Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Tomato Harvest

Since we fixed our irrigation system, our tomatoes are getting watered each day, and we are starting to get some larger tomatoes. I read that getting the smaller ones indicated stress in the plants. I’m hoping our plants are happy now.

This is the ‘nook’ planter – beside the screened back porch and on the back of the house. (Amber is helping me harvest).


This is the other brick planter we converted to be a square foot garden planting area, filling it with Mel’s Mix.

We are really enjoying fresh tomatoes with lunch and dinner!


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I told you yesterday that I felt dumb because I finally noticed – after 2-1/2 days – that “Phase 2 and enjoy with Phase 3” was printed on my husband’s package of pancakes.  Intelligent woman that I am, I thought, “Maybe we’re screwing up.” I spent a half hour or so finding some information on the South Beach website and printing it. I spent another hour or so reading the information, discovering that

  • Amazingly, we are in Phase 1
  • We are only supposed to be eating/drinking Phase 1 stuff until the end of next week
  • We are right that the DIY part (2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, two dinners, and two days of snacks each week) started at the beginning of the program

I separated the aqua-striped packages (Phase 1) from the purple-striped stuff (Phase 2) in my husband’s box, and then did the same in mine. I did the same with our frozen foods. There is a bit of confusion, as the soups don’t say what they are, and it is unclear about the prepared snacks, but I will see if I can reach someone to talk to on the website today.

I told him we are only eating and drinking BLUE stuff – except for DIY meals and snacks – until the end of next week. (Actually, we’ll continue until all the BLUE stuff has been consumed -whenever that is – before going on with Phase 2.

My husband is still upset that so much chocolate stuff was included in his box, when he carefully ordered what he wanted. He really doesn’t like chocolate, and has no patience with the coronavirus causing supply chain problems.  I have given him the vanilla stuff they put in mine – also not ordered. He will have to make do with some of the chocolate stuff if our supplies don’t last until the end of the month.

I have gone onto HIS account page and MY account page, making sure that he has no chocolate ordered and I have no vanilla – with high hopes.

My husband only has about 10 or 15 pounds to lose to get to his goal, so he is much more cavalier about the diet than I am. He wants to cancel after the next month’s order is confirmed as shipped.

I have more to lose than that, but I’m hoping that this two-month ‘pay attention’ time will remind us of things like eating something sensible every few hours to avoid hunger, to eat reasonable portions when we do eat, and to avoid things we know we shouldn’t be eating.  I will continue to use the carb tracking they provide, whether we are eating the prepared foods or not, as I am more likely to keep with the program doing that.

I am trying to walk for 10 minutes 3 times a day, as they suggest. I’m also doing a half hour of “Gentle Yoga” stretches daily. (I think that the 70+ times I have to get up and go to the bathroom each day, due to all the water I’m drinking, should also count as exercise. :0) )

Fingers crossed.

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Filed under DIET!, exercise, getting the lard off, Healthy Eating, taking care of yourself

More Intelligence Required

I am feeling pretty dumb right now.

We just started the South Beach diet after lunch on Wednesday. We are messing up, mainly due to stupidity – MINE.

They don’t include a lot of instructions – that’s on them. I read the paperwork that came with the order, but I haven’t been reading the packages and boxes of food carefully enough. They are clearly labeled, “Phase I,” “Phase 2 and enjoy in Phase 3”.  I just noticed THAT this morning when my husband wanted to fix pancakes.

He decided that it was ‘too much work’ to make for just himself, so we got out another package and he cooked for both of us.  He technically followed the directions, but I’m not really sure of that, since I was doing other morning chores. We ended up with really THICK, pretty hard – pancakes.  We decided we will not pass judgment on these until “I” cook a batch. THEN I noticed that this was a “Phase 2” food, and we shouldn’t have been eating it yet. Oh, well.

I will have to get on the website and see if I can find more information. We probably shouldn’t be doing the DIY meals, either, yet. Oh, well, again.

They sent my husband a whole bunch of chocolate stuff he didn’t want. I guess they were having trouble filling orders and just did the best they could. He immediately dumped all that out on the table, refusing to eat or drink them. (Patience and ‘going-along’ have never been his strong suits.) I went on the site yesterday and modified his order for next time, eliminating all the chocolate. I hope their warehouses are in better shape for the 2nd order. Meanwhile, I had some vanilla stuff in my box, so I gave that to him and I took the chocolate.

When we get back home from Lunch Bunch (our DIY lunch this week), I’ll get on their website and see if I can figure out what we’re SUPPOSED to be doing.




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Help is on the Way!


As you can see, I have gained weight over the course of the last couple of months. I can blame it on lots of things, but the truth is, I ate the wrong things and ate too much, and didn’t exercise enough.

