Friday, July 30, 2010

The buckle

No time for the Friday quote today, but for Elizabeth, who commented yersterday, here's the closure on the belt I used for the bag handle.

Have a great weekend; quote will be up Monday, if I remember!

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Done, done, done, done, done. Finally.

I give you, the Neverending Everlasting Bagstopper.

The buttonhole in the middle of the garter-in-the-round casing.
Three-needle bind off, stronger than sewing the casing.

Casing complete, canvas belt inserted as handle.

More boring detail of casing/handle.

Ready to shop!
 Now it's on to the dream project. Questions about the bag? Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Almost done, done, done!

The Neverending Everlasting Onandonandon Bagstopper is almost finished. I changed the top of it a bit. The pattern suggested sewing a heavy ribbon on to the top for a handle. I was inspired by my drawstring-top kitchen trash can liner to create a channel with a couple openings. Eight more rows to knit and I'll be ready to insert an old canvas belt to use as a handle.

Pictures soon … maybe as soon as tomorrow!

My knitting to-do list keeps growing. I need to make a Christmas stocking and a blanket for our newest granddaughter. I want to make some flip-top mittens for her mother (can't remember the name of my favorite pattern for these but I'll let you know tomorrow), I think they might come in handy for her (at least as handy as they are for marksmen and photographers!). I also want to make some Mr. Flurry toys for that family of grandchildren. (The link takes you to a page of several patterns; you'll need to register – it's free – to download them.)

And, of course, there's my dream felting project. I might be able to cast on for that tomorrow. When I'm not making mozzarella. We're having company this weekend and they're looking forward to made-from-scratch pizza Friday night.

I am, too, as a matter of fact!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A morning rainbow!

What a surprise! We hardly ever see them before 4 p.m.!

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

I write like …

Stole this idea from GS. I just can't seem to come up with anything original these days!


I write like
Cory Doctorow
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Now I have to go look up who Cory Doctorow is. I'm pitiful. I wouldn't have to look up E.L. Doctorow, I even have some of his books.

Okay, Cory is a science-fiction writer – my least favorite genre. I used my blog post from July 22 for analysis. What's so creepy about that one?

For a not-much-of-anything post, I sure have a lot of links today, don't I?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Look! It's a cloud!

I totally stole this from D, and I love it! I kept hitting the random button until I got a color combo I liked, then printed it and it's hanging on the wall behind my monitor.

I love that the words "plan" and "like" pop out right away, while you have to look hard to find "work" and "project." Heh. "Energy" carries the same weight as "husband" and "marathon." There's certainly some hidden meaning there, eh? "Uninspired" and "inspired" are equal in size. Apparently they're equal in importance in my "life," which is the same size as "uninspired" and "inspired." And "comfortable," which is odd, because my life motto has always been "Comfort is my racket."

Wanna make your own Wordle? Go here.

We got some real clouds, along with real wind and real rain, yesterday afternoon – a welcome sight, indeed. Less than a quarter of an inch of rain, but enough to cool things off a bit. I was in the garden Saturday afternoon and was a sweaty mess after only 10 minutes of poking around. I have a row of new snow peas coming up that badly need weeding. Today's the day.

Mix clouds and rain with a hit of sunshine and what do you get? This!

It didn't last long, but kept getting stronger in intensity until all the colors – even the violet – showed up. I love how the sky above the arc is darker than it is below it. No Photoshopping involved. (And you can see from the state of the, um, lawn, how badly we needed that little bit of rain.)

Here's hoping your week is filled with rainbows. And just the right amount of rain. And a little less heat, while we're hoping.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Quote Day

It takes as much energy to wish
as it does to plan.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Of course once you make the plan it takes more energy to carry it out.

You can wish to run a marathon, put it on your bucket list, add it to your goals, blah, blah, blah, but creating a training schedule moves the marathon from a wish to a project. Once the plan is down on paper (or smartphone or spreadsheet, but I like paper), then you have to do something with it. No more wishin' and hopin' – it's time for doin'!

Same with knitting, but you don't burn as many calories. My dream project is still in the wish stage. I haven't even pulled a stitch dictionary off the shelf yet. Soon, though, I'll be casting on, making notes and creating something beautiful and interesting and even, maybe, useful. I've decided I really am a one-project-at-a-time kinda gal, so the bag will be finished before I even pull out the yarn for the dream project.

