Posted in books, food

We Can Always Go For Indian…

When my sister and I were very little, Mom had an au pair for a few years. The au pair, Mari, was dating a young man from India, Jiwan, who taught Mom how to cook a few Indian dishes. Vibrant India, a cookbook by Chitra Agrawal, brought back those memories with a smile.

A bevy of delicious dishes, all plant-based, harking from southern India. You won’t find the heavy creams and curries in this book! Instead, your tastebuds will be taken on a delightful journey led by a tempting array of spices.

Chitra Agrawal is the talent behind Continue reading “We Can Always Go For Indian…”

Posted in books, cosmetics, food

My March Favorites!

I haven’t really done this yet, but I keep seeing monthly favorite posts everywhere! So why not try it myself? I can’t promise I’ll remember to do this for April, much less August, but at least we’ll have March!


My favorite lip product:


Bare Minerals Pop of Passion in Plumberry Pop – from one of my Sephora Play! boxes! I think I was a little meh about it at the very beginning, but I have become a fan. It’s always in my purse so I can just glide it on my lips whenever. It can give a little color or a lot, depending on how much you use. And it is soooo moisturizing! LoveloveLOVE it!


My favorite nail polish:


I love the New Orleans Collection from O⋅P⋅I, and all of them are super, but I have really fallen for Take a Right on Bourbon! It’s a white-silver metallic with a pearly finish, and it just looks lovely. Two coats gives it good opacity and it lasts a nice long while.


My favorite book (that was read this month):


The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen. If I’m not mistaken, I have now read all of Klassen’s books to date. Oh noes! I do love historicals, and though I’m not too much of a romance reader, you can suck me in totally with a well-written Regency romance. Julie Klassen writes those! The blurb about the book:

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes?

The baronet’s older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems—and secrets—of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father’s academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her….

When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame, and which to trust with her heart?

Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor’s Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast—a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions—where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.


My favorite scent:


Aerin – Waterlily Sun. I must have received this as a sample when I ordered something from Sephora, because there’s no other place it would have come from. From the first whiff of this fragrance I fell in love with it. It’s expensive, though! I’m not sure I’d hand over $110.00 for 1.7 ounces anytime soon. Maybe as a giftie to myself when I lose like 50 pounds or something? Yeah – that sounds good! But really – go sniff this for yourself at Sephora or Nordstrom’s. It’s delicious!


My favorite app on my phone:


Can You Escape for Android. The game is described like this: “The purpose of this game is to break out of the rooms. Solve the puzzles and find all the hidden objects that you have to use in the rooms in order to advance to the next floor. Challenge yourself in this fun, addictive, free and popular puzzle game.” It is fun, and it is addicting, and I’ve still just got the first one! You have to look under and inside things, move panels and objects, use things you pick up to affect other things, and remember codes and sequences – and figure out what they are to be used for. It’s fun!




My favorite drink:

Months ago, Hims and I began going to Barnes & Noble every couple weeks or so, browsing and then sitting down in the cafe to sip on a Starbuck’s. Yeah, like a cheap date. I’m easy like that. *laughs* Anyway, I asked if their chai tea latte could be made no fat and no sugar, because there’s a coffee house we go to nearby that has it that way. “Oh, yes,” the barista tells me. “Our chai latte is sugar free and can have fat free milk.” Super! So this is what I order. For weeks. The whole time I am putting in the PointsPlus for the other coffee house’s drink. When Weight Watchers totally got onto SmartPoints, I tried to find the fat-free, sugar-free iced chai latte in the data base. Nothing. I tried on the Starbuck’s site, and nothing. I found lot-o-sugar chai tea latte, but not sugar-free. So finally one night we are there, and I ask a young man behind the counter about it: “I was told they are sugar-free, but I don’t see that on the website.” Guess what? That barista who told me this was completely wrong. Like 62 grams of sugar wrong. I about died – no wonder I was having such a hard time losing any more weight! Then I got a bit angrier, because what if I’d been a diabetic? I’m asking for no sugar for a reason.

Anyway, this guy stepped up and kicked some ass. After asking me if he could try something (and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to pay for it), he pulled out a Venti size hot cup, put 5 pumps of sugar-free vanilla syrup in it, two teabags of rooibos tea (the African Autumn tea they have), filled it with water to just cover the teabags, and then added steamed non-fat milk. It’s a steamer with syrup, and it was just amazingly delicious. He called it African Sunset. I’ve had it a few times since – sometimes the baristas can make it almost perfectly, and other times they really screw it up. But it’s definitely my go-to drink at Starbuck’s now!


