Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Loaded Tuna Boats

Old El Paso Soft Flour Tortilla Bowl 8CtA few days ago I had a hankering for tuna fish, again. But, the usual old sandwich sounded a bit boring. So, I remembered seeing an ad for Old El Paso soft flour taco bowls and decided to try some. I stopped by our Maryville Hy-Vee store to pick up a package. I decided I would make tuna boats for lunch today. 

I had most of the other ingredients I needed from a previous shopping trip: red and green bell peppers, Claussen Hearty Garlic Deli Style pickles (in the cooler by the lunch meats), a red onion, Nature Sweet Cherub tomatoes, fresh cucumber, Miracle Whip, and some lemon pepper seasoning and garlic salt. 

Claussen Hearty Garlic Deli Style Sandwich Slices Pickles

I diced up about a tablespoon of each of the pickles, bell peppers, red onion, and the cucumber and added them to a bowl, except the tomatoes, which I halved. I added a 2.5 o.z. packet of tuna fish to the veggies and 2 tbsp of the Miracle whip, adding a dash or two of lemon pepper seasoning and some garlic salt.

Stir, stir, stir, and then divide in half and add to the soft flour taco boats. You could add other stuff, like shredded cheese, or put a leaf of lettuce under the tuna mixture, but I decided not to do so for this launch. You could also leave the tuna naked and just drizzle Kraft Cucumber Ranch dressing over everything, if you don't have the Miracle Whip. I've tried the tuna mix that way before and it tastes great.

After the tuna mix was in the taco boats, I topped each with three halved grape tomatoes, and sprinkled on a bit of black pepper. There you go. Tuna boats for the eating. With the added ingredients, there's enough for two.

Grab a fork, just in case. While you can pick these up and eat them with your hands, they get a little mushy. If you want to crisp the bowls up before you add the tuna mixture, you can pop them in a toaster oven or regular oven on 200 degrees for 3-5 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want them. Watch them carefully so they don't burn.

Norpro Nonstick Mini Tortilla Taco Salad Bowl Bakers New Set Of TwoIf you have a set of the tortilla bowl pans, like these, you can use the Old El Paso soft flour tortillas and make your own bowls, too. You can get a set of two through Walmart or get a set of four through Amazon. Either way, the tuna boats are going to be tasty.


 *Note: I am not an affiliate of any of the products linked on this page, nor of the retailers of the products. Just sharing the boat project.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Where Am I Going Wrong?

I've been trying very hard to stay with the fruit/veggie/protein balance thingy to keep blood sugars under control, but I'm going wrong somewhere. Maybe I should be eating all the forbidden stuff and leave the lettuce, bell peppers, diced onions, and the tomatoes to the rabbits, and leave the tuna in the sea. I'll stop grating frozen lemons into my water, and leave the frozen fruit for the morning smoothie in the freezer. Who needs them?

Armour Lunchmakers Ham Cracker Crunchers With Nestle Crunch BarI figured tonight, when I got home and checked the meter reading (the BS reading I call it) that it would tell me I shouldn't have indulged in that Armour Lunchmakers Ham Crackers Crunchers with the Nestle Crunch bar (Oaklie gave me permission!) for the afternoon snack (nor the Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie that followed it - same permissive four-year-old was involved) because let's face it, according to the nutrition information they should have overextended my carb/sugar intake values for the day and caused a sugar spike.

Little Debbie Individually Wrapped Oatmeal Creme Pies 12CtThe numbers don't lie - well, the meter might, as I explained in a previous post. Even with those additions the numbers were down when I got home and checked it. I was even two hours late eating supper. Maybe it was the tuna fish and salad that kept the numbers down today. Perhaps it was the 10.1-mile cycling this morning. Perhaps it was the stress of shopping this afternoon. No, wait, stress is supposed to elevate it, kind of like it does your blood pressure.

Whether it was the Lunchmakers Cracker Crunchers or the Little Debbie that did it, I appreciate the lower numbers. It's the holidays. That's a good reason to indulge, right?

Original squirrel by @kyllik at Unsplash.com 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Maybe I Should Have Skipped The Workout?

Should I have taken it as a sign to skip the workout this morning? I woke up an hour late. The batteries on the digital display for the workout bicycle decided to quit. And, I can't breathe well because my head and chest are congested.

I gave it the old "college try" anyway. After a few minutes of warm-up stretches, I grabbed the hand weights and climbed aboard the bike and started to pedal. Despite knowing the display didn't work, I found myself looking down to check it. Once I finished with the hand-weight part of this workout I tossed them over onto the bed and set the timer on the smartphone for fifty-five minutes, knowing I had already spent at least ten pedaling and using the weights.

