Thursday, August 31, 2017


I am still winning at food. Overnight chia oatmeal (with maple syrup and cinnamon) is absolutely the best find of this experience so far. Anecdotally chia encourages weight loss. I'm going to guess that it depends on a persons chemistry and reasons for eating. What I do know is that I'm not starving at lunchtime. I still eat a little then but it's not hangry eating.

Weekend plans include more honey granola bars and something yet to be determined. I've got to step out of the "Netflix cycle" where I look at recipes all evening and make nothing. Working on commitment

In more winning news, the in class making of woodwind instruments from straws was a success at the high school. They explored the possibilities (increasing the length, changing pitches with a slide and cutting finger holes to change notes.). One kid bragged about making one and playing it at home. He was a senior. After a second attempt the next day, one freshman was actually able to play with a pleasant tone.

The loudest part of the clips is my laughter but you'll have that. If you only have time for one, watch the second one.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Food from the earth but I'm not becoming "one of THOSE people."

This is what lunch looked like today-


The potatoes were Yukon gold and baked and were so delicious that they didn't need butter, though I did add some cottage cheese to trick myself into believing it was sour cream. The tomato came from a Zumba friend's garden and tasted as a tomato should.

Speaking of Zumba- another goal was met- perfect attendance for the month of August. That put me in "the drawing" and I won my first Zumba shirt. The sad part is that I'm likely done with Zumba with friends until May because I hate driving home in the dark. I will still have WiiU Zumba.


In case I failed to mention it, overnight chia oatmeal is amazing! I don't know if it's the different milks (coconut and almond) or if it's the chia seeds but it has some serious oomph to it.

The chia seeds have made it into the kitchen proper. There was an order delivered to the school that will take some masterminding. We don't have a ton of cupboard space and I have to make it look like nothing new was added. I don't really have to hide it but life is less complicated with a little creative storage.

Waiting to find a place in the lineup is a pretty big bag of raw cashews and the full fat coconut milk for cooking. There are several varieties of brown rice pasta and there also might be a food processor. I'm thinking I may stash the blender for special occasions and store the food processor in its place.

On the experimenting front there are some black bean brownies that look promising and now that I have cashews and tamari sauce, the world is my oyster. Also greathusbandbob is going out of town one night next week and I'll have free reign to experiment with abandon in the kitchen. Never did I think that would be something I would look forward to.

It could be that my new hobby will be plant based cooking. I'm stashing ingredients the way some people stash yarn.

School is school. I love the high school gig. I often wonder if I'm really mature enough to be teaching them and then I remember how old I am and realize that at least I can fake it.

The elementary part is so discouraging. I've gone from teaching music to kids twice a week to teaching them music once a week. The other times I have them I will be monitoring a math computer program. It makes me so sad. There are some days (today) where I only teach 90 minutes of music in an eight hour day. The rest of the day is computer and recess duty. I just don't feel like thinking about it.

And I do think of the world at large. I am mostly rendered speechless about the sad and crazy and need my little bubble now and again.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

In preparation...

Food Food Food.

I feel like I'm always thinking about what I want to make and what I need to make it.  I think I have finally found and collected in one way or another all of the obscure ingredients listed in these plant-based cookbooks.

The trickier ones to find were full fat canned coconut milk, tahini, tamari (which is gluten free soy sauce, I think).  I am most excited about the tahini.

Walmart wins were flax seeds, chia seeds, almond butter, cashew butter and almond milk.  At Aldi I found medjool dates (they are called for in smoothies frequently) and some multi-colored baby carrots as an addition to lunches.

Ordered from amazon are raw cashews which apparently are used to make dairy free cream sauces.  I haven't gone completely dairy free.  there is a little cottage cheese and some mexican cheddar in the diet.  In a pinch I'll have fried eggs for dinner.