Favorite thing to watch on television:


You betcha – Stargate SG1 – all the seasons on DVD. We also have the movies that came after it, Stargate: Atlantis, and the original movie (with James Spader- ultra-yum!). Now, for the mega-dork admission – we play Where’s Waldo with cast members of the Stargates and the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. You’re always seeing them pop up in the SG episodes, and it’s fun just to point and call out: “There’s Gaeta!” or “That’s Chief Tyrell!” Because yeah – they are in some episodes along with others. Then there’s the Where’s Waldo game with Peter DeLuise: nearly every time he directed an episode of Stargate SG1, he is IN the episode somewhere. Sometimes he’s easy to spot, and other times you might catch a quick glimpse, which prompts us to rewind a bit and see if that really was him.

Yeah, so we’re a bit weird. 🙂


My favorite thing at Trader Joe’s:


Trader Joe’s Contemplates Inner Peas! It took me a long, long time to finally get around to trying these things out. I mean, how good could baked green pea pods be? But of course, this is Trader Joe’s we are talking about. Silly me for waiting so long. They are good – there’s not a whole lot of taste to them, but they aren’t bland. They are a bit greasy, though, so that might be a drawback for some people. Still, I love the things!


What else should I add to my monthly favorites list? Anyone have any suggestions?



Posted in food, Thursday Thankfuls

Thursday Thankfuls: Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s

When I moved out of Southern California to Oklahoma, two things I missed (other than the beach and the weather!): Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. While I lived in Oklahoma City, they were getting ready to open a Whole Foods, but it was still being built when I moved away in July, 2011. No sign of a Trader Joe’s, though.

I found myself in Ohio in the wee hours of August 1. Did I go straight to my new home? Nope. Hims had been driving for 14 hours, but he knew… oh, the man knew… Instead of finding a nice patch of floor to flop down on to sleep, he drove me to the local Trader Joe’s. I danced in the parking lot, shrieking for joy. (I really did!) Then we went to the apartment to sleep a bit before unloading the van.

My kitchen has been “stapled” with Trader Joe’s items ever since then. We shop at the wonderful local store Dorothy Lane, and we go to the farmers’ markets for eggs and produce, but we are mainly a Trader Joe’s household. You have to admit – their packaging is fun and their food is great, and the prices are pretty damn good, too.

When Whole Foods finally opened its doors last week after being under construction for months, we had to go. Not because we are going to switch groceries, but because Whole Foods is that other little bit of California rememberings. The first thing to greet us when we walked in:

Have a seat in a shopping basket while enjoying your Shiraz!
Have a seat in a shopping basket while enjoying your Shiraz!

I had to laugh – it looked more like a cocktail party than a grocery store. It was Friday evening, and probably 4/5 of the people in there were dressed quite nicely and had a wine glass in hand. That’s great! They had little wine stations throughout the store, with samples of different foods for people to try. There was a jazz band playing, and people were sitting down and having dinner.

Just recently another healthier-alternatives grocery store opened up in the area. Fresh Thyme. Pretty much the same people showed up for their grand opening, too, though after the new wore off, they seemed to gravitate back to where they were originally shopping for the most part. I wonder if the same thing will happen to Whole Foods? (I sort of doubt it, at least not as much.)

At any rate, I’m really happy Whole Foods has joined Trader Joe’s (and Dorothy Lane and Dots) in the neighborhood. Always good stuff to be had there, and the more competition, the better for prices, right?



Posted in fitness, food, goals, Weight Watchers

Food and Me… and Food

I grew up in a house where food wasn’t wasted. You ate what was on your plate. Mom or Dad made the meals because the kids put too much peanut butter and jelly on the sandwich, or too much salt on the potatoes, or didn’t pay attention and burned the rice. Food was expensive, and not something to waste.

As an adult, food was – and is – something of a security blanket. I went through quite a few really lean years, and I became a food stasher. You know – that person who buys cans of stuff on sale, bags of rice, packages of oatmeal, and stashes them in the cabinets with the intent to eat them. Only a stasher will eat a few of the things and save the rest, because what happens if something happens and there’s no money for food when I need it? So instead, I would go grab something at a take-away place, or “treat myself” at a sit-down restaurant, because doing that made me feel secure, too. After all, if I have the money to eat out, then I must be doing okay, right? And by eating out, I’m saving the food I have stashed at home for when I really need it! Of course, then there are the office goodies. I wouldn’t pass them up – and would tour around for seconds most of the time, too – with that same type of thought in my head: if I eat here, then I won’t need to buy lunch (which I would usually do, anyway), and that will save money so I can go out another time so that will save the stash of food I have at home for when I might really need it. And yes, I would take home leftovers if offered.