I cycle to the same music and keep pace with it, so I am assuming my speed wasn't diminished any. But there's no way to know for sure how many calories I burned, whether or not I made the ten-mile minimum, or what my pulse reached. I've estimated them all on the high-side. Hey, there's no digital readout to prove me wrong, is there? Come to think of it, I should have added an extra fifty calories on for the weights, because it doesn't factor those in for me.

A couple of people have asked about home exercise cycles, so here's the one I use. It's an Exerpeutic Folding Recumbent Exercise Bicycle. It is manufactured by Paradigm Health & Wellness, Inc. You can get them through Walmart. Mine is a few years old, but it still works well. In fact, I haven't had to put new batteries in the display box for a while, which is probably why I forgot that it had batteries that would need replacement.

It's whisper-quiet, so if you're working out in an open area, even in front of the TV watching a movie, it won't be a noise nuisance. It pedals smoothly and the digital readout will keep you up-to-date on your numbers. I reset mine with every workout, that way I don't have to do math when I go to fill out the exercise log. It has a very comfortable height-adjustable seat, and it's very stable. The vinyl on the seat and backrest are easily wiped down with some spray Lysol and a paper towel after each workout.I really like the fact that it's easy to fold up and away, too, and doesn't take up much space when not in use.

Maybe I should have skipped the workout this morning and simply gone back to bed, but I'm glad I didn't. I actually look forward to using this little machine to help me get back in shape so I can get the road bike out this summer. (Don't tell the exercise bike, though. It may have a jealous streak.)

Note: I am not an affiliate for these product manufacturers or retailers. Just sharing what I like.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Rely on ReliOn?

I've been very diligent lately in my eating habits, getting at least an hour of exercise per day, and checking blood sugar levels multiple times per day. But now, I have to wonder if the readings I've been getting are even accurate.

ReliOn Prime Blood Glucose Monitoring System, BlueA few weeks ago, I had to ditch my old ReliOn meter because I found out that it may not have been working properly and may have, for the last three years, whether due to faulty technical design or faulty test strips, been giving me faulty readings. In fact, I found out that different lot #s of the strips had been recalled several times over several years prior to my purchasing it at Walmart.

So, before buying another one I researched the meters out there and decided to give the brand another chance. I purchased a ReliOn Prime, and 100 test strips to go with it. It was the most affordable option and the reviews I was seeing were encouraging.

It's a bit more of a challenge to use, getting those tiny strips inserted properly as there is a notch in the end of the meter and if it's not in correctly the meter won't activate. Getting the strip to take up the blood sample, too, seems more awkward than the Ultima, but I've mastered it. I am beginning to rethink my choice, however, especially after the two tests a moment ago.

I followed the required procedure, cleaning my fingers thoroughly with an alcohol prep pad and let them dry. After inserting the test strip, I used the lancet to make the stick. Everything seemed fine. But, wow, the reading was way too high. The only thing I could guess was that it was a false reading, or a faulty strip. So, I moved over to the other finger, which I also cleaned with alcohol and let dry before inserting a new strip. Another finger stick. Pow! It was down 196 points . . . in one minute's time. Two wildly different readings within a minute on two fingers of the same hand using two different blood drops. I must have the fastest blood sugar leveling in the world! No. That can't be it.

Maybe my blood is channeling the glucose differently to different fingers? I guess I just need to find the one that will give me the lowest reading and always use that one, right? I'm no scientist, but I know that's not occurring. That's not even logical. Maybe I should test on my toes? My upper arm? Maybe an eyebrow? The only thing I can think of is that the strips and/or the meter are not working properly, which makes every reading I've taken with it over the last few weeks (over 100 tests) suspect.

It will be a challenge (and costly) finding a new meter. I will likely send this ReliOn to the trash bin. No, I won't be recommending it to any of my friends. I value them too highly. Personally, I'm not comfortable using a meter that can't seem to make up its own mind, especially when my life depends on the accuracy of its results. I know there are folks out there that say that 80-85% accuracy and a 20% differential in multiple readings is completely acceptable, but I think they're foolish. If a car dealer was planning to sell me a car and told me that I could only expect it to be 80-85% reliable, I would be walking off the lot looking for a better option.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Deliciousness Straight Out Of The Sunday Oven

A few days ago, my mother made pulled pork for a special dinner in town. There was some left over from the half she took with her. The other half is chilling out in the freezer for later use. I decided to use up the last couple of ounces of the thawed pork for this dish.
Chobani Plain Non-Fat Greek YogurtI have been craving pizza. Missing the taste of my favorite cheese, since I gave it up over two weeks ago. Today I decided to indulge myself. So I prepared the homemade crust recipe I came across some time before (1 cup self-rising flour, to which I added some Italian seasoning and garlic salt), and mixed that with 1 cup of Chobani Greek  yogurt (it takes two of the 5.3 oz cups of this). I let it rise for the required 15-20 minutes, then rolled it out on a floured surface. You can also push it out with your hands onto a nonstick pizza pan. 

