Saturday, October 29, 2011

Life is full of surprises!

View from  my kitchen window three days ago.
View from my kitchen window this morning, October 29, 2011!
 Hello everybody. It's a cold, snowy.....yes, I said snowy, Saturday here in PA. What a surprise! This is a little unexpected, but we are actually getting snow. Some parts about an hour or so away from us, will be getting about 8 inches. I think we will get about 1-3. It's not sticking to the roads, but it's definitely a day to stay warm inside. I have lots of "homework" to do for the business, but I just can't get motivated to get started. I was at the office all day yesterday and my mind needs a break. I decided to make that crock pot chili with the pumpkin from the skinnytaste blog. It will be great tonight for dinner. You know we eat out alot, and I can't remember the last Saturday night we ate at home. But we went out with friends last night and Penn State football starts in a few minutes, and it's just that kind of stay at home by the fire kind of night. It's nice to have dinner in the crock pot. I don't use it much, but love when I do and everything is ready at the end of the day.

Saturday night chili!
You know I love all of you, my blogging friends. I really look forward to reading your blogs and hearing about what's going on in your life.When I blog,  I always feel like I need to say more than just what's going in my life. I want to make it interesting, and  give something worthwhile to you. But today when I was reading Kay's blog, and she mentioned how alot of us aren't blogging that much, I realized that I should do it more and not just when I have something important to share. My favorite things to read are the normal posts, the real stuff about your lives. I guess that's why reality TV is so popular. So along with my resolution to be better about tracking what I eat, I want to try and check in, if not every day, then at least every other, and share a slice of my life, whether boring or exciting, pictures or no pictures.

So what's going on in my life? Well work, as you might have guessed. Both of my new girls started and I have high hopes that they will work out great. It's exhausting teaching them because I have so much talking, explaining and demonstrating to do. But they both have office experience and are quick learners. One of them is very overqualified ( Masters in health administration from Cornell!) but she has four girls and wants a part time job and has run a practice before. I see a light at the end of the tunnel for me as far as getting alittle relief. It may be harder on the budget to hire two people, but even if less is coming to my pocket, it will be worth it to get a little of my life back.

Roscoe and Riley
Steve, Roscoe and Riley
Thursday night  my blood pressure was raised a bit. I was sipping a glass of wine in my women cave (den/home office). One dog was on the leather love seat next to me chewing a bone, one was curled up on the chair, and one was on the floor sleeping. The bone dropped and I don't  know what happened, but a big fight occurred. My husband came running in from the other room, and we couldn't pull them apart.There was yelping and growling and teeth showing. We finally did, and I was so upset that they would fight like this. Roscoe, who is the smaller one, really went after Riley, the larger one. Steve, the white one, is getting older and grumpier and I think he may have went for the bone when it dropped,Roscoe reacted to get it and poor Riley got caught in the middle. I'm not really sure, it all happened so fast. Try as I might to replay it in my mind, I still do know how it happened. So when everyone calmed down, I'm petting Riley and telling him it's all right and I happen to look at his neck between his collar bone. There is hugh tear. No blood, just looked like raw flesh. He has alot of loose skin ( who doesn't right?) and when I told my husband to look at it, at first he couldn't even find it. But when he did, he said he needed stitches. So off to the vet he went at 9PM. He came back about 40 minutes later. Turns out the vet said they will have to put Riley to sleep and he will need surgery to put a drain in. Apparently with a wound like that, if you don't do this, fluid can build up under the skin and infection can occur. So Riley spent the night and now he is home and fine. The drain will come out tomorrow, the stitches in a few weeks. $1600 and all is well. The fact that my dogs, who always get along so well, would get into a fight was another surprise for me. I remember this happening once a while ago with two of my great danes, the most gently docile dogs. It also was over a bone. The vet said food, bones can cause this. My son said 'Mom, remember how Mike and I would get into some huge fights growing up and you had to break us up?' I do remember that.  But this still caught me by surprise!

