29 January 2012

Just Another Wild & Crazy Sunday Night!

Yes, I know this photo was taken last Sunday.  This Sunday is pretty much the same.  Different pajamas, different yarn... but the same crazy looking dog.  Who gets this excited to be a knitting assistant?  Gatsby, apparently!

28 January 2012

Today's Breakfast!

 This morning I was craving a nice cream cheesy lox & bagel breakfast, but common sense prevailed.  The common sense that if I indulged in the fishy, cheesy, carbohydrate-laden goodness I would pretty much have to eat nothing but carrot sticks and purified air for the rest of the day to meet my dietary requirements nipped that idea in the bud.  Also, I had no bagels and even with coffee my motivation levels before noon aren't yet at their peak.  In fact, they're so faint, it's hard to tell I have any motivation at all unless you've seen me groggily diligently wading through rescue stuff in my mismatched charming and perfectly coordinated pajamas glamourous nightwear.

Okay... enough strikethroughs.  I went a wee bit overboard, there...

Back to breakfast!  So... instead of gaining back the 5 lbs. I recently lost all in one meal, I ate THIS instead.
  • 2 oz. grav lax (smoked salmon with lemon & dill, basically)
  • a big handful of spring mix greens
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, diced
  • some raw onion, sliced
  • about 1/4 of a cucumber, also sliced
  • tiny pinch of salt spinkled on cucumbers & egg pieces
  • lots of freshly ground pepper!

Nutrition Information
Calories - 263
Fat - 14g
Carbs - 10g
Protein - 25g
Sugar - 3g
Sodium - 610mg
Iron - 19mg

On Suffering and Selfishness

It used to really irritate me when I would be talking with a close friend of mine, unburdening my troubles and describing my stressors in agonizing detail, would listen and then respond with "well, so is everyone" or "so does everyone."  As if my pain and my frustrations were not unique and full of special significance!  Can you believe that?!

Which was the very point he was trying to make!  My pain isn't special.  My suffering isn't a Technicolor masterpiece that sets itself apart from the suffering of the rest of the world.  Every living thing in this world suffers.

"Whenever something negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it." ~ Eckhart Tolle

When we experience something painfully traumatic or intensely stressful it is attractively easy to wallow in our own self pity.  I used to tell myself (and others), that my natural tendency to wallow in negative emotions was my way of "dealing" with problems as they arose.  In truth, that was my way to avoid both facing my problems and recognizing that they were often of a repetitive, self induced nature.

By focusing on ourselves and amplifying our sense of self-importance by exhibiting a "Poor Me!" attitude when negative situations or feelings arise we are not only digging ourselves into a harmful hole but we are missing the chance to increase our awareness and understanding.

The theme of suffering and the narcissistic attitude that can be nurtured when it is allowed to consume a person has been making a regular appearance popping in and out of my life recently.  It is astonishing how demanding people can be that we not only recognize their particular troubles but feed their unhealthy, selfish egos by agreeing that their pain is worse than everyone else's.  What they are going through is more important, more devastating, and is unparalleled in its complexity and enormity than anyone else's problems.  When you get to the simple root of the matter, it is the idea that they are very important people.  Their sense of self and ego is massive.  Self-centered is the word that comes to mind and it is quite literally the act of focusing intensely on what is inside oneself.  When we do this, it is very easy to lose sight of everything outside of oneself and then completely lose all sense of perspective.  People trapped in this mental attitude can be very difficult to interact with, like explaining the colours of a sunset to someone who is looking through a tiny pinhole and declares the sky to be orange and no other hue whatsoever.

Whether this is yet another lesson in patience for me or showing me what my retired mental patterns look like to someone outside of them (or a little of both), I am not sure.

I don't know if it is because of my having grown up in a prosperous, developed country that thinking of the suffering of others, so much of which is so much greater than my own, re-balances my perspective and helps me stay focused on moving forward instead of wallowing in disappointment and despair.  Perhaps that is me thinking that my own experience is somehow unique and I'm dead wrong (again)!  And while suffering is not something to be measured as greater or lesser, it is always good to be mindful of the suffering of those around us that we encounter in our daily lives.  As Plato said,

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

23 January 2012

Fresh Peppermint All-Natural All-Purpose Cleaner

I have a lot of hobbies and housework isn't one of them.  One of the things that helps me get into the mood to clean (other than watching episodes of "Hoarders") is a nice smelling cleaner whether it's almond hardwood floor polish or rose scented dish soap.

Making your own homemade cleaners is great for a number of reasons.  Here are mine:

  1. I'm broke frugal!
  2. I have dogs and don't want toxic chemical cleaners on surfaces they may lick.  (Don't ask...)
  3. I try to be conscious of the impact my lifestyle has on the world around me, even in little ways.
  4. I like things that smell good.
  5. If there is another reason, I've forgotten it.

You can make this easy, non-toxic, all-natural, blah-blah-blah cleaner in any scent you choose.  I made peppermint this time because:

  1. It opens my sinuses.
  2. I used bergamot last time.
  3. I made lemon-rose the time before that.
  4. I couldn't find my lavender essential oil.
  5. Gatsby doesn't like it (short explanation below).

The recipe is easier than pie (which comes naturally to me, but I hear is torturous for others).

  • 1 part plain ol' white vinegar
  • 1 part plain ol' filtered water
  • Several drops of essential oil (more or less depending on which you use, peppermint only needs a few because the fragrance is so strong, you will need more for subtler scents like bergamot)

I use an old Method brand spray bottle with duct tape wrapped around the label to obscure it.  Classy, I know.  That is why I didn't include a photo.  Someday I may make a pretty label for my all-purpose cleaner bottle... but let's face it, I probably won't.


