Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Into April With A Healthy Diet

Tomorrow is the first day of our Spring Open House at work.  Classes, refreshments and special sales.
So many things going on and so much work to do.......and I have today off.  I don't know why.  And I have to just let it go.  I am becoming "redundant" one time by one item.

I purchased a "ham end" at the little grocery where my daughter works.  I am planning a nice pot of lentil soup. Usually, it's just vegetarian but this time it will have the ham bits in it.

I received a comment on the way I eat.  Thank you.  When I was on the 1200 calorie diet in 2007 (for the entire miserable year), I learned that I could eat more for less calories if I ate things with 5 or less ingredients.   I also learned to shop the "perimeter" of the grocery rather than the midsection where all the prepared foods are.  Read the labels of regular and low calorie times--side by side.

I made homemade soups and totaled all the ingredients (down to the tablespoon) and then divided it into servings of two cups. I didn't follow the rules of tiny portions, but usually those soups in 2 cup portions came in at around 200 calories.  Even at 300 it was a bargain.  In this way, I could eat almost anything I wanted. I weighed dry pasta on my scale and then cooked the 2 ounce portion which is a serving.  I weighed it every time--never guessed.  I weigh everything then and now to "know"  and "learn" what a serving actually is.  I even counted out a serving of potato chips and then decided a whole steamed potato was a better choice (smile).

Five ingredient yogurt is hard to find in the low calorie section.  So I purchased plain, usually full fat, and make my own fruit and yogurt with whatever is on sale.  Pineapple chunks with yogurt is great but segments of red grapefruit is out of this world good.  Raspberries are great but I like to combine them with peach slices (canned in juice or frozen).  I "sweeten" the yogurt with a Tablespoon of sugar free, calorie free liquid Splenda flavored with vanilla.

Salads are 4 to 8 cups of carrot, romaine, red cabbage shreds, arugula or wild greens.  When I was eating high protein/fat I added a cup of chicken with mayo or tuna with mayo.  The dressing is always EVOO with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  I like a super big salad.   Last night G had steak and I had baked potato plus sour cream and chives, big green salad and steamed green beans.  My total for the day with Bran flakes for breakfast, yogurt and grapefruit for lunch was under 1400.  This time around (I am smarter) I allow myself to fluctuate between 1200 and 1600.  Sometimes I eat less than 1200.

It's been 30 days and I have lost 9 pounds.  I have a long way to go, but I have been down this road before and I know that no "mistake" is bad enough to make me quit.  I do kick myself for having gotten to this place (again) but--well, I am only human and humans make mistakes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Blooming Spring

Thank you to all who wrote a comment on the last post.  Sigh.   I needed them.

G and I ventured out to Freeport yesterday in the rain.  I cleaned out a closet and had a few "never worn" Bean items to return and G had a very nice sweater that he loved wearing--unsew itself in the wash.  Bean takes it all back.  Unworn, unwanted and/or disappointing.  I think the return policy co-opts having controls on quality.  The quality has been diminished in recent years. As the prices have gone up.

A report on the milk jug germination project.  I have 70% of the jugs with tiny little baby seedlings growing.  I call that a success, as I didn't have to have pots on shelving, under lights etc all over the house.  The broccoli and Brussels sprouts are doing the best.  Onions and shallots look good as well.
things got a bit too wet in the recent daily rain, so I have been covering all the crates full of jugs with plastic and burlap on wet days and most nights.   Now I have to start my tomatoes and peppers.  In the house.  I'm going to try to get my Romanian and Sicilian seeds to germinate and the red pepper seeds I saved last summer from a very wonderful, thick walled pepper.  I have to dig around and find my pelleted carrot and beet seeds.  Time to think about planting seeds.

I walked (successfully) with my friend J yesterday.  No asthma effects and I didn't have to use the rescue inhaler.  I had my phone with me in case G needed to come get me in the car.  I walked for about 80 or 90 minutes and felt wonderful the entire time.  No heaviness in my chest and no struggling to take a breath.  My new treatment seems to be working.  I always had the strength to walk but not the oxygen.

