Monday, January 31, 2011

Interesting Frugality Item

Ever wondered how much value you are getting from your library use?
Check out THIS LINK.

On my first estimates, I "save" over 1800$/year by using the library. Actually, libraries. I'm an active use of 2 locations and many more via interlibrary loan. It's not that I would have bought all the books or movies. Or even rented all the movies. So it isn't really "savings" but it does mean that I've gotten about that amount of value for free. I suppose I'll be donating some $$ to my main libraries this year since I now know waht I'm getting out of it.

This will be a short post (from the Plummer Public library computers actually) as it is a gorgeous day and I have comp time built up so I'm headed outside.

Monday, January 24, 2011

2nd TP or Not TP Survey Results

This person didn't request anonymity but let's call her "Gram" just to maintain her privacy.

So, "Gram" had quite a bit to contribute. She grew up during the 1920s and the depression in NE Iowa along the Mississippi River. I mean like NEXT to the river.
She said that even those who could "afford" TP used catalogs. This included her family.
She babysat for other families and remembered corn husks (watch the direction of use as they get sharp), corn cobs (that had to be grim when they were dried out), and leaves. Wow.
I think given the choice between a corn husk and a rock, I'd be likely to go for the rock. Husks are serated on the edges and have all sorts of little stiff a SCRUB BRUSH. OW.
Gram and also discussed that cobs would tend to take up quite a bit of room in the outhouse pit. Poo does too but poo tends to decompose and shrink as it dries or settles. Corn cobs are pretty stable. Maybe heavy cob use meant more frequent redigging of the outhouse.

She also noted some other interesting bits for those thinking of rocking it old and outhouse. Make sure the well is dug through bedrock (easier in Iowa where the bedrock is limestone than here where the bedrock is basalt) because then floods from the river, even those causing the outhouse to overflow, will not contaminate the well. A shallow well near a flooded outhouse is a recipe for getting sick.

I asked about folks using cloth and she said that she didn't remember anyone doing that, but that certainly diapers were washed out and reuse and reused and reused. She also agreed that if washed well, there is no medical or germ reason to avoid using cloths and washing them.

Other tips: Watch out for tularemia if you eat rabbit. I had not heard of this before but apparently there was a bit of an epidemic when Gram's dad, code name "Great Grampa" was a kid. Rabbits were the vector so he would not eat rabbit. Fortunately they had other options even if these were occassionally things like squirrel and/or raccoon.

Farewell My Hamster-bine

Just letting folks know...Hammy passed away between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon.
There was a nice service with a water burial in the St. Joe River. (too many stray dogs around to bury him in the yard.

Friday, January 14, 2011

First Results from the TP or Not TP Survey

I emailed a few people about their experiences in times/places where TP was unavailable either momentarily or just not a "thing" in that part of the world. A good friend emailed back this response (edited and names changed to protect privacy at his/her request).

B. lived in the Republic of Cabo Verde, archipelago off the west coast of Africa, for 3-1/2 years. While there, B. got several intestinal diseases there, including several rounds of
giardia and amoebic dysentery. The amoebas moved in while B. was still with a host family, and one time, B. went to use their modern bathroom in a rush and found to a spasming stomach's dismay there was no TP and B. was alone in the house. B. went anyway, took off the underwear and wiped with them then rinsed the underwear in the sink... probably without soap-- yikes. At least B. had a fresh pair of underwear to put on.

B. states: Poverty is not romantic; it sucks. There's so much we take for granted, including and especially soap and TP.

Another time, B. was without TP and without a seat on the public toilet. B. proceeded to have a terrible bout with diarrhea while half-standing. Yuck. And still had to try to clean up without TP...What B. eventually did at home is what the middle-class locals did: B. had an indoor toilet. B. didn't use paper for Number 1, and did use it for Number 2. Then B. placed the dirty TP in a brown paper sack in the bathroom instead of flushing it.

The poorer locals used rocks for Number 2 and nothing for Number 1. They used the great outdoors for their bathroom. (Jill's Aside: I wonder if they had callouses from the rocks...what are the criteria for choosing a good wiping-rock?...I'm assuming not pointy and as smooth as possible but with enough texture to pick up the offending matter...The rain can wash a rock off better than a scrunched up leaf so one could well be re-using poo-rocks from others. The mind boggles.)