I'm not quite there with the marathon or, obviously, the knitting, but I've seen, enjoyed, tasted the fruits – er, vegetables  – of my garden plan. Exhibit A, last night's dinner:

Dinner from the Back Yard: A Study in Vegetables
 The parmesan on the squash with tomato sauce came from the grocery. The milk for the cottage cheese came from my friend's cow, as did the butter for the corn on the cob. Everything else came from the back yard: beets and greens; squash, tomatoes, basil and garlic; all the ingredients for cole slaw (except the ingredients in the homemade mayo), and that quintessential summer staple, corn on the cob.

Even our dinnerware came from the potter who lives at the end of our road.

I'm not growing enough food to feed my husband and me for a year – that wasn't the plan. But just about the only things I've bought at the grocery this summer have been vinegar, sugar, flour and pretzels. (My name is Debbi and I'm a pretzel addict. Have a pickle. Heh.)

You'll notice there's no meat on the table. We were satisfied at the end of the meal, but hungry a couple hours later. Lack of protein will do that to you. A bowl of popcorn was a nice treat and a good way to end a day of hard work – moving the box springs and mattress, making 14 pints of bread-and-butter pickles, and cooking all that wonderful food! My kitchen was a wreck at the end of it all, but a satisfying wreck it was.

I hope you all can wreck your kitchens this weekend as pleasantly and abundantly as I did yesterday. Have a good one!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Decisions, decisions

My life is a whirlwind of activity right now. My husband and I (mostly my husband) decided the guest room should be a Guest Room – get rid of what doesn't belong there and keep only what makes it look, feel and work to make visitors comfortable.

I had a hodgepodge of stuff crammed into a Target modular storage unit, all of which has been discarded or relocated. The storage unit will be heading to the Amish bakery (or perhaps to one of the Amish barns) so they can cram their stuff into it. (I thought it was trés cool to show the girl in the bakery a picture of the storage unit from my BlackBerry. She didn't bat an eye about the technology, but loved the storage piece!)

I decided to divest myself of some yarn. Don't worry, though, I still have a lifetime supply, and there's always elann.com, should I run low. Heh.

I decided running up and down the stairs multiple times at my mother-in-law's house counts as a workout, and not eating all day until dinner counts as a diet plan. I don't have to like it, but that's the way yesterday turned out.

(To go along with that, I very much decided I like running outdoors when the humidity is low and the temperature is moderate is my favorite form of exercise. I might get back to it in, oh, a month or two. Please don't look at my hips in the meantime. Heh.)

I decided I need to be the Mentalist to convince myself that eating a dill pickle is as satisfying as eating chocolate. Honestly, I tried the dill pickle trick first, but then I had a glass of chocolate milk right before bed. Slept like a baby! Mmmmmmm, chocolate milk!

Next decision is whether to start a new knitting project or not. I dreamed it and am sooooo anxious to cast on, but I'm usually a one-project-at-a-time kinda gal, and the Everlasting Neverending Bagstopper seems to be living up to its new name. yo, k2tog, yawn. Maybe I'll reward myself with the new project: Work 30 minutes on the bag and then cast on for the project to be revealed at a later date. I can't wait to work out the details of it.

Before I knit, though, we still have to pick up the box springs and mattress for the guest room bed. Lugging large heavy things counts as another workout. That's my decision, and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When you've got nothin' to say …

say nothing.

I was MIA yesterday because I was comPLETEly uninspired. I'm not much more inspired today.

It's raining. And raining. This looks like an all-day soaker with flash-flood warnings on the tail end of the day.

My agenda? Shampooing the carpet in the guest bedroom. I'd originally planned to move the furniture to the patio outside that room. Now it looks like I'll have to do one side and then the other.

We donated the twin beds that used to be in there to the Alderson Hospitality House. We're moving a queen-sized bed that has been stored at my mother-in-law's house in to replace it. (My exercise for Monday was moving furniture.) The transfer of sleeping accommodations should be complete by the end of the day tomorrow, just in time for visitors!

Actually they won't be here until the end of the month, but why wait? Deadlines make me crazy.

Still working on the Everlasting Bagstopper. At this stage it should be called the Neverending Bagstopper. The pattern stitch for the body of the bag is this:

Round 1: yo, k2tog
Round 2: k

You do that forever and eventually you end up with a bag. If you don't die of boredom first. I might need a good movie or a close Yankees game in order to finish this thing.

