I've Got Produce


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My dad stopped by this evening to borrow one of my big pots. My mom's cooking some veggies and wanted to use one of my pots. I gave him some of my bean & barley soup and some oyster crackers to share with my mom. While he was outside, I decided I'd better go check out my garden. (Actually, it was only after my dad asked me if I had any more cucumbers that I decided to check out the garden.)

The first thing I noticed is that one of the jalepeño peppers had turned red and fallen off the vine. Then I noticed a couple of the roma tomatoes had started turning red. I saw three and picked those. Oh joy! Then I saw a small celebrity tomato that had started turning red. I picked that one too. The bottom of that one was a sight, but dad said to just cut that part off and eat the top half. We'll see about that.

Anyways, I would have more to show, but I gave my dad the first two roma tomatoes. Maybe they can make a really small salad and use those! Yeah, tomatoes!!!

Time to Eat


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It's time to get back on track with my eating schedule. I had a few meals planned out that didn't get prepared, and I didn't honestly feel like putting a lot of time in today's meal, so I decided to make a quick soup.

I decided to make a Bean and Barley Soup; recipe as follows:

Ingredients:
1 can of cannellini beans
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 can of beef broth
1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup of frozen chopped spinach
1/4 cup of quick-cook barley
olive oil
black pepper

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot. Sauté onions, celery, and carrots until tender. Add broth and water and bring to a boil. Add can of beans and barley. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. In the last five minutes of cooking, add spinach and pepper to taste. Serve with crackers or garlic bread.

Rekindling the Photo Bug


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I know it's been quite some time since I've discussed photography. It isn't that I've forgotten about it. Hey, I'm still trying to pay off the camera that I'm using! It is that my schedule has gotten a little more complicated and now that I've learned the difference between taking pictures and making photographs/images, I tend to take less "pictures" until I have the time to devote to getting it right - or at least venturing away from the automatic features.

Today I stopped by my parents' house and I noticed some peppers that they were given were sitting out. Fortunately, I had my DSLR camera with me. It was unfortunate that I didn't have my tripod. I've learned that the use of tripods really does make a difference.

At any rate, after I went back home and got my tripod, I decided to explore taking pictures of these beautiful peppers they had in the kitchen. I made my backdrop out of some sort of linen I found in one of the chest-of-drawers and then I snapped loads of pictures of the same subject. There are so many of the exact or near-exact position that I'll have to look with a closer eye to see which one(s) I like the most.

Here is a cropped version of one of the pictures of the peppers:

I've decided that maybe I should do somewhat like one of my art buddies. He made a pact with himself that he would draw something everyday. That's a bit much for me, but maybe I could try and make at least one photograph a week. That way I can develop the skill.

Well, it's getting late and after staying up until the wee hours of this morning working on this grant I'm applying for and then getting up at 5:00 A.M. to go walking (notice I didn't say jogging), I think I need to call it a night.

Sweet dreams!

All Dressed Up and No Place to Go


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I'm up. I'm ready to go jogging. I look outside, and it's raining. Oh, well. More nap time for me!

Shoe Hunting


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I've noticed some discomfort on the ball of my right foot underneath my big toe. Maybe it's due to this bunion that's been trying to form for years. Maybe I need better shoes. Maybe it's both. Who knows. I think I'll invest in some more shoes to see what happens. I'm still paying off the podiatrist for a bone spur removal earlier on that same foot. I'd rather pay 60 bucks (or more) for a pair of shoes.

So now I'm thinking, how do I buy a good pair of running shoes? Most sales clerks that I encounter don't know the products they sell. Maybe I should qualify that statement a little, because I don't want to offend. Most sales clerks that I encounter don't know the products they sell. Where I live, many of the clerks are teenagers and usually when I ask a question, the response is, "I don't know" and then I'm left on my own to find the answers. It's been no different with purchasing shoes. My jogging buddy bought some new sneakers last week and is somewhat dissatisfied with her purchasing experience. She went to an athletic shoe store and the clerks just pointed her in the direction of the running sneakers and she was left to make a decision. I don't want that for myself.

I heard about this store called Fleet Feet. The salespeople there are trained to help you find the pair of shoes that fits your foot structure and your function. I don't know if the shoe prices are higher because of this, but I'd sure love for someone to help me out. I guess in the meantime I'll use my old sneaks!

Yes, I Did Jog


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I didn't blog yesterday, but I did want it to go on record that I did jog yesterday morning.

I spent many, many hours in preparation for work and I didn't end up going to bed to around 1:00 A.M. (I'm working still to quit doing that, but it was necessary to make that first day back to work successful.) In my mind I was going to try and jog after hours, but my jogging buddy wanted to go in the morning, to keep our routine going. (In fairness, she also went to bed earlier than I.) I conceded and went out jogging. We went a little earlier yesterday (around 5:15 A.M.) because we had to get back home and out again to go to work earlier than we did on last week. Personally, I needed to be to work around 7:00 A.M.