Now B.'s partner X. and B. use a variation of these methods because they have a septic tank. They use paper for both 1 & 2, flushing the dirty paper and keeping the wet paper in a bathroom basket for burning later.

X. adds: Toilet paper is a luxury that will be hung onto for as long as possible.
X. suggests newsprint or rags if one is not using TP in this culture. They are also trying to collect old diapers for various uses around the house.

B. also submitted the lyrics to the following song (Perhaps we can play it on the radio show for Earth Day!)

No Such Thing as Garbage

Here we sit in primordial stew
Doing what bacteria like to do
Although there are billions and billions of us
You will notice we don’t make a muss, ‘cause

There’s no such thing as garbage
It hasn’t been invented yet
There’s no such thing as trash you stash
and then try to forget
There’s no such thing as garbage
We make what we need and no more
One critter’s waste is another one’s
entrée du jour*

We are mammals and insects
and amphibians
Birds and reptiles and fungi, man
We’ve no need for landfills
or stinky trash cans
‘Cause what one of us can’t use
another one can

There’s no such thing as garbage
We’ve been recycling all of our lives
One species’ junk is another one’s lunch and then becomes fertilizer
There’s no such thing as garbage
We make what we need and no more
One critter’s waste is another one’s entrée du jour

Oh remember when humans
were terribly plagued
By the syndrome called
For a few hundred years there
they just didn’t think
Thank goodness that garbage
has now gone extinct

There’s no such thing as garbage
We learned it just in time
Back when the planet
could hardly stand it
we started to learn this rhyme
There’s no such thing as garbage
We make what we need and no more
One critter’s waste is another one’s entrée du jour

* This line, the best in the song, was written
by Adam Levy

© 2007 Amy Martin

Vocals – Adam Levy, Allison Miller, Amy Martin, Bryony Schwan, Janine Benyus, Julie

Wolf, Jon Miller, and Todd Sickafoose
Drums – Allison Miller
Bass – Todd Sickafoose
Keys – Julie Wolf Guitar – Adam Levy

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Apologies to the sensitive for the implied cussage in the title but seriously...WTF!?!?

I was reading one of my favorite websites, and came across this link

How different cultures handle credit cards

I can't get the table to copy over here because it is too big, BUT, I find it fascinating. Scroll to the bottom of the article to see it.

In the US we don't have the highest use of credit cards, but we're up there. The average American in 2010 put $4,236 on credit. Good lord! I put about 1500$ on credit cards between flights and hotels and gas (because I'm too lazy to run inside and pay ahead and then go back in and get my change) but I always pay it off before the end of the month. I can't remotely compete with that figure.

In China the average person put $297 on a credit card in 2010. That's for the whole year. Obviously that is skewed since many folks in China may not have access to credit cards.
France wins with only $267 on average per person on credit for the year! They DO have access to the same sorts of banking institutions that we do. In fact, many of the same banks. They seem to prefer debit and pay-pal for online purchasing and cash or debit for in person purchasing.

The line that column that caught my attention next was the number of credit cards in the US in 2010 there were 686 million credit cards. That's more than 1 for every man woman and child alive! Jesus. Assuming that toddlers don't have their own and fewer than half of middle schoolers have their own credit card...that's enormous. I know plenty of people here who don't have credit cards or even bank accounts. I think I have 2 or maybe 3 that would be counted. Both from banks where I have savings accounts. I used to have a citibank card but hated the service and fees and whatnot so quit using it and one day they sent me a letter saying "charge crap or shove off." Shortly after they sent a letter saying "sorry, don't shove off" but I never heard from them again. I suppose I should do another credit report on myself and see if that closed. If not, I'll close it. I know that will affect my credit score but credit scores are only important if you need credit. I don't. (Yes, they also check them for car insurance but I doubt the liability insurance on my 1 year old vehicle changes much based on one canceled credit card with a zero balance for the last decade.)

ANYWAY, back to the fascinating table of debt.

The final column is also intriguing.
In China, remember 297$/year on credit, they have a savings rate of 37.9%. Wow! I don't think I'm there yet. That rate is from 2007.
In the US our savings rate is....4.3%! What do you people think you're going to live on in your old age? The profits from selling that truck with the fancy rims you put on your credit card? That's AVERAGE which means lots of people save less.

