Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday Ten: Is It Wrong?

1.  Is it wrong that I don't want to self-examine all the time? I don't want to be in therapy or thinking all the time?  That I just want to be and do and exist without all that introspection?

2.  Is it wrong to think that the reason I overate wasn't because of any deep seated emotional thing that I need to explore, but simply because the food tasted good and I kept eating and ended up eating a bit too much?

3.  Is it wrong that sometimes I get sick and tired of tracking my food and just want to throw myself on the floor and have a tantrum about it?  That I just want to eat and enjoy my food without thinking about it all the time?

4.  Is it wrong that I feel completely and totally jealous of Mr. Helen who seemingly eats and drinks any and everything he wants and up until this past weekend hadn't done any exercise due to his knee injury/surgery (8 weeks) and hasn't gained any weight?

5. Is it wrong for me to often want to give up on early morning exercise?  To feel that I'm just tired of it all, especially during the dark fall and winter hours and that I'd rather sleep until 5:30?  Even knowing that I absolutely, positively will not exercise regularly in the evenings?

6. Is is wrong for me to keep trying, and trying, and then trying again - different approaches - only to get the same result, which is pretty much nowhere that I want to be?

7. Is it wrong that I don't want to be my mother... 75 years old and still constantly dieting?

8.  Is it wrong that I have (I think) set a deadline for weight loss and that if I don't reach what I think I should, I'm going to give up?  For me to think that 7 years of fighting my thyroid (only to have my body keep settling at the same place) is enough?

9.  Is it wrong for me to just want to be and do and not think about any of this anymore?  To be envious of people who seem to be able to do just that?

10. I do believe I've come full circle here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Falling Leaves

It was an absolutely beautiful and typical New England fall weekend around here... daytime temperatures in the mid to upper 50's with brilliant blue skies to show off the last of our foliage.  I got out by 8 am to take a run because the forecast was for some gusty winds to be added to the mix and I don't love running in gusty wind.

I grabbed my camera as I went out the door with the intention of taking a photo of some trees that are near my house at the highway entrance. I knew this would be one of the last weekends to do so as those gusty winds are what bring the leaves down. I routed myself so that I had run most of what I wanted to by the time I got to where I wanted to take pictures and then I sort of jogged along and took a few photos before I turned to home.  The whole experience set a great tone for the day.

Seriously big hydrangea all dried up now!

See the berries?

Literally right around the corner from my house.  The trees in this park have been spectacular.

A view without the 7-Eleven sign

When I got home I whipped up a batch of these Bacon and Cheddar scones... particularly delicious after my run!

Taking these photos gave me the idea to take a walk up to the arboretum at the college on Sunday.  While Sundays are generally my rest day, we have now entered the season where I often use it as a cross-training day or simply a walking day just to be able to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine... good for the body and the soul. Stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ten Thinky Things

1. I have maintained my weight loss since the end of August.  While I'm super happy with that, I'm also super frustrated.  You see, I just wanted a break from logging food and counting calories, etc. so I took it. Evidently I'm really good at maintaining but NOT at losing when I do this.  I guess I need to go back to logging but all the while I'm wishing to lose more weight, I'm also wishing I didn't have to log my food.

2. The movie Twelve Years a Slave came out this past weekend.  Did you know it's based on a book?  It's a true story too, written by the slave.  Lori, the story starts right where you live!  I've been reading the book but probably will wait for the DVD to see the movie.  I've heard it's a fabulous movie but brutal and painful to watch.  I don't need to be sobbing in the theater.

3.  This study - which made national headlines - showing that Oreo cookies' fat and sugar are as addictive as cocaine was done at the college that is right in my city!

 They found that the Oreos activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine.
“This correlated well with our behavioral results and lends support to the hypothesis that high-fat/ high-sugar foods are addictive,” said Schroeder. And that is a problem for the general public, says Honohan.“Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat/ high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability,” she said.
4.  The sequester, then the government shutdown hit my home personally.  Really reinforced how fragile things are in general and how important it is to find good financial balance between living life out loud with abandon and preparing carefully in case of emergency.

