Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Archive for the month “October, 2011”

Get Off Your Broom Week 4 Check-in and Week 5 Challenges

First, measurements!

Before:

Weight: 172
Hips: 43″
Waist: 39″
Chest: 42.5″
Thighs: 23″
Arms: 12″

Now:

Weight: 167.2 (-4.8)
Hips: 43″ (no change)
Waist: 38″ (-1″)
Chest: 41.5″ (-1″)
Thighs: 21″ (-2″)
Arms: 11″ (-1″)

It would appear that I am melting! meeellllting! Slowly, but the numbers are there! W00t! I was actually a little worried about this week. I came down with a cold and it really knocked me for a loop. I basically had no exercise after Wednesday. However, this will change this week (due to one of the challenges and one of my own mini-goals). I am feeling better now and have no excuse to at least go for a walk. I get lazy when I get sick, but the last time I tried to run before I was recovered, I ended up with bronchitis. My lungs take forever to really recover from a cold. I will be running this week, but very slowly.

Incorporating my Pagan values was a huge help. Whenever I really wanted to eat something deliciously bad for me, I would remind myself that my body is a temple and meditate on that for a few seconds. The craving would usually just go away.

Week 5 Challenges

“There will be three mini-challenges this week, which will appear simple. The reality is that they may be simple but they are not easy. They will take a lot of willpower and some planning ahead to stick with. Now that we have observed our habits and started to change them, it’s time to work on making them consistent. Remember, these mini-challenges are always optional.

Part 1 is to exercise at least five days this week. (At first I wrote “five times this week”, but if you are like me you would take this literally and cheat. Oh I did Zumba for and walked the dog today. That’s two times so I only have to do three more times this week.Nope, we should to be exercising almost every day. )

Part 2 is to eat more fruits and vegetables, or in other words a more plant based diet. Maybe you aren’t going for the goal of a vegetarian diet like I am, but studies show that even if you are a meat eater more fruits and vegetables helps weight loss. (But don’t cheat and eat a bunch of potato chips and french fries and count that as vegetables.)

Part 3 is to drink plenty of water every day. I’m not going to suggest that you drink 8 glasses every day because I honestly don’t know how any does that. I’ve also researched it and no one actually has a clear answer on why 8 was the definitive number. A good rule that I have heard is to drink one glass of water with every meal and snack that you have.” From The Domestic Pagan
Part 1
I have already scheduled some sort of exercise Mon – Sat. I did cardio and weights today and will be running tomorrow. I am leaving on Friday for a small family vacation, but managed to think ahead as to what type of exercise I can do before we leave and while I am there. One of my personal goals for this week is to make it to at least 1 class at my gym. So far I have been mostly doing the elliptical machines, weights, and treadmills.
Part 2
Yikes. I do not know why I have so much trouble getting fruits and veggies into my diet. This will be a goal I am going to be working on for the rest of this challenge.
Part 3
I already try to keep a glass of water at hand everywhere I go. I will drink it if it is handy. I will forget about it if it is not.

The Joy of Cooking Pita Bread

Pita Bread
from The 75th Anniversary Edition of The Joy of Cooking Cookbook by Irma Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker

I have had a few people ask me for this recipe. For some reason, pita bread seems to be a daunting bread creation. It is really very simple. It will take a while as the dough does need to rise at least once. I usually let it rise twice.

Ingredients

3 cups bread flour (I have used all-purpose with good results)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 packages (1 1/2 tbsp) active dry yeast (I usually use 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/4 cup room temp water

Combine flour, sugar, salt, & yeast in a large bowl or the bowl fo a heavy-duty mixer. Add the butter and water. Mix by hand or on low-speed for about 1 minute. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth, soft, and elastic. Add flour or water as needed; the dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temp until doubled in volume, 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Set a rack in the lower level of the oven and place a pizza or baking stone on the rack. Preheat the oven to 450°F for 45 minutes. (If you do not have a pizza or baking stone, preheat the oven, place an inverted baking sheet on the rack, and heat the baking sheet for 5 minutes.) *if you punch the dough down an extra time, wait for it to finish rising the second time before doing this step.

Meanwhile, punch down the dough. Divide equally into 8 pieces, and roll the pieces into balls. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. (*I will usually punch down the dough and let it rise one more time in the bowl, then punch it down and divide it).