Kraft Shredded Mexican Style Taco CheeseWhile the dough was rising (it doesn't rise very much) I chopped up fresh garlic (2 small cloves), red and green bell pepper, and red onion (about 1/4 cup each), and one small ripe tomato. Then I brought out the jar of Ragu Homemade Style Pizza Sauce, and the bag of Kraft Expertly-Paired Mexican Style shredded cheese (about 1- 2 oz of it.) I bought both at our Maryville Hy-Vee store.

Ragu Homemade Style Pizza SauceWith the rolled dough on the pizza pan, I ladled on about 1/2 jar of the pizza sauce, spreading it all the way out to the edges, and then sprinkled on an ounce of the cheese. After that, I sprinkled minced garlic, then each of the diced veggies, and then added about 2-3 ounces of the cooked pulled pork. I topped this off with the rest of the cheese. Into a 375° oven for 25 minutes.

Can you smell that? That's deliciousness right from the oven.

The result was a medium-sized soft crust Italian-seasoned pizza, about 1/4" thick, sprinkled with some of my favorite things. A great way to handle Sunday lunch.  I'm thinking the next time, however, I'll just add the veggies and some of that Herdez Verde salsa and pulled pork to the crust, and maybe some different seasoning in the crust. I will mull that over while I polish off a slice of this.

I am certain, however, that I'm going to make a square pizza. They're easier. Might even taste better, but this one is pretty good. I think it could have used a little salt and pepper, but if you're watching your salt intake, you can skip it.

Note: I am not an affiliate of these product manufacturers nor of the stores where I buy the products. 
I am just sharing what I like. Hope you enjoy it too!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

My New Favorite Sandwich

Herdez Verde Salsa

I have a new favorite sandwich. I'm a little hesitant to share the recipe . . . but since you look really hungry, here's what you need.

Take a couple of ounces of pre-cooked pulled pork, sprinkle it with minced onion, and garlic salt, microwave for about a minute, add 1-2 tbsp of mild Herdez Salsa Verde (available at Hy-Vee or Walmart), and mix. Pile it on two slices of toasted  Country sourdough bread.

That's it.Just so I had some veggies, I added a small bowl with sliced cucumbers and Nature Sweet Cherub tomatoes with 2 tsp of Kraft Zesty Italian dressing on the side. Yum!

You will have to make your own. I already ate it all. 

Nature Sweet Cherubs
Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing

Thursday, December 6, 2018

What To Do While Cycling - Without Crashing

It's winter here now, and since I'm a fair-weather pedaler my daily cycling happens on a stationary bike, which, without some distraction can be somewhat boring. I nearly always listen to music that has various instrumental pieces mixed together that are a combination of upbeat and a few that are more relaxing, so that I'm sure to pedal faster at times and to give myself a rest at times. Sometimes I will listen to an audiobook on YouTube. The big problem is to prevent yourself from becoming bored because, let's face it, the scenery isn't going to change much. In addition to the music, I also use hand weights to make the workout a bit more challenging, but you can only lift those for so long before your arms get tired and encourage your legs to quit too.

To keep that 'quitter' attitude from taking root, I had to find different ways to distract myself. Sometimes I use the Kindle and catch up on my reading list, especially of books I wish to review. Other times I just close my eyes and listen to the music. Don't try that on a road bike or you will crash. Today, while whittling away at the morning miles I decided to design something.

I designed a bicycle trailer for long distance trips. In part, it was based on a couple of others I had seen made by Paul Elkins, except it had a lot of creature-comfort features those didn't. As I don't actually know how to build one, I am skeptical that it will ever be constructed, but in my imagination it took less than two miles to have it worked out. The results? It worked perfectly. There were no design or operational flaws when I mentally hooked it up to the road bike. The tires didn't go flat. The solar array perfected charged the mini battery inside for power later, and it rolled smoothly along. It's features deployed without incident, and it was the perfect balance of weight, while still being highly maneuverable. In that alternate reality, the results couldn't be better. In this reality, it might have had issues.