On the upside, Japan only saves 2.3% of household income so we aren't the worst.

I would like to see the chart on average credit card and other unsecured debt in various countries. I'd also like to see the average amount, both in dollars and as a percentage of household income, each of these countries spends on debt service (interest, fees, etc). As both of my readers know, I don't like to pay those sorts of things.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Recipes From The Food Group

So on my lovely vacation (Thanks again Jonny!) Angela (Hi Ange) expressed interest in the recipes from the local food group. I typed them up and will post below with some reviews of the ones I tried and/or made. These recipes are from our pre-holiday community meal to show that holiday foods can be more healthy. This doesn't necessarily mean lower calorie.
Anyway, here goes.

Roasted Winter Vegetables
Preheat Oven to 350. Serves 8

2 large carrots
2 beets (no tops)
2 sweet potatoes
1 red onion
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 white or yellow onion
2 T soy sauce
2 T olive oil (strong flavored OK)
Generous pinch of each: dried basil, oregano, thyme, black pepper, sea salt.
Optional: dash of hot sauce or small pinch of hot pepper

Peel and chop into chunks: carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, onions.
In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and toss to coat.
Transfer to shallow baking sheet and bake 50 min. to 1 hour.
Serve warm. Left overs are good cold tossed into salad greens.
Nutrition facts (from
Per serving: 82 calories. 4g fat. 293 mg sodium. 12g carbs. 2g fiber. 2g Protein.

I loved these! Very tasty and pretty sweet from being roasted. I was about the only one dubious about beets since I find them a tad bitter. I generally use young red beets, striped red/white (striped on the inside), orange or yellow beets partly because these are sweeter and easier to cut up than the giant old red beets, AND because the yellow and orange ones don't bleed that dark red staining beet juice everywhere.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower
Prep time: 15 min. Total Time: 35 minutes. Serves 4-8.

1 head cauliflower, chopped
2 1/2 pounds potatoes, cubed (peeled if you like)
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c butter
1/4 cup milk or cream
1/4 cup sour cream
lots of pepper salt to taste
1/4 tsp paprika
1 head roasted garlic, squeezed out of skins (yes, the WHOLE HEAD).

Boil potatoes and cauliflower together until tender. Drain and mash potatoes and cauliflower with oil and butter. Add rest of ingredients and mix well.
Nutrition facts per serving (at 8 servings) 94 calories, 4g fat, 2s sat. fat, 14mg sodium, 14g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2g protein.

I swear you can't taste the cauliflower, but it does add a firmer texture. So if you hate snotty paste-like mashed potatoes, this is an excellent way to go. There were kids there who were used to eating sugary crap and they loved these potatoes too. They are not particularly low calorie, but they do have a wider variety of vitamins and garlic is an anti-inflammatory and good for the immune system (AND it keeps away vampires).

Spinach Artichoke Dip

5oz fresh spinach, rinsed and stemmed
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

1 1/2 c cooked (or canned) butter beans
(NOTE: cannellini beans OK. 1 1/2 cup = 1 15oz can)
1 c chopped scallions
2 T chopped fresh basil
2-3 T lemon juice to taste

5-6 artichoke hearts or bottoms, minced salt and pepper to taste

Using the water clinging to the spinach after rinsing, stem the spinach until just wilted (2-3 min), and drain. In food processor or blender, puree spinach, garlic, beans, scallions, basil and 2 T of lemon juice until very smooth. Fold in minced artichokes and add more lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.
Nutrition facts per serving: 18 calories, 0 fat. 32mg sodium, 4g carbs, 2g Fiber, 1g protein
(not sure of serving size...sorry)

OK, at the event, I hadn't read the ingredients of this one so I avoided eating more than a couple of tastes since I thought it had dairy in it! This was probably good since I ate lots of the bean-based fudged (see below) and had I added another cup of beans with this dip, there could have been complications. It is delicious and truly tastes like it should. Not like some bean-substitute crap (I am not one who likes fake dairy products). If you can't get or don't have fresh basil, only use a couple of tsps of dried basil to avoid adding a sort of dusty flavor. Even in the dead of winter, there is usually a package of fresh basil in the produce section and I think it would be worth getting for this recipe. Bottled lemon juice will work fine, though fresh squeezed is extra good.

