and spirit...encouragement for your soul.

Hopefully this will be a place of resources and information for living a healthy lifestyle while feeding your soul. Recipes, links to helpful sites, words of encouragement and scripture....all to help you and your family make wise decisions for your life.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My brain is back in gear...

If you have been following my progress with this low carb/high protein diet, you know my brain has been out of commission. Since the brain operates on fat and carbs and I have deprived my body of those two nutrients, I have been pretty much mush brained. Even my hair is like straw and my skin is that of an alligator. It's amazing to me how fast your body changes when you do not feed it properly.

Yes, I know the current diet is not sustainable. I shall stay on it long enough to lose 90% of the weight I want to take off. Then I'll start reintroducing more fat and a few carbs. I had been assured my brain would adjust and get going again after a couple of weeks. I am now in the third week and I am happy to report I am starting to see a difference. I'm not where I need to be with focus and motivation yet but I'm getting there.

I am thinking of taking this day off and puttering in the garden so as not to beat myself up over not getting things done. If I plan to loaf maybe my mind can accept that I have been totally unproductive today!

One thing I know for sure...I'm going to Zellwood for some corn. Lots of corn. I'm not eating it but I am cutting it off the cob and freezing it for when I'm able to eat corn again. Is there anything better than Zellwood corn?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In it for the long haul!

I am happy to report an answer to prayer on the diet. I am beginning to accept that I shall have to stick with this diet for the long haul. Although I'll not have to stay with the drastic phase I'm doing now, I'll have to change my lifestyle for the duration. Currently my diet consist of packaged protein three times each day and several cups of vegetables. Once per day I may have meat and vegetables. Currently there are few vegetables from which to choose. Since I am a vegetable lover this has not be easy. I can hardly wait to get into the next phase so I can add another meat at lunch and more vegetables. I really miss carrots!

Okay, I'm finished whining. The really great news is...drum roll please....I lost another pound overnight. That is motivation enough to keep going. I know if I cheat or go off the diet for a day I'll have to start all over. I'm in it for the long haul!

I am looking for a creative spirit in myself to come up with a few good recipes I can use on the diet. If I can create a tasty dish or two it will help many who have started the diet with my doctor. I have spoken with a few of my fellow dieters and we are all hungry for a change in the menu. I'll be working on that this week. No carbs presents the biggest challenge because a casserole would be a really good thing but there is nothing I can use to hold it together. Everything in a recipe that is used to thicken or bind is a carbohydrate.

I'll publish any recipes I'm able to develop. Meantime, please pray for me and the other folks battling weight gain and diabetes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Please Lord, change my attitude about dieting!!

Okay, so I need to lose some pounds....many, many pounds. Can't there be a way to do that without becoming completely and totally bored to death with the food on the list? There must be something out there that would just melt away the pounds while eating tasty, visually satisfying meals. RIGHT!

Actually, I now know it takes focus and effort to lose weight. I didn't get this way overnight and I won't be slim and trim again overnight. I am praying for a change of attitude though. When you are a "foodie" like me it is even more difficult. I love food. I love cooking and trying new recipes. I love trying new restaurants and having lunch with girl friends. I love food!

The good news is, I have been following a low carb, high protein program for almost two weeks now and I have lost 12 pounds. How cool is that? I expect by the time I weigh tomorrow (the two week mark) I shall have lost another pound. I know if I stick with it I'll reach my goal in about six weeks. I think, with prayer, I shall persevere to the goal.

On phase two I'll be able to have a little more variety but I'll never be able to go back to my beloved Starbucks Frappuccinos! UGH! I'll never be able to just eat mindlessly again either. Sugar is gone. I'll eventually be able to stick to an 80/20rule but for the most part this is a life changer.

I'll do my best to stay with until I can relax a little. I've put to much into to it to quit now. Please pray for me to have the strength to make it to my goal. Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Perfect Day and Great Food....Recipes Included!

I wrote a few days ago about our perfect weekend at the Rainbow River (Blue Run) in Dunnellon. (See below or post for May 17) I also promised to post the recipes and that's what I want to do today....along with any stories that come to mind.

My friend, Judy, is a wonderful cook and enjoys spending all day in the kitchen preparing for guests that will arrive in the early evening. Judy never seems to grow frazzled or in a hurry. She simply enjoys entertaining friends in her beautiful river home. The one difference I've notice in Judy's style of cooking and mine is she measures. I love trying new recipes and sometimes measure the first time but after that it's a little of this and that. The advantage to Judy's method is consistency. Her salads taste the same each time while mine vary. I like consistency and plan to do a little more measuring.