Nevertheless, the activity kept my mind off the miles I had to pedal and  before I knew it, it was time to pull to a stop and put the bike trailer away, mentally anyway. Lord willing, I'll design something new tomorrow, or perhaps I'll just pack the trailer and 'head' off on a journey, envisioning a nice, moderately challenging paved road, perhaps through Utah. As long as the virtual ground is not frozen and icy, it's doable. If it turns out the weather in the alternate reality isn't favorable, I'll outline a new novel or edit one of my works in progress.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Trying New Things

I'm not one for being really adventurous in a culinary sense. I know what I like. I know what I can't a have as far as food allergies, but a little deviation from the usual can turn those boring lunchtime sandwiches into something better.

StarKist Tuna Creations Lemon Pepper TunaIn an effort to bring my blood sugar under control, and add in some vitamins I may have been missing, I have had to get back to basics. I have been eating more fruits and veggies, making smoothies, and trying to do a better job of balancing proteins, and staying away from high-protein diets. Moderation is the keyword in thinking about menus.

Our local Hy-Vee had tuna on sale this last week, so I restocked on it. It's one of the 'fishes' I can have, and that I actually like. I like catfish too, but if I have to rely on my fishing skills to eat -- well, let's just say weight loss wouldn't be an issue. Aside from the regular tuna pouches I buy, they had StarKist's Tuna Creations on sale, so I tried one. Lemon Pepper.

Real Mayonnaise Pouch 8ozIt became part of my supper tonight, with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, diced red bell pepper, and diced red onion, as well as some Duke's real mayonnaise, which I bought at a Price Cutter store when I was in a Springfield, Missouri a while back. They had them on sale and I decided to give them a try. In addition to the regular style mayo jar, I found it in these handy little squeezable pouches. I bought a couple and brought them home with me. It is delicious.

And, because the tuna and the mayo are both in pouches, I can throw them in a lunchbox with an ice pack or two, a couple slices of pretoasted Brownberry Country Sourdough, or a croissant, and some sliced tomatoes, cucumbers,, onions, and red bell pepper in a Ziploc bag without having to mix everything until I'm ready to eat. It keeps the 'breads' from going soggy.

Ziploc Quart Double Zipper Storage BagsI really like all of these products and will definitely be buying them again. I should say here, I'm not an affiliate marketer for these products. They're listed here because I've tried them and I like them. It's as simple as that. If you click on the links in this post, you'll be taken to the sites associated with where I purchased the products, but I get no compensation from these manufacturers. I share what I like, and sometimes what I don't like (and why), and I hope the information helps someone else who's looking to try a little something new to keep their home menu from getting boring.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Bicycling In A Blizzard

It's Sunday. Services were cancelled. The roads are dangerous. I'm sure the neighborhood kids are hoping and praying that school is cancelled tomorrow and the buses are buried deep in snow drifts. They may get their wish. There's a full-on blizzard occurring here today. Nine to twelve inches are expected and winds of 30-45 mph. What would you do in a blizzard? Make hot chocolate? Break out the sled and grope your way to the nearest big hill? Go bicycling?

I like the last idea. So far, I've cleaned the kitchen, finished writing my NaNoWriMo novel for 2018, updated a couple of blogs and one of the discussion sections on one of my Youtube channels. I've had my afternoon snack, and I'll update the fitness log in a moment, but first I think it's time for a ten-mile ride, at least . . . around the living room.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Five Miles Before Meals?

My road bike looks nothing like this. In fact, at this very moment, my road bike is in the shed and it is probably covered with dust and frozen spiders. It's winter here.

My stationary bike, however, is not covered with dust or spiders. It's in a warm spot where I can get to it easily and ride it in preparation for breaking the road bike out in the spring, Lord willing.

I'm not a morning person. Quite the opposite. This morning, however, I woke up at 4:45 a.m. and felt like doing something, even if it was wrong. I decided to ride the exercise bike.

Five miles before breakfast isn't part of my usual routine, even when I wake up late, but it worked this morning, with the help of a few apple slices, a tablespoon of peanut butter for fuel, and some lemon-infused water. I will try to do another five miles before lunch, and perhaps supper. We'll see how the rest of the day goes. I have to knit together over 8,000 words to finish the novel today. Yesterday, I left the book's characters playing a human-sized chess game at a castle in New York state, while trying to outsmart a criminal. I'm sort of curious as to how they're getting along. Maybe I'll have them row a boat or something. If they do exercise, does it count against my daily quota?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

One More Voice in the Noise Pool

It is said that reducing stress will also help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar.

If that can be believed.