We had to "cheat" a little and not do the Day 1 as it was outlined. I'm sure we'll have to make it up later. This is Week 9 - the final week in "The Program." Day 1 of Week 9 consists of walking briskly for 5 minutes and then jogging for 30 minutes. We ended up repeating Day 3 of Week 8 because we didn't have enough time to complete all 30 minutes, do a cool down, and stretch. But we did exercise, and that's what counts, right?

It was kind of humid out, but I still pressed on. We separated a little on yesterday, and I think I did all right, all things considering.

Not Over Until It's Over


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My family and my close circle of friends have been dealing with some sudden tragedies lately and it's been difficult. My dad and I went to visit one of our long-time neighbors/friend in the ICU last night. It was very hard to see him in the hospital in a state so far-removed from how he normally appears. But even when things appear bleak to man's eyes, I'm learning that God is the One who has all of the control. He's the One who holds life and death in His hands. We can't always go by what we see to make judgments; we just have to pray expectantly and wait to see the outcome.

Now this may appear to be a strange response to what I wrote above, but after we left the hospital, my dad had been telling me that he knew I finally had a cucumber in my garden. A cucumber that I've been searching for for days and have not yet seen with my own eyes. Last night, Dad was determined to show it to me. He shined his car headlights on the garden and plundered around until he uncovered this cucumber. Then he showed it to me. Like I said before, I had been out there many times looking for that cucumber that I could never find. All I saw was the cucumber leaves starting to turn yellow, in spite of the blooming flowers on the vines. Well, after completing my exercise this morning, I went out to see the cucumber again. And there it was; plain as day. My dad called while I was out there and I told him, "Dad. It's just not over, until it's over." It looked like all hope was lost for those cucumbers, and just by producing one, it gives hope that more will come. So oftentimes you can't judge by what it seems like with the natural eye because our insight is very limited. God is the One who knows all things.

Have a great day!

Keeping My Shoelaces Tied


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This morning my jogging buddy and I went out to complete our Day 3. I'm still jogging about 2 miles, but I noticed this week that I haven't been pushing myself like I did before jogging so early in the morning. In part, I think it's due to the fact that it's not as lighted and I don't want to be too far away from my jogging buddy for safety reasons. I know that I could do better also because in the past, after completing one mile, I would pick up the pace a little to push through that second mile. This week, I've been jogging at the same speed (if you want to call it that) the entire time. Today on the last lap before the time was up, I pushed through and I knew right then I could have been jogging at that pace for the last few laps. I think I may re-do my Day 3 this weekend if I get the opportunity, but I need to make sure that I keep my shoelaces tied!

Life is Happy...Hear the Birds


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The alarm clock rang out at 5:00 A.M. sharp this morning. Although I turned the clock off and went back to sleep for a few minutes, I was out of the house and on my way to our jogging spot by 5:30 A.M. This time, we chose to jog in a more lighted area. Call us the safety patrol. We jogged our 28 minutes. I didn't calculate the distance this morning, but I'll be sure to do that on Day 3.

This jogging program is coming to a close, but what I have realized is that I look forward to those days when we do go out. And, although I typically don't like to get up and get out when it's still dark out, it actually feels....refreshing. It's so quiet out and it just feels like you're not in anyone's way, you don't have to listen to any crazy talk from anyone. The only noise you might hear besides the rhythm of your own footsteps against the pavement is an occasional car passing by or the chirp of crickets. It's calm. And I like that.

Well, I believe that I'm off to a good day today and I hope you all have one too. :-)

A Word for the Wise


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Today was a very loooonnnnnggg day! Work started off with doing a lot of teambuilding activities at a local 4-H camp for half of the day and then we were in meetings for the second half of the day. After I regrouped, I realized that I would have to push myself to go get a few things from the grocery store, or rather Walmart, in order to be able to prepare the meals I had selected for this week.

Before I headed back out of the house, I knew in my heart of hearts that I would not be making that baked tilapia dish that I had planned. So here's my word for the wise: Never go grocery shopping on the day you have to prepare the meals needed with said grocery! I don't really like buying too many take-out foods, but I decided to make a compromise with myself. I would buy take-out, but it would be as close as I could get to what I had intended to prepare. And that's what I did. So tonight, I'm feasting on broiled flounder, steamed rice and vegetables, and a half of a baked potato. A roll and small tossed salad also came with this meal, but I'll save the rest for tomorrow's lunch. Or maybe not. I might have to eat it for dinner because it's nothing like smelling something fishy in a meeting. And there's another long one tomorrow.

