Thursday, June 29, 2006

The 12 Super Foods

How many of these do you eat each day? These foods are supposed to provide great nutritional support for our health, and many suggest they should be a regular part of our diet.

Avocado: high in mono-unsaturated fats, folate, and antioxidants, avocado can decrease the risk factors for heart disease and alzheimers. The suggested consumption is about 1/2 an avocado every other day.

Blueberries: The only truly blue food, blue berries are one of the most health-protective food you can eat. High in vitamin C and beta-carotene, potassium (helps keep blood pressure in check). Best eaten raw.. try 1/2 c every day or two.

Broccoli: high in fiber with beta-carotene, folate and vitamin C. Try for 1/2C serving of some cole food every day, with broccoli every other day.

Carrots: Their high beta-carotene is more easily absorbed when they are cooked, but thier vitamin C is higher when raw. Have some every day. When eaten raw, make sure you consume some vegetable oil at the same meal. It's needed for the body to absorb all the beta carotene.

Flaxseeds/flaxseed oil: A rich source of alpha linolenic acids, flax seed have been shown to lower cholesterol, triglyceride and blood pressure. Flax seeds also contains Lignan and fiber. Researchers believe lignan may play a role in fighting some forms of cancer, including breast cancer. Flaxseed is included in a number of baked items, and you can add it to your own baked goods. Try for 2-4 Tbs./day.

Garlic: You need to eat the cloves raw to get the best heart-healthy benefits from garlic. With onions (below), try to get a serving every other day

Green Tea: Tea is full of anti-oxidants and green tea has phytochemicals that soothe and heal cells. Green tea also help to regulate blood sugar levels and may help reduce LDL cholesterol. Drink three cups/day.

Live Yogurt culture: Any yogurt that contains active proviotic bacteria such a lactobacilli which is thought to help the gut produce anti-cancer substances called butyrates. Try for 2-4 oz./day. Hey.. mix your blueberries and some ground flaxseed in there.. for a perfect healthy meal.

Oats: Rich in soluble fibre which can lower cholesterol, slow cooked oats also has a low glycemic index. The fiber may also help with weight management.

Onions: Onions are great for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and help to thin the blood to minimise clotting. They also contain flavonoids and sulphurs which might help fight cancer, a natural antibiotic to help with bronchitis and colds, and a powerful anti-oxidant. Try for a serving every other day like garlic.

Prunes (or dried plums): Prunes fight free radicals and they are high in soluble fiber to lower cholesterol. Eat 10-12 prunes day. Drink plenty of water with these, too.

Deep Water Fish (sardines, mackerel, salmon and fresh tuna):very high in omega-3 fatty acids which help heal cell damage. A minimum of 2 servings a week for younger women, 4 servings for men, women past childbearing age. These fish will not only fight heart disease and stroke, and prevent some cancers, they also may help to reduce arthritis symptoms and physical signs of aging.

And don't forget Water (yeah, this becomes #13): Being properly hydrated can eliminate a number of problems. Drinking 2.5 liters will also keep your energy level up, decrease wrinkles, and aid in the absorbtion of all the nutrients listed in the foods above.

Whatcha Doing Today? See my other blog for the to do list.
Steps: 10,025

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Folding Sheets

Someone's blog I was reading last week mentioned a goal to perfectly fold a fitted sheet. I learned the technique decades ago from Heloise... I have a feeling many of those under (oh...) 40? 35? don't have a clear memory of her. More's the pity.

Anyway, I first thought I'd take pictures myself to demonstrate it, but why reinvent the wheel? Turns out that this technique is demonstrated a bunch of places:

Martha Stewart
even Better Homes And Gardens

However. I have a couple hints that make this task even easier than they describe.