Edited. Orig Img by Andre Hunter
@dre0316 on Unsplash.com
There is so much conflicting information on the Internet, from "experts" in the field, that the very act of researching information on what kind of food to eat, what kind of exercise to undertake, and what kind of stress management to implement causes higher blood pressure and, therefore, higher blood sugar levels . . . at least it seems that way to me.

I was browsing medical sites and nutrition sites for information for the glycemic indexes for different foods to help me make better eating choices. One health site shows one set of numbers, another site shows another set of numbers, and so on. And when looking at the information offered at an alleged 'paleo' expert's site, they argue that glycemic index doesn't really provide good indicators for making choices, because, it's the glycemic load a particular food will produce when combined with other foods on the dinner plate that will ultimately matter.

Then you have to factor in how foods are prepared (steamed, boiled, baked, fried, or raw) will change a food's particular glycemic index or glycemic load number and totally screw up the healthy, balanced meal you just planned.

Img by Karolina Szczur @thefoxis on
Have I ever mentioned how much I HATE math? In fact, I just hate numbers in general at this point. I don't even want to see a phone number pop up on my phone. I don't want to look at speed limit signs. I'm no longer going to check distances on Google maps, because numbers are involved. I refuse to look at mile-marker signs. From this day forward I am just adopting an "I'll get there when I get there kind of attitude." I am no longer going to pay attention to the digital readout out he exercise bike. (I am up over 7 miles now, by the way, but my time hasn't improved.) There are numbers on clocks, so I might be late for things if I start ignoring those numbers. I am going to throw out the scales I weigh myself with and get one that doesn't measure in numbers. Maybe there's one that talks and says, "Back to the exercise bike," or "Wow! You're lighter than yesterday. Thanks for that." Perhaps it's not carbs I need to cut out, but numbers . . . and researching all this stuff.

There's just too much conflicting information and far, far too much math involved in all of this and the mathematics are causing my blood pressure and, therefore, my blood sugar levels to stay elevated. That's right, I'm blaming numbers. Maybe I need to cut all the numbers out of my life. It certainly would save me time. Drat you education system for teaching me to count, how to add, how to multiply, how to subtract, and divide. I think I was happier when I didn't now about numbers.

Maybe I just need to pray more.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Ginger Tea

Some time ago I read that ginger root has a lot of great health benefits, especially for diabetics. But it also has the ability to help reduce inflammation, relieve nausea, and help your body digest and process food better.

I used to buy lemon ginger tea in ready-made teabags, but I didn't notice that much in the way of health effects, so I am going to try making it with fresh ginger root. I found this very simple recipe online. If you decide to try it too, leave me a comment below and let me know if it has helped with any issues you have had.

Here is a video for storing ginger for longer periods and making it a bit easier to get that cup of ginger tea. I may give this a try, too. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Pedaling Toward Wellness Again

Having high blood sugar is no easy thing to deal with. There are a great many 'remedies' out there and there is also panic, fear, and misinformation.

In 2015, I contracted staph infection in my bloodstream. It almost killed me. Twice. After a very expensive stint in the hospital I was told I was a Type II diabetic and that I would need to start taking insulin. For years I was told I was 'borderline.' As long as I was on the right side of the border, I didn't worry too much because I wasn't a huge sweets eater. The infection apparently helped me slip quietly over the border. While in the hospital I was shown how to check my blood sugar and how to take the injections. I actually filled the prescription for the insulin, $394 worth, and went home. There was no alternative to the insulin. I would, according to the diabetes educator, have to learn to eat, sleep, and think about this disease every moment of every day.

No, I don't think so.

When I got home I began reading up on the disease and asked the question, "Can you control Type II diabetes without insulin?" The answer was yes. Permanent dietary changes, increases in activity, and, yes, giving up the sugary drinks and overeating I was prone to would have to be a part of those changes. Hmm. That seemed like an easier and healthier trade-off as opposed to living my life at the end of a needle. So, I left the insulin in the fridge, unopened, started making changes, and saw some improvement. Blood sugar started to come down. It's been a long process. When the expiration date on the insulin rolled around I put it in the round file and kept moving forward.

Now, three years later, almost to the month, I got sick again. Again, a bacteria growing in my bloodstream. I have no idea where it came from, but I picked it up. Blood sugar levels shot up over 500, saline levels plummeted, and I couldn't keep food and water down for several days. I went to the doctor thinking I had the flu. Nope. Blood tests showed extremely high blood sugar levels and a severe lack of salt. In my defense, the low salt may have resulted because I was trying to be healthy by eliminating all salt from my diet. You know, too much of it leads to hypertension, high blood pressure, etc . . . I thought eliminating it would be a healthy thing to do. Well, I successfully managed to eliminate most of it all right. And, that nearly killed me. That and the bacteria.

