Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bread Adventures - Naan & Swedish Flatbread

 Naan is a traditional Indian bread that I've had before. 

Basically it is usually prepared in a clay tandoori oven.  Not having one of those, I used a heavy lidded pan.  Using one of the bread doughs in the book, it is prepared somewhat like a large pancake.  I made mine a bit too thick but it was still good. 

I liked learning the technique because we lose power a lot!  We have a generator and can cook in small appliances but not the oven... so now I know we can have fresh homemade bread done in my electric skillet!

I'm not sure I like the flavor much.  It is somewhat bland (to my taste!)

With butter, though, it was a good accompaniment to our meals.

Below I share my foray into Swedish flatbread.  Not so successful!  I definitely got it thin enough but I think I pulled THIS one out of the oven too early.

To my understanding, this is supposed to be somewhat like the Ry-Krisp we buy in the store.  If that is true - I failed!

But I DID make soft rye-flavored wrap-type bread that did really well with a sandwich filling.....  that is - IF you like rye (which I do :-)

Bread Adventures Ksra (Moroccan Anise and Barley Flatbread)

Baking along in  the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Thinking about this bread makes me smile for several reasons.  First of all, I am writing this blog MUCH later than when I baked it..... and am noticing things I didn't notice before.... like the word FLATBREAD :-)  I have made this bread since and made it as a loaf!  Still pretty yummy, I must say.

Exactly why I like this book so much!  A kitchen-challenged individual can still create great bread!  Stripping away the magic so I can accomplish this regularly doesn't strip away the awe in other people's eyes at my achievements :-)

I remember when I made this bread the first time ... all I focused on was that it has ANISE in it and I was fairly certain that my family wouldn't even try it.    Looking at the photo below, I must have picked up on the flatbread part.  It's a little puffy for flatbread but not as big as a loaf.   I baked it when my brother and his family came to visit, hoping that maybe THEY would help us eat it!

And they did - I really liked it.  The flavor is reminiscent of rye with all that nutty-flavored barley in it.  It's hearty and filling.... the dough makes 3-4 loaves so be prepared to find people to help you eat it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Crochet Post! Dishcloths #279-282 and #283-286 and more!

I am working on lots and lots of baby stuff again :-) These two little sets are representative of the ones I am making.  They don't have the booties with them because I needed to send the little blue sweater & hat to its new home right away.  I will send the booties later when I finish them.

 I have put the martial arts afghans away for a little while so I can work on all my new baby things.  I have several things on the agenda - it will be a while before I can share any finished objects :-) especially since the booties will live in my sewing basket for a bit before I wind them up!

I still have ONE more dishcloth to do and TWO to finish stitching before I finish the whole 365 dishcloth challenge :-) (Maggie Weldon's 2011 Dishcloth a Day Challenge at  All the patterns are still in the archive if you find any you like.

The one I am stuck on is called the Crocodile Stitch.... I will have to put down baby sweaters for a few days to figure the thing out!

Dishcloths for the week are below:

#279 Christmas Flower Crochet Dishcloth - pictured below on the bottom left, this pretty variation on the granny square works up quickly and easily.  It's lovely in Christmas colors but I think it would make a really pretty scrap afghan!

#280 Shell Variation Crochet Dishcloth - pictured below on the upper left in a baby pastel variegated cotton yarn, this is another pretty pattern that works up quickly.  I didn't like the way the border is done.... or maybe it's me, but I couldn't quite get it to lie flat.  I think I would use the pattern again - but probably for a long scarf.  I think that would do better than a flat dishcloth.

#281 Liberty Square Crochet Dishcloth - pictured above on the upper right.  This one is a bit unusual in the pattern stitch - done in alternating rows of double and single crochet.  It adds an extra level of interest with variegated yarn - but I think it would be pretty with different colors on each row too!

#282 Linked Leaves Crochet Dishcloth - above on the lower right.  Oh my - I did not like this one!  I almost always enjoy figuring out a new pattern, so that part was okay.  That said - once I figured it out - I don't like it.  It stretches too much.. I think it will snag when I try to clean with it. 

The next four cloths are shown below:

#283 Berry Bushes Crochet Dishcloth - pictured below on the upper right.  I LOVE this pattern for dishcloths!  Easy to do, it's nice and nubby.. exactly right for the product :-)  That said, I messed up somewhere around the middle and lost track of stitches.  It's not exactly square.. but will definitely serve the purpose... and it's worth trying again to make for gifts :-)

#284  Candy Corn Crochet Dishcloth... hmmm..... I bet you can guess this one :-)  Definitely easy and cute and will be fun to make for the grandkids!

#285  Orange Blossom Crochet Dishcloth - pictured above on the lower right.  This one shows how much a small applique can do!  This is nothing but an orange circle with a flower applique - and it's adorable!

