Monthly Archives: December 2010

Last Day with Company

Tuesday was our last day with our company from D.C, Jim!  He was leaving in the afternoon, but we were able to fit in one last lunch.  It was at a fun place called In A Pickle in West Deptford.

We’ve been there before and it really is fun.  It’s a small shop but the food is really good.  They have all sorts of different sandwich choices and you can do them as a Panini, a wrap, a regular sandwich or as a salad as I did…

Mine was called the Caprese…romaine lettuce, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese which seemed to have herbs added (yum!) and a very tasty balsamic vinaigrette.  It was really good and filling. 

Little Michael and Grummy…Mikey wasn’t feeling well, he’d had a fever since the day before, but he’s a trooper and is always up for lunch with Uncle Jim and Uncle Ralph…

…he doesn’t mind Aunt Fran and Grummy being along (although no one took my picture 😦

We all enjoyed our lunches and they all looked good!  Ralph’s smelled wonderful!  He had Italian sausage with peppers and onions in a big roll.  I have to say that sausage is one of the things I miss about being vegetarian.  It was such a big part of growing up for Ele and Me.  Grandmom always had it cooking at her house.  There aren’t too many things I miss…sausage, liverwurst, Lebanon bologna and pork roll.  Really odd things I realize, but those are the ones.  But in truth when I think about how healthy I am as compared to how unhealthy I might be, it’s worth giving up some things. 

If I could only give up cheese!!  I really have to start researching some vegan cheeses to see if I can find some that still do the trick for me.  I just started reading a book that I think will help me make some more of the changes I want to make.  More on that tomorrow. 

I also just started reading “Mary Ann in Autumn” by Armistead Maupin. It’s part of the Tales of the City series.  I’ve read all of them and it’s interesting when you read a book by someone who you’ve read before especially a series.  It’s like getting reaquainted with an old friend.  You’re used to their style and in many cases you know the characters like they’re part of your family (sometimes the weird ones!)  I’m very much enjoying it.  It got me through my 30 minutes on my exercise bike today! 

I wish the weather would warm up just a bit so that I can get back to my walks.  If not I’m going to have to drag out and dust off my indoor walking tapes.  Space is the problem for that idea…boxes, boxes everywhere!  It will be worth it in the end.  Maybe I’ll try that this afternoon.  I need to keep myself on track!

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Catch-up and a Cup of Coffee

There’s no real reason why I haven’t posted over the last few days except that I still seem to be wearing my Slug Suit and haven’t gotten around to posting, but our last few days have been terrific.  So terrific in fact that I even forgot to take photos at some points, so my great powers of description will have to suffice!

Christmas Eve morning started as it has for the past few years, having breakfast with my two best friends, Gail and Alice.

All dressed up in their Christmas finery!

We were there too!

We were very disappointed because our favorite little restaurant where we usually have breakfast, closed last week, taken over by new owners and we don’t even know yet if it will reopen for breakfast.  Our alternate choice was the Gateway Diner in Westville.  We hadn’t liked it in previous visits, but Ralph and I were there about a month ago to meet his cousin from Illinois and we thought it was much better than we remembered.  So we took the plunge.  Everyone was pretty happy with their meals, Alice even said the potatoes were so good that she was going to eat them all even though she shouldn’t!  Mine was terrific!  It was called a Greek omelette.  It had spinach, tomato, onion and Feta cheese.

…and it was all dressed up in Holiday colors!  I really enjoyed it!  Their prices for breakfast were also good when compared to some other local diners.  This may be our new breakfast spot!

Around 5pm we met up with Ralph’s son Bill, his two sons Alex and Patrick and their Mom, Heather.  This was at a different diner, the Seven Star which used to be the Five Points Diner which actually played an interesting part in Ralph and me getting together, but that’s a story for another day!  We always have a wonderful time with Bill and the boys and this was no exception.  I’m very disappointed in myself for not taking photos.  The diner’s menu has changed with the new management and there are more vegetarian friendly choices.  I had Penne Arrabiata.  It’s basically a spicy marinara sauce and it was really yummy.  I was very happy with it.  It was too much for me at the time because I knew I had more snacking to do at Ele’s house later so I still have some in the frig to enjoy later today…maybe I should take a picture of that! It was good!

After that, we headed to Ele’s house for snacks and presents…always a fun time.  Again, I don’t know where my brain was, because I do know where my camera was… right in my purse!  No photos, but we had a great time.  I was actually pretty much under control there, I didn’t over eat by my standards.  Earlier in the afternoon, I had stopped by to take over my share of snacks and presents.  Ele was about to make scones.  Now, my sweet sister is FAMOUS for her scones, all of her baking really, and she’s been promising to teach me how to make scones, but I’ve never found the time.  She didn’t give me a chance to say no.  She just pointed at an apron, said “Put that on!” and the mixing began! Well, it was wonderful, not hard at all and as soon as I get the recipe, I’ll make some, post the photos and the recipe!  Ralph is so excited, he’s been eating them hand over fist, to use one of my Grandmother’s sayings.  He’s got two left for breakfast and then they’ll be gone!

Christmas Day started with Ele, Jim ( our dear friend from D.C), Ralph and me going to Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast because that was the only place open!  Again, not sure why I didn’t take a photo of my food, but I didn’t. I had a flatbread, egg white veggie omelette sandwich.  It was very good!  A little spicy, but I like that.  I need to look up on their website the nutritional value so I can figure the points.  I may not want to know!  I had my seasonal favorite, gingerbread latte…yum…

Here are the happy Christmas elves…

Jim, Ralph and the DD Snowman!

Ele and Me!!

Ralph and I headed back home after breakfast to rest up.  He napped while I looked through a wonderful new vegetarian cookbook I received for Christmas from my sweet niece, Lisa.  Lots of good recipes which I will be working on and sharing.  Of course we were watching the marathon of The Christmas Story alternating with the marathon of Bill Murray’s Scrooged.  Both of these are Ralph’s favorites and it was a hard choice between them.

Finally around 2:30pm, we headed off to our own reenactment of the Chinese dinner in The Christmas Story.  For the last few years we go every Christmas to a wonderful restaurant called Sakana Oriental in Woodbury. 

I started with something I’d never tried before, Hot and Sour (vegetarian) soup. 

It lived up to its name, but it was very enjoyable!

My entrée was Chinese Eggplant in Garlic Sauce.  I’ve had it before and I love it!  I get it with brown rice and it’s delicious!

Dinner was topped off with Ginger Ice Cream…we’ve never found this at another Chinese restaurant, but Ele and I always get it here…

The most fun at a Chinese restaurant is always the Fortune Cookie…

Mine said…”Guard yourself against evil temptation.”  Is my WW leader working in that kitchen?!?  Anyway, it was a wonderful dinner, a wonderful day and I’ll end with a a wonderful piece of festive fun from Ele’s plate…

We should have named this little cutie…we didn’t…maybe it should have been named for my WW leader, since I always feel she’s watching over me…in a good way, so everyone meet Mary Lou!  Merry Christmas!!

Confession is good for the soul

I have to be honest about this.  I’ve been so excited and truly into the whole idea of the new Weight Watchers program…Ralph even commented that I was sitting there studying the book.  It true…I was…I am… but I’m out of control!  The fact that Christmas and New Year’s Day both fall on Saturday-my usual WW day didn’t initially bother me.  I figured I might try to get to a another meeting during those two weeks.  I didn’t think that I would need to make it mandatory!  I was very scattered and not making good choices over the weekend.  Monday, I got back on track and Tuesday was pretty good until Tuesday night.  I’m blaming it on “Glee.”  After eating my dinner, do I remember what?  No, I don’t…a sure sign that there’s a problem.  I remembered there was cream cheese in the frig and Ritz crackers in the cabinet.  I won’t say how many I ate, but enough to be ashamed. 

My plan was to go to the Wednesday night 5pm WW meeting where my leader Mary Lou is.  Then during the day I started telling myself, “well, you could wait until next week, catch up then…you don’t really need to weigh in, you’re Lifetime…at goal…why add in that extra time.”  Well I’m glad I did.  It really did help.  It didn’t actually help me last night.  Knowing I was (maybe) going to the meeting, I hadn’t eaten much. Just some yummy oatmeal. I knew there’d be a difference in my weight because I usually weigh in at a morning class.  I had gotten Ralph lunch at Subway and got myself a veggie sub to eat after the meeting.  I had a small gain but that was understandable because of the day versus night thing.  Well I came home, ate my veggie sub and then EVERYTHING else I could get my hands on. 

So I’m up now, I’m drinking my coffee, I’ll be making breakfast soon and I WILL be on track and in control.  Hey, at least I rode my exercise bike for 30 minutes…I get credit for that, don’t I?!? 

I’ve got to be in control…tomorrow is a marathon of food.  I think it will probably take 3 posts to get it all in!  I have to figure out how to photograph breakfast without Gail & Alice thinking I’m crazy…I’ll have Ralph create a diversion!!  Here’s to a better day!