The food of the week is rolled oats.  While they don't look very good (having missed the baking soda step, I was forced to improvise) these are tasty and I will definitely try them again.  They are a baked "cookie" made of oats, almond butter, a little coconut oil to hold them together and of all things, blueberries.  If someone would have told me to put blueberries in peanut butter cookies I would have called them crazy.  But, almond butter is just light enough to be able to pull off blueberries.  They are, in fact, delicious.  I haven't looked up the calorie content.  They are sweetened with maple syrup.  Even if the calorie count is high, they are healthy calories rather than empty ones.

This is the treat for tomorrow's breakfast- overnight chia oats. Coconut and almond milk, cinnamon, oats, chia seeds again sweetened with maple syrup.  I'm hoping they will be a little more filling than the total cereal and blueberries because I tend to feel really hungry around 10:00.

I have no idea what chia seeds are or what they will do but I love oats.

I also baked some potatoes for a little variation in lunches next week.  I'll use low-fat cottage cheese as a sour cream replacement.  If it gets really boring I'll find some taco sauce or garlic salt to spice it up.

I've got salad fixings for dinner and I made the refried bean/tortilla lasagne for dinner for a couple of days.  It's so easy to make, tasty and I think relatively healthy.

I also bought real black beans that have to soak overnight to see what the difference in those are.  I'm looking at some black beans with "real" black beans and brown rice later in the week.

You can never really tell with the scale/clothes/time of day combination but the highest last two digits of the scale were once 69 and I've seen 56 a few times. I'm still call it +/- 10 lbs for now.

All else is status quo and I believe that healthy cooking may be my new hobby.  I hope I grow to like it a little better as I go along.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


I eat lunch at 12:30 on Wednesdays. The only other person who eats lunch at that time is the infamous p.e. teacher. When I eat in my room it makes a mess so I ate in the lounge.


Today after I sat down I heard about his stomach pain, his hernia, his constipation, the phone call to his mother about what to do about his constipation, what happened after he took the first dose of anti-constipation medicine and what happened after the second dose. He went on to talk about insurance premiums and blood tests. Really? All I can think is that it was his way of saying he'd prefer to eat alone.


In other news the children are not the same as they once were. They squirm, they twitch, they shout, the make noises, the giggle at their ridiculous behavior. I can't even. Today I just had to watch it happen. I had no idea what to do.


Finally, I finished the Atlanticus mandala giant crazed granny square. Only 10 of 12 sections but really, enough already. And I was out of yarn. It's about 5'x5'. Global warming means it will serve us better as a rug but a girl can dream.




Saturday, August 19, 2017

Reporting from the scene.

Children's choir. The dreaded children's choir planning meeting happened on Tuesday and it was a laugh fest. (And that's not even sarcasm). The theme of the concert is "peace." After we had a mostly full program a google search revealed "War what is it good for" as an option. While joking at first (as in hey do we know any good bari sax players), I actually made an arrangement combining it with "Get up, stand up" and a Shel Silverstein poem about a chicken who won't hatch for socio-political-environmental reasons. If it flies it will be amazing! I have to convince the coordinator that while protest songs may be controversial, they are indeed a part of our history and worthy of study.

School- I got my schedule this week. The number of times I am scheduled to see kids for music has gone from 2 times to one time a week. The number of recess duties I have has gone from 0 to 6 a week, the number of classes I will be monitoring while they do math at a computer went from 2 to 6. It is the most ridiculous waste of a music degree I have ever encountered. And I find it very difficult to believe that the 1/2 hour of screen time a week added to their schedule will raise math scores. It's a work in progress. Ugh.

High school music appreciation- for the win. The weird part is saying things and having kids write them down. The other weird part is how much I have to talk. The fun part has been their answers and ponderings. I've only met with them once but I feel good about what is to come.

So my favorite part of the whole thing is that at 9:30 am I was talking about truth and beauty to high school students and at 11:30 am I was helping a first grader learn how to pump his legs back so he could swing.

The reason I am able to post today is because it was Saturday number one of reclaiming some of my own time back. Cousin was used to shopping and lunch every Saturday which was fine when it's all aunt had to do in a given week. And when it was the only going out and about that cousin did. Now that both of those situations are changed, I have finally changed the shopping routine. We went at 8:30 am and I was home by 9:30.

