Monthly Archives: February 2011

I Didn’t Win Again, But…

I had the best time watching the countdown to the Oscars and then the telecast itself!  While the countdown was going on, I spent my time reading over my mantra book

…in preparation for starting my meditation practice today.  More about that in a bit.

I very much enjoyed the show.  I’ve heard some comments online that the hosting was lacking, but I thought it was fun and I thought the show moved along well, certainly better than it has in some past years. They showed what they needed to do…BRING BACK BILLY CRYSTAL!!  I’ve heard him discuss how difficult it is and how much it takes out of him. The Academy needs to pay him whatever he wants to come back and host again!  I thought Anne Hathaway and James Franco were adorable but…there needs to be someone a bit more mature to give the show what it needs in a host.  Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox about that!  Nevertheless, I enjoyed it!

I was very proud of myself that I stuck to my plan regarding snacking.  We didn’t have dinner as I’d intended, Ralph brought home pre-made egg salad from a local convenience store and I used it to make wraps with my favorite Ole Tomato and Basil tortilla wrap.  I made 2 and although I didn’t really put a lot of the egg salad in them, they were quite filling, tasty and easy! 🙂 I had 3 clementines after and that kept me satisfied until well into the show.

I went with my plan to go with carrots and the Trader Joe’s red pepper/eggplant spread.  It’s very much like the Marco Polo ajvar which I can no longer find around here.  I just found it on Amazon while looking for the link, I guess that’s how I’ll have to buy it since I can only make occasional visits to Trader Joe’s. 

The spread with baby carrots counted for zero points.  I recalculated several times and even doubled and tripled the values when calculating and it still came to zero…my kind of snack! 🙂 The Tribe hummus was delicious!  I tried the horseradish flavor first and it was very tangy and yummy!  I ate it mostly with the carrots but I did have some of it with saltines.  Overall I think I’m happy with my performance as a snacker.  I should win an award!

Now back to my meditation practice.  Ele had mentioned on Saturday when we were discussing the practice that she had read online that some people sit on a little stool to do it.  I remembered that I had a little one that I had bought some years ago to use as a  foot stool.  I thought that it would be perfect…it’s padded and the top even flips open and I could store things in there.  So after I unearthed it, I realized that it would work very well. 

One of the great things about this mantra book is that it includes a CD that allows you to hear the mantra you chose in order to become familiar with how it should sound.  I listened to it during the countdown when I was reading the book.  It was such a help to have that.  You can read the words, but sometimes it’s hard to be sure if you’re pronouncing them properly.  I’m sure I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the CD! 😉

I got up this morning and started.  The practice should be conducted for 40 days. As instructed, I had decided on what my intention would be for this 40 day period and got underway.  I think this will work.  The stool made it so much easier than it would be if I were sitting on the floor trying to keep the position.  I love my mala.  It took a few minutes for my fingers to get comfortable with what they were doing, but it started to feel like second nature.   I have a small bookshelf in my bedroom and I’m going to try to set it up as a little altar.  When I’ve gotten that set up, I’ll take photos of my stool and my altar to share.  It felt so peaceful and after a while I was actually able to block out most of the traffic noise. 

I think I’m going to like this…

Ommmmm……..Day One has begun…

The Most Exciting Day of the Year

Well, not exactly, but I get pretty excited on Oscar day.

First catchup from yesterday.  I tried something different with my oatmeal yesterday.  First of all I had always used the instant oats and last time I bought oatmeal, I bought old-fashioned oats.  Even doing them in the microwave, I can taste the difference.  I also added some special guest stars…

Trader Joe’s Country Pumpkin Spice Granola and pumpkin butter I had gotten at the Amish Market in Mullica Hill. 

The final product looked like this…

And it was delicious!!  I should have cleaned up the bowl a bit, but it looked so good I couldn’t wait to eat it!  I think I’m having the same thing for breakfast today! 😉

Now for the big deal!!  You should all recognize this guy!

I know it’s probably crazy, but I just LOVE to watch the Oscars, including the 3 hour lead in, or maybe it’s 4 hours…I don’t remember, I don’t care,  I just love it! 🙂

This can be a problem for me because, of course I need to snack during the fun.  I’ve been working on a plan to help myself stay in control.  I’m going to have a good dinner, probably leftover barbecue beans and dogs from earlier in the week.  That will be filling.

