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Fifteen degrees on the thermometer
Big Freeze At The Casa de Rurale

Big Freeze of February 2021. We were there and lived to tell about it. Deer sausage was involved.

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Hi, Again, Dear Readers:

I know, it’s been a while again. Still writing for clients. We all had a setback about six weeks ago. Perhaps you heard about it, and perhaps you experienced it. We did, and so did friends.

I’d planned on having this as part of another post, but it’s too long. Let me tell you all about it, with some news first.

Hubig’s Pies Return Soon

You read that right–the famed Hubig’s Pies will be returning sometime later this year.

I wrote about Hubig’s Pies a few years ago, and despite people asking for them, the company and its owners have been struggling to get them back into production. But they’re now on track for the return, 100 years after they first appeared.

Then, of course, the pandemic. They were supposed to return already, but bringing back such a well-loved tradition takes a lot of hard work. If people open up a Hubig’s and turn their nose up, it’s all for nothing. So, understandably, it’s taken a while.

BF will be all over them, I’m sure.  I’ll just watch from a distance.

The Big Freeze

OK, so. . .you want to know what took me so long to write again? I’ll tell you–we all froze over. No kidding. And Valentine’s Day was spent getting ready for the incoming winter storm.

We didn’t get to do our normal Valentine’s Day “dinner and a movie at home.” Sunday was spent making preparations as fast as we could. But BF did bring home something for me, even though he said he didn’t want anything himself:

Chocolate covered strawberries

Yes, they are as good as they look.

Admittedly, they were absolutely delicious, but I ate just one a day.

Single chocolate covered strawberry

Isn’t it lovely?

It seems that someone BF knows through work used to work for Albertson’s, one of the grocery stores in Hammond. She worked in the area that did this kind of thing but now does it on her own. Reasonably priced, he said, so he ordered some and brought them home the day before (Saturday.) He was off on Sunday the 14th–good thing.

Prep Work

We worked it–from pulling space heaters into the house to gathering up flashlights, candles, power banks, and every other emergency thing we have to do. This included washing clothes, dishes, and checking the foodstuffs we had available, knowing what we needed and what to get to prepare. That’s how we spent Valentine’s Day–preparing for the incoming freeze.

Unfortunately, the three IKEA tea light lanterns I had were left behind when I moved here, so we had to be really careful with the little candles. I still have some heavy glass tea light holders and have since ordered some of these Rotera lanterns from IKEA’s website, along with two packages of their tea lights. The ones I bought locally some time ago last about 15 minutes. With hurricane season just a couple of months away and the occasional random power outage, they’ll be well worth the wait and investment.

Fixing The Sweater

A couple of years ago, Simplicity published what I think of as the quintessential winter sweater, #S8738. Made with a sweater knit bought by the yard, this pattern just said “sweater” to me. I’ve made nine of them from different types of fabrics. All but one came from online vendors; the grey waffle knit came from a cut bundle at Walmart. It does get *that* cold here, unlike Houston and New Orleans. And for a freeze, well, you need sweaters, right?

Now I have a total of 16 sweaters. Some of the later ones were indeed made from Walmart cuts, including a black-and-white buffalo check knit that I made into this sweater from Simplicity’s #S9178.

This particular garment was one of the first of the sweaters I made from #S8738 using this fabulous southwestern knit from Fashion Fabrics Club:

Southwestern sweater

Isn’t it AWESOME?? (I love Southwestern prints.)

Problem: because the polyester fabric isn’t very stretchy, the collar was too snug, making it too hot to wear for very long. I had to wait until the weather was cold enough, but even then it was a “heat trap.” Solution: take the scraps and cut a new, larger collar, cut off the existing collar below the seam, then install the new one into the bigger neck opening.

Knowing I would need all my warmest clothes for the next few days, I set out to fix this sweater for good. I had to get BF to help me FIND the scraps, but once he did, I got to work. It didn’t take long. Now it’s more breathable and lets the heat out as it should. It’s one of the last things I did before we went to bed that night.

Monday, February 15

The freeze and storm moved through the entire state of Texas, bringing snow, ice, and power outages into Louisiana. Houston actually got snow, and some parts west of us did, but we didn’t. (Still wishing, but maybe next year.)  I was in touch with a few folks, and they had different stories to tell.

  • Aunt Ruth near Manvel, TX, lost her phone and Internet, and experienced low water pressure, but never lost  power
  • The GER lost power and water, and it got down to 58F in the Funk House/Junk House before Centerpoint restored power to his neighborhood
  • Miss Alice, now living in the Medical Center area of Houston, had power, but her bathroom facilities went out, likely to a broken pipe, and was subsequently repaired
  • RR in Katy, TX, aka “Banana Rat,” was fixing burst pipes at his own house as well as his girlfriend’s mother’s house
  • Neighbor E lost power intermittently, and his sister in another part of Houston lost power four times. Eventually, the power came back on and stayed on, and they were ok. He sent me a couple of pictures of the winter wonderland at El Dorado Trace:
El Dorado Trace Snow

This picture was taken just inside of the front entrance, and the office and clubhouse are on the left side. Farther left outside of the picture is where I lived for 12 years.

Nobody’s going swimming today.

El Dorado Trace Snow Day 2

Ice skating, anyone?

No Water

Water went down because plants had no power to operate, leaving lines and mains to freeze. But our waterworks in St. Helena Parish’s apparently had power, thank heavens.

We did offer Miss Alice, Neighbor E, and the GER a place if they wanted to come, but all declined. Neighbor E waited it out, and was eventually OK and enjoying his favorite hot chai lattes in his own kitchen again. The GER said he was helping out the “old ladies in the neighborhood who shouldn’t be living by themselves.” When I told Miss Alice, she said that he was “doing the work of the Buddha.” Well, he was, and people in his neighborhood are thankful.

Freeze East Of The Sabine

BF was at work that Monday morning and the freezing rain began about 10:00 am. We were up early–I started off with coffee and morning prayers and worked my way up.

Fifteen degrees on the thermometer

This is what greeted us on Monday morning. It stayed this cold for more than 48 hours.

We were out of dog food, and my plan was to visit Tractor Supply before the freezing rain got here. Well. . .first, the truck was literally frozen over.

Frozen-over windshield

That’s not thawing quickly.

I started the engine, but the thick coating of ice wasn’t budging. Just to get into the truck to start it, I had to crack the thick ice on the truck door handle.

Frozen door handle

The door handle was just as covered as the mirror. It had been raining for quite some time.

BF had the same thing on the blue truck when he went to work earlier that morning.

The outside faucet was frozen over too, so I couldn’t get water without turning off the truck. Most of the water on the ground was also sleet or otherwise frozen. Everything was freezing up fast.

I thought I’d use the TS app to order curbside–but the app wouldn’t work for me. Getting to TS before their employees went home was not happening. BF ended up getting dog food at Piggly Wiggly on his way home before they closed up shop.

Then about 10:30 am, the power went out at the Casa de Rurale. That’s when I started chanting for all of us.

Without Power

I made sure my phone was charged, plus the power banks we have were also charged. I was in touch with BF, Miss Alice, and Neighbor E by text, as well as the GER and Aunt Ruth by email. (Turns out the GER recently got himself an iPhone, and texts now. What’s this world coming to?)

I posted on Facebook and Instagram to let folks know what was going on. Well, everyone was in the freeze and doing the same thing. One of the Houston TV stations’ Facebook page mentioned lighting candles for warmth. So that was the first thing I did, putting them all on the dining room table. There is a flashlight or two in every room in the house, including one hanging next to my desk. But without power, candles are the way to go until you can find a way to generate heat. ALWAYS exercise caution with lit candles, especially with pets and/or children around.

BF got calls from the neighbors on both sides, asking if he had power. NO, but he knew about it from Entergy’s phone call and my texting. They worked until about 4 or 5, but BF went to Piggly Wiggly long before they closed and had everything ready for whenever they left the shop.

Pictures Of Winter

Meantime, I took a few pictures to enjoy:

Frosted Holly bush

You have to admit, it does look pretty.

Ice-crusted tree

This is a pecan tree outside the front door.

This green ground-cover plant by the tree didn’t die in the freeze–and it was fine after the ice melted.

Frozen plants

No kidding, they crunched when I touched them.

Social Media

One lady posted this in the official Instant Pot group on Facebook:

Instant Pot Plugged Into Generator

That’s using your noodle!

If it works, it works! I did offer to put the slow cooker or IP on the generator, but BF said we didn’t need to.  But I couldn’t leave this for the Instant Pot post.

This was also posted in the same group:

Instant Pot advice

Others posted these, good now as well as later:

Insurance advice

Plumbing problems? No, you don’t.

