Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vegetable Gardening: Garlic

Last fall Mike McGrath aired his local radio gardening show Garden Plot on WTOP News. He was saying how easy it is to grow your own garlic. He made it sounded easy enough and there was room in the garden so we decided to give it a try. Mike said to get organic garlic. Other garlic can be treated so it wouldn’t grow. We picked up one organic garlic bulb and one bag of unmarked garlic from Trader Joe’s. I planted over half of the cloves from the large organic bulb and one head of cloves from the other smaller garlic to complete the row. They all came up last fall and have been steadily growing. He said they would be ready in June so we have a few more weeks to wait to see how well they did. From the looks of the tops they should be doing very well. The best tasting one will probably get planted in another bed for a 2009 crop.

Mike's website can be found at You Bet Your Garden

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Friends and Projects

I’ve been blessed with friends who help me accomplish some of the ideas and projects that I wouldn’t be physically able to on my own. Since the end of December we have been working on my daughter’s room. My husband and I managed to remove horrific paneling, repair a wall, replace trim, prime and paint the room on our own. A wonderful friend has helped us repair holes in the hardwood floor and now install shelving.

I had picked up three 4-cube shelves from the local craft store. I l primed and painted them white to match the trim in her room. When I went to install the shelves I discovered the electrical outlet would be blocked with my initial plan. Lesson: measure and re-measure. That is where Keni came to the rescue, again. I explained what plan A was and the new plan B. He is always kind and didn’t laugh too much. He developed a plan C and went to work. He doesn’t do well with a helper. I try my best to watch what he dose so I have a chance of doing some of this on my own some day. By the time he rushed off to work on the next project he had installed a shelf that could probably hold a good size rock collection securely to the wall.

My daughter is so happy that her Ariel snow globe has a safe place in her room.

Thank you Keni.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Natural Element Gardening: Part 2

My super sweet neighbor brought over 2 boxes of Black-Eyed-Susan (Rudbeckia Goldsturm) plants for my garden. Black-Eyed-Susans were one of my great-grandmother’s favorite flowers. Where she lived they were considered a weed but she kept a garden bed of the beautiful flowers in spite of the neighbor’s objections. I carefully arranged and transplanted them around two sides of my tree stump garden. Hopefully they enjoy their new home and bloom for years to come.

My tree stump garden looked like I was making progress but I still had two neighbors stop and ask if I was going to do more. So while I was out shopping for a few other things I did some impulse plant shopping. I had to set a price limit so I only looked at plants that were under $10. After a few bags of top soil and 18 new plants the bed is looking much nicer and like there is an official plan. (If they only knew.)

The street side of the stump is going to be left grass. There are no tree knees and it is wide enough to mow. Leaving the grass there also shows off one very nice knotty tree knee which is acting as a natural boarder.

The day lilies now have two Emerald Blue creeping Phlox as a boarder plant. I’m hoping the light blue flowers on the ground will complement the tall orange flowers.

Moving to the center of the tree stump garden the replanted Black-Eyed-Susans are next to the stump. In front of them I have arranged several purple and white irises. The purple irises are Siberian Iris ‘Ceasar’s Brother' (2) and Siberian Iris Pansy Purple (1). The white irises are Germanica 'Immortality' bearded iris and Iris Sibirica Snow Queen (2). The irises have two pink Forest Hill creeping phlox to help set them off.

The third side of the tree stump garden has more Black-Eyed-Susans next to the stump but they have Tickseed plants arranged in front of them. I picked the two kinds of tickseed because they will have pretty yellow flowers which should attack butterflies. I picked Tickseed Baby Sun (2) and Tickseed Moonbeam (2). The Moonbeam Tickseed is native to this area which is an extra bonus. These little beauties have two pink and white creeping phlox called Candy Stripes to complement them.