I did think it over and when I went shopping today, I found these…

Tribe Hummus…I’ve never tried it before, but I’ve also never met a hummus I didn’t like.  I did the calculation and it’s only 2 points per 2 tbsp serving.  In fact the snackers that you see in the photo are individual little tubs that are 2 points each.  That should be a help to keep me in control.  The best part of the transactioin…they were on sale 1/2 price!! 🙂  Am I happy?! 🙂

The rest of my plan looks like this…

Baby carrots and Trader Joe’s eggplant and red pepper spread which counts as zero!   Hopefully that will keep me controlled.

My other treat for myself is going to include this…

Instant espresso coffee!

Kristen told me how to make a latte with this and I’m going to give it a try tonight.  I’ll probably need a little help staying awake, since the Oscars almost always run over.  But that’s part of the fun!

So that’s my plan for the day.  I’m running very late.  Ele had told me yesterday about a sale at K-Mart on lightweight cotton sweaters which I love and I had to stop to see what I could find.  I bought 4 and can’t wait to try them on!  Need to get some breakfast for Ralph and for myself.  I’m trying to have a coffee date with Ele this afternoon, so I better get this show on the road.

May I have the envelope, please!

Am I Ready For My Closeup?

Friday was strange.  For no reason in particular, I realized at about 6pm that I hadn’t eaten all day.  We had been doing various things, we went to the mall…the mall??…I never go to the mall!!  It was Ralph’s idea so we went.  The problem was that we had to deal with this…

Scary clouds, rain and winds.  The photos don’t do it justice, but we were soaked going about 25 yards from the parking lot to the entrance.  We actually mostly window shopped and that was fun and we got some exercise walking around.

When we got home and I realized I hadn’t eaten, I made myself a salad for dinner much like yesterday’s and I was very good with only clementines for a snack later in the evening.

I woke up this morning to this…

A beautiful sunrise!  It’s still damp and chilly, but a sight like that can put your day on the right footing.  I even had success at Weight Watchers.  After really trying hard to be on track all week, I was rewarded with 1.4 pound weight loss and most importantly, I am now Free again! 🙂  That’s the key!  When I got back to goal last summer, I counted up how much I had paid while I was over goal.  It was $490!!  I was thoroughly annoyed when I made that realization.  Now when I’m over goal and have to pay, I write it down to make myself aware of it.  It might sound silly, but the thought of having to pay that money helps to keep me on track during the week.

On my way home ( and because I didn’t have to pay today!) I stopped at Goodwill.  I love to check out their books.  What did I find but this…

The tag that you can probably see says $10.  They small yellow one that you probably can’t read at the bottom says 49 cents!! (Does it drive anyone else crazy that keyboards no longer have the symbol for “cent?”  It makes me nuts!!) Yes I truly am a big spender.  Pretty good for a book that was originally $18.95! 🙂

I’m still not sure if I’m ready to be vegan, but as the old saying goes…Knowledge is Power.  The more I learn about it the better I will be able to make an informed decision.  Anyway, there appear to be some yummy recipes that I can use…and share of course! 😉

I’m off now to see what the day will hold.  I MUST eat breakfast so I don’t get caught like yesterday.  Oatmeal seems to be calling my name.  Then I may be off to help Ele prepare for next week’s rummage sale. I’ve got to get a plan together for my snacks for tomorrow night’s Oscar festivities.  Yeah, festivities, me and the TV, Ralph won’t play Oscar party with me 😦   Tonight, I have to get started on my meditation practice. 

So we’ll see what the rest of the day will bring…and I have to see how my gown looks!!  I love Award season!!

I Can See Clearly Now,Well Not Now, But Soon

As I have mentioned lately, I lack structure, I am disjointed, I NEED TO FOCUS!! I hate this and I keep trying to work my way through it. 

I am so out of it that I didn’t take a single photo of food yesterday, I didn’t even eat breakfast! 

I was actually well on track yesterday regarding food.  Even without breakfast I felt in control.  Lunch was a salad with romaine and tomatoes with House America Garlic & Pepper Tofu Steak.  This was my first time trying this tofu and it was terrific.  I can’t find many flavored tofus in my area, unless I drive 15 miles to Trader Joe’s. 😦  But I really enjoyed it!  I just looked up their website for the link and I’m going to need to explore that some more.  I may have options I didn’t know about!

Dinner was a salad again with romaine, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and 2 Morningstar Farms Tomato & Basil Pizza burgers which is one of my favorites.  I was very good after dinner and my only snack was 3 clementines.  We may have some success on Saturday morning!