So I'm doing pretty well with my tracking, and it is showing that I have been going over fairly often. I realize that now I have to track before I eat, not after, or at the end of the day as I sometimes do when I'm working. I always know what my breakfasts and lunches are, but when we eat out, and I go home and try to figure out the counts for what I ate, there are often some surprises! There it is again....surprise! So I know some planning before I put it in my mouth will help in this area.

View from my front window.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, filled with good surprises!

Thought for the day: If you expect nothing, you're apt to be surprised. You'll get it. ~ Malcolm Forbes

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Keep on tracking!

Yesterday I wrote about how one of the components of my recommitment to weight loss, is to really be diligent with my tracking or food journaling. The good, the bad, the ugly is going to be written down. You have to own it before you can change it right? Well today one of the daily emails I get about nutrition, Joy Bauer's daily plum, cited this  recent study regarding food journals.

"Nutritionists and dieters have always known it, but now one of the largest and longest-running weight loss trials ever conducted proves it: food diaries work. Big time. The trial, known as the Weight Loss Maintenance trial, compared different approaches to maintaining weight loss over a period of 30 months, and found that subjects who kept a daily food diary lost twice as much weight as those who didn't."
When you think about it, it's simple to do and easy. Write it down. I'm trying very hard to be diligent with this. I write on my tracker, but also use, and the tap and track on my ipad or droid.  The site www.myfitnesspal that Dawn uses is also great. I just started with and for some reason the myfitness pal app doesn't go full screen on my ipad. I love to keep that on the kitchen counter ready to go. also reminds you to weigh in weekly with a friendly email reminder. As if we need a reminder right?? I'm on and off that scale so much, scanning the numbers for any change in the right direction. Obsessive...I think not! Just diligently keeping track!

Enjoy the rest of the week. Hugs to you all from me!

Thought for the day: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday, also known as hump day and for some people it's weigh in day!

Good day everyone. I am making a real effort to keep up with the blogs and post on those I follow. It really does keep you motivated, inspired, and full of great tips and ideas. Just picked up a great recipe from Jeri, a new website to check out from Katie and motivation from Kay. All with the click of the mouse!

So I am proud to report that those four pounds I picked up over vacation are off. I was surprised, but very happy. I think I did a fist pump in the bathroom! Yay me! I made the recommitment to this plan this weekend. I realize that I don't write down,  I try to keep track in my head and therefore I'm probably way over each day in the sugar and carb area. So I went back to basics. I know I can't go from a carb filled vacation right to fast track eating. For me that would be too restrictive and I don't do well when I feel restricted. So I said baby steps Pattie! Get back to the basics of the belly fat cure. Start tracking. 15 gms of sugar a day, 6 carb servings. It starts with tracking!

Now some days this week, with the crazy work schedule, I would write down, but not add up the s/c values. As you might expect I went over. But that's okay, I was still putting down what went in my mouth and on to the paper. Sometimes I think, when you have been doing something awhile, you think you have it down. That can get you into trouble. I pulled everything out and looked at the label and measured what I was eating. I knew many of the counts on the products I normally eat, but I made myself look them over again just to get back in that habit.

When I first bought the Belly Fat Cure book I was so excited to get started. I wanted to learn all about the program, read the nutritional counts, find new ways to satisfy cravings and eat well. Then I settled in and it became routine and perhaps I got a little lazy at times. For me that's when I get into problems. So back to basics for me. I'm writing and I'm reading. Back from vacation and back on track!

Thought for the day:  A goal without a plan is just a wish - Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cauliflower....the often overlooked vegetable!

Hello everyone. Hope this fine fall day finds everyone happy and healthy. It's a blessing to be on vacation, but then you have to go back to real life. In real life breakfast buffets don't automatically show up on my counter, and no one is waiting to pour me a glass of fine California wine while I peruse the crudite table at 5 PM. But there is something nice about settling back into the old routine, sleeping in your own bed, and cuddling with your pets while you watch TV. Even getting  back to a normal routine of eating is good for me. I put on a few lbs while vacationing, but I recommited myself as soon as I returned. For me that means writing down and measuring everything that goes in my mouth. The funniest thing is, what's in my memory, often isn't what went in my belly! I found this out by tracking. Turns out I am most likely eating more than I thought. Imagine that?

