May 29, 2012

pull up a vintage chair....

Not much going on here. I've sort of fallen into the rhythmic lull of summer....slow!  Bill and I spent a quiet weekend doing gardening... picking weeds, trimming hedges, planting pots but not doing much of anything else. Oh there is the chairs, I forgot.....keep reading.

The weeds were getting out of hand in the rows between our tomatoes and other veggies. Good news is while weeding we found 5 tomato pants that have grown up naturally [Bill calls them orphans] from last year from seeds. Our peppers [bell] and eggplant [Japanese] and cucumbers [burpless]  are  looking great....happy about those cucumbers since they had a rough start. The eggplant and the peppers are wonderful, tall, full and strong.

eggplant, pepper and cucumbers
Do you remember during A-Z when I got the Mick Jagger Poster at that local auction? Well that day we also bid on some vintage 1940-50's metal porch furniture. We've been hard at work sanding, prime painting and refinishing three awesome chairs that I paid $110.00 [for all three]. The first two pictures are the two chair styles we got and the color and condition the chairs were in.

we have one of these

and two of these, one chair one rocker
Now we're at the point where we're just starting to tape out and paint the accent color on the raised trim area's. Bill purchased the paint for the chairs, red [fire engine] and for the accent color he chose marigold [a bit more orange than a school bus]. This chair below is just showing one coat of  red after all the sanding priming. This is pretty labor intensive work, we've been at it for a while! We'll finish soon I hope. I'll put up pictures when they're done, I promise. They're gonna look really good!

Btw, I was expecting to do a guest post over on  today May 29th [Tue] but to due to a scheduling conflict of some kind I've been rescheduled for June 1st. [that's this Friday] I do hope you'll swing by and read it then. The topic I chose to write about  is role models.

Other than that life is pretty much hot; summer has arrived.....

May 24, 2012

our garden granddad

We planted our tomatoes some time ago.  They are growing so fast they need to be tied up weekly- as is our grass but that's another story. And as you can see it won't be long before we'll have our first red fruit. I cannot tell you how much I look forward to biting into my first tomato, yum! And this year we will be using nine foot poles because our plants kept on falling over last year; ugh what a mess it was.

It won't be long before this baby turns red!

Each and every year during tomato season I get a bit misty thinking about our very first year here when we planted our first garden in our yard. It was tended by us with care, believe me we didn't really have many friends being new to this community. So the tomatoes kept us occupied when we weren't going back and forth to the baseball field with Matthew and Eric, where by the way we did eventually make some friends.

The guardian of the garden...Linus our eldest cat.
We live in a very rural area. One day I was sitting out on the back porch in a big t-shirt and my undies reading a book in the sunshine and something caught my eye.  There in the garden I could see the top of the head of an old man bobbing up and down atop the rows of my tomatoes. He was checking - actually inspecting my plants. I went in told Bill and put on some shorts and we walked out to meet and greet our garden guest. As it turns out he was the Great-Granddad of two of the boys the kids played ball with, his grandson was one of the few men we had met and considered a friend in the short time that we had been living here.

One of our many rows of tomato's they're a little more than 3 feet tall now. 

We chatted and he asked us about our family, what church we attended the usual and necessary niceties of southern conversation and we filled him in about where we had come from. He stayed for a while so I gathered that we passed his inspection...hehe! I think he was impressed that we were from NY and knew how to do a garden but he was playing it close to the vest at this point. He was actually quite adorable and at the very least in his mid 80's by my estimation. So we talked about our garden, if we fertilized or not, how early we planted , if we were organic, planted heirlooms  or if we used compost then after a time we said our goodbyes and went on his way.

This is the leaf of an heirloom tomato call German Johnson 
The very next time we went to a baseball game with the boys we saw his grandson whose my age and he was grinning from ear to ear. He recounted this to us, he said when his Granddad got home from our house he took out his phone book and called some the other old timers from our community and told them "you better plow under your gardens gentlemen, those Yankees down the road  have a garden that will put y'all to shame!"  

