Monday, February 28, 2011


Some of the quilts I have made...
David - queen sized

Robert - queen sized

Ben - first quilt, child sized

Chris - child sized

Daddy - twin throw

Wall Hanging for Robert

Joshie - child sized

Mark - twin throw

Miranda - child sized

Mom - oversized lap quilt

Queen sized for NC loft bedroom

Lyla - child sized

Miranda - child sized

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Raining Frogs!

This is my favorite time of the year!  Just before daylight, I could hear leopard frogs making their squeaky sound in the pond this morning amongst a chorus of  hundreds of spring peepers.
Spring Peeper

As a child, we sometimes got tiny frogs - lots of them - in a spring shower!  We thought maybe the eggs evaporated into the clouds, hatched, and rained down.  Maybe a water spout from the river was the culprit?
Baby Bull Frog

Monday, February 21, 2011

Amlose Free Diet


I read Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker's very difficult to find book, Lose the Weight You Hate.  It is a rambling book, filled with unnecessary case stories, so I condensed it down to three pages, which I know could be reduced more, but I think you need some explanations on why he allows some foods you'd never expect, like corn.  The only case story you need is mine: Age 53, post menopausal, 5’2” tall and lost 10 of the 35 pounds I plan to lose in three weeks.  I never felt hungry or denied.  This is the easiest diet ever!

Amylase in saliva breaks amylose down into glucose, which is stored as fat.
No Amylose prevents rapid rises in blood sugar and keeps insulin from making fat.
·         Calories that are most efficiently stored as FAT comes from a particular type of complex carbohydrate (amylose) which the body quickly breaks down into simple glucose.
·         By avoiding those foods that trigger sudden rises in blood sugar – foods high in amylose and other sugars – we can reduce the efficiency of fat storage.  As you create less fat, your body will be forced to mobilize the fat storage for energy, a process which will result in weigt loss. 
·         By preventing surges in blood sugar, this diet short-circuits the “starvation response” and thus inhibits “protien wasting” …which is the culprit responsible for re-gaining lost weight.
·      Choosing low-glycemic Index food will also prevent over-production of cholesterol, helping to reduce blood pressure and control diabetes in many patients.

A “diet diary” monitors your intake.  Keep a close eye on your eating patterns to ensure healthy nutrition.  Those that do not keep a log usually fail to achieve their weight loss goals.


THE NO-AMYLOSE DIET   -   The “00-2-3” Rule
0 amylose
0 sugars (glucose or sucrose), corn syrup, and maltodextrin (found in low fat foods)
2 servings protein (at least 6-8 oz) each day
3 servings fruits each day
3 servings of low-glycemic index/amylose-free (above ground) vegetables each day

Skipping meals will not help you lose weight!  About starvation dieting: eating less/skipping meals triggers a starvation response that sets in whenever we skip meals or eat significantly less than our usual amount at any given meal and produces an artificial fasting state.  The next meal consumed will be absorbed and retain many more nutrients (especially fat!).  If you are not a breakfast eater - consuming a handful of grapes, an apple, or a piece of ham in the morning to avoid the insulin-controlled starvation response and tells your brain you are not starving. 

If you want to, plan a Diet Holiday every couple of weeks to enjoy something you’ve been craving, like some pasta or a slice of cake at a birthday party.  This is a satisfying way to quell the denied feeling most dieters experience.  You may find that after a few forksful of the fantasy food, it turns out to be just a fantasy, and that you really don’t feel compelled to eat the entire plateful of lasagna after all.

THESE ARE HIGH IN AMYLOSE AND NOT ALLOWED – eat nothing made from wheat, rice, oats, barley or rye.  No bagels, bread (not even the healthy kind), cereals, muffins, pasta, potatoes, sweets, honey, bananas, sugar, low fat or healthy choice usually has sweeteners added. No vegetables grown underground, defined as a root or a tuber (including, but not limited to radishes, carrots, all potatoes, including sweet potatoes, and peanuts).  NO Bananas and no store bought fruit juices (contain sweetners), low fat salad dressings (sweeteners), Avoid eating any fat you can “see” and any fat that turns solid at room temperature. No cakes or pies, sugary soft drinks, chocolate. No french fries.