So I have been hearing all of this talk about cauliflower pizza crust and mashed cauliflower. I decided to make a mashed version the other night. I used a food network recipe, but of course I was missing ingredients, so I modified it. I topped it with a delicious recipe for seared sea scallops that I have. It was gourmet restaurant quality yummy, if I do say so myself! Here's the cauliflower recipe with some adaptations that I made. The scallop recipe with my adaptations is below. If you like scallops I think you will really love this recipe. It felt really sinful to eat and was comforting and delicious. Cauliflower you are my new veggie hero!!!

Mashed Cauliflower

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
 Bring a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.
Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces and add to pot. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until well done. Drain well; do not let cool.
In a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, butter, salt and pepper until almost smooth.

So if this wasn't good enough, I topped this with a wonderful seared scallop recipe that I have.

Seared Scallops with Bacon and Spinach
  1. 2 slices of bacon chopped
  2. 1 small onion or 2 large shallots finely chopped
  3. 3 garlic cloves chopped
  4. one large container of baby spinach, chopped
  5. 1-2 tsp soy sauce ( I used 1)
  6. salt and pepper
  7. 1 lb large sea scallops - dry, not in preservative
  8. extra virgin olive oil
  9. 1 tbs butter
  10. 1 medium tomato seeded and diced
In large skillet cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Spoon off all  but about 2 tbs of fat.  Add the onion or scallions to skillet and saute until softened and slightly brown. Add the garlic and stir until tender, about 2 minutes, but not brown. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft. Add the spinach and toss with the mixture. Cover and cook over very low heat until the spinach wilts. Add the soy sauce and cook a few minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.
Remove the side muscle from the scallops ( this is what they attach to the shell with, and it is tough. Just peel it off with your fingers). Make sure the scallops are very dry ( pat with paper towel if needed). Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet with olive oil just till smoking hot. Add the scallops and reduce the heat to moderate. Don't touch and let the scallops cook about 3 minutes until golden seared on the bottom. Flip over in pan and cook on the other side. Add the butter at this point and spoon some butter over the tops while they are cooking for approx 3 more minutes.
Spoon a nice mound of the cauliflower on a plate. Top with the spinach mixture and then with the scallops. Bon Appetit!

Thought for the day: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."
~ Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Losing weight is easy.......I've got the answer!

Good morning everyone. I have come to the mind blowing conclusion that losing weight is easy! Here's the magic formula. I figure if you pick three healthy, good for you meals, eat them in the same quantities everyday, and at the same time, don't eat out in restaurants, don't go on vacations, never have more than two glasses of wine a day, and not in combination with the dark chocolate, exercise a little, but not too much as to increase your appetite, get 8 hours of sleep a night, take your probiotics, take your vitamins, and don't forget the fiber, keep your emotions under control, hormones too, and don't overschedule yourself so you always have time to prepare and eat your meals, and avoid stress,.....then losing weight will be easy!

I say this tongue in cheek as I woefully report that the scale was up 4 lbs this AM. So those extra carbs each day, all of that wine, negligible fiber, and eating three meals out a day, did matter. Well there's always a bright side and it could have been so much more. I really thought I handled things pretty well. There were many times I passed on even a bite of dessert, turned down the bread basket, choose grilled fish or a salad over something not so good for me.

But then there was all that extra wine each day, those complimentary happy hours with all the homemade dips, chips, hot appetizers. I resisted the homemade muffins and breads at breakfast but a few times I had a small lemon scone. I think I was having coconut bread withdrawal! Little slips here and there. I didn't think they would matter so much.