The citrus plants on top of the cabinets are setting flowers so pretty soon the kitchen area will be perfumed with citrus blossoms.  My Amaryllis are in blossom.  Very tall and four flowers per stem.  Each has (or has had) two stems.  The Easter cactus isn't faring as well.  Only one bud is visible on the hot pink one.  None on the orange (my favorite).  And the white isn't doing much of anything.

I do have cut branches of forsythias blooming on the table and near the sink.  If I had children around I would have brought out my large collection of easter egg ornaments and decorated the branches as I did when living in Germany.  Holidays were much more festive there.  Simpler but more heartfelt. It seems like "too much trouble" to pull them out just for myself.  But perhaps I should make the effort as I do at Christmas, with the tree.

Time to shove off to work.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Dreaming Or Wondering Why

Most of what is going on in my mind--happens at night.  While I am asleep.  The past two nights I have dreamed of "packing things up and moving".  My dear but estranged friend K was in one of the dreams.  Not speaking to me.  But being packed up and moved out.  I felt sad the rest of the day.

We had very wet and then very cold weather last night.  The sidewalks, grass etc are all frozen and slippery.  I walked out to get the morning paper on the grass.  Didn't want to fall and freeze to death before G wakes up at 10 am.   I was up at 7.  I think I would be pretty cold if left on the driveway for 3 hours.  And I wasn't wearing a coat.

I purchased two items at TJ Maxx yesterday after getting my hair cut.  One item is poorly constructed and is going back.  The tucks in either side of the front portion are different lengths.  I didn't notice it but did when I tried it on last night.  Too bad.  It was made of "gauze" fabric and I had a gauze blouse years ago and it was always my favorite item to wear on very hot, humid days.  The other item is a black and gray printed knit.  Has those angled sides which cover the hips.  Has a button up top so you get two "looks" for one item.  Closed it looks dressy enough for a dinner date.  I NEVER wear printed clothing.  Only solid colors.  I am 60% sure I will return it today before work. It's probably too large for me.  I am trying not to stock my closet with "big" clothing.  Hoping I am not big for much longer.  Why am I never comfortable in my own body?  But it would be nice to be able to tie my shoes without difficulty.

I wonder why I prefer solid to print.

I wonder why there never seems to be enough time in a day when I am back at work and why there is way too much time in a day when I am not working.

I wonder if there is a way to repair Birkenstock clogs.  One of mine fell apart at work on Thursday. ( I waited on customers with one shoe on and one shoe off)  The shoe just broke apart into the different sections.  Shoe top, insert and bottom.  We tried the hot glue gun. No luck.  The boys at work suggested duct tape.  But we couldn't find it.  I went on line and found the same shoe (they never change) but the $140 price tag put me off.  I got the pair that broke in a resale shop for $8.  Never worn.  I have had them for a very long time.  G is going to try Gorilla Glue but they may just be too worn out to be saved.

I am also wondering who the 20 to 100 people are who read this blog each day.  They are all over the world map.  And all but 10 are unknown to me.  They never comment.  But then, on the blogs where people do comment--they say things like "that's so nice" and not much more.

I wonder what it would be like to send out 20 to 100 letters by mail and receive zero replies.  Would you continue to send the letters?  Would you continue to write just because hope springs eternal?  Or is the writing more for the writer than the reader?  I try to encourage myself and the reader.

I wonder what I should pack for lunch today.  Salad or yogurt and fruit.  A bowl of soup would be nice but I don't happen to have any ready made.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Snow Brings Flowers?

We got around 4 to 5 inches of wet sloppy snow yesterday.  The kind one has to shovel as the snow blower just isn't made for throwing wet heavy snow.  The streets and walks are dry and clear---the lawn and garden still white and COLD.

At work we are getting ready for next week's Open House.  The truck brings plants everyday. Pretty little pansies and violas.  Daffodils and tulips.  Crocuses.  Florist hydrangeas.  Mini rose bushes. And of course lots and lots of Easter Lilies. It's my job to see that it all gets watered.

