Monday...

I'm not quite sure where it went, but it went there fast. Most of Sunday was spent on food prep for the week. And here we go...

Whole 30...

First, I prepared a roast chicken. This little bird got carrots and leeks in the cavity, and a rubdown with olive oil. Then, some frozen sage was tucked into the breast meat area under the skin. A little water, a thermometer and pop-you-go into the oven for about an hour or so. 

I want to get a better meat thermometer, but what we have works, so I can't really complain. I just like the old one (it died).

After I finished the chickie-bird, Hubby dissected it and then I froze the carcass for use making bone broth. 

That was, at least, the plan for the weekend - doing as much prep as I could so that I wasn't scrambling for meals. The Non-Scotch eggs were done, and I then turned to the veggies. 

The prep area of the kitchen was a bit crowded after a quick trip to the store, but I got everything portioned out. The sausages were individually wrapped and tucked away. I found some uncured Polish sausage (yay!) and I made up several packages for future use. Hubby and I actually love that grilled, so it's going to be a nice thing to dive into now and in the future. The mushrooms were used for my "squash surprise" and I cleaned up a nice fresh leek. 

Cleaning leeks is easy and it's important, unless you like chewing on sand. Cut off the green part of the leek, and then split the white part down the middle. Rinse it thoroughly under running water and spread apart the layers to get all the way down in there. 

Hubby likes to dice his. I like to slice mine. I took one half and put it in a little zipper bag for the freezer. The other half went into Squash Surprise. Leeks freeze well, and since you have to cook them anyway, it doesn't matter what their texture is after being frozen. 

Then I started on the squash, after rinsing them in Young Living Essential Oils Thieves Fruit & Veggie wash. It really takes the "stuff" off your veggies. Even the wax on the cucumbers comes right off. 

Put a couple teaspoons of it in a bowl of cool water, plunk in the veggies, and let them sit for about 2 minutes. Rinse. Good to go...

I rinsed the mushrooms in plain water, gently rubbing them to get rid of the dirt. 

Sliced them up, sliced up the yellow and zucchini, sliced up several carrots on the bias and a parsnip. 

Sauteed the leeks and about 3 cloves of chopped garlic in a saute pan with a little olive oil, then removed those items and set them aside. While those were cooking, I boiled the carrots and parsnip for about 6 minutes in a pan to start them softening - I wanted to partially cook them so they wouldn't take forever, or burn while I was trying to put this all together. 

I added everything except the leeks + garlic back into the pan, added salt, pepper, and Penzey's Spices Mural of Flavor salt-free blend, and some tarragon. Stir it around, let it cook a bit, so the mushrooms and squash give up their juice. 

Then add in the leeks and garlic, stir it all up, and when the carrots and parsnips are just past fork-tender, you're done!

Squash surprise. 

You can use this as a base - add tomatoes if you want. Serve as a side dish, or on top of pasta or spaghetti squash. It would also be great on top of rice with some pulled chicken, or if you add some beans, you have a nice vegetarian dish. I put it with some cod that I cooked up so it was almost a "fish stew" kind of thing. And otherwise? I'd be good with it alongside scrambled eggs, or inside an omelette. 

So. Veggies done, fish done, chicken done... I also roasted some asparagus, but ran out of both energy and time to make an asparagus soup. 

I also used a little of my fresh mayo and made up a "ranch" style dressing! 

I was a little sparse on protein today for the salad, but I survived! And I think I'm ahead for the week, in total. I have a meeting tomorrow, and I have no idea what's on the menu (I guess I could read the newsletter for our group...). I know I'll have to wing it. So I'll likely bring my own dressing and hope there's nothing breaded on the plate. Or I'll eat the salad and veg and bring the meat home for Hubby. 

Knitting...

Shout-out to Sandy at Rembrandt Yarns!! I got my sock yarn, and I can't wait to knit this one up! She was prompt and kind about getting me what I ordered - and she let me keep the worsted weight skein! I have some lovely white/cream yarn that will go with the worsted weight, so I can make a shawl with it. Or maybe a hat. I'll have to see. 

Here's the sock yarn. Sorry about the shadow of my hand - I thought the flash took off, and I didn't notice it till now. 