The doctor recommended I run over to the hospital for a saline IV and some insulin. I said no. I said we needed to get the nausea under control so I could keep food and liquids down. I said we needed to bring my salt levels back up. The doc, a very good and kind one, warned me she wouldn't be responsible for what happened if I didn't go to the hospital. I told her I had seen those high numbers before and they didn't scare me. Worried me, yes. She kept reassuring me I needed the insulin and the IV. She repeated the words 'coma' and 'death' a couple of times and looked at me strangely when I told her that didn't scare me as much as one might think it should. I reassured her that what I needed was food and water consistently so my body could do what it needed to do. So, I left, after I signed a paper absolving her from responsibility if I dropped dead outside because I refused to accept the medical recommendation. She sent me on with an anti-nausea drug and an antibiotic.

Being able to keep the fluids down, including water with electrolytes, was the first game changer. The nurse had given me a dose of the anti-nausea drug while at the office. Within in an hour I was not only keeping my water down, I was able to eat some beef jerky, some strawberries, and a cheese stick. A weird combination I know, but I was thinking vitamins and salt, not what form they came in. By the time I got home, two hours later, I was ready for a bowl of soup. Everything stayed down. I checked my blood sugar, and it had dropped 255 points within just a few hours time. What a difference food and water make. And, they taste pretty good after five days without it.

I didn't expect my numbers to drop too drastically because, as diabetics know, antibiotics will actually cause the numbers to elevate slightly. Another doctor told me that, after I got out of the hospital the first time, and reassured me that they would start to come down once the antibiotics were out of my system. He was right. So, it was a waiting game. I had ten days of antibiotics to take and potentially high numbers to frustrate me along the way.

I decided to use that time to do a bit more research for some added changes to make to my diet.

Since I was feeling a bit better the next day, I decided to jump back on the stationary bike for a short ride. Laying in bed for nearly 10 days hadn't helped my situation either. Pathetic. I could do less than two miles before I was so fatigued I wanted to lay down again. Over the next two days, with more food and electrolytes in my system (she recommended a drink additive with electrolytes to help), my energy levels came back up. By Day 3, I was back up to five miles. Five . . . very . . .  slow . . . miles, but they were there. (Twenty miles is my goal, and I'm inching back in that direction.)

V8 Original Vegetable Juice was added to my diet to help with salt and vitamin intake. I usually avoided it because of the salt and the carbs. Silly me. Eight-ounces a day, at least, is the norm now. I was able to start salting my food again, too, which seemed like treason after all the hard work I had done trying to get the salt out of my life. I didn't load it on, but tried to keep that 'moderation' theme in mind. It's hard to get used to salt again after you've learned to be without it. Your food tastes so . . . well, salty.

I also revisited my use of lemon water. Turns out, I was doing it all wrong. I was only squeezing the juice into my water when I should have been using the whole lemon. So, I took a lemon, snipped off each end a little, washed it, and froze it. The next day, I used a fine hand grater and grated the whole lemon, right down to the nub. It made a fine lemon zest powder, which I then packed into ice cube trays and refroze. Those will be added to my drinking water, rather than just the juice. Turns out to be a fantastic way to get lemon cubes for your water. And, you can add it to other recipes. (Update: After three months of there was no appreciable lowering of the blood sugar numbers by using frozen lemons this way. It just added a lot of debris to the water. It turns out that the fresh-squeezed lemon juice and pulp in the water did a better job of lowering the numbers, but only slightly. This is based on trying this in 52 oz purified water everyday for three months. I went back to adding the freshly squeezed juice and pulp. You can grate the peels for the lemon zest and freeze it and add it to other dishes for flavor. I recommend washing the lemons, organic or otherwise, in water mixed with baking soda or vinegar and rinsing before grating. I also started peeling a ruby red grapefruit and eating it before or after a workout, or before bedtime, as there is a 2014 study that shows grapefruit had a better effect on blood sugar levels than Metformin. Of course, it is a blood THINNER, like aspirin and other drugs. That is the object of those drugs, to dilute the blood so that you get lower readings.)

(This is not my video, but one of several on YouTube that encourage the use of frozen lemons for their natural health benefits.)

I added aloe vera juice into my life. I had heard about it before but never tried it. So, next trip to the store, I bought a small bottle. It was less than $4 at Walmart. When I got up the next day, I made a smoothie of 6 oz of the juice, a handful of frozen fruit, some purified water, and, for good measure, I added a couple frozen lemon slices I had left in the freezer. Blended it all until smooth. I ended up with a tart smoothie, but I managed to get it down. Aloe vera juice, the pure stuff (Fruit of the Earth) turns out to be very healthy. It doesn't have too much of a taste, and you can just drink a small glass of it, but it's an acquired taste. As I'm a culinary coward, especially trying new stuff, I decided to start with a smoothie. Had I thought to, to reduce the tartness, I could have added a half-cup of apple juice.

Dropping by this many
points is encouraging.
After drinking the smoothie, and eating a sandwich later for lunch, I checked my blood sugar again when I got home. The results are shown to the right. Pretty nice results, I think. I'm not sure if it was just the aloe vera juice or that coupled with the frozen lemon, but that drop in number I could feel better about. There is still a ways to go, but I am headed in the right direction. (Update: After using this juice for a couple of months, the numbers leveled out, but I began to experience itching all over from repeated use of the aloe vera juice. There was no visible rash externally, so I can only guess it was internal. There were no other new items like soaps, seasonings, or previously untried foods during this time. I have never had a problem with using aloe vera lotion externally. When I eliminated the aloe vera juice from the smoothie, after about 48 hours, the itching departed. Perhaps I was developing an allergy to the juice. I was using less than 1 oz in the smoothie. Perhaps just adding it once in a while would be better.)

My fasting levels were up a little again overnight, but I'm still on the antibiotic (and I woke up at 2 a.m. hungry and the cure involved a slice of pumpkin bread), so that may be part of it. I'm starting off with a different smoothie this morning. It incorporates 6 oz of aloe vera juice, a cup of whole frozen strawberries, a sliced banana, and a half-teaspoon of raw unfiltered local honey. (The honey I typically use in my hot cup of tea. Local honey, especially the raw unfiltered stuff, has lots of health benefits, including help with allergies.) This smoothie, coupled with some breakfast, like eggs, turkey bacon, and a piece of toast should make a nice way to start the day.

I have been using the Aloe gel made by Fruit of the Earth for a while, to help keep
my outside skin healthy. But, I never really invested much time into considering the aloe vera juice. I use the aloe gel on my face because it's the only moisturizer I've found that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and that actually works.

So, for those of you who have been wondering what's going on, where I disappeared to, and why I haven't been very communicative for the last thirteen days, this is why.

If you're looking for some healthy things to help you daily, especially if you have Type II diabetes, I can say I recommend the aloe vera, the juice and the gel, and the frozen lemons. I also recommend the cycling. When the weather turns warm again I'll get the road bike out. Until then I'll point the stationary bike at the television, put on an old movie and see if I can pedal all the way through it. It'll probably be a mystery of some kind.

There are no guarantees this will work for anyone else, but these changes seem to be having a positive impact on my health. But, the most important impact has been that of prayer, both praying for God's help and in asking others to pray for me as I continue to try to live healthier, move more, and eat better.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Clothing Made of Porcupine Quills

I am pretty certain that the clothes I'm wearing were woven using porcupine quills. The little bug that has attacked my immune system is responsible for that. If I can catch him I'll mash him.

Being stuck inside when you have an entire list of things needing your attention is no fun. But, this is not going to be a rant about that. Rather, it will be a positive outlook on things you can do to entertain yourself.

  • Count the cobwebs in the corner of your room. 
  • Count the dust bunnies under the bed. (Don't lean over too long or you'll get lightheaded.)
  • Stare at the pile of stuff that needs sorting, tossing, and reorganizing, and promise yourself you'll get to that soon. 
  • Read a book. 
  • Listen to an audiobook
  • Send a friend out to the library to retrieve books for you to read. (Say please.) 
  • Make plans to finally donate or sell those hundreds of books you have already read that are stacked up in various places around the room. (Remember, the last time you were sick you promised to take care of that?)
  • Drink lots of hot tea with lemon and honey. 
  • Eat cinnamon rolls. 
  • Watch old movies on DVD or TCM (if you have it). Restart them later when you wake up because you probably won't remember what happens when you're asleep. 
  • Drink more tea with honey and lemon. 
  • Ignore anyone who dares come and ring the doorbell. They're obviously not thinking clearly.

Well, that's my itinerary for the weekend. Hope your schedule is better. 

*Note: The images used here were cropped from their original size. Visit Unsplash.com to see originals and check out their other free images for use.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

My Chevy Astro Van Drowned Last Night

Apparently, my Chevy Astro drowned last night . . . in the driveway.

Rain can be a mixed blessing. We all need it to fall. The rivers, lakes, and streams need to be refilled. All living things need water. However, my van suffers from aquaphobia.

