Sunday, July 29, 2012

All Hail the Birthday Queen!

I have a friend who used to wear a paper crown to work every year on her birthday, and place this framed Mary Engelbreit print on the counter.  She worked in an extremely busy medical office. She was probably my age at the time, 49, and I thought it was the funniest thing because NObody makes a big deal of their own birthday, and of course you never tell your age.  She told everyone.  I see no reason not to tell my age, because guess what?  Nobody cares!

So yesterday was my birthday, and I treated myself to a day off during which I did not much of anything. It was great.  Went to the Richmond Farmers' Market in the morning with Sparky and Pam, then we checked out the newly opened Bliss Coffeehouse here in town.  Very nice place, will definitely be back!  Later I watched some olympics, did some sewing, and had ice cream and cake with the family.  Plus there was the added benefit of it being Saturday, which means I got two days at home in a row which is awesome.
Couple of weeks ago I was at a yard sale and spotted this bag of odds and ends of cotton yarn left over from someone else's projects; the colors intrigued me, so I had to have them.  The more I looked at them, for some weird reason they reminded me of seashells on a beach; so I had to put them all together with something that resembled sand.  Went to Wal-Mart, where there were several sandy colors, but I just wasn't feelin' it.  So I ended up at Sweet Briar Studio here in town, and found exactly what I wanted. Not only is it sand-colored, but it has a little bit of a texture as well.  I found a granny square pattern that was a little different than the one I've been using, and off I went.  The squares are almost done tonight, and will soon make a groovy summer bag.  It may never remind anybody but me of seashells on a beach, but that's all good.  I had a vision.  It should be done in a few more days  and you can see what you think.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Airlines lost my Mother...

...But fortunately she found her way home in one piece!  Thank goodness my sister was there.  The trip out to California was relatively uneventful; the trip home, beginning with the hotel room in San Fran the night before the flight, was just one event after another.  They were supposed to fly to New Jersey, then to Warwick.  They ended up going to Houston, where they ended up having to spend the night, then to North Carolina, and THEN home, all the while dealing with obnoxious airline personnel.  They also managed to misplace my sister's luggage, but at least they found it and delivered it the next day so all is well.  Pam is here for two weeks, and hopefully when she goes home things will go smoothly.  Crossing fingers.

Sue and I finally did the Richmond Farmer's Market Artisan Day.  Couldn't get my act together last summer to do it, and was starting to wonder if this summer was going to happen either since I missed the June date. It was fun!  We always have a good time, we used to do shows all the time back in the 80s when craft shows were big.  I miss that.  We used to go in with the attitude that we were there for a good time, if we sold stuff it was a bonus.  And boy, did we sell stuff.  As opposed to almost all the other crafters, who put their stuff on the table and sat behind it, we used to set ours up so you had to walk IN (hey, you've got a 10-ft space, might as well use it!) and we never sat down.  Also, if the show was till 4, we stayed set up till 4, unlike the majority of people who would pack it in at 3:30 or even 3 if they weren't doing well.  I can't tell you how many times we sold lots of stuff in the last 10 minutes. Anyway, it was good to hang out with Sue again.   She sold a few things, I sold a few things...but really I accomplished what I wanted to do, which was pass out business cards and get the word out that my store is more than just an alteration shop.  Since I'm too cheap to advertise, this seemed a pretty effective way to get in touch with local people.  I don't think I'll do the August show, too hot, but September seems like a good idea.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Temporary Gym Rat

I survived the first day of the Anytime Fitness 21-day challenge! After my disappointing stint at Curves, I swore I'd never join a gym again.  First of all, I went faithfully, 3 times a week as recommended, for the first 3 months.  I was not expecting miracles, but after three months with NO results whatsoever, it became really easy to find reasons to not go.  I am not a person who enjoys exercise for the sake of exercise;  I like to DO stuff.  So if I'm not seeing results, I find it difficult to make myself show up to do something I'm not enjoying.  I'm a total hedonist; if it's not fun, I don't want to do it even if its supposed to be good for me.  No self-discipline at all.  And second of all, the reason I don't want to join a gym, is that I know me.  I won't go.  Once I'm committed to it, it's just one more chore I have to do.  See above.