I did another point on the Close to You shawl as I was in between cooking tasks. Hubby said that was as much cooking as I'd done in the past 6 months, and he's right. 

Now if I can up my knitting, I'll be in good shape. This sock yarn is destined for a shawl of some sort - it's too pretty for feet. And the sock blank I ordered will definitely be a pair of socks - maybe that's the time I'll shoot for trying a cable up one side? Up both sides??? Hmmmmmm. 

Lots of options, for sure. 

Random Picture...

Well, not entirely random. This was on my drive to work. Yes, it's April 9. And yes, that's snow. And yes, we're all kind of over it. 

And yes. There may be more coming. 

It depends on how the latest weather pattern unfolds. Could just be rain, which is good, but could also be snow. 

Which is weird. 

I'm in a strange state. I feel kind of bloated and tired, as I'm trying to clean up my diet and habits. I'm so impressed with the kindness of some people. And then, in the space of 10 minutes, going to the grocery store, I almost get T-boned because two guys (yes, they were guys, because I saw them as they looked right at me) blew stop signs at the side roads and careened onto the main road, cutting me off. 

I was trying to be kind about the first one, figuring "maybe there was a family emergency. After the second one in a few blocks, I went right to "dirtbag morons." 

Maybe I'm in the same tizzy as Mother Nature - we're not sure WHAT she's up to lately! 












Saturday, April 07, 2018

Just Sitting Here...

...wondering. 

Why would one of my posts take off like a scared rabbit? I mean, yeah, I'd love to be a popular blogger and see all of my posts reach into the 100s and beyond, consistently. I'd love comments, too. I'd love to get to know each of you because I do have a certain number of regular readers, I hope!

But one of my posts has gone well over 100 views, and mostly from Europe. Call me suspicious, but with all the 'bots and trolls, I have to wonder why THAT post has gone up and up and up. 

And I have no idea. It wasn't controversial. It wasn't particularly funny... Hmmmmmmm. The things you contemplate with a mug of tea on a Saturday night...

Whole 30...

So I'm on Day 6, and I think I just might have used a dressing with sugar in it. I'm not planning to start over, which is technically in the rules. I'm just going to chalk it up and move forward. What I did today was some prep work. Hubby helped by grinding up about 2 lbs. of pork for me to make my own "pork sausage," which involved the use of Penzey's Spices, their "Tsardust Memories" blend. It's really yummy!! 

I made Non-Scotch Eggs for a "portable" breakfast. I figure I can zap one in the microwave and eat it on the go, which is usually how I'm managing breakfast these days... The photo at the right is one I grabbed off the internet. Mine aren't so pretty. But they'll do. 

The recipe is my own version of a Paleo one that I was given. If you haven't read a sausage roll package lately, take a look. Lots of "stuff" in there that you need a dictionary or a chemistry degree to decipher. 

I had 2 lbs. of ground pork, 1 large shallot, a tablespoon of Tsardust spice blend, two turns of the pepper grinder, and an egg. I didn't add any extra salt because Tsardust has salt in it. Oh, and I tossed in a quarter-sized pile of tarragon leaves. 

Saute the diced shallot in a pan with a little olive oil, just till it softens and gets a little golden. Drain it. Add it to the meat mixture and all the spices, with the raw egg. Mix it all very well. Start the oven - about 325 will do. 

You need hard-boiled eggs, peeled. About 4 or so... Doesn't even matter if they "peel pretty" because you're going to cover them up! 

Grab a portion of the meat mixture and roll it up, then flatten it out to a thin-ish patty. Set a hard-boiled egg in the center, and then wrap the egg in the sausage mixture. Repeat with all your eggs. Set them in a rimmed baking sheet (I lined mine with non-stick tin foil because I hate to scrub pans!) and bake for about 35 minutes. You want the internal temperature to get to 165, since you're using pork. I also sprinkled a little paprika on the top of mine, since they didn't brown the way I liked, but they did cook nicely. Let them set for 10 minutes, if you're planning to eat them right away, or you can let them cool slightly and then store them for your breakfast-on-the-run. 

