*****

Merikay and her son, Gil, at Death Valley National Park 2017

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Water Week

Not much to say ... the work on the house goes on.  No deadline, no completion date in mind.


I shipped a polar bear to Italy last week, and am working on a tiger for a gal in Tennessee. Things have been quite slow this spring, and I'm glad to see some business.


Although I declared I was going to relax the diet guide lines a bit, I find that eating "healthy" has become preferable.  


I have never taken to the practice of drinking a lot of water.  I know some people can't live without their water bottles, but except when I'm hiking I just don't think of it.  This week I decided to do the "extra eight glasses of water a day" routine.  I figured I could do it for just one week.


To me eight glasses of water equals eight trips to the potty!  So I try to drink them at home, by 2:00 PM so I won't be up extra times in the night.


With all that liquid sloshing around inside, I have no desire for any snacks, no matter how healthy they are, and also eat less for dinner.


Result:  I've lost THREE pounds.  I'm now only 19 pounds overweight.  


I guess I'll continue drinking more water when I plan on staying at home all day.


Hope you all have a great week.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pizza On The Grill

Knowing I had some pizza sauce and a couple of turkey Italian sausages in the freezer, I decided to try making a pizza on the grill.  I decided to use the big Weber gas grill on the deck rather than the Q up at the Alfa, but I'm sure what I learned will transfer easily.


I made the whole wheat dough in the bread machine in the morning.  I always like to put a pizza dough in the refrigerator to proof for several hours.  It seems to make it roll out better.


While the grill was heating up, I diced up  and pre-cooked the onion, sausage, and eggplant. I didn't have any mushrooms on hand and used peeled Japanese eggplant instead.  First time for everything.  They were good! I also diced some red bell pepper, but didn't pre-cook it.


I love the way this whole wheat dough rolls!  It was not hard to get a nice thin crust.  I finished the roll out on a piece of parchment paper rather than corn meal on the pick because I thought it might be easier to handle putting it on the grill. It was.

We preheated the grill on High-High-High, and then turned it down to Med-Med-Med, and put the crust on right away.  It was a good thing I was standing by to watch it.  I expected it to take 5 minutes, but after only 2 I smelled burning dough. 


 I opened the grill and the dough had grown big bubble on the up side and was starting to burn underneath. I quickly removed it with the pick. 


In the picture the bubble side is down.  I flattened them, turned the crust over and put the sauce and toppings on. 


Craig turned the grill down to Medium - Off - Medium, while I went up to "dress" the pizza.


With a lower temperature I was able to heat the toppings without over-doing the second side of the crust. Yes friends, you do see a bit of cheese.  This was a more traditional style pizza and I used a small amount of grated parmesan.  A few months ago I would have topped it with at least 12 ounces of mozzarella as well!


Craig said it was a little harder to cut than a white flour pizza.


This is a healthier pizza.  Whole wheat crust, less cheese.  But it was tasty and satisfied my pizza craving.


The wine glass is Craig's,  my drink is the Pellegrino in the back.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Getting up after Midnight tonight

We are setting the alarm for about 3:00 AM tonight.  


Why?


So we can go out and watch for meteors.


Tonight is the peak of the Lyrid Meteor Showers.  It should be a good night to view them because there is only a little new moon, no cloud cover, and fairly warm temperatures.


We don't have the best sky view, since we are surrounded by trees, but it is OK, and we should see a few. Craig says they should come from straight above, so the view may not be as blocked.  




I hope it will be as good as 1982 when there were up to 100 per hour.  But that was exceptional.  The article said to expect 15 to 20 meteors per hour in an average year.


So if you are still parked out in the desert somewhere, or at an RV park with a good sky.  Look up between midnight and five AM.


I will be making some wishes!



Friday, April 20, 2012

First Summer dinner on the deck

Last week we were sitting in front of a cosy fireplace every evening, reading and relaxing. The weather has been quite chilly and we have had a lot of rain in April.


But in the last few days it really warmed up, and Craig blew away the winters debris off the deck,  cleaned up the patio set, got out the cushions, and we had our first dinner on the deck.  It is such a beautiful place.  The trees are all bright green, or in the case of the maples a rich burgundy red.


Because I had cats in the past, I have never been in the habit of putting out bird feeders, so most of our bird entertainment is of the audio variety.  They sure were singing and chirping away!


Then to round out our "in the park at home" we decided to sleep up in the Alfa.  It's warm enough no heat will be needed.  I do enjoy waking up there.  We don't pull down the blinds like we would at an RV park, so when my eyes open the view is of the forest all around.


