Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My morning walk with the shibas

We have two dogs. Both are single minded and obstinate which makes it a real treat when I need to walk them by myself. They are shiba inus, a primitive but wickedly smart Japanese breed who can reason and adapt to various situations. While they are not large dogs (think Akita but shrink them to 25 pounds) they are stubborn and if they choose not to walk the way you want to are out of luck. Unless you want to carry one or just give in and go the direction they want.

This morning I drove them to the park because they will walk more cooperatively together there. It's the easiest thing to do when Doug is out of town.

We get to the park, which is near a lake, and Kobe decides he's not walking. He is afraid of gun fire and recently there have been duck hunters on the lake. Today I don't hear any gun shots but he decides there is danger. So he refuses to walk.

He sits down trembling while Aja is pulling for all she's worth is the opposite direction. I stand, crucifixion style, a shiba at the taunt end of each leash while I try and coax Kobe to me. I can't pull Aja's leash as she is wearing a regular collar and she can slip it....and then run off laughing.

Finally I get hold of Kobe and hoist his trembling 22 pounds onto my hip. I walk Aja and carry Kobe. It's imperative Aja has opportunity to do her business because she refused to go out all day yesterday. In fairness, it did rain a lot yesterday. Roughly every 30 feet or so I put Kobe down in case he wants to walk and do his business. Finally he is cool to walk. We walk happily for 10 minutes.

It starts to spit rain now and Aja doesn't want any more of this nonsense. She wants to get her princess feet off the wet pavement and into the warm car. While Kobe is scared of gun fire he has no problem with rain. Now he wants to walk and she is sitting stubbornly, somehow making her 30 pounds seem like 100.
But I have a trick! She loves to chase sticks so I kick one in the direction I need to go; she's up and moving along with Kobe. We are close to the turn off for the parking lot so both are moving at a good speed.

We beat the rain...not by much but still - we are on the way home.

I love them awful and I will most certainly need counseling when they die. They are NOT for a first time dog me on this. Because of their nature I think that's why there are so many in rescue. People get frustrated. Plus they are door bolters and get away (which is another reason they are in rescue). That's how we ended up with our two devils.

You can tell when you look into their slanted eyes that they are listening to you, evaluating the rewards of doing what you offer or planning their next move. This being said, understand our shibas are sweet and loving and I wouldn't do without them. They are, hands down, the smartest dogs we have ever been fortunate enough to "own" but they are a challenge at times.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A wicked cold has descended on our household

Well.....I have been neglecting this blog for a bit lately. I had goals and momentum to start eating better and exercising on a regular basis and what happens - I picked up a wicked cold. From a coworker. I wasn't happy. It put me on hold, energy wise, so while the menus have been fairly healthy I have not been able to resume my yoga or walking. Meh....

Also, I have been spending quite a bit of time trying to redesign my bookish blog Novel Meals. I am hell bent to merge this one and that one, but am still trying to figure out which one inherits the other posts. Clear as mud, right?

Latest books I have reviewed are:
Orange is the New Black
Pete Evans Paleo Chef.

Also I have participated in my first Reader's Workout at Joy's Book Blog. It's good to hook up with people who are motivated to improve their health and diet.

This past week has been a battle with the squirrels over the bird seed. they are destroying our feeders, eating all the seed and running off our beautiful birds. So, Doug and I got our rifles out and took care of few as opportunity presented itself. We aren't picking off any who are ambling around the property. They are fine. But when they hang from the feeders they are fair game.

That's all the "exciting" news from this end of the world. How is your week going? Avoiding the flu and snow I hope.
It's warmer today so we will be taking advantage of it and going for a walk later.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Health News and Martha Stewart:
Meatloaf and Macaroni and Cheese

First off, thank you goes out to those who wished me well with the medical tests I needed. I get worked up, unnecessarily as it turns out but….you know how it goes!

Have you ever awaited test results and gotten yourself so keyed up it was almost….embarrassing? Yeah, that’s me. I wasn’t wringing my hands, walking the hall, boring my co-workers or anything like that. For me it was a knotty feeling in my stomach. Not all the time, mind you. Just when I let my imagination wander after reading WebMD. Stay away from that site if you don’t want to borrow trouble!
Notice I can dispense the advice but I didn’t follow it.