Ok, back to structure and focus.  After my discussion with Ele and Kristen on Wednesday night, I had decided that getting back to my ongoing intention of meditating would be a good idea.

Ele had recently gotten this book

The book comes with a CD so that you can hear the mantra as well as see the written word.  We had also discussed making mala beads.  Ele had made her own and I decided I wanted to try to do it, too. I had preordered the book from Barnes and Noble and decided to stop at A.C. Moore before I picked up the book to see what they might have available in the way of appropriate beady material.  

I should have taken photos of my materials before I did my construction, but I’m just excited that I actually accomplished this…

My very own handmade mala beads!!  I’m very excited about this.  I haven’t done anything crafty in a long time.  The fact that I actually sat down and did it amazes me! 🙂  I’m not sure if you can see from the photos (again, I need to focus and THINK about the photos and what I want them to convey…) there are 2 little dragonflies attached to the end of the strings.  I love dragonflies, I’ve always felt connected to them for some reason and I thought they would be appropriate to finish off my mala beads.

Ralph came in while I was stringing the beads.  He asked what I was doing and I explained.  Before he asked me “why” I told him I was “feeling a little anxious” and did my best Beetlejuice imitation….

He got hysterical and told me he was glad I was doing something to make myself feel better.  He left the room laughing!  I can always win him over with humor!! 🙂

Now I have to get started…Om, Om on the Range…that will work when we get to New Mexico!! 😉

Wednesday is Bean Day

Since I started BCDC, I’ve been trying to share recipes that I love which have come through the family.  This one was misplaced due to a misdirected clean up attempt. (No finger-pointing here!)  The recipe is for Barbecued Beans and is a family favorite.  I believe it was originally Ele’s recipe, but the copy I had of it had been written by my Mom which makes it special to me.  When you see it, you won’t think I consider it very special.

The copy actually looks worse than you can tell from the photo.  It’s well used, therefore well-loved and a bit tattered… 😦  It’s wrinkled from being splashed with water and there are obvious bean stains on it.  But its precious to me and if you try them, you’ll understand why.

The Recipe:

1 pound dried Navy beans

1/2 pound of bacon (I substitute 1/2 cup of fake bacon bits)

3 cups tomato juice

1 cup catsup

1 large onion chopped

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (I actually add 2 because I like the flavor)

2 teaspoons salt

Mix all ingredients.  (The recipe calls for cooking the beans on “auto-hi” for 12-24 hours!  I add that because I think it’s so funny. I actually had it on high for about 8-8 1/2 hours.  It will depend on your crock pot.  They all seem to work a little differently. You may also need to add a little extra tomato juice, again depending on how hot your crock pot cooks.)

Also, my suggestion is to not add the fake bacon until about an hour before it’s finished.  They sort of turn into mush if you put them in at the start and I like them to have a little texture.  When I was still working, it was always Ralph’s job to stir the beans throughout the day.  He was especially conscientious about the job of putting in the bacon bits.  He used to get a kick out of the fact that I called them “Ralph’s Beans.”


I have made this using canned beans in a pinch, but I think it tastes better starting with the dried beans and I like to do it the old-fashioned way.

I cook them for about 1 hour before putting them into the crock pot.

I like to serve it with hot dogs cut up.  This makes life easier for me because I can use veggie dogs while giving Ralph regular dogs.  I microwave them for about 1 minute before adding the beans.

Corn bread that turned out perfectly because it was a new box, never going to forget that lesson! 😉

To prove that…

When I opened the new brown sugar box, I put it in a zip lock bag, added the lid of the box to identify it and since it there was not a “best by” date on the box (shame, shame!) I wrote on the lid the date I opened it.  Yes!  I CAN LEARN!

And, yes, that is mustard on top of the beans!  I don’t know what possessed me to do that the first time, but I really like it that way, it adds another little shot of flavor! 😉  They were Delicious!!  It made me very happy.

Earlier in the day, I had made a quick trip to Verchio’s produce stand to stock up on fruits and veggies…

Topped off the evening by going to Barnes & Noble with Ele and Kristen to hear all about Kristen’s trip to New Orleans and to talk mantras, malas and meditation.

We always have such a good time together.  It was a great way to top off the day!


Tuesdays Are Getting Better

Boy, it seems that lately, Tuesdays are odd, disjointed days.  Yesterday seemed that way too.  To start, we got sad news about the death of one of Ralph’s friends from his Army years.  He was understandably upset and that sort of started the day off with a haze over it.