I used 3 hard-boiled eggs, then made 3 separate patties. I'll figure it all out... 

Still eating the fritatta and again - I'm lucky because I'm not easily bored eating the same thing several days running. Honestly, with my schedule, it's become a habit - it's necessary unless I have time (which I don't) to cook or think up something different each day. 

As for the solution to the "how to store a half of avocado" -- I dipped this one in lemon juice and wrapped it tightly. We'll see how it looks in the morning. 

Shen Yun...

Took my mom and sister to see Shen Yun today at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. It's been remodeled, and we've been a couple of times. I think we have a tradition going. 

We ate at Leland's Legends, which is where I might have screwed up with the dressing... Ah well... We got our "usual" parking spot: in a handicapped space at a dentist's office about 1/2 a block from the theatre. Which is nice, because my mom and sister both are handicapped - one bad leg and one bad hip. 

I drive because I'm the "anal sister" who likes to do the driving when I can. I'm a little troubled, because for the past several months, I've had an issue with my right leg where it hurts to sit for too long - the chiropractor has been working on it and he thinks it's an alignment issue. I've been practicing and teaching yoga all the way through - I can't really stop teaching, but I do watch what I'm doing. Just hurts to drive, which is kind of another story. 

Anyway. If you get a chance to see this show - do it! It's an amazing show, and what surprised me was that it's actually been "stalked" if  you will by the Chinese government. I've provided a link above, so check it out. 

My mom and sister loved it, and our seats, while in the "nosebleed" section of the Paramount, were decreed by them as "keepers" and "you need to get these seats again when we come next time." So I guess I'm the official booking agent... Seriously, though, we were at the very top of the balcony and they were good seats. My mom is short and this was great because there was no tall person in front of her. It wasn't cheap, even for those seats; if you order them online it's a little over $200. But my brother kicks in (he says he'll pay for lunch as long as we don't make him go!). 

The music was lovely, and not too loud. And the dancers? Well, no spoilers here, but it was a combination of athletic and artistic at the same time. And the costumes left us breathless. And that's all I'm telling you. It's a great show, child-friendly, too, if the kiddos can sit for 2+ hours. 

Madame is Not Happy...

Well. Tippi's done it... A while ago, she had a tumor removed from her right back foot. It was benign, thankfully. But for some reason, she's now "worrying" it... to the point where we put her in the Inner Tube of Shame, and used some (supposedly) dog-proof self-adhesive tape on it. The first one, she managed to get off. 

You can see how thrilled she is. I don't think there's anything brewing in there, but we have to keep her from nagging at it, and we want it to dry out. If it doesn't clear up, off to the vet we go. As a therapy dog, she's at the vet pretty regularly, and they usually are able to get her fixed up. 

We'll see if this lasts overnight. 

Random Picture...

This is my grand-cat, Larry, in her pickle box. I can't even tell you the cat toys and "cat houses" I've purchased for this critter. And she loved the pickle box that Kid #1 used to transport a boat-load of homemade pickles one day. 

Larry is a strange bird. I've actually never met her. I've seen her, but she's the shy, retiring type who really only likes Kid #1. I felt bad at first, but then Kid #2 told me that Larry hated him, too, so I don't feel so bad anymore. 

Larry now lives out of state with Kid #1 and I'm hoping to go out there this summer. I have to arrange it with him, and I have to figure out why my leg is bugging me, because I want to drive out. It's only about 10 hours, and I don't mind driving alone. 

It'll be nice to see him, and I've never been to where he lives. And with my own car, if I want to leave, I can! Not that he's going to be overwhelmed with my visit, but I plan to get a hotel. It's just me. I like to be by myself when I travel, because I like the solitude. 

Maybe this time, I'll get to see Larry for more than a nano-second. And maybe, if I'm really lucky, she'll let me pet her! 







Friday, April 06, 2018

Don't Do This...

...seriously strange day today. 

Don't go to work at your church hall when it's being renovated. And there's no water. And no heat. But when you have to do that, at least plan your Whole30 lunch so that you're not (a) tired; (b) cranky; (c) needing to pee (no water, no toilets...); and (d) are next to a fridge filled with donuts. 