5. This article. Not sure I completely agree, but it got me thinking on many levels.

6. Life really is all about perspective.  A friend was watching a football game when one of her children called her.  This is the conversation that ensued:

She said:
I'll be right there, 40 seconds left in the game

The child replied:
40 seconds in football is 20 minutes of timeouts and commercials
40 seconds in soccer is pointless passing back and forth to end the game
40 seconds in Cross Country is 100 people crossing the finish line

Perspective people.

7. I know a lot of people don't like the Biggest Loser but I do.  It seems that every week there is something that strikes me..."You cannot change the past but this is your chance to rewrite the future." I've actually been having quite a few similar thoughts in regards to this being the second half of my life.  I do believe the decade of the 50's are a second (or third, or fourth) chance for many things.

8. Speaking of rewriting the latter part of my life, been feeling - a lot - like a I need a change regards to exercise but don't quite know what or how.  In the last 20+ months (since the fractured foot) I have really been feeling broken down.  Also, I'd venture to say full on menopause has set in and I don't always sleep well which has made it increasingly hard to get up at 4 am to exercise. Imagine going to bed at 8 pm trying to be asleep by 8:30 and then waking up around 2 am and staying awake until 3:30, then the alarm goes off at 4. Yeah, that.  Yet, if I don't get up, I definitely won't exercise at night because I'm really dog tired at that point and completely lack self-motivation.  I've looked around at available evening classes and they are either too late or too expensive or something I'm not interested in. It's such a conundrum.  Still thinking hard on this one.

9. Also from the Biggest Loser, "Strength has nothing to do with external performance.  It has everything to do with internal belief."  Free your mind and the rest will follow.

10. I came across this Navajo Beauty Way ceremony and adapted it for myself (every place it said walk, I wrote run).  I printed it out and have been reading it every morning... working on health and harmony and internal belief.

In beauty may I run
All day long may I run
Through the returning seasons may I run
Beautifully I will possess again
Beautifully birds
Beautifully joyful birds
On the trail marked with pollen may I run
With grasshoppers about my feet may I run
With beauty may I run
With beauty before me may I run
With beauty behind me may I run
With beauty above me may I run
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I run
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I run
It is finished in beauty
It is finished in beauty

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Comfort Food: World's Easiest Pumpkin Soup with a Thai Twist!

I'm back in soup mode.  I know there are people who eat soup year 'round but I tend to eat a lot of it in the fall and winter and not so much at other times.

There are several food blogs I read and recently one of them had a pumpkin soup with a Thai twist, that she had adapted from Cooking Light.  When I got the chance I found both recipes and then because it's what I do, adapted it again to fit the ingredients that I had.  For example, one of my pet peeves with a recipe is to have it call for 12 oz. of something and when I go to buy it, I can only find the item in 15 oz. I don't want 3 oz. left over!! I've been cooking long enough to know how to change things up and make it work.

This soup may be my new favorite pumpkin soup.  I guarantee you it's unlike any other that you've ever had and it has a slight spicy kick. If it takes 30 minutes from start to finish that might be stretching, so it's even easy to whip up after work or for a quick lunch.

Pumpkin Soup with a Thai Twist
(Serves 6 - about 1 1/4 cups per serving)

  • 32 oz. box organic chicken stock
  • 15 oz. can pumpkin 
  • 9 oz. can mango nectar
  • 1/4 cup organic smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • garlic clove, crushed (do not mince, use a garlic press on it!)
  • Optional garnishes:  pumpkin seeds, cilantro, chives, green onions

  • Combine chicken stock pumpkin and mango nectar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. 
  • Combine 1 cup pumpkin mixture and peanut butter in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.
  • Return mixture to pan. Stir in vinegar and next 5 ingredients (vinegar through garlic); cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  • Garnish as desired and serve!
  • Per serving: 121 calories, 5.6g fat, 14.5g carbohydrates, 3.2g fiber, 5.1g protein

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Taking a Stroll

The city I live in has a Main Street organization that sponsor two food stolls a year as fundraisers. Last night was the fall edition and Mr. Helen, who has never been (I have) wanted to go.

