A visit to Bernideen's

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Just got back from a visit to Colorado to see my mom and my sister and her family. While I was there, we went down to Colorado Springs for the day, and they dropped me off at Bernideen's Tea Shop for a look around and a little visit with Bernideen.

I didn't tell her I was coming, as I wasn't sure what our plans were going to be. But there she was. I recognized her right away from her blog picture. How much fun! The first blogger friend I've met in person.

We had a nice chat about all things tea- and blog-related. She has a lovely shop, full of beautiful teacups, teapots, tea, and all the accoutrements. We were so busy talking I didn't get any more pictures. And look what I got . . . 

I've seen similar teapots on my friends' blogs, and just fell in love.

And this beautiful pillow, made by Bernideen. I'm going to try and make something like this with my stash of embroidered items.

Isn't this gorgeous?! Love this!!
When I was ready to go, Bernideen packed up my teapot very carefully (carried home in a carry-on!) and told me she'd tucked something inside. I thought maybe she'd put some teabags inside. But, no. Wow! Look . . . a gorgeous Royal Albert teacup.

She recommended the Yorkshire Gold tea. Delicious, and such a pretty color.

Thank you so much, Bernideen! What a generous and thoughtful gift!

Speaking of gifts, I just received two magazines and a lovely doily from New Zealand! Will share next time.

Sharing with Bernideen (of course!) and Sandi.

Hara hachi bu, and a confession

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ever heard of this Japanese way of eating?

Hara hachi bu is eating until you are 80% full.

Don't ask me how you figure that out.

Hara hachi bu is traditionally practiced in Okinawa, and is considered one of the reasons why the people there have such incredible longevity.

Actually, it does takes a little practice, but you can figure it out. This is how I do it.

Eat slowly. Chew your food well. Swallow before taking another bite. (How many times do I shovel more food in when I haven't even swallowed what's in there? Eew.)

Put your fork down occasionally between bites. Join in some dinner conversation.
Eating is about relationships and relaxation, too, not just the food!

It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to register fullness. Slowing down helps you to better gauge how full you are getting. Stop before you feel full, even when you feel you might want more.

When you eat until you are full or stuffed, the stomach has to stretch. We don't want that.

I've been using a luncheon plate rather than a dinner plate and taking less food than I think I'm going to want. By eating slowly, and enjoying the taste of the food, I can eat less.

Okinawa boasts the highest number of centenarians in the world. They eat mostly a plant-based diet, exercise (gardening, etc., not gym workouts), maintain social networks, and more. But the practice of hara hachi bu surely contributes to their longevity, not to mention their trim figures.


True confession time: I can't give away my heels. A few hours after I wrote my last post, I pulled out all the heels I had put in the donation bag. If nothing else, I can enjoy looking at their awesomeness in my closet.

Just walked right back into my closet . . . 
I do hope after I've reached my weight-loss goal at least some of them will be more comfortable.


I'll be away from my laptop for a week or so . . . will catch up with you the middle of next week. Blessings and love to you, my friends.

xo Deborah

Project 333 update; goodbye to stilettos?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I haven't done a Project 333 update lately. Although at this point, I should call it a Project 313 update. I'll explain in a minute.

For those of you who don't know, Project 333 is an attempt to build a small, capsule wardrobe of 33 items (excluding workout clothes, underpinnings, and pajamas) for three months, adding in and cycling out clothes every three months as the seasons change. You can read more about my journey with this here and here.

I thought I had whittled my wardrobe down really well, and have been really pleased with how easy it is to get dressed in the morning, and how everything I own works with each other (this is because I have five basic colors I use -- three neutrals, navy, gray, and white, and two accents, pink and lavender).

But I just donated another huge bag of clothes. It's just so surprising that I really can live quite comfortably with less clothes. Right now, it feels like I only have about 13 items, rather than 33, hence Project 313!

One factor in getting rid of some clothes has been my weight loss. I've lost 17 pounds so far, and a couple pair of trousers went into that bag. I hope never to see that size again!

I'm hoping to lose another 25, for a total of 42 pounds. If I keep going at this pace, one pound lost per week, I will reach my goal the first week of September.

So, obviously, a few more items of clothing will be going in the donation bag.

I've looked at my spring/summer clothes, and I think I have enough pieces to get me through these two seasons, and through additional weight loss, without having to buy anything new. Casual summer dresses, which I mostly wear, are pretty forgiving. I might buy an inexpensive pair of cotton ankle pants in an intermediate size, to see me through.

I currently am down to one pair of jeans and one pair of casual trousers. The jeans are getting too big, but I have another pair that I can fit into after losing about five more pounds. I will just swap the current jeans out.

I have about five or six casual summer dresses, and some dresses for church, and that will do me, I think. I have a couple special occasion dresses that have been too small for me, that will now work perfectly for upcoming graduations and weddings.

Dresses and sweaters and tops are fairly forgiving; it's the jeans and trousers that need to be sized down.