1. All of these sites have you fold two pockets, then pick up the other two one and time. Total waste of time and motion. When you take your fitted sheet off the line (or out of the dryer), straighten the sheet. Then arrange it so you have BOTH pockets from one end of the sheet draped over your right hand, and both pockets from the other end over your left. Bring both hands together, and overlap the pockets. Four pockets together. Then go on with their directions to neaten things up and finish folding the sheet.

Hint #2 here: fold the sheet so it is just a smidge less wide as the pillowcase you use with it. When completely folded, it should be about 1/2 length, too. Trust me.

NOW that THAT'S done, make it an easy set to work with. Gather all the linens that go on one bed at one time (fitted sheet, top sheet and pillow case(s). Fold them up neatly following that hint that they are just smaller than a pillowcase.

Now, take one pillowcase and slide the entire set inside . Fold over the top. Everything needed to make one bed is neatly contained as one package. Kids can simply grab one package to make their own beds, adults, too. And nobody has to go through all the sheets to find the correct sizes for their bed.

Whatcha Doing Today? Taking a nice walk.
Steps: I was a slug yesterday. Only 8242
What's For Dinner, Deb? Meatloaf I think. It's not too hot to cook, and it will leave the spouser with something for lunch this weekend.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sewing Software

I'm sewing up a laptop carrying case I've designed using the free software program from Wild Ginger Software. and encorporating a small quilt top I made in Sue Benner's class at AQT a couple years ago.
While Wild ginger is known for their custom pattern software, they also offer a free download for accessories: purses, hats, footwear. For each items you can customize the sizes and customize the shape and size of any pockets you'd like to add. Then print the pattern out on your home printer, tape it together, and sew!

It even has an embroidery design tool to help in the placement and planning of embellishments on the items.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Sunset and YouTube'ing

First a moment of sunset. The sun is setting at almost it's highest spot in my view. During the winter the sun sets so far to the left that I don't see it.

Yesterday I spent part of the hottest part of the afternoon browsing some of the films at YouTube. It's a fascinating place. Worth killing an afternoon.

You MUST spend 8+ minutes watching Spin DJ if a God. (Thanks Beancounter for posting this.) The link is to a newly uploaded version with a better audio. You just have to! It's magical.

And if you have a little extra Current TV's cartoon about The Immigration Debate. Centered around a "native American campfire" where the citizens of the country are trying to decide what to do with all these infernal immigrants.

"I say we welcome them. They are good for the economy, they gave us these comfy blankets, and can anyone here honestly say they don't their fire water?"

"Didn't they kill your entire family in a raid last week?"

"Ok. I'll admit there are some cultural differences..."

Whatcha Doing Today? Besides walking dogs? Some more hand stitching.

Reading? Poisonwood Bible. One of the characters is growing on me.

Steps: Thursday I did 14,370 steps!! All that dog walking paid off!

What's For Dinner, Deb? It's Friday, we're going out.

Check out my other blog, where today I'm talking about learning styles

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What for dinner, Deb?

Edit addition: It's 2 pm and 100 degrees outside. Yet there was a guy walking through the store parking lot wearing a down jacket. Will that insulate him from the heat as well??

I think I will be having this tonight with some adaptations. (one head instead of three, Mancheco instead instead of parmesan, and I don't think I'll grill the grapes). Throw some chicken on the grill at the same time and happy, happy!

Grilled grape and romaine salad

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (see note)

2 tablespoons minced chives

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

3 medium heads romaine lettuce

1 pound seedless grapes

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

To prepare lemon dressing, combine lemon juice, chives, sugar, lemon peel, garlic salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil while mixing with a whisk or fork.

Cut romaine in half vertically.

Leave grapes in clusters of 10 to 15 grapes. Brush with lemon dressing. Grill 5 to 8 minutes over medium-high heat or until grapes are heated but still firm; turn clusters over occasionally.

Brush romaine with lemon dressing. Grill 1 to 2 minutes over medium-high heat; do not allow leaves to char. Turn romaine over and grill 1 to 2 minutes. Cut romaine into bite-sized pieces. Remove grapes from clusters and add to lettuce. Toss with shredded cheese and remaining dressing.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 175 cal., 4 g pro., 11 g fat, 18 g carbo., 4 mg chol., 3 g fiber, 453 mg sodium.