On a very lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough into a thin round, about 8 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch think. Spray the stone or baking sheet with a mist of water, wait 30 seconds, then place as many dough rounds as will fit without touching each other directly on the hot surface. Bake until the dough rounds puff into balloons, about 3 minutes (seriously – only about 3 – 5 minutes. Pitas are thin and do not require much baking time), then bake 30 seconds longer and immediately remove the breads to a rack to cool. If you leave the breads in the oven too long, they will become dry and will not deflate to flat disks. Bake the remaining rounds.

Tofu Pastries

Tofu Pastries from Vegetarian Cooking: A Common Sense Guide by Bay Books

Cooked on: May 26, 2011

Servings: Makes 8

Cost: Inexpensive

Skill level: Beginner. Be sure to follow instructions.

This recipe requires about 4 hours to prepare.

Ingredients

150 g (5 1/2 oz) firm tofu, drained

2 spring onions (scallions), chopped

3 tsp chopped coriander (cilantro)

1/2 tsp grated orange zest

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)

2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg lightly beaten

 

Dipping Sauce (I did NOT make this as I opted to use the sweet chilli sauce for dipping instead)

3 tbsp sugar

125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup rice vinegar

1 small Lebanese (short cucumber, finely diced

1 small red chilli, thinly sliced

1 spring onion (scallion, thinly sliced on the diagonal)

 

Procedure

1. Pat the tofu dry and dice. Place in a bowl with the spring onion, coriander, orange zest, soy and sweet chili sauces, ginger, and corn flour. Mix gently, then cover and refrigerate for 3 – 4 hours.

2. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce. Put the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Tip into a small bowl and add the cucumber, chilli, and spring onion. Allow to cool completely.

3. Preheat the oven to 220° C (425° F/Gas 7). Cut each pastry sheet into four squares. Drain the tofu filling and divide into eight portions. Place one portion in the center of each square and brush the edges with beaten egg. Fold each one into a triangle and seal the edges with a fork.

4. Place on two lined baking trays, brush with beaten egg and bake for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Serve hot, with the dipping sauce.

 

Verdict: This was a very tasty side dish. The tofu took on the chili sauce flavor mmmmm. The taste reminded me of an egg roll. I don’t remember why I didn’t just make the dipping sauce. I probably forgot to find a cucumber or something along those lines, but using the sweet chili sauce was perfect.

This pastry was a perfect side dish with the Pea & Asparagus Saffron Risotto. Both just slightly sweet, with a little savory added in.

Pea and Asparagus Saffron Risotto

Pea and Asparagus Saffron Risotto from Vegetarian Cooking: A Common Sense Guide by Bay Books

Cooked on: May 26, 2011

Servings: 4 (according to the book – this recipe lasted a week for me)

Cost: Inexpensive – I already had saffron on hand, so this was super in expensive.

Skill level: Beginner. Be sure to follow instructions.

Ingredients

450 g (1 lb) fresh peas in the pod, or
235 g (8 1/2 oz/1 1/2 cups) frozen peas (I used frozen)
175 g (6 oz/1 bunch) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3 cm (1 1/4  inch) lengths
a pinch of saffron threads
1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
440 g (15 1/2 oz/2 cups) risotto rice
30 g (1 oz/heaped 1/4 cup)finely grated Parmesan cheese

1. Shell the peas into a heat-proof bowl and add the asparagus. Cover with boiling water and leave to stand for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside until needed.

2.  Pour 60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) boiling water into a small bowl. Add the saffron and leave to infuse.

3. Pour the stock into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and keep at a gentle simmer.

4. Het the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Sauté the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the rice and stir until translucent.

5. Add 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) hot stock, stirring constantly over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding more stock, 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) at a time, stirring constantly for 20 – 25 minutes, or until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender and creamy. Add the saffron water about halfway through, and stir in the peas and asparagus about 5 minutes before the rice is ready.

6. When the rice is tender, remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan. Serve sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper.

Final Verdict: Yummy, cheap, and fairly healthy. A great dish for vegetarians (or anyone who just wants a good dish) on a budget. If you can not afford the saffron, I would recommend adding in fresh basil.