Roasted Green Beans
1 16oz packaged frozen green beans, thawed (or fresh beans if you can get them)
1 T olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
good shake of cajun seasoning
bacon bits (optional)
parmesan cheese (optional)

Place beans on oven-safe pan. Mix with olive oil, minced garlic and spices to coat . Add bacon bits late in baking time and sprinkle with cheese after removing from oven. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes. Stir halfway through the baking process.
Nutrition info per serving without bacon bits(4 servings):
83 calories, 4g fat, 1g sat. fat, 42mg sodium, 8g carbs, 3g fiber, 3g protein.

These green beans were delicious! We left out the parmesan cheese and bacon bits and they were still delicious. As usual, roasting makes things sweeter and takes the sort of squeaky-gritty thing out of the frozen beans. Maybe I'm the only one who thinks that frozen green beans are squeaky-gritty. We were cooking for about 50 people so made enough to fill 2 jelly-roll pans about 1 layer deep. There were no beans left even though only 20 people showed up.

Chocolate Bread Pudding (by Paula Deen)
Cook time: 1 hr. 10 servings

1 (1 pound) loaf whole wheat French or Italian Bread, cubed
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c coffee

1 c sugar
1 c packed light brown sugar

1/4 c cocoa powder
1 T vanilla extract

2 t almond extract
1 1/2 t cinnamon

6 eggs, lightly beaten
3 c milk

8 oz semisweet chocolate, grated (not chips)
Whipped cream (real cream, whipped up) (optional)

Preheat oven to 325

Lightly grease a 9X13 baking dish and place the bread in it. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, cream and coffee. In another bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder and mix well. Add the sugar mixture to the milk mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla and almond extract, and cinnamon to the beaten eggs. Combing the egg mixture with the milk/sugar mixture and mix well.

Stir the grated chocolate into the mixture. Pour the mixture over the cubed bread in the pan. Let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally for approximately 20 minutes or until the bread absorbs most of the milk mixture. Bake pudding for 1 hour or until st. Check pudding by inserting a knife through the middle and it should come out clean. Serve the pudding warm, or refrigerate and serve chilled with whipped cream.
Nutrition facts per serving: 497 calories, 11g Fat, 4g sat. fat, 1g trans fat, 481mg sodium, 83g carbs, 6g fiber, 18g protein.

I am not a fan of bread pudding and only tasted a bit of this since it has a lot of dairy and I'm not a fan of bread pudding. Why waste my dairy allotment on something slightly icky? It was a big hit with the bread pudding fans. Obviously not a "light" or low-calorie option. The "healthy" bit is that the ingredients are all real foods. The chocolate must be high quality. We used ghirradelli which isn't the top of the top of chocolate, but it's what the designated shoppers could get at the giant-mart in Coeur d'Alene. We chopped it rather than grated the chocolate because holding it to grate made it melt in our hands. If the chocolate does not melt in your hand either you are dead and cold, or you have cheap crappy chocolate with paraffin in it and you should not be making this recipe. No, chocolate chips won't do it justice as they generally have plenty of wax in them. A nice belgian or swiss brand of chocolate would do well. Again, I was not a fan because I don't like the texture of bread pudding. BUT many people loved it. Several of the participants were surprised that making whipped cream involved pouring a little carton of heavy cream into a mixing bowl and setting the mixer on "whip" for about 1 minute. It really is no more effort than thawing out the cool whip from the freezer and will clog your arteries with real food rather than "guar gum" (an item found in cool whip and many landscaping products). (interesting how I have more to say about the item I didn't like)


1 2/3c OR 1 16oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 c cocoa powder
2/3 c butter, melted
1 T vanilla
4 c powdered sugar
Chopped walnuts, optional

Put beans in blender or mixer and puree. Add cocoa, butter, and vanilla. Mix. Combine powdered sugar with bean mixture; beat 3 minutes until well mixed. Add nuts. Spread into greased 9X13 pan.
Nutrition information per 1" square:
224 calories, 8g fat, 3g protein, 36g carbs, 74mg sodium

This is another one that is NOT "low calorie" but "low calorie fudge" is also known as "total crap". The "health" benefit is the protein instead of so much fat. Since there are still 4 cups of powdered sugar, it's hardly healthy. We served this and THEN after people said "wow, good fudge" we told them it was made with beans. You do need to use a bean that cooks up to a brown color or the fudge color will be off. Pinto beans have a fairly light flavor so avoided the beany taste folks get when they use garbanzos and they are light brown so you avoid the oddly ashy-black color you get when you use black beans. There was no fudge left at the end of the meal. I would use real butter in this rather than substituting margarine. It has a better texture and helps the fudge set up. Margarine can turn to oil after it's been melted and won't add the creamy texture to compensate for the beans. If you take all the dairy out, then just don't make fudge.