#286  Christmas Star Crochet Dishcloth - another FAVE!  I found this pattern worked up really quickly once I laid the foundation.  An easy, impressive gift idea :-)

Have fun crocheting!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Plateau, anyone?

Why is it that we want everything fast?

Is it an American phenomenon?  Is it a product of the fast information age?

Are we just spoiled and want everything right away?

Probably all of the above.

We want our vehicles to go faster... our computers to load info faster... our money to come faster... our desires to be instantly granted.

I have been frustrated with this weight journey of mine.  As many of you know, I lost 60 pounds several years ago.  I had been overweight for most of my life so had no real clue what my weight "should" be.  It was an exciting journey of learning to exercise and work out - to eat healthier versions of favorite foods & learn about portion control and calories.  And the weight came off.

And I began to participate in races and other foot events.... and I trained.  And it was exciting.

But I missed the old life.  I missed eating snacks with my family.  I missed all the things I used to crochet.  I missed all the reading I used to do.  So I tried to incorporate things I love to do and create a new life.... but it is much harder and much less exciting than quick change!

My life since then has been a creeping crawl of weight gain.....  half of it is back on my body.  But I'm not completely sure that WAS my body.  I looked good, yes... but I'm not sure that was my 'perfect' weight.  I still don't know what that would be :-)

I have lived in the fear of weight gain....  I have gained it and lost it quickly.... and gotten so sick it took months to feel better again and gained back more.  I have been DESPERATE to lose and all caught up in the pantry / fridge binging.  Does anyone else binge on salty (chips) and need to top it off with sweet (ice cream)?  Vice versa works too....  But I refuse to live in fear any more.  That is no way to live.

So I am working on what I am eating..... and trying to figure out movement... something I can live with and do day by day.  I am trying to create a life.... a healthy, fear-free life where I eat what I want and do what I want.  Thing is, I am trying to honor my body by feeding it real food.... (which I do not always want!)  But I am listening to it.  I have heard the message that I will sleep better if I don't eat after 8pm.... so most nights I don't.  I have heard the message that too much salt or soda will make my hands swell in the morning... so I am careful.  I am beginning to hear the message that excess sugar and grease makes me shaky and sick and grouchy - not to mention all the bodily backfiring from some of these!

These are important things.  These are the things that mean that I am beginning to WANT healthy food instead of junk binges.  THESE are the things that mean that one day I will not have to worry about food - I will eat like a thin healthy person.

And these are also the day-by-day boring things that happen during a plateau.  I spent more than 50 years battling binge behavior.... I spent more than 50 years battling emotional eating... what makes me think that a month or two (or a YEAR for that matter) is long enough to make a permanent change?  There is wisdom in taking time to really learn what you need to do so that it is easy... a LIFE, not a project.

I don't care what the 'experts' say about creating a habit in 30 days.... it takes me less than 5 minutes to UNcreate it .... I need to keep working on it.  My plateau will continue until I really get it... and then?  Well.. when I really get it, when I really understand the process and have it in place, I will have the body God intended for me to have... healthy, strong and, yes, a bit thinner than I am now (I think :-)

So, I'll take the plateau, thank you.... and I will keep working on it - healthy foods, real recognizable foods - and I'll figure out this exercise thing eventually too!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Joining a Gym....

     First off, as many of you know, I live pretty far out in the country.  30 minutes from any fast food – something that has stood me in good stead!  But this also means I live pretty far from a gym or a whole foods store.. so, for the most part, I rely on my home workouts (walking, dvds and free weights) and whatever I can find at a grocery store.  Anyway – 45 minutes away, in an area I hit once or twice a week.... is a gym.  And my goal for the last week in May was to stop in and see what was there.  That’s it... just darken the door with my presence.... and I think many of you understand what an achievement that was all by itself.

      So, I was running an errand on that Tuesday and decided to bite the bullet.  Made it inside the door.... it wasn’t too busy so I talked to the young lady at the front desk for a minute and discovered that membership (which included some free classes like Zumba and other stuff I’ve never tried) was only $20/month...... and, if I joined before the end of May, there would be no annual commitment.   Hmmmm.....  I tend to leap first & look later... so I decided to give it a 24-hour test.  I had to go back in to town on Wednesday anyway.

      Next day, well.. I am excited.  Seriously, $20 is the cost of some dvds.... and I couldn’t FIND classes to take that would cost this little.... and a gym would add a layer of motivation (well, maybe).... and, with no annual commitment, I could try it for the summer.... so, what’s to lose?  I drove there, walked in, and it was a ZOO!  You know how busy some places get... not a big problem.. I found someone to wait on me, and take my money.  But it was so crazy.... I decided I would have to come back to find someone to at least give me a tour of the place.  I knew that I would be coming in with my son to brave the wireless phone store Friday morning and I thought that things would be calmer then.  So, I leave.... at this point, signed up but really intimidated by all the machines and noise.  The people were perfectly nice – but I am fat and intimidated in my brain – so sometimes I need a little extra loving care.