I hope to get to bed early again. I plan to work some on my job's website, read a little, and then call it a night.

Sweet Dreams!

Off to a Fresh Start


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Last night I made myself get in the bed early. I was in bed by 10:00, but I wasn't really sleepy. I pulled out the book, Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez, I had started reading earlier that day and decided to put in a couple of chapters. Around 11:00 P.M. I'd decided that I'd better just turn off the lamp, close my eyes and see what happens. And then, I was asleep. Until 5:00 A.M. I couldn't believe it. I actually got up at 5:00 A.M.

My jogging buddy called and then we discovered that it was a little dark out, but around 5:30 A.M. we gave it a shot anyways. Thankfully, we completed Day 1 of Week 8, which is to jog 28 minutes after the 5-minute brisk walk. It seemed much easier in the crisp air, but I was careful to watch my step because the trail wasn't well lit in a couple of places. It's amazing what you think you hear in the dark!

Now that I'm back, I've put a load of clothes in the washer and I'll be able to eat my hot breakfast of oatmeal and a boiled egg. Yum. Yum. Then, I'm off to the first day of work. We're meeting at a 4-H camp to learn about teambuilding.

Have a great day!

The Value in Planning


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I know that many times life can be unpredictable and that we have to learn to be flexible, but at this very moment I'm finding the value in planning (some things). For the last hour, I've been planning out my weekly meals. It has been an awfully tedious task that I hope gets better with time, but I'm trying to stick to my health and nutrition goals even though I'm about to start work again and fall into the fast-paced, potentially stress-filled schedule. I don't want to regress.

So, I started a weekly meal guide through Meals Matter. I began first by completing a Food Personality Quiz. It's a really simple multiple choice quiz that lets you see what types of meals you like to prepare, then the search engine gives you a list of recipes in Meals Matter that fit your personality. It just narrows down your search. After I got a couple of ideas, I made my weekly meal schedule, repeating some meal options like breakfast and lunch, and then allowed the computer to create a shopping list for me. I deleted the items online that I already have in my pantry or freezer and then printed out a printer-friendly shopping list to take with me on tomorrow.

Maybe by doing this faithfully, I'll have a variety of quick and healthy meals at my disposal. And perhaps I won't fall out of love of cooking anytime soon. I know way too many burnt out cooks (mostly moms)!

Saturday's Dinner


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So my mom kept her word and cooked the squash from my garden. Usually she sautés it with onions in a cast-iron frying pan, but because one of the squash was old she decided to use this other method of sautéing the onions and boiling the squash. Don't tell her, but I prefer it sautéed, but I'm not cooking it, right?

I decided to take a little nap today, which is something I rarely do, because then I can't sleep at night, but I decided to do it anyways. Somewhere in between the tail end of "Scrubs" and something that appeared to be "The Phantom of the Opera" my mom called and invited me to dinner. That's an invitation that I wasn't hardly going to turn down. I really didn't feel like cooking today.

When I got over there, I looked under each pot lid before making my plate. We've never been big on eating together as a family, except for major holidays or when everyone comes home. (That's something I would likely change if I ever have my own family unit.) But since mom was on the phone and dad was just getting in, I went on and made my plate. Eventually dad came in and mom got off the phone, but by then I was well on my way to being half done. (Remember, I eat extremely slowly. I'm always the last one done eating. Always. And especially today because a piece of my very expensive crown broke off! Eating on one side of your mouth is intense. I'll have to call the dentist Monday.)

Mom made chicken and rice, cabbage, corn on the cob, squash, and homemade cornbread. It was quite tasty!

A Garden of Plenty


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I haven't blogged much lately about my attempt to be a gardener this summer and that's because of the limited supply of actual produce. Up until 15 minutes ago, all I could attest two was two zucchinis. Oh yes, there are lots of green tomatoes, but their growth seems to be stunted and not one of them has ripened yet. All of those glorious yellow flowers on my cucumber plants have yielded nada. The jalapeños are about the size of my pinkie fingernail from the tip to the first joint. That won't hardly make a zesty salsa.

Then more rain came. The green leaves on all of the plants seemed to flourish beyond belief. I was having such a difficult time finding a place to walk because of all of those leaves, but still no more produce. My dad came back in town today and his answer for all of my garden's woes was, "more fertilizer."

He's planning to put more fertilizer out on Monday, but I was pleased to see that when I checked on my little garden plot a few minutes ago.....I saw not one, but two yellow squash. One had been out there a little too long and was huge. I guess I overlooked it in all the big squash leaves. The other one was just right.

I drove down to my parents house to let them see and my mom graciously agreed to cook this first fruits. I hope it turns out quite tasty. I can't wait.

Until then...