After blood work and ultra sound results were examined it’s revealed I have a fatty liver. Evidently there are many people with fatty liver and they don’t even know it…I guess not until their blood work reveals a high liver enzyme number. No tumors or lesions revealed on my ultra sound – good. No extra iron or viral symptoms either so…..good again.

The plan here is to limit my alcohol intake, stick to a low fat diet, get exercise and lose weight. For any of you who know me, or have seen me, you’ll know I am not obese….not even close. But I do have to lose 10 pounds and since it’s a health issue rather than a vanity one…..I will get cracking on it asap. Hey, I end up with “new” clothes if I lose the weight! There are a few skirts I haven’t been able to wear that I would love to get in again. Haha

Right now I am looking over some lower fat alternative foods and see that I am already on the right track.

Earlier this past two weeks we enjoyed Martha Stewart's All American Meatloaf. No, that's not low fat but this was before I knew I had to change my dietary ways, so I wanted to share the lovely photo with you. Plus, we are still adhering to a soft diet (from the oral surgery) so meatloaf was a winner for that evening.

I can have things like this periodically....just not several times a month. Coming up will be healthier fare. Also, if I figure out how to redirect this web address you'll end up at my other site automatically. Stay tuned!

Thanks again for the good thoughts and emails!!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Happy Sunday!

It's Sunday, it's 72° and the sky is blue. I am sitting on the patio watching cardinals fight over seed and  overseeing Shibas sleeping in the sun.

I had a good time today having lunch out with Doug, dropping off library materials, picking up gardening supplies at Espositos and getting a delicious mocha latte at our favorite Starbucks.

I was going to wait and do an update tomorrow after my  doctor appointment but decided that today was so nice, I wanted to write about that now. Not that I'm being negative thinking I won't have good news tomorrow.......just jotting down my thoughts on an excellent day.

Mini update is:
I am about to start a new book having finished Orange is the New Black.

Finally figured out how to set up categories on my Wordpress blog - yea! Possibly merging this site with the WP site soon. Easier to update one instead of two :-)

Did our first ever yoga routine today using a DVD called Back Care Yoga. It's a great starter DVD for people who are a wee bit out of shape. Being a Government Drone I tend to sit more than I like during the day. The stretching exercises felt very good.

The soft diet only has 2 more weeks and then a crunchy food meal will be in order, don't you think? Doug is healing well from his oral surgery.

More later, hope all is well on your world'

Monday, February 02, 2015

Black Bean Soup with Chorizo and Lime
(& an ultrasound story)

Hello out there! Today was the day I dreaded because I had to start it out without coffee, water and food. The ultrasound of my problematic liver was scheduled for 9:15 this morning.

Funny how they want you to drink crazy amounts of water when you're pregnant for your ultrasound. When I was pregnant with Tristan I drank an amazing amount of water so we'd have a good picture of him.

For the liver, it's a different story. Nothing my mouth after midnight which means...I had to endure hours without a drop of liquid. No coffee. No water. No oatmeal. I was grouchy, hungry, very thirsty and still a tad concerned abut the results. At least it's over with now and I will know results of it (and my blood work) next week. Not worrying about it....I keep saying that since I can't do a thing about it.

We are still enjoying a soft food diet (read with sarcasm), having healthy fare such as this black bean soup. I like this soup, just don't screw up and use refried black beans for part of the recipe (as I did). It was good but I can tell it would have been better with regular black beans.

Black Bean Soup with Chorizo and Lime
From Cooking Light magazine, December 2013

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3 ounces Spanish chorizo, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
2 (15-ounce) cans unsalted black beans, rinsed, drained, and coarsely mashed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat.

Add chorizo; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove chorizo from pan (do not wipe pan).
Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in oregano and next 4 ingredients (through salt); cook 30 seconds. Stir in stock and beans.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in cooked chorizo and juice.

