Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Growing our own food

We spend a lot of our grocery money on vegetables and legumes, usually.  Right now with the diet I am on it is more on meat, but that will change again soon. 

I have always wanted to have a garden of my own.  I have tried to grow things from seed before with little to no success.  This time though I have been determined to get it right.  I started reading books about it two years ago.  Updated that knowledge more over the last 6 months, and went for it this spring. 

This was taken right after I dug up the ground, added top soil and planted some seeds.
 I planted black bean, munching cucumber, pickling cucumber, kale, two types of lettuce, and in the rows, summer squash. 
Big L made little signs for me.

This garden patch was put in a week later.  More digging up rocks, etc, then adding topsoil.
 In the part behind the bricks I planted rainbow carrots, onions and beets.  I am just hoping I dug deep enough and loosened the soil enough to not have bent carrots.  It was a lot of work in the plot as there were a ton of weeds to get rid of.  In between my rows I put down leaves that my dad was going to throw away!  Free Mulch!
 You may notice the soil in front of the bricks.  We are trying to grow grass seed here.  I am not a good cubic feet calculator and should have gotten one more bag of the soil, but hey, the seeds are coming up everywhere, so I think I will be okay. 
 The apple tree is doing well, despite a freak March hailstorm.  What was that all about?  I hope we are done with weird cold fronts!

 When we went to Lowe's for the fairy garden, I picked up another patio plant and more herbs.  I can't seem to stop buying plants lately!

Things are finally sprouting, so (as I told my mother) as long as I don't screw it up now I should have yummy things to eat!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

There be fairies on this here cake....

and boy did it take a long time to decorate!

My youngest l is a Tinkerbell fan.  If Tink were real I am sure they would be partners in mayhem together; then they would find a way to fix it all.  So when she turned two I decided a Tink cake would be great.  I ordered the toppers which came with very sparse directions.  I finally mastered making frosting.  Then I went to work trying to make it look like the picture.  I have never taken a cake decorating class.  What little knowledge I have is from my mom trying to show me when I was young, and things I have read.  I think for a non-pro this cake turned out great. 

Despite my diet I also tasted it and I can tell you that it tasted great!  I modified the Better Homes and Gardens Banana Cake recipe.  The family loved it.  I managed to freeze some, but most of it was eaten quickly! 

Now I have to decide if my oldest should get the fairies for her garden, or if the little one should get them for her new playhouse......

Monday, March 18, 2013

There be Fairies in this here garden!

Two Sundays ago,  big L and I headed off to Lowe's to buy dirt and plants.  We had a good time just the two of us.  She picked some awesome looking plants for her fairy garden, we stopped for some ice tea, then came home and got to work!

We planted moss which should mound nicely as it grows, and petunias.  Yes that is a very expensive broken bowl, but doesn't it make a nice bridge and home?

We made pathways with little pebble rocks.  The broken pot in the back is also a home.  They yellow flower is columbine.  The little saucer is a bird bath, she labeled everything with a sharpie and a broken plate.

That pink flower in the corner is called Cineraria

We have a regal geranium to the right of our "tree" and a dahlia toward the front.  More petunias.  The cup, also broken, on its side is a human house.  You have to love her sense of scale. 

 She has added a few things since I took these pictures, but I told her to take her time, it is a process.  She should find little things and add them as she chooses.  I also had to keep reminding her that the plants will grow, and take up more space as time goes by. 

I think it turned out nice, and it is making her want to be outside more, which is good.  Now I just have to find some affordable chairs for her patio and it will be complete!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I was fat....and it was hurting me, really.

I follow a few blogs on a regular basis.  Some are daily posters, others are sporadic like me. 

This morning one of my guys was writing about fat people, and how they are grasping at straws with a new study that says weight does not effect the length of your life.  For the record they call themselves fat people.  Here is the link to Gin and Tacos, and the article. 

Remember when reading that this guy is a political science teacher.  Statistics are his life.  He knows how they work and how to manipulate them, or should I say how others manipulate them.  Also, the interesting thing is the responses he has received.

Having been obese for quite sometime I don't get all the responses, nor do I get a group claiming that being overweight or obese does not effect your health.  Are they living on a different planet than me?  I am sorry, but a BIG motivator for me and my weight was when my knees began hurting so much some days that I had to limp when I walked.  Seriously, that was when the light bulb in my brain went ding, you need to get more serious about losing weight.  I am not sure why that was my big trigger, and not my inability to keep up with my kids, but we all have something that will eventually make us wake up (I hope). 

