Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Did you happen to catch the end of The Biggest Loser last night ? They had a man who lost over 400 lbs on his own at home, and he did it through diet and walking. I think he is my new hero- proof that you DO NOT have to join a gym, run, buy a lot of equipment or join exercise classes to get results. Simple walking will indeed get the job done. It did for me when I lost 110 pounds in the past , and it gives me renewed hope that it will work again ! Walking made up a lot of our day yesterday , and when not walking we would take out time to play Walk it Out for the Wii with the brilliant decision to place the nunchuck in our socks, sit in the chair and swing your feet to the beat instead of walking and potentially annoying the neighbors. Sort of an air walking fidget if you will that was a heck of a lot of fun.

These things helped me to discover one very important motivational saying that I have repeated to myself my entire life when faced with a challenge- it's easy to make lemonade out of lemons, but a sign of genius to turn them into gold. Anyone can do anything with the perfect environment and equipment , but many times in life the only thing you have is a desire and your wits. If you stop focusing on what you do not have and concentrating on what you have in hand, you can pretty much do anything. Where would we be without people like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell - both of whom are men who wanted to accomplish something important and according to the voices around them could not do it. They took what they had and what they knew , used it to the best advantage and created something that changed the world.I see that kind of thinking involved with both my weight loss journey and overall life dilemma. Instead of pondering all those things I cannot do and all the restrictions, the only thing I can do is use what I have in my hand and make every possible moment count. Perhaps if the economic climate continues and less and less two car/two income households begin who have less and less ability to take children to numerous activities and events, people like my son , who has lived it, will be needed to show people how exactly to make fun and memories without external things. Perhaps.

Eats of the day were some goodies !

Breakfast was apple raisin oats with pumpkin seeds. I grabbed a pack of salted ones by mistake at the store, so I am stuck with them till we use them up. The salty and sweet does make for a good combo tastewise though !

Lunch was a mug of the current batch of 15 bean soup with veggies and hummus. My son seems to inhale this, lentil and minestrone soup. It makes me giggle- before we started this journey he absolutely hated soup, or an foods that contained multiple tastes and textures.

15 bean soup

1 bag 15 bean soup mix
1 lb pork product ( ham, sausage, ham hock, ham bone- highly flavored chicken sausage works as well)
4 cups chicken stock
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 carrots, sliced
3 onions, chopped

Wash beans and soak overnight ( I put mine in my crockpot overnight covered with water on low)Drain the beans and place with all other ingredients in a crock pot , cook on high for 4 hours

Dinner was something that has become a new favorite- Creole chicken with spinach and rice. This time I made it with rainbow chard instead of spinach because it was so good looking in the market on Saturday and on sale . Chard and Spinach are interchangeable in recipes, but because chard has a lower oxalate acid count, it has a slightly more mild taste. I used chard also because i had a craving for a spinach strawberry salad, which came along for the ride. So many greens....
Creole Chicken with Spinach and Rice

1 cup brown rice -- uncooked
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
olive oil (small amount)
3 chicken legs and thighs
1 1/2 cups chopped organic celery
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes -- (no salt)
10 ounces spinach or chard
1 cup chili sauce (low salt) or salsa
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 large green pepper -- chopped
2 cloves garlic -- minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Cook brown rice according to package directions, adding chili powder to cooking water.
Using a paper towelmoistened with olive oil, lightly coat a deep nonstick skillet and heat. Cook thin strips of chicken on medium high, turning occasionally, for 3-5 minutes until no longer pink.
Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Simmer covered for
10 minutes. Serve over seasoned brown rice. Serves 4.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where is Solomon when you need him ?

Why is it that deep, sustainable changes have to be so difficult to make ? Simple change is easy, and just because something changes does not mean it will remain on the new course unless it is a sustainable action. And unless something is a sustainable action, change can mean more harm than good. Intelligent change must be real, measurable and sustainable. To bring sustainability all factors of the current problem must be understood and taken into account when making a change, or it will fail. That's kind of where I am right now, and it seems that the equation gets more complex as things go about. I have been considering just how to make this whole thing with family time work with my husband's commitments. He devotes almost all of his vacation time to the heavy weeks church wise ( Holy Week and Christmas), every weekend ( at least 2 weeks a month it is Saturday and Sunday, the rest is usually all morning on Sunday) flex time off at work for funerals and now he is being called to do funerals on his vacation as well. We have one car because we cannot afford a second car, no public transportation and live at an intersection of two very busy roads with no sidewalks.No possible solution is one that would be sustainable for many reasons and it is making me think very unkind thoughts about everything involved. Then in the mail I got a bridal shower invitation for one of the nieces, and as much as I would like to go I know I probably will not be able to because he is going to be called for a funeral AND do evening mass that day and we will have to jockey around the whole rest of the week in order to fit in the necessary errands of the week, so I will not go. It's one of a thousand things I have missed because he has to sing. It gets really old.

One thing is certain though, I think better on my feet while walking. Walking can become a moving meditation that gets your blood pumping, endorphins flowing and helps you burn some calories. While walking I discovered that I am also able to jump now ! Nick and I did a lot of walking yesterday , housecleaning and playing another Wii game called Walk it out. It allows you to walk to the beat of several different tracks while you build an island community. We could not walk because of the noise factor, so we did the most we possibly could while seated in a chair. We broke a sweat , and it was a lot of fun !

The day was powered at the start by pear apple blueberry oats. We seem to go to this one a lot !

Lunch was black bean salad on a bed of romaine and watercress. I really love the colors in a black bean/corn/tomato mix !
15-Minute Black Bean Salad

½ cup minced onion
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1 can black beans -- (15 oz) drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn -- thawed
8 cherry tomatoes -- quartered( I used 2 whole, chopped)
½ cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
lettuce of your choice

Mince onions and garlic
Mix all ingredients together and serve on a bed of lettuce. This salad will keep for a couple of days and gets more flavorful if you let it marinate in the refrigerator for awhile. Serves 4

Dinner was an easy one . I wanted to make another round of lentil soup and 15 bean soup for the freezer, and both work best with ham. I bought a shank ham for the bone, planned to cook it in my crockpot, but it would not fit so I had to cut the meat off the bone and cook it separately. This was a big advantage because I could do a second crock pot with lentil/split pea soup at the same time as the ham. I remebered a trick discussed on my freezer cooking loop to make ham less salty ( pour a can on lemon lime soda over it) , and decided to try it for myself. It worked ! The ham came out less salty and very tender. I served it with a tossed salad topped with fruit salad and pecans and a vegetable ragout- think a sort of stew without broth.