In recent weeks I had to battle an issue with a leak around the windshield on the van. Somewhere, water was getting in and dripping onto the steering wheel, and my right leg, leaving me unhappy and somewhat perplexed. I applied silicone and sealant and I thought I had the problem fixed. After the next two rain events the interior was dry. During the last few days, however, we have encountered sporadic downpours intermixed with continuous sprinkles. I know, that doesn't sound very meteorological of me, but it's accurate. It's our own fault. With the drought blanketing the county this year, we've all been praying hard for rain. Now we have it . . . but it's a mixed blessing.

I went out a couple of hours ago, tossed my purse in the van, the one we nicknamed the Green Lantern, and climbed into the driver's seat. There were a few drops of water on the floor mat and since it was still raining there wasn't much I could do as far as adding more sealant around the windshield gasket. I would wait until after I returned from picking up the niece and nephew at school, I decided. In went the key into the ignition.

The van rumbled a bit when I turned on the key. It started, grudgingly. I began to back out of the driveway and made it approximately five feet. There the engine died. I tried restarting it. It rumbled, coughed, wheezed, gasped for breath, then its little battery light clicked on and the engine quit again. I waited a few seconds and tried to restart it. It rumbled and the van trembled, immediately stopped breathing. Well, I did the only thing I could. I got out and looked under the hood. "Yup. There's that engine again."

Everything seemed okay, but the engine compartment appeared waterlogged. Odd, I thought, for a vehicle that had been sitting still for a day and a half. Engines are made to get wet, at least a little bit, especially when driving in the rain. So, how could my van simply drown in my driveway? I closed the hood and went inside. After a half an hour passed, I tried to start it again. I managed to get the van to start and revved the engine. It sputtered and coughed, but I was finally able to move it five feet forward. And, that is where I left it.

That's where it's going to sit until my favorite mechanic gets here or I can find a replacement for it on CarGurus.com.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Writing Prompt

Writers know all about writing prompts. They are those little anecdotes, suggestions, keywords, or photos that get you thinking about something that has occurred in your life, whether recent or distant past.

Today's writing prompt, for me, is from the book The Writer's Block by Jason Rekulak. It is a tiny book, just big enough to remain noticeable and small enough to fit on the shelf above my desk. Despite sometimes supporting a few dust bunnies and other times acting as a tether for a newly-constructed spider web, its pages are accessible for that all-important encouragement a writer needs from time to time. It is part decor and always reference.

The Writer's Block was originally published in 2001 - that's when I purchased mine, I think - and has made it through several 'ain't mov'n this' fling events when my life has taken me to a new place and a thinning out of personal items was needed . This little block book always makes that packing crate.

Tonight's writing prompt says, "Write about the worst driving you've ever done."

A tough subject. There's so much to choose from. I guess, it was the one involving the horse.

blue moon
Moon Photo by @chuttersnap on Unsplash.com
Picture this - Blacktop northwest of Windsor, Colorado. It's 1987ish or so. Ahead of me there is a full moon cradled between the twin peaks of the foothills west of Fort Collins. It's about 6:30 in the morning. I am driving to work at my job as a security officer when I look up to observe the gorgeous full moon in repose. WHAM! The white Chevy van in front of me hits a horse (it was open range - no fences) that bolted across the road in front of it. Of course, I slammed on my brakes but hit the van anyway. The horse? It was only dazed after being struck by the van. It got up and ran away. I was late for work. My Mercury Lynx was totaled. The Chevy van had a bad day from both ends - damaged radiator and bent rear bumper. I still have mixed feelings about horses. They're beautiful, graceful, generally friendly, but I think they're also troublemakers.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Christian Western Writers

I was recently conversing with someone at a luncheon following a funeral and we were discussing western writers. He mentioned he was a fan of Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey, and that he recently began reading books by William W. Johnstone. He also had a collection of westerns written in the 1930s. Truly a fan of the genre. Many of his books have been read more than once. He mentioned, however, that he found it challenging to find 'clean' western fiction, stories that didn't contain explicit scenes and an abundance of profanity that his mind had to ignore in order to enjoy the story. His dilemma is not unlike readers seeking such stories in other genres.

I did a quick search for Christian western writers when I arrived home and I was surprised by how many there were. Elmer Kelton and Mr. Johnstone, just for examples, and I was wonderfully surprised to see some female writers in the historical western novel area blazing trails, such as Shanna Hatfield, Mary Connealy, and Jody Hedlund. Just to name a few.

If you're a fan of western fiction, don't lose heart. The genre is alive and well. You may have to search a bit to find clean novels that won't require a whitewashing of your mind afterward, but they are out there and gaining in popularity every day.