After posting and showering, I started on laundry and then Ralph suggested lunch to cheer us up.  Seems his new favorite is In A Pickle.  We both had our usual, Ralph his sweet sausage with onions and peppers, me the Caprese salad.  Very good as always! 🙂

I got a few other projects done around the house and then it was time for dinner.  I suddenly remembered yesterday afternoon that when I had gotten produce last week, I had bought Brussel sprouts.  I see so many blogs talking about them roasted, shredded, etc. that I wanted to give them a try.  I always sort of liked them even when Gram used to boil them to death when I was growing up.  I decided to get on the sprout bandwagon and give them a try.

I basically used a recipe I found in Weight Watchers Magazine, but now that I think about it, I really only used it for temperature and cooking time.

I cut off the tips of the sprouts and then cut them in half, removing some of the limp outer leaves and put them in my baking dish.

  The recipe said to coat with 2 Tbsps of olive oil so that’s what I did.  I also sprinkled them with salt and pepper, a few grinds each (you can season to taste.)  I thought that maybe they’d need a little more flavor so I sprinkled lightly with garlic powder.

It’s hard to see the difference, but yes, the oil and spices are on there!

I had pre heated the oven to 425 degrees.  The recipe said 15 minutes.  I think I did it for about 18 minutes but I think it would depend on how many sprouts you had.  Just watch them because they are delicate little things! 😉

This was my result…

They were tender and delicious.  I wasn’t sure how Ralph would react to them. He was eating in the living room while I went about doing my stir fry.  When I came into to the room, he was eating them and I was hesitant to ask what he thought.  Unsolicited he said, “these are good.”  As it turns out, he ate all of the Brussel sprouts and didn’t finish his meat and potatoes!  He even said, “you can make these, again!”

They really were tasty.  The little outer leaves that fell off after I cut them in half got very brown and crispy.  They were the best part!  I’m thinking I may make these again and use them over rice or pasta. 

This was my first attempt at roasting vegetables.  I think I may be doing this again…gee, my oven is getting quite a work out after spending so many years as a place to store pots and pans!  I’ll have to find a new place to store things, because right now, my oven is my best friend! 🙂

Train Stations of the Mind

President’s Day started out with Ele, Jim, Little Michael and me going to breakfast at the Hollywood Cafe in Woodbury Heights.  I’ve mentioned before Ralph’s and my on and off relationship with this diner.  This is two in a row good experiences.

Little Michael eating his Fruit Loops…very colorful!

I was happy with my choice of oatmeal with cinnamon (who would have guessed?)  Good coffee also! 🙂

Ralph (looking thrilled!) and Jim

Michael and Ele

Ele and Me…I’m getting better at these self photos!

After breakfast we took a side trip to one of our favorite dollar stores Dollar Tree in Brooklawn for a quick browse.  I didn’t buy anything.

Late afternoon found us on our way back to 3oth Street station in Philadelphia for Jim’s return train to Washington, DC.

We had coffee, lemonade and snacks.  I just had coffee.

The whole gang before Uncle Jim got in line for his train.

Thank goodness the trip this time was so much less stressful than it had been on Friday night.  That’s why we had a chance to sit and relax while waiting for the train. 

It’s always sad to see Jim head home again, we have such a great time when he visits.

Now today, we have snow again!  It looks like about 3 inches, but I can see traffic moving easily as I look out my kitchen window.  I have a trip planned to get produce today, so I’d better get myself moving. 🙂 I hear neighbors outside scraping and snow blowing.  So off I go!

Happy Birthday, Uncle Jim!

We got to Ele’s house on Sunday afternoon for Jim’s birthday party and we were greeted by this guy…

It could only mean one thing…Little Michael was here for Uncle Jim’s birthday! You can’t see Spiderman’s hat very well, but it does in fact say “Happy Birthday, Uncle Jim!” and he’s wearing Michael’s sneakers…Very festive.

Ele, Jim and Michael chatting and snacking…

Stephanie, John and Ginny…chatting and snacking…

Jim, Michael and Ralph

The Birthday Boy!! 🙂

The Nemesis…

I was very apprehensive about this party.  After having a gain on Saturday at WW and having to pay, I wanted to be good.  I had a plan.  I knew I would be tempted by chips and dips, crackers and cheese.  I was truly proud of myself.  Ele also had carrots and celery which I snacked on with a little salsa. 