Freeze plumbing, part 1

The GER said that a neighbor chased down a plumbing truck just to get a part to fix something. It was that bad in Houston for a while.

And for fun, Neighbor E sent me this one:

Now The Lizzards

There will be a Shutterfly book at some point for all these pictures. We can look at them in the summer when it’s 90 degrees.

BF To The Rescue

Did I mention BF hates cold weather?

So while I was inside with the animals trying to stay warm and watching the temperature go down one degree at a time, I cut some fabric by the open window while there was still some daylight. I had another t-shirt under the sweater. BF told me not to worry–it would be fine once he got home. And it was.

You see, BF has been in this freeze situation before. For such a thing he has a gasoline-powered generator, as well as a camping stove that’s powered by bottled propane. From the minute he arrived and brought everything inside, he swung into action.

First, he went out to the shop and slid that generator across the ice-covered expanse of land, and set it up on the porch, running the cord in through the slightly opened front window. The cold air was kept out with a towel blocking off the opening. With four plugs available, two went to space heaters, one to light. We unplugged one thing to charge our phones, make coffee, whatever. We then went into town to fill up three or four jugs with petrol to keep the generator running.

Deer Sausage

If you’re a veg type, I’m sorry. People go deer hunting around these parts. Deer sausage happens both here and in Texas. In Houston, Neighbor J upstairs used to bring me deer sausage occasionally when he went to West Texas for hunting. The processors added too much jalapeno for him, but I thought it was delicious.

Deer sausage cooking in a frying pan on a camp stove

Deer sausage cooking for dinner. You have to boil it first, then fry it. That’s what he said.

About a month before our epic winter storm, BF had the opportunity to buy some deer sausage from someone who was unemployed and made it for someone who refused to pay for it. I was a bit perplexed when he told me about buying so much, but I just found a place for it in the big freezer. We’ve had it several times since then.

Dinner By BF The Chef

On this night, our dinner was deer sausage and eggs:

James cooking in kitchen on the camping stove

There he is!

I tease him sometimes that he cooks a little something and then prances around like he’s the French chef Escoffier. Teasing aside, shortly after this picture, we had a hot, freshly cooked keto-friendly dinner:

Eggs and deer sausage on a plate

Yes, we were indeed fortunate and thankful.

Light in the kitchen was from a big burly cordless Snap-On shop flashlight that’s to the left of him. It has a heavy, flat bottom so you can set it on a flat surface. The neck pivots up and down so you can get it in just the right place. I can’t find anything similar on either Snap-On’s website or Amazon to show you. There was still a bit of light from outside while he was cooking.

Our camp stove provided some heat, which was also helpful. But it should never be used as a sole heat source indoors.

Of course, BF was puffing his chest out a little, proud to take care of “The Little Woman” (me) in the harsh, cold winter days. He’s done this before and knew exactly what to do. I hugged him a little tighter and made sure I helped whenever he needed me. Miss Alice, The GER, Neighbor E, and Aunt Ruth all got a kick out of the picture, too.

Living And Waiting

BF connected a lamp to the generator so I could do evening prayers and cut more fabric. (I’ve got a huge bag of projects ready to sew now.) I chanted for everyone affected by the freeze, which is such a rare thing in this part of the US. Houston, Galveston, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and every place in between just don’t have that kind of weather very often. Most people aren’t prepared for it.

We had two space heaters in the house and ran them on the generator 24/7 until it was over. One of them was next to the dogs so they could stay warm as well.

In order to add more petrol to the generator to keep the heaters running, BF got up in the cold at 5:00 am, then went back to bed. He also ran the freezer and the refrigerator for a while on the generator to make sure everything stayed cold. Some folks reported putting their frozen foods outside–well, it is a freeze, after all–which technically works. But experts were also telling people it could be dangerous if the food thawed and froze again. We were OK.

The Java Cafe’

The next morning, I needed coffee. So I plugged the kettle into the generator and used a French press:

French press coffee pot with cup and hot water steaming

I had to have coffee, OK?

I also pulled down the old Krups cappuccino machine, which I bought in 2013 and rarely use.

Dusty cappuccino machine

It’s been a while since I used this.

We had milk, so I figured the freeze it was a great time to clean it up, try it again and read the manual, too.

Clean cappuccino machine

That’s better.

I can’t say that it works any better than I remember, but I’ll just have to keep playing with it. I only used it because it plugs directly into the generator.

Thawing And The Return Of Power

Our little enclave finally had power again at about 5:30 pm on Tuesday, roughly 36 hours after it went down. We turned the heater way up, disconnected the generator, and got back to it. The dogs were just so unfazed, and the cat just stuck with BF any chance he got.

Large falling branches coated with ice broke the power lines, causing the outages. ALL the trees had a heavy coat of ice like the pecan tree. The local state DOT came around on Tuesday morning and pushed them off the roads so the utility folks could get through and fix the power lines. I went out for a walk and surveyed the road. I’ll add those pictures in a little photo book.

The next day, we were busy washing up the kitchen, laundry, and tidying up everything that we had to postpone during the freeze. Aunt Ruth said later that her kitchen was a bit of a mess, too.  I couldn’t get any work done for two days, and I’m just now finally caught up, almost. No kidding.

A week later, it was 80F. No kidding.

AmyinHat

Yes, that’s me, just a week later, when the world had finally thawed. We were luckier than many.

More To Come

I made a delicious keto recipe last week. I liked it, he didn’t. But it’s fast and easy, and goes over well if you don’t mention “cauliflower rice” to anyone. The infamous Instant Pot post is way overdue and I think I’m just going to finish it up and publish it, with lots of backlinks.

Spring is here, and that means asparagus and other wonderful things, like basil and making pesto. Oh, I have about two years worth of pesto in the freezer, but there’s no saying I can’t make more.

We’ve tossed about the idea of trying to garden again, but I’m taking it with a pound of salt. I’ve still got some parsley to dig up, and I need to start getting basil plants soon. A full-fledged garden? We’ll see. BF now has an old Ford tractor he bought from someone nearby who doesn’t need it, so that will come in handy. . .IF we garden. Again, we’ll see.

In the meantime, Happy Dining!

 

 

Gluten free chocolate cake
The Accidental Hiatus

Hiatus. I didn’t intend to, but I took one.

Find me on Bloglovin’

Hi, Again, Dear Readers:

It’s time for another “oops, I haven’t blogged in a while” post. It was an accidental hiatus.

The Quiet Holidays

During the hiatus, The Holidays arrived and left quickly. It’s cold here, frequently below 30F in the mornings, but look who showed up:

Robin in frosted grass

Isn’t he cute? I think there’s a nest somewhere. That’s frost on the grass, not snow. I’m still praying for snow.

Last year brought some changes in dynamics for us, and Thanksgiving was, indeed, us with his friend TT up the road. The Boy spent his holiday with his grandmother, which was good, and everyone else was elsewhere. We heard absolutely nothing from any family members, including BF’s brother, who lives on the other side of town. That’s OK.

We also attended the holiday party for BF’s work, and it was nice to see everyone again. I brought a batch of Joan’s Broccoli Madness, which went over well. Nobody had ever heard of Sweet Tomatoes, so I had to explain it.

Didn’t know you could make “fudge” with frosting from a can, some kind of nuts, and peanut butter all mixed together. That was interesting.

Joan’s Broccoli Madness returned when BF’s sister and brother-in-law drove in from Atlanta. They came for Christmas and left the day after New Year’s. For dinner with them, I also made some chocolate shortbread fingers from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. I certainly made friends with those, and BF thought they were great.

His sister and brother-in-law should be making a trip back this way in the next month or so. Maybe I’ll make more Joan’s Broccoli Madness again. It’s SO good.

Christmas Presents

Ok, BF and I give each other little presents all the time, so getting a “big Christmas present” is kind of silly. He took care of several things in the house for us in 2020, so expecting a big, expensive anything would be a bit ridiculous.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t actually buy anything. From 9DollarShirts on Etsy, I bought him this:

BIGFOOT TSHIRT I Want To Believe T-Shirt Funny Mens Kids image 1

Because he’s a big fan of BigFoot. I catch him watching BigFoot videos on YouTube all the time. He even upgraded his phone so he could see them better. (Well, that and he needed to upgrade anyway, the apps were failing.) It did arrive on time for Christmas, and he didn’t know until I gave it to him.

But for me, BF got something a little different:

Blue Snapon sherpa blanket

So now I have something from Snap-On

Yes, that’s a sherpa blanket with the words Snap-On imprinted into the top fabric. Very soft and fuzzy.

Inside of sherpa blanket

Warm and snuggly!!

Seems he was buying some of their cool car-guy gifts for his brother and brother-in-law when this caught his eye. But I know what really happened–it was on the truck and he said to the company rep, “I’ll take one of these for the little woman.” No real thought went into “what to get Amy for Christmas.” It was an opportunity that presented itself and he took advantage.