Asparagus-Potato-Leek Ragout

2 large leeks -- white and pale green
1 lb. small yukon gold potatoes ( or other small potatoes)
2 cups water -- seasoned with Mrs Dash
1 lb. asparagus -- trimmed and cut diagonally
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms
lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves -- chopped ( or 2 T dried)
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley -- finely chopped ( or 1 T dried)

Cut leeks lengthwise and wash thoroughly. Then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Quarter potatoes and steam in a steamer until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a bowl. In skillet,water-saute leeks in seasoned water for 3-4 minutes, stirring until tender. (Add liquid if needed.)
Transfer leeks to bowl with potatoes. In skillet, heat more VegiZest water and water-saute asparagus for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms and water-saute mixture, and continue cooking for about 3 minutes or until mushrooms soften. Combine all ingredients. Before serving, squeeze a little lemon juice over vegetables, stir in mint, parsley, and pepper to taste, and gently toss. Serves 4.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Be careful what you wish for 'cause you just might get it

When I was pregnant , I had fond hopes and wishes for my son. I wanted him to be intelligent, compassionate, law abbiding and able to stick up for himself. Yesterday I realized I had gotten my wish- and wanted to kick myself. Then later in the day I began to think that perhaps I should nudge my son into considering a career in law...

The day began with Birthday wishes and overnight steel cut oats. In today's mix took 4 cups of water, 3 chopped madgool dates , 2 T of dried tropical fruit mix and brought it to a boil. Then I turned off the heat, added 1 cup of steel cut oats, put a lid on it and went to bed. In the morning I put it back on the heat, added a little more water because it had swelled so much and cooked it about 5 minutes. The I topped it with blueberries- quick , healthy breakfast for 3 ! A nice start to the day.

And then, the trouble started. Bad news on the doorstep, in the form of the Sunday Paper with coupon inserts. Nick LOVES to read the paper and he pays very close attention to those things that he has learned to be important - like the sales fliers and coupon inserts. He also loves the Arts and Entertainment section, the book section and home and garden. Good things. Nick is a high functioning autistic who has some behaviors that make you think of the movie Rain Man (KMart has underwear 3 for 5), and can drive you nuts. He also memorizes things like our house rues, everybody;s favorite everything,and more. Thus was the makings of "The Perfect bad food storm". House rule 1 is that when it is your birthday, you get to pick the eats. House rule 2 is unless there is an allergy involved, no substitutions. House rule 3- use a coupon whenever possible. So when it is your birthday and the paper offers coupons for Steak and Shake and you repeat this fact to your mom 9 billion times in an hour and remind her of how much she likes their portabello burgers between those repetitions, it becomes something like Chinese Water Torture. I finally asked him if he was trying to say he wanted to go to Steak and Shake for his birthday lunch and he said yes. Nick still has problems discerning between being asked if he wanted something and being told we are doing something, so we try not to mention anything he fixates on unless we are prepared to offer it. I forgot because I was being pecked to death by a duck, so to Steak and Shake we would go. Bob got home, we told him of the change in plans and then he dropped the next bomb- his singing schedule for the month after Easter. 3 Saturdays and Sundays , which means once again we can do nothing on any weekend, go no where and weekends will be rushed. Extra bonus if there are any Saturday Morning Funerals, which there is no way to predict in advance. After 29 years of this, I am getting really , really tired. Yet, there is no way out of the situation. It is who he is, his vow of ordination means he will serve in what ever capacity he is called on for , and we need the money he makes from this. Also his plan for retirement ( coming in 10 years) is to go full time into doing wake, funerals and weddings in a multi denominational capacity , and he needs to build up contacts and connections now. Just means I have to think more outside of the box to figure out a way to make all this work. I will,but at the moment I felt like I had been beaten by a sledgehammer and I just did not care about food. Steak and Shake it is.

Afterwords we went for a walk in the park, and talked. Walking and talking really helps me to clear my head, and we were given a rare 20 minutes of peace while Nick decided to play in the playground. It kind of ended when he fell off the slide ( mass + gravity+slick pants = boy shoots off slide like a missile). It was really nice to walk in the sunshine and STIFF breeze though !

Dinner was right back on program for all. Nick requested crab cakes, macaroni and cheese and spinach salad for dinner . I made baked crab cakes for the guys ( Moc crab, lemon juice, yogert, horseradish, breadcrumbs , mustard and parsley , form into patties and bake at 350 for 15 minutes) and the following

Mandarin Spinach w/ Caramelized Walnut

Line 3 bowls with desired amount of baby spinach, add thin sliced red onion an 1 clementine orange to each. Top with caramelized walnuts and dressing ( recipe follows)

Caramelized Walnuts:
2 cups water
1 cup ¼” diced walnut pieces walnuts
3 Tablespoons splenda
Boil water. Add walnuts and cook for 40 seconds. Strain the walnuts. Combine walnuts and sugar in a bowl. Stir to coat. Place sugar covered walnuts on a sheet pan and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown.

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 /2 cup splenda
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tsp Spanish paprika

Process in a blender till combined

And Macaroni with 4 cheese- a healthier version of an old favorite comfort food

Macaroni and 4 Cheeses

Cooking spray
1/2 pound small shaped whole wheat pasta
1 can solid pack pumpkin OR 1 pack frozen pureed squash
1 cup skim milk( or rice, soy or almond milk)
2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar -- grated
1 ounce Monterrey Jack cheese -- grated
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 /2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon unseasoned bread crumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender but firm, about 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place the pumpkin or frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, Jack cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.
Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. Then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned

Dinner got thumbs up . Spring break begins for us today and my plan is to do a lot of exercise and figure out how to further refine our life !