My Oven Rant

I haven’t had a working oven in almost a month. A month! Our landlord had ordered one once it became clear that no place in town would be able to fix the old one. It should have been an easy fix, to be honest. It wasn’t our landlord’s fault or the repair folks in town. GE just made a piece of crap oven (JRP28 series) with an obvious problem and no replacement parts. However, this would not be obvious at first glance. I’ve looked this oven up online and at first glance, it has pretty glowing reviews. Then if you look closely, you will notice those reviews are for the seller – not just the product. If you REALLY start to dig around, you will find that the actual product reviews are not so glowing. The biggest complaint involves the wiring in the clock. If the oven gets too hot, the wiring will burn and malfunction. Then it will beep incessantly until you turn the power off in the circuit breaker box. Yes, if the OVEN gets too HOT. WTF. This means that if you cook anything for an extended period of time, you’re screwed. If you try to use your self-cleaner (which is right there on the oven features), you’re screwed. If you cook anything above 450 º F, #you.are.screwed. This is not some cheapo appliance. These ovens average $1500.

Now, a new oven did arrive last Wednesday, buuuut the very nice and competent Sears installers found a few things wrong. The original handyman who had installed all the appliances to begin with obviously had no idea what he was doing. The first problem discovered was that the oven had not been installed properly. The Sears installers barely needed to pull on it to just have it fall out of the wall. This is frightening. My kids are with me in the kitchen on a regular basis. I do a lot of cooking and baking. If my boys had been next to me while I opened the door a little too hard just once… Well yeah. Disaster.
The second thing was that the oven they took out, which also means the oven that had been ordered, were not the correct size for the space. Which means we have to wait even longer as a new one is shipped out. C~, the original handyman, is a bit of an idiot. He has worked on things around this house since we moved in, but we haven’t heard from him since this whole oven fiasco started. He started to fix the siding on the house, but never finished fixing it, and never did paint it.
It is my understanding that he is the one to blame for the purchasing of the appliances in this house. Dumbass. I mean that term for C~ and for the landlord who was willing to trust him. Supposedly he was able to get the appliances at really great prices. I do believe that you get what you pay for. That does not mean pay an arm and a leg for everything. Do a little research first. It takes a little effort, but that will usually pay for itself with a quality product.

Anyway, since we will not have an oven for at least a week or 2 longer, I have started to look at my options:

  • Using my father-in-law’s super awesome grill.
  • Finding some unique solutions.
John, my husband’s stepfather, is currently living with us. He and Bobi have brought along a lot of cool things. One of which is a 5 burner grill. I have been thinking of using the grill to bake bread. My thought is to use the 2 side burners and place a container of water (I think that helps with heat distribution) on the top rack. I would need to figure out how high to let the flame go and balance each burner out so they are putting out the same heat. Should be interesting. I am hoping to try it out tomorrow.
Unique solutions… If I owned this house, I would probably go ahead and build a brick oven in the backyard. But I don’t. However, someone told me about Apple Box Ovens. I am totally in love with this idea. This would be something that we could take camping. The materials are easy to find and not very expensive.
So, I will probably go ahead and try the grill, but I really want to try out an apple box oven too. I think I will bake bread on the grill tomorrow and build the oven on Friday. If I remember, I will write about my results.

Just Call Me Narcissus

I just realized today how focused on ME I have been in my latest blogs. So, I wanted to dedicate at least one to my boys.

Sol is doing pretty well in school, as far as I can tell. We will find out more at the dreaded parent/teacher conference in a couple of weeks. I am a little worried about his math comprehension. He does well on his math homework, but we do have to prompt him to really look at the question. His math test scores are all pretty low. His reading level seems to be really high. He’s been reading to us before bed the past couple of weeks. I think that is pretty neat.
He is slowly getting over the dog thing. Sort of. We missed going to the shelter 2 weeks in a row due to yucky weather. I took him last week and it was almost like starting over again. It wasn’t as bad as the very first time. We (I) walked an Australian Shepherd puppy. Such a beautiful boy. He was so sweet and well-mannered. Sammi and I fell on this walk… I still feel horrible about that. I nearly killed myself trying to make sure I didn’t squish Sam (I was carrying him in a wrap). He still hit his head on the rocks. Alpha Romero, the dog, became very concerned about us. He circled me once, then snuggled up in my lap and licked Sammi. I nearly took him home after that. I would have if we weren’t renting…