Lest you worry, I didn't even peek into the fridge. I did, however, stand over the heat register in the sanctuary to warm my toes and fingers... I spent the morning taking Hubby to the doctor and knitting (more on that below) and then ran to the church, intending to only run off the upcoming week's bulletins. 

Except that I had to do a total re-vamp of the format. Love when that happens. So, I ended up being able to have some hot tea, but crikey!! It was about 65 degrees in there and it was pretty frigid. 

But it got done. And I came home, just about jumped over the dogs, and made a beeline to the "necessary room." 

If only I could print from home! 

And I really wanted to practice my guitar today, but my hands were frozen!! 

Whole 30...

So we did another grocery run and got a few things. As well, I delved into the Whole30 book, and decided that I needed to make homemade mayo. I love a good mayo, and I needed something to bind together a tuna salad, or chicken. Avocado is fantastic, but it only goes so far, and honestly, I'm turned off by the browning, even when I dip the cut half in lemon juice. 

You can look up various Whole30 compliant mayo recipes, so I won't post any here. But it's super simple: lemon (1/2), an egg, oil and salt. I used an immersion blender (stick blender) because even though I have a nice blender, it's a stinker to clean. And I also just blended it all up in a canning jar. Easy and no extra bowl to clean. 

You'll notice that I used my Depression glass reamer. And that's a pretty huge lemon. I let that sit out till it warmed up a bit, rolled it on the counter, and then sliced it in half. It was incredibly easy to ream out the lemon - as opposed to squeezing it and spritzing everything with juice! And then having to chase seeds. 

I grabbed the last of the cheesecloth and strained it into the canning jar, so that I wouldn't be spitting seeds. All told, it took about a minute to do everything. Since it's such a large lemon, it was a bit more juice than the recipe called for. And I just about ran through my (fairly pricey) organic extra-virgin olive oil. 

But it tastes amazing. I can see adding some fresh herbs or my favorite horseradish (fresh or ground, not the "horseradish sauce" you see). And I can see using this as a base for a nice ranch-style dressing. 

I like experimenting with my stash of balsamic vinegar, but I was getting tired of V & O for the salads I've been eating. 

I've been reading about the "expense" of the Whole30 plan, and I agree. To some folks, it can be expensive. I think it depends upon how you shop in the first place. Except for the chocolate addiction I'm trying to ditch, we usually shop pretty close to Whole30 standards. We've been lucky that way, and I know it. If you had to totally revamp the way you shopped and were not used to buying organic or skipping the processed stuff, it would knock you for a loop. Thankfully, Hubby and I usually try to eat "clean" for 85-90% of the time. 

That being said, tonight's dinner was a slice of salmon (made with dill + lemon), 1/2 an avocado, a handful of cherry tomatoes, broccoli and a small baked potato (no butter, but with avocado, it was pretty good!). Since I basically skipped lunch, I could afford a bit of a heavier dinner. I plopped a generous teaspoon of the mayo on top of the fish (I know - it's salmon, but I love tartar sauce and this was as close as I was getting). 

We usually have salmon or cod for a Friday - holdover of being Catholics as youths. And I like fish, so it's all good. 

Tomorrow & Sunday will be meal prep for the week. Normally, I'd do it on one day, but my sister and I are taking my mom to see a play, so that kind of chews up the late morning and afternoon. I'm looking forward to it, but it does cramp my weekend. 

I'm surprised that the sweets craving hasn't really bothered me. But I'm still waiting for the "miracle fat consuming" to happen. I know cutting out the processed foods and sugar will help, but I'm hoping it'll help sooner rather than later. I'm getting anxious. 

Tasks...

I have a task list for the weekend (as we all do, right?) and today I knocked a few things off. Tomorrow looks pretty good if I can get an email and yet another newsletter out before I go with my mom and sis. I hope, in the evening, to either knit or get some practice in. I'm working on a piece or two to start playing in church during the summer. 

The meal prep is part of that. My list in my head is about 3 miles long. But I try to be realistic and not bombard myself. I think it took me a decade or more to learn that balance. But I'm also still learning it...

As, I'm sure, are most of us!

Knitting...

