Friday, February 3, 2012

News from UK

I thought I would send out an update on Erica for the family. She has settled in and has figured out the basics of city living in the UK. She bought herself a bike to make getting around town easier. We Skype at least twice a week, and yes, I made her drag her computer around the apartment so I could see her place. LOL. I am sure there was some eye rolling, but she did it. She just sent an email this week that struck a chord....apparently, science in the UK is the same as science in the US. Department meetings and politics take up so much time that Erica feels like there is never enough time to work on her actual project. And budget concerns are basically the same too. They were just informed that due to budget cuts they were losing a lab technician and would have to absorb the extra busy yeah. Same stuff, different country.

All in all, though, she sounds happy. People seem to go out and socialize a good bit. She has joined a gym, and is working towards some event in the fall. Maybe a marathon...? I have forgotten exactly. One thing is this physical race where you crawl through mud and tunnels and all kinds of crazy stuff. Looks positively AWFUL to me, but Bruce is thinking its cool. But training for that and work, and being social has left Erica with zero free time. But she is enjoying herself. One thing I am disappointed in is the lack of pictures. My daughter just does NOT enjoy snapping photos around town. Oh well, I plan to do plenty of that when we visit. And even better, Stephen and Hannia are visiting in March, so I feel sure Hannia will remedy the lack of pictures dilemma. They are not only just visiting Erica in York, but the 3 of them are then traveling on to spend several days in Barcelona, Spain. We will get pics from both places, I hope. Bruce and I considered traveling somewhere else as well. But I decided that I wanted to get really familiar with York this first visit (we are going in April). I like to be able to picture the environment my kids are in. It makes me feel better somehow. I want to not only do the touristy things, but I want to see the university campus, the places she likes to shop....get a feel for how her daily life is there. But anyway, things seem good for Erica in the UK. Same headaches with the job as here, but I know she is enjoying being in a new city. She is planning on going with friends to Munich for Oktoberfest.....and the ability to just pick up and go to another place so easily there...I know she is happy to have this experience. And although I AM missing her, Skype makes it better and seriously? I am glad she took this chance to experience all of this, too. Now, if she would only take some pictures....LOL.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ice Cream

I've been thinking about ice cream a lot lately. Is that weird? In Jan-Feb.? Well, it WAS in the low 70's here for the past few days. But I think it has more to do with trying to eat healthier. It triggers some kind of craving every single time. So I was thinking about ice cream, and how the BEST ice cream I have ever eaten was the home made, hand churned kind my grandmother used to make every now and then in the hottest part of the summer. She had this huge front porch and it seems like everybody did most of their living out there when days were warm. She had lots of rocking chairs and a big sturdy porch swing. I think I'm getting nostalgic... I do remember the churn being loaded with ice and rock salt. And that hand churning was a long involved process. The churn got passed around so everybody had a turn, but once it started to set up and get thick, my Grandfather took over as it got harder and harder to turn the crank. Maybe one of the best parts was the anticipation...? It always felt like we waited an eternity for the churning to be done. But it was SO worth it. I remember vanilla, and occasionally chocolate. But my favorite was banana. I think it was the same basic vanilla recipe, but if there were a couple of ripe bananas going to waste, they got thrown in to the mix. So delicious. I have often thought about buying an ice cream churn. Probably an electric one. But fear always holds me back. For one thing, I am always afraid that the memory of that ice cream is better than the actual thing. How disappointing would that be? OR...what if it truly is as delicious as my memory says that it is? And I have a churn to make it whenever the mood strikes? I don't want my family to find me weighing over 500 pounds wallowing in sticky puddles of melted ice cream. For now, I think I'm better off thinking about it instead of eating it. Maybe this summer I will break down and buy one.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Sign of Things To Come.....

I was ready to put last week behind us. The cat, Stephen being so sick, car issues for both Stephen AND us...... Who can blame me? So I spent the weekend shaking off the bad vibes and started gearing myself up to welcome a fresh new week. A girl can hope, right? And so out the door I went this morning, feeling refreshed and ready for my day.....and that's when I spotted it. A FLAT tire. First thing on Monday morning. What a way to start the day. NOT!!! Oh well, I have another car that I used and thank God for that. I WAS late for work but no one seemed to notice. And by the time that I got home, just a few minutes ago, Hubby had repaired the tire, pumped it up, and had it ready to go. It had a nail in it..... So now I'm torn. I feel like I should be grateful that it didn't really slow me down all that much. A spare car and a handy husband made it only a slight inconvenience. But I still have this nagging fear in the back of my mind that this week will be a repeat of the last one. It can't possibly be that, can it? No, I am NOT going to give in to negativity. It was just a bump in the road and everything will be just fine. Fabulous, even. Right? No seriously...I AM right.....right?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Diets...sort of

We have been trying to eat healthier. Not diet, exactly. And we are also trying to minimize carbs. Again...not LOW carb exactly. Just lower carbs, smarter carbs. I refuse to give up certain things like fruit. But I haven't had bread in weeks. I guess you could say we are doing something more like the "no white" diet...but we are minimizing even the whole grain breads, cereals and pastas, too. Within reason. The idea of never eating pasta again is positively obscene to me. I am perfectly fine with the whole grain pastas...but NO pasta just ain't happening.

But ok, lower carb for us. I have been doing some checking online for ideas, tips and recipes. If you have any to share, it would be greatly appreciated. But one thing I kept coming across was a recipe for baked make a crispy "chip" substitute snack. I decided I had to try it. I did it this morning and Bruce was immediately suspicious. It looked weird. It made the house smell a bit like collards. But at some point this morning, about half of the plate of kale chips disappeared and he decided that they were actually "OK". And they are. Surprisingly tasty. I bought more fresh kale at the grocery store this afternoon to try again. I added too much salt the first attempt. And I cooked them just a bit too long. Now, I know, and I will be making another attempt soon.

Anyway, if you want to try these, it is extremely simple. Take fresh kale, making sure it is completely dry. Rip it into smaller bite sized pieces, discarding the stems. Toss in a bowl with just a spritz of olive oil and salt to taste. Place on a baking sheet with no overlapping, and bake at about 250 degrees for 20-30 minutes until crisp. Some people were experimenting with garlic and other seasoning, but the flavor is delicious without it. No carbs, very few calories in a wonderfully crispy snack. Apparently you have to pretty much make only what you will eat in a day or so, as these don't really keep well. They lose the crispness.