But I got this card in the mail from Anytime Fitness, and last time I got one and thought I might join in, I was too late.  I guess there's only a certain number of slots available.  But I went for it this time, and showed up for my introduction on Saturday with a certain amount of skepticism.  After the Curves thing, that is.  Told my trainer right off the bat; I hate to exercise.  The only reason I signed up for this is because it's a limited-run engagement.  We'll see what happens.  After my first session yesterday, wherein I worked my upper body, I actually surprised myself.  For someone who doesn't "work out", I'm pretty strong.  Must be lifting all those amps and speakers.  Today I introduce my lower body muscles to actual movement.  I'm pretty sure that's not going to go as well, but then I thought that about the top half as well, so you never know.

So I was going to talk about meat today.  And about this dietary thing; I'm not posting all this stuff because I'm trying to become an expert.  What I'm hoping is that someone like me who gets lost in all the information you find on the internet in the pursuit of better health, will read what works for me and maybe it will help make a small difference for you too.  All we need is something to start with and we can figure out the rest as we go.

When Preston's cholesterol became a problem, and he needed to take meds for it, I of course wanted to do whatever I could to help, as I am the one who does the cooking. I compared the fat and cholesterol contents of turkey, chicken, ham, and beef (cause he won't eat fish), and at the time the differences did not seem to be that great.  But as I am realizing now, there's no big change to make, just a lot of little changes.  With him, the best thing I can do is switch to leaner beef.  I'm not going to force feed him stuff he doesn't want to eat.  MY palate is way more adaptable.  So I have all but eliminated red meat and pork from my diet, and I don't miss it.  I eat turkey burgers, and switch chicken for whatever other meat I am cooking for him.  I'm a little concerned about not getting enough iron, but I'm looking into other sources. When PJ was here he introduced me to Bison, which didn't taste a whole lot different from beef.  It has less fat than beef, and he informed me that the government regulations for bison are very strict, and they are not allowed to use growth hormones or other stuff that goes into beef cattle.  It's also close to $10 a pound.  So I won't be buying bison on a regular basis.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


 Does anybody know what this is?  I have two clumps of them in two different places in the garden.  They were volunteers, I didn't plant them.  When they first came up they looked kind of like squash- or cuke-type-things, see the rounded leaves on the bottom?  And they came up all in a clump, like maybe it was something from the compost.  Could be anything.  But now the leaves on top are all kind of pointed, and I'm at a loss as to what they might be.  I guess I'll find out when they bear...something. Alien pods, maybe.

Came home from work today to find this little goldfinch parked on the corner of Preston's shed roof (and I say "Preston's" shed because we do have his and hers.  Best birthday present I ever got!)  I don't know if he's a baby or not, I don't want to get too close and scare him, but he watched me looking at him and taking his picture and didn't seem inclined to move.

So yesterday I was droning on about nutrition. I think the key is,  baby steps.  One thing at a time.  I started looking at things like cooking methods.  I cook with canola oil, when I use oil at all.  Turns out, that's a pretty good choice.  Olive oil is better if you're putting it on salads or whatnot, but we don't do that and canola is actually better for cooking.  So that's good.  And I looked at the margarine I use, Land O Lakes buttery-taste spread.  Also a good choice as far as margarine goes.  No trans fats.  But I usually use stick margarine when cooking, because it's easy to measure.  NOT a good choice; I found out that all the stick margarine brands, at least all the ones my local store sells, contain trans fats.  So I won't be using that anymore. I don't know how soft margarine will work in baking, but I'll worry about that in the fall when the baking bug bites me as it always does.

I already stopped using salt when I cook, and as I said I don't miss it. Preston misses it, and still puts it on stuff.  But that's on him.  It was salt-free when I served it.

We bought a gas grill a couple weeks ago.  I figure if I can't get him to give up burgers, at least I can use the healthiest cooking method.  We used to have a grill, but it rusted out and we never bothered to get another one, easier to just cook on the stove top.  But I like having it, especially since we have a small house and it's summer, so the more heat-producing things I can move outside, the better.  It even has a side burner, which I thought was ridiculous since there's just the two of us to cook for, but I've used it twice already to cook corn on the cob.

Speaking of the gas grill, it's time to go fire it up.  Tomorrow I'll talk a little about meat and what I've learned in THAT department.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Health Food

Usually, I have oatmeal for breakfast.  But, since I have blackberries growing at one end of the garden and raspberries at the other, Cheerios seemed like a better blank canvas for that.  The blueberries are from the store, our blueberries over the years got smaller and smaller until they disappeared entirely.  Strange.  Anyway, I topped it off with almond milk;  finally got around to trying it, and it's pretty tasty.  I tried rice milk, I just couldn't do it.  Yuck.