At the doctor's, waiting for Hubby, I did get more done on the Traveling Sock. It doesn't look like much, but it's the cuff done and the plain knitting starting. Now, it'll zoom by. 

Yes, people were looking at me. Like, "what is she doing there?" Not like DPNs aren't seen around town, but perhaps in this office, they're foreign?

Anyway, I was thinking as I was starting the first couple of vanilla rows. 

What if, at random every 4th and 5th row, I threw in 2 pairs of purls, sort of as a little "pop" in the leg? I'm looking at the yarn and trying to decide if the colorway is just too busy or if it would look like I made a mistake. 

But a consistent set of purls would stand out from a random "oops, I forgot where I was." But maybe I need a plainer yarn. Maybe this is just too wild (because of the striping). Would it look better in a pooling kind of set up where you have blocks and blobs of color as opposed to a pretty regimented set-up of self-striping. 

I have to think on that. And -- these are to be "traveling socks." Do I really want to keep track of rows, or do I want to just carry a measuring tape and the instructions on the heel flap? Though, come to think of it, maybe this is a good time to try the Fish Lips Kiss or Sweet Tomato heel. Or revisit the Strong Heel - which I've done on one pair, using Opal yarn, so I'm pretty sure that even though it comes out as a single-knit heel, since Opal wears like iron, I'm not worried that it'll wear thorough before the rest of the sock. 

Random Picture...

This is a throw-back from way, way long ago when we had a gazebo-like bird feeder in the front flower bed. One year, a robin made her way into the thing, pushed the acrylic tube out of the way and decided that THIS was HOME. 

She had a major stink-eye going on, so we weren't bothering to dislodge her. We got some fascinating pictures, and Hubby was able to photograph the babies as they hatched. 

Unfortunately, our usually quiet neighborhood went through a spate of idiot vandals coming around cracking people's car rear-view mirrors and lawn ornaments, and some creep took a ball bat to our feeder. It was pretty devastating. Not because it was hand-made or anything...just for the violation of someone coming into our yard to destroy something. We never replaced it. 

The vandals stole the robin's house. 






Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Nothing to Read & Latkes...

...believe it or not, those two things are related, somehow. 

I'm facing a tragedy of monumental proportions. 

I have nothing to read. 

For a bookworm, my friends, this is the stuff of nightmares. 

I'm not interested in picking up my usually beloved Faulkner Reader. No mysteries on my bookshelves are calling to me. I can't find the bag of books that I purchased about 6 months ago...but I know it's somewhere. And nothing in my Kindle is tempting me. 

I can't sleep if I can't read. I'm hoping to figure out something. STAT...

Knitting...

Plugging away on the shawl. Nothing to report, other than my Rembrandt Yarns order came in. And it was wrong. Arrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhh! 

I ordered a sock weight yarn and they shipped worsted weight. So, larger yarn, no socks...because there's roughly 216 yards in that worsted skein, and you need 400-ish for socks. 

See the photo? The top package is a sock blank, called "Mental Health Day," and it's a one-of-a-kind hand-dyed blank. So when you knit with this, you basically unravel it and knit up your socks. It looks like it'll be a "fraternal" pair - whereby the pattern won't be exact on each sock, but it'll still be a pair of matching socks. It's a unique colorway, and I figured it was worth a shot. 

And you can see the yarn below...that's the Precious Metals colorway, which I'd been eyeballing for about 3 months now. And it's heavy. I mean, if I had another hank, I'd make a stunning worsted-weight shawl out of it. Or a pair of worsted weight socks - which I've done before and they're incredibly comfy. 

But I haven't got another hank. I did email Sandy, the owner of the company. As you may recall, this company was introduced to me by one of my students, who gave me a hank of Sandy's sock yarn. I fell in love. It's a company in Indiana. It's a woman-owned business. Love to support these kinds of places - and I would recommend it to you, as well, so check out her stuff. 

Whole 30...

So I bet you're dying to know the latkes story, aren't you? Well, it's this way. I'm on day 3 of my Whole30 and I've been experiencing the usual "withdrawal" symptoms. I'm tired, I have kind of a "low-grade" headache, and I have to do a little better with proportions of protein/fat in this meal planning because I was ready to chew on my mouse at work!