Apple Cake with Carmel Sauce

3 c flour
1 t salt

1 t baking soda
2 t ground cinnamon

1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar

3 lg eggs, beaten
3/4 c milk

2 t vanilla extract
4 c apples, peeled (or not), and diced

1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c milk

1/4 c butter

Preheat oven to 350.

In med bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon. Set aside. Place white sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and stir by hand until well blended. Stir in milk and vanilla. Add flour mixture and stir just until blended. Fold in apples. Pour batter into a greased 9X13 pan or 2 8" round pans. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

To prepare topping, mix all ingredients in a saucepan and cook at a slow boil for 3 min. Pour topping over the cake and return to the oven for 4 minutes or until the topping is bubbling and golden.
Nutrition facts (though don't know how many servings...):
360 calories, 9g fat, 4g sat. fat, 89mg sodium, 61g carbs, 4g fiber, 11g protein.

This cake was delicious. Unfortunately, it wasn't done until late in the meal and we were all full. Folks took servings home though. The carmel topping is instead of frosting (which I rarely put on a cake anyway...too much dairy for the flavor...and you can have like 3 pieces of cake without frosting (and without carmel sauce) for the calorie-price of one frosted/carmeled piece). I wouldn't peel the apples, I would just run them through the big holes on the stand up grater (which no one though to bring). If you do peel your apples, it's nice to through the peels into cold lemon water while you finish the cake, then, take them out and toss with some cinnamon sugar (not much) and spread on a cookie sheet and bake a bit along with the cake until they are dry. They make nice little fiber-filled snacks that taste like bits of apple pie. Please use a nice baking apple, not red or yellow delicious. I know some people like them, but the ones in most grocery stores are basically flavor free and too watery so the cake will come out bland and soggy and you'll end up baking it until the edges are over done. A nice granny smith or any other slightly tart variety. I've used Fuji and Gala in a pinch but I end up adding some crushed dried apples to the mix to get some flavor in there.

Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce
Recipe from Alton Brown

Cook time 1hr. 12 servings.

1 lb frozen cranberries
2 c orange juice

3 c ginger ale
2 T maple syrup

2 T light brown sugar
1/2 t kosher salt

1 orange, zested

Combine all ingredients in non-reactive sauce pan (stainless steel...aluminum will turn the sauce dark), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30-45 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.
Carefully puree with stick blender or in blender until smooth. Check for seasoning.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 49calories, 0g fat, 8mg sodium, 13g carbs, 1g fiber.

This was very good. I ate it on the roasted turkey. We used sea salt instead of kosher (because that is what we had). You could probably use regular table salt, but I'd only use 1/4 tsp then since that salt is more acid and there are several acid elements already in the recipe.

Roasted Butternut Soup

2 butternut squash (+/- 4lbs total)
5-8 cloves garlic

1 lg onion, chopped
4 c vegetable broth

1 lg or 2 small apples or pears, peeled, cored and diced
olive oil regular or non-dairy milk as needed
(a nutmilk is very nice)
Spices as you like (suggest 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp allspice)
Fresh cracked pepper to serve.
Lemon juice to serve.
Sea salt to serve.

Preheat oven to 350.
Cut squash in half, seed. Place cut side down on cookie sheet. Cot top off garlic head(s). Drizzle with oil. Wrap in foil.
Put squash and garlic in oven.

After 30 minutes, carefully turn squash halves cut-side up and continue cooking until soft, about 20 min). Meanwhile, sautee onion in oil in BIG saucepan over low heat until softened, about 10 min.

Take squash out of oven when soft. Scoop squash out of shells and add to saucepan. unwrap garlic and squash the soft garlic out of the cloves into the sauce pan. Add broth. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until flavors blend. Anywhere from 30min to 2hrs. Keep a lid on it. Add water if it gets too thick.

