Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Revenant


This movie is different. For one thing, you really don’t see too many Westerns anymore. Secondly, it was a very satisfying, suspenseful tale of unfulfilled revenge and honor. There was plenty of action, blood, and history  to keep you on the edge of your seat.

What does revenant mean? I had never heard this word before. A revenant is a person who has returned from the dead for revenge.

The Revenant movie was inspired by the adventures of Hugh Glass. Hugh Glass was a fur trapper/mountain man from the 1820s. It seems to be true that he was attacked by a bear, left for dead, and recovered enough to return to civilization to serve revenge to the men who had both deserted him and killed his son.

The Revenant is set in 1823 in Montana and South Dakota during the Louisiana Purchase. Hugh Glass  guides an expedition of fur trappers to the frontier to gather  beaver pelts to sell to the French. They are in direct competition with the native Americans who hate all white men but like the guns and horses they can get from trading with the French. The natives attack the trappers to steal the pelts. A small group of the trappers escape on a boat down the Missouri River. They decide to abandon the boat to avoid capture.  While camping, one of the men, Hugh Glass, is brutally attacked by a bear. The rest of the group rescues him and tries to heal him while transporting him on a travois back to the fort.  Glass seems to be on the verge of death and is slowing the hunting party down so they leave him behind with 2 men and his son with the idea that they will bury him if he dies or bring him back if he recovers. One of the men, John Fitzgerald,  wants to leave him, and tries to strangle him but is interrupted by Glass’ son. He stabs the son as Glass watches and is too helpless to intervene. Glass is thrown into a grave and partially buried. Fitzgerald convinces the third man, Jim Bridger, that Glass is dead and the son wants to stay with him and that they should leave before the indians return. The next day, Hugh Glass crawls out of his grave and painstakingly begins his journey for revenge.

It was a long movie – 2 hours and 36 minutes and I liked it. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy were dirty and disheveled and very manly. It was suspenseful and interesting to watch DiCaprio overcome incredible obstacles just to survive while maintaining his code of ethics. Revenge is a powerful motivator. The best part of the movie was the scenery which was just beautiful. The stark, lonely, snowy mountains and forest and freezing rivers were breathtaking. It was the old west where men survived by their wits, strengths, and convictions.

 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Breakfast of Champions

This is what I had for breakfast today:

 
One scrambled egg made with 1 egg, 1 egg white, a chopped ham slice, and a splash of milk – cooked in a non-stick skillet sprayed with pam. (approximately 153 calories).
 
Ten fresh spinach leaves and 8 grape tomatoes. (approximately 31 calories)
 
Coffee with 3 packets of Equal sweetener and a splash of low fat milk.(approximately 30 calories)

This is a hearty and filling breakfast for about 214 calories. If I am really, really hungry, I will add an extra egg white which only raises the calorie count to 231 calories.

I like to eat this particular breakfast on Monday through Friday. Weekdays are the days when I work the hardest or am on the run and need some super fuel to keep me going. I like oatmeal on Saturdays and pancakes or French toast on Sundays. Eating the same thing for breakfast everyday gets too boring and can make you want a donut.

It is hard for me to cook and eat eggs first thing in the morning. I am not a morning person and do not feel like eating until noonish. I cook and eat them anyway and I feel better afterwards. I like getting in a few vegetables first thing in the morning too. 

You can easy add more vegetables without changing the calorie count and you can make an omelet with the same amount of eggs for variety. Substituting  Canadian bacon for ham doesn’t change the calorie count too much and tastes a little different. Other variations will usually cause the calorie count to increase: adding cheese, bacon, or sausage.

I discovered this breakfast when I was doing  the DASH diet. I highly recommend the Dash Diet. I lost 10 pounds  last year but I gained them back plus a few more. I am not the type of person who can do a restricted diet. I do stick to the bare bones of the diet and am healthy because of it. I’m trying to find some kind of compromise that I can live with, not feel deprived, and still lose weight. Am I dreaming? Maybe. Just not ready for that gastric bypass.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Easy Black Bean and Sausage Soup

 This is a delicious and easy soup to prepare. It is very filling and satisfying to eat, especially on a cold day. It a very healthy soup. You can make it even healthier:  1. substituting turkey sausage and draining the fat,  2. rinsing the beans in water to remove the salt,  3. using reduced salt broth, and  4. adding shredded vegetables such as  spinach, carrots, peppers, corn, or onion. It can be simmered all day on the stovetop as long as you have enough water and stir it occasionally.


