2018 Aspirations: July

I didn’t do an update post for June, nothing much happened that month.  We were on vacation the first 10 days and then there was the adjustment to school being out.  I did read “10% Happier” by Dan Harris and began to think about how I could use meditation to battle my sugar craving hormones.  July has been more productive.

Be Healthier

  1. I did a 10 day sugar detox which has helped me stop snacking.
  2. I am getting much better about eating all my CSA vegetables.  Chocolate beet cake counts, right? (Of course it was before the sugar detox!)
  3. I survived a 19 day period and a lot of hot flashes.  Combined with triple digit heat and humidity and insane hormonal swings (I cry at everything: The Cubs hit into a double play, tears.  Someone bakes a beautiful cake on the Great British Baking show, tears. It is nuts!) survival was something of a miracle.
  4. I am doing a good job of meditating and deep breathing every day.
  5. My frozen shoulder is being difficult.  I am still doing my PT almost everyday but I can tell when the hormones are surging because my range of motion decreases and I have more pain.

Be Happier

  1. We went camping for a week in the rainy mountains and I loved the cooler air.
  2. I deactivated my Facebook account.  It was a real time suck and didn’t make me feel particularly happy.
  3. I realized I want to spend less time on the computer, took a blogging break and decided to revamp my blog. (Still a work in progress)
  4. Signed up for an 8 week on-line writing course that starts fortuitously the day after school resumes for my son. I hope this makes me happier, right now the thought of it is making me anxious.  What if I fail?
  5. Embraced the fact that I like listening to the Cubs on the radio more than watching them on tv.  I do coloring and needlepoint or fix dinner while listening to the games on-line.
  6. I bought a new car but kept my beloved Saab.  We stumbled on a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek Limited with only 6k miles.  Buying it was kind of a no brainer. Icy Metallic Silver is the color, a perfect name in the desert heat.
  7. A bouquet of zinnia’s from the farmer’s market.  Such a wonderful variety of colors!  Sorry I didn’t take a picture.

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I haven’t taken many pictures of her yet, it has been way too hot!  Here she is on her first road trip to Willcox.

There you have it, July in a nutshell. I like to think I am a little healthier and a little happier.  Yeah me!

The Week in Review 6/27/2018

Summer Solstice:  We went all out celebrating the Solstice.  First we had a picnic lunch in our yard.  We ate the Peanuts Thanksgiving meal:  popcorn, pretzel sticks, jelly beans and toast. After dinner we took a long swim staying in the pool until dark.  Which is only ~8:15p here.  We got ready for bed and then came outside and looked at the stars and the moon and the creepy shadows until 10:00p.  I laid in the hammock and my son had the swing. I thought about sleeping out all night but as it was still 90° at 9:00p we decided to pass.  Plus there is the whole bobcat, scorpion, rattlesnake fears.  We used the lanterns we made earlier this summer (pictured above).  We decorated jars with glitter glue and put in fairy lights.  In the dark it looks like a jar of fireflies, so cool.

A Mild Annoyance:  I switched to a school year planner a few years ago finding it worked better for me.  This year I ordered a planner on-line and didn’t realize it started in August and my current planner ends in June.  Oops. I don’t think I will be ordering a planner on-line again.  I don’t love the one I got dates aside.  It is a little too busy for me.

Something Worrisome:   The cashier at the commissary had a very odd moment.  In the middle of checking out my groceries she paused.  There were bananas sitting on the scale and I thought she was trying to remember the PLU number.  Then she asked ” did you hand me five-oh-nine or five-eighteen?”  I thought she was asking me what the PLU number was and responded with a “huh”?  There was clearly a sticker with the number right on top of the bananas.  Then she asked if I just handed her some money.  What? She looked blank a moment then rang up something that came to $40.11 which she then voided.  She looked at the bananas again and then said something about taking some allergy medicine which had made her sleepy. She finished ringing up the rest of my groceries and as I was driving home I began to wonder if she had had a small stroke or something.  I felt like I should have said something to the manager who had to come over because of the void.  I have been worried about that poor woman ever since.

Throwback Reading:  I think I may have invented the term but I know I am not the only one re-reading favorite childhood books.  I just indulged myself with the purchase of the whole “Ramona” series by Beverly Cleary.  My son and I have read them together (checked out from the library) over the last few years but I decided I really wanted to read them in order over the summer to myself.  So I splurged on buying a set and am so happy I did.  I got a paperback version in a cardboard case and they have wonderful drawings scattered throughout.  Bonus, my son decided to re-read them also.

CSA:  I have been loving my CSA (community supported agriculture) pickup every Sunday.  One less thing I have to think about and to my surprise I am even enjoying the beets.  I made Harvard Beets with the first batch and roasted the second with olive oil and fresh thyme from my one and only herb plant. And I found the easiest squash recipe ever from Susan Branch:  slice squash very thin (you can do yellow or zucchini), heat up some Italian salad dressing and pour over.  I let it sit on the counter 20 to 30 minutes and then popped it in the fridge.  I took it out about 30 minutes before dinner, it was cool and refreshing.  Very tasty in the hot weather.

Our one day of rain from Hurricane Bud led our cat’s claw to bloom.  So nice to see some color.

How are you enjoying summer?

2018 Aspirations Summary: April

April was rather crazy.  I felt like I was failing at everything and then I realized what I am actually doing is learning. Finding out what doesn’t work for my eating habits can be just as helpful and valuable as finding out what does work.

Be Healthier

This month I am going to focus on what I am doing well at or at least better. I started visiting the farmer’s market on Sunday mornings and buying lovely fruits and vegetables. And eating them! They also have wild caught fish from Alaska that is hand processed, frozen and sent down to Tucson, very yummy.  Excited about my CSA starting in May.  We still get our Butcher Box every other month and that helps cut down on trips to the grocery store too. And I did really well with eating at local restaurants.

Focused eating is something I think is very important and that I am still struggling with.  I can’t seem to break the reading while eating habit.  I am trying to start with small changes and work my way up.  Focusing on at least a few bites and periodically tuning in through out the meal.   Hopefully in time I will reach my goal of eating with total attention.  I truly believe how I eat will make a big difference in what I eat.  I did finish reading “Food Rules” and am still flipping through it a few times a week mulling over all the advice.

I have been doing a great job of eating only when I am hungry. I feel best when I eat a hearty breakfast mid to late morning and then a late lunch and no dinner.  I sleep better and feel better in general.  It can be a tough schedule though with the family but I am finding ways to make it work.

Feet to the fire:  Weight on April 2 – 144lbs.  Weight on May 2 – 145.4.  I am not stressing because I can feel the water weight bloating thing going on. I figure if I can keep close to 145 then once I am done with the MHC phase of life I will only have to lose five pounds to be comfortable with my weight. I did yoga 17 days which I am happy with since I went on two trips this month. I am also doing PT for my shoulder at home once a day.  Still keeping up with the food log.  Still eating too many sweets. Sigh.

Random photo from my trip to Mt. Lemmon during the teacher walkout.  More dry than wet stream, sad.

Be Happier

It was a bad month for MHC (Menopausal Hormonal Craziness).  I had three periods during the month.  Yes, three. separate. periods. It was ugly.  Emotionally I was a wreck. I kept telling myself this must mean the start of full blown menopause is near and then I would laugh/cry and remember thinking that same thing this time last year.  So now I warily wait to see what happens next with my body.

On the positive side I did get away for a weekend.  I went by myself to Laughlin, NV for a bowling tournament and rather enjoyed myself.  It was a nice change of pace and scenery.

On the nagging task front I have started a new 10 minutes a day project: organizing my digital photos.  I was inspired by this post and then I watched a few youtube videos for more tips.  It is actually easier and going quicker than I thought.

 

Food Rules #83  Break the rules once in awhile.  “Obsessing over food rules is bad for your happiness and probably for your health too.  Our experience over the past few decades suggests that dieting and and worrying about nutrition have made us no healthier or slimmer; cultivating a relaxed attitude toward food is important.”   -Michael Pollan

I feel like I know what I need to do to be healthy and I just need to act on it, at least as much as the MHC allows.  I know I can do it because there are days when I am in complete control and have no desire for junk food or feel the need to eat when I am not hungry.  When the hormones take over all I can do is minimize the damage and move on.  This phase of life will not last forever. Right?  Right? Please someone tell me I am right!  🙂

 

The Week in Review 4/11/18

I thought bad things happened in threes:  I have had to deal with two situations where there was no water:  the Grand Canyon and the bowling alley. Sort of worried about where it could happen next!