This rain is, of course, good for the gardens and lawns around here. The grass has been crunchy-dry for a month now. Saves on gas for the mower, but it's not very pretty and you certainly don't want to walk barefoot on it.

My crisper runneth over with zucchini. I'm pretty sure they like rain, so there will be more tomorrow. I usually end up stuffing freezer bags with two-cup portions of shreds to use in bread and cake later. No blanching necessary, just thaw and drain and it's good to go. Looks awful, but works fine.

That's about it from Uninspiredville ... thanks again for all your comments. Looks like a pickle revolution might be starting. We'll probably have more interest in eating dills than in a more meaningful revolution, like getting corporate money out of the political landscape.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Before and after

Hah. The hits I'll get from that title! People are always looking for before-and-after weight-loss photos. Won't they be surprised?

On Sunday, in addition to all the other things I did around here, I turned this (I actually began with half a bushel):
Cucumbers, fresh from Elora's garden. We traded dill for cukes.
 into this!
Fifteen pints plus two quarts of garlic dills.
All the little lids popped, creating a tight seal, and I now have more pickles than my husband and I will eat in a year. I threatened to send some to my oldest granddaughter for Christmas. She thought that was a dandy idea. My dad is coming for a visit from Florida soon, and I told him to make room in the RV for a jar or two.

Elora suggested eating a pickle whenever I felt the need to snack. She said that was one of her weight-loss tricks (she's managed to shed 27 pounds this year!). And I've read (because I read every word of weight-loss advice out there), that eating a dill pickle when you want something sweet is a good way to get rid of the craving.

Of course, you first must convince your mind that a dill pickle is a good substitute for a handful of chocolate chips. If you figure out how to do that, do let me know.

Thanks for all your comments. Ever since I said I don't get many comments, I've been getting comments! I didn't even ask (really), and I have received! I'm still getting them from the Inscrutable Asian Commenter, but they get rejected immediately. Power! Domination!

I should have been an Amazon. At least I'd be tall enough for my weight. Heh.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Quote Day

Life is all about timing ...
the unreachable becomes reachable,
the unavailable becomes available,
the unattainable ... attainable.

Have the patience, wait it out.
~ Stacey Charter

I would add: The inedible becomes edible. Heh.

One thing I've learned in the past 59 years is patience. Of course, it took me most of those years to learn it!

But patience is serving me well these days. A change in attitude (weight loss is not the ultimate goal, although it has been a nice by-product) mixed with a cup of patience and a pound of energy and you've got a recipe for peace and serenity on an almost daily basis.

(For someone like me, not drinking helps, too. I believe the root of my serenity is my abstinence from alcohol.)

Gardening and knitting are both excellent exercises in patience, or at least in delayed gratification. (So, according to my daughter, is making Jell-O.) Becoming more process-oriented, rather than product-oriented, allows one to enjoy the journey, rather than simply focusing on the destination and possibly becoming frustrated with the length of the trip.

I walked/ran/jogged again yesterday, and cut 28 seconds off my time from Tuesday. I wasn't really trying to go faster, that's just how it worked out. I felt great every step of the way, and even though the route is deadeningly familiar to me, I enjoyed noticing the landscape around me. Fresh-cut grass, a distant woodpecker, a white tail disappearing into the woods. A neighbor's neat-and-tidy garden (my squash are taking over!).

I also enjoyed noticing that I wasn't struggling with the effort. I felt strong going up the hills and in control coming back down. My breathing was steady, not labored. It wasn't effortless, but it certainly was enjoyable.

I never thought the day would come when I could write that last paragraph. Have the patience, wait it out.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Did I tell you I ran the other day?

And I'm knitting, too?

And the knitting is not for the baby! I found a pattern on Knitty a long time ago for a mesh bag (perfect for the farmer's market) and started it a couple nights ago. It will scrunch up small enough to stash in my purse. Even though I have cloth bags hanging on a hook in my garage, and a couple cloth bags in my car, I still forget to carry them in to the grocery. Eventually I will remember; perhaps this bag will help.

It won't, by itself, be large enough for a load of groceries, so I'll have to either leave the check-out line to get a bag from the car or buy only enough to fit in one bag. (That won't work very well because the nearest grocery is 12 miles away and I'd be driving to and from the store every day and we can't have that, can we? We're trying to cut back on fossil fuel consumption, not add to it!)

The running wasn't really running, more like jogging, but definitely faster than walking. Or trudging. The first mile of my route is nearly all uphill, so that slows my overall pace considerably. The second two miles of my three-mile out-and-back trip were at about a 12-minute pace. Not too bad for an old lady who hasn't run in, um, let's just say months (March 30, according to my records), shall we?

That's a six-inch ruler to show you how big these are!
I'm still reaping and eating, too. Blogger rejected my carrot photo. (Nothing against carrots, it also rejected a beautiful mandevilla blossom. Also? Facebook thought the carrot photo was perfectly appropriate. Harumph.) I pulled three carrots yesterday, each of which was about 10 inches long! I was astonished! I've been pulling smaller carrots for a month or so, but these were impressive. As big as store-bought, and much, much tastier. (Obviously I was able to go back in and add the photo later. Am I impressed with my green thumb? You betcha!)

I also picked three lovely tomatoes which went right into last night's pasta sauce. The salad was full of back-yard goodies: the lettuce, onion, celery and tomato were homegrown; the radish came from Elora (it was the biggest radish I've ever seen, I thought it was a beet at first!).

Free food! Music to a dieter's ear. Heh.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's come to this

I hate having to moderate comments, but I also hate getting comment spam. Someone (or more than one) has been leaving foreign-language comments for months now, mostly on Fridays. But there were two yesterday and I guess that put me over the top.

I don't get a lot of comments, and I look forward to the ones I do get. Except for the ones from China, Japan or Korea – I don't know the language.

So comment moderation is on. Fortunately, I'll be able to approve comments pretty quickly, thanks to the BlackBerry.

Since I've gotten this phone, I'm only online on my desktop computer for about an hour a day. I get up in the morning, fire up the tower, read/print/delete and turn it off. But the BB keeps my e-mail coming all day long. It's just on a tiny screen instead of a 22-inch flatscreen monitor.

I. Love. This. Phone.

I love having a camera that fits in my pocket. I send garden pictures to my dad and my oldest granddaughter almost every day. Dad is very interested in my gardening efforts (and will be visiting soon to see it in person!), and my granddaughter was here last month helping me weed it. There was very little to harvest when she was here, so she loves seeing what kind of progress it's made.

Like beets, for instance. In addition to the boatload of greens I was given (they're all cleaned, blanched and frozen, finally), I also have a row of Chioggas. We ate a few last month, but I harvested most of the rest of the row yesterday and sent this picture to her. She was astonished and impressed. She's also watching the pumpkins and corn and tomatoes and beans and … you get the idea.

If I were lugging the Rebel around, I'd certainly be getting better images, but I'd have to transfer them from the media card to the computer, edit them, resize them and then create an e-mail to send them. The BB takes the shots, asks me how I want to share them and then sends them off, all from the middle of the garden.

LOVE IT!

But I don't love comments I have to translate. So if you (I'm looking at you, Asian commenter) are reading this and you want to comment, say it in English. Or even French (I'm not bilingual, but I do know a little French). You'll have a much better chance of having your comment published.

One more photo. I snagged this one last night on the way home from my volunteer gig at the prison. In fact, the prison might be at the end of that rainbow. The inmates were in a grateful mood last night; many of them have come to the conclusion that their sentences have saved their lives. It's hard to argue with that, considering the lives they used to lead. I know I'm grateful for the opportunity to share an hour a week with them. They certainly give me lots to think about. And lots for which to be grateful.

Like my new cell phone! Heh.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mother and daughter are doing fine

Because our daughter-in-law's first pregnancy ended in a C-section (a foregone conclusion with triplets), the second one was, as well. No complications, everyone is fine. The baby weighed a healthy 7 lb. 8 oz.

All of our children are internet-shy when it comes to their children, so I don't post photos or name names. We love her name, and are looking forward to meeting her.

I got rained out of doing beet greens yesterday after the first batch. My porch isn't covered enough to work outside, and I don't have anywhere near the room I needed inside to sort a laundry basket full of greens! The rain was most welcome, though, after the last couple weeks of dry, hot weather, no one around here was cursing the rain.

I made a lovely batch of cottage cheese, which we'll have with dinner tonight. Also made chili for dinner, because on a coolish rainy day, chili just sounded good.

The garden is taking less and less hard physical labor these days, so I need to get my mind back into doing intentional activity. I guess. I'm going to take a walk this morning, probably five miles. I'd rather be pulling or pounding something, sweating with a purpose, but the only "job" I have to do today is update a business card design for a client and print a couple hundred. That's a sitting-on-my-ass job, not a make-me-sweat job.