A person brought in home-made chocolate chip scones. They smelled lovely, and I didn't turn a hair. It was ok. I was feeling fairly virtuous. 

Well... Then, my desk-mate picks up latkes from the Polish deli down the way. Oy. I had a really hard time concentrating on my lunch of chicken, salad, and berries. 

I guess maybe my "virtuous" feeling came back to kick me in the shins. I got over it, but I'm telling you, I can still smell the latkes. (For those who don't know, latkes are potato pancakes, and the deli makes theirs with spring onions and dill.......yes, I'm drooling.)

Due to a rather unfortunate lack of planning on my part, I'm a little short on supplies for the next few days, so I suspect I'll be doing a Meijer run at lunch tomorrow. I should probably put a cooler in my truck. Despite it being nearly the second week of April, we look to have snow flurries tomorrow. 

Tonight, I made a frittata for the next several days' worth of breakfasts, since that can be eaten warm or at room temp. It worries me that I usually eat in the car. I have to do something about being able to eat breakfast - or at least the main part of it - either at home at the table or at the office if I come in earlier than I usually do. Which I don't want to do, frankly. 

The frittata is mostly veggies: cherry tomatoes, shredded zucchini, garlic, spring onions, mushrooms. Eggs, seasonings, and some leftover ham, which may or may not be "totally" compliant, and yes, it probably means I'm not being strict enough, but it's done and I have to live with myself. 

Definitely a grocery run tomorrow... at least for the veggies. Not sure how I can keep anything frozen or any kind of meat product in the car for the afternoon, even if it is going to be cold. Cold-ish. 

Spring???

This is what I came out to this morning. Snow on my car. Granted, we're not New York, and we haven't got it that bad. But...

It's April 4, and there's snow today. And will be snow tomorrow. And likely through the rest of the week. 

Don't get me wrong. As you can see from this hurried photo, the sunrise was spectacular. 

But if "spring is in the air," then Mother Nature is having a melt-down of epic proportions. The robins on my deck were looking at the snow as if to say, "Hang on a minute..." and the daffodils are trying to "take back" their first blooms. 

My mother, sister and I are going to the theatre (with lunch) for Mom's Christmas gift - on Saturday. Hopefully, it won't be horrible - the last time we went, it was pouring rain. Maybe that's a sign that we need to do something different...


Random Picture...

This is on the desk at work. I'm diffusing Sacred Mountain, which is a lovely combo of "conifers" (spruce and cedar, mainly) and Ylang Ylang, a floral. 

I try to do a different oil each week, and everyone seems to enjoy it. We've had some definite favorites and one or two "Let's not diffuse that here" scents. 

I have to pay attention to allergies and stuff like that, but for the most part, people are interested in the fact that these Young Living Essential Oils are all natural, and we're not putting those plug-able things around the office or using sprays. 

Everyone was asking us where "spring" was...we figure it's in a different time zone!

I guess I'll go grab my short story anthology and see if I can read myself to sleep. Tomorrow is another day!


Sunday, April 01, 2018

Life Changes - Spring Cleaning...

So tomorrow, I start the Whole30 "re-set" program. As I get older, I find that my body reacts differently to foods I used to eat or I'm used to eating. I find that my skin even reacts to things - and I'm far from a teenager! 

I talked to my brother about this, and he had done the Whole30 just so he could avoid cholesterol meds. He found out what worked for him, in the bargain he lost about 25 lbs., and he looks great. He has great-looking skin, his eyes are bright, and he doesn't look as tired as he used to. 

I'm hoping for a "bright-eyed" look and improving my skin - seems I'm prone to psoriasis (who knew??) and stress/tired/nutrition all play into that. 

I have a confession to make... I'm a horrible addict and my addiction of choice is sugar. Not even chocolate, though I love it. I like honey in my tea. I like brownies. I like ice cream. I like candy. And I really have a hard time stopping. I mean, truly: it's difficult for me, once I use sweetener, to stop eating sweets. 

So I'm hoping that the Whole30 will help me find better alternatives. I'm not jazzed about not eating beans for a month; I eat a lot of beans. And cheese is going to be another item I'm not keen on having to pass by. 