Here's the salad we enjoyed Saturday evening:

Regal Romaine Salad

5 slices bacon
2 heads Romaine lettuce, torn
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Swiss cheese
2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 1/2 cups croutons

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, crumble and set aside. In a large salad bowl combine lettuce, tomatoes, cheeses, almonds and bacon. Pour dressing over salad and add croutons and toss.

Dressing: Whisk ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Cover and let stand for 3 hours.

This salad was one of the lightest, freshest tasting salads I have enjoyed in a long time. I can't wait to take it to church for our pot luck on Friday night. I am usually asked to bring my King Salad, a recipe from a flight attendant friend, but I think it's time they all tried something new. I know they will love it.

I am also going to bring a vegetable dish as that is what I signed up for. (Judy's salad inspired me.) I am thinking I may bring my squash casserole. It's a recipe from my former mother-in-law and is always popular.

Tootsie's Squash Casserole

3 cups squash, sliced and cooked
1 small onion, chopped and cooked with squash
6 tablespoons butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup saltine crackers, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Drain cooked squash and onions. Add butter and cheese while squash is still hot. In a separate bowl mix beaten egg and milk. Add egg/milk mixture to squash the add the crackers. Pour into greased casserole dish and bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until set and top is slightly brown.

This is one of my family's favorites and always requested for holiday meals. Holidays wouldn't be the same without Tootsie's squash casserole. My granddaughter is now making this dish about as often as I. She is a gifted cook, enjoys cooking and is developing her skills each day.

I hope you enjoy. Call me if you have any questions.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A perfect day!

Blue Run meanders through Dunnellon like a ribbon of peace and quiet most days. On the weekends it becomes a gurgling, swirling, drifting couple of miles of family fun. Floridians come from all over to float down the river. The style of floats and inner tubes is as diverse as the people enjoying the water and fellowship. Couples, teenagers, families, church groups...all taking a few hours to enjoy a cooling drift and commune with nature. Some of you may know the Blue Run better as the Rainbow River.

We were there for the weekend visiting our friends, Gary and Carol, and spent most of the time on the dock watching the floaters. The weather was absolutely perfect with a gentle breeze and plenty of sunshine. Our friends rigged a fire hose on the end of the dock they use to pump the river in a large arc back into the river creating a huge plume of water. The teenage boys trying to guide their squealing girlfriends under the water is predictable and amusing. Even the boaters get into the action by driving their boats (driver under cover) through the waterfall while the folks on the front scramble to avoid getting wet. Everyone has a good laugh about it then return to navigating between the floaters and the rocks.

All day friends come by and join us on the dock, stay awhile and then leave to visit on another dock. It's a river thing that goes on all weekend. Some come by boat others walk or come in golf carts or Polarises. We visited the neighbors yards to see the latest gardening projects and take pictures of the unusual flower of which no one can remember the name.

At the end of the day different groups join together for dinner in the river houses. We were blessed to be invited to Judy and Lon's river house for a fabulous pork tenderloin with a honey, orange, ginger glaze and sauteed spinach with garlic aoli, smashed potatoes with Parmesan and a delicious Regal Romaine salad with homemade dressing of lemon, garlic and oil. (I'll post a couple of these recipes soon.)

I enjoyed getting to know a new friend, Lisa, whom I had met before but had not seen in a long time. Lisa had a brilliant idea to take picture of the floaters and post them on her website where families can visit to order pictures of their children having a blast in the water. Her web site is

The weekend was a blessed break from our hectic lives. As an added treat just before we left to return home a mother red fox let us have a peek at her new family. It is such a rare treat we were simply mesmerized.

Thank you Lord for your awesome gift of natural beauty. Thank you for friends, both old and new. Thank you for a beautiful day to enjoy. Thank you for a day off from the stresses of our lives. Amen.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tis a joy to be simple...

'Tis the joy to be simple,
'tis the joy to be free,
'tis the joy to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight

This is an excerpt from an old Shaker hymn. I love visiting "Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill" just south of Lexington, Kentucky. The Shaker's had some strange beliefs but they were way ahead of their time in simplicity and innovation. At a time when the local folks lived in log cabins with dirt floors the Shakers had brick three story homes with wooden floors and beautiful, artistic staircases.

They raised vegetables not only for sustenance but for the seed. They packaged and sold seeds and were famous for it. They were innovators in farm tools and farming techniques. They were also celibate which explains why the Shaker movement died out.