And last but not least, I moved a container onto the stump. In the pot I planted Snow-in-summer tomentosum and Butterfly weed tuberose. The Snow-in-summer should for a nice ground cover drapping from the pot. The frosted light green leaves should be a nice back drop for the green leaves of the other plants in the garden. The Butterfly weed tuberose should grow upwards to 18-20 inches and have beautiful red flowers to attract more butterflies. With the advice of my nice gardening neighbor I moved two other pots over to join the first larger one to fill out the stump.

I have about three more feet around of tree knees to plant around but for now it is looking pretty good. It is definitely a big change from the 55+ year-old rotting maple that was there last fall.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fall to Spring Pansies

The kids were thrilled to see that the pansies they thought were so beautiful in the fall came back for an encore this spring. When those droopy little green plants started to get perky and buds the kids weren't too sure what was happening. Now they are enjoying all of these little flower faces looking back at them from the garden beds.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Crispy Crust Spelt Pizza

This seemed too easy. The prep time was close to nothing and the kids ate dinner without any fuss.

I made thin crust pizza with spelt matzo. Unfortunately the oat matzo (gluten-free) is too soft and thin to make a decent pizza crust.

By using the broiler there is no oven preheating. The cooking spray makes cleaning any melted cheese easy.

Crispy Crust Spelt Pizza

  • Spelt matzo
  • Cooking spray
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. Place two matzo on each sheet. Spread pizza sauce on matzo and cover with cheese. Place in the broiler until cheese is melted.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wheat-free Cereal

My husband was so excited when he found multiple wheat-free cereals for me. He was about to get me one of each. I suggested we just start out with three and asked that he pick three that he thought the kids might like to try. He picked one of each: fruit, honey and chocolate. The kids were very good and tried a little of each. They both declared “I no like”. It was then my turn to try them. They aren’t bad for wheat-free. I might buy them again. I will defiantly not be stocking up for the year.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gefilte Fish: Fish Meatballs

Some of my friends dread being served gefilte fish and others look forward to it each year. Now that I have found a tasty pre-made gluten-free gefilte fish I’m stocking up for easy to prepare dinners for months to come. We’ll enjoy some as soup, on salad, on crackers, and any other way we can dream up.

Rokeach makes gifilte fish in Heimeshe Sweet and Gourmet sweet. The family has tried and loves the Heimeshe Sweet and in our mad dash to fill the pantry have purchased a couple of the gourmet to try.

Gefilte fish is basically a fish meatball with origins from western Europe. Wikipedia has wonderful photos and description of gefilte fish. There are many wonderful recipes on the web and in cook books for gefilte fish.

I came across a delightful Gifilte Fish Story by Lawrence Sherry on Cyber Kitchen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Osem Gluten-Free Cake

This is the time of year to stock up on some very tasty gluten-free cakes and goodies. One of my favorites is the Osem Marble Cake. It has just the right amount of chocolate and both parts of the cake are delicious. Their pound cake is just as good but if you happen to have a bit of pineapple Sunday topping to ladle across the top the presentation is a beautiful as it is tasty. The kids are huge fans of the pound cake and the chocolate chip cake. YES, the kids love the Osem gluten-free cakes. This speaks volumes since both can eat wheat. We hope to have as many as these treats in the freezer before they disappear until next year.

Osem on Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day: Green Memorials

I warned my husband that I was going to find another soap box to stand on after I walked the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The walk is less the two weeks away and I don’t think I’ll be able to wait that long and Earth Day seems to be a very appropriate day to climb on to my soap box…

One of the flowers I came across on my last training was anything but natural. Plastic poinsettias blown from a grave. The street along the cemetery always has plastic and silk flowers that have blown way from the graves they were meant to honor. Every time there is a storm or even a moderate wind more of these unnatural memorials are blown from their graves to the streets and yards of the nearby neighborhoods. They go from lovely sediment to litter with just one gust of wind. If they aren’t picked up in time they get blown or washed into nearby storm drains and washed into our water ways.

I would like to see what can be done about limiting graveside memorials to one which cannot be blown away (stone) or biodegradable (real flowers). There may be even a market for artificial flowers made out of corn like the biodegradable packing peanuts which would be more environmentally friendly. I’m hoping with all of the environmental awareness the cemetery owners and associations will agree post rules or suggestions as well as have grounds keepers remove plastic and silk flowers, balloons, etc on a continuous schedule to keep the surrounding neighborhoods clean and protect our environment.

Now that the soap box has been pulled out, I just need to find what the next step should be.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Avon Training & March of Dimes March for Babies Weekend

I can’t quite describe the weekend as a whirlwind but it was definitely a scheduling challenge.

Saturday morning I was out the door at 7:10 to walk 11.5 miles. About 4 miles into the walk I found a flaw with my walk route. Map My Run showed a through street between two apartment complexes which has been blocked by an 8’ high fence. I had to double back to and plot a new route around the road block and try to keep the mileage the same. When all was said and done I walked 11.78 miles on sidewalks over a number of “rolling hills”. Even thought I was walking alone for a mile or two I shared my walk route with a local high school’s fun run. I made a quick pit stop at Trader Joe’s to grab some turkey jerky for breakfast. I may have taken a wee bit too much time to stop and enjoy the spring flowers. My husband called to see were I was since I wasn’t back yet and obviously not keeping up 20 minute miles. All in all I had a very nice nearly 12 mile walk in just over 4 hours.

I made it home where the first thing I did was recalculate my route and distance. I took a quick shower before grabbing a sandwich and was out the door. I was off to help set up for the March of Dimes March for Babies the next day. I spent the next 6 hours folding 10 cases of incentive t-shirts which we were going to give away to walkers. Climbing in and out of a truck trailer is a great way of stretching out leg muscles. There was some talk of logistics for the next day which included many hopes for good walking weather for all of the walkers and for all of the volunteers.

Many of us had a sleepless night just hoping the rain would come through quickly or stall out and not come until Sunday night. The rain started just minutes before the alarm clock went off. Driving through the drizzle at the crack of dawn the hopes changed to just having a “Seattle rain” instead of the thunderstorms they were predicting. There was a see of purple volunteer t-shirts transferring food, t-shirts, and other goodies from trucks to their designated tents and tables. Then the rain started to really come down. Some of the purple shirts just ran faster and others were covered by rain coats. The march is rain or shine and we were preparing for our dedicated walkers and fund raisers either way. The closer we got to start time the harder the rain came down. Thunder and lighting caused a power surge and one of the adjacent building’s fire alarms went off. Three fire trucks came to check it out and reset the alarm when the all clear was given. Through all the rain and commotion the walkers came. We directed them to parking, to registration, and to the food tent. When walk time came we had to make the hard decision of not sending them out on the 4 mile course. Instead they walked around the block for a short ½ mile course. I greeted them congratulating them on finishing the entire course so quickly, welcoming them to our communal shower and to our new baby shower fund raiser. They appreciated the humor. They were there for a cause and they weren’t leaving before they marched for babies. They were going to stamp out premature births no mater how much it was raining.

All of the after march activities I had been arranging for months had to be canceled. I so appreciate Gunston Manor Band, Mad Science of DC, AKS Massage School, Sparky the Firefighting Dog, and McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog volunteering to come and entertain the walkers and volunteers. We thank My Gym, The Fun Bus, and Andy’s Parties for braving the weather before packing back up to go home. I especially want to thank Marty Kaplan who photographed the entire soggy event. We hope that each are willing to come back next year.

I would also like to thank my husband for all the time he spent watching the kids this weekend and for volunteering for one of the soggy check points with our Mannaheim friends. And special thanks to our friends at Mannaheim for all of your encouragement and for braving the weather to help when I needed you.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Flowering Cabbages

My Bok Choy and Wong Bok didn’t do great last fall because their late planting, all of the caterpillars followed by a few hard freezes. But they sure do look gorgeous now. I’m dreading having to pull them out to prepare the bed for a spring crop.

On one of my training walks I noticed one of the businesses I passed had what looked like bok choy in there flower bed by their main entrance. It was quite beautiful all in bloom against the dark red bricks and a row of pansies in front of them. And a gentle man walking by my garden stopped to tell me he had intentionally left a section of his kale bed go last fall in hopes they would bloom this spring because they have such beautiful flowers. I'm feeling less guilty about leaving in my failed fall crop and might just consider it successful spring flowers.

I do need to find an organic way of controlling the cabbage butterflies this year. Picking them off nightly barely made a dent into their population and destruction last fall.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wild Violets

A few in the neighborhood think I’m crazy and amazing number completely understand my desire not to use pesticides and herbicides on my lawn. I want a beautiful yard but I also want a healthy one that the kids and critters can play one without getting sick from chemicals. I also do want the death of the Chesapeake to be on my lawn. As the latest commercials say Maryland blue crab should die to be on your plate not from nasty chemicals in the bay.

Right now my yard isn’t ready for the cover Southern Living or Martha Stewart and to be honest they may never be. I would be flattered if it was even considered for the cover of Mother Earth. I’ve been hand picking out invasive species like garlic mustard, local pest like wild strawberries, and the junipers and such the birds have been so helpful in planting through out the yard. As I just told one neighbor the good thing about the drought last summer was it made it much easier to pick out the weeds. They were the green plants. I’ve been pacing the yard yanking one unwanted guest at a time. During all of the hours of weeding I’ve made sure I haven’t pulled on wild violet. I think these little flowers are beautiful. They come up in the spring with just after the crocuses and grape hyacinths (Armeniacum Blue Spike). They pepper the yard with pretty purple and purple and white flowers. They seem to be easy to control with just regular mowing of the yard. I am hoping this is the right kind of plant diversity for a healthy and beautiful yard.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Saving Socks: One Pair at a Time

I’ve been on a crusade to save children’s socks since the birth of my son. If you thought the washer and dryer lived only on adult size socks you are completely mistaken. Those cute little baby and toddler socks are the perfect appetizer for those big machines. I have found the best way of preventing small socks from being gobbled up is to put them into a sweater or other washable laundry bag. The dirty socks go in at the end of each day and on laundry day it gets tied shut. The handy little bag then just goes from washer to dryer then to the right kids pile of clean laundry. I just dump the contents into their sock drawers and put the bag back next to their hampers to get refilled. Over all it works really well. There have been a few occasions where the bag has come untied and the great sock hunt through all the clean laundry had to happen but this is rare. It is amazing how much work can be saved by one little well tied bag.

Since the kids were young I have been training them to put their dirty socks into their sock bags. They have gotten pretty good about it and only need the occasional reminder. Now if I can just train their dad to use them too.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What Cancer Cannot Do

I came across this poem on the web. It brought tears to my eyes. I just had to pass it on. It is posted on numerous other pages but none that I found listed an actual author to credit.

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited…

It cannot cripple love

It cannot shatter hope

It cannot corrode faith

It cannot destroy peace

It cannot kill friendship

It cannot suppress memories

It cannot silence courage

It cannot invade the soul

It cannot steal eternal life

It cannot conquer the spirit

- Author Unknown

“What Cancer Cannot Do”

Embroidery chart – T-shirts & totes

The Breast Cancer Mall – journals, stationary and other stuff

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New York Bagels

Finding a wheat-free or gluten-free bagel that taste like a bagel is supposed to has been a difficult task. The closest I have found to a good New York Bagel or one of dad’s homemade is Kinnikinnick Foods New York bagel. So far I have tried the plain and the sesame seed bagels. They are very good with a nice flavor and texture. I not sure they would stand up to a side by side taste test but then if you can’t eat wheat you won’t be doing that any way now are you. Locally I have found Kinnikinnick bagels at Healthway Natural Foods. The Kinnikinnick Foods website has a store finder to find a store near you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Philly Cheese Steaks on Tapioca Hamburger Buns

I so miss Capriotti’s Cheesessteaks back in Delaware. I first missed them when I moved to another state and discovered the use of “Philly” in a description of a cheese steak has been completely misused. Growing up in the greater Philadelphia area (okay eastern Pennsylvania) I don’t recall anyone putting fresh tomatoes and lettuce or mayo on a cheese steak or least not a PHILLY cheese steak. I had seen lots of choices in types of fried or pickled peppers, onion or kinds of cheese but never mayo.

Then once I finally figured out how to order a cheese steak and get a Philly cheese steak when I wasn't in Philly or Delaware I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy. Since then when I have visited friends in Delaware I have stopped by Capriotti’s and asked for a Philly with sweet peppers, fried onions, provolone cheese and NO bread. It is such a soupy mess in the take out dish, but it taste oh so good. I’ve been looking for a good wheat-free bread that could come close to my memory of how good the homemade sub roles at Capriotti’s are to make a real sandwich instead of the cheese steak soup I have been having. Well I don’t think it exist, but I’m going to keep looking.

In the meantime I may have to settle with Ener-G Foods Tapioca Hamburger Buns. I found them at Healthway Natural Foods and decided to try them. These buns are completely gluten free. The first time I tried one of these buns a few months ago with a hamburger. I took two or three bites and gave the rest to the birds. The other night I decided it was to give them another try or give the rest too the birds too. Must say I was surprised how well the buns held up in the refrigerator. Most of the rice breads I have tried were moldy within a few days and even on the first day home very crumbly. The buns looked and felt as fresh as the day I opened the package nearly 2 months earlier. Maybe a gooey cheesy greasy cheese steak filling on top would make it taste good. Well it worked. I layered cheese, fried onions, onions, and steak and another layer of cheese and it tasted wonderful. After the hamburger I would have said I would never buy these again. Now I might need to give them another chance or at least buy them for my next trip to a Capriotti’s Sandwich Shops.

For those of you not familiar with a cheesesteak here is Wikipedia’s page

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shops

If you can eat wheat and find yourself neat a Capriotti’s you have to try their bobby sandwich. A bobby was another one of my favorites. A bobby has homemade turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayo on their fresh sub rolls. I have yet to find away I can have one of these on a wheat free diet without making everything from scratch.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Training Weekend 4/14

It was another weekend training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and preparing for the March of Dimes® March for Babies™.

The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer held training walks throughout the area to help prepare for the walk. Lucky for me there was a 6 mile training walk starting only a little more then 2 miles from my home. I walked to and from the ‘event’ and was able to get a good 10 mile walk in while meeting some interesting people. One of the walkers said she told her trainer she was going to only walk 6 miles on Saturday. She asked us when did 6 miles become ONLY 6 miles. In spite of forecast for rain we had great weather for walking with only a few sprinkles during my last 2 miles. I guess carrying my rain coat the entire walk once again guaranteed good walking weather. Now if I had thought sun instead of possible thunderstorms I wouldn't have sunburn matching my pink Avon t-shirt. I’m hoping on walk weekend the predictions are for good weather so I don’t need to carry rain gear. I checked and my hip pack and loaded belt weighed 8 pounds when I left the house. No rain gear would mean a lighter load. It was a good training walk. I managed 10 miles in about 4 hours plus a few breaks and learned I need to do more walking before the big weekend.

Everything seems to be falling in place for the March of Dimes® March for Babies™. Our walk is this coming Sunday and we are hoping for great weather, great turn out and lots of funds to help prevent prematurely and healthy babies.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Walking in the Zone

Those with allergies and other food restrictions will understand the need to take your own food to many events and gatherings. My need to avoid wheat gets more challenging while walking or working charity events. The need for high carbohydrate foods and foods that are easy to feed the masses usually is not compatible with wheat or gluten-free diets.

One of the treats I often pack as my walking snack or lunch are The Zone Perfect Bars. The bars are offered for people following The Zone diet by Dr. Sears. The diet promotes using a balanced diet wisely to promote good health. I have found that many of their bars are wheat-free. These bars come individually wrapped and easy to fit into a pocket, pouch or my purse. Along with being very portable I have found them to be quite tasty. I have liked just about every flavor I have tried but my favorite has to be the chocolate graham bar. As someone who has not been able to eat a graham cracker for 6 years I find the chocolate graham bar a wonderful way of having the taste of a wheat treat without the wheat.

If you have a wheat allergy read the labels carefully. I picked up the same bar in two different stores. One had wheat and the other did not.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Black Lentil & Feta Salad

Since my first attempt to use black lentils in a cold lunch dish didn’t meet great success I’m trying again. This time I think I found a winner for the adults but not so much for the kids. My lunch experiment was just 4 ingredients tossed together: precooked peas, corn and lentils and some feta cheese. No dressing was need for this salad. It is quite tasty. I tried a version without the feta dinner to see if the kids would accept those little black spots in their beloved peas and corn. NOPE! Definitely not. You should have seen the faces my daughter made. The husband liked it and would enjoy it even more with feta. The out come of this experiment is a tasty salad for the adults and back to the cutting board for the kids.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Flowering Forsythia

In 1991 I had just moved out of my parents’ home into my own. It was a time of a lot of changes and possibilities. I was experimenting with being a World Book salesperson. I discovered that it was a wonderful product but defiantly not a job for me. The wonderful person trying to train me gave me a bag of trimmings from her forsythia which I planted in my new yard. A few years latter when I moved away I dug up on of the small bushes which took from those trimmings. The poor thing has traveled from home to home in the same pot ever since. I’ve decided this is the year that it gets to find a home in the yard. I just need to find the perfect place for it to set its roots to call home.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bento: Just chilling

For some reason every ice block I have ever gotten for my lunches has always sprung a leak. I doesn’t seem to matter how careful I am. It is just a matter of time before its contents will ooze out of its container all over my lunch. So now as soon as I get a new one I put it into a freezer Ziplock® baggie that way when ever it does leak the mess is contained and easily disposed of. It is a good idea to periodically check the baggie for holes or tears from rubbing against lunch containers and silver ware.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rice Salad: Lentils & Pineapple Salsa

  • Rice, cooked & chilled
  • Lentils, pre-cooked & chilled
  • Trader Joe’s Pineapple Salsa

I mixed up a quick little rice salad as an experiment. I’m trying to find easy to prepare cold dishes I can send with the kids for lunch. While I found this combination quite tasty I can’t imagine my son eating it. I’m back to the cutting board.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Natural Gardening Elements

I have been trying to decide what would be the best plants to plant around my “natural gardening elements”, aka tree stump with accompanying roots and knees. I have had a few people suggest I rent a stump grinder and grind out all of the old wood so I could have a smooth picture perfect green lawn. I might do that for the other two of the stumps we have from cutting down poorly placed silver maples, but not this one. This stump isn’t just a single stump emerging from the ground. This stump has surface roots and knees which spread out over a good chunk of the front yard. Mowing around all those roots isn’t fun and takes a good bit of time but grinding them all out would be even more challenging.

Through creative eyes, this stump is a piece of art which took years of growth to become what it is now. Picture a forest scene with toad stools, fairies and gnomes and you have an idea of what I envision around this old stump. I’m envisioning a patchwork of different plants planted in the sections formed by the intertwining roots. The question is what plants would work in this now sunny spot with lots of roots to dig around.

My kind neighbor has graciously helped me with part of this planning by donating some beautiful day lilies she needed to move. The American Hemerocallis Society (AHS) describes the day lilly as the “perfect perennial”. These easy to care for and beautiful flowers will do wonderfully in their new sunny garden while welcoming butterflies to our yard. Now I just need to find some complementary plants to join them.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Training Update: 4/7

You know it sounds like a good idea to train with the team and walk 7.5 miles until you have to get up on the weekend like it is a weekday. The weatherman was calling for temperatures in the mid 50s AND raining. What was I thinking? Oh, well you got to do what you got to do. It was time for positive thinking and a few prayers for only a light rain or sunshine.

It must have been a training walk that was meant to be. It stopped raining as I left the house and it actually got up to the mid 60s. The overcast skies made for a great walking day. Our fearless leader mapped out a fantastic route winding through nice neighborhoods. She made sure there were plenty of rolling hills to match the potential routes through Washington DC. We all paired up and took off. One group did a 14 mile route while the other two did the 7.5 one. I had a great walking buddy to chat with and keep up a decent pace. We kept a good pace and did our 7.5 miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

I had hoped to do another 6-7 miles on Sunday but the weather did me in. I am such a wimp. The stalled weather front brought rain and cooler temperatures. I stuck an arm out the front door and quickly retreated to the warm and dry house. I’ll have to try to do another walk a little longer next Saturday. I have 25 days more to get ready to walk 33 miles in one weekend. I just have to keep repeating “I can do it”.

The good news is I'm feeling good. A few stiff muscles but they are all working. The gardening I did in the afternoon might have been just the right amount to keep things from cramping up.

I just need $45 more in donations to meet the minimum to walk and $445 dollars short of my fundraising goal for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Spotlight: Rails to Trails Conservancy

Rails to Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization who works with communities in the United States to preserved unused rail corridors by converting them into trails. They publish a magazine for their members and website promoting trails and news relevant to biking and walking along with other news relevant to enhancing the health of America's environment, economy, neighborhoods and people. They promote policies at the national and state levels to make trail building possible.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spelt Bread

I haven’t found a gluten-free bread that I really like for sandwiches, French toast, etc. Most of the ones I have tried are very expensive and grainy and dry. The last few loaves I tried crumbled when I made a sandwich the day I brought the loaf home and with in days got moldy and that was even with storing it in the refrigerator. Since I can tolerate gluten and can eat spelt I have been sticking with Traders Joe’s Organic Spelt Bread. The texture and taste remind me of an old fashion whole wheat bread. I like the taste and the rest of the family does too. It does run about twice the price of a loaf of white wheat bread from the corner grocery store but it cost much less then the gluten-free loaf breads.

I do find the store bought spelt bread great for sandwiches but not so much for French toast, bread pudding and those other dishes which call for a lighter tasting bread. For these I make a homemade spelt bread in the bread machine with either all white spelt flour or 2/3 white spelt and 1/3 whole spelt fours. The spelt flour works relatively well in the bread machine for the regular white bread recipe.

Friday, April 4, 2008

These Nuggets Are Not Golden

Ian’s chicken nuggets, as much as I enjoyed the fish sticks I am equally disappointed with their chicken nuggets. These chicken nuggets are free of wheat, gluten, casein, milk, eggs, nuts and soy. The outside was more chewy then crunchy after baking. The texture on the inside was mushy. The nuggets are made of overly ground up chicken and gluten-free breading. I had flash backs to the early chicken McNuggets but even they were better then these. The texture and taste just aren’t what they should be.

Trader Joe’s Breaded Chickenless Nuggets are also on the don’t buy again list. I actually purchased this by accident. Since I wasn’t buying them for me, they contain wheat, I didn’t read the label and was in such a hurry I missed the “less” in the “chickenless”. The kids asked for catsup and peanut butter to ad flavor to their’s. The husband who normally stays away from anything spicy was looking for some hot sauce to add some flavor to them.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cape Cod The Way it Feels

I’m doing another physical therapy to improve what the drunk driver messed up years ago. The new doctor recommended I go to a “healing place” while he worked on some bad spots. He mentioned an example of tropical beaches... That is so far away from the place I like to think about. I spent many of summers camping out on Cape Cod. The beautiful kettle ponds lined by wind swept pine forest. The air filled with smells of salt breezes and pine needles.

In my Sept 25, 2007 blog I mentioned this poem was posted by my friend Jay. His site has many beautiful photos of the Cape and other places he has traveled.

Cape Cod The Way it Feels

© 1997 Merrily Wolf

Oh, those lazy Cape Cod days . . .
Sitting beside a peaceful pond,

Reading a good long novel . . .
Or playing chess on an old soft wool blanket,

Brightly painted damsel flies darting about . . .
Dragonflies stirring up the smell of drying pine needles,

The soft sudden sound of fish jumping . . .
Or a swimmer's stroke breaking the water's surface,

The chorus of croaking frogs. . .
As they leap from the shimmering green lily pads,

Walking along the pond's sandy shore . . .
Picking sweet indigo berries off high blueberry bushes,

A glass of cool tart lemon aid . . .
A cold tuna fish sandwich on a hot summer's day.

Oh, those lazy Cape Cod days . . .
Kite flying on the breezy Beach,

Soft white clouds drifting high above . . .
Seagulls gliding in gentle salt water breezes,

Perched pine trees gently molded by the wind,
Rolling white dunes topped with swaying beach grass,

Bright red rose hips bobbing to and fro . . .
Grains of white sand sliding down the face of the dunes,

Collecting gritty sand and smooth stones . . .
Making sandcastles and mermaids just beyond the waves. . .

Sandpiper charging and retreating from the surf . . .
Their sanctuary marked by conch shells and sand dollars,

The waves breaking on the sand bars . . .
Scattering the crying gray and white herring gulls.

Oh, those lazy Cape Cod days . . .
Walking along the old wood pier,

Tall weather faded wood pilings . . .
Decorated with clusters of bumpy barnacles,

The gentle splashing of the waves . . .
Against the buoys as their bells chime,

The low bellow of a lone fog horn . . .
Through the mist a beckoning light guides the seaman ashore,

Worn fishing boats laying silently on their keels . . .
Flounders gliding by with the out going tide,

The fishermen gathering in their nets . . .
And sorting their day's catch with great care and pride,

The luring smell of the fresh fish market . . .
Bulging blues, thick tunas, lively lobsters, and more

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Remember typing 01134 on your calculator in school and spinning it upside down to see the word hello. Hello Communications in the United Kingdom used as their URL. Now in the world of the internet and email there are so many creative characters made up of various letters, numbers and symbols found on the keyboard.

Then came the emoticon. Without tone of voice and body language those emails and chats can seem pretty cold. This is an attempt to ‘personalize’ the sometimes relatively cold world of email and written form. has a wonderful write up and samples of these little creations.

:-) Smile

(-_-) Bored

/)_- Duh!

{:-€ Cthulhu

And what I was truly hoping to find was a page full of little characters such as this cute bunny. I’ve seen roses and other doodles in the past but as usual once you go to look for them they are………………gone.

(\ /)
( . .)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

These Shoes Were Made for Walking

Okay March didn’t see much marching. I only did four, yes that is 4, training walks. In those four walks I managed to do over 15 miles but that isn’t going to be enough. This month needs to see much more cement under these soles if I’m going to have a chance at walking 20 miles in one day.

With the matching funds calculated in I’m about $500 short of meeting the minim for walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and $500 short of my goal for the March of Dimes® March for Babies™ .

The March of Dimes March for Babies after walk hoopla for the Reston Town Center walk is starting to take form. The Gunston Manor Band has confirmed they will be performing. We have also received confirmations from AKS Massage School, FUN BUS, Kaplan Photography, Mad Science of Washington, Sparky the Fire Fighting Dog, and others. Other members of the committee are working hard to make sure we have more then enough food to feed all our wonderful walkers and valiant volunteers. The only thing left to do is to hope for great walking and picnicking weather.