·         Only two vegetables grown underground are allowed: onions and garlic.
·         Some of the allowed vegetables include: cucumbers, celery, lettuce (iceberg has zero nutritional value), zucchini, eggplant, brussel sprouts, peppers, lentils, corn, peas, and all the bean family – navy, string, lima, soy and all the rest
·         Some of the allowed fruits include: apples, pears, plums, peaches, oranges and grapes, raisins, prunes and freshly squeezed fruit juice (no added sugars).  NO BANANAS ALLOWED!
·         Protein always acts as an acceptable option, when selecting a snack or maintenance transition food on this diet. Choose meats that are lower in fat. (be careful with saturated fat in pastrami, salami, and bologna).
·         Butter and whole milk and creams are OK  Raw is better than pasteurized.
·         Nuts that grow on trees: cashews, almonds, pistachios, but read package labels to avoid sweeteners.
·         Cream of mushroom and cream of asparagus soup are milk-based, and are harmless in terms of blood sugar rates.  Same with tomato soup – provided you can find one with no sugar added
·         OK are pickles, artichoke hearts, olives, cheese, condiments, spice
·         Popcorn and baked corn chips (beware of sugary coatings and fake cheese coatings) You can put butter on popcorn.  Watch the microwave ones, they may contain sugar.  Pop the plain salted, then if I want, drizzle real butter.
·         Coffee, tea, sugar free sodas, sugar free Popsicles, s/f jello
·         Quinoa ( is a wonderful food that I use as a replacement for rice and also as a breakfast cereal.  Warmed, with cream and Splenda added, it tasted similar to cream of wheat with the texture of some tapioca tossed in.  For dinner, plain quinoa has a wonderful nutty/rice flavor, and can be mixed with other foods like onion and garlic, as you would couscous.  Cook like you would rice, shorten simmer time to 15 minutes.
Breakfast  - Enjoy as much fruit at as you wish.  Include some protein, like eggs and cheese.  In a pinch, get a sausage biscuit, throw away the bread and pat the fat out of the meat with a napkin.
Lunch – Have a good salad, but no low-fat dressing.  Add some sliced ham, turkey, roast beef, or tuna.  Or have a chicken caeser salad.  Have a cup of soup, but avoid noodles and vegetable soups that include carrots, potatoes, or barley.
Afternoon snack – Fresh fruit, butter-free popcorn, or baked tortilla chips (guac or salsa are okay too!)
Dinner – Protein (a steak, chicken breast, broiled fish) along with two different kinds of above-ground vegetables (for example, lima beans and butternut squash or stewed tomatoes and fresh corn on the cob)
Spices or Condiments – No restrictions.  Use good judgement when using yogurt or cheese as flavor-enhancers because of the concentrated amounts of milk fat, sugar, corn syrup and maltodetrins.  Read labels. (low-fat yogurt is loaded with high-fructose corn syrup.  Ketsup too.)
Alcohol – Drinking alcohol actually causes blood sugar levels to drop.  Beware that tonic water is loaded with sugar, and alcohol carries 7 calories per gram.  You are allowed up to two mixed drinks (no sugar!) or three 4-ounce glasses of wine or four bottles of beer (head for the low carb brands, like Mich Ultra) per day.

Breakfast – tomato juice, canteloupe slices, coffee the way you like it, huevos rancheros.
Lunch  salad: chick peas, olives, artichoke hearts, extra turkey chunks, green peppers, sugar-free lemonade
Dinner  garden salad: tomatoes, blue cheese, mushroom, avacado, and Sweet Sausage Casserole (recipe follows), fresh peaches and pears, sugar-free iced tea.

Once you’ve met your weight goal, on MAINTENANCE you can add to this to the Sample Menu:
(Insulin 10, 1 Amylose per day)
 Maintenance uses the low-glycemic index diet, “0-1-2-3”
Breakfast – add two slices of toast
Lunch – no change
Snack – Tostidos and salsa
Dinner – buttered garden peas
 Suggest you find a list of Glycemic Index (GI) values.