Use a stick blender to puree soup in the pan, or puree in batches in a food processor or blender. If the soup is too thick after blending, stir in a bit of milk until the consistency is correct. Serve topped with fresh ground pepper.
Nutrition facts (per 1 1/2 cup serving):
133 calories, 1g fat, 298mg sodium, 32g carbs, 1g fiber, 3g protein.

This is something I make frequently. Butternut squash is a good deal because there is more flesh and less seed-guts per pound compared to other squash. It doesn't store as well as hubbard or other super hard squash varieties, but I've had a couple last 2-3 months. The cooked squash freezes well (I've got 2 or 3 tubs of it in the freezer now) and reconstitutes well.
It looks like a lot of work, but it's not bad if you're home all day anyway. For this event I roasted the squash and garlic the evening before and should have scooped the squash out while hot. It was harder to scoop out after it had sat in the skins (in the fridge) over night as the skins got soggy and tended to cling to the squash. Still, it was pretty good. The digging the squash out of the skins is the only messy bit. If you don't like digging the seeds out of raw squash you can get them out after it's done roasting and it will be easier. I like to keep the seeds to plant or roast so I take them out before cooking. The texture of the soup is VERY THICK. I believe I heard the word "baby food" a couple of times. I like that. It's similar to split pea soup in consistency. If you like thinner soup, add more broth and/or milk (we used walnut milk which is a bit grey unless you roast the walnuts ahead of time...can do it while the squash and garlic are in the oven) to thin it own to the consistency of tomato soup.
Once people tasted it, it was a big hit. I really enjoy the fact that it is so low calorie and quite sweet. It's an unexpected flavor for a soup. I wouldn't put the apple or pear skins in this recipe since they will always be chewy and the smooth texture is sort of the point.

If you don't want to use apples or pears, you can use carrots, well scrubbed. Either dice them up very small and sautee with the onion or cut them into 1inch chunks and roast with the squash and garlic.

If you don't have a stick blender, I'd start with a potato masher. It's a pain to get it all into a blender and back in the pan. Just make your peace with a chunkier soup.

I'll try to find some of the other recipes from our other meetings and post those now and then.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Resolutions...and Early Failure

OK, not failure but not exactly success either.
At the end you get a quick summary of our special day at the Bowling Alley last night that was fricking awesome.

1) Outside a minimum of 20minutes (in one lump) per day until the Spring Equinox (at which time the time will be maintained or increased). This sounds lame since my job sounds, and sometimes is, outdoorsy. Of late and especially in the dark of winter I find that I walk to work, walk to the post office and walk home. That is my outdoor time and it is not enough. My eyes are turning white. Even the pupils. On Sundays when there is no radio show I've been known to not put on pants much less leave the trailer. Being outside an hour a day (we'll work up to that) no matter the weather is known to decrease respiratory infections, increase health, and blah blah blah. That will also be 20 minutes when I'm away from the delicious loaf of sourdough bread that is always on my counter since I started making my own sourdough again and gained noticeable weight.

2) Yoga everyday, even 1 move. I've gotten out of the yoga habit and do it just now-n-then. The goal here is to get back in the routine and usually once I start, I'll keep going for more than 1 move. Requiring just 1 move keeps it very doable and makes one resolution a super easy success.

3) 8oz of water with every meal. I drink buckets of tea and some coffee, the occasional bottle of kombucha (look it up), and so on. Time to quit being dependent on the flavored waters and get back to water water. Nothing "wrong" with tea but I think having the habit of water with meals helps me drink through out the day rather than 8 cups of tea when I'm chilled and then up all night peeing. That much water with meals may also take up valuable sourdough bread space and hopefully get my thighs back down where they fit in the remaining non-spandex jeans in my wardrobe.

4) Plan a visit with Angela (Hi Angela!). I'm still visiting friends in Denver and Angela unfortunately had to leave a day earlier than me. We hadn't gotten together in 5 years! That's awful. One of Angela's wishes is to travel more and I love to plan travel so here we are. I figured that "travel with Angela" would obligate Angela to meet MY resolution and that's neither fair nor under my control, but I can plan. WARNING TO BREE AND Y-N-FRANK: your part of the country is our first target so we can try to see folks we haven't seen in more than 5 years. WARNING TO Mike-n-Todd: if this goes well, you could be next. There are many unknowns like available time, scheduling issues, finances, and what if we're incompatible the goal is the plan.