Beautiful flowers yes?
Granddad visited most every year after that and our friendship bore fruit. He got a kick with the fact that we knew what we were doing. Bill and I both grew up in the suburbs and always had gardens we weren't city dwellers but Granddad had an idea of New York and he was sticking to it! And Bill and I? We came to look forward to his yearly visits and were tickled that he enjoyed us and taking a peek at our garden. Granddad lived until he was 100, bless his heart.

May 22, 2012

Gastronomic goodness

Things are going well here in healthy land!  Bill and I are still sticking to our pledge to eating and living a more healthy lifestyle. I know I had said in my last blog post that I would share a few recipes and I keep my promises, so here are a few.  I might just stick one at the end on every update since putting a bunch together seems like a lot of reading.  And then I feel guilty about saying anything since the recipes and picture make this blog post look a mile long. 

The big thing I learned this week is people think cottage cheese is a healthy food- and it is in moderation, as you can see it is one of the ingredients in the pancakes. Did you ever read the label of cottage cheese? It had tons of sodium please be aware if you decide to have a dish of it ! tip*when I went to the grocery store different brands had more or less sodium content as much as 100mg. per serving, so check to see.....

These pancakes by the way are awesome...
No Flour No Sugar Pancakes
1/2 cup dry oatmeal [not instant]
1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1tsp. vanilla
1 packet of stevia  or 2 packets of sweetener of your choice.
Have a small amount of low fat or skim milk handy for thinning the batter if necessary.

You will also need
A blender to blend this mixture.
Pam spray for cooking.
Jam or Jelly that is sugar free to spread atop.

Blend all the dry ingredients together in one bowl, then blend all the wet ingredients in another. When this is done add them to your blender and blend. I've found that many factors like the oats you use, cottage cheese and the size of your eggs might determine the thickness of your pancake batter. I've always had to add a bit of milk to make it the consistency of real pancake mix.

Spray a twelve in pan with Pam and cook your pancakes three at a time. This recipe yields nine pancakes.  We like to top our pancakes with a tsp of sugar-free jam.

Here's a nice little carrot salad that's good to have with dinner. We just had this the other night with a grilled turkey burger and some fresh steamed green beans....yum!

8 fresh carrots washed unpeeled {organic if you can}
1 tbsp of stevia
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 fresh lemons or the equivalent of 1/2 c. lemon juice

Grate carrots either with a box grater of with the Cuisinart grater, then add all the other ingredients toss and chill. This is a great little salad to add raisins, sun-flour or pumpkin seeds, chives, cranberry raisins. { I like to take my micro-plane grater and put the lemon peel in this salad for extra flavor }I like to serve this in a lettuce cup.

This is a fabulous quick little soup, its filled with healthy vegetables and easy to make. If you don't want to use chicken stock, use veggie stock. If you want a bit of meat add some chicken then again if you don't do meat, add some tofu! Then enjoy!

White Bean Soup with Greens

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 c. tomatoes in bite sized pieces
1/2 c. celery
1/2 c. carrot
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 tsp. of Italian seasoning or 1 tbsp of fresh basil and oregano 
pepper to taste
28 oz. of chicken stock or veggie stock [low sodium]
2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed
2 cups of greens of your choice, escarole, spinach,  beet greens arugula

Heat oil in a large dutch oven or pot on medium heat. Add onion celery, carrot and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until softened then add tomatoes. Then add herbs and continue to stir until the onions look translucent. When that occurs, add stock and brink to a simmer  and cook for 20 minutes or until veggies are tender. At this point add the beans and greens  and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Add pepper to taste. 

This soup tastes yummy especially if you sprinkle it with  Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese... if that's your taste or you want to add this to an Italian meal.

I hope you try these recipes, if you do, let me know..

May 21, 2012

I'm Kreativ, Kreativ, Kreativ

You do not glasses my friends you are seeing triple. I'm feeling the love this week. Three of my blog friends have given me the Kreativ Blogger Award . I'm going to list them in the order in which I received them.