It's old, but it'll do!


This yellow squash is just right for eatin'!

Searching for Mr. Right (Vitamin that is)


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Every year I have a blood profile test done. The local hospital always hosts a health fair in the fall and for only $25 you can get a complete blood screening. It's wonderful and it beats paying all that money for getting all those areas checked. At any rate, I usually bring my last year's profile to the fair so that when the doctors and LPNs are explaining your results, they can compare it to the previous year's results to see if things are changing.

I have to admit that more than once I've been told to eat some bananas (for potassium) and that I was borderline anemic. I do realize that oftentimes the test data is skewed in that each ethnic group has its own set of numbers. What is considered "normal" for one group is not necessarily the same as another group. But anyways, I do want to do my part in getting out of the yellow. (The doctors always highlight the "abnormal" in yellow.)

Since I don't swallow pills, I was directed to this wonderful multivitamin, liquid multivitamin I might add, made by Nature's Plus. It's called Source of Life Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Supplements with Whole Food Concentrates. Wow, such a long title. Anyways, it's packed with all of these vitamins and minerals and for those of you that are vegetarian, it's also vegetarian. I started taking this particular vitamin after my dad endured two consecutive rounds of pneumonia last year and was presented with this vitamin to boost his immune system. After taking it myself for 2 weeks, my doctor checked my blood and said that my count was going up!

The downside to this wonderful supplement is that it has to be refrigerated. That makes traveling difficult, so with all of the moving around I was doing this summer, I wasn't taking my vitamins like I should. This week, I finally ran out of my last bottle of Source of Life and I didn't want to go out of town to The Vitamin Shoppe where I normally purchase this product, so I had to go to the high-priced local vitamin and herb shop in town. As fate would have it, they were all out of my product, so they suggested an even better liquid vitamin - VM-100 Complete by Buried Treasure. They said it had more mineral supplements than the one by Nature's Plus and this one was cheaper. Although I was trying to read the label while the shop owners were talking, two things I didn't see on the label this morning were potassium and iron - the two things I was really needing!

When I visited one of my aunt's this summer, she gave me some of her supplement. She takes Green Vibrance by Vibrant Health. It is also packed with nutrition, although it also does not have any iron in it. My aunt mixes hers with soy protein powder, so there's some iron in that. I have a little baggie of that mixture that I keep in the freezer. One scoop of this added into your favorite beverage is all you need, and it doesn't taste that bad either. The downside to this supplement is that it's expensive.

The vitamin shop owners told me that whatever I end up taking (vitamin/mineral supplement), that I should rotate maybe every quarter of the year so that my body doesn't become immune to it. Now I know that when I take the VM-100, I better make sure I eat my bananas and liver or iron-fortified cereals!

A Work in Progress


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I went out this morning to complete my Day 3 jog. And, I did. However, I had to run on yet another "trail." It was roughly 0.2 miles and I say roughly because I drove around it and my car only calculates to the tenth place, so it could have been slightly a little more. Anyways, I got my 2 miles in (not including the walking part) although I had to go over my time by a minute. I see now that I need to pace myself differently. I see this exercise thing and more importantly becoming a better me is always a work in progress.

I've Been Baking


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I made some different types of oatmeal cookies on yesterday. Actually, I split the batter and then added new ingredients to make "different" cookies. Here's one of the original ones - Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies. The recipe came from off of the inside of the Quaker Oatmeal lid. I made my variations from that recipe.

The Curse of the Knee and other things


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Ok, so I did go out this morning to complete Day 2. For the record, I did complete something, even if it wasn't quite up to par. Let me begin by saying, that I got in really late last night/this morning and I was tired. I don't know if that talking alarm clock didn't go off or if I (in my sleepy state) turned it off and got back in the bed. I have no recollection of either. Needless to say, I ran a little late this morning.

When I got out on that track (with my jogging buddy this time) I could tell that it would be a slow day. I also could see why I needed that day in between Days 1 and 2. This is the only week in this program that I'm having to jog all three days consecutively. I don't suggest it.

Well, like I said before, I did complete something. I completed 8 laps, which is regression, but in truth I was jogging more slowly than I usually do and my left knee was acting quirky so I had to walk a couple of times. My dad's side of the family is known for a bum knee. I'm not saying that this left knee of mine is it, but I'm just saying that we've been known to have a weird knee thing going on. I probably need to check out my form again and get some rest.

So what's the bottom line for me: Rest between runs and run properly.

Now I'm off to eat my breakfast and get ready for today's activities!

