Sunday, March 9, 2008

Slow Week for News ???

This was one of those weeks that we seem to plod through occasionally. A week when nothing seems very interesting and we are just going through the motions. It's during times like this (and yes, there seem to be many), that we've got to make a real effort to realize that there are millions of neat, tiny things going on in our lives. The secret is to recognize them.
That's what I like about blogging. Since I live a rather insular and predictable life, some weeks I must wrack my brains to come up with anything that I feel others would like to hear about. This is the "examined" in the title of my blog. Besides the great people I've become friends with over the past year, this blog has made me really look at myself and my life much more closely than I ever have before. One thing I've found out that is somewhat comforting and somewhat disconcerting, is that I'm not very different from lots of you out there. I guess most of us want to stand out a bit from the crowd, but that can be a little scary too.
Oh, I'm getting way off the track now. What I'm trying to say is that after "examining" this past week I'm glad to say I found things that have brightened that time and will continue to do so.
As you recall, I've been dieting for a number of months and as of today have lost 20 and a half pounds. I've cut way down on carbs and sugar - both which I love but are obviously my downfall. On a low-carb website I found out about coconut flour which is low in carbs but high in fiber. There was a receipe for peanut butter/cocoa muffins which I made as healthy treats for the week.
Here they are. I used mini-cupcake liners so I'll get a good taste of them, but not gorge like I usually do. The solid red and green liners are silicon and the others, paper. This is the first time I've used the silicon ones - I just can't get past using "plastic" in the oven. Anyway, they work much better than the paper. The muffins come out clean and weren't burned on the bottom. The coconut flour tastes faintly like coconuts but when it's with the other ingredients you can't even tell. The texture is a little lighter than wheat flour, but, all in all, they are excellent.
When I've got the time, I enjoy cooking and baking very much. I also enjoy trying out different and unusual spices and herbs. So having a spice collection is one of the things with which I indugle myself. This is some of the spice part of my open pantry.
Penzey's Spices is the brand that I prefer and as you can see, I've gotten alot of their products.

They have nearly anything you can imagine and I buy the smaller jars just to experiment. I also love ground pepper and have picked up different types of peppercorns - black, red, green, and white. Until I became familiar with Penzey's catalogue, I had no idea there were different kinds of pepper or salt for that matter.
The salt you see below is called Fleur de Sel which is French for "flower of salt". It's an expensive "finishing" salt that has a clean taste and is used at the end of cooking so as not to loose it's wonderful taste. It really does taste different from other salt! The "flowering tea" was a Christmas gift from Ashley.

Here, laying with the soon- to -be -frozen -'cause- they- are -becoming -inedible, bananas is a glass vial holding three vanilla beans that I also picked up at Penzey's. They smell so good and I'm going to make vanilla sugar (with my sugar substitute) with them. Don't they look like the dried worms you find on the sidewalk some times!!??

Very long worms ......
Since winter refuses to leave this year, I went out to the breezeway and found some "green" out there. (To cheer myself a bit, I bought this spathiphyllum - it was cheap and was at K-Mart begging to be rescued!)

The breezeway is a nice peaceful room and has pretty plants and knick-knacks (isn't that a wonderful word?) and I'm glad it's the first room I see when I come home. The amaryllis is now open and is lovely - the little Buddha looks as if he could contemplate it's beauty forever.

The bonsai, Moses-in-the-Cradle, and a tender pine (I got from work that was used as a Christmas table decoration in the lunchroom) all are doing nicely in that cool, well-lit room.

Garm and Thea came in to investigate why Mom was laying on the floor taking pictures. As usual Garm looks startled and Thea looks vaguely interested - sort of aloof. (Kind of like Cate Blanchette in "Elizabeth - The Golden Age"! don't you agree?)

Thea admired the bonsai . . .

....but failed to find anything to her liking!
The bright pink heart toy was more to her taste. There is just no accounting for taste. (I know, her nails need to be clipped - bad!!!)
Actually the coming weeks will be filled with things to look forward to and enjoy: I must begin my indoor seed sowing in earnest next week, our Family Outing will be to see Body Worlds next Sunday, I'll be taking a vacation day or two,
I will be having Family Video Game Night with Adeena, Tony, Sierra, and Ashley on Good Friday evening, there are some Celtic music CDs coming in the mail, I've got a new video game to play (Assassin's Creed - a neat stealth game!) and I just know Spring will be here soon. I have been hearing the cardinals calling outside, high in the willows - a sure sign the weather will be warming and the green is coming.
But the most important thing is this very moment - it is the only real one we have!
Looking at everything as if for the first time reveals the commonplace to be
utterly incredible, if only we can be alive to the newness of it.
Ruth Bernard
Bye for now,


DeeMom said...

First and foremost Congratulations of loosing some of yourself, 20.5 # is wonderful

AH Penzey's has GOOD STUFF

Peace Lily they sure drink lots of water…we have a bushy one in our bathroom, not the typical Tall graceful one, but I like it…she has 4 blooms on at the moment
DANG some bonsai most impressive
The dogs looks content…to be sure

WE sighted our FIRST ROBIN yesterday… Yessssssssssssssssssssss Sweet Spring is soon to arrive

Mary said...

Hi Alyssa!

Hey, we all struggle to entertain. Your post was packed with news! Congratulations on your weight loss! Like you, I love the carbs and sugar and keep putting off the diet - as a matter of fact, I just slipped a one dollar bill in my pocket for the vending machine :o)

Your spices boggle my mind. I use them but we're very fond of garlic and basil - so that's my staple.

I enjoy your plants inside the house. And I see Thea and Garm don't miss anything! Nosey dogs...

Mary said...

And enjoy your vacation!

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

When the bananas are black they will be just right for "banana nut loaf" a quick bread.

I hope you might be able to plant the little pine outside. I reminds me of all the pine seedlings my son gave everyone at his wedding.

Alyssa said...

Dee - Thanks so much. Twenty more to go is my goal! I like Peace Lilies because they are nearly fool-proof and a so pretty. Lucky you! Seeing a robin! Our snow is slowly melting now and the temps are in the 40s! Great!!

Mary - Thank you. I've been putting off this much needed diet for years. About my spices...actually I generally use about 5 or 6 of them most of the time. And garlic is one of our big favorites too. I have to remind myself to use the others!
Yes, I've got Friday planned for vacation and am looking forward to seed planting.

Tossing - Yes, I freeze the mushy, black bananas until I've got enough for banana bread. Steve loves it so I make a few loaves.

Unfortunately, the little pine is grown for warmer climates than ours . On the tag that was with it, it said not under 20 degrees! I checked their website and they grow tender plants - nothing for the north. But I'll keep it as a house plant and put it out in the summer.

Kerri said...

GREAT post!!
Your doggies are adorable! Loved seeing the plants, too! And can't to see more of your indoor seed sowing!!

Keep up the good work with the diet! I know that's hard!!

And enjoy every moment!