Eight weeks ago, having recently let my WW membership lapse, I was recruited by Kate to join her in a commitment to eat better and lose some weight. So I reacquainted myself with my Lose It app and we started planning & logging (the key to success no matter the program)! We coordinate dinners as much as we can and mostly cook & eat at home! It can be tiresome... sometimes I think we need something new in rotation, and not just a dish, a big new actual palatable, main-dishable ingredient thing... but we're managing. We're not doing any one thing, just buying, preparing & eating Real Good Food.

There's only one scale in the house and it happens to be in Kate's apartment, so once every week or so, on the weekend or my day off, before breakfast & getting dressed, I wrap a scarf 'round my neck and step into some boots (not even bothering to zip/tie) and dash outside & up the stairs in my bathrobe for a weigh-in.

I've lost 10.6 pounds since then. Not setting the world on fire, but that's OK! I've done some traveling, some socializing, some celebrating, and still... my clothes fit better (ok, yes, I'm talking about jeans) and I feel better, win-win.


I don't have any other photos to show today, so you get yarn. These are in the shop now. There's more on the drying rack, and an order arriving at the end of the week!

Cooking in parchment

Today is Day 4 of a new Whole30. I have more to say about that, but not today.

I'm not really very organized about it, at the moment, but I have a cohort who is also motivated and that's helping to keep with the program.

The internet is also very helpful. Like yesterday, away from home, when it was decided that salmon would be good for supper... with dill. So I googled "Whole30 salmon dill" and came up with Dill & Lemon Baked Salmon in Parchment from paleogrubs.com.


Chop & slice some zucchini, season, drizzle with olive oil, add lemon and salmon, season a little more, seal it up in parchment paper, and bake.

COULD.NOT.BE.EASIER. And clean up is a breeze.


Every time I cook in parchment, I wonder why I don't do it more often. 

Seeing the similar Paleo Shrimp Baked in Parchment Paper recipe guarantees that I'll do it again soon!

Ten on Tuesday: I Am

Ten on Tuesday:  I Am...

1.  I am conflicted on which way to go with this post, so it's probably going to be all over the place!


2.  In case you haven't heard, I am a grandmother! It's hard to believe he's 3 weeks old already!

3.  I am looking forward to my first babysitting gig.

4.  Not altogether happy with my current knitting project, I am considering casting on for Ysolda's Follow Your Arrow Mystery KAL.

5.  I don't know if it's a thing anymore, but I am considering knitting it, start-to-finish, during the games that start later this week.

6.  If that doesn't get my knitting mojo going, I am not sure what will.

7.  I am still quite interested in handsewing & embellishing, and exploring more of the techniques of Alabama Chanin.

8.  In fact, I am anxiously awaiting delivery of some new materials for a couple of small projects I have in mind that will also make use of some old materials -- re-use and recycle, if you will. This could definitely mess up the knitting plans.

9.  I am at the beginning of another Whole30. There was a birthday celebration over the weekend and a big football game, which means cake & pizza around here, but I didn't over-indulge and was already prepping.


10.  That means that I am cooking! Over the weekend I made a pot of Chocolate Chili (rave reviews from everyone) (from Well Fed, one of my favorite cookbooks), an Italian Pork Roast (in the oven instead of slow-cooked) (to DIE for) and Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup (both from Well Fed 2) (yep, I'm a fan). I also roasted a spaghetti squash and a few whole sweet potatoes. And, finally, MAYO! I made homemade mayo only once before; I was in high school and had run across the recipe... and was so intrigued by the idea of a recipe for mayonnaise. Who knew you could make it yourself? I sure didn't. So, anyway, that's given us plenty of food to start the week. I had the last of the chili with a dollop of spaghetti squash, above, for lunch today. Yummm.


I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.

--Helen Keller


Ten on Tuesday: Breakfast of Champions!

Ten on Tuesday:  10 Favorite Breakfast Foods

1.  Eggs. I have an egg for breakfast almost everyday.

2.  Corned Beef Hash (with an egg). I haven't had this in ages, and hardly ever actually had it at breakfast... and I think this is what I want for supper TONIGHT. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since it popped into my heard earlier today.

3.  Bacon. Self-explanatory. Goes with everything.

4.  Leftovers. Fish, some steak, half a bratwurst, a meatball, veggies of all sorts... yummy for breakfast (along with an egg).

5.  Cereal with fruit & nuts. Cheerios with bananas & pecans. Rice Chex with raisins & walnuts. The barest minimum of milk. Liberal sprinkles of cinnamon.

6.  Oatmeal. Good chewy stuff, with raisin and pecans, lots of cinnamon.

7.  Greek yogurt. Plain, with honey, pineapple, and peach were my faves.

8.  Toast. Regular or french. Good bread, good eggs, good syrup.  :)

9.  Pancakes with maple syrup & sausage links.

10.  Waffles (ditto).

I mostly only eat #1, 3 & 4 for breakfast, lunch or dinner these days; the occasional #5 for a supper on my own or a late-night bite.

I get to smell toast regularly and, like fresh baked bread, it still smells good.

One of my favorite things about making pancakes & waffles were the stray little drips and bits that would get super done & crispy -- little pancake or waffle chips.

I like things crispy.

Speaking of breakfast (food), it's been a while and I could use a system reset, so I'm thinking about and gearing up for a Whole30 in February, I think. I ran across Melissa Joulwan's "food plan" and that's a good jumping off point. As has been previously documented here, I love her recipes!


The beet goes on

First of all: ROASTING!

Lord knows, I'd eat almost anything drizzled in oil, beautifully seasoned with plain salt and pepper, and ROASTED. Whatever it is, roasting makes it a million times better.

I used my new* favorite cookbook, Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat by Melissa Joulwan, and made Belly Dance Beet Salad. The original/prototype recipe can be found here, with lots of good discussion in the comments.

Ahem. Do as I say, not as I do: put the pistachios on the upper rack for toasting in the oven (not the lower, as shown above). Those burned, of course, and I had to quickly shell more nuts to toast on the stove (which is probably what I should have done all along).

I think I had slightly more than 2 lbs. of beets. Most of them were VERY small, so I chopped top and bottom and roasted them whole; others were halved or quartered and there were a couple that were pretty large, chopped to make more or less uniform. I loved that I didn't need to peel!

After roasting, the beets were cooled a bit and chopped again to about 1/2-inch size pieces. Actually, I was a bit behind, so I chopped them so that they would cool down quicker!