I'm Back


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I've been gone from my blog for a few days, but now I'm back. Monday and Tuesday of this week, I was in another workshop. Very informative, but needless to say I didn't get my Monday run in. I thought I'd use the fitness center in the hotel, but by the time we got out of our sessions, I was zonked! Then I thought I'd squeeze it in on Tuesday evening when I returned. But when I got back home, it was already dark. Wednesday will be the day, I said to myself as I checked the alarm clock before going to bed. Nope that wasn't going to work either, I surmised as I looked at the heavy rain pouring down Wednesday morning.

This is all why I have been inactive. But today, there was no rain, only heavy fog, and I was able to go out. The worker guys look like they'd finished their jobs and I was able to jog in peace. My jogging buddy did her Day 1 on Wednesday. She has a treadmill. So, I was alone today. I got my two miles in, although my timing was a little off. That could be contributed to the fact that I had to run a little out of the ways, since the construction crew built something to cover up a part of the original trail and also because I took a few seconds to throw my jacket in the car. It's okay though because I don't do comparisons until I reach Day 3. The current week's Day 3 is when I want to beat my previous week's Day 3 distance.

In terms of my eating pattern, I'm still working on that as well. I think the jogging makes me hungrier. I just have to be better prepared to make sure that I don't go backwards to bad eating practices.

A Piece of Me Is Online Today


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One of my photos is online today only. I review recipes at Allrecipes.com and then take a picture of them. I submit the picture along with the review. Anyways, the Recipe for the Day for the Slow Cooker page features my picture. I'm kreativekuisine. The recipe is for spicy hot chicken legs, but I used chicken breast the second time I made this dish. The chicken breast picture is what is featured. Just sharing. Here's the link: http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Main-Dish/Slow-Cooker/Chicken/Main.aspx

Later.

Oh Joy!


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This morning, the alarm clock started ringing way before I was ready to get up, but then my running buddy called me to see if I was up. So, I was up. (You see I'm still struggling with this getting out of the bed dilemma even though I've discovered that I can get up much faster on those running days. Go figure.) Anyways, after last night's heavy rain, the temperature had significantly dropped. Even as I write this, it's only 72 degrees out.

I was a little distracted as I was driving to our running spot because I wanted my camera so badly. There were so many images that I wished I could capture in pixels in this early morning setting while the dew was still out. Oh well, maybe another day.

When we got to our place, the workers were out. This time I noticed that the structure they've been working on all summer covers up part of the trail that we use, so this spot may be off limits for us. Needless to say, we ended up jogging on the adjacent lot.

Again, it felt good to have someone out there with me, even though I'm learning that sometimes you'll have to go alone. When we did our 5-minute brisk walk we went on and separated, without saying a word. Maybe we knew that we'd be jogging at different paces. I don't know, but we did.

I was amazed that after 5 laps (1 mile) I didn't feel like I needed to push through any negative emotions like I did on previous occasions. Maybe the dropped temperature helped or maybe it was that my running shoes had dried since I washed them this week and I could wear them instead of those other ones. I don't know, but after 1 mile, I began to get excited.

I looked down at my watch and knew that if I didn't do anything else but keep the same pace that I would actually make the 2 mile mark. (I forgot to mention that today's routine was walk briskly for 5 minutes and then jog for 25 minutes.) After the ninth lap, I knew that I might just be able to go a little further than two miles. In my mind, the 5 minute brisk walk shouldn't really count in terms of calculating how much you jogged. So I told myself that if there was a possibility, try to step it up just a little to squeeze in an extra lap, making it a total of 11 laps.

After the tenth lap, I looked at my stopwatch and I had about 2 minutes left. I might just be able to do it. I don't know if I want to consider this running, but let's just say that I did pick up the pace a little. I was even able to almost catch up with my running buddy who was about half of a lap behind me. I remember yelling to her, "You can do it. Only about 20 seconds left and you'll have your two miles!" So she picked up the pace and I picked up the pace. She got her two miles in (including the 5-minute brisk walk) and I ran over about 22 seconds, BUT, I got my extra lap in so today I have officially jogged 2 miles (not including the brisk walk part)!

I called my dad on the way back home and he was like, "Hey, maybe y'all should do a marathon!" The jury's still out on that. I laughed and told my dad to have fun on what he considers a breakfast "date" with my mom, but what my she considers "just an appointment." I won't go any further with that one. My family. That's a whole other blog!

Image: http://hlperson.com/mt/archives/Smiley%20Face.jpg

Does Age Really Matter?


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I wonder if it's true that as you grow older, you acquire different taste buds? When my brother and I were kids, there were some foods that just didn't taste good to us. But unlike modern parents today, we had to eat those foods anyways. There weren't all these "options" like kids have today. My mom did try to make a few allowances though. I remember her making cheese sauces to drizzle over those veggies that seemed so disgusting. So there wasn't broccoli without cheese. Grits were always accompanied with a spoonful of sugar. And although she didn't make this, if I ever ate nuts there was always some chocolate around them - like in a Snickers bar or a cookie.