We stayed for the first time, at a bed and breakfast for three days. It was a lovely villa owned by two men, Jerry and Harold. We had a beautiful suite with our own patio, fireplace, sitting area. It was very private, but the breakfasts were french toast, homemade waffles, fruit. Very heavy on the carbs. One morning I mentioned I always eat poached eggs in the morning, and Jerry, the owner was more than happy to let me make my own. He loved the lesson I gave him, and I made two for him as well. At 5:30 we would come back from our day out of tasting and touring, and Jerry had wonderful cheeses, breads and what seemed like a never ending bottle of wine flowing. He was a wonderful host and I teared up saying goodbye to him. I wasn't sure if a B&B was for me, but this one was very nice.
Our suite at the Villa

Unloading the car at Villa Bella Messina- that's me on the left, and my sister-in-law helping me out!
Then we went on to the Wine Country Inn in St. Helena. Such a gorgeous place, located down a country land and nestled among the vineyards. We always take one of the cottages. They have many room types, but my husband insists we splurge on one of these cottages. It truly is heaven on earth, so private, and has a wonderful secluded patio overlooking the vineyard. He loves these cottages, and I joke that he works so much, doesn't really spend money on golf or other hobbies, so this is his hobby!
View from our cottage patio
The inn also has wonderful buffet breakfasts each morning, but at least they have one type of egg casserole, and hard boiled eggs, cheeses and meats. It was easier to avoid all the baked goodies there. Of course one of their egg dishes was named ' death by cheese'. It was delicious, but there was a lot of cheese in there. In the evening from 4:30 - 6:00 there is a complimentary wine and a whole array of hot and cold appetizers. I tried to load up on the veggies and dips, but there were great little bite size pizzas and other little hot things that I did indulge in. After that we went out to dinner around 8. The inn has a large SUV and they take and pick you up from the local restaurants. The meals we had were fantastic. I have to mention, at one of my favorite places called Market, I had the grilled scallops on top of a cauliflower puree, and then topped with carmelized mushrooms, bacon, almonds and aged balasmic and lemon oil. It was so delcious. Everyone thought the cauliflower was mashed potatoes. It was very thin in consistency, but delicious. I wish I had taken a picture.

 I may have had a gain while away, but compared to past vacations, when I went on a full out, eat whatever I wanted for the week binge, this one was different. I really saw that even with some slips, I had made some real changes in my lifestyle. Not just to lose weight, but because I think it is the right way to eat. Diet soda didn't touch my lips, even though one of my travelling companions has a real addiction to it, and we made frequent stops to replenish her supply. The creme brulee someone ordered for dessert didn't look so tempting to me. It's my favorite dessert and I didn't have any. The carbs were still a bit of a problem, but instead of having a scone one morning, I had some cantaloupe instead. Aside from the eggs, everything else on the breakfast buffet was a BFC no no. Waffles, breads, muffins, juices. So I figured fresh cantaloupe was a better choice. I made consious choices of what to eat. I felt good doing it.

I miss that beautiful part of northern California, and you know I love the wine. I tasted so many wonderful wines. We love to go to the less known, appointment only, type tastings and they really do treat you well. Often they serve some delicious cheeses, and crackers. One vineyard had the chef make us small tarts of puff pastry topped with carmelized onions to eat with their pinot noir we were drinking.  It was delicious, but I didn't over do it.
Tasting room at Hall Rutherford Vineyard

The pool at the Wine Country Inn
The wine caves, the tasting rooms and of course the wines add up to a wonderful experience. I will miss that, and having someone else make and serve my meals. But that is not real life, or a way to live everyday. So, it's time to get back to real life, work, bills, and back to a better eating plan. I've missed all of you and it's good to be back in touch. I woke up with a good, let's get on with it, attitude this morning. I'm still not sure about doing the fast track totally. I like the modified versions some of you are doing. Cutting out the grains, but having some coconut bread or muffins seems like a good plan to me. Until next time!

Thought for the day: "A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it."
George Moore

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Honey....I'm home!