I think it’s funny.

After washing, I took a nap with it–and slept like a big cat. I couldn’t wake up! Since then BF has tried it and had the same experience. Later he told me that the Snap-On representative who sold it to him said that when you take that nap, plan on spending all day on the couch. No kidding.

Let’s see what he finds next year.

2020 Isn’t Really Over

Well, it’s February, and the last time I blogged was November. Sorry about the hiatus.

You remember 2020, yes? We haven’t indulged in the Jack Daniels Tennessee Apple, and we never bought any, either. But that doesn’t mean 2021 is going any better.

We all had hopes that 2021 would bring improvements, but that hasn’t really happened. The pandemic is still going on, and lots of people are getting the vaccine. But so far, it’s a continuation of 2020–on steroids.

Six days into the new year, Mike Rowe posted this picture on his social media with the caption, “well, here’s to 2022.”

Mike Rowe drinking to 2022

No kidding, Dude.

And it’s been that way ever since. Ready for another hiatus? At least I’m still writing for lawyers and other clients.

Hiatus And Website Woes

If you tried to access this blog back in December, you may have noticed that it was down for a couple of weeks. There’s a reason for that. The security certificate expired, and I didn’t realize it.

Sure, I got those notices, but at one point, there were two certificates on this site. Thinking I still had one that expired in February, I didn’t bother with it.

Then the site went down, causing my accidental blogging hiatus.

So I paid for everything, (it wasn’t expensive) both this site and the one I bought last year for copywriting, got some help from my hosting company, and the site came back up. With one problem. 

It seems that I get the message that parts of the site are not secure. Now, I think there’s something horribly wrong with it. And getting into a live chat with the support people–in Russia–will take pretty much all day. So I procrastinate and do other things instead.

Then one day I get a message from a friend of the blog RR, aka “Banana Rat.” He’s a web guy from a long time ago, and a longtime “Boeing brother” that I’ve kept in touch with all these years. I recently told his girlfriend that “we never dated, but we joked about it.”

He’s re-starting his little “side hustle” company that he’s had long before I knew him after a six-month gig that just wasn’t working for him. Like me, he’ll be working for himself. So I’m advising him on copy for his website as well as his LinkedIn presence, along with my own. More as we get it going.

The Help I Needed

So the hiatus, I hope, is over for now.

Banana Rat (RR) got into my host account and spent the afternoon chatting with the Russian folks to get my websites taken care of. They thought they were talking to me, which I think is funny. But the certificate for this blog wasn’t installed as it should have been and now it’s done.

The certificate and other issues on HeatCageKitchen are, for the most part, repaired, and are fine going forward. Just one or two things to be fixed, either manually or with the help of a paid tool. (I’ll decide on that later.)

The WordPress app on my phone told me yesterday that this site was suddenly getting more traffic, too. That’s funny, too, because it was Banana Rat doing all the work.

The copywriting website that has been sitting for a year unfinished is now up and running with WordPress in it. However, it’s just a blank website, and he put a new WordPress template in it for me. Now, I can begin adding content. I created a free report this time last year to upload, but that’s as far as it went. Because I was in a training class, the report on SEO was critiqued with very positive feedback.

So after sitting in limbo for all of 2020, my second website is finally coming around. And then I can start moving forward with things on the copywriting side.

Why He’s Called “Banana Rat”

I have a habit of name-calling that generally involves the word “rodent.” Instead of actually swearing at someone and calling them a very impolite name, I call them a “rodent.” I don’t have any particular love for rodents, but squirrels are cute. And it’s much less offensive than calling someone a “@#$%&* *&#(!.”

While at Boeing, I called RR a “rodent” one day on the phone during a work-related call. He proceeded to enlighten me with descriptions of banana rats. These big dog-like critters are found all over Cuba, and they hunt in packs. He mentioned that he’d played golf around Guantanamo Bay once, and saw them walking around and doing whatever they do. But they’re more than rats–they’re BIG rats, like dogs, weighing as much as 20 pounds! Can you imagine a bunch of those coming at you with sharp, nasty teeth?

They cause problems at Guantanamo Bay and are also an invasive species. So much so that the US Department of Defense is paying attention to them.

But because RR had to tell me about these beasts, and he’s a big dude himself, he has forever been nicknamed “The Banana Rat.”

Mainstream Keto

Have you taken a hiatus from your resolutions yet?

We’re now deep into New Years’ Resolutions, except for folks who have already abandoned theirs. I’m still trying to eat keto, despite the stuff BF wants to make for dinner. Jambalaya is primarily rice, and I quit eating it years ago. But. . .sometimes I eat rice. That’s why I say “mostly keto.”

For some time, longtime diet product company SlimFast has been offering keto-friendly products. I see them at my local Walmart and Target. Recently I discovered that they have been keeping up with what dieters want, and they’ve got their own brand of “fat bombs.”

If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s a small snack that you create with a healthy fat like coconut oil, cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, or something similar. It contains enough fat to keep you satisfied until your next meal, and also offers additional nutrients. You can find a myriad of these recipes on Pinterest and other sites like Jen Fisch’s Keto In The City.

Not to be outdone, SlimFast has a line of ketogenic products to help you along. I found the peanut butter cups first, and then last week decided to try the Strawberry Topped Cheesecake.

Slimfast Keto Fat Bomb Strawberry

Looks good, yes?

Well, remind me not to get these anymore and start making my own again. They’re OK, not great. They’re not bad, but not like the homemade stuff. I guess if you were out and needed something to snack on immediately they’re a fair option. But I kept nibbling on these, and they’re just OK. Walmart here charges $10 for this box, and on their website, it’s $13. I’m not buying them anymore.

Slimfast fat bomb back of box

See? It’s easy!

Honestly, it may work for some folks, and that’s great. But keto–and weight loss in general–is more than just eating little chocolate nibbles and magically turning into a clone of still-gorgeous fifty-something Cindy Crawford. It just doesn’t work that way.

But Slimfast still has all the shakes and drinks and things that are purported to help lose weight. Again, it may work for some folks. I’m not recommending or criticizing Slimfast. If it works for you, and you like it, go for it.

Keto instructions from Slimfast

It’s easy, right?

Nestle used to have one that was a shake thing, chocolate raspberry. I used to drink one with their “nutrition” (candy) bar. Delicious! But all that sugar isn’t good. I quit the Nestle concoctions after I couldn’t stomach it anymore.

Of course, in the badly disorganized pantry (the next hiatus) is the stuff that BF likes, too:

Natures Bakery Brownie bars

I found these at Target, and he likes them.

It does have whole wheat flour, but BF doesn’t care. Why? Because he thinks this is a healthy breakfast:

Strawberry Pop Tarts

Yes, he really does.

He also brought home a box of Banana Moon Pies and some Hostess Ding Dongs, the chocolate rounds with “cream” in the middle.

If ever the police come with a warrant to search the house, they’ll just know they’ve hit paydirt the minute they get to the kitchen. Once they open the pantry door and see gluten-free and organic things next to the Pop-Tarts and mac and cheese in a box, they’ll just “know” they’ve found “the perps.” 

The thing is, I’m pretty sure about what’s in our pantry. There’s nothing in there that can’t be purchased in any US grocery store, including dog food. But if a cop or two wants to help me reorganize the pantry, they’re welcome to come by. 

Be aware that there have been many cases of cops who know little of botany arresting people for their garden plants. There are millennial cops who don’t know the difference between okra, tomatoes, and other common garden plants and Snoop Dogg’s favorite green.

Breathing & IF

Thankfully, during this hiatus, I’ve not had any more allergy problems since my visit to Dr. Hall in Baton Rouge. I’m following his advice, and so far, so good. He’s highly recommended if you need an allergy doc, as well as his partner.

I’m still doing intermittent fasting as well, but I can’t say that I’ve lost any weight yet. But it’s a good thing to do anyway, because I’m not eating late at night, and we try not to eat late anyway. The next step is getting back to exercise, which is proving easier said than done.

The years I went walking on city streets are over, because walking or riding a bicycle in a rural area is a challenge as well as dangerous. There are no sidewalks. In either case, you’ll face:

  • Speeding drivers
  • Untethered (and intact) dogs who go on the attack
  • Snakes and other native species
  • Holes in the ground
  • Potholes in the asphalt
  • Cracked roads
  • Uneven and rocky roads
  • Other nonexistent road amenities

So I’m stuck with inside workouts, but with lots of other things to do. I did buy a bike trainer a couple of years ago from eBay for a good price. So. . .soon, it needs to happen daily, and end the exercise hiatus I’ve had to take for a while. Thank heavens for the Roku.

