Monday, March 30, 2015

March Holiday Wrap Up

I have enjoyed sharing the unusual holidays of March with you all. My last "official celebration" is March 30 Take a Walk in the Park Day, To be honest, I forgot all about it until around 2 pm this afternoon. The very last thing I wanted to do after work is go for a walk. As I mentioned yesterday my leg has been bothering me the last couple of days and I just wanted to go home from work and do nothing. In my head, I started plotting how I could just celebrate a day late.

Part of the purpose of this blog is to hold me accountable. So I started reconsidering how I could make it happen. There is a park about 6-7 minutes away. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that felt so far away. Are you sensing my complete lacks of motivation?

Then come the excuses - legit or not they still felt like excuses. The park I was considering is a decent sized park. The road through it forms a loop that is a little over a mile long. On a normal day, I wouldn't have even thought twice about the distance. but even that seemed like too much of a commitment today. What if my leg felt worse and I was half a mile away from my car?

Suddenly, another park pops into my head...the one less than 2 minutes from my house. It is small so I could walk a little, take some pictures and consider Take a Walk in the Park Day celebrated.

Now what to wear? So, there is this completely embarrassing factoid. I was in the middle of laundry and my clean clothes options were limited. I know many of you are going to totally relate to this picture of my only available pair of non-dress pants.

Truth is I am always planning to lose weight, so I keep a very limited wardrobe. I don't want to invest in clothes that I am going to shrink out of soon. For most of my life, I have had one. maybe two. pairs of jeans that I can wear at any given time. Well, with the weight I have gained back this winter I am down to one pair (the one pictured above).  I certainly don't want to replace that size of jeans when I am going to get back on track and fit back into the size smaller jeans that hang in my closet. The workout pants I normally wear for walking were in the wash because I have been wearing them around the house because they are more comfortable. Ugh! It is an embarrassing truth and it is a bit discouraging.

Funny story to lighten the mood.  I decided to take a picture of the damage my thighs had done to these jeans while I was still wearing them. As I am trying to get a decent picture, it suddenly dawns on I seriously taking a picture of that region to post on the internet????  Oh the things we do for our blogs! I promise you the above pictured jeans are completely empty and laying on the bed for the picture.

I put the jeans back on, laced up my walking shoes, grabbed Millie and off I went to the park. I decided to just wander around and see how my leg held up. I have been to this park many times. I strolled and reminisced about some of those times.

We held my sister's 30th birthday party at this pavilion. I am sure she won't mind me saying the 10th anniversary of that party is coming up in a couple of months.

Flashback Photo - unfortunately the pictures of my sister are with other people that I don't feel comfortable forcing to be on my blog. So, here is her other half and their eldest child :)

June 2005
My nephew's first football team played on this field.

Flashback Photo

September 2009
Evidently, the park must have received a grant for improvements because there were plenty of new things to be seen. How cute are these bugs in one of the three playground areas?

The biggest surprise is a brand new disc golf course. I had no idea they were planning to build a course. I asked one of the players and he said they had installed the baskets just a couple of weeks ago.  The course starts in a brushy/wooded area with a creek running through it. That is going to make for some tricky frisbee-ing. When we have played at other courses, we don't run into too many other players. But there were at least 7 groups playing this afternoon. I am sure it is because it is new and quite different terrain than the other courses nearby. I also noticed this course has 18 "holes" - the other two in the area have only 9 "holes."

 It ends on the open area on the other side of the park.
I am not sure why this is perched on a specially made mound. My theory is that it makes it safer for sledders. This basket is at the bottom of a hill where people sled in the winter. Or it could simply be to create elevation.

My husband was super excited when I showed him these pictures. We enjoy playing disc golf and I am sure we will testing the course soon. We have never played a course with woods/brush, so that will be a new challenge.

Before I knew it, we had wandered all the way across the park. My leg actually felt really good. We paused to get a picture of Princess Millie on her throne.

On our way back to the car we walked by the old tennis courts. It looks like they might have tried to fix the surface, but I think it could stand to have a new net.

This abandoned ball made me think of Desiree at Finding the Skinny Geek Within. I wondered if she has ever crushed a ball like this. Of course, Millie wanted to take it home as a souvenir - I didn't let her.

