Sunday, May 20, 2012

First CSA Pick Up of 2012!

I love it when we pick up lovely, fresh, organic produce Sunday mornings.  There really aren’t many things in life that I enjoy more.  While I don’t like getting up at 6am to be at the market by 6:45am I do love chatting with the farmers and bringing home produce.  I know what you are thinking and I agree with you. I am not right.  LOL

This morning we picked up three bunches of kale (woo hoo), a head of red leaf lettuce (for lettuce cups), asparagus, 2 pounds of crimini mushrooms, a quart of strawberries, big beef tomatoes, carrots and….a tray of wheat grass to juice.  Pam (one of the owners of Calvert Farms) has figured out the secrets to growing wheat grass and I am thrilled. We are now on the list for a tray of “grass” every week. 

Breakfast part one was a bowl of Asian savory oats. I cooked the oats in mushroom stock, added “vegan oyster sauce which is mushroom based), garlic, onions, ginger and kale. The oats were finished with sesame seeds and ginger granules.  The picture above is from a prior bowl of Asian oats. However if you have seen one bowl of Asian oats you have seen them all. ;-)  Please remember that the act of thinly slicing the kale combines the myrosinase and glucosinolates making the kale more nutritious.  This is why I chop, shred or blend my cruciferous vegetables before I cook them. If you heat them before you disrupt the cell walls (by chopping, shredding or blending) they are less nutritious.  For more nutrition information on cruciferous vegetables check out this post.

As a breakfast chaser we had chocolate cherry kale smoothies.  These are made with kale, walnuts, frozen banana, frozen cherries, cinnamon, cocoa powder, stevia and a little water.  This is one of Dan’s favorite smoothies so he had most of the batch I made I had just a taste, maybe ¼ cup.  It is a very tasty smoothie but is a little on the sweet side for my taste.  By contrast my husband never met a sweet that he didn’t like.
Before we left the house I whipped up another batch of curried almond salad to take the boat for lunch.  However we got too busy and didn’t have it for lunch. Not to worry this salad actually gets better the longer it sits so I know Dan will enjoy it tomorrow for lunch, as will I.

Since we were up and moving early we arrived at the marina by 9am which was very nice.   I thought Dan was very funny this morning when he said, “so this is what the marina looks like in the morning” LOL.  He followed this up with I think I will sit in the cockpit of a few minutes and enjoy the morning before we go to the store.  We really aren’t morning people as I have told you many times.

After we unloaded all the stuff we had to tote to the boat we decided to walk to the grocery store for Cheerios (the ducks were getting low).  While we were there I picked up a watermelon and a three pack of shelf stable single serving organic soymilk boxes for my “just in case pantry”. 

However I also did a brief grocery store tour to see what was available at an average grocery store (Shoppers Food Warehouse) and was very surprised by a few things. They had a nice selection of organic produce as well as organic tofu. Additionally they had almost all the Bob’s Red Mill products, which I happen to love. There was a nice assortment of dried beans, the Eden Foods line as well as almond, rice and oat milk.  I was pleasantly surprised by how many items the store carried.  If your store doesn’t carry these types of items I would suggest that you go to customer service and ask for them.  This is what I did when Wegman’s was first open and they got them right in. The same thing was true of our local Giant and Whole Foods. I suspect other people did this at the Shoppers near the boat. Stores want to sell you stuff and keep you as happy customers. Never be afraid to ask for something that you want if they don’t have it.

When we left the grocery store we walked over the Starbucks where I treated myself to a large iced coffee with a splash of organic soymilk.  When you don’t drink coffee regularly it is really a treat to have it.  Also I couldn’t help but notice how sweet the coffee was with just soymilk.  I can definitely tell I have given up sugar.  ;-)

I justified my coffee consumption by telling myself that I can have an occasional treat otherwise this lifestyle would feel more like deprivation than something I do to stay healthy. Also I know that when you walk or run a mile you burn approximately 100 calories (depending on how big you are) so I can afford the splash of soymilk in my coffee since I know it was less than a cup (which is about 100 calories depending on the brand and how much sugar they have added).

Once we walked back to the marina we talked for a while and figured out what we were going to do today.  Dan ended up running to the boat store, hardware store and Costco. While he was away I cleaned the cushions outside which live outside in the cockpit.  If you leave cushions secured in place for years the bottom of them will become stained with mildew which has to be dealt with.   I bet you thought boat ownership was all fun and games … NOT.  ;-)

Lunch for us was beet, beet green, apple and lemon juice.  Neither of us was very hungry after our big breakfast so we decided to have something light and quick.

Later in the day Eric stopped by and then Lauren came down with her brother Brian who is in town from Alaska.   Lauren was so sweet, as always. She brought O’s for the grand-duck, raspberries for us and peanut butter dog biscuits for Bri.  There was a lot a bottle of sparkling white wine which we cracked into a little later.  We had a nice later afternoon and early evening on the boat with “the kids”.  The five of us hung out talking until early evening.  It is great to meet Lauren’s brother.   I think it is important to have friends of different ages to help give you a wider perspective on life.

While Eric, Lauren and Brian walked Bri, Dan and I juiced the wheat grass for later.  It really is nice to have the juicer on the boat. I am far more likely to juice at the marina than I am at home, probably because I am here more.  ;-)

It wasn’t until 8pm that Dan and I realized that we had not had dinner. I made us a quick Buddha bowl of sorts (this is my name for anything vegan in a bowl). This one contained hummus topped with pine nuts, broccoli and tomatoes (because they are more nutritious together) and a couple of grape leaves stuffed with veggies and rice.  Dan and I eat this combination often because it is quick, nutritious and we both like it a lot.
Isn’t this a nice view? This is a shot of the Morgan Stanley building across the water from the back of our boat. When we sit in the cockpit we look right at the building. Isn’t it great the way the light reflects off the building?  I took a couple of shots to show the building at various stages of the sunset.