Valentine’s Day And The Hiatus Cake

So we’re coming up on our annual date night (we have others) and we’re having discussions about the dinner and dessert as well as the movie.

As another hiatus project, I made a small chocolate cake recently, taken from the January/February issue of Mary Jane’s Farm magazine. It was first posted on the affiliated Ranch Farmgirl blog.

Gluten free chocolate hiatus cake

Cute, isn’t it?

Gluten-free, made from scratch, and is sweetened only with maple syrup. I bought that especially to make this cake for us. I tried it out last month after getting a preview email from one of the magazine’s bloggers. The recipe uses two very small pans, known as a “cocotte.”

One pan in hand

See how tiny?

Actually, any pan like this with a lid is a “cocotte.” For this recipe, the top is not used.

But I have to warn you that “cocotte” is also a French word that means. . .the same thing as the Italian term “Puttanesca.” That is, a female with a specific profession. . .the world’s oldest.  Aside from that, I bought two of these little covered cast-iron Dutch ovens at Bed Bath & Beyond, along with two tiny skillets for “just for us” cooking. Sometime.

Pair of cast iron cocottes

Intended for baked eggs and small portions, these finally got used.

The cake is made with almond flour and a few other ingredients. The frosting is also rich and delicious.

Recipe for cake

A small list of ingredients for a small cake with big flavor.

The article lists variations too:

Variations

Variations on the theme

It’s a small cake just big enough for two to four pieces, and no leftovers. I like that part, because BF eats something twice and he’s done with it.

Bottom of page

The rest of the article.

These cute little pots are available here on Amazon, if you’re interested. (Yes, that’s my affiliate link.)

I convinced BF to try it. He liked it, but not as much as “the one you make with regular flour.” The maple syrup makes it taste a bit different than a standard cake.

In other words, he prefers the cake from a box or one I made him a couple of years ago from a book that was from scratch and just six inches around. A yellow cake with chocolate frosting, from a box, and the frosting in the paper can. That’s what he likes best.

I also considered making some heart-shaped chocolate waffles for him. But he didn’t understand that they weren’t keto and nixed the idea.

There is a solution for us: mug cakes. You know, a single serving of cake mixed in a coffee cup and is whatever and whenever you want. One for him, one (keto version) for me. Two chocolate cakes, two ways. They’re all over Pinterest and other recipe sites, just do a search.

I also tossed out the suggestion of fondue, which got me a funny look. What’s wrong with hot, melty cheese that you can dip nibbles into and eat?

More and more, it’s looking like frozen pizza or another pack of tamales for dinner again. Don’t yet know what movie to rent, but there are more animated films at RedBox to consider.

Some days, I think about the days when Miss Alice used to come for dinner sometimes. She always says that she misses my cooking. Then I think I’m ready for a hiatus from cooking dinner for BF.

Well, if Miss Alice does come for a visit, I’ve got plenty of vegetarian recipes to make. BF will probably eat a bowl of cereal or a ham & cheese sandwich like he always does when I make something he’s afraid of.

Until Next Time

I hope not to have another hiatus for a while. I am getting more comfortable with the infernal Instant Pot, and have not yet hit it with a sledgehammer. That being said, I can’t say that it’s “revolutionized” my cooking, either. I use it for some things and will experiment with others. So one of these days. . .there will be a blog post.

Please stay warm, and stay safe–it’s not over yet, and we do know a few folks who have had the bug. I met a man in Rouse’s one day who had it, along with his wife. Agreeing that the media likes to talk about it at high volume, he did say to take it seriously. The man said that he was in the hospital for five days, and the biggest thing is the fatigue that hangs on long after it’s over. Fingers crossed that it’s resolved soon and we can get back to normal and visiting again.

I’ll be back again soon.

Happy Dining!

 

Hormel Chorizo & Egg Egg Bites
Hormel’s New Egg Bites

Egg bites: another Starbucks trend that’s gone mainstream. Make them or buy them, they’re a great meal or snack anytime.

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Hi, Again, Dear Readers!

It’s Monday, and did you know? It’s three weeks past my birthday, and ten days until Thanksgiving. When did this happen? Oh, right–while we were all working on stuff and going about our daily lives and trying to hold onto some kind of “normal.” 

Our recent lives here at the Casa de Rurale have included a few changes that I won’t bore you with here. But as always, we’re working on it.

Turkey Day 2020

Thanksgiving for us this year could be just me and BF, but I did introduce him to the idea of “Friendsgiving.” In other words, Thanksgiving for friends, as we did for many years with our “Buddhist Thanksgiving” in Houston. I mean, we were doing Friendsgiving before there was a name for it.

The district leaders, originally from Taiwan, invited anyone who had no plans to go anywhere and wanted to spend it with friends. And that’s exactly how it got started. I enjoyed the heck out of it, but things change and people change, and it eventually didn’t happen anymore.

I found a recipe on Facebook that Giada de Laurentiis posted for a stuffed turkey breast that I may make for us, and anyone we invite. I’ll let you know. But if it’s just me and BF at the homestead, that’s OK too.

Still Intermittent Fasting

I’m still at it, but now I have a little support, too. BF never minded–he asked once if it was safe–but I’ve also found a simple-to-use app called FastHabit. It helps you track your fasting, reminds you about it, and you can start and stop anytime.

On a recent Saturday, we were out with BF’s family and we all went out to lunch.  I ended up fasting for almost 20 hours. I was really hungry, but I was OK.

I’m using the free version right now, but the paid version is a one-time charge of $3, so I may go ahead and buy it soon.

It’s available for both iPhone and Android devices, is simple to use, and sets up quickly. You can also adjust the time you fast, keep going after your set time–whatever. 

Weight loss? Yeah, I haven’t checked, but I’m still in the FB group for it.

Jazz Radio

I went looking for new jazz music and discovered that there are live, commercial-free radio stations running on YouTube. No kidding, I went looking for jazz music and found a handful of stations that run live. No commercials, no talking, no nothing.

One of my writer friends went looking for the “white noise” kind of thing, ocean sounds, and the like and found the same thing.

I don’t know if you could find them for, say, country or classic rock. But I found multiple jazz stations, and they change every day. If you’re looking for “work from home” music that keeps you from being distracted, check it out. You might find something you like, and new every day.

Before Egg Bites

I’ve written before about Starbucks’ ideas making it into the mainstream. Remember when you got to-go coffee in styrofoam cups, and a paper cup with the sleeve was the “new thing?” 

Even if you have never set foot in a Starbucks, you’ve probably heard of the Pumpkin Spice Latte or PSL. Since its introduction in 2003, “pumpkin spice” everything has emerged, including some rather amusing memes. I’ve seen a number of “pumpkin spice” things available in the fall. The motor oil, toilet paper, and cat litter are part of the fun memes that make fun of it.

Remember: pumpkins are also harvested in the fall, which is why it’s a fall thing.  But you can buy canned pumpkin all year long. No kidding.

So in addition to the PSL, there is the Pumpkin Spice Creme, a different form of the drink. The PSL is also available iced. Up until 2015, there was no pumpkin in any of it, only the spices in a pumpkin pie. Today the heavy-sugar syrups do have some pumpkin puree in them.

I’m still not drinking the PSL because I remember how my teeth wiggled for hours after I drank it. Other coffee shops and chains have also taken up the things that originated in Starbucks. But I do enjoy some of the decaf pumpkin spice coffee I find at Target in the fall. And since the Cranberry Bliss Bars have returned, I might just have one of them soon, too. Just one.

Not Just In The Store Anymore

So after the Sous Vide Egg Bites debuted at Starbucks nationwide, they quickly became a fan favorite.

Picture of Starbucks Egg Bites from the website

These are well known among fans. (Source: Starbucks website)

They’re a great little snack anytime.  People doing low-carb and keto love them because they’re a breakfast alternative on the go. They’re heated in an oven, then served hot and fast in a little paper tray. Perfect with hot or iced coffee, iced tea, or even water.

Move over, Starbucks, you’ve created another monster.

Hormel’s New Egg Bites

I really like to avoid prepared foods, but occasionally, they’re not a bad thing. So maybe they’re not new to you, but I just saw these this morning in Rouses:

Hormel's Egg Bites In Rouse's

In the refrigerated section of Rouses. These run about $5 at Starbucks.

I was going to pass them up, but then the word “chorizo” caught me. And no futzing around in the drive-through, either.

Hormel Chorizo & Egg Egg Bites

I almost forgot about them until I pulled them out of the bag with the rest of the shopping. By then it was time for a bite to eat.

Ingredient list for the Hormel Egg Bites

I didn’t see anything bad. . .although I glanced.