As I got older I began to like broccoli (without the cheese), squash is the absolute best now (especially with some onions or mixed with zucchini), grits don't have to have sugar in them, and just recently I've started liking almonds. Not covered in honey, salt, or roasted some special way. Just plain old almonds.

I wonder what other foods I might just start liking? Beets? Ugh!

The Danger in Running Alone


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I had to run by myself today. And the worker guys were out again. Of course that meant running in a different part of the lot. Shoot, now that meant that I couldn't use the laps to calculate mileage. Oh well, maybe I can get there earlier on Friday or go on Saturday to do Day 3. Day 3 is jogging for 25 minutes. I want to know if I'll get my 2 miles in.

For today though, the agenda was to walk briskly for 5 minutes, jog 10 minutes, walk 3 minutes, and then jog for 10 minutes. So far I've found myself going through the same cycle each day: excitement at the beginning, a little weariness in the middle, pushing through the weariness, and finally excitement at the end. I don't know if that's normal, but that's where I am - normal or not.

I could have gotten hit by a car today, but thank God I did not. On the alternate path, there's a small portion where you have to run on the curb. When I got to that part, a car was using that lane to pass another car so the passing car ended up behind my eyesight. It was strange to feel the warm wind off of that car as it passed by. I wonder if the driver even saw me. At any rate, I'm just thankful - thankful that I didn't miss my step and fall into the road (even just a little), thankful that the car was completely in the lane and not running over into the margin, thankful - period.

The heat is so intense that I can't and do not choose to stay out in it very long. I need to try and get up earlier so I can be out running earlier. Today I did have my Powerade drink (not that soda from the other day!). Staying inside and doing anything - cleaning, organizing, washing dishes, whatever - is better than being out in this heat. So, let me make use of my time and get going.

Gardening is Not for the Faint-hearted


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I'm moving to a new location on my job - a trailer. I'm actually excited about being outside and away for a while, but at the present I'm envious of those indoors with power. No power = No air conditioning! My dad and his entourage came over to try and install some shelves. They put a couple of them up and called it a day, after about only 30 minutes of work. It was that hot.

I went back home and discovered that it was a little cooler outdoors than it felt in the trailer, so I decided to put a few moments in of garden maintenance. Since I had been gone last week, some grass crept into my garden plot and the tomato plants grew up so much that they needed to be staked. I staked three tomato plants on Saturday and I planned on staking a few more on today.

I don't know who started that rumor about people of color not needing sunblock because that's really not true. I sprayed myself down with some Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion and then applied another layer of Off! Smooth & Dry Insect Repellent. I put on my scarf and straw hat, grabbed my hoe, my tomato cages and I was ready to tend to my garden.

I tried my best not to disturb the bees. I do want them to keep doing their job. I began first by pulling up grass and chopping with my hoe (Hey, there's probably some strength training in that!). I staked up a few plants when I noticed a few things about my squash and zucchini plants. One, I noticed that I had another zucchini ready to be picked. Two, I noticed that something is killing the other squash and zucchini fruit. The leaves on the plants are growing wonderfully, but it almost looks like a fungus is attacking their produce.

I went back inside to get my Seven Dust and sprinkled it on all of my plants. Then I called my mom. She suggested that I call the Cooperative Extension Agency and ask if there is something I could do to save my squash and zucchini plants OR should I chop them down and treat the soil in that area so it doesn't affect the rest of my crop. Those precious cucumber plants are doing too well to be eaten up by some culprit. Can I get at least one tossed salad this summer?

Never Go Shopping While Hungry in the Hottest Heat Ever


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The lazy part of me would not allow me to go back outside this morning and run some errands, even though the sensible side of my brain kept saying, "You know it's going to get really hot." Why do we keep listening to that little version of us on our shoulders that tells us to make wrong choices? Well, you know which one I listened to.

I went out in what I consider sweltering heat and once I got downtown I asked myself, "How many of these errands are really that important?" Then I scratched a few things off the list. Who needs milk anyways?

Not going to the grocery store proved really soon to be a mistake. First off, I was already a little hungry when I left the house. Big mistake. At one of the discount stores I really did look for a Gatorade or something of the like to help combat the thirst/heat problem, but all I saw was a bag of Doritos (on SALE) and a Coke near the register. The funny thing is I really don't drink that many sodas anymore. I usually can't even finish one bottle, so it's such a waste to even buy one. (3/4 of the remaining soda is still in my purse.) After about the 5th or 6th Dorito, I didn't even want that either.

