RANDOM THOUGHTS ON COMING OUT OF HIBERNATION

As terrible as it is, I realize that I have become lazy and unmotivated during this past winter. I DO NOT like winter and prefer to wrap up in my blanket and read, get on my laptop, watch movies or whatever…anything rather than go somewhere. That is exactly what I said I would never let happen when I retired. But now, hallelujah, spring is officially less than a week away. Time to shake off that lazy personality that I do not admire and spring forward. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

I got back on the treadmill this week. I have one of those big milestone birthdays staring me in the face this summer and I intend to meet it head-on. My friend, Fred, used to always quote that TV commercial, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. So, I best get moving again.

When we got back from Texas, I harvested the remainder of the herbs that I had planted at Christmas time, cleaned out the Aero Garden and, last week, replanted with lettuce and kale. It’s up already!! Aren’t you excited? Well, it’s a small amount, I know,  but, hopefully, enough to tide us over until we can plant outside.

Yesterday, I started the vegetables for this year’s garden. So many plants – so little space. Should be interesting. Now, once I replenish my supplies, I can get some flowers started. Can hardly wait until we can get outside and start planting. I know – that will be awhile. But, how uplifting to get the process started anyway.

Still working on my 40 Bags in 40 Days de-cluttering project. Got a little behind but did some catching up today and DEFINITELY WILL catch up and complete by the end of the 40 days. Today is the 15th day and I think I’m at 13 bags right now. Not too bad!

And, here’s a big one. I got back to my writing this week. In fact, this afternoon I even submitted an excerpt from what I have completed so far to a publisher for possible feedback. What are the odds? Probably not great, but better than if I didn’t even try.

Now, if I can just get motivated to finish our tax stuff and get it to the CPA!

Yep…I’ve definitely come out of hibernation and it feels good!

Later.

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1 Of Those Light-Bulb Moments

It is certainly not my intent to turn this into a food blog. But right now, seems like my entire world is revolving around the garden and food prep. The more we share, the more they bear so getting creative with our produce is an entertaining new challenge.

I had a totally random thought over the week-end. One of our favorite cool weather meals is Smoky Bacon Chili over baked sweet potatoes. That particular recipe uses a can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes so I try to always keep some on hand. But, on Sunday, a light-bulb moment occurred. Why not try my hand at making some Fire Roasted Tomatoes? I’ve never done it before, but how hard could it be? Right? Turns out, not difficult at all.

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Ready for the grill.

I fired up the grill, selected a dozen or so uniformly sized tomatoes and washed them up. It occurred to me, then, that this might also work well with salsa peppers too, so, as long as the grill was going anyway, why not?

It is a very simple process, really. Just keep turning to char each side of the vegetables and then cover with a towel to steam and loosen the skins.

Once done, pop in bags and freeze.

Not a big deal, but I was kind of excited. I’m not a canner. Never have been, never will be. But I love to experiment with new things and now we can look forward to some home-grown fire roasted tomatoes this fall. So, what’s up next?

Well…this morning I picked some nice banana peppers (Ken’s favorite) and plan to experiment again tonight. I’ve made stuffed bell peppers before but never stuffed banana peppers, so on tonight’s menu…Cheesy Stuffed Banana Peppers. Also plan to make another batch of that delicious Oven Roasted Grape Tomato Pasta Sauce today and then, the pièce de résistance…a big batch of homemade fresh Bloody Mary mix for Labor Day at the Lake.

That should keep me busy for a while. Guess I better get at it.

Later.

Re-Inventing Pasta Sauce

Well, I have been working on re-inventing retirement for the better part of a year now, and a few weeks ago I talked about how we have been re-inventing one of our favs…pizza

This morning I woke up thinking about the bowls full of perfectly ripe grape tomatoes we have been picking almost daily and decided I wanted to try something different with them. There were way too many to just throw into salad, so I decided to make pasta sauce. But, I didn’t want to make just a juicy pan-cooked sauce. I wanted something different. Here is what I did.

I took out a large sheet pan and put as many grape tomatoes as I could fit in a single layer on that pan. I also had a handful of sweet, baby onions that Ken had dug a few weeks ago, so I washed and peeled those to add to the pan. Then, I smashed a half dozen cloves of garlic and threw those on…drizzled olive oil over all and seasoned with salt and pepper.

I popped the sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes to get the mixture nicely carmelized. In the meantime, I went out and cut a bunch of nice fresh basil to throw into the sauce when I blended it.

I was so pleased with the results. It was nice and thick and absolutely delicious. Now, how to use the sauce. I had just picked a spaghetti squash as well so decided to make spaghetti squash casserole…another one of our favorites. That would allow me to also use some of our bounty of peppers. So, basically, a spaghetti squash casserole is cooked spaghetti squash with your choice of additional ingredients. This time I used Italian sausage, three kinds of chopped peppers, chopped onion, my freshly made sauce, a handful of grated Italian cheese, and some mozzarella to top it off, just because.

It was delicious…and pretty healthy too since you are eliminating all the carbs in the pasta. Another version of this that we love is Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole. There are plenty of sites where you can find these types of recipes, but one of our favorites is Paleomg.com

So…still loving the freedom of retirement, the time to do what makes us happy including working in the garden, and the fun of experimenting with different ways to enjoy the bounty that we have produced. If you happen to try this sauce, let me know what you think. In our house, it’s a keeper!