There is now plenty of time for finishing sleeping in, food prep, laundry and some WiiU Zumba. In fact last week at this time I was just starting what I have already finished today.

The food plans for the weekend include making more oats and honey bars (the oats and nut ones were a little overwhelming), preparing some vegetarian chili, and making a Mexican "casserole" (more like a tortilla lasagne) with salsa, refried beans, and cheese. Light on the cheese, heavy on the beans.

The salad in a jar was an amazing success. One change to be made is to make sure the ingredients are plenty dry when they go into the jar. A little moisture can really horse things up.

And that's all the news that is the news. Stress level-3.5/10 which is pretty good.


Sunday, August 13, 2017


We just finished watching Ozark on Netflix.  It was all about decisions and how one decision effects the outcome of everything.

Last summer I made friends with zumba.

This summer we went on vacation.

While on vacation the family danced with WiiU dance game.

The boy and greathusbandbob played a few Mario games together.

The plans were made for the boy to come and stay with us.

In anticipation of the boy coming to stay with us I researched possible games that the two could play together while he was here.

In addition to finding a few, I also found a zumba WiiU game.

And so now I have done zumba every day but Friday for the last two weeks.  Monday and Thursday with grandparents from school and the other days in the basement.  While not as much fun as real life, it's just as sweaty.

Come to find it was a hella hard year

I went back a year in blog posts to see what my brain was like this time last year.  I travelled through the year on the blog and can only say it's been a hella hard year.  If we're talking fiscal calendar July-July, there has been six months of aunt illness with hip replacement and rehab, kidney cancer, bed bugs, and knee surgery for the dog.

While all that was happening I was also undergoing some intense and unpredictable negative menopause side effects and trying to sell aunt's house long distance.

And really, if you want to just gander back at the year before that you'll notice not very many blog posts at all because it was the aunt and cousin transition from there to here precipitated by me driving to there every weekend (or after every ambulance call)  culminating installing her in June, buying and renovating a house for cousin in July and moving her in October.

What. The. Hell.  I'm sure glad I don't have to go through this stuff alone.

In food news-

I steamed eggs to hard boil them and shorted them about 3 minutes and ended up with soft boiled eggs.  Ugh.  I cooked them some more but I don't know what the hot cold hot cold process is going to do to them.  Note to self.  If you're steaming eggs allow 3 minutes for the water to boil and 12 minutes for the actual cooking.

While there was some eating out this weekend, there was only a little bit of cheating and no sweets.  

We ate at the mexican restaurant on Saturday and the only cheat was the con queso dip on the shrimp.  Otherswise shrimp, rice, veggies and tortillas.

Saturday's steak salad had some delicious fries on it- usually in my head I wish there were more fries.  Saturday I was just glad there were fries.   

Here is the lunch plan for the week. ZumbaVickie says she had lettuce that lasted for two weeks when she sealed it in mason jars in the fridge.  I told her that I hope it works otherwise I have two lunches and 3 rabbit specials.

I found out that they sell carrots individually at my store.  Big carrots.  While convenient, those baby carrots mostly seem stupid to me.  They don't have a ton of taste, they aren't as good for you as real carrots and they would need a mason jar of their own (as long as they weren't already tired when you got them out of the bag.)

Additions to this include hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese, grapes, some granny smith apples (I am still tempted to bake one of those)

I may defrost a soup or some black beans and rice to accompany it later in the week.

Dinner plans- tonight it will be fried eggs.  Tomorrow I will make mushroom stroganoff again.  That was so delicious.  I may have it with brown rice which is this weeks "try something new" food.

The first batch of granola bars were filling- maybe had a little too much flour.  The only calories in them came from 1/3 c coconut oil and 2/3 c honey. The rest of the ingredients were wheat flour, oatmeal and plain rice krispies.

The second batch looks to be more decadent.  Oats, honey, butter, brown sugar, almonds and cashews.  This one is refrigerated instead of baked. (though you do toast the oats and nuts prior to assembly- not sure why.)