I am cooking.  Made a huge panful of meatballs and baked them rather than frying.  Then they took a bath in marinara sauce for about an hour and then we ate about 25% of them.  The fridge containers of sauce and meatballs is like having "money in the bank". I have some very thin pork chops to cook tomorrow.  I usually like them breaded and fried with German potato salad.  We'll see.

I am reading.  Book number two in that mystery series finally arrived and the plot was not ruined by the details in book three.  So, now I am halfway into book three. Alls well.  Well, with the reading--not with the murder mysteries in the books.

I am dreaming.  The Dream Jobs keep right on occurring.  One night it was this job managing a huge abandoned Mall that served as housing for 20 somethings.  Most of these "jobs" I spend the night working, tend to seem to occur in the past.  Lately, they seem to be more futuristic.  The kids had no homes or families and were hard pressed to put a roof over their heads.  I might be listening to too much Bernie talk.  Anyway, they rented space in the Mall and were creating art etc.  It was very interesting.  The next night I was in the country, moving furniture out of a house.  I really wish I knew what my subconscious was trying to tell me.

I am shopping at Goodwill.  Today I purchased a very cool pair of summer garden pants.  Linen.  Hot pink. Baggy.  A used white bowl that is just like my favorite white bowls.  I now take my yogurt lunch to work in a white bowl instead of a plastic container.  I also eat my morning bran flakes out of the same white bowls.  Now I have four.  Which somehow makes me feel very good.  I also purchased a golden yellow linen shirt from Bean's.  I very carefully removed the stitched "darts" they insist in sewing into the back panel of the shirts.  I just wish I could make the sleeves longer.  Everything about the "new" linen blouses is cheap.  But for $2.50, I will cut and patch until the shirt is the way I want it.  Even adding more fabric to the sleeves.

I am also eating Dairy Queen ice cream.  Once a week.  The plain vanilla cone.  I wish they made a strawberry cone.  Sometimes, I have the swirled vanilla and chocolate cone.  Never just chocolate.
They opened on the exact day-365 days after I drove G home from the hospital last year and I stopped and bought him a butterfinger blizzard--small. He said nothing had ever tasted so good.  Being alive is pretty wonderful.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Making Terrariums

We will be making terrariums at work on Saturday.  It's a class customers can sign up for and pay $40 for the terrarium they make.  I'm not teaching.  I'll be doing repots and answering questions and running around all day.  Today, I think I actually never stopped walking for a 3 hour period of time.

In fact, it was after 2 pm before I wondered if it was time for lunch.  Since I go home at 3--well, I had lunch out on the back stoop with Riley (at home).  Yogurt with bran buds and red grapefruit segments.  G was out pruning.  Tomorrow he has a plumbing job at our daughter's house.

I like the terrarium up top--I like the air plant on the left and the lovely shell on the right.  In the back, the dark object looks like lava rock and then we have the artistic stick and moss ball.  Easy to care for--just take the air plant out for a quick dunk in the sink and then put it back.  I would imagine the finished terrarium up top at about $100.  Those glass balls are very expensive.  Empty. And an air plant that size is around $18 or more.

So, back at work.  Tired.  Very tired.  But happy to be back in the greenhouse with all that warmth and light.  Easy enough to fall asleep at night.  Breathing seems much better-- might not even need the inhaler.

I'm still wearing my big baggy corduroy pants to work--but with a belt to hold them up.  I just like wearing big baggy pants.  I will be sad when I have to stop wearing corduroy.

Tomorrow we will be having rain.  Like every other day.  But it's not cold.  And the broccoli seeds have started germinating.  About 6.  Which is 6 more than I have even gotten to germinate before. Nothing else is doing anything but I still check on all the jugs--just in case.  Ever the optimist? I think all gardeners are optimistic.  Have to be.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Opening The Windows Day (Springing Forward)

Here in Maine we (me) look forward to the first really nice day when we can turn off the furnace and open the windows.  Letting out all the stinky winter air.  I will have to re-start the furnace (sadly) because tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and cold.