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I was an expert parent , and then I had a baby

18 years ago this morning , as I lay in a labor room instructing my OB and his side kick surgeon on exactly how I wished for my C Section incision to be done, I thought I knew what it was going to be like being a mom. I was never going to say most of the things my parents said- gems like "when you are living in your own home you can do ..... but not while you are under my roof" and "because I said so" and a million other things. I was going to be a hip, cool mom who put her son in preschool and then spent the next 14 or so years as a room mother, teachers assistant and so forth.I was going to nurse my son for the first year of life exclusively, then feed him only home made baby food and I would never, ever, EVER have an overweight child.

Then my son was born and the moment he entered the world, everything changed. The world had grown by 2 feet, 11 lbs 14 oz and 23 1/2 inches. My heart grew bigger than I could ever imagined and now seemed to be living outside of my body in a complex little package that was going to challenge everything I knew about virtually everything. In many ways I had given birth to my greatest teacher of all, who had a bag of lessons I had only head whispered about , and inaccurately so. It was indeed a red letter day.

And like any red letter day, it requires celebration. House rules are that when it is your birthday you can pick the meal and activity of your choice, so later today we will be eating some celebratory food and handing out gifts. One odd gift I will be giving is his collection of baby teeth. I saved every one of them with the intention of giving them to him on his 18th birthday. I never imagined how fast that day would come. I don't think anyone realizes when that day is out our windshelid. You blink , and then it is suddenly in your rear view mirror.

Meanwhile, yesterday was spent shopping , chopping, prepping and ...didn't I just finish these kind of tasks ????

Breakfast was fruity oatmeal- rolled oats cooked with pear, apple and blueberries.A morning of assorted household tasks and then off to the stores to shop. By lunchtime we were at our produce store and broke for lunch. I spotted an offering that made me feel nostalgic , and I decided that I would take a stroll down food memory lane with

a pepper and egg sandwich ! I grew up in Chicago and it's inner suburbs , and there were a billion corner hot dog stands. Every year during Lent on Fridays ( and some throughout the year) , all stands would offer pepper and egg sandwiches. It's simply scrambled eggs and sweet peppers served on a roll, but it is really good. Eggs are not the villains that they were wrongly painted to be a few years back. Eggs are a good source of protein, inexpensive and a lot less fat than a sausage sandwich, beef sandwich, burger or so on. There is little chance of running into chemical additives and so forth with an egg. It pretty much comes out of the chicken, is inspected to insure it is infertile and then sent to your market. It struck me as interesting that this was possibly the most unhealthy thing I have eaten in the last 6 weeks. The white bread roll and incredibly sparse vegetables made it unhealthy, but a lot better than some of the possible choices.

After an afternoon of chopping ( how many calories are burned from 4 hours of solid chopping ???) we had our current favorite Saturday Night meal. Roast veggie pizza on a high fiber tortilla ( roast broccoli, red pepper, mushrooms and onions at 350 for 30 minutes and then place on a high fiber tortilla with tomato sauce and a quarter cup mozzarella cheese and bake at 400 for 7 minutes or till the cheese melts). On the side was a salad of romaine and watercress with fresh pineapple cubes, sliced strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. Fruit salad on greens is DEE-liscious !

And thus begins Holy Week. While I am not christian, Bob is and a church music minister. Holy Week is high drama, complex music, extra rehearsals and a lot of frazzled nerves. He is taking some vacation time to cope with the onslaught and I have tried to plan nutrient rich foods to help fuel him through this. We also have plans for some get you to sweat activity to help in the process. May it be a good one for all !

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Today on "When vegetables attack..." . At least that was how it felt today ! I started off the week with some surplus produce from the week before, added new stuff , got a little lost as to what was this week and what was the week before and...well it was getting chaotic in the kitchen ! I determined to use up as much as I possibly could with what I had on hand, pitch as little as possible and start totally fresh with Saturday's shopping trip. It is days like this I miss having a juicer !

Breakfast was Steel Cut Oats with apple, pear and cranberries. Fruit was strangely one thing we seemed to buy just enough of

Lunch felt like "Attack of the produce department" ! Leftover garbanzo bean salad, leftover southwest black bean salad and whole wheat couscous with summer squashes and kale to attempt to use it up. Tasty, but WAY too heavy for lunch. Son and I were complete slugs all afternoon.

Dinner was Sweet Potato Lentil salad garnished with walnuts and dates. One of the best salads I have ever tasted !

I watched Jamie Olivers Food Revolution last night. No new information , but it really made me angry to think that the kids in the Chicago Public School system as well as other places are forced to eat this crud and barred from bringing their own lunches to school. It also ANGERED me that in the end the District Superintendent indicated that a possible change was going to be determined by cost and if the kids liked it. Excuse me , but are the schools in place to be profitable or to aid in the growth and development of children ???? I think that is the real question that needs to be asked. As far as like or dislike being a factor, most kids "dislike " learning math, grammar and doing homework , but that is required. Why not the same thing for actual nutritious food ? Did someone miss the memo that stated the body and brain are connected ??? The more I thought about it, the more angered I became over so many things in our society . We are a lot more than numbers, statistics , profits and possessions. One day perhaps we will collectively wake up to that fact.

And for that reason alone, the scale has become a lot less of my focus in life. We are still losing, but more importantly we are gaining a lot in overall health. That is the bottom line in all of this. Skin , hair and nails have improved, energy levels are up, my son's academic performance has improved, Autism behaviors are becoming less and less, his psoriasis has virtually disappeared. Hubby's digestive issues have dissipated, his allergies have drastically improved and energy levels have improved. My digestive issues are gone, hair skin and nails have improved, energy levels are up and my cycles seem to indicate I am once again fertile ( scary thought). My clothes are looser, my rings are looser, my shoes are looser and I look younger. All of those things make a number on a scale trivial at best.

Friday, March 26, 2010

So many choices, so few mealtimes !