I had made a big salad which you can see in this shot…

I had 2 bowls of salad with Balsamic vinegar before the pizza got there.  I enjoyed it and was rather full.  Then I had to eat the pizza from Picasso’s.  We had ordered a white pizza with mushrooms, broccoli and black olives for the ladies.  It was delicious!  The good news for me was…I only ate one slice!  Very proud of myself for that.

Ele had made a homemade chocolate cake for Jim for his birthday (his request)

It also was delicious!  Thanks, Ele! I had a small piece and controlled myself although there were others who will not be named, who had seconds! 😉

I was proud of myself for being so in control.  I tried not to mention it to anyone. I don’t like to draw attention to what I’m doing because, then everyone is watching.  I can keep myself in line better if I keep it to myself.

When I came home, I had more salad with a veggie burger on top.  Just the right thing for a good snack.  I like it when I can prove to myself that I can do what I set out to do.  I had a plan and it worked out!  Let’s keep this going for a great week!!

Saturday On and Off

After breakfast with my friends Gail and Alice at the Gateway Diner in Westville, I headed home to see what was in store for the day.  Since Jim is visiting from DC, I knew we’d be doing some adventuring. 

We started out with lunch at In A Pickle one of our favorite lunch spots.  Why you ask…

Why, Free Pickles, of course!! 😉

My attempt at being “arty”  See me, looking at you?!?  Jim is such a master photographer, I should ask him for some photo tips while he’s here.  I probably need to wait until it get my new camera (whenever that might be!!)

Jim and Ralph…Ralph still not being sure about all of these photos…can you tell by the look on his face?!?

Me and Ele…Ralph insisted on standing up to take the photo. (?)

First time for a Caesar salad there…

Pretty yummy.  The dressing was very garlic-y but I like that.  Glad that I asked for it on the side, though.

After a quick stop at Target we were off to Barnes & Noble (no, not again!) 😉 While everyone else went in, I took a detour next door to the Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I was in search of this…

A Silpat!!  I’m so excited, now I can make scones and biscuits and maybe even cookies and not have to worry about them sticking.  Am I happy? 🙂

Our group was scattered, shopping in B&N but I located them all.  I had a 20% off coupon and wanted to make good use of it.  I am now the proud owner of this…

The Happy Herbivore!!  In just the short time I’ve had to look at it so far, I really like it.  It’s based on the idea that you use ordinary ingredients as opposed to the exotic ingredients you see in so many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks.  The recipes sound really good.  I’ll hopefully be making some of these soon and sharing them. 

Our happy group at B&N…

Jim, Ele and Ralph. 

After that, Ralph and I came home and generally crashed.  We were both tired, him because he’s still trying to get over the plague and me because I haven’t been sleeping well at night. 

Sunday will be fun, dinner at Ele’s with our friends Ginny, John and Stephanie joining us to celebrate Jim’s birthday.  Considering the fact that I’ve been up since 3:15, I may need to take a nap so I’ll have energy for all of that fun!  Looking forward to it!!

Only Because We Love Him

We had to take a trip to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station last night.  Station as in train station.  Our good friend Jim was coming in from Washington, DC by Amtrak for a President’s Day weekend visit.  We love his visits, we love Jim…we didn’t love our drive… 😦 

We left my sister Ele’s house at 5:50 for what should have been approximately a 20 minute ride.  We got there at 7:20.  Fortunately, Jim’s train was running late.

We had been stuck in crazy traffic over the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Vine St. expressway.  Then we missed the turn off to the station and had to come back around (adding at least 15 minutes to our arrival time!)  We were all frazzled when we finally got there.  Ralph decided to have a Nathan’s hot dog wrapped in pretzel!!  I had nothing except for a taste of his lemonade which was very good. 

I occupied myself taking photos of the station which is a wonderful and beautiful building…

There was a beautiful full moon rising…it’s there among the columns outside the station and the skyscrapers…

On such a clear night, it was just dazzling.

We got safely back to Ele’s house where we had tea and the Angel Food Pineapple cake I had made in the afternoon.  Now that I’ve started baking, I can’t be stopped.  😉

I did not have a positive experience on the scale at Weight Watchers this morning.  I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but I really don’t like when I have to pay.  This week I will be focusing and figuring out where I’m going wrong.  The mission given to us by our leader was to re-work our kitchens into a Weight Watchers friendly environment.  I started on that this week and I need to continue.  It’s a frustrating situation, but I have faith in WW and myself.  We’ve been a good team for over 23 years and we’ll get through this.  Now on to some fun and games with holiday weekend company.  There’s probably a trip to Barnes & Noble in our future.  Oh, no…not again! 😉