Ingredients:

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 lbs. hot ground sausage
3 - 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and/or rinsed
2-3 medium potatoes, pared and cubed
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 garlic powder
4 beef bouillon cubes
4 cups water
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water.

Spread vegetable oil in a heavy dutch oven. Brown sausage over medium heat, crumbling meat into fine pieces as it cooks. Drain grease and rinse meat in a colander if desired and place back in the pan. Add beans, potatoes, onion powder, garlic powder, and broth and simmer for at least 2 hours. Maintain a level of water of about an inch above the meat and vegetables. Just before serving,  mix 1 tbsp. cornstarch in 1/2 cup cold water. Bring soup to a boil and slowly add in the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly until soup thickens. Serve or reduce heat to warm or low setting to hold.

This soup tastes even better the next day and freezes beautifully.

Monday, January 11, 2016

January Blues


I'm on my fourth cup of coffee this morning and I just can’t get moving. I hate mornings.Winter mornings are the worst. It is cold, cloudy, and snowy outside. Very depressing. 

There is nothing to look forward to today. I have to diet, exercise, clean the house, and put away the rest of the Christmas decorations today. I have been avoiding these things for over a week now and I really need to get to work. All the dust in the house is hurting my head and making me sneeze and if I don’t get in better shape soon, I will not enjoy my vacation to Arizona in March.

I am still upset about the spat I had with my husband yesterday. Weekends have become difficult for us lately. We are always getting in each other’s way. He is cheerful and wants to converse as soon as he jumps out of bed. I need a couple of cups of coffee before I can talk. He has been learning to cook breakfast on Sunday morning because I cannot function enough to cook first thing in the morning  and we are tired of going out. He is really proficient in making waffles, pancakes, and bacon but cooking eggs has been frustrating him. He was very disappointed with the way his breakfast turned out. His fried eggs were a total failure but I thought everything else was delicious. Then I saw the kitchen! It was a disaster! There was pancake batter everywhere and the skillets were ruined! His finger prints were all over the place. I foolishly complained about what a slob he was and he got very angry. It put him in a bad mood for the rest of the day. 

Marriage is a difficult balance. Should you be honest or should you tell little white lies to keep things running smooth? It is a judgement call and sometimes you make the wrong decision. 

Let’s look for the good things:

I will feel really good if I can start living healthier. I just need to make better choices and think about what I am doing. I need to find foods and activities that I can enjoy and that are good for me. That will be a bit of a challenge.

I have the freedom to sit on the couch all day or I can clean the house when I feel like it. I will see how I feel after I have exercised today. Maybe I will be energized. Maybe I will take a lot of little breaks. 

Maybe the old ball and chain will be in a better mood today. He is usually a cheerful person but it is Monday so I don’t know how his day will go.

I’m going to keep telling myself: “Life is good.”  It could be much, much worse.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Easy Pulled Pork Crock Pot Recipe

Today I am sharing a recipe for pulled pork. It is easy to make and very moist and delicious to eat. The leftovers taste even better. You might want to double or triple the recipe.

Ingredients:
Pork shoulder roast (2 Pounds)
Garlic powder (1 tbsp)                              
Onion power  (1 tbsp.)
Brown Sugar (2-3 tbsp.)
Chicken broth (1 - 12oz can)

Place pork in crockpot. Sprinkled generously with garlic and onion powder and brown sugar. Pour chicken broth around meat. Cook on high for 1-2 hours, then then low for at least 6 hours. Remove from crockpot and shred.

We ate our pulled pork last night with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce and sides of steamed green beans, corn on the cob, and roasted peppers and onions. washed down with frosty glasses of lemonade. It was an awesome summer meal! Tonight we will have pork sliders topped with pickles and onions, salad, and chips. Tomorrow I will fry the leftover meat in a greased skillet just until the ends are crispy and serve on tortillas. We will add salsa, lettuce, and tomatoes and sides of refried beans.