I know, it looks like a lot of ingredients, but remember that each component has its own ingredients–chorizo and cheese, in this case. But they were quick to make:

Instructions for the egg bites

They were literally heat and eat, and have the little paper tray just like Starbucks:

Egg bites in paper tray

You microwave them in the paper tray for a minute or so, and they come out just fine.

What do they taste like?

I’ve had Starbucks version of chorizo, and it’s not like this one. The chorizo here tastes pretty darn good, and there is a “bite,” unlike the Starbucks version. If you don’t like spicy, might want to pass on these.

They’re flavorful egg bites, and taste really, really good.

Amy’s Home Made Egg Bites

Although mine have bacon, not chorizo, this is how they compare:

Hormel egg bites with Amy's bacon egg cheese version

Hormel’s are slightly bigger than mine.

I didn’t use a “recipe” for the latest batch. I just whisked up some eggs, cheese, cream, cooked bacon (ends and pieces cooked and crumbled), and maybe some Chipotle Tabasco. That’s really good in egg dishes like these–not hot but adds a Southwestern flavor.

Like a lot of things, there are recipes all over the web for egg bites in nearly every incarnation. After trying several recipes it was time for me to make my own, my way. Next time I’ll make the chorizo myself and then make the egg bites.

As you can see, the Hormel version is a bit bigger than my IP version, for which I use a silicone egg bite mold. I made two trays of them at once, and haven’t had them every day. But heck, if you’re that hungry, eat three, right? It’s keto.

I’m going to admit that making my own egg bites in the IP is a bit of work, but I sure do enjoy them. BF won’t eat them, even though they’re bacon-and-eggs, because he, like the GER, is not a fan of Starbucks.

Dude: you can have your egg bites without going there.

Not Just Egg Bites, Either

Hormel’s new Black Label ready-made breakfast includes a couple of items even BF might enjoy:

Hormel's Black Label Breakfast Combos

I saw these in Rouse’s as well but didn’t notice the price. Maybe next time, Honey!

You know I’d pass on these because of the pancakes, but if BF wanted one, I’d certainly get it for him.

He keeps around the powdered pancake mix so that he can whip up his own on occasion, and drown them in syrup. Just wish he’d learn to use a knife when cutting butter, instead of the spatula. When he uses a fork, it looks like a bear clawed it. He really mauls a stick of butter when he’s in the kitchen.

Until Next Time

You’d think that breakfast is just breakfast, but it keeps evolving. So if you’re looking for a quick and easy breakfast but don’t have time to make it, you’re in luck. Find some of Hormel’s egg bites in the refrigerated section or some of Jimmy Dean’s version of frittata breakfasts in the freezer section, which are along the same lines. A low-carb breakfast is a reality for busy folks.

Just don’t say the word “frittata” in front of BF, please. It gives him the shakes.

Happy (Breakfast) Dining!

Whole Chocolate Cake
Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting–have you heard of it? If you’re curious or interested in trying it, I’ll attempt to break it down here. It’s not “just another diet.”

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Yes, it’s still 2020. I’m sorry, nothing I’ve tried can fix that.

No, we haven’t tried the Apple Jack Daniels. But it’s not yet 2021, is it?

Got a couple of things to tell you about. And, it was my birthday!

The Birthday Cake, Again

So nearly every year since 2002 or 2003, I’ve made this delicious cake from Suzanne Somers’ Desserts book. Of course, I have to fiddle with it, because there is no more Somersweet and I have to use Swerve Sweetener instead.

Whole Chocolate Cake

My favorite!

Unfortunately, mine never comes out quite as neat as the picture:

Picture of chocolate cake from cookbook

Beautiful, isn’t it? Because it’s the cookbook picture.

This year’s cake came out better than last year’s, the second time I made the cake part. I only make it once a year, so I don’t practice a lot. The buttercream and the ganache are pretty standard, but the cake is a bit fussy.

Actual slice of Amy's cake

Despite it’s odd appearance, it’s still delicious.

The only ingredients are:

  • Eggs
  • Chocolate
  • Butter
  • Baking Soda (just a pinch)
  • Cream
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Swerve

Whip the eggs into a frenzy:

Beating eggs in the KitchenAid stand mixer

They triple in volume here.

And bake.

That’s pretty much it–no “gluten-free” ingredients, and yet it is truly gluten-free. Of course, once I was done, there was some cleaning to do.

Chocolate splatters on kitchen counter

Yup. Crime scene!

BF decided he’d rather have the brownies I made him from scratch a week or so ago, and they are definitely not gluten-free. He was also given some of these:

Pizza Hut Brownies

Because brownies are best from Pizza Hut!

I cut my cake up into 16 slices, so I’ll have it for a while.

I stopped making the delicious cheesecake when I was ill recently. Just like that, I stopped making it. I’ll make it again soon.

Also made it to Starbucks for my free drink: a Venti Iced Decaf Cafe Americano with a heavy splash of cream and some sugar-free Vanilla syrup.

Venti Iced Coffee From Starbucks

Yummy!!

Later that night, we stopped at the local JC Penney for a trip into Sephora for my birthday gift:

Sephora makeup gift

Can’t wait to try these soon.

Last year, a storm passed through, and JC Penney was closed after a massive power outage, so I never got my gift. Turns out you can go anytime during the month of your birthday. I’ll remember that.

All in all, it was a nice day, but no cold front this year.

Farewell, Sweet Tomatoes

You’ve probably heard that one of my favorite places in Houston, Sweet Tomatoes, has closed all their locations nationwide. They were also called “Souplantation” in some parts of the US. It’s just one of the many side effects of the “pandemic” that has cost billions in lost. . .everything.

Sweet Tomatoes Logo

Note: these pictures from Sweet Tomatoes were all sourced from a Google search.

On a side note, gourmet kitchen stuff store Sur la Table has closed up about half of their stores, which includes the one in Baton Rouge. It was part of a “restructuring” thing, but of course, I can always order online. Pier 1 Imports is now online-only, like Wayfair and Overstock.

I’ve written about Sweet Tomatoes before, and I just loved all the variety of things they had.

Sweet Tomatoes building sign

A great place, it was.

Their website has been taken down, and all the buildings are now just empty. Their pantries and perishable ingredients were cleared out months ago. I hope the workers were able to take home everything instead of throwing them away.

I loved going there when I was in The Woodlands, especially before or after visiting Dr. Davis at Woodlands Wellness or when I was attending a concert. Wish I could have taken BF there–he would have enjoyed it, consuming less salad and more of the “other stuff.”  I love salad, so it was just the best place for me.

Sweet Tomatoes Salad Bar

THAT is a a salad bar!

Last week we had dinner at the local La Carretta with BF’s family, and I mentioned it to his sister. I asked, “If I say, ‘Joan’s Broccoli Madness,’ do you know what I’m talking about?” Indeed she did–BF’s sister and brother-in-law went to Sweet Tomatoes many times in Atlanta and were also sad to see it go.

Picture of Joans Broccoli Madness

Delicious, is it not?

We tried explaining it to BF, but he just didn’t get it. He went on to tell his sister that I was still trying to do him in by making him eat quinoa.

It was, if I remember correctly, about $15 for the all-you-can-eat nature of the place. Of course, my thing was THE SALAD.

Joan’s Broccoli Madness

If you never had the pleasure of going, I’ll give you a visual.

When you walked in, a very long salad bar greeted you, with some specialty salads like Joan’s Broccoli Madness at the front.

Salad Bar long picture

Talk about a smorgasbord!

As I mentioned in my previous post (without pictures, unfortunately) I never forgot the salad with cherries in it. It was one of the most memorable visits, all by myself, before a concert.

After the prepared salads, there were fresh greens, other vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, proteins like egg and chicken, then salad dressings followed by toppings of all kinds. You could choose from cheeses, bacon bits, dressings, nuts (ranch dressing with sunflower seeds are still my favorites) raisins, dried cranberries, chow mein noodles, and other crunchy things. I loved it all.

Sample salad picture from Sweet tomatoes

This is just a sample picture of what you could choose–and all you could eat.

Get to a table, put down your salad, and go over to the prepared food area where you could choose from:

  • Soup Bar (including a turkey chili I loved)
  • Potato Bar
  • Pasta Bar
  • Pizza Bar
  • Bakery Bar

More of Sweet Tomatoes offerings

This is after you finish the salad bar line

Many of their baked items were square, from the cornbread to the blueberry muffins and brownies. It was one of those little things that made Sweet Tomatoes unique.

Sweet Tomatoes Bakery Bar Area

Delicious, it was

Even the interior was comfortable, with a very interesting tomato-pattern carpet:

Sweet tomatoes dining area

Tomato in carpet usually sounds like a cleaning issue!