My little city has been undergoing a renaissance of sorts and though we have a long way to go, there is something really nice about walking the city you live in.  There were about 70 businesses and restaurants that participated and while we couldn't get to all of them, we went into so many we felt completely stuffed and full even though we were walking and the food is given out in bite size portions. Here are some magnificent iPhone photos of the event.

You pay one price for a button that gets you the food samples and a drink ticket.

Even our Fire Headquarters got in on the action, serving chili.

Lots of delicious bites!  This was a Shrimp BLT.  This restaurant ended up winning 3rd place.  It was definitely one of our favorites.

We had to wait in a line to get the seafood chowder and garlic buffalo wing.

The place across the street had a mini turkey pot pie which I forgot to take a photo of, and entertainment!

More seafood: A scallop with angel hair and an orange cream sauce -we loved this!

There were several places serving desserts.  This was an apple bar from a local coffee shop.  Not pictured are the piece of fudge and ice cream/brownie shot I had from the downtown ice cream shop.

This pub was giving our samples of Safe Harbor American Blonde Ale, a local brew.

At another stop we got this delicious mushroom ravioli with red pepper pesto on their rooftop.  And a spectacular view of The Parade Plaza downtown.

The 1896 Soldiers and Sailors Monument, honoring the city's Civil War Veterans. If you look closely (or click the photo to make larger) the little red building in the back is the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse.

The Whale's Tail sculpture.  We've been having an extraordinarily mild fall but pretty soon that water will be turned off.

Also on the Parade is the Nathan Hale School House.  A one room schoolhouse where the patriot spy Nathan Hale taught until the beginning of the American Revolution.  I couldn't get a photo of the school because it had so many people in front of it. They were doing a Connecticut beer tasting in there which we found out about from this guy.

We decided to stop for our cocktail and also got a taste of a seafood stuffed artichoke.  Delicious.

When you come out of this establishment there are beautiful murals on the building across the street.  My city actually has several nice murals.  Maybe I'll go around one day and take pictures of them all.

Just when we thought we were done eating, as we walked back to our car, we got sucked in a couple more times.  Borscht "shot" and a Pulled Chicken Slider.

I can't even begin to tell you all the things we didn't try: bisques and soups and pizza and cupcakes. Seriously, so much food!  But what a fun night and a great time remembering why we love to live here!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Eatin' and Peepin'

Last Saturday was forecast to be an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day so Mr. Helen and I decided we would take our annual outing to B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill, followed by a drive around to do some leaf peeping.

B.F. Clydes Cider Mill is the oldest steam powered mill in the United States.  You can actually go there and watch them press the apples for their delicious cider.  They're a big deal around here as they are only open seasonally so it's an outing we look forward to.  Nowadays, especially on the weekends, they are packed because they've developed from a simple mill into a tourist attraction. Mr. Helen and I were talking about how we used to come and we'd be two of maybe 20 people there. Now we're two of hundreds.

This is the actual mill.  What you can't see is the sign that tells people to go around back
 to get hard cider!

Load of apples waiting to be dumped into the chute and be pressed

Barrels of apples for sale by the pound with signs that say "These are not free" because the barrels are right where everyone lines up to go into the General Store.

While Mr. Helen stood in the line to get our goodies, I went into the store to take some photos. Years ago, there was only a small building where you could go in and buy the fresh pressed cider. Now if there's a thing to be made from apples you can find it here!

But what we really come for... donuts and apple turnovers. Mr. Helen just loves their warm apple turnovers and I can't resist the warm pumpkin and apple cider donuts.  I don't even really like donuts but these are so good and maybe because this is the only time I'll eat them until next year, they seem more special.  They also sell pies and bread and dumplings, all homemade. 

Two of these are mine and I make no apology for that!

NOW we can take off for our drive!

The foliage is not peaking around here until maybe this weekend or next but the day was so gorgeous we couldn't resist a drive around.  Mr. Helen likes to take me to his fishing holes where I look for pretty leaves and he reminisces about the big one that got away.  

This sign says "First burial 1691" Which got us thinking about what it would have been like to live here then...

One of the lanes leading to a pond.  You can see we've already had quite a bit of leaves fall from the windy days we'd had.

It was a really nice day.  The kind that memories are made of and I don't think you can ask for more than that.