Sorting beet greens is a sitting-on-my-ass job, as well. Making a five-mile walk all the more necessary for fitness and health. Weight loss? We'll see.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Today's the day!

Between the two of us, my husband and I have six grandchildren, but by this afternoon, we'll have seven! Our triplet grandsons will be big brothers sometime this afternoon, when their little sister is delivered by C-section.

Nowadays, when it's customary to find out a new baby's gender early on in the pregnancy, the mystery seems to be the name. When my children were born, we chose names for a boy and a girl and told everyone who asked. My daughter and her husband shared their children's names (they are 13 and nine) prior to their birth days, but we didn't know my three-year-old granddaughter's or the triplets' names until they made their way into the world.

I'm anxious to learn the new little one's name, can you tell?

I've made her a tiny seed-stitch sweater (which still needs buttons, you'd think in the vast collection of buttons I've amassed over the years I could find six perfect matching buttons, but NOOOOO), and I'm nearly finished with her Doddy. I'll make her a blanket next, but since it's July, and I know she's well-stocked, I'm in less of a hurry to work on that. (I can't find the link to the pattern, but it's a simple garter-stitch square with a feather-and-fan lace edging.)

Today's also the day I freeze a huge bag of beet greens, a gift from my friend Elora, who must have canned a hundred jars of beets yesterday. When I picked them up, the greens were soaking in a wheelbarrow; that gives you an idea of how large the gift was. I have a few mature beets left in the garden and a new row is just starting to sprout, so we'll have a few more before the season ends.

I've been picking beans – yellow, green and Romano – and snow peas every day for a week now, and they keep on coming, that being the nature of beans and peas. Ten pounds in the freezer so far. The first tomato was eaten for dinner last night, but it won't be long before we'll have more than we can eat, and I'll be canning tomatoes until I can't can any more.

Here's the recipe for last night's meal. Next time I make it, I'll be using my own fresh mozzarella, now that Elora's milk cow is back in business. Fresh mozza from the grocery was an okay substitute, but I think Marigold's will taste much better. Next time I make it I'm adding a clove of crushed garlic for a little extra kick.

Before I quit, my husband and I went to a birthday party yesterday for his high-school English teacher, who is 106 years old today. She was surprisingly alert and chipper at the party, and even gave a little speech. The funniest part was that whenever someone wished her a happy birthday, she replied, "And happy birthday to you, too!" Such a sweetie.

Would you want to live that long? I'm on the fence. Who knows what kind of advances will be made in the next 47 years (I'll be 106 then)?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Quote Day

However beautiful the strategy,
you should occasionally look at the results.
~ Winston Churchill

Well, duh.

This applies to sooooo many things going on in my world right now. But since this blog started as a vehicle for my blathering about weight loss and fitness, let's start there.

My husband thinks taking a long walk every day is the path to enlightenment, both mental and physical. At one time I would not have argued with him, because I read all the popular literature and watched all the health segments on the news that say walking is the path to enlightment.

And I walked. And ran. And didn't lose any weight. (Because we all know that enlightenment means thin, right?)

The outdoor work I've been doing this spring and summer have produced more weight-loss results than the last three years of aerobic activity. This 'work,' if one can call it that, involves heavy lifting with a purpose. It engages my body and my mind. It doesn't bore me and it takes a lot of time.

There's not as much to do right now. Plants are well established. Everything is producing. My garden of graves has been knocked down (where all the early crops were) and it's looking more like a traditional garden with tidy rows of newly planted seeds. (The graves were overkill; I can plant more stuff in the same space on flat ground. I tried to find a picture on an earlier blog entry, but I can't.) But the bounty that keeps coming in takes a lot of time to pick, prepare and preserve.

In other words, there's no boredom in gardening. And if there's no boredom, there's no mindless snacking.

Going back to the heavy lifting with a purpose, though, it seems to me that's key to the couple of pounds that have left me lately. I'm going to come up with some kind of project for fall – building something or digging a new garden bed, maybe – that will tide me over until cold weather comes. Maybe, maybe, I'll have lost a few more pounds by then and will have an incentive to lift dumbbells instead of shovels full of dirt, once the snow flies.

