Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Think Spring

As expected, I had to pay out $5 at last week's weigh-in.  Honestly, it didn't upset me, it just made me mad that such a small deviation could contribute to me not losing any weight, or at least maintenance. I guess my body still isn't in the swing of letting it go. Even Mr. Helen said based on what he's seeing each week (remember he sees exactly what I eat, how I work out AND what is happening with the scale), he's beginning to understand why I get so frustrated. He even asked me if I was sure my thyroid meds are working correctly.  Sigh. Let's just hope it was a temporary birthday indulgence turn around and I'm back on track this week.

Speaking of birthdays, Little Helen and her husband sent me the most extravagant birthday gift - something I've been wanting for a long, long time.  

But what made this gift even better than getting the camera, is that the camera was part of a kit that included a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens, filters, tripods, SD cards and so much more.  Opening the box was bit overwhelming!

What is great about the camera is that it comes with some automatic features, in addition to the ability to go full professional and handle all the settings.  I'm going to need some instruction, but it has been fun just taking photos of stuff around the house, using the close-up feature, the portrait feature and normal pictures.

Portrait shot of handsome Mr. Helen

I've been trying for years to get a decent shot of these candles.  I love it!

Took this because I thought it was funny that these two magazines, which are indicative of what we each like to do arrived on the same day.

Closeup of the tulips I bought trying to bring a little spring into my house.

I'm looking forward to getting into the nitty gritty of it all.  At the very least it will assure that some of the photos on the blog will be better lol.


Maybe because we have had the mildest winter I can remember in a long time, spring fever is in full effect here at the Helen household (see above tulips).  We had a dusting of snow on Friday but it didn't stick around and the weekend was full of blue skies and sun.  Unfortunately, that's what made it all the ruder when we walked outside and it was only 30 degrees brrrrr.  Still I'll take that over grey, snow, ice, sleet, etc.

I sort of wished I'd planted crocus last fall. Where I wouldplant them in the front yard is normally still covered by snow but this year there's nary a flake on the ground.  Maybe I should just get them and plant them hoping for another mild winter next year.

As usual with the weather looking better (50s all week!) I've been craving lighterfoods and have made some things that reflect that.  The price and availability of fresh vegetables is the bane of my winter existence.  It's so frustrating to try to figure out what to make to accompany our meals especially after a while when I'm sick to death of roasted squash.

But I made a couple of things over the weekend that are sufficing for now.  Chopped Veggie 
Salad seems to be one of the things I make whenever I want a taste of spring/summer and I think it's because the vegetables required are readily available most of the year.

I also got a bunch of asparagus for a decent price and put it in a lemony vinaigrette for snacking or to eat as a cold side dish.  If you like lemon and asparagus, try this out, it's great!

Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette

Put a 4 quart pot filled halfway with water and 1 tsp. salt on and bring to a boil.  While waiting for it to boil, prepare one bunch asparagus, by rinsing and breaking off the hard stems.  When the water is boiling, drop the asparagus in and bring back to a boil.  Cook for 3 minutes, While the asparagus is cooking, put cold water and ice in a large bowl. When the asparagus is done, drain it and immediately plunge into the cold water.  Let it sit a minute, then drain it again.  Mix together 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1 T extra virgin olive oil, and 2 T lemon juice.  Pour over asparagus then refrigerate. As I said, I either eat as is, or even chop a few stalks up for an omelet. If you really want to kick things up a notch, wrap each piece of asparagus with a thin slice of proscuitto, then pour the dressing over. Easy, simply, delicious.

The last dish I made is really a blast from the past but going through a cookbook looking for something else, I was reminded of it.  Green beans can be so much more than the canned Green Giants your mom served you.  This version tastes like spring.

Roasted Green Beans with Dill Mustard Vinaigrette
serves 6-8

2 lbs. green beans (use haricot verts or petite green beans and you can use frozen!)
2 T olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
2 T white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 T dried dill or 2 T fresh dill

Heat oven to 450.

Cook your green beans half way to crisp tender - i.e. boil fresh green beans in water about 6 minutes, microwave frozen green beans about 5 minutes.  Drain and put into a large bowl.

Toss the green beans with 1 T of olive oil and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and pour out onto a large cookie sheet.  Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned and tender

While the green beans are cooking, whisk together the 1 T olive oil, 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, black pepper and dill.

When green beans are done, transfer them to a serving bowl and pour the vinaigrette over tossing until coated. 

I actually served these with a pot roast - they were a true spring food - a bridge between winter and summer.

When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast


  1. You will love the camera! That's the one I have, although I have different stuff. Did you get a zoom lens? Once you take it off auto, that's when you learn the most. My grandparents owned a photo developing store (I worked there during summers in late teens and early college). The one thing I appreciate the most about digital is how you can practice and practice and it doesn't cost you a thing *and* you get instant gratification! If you don't have a photo editing program, take advantage of the free one called picmonkey.com and you can do a lot for free on there. I use it for exposure a lot - which is still my weakest area with shooting.

    I'm sorry about the gain. It sucks. I have gone nowhere in the past month despite the new running training and cutting back. It's like a cruel joke, and a very unfunny one. Wouldn't it be nice if results were actually based on effort??

    1. I'm actually glad I don't know how much I'm gaining or losing as that would probably put me right over the edge. I never seem to get what I deserve!

      I'm not sure if I got a zoom lens or not. There was a lens that came with the camera, plus the two in the kit. I agree that learning this with digital is so much better than the old days!

  2. I know I'll have a gain this week being in Austin, but hoping to get more walking in when the rain subsides.

    So excited about your camera! Also, when I first got my camera, I watched youtube video tutorials - I am much better at watching someone show me something rather than reading a manual.

    And I agree with Lori - Picmonkey is my go to on my laptop, and I use photo toaster on my phone for on the fly photo editing.

    Enjoy the warmer weather! :D

    1. So I have a question... do you think you'll have a gain because you've thrown caution to the wind while in Austin, or are you at least trying with your WW points?

  3. What a wonderful birthday gift!!!!!! Have fun! Play and learn and don't let it intimidate you!

    Don't let the gain get to you. I've been losing consistently...this was just a birthday anomaly!

    1. I'm happy our weather is getting better so I can get outside and really use the camera - and I can't wait for a full moon!

  4. Holy schmoly, what a gift!!! How sweet of your daughter and SIL - you are going to have fun with this! Love that they made sure you have all of the extras that make playing with a digital camera so fun.

    Here's hoping the scale gain was just a birthday week blip. It is so frustrating, but on the other hand, how nice that Mr. H can see firsthand what you've been dealing with all these years regarding effort and reward.

  5. Wow, its definitely spring at the Helen household! Pretty flowers, great veggie recipes. All is well in the world for now. Love the Hemingway quote!

  6. Wow! What a great gift, lucky you!

    When I bought my Nikon in December I first had it on auto, then switched to the semi-auto and now I mostly use the "P" setting. Still learning though.