I'm looking forward to building a new wardrobe in the fall, but for now, I'm making do, and doing with a lot less.

The big shift now in my wardrobe has to do with shoes. Having spent most of the past year or two in socks or bare feet, it's a killer to put on my favorite high heels. And when I look in my closet, I shake my head and say, really?

A couple dozen pair of high heels? Two pair of flats? No good walking shoes?

Things have got to change. 

I wear heels to church (maybe in them 4 hours a week), and out to a nice dinner or concert (once a month?). How many pair of heels do I need?!

I used to run errands and go to the library and the mall in heels, but, now? No, thank you.

One thing I've learned is that I need to have clothes and shoes that fit my real life, not my fantasy life. As much as I like to get all dressed up and fancy-like, it's not really my life. And even if it was, do I really want to kill my feet anymore?

So I just ordered myself a pair of Minnetonka moccasins (yes, they still make them!) in a soft gray suede. They have a nice comfortable sole on them. They will be perfect for errand running, and they're cute, too.
And I'm donating some of my heels. I have to admit, I'm keeping a half dozen in my closet. The rest I'm boxing up with a note to reassess in the fall. Maybe after losing 42 pounds, I will be a little lighter on my feet, and they will be more comfortable.

But I really think the writing is on the wall. Several pair of comfortable walking shoes and a couple pair of lower-heeled dressy shoes is all I need. All these 3- and 4-inch heels I have are probably going to be gone in a couple years.

I have to say, this is hard. It has to do with recognizing that I'm getting older. It has to do with acknowledging that I have to accommodate a body that would rather be comfortable than stylish (although those terms really aren't mutually exclusive).

On the other hand, there is great freedom in this. It all has to do with being kind to myself and taking care of myself. Since I've been on this new lifestyle of eating whole, unprocessed food, without sugar, I picture all my little cells rejoicing in being fed better quality food; now I can picture my feet saying to each other, "yay! she's finally taking care of us!!"

So, I'm on the lookout for stylish, comfortable, lower-heeled shoes to wear for dressier occasions. I need two pair to replace two dozen. Not in any hurry; I'll wait to reach my weight loss goal first. Any recommendations?

(I'm sorry for the lack of photos; the one I used is an old one from my files. I am having trouble downloading pictures right now. Have no clue why. Wish there was a teenager in the house to help.)

We just eat too much!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I'm having my tea in this Royal Tara cup, made in Ireland.

I found this Irish Breakfast tea at Trader Joe's. I added a little stevia. It's delicious.

And for a little treat, although from Belgium and not Ireland, a square of dark chocolate. (For the antioxidants, you know.) One square has a little over 3 grams of sugar. A nice little treat.

I would normally have made some scones or Irish soda bread, but as you know I'm trying to change my carb- and sugar-loving ways.

I hope you're not too tired of listening to me go on about my attempts at healthier eating, because I've got some more interesting info to share.

We are eating more than 500 more calories a day than we did in the 1970s.

We can blame the obesity epidemic (did you know that one-quarter of all Americans are considered obese?) on too much sugar or not the right kinds of fats, or too many grains, or not enough of the right grains, etc., etc., but the bottom line is we just eat too much!

According to abcnews.com (June 2011), we eat 570 calories more a day than in the 70s. The Cleveland Plain Dealer (April 2010) reported that in 1970, we ate 2169 calories a day versus 2674 in 2008 (a 23% increase).

Our meals are super-sized. The average dinner plate from the 40s, 50s, and 60s was 10 to 10-1/2 inches in diameter. Dinner plates are now 12 to 13 inches in diameter (a 20% increase).

But experts say the real culprit is our constant snacking. Food is everywhere. Even in the office supply store, I've seen snacks and candy and sodas lined up next to the checkout lanes. We can get high-fat and -sugar treats whenever and wherever we want.

The sit-down meal, so essential to all kinds of good things, like conversation and relationships, has been replaced by snacking on the run.

I've been trying to remember how I ate in the 1970s. I'm sure I ate less back then. My mother cooked from scratch, and didn't succumb to all the emerging processed and pre-packaged foods starting to proliferate on the grocery shelves. I never had snacks in my dorm room, either, now that I think about it. For one thing, I couldn't afford to buy extra treats. And, for another, it wasn't a habit.

How did you eat in the 70s (assuming you are of a certain age)? Do you think you eat more now than you did back then?

I will be joining Tea Time Tuesday this week.

Coffee and conversation

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Whenever we had a large, heavy meal or exceptionally rich dessert, which was infrequent, my mom would always say, "coffee and conversation tomorrow."

That's what I'm doing today. Although there's no one here to converse with. Except Miss Read.

Bought this book used on Amazon; love the library card still in it, appropriately stamped "Village Branch."
Black coffee is on the docket today as yesterday was an all-out sugar and carb fest in celebration of my daughter's birthday. First, we went to a place called The Breakfast Club.