As I drove down the highway to my next essential stop, I realized that there really weren't any fast food places that appealed to me. Greasy burgers, fried chicken, or french fries. Burger King, McDonald's, Sonic, Wendy's. It doesn't really matter the place; it's all about the same. Plus in hot heat, my appetite for things like that (especially meat) dissipates quickly. All this pickiness is probably why people assume that I'm thin, but really is just genetic until about 40 or after the women in my family have their last kid. I'm in neither of those categories yet, so I'm holding on for as long as I can.

Well, in spite of all of the other bad thinking, on my way home I thought to stop by 'Las Palmas' - one of the newer taquerias in town. A friend of mine told me that the horchata there was really good too. I also figured that while I waited on my order, I could go to the little shop in the same strip to purchase a calling card to El Salvador. Since I'm going meatless today, I decided to order from the vegetarian menu. I ordered a spinach enchilada with cheese, rice, and beans. Oh, and a large cup of horchata.

Let me tell you, although I did wait until I got home to try the enchilada, I couldn't hold out until then to taste their horchata. Fabulosa! The vanilla, the cinnamon. I wish you could taste it. Well, the enchilada didn't taste half-bad either. Each enchilada was stuffed with spinach, onions, and yellow squash. The rice had carrots, corn, and little green beans in it. I know that I shouldn't have waited so long to eat between meals, but this dish sure beat those burgers and chicken sandwiches any day. I'll be sure to go back to 'Las Palmas' again. And as for the calling card, the store was closed. I've been having trouble getting the right card lately - maybe I'll just write a letter and call it a day!

Clearing One's Mind


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I completed Day 1 of a new week's workout this morning. It seemed much easier after Saturday's 20 minute jog. Today's workout consisted of a 5 minute jog, 3 minute walk, 8 minute jog, 3 minute walk, 5 minute jog after of course the 5 minute brisk walk. Although my jogging buddy was with me today, we ended up getting separated because we were jogging at different paces. It felt good to have someone out there, but I also now realize that each individual has to exhibit his/her own amount of self-motivated drive in order to complete any task. That's true in other aspects of life too, you know. Sometimes or often many times we have to walk alone and we have to have the strength to be able to do so.

I noticed today that in those times when I was jogging alone I really couldn't focus on too much except what I was doing - jogging. That's probably a first for me. I've got one of those minds that's almost always on "ON." Probably a serious side-effect to being a heavy duty multi-tasker. Anyways in that regard alone, I think jogging may prove to be a good outlet for me. I've been looking for one for quite some time...

I Think I Can... I Believe I Can...I Know I Can...I Can!


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Last night I had every intention to do a little work before kissing the pillow, but before I knew it, I was out. And before I knew it, my cellphone alarm was ringing telling me it was time to get up. It's Saturday and it was only 7:15 A.M. Why should I have to get up? So I pulled the covers over my head to try and block out that sunshine, but about 15 minutes later, another alarm clock that I forgot to turn off in the bathroom started talking! "The time is 7:30 A.M. beep beep The time is 7:30 A.M.," she chirped. That was it. My Saturday sleep-in was officially over.

When I got up to turn that talking clock off, I remembered that I hadn't finished my Week 5 routine. Now I was motivated. I hurriedly got ready, slapped my hair in a ponytail, grabbed a water bottle and set off for my running spot. I made sure that my stopwatch was working correctly and that I didn't let it brush against me while running. I didn't want a repeat of Week 5, Day 2.

I did my 5 minute brisk walk in 1 lap around the track. Then it was time for the 20 minute jog. It took me a little while to get focused, find my stride and breathing pattern, but once I discovered it, I was good to go. I also pushed negative thoughts out of my mind like, "Can I do this by myself?" and " Will I be able to make it to the end?" I told myself not to worry about the time, but just set a goal and go for it. Once I jogged around the track the second time, I said to myself that I wouldn't look at my stopwatch until I had completed the 5th lap - which makes a mile. After that goal, I told myself, "All you have to do is make one more lap." I said that each time to myself until I had jogged my 20 minutes. But you know, when the 20 minutes was up, I was in the middle of the lap and that perfectionist side of me said, "You can finish this lap. Even it up." So I did. When I finished, I was 2 laps shy of 2 miles.

I could tell that there was some more in me. I could have run a little farther, especially when I told myself, "Just one more lap." Positive thinking. There is a scripture that relates to that principle. It states, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..." (Proverbs 23:7) It can be interpreted that you become what it is you say and believe about yourself - good or bad. If you keep telling yourself that you can't do something, then your mind believes it and you're hindered by that and you aren't able to accomplish that goal. So, like the little engine that could..."I think I can, I believe I can, I know I can...I can!"

Quick Garden Update


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As soon as I drove into my backyard, I stopped by my little garden patch to check it out. Besides the grass that I see invading that I'm going to have to pluck up, I noticed that the tomato plants have grown tremendously. I'm going to have to get some tomato cages. The other thing I noticed it that I have some tiny baby tomatoes growing - Celebrity and Roma!