SWEET SAUSAGE CASSEROLE (Dr. Shoemaker's recipe.  It has flour, go figure.)
Brown one pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into small chunks.  Let simmer, then drain off excess fat and pat dry with a paper towel. Toss with one tablespoon flour.  Saute in butter: 6 cups sliced zucchini and 1 cup chopped onion.  Add 2 tablespoons flour and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Mix in 16 oz. cottage cheese, 1 cup parmesan cheese, 2 beaten eggs, the meat, and place in prepared casserole dish.  Bake 325F for 30 minutes. Top with 4 oz. cheddar cheese, bake two more minutes to melt cheese.  Serves 6

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Clear Away Winter, Welcome Spring

It seems like you could garden in Central Florida year-round.  Florida is never buried in snow, averaging only three freezes a winter, which usually lasts only a few hours.  The tropical foliage really suffers when the temperatures dip below 60F, so although the weather seems great (read: not frozen), our tender plants cannot tolerate the grooming it so desperately looks like it needs.  Once we are safe from cold snaps, Floridians have a small window of time to get those flower beds back in shape before the mosquitoes arrive and intense heat and humidity strikes.  Now is the time and here is a sample of what I plan to work on this week:
Our blue flowering plumbago have died back to foot-long dead sticks, but a patch of green leaves are sprouting at the base of each nearly dead plant.  These are the best plants for my sandy soil; full sun, drought and heat tolerant, and they survive winter and come back in happy, bushy, flower covered mounds.

I was given two hydrangea plants just before winter and decided to wait until spring to plant them.  They look a little scroungy right now, but once they're in a shady place and given lots of water (hydrangea means "water lover"), they should thrive.  I think the plants I received are blue booming.

Beautiful red amaryllis and fragrant Easter lily bulbs are growing and green shoots have already begun to grow.  Once in bloom, they will peek up over the plumbago.  I don't do anything with these bulbs, just leave them alone year-round in the ground and we usually get dozens of brilliant blooms around Easter each year.

A woody evergreen bush called the yesterday, today and tomorrow plant grows at the end of our front porch and is ready to bloom bloom bloom!  It has intensely fragrant flowers that bloom deep purple, fade to a pale lilac a day or two later, and finally turns white for a few days before falling off.  The scent is so strong, it's overbearing if you stand too close to the flowers.  I'm glad we planted this at the far end of the porch!  I keep watching for shoots to transplant, but just never seem to find any.  Momma gave me a baby in a pot (again, just before winter) and it is ready to be planted.  I'm wondering where I should put it?  NOT near the front door, but close enough, so we can enjoy the pretty flowers and fragrance from a safe distance.

Each year I put annuals under a small viburnum tree.  I think I'll plant colorful mounding impatiens this year.  I wonder if I can keep them moist enough?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Mouse was in the House

When we were little girls, my sister Patty and I loved to visit Kings, a humongous department store on University Boulevard.  While momma was downstairs buying a bath mat or tissues or school supplies, Patty and I always headed upstairs to visit the pet department.  This was the early 1960's and parents and kids weren't afraid of strangers, because everyone was nice back then and we were safe.  That, and the upstairs was more of a balcony and we could look down and search out our mother anytime we wanted.  Being very well behaved, as most children of that time were, the adults didn't mind the two little girls, probably holding hands, and wishing for every pet in the store.

We would oooh and ahhh over the turtles, goldfish and hamsters, but on this visit, there were tiny and adorable baby mice.   She was thrifty and, other than a penny in the gumball machine, momma didn't buy things on a whim. We probably had a couple of cats, a dog, and maybe an adopted raccoon or opossum in the yard or garage, plus Patty and I had access to a bevy of warty frogs that we diapered with toilet paper squares and tiny gold safety pins.  Well aware that momma would say we didn't need to add to our animal menagerie, Patty and I stayed upstairs, faces glued to the glass aquarium crawling with the most adorable mice we had ever seen.

Except a parakeet, pets may have visited inside, but they were never allowed to live there.  We had inside visitors, like when we brought a cat in.  We would put a kitty in the living room coffee table.  The doors were like a jail cell that closed with a strong magnet and a plate of brass.  The captive cat would reach his paws through the wooden spindles to slap at the feather or string we teased him with.  The cats would play and when they tired of our torture, we put them back outside where they'd stretch in the sunshine and take a well-deserved nap.