The other thing that people need to accept is that when you are overweight you are more prone to certain diseases or conditions.  That is just a statistical fact.  Most doctors who saw me ASSUMED I was diabetic because of my weight.  I did not need a support group for this, it was true, I was probably more likely to be diabetic than if I was at a healthy weight.  Was it frustrating that they assumed?  Yes, but I am a realist, I knew why and I knew that based on my family history the likelihood of diabetes developing was HIGH!

Is it easy to lose weight in our skinny obsessed culture?  Heck no!  It is cheap to buy junk.  Junk is fast, and you don't have to prepare or THINK about what is going into your body.  However, it CAN be done.  Think about it people, do you really think that no one loses weight and keeps it off?  I will say that the diet culture in our country is faulty.  People think they can "diet" for a short period lose a ton of weight and then go back to eating the way they used to.  That is UNHEALTHY!!!!!  People do lose weight and keep it off though, when they decide they don't want to view food the way they used to.  I have been on a strict diet for the last three months.  I am a little cranky sometimes because of it, but the point of the diet is to lose the weight quick, and while losing the weight, and being unable to eat a variety of things, to learn to REEVALUATE how I think and feel about food.  I have been doing this a lot.  I have also been looking at what I could eat instead of the fat and calorie packed foods of my past.  BTW, my doctor has a good success rate for keeping weight off patients.  I have follow ups at various times for two years after finishing the diet. 

Food is important.  It sustains our bodies.  Eating a whole pack of mini donuts does not sustain our bodies.  Who even really knows what is in there?  I have been a big proponent of teaching kids to eat healthier and reach for healthy snacks, but I never applied it to myself.  I claimed to NOT have TIME.  HAH!  It takes me 5-10 minutes to make lunch for me and little l.  Claiming I don't have that time is ridiculous.  It may take a half hour to make dinner that we can all eat in the evening.  I have that time (most nights).   I am not sure what everyone thinks of food, but I began to think of it as a chore.  Something I had to do.  Something that was a pain because of everyone's different food allergies. 

In reality, (you know back here on earth) the truth was that I was making it harder than it needed to be.  There is NO reason I should be making four different dinners every night.  The baby (who is turning two, so not really baby anymore) can eat what we eat, minus her allergies, and supplement with a veggie pack of toddler food.  Big L can eat what I make.  I have decided to make one meal for the three big people and you eat it or figure something else out on your own that is suitable.  This is the ONLY way that I am going to eat healthy, because the one person whose meal would be rushed and unhealthy was me.  When I am done with my diet and start my new system I will share it with you. 

The other thing I have learned, that I have avoided up to now, is that I HAVE to count calories.  For me, that is what opens my eyes.  Did you know there is an app for that?  It is called My Fitness Pal.  It is great, my diet doctor recommended it for when I am on my own.  I also purchased a heart rate monitor.  What I have learned is that while Yoga is great for my pain issues it is not so great for aerobics, at least not since I lost so much weight.  Now I am looking at how many calories I burn when I exercise and comparing that to what I am eating (though on this diet it is not fun). 

We seem to be having a backlash in our culture to the skinny people.  In my opinion, it has gone too far.  Big is beautiful, if it is still healthy.  Obese is not beautiful.  Of course, that is my subjective opinion.  Some of the comments on the blog state that the BMI is faulty, and it likely is, but each area has a range to take into account whether or not you are big boned and most people are NOT huge muscle bound people.  I mean really.......can we come back down to reality here?

I read a lot, and I used to be a skinny person, so I know we have an unrealistic image spread in front of our girls (and boys) for how they should look.  In fact we even talk about things in front of them that make them self-conscious in ways we don't mean to.  Since starting my diet I have changed my terminology.  I used to say I was fat, now I say I am unhealthy.  I am working my way back to a healthy way of living.  I would like to say that I have lived that way before and that was why I was skinny, but it wasn't.  I ate a lot of junk, I was just lucky until I was about 20 and didn't gain weight.  Now I do, so I have to change.   My oldest daughter will likely be the same, so I want to teach her now how to eat right and healthy so that when she is the one making choices she understands why one choice is better than the other. 