Loose ends…

I have to say, that’s how I’m feeling right now.  The rest of yesterday just seemed to dribble away.  I need to get focused and get my act together!  We did go out to lunch and I made a great new discovery.  The local diner where we go most often, the scene of the not so satisfying Greek Salad last week, surprised me today.  I found a salad on the menu called Balsamic Spinach Salad.  It’s supposed to come with chicken and Italian sausage.  I requested it without meat and it was wonderful.  It is a HUGE pile of baby spinach, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, regular tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  As always I asked for the dressing on the side and they simply brought me the balsamic vinegar in its little cruet!  I was set and I was in LOVE!

Ralph was amused by all of the ooohing and aaahing, but it was terrific!!

I think I tried to order this once before and the waitress got so confused about leaving the meat off that I ordered something else instead.  But this was a great one!

I’m trying to get my morning going drinking Beach coffee as I work here.  Beach coffee is very simple and was named for coffee I made when we spent some time at the New Jersey shore a few years ago.  It’s simple.  You put your coffee in your filter as usual then you shake in some cinnamon.  Now that I find out that cinnamon is actually good for you,  I like it even better!  You can actually do it with any spice you like.  I’ve used nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and I’ve even used Chinese 5 spice powder.  Add it according to your taste.  One key point to keep in mind though is you must stir it into the coffee grounds.  If you let it just sit on top, it seems to form a barrier that the water can’t penetrate and your coffee will overflow ( the kitchen will smell nice, though!)

I’ve finished up the last few Christmas cards and need to head off to the P.O. again.  Then I need to bring in the presents that are still in the car, decide if I have enough gift bags of the right sizes and get this show on the road. There may be a trip to Dollar Tree in my future if I need bags.  So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can tie up these loose ends!!

Monday before the Eclipse

Why does it matter that today is the Monday before the Eclipse? I’m a big Moon fan.  We’re going to have a combination of a Full Moon, an Eclipse AND the Winter Solstice.  I should have been a Druid!  Although most of my shopping is done ( just a few more gift cards to purchase) I still have no Christmas spirit.  I don’t know why (well I do, but that’s a tale for another day.) So maybe being a Druid is the answer.  So when do I get to visit Stonehenge?!?

Anyway, when Gail and Alice suggested we go to Wegman’s in Cherry Hill, I was up for it to help take my mind off of things. I truly wish I could go there and spend the entire afternoon browsing their shelves.  They have such a wonderful collection of unusual foods.  Alice and I decided we would do that after the Holidays.  We’re also planning a trip to Trader Joe’s.  I wish these stores would be an option when we get to New Mexico but that doesn’t seem to be possible.  The closest Trader Joe’s is near Tucson, about 2 hours away.  But Silver City has a wonderful co-op which I can’t wait to visit on a regular basis.  It also has a wonderful Farmer’s Market that runs from May 1 through October 31.  We had the chance to visit both during our visit in October and it was wonderful! 

So today at Wegman’s, I took a little advantage of their interesting selections.  I got some regular quinoa, some red quinoa and some chia seeds.  I hear and read so much about the benefits of the chia seed that I thought I’d give them a try.  As you can see from this photo, I’m still trying to find ways to take photos with my current limited space situation.

Then of course after putting away the groceries and making my oatmeal, I forgot to put the chia seeds in!  I even forgot my usual flax seeds.  Ah well, with some cinnamon, some frozen berries and some honey…it was still good!  I don’t usually use honey, I usually use Splenda.  I liked it with the honey, but I need to use a little more the next time.

Gee, my computer chair works pretty well for staging food.  I need to get a little more creative with my backdrops but I like this.  It’s been bothering me and I’m glad to have come up with a solution that works for the moment.  I can’t wait until I have the chance to do more real cooking and share some of my favorite ideas for vegetarian meals.  I actually just want to EAT them!  That time will come, but in the meantime, I will move along with learning this whole process.  The next few days will be challenging in many ways, with handling food being at the top of the list.  Wait until Friday…that’s going to be fun!  Basically, a food free for all!  So now I have to think about taking a nap…the Eclipse is at 2:41am…wonder if I can get a photo…stay tuned!

I feel like a slug…

I have so much to do and no enthusiasm to do it.  I’m annoyed with myself for that and for how I finished the day yesterday.  I started out with a good WW meeting, wishing everyone Happy Holidays since we won’t see each other for 2 weeks because the Holidays fall on Saturday.  My friends Gail and Alice and I had our usual Saturday after WW breakfast at a great little place called Helen’s (no photos, because G & A would think I’m crazy!) Sadly, yesterday was our last breakfast there because it’s been bought by another restaurant and will be closed for 3 months.  We have to find a new breakfast spot.  We’re doing the research. 

After doing a few things around the house Ralph suggested lunch.  Ralph loves Chinese, but I usually say no because he suggests it on Friday night and that’s not a good choice before weigh in on Saturday morning.  But…Saturday afternoon (after weigh in) is great!  So we headed to the China House.  I tend to be very boring when I eat out and I picked my usual, Vegetable Delight with brown rice.  It’s one of the lunch specials which is great because it’s a smaller portion.  We started with Egg Drop Soup, but no photo.