Serve warm or cold as a side dish to grilled beef and chicken. Topped or tossed with sliced beef steak or chicken breast, it also makes a fine main-dish salad.

From the Herald Tribune website

Whatcha Doing Today? Trying to stay cool.

Reading? Not much

Steps: I failed miserably yesterday, recording only 6036 total steps. I'm passed that already today.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I've wanted some tips on growing the perfect tomatoes; found a lot of repetition of the basics, but not really what I was looking for. How to make the sweet and not too juicy? How to ripen them in a region that has night time fog? (Tomatoes ripen when the night time temps are in the 70s and 80s.) Then a trip to a different Farmer's Market on Sunday, yielded a copy of our regional publication from Edible Communities with an article about tomato hybridizer Fred Hemple, his business and blog Baia Nicchia. God smiles on the prepared.

Imagine a post that is almost everything you need to know to grow a good tomato. It's not as easy or as hard it might sound:

if you buy a tomato plant and it produces a bumper crop of tasty tomatoes, there are two reasons – 1) You bought a good variety for your growing situation – a variety capable of producing excellent tomatoes in your area, and 2) You cared for the plant appropriately.
Besides the good advice offered at Baia Nichhia, there are other "tricks" that many use to get a good tomato yield. I still waffle about pinching off sideshoots (should be done on vining indeterminate plants; doesn't need to be done on bushy determinates, I think...). Caging or staking .. again depends on the variety planted. And I've never tried the red ground cover that's supposed to encourage greater tomato production.

While researching, I learned that Australian farmers having dramatically increased their yield over the past 10 years, are now discovering that they've lost the flavor. (hmm. sound familiar?) They hope that increasing the potassium in the soil is the ticket. Some home gardeners on boards were whispering this can done by burying a banana peel at the bottom of each tomato planting hole. I wonder if I can chop up banana peels and simple bury them near the roots?

After you've grown that perfect tomato, Fiona Haynes, low-fat cooking guild at, tells the best way to store them:
You have to treat your tomatoes right to enjoy them at their best. Just
as you shouldn’t choose tomatoes from the refrigerated section at the
store, you shouldn’t refrigerate them at home either. Temperatures
below 55 degrees will destroy the flavor of your tomatoes and make them
If some of your tomatoes need ripening, place them in a paper
bag with a banana or an apple for a day or two. The gases from the
fruit will help ripen them.
Now that I've whetted your appetite for this penultimate summer vegetable, bay area food blogger Sam Breach shared a recipe for new season tomatoes as I was reading about growing them.

photo credit:Seed Savers Exchange

Whatcha Doing Today? Trying to stay cool it's going to be a really warm one. Trying to reorganize my sewing space to make it more efficient.

Reading? Poisonwood Bible and Sudoku puzzles. (is that reading?)

Steps: 11107 yesterday. Taking Jake for 2 walks/day seems to be the ticket. But the sad news? With the increased walking and maintaining my 1500 calories/day... I've gained weight. How does this happen??

What's For Dinner, Deb? Definately something on the grill

Monday, June 19, 2006

The garden path is nearly done. It needs another bag of rocks and the weed barrier trimmed back. I'm happy with pretty much with the outcome. What aren't I happy with? I purchased Pea Pebbles. Supposed to be small "pea sized" stones.. right?


Some of the pea pebbles are 2-3" in size.. not any peas I know I of!

These will probably look better when I get a chance to rinse them some (they have some river mud on them). But... "He Who Always Tools Where He Found Them" took the backyard garden hose for some reason this weekend... and didn't put it back.

Whatcha Doing Today? Yard work and shopping.

Reading? Not much today.

Steps: Sunday, 10242.