We ordered the first shipment of what we plan to be a two-month “get-back-on-the-horse,” “shot-n-the-arm” course of the South Beach diet,

the closest to the keto plan we have not been following closely enough lately. We are hoping that once we see the results on the scale, we will be re-motivated to act like adults and eat responsibly.

One aggravation is that we ordered on June 22nd and we still have not received our order. I got on the chat part of the website and talked to a nice lady who tried to find out what the problem was. She told me that they were waiting for parts of our orders to be delivered to THEM. I know that everyone is having problems with shortages, slow shipments, etc. due to COVID-19. They are probably trying to work with a skeleton crew, and they can’t ship until the orders are complete.

I found out recently that MY order had finally shipped on the 6th, but my husband’s had NOT. That is upsetting because if HE is unhappy, MY life is even more of a challenge. I checked this morning and found that HIS shipment was shipped on the 6th, too – apparently the his account had not been updated when I checked last time. HOORAY!

They use Fedex, but their track your order link isn’t working. I’m hoping we will get the delivery this week and can get started. Fingers crossed!

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A Visit to the Garden

The zucchini and yellow crookneck squash plants are looking pretty good, though none have started to produce actual veggies yet.  I will have to make time to weed out there very soon.  The sweet red onions are continuing to get larger.


This is today’s haul of tomatoes. I really don’t know why we’re getting so many little bitty tomatoes, but I’m grateful we can enjoy them with our meals.

It’s really humid out today. It’s 80 degrees now, which would be wonderful, but the humidity is 78%, making it feel like a sauna the minute you go out. We have had the doors open to enjoy the morning, but are going to have to close up, or I will melt into a puddle onto the floor in front of my computer…..

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Today’s Tomatoes

Our weather has been so weird this year that I don’t know what to expect on our ‘crops.’ Today’s tomatoes look as if I planted cherry tomato plants. I planted the normal tomato brands and types that are supposed to be happy with the climate of Arkansas (read HOT and sporadic water). We try to even this out with our irrigation system, but it gets to the point that the plants simply boil away when it gets to be too much.

We have lots of green tomatoes coming, though, so I’m hopeful we will get several more regular-sized tomatoes to enjoy this season.

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Motivation is Funny

Frans Lanting Photography-John Steed via Gitta Newman via Penny Yaffee Krakow


During the pandemic my husband and I have gotten lax about our keto eating plan. We are eating mostly that, but OTHER things come home in the grocery bags that “I” didn’t put in the cart. I’ve been cooking healthy, but have little will power when it comes to listening to my husband crunch fritos, Doritos, or potato chips, bagels, no sugar added cookies, etc. I also get cravings for starches – particularly rice. My husband won’t eat any of the substitutes, and usually that is fine. I have mine frozen in portion sizes and can just pull one out – except that I haven’t been. Excuses abound and the pounds gradually return…

On June 22nd we decided to get more serious before things got totally out of hand. Needing something to really get our attention, we ordered the South Beach diet program of prepared meals and eating plan. Our intention is to do this for two months. They include DIY breakfast, lunch and dinner two days per week, so I will still be cooking keto style, but hopefully, we will re-learn portion sizes, good practices, plus hopefully  a recipe or six that we like. I am hoping that at the end of the two months we will be back on track for losing the lard.

Our problem NOW is that because of Covid 19, their staff is cut and they are behind on orders. We ordered on the 22nd and according to their website, our first order has not been shipped yet. I’m hoping the first month’s food will be shipping in the coming week.

A funny thing, though –

Since we made the decision, both of us have eaten more carefully – I guess in preparation for starting the actual program. I’ve lost 3 pounds and my husband has lost more than that. My opinion is ‘whatever works,’ but it’s funny – and GREAT – that the lard is starting to come off again.

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We have two tomato planters. The one above is 8 feet long. The one below is about 4 feet wide. We took the potting soil out and put Mel’s Mix in, converting them both to square foot planters.


This is the ‘nook’ planter that is at the back of the house and beside the back porch. It’s a bit more protected that the other planter from the elements. Both took off during the rainy season here, growing really tall and bushy before I had a chance to try to control them a bit. Now I’m just trying to support the branches as well as I can and hope we have some nice tomatoes.


You can see we have some green tomatoes of different sizes.


Today I found some ripe ones!  I also found that we had blossom end rot, so I added bone meal, food, and some blossom end rot spray to both planters.



I will try to cut off some dead stuff and neaten things up in a day or two, after the rain will have hopefully made the additives sink into the soil.