So yeah, I'm trying to eat healthy.  I am NOT on a diet.  That sounds too restrictive, and besides people just seem so gleeful the first time you decide to cheat and have an ice cream cone;  "oh, is THAT on your diet?"  It's like everyone who's not on a diet is just waiting for you to fail.  Which of course you will.  But I had to do something, my cholesterol is higher than it should be and my blood pressure is borderline.  Time to fix it now, it's only going to get worse as I get older.  I cut WAY down on salt last year, all but eliminating it, and to tell you the truth I didn't miss it.  Honestly, I'm not a person who HAS to have this or can't live without that.  If it weren't for my husband, who doesn't like his diet messed with, I could go vegan tomorrow and never look back.  But I'm not going to cook two meals, it's just not going to happen.

The first thing I learned when I decided to eat healthy is, it's not possible.  Really. Get something that's low fat?  It's got more sugar.  Low carb?  Higher sodium.  What the hell!!!  The Boy, who is something of an expert in this stuff since that's his day job, agreed.  You have to pick what you want to be healthy about, he said.  So, this is going to be like work. Ok.

The first thing I'm doing is figuring out what things are an issue with my food.  Here's a list of possibilities;
  • Fat, carbs, sodium, sugar.  The big 4.
  • Hormones and god-knows-what in my meat.  Not to mention the horrors of the meat industry.  Watch "Food, Inc." on Netflix.
  • Pesticides.  Ick.
  • High fructose corn syrup.
  • Trans fats, whatever those are.  I just know they're bad.
  • The lining inside of cans, for heaven's sake.  Who knew? \
  • Gluten.  I don't think I have a problem with gluten, ate it all my life.  But I'm hearing that if you get OFF gluten, you start to realize all the problems you never knew you were having.  Maybe I don't need to deal with that just yet.
  • Processed flour and non-whole-grain products.
  • Lactose.  Again, never had a problem.  But I'm hearing that sooner or later everyone becomes lactose-intolerant, it's just a matter of time.  I don't know if that's true, Sparky is in her 80s and still drinks milk with no problem.  The Boy says that those of us who can drink milk are actually the anomalies; the lactose intolerant are the normal ones.

Fortunately for me, I've decided to improve my food intake at a time when fresh veggies are in season.  The first thing I did was add more fresh veggies to our diet.  We both like vegetables, so that was easy.  Plus the Richmond Farmer's Market is right down the road.

Tomorrow I'll tell you the small changes I've made so far; and surprisingly enough, they seem to be working; I've lost 8 pounds in the last month.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bugging Out

Something really tragic happened to the bottom half of this pic. I fail as a photographer.

 I've never seen a week go by so fast as when The Boy comes to visit.  Granted, we all don't DO much of anything when he's here, he spends a lot of time running around touching base with all the friends he never gets to see and then roosts here at night.  But that's ok, everybody wants a piece of him and we make him stay up late when he gets home so we get our piece too.  We didn't get to see The Wife either, she stays with her family and spends her time touching base with all HER friends.  Maybe next time.  Anyway, Boy and Wife are on their way back to California today.

Also bugging out to California today is Sparky.  As I type she and Auntie Pat are in Newark, awaiting their flight to meet my sister in San Fran, from there to proceed up to Redwood country to spend two carefree weeks on the mountain with the grandkids and the great-grandkids.  I'm so glad she got to go, and I'm glad Pat went with her.  Wish I was part of this mass migration to the west coast, but no.  Ah well.

Speaking of bugging out, I have been trying to find a non-toxic way to discourage these really pretty beetles from consuming my squash plants.  I don't want to use pesticide.  If I wanted poison in my food I would just buy it at Stop and Shop.  So I tried this recipe I found online using vegetable-based dish soap, garlic, and hot peppers.  It did not work at all, in fact I think the beetles were very happy I seasoned their greens for them.  I ended up picking the little bastards off one by one.  Boy, can they eat a lot.  AND they laid eggs on the undersides of the leaves, but those are gone now also.

So it's the 4th and since there's no plan for the day, I think I'll go on bug and weed patrol, then work on some projects that are half-completed.  One of my regular favorite customers showed up the other day with an armload of fabric for me and bribed me to make her some curtains in exchange.  So now I have some new fabric for inspiration.