Spring Has Sprung – At Last!

Looking forward to fresh offerings like this from my local farmer’s markets soon!

We finally had Spring temps today! The sun shone, the sky was a shade of blue I had almost forgotten it could be, and the birthday lunch I attended this afternoon was able to held outside. I even fit a walk in this afternoon. Beautiful!

Seeing all of the budding trees and rainbow of flowers makes me eager to get working in my yard. It will soon be time to plant flowers and herbs, basil being my personal favorite. Mmmm, pesto and Caprese salads…my mouth is already watering! I also look forward to the seasonal offerings at the farmer’s markets and the inspiration they will provide for future meals.

It’s getting late here, so I’m off to bed to dream of colorful gardens…Good Night, Y’all!

 

Spring in My Steps

Healthy eating! Tonight’s dinner: Branzino, broccoli, brown rice and mixed green salad.

Spring Is in the Air – Isn’t It?

Last night’s chili dinner was the perfect end to this dreary, stretched-out wintery season. I know, I know. It’s Spring. But I think someone forgot to tell that to Mr. Snow Miser (remember “The Year Without a Santa Claus”)? At any rate, I am hopeful that Spring is making its way back to us. Hope springs eternal, eh?

Speaking of Spring…my husband and I are “springing” into action to lose some weight. Our three-year stint in St. Thomas left me with an extra 20 pounds, only five of which I’ve managed to take off and keep off in the two years since we’ve been back. That leaves me with fifteen still to go. Ugh! I don’t need to make a ton of changes in my diet, a few tweaks here and there maybe, but nothing huge. I do, however, need to be more diligent with my workouts. I used to do Nia classes 4-5 times a week before St. Thomas. I started back again this past Fall, ending up with what I suspect is plantar fasciitis, so I eventually stopped. It’s finally clearing up with some stretching and exercises. I’m not sure if I’ll head back to Nia anytime soon, but I recently resumed power walking. I may add stationary cycling to change things up, too.

The Universe Knows All!

I also began yoga for increased flexibility. I started after mentioning to a friend that yoga just wasn’t for me, that I’d never taken a class that clicked with me…told her that I had thrown in the towel on ever being able to do yoga. I swear The Universe works in mysterious ways…that very night —that. very. night. I received a text from a different friend inviting me to join her at yoga the next morning. I read the text and thought, “She must be crazy!” But she had a free pass for me to use and persisted in asking. I found myself answering “yes” that night, and then I found myself in the most serene yoga class the next morning. It was a combination of meditation and flexibility exercises, with a touch of strength training thrown in. Low impact…just what I needed as my feet healed. So I signed up for more.

That Universe! She sure knows how to give you what you need if you just quiet yourself enough to listen.

Filling in the Holes

That still left a hole in my regimen. I get minimal strength training with the yoga, at least in the classes I attend. So just today I added band work to my mix. I’m not looking for bulky muscles. I only need to tone up and keep my bones dense to prevent osteoporosis.  Add in some ab work and back exercises, and I feel I’ve got a well-rounded routine.

My eating probably won’t change much. I have a thing for crystallized ginger that probably isn’t working for me. I’m addicted to the stuff. Once I have one piece, I find myself going back for more…and more. That is something I will not buy so often now. By the way, if YOU have a thing for it, Whole Foods has the best. But I digress…

This is not going to happen overnight, but I also don’t need to do everything all at once. I’ve been eating well for some time. Now it’s time to add in workouts. Power-walking kicked it off, followed by yoga. The next step is strength training. Maybe some cycling.

“Baby steps” That’s my motto…

Chili Weather!

Beef Chili

The weather is as crazy here as it is everywhere else! Yesterday I was sitting outside enjoying a sunny, warm day (82 degrees!); this morning I woke to overcast skies, drizzle every now and again, and 35 degrees. Guess I’ll be getting at least one more wear out of my favorite sweater before it gets packed away for the season.

These temperatures are more “chili” than “grilled Branzino” to me. Obviously I am not the only one to feel this way. We were invited to dinner at a friend’s house tonight – who is serving chili. I’ll be bringing along some jalapeño cornbread and an appetizer to pair with the meal. I’m leaning toward making jalapeño poppers, but I’ll have to see what looks good at the store. I have some fresh squeezed blood orange juice in my fridge, so I think I’ll also conjure up a batch of margaritas from that. It seems to fit a bit better than wine with this meal.

Chicken Chili

Hope you are all staying warm and dry wherever you may find yourself. May this be the last of the cold spell…Cheers!

 

Great Friday…and a Little Whiskey Business!!