Veggies and Tofu…yum. 

I really like the Veg Delight here because they use the dark sauce unlike some places where the use the light sauce.   The dark is more flavorful.  I enjoyed it and Ralph enjoyed his Chicken with Cashews.  Of course he drew a picture for the waitress as he always does.  I think he called this one, Santa’s Sushi Elf.  You can only imagine!

Later when we got home we could hear the fire sirens.  This time of year that can only mean one thing… Santa’s on his way!  It’s a fun thing that our town started some years back.  Usually the weekend before Christmas, the fire department escorts Santa all over town handing out candy canes.

Here he comes…

…and here he is!!!

It’s so much fun and makes me feel like a little kid again.  One year when I was really in a festive mood and had actually made Christmas cookies, I took some out to Santa and his elves.  Great fun!

But now for the downer of the evening.  Remember that candy from a few days ago…

…well it is no more.  That happens sometimes and my theory about it is, I’m going to eat it, the sooner I eat it, the sooner I can start over!  So I’m starting over today and hopefully, no candy or cookies or anything that shouldn’t jump in front of me, won’t sabotage me today.  I have high hopes for a better day all around!

The Last…

This time of year can be sad for too many reasons and I may get into that at some point, but for now two quick things.  I had the chance to see a video of Larry King’s farewell from last night.  I had seen part of the show last night, but fell asleep.  Today, I saw the end  of it on-line.  It was very moving, with his wife and kids there.  He’s always been an interesting interviewer.  He has earned his retirement.

The other last was the last show of Philadelphia radio talk show host Michael Smerconish.  Actually, it was only his last morning show, he’ll be moving to afternoons, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to listen to it.  I liked the fact that a lot of it was dedicated to Christmas music, ending with Michael’s choice for the best Christmas song ever, Nat King Cole’s version of Mel Torme’s The Christmas Song.  I haven’t always agreed with Michael in recent years, but I have no argument with that choice.  I used to listen to him every morning on my long commute before I came under the spell of audio books. I wish him good luck in his new afternoon slot and I will look forward to hearing more from him. 

I’m trying so hard to give myself a routine. I never had any problems getting in my daily water or my meals for that matter.  Not so easy now.  I think that after the holidays I’ll have a better chance to work on that, but in the meantime I’ll do my best. 

Having already mentioned the general disaster that exists in our house, I’m having a hard time finding ways to take photos when I do have something I’d like to show.  At lunchtime yesterday, Ralph asked me to stop at Wa Wa to get him   the”Gobbler.”  I think this may be one of the few things he’ll miss when we leave New Jersey.  It’s advertised as Thanksgiving dinner on a roll and it is.  Turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce. All that’s missing is the green bean casserole.  He loves it and gets it as often as possible during the holidays because that’s only when it’s available.  He was VERY happy.  In an effort to stay on track,  I used one of my old standbys: salad with veggie burgers.  I love this and it’s very filling which is a plus.   I used your basic romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes and carrots.  My veggie burger of choice was the Morningstar Farms Tomato Basil Pizza Burger.  Three points each for you WW folks out there.  My dressing was an odd thing that I did but I enjoy. I had two half bottles of dressings, FF French and FF Italian.  Mix them together, shake them up and it’s really quite yummy.  It looked lovely and delicious (which it ended up being) but where the heck do I take the photo?  Ok, since I’ve heard that Necessity is the Mother of Invention (or was that Frank Zappa??), I came up with this, can you guess what I used?

Ok, I’ll end the suspense, it was a sweater.  It would have been better for Autumn, but hey, I think it works.  Lunch was delicious and didnt’ come from Wa Wa!

On the way to get Ralph’s lunch, I remembered something that I wanted to do.  As unusual as this sounds, our local library was selling honey.  I had seen this when I returned the last of my audio books 😦 a few weeks ago.  It’s from a local farm and comes in a variety of flavors orange, blueberry, cinnamon and this little beauty…

mmmm….cranberry….

According to my friend at the library, they are all amazed at how popular it’s been, people even coming back and buying it for Christmas presents!  My jar was sixteen ounces but they had others that were larger.  I haven’t opened it to try it yet, but I can’t wait to give it a try. It helps to make some money for the library too which is great.  They need all that they can get right now.  I may go back to get a jar of the cinnamon.  Of course, while I’m there for honey, I’ll have to look at the used books they have for sale.  It’s not my fault, they keep jumping in front of me, and after all they help support the library (how’s that sound for an excuse?!?! 🙂 )