Thanks so much to Kela over at Teardrops On My Book who was kind enough to give me the first of my Kreativ Blogger Awards. I also won an E- Book on her blog this week, I'm so excited! I am so grateful for her generosity, both for the award and for the book. Please go visit her and show her some love.

My second award was given to me from my new friend Kathleen, she lives in Newfoundland. During the A-Z Challenge she was one of my regular stops. What wonderful pictures and interesting blog posts Kathleen wrote, it was always so enjoyable, so please give some blog love to Kathleen over at My Dark Cove Pantry. You will not regret it. Thanks Kathleen, I appreciate this award very much. Actually I was going to give Kathleen the award when Kela gave it to me, funny huh?


And last but not least, my friend Gina whose blog is a must read for me. Three's a charm girl friend! Gina is an inspiration to me because she is remarkable, not only does she writes every day, but her writing is smart, she's interesting and she's funny! Now who wouldn't want to read her stuff? Go visit her and see for yourself at Does Anyone Care What I Write?  and you'll see what I'm talking about!


Now I have to tell you ten facts about myself that you might not already know.

  1. I have never met a famous person in my life, not a sports star, movie star, rock star or anyone of note.
  2. I do not sing in the shower but I sing like a fiend in the car, if you call what I do singing, I do not have the greatest voice.
  3. I'm afraid of heights, I've been know to get up on the roof and then had a bit of a problem getting on the ladder, looking down is a problem....
  4. I have never traveled to any of the central states of the United States, I've been to most all states on the east coast where I live and I've traveled to the west coast but none of the states in the middle. Never been to Europe either!
  5. I am a movie freak, I watch a lot of movies and I have the collection to prove it.
  6. I am addicted to true crime shows like The First 48 and Notorious....others.
  7. Do you like air conditioning? Not me it makes me feel a bit closed in! We have central air and I turn it off every chance I can. I prefer the fresh air and the windows open. Living in Virginia however it can get pretty hot so I have to use it more often than not for most of the summer unfortunately.
  8. I cannot live without coffee, it is necessary to me functioning, when I come downstairs in the morning I go right for the pot! 
  9. I do not belong to Twitter or Facebook and Pinterest. I think I might probably the only one who isn't on them!
  10. I spent my honeymoon on a small 36 foot boat where we traveled  from Long Island out into the Atlantic Ocean up the Hudson River past the Statue of Liberty and NY City to Up-State New York and back. 
I am supposed to pass this award to seven people, but I find that task impossible there are way to many good blogs to choose from. Since I appreciate the people who read and follow my blog old and new, I'd like to give this Kreativ Blog Award to all my readers and followers... Also if you visited and commented during or after A-Z on one or more of my blog posts I appreciate you,  please consider this award to be yours too!

Thanks so much everyone!

May 17, 2012

weighing the benefits

I can easily say that I have eaten more fresh vegetables and fruit in the past two weeks than I can remember in my recent memory. Eating fresh foods and excluding sugar and flour has been good for me for many reasons some of which I will touch on in this blog post.

To keep me honest I go over to my Mom's on Saturday mornings with my coffee and weigh in. My first week of healthy eating netted me a loss of 6.3 pounds. I'm pretty proud of myself..

no sadly i am not 16o lbs!

I have not skipped any meals, where before I never ate breakfast. I snack on healthy foods such as unsalted/unsweetened almonds and fruit or organic yogurt. I have not eaten any fast food or cheated, in fact Mom and had dinner out the other night and I had  fish and double veggies. I wouldn't even let the server put the bread on the table! Then a few days later when I went to my hairdresser to get my roots done; Bill and I successfully ate lunch out at a restaurant and didn't eat potatoes we substituted veggies with our lunch, again no bread.

I hadn't mentioned this before but I gave up salt last month which just adds to this little health kick I'm on which is all good. The benefits so far keeping in mind that I haven't and excess salt in six weeks other than in the smallest amounts while cooking. I find that the use of fresh herbs from my garden are a great substitute for adding additional flavor.