I was talking to a friend yesterday about dinner and lunch ideas and a thought crossed my mind- life is too short to eat bad food ! We were talking about different recipes and several were things I would want to make and could make according to my new way of eating. Problem is there are only so many meals in a given week and I am afraid that I might forget some of these ideas before I can try them out. We all have the same problem in life. We eat three meals a day, seven days a week and there are a couple of billion different ways to combine healthy, flavorful ingredients for these. Why should we waste an opportunity on something that comes out of a can, is served at a fast food counter or is packaged after being altered for maximum appeal in color and taste ? Last I checked, nothing coming out of Hostess, Stoufffers or Chef Boyardee looks as remotely appetizing as mixed baby greens or a fresh cut ripe papaya.

Perhaps the thought was brought on by a moment of panic and freezing. We did several hallway walks yesterday and we were joking and being silly the whole time. Mynew goal is to get my son to love movement as much as he loves fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains, so there must be some amusement involved. For reasons I am not totally sure of, I decided it would be fun to make a quick dash between entrances on the outside while in our stocking feet ( and son without a shirt). It was sunny but an incredibly stiff, cold north wind was blowing. We got out, dashed to the other entrance, only to discover the lock was not working and we were temporarily stuck outside , freezing. The situation was remedied in less than a minute and we both laughed about how mommy had a dumb idea and we got rosy cheeks out of the day. It was bracing !

Breakfast was quinoa with frozen blueberries and walnuts. It seems if you put frozen berries in hot cereal it helps to cool the cereal, thaw the berries and the temp mix is just right.

Lunch was the last of the lentil soup, the last of the celery, more carrots than normal , rye crisp crackers and hummus. I am oing to have to make another batch of lentil soup this coming week, and to do so I need a ham bone. Good thing ham is dirt cheap this week due to Easter !Lentil soup seems to be our favorite, with minestrone coming in a close second.I may make a batch of each to stock the freezer with.

Dinner got a little out of hand , due to a need to use up some veggies that have been sitting in the fridge for a little while now. The meal was 15 minute garbanzo salad ( garbanzo, tomato, celery and fresh herbs on a bed of salad greens) , Sesame Orange Kale and Chard, roast rutabega, carrot and sweet potato and a pork loin chop seasoned with ginger , tumeric and garlic. Somehow I bought too much of a couple of things two weeks ago and rather than toss them I determined to find a way to use them up. We go shopping on Saturday where a new stock comes in so I am kind of pressed to use it up. It happens some times !

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The forced school lunch program

I am a homeschooler, and have been one for my son's entire educational career. We began with preschool when he was 3 yrs old and have continued ever since(15 years now). My son has never experienced a mainstream school and I have never had to deal with any of the issues that parents of main stream schools deal with. I have nothing against main stream schooling. Homeschooling is not a choice that would suit every family and not everyone wants to do this. It is best if we are all allowed a choice in education. It has proven to be the best choice for our family, and every now and then I get glimpses into that other world that remind me of why. Such happened yesterday and it also involves a food matter. I came across a story about the Chicago Public Schools revamping their lunch program, and amongst the changes came a policy that no outside food could be brought into the school. No child would be allowed to brown bag their lunch any more, but instead would be required to buy a lunch from he on site food service.

Considering what most school lunch programs are offering, this is a fast track to increase a lot of health problems ! That is simply on the surface. The district argues that the main reason this policy is in place is to cut down the likelihood of violence in the schools. Students cannot sneak in weapons or drugs with their lunchbags. Problem is not only is the food service devoid of any real nutrition, there is no alternative meals offered for children with dietary restrictions of any kind ( allergies, intolerance, religious conviction, ethical belief or so forth). I was really shocked at this move- especially within a week of a new campaign nation wide to combat childhood obesity. I was concerned for my nieces and nephews who do attend mainstream schools and several of which have become vegetarian for health reasons. I discovered through talking with one of my sisters that this is already the policy for their district because too many students were sneaking alcohol in water bottles and re-usable drink containers. Pound head...pound head... it seems that the causes for childhood obesity, like weight loss attempts, are a lot more complicated than you first realize. It just made me glad I made this choice for my son and gave me a real shot of encouragement to keep pressing on when the going gets tough !

Thanks for the sympathies on my toe- I really HATE stupid injuries. I have broken bones stepping on an empty blech bottle, torn ligaments stepping off a curb, thrown my back out while turning to grab toilet paper and other death defying actions. I have broken my collarbone while skiing but lived through a bear attack and being thrown over a waterfall with just a scratch or two. I have a special talent it seems ! I was determined to not let the stupid toe slow us down so we got in a LOT of hall walking( thank you thick socks) and playing with the Wii Resort cycle. The skin is starting to form on he wound , bypassing a scab all together , and I am hoping that I will be able to put on shoes come Saturday.I have to ! Gotta do grocery shopping for the big event. Nick will turn 18 on Sunday and we want to celebrate !

Food offerings- or should I say our school lunch program for the day included:

Oatmeal with apple, blueberry, flax and almonds for breakfast

Southwest bean salad ( black beans, corn, red peppers, zucchini, cucumber, cilantro and salsa) on a bed of baby greens for lunch. A Tangelo joined in the fun.

A salad of romaine, watercress, dried cranberries, blood orange , apples and walnuts with Creole chicken ( tomatoes, celery, peppers, spinach and yellow squash) over brown rice for dinner. This one was so filling that no one could finish the portions. Next time I will cut this one in half !

It really saddens me that there are people in the world who for whatever reason are not given access to honest to goodness real food that nourishes the body. Good nutrition makes a world of difference in your health and performance- physical, spiritual and mental. It angers me that we live in such a world that requires policies that keep people from this basic human right established due to concerns of safety and ultimately determined by profit.

Time for a dandelion break.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Domestic Violence - or is it violins ?

My home is trying to kill me !

I have come to this conclusion after events of this week. There is a joke that says that housework , if done correctly can kill you. I think my home environment got wind of this and is testing out the theory.