Ladle 1 1/4 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 tablespoon cilantro.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Quiche makes for an easy lunch

So….we are still working with a soft diet due to the healing process after oral surgery. It’s one thing when you want to eat meatloaf and quiche but quite another when you have to. Funny thing that, how you want something more than ever if you just can’t have it. Right now I think Doug is wanting pizza and steak and maybe even nachos. Ok, baked nachos was my idea but still….he likes them too.

This quiche is a simple little meal to toss together but better for a lunch than a dinner. In my opinion. Somehow it’s satisfying for a lunch but you need more to keep your stomach from growling with your main meal.

You’ll need a pie crust and if you are as lazy as I am, you’ll use Pillsbury’s premade pie crust. Preheat oven to 375 F.

Crack 6 or 7 eggs into a bowl and add 1 ½ cups of milk (or a mixture of milk and cream). Add some salt and pepper and a spice or herb you like. Maybe some paprika. Beat well by hand or toss into a blender.

Now you can get creative and place your favorites in the bottom of the pie crust. Spinach, bacon, cheese….whatever you fancy. I used green scallions, sautéed onion, cheddar cheese and roughly 8 ounces of cubed ham. Once you have your ingredients in the pie shell, gently pour the egg mixture over the lot.

Bake 45 minutes. Easy, right? You can mix it up by making it vegetarian, or using a swiss or mozzarella cheese.

In about 2 ½ weeks you’ll see me posting something crunchy…like nachos.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What a week

Well, it's been a week of medical fun. My husband had oral surgery on Tuesday and I had news from my primary care doctor.

Doug endured 4 hours of surgery and thankfully he slept through most of it. Once we got home he slept roughly 15 hours straight with occasional wakeful periods to eat frozen yogurt and take medicine. The recovery period is amazing as he’s up and about and without much pain at all. That’s so much trauma to your body, having oral surgery. He remembers nothing but he sure was weaving like a drunken sailor when we got home. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I would get him up the stairs for bed that evening but…..we made it!

He jokes that he must have looked like Mr. Gower from It’s a Wonderful Life after George Bailey wasn’t born. Kindly, I did not spray Doug in the face with seltzer.

With the exception of him being bored with the soft diet all is well. Note on the soft diet if you need it after something like oral surgery – we fared well with Ensure, Cottage Pie, chicken and rice with vegetables such as peas and deiced chicken, Rapid Ragu, yogurt (both frozen and breakfast type), oatmeal, scrambled eggs and grits and Quiche.

In late October I had a call from my doctor, letting me know my liver enzyme numbers were high again. Since I never ever take acetaminophen I was certain the problem was alcohol. Evening meals with wine every night was surely the cause of this evil enzyme rise in my blood. So, perfect solution, I opted to abstain from all alcohol for three months and repeat the blood test in Januray.

I was quite a good girl in abstaining from alcohol, yes- wine and spirits both – with the exception of two gin and tonics spaced about 3 weeks apart in all of December. C’mon, that’s very good from someone who enjoys the occasional tipple while listening to music. Or sitting on the patio. Or by the fire. When my results came back with even higher numbers I was shocked.

Naturally I went into panic mode and trolled the Internet for symptoms and health problems in this area. Bad idea, one can take a bad headache and turn it into a tumor when reading WebMD. So, next step is going to a specialist and enjoying some tests. Bah! Meh.

Ok, on to something fun - our granddaughter Elizabeth is pulling herself up and standing. Soon she's be toddling all over the house so lookout! Let's put up the breakables. I remeber when Tristan started walking - whoa, that was about 25 years ago - we had to secure everything so he wouldn't get hurt.

Here she is balancing on a Christmas toy. Tristan took the little Philadelphia Eagles outfit off of a teddy bear that was his as a child and put it on Elizabeth. The bear was a gift from his grandfather and now it's Elizabeth's toy, if she wants it.

Tristan has been applying for jobs and hopefully something will come up soon in the Tallahassee area. Now that he's out of the Army I think they would like to put roots down here. It's good to have the family closer, nice to see everyone any time we want instead of driving hours for a short visit.

That's about it for us. I'm at the library using free internet connections since we are at our total usage allowance at home :-(

Hope all is well in your world!


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