I’m delighted to show you the first harvest of what I hope will be a great tomato season for us. We will eat one this evening, enjoying every bite! :0)

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Thoughts on a Saturday – June 20, 2020

Citizens State Bank

“A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.” — James Dent

The sun was out earlier here, but now it’s overcast. We have an 80% chance of storms today – the first day of summer. All people and animals are good today, and we’re hoping for a quiet weekend.

I pre-ordered the latest paperback “In Death” series book by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) awhile back. It comes out in July.  To celebrate this, I’m enjoying my dive into the world of Eve Dallas, Lieutenant in the NYPSD in the year 2058+.  I’m picking up details I missed the first time, as well as just enjoying inhabiting her world – so different from mine. I’m re-reading book # 23 right now (out of 50) and will be ready to add the newest book to my collection when it arrives. (I’ve also pre-ordered the paperback of #51 which will be out at the end of December.)















We are due for a rainy weekend. I’ve been working hard in the yard, trying to keep the weeds at bay. I see evidence that the ‘wild’ would simply take back the land we have enjoyed for over 30 years now if I lost my determination to win the war. The civilized part of our yard looks pretty good now. My next focus will be on weeding my veggie garden and my flower planters around the yard. I’ll enjoy it if I get a bit of a break from the work this weekend.

I heated up the leftover spaghetti with meat sauce I made this week for dinner last night. I used the spaghetti made from chickpeas (brand name Banza) that has half the carbs of regular pasta. It’s still a splurge, but I sure enjoyed it. I made garlic toast for my husband with hot dog buns, and used the keto bread I made for mine.)  My husband said, “This was delicious. Thank you!” :0)  We will have leftover pork chops tonight with a side salad.

Animal Wellness Magazine

I will continue the longer, slower sessions of gentle yoga I started yesterday. I’m concentrating on relaxing – harder to do these days – and S_T_R_E_T_C_H_I_N _G everything I have slowly and thoroughly. I’m feeling better because of it.

I hope your first day of summer is a nice one, too. ENJOY.






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Start of the Summer Garden

Yesterday I planted three yellow crookneck squash plants and 4 zucchini plants in the garden after weeding and prepping since I pulled the spinach and lettuce plants out.  I gave the new plants LOTS of room because the vines of all of these spread out all over the planters. I want to give them all the room they need. I have developed a taste for both of these since I spiralize them to use in place of pasta and rice on my keto eating plan.

I can clean and use the spiralizer on them, put them in individual serving sandwich bags, and then put the bags into a gallon freezer bag. I can then pull out what I need and quickly microwave MY ‘pasta’ or ‘rice,’ and cook the regular stuff for my husband when I making spaghetti or one of my ‘sauce over pasta or rice dishes.



I listened to a video that taught me more about growing and storing onions. He said that the ones that grow tall and make a flower are not good for long-term (over the winter) storage. Those should be eaten whenever you’re ready, but should be eaten soon after pulling. The others are fine to try to dry for storage.  (You can see my onions in this picture.)

Here you can see that some have a ‘bulb’ on top. These are the ones the man was talking about that should be pulled and eaten soon after harvesting, rather than trying to prep for storage.

With all the rain we’ve had, the tomatoes got really big and bushy quickly. They do have some bright yellow blossoms, and if you look carefully, you can see a tiny green tomato.  At this point, I’m just going to prop them up the best way I can and hope for the best.


This is the ‘nook’ planter, where 4 plants have also exploded in growth. With three weeks or so of pretty steady, heavy rain, things got out of hand. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we actually get tomatoes, rather than just a whole lot of greenery.

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Back on Track – I HOPE

The Pandemic is my latest excuse for not sticking to my diet and exercise program. (I have a whole sackful of excuses – and add more at a ferocious rate.) My husband is another excuse – he doesn’t have as much weight to lose. We grocery shop together, and all kinds of things I shouldn’t eat show up at home when we put the groceries away. I have decided to stop using this as an excuse, though. I’m hoping the man will live for MANY more years, so I will just have to be stronger on avoiding his ‘extras.’

Yesterday I got disgusted with myself – FINALLY. I re-read the first part of Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan. I am feeling re-motivated to get back on track and start losing the lard again.  I am now, (starting again yesterday) tracking my food intake on Suzanne tells you how to tweak the settings there so that you can follow your macro and even tweak it from time to time as needed. (Your ‘macro’ is the comparative percentages of fat, carbohydrates, and protein you should consume each day in order to try to lose the girth.) I have also decided to spend more time on, Suzanne’s website, to try to STAY motivated.

Before I fell off the wagon, I had lost 40 lbs and 43 inches. I have gained 9 pounds BACK since the Pandemic started. :0(  Since it is beyond stupid to try to stay safe from the virus while simultaneously stuffing food I shouldn’t be eating into my mouth, I’m promising myself to treat myself better.