This is what we ate.

And you know how "your sins will find you out"? A local TV news station was on site filming for a weekly segment on local restaurants. No kidding. They asked if they could film us while we ate. On Thursday, yours truly will be live, stuffing myself with french toast! I can't wait to see it. Not.

After a day of shopping, we hit up The Cheesecake Factory for -- wait for it -- pasta and cheesecake.

It was an altogether satisfactory day, but today I'm glad to be back to my healthy lifestyle. No leftovers or doggie bags here to tempt me. And the really great thing is that I don't think I'd even be tempted. I'm realizing how much better I feel eating real, whole foods. I'm thankful for my salad today.

It will be quite a while before I want to do this again, and isn't that the goal?

16 pounds down and counting  . . . 

Linking with Rose Chintz Cottage.

Information overload

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. 
Ecclesiastes 12:12

I love to learn and I love to research. Sometimes, though, all the information available out there can be overwhelming and confusing. So many contradictory reports about everything from cholesterol to GMOs to vaccines to climate change . . . and on and on.

I try very hard to keep an open mind. I know there is a tendency in all of us to believe what we want to believe and disregard the rest. And we can find ample "evidence" to support any viewpoint we want to hold. There are conflicting reports and studies on just about any subject you care to study.

So what to do?

The first thing I do is try to read or listen to a variety of sources. I don't think it's a good idea to get all your news and information from one place. If you are conservative, for example, it's worth while to listen to some more liberal viewpoints, and vice versa. You don't have to agree, but you will be better informed, and get a more well-rounded perspective of what's going on. Every news source is biased; every one.

My "research station." That big red ball? Just got it today. Supposedly you work your core as you sit on it and try to balance. I sure worked my arm pumping it up with a little hand pump this morning! I'm just hoping I don't fall off.

Second thing, don't believe everything you read. I try to gather a lot of information when I'm researching something. It's one thing I re-learned as my children competed in speech and debate tournaments in their high school years. Find multiple sources to support your claims, and make sure they are credible (e.g., a debater would be taken down quickly for quoting Wikipedia).

This can be hard to do. Without sounding too cynical, it's true that everyone has an agenda, and many media sources are trying to make money or make a name for themselves. Check your sources' worldview, and follow the money. And, to make matters more confusing, just because someone has an agenda and is making money, or believes something you don't agree with, doesn't necessarily mean they're automatically wrong, either.

So why am I talking about this right now?

In my quest to eat better and have a healthier lifestyle, I've been researching a lot about food and nutrition (again). Talk about a minefield of conflicting information! Solomon was right. It wearies the body. It's enough to send a girl running to the kitchen for a carton of ice cream and a jar of hot fudge sauce! (Fortunately, I've removed this temptation.)

Here I look for consensus. Everyone seems to agree that eating whole, unprocessed foods, including lots of vegetables, is a good idea. But after that, it's all up for grabs . . . paleo, gluten-free, raw, low-fat, no sugar, vegan, organic or not, supplements, raw dairy and fermented foods . . . it just makes you dizzy.

How do you personally sift through all the conflicting information we have at our fingertips? After all, if even the experts can't agree, how can we hope to know?

Simple recipe for crispy nuts

Monday, March 2, 2015

Nuts are a wonderful source of protein and good fats, and are a terrific snack, as long as you don't eat too many (see my post here about how many nuts equals 200 calories). Raw nuts that are not roasted in oils and then salted are best. But sometimes they just taste . . . raw. And they can irritate the lining of your mouth.

Here is a recipe for toasting nuts that doesn't add any unhealthy fats or salts and tastes so delicious. This method of soaking and then slowly drying makes the nuts easier to digest and their nutrients more readily available, according to the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, from which this recipe comes.


Crispy Nuts

Take 4 cups of raw nuts  (walnuts, pecans), place in a large bowl and cover with filtered water and 2 teaspoons good quality sea salt. Soak for 7 hours or overnight. Drain, lay out on a stainless steel cookie sheet, and dry in a 150 F oven for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally. Cool and store in an airtight jar. (If you want to use peanuts or almonds, use skinless preferably, and up the salt to 1 tablespoon.)

These are crispier than raw (hence the name), and are delicious! And good to know they are more digestible and nutritious as well.


I bought some daisies at the grocers this weekend. I haven't bought flowers in weeks as it has been so frigid out that I've been afraid the poor things would freeze to death on the way home. 

So cheerful.

This cocoa pot (made in Germany) is more than 100 years old, and came from my great-grandmother. Here it is for show only, as I'm afraid to pour boiling hot liquids in it. I love the colors.

And I finally gave up on displaying my little piles of linen napkins here and there, and have them tidily organized in this hanging shoe holder. Love it. Now all my linens are in one place, and I know exactly what I have.

The sun is shining and it's a balmy 34 F out, the warmest it's been in like . . . forever. Maybe March won't be quite so cold. What's it like in your neck of the woods?
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