It was definitely a great Sunday and a nice weekend overall.  Dan and I don’t really do anything out of the ordinary most days.  However we both enjoy spending time together, hanging out with friends and spending time outside preferably moving around.  One thing that cancer teaches you is that life is short and to enjoy it while you have it.  As we often say any day that you wake up is a good one. Make the most of it.

Happy thoughts:

  • It was another good day for us and as usual there are many things to be thankful for. 
  •  The farmers’ market was a lot of fun today.  I loved seeing the farmers and talking which doesn’t surprise many of you I am sure.  It is so comforting to me to know the people who grow a lot of our food and to know they are as concerned with its healthfulness as we are.  It is also nice to get hugs and talk to people.
  •  As Dan and I were talking to the store to buy Cheerios for the ducks we were talking about how nice it is to do that.  We have noticed that most people at our marina drive to the store for some reason. We are both happy that we enjoy the physical activity of walking to take care of our errands.  Who said that?  LOL
  • I thoroughly enjoyed my iced coffee today which was a treat.  Who would have thought something as simple as an iced coffee with soymilk could turn into an indulgence?  I feel like we have turned a corner in terms of health when we can order these occasionally rather than feeling like we need to have one every day.
  • The weather was beautiful in Baltimore again today.  It is very nice of Mother Nature to give us an entire weekend of nice weather. She can do that each weekend and not hurt my feelings.
  • We had a great time chatting with Eric, Lauren and Brian this afternoon. Our boat neighbor Rubin is back from Boston which is also nice.  We are very fortunate to have a nice group of people in our lives.
  • Dan picked up the parts required to mount the grill on the back rail for me sometime soon. With summer veggies starting to come in I am looking forward to grilled veggies and tofu.  Why should omnivores have all the fun grilling?  I have almost finalized a grilled BBQ mushroom recipe that I hope to be making on the boat soon.  The marinate contains balsamic vinegar, vegan Worcestershire, liquid smoke and traditional BBQ sauce ingredients.  I think the same marinate will be good on other veggies so I would like to try that out soon.  It sounds good doesn’t it?

Signing out:

As usual it is much later than it should be and we are still awake and not even close to turning in.  It is no wonder that we aren’t good in the mornings.  ;-)

Monday I have a lot of things to take care of which will take up a big chunk of my day. I plan to find time to blog.  *fingers crossed*  Tuesday I have quite a few coaching phone calls which will take up most of my day.  With a little luck my schedule will be a little more open on Wednesday.  I hope your next couple of days are a little lighter than mine. I will talk with you again soon, hopefully tomorrow.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Beautiful Saturday in May – Preakness Saturday

The weather today was nothing short of amazing.  When the temperature is in the low 80s with a gentle breeze blowing there is nothing more I would ask for.  Even though we got home at midnight last night (see what I mean about us not being morning people?) we managed to get moving as soon as the alarm went off at 8am.  We knew the Preakness was today and that meant crazy traffic so we wanted to waste no time getting downtown to the marina.  While most people wouldn’t walk to Pimlico (the track where the Preakness is run) from our house it would be an easy walk, probably 2 or 2.5 miles from us.  However that also means that we see the increase in traffic at our place so it makes sense to get out early if you are leaving.

Breakfast for us was a bowl of savory oatmeal, this time flavored with curry that included very lightly cooked broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes. Don’t forget it is always good to have broccoli and tomatoes since the sulforaphane and lycopene are better absorbed in the presence of the other. Also whenever you use curry (which includes turmeric) be generous with the black pepper since that enhances the absorption of the curcumin in the turmeric.  The photo above is a different bowl of savory oatmeal since I was rushed this morning and didn’t take a photo.

After breakfast we headed for the boat to avoid as much Preakness traffic as possible.

Eric and I both wanted to check out the opening day of farmers’ market at the Baltimore Museum of Industry which is a very short walk from the marina. Dan stayed on the boat and fed mama and baby duck while Eric and I went foraging for produce. I bought local strawberries, apples, beets and tomatoes.  Since I have lemons and my juicer on the boat I decided a little beet, beet green, apple and lemon juice would be delicious.  We both love strawberries with balsamic and black pepper which is why I bought the berries.  J

The little baby duck seems to be growing an inch a day. I am very surprised by the rate at which the little guy is growing.  Yesterday he looked like a baby and today he is more of toddler.  The baby duck has stolen my heart. He/she is absolutely precious.  I am sorry that you can’t see the little one in person.  He comes right to the back of our boat with his momma to be fed.  SO cute!

While the weather was gorgeous it definitely called for iced green tea. This is the pitcher with matcha and regular green tea with orange, lemon and lime slices.  We both really enjoy this beverage.  If you like green tea this stuff is good. Don’t forget to brew your green tea for 10 minutes to extract the maximum amount of EGCG and that vitamin C (fresh citrus) enhances your absorption of the EGCG.

Lunch for us was curried almond salad in lettuce cups with apple slices. I took a picture of the bowl of ingredients and the second is a formed lettuce cup.  I will make this salad again soon so I can measure things and tell you how to make it.  I use a raw cashew crème with lemon and garlic in place of the mayo which works perfectly.  This recipe is ridiculously simple and quick other than soaking the nuts which happens overnight in the refrigerator.

