Breakfast Makeover

For years and years I ate Special K high protein cereal with some kind of fresh berries most weekdays mornings. I liked the original version of it best and was Not thrilled when Kellogg’s changed the formula about five years ago, but I still ate it.

Last year when I tried intermittent fasting I more or less stopped eating cereal since my first meal of the day was after ten in the morning. This year my push is to give up added sugar and artificial sweeteners. I have not had a sweet ‘n low in my tea in 2020 and that has been the hardest part.

In my quest for good health and since I am not ding intermittent fasting, I needed to find a new easy breakfast for mornings I don’t have time to make eggs. Although I never added sugar to my cereal I could taste the sweetness in it, even though it was billed as a healthy cereal.

As a kid I lived on Quaker hot instant apples and cinnamon oatmeal. As the kids in our house always made our own breakfast, this was the easiest hot thing to make when you are eight years old. I knew I couldn’t make that now because I am certain it has as much sugar as Special K. I decided to just have plain oatmeal.

Having seen things on Pintrest for overnight oats, meaning oats that are soaked cold overnight, no cooking needed I decided to try that. I have to say it has become my favorite go to for fast mornings. The only problem is I have to remember to make it the night before, although it is the simplest thing.

I put a half a cup of oats in a glass, add 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt and 3/4 of a cup of skim milk. I mix it up, cover and refrigerate. In the morning I add a good dose of cinnamon and a handful of fresh berries. It is incredibly filling and I find I am not hungry for lunch until much later in the day and I don’t miss the sugar.

I think I might cook up a few apples and add cinnamon to them and see if I might relive the taste from childhood sans the sugar. Life without sugar has not been that bad.

Day of Service

It’s MLK day. Around here that means it is a day of service. Our church organized a lot of activities with our friends from the Divan center, a Turkish Muslim faith community, where we could could do things for other people. Since Russ’ office was closed (that does not mean he did not work) we volunteered to spend five and a half hours working for the greater good.

Russ and I signed up to be the people who “could be sent on any job.” That meant that we started at church and helped back “Welcome Home” baskets for homeless people that the CASA agency finds permanent homes for. We had laundry baskets and we filled them with things you might need when setting up your first home, like kitchen utensils, and dish towels, cleaning supplies, personal care items and some food. Since we just set Carter up in her apartment in Boston I know that when you have nothing and need everything it is very expensive.

We had a lot of help doing this task. I was making bows to adorn the baskets which held a large trash bag with all the items inside. Nothing like a bow to dress up a trash bag. I had the pleasure of teaching a young woman from the Divan center who is a junior in high school so we talked about her studying for the SAT’s and her interest in going into medicine. Her family had moved to the states five years ago from Turkey and she was a delightful helper and excellent bow maker.

We finished the CASA baskets in record time so Russ and I drove two of our new Turkish friends to Githens middle school where we built new picnic benches while others refurbished old broken down ones.

Russ’ large collection of power saws, cordless drills and ratchet sets came in handy. Our years of watching This Old House and general handy man knowledge was useful. Russ did feel like the loss of wood shop in schools was showing in the young people and needs to be brought back.

The bonus for me is Githens is a huge school so I got all my steps in for the day as I went to photograph other people painting walls in classrooms and fixing picnic tables in other areas.

I am certain the the other groups who went to Reality Ministries and Hope Valley Elementary were equally successful as were the people back at church who were writing letters to cancer patients, prisoners and elected officials.

Over all there were well over a hundred people who came out to work together. I enjoyed meeting our Muslim neighbors as well as our own church members. Thanks to Amy Hill and the Deacons for organizing the whole day. It felt like the best thing to do to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

Dog Body Language

Shay is a very quiet dog. She rarely barks or growls. Once in a while she will make a little purring sound to say, “I am pleased with you.” For the most part she has developed a few poses which tell us everything she wants us to know.

Her favorite pose is one where she stands on her green bed with very good posture with one foot in front of the other. Paris models could learn a thing or two from her stance. This position is almost always made after she has finished eating the chicken in her dinner bowl, but not the kibble. She stands there to say, “I would like more people chicken or cheese before I can continue to eat that god awful kibble.”

You can ask her if she wants to go out, but the answer is always the same- she stands her ground, not changing position.

Once you have adding just a little cheese and she has eaten to her satisfaction she will lie on her bed with her head on her toy snake, which is alway on her bed. Other toys travel throughout the house, but not the snake. It belongs on her green bed.

Shays other well rehearsed position is standing on the bath rug in our master bath looking out the door towards our bed. This means, “I want you to pick me up and put me on the bed because for some reason I am too tired to jump up there.” Now she jumps up on the bed all the time, but maybe after her dinner she might be feeling a little to heavy and doesn’t want to attempt to jump and fail.

She has us so well trained that when she is in these positions in the exact spot we know what she wants and give it to her. I would like to train my people as well.

I Blame Russ

I wish that I could say I was more productive today, but I fell under the spell of the new 2,000 piece puzzle Russ gave me for Christmas. He didn’t exactly give me this one puzzle, but a puzzle of the month club. I had the choice which subscription to choose from and I picked the 2,000 piece.

Two grand is really a lot of pieces. My friend Mary Lloyd showed me her family puzzle set up over Christmas where they use two tables, one for sorting pieces and the second to assemble. So I set up a similar set up today to start the sorting.

Just touching 2,000 pieces takes a long time. I didn’t do a total sort, just looking for the edge pieces, the sky, the green roof and any piece with words. I didn’t do such a great job. As I was putting the edges together I realized I must be missing at least ten to twelve edge pieces. I am not going to go on a search just for those, but I did go on to work on the sky.