The morning started out with a huge sigh of relief that this was not going to be yet another day of cooking , clean up and other household tasks. It was going to be MY day - well okay, my day to focus on schooling and exercise. We are working with a really interesting unit study for the science portion of our school and we would be able to follow all the "rabbit trails" we came across without having to worry about time needed for other subjects plus he flow of the day. Nice feeling in that.

breakfast was fruity oats with pumpkin seeds. It is amazing how much sweet is given to oats when you cook fresh fruit in the water for a few minutes. A pear, an apple and a spoon ful of raisins make the oats extra yummy ! Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc- something that helps ward off colds, protects men from prostate cancer and other good things.

So we began school and had such a fun, rewarding day that we had a late lunch that we had to force ourselves to stop for. No reflection on the lunch but wetland ecology was just so much more interesting !
The 15 bean soup, veggies and hummus was worth the break though!

The plan for the afternoon was to head to the woods for a nice long walk once Bob got home. It was a beautiful day and I was itching to get out there. We finished school, got cleaned up and then Bob came home and we grabbed our shoes to get out the door. It was then i learned that I was not going to go anywhere because my house is trying to kill me. Monday while doing one of many clean up jobs I caught my big toe on either the bottom of the closet door or pedal on the garbage can and I cut all the skin off the top of it. I remember whacking my foot, saying ouch but needing to move on to complete things. I did not notice how bad I injured muyself till I sat down to do the Wii with Nick and he pointed out my bloody toe. So I cleaned it up, put a bandage on it and went about my barefoot way. This was the first time I put a shoe on since the scrape, and putting a show on the foot made me VERY aware of the cut and it's severity . So I took my shoes off and went to go try to find other footware, only to discover I have none. My son's flip flops are too big, my husband does not own any and it is too cold and the parking lot is too filled with broken glass and oil spills to go barefoot. So I was grounded, and really disappointed ! We stayed home and played with the Wii, while I decided that the house is definitely trying to kill me.

Dinner was one of the better crockpot recipies I have- Italian sausage soup with greens. Take a pound of italian sausage and cut it into coins. Toss in the crock pot and slice 3 cloves of garlic and add. Pour in 4 cups chicken stock and a can of tomato paste and cook on low for 4-8 hrs. Half hour before serving turn the crockpot up to high and add 1/2 cup small shell pasta ( I was out so I added 8 oz of whole wheat rotini so that the remaining 2 ounces in the bag would stop falling out everytime I opened the cabinet door and create either dishwater noodle soup or Crunchy floor) and 6 cups chopped greens - I used rainbow chard and arugula this time. I paired this with a sandwich of hummus spread on a Deli flat and a string cheese sliced into coins and cooked at 350 for 10 minutes. Top with fresh spinach- fast and yummy !

After dinner we watched The Biggest Loser ( I am getting so bored with that show !) and the next episode of 19 Kids and Counting. I felt off because I had not really gotten any serious exercise in for the day , and my body was missing the endorphins ! I am going to baby my toe till the weekend, and in the mean time go back to the hallway workout here. At least I can walk the always in my stocking feet and my toe will develop a happy, protective scab so i can once again wear shoes !

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Body by Swiffer

Welcome to Day 3 of "My existence seems to be for the sole purpose of food in some stage:. I have no idea why it happened this way this week but by about mid day I was ready to scream about it. It seems that a lot of people were having the kind of day yesterday where they just felt like they were working hard for the millionth time and getting no where !

I got up, started to tackle my Reiki work ( I do distance healing sessions and the morning quiet is a definite plus for this), and then checked the menu to see what was for dinner and what needed to be defrosted. Here I discovered that I needed to cook another batch of beans, make a batch of Cole slaw and a couple of other things. So I set out to do that, spilled something on the counter and floor which meant whipping up spills for the first of a million times this day. It was also the day I was supposed to tackle the big weekly housecleaning, begin teaching my son Calculus ( or as i jokingly called it find something more painful than gouging my eyes out with a dessert spoon), exercise and about a million more things. Big mistake- I made myself feel very overwhelmed before breakfast ! This habit never bodes well.

Breakfast was quinoa with fresh fruit salad. I picked up more of the regular variety over the weekend, and there was rejoice ! Quinoa has a mild sort of nutty taste and is chewy in texture. It is a high protein grain (14 g per half cup) and is a complete protein, unlike rice , beans or wheat. It is really tasty with fruit and lasts with you through the morning.

We began school with a half hour session on the Wii and I decided to turn coleslaw making into a science lab with my son. We were making a sweet and sour cooked dressing as opposed to a mayonnaise one so it became an experiment to see if dates ( high in fructose) would work as well as sugar or Splenda to balance out the sour in vinegar. Answer is no- but they do add an interesting note to the dressing.

Lunchtime rolled around , and I was on a complete frustration roll, so these roll up sandwiches seemed to be perfect. Roast broccoli with hummus and arugula on a multi grain wrap. I reached for a banana because I thought part of my problem might be PMS, and the potassium in bananas help to relive some symptoms. Didn't work, but I noticed that I laid my lunch out to look like a headphone wearing veggie head. Freudian food styling perhaps ???

After lunch I checked my internet things and came across someone who was implying that one of the most important tools in weight loss was exercise, best done at a gym because of the awesome calorie burn you get. Not the best thing to read in a stressed frame of mind on a day when it feels like fitting in a shower requires a calculus equation, and you also need to get the house cleaned. This is the stuff that makes a person really struggling decide that weight loss an life improvement is just too hard and they give up. I am a brat, and I like to defy all manner of things. I reasoned that my muscles just know that they are moving at a consistent level , be it lifting weights or lifting grocery bags. So has someone ever broken down the calorie burn you get from housework ?? Answer is yes. The following is for a 150 lb person doing the listed activity for 30 minutes
Doing laundry 73 calories
making the bed - 68 calories
Ironing- 78
dusting- 87
floor scrubbing 129
yard work- 170
washing windows-102
carrying a small child up and down stairs- 285
rearranging furniture- 204
sewing- 40
painting- 190

If you weigh more, you burn more. If you do it longer, you burn more. One source rounded it our to say that the overall burn is about 160 calories for a half hour house work. Most stay at home moms know that there are days when housework happens from the moment you open your eyes till you melt into bed that night as an exhausted mess. In short, if you are actively doing housework, even following the Fly Lady's 10 minute timer sessions, your home can become your gym, and you will feel a lot less stress through living in a clean, organized environment.Information is power and that bit of information de-stressed me a lot.