IMG_7262Great Friday!!

Years ago I used to hold an all-women cocktail party for my girlfriends on the Friday following Good Friday. I called it Great Friday. Why? Because while Good Friday is, well, good and all that, Great Friday…is GREAT! I think the last one I hosted was back in 2006. Not sure why I stopped. I was reminiscing about it all last night, and decided it was time for another Great Friday.

I believe I may have mentioned I am a Whiskey Girl…I love my bourbon…and sometimes a wee bit of Scotch…and I’m working on developing my taste for Rye Whiskey (it’s coming along nicely, thank you very much!). I decided to keep tonight’s Great Friday small and low-key. So Instead of fancy cocktails I’m serving up whiskey, specifically the Irish variety. I have a couple of girlfriends who are also whiskey drinkers, and we are gathering tonight to sample several in my collection.

Irish Whiskey – A Few Favorites

As a writer, I am particularly fond of an Irish Whiskey called Writer’s Tears. According to their site, “Many Irish writers suffered from ‘Writer’s Block’ and it was said that when they cried they cried tears of Whiskey. Most, if not all of them, sought comfort and inspiration from “The Water of Life” (Whiskey). The relaxing characteristics of Whiskey helped many of them overcome writers block and produce inspired works of poetry, prose and plays.”

Any writer who is also a whiskey drinker is calling out a loud, “Hell yeah!” right about now. (Or is that only me?)

One of my last visits to Ireland I found myself in a pub (as all of ye should be when in Ireland! No better place to find yerself…), and that’s where I first discovered this whiskey. For some reason I didn’t bring a bottle back with me to the States. Upon arriving back home I decided I needed to add it to my collection. This was a bit of an issue since it seems it is not sold here, or at least it is not sold near me. But I was determined. And obsessed. After a hearty online search I finally found a distributer in Germany who was able to ship it to me. Tonight I will sit here happily enjoying a wee bit o’ th’ stuff w/ me lassies. Life is good, eh?

This is not the only Irish Whiskey in my collection. In fact, there are a couple I prefer over this one, namely “Redbreast” and “Green Spot.” I’ve been known to take a nip of either on a chilly night by the fire. Not that I limit myself solely to those times; however, there is something about a crackling fire that seems especially fitting when partaking of a dram (or two) of whiskey.

I’ll leave you with some whiskey quotes:

  • Love makes the world go round? Not at all. Whiskey makes it go round twice as fast.” ~Compton MacKenzie (I have verified this on a few occasions!)
  • Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.” ~W.C. Fields
  • Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” ~Mark Twain
  • I’m on a whisky diet. I’ve lost three days already.” ~Tommy Cooper

I’m off to prepare for tonight! Slainte (y’all)!

La Dolce Vita – Retreating to Italy?

Ah, Italy…l’Italia. Mi amore. This is a place I long for most days. I have a story to tell about this country and my past with it, but that will have to wait for another day. No, today’s post is about what the future holds.

After yesterday’s piece about how we, as Americans, don’t eat in so much, my husband and I decided to head to our favorite local Italian ristorante, Princi Italia. LOL If you follow me on Facebook,  you may have seen that my latest round of blood work shows I may have a gluten intolerance. Since the end of January I have been mainly gluten-free; however, I have broken this restriction on a handful of occasions. One of those times was tonight. I found myself with an immense craving for pasta. I decided that if I was going to break my no-gluten policy then it might as well be for great pasta. And this place makes their own pasta – from scratch.

We drove there, though technically we could have walked. It’s nice to have such a fabulous place so close. Our favorite waiter, Giovanni, worked tonight. Yes, he is from Italy, and we always enjoy practicing (or is that butchering?) our meager bits of Italian when he is around and willing to listen.

Recently, I signed up for a writing course. What does this have to do with pasta? Stick with me…Though the course begins in May, there is an opportunity to attend a writer’s retreat in October, headed by the person in charge of the department. Did I mention it’s in Italy? Sigh… Specifically, the retreat will be in the Le Marche region. This area is near to my heart in so many ways. We visited many years ago and fell in love with the area. Soon after our visit, we learned that my husband’s grandmother was born in the exact town we both felt the strongest connection to. That is the story I will tell later…in a separate post. Don’t let me forget!

The more pasta I ate, the more determined I became that I would attend this writer’s retreat. I look at it as fate. It’s a writer’s retreat; I write. It’s in Italy; I was Italian (in a past life). It’s in Le Marche region; my husband’s grandmother was born there. It’s in mid October; my birthday is then. Fate for sure!!

And I am surely not one to tempt Fate!