Hello to all of my blogger friends. I have missed you, but you were never far from my mind. I took a long break from most social media while on vacation, just because I didn't have time. I did post some facebook photos from my phone and also some tweets while we were out and about each day.  I was able to check in and keep up with the blog posts from time to time, but we had a fairly busy intinerary and we were always 'hurrying up to have fun' so to speak. It was a wonderful trip, and I have lots to talk about as usual! I'm going to post about the good, the bad, and the ugly part of eating while on vacation throughout the next week or so. For the most part I think I made good decisions. I often had too many carbs which is always my problem, but I did pretty well in the sugar department, except for the delcious fruit that was always offered at breakfast.

I wanted to say great job to all of you doing the Fast Track or their own modified versions of it. I was trying to read a few blog posts on my Ipad before I went to sleep at night, but usually just couldn't keep my eyes open. It will take me awhile to catch up. I am raring and ready to go, and plan to jump on the bandwagon with you. I'm going to ease back into it these next few days and since Wednesday is always my weigh in day, I'm going to consider that the full speed go ahead start day. I have to restock my kitchen, get my meal plans in order, as well as detox alittle from all that wine drinking! That will take a few days. My son is getting married in less than 10 months, so there is no time to waste! I have to get serious and back to writing, planning and keeping track.

Today, I am trying to adjust back to the east coast time, restocking the fridge, laundry, and dealing with a few house problems that occurred while we were away, as well as get ready to go into the office early in the AM. My new hires will be starting gradually, so for the next few weeks, I will be playing catch up from being away, and getting all the papers in order for their hiring. Vacations are wonderful, but life does go on while you're away, and you always have lots to do waiting for your return. My personal mail stack for one week was unblievable. From all the catalogs that arrived, you know the holidays are very close!

While we were away, my central alarm system decided to start going off for no reason. My poor mother and a nice police officer finally got it to shut off after two hours because they couldn't get a hold of the alarm company repair person. They turned off the breaker to stop the siren, which unbeknownst to all of us was on the same breaker that my second refridgerator in the back room was on. My mom didn't go into this fridge, so she had no idea that it was basically defrosting since last Tuesday. I lost lots of meat, chicken, homemade sauces, pesto, fresh berries, bread etc. that were sitting in a nice wet puddle from the ice also melting. Also in the fridge, several 1/2 gallons of unsweetened almond milk, that I had stocked up on. So we have the job of cleaning out the entire fridge and running it to another outlet until the alarm company, and electrician can come out this week! I have to confess that I have been taking photos off the camera and putting them onto our computers, doing laundry and sorting mail, so my husband has been tackling this task.

Looking out at the vineyards.
I miss beautiful northern California, but it's nice to be home. Considerably cooler here than it was there. I packed more for fall, and one day we even hit 90. The nights were pleasant too, in the high 50's  or low 60's. For all of you wine lovers, I tasted some great ones. Well let's just say, I did more than taste! Lots of wine was consumed. I was so happy to hear one of the people at the winery say, "there is no sugar in wine." Thank God,  I thought, thank God! Until next time, missed you all so much and glad to be back!
In the tasting room!
 Thought for the day: No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. ~Lin Yutang

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Two steps forward, three steps back!

Hello my friends. I'm super busy this week, trying to get ready for our trip, and tie up all the loose ends before we leave. Funny how we rush about trying to get everything done, just so we can do nothing for a week while on vacation and relax. Then we get back and rush to catch up on all the stuff that was building up while we were away. We need a vacation from the vaction! Ahhh, vacations! Can't live without them!

I just wanted to jump on this blog for a minute and say hi and also talk about my weight for my Wednesday weigh in. If you remember the ugly news, last week I was up 4 lbs. I am happy to report I got two of them off. Why, oh why are they so easy to put on, but so hard to take off. This is an unfair rule of nature. I formally protest it! Anyway, back on track and although I am not the model loser of this bunch, I will forge on and not give up...even if my weight loss is happening at a snail's pace!

I'm semi following the fast track, but today I had to have some ezekial toast with my breakfast. I agree with Rosalie, cutting out all carbs just doesn't seem right. So today I had them at breakfast, but that was it.