A little confusing, right? Hey, I am still shaking my head in disbelief, too, even while I still have those urges.

Food became a weapon, too, after enough relationships had gone sour. I ate because it quieted my angst over being dumped or stood up or cheated on. I ate myself from being a cute, little thing at 120 pounds to hiding away in my “man armor” at 185. Yes, I even called the extra weight “man armor”, because it kept men away from me who would have otherwise broken my already taped-up heart.

By the time I hit 190, food was also a punishment. I couldn’t fit into clothes I wore last year? Fine! I would order a large Papa John’s pizza – with seven or eight garlic dip packs, of course – and by God I would have to eat it all. I would make myself eat it all, because what the hell? I can’t fit into anything, so who cares if I get fatter? I did something stupid? Fine! Go through the drive-thru and order a double burger and large fries with lots and lots of mayonnaise and a large Diet Coke (because I actually prefer the taste of diet). It won’t matter, because I’m a loser anyway, so why not at least do the one thing I know how to do, and that’s treat myself to food!

My last weigh-in was at 236.6 about a month ago. I’ve been sliding between just under 240 and down around 216 for three years now. When I first began Weight Watchers in October of 2012, I weighed in at 226.2. I just knew that by that next summer, I’d be out in the swimming pool, not afraid to show myself to the world!

Yeah, that totally didn’t happen. I couldn’t even lose the first 20 pounds, or even the first 5%. At least I got the ribbon one time for losing my first 10 pounds…

At any rate, I should be weighing in tomorrow morning. I don’t expect a large loss, even though it’s been a month. Hecks, I’ll be happy if there is any loss at all! And I will simply take it from there. I’ll go day by day, week by week, and try to lose this excess weight once again. Because I know I can do it – I just have to do it.




Posted in fitness, food, goals, walking, Weight Watchers

Day Three

It gets a bit easier after the third day, I keep telling myself. This is the third day of being back on Weight Watchers (for the bazillionth time!) for me, and I think it’s getting easier.

I hope it is, anyway.

I’ve been tracking my food and drink in the 3-month book you can purchase at the meeting places, so that’s been good. Now, actually tracking Activity Points? Not so much. The monthly pass, with it’s free online access and the extra $5 a month for the ActiveLink (WW’s answer to the FitBit), was cancelled last month – which means everything goes back to being done manually. Maybe that’s what I needed? We’ll see.

This afternoon found me at the track. Only ten laps, which is about 4/5 of a mile, but at least it’s something. A couple days ago I did a mile, and a few days before that I actually did two miles! I’m going to blame my small number this afternoon on two things: I’d just eaten at a new Thai restaurant so was quite full, and that the pollen and such is swirling around today and affecting my asthma.

Okay, so that first one is totally my fault and shouldn’t be accepted as an excuse. Hey – gotta try, right? And I gotta stay silly and have a positive outlook, which includes adding excuses so lame they’re ridiculous.

So there.

The good things, though:

  • tracking and measuring food
  • getting off my butt and doing some exercise, no matter what
  • drinking lots of water – way more than I used to (in my WW sippy thing!)
  • smiling and believing!

There are 150 days until the 5k, which I am determined to finish in under one hour. I’m going to do it, dagnabbit!


Posted in food, Italian, Weight Watchers

Making Zuppa Toscana

Last week, Hims and I decided to try Olive Garden again, as neither of us had been to one in five years or more. I hear all the comments about it being “industrial Italian”, but we figured it was worth a try after all this time. Picky Me liked what I had. I’m glad it’s not something we’d choose to do on a regular basis; I’d eat myself silly! (Garlic breadsticks, I’m lookin’ at you…)

I ordered the Zuppa Toscana, having never tried it before but curious. Oh… dear… I loved it so much I went home and looked up the recipe, and wound up making it last night using the recipe I found on, with a few tweaks like turkey sausage. I don’t cook that much, so was happily surprised when this stuff came out heavenly! So, so good.

My first try at Zuppa Toscana
My first try at Zuppa Toscana

And grateful I didn’t figure out the Weight Watchers PointsPlus cost for a bowl of the stuff until afterwards, because at 14 points per serving, I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it quite so much! It was definitely points-worthy, I admit. Now I’ll have to work on a lighter version: experiment with something other than heavy whipping cream, or perhaps less than the called-for cup, maybe less potatoes. (Of course, I could always just leave the sausage for Hims, and that would cut out a lot of the points right there!) When I do figure out a lighter version, I’ll be sure to post the recipe – and the results! – here.