Because of my good friend and hair dresser Michael Remillard, I learned that maltitol is to be avoided. Yesterday, when I was re-reading Suzanne’s intro, I noticed that she mentioned it, too, but apparently I simply read over the top of it. It’s in a lot of sugar-free and no-sugar-added products. It can spike blood sugar and is to be avoided.

Also, because of Michael, I have discovered an ice cream I can eat when I must! The brand name is Rebel, and the flavor I think is wonderful is Mint Chip. I’m also on the lookout for Triple Chocolate.  The PINT has 4 net carbs!  The pint lasted me for 4 servings. Hooraaaaaay!

One of the things that Suzanne said that really resonated with me was that  when you make a mistake at one meal, instead of just blowing off the rest of the day and eating whatever you want because the day is ‘blown,’ you should redouble your efforts by eating correctly the rest of the day, giving yourself a break and sticking to the plan. You don’t have to be perfect – you just need to be consistent.


Yesterday I made her “Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Bake.”  

“Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Bake” by Suzanne Ryan, Simply Keto

She encourages you to throw extra low carb veggies in wherever you can, so I throw fresh spinach into her already delicious recipe. (I tried broccoli previously, but my husband didn’t care for it.)  He doesn’t mind the spinach at all. :0)  6 servings. We each enjoyed a wedge of this with a big salad.

I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding carbs. (My personal macro has me staying at 14 carbs or under daily. )  My biggest problem is adding fat. I am studying her meal plans at the end of the book this time to get a better handle on what I can choose to better reach the 70% fat in a healthy manner. I have been tending to eat too much protein, and that can throw you off, so planning my eating with MyFitnessPal will help there. I can enter what I’m planning to eat, see how that meets my requirements, and adjust BEFORE I eat a wrong thing.  I am learning to pay more attention – using the tools that will help me, reading labels more carefully, etc.

Snacks and desserts are danger areas for me.  I have avoided these area in Suzanne’s book, but found something I want to try after the next trip to the grocery store – “Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nut Fat Bombs.”  I love casseroles, so I’m also going to get set up to try her “Twice-Baked Cauliflower Casserole.” 

Another lady I find who has good keto recipes is Kyndra of Peace, Love and Low Carb.   She sends recipes to my email inbox.

Sorry if I’m talking your arm off, but as you can see, I am newly motivated. I am hopeful that by NEXT Monday, I can report that I have lost some weight, changed a measurement, or I can report on the new recipes I’ve tried.

Meanwhile, I’ll bake a loaf of my keto bread today.


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Mother Nature Makes Harvesting a Challenge

First thing this morning I went out to harvest some lettuce so I could take it to Lunch Bunch and share some with Linda, Kay, and the two waitresses at The Pizza Barn, Susan and Mikey. I knew we had rain forecast for today, but it looked like it might hold off until we could share lunch at the picnic table in the parking lot before it started.

I brought the lettuce in and dumped it all into the sink. 45 minutes later, I had several small heads of lettuce and a lot of extra lettuce leaves ready to put in bags.

About an hour ago, Kay called, telling me the forecast now said we would get at least two waves of storms – each possibly severe – with hail. We agreed to call off Lunch Bunch for today.  :0(

I let Amber into the truck and we went down the driveway to get the mail. Just as we pulled into the garage after getting it, the rain started. We haven’t had hail yet, but it’s obvious we are in for the day now.  The sky is dark, almost like night. The garage door is shut to protect our vehicles.

Now we appreciate being able to stay inside a warm, dry house and hope that we JUST get rain today.

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Thoughts on a Monday 5-18-2020

Marabou Stork-photographer unknown via Penny Yaffe Krakow


If I come back to the world as something else one day, I either want to be this Marabou stork (above) or a shoebill stork (below.)

San Diego Zoo Animals and Plants

I love both of these birds. They are ugly – and they look like they have a sense of humor – like they’ll say something to make you laugh any minute. A great combination!

The sun is finally shining here!!!!  We have had an entire week of rain, storms, gusty winds, gray days.  It was SO nice to have to put on my sunglasses when we ran a couple of errands earlier today!

I fixed a big salad this morning. I will offer to share it with my husband, but he has some things he really likes, instead. I will eat part for lunch and the rest as part of my dinner. It’s wonderful to be able to use spinach and lettuce from our own garden in it! :0)

My husband is going to try to mow the yard later today, if it will dry up more. We are actually watching the grass grow now that the sun has come out.

I’m going to play in my art room this afternoon, trying to finish up a new idea I had.

Have a fun day!



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Between Storms

We are having a stormy weekend. Between storms, I went out to check our veggies, and wanted to share their progress with you.