After lunch I turned beets, beet greens, apple and lemon into juice and dropped that down into the cooler to chill for later.  Did I remember to tell you that the juicer is on the boat too now?  I brought it down to show one of the guys at the marina.  It is a long story that I will tell you more about later but it has a great ending.  Two guys lost 32 pounds total in 2 weeks (one lost 20 in 2 weeks and the other 12 in 10 days).  Impressive right?  I love a good success story, or two in this case.  ;-)

In addition to relaxing at the marina we took one of the dogs (Peyton) for a walk since his human mom and dad were at the Preakness.  For those of you who haven’t been to the Preakness you aren’t missing anything in my opinion. I went to the Preakness 3 decades ago when I was in college and it was nothing more than a drunk fest which was too much for me even way back then. Somehow seeing drunken college kids passed out or throwing up has never been my idea of a good time. Call me crazy.  ;-)  I doubt this event would be more appealing to me now at 50.

Today there was also a more boat cleaning, polishing and waxing.  For those of you who don’t know when you own a boat there is a lot of cleaning, polishing and waxing.  It seems to be a never ending project in fact. We talked about hiring someone to do it but we both decided that was ridiculous. Why pay someone to do the manual labor and then spend more time in the gym.  Hence we opted to take care of the maintenance ourselves.

Speaking of the boat I wanted to relay something that I recently noticed.  The one thing that I don’t love about having a boat is the classic “boat smell” which is reminiscent of a wet dog.  In other words not good. To combat this “eau du wet dog” I have been burning multiple (either two or three) highly scented candles every time I was on the boat.  The candle aroma has been wonderful for the boat which actually now smells good and the not the least like a wet dog.  However there are a few negatives of burning candles.  In the cooler weather when the boat was closed up my air quality monitor would move into the unhealthy range in under 30 minutes after I arrived and had two or three candles going which I found to be a little disconcerting. Second I noticed today that the candle soot was much more extensive than I expected it to be.  I spent today wiping down the ceiling in the boat to remove the film of candle soot.

Fortunately I was over at Eric’s boat about a month ago and noticed a candle warmer that he had. It looks like a coffee or tea warmer but holds a jar candle. He picked me up two of them a couple of weeks ago I have been using them. Now I have the candle aroma but none of the candle soot or the deterioration in air quality.  I was happy with this solution so I wanted to pass it along. 

Our friend Eric had a work function to attend this afternoon and evening so I took Bri for a nice walk to get her exercise.  Can you tell I have somehow turned into the neighborhood dog walker?  LOL, I guess that is what happens when you are one of the few people who volunteers for physical activity. 

We had such a late lunch today I almost thought we were going to skip dinner but I knew that wouldn’t be good.  We decided to have the strawberries and tomatoes which I bought this morning and a big glass of fresh juice.  Not the most traditional dinner but we enjoyed it.

Huge Thank Yous:

Those of you who offered to look at the website have been extremely helpful.  I have gotten some incredible feedback for which I am very grateful.  Your suggestions have exceeded by expectations. That was the good side. The other side is that now I have more that I want to do on the site.  Since the round one review went well I think I am going to do a second round once I incorporate the suggestions from round one. I know that two of you offered to help a day or two ago and I hope that you will be available for the round two review. Thank you again too everyone who has helped and/or offered to help.  Your generosity is a bit overwhelming, but in a good way.

Happy thoughts:

  • Saturday was another great day.  As always there are so many things to be thankful for when you take the time to notice.
  •  It was nice of Mother Nature to give us a gorgeous Saturday weather wise. I don’t know that we could have had better weather for mid-May in the Mid-Atlantic.
  • The grand-duck is growing up nicely.  I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying watching him/her grow up.  Baby animals are the cutest things!
  •  I enjoyed the farmers’ market at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.  However I have to admit that my favorite part is that it is a short walk from the boat.  No doubt I will be back on a regular basis to buy produce for the boat on Saturday before our big trip on Sunday to pick up our CSA stash.
  • Both pups (Peyton and Bri) were very sweet today.  Additionally it was nice to get out for a two walks today with the dogs.  Apparently you don’t actually need your own dog to get more exercise just borrow other peoples.  ;-)
  •  We are actually making headway on the boat in terms of cleaning, and waxing.  It will definitely be a few month weeks before we have done everything above the gunwale but that is okay.  Slow and steady wins the race right?  Dan and I were kidding with each other that just about the time we get everything waxed it will be time to go back and start again, which is closer to true than either of us want to admit. I might have to add boat cleaning and waxing into my weekly calendar.  Who decided we should do the maintenance ourselves? Oh yeah, that was us.  LOL
Signing out:

Tomorrow starts bright and early, 6:00am to be exact.  That means that we need to shut down at the marina and get home sooner than we normally would.  It is a little sad to leave the marina early but I am sure we will get used to it.  ;-)

I hope you had a great Saturday and I will talk to you again tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The End of the Birthday Celebrating Plus Happy Friday

 Some days when I sit down to write for the blog or website my mind is a blank slate. This would be perfect if I were meditating but it isn’t terribly useful when I need to be creative and write.  Since my schedule has become crazy recently I have put myself on a strict calendar that tells me when I am working on the blog, the website, my eBook, exercising, cooking, etc. The problem is that I find it difficult to schedule productivity.  Maybe some people can schedule productivity but I can’t do that yet.  The solution I came up with is that I need to work on something on my to-do above if my calendar says it is time to “work”. So far that is working okay.  However it isn’t perfect. If any of you have any suggestions regarding this “problem” I would love to hear them.