I managed the yoga yesterday. Sure, it was mountain pose which is basically standing for a few seconds with good posture, but that meets the goal. Being outside...not so much. The water...well, today is another day (DOH! Forgot water with breakfast! Had coffee and juice. Damn and blast. Here's hoping for lunch.)
The visit planning doesn't have to be everyday, but on the way to the airport to drop Ange this morning, we did talk about locations and how I need specific information about her ideal accommodations to start planning. I'm a high maintenance travel agent.

Hope one and all have had as good a start on 2011 as I have.

Now for the update on Denver-Fun-'10-'11.
Yesterday there was a great deal of napping going on. We had breakfast and then several people not named "Jill" read and took naps. Someone kept Jonny out until the wee hours on new years eve so he was exhausted and groggy. Much better after having his 5 hour lie-down. I blogged and read and relaxed around Jonny's 1950s enclave.

THEN: at 6:15 we headed out into the cold and gloom to meet Jonny's boyfriend Gino (Hi Gino and Jonny) at a bowling alley reviewed on the interwebs as "like stepping back to the 1970s". We all love the kitch. Gino was the one who kept Jonny out until the wee hours but was rested and cheery when he got there at about 7pm. I believe the high score for our 2 games of bowling was 102. I set a new personal best with a score in the high double digits. I'm hoping to break 100 some day. The bowling alley was awesome. The website is most excellent
Surf on over to their "bar and grill" and read the menu. CLEARLY it is a bad cut and paste job from another web site with the names of things served at the bowling alley typed in but the descriptions not corrected from the previous website (which we haven't found yet).
Here are the breakfast options:

Toast & Jelly $.95
wedge of iceberg lettuce with scallions & blue cheese dressing

Muff Yum$3.99
flash fried & served with a tomato vinaigrette

Breakfast Burrito$4.75
made fresh daily

Bacon or Sausage & Eggs$4.25
cocnut crusted with carribean flavors makes this dish an automatic classic

Eggs & Toast$3.25
chili & cumin seasoned chicken with muenster cheese, rolled in a corn tortilla

There is a startling similarity in preparation styles between the Breakfast and Burger options:

wedge of iceberg lettuce with scallions & blue cheese dressing

Double Hamburger$4.25
flash fried & served with a tomato vinaigrette

made fresh daily

Double Cheeseburger$4.99
cocnut crusted with carribean flavors makes this dish an automatic classic

Patty Melt$4.90
chili & cumin seasoned chicken with muenster cheese, rolled in a corn tortilla

Does this mean that only the Cheeseburger is made fresh daily? And why are both the Double Cheeseburger and the Bacon, Sausage, and Egg featuring "cocnut" crusting with "carribean flavors" while the Toast and Jam as well as the Hamburger come with a wedge of iceberg lettuce? I know it's just a lack of cut-n-paste skill, but the result is quite evocative reading. There is quite a bit more on offer.

We had sodas and some of the best fries I've ever had. The grease in that vat is lard and it is HOT. The fries were about 1/2inch thick and were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. That only happens with super hot grease.

The decor at the Paramount Bowl has not been updated since construction so it's quite nice. Hopefully Jonny will send photos for me to post. We were heavily photographed by him during the session. We were in lane 12, the last lane against the wall with the airbrushed logo on the cinder blocks. The ball return is straight from 1972 or so. And the whole lot is underneath a grocery store. It was not crowded, only 3 or 4 lanes in use while we were there. None of this "cosmic bowling" BS where they use flashy lights and strobes and LOUD MUSIC to enhance/ruin the bowling experience. It's just bowling and chatting and snacking. Since we all sucked approximately equally it was fun. We are all lame so three of us were using the lightest ball we could find...a 12 pounder. I could have gone to the desk and asked for a kiddie-ball but that seemed beneath even my skills. Jonny showed off with a 16 pound ball (heh heh). He won. The rest of us competed for "not last" or "not as bad as I've done in the past."

Then it was back to Jonny's '50s Dream House for flaming desserts. Everyone but me had cheese cake. I got toast and jam. The "flaming" part for all of us was a sugar cube soaked in orange extract and lit on fire. It does make an impressive dessert even out of toast and jam (the bread was artisan and the jam very good...I'm not sure any number of flaming sugar cubes could enhance wonder bread and cheap jam but it's worth a shot).