What amazes me is that in less than two weeks I'm already feeling and seeing many changes in my body besides this first bit of weight loss.
  1. I have not had a migraine. {wouldn't that be a kicker if my neurologist decreased my med's in July when I have my check- up?} 
  2. I don't have clogged sinus' especially at night when I lay down, it helps with my snoring.    OK be nice with the comments please :) 
  3. I'm sleeping better, my guess the phlegm and snoring might have something to do with this.
  4. Although my body still aches they body aching is less and I'm hoping it will go away eventually.
  5. My fingernails are growing like crazy and are not splitting like they used to.
  6. My skin isn't as dry like it used to be either.
  7. No bloating and no edema around my ankles {I had a little if I spent long days on my feet} even the right leg below my healed wound site (shocked about that) 
  8. No cravings which is really weird for a carb addict. 
Finding and creating recipes or taking the regular recipes I used to cook and making it into acceptable sugar or flour free recipes will be the subject of my next blog post. 

Stay tuned and I'll share a few of our favorites....with pictures.

May 16, 2012

being both happy and sad

Sorry for the disappearing act everyone Mothers Day is such a happy and terribly sad time for me. 


Thanks to those of you who noticed my absence and dropped me a comment or an e-mail to find where I was.  I'd rather this blog be my happy place but sadness is my reality now an then so I 'm afraid a few days off was in order. 

I'll be updating you in my next blog post on how my new lifestyle changes are going particularly on what the scale's very interesting....stay tuned!.

May 10, 2012

do you grocery shop with your eyes open?

Do you grocery shop with your eyes open? From atop my new soap box I would like to tell you I never have.  I've been pretty blind; foolish if you will, big time. The kind of foolish that's had my blood pressure on the rise and the weight packing on a few pounds a year over these past years and before I knew it my girlish size eight figure now had a one in front of it.

Size 18, how the hell did that happen? Bad food choices, that's how!

So as I said in my things ` a changin post hubby and I have made some big changes in our lives.

What happened when we went to the grocery store the first time after committing to those very changes? What changes you ask? Well I'll tell you...cutting out all wheat/flour and sugar from our diets and which basically eating fresh veggies and herbs, all fruit, fish / shell fish, lean meats, yogurts, cheeses, eggs, beans, brown get the picture.[organic whenever possible]. Activity lots of activity....eventually exercise once the doctor approves something for us when we go later this month.


Needless to say going to the grocery store was an eye opener. We went in the store and spent a good amount of time picking through all the fresh produce, fruit, veggies, herbs. That department is located on the right side of the store, then towards the back corner we stopped by and picked up some fresh fish. Directly along the back we picked up some chicken, turkey, pork tenderloin and some lean beef.  The along the other side of the store we went to the dairy and picked up, low fat milk, organic Greek yogurt, some goats cheese as well as some other cheese selections that we'd use on salads. We pretty much traversed the three sides of the store never visiting one aisle in the middle of the market at all.

Then we realized we did need a couple of other things but our time spent in those inner aisles was minimal, some good olive oil, oatmeal, almonds, brown rice and beans; lot of beans in may varieties!

Then we were gone we paid first though...
No boxes, very few cans [which I now read the labels], no processed foods, nothing frozen, all fresh!
My eyes are open now!
Hopefully my health and girlish figure will return some day in the future....
Or should I say womanish!

There's a lot of money to be saved not spending a lot of time filling my cart with food from middle aisles. My bill at check out is a lot less than it used to be. Now I can't say that I'm not going to be shopping more frequently because it hasn't been long enough to say.

We are already feeling the positive effects from changes and it's only been a week. In my next post will I'll fill you in  on what we've noticed so far.

May 6, 2012

it was good for me ~ how was it for you?

click to visit
So they asked us to do a reflection post after the A-Z challenge. I think I could probably squeak out one more post about my experience. Reflection, what does that mean really? To express carefully considered thoughts I would expect.

So here goes.....

I am ever so grateful that my friend Martha suggested that I do A-Z. I've really never been much of a joiner truth been told.