Last night at 8pm we decided to go out to dinner. Nothing like waiting until the last minute is there?  ;-)  We decided to go to see Ian and gang and asked Eric if he wanted to join us since he had not had Ian’s food yet.  I am sure it is a bit overwhelming to go out to eat with us since we know everyone and I got many birthday wishes and hugs.  Our friend Louis says going out with us is like being in “Hello Dolly” and Eric agreed.  I am sharing this to give you a better feel of the atmosphere of the evening.

Since it was my birthday we decided to order a bottle of wine and Alan (one of the owners) happen to have a bottle of Brunello (my favorite Italian wine) hidden away for us.  Oh my was this wine delicious!  Eric also agreed and now I am worried that we have spoiled his wine palate for life.  Once I had Brunello that was my new expectation and I saw Eric’s face light up the same way. Sorry Eric!  If I read your reaction correctly your wine budget will need to be increased significantly going forward.  ;-)

The wine last night was the main event for me since it had been so long since I had a bottle of Brunello.  Dinner was simple but delicious, we had Ian’s marinated mushrooms which you all know I love, his roasted cauliflower over tomatoes, golden raisins and pine nuts and a small vegan pizza with red sauce, roasted veggies, topped with lemon dressed arugula and pine nuts.  We are so lucky to have a place around the corner where we can get delicious vegan food.  Sorry that I didn’t take any pictures it was late, the lighting wasn’t good and I was busy talking.  No one ever accused me of being shy or quiet.  I have included two photos of the very similar dishes that Ian has made for us in the past.

We ended up getting home at 11pm knowing that Dan needed to be on the 6:45am train to DC for work.  I felt so guilty that he didn’t get enough sleep last night because of my birthday.

The final birthday present of the day was from my buddy Louis who totally gets me.  We came home to find a box from Earthy Delights which contained a fiddle head ferns, fresh morel mushrooms and black garlic. See what I mean about Louis gets me?  I love, love, love fiddle head ferns and Dan feels the same way about fresh morels. Having a pound of black garlic to play with will be great fun.  Louis you did it again.  Thanks sweetie!  The picture above is fiddle heads, morels and ramps from a prior year. I sure do love fiddle head ferns which remind me of asparagus in flavor and texture.  :-)

Friday morning we were up bright at early, 5:15am to be specific which is far too early for non-morning people like us.  Dan had two big glasses of green smoothie before he ran out the door to catch the train.  Fortunately he made it to the train station at 6:37, just in time.  Dan was in DC all day but made it to the marina this evening by 6:30pm.

In addition to waking up far too early this morning I also have a little bit of wine headache today.  My body is clearly not used to my consuming wine like it used to be.  Splitting a bottle of wine with two other people would have never given me a head ache in the past.  It is funny how much things have changed in my life.  However I am not complaining since I know that I am much healthier living this way.  But I can’t deny that the Brunello was delicious last night.  ;-)  That treat was worth the slight headache I had this morning.

The one good thing about getting up uber early is that I was able to be productive much sooner.  By 8am I had posted something to my other site, exercised, had soaked in a hot bath, texted with my morning friends and sent a few emails.  Not bad since normally I wouldn’t have done any of that by 8am.  You do know that I don’t like mornings right?  ;-)  Yesterday as I we were driving to Hopkins I was texting with Lauren (Dan was driving) and mentioned that mornings should start later. That comment was partly to be funny but also partly true.  I don’t usually really get “going” until 10am.  Mornings are definitely not my thing.

After a hectic morning I was able to get a little much needed downtime to relax.  I chatted with Lauren (who Dan affectionately refers to as Mini Me) during which we solved all the health problems of the world in case you were curious LOL.  The photo above is from the first trip of the season this year.  If you don’t have a friend with the same health values as you I hope you find one.  It is difficult to explain how great it is to have someone who I can bounce things off of besides my husband.  It is also great to have someone just “get me”.  I hope to be able to develop the same type of network of health minded people on the new site so that all of you can connect with other people with the same values.  I am sure you are getting tired of me saying that we are all better together than we are alone but I really believe it.  Together we can move mountains if we want to.

I found out this afternoon that our new sailing friend Eric (the human father of Bri) may be moving to the slip directly behind us. This would be amazing and a lot of fun. Dan and I both enjoy chatting with Eric (who likes tech stuff which makes Dan’s day) and all of us (Lauren included) love Bri.  She is the most adorable dog and so friendly.  Send good thoughts this way that the people who have the deposit on the slip behind us actually back out, which is the rumor, so that Eric can move in.  ;-)  Eric took the photo of Bri above with the new camera.  I will definitely be getting some shots of her soon to share.

Lunch for me was very simple; I had leftover curried red lentil and tomato soup and some hummus and broccoli.  Dan was going to try to have lunch at Busboys and Poets in DC but that didn’t work out.  Hopefully that will work out another time he is in DC.  If you have been to Busboys and Poets I would love to hear your ordering suggestions.

Dinner on the boat was … green smoothies and a bowl of watermelon.  We are really predictable aren’t we?  ;-)  Have I mentioned how great it is have a Vitamix on the boat?  Why was I being cheap last season and not getting a second Vitamix?  Will I never learn that having access to a high powered blender is not a luxury but a requirement?  I use mine so much that I am lost without it.  The photo above is an old shot of a green smoothie on the boat because I was being lazy.

I have been making a very simple green tea on the boat that is really tasty.   I brew matcha green and regular green tea and then chill it. To the cold tea I add slices of orange, lemon and lime. It has a complex citrus flavor that we both enjoy.  In addition to adding nice flavor the vitamin C in the citrus helps you to absorb more EGCG in the tea.  Hello, win-win am I right?