Momma came upstairs to collect us, and Patty and I were in mouse mode.  "Oh please, please, please!" we begged.  "They're so small and cute and there are little cages and besides, Julie and Susan have a hamster!"  They must have been adorable, because momma surprised us and bent to our pleas.  The smallest ones were the absolute cutest, and because we thought that we would get to enjoy our pets a little longer if we got the youngest ones, Patty and I each chose a mouse that was barely past the 'pinky' stage.  We were so excited!

I can't remember if momma bought a cage or we brought our mice home in a tiny cardboard box and reassigned a bird cage.  I do remember having a wonderful afternoon, playing with our tiny new pets, and setting up their mouse house.  We didn't want to go to bed that night, but knew there was more mouse play in the morning, so with the cage in our bedroom, we went to sleep.  What a disappointment the next morning to find an empty cage!  Our mice were so tiny, they slipped between the bars and were on the lamb!  Momma helped us search our bedroom, and we set out food and hoped to find them enjoying a meal and then catch our little escapees.

After a few days, we probably forgot their names.   After a week, Patty and I gave up on ever seeing our mice again and reassigned the cage for frog play.  And although it was probably less than a dollar each mouse and $3 for a cage, momma surely mentioned that this was all a huge waste of money as we hunted for change for the popsicle man.

Momma was active in the Junior Women's Club and a church circle.  Never would we have believed that the mice would hide out undetected and only surface when company came over.  It turns out, ladies' groups were a big draw for mice, and they would peek over the edge of the cornice boards to see what was going on, then run down the drapery for a visit.  Momma was mortified and felt that her friends would think that we had mice-mice, and so she pretended they didn't exist.  If the ladies ever noticed a darling little brown mouse with white spots and another mostly white one with a big gray saddle-spot on his back, they politely didn't say.

I don't know what happened to the mice.  Patty and I hoped they squeezed under the front door to live happily ever after in nearby woods.  Momma probably baited mouse traps after her little girls went to bed at night until she was doubly successful.  This is exactly what I would do in this situation today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Battling Shower Mold and Soap Scum

Our bathroom shower is so big that we don't need glass doors or a shower curtain. It's like stepping into a gym shower, a thousand 4 inch-tile squares that attract soap scum like a magnet and invites mold to grow like it's a hothouse. Keeping that shower clean is a chore, and although I've done the weekly swoosh, some deep cleaning was needed badly.

An entire squirt bottle of Comet Bathroom Cleaner, a scrub brush, a toothbrush, plus a lot of elbow grease went into cleaning my giant bathroom shower. I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. I got dizzy, took a break to let the chemicals work, then went back and scrubbed some more. Finally, I took down the squirter part of the shower head and washed down the whole stall. All my effort was in vain. It looked like I hadn't even begun to clean.

Back to the drawing board! On went my little laptop, and I knew just where to go -! In the thrifty home section, after scanning past all the stinky bleach suggestions, I found what I was looking for!
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 2 cups hot water
Mix borax in very hot water (it doesn't completely dissolve), then add vinegar. Slosh this mixture in shower, then scrub scrub scrub! 

Holy cow!!! The stain on the shower floor is gone!  I made another small batch to get the bathtub, sinks, and toilet sparkling clean.  Finally, I made a paste of Borax and vinegar to spread on the more stubborn mold in the shower corners to soak in for a while, then scrubbed it off.

An advantage of vinegar over bleach is that vinegar leaves an invisible residue behind that kills mold and the Easter egg smell leaves when the solution evaporates.

There were a lot of things I wanted to get done today. Instead I played in the bathroom all afternoon.  I have come to the conclusion that we either need to replace all the tile or get the grout replaced.

I'll have David clean his bathroom.  I'm tired!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superbowl Sunday

Juliet had fun playing football this morning, then the pregame shows came on and distracted her from her game.  I can read her mind, "Hey that guy with the Steelers hat has a football just like mine!"  Go Steelers!