I was thinking about Joan’s Broccoli Madness the other day, and guess what? There are recipes online for this deliciousness from:

They’re pretty much the same recipe, and I hope to make it soon, possibly for Thanksgiving.

Louisiana’s Answer:  The Salad Station

OK, I’m not going to lie–The Salad Station isn’t exactly like Sweet Tomatoes, they don’t have a carpeted dining area, nor do they serve Joan’s Broccoli Madness, and that’s OK. But when my birthday was looming this year, I asked BF where he was taking me. “I don’t know yet” was his answer.

I have long wanted to try The Salad Station–especially since there’s no chance of ever going to Sweet Tomatoes ever again. Every time I brought it up, he said, “but there’s nothing for me to eat.” He was wrong, of course, and had bacon and ham on his salad, while I chose boiled shrimp. Because I don’t have to mess with them.

We’re not talking about flying to Beverly Hills–or even Houston–for an exclusive restaurant. It’s just a ride to Hammond, although we could have gone to Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, or any other location. I talked BF into it, and he said, “whatever makes you happy.” Awww.

Salad Station does have many of the same qualities as Sweet Tomatoes, but they are smaller. Like Central Market and a few other places, you buy your salad by weight–it’s not “all you can eat for one price.” That’s OK too. However, BF was surprised when my salad was weighed–it was twice the size of his. But as you can see, BF has a markedly different definition of “salad.”

Two salads, one for Amy, one for BF

Just like the last time–two different interpretations of salad. Those are Parmesean cheese crisps at the top of my bowl.

Their salad bar is wide open as it was before, and they require you to wear your mask while you’re there. (Everyone in Louisiana does.) They also have thin plastic gloves you’re required to wear while choosing ingredients. Not a problem, and we took them off when we sat down to eat.

Yes, this does segway into the main topic of the blog post.

Intermittent Fasting

You’re probably thinking, “get to the point of the blog, will you?” I am.

I’ve been doing Intermittent Fasting for a few weeks now. I started right before my “breathing emergency” last month but had to quit while I was on Prednisone. A couple of days after I took the last pill, I went back to IF, and have been doing fine since.

Amy’s Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nurse, scientist, or other type of healthcare practitioner. I’m a blogger who writes about different topics, occasionally diet, health, and wellness. I’m by no means an expert on these things. Should you choose to pursue IF or any other thing I’ve written about, please do some additional research before you start, or speak with a health care provider who can guide you.

Additional disclaimer: I’m not an MLM representative, and not trying to sell anything with this post. There’s no sponsorship to this post, no products to buy. I’m just passing along information. You can buy a book or two, and there are Amazon links here, as there are in many of my blogs. But should you choose to begin intermittent fasting, you don’t need to spend any additional money on it. Books are available at your public library, including online, for free, if you choose.

How To Eat On IF

Intermittent Fasting isn’t really a “diet,” and doesn’t require any special foods, supplements, shakes, or other financial outlays.  You can find plenty of info online, particularly on Pinterest. Like any subject, there is “good” information and “bad” information, equally accessible. (I’m a copywriter, ask me, I know!)

Fasting has its roots in many religions, including Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. (That “fish on Friday” thing is Catholicism, but I think that’s been made optional.) There is “wet fasting,” where you drink water and maybe a few liquids as well as “dry fasting,” where you consume nothing, including water. If you decide to do any kind of fasting, I highly recommend doing some reading first, either from the library or from online searching. Just don’t assume you can stop eating and drinking and figure you’ll detox and lose every excess pound you have. NO–hydration is important, the body needs water for its many processes. I’m not a fan of “dry fasting,” and do not recommend it.

Intermittent Fasting’s basic premise is that you “wet fast” for a specific window of time during your day, generally overnight, or whenever you get to bed. Easy, right? Then you enjoy food during your “eating window,” which is also a specific period of time.

What period of time is that? YOU figure that out for yourself. If you work evening or night shifts, then, of course, your eating window will be when you’re awake, and the fasting window is when you’re asleep.

Easy, right? Well, there’s a little more to it than that.

Getting Started With IF

I have these books on the subject:

No, I haven’t read them yet.

I got started when cookbook guru Stephanie O’Dea published her new e-book, 2,4,6, Eat: Intermittent Fasting Simplified. I have read this one.

The first three books were gifted from Callisto, some of the last physical copies before they went digital. Stephanie, on the other hand, wrote four e-books during the lockdown, this being one of them. When they were published, she mentioned them in her regular weekly emails, and they were 99 cents each at that point. I bought all four. Her book on IF is the one I read first–in less than an hour if I remember correctly. Much like her cookbooks, Stephanie lays it out as if you were sitting with her in Starbucks and talking about it.

You can do IF with your CrockPot, too.

So how did Stephanie do with it? In a nutshell, she’s lost the last few pounds she was trying to shed, and she looks great. I mean, she already looked great, but now she looks even better.

I also joined a Facebook group called Intermittent Fasting For Women, which is not affiliated with Stephanie’s own Facebook group (I’m also in that, link in her blog.) There are over 360,000 members around the world focused on one thing: fasting intermittently to lose weight that won’t come off any other way. Very encouraging, and if you ask a question in this big group, you’ll get many different answers to it.

Many of these women show pictures of their results, but I’m not posting any pictures in my underwear on Facebook. Some have small amounts of losses, but they’re visible–all depends on how they’re doing IF, how long, and how much exercise they get. Some show considerable results, like the ladies who are quite large and have shrunk down to a tiny size 6 (or less.) Many become absolute bombshells after losing weight. In fact, sometimes when I see these pictures, I comment, “bombshell alert!” One lady who posted is about 63, and she looks fantastic. Another lady who is 72 is no longer using her “Bumblebee” chair to get around (although she is using a cane.)

I’m not there yet.

What To Eat On Intermittent Fasting

Well, that’s the $64K question, isn’t it?

Of course, it’s best to eat as healthy as you can. Many people find that keto is a good thing for them, and as I always say that I eat “keto, mostly,” since BF likes to make jambalaya or red beans and rice occasionally. But some folks may decide to eat paleo, low-carb, or simply eat what they’ve always eaten, just changing the times of day they eat.

Then there are those who eat the same foods that they ate before but at different times and maybe different amounts. They lose too. They may eat a few Oreos or a candy bar along with salads and grilled chicken during their eating window, but ONLY during the eating window, and maybe decrease the amounts, or increase your fasting window during a “treat day.”

Everyone has an idea and offers advice. But the most prevalent thing I’ve seen is, “You do you, and what works for you.” If having a little sugar-laden French vanilla coffee creamer isn’t stopping your weight loss, go for it, in moderation.

Drinking water is encouraged since you need it. Not the excessive soft drinks BF chugs down on a daily basis. In my case, I’m still drinking the lime water all the time, along with coffee, occasionally tea, with pink sweetener and cream in the last two.

Here’s the thing: there aren’t any “special foods” you need to eat on IF. Do you like keto, paleo, or low carb? Go for it. Want more gluten-free, dairy-free, or sugar-free foods? That can work, too. You can count calories–but I don’t, and neither do a number of other IF devotees. And if it doesn’t, try something else, add exercise, increase your fasting window, or whatever you want to, and wait for the results.

Unlike the popularly advertised diet plans on TV, you don’t need to buy any brand, type, or style of food. It’s great that so many celebrities have lost weight with the diet plan thing, but that’s not what IF is about.

The key is: You do you.

My Current IF Results

I’ll be perfectly honest here–I haven’t dropped what feels like 915 pounds in a matter of days. That’s not happening any more than riding my bike for 30 minutes once and being in top shape for the Texas MS 150 tomorrow. I did the hCG diet for about a year and a half–I lost weight, but even the hCG diet doesn’t work like that either. But in my case, my current results are:

    • The scale hasn’t yet gone down, but remember–there’s water weight, and “weight” fluctuates anyway,  particularly in women. I don’t get on the scale often because it can be discouraging.
    • I’ve noticed some “shrinkage” here and there, but I’ve not yet gone down to smaller clothes yet.
    • Although I did fill up the bowl at The Salad Station just like I did at Sweet Tomatoes, I didn’t finish it like I used to. I credit that to Intermittent Fasting. I took about half of it home for the next day, then had a sliver of cake when we got home an hour later, then my “fasting window” began.

My current exercise consists of the occasional walking tours of Walmart, along with regular use of the Thighmaster set, and slinging around a kettlebell weight, the latest of which is 20 pounds. I’m trying to get to the point where I can get a half-hour of yoga, HIIT (“High-Intensity Interval Training“), or bicycling in place in my day.

While in Academy after dinner, I did check out the availability of heavier kettlebells. (They seem to be difficult to find in some places.) Right now I’m lifting a 20-pound (padded) Bionic Ball kettlebell, but I want to eventually lift more. I told BF that if I start swinging around a 40-pound kettlebell like a roll of paper towels, he’d better be on guard.