Something I am watching:  Repeats of “Grantchester” and I can’t wait for the new season. I never thought I would fall for a vicar but he is hunky!

 

Something new I learned: The secret to making yummy crispy nachos.  Bake your tortilla chips at 350° for 15 minutes.  Then top with grated cheese and cooked ground beef flavored with taco seasoning and pop back in the oven for ~5 minutes.  I then put the chips on plates and let everyone add their own toppings:  olives, salsa, jalapeños, tomatoes, sour cream, whatever you like.  I have this odd feeling I am the last cook to learn how to avoid soggy nachos.

Something that is making me happy:  The Miami Heat making it to the playoffs.  Their play has been so uneven this year I am a little surprised but thrilled to have at least a few more games to watch.

Goran Dragic is still my favorite player though I am loving the drive and versatility of Josh Richardson.

Something else that made me happy:  I found a new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)!  I love the idea of getting a selection of fresh, local produce every week and tried it a few years ago but it didn’t work out.  The pick up time and location was very inconvenient and it was year around.  This meant in the winter we got a lot of onions and dried beans and dried chilis. It just wasn’t for us.  But this Sunday I went to the Farmer’s Market and found a new CSA that looks quite promising so we are going to give it a try. I  looked at the planned crop list and it all looks tasty.  It starts early May and will go for 16 weeks.  The pickup is Sunday morning at the Farmer’s Market, much closer to my house than the other CSA.  And I can get my local eggs and any other items at the same time.  So excited!

How was your week?

 

So long CSA

In our quest to eat healthier I signed up for our Local Tucson CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) over the summer. I was excited about eating locally grown, freshly picked real food. I was curious to try some new vegetables. We gave it a go for twelve weeks but opted not to renew our subscription again.

It made me kind of sad to give up but it really wasn’t working out very well and I felt like I was wasting too much food and hence money.

There were two basic issues. The first was the distance to the pick up location. It was a good 30 minute drive each way and once school started I had my husband begin to pick up our share on his way home from work. The problem with this was my husband doesn’t cook or grocery shop so he wasn’t good at selecting items. He also got there fairly late so typically there wasn’t any good trading to be done.

The second issue was the types of foods we were getting.  We were inundated with onions and various types of spicy peppers.  Though I live in the desert southwest I don’t cook a lot of southwestern dishes.  I was glad to try my hand at making salsa verde, we ate one batch with chicken enchiladas and I put a second batch in the freezer.  But I didn’t feel the need to make a third batch and had no idea what else to do with tomatillos and all those peppers.

We also got shares of monsoon greens, basically weeds that sprout up after rains.  I used a few in various salads but they just weren’t my thing.  We enjoyed different types of potatoes, melons and squash.  We also liked the corn and fruit but it wasn’t enough for three of us.   And despite being really fresh things had a tendency to spoil quickly.  I tried my best to meal plan accordingly but it didn’t always work out. A few times we were trying to eat what we had picked at Apple Annie’s and then got the same vegetables (eggplant, green beans) and fruits (apples) in our CSA share.

I finally had to accept that for now the CSA wasn’t in the cards.  I will keep it in mind for the future though and would certainly consider doing it again.

Yeah for the CSA!

Just over a month ago I joined Tucson Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  One of the steps I wanted to try this year towards healthier eating was going to a farmer’s market on a regular basis. It wasn’t happening.  We have some very nice farmer’s markets in the area but for various reasons going felt like a very time consuming chore. The drive, the parking, the heat, trying to figure out what I could actually use and trying (unsuccessfully) not to buy unhealthy items from bakeries. I admitted to myself it wasn’t working and gave up trying to go.

I had heard of CSAs and last year in the Phoenix newspaper a woman wrote a series of articles about her CSA experience.  I wondered if it would work for me.  The Tucson CSA has an excellent website and I loved the fact that I could see what people had gotten, and when, for the last ten years.  One gets not just vegetables but also fruits, nuts and herbs.  They provide recipes and are more than happy to answer questions about the different items.