Dressed with a combo of orange juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and spices, and tossed with the toasted nuts and sliced green onions, it was DELICIOUS! I don't have an aversion to beets, as do some, including my husband, but even he gobbled this up like crazy -- loved it and said they were the best beets he's ever had!

Using another recipe in WF2, I dressed up some grass-fed ground beef and made Italian burgers. They, too, were delicious; moist and full of flavor. This book couldn't have arrived at a better time!

*One of my old favorite cookbooks is the original Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, which I have in electronic form... and would really like in physical form! That book is home to the recipe for The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat. Ever., which is still one of our hands-down favorites! I haven't made every recipe in that book, but I love every recipe I've made -- one of the best features in both books are the the options and "You know how you could do that?" ideas that Melissa includes for almost every recipe.



Gratuitous seasonal photo.

I still have a million things on my plate, but I practiced yoga this morning for the first time in ages and I feel fine...

I feel very, very fine.

After a brutal loss last week, I also took time this morning to shore up my fantasy football team, so I'm feeling much better about that now, too.

The best thing, though, was that I started my day at the dentist.

I know... Who knew? Going to the dentist used to be the most dreaded thing on my calendar! I credit my actual dentist and his staff for truly being The Best. The course of periodontal treatment that we've been on the past couple of years has resulted in marked improvement, and it's been phenomenal in the past year or so; I may even be able to go back to twice-yearly checkups like a normal person.

Hm. What has changed in the past year? At an appointment several months ago, it was noted that inflammation was improved and that there was much less bleeding -- a trend that has continued/improved (little-to-no bleeding today). In addition, and very obvious at today's appointment, there is less and less scraping of plaque build-up. OMG, that used to be just the worst thing ever, and I can still hear a former hygienist SIGHING, over and over, and she scraped and chipped. Yeah, I know, it's awful and I should have brushed/flossed/rinsed/whatever...

The thing is, try as I might and as good as I am in the few weeks before and after an appointment, my at-home dental routine right now is about the same as it was then -- and has been for as long as I can remember. It's admittedly not great, but it is what it is.

And, yet, improvement in the past year... since I drastically changed my diet. Now, I have not been even close to perfect in the past few months -- summertime, a wedding, a kid back to college, another one overseas, a baby to plan for, travel -- but apparently I've been good enough. Still the thing I'm most consistent about (despite the delicious Everything bagel w/cream cheese that I had today after yoga) is the near total avoidance of grain and, next to that, dairy.

In case you were wondering, because I haven't blogged about it much lately, I am still a believer and still lovin' the path I'm on. And really looking forward to this book (pre-ordered!) landing in my mailbox in the next couple of weeks:

It's fall... I feel more inclined to spend time in the kitchen and cook again! Though it's an absolutely gorgeous October day today (still no hard frost here) and I'm going to go enjoy the rest of it (and my day off).


Aspire to inspire...

...before you expire.

That phrase was on a reader board at a church between my house and Mom's, so I read it at least once a day for about a month!

Sometimes those things stick.

I ran across this photo last week. It was taken last July just before Annie moved to Brazil.

I immediately thought of the photos I'd taken of Karen and me a couple of weeks ago...

What a difference a year makes!! I think we've lost the equivalent of a 6th grader between us! Inspiring? I think so. It inspires me -- we inspire each other -- to keep going!

So, I've done pretty well, considering all of the hoopla so far this summer -- a big wedding, 4th of July, Annie & her family visiting from afar. I haven't weighed myself in weeks, but feel little difference in my clothes so am confident that overall I'm holding pretty steady. I did start to feel a little icky around the 4th of July, and noticed that my ankles and feet were swelling again -- it felt awful, and it was a big reminder of where I'd been and how far I've come, and I sure don't want to go back!!

I want to keep wearing my cute shoes!!  :)

I really haven't strayed too far from the principles that helped me get here -- which says a lot, actually, about how this style of eating is definitely for me! But there is definitely room for improvement, so it's time to crack the books and get firmly back on track, back to basics. I'll be doing another Whole30 (as close as I get, anyway) in August. It's a great time to do it, with all of the fresh local produce* coming on strong, and perhaps I'll focus on exploring more sauces and things this time.

In addition to the excellent resources linked above, there's always something on sale (or even free) for your Kindle/app on Amazon.

*I plucked the first ripe cherry tomatoes from my own patio garden this morning!


Fruits & veggies (w/shrimp)

Orangelo, a knitted baby bib.

  • Project: Orangelo Bib by Norah Gaughan (free pattern at Berroco), smallest size
  • Yarn: Lion Brand's "Martha Stewart Crafts" Cotton Hemp in "Clementine" -- yarn held double throughout
  • Needle: US 10.5
  • Start to Finish: December 17-19, 2012

Obviously, I finished this months ago! It was a fun little project -- a quick knit, perfect for last-minute gift-giving. I was afraid I'd run out of yarn, but had some left over and may have been able to do the larger size. I love this color.

* * * * *

Wanted to share this amazingly simple and delicious recipe that I made a while back, especially now that it's spring... otherwise known as Fresh Asparagus Season! I pick up an extra bag or two or three of frozen (uncooked, shell-on) shrimp when they're on sale at the store and it's so nice to have them in the freezer. I almost think of shrimp as "fast," because they thaw fairly quickly and actually make a good last-minute option, you know, for when I'm not thinking ahead.


Preheat oven to 425F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash and trim asparagus, arrange on half of the paper-lined baking sheet.

Peel and devein the shrimp, if necessary. The shell-on shrimp I most often buy have the shells on but are already deveined, so the shells are already cut and very easy to remove.

Drizzle all with 2-3 T. oil -- coconut or olive, your choice.

Season with salt and pepper, some other herbs if you're in the mood.

Lightly stir or shake the pan a bit so that everything is fairly evenly distributed. Pop into the oven for 20# or until done. The shrimp will be opaque, the asparagus roasted and tender.

Oh, so yummy!

It's quite possibly what's for dinner.


Let's run some numbers

I had my more-or-less annual check-up at the doc's office last week. It was the glucose result on the lipid profile from last year's exam that started me to look at and think about my diet from a different perspective... traditional dietary guidelines were just.not.working.

So, let's compare, shall we? My highest-ever weight was recorded in early March of last year and I've officially (on the doctor's scale) lost 44 pounds since then (most of that in the last 7 months).