Nah–I’m not going to swing it at him. I just like poking him in the ribs now and again. Trust me, it works both ways.

Honestly, IF is not terribly difficult once you get into a rhythm. You just have to remember not to have a nibble of something before bed, or you’ll break the fast and it won’t work. And Stephanie’s book is HIGHLY recommended. It’s not a long or difficult read and is very informative.

And The Cat

I loved my felines, Catmandu and Kismet, who have long been gone for many years. Our current apex predator, Tab E. Cat, is all about BF, and couldn’t care less what else is going on as long as he can curl up with him. He only likes me when I have food.

Until one day.

I did try to do IF while on Prednisone, but it wasn’t happening, so I quit for the duration of the medicine. One of the drug’s side effects is that you can become very hungry.  I did, and just didn’t bother with IF for a couple of weeks, but sticking closely with keto as much as I could.

One night, about 11:00 pm, my stomach was letting me know it wanted something–fast. I went into the fridge and found some sliced roast beef that BF was using for sandwiches. (Notice I said “was.”)

Taking out a couple of slices, I went to talk to BF, who was now curled up in bed with the cat. The beast was nestled under his left armpit. Upon seeing and smelling the roast beef slices, Tab E. Cat looked up at me, opened his eyes, walked OVER BF’s chest, and up to me, completely ignoring him. He meowed, giving me that wide-eyed cat look that said, “oh, that looks delicious, I’d love to have some!” I gave him a small bit to avoid getting clawed. BF was shocked, and said, “great, now I’m chopped liver.”

Only when there’s food involved, Honey.

Until Next Time

Whether you’re looking to lose for the holidays or get a jump on next summer’s bathing suit season, Intermittent Fasting may be just what you need to start shedding extra pounds you didn’t intend to have. It just takes a little information, understanding, and planning to get started–and not a lot of money. Will it work for you? Try it, on your schedule, just don’t expect an overnight transformation.

Enjoy!

Update: October Edition

It’s been busy lately, so I’m giving a quick update on the recent events at the Casa de Rurale.

Find me on Bloglovin’

Hi, Again, Dear Readers:

It’s October already, and that means that 2020 will be ending soon. You’ve got a great reason to celebrate.

I just realized that it’s been too long since my last post, and I’m delinquent in getting back to it. There isn’t an SEO keyword for this blog, it’s just an update.

Since it’s October, that means my birthday is coming up. I need to gather up supplies for the cake–chocolate, butter, eggs, and maybe a bag of Swerve or two. I have erythritol but might pop for the Swerve since it’s already powdered.

We haven’t heard from our newlywed friend Justin, but we have the little picture book for the next time we see him, and possibly Bronte.

But this is still 2020, and odd things are still happening. Just the other day, we had some renegade bulls hanging out in the road: 

Bulls in the middle of the raod

Someone forgot to close the gate and they just wandered on by

No kidding, they were acting like kids skipping school. Except they are a lot bigger. Makes you think about something along these lines:

Jack Daniels Apple

It’s tempting, isn’t it?

Well, it’s an option. We haven’t tried it yet, but hang on, it’s October now. December 31st is coming. We might start sipping it one of these days.

Last Of The Summer Veg

I know, I know, the “victory garden of 2020” was a disaster. But that doesn’t mean I quit growing anything. I still have pots.

First, the Meyer lemon and key lime tree that came with me from Houston are still going strong. We keep saying we’ll plant it, but we haven’t decided where yet. I have several key limes growing now, and three Meyer lemons that will be ready to pick in December.

Some time ago, I put several avocado seeds in a bucket to see what would happen. Now, something is growing out of it, and I believe it’s avocado. I haven’t dug down to look at the source, but I did see a picture of it on Facebook in a homesteading group. A lady put the seed in her composting bin, and the darn thing sprouted. Looks just like mine, and it’s huge right now. So I’m hoping for the best, and looking for another planting spot so I can have avocados all the time.

BF is not particularly thrilled with the prospect of an avocado tree growing on his property, but he doesn’t have to eat them. They’re all for me, anyway.

Second, amazingly, the four basil plants, one flat-leaf parsley, and one Texas tarragon plant are thriving despite being surrounded by weeds. There is still a watermelon vine growing out there, but no melons. I need to dig them up and pot them but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I recently made two batches of pesto. Good thing–when I found myself feeling ill from the breathing problems and then the Prednisone, Pea & Pesto Soup was made frequently.

I recently bought a grape tomato plant, some romaine lettuce, and a “sweet snacking pepper” plant at the local Tractor Supply. Well, the peppers got as big as my thumb, but they sure are tasty. I’ve been eating the tomatoes as they ripen, and when the lettuce got high enough, I made a little salad:

Salad with romaine, sweet peppers and tomoatoes

It’s not much, but it was delicious.

I topped it with a mix of a little EVOO, some flavored vinegar, and a pinch of pink sea salt. Delicious.

Finally–Trader Joe’s Coming To Mandeville

After years of prayers, emails, hopes, and wishes, a new Trader Joe’s is being built in Mandeville, somewhere in the vicinity of the current Whole Foods store, right across Highway 22. ETA: no idea.

Although it’s not on the website yet, our district leader OR knows someone who is familiar with the situation. The store’s facade and inside are being built out as we speak. There are also some threads on Facebook regarding Northshore affairs, and they have confirmed that it’s happening. I’m sure it will be announced when the opening date is close.

Of course, BF still says the same thing: “It’s just a grocery store.”

Now, for me, this TJ’s is still close to an hour away. But I’m more likely to be in the Mandeville/Covington area than Baton Rouge, so this is great news. Once we get back to having in-person SGI meetings, I’ll be heading there more often. But Baton Rouge has been on my travel itinerary recently.

New Baskets In Winn-Dixie

Our local Winn-Dixie has finally refreshed their baskets and now we have not only cup holders in the baskets like HEB, Whole Foods, Publix, and Kroger, but we’ve got those smaller ones like Central Market. I call them “urban baskets,” because they seem to be the forte of big city grocery stores:

Two-level grocery baskets

For when you just want a few things.

These have a couple of spots for holding drinks and things:

Second level drink holder

Keeps the drink out of the way here

Top-level holding area for urban basket

For whatever you need at your fingertips, like coupons

The irony, of course, is that if you bring a cup of coffee or other beverage into the grocery store with you, drinking it is out of the question. You have to wear a mask, no matter where you go here.

Keto Ice Cream!

Found this in Rouse’s a couple of weeks ago:

Keto Ice Cream

Coffee and chocolate!

I get the irony of the brownie mix, but there is a reason for it. First, darn it, I wanted some ice cream, and these were just waiting for me. Yes, they are delicious and smooth, with no sugar added and no gluten either. Highly recommended if you come across it. Yes, Aunt Kathy and Aunt Ruth, you too. Rich, high-quality stuff that’s hard as a rock when completely frozen.

I’ll be getting more one of these days.

Dinner Guests

The other thing is that for the period of a week in October, we had company for dinner at the Casa de Rurale. No, we did not host a) “ultimate man,” TV host Mike Rowe, b), any member of the British Royal Family, c) anyone from any political class at any level, or d) friends visiting from Houston or New Orleans. No, I was cooking for CAR GUYS!

One of BF’s younger coworkers asked him for help getting his silvery-blue Chevrolet Silverado back in running condition. The thing was here for a week, parked in the garage, and The Boy came every night to work on it. BF helped, supervised, and allowed him to use his Snap-On Tools, but The Boy did most of it himself. He bought not only the right parts but good parts, not just cheap ones. He also joined us for dinner every night. One evening, he had a friend who helped him with some of the repair work who also had dinner with us.

On most of these occasions, a high-school chum of BF’s came by, who lives just a couple of miles up the road. TT lives alone with his dog, no girlfriend, and likes to “drop by” for dinner on occasion, especially after he discovered I can cook. Well, this man needs a friend, too, and BF just happens to be close. He doesn’t cook for himself, we think, and maybe needs more help we can give him. Knowing we had company, he invited himself for dinner a few times.

Every night for a week I was in the kitchen cooking for guests. I used the Instant Pot two or three times for soup, for chili, and one or two other things that went over well. They kept coming back for more.

To clarify, BF is always my “ultimate man.” Mike Rowe is second in line on that one.

Requests And Desserts

So I made brownies for dessert one night. Oatmeal snacking cake on another. I forget what else I made, but it was well-loved by everyone. And I think BF brought home something else like the frozen pie thing another time. But I didn’t share my Keto ice cream.

NO. WAY.