Our walk was very enjoyable and the weather was perfect. So, the moral of this holiday is get out and Take a Walk in the Park even if you don't feel like it.  A special thank you to all of you who read this blog for giving me the extra motivation and encouragement that sharing this journey brings.

Finally, I must disclose March 30 was I Am in Control Day. also. The mere fact that this holiday fell on a Monday makes it seem un-celebratable  I will be honest, I am not even sure what that is supposed to mean. I suppose it means I am in control of how I respond to all the craziness this world brings. I am certainly not in control of much, but controlling my responses just might be enough. The past few months I have felt quite out of control and maybe this hits a little too close to home to make into a silly blog post. So for now I will ponder it and see where I am come I Am in Control Day 2016. 

So ends the March holidays. I hope you enjoyed this little romp through the obscure. I think I am going to miss making them a part of my adventures.

Warning: Cute Kitties!

It was a pretty lazy weekend in my world. Originally, I thought it was going to be much warmer and I envisioned getting some serious yard work done. Poor daffodils are blooming in some pretty messy flower beds. When the weather didn't cooperate I thought I would get something done inside instead. I just couldn't get myself motivated.

Spring can be a challenge for me. I am eager to get things done after the winter melts away. However, weather changes heighten my MS symptoms. I know they will calm down as the weather becomes more consistent. In the meantime, I fight extra fatigue and pain. I have recurring numbness in my right leg that is super annoying. Anytime my legs bother me, I get a little extra anxious that it might be the start of stupid MS affecting my mobility.

In other fun news, about 9 weeks ago my niece found a stray cat and took it in. Friday it presented her with a thank you gift - four kittens. They are so cute and she is a good little mama. I would like to go on public record - we are not getting one of the kittens! Sure, they are tempting, but I have a big hang up about the litter box situation. And do I really need more pet hair? Did I mention, the kittens are adorable??

Like every spring, I have the gardening bug. Saturday, In my mind, the sooner I get it planted the sooner I will be enjoying the fresh veggies. Should I just roll the dice and hope we don't get another killing frost? Not quite yet. To get my gardening fix. I stopped by the Community Feed and Seed to see if there is anything new that I "need". They have a great selection of bulk seeds, but I didn't buy any this time. I still have quite a few seeds leftover from last year. .

They have a huge selection of yard ornaments..You can find pretty much anything. Who wouldn't want a 4 foot tall Sasquatch for their yard?

Or be tempted by a nice pair of giraffes?
I wonder if they take puppy trade ins :) This guy is only $125 - all you dog owners know that is a total bargain. Dog = money pit :)  And I am pretty sure this one wouldn't chew the windowsill while she lounges on the couch. It never fails. I think the chewing phase has passed and she comes up with something completely different and unexpected to chew.

Why is it that you put a shell on a slug and it becomes adorable, but without a shell they are slimy and gross???  My garden might need one of these little guys.

Now this is embarrassing. It turns out my green thumb is not so green.  These are my broccoli seedlings... .
And these are the broccoli seedlings I bought at the seed store. I don't think mine are ever going to look like this. Maybe they don't get enough direct light for growing seedlings. Maybe next year I will get them a light.

I also bought unions. I mostly grow them for the green tops, but the selection was so pretty I am going to let some grow to maturity. .
I also picked out a few seed potatoes - Red, Yukon Gold and Kennebec. I am looking forward to some yummy new potatoes with dill. I should end up with a couple plants of each variety.

Our weekend ended with a grill full of delicious dinner. I cooked a little extra asparagus and peppers so I would have leftovers to put in the egg muffins I am going to make in the morning.

Morning update: The egg muffins made with the grilled veggies from last night. I added a little sausage, cilantro and a sprinkle of cheese. Each one comes out to 42 calories. A good grab and go snack.

In other news, I think we are going to be looking for a half marathon soon. My husband ran 10 miles this morning!! I still can't process how quickly his running is progressing. If you have any advice on the half marathon, please share. I am especially interested in nutrition advice.I have to make sure my man is properly fueled during training :)  He runs first thing in the morning and prefers to eat afterwards. We are trying to balance his desire to lose a little more weight and his need to get enough calories to support his running.

Friday, March 27, 2015


I love breakfast food! Truth is I don't always have time for a "fancy" breakfast or my tummy just isn't ready in the morning. We solve this problem with breakfast for dinner - brinner. On the menu - roasted potatoes (baked home fries); omelet and a fruit salad.