These are the tomato plants in what I call the “nook” planter. They are in a spot on the back of the house with our porch on the left side of this picture. They are more protected from wind than the other tomato plants.


These are the tomato plants in the other brick planter we converted to square foot gardening with the soil alternative.  I saw some sweet yellow blossoms!


This is the main veggie garden.  I hope you can see that we are finally rid of the thigh-high weeds that were on the ground under the boxes.  There are a couple of areas I’ll spray again – if the rains ever stop – but mostly I have them under control now.


A little bit of head lettuce and then the sweet red onions.


Spinach in the foreground and head lettuce behind.


The head lettuce is forming heads now!  I’m still going to harvest leaves for salads while the heads are growing.


The spinach is putting on lots of new leaves.

I’m encouraged by the garden so far. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that, with all this stormy weather we’re having, we don’t have a lot of hail that will kill the plants.  We are sure enjoying lots of big salads!

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Harvest 5-9-2020

These pictures seem like they are the same couple of pictures TWICE. Actually, they are two different batches of lettuce I harvested today. I took two views of each batch so you would get a good idea of how much the head lettuce is producing. This is one view of batch # 1 today.


A second view of the first batch.



Batch # 2


Batch # 2

I processed and washed 9 gallon plastic bags of lettuce leaves today. I am rich in lettuce!  Guess who will be eating LOTS of salads starting at lunch today…

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Progress in the Garden 5-9-2020

I spent most of the day in my veggie garden today. I started weeding and harvesting the lettuce, brought that in and rested. Then I went out again and did the same, bringing in another full basket. I then weed whacked under the garden boxes, and finally sprayed weed killer under the boxes and around the inside perimeter.

Our weather forecast for next week is rain every day except Thursday, and we have a 60% to 80% chance each day. That’s a LOT of rain. We may need a boat by the end of the week.


So that meant that we basically had today and tomorrow to try to get the yard and garden under as good control as possible before the rain starts. My husband mowed the yard.


I got the garden under control and will do a lot of weed whacking and clean up tomorrow.


My plants are doing well so far. Everything is looking healthy and happy.


I took this close up to show you that the lettuce, as well as providing lots of leaves for salads, is starting to form heads!

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Thoughts on a Wednesday 4-29-2020

in an email from my friend Marsha

We have had a busy couple of days.

Yesterday severe weather was forecast, including rain, high winds, large hail, and flying hairballs to start around dark. I took old sheets out and covered up the veggie plants in my garden, plus my tomato plants, protecting them as much as possible. The bad weather came, with lots of lightning, wind, rain, etc. I didn’t know if we got the hail. This morning I uncovered everything, and we seem to have come through with no damage to my sweet veggies!

I’m doing several loads of laundry to change the dirty, dripping sheets into clean, dry sheets ready for the next time.


I am really relieved. If we have a quiet, nice day tomorrow, I’ll work on cutting down the weeds and then spraying weed killer UNDER my raised bed boxes, as well as around the perimeter. I’m not sure if we need more mulch to spread under the boxes. I’ll know more when I have the weeds under control.

I’ll also use the push-around weed whacker to clean up the area beside the garden. We have the lawn mowed after finally getting the new belt installed, but my husband didn’t have the time to mow around or beside the garden.

I took pics of our rose bushes before the storm. It’s a good thing, because ALL of them are bent clear over after all the wind and rain.  I am going to try to find some things to prop them up while they try to recover.




A small sign of things starting to get back toward normal was that the company that sprays for bugs for us called and sent out Adolpho to spray the inside, plus around the outside of the house for everything – including elephants. When you live outside of town in a wooded area on top of a ridge line, one of the things you take seriously is the creepy, crawly things that will suddenly erupt without constant heavy duty spraying by professionals. We have Tri-Hill Pest Control, 1308 Zero St, Fort Smith, AR 72901, (479) 782-2847.  Adolpho is the man who comes to help us. We can’t say enough about him. 

Besides uncovering plants, washing sheets, and meeting the bug man, I have made us lunch and baked another loaf of keto bread. I can’t say enough about this recipe from

I’ve tried a lot of recipes for bread, since that was the thing I had been missing the most. I wanted one loaf of bread that I could slice and eat instead of eyeing my husband’s roll with dinner. I wanted one that I could slice and put in the toaster while my husband had regular bread – and one that I might even be able to use for a sandwich, if I felt the urge, such as when we want a comfort dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for dinner.  I wanted the yeasty smell and taste of regular bread, as much as possible.

This one does all this. One loaf lasts me approximately a week. It doesn’t rise as much as regular bread, but it tastes good to me. I don’t feel deprived watching my husband eat regular breads – rolls, bagels, toast, sandwich bread, hot dog buns, etc. I will eventually branch out, trying other keto recipes for all of these various things, but this has really helped me in my efforts to stay on keto and lose the lard.