Happy thoughts:
  • It was another really nice day in spite of the noticeable lack of good quality sleep last night.  Here are my happy thoughts:
  •  My 50th birthday was a non-event which made me very happy. I was dreading this birthday and it was fine, no stress.  Love that!
  •  It is wonderful to have Lauren in our life.  There are days when I don’t know what I would do without her.  It is so great to have someone who just “gets you.” 
  •  I had a nice talk with Lisa (at the marina) where we talked about a show she watched recently on health that focused on fatty liver disease that has her and her boyfriend rethinking their dietary habits.   Now I will be sharing some DVDs with her as well.  When she was telling me about the show she said that she immediately thought of me.  Gee, I wonder why?  ;-)  Can you tell how much I love talking about health?  LOL
  •  I stumbled upon a very cute video of teachers pranking students which made us smile so I wanted to pass it along.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  J
  •  I found time today to get in some much needed activity which was nice given the amount of time I spent exercising only my jaw muscles (talking).  I am not sure if any of you do this but I wanted to share in case the idea is new to you.  When I am doing anything sedentary like talking on the phone (which can consume hours of my day) I make certain to add activity to the conversation.  I do this a number of ways but here are some ideas you might want to try.  1)  Get up and walk around if you are on a cordless phone. This is very easy to do and doesn’t make a lot of noise to distract people on the other end. 2)  Do something like squats or lunges which are also quiet but work your largest muscle group your legs.  3) If you are using a hands free device or you are watching a DVD do some arm exercises (pushups, curls, etc.).  The idea is to take the opportunity to move in whatever way works for the situation. These little things add up to burn calories.
  • Both Dan and I are excited by the prospect of having Eric in the slip behind us.  That will definitely mean more walks for Bri and me.  I hesitate to say that I walk Bri because it is really more like Bri walks me. However we both enjoy it so does it really matter who is in charge? ;-)
  •  I have been reading a good book on Buddhism in my spare time.  This one is called “Buddha Is as Buddha Does” by Lama Surya Das. If you are at all interested in Buddhism (which I find fascinating) see if your library has the book.  The book is very thorough though a little bit of a tough read.  However I find reading it to be very calming and it helps me to be more introspective which I think is wonderful.  I will try to find time to review this book formally before it goes back to the library.
  • The farmers’ market near the marina opens this weekend which is exciting. I am anxious to see how much organic produce is there.  J  Also Sunday is the first pick up for the summer CSA with Calvert Farms (the organic CSA we belong to).  Can you tell there will be lots of kale in our weekend?  ;-)

Signing out:

Sorry this post is going up very late in the evening. I was very busy chatting away most of the time I was at the marina.  I enjoy being around people and love to talk with people and share information.  Lisa made my day when she told me about the health show she watched and how it impacted her family and that she was open to learning more.  There really is nothing better than making connections with people is there?  Imagine what an impact we could make if we shared the benefits of a healthy lifestyle with everyone around us.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

An Unusual Birthday But a Good One

We started our morning very early (too early for me) with an 8am appointment with the new medical oncologist.  Dan and the new oncologist are bonding nicely which meant that they both had fun picking on me this morning. Great, I am outnumbered again just like with the last oncologist.  The doctor did say that Dan and I should do stand-up comedy because we are very funny. I assume this is because I was half asleep but then again you never know.  ;-)

I took this picture when we were leaving the first appointment because it always makes me smile. This is the baby grand piano in the atrium of the cancer center at Johns Hopkins. When we arrived this morning someone was playing the piano.  I know it sounds silly but having music at the hospital is definitely comforting.

One thing that always strikes me when we are at the cancer center at Hopkins is how sick everyone else seems to be.  Many of the patients are wearing masks to keep from being exposed to “any germs”.  Additionally lots of the patients can’t walk or they have no hair.  I saw one woman today pushing an IV pole whose wounds absolutely broke my heart. She was definitely younger than me, possibly by a decade, and she had big round black spots on her legs that looked to me like dead skin. I assume this was from targeted radiation therapy but I didn’t ask.  I am telling you all of this because I realize that not many people get to see what I see in regard to the impact cancer has on people. 

Please, if you are on the fence about changing your diet don’t wait!  Pounding down nutrition in the form of vegetables and green smoothies can only help by providing your body with the raw materials that it needs to fight disease. I hear people say all the time that “being vegan is extreme” and I would disagree.  Eating vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, nuts and whole grains is normal.  Getting surgery, taking drugs and getting chemo or radiation is extreme.   Modern medicine definitely has a place in the world and I am not saying you should avoid it.  However there is nothing to be afraid of by adding natural foods to your diet. I am not saying that Dan is doing as well as he is completely due to good nutrition but I know that it definitely plays a role.  As you probably know I am very passionate about this and much of that is due to what I see.  I only hope that some of you are listening and moving closer toward eating a whole-food plant-based diet.

Okay on to brighter stories since cancer is not exactly upbeat and perky birthday talk.  You did realize that my hubby likes technology right?  ;-)  I think we have settled on the specific new cell phones but Dan will make the final call since I am not exactly technology girl (a serious understatement).  One of the phones I tested this afternoon takes panoramic pictures which I think will be very useful.   Okay I should say it will be really fun if I were being honest.  Let’s hope that particular phone turns out to be the winner (hint, hint …if you are reading this Dan).

Once we left the cell phone store we stopped for Indian food in Towson at The Kathmandu restaurant. We explained that we were vegan and they had no difficulty modifying the dishes for us.  Nice!  Here is what we had:

Dan “had to” order the vegetable samosas which he loves.  The pastry around the spicy potato and pea filling was so thin and tender. Seriously, the crust was the best I have had outside of India!  Really, really good!  If you are local you should check it out.  I am sure that you won't be disappointed they were delicious.