Thursday, July 16, 2015

Magic Mike XXL Review


Have you seen Magic Mike XXL?

I watched it last night with three of my girlfriends. We enjoyed it but I was a little disappointed. The original Magic Mike was much better. I missed Matthew McConaughey. I need to watch that movie again!

Anyway, Mike Lane’s life has gone sour since he retired from stripping. He joins his old stripper friends who are on their way to Myrtle Beach for a stripper convention. Road trip!!!

The trip to Myrtle Beach was silly. Quite frankly, it was pretty boring and painful to watch.  The guys were trying to help each other find each one’s own true authentic self in order to find happiness. It was good theme but it could have been more entertaining. This part was a little too long and very awkward. It should have been funny and sexy with more action. That’s what we wanted to see.

There was an odd stop at a brothel owned by Jada Pinkett Smith that catered to African American women.  That was pretty sexy and I loved how women of all shapes and sizes were included.

The best part was the Stripper Convention. It was super sexy and passionate. Hot! It was just what we wanted. So hot! The dancing was exciting and provocative.

My friends and I decided that we like the movie and we all want to go to a Stripper Convention. Is there such a thing? I hope so.  I’m putting it on my bucket list.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Girls Night Out

It sounds like a fun, sexy night but in reality it is just five old married or divorced women getting together to talk, drink and have some fun without their husbands and boyfriends around.

Every couple of weeks we meet at someone’s house or at a restaurant to talk, eat, and drink. We talk about hot flashes and our families and jobs. Sometimes we cry but mostly we laugh our asses off, especially after a few drinks.

Last week I hosted a taco salad night for the five of us. I sent my husband and visiting adult son off to get haircuts and then to visit their favorite restaurant. I served lettuce, taco meat, fajita chicken, and shredded cheese. The chicken was John Soules Fajita Chicken from the freezer department of Wal-Mart which was simply heated in a skillet for 5 minutes – so easy! I browned a few pounds of hamburger earlier in the day, added taco seasoning and water. I simmered it in the Crockpot all afternoon. I set out festive red plates and green napkins. The girls brought tomatoes, onions, chips and salsa. Someone brought cupcakes for dessert. We had a variety of beer and wine. Delicious!

We got a little crazy with the cupcakes. There were eight of them and they were giant sized. There were 4 different flavors. How were we going to divide them between 5 people so we could try each flavor? Well, we cut the first four into 5 pieces and shared and saved the others to take home. We each got a small bite of each flavor. I don’t know about you but I would rather have had a whole cupcake and I am talking about the chocolate fudge one.

We seem to be talking a lot about our aging parents and problematic adult children lately. We discuss
and try to figure what to do with these needy people. We all have them and we are happy to have them but they are very tricky to care for.

This week we got off topic on why does your urine smell bad after you eat asparagus. We looked it up on the internet but couldn’t find a satisfactory answer. Somehow this led to a discussion about airing out your privates. We all decreed that you should not sleep in your underwear! We laughed so much that night! Everyone had a really good time.

Laughing is good for you. Life is stressful and laughing makes you feel better. It causes your body to take in more oxygen which stimulates your all your vital organs. It relaxes your muscles. Frequent laughter can improve your mood and reduce pain. We really need to find more things to laugh about. Laughter is truly the best medicine, especially when shared with your friends!

I can’t wait to do it again.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Home Sweet Home


 
Last summer we moved into a new duplex. We wanted to simplify our life by moving closer into town and buying a new home requiring less work. We love it! It is actually bigger than our old home but the yard is much smaller. We are closer to shopping and work. We no longer have to take care of a big yard and swimming pool.
 
I miss my old neighborhood and the small town adjacent to it.  It was roomier and quieter. There were great places to walk and a lot less traffic. I especially miss the library. It was the best library in the world. I can still use it but take some time to drive there.  

I thought a new home would be less work but it is a lot of work setting it up. We moved 33 years of stuff. While we were selling our house, we had moved most of our stuff into storage to stage the house. It worked. We sold our house the first weekend. We discovered we liked the decluttered look so we put everything in a storage space in the new house’s basement except the basic furniture. Most of the stuff is staying in the basement, which means we really don’t need all that stuff. I am still  
sorting it out.