Good night all.  We are on our way to bed.







Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We Went Hiking Today

Although we decided to cancel the  RV trip we were planning on taking this week, we still decided to get out of the house and explore a near by state park.  We have lived here for 26 years and have gone to very few local places.


Castle Rock State Park is located about fifteen miles from here, and includes one of the higher ridges of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  


If you were of a mind to do so, you could hike down 32 miles of trail from the park all the way to the ocean. 


We were not that ambitious, and chose a 7 mile loop, that was listed as having a 1000 foot altitude change, and classified as challenging: not for beginners.  


It was  much easier than our Pinnacles Hikes! Most of it was through beautiful oak forest.  At this time of the year the moss on the rocks is intensely green! Most of the trail was either hard up or steep down.  This was one of the flatter places.


Not far into our hike we came to a waterfall with an overlook.  Below us there was a rock climbing instructor working with a ten year old boy.  This view is almost straight down.



Some of the trail was quite rough. We had to  climb over rocks and boulders. 

There were a few places where we had to guess where the trail was, but after a short distance it would be clear again.






Part of our hike was along the top of the ridge and we were able to see the clouds over the ocean in the distance.



The pictures we took didn't show the vastness of the forest we could see.


It was a beautiful day.  The sky was clear and the temperature was just right.  




Some portions of the trail were enhanced with steps and/or cable railings.  Everywhere I looked there was something very special.  


As usual we took a lot of pictures, and it has been very hard to pick just a few to give you a feel for this wonderful place. The Santa Cruz Mountains!


Like most parks, this one had a special feature.  An interesting kind of limestone rock formation.  The largest of these is Castle Rock, with numerous lacy holes and small caves.


Here I am,  at almost at the end of our hike.  Still smiling.  Legs were very tired, and I wouldn't have wanted to go much farther, but I will have good memories of this spring afternoon in the park!


How lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.  This is why I wanted to lose some weight!  Now I can hike in parks, be they national, state, or county! Be they in far off states, or in our own back yard.  


Have boots, will hike!



Note: I haven't gotten  trekking poles yet.  I'm using a ski pole for this hike.   I wanted to try it so I could get an idea of what I want in trekking poles.  One? Two?





Monday, April 16, 2012

And they tasted like ...

I like to try new things, and recently Pursuit of Idle Pleasures blog posted about trying Roasted Kale Chips.  


Give it to Craig,  He'll try anything!


The recipe, which is posted below, calls for red kale, but the Safeway only had green kale on Sunday evening, so that is what we used.


Before Baking
The recipe calls for a whole bunch of kale, but I started with three leaves,  just enough to fill one pan, and used a spray olive oil that I had on hand.  She mentioned wanting to try garlic powder instead of cayenne pepper, so that is what I tried.


After Baking
I think I used a bit too much garlic salt.  


They were, well, interesting.  Light, and as I said a bit over salted, but interesting.


What can I say?  
They tasted like Kale and Garlic Salt.  


I think they would be a fun thing to present at a pot-luck, but they won't take the place of potato chips in my heart.  Of course I don't eat potato chips anymore!


It has now been several hours since I tasted them, and my mouth still "tastes" like kale. It's not a bad taste ....


The recipe:



Kale Chips
She wrote: "These are unbelievably tasty - quite a surprise!
"
Yields: 6 Servings

Ingredients
1 large bunch of leafy red kale 

1 tablespoon Olive oil 

sprinkle sea salt

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne
Instructions
Preheat oven to 375. Wash and completely dry kale.
Pull the woody stems from the leaves and break up into bite-sized pieces into a bowl.
Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle some fine sea salt and the cayenne.
Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment, just one layer.
Bake at 375 for about 8 minutes. Take them out when they’re nice and crunchy and slide easily from the cookie sheet. 
She wrote: "I tried one batch with 1/4 tsp of chinese five spice, it was good, but we both preferred the cayenne. Try with garlic powder next time."

Maybe garlic powder would have been better than Garlic Salt.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Half Way

In January, according to the age and height weight charts, I was 44 pounds overweight. Thats well into the "obese" category!


  Losing 44 pounds seemed an impossible goal, so I just tried to improve my eating habits and hoped the weight would melt away. 


 It has! 


I've  lost
 22 pounds.


Half way there.  


 The first ten pounds just disappeared at the rate of three or four pounds a week.  


The next ten were harder, but I did manage to lose about two pounds a week.  


But it has taken three weeks to drop the last two pounds!


I think my body is telling me it is time to relax a bit and just maintain my current weight.  I have read that if you lose weight to fast your  metabolism resets to prevent starvation.