Then we ordered the vegetable jalfrezi and whole wheat flat bread stuffed with potatoes and peas.  Both were very good but the samosas literally stole the show.

We spent the afternoon at the boat. Where else would you expect us to be?  Dan had to be on a conference call and I spent that time visiting the nice people in the marina office and feeding my duck-daughter and grand-duck.   Yes I did say singular grand-duck. Sadly there is only one little baby left which upsets me. However I am trying to focus on the positive side of things and the one remaining baby is very lively and adorable.

In addition to taking the day off to hang out with me and taking me to lunch Dan also bought me something that I have been hinting around about literally for months.  I really wanted to upgrade my camera and Dan got me a new camera. Woo hoo!  I am not the proud owner of a Canon 60D.  Everyone needs an 18 megapixel camera don’t they?  I realize that this is not actually a need but really more of a want.  However I really wanted it!  ;-)  I am very excited to have a new fancy camera, now I just need to figure out how to use it.  Somehow I will manage to find time to play around with my new camera soon.

Happy Thoughts:

Thursday has been a good one which means that I have many things to be thankful for and some of them are the following:

  • Yesterday was a gorgeous day.  It started off hot but cooled down in the evening and resulted in beautiful views.  I never get tired of the scenery at the boat, as you have probably noticed. ;-)
  • Today I was reminded how important it is to be thankful.  Spending time at Hopkins is always humbling and reminds me that our situation is vastly better than most people.  I only wish that everyone understood that there are actions that they can take to help themselves.  Maybe one day more people will realize the power of good nutrition. Until then I will continue to spread the word.
  • I am thrilled to have my husband take the day off to spend with me.  He never makes a big deal about his birthday but he knows that it is important to me so he makes a fuss about mine. Dan is a good hubby; I think I will keep him.  ;-)
  • I love the camera that Dan bought me for my birthday present.  Wow, this is a very powerful camera and I can’t wait to use it.  *happy dance*
  • The weather has been gorgeous for my birthday. Thank you Mother Nature!  We have had beautiful blue skies and moderate temperatures (mid-70s).  Definitely nice birthday weather if you ask me.
  • Later today we are going to go for a nice walk along the harbor and get in a bit more exercise since we were up and out of the house so early this morning we need to move around more. Besides we definitely have a big Indian lunch to burn off. ;-)
Signing off:

Dan is off his conference call, my webinar is over and the ducks are fed so it I time for me to get off the computer and spend some time with my hubby.  I hope you are having a wonderful Thursday.  Talk with you again tomorrow.  J

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Homemade Fabric Softener is Healthier

Why would anyone want to switch to homemade fabric softener?  The answer to that question is both simple and disturbing.   The fresh smelling fabric softener that we all grew up with is unfortunately not good for our health.  In fact it is known to contain carcinogens (chemicals that cause cancer) and other chemicals which are not good for us or the planet.  Why don’t we all know this?  Great question and I have no idea why this information isn’t more wide-spread but it should be!

For those of you who like details I will share some specifics on the problems with fabric softeners before I tell you how you can avoid them completely and still have soft clothes.  Commercial fabric softeners generally contain the following chemicals:
  •  Benzyl acetate
  • Limonene
  • Linalool
  • Phenol
  •  Phosphoric acid

Unless you have chemistry degree this list probably means little to you.  However with a little research you will find that these chemicals are respiratory and skin irritants, suspected carcinogens and a narcotic linked to central nervous system disorders.  That little fluffy teddy bear on the bottle doesn’t tell you any of that does he?  *tsk tsk*

Okay now we all know it is best to avoid fabric softener but how do you rinse the soap out of your clothes?  You did know that the soap residue is the biggest reason that your clothes are stiff right?  Well I didn’t know that either until I did some research but now we all know.  ;-)

There are three things which I have tried to soften my clothes without adding a commercial fabric softener and they all gave similar results.  Try them all and see which one you like.
  1. Dissolve 2 tablespoon of baking soda in 1 cup of boiling water and add it to the rinse cycle.  I combine them in a small jar so I can shake it before adding it to the machine. This is very easy and makes the water much softer which is why it works I believe. I find this to be easy and quick and the method that I use most often.
  2.  Add between 2 tablespoons and ¼ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. This also works though I swear that I can smell a little vinegar on my clothes later. Dan can’t smell anything so it is probably all in my head but I wanted to toss that out in case it isn’t just me.
  3. The third idea is the most complicated and it is still very easy. In a jar combine 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar. When you add the vinegar the baking soda will foam, it is supposed to do that don’t be alarmed. When the foaming stops add boiling water (about 1 cup) and a couple drops of essential oil and shake to combine. Add this to the rinse cycle.  The essential oil adds fragrance and many of them are also antibacterial which is nice.  I like lavender but Dan prefers tea tree oil or bergamot.

There were other ideas that I came across which I didn’t try but the one that I want to try is dryer balls.  However the only ones I saw were rubber and I was concerned about the fumes they would give off in a hot dryer so I didn’t try this. Do you know of any non-toxic dryer balls other than the wool ones which obviously aren’t vegan?  If so please share.  Thanks!

If you are having problems with static cling the natural advice is two-fold.  First the experts say that natural fibers (cotton, linen, etc.) are much less likely to have a static cling problem and from my experience that is true.  Second the expects say adding baking soda to the wash helps to reduce static.  If you have any additional ideas on reducing static cling please share.  J

Thank You for Your Generosity!