I hope that your day is full of hopeful things, too.



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Our Plants Survived!

I went outside with trepidation a few minutes ago to see what was left after the wave after wave of hard storms we had yesterday and throughout the evening. I noticed hail hitting the dining area window a couple of times and feared my new tomato plants and veggie garden would be beaten to death. As you can see from the photo above, the tomato plants in this planter are fine! Hooray!!!!!


This is the second planter for tomatoes. This one is more sheltered than the other, but nothing will help when hail is coming down. I was really relieved to see all the sweet tomato plants are still doing well.

I walked to the other end of our property where our raised bed square foot garden is. I could tell the water came up high on the plants before draining out, but nothing seems to be broken or beaten down.

This shows you some of the head lettuce and the red onions.


A couple of spinach plants, but mainly head lettuce.

And the spinach. As you can see, the plants were almost covered with water and soil by the storm, but then the drainage did it’s job.

We seem to be due for more storms tomorrow, but we have dodged another bullet, and I’m grinning from ear to ear.

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Today’s Harvest 4-21-2020

This picture shows you the head lettuce leaves I harvested today. I had to wash each leaf carefully under running water, and it was easy to see that the hard rain had pretty much filled the squares high up on the plants faster than it could drain during the storm we had yesterday.


These are spinach leaves. I’ll use these in our salads, but I’m hoping that the plants will give me enough that I can freeze some for later. I’m looking forward to a nice, big salad tonight. Our weather is glorious today – sunny and 74 degrees. We did some freezer diving last night and will cook out tonight for the first time this season.


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Tomato Plants

We call this our ‘nook’ planter. It is one we built in a space on the backside of the house right beside our screened-in porch. It is somewhat sheltered from our weather, so it’s a kinder spot for plants.

We converted the nook planter and this longer brick planter from potting soil to the soil alternative we use in our vegetable garden. It’s called “Mel’s Mix,” and was developed by Mel Bartholomew of Square Foot Gardening. (You mix 2 parts Vermiculite, 2 parts peat moss, and 1 part each of as many different composts as you can find. )

Here’s another view of the longer brick planter. We have a total of 10 plants in the two planters. I was worried the hard rain would have broken the new plants, but happily, they came though fine. Fresh tomatoes sliced with salt is one of our favorite foods in all the world. Hopefully, we’ll have a nice crop this year.

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Checking on the Garden

I was relieved to see that my veggie plants weren’t damaged by the recent really hard rain. I made the decision to plant only one plant in each square, although Mel Bartholomew of Square Foot Gardening says that you can plant 4 plants in a square. I wanted to give these plenty of room, particularly since I probably won’t be planting anything other than radishes with the pandemic.


This is one of the head lettuce plants. It is already taking up about 2/3 of the square. It looks healthy and happy, so I’m glad about my decision to spread out more.

I this picture, you can see three of the six boxes we built for our raised bed square foot garden. You can also see the irrigation system, in which the sprinkler in the center of each box waters the plants in that box. We have a timer attached so the plants are watered at the same time each day. We can either cut back on the time or increase it, or turn it off altogether, as needed.


Right now my head lettuce plants are a lot larger than my spinach plants. I’m carefully harvesting leaves from both, encouraging growth  and trying to keep the plants producing.

So far, everything is going well.


Filed under Gardening, Healthy Eating, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Veggie Garden Progress 4-15-2020

You can see the full box of spinach plants in this picture, but you can also see the barrels of ingredients for Mel’s Mix, the soil alternative I use. The tarp is covering a cement mixer. I use that to mix the ingredients together before dumping them into the planting boxes.

Here you can see 2 of the six planter boxes. A couple of spinach plants, but mostly head lettuce.


Head lettuce and red onions.

Here you can see all six planter boxes, and the fence surrounding them.

So far, all is looking good. If we have another good day tomorrow, I’ll harvest some lettuce leaves and spinach, plus spray the ground under the planter boxes with weed killer.


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Cheerful Veggies

Our veggies were smiling when I went out today. I see that I will need to make some time over the next few days to weed around the plants, but they are looking healthy so far.  Here you see red onions and some head lettuce.


This shows you that the boxes we built are about my chest high, in two rows inside a fence for protection from deer and other critters.  You can see the irrigation system, with a sprinkler in the center of each box.  I have spinach in the farthest box in the picture and mainly head lettuce in the closer one.


So far the head lettuce is looking great. I planted them far apart this year, with lots of room to spread out.


You can see the tiny weeds that need to come out. I also need to spray weed killer on the ground under the planters.