But it's a month. I can drink my tea "naked" and I can deal with anything for a month. The recipes look do-able, even with the fact that Hubby isn't doing this with me. I just have to think about a breakfast that's easy to deal with that's "carry-along." I get up at "dawn o'clock" as it is, and I'm not keen on eating first thing in the morning. Granted, in one positive aspect: I don't like the "continental" or sweets-based breakfasts. I'll eat a sweet roll occasionally - but not at 7 a.m.!

Today, I wrote out Monday's menu. Hubby did a quick store-run, because we had most of what I needed, but there were a few fresh things I required. In the meantime, I cooked up some clarified butter. You have the option to use clarified butter or ghee. I didn't have ghee, and it's pricey anyway. But I did have butter. LOTS of butter, actually, because we stocked up at Christmas. 

Incredibly easy: In a saucepan, cut up a pound of organic, unsalted butter. Set the heat to medium-ish and let it melt. 

Don't stir it. That's important!!

See that white foam at the top of the pan? It's the milk solids coming to the top. Let them happen, and then skim off with a spoon. 

While the butter is melting, grab a 16-oz. canning jar and line the top with about 4 layers of cheesecloth. 

So, here - if you want to get to ghee, let the milk solids brown and sink to the bottom. Otherwise, strain it. 

*Helpful hint: If you're like me, put the butter into a measuring cup FIRST. That way, you can try to avoid spillage. Ask me how I figured that one out...

Drain the butter oil (which is what it is, now that the milk solids are mostly removed) into the jar. Plop the lid on and let it cool for about 15-20 minutes before you stick it in the fridge. 

It should keep for several weeks. 

You don't need to be on Whole30 to do this. Clarified butter is a great thing to use in your average, everyday cooking. 

See that bit of white at the bottom? It's the milk solids that managed to bypass the cheesecloth. 

And that's ok, because they're at the bottom. I'll be using the stuff on top. 

Eventually, I'll go ahead and get some ghee. Just not right now. One of my favorite things to do with either ghee or the clarified butter is to gently coat veggies with it - particularly green beans (not for a month...) or broccoli or Brussels sprouts. 

If you're eating bread (not for a month...), it's also good on toast. 

It makes an excellent base for sauteeing and frying (like eggs - which I will be eating this next month). 

So there you go. A short tutorial and a nice kitchen hack. 

I Survived Holy Week...

Yes. I did. I wasn't sure for a while there. Working for the church, you really do see the "less than church-like" behavior of some folks. 

I mean, we're all human. My quest during Lent was to be more patient. But it wasn't always easy and I failed a lot. 

Many of us unilaterally love our substitute vicar, and would adore it if she applied for the vacancy. Though that would mean we'd lose her for the duration of the search process, I believe she'd be a good fit for us. 

We took her to dinner a couple of times, and enjoyed getting to know her. 

One of the lovely harbingers at the church is that the daffodils along the south side of the hall started to bloom! Spring is really coming, in spite of what the weather-folk keep threatening us with!

Normally, we're quite active in church during Holy Week anyway. We sign at the services, and participate as much as we're able to. 

I haven't been to a "Holy Thursday" service (or Maundy Thursday as we call it) since I started teaching yoga. This year was the same thing. Our church has what they call an "Agape Meal" before the service. It's a community meal, simple in content, and usually there's about 20 people there. 

Good Friday is, of course, a solemn occasion, with very few songs. I love this shot from Good Friday. The shadows perfectly cast the other 2 crosses - representing the criminals who were also crucified alongside Jesus. 

In our church, we can lower this cross, by means of two hand-cranks. It's an art to lower it evenly. Hubby and I lowered it, and the vicar was "catcher." It's actually right above the altar, so you have to have a "catcher" to make sure it doesn't clunk down on the altar. Anyway, veneration of the cross is a big thing on Good Friday. Afterwards, we cranked it back up for Easter Vigil. 

Easter Vigil is my personal favorite. It's a great, song-filled extravaganza. First, though, we have nine (yes, 9) readings, telling the story from the Creation to the crucifixion. We had to scrape together volunteers to read, but it is what it is. 