First I want to say thank you to all of you who were so gracious with your time to review my second site for me. I was blown away by your generosity.  Also you guys gave me some great ideas and noticed things that had not occurred to me.  I may not have mentioned this before but the new site is still a little rough. I need to print it out and check for typos, change photos and I want to add a little more content. However I am definitely making progress and that makes me happy.  Who knew that I would be so busy working that I wouldn’t have time to devote to the website?  LOL

87 Degrees in mid-May?

Mother Nature is all messed up this year isn’t she?  Needing the air conditioning this early in the season is just wrong in my opinion.  As you may recall I don’t like to turn on the AC as I am all about the fresh air and having the windows open. However last night I had to make an exception and turn on the AC since our overnight low was expected to be 70 and humid, not exactly good sleeping weather. Today the weather is hot and humid with a threat of a heat induced afternoon thunderstorm. It is definitely more like summer than spring in Baltimore today.

Tomorrow is the Big Day…the Big 50 Day to be Exact:

Yikes this time tomorrow I will be officially the big 50.  I have been dreading this day or so long and now it feels a bit anticlimactic.  Who knew 50 would come in with a whimper?  Any of you ladies who are already 50 please feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.  If you have any advice I would love to hear it.
By the way, turning 50 doesn’t mean that I am cutting my hair.  I resisted the pressure at 40 to go to short hair and I don’t feel any need to do it now at 50 either.  However I may rethink my position when the gray is more prominent (it is only about 5% of the total currently) but for now I am keeping my long tresses. It took me years to grow this hair and I am not letting go of it that easily.  ;-)

On a related note if any of use henna to dye your hair I would love to hear from you.  I will no longer use commercial dye since I realized that eating organic food and putting chemicals on my head made no sense. However I am not opposed to henna but I don’t know anything about it.  I would love to hear your thoughts on how effective it is in covering gray hair and how long it lasts. Also if you have a favorite brands or other information to pass along I am all ears.

We have appointments tomorrow, a webinar and conference call but at least we will be spending the day together which will be nice.  If the weather people are right we should be enjoying cooler temperatures as well which will be nice.  *fingers crossed*

Happy thoughts:

Life has been hectic lately but it has also had many bright spots.  Here are some of my happy thoughts today:
  •          We “found” a little Indian/Nepalese/Tibetan restaurant within walking distance of the boat.  They have quite a few vegan items on the menu which we love. Dan and I have been in there so many times now that they know we are vegan and make modifications for us.  For those of you in Baltimore the restaurant is named Kumari and is located off Fort Avenue in south Baltimore.  For those of you who like wine this place is BYOB (no liquor license) which saves you some cash.  If you see us there stop by and say hello.  J
  •          This morning I had savory oatmeal for breakfast with nutritional yeast, turmeric, black pepper, no salt, garlic, broccoli and tomatoes and it was delicious. I am very thankful that Courtney shared the concept of savory oatmeal with me.  In my opinion there are few things that are better than veggies for breakfast.  ;-)
  •          Dan and I finally made a trip to the Harris Teeter (grocery store) off of Key Highway that is near the boat. It is also an easy walk and while I don’t love it as much as Wegman’s or Whole Foods it is a nice store.  I will definitely be walking there often to replenish the boat food inventory.
  •          Two weeks ago I indulged and had an iced coffee from Starbucks with soymilk when I was in Richmond.  Wow was that coffee delicious. I can still almost taste it.  I was very pleased to see that Starbucks soymilk is organic and hope that is standard location-wide.  It has been so long since I used sweetener that the iced coffee almost tasted sweet like a candy bar to me.  My how my taste buds have changed. LOL
  •          It occurred to me yesterday that my life has done a 360 from where it was less than 10 years ago.  Today I think nothing of walking 5 miles, carrying 42 pound bags of cat litter up stairs and doing any sort of physical activity.  If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be healthier and more fit at 50 than I was at 40 I would have thought you were crazy and now I am living it.  If you are starting to feel the physical decline of aging please know that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can definitely improve your physical condition and health and it happens much more rapidly than you think.  If you have any questions for me about how I made it happen just ask.   I hope you know by now that I am happy to help. 
  •          I am looking forward to spending my birthday tomorrow with my sweetie.  He was kind enough to take the day off to hang out with me.  Dan does have to call into to one conference call but that is fine given that I get to be with him all day.  Other than errands I am not sure what we will be doing but you know that we will have fun.

Signing out:

Today (Wednesday) I had a number of to-do items to knock out.  I checked on my parents and ran errands for them, attended a webinar, studied, worked on my website, and wrote more of my e-book for my first group program. I had to figure out what we are having for dinner and make that.  At the moment I am at the boat sipping iced tea and relaxing and feeding the grand-ducks until I need to get back to work.   I am planning to rearrange all the lockers (boat talk for cabinets) on the boat to make it easier to stow things when we want to go sailing.  Other than that I don’t have anything to on my to-do list. ;-)

I hope your day is a little more relaxed than mine.  If it is please relax enough for both of us.  J Talk with you again soon, hopefully tomorrow.  I am not sure what my hubby has planned for me to tomorrow so you may not hear from me until Friday but I will try to post something tomorrow even if it short.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Sabbatical ... Sort of

First I want to say thank you to all of you who sent me emails to reach out and make sure that both Dan and I are okay.  I am very, very sorry that I didn’t have the time to respond yet.  I hope to find time in the future to respond to all of you who were so kind to spend your time to check on us.  Your thoughtful messages meant a lot to me. 

Needless to say my life has been out of control busy for the last few months.  It seems like every day something else gets added to my already bulging to-do list.  *sigh*  Since you know I don’t like to focus on what is wrong I am going to skim over the bad things and focus instead on the positive.