            Turns out, my son was free on Thursday... so back in the car to deal with things.... and I stopped by the gym again.  Now all is quiet again and I am back with the original young lady.  I talked to her for a few minutes and tried to get a little information – like a tour (where the heck are the bathrooms?  Where are the classes held?).  Bless her, she looked at me like I had 3 heads.. she answered my specific questions.. but I still didn’t set foot past her desk.  Finally she said that there was a class on how to set up your own training plan on Friday morning... maybe I could try that?  I said I’d try..... but I think you KNOW how defeated I was walking out of there.  NOT confident..... NOT excited.....  NOT looking forward to driving in yet AGAIN... TOTALLY intimidated.... close to kissing that $20 good-bye and writing it off as a bad idea.

            Friday morning, I was still not sure.  I had a headache.... I was grouchy... and a little bit aggravated at this point – with myself as well as their welcome package!  But, with a little nudge from my beloved, I decided to drive in AGAIN anyway and check out the class.  BINGO!  Thank you, God for the fortitude to get that far!

            I was the only one to show up for this class.... the personal trainer I met with worked with me NOT to set up a training plan.. we spent the hour checking out the facility and introducing me to each machine.  We also talked about the different things the gym offers and how to get involved.  We decided that I would come back the next time the “design your own plan” class was offered that fit in my personal schedule and go from there.

            So here we are now.... I am so proud that I pushed and pushed and made myself get that far.  I was SO CLOSE to walking out and giving up.  I now feel able to go back and actually do something.  My goal is NOT to use the gym X amount of times per week.... my schedule is so variable that I can’t always get there.  But I wanted a reasonably priced alternative to add to my personal home program.  A place to possibly get a workout on the days that I have to be out and about all day.  I wanted a method of enhancing my workouts that wasn’t solely reliant on ME and my mindset.  And maybe I will be able to hook up with some people in real life to work with when I am able to... it’s all good.  And I made it happen – what happens next is another story...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Buy New Clothes

As I continue on my quest for health and my 'perfect' body size, I am caught on the horns of a dilemma.  Some of my clothes are tight.  Some of my pants are uncomfortable.  Some of my button-up blouses are gaping.  Pooh :-(

So.... what to do?

I don't want to spend the money on new clothes.
I SHOULD be able to drop a few pounds and be comfortable again.
I shouldn't be gaining weight.
I am stupid, fat, lazy, useless.... well, you get the picture.

How many items of clothing do you have in your immediate reach that do NOT fit, flatter, or make you feel good about yourself?

GET THEM OUT of your immediate reach.  NOW.  They aren't helping you.

Do you realize that those items (which may not have been favorites when they DID fit but sure are now :-).... are feeding your self-loathing?  Which in turn feeds your unhealthy (fat?) self....  sooo.... clothes that don't fit.... and hang around where you can see them or grab them or whatever... are just getting in your way.  Keeping clothes nearby that do not make you feel fabulous.. are a form of self-sabotage.

Yes, you hear me right.  Self-sabotage.

When you try on a shirt and it gapes, how do you respond?  If you are like me, the habit is to berate yourself, wear an old t-shirt, fell guilty, starve the first half of the day and console myself with high-chemical treats in the latter half - you know,  1000 calories on non-nutritive STUFF that I DESERVE (?)

When you are wearing something that fits you in a flattering color, how do you respond?  If you are like me, you leave your room, feeling good... strong... confident enough to SMILE, EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST.... and do a better job overall in honoring your body.

I hear you... who can afford new clothes?  And since it's only been 5 years since I initially lost all that weight, I have a RANGE of sizes to choose from now.  I have found that there is JOY in buying new clothes that are smaller.  I am not sure why - but somehow it is NO PROBLEM to buy smaller clothes - the problem is buying larger ones.

I have decided to honor me..... the ME that I am today.  The wonderful, fabulous person in my mirror DESERVES clothes that fit and flatter.  Everything I reach for should be something I like that makes me feel good.  So, when I try it on, and it gapes, pinches, reveals more than I like.... I pull it OFF my body and make a quick decision whether it goes in the giveaway box or gets stored for later.  Because my size truly IS changing back and forth these days as I get healthier... as I eat more REAL food and move my body in better ways... as I fight the self-sabotage that is more the issue than pounds.

So... yeah... I am shopping for clothes.. basics and a few fun things... and I don't mind free if anyone has some they want to share... because I deserve to feel pretty... and strong.... because I AM :-)