The rest of the afternoon was busy and we managed to get out for a short walk. Dinner was bean burgers on Deli flats, Swiss chard and veggie medley and fruit salad. I made a big batch of bean burgers so that I could freeze the leftovers and have some quick go to lunches and dinners on hand. I let them cool, wrapped in plastic wrap and then flash froze them on a cookie sheet. To use, pull from the freezer and microwave on high for 3 minutes( or pop in a 350 oven for 20 minutes). I also stocked my freezer with a fresh supply of cooked garbanzo beans which I cooked all day in the crock pot. I take a bag or two of dried beans, place in the crockpot, fill it with water and let it cook all day on low. In the evening when the beans are tender I drain them, rinse and then package in 2 cup portions in zip locks. Each bag is the equivalent of a can of beans with a lot less salt and a fraction of the cost. Stocking the freezer with healthy options goes a long way to keeping you on program and making your wallet smile !

Today is supposed to be sunny and I have NO COOKING CHORES or cleaning chores ! Going to get out in the sunshine and see if the robins survived the snow this past weekend .

Monday, March 22, 2010

Someone's in the kitchen, working

Yesterday it seems that the entire day revolved around food in some way- and not in a fun way ! It was spent cooking, cleaning, chopping and then repeat.Some days are like that , and I hate them. Not because I hate cooking, but rather it is a sign that I did not think out my plan well enough in advance to make it workable. On those days there is nothing for it but to push through and know that things will be different the next day .

We started out with a breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, and then Bob headed off to sing at services. I sat down to plan the week to come school wise, and I remembered we were having something new for lunch so I stopped to check the menu and remembered about 15 other food related tasks I needed to accomplish for the week ahead, so I stopped to do those first. And in that process I discovered about 5 other things that needed to be done Saturday but I had run out of steam to accomplish. So add them. In the meantime the sink got filled up with dishes so did them, noticed the counter was filled with debris so deal with that, go back to the tasks and notice it was almost lunch time so speed through those and do the lunch prep was just non stop in the morning! Lunch was a little latter than normal because of rehearsals, which was a good thing in a sense because it gave me a little more time to try to catch up.

Lunch was a Portabello and red pepper sandwich on a whole wheat pita with tahini spread and arugula. Served with carrot and celery sticks and fresh fruit salad. Yummy ! Our market had several varieties of berries on sale this week and I took full advantage of that fact.

If the morning did not provide enough fun, the afternoon certainly tried to make up for it. The original plan was to head out for a walk after lunch but I was still knee deep in must do things and behind on other no food tasks, the income taxes needed to get filed and I was really achy from the morning and the day before so we declared a rest /catch up day. I finished the food related things ( and the clean up ) and moved on to lesson planning, my own studies, reiki work and then something new and novel- more cooking ! Dinner prep needed to be done. This was a delicious but fiddly sort of meal. At least it felt fiddly after a day of so many other food related activities.
Baked Apricot garlic chicken thighs with Doubly Delicious greens - really turned out delicious !

Baked Apricot Garlic Chicken Thighs

4 apples -- quartered
2 oranges -- quartered
1 onion -- peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
20 fresh sage leaves
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup apricot spreadable 100% fruit
2 teaspoons Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
3 teaspoons Spike seasoning (no salt) or other no salt seasoning
6 cloves garlic -- pressed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut apples in quarters and slice core out leaving flat.
In baking pan arrange apples, oranges, and onion close together. Lay herbs on top of fruit.
Place tenderloins on top of fruit, onion, and herb mixture. If using turkey scallops, fan out
three scallops on top of each other and place over apple, orange, onion and herb mixture,
and do the same for the remaining three. Mix apricot spread, liquid aminos, Spike and garlic.
Generously spread turkey with sauce. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes until
turkey juices run clear when pricked in center with a fork. Serves 3.

Doubly Delicious Greens

1 large bunch bok choy -- chopped
1large bunch Swiss chard -- chopped
1 medium onion -- coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic -- chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (no salt) -- (15 ounce)
2 cups shiitake and/or baby bella mushrooms -- sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning

Place bok choy, Swiss chard, onions, and garlic in a large steamer and steam until almost tender,
about 10 minutes. In a large pot add tomatoes, mushrooms, steamed greens mixture, and seasoning.
Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serves 8.

Come evening we were all kind of tired and spent the evening watching tv. Caught the next episode of Ruby , and it kind of struck a weird place in my head because of the connection with her father.Fathers indeed have a lot to do with deep issues of any woman, and it reminded me of several of the issues I confronted in my own journey to lose 110 lbs in the past. My father was responsible for most of the skewed food messages I had, through no ill intention of his own. Then we watched the season opener of Gene Simmons Family Jewels to watch Shannon go through a potential breast cancer scare. Oh thanks TV for the mental disemboweling of the evening ! My father died of breast cancer in 2004, and the subject evokes really strong feelings in me. Watching these two programs left me feeling like I had a whole lot of clean up to do in my head ! The evening was redeemed by the premiere of Kirstie Allie's Big life. I think I really, really like her !I don't agree with her motivation to lose weight, but I think she is going to make the whole journey a heck of a lot of fun to watch !

Back to the grind today, and I STILL have cooking things to accomplish ! In my mind I am working on creating something like The Domestic Workout where your household equipment becomes your gym. Presses with a broom while sweeping, vacuum squats, toilet scrubbing with weights and so forth. I think I could create it, package it and sell enough to hire a personal chef and housekeeping staff and chauffeur with limo so I could just get up, head to a real gym, eat healthy foods prepared for me and do all those other things I really want to do and are also good at !

Sunday, March 21, 2010

White world and a New Moon

Weekends, especially Saturday, can get really weird ! We are a one car family in a town with no public transportation and several busy roadways with no sidewalks, so errands wait till the weekend. When the necessary errands compete with commitments, it gets rushed.