 For the next few weeks, the only thing that I will change are my expectations.  


  I intend to continue to count and log my calories and fiber grams. I will continue to try to stay around 1500 calories a day and aim for as much fiber as I can.  I will also still continue to exercise every day. I've been on the treadmill every morning. It feels good  and gets me going.  Now that it has stopped raining, I might get out for some real walks.


Of course, if I lose a few more pounds, I won't be unhappy!  But if I don't I won't beat myself up about it and get depressed.


 I miss a few things. Including wine, potatoes, cheddar cheese, hamburgers, and ice cream. On the other hand, the smell of fast food is almost noxious. 


I have discovered so many new recipes. Food that is not soaked in grease or butter, great vegetarian entrees, and new grains like bulgar. Love that tabouli.


 I have also started to think of the "meat" portion of a meal as small and secondary, instead of begin "what's for dinner." Often no meat is included in my meal plans, and that has become OK. 


 Fortunately, I do not need to go out and buy new clothes. Most of my wardrobe has always been stretchy, and still fits just fine. Actually my clothes are fitting the way they should fit,  instead of being to tight! 


 I know I am still "overweight" by 22 pounds, but if I don't lose another ounce in the near future it will be OK.  I have three weeks until I get new blood work.  I wonder what my blood sugar will look like.  I know I eat more fruit than might be recommended. We shall see.

 Healthy eating is the goal.  It is not second nature yet, but hopefully it will be someday!


I feel very lucky to have a healthy body.  I know I should cherish each day and make the most of my time.  I don't always do that.  But I've been trying.















Friday, April 13, 2012

Trader Joe's Does it Again!

Anyone who has read my blog knows I'm a big Trader Joe's fan. If we ever do get to go on the road, our Alfa will be well stocked with Joe's goodies, and we are very encouraged to see new locations around the country being added.


I particularly like their vacuum packed  items, both frozen and refrigerated because they can be kept for future meals.  Although I have given up all wine, their Charles Shaw $2.00 wines were a good buy.


The other day as we were checking out at our local Trader Joe's I spotted a display of FIBERFUL fruit bars.  In the mood for a little snack I read the label and immediately bought a couple.


 I thought "If these things tasted at all good they were a real find!"  And they did, just a little something to counter that urge to get a candy bar or if at home reach for the cookies.


FIBERFUL bars are a 7 oz. fruit "leather" made with unsweetened dried fruit, psyllium, flax seed and inulin.  Having never heard of inulin before I Googled it.  It seems there are pluses and minuses to it, and absolute food purists may say no.  Best to read about it yourself.


But for me, they are a find.  60 calories, 14 g carbs, 6 g fiber, tasty, and only $.59 each.


On the RV front.  We have decided to cancelled our trip next week because of some unexpected material costs on the home improvement projects.  Skipping the trip was my idea.  The weather is "iffy" next week anyway. 


On the subject of a towed:  I think we are just going to get new tires for the Prius.  Craig is too busy to think about car shopping right now, and he was encouraged by the fact that Annie said she heard Prius batteries rarely need replacement.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Craig said something very encouraging today ...

While I am not expecting the work on the house to get done any time soon so we can get it on the market, we are planning a few trips. 


Now that the taxes are done and paid, we are planning on going to the Sierra foothills, aka the Gold Country for a few days next week.  I am not a fan of hot weather, and I think it will be far more pleasant to hike and visit the Columbia Historic Park now rather than in summer when it will be crowded with families.


We also have plans for a three or four week trip at the end of June, thru mid-July to Northern California and Oregon.


For both trips I had planned on driving the Prius while Craig drove the Alfa.  We had talked about using a dolly for the Prius, but have decided against that for a lot of reasons.  


Today, as Craig made his list of errands he needed to do, I suggested he stop and buy new front tires for the Prius.  They are getting very worn, and although we will probably be OK next week, I think it would be best to get them before we go in June.


His response was "Or maybe we should just trade it in on something that can be towed." 


 There are a lot of good reasons to do that now instead of waiting until later.  


The Prius is a 2007, which makes the batteries five years old and possibly heading for full replacement.  It is also due for the 80K mile service, which can be very pricey.  As it is now, it looks and runs fine, and if RVing weren't in our life, we would probably just keep it and put money into it rather than trade it in.  


I know I'd love to have a towed.  It's the next logical step, but I always thought that if we weren't on the verge of getting out of here, we wouldn't get one unless my van died.  But we need the  van for trips to the lumber yard, Goodwill, the dump, and probably a storage place!