Sammi has restarted his occupational therapy sessions. The clinic and the insurance company are having communication issues regarding payment for his therapy. I finally got tired of it and yelled at the poor customer service lady with the insurance company. I almost feel bad for her, but not really. I did actually tell her to shut up once when she was trying to calm me down. I think my whole neighborhood now knows precisely what I think of my insurance company. She straightened it out for me. Now I need to yell at someone at the clinic.
Anyway, he is improving, but is still behind. He can do the commando crawl, but can not get into a seated position from crawling. I’ve been working on this with him. The therapist also wants him to begin actually crawling on all fours. We are starting this by having him play while sitting back on his legs. Like in Hero Pose:

This type of work will strengthen his legs and move the proper muscles that need to start moving for walking. Crawling on all fours will also help with this and strengthen his upper body and arm muscles. It is a lot of work, but we are seeing results and that is encouraging.

Sammi has started to grasp sign language. I fell off being so diligent about it and started this week to show him signs again. He will now do the sign for “more” and “done.” He is now ALWAYS asking for more. The boy is not even one and is already a bottomless pit.

Get Off Your Broom Week 3 Check-in & Week 4 Challenge

Week 3

I really struggled with Week 3. I had such intense sugar cravings that did not seem to want to go away. Even when I gave in to them. They just hung around. Funny that the Week 3 Challenge was to find out about what causes cravings… I’m going to go with my body starting to get ready to return to its cycles. At least for those cravings. I have no idea what else they could have been. My body has been threatening to restart its periods for a few weeks now. Up until this week, it has mostly been severe cramping. My son is almost 1, so it is getting close to time to restart.

For a really great blog on food cravings, I recommend checking out The Domestic Pagan’s post for this week’s check-in. She found some great info and articles. I feel so lazy now.

I actually did pretty good with exercise. I didn’t get as much weight-lifting in as I would like (as in none at all), but I got in a good bit of running and discovered that I am now averaging about 2 miles in the same time that I had been doing 1.7 miles. I also made sure to walk as much as I could.

Now for the measurement:

Weight: 168.0
-.4 this week
-4.0 total!

I will be doing my other measurements next week. I think they will be pretty good. I have noticed some things fitting differently and my belt is loose on me now… I might need to find a new one.

Week 4 Challenge

“There will be two parts to this week’s challenge.

Part 1: How balanced is your diet? Are you eating healthy, wholesome natural foods or are you simply eating less crap than before? If I’m honest with myself and you folks, I know my answer is that I am simply eating less crap.

A balanced diet, despite what the food pyramid tells you, won’t actually look the same for everyone. (I know, I’m no nutritionalist but the common food pyramid was created by the United States Department of Agriculture not the health department.) If you are diabetic or a vegan, a balanced diet is going to look a lot different for you than for someone who is eating a more traditionally balanced diet. I am striving for a mostly vegetarian diet so I look to the vegetarian food pyramid for guidance.

Part 2: In the previous post, I wrote about how I’ve been struggling to make this fitness challenge more “witchy.” If we do do things witchy all the time like Magaly says, then making a fitness challenge more witchy shouldn’t be hard, right? What can you do to combine your spirituality and practice with your diet and fitness regimen? Some suggestions include using the witches pyramid (to know, to will, to dare, to be silent), to use the elements to balance your diet and fitness routine, base your diet on the Wiccan Rede (to harm none), or to do ritual or magick to aid you. Can you tell I’ve put some thought into it already?”
From The Domestic Pagan

Part 1

I have to be honest. I’m with The Domestic Pagan. I’m eating less crap. I am working on eating more balanced. MyFitnessPal actually helps with that. During the day, I can actually see what nutrients I am lacking in my diet. I am also working on creating a weekly menu. I like to use the Alli website to help with this. I tried using Alli a couple of years ago and was actually pretty successful. I don’t care for the pill thingies so much, but I LOVE their recipes and how you can plan an entire week (or more) with their website. Most of the recipes create single servings and are easy to make. For dinner, I will double the recipe so my husband can enjoy it also. His favorites are the vegetarian stuffed squash and the vegetarian stuffed peppers. Anyway, this is a great challenge and I look forward to working with it.

Part 2

I once read (I am pretty sure it was in a Buckland book) that we need to consider our bodies as temples. They are a gift from the God and Goddess and we should take care of them in respect to that. We should be careful of what we put into our temple. This is a concept that I can easily combine with the Part 1 Challenge.
I can use my cooking time to put in loving and healthy thoughts into my food. I have a penchant for kitchen witchery, this would be a natural way for me to hone that skill and to add a bit of “witchyness” to every meal.
I may also do a bit of spellwork to help me with willpower…

Frak it.

Today will be my “bad” day. I had the most intense cravings for chocolate and nothing helped. Not even chocolate. I gave in, hoping to quell the weird need for it, but I still wanted chocolate. I should change that to “want.” I still want chocolate. I just drank a bunch of water and having a full belly seems to be helping. How bizarre. Usually if I get a craving like that, it will go away if I give in to it or if I just ignore it. Oh well. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow lol.

I haven’t been very good about exercising lately. I have been walking a lot, but I haven’t been getting in my running or weights. I hope to be able to go running tomorrow morning. I am also hoping it will be nice enough that I can go to the animal shelter to get a running buddy. I do enjoy running with a dog.

On a similar note, I did take Sol to the shelter today to walk a dog. Sammi and I took a spill while walking near the river. The puppy we were walking got a little upset, circled us, then curled up in my lap. I think he was really worried about Sammi and kept trying to lick his face. Such a good pup. His name is Alpha Romero and he is an Australian Shepherd. He was only 4 months old. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing in the shelter. He is a good natured little guy and absolutely beautiful. I will not be surprised if he gets a new home before this week is up.

That is pretty much it for now. Just wanted to post a quick update before going to sleep.

Get Off Your Broom Week 2 Review & Week 3 Challenge

Recap of Week 2:

Weight: 168.4
-1.6 lbs!
-3.6 lbs total

I definitely did better with the stress, emotional, bored eating. However, I did break my fast on fast food and ice cream. I just needed a cheeseburger sooo badly. The ice cream was part of a malt I had in Seattle when I took my son for a doc appointment. No reason for it, but DAMN it was so freaking good. I haven’t had a malt in years. The calories alone were more than twice my daily allowance, but it was worth it. I did walk for about 2 hours (carrying an 11-month-old the whole time) to help burn some of that off. I did pretty good with the exercising. I love my new gym! I did 20 minutes in the cardio theater and didn’t even notice lol. I was sweaty, but really enjoying the movie. I also did my first ever stint at running on a treadmill for my C25K program. The steady pace did help me to go farther than I do on trails, but I think I do prefer to run outside.

Thinking on the subject of emotional eating seemed to help me curb those cravings caused by emotional, stress, and boredom factors. Other than the milkshake, I actually did pretty decently with the eating last week.

Week 3 Challenge

“This is going to have two parts. Remember it is always optional. Part 1 will be about investigating the cravings that we have that aren’t due to emotional eating. Why do we have a sudden craving for something sweet or salty that just seems to come out of the middle of nowhere? Should we give in to these cravings or suffer through them?

Part 2 has to do with body measurements. If you have not yet started keeping track of your measurements, I want you to buy or borrow a measuring tape and start! Keeping track of your weight is helpful but not always a true gauge of achievements. My week 2 results are proof of this.” From The Domestic Pagan
Part 1
I’ve been thinking about this. Sometimes I think that a craving is there for a reason. You might need more salt, protein, gluten, carbs, fat, whatever. I really do believe that our bodies let us know these things. I also believe that if you are craving something that is not especially good for you, try doing something else to distract yourself (go for a walk or drink water – sometimes reading the nutritional info on whatever I want also helps). If the craving goes away, you didn’t really need it. If it remains, give in to it, but try to be responsible. Don’t eat the whole tub of ice cream. Measure out a half cup of ice cream, then top it off with nuts & fruit (pineapple + coconut is super yummy on ice cream).
Part 2
I mentioned before that I will really do body measurements the first Saturday of each month. You are all lucky I am even weighing myself each week lol. Yes, it is important to keep track of the other measurements, but I am not going to do them every week.

Before Picture!

I almost forgot to post this. Here are my before pictures:

I decided to wear something that I figured I could wear for the after pics, also. To be able to compare. This is my usual workout outfit. I didn’t actually mean to block out my face. It just happened.

Post Navigation