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Yesterday’s Harvest

Few things make me as happy as harvesting from our garden. Yesterday I did it quickly, though, because it was 40 degrees, gray and rainy.


Right now my head lettuce and spinach are very happy. I hope it continues so that we have a good harvest.

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Our 1st Harvest of 2020!

I went out this morning and weeded in our veggie garden. I was able to do a small first harvest!


We will enjoy lots of lettuce leaves from the head lettuce plants. Eventually, the head comes up in the center of each plant.  I’m basically a city kid, not having tried to grow anything before, so I was like a kid at Christmas when I went out one day last year to find I had heads of lettuce – just like in the grocery store – but larger, and NICE. Nice enough I was able to share with my friends.


I am hoping that my spinach will produce a lot. We will enjoy this in salads, but I will also try to freeze a lot of it. I love it that there is no waste.

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Thoughts on a Thursday 3-26-2020

Since it finally quit raining for a bit here, we are scrambling to get our yard under what passes for control around here.

My husband used the riding mower a couple of days ago to cut the grass (mostly weeds) for the first time this season. We had spread weed killer earlier, but this spring has been a perfect one for all the weeds that have ever been in our yard, encouraging them to burst forth as never before. Some of the weeds were over a foot high! It took my husband twice as long as usual to mow, but he got it done, leaving huge amounts of cut grass everywhere. The next day he used the push-around weed whacker to get big places he couldn’t reach with the mower.

That left it to me to wield the hand-held weed whacker to get what is left, trim and edge the sidewalks, around the planters, under the deck, etc.. This spring has also encouraged the weeds to come up in the rocks we have around the house. Usually we can simply spray weed killer on them, but this year they are so prolific we actually have to pull what is there first. I did the front yard yesterday. My body is complaining pretty loudly today, but I’m going to try to get the back yard done today.


When I finish, I’ll schedule a half hour to 45 minutes of gentle yoga stretching to get these old muscles stretched out again. I’ll schedule the elliptical trainer for days when I’m not doing so much in the yard.

I’m finding it difficult during this time to stick with my keto eating plan. I love the basics of it, but find I’m craving comfort type food during this stay-at-home time. I realize it’s probably just another excuse, but I ate some Blue Bunny New Freedom No-Sugar-Added Ice Cream with my husband last night.  It’s better for my husband, but it’s bad for me, as far as carbs go. It also has maltitol, which we should both be avoiding. “Being good” is difficult. Being good when my husband keeps bringing things I need to avoid into the house makes it more challenging. Being good during a pandemic is an even larger challenge.

Today I found a Low Carb Yellow Squash Casserole that sounds yummy. I’ll make that to serve with our leftover hamburger patties for our dinner tonight.  I will also make a loaf of bread from a favorite keto recipe so I can have some tonight.

It’s funny what each of us considers something that is ‘necessary’ to do in times when you are encouraged to stay home and avoid unnecessary contact with other humans. Apparently washing his car at the local car wash is a necessary thing for my husband, since he has just left to do it. I’m not even sure it’s open, though it is designed to be a place where no humans are needed. We will see if he comes back with a clean car or not.  Mostly, he has complied with staying home, so I’m trying not to fuss at him TOO much…

I am grateful that we are still healthy; have a warm, dry home; have food and water; and have Internet, books, TV, music, DVDs, art, pets, AND to-do lists to get us through this crisis. May we come out the other side as soon as possible and get people back to work.

Stay safe.




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Thoughts on a Sunday 12-15-2019

Kanno Hisao

It’s 42 degrees F. today – gray, wet and downright depressing outside.

When we left, we stopped at our mailbox to change our decoration.

We were really cold, trying to loosen nuts and change out cold metal decorations in the wind, but I’m glad Santa is up now, maybe waving at folks as they pass our driveway.

We got our groceries for the week. When we got home, I spent the next hour prepping food. My husband saw I had a lot to do, so HE browned the roast to go in the crock pot for tonight. I think that’s the first time in the 50-1/2 years we have been married that he has done that. I tried not to act shocked, and thanked him when he finished, giving him a big hug. :0)

While he was browning the roast, I cut up strawberries for his desserts, plus carrots, radishes, and celery to go with cherry tomatoes as part of my lunches. Now, all is finished and I’m relaxing with a cup of coffee.

I finished painting and spraying the two sizes of discs for the experiment on clip-on earrings. If I get them together today, I’ll post pics and you can tell me what you think.

I made a big push yesterday and am almost finished getting Christmas presents ready. I’m giving all handmade this year, and the Lunch Bunch group is exchanging gifts this coming Friday.