We have had the most wonderful weather this spring.  There have been quite a few days in the upper 80s already this year which is unbelievable.  The sailboat is officially “unwinterized” and she has already been out a few times which were fantastic! 

Our first trip of the season was with our new friend Lauren.  You remember Lauren we met her are Johns Hopkins during our unplanned visit this January. Lauren is quickly becoming an unofficial member of the family.  We have seen her on average once a week since we met in January.  It is wonderful to have a local health conscious friend who I can share healthy recipes, books, videos and articles with and hear her thoughts.   Lauren has also been kind enough to offer to be a recipe taste tester for me.  By the way, the new curried almond salad with cashew mayo recipe (no oil of course) was very well received.  Now I need to measure the ingredients since the concept worked.  This will be making regular appearances on the boat this summer, it is that good.

Also on the very positive news front  “my duck” (the one who eats Cheerios and catches them in the air) had babies.  As Dan said I am proud “grandmother”  LOL.  My duck brought her little ones over to meet me the day they were born.  I couldn’t be more thrilled if I were an actual grandmother.  ;-)  Aren’t they just the cutest little things?  They are the sweetest little chirpy fluff balls.  J  Since I am sure some of you are curious the little ones are already eating Cheerios.  I need to do some research and figure out what I should be feeding my ducks so that they are as healthy as possible.

What has gotten in the way of writing entries for the blog?  There have been so many things that I really don’t know where to start.  First there was a series of computer problems that resulted in three dead laptops in the span of a few days.  Dan was able to reformat one of them and resurrect it but the other two are permanently gone.  We bought another ultrabook and are now back to two laptops thank goodness.  After the laptop debacle of 2012 I don’t go anywhere near Dan’s desktop in his home office. All I need is to crash that too. I used to joke that I have the black thumb of death with plants but now I think the same thing is true with computers.  ;-)

Additionally I have been much busier than I anticipated with school (both the Immersion program at IIN and the Robbins-Madanes program).  Also my health coaching business is taking off and that too is taking up a lot more time than I expected.  However I will say that I am still thrilled each time someone has an “ah –ha moment”.  I can honestly say that I will never get tired of helping people reverse unhealthy trends and get on a better path.

Part of ramping up the business meant that I needed to stop fiddling around and square away my second website which I have been working on “in my spare time”, what little of that there has been over the last few months.  I am reasonably happy with my new site.  However I would love to get a little more feedback before I open it up to everyone.  If you have time to look at the site and give me feedback please let me know by sending an email to with “new site review” in the header and I will send you link.  Thank you in advance for taking the time to consider whether you have time to help me out or not. 

As you can tell I went from a woman of leisure to running flat out, rather zero to sixty in a lot of respects. I knew that I would be busy but never anticipated that I would be this busy.  However I am not complaining things are working out well so it’s all good.  There is a lot more going on but I have to save some of it for future posts so I don’t run out of things to write about.  ;-)

What have you been up to this spring? Is there anything fun going on in your life? Any new tips or tricks to staying healthy that you would like to share with others?  As I am very fond of saying we are stronger together than we are alone.

Happy thoughts:

Since it has been a while since I have written my happy thoughts I will need to get back into the habit of doing this.  J

  • Two weeks ago I got to spend a weekday with my husband when he had a trip to Richmond for work. I rode along to keep him company and we talked the 3 hours down and back which made us both happy. We had lunch at our favorite veg restaurant and I got more recipe ideas. I will tell you more about this later.
  •  I bought a new Vitamix for home and now I have my old Vitamix on the boat.  *happy dance*  I love having a Vitamix on the boat.  Now we can have green smoothies anytime and anywhere.  Could life get any better?  Well maybe it could get better.  One of the guys (Eric, who you will be hearing more about in upcoming posts) at the marina saw my Vitamix in action and he bought one too.  I am spreading the Vitamix love everywhere I go.  I really should be on their payroll.  LOL
  •  Recently I have been testing homemade fabric softeners because I dislike the idea of using the chemical stuff with its carcinogens and that has been going really well.  This is something else that I need to share with you in an upcoming post.  If you don’t see this in a few weeks and are interesting be sure to remind me to tell you about it.
  •  I have been reading a lot of books on Buddhism in my free time and I must say the more I learn the more it draws me in.  If any of you have any book suggestions let me know I would love to know what you would recommend. I will tell you about the specific books I have been enjoying in a future post.
  • Dan and I went to a fun little Italian movie at The Charles last week called " The Salt of Life” that was cute.  It was shot in Rome and made us both miss Italy since we adore Rome.  We may need to take a little trip sometime this year to satisfy our craving for living on Italian time.  Any of you who have been fortunate enough to go to Italy know exactly what I mean. 
  • As crazy as this will sound I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am going to be 50 years old later this week.  Wow, I can’t believe that I said that out loud LOL.  I now realize that since I don’t look my age I really need to wear 50 proudly.  ;-)  This has really been huge for me since I have been dreading turning 50 for the last 3 years. Yes I actually started worrying about it when I was 47.  No vanity here…… LOL
  •  I am also very thankful for every day that I get to spend with my wonderful husband. We both appreciate every moment we have.  One thing that cancer has taught me is that life is short so enjoy it now since none of us know how long we have.  Buddhism reminds me that the only moment any of us has is now and to live fully in this moment.

Signing out:

I have a client to coach later today and then I need to do fun things like finish doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen since I actually cooked today.  I hope you are having a wonderful day.  It is my plan to get back to daily posting though my posts will probably be shorter than they have in the past.  In a few weeks I will be sharing the second site with all of you and that is where I will be writing more about health with this blog reserved for my recipes and daily musings.

Talk with you all again soon which I hope means tomorrow.  J
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