And once month of blogging every day.... who would have thought that I could do it? Until the day I signed up to do the A-Z Challenge I didn't think it was possible. Not this procrastinator!

Now I can proudly consider myself a former procrastinator; sort of .....

Thinking up fun posts to publish for each letter of the alphabet was sometimes a snap sometimes not quite as easy! But it pushed me and sharpened my abilities made me a better blogger or at least I hope it did. I'd like to think you enjoyed my blog posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Since this is my blog and I can shamelessly plug what I've done and do here I thought I'd just list the top three posts that received the most attention by you the readers during the challenge. Just in case you missed anything and want to take a peek, click on the links below!

Then there are those post that I had fun writing or I got a lot of feedback about; so I thought I'd share them as well.

And the perks of being involved in the challenge?

I made some new friends; ones that I'm so excited to keep in touch with after this challenge. And their blogs? Wow are they some great blogs to read. I read and read information, stories, fiction and non, poetry, viewed unbelievable photography, learned history I laughed, I cried, and I learned many things over the course of a month. I traveled all over the planet from the comfort of my couch. Really how cool is that?  I've amassed a small list of novels and novella's from some new and exciting authors that I've met through their blogs. Now I know why this challenge's numbers grow and grow every year.

But truthfully there are many blogs that I just didn't have the time to visit, and it's a shame but there just weren't enough hours in the day.  It really was nice to have the list available to visit other blogs at me leisure after the challenge was finished to catch a few extras. I might also say at this point how impressed this newbie was at how organized everything was. I didn't have a single problem navigating my around and getting acquainted with how things were done all the instructions were clear and concise, it was very well done.

I am so very appreciative with how my regular readers jumped on the band wagon and supported all those posts throughout the month! They were really fabulous visiting, reading and commenting with the utmost enthusiasm all the way to the end.  I am so hook on this challenge and it's benefits that I've already started asking people who weren't involved to consider joining me for next year.

Just planting the seeds....anyhoo.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention just one more time my gratitude to all the other A-Z-ers who visited whether it be once or faithfully visited and commented throughout the month, I am very grateful for your visits and our new and budding friendships. 

I can't keep myself from asking however, if your reading this: it was good for me; how was it for you?

May 5, 2012

things a ~ changin

My husband and I have decided to make some changes in our life. Basically we've decided to eat better and live a more healthful life style. We're committed to doing this together, which I would highly recommend doing with your honey.

We have no excuses for being over weight or  lazy  inactive  but that weight; it just seemed to creep up on us pound by pound as did the excuses. So today I write this without offering any excuses for my ass being plastered to the couch or my hand being on the refrigerator door, or the one to many passes thru the drive thru, that my dear blog friend was all me!

And because I'm one for personal accountability I thought I'd just put it out there that this chick will be getting fit, by being more active and eating right. The result will be what I hope is a decent amount of weight loss and a more healthful Jen and other half.

I'd like to share this journey with you as I experience it, and it's my hope you be be rooting for me-us.

Let me just say my first visit to the grocery store with my new attitude about eating and was a trip- what an eye opener.

I'll tell you about it in my next post....stay tuned.

May 4, 2012

moving one room over

Whew, I feel a bit refreshed since taking a few days off since completing A-Z.

Although writing every day was exhilarating I really did need to take some time to catch up with some other things in my non blog world.

If you read my "X" post then you know I wrote each and every post from my couch with my laptop sitting on my lap.

I used to publish a few times a week prior to the challenge; sometimes more if the mood struck.

But honestly I've never spent that much time hunched over my computer writing, editing, and commenting.

I'd like to stress the word "hunched" it the key word here!

Gosh my neck and shoulders are killing me!

After more then a few sleepless nights in pain and agony. OK agony might be a bit of a exaggeration....

I had to use one of those rubs and medicate myself. OH! my aching neck- shoulders too!

So it looks like I'm going to have to move my laptop off my lap and over to the dining-room table, I sure hope this helps.

So friends what do you do to make sure this doesn't happen to you?

I sure wish I would have known this was going to happen before, water under the bridge huh?