What's For Dinner, Deb? Grilled porkchops, green beans & almonds, a mixed lettuce salad and strawberry shortcake.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Cool is heaven...

It's been hot around here the last few days; last night, though, it cooled off. The infamous San Francisco fog didn't make a return (Friday it more than 100 miles offshore), but it's come close enough to cool the air at night. So we slept with windows open and it's a delightful 65 this morning. By suppertime the house will be close to 85... but it's tolerable when I know the cool morning is coming.

While I'm working on the garden path (almost to the pea gravel stage, btw), this is what I use for a workbench. A privet hedge.

Whatcha Doing Today? Heading to a Farmer's Market; laying down the weed barrier.

Reading? Sukodu puzzle and working through Threads.

Steps: Yesterday I forgot to put on my pedometer!!

What's For Dinner, Deb? hmm. Grilled meat and veggies. More I cannot say until I come home from the market.

Check out my other blog, where today I'm writing an update on Katy.

Friday, June 16, 2006

So not the prettiest picture to share today. This is the garden path I'm building. The upper part (undug ) is quite wide because we approach this spot from the side of the spa gazebo and will move left about 6' to get down the steps to the veggie garden.

Also, the compost bins/firepit wood stand are to the right just out of frame. The large pad will make working there easier. Today I will continue digging out narrow tracks to bury the wood frames in. Then I must make sure that the area inside the frames is about 2-3" lower than the top of the wood.
I'll cover this area with weedblock then fill the path with a tannish pea gravel. It will go with the flagstone and make a visually distinct area that should make it easy to know I'm on the path when my arms are full.

Below this level are 2 small terraced beds where I'm growing all our veggies. The beds are about 3' wide and 10' long, and planted with tomatoes, bell peppers, plus one each of: summer squash, cucumber, sugar pie pumpkin, watermelon, and canteloupe. A grapefruit tree, a keffir lime, an orange tree (the one visibile) plus some rhubarb grows along the right hand side here.

Whatcha Doing Today? Working on the garden bed until it gets too hot. Then working in my studio.

Reading? Poisonwood Bible.

Steps: 10,037 yesterday.

What's For Dinner, Deb? Mark is back in town, so we are heading to Won Thai for supper.

Check out my fiber blog where today I'm writing about recovering from a bad plan.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pedometers and walking. Again.

I tried to find a photo from our many walks in Pt. Pinole (it's germaine to today's post). Couldn't. So instead, here's a photo from a park very near Pt. Pinole. This was taken before Easter, and I'm thinking this a duck/goose nest. Just not a very good one.

Now, although I am madly in love with my pedometer, today I am going to make a recommendation for you all to also give Gmaps-Pedometer a try ( Ok, try it if you live in the US. It's not set up for the whole world yet.).

Why? Especially why if I'm wearing a wondering accurate pedometer? A couple reasons.

First. Say you wish to plan a new walk. You want to start at your house, walk around the neighborhood, and have a distance of 2 miles. Gmaps lets you do this. You start the trip at your house, and click and move the route along. Watch the distance add up. If you're happy with an "out and back" walk, just find the half-way distance (in this example, 1 mile) and click. Or you can see the streets and figure out your own loop walk. This is mainly how I use this program.. to find a route that meets specific distance settings.

Second. It calculates calories. Yeah, my pedometer does that too. So I can use one to check the other for the base calories. But gmaps knows the elevation changes that my Omron doesn't and calculates the extra calories expended because of walking up and down hill.

Third. And this important to me. Remember I live in the bay area. Most of the walks I take have some elevation in them. And this program will calculate the elevation changes. To me, this is the way cool part. When I'm huffing and puffing, I can tell myself: You're walking up 25 stories! You should be a little winded.

If you need to see some of this in action, I've put in a walk we take at Pt. Pinole. (see, I said this park was pertinent). It's the outer paths in the park, very pretty. Relatively flat as my walks tend to go. Click on the link and play with this as I show you. NOTE: you can move your viewing around by clicking and dragging with your mouse on the map. Another cool feature.

Looking at this mapped out route, I know the walk is just over 4 miles.

Now click on: turn on mile markers, and each mile post along the way appears. Very nice for mentally planning potential turn around points/ water break points.

Click to Turn On Calorie Counter. When I put in 150, it tells me that I've burned 460.8 calories on this walk.

Click to Turn On Elevation (small). Reading the graph, in the first mile I went 25 feet and back down... the second mile up almost 60 feet, stayed there for most of mile and then back down. Was near sea level for the third mile, then elevated to 50 feet (again) in the last mile before I returned the end.

Whatcha Doing Today? Working on the garden path.
Reading? The latest THREADS.
Steps: Yes. So far today (and it's just noon), 6102 total and 3556 aerobic.
What's For Dinner, Deb?That's right.. I'm cooking. Pork cutlets, a green veggie, applesauce. (doesn't that sound very 1950s? except that then it would have to be canned green beans.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bread as a Healthy Choice.

Photo of a great tree along Refugio Valley Rd.

My latest minor obsession is choosing not to purchase foods with high fructose corn syrup in it. Let me tell you, it ain't easy. Yesterday I spent almost 20 minutes reading every loaf of bread to find one with the dreadful ingredient. Found one. ONE. It was $4.25 a loaf. So I think I may be baking bread again. Now I'm not Mary Beth... it was she who blogged about her bread last year, right?, but still I've baked some...

I have a recipe that I've always liked. It's fast and easy and adaptable. Checking the copyright on my book, I've baked this off and on for almost 30 years! It's from Beverly Nye's book A Family Raised on Sunshine. She was a Mormon woman making the rounds of local TV broadcasts the same time that Carol Duval was starting out.

Anyway, her Easy No Knead Bread (the basic recipe):

In a very large bowl, pour 5 cups warm water. Add 2 packages dry yeast and a 1/2 tsp. of sugar. Stir. In about 10 minutes, the water will appear to be "alive" and small bubbles should form on the surface.

When the yeast is ready, add:
8 TBS. sugar or honey
8 TBS. shortening (Ok, the mneumonic is cool, but 8 TBS., is 1/2 C)...
8 tsp. salt (see? This is easy!!)
6 cups of flour

Beat this mixture on high speed for 3 minutes.

6 more cups of flour.

Stir the final flour in with a spoon. Actually I usually end up mixing this with my hands at the end.

Let rise for about 45 minutes until doubled in size.

Spoon it into pans and let rise again.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes in large pans, 30 minutes in small pans. Remove from the pans immediately and brush with butter. Let cool on racks. Makes 4 large loaves or 7 small ones.

Now the things to do to change this:

substitute whole wheat flour for up to 1/2 the flour
As you spoon it into the pans, layer cinnamon and raisins in.
She wrote that you can make a part of this into buns or garlic sticks. It's like your basic yeast dough mix.

Whatcha Doing Today? Cleaning, and walking the dogs.
Reading?Poisonwood Bible and The Creative Habit
Steps:4700 so far.
What's For Dinner, Deb? We've got a play tonight at the Willows, so it's dinner out somewhere first.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I've mentioned before that I'm building a small garden path. It's only 10' long and averages about 42" wide. Good thing. It's not going to be done very quickly.

I finally convinced Steve that I need pieces of lumber to build the boxes for this path. It took a couple requests, and finally a "I can't figure out how to work with the plastic edging crap you gave me to use... so come out and demonstrate to me how you interpreted what I told you my plans were and how this crap works in that plan!!" for him to understand that either HE was going to put this plastic edging crap in or he was going to get me the materials I needed. Lumber.

And, no. I can't get the wood myself. He stores it in braces against the garage ceiling.. and it's too high for me reach even from our ladder.

Now that I have some material to work with, I'm digging the path and "planting" a leg of each box... but only one/day. I've already got a couple blisters from this (and probably splinters), so I'm not taking any chances. When the frames are all dug in, I can do the final bit of digging out the path bed, line it weed block, and fill it with pea gravel. At this rate, it will be 2 weeks!!

Whatcha Doing Today? Heading to the Farmer's Market, working on the garden frame, cleaning the floors on the first floor.

Reading? Poisonwood Bible and The Creative Habit.

Steps:6600 so far.

What's For Dinner, Deb? Broiled chicken, swiss chard, tomatoes, broiled peaches.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


First, a moment of garden...

I figured out today why my knee has been hurting lately. I was out working in the garden and it literally kicked me... well, in the knee.

I'm digging up and constructing a garden path. It's not big, averages about 42" wide and 10' long with a 1' drop from one edge to the other (along the 10' length). I need to dig the dirt there first level, then 3" or so below grade so I can put in weed block before I dump small gravel on the path.

Anyway, I was working there today. Put the shovel down against the dirt, and hit the kickplate with my right foot. Yeah.

I'm. kicking. rock. hard. clay. with. my. foot.

Transfer the force up to the knee and I know why I've been hobbling. So I'll take a break, then attack the dirt with pick instead. Oh joy... first I budge up the knee. now I'll screw up my shoulder!

Another thing: my normal summer cooking is pretty simple. I throw meat on the grill, make a salad and nuke/grill another veggie. Simple. And does it really matter what the grilled animal is?

Whatcha Doing Today?A whole buncha stuff: working on a quilt project, working on the garden.
Reading? Poisonwood Bible. just started, but so far, I'm not liking it.
Steps:Yesterday, 8620. Today: 7955 so far.
What's For Dinner, Deb? grilled animal, a salad and veggies.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Moments of garden...

While this spirea, with it's flat open flowers attracts butterflies,

this fuschia (I think this one is called Lina) with the deep dangling flowers is loved by hummingbirds.

Didja Miss me?

I took the weekend off from the internet. I am tired and distracted and needed to simplify for a while. So I cut back. But late yesterday I found myself thinking like a blogger again. I trust that good writing will commence soon. However, at the moment, it's time to catch up.

I'm slacking on 10,000 steps (hard to nap and walk at the same time); Katy is recovering and doing OK. I have to remind myself that she had major surgery less than a week ago. Jake is getting his own attention, though he still probably doesn't think it's enough. The garden is looking good (just weeded), and the veggies are growing nicely. Should have some summer squash and tomatoes in a couple weeks.

Whatcha Doing Today? Digging and prepping a path in my garden.
Reading? I'm finishing the Dresden book today. Tomorrow: Poisonwood Bible.
Steps: For Sunday:6555
What's For Dinner, Deb? Grilled animal and veggies.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

ESPN made a brilliant decision..

I'm probably the rare woman watches a lot of ESPN. I like a lot, I don't like a lot, but heck it's a choice for me. They broadcast a lot of activities that are competitions that aren't sports. And that's why I'm watching it today.

A few years ago, ESPN acting as the broadcaster of competitions is showing the US National Spelling Bee. They started doing this maybe a decade ago. Since that time, a book, a play, and a movie have been written that use the Bee as the structure. People talk about the kids and the competition for days. Heck, I smiled today when I first saw Samir Patel still in it (Samir is 12, this is his 4th appearance and last year he was the runner up).

Now the competition has been running for decades, but none of this buzz occurred before we got to actually watch this unscripted drama unroll before our eyes.

It's brilliant and entertaining and I thank goodness that ESPN had the brilliance to do this.

Whatcha Doing Today?STILL searching for my discharge paste (and cleaning my work room), watch the Bee on ESPN.
Reading? Nothin new.
What's For Dinner, Deb?
Ya know, I've been singing "Cheeseburger in Paradise" for days. It must be a psychic clue. So I'm giving in.