My glucose was "high" last March; a 6-month check was ordered and by October it had gone down, though I was sort of bummed then that it wasn't a more dramatic reduction. I was looking forward to last week's result and, though I know I am healthier and feel better than I have in years, I was a little disappointed again that it had only gone down one more point. My doc talked about that stupid prediabetes class again. I'm sure it's not stupid at all... perhaps very helpful for some... but I just don't wanna.

Glucose:  106 - March 2012
Glucose:  103 - October 2012
Glucose:  102 - April 2013

Honestly, I think I just don't like my doc so much. She's nice enough and was genuinely happy when I pointed out that I'd lost 44 pounds in the past year... but I had to point it out. Bleh. I realize that this is only the second time we've met and she was ready to give birth the first time but, ya know, maybe take a peek at the chart as you walk through the door, just a quick check of the vitals. Then I get mad that it seems like I have to change doctors every time I change insurance because the cost is constantly rising and my wage is not, and then I just get pissed off about everything, so let's get back to those numbers and the parts that I like!

My cholesterol is high -- higher than it's ever been! Total cholesterol and LDL have both jumped, but I eat a fair amount of high-fat foods, though, so that's neither surprising nor alarming. It's all context. HDL (the good) has taken a giant leap, triglycerides and VLDL are low, as is the cholesterol/HDL ratio. Including numbers from my first-ever panel in 1999 (because they were on the report!) (I was 40).

Standard:  Cholesterol <200, LDL <100, HDL >39, Triglyceride <150, Ratio <4.5.

Cholesterol:  194 - May 1999
Cholesterol:  216 - March 2012
Cholesterol:  245 - April 2013

LDL:  119 - May 1999
LDL:  131 - March 2012
LDL:  140 - April 2013

HDL:  63 - May 1999
HDL:  68 - March 2012
HDL:  91 - April 2013

Triglyceride:  58 - May 1999
Triglyceride:  83 - March 2012
Triglyceride:  72 - April 2013

VLDL:  12 - May 1999
VLDL:  17 - March 2012
VLDL:  14 - April 2013

Chol/HDL Ratio:  3.1 - May 1999
Chol/HDL Ratio:  3.2 - March 2012
Chol/HDL Ratio:  2.7 - April 2013

BMI:  35.94 - March 2012
BMI:  28.76 - April 2013

Giant leaps. And in other news, my follow-up mammogram was fine and I'm back on an annual schedule, and nothing unusual was found in the ultrasound about which I wasn't worried but am quite relieved.

Next up (don't yell): Colonoscopy. I haven't had one yet.

My stepdad buried his eldest son yesterday. Joey was 45 and his dad asked that we all be more diligent in getting those regular, early diagnostic tests done.

* * * * *

On a lighter note, I'm so happy I upgraded my phone in December so I could start using Instagram! And also, dual-view camera again! I noticed a lot of selfies as I flipped through photo files in Brazil and had to laugh! I've continued to take a few here and there. Also, have posted an Instagram photo every day this year, so far, except for two. Not bad.

1. I was in my swimming suit all day today. I don't think that's happened since I was 9. #riodejaneiro #brazil #beachbum, 2. Way up high. Pao de Acucar. #brazil #day3 #haveimentionedthatthisissimplyamazing, 3. Nice way to spend a morning. #sao conrado #rio, 4. With the boys at Escada de Selaron. #amazingriodejaneiro #selaronsadness, 5. Let's spice things up., 6. I *am* sorry about my neck, but hello collarbones! I didn't think we'd ever see each other again., 7. You're not the only one, @january_one! After a visit to the salon today, I feel pretty, too! #magic, 8. Low Tide., 9. Good LavAzza Morning with @lovenotwarhol. Mmm, Caffe Americano., 10. Favorite double-duty knitted object... both blanket and shawl. #constantwintercompanion #iwillmissit #readyforspring, 11. Outside and not needing to be zipped up all the way. It could be spring is coming. #smallpleasures, 12. How low can she go? Lowest weight in 8 years... skinny jeans & boots (cold snowy ick outside today). So happy.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Another "rainy day" in Rio

This morning's photo:

Two sleeps to Rio -- one in my own bed, one on an aeroplane -- and then I'll be sleeping pool-side, behind the two doors on the right!

The airline just called to tell me that it's time to check in online!

Of course I've known that English isn't spoken much in Brazil, but I realized yesterday that I've actually never been to a non-English speaking country before -- not even Mexico. That prompted me to make doubly sure that I have contact info and back-up contact info, and a Plan C!

I have LOTS to do! I continue to update my lists and reminders, striving to streamline everything, but even so I may start bouncing off the walls soon!

* * * * *

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Tips for Sticking With Your Fitness Routine

1. I don't have 10 tips for this.

2. I don't even have one.

3. Fitness routine?

4. It's the missing component.

5. I've been very satisfied with the results that have occurred in my body over the past 4-5 months by just changing how and what I eat.

6. Last Saturday I was back down to pre-Christmas weight and then some, marking my lowest weight so far on this journey.

7. There's been a lot happening in my life and the lives of people around me, so I'm quite happy right now to limit my focus to the food aspect.

8. I have a gym membership and I know how to use it.

9. I just haven't used it in quite some time.

10. I'm looking forward to spring and hopping back on my bike -- the 30+ pounds I've lost will make that even more fun, I think!


New favorite, and this is what I'm talking about!

I recently pinned a recipe for Pommes Anna to my Yummy - Paleo Pinterest board and couldn't wait to try them, especially since I had quite a few sweet potatoes on-hand.

I have probably thought more often, with fondness and longing, of regular old potatoes -- good old Russets, Idahos, and Reds -- than I have of bread or pasta since embarking on this journey, and I would definitely miss them more if it wasn't for sweet potatoes, parsnips, and riced or mashed cauliflower. Potatoes -- mashed, smashed, roasted, baked, boiled, sliced, scalloped, diced, fried -- oh, my, is there any way that they aren't just plain old delicious? -- have long been a favorite of mine.

Pommes Anna can be made with any type of potato, so I made it with sweet. Oh, and hello, I have a new favorite! Terrible photographs do no justice at all, but are nonetheless shared herewith.

Into the oven they go. I used 3 medium-ish sweet potatoes and probably should have used 5.

Just out of the oven, the potatoes are somewhat compressed, but a few more layers would have been better. I'll know better next time.

Turned out on the cutting board, I'm pretty sure I squealed with delight. One of my favorite things is the crispy, charred, almost burned-y bits -- on just about anything that's baked, toasted, or grilled -- and this is perfect to my eye.

My taste buds agreed!