One of my favorite trips was with my cousins to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. We stayed on the property in one of the original buildings. The furniture is very simple in style with straight lines. There are few amenities in the rooms and the wooden floors creak with every step. The bathroom was definitely bare bones as well. The food was fabulous, served family style and accompanied by hot biscuits and cornbread slathered with fresh butter. Most of the vegetables were grown there at Shaker Village and included an array of pickles, jellies and jams.

We enjoyed the visit so much we stayed for a reenactment of one the Shaker worship services followed by a quiet, serene ride on a paddle boat down the Kentucky River.

I long to go back to Kentucky this time of year. I can just picture the deep green leaves, the blue grass and a big table full of mouth watering fresh vegetables and pickles.

God bless the volunteers who work so hard to preserve the Shaker Village. Amen

Here's a link if you're interested in more information:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Old Friends!

We started first grade together, went through elementary, junior high and high school. We graduated together twelve years later. We have lived our lives separately and now we have come back together in our "senior" years. Most of us have grandchildren, some of us have many and I have grandchildren old enough to make me a great grandmother. PULLLLEEEEZZZZE!

We have lunch once per month. It's always fun and we're a little rowdy for most people's taste but the wonderful thing about age is....we don't' care.

We had lunch on the "veranda" today and spent much time laughing about the waiter who did not have a single thought in his mind that did not come out of his mouth. We shopped in the cute little gift shop and talked about a pact to never wear SAS shoes! (Wearing SAS shoes means you are officially old! Everyone knows that!)

We discussed our trials and tribulations, agreed to pray for one another, called friends to find out what Vera Bradley bag they were looking for, discussed our plans for the next few weeks. Some plans included great vacations, the impending birth of new grand babbies, visiting grown children undergoing chemo therapy and grandchildren going off to college.

Carol was out of town, Sue was baby sitting her grandchildren, Marsha was in the hospital and Carolyn was having lunch with her visiting brother. In short, not all of our usual gang was together physically but we were all together in spirit. We have enjoyed this type of friendship since we were little girls. We are blessed to still enjoy and, indeed, treasure our friendships some sixty years later. With God's blessing we will still be getting together once per month when we are 105 years old.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gardening is God's blessing for the weak!

A few days ago I wrote about my occasional "road rage" and my weak mind and explosive temper. Now I am writing about my love of gardening and the peace I find in watching living things grow. I marvel at the beauty of a flower blossom. I even like the weeds that bloom. After all, all plants started as "weeds." These are a few of the new blooms from this morning.

The gardenia is my very most favorite and I have been eagerly anticipating the day the buds would open. I have been carefully watching, watering, fertilizing, checking for bugs and disease and today I am rewarded with the first of many blooms. And then there's the fragrance....aaawwww. I love the lovely perfume of gardenia. Have you ever seen such a pure white?

The other pictures are special as well. This is the first year the yellow African Iris has bloomed. I planted it several years ago and I was beginning to think I was going to have to move it again or chuck it. As much as I love them I am not very tolerant of poor performers. I am patient enough to give them plenty of time to put on a show but eventually they have to produce.

The spike is an Agave Cactus, more commonly known as a Century Plant. Once it blooms the plant dies. The spike just started about a week ago and it's already 15 to 20 feet tall. You can watch it grow. Amazing! The last one that bloomed in our back yard grew to 40 or 50 feet and we had to cut it down before it fell and took out a tree. It was leaning and we were having storms. Hopefully this one will be allowed to grow and bloom.

I am thankful tonight for the gift of a green thumb and I hope you enjoy the pictures too.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Road Rage!!!

I am a calm, easy going person most of the time. I am very flexible, adapt to change easily and love life in general. There are a few things that will "set me off" but only a few things. One is looking for stuff that I know I put "right here." When it is not "right there" I have a tendency to throw a little fit.

The other thing that makes me a little crazy is slow drivers in front of me on a two lane road when I'm running 10 minutes behind schedule. Good grief! You would think I was a crazy woman! I don't make gestures or honk or anything anyone would notice but the thoughts that go through my mind and the words that emanate from my mouth are incredible. I can just hear my Aunt Ruth saying, "she'd be such a pretty girl if it weren't for that mouth." Sometimes I don't even recognize myself.

It happened tonight on my way to Lake Mary for a Juice Plus event. I was headed east on SR46 and you guessed it, someone is doing 25mph in a 55mph zone.COME ON!! Is it really necessary to come to a complete stop before you make a right hand turn? Do you slow pokes always have to be going in my direction?

The good news is, I came to my senses and started to wonder what Jesus would think of my thoughts and language at that moment. GUILTY! My friend, Pam, posted one of my favorite verses on her blog this week. It is my prayer for myself tonight.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight. Oh Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. Amen. Psalm 19:14