Thanks for all the great comments you leave. This one is for the hand lady, Linda. She made my pancakes, but commented on my one large pancake, while her recipe made three small ones. Linda, I did get your comment,but it comes in as a no reply, so I can't reply email you back. My email is Email me your email address. That photo was of one large pancake...and it was a very large plate. I think three smaller cakes...a short stack would be better, so next time I will make them that way. Thanks for your nice comments.

Okay, I have a baseball game to watch. Go Phillies!!! Hugs to you all!

Thought for the day:  Failure doesn't mean you are a failure... it just means you haven't succeeded yet. ~Robert Schuller

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How did it get so late so soon?

Good morning everyone. First off good luck to all those starting the fast track. I may jump on the bandwagon when I get back from vacation, but I know that it will be hard to follow that while away. We are leaving on Saturday for our California wine country trip. Staying three nights in Healdsburg, and then four in St. Helena. We are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary, and the 25th anniversary for my brother and sister in law. It is their first trip out to the wine country, and since we have been there many times, I am excited to show them all the great little wineries, restaurants and beautiful scenery that we have discovered in all of our trips. My husband and I always say, that if it wasn't for all of our family being back east, we could easily pick up and relocate to northern California, Healdsburg especially! I could sit and watch the grapes grow all day!

Saturday, we moved our son John into his tiny, New York City efficiency appt. He is so happy and had a good first day at his new job yesterday. He is working for a large commercial real estate company. I have lived in the suburbs of PA all of my life, but I must say there is a certain appeal to walking around a big city. I said to my husband that we would have so much more time in our lives if we didn't have all the "house" stuff to do every weekend. New Yorkers take their newspaper to the local bistro or park bench, have a leisurely brunch while reading and sipping their coffee. The little parks and community gardens tucked away on side streets were filled with people, children and dogs, all out enjoying the beautiful fall morning.. He is in the east village, so it was quiet there.  Quiet little streets and many little shops, restaurants and galleries. We stopped at a cute little place and had a nice lunch. I had tuna carpaccio, salad with pickled avocado, grapefruit and a great dressing. It was so delicious and refreshing. If I had stopped there and not succombed to the white bean dip and fresh baked pita chips I would have been fine. Damn those carbs! I can't stop with them!Driving out at 5PM on a Saturday was quite a different story, then the peaceful drive in, early Saturday morning. I have driven in New York several times, but this was really bad. I don't know how those taxi drivers stand it day in and day out!

John's apt building
Time to unpack and organize
His tiny kitchen

There was a bed under all those bags!

For those of you who still have all the kids at home, I think the real tough time is when you send them off to college. Unpacking that dorm room and saying goodbye were very rough for me, and lots of tears were shed on the drive home. It is easier when they are upperclassman leaving for college. Trust me, you will be glad when break is over and they head back. If all of this sounds too much to bear, I can tell you that this time it seemed easier for some reason, but I did get alittle teary when hugging goodbye. The funny thing is, that when raising our children, we do all we can to make them responsible, independent,  and self sufficient. We teach them right from wrong, how to do their laundry, cook some meals, iron a shirt. Then when it's time to let them exercise all these skills that they have learned, we think... not yet..... they're not's too soon. It's a push/pull sitution. All I could do as those last minutes ticked by before we left, was hug him, wish him good luck in his new job, and realize that I no longer hold the decision making power for his life. I had to turn over the controls to him. He's my  middle child, and his older brother is doing fine out in the big world, and I know John will too.It didn't seem to hard with Ryan, who is my first one. Maybe because I knew I still had two at home. Now I only have officially, one at home...but two in college. How did that math work out?  He'll need alittle help with his utility bills, and things like that, as New York is so expensive, but for the most part he's calling the shots...when to go to bed, what to eat, how to navigate the subway to work. But I still remember those little boy kisses and hugs of many years ago, the little arms wrapped tightly around my neck, and the time when I was the most important person in his world. Good luck John! Time to fly on your own!

Thought for the day: It's a two quote day!

How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
~Dr. Seuss

There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life that he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure. ~Mark Twain