Starting with the home fries. I cubed red potatoes sprinkled them with garlic, onion powder, pepper and a bunch of chopped cilantro. There are many herbs you could use if you don't care for cilantro. We love cilantro in our house. Funny thing is that was not always the case. In fact, for a long time I despised (I can't emphasize the word enough) cilantro. I spent 2 months in Honduras with the Peace Corps. There was a distinctive flavor in the food. While I was there I got really sick and had to return home - that taste stayed with me. Turns out that flavor was cilantro. I would have nothing to do with it for years. I can't remember what changed my mind, but now it is by far our most used herb. I buy it by the bunch during the off season and grow several plants in our garden.

While the potatoes are baking (on a cookie sheet for about 25 minutes at 450F) I prep the filling for the omelets. My husband would die immediately if "fungus" came in contact with his food. Not really, but he would have everyone believe that. So I carefully chop my veggies keeping the mushroom separate. I even chop the mushrooms last so their "germs" don't transfer from the cutting board to the other veggies. I cook our omelet fillings in separate pans. The things we do for love! This particular evening my husband had peppers onions and zucchini. I had mushroom and spinach.
My husband is a sausage freak. I found this turkey sausage that has a good flavor. It is pre-cooked and super convenient for a quick meal. I like that I can keep it in the freezer and just add a little to the veggies for extra sausage flavor without the mess of cooking sausage.
I usually use two whole eggs per omelet. If my husband is feeling extra hungry I add an additional egg white or two to his.

I like to cut up a variety of fresh fruits and squeeze a little fresh lime juice on them. This fruit salad is a little more decadent than usual - I had pineapple, cuties, strawberries, red grapes and kiwi. Summertime in a bowl!

After the omelet is cooked I sprinkle a little bit of sharp cheddar on the hot eggs. We love cheese in our house and putting a sprinkle on top instead of mixing it in the filling maximizes the cheese flavor.  Maybe it hits the taste buds first and therefore the omelet seems cheesier than it really is. I am not a fan of the fat-free or reduced fat cheeses, so I needed to find a way to stretch a little of the "real" thing.

I don't remember exactly what the calorie count was on this particular meal. We generally try to keep dinner between 400-600 depending on the day. I know it was well within that range. I think this meal is a pretty good calorie bargain!

Crazy blogger confession:  I made this identical brinner two nights in a row because I forgot to take pictures the first night.  I wish the lighting had been better because the  colors were incredible! Thankfully my husband loved it. He didn't mind the repeat in the least.
Sincerely, Paula

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy Spinach Day!

Before I get started on spinach I have a little follow up on  yesterday - Waffle Day. We did make waffles for dinner. I was pretty impressed with myself. I had two small waffles with just a little bit of the banana syrup and NO butter. Yep, you read that right...NO butter.  And I lived to tell about it. Who knew?!

I, unlike most people, I assume have an all time favorite waffle story. Right before my husband and I started dating he had gone to the high school play with my sister's family (and me - he just didn't know he was with me).  Afterwards, we went to Steak n Shake for dinner. During dinner my (then 7 year old) niece grilled him with all kinds of crazy questions - mostly of the "what's your favorite..." variety.  I think she was just in awe that her martial arts instructor was eating dinner with them. The one question that remains etched in my memory is...what's your favorite waffle?  Poor guy didn't know there was anything other than plain waffles. At the time, her favorite waffle was the bacon and cheese waffle - regular waffle with a little cheese and bacon pieces sprinkled on top before cooking (maybe it is still the favorite because the kids requested it last night). She couldn't believe that plain could be anyone's favorite kind of waffle. For the record, his favorite is now peach waffles. I cut up canned peaches and add them to the batter before cooking. Even today an awkward moment can be diffused by one simple question "what's your favorite waffle?"

Moving on....Happy Spinach Day!!! 

True, Sean, I rarely "simply eat spinach." I prefer enjoying at as an ingredient or a co-star of the dish. Here are a few of the ways I am currently enjoying my spinach. 

1. I almost always get spinach on my Subway sandwiches. I used to get lettuce, but have recently switched to spinach. The leaves look fresher than the shredded lettuce and it adds more flavor to the sandwich.  Not to mention it feels more virtuous to order spinach than lame old iceberg.