BF insisted on mashed potatoes and gravy one night, but not just any gravy–and no packets either. He wanted the gravy from a Barefoot Contessa book that I should never have made that first Thanksgiving. Because now, he wants it all the time. (I don’t eat it.) The recipe worked fine, just like the last time. BF and The Boy loved it, although I fussed at The Boy for attempting to put ketchup on meatloaf. He tried the meatloaf and decided that it didn’t really need ketchup anyway.

Then TT came by and demolished the remainder of the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy on that “visit,” and said it was one of the “best meals he’d ever had.” He must have been quite hungry at that point. We wondered if maybe hadn’t eaten for a day or so. 

We breathed a sigh of relief when we had our first dinner alone. The Boy now complains that he is missing the gourmet dinners.

I’ve Been Ill

For the last 18 months (or more), I’ve been suffering from horrific allergies. I’ve mentioned it a few times before. It just started up one day for no apparent reason. Sneezing, coughing, and an endless need for a tissue. Despite trying multiple treatments, the problem continued to worsen. Then one day, right after the Southern Oaks wedding, I literally couldn’t breathe anymore. I couldn’t open up my breathing passages with anything–they were sealed shut and kept me from sleeping at night.

It was time to step up my game. I needed a doctor.

I tried finding an allergy specialist six months ago, but of course, this isn’t Texas, much less Houston, so I didn’t have good luck with that. There’s one doctor’s office right in Hammond that one of our district members goes to. When I called and asked questions, the response from the female answering the phone didn’t give me a good feeling. She acted like a snob answering my questions, and I figured if the person answering the phone treated me like that, the doctor could do the same thing. Been there, done that, no thank you.

I’ve also tried:

  • Bee pollen
  • An air purifier
  • Super-duper HVAC air filters that we have to order online
  • Quercetin
  • Bromelin
  • Butterbur
  • Homeopathic allergy remedies
  • Essential oils, including peppermint and eucalyptus
  • Sudafed, regular and PE
  • Claritin-D
  • Other OTC allergy pills
  • Various nasal sprays

 

I was still sick–and getting worse. Trying to sleep while breathing through your mouth doesn’t work well.

Oh, and just because you can’t breathe doesn’t mean you go bare-faced here–you must wear a mask. 

BF’s very intelligent sister began taking their father to doctors in Baton Rouge this year, about an hour southwest from us. They visited an ophthalmologist, a gerontologist (similar to a pediatrician, specializes in geriatric patients), and a cardiologist for starters. Locally available medical care wasn’t giving him what he really needed, and she wanted to make sure he was getting the best care they could find. So off they went at her insistence and much to his chagrin.

That gave me an idea–look for a doc in Baton Rouge. That’s where LSU Medical School is. I did, and I thanked her for it later.

Finding The Right Doctor For Me

I really needed help, fast, so I figured I’d start looking for and calling ENTs who treat allergies at the suggestion of a nice lady on Facebook, WM. After researching the Mandeville/Covington/Slidell area, I looked to Baton Rouge. It’s about the same distance, and shopping is better.

Remember that in Houston, driving 100 miles or more in a day is not uncommon, and you may not even leave the city. Trips to Woodlands Wellness & Cosmetic Center to see Dr. Davis were at least 100 miles round trip, especially if I did some shopping in The Woodlands. This wasn’t a big deal for me, although I was pretty tired when I got home. The same thing happened after the trips to Baton Rouge, even if the city is smaller.

Here’s the thing–is it better to just go to someone nearby, or find the right doctor for your needs and drive farther? Do you have to go to the closest doctor, even if he or she isn’t what you need? I found that out in Houston, and if it’s worth the drive, then go.

I did some research on a few places that came up on my search engine results page (SERP) and made some phone calls. The second one I called answered all my questions without any attitude. They were so nice! I made a couple of calls to them after reading their patient reviews and got an appointment on the following Tuesday. I was in bad shape at that point.

Tuesday couldn’t come fast enough.

Baton Rouge General Hospital

I didn’t realize that this clinic is located in the hospital itself. I’d never been there before. Thanks to Google Maps, I got there on time safely.

My appointment was with Dr. Hall of Sinus & Nasal Specialists of Louisiana, and he took care of me right away. Using a scope, he saw right away what was going on. (First words: “Oh my GAWD!”) He prescribed the well-known steroid Prednisone to take care of the swelling.  While I didn’t like the idea of taking it, the stuff worked wonders. It was a short-term, quick-and-dirty solution that did the job he intended. I did feel ill while taking it, but that’s worn off.

I’m breathing better now, and he said I didn’t need anything else–no prescriptions, no surgery, etc., just a twice-daily sinus rinse and two shots of Flonase right afterward.  If I do need help again, call back. I will. Dr. Hall knew what to do and took care of me. That’s greatly appreciated. Five-star ratings on Google and a couple of other places.

Of course, the GER couldn’t leave it alone. He let me know that Prednisone was going to turn me into, um, a much larger version of myself. That hasn’t happened, thank heavens, and I’m done with it anyway.

I also found this recipe on their blog, and I hope to make it soon. I love poblano peppers, and this looks pretty tasty. Especially now that I can smell the peppers roasting. Well, BF won’t be happy when I make it, but Miss Alice might enjoy them.

More Delicious Findings

So on that same trip to Rouse’s, I found something I’d long forgot about: blueberry sausage.

Blueberry Sausage

Can you believe it?

Obviously, this is locally made. (How far is Hattiesburg from here?) But I used to go to Central Market’s meat department and buy a half-dozen of their blueberry sausages, sold individually, and by the pound. Buy one, buy three, buy a dozen, however many you want. It’s been a long time since I was even there, and when I saw it in Rouse’s, got it. I couldn’t wait to have it.

BF did not share my sentiments. So it was mine, all mine. I had it over a couple of days with whatever else was in the fridge for lunch.

This is what BF prefers. You would never put blueberry sausage in it unless you wanted to get your butt kicked:

Jambalya mix

BF’s “secret” to making jambalaya, adding a cup of plain white rice to the mix.

It’s good, but I do tend to get heartburn after eating it. This is readily available locally, along with a number of other rice mixes.

TJ’s In Baton Rouge

Now back to Trader Joe’s: I saw this culinary delight the other day. But when I texted a picture to BF, he said no:

Lobster ravioli packet

It’s not gluten-free, either.

But he was happy when I brought home some of these:

Fig and bluberry breakfast bars

He enjoyed the strawberry, but I brought something new for him.

Also saw these adorable things:

Tiger figs in clamshells

Cute, but I did not buy them. This time.

No picture, but I also found some Halloumi cheese, the grillable kind. BF was not happy to see that. It went into the big freezer. One day he won’t be home and I can enjoy it by myself.

And look what else I found:

Shishito peppers from Trader Joes

Can you believe it?

Can’t wait to cook these up. They really are delicious

A Word Of Advice

I want to pass on a bit of wisdom because I feel it’s necessary.

Always, always, remember to say “thank you,” whether it’s the grocery store stocker working extra hours to make sure supplies are on the shelf, the person who fills up your water glass in the restaurant, and even the garbage people, as we do when we catch them. Say it and mean it.

This I learned from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda many years ago, and I’ve tried to remember to say “thanks” whenever it is warranted. I thanked Dr. Hall as well as his wonderful staff when I was there. If it weren’t for them answering my questions on the phone, I would have kept looking.

This weekend I was reminded that although I did say it to a particular individual in our “circle,” I believe I didn’t say it enough. I did mention it to Aunt Ruth, and I will continue to tell others the same thing. But in this case, I wish I’d said “thank you” just one more time. I can’t say more, so I’ll leave it at that.

I periodically tell BF, “thank you for everything.” It’s why I bring him the little treats when I go to Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mandeville/Covington, or even Hammond. It’s my way of thanking him for letting me be me, and not minding when I go out for an SGI activity, or anywhere else. He doesn’t mind when I head out, and I always tell him where I’m going (primarily for safety reasons.) No reason for him to think I’m sneaking around because I’m really not.

I also try to remember to thank him when he comes home with an occasional surprise, like when someone gives them fresh veg or other things at work. I always ask if he remembered to thank the person who gave it to him. “Just say thank you,” I tell him.

I try to remember to thank people whether I’m in the local shops and restaurants, or on the phone with someone in another city or state. Why? It’s necessary and goes a long way.

Until Next Time

For a handful of reasons, October is my favorite time of the year. So I guess I’m trying to enjoy it at the same time.

I’m still planning the blog on the Instant Pot because it’s a big one. But because it’s a bigger article, it’s taking some time. Maybe by the time I publish, I’ll be in love with it like everyone else. It did perform admirably when I needed it to, but I used recipes I knew would work well.

Thank you to each of you who generously take the time to read my silly little blog, and keep coming back for more. I’ll be back again soon.

Enjoy! 

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