I think my favorite part, aside from the lighting of the fire (who knew priests were secret pyromaniacs??) is the Exultet - which is the chant I do. It's in a darkened church, everyone holding candles. We've just come in from lighting the fire, lighting the enormous Paschal candle, and each of us lighting our small candles from that one, larger flame. 

Then, in that darkened church, the first few lines of the chant, "Rejoice you heavenly hosts and choirs of angels..." -- which it being Lent, we haven't done a lot of. The "rejoicing" I mean. 

We finished the week with Easter Sunday service, and our small choir did a fantastic job with the song, "Hallelujah" -- yes, THAT one. Leonard Cohen wrote an iconic melody and not only did he write a number of "versions" of the lyrics, but many others did. We plucked the Easter verses and did them with our director, who's an absolute marvel on the piano. 

My voice is shot for a week or so. I'd love to take a week off. That isn't happening...

Sacred Mountain...

This is what I've been diffusing the past several days. Not only is it a nice-smelling corollary to Easter, it's just a wonderfully calming scent. The scent of Ylang Ylang blended with the "conifers" (like spruce and cedar) really provide a marvelous sense of grounding and a great feeling of being outdoors. 

I set up my Desert Mist diffuser, and it's been going all day. It's a neat diffuser that, on low speed, runs for about 10 hours. I have it on the "light changing" setting, so it cycles through 8 different colors. 

I may diffuse this in the office this week - I'm trying out different oils each week, attempting to have an "oil of the week" so that folks find out the depth and breadth of the product line. 

This may well be a favorite in the office. We shall see. If you're interested in learning more about these lovely oils, leave me a message in the comments. I'd love to help you enhance your own wellness and also detox your home - help you use products that don't contain all those harmful chemicals!

The Perfect Day...

So yeah, it's been crazy-busy. I had a brilliant day where, while it wasn't a WHOLE day, it was a half day. And I'll take it. 

Hubby did something for me that I didn't expect. He got us a subscription to "BritBox" - the streaming service developed by the BBC and ITV. I'm such a fan of British TV - the mysteries in particular. 

I spent a half day watching Dr. Who - the original Dr. Who. Yes, it's cheesy and it's got some crazy "special effects." But it's classic Dr. Who and I enjoyed my day! 

I've spent some time with Miss Marple, with Brother Cadfael, and with Inspector Barnaby in Midsomer... It's just a wonderful treat for me. 

Knitting...

So, finally... Knitting happened! While waiting for Easter Vigil and Good Friday services, I was able to get a few more points on the Close to You Shawl. And I enjoyed some chocolate. With my BritBox. 

I got all my hand-knit socks washed this weekend and I've been plugging away on this shawl today. 

What with all the singing, I've actually deliberately tried to not talk. The standing joke in my family is that everyone enjoys Easter Sunday because I'm so vocally frazzled that I'm normally quite silent, as much as I can be. 

Hubby refers to it as "the most peaceful day of the year." I'm not sure if he's totally kidding.

Anyway, even if he is -- all of us need a rest day, right? 

This shawl is now buzzing along nicely, and I'm liking it more and more. I'm anxious to see how it all blocks out. I still hope the recipient likes it. 

Let's put it this way -- I'll be more than horribly disappointed if the recipient doesn't like it or appreciate it. 

I think as knitters, we always take that risk. We invest ourselves in the project, doing something with our hands and hearts, and we hope that the individual who receives our work appreciates it. They don't have to fall all over and put on a big show. But I'd like to see the item in use. I'd like a heart-felt sense that the person understands the time and effort that went into this. 

So just because I'm saying that the shawl is zipping along, it's the whole package: I took time to decide which pattern, I looked a while for the yarn, and I'm spending time on the knitting of it. 

That's why I hope that the person who receives this appreciates it. 

Random Picture...

After Hubby brought back the groceries, I discovered these gems. He said he got them on special, and I'm really tickled! 

I love berries, and I'm very happy they're in the Whole30 plan. 

And now, Jesus Christ Superstar is live, in concert, on the television, with John Legend as Jesus and Alice Cooper as Herod. 

You'll excuse me if I run off and get this published. 

Happy Easter!