I took many breaks to try and do something more productive, like walk, laundry or cook dinner, but I have to say it was mostly a puzzle day. I blame Russ since he was working all day and Shay was keeping him company. If on,y he had wanted to clean out the garbage than I might have not been so bad.

I did make a red lentil yellow curry for dinner that was very delicious. The photo is proof that I was not completely childlike today.

Butternut Squash and a Fennel Roast or Soup

One of the best things you can do with the internet is find unusual recipes. Yesterday I looked in the kitchen and noticed that I had a butternut squash and two fennel bulbs I needed to use up. I knew I could make them into soup, but I really wanted something more solid than that. I just input butternut squash and fennel in my google search and came up with a gaggle of ideas. After reading a number of them I settled on a simple one pan way to roast them together with an onion with a bunch of spices. I loved the outcome.

I forgot to take a photo so I borrowed a portion of this photo from a different recipe. Mine does not use dill weeds, but otherwise this is what it looked like.

1 butternut squash- peeled, seeded and cut i to chunks about 3/4 of an inch wide

2 fennel bulbs, – cored and cut into wedges about an inch wide on the outside

1 large sweet onion – peeled and cut into wedges like the fennel

2 T. Olive oil

1 T.Cinnamon

1 1/2 T chili powder

1 1/2 T. Cumin

1 T. Turmeric

1. T. Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 450°

Cover a half sheet pan (That’s a big cookie sheet with short sides) with foil.

Place the vegetables on it and sprinkle the oil all over it.

Mix the spices together in a small bowl and evenly distribute on the vegetables and stir it all over coating everything as evenly as you can.

Roast in oven for about 45 minutes. The vegetables should start to brown.

These can be eaten just like this and if you have leftovers you can make a yummy soup out of them by placing them in a pot with some chicken or vegetable stock. Heat and then purée with a stick blender.

Two dishes in one.

My Impeachment Watching Puzzles

I was working on my puzzle today when the Senate’s swearing in for the DJT impeachment came on the TV. I find it incredibly sad that in my adult life I will witness two impeachment trials. It shouldn’t quite be called a trial until we know if there is actually going to be evidence and witnesses.

In the Clinton impeachment the facts where not really in dispute. Clinton lied in relation to the Paula Jones sexual harassment case and then was also tried for obstruction of justice. The impeachment was to decide if that lie warranted being removed from office. One difference in Clinton’s impeachment case is his lie was about something personal and not something that affected the whole country. Yes, lying is wrong, but a majority of the Senators did not feel it warranted being removed from office after hearing a trial.

This impeachment is different because the facts of the case are not agreed upon. So it seems like the Senate “trial” is the perfect place to actually seek out the truth with evidence and witnesses, especially since the charges actually do affect the nation.

It will be interesting to see how many Senators who swore an oath today actually want to find out the truth. Because John Roberts is the judge and he is busy hearing cases at the Supreme Court in the morning the Impeachment hearing will be held in the afternoons. Senators are not allowed to have their phones or any electronic devices during the hearings and are supposed to sit quietly and listen, just like regular jurors.

I have just received my new 2000 piece puzzle Russ gave me for Christmas. I am planning on watching the hearings as much as I can while doing the puzzle during the boring parts. I am most interested in seeing which of the very old Senators fall asleep.

I don’t think for a minute 45 is going to be removed from office, even with overwhelming evidence, but I do hope the Senate actually hears the case and allows evidence. It is the way the founding fathers set up the system. Congress has already abdicated so much of its authority over to this President and that is the real crime. I hope a few of them have a spine and stand up for the constitution for which they took an oath to uphold.

My Search For a New Drink

Since I’ve given up sweeteners, both artificial and processed sugars, I have been on the hunt for a new drink, or really drinks, to replace my iced tea obsession. I got lots of suggestions from my friends. So I went out and gathered samples to try.

While I was at fresh market buying the teas I was told were good without additional sweet I walked by the cold drinks Refrigerator. Since I was thirsty at that moment I opted to buy two different flavored waters. I usually hate paying for water other than what I pay right out of the tap. I dislike the waste both on money and in packaging.

I got a cherry flavored Hint water which I drank right away. It was good. 0 calories. A little sweet and the cherry was not artificial tasting. I wasn’t bowled over. I also bought something called Shine water I brought that one home.

I made hibiscus blueberry tea from the Republic of tea. Expensive compared to my Costco size of Lipton – .33¢ a tea bag compared to .003¢ a tea bag. I liked the hibiscus, but didn’t love it. I also got some uber expensive Kushiro tea. Don’t even get me started about that one. It should come with a masseuse since it is Spa worthy. Yummy, but not sweet tooth satisfying.

I went way down market and got two flavored seltzer’s at Trader Joe’s. Good for just hydration, but still do not beat my old way of drinking iced tea.

Today I had Mah Jongg and I drank my Lipton with lime, no sweet. It’s fine, just barley fine. After a construction meeting at church I really needed a new drink I remembered the Shine water in my fridge I had bought at the Fresh Market. It was strawberry lemon flavored and had 20 calories. I could live with that.

I filled a glass with crushed ice and tried to open the bottle. Usually I am able to open any bottle, but not this one. I got out my grandmothers jar opening tool. It took a minute, I actually considered going back to the store to have them open it, and then the cap budged and gave way.

The water was a beautiful pink color so it actually looked like a cocktail. I took a sip and … TAA DAA it was nirvana. I loved it. It was just sweet enough to feel like a treat, but not like I was cheating on my husband.

Now I am going to have to try the other flavors. It is too expensive to make up the 80 Oz of liquid I drink a day, but one every other day seems like it could satisfy me when I am pining for a sweet ‘n low laced iced tea.