We started the day off with a bowl of oats sweetened with chopped dates and topped with fruit salad. Fruit salad is a great way to use up the last bits of the fruit so that there is room for a fresh stock. It is really surprising how satisfying fresh fruit and oatmeal can be !

Then off to run errands. The first day of spring ! All week long the temps were hovering in the 60's and there was sunshine . This morning, we woke to this
I saw a couple of very confused looking robins on the lawns as we passed. Yeah buddy, I feel the same way ! Enough winter already...please ??? It will be Easter in 2 weeks, and while my spiritual holiday was on this day , I hate thinking of Easters with no new growing things and white on the ground. Bring on the dog violets and so on !!! We did the first half of our errands , including a trip to Trader Joes where mom had to keep repeating "but it is still a cookie , guys and not really food!", and then it was time to break for lunch. Sweet Tomatoes was in the area, so we went to eat our fill of salad, soups and muffins

Salad of romaine, spinach, broccoli, red cabbage, raw butternut squash, tomatoes, zucchini, garbanzos, raisins, sunflower seeds

Signature salads including Classic Greek, Cole slaw, Island Pineapple salad, Joannes Broccoli Madness and one other I cannot remember the name of. Okay universe, if the green cannot appear outside, GET IN MY BELLY !!!

cup of vegetarian vegetable stew, 8 grain bread, fat free cranberry orange bran muffin, classic cheese focaccia and garlic focaccia- yum ! By this time I was full. I had to laugh at my son. We walked in and he got all excited for the different kinds of Cole slaw, raw cabbage and beets. He has developed a real love for most cruciferious veggies and would eat his weight in them happily. Turns out one of the tools that swayed his opinion was to read over my shoulder often while visiting Kath eats real food. I think he has a little crush on her- but more important is the fact that she is young enough to look like a peer, and she always talks about how tasty and healthy real foods are. It has been one of my greatest tools steering him to healthy eating. When I introduce something new, ,if he shies away from it I just say "kath eats it", and he happily tries it - and usually loves it.

After several more stops and the purchase of a mountain of veggies for the week we made it home and began the job of chopping, packing, portioning and so forth. It's a whole family affair these days. We are a food factory ! Bob is in charge of inventory ( shelving the stock, rotating it so oldest is used first and filling containers). Nick is in charge of data entry and assorted gofer things( makes labels, runs to get containers and zip locks) and I am in charge of manufacturing ( chopping and prepping veggies according to use in the coming week). We all work , then we spend the evening doing something fun. Over the last couple of weeks it has been movie viewing, and dinners have been sort of lite. We were all pretty full from the salad lunch but it is importaint to refuel every few hours , so dinner was snack fare
Carrots, celery and hummus, my weekly treat of a walnut brownie and popcorn for all. Air popped with nothin on it at all- we have grown to love it this way ! The movie was New Moon, as requested by my son, who decided after 10 minutes it was too scary and left to go to his room and watched The Wiz instead. We rented this as a pay per view and so Bob and I watched it. It seems we are both too old to appreciate the teen angst and adolescent ideas of romance, because we both sat there scratching our head and heckling the movie. I don't get it. It was fun to share the evening and popcorn together. By the end of the film we were joking about doing a remake with Yakko, Wakko and Dot of The Annimaniacs as part of the cast. Could be fun !

Today is going to be another day of commitments , study for me and some creative exercise. It's going to be good !

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Weigh ,weigh, blow the man down

Let us begin the day with the weigh in

Me 240.6- UP 3.0 lbs. There can be some very good reasons for this- I have increased my activity level and the gain could be the temporary back lash some people get when they begin to first build muscle. Second reason could be hormonal- I am still fertile, and I have always gained at ovulation. In my younger years it was as much as a 20 lb gain in a week( PCOS means you do not release an egg but instead produce multiple fluid filled cysts). In either case I an not concerned because i know i am doing all I should, my body has a wisdom that does not always relay information to my will and this too shall pass.

Son- DOWN 1.6 ! ( It can be really frustrating to have 3 people doing the same thing in ratio and proportion to their own body and see wildly different results)

Hubby - UP 0.2 ...or as I told him a bunny fart. His gain is most likely due to muscle. His office was moved last weekend and he now has to walk a long flight of stairs several times a day. This too will level out and the gain will pass.

Yesterday's food- the yummy portion of the post !
Breakfast was polenta with apple, pear, date and raisins. I think oatmeal is my favorite grain , but I like to try to include a variety of healthy foods in our diet.

Lunch was a twist on an old favorite for us - Orange sesame noodles but now made with whole wheat pasta, kale and the sauce was a mix of orange juice, peanut butter and a teaspoon of soy sauce. I tossed a peeled Cutie (mandarin) orange on the top. On the side was a Cole slaw made from cabbage, beet, kohlrabi, carrot, apple and raisin. The dressing was soy milk, mayonnaise, vinegar and apple juice.

Dinner was a great idea gone bad ! I made a marinara sauce in the crockpot with kale, zuchini,mushroom, red pepper and meatballs made out of ricotta and lentils ( It was both St Joseph's Day and a meatless Friday, so it sounded like a winner for my Italian Catholic husband). Non meat meat balls in a crockpot tend to fall apart, and the result is a kind of messy stew. I served this over Whole wheat pasta and we had a beet slaw on the side ( shredded beets, red cabbage and carrots in a vinegar dressing). It is so funny to me that my former veggie hating son now not only loves veggies but requests and sneaks them. While I was making dinner he kept sneaking pinches of shredded beets and raw mushrooms. It made me think of those Hidden Valley Ranch dressing commercials where the kids are eating veggies and loving them. My, we really have come a long way in this !

Friday, March 19, 2010

Moles and cold roast veggies

Nature speaks to me. Sometimes it whispers softly, other times it seems to jump up and yell. Quite often , when I am mentally wrestling with something , the most intelligent thing I can do is head to the woods for a walk, think and keep my eyes open for the answer. I tell people that trees are my teacher- they laugh and think I am joking, but I never am. Yesterday was one of those times, and I managed to capture the answer in pictures. We had made plans o take another trip to the woods because the weather was beautiful this week. Daylight savings is a real plus for us in the fact that more hours of light in the late afternoon allows us to get outside more. All week long I have been wrestling with an issue. It's not important to say exactly what it is , but important to say that when the deeper changes of menopause( not physical ones) meet the journey of weight loss and a long term relationship, it can get interesting ! For those who are not yet at that joyful time of life, know that the shifting hormone landscape can make you very...irrational ?You think about things deeper and sometimes those thoughts lead to some really erroneous, illogical conclusions. Being a wife can be hard work , and if your husband is involved in ministry at some level , things can get really complicated .Mix those factors together and you get.....