I also used the time to wash and dry the garbage can in the kitchen, the compost bucket and the onion and potato bins.  Things happen in all those places that are smelly.

I also changed the dog bed covers and sprayed the beds with Febreze.   I usually do this while the dog is outside watching G work.

My daffodils are growing by the day--the crocuses are blooming.  The earth, here in Maine is still quite solid--a bit of thawing in the area of the leach field, but that's about all.  Still, we are about a month early and this has really been a VERY WARM winter.

I feel much better knowing we changed all the air inside the house:  from Winter air to Spring air.

Winter Jug Update:  A few tiny signs of germination in two of the 14 jugs.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Looking At The Stars With Riley

Is my favorite part of the day.  It happens when we decide to stop watching television.  I ask Riley if he wants to go see some stars and he jumps up and runs to the front door.  Any other time, he runs to the back door.  I have seen dippers and Orion.  I have seen Venus.  But I have never seen Vincent's Starry Sky.  But, I can hope that one night I will see something like it.

My Winter Furlough is coming to an end.  I go back to work on March 15th.

Yesterday and today, G and I have been mucking about in the muddy yard pruning shrubs.  I trimmed up two (seriously) overgrown weigelia, some roses and two spirea.  I removed the tags from the two new Beach Plums and the two Serviceberries.  They made it thru our "warm" winter.  Daffodils and hyacinth bulbs are poking their heads out.  One of the Lenten Rose plants is blooming.  Two of the three Witch Hazels have yellow flowers.  It must be Spring.

I have "re-found" an author.  I read the first book a while ago--well, it must be quite awhile since she has written three books now and that was the first.  Kristina Ohlsson.  I guess I am always looking in the "O" section???   Unwanted was first, then Silenced and now Disappeared.  Silenced is waiting at the library--where I was this morning--but the notification just came in at 4pm.  Too many things have already been told in book three (I have read 104 pages) that I don't think book two will hold many mysteries.  It is incredibly odd for an author to retell plot points from a previous book, but this author does.  Anyone reading this one first--would not be tempted to read the others.  Perhaps it should come with a warning on the cover?

We had lunch at Ruby Tuesday and I had the "Salad Bar" last week.  Today I purchase a small red cabbage and sliced it into slivers along with my carrot curls.  So very pretty.  I had a bottle of Ken's honey mustard salad dressing in the fridge which the Ruby Tuesday staff had told me was what they used.  I didn't believe them--but it is the very same.  Now I just have to figure out the croutons-- and never need to go to RT again! I had my VERY favorite salad at Applebee's this week--Oriental Chicken Salad.  It comes in at 1400 calories but I just can't figure out how.  But it was worth it.

I have been so very lucky at Goodwill.  Both times I have gone to the new, larger one in Town, they have been having a 50% off sale on Women's clothing.  I have gotten some lovely things--linen.  For just $2.50 each.  And I got a gallon sized Target storage jar for $3.  But today-- with the weather between Winter and Spring--I re-discovered that I do not have a suitable outdoor jacket or coat to wear---to say, the dentist appointment.  I have to start a list of things I REALLY need.

We'll be have a real New England Boiled dinner in the next few days.  Corned beef, red potatoes, carrots and cabbage.  I may even dig out my favorite recipe for Soda Bread.  I am always reminded of eating Irish Brown Bread and really wonderful Irish cheese when I visited our friends in Ireland. The closest I can come to that is the soda bread recipe and Kerrygold Cheddar.

Well, that's about all that is going on here.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

The Winter Jug Project-2016

This is what the jugs look like right now.  This is not my photo.  My jugs are in a packing crate from work and are out on the back stoop.  We (here in Maine) still have freezing nights with still cold but sunny days.  The bottles heat up during the day and freeze at night.  It's called "stratification" on seed packages.  Perennial seeds need a cold stratification to germinate.  I am trying to germinate a number of self seeding "tender" perennials in the jugs.  Lupine seeds would have been a good choice but I didn't have any.  Swamp milkweed is another good choice for the jugs. I also am trying to start onion and shallot seeds.  I may need to try those again later in the month of March.  It may have been too cold.  I have Blue Fescue ornamental grass in one jug.  We could have also germinated more of G's chestnut seeds this way.