2. Smoothies - a handful of spinach in a fruit smoothie can't even be tasted. Blueberries mask the color best. Okay, that just made it sound like I hate spinach and I am trying to hide it. My point is that it sounds bizarre to put spinach in a fruit smoothie, but you get the nutritional benefit without compromising the fruity flavor and color.

3. Chopped fresh spinach added to tomato sauce based dishes - i.e. spaghetti. Again, I am adding it to boost nutritional value and you barely taste it with the other ingredients.

4. One of my favorite omelets is spinach and mushroom :)

5. Fresh from the garden spinach makes the best salads. This is last year's spinach pictured below (behind that out of control lettuce). This particular variety was odd. I expected to grow more like the lettuce, but instead leaves stayed small and grew off a tall center stem. The leaves were shaped like arrowheads. It was tasty though. I got a different kind this year so we will see. I planted it the other day then the weather turned cold again - at least, it has been raining and not snowing.

In my younger days, I would have NEVER considered eating frozen spinach. But now, it isn't too bad...still not my favorite, but nor too bad. Oddly, it is one of my husband's favorite veggies - the frozen spinach, not fresh. I prefer if I am eating frozen spinach with something that I can mix it with as I eat.

Finally, canned spinach?  Sorry Popeye, that is one thing I just can't do! (Please don't judge me for the typo on the Popeye meme.)

How do you feel about spinach? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Shopping and More March Celebrations

I stepped on the scale this morning. I can't make myself share the results...too horrifying. Seriously, I think my body and/or the scale currently hates me. Obviously, I have been struggling, but if I don't get my act together soon I am going to be back where I started last May. I have tried to be kind to myself considering what we have been through, but I know there is coming a time when I am going to have to put the hammer down. If our "special project" is not successful this month, we have to move on. I have been thinking about some fun motivational adventures to keep me from descending further into a funk and to get me moving aggressively in the right direction.

Yesterday, one of my co-workers was showing us this catalog (online version). It contained products for students - mostly, I think it was to address their physical fidgets and keep them mentally focused. For me, I think if I had do pick one this would be the front runner.

There is no possible way I could concentrate on doing work and walk on a treadmill at the same time. I would be the one rolling right off the back end of the treadmill.
Now these just look ridiculous! I am sure there is some value for my core, but how cool could I possibly look??
I had to zoom in on these babies. I could see sitting on one of those balls all day, but when I have to roll over to the other part of my desk I fear I would flip over backwards and crack my head. Perhaps these odd little legs would solve tipping the problem, but they would definitely reduce the mobility. Why do you always have to give up something to get something?
I took my extra potpie to work yesterday to share with co-workers. I decided to make some rolls to go with it. This recipe from Pioneer Woman is my go-to for rolls. They are ridiculously easy and so delicious. You simply use frozen roll dough. Set the frozen balls in a pan and let thaw/rise for about 3 hours. Then brush a little butter on top and sprinkle with coarse salt and chopped fresh rosemary.
WARNING: This recipe must only be made when you have people to share them with - the more the better! I don't recommend making them when you are home will not be able to stop eating them.  I use the Rhodes frozen dinner rolls and each one is 100 calories, which isn't too bad if you eat one, half a dozen is a different story.
My niece and nephew are staying with us for a couple of days. Last night after dinner, my niece announces it is Chocolate Covered Raisins Day. How did I miss that? My husband and nephew ran up to the convenience store and bough this small package which the four of us shared. As you can see from the label they are super healthy - "natural" "antioxidants" 'less fat." The power of marketing! Truth be told there was a second package, but we didn't open it. It was a minimal celebration.   
I love how Millie was intently watching my niece practice her cheerleading routine. Tryouts are this week. We don't have an extra bed so my niece likes to sleep on a pallet of blankets. Of course, as soon as I got her "bed" made up, Millie swooped in to claim it for herself. .
Tonight we will be celebrating Waffle Day and making waffles for "brinner." I made some banana cinnamon syrup this morning. I am planning to have my waffle with strawberries and bananas...hold the butter.

Make your plans now! Tomorrow is Spinach Day. Sadly, I don't think we are celebrating. My husband and I actually really like spinach, but we are planning to take the kids out to dinner. I don't foresee ordering spinach, but we will see. I could be tempted by a nice spinach salad.

Weigh In Wednesday