It's up to Craig to make this decision.  He has always been the car buyer.  (I did buy the little red MG Midget because it was cute, and a few $200 junkers for grocery runs in the 70's, but never a serious car.)


We shall see. 


 Craig said he would do some research on towables.  He also has to be able to drive it daily for the next year or so until the house is on the market.  He goes to town for one reason or another almost every day, and the Prius gets very good mileage!


I find this a very exciting step!


Do you tow?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Followers found ...

From Craig:


OK, it was my fault that Merikay couldn't see her followers' thumbnail images on her blog any more.  I downloaded a browser extension called "Do Not Track Plus" into our various browsers in the last day or two, and it interacts with Google's JavaScript code for displaying followers, so that their thumbnails disappear.  Turns out that it's easy to disable DNTP for particular sites, and I've done so for her blog under Safari, Firefox, and Chrome, so she can see her followers' thumbnails again.


Today we decided to drive up to our foodie heaven, Berkeley Bowl.  As an example of the wonderful things we found, they had a 2 pound tray of French green beans from Guatemala for about $3.40, which for non-math readers is $1.70 per pound.  French green beans are often offered up to $6 per pound in supermarkets in Central California.  We don't buy them at such prices, but obviously some folks do.


The best part was when Merikay stepped up to their deli case and bought two slices of their house meatloaf.  Sensible people don't get excited about things like this, but for dinner tonight it was the best meatloaf I've ever had!


These are good examples of why we like to go to Berkeley Bowl.  For about $140, we got more than a week's worth of wonderful vegetables, some decent meat[!], and a 1.5L bottle of white wine for old backsliding me.  How can we go gallivanting across the country and get thousands of miles from Berkeley Bowl?


From Merikay:
A slow cooker ratatouille, spring vegetable soup, tabouli, and several giant salads are all on the menu this week!  Meat?  Just a little chicken, some ground turkey for lettuce wraps, and a couple of smoked pork chops.  Aside from the meatloaf Craig mentioned for dinner tonight. (Only one slice each, with healthy sides!)

For the Good Luck Ducks, I found the boxed tofu.  I don't have my register slip but I think it was about $1.15 for a 12 oz. box. " Use by" date is July 2012, so it doesn't keep forever. It says "Airtight package requires no refrigeration until opened.  No Preseratives. No Irradiation." I bought a couple of boxes and will try them in the coming days.  It seems like a very convent product.  They also had "firm."

Speaking of tofu, it has a very interesting history.  Before WWII each village in Japan would make tofu as a community.  The duties rotating between families and the product shared.  After the war it was given over to the war widows as a way they could make a living.  I had a book about it years ago and remember this little factoid..

Happy Easter everyone, or happy whatever your Spring celebration may be in honor of.

May we all have a New Beginning in the sun.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Followers?

All of my followers have just disappeared.  I assume this is a temporary glitch.

Are you still out there?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It Looks Like Spring

But it's still pretty cold outside up here in the Mountains!  We are still enjoying evening fires and Craig says it has to get warmer before he is ready to start the "outside" work!


On the "inside" work, he has completed work on one of three bathrooms.  The other two will come after a long summer of outside jobs.  


Not much happening with the RV.  I did firm up our plans for the Crater lake trip, and made reservations at the Shingletown KOA for the week we will be down near Lassen National Park. 


 I first made a mistake in booking a one night stop over at the Burney Falls State park. I had looked at the reservation sight several times and was under the impression there were no sites big enough for the Alfa, but then I found one. Unfortunately it was a handicap site and I didn't notice that until after I had confirmed the reservation.  OOPS, I called right away, but still got stuck with a cancellation fee.  Lesson learned.  Look at everything twice when you find something to good to be true! 


 I guess we will just be driving up to Burney Falls one of the days we are at Shingletown.  We will have the Prius with us.


On the food front, I've slipped a couple of times.  I remind myself no one is perfect and building new habits that will be good for me for the rest of my life.
I just get so bummed when I hit a plateau like I have for the last week or so.


I am excited about a new dressing/dip recipe that I have been making.  I'm sure all my Vegan  friends know all about silken tofu, but it was new to me.  Silken tofu is sold in water packages next to the firm tofu in the cold case of the grocery stores. I see that it is also sold in "shelf stable" boxes which would be great to have along in the RV when you can't get to a grocery!


The following is a recipe for a very basic salad dressing.  I made half at a time because I don't like to keep things mixed in the refrigerator for very long. It is a "basic" recipe and you could easily add more or other spices or even add tomato and relish for a Thousand Island style dressing.