I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try it for six weeks and I signed up.  Five weeks in and I am loving it. Each week I pick up seven to eight different items.  I was a little worried about getting items we don’t really want but they have a trade table and a donate table.  The trade table starts out with one portion of each item and you can swap what you don’t want for something you do.  And if there isn’t anything you want then you can just leave it on the donate table.  You can also take anything from the donate table, they just ask that you don’t be greedy.  Any leftover items go to the local food bank.

Here is a summary of the first five weeks:

Week One

cilantro  (I know I don’t like cilantro and wanted to trade it but my son wanted it.  We ended up throwing it away.)

carrots  (Late in the season for carrots and they warned us these wouldn’t be good raw but needed to be cooked. I put a few in my smoothies but after a few days they became quite limp and I ended up tossing the few that were left.)

2 peaches (A bit over ripe but excellent in smoothies.)

2 red onion (Chopped and frozen for future stews and chilis)

garlic (Still have some)

cantaloup (Eaten)

jewel melon (A new food for us and eaten up!)

2 ears of corn (Eaten)

Week 2

CSA week 2
CSA week 2

You can see in the picture what we got for week two.  We managed to eat that whole, huge watermelon, mostly by my son.  We traded cilantro for more grapefruit which was a great deal.  I ate all the grapefruit, they were super sweet and yummy.  The peaches this time were under ripe, we took them camping, forgot about them so I used them in smoothies when we got back.

Tomatillos were new to us and I used them, along with the sweet potatoes, onions and garlic (from the previous week)  in a very tasty black bean stew recipe provided by the CSA. My husband even liked the stew and  between the two of us we finished it off.

Week 3

We were camping over week 3.  You can skip a pick up, and not be charged for it, if you let the CSA know by the Friday before.  If you don’t let them know then your share gets donated to the food bank and your account debited like normal.  You sign up for 6 or 12 weeks at a time, paying up front. Each week you get an e-mail letting you know how much is left on your account.

Week 4

CSA week 4
CSA week 4

For week four I swapped 5 smallish white onions for 3 more yams.  The peaches were again a little under ripe and I set them on the windowsill.  A few days later we ate them on the drive to Phoenix but there were still a little tart.  I was very excited to get pecans which I am storing in the freezer.  We used the yams for “Christmas in July” mashing them with a little brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice.  I also roasted the squash for our “Christmas in July” dinner sprinkling on a little feta cheese at the end, my new favorite way to eat squash.

Week 5

CSA week 5
CSA week 5

No swapping this week, everything looks really good.   I used  the potatoes to make potato salad on Sunday.  We ate the green beans Wednesday night, simply steamed with grilled pork chops.  I cut up the cantaloup and my son ate that for breakfast several mornings in a row.  The cucumbers we slice up and eat with dinner. As for the roasted green chilis I froze them.  I make a tasty green chili stew but it is too hot and humid these days for something so warm.  The peaches are still on the tart side, despite several days on the windowsill but I cut them up and froze them and they are perfect for smoothies.

I am loving my CSA experience.  I love eating fresh, healthy, local, in season foods.  The only negative is the drive.  Produce pick up  is 4:00p to 7:00p downtown in the university area, a 30 minute drive for me each way.  Once school starts I may see if my husband can do the pick up on his way home from work, at least some weeks.  It isn’t much out of his way but I prefer to go myself as I know what would be better swapped and he is not going to be comfortable picking out items.  They have a long table set up with each item in baskets and a label on the front of the basket telling you what it is and how many to take.  And some weeks you have to choose between two items, last week it was tomatillos or green beans.  My husband is not good with making decisions, even easy ones. But he can give it a try and we’ll see how it goes.

Either way I really want to continue with the CSA.  I need to continue to work on using the fresh stuff sooner rather than later but I am already adjusting to that.  One way has been to make more vegetable centered meals which I rather enjoy this hot time of year.  I am also learning how many meals I am likely to get out of the items and adjust my other grocery shopping accordingly.  I also have to admit I like the surprise each week of finding out what you are getting,  it really has been “Christmas in July!” 🙂