Staying busy at home

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Our neighborhood association asked us to put teddy bears in our windows so that children going for walks would have something to look for and to count. I think Mr. Bear looks slightly melancholy, stuck inside as he is.

I've been busy in the kitchen this week, planning and thinking about "make do, use it up, or do without." We're trying to avoid the stores now if possible. I did order some things from Amazon a couple weeks ago for baking.

I haven't baked since July when I gave up sugar. But my husband likes sandwiches, and all the bread has been sold out.

I had given my daughter my baking powder and yeast. It was hard going finding it on Amazon, and of course, took much longer to arrive. But as soon as the yeast came yesterday I made a loaf of gluten-free, sugar-free bread.

No kneading required. Just mixed with my hand mixer with the dough hooks. It took longer to rise without any sugar, about twice as long.

 It made a dense, kind of wonky-looking loaf. 

But we both agreed it was very tasty.

 I found some beef broth I had made in the freezer and made up some vegetable soup. It was delicious with the bread. This bread is also good toasted.

I had frozen some blueberries a week or so ago.

I tried a gluten-free, sugar-free coffee cake. This is the first time I've used xanthan gum. I couldn't get any of my favorite Rumford baking powder anywhere. These packets of baking powder were all I could find.

The muffins in the jar are gluten-free, sugar-free banana nut. These were sweeter and better tasting than the blueberry coffee cake.

Why am I being so rigid about sugar? I think it's extremely addictive. And so many negative side effects of consuming too much of it. And I don't do moderation very well.

I've lost 45 pounds since going off sugar and white flours. I've reached my goal, and sure don't want to gain any back!

I found the Christmas ham bone in the freezer. I made up split pea soup. I don't care for it, but my husband loves it, so I froze up a bunch of individual servings for his lunches.

And made some ham spread with some of the extra ham on the bone. I have used sweet pickles in the past, but here I used dill pickles. I've found an avocado mayo from Primal Kitchen with no sugar that is very good.

Rice and beans with scallions, tomatoes, cheese, and seasoning. Served with salsa and sour cream and more scallions.

We're having leftovers of this tonight.

I soak my pecans in salted water and then slow roast in the oven. According to Nourishing Traditions cookbook, this makes them more digestible. They taste way better too. I use them mostly on oatmeal.

Besides cooking, I hauled out my sewing machine, which was literally covered in dust! I made up five hand towels from some old linen cloth and some leftover lace.  This project had been sitting around for several years!

And brought out my knitting. Some dishcloths for Christmas.

Here's my answer to the current toilet paper shortage! A handheld bidet.

I love this!

I am seriously thinking of having one installed on our toilet when all this is over.

Also in the self-care department, how great are these reusable eye makeup removers? I got them in black so any mascara or eyeliner stains won't show. No more buying cotton rounds. They are super comfortable on your skin, too. Although I haven't been wearing much makeup lately ;).

Our small group Bible study is meeting tonight over Zoom. So thankful for this technology that allows us all to connect.

What have you all been doing at home these days?

xo Deborah

Hello again

Monday, March 23, 2020

Hello again, my dear blog friends. 

It's been a long time. I have missed you.

I had been thinking seriously over the past several months of shutting my blog down. But couldn't quite write that final post. I didn't really want to say goodbye.

So I am back, and hoping I still have things to say here. I still believe "the beautiful matters," maybe even more so now.

Isn't it wonderful to see some of the beautiful things happening right now even in the midst of this life-altering pandemic?

People singing together from their balconies or front porches. Families going for walks together. People at home sewing masks for health care workers. I saw last night a neighborhood where families put stuffed bears in their windows so the children could count them as they went for a walk with their parents. People sitting outside nursing home windows cheering their loved ones.

Miss Read is always comforting in times of stress.
 Drive up food distributions, online prayer meetings, funny memes to keep us smiling.

This past fall I became a mentor mom for our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) program. They were looking for someone to also lead a smaller group of moms struggling with anxiety and depression. This group has been meeting at my house every two weeks since last October.

We have set up a Marco Polo group to stay in touch with each other during this time of social distancing. It has been a wonderful way to check in with each other, encourage each other, and share the frustrations and challenges and joys of being home all day with little ones. When you also struggle with anxiety or depression.

Sharpened and organized and ready for some serious coloring. 
 This is an anxious time for everyone. I'm so thankful for social media right now. My book club is meeting via Zoom tonight. Our pastor has scheduled a short prayer time online every evening at 9 p.m. There are so many ways to stay connected. I've actually set up a schedule for all my Zoom and FaceTime calls!

**** breaking news ****

Just got a text our governor here in Michigan is issuing a stay-at-home order today. Things are changing daily.

Okay . . . three hours later . . . after a whole bunch of texts and calls among friends and family about what that means for us here.  Concern for those who are self-employed. No work means no money. And concern for those who need to keep working and who risk exposure.