  • Kitchen and bathroom counters & surfaces.
  • Laminate cabinets & furniture.
  • Mirrors & windows.
  • Dogs who pee on their own legs (e.g. Gatsby)

(P.S. I love lists, don't you?)

18 January 2012


Gatsby & Lola Lulu

Bean & "Cheese" Tortilla Pie

  • 5 8" whole wheat tortillas (I used Alejandro's, which are made here in Tucson.)
  • 2 15 oz. cans of pinto beans, drained
  • 1 cup salsa (I used Sunflower Market chipotle salsa.)
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (original recipe called for 2... amateurs!)
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, *chiffonade
  • 1 roma tomato, diced (about 1/2 c.)
  • 2 cups (1 package) of Daiya vegan pepperjack "cheese" style shreds

*chiffonade is the knife cut used most often for leafy greens.  The easiest way is to ball up the leaves and then cut slices into that which results in nice ribbon-like strands.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C
  2. Mash pinto beans with 3/4 c. salsa and minced garlic.
  3. In separate bowl, mash black beans with 1/4 c. salsa, diced tomato, and cilantro.
  4. Place the first tortilla in the bottom of a pie dish and top with about 3/4 c. of pinto bean mixture and 1/3 c. of "cheese."
  5. Top with a tortilla and then cover that with about 2/3 c. of black bean mixture and 1/3 c. of "cheese."
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5, then top with the final tortilla using the remaining pinto bean mixture & cheese to cover.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Next time I will probably add more veggies to the layers.  Caramelized onions, fresh spinach, canned pumpkin, sliced jalapenos, etc. would all be tasty additions!

One serving is about 1/6 of the pie and is around 375 calories and 11 grams of fat.

Morning Interlude: Speckled Hen Toes

Lola Lulu's feet (or at least, two of  'em)

17 January 2012

The F Word

No, not that one.  The other one.  The one you can spell with a “ph” if you grew up someplace other than where I grew up.  Where I grew up, you spell it with an “f” and it generally applies to being physically expansive (as opposed to being verbally expansive, which is for all intents and purposes a thoroughly healthy pastime… that I know nothing at all about…).


There, I said it!  Add a “c” 2/3 of the way in and you have a fact.  The fact is that I am 25 lbs. more challenging to the law of gravity than I was when I moved to Tucson, Arizona in June of 2010.

There are a lot of reasons for this.  While I almost never eat refined flours or sugars and my diet is almost entirely all natural/organic/not-processed I am consuming a lot more calories than I burn (mayo… I’m looking at you and your omega-3s).  Guess what else?  I make excuses!

Example:  “I spent the day at the pound with poor sick dogs and am covered in filth… so I deserve to eat a 1000 calorie custard filled pastry from the *panaderia on the way home!”

No, it doesn’t end there either.  I don’t walk my dogs as much as I should.  I know, I know… I’m a bad dog mama.  My bicycle has been repaired for about a month and I’ve only ridden it… three times?  Shameful, I know!

It’s a self perpetuating cycle of making excuses, feeling lazy, and then making excuses being I’m feeling lazy and don’t have the energy or motivation to: cook, walk the dogs as much as they (and I) require, ride my bike, not eat an entire baguette, etc.

The really frustrating point is that I know better.  I read books and watch documentaries about nutrition, the food industry, and related topics.  I haven’t had soda pop on a regular basis for over a decade (but have some much healthier and nifty alternatives that I will be sharing in good time).

Intellectually understanding a concept or idea is one thing… applying it to your life, on a daily basis is another (we’ll be coming back this theme a lot).  I have a few ideas for both implementing (actually re-implementing) more healthy changes in my lifestyle and holding myself accountable.  One big item is that I am going back to tracking everything I eat on MyFitnessPal.com.  Nothing smacks of personal accountability like the whole world knowing I had red velvet cupcakes for lunch!  (And by “whole world” I mean the 5 or so people who will actually read this.)  Not that I have ever done that, of course.  Just a random example to illustrate a point, folks!

Tonight for dinner I’m baking a tortilla pie.  It’s not as fattening as it sounds, I swear!! 

*Mexican bakery (for the white folks reading this blog)

Belated Beginning of Ye Olde Blog

So… what do I want to write about anyway?  Dogs… of course… dog rescue, well that goes without saying… food and recipes… vintage stuff… books I’m reading/have read/loved/hated/the dog ate… old movies… health, weight loss, wellness, and the philosophy of everything.  How’s THAT for a nutshell?

I hope you enjoy what I have to say, find some amusement herein, are stimulated by the questions and conundrums that I post, and perhaps find some inspiration to brighten your life (even if it’s just to have pancakes for dinner or look at a humdrum, everyday situation in a new way).

Yes, I used the word “herein.”  (I think I used it correctly…)

01 January 2012

Just Another Beginning

While the first day of the calendar year is really just another day, as important and full of meaning and possibility as any day, one cannot deny the symbolic significance that encourages us to pause and reflect on our lives and our selves.

For years I've made the same annual list of resolutions that are shoved to the back burner and then forgotten by February.  Lose a specified amount of weight.  Finish writing my cookbook.  Re-learn French.  Grow my own herbs for cooking.  Learn to bake a loaf of bread.

This year I'm going to do something different.  I have no list of clearly defined goals.  Simply put, from this day forward I will focus on being more present in each and every day.