Have a great weekend. Looks like rain is moving in, and maybe cooler temperatures for a couple days. That would be most welcome!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Worm karma

I hope, hope, hope the worm karma gods will look kindly on me and my ignorance.

I have five healthy dill plants in my little herb garden. I have no cucumbers right now, but will eventually, and I've also agreed to trade dill for cucumbers with my gardening guru. So when I walked past the dill yesterday and saw some little worms munching away, I admit I panicked.

I grabbed a glove, picked those suckers off and squished them. Then I left a message for my friend, asking her what might be eating our dill. Just for good measure, I also took a photo and e-mailed it to her.

Blurry photo of a future swallowtail butterfly.
She called back, too late to save some of the worms, but in time to rescue at least one, and probably more today.

These "dill worms" are swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. They eventually travel to Mexico, because it isn't hot enough in West Virginia, apparently. The last thing I would ever want to do is single-handedly decimate the butterfly population in southern West Virginia. Or Mexico.

They remind me of hornworms, only much littler, and Elora explained that I don't need to kill those, either. I watched hornworms strip clean the top of a tomato plant a couple years ago, so I'm not inclined to save their lives, but she says the white bumps on top of hornworms actually are wasp eggs, and that's a good thing.

I'll take her word for it. Future hornworms will be deposited in the woods behind our house. Future dill worms will be placed in an old flower pot with the one in the picture, with their own dill head for snacking.

It's a small sacrifice. I do what I can.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Finished Product

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

It's not the heat. It's the … heat.

Yes, it's the humidity, too, but damn. This heat is relentless and miserable and I don't even live in Florida! My morning garden-perimeter walk leaves me sweaty at 6 a.m. I'm so glad I don't work on a road crew. I'm thrilled that I don't have to look forward to putting a roof on someone's house today. Thank God (or the Goddess, or another deity of your choice) that my afternoon will be spent at the garden center, under the cool shade of the sycamore trees, next to a river.

The zucchini and onions have been sitting in a salt brine overnight, and while canning relish is a hot job, at least I'll be doing it in the air-conditioned comfort of my kitchen. My summer kitchen is the same as my spring, fall and winter kitchen, except the windows are shut tight and the AC is humming.

In the olden days, the summer kitchen – a separate building just for preparing food – was built away from the house, so the heat from cooking didn't build up in the main dwelling. In addition to a fireplace and cookstove, the summer kitchen usually had a large work surface to accommodate the many vessels, cooking and otherwise, needed for the canning process.

I might have to move the coffeemaker outside, just so my husband doesn't get tangled up in the canning jars. Heh.

In addition to all the zucchini I picked and shredded for relish, there were a couple pretty big ones that I stuffed and baked for dinner. Here's what I did:
  • Wash zucchini, then split down the center lengthwise.
  • Scoop out the seed cavity.
  • In a saucepan or skillet, brown a pound of sausage. Add chopped onions, celery, tomato, garlic and breadcrumbs (a couple cups). Let it cook until the vegetables are tender. Stir in about a quarter cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Fill the zucchini "boats" with the sausage mixture.
  • Place in a large baking dish and cover with foil.
  • Bake at 325° for about 40 minutes.
Yum!

Finally, I'll leave you with this, my new BlackBerry wallpaper photo. I've been using one of BB's stock photos of a yellow sunflower, but I like my red ones better. I like zucchini, but not enough to have it on my phone.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's that time of year ...

Once zucchini starts coming it doesn't quit for a long, long time. There are tales of people locking their car doors when they go to church to ward off gifts of zucchini from generous neighbors. So far this year we've had it grilled and sautéed; tonight I'm scooping out a couple of bigger ones and baking them stuffed with a sausage/bread crumb/zucchini/onion mixture.

My favorite thing to do with excess zucchini is to make relish. I've lost my favorite recipe from years ago, and am searching Chef Internet to find a reasonable substitute. Most of the recipes I've looked at so far are very similar … grate a bunch of zucchini and onions, mix with salt, let it sit overnight, drain, mix in chopped red and/or green peppers and spices, cook for half an hour. Ladle into jars, process in a boiling water bath and you've got enough relish for a year. And it's practically free, if you don't count the time you spent preparing the garden bed, planting the seeds and weeding the hills.

My peppers won't be red for a while, so I'll have to pick up a couple at the grocery. Grrr. In the meantime, though, you'll find me in the kitchen, shredding zukes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Holy energy savings, Batman!