I am going to close now and spend some quiet time in prayer. I'll be back soon. 

xo Deborah

No-sugar vacation

Monday, September 9, 2019

We got back last week from a lovely visit to Charleston, South Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina where my son and his wife live. As we were leaving Michigan, where the weather had cooled a bit and the humidity had lowered, I asked my husband why in the world were we going to hot and humid Charleston?! (This was a couple weeks before the hurricane.)

But we had great weather there, in the 80s and low humidity. We were assured by a number of people there that we had picked a good week, somewhat unusual there, where in late
August it is normally in the 90s or higher with high humidity.

And thankfully, we got there and out before Hurricane Dorian. We definitely would have had to cancel if we had gone after Labor Day, which was our original plan.

Anyway, I promised a series on my new, no-sugar life, and I wanted to let you all (y'all -- I just got back from the South!) know how I managed, eating in restaurants almost exclusively.

Our very first stop was McDonald's. (I know, not an auspicious beginning!) We rarely stop there, but we wanted coffee and something fast as we got on the road. I got a sausage, egg, and cheese muffin. I took the muffin off, which most of the cheese stuck to, and just ate the egg and the sausage with my coffee.

Cracker Barrel had lots more options.

There was a wait at Cracker Barrel, so we had time to browse. So much candy! I reminisced about the "old days" when I would have bought the Moon Pies and the sugared pumpkin jellies, and more.

I'm proud to report that I didn't have any sugar on this trip. At. All. Or white flour.

It wasn't easy, and I had to get creative with my orders, but it can be done! 

Just before we left, I decided that I was going to do the Mediterranean diet, instead of Keto (which explains the sweet potato).

The sauce had sugar, so I removed that.

Low country boil, eaten at a restaurant on the beach. We were able to spend two full days lounging on the beach. It was so relaxing. I love to listen to the waves. The water was 84 degrees! So different than our (to me) freezing cold Great Lakes!

I decided halfway through the trip that Mediterranean wasn't working (couldn't get enough good carbs), and switched back to Keto. Now that I'm home, I'm back on the Mediterranean. I just can't manage all the fat on Keto. It's been trial and error, and restaurant eating is so different than home eating.

I've been tracking everything on a free app called LifeSum. You choose the diet you want to follow, and they have quite a few options, and then you plug in what you eat and it tracks macros for you (carbs, fats, and proteins), as well as calories. You enter your current weight and your goal weight and it tells you how many calories you need. It adds calories to your plan when you exercise. 

I usually don't like to be tied to food tracking like this, but it has been a really useful tool to educate me on what constitutes Keto or Mediterranean. I was always falling short of the fat intake on Keto, and I've been running short on carbs on the Mediterranean. Yesterday I got three big smiley faces for each meal, so I guess I finally nailed it!

We had friends over for dinner Saturday evening. We hadn't seen them for several years (they live out of state), and I didn't want to make a big deal over my diet as we had so many other things to talk about. I was able to eat sugar-free and sensibly without anyone noticing.

For appetizers (we ate them out on the deck -- the Michigan weather was perfect!), I had whitefish spread (from the straits of Mackinaw in Michigan) on (sugar-free) crackers, vegetables and (sugar-free) dip, cheese, and olives. 

For dinner, I made large, composed salads with greens, tomatoes (fresh from the farmer's market -- yum!!), cucumbers, celery, and marinated, grilled chicken sliced on top. There was blue cheese crumbles, shredded cheddar cheese, and pecans to put on top as desired. I bought some salad dressing (ranch, which has sugar) and had some homemade olive oil dressing. I noticed everyone had the homemade, sugar-free version! I also bought some dinner rolls to go with.

The tricky part, dessert, was an assortment of lemon bars, brownies, and chocolate peanut butter bars that I bought, cut into smaller pieces, and arranged on a tray. I also bought some Lindor truffles. And I had a bowl of strawberries and a pot of decaf coffee.

I had the coffee and a few strawberries. I told my husband that any dessert left over by Monday morning was going in the trash. He had a couple small brownies on Sunday, and this morning, three or four leftover lemon bars and brownies went straight in the trash! I put the rest of the truffles in a baggie and sent them to work with him. I'm doing well, but I really don't quite trust myself. And why have temptation lurking around?

The discouraging thing is that the weight is coming off SO slowly. A pound a week. I had gone to Target at the beginning of the summer and bought a few cotton dresses that I wore all summer. Now I've got one pair of jeans to wear every day until I lose some more to fit into my fall/winter wardrobe. Losing one pound a week, I will be wearing these jeans exclusively until Thanksgiving! I just don't want to buy anymore clothes at this size.

Two whole months today sugar free!

Thank you for following my journey everyone. Your support is so encouraging. xo

Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs