Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Zucchini Recipe . . .

It's that time of year when we've got zucchini galore! My neighbor gave me a great casserole recipe that used a lot of zucchini and tastes great. (Think of it as almost a zucchini omelet.)

Note: If you leave off the buttered croutons, it's a great low-carb dish too!

Zucchini Jack Casserole

8 small zucchini (about 2 lbs. total)
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. chopped parsley (optional -- I left it out)
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large can (7 oz.) diced green chiles
4 c. (1 lb.) shredded Jack cheese
1 c. seasoned croutons or herbed stuffing mix
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch-thick rounds (should have about 7 c.); set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with milk, salt, baking powder, and flour until smooth. Stir in parsley, garlic, onion, chiles, cheese, and zucchini. Spoon egg mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Toss croutons in melted butter, then sprinkle over top. (For low-carb version, leave off buttered croutons.)

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean and zucchini is tender when pierced. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Makes about 10 servings.

Enjoy! (P.S. I ate leftovers for breakfast this morning.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Business Opportunity -- Free Idea

If you're looking to start a business, I have a suggestion. Make and sell affordable, modest swimsuits. Make modesty the selling point.

Over a year ago I did a blog entry on modest swimwear. It contintues to be my most popular blog page. Women want modest swimwear that provides plenty of coverage.

Give women what they want, and you'll have a successful business!

Eating My Words (Calorie-Free)

I'm going to be eating my words. The ones about being fine with being a traditionally built woman. The ones about how I'm not going to diet the rest of my life. Fortunately, words are calorie-free.

Here's the thing -- I just can't give up on trying to lose weight. Not because I want to be thin, but because I want to feel healthier. I've had four knees surgeries on my left knee. Weighing less would benefit my knees. Type II diabetes also runs on both sides of my family. I don't want to get it, and being overweight is one of the causes of type II diabetes. I'd also really like to avoid having to buy clothing in the Women's section again. Most of all, I'd like to keep my heart healthy. I felt guilty somehow being an overweight patient at the cardiologist's office recently. I wanted to hang a sign around my neck that said, "I exercise and try to watch what I eat. I work really hard to look like this!"

So, here's what I'm doing . . . South Beach. I've been doing the Weight Watcher program for more than a month with no significant results. So I'm going back to low-carb living. Permanently.

I have an uncle who has lost 50 pounds by cutting out all sweets, only eating at meal times and exercising for 70 minutes on a tread mill most days. Yes, he's a man, and it seems like men have an easier time of dropping weight. But the most impressive thing about his weight loss is that it's a lifestyle. He fully intends to avoid sweets/sugary foods for the rest of this life. (Once he gets to his weight goal, he plans to cut back a bit on the treadmill time.) He's already been living healthier for 2+ years.

Like my uncle, I've noticed that eating sweets begets eating more sweets or more food. Can I live the rest of my life without any refined carbs or sweets? Maybe not, but I'm sure that I can live without them for at least a few years. Right now I'm doing phase one of the South Beach Diet. I'm eating lean proteins, low-carb vegetables, low-fat dairy, nuts and healthy fats. No fruit or whole-grains just yet, but I'll add them back in after at least two weeks.

That's what I like about the South Beach plan -- it doesn't forever outlaw fruits and whole grains. And once I've reached my goal weight (which isn't "skinny" -- just healthy), I can even indulge in an occasional treat.

Right now the possibility of reaching my goal weight seems remote, if not impossible. Most of the past year has been extremely frustrating in the weight department. I've had many moments when I wanted to give up on ever losing weight. But here's the thing, the moment I give up, weight gain is an inevitability. That's not okay.

Maybe I'll lose weight, or maybe I'll just maintain. But I'm not quitting.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'd die without air conditioning!

I don't know about you, but I don't like the summer heat. I walk the dog in the morning (the earlier and cooler, the better) and then try to stay indoors the rest of the day. Most evenings, however, there is work to be done out in the yard or garden. Mostly Hubby does the outdoor stuff, but tonight I'll pick green beans for the first time this season.

Coming up in August I'll be creating a website to sell copies of Unle Ken Hansen's little book, "Don't let the stuff you leave behind destroy your family." It contains a great way to equitably divide the personal effects of an estate among siblings. Unle Ken has sold or given away over 1,000 books, and I'd like to see what the wonders of the internet can do to keep even more families happily together once their parents pass away. When I get the site up and running, I'll be sure to post an entry with a link. (BTW, does anyone in my neck of the woods have experience creating a website? The last time I created one was back in 2000. Help!)

Yesterday I took an hour or so and culled past posts from this blog for possible inclusion in a book manuscript. I told Hubby my title might be something like, "Thoughts of a Mormon Housewife." He said that he didn't think that would sell very many books. (Thanks, Honey.) So here are some alternate titles. Tell me which you think might entice someone to buy my book.

Love Handles: It's not how we look, but how we love that matters

Temporary Serenity: A Mormon Mother's Quest for Contentment

Lemonade: Making the Most of Life's Lemons

I'd Like to Die Laughing!

Actually, now that I've written those titles, I want to write each one of them. Hey, as long as I'm talking about rejected book titles, I have another one that's been shot down. I've been thinking about writing something along the lines of, "Patience Please! (Pretty please)." I have a friend, I'll call her Linda, who thinks that I should bag writing a book about patience. "No one wants to read a book on patience," she said. "They're either already patient, or they don't want to be patient." Which is probably good advice. Besides, I've yet to acquire a book's worth of patience. And who knows exactly when that will happen.

Enjoy your air-conditioning. (I will be!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Traditionally Built Women

I just finished reading Tea Time for the Traditonally Built,by Alexander McCall Smith -- the latest in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I loved it!

These books aren't page turners, instead they are slow, mellow reads full of warm and truthful observations about human nature. The plot is simple, leaving plenty of time to focus on the cast of characters. Mma Ramotswe is my idol. She's a traditionally built woman who is comfortable in her own skin.

At one point in the book Mma Makutsi, an assistant detective in the agency, left a note for her employer in which she signed her name followed by three initials having to do with her secretarial degree. It made Mma Ramotswe wonder what initials she'd put behind her name. She settled on TBW as being the most likely. It stands for Traditionally Built Woman.

Maybe I'll start writing my name with TBW after it. I am what I am, afterall. Maybe it will help me embrace the reality of myself, instead of constantly being dissatisfied.

It's worth a try.


Christie Hansen, TBW

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Heart of the Matter . . .

Just thought I'd post a quickie about what's been happening lately.

I've had a couple incidents of tachycardia (rapid heart rate) lately. It's a really, really awful feeling, a crushing pressure in the chest that leaves me feeling breathless and a bit nauseous too. Once again, I'm having things checked out. So far the more in-depth echocardiogram they did this time looked good. Today I'm having a nuclear stress test done. I'm fairly confident that will be normal too. Which means that I may have a heart electrical problem. If both of the tests (echocardiogram and nuclear stress test) come back normal, the cardiologist says that chances of having a "negative outcome" from future tachycardia events are rare. Meaning, I'd have the green light to resume more intense exercising. (Like hiking, aerobics and doing cardio at the gym.)

Watching my reaction to this chain of events, I've come to the conclusion that I've been planning my life and thinking that planning is the same as controlling. Not so. I'm hoping that this latest health hiccup can help me remember to live in the moment -- really savor all that the present has to offer. Part of my planning/dreaming/scheming habit keeps me from appreciating what I've got. Where I am. Who I'm sharing my life with.

I'm going to stop wishing the present away. How does one wish away the present? By pining over the past, spending too much time reliving the glory days. (The days of wearing a size 8, not having love handles, and having loads of energy). Another way to wish away the present is to engage in "I can't wait until..." kind of thinking. A similarly fruitless phrase is, "I'll be happy when ..." I'm guilty of falling into that mode of thinking as well. Both rob the present of its pleasures. I'm going to work hard to counteract the mental ruts I've fallen into.

Instead of thinking, "I can't wait until all the yard projects are done," I'm going to think, "It's so nice to have a lawn to relax on, to play with the kids and the dog on. And we're so spoiled to have a sprinkling system." I'm not going to put off happiness until I can drop a few more pounds (which doesn't seem to happen anyway) or until there's a little more give in the family budget. I'm going to find ways to enjoy life now. Here are some things that make me happy: (Note to self -- none of them have anything to do with what I weigh)

-- helping others
-- talking with friends and family
-- walking the dog
-- riding my bike with the dog
-- watching movies
-- laughing at myself
-- writing
-- reading
-- writing letters and cards
-- being creative

I'm thinking that now might be a good time to recommit to keeping a gratitude journal.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

June's Hiking Article (printed in my local paper)

Let me get this out right up front . . . I only went on one hike in the last month. Two were written in ink on my calendar, but the second hike never happened.