My Girl Scouts and I were talking about hunger, something none of them have truly experienced.  We were talking about how healthy foods cost more than junk food and one of my more precocious girls said, "Why don't they pass a law that junk food has to be more expensive?"  Why don't they?  People who smoke pay more in taxes because it costs more to take care of their health care needs, they also pay higher premiums.  People who drink know that it is not cheap.  So why is that frozen pizza so cheap (you know which ones I am talking about); why does candy go on sale so often?  Why do they have sales on cheap processed food that makes it easier to feed a family on those items than on fruits and veggies?  Why do grocery stores in lower income neighborhoods contain MORE unhealthy options and less of the healthy options.  We are screwed up as a nation when it comes to food and feeding people. 

That is my rant for today.  If you are overweight and happy and healthy, I love you and support your right to be that way.  For most people though, large weight gains make us unhealthy, and causes more pain than being healthy. 

Want to lose weight like I am?  This is where I go:  Chiro-Med Centers

Saturday, March 2, 2013 yummy bread.....

I may be drooling a bit because I can't have bread.  Other than sneaking crackers, I have not had a piece of bread since November because of my diet.  Some may think it torture to have to bake bread for the family under these circumstances, but I didn't mind.  In fact, did you know that kneading bread can give you 10 minutes in zone 2 if you do it right?  It did for me.  Working out and taking care of the family.  Can't complain.

I have been a bit lazy the past year.  Using my bread maker all the time.  But a few weekends ago it ticked me off.  For some unknown reason, all the molasses I put in the bread pan (second ingredient in) ended up outside the bread pan.  Do you know what burned molasses smells like?  Do you know how hard it is to get that smell out of your house, let alone the bread maker!?

I taught myself how to bake bread in college. I bought a book on the recommendation of a friend, a book that is now worn, and looks loved.  The Tassajara Bread Book.  It has detailed instructions on what to do and why you should want to do it.  Good stuff.  I love making bread, it just takes time.  A little patience.  Sometimes a bit of strength.

 I use the sponge method.  This is after the sponge has bubbled a bit, the rest of the flour has been added, and I have kneaded it for about ten minutes. 
 This is after it has risen, been punched down, and risen again. 
 This is 100% whole wheat bread, so you can't let it rise enough.  Okay you can, but you really want to give it the last 30 minutes to rise in the pan.  I know I didn't split my dough evenly, but they still look pretty good going into the oven here, right? 
The finished product.  Note that I don't egg wash my crusts, as that would make it inedible for my allergy girls.  I also don't use dried milk.  The only addition I have made to the recipe in my book is wheat gluten.  You will have to believe me when I say this is soft and fluffy inside.  My hubby has been eating a lot of bread lately, so this should last us a week, even if I make messy sandwiches for little l, and big L has a slice or two.

It may take longer than the bread maker, but the bread maker never lets the dough really rise enough.  It also is not capable of kneading it the way your hands can.  I am not saying my bread maker and I are party ways, quite the opposite.  I am just saying that I am going to use for things like pizza dough and jam.  The things it does well.  It never really has done 100% whole wheat the way I like it. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

a private patio garden...soon

 Off one of our bedrooms is this little private patio.  Completely walled in, only accessible from the bedroom, it has gone ignored since we moved in.  I forgot to take a true before pic, but this is my post digging out the plants/cacti that were trying to grow here without any TLC.  When we first looked at the house I imagined a little table with two regular lawn chairs.  After spending time out there, I think I imagine something more comfy.  Maybe two big cushioned patio chairs and a little table.  Somewhere you would want to sit and read when the weather is right. 

The weather was not right this weekend, very windy and cold.  All in all, I can't complain, I removed all that cactus without getting stuck!
 This bed did not seem to have any concrete in it.  It was just dirt, but It melded with the tiles, so I decided to use some more of those concrete cores to line it.  I am going to raise the bed with more good soil. 
 This is the view out.  I don't think I could climb the wall if I wanted to!
This is the other half.  It is not a big space, but it is not covered, so it gets some sun.  The roof only goes out to the edge of the tiles.  Watering this area will not be easy, but judging by the moss on the tiles, I don't know that it will need a lot of watering.  I have been pondering since spending time in this space what to do here.  What should I grow, what would make this little space seem bigger than it is.  That is when pinterest hit me.  Oh, okay, not really, and honestly I know I saw it somewhere else as well, but I think this is the perfect place for fairies, don't you?  I think the girls and I, and maybe the hubby, would have fun building little houses out of natural stuff.  I have lots of broken pots we can use to make steps and pathways.  My mind is beginning to fill with ideas.  Nothing concrete yet, but I think in a few weeks I may have a plan. 

I am off to figure out what plants the fairies like best!