I installed a retractable clothesline about a month ago. We have plenty of space, sun and gentle breezes, but it just never occurred to me to put one up until I visited the Green Festival when we went to Chicago in May. Not only was line drying something of a mission there, clotheslines were used in a couple of non-clothesline vendor displays.

So I figured if clotheslines were trendy (heh), I might as well jump on board.

I knew, of course, that line-drying is gentler on your clothing than machine-drying. That's why the tag on your delicates suggests you "hang" or "lay flat" to dry. And I read somewhere recently that the clothes dryer users a huge amount of energy in the whole appliance scheme of things. I figured I would not only extend the life of our garments, but might just reduce our kilowatt usage, as well.

I had no idea how much.

We get three electric bills every month, one for the house, one for the garage and one for our water pump, because each location has its own meter. So it was pretty easy when the bill came over the weekend to see that the clothesline was a good investment.

Our garage is two stories, the upper floor of which is an office/family room; the laundry room is in the lower portion. My computer is upstairs, along with a big-screen television. The building is completely insulated and has a heat pump for comfort.

As you can see from the usage chart, May's estimated usage was 644KWH, and in June we used only 29KWH. Comparing last year to this year, in 2009 we topped 700KWH.

Apparently we were very comfortable last year!

Honestly, though, we haven't been uncomfortable at all this year. We've limited the use of the room, simply because we have a little den in the house where we watch television these days. I use the computer first thing in the morning, when it's coolest, and I turn it off when I leave the room. We keep the windows open to let the breeze blow through, as well.

I realize I'm kind of comparing apples to oranges, since no one actually physically read the meter in May. I'm going to submit our usage for July, instead of having it estimated, and hope to see similar energy savings next month.

Of course, energy isn't the only thing we saved. Our bill went from more than 60 bucks last month to … get ready … $6.61. I kid you not. I figure I'm using the dryer about half an hour a week instead of my former six to seven.

All in all, my $10 investment for a ticket to the Green Festival and my $30 investment in the clothesline and clothespins have already been paid back, in the form of energy savings. Good for the checking account and good for the planet.

How are you saving energy, now that the heat of summer is upon us?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Quote Day

Do what you can,
with what you have,
where you are.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

Sounds pretty straightforward … until you don't have one of the elements you need, or, in my case, what you have is a slow metabolism that wants to hang on to every pound you've piled on for the last five years. Heh.

I was so pleased to report yesterday that I'd lost eight pounds in six months. That's a minor miracle, considering the amount of time, effort, planning, blood, sweat and tears I've put into The Losing Weight Project during my lifetime. (Sounds like it should be a Facebook page, doesn't it?)

However, I woke up this morning thinking, 'If I could lose five pounds a month for the next six months, I'll be thisclose to my goal weight!'

The obsession doesn't go away just because you write a sensible, realistic, grateful-for-the-eight-pounds-lost blog post.

Along with the Roosevelt quote at the top of the page, I need to say the Serenity Prayer a little more often.

Like maybe instead of grace before each meal?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nailed it!

Not only have I lost a pound a month since 1/1/10, I've now lost EIGHT pounds! I'm not sure what happened in June to rocket me into the weight-loss stratosphere, but hey, I'll take it.

Heh.

Anyone else would be jumping into a strawberry shortcake by now, wouldn't they? Eight pounds in six months is nothing to brag about. But if you've destroyed your metabolism as a result of a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, eight pounds in six months is … well, I used that title yesterday.

One of my commenters noted that I'm living a life that "automatically includes healthy food and lots of activity." I hesitate to say this, but maybe this is how normal people maintain a normal weight. When they're too busy to eat, they don't eat. And they don't make up the missed meal at the next eating opportunity.

During half-marathon training, I paid strict attention to my food intake, lest I run out of gas on a long run. Or even a short run. I now find myself eating when I'm hungry if food is available (which it frequently isn't), stopping when I'm satisfied (but not stuffed) and moving on to the next activity, whether it be task or hobby.

I'd like to take this food attitude with me when I start training again. I'm quite sure I have enough reserves to get through most training runs. A packet of sport beans in my shorts pocket should be insurance, not a snack to look forward to.

Thanks to those of you who said they've enjoyed watching my garden grow. Frankly, I hope this childlike delight sticks with me as long as I'm able to dig in the dirt. It's a whole lot more fun to pull an onion out of my back yard than out of a grocery bag!