OK, we're having home-made dim sum tonight and I'm supposed to be surfing the web for dip recipes so must sign off now.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lovely Times In Denver

Angela flew in from Chicago (she was supposed to fly in from Dubuque but mechanical problems meant she was BUSSED to Shy-town...yikes. So glad she made it. I jetted south from Spokane. We both joined our friend Jonny in Denver.
He's got a lovely 1950s home that has not suffered the ravages of a sad 1980s make over and thusly has retained all the charm of a lovely 1950s home. I think Mrs. Cunningham does our laundry while we sleep.

Anywhoo. We're just here for a nice little new years vacation. So far it's been amazing.
We started at CASA BONITA!!!

As featured in South Park:

(it won't embed...just follow the link).

I got here a bit before Angela so Jonny and I went and got groceries. Then back to the airport to get Angela and STRAIGHT to the Casa Bonita where we sat in the BACK ROOM! and saw the worst magician EVER which was awesome in its own way. Not the mainstage cliff diver area. We had our borderline inedible meal (as it should be). Just a hint: do NOT get the Shirley Temple. It is sweetened maraschino cherry juice with bubbles, I think they rendered high-fructose corn syrup down to its sicky sweet essence. It added a heady after-shock to the barely edible taco salad I had. The sopapillas with honey were lovely. Next we headed out to the main "restaurant" area Then through Bart's Cave, saw mariachi playing, saw a cliff diver who first juggled flaming something or others, and browsed the gift shop. We all put 50cents and a penny into the souvenir penny-smasher machine and got the cliff diver smashed into the pennies.

After that it was home to the 1950s with Jonny. His house is lovely! It's one of those that is somehow bigger on the inside.

Our next big outing was the Denver Zoo. We were hoping for locales further afield but the weather and time conspired against us. The zoo was DESERTED! There were maybe a dozen cars in the parking lot when we got there and we saw about 20 people the whole time we were there! It was my best day at the zoo ever. No screaming kids. No one jamming into my ankles with strollers, no would-be-gangsta teens, no seniors creeping along in jammed aisles. Just us and a VERY few others. Perhaps the blizzard raging outside had something to do with it. Not all animals were available. The giraffes were not having it. I thought we would miss the water buffalo but Angela called out "you-whoo, Nature!" and they turned around to face us.

Here are a few highlight photos:

First, a lovely starfish! We spent maybe a half an hour just checking out the fish in the sealife area.

The elephants weren't too excited about being indoors and frankly this one looked pretty ancient. Still, we were in their building alone with them, a snoozing rhinoceros and a swimming hippopotamus for ages without interruption and with peace and quiet. It was lovely.

Check out the monkeys! I think they are howler monkeys. We were in a building with mostly lizards and things, but these were there as well. Angela settled herself on the floor to rest her aching feet and these monkeys came up to the screen type fence on the front of their enclosure and checked her out. She called Jonny and I over and the monkeys stuck around! I stayed about 20minutes before the monkeys moved away. They looked at us, at the aquariums (aquaria?) across the way and seemed to enjoy the peace and quiet as much as we did. They literally just hung around about 3 feet from us for that long. No, I did not try to touch the monkey.

I wish I had photographed each meal! Jonny is the best chef I know. We've had sizzling korean rice dishes in stone bowls, homemade and artisan breads. french toast that was beyond belief (mine is always heavy soggy crap), and much much more. I think the worst meal has been my potato soup. I love it a home but it was a bit "off" here and I just can't compete with things like the sun-dried tomato, artichoke, pepper, and chicken white pizza on HOMEMADE dough crusts made on a pizza stone. It was divine. Below is a photo of Jonny's Flaming Ice CCream. Just the sugar cube was actually on fire but still. I did not indulge in this dairy-licious treat but it was tempting.

Other events: We saw 6 new one act plays by colorado playwrights and with local actors at a small theater. Each had its ups and downs but we've been quoting lines from either the plays or the interesting young gentleman seated 2 seats down from me who was enthusiastically enjoying each joke, poignant moment, plot twist and good line. Unfortunately, he was enjoying them about 10 seconds after everyone else in the audience "got it." It was like he was on a delay.

Ange must leave us tomorrow and I go the next day.