It couldn't be more simple: Potatoes, Butter, Salt, Pepper. It needs attention in the oven, but not much and the reward is worth it!

I'm thankful to Jan @ Jan's Sushi Bar and her tips about this dish. I have only just discovered her blog, but it looks to be a great resource and inspiration for Whole30, Paleo, low-carb recipes.

It'll be a low-key ringing in of the new year in these parts. My sisters and brother will all be stopping by for a while, as will my mom and her husband (I think), and my kids and nephews. It'll be raucous for a while, no doubt, but I know more than a few of my guests wouldn't mind being tucked in and snoring by 10:00.

Happy New Year!

What's working, what's not

Well, it's "the holidays" and, considering that it's the holidays, I think I'm doing okay. My weight has fluctuated a bit but given the added imbibing and indulgences, I am very okay with that; last Saturday I finally hit 30 pounds lost.

Thirty pounds! That translates to something like over 100 pounds of pressure taken off of my knees (and, I suppose), ankles, and toes.

My back is finally feeling better. I was beginning to wonder if I had a kidney stone. Oh! You want to know what my sweet daughter said? She told me that my sore back could have been my body adjusting to the weight loss -- Whoa!! Isn't that the sweetest thing?

So, what's working? I've been trying to use my Yummy - Paleo Pinterest board more, especially for things I find online. The stellar Bacon-Wrapped Smoky Chicken Thighs and Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potatoes that I made at Thanksgiving are both there. They both made encore appearances at Christmas and were devoured! I've recently pinned, made, and loved Balsamic-Glazed Drumsticks and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Vinaigrette (once with added carrots) -- balsamic vinegar obviously being my new best friend! The brussels sprouts also were requested at the Christmas table, also, and I was happy to oblige.

And I've finally made cauliflower "rice." I'm SO happy that I found this video... OMG, so fast & easy! It takes longer to get the equipment out than it does to chop and "rice." (I have an old Osterizer commercial blender, so that's what I used and it worked great!)

(And isn't that funny? I have a Big Red Kitchen, too!)

I usually rice a whole head at a time. Sometimes I cook it all up (in batches) and store the leftovers that way, but I've also stored the extra uncooked. It's super fast to prepare, either by sauteeing or just throwing it in a pot with some butter. Most important of all, it was very well-liked by all -- including Rusty, never a huge fan of cauliflower and an almost daily consumer of real (brown) rice!

I've roasted cauliflower (and broccoli - sometimes together), too, and it is SO yum. I have been winning people over with the roasting, especially when I do it with my new best friend (balsamic vinegar), and even the previously detested brussels sprout has been declared "delicious."

I'm still motivated and eager to try new things.

What's not working? OMG, the sugar!! It's hard to avoid right now, and I've indulged, but waking in the middle of the night with horrible heartburn tells me how much I've OVER-indulged -- as do some other "systems" conditions. This all serves to remind me how far I've come and just how much better I feel overall! I won't have time for a Whole30 before leaving for Brazil, but a Whole15 is looking pretty good!!

Also not working are some overly involved "weeknight" meals I've prepared. One of the things I like best about "paleo" is rediscovering how delicious and satisfying a simply prepared meal can be -- season, roast, steam, saute, or bake, sometimes serve with a simple sauce or glaze. I enjoy putting together an elaborate meal occasionally, but definitely not the norm.

Just for the record, it was a mid-afternoon Christmas Day meal this year at my house:

  • HoneyBaked Ham (Mom)
  • Rolls (Mom)
  • Pecan-Crusted Sweet Potatoes (minus dairy components)
  • Steamed Green Beans
  • Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Cauliflower Rice
  • Tortilla Wraps (Katie)
  • Gluten-free Bread w/Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar (Ali)
  • Apple Pie with Rice Flour Crust (Rusty)
  • Everyday Paleo Pumpkin Pie w/fresh whipped cream

And before I even knew it, Annie had the kitchen all cleaned up! That works!!


Party season begins!


I had a lunch-time date with some of the fam yesterday!

I didn't even realize, until someone else pointed it out, that it was with all the redheads! Rusty joined us for a while, too! He's never really been what you'd call a redhead, but his mother saw something to give him a nickname like that -- and one that's stuck hard for 60+ years!

I wore my boots, which meant that I wore leggings/tights, which means that I wore a dress -- one that I wore a few times to the farmers' market last summer and usually with a tie or belt. Just for grins, I thought I'd try the belt yesterday and it was about 3"-4" too big! I think I could have it made smaller -- the design is such that I can't do it myself -- but it might cost more to fix than I even paid. We'll see. Anyway, YAY!

It seemed like a good time to order a new swimming suit. It's one from Tommy Bahama's that I tried on in Chicago a few weeks ago and loved. I ordered the smaller of the two sizes I tried on that day. And then I spent a very enjoyable :20 or so last night trying on some of the other clothes in my closet -- an activity that doesn't usually have anything to do with "joy." I'm thinking I should be able to find a pair or two of shorts that fit, and then I'll be set for my tropical vacation.

I'm pondering a few sessions in a tanning bed. I don't know... I haven't done that in about a million years and my experience wasn't that great. I'm sure technology has changed since then. Is it safe? Other than that super-tan whack job that was in the news last year, I've been out of the loop. Maybe I can just be careful? Diligent with the sunscreen? I do live near The Frozen Tundra, but it hasn't been that long since I've seen the sun. I do burn sometimes, but not like the redheads. What would you do?


Thanksgiving II

It's 3:00 a.m. I'm up to put a couple of turkey breasts into the slow cooker, sprinkle them with seasoning, and turn it on. Please, let me remember to turn it on. I'm actually writing this at midnight to automatically post at 3:00 a.m. and we can only hope that I really am up and doing those things.

Today's menu:

I was thinking of a Squash & Sweet Potato Bake or Baked Sweet Potato Chips, but I'll save all that for another time. We're not going to need any more!


Makin' do

Thanksgiving kicked off this most unusual of holiday seasons for our family, and we did our best to make it our own.

Yesterday, Mom and I began the day with yoga. She'd never done yoga before, and it's been years since I've practiced, but we did great. You'd never have known that Mom didn't know her Shavasana from her Sha-Na-Na, and I was surprised at how quickly it all came back to me! I didn't even mind Downward Dog as much as I used to (that probably has everything to do with my improved physical condition and health). It was the perfect start to the day. Aligned. Calm. Om.

I was in the zone when I got home, cleaning, prepping, baking, playing a few rounds of Bananagrams with the girls. Katie helped by putting together a batch of autumn sangria with apples and cranberries.

Yesterday was the first of two all-out Thanksgiving meals I'll be preparing this year and I didn't want turkey for both. I kept it in the family by making chicken thighs -- specifically, Bacon-Wrapped Smoky Chicken Thighs (a recipe from Practical Paleo). Hello. They were absolutely delicious! I didn't have enough bacon for all the thighs (16 in all), so I left the skin on some (it's good that I overlooked the "skinless" part when I was shopping). I'd planned for a few to be left over, and so I'm very happy to have a couple of them in my lunch today.

I served simple mashed sweet potatoes (peeled, cut, boiled, mashed with a little coconut milk, butter, salt and pepper), steamed asparagus, and corn (bought/froze from the farmer's market) to accompany the chicken.

For dessert, I made Everyday Paleo Pumpkin Pie (scroll down) from Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook. I think I overbaked the crust just a touch, and forgot to add the honey to the filling mixture until after I'd poured it into the crust -- I probably didn't add as much as I should have (didn't measure) and stirred it in as best I could. Ha. It turned out fine. Ali brought whipping cream... everything's better with whipping cream.

Ali also brought some homemade Brussels cookies (shaped like Milanos) and they were fabulous!

I'm really happy that I was able to prepare and eat a terrific meal, that everyone fully enjoyed, and that was still very much within my guidelines. It's a holiday! I'm so okay with a little whipped cream and a couple of homemade cookies!!

* * * * *

A note about ingredients and their cost, the cost of eating "this way." The main "guidelines" stress any/all of the following when it comes to choosing ingredients: fresh, real, organic, pastured, grass-fed, etc. Some of those descriptors can add up to BIG BUCK$ right quick. A resource I forgot to mention the other day is this:

The Kindle version is $2.99, or Prime members can borrow it for free. Basically, DO THE BEST YOU CAN. You know? I certainly can't afford to buy everything that way all of the time, so I pick and choose and make compromises -- I do the best I can. Yesterday, our chicken was plain old chicken from the grocery store -- it was the best I could do -- but I'd splurged a while back on some really great bacon, and I'm so glad I did. It was *so* worth it for a meal like this. Our asparagus, too, was right from the regular produce department at the store; the sweet potatoes were some I had that were locally grown and organic; the corn was fresh/frozen last summer from a local farmer. I tried to make my own pumpkin puree for the pie but I wasn't happy with it, so I got out the can opener and Libby's came to to the rescue. Not organic. I can live with that. It was still delicious.

And, really, the main thing IS to choose ingredients. I always think to myself when I buy something that's not *perfect*, "Well, at least it's not Hamburger/Chicken/Tuna Helper." That's one of my benchmarks, though probably not even the worst example, of the processed type of "food" that I'm trying to avoid.

Okay, climbing down from the soap box. Again!

* * * * *

We cleared the table after the wonderful hubbub of dinner and, as I put away leftovers, Maddy took over the kitchen clean up! She had later plans with friends, so declined our invitation to go see Lincoln (loved it -- so many amazing performances!) and was still humming along with a sink full of suds when we left, which meant that I came home to a completely cleaned up kitchen after the movie!

Thanksgiving, indeed.


Minus 27 and counting - helps and resources

So, with a bit of traveling and my birthday, I sort of lost track of where I was and then I became confused about where I began, but there's never been a question about where I'm going.

Down, down, down! Charting my Weight Watchers progress, 1988-89.

I normally run upstairs on Saturday mornings for my weekly weigh-in on Katie's scale (because I don't have one of my own). While in the Bay Area the weekend before my birthday, there wasn't a scale in the guest room bath where we were staying, but I discovered one on Sunday morning in a different bath. I'd already eaten breakfast, but I weighed in, anyway, and then I made a note in Evernote.

I was too busy last week to stop, find/remember my benchmark, and figure it all out, but I ran upstairs to Kate's for my weigh-in and updated my note in Evernote.

It has taken me a long time to get on the Evernote bandwagon. I wonder how I ever got along without it. I have it on my home PC, Android phone, and Kindle Fire -- it is with me everywhere! I recently took a phone pic of a clipped recipe that Mom wanted to share and saved it to Evernote -- no paper to lose, it's there when I need it (grocery store). I've saved recipes from websites, as well as keep general lists for groceries, other shopping, things to do/pack/see/remember -- like quickly jotting down my weight so I won't forget -- all in one place that I can access from anywhere! Update a note on one device and it syncs and updates on all. I love it! And I do believe I am saving trees; I don't put pencil to paper quite as often.

Likewise my Kindle Fire.

I'm sure it's because I've purchased the electronic version of so many of the books/cookbooks I've been using most, but I've been printing out far fewer paper recipes and using my Kindle in the kitchen a lot more. The trouble with paper recipes is that I probably have 14 copies each of Vicki's Roasted Tomato Sauce, Chili All Day and Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes, but I can never FIND one when I want it and end up printing out another. I am careful to keep the Kindle safe from spills; it does get a little smudged at times, but it cleans up well (I don't even have a special screen protector -- that gorilla glass, or whatever they call it, is amazing). I've also used the "Send to Kindle" feature to upload documents (recipes, knitting patterns) from my PC and so I've been doing that more, too.

Anyway, until that weekend in the Bay Area, I'd recorded a loss every single week since I began keeping track around mid-August. I had never lost weight so consistently before in my entire life -- and I really should make a current graph! That week (on a different scale and after eating breakfast) I was up 0.2. The following week -- BUSY! -- I was down 0.4. This week, with a better grip on things again, I am down 2.2 -- for a total loss of 27 pounds in three months.

I am definitely OK with that! That period around my birthday was crazy -- and, plus, it was my birthday! Yes, I had potatoes with my sand dabs at Alioto's. Yes, I had dessert(s) there and at Ici and a couple of other treats! Yes, I had wild mushroom risotto with my scallops at Mom's birthday dinner treat! I made the best choices and did the best I could, compromising along the way, given whatever the circumstance -- I didn't eat all of the potatoes or risotto, I (sometimes) shared dessert.

I didn't always share dessert!

Those indulgences were completely justified and worth it, in my book; on the other hand, I had complete success in avoiding the leftover Halloween candy having determined that it was NOT worth it (ditto the large candy bowl at work -- I don't even look at it anymore, it's practically dead to me. heh).

Eating out isn't always easy, but at most restaurants (save fast-food chains, which I haven't frequented in years, anyway), there is usually SOMETHING on the menu. The other day, at Field to Fork, I had a California burger and asked them to hold the bun -- most places are perfectly willing to do something like that, and no one's wasting food. I carefully read the description of salads, sometimes asking for thing to be omitted and always asking for dressing on the side -- I use a tiny fraction of the amount usually used. I really stop and think about what's offered, and make informed choices and compromises when ordering.

Planning is key at home and at work. It's especially important on weekends and my days off... as I'm sitting here at 10 a.m. and still haven't had breakfast... damn it, I'm going to fix that right now.

* * * * *

That's better. Days off and weekends usually have far less structure and I end up getting caught up in things -- dyeing, cleaning, knitting, blogging, emails, Facebook, Pinterest -- and sometimes 2:00 rolls around and all I've had is coffee. Not good!

Now, with more travel on the horizon, Thanksgiving bearing down, and the holidays around the corner, planning is more important than ever!

When I cook, which I've been doing a lot, I always try to plan for leftovers -- even for breakfast. I'll admit to possibly relying on eggs for breakfast (quick & easy!) too often, but salmon cakes are also quick & easy and I don't mind them cold. (I'm usually in a rush for breakfast on weekdays.) I never, ever, ever leave work for lunch so I'm used to packing a lunch, but in the past I'd often stock the freezer with frozen entrees for an easy out. Now, my lunch "entree" is made as dinner is cleaned up -- making my own grab & go! Sometimes, though, there's just nothin', so I keep a store of canned sardines for those days. I think I've eaten more sardines in the past three months than I have in the past 50 years. I've had my share back in the day, though, as I remember more than one picnic lunch of sardines + yellow mustard on white bread a la my dad.

Here's the thing. I've been eating this way for three months and I'm not sick of it! I'm thrilled with the results -- weight loss among them, but SO much more -- and I'm not done yet! I know that there are a million other options -- for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner -- I just haven't fully explored them all. I have all these cookbooks & recipes on my Kindle, in Evernote, bookmarked on websites and blogs, and boards on Pinterest with recipes and ideas that I've yet to try! I haven't made a single thing that I didn't like and I'm excited about making more -- there's still so much to explore!

So here are some of my favorite things:

  • Whole30. I signed up for the Whole30 Daily before I really even committed. It was part of my "practicing," testing the waters; it was also quite motivating. There are a lot of free resources on the site, including some very helpful downloads.
  • The book -- a LOT of information with science, resources, and some recipes. No-Fuss Salmon Cakes is one of my stand-bys -- have also experimented with it, using both salmon and sweet potato that I've prepared instead of using canned. This is the first book I purchased on the subject and I think of it as the bible.

  • The second book I purchased was recommended by Janine, and I actually was able first to borrow it on my Kindle Fire (with Amazon Prime). LOVE THAT. Chock FULL of recipes. We devour The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat every time. That link also takes you to the author's site, The Clothes Make The Girl, where you might learn that she is working on Well Fed 2!

  • Another cookbook that I love is Practical Paleo. Not all of the recipes in this book are Whole30 compliant, but I don't intend to avoid all grain, all dairy, and all sugar for all time. I will certainly be limiting those things for the rest of my life -- and choosing wisely -- but I have made numerous tasty recipes in this book. I also love the meal plans, which make considerable use of leftovers. It's a winner.

  • I have just downloaded a sample of the Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook, having quickly thumbed through a friend's copy the other day. This one may soon be permanently added to "the shelf."

  • Another book I've been using a lot, and that I love for it's planned use of leftovers, is Weeknight Paleo. Very well organized -- by week, with shopping lists, helpful hints and resources -- and with great photography, it's high priced compared to the others, but the electronic version (which I have) (available here - scroll down) is a little easier to take. I made the Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork the other day and it is AMAZING! The website is Paleo Savvy.

  • Chowstalker. A great resource for recipes, all contributed by and linked to food blogs.
  • Pinterest. I have begun a Yummy - Paleo board. You can find all of my boards here (I haven't made use of the "secret" board yet, have you?).
  • Oh, I forgot, also Wheat Belly! It's not strictly "Paleo" or Whole30, either, but is quite informative. Not a ton of recipes, but I recently made Pecan-Encrusted Chicken with Tapenade and it was amazing!

Well, that's pretty much what I've been using so far on this journey. One of the things I did when I began making changes to the way I ate was to simply remove temptation. It's amazing how limiting the assault helps resolve and willpower get stronger and stronger! As do results! When I stopped to pay attention, I was amazed at how many food-related pages were in my Facebook feed -- and they weren't very good ones! I either "unliked" or hid them as they popped up, and eventually replaced them with more relevant feeds. Most of the websites linked, above, have Facebook feeds, and there's quite a community out there.

This is a LONG post, congrats to you if you've made it to the end! If you have, I have no choice but to assume that you have made, or are interested in making, similar changes! I wasn't really intending to do this, but leave a comment. Talk to me! And at noon CST on Thanksgiving Day, I'll choose one at random to receive an Amazon gift card -- so you can maybe try one of those books for yourself. Or something else!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am paid a percentage of any purchases made through following an Amazon link.


It may start with food...

*sigh* ...but it doesn't end there.

My doc wanted me to have a 6-mo follow-up glucose test and mammogram, and those happened yesterday. I wanted to do them both in one visit, so was up super early on my day off to make it happen!

Blood was drawn by 7 a.m. and I had an email around 8:00 alerting me that the results had been posted. I love that!!

What I didn't love were the results.

Now, in my personal, very humble and utterly non-medical opinion, my initial reading of 106, while technically in the prediabetes range, was not too far off the mark (the high end of "normal" being 100, the point of no return 126). I didn't think there was cause for freaking out, but I did start to watch what I ate -- at least be aware -- and, particularly, to be more aware of the hidden sugars in the foods I ate.

Eventually, as established, I implemented a huge change in my diet a couple of months ago wherein sugar, dairy, and all grains were banished... except for that drip of half & half and few grains of sugar in my coffee every morning, and a few sweet treats when we were on vacation. I also buy and cook "real," "whole" food and rarely buy anything processed. The only cans I've opened are sardines, salmon, olives, and artichoke hearts.

It may seem extreme to some, but I feel that I am thriving. I feel great and it's actually super easy -- I can just ignore about 90% of the grocery store every time I walk in. I've been making more use of a local food business that specializes in "local" -- I place an order for eggs, meats (everything from free-range chickens to elk and bison, to uncured bacon), seasonal produce, butter and pick it up a few days later. Phenomenal and I hope they grow and grow!

Anyway, I have seen some amazing changes in my body -- some big, some small, all huge:

  • Elimination of chronic edema. It was most visible in my ankles and feet, but I'm sure it was all over. Seeing my ankles again, day after day after day, after so long -- and pretty much thinking that I never would -- is just thrilling. Being able to wear my rings is wonderful.
  • Increased flexibility.
  • Fewer carpal tunnel problems.
  • Weight loss -- 19+ pounds, so far; though as I checked my medical record today, I see that the highest weight recorded at the doc's office 6 months ago was 8 pounds higher than my current benchmark... so, we could maybe even say 28 pounds lost in the last 6 months! Couldn't we?
  • SAY WHAT???
  • Watching the visceral fat disappear. My friend and coworker told me the other day that it seemed as if I was melting... it's not quite like that, but sort of! My bowl-full-of-jelly belly is still there, but it is definitely smaller; and the fat deposits on my upper arms that sort of bugged me are finally disappearing, the dreaded back rolls are going down.
  • I wake up in the morning and I just feel more lean; literally, like it does sometimes disappear overnight. I put my hands on my hips, on my leg, touch my face -- and I *feel* different. So good.
  • Improvements in my skin. Not just on my face, either. I've had chronic problems with dryness and scaling on my feet, probably even some form of athlete's foot, and I just noticed (now that it's sock weather and I "see" them more often) that my feet feel much smoother -- like, wow, are those mine?

I was looking forward to yesterday's re-test, fully expecting the results to be stellar -- gold-star worthy -- and so was pretty disappointed in 103. I don't know if the call from the nurse later in the day to follow-up was truly sanctimonious, or if that was just me... Whatever.

If there'd been chips in the house, I'd have eaten them... maybe. There's chocolate, and I unwrapped it, stared at a square of it for a few minutes, and then put it back. I've done better than ever so far this month, and just couldn't blow it -- not in anger and frustration. When I indulge in chocolate again, it's going to be for a good reason and I will enjoy it!

That, right there, says a lot about where I am and how far I've come.

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And, as I've been told, a reduction is a reduction. I've just got to keep at it... and now that the food part is getting easier, it's time to ramp up the physical activity.

Also, the results of the follow-up mammo were in my email box this morning and it's all good! There have been no changes and, well, yay!

* * * * *

FYI: We're coming alarmingly close to the 20,000th comment on this little blog! There'll likely be fireworks... or at least prizes.

To the end of the trail, no moose

After breakfast and some in-town doings on Wednesday morning, we drove up the Gunflint Trail. We went right to the very end -- Trail's End Cafe -- and being the end of the season, it was also slim pickin's on the menu but we shared a small celebratory dish of ice cream.

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It was a beautiful drive. We meandered a bit, stopping here and there to take in the view or go for a short hike. I still haven't resolved how I feel about the scenic overlook created in the '60s (as so many of them were) that was now completely obscured by a wall of evergreen trees; it was a killer view back in the day, but now there's nothing!

We could not resist stopping when I saw the "Moose Viewing Trail" sign, though I knew, advertised as such, there wasn't likely to be a moose within 100 miles! Still, we hiked to the "viewing platform," spotting first an amazing old Cadillac, slowly being reclaimed by the forest, and then our reward.

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Many many dated carvings on the platform railings from those who visited before us. Our favorite:

No moose but we saw Elvis and Bigfoot. 10-18-10. Steve & Sue.
The Loch Ness Monster just popped up!

There was laughing in the woods!!

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Looks like rain! It looked much worse than it was -- where we were, anyway -- we saw some fabulous clouds at the back end of a little thunderstorm that just missed us.

Let's talk about food a minute.

As of last Saturday I have lost 16 pounds (in approx. 8 weeks) by following "all-but" Whole30 guidelines (in a nutshell: real food; no sugar, no dairy, no grain). As you might imagine, being on vacation presented some challenges. Mainly, unless you're at a very fine dining establishment, you're not likely to find fresh vegetables on the menu, except for salads (and be sure to read the fine print -- man, they love to load those things up with other stuff).

We brought along a small cooler stocked with pb&j makings for Rusty, some lasagna leftovers (wheat & dairy, I know...), sardines, some fresh peaches and avocados, and we had picnic lunches on the road. We bought a huge bag of Cortland apples at an orchard in Bayfield.

Restaurants were a challenge, and not just in the vegetable department. Our B&B continental breakfast was all bakery/grain -- croissants, muffins, oatmeal, cobbler -- yummy, but all no-nos; I ended up with a little bit of fruit and a side order of bacon. I ordered things like "bacon-cheeseburger -- hold the cheese and the bun!" I found a salmon patty on the menu at one place, which was nice. Fresh fruit or cole slaw was better than fries, so I'd try to order that. I did the best I could and was most successful in avoiding grain -- except for the lasagna noodles and the pizza with wild rice on our last night in Grand Marais.

You know, there are things we grow up with and it's all we know so we just think that must be all there is... like herring. I only ever knew about "pickled herring" and have never seen it at a store any other way -- and never gave it a thought! Not so, people. Pan-fried herring was on the menu at a restaurant we'd visited and I gave it a brief thought (before ordering the salmon patty)... but we found it offered fresh at a local fish market, so we had to try it! It's caught by local fishermen right in Lake Superior, and we brought home a fillet for each of us -- along with salmon, which we knew we liked! We seasoned and fried them in a little butter -- no breading or anything (it's my favorite way to make whitefish these days). Herring has a rich flavor and I liked it. We had a little of the salmon left for Thursday.

(Also, sardines. I've become aware that people eat fresh sardines -- that they aren't born in a can! I'd like to try fresh sardines someday, too.)

I was on vacation, after all, and didn't want to feel deprived, so I had to allow myself some treats and I tried to choose carefully: half a muffin, a bit of chocolate, even an entire piece of flourless chocolate cake (which I demolished quite easily, thank you!), pizza, an ice cream sundae, a local beer, some wine. I think I did very well, considering, and have no regrets.

The last part of our time away proved the most challenging, or maybe I was weary of trying to navigate the dietary vacation waters... or just weak! While there was a great co-op on one side of our hotel, on the other was the "World's Greatest Donuts" shop! Thankfully, it was closed most of the time, but I stumbled through the open door on our last day and, while I intended to just get a plain yummy donut, somehow I ended up with one covered in chocolate!! Ha, I'm not perfect! Then my sister had our old stand-by family favorite CHEESE SOUP on the menu at her house. Yeah, we're gonna need a new family favorite!

More tomorrow... with KNITTING!


I used to marvel at myself in the mirror

Updated with a few links... see below.

Not in a good way.

I used to (not very often) stand in front of the mirror at the end of the day -- or even in the morning, as I stepped into the shower -- and wonder how in the hell I could look 9 months pregnant.

Sure, I'm getting older...

Sure, I gained some weight when I quit smoking...

Sure, I could exercise more...

Sure, I could probably eat better...

But, damn it all, anyway. I stopped drinking soda; I was drinking more water; I was riding for miles on my bike, or sweating buckets at Zumba or in the gym; I was eating less red meat; I was eating more fish; I cut down on junk food; I had freakin' salads for lunch everyday with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar for dressing, lean meats, Lean Cuisine, lots of veggies. All of these things over the past few years -- together, separate, to varying degrees. Nothing made any sort of difference at all!


And that was without even trying. Hell, if I tried, I could look like I was way over term.

Not a good look. Also? Uncomfortable. And? Unhealthy! The numbers were not good at my last doctor appointment and, well, I'll try just about anything OTHER than medication to control some of these things... many of which are completely in my control.

I'm not interested in dieting -- I will have none of the low-cal, low-fat slurries of chemicals that pass for "meal replacement." Sure, I've had a few; but even way back in my WW days, I also used "real" mayonnaise, salad dressings, butter -- I'd just use less. You'd be surprised how much less you need when you're actually eating and enjoying REAL FOOD.

Anyway, long story short -- and I have not quite finished the story (actually, I think the story is ongoing and won't end until I'm dead), and I have SO much more to learn -- I am taking control.

I may not grow much of my own food, but I can support my local farmer as much as I can, and know the people who do grow my food! I can minimize potentially harmful additives and ingredients in my food by buying the best ingredients -- REAL FOOD -- that I can and preparing it myself. From scratch. It doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be "cuisine" every night.

I am loathe to find the REAL FOOD at my grocery store crowded out, more and more, by yet another freezer full of heat & serve shit. And, ohmygod, have you been in the "health food" aisle? What a freakin' joke. It's chock full of "healthy" s-h-i-t -- crackers, cookies, fruit roll-ups, brownie mixes. Seriously?

(Ooopsie, am I on a soap box? I don't mean to be... I'm just sharing what's happening here.)

So, it's been maybe three weeks and not to the letter.

I've lost close to 10 pounds, at last check. I consider that all junk weight.

Heh, it's a BABY! (Believe me, there is plenty of weight to lose, but I don't look 9 months pregnant anymore... far less.)

Things are changing, and more important is how I feel.

I've already talked about the reduction in swelling; the ability to wear a previously unwearable (but much loved) pair of sandals!

It is system-wide... I don't feel too-full or bloated all the time. I feel as though I may even be able to start comfortably wearing my rings again.

I've already put a pair of pants in the donation pile and pulled another from "the pile" in the closet; I'm just about ready to part with another favorite pair (I've been wearing a belt!) and go closet shopping again!

It must be the near elimination of sugar that's making me sense things differently. I walked into the house the other night and thought it smelled "good" -- as if someone had baked some cookies or a cake. Turns out that Maddy baked a pizza! It smelled so sweet -- not like pizza AT ALL!

And flexibility. Since cutting most sugar, grain & dairy from my diet, I am more flexible -- with ease and without pain. I won't be doing the splits again anytime soon, but I was pleasantly surprised at being able to easily reach (and scratch) between my own shoulder blades again.

Yes, folks, it's the little things. And little by little...

Suggested reading:

That last one just because.  ;)

Let's get real

It Starts With Food.

It really does.

I am slightly short of doing the Whole30, at this point, but I am practicing for it. I think of it as prepping, in the same way that I prepped to quit smoking 7+ years ago. You know? I'd set a quit date and thought I'd just smoke like a chimney right up to the last minute, but I didn't. As I prepared to quit (figured out my main triggers and how I would respond), I just naturally cut back and, well, not that actually quitting was a breeze, but it was maybe a little bit easier. I was aware and prepared.

So I don't know exactly when I'll go whole hog on the Whole30, but for about the past two weeks I've all but eliminated dairy, grain, and added sugar from my diet. It's very "paleo" and "caveman," and it sounds quite drastic; yet, I am very Well Fed.

The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat. Ever. is the best chicken I've ever eaten! It drew raves from the family, as well.

Dairy. I still have a splash of half & half in my coffee in the morning. And if I don't have anything planned or prepared, it's my stand-by Chobani yogurt for breakfast.

Grain. I'd been having a hard time finding bread that I like for quite a while. I've been gradually cutting down on sugar and most commercially made breads and buns have added sugar, of some sort, and are too sweet. I tried a gluten-free bread a while back and "akckakekckkakkaka" pretty much sums it up.

I think of my grandmother. Slicing a thin piece of cheese for each of us, she told me that she'd rather eat a small amount of "good" cheese once a week than the other stuff everyday. Right on, Gram.

So it hasn't been too difficult giving up bread. I had my tuna salad as a salad the other day, on a bed of spinach and with halved cherry tomatoes, and it was delicious! Rusty eats a lot of rice, but I could take it or leave it.

I did have a big bowl of Cheerios for a snack a few nights ago = grain + dairy. I'm practicing!

Sugar. As I said, I've been watching sugar consumption for a while now. I put a little bit of sugar -- 1/3 to 1/2 of the usual -- in my morning coffee with the half & half. I'll still have a bit of dark chocolate at lunch time and, what can I say, husband made oatmeal cookies the other day. I've only had a few, and at least I know what's in those oatmeal cookies and who made them. One of the local vendors at the farmer market had the most wonderful little peaches last weekend, and I've been enjoying them for "dessert" on occasion.

Why all this? Well, because I want to feel better and maybe even look better. I've quit smoking, I've quit soda, I've been eating better food, consuming more water... and with each change I've felt better, in one way or another. But still... almost always with the edema in my legs, swollen ankles (swollen everything to some degree, it seems), and great difficulty losing any weight at all.

The quality of the food I eat has been on my mind for quite a while and an awareness of what exactly "food" is -- REAL FOOD.

What about y'all? Has anyone done something like this?

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Enough rambling. How about more random photos? One from our trip to the lake a couple of weeks ago, and the other is the sky after knit night on Thursday.