Later.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD

When I set out to do my best to reinvent retirement, it never occurred to me that one of the things this would involve would be our eating habits. I mean, ever since I was diagnosed with cancer I have focused on healthy eating. But, over the last several months, we have entered a new adventure of experimenting with the Paleo lifestyle. We are not fanatics by any means, but lean toward this lifestyle whenever possible. And what is fun is that both Kelli and Matt are doing the same thing so we are constantly texting and sharing recipes. The last couple of nights have been phenomenal.

First Kelli shared a recipe she made that sounded so good it turned out that we and Matt and Sara both tried it on the same night…Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Zucchini Noodles. IMG_2034It was unbelievably good and we will definitely make it again. It is Zoodles with a sweet red pepper and goat cheese sauce to which we added broiled garlic shrimp.  What’s not to like…right?

Tonight we experimented with a recipe that Matt sent…Buffalo Chicken Casserole. Crazy good and unlike anything we have tried before. It is spaghetti squash with chicken, veggies and eggs plus HOT SAUCE.IMG_2037

It is so uplifting to have the time to research and experiment with new cooking venues. I love to cook. I love knowing exactly what is going into my body. I love that Ken is getting into not only experimenting with new healthy lifestyles but also is getting into assisting with the process. It is healthy and it is social. It is FUN!! I may, from time to time, share additional recipes that we experiment with. It is a NEW twist on life. It is another example of Reinventing Retirement.

Later.

Smoky Bacon Chili

Smoky Bacon Chili – love the stuff. And, I just happened to mention that on Facebook last night. I had actually forgotten the fact that it is a Paleo recipe until my son Matt reminded me.

So while walking on the treadmill this morning, I got thinking about that. My treadmill time is my quiet time. It’s when I think about things I should be doing or writing, etc. I’m kind of weird that way. I don’t work out to music or reading a book or watching TV. I like my quiet time. And, this morning I realized two things. One – right next to the treadmill is an elliptical, which never gets used. I tried it a few times right after we got it and found it very difficult. It has just sat there quietly next to the treadmill ever since. For years! So, I decided that this year I will give it another chance. I may or may not change my opinion of it, but everyone deserves a second chance, right?

And, while I do a pretty good job of preparing healthy meals, I’m sure I can do better. So, that brings me back to the Smoky Bacon Chili. It is a Paleo recipe and I sort of do Paleo but sort of don’t. If you’re not familiar with the Paleo lifestyle, my understanding of it is that it means reverting back to the foods that our bodies were meant to consume and to process. This means, I think, eating seafood, meat from animals that have been properly raised, vegetables, fruits, nuts and healthy oils and fats. Doesn’t sound too bad. It also means avoiding all grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, refined or hydrogenated oils and processed foods. That’s the part I’m not necessarily crazy about.

But, I want us to enjoy retirement to it’s fullest, so one of my new projects this year will be spending time trying out more of the recipes that support a healthy lifestyle. If a recipe contains wild and crazy ingredients, it won’t make the cut. But, if, like Smoky Bacon Chili, there is nothing about it that is not to love, it will. And, we will still eat grains sometimes and legumes, too, for that matter. I love my yogurt, so dairy stays too. I WILL give the elliptical another shot, but I will never be a workout fanatic nor will I be a diet fanatic. However, a little effort is better than none at all. Right?

So, last night was Smoky Bacon Chili. Tonight, maybe a chopped seafood salad. If you’re interested in the chili recipe, check it out here. You can just scroll down past the crap about the purse if you want. And, if you’re interested in learning more about Paleo, check out Against All Grain. I’m not a big fan of the few baking recipes I’ve tried, but there is a lot of good, healthy eating here. Let me know how it goes.

Next up, oil pulling!! 🙂

Later.

A Bit More Fit

I’m feeling just a BIT more Fit today. Why?

Well, it’s been nearly two years now since I bought my Fitbit and not once, in all that time, have I reached their magical goal of 10,000 steps in one day. OK, OK. I know that many of you are gasping in disbelief since you blow that number out of the water on a daily basis. But I’m embarrassed to say that I never have – until yesterday.

I have come close many times, but have never gone over the top. So, reaching that goal was added to my bucket list. For those who don’t know, when you join Fitbit, the default goal they set for each member is the magical number of 10,000 steps a day. And, apparently that is not a number that they just pulled out of the air. The Japanese first started using the 10,000 steps a day number as part of a marketing campaign to help sell pedometers. Since that initial campaign, however, medical authorities around the world have agreed that 10,000 is a healthy number to aim for.

IMG_1357So when I woke up yesterday, I decided that was the day. And, there it is. For me, this is not necessarily a goal for each and every day. It is more of a symbol… kind of like “This is my fight song – take back my life song.” I had somewhat of a routine when I was working. Not a great routine, but a routine, nonetheless. We had a walking moai at the office which I would try to participate in whenever possible. I made it a point to take the stairs rather than the elevator whenever we had meetings or training upstairs. But, now I’m out of that routine and I need to establish a new one. So, that is what I plan to do. Yesterday, I broke through that 10,000 step mark. Not a big deal for many, but a milestone for me and I’m owning it!

Later.