It has some delicious potential but I'll be wary not to eat them as freely as the others as the calorie content is much higher.

It also comes as a "basic recipe" with suggestions for various add-ons.

Tomorrow is the long meeting day.  Dear Future Self, right now I feel a little anxious about the schedule, duties and high school class.  I am glad my life isn't as crazy as it has been in the past.  I am glad to be teaching only on my end of town and not having to drive to "the city."

And if you're able to read this next year (hopefully we will not all be blown away by nuclear fallout) I hope that the world outside yours is less volatile than it is right now.  I hope the haters in our country find a way to stop hating.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

No anxiety until things start.

Yesterday day this was in my email.


The above ideas were not my suggestion. I said let's hang out and explore the software at the same time. It's a small detail but when you're dealing with a coordinator with a borderline personality order it's crazy making.

This afternoon I headed to my campaign meeting. For the United way. Scheduled at 1:00 at location A. I arrived early at location A. Your meeting is at location B. There was an email. Um. No. Plenty of time to get there. But still. Do things right please..


When I get home I will taste these homemade honey oat granola bars


I'm going to have to practice not letting the little things drive me crazy.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Good deed for the day

The aunt got to the box store. She's the Dolly Parton impersonator in the rolly cart.


Pressing needs? Batteries (which I got her two weeks ago) foundation, eye shadow, a birthday card, a $5 box store necklace and some body lotion that she thought was shampoo. This was after we had to leave one- crowded because the students are back- box store for another on the other side of town because there were no rolly carts at the first one.

We did have a decent exchange afterwards.

This is a lot of work for you, you hate this don't you?

It's not my favorite thing.

You would like it better if it involved food.

No that's not it, it's just that I already do it every weekend with your daughter.

Ohhhhhh. Then there was a fleeting memory and knowing nod and she said "I'll give you my list from now on."

And then I offered up a ride in the car to get out of the building every now and then if that would make things more interesting for her.

The truth shall set you free. We'll see how well she remembers that.

Meanwhile, said cousin called today and said "my backpack is falling apart, are you doing anything today, can we go get one?" I said we'll do it on Saturday, took a Xanax and went to bed. She never minds when you say no. She doesn't get disappointed but there is always the guilt of having said no.

Food consumtion was harder today. Few options, no time to try something new. I stuck to it all. The white chili tastes much better after a few days. Zumbabettygave away some cucumbers on Monday so I sent her a note thanking her for lunch today.

What's interesting is that I've grown accustomed to feeling a little hungry. It's not the rumbling death rattle in my body that I used to think it was. If you're a little bit hungry and you're not addicted to sugary carbs, you can make it to the next healthy snack.

That being said, I'm going to have to pick up my find good snacks for work game. I get a little nibbly every two hours or so and there's a cabinet at school full of peanut m&m's and snicker bars. I'm going to try to make honey and oat granola bars tomorrow.

Did a half assed post nap version of WiiU Zumba but sometimes it's not how well you do it, just that you keep doing it. The scale says I've lost some weight and I've noticed that my hump (what hump? LOL) has receded. Not so pronounced. I look forward to misplacing some belly fat so the WiiU Zumba belt doesn't come unattached regularly.

Tonight's big adventure will be beating the garbage men at their own games. Alarm is set for 4:00 am. If they come earlier than that I'm going to load up the car and drop it off at THEIR house and let stray dogs tear it up.


Monday, August 07, 2017

Just skip it if you don't want to chat about my food...LOL

Item one- Zumba at the town hall tonight for about 75 minutes. It was the biggest crowd ever. 15 or so. And I have taken to clapping and cheering with and for everyone. Five of the women there were sisters. What is that even about? It blows my mind.

Item two- I made some meatless white chili. I forgot to buy great white northern beans but had white kidney beans and they worked. I was smart enough finally to recognize that the recipe was too big. It couldn't easily be halved so I just bought the ingredients and eyeballed it. It did not taste too bad but between you and me- I'm growing a little weary of beans.

Greathusbandbob doesn't understand how brown sugar works. If it's in a container in the refrigerator for longer than 2 weeks, it's time for it to go. So tonights plan to make a baked Granny Smith apple with oatmeal brown sugar and cinnamon fell through.

And finally just to demonstrate my willpower of late, this is what I had to move aside to make dinner tonight.


Donuts and cookies. He has at least refrained from buying any ice cream kinds of deliciousness.


Saturday, August 05, 2017

We do more than plan food around here, but not much.

First I have to put this out there. Greathusbandbob for whatever foibles he may have is truly the best when he sees it hit the fan. Other times he teases and often makes jokes that cause me to ask reply "funny to who?" But when you need him he is there.

Today's case in point. A visit to the Aunt. You never know how that's going to roll. Sometimes she's happy sometimes she's cranky mean. I think we get the cranky mean because she can't be that way to anyone else. Today's visit included complaining that we missed a weekend, complaining about not being taken to the store and teasing in a "funny to who" fashion about the time as kids when we slept on a major highway in sleeping bags on lounge chairs in ocean city while the adults got drunk in the camper. She also said she wanted to be reincarnated as our dog so she could go on vacation too.

On the way home greathusbandbob points to the reality of how much we do for her, how we have essentially adopted her adult mentally impaired daughter (to which she says "she's your problem now") and how if it weren't for us she would have been unhappy and/or dead in her home three years ago. So she can complain if she wants to but we are doing the best we can and still keeping sane. However it seems we'll be going to the box store next Sunday. It has to end badly before she'll see that it's not a practical venture.

Yesterday was take cousin shopping and to lunch day. Her doctor said diet. And said something about buffets and only taking a little bit. Cousin took that as taking a little bit of Every. Single. Thing. On the buffet. It was a mound of food the likes a grown man would eat. Pretty sure that's not what the doc meant but I pick the battles. On the other hand when she went back for dessert (it was a smallish buffet) she came back with this.


She's watching her weight.

I behaved myself, had a tossed salad, a small bowl of brown rice and two honey chicken strips the size of my pinkies. Sacrificing and saying no to both egg roll and crab Rangoon. For the past two years every Saturday has been a trip to the box store followed by lunch somewhere. The new plan once school starts is early Saturday shopping (8:30ish) it's a once a month out to dinner or so. I need to reclaim some of my time for knitting friend adventures and workshops and such.

My food today and yesterday followed the rules and there was 40 minutes of WiiU Zumba each day. It burns 600+ calories. Walking for the same amount of time burns maybe 100. I am drenched when it is over every time. That can't be bad.

In other projects. I don't think I'm a lego girl. After spending some initial time with it the novelty has worn off and at some point I'm going to find a good home to give it to.

Although anxious about the high school class I am at least a little prepared. This afternoon I gathered some thoughts about how to start the year with my elementary kids. Whereas the high school prep took the first seven Mondays of summer, the ideas gathered for the little ones are enough to roll with mostly because of the "old pro" factor.

I like to start the year with a theme and this year's will be mountains- and then you use the names of mountains as words by which to learn rhythms. My words are Matterhorn, Table Mountain, Spruce Knob, Mt Fuji and Bear(I needed a one syllable mountain- let me know if you think of a better one.). There is a Bear Mountain in upstate New York and also bears live in the mountains so there's that. The cool part of the theme is that I have actually been to the first three. Looks like I need to make a trip to Japan.

There is a giant crocheted afghan called Atlanticus. I started it on vacation. There are a total of 12 parts. I just started part 9. Here's a sneak peek. It will likely fit our king size bed at some point.


And a special thanks to kmkat, Suzanne and my mom for reading and commenting. Especially when it's so few and far between when I visit the blogs of the first two. I'd probably keep writing even if I felt like I was talking to myself but your comments mean a lot and Suzanne, if I can do it, so can you. 7% in a year works for me. Kmkat- when are you traveling this way? and mama, it was easier than a bunch of complaining venting texts. Have a good week all.


Thursday, August 03, 2017

Sorry about all the food posts but it does keep me motivated.