This is what the jugs looked like whenever we have had snow.  It's okay if some of the snow or rain that falls goes into the open top of the jugs.  The jugs have drainage holes drilled into the bottoms.

The directions call for drilling the holes in the bottom of the jugs or two liter bottles (clear or translucent--not the ones you can't see through) and then cutting the jugs open from the side leaving the handle section attached to the bottoms.  I insert the point of the scissors--strong utility scissors-- just about where the handle exists and then straight around the equator of the jug to the opposite side of the handle.  So I have 4 to 5 inch of depth in the bottom section for the soil and seeds.

The fill with a seed starter mix of soil (moistened enough to resemble moist chocolate cake-usually best with lukewarm to hot water), plant your seeds, follow package directions for coverage of seeds (some like to stay on surface, some like a light dusting and others like a quarter inch or more over the top.   The add a label stick inside, close the top of the jug over the bottom section and tape shut with some duct tape.   I also followed directions and wrote the seed names on the front side top of the jugs with Sharpie and covered the writing with clear packing tape--so it won't fade.

The jug acts as a small scale greenhouse for the seedlings.  Providing protection, conservation of moisture and on sunny days in winter (it is still winter) considerable warmth. Also the light available outside is 10,000 times stronger than any light you could manufacture with grow lights going for 14 hours a day.

Set the jugs outside (no caps).  Check on them every so often to see if they need moisture--I use a spray bottle to add water inside the top opening.  I also spy into the opening to see if anything is happening.  Riley finds this mystifying.

The next round of jug planting will take place near the end of March.  For more tender seedlings and perhaps a second try at the onion seeds if the first has failed.  I will attempt to grow marigolds, zinnias and bachelor buttons in the jugs.  I have tons of flower seed packets from the end of season grab bag at work.  And I think annual flowers make a garden very jolly.

Once the seeds germinate and little green leaves appear (when one peeks into the spout) it's time to peel off the duct tape and open up the little greenhouses.  Just for the daytime.  Close them up again as the sun goes down.  One little piece of tape should hold the top half of the jug in place.

Later pictures from this website show all the jugs with their top half flipped open and the little seedlings flourishing.  By this time--the little plants can be transplanted to larger pots of go into the garden if the soil has thawed.   It certainly saves on cluttering up the house with grow lights etc.

I hope to have photos of my own robust production of seedlings by April.  We'll see.

In a note on the bottles.  G drinks quite a bit of orange juice and we already use the empty 89 ounce bottles to hold water to water plants on the front porch and in Winter in the upstairs winter plant storage area. So we have quite a few bottles on hand. I was going to try making the juice bottles into "greenhouses" but punching a starter hole for the scissors was too difficult (and a bit dangerous) and I wondered if the plastic of the bottles might be too brittle to cut successfully.  Some of you might have better luck.  Let me know if you find a way.

Friday, March 04, 2016


Whenever a plant of mine presents me with the "possibility" of a flower (bloom) I am instantly positive about the future.  New growth.  New opportunities.  Freshness.

After an abbreviated Winter (here in Maine), Spring seems to be pushing forward.   My amaryllis are also flowering (well, one of them is) and budded.  Time to sweep the floor, pound the winter dust out of the pillows, wash the slipcovers and move ahead. Could I possibly move from No.17 on my To Do List?  Started on January 1.  I anticipated reaching 50 before returning to work.  Oops.

I read a very good mystery--Helen Olson--"Hidden".  A woman who has "disappeared" for 15 years is suddenly found.  I think it may have ruined me for other books for awhile.  We watched "Becoming Jane" about the (supposed) life of Jane Austen before she wrote any books.  We also watched American Hustle (2013).  Next up is Silver Something Playbook.  More Bradley Cooper but I can't see why women think he's good looking?  More ferret or weasel. IMHO.

Today is the one year anniversary of G's heart attack--so we are going out for a late lunch.