Deciding where to hang the pictures was really difficult. It was so hard to hammer a nail into those nice fresh clean walls. We still have a lot of stuff to hang but we are still thinking about it. 

The hardest thing has been decorating for the holidays. Everything is different and I need a lot less decorations.

 

I love the space in front of my front door and window. It has taken me a while but I have it just the way I like it. The brick of our house is cream with a pinkish tint so I have learned to stick with cream, pinks, purples, and dark reds. I bought a daisy bench from Lowes which was yellow. It looked horrible out there. I spray painted it cream and it looks fantastic!
 

 

For fall, I replaced my summer flowers with purple and white mums and added one pumpkin and a couple of standing scarecrows. I made a wreath for the door by wrapping a fall leaf garland around a large grapevine wreath. I placed bunches of cinnamon sticks all round it and tied them on with pretty fall ribbon in little bows. It smells so good!    Simple, festive, and easy to do! Good from early fall through Thanksgiving! 

                                                                  Simplify! I like it!
 
 



 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Alzheimer's Association Walk


Tomorrow morning, September 21st is the Alzheimer's Association walk in the Springfield area. It's purpose is to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer's disease for patient care, support, and research.

My father died from this disease and it is a truly devastating disease. He was a sweet, brilliant man who lost all control of his brain functioning bit by bit until he was not able to feed himself or even get out of bed. It was  most heartbreaking when he got to the point where he could not even recognize us.

Any one of us could get Alzheimer's. It develops slowly so you might not even know you have it. it cause the deterioration of healthy brain tissue. This leads to a decline in brain function which causes difficulty in functioning in day to day living. There are drugs and therapy which can help prolong functioning but research is needed to find out about the causes, prevention, and possible cure.

I will be walking with other people who care about ending Alzheimer's and wish to help raise the necessary funding to do so. Please join me or donate a few dollars to the Alzheimer's Association.

Lucky Bird Poop


Yesterday a bird pooped on me. I was riding my bike out on a trail when it happened so I couldn’t even wash it off. Then I thought, oh I think I heard that it is good luck for a bird to poop on you.
 

Not true! My day continued to go down hill after that. I read my horoscope and it was not a  good one. The computer program I was using would not work.  I turned on the oven to make lunch and smoke filled the house. The last time I baked, tomato sauce had spilled over and was now burning off the oven bottom creating a huge stink as well as smoke.  

The mail delivery did not bring me a check I was expecting. It did bring a much anticipated new purse. It was wrapped tightly in a box and when I pulled it out it, I created a 2 ½ inch scuff. I was so disappointed! 

The afternoon brought news that our friend who was fighting pancreatic cancer did not have a successful surgery. He had a bowel obstruction that could not be repaired and was given a feeding tube.  

I got in my car to go pick up a few groceries but it wouldn’t start. I called our mechanic and he said it sounded like the battery and he could stop by on the way home and try to jump it. He arrived at 5:30, tried to start it, and said it was the starter. He hit something under the hood with a hammer and we got it started. He said I needed to take it to his shop because it might not start again but he had to go home. I left it running in my garage while I called every one on my contact list to get a ride back home. No one answered their phones. My husband was at a bank function where you cannot use your phone and it was the commute from work/ dinner hour so no one else was available I guess. I decided to drive it over to the shop and take a taxi home and that worked just fine. 

After a dinner of scrambled eggs and toast, my oldest son called and told me his apartment had been robbed this afternoon and all his computers were stolen. He makes his living from working on his computer so this is truly bad news. He called the police and the pawn shops will be watching someone trying to sell his computers. However, he wants to come to live for awhile. Not sure if this is a good thing or bad but what can you do? 

I had a mostly sleepless night last night – upset stomach and nightmares.
 

Although today is a little depressing; it is cool and rainy outside and I am really tired; I am feeling a little more hopeful. It could be the xanax I took at 5am this morning to get back to sleep but I think I overlooked all the good things that happened yesterday.  It was a beautiful sunny day, I had time to take an enjoyable bike ride out in the country, I received a lovely anniversary card from my mother, I have a really nice, talented mechanic, today is my 33rd wedding anniversary, I am healthy,  it is a whole new day and I have a whole new attitude. 

May we all have a happy and peaceful day today!