I managed to take the first hike along the Crimson Trail on its scheduled date at the end of May, but when the day came for the second hike, it rained. And it proceeded to rain on each of the other days that I had optimistically penciled in for make-up hikes. On days that it didn’t rain (Were there any?), I had other things to do. Things like laundry, shopping, running kids to lessons and appointments – the usual mundane activities that fill the hours of most mothers.

It really irks me that I didn’t get that second hike in. I thought about how hikers in the Pacific Northwest must have to deal with sloshy, wet hikes. I even tried to convince myself that I could make friends with mud. But let’s face it, I’m a mom. I’ve spent the last fifteen years teaching my children how to avoid getting muddy, and old habits die hard. Clearly I am not a hard-core hiker. It’s strictly fair-weather hiking for me!

Even with the sun shining and my trusty canine companion by my side, the Crimson Trail was no cake walk. Before I even began my ascent up the trail, my knees and hips were already achey. I couldn’t help thinking back to the first time I climbed the Crimson Trail over sixteen years ago. Back then I was a young, energetic college student on a date with my future husband. This go-around as an overweight housewife couldn’t have been more different. When my heart raced and I became a bit breathless, this time I knew it was from the extra weight I’ve gained and not because I was simply in love.

Speaking of weight gain, last week I had a light bulb moment, an epiphany of sorts, while carrying a fifty-pound bag of rolled oats up the stairs from the basement. Carrying those fifty extra pounds up the stairs was hard work, leaving me tired and out of breath. It helped me realize that the extra weight I carry around all the time must have a similar effect on my body. How I’d love to drop my extra weight as quickly and easily as I dropped that bag of rolled oats.

Truth is, I haven’t dropped any pounds since starting my hiking adventure. I’m okay with that. A couple months ago I read, “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight.” It helped me to see that health is about more than just the number on the scale. I may never weigh what I did when I first hiked the Crimson Trail, but I still made it to the top. I went slower. I took more breathing breaks, and I learned a thing or two.

I learned that having the right equipment makes all the difference. I wore my tennis shoes, but while going down the steep switchbacks, I wished that I’d worn my hiking boots. The ankle support of a good hiking boot keeps your toes from jamming into the front of the toebox. After my first hiking article appeared back in February, I had a couple kind readers suggest that I use hiking poles to help take the pressure off my knees, especially when descending a hill. After the Crimson Trail descent, I finally took their advice. From what I’ve heard, the trip down the Wellsvilles is the toughest part of the hike. There’s no sense being a glutton for punishment.

Most importantly, I learned that the slower you hike, the more time you have to appreciate the spectacular scenery.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Finally! A little decorating . . .

Those of you who know me very well know that I'm not much of a decorator. We've lived in our new house for over 5 years, and there's nothing hanging on the walls in the front room. Sigh.

But, I did finally get something for the front door entryway.

What do you think? We have a narrow entry hall so I chose a narrow table with a small wire basket. (Inside the basket are two antiqued wall hooks that I'll mount on the studs to the right of the mirror.) I picked up the old beveled mirror mirror at D.I. A neighbor up the street had a branch fall off their corkscrew willow, so I picked up a few branches to add to my umbrella canister. The silk pink apple blossoms tie in with the pink crackley finish on the mirror. Someday (don't hold your breath) I'll get a small quilted runner for the table top and put something artful in the wire basket.

I have to admit that decorating is fun. I'll have to save a bit more money and do it again soon!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Hiking Update

News Flash: The date for my much-publicized hike to the top of the Wellsvilles has changed. I will be hiking the Wellsvilles on Saturday, August 29th. Those wanting to accompany me will meet at my house at 5:30 AM. The date change fits better with my newspaper deadlines.

Recent hikes have helped me to see that the Wellsville hike will be a doozy! Hubby and I hiked 9+ miles on the High Creek Trail on Saturday(photos posted below), and it took me days to fully recover. It was nowhere as steep as the Wellsville hike will be and was also nice and shady up and back. A week ago I started Weight Watcher points tracking again. I'm also going to the gym and doing weight training and cardio. It sure would be nice to drop 10 pounds before August 29th!

But if not, I'll just gut it out, go SLOW, and make the Wellsville climb come heck or high water. I'm guessing that it really is the last window of opportunity for me to climb to the ridge and look down into both Cache County and Box Elder County. I WILL DO IT!

Here are the photos from the High Creek hike. We crossed the creek five times or so. Once on a nice, sturdy bridge with guarde rails, next on a tilting foot bridge, then three times on log bridges. Even Annie, my dog, got proficient at crossing log bridges. Despite my achiness on the way back, the hike was spectacular! It was cool, damp and smelled wonderful (of pine).