Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Culinary Adventures

Chinese foods: dragon fruit, lychee, and steamed vegetable buns.

Today I am back to working on myself again, now that I finished Charlie's project. I did well the first month of my plan and lost 5 pounds, but since then I haven't gotten the scale to budge. I knew going home for Grandma's funeral would be hard, in part because I am an emotional eater and in part because funerals and family gatherings equal a perfect storm of food temptations. So, the fact that I was able to keep from gaining despite eating WAY too many servings of Mercer County style Amish chicken and noodles (a dish that doesn't exist in the South), is pretty good. I must be doing something right, too, because people keep asking me what's different. "Did you change your hair?", they ask. I didn't, so my lifestyle changes must be starting to show. I have worked on my skin some, though.

Since we came back home Mom and I went to get our faces and chests treated with lasers to remove sun damage and lines. I didn't have much in the way of age spots or wrinkles, but I have a chronically sunburned look, especially on my chest. My life spent in sunny spots like California and North Carolina really shows in my Scandinavian skin, even though I have the yellow type so euphemistically called "golden". For the past few weeks I've had black spots that came out and puffiness from the laser treatment, but now that's going away and I am happy to say my face looks really good. My mom said it looked "poreless", which is a big compliment. She's the one who bought me the laser treatment for my birthday and she's always giving me big bags of anti-aging creams, so I think she not-so-privately believes I look like hell! My chest is still slightly pink, so I hope it improves without me having to get another treatment.

Besides that, I started a new exercise program I found on Pinterest. It is from Prevention and it was tested at ECU, my alma mater! I am only on day two, but let me tell you, this plan looks simple and easy but it is HARD! I am so sore I can hardly move. It's rather embarrassing. I do a lot of walking and yoga and have even started training with some of my friends from church who are doing a half-marathon, plus I am always doing difficult household chores, like carrying sleeping toddlers and lugging vacuum cleaners up and down stairs. I am really surprised to find these "eccentric" exercises so hard. If you want to try the plan the link is It only takes about 45 minutes a day and you can break it up into two parts. Let me know if you decide to try it and how you do! Years ago, in my twenties, I did the Body For Life program, and this reminds me a lot of that plan. That plan works really well, too, but I don't like having to eat six times a day, as you do on BFL. It's just too much food prep.
The exercise plan is helpful because I have been having a really hard time lately. Besides my grandmother's death, I just feel out of sorts for many reasons. It is so hard not to be at home and to not have a home. The children are upset, especially our youngest. He asks every night at bedtime if he can go home. We show him the new house, which finally has a foundation and walls, but of course it isn't done yet. Our cat ran away the first week here and we haven't been able to find her. Plus, everything is just so crowded and different. My parents buy everything high-end, so even the refrigerator is digital. Right now it is freezing everything and we can't figure out why.

Unfortunately, my parents never read instructions and then lose them or let dogs chew them all up, so they can't tell you how to operate anything. They have all these new flat televisions and some digital package with about 10,000 channels. I rarely get to watch anything all the way through because someone usually walks in and turns the channel or starts talking really loud so I can't hear. I do try to go in the basement is I want to watch something or to do my Just Dance wii game, but the kids change all the buttons playing video games and DVDs, so then I can't get it to work. Now Jerry is mad at me because he had to go downstairs and fix the T.V.and then the next day he wanted me to do something on the computer and that wouldn't work. So I can't ask him to fix the fridge, or look at our daughter's Story Buddy rabbit, which has stopped working even though it's less than a year old.

Of course these things work fine for Jerry. I wonder sometimes if I emit some sort of magnetic energy that messes up electronics. My fitbit, a replacement of the first one which fell apart after one month, is slowly dying. Tonight it only gave me 5 points on my earndit challenge, even though I have walked more than yesterday when I got 38 points. So now I will have to save up for a new fitbit, as well as all the other things we need. Last week I bought a gallon of milk and later found it leaking all over the fridge, because it had a tiny invisible hole. We cleaned it up and poured the milk into a pitcher and forgot about it until yesterday when we got in the car and found it smelled like death. Evidently, the milk leaked in there on the way home from the store. We've spent two days cleaning it and it still smells.

I know the French lady is rather against exercise plans besides walking and stair climbing, but I think since this one avoids the gym and fitness machines she would approve. Besides that, I am a person who craves time alone and quiet and right now I have been finding myself fantasizing about just driving away until I find an deserted beach with an empty hotel room somewhere and just checking in forever. So, it is good for me to get out and do my workout and feel like at least I have control over something! I do agree with her, however, that it is hard to keep your calories down when you do a lot of exercise. Today I woke up starving!

Another misstep in my French plan is that I have been committing a big no-no: I have eaten the same lunch for weeks and weeks, or at least nearly the same. I was lucky enough to find some smoked whitefish just like that from Michigan here in N.C., so I've been eating a LOT of it. Then too, I almost always eat a big salad, usually baby spinach, with whatever else I have. Well, yesterday I just couldn't face the thought of another bite of salad! So, we headed to the Asian grocery to pick up some seasonal Chinese produce I've been missing. We got some luscious dragon fruit and lychee, and of course I couldn't resist the steamed buns. The vegetable-filled ones have a little over 100 calories each and they are only $1.59 for 9 buns! I have made these myself in the past, but they are very time-consuming and mine are never white enough, and buying them costs less.

We also picked up some tapioca pearls, or "boba", to make Bubble Tea. I fell in love with Bubble Tea in Reno a few years ago and haven't had it since. I thought the kids would love it. You do have to be careful with young kids and give them a spoon, rather than a large straw, so they don't choke. When I discovered boba, which is cassava root, they were all black. Now, though, our Asian grocery has multi-colored ones like pink and blue and green, as well as white. I went with the white to avoid any added coloring. We made one jasmine tea and mango juice drink yesterday. Today we tried unsweetened chocolate almond milk. I really liked that; it tastes like iced coffee. You may remember I am trying to give coffee up, so this could really make a good substitute!

Tapioca Pearls and "Bubble" drink.

If you want to make your own bubble drinks you can Google for lots of recipes. One I used is: One review said you have to boil the bubbles until no white shows, but I boiled them for an hour and the white never went out of some of them. It also made it VERY hard to clean the pan. So I would just try boiling for about 30 minutes and then letting the bubbles rest. Here is a close-up of the "bubbles":

The Cassava "bubbles" are at the bottom.
Having a bit more exotic food has made me less bored and less likely to snack on junk food. I have been eating a lot of the Chinese fruits, more fruit than I was eating. Going to work out at night has also limited my wine consumption, a good thing, because stress makes me want to drink wine as well as live on empty beaches. Soon the kids will be back in school, so I will try to get more dolls and things done for my store.

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