Mole trails. Things look sort of dead on the surface, but there is evidence of something really big moving below the surface. As much as you would like to hide the issue, it leaves a mark that can trip up the surface dwellers. The soil underneath benefits in some way from the stirrings underground, but if left unchecked it can destroy the stability of the trees and consume the tap roots of important plants. Left unchecked, moles can go on and on and on...

It seemed that nature had spoken. Address the moles. If something is bothering me, bring it into the light.

So we walked and I thought of how to bring up what I had on my mind ( which took me all night to figure out how to put it into words- words can be tricky things at times), and enjoyed the sunshine. There was a cool , stiff breeze in the air which seemed to say that the Maiden of Spring was wrestling with Old Man Winter for the last of the doughnuts. Snow is in the forecast for this weekend.

Breakfast was oatmeal , lunch was soup and hummus and veggies again but dinner was a new idea for me

Turkey spinach burgers with sweet potato fries ( old news) and a salad of romaine and watercress topped with chilled leftover roast veggies from the night before and walnuts and ried cranberries. It occurred to me that you can make a good salad with roast veggies, you can eat them chilled and combining the two would probably be a good idea. It really was ! I am thinking about simply roasting a mess of veggies to keep on hand in the fridge for a couple of days to add to salads. What a convenient, yummy thing !

Tomorrow is weigh in and I think it's going to be a good one. I am noticing that all of my clothes are fitting rather loosely and that there is suddenly more space on the chair when I sit. Son is looking like he has lost in the shoulders and Bob's tummy is looking a little flatter. I am curious to see what the numbers show.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New food, new method

I tried two new things yesterday. First was at breakfast- something called Black Quinoa. I ran out of the regular variety and all our market had was black quinoa, so I decided to be adventurous and give this one a whirl. I cooked it with a pear and an apple and then topped it with half a navel orange

Verdict is that I don't like this one as much as the regular. The black does not swell as much as the white and it becomes much like eating a bowl of softened poppy seeds. Guess this means I better plan on a trip to Trader Joes this weekend to get some more of the regular stuff !

A lighter exercise day followed, as I needed to get the house cleaned, the menu planned and complete my study on the herb yarrow for medicinal purposes along with doing school. Son asked it we could do canoeing and boxing with the Wii, which were excellent suggestions. A busy morning followed and we were both really looking forward to lunch !

A bowl of Bone Soup from the freezer with veggies , hummus and the last of the strawberries. No matter what the weather, a bowl of good soup makes for a good lunch !

Being St Patrick's Day and a great grandchild of Irish immigrants ( as well as others) , dinner was corned beef and veggies and soda bread. Normally it goes with boiled cabbage and potatoes and rutabagas, but this year I tried something different- I roasted several varieties of veggies instead of boiling them. It was much better !

Making their appearance was beets, kohlrabi, carrots, rutabaga, broccoli, cauliflower and leeks . I made the soda bread with half whole wheat flour, half white flour, moc buttermilk( skim milk soured with vinegar) baking soda and raisins. A healthier twist on a classic dish.

Today and tomorrow the temperature is going to reach almost 70, and then drop and bring snow come Saturday and Sunday. It's that crazy time of the year !

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Behinder I got :-)

Much better day pain wise yesterday . Arthritis responds to certain drugs, but it also responds to anything that can get an increase in blood flow to the area affected, and therefore frequent gentle movement will make you feel a lot better. Walking is a excellent way to do this, and yesterday we walked a bunch !

Began the morning with a fruity 7 grain cereal mix( apples, pears, dates and blueberries). I bought this a couple of weeks ago when the store was out of steel cut oats, and I figured it would make a suitable replacement. Turns out it is only so-so; I like oats , quinoa or millet more! After breakfast we did our Wii sports and our first walk. Somehow we got to just having fun with the walk, time got away from us and it turned out we had spent a solid hour exercising ! Good for the body, but heck for homeschool and other household chores that needed to get done. I will catch up...I thought .

After a good chunk of school we broke for this AMAZING lunch ! Sweet Potato lentil salad, and the recipe came from Kath - whom i think I would like to be when I grow up ! Basically you cook lentils, cube a sweet potato per person , sprinkle with cinnamon and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Meanwhile , cut up 5 dates and chop 1/4 cup walnuts and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. She made a dressing out of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and something else- I used some Brianna's Honey Mustard for ours. Place baby spinach in a bowl, top with lentils and sweet potatoes, dressing and then the walnut date mix. It was possibly the best salad I have ever eaten !

Back to school, more walking, and I kept getting further behind but I didn't care. The weather seemed to make a change about mid day and when Bob got home he suggested we all head for a walk in the woods before dinner. We did , and got to witness something few people see- a controlled burn !
This is done often in prairie restorations and other times in attempts to control invasive plant speicies. This area was originally tall grass prairie, and fire was part of the life cycle.This forest preserve is attempting to bring back the prairie, and they do a controlled burn once a year. We often see the scorched earth, but never the actual fire. It was exciting to watch from a safe distance and HOT ! I can only imagine how terrifying prairie fires must have been !
The rest of the woods was fragrant, peaceful and gave numerous signs of waking up after a long winters nap.

Dinner was something I jokingly call The Fraizer Special- tossed salad and scrambled eggs ! Sauteed leeks, mushroom, red pepper and spinach with eggs, and the salad was romaine, watercress mix topped with sliced apples, pears and strawberries. It is amazing how satisfying colorful meals are !

After dinner I attempted to catch up with some of the must do things, but no such luck. Today is a new day and I will somehow get it done. In the meantime, I sure had a lot of fun getting behind !