I finally found the large tub of Christmas decorations I’ve been looking for for a couple of WEEKS now. The tub was in the storage space under our stairs. I have the decorations about 2/3 finished now, and am definitely starting to get into the spirit. My husband was able to dictate (while I typed)  a Christmas letter to go into the cards of friends and family we don’t see all the time. I may get to the Christmas cards, too.

Definitely a day to enjoy being warm and dry here. I hope that wherever you are, you are able to enjoy the day.

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Filed under Healthy Eating, holidays, Lewis Art, Lewis Mailbox Decorations, playing in my art room, taking care of yourself, Thoughts on a ________

Carb Counting

email from Marsha Koenig

We have been making a lot of changes in how we eat over the last year or so.

It started with wanting to lose the lard. We chose Nutrisystem and had some success, but got tired of them dropping our favorite choices and so wanted to try to continue on our own, eating more real food.  We are trying to cut out sugar as much as possible, mainly due to my husband’s Type II diabetes, but also just for general health improvement. We are also eating a LOT less starch, pasta, bread, etc. We are trying to eat more raw veggies and fruit, plus nuts.

For the past several months, I’ve been trying to eat Keto based low carb meals. We vacillate on how well we do. My husband is cooperating, but eats too much fruit, cookies, and other stuff,  and doesn’t really care about trying to get into ketosis, since he’s basically the weight he should be now. I’M the one who still needs to lose the lard, going for another 30 lbs or so.

The thing I used in the past with success is

When I started doing keto, things got a bit confused for me. If I stay at the 20 grams a day level for carbs, the program says I’m not eating enough calories. I’m not really sure what to do about that. I can probably just continue to use it, record my eating to make sure I’m at the 20 carbs level each day and ignore the message. I would like to find a carb counting program that is more tailored to keto, if possible.

I have a great source of recipes, not counting the good sites online, and that is Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan. I’m re-reading the background material again, trying to get and stay motivated. The recipes are delicious. They’re not a whole lot of work and don’t require a bunch of ingredients that are difficult to find. I have truly never found a recipe book which has recipe after recipe we like.

Tonight I’ll make her ‘Sausage,Cheese and Egg Bake”


Filed under DIET!, Healthy Eating, taking care of yourself

Monday’s Harvest

It’s been about a week since I’ve been able to get out to the garden. Needless to say, there is a LOT to do out there now.

I did some weeding and harvested this zucchini and some tomatoes. I’ll go back out there later and prune a bunch of stuff and do more weeding.

We have some cantaloupe!  I used several plastic ‘bowls’ with holes in them that allow the cantaloupe to grow while keeping them off the soil.  I have no clue if we’ll actually get anything edible, but I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas watching them grow!

I’ll try to get some pics of the garden later to share.


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Wednesday Tomato Harvest

Our ‘nook’ planter (the planter between the porch and the back of the house that we converted to a square foot planter) is providing us with a wealth of tomatoes now! My husband just asked me to cut a cold one up for him for a snack.

We have been extremely lucky this season, even though it has been a weird one weather-wise, and we feel truly wealthy in tomatoes. :0)

If you come by the house in the next few days , I’ll be happy to share them with you!


Filed under Gardening, Healthy Eating, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Good News and Iffy News from the Garden

Good news and iffy news from the garden today.

GOOD NEWS – more ripe tomatoes and it looks like lots more to come.  The radishes and sweet red onions seem to be doing fine.

IFFY NEWS –  I have a lot of ‘greenery’ and blossoms from my zucchini and cantaloupe plants, but the actual veggies and fruits are looking wimpy.  In three days of my concentrating on other parts of the yard, the weeds are trying to take over. The heat index is 105 today, so I’ll have to wait until dusk to do anything out there. I’ll weed as much as I can and then put some extra fertilizer over things and see what, if anything, happens.

I absolutely LOVE trying to grow veggies and fruit. I have a wonderful set up, with chest-high wooden 4′ x 4′ planters filled with Mel’s Mix (peat moss, vermiculite, and several kinds of compost) and an irrigation system for consistent watering. I have unlimited hope and enthusiasm, but little expertise, though I’m reading and learning what I’m supposed to be doing on a regular basis. Thus far, the list of things NOT to do again is growing much faster than the successes, but my motivation is still strong.

Each lunch and each dinner features fresh, ripe tomatoes from our own garden. I ‘spiralized’ (made spaghetti-like stuff with the aid of my kitchen gadget) from one pregnant-looking zucchini from our own garden and my husband pronounced it ‘yummy.’  Next year I plan to grow yellow squash, too. We’re spiralizing that, too, and my husband is shocked that he enjoys both of these. He did say, though, that he’ll TRY some as a substitute for actual pasta, but doesn’t hold high hopes for the idea yet. I’m hoping I can convince him. :0)


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