Ingredients

  • Ingredients:
  • 6 ounces silken tofu (or soft tofu, drained) (comes in 
  • a box)

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley (I used dried)

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Instructions:
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender container. Blend until well mixed.



The first time I made it we tried it as a veggie dip.  I guess we were hungry, because between Craig and I we did in a whole small head of fresh cauliflower! At that time I thought the dressing was a bit thin and would have been better as a salad dressing than as a dipping dressing.  I did save the little that was left over and used it on a salad a few days later and it was still good.


I made a second batch with the remaining tofu a few days later.  This time I added a Tablespoon of Chia seeds and put it in the refrigerator over night. The dressing became a nice thick dip!




I had never heard of Chia Seeds before last week, except for when they are spread over a funny sculpture to grow a "Cha- Cha -Cha- Chia pet!  


They are very high in fiber, 5 grams per tablespoon, and can be added to things like breads or smoothies.  If you mix them into a liquid, and let them stand for awhile, they expand into a jelly like substance with  little seeds inside.  This is what thickened the dressing.


By the way, do not mix Chia seeds, almond milk and blueberries in a blender and pour it into little cups, expecting to get a  nice "Chia pudding."  The resulting concoction is not visually pleasing. The blueberries turn gray.  







Tuesday, April 3, 2012

RV Grill

If you have an RV, you have to have a grill, right?


One of the features of the Alfa is a propane connection on the side where you can hook up your gas grill.  Not having to cary a tank does save some room in the basement!


So our daughter and her husband bought us a Weber Q for Christmas.  But we didn't have the right kind of hose connection for it.  It has been a search to find the right one.  Neither Camping World nor Weber itself has a hose that would work with the Alfa.  We finally got one thru Alfateers, and as soon as it stopped raining we gave it a try.
Mostly vegetable kabobs
  I have told Craig that RV BBQing is man's work!   We shall see how long that lasts!  Actually I won't mind doing the cooking if he takes over cleaning and storing the grill!


The cook enjoys  a glass of wine while watching over the grill. 


My diet doesn't allow me to drink wine, but Craig still can.




Mostly 
veggie kabobs.


I used  3 ounces of shrimp for each of us.  Plus lots of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and fresh pineapple. 


 I used a Catalina dressing that I had on hand.  It's not a "low fat" dressing because you need a little oil for the grilling.  


Next time I might experiment with mixing up something myself.


To me grilling has almost always meant "meat."  Steaks, whole chicken, hamburgers.  But with our new outlook on food I'm going to have to explore a more vegetarian, or at least a non red meat approach.  


Our kabobs in the past were always about half lamb and half veggies.  These were so good we probably didn't even need the shrimp.  Craig said he really like the pineapple and so did I.


Later today we will have to clean the grill and stow it back in the Alfa.  That is one thing I'm a bit concerned about.  With our deck grill we just burn off the grates, and change the drip pan from time to time.  I don't want a greasy grill in the Alfa basement.  I think it would attract mice and rats.


How thoroughly do you clean your grill?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review of "The Blood Sugar Solution"

Because Laurie mentioned she was starting "The Blood Sugar Solution" program this week I decided to read the book. 
It is really quite popular, there are over 50 people on the library waiting list, so I bought it on the Kindle.


I guess I have always been a new diet book junkie.  I have probably read just about every one that has come out in the last 45 years!


I have come to the conclusion that I am hoping for a miracle diet that will help me lose lots of weight, overnight, without any sacrifices.


Well, I'm still looking!  "The Blood Sugar Solution" offers very little new information.  In fact many of   points Dr. Hyman makes have been around since the 80's.  


Please don't get me wrong.  I'm not disagreeing with the message of eat less and exercise more.  Most of his food recommendations are exactly what I have been eating for the last two months.  I am slowly losing weight and almost never hungry.


But I feel his regime would be very hard to follow, and very difficult to stick with for a lifetime, which is what I need to do. 



In the book he repeatedly recommends a variety of supplements, which of course he sells on his web site. 
(For example for a little over $100 you can get the basic starter kit of supplements for women.) 
He also has a 12 week on-line course he will sell you if you"are not getting the results you want" after reading the book and trying to follow the program on your own.  You can try it "free for 7 days" here(I wonder how much it costs?)


I also question  his advice to not use the microwave, not drink bottled water, keep the cell phone six to eight inches from your head, and avoid WiFi, waterbeds, computer screens, and clock radios.  


Aluminum foil hats anyone?


 The book does offer a few interesting recipes.   I may try a few. 


In conclusion, some good, but old, ideas, some wacky points of view, but not a miracle diet.