So today it was wild rice, green beans, total and soy milk, summer vegetable soup, salad, fried eggs and whole grain english muffins and a very berry smoothie.

This smoothie had blackberries, blueberries and strawberries in it- although you can't tell in the picture, it was a spectacular purple color.  What you couldn't taste was that it had half a bag of spinach in it which is about 14 calories but I believe added some bulk to it making it feel at least a little bit like ice cream- the thing I miss the most.  It felt ice cream enough for today.

Wild rice served as today's "filler." I had it with green beans (which came fresh from a zumba friend's garden) and I put some in the summer vegetable soup.  Speaking of that soup, a little lemon zest goes a long (very long) way.  I think the combined acid of the tomato brings out the lemon even more.  

I still have tomatoes, cucumbers, a red onion and a red pepper from the farmers market.  It was going to be a cold  soup (gazpacho as it were) with pureed tomato but that's a lot like the hot soup from yesterday.  I'm thinking that tomorrow I will just make a cucumber/tomato salad with some red wine vinegar and olive oil.  It will be delicious with cottage cheese.  It seems a waste to puree fresh garden tomatoes.  I'll have too much so I'll take some to the cousin who likely doesn't eat a whole lot of fresh vegetables.

So I had some ideas about other foods.  Barley is calling to me as is buckwheat flour.  I'm thinking I might be able to make some buckwheat cakes (like pancakes) to trick me into believing its a gluten-y carb.  Barley feels like a thick food and I have images of it sticking onto broccoli in some sort of mixture.  I'm going to have to give that more thought.

I found a seemingly easy recipe for granola so that is going on the "to try" list.

Let's talk about sugar and carbs.  I think I am getting plenty of sugar in the fruits I've been eating.  I did add a little equal to sweeten both of the smoothies.  I opted for that instead of trying to figure out what medjool dates are and how they work.

My body isn't demanding sweet sweet carbs (cookies cakes etc) as it was when I started this.  I look at them longingly knowing that "nothing tastes as good as healthy feels" and I can resist.  And let's just say that resisting is more than just not buying them.  Greathusbandbob always has a refrigerator full of baked goods for his evening treats.  It's partly what got me into this mess in the first place.

On the second to last Friday before school starts (tomorrow), I'm going to try clean out my car and put things together for the start of school.  There are some things in the secret basement room that came home with me two years ago that didn't make it back last year.  

I'm a little anxious about the new class at the high school.  I know I'll be a genius but I just want to know what I'm going to have to do to be that.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

On today's menu...

Summer Vegetable Soup
From the book-

Sroufe, Del. Forks Over Knives - The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

So it begins-

A list of things that I had never done before today-

Bought vegetables at a farmer's market that I actually had a plan for

Cut fresh corn from the cob. (thank you google)- had I tried it on my own I would have just used a cutting board.  I cut the cobs in half, put them on the upside down bowl and was able to cut all the way down without danger.

Peel tomatoes. (thanks again google) I had no idea.  I scored a little x on the bottom, dropped them in boiling water for 20 seconds and moved them to a bowl of ice water.  Zip zip zip.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Speaking of lemon- I learned how to acquire and make use of lemon zest.- no pics of that.

The most important decision I made was to go with two pots.  This recipe clearly called for a bigger pot.  In the past I would have tried to stuff it all in and see what happens only later to have a mess.  Not this time.  It was a two pot venture.

The final product looks a little something like this-

Just as the last dish was washed, greathusbandbob came in.  He has no idea the chaos he missed.  That cracks me up a little.

In a huge fit of crack me up some more- he walked in and said "they gave me these two zucchinis if there's anything you can do with them."

The plan is to freeze most of the soup in individual ziplock bags and have it as an option for dinner.

In other news, what with the boy gone- he left yesterday- we have easy access to our tv again.  I tried out the wiiU zumba game.  It was a win. You wear a goofy wrestling belt with the controller tucked into it.  I got as much of a workout as I do on Mondays and Thursdays.

The Letter arrived today.  I'm so glad she waited until August to send it. We report back to work on August 14.  Students begin on August 17.  And so begins another year.