That's it for now. Like I said, this is just a quick garden update. Have a great weekend.

The Last Day


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Well, today was the last day of our retreat. We packed our cars early (I actually started loaded mine last night so I could sleep in a little later) and turned in our keys. Afterwards, we met in the commons area, sat around in rocking chairs and had a debriefing session. People shared their favorite times and their experiences with one another. This reminds of what people probably do around a campfire. I don't actually know because I've never been camping, but it seems like what people would do.

In situations like this, there's ALWAYS a crier. Always. Never fail, somebody starts talking and once you hear that crack in the voice, they're a gonner. I was right. But in situations like this, there's always a wise-guy. So you know, once a good joke gets cracked, those tears dry right up.

I really enjoyed this experience. The weather was kind to us and the mountains are just beautiful. I plan to take this knowledge that I've learned over the week and put it to good use. Pat even recommended a book to me to explore food photography. Actually, the subject of the book is not on photography, but on southern culture, history, recipes, and the pictures just help bring it to life. I plan on purchasing that book and I know my mom would love it to. It's entitled The Boathouse: Tales and Recipes from a Southern Kitchen. The photographs are amazing.

Even though I enjoyed myself, there's no place like home and I'm glad to be back.

Cub Says Goodbye


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After our second session at Grassy Creek, we all signed up for times in the computer lab to select our 5 best photos with the help of our two photographer teachers, Pat and Cub. For me, it wasn't that hard to narrow down the selection. The hard part comes if you have so many good pictures that it's hard to decide. In about 5 minutes, I picked out my 10 best shots.

Cub, commented as I scrolled through the pictures saying things like, "Ok," "Good," "Interesting," "Ummm" and so forth. I could tell by his body language and comments which ones he was going to pick. And, I was right.

Tootie, one of the facilitators, put together this really moving presentation using everyone's 5 pictures. Then she surprised us by creating a show of Pat and Cub's favorite pictures. Some of their pictures included pictures of us (the students) trying to make photographs. Cub even got a picture of me taking pictures of my food. That got a good laugh from the rest of the participants. The different expressions in the photographs were amazing too - from frustration (How do I work this camera?) to excitement (I finally think I got a good picture!) to exhaustion (Man, carrying this equipment up these steep hills ain't no joke!) to relief (Finally, dinner is served. Yes!). Stuff like that is what makes people cry. Not me, but I know I heard a few sniffles in that amphitheater.

After our show, Cub had to say goodbye. He had to get back to Oregon and so he left an evening earlier. I really enjoyed being his pupil and hearing his stories of how he evolved. It's great to hear other people's life stories. Well, it was time to say goodbye to Cub, but I do have an autographed copy of his book Beginner's Guide to Nature Photography as a source of inspiration.

Grassy Creek II


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Early Thursday morning we went out to Grassy Creek again. On Wednesday evening when we were there, I spent most of my time in and around the log cabins because I knew that I wanted to get particular outside shots during the early morning. No, I wasn't one of the ones climbing slippery rocks and risking their lives to photograph a mini waterfall and no I wasn't one of the ones chased by a swarm of hornets either. I played it safe. At most, there were some aggravating bees and I saw some poison ivy - that caused me to give up on this shot I had been planning.

I spent my morning attempting to photograph some swallowtail butterflies. I see with some subjects, you have to be really patient and really quiet. I wasn't particularly pleased with my butterfly photos, although there were a couple that were better than the rest. I did, however, get a chance to pick up some butterflies. Someone else in my group photographed me doing that and so I don't actually have the picture to prove it. You'll have to take my word for it. That was a cool experience though.

Remembering one of the photographer's instructions about photographing subjects from different perspectives, I actually laid down in the brush and photographed a Queen Anne's Lace flower from underneath. I had to hurry though because we were warned about watching out for snakes.


After our photo shoot, we gathered around the porch and wrote some haiku poetry and shared it with each other then we ate lunch -a bag lunch. Lunch was nothing like the bag lunches at school. Remember those icky peanut butter sandwiches and the carrot sticks or apple? These bag lunches, on the other hand, were turkey wraps. The wraps tasted like they may have been cheddar jalapeño wraps. Baked Lays chips were served along with a pickle, a cookie, and of course, an apple! I don't think there was anyone out there who really finished their lunch. It was a bit much.

All in all, I had a great time!

Cherokee and Grassy Creek I Photos


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This group has been keeping me so busy that I haven't had time to upload more pictures until now....Now that I'm home. :-)

Here are a couple of